The Extra-ordinariness of being a North Eastern-er (in India)

I won't go on the clarion screaming how rich and diverse my background is.What is, is. No two ways about it.What happens with my brethren in the 'civilized' and powerful big cities of our country is unfortunate - we are paying for somebody else's insecurities.It's an abnormal hierarchy where negative energies are flowing in the reverse manner. I don't like the dung catching up.

Creating awareness is an archaic solution -  (at least in my opinion). The helpline is a relief though.

Is hitting back a solution then ? No,we belong to Gandhi's true blue Ahimsa culture, how ironic. So, a couple of my lady friends atop a rickshaw were leered at with "Chowmein-Momo" by a bunch of boys on bikes who were also trailing them - and this is in tehzeebi Lucknow.I mean, do you even know what Chowmein and Momo are?Anyway, those ignoramuses were not prepared for the outcome.My brave girl responded "Aloo Paratha". The exchange went on for a few minutes till the bikers decided to take to their heels.Now let me not compare the nutritional superiority of one over the other.The Problem got solved.So, today it was Chowmein-Momo, tomorrow it will be something else. Symptomatic, you see.The 'exotic' food that you accuse us of eating from Chowmein to Momo- methinks you splurge on  it and more  (sold out on labels like Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese) when you can afford a foreign holiday and it's a to-do in your sad checklist. 

A few years ago, two Indian girls (incidentally, they were from Manipur) were molested in broad daylight near Mumbai's Gateway of India. You and I know how many girls/women are assaulted in broad daylight and otherwise by so many who possess a d***, some by their male protectors at home, at work, in life - those kind of news get covered too, while many get brushed under the carpet even if the husband is raping the daughter. But trust the yellow journalists to sensationalize the molestation news because 'we' look different.WTH. Oh, by the way a friend called me up from Mumbai saying his heart reached out to me when he heard the news and therefore, called to check if i was safe. I was in safe Shillong then. I asked him what's wrong with him. 

A sexual assault is a sexual assault. Don't try to infuse greater ramifications by branding 'us' different and the clothes we wear and the "free" culture as you ignorantly put it.I think the closest 'free' culture you have seen is the Osho cult, with due apologies. What kind of culture do you want to talk about - about keeping women gagged in the house like sex toys and child (sons preferably,if not, more dowry) producing machines, illiterate and subservient? Is that your idea of an ideal woman? Possibly your mother was not raised so well to teach you how to respect a woman. I blame your mother. 

Clothes again, a matter of choice and keeping up with the times. Stop the double standards. In your wildest fantasy, you want to see god knows whom - your wife/girlfriend/sister/mother/cousin/aunt is forbidden to dress in anything Western since it is parampara ki khilaaf. So chance pe dance with anyone with different and otherwise looks who does not resemble your wife or sister ? You don't even spare your maid. You don't spare anyone in sari, leave alone western clothes.And when you get your ticket to videsh- you live a western life that you so loathed in India. You probably have some more to-dos in your sad checklist but the fear of the firang law keeps your tongue from too much wagging. Then, you cry foul - racism and blah!How ungrateful, after picking up that accent!Your parents did not teach you where to draw the line - tch tch, must have been poor in Geometry (Geography, we are not even discussing - we know you are a goner).

Go to the North East of India once ( I know, you won't). Because you think you will be skinned alive or shredded by a bomb. You think there are elephants walking all over, fantastic Shikari Shambhu imagination i must say! For the record, our men and women get educated, go to work and also, take care of the elderly and the aged. The old age homes are few and far between. And, the inmates are sadly from your part of the country.We are also cleanliness freaks, an example for all of you. We have regular community cleaning drives. You might want to adopt that as a best practice. We are very eco-conscious and stubborn when it comes to preservation and conservation. We are, in plain terms, more confident than your father.We are friendly not easily available, helpful but not dumb,self-sufficient but not junglee, and respectful and not of loose character as you dismiss in your crude and limited understanding. We don't go raid someone else's larder. 

This fad of fasting,with due respect and apologies, is most annoying. Most "concerned people" have become caricatures setting down conditions for just about everything  and everyone - from Telangana to Lokpal. And, look at Irom Sharmila.Non-violent and still persevering following her heart and doing her duty as a daughter of the soil.I'm afraid how revolutionary it can get. A certain Hazare and a lousy Baba are playing the KBC of media attention.

A few days before i flew out of Hyderabad, i was in the University waiting to meet the librarian, a familiar lady clerk remarked - Oh, you look so Indian.I was in salwars with basic bridal jewellery and a bindi. I said, thanks for certifying but no thanks, I am a fairer Indian than her. She was ??? I told her she looked Sri Lankan. She was flabbergasted. I patted her on the back. You get the drift.

Now, this happened in downtown Sunnyvale a week ago. We stopped by to grab samosas at Tikka Masala. While the owner handed the parcel to us, he warmly  asked us where we were from.My husband remarked India. Then the man turned to me and asked me -what about you, ma'am?I was in kurta  and jeans with my mangalsutra popping out..ah let me recollect, i also had some vermilion and a small bindi on my forehead. I smiled. He tried to be helpful by saying Singapore. I became wide-eyed. Perhaps, east India, Kolkata? Ok, you look East Indian, Kolkattan.I wanted to end his agony, i told him i'm a pseudo Bong. Ah, he confidently confirmed i won't understand if he spoke Bengali since he can speak Bengali and that he is from Nepal. My husband was petrified at what an explosion it was going to be. He preferred to play Buddha. Longer smiles. The owner did the dreadful thing of asking me Kemon acchho (How are you? - in Bengali). He got a huge helping in Bengali. I liked the result - a red-faced lobster look.Now, that's exotic! I asked him to do his homework and find out where east India and Kolkata are and how far is Singapore from there? I'll check on him in my next visit - his samosas are the closest to any Indian samosa here. Sigh!

So, cheers to the Extra-ordinariness of  being a North Eastern-er everywhere!

Flight to SF and how i met my husband

No major travel is complete without that famous checklist of what to carry and what not to,since it is a 'system'-driven over-exalted country -yes,the USA.Some things here are good, some average, most below average and you have the below below-averages too. I tried to be  practical by not getting all that i wanted  but it has driven my husband nuts why i didn't. For the record, i didn't carry some of my nice shoes,perfumes, bags and any of my junk jewellery( what they sell here is @$$%$$%^) especially if one has had the experience of having haggled with Afghani and Burmese peddlers and Indian karigars from semi-precious stones to terracotta to wound-metal and beads to bamboo to carved wood, of course not forgetting old forgettable trinket shops from across the country. I carried everything else, at least i think so - memories, love and wishes. 

My flight was smooth with sleep. I slept, ate, drank lots of water and watched 6.5 movies - Unknown, Just go with it, Tron Legacy, Switched, The Tourist and The Apartment and bits of Tangled.I had an extra seat next to me and no celebrity on board .

At SF, immigration was smooth though the officer remarked i didn't look Indian as much as i wanted to reciprocate he didn't look American AT ALL. In 20mins, i was out at the lounge.

So, Friday afternoon US time, there is no one waiting for me at the lounge with flowers and music. No familiar smiling face. I had Mohini for company who was waiting for her brother and her dad. 

Then, i dial him. Baap re, Airtel ISD roaming, that too, outgoing.
Where are you? 
Ah, you have reached? 
Yes, i cant see you!
Look around, you will see me - with a balloon and flowers :O)
Gosh! - Mohini found it so cute and romantic, i wanted to run away. Sweet gal!
Then, a sunflower balloon sailed in with a bunch of pink tiger lilies.And believe me, if it was an Indian airport it would not have looked any different. Just that, i didn't see any CCD or Baskin Robbins around. Here, it stood out. And, there was the familiar smiling face. I remember Mohini egging me to run and hug him amidst 'oh-my-god!' I was like no way - this is so hilarious and, embarrassing, of course.

I smiled and wondered at how i travelled round the globe to be with him.The first words were - where is the restroom?

Said a quick bye to Mohini and we were on the road. My seat had 2 lovely Dutch roses and I was Cupid-struck again. Flowers from him are very special. So, i have to tell you this. He is not the kind to buy flowers for me regularly.For the record, I have sent him flowers. He got me a Minnie Mouse balloon the first time we went out for coffee. He got me a toolkit in one of my housewarming parties and a travel adapter on one occasion. Flowers are few and far between. So you get the drift.

I got myself a nice pair of pink Adidas running shoes, not to show off ( but, of course) but to protect my feet.Pink does me in. Had lahori aloo naan and aloo palak for 16 dollars - he kept asking me not to do the dollar-rupee conversion like i could avoid. I wanted to start cooking from that Saturday - so we went shopping - again the conversion syndrome hit me.Prepared suji ka halwa for puja and poha for breakfast. Lunch was dal,roti, chawal and baingan ka bhaja. Watched Kungfu Panda 2, kinda disappointed at its Bollywood trail.

Sunday weather prediction was not so encouraging but i needed to get over my jetlag.Besides vegetable shopping at a Sunday organic farmers' market Hubby dear drove us to Brentwood for U-pick cherry-berry farm experience. Shop shut thanks to the sad weather, we bought a couple pounds of apricots and cherries for a dear price - lesson, manual labour is costly.On our way back, he took me to Milpitas thinking i'd want to shop.I was not particularly thrilled looking around. Each American resembles the other in style, size and appetite. A very consumerist society who does not know what to do in the weekend - except come shop, eat and go party like mad - and of course, egos massive as your neighbour's elephant. Got  my socks and jeans, and 3 perfumes,ate a croissant and drove home. Jetlagged still.

Missing my hallu-hallu Hyderabad.