Monday, November 8, 2010

Diwali - the festival of lights

The 5th of November, is Diwali (actually Deepavali) , the festival of lights. Diwali is celebrated to commemorate the victory of good over evil. During Diwali, we light oil lamps(clay lamps usually) called diya. We also burst crackers, wear new clothes and share sweets.

There are many stories surrounding the festival. In the north of India, it is the day Lord Rama returned with Sita and Lakshmana to Ayodhya following his 14 year long exile in the forest after vanquishing the Rakshasa(demon) king, Ravana, thereby tilting the scales towards goodness. In the south of India, it is celebrated as the day Lord Krishna defeated Narakasura(the Asura king) in battle.

Jains and Sikhs also celebrate Diwali. It marks the attainment of moksha by Lord Mahavira and hence is a joyous occassion for the Jains. For Sikhs, it commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amritsar after freeing 52 Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by defeating Emperor Jahangir.

So, Deepavali is celebrated in all parts of India and in Nepal also.

The habit of bursting crackers stopped once we(my sisters and me) turned twenty or so. However, we do celebrate Diwali, by waking up early, having a bath and praying to God. We get in touch with our family and wish each other.

For most people in India, Diwali is the grandest festival. Companies pay bonus during Diwali. All workers get a bonus actually (non-skilled workers). It is also the time when most families buy clothes, and in some cases, the only time when the whole family gets new clothes.

From childhood, I have seen the joy on people's face once it is September. First we have the pooja days (Navrathri). We pray to Goddess Sarasvathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi. We perform pooja for our books, asking Goddess Saraswathi, the Goddess of Learning to bless us. The next day, is Ayudha Pooja. we do pooja for all the implements we use - from the spanner and screwdriver by the electricians, to the axe-saw blade used by the carpenter, to the bus driven by the bus-driver. It is meant to signify that we hold these objects in esteem as they help in our livelihood. They are the tools which help us in our everyday life. For me, it is my books, my laptop and the stove I use in the kitchen, which help me in my everyday life. I thank that these things help me better myself and perform better. On Vijayadashami day, we pray to God and use these implements. Many children like me, started my education on this day. Most kids have their initiation(vidhyarambam) on this day. Then, a month later, it is time for Diwali. So, the festive mood that starts in September continues till Diwali every year.

I love the culture in India. There are so many festivals, reminding you and giving you the big picture. It helps you remain rooted and brings you closer with your family. It is also a time when we get holidays.........

The Sound of Metal ------ againnnnnnnn

Well, the bum of my car is jinxed. I will have to get an exorcist to get the devil away from it. After having been hit twice on the back, the finale was on 3rd November. We were driving to a wedding reception and had stopped the car at a signal and turned the engine off. The signal being 120 seconds, we, Arun and I believe in saving fuel and reducing the emission of harmful gases. So, we had switched off the car and were yapping away happily. Going for a wedding reception, my husband looked handsome in his formals and he said that I looked great in my silk saree. All other days, I hardly care to dress. All I think about in the mornings is cooking up breakfast and lunch, and dashing off to college. Sometimes, I am worse than a student. My hair is a complete mess when I reach the college, and if I remember, then I comb it. Else, that is my look through the day. So, I guess Arun was happy that for once, my hair was in place and I had worn a little jewellery, which again I do very very rarely. So, both of us were sitting there yapping about this and that when our world was shaken. There was a huge thud and both of us hit out heads against the roof, went forward and came down. Yes, fools that we were, we hadn't worn our seat belts(Please, please wear your seat belts even if you are dressed for your own wedding). An auto-rickshaw had come in full speed and hit us from behind, throwing us up and down, and our car had inturn hit the Maruti Zen that was standing in the signal a feet away in front of us. All this despite our car having had its hand brakes on. It took us two minutes to gather ourselves up. Both of us rubbing our heads, looked at each other and got out of the car. To find that our boot had caved in and our bonnet had sunk in. Thank god it was an Indica, made of heavy metal, and not our Maruti 800. It would have crumpled like paper and the auto might for all you know have been sitting comfortably next to us, all dead.

The driver said that the brakes didn't work. That was a total lie. He had either dozed off or was drunk and had rammed his vehicle into ours. The sound of metal was too much to bear. It rings even today, five days after in my head. Now, I am scared of other drivers, of their capacity to harm others, even when they are stationery. What can you do on the road if drivers don't care at all.

Luck is too much to place your life on. So, for this I turn to God. The only thing both of us were thankful about was that we were not hurt. The huge amount we have to pay(despite the insurance) is painful. But, it is okay compared to the fact that all of us are safe(The auto driver had hurt his teeth and nose, otherwise is fine. The elderly gentleman in the Maruti Zen was not hurt too).

Hope people drive safely and are as allergic to the sound of metal on metal as me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vacation Time

Back to college for work and now, am finally getting into the routine. The pace is very slow, hardly any motivation, thereby creating the need for self motivation.... which is difficult to come by. However, it is november after the exams and so, it is time for vacation. Yes, at the end of every semester, we get a vacation, two weeks during winter and four weeks during summer. It is one of the perks we get for being a teacher in a college. Okay, government staff get more. Six weeks in winter and eight weeks and more in summer.

I am excited and scared about the vacation. Excited because I have time for myself. Scared as to what I will do with all that time. With the last two years gone in a haze, having worked even on a sunday, I don't know what I will do for two weeks of total off. Shall I paint, or join some singing classes to continue something that I let off in school. Hmmmm..... or shall I read all the novels I wished to read in the last two years and kept putting off due to work. Or is it going to be hardcore research - software testing. Or shall I eat and sleep, thereby catching up on all that sleep I lost. Ya...... that will make everyone else jealous :). What am I supposed to do ?

I have been trying and trying to draw up a plan, but a few days have gone by in the trying to plan activity. At this rate, my vacation will pass me by.

Still trying to plan.....

Manufacturing defect

Yesterday, talking about students in the staff room, I heard a staff tell that a particular student somehow gets away with things. While others can't. Isn't this something that is heard so often, I thought ? Something that you experience at home, at the workplace, generally in life. You might be the hard working one, but someone else takes the laurels. Similarly in all spheres of life. In the class room, there are students who get away with their pranks, while others get thrashed(not literally) for playing a small one, that too innocuous. Then there are siblings, where one sibling gets beaten all the time, yet the one inflicting the injury gets away with it often. Meaning, besides getting beaten, the former takes the added hurt of being unprotected. Then, there is the workplace where every working person comes across this so often. Getting passed for a promotion, getting the back slap individually for team work. It happens even in the family. The person inflicting the hurt gets the sympathy whereas the one who goes through it, whose dignity and self respect gets eroded is blamed. Adding insult to injury.... is that what they call it. But that is light. In case of personal relationships, talking about it outside is difficult. However, if tears will run down your cheeks at the click of a button, or if you are old, or sick, then no matter how bad you are, sympathy is always with you.

Why is this so ? Each of us reads the proverb 'Never judge a book by its cover'. Still, how often do we do it. How often are we judged by our appearances. I remember my sister's experience. She was one who used to work hard and at the same time have fun, openly. She believed in that. However, I was a little different. I was someone who used to work, and have fun, however not openly. Especially in front of teachers. Out of their purview, I would have fun. Somehow, I separated the two. She joined the same college when I left, for the same course. And she being used to doing everything openly, got caught and often scolded. That was okay by her. The most injurious part was when the staff used to tell her how good a student I was and how bad she was. How they couldn't believe I had a sister like her. That caused her a lot of hurt. She used to keep complaining. I felt bad for her. I could not completely understand for I personally had not gone through such an experience. However, the hurt in her eyes revealed all.

Why can't people take others for what they are ? Why judge ? And especially, why base your judgement on the superflous, without knowing exactly what is going on ? When it happens to me, I wonder why people don't see the truth. Wonder why they are so blind. Why doesn't man use his experience when he relates to people. Each of us has definitely had an experience where we have been misjudged ? So, why not remember it when we are passing judgement on others ? Or is this the way we have evolved, with a defect. Manufacturing defect.