Thursday, October 23, 2008

A diwali at home...away from home!

Can’t believe it’s already winters in Chicago. It seems like yesterday when I landed in a snow covered Chicago and now already the evenings are getting shorter and mornings are getting colder. Getting out of bed takes a lot of afford. Today morning while aimlessly walking around the house, putting things on their place with robotic movements, I looked outside and saw a clear blue sky, leaves falling down in a spiral motion as if delaying the fall for as long as possible. I opened our patio window and step out from the warm comfort of my home into the windy cold weather…and as soon as I did that the cold air filled my lungs and I wrapped my arms around myself.

Standing there all by myself… I could suddenly smell the cold, crisp air of Udaipur. The old, white gate opened and I screamed “SPIKKYYYYY” and my dog comes running outside, welcoming me to a place where I belong. He is all over me, licking all my face and to balance myself I have to sit down which is a big mistake because now he doesn’t want to leave me. My sister, binnu comes out to control spiky and manages to free me from his loving doggie-hug! Then comes a loving hug from binnu, a teary hug from my mom, a side hug from my father, big arm hug from my brother, a long lost hug from a sister whom I am meeting after a long time and a pat on my head from chacha….I am home.

The moment I step in I could smell the delicious sweetness of jalebis, the spicy kachoris and dhokle and my stomach starts grumbling from the anticipation of what’s coming! The moment I lay my plate with all the goodies, spiky takes his favorite place, on my feet to beg for all that we are eating!!! Sometimes I wonder if it would be a good idea to place a plate for him on the table! Atleast we could have our own share without feeling guilty of eating without giving him anything. Attacking the breakfast table I gather all the news of what’s happening in Udaipur. Everyone seems to be either doing great or good or bad…the usual.

All the relatives will be landing in Udaipur for Diwali soon… there are going to be loads of parties, good food, loads of dancing and loads of fun. Nothing out of usual but then this usual makes me feel at home. Seems the time never moves ahead in Udaipur but then for me the time flies. Binny and I get down to our annual routine of doing rangoli at our house on the day of Diwali. Binny is usually super excited and I am super lazy. She coxes me to think about which design, what colors and we end up digging our grandmother’s treasure from previous Diwali and take out our colors, designs and some crackles left from previous festival. My brother, Vaibhav, gets excited and starts burning the crackles early. Spiky, our super-dog, comes running from inside all set to attack the source of noise and I look at them laughing, enjoying the madness and happiness this festival brings. The rangoli takes whole day to finish but satisfied that we did a good job; we call everyone from inside and gather the obvious praises!

Now comes the most important part…what to wear in the evening. I decide on saree from my mom’s treasure and binny decides a lehnga from her treasure! My mom puts on her half glass and starts to fix her blouse for my size and while she is doing this I and binny lie on her lap. We discuss everything from my life, binny’s life and life in Udaipur. That is the happiest moment in my life. Makes me want to never grow up! But someone really gets jealous…suddenly jumps on the bed and makes his presence felt, rubbing his nose on mom’s hand and barks to let everyone know… I am the one who has the right to all the love and attention…mom just smiles and pats on spiky’s head! Jealous dog!

Papa comes in from a day full of shopping for dry fruits, sweets, kaju katlis and most of all loads of pujas at his different office locations! He takes a pillow, rests his head on the bed rest and before we know, his snoring fills the room like fragrance from an incense stick! Binny and I hug papa and wake him up from his deep slumber! He doesn’t get irritated but just smiles and rolls back to his beauty sleep. We let him rest…he is our pandit for the day!

Atlast we get ready for the puja and there is no puja without the chaos! Chacha and papa dressed in kurta pajam set the place for puja. Vaibhav does the setting of things in place around puja place, I and Binny light the diyas and mummy places them outside. The puja starts and with everyone even spiky takes his place. The commotion continues during puja…do this, no don’t do this right now…where is the lacha, where are the silver coins…chacha says the Sanskrit shlokes while papa and mummy performs the puja. As soon as puja is over, I and binny rush inside to change in more comfortable clothes to burn the crackles. Outside the air is cold and filled with the smell of burning crackles.

A “Hello” from a person passing in front our house, brings me back to Chicago. Standing there in cold, shivering…I went to Udaipur and came back. Suddenly Udaipur feels so far and unreachable. In the cold, dry air of Chicago, I could smell the air of Udaipur. I am missing home… even though I am at home…