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Monday, April 27, 2009

Long way home

I said to Dj as we walked on Brighton Ave, 'Coming up on my blog, next'
He laughed, ‘Tu kahi meri le to nahi rahi?’ I protested, ‘Come on ! Nahi yaar.’

It is not the first time someone’s car got towed. But it is not about the chain of events. It is about assuming collective responsibility. It was his treat and his car. And I felt bad about that. I wanted to help when we went to pick cash from the ATM but he pushed me away saying ‘Don’t do that. It is my car, my responsibility’ I couldn’t help it, I tried to reason, ‘ …but we were all in it !!’

Given his old age chivalry, I should have known that he wouldn’t take money, not from a girl. A dude who is particular about how you dress when you are out with him, and fusses if someone cusses in front of you, wouldn’t.

Last evening, I was supposed to pick grocery with one of the few good friends I had made at the university. Good friend: someone who is there with you both on your good and bad times. And it is not just the campus life, a quarter century later, I have come across very few people who do that. Anyways, this is going to be long if I digress so much. More terms from my private dictionary later.

Dj asked me if I’d like to go to a temple before we went to Shaw’s to pick the groceries. I agreed. I haven’t been to a temple in a long while. I am not a very religious person, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith. I have great belief in the ability of men to do both good and evil. Since I am a believer of actions, Swami Vivekananda’s discourses have great relevance in my spiritual domain. I didn’t read Gita for religious purposes. I read it when I was in school, before my ICSE exams because I wanted to understand the philosophy of action.

Having said that, I was a bit disappointed about how religion is conducted in most parts of my country. I lived near a Sanatan dharma (literal: the eternal religion) temple in Noida. The richness of the temple was not exemplary, but the priests seemed very obvious about their preference for people who could donate bigger bundles to the ‘bhet’ box. In the house of God, everyone should be equal. From the mendicant, to the filthy rich- that should be the purpose of religion- to preserve the humanness and love and respect for your fellow beings- even if you are a poor man with money. But that is just me. I pray sometimes. I want to feel connected to a source of power bigger than my comprehension. I just don't like mediums, with human flaws.

My mother doesn’t let me take a mid-term test without first offering sweets to the Gods. I have never seen my father enter a temple; he’d rather wait outside while we prayed. But he never imposed his views on any of us. And he let my mother believe whatever she wanted. We had all kinds of religious festivals at home- Laxmi Puja, Saraswati Puja, Durga Puja – I even looked forward to them as a kid. And I still miss being at home when the Autumn Goddesses arrive.

So, I went. It is a Laxmi temple at Framingham. And it is beautiful. There were five of us. We prayed, we got the tika and we had the prasad, before we drove back to Boston hollering out Hindi film songs. DJ requested me to sing first, but I warned: Don’t do that, you know I don’t stop when I start. And I asked one of the other friends to testify. However, he insisted and I dragged one of the other enthusiastic friends who had already started displaying his vocal skills , into a duet. I suggested, ‘Why don’t we all sing?’ There were many moments, but ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ beats them all. You never know how your voice sounds in a chorus. Right from the days of my singing in a choir of the school assembly I realized it. But there are certain songs that you love to shout out in unison. They let me sing a few myself when we started playing Rapid ( the one where you pick words from a previous song and sing another) It was funny because Devansh kept breaking the words into syllables and added another syllable to create a new word which he plugged into his songs, claiming it was a valid way to play. How we played it didn’t matter, the idea was to have fun.

We teased him about replacing ‘kehna’ with ‘karna’ in his songs, and I exclaimed: Tu hamesha karne pe kyu aa jata hai?’ Dj observed: ‘He is desperate’. To which he sang: ‘I am a despo dancer.’ All in a friendly banter. It seemed like good fun, something I hadn’t have since I last saw my cousins together- years ago.

Most of the junta wanted to go to Qdoba, the Mexican grill. We knew one near NEU. But it had just closed down at 10 pm when we arrived. So, we went to ‘Indian Dhaba’. The food was oily, spicy and goooood. Very much like what we get back at home. Dj offered: My treat. It was the occasion of his H1B being approved. If you are an immigrant trying to make a future in another country, your visa status is probably THE most important concern of your life for a long time. Until you decide to marry a citizen and get a green card. We met someone at the restaurant who had done just that. Apparently, he was a senior from my school who had graduated before I joined the program.

I wished my parents on their anniversary and told SG that I am having dinner out, ' Will call back when I reach home.' Another event was- we had banarasi pan when we were done with the dinner. We explained to some other people in the restaurant what it was. The leaves weren’t fresh, but the extra helping of sweet jelly made it lovable. I always asked my father to let me have a pan when we dined out in India. He always obliged. It is a secret indulgence of my own.

We were right across the street when I wondered aloud: Where’s Dj’s car? Someone remarked, ‘Must be behind the van’ I walked around fearing the worst: did someone steal it? When we walked to the parking lot, we saw the signs: 'Parking Limit 1 hour.' There was a contact number of the towing company. We wondered why we hadn’t seen the signs when we had walked out, and then we gathered that we had all walked out of the car and crossed the street while the posts were behind us. So that when we came back we could look like fools.

DJ said that all of us needn’t walk 1 mile. Fortunately, the GPS was still with him and the tow shop was open 24 hrs. One of us accompanied him, while the remaining three waited at a convenience store. Two of them picked ice creams and I picked a Leanin’ Tree card sans occasion.

They rescued the car and it was an hour later than I had expected to be at home. DJ apologized for wasting my study time. I laughed and said: It was quite an adventure.

I was too tired to study for my Marketing Communications test (on Tuesday) anymore. I just crashed on my bed after calling up SG. He said: At least it isn't as bad for your driving license as getting a speeding ticket. That guy always sees the best in things.


Sumit said...

aha!! reading about you guys speeding away while singing songs and Top Gun anthem in the background. A knock on the doors of memory here. :) Yet to do that in London (though we have done the same in the public bus :P)
While, it is sad that the car got towed away, at least it wasn't stolen, which would have been a far worse experience.
Oh as far as good friends go, I must say its not always easy find the lot, but the ones who have been good friends always find at least one good friend, wherever they go :)
A good friend was perhaps one of the first valuable lesson I learnt, I guess when was asked by a teacher at school (i was 5, i suppose) what my name meant. poor mum, she faced a barrage of questions. :D

candid diary said...

Your dad is definitely not alone, not anymore.