Sadda Punjab da tour

About time I updated you on what I’ve been up to.

Metallica. The biggest regret this side of 30. Bigger regret? The way the media and the rest of the country took a certain glee in the cancellation of the show. We were there guys. Loads of us. What people forget is that there is a certain crowd that goes for Metallica – and almost all of them are over 30! Even my dad listened to Metallica in his youth. We saw so many fathers and sons – reminded me of my brother and dad coming to watch Deep Purple, years ago. We waited for hours on the road, we commented on the flimsy barriers. We walked in and were shocked to hear the organisers tell people that the show is cancelled, go home. At this point nothing had happened. We were all there, just waiting. And then when the crowd roared and asked why, no response came, just a – Get the f**k out, back off Buttheads.  Nice. Racism at its best. Of course when the show was cancelled the news, twitter and FB were full of, ‘what else do you expect from Delhi.’ And yet, two days later they reaped the benefits of an F1 with nary a thought of Delhi, filling the same headlines with – India we’re proud of you (not Delhi we’re proud of you, I see!)! Nice. It’s always amusing to sit back and watch people grab credit that is not theirs and heap criticism where none is due.

All of us had planned this ages ago – a big get together culminating in the biggest show of ours lives. A shippie friend signing off the ship earlier than planned, friends flying in from Bombay and London. Others taking leave and catching trains across the country. We had a huge brunch planned at my place and were as excited as a bunch of five year olds at a birthday party, mattresses on the floor to accommodate the extra crowd. Metallica blasting through my house and my kids running around from Uncle to Aunty to Uncle, meeting people they’d never met and building new bonds with my old friends. After the cancellation we went into mourning. I saw tears in some eyes.  This wasn’t something we’d expected to experience in this lifetime, so I guess the high and then the low were more than most people could handle. We slowly exited the cordoned off area, men helping ladies to leave first, got into our cars and left, heading home for a quiet drink and chat.

Yes, we got back the money, but how do they plan to recompense us for the time, disappointment and mismanagement?

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We took three days off and attended the OA’s colleague’s wedding in Punjab. I love Punjabi weddings. So much fanfare, awesome snacks and fantastic food. I’ve been saying for years that I want to visit the Golden Temple and this seemed a God-given opportunity so we did Amritsar-Ludhiana-Patiala-Ambala in 3 days. It was madness.

The arrangements were lovely and the venue was done up beautifully

At one point, the kids just collapsed over the suitcases and slept. But they were as usual, as good as gold on the trip – it’s only at home that they test my patience, it would seem! Eating whatever was on offer, falling asleep in autos and tempos and thankfully wanting to do their big job only when a bathroom was conveniently available.

Exhausted kids draped over suitcases - the OA gives the Bean a back rub!

We went to Jallianwala Bagh first. I almost wish we hadn’t. It’s stayed on in my mind and I still ache when I remember it. You sit there in the warm, peaceful winter sunshine and watch your kids chase butterflies and it’s a little hard to believe the carnage the place witnessed. A shiver ran down my spine as I walked down the narrow passage leading into it. It was hard not to look over my shoulder for trouble. I’d recommend everyone visit that place once in their lifetime, instead of the Taj Mahal – maybe it should be mandatory for all Indians to go there and spend an hour. Just to soak in the ghosts of the past and know what our country has been through. Because you can read about the crawling order, but it’s only when you walk around the park that your skin crawls with the horror, and the injustice that has gone unavenged. I am guessing even Hell spat General Dyer out. Maybe things would have been different if I were not a mother, but it gave me nightmares after we left the place. I stood there imagining the women shrieking and throwing their children to the ground, covering them with their bodies. I could hear Dyer give the order to shoot low so that the ground was peppered with bullets until the babies were shot through their mothers’ bodies. I was glad they’d covered up the Matyr’s Well because I felt this sudden urge to throw myself into it in frustration. What went through the minds of the people who flung themselves into the well when the shooting began? You walk around the little park and even the warm sun can’t rid your bones of the chill when you see the holes in the walls and the little signs saying – This is where the soldiers fired from. These are the bullet marks. In those few hours I went through a range of emotions, mostly rather violent and vengeful.

I was there

 

I can only hope I never know the kind of despair that makes me think flinging myself into a well is a better option. God rest their souls.

 

And there you have it in the simplest words

 

The narrow lane into the park that Dyer blocked and fired from.

 

The bullet holes are marked in white. Just in case you aren't feeling miserable enough.

 

It looks so calm and peaceful now. It's like a silent scream we're missing.

I was so unprepared for the Jallianwala experience (why is it that no one who went there speaks about it?) and to make matters worse I was reading Shauna Singh Baldwin‘s prize winning novel, What The Body Remembers. I am ashamed to say I’d never heard of her and just happened to pick up the book at the airport bookshop. It lay by my bedside until I ran through whatever else was there. I had by then lost interest in reading it but about ten pages in I was absorbed and then we left for Punjab. The coincidence was too much.  The story of Sardarji whose wife Satya cannot give him an heir, marrying the young, poor Roop who promptly fulfills her purpose and produces a variety of them for him to pick and choose from. I’m amazed at the way a Canadian author takes us back by 60 plus years and places us in their home. Sardarji reminds me of so many Indians who were more English than the English themselves. While a lot of it is about the intriguing and politicking within a family where two women fight for their rights, the backdrop is Partition. And reading about it made my blood curdle. Trains pulling in, just as we’ve all grown up hearing, with blood dripping out of the doors. Dead bodies piled up. Women raped and their wombs cut out – symbolic. I suddenly remembered the petulant little Madrasan’s letter over some silly slight, telling the Delhi boy that his dead grandmother’s ghost would think Partition was less traumatic. So lightly the words were tossed into the great www, with no thought for what Partition actually meant, for the losses and the pain. I was tempted to send her a ticket to Punjab and a copy of the book.

I strongly recommend the book to those who care for a good read. An absorbing, well-researched, beautifully written book that seemingly incidentally gives us an idea of our history. It makes you appreciate the hard won independence and freedom a lot more. And yes, lets call it freedom because it was nothing less than slavery. And in all that catching of trains and buses I also read Indu Sundaresan’s The Splendor of Silence.  Again, it tells of a lovely story between an Indian girl and an American soldier, set in pre-Independence days and I’m afraid I’ve rather childishly gone off the British. Childishly because its long past and there is really nothing to be done about it now, is there?

I also find myself unable to read any fiction about contemporary India. I’ve tried, dragged through ten pages and then realised my heart is not in it. Doesn’t help that most of my friends and acquaintances are writing books and I am unable to read anything in this period and feeling really bad about it.

Anyway, next up the Durgiana Temple. I was quite surprised to find that it was an exact copy of the Golden Temple but somehow didn’t hold the same attraction. What broke my heart was that they had a troupe singing inside the temple and three little kids dressed up as Ram, Sita and Hanuman, dancing to their music in a tired, dispirited way. They couldn’t have been older than 6, faces painted and eyes dull, they moved slowly to the music.

The Golden Temple was beautiful as expected but madly crowded. It was a Saturday and the entire world and it’s wife were there. Somehow the peace I was seeking eluded me in the mad rush. We did find a quiet corner to sit down, but I wish we’d gone on a less crowded day – I’d waited too long for this and was slightly disappointed not to get the calm I was looking for. Even so, it’s one thing off my bucket list and I can die a little easier.

 

The Bean thinks this is all a big picnic organised for her benefit and tries to catch the massive fish swimming in the lake


The one I fondly call, And who will watch the watchmen. Yes, I'm unoriginal like that.

 

The crowds we didn't have the guts to brave

The last day at Patiala was spent shopping like a maniac. I did the kind of thing only I could do – realised that I had packed two gold left foot sandals. I  had to wear my rubber slippers under my saree, the OA horrified at his reputation being ruined. We managed to find a shoe shop at the last minute and pick up a pair of plain gold slip-ons with a slight heel. I felt really guilty shopping after having spent the previous few hours buying up every phulkari dupatta and patiala salwar I laid eyes on. And then promptly and rather absent-mindedly left all the shopping behind at a store. Only to make a mad rush to collect it since we were leaving at 5am the next morning. Leave it to me to take a merely packed trip into the realm of absolute hysteria.

The one place that didn’t impress me was the Wagah border. Again perhaps because it was too crowded and I hate crowds. I didn’t see the point of the screaming and shouting of slogans on either side. What did give me a lump in the throat strangely, was the most innocuous thing – a road sign we passed on the way to the border saying, Lahore 24 kms. As if to say it was the most natural thing on earth to drive down to Lahore for lunch with friends. I have made so many blogging friends from Pakistan that I couldn’t believe they were a bare 25 minute drive away. So close yet so far away. I felt such a range of emotions on the trip that I was close to becoming a basket case.

Speaking of crowds I’ve become really weird. I find myself no longer just uncomfortable in crowds (be the pubs or places of worship) but in one on one conversations. Is it me or do people just stand too close now? I find myself moving further and further away from people and it seems like everyone is doing it. Maybe my boundaries for physical space are just changing.

We also ended up befriending a Japanese family at the wedding. They had two kids, around the same age as the Brat and the Bean and it was the most heart-warming sight to see them play with each other. Proof that you don’t need to speak the same language to communicate. They made up their own strange gibberish and fell about laughing at their own clownish-ness. We found out that they were booked back via Delhi and had nowhere to stay and so invited them to spend the last 8 hours or so before their fight at our place. They were a little surprised by our willingness to invite strangers home but happily grabbed the offer, grateful that they didn’t have to spend that time touring the city in a cab to while away time. And so we’ve made some new friends.

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The weeks ahead promise to be busy with my knee getting worse, as winter sets in. The good dermatologist tells me my hair is probably falling due to the lack of Vit D and calcium. Apparently it all comes back to that deficiency. And here’s the cherry on the cake – I might have a hole in my ear drum. Why God, why?!

The kids are flourishing with me at home and are turning more social than ever, to the point of being painful! Walking up to strangers and talking to them, introducing themselves and generally giving me nightmares over their safety. They insist on hugging everyone they meet. I’ve become a regular fixture at the bus stop and the two kids have taken to jumping off the last step of the bus into my arms, something my knees can’t take but my heart won’t let me stop. Somedays motherhood threatens to fill me up to bursting point and I smile into the warm winter sunshine and forget my various aches and pains. Life is good.

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76 thoughts on “Sadda Punjab da tour

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, so good to see you back with a bang!! I teared up reading about Jallianwala bagh, oh MM, how beautifully you write!! I don’t have anything say, except, lots of love to you and your lovely kids. BTW I emailed you, I am coming to India in Dec, if you need anything from US, please let me know, will be happy to get it your way.

    Deepa

    • Thanks Deepa. I haven’t been checking the other id and no thank you, I need nothing – so sweet of you to ask.
      And I only write ‘well’ when I care, I realise.You can see the lack of interest in other posts 🙂

  2. I hope you are taking supplements of vit D & calcium at least! Yogurt has a lot of calcium. Ask me, I shall tell you 🙂
    Did you actually wear rubber chappals to the wedding? and the OA didn’t faint?? 😀
    You know what angers me about this Nehru, Manmohan Singh et al..where is the bloody anger in them? Their effin’ dialogue hasn’t changed yaar… since 1919 for crying out loud!! Every time there is a massacre like this all they can say is “this is very unfortunate and we are very sad” ..Really, that’s all?
    I have come to think that it’s ok even if these clowns don’t do anything about these things but where the hell is the salt and mirch that they take with their food?

    • I did wear them (!) but the OA was horrified because it was his colleague and bought me heels on the way to the wedding. Damn saree went up two inches :-/

      And yes, it makes me angry. Very angry. Our lives are so worthless. But what can you say to them when it seems like people around us also have no appreciation for what its taken us to get here?

  3. If the Jallianwala Bagh bothered you, you should visit the concentration camps in Poland (Auschwitz) and Germany(Sachsenhausen). It shook me completely and I felt how humans could commit such horror to each other.

    Great to see you guys could do such a packed tour. And stop worrying so much, I guess the Bean and Brat may be actually doing it seeing how much it bothers you (just a thought)

    • Stop worrying so much about what? I’m confused.

      And no.. I don’t think I could handle seeing the concentration camps. It will be the death of me. Some people feel too much and I’m one of them. With the least bit of sorrow I have sleepless nights, my face breaks out in huge boils and I have puffy eyes thanks to the tears. No, I’m not a strong person.

      • Hi MM,
        Sorry had to say it here, while it is very sad (for lack of a better word) that the Jews were killed in such large numbers… I hate it when someone compares anything and everything to that and say – ‘See now this doesnt look as bad does it..’ approach. How does it make a difference? Did the mother protecting the baby during Jallainwalla bagh say ‘Gee atleast I am not being gased?’ And you are right we need to talk more about stuff like this, no one will remember. This ain’t something you can afford to forget – the price paid was too high. Sorry just had to say it.

  4. See we always knew you had a hole in your head, and sure enough they found it 🙂 🙂 hole in the eardrum isn’t a big thing usually: many people have small pinholes thanks to infections gone bad, the holes usually heal by themselves. Only of concen if you have a hole large enough to affect hearing….post pics of patialas lady!

    • ha ha… you’re so dead. And it’s pretty bad. Have been in pain and most nights the damn head swirls with pain as I turn from side to side. They’ve put me on this crazy medicine that makes my heart race. As though I needed that!

      PS: naughty. no pics of patialas for people who make fun of my obvious insanity

  5. Woww! A beautiful MM post. I can’t praise your writing enough. Let me say it again…I “see” what you write…if you know what I mean. So much of India to see and so ashamed to say that I have barely been anywhere in India:(

    • Thank you Rads 🙂 And yes..so much to see. Don’t be ashamed, just start seeing. I am now also keen on Orchha and Mandu and a dozen other tiny places. How will I ever end up seeing them all?

      • You see those places and blog about it…..your readers will feel they have been there too! I dream of returning to India and then spending a leisurely year just traveling there 🙂 Maybe it will be just that….a dream…until then there’s your blog. Can you believe I have never been to Delhi but already am in love with the place ….thanks to you!

  6. Nice read MM.
    did u get to try out the dhabas in punjab? simple amazing food.
    i was recently in Patiala and shopped like crazy at the AC market, now i have loads of new suits and am waiting for occasions to wear them 🙂

  7. Hi,
    A rare commenter on your blog – thank you for starting up your posts again, I really do enjoy reading your blog.
    I also wanted to recommend Shauna Singh Baldwins next book – The Tiger Claw. Also heart-rending, and with a real historical woman (the story is fictional though) who fought for the British during WW2, being of South Asian descent.

    I am like you though, and dont deal well with difficult emotions. I am not really from India/Pakistan, but I dont think I could have visited the bagh and kept any emotions in check… thank you for a beautifully written description.

    Take care of your knees! 🙂

  8. Its decided…next India holiday will be in the Punjab complete with running in the mustard fields and chugging down mammoth glasses of lassi.
    About Metallica, why were the media and other people gleeful? Plain old schadenfreude? Was also appalled at what happened in Bangalore where the backpacks left unattended in the dirt.

  9. Dear MM

    Glad that you had a nice time. Of course every time I hear or read about Jallianwaala bagh it is a bone chilling experience.

    Loved the way you ended your post about the kids jumping into your arms.

    What a blessing indeed. 🙂

    warm wishes

    Anu

  10. Wow. That felt like lying in the winter sun and reading a nice lovely long book. You are a witch! I soooo miss winters here in Bangalore. But then I cribbed in Delhi about the heat so I guess it’s more my fault than Bangalore’s. I’ve been to Amritsar once for a few hours and we managed to visit the Golden Temple and the Wagah border. The temple was lovely but the border was just so-so. Too much crowd, it was boiling hot (we went in May and the hot stone bunches burnt my bum even through my jeans). Wish we had gone to Jallianwalah Baagh instead. Though if reading about it is so painful then I can’t imagine what going there must be like.
    I read an article somewhere that our becoming so particular about sun-screen has lead to vit D deficiencies in a lot of people. Hope you’re able to sort that out soon. As for the ear, now you have a perfect excuse to ignore the things you don’t want to hear.

  11. I did a run-away trip on a whim to Amritsar, a month before I got married, because for some reaosn I was convinced Id never go after 🙂 And we ended up going on a weekday, and it was glorious. Im not a very “religious” person and very rarely visit places of worship, unless theyre particularly interesting. But I have been drawn to the Golden Temple for years, and I was lucky to experience it when it wasn’t maddeningly crowded, and the peace I felt is like nothing I ever have before. The pathway to the main shrine itself though, was just like in your pictures, and I braved it because having gone that far all the way from Bangalore, I didnt want to miss out. The prashad was to dieeee for. And of course I also gorged on the lassi and paranthas and cholle. I came away with some lovely pictures and memories from the trip. We did also give the Wagah border and the Jallianwallah Bagh a miss completely, because my mum who had been to Wagah some time before me had horrible stories of animosity to share and I didnt have the will to top up the peaceful temple experience with that :S
    Too bad Im not on fb and have to miss trip pics and patiala and phulkari pics too 😦

    • Even if it weren’t too crowded we wouldn’t have braved it because the kids were getting tired. The holiday is meant to be fun for them too and its unfair to drag them around doing things that are not enjoyable to them. At least I got to see the Golden Temple and I can die happy now.

  12. A friend had made much the same trip last year: Golden Temple, Wagah Border and the Jallianwallah Bagh. And she had much the same to say as you: the Jallianwallah Bagh moved her deeply.

  13. ‘something my knees can’t take but my heart won’t let me stop’ – Here’s sending up a prayer for you, for the knees to hold up for as long as the babies need their mad mamma’s arms to jump into!
    As for Vitamin D, if you are in the habit of walking everyday, walk in the sun. I am sure you are taking some kind of a multivitamin already. Omega 3 also? As for the hair, my sis’ dermatologist has recommended this rather smelly but works-like-magic hair oil. To be used in addition to exercise/ nutritious food, of course. Let me try and send you a bottle.

    • I’m walking in the sun everyday. I sit in it for about 45 minutes waiting for each child’s bus on the road so I’m surprised that hasn’t helped. Clearly my body is unable to process the Vit D. I need it in injection form I suppose. Omega 3 huh? You read it all the time but never end up acting on it. Maybe i should now.

      • Yes, Omega 3. I ingest 3 of those cod- liver pills everyday (there are fancier, more- expensive Omega 3 pills, but if you are already getting a decent amount of fish into your system, this should do, I was told by my doc) and its definitely doing me good. Saw a mention of sunscreen in one of the comments – Raj G had mentioned it to me too – to go easy on the sunscreen and let the face soak some sun in. You might want to see what that is all about!

        • I was diagnosed with severe Vit D deficiency after the pain from my my slip disc refused to go away after 2 months of rest & medication last year. Was put on calcirol sachets & citromacalvit tablets.It has to be monitored by your Dr though as Vit D is actually a hormone & not a vitamin & too much can hv adverse effects.It has helped me a lot. Apparently we dark skinned people don’t absorb Vit D from the sun easily so we sometimes need supplements to boost levels .

        • MM, have you been checked for Hashimoto’s disease or Graves disease? Thyroid problems can sometimes lead to Vitamin D difficulties. Although I’m sure the thousands of tests you’ve undergone would have caught that. The other things that hamper Vit D absorption can be wheat allergies like Celiac disease, etc. Not trying to be alarmist but do get yourself checked if you haven’t already ruled these out. Can’t hurt at this stage.

  14. Beautiful MM – I remember reading about the Jallianwala Bagh when I was 14-15 when I took it upon myself to learn the history about Gandhi and couldn’t bear it even then. When my little brother was learning German history, I couldn’t make myself read about the atrocities of the Nazi’s either.

    When we were in Vietnam recently for a holiday, we visited Saigon and the War Museum there. Evs warned me as I walked through that it would be hard to take in, but I still went through. Up until that point I knew minimal about the Vietnam War, but those photos, stories, the specimens of deformed fetuses as a result of Chemical warfare on unsuspecting villagers – I had to leave because I had tears streaming down my cheeks. A country and a war that did not affect me in the slightest….and I cried for them.

    I’m glad that you got to see the Golden Temple and the rest of the trip went well. And OMG – my Dad is always on about me having a Vitamin D deficiency as well – I’m like, here in Australia?? But, I’ve started taking vitamins for that to keep him happy 😛

    Miss you here MM!

    People scoff and tell me I have a soft heart, that these are examples of human nature, but I can’t make my heart stop aching and my mind stop thinking about how in the world can one human being do this to another?

    • I’m glad you’re taking it. I didn’t realise how everything on me was falling apart thanks to the damn Vit D deficiency. Now if I could only have hair like you, I’d die happy!

  15. It is good to read about the jallianwala bagh. You are right, not too many people write about it or even talk, even my husband who is a photographer was too numb to take pictures when he visited it, I saw a 100 of the golden temple but none of Jallianwala bagh.
    Thanks for posting and the passion is shining through like the sun 🙂

  16. Ear-ache+Sleepless nights = Misery! Take good care of yourself MM! The Bean and Brat can’t afford to have you aging early. Not to mention all our days would go incomplete if you’re not able to post. 😛

    The pics of the bulletholes themselves are disturbing. I can imagine how you would’ve felt being in the place. And I sure hope General Dyer rots in the deepest pits of hell!

    And hey, nice to see you went to a place you’d wanted to visit and had very MMish fun there. The decor section needs updating! 🙂

  17. Good you mentioned the book you were reading. I could see a book peeking from the paper bag. I would have surely asked. After reading this post, my list of the things to do before I die has suddenly grown. Amritsar, Wagah, Lahore (Yes), …

    BTW, did I tell you that I would be willing to drop by and take care of your kids if you promised to write a book in that spare time.

  18. You have Vit D and Calcium deficiency ! Oye, you love doodh and sitting in the sun , so do both , na ? Going back to read the rest once more .

  19. Happy to see you back MM! I don’t even know what Metallica is ( I am an old lady living under a rock) but to tell people that the show has been cancelled after they reach the venue is atrocious!
    Glad to know you enjoyed the trip. I love the way you bring out the excitement/passion through your words. It is as if I am travelling with you. Many a times the real ‘feel’ of the travel wears out in time. But, yours are always fresh in your words to keep. God Bless You!
    I thought the knee problem was diagonised as a bone infection & was taken care of. Please take care MM!
    Hugs to the Brat & Beanie!

  20. loved the photo of your two…in the golden cloudburst. very forever moment that.

    have to plug
    1. codliver oil supplements (“abacharam abacharam” that would be from very very veggie me)
    2. BELIEVING you’ll be healthy and well (cut the pessimism, woman)

  21. Nice to see you back…feels good reading these posts.
    Err…i am a little ignorant on the fashion world…what is a phulkari duppatta BTW. Is it Something very specific to Punjab ?? Available down south by any other name..

    Planning to visit Delhi during Xmas vacation. Coming there after almost 10 years to see my uncle and his family. I remember a post you had written sometime in summer about all the places you can visit, activites for kids etc. Hope to cover some of them in the packed 10 days i have 🙂

    Take care and god bless.

  22. Me and hub had done the Golden temple, Jallian Wallah Bagh, Wagah border trip during our honemoon. Yes! We mostly travel during honemoons 😛
    I am one creature who resembles your level of emotions. I was tense, teary eyed and extremely angry when I visited Jallian Wallah Bagh. A sense of loss and disgust over humans who can do this to each other. Sigh!
    However, I’m glad you could shop a lot. And, how can I see the pics? Do you trust me enough to allow me to ur FB life? 🙂
    Love to the Brat and Bean who have been so good through out the trip. They don’t at home coz they have to behave bad somewhere, and I’m glad it is at home 🙂

  23. MM, dear MM (if I dare say so), I’ve been lurking on your porch for years, sipping your generous cups of chai and taking off rudely without saying a word. But when you serve up something like this that leaves me shivering under the harsh rays of the sun, I feel compelled to say thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for writing.

  24. Second the recommendation for “Tiger’s claw” The original story was fascinating enough and I think she did a good job with the novel. It made me read up on female spies in WWII. Apparently there were quite a few of them. If you like this you might want to watch a movie I caught on TV a long time ago, “Carve her name with pride” about another female spy. It also has one of my favourite poems “the life that i have” by Leo Marks. You can see snippets of it on Youtube.

  25. Wow…you managed to do so mcuh travelling in just 3 days time. I have always wanted to see more places in India but with the 2 week cramped trip that I make every year, I dont get to travel much.

    You have invited the Japanese couple to your home, you are definitely very helpful MM. An admirable quality, I should say.

    The trip to Jallianwala bagh sounds so emotionally draining. I agree with you that we should visit places like to understand the true value of our freedom. It is beyond my understanding, how one could inflict so much pain on another human being.

    Love the 1st pic of the kids at Golden Temple.

  26. I’m glad someone felt the same way I did about the Wagah border at least. I’ve been trying to explain to people why it is that it didn’t appeal to me and I failed miserably.

    But I think it’s all the jingoism on display there. It came across as more a game of oneupmanship to me with the slogan shouting and the dancing. And the ceremony itself seemed rather hollow to me.

    I think I felt more pride in our armed forces when we visited Ladakh and Kashmir and saw the armymen there doing their jobs with quiet dignity and in adverse conditions without thousands cheering them on to prove their superiority over our neighbours.

    • Oh, and also having visited the Golden Temple, don’t you think the idea of doing manual work in the temple as a service to God is a brilliant idea?

      Plus, I don’t know how it was with the crowds when you went in, but I found this immense sense of peace and calm when we went. Something truly soothing. Made it even worse to imagine the state it must have after Operation Blue Star.

  27. Historical places do that to me too.I visited Kumbhalgarh in FE.We went to Haldighati& Kumbhalgarh fort .I got all emotional on seeing the places especially the Chetak memorial .Some of my friends couln’t believe I was getting teary eyed over a horse but for me it was reliving all my history lessons:)

  28. You know… I was having a thoroughly bad day (most likely PMS) and am ready to burst into tears at the drop of a hat (thank God there aren’t any hats around!).

    This post made me feel better.
    Thank you!

  29. I really enjoyed reading this post. It reminded me of exactly why I keep checking your blog every week without fail, even when you announce that you’re going on a break. A post like this will keep me going for weeks 🙂
    The Golden Temple is on my bucket list too, my best friend who’s Sikh and I have this seemingly moving target to go there together one day. Hopefully some day soon.
    Sorry to hear about your knee. The good doctor not helping much?
    My hair is kind of beginning to depress me too, it just seems to be fading away! And on top of that I made the grave mistake of going to VLCC of all the places for a hair consultation. Guaranteed depression for life.

  30. I have been reading your blog since your reply to the real madrasan and I find that there are subtle undertones of genuflection or fawning towards the Punjabis in your posts, though I could be wrong. For example you said something to the effect that “Punjabis are defending the country while south Indians are eating parippu vada.” That statement was deeply humiliating to the south Indians. You projected the south Indians as some kind of lazy, gutless cowards. The fact remains that all the trouble spots are in the northern parts of the country and the Punjabis have a greater stake in defending their part of the country. All the wars after independence have taken place in the northern parts of the country and they directly impinge on the areas in and around Punjab. So it’s not surprising that the Punjabis are defending the country and south Indians are eating parippu vada. If all the trouble spots were along the southern parts of the country, then the situation would have been different. South Indians would have been defending and Punjabis would have been eating their makki ki roti and drinking lassi.

    Though this is your personal blog and you have every right to express your views but how many blogs do you find where Punjabis empathize with south Indians or their food, culture and language. Punjabis usually have a dismissive and contemptuous attitude towards south Indians, though they can be politically correct sometimes when the situation demands. I have personally seen Indian Punjabis in the company of Pakistani Punjabis making fun of south Indians in a very condescending manner. The Punjabi dominated bollywood for long has stereotyped south Indians in the worst fashion possible, so what’s wrong if one or two south Indians retaliate. I’m sorry to say this but majority of south Indians and especially those who have had first hand experiences with Punjabis will never be able to share your fascination with Punjabi culture or their history.

    • That was the entire point, Saji. That you cannot comment on someone’s culture (or your opinion on the lack thereof) – it’s plain rude. Which is what I found her letter to be. Excessively rude. The only way to respond to someone’s rudeness/sarcasm, is in their own coin so that they understand what you mean. There is a reason the South has had the luxury of developing its cultural side and lets not forget that. Everything has a reason. Making fun of it shows up ignorance. I’m sorry you found the line rude, but I stand by it. Yes, Punjab was invested in repelling invaders and had the North not done it, the invasions would have affected the South. Lets show a little understanding and gratitude for the way things turned out. And a little more compassion for those countrymen of ours who suffered while we were unaware and safe. It’s a pity that you think of it as fawning – I suppose it goes to show how incapable we are of appreciating another’s culture without feeling that it makes us any less. They say the dosa is India’s national food. Would that be genuflection too?
      My post was not a stand alone sudden rant. It was a response to her and her post alone. You need to see it in context. I am not here to worry about punjabis empathizing with anyone. Why should anyone bother with anyone? Why not mind our own business and get along like mature adults? I find your last line the saddest. When we talk to Westerners, the first thing we talk of is our great and varied heritage. If we can’t appreciate the Punjabis and their heritage, why do we expect them to appreciate ours? Do to others as you would have them do to you. Maybe a change in attitude is called for, starting with the self. If I can do it, then so can two other South Indians. And maybe we will have more examples like Kolaveri crossing over the border. A negative attitude like yours is unlikely to foster relationships.

      • I appreciate the genuineness of your reply, as I can see that you sincerely believe in what you say, though I must say that your word view is radically different from mine. Inter community exchanges are always fraught with the dangers of misunderstanding, stereotyping and urban legends. It’s an extremely delicate balance that you have to maintain and it’s akin to tight rope walking if you have to have a balanced perspective. Now coming to the Punjabis, speaking from a strictly personal perspective, I have found that they are a people who don’t have the time or inclination to appreciate the virtues of humility, self effacement, meekness or down to earth simplicity. You need to have oodles of self confidence and pride in your own identity to hold your own against them. It is here that I found your parippu vada statement as an affront to the south Indians. I personally found that your statement reflected badly on the ability of south Indians, psychological or otherwise, to defend their turf whatever that might be. How will a person feel if someone were to say that he cannot defend his own house or his female relatives and he needs someone else to do that for him.

        If we take house as a metaphor for country, then we must assume that all its inhabitants have an equal stake in its defense. When it comes to something as important as defending our country, then we must eschew the sense of benefaction that one community is protecting the other. There are a whole load of variables which are responsible for one community being more prominent than the other as far as the defense of our country goes. These set of variables keep on changing. And it’s not that south Indians are an emasculated lot when it comes to defending their turf. They had their own Pazhassi Rajas, Veerpandiya kattabomans, Krishnad Deva Rayas, Rajendra cholas to mention a few names. And again there are lot of south Indians who are serving in the army.

        I agree with you that we need to break out of our self restricting moulds to understand other cultures. That requires both mental and emotional exertion which majority of people are either unwilling or incapable of doing. But such appreciation of other cultures is a two way street and hence I cannot completely agree with you when you say that south Indians must appreciate Punjabi culture irrespective of whether Punjabis appreciate south Indian culture or not. If it’s only a one way street then it can induce a sense of smug pride amongst the Punjabis and that will boomerang badly on the south Indians.

        • I think its very simplistic to say Punjabis don’t appreciate humility or meekness. How do you come to that conclusion? What is the sample size of the survey? Isn’t that as rude as saying that South Indians can’t take care of their own women? My response was to Shahana and no reflection on how I truly feel. It was just a taste of her own medicine. That said, I don’t want to get in on a discussion of an old post. I closed comments on that post because I’d said all I had to say and was tired of the topic. I hope you will appreciate that. I’ve moved on to a new post and a new topic and am done with that one.
          In the last statement I can only reiterate that we can only be responsible for our own behaviour, not others’. In my 17 years or so in Delhi I’ve not had a punjabi act rude or racist to me and I can only respond to their kindness in their own coin. Again, do to others as you would, have them do you to you. Let me add a saying I picked up in Delhi itself – aap bhale, to jag bhala. If you’re a good person, the world behaves well with you. If the Madrasan felt all the Delhi boys in unison had turned against her, maybe a little introspection was called for. I am now not going to be responding on the Madrasan post anymore and I hope you can appreciate that. If you wish to comment on this current post, I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

          • Your point taken. It was bit insensitive of me to bring that old post of yours and interject that into the present discussion. What made me write the previous two posts was your observation about the petulant little madrasan and the fact that you enjoy Punjabi weddings. The tragedy of partition and its aftermath is well known to everybody, at least in its historical details. But that doesn’t mean that the gory and dehumanizing aspects of that tragedy in all its finer details is well known to everybody. Because all the movies depicting that tragedy were in hindi, hence an average south Indian need not be well versed with all the brutal aspects of that tragedy. This is something like an average north Indian not being well versed about the tragedy that happened in sri lanka to the tamil speaking populace. Hence I felt that you could have qualified that statement of yours with the fact that as a south Indian she doesn’t know the deep scars that the tragedy of partition has left on the Punjabi psyche. This is just an observation from my side and I’m not being judgemental or condemning you. I still appreciate the righteous indignation that you felt over the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy.

            As for the Punjabi weddings, I want to make a few points. I feel a sense of indignation when I hear about lavish weddings in the Indian context. Though you didn’t say it in so many words but what I could gauge from your observation about Punjabi wedding is that they are a lavish affair. Though nothing wrong with that perse but there is a flip side to it. It has broad implications in terms of gender equality, female feticide, female empowerment etc. Even the citizens of the rich western nations don’t indulge in such lavish weddings. Keeping up with the Joneses mentality when it comes to conducting lavish weddings has financially ruined many families. This has made many families dread the prospect of having a girl child. Conducting such lavish weddings obviously entails a huge expenditure. But that said I don’t believe in cutting corners, but that should be within our limits. Of course it’s none of our business to comment about how people splurge their money but it would help us to keep our feet well planted on the ground if we look at the broad social implications of such weddings.

            • Not insensitive at all, don’t worry. It’s just that readers tend to forget that the blogger has already responded to a point many times over and might tire of responding to a topic. Also, am so done with that post in particular! It didn’t deserve the publicity the issue got.

              Getting to your point, I don’t expect anyone to know anything really. It’s not possible for all of us to be fully aware of every tragedy on the earth. BUT, if she didn’t know much about it, she shouldn’t have spoken about it lightly and made such a hurtful reference to it, no? If a person makes a rude reference to Holocaust, they’re likely to get pulled up for not knowing the horror of it and they’ve got to take it on the chest and apologise, not shrug and say, Oh, I didn’t know the details of it. Ignorance is no excuse for hurting someone – she meant to attack and she very deliberately chose something that is well-known for being a sore topic – wasn’t that the entire point of her post? To attack them where it hurts? I’m sure you’d agree with me and not defend that, because I can see from our discussion that you are a fair person. That said, I don’t agree with your point on the north-south awareness. All of us should be ashamed of not knowing whats happening in Sri Lanka as well as Manipur or any other place in this day and age of news. Particularly if its something so tragic.

              Weddings everywhere are a lavish affair. I have seen South Indian weddings where the bride is in 12 layers of gold necklaces. Other than thinking of it as a fashion disaster I have no other comment on it! Some people choose to spend on a big tent and entertainment, others on the gold jewellery. It’s not for us to judge and that is not the point of the post at all (because its not as though I don’t judge people on certain issues, if I have to be honest!). As long as they’ve earned their money legitimately and are spending it on what is important to them – that is entertaining their family and friends, how is it any worse than taking foreign trips or donating to your favourite temple? A wedding is a once in a lifetime affair and I really don’t know why it must be about Punjabi weddings in particular. Honestly though, I don’t know why I’m being put on the spot to defend them. As a guest I could merely say that the food was fantastic, the decor great and the entertainment well done. As weddings go, people around the world aim for the same, don’t they! It’s a pity that in India social norms dictate that you invite your grandfather’s clerk’s best friend’s niece and keeping a control on the numbers is tough. That is hopefully something the next generation will change.

              In theory though, I agree that people everywhere should end wasteful expenditure, and live minimally but its tough to practice that in real life. Some people choose to travel business class by air instead of a train. Others get their dog food from organic stores while people are starving on the streets. Everyone has wasteful habits that they can curb and I’d really like to work on my own too.

  31. Hi mad momma,
    This is the 1st time I am commenting on your post, though I have been a regular reader. First of all, I should tell you that I love your posts, mainly for it’s unbiased nature and coz you stand up for your rights without sounding of the “extremist-feminist” variety. This must be the first time I am actually disagreeing with you. Pls note the following:
    a) F1 was “NOT” conducted at Delhi, it was conducted at Greater Noida (yeah not even Noida). As it is we all are losing our city names, thanks to the melting pot (pit) called NCR, I didn’t expect you as well to not get the message across.
    b) The reason Gurgaon/Delhi (as you please) was in the news for the Metallica cancellation was mainly coz we want the so called protocol-ists to take note and let us have fun. More so, coz the Akon (uuuggghhhhh) concert successfully culminated in Gurgaon. So the fiasco was least expected.
    c) Greater Noida is a beautiful city, with lush tree lined streets with very less pollution of any kind. You should visit this city and actually see wide roads without pot holes and trees not full of dust. Yeah it’s not as “happening or hep” as Gurgaon or Delhi (yeah not at all like my fav city Delhi) but it’ll reach there in the near future.
    Your rest of the post is as awesome as ever and i reeeaaalllyyyy wanna visit Punjab now!!!!
    Love
    Shiwangi

    • Shiwangi – I’m amused that you want to point out that how Noida is NOT Delhi but in your comment you write “Gurgaon/Delhi”? Surely you are aware that Gurgaon is NOT Delhi either. But both Greater Noida and Gurgaon are part of the NCR – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Capital_Region_(India). So technically, you either include both or neither.One may not appreciate the formation of an NCR, but it exists nonetheless and railing against it will not change it.

      And THAT was my entire point, because the average Indian has very low awareness and believe that a concert cancelled in the NCR reflects on “Delhiites” whoever those might be, but will not give the credit for a successful F1, to the very same NCR or “Delhiites”. Why so? (They also believe Delhiite to be interchangeable with Punjabi but that is a case for another day!)
      Greater Noida is lovely, yes but what has that got to do with anything? I have no idea what your point is! If the idea is to start a Gurgaon vs Greater Noida debate, I beg you not to. The country sees enough divisions and I’d be very heartsick if I saw a young person who has so much potential, get involved in these silly, ridiculous, divisive exercises.
      Take care
      MM

  32. that exactly was my point, to not create a divisive debate but at the same time let the existence of a city (in news only for the farmer/builder debate) get its due. and the reason i mentioned gurgaon/delhi was coz the metallica concert was supposed to happen at gurgaon and you had mentioned it as delhi, just like the rest of the country. you just added to the confusion of the “average indian’s low awareness”, don’t you think? i am not rallying against the formation of the NCR coz we are obviously more benefitted than harmed. I was doing my bit to let my city’s presence be felt through this space. No offense, seriously.

    • Well that is my point. The concert was in Gurgaon but they felt the need to malign Delhi/NCR. And when the F1 was held, the slogans ran – Proud of you India! How come they no longer felt the need to be proud of the NCR and the same Delhiites who attended in full swing and ensure law and order prevailed?

      I understand and appreciate the need for recognition, but personally I believe its nicer to stand together and create a better impression of the NCR in general since only together does it have all the strengths of a great F1 track, international airport and greenery. Divide it up and the greenery goes to delhi, the business to gurgaon and the roads to noida. Maybe we can praise one part without feeling the need to deride another part by calling it dirty or potholed?
      Peace out!

  33. I love how you make your kids experience life and its a lot to be ok with it. I love the lats para where you write what gives them pleasure and you some pain but as moms no amount of pain is enough for a simple smile that comes over their face. I love reading your blog. i share similar thoughts on http://www.kidsstoppress.com too

  34. You started writing again! I had no clue! (notes to self: Need to keep track of favourite blogs with the aid of technology, rather than just remembering their names! :P)
    Just reading the description of Jallianwala Bagh made me tear up. I probably shouldn’t go there…but I want to. That and the Golden Temple. I did two internships in Chandigarh, but never had the time to go tripping. Meh.
    So good to see you back! 🙂

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