Archive for July, 2008

26
Jul
08

baptism.


from a taxi., originally uploaded by mbdoctor19.

The monsoon has started again. After nearly a week without much more than a light shower, the rains are back in earnest. I was shopping in town yesterday when the skies opened up. I waved in vain as one taxi after another floated past me. My arms were getting soaked. I was sure that my shopping bag would disintegrate at any moment. At some point I came to terms with my situation and accepted the inevitability of walking to my next destination. I retreated to the sidewalk, where I huddled under a store overhang. I rolled up my jeans, pulled on my windbreaker, and unfurled my new blue paisley umbrella. I stepped off the sidewalk and instantly felt the water rise above my ankles. I paused for a moment; something came over me as I felt myself surrender to the circumstances. I laughed silently at my earlier attempts to minimize my discomfort when I realized it was those very actions that were the true source of my agitation. It wasn’t the rain or the damp clothes that bothered me. It was my avoidance of them that was the root of my suffering. Once I embraced the truth of my experience as it was— releasing what I’d hoped it would be– I continued on my path.

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24
Jul
08

vote of confidence.

This post is mainly for Jen & Piotr, my inquisitive, politically-minded friends. I personally am pretty confused about the Indian political scene. Despite earnest attempts to sort out who’s who and what they’re up to, I just can’t understand the political structure or process here. The following paragraph is my best attempt to explain it simply, but please follow the link to the NY Times article for more accurate information.

On Tuesday night the Prime Minister called for a confidence vote, and won by a larger margin than everyone was expecting. The PM and his allies have been pushing to go forward with a nuclear deal between India & the US. Tuesday’s vote seems to indicate that India will try to push to seal the deal before Bush leaves the White House.
21
Jul
08

home.

Where is “home”, really? My husband and I had a discussion about this the other day after he noticed I recently listed Bombay as my hometown. “Hometown means where you’re from,” he explained.

“Exactly,” I quickly replied. “I’m from Bombay. When I go somewhere the place I return to– my home– is Bombay.”
“No, I mean where you’re from originally,” he said, with not a little exasperation in his voice. He knows where these types of conversations go.
“But I haven’t lived there since high school. I don’t own property there, don’t have friends there, and just don’t see it as my home anymore.” We both got quiet for a minute as the deeper meaning of the question began to settle into our minds. Where is “home”, really?
Home has been many places at many moments. As a student my home home was my parents’ house. As a recent college graduate, eager to create my own life, home meant my new apartment. During times of transition home has also referred to hotel rooms, a neighbor’s house, or my friend’s living room floor. For many years home was my grandparents’ house, the one place in the world where I felt most loved, most accepted, and most cared for.
In my process of exploring what home means to me, I have often reflected on the classic film “The Wizard of Oz”. Dorothy sets out on the classic hero’s journey of Separation, Initiation, and Return after she is thrust into an unfamiliar and sometimes scary environment. Along the way she meets companions who are on their own journeys. Together they rally to bravely confront their deepest fears and meet the challenges posed by adversaries. In the end their wishes are granted not by the omnipotent (or impotent) Wizard of Oz, but through the realization of their personal transformation. The prizes they sought– Courage, Love, Intelligence, and Home– were in fact inside them all along.
What Dorothy learns through her epic adventure is what I have often recalled during my first year here in India. At the end of the film Dorothy discovers that she never really left her family home in Kansas. The grand transformation she experienced was the result not of an outward journey but an inward one. “Home”, she realizes, is not a place but a state of being.
As I approach my second year in Bombay, I keep in mind that “Home” is less where I am than who I am. I remember that sometimes the greatest adversaries or most challenging situations are actually the very things I need to grow more fully into who I am. And, like Dorothy and her companions, I remember that the Big Journey isn’t somewhere outside of me. It is in fact a journey to my Self, to the heart of who I am.
16
Jul
08

the wedding ceremony.

The bride and groom are surrounded by their immediate family inside the wedding mandap.

Items for the ceremony include a coconut, milk, rice, red powder (kum kum) and turmeric powder (haldi).

The bride and groom speak their vows in the presence of Agni, the sacred fire, who is the true spiritual witness of the union. The couple circles the fire seven times (phere) solidifying their union.
15
Jul
08

the wedding day.

Family gathers on the morning of the ceremony.

Men get ready to join the baraat, the procession of the groom and his family to the wedding hall.
15
Jul
08

the groom.


PICT0071, originally uploaded by mbdoctor19.
15
Jul
08

the baraat.

The baraat is the procession of the groom and his family to the bride’s home or to the hall where the wedding ceremony is performed. A band precedes the family, signaling to everyone around that the baraat is coming.

The baraat is led by this decorated vehicle, which is loaded with a band and speakers to broadcast the sound. A singer performs traditional songs, leading the groom’s family as they dance, clap, and cheer on the way to the wedding hall.

The groom’s family and friends gather with the baraat band.


A veil of flowers (sehra) covers the groom’s eyes until he meets his bride under the wedding canopy (mandap).
The groom arrives on horseback at the wedding hall, where he and and his family are received by the bride’s family. The bride and groom exchange garlands as a sign of their acceptance of each other as life partners. In some communities the bride’s sisters try to block the groom from placing the garland, crying that they won’t let him take their sister away from them. In other communities, relatives of the groom defend him with a shield and the bride is challenged to reach him with the garland.