About Mother and Motherland

Actually this post should have been titled “About Mother-in-law and ….” But I could not find an in-law equivalent of motherland. So I let this title stand.

An old Sanskrit quote says,”  Janani janmabhoomishcha Swargad api gariyasi”, Meaning Mother and Motherland are more desired than even heavens. It is true to some extent. We are related to both by birth, we didn’t choose them and loving them is ingrained into us .

But some thing has to be said of love of the relationships that we develop later in life.

Like your Mother-in-law and the land you immigrate to ……

You may have heard some newly wed say ‘well, this is not how it was done in our home’ or ‘that’s not how my mother used to do it’ at some point in your life. It’s only human to compare our new experience with the old and familiar. Sometime it’s because we miss the old and sometimes because we are simply scared of the change. On my first visit as a new bride to my husband’s native place Tamilnadu ( a state in south of India) I was overwhelmed by the difference in customs, cuisine, language and even dressing from where I grew up ( new Delhi – in north of India). In her wisdom my mother-in-law asked me to cook whatever I liked and put my mind to ease. Sometimes big changes are like that. Everything is so different that if you can do one thing in an old familiar way you feel at ease again. Thereafter it becomes smooth sailing. Like my relationship with my mother-in-law. I learnt a lot from her about south-Indian cooking, their customs and traditions. I was willing to learn and adapt and the learning process laid the foundation for the loving relation that we share now.

My story of Immigration has been as easy as the integration in to my husband’s family. We were met by nice people and found employment soon after. What really put our mind at ease was meeting people who were open-minded, gave us space and time to adjust and also shared with us the knowledge and experience that they had. Like my Friend Gerardo in Dubai who introduced me to “Nasi-goreng’ – fried rice Indonesian style and Ethiopian cuisine……… or my friend Mike who loves skate boarding and skiing and accompanied us on our first ever ski attempt or my neighbor K who shared her love for gardening and her tomato harvest with us over the last few years. We met people who helped us in some big and small situations and gave us a semblance of belonging.

Sometimes big changes are like that…. It is not easy. Sometimes it is challenging and drives us up the wall and it breaks us too. But if you keep an open mind then it can rebuild and reshape you. Then suddenly one day you would realize that the new has become old and ingrained in us. The love we were not born with has grown and captivated our hearts.

How has your immigration experience been?

Phir Milenge!!

Bollywood and Big Fat Indian Wedding

“So did you have an arranged marriage?”

“Did you speak to your husband before you got married?”

“Did he come riding on a horse/elephant for the wedding? ”

Yes, Yes and No.

I am from India and Mine was an arranged marriage.  And Once we both agreed to getting married, our families met and decided the date, venue and other arrangements (no headache of planning or becoming a bridezilla). After seven years I can say it worked out pretty well for us.

My wedding was not  a Bollywood production. Given that majority of population in India ( or of Indians anywhere) is of Hindu religion and What is seen on the silver screen is a grand Hindu wedding, it is easy to understand why these questions would come my way. But mine was a simple church wedding. He didn’t come riding a horse, no large wedding procession, no dancers dancing in a synchronized way and the wedding ceremonies did not last one whole week.

I would not be wrong in saying that I love bollywood movies. I am among the ones who watch atleast one bollywood movie every week. It is like a comfort food to me and it is something that still gives me a glimpse (however rosy!)in  to my Indian culture. As a culture, Our love for colors, large  family gatherings, food and celebration is epitomized in a marriage ceremony and movie makers get that. Thanks to the movies, The tradition of sangeet (Song and dance at bride’s house), mehandi (or application of henna have moved out of the religious domain and into weddings of all religions.

In south of India, it is customary for christian brides to wear a Saree- the traditional Indian garment albeit in white instead of red. The jewellery is in keeping with the traditional style.

This is from another wedding in my family. A few years ago, this would not have been a common sight – A christian bride with henna on her hands.

This is one thing that Bollywood has achieved  cannot be paralleled by any socio-political discourse especially when it comes to weddings. Bollywood has succeeded in addressing the culture of the land without its religious connotations….. I think it has become a unifying factor for a land often divided on issues of religion and languages.

I guess that is a great gift of Bollywood movies.

oh and if you are interested in seeing one Bollywood movie with a big fat Indian wedding with all the bells and whistles, I would recommend Hum Aapke hain kaun

Phir Milenge!!