I’m back after a week and I’m so glad. I have been busy taking part in a 8 day Russian poetry challenge on Facebook. As part of the challenge one had to post a poem each day with a photograph. Apparently, the poem is to be translated to Russian and to be posted in the Almanac ‘Fresh View” magazine. I’m not sure how far its true and even if it was, who knows how the translation works. Anyways, it was fun sharing my poems on Facebook. The poems got more readers than they otherwise get when posted on the Facebook page of this blog. Maybe it was because of the word ‘challenge.’ I suppose that has something to do with the fact that by nature as human beings, we are a competitive lot and anything that entails a competition of sorts has us rooting for it.
Anyways, now that’s done and dusted and I’m back, I’d like to share some news about what’s happening in my side of the world. First, we are in version 4 of the lockdown- which means malls opened on 5th August and hotels will be opened soon. Since 15th August (the Nation’s Independence Day) domestic help has been allowed in our building, to resume work. All state transport buses have also started plying.
Visit to the Mall
On the 16th of August we went to the mall – the first time after five months. It felt like Christmas! There was music playing, the lights were bright, the floor was shiny and all the shops displayed the ‘Sale’ signboard across the windows. It did look like the designers had made perfect use of the lockdown. There were a lot of new,smart designs on the rack and I had to remind myself that given that the lockdown’s still on I wouldn’t really need anything other than casual wear. I didn’t write about my mall visit earlier because I wanted to make sure I was fine 14 days after the visit. 🙂
We were impressed by the care taken by the mall administration to ensure everything and everybody was sanitized and maintained social distance at the mall. Here, when you enter the mall, you’re first required to stand in a tub of sanitizing liquid so your shoes are sanitized. Then you need to sanitize your hands by placing it below a dispenser (no touching it). Once you do that, your temperature is taken and you go through the x-ray machine while your handbag goes through another x-ray cum sanitizing machine. Then you need to show the security your (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aarogya_Setu) ‘Arogya Setu’ app which declares if ‘you are safe’ or not. Only then are you allowed to enter. Honestly, it felt like Christmas once we were in.
Some stores allow you to enter the fitting room, some don’t (that’s a rule I did not understand). Another rule is that when you are on the escalator you can’t stand close to another person even if the other person is your family because obviously the security has no clue if you are related to the other person.
The only cog in the wheel is that restaurants are not open and neither is the food court which means you can’t stay for long ( sooner or later if you have kids, somebody is going to feel thirsty or hungry and you have to leave). But on the whole shopping was therapeutic and we came back feeling refreshed despite the fact there were a few rule breakers who did not wear the mask, pulling it down when the security turned his back. Fortunately we went early when the shops pulled the shutters up and left before the crowd came in – we got what we wanted- to shop in peace! It was definitely a break. And the mask does not feel too prohibitive in the air-conditioned interiors as it does when one is walking outdoors.
New Term at School begins
As IB school’s began here on August 5th, I’ve been enjoying some quiet time. It’s been quite noisy around with everybody at home. But I’m not complaining. For the first time in my adult life, I have felt that the exorbitant rent we have been dishing out for the house we live in is totally worth it and is not only meant to house the furniture. With every member at home, every room is being utilized 24X7 these days.
We celebrated out 74th Independence Day this year. It was quiet like everything else thanks to the lockdown and yet the flag was hoisted and patriotic songs were played. At home we dressed up in orange, white and green- the colors of the flag to keep the morale up. We also watched a movie called ‘Partition 1947.’ It was a way to remember those who fought for our freedom and to value the freedom we’ve got.
The season of festivals commenced with Ganesh Chathurthi
Ganesh Chathurthi (the 10- day festival celebrated to mark the birth of the Elephant headed God Ganesha) which is otherwise celebrated with great fervor in Maharashtra (check the link to see how it’s celebrated) also passed by silently this year. It began on the 22nd of August and ended on the 2nd September. It coincided with the Kerala festival of Onam this year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganesh_Chaturthi#:~:text=In%20India%2C%20Ganesh%20Chaturthi%20is,of%20West%20Bengal%20and%20Odisha.
There were no drumbeats or processions. Instead people celebrated it within their homes by offering prayers and making sweet dishes as offering to the God each day for ten days, before immersing the idol in water. This year, the immersions were not done in a lake or sea as is usually done. It was done at home.
Incidentally, the festival is also celebrated in Ghana by the indigenous Africans there. This piece of information was news to me. While there is no option in Hinduism that allows for conversion, those who are not born into it but believe in it simply practice the faith. To check it out click the below link. It’s actually heartwarming to watch them celebrate it.
According to legend the festival is meant to commemorate King Mahabali whose spirit is believed to visit Kerala during Onam every year. It is the harvest festival and the ninth day of the festival is celebrated by cooking a lavish feast. The beauty of the festival is that it’s celebrated by every Keralite irrespective of religion. I cooked the traditional dishes for the first time in my life with advice from my mom-in-law and at the end of it I can say that I’m not only proud of myself but I really think Onam is the ‘Celebration of the coconut.’ Every dish is either made with grated coconut or coconut milk.
We dressed in traditional off-white cotton clothes with a gold border ( women in sari, sarong or salwar kameez and men in a ‘mund’ – like a sarong) and took photographs as a way to create memories.
That was August here in Mumbai. We had heavy rains during the middle of the month. By the end of the month, it was far lesser and it’s turned a little warm again. The Covid-19 cases are still on the rise but they are in pockets where I suppose people haven’t been too disciplined. And by that I don’t mean the slums. In fact Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, has very few cases- so few that the Government’s closing the temporary hospital created. So that’s a good news.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and I hope you’ve managed to create some good memories of August too. I’m done with waiting for things to change. It’s time we accept the reality and live with it. Stay safe until next time.