Monthly Archives: May 2015

the most auspicious occasion….

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colorfulThe Hindu priest welcomed the crowd into the room and said, “Welcome to this most auspicious occasion”. Looking around the audience in attendance, one could not help but notice all the beautiful colored Sari’s and other traditional garments, along with the large bright smiles worn on everyone’s faces.  I leaned over to my son and asked “What does ‘Auspicious’ mean?” I had an idea, but since he’s a walking talking dictionary of large words, I figured he’d have the best answer for me. Leaning toward me he replied, “Favorable…like this is a favorable occasion”. Sitting back up straight I replied, “Hmm, cool word”. The boy shrugged his shoulders and added, “If you say so…”

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aaw1Just before we processed into the Grand Ballroom of the hotel, on small tables located outside the main doors, were baskets which held programs describing the ceremony, along with brightly colored bangles for our arms and stick onBindi’s for our foreheads. In the spirit of the Hindu wedding and utilizing the “When in Rome” attitude, we all took some bangles to ornate our arms and a Bindi to place on our foreheads, before we sat down and awaited the arrival of the bride.aaw2

Atop a small stage at the front and center of the room, sat Adam, the groom, next to his parents, Tom and Sue. The bride’s parents and the Hindu priest sat opposite of them. Playing in the background was  instrumental Indian music which created a relaxed atmosphere and would become more important as the ceremony played on.

When Ananya arrived, her attendants dropped rose petals before her, as she made her way to the stage. Once there, Adam greeted her with a large garland of flowers of her own before she took a seat next to him as the ceremony began. First prayers (Puja) were offered to Lord Ganesh, the Gauri Mata, and the Four Vedas to bless the occasion and make the marriage ceremony free of obstacles. Also, the prayers solicit the blessings of elders and forefathers and pray for this to be an auspicious day for the marriage  ceremony. Following the prayers, the Bride’s father offers the groom yogurt and honey  (Kanyadaan) as an expression of welcome and respect. In one of the most interesting aspects of the ceremony, in my opinion was known as the Gath Bandhan, or the tying of the knot. Scarves worn by the bride and groom are tied together by both sets of parents, to offer blessings for unity, prosperity, and happiness.

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Clearly some things are more important than trying to understand a 2-hour ceremony.

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The Saptapadi or Seven steps and vows

“I wonder if this is where the expression “Tying the knot comes from?” I said to the boy. He looked at me, shrugged and then went back to peering over his cousins’ shoulders. As the Hindu priest moved the ceremony along he spoke in a mixture of English and Sanskrit which flowed perfectly with the background music, but nonetheless made what he was saying bit difficult to understand. In addition, there was an undercurrent of  people murmuring while others meandered in and out of the ballroom. Curious I followed them out into the immediate hallway, where a nice spread of bite size sandwiches, fruit slices and nonalcoholic were located. Helping myself to some fruit slices, I found my sister in law Mary Beth  and approached her saying “Isn’t it interesting there are more Indians out here munching and talking than inside watching the ceremony?” “According to one of the gentlemen we’re getting the abridged version” She began,  “In India the actual ceremony can last upwards to six hours; hence having a little sustenance out here for the family members. Then he added that’s why men and women think long and hard before making the commitment to marry because no one wants to go through that long ceremony again”.

“Mom you missed the best part…” the doll admonished me upon my return. “Really?” I asked. “Yes, Adam and Ananya said some vows to one another and then it was a race to see who could sit down the fastest.” Looking oddly at her I replied, “What? I mean I’m sure you misinterpreted…” “No mom, they said whoever sits down first earns the firm say in the marriage and Ananya kinda dove into the seat first”. Looking up at the stage as the ceremony continued, I said to the doll, “Well no one has ever accused that woman of being stupid”.  As the ceremony headed into the home stretch, one of the most impressive of all the prayers said to the many gods that day was when Adam and Ann took part in the Saptapdi.  Here they took seven steps together while reciting seven vows to one another:

With the first step, we  will provide  for and support each other.
With the second step, we will develop mental, physical & spiritual  strength.
With the third step, we will share the worldly  possessions.
With the fourth step, we will acquire knowledge, happiness and  peace.
With the fifth step, we  will raise strong and virtuous children.
With the sixth step, we  will enjoy  the fruits of all seasons.
With the seventh step, we will always remain friends and cherish each  other.

Then Adam put a pinch of Vermillion powder in part of Ananya’s hair signifying her married status and the crowd went wild! Well maybe not, but we were happy the ceremony had come to a close. Later at the reception, Ananya’s father made a very important statement saying, “I’m glad we had the ability to celebrate both Adam’s Catholic faith and our Hindu faith. With those many gods praying for them, how can this marriage go wrong?

Indeed.

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Some of the photos presented here came from Sue Maloney’s camera.

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The Baraat (not to be confused as a brat)…

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Saturday morning, the boy and I overslept, of course. The doll who opted to stay with her cousins in their room left the boy and me each with nice comfy beds to ourselves. “Mom, aren’t we supposed to be involved in something this morning?” The boy asked as I lifted my eyelids to gaze at the clock. “OH! Craaaa!!” I exclaimed and quickly ran toward the bathroom to shower. A quick five minutes later, the boy was taking his shower while I dressed and applied make-up.IMG_0557

When we were fully dressed and ready to go, we made our way to the lobby where we met up other family members and friends of the couple. To begin the Baraat, we were directed out the front door of the hotel, into their front parking lot. The sun was warm and bright, the day a gorgeous blue. Lifting my arm to shield my eyes until adjusted, I turned to my right and found my nephew Adam (or as he became known that day, Aladam), dressed in Indian attire, seated atop a white horse. Taking a moment to snap a picture or two, our attention was then drawn to an automobile with a loud speaker attached and a host, who directed our movements as the Baraat got underway.

The Baraat in Hindu tradition is when the groom and his family and friends, arrive at the wedding in a procession with celebration. As we moved through the parking lot, Indian music blared from the loudspeaker and we were directed to dance. “Raise your hands!!” the director exclaimed and we did. At one point, we were asked to stop and turn back toward Aladam, who was following us on his horse. “Let the bride know he has arrived!! Everyone shout his name!!” In unison, we shouted “Adam!” “Oh, she can’t hear that, you must be louder!” He said. “ADAM! ADAM! ADAM!” We shouted again. Satisfied, the music was turned back up and we began to dance in procession again. “Lift your hands!!” The director shouted and we did as we were told, dancing, hands above our head, dancing in the hotel parking lot, all the while Adam followed us on his horse.IMG_0472IMG_0477

When we finally reached the rear entrance to the building, Adam came down from the horse and was greeted by a man bearing large red and white flowered lei’s. After placing one around Adam’s, his parents and godparent’s neck, Adam was greeted by a woman who placed a red paint dot on his forehead, as well as his parents. From there we all turned and processed back into the hotel and into their grand ballroom, to await the arrival of the bride Ananya so the “Om Shree Prajapataye Namah, The wedding ceremony could begin.

 

 

Exotic foods….

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the kids and I attended my nephew’s double, 3-day wedding (extravaganza) over the weekend. Though unlike his sister, the boy and I only attended two of the 3-days events. Following his school day on Friday, the boy and I drove down to Columbus together sharing some fun conversation and classic rock music. Upon putting all our suitcases in the car, I looked over at him and asked, “Is there a reason we’re taking your survival bag with us?” Giving me a funny look back he replied, “Ah…It’s always good to have it available”. “Ah okay, but I hope you have enough food supplements in there to keep us both alive if need be…” I said as he turned to go. Stopping for a moment he looked back at me and said, “I’ll be right back” before disappearing back into the house. Once he was settled into the car, we made our way out of town, setting up one of the best days the two of us have had in some time…

About an hour into our drive, after stopping him from running the table on Classic Rock Satelite stations, I changed the subject. “Shouldn’t you be studying for your math final?” I asked. “Mom, the test isn’t until Wednesday, I can take a few hours off…” He tried to reason with me. “Bay, if I were you (liar) I’d try to study every chance you get this weekend,” I said, knowing he wouldn’t believe me, but hoping he would feel compelled to pull the book out anyway. “Mom I’ve been rethinking my idea about making the comic book heroes and villains immortal…” the boy said trying to change the subject. “Oh, in the “book” you’re thinking about writing?” I replied, allowing the subject change. “Well, if they are immortal, they can never be defeated, only dejected”. “That’s a valid point, but at least you’ll have endless dejected stories to tell…” I offered and he guffawed before saying, “Uh yeah, no”.

About an hour and a half later the boy suggested we stop to get something to eat. “At the next stop, I think you should stop and get me a shake…” the boy announced. “I’m not going to get you a shake” I replied. “What? I’m in the mood for a nice shake…” He explained. “Bay, what did you eat for lunch?” I wondered, considering the school hosted a picnic for all the students. “Four pieces of pizza and a rootbeer. I made that rootbeer last….” He replied. “Well if you’re thirsty, drink this water. As for the food…I think you can wait until dinner…” I replied.

Later, after we arrived and changed for the reception he decided the food they had placed out was not to his liking. “Bay, they have pasta and grilled cheese sandwiches…” I pointed out. “I know, but I’m not really that hungry…remember I ate 4 pieces of pizza this afternoon…” He said. “Um, well that didn’t stop you from wanting me to stop earlier…” I replied. “Well, that was when fried and greasy food was on the menu….not this exotic looking food”. He replied.”Exotic? How is grilled cheese exotic?” I wondered. “They’re using some exotic cheese…” He replied. “Um, they’re using cheddar cheese…” I explained. “Exactly. I only like American. Kraft American to be exact…” He said while I made a faux barfing motion. “Bay, if you don’t like the grilled cheese sandwiches, then how about the mashed potato bar or the pasta bar?” I tried. “Eh, a few Shirley temples should fill me right up…” He said and then walked away.

Shaking my head at his responses, I turned to leave. I had a dinner date with the Chipotle across the street. The boy’s exotic foods were not on my meal plan either, but for entirely different reasons.

The girls…

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My nephew Adam was married over the weekend, twice. Once on Friday to celebrate his Catholic faith and then again on Saturday to celebrate her Hindu faith. What this amounted to was a weekend long celebration and blending of cultures, or as we like to call it, a standard family party! 

A few months back Ananya, the bride to be asked the doll if she would perform a dance with her cousins during the Hindu reception. She provided a video link of the dance and instructor from which the girls could study and learn the dance. In addition, the doll was measured for a Sari, a traditional outfit to wear to the wedding as well.

Over the last month, the doll practiced every evening, trying to mark the steps and hand movements. “Mom, what do you think so far?” She asked me one night as I watched her mimic the dance emanating from our TV. “I think you need to smile more” I said. “Mom I’m marking out the steps” she replied, not happy with my comment. “Doll all I’m saying is don’t forget to smile”.  As a matter of course, she stuck her tongue out at me and went back to practicing. In addition to practicing at home, she spent the last two weekends with her cousins, working together to get the dance steps down in unison. 

Fast forward to Saturday night, the girls nervously sat at the table fretting over the upcoming dance. “I don’t think I can eat” Mary said and the doll concurred. “C’mon, you girls have performed on a stage…” I said. “Yes but never on a full stomach. What if I throw up?” Mary rebutted. “You’re not going to throw up, give me a break. Just do your best. All of you stop fretting about this and remember if you do mess up, no one will know” I added. The doll walked over behind me and said “I can’t help if I’m my father’s daughter mom”. Smiling back at her I replied, “Oh yeah? Well don’t forget your half mine too–so knock it off”. 

When the girls were introduced and the music began all of a sudden the room erupted in hoots and hollers from all in attendance. Afterward, the Indian women came up to the girls to congratulate them on their hard work and show their appreciation that the girls were respectful of their Indian dance and culture. Of course, the rest of us couldn’t have been more proud of our dancers and for the record, the doll and her cousins flashed her pretty smile throughout.

Dear Readers….

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I had dinner not to long ago, with a friend who never married and has no children. I had her laughing about all the messes we seemed to get into and about how frustrating my kids can be; how they drive me nuts. She looked at me and asked, “Did you ever think you were cut out to be a mom?” Laughing I said, “I knew I’d be a mom. For a while there didn’t think I could be-biologically speaking, but I always wanted to be one so…yes I did. That does not mean that I’m a very good one though”. I replied. “What made you want to have kids?” She asked and I laughed, “Oh, catholic guilt probably.” She laughed and asked “Really? That’s it?” I stopped for a moment and thought before the answer came clear in my head, “I’m going to need someone to take care of me in my old age. Who better than my own children?” She offered a guffaw and then looked at me a little harder. Finally I replied, “They make my life so much more rich and interesting”.

There is the underlying value. The boy and the doll make my life rich and interesting every day, even the days when they frustrate me to no ends. When I try to imagine where I’d be today, if I they were never conceived, a few things come to mind. First, I’d probably have a little more money in my pocket but I wouldn’t have as many friends. I wouldn’t have a blog to vent about my life, which is a lifeline for me. I think our life would be rather boring because the kids, even with their problems and issues and lousy math scores, bring so much more vitatlity to our lives than not. Plus, when we do reach old age, the doll and boy will hopefully, at least, come visit us in the nursing home.

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I’ve been doing this exercise/food portion controlled program for the last three weeks, trying to change the course of my life. As a birthday present to myself I decided it was time to stop acting like a child and start paying attention to what my body has been telling me. With the help of my neices I’ve been doing fairly well, even lost a few pounds. What’s the most shocking to me is how great I feel as opposed to before.  Of course dropping a pant size is encouraging too…

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The other day I wrote if Mrs. K had not been in the car, I might have kicked the boy. My husband later admonished me saying “You come across as a bully” He explained. “Well first of all, even if he did happen to sit in the front seat, I wouldn’t have been able to kick him, the console would have gotten in the way. In addition, my readers are semi-intelligent (I say semi because you read this blog), they understand frustration written out is not the same as actual physical punishment or attacks. But for the record, please let me inform, “No physical harm has ever come to any of my children for failing to talk to their Math teachers. In addition, if either child happens to fail their math finale exams next week, while I’ll be upset and unhappy afterward, their punishement will be to take remedial Math classes and  lose internet service for the summer.

That seems the more appropriate and painful response.

Happy long weekend 🙂

 

 

Just heard….

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I ate dinner at my father’s last night and as per usual, we finished the evening listening to music, via Youtube’s music channels. “You pick who you want, I don’t care…” My dad assigned. “Okay…” I said heading over to his computer. “Except country….” He mumbled. “What? Did you say except country?” I asked. “A little bit of that music goes a lonnng way.” He explained while I laughed. “Duly noted Dad…” I said trying not to laugh, considering he’s had “When you wish upon a star” stuck in his head for over a month and requesting that we listen to Linda Ronstadt’s version ad nausea.

how can I keep from lauhghing?

how can I keep from laughing?

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“Jeez mom, why do you always seem to pick the scab off of that particular misery of mine?” The doll admonished when I reminded her of the school guinea pig’s demise on it’s one and only trip home (to our house) for a weekend. “Well, for one, it is funny–after the fact,” I said and giggled. “My bad experiences aren’t party favors for you mom!!” She announced which only succeeded in making me laugh harder.

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We surivived birding 2015

We survived birding 2015

After birding last Saturday, on the drive home I asked the boy what birds he came across, wondering if they were different than mine. After naming a few different birds, he added, “Oh and I happened to notice one little boy who reminded me an awful lot like me…” He began before adding, “Oh who am I kidding? There were plenty of mini-me’s out there”. Which made me laugh and add, “Duh, I could have told you that”. Smirking he added, “Yes, but none are as good looking as me”. “I totally concur…” I said before he changed the subject.

path of least resistance…

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There’s a line in the Brandi Carlile song, Again Today, which reads, “The path of least resistance is catching up again with me today…” Which seems to hover around my head whenever I’m trying to convince my son to study for the classes he’s having the most difficulty in. Yet for some reason he believes if the subject matter doesn’t come easy to him, then he’s not interested in learning and therefore studying for said subject, namely Math.

Sunday night when his father and I cut out his “Play-time” to begin studying he looked us both in the eyes and said, “It won’t help, when it comes to Math, I’m retarded”. I looked back at him and began to laugh with incredulity over his statement. “No bay, you’re not. Do you want to know how I know? Because you’re the one who tested into Honors. If what you’re saying is true, then you wouldn’t be anywhere near an honors class. Instead what we have here is a boy who doesn’t like hard work-school or otherwise. Well, guess what? For the next two weeks, you’re going to work hard on passing this class.”

I enlisted help from my older brother Bill (Math wiz), who graciously cleared two evenings off his busy schedule to meet with him at his downtown office. After the first session, Bill told me “Marsh, he’s a bright kid, who knows this stuff. He’s a bit messy…” “Don’t tell her that,” the boy interrupted, admonishing his uncle, “it will only give her more ammunition to use against me…” Laughing I said, “He’s not telling us something we didn’t already know…” to the boy, who grunted and then disappeared into the house. “Marsh, he needs to practice this stuff, that’s all…he understands this but likes to distract himself even while working the problem”. “Like I said to the boy, you’re not telling me anything I don’t already know. I’m just afraid the more I push him to live up to his potential, he’s going to shut down on us”. “I hear you, but continue building him up. He’s a smart kid”.

Armed with good information, I made sure the boy arrived thirty minutes early for school, so he could meet with his teacher privately. “Bay, make sure you ask Mr. M for help okay?” I said to him. “Okay Mom” he replied and exited the car. Later when I picked him up after school I asked him how math went. “Eh, okay” he replied. “Did you ask your teacher for help?” I wondered. “No, I told him my uncle was helping me…”

I’m telling you if Mrs. K. had not been in the car with us, I might have kicked him.

“BAY! Why did I get you to school early this morning?” “To give me time to prepare for all my classes…?” He replied. “TO MEET WITH MR. M ABOUT YOUR FAILING MATH GRADE” I replied trying desperately to keep my voice controlled. “Oh well, the stuff he’s teaching right now I’m okay with…” “You were supposed to ask him for more material to help you study…more practice problems…etc,” I said. “Oh, okay I’ll do that tomorrow”.

His final exam is next Wednesday…

“The path of least resistance is catching up with (him) again today….”