Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cross your fingers and wish on a black car

I smile whenever I see a mail van. When I was a kid wishing on mail vans was very popular. When you spot a mail van you make a wish and cross your fingers. You can only uncross your fingers when you see a black car. This is how your wish will come true. All my adolescent and teenage years I have done this. I remember one day I had seen a mail van on the way to school and crossed the  fingers of my left hand. I didn't open them the whole day because I hadn't seen a black car. In the evening I saw another mail van so crossed  the fingers of the other hand too. And then waited on the road across my place for a mail van.

So whenever I see I mail van I feel like wishing for something. And then I smile. They remind me of the time I was allowed to be silly and stupid. Not that I am not silly or stupid now, but I am not supposed to be.

Remember wishing on your eyelash? The stray ones that would sometimes fall on your face? We used to call it wish hair. Even today, whenever I see a stray eyelash on someone's face, I urge them to wish.

So what did you wish on as a kid? And what is it that you wished for? I am curious. 

I think the next time  I see a mail van  I will wish for more time to blog. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I am a Hindu because I was born in a Hindu family. Being a Hindu is of no consequence to me. Believing in God is. My faith does not depend on rituals.

Around a year back I had gone to the Kali temple in Kalighat, with Kaniti.  It was my first visit. We went there to buy a pair of shakha, pola(bangles that married Bengali woman wear) for my bhabhi. And it is an experience I am not likely to forget. For all the wrong reasons. We were buying stuff outside the temple when we decided to visit the Goddess inside.

There were more than several pundits trying to lure people in. One of the pundits told us that he will help us offer Puja for Rs 22. We decided to go with him. He made us buy some stuff. Flowers, sindoor, a red cloth, red thread, some bangles and prasad. And then he took us to a place we could keep our shoes. We took off us shoes and followed him. He took us for a darshan through the “V.I.P” entrance so that we young girls could avoid the crowd. We saw the idol and then he took us to another room where we could offer our puja.
He made us sit separately because we are not of the same caste(Kaniti is a Brahmin which I am not) All my life I have never been asked my caste as if it’s such an important thing. That was the first time.

We sat for a while and he called us in turns so that we could perform puja. And then the something we were not expecting happened. He asked for 1500 bucks. He said it’s an offering to Kali. I was shocked. I told him I didn’t have the money and that he had said the puja could be done in only 22 rupees. He said that was for the things we had bought. Both Kaniti and I were shocked. He kept on arguing with us and at one point turned nasty. For a moment I was really scared.

I explained to him that we had no money and offered a Rs.50 note. He looked offended and then said we could come back to the temple and give money when our wishes came true. We nodded in agreement and went outside.

When we went to the place our shoes were kept, we were in for another not-so-pleasant-surprise. The pundit asked for his service fee. I don’t remember how much we paid him but I think it was around 100 bucks.  After that I just about had enough money to go back home.

As soon as I got on the bus I rubbed of the red “tikka” from my forehead. I was feeling so sickened. As soon as I reached home I recalled the story to my Mom. I was so disgusted I tore off the red thread from my hand and went for a shower.

Religion is made ugly by such people. To them it’s just business. A money making scheme. I would rather to stay away from anything which holds no meaning for me. And certainly not something that involves mixing worship with money. The pundit was trying to fleece us in the name of God. We, as educated young girls were feeling victimized. And I don’t ever want to feel that way when it comes to my faith in god. My faith remains unshaken and my stance against  rituals is stronger now.