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Sun, Sand, Stars and Dreams

The chronicles of a misfit Indian teen

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Festivals

2015.

As with everything else, 2015 comes to an end as well. It was an average year for me, not something I would love to look back on and cling on to.
Like every year, it had its own share of ups and downs.
At the start of the year, I had made a sort of bucket list of things to be accomplished. Not a lot of it was crossed out, however. So, those will be the ones on the list for 2016. Recycling. Not that bad an idea, eh?

This was my bucket list for 2015. A lot of memories were made and some unexpected disappointments too. So, here goes:

 

1. Read at least 50 books. – Done.
I managed to read exactly 50 books this year, accounting to a total of nearly 20,000 pages read, which averages to around 400 pages per book. Which I believe is a very good thing. I read quite a few nearly 1000 pages books too, like the entire Game of Thrones series (except book 5.2) and Shantaram. Another thing I am proud about is that I started reading quite a bit of literary fiction and loved them.

2. Write at least 30 blog posts. – Nope.
Unfortunately, blogging ended up taking a back seat this year, due to a lot of things.

3. Learn to drive a car and get a license. – Done.
Although I haven’t perfected the art of driving in the midst of heavy traffic, I managed learn to drive adequately and got my driver’s licence just two days back.

4. Go on a solo trip or a trip with friends somewhere. – Nope.
Had to happen, planned on it happening, but got postponed to 2016.

5. Go for more MUNs. – Done.
From attending my first ever college MUN in January 2015, I have attended quite a bit of those conferences in 2015 and plan on attending some more in 2016.

6. Write at least half of the novel that you were planning on writing.– Nope.
I had a massive writer’s block stretching for the major part of the year. My muse seemed throughly exhausted and I was pretty drained out, so that didn’t happen.

7. Learn Tamil. – Kind of.
I learned to speak some more, but it is still not perfect.

8. Do something productive after college. – Done.
Quite a lot of things actually. I interned with this awesome place and earned my first every pay check, went for some classes, met a lot of new people.

9. Learn to bake the perfect chocolate cake. – Not quite.
I did go for a baking class, but whether I actually learnt anything from there, is pretty doubtable.

10. Visit any other country, apart from India and Saudi Arabia. – Done.
Well, UAE is another country. Even though I have been there countless times. Some more foreign tours were planned this year, but never materialised, although I hope it will happen next year.

11. Volunteer somewhere. – Done.
Some time in August, I began volunteering with this NGO called Bhumi, where I teach English to underprivileged primary school children in orphanages. Although, it seemed like tiring and exhausting work, it was what gave me my much needed energy and happiness at the end of the work. The experience of actually doing something good, is really a pleasure.

12. Be happy.
The hardest one on the list. With one of the hardest answers.
2015 was a year with its equal shares of ups and downs, but the valleys were deeper than the hills. There were days and times in this year, when I felt that everything was lost, everything was just blank space. Really dark times and really lonely ones. Days when I was really afraid, although I seemed normal. Days I feared a relapse, days I thought I was actually relapsing, days when all I wanted to do was escape from it all.

But, for each of those days, there were a few, who stood by, who helped me up, my really good friends from school. But, when my best friends turned out to be battling demons of their own, hope seemed lost.
However, we survived. We are still strong, here to see what is hopefully a better year.
So, I have to say, what ever it was, 2015 was a successful lesson. Taught me a lot of things and showed me where my loyalties lie, and who remained and remains loyal to me.

2013

And so 2013 comes to a close as well.
This year hasn’t been one of the best for me, as those who’ve read my past posts would have known. I hope it wasn’t bad for you guys though.
The new year has the potential to be either the best or the worst year of my life. It all comes down to that one thing, fate or destiny.
Well, what has to happen, will happen, and instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, it is best to live in the present.
That’s what I plan to do from now on.
I guess I can call it a New Year Resolution. Although I don’t really take resolutions in a new year. Because if you want to change something about yourself, you’ve got to do it NOW and not wait till the year ends.

So, instead of thinking about unhappy things, it is better to count my blessings.

Some of the best things that happened to me in 2013:
1. My best friends: Gosh! You guys are amazing! I don’t know what I’d do without you all. You taught me what it means to live, to laugh, to enjoy and also to be serious at times. I swear I’ll miss you terribly when we part in April/May (after graduation), but I hope we keep in touch till we are ninety. 😛

2. My class and the teachers: I feel really blessed to have studied in such a wonderful class. The students and the teachers were absolutely brilliant.
Especially, that one teacher. Yes, I know that you hated me and that the feeling was mutual. Then, I don’t know what changed after the second term. I think you stopped hating me and that’s when I saw you for what you really are. That’s this amazing, bold, smart and brave woman, who is not afraid to stand up for anything. I admire you, a lot, and I think I’ll actually miss you, ma’am. It’s just that I’m still a bit too scared to tell you that.

3. Two trips which changed my perception of the whole world;
a. The field trip sponsored by the school.
b. An inter-school quiz held in another city and the subsequent road trip to and from the location with my teammates.
The quiz was held by the rival school who took out their on us, just because we had defeated them in a previous quiz. They asked obvious questions to their team and obscure ones to us, just so that we could be eliminated from the competition.
But, even if the quiz was bad, that trip taught me a lot. How we could overcome obstacles, and how a team supports each other.

4. The RCS essay competition:
For giving me a silver award and boosting my confidence.

5. This blog:
Even though I haven’t been very active, I have to say that I love you all (in the most innocent, platonic way ever). Because it gave me the confidence to be myself and believe in myself.

Things 2013 taught me
1. If you think you are good at something, there is always someone better than you.
2. Even if you are the best, someone else might end up winning, just because they had influence or support.
3. Be yourself. No matter what anyone else says, there is no one better than yourself.

On another note, this blog hit a 100 followers and 200 likes! And I’m very happy about it! 😀

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Anyway, I’d like to wish you all a hearty Season’s Greetings and hope that the new year blooms bright, fresh, happy and prosperous.
And with that, you can all go back to whatever you were doing or get ready to celebrate New Years’ Eve, while I go back to my books. (Not to start a pity party, but I just realised that I’ve never been to a party, a proper kind, not the functions where you tag along with your parents. But, I haven’t been to a wedding or a funeral either. So I’m not one to talk.)

Diwali- the Festival of Lights

Happy Diwali to everyone.

So, yes, today is Diwali or Deepavali, the Indian Festival of Lights.

There are many legends and tales on how Diwali came about

But, however it came to be, now it is considered the Festival of Lights and Sweets.

However in South India, since we already have yet another festival of lights, known as Kartika Deepam, we celebrate Diwali with everything other than the lights, which pretty much misses the entire point of the festival.

So, in south India, we just wear new clothes, pray both for prosperity and for the souls of our dead ancestors, blast firecrackers (so much that the entire city will be cloaked with smoke) and EAT!!

And that too eating all the dishes with high fat and sugar content.

It is pretty much the same with expat Indian communities around the world, only minus the firecrackers.

Depending on the various communities, the festival lasts for one to five days.

For me, Diwali begins with waking up really early (which is really difficult for a non-morning person like me) and then having a long bath.

Then, later on in the evening, after my father is back from work, we dress ourselves up in new dresses and visit other fellow Indian expats.

I do enjoy it, especially since there is food, but unfortunately this year, I have an exam tomorrow, so I have to limit the amount of celebration and also the length of this post. 😉

P.S. Will try to post some Diwali pics later on. 🙂

The Indian festival of Onam

Today is the day of Thiruvonam, a major South Indian festival. It is celebrated by the Malayalam speaking people of India. It is a harvest festival.
Since Chennai has a large number of Malayali immigrants, the Onam festival is celebrated here too with great pomp and show.
It is a harvest festival and celebrates the end of the harvest and selling of the crop. (in turn getting money)
Originally, it was a 10 day long festival, but the modern Indian (who works in offices and does not go for agricultural work) cannot afford to waste 10 working days and so shortened it to just 3 days or even just 1 day.

Legend tells that a long time ago, there was a king named Mahabali who was immortal. But, he was very kind and good. He was also very generous. And during his reign, all the people were so happy and healthy that no one ever died. So, Mother Earth couldn’t bear the weight of these many people, so she went to Lord Vishnu (one of the 3 main Hindu deities) and told him her problem.
So, Lord Vishnu took his fifth re-incarnation, Vamana, the dwarf.
Vamana then went to King Mahabali and asked him for his help and to give him as much land as it would take for Vamana to take three footsteps.
King Mahabali agreed.
But then, Vamana started growing taller and larger. Then, he took one step which covered the whole Earth and another step which covered heaven.
Then, he had no other place to step upon to take his third footstep. So, King Mahabali, who was a man who kept his promises, told Vamana that he could take the third step on his head, which would push him off to the underground.
King Mahabali then asked Vamana only one thing, that he be allowed to see his subjects at least once a year. Vamana, i.e. Lord Vishnu agreed before King Mahabali was inevitably pushed into the underworld.
So, apparently, Onam is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali on that one day he could visit the Earth.
And that was the myth. Now, on Onam morning, everyone wakes up early, has a long bath and wears new dresses. Then the children go to pick and gather flowers (in villages) or they go to buy colourful flowers from the market (in cities).
Then, the children and teens, sometimes everyone, arrange beautiful flower carpets in various designs outdoors.
The adults would have started the preparation of a grand, multi-course lunch. This lunch, known as the ‘Sadhya’ is one of the main highlights of Onam.
Then, after the lunch is served, people sing songs and visit neighbours. They also play games, like tug-of-war with friends and family during the Onam time.
Around this time, the famous Snake Boat races of Kerala are held.
All together a jolly and happy mood is created.
But, to really enjoy all this, we must visit the villages, because, the urban Indian is far too busy to engage in all these activities and so, the spirit of Onam is much less in the cities as compared to villages.
It seems like the rich culture and heritage of India is on the verge of being lost. We must do our best to ensure that it doesn’t happen, although change is inevitable.
And with that, I bid you Good-Bye for now.
Cheers!
Anu

The flower carpet and the sadhya

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P.S. The underworld in Hindu mythology is NOT hell. For those interested, try searching Wikipedia for Patala and Naraka. King Mahabali was apparently sent to Patala and not Naraka.

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