No, this post is not about me, neither it is ‘exactly’ about these beautiful children, though it is about them. It is about HER, whose picture we didn’t have the courage to click. There are many children on streets of … Continue reading
During my India visit in 2013, the prominent radio host Seema Grewal asked me, “What do you feel about India?” What do I feel? India is a part of me, and I carry the essence of it wherever I go. … Continue reading
An Acquaintance to Rajasthan Chapter#1 (GangaNagar)
Intro: During our India Trip 2013, travelling to Rajasthan will remain unforgettable. My significant other and I decided to truly meet Rajasthan by roaming around as remotely as well could. We packed come cotton clothes and pairs of flip-flops, and off we went. Hospitality, generosity and amiability in Rajasthan are beyond imagination! People might not have been materialistically “so called rich” but they are honest and own giant hearts. We were deeply touched by lives of many brothers and sisters here. We need to get some more tourism in these areas to enrich ourselves by the true love that ‘still exists out here. I am starting off my travelogue with my first chapter, now that Rajasthan lives in me. I can speak of it right from within me. Kotakoura to Sriganganagar
After having lunch and delicious carry-out treat of Kotakpura’s speciality Atta Chicken & Dhoda Sweet with our friend in Kotakpura, we headed to Sriganganagar early evening, last week of October 2013. Oh,I must mention that Atta chicken is a must-taste dish, which is marinated, wrapped in a muslin cloth, then covered with wheat flour dough (hence the name) and roasted in a slow-fire oven. Once the shell turns hard, it’s cracked up to serve the steaming hot chicken inside garnished with dry fruit. Dhoda is one of Punjab’s traditional sweets. Dhoda’s richness is symbolic of the verdant land of milk and honey. After getting through the cities in Punjab, there was already considerable change in the landscape as we neared Ganganagar.
The Sun was almost set and roads were peaceful with almost no traffic. There was special caution that we were slightly aware of, which was to be careful of street animals being the major cause of accidents. Sometimes, you would not realize until you come very close to a dark coloured cow or get hit in worst case scenario. I must add that the road was very well paved and smooth throughout, I would still recommend that travelling during the day is much safer because of animals that would appear from nowhere. We had made quite a few stops on the way, and drove very slowly. I am sure it would not take that long for a local resident to travel.
So, then we were in Ganganagar by late night. You can call the place a little Punjab because it has substantial population of Punjabi people. Although Punjabis living here may own hectares of land, but their life-style is much simpler as compared to that of Punjabis living in Punjab, just an opinion. About Ganganagar: Named after Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner, Sri Ganganagar district was once part of Bikaner state and was mostly uninhabited region. The history of this district is testimony to the vision and efforts of Maharaja Ganga Singh, who built the Gang Canal after the Indian famine of 1899–1900. The waters of Satluj River were brought into the region through the 89-mile long Gang Canal in 1927, turning this region into a breadbasket of Rajasthan. Economy highly depends on Agriculture in this district. We stayed two nights in the village called 39wala, near Gajsinghpur. It seemed as though we had landed in the old Punjab that we hear about, or watch in movies. There are many mud houses, very well decorated with animal imagery.
You get to see a lot of men wearing chaadar kurtas. Punjabi and Bagri cultures dominate the district. Punjabi women wear a suit and salwar with chunni (cloth on head). This attire has also become popular with women of other communities. The embroidered Odhni (mostly red in colour) is a symbol of Bagri women. A long shirt and ghaghro (long frock type clothes) and borlo (a head ornament) is the traditional dress of Bagri women. The ghoonghat (or veil) is mainly in vogue among Bagri women. Men mainly wear a pant-shirt, kurta-pajama and dhoti. Here is where I got the idea to buy many cotton ghaghras and kurtas to travel rest of Rajasthan. The attire was not only comfortable but also made me feel that I was one of them and likewise for them.
I won’t be wrong to say people ‘respect’ water. There is ‘rain-water collector wells’ all over. You will meet many local Physio-Therapists, who have been in the occupation for generations. Meet Sonabai, a local physio-therapist from Gajsinghpur, Rajasthan. She has magical healing powers in her hands with her expertise earned through past 8 generations. Sonabai, is a favourite one for post-partum massages, chronic back pains, cramps and what not. Many of my followers have asked for her contact number, which is something I couldn’t get of her. Once you land in GajSinghPur or other villages as such, you will meet many therapists with magical healing powers.
People of Rajasthan have a very keen place for cattle in their lives. Animal sculptures, paintings, or animal love in general is visually common throughout the state. We visited a cow-stable, which also had a temple within. Cows are kept very clean, cared for and worshiped. In fact, right behind the stable was also a dairy barn which had hundreds of sheep and goat in the open space, grazing freely.
Walking back from stables, we met two brothers, Kushal and Gopal, who had set up a fire-pit next to the train-track, and were cooking chapatis. Not only they shared their food with us, but also shared the reason why they were stationed there from two nights. Gopal’s wife was in labour pains and was being treated at a mid-wife’s house nearby. Gopal had two sons before and his wife was to deliver the third child. When I asked him if the child was planned, Gopal just shied away and did not reply. Stick around, I will bring on my next exciting chapter very soon as we travel toward Bikaner.
As I walked into doctor’s office today, I saw a little girl sitting in the waiting room, drawing something in her book.
What! She was drawing a cemetery with many tombs in it? Unusual. I have witnessed kids that age drawing tree-houses, mountains, landscapes, cartoons but a cemetery?
“What are you drawing?” the usual me couldn’t resist from finding out more. She told me her name was Arshdeep, and was 8.
“This is the place for people after they die,” she said. Seeing a Punjabi child of that age to define and draw cemetery was surprising to me. I was quiet for a fraction of a second, “What made you draw this?”
“Whenever we pass by that place, I wondered what that was, but today I asked my dad about it. I requested him to take me inside there and show me around. I am just drawing what I saw.”
So what else did you see there? I was startling with her answers.
“These structures are different shapes and sizes, with names of the dead people with their dates of birth, death and many more things. I read many of them.” She continued drawing while telling me about it.
So what do you want to be when you grow older? I tried to change the focus to keep her engaged in the conversation.
“Happy” she said, “I want to be happy when I grow older.”
Are you not happy now? I simultaneously asked.
“I am happy now, but I want to be happy when I grow older too.” She had looked up for a few seconds as she replied, but then she got busier with her drawing of the cemetery.
I was numbed.
Although, we had an option to travel from Ganganagar to Bikaner straight via highway 15, but we decided to go off-road, more through remote path, along the Pakistan border areas. Roads in most of Rajasthan are smooth paved, and long stretched, with mostly one-way traffic width especially in out-of-the-way areas. We made many stops on our way talking to people, who were out grazing cattle, or to pick “Tuma” fruit as part of their seasonal harvest.
Tuma, is a fruit/vegetable that grows largely in dry landscapes. The fruit looks like it is a small “travel sized” cantaloupe, that’s what we thought until I got off to pick one of these off of the vines spread in the entire field. Just a few moments of getting to these yellow sparking fruits, to picking it off the vines, and returning back to the car, got me thorned up from head to toe, it took me hours to get rid of many of thorns that were stuck to my clothes. We later found out from farmers that Tuma is actually a vegetable that is used to feed animals and exported to many other parts of the world to be used for medicines and cosmetics etc. Do not taste it thinking they are mini-water melons, I say lolz.
We did not see any houses for miles, and there were people working in the fields, we wondered how much of the walk it would take for them to reach their farms or grazing areas. It didn’t however surprise us to see slim people in Rajasthan without an inch of body fat.
Carrying a large load of cotton clothes, and water bottles can be handy if you are planning a trip to Rajasthan. During the remote drive, there are no rest areas, so it is obvious to expect using open fields when nature calls.
At one of our stops, we played with children for some time during the noon hours until the sun was at its cool. The games they usually played were with small pebble stones, rocks, hide and seek, tree climbing, playing monkey-monkey etc. Over the course of our tour, we hardly saw toys in the hands of children especially in remote.
Passing by small villages, you would see a blend of mud-houses, and some brick houses as well. Again, cattle play an enormous part in the lives of Rajasthanis. Life largely depends on dairy products, and milk is offered to guests instead of tea in small villages.
We had started from foothills of Himalayas initially, travelling through Kotakpura to Sri Ganganagar. At this point, there was drastic change in the landscape, vegetation, lifestyles, and weather was getting drier as we moved along.
I will leave this chapter at that, and start off our entry to Bikaner in the next one. Stay tuned . Many fun stories on the way!
……and he was a father
Few years ago, I got an opportunity to work at one of the Senior Citizen Facilities; I was very pleased to accept it knowing that it would be very useful for me in order to get experience for future references forwards my Medical Field Career.
My First day, early winter morning, While starting my shift I was asked to spy on all the rooms on 2nd floor. The floor was full of elderly; one in each room. These elderly were living in here because some of them had no families, or were homeless, whereas the others were in this cage because their families had no time, no room for the old bones. No one on the entire floor spoke Indian language, except for one old man. He was usually mute as he had nobody to communicate with because he did not speak English. His eyes probably said more than his lips because eyes do not need any language.
Every time I saw him he was peaceful, taciturn and he would just do whatever the nurses would ask him to do. He would just follow the gestures and Of course, he had no other choice.
One day, when I was asked to help the nurses giving bath to some of the residents there including him, I approached him according to the sequence on the list. Before I even said anything to him, he quietly took of his head covering referred to as Turban, as he knew the routine.
“Where are your washed clothes baba ji?” I asked. I addressed him ‘baba ji’ because I being from Indian origin, was taught this incredible lesson, to not address elders by their name even if they are strangers to us. So ‘Baba ji’ basically would be any elderly who is my grandfather’s age or my grandfather himself.
“jes, cloth, box; he pointed his finger toward the cupboard saying only a couple of words out of the whole sentence in broken English, even though it seemed like he had a lot more to say in his heart and probably thought I was just like other nurses who would only speak English with him.
“I can talk to you in Punjabi, baba ji.” I said to him in his language again. He looked at me with surprised and overwhelmed expression which I could not quite understand that that particular moment. I stayed with him for another little while that day until it was turn to switch to another resident in care. After a warm fresh bath, he talked to me so much about his life, his well-educated children, his beautiful house that he owned at some point in his life, as if he wanted to blurt out the worldly things in that hour itself. Its mentionable here that according to his chart he was described as a very quiet man who did not like to involve much with other residents in any activities.
“My older son has a big house like a castle” The man was telling me so proudly with a victorious smile one day, even though he did not get to share a single corner in that palace that his son owned. In fact, I never heard him complain as to why he was left in that place or about his children.
“are you going to come here every day? “ he asked me with a great curiosity.
“No, once in a while,” I replied. It is good when you visit you know,” he added holding my hand with his wet eyes and smiling lips.
During my 200 hours of placement I visited that facility almost everyday and He always used to be so delighted to see me. He used to look forward for my next visit because I used to bring him some of his traditional food that he fed himself on his entire life, and I used to watch him eat and enjoy.
“I saw a little girl who looked just like my grand-daughter; she was with her mother visiting someone here.” He was informing me one day when I just started my day.
“oh really, so do miss your grand daughter?” I questioned him.
“She comes to see me once a while, but I know she must be forcing her mother to bring her here to see me every day, she is too attached to me, you see.”
“That’s great.” I replied with a phony and formal smile because I knew from the details of his chart that no one had ever visited him in past 2 years, as the children must have been busy with their own lives, children and accumulating sources for their own old age. That was the first day when I realized that the healthiest nutrition for him would be the affection and care of his family at this age.
The time went on and I finally finished my placement there and I still visited him, but not that often. When I got busier elsewhere and skipped visiting him, he would always complain the following day and be angry with me for a few minutes. In just a few moments he would again start telling me his many times overly repeated stories with no sequence but I used to get a unique satisfaction after seeing him happy.
I got busier with full time school and worked part-time and visited him every couple of months however, every time I found him more and more feeble and sitting like a victim of huge silence!
Then I almost could not visit him for 5 months of so, and it was a long gap. When I finally made it to his facility one day expecting the same greeting and attachment, but this time, it was different. The head nurse informed me that he had passed away just one week before. I was shocked and stunned, with no words to say or express. He passed away; no one knows how much he had in the depths of his heart to say!
-Loveen Kaur Gill
Aristotle once said, “The elephant was “the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind.” Elephants are a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and intelligence, where their intelligence level is thought to be equal to that of dolphins and primates.
Do we ever think of elephant, which was once a part of every peasant or king’s life? Especially while loving our Ivory Jewellery or decorations, do we remember this animal, elephant, which is so majestic that it had been considered as a vehicle for kings? This animal, which our children now applaud at, while visiting Zoo or Circus, once carried our pride on its back and rejoiced with our roots from beginning of time.