Family Friday

To get started on the structural changes we promised last week, we wanted to dedicate this Friday to family. 

Over the last month, we were lucky enough to spend a ton of time with our extended family. People came from near and far to A’s wedding, and literally treated her wedding with such an immense amount of importance. It was as if their own daughter was getting married. Our house doors were constantly swinging open as more and more family members piled in to join the festivities. And while family has always been a huge part of who we are, and a huge part of Jointly, after this summer we’re speechless at the amount of love and support we received. 

Yesterday, we watched as our final houseguests, our maternal grandparents, Nani and Nanoo, packed up and headed back to India. 

As you get older and move further and further away from your where you grew up, you learn to really treasure the time you have with your family. Of course, it’s not always so sweet. There are ups and downs, highs and lows. For example: K’s three day freakout about needing to turn the security system off because the constant in-and-out of our family members was interfering with her precious eight (eleven?) hours of sleep.

But coming home to a full house, being surrounded by people who love you (and who you love back), and always having someone to drink a piping hot cup of chai with, regardless of the hour, is unbeatable. 

So thank you, to everyone for such a memorable summer. Love you all. 

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Nanoo doing America right. Photo credit to our uncle, Gagan.

Jointly yours,

A & K

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Revisiting Sunday School

Hello all!

So the past few days, it seems as though Hinduism has popped up everywhere. I’ve seen random om tattoos (on non-Hindus…hey it’s cool!), signs of it in my favorite guilty pleasure, Charmed, and even in the book I was reading, Where’d You Go, Bernadette (more to come on this soon, but you should definitely try to snag it…or download it I guess). As someone who firmly believes in signs, I decided that all of these instances must mean that I’m meant to do a little research on Hinduism and maybe even become more religious. But as someone who has a Hindu god tattooed on their body, I should at least know more than the basics.

The number one reason Hinduism can be so confusing is because throughout its extensive history, there have been a vast number of key figures, each bringing a different philosophy, and sometimes even a different holy scripture, to the religion. It is for this same reason that Hinduism is frequently referred to as a way of life rather than a religion. All of this being said, most Hindus adhere to a body of texts (four of them to be precise) known as the Vedas and pursue a common system of values, dharma.

Dieties

The triumvirate are known as the three gods associated with the creation, upkeep, and destruction of the world. Brahma is considered to be the creator of the world and all of its creatures. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge (one that I am familiar with through years and years of praying for good grades), is known to be Brahma’s spouse. Brahma, however, is the least worshipped god in Hinduism. It is said that this is either because a) his job as creator is done or b) his incessant pursual of Shatarupa, a woman he created to help in his creation of the world. Lord Shiva cursed Brahma for such incestuous behavior by making him a god that no one worships.

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Vishnu is the Hindu god of preservation and protection of the universe. It is said that in times of trouble, Vishnu returns to the earth in order to maintain the balance of good and evil. He has been re-incarnated nine times and believers say he will be re-incarnated one last time close to the end of the world. Two of Vishnu’s incarnations are known as Rama (the greatest warrior/ideal man) and Krishna (the mentally advanced man), who are respectively characters in the epic stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Vishnu’s consort is Lakshmi, the goddess of success and wealth. Vishnu played a large part in the churning of the Milky Ocean (a story that explains how the gods defeated all the demons and became immortal).

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Lakshmi is known as the goddess of success and wealth not just to humans, but even to the other gods. It is because of her absence that the demons were able to take over the world in the first place and in order to get her and her blessing back, the gods had to churn her out of the Milky Ocean. This took 1,000 years, symbolizing that Lakshmi bestows good fortune on those who work hard, display virtue and bravery, and ask for blessings without greed.

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Shiva, the third god in the triumvirate is meant to destroy the universe, leaving room for re-creation. It is believed that his power to destruct is constantly in use, destroying any illusions and imperfections, paving a path for beneficial change. Thus, Shiva is seen as a source of both good and evil. Shiva is also known to be the Lord of Dance, which is a very important form of art in India. Shiva alone is known for his uncontrollable passions which lead him to extreme behavior. Parvati, his wife, brings him balance through their relationship of equality. Parvati is an incarnation of Devi, the Mother-goddess, who has also taken form as Kali, the goddess of death and Sati, the goddess of marital felicity. Together, Shiva and Parvati symbolize perfect marital bliss. Lord Ganesh is their son who has the body of a human, but the head of an elephant. Ganesh has always been a family favorite and is also my left hand man (literally). Ganesh is the Remover of Obstacles, new beginnings, and travel. Before getting my tattoo, I did a bit of research (it’s important to know exactly what will be on your skin forever), and Ganesh is always made to have large ears, to represent the importance of listening, a small mouth (if one at all) to signify the importance of listening over speaking, and small eyes to symbolize the importance of always seeing others as larger than yourself. To me, Lord Ganesh represents my family (especially my dad who has adorned all of our houses with literally almost 100 idols of Ganesha), new beginnings (and everything starts with your hands), and the remover of all the obstacles that come before me.

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My left-hand man

Why I’m drawn to Hinduism

The main reasons I’m drawn to Hinduism as a religion (other than the fact that I was born into it) are because of it’s portrayals of Gods, love, and it being more a way of life than a religion. Gods, in Hinduism, are shown to be extremely human in their feelings, emotions, and actions. They are all flawed, and defined by not just their strengths, but also their weaknesses. Another reason I find myself interested in Hinduism is because of the representation of love. The fact that God’s are married, the image of marital bliss, or even forbidden lovers. I know A really loves the emphasis of feminism found in the religion. All of these things combined make Hinduism a little more relatable. Of course, I also love the fantastical and sci-fi elements of it all as well, but it is important, I think, to be able to relate to a religion.

Obviously there is so much more to learn. It seems the information on Hinduism is endless. I’ve really only provided a brief background and information on a few deities. If you’re still curious, BBC provides great, but brief, information on their site or I’m more than happy to give you my Dadi’s (Grandmother’s) phone number!

Lots of love (and prayers),

K

Bollywood vs. Reality

So, as most of you know (or should know by this point), I am a little bit of a Bollywood* junkie. So much so that a few days ago one of my friends informed me that one of India’s largest film production company’s was searching for a fresh new face and my stomach doubled over with excitement. This is my break. Naturally, my dad shot the idea down so fast and went on that whole “have you seen the filth in those movies”. I’m assuming by “filth” he means that on-screen kisses are now common in Hindi films.

Regardless, in effort to make myself feel a tad bit better about my now dead dreams, I have decided to write this post.

The differences between Bollywood and real life.

Time

The concept of time is highly skewed in all Hindi films. You’re probably thinking, yeah K, obviously, it’s a story condensed into a measly three hours (joke because three hours is NOT measly. Honestly, try telling that to the six year old being forced to sit through Jodhaa Akbar). Yeah, I get that but that’s not what I mean. In Hindi movies characters fall in love at first sight. No not like a general intrigue or a damn, that girl is on fire…actual “Hello madam, I love you” love. And this “love” usually ends up lasting a lifetime. HA. Okay. School days last for the duration of one four minute song, and going from post-shower, wet hair, to hair extensions in and perfectly blowing in the “natural wind” takes a solid one and a half minutes. So it’s no wonder why the typical nine to five seems like a total drag and that my bicep hurts after twenty minutes with a blow dryer.

Song and dance

One of the most disappointing things about growing up on Bollywood is realizing that real people don’t sing and dance. Like excuse me, but I was brought up to believe that when I had my first crush we would spend days and days together running through fields in different outfits expressing our inability to sleep (oh because it is common in Bollywood for characters to become insomniacs when they’re in love) to one another. Instead? Instead I had to sit at the dining room table doing my Kumon (by doing I mean opening the answer booklet and copying down the answers…I mean really…why would you ever trust a kid with an answer booklet?) and wondering if my crush would still be on AIM when I was done. Most days he wasn’t.

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No two guys have done this for me. Ever.

Boys and Love

There is just too much to say, I may have to break this down even further.

1. Daydreams

In Hindi movies both guys and girls only have one category of idle thinking…love. In reality, while I am over here daydreaming about   love, the guy I’m thinking about is daydreaming about motorcycles, brewing beer, and awesome facial hair. AREYOUSERIOUS?

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Day dreamin’ like whattt

2. The romantic late night scene

You know that scene that Shakespeare invented? The classic girl on the balcony, guy in the garden scene? Yeah, Bollywood stole that shit and reinvented it at least 200 times. So naturally here I am expecting that…or at least a nice goodnight phone call (talk about low maintenance right?). Instead? On a good day maybe us ladies will receive a “Goin to bed, night”. Oh really? Because Ram snuck into Leela’s bedroom to share forbidden pillow talk and you say “goin to bed”? You don’t even care enough to add the last G? What the…

3. In reality boys are a lot shorter, probably because they can’t get away with wearing man high-heels.

4. Courting

In Bollywood the male lead will pretty much harass and stalk the girl until she’s like “okay, yay, I love you too!”. So imagine the surprise of Indian girls all over when their first crush confesses his love for her, she plays hard to get, and then the next day he’s dating some other sixth grader who’s already had braces. Yo, you’re supposed to court me for at least 2 months. And by court I mean get a group of guys and trail behind me singing songs until I give in.

5. Protectiveness

Raj from DDLJ got his ass handed to him by a bunch of random Punjabi men at a train station when he refused to leave town without the love of his life, Simran. And you are just going to let that random drunk guy hit on me? Not only are you going to let it happen, you’re just going to laugh and walk to the bar and get a drink? YES I can take care of myself but chivalry was never meant to die.

Trains

As you can tell from the above story in #5, trains are sort of a big deal in Bollywood. Raj and Simran. Aditya and Geet. Kabir and Naina. As a Chicagoan, I take the L like…multiple times a day. And I have been doing so for the past four years. And the only remotely romantic thing that has happened to me on the train is when R and I caught a glimpse of each other as the doors were closing. R ended up on a different car than I did, so at the next stop with both ran to one another and met on the car in between and hugged in victory. R is one of my best friends…and a girl. Other than that it’s very much just creepy people saying creepy things to you or to themselves which is even creepier.

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The favorite Bollywood couple, Raj and Simran

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2013’s modern day train scene

In a strange twist of fate, this post has not made me feel any better about my dead Bollywood dreams. In fact, it has somehow made me love Bollywood even more. I guess I am that brainwashed by Indian cinema. Sigh.

Lamely yours,

K

* Bollywood is India’s film industry. It happens to be the largest film industry in the world, bringing in about…well I don’t know because my Internet is being really slow. But it brings in a lot of money and Bollywood actors and actresses are essentially royalty. Each film is roughly between 2.5-4 hours long and almost every movie has a few songs sprinkled into the storyline. It is easily the best past time ever.