Monday, January 10, 2011


The next morning as I wait for Massi and Bangalore Cousin to take me to the pandit, I eat breakfast and sip tea. I am five days into my 15 days in India and completely jonesing for java. I almost wish I had no-doze to supplement my caffeine intake – clearly I’m an addict.

"Didi,” the maid says. Didi in Hindi means sister, and this lady is not my sister. But Indians are very formal and respectful when addressing one another. In Mom’s family all of my cousins except me have pet names and I rarely use any of their given names when I speak to them. This makes introductions to outsiders awkward because my mind defaults to their pet name. “Yes?” I say to the maid. “Today your hair is not looking that nice. I think you should style it like yesterday,” she shares. Only in India does a woman who bathes in a loo on the roof tell a hipster from Manhattan to restyle her hair. I guess you have to admire desi moxie in all its forms. “I’ll take it under advisement,” I reply the maid in Hindi as Bangalore Cousin enters the dining room. “What advice are you taking from the maid?” she asks. “Don’t ask,” I mutter in English. “Ready for the second puja?” Bangalore cousin asks. “Yep,” I reply. As ready as I will ever be.

Thirty minutes later Massi, Bangalore Cousin and I are sitting in the pandit’s puja parlor for the continuation of the gauri-shankar (marriage) prayers. There are five in total, so three remain.


Today the pandit has given me a gauri-shankar stone, a two-sided, desi ying-yang bead that is supposed  to  develop my matrimonial energy by opening one of my chakras from oneness to togetherness, and aligning me with universal love.

I guess the stone harmonizes the wearer’s (mine) relationships and expands love’s influence in my life, which will result, by the grace of Shiva and Parvati, in attracting a suitable life partner. I wonder if this stone can resolve world peace. But in seriousness, I guess the greatest gift love gives us is the ability to realize our  weaknesses and those of our spouse, and love the person despite the deficit. I guess through mortal love, you can aspire towards embracing universal love.


Maybe being with my people makes me clairvoyant. Despite the disagreements and drama this family brings about, I belong to these people and they belong to me. I don’t think they realize how they surround me in love and support, which helps me appreciate that finding myself is more important than finding someone else. Once and for all, I need to stop hiding behind Law & Order re-runs, napping, happy hours, volunteering and helping others. Because I can’t care for him, until I first care for me. Maybe that is why I have come to India. To realize here, what I refuse to see back in America --- my deficits.

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