Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Raksha Bandhan

The Uber cab driver knew the road to my house. Whoah! These are the little joys of my life. Fed up of the Uber/Ola fleet drivers who do not know proper driving and have absolutely no sense of Mumbai roads. The other day, my cab had reached Khar, the driver got a call from his next customer. He told the customer that he is in Kharghar. The two places are 35 kilometres apart. It was hilarious watching him talk on the phone. The lost soul had no clue how Bombay hits a newcomer. Not to worry, Dear Cabbie, it is the most welcoming place on this planet. One becomes a Mumbaikar very easily. The city is like a fat Grand Ma with a big bosom, who includes all the kids in her bear hug. 

Coming to my current driver Anil, he has been driving a cab since 1998. Anil was wearing a Rakhi with golden tassels like rays of a sun. When I was young, we only got those Rakhis shaped like a sun with bright gold, silver rays around the red or pink cotton like centre piece. In Mumbai, I keep looking for those 'Rakhis' and find only the really subtle thread like 'Rakhis' or the ones with awful cartoon characters on them. Basically, I get 'Rakhis' with absolutely no character. I buy at least 3 dozen 'Rakhis'. I courier them to all my brothers and cousins. I also send to my nephews on behalf of my children and niece. I love the idea of taking the address from my brothers every year. No, they do not change their homes or work place annually. I just don't bother to write down their address and save it or store it. It is always a hurried call to all my brothers who live away, asking them for their postal address as I jot it down on the envelope. 

Anil said his daughter tied him the rakhi. He has two daughters and a son. His daughters tie him rakhi every year. This really struck home as I have tied Rakhi to my Dad ever since the year I remember. It was because all my siblings were born later or because my Dad did not have a sister. But Dad had cousins (sisters) who came to tie him a Rakhi, so I guess my Grand Ma started this for me. The custom continues and now my daughters tie Rakhi to their father. Anil's middle daughter is his favourite. He gave twenty rupees to each child including his son. He asked the son to give ten rupees to each sister from that.

Anil's two elder sisters are no more. They were five siblings. Now it is only him and his elder brother. Their wives do not get along so they do not visit each other. Anil has a cousin ( Bua/ Atya 's daughter) in Sewri. He is very close to her. Both brothers visit her for Rakhsa Bandhan but not together. Anil remembers his parents who always had a get together for the entire family for Raksha Bandhan. He misses those days. This year he has not yet visited her and it is three days post Rakhi.  He had taken his wife to her brother's place. Anil 's brother's sons do not come to his house for Rakhi and neither do they call his daughters to tie the Rakhi. 

Anil's brother-in-law drinks alcohol at home every evening. Earlier they used to love visiting the sister's house as they would get free booze. Last year he realised, that the brother-in-law causes fights between him and his elder brother. In drunken stupor, the elder brother hit Anil once. Anil said I don't mind it because he has been like a father to me. He has carried me in his lap when I was a child. What Anil is hurt about is that his elder brother called him a useless fellow and said you will never be able to build a house like mine. Anil told his brother privately that you can tell me anything but not in front of my wife and outsiders. He feels his wife will not trust him now. 

Anil's middle child loves to eat out. He is clear that she will eat Vada Pav from a clean place and not from a roadside hawker who uses poor quality oil or is dirty. Before visiting any relative, he takes his children out for a meal. The kids are fed well and do not want food when they are at their relative's home. The host gets upset that his children are not eating. His brother's wife and in-laws tell him that we have not added anything to the food, then why don't your children eat at our place. This a a big thing for people who believe in black magic or witch craft as in if something is added to the food then it leads to ill health for the person who consumes it. 

Ten years back, Anil bought a house for 1.5 lacs. He sold it recently for 22 lacs. He bought a new bigger place for 24 lacs. He bought a permit for the rickshaw, took a bank loan, paid for the registration for his new house. His house has air conditioning too. His wife puts a Vada Pav cart every evening and does good business. His children go to an English medium school. Last year, his young nephew ( brother's son) said some nasty things to his wife. another incident where his Bhabhi (brother's wife) asked his kids to get out of her house when they were visiting. His wife is not willing to forgive or make amends with the brother in law's family. 

Anil's wife is a follower of a saint called 'Mata ji' in Belgaum. She has introduced her in laws' family to this saint. The Mataji's teachings are very simple. Every follower quits drinking alcohol and keeps home and their body clean. They can do the Mala Jaap (prayers with beads) with Om Namah Shivaay. Anil and his brother have quit alcohol. Every Sunday, they go to the Ashram to do Sewa (voluntary work). They meet there but do not talk much. He talks to his brother's family. His children want to visit their cousin Sidhesh's house. Anil wants the two families to get along. He wants Raksha Bandhan, in the true form. He plans to visit the sister after dropping me home.

Families getting close, society getting along and the Nation growing. We have so many festivals and so many reasons to grow close.

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