Puzzle Pieces of Bakri Eid 1433/2012

I’m drinking warm water with lemon, clearing up my body from the feasts of the past days and trying to gather a start for my post.

Ok, I think I’m still too excited within to gather anything. I may have to wait some days before I can properly write something.

Yet I don’t think many would like to wait for God-knows how many days. And I’m afraid of forgeting something !

I could write a book about those three days and yet not make my point. I don’t think a big post could make up for it either.

I’m so confused.

More lemon water.

I’ll have posts to host lost ideas I’d eventually remember but meanwhile : here are the raw circumstancial unchronological sloppy mind-breaking puzzles that made up my life from Friday 26 of October to Sunday 28

***

The men of the family are still home. It’s arond 6h50 in the morning and several people are scattered around the dining hall.They’re wearing colourful salwar kameez or sarees and the incense mixes with their musk and the smell of the flowers. All arround me, people speak quietly and cheerfully, as if they’re too happy but shy to show it. We eat our big bowls of Seviyan Ka Meetha  under the watchful eyes of the 83 years-old grandmother who prepared it. Plates of dried fruits  and jars of warm milk are going around for those who want to have a kind of Sheer Khurma out of their Seviyan or add more cashew nuts and almonds. Then, a ringing at the house and the next thing, everyone is joyfully yelling and standing up. I stand up as well and stare at the guests coming with big smiles and blessings and wide plates full of laddoos. It’s the Hindu family living nearby and they’ve come to congratulate their fellow muslim neighbors on the Bakri Eid : they’ve brought sweets and their own plate with incense,water, spices and flowers on it. One of the daughters-in-law tells me it’s a tradition for the two families to bless each other and give sweets and dried fruits on celebrations, would they be common, hindu or muslim. I reply in a sloppy Urdu to the kannada blessings. The commotion officially gives pace to the happy celebration.

***

-What is that, master-ji ?

-It’s a goat !

-That big !

-Oh! This one is only around 56 kg ! You should check the other ones : there’s one around 83 I think.

-And they’re goats !

-A-a-a-h Khadija Beyti, there are goats exceeding 100 kg ! Turkish breed but natural and fine, don’t worry ! I thought that 4 goats with more than 40 kg could make up for the whole family and the Qurbane as well.

***

Grandmother’s little rant while we’re preparing the rice and the vegetables : Those little people, those youngsters of today….Always blindly following TV things, always wanting things fast and easy, always wanting to be always the ones to gather the harvest of what they may plant, always dropping things they think aren’t useful, always wasting always always ! HAH ! They even WANT TO SIT IN THE TOILETS ! They don’t want to squat anymore like natural human beings, they want to SIT ! SIT Khadija-Ji ! Sit ? in the toilets ? how disgusting and unnatural could it be ? how worse can it get ? And after, they come and complain about constipation and bowel disorders and say food is fat and not good for health!!!! You think sitting on toilets does your bowels good???

***

I’ve seen a camel getting sacrificed, in the guest’s hall. I’ve seen it. I’ve heard of it but didn’t picture it. Now I’ve seen it.

***

Camel biryani. Kabab. Fried liver. Goats biryani. Mutton chops. Camel meat meatballs. Camel meat gosht dopiyaza. Chikki. Roasted legs of goats. Camel korma. Dates. Mutton biryani. Dried Fruits. Pudding. Lassi. Indian sweets. Oh my god ! So many dishes to try, so much red meat and several invitations. To think that at first, I was worried about how to tell the host families about my unfriendly relationship with red meat ! I ended up mumbling some words about how sheep meat used to make me sick and was the first to try out pretty much all the dishes. I tried to not follow a path of excess but this only made my hosts eager and hasty to feed me more. I swear –«Khadija ! Young girl ! Let me feed you ! You’re a GUEST, you should eat MORE» was  a sentence I heard in different houses in these three days ! And to think that I actually do honors to any dish prepared for my sake or laid in front of me ! My detox week will be more than welcome by my stomach and bowels, I’m sure ! Yet all was so –healthy- : light on the stomach, tasty and spicy hot or sweet. Every bite was heaven sent and every discovery made me cry of joy.

***

I cried out of joy a lot during these last three days : from food, from people’s spontaneous confidence and affection, from the calls of my close friends and family, from their happy wonder at my Eid and hasty description of their own, from their sloppy wishes and their interrupted calls or their random conversation topics and gentle mockeries, from the warmth I’ve been surrounded with, from the attention that the grandfather and the head of the family to the little 5 years old boy gave me, from the food – over and over again- , from the quiet smiling relaxing times after the meals, from the conversations I’ve had with the elders on the veranda sitting on the ground with nothing but the trees, the sinking sun and the tea-with-milk in the landscape.

***

At the sunset, colourful lights were turned on around the house and muslim amdahs in urdu were being chanted by women as they prepared for the guests’s meals, the evening meals and cleaned the dishes. Altogether, pretty much all the women of the close big family exchanged laughters and impressions in a whirling language –maybe Telugu or Kannada -. One of the elders who know English, he used to be a philosophy professor at a college, called for my attention as I was discussing with the small children of the house.

-« Give me your left palm, beyti ! »

-« But waalid, knowing the ghayb from reading the palm is no muslim’s business I take »

-« Ha ha…But who told you we’ll see the ghayb ?  Nehi beyti, we’ll read your present »

-« ah.. »

-« Even Hindu astrologers will tell you that the lines of your palms change, according to your deeds. And you know why ? I think it’s because they reflect to a certain extent your story : what you’ve been, what you’re going through and the high probable consequences all this might have on your future »

-« ….. »

-« When I see your palm, I don’t see if you’ll have money or not, if you’ll be happy in your marriage or not, I see all what was poured into you as good and bad feelings, and I can see your maturity and your will, your psyche, and therefore I can compute a consequence. »

-« I see better now waalid »

-« Hah and therefore, your lines will be changing within the week I take ! »

***

This elder is one of my host’s uncles. He was one of the several people that I encountered and who shared with my his personal story, with its sad and happy parts. Just like this, easily, swiftly: there we are, discussing matters and life and they neither felt the need to put boundaries between them and me nor thought it was « personal » to be shared with me or whatsoever.  Somehow, I believe that I share their point of view about what is « personal ». And I’ve always believed that one’s tale of life should be shared, not jealously or fearfully kept. When I thanked the elder for all his trust and his wordings, he laughed and told me : « Beyti, take it from an old man who taught philosophy to generations of young people : those who share know they’re infinite, those who don’t know they’re nothing without their belongings, or at least feel so. It worries me that you need to thank me for something this natural..I feel old and realize I might have not been outside for a long time »

***

I’ve spent the Bakri Eid – Bakr Īd in urdu since Bakri means goat, which is the common sacrifice here rather than sheeps as in Morocco- within three different families for different amounts of time. In an apartment , in a house, in a countryside house near coconut plantations. I’ve tasted different dishes and spoke with different people. I’ve mostly interacted with elders and children and had such a time that it flew by and I often found myself late for some meeting or unable to honor an invitation. And yet, there were things alike aside from some dishes and the warm welcome of a foreign muslim girl far from her home : the big families with the cousins and the uncles and the in-laws and different elders and the friends who couldn’t go home and the children. The lights  in different colours decorating the place along with flowers. The smelly incense and the muslim chants in urdu or local languages or persian. The fact that everyone was helping in some way or another, except me at first but I got to do some chores in the end after insisting ‘til exhaustion. And the visits of the neighbors in the afternoon or other parts of the family. I went with one of the house’s teens to her friend’s place in the afternoon : there, she told, her friends will be gathered. We had chai and Indian sweets and the mom of the friend tried to bring mutton chops and mutton korma for me but I was way too full. Apart from the fact that the teen girls seemed to think of me as some American stereotype kind of girl from the movies, it was just like hanging out with girls speaking about relationships, clothes, makeup, common friends, little events of life, nice inside jokes and memories. They showed me pictures of their families and friends or boyfriends and shared with me their worries about the future and relationships, or their hopes for studies abroad and freedom tv-style. When they asked me how I felt about the Bakri Eid by far, I tried my best to convey all the magnificence and cosmic grace I felt and that was bestowed upon me. They were surprised. For them, the bakri Eid is vacation, a good reason to buy lots of bangles and have heena or an excuse to get fat on good red meat. They found the whole family gathering overwhelming. They thought the children too noisy, the elders too old-style, and the saughtering barbaric. The nice things about Eid according to them were the clothes and visiting their friends in new clothes or getting to see the far relatives coming home with the young males –who some of them they will marry- or the new babyborn and gifts. And there I thought to myself about my previous Eids. I recall when I was young, the Eid was such a thrilling celebration I could barely sleep in the night out of excitment. As the years passed however, it grew duller and duller : I used to get sick the evening of the Eid or the following day because of the sheep meat. Gravy sheep meat and kababs of organs had a bad effect on my stomach. I ended up vomiting and having a fever for the following days. So, I stopped eating it for once. Which basically makes everything in the Eid a big no-no or no need-to : why should I bother attending the slaughter ? Why should I join the women while they’re preparing the kabab ? Why should I sit with the family when I’m not even eating ? And mostly why would I even bother go out from our home when I’m not even enjoying the day nor finding anything special to it? My mom tried to make me eat some sheep meat and therefore started this tradition of steaming meat with vegetables so it’s healthier and more edible for me. And soon afterwards, my uncles and grannie steamed meat with veggies as well. It was healthier and somehow the meat was tastier now that it’s steamed and with lots of vegetables to make up for the intense flavour. Still, as years passed on, I felt the Eid lost its appeal and even that family time was just a gathering no more. But, seeing people here in Bangalore and listening to these teenagers, I finally realize that it’s each one’s effort to make the mood of the Eid and bring its joyful and warm atmosphere. Thanks to this bakri Eid, all I thought about after the end of the festivities was the next Eid and how I’ll spend it with the family. Gosh to think that I used to spend it in front of my laptop, with a book, or cooking some vegetarian dish !

***

Several Hindu acquaintances wanted to invite me in honors of the Eid. And though I wasn’t able to honor all the invitations, I spent a wonderful closing time with some of them. It was so simple and fun : Neyha invited me for a Kerala massage in an Ayurvedic center. Sunita told me shyly that coffee and apple pie were on her. And I went along with Anu, Sid and Mamta to a small amusement park where Sid tried to scare me on the big wheel and Anu got sick on the breakdance attraction. We ate sweet spicy corn –go figure- and won cotton buds and litte pencil cases at the ball-throwing stand. And all the while, we were discussing sarees, food and Diwali. Anu agreed on having me over at her family’s for the celebration and let me tell you one thing : there’s nothing like the promise of an upcoming celebration spent with a family and friends to lift up your melancholic mood after the end of such a great such an unforgettable Bakri Eid. I’m looking forward to it !!

***

Remember the mom who wanted to feed me mutton chops and korma ? When we were deparrting from the friend’s house, she brought the plates wrapped and a big bag of raw mutton meat. She told me to take the dishes and eat them at home and give the meat to my parents as a little gift of the bakri Eid from their home. I tried to explain to her that my parents are far away, that I’ll be taking a plane for a day and a half after two months and that the meat won’t make it at the airport. I tried and failed. Even the friend failed to convince her mother. I ended up taking everything at home.

***

And speaking of dishes being taken at home, one of my good muslim neighbors gave me a taste, a large taste of her mutton biryani and her pudding, whereas another family I wasn’t even acquainted with prepared a colorful plate of Indian sweets and dried fruits and asked my good neighbor to deliver it to me for they didn’t find me at home.

***

It’s over 4 pages on Word and I’m aware I didn’t tell any of the tale I’ve been told by the children and the elders, I didn’t recount any life story and I didn’t type any of the conversations I had with the witty 83 years-old grandmother –thanks to her daughter’s translation skills- or the sweet 10 years old girl that told me to stop looking at my laptop and just look at her. I’m aware I didn’t faithfully write the chronological events and feelings, the little and big happenings of the three days and not to mention the visit to the church, my planting of a banyan tree in the countryside house, the collection of teas I was offered and the Indian traditional games I was taught.

***

After four hours, I feel drained and yet able to write more but there’s so much, just so much sinking in the bed river of my conscious. I don’t think a long post or a book or postcards or tears of joy or happiness can make a proper tribute to all that. As time goes by in Bangalore, I feel things -feelings and thoughts- growing stronger and stronger and wordings and tributes becoming weaker and weaker. And as the philosophy professor has inspired me to think, I believe it’s our existence, our health, our body, our mind, our soul, our deeds, our attitude, our behaviour, OURSELVES, that are the true and final tribute to what we’ve been given in this adventure. I am the final tribute of all what people pour into me.

لبكاء وراء الميت غير خسارة

لبكاء وراء الميت غير خسارة

لا تقول راني تعذبت وخدمت بلا اجارة
اللي اكل الطعم فلت واللي بقى شداتو الصنارة
اللي تزرع في الشتاء ينبت و الي في الصيف داق الحرارة

واللي على الحق يسكت اعطاوه الشوك و قال نوارة

و السفينة الى غرقت محال ينجو البحارة
حنت ورا الميت لبكاء غير خسارة

Bangalore is alterning warm weather and slightly warmer one. Today, there was a sudden rainfall in the evening and the city came out of it with wet streets and bright sun. No wonder it is so green and clean in here.

A good sudden strong rain to wash away the filth and then a cheerful sun to bring out the best of it and to give life and hope in shiny colors to everything.

So when a good sudden strong rain comes on you, face it bravely. Don’t run into hiding, don’t try to play tough and ignore it, don’t fall in your place and lose yourself in the wetness, don’t start thinking it won’t stop…. Just stare at the sky, carry on walking, appreciate every knocking drop and let the rain ease you out of everything mortal.

Only then will you appreciate the coming bright sun, its warmth, the radiance it gives to the colors, its sole presence. And then, you’ll give away your skin to dry marvelously and you’ll unfold like a phoenix.

Maybe next time, you’ll be more eager for the rain and will face it with a smile and don’t count it as a sorrow of life or something that should cease to stumble upon you. Maybe next time, you won’t look at it like someone eager for drama or someone annoyed by the thought of being wet.

Comings And Goings

During the Onema festival, my host and his wife and daughter made this portrait out of roses petals. It's a quiet time where everyone helps to make the drawing just as the little girl wished.

The weeks go by with their comings and goings.   Onema festival and Ganesha festival are past, yet I often recall the comings and goings that these celebrations brought to me : the people that generously invited me to share the … Continue reading