It has been a lovely journey. Every time I visit you, I try harder to bond with you. I’ve always had a struggle to accept my Indian identity. Partly because I was born and raised in the United States, I failed to see beyond the typical American. I wanted to emmulate actions of people that were nothing like me. Since I’ve started college though, I’ve redefined what it means to be American in my personal dictionary; I’ve also come to some conclusions. The debate of America being a salad bowl or melting pot will always continue. Racism exists, to combat it, it’ll take another century or so (hardest realization for me). The idea of democracy is wonderful, but you have work to keep it. People can start persevering towards world peace by simple polite actions and respect that are not practiced now. And sadly, one person can’t do everything alone they need the support of others.
But India, this time I think I realized a little bit more as to why you charmed my parents. Despite the bug bites, humidity, mud, I saw a little bit more beyond that this time. In Calicut, India I saw culture, community, respect, and love. I see it this way, every society has its strengths and flaws-the benefit of traveling is to see the world through a different set of lenses, widen your scope, and to scoop up those good values. I will come back India, next time I’ll be even more understanding.
Take care of my grandparents because time flies scary fast.
Temples are a huge portion of my trip to India. Regardless of the length of the visit, my family always makes Temple-visits a priority. I was brought up religious; Hinduism has become a way of life for me. It governs the small acts I do, and guides me when I need it.
This time when I visited a famous temple in Southern India, there were some aspects that prevented me from meditating, and praying. The idols in temples are usually kept inside the heart of the temple itself. To get to that destination from inside the temple is a journey within itself. One has to jostle their way through herds of people behaving in primitive ways-all so they can get a glimpse of the idol, which God sometimes manifests himself in. This time I decided to maintain my cool as I waited in the center of hundreds of people, after all we’ve all come to attain the same thing-peace of mind. This goal of mine was disrupted far before I could achieve it. People clawed their way from behind me to thirty people in front of me. And as I saw this principle civic virtue of standing in lines being violated my peace of mind was interrupted. I was facing a moral dilemma. Here I was, following the rules when no one but my American family around me obeyed. After waiting for more than two hours, it was so frustrating to be a victim of this and not get my turn. I sounded like a pre-schooler complaining about that kid that cut in line, but what happens when that kid is hundreds of people and the line is not for a juice box but instead for praying to God Himself.
What did I do? Stayed quiet.
It was a temple after all, I did not want to fight or be aggressive when we were going to PRAY. I did not comprehend this defiance of a straightforward and unsaid rule. India is said to be a democratic state. And though India is a part of me-something which I’m proud of-how could a democratic state progress without practicing simple civic virtues?
Respect. It has to be earned. Like a lot of other countries a little bribery helps in some situations in India. When two porters moved a heavy table into my grandparent’s home, my mother immediately offered a token for their labor. They didn’t accept it. Not only did they not accept it, they REFUSED time and time again to take it-out of respect for my grandfather.
My grandfather is a doctor, and still runs his private practice now at the age of 78. In his younger days when he started his private practice, he unlike many others took his patient’s social and economic status into account when billing them. Sometimes there was no bill if he knew the patient needed urgent health care but could not afford it. How he was able to handle these extra costs on his own merit still puzzles me. Like many other people from a lower economic status, my grandfather did not charge these two porters when they first came to him for medical care. He made sure to extend his expertise-when needed- to them even after that first instance. Thirty years later, they maintain their loyalty to him. Even though both they and I knew that they could use that extra money, sometimes there are things in life that are more important than money.
What about the people who have earned their respect, but don’t receive it? Why does good karma escape them? Some food for thought.
I want to blog about my trip to India, but since internet connection is iffy-I’ll do what I can when I do get access to it.
Dubai is located in UAE. On my way to Calicut, India (my mom’s hometown) we usually make a pit-stop in Dubai (also because it’s our layover). The air is a little more than a tight warm embrace, reeking of cigarette smoke and if humidity had a smell-this would be it. A lot women and men here are drapped with white and black clothing. Men, wear white clothing, and women wear black clothing. Some of the women wear Niqabs: clothing that covers the whole body, but the eyes. This makes me ponder the progression of women’s rights (future research project?). Since we only had an 8-hour layover our tourist attractions were cut short to one: The Gold Souk (otherwise known as the Gold City).
Though it wasn’t my first time in Dubai, I was still in awe by a city splashed with gold where the Arabian Palaces I read about, came to life. It’s a mix between Las vegas and Aladdin’s home. The tourists drive most of the revenue for this global city. The shopping here is duty free, the tax-free environment is one of the many reasons why tourists obsess over this beautiful city.
Back to the Gold Souk. First off, I bet you’ve never seen anything like this. A whole street market with hundreds of gold retailers selling jewelry (stay tuned for pictures). On every corner you can see people haggling for prices that make them feel this trip was worthwhile. The Gold Souk Market inspires entrepreneurs in the jewelry business to make way from India, and other places in the middle east-in hopes that some tourist will pay them a price that will make ends meet. After speaking with some of the taxi drivers, and retailers I started to understand the reason behind why all these people left their homes in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Iran (there are some countries not mentioned). My hopes of pursuing and accomplishing the American Dream, is what Dubai is for them. A mid-way point, not too far from home, where they hope to come out and make some money that can help their families back home. I’m thankful for an opportunity to see some of the most beautiful palaces I’ve seen, and taste some of the freshest baklava I have ever had.
For now, I have to finish my Starbucks Chai Latte.
Till the next blog post,
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup splenda (or regular sugar)
- 1/3 cup 1% milk (or 2% milk/nonfat half&half)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 1/2 cups wheat flour (or all-purpose)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/3 cup raspberries
- 1/4 cup splenda (or regular sugar)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup wheat flour (or all-purpose)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or butter, cubed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Serves about 6 large muffins (double the quantity for a full serving size).Directions
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
- Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl mix 3/4 cup sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla essence and milk and beat until well-mixed. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and with a spoon the raspberry topping.
- To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter (or vegetable oil), and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Check to see if it’s done with the toothpick method.
- Serve with fresh blueberries and organic whipped cream (or ice cream if you dare to indulge) (: