Part 180- Losing a loved one

It’s laughable, really, how you never truly understand something until it’s slowly approaching your own life. Only when it actually affects you, do you start to understand what it truly means, or the gravity of that situation.
My grandfather…doesn’t have much time to live. 

I traveled to India two weeks ago with my mother to visit him. The reality of the situation had not yet hit me at that time either, when I had first decided I wanted to go with her. In fact, reality seemed like a dream. I couldn’t believe I was going to India so suddenly. What had been weeks of planning for my previous trip had become an hours prior decision for this one. I sent emails out to my teachers, messages to my friends, informing them of my situation and of my responsibilities to keep up with the current school work. Comforting replies came back, and I was overwhelmed by the love and compassion from so many of them. It was still then I didn’t realize the situation.

Even at the airport, after clearing security and boarding the first flight. It was surreal. The hours slowly went by as I squeezed in moments of homework and movies and music through the flights, my mind elsewhere from where we were going to.

Even stepping foot in India didn’t feel real. How strange it was to be back only a little after a year. The memory of me crying on the car ride to the airport to fly back home greeted me. The moment where I cried, wondering if I wouldn’t be able to come back for years again. What would I have thought at that time, knowing I would return just as quickly, but under different circumstances?

Even after stepping into my uncle’s home and seeing my grandparents, I still didn’t understand my situation. It did, though, show me how age had left its mark on my grandfather.

He’s 76 and weaker than I had seen him a year ago. He had lost weight. A lot of it. His arms were skinny and he had lost a considerable amount of weight from his upper body. I learned that this was from an inability to eat. He could only eat a liquid form of rice and dal, and still only a small portion of it. His face also looked weary; his eyes yellow and frowned from sadness. He was frail; needing to sit down often and take frequent naps. His responses have slowed, and it takes him a minute to understand something said or asked.

Disregarding all this, I still can’t forget one thing that stood out to me that day. The happiness in his smile seeing me and my mother enter the house. The way he pulled both of us into a hug and held us there. I still didn’t understand the situation.

Days passed by. It was too hot. I felt sticky. I couldn’t concentrate on my homework. What was an exurb again? How do I solve a polar function? Oh, I missed gram staining…that’s alright. I slowly adjusted. My wandering mind at night overcame the pestering jet lag. Melatonin and late night discussions helped. Lingering questions did not.

I guess I really understood the situation a few days later into my trip. It was when I saw my mother cry; when I saw my aunt cry; when I saw my grandmother cry. After seeing these three women- these three amazing women in my life who have supported me and stood stronger than I have- break down quietly and even loudly in front of me, I understood the situation.

I had never seen my mother cry. Heard, yes. Seen, no. She’s a strong woman, who sees things with a determined point of view. Seeing her cry was different. I didn’t know what to do other than quietly hug her and pat her back, like she does for me. Same with my aunt. It was my first time seeing her cry, and I tried to comfort her all the same. Seeing my grandmother cry was devastating.

On our last day, before we left for the airport she started crying- no, sobbing. She hugged my mother first, and as I slowly approached her she grabbed me into a tight hug as well. How hard it must be for her, but I did not know what to say.

The final hug with my grandfather upsets me. Why didn’t I cry? Why couldn’t I cry? How could I not cry? How foolish I have been to take the time I have with him for granted these past years, and how upsetting it is that I act this way in possibly the last moments I see him in person again.
My mother must have realized it as well. As we sat on the couch with him- my mother and I on opposite ends and laying our heads on his shoulder, his arms around us- I heard her cries. Why couldn’t I do that? To at least show what I truly felt at that moment. Perhaps it was my own brain not wanting this final memory to be of me crying as he hugged me.

I had cried a few times before during the trip. Once late at night while talking to my mother, another when my mother was talking to my cousin and I, and a third later on. I cried realizing how limited my interactions with him had been. The downside of being a child of immigrant parents appeared before my eyes. I had counted 7- maybe one or two more- visits in which I had been with him in person out of all 15 years of my life. I cried again as my mother explained my grandfather’s condition to my younger cousin and I, and how we needed to make use of the remaining time left: pictures, audio recordings, talking. I didn’t want to cry but it started to dawn on me more and more, just how serious things were becoming. I cried a third time when I realized how the world moves on regardless of what happens in your life.

My tears were mainly of frustration. I had gotten emails about making up the English STAAR I had missed, as well as completing my math test before an upcoming deadline. I had a Biology STAAR the day after I returned, and an orchestra concert two days afterward. ( I had not practiced in a week) I got frustrated with my dad- who at that time was trying to help me manage my studies and test preparations- every time he called me about homework. How could everything else keep going when I’m faced with this current situation? Why do I have to do this? I wanted to stop doing all my work and just use my time with my grandfather. Of course, I couldn’t. That’s the last thing he would want.

I cried while writing this post. Several times, actually. I video called him this morning and I wanted to cry. The way he greets me each phone call, saying ‘Hi beta,’ and waving. The way he quietly listens for the majority of the call as my aunt talks with us. The way he slowly understands what I say, and then responds a minute later.

Seeing how I am now, I don’t know what I’ll be like when he passes away. More importantly, what about my mother? I’ve known him 15 years of my life and with few interactions while she has for longer than I have. Before he was my grandfather, he was her dad. He being the person she cried to or argued with. He is the one who supported her more than anything. He is the one who pushed her and raised her. How can I help her at that moment? When she’s at her most vulnerable, most upset, and most devastated? I’m not ready for that moment.

Do you see how ridiculous it is? How can you only understand something until it affects you? You realize how sympathy does little to help, other than make you upset or somewhat comforted when others care. You want them to understand how you truly feel, but also hope they don’t have to go through this situation as well. Time is a cruel thing, and even crueler when you live halfway around the world from your family. If only I could turn back time to last year, or any point in the 7 years before that where I could have gone to India at least once just to visit. That way I could have spent more time with them- him. But time doesn’t work like that. So I have only one thing left. To call him. As often as I can, no matter what. Just to ask if he’s eaten, or how he is, or anything else. Something I want to do but can’t without some complications. But still, I must keep trying. Because, time is precious and you don’t realize it until you have a loved one close to dying.

Part 169- Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

Part 169- Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

As you may know, there was a major event that happened on Thursday. Queen Elizabeth II passed away at 96. Everyone has been sending condolences and tributes for her, a beloved monarch. However, I’m not going to do that. I’m sorry if you would expect me to, but I’m not. The main purpose of this is to remember the former Queen, yes, but I’m not going to talk about how kind and amazing she was. I’m going to talk about what no one talks about. 

{Source: BBC}
Before I get into this blog, I first want to point out a few things. First, I don’t know the specific titles or way to address the Queen other than Her Majesty or the Queen, so forgive me if I don’t address her properly or mess up. Secondly, I’m going to be extremely honest here. I know the Queen has passed away just recently, but I want to express my honest opinions and thoughts on Her Majesty, no matter what. If anything offends you, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to take back anything I say.

Anyways, let’s get started.

In general, I’m not a big fan of the British Royal Family. I wouldn’t say I hate them, but then again I also don’t love/like them either. Being Indian-American gives you two different perspectives on this. As an Indian, my family has a very strong dislike towards the British Royal Family for their actions towards my people in the past. They have a right to-considering the British empire stole, destroyed, and practically killed our culture, history, people, future, and much more. They left the country with almost nothing, taking everything for themselves. However, as an American, they’re seen as allies. We don’t exactly treat Her as a great figure in our lives such as the President, but she still remains a huge celebrity that many admire and follow. I don’t necessarily get into that, but that has a mild influence on me. So when I have these two things clashing in me- one that hates the Royal family and one that admires them, it’s hard to have a proper opinion. 

You see, every time I hear about how the British ruined the culture of my people, I get frustrated. I feel that same burning hatred for them as my family. But it’s not as strong. I can’t really feel upset at them as strongly as my family, despite knowing what they’ve done. For example, when I heard about the Queen’s passing, I was shocked. It felt like something fake. I mean, the Queen had lived to be 96 and celebrated 70 years of reign. For as long as I had known, she was the Queen. The great Queen of the United Kingdom, who I’ve heard and known all my life. It was an unexpected moment to suddenly know she was gone. At that time I felt a little remorseful for the British. (Perhaps I’m too sympathetic, but I felt bad for them.) For the British, the Queen was someone dear to them. Seeing the number of people mourning for her, I felt bad for them.

When I came home from school that day, my parents and I had a conversation on this. We talked about what was happening, the responses towards Her passing, and what we thought of it. Or mainly, what my parents thought of it.

I keep talking about knowing “what she did” and about this burning hatred, but I’m not explaining it very well, aren’t I? Let’s break it down.

The British Royal Family are racist, lying, thieves who have not only stolen from India, but also many other countries during their reign. They stole artifacts, precious treasures, wealth, knowledge, spices, and destroyed the culture, history, and life of them, as well as brutally killed and tortured so many people. All while the Royal Family enjoyed the goods and treasures stolen. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Queen Victoria. Among many titles, she is also given one that I find completely ridiculous. ‘Empress of India’. I find it quite ridiculous how she can be considered the ‘Empress of India’ when she barely cared for us as her subjects. It is stated that she ”had a particular fascination with the country, and a passion for Indian culture swept through Britain in the late 19th century.” She supposedly was so in love with a country she had never stepped foot in, and fought so hard for the title of “Empress of India.” But what has she ever done to deserve that title? She’s never stepped foot there, nor spared anything for the people. She loves their curry and culture, yet her own people take the Indians’ land and spices for her to experience it. 

{Source: History.com}
When Indians rebelled in 1857, they felt that their traditions were undermined. The British were trying to westernize India. They replaced Indian aristocracy with British officials, challenging the religious beliefs of Hindus, and tried to break down the caste system as well as remove legal obstacles for remarriage of Hindu widows. First of all, that’s wrong. Although what traditions and practices were followed at that time were wrong and messed up, getting in the middle of it and trying to completely change a culture is worse. The British completely interfered and tried to change an entire society into someone they’re not. The British wished to “create. A properly articulated system of education from the primary school to the university”. Sure, that would be helpful. However, it doesn’t mean to wipe out the entire history and knowledge we already had, and starting over from scratch. Yes, some other things that probably weren’t taught in India at that time could have been learned as well. But that does not mean you wipe out everything for your own ways. 
Indians brutally murdered British women and children in that rebellion. Yes, it’s wrong and unjust. However, the results after were so much worse. The Queen called it “revolting barbarity” after the Indians’ actions, and not when other worse things were already going on before the rebellion. The punishment of sentenced rebels being tied over the mouths of cannons and firing them, forcing Muslims or Hindus to eat beef and pork, licking buildings freshly stained with blood of the dead, tortures including searing with hot irons, dipping in wells and rivers until the victim is half suffocated, squeezing the testicles, putting pepper an families in the eyes or introducing them into the private parts of men and women, prevention fo sleep, nipping the flesh with pincers, suspension from the branches of a tree, imprisonment in a room used for storing line, or committing sexual violence against women. Both sides caused atrocities to innocent civilians. But how bad? Did the Queen even look at the civilians of the country she “loved so much”? If she did, wouldn’t she have taken better care of them and prevented a rebellion from forming? 
{Source: rediff.com}

Was it so necessary to introduce Western culture into an already blooming one? One more successful? What started out as a simple business led to a colonization and rule. A horrific one.

Over time as the British monarchy progressed, even worse, more cruel events occurred. One more significant event is the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. An estimate of those killed is between 379 and 1500+ people. And over 1,200 injured with 192 of whom were seriously injured. A large peaceful crowd gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh, and in response, the temporary Brigadier general, R.E.H. Dyer blocked the exits of Jallianwala Bagh before ordering his troops to shoot at the crowd.

{Source: theprint.in }
 They continued to shoot even as the protestors tried to flee. They continued firing until their ammunition was exhausted. General Dyer even reported to his superiors he had been “confronted by a revolutionary army” and to which they said his action was correct. In contrast, Winston Churchill called it an “unutterably monstrous” attack and a dreadful outrage in the whole of their history.

It’s funny. The same man who once called my people “ghastly people” and treated my culture as some useless nonsense condemned this barbaric act? How interesting.

Not only that, Queen Elizabeth II herself visited the site of the massacre, and said there were difficult episodes in the history of colonial rule. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know us Indians were such difficulties in your family’s reign. Even at that time, as she stood at that place and made a speech, she made no official apology. She placed a wreath at the memorial and still never apologized. How hypocritical is it to demand for an apology from Germany for their acts on Jews, when you still haven’t apologized for your acts towards Indians? Not just Indians, but also people from Ghana, Barbados, Kenya, Nigeria, The Gambia, Pakistan, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and so many more.

Not to mention the numerous amounts of history, wealth, artifacts,and treasures these countries have. In this, I have to say some Indians were incredibly stupid and upright idiots for actually giving away such important relics simply for a King who was visiting. But apart from that, the British took away so many things. An Indian prince who was supposedly a son to Queen Victoria gave her such an important diamond because she cared for him. But for what? He couldn’t even go back to his home, and died in a filthy motel in France. A prince. Especially one who was “like a son” to the Queen.

Unrelated but related note. I saw an Instagram reel a while ago. The girl was like, “Hey, I found out where to find lost/stolen things”, and she showed us The British Museum. (I’m not sure if it was The British Museum or another in the U.K.)

Another ironic thing for me is how Americans are so invested in this as well. I mean, I understand the U.K. is an ally and a great friend with the U.S., but wasn’t the entire purpose for America to get away from the British? Weren’t we the ones who wanted to create a nation for the people and created a government specifically designed to prevent one from having all the power? Wasn’t the entire Constitution written to give us rights that we were denied when we were under British rule? I understand that things are now clear between the two, but it’s incredibly ironic to me.

Not only that, in India, when an important event in such a sacred festival is taking place, the Queen’s funeral is being aired. I mean, pay full respects to the Queen all you want, but why are you airing this when something more precious to us is happening right now?

Another ironic and amusing thing about the British Royal Family is how they spent years treating those of a different color as trash and dirt, yet one of the members is actually a mixed race. Rachel Meghan Markle- now Meghan, Duchess of Sussex- is a mixed race of African American and Caucasian. The same Family who treated Africans and Indians like dirt, stole them from their families and brutally killed them, destroyed their culture and lifestyle, now has members of the same race in line for the throne. (Referring to Meghan and Harry’s children.)

{Source: elle.com}
Anyways, the main point I have is that I have very little to say regarding the death of the former Queen. She was a beloved monarch and leader for many, but not for me. I respect the love others had for her and have for the other members of the Royal Family, however I cannot reciprocate the same, nor should be expected to. I feel sympathy for the Commonwealth and U.K. Citizens that someone they cherish has passed away, however I cannot feel the same they do. I have no reason to, and most likely won’t until they have owned up to all their actions, and provided a sincere apology. Even then, I still may not like them nor forgive them.

At times like this where my parents express their dislike for the Royal Family, I can’t relate as much. I feel awful when I can’t reciprocate the same feelings. I’ve never grown up learning about British rule and I’ve never learned about these events in Indian history like my parents have. I’ve always been exposed to American history and culture, and that makes it harder for me to relate to my family. I’ve never grown up that way. I can only feel anger and frustration but not what my parents, along with many others whose families and people have suffered from the British, feel.

Speaking of that, Uju Anya, an associate professor of second language acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University tweeted about the Queen’s death. She said, “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.” Although she deleted it, Jeff Bezos quoted her tweet and said, “This is someone supposedly working to make the world better? I don’t think so. Wow.” To that, she tweeted, “If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and the consequence of which those are alive today are still staying to overcome, you can keep wishing upon a star.”

To that, I agree with her. Why should she express anything other than disdain for someone who lets people get killed and wiped out. Especially when that person hasn’t even apologized for those actions, and refers to them as “difficult episodes”.

Anyways, that’s what I have to say regarding the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Although it’s devastating she passed away, I cannot be expected to show anything but sympathy for those who loved her. ( I really don’t want to include the Royal Family, but seeing them as a family who lost a very cherished member of their family, I do feel a little sorry for them.) Everyone have a wonderful weekend, and see you next week.

Sources:

Livemint. “Carneige Mellon Prof’s Tweet on Queen Sparks Fury.” Mint, 9 Sept. 2022, https://www.livemint.com/news/world/queen-elizabeth-ii-s-death-reignites-britain-s-colonialism-scars-11662706870795.html.

“When Queen Elizabeth II Stopped Short of Apologising for Jallianwala Massacre, Husband Phillip Questioned Number of dead-India News ,.” Firstpost, 9 Sept. 2022, www.firstpost.com/india/when-queen-elizabeth-ii-stopped-short-of-apologising-for-jallianwala-massacre-husband-phillip-questioned-number-of-dead-11215011.html.

Evans, Elinor. Queen Victoria: How and Why Did She Become Empress of India? 30 Aug. 2022, www.historyextra.com/period/victorian/victoria-rise-of-an-empress.

Holmes, Elizabeth. “We Will Never See Another Queen of England.” The Cut, 10 Sept. 2022, www.thecut.com/2022/09/elizabeth-was-the-last-queen-of-england.html.

“Indian Mutiny | History, Causes, Effects, Summary, and Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 Aug. 2022, www.britannica.com/event/Indian-Mutiny.

Dugan, Emily. “British Royal Family’s New Line of Succession After Queen’s Death.” The Guardian, 10 Sept. 2022, www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/sep/09/british-royal-family-line-of-succession-queen-death.

“Jallianwala Bagh Massacre | Causes, History, and Significance.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/event/Jallianwala-Bagh-Massacre. Accessed 10 Sept. 2022.

“Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II.” Commonwealth, thecommonwealth.org. Accessed 10 Sept. 2022. 

Part 161- India Trip: Part 3 ( 2021-2022)

Mumbai is where my mom’s side of the family lives. The three of us left for Mumbai the morning after we returned to Pune from Delhi. The first thing that happened when we arrived at Mumbai was to get ready for a family reunion. Technically it was a pooja, but by the number of family members that were there, I’m going to call it a family reunion.

A lot happened there. I met the family I know. My close cousins and family members. ( I don’t even know if that’s a term.) I also met distant cousins and members. That means, the many, many branches of the family tree. People who are related to me but are the daughter of the father whose brother is related to my dad. Or something like that. The most surprising thing about meeting all of them was that they ALL knew me. I’ve never met most of them a single time in my life, yet they’re all coming up to me and asking how I’ve been and saying hi to me. “Nice to meet you too. Who are you?”

All my cousins! ( And a nephew or two in there)

After the last family member and longtime friend was gone, it was time to get down to business. Pictures. We were all dressed up in our best outfits, not looking as radiant as we did at the beginning, but still looking good, and not taking pictures would be wrong.

The Grandparents and Grandkids
Entire family portrait

The next day was a more relaxed day. With no need to get up early in the morning for some pooja or aarti, I could take it easy. So my day started out with me attempting to solve the most difficult Sudoku puzzle I have ever attempted in my life. Not only that, it was in Devanagari numbers. Despite that, I was able to teach my grandfather how to solve Sudoku.

The day was mainly me and my three cousins hanging out and cracking jokes. This is a continuous thing over the next few days. This is literally all I did there. But, it was admittedly the best time I’ve ever had in my entire life. I think that’s mainly because they’re somewhat around my age. I have two older cousins, and a younger cousin. My younger cousin is 3 years younger while my two older cousins are about 8-9 years older than me. I think because we’re in a closer age range with each other we got along really well.

Hi!
Desperate to find out our Harry Potter Houses
Us feeding the youngest
Ice cream! Sadly we were banned to get chocolate.

My younger cousin is 10, but has one of the most interesting minds I’ve ever seen. Interesting in a way, I don’t even know what goes on in that kid’s head 78% of the time. He’s a witty, chubby, cute kid who loves history, and for some reason is obsessed with the Soviets. But he’s grown so much honestly. The last time I saw him was this small kid who had his eyes glued to his tablet the whole day, and now he’s off spitting facts about Apollo the card god of Uno ( an inside joke, it’s not really true) and Harry Potter. Fun fact: he got married to a plant recently. I think they may be going through a divorce soon though.

My older cousin is 21, and has the personality of a 15 year old. It’s not bad, and honestly it’s the best. I’d say him and my younger cousin get along the best. brother-buddy-compadre-duo friendship that is really fun. Although my older cousin has the authority of an “elder” to us, he doesn’t use it. Instead, he prefers to tease us more and make jokes to make us laugh. I’d say the best part of hanging out with him is his “professional-ism”. Is that a word? I don’t think so…Pretty sure “professional” isn’t the word I’m looking for as well. Anyway, I admire his ability to become your teasing older brother and then switch into a 21-year-old adult who can help around or has a job interview.
My oldest cousin is also pretty amazing. I think I really liked talking to her the most out of everything. I’ve always wanted an older sister. Always. Even though we are like sisters, we didn’t really develop that relationship further until now. So I think I bonded the most with her. I don’t really know what else to write about her. I can only say, she’s a perfect sister. I don’t know how else I should describe her. She’s just the best.My Mavshi ( mom’s sister- specific term for aunt) is the person to call for fashion advice. She has great taste in clothing and accessories, and is absolutely amazing. She has a bit of a mischievous side, and has a really fun personality. She also doesn’t take no for an answer. If I go visit, she’ll have made or ordered something to eat. And even if I or my mom say a word she’ll look at us to just sit and eat. In a caring way of course.My Kaka ( mom’s sister’s husband) is a quieter person. He usually keeps to himself, but he is very musical. He loves to sing. Sing and dance. He’s also always trying to get to know me. My Marathi is still not perfect, so often my grammar and sentences will be off. He knows that, and tries to have a conversation with me in English so I would understand and feel comfortable.My Mama ( mom’s brother) is a pretty enthusiastic person. He’s always trying to spend time with us and cheat at Uno. He has a very fun personality. It’s always very light, and upbeat. Each greeting is different. A new style. New kind of enthusiasm. He’s also pretty witty, and doesn’t hesitate to tease me at every moment.My Mami ( mom’s brother’s wife) is a very jovial person. Like I mentioned in my first post, she reminds me of my Kaku. However, they both give out different energies. My Kaku is quieter, while my Mami is much more enthusiastic. She’s loud, and laughs a lot. She’s a very compassionate person as well, and has a very caring personality.My grandmother is also enthusiastic. ( Wow. I’ve never used enthusiastic so many times.) She’s a strong woman, not letting anything knock her down. She has a very firm personality, but it’s also very loving. She won’t hesitate to show it at all.My grandfather is a military man. He’s now retired, but he still has those characteristics of one. A bit strict, serious, and observant. He likes telling stories. Mainly about when he was in the army. Or when he was working at a company. Other than that he’s kind of quiet. Except when he sneezes. Boy are those loud.The majority of my time was spent playing Uno with my cousins in a room or watching movies and talking about random stuff. COVID restrictions in Mumbai are stricter, so I wasn’t able to go out much. But, when we did, we went shopping at the nearby markets, or visited Mavshi’s house and my grandparents’ house. But, we also got to do a tour of Mumbai’s prime locations: Mumbai Police Headquarters, Mumbai Library, Gateway of India, and a scenic view of Marine Drive. We also got a bonus tour of Bandra, which is where the majority of Bollywood actors and actresses live. Courtesy of Mami herself.

Travel Van

Mumbai Library
Gateway of India. It was SO crowded.
Mumbai Police Headquarters
Mumbai Police Headquarters 2

Marine Drive! ( And me)

A proper photo of Marine Drive

So yeah, that’s how the first day of the new year was spent. The last few hours of 2021 were spent through a treasure hunt, a forbidden video of me dancing to Permission to Dance, everyone having a blast while listening to some Bollywood music, and most importantly…CRAB.

Ladies
Gentlemen

I feel like I’m going backwards instead of forwards now. I-
So that morning my mom, Mavshi, Kaka, Mama, and I had all gone to Sassoon Dock to go buy some fish. I have never been in a place with so much fish. I’ve been on a port before, but never on a fishing dock. The smell was…fishy. And overwhelming. *Ahem* Not talking about what happened next. Anyway, I got to see a variety of fish I don’t usually get to see, I also got to see a live process of fish being cut in half and gutted, as well as Mavshi unleashing her bargaining skills on the sellers.

After we got home, top priority was cleaning and preparing the fish, crab, and shrimp. I helped with cleaning the shrimp, and watched Mavshi snap the shells off of the crabs she had just finished cleaning with a toothbrush.

For the past 7 years I had watched from the other side of the world as they sent pictures of mutton, chicken, crab, shrimp, fish, cakes, and so many other homemade foods. I had waited 7 years to finally taste their cooking. This was a big deal for me. At last the moment had come. And it was perfect. I’m not the most skilled crab eater or even when eating with my hands, so it was a bit of an awkward, clumsy mess. However, it was definitely worth waiting 7 years for.

That concludes the final part for this  trip. 

Part 161- India Trip: Part 2 ( 2021-2022)

This part is about the traveling we did on our trip in between. Well… that’s kind of obvious. Anyways, I got to visit different parts of India for the first time. Usually I’ve always stayed in one place in either Mumbai or Pune and never went anywhere else. This was my first time visiting a different state- with the exception of Karnataka- and seeing a different version of India. Multiple versions actually. 

Our first destination was Prayagraj, which is in Uttar Pradesh. As Uttar Pradesh is further up north, it was FREEZING there. Not only that, we had to get up really early once again, and go on a boat ride on the Yamuna river to perform an aarthi. So, even COLDER. However, for this aarthi we got to go to this spot known as Theen Veni Singham. I think it translates to three sister rivers. If not, I’m sorry. However, it is where three rivers- Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati- rivers meet. It’s said that if you bathe where the three rivers meet, all your wrongdoings will be cleared. ( I think.) However, the rivers in India are extremely filthy due to the immense amount of pollution and carelessness by people. So we only got the water sprinkled on us. 

The aarthi that was performed is done by the oldest generation ( in this case my grandparents) and it is to kind of clear away all the wrongdoings done in their lifetime and the future generations’ lifetime. ( Once again, this is based on what I remember. I’m truly sorry if I may mix up a few facts. I honestly was too cold to process what I was told correctly.) 

I’d say Prayagraj is a very….different place. It’s unbelievably poor, and extremely dirty. India in general does not have the best hygiene. It is quite dirty in many places and not exactly the best place sometimes. However, Prayagraj is honestly, quite worse. It’s still developing as PM Modi is spending time and money on it, as it was stripped of resources by the Moghuls, but in the midst of all that it’s unbelievable how people live there. There are destroyed buildings, and rubble everywhere with so much trash and waste on the roads. People live here. In these half demolished buildings and cold weathers without much. It’s just unbelievable. And the number of people suffering. We went to visit a temple there and the number of people just around us as we walked, with cut off and crippled limbs, with absolutely nothing, begging us for money. And the guilt you feel when you can’t do anything about it and try to ignore it by walking away. It’s overwhelming. It’s terrifying even. It makes you wonder how do these people live like this? 

Varanasi was no different. It was extremely crowded, and unsanitary. We had gone to Varanassi to visit the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple there. I have to say, the temple is beautifully rebuilt. Before, it was completely destroyed by the Moghuls  and a mosque was built there instead. But it’s been renovated, and now there is such a beautiful result. It’s really nicely done. According to my parents, the entrance used to be through gullies/alleys. I got to go through one, and let me tell you, those are filthy. They are extremely narrow, and reek with sewage water and just literal wastage there. I couldn’t help but wonder how such a thing could be an entrance for a temple. It feels so disrespectful, and upsetting. Now, thanks to PM Modi, there is this huge, wide space that is a proper entrance. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s this huge, open area that leads to these humongous wooden doors, which hide the temple. It is truly spectacular. 

 

Later that evening we attended the Ganges Aarthi. This daily event is huge. You will not believe the amount of people coming to see this. We went by boat so that we could see all the different ghats along the river as well, but the river was also crowded. People surrounded those doing the aarthi, and lined up one after the other behind them all the way up the ghat. 

 

 

 

After those two, my parents and I traveled to Delhi and Agra by ourselves while the rest of my family went back to Pune. I have to say, New Delhi is the complete opposite. Honestly, for some reason I felt like I was in Dubai. I don’t know why or how since I’ve only ever been at the airport in Dubai. Nothing else. New Delhi is actually cleaner than any other part of India I’ve ever SEEN. I know that in certain parts of India they are really good and clean as well. But, New Delhi is the first that I’ve seen. 

Apart from that, I got to see New Delhi. India’s capital. I got to see all the government buildings and houses of ministers and the Prime Minister as well. For me, it feels kind of open. I really don’t know what it should be like though. I’ve been to Washington D.C. before, but that was a REALLY long time ago. But the main part of New Delhi with all the government offices feels really close. It’s not really in it’s own little section. It’s just like there are roads and it comes up on the side of them.  So I guess I was a bit disappointed by that. But perhaps it was only like that because we only observed them from a distance due to COVID restrictions. 

We visited Raj Ghat as well. Raj Ghat is a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. The main part of Raj Ghat is a black marble platform which marks the spot of where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. On that is a torch where an eternal flame burns. 

Our final destination that day was old Delhi. Old Delhi is the opposite of New Delhi. It has origins dating back to the Mughals, hence the reason the majority of the population are Muslims. It’s a very crowded place. The roads should be kept an eye on at all times as you never know when a vehicle will come near you or not. People don’t look at your feet, so it’s easy to get caught in the middle of the road. There are numerous meat shops lined up one after the another. Smells of chicken or mutton roasting on grills waft through the air, mixed with the smoke of the fire and the normal haze. At least that;s what one part looks like.

Similar to Prayagraj, the houses are small. Built in between alleys or stacked on other houses. Goats and sheep tied up near the houses. Kids playing along the road and running around joyously. Heaps of trash in corners. This is life for them. This is the home they know. This…is just…different. It’s different from what I’ve seen or known. I don’t even know what to say about it. It’s just unbelievable that these can be where people live. It’s heartbreaking.

Agra was similar. Despite being home to one of the 7 wonders of the world, Agra is a crowded and dirty place. The roads are so disorganized and cluttered, and there are so many people just crowded there. Not only that, the Taj Mahal is packed. In pictures it looks so empty, but it;s really not. There’s people packed on the walkways, and at the entrance of it. But when you get closer, there’s people so close together up there. At this point in time, it’s not the best idea to be roaming in heavily populated areas without masks ( in my opinion) yet here they are. Even at Varanasi and Prayagraj. Nobody listens to the guidelines and restrictions put out by the government. It seems like no one wears a mask. 

Leaving all that aside, the Taj Mahal is absolutely stunning. It is perfectly symmetrical, and has so many perfect details that you can’t see in a photo. For example, there’s writing above the entrance. However, it’s carved out of black onyx and put into the marble. All the designs of the Taj Mahal are made with precious stones. There isn’t a single fleck of paint anywhere. It’s all done perfectly symmetrical to each other, and so precisely as well. The amount of work and craft gone into building it is incredible. The small details with the stones as well. The way it’s made and the stones are carved is amazing. It is truly a wonder, and is a must to see.

 

Christmas was spent at the Taj Mahal!
Soup as the special dinner!

Before we left to head back to Pune, we made one last stop at Agra Fort. Agra Fort is tremendous. It houses the Indian military, and before it was housed by the army of whichever empire  ruled at that time. It was the place where Maratha emperor Shivaji Maharaj was made to stand behind troops and men he had already defeated in battle. He and his nine-year-old son Sambhaji had been summoned by Aurangzeb, leader of the Mughal Empire to Agra. However, when Shivaji Maharaj came to present a gift to him, Aurangzeb ignored him, and made Shivaji stand in the back of the court , behind men he had already defeated in battle. Shivaji would not stand to be humiliated, and took offence, storming out of the court. The tables were turned. Now Aurangzeb was embarrassed. Because of this, Shivaji was placed on house arrest.  Shivaji later came up with a plan to free himself, and was successful. Outside of the fort was a statue of Shivaji Maharaj heading towards the fort. A man with so much might and courage to do so.

 

 

 

That concludes the second part of our trip.

Part 161- India Trip: Part 1 (2021-2022)

Here’s the thing. I’m back! Where was I for the past month? I dunno. Somewhere over the Atlantic waters for a few days and then on the other side of the world for the rest. Any guesses yet? Let me clarify. I was in India for about 3 weeks for the winter holidays, and it was the best thing ever. Mainly for two reasons. One, I would get to see my family after 7 years, and two, I needed a break. Desperately. School is stressful by itself, and three weeks away from anything that has to do with Triangle Similarity Theorems or on the Nervous System was exactly what I needed. And what better way to do so than to visit your family?

So let me quickly explain how this trip will be documented. It’s split into three parts, Pune, Travel, and Mumbai, and there will be a separate one per part. I’ll then post an overall blog with all three in it, plus additional thoughts and experiences.

Pune is the city where my dad’s side of the family lives. Well, apart from my Atya ( dad’s sister- a specific term for aunt) who lives in Australia with my Mama ( dad’s sister’s husband- specific term for uncle) and two older cousins. Other than that everyone else lives there. 

I’d say the highlight of my trip there was being able to spend time with my two younger cousins. I feel a bit guilty for choosing that over every other wonderful and exciting moment, but I really looked forward to meeting them.

The last time I met my first youngest cousin (Viraj), he was only 2-3 years old. He was still a small kid. And also at that time, he wasn’t able to communicate yet. The was, however, able to pinch very well. I was around 6 years old at that time, and I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be an older sister. I found it annoying and didn’t understand why he did it, and instead scolded him. Looking back, I think that was his way of communicating. I can’t remember if he was able to communicate with sounds, but if not, I think pinching was the most effective way he could communicate or get someone’s attention. But now, he’s grown up, 8 now, and is one of the most adorable, and best kids I’ve ever met. Not just because he’s my cousin. But because he’s such a good kid. He’s a very obedient kid who will help out or do whatever is told of him no matter what. Not only that, it’s amazing how much he looks to me, even if we haven’t been able to see each other very often in the past years. Not in a bragging way. I mean it as in, he always wants to do something with me.

I’m an only child, and that means I’m kind of by myself. I’ve never been able to have that older sister or younger sister sibling relationship, so I really got to experience that more this trip. Especially with being an older sister. Viraj is always wanting me to come play or do something with him. Once there was a stray kitten looking for it’s mother and he so desperately wanted me to come help him. I eventually gave in, but it was really warming to see him so determined to convince me. 

My youngest cousin, Viaan, is 2 years old, and is also a late speaker. Instead of pinching, he uses sounds and gestures more often. Despite having the biggest, most innocent eyes and curious mind, he is a bit of a troublemaker. It is incredibly hard to get mad and scold this kid. Viaan once did something wrong, and so my kaka ( dad’s brother- term for uncle) was telling me to scold him. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not hold in my smile or laughter for more than 3 seconds. (I think he knows he’s cute, and uses that very well to his advantage. ) Once he gets to talking, the real fun will begin. This is my first time meeting him, so I was really excited when I got to see him and make my first set of memories with him. 

A picture of my Kaka, two younger cousins, and I! This was taken at Saundatti Yellamma temple in Karnataka. It’s kind of a tradition in my family to go visit it a few times a year, and we usually always go whenever  we visit India. 

Now let me tell you a bit more about my other family members. 

My Kaka is the best expert at food. I do remember some memories when I was younger where he would take me out somewhere for the day to have fun, but we never went for food. I do remember one time he talked about the Domino’s Pizza in India and the most cheesy pizza I would ever find. Sadly we never got to try it that time, but we did this time. I don’t think he remembers that time, but I do. And I got to try it. He’s a fun person to be around, but sometimes he feels serious. Like way too serious. At times I can feel a bit intimidated by him, but otherwise he’s comforting.

My Kaku ( dad’s brother’s wife- specific term for aunt) is the sweetest person I’ve ever met. She’s a quiet person, but she cares deeply for others. She actually reminds me of my Mami ( mother’s brother’s wife- specific term for aunt) in Mumbai. They’re both caring souls, and have extremely pure hearts. She’s an amazing person who is extremely talented, and is literally the best. 

My grandfather is a man in a hurry. Even if there’s nothing to be in a hurry about, he’s always rushing. He likes to be a part of what I do, and try to know me better. He’s a bit strict, so it’d be a lie if I didn’t say I’m scared around him sometimes. But the best part about him is that he always wants to talk to me. He always wants to tell me something. Whether it’s about his continuous stamp collection or some story, he always wants to talk to me. 

My grandmother is a bit of the opposite. She’s the person to watch everyone in the background and smile lovingly. She always puts others before herself, and that frankly worries me sometimes. She’s also a very religious person and would end up telling me some stories about baby Krishna ( a god) or even just children’s stories. At times I don’t mind, but sometimes it makes me feel upset that she doesn’t know I’m older now. Same with my grandfather. They’re getting old, and it shows. 

 

Above is a picture of my entire Pune family at Saundatti. 

It probably doesn’t show, but I was exhausted when we took that picture. I was still jet lagged, and we had immediately left for Saundatti the second we ( my parents and I ) arrived in Pune. It takes almost a day to drive there as Pune is in Maharashtra, and Saundatti is in Karnataka. (These are both states in India.) So for the majority of the trip I had one thing on my mind. SLEEP. I slept on-stop that entire time, and yet,was still tired. Waking up at like 4 in the morning to go visit the temple really doesn;t help the jet lag either. Ahem. Anyways, we spent about 2-3 days at Saundatti before traveling back. 

Here’s a second photo of us on the way back. We had stopped at another place for a quick aarthi. My Kaka isn’t here because he had to go deal with an issue with one of our cars. 

 

Once we got back, the REAL adventure began. The first day, we pretty much just went shopping. Shopping for clothes, jewelry, and pretty much anything we liked. I think I probably should have taken that opportunity of being able to shop instead of whining about being tired. India has some serious lockdown restrictions in certain parts, including Mumbai, and at those places you can only go so far to do something. So, I think I should have grasped that opportunity in Pune better. However, I do not regret it! Every moment is precious, and if it was meant to be spent with me whining, then so be it. 

Later that evening, we went out for dinner. And for dinner I mean a full mutton course. As I’ve mentioned before, my Kaka is practically a connoisseur in food. So we were able to get a full course on how to eat and what to eat. I have to say, this was the best mutton experience I have ever had in my entire life. It was truly, one of a kind. Sadly, I cannot describe the taste anymore, but it is definitely one of my most favorite spots during that trip.

The NEXT DAY. My Kaka, Kaku, and I went out together for sometime before meeting my parents to eat Misal. The three of us went over to a Ram Chandra Maddie ( temple) and they were showing me around a market, Tulsi Bhag, until my parents came. I’d say this was also one of my most favorite moments. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a chance to spend time with both my aunt and uncle alone, so I really got to interact with just the two of them during this time. It was a short experience, but I really had a great time visiting the different parts of the temple with both of them explaining the significance and best moments of it. It was a really special moment for me. 

 

After that, we ate Misal. I don’t know how many times I’ve eaten Misal before, but this felt like my first time. Misal is basically rasa, bread, and a mix of masala potatoes, onions, and toppings. I’m not sure the exact translation of rasa in English, but it’s like a soup, except it’s just the broth. Except this is thicker and with masala.

 

I don’t want to spend my writing explaining every detail and day of this trip, but this next day is also very important to me. 

So, the next day, my uncle took me and Viraj out for a day of fun. We went on a full food tour that day, and finished with the new Spider-Man movie. The reason this was special to me was because this is kind of a tradition Kaka does with me. The last time, we had gone to see Inside Out and we had gone exploring on his moped. I don’t remember anything we ate, but I do remember we got to see the Indian Eiffel Tower, and my uncle talked about Domino’s Pizza, as I had mentioned previously. 

Honestly, I really enjoyed the first two dishes’ the most. Later in the day I didn’t really feel that same excitement for trying other things. I loved everything I ate that day, don’t get me wrong. But I wasn’t as excited to try them. I think I was already worn out by two dishes even though we were less than 2 hours into our day. I think I also kind of felt awkward as well. I’m extremely thankful to my uncle for taking me out, but I think that because he was waiting for what I thought of each new item that I couldn’t really savor it that well. I guess I might have been the slightest bit pressured to express more enjoyable thoughts in order to not make him feel bad. It was all honesty though! I did enjoy every item, except two, and I was honest the whole time! 

We later went to the movies and saw the new film. I mention this because Indian theaters and US theaters are different in “protocol”. In the US there are trailers and ads before the movie starts. It’s the same in India, BUT, before the movie starts the national anthem is played. I had no idea of this at all, and so I immediately panicked and stood up with everyone else when the announcement came on. I stood there so awkward while everyone began to sing the national anthem and I did not know the first two lines of it. Good thing I had my mask on, or else it would have been even more awkward. AFter that it was all good. I personally like Indian theaters better. One, there’s a half time as Indian movies are ridiculously long. It’s great because you don’t have to get up and use the restroom in the middle of the movie and miss something. Two, because they have subtitles. I am a person who needs subtitles. Even if it’s in English, I need to read what they’re saying in order to understand it better. Okay, need is an exaggeration. I prefer to watch it with subtitles. 

I feel like my time in Pune was also kind of tense. Tense in a way, I feel cautious. Like I’ve said, my grandfather is a strict person, so that kind of aura usually remains in the household. I can’t help but sometimes  I feel a bit cautious with what I do or say because of that. I feel awkward sometimes.

But I also think that may be because I’m the only one of my age range there. My cousins are still much younger than me, and everyone else is at least 20 years older. So I’m kind of alone. They’re there with me, and I get to spend time with them, but it’s not really on the same generation level. It’s not that. We all think differently, and like different things. It’s not the same. 

Besides that, I’m satisfied with my visit to Pune. I was able to complete the top things on my list there, and I think I spent my time well. At certain parts I wish I could’ve gotten more time to spend time with a particular family member, but otherwise, I’m happy.

That concludes the first part of our trip.

Part 134- Death Penalty

Quick Facts:

  • Capital Punishment, or more commonly known as the death penalty is a state-sanctioned homicide as a punishment for a crime. ( Also known as death row)
  • The ordering that someone is punished with the death penalty is called a death sentence
Okay, so, big news. ( More like drastic, serious news.) A woman named Shabnam Ali has become a death row convict in Uttar Pradesh. What’s wrong with that? Well, she is on course to become Independent India’s first woman to be executed. This means that she is the first woman to be executed in India since they became independent. ( Well, there have been a few cases, but this is the first time a woman has been hanged in recent times.) Shocking, right? Here’s why.
In India, women were never, or even rarely, given the death penalty because they were seen as multifaced and indispensable members of the family. People would/could never see women as criminals, stereotyping them as caregivers and nurturers. Yes, they were arrested for crimes, but never sentenced to death. I have to ask, did they think that a woman was innocent just because she is a caregiver. Even though they take care of a family and are very precious, women shouldn’t be let go easily or not given the right punishment if they commit a terrible crime. Barbaric, inhuman ones. For instance, the Amroha Case. The one we will be talking about. 
Ms. Shabnam has been convicted of killing 7 members of her family- Father, mother, older brother, brother’s wife, elder brother’s 10-moths old son, younger brother, and her cousin- in 2008. She apparently, sedated 6 of the members- except the child- and then chopped their heads off with an ax while her lover- Saleem- held them by their hair. She then throttled her 10-months old nephew. After doing so, she would have been the sole heir to the house and property. Apparently, her family did not approve of her relationship with Mr. Saleem, a Class VI dropout. 5 days after that they were arrested, and Ms. Shabnam was found to be 7 weeks pregnant. Her 12-years old son appealed for President Ram Nath Kovind to “forgive” his mother, and that same day Ms. Shabnam filed a second mercy petition with the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. 
She initially claimed that she was the one who raised the alarm of her family’s murder and that, unknown assailants had entered her house and killed everyone. During the trial, the couple turns on each other. Ms. Shabnam claims that Mr. Saleem entered the house and killed everyone, but Mr. Saleem claims that Ms. Shabnam called him and confessed that she killed everyone. 

The Mathura Prison- the only place that has a female execution place- “prepares” itself for Ms. Shabnams’s execution. Apparently, the hanging house has not been used in quite a long time and needs maintenance. 
I actually want to know why she did this. I know that her family wasn’t in favor of her relationship and her anger could have gotten the best of her, but why? It’s even slightly possible that she is innocent. She has been doing her very best to use legal remedies so her mercy petition could be heard. Under the law, if multiple people have been sentenced to death in the same case, they have to be executed together. So, they have to be executed after they exhaust their legal resources. But, I think that she shouldn’t be forgiven. Even though the death penalty is kind of a way to get justice for murder or even free a family from the guilt of not finding the murderer, it is really extreme and inhuman. It’s been about 12 years since this has happened, and she has been in jail this whole time. During this time she might have changed and realized the gravity of her actions. I’m not saying to easily let her go. She literally murdered 7 family members, including a teenager and a mere child. Maybe life without parole would be better than the death penalty. I don’t think she or Mr. Saleem should be let go easily or even sent to rehabilitation and then be let go, but I also don’t think they should be given the death penalty. 
It doesn’t show that we are any better than those who have murdered others. Even though we are legally doing this, it is still inhuman and very extreme punishment. We’re almost the same as them when doing this. It’s like violence for violence. Except, more controlled violence for uncontrolled violence. Even if the penalty isn’t given, they should be given life without parole. To make up for the time lost for those family members. ( I know that’s not how it works.) Maybe serve to make up for the lives lost and make up the time they still had left? If given life without parole, they already would be serving prison until they die. But maybe they should do something during their time to make up for it. I’m not sure. ( It’s a bit silly, I know, but I’m just stating my mind.)
Anyway, that’s all I have to say in this case. I honestly am at a loss for words. I just don’t know what to say about this. I had to stop in between writing and think about what I mean and actually think. I could feel myself going back and forth from sides and facts, not knowing where I was going. There are so many things I wanted to talk about regarding this and I just couldn’t phrase it right. It’s so hard to believe what happened. I-I just don’t know what else to say. 

India

Day 1, Ever since I got to see my family and my baby brother he turned out to be a bad little kid and he  pinches me and hits me I thought he was a good brother but it turned out to be a danger. Ever since I gave him a kinder joy chocolate he has been taking my chocolates and has been a danger. Day 2,It was a rainy season and I don’t like it when it comes to a rainy weather. I just want to go home to see my dad.Day 3,Me and my mom and some of my family members went out to do some shopping.When I got home I saw that my little brother had been sleeping.Day 4,Me and my grandpa went to drop off my little brother then we went home and it was peaceful in the house then when he got home from school it was how it was when he was here when I came to see him.Day 5,It was the same thing over again from day 4. Day 6, My little brother got to stay home and I don’t know why.Day 7, We went to a special place in India and we got to sleep there and when we took our shower it was a embarrassing.

My flight

I was supposed to go to India to see my family but our flight got cancelled and we had to take a different plane.We were supposed to be flying 3 planes but the plane that we were going to take first before it was cancelled it got cancelled.On our next flight the same thing happened but in a different way. We had gotten in the plane then it got cancelled. Then we had to get air train and then a shuttle and here I am in the hotel that the shuttle dropped us of to.We were all stuck at the airport before I got in.All of the kids were tired and some of the kids were sleepy and like me they were crying.I just wanted to see my family and that’s all I wanted to do just see my family.I wished for a nice flight with no canceling my flight to Mumbia. I miss my dad and my family and they are missing me to. I just want to go back home and see my whole family when I go to Mumbia and see my dad from 5 weeks and go to Texas and see my dad.