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Monday, May 16, 2016

Once a Desi, Always a Desi



Over the last few years, the term ‘home’ has more emotional value to me than physical. I move a lot. I pack my belongings in a suitcase, and with every move, I try to create memories at my new address. Earlier it was emotionally taxing. Now, I have conditioned my mind to adjust to these geographical changes. One thing that has helped me to maintain my sanity is my routine. My modern friends find it very out-of-date. Well, I do all the chores in conventional Desi way. For some, it may be a little regressive or going over-the-board. For me - it’s a religion which I follow quite strenuously. So, here are a few things I do in Desi Style -

Cooking Proper Indian Meals -
It has been close to five years that I moved out of India and I still cook proper Indian meals. No, we don’t eat cereals for breakfast. We don’t eat frozen food. And, I don’t cook and store food in the freezer. I prepare every meal in proper desi style - parathas for breakfast, salad and raita with every meal, and dal-chapati-papad for dinner. Cooking a proper Indian meal is something I take pride in. Also, I feel like a Sampoorna Grihani, who serves as a laughing stock for all her friends.

Dusting the Home Every Day -
I have to dust. It’s a need rather than a requirement. Many would argue that there is no need for dusting in the US. Well, nothing can convince an old-outdated housewife. And, I do it the Indian way - with my husband’s used T-shirt. I arrange everything in order and dust my way through - from the bedroom to kitchen. Yes, there is a system and sequence to everything.

Special Care for the Whites -
Many get a shock of their lives when I tell them I use Neel for my whites. I hand wash white clothes and in the good old Indian way, use Neel to keep the whiteness intact. My friends make fun of me as I seem to be the only one buying this product overseas. What can I say - Mein safedi ki chamkar ko kaayam rakhna chahti hu!

Diwali Cleaning -
Just like foreigners indulge in spring cleaning, like a true Indian homemaker I do Diwali cleaning. Each and every corner is dusted, cleaned and arranged. Each and every item is washed before the D-day. Mind you, there is a proper way to it. First cupboards, then walls, then furniture, and after all this is done - comes washing and ironing. As far as Diwali Cleaning is concerned, I can enlighten Martha Stewart with Indian Safai Gyan!

Brand Loyalty - from Painkillers to Sprays
For a homemaker, a trip to India is not complete without a bagful of masalas, delicacies from the local sweet shop, OTC medicines, and clothes. My trip is extra special as I pack cleaning supplies in my bag. Last to last year I packed Hit in my luggage, and my family teased me. In my defense and to defend roaches -  Nothing beats Hit. It’s a trusted household name. And, I am very loyal to brands. If a product proves worthy once, I stick to it forever. Plus, I am a little crazy too.

From parathas for breakfast to using Hit on videshi cockroaches - I take pride in my routine. It’s like I am preserving the Desiness wherever I go.

So, what are the rituals and routines you stick to? Don’t be shy, share your wackiest ones!


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62 comments:

  1. Great post, glad to see that you still make the typical Daal-Chawal - a true Grihani Indeed ! ;)

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  2. I prepare Indian meals for dinner but rest is all foreign Khan ;) they allowed you to carry it... if I even pack some oil they would sniff me out and do complete baggage check. I never dared ;) I envy you... U are awesome

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    1. Oh, where you work? Sounds too much security.

      Thank you for reading, Raj!

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  3. Although I am not yet a videshi, my Dilli to Mumbai movement has put me in the same situation. Relatives coming from Delhi are requested to carry hing, red chilli powder and vadiyan as I don't like what I get here. When I tell my friends I wake up early to cook breakfast and prepare our Tiffins, their eyeballs bulge out, much to my surprise. However once they dig into my dabba, their mocking looks transform into appreciation and I feel so good! I guess it's all about our grounded upbringing. And I too wash many clothes by hand, so u have company dear!

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    1. Thank God, I have company. I have a friend in Mumbai, she cooks early morning and when she goes back home. You are right, it's all about grounded upbringing.

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  4. You can take a desi out of India but you can not take India out of desi.... :)

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  5. Saru, you sound a lot like my sis-in-law who is currently in Phoenix. She hasn't visited us for three years now and every time her husband is on an official trip, I end up buying Catch Masale, MTR gunpowder, ghar ka pissa garam masala and lots of other chhota-mota stuff. I guess the desiness has a lot to do with the way you are brought up and how you learn to accept and respect your roots. As for me, except cooking I have a routine for everything. :-)

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    1. True, it's all about your upbringing and lifestyle. I am old school and I like it that way.

      Thanks for reading, Rekha.

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  6. Once a Desi always a Desi. There was a time when I would leave shoes outside or in a corner before entering the house or for that matter buying Made in India, imported stuffs in the supermarket. I always buy one week old copies of Times of India, four times its price here and all those Indian magazines:)

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    1. How cool is that! Some desi habits die hard.

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  7. you are a true Sampoorna bhartiya grahini :) BTW how is Alok? I hope he has not turned amreekan on your behalf :D

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    1. Naah, he is as desi as one can be. :D

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  8. A nice, feel good post :)

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  9. Very honest and desi is what i felt after reading this post. I am surprised that even now Indians can be so desi just like desi ghee. OMG hats off to you, yes desi is what we are as Indians no matter how much we try to change the desi gets our nerves before anything does. You simply rock Saru! Jai Desi Sampoorna Safedi Chamkdhaar Yodha!

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    1. Hahahaha... last line is a killer.

      Thank you so much for reading, Nikhil.

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  10. Purely Desi.... Nicely written... :)

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  11. Such a fun post. Enjoyed reading it. As far as I am concerned even I cook proper breakfast like poha, upma, idli dosa the only change is I make smoothie bowls once in a while to break the monotony and all desi fresh lunch and dinner. No frozen food for me as well. The other desi ritual which I don't think I will be able to give up is washing the utensils with my hands. No matter how much tiring or irritating it can be at times, I have never even once used the dishwasher in my last 3 yrs since I moved to US. I rarely use microwave as well. Break and scrape fresh coconut always. And last but not the least and the most important I simply cannot and will not use a toilet paper :P hahahahahaha.....that is my wackiest desigiri. Lol

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    1. You are more desi than me. I too like washing dishes with hand, but lack of time warrants the use of dishwasher. On a different note, I must visit you, you look like an amazing cook. Hope I am welcome.

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  12. Really Saru....Hit....wow.....I enjoyed reading this bit about you. I am a 'grahini' too following rituals of proper meal-making.....But no neel or Hit....:).....My 'dahi'/yogurt is always home-made, so is my paneer..I make atta laddoos like mom and shakar-paras and mathis too (hope you know that)...aloo-puri and kheer on special occasions like Diwali.....

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    1. Yes, I know and I love all those desi delicacies. Neel is one thing I can't live without and Alok's safeedi ki chamkaar wali shirts are a living proof of its effectiveness.

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  13. Cooking and dusting are a ritual for me too but not a daily one. I can't do the same things everyday, once in 2-3 days is the norm for me, not that I don't cook everyday. For the whites, Diwali cleaning and sprays, I guess you are more desi than me. I have never done these three tasks ever.

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    1. I am more like my mom and I try to copy her, but I fail miserably. At the end of the day, happiness matter, which is irrespective of what we do or don't. Isn't it?

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  14. Maa tujhe salaam! Proud of you my girl! I think In dians living abroad are more Sanskaari than the ones left behind! Most of my cousins in the US are so strict about following customs and rituals, I feel ashamed that the same enthusiasm is lacking back home! What a lovely read it was Saru....I was smiling all through!

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    1. I guess we compensate what we left behind by being strict with customs and traditions. Our attempt to preserve our desiness, so to say. Thanks for a lovely comment. As usual it's a pleasure hearing from you, Kala.

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  15. Good one Saru...u have retained the desi gunn in urself...many living in India adopt Videsi aadaat....God bless:)

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    1. Nah, I can't get rid of old habits. In my case they never die.

      Thank you so much for reading and welcome here, Ila!

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  16. Wow! HIT? I cook Kerala food for lunch and dinner. Breakfast on weekdays oats for us, weekends all Kerala style. I do have routines but it is not so set like yours, yet my husband calls me crazy! :) It's good have a routine, right?

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    1. By his standards, I am super crazy.

      Routine or discipline is very important. I wonder how people with no routine function. Do they randomly do stuff? I can't sit idle for more than half an hour. I watch TV when I iron or do other work. Well, we are very old school.

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  17. I think I check every box on thy list, except for dusting :). Yes, it's the nostalgia of doing certain things in a particular way that makes us feel connected :). As far as Indian brands are concerned, good that you are in NJ; live for one year in,say,NH and you would crave for a Hit 😀

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    1. I swear. Sometimes, it's too much. You crave for some firaangipan in New Jersey.

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  18. Though I don't reside in videsh like you, I too am a hard-core desi like you and use my husband's old t-shirt for dusting and even go beyond that by making mops with his old jeans that causes big fights in our households. :P Enjoyed your post to the core, brilliant as always :)

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    1. We have a lot in common, then. Thank you so much for your heart warming comments. Your presence is a breath of fresh air.

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  19. The beauty lies in staying desi while in videsh:)

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  20. As much as I enjoyed reading your post Saru, one side was me was mocking at me. I don't like cooking, cleaning and all those things that you are so comfortable with. 3 meals a day? Hats off to you :)

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    1. Old habits, Parul. I can't get rid of them now.

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  21. Good read...you have listed some true Desi points. Odonil bars(air freshner) are still in use no matter what new brands have come. Every house has some desi styles.

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    1. True that. We all have a bit of desiness in us.

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  22. ha ha ha :D Had a great time reading this post. Humorous and entertaining :)

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  23. Except for the Diwali/Christmas cleaning, no such rituals when it comes to home, but thoroughly enjoyed reading your post :-)

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    1. Lucky you. I am stuck with old habits. I must reform myself.

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  24. Infact after people go abroad.. they become even more desi.. Nice post Saru..
    http://travelhues.blogspot.in

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  25. Now that's a REAL Desi girl ... take a bow!

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  26. I just can't divorce those mugs in the bathroom. I need them!! :D

    Lovely read, Saru.

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  27. you just can't change the DNA of an Indian! I'm sure with your pick, you never feel away from home! :)

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