Changing Perspectives - contd
by Deepika Srivastava
(Ahmedabad, India )
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The Sunday Gujarati lessons had now become a weekly routine, a routine which I deeply cherished. Dips, as I lovingly called her, was a sweetheart. My belief that she was a mirror reflection of me strengthened with each interaction. Even she loved reading, the only difference being that the books didn’t shut her mouth. Well, I guess some credit goes to the Gujarati teacher as well. Ahem.... Sundays that were spent doing household chores and missing my parents and friends, were now dedicated to this cute, little girl who never ceased to amaze me; be it her quick learning abilities, her witty questions, her beautiful handwriting or her sweet, melodious voice. I never thought I would be good with kids, but she proved me wrong. Her parents were equally sweet. We all bonded well; I now had a family away from home. Days were happier and this reflected in my work-oriented performance too, as a result of which I was promoted to the Senior Correspondent’s post.
It was an honour to be promoted in such a short time. Dips was also really happy, although she didn’t know what it meant. Dips’s casual dance was the highlight of my small celebration dinner at Vishala. So amused were my few office friends and most others with her dance, that they didn’t pay any attention to the performance in the restaurant.
“Niru, Niru....”, Meera shook me hard. “What happened? You okay?”, she questioned.
“Yeah, just nothing”, I sighed. Dips’s dance reminded me of my free spirited dance in a club at the age of six. All the eyeballs were at me. But still I danced like I was alone. That was the last time.
“By the way, I can’t believe you see the mirror in her. She’s your opposite”, busted Meera. I just gave her a ‘you won’t get it look’. The evening ended on a good note.
Aapnu Amdavad, as the locals call this city, is famous for simple living but also for celebrating festivals, especially Navratri and Uttrayan with utmost gusto and fervour.
It was September, the month of Navratri. This being Dips’s first year in Ahmedabad she too was equally excited if not more. Well, I always preferred
to stay away from such loud celebrations; would go down once or twice for half an hour so, that’s it; these celebrations continued the entire night. Navratri meant nine nights of GDP(garba-dandiya party) and adorning oneself with heavy traditional costumes, the Ghaghara, jewellery, tattoes.... Law Garden, the street market of Ahmedabad, the Mecca of Navratri shopping would come to life at this time; even we flocked to it. After seventeen years of living in this city, this was, just my second time here; well, I guess till date I have always been a new girl in a new city. But, would it ever change?. I wondered.
As soon as we got out of our car, I saw Dips’s eyes; she was amazed, the loud yellow lights, the heavy mirror costumes and jewellery, the white silver work, the Kutchhi embroidery- all seemingly merging into a mysterious painting. Deepali loved the new world in front of her. We shopped till we dropped. My increased salary came to good use. I even got a temporary tattoo done on her insistence; it was fun but very unlike me, a completely new look, for the first time I thought I was going to celebrate Navratri like a true Gujarati, and I was right. I felt a child-like excitement; as if like Deepali, this was my first time too.
Dips was stubborn; each day she wanted to go to a different venue, every place must have some uniqueness she argued. Even my counter-arguments failed as I had been to just one or two of the places. Dancing everyday on concrete and mortar (that is what our housing complex could offer) didn’t satisfy her; she wanted to experience the joy of dancing barefoot on wet mud in huge circles, heavy crowds; she didn’t want to miss the true spirit of the festival. So, succumbing to her demands I arranged for passes. Each day, different venue, different costume; we danced till the wee hours and I even learned dandiya.
These nine nights were a revelation. I was overjoyed. Since my friendship with Dips, the list of my first times in this city is becoming endless. After all, the new girl (P.S. girls) in this new city, now could proudly call herself an Amdavadi. ***