Friday, April 6, 2012

Divas 218: I'm the girl with the rebellious eyebrows.

Something I've been thinking about quite often lately is how the Ratna Gill of exactly one year ago would have reacted to what the Ratna Gill of today is up to right now. Last year, I would have been shocked that Ratna had cut off all her hair, inquisitive about what Ratna was doing in Mumbai for a month, and skeptical of the fact that Ratna has started meditating daily. Life is about surprises!

I woke up this morning and talked to Priya before receiving news that Gokhale Nanaji was back in town, and then rushing to prepare to meet him. I don't think I've ever showered and packed so fast! (Probably a total of about 8 minutes.) I managed to enjoy breakfast and tea and a few pages in The Power of Now before leaving for his house, which is about half an hour from the Gaikwads'.

He and Auntie greeted me warmly and with affection as always, and, after some catching up and teasing me, Auntie got to preparing lunch. My mother had assigned me the task of learning some Indian cooking on this trip, so I observed and took notes (not really) as Auntie cooked a lovely mixed vegetable pulao (rice and veggies -- what else does one need?).

We enjoyed the scrumptious dish before I gulped down too much of our dessert of home-delivered ice cream. That's right -- home-delivered ice cream!!

In the afternoon, I set out for the home of Ashwini Auntie, by whom I was immensely inspired on Day 201, to catch up on her recent trip to Brasil and fill her in on my Vipassana experience. What we ended up discussing for most of our conversation, though, was the Indian education system. 

[Perhaps my most vivid observation on this entire trip to India is this: as much as I love this country, I don't think I could have grown up here, and the paramount reason for that is the prevailing approach to education. Here, learning = memorizing. The focus is on one's statistics, and not one's intellectual growth. Students must decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives at the age of fifteen. (As you can imagine, most Indians reel in horror at the concept of a gap year.) There is really no room for individuality in this system, and I think this is one thing that needs to change if India wants to become more competitive in the global context.]

I also had the pleasure of meeting Auntie's family, including nine-year-old Janhavi, who loves to draw and write -- what a sweetheart. Thank you, Bhide family, for a very enjoyable afternoon!

The next phase of my day was not so enjoyable (I'm being dramatic). I had been sent on a peculiar quest in search of a stretchable sari blouse, and found myself being mercilessly tossed by retail waves for an Odyssey of an adventure. The first place I looked was Amarsons, where I was semi-swindled (okay, maybe I submitted willingly), into buying five bottles of nail polish in assorted shades. As I've mentioned before, it's so random, but nail polish is my weakness. Even this wasn't terrible, but my next stop was Premsons. Ugh. I remember loving this store as a wide-eyed child, but today, the variety there just made me nauseous. For example, see below an illegal photograph of the tiara section. The tiara section. A bit gratuitous? I think so.

I didn't allow myself to be sucked into this whirlpool, and survived a potential shipwreck (of my wallet) having purchased nothing but a small gift for Priya. Phew! I was happy to return to the Gokhale residence and chat with Auntie as we chowed down on some chutney and cheese snacks. I gave each of my grandparents a tour of my blog while working on this post, and am signing off now hoping to squeeze in an hour of meditation tonight -- wish me metta!


  1. It was great pleasure to meet you too. I really wonder how you meditated for 10 days. Thanks for posting my picture in your blog. I will be in touch with you by email and thanks a lot again Ratna didi :)..... Janhavi

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, sis! I was so happy to see your note. :) My apologies for misspelling your name! Have fixed it now. Can't WAIT to see what else you draw (and write!) the next time I meet you! And yes please do email me -- -- lots of love!