देसी देसी

अपनों के लिए हुए हम परदेसी,
दिल तो मगर है देसी देसी !

भारत से निकले हम तो, किस्मत अपनी आजमाने को
पेशा या पढ़ाई, नापे मंज़िल की गहराई
छोड़ चले बचपन की गलियाँ, परदेस का आसमान छू लिया
पैसा कमाना है, घर बनाना है,
बचपन का वो सपना सच कर दिखाना है

लंडन हो या अमरीका, कड़ी मेहनत, यही है तरीका,
नहीं यहाँ कोई भेदभाव, लगन और ध्येय की हो चाव,
जो यह तपस्या करने हुआ राज़ी, समझो उसने मार ली बाजी,
नही चलती यहा कोई ड्रामेबाज़ी, नही किसिकी हांजी-हांजी.

अपनों के लिए हुए हम परदेसी, दिल तो मगर है देसी देसी

जब त्योहार हैं आते, हम social media खूब सजाते,
रंग-बिरंगी साड़ियां, कुर्ते, धोती पहनकर, परदेस में देश की रौनक बनाते,
हंसते, मुस्कुराते, पुराने रीति-रिवाज मनाते,
हम अपना ही दिल बहलाते.

आए जो कभी गम का साया, या जो गहरा अंधेरा छाया,
तुरंत होते एकजूट, भुलाके सारी फूट,
नही कोई शिकवा दिल के अंदर, अपना देश जो है दूर सात-समंदर.

और इसलिए,
हिंदू, मुस्लिम, सिख, ईसाई, ना कोई रुसवा, ना कोई लड़ाई, कोई मिले पड़ोसी, तो परदेसी भी बन जाए देसी,
फिर “कटोरी भर नमक, थोडासा अजवाइन, मिलेगा क्या बहन?”
आना-जाना होता रोज़ाना, ना कोई गीला-शिकवा, नाही कोई ताना.

छुट्टियों में बच्चे इकट्ठे खेलें, हम संवारें यादों के मेले,
कोई चाची बने, कोई मौसी, क्योंकि परदेस में भी हम तो हैं देसी,
‘It takes a village to raise a child’
हम बनाते अपनी अलग सी देसी guide!

जाने-अनजाने हम कब बनते दोस्तों से परिवार,
फिर सजती महफिले हर शनिवार-इतवार.

दफ्तर जाते हम पहनकर सूट-बूट,
घर लौटते ही, we go back to our देसी loot!
जब मिलने जाए देसी दोस्तों के घर,
चल पड़ते हम सलवार-कुर्ता पहनकर.

झाड़ते हम अँग्रेज़ी ठेट

, पर बच्चे “माँ” पुकारे तो हमे लगती भेंट
हाय-हेल्लो का है यहा रिवाज, दिल में हैं फिर भी देसी लिहाज़
हम-उम्र से गले भी लगते, बुजुर्गों के सामने सिर आप ही झुकते
दहलीज के बाहर निकाले जूतों से होती है देसी घर की पहचान,
मानते हम यह अपनी संस्कृति की शान
चम्मच-काटे से काम चलालें, पेट भरना हो तो अन्न को हात लगालें.
स्टील की थालियां और कटोरी, देसी होते हैं बहुत चटोरी,
चाट पार्टी, पराठा, बिर्यानी की होती है बौछार,
भूक ना हो तो चाय ही पी लो यार!

Shweta Kulkarni Gode

Desi room

When our bid on the house was accepted, we instantly knew that the formal dining room had to go. I had always wanted a room with very Indian look as an ode to my Indian heritage. Complete with the devara (prayer spot), diwan (Indian-style low daybed), and moda (Indian-style low seating).

While we were waiting for the closing day, I decided to make the diwan, since there would likely be so much more work to tackle after the move. First step was to find out the dimensions of the smallest mattress available. Turned out twin size mattress was the one that fit my needs. Measurements downloaded, I set off to the lumber store to purchase stud wood and posts. The staff at the lumber shop was kind enough to cut the posts to the dimensions I asked – four pieces of one foot each. My circular saw is awesome, but asking it to cut a four by four is a stretch.

Once home, I measured twice and cut the studs to match the length and width of the standard twin sized mattress. Using smaller strips as rails, I mounted the one by fours on the rails, providing a sturdy platform for the mattress. Once done, I sanded down the bed, and then oh-so-sweetly handed over the stain job to my kind husband, who did a fantastic job of it. It pained my heart to leave the bed overnight in our unsecured back patio in the rental apartment, but there really was no choice. The odors of the stain, and the off-gassing are just too much to bear, not a risk I was willing to take with the health of my family or myself. My dog did not surface from my room throughout the four days it took for the complete staining and varnishing process, making exceptions for her walks.

Day four, we carried the diwan in with much excitement. The next three days were a matter of obstacle course, for the diwan occupied a substantial amount of space in the living room, made already smaller by the things we had begun packing and readying for the upcoming move. Needless to say, moving day came as a huge relief, and the diwan looks grand in what I call, our desi room.

Swedish living room decor

As a person of Indian origin, living in the Deep South in the U.S. of A, visitors to our house are surprised to see the huge art piece over the mantel with fjords and coniferous trees and horses. That is my cue to narrate my history, about how my first home after marriage was in Sweden, and how I am still enchanted by all things Scandinavian, from archepalegos, to apple orchards, to fashion to food.

The tall cathedral ceiling was one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with this house and pushed to buy it. The same ceiling, however, causes some serious reverb, and more often than not, I have been confused that people are shouting, when in fact, they are merely chatting! Acoustic panels solved the problem, but come on! It is my living room, I need something more than purely functional… I need something aesthetic. That is where the idea of this decor piece was born.

A quick use of the bandsaw served me my dala horses and fjords and coniferous trees, and a hunt through sonny boy’s art supplies fetched me the paints and brushes. A can of spray paint and some panels and lumber got the look I desired.

Screwing and gluing the pieces to the panel took some time, for I had to make sure that the glue had cured and the screws could withstand the heat once the mantel was in use. The acoustic panels mounted on the back of the panel, and the decor pieces glued and screwed to the front, made it far heavier than expected. Carrying the panel in from the garage was the easy part, hoisting it to the mantel took combined strength of both, my husband and yours truly.

The outer frame colored in copper is lightweight, and was easy to center and mount using a measuring tape and some wall mount. The panel, once hoisted, needed some intense calculation on my part to center, and some quick thinking to fix the anchors into what was unexpectedly a dry wall.

After much climbing up and down the ladders and lot of elbow grease, the panel was perfectly centered, mounted, and is now the talk of almost every visit. It takes me down the memory, enjoy my nostalgia, and I am now, for once, eagerly awaiting winter so I can enjoy my view of Sweden with the fireplace going and a sip of warm glögg.

Ring box

“How I wish someone gets married!” was a line often heard in my house for the past two years. Therefore, when a wedding invitation did finally arrive, it was received with much excitement and love. My cousin is getting married! I was thrilled for her, more so because even though it has been a while since we met, she has always been quite close to my heart.

An answered prayer, wedding of a dear cousin, this definitely calls for a special gift. The darling girl had specified that she’d much rather have us donate the gift money to a charitable and noted hospital, which I will; but there was no way I was not sending her a gift. And the gift itself had to be special, it had to mean something, to me as well as to her.

Off I went to the local Wood Craft store here in Birmingham, hoping for inspiration. Who am I kidding? A dear friend who also happens to be an expert woodworker works there. I sought her advice, told her some of the ideas I had in mind. She, along with her colleague, showed some of the most beautiful wood I had ever seen. The store manager walked in just as she and I were hashing out some more ideas, and gossiping loving about members of the guild. He got interested in the constructive conversation, and soon, my friend was encouraging me to share my ideas with him.

Bang! Like a gavel hitting the table, he slammed the price of the slab of wood I’d originally fallen in love with but cancelled because of the steep hit to my wallet. That was it, too dumbstruck to talk, I meekly accepted the very generous gift of discount, and paid the rest of the amount. Once home, it took me a good three hours to muster up the courage to draw my plans with chalk on that beautiful blue mahoe.

The husband gave me a brilliant suggestion – intertwined hearts. I loved it. Once the design was finalised, I took some measurements, and soon enough, the blue mahoe had chalk marks on it as it got loaded again into the trunk of trusty Rogue, ready to be taken to the guild for cutting.

At the guild, it was another matter of an hour, where all members present stopped doing whatever magic they were creating to go gaga and run their hands over the gorgeous blue mahoe. I admit I was mean in bragging the price cut, and I hope that Andy isn’t angry with me for diverting a huge number of wood workers to his shop in hopes of getting beautiful wood at beautiful prices.

I did two trial runs of the design on scrap wood, and only when I was convinced that I could get it exactly as I wanted, did I dare to run the wood through the jointer and planer. A few deep breaths later, my hands were rock steady when I used the scroll saw on the wood.

Three hours later, the glue was dry, the pivots were in, the ring holder was drilled in, and the box was ready to be taken home for sanding. “Smooth as a baby’s butt,” is the term any wood worker knows, and often dreads, because it means hours and hours of sanding in just the right direction, at just the right spots. Two days later, the ring box was indeed ‘smooth as a baby’s butt’ even when I did the ‘blind test,’ in which the eyes remain closed, and the hands are clean and dry as you run first the index and middle finger, and then only the index finger, all over the wooden piece. The test helps you find any missed spots, bumps, ridges that need to be sanded.

After much deliberation, research, discussion with wood workers I know and trust, I decided to finish the piece with lacquer without using any sealant first. It was a risk, but a calculated one, for I knew several people who promised me that lacquer, when dry, would seal effectively. The people at wood craft were thrilled to see pictures of the box, and I felt like a fool for not thinking to carry the box itself with me. Fortunately, they are all too kind, and no one voice my feelings.

Back home, armed with the can of spray lacquer, with my respirator snapped on and my hands covered with leather gloves, I tested it on three pieces of scrap wood, to ensure that I wouldn’t damaged the box. After the standard eight hours of curing, I sanded, then resprayed. Repeating the process over the next several days, I was convinced that my decision about lacquer was indeed the right one.

It was well over a week after I had crafted the box did I finish the lacquer process, allowing it due time between sprays and sanding to make sure it did not leave any bubbles of off-gassing. Each time I used the lacquer, the respirator and gloves went on, and the garage door stayed open. Lacquer stinks, and the fumes are harmful!!

I sent a picture of the finished box to my cousin, who seemed quite touched by the effort I’d put into it. I wish I had better words to tell her that it is a labor of love. Mailing the box was a funny story, for it was too tiny to warrant a box, and too big to fit into an envelop. We finally found a bubble wrap envelop that was perfect for the task.

To those that are still with me, reading the story, here are some pictures of the box. The lids are made of the marvellous blue mahoe, which grows only in Jamaica, and the box base is made of Ambrosia Maple, a steady, sturdy, gorgeous wood, the pivots are made of birch. The blue mahoe made perfect sense to me because of its rare dual shade, as rare and special as my cousin and her fiance, and to me, it symbolises the harmony amidst individuality. I cut the lids in that shape to signify that the two hearts are whole only when together, and each has a piece missing when apart. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55-AyxjBU0I