Coal and Chilies

Religion comes naturally to my parents. For me it’s like an invisible sibling with whom I have a love-hate relationship. It’s amazing how the rituals and processes to appease Gods which you were very sure your parents were never aware of suddenly resurface during ceremonies. And then there is our family astrologer. I was so amused by his predictions that I sometimes prodded mom to take his advice just to see what he would come up with. He had surprised me time and again and mom had deep faith in him. There are two incidences which instantly surface in my mind. Till date I am not sure whether it was plain luck or the astrologer actually waved his magic wand.

Offering coal to rivers and feeling foolish

I had finished my Masters and had dropped for a year to study for IIT’s GATE exam. I failed that exam and was in a completely suicidal mode. There was darkness all around and no candle of hope was visible. My career was finished.

(Exaggeration alert)

It was then when my mom went to the astrologer with tears in her eyes, banging his door and asking for help.

He patiently saw my birth chart and did some quick calculations and conveniently conveyed to my mother that I was going through a very rough seven and a half years phase of my life called “Sade Sati”. My mom gasped, sucking in two tears by mistake which were racing down her cheeks.

“Don’t worry sister. The good news is that the seven and a half years are almost done. Only a few months left. But yes, there are ways to negate the remaining effects quickly,” the astrologer said.

Mom’s eyes sparkled with hope, her heart racing towards her mouth.

“Please! Please tell me how oh! great astrologer!” she said.

“Ask your son to go to a river for three Tuesdays and offer coal to the flowing water. Take around a kilo of coal every time. This bad phase will pass quickly.”


I laughed loudly when I heard of this. Mom threw ice spikes from her eyes which effectively closed my mouth. I could have said no and that would have been the end but then I wanted to do this mostly because it sounded fun. I didn’t really think of the implications.

So, there I was, standing at the banks of Hindon River dropping coal in it and feeling utterly foolish. It was bearable the first time. By the time I reached the count of three, I wanted to kill the astrologer.

I forgot about it as soon as it was done and went back to my life which was basically twirling my fingers everyday. Surprisingly, things started to iron out soon. I cleared my NET exam, cleared JNU Ph.D. written exam and interview (only ten students were selected from all over India) and was accepted for M.Tech in Kurukshetra University. Suddenly from nothing-to-look-forward-to, I had too much to handle.

Mom thought it was all due to the blessings of the astrologer. I had my doubts. Maybe things were meant to happen this way but how did that bloody astrologer used it to his advantage?

(6 years later)

Respect me!

Honoring Sun god with water mixed with chili seeds and feeling foolish again

I was in Chennai working for an IT firm. I was there from the last 2.5 years and desperately wanted to come back home to Delhi. My manager wanted me to go to USA for a project from Chennai. No matter how lucrative the offer looked, I was not very keen on it as it meant working in Chennai after I would have come back and I was longing to go back home (at least for a few months). I talked to mom and she had a brilliant idea.

(Exaggeration alert)

Mom was again back to the astrologer. She wanted her son back. She had determination in her eyes. She would find a way no matter what. Her will was steel.

“Sister, don’t worry! I have a very effective solution. Your son will be able to bend the will of Gods,” the astrologer chirruped.

“Is it true? Oh! Please do tell me greatest astrologer of all times!!”


“Ask him to buy a copper mug. Fill it with water and a few red chili seeds. Ask him to go to the balcony of his house for three days in the morning and raise the mug towards the sun with both hands and drop the water slowly on the ground. Ask him to ask the Sun god whatever he wishes to come true.”

The sheer amount of time I wasted to find a copper mug can fill an encyclopedia but I finally did the whole process out of curiosity. In my heart I wanted to prove him wrong but wanted my wishes to be granted as well. And so I made the following wish – “Dear Sun God! I don’t know why I am doing this but if you are listening, please send me home first and then onsite. I do not want it the other way round.”

Mysteriously, due to some reasons, my USA Visa developed a snag and I got a call from a project in Delhi. I got transferred here and eight months later I was off to Manchester.

Now whatever you may call it but the lucky bastard got lucky a second time. I still could not nail him. My mom’s faith trebled.

Looking back, everything I did was crazy but somehow it made mom happy and somehow it worked. I have realized that sometimes desperation makes you do funny stuff. Also, incidences like these spice up your past. You can look back and laugh, regale yourself, smile and scratch your head and be happy that thankfully your family is what it is – Weird.

p.s. And if you are wondering where my mom got the coal from, she asked the local Ironman (no, not from Avengers!! The one who uses a very very heavy iron filled with coal to press the clothes) to get it for her.

[images from 1,2,3]

This entry is a part of the contest at in association with

To Beef or not to Beef

Are you a Hindu? Yes.

Do you like cows? Yes, but not in the middle of roads fanning their tails and making dung pyramids.

Do you like dead cows? Depends. If I am hanging from one of her enormous horns and someone shoots her, then yes.

Do you like to eat dead cows? Yeah sure.

Holy cow!

How many such families have you killed?

My first problem is with the vegetarians. Why do they look down upon us poor non-vegetarians as if we are illegal immigrants? We like to eat animals, they like to eat plants. Both live and die. Both are created by God. Looking down upon us will not make us weak. We have tasted flesh. You must know that we will never give up enjoying a lamb to put your degrading looks to rest. You must know that your sinister remarks are bland compared to a juicy chicken leg. Your fear-the-god histrionics are insipid in front of the taste of the fish melting in our mouth. Don’t you know that the Earth is losing its green cover because of idiots like you? You are killing the very species which keeps you alive. One less plant is one less unit of oxygen produced. Doesn’t your heart bleed when a farmer uproots a plant from the Earth to fill your greedy stomach? You are killing the planet, veggie. So, don’t blame us. We are just trying to maintain the balance which you have disturbed by mindlessly butchering the plants.

Cows are happy because of their special privileges

My second problem is with Religious people. I like eating animals and so do a zillion inhabitants of this planet and I do not like someone mixing religion in my food. It has a very bitter taste and makes me spit my food. Yes, I have eaten a lot of species like hens, goats, pigs, fish, prawns, turkey, crabs, ducks, rabbits and cows. Now you object to my eating cows. What about the other animals? Don’t you think they will feel terribly left out by your racist behavior? Do we really need to have the reservation system in animals also? Prawns cannot take out a procession but if they could, they would have filled the intricate clockwork at Jantar Mantar in no time. Delhi would have been brimming with prawns demanding an explanation of the communal divide you have created. Goats would have sat outside the President’s palace in millions to demand an explanation as to why the cows are allowed to snort at them? What makes you think that a fish is less capable and noteworthy than a cow? Do you think God bestowed special privileges on a cow? Did God come and whisper that in your poking-ly overzealous religious ears?

My third problem is with people who are vegetarian and religious. Frankly guys, you are the ones who whine the most. I can’t handle you, just like I can’t handle Splitsvilla, Rakhi Sawant and Dolly Bindra. Yes, you are that unbearable. All I can say to you is that I don’t care what you eat and expect the same from you. For all I care, you can go and eat a leather jacket. Oh wait! Isn’t that non vegetarian? Is it all right for you to wear a dead animal in the name of fashion?

Sad prawn

My fourth problem is with anti-beef non vegetarians. Dude! Are we not supposed to be in the same gang, something like the blood sucking vampires against humans? Are we not supposed to stick together? Believe me, if tomorrow you develop a taste for whale brain, I will not cringe my nose at you. Its your mouth and it’s not my whale. I expect a similar behaviour from you when I mention the B word. And what’s all this no-non-vegetarian-on-Tuesdays-because-Gods-will-get-angry thing? You really believe in that shit? If this is true then I don’t know about you but Gods must be crazy.

I request all the vegetarian, religious, vegetably religious and anti-beef non vegetarians(ABNV) to back off. I care two hoots about your religious sentiments or what you eat. I cannot care about the sentiments of people who have blood of plants and humans on their hands (does not apply to ABNV), who care more about a cow than an accident victim lying helplessly on a road and bleeding to death. Please show more enthusiasm to help humans than cows. Also, I do not appreciate people who make faces as they disapprovingly sniff my plate filled with fleshy food. If you do not like what I eat, close your eyes and stop breathing. Stop choking me with your religious rope made of dead plants.

[Images from 1,2,3]