There are some things that my wife will not be interested in doing at all for months and months, and then one day she will want to do it for hours and hours. For example, we hadn’t been to the temple in so long that I cannot remember, and then Saturday we got an overdose of it.
My wife and I woke up early and I fixed my son one of his favorites: cinnamon rolls. Then my wife announced: we’re going to the temple. It was 8:00. If we left by 9:00, we could have done all of our pooja by noon and then eaten lunch. It never works that way.
I got ready but my wife decided to plan our trip to India. She web surfed for an hour while I tried to get my son ready. Of course he wouldn’t get ready as long as his mother was web surfing. So we didn’t leave home until 10:00.
My wife’s favorite temple
is about 30 miles from our house. We live near Tyson’s and the temple is in Greenbelt. Even when we lived within walking distance of a temple in Springfield, she always wanted to go to the one in Greenbelt. It’s some North Indian-South Indian thing. Oh well, I wouldn’t mind too much but we hit traffic. It doesn’t matter what day of the week or what time of the day, there is always traffic on the Beltway.
We got to the temple at about 11:00. We went first to the Ganesha shrine. We made our way to one shrine after another until we got to the main Sri Balaji shrine (Lord Venkateshwara, not the bowler). There were several priests chanting and a large crowd of devotees. My wife got a chant book and started chanting. I sat down and slowly came to realize that this was going to take hours.
After one-half an hour, my son became antsy. I suggested to my wife that I would take him to the other shrines and come back. He had fun putting coins into hundis. He loves spending money - that is for sure. He also likes ringing bells. I wasn’t really sure if he was allowed to ring the bells so I stood aside, let him ring one bell, and then immediately said, “That’s enough of that,” while pretending that I just caught him in some mischief.
Then we went into the main hall and sat on the carpet and played “animal game (20 questions)”. I always choose banana slug so he gets it very quickly. He chooses some dinosaur I never heard of.
Then we went back to the Sri Balaji Shrine. There was standing room only by this time. We were standing there when my son pointed to the chubby lady in the grey salwar kameez, “There she goes again.” “What?” I asked. “She keeps coming by here.” Sure enough, the chubby lady in the grey salwar kameez was circling the room, pushing through the crowd. For some reason, she was trying to combine devotion and exercise, while irritating hundreds. I cannot say for sure, but I have the strongest feeling God, (should one exist), would want people to do their exercising outdoors. Anyway, she was providing a little entertainment to my very bored son.
The reason why the chanting was so mind-numbingly boring is that neither my son nor I had a clue what they were saying. My wife might have had at least a clue. But it is odd that the chanting is done in a language that no one uses. Well, it not odd, it kind of like the way Catholicism was until maybe 50 years ago. Its kind of the way Islam is outside the Middle East. For some reason, religions think religious words are too holy to translate into languages that the locals understand.
My son got hungry, so I took him downstairs to get some food. They have a little concession stand downstairs. I got him idli-sambhar. Unfortunately, the idlis were contaminated by sambhar. My son was very upset. He won’t eat idlis contaminated with sambhar. I had to carefully wipe off the sambhar. Luckily, he was hungry and he ignored that sambhar juices that had seeped into the idlis.
Finally, the Sri Balaji pooja was over, but my wife wanted to do a special Durga pooja. This was the typical two-banana pooja. The priest asks a series of questions having to do with my wife’s ancestors and the priest chants some things we don’t really understand. Then we get some holy water, we touch the flame, and we get two bananas.
Later, my wife explained that this was special pooja for her sister on her birthday. My wife didn’t call her sister on her birthday. She didn’t send flowers (like I suggested) or a card or a present or anything. She hasn’t talked to her for months. She’s still upset. But she loves her sister and she did special pooja. And somehow that is supposed to help her sister. I would think a simple apology would be better, but my wife has never apologized.
I have learned that the only way to keep my wife happy is to always apologize even when my wife is at fault. Sometimes I don’t know what it is that I’m apologizing for. My wife will quiz me, “You’re sorry for what?” “I’m sorry for whatever.” “Humpf!” Well, it generally works for me. My wife and her sister are two of a kind. They are playing the defect-defect strategy forever
My wife had one more task to perform. She asked, “How much money do we have in our checking account.” That’s never a good question. She wanted to write a check for $1001 to the temple. I remembered when she wrote a check for one-month’s salary to thank God for her job and she lost that job within two weeks. I bit my tongue.
After nearly three hours of pooja, I was hungry. So was my wife and my son was still hungry. But we left too late to make it to Gaithersburg to our favorite South Indian restaurant
. So we went to another one in Tacoma Park that is nothing special. They had a buffet. It had some good items, some bad items, and some awful items.
After we left the restaurant, we went back to the Beltway and it was a parking lot. Then I made a stupid decision. I decided to exit the Beltway and cut through D.C. The reason why the Beltway is always congested is because the roads through D.C. are hopeless. The city was designed by some mad Frenchman who had a premonition that Americans would one day hold his homeland in contempt so he planned his preemptive revenge. He put road in all kinds of bizarre angle, and he created these traffic circles to maximize confusion. It’s such a mess that I would say that one day we just bite the bullet and bulldoze the city and start over again. It’s the only way.
Finally, after much yelling and screaming between the occupants of our car, we made it to familiar roads. We just got on to the freeway (I-66) and passed the Balston exit when my son said that he needed to go potty. And we hit traffic. And there was nowhere we could exit until West Falls Church some four miles ahead. My son began screaming in pain. I was under extreme pressure, but there was nothing I could do. Finally, we exited at West Falls Church and went straight to a McDonald’s. I just left the car in the middle of the parking lot and rushed him to the bathroom. His bladder must have been near the bursting point, but we made it.
When we were home, my wife asked me if I remembered what happened the last time that she had donated such a large sum of money. “You lost your job.” She shot me a look that could kill. “No, I got steady raises every year until after four years, I made more money than you.” Since it was our
money, I failed to recognized the cause and effect. I had thought that her steady raises were due to her hard work and dedication, working evenings and weekends, while I wasted time writing a stupid blog.
That evening, my wife rented a simply awful British movie
(I know, the “awful” is redundant). I don’t know why she rents these things. I would have like even a silly Hindi movie more – at least I could laugh at the silly song and dance. Sure, I don’t understand Hindi, but I can barely understand Scottish English.
After that, my wife said that we needed to go to the temple more often. She said that we needed to make it a priority. I agreed. If we went more often, maybe it would be more pleasant. And maybe my wife would be happier and more content and that can only be good. I just wish the temple weren’t so far.