Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bangalore re-discovered

It was the end of Kiran’s exams. He needed a break and Amma decided to join him to Bangalore for a stay at our home. They reached on Friday evening. As usual I was held up at office until 8pm. Mentally though, I was home since 4pm wondering what Amma must be doing, if Kiran had started playing on the Wii, what were they talking, what was all the fun that I was missing.

Come Saturday morning, Amma got ready early and started pestering us to go out somewhere. The next two days we were out on the roads of Bangalore, armed with a Bus Pass each. A Daily Pass costs Rs.32 and allows unlimited bus travel for an entire day. We went to places far apart within the city, without having to worry about buying the ticket or waiting for change from the conductor every time we changed buses.

I mostly sat beside the window cocking out my head trying not to miss any of the happenings outside. Most of the places I had never seen before. I was excited for sure, and I think it showed on my face. We visited relatives, went to ISKON and a couple of other temples nearby. We reached home as late as 8:30 both days, priding ourselves that we hadn’t spent more than the pass fare for the entire excursion.

It had been long since I ventured in that side of Bangalore and I was both surprised and amused by the walls in the city. They were vibrant and colourful with paintings. Huge image on various topics – musicians, old heritage structures, dancers, artisans, nature, birds, waterfalls. It was an exhilarating sight. Initially I was so drawn into the artwork that it never struck me to click a pic. When it finally dawned on me, I realized my mobile was with Kiran who was sitting far away in the back seat of the bus. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Kudos to BBMP on their new initiative!! I know there are some folks who have opposed this saying it is a waste of money, but I personally feel that this is a great way of creating opportunity for talented painters to showcase their skills. I had begun to feel that India has lost all its talent to History but I guess last weekend changed my opinion.

On our journey back home from Majestic, there were two girls sitting across me in the bus. They were definitely discussing something very interesting. Unfortunately they used a medium beyond my understanding – mere expressions and lip & hand movements. They seemed really engrossed in their conversation thankfully oblivious of my stare. Insensitive though I may sound to their disability, I enjoyed the experience. One of them especially gave such pronounced expressions, it almost looked to me like a dancer in performance.

Looking forward to more trips around the city like this one. Hopefully in future I will have a fully loaded camera in hand to bring back my musings.


** Pic courtesy The Hindu

Monday, December 21, 2009

Milestones...

It is that time of the year again, when the countdown to the New Year has begun. It is once again time to make resolutions, check on old resolutions, and renew the contract for some past resolutions. It is once again the shortest day of the year and it is once again the day when this blog was started.

For one, I can pat on my back for having braced the storm of distractions for an entire year. The number of posts made in this year is 26, which on an average means a post a fortnight, which sounds good and regular. However, I regret not being as regular as the average seems. There have been times when I posted twice a week and sometimes, months when posts never happened.

The past year had a good mix of personal thoughts, festivals and incidents. I may not call this a laudable beginning, but atleast it was a beginning. Having stepped on the one year milestone, it is now time to take my blog somewhere. The journey so far was unplanned and the target as just to fill; to remember to come back to this space; not let it bury under the sands of time.

This was my New Year Resolution for the year 2009, and I grant myself that I lived upto it. This year, I renew my resolution, although making it more competitive. This year I resolve not just to add on to this page but to find a Purpose to this blog, Plan my entries and follow a Pattern. I also plan to put up pics occassionally alongside the text.

Incidentally today I also complete 7 whole months of marital bliss. True to the word, it has indeed been bliss. Like the wise men said, “Marriage is an eye opener”. It not just opened my eyes to the fine person that Hubs is but also to a few qualities in me that are too deeply etched for me to deny. No matter how much I disagree, I realize I am quite a stubborn person with a fixed mind, rarely open to change. Another surprise to me was that I am not as calm a person as I thought I was and can sometimes have a really short temper.

In the beginning of the New Year, I hereby also resolve to overcome my shortcomings gradually, bit by bit, one after the other.

On this yet another hopeful note, I conclude.

Ah I forgot to mention, coming weekend there is a trip to Ooty awaiting me. Hopefully I should have a piece about it before the New Year sets in!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Surprises are meant to be Busted!

Coincidence has it that my father and FIL share their birthday- 11 December. As Mysore is an easy access from Bangalore and also as 11th this year fell on a Friday, hubs and I decided to surprise my FIL by landing up there without notice. We even conspired with Kiran to buy a cake and leave it at a Patti’s home so we could pick it up on our way from the station.

As luck would have it, another relative saw Kiran carrying a cake into Patti’s house and promptly called up Pa to tell him that something was awaiting him at 10pm. Dad kinda guessed that Karthik and I would be there. We consoled ourselves that the cake would yet be unexpected. But lo, Appa decided to go seek Patti’s blessings. Old people as far as I know have this sheer joy of surprisingly busting a surprise such that the person giving the surprise is taken by surprise themselves and the one who is to be surprised is surprisingly happy that he already got to know of the surprise!! Patti did just that. Her blessings ended with, “they have left a cake for you here. Karthik and Shilpa will get it at night”

******
As the train screeched into Mysore station, we promptly called Kiran saying we have reached. He and Dad (!!!!!!) were there to pick us up. I usually get very upset with such sudden turn of events because I will miss the ‘joy in the eyes’ that is a definite response to any surprise. This time though, I thankfully had another surprise for dad (this one, nobody except Hubs knew about). We waited for Dad to cut the cake and then I slowly motioned a box of me-made Besan laddoos towards him. Appa was overjoyed coz he had heard a lot about it being my specialty and kept asking me to make them for him. It had never happened for one reason or the other. Within no time, the box was empty and Kiran and Dad were smaking their lips.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winds of change

This post should have happened atleast 2 weeks back when finally the Wii came home. But I guess it is a good excuse to say that I was playing rather than sitting down to write about it. Yes, the Wii came and brought along with it winds of change. The first couple of days were dull as Hubs fell terribly sick and kept me busy tending to his various needs, leaving little time for the game.

Now, our evenings are action packed as Hubs and I fight about who will play what. I just about pick the remote and like magic, evenings turn into night. Life after the Wii is super-awesome. There is no derth of pastime nor physical activity. Both Hubs and I are so involved in the game, we literally screech at each other like we just missed the Wimbeldon trophy. After a series of tennis matches against each other, we thought it a good idea to rather play in the same team rather than trying to match our prowess. Tennis games are a lot more peaceful now. I consistently beat him through the nose is Bowling. In all other games though, it is me who takes the beating. He is really good at sports, and now, I am convinced. Just to save grace, I blame all my misses to lack of practice because I don’t have the time. I have to do so much work at office, around the house – cooking, washing, cleaning, blah blah. You have all the time in the world to practice the game. I get away with it.

The coming weekend I will be away at Mysore. But the weekend after that, I am hoping to spend an entire day Wii’ing… much fun!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am hooked... finally!!!

I accept that I am averse to change… or anything new for that matter. I’ve noticed for a while now. Quite late to the cyber world, I was probably one from the last lot who created an orkut profile. I avoided Facebook until I got atleast 75 requests and finally gave in. After so many weeks of steering away from Farmville despite the discussion my friends and cousins had, everytime telling me that it was fun, I got weak today when my sister asked me to look after her farm until she returned from vacation. After doing the minimum that her farm required, I promptly sent myself a request from her id and went ahead to create my farm. Now that I have started off, I am checking my farm every 5 mins to see if my crop is ready for harvest… am I addicted already??

For this, I just have my no-work office status to thank. Had I not so much time in hand to kill, I promise I wouldn’t have even peeked into any farm. Talking of farming, in so many years, growing plants/gardening has never been close to me. In fact at school when we had to grow plants for Work Experience class, I made sure either amma or my sister planted as well as nurtured them.

Last week, our company started a green drive and gave away Basil plants to all employees. I carried one home as Basil plants are considered sacred and having one in your home could bring in good fortune. I found a nice pot for it and placed it at a corner in our balcony. I have now grown so fond of it that I moved my regular exercises to the balcony so I can be in conversation with the plant even while I am developing a few muscles. I have heard that plants respond to speech. If this is true, my Basil plant is sure to flourish. Besides, this may be the small start to my home garden to come J

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Kolam outside our house

It was yet silent and dark outside. A pleasant wind was blowing as I opened the main door of our house. The entire building was in deep slumber. I cautiously swept the area in front of our door and squat on the floor wondering what design to draw today. I was doing this after very long and was immediately reminded of my younger days at home as a little one when my sister and I fought about whose turn it was to draw the kolam.

Amma would wake up early in the morning and get the area outside the house ready before waking us up. The one whose turn it was that day, would get out of bed with a lot of effort and start drawing with the fine powder even while murmuring curses under the breath. We always wondered why it was so necessary to do this ritual every morning and always tried convincing Amma that this could be postponed to another time of the day. But Amma was always stubborn. She said that this was the way of welcoming Lakshmi Devi to the house without which, she would turn away angrily.

As years went by Amma stopped pestering us in the mornings. In the afternoons though, after our maid cleaned the kitchen, I would draw small kolams in front of the puja area. The days Patti would come home, just for impression sake, I would draw bigger kolams concentrating more on the steadiness of the lines. “Shilpa draws the Shangu(conch) very well”, Patti would say and I would feel elated. Slowly I developed a liking for this and soon had my own book of kolams which I would fill during lazy afternoons, copying from the Mangayar Malar magazine that Amma subscribed to, or sometimes from Amma’s old kolam book.

As days passed, studies, tuitions, exams took more priority and this hobby was kind of forgotten. It was only once in a year, the night prior to Diwali, when my sis and I would sit out there for hours drawing large and intricate designs, and filling it strenuously with the choicest colours. This too was lost in the tide of time as I moved out for my PG first and job later.

Yesterday, when I was out on my weekly shopping spree, I stumbled on a vendor who had the white powder heaped in front of him. Flooded with memories from my childhood, I bought some of it hoping to carry on the tradition in my home.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I have changed...


I spent a few minutes today reading one of my age-old blogs and boy, was I impressed?! I never realized then that I have a flair for writing. Now, when I have started writing again after a break of few years, I see in myself neither talent nor passion. My command over the language seems to have disappeared. I often find myself struggling to make my point while the right words never make it further than the tip of my tongue….probably coz its been more than a while since I picked up a book to read. Besides, I am no more a thinker that I once used to be.

Lack of thoughts – rather, not spending enough time with my thoughts leads to a drop in the number of posts. My diary which used to be randomly filled with my tryst with philosophy and the inner mind, runs dry.

Talking of changes, I have almost given up my daily prayers so too my exercises. It wouldn’t be fair to blame all these changes to my ‘hectic life-after-marriage’. If anything, my life now is easier than before. I have the entire morning to myself, whatever way I choose to waste it. Cooking happens only for one time that too invariably spills over for the next day’s meal.

The only way to explain this then, is to confess on my laziness. Now, is repair time. I plan to get back all the good habits that I once had and at the first place stop cribbing about lack of time. Closing this post on a hopeful note of having more topics to write on more frequently….

Friday, October 9, 2009

Finally

Yippee!! Just 5 days to go and then I will be home. J I am so excited…. Ah! How long I waited for this excitement to set in. Generally a month before my date of vacation, my GTalk status already carries a countdown. This time it never felt like I was going home even though the date was so close…. until yesterday. Probably the lingering thought that my leave would be cancelled considering the status of my project at work.

Yesterday, just like I expected, I was asked if my vacation could be postponed. Only after I argued, complained, fought and convinced, I was granted my will. And no sooner, the excitement was starting to be visible on my face. The whole of last night I haven’t slept a blink. My mind was drawing pictures of the forthcoming week. It was like a auto run slide show of me scurrying from office to make it to the station in time, the wobble wobble of the train journey, the peering out of the window waiting for the train to chug into Mumbai station, daddy’s happy face, visits to various houses, showcasing my favourite city to Hubs, the nice rickshaw guys returning every rupee without another thought, Mummy-cooked food and more.

Well, the fact remains that I am going home and it is natural for me to go sleepless with exhilaration. But, I am oh so worried that if all the following nights continue this way, I am going to sleep-stay in Mumbai, sleep-walking to places, sleep-talking with people and wishing them a Happy Sleep-Diwali.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If there were a tomorrow...


I frequented her house as her daughter and I were classmates. More than classmates, best friends. I needed no occasion to sleep over at her place. Even my sudden visits would be responded by delicious food & lots of chatting. All this, even when she would have just returned from school, tired of listening to the noise little ones make.

I remember the one time when I went. She opened the door saying, “I knew you would not let Gayu alone at this time. I knew you would come to pep her up.” Her eyes were giving away the truth that she was holding her tears. She was a great mother.

As I moved out of the city, my trips to her place dwindled. Sporadic, but yet periodic. This time I stayed over at her place, the house was full of guests. It was her daughter’s wedding after-all. On the Wedding day morning, she pleaded that I cajole he daughter to wear the poo-jadai she had bought. After the wedding, she blessed that I get married soon too… I noticed the moistening of her eyes then.

Shortly, I got married… she was not present, but her wishes came along with her husband, and mails from her daughter. She was bed-ridden. I couldn’t see her, but I know her eyes were wet again. I promised myself I would see her when I go back home for Diwali.

But alas, this time she left my eyes drenched….

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mysore - the Dassera Splendour

I am just back after an eventful and most looked forward to trip to Mysore. Being a 4-day long weekend, Hubs and I took off to Mysore to check out the Navarathri festivities in the city. We amusingly took a Rs.19 ticket to Shrirangapattana and decided to move on to Mysore by bus after sight seeing there. At Shrirangapattana, we first visited the Ranganathaswamy temple. After a quick and easy darshanam, we moved on to other places. Among places we saw were Tipu Sultan’s place of death, tipu’s summer palace – which now house a museum, Gumbaz –which has the burial chamber of Tipu. As the burning sun pierced our bodies, we decided to head straight to Sangama which is the point where a branch of the river Cauvery re-unites with the main course, and take a dip. Unfortunately, Friday being Mahalaya Amavasya, the p[lace was full of people engaged in carrying out rituals for their ancestors. Unhappy but yet hopeful, we went on to Nimishamba temple. Though we didn’t enter the temple, we had a great time playing in the river water flowing behind the temple. After lolling in the cool waters for more than an hour, we very unwillingly carried on our journey towards Mysore.

Mysore that evening was peaceful with nothing much to do except visiting a couple of houses. However we were quite enthusiastic and all set to materialize our talakkadu plan for the next day. Come Saturday morning, my poor BIL had a problem with his bike and by the time it was fixed, it was quite late to start a journey so far. So, with no further delay, plans changed and 4 bikes and 8 humans hit the road towards Balmuri. The super awesome thing about this was Balmuri being much closer, Amma and Appa also agreed to join. We just about drenched ourselves in the water there and then moved further down to Edamuri falls. This place had a nice waterfall, safe and large at once for a family to enjoy their day. Having spent a couple of hours bouncing in the water, getting a natural massage by the force of the falling water, with all the slipping, laughter, cheer and joy, we left for home, tired and famished. We stopped by at a restaurant for a very late lunch.

Back home all of us slept like logs at whatever place we could find and only woke up late to take a small bike ride to nearby places to check out the lighting which made the city look bridal. We went a couple of circles away and the first time as it was for me, the feast for my eyes had me yelling with excitement.

Day 3 at Mysore started off with a puja at home followed by a heavy meal of delicious Bissi Bele Bhath in company of 4 of our cousins and an aunt. Early evening, Hubs and I visited the much talked about flower show and I must say it was worth all the talk. The Mahishasura made of roses was spectacular as were the various flowers. I loved most the vegetable garden as I saw for the first time how all my favourite vegetables looked as they clung on to their guardian looking forward to be picked and tossed into a tawa.

Later we went to Chamundi Hills. Now, I had visited this place before but today our intention was to catch the lighting in the city from atop the hill. Half way up the hill it was pouring cats and dogs. Hubs continued riding even as the rain drops pierced at our skin. Once atop, the hot cuppa tea was relieving. Since there wasn’t much crowd at the temple we were able to have a quick darshan and we were on our way downhill. We had to wait about 15 minutes before we witnessed the breathtaking sight of the city lights coming on. The palace looked divine even as the rest of the city, adorned with lights across each and every road was glimmering.

The last event for the day was to be the Yuva Dassera which everyone told me would be an experience of a lifetime. The crowd was huge when we reached the ground. The singer for the day was Shreya Ghoshal. The show was quite a disappointment for everyone else more than me because Shreya sang melodious numbers one after the other giving no opportunity for the crowd to even tap their feet. As she progressed from one song to another, the gathering was slowly disappearing. We too left for home after the first 5 songs.

Today we were to head back for Bangalore, leaving behind the festivities and coming back to mundane reality. We however managed a quick trip to Bombe Mane which is a handicraft emporium. They had arranged an exhibition of traditional dolls for the 9 days of Navarathri. The only thing I could wish when I was there was that I were a baby who could throw a tantrum and wail until somebody bought me everything that I liked (…which was almost everything on display). There were depictions of the various stories of mythology, a model of the highly regarded Dassera procession at Mysore, and stray idols of all hindu deities in their leisure.

As I boarded the train to Bangalore my mind was already counting days before next weekend when I will be witnessing the Dassera procession for real.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My childhood & I

I am tired of working second shift. Yea, I know you’d say its better than working double… but this doesn’t suit me either. I know until very recently, I loved working 12 hour days. I never even minded taking client calls in the middle of the night. Buy you see times are different now. I reach office at 12:30 and wait for opportunities when I can run away at 8, not even waiting for my shift hours to complete. Then it doesn’t even matter if I have to sneak away without my Manager’s knowledge or I need to leave myself online to make him believe I am yet at office.

While in the cab I restlessly look at the watch time and again wondering why it takes so long to be home. I literally jump off and run all the way up the stairs. When I reach, I am always jubilant as if my day has just begun. I go on and on with narrations of what happened through the day…. Just like I used to when daddy came back home after a tiring day at work, just like I used to every evening on the way home from school as mummy tugged me occasionally to keep me off the middle of the road, just like I used to when my sis returned after her never-ending tuition classes, just like I used to when I met my cousin after a while…

This mindless chatter that I oh so cherish, I thought was childhood… but I guess this is actually what it means to go back to family.

Monday, August 31, 2009

No.. you are not forgotten...

I know its been more than a fortnight now since i scribbled something in. Its just time... rather the lack of it that is keeping me away. Lots of things have happened in the past week. Among boring appears tall and large, 'OFFICE-work'. Among interesting is definitely Ganesh Chaturthi (related post coming up soon) and very recently, fulfillment of my dream which I never gave enough priority until it happened.

As the task of setting up our house is yet on, Hubs and I never relent from cooking up new ideas every once in a while. All excited after buying a new Drill Gun, completely floored by how well it works, Hubs wanted to go on a drilling spree around the house, reminding me of termites (no.. i am NOT going to spray termite medicine on him). Just to help him an opportunity to exercise his fancy, we went rummaging through our wedding gifts trying to get some wall hangings we could put up in the house. There was this one photoframe, looking at which Hubs' bulb glowed, "Why not put up 3 photos diagonally on this wall?" Evening come, we were photoframe shopping to Jayanagar. Right at the store, while selecting the frames, I remembered my long time dream of having not 1-2 or3 but an assortment of photos on the wall... like a photo-collage In no time the idea was bought and we were on our way home with 7 frames :)

It is funny how sometimes, you wish something and never expect it to come true - but it does. And when it does, it gives you mega-tonnes of happiness!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obsessed!!

My body aches at the slightest movement… so much so that I need to be prepared to brace the pain even if I need to stretch. But my mind seems to have fallen in love with the source of the pain… to the extent that I dreamt about it all of last night.

The green screen of the TV in front of me, my arms swinging from side to side holding on tightly the remote control of the Wii. I woe up this morning thinking about last evening when both Hubs and me had a smashing time at heis cousin Preety’s house, playing games on the Wii. It is not just a little more than a video game, it is in fact absolute fun.

I loved the gadget so much that the not-so-impulsive me has taken a back seat giving way to an obsessed me all set to own the thingamajig.

So anybody who is listening, get me a Wii by Nintendo and be assured that I will love you for the rest of my life!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Janmashtami that never was…

I woke up in the morning all upset that I will not be at home in the evening to celebrate Janmashtami. I would be missing the usual puja that I do to ‘my favourite God’. However, I took a quick bath. Along with my usual meal preparation, I started preparing vella-avil (a preparation of poha with jaggery), followed by sabudana payasam. I cleaned the puja area, wiped all the idols and applied chandan and kumkum on the birthday boy-deity.

After brooing the area outside our house, I put rangoli and also made footsteps of the Lord with rice atta, all the way from the stairs upto the puja room. This is my most-liked part of this festival (of course other than the sweet-eating!!). Once satisfied with the rangoli design and the footsteps, I made the thiri for the lamps, oiled them and also stuck 2 agarbaththis on the agarbathi stand. I hurriedly kept all the sweets and savouries for the neivedyam on the dining table before getting ready for work. I also stuck a note near them saying “These 5 dabbas for neividyam” so that Hubs knew what eatables he was supposed to offer to God.

After reaching office, the first thing I did was sending a mail to Hubs summarizing to him all that has been kept ready for the evening puja and also explaining what he needs to do once he reaches home. I mentioned in detail when to light the lamp, when to do namaskaram and when the neividyam. I also asked him to buy fruits and flowers on the way home which he could use for the puja. Only after sending this mail did I calm down, assured that my absence will not affect the birthday celebration of ‘my favourite God’.

It might not even be half hour since the mail was sent, my mother called. She sounded very very apologetic – something not very usual of her. I asked her what happened. She started off saying, “I know you are going to be very upset and angry with me. I blundered…but please don’t shout…” I wondered when was the last time that I shouted at her that she has to say this to me. Did this mean her mistake was totally unpardonable? I couldn’t take the suspense she was creating and tried to hurry her, “What is it, tell me..”
“Janmashtami is not today, it is only tomorrow. I wrongly read the Panchangam and hence told you the wrong date earlier.”

For a couple of seconds I was calm. I even told her not to worry as it wasn’t really that bad a mistake. But no sooner, my mind started re-running all the preparations I had made since morning, giving attention to every minute detail. After this though I couldn’t hold myself and burst into peels of laughter, for the first time not even minding that I was at work. I laughed until my tummy hurt and mummy laughed along with me. In the august month of August, I had just been made an April fool.

I called up Hubs to tell him the birthday of ‘my favourite God’ had been postponed by a day. After 5 minutes of guffawing he only had this to say… “Duffer, duffer!!”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

College friends are truly irreplaceable!!


She was speaking to her fiancĂ© who had just landed in India for their wedding. She lazily tossed around in her bedroom while Topi sat looking bored on the sofa in front of her. Topi was a little excited from within though she had to maintain her mundane face… she didn’t want to let the cat out. This was after all her last few days with everyone in Mumbai. After the wedding, she would fly back with her husband. Topi’s cell rang. She moved to the balcony and leaning out, she spoke into the mic in a soft tone. “Where are you?”. She hung up quickly thinking about their last night’s conversation, “Shilpa is really busy with her office work, doing night outs. She is scared she may not be able to make it to your wedding.” She was visibly upset but only momentarily. She swiftly replied, “I know Shilpa re… there are yet 3 days for her to come na, she will finish all her work and be here.”

She was yet on the phone while the doorbell rang. Appa opened the door. “Hey, its you? Come in come in” he said. “Gayu”, he called out. “Look who has come”. “Who has come? Send them in”, she screamed back yet over the phone. “Hi!!” She turned back with a jolt disbelieving her ears. Her ears weren’t playing tricks on her. It was indeed Shilpa’s voice!! She yelled, “Hey Kamini!! Tu kab aayi??” Immediately the phone was hung up and sooner than you would expect, she was jumping with joy.

It is this one moment I will treasure all my life…. The joy on her face at that flash, the smile on Topi’s face and at the same time, the ecstasy that brimmed in my heart. If there was a way we could all re-live that moment, I could do anything for it.

With Gayathri, I always enjoyed giving surprises. Though we have been in different cities for more than 3 years now, it has had no effect on our friendship. Its always the same when we are back together.

Her wedding is without doubt a memorable event in my life. The three days before her wedding when Topi and I stayed back at her house just to spend as much time with her as possible, I hold very close to my heart. Running from pillar to post the evening before her wedding for some last minute purchases, forcing her to agree for make-up, cursing her for not buying enough bangles to go with her sarees, getting her ready on her wedding day were were not only fun for that time, but moments I would cherish all my life.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Indian Art lost forever


Just back after a weekend trip to Mysore. It was a good change and I am well rested and relaxed now. (not realy!!)

This time, apart from the numerous relatives’ houses, Hubs took me to
Jaganmohan Art Gallery. This was initially a palace which has been converted to house all the ancient art of India. The first few exhibits were not very impressive and I had Hubs already cribbing about the Rs.20/head ticket being all wasted.

However, once we went up to the first floor, our opinions changed drastically. The murals, the various pieces of art by Raja Ravi Verma, Haldenkar and others were all a feast for the eyes. My personal favourite is the ‘Glow of Hope’ by Haldenkar. The dark room with a light bulb set up for the painting well-complimented the beautiful piece of a lady holding a lamp. Ah! I was floored!!!

Some others which I liked were the painting of the lighting in the Mysore palace, the painting of an orchestra by Ravi Verma, the various wooden carvings, the musical instruments used by the Raja and the marble miniature of the Mysore palace. The gallery also had exhibits made of glass. Each one looked better than the other. At the paintings section, one of the attendants mentioned to us that on all the paintings by Ravi Verma, from wherever you look at the feet of the people in the painting, the toes always seem to be pointing towards you. Now, isn’t that really really impressive??

We left the gallery wondering if we have really progressed in all these years? Or should we call this regression? How many artists do we find today who can make paintings or carvings like those?

A fortnight back, we were trying to get a simple wooden almirah made for our kitchen. It was a plain almirah with glass doors for the top shelf and wooden doors for the bottom shelf we were looking for. The carpenter claimed he can make it in 1 day. It is 15 days since, and we are yet struggling to get it done. Not to mention the number of mistakes he has already committed in terms of measurement and design.

Compare this against any piece we saw at the gallery and there is no debate. Thanks to our fast forwarded lives today, we have lost the art all together. We neither have artists like we used to, nor connoisseurs to encourage them.

What is more, we cannot even be assured that our heritage will be preserved until our next generations can see. For, despite all the attendants keeping a watch on the visitors, people have yet managed to scribble names, drawings and what-not on the walls of the palace, probably trying to make themselves memorable.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mangala Gowri Vrata


Mangala Gowri vrata is celebrated on the four Tuesdays of the Hindu month of Shravan. This puja is done to Goddess Parvati by married women for the first five years after their wedding.

A Kalasha filled with water, haldi and kumkum is placed in the centre of a plate containing rice. Betel leaves are made to stand in the kalasha like a fence around the neck. On the background, three blouse pieces, folded like pyramids are placed. A square cut jaggery with a turmeric pyramid stuck in its centre, is placed in front of the kalasha. On either side of the kalasha, half cut dried copra filled with betel nuts is placed.

16 deepas are made out of a paste made from chana powder and jaggery. These deepas are decorated on a plate which will be used later for the puja.

After the initial invocation of Lord Ganesha, a small puja is done to Goddess Parvati, render praises of the Goddess. A garland made of cotton is strung around the deity as vastra and bangles, comb, mirror, haldi and kumkum are offered as abharana for the goddess. After Dhupam, Deepam and Neivedyam, aarti is done using two small lamps kept on a plate with water, haldi and kumkum.

After this, the 16 deepas are lit. A dosa ladle is held above the 16 lamps while the Mangala Gowri
story is recited. By the time the story is completed, the ladle has collected the carbon from the flameof the deepas. This is mixed with cold ghee and applied to the eyes.

Finally the woman takes the blessings of her husband. Haldi kumkum is offered to 3 brahmin ladies in the neighbourhood. This puja is repeated on all four Tuesdays of the Shravan masa.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bheemana Amavasya

It was Bheemana Amavasya on 21st July – an important festival for Kannadigas. I being new to this culture, my MIL came over to help me with the rituals. Here is all I could gather from the goings on.

The new moon day in the Hindu month of Ashada is celebrated as Bheemana Amavasya. Newly married women perform this puja for 9 years after their wedding. You can find the story behind this ritual
here.

Two tall lamps, signifying Shiva and Parvati are placed beside each other. A turmeric root is tied around these two lamps with a yellow thread. Kadubu and payasam is made as prasadam for the puja.

The puja starts invoking Lord Ganesha like in all other Hindu pujas. After the aarti to Lord Ganesha, the actual puja begins. A garland made of cotton is strung around the lamps. An archana is done to the two lampswhile chanting the Lalitha Sahasranamam. This is followed by Dhupam, deepam, Neividyam. For dhupam, two incense sticks are whirled in clockwise direction in front of the God. Then a lamp with three thiris is shown to the God – this is Deepam. Neividyam is done with the prasadam prepared, kept on a cross made by water in front of the deity. After the neividyam the deeparadanai is done with camphor. Finally two small lamps are kept over a plate filled with water, haldi and kumkum and an aarti is done.

This is followed by the husband tying a yellow thread around the right hand wrist of the wife and the wife taking his blessings. Haldi kumkum is then given to 3 brahmin women in the neighbourhood.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Hubs!!

Last two days have been Hubs’ birthday. Don’t be surprised, he wasn’t born twice. It was his date of birth on 20th and his birthday according to Hindu calendar (Start birthday) on 21st. To me, this meant being nice to him for 48 hours non-stop. Ah! How glad I was when I woke up this morning that I could resume finding faults at him. I didn’t wait a second to point at his wet towel on the bed with a frown on my face. How much I love my part time job of being a picky house-wife!!

On Monday, in order to celebrate his budday (and to help me keep my mind off the stupidities he does around the house) we decided on a trip to Wonder La. It was a last minute plan considering it only dawned on us on Sunday evening. Waking up in the morning was tough as we had a midnight cake cutting ceremony between the two of us and didn’t sleep before 2am. Soon I had called my Boss to say I am sick and we were ready to leave. I reminded him to remove all extra credit cards and cash from his wallet as I had read an
article about thefts in the Wonder La lockers. We were on the move around 9:30. We had a handsome 50kms to drive down.

10:55AM Entrance of Wonder La
Hubs and I are busy frolicking away, pulling fast ones at the security guards and the parking helpers at the park. We walk down to the counter to buy our tickets. “Do you accept debit cards?”, “Yes Sir. But you will have to wait 5 minutes as the sale of tickets only begins at 11:00”. Hubs is happy we reached before the park opened and we will have enough time for all the rides. He notices an SBI ATM near the entrance and decides to withdraw cash before the counters open. Standing in front of the ATM he pulls out the card from his wallet. The red card stares back at him reading ‘i-mint’. Hubs is almost going to faint. He frantically searches his wallet for his debit card but in vain. He runs through the cash to check if he has enough. It adds up to around Rs.550. One adult ticket at the park costs Rs.470. He feels like kicking himself, he throws the i-mint card away in deep frustration and looks at me desperately. I am both disappointed and amused at once. I can’t imagine we drove 50+ kms only to go back.

We walked back to the HelpDesk at the park and explained that we lost our wallet somewhere and asked if we can do an online transfer for the tickets. The guy at the counter looked concerned but helpless. Soon he called out to 2 other supervisors who had nothing to offer us but apologies. We continued kicking around the area for a while hoping we could get some help. Then as lightning strikes, it struck on Hubs that he had a friend working at Toyota, around 5 kms away from where we were.

Before I knew it, Hubs was calling Savan who just wouldn’t pick up his phone. He tried again and again before finally giving up. The dejection was apparent on his face. 30 seconds later, Savan was calling. He said he was on leave. However, a good friend and a great chap that he was, he volunteered to come down all the way from his home at Kengeri to give us the money and we shamelessly agreed. We didn’t have words to thank Savan when we finally met him and received the cash. We rushed back to the park only one hour after the park had opened.

The rest of the day was wonderful. We blessed Savan every now and then for the good time we were having. All the rides were exciting but, we enjoyed the Water Boomerang and the Tidal Waves the most. We returned home all tired and famished for sleep.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My World, My Contribution!

For sometime now there has been one side of me that I have been constantly killing. A voice that I have always tried to shut out but that which keeps coming back to me as if determined to make me relent.

When I was relatively new to Bangalore, and I moved into a home by myself, I was determined I was going to use my time constructively – for the construction of some child’s life. I was lucky that in my neighborhood there were not one, but many little ones who didn’t have a background that nurtured education. Within a few days after I moved in, I had a bunch of these angels visit my home regularly. Very soon my return from office would be accompanied by a ruckus of all of them screaming out ‘Aunty, Aunty, can I come now?’ They would throw appreciative glances at the things on my showcase; curiously pick up each and everything, every time enquiring details about the object that had caught their eye. In the beginning they would try to talk to me in broken English. (I didn’t understand Kannada then) We would have a nice time playing about in the house, singing, dancing, and each kid targeting jokes at the other. As time went by I started making them read out of books, write their lessons, and encouraged their talking to me in English, correcting their pronunciation and helping them with new words.

I would occasionally share with them sweets that mummy sent for me, sometimes I bought them chocolates. We played together, danced, sang and had a great time. We shared a wonderful bond.

However, this was short-lived as schedules at work started getting tougher and I was constantly fighting timelines. The ritual of meeting the kids became infrequent and gradually dwindled to never.

It has been over a year now, I miss those days. I keep reminiscing those times when I had set out to make a difference to the world that I share – however small my contribution had been. Off late, whenever the thought has crossed that I should do something to rekindle the good old days, I have brushed it away thinking that I am alone no longer and have a family now.

Today when I saw this mail from our company HR Dept. that a group is going to regularly visit an orphanage and anybody interested may join them, I got all kicked about the idea and decided I should atleast talk to Hubs about my this secret desire. The thought was so pressing that I couldn’t wait until evening to vent it out. Hence this post.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Solace at last

Last Monday I had a client interview which I got to know the previous Thursday. Everything happened like it usually does before an exam – I was nervous, I ate a lot while pouring my head over the books, no washing/cleaning, the smile from my face lost somewhere. In short - I quit living for the next three days. It took the whole of Thursday for me to decide what all I needed to study. By Friday morning, I had collected all the study material I was going to spend the next two day reading.

Through Friday, all I did at work was read, read and read. How much was I able to cram? -Nothing. Did I tell you I was too nervous to understand what I was reading?

I though I’d sleep early that night and resume cramming after I wake up fresh in the morning. But, I should have known myself better. No question of being fresh when all I did was watch nightmare after nightmare all through the night. The alarm went off at 5 and I was out of bed and with my books again.

Through Saturday I was hand-delivered all my meals by Hubs while all I did was study. By the end of Sunday and I was all tired of this study-study schedule. The house had stopped looking my own with things strewn all over the place. The sink was overflowing and the pile of unwashed clothes had starting competing with the Himalayas.

I was going back to bed this time more worried about my nightmares than my interview tomorrow. I knew exactly what was going to happen then. After repetitive visits to the washroom, I would finally end up at the meeting room. My hands would be cold and my mind, numb. My voice would shiver; my brain would reject every word closely related to a question. ‘I don’t know’ would be my favourite sentence for the next half hour and I would never dare attempt to relate the question with anything I have seen in the past.

With thoughts about tomorrow zooming through my head, I tried every way to calm myself down. Hubs was for no reason acting weird today. He wanted me to narrate a story – ‘our famous Girl Boy story’ which started at Masinagudi. A little irritated about his un-understanding behaviour, I started the tale. As I went on with it, I got further and further drawn into it. Off and on he kept reminding me of little particulars here and there. I sometimes accepted, sometimes objected, sometimes clarified, sometimes defended and hereby went on, and on… until I fell asleep. Next morning, I had been well-rested and refresh. I realized why he had been so stubborn on me narrating the story. It had worked!

The interview happened. Yes, I was sh*t nervous. My mind skipped many questions but managed to grasp some. However, I managed to clear it.

^^ our famous girl boy story is the story of how we met on a life-changing trip to Masinagudi and the proceedings of the outing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A spinster's end-of-the-road

On 15th May, I was on my way to the airport, heading to take a flight to Mumbai. The occassion was my marriage. Of the billion thoughts that passed my mind then, here is a miniscule:

"The next time I tread this path, I shall be a woman. In less than a week, I would be transformed...I shall no more be single. I will have a family of my own, I shall be secure, responsible and grown. I will be the person that was defined BIG in my childhood games. I would have arrived. This city which called me for my bread and butter, the city that belonged to others... it shall be mine now. And I will belong to it... forever and ever. I feel happy, I am excited. My heart is fluttering.... probably the joy of going to be with my family the last time before I am wed.... I am rejoicing, with tears in my eyes."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Love for Material

It was yet another Sunday morning…. probably the last one in this home. I yawned again but this time my head weighed heavy. I had a lot of stuff on my To-Do list and I had hardly begun. As I scanned through the stuff in the room wondering how I was going to fit it all into cartons, my mind wavered into the past.

“I like the house but I cannot afford that much advance, can you reduce it a little?” After a series of negotiations between the owner, broker and me, I finally settled into my little palace with a suitcase full of clothes and a duffle bag to hold toiletries and other trivia.

I had barely stepped in and I had to run down to buy a broom – the first thing I bought for my new house. That was just the beginning. Soon, Ishan and I were out on the streets, looking for the best offers available for me to set up my house. We started off with dusters, brushes, and mattresses; then moved on to items for the kitchen. Stuffing his car with all sorts of stuff, we went on to select my cupboard. I wonder where we got all the energy from… we traveled across the city only in search of the best deals. When we reached home at 9:00, we had a bill 3 feet long and two rooms filled with packages, bags, cartons, vessels, accessories, appliances and everything else you can think of.

Too tired to do anything, I went off to sleep leaving everything as it was. The next morning – a Sunday morning, the first in my house, I woke up to no tea or coffee. I hadn’t yet set up my gas stove. Nor did I have enough provisions to make myself breakfast. Today was going to be no easier than yesterday. I had to book my gas at the agency nearby. The cupboard was due for delivery and I needed to set the stuff to where was going to be their permanent location, thus making space for the cupboard. Ishan was kind enough to lend me his wooden chest which I could use for ironing and also stacking some of my clothes.

At the end of Day 2, I was sort of set for a living. I yet needed a lot of stuff like curtains, and other upholstery – but that could wait until the next weekend. As time went by, I kept adding a little this and that to my place and before I knew it, it was a full-fledged home with loads of my personal touch to it. It reminded of the verse “I love my house, I love my Nest; In all the world My Nest is Best!!” from my favourite book “The Best Nest” – ah!! Childhood memories :-)

Two years hence, this other Sunday, I again have no time to enjoy the morning sun, nor make coffee as my stove is given away. It is time to say good bye to my beloved. Not human, not living but mere brick and mortar. This home of mine has been my lucky charm, my constant support, well-wisher and friend. It has been witness to my laughter and cheer, and tears alike. It has been my partner in solitude, independence, strength and fear. In its shelter, I have seen life, learnt and grown.

This is the place that I can call my own. Even at 80 when I look back, the thought of this home will make me smile. It will enliven my youth - my freedom days. It will remind me of what I am and what I have the capability to be.

When I return the keys to its owner, I might not shed a tear. But my heart will take a thump as I move on to My New Home.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare...

Yawn!! It was a beautiful Sunday.... I tossed and turned in my bed, wrapped my body in the cozy blanket to brave the chill of the morning. I wanted to sleep for five minutes longer, so that I could see the end of the dream that was now broken. Even as my eyelids fluttered, I saw a yellow streak of light barge in through the gap between the curtains. How did the sun manage to wake up so early on a Sunday, was it never tired? Didn’t it ever party till late on a Saturday night? I shoved my childish thoughts away as I stretched each muscle of my body.

I lazily walked up to the kitchen sink where the vessels from last night’s dinner lay unwashed. I rinsed a saucepan and measured water for tea. As the water boiled, I watched. Bubbles formed on the surface, and the bubbles burst, each time letting out a gush of colorless, odorless vapor. I added the tea powder, intently watching the water change color… it turned orange, and then red, and then dark maroon before it was finally brown. I strained the concoction into a cup and observed it turn lighter as I added milk. I wondered, “How many colors have I seen since morning?”

Tea cup in hand with a pack of biscuits, I headed straight to the balcony. This was my favorite place on a Sunday morning when I had nothing else scheduled. As I approached my seat, I knew what I was going to spend the next hour doing. It was peaceful, it was bliss. I enjoyed this silence… my only propeller for waking up early on a Sunday morning. Occasionally, a bird chirped nearby, the sound of the wind a sort of accompaniment to it. The plants swayed from side to side, their flowers seemed to wave me good morning. I found myself smiling, being one with nature, enjoying every moment of this. I was joyous from within, I wanted to dance, I wanted to sing, I felt like gurgling with laughter with the innocence on a child. I threw my hands up and wide as if embracing everything that God had to offer me in his today… I felt life… This was the paradise that I so always wanted to live in. But I knew this was not here to last…

Slosh!! a car went by, splashing water from the puddle and smoke from its butt. Bow wow!!! I recognized the neighborhood dog as it chased the car. Along with this rose all the sounds of the earth. Somewhere an alarm went off, somewhere I could hear a kid wailing. Telephones were ringing, radios were playing, children were shrieking, people were shouting.

As I went back in into my room I couldn’t help thinking, “Was this paradise lost or was this paradise lost…” Contributing my bit to the noise around, I switched on my laptop to play some songs.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Smile...

The bus was bursting with people, their voices over the sound of the bus as it rambled along. The driver was playing a dual role of conductor as well. People were pushing, children were yelling. Mummies tried to calm their little ones, at the same time keep an eye on their luggage. Wonder where this bus was going.

Outside the bus, it was a different world. A long, winding road, lush green pastures on either side, a pleasant wind, trying to dry the rain-washed roads. This paradise was my destination. I had to alight, I needed to, I was desperately trying to… but in vain. For every step that I put forth, I was pushed back by two. I was screaming whispers into the noise.

At this moment, the bus halted. I paved my way through feet of different size and colour, even stepping on a few of them. As I reached the last step, I heaved a sigh of relief. Having succeeded in my venture, I decided to check what stopped the bus. I looked through the glass, a traffic police. He was looking straight at me as if checking if I was alright. As I moved ahead I turned back one last time, his eyes were yet stalled on me as I saw him alight. I was grateful to him, I smiled. He smiled back, a perfect set of 32 pearly whites, his twinkling eyes complimenting the cheer in his face. That was indeed the best smile I had ever seen.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Happy Full Stop to the Year contd...

Masinagudi Day II

Sunday morning, even when it was yet pitch dark, I decided to venture out of the resort. As I reached the gate, I found myself staring at 2 deer which were hardly 6 feet away from me. It seems they weren’t expecting me just like how I didn’t expect them. They scurried their way back into the forest as I walked back to the room to share my experience with others. At 6:30 we were all set to go on a trek. We were a group of 11 people and 2 guides. The initial phase was the same trail that Karthik and I had discovered the previous day. We crossed the waterfront and moved on to the other side. The guide said he could hear elephants on our path and hence we had to change our route a bit. The trail was getting tougher and the forest, denser. There were thorny shrubs at eye level, trees had marks of leopard claws, the ground cluttered from place to place with animal bones. But the best was yet to come. As we cautiously inched ahead, we saw this HUGE skull of a bison. I wished so much to bring back atleast a small bone but I didn’t want to against the wish of the guide.

As the slopes got steeper, my fear was getting the better of me. I needed help every few minutes. I started cursing myself on having started on this expedition despite knowing that I am scared of slopes. But just as I felt it was thankless to be there, we reached a waterfall. There was still water below as the waterfall was diverted by huge rocks. Our tour guide encouraged us to wade through the water to the rocks ahead saying the water was only knee-deep. Karthik and I were the first 2 to yield. We jubilantly pulled up our jeans upto our knees lest they get wet, and set foot into the water. The water was ice-cold and soon my legs went numb. As we moved forward, the water grew deeper. The water reached a little above my knees and I tried to balance myself on a wooden log under the water. And suddenly, Splash!! I fell from the log right into the water, drenched upto my waist. Thankfully Karthik was within reach and I gripped him for support. Our enthusiasm propelled Kishore and Hamsa who joined us into the water soon. We spent about quarter of an hour sitting on the rocks below the fall and then returned. After a short photo session, we moved on.

We continued further up to the peak of the hill. At one point the guide said that the climb would get steeper on ahead and people who were doubtful of their capabilities should stay back there. 10 out of 11 wanted to go further. Yes, you guessed right... I was the only one who wanted to stay behind. But again, Karthik wouldn’t let me stay. He persisted that I join them up and ensured that he would help me all the way up and down. The sight from above was lovely. We had a view of the entire ranges of Mudumalai. After a short halt on top, we returned back to the resort.

After a quick wash, we checked out of the resort and moved on to Bandipur. Post lunch, we went for another Safari. Here we weren’t any luckier, we only saw deer, deer and deer again. Some little mongoose and eagle here and there were like an incentive for having come so far. After the safari, our glorious trip was coming to a close; we were on our way back to Bangalore. Mostly everyone fell asleep in the car except for Karthik and me who didn’t waste a single minute. We went on and on and on talking non-stop such that we weren’t even bothered where we had reached.

Our chatter only ended when we reached Karthik’s house at 9:30. By the time I was home, it was past 10. No energy left in me, I directly hit the bed only to wake up to the alarm next morning. It was a trip that I didn’t look forward to before I went coz I didn’t know too many people who joined us. But it is definitely one of my most memorable ones after I returned.