Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nehru Park Delhi

We walked into a breathtaking expanse of lush grass. This is the most beautifully landscaped garden I have seen. It is a wonderful treat for the eyes and just as uplifting for the soul. Nehru Park is famed for Nehru Quotations, But naaa we didn’t see any. Must have missed them.
What we did see were interesting undulations causing an absorbing play of sun and shadow.
I get the feeling that it is perhaps reclaimed land. I learn later that it was designed in 1969. It was made this way.
Amazing


 
Interesting corners are made from a strategic layer of stones, rocks and plants.
Rows of splendid purple and contrasting light green, are surprised by a shock of bright yellow ….. leaves, stems and flowers


Nehru Park gets many visitors. Casual ones like us and committed daily joggers. We see many things but register a few. Here is what I registered.

 
  • Two young men and sooooo many dogs on their health walk. The large German Shepherd strode majestically while the little guys (miniscule hairy ones … what are they called?) scampered to keep pace. Oh! They looked so cute.
  • Couples entwined in a private world of bliss
  • Kids raced around hands stretched as aeroplanes, played cricket with a plastic ball and chased each other in rare freedom
  • Elite joggers in designer shorts did their health bit
  • Yoga postures
  • Deep breathing
  • Half-conversations on cell phones
  • Men in power and position with mandatory bodyguards in tow
  •  Squirrels  
  • Birds  
  • Flitting dragonflies


 
Nehru Park has been here since 1969, that makes it 41. The garden is very well maintained and the gardener in charge loves his plants. You must enter Nehru Park in your ‘Must Visit When in Delhi’ list. Located on the main Panchsheel Marg near in the posh Chanakyapuri Diplomatic Enclave the Nehru Park is easily accessible.

 

 

 

Masala Dosa

I serve dosa with bhindi sweet-sour gojju. And sometimes with brinjal-onion curry to the absolute amazement of my friends. A Masala Dosa should be made with potato-onion curry and chatni they tell me. That it is devoured with sambar in hotels is a totally different matter and a mind blowing puzzle. When I tell them...look this is how great inventions are made
They just laugh.
Einstein of Masala Dosa ... they jibe.
As I go around Delhi I get to see Masala Dosa on many a menu ... served with paneer, choley and even non-veg fillings!! Not that I would ever try Paneer masala dosa. I don't like paneer anyway. It's so bland!
20 years ago my friend wore kameez with cotton pants to work. She was at the receiving end of much laughter and a ticking off from her Princi. Today that's the most common dress seen in colleges.
Whether it is a matter of Masala Dosa or Beads in the hair or Camera in a spectacle-frame, someone has to be crazy enough to think of it!
I give a high-five to this article all in support of crazy thinkers.
read and enjoy
Seth Godin

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Hindi Couplet and a Ladder

A Doha is a couplet in Hindi. Couplets are fascinating. Just two lines convey a world of meaning. Read this one. The poet has changed just one word and the meaning of line two is the opposite of line one….just one word!!

And hey! If you know please can you tell me whose lines these are?

Paradhin ko hain nahi swabhiman sukh swapn.
Paradhin jo hain nahi swabhiman sukh swapn.
Paradhin means dependent, but here the word is used with contempt so it would mean clinging. Thus the couplet says
He, who clings, has no self-respect, happiness, hope.
He, who does not cling, has self-respect, happiness, hope

Neat … naa? Brevity is an art. English idioms are smart too. Idioms in a few words convey a paragraph of meaning
Is the Hindi Couplet telling us ... Look here! You want to go places? Carry your own ladder.
This man over the Yamuna Bridge seems to be doing just that!



Here are some idioms and gyaan from the ladder........enjoy!
You want to go places? Carry your own ladder.

That way the bottom of the ladder is always close by and you begin to climb when you are ready!
Just be sure to place the ladder at the correct wall.
After you have climbed up a rung or two, check if your ladder is leaning at the right wall.
Go on. Climb and reach the top of the ladder.
Do you like the view? Move into the garden of your choice. But hey don’t kick the ladder.
Are you wondering WHY! Surely you are smart! Don’t tell me you can’t even see the hole in the ladder? Well you should guess. You may want to climb into another garden. Keep that ladder safe, man!

Did you like it? I think you should try this one  Be Indian Be Fashionable

Monday, September 27, 2010

Endnote or Journey

As a kid I raced through my Enid Blytons and Agatha Christies eager to know what happens in the end of the journey. Then one day in Calcutta at Modern High (my Alma Mater) my teacher assigned us the task of writing a page summary of each chapter. The book she chose was Oliver Twist. (You can read it here online). I began the assignment with reluctance and was gradually hooked to the wit, the depth of description and the many lanes through which the great writer has us travel. I learnt to enjoy the journey.

Modern High - Calcutta

I recall this as we watch our favourite serial Balika Vadhu. As the concluding tune comes we debate on how it will all end. I want lunch on my table without my getting off this computer! The kudos without the hard work. The milestone without the trek. The focus is so strongly on the end that the journey becomes a pain to be endured.

When I tell you that last week my niece bagged a seat in a prestigious institute ... that is like getting the end of the serial without watching the precursors. It surely is more exciting to be a part of the anxious waiting process. Only we are so busy being anxious we forget to delight in the moments of the journey.

'Like I said, the journey is more fascinating'.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Richness

When the means are sufficient to satisfy the needs the man is rich. We are as rich as we think we are. We just need be rich in our thought. How ill equipped we are to judge wealth - that of ours and that of the others.



Silence speaks

Relationships are tricky things. Those that we love the most can cause the greatest joy and the greatest pain.

Poet WB Yeats lays bare his feelings for the girl of his dreams in this poem called  'He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven'. The poem holds within it the courage to express affection and the contrasting fear of hurt. I think this rose and thorn duality holds true for all relationships not necessarily only the romantic ones. The last two lines of the poem are often quoted and summarize the thought.


Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread upon my dreams.


In the Life of Pi by Yann Martel the young boy Pi is with his teacher in the zoo and suddenly he desperately wants to stop the conversation and the argument. Listen to Pi’s thoughts.

‘I said nothing. It wasn’t for fear of angering Mr. Kumar. I was more afraid that in a few words thrown out he may destroy something I loved.’




Saturday, September 25, 2010

These kids

are friends on a bridge. We met them when we had gone into the city to take pictures of the Yamuna. We saw them joking, laughing and having a whale of a time. They reminded us of the carefree chatter of friends in Sholay and Rangeela. A gentleman was clicking with a professional looking camera and the kids asked him in wonder 'Will this come on TV?'
'No' he said. 'No TV'.
They were disappointed, still they were happy to pose.
They say 8 out of 10 in India dream of appearing on TV or a film. How fond we are of being clicked!! Can you see the men in the background? They pose too!
We clicked while they were posing for that gentleman.



Friday, September 24, 2010

Sleep when the alarm rings!

Power Clean your house. Invest in a digital timer. At night after dinner, set the alarm for SEVEN Minutes. Yes...Just 7 minutes. Allot rooms. Pick up things on the floor, dust furniture, clear the dining table, organise your cupboard…well, you decide what you want to do today.

But…halt! Before you proceed further
Know you this
There is but one stipulation!
When the alarm rings you may not continue to
bust the dust. Be thou sure
to drop all work and to stand back

(Yaa…I have been watching Merchant of Venice)

In simple English and to the lazy delight of an unwilling body... stop and sleep when the alarm rings!!
You are not to drag on the cleaning process. Just seven minutes.....
Do this every night.
Sleep more peacefully.
Wake up feeling fresh.
Think with more clarity.
Feel immensely positive about yourself.

Dussehra is at the door! Happy season!

Attitude in everything

There are two ways of meeting with people.


Assume that every person you meet is terrible and selfish till proved otherwise.

Or

Assume that every person you meet is caring and generous till proved otherwise.



It’s just less stressful to live with the second option.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here we go...

Aaaah ... hmmm...nice breeze

Hmmm Did I forget something?



Got it! I'll be back in a moment


Just hang in there!! I am cominnnng


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You will find more

It has been raining like anything here in Delhi. But I can’t miss my walks. Yesterday it rained in the evening....right during my walk time. At half past six the rain reduced to a drizzle. Not to be outdone and at the risk of looking like an idiot I marshaled out with an umbrella. Guess what? Simi was there with her companion-with-two braids. The large lady from tower one was there too. The tall gentleman came with a cap on his head. Monica’s mother was there too clutching her walker.

Pick any passion.
Follow it.
You are sure to find many more as crazy as you!

The Delhi Metro

is convenient, dependable and clean. Like all things that are so well qualified it is high in demand and always crowded. But that day I was lucky.

I reach the clerk behind the transparent wall and bend low to speak into the round hole cut away from the screen. Two tickets, Noida sector 18 I say handing over 3 notes of ten rupees. Noida-sector-attara-keliye-do-parchi-chaar-rupay-hongey? He asks me in one breath. It costs 24 and he wants me to give him change. Ok. I forage in my purse and oblige. Two plastic discs are passed into the depression below the screen. I pick up the trophies and like a giggling teenager make my way to the platform.

The mandatory security checks are endured and we approach the magic gate that reads the plastic disc. You stand too close and some ray is obstructed and the gate maintains a stoic silence. You move back and try again. The gate beeps in recognition and gives a toothless grin allowing you to pass through. The moving stair takes you to the platform. NOIDA CITY CENTRE 0.02. Red lights gleam at you assuring you of the arrival of the metro train. Soon enough the train streams in and stops exactly where they say it will. The doors slide open and streams of relieved passengers get on and get off. We get in too.

Not many people today. I clutch at the steel pole and brace myself for a jerky full speed departure. I hear the lady’s mono tone- Mayur Vihar Extension, doors will open on the right, please mind the gap…

A man in his twenties grabs my attention. Please sit down madam, he says, surrendering his place to me. My instinctive reaction is no. I don’t need to sit. I shake my hand in a communicative gesture. Go sit, my husband nudges. Ok. I say. And accept the courtesy. The man who gave me his place is travelling to the last stop, while I will be getting off much sooner. He stands for 30 minutes. A price he pays for being nice while I enjoy the short ride and get off in 10. I did not need to sit. Perhaps he needed it more.

Age and sex give us advantages that we use at will.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Death of a Mosquito

mmmmmnnn.....mmmnn.....mmmmmmmmnnnnn......................................thuuttth
A mosquito lands on my wrist. It has been singing into my ear and troubling me for a long time now. I wait, carefully swing my other hand and whack the mosquito is dead. But yesterday when a fly buzzed in I tried to shoo it away. With a large magazine I guided it so that it flew off into the balcony and to freedom - of both the fly and mine.
As a Hindu I believe that every living thing has a soul. The tree has as much right to life as me. I can see a Ganesha even in an advantageously aligned stone.
The fly was allowed life while the mosquito was killed.
I begin to doubt my peace loving nature. Does violence or abstention have more to do with the inconvenience of the dismal remains?
We are kind and loving for that is more convenient. We hold our tongue when violence can result in harmful debris. Can we hold our tongue even when we know that the debris is not too inconvenient?
That is the true test of non-violent thinking.

Bengali Market

A km from Connaught Place is the Bengali market. It was built in the 1930 by Bengali Mal Lohia. I simply adore shopping here. The place reminds me of Bangalore. Some 30 shops gaze into a spacious quaint circle that lies at the meeting place of 4 roads. The market is neat and welcoming. The shopkeepers are courteous and shoppers who frequent the place are soft spoken and well mannered. One peculiarity I notice. There is two of everything here!


Flower corners, vegetable and fruit shops, bakeries, snack corners, stationery and booksellers, drycleaners, gift shops and high quality photo studios…… two shops of each kind!

We frequent the Bengali sweet house. You get non-Bengali stuff here too! We relish their rosogullas and sometimes indulge in a yummy chocolate pastry called rum ball in the air-conditioned comfort of their bakery section. The larger seating area is more popular where families huddle under fans and lipsmack pao-bhajis and golgappas and fruit shake …. Place for Delhi street food.

The narrow vegetable shop has super fresh veggies and fruits, common and exotic, all stacked efficiently in wall mounted shelves. The owner occupies most of the entrance and I squeeze past him into the store. I find stylish-packed dry berries (that my mom never allowed me to eat) and strange looking fruits that I mistake for small potatoes! Chotu helps me load veggies and fruits into a plastic tray and then he weighs them. With neither calculator nor computing machines the owner efficiently calculates for amounts I have chosen to load…..250g, 300g or even 850g. Chotu parcels them into suitable bags and carries them to the car for me……oooh! What luxury.

He waits patiently as the car crawls into a space in front of us. He plonks the bags into the empty front seat. Namaste he says as he withdraws his head and hand. Have a good day he says. He shuts the door and walks away.
Thank you I say and smile at him nicely. What a good boy.
The car revs into the main road.
I hit my head in dismay……..I should have tipped him. Aaah! How could I be so gross??

Friday, September 17, 2010

Being on top

They had told us that we need to make a beginning. The only way to reach the top is to start. So we took the first step and joined the line. The line of other dreamers who wanted to reach the top.
With determination we stayed at it, we plodded on. Let me tell you the truth, we were just that much away from quitting when we found ourselves taking one more step forward.
Aaaah! nothing like a push to take you to the top. It feels lovely when an unseen hand shoves you sometimes gently and sometimes harshly jerking you towards that view from the top.
Wise men tell us that it is difficult to reach the top and more so is staying at the top.
How right they are. I feel shaky here and queasy too. Little men with little feet stand on the firm ground. They stand there and look up and wish they were in my place. Do I wish I was in theirs?
Wooo the plunge downward is mighty. A mighty rise has a mighty fall. So true. But the wheel goes on. Every rise has a fall and every fall has a rise. We are strapped firmly to our bearings and that gives us confidence.
Whew, we are soon out of the Giant Wheel making our wobbly way towards the next ride at the amusement park.
eh
what did you think?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Heart or Head?


There is a large tree right in front of my house shedding copious amount of leaves. I need to sweep my yard twice a day! I have decided to have the tree chopped. But the tree is green and healthy. So now there is a conflict between the heart and the head. Who do you listen to? Given that either action will bring both joy and pain, which way do you go?


An article in the TOI today differentiates between cleverness and wisdom. Marguerite Theophil tells us that cleverness is satisfied with short term gains; wisdom acts from a wider perspective.

When decision is based on cleverness we are essentially thinking of that context as distinct from other aspects of our life. We need to be clever to fix a tyre, to open the can and to draft an agreement. Cleverness deals with result oriented daily activity. It brings us material and technological progress. Cleverness works for the good of the individual. It is selfish.

Wisdom deals with life itself. Wisdom is in knowing what the correct thing to do is. It is the basic core to our existence. It forms our values and priorities. Wisdom is born of past experiences, inherited knowledge and imbibed culture. But at the same time it respects new information and assimilates new perspectives into what is already within. Since all life on earth is inter dependent. Wisdom means good for all.
Wisdom tells us whether we must fix that tyre, open that can, or draft that agreement.

Let us look at some popular instances for the use of the term.
• The Supreme Court would not like to interfere with the policy decision taken by the Legislature in its wisdom.
• Parents in their wisdom decided to send the child to Play School.
• The coach in his wisdom decided to rest his best player.

What is the implied meaning?
Here the intentions of the counsel, the parent and the coach are above reproach and are believed to be most honourable and for the good of all. The language or action used to convey the decision requires skill and cleverness. But even the court of law looks at the wisdom and intention and not at the cleverness of wording or action. So it is best that decision is left to wisdom and not intellect.
That answers the question - Who do you listen to – posed at the start of this blog.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Award winning photo ops

You lock your palm with thumb and finger in an L position and bring the two hands together mimicking a camera. Say click and the picture is captured. Isn’t that cool?

I would have loved something like that on my car drive to Mathura. There were so many things to click. But the car moves fast and we leave the scene before I can get my camera ready and shoot.
But if I could I would have pasted these pictures here for you.

Tell me which one you like the best.

7-40 am
A self respecting cobbler squatting on a dirty mat spread on the pavement is carefully arranging his work wares. His little son all of five helps him along by offering them to him one by one.

8-10 am
A loaded vegetable cart wrapped in blue plastic sheet glistening in the slight drizzle and tied down with yellow plastic wire

9-02 am
Yellow and orange marigold garlands arranged on the handle bar of an ancient bicycle transforming it into something wonderfully spectacular

9-40 am
A lady riding a scooter has a small pink clip that holds part of her wavy hair leaving the rest to flow free like her spirit.

10-12 am
Maintenance man on scooter with his duty sheet book tucked into his broad belt the pages flapping in the wind on his thin behind.

10-23 am
Seven labourers walking to work swinging shiny steel tiffin carriers

11-30 am
Sunlight pouring over women in colourful nylon sarees with pallus draped over their heads sitting atop a slow moving tractor.

12-02
The behind of a lorry has the caption: My name is Khan, Shamsher Khan.

Tell me which one you like the best.

Hand wash and Culture

Is culture only about what you eat and how you pray? Cross culture marriages and inter state transfers are constantly changing food habits, body language and worship. Our elders repent that we have gone astray and that we are relinquishing our culture.

But culture is more than food and worship. It is about how you lead your daily life. Do you wash your hands before eating? Do you allow others to complete what they want to say without interrupting? Do you tell white lies to avoid confrontations? Do you talk loudly over the phone? Do you treat your employees with respect? Are you as courteous to your family as you are to your colleagues? Where do you drop spent counterfoils?

Now that is your culture. Little things you habitually do or fail to do define your culture.

Every man makes his own culture.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A warm cup, wise words

We stopped to catch our breath at a tea at a shop in Mussoorie. The wizened old man who runs the shop encouraged me to try Kawa a local brew of tea and dry fruits. He pulled up a chair close to us and in a rasping whisper gave us words of wisdom.

Go on! You bring your cup of tea, and eavesdrop.
The wind moves the clouds and need moves mankind. Need for fame and money are as legitimate as need for respect and reputation. The quality of action depends on the quality of need. I am here to make tea and you are here to sip it as both actions satisfy our individual needs. Till the need is there we remain, when the need is satisfied we both will move on.

Fear and Love

are strong motivators. Fear takes us to work on time, makes us complete tasks, ensures that we are well prepared, sends us to the gym and gets us up on Monday morning. Love could do the same too.

We can live our life in fear and every action of ours is a result of apprehension of failure or rebuke. Then life is a stern headmaster with a harsh cane. We think … ‘If I don’t do it, he will skin me’ … and we do the needful. Such life is burdensome and tiring. It is immensely stressful to live life as a victim. Fear is a deterrent. It stops you from doing what you want to do.

We can live a life of intension. We wake up in the morning with a smile and prayer and a spring in our step, our day is made. When we appreciate the task on hand, respect the people around us and enjoy the food we eat, life is wonderful. Love is a stimulus. It pushes you towards what you want to do.

The choice is ours. The room needs to be swept, the mail’s got to be sent or the agenda has to be sorted out. Task on hand needs be done. What attitude you bring to the task, depends on how you view yourself and life. Have a liberating experience.

Are there circumstances you do not like? You think you deserve better? Surprise yourself. Write down on a note paper exactly what you want. Shed your perception of yourself as a victim. Think of the life you like to lead. Think of things that will make you happy. And there! That life just happens. Those things arrive!

Believe me I have tried it and it works. Love is a better motivator. It makes things happen.

This one is about emotion and our control over emotion.