Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Child again in Solang Valley

About my second childhood
That is a gift that nature gave us on 23rd March.

At 10 in the morning with (hold your breath!) apple juice, buttered bread, cornflakes, parathas and coffee in the right place, wearing the warmest clothes we had with us, my husband and I settled into the allotted car. After a twenty minute drive we stopped at a shack that rents out snow gear. For 1600/- we get skis, snow wear and a guide. We settled for snow clothes-boots-gloves and doled out 700/- for a pair.
Soon we began to see dirty white stuff piled by the road, behind walls and between trees. It suddenly dawned on us…that it is frozen snow!

The car swerved into a curve and screeched to a halt. ‘You get off here and climb to the snow point’. He said. ‘You take mules, or bikes. It’s quite far!’
A fifteen minute climb does not seem so daunting. We have the entire day. Armed with a hard tree branch for a stick (cost us 10/- rupees) we climb up the steep slopes. The stick is a real blessing. Mule dung gives our snow shoes a non-slippery warm footing. And we reach the top. We are in Solang Valley.

Solang Valley

I really did not expect this large expanse of snow. It’s like we see in calendar pictures. White gleaming peaks, dark green pines, untouched snow and paragliding in the blue sky. The age group ranges from 7 months to 70 years! Everyone has their share of frolic.

For what we did there on the white playground, wait for tomorrow's blog!
Five hours later it's time to head back. My knees are screaming. I can’t climb down 200 feet to reach the car. But hey! We make one phone call and learn that the car is within 10 feet of the snowy playground. The stop at the base was to make possible business for the mules and bikes! We dint fall for that did we? The climb was pretty enjoyable too…dung and all!

mules at solang valley
 This is how I looked !

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

hysteria - march-world cup

Today we are
breathing cricket
eating cricket
and living cricket.
though I am not a real big fan or anything like that
I am blown away with all the fervour
so I will be glued to TV too
and watch the India Pakistan World cup semi finals.

the kashmiris are holding prayers for an India win
in chennai homa is performed
astrologers are looking at stars and making forecasts
when fans sit in a position and find that runs are coming
they will not move...even to go to the loo!!

I can hear Dhoni on TV answering some questions
wow...this is big

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sundays and Otherdays

We feast our eyes on them all
And love each view

the cold and distant
 The cold and the distant

bare it all

The bare it alls

dashing reachouts
 The dashing reach outs

coy, leave me alones
 The coy leave me alones

strong and patient
 The strong and patient

Yet when it comes to people
We take it so personally
trying to place all into a mould of our choice
and say
you should
you must
how could you...
if only we would
feast our eyes on them all
and love each view.

The power to be and the love to let be

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Beas in Manali

The Bidigey Chandra (day 2 after full moon) travels with me as I nestle my head into the hard back of the Volvo for a 4 day tour of Manali. We have booked a package tour through Himachal Pradesh Tourism.
I am trying to find a sweet spot and fall asleep. The drive is smooth and I slip into disturbed slumber.

It is about 4 in the morning. a harsh honk jerks me awake. I lazily glance out of the window and am blown out of my senses. The silver of the bright moon makes shimmering lines across a gentle river. The view is breathtaking. This is a dream scene. Gleaming water bends and tapers into mountains. Ranges of the Himalayas fade from sight in layers. Pebbles and rocks sparkle like gems discarded in playful abandon. An ancient narrow bridge spans across the river.
Is this really true?
Am I really seeing this?
I commit the scene to memory and lock it away for need based recall. My camera is in the suitcase  :(

the river in moonlight?
 Here is what it almost looked like! A day image modified...!!

Day 1
We travel by car around Manali. The river meanders through the city. We catch many amazing glimpses of it. Finally at 4 in the evening we climb down 50 steep steps to reach the river bed.

rocky river bed of Beas

Day 3
We drive to Manikaran in Kullu valley to see the hot springs. On the way White water river rafting hoardings entice us. We make a halt. An awesome spot where the waters surge through boulders, tumble over rocks and glide over pebbles. We do not raft for we have no change of clothes. We enjoy the excited screams of rafters. The busy waters. The energy and the calm.

white water rafting
I chatter over stony ways, in little sharps and trebles
I bubble into eddying bays, I babble on the pebbles

(These lines in the caption are from Alfred Tennyson's Brook)
Oooh. The water is freezing. The Beas originates from the melting snows of the Himalayas. The crystal clear water, the slippery pebbles and smooth rocks, the clear river bed and the patient mountains leave us enchanted.

Beas in Himachal Pradesh

I recall counting off on my unfolding fingers the names Ravi, Beas, Sutluj etc the five rivers that give Punjab its name. I was in a school in Madras (Chennai) then. And the strange names evoked a sense of wonder. I hoped then that I would one day see these rivers.

My feet play with the waters of the whispering, gurgling, tumbling, skipping Beas.

River cities are fascinating

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Hand to Hold

We get into the bus that is to take us to Manali. Young couples move around us hand-in-hand. When the driver warns us with a deep honk they hold tight even while finding their seats in the Volvo! Bright sindoor at hair parting, dozens of bangles resting on their wrists and ready giggles give away their new found status.

A hand squeeze, a finger held tight, a tune tapped into a palm, are silent conversations that tell much more than a dictionary of words.
I trust you, I live by you, say these stolen movements.

a hand to hold

A kid or two later hand-holding is more
to restrain the energetic toddler from wandering away into some corner of the mall especially the expensive kid-toy sections)
to save the toddler from dangerous edges and slippery pools
to together jump a squealing kid across a puddle
to lead the child to happy happenings

decade later
it is more about shaking hands than holding them. It’s more about chasing success and money making and reinventing the proverbial bubble. A time when often it is a friend's hand we hold in pain or in comfort.
(A teenager’s hand holding is a big No No! He would rather die than be seen holding his mom’s hand! But hey! A pat on the back, a ruffle of hair, a warm smile, yes that’s welcome.)

And the season begins
when the kids have flown to make their own nests. Age catches up and there is more hand holding! This time it’s more about…
look where you are going, oops I missed a step, o watch out, hey see this

And silent conversations happen again.

hold a hand - it helps

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thank you God for the food we eat

Thankyou god for the world so sweet
Thankyou god for the birds that sing
Thankyou god for every thing.

My daughters studied at a missionary school. They said this prayer as fervently as only small children can. They sang this at school.  And after they came home they played school-school and taught the song to the array of books-dolls-trucks (read that as ... students)
but let me tell you why I think of that prayer today
and yehhh.....Hey !
I am back. It's so good to be talking to you again. I really missed you these 4 days.
But we had an amazing time in Manali. This hill station in Himachal Pradesh is a feast for the eyes. Called the Green Valley it is surrounded by tall pine forests and majestic snow capped mountains.
there is lots I will be blogging about.
But first a vote of thanks
I am filled with a sense of gratitude
that we make this trip together,
that we enjoy the ability to do this,
that we see nature in its winter glory,
that we see spring marching in,
that we locate a most hospitable hotel to stay in,
that we get tourist friendly drivers to take us around
that we make friends with couples just beginning their life together,
that we have Google and blogging and
that I have internet access so I can share this with you all.
and many thanks to you guys for saying wonderfully kind things to me to make me write more.
love you guys.
you rock.

(er I got that right na? You Rock andrey you throw rock antha alla thaney??)

I kind of liked my previous post...but che, you never told me 'good'

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jaane kahan mera jigar gaya ji

abhi abhi yahin thaa, kidhar gaya ji?
Have you heard this most romantic song by OP Nayyar, that plays, laughs and teases?

The scene is a sedate office with books and files and tables
This young man (Jonny Walker) is looking for his lost heart
and his girl, Cuckoo asks him where he saw it last!
reprimands him for bringing it along
and hunt under the tables and chairs for it!
he wonders if she has not by any chance stolen it
by her large eyes and pleasing face
and he is willing to pay her two four-anna bits to have it back!
the banter and teasing go on for 3 minutes
bringing a smile to anyone who listens in to their happy chatter
and understands!

here is a YouTube link

Tell me
Do we LAUGH because we are HAPPY
Are we HAPPY because we LAUGH?

arrey yaar........ show me your gums
We are off on a Conducted tour! We explore Manali. I will be back with many stories on 26th.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lotsa Color

festival of colours

I can hear the kids of my apartment shouting and throwing colour
I can hear families bursting into sudden binges of laughter
I can smell mixed aromas wafting from busy kitchens
I can see the leaflet from Nathu's from which I will order lunch!

This Holi I have a prayer
Let there be more laughter and fun in our life.
Let us take ourselves less seriously
Let us just love.
Let us see behind all that gary colour,
And find the person we cherish.

I only splashed virtual colour on virtual paper.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lessons in Forgetting - Anita Nair

Lessons in Forgetting
Anita Nair

This is a book I will not forget in a hurry.

Lessons in Forgetting
by Anita Nair

This was my first Anita Nair and I am craving for more. I plan to borrow all her books from bookmeabook. And maybe buy one or two too.
This story weaves around 4 women caught in the net of memories. There are many conversations, wistful dreaming, harsh realities and wonderfully Indian similes.
The descriptions bring alive the flavours and ambience till you can actually smell the overgrown garden and the coffee from the coffee cups.
A definite must read.
It captures the magic of India and all its complexities without being apologetic or clumsy.
Just loved it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A video on the net

About a video on the net
and all the noise and fun it created

The world has shrunk.
we hear this being said so-o-o-o often
that when someone tells me I tell them
yah sure
just join me
on an auto ride to Malleswaram from Jayanagar
or drive to
Gurgaon from Mayur Vihar at 9 in the morning
but cheeky asides apart the internet finds
the needle in a haystack
the mustard seed in ten kilos of rava
the lemon seed in a mound of lemon rice
the four leaf clover in the mile of grass

want some fun?
want to raise your eyebrows in amazement?
want to peep into the amazing small world?
Just enjoy by clicking here
See All Three Videos
Dont miss OK?

I got this link from Beth. My Blogger friend.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My heart on my sleeve

I'm TReee

I want to hug you and hold you tight
I want to feel you pushing against me, struggling to escape
I want to make your favourite dishes
I want to tickle you and hear you laugh
I want to hunt around and find you behind the curtain
I want to give you gift wrapped parcels
I want to dress you up in T-Shirts with cars on them

Today, my dear grandson, is your birthday
{I know its still previous night for you in the US where you stay}
I will make rice-kheer, akki-payasa, (your favourite) and share it with your Tata
and we will send you wishes and hugs and kisses on phone

Big BOY.

Happy Birthday

My heart on my sleeve

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Akki Rotti in my Kitchen

About relationships

Akki rotti is an all time favourite with everyone at home (except Achu). Mix some rice flour, finely cut onion, grated coconut, green chillies and jeera and water. Add salt. and yeah! the batter is ready. The trick is to get the consistency right.

akki rotti batter consistency
Leave it to rest for twenty minutes. Then get the tava hot enough for you to be able to spread the batter in a thin layer.

spread batter in a thin layer
Be generous with a spoon of oil. Cover and cook.

And the akki rotti sends a warning...chhoooinn...! Crisp, hot akki rotti is ready. I enjoy my akki rotti with chatnipudi and thuppa (ghee). But you could try it with gojju, pickle, or curd.... it tastes just as good.

akki rotti

While making the akki rotti I was thinking... If you don't get close enough to the tava, if you are scared of the heat, you get an akki rotti, but a fat one. .. soft and not very tasty. Yah, thaaat fills the stomach too.

But if you dare to get close enough, well, there is the fear that you might just singe the tip of a finger, but then you might not, but you are sure TO GET SOMETHING GOOD.

Aren't relationshps like that too?
Sometimes you may get a singe, but if you don't get close enough, you hardly have one.


An Earthquake and Tsunami

My heart goes out to the people in Japan
to the devastation brought on by Nature's fury
to the many people who lost homes and family
to the accumulated debris which by itself is a major problem
to their extreme courage
to their patient queueing up to collect necessities
to the lesson in human behaviour that they show the world
to the little babies and their mute acceptance
and to people around the world who have loved ones working there.

Japan will rise to become a role model in endeavour yet again?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A temple experience

About words that slip out

Uttara Guruvayurappan temple is a serene and peaceful temple in Mayur Vihar, Delhi. Red tiled roofs slope towards ornate entrances; a thousand oil wick lamps line the walls; strings of yellow chrysanthemums or fragrant jasmines hang from the lintels; brass pots polished to golden perfection adorn the courtyard; cool stones make the perambulation round the temple a pleasurable experience;

Uttara Guruvayurappan Temple, Delhi

There is a welcome and easy silence. If there is something to be said, it is whispered into receptive ears.

We take a slow paced walk round the temple stopping at various places. Two teenaged giggly girls are  paces behind us. With suppressed eagerness they remain as quiet as they can.

We wait for the temple doors to open. A brief interlude while the Lord is being fed.

At 8:15 the doors open wide and we file in, men to the left and women to the right. Special temple music with drums and chanting is offered to the Lord. A tiered aarati is lit and Lord Krishna is seen in the glow of the dancing flame.

The girls behind me are overcome with emotion. They ooh and aah through every ritual. Perhaps this is their first visit to a South Indian temple?

‘What is he going to do now?’ whispers a girl. She sees the purohit crouching out of the small sanctum door. ‘Wait let's see’ another whisper.

The purohit takes a fistful of sacred water and splashes it towards the men. He does that again and again. The girls are disappointed. ‘Oh! It is only for the men’ one whispers in dismay.
When all the men are blessed the purohit takes another fistful of sacred water and splashes it on the women. We knew it was coming. Obviously the girls didn’t.

They received the much awaited splash of cold sacred perfumed water, and in shocked surprise exclaimed loudly ...




I am sure they didn't mean what they said!
Habitual thinking, habitual talking and mannerism...
Take us where we do not want to go

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Using the navigator

Achu suggests a hotel we can have lunch in. She has heard of it from her colleague. We only know the name and locality. How do we go there??
The navigation tool in my Nokia fascinates me. The road map is there for me to see. A red arrow tells me where I am. A highlighted blue path shows me where I need to go next.
Oops! The driver takes a wrong turn ... he had a different hotel in mind!
oh no! we tell him. THIS is the place we want to go to...
but not to worry...(and this bit is very interesting)
the map rearranges itself
and again a new route is displayed. Again a new path is highlighted in blue to show me how to reach the hotel of my choice.

There is a catch though. I need to type in a place. My cell phone asks me ... To? I cannot ignore that question. The navigation tool works only when the 'TO' is specified.

How many of us bother to equip our children with the capacity to set a goal? How many of us teach them to enter this detail,
Where do you want to go?

Most of the time the parent has set the goal for the child. Engineering degree? Business? Hotelier? Government job? Marriage? But does the child accept this goal? Has the child too set a goal? Quite often the child has not learnt the art of setting the destination. Obviously navigation tools cannot work here...
In that case
the car of his life just turns at the next best turn and goes where whim takes it
and the car may reach a destination that is not too welcome
or the car may land in a place that is most pleasant
Like Nokia has, we too as parents must hand over a navigation tool to our children, empowering them to enter

Navigation is an important tool in life. A navigation tool helps us go where we want to go.
Making a weekly target, a monthly target and annual targets is a good thing. The child may or may not achieve them all. Still you have empowered him/her with the tool of goal setting. He will be able to use the compass when required.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's not about the Bike - Lance Armstrong

Suji’s mom and my BIL’s MIL Janaki, make awesome kodbaleys. A kodbaley is a crisp, spicy, deep fried ring made from rice flour - maida - rava. A plate of kodbaleys and a cup of steaming coffee is excitement. The spicy bite and the steaming cuppa trigger conversation, memories, and plans.

I bite into a spicy crisp kodbale, sip at the steaming coffee and go into hiccups. When I sit with coffee and kodbaley I know what’s coming. But this is a pain I seek! I am happy to go crunch-sloorp-hic-crunch-sloorp-hic!

coffee with kodbaley
 We go on long treks, move to different cities, sign up for courses, scratch our heads at blank pages, or climb the Himalayas. Our well-wishers ask in perplexed anxiety
Ayyyo, why are you troubling yourself so much?
We have no answer

Lance Armstrong has a wonderful line in his book ‘It is not about the bike’. The book is about his passion for the bicycle, his determined entry into race-biking, his tryst with cancer, the difficult days of recovery and his systematic come back and finally success at Tour de France. The book is a must read – for it fills you with hope and resolve and joy.
There is this person who asks Lance what pleasure he derived from such strenuous and lengthy cycling. Lance writes, ‘Pleasure? I asked. I didn’t understand the question. I didn’t do it for pleasure, I did it for pain’.

Let us seek our pains with pride. We do not need to make excuses and or find reasons to support our wild endeavors. It’s quite OK to find pleasure in a pain! … aaahn as long as the pain we seek is our own!

I like this book:
Lance Armstrong
It’s not about the bike
My journey back to life

Friday, March 11, 2011

Only thought, no title

About a search for identity

Where is my home, here or there?
My aunt Rajalakshmi, (who my niece Vibha has renamed Puttajji) over a cup of coffee and kodbaley quotes this line in Kannada:
Alli idey nanna maney,
Illi ideeni summaney.
These lines are by Kuvempu, a noted Kannada writer, thinker and poet.

I can roughly translate that to:
My house is there, elsewhere
I am here, but simply, just like that.
The lines are deeply philosophical. The poet refers to life on earth and the yearning for the Supreme Soul.

Rangoli at the doorstep, are you inside or outside?
 The quote sets me thinking.

Bangalore has nurtured me through hectic college days, turbulent joint family days, blurry kids' school days, effervescent daughters in college days and radiant oh! they’re getting married days.
In Delhi we are living out the excitement of a second innings in a new city.
But today I am on a visit to Bangalore. I am a guest in my uncle’s house.

I wonder
Yelli idey nanna maney, yelli ideeni summane?
Where is my real home, and where am I just visiting?

My house with all its things, my kitchen and its familiar aromas are in Delhi.
My heart with all its tugs and pulls, with all its hopes and disappointments is in Bangalore.
Yelli idey nanna maney,
Yelli ideeni summane?
Which is my real home?
And which place am I just visiting?

I conclude
My home is, where I am. Only the present exists. Only the NOW is true. The rest is merely in the mind.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

jopana...kagada bari!!

Two small suitcases, a cabin bag and a camera
all packed and ready
I am off to bangalore. It means for me
no cooking
lots of dressing up
lots of going out
a wedding to attend
meeting people
looking at bangalore with a new eye!
I will see you all on my next blog on 10th.
be safe
have lots of sunshine
and laughter

pink in the air

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Fun is in the Planning

About something that did not happen

Yesterday ...
we are planning for a much awaited visit by an Uncle and Aunt. Chanchu and Viju are to stay with us for a week. There is much to discuss about
what to cook
what to display
what to buy
where to go
lists are made (This is an obsession...I just love making lists)
sheets are washed, pressed and readied
special crockery is taken out
ultra fine dusting is arranged
new covers adorn tables
and I get a phone call ....Oh! It's my Uncle. Asking about the airport pick-up no doubt.
err Ratna...I have something to tell you
Your Aunt has had a bad fall. Her wrist is fractured. They have put a plaster. She is in no mood to travel. So...we will not come this time.
Do I feel sorry for her?
Do I feel sorry for us?
My feelings are mixed.
I was so looking forward to having them here...
This is like a chocobar that has fallen off the stick
This is like the hydrogen balloon that has escaped from a kid's fist
This is like a book with the last pages missing

I know I am being selfish. Thinking of myself while my Aunt is in pain. O..but I am disappointed.

Well...some other time?

red fort

Friday, March 4, 2011

Repacking your Bags

Repacking your Bags

by Richard J Leider and David A Shapiro

The book is a self-help self-improvement book. Throwing light upon the excess baggage that most of us burden ours lives with. The authors help us to lighten the load. It deals with the overflowing amount of physical baggage we accumulate over time. It also sheds light on un-necessary worries and doubts that cloud the mind. Divided into chapters the book guides us in easy steps towards a life that is more spontaneous and less painful. 

My empty jute bag
 To tell you the truth I approached this book as O no, yet another attempt to improve me! The book is a little tedious. And not very easy to read. But I did find some fabulous tips. I particularly liked these ...

• A vacation from words (we use about 5000 in a day!) – a day of silence would calm the mind and allow flow of refreshing thoughts.

• Traveling together is a wonderful way to get to know each other. Faults and foibles get magnified.

• Questions on pages 45 and 46 offer a flash of insight into what makes you, YOU.

It definitely makes us take a relook at our attitude to life and changes what we spend a lot of thought on.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

How to get RID of Cockroaches

About the magic of finding solutions

Chilling scams, Hot Hollywood babes, Saucy political comments, Juicy film gossip, Sweet Sales info, Crisp trade analysis, Cool gadget gyan, disasters that Shock and editorials that Tease…
We love our newspapers. Don’t we?

Cockroaches like newspapers too! No … Not for all the above reasons but for the printing ink. Slurrrp!

Nauseating sprays, rangoli patterns with special chalk, tablets in strategic places are futile if you spread out a sumptuous dinner on every shelf. The newspaper sheet you line your shelf with is sumptuous dinner for the cockroach.

No newspapers line kitchen shelves and hey, the cockroaches disappear.
No magic here. Actually they just stop coming. No food no visit.

Most often we entangle ourselves with symptoms. Just remove the cause and symptoms go away … like magic. Getting to the cause…yes, that is magic.

Now performing thaaat a habit we can adopt?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Terrace in Lake Terrace

About the colour of thoughts

We stayed at Lake Terrace at this house on the second floor in Calcutta. The house was divided into the seating, dining, kitchen, wash area and the bedroom, balcony area. The two areas were connected by a long and over used corridor. I later learnt to great alarm that this corridor was actually just some planks with false cement flooring!

I remember fondly the balcony.

Coloured by thoughts

The balcony was a large one, open to the sky. So technically it was a terrace.
Two taut strings were tied on one side, hidden from the road. I don’t remember ever seeing clothes put up here though! Perhaps the clothes were washed, hung to dry and folded away while we were at school?

This place gave me the freedom to wander into my dreamland. It was a place I escaped to when my marks were low; a place that helped iron out social stresses. Here I dissolved into an Enid Blyton,  Agatha Christie or later Harold Robins.

The terrace was on the second floor. I gazed upon the streets below and observed the world go by unobserved by it. And I liked that.

Our house was the only one with NO WATER PROBLEM. During the Holi festival my cousins, friends and I freaked out on the terrace in uninterrupted water-play. We filled pichkaries spraying each other with coloured water, smeared horrendous powders on each other and became absolutely unrecognizable.

In summer the terrace was flooded with scorching sunlight. Just what women want to make papads and sandiges. Small lumps of spiced aralu are left in the sun to dry and are later deep fried into tasty crispies. My aunt and my mother patiently made aralu-sandiges to last the year. When they were not looking I stole a few half-dry sandiges from the edges. O! half dried sandiges are yummy. I still like them. But stolen ones are tastier!!

Broken biscuits and stale bread slices were left on the terrace. Sparrows and parakeets made hasty visits to pick mouthfuls. I wish I had pictures. Photography was expensive and not encouraged in our home.

During the rains the place became damp. The floor was uneven cement. Rain water collected in small puddles giving the terrace a raw and rustic feel. Ah! The heady smell of rain.

That was a rented house. We relocated to Chennai, then to Bengaluru, I became older, wiser (!), got married, nourished a family and moved through homes and cities…

Even now,
When I want to sort out my thoughts
Or relive childhood moments
Or understand people who matter to me
I go into that terrace … in my mind … and I feel more peaceful, more in control, and warm

What part of your childhood home do you recall fondly?