Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

When I began to blog I did it just to stay focused. Slowly it grew into me and became a passion. Today I got this lovely award and truly it has made my day.
Thank you Divya from


Here are 8 things about me
  • People inspire me
  • Love reading self help books
  • Enjoy cooking, but hate doing dishes
  • Like being with nature
  • Don't get angry easily, but take time to cool down
  • Do watercolours
  • Spread the word about TED talks
  • Like Indian clothes

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting period or Black Hole?

About the pause between the idea and the event

Tuesday evening
7.15 and 7.30

I look at the clock six times. I have a favourite serial that begins at half past seven and I do not want to miss it.

I listen in happy anticipation to the opening strains of the serial. I watch the family coming together on the steps in easy togetherness. Suhana and badi ma dance a few steps and hug in the warmth of affection.

Triiiing the landline shrills, cutting through the laughing serial. I hastily press the mute button and take the call in the hall. It is my cousin from Bangalore. This is a rare call and I am happy to be chatting with him.

Call ends. I hurry back to the TV. I watch Manju Aunty getting updates about Suhana. Everybody loves Suhana. All too soon the characters freeze in mid action and the serial is done for the day!

10. 05
I think...
I could have spent the 15 minutes from 7.15 to 7.30 yesterday evening in a better way.
Like the rabbit in a waistcoat, always busy and always late
O wait...The past and the future so occupy me, I have little time for the present.

When we are waiting our mind refuses to work. It is like there is no life until what we wait for begins to happen. But that is not really true is it? Life is there during that waiting period too.
Generally the waiting period becomes a black hole.
In a queue, in the dentist's waiting hall, before the first guest arrives, after the application form is posted, the last trimester and when a proposal is sent
the waiting begins...and the black hole happens...
Can we avoid that?
Can we be so detached from that result we are waiting for, or so focused on the present, that the waiting period is not reduced to a black hole.
If we could be aware, the best things may happen right during that waiting period.

The waiting period!
 I am trying to depict the parable about the marrooned man who waited for God to help him...and ignored all help that arrived during the waiting period!
Does this happen with you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hit the Reply Button

About saying that line before it's too late
Make that call, write that mail, post that card, say those words.
A lot of pain is avoided when we communicate promptly. Most misunderstandings and delays result from inadequate information. And then we spend lot more time trying to smooth ruffled feathers or console hurt feelings. In India we think that we are troubling people when we call them. That is not true. It hardly takes a minute to say what we want to say. Saying things at the right time always eases life.

If it’s OK to call for help, it’s OK to call to thank, update, clarify... or just say Hello!

The telephone - Make that call today

  • Going to be late for the meet?
  • Received the courier?
  • Landed the assignment that Kamala Athe blessed you for?
  • Watched the concert that Mohan Mama recommended?
Tell them.

Communicating makes bridges and maintains relationships smoothly. But this works only if
You are prompt
You are brief and to the point
You are honest

It takes a lifetime to make relationships and a minute to make that call.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Something small

I just had to share this picture with you all.

This flower is really tiny and growing in the wilderness of Manali

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Teenager and Parent

Last week I had a distressing encounter with a teenager and his parent.

The parent loves his son deeply. 
He is paranoid about what the world will do to him.
He keeps him close to his chest.
He does not permit him to play after school.
He wants to scrutinize every friend of his.
He agonizes over the many avenues of harm.
He bans going out of home after school.
So... He is tense and kiddish.

The teenager is pushed to the wall. He is callous and stubborn.
He has lost his self-respect.
He has lost his physical fitness.
He is a drowning man thrashing out at the confines.
He is rude to his parent.
He resorts to violent behaviour.
He stays away from home, overnight.
He is sulking and adultlike.

They cannot handle him, so they resort to white lies.
I will be back in 10 minutes they say, and return after 2 hours.
I cannot afford the cell phone they say, and buy some gold.

The teenager spots the lies. He loses faith in himself, in the future and in ever being worthy of love.
A teenager is a young adult. Respect his individuality. That is the only way he will learn to respect yours.

If you are the parent: learn to trust in the values that you have passed on. Consult with family and friends.
If you are a teenager: learn to express your thoughts openly, without anger and without tears. That makes them sit up and listen.

I wonder who began the concept of Terrible Teens.
I would rather call it TREMENDOUS TEENS for that is when you get closest to your kid.

Samsara guttu, Vyadhi rattu.
Family matters a secret, diseases revealed and shared.
sometimes human behaviour becomes disease like. It must then be treated so, shared and consulted about. and solution found.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Autibiography - MK Gandhi

The Story of my Experiments with Truth
MK Gandhi

The book has two names. Perhaps signifying the multiple layers that MK Gandhi's personality had.
What with the controversial paragraphs and the volumes of discussions about Joseph Leyveld's book, recommending another Gandhi read may sound trite and silly.
But, that is what I did. I read the original on my flight from and to Delhi this week. I think you must read it too.
Read it slowly, like you are tasting Silk the new cadbury chocolate. For hidden in the middle of descriptions of incidents that meant much to him, MK Gandhi has fabulous insights into daily living. The frankness of the writing leaves you breathless.
excerpts and explanations:
  • I had absolutely no reason to suspect my wife's fidelity, but jealousy does not wait for reasons.
  • I do not know whence I got the notion that good handwriting was not a necessary part of education.....I saw that bad handwriting should be regarded as a sign of an imperfect education.
  • There is this instance in Bombay, where he is to give a speech. He prefers to speak extempore. But Pestonji advises him to submit a written one. The internal argument and his final acceptance of the advice is wonderful.
  • The pros and cons about the head-dress, the option of using a hat, and then the final decision, reveal the beginning of lucid thinking.
The book is tedious towards the end. But do attempt it.

We learn from what they experience

Monday, April 18, 2011

I sir? Yes sir. No sir. Then who sir?

About facing contradiction

When someone contradicts you what do you do?

Shout them down? Walk away in a huff? Smirk and laugh at them? Get all hot and angry?
Or do you listen and wonder?

A new and contrary thought is God’s way of jolting us awake.
He is telling us to stop and think.

Try this. Thank the person for the radical new thought. Consider it with complete respect. And then form a fresh opinion. Real and distinct.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

We want so many things

Nothing comes for free.
So the question now is, How much are you willing to pay? How much is it worth to you?

In Kannada we say ... Kai kesaradarey bai mosaru, meaning: Soiled hands mean taste of curds
This comes from the experience of the farmer. Only when he toils in the land can he feed the family. A matter of delayed gratification.

There is always a price to pay
High grades means...postpone play now. Are you willing?
Good relationships mean no ego trips. Are you willing?
A clean home means a dusty duster. Are you willing?

Just how much is it worth to you?

money, time, attention, effort, energy, ego, change habits, alter standpoints, admit mistakes, suffer embarassment, ask for clarification...
are you willing to pay?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Great Train Robbery - Michael Crichton

The Great Train Robbery
Michael Crichton

Have you seen the movie? Well do read the book. It is just awesome.
It's gripping
It's got amazing descriptions
And ofcourse MC is a master story teller...a master craftsman

This charming book takes us right into Victorian era. The clothes, the places, the slang, and the conversations offer a flavour of the time. Crichton has done tremendous research into the fascinating great train robbery...…it really happened

He has recreated for us the elaborate planning that went into the robbing of gold sent as payment in the Crimean war. The audacious act, the pathetically stupid way in which they were caught and then the surprise end to the entire episode make it a book, you cannot put down.

In the course of his narration Crichton introduces explanations, detours and descriptions that bring in the flavour of the times. You can actually imagine the narrow lanes, the shops, the men dipping their hats as they walk by, and the different language used by the underbelly.

Here are some strange expressions:

Petter cutter for a drill
Eel skinner, this is a vocation...with long explanation provided!!
Neddy is their term for a club
That was a very nice pull. You tool her off? … meaning That was a neat job. Did you pick her pocketby using a hook? (and not using fingers!! and the thief is offended and hastily confirms that indeed he did not tool her off! He has nimble fingers...he does not need a hook)

a must read

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lessons from Hadimba

About the power of self determination
Hadimba Temple - Manali

Hadimb and Hadimba are siblings. Perhaps twins? Born into the Rakshasa clan they live deep in the dark forests, are cannibals by right and kill for pleasure. The Pandavas are banished into the forests forsaking royal luxury.

Hadimb, perhaps the elder one, sends Hadimba out to find man-meat for his mid-day-meal. Hadimba sees Bhima. She is mesmerised by his frank face, his courage and his strong muscular build. She transforms herself into a damsel and wins his heart. Meat to Mate in 3 moves...??

Meanwhile Hadimb comes, attacks Bhima and is killed by him. Bhima keeps his promise to Hadimba, marries her and has a son by her named Ghatotkaccha. Bhima leaves to fulfill his duties by the land. Hadimba remains in the dark forest with her son, transforms herself by meditation and generous deeds and brings up a son worthy of his illustrious father.

Today she is venerated by the people of Manali as a goddess, not in any manner denying her rakshasa origin. A small brass idol hardly 4 inches high represents her. Puja is performed daily. In May every year a festival is held and sacrifices made... of small animals, large vegetables and finally an ox. Skulls of ibex and goats adorn the walls of the temple!

This surely is a tale of triumph. Triumph of creative and original thought over environment, over upbringing, over social expectation and over all possible excuses. Strangely, there is also another temple to her in Chitradurga in Karnataka. Now how did she get there?

The Hadimba temple in Manali has massive and passive angora rabbits that you can pose with!

massive passive angora rabbits
 Yaks that you can ride on! (they have curved horns and stinky long hair)

Yak - off duty
 Winding walk ways that you can get lost in. And colourful locals you can chat up with.

Slate tiled roof and locals of Manali
 The temple is made of wood and stone. And has awesome carved wood panels. The metal covered pagodas are all the more interesting because they are asymetrical. You saw here.

carved wood panels in Hadimba
I can almost hear her mom and dad saying
are there no guys in our clan?
he can't even change his form, a mere mortal, not a man-meat eater
not even good looking...such small teeth
what do you see in him? How can we face our neighbours? What will society think!!

No one is good or bad. They are just different?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Temples of Manali

When I think of temples I think of a stone structure with pillars and a sanctum. Or a brick and cement one with the modern look. Temples in Delhi are very different. They are more open and devotees have complete access to the main idol. There is a prachin shiv mandir very close to our house. It is a large hall and we are allowed to light lamps and even do abhisheka with milk. It's almost like you are at home!
At Manali the temples are architectural beauties. Most temples and olden houses are built or decorated with carved wooden panels. We saw this house with quaint wooden panels from our hotel balcony.

This lovely wooden temple to Ma Shakti is on the main road of manali...called Mall Road. Photography is forbidden...but we managed!!

Temple on Mall road, Manali
 This Shiv Mandir is a few km from Manali. The diety is called Jagatshakti Shiv. Wonderfully powerful name. The place has a large courtyard and seating. We saw a family relaxing here. They had even brought lunch.

Jagatshakti Mandir, Manali
 We visited Manikaran 85km from Manali. This is the very beautiful Gurdwara with a langar (free feeding). Hymns (Gurbani) fill the air. An ornate bridge across the river Parvati connects the gurdwara to the highway.

We walk into the Gurudwara and reach the Shiv Mandir through a narrow stariway. Even the tiles on the floor of the mandir are hot! Manikaran has hot spring. Small bags with a tablespoon of washed rice are sold. You leave a rice bag in the hot spring for 10 minutes and the rice is cooked! We watched someone else trying it out.

Devotees of both religions visit both places. I found the place peaceful and Nandi? The cooked rice is prasad. See cooked rice!

This is a temple 2km from Manali. It is to Hadimba the wife of Bhim. I always thought she was called Hidimba?? She belonged to the rakshasa clan but is venerated here as a powerful and kind goddess.

A three day festival is held in May. When I spoke to a local and refered to her as belonging to the rakshasa clan he was pained and said that they loved her as she had helped destroy evil and had done great penance. This place is really very interesting. I shall tell you more about it tomorrow.

India is a lovely country

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I swear, It grabs

About things that grab at you

The fruit 'n' nut chocolate bar in the fridge has been grabbing at me since three days. I succumb. I tear open the shiny foil and break off a few slabs. The first is consumed hastily. The second one is for taste. The third is sinful.
Some chocolate remains. I should wrap it up again and keep it in the fridge.
I do not. I leave it on the table.

A young 20 year old Selvi comes in to help me do the house. She is a new recruit. On the way out she quietly picks up the slabs of chocolate. I realise this an hour later. I am fuming at her betrayal.
How could she steal??
But I am equally to blame. I leave it there, grabbing at everyone who passes by. We need to be careful about what's precious to us. right?

By the way
The chocolate bar is aptly called TEMPTATION

The fragility of our honesty is directly proportional to the strength of the grab?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vegetables for Dinner

Van Vihar is a forest enclosure in the heart of Manali city. Moss covered boulders, tall trees, eager butterflies and frank flowers make Van Vihar exclusive and charming. 
I spot this local woman digging under a tree in Van Vihar. Curiosity gets the better of me. ‘What are you hunting for?’ I ask her. She looks up and a smile lights up her face.
‘Digging for aalus’ she says and holds one in her hand in display. She has collected a poly bag of wild potatoes!

A classy ethnic bag tucked into her waist, a bandana wrapped round her head (Thipu), a rough hand-woven cloth wrapped around her in traditional style (Pattoo), in canvas shoes (instead of a woollen Pulla), this local woman steals my heart. She will cook a meal in the evening for her family of seven. She has 3 grandchildren but only one of them stays with her. Her son is a driver, she says proudly.

Imagine digging for wild potatoes to cook the evening meal for the family.

I smelt the potato. It had a musty smell. ‘It is harder and tastes different.’ She said. I asked her permission to click photos. And she accepted with a grin. And then she wanted to see them in my camera too! Her name? She is Meena.

patience, love and acceptance

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ondu Plate Maggi Noodles

In Bangalore shops I need to ask for Maggi Noodles. But in Manali when I say Maggi noodles, they ask me
maggi? or noodles?
I say Maggi....very firmly. chopped veggies go into it and finely cut tomatoes. In 7 minutes Maggi is ready.

Maggi is
A harassed mom's saviour
A bachelor's refuge
A teenager's timepass
An old man's dinner
A travellers safe bet
on the freezing slopes of the Himalayas
it is better than the best.
A five course meal
A chef's offering
A soulful experience!!

I donnno why
but a plate of hot maggi and steaming tea poured out from a flask, taste heavenly in the snowy slopes.

maggi and chai on solang slopes
 and while we were having our plate of maggi there was this three year old who was crying bitterly. She was infact petrified. A lady was trying to pacify her in broken kannada
amma baratte
crying beda, crying beda
she kept saying!
I call to the little one and speak to her in Kannada. She is consoled for a short time.
her mom and dad have gone paragliding and she is with a known friend who has no kannada!
She looks at the vast white playground and weeps...amma kalad-hogidey (my mom is lost)

I give her my 10/- rupee stick.
idu magic kaddi. idarally dhairya idey. hidko. (this is a magic stick. it has courage. hold it) I said.
And the little one held it tight and swallowed her tears.
30 minutes of sheer hell for the baby .. that she soon forgot
and 30 minutes of awesome fun for her mom-dad...that they will never forget.

I dint think the tears were worth it.
But my younger friends seemed to think it is.

what say you?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bundled up to be Free

About letting our hair down
while we are zipped up into snowsuit

Paragliders come sailing down the sky in a whoosh. This looks thrilling. But I notice they all take a rough landing on their feet and tumble into the soft snow. I so badly want to try the para gliding. But we are concerned about my knee. So we settle for the smaller thrill of sliding down the snow. We slide down snow slopes (before that we trudge to the top … no pain no gain!)

sliding down a snow hill

Snow lumps together when I roll some. I make a Lilliputian snowman and give him a matchstick to smoke.

Hubby does not find the snow too cold. He plays with it without the gloves on. A mountain of snow makes a cool mouthful.

There was this tall mound of snow. I wonder how it piled up there. Anyway we had fun conquering this mountain! One of the EASY Mountains my husband has conquered.

Do you recall our game of throwball in Janapada Loka? I wish we were a large group here too. I miss my family here. But we play throw and catch with large chunks of snow!

Do you think a real closeup shot will reveal Snow crystals? haha try and see them here...

snow crystals
Once in a while its fun to just let go. The best part one knew us we could just freak out! We chatted loudly in Kannada to each other, we had many more kannada families coming up to us and sharing a smile. We clicked pictures with strangers, shared chai with touring families and consoled crying babies. That is tomorrow's story.