Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do your feelings match mine?

By now you must have gathered that I am a mini TV buff. Currently I am hooked on to a serial about Khushi (18) and Arnav (28). They remind me of the Mills & Boons of my teenage days. The tall curt hero rich and successful, the dainty but spirited heroine, and the inevitable third guy...!! I follow Khushi and Arnav as they play one up over each other and fall helplessly in love!

But yesterday
I am switching channels - JLT - just like that - I stop at a song sequence from the movie Fanaa. It is taken in Delhi at Qutb Minar. Now here is Kajol playing the blind girl and behind her are some of her 'college friends' dancing to the song among ornate pillars. To my utter surprise there is Khushi, dancing as an 'also there' in the background. I sit up and watch the girl with renewed respect. Strangely I just love the song more after that!

A thing takes a new dimension when we 'own' it. The song took on significance because a TV artist I have grown to love is in it. The song, the scenery the actors, nothing has changed. My perception has.

Our ability to accept a person/situation depends on one thing 'How much we make it our own'.
What others see as - difficulty - flaw - pain - we do not even comprehend it as such!

We do not love because
we Love
That's it.

and if others do not understand why?
don't let that bother you.
It is your heart that matters! Your perspective.

of course ... if it matches mine ... Good for you!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jamuna sends a document

Jamuna returned to her seat fuming. Harsha lifted an eyebrow at her. Paro strolled to her desk and whispered, ‘loo break?’ They were offering solid support. It was their way of telling her, chill, it’s OK, aisa hota hai. She knew it. But she was not ready to share details with them. How could she tell them? She felt a fool.

Arre yaar
If that big boss in Singapore doesn't like the font style he can do control A and change it na?
What’s the big deal?
But no
Their own Hari Sadu was unwilling to see the logic of it.

‘Jamuna’, he had said leaning back into his revolving chair, ‘you are casual ... careless. And on top totally irresponsibal. You send document like this? Font is wrang, size is bigYour document looks like ...  are you shouting at him. How you send like this? 
But sir, what about the content? The analysis?
Did you see page 4? I have made tables for …
'Look Jamuna, you are almost 2 years old. See … when you joined? 2010? And you still send document…. Like this? I am sorry to say, you do not deserve to be this position at all.'
Her eyes glistened with tears. She whispered a sorry sir and fled blindly.

Choosing the right font
Is it fair? You tell me.
I always meet deadlines
I get the best graphics from the creative team and the animations are mind blowing.
But none of this is commented upon.
A mail I sent, detailing some of the best suggestions, gets flak not because the ideas are stupid
But because of a stupid font that I used!

We believe that a person who does one thing well, should do everything well.
The lady serves awesome lunch and we frown at her crumpled cushions.
A graceful dancer is expected to give a great speech too.
A good doctor is expected to be well mannered.
We take the essentials for granted - the good food, the sublime dancing and the perfect diagnosis.  
And we harp on the un-necessary details. How come?
Why is someone who is good at one thing, expected to be good at everything?
Are we putting them on pedestal? Or are we plain jealous?
Tell me please?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ugadi, Bevu-bella

Ugadi - The Kannada new year
and The Kannada Brahmin way of celebration

There is an air of anticipation.
This is the night before...
Slender lines form a fabulous rangoli patterns on the floor just outside the main door.
Green mango leaves are strung into a thorana and now they adorn the entrance doorway swaying in the gentle breeze. A few sprigs of neem leaves are stuck at the two ends of the thoran.

On the day of Ugadi - The first day after new moon in March - Chaitra shuddha padya
Bevu-bella (neem flowers crushed with jaggery ) is made. After an early bath everyone gets a small bit of Bevu-bella. Signifying the inevitable presence of the good and the bad in our life.

Children are told, if the bevu-bella tastes bitter then the rest of the year will be joyous. We ask each other - what taste did you get bitter or sweet?
The taste of neem is so overpowering, the bitterness lingers and we are overjoyed. As now we know the rest of the year will be just fine. There is no greater joy than HOPE and the sweet taste of SUCCESS.
bevu-bella gives you both!

The ladies (ya, very rarely the men, though I know Nanjund mava often helped) get busy in the kitchen. Raw-mango rice, crisp heerekai bajjis and bele-vobbattu. That is the menu of the day.

Every year has a name. 2012 - 2013 is called Nandana. So this year at every festival we will be chanting Nandana nama samvatsare...
The panchanga or the almanac gives the annual forecast for the year and for the individual. There is even a description of how the year is personified. The elder reads the almanac and the family gathers to listen.
It is a lot of fun and is a ritual that is enjoyed!
You know, there is a part in the almanac that tell you the Earning and the Spending for the year ... on a count of 10!

Today is Ugadi
Wish you all a very happy year 
May your bevu-bella forecast happiness and success

Sunday, March 18, 2012

No time mama, I'm loading the bus with cars

I like it that he has no time to come to the phone
I like it that his cars mean more to him than anything else
I like it that he can Whack the baseball
I like it that he defeats me in virtual table tennis and dissolves into peals of laughter

Dear grandson - It is your birthday today. I have made sabudana kheer... that your mom called gulle payasa ... the bubble pudding! I have placed it before Lord Ganesh and sought his blessings.
We are sending you loads of love and blessings.

This reminds me of the story of Tenali Rama the court wit and jester and Sri Krishnadevaraya - the emperor. One day the king sat on his throne, put a leg on leg, took a deep breath, looked at the ministers of his court and asked -
Wise men, tell me what must be done to the legs that kick me and the hands that slap me?
the wise men were appalled. What? they murmured
who has the audacity, the temerity, the impudence to kick you, slap you??
Chain him, beat him, banish him they said ... not pausing for breath
falling over each other to win the king's applause
then Tenali Rama the wit said, put tinkling anklets on his feet and gold bracelets on his wrists. For great Emperor ... This must be ... your little son.

and if 
dear reader
your loved one 
has a birthday today 
and you are far 
this payasa 
is in celebration 
of that birthday too
for good words
and good thoughts
have great power.

Sabudana  Payasa

Monday, March 12, 2012

If you pay peanuts ...

... you get monkeys.
Monkeys are quite cute actually.

monkey comes for peanuts

We actually did just that at Janapada Loka bangalore. we held peanuts and they obliged... so sweetly.

This proverb is all about pay and employee calibre. You cannot expect a worthy man for a lower hand out.
But I like to take the proverb out of its limitation.

We make the choice.
We are answerable only to ourselves.
What is right for you? That is the important question.

curious monkey at janapada loka

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

If the shoe fits, wear it

Cinderella did! And look what it brought her.

The guy who protests the loudest is the one who is guilty.
Arguments spiral out of context because one of the two is not willing to wear the shoe even if it fits.

If the description is true, if the accusation is valid, if the compliment is justified ...
accept it with grace.
if the shoe fits, wear it.

a shoe that fits

Monday, March 5, 2012

A cat may look at a king

The internet breaks down many a wall. Open almost any site and you have a window at the end of the page that invites you to leave your comment. Comments, advices ... jeers and insults ... all distributed at will.

10 years ago we watched an event on TV and fumed in the obscurity of our living rooms. If we were audacious enough to voice opinions we were told in curt Kannada ... Neenu yelli - avanu yelli ... meaning look at you ... huh? where are you and where is he??
So accepting the truth of the times badava nee madagnathe iru  ... we remained mute*

Today we twitter, we blog, we leave a comment, upload a video, and with no hint of a blush. The cat (or even a rat) not only looks at a king, it meows it yawns and makes other noises too!

The proverb implies that a person may not be that great but that does not deny him certain rights. He is not entirely restricted in the presence of a superior.
What are you doing?
I am writing Sachin's biography
WHAT? You are going to write Tendulkar's biography?
Well,  a cat can look at a king. So. Why not?

But of course there is a world of difference between LOOK and SEE.
A cat may look but would he really comprehend the king? Would he really see?

* kannada proverb: literally: poor man you be what u are

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Banana leaf meal

About a traditional Kannada Brahmin special meal
the Outhana

Outhana is pronounced with a flat th.
An Outhana is a special meal served as a send-off to guests who have stayed over a few nights. An outhana is made for a daughter-soninlaw, aunt-uncle, sister-BIL, or visiting parents
Preparation begins early in the morning as there is lots to cook! The meal will include -

  • payasa (kheer made with milk and rice or milk and sevai )
  • kosambari (dal-veggie salad) 2 types ... for making only one is a big no-no
  • palya (spicy shallow fried veggies) 2 types
  • gojju (yummy sweet sour) we wait eagerly to taste this
  • kalasida anna (flavoured rice) 
  • rice - sambar - saaru (white rice served with dal-veg) main course
  • bajjis or bondas or ambode (all fried crisp treats) in a kannada home a vada is never made for special occasions. Vada is associated with sadder events.
  • sweet (a burfi, mysorepak, holige, coconut-mitai, whatever )
  • curd and rice
a good meal always begins with a spoon of payasa at the lower right hand corner of banana leaf / plate

We mix rice with sambar or saaru and scoop it up with our hands right into our mouth. We literally chase the rice round the plate and catch it by surprise!

All this food is served with lots of fun and love. There may have been stressful moments during the stay. But that is momentarily set aside. Guests are coaxed to eat more. It is quite usual to see guests spread their palms wide over their leaf saying No-NO and the host slips in a fried treat from a space on the side!

The meal is followed by a relaxed offer of elle hakkoli ... meaning well (eat leaf!) no not the banana leaf ... they are offered beetel leaf and areca nuts.

Some parting gift usually in the form of clothes has been surreptitiously bought! It is brought out on a tray with haldi-kumkum and fruits. The lady is asked to be seated. She is offered the gifts ceremoniously. This is a serious business.
The gift giving shows mutual respect and affection.
The guest makes appropriate noises....yaake thondre... why all this trouble?
You should not have brought all this
but of course she is pleased.
You see ... its not the gift that matters
it is the honour with which it was given. it is the thought that matters.

most of the time when we are angry it a reaction to hurt ego. Our wise forefathers knew that. The ceremonial outhana soothed jagged nerves. Made everyone feel wanted .. egos got pacified.
think about it
next time someone is cynical or rude ... pamper their ego

Saturday, March 3, 2012

April showers bring May flowers

The proverb ASbMF displays English sentiments. In parts of Ireland, Scotland and UK the weather in April changes from warm sunshine to icy sleet in a day. The April showers are a continuous thing offering little respite. Suddenly in May the clouds part, the sun shines through and the flowers blossom. It must be an absolutely amazing experience. Aaaah! They gasp. All that wait and suffering was worth it. How beautiful the land looks!

Perhaps the first to use this phrase was Geoffrey Chaucer in about 1400. Chaucer writes in the Prologue to Canterbury Tales, When the April showers, and the blossoms of May have given way to mellow June ... only Then will the pilgrims begin to move.

The turn of every season brings on happiness and hope. (Man is such a creature of change!!)
In India a rain is always welcome. So perhaps we do fail to understand the grouse they may have against April showers! Still, too much rain, means clogged drains, flooded streets and damp socks ... this can be quite painful. In Delhi we have our own treasure of May flowers. They are called GOLDEN SHOWERS!

cassia fistula - amaltas - yellow shower

Our friend Ajit, roped in a trusted peer and managed most of the office work, took his wife to an evening out, and on the way home visited his friend's baby. Yesterday was April Shower...but he lived it through and
Look at him now, bibi khush, baby ka baba khush and boss bhi khush
Today it is May flowers indeed!

My father had sound advice... this specially on the day I brought home my report card.
Kai kesaradare bai mosaru ... a proverb in Kannada that literally translates to ... if hand gets marshy, mouth gets curd!! A diligent farmer reaps a good harvest and lives well.
This too shall pass ...
  • Do your harsh duties today and the good times will come.
one more picture of Golden shower
amaltas - yellow canopy in May

Friday, March 2, 2012

Any time means no time

An American in America stops to help me. I say 'Thank you for helping me with the bags' and he shrugs and says 'Anytime'.
The Indian in me is confused. The coin gently tinkles into place. 'Anytime' - it is like saying -no problem.
It is maybe a contraction of - Oh! I would be happy to do it for you any time!

That takes me back to Calcutta... and a totally different use of "Any time"
We had uncles and aunties at the culture-club where we met on Thursdays ... friends of our middle class parents, secretly feeling a bit uppish because they worked on higher pay-scales. At the end of the social gatherings smiling adults would nod and say to each other ... haan so let us meet outside also. Do visit us with your family - Any Time. ... Banni yava-glaro!
meaning ... well .. it's ok...no hurry...don't take it too seriously!!

Our friend Ajit has to develop 3 avatars today.
twenty days ago his boss handed him a file and said not priority... do it any time you are free
2 months back his friend got a lovely baby girl. He decided to visit them... sometime ... Any time.
5 years ago he married. She had said let's go for a musical concert. He said, sure ... anytime
and today the file, the baby visit and the are due. They have all said TODAY!

Truth is
when you hear - any time - you can assume the job will remain - not done
we work on - dead lines - and if no dead line is set, the job just does not get done.
that is a reality
Any time means no time

Thursday, March 1, 2012

All cats are grey in the dark

Beauty and physical appearance is given way too much thought space ... much more than it deserves.
Stunning looks knock us down..........other sadder looks put us off
but the sway of looks can be only temporary. Finally it is the performance that counts
so while selecting
a chauffeur ... a cook
a secretary ... a spouse
a sofa set ... a cell phone ... a house
All cats are grey in the dark
It is the stuff inside that really calls the shots.

We had been to Zangoora the dance-drama-theatre show in Gurgaon. All actors boogied on to the stage and took positions. The stage was dark. We saw only mingling silhouettes. We watched, mildly curious.The spot lights came on. The lead actor Hussain,  a familiar face on TV, spread his arms wide Shahrukh style... and the discerning audience gasped. Is it he?? We watched with renewed vigour.
All cats are grey in the dark.
But who wants to be the grey cat? We work, we entertain, we dress and we pray only so that we do not remain grey cats. That is what all the strife and struggle is all about.

I have used the proverb in two different ways. Both imply that it is the stuff inside that counts.
The first way of using it is the traditional one. This is the way Benjamin Franklin used it in his absolutely stunning letter to his friend ... urging him to choose between an old woman and a wife!

The second is what I have seen in the more recent books.