Pongalo Pongal

Pongal-o Pongal

Happy Pongal, Makar Sankranthi, Lohri to everyone in India. It is the festive season now.

What I remember of Pongal as a kid is waking up early in the cold winter morning and walking towards the drawing room to catch a few more winks on the sofa half asleep waiting for Amma to call us to come to the kitchen. We would wait for the milk to boil and rise and shout ‘Pongalo Pongal- Pongalo Pongal’ and prostrate before the Pongal Panai (pot) .It was a time to feast on chakkarai (sweet) pongal and venn (salted) Pongal with some other delicacies that Amma would prepare .

Fast forward a few years.

I am the one who is buying the turmeric leaves, applying turmeric and kumkum to the pongal panai (pot), tying the leaves securely to the pot, cleaning the gas oven and kitchen counter top in the morning ,adding the required ingredients in the panai and simultaneously keep calling my kid an hubby reminding them that its time to wake up.  Now my son ambles half asleep towards the sofa and then to the kitchen when its time for the milk to boil and rise up.

I am more than happy and satisfied by the time I prepare both the varieties of the pongal dish and the “neivedhiyam ” is offered to the Sun God!  So the lunch and breakfast of the day is done minus any more delicacies that my Amma would prepare.

Pongal literally means “boiling over” as the milk is allowed to boil over, signifying abundance.

I look forward to this morning every year

Perhaps I manage to follow certain customs in ways convenient to me during the current times with some short cuts . Our beautiful traditions have evolved radically but the essence still remains the same  and they keep reminding us about the beautiful culture that we belong to.

Build Your Own Rainbow

Childhood is the time when we are most active , bubbling with energy , stress free and with all the time in the world  playing and bonding with friends .  As we grow into an adult the scenario slowly changes and it is a mixture of fun and stress of a different order be it about academics, one’s looks , peer pressure, relationships,  career, marriage  , learning new skills , adjustments , childbirth, raising kids, taking care of elderly  and the list is really long .

Especially women in India have to make lots of adjustments and for us the twists and turns of life and age sometimes makes us ponder over the uncertainity at many stages.

In the journey of life at different stages of life, there does come a time when one is not sure about the future, a fear somewhere resides in some corner of the mind, yet life goes on. One tries to do what one thinks is best at that point of time. And when ones wishes are fulfilled its a nice, beautiful feeling.

How many women  can resonate well with the fact that we tend to put everyone else ‘s needs before our own . Priorities change with time with family commitments and raising kids that time just flies ahead juggling between home front and work front .The fact that when kids are a little older and need us a little less as their circle of friends widen is the time which allows us to pursue our own goals, hobbies & passions which had taken a backseat.

So just stop for a couple of minutes & think, ” what is my oxygen mask” ?

Do things that are highly energetic and reflective. Spend some time in nature and enjoy your surroundings, have a chat with a good friend , watch films, do exercise , yoga , dance , pen down your thoughts, feelings, listen to  music and sing along to your favourite song,  travel, read, rediscover a hobby or a creative interest , just something you enjoy wherein you are so involved that there is no room for worrying about anything else. Spread your beautiful wings and fly to all the places you wish to be.

Do what you enjoy and fly and soar up in the sky and be perched on the throne like a “Queen” and rule your life and life will open new doors for a better you.

Heart full of joy and House full of lights and diyas #happydiwali #newyear #festive #festivefun #deepavali #bloggers #lightdiya #dorangoli #begood #havefun

Deepawali  is just around the corner and there is a festive atmosphere around. I am reminded of how my parents would wake us up in the early hours on Naraka Chaturdashi day for the customary oil bath. We would be woken up around 4 am in the cold winter morning of October/November . Appa would have switched on the radio and would have tuned into Short Wave band for some south Indian music. The early morning celebrations would start on an auspicious note with Nadaswaram music.

Getting up in the wee hours of the morning was a big task. We are three siblings and we had a rule. As per the rule –“whoever gets up first will take bath first.” That way the other two could catch up with some extra sleep was the idea. But the question was – who would wake up first?? The solution was that whoever’s name is called out  first while waking us up would have to take oil bath first and then one of us would grumble to Amma – “Why did you have to call only my name first??”

On the previous night Appa would have applied a little haldi and kumkum to the corners of the new dresses which would have been piled up on a tray . All the new clothes, sweets,  savouries, crackers, homemade special herbal  medicine, a big vessel smeared with little rangoli pattern , gingelly (sesame) oil would be placed in front of the God.

After waking up Amma would make us sit on a low level wooden seat  and anoint our hair with warm gingelly oil. We would then go out and light a cracker/sparkler . The one whose name was called first would go for the oil bath while rest of the two would try to  catch some few more winks of sleep.

Post bath Appa would give us our new dress and Amma would give us the special homemade herbal medicine in the form of a small ball . I hated it. My sister used to find it tasty. Amma would ask me to eat it fast as it helps in the digestion of all the sweets and savouries that we would be consuming for the next few days. I would find it very difficult to push it down my throat. We would wear the new clothes and seek the blessings of the elders.

Gorging on the different sweets and savouries would be fun. Phone calls to greet relatives and friends would be with “ Ganga snanam accha?”. Evening time would be spent in lighting diyas, greeting  friends and exchanging sweets. Since my growing up years were in northern and western  India we would save the bursting of crackers for the next day when the whole neighbourhood would be bursting crackers.

In today’s age enthusiasm is the same for celebrating  and I do eagerly look forward to this festival of lights but some things have changed for me I realize.. Waking up at 4 am has shifted to a little later by 2 hours, gingelly oil has been replaced by parachute coconut oil for namesake,  shikakai  has been replaced with shampoo.

When it comes to sweets and snacks –it’s the shortcut as I prepare just one sweet and one savoury item as I find the deep frying chores in the kitchen immensely boring . Rest are purchased from shop. Diwali herbal medicine too is purchased ( symbolically bought if available) and the packet remains unopened for days to come, and is finally discarded one fine day. Crackers too are brought on a minimum scale now  keeping in mind “green Diwali”.

Piling up new dresses on a tray with haldi and kumkum smeared in a corner and placing the sweets , savouries , Diwali herbal medicine and crackers along with the new set of clothes is something I look forward to. Its also time to bond with neighbours and friends by exchanging sweets.

What has also got added is looking forward to make a colourful  rangoli apart from the traditional rangoli with rice flour and decoration with lots of marigold flowers and lamps , diyas, serial bulbs.

With my generation some things have changed, and with the next generation some more things will change. We do try to hold on to some rituals ,customs, traditions as per our convenience and the love, laughter and bonding continues to keep everyone together.

May the beauty of Deepawali season fill your home with happiness

Wishing everyone a very Happy and Joyous Deepawali

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEAST

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

Nature never ceases to attract us. Mother Earth is filled with the most beautiful landscapes that mesmerizes us.The ocean,the flowers in full bloom,the snow clad mountains, the greenery near a mountain side after the rains, the deep valleys, gorges, cascading waterfalls, sunrise, sunset, rolling hills, dense jungles, sand dunes, the lazy river, pristine beaches,swaying trees in the breeze, the clear blue sky, rainbow, carpet of flowers on the ground are such a feast to the eyes. Every time I see them I try to  drink their beauty with my eyes.  Nature and its wonder mesmerizes me and takes away all the sorrow that surrounds me sometimes.!!

Sometimes I feel that technology makes us a little crazy when we keep clicking pictures of the beauty around with cameras , how we forget to capture the images in our camera like eyes that God has given us  !!. Do we really get time in this fast paced world to sit and look at the photos at leisure later on???

An infants smile,yawn, activities is also a feast to the eyes. Looking at a baby one forgets all the worries of the world.

I find the architecture of man made monuments of historical importance  also a feast to my eyes.The engineering skills of our ancestors amazes me. Without machinary, lifts, construction equipments there is perfect symmetry in the monuments build a few centuries ago.

I am a great fan  of anything ethnic. Handicrafts, handlooms, textiles, home decor, artifacts ,jewellery  are something that are also a feast to my eyes. Even window shopping for any of them gives a feel good factor to me. Exhibitions sometimes exhibit their stuff and I love visiting such exhibitions. I find it refreshing to just have a look at the things that I find beautiful .Just having a look at them is like gorging on a  feast for me.

Plants, Bonsai, flowers in full bloom ,well maintained gardens, lawns are also feast to the eyes. Anything that relaxes and gives a calming, soothing effect to the mind is a feast to my  eyes.

There are lots of images on pinterest too that are so appealing to look at that people pin them .

Some people are so nice to be with, we enjoy having them around. They bring sunshine to our lives and are a feast to our souls.

Finally beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and perspective is what makes all the difference.!

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Journey 

images (3)I have always associated the word journey with a “Train journey” since for me as a kid holidays meant visiting our native place and the journey to the native place down south meant travelling by train for 2 days.
Today as I am keying in , once again my mind is flooded with the beautiful memories of travelling by the great Indian Railways. I loved to watch the changing landscape as the train chugged from one state to another. The dry arid regions, the lush green forests, the changing terrain, rivers flowing with current,the dry river beds, farms with crops swaying in the breeze , the night sky with millions of twinkling lights from the houses all visible in a single journey of 2 days!!.Isn’t this someway similar to the changes that occur in this “journey of life”?
As a young girl I would love to watch from the window the view after the sun went down and the night set in . As the train would speed ahead , no change in terrain would be visible except for the tiny innumerable lights that dotted the land ( light bulbs from houses) with cool air touching my cheeks. I would wish for the view to continue without a change. But that is not possible. Similarly only the good times cannot continue in life too I guess.
I cherish my journeys that I had with my parents when I was a young school going girl as life was carefree, studies and board exams were yet to show their face. Travelling as a family was so much fun.
Not that travelling now is not fun with my family, kid . But there is a difference- I am a parent now with a kid. The role reversal is definitely very different I believe.
In this journey of life I do intend to undertake more fun filled journeys with my loved ones .I can definitely be a kid at heart if not by age to relive those moments of childhood once again!!

Express Yourself

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Express Yourself!.”

Expressing oneself in today’s world is essential. People bestowed with the gift of the gab ( interesting type and not the type that irritates people )  are indeed very lucky. Although hard skills are required but it is the soft skills that makes one get noticed,  takes one ahead in life.

Apart from the gift of the gab there are some other art forms that people dabble in successfully to express themselves like art, craft, sculpting, painting, music, dance, poetry, story writing etc.  For me drawing comes naturally I guess, I am fond of sketches which depict three dimensional figures. Even a layman can understand such three dimensional sketches. I enjoy visualizing things in space maybe that is why spatial arrangement puzzles and questions attract me.

Writing is something which I find interesting, but my style of writing is very simple .Not everyone will find it interesting. Its again a matter of individual liking/preference.

Finally what matters is to be with people who encourage  you to imagesA48T618Aexpress yourself

Mine your own material

This is in response to Day 17 on writing 101:

Tell us about a time you’ve left an object, place, person, or even an idea behind — and had to move on.

Bombay is a city of dreams. For me too it was, it is.

I spent nearly two decades in this city. I came to this city as a young girl in my early twenties when I got a job. This Metro city has a magnetic effect. Whoever comes here  gradually falls in love with the city inspite of it being called fast paced. She takes into her arms every one who comes to her , and gives an experience of  warmth, struggle, love, independence, exposure and the various other ingredients that are required to experience life.

Its a city for everyone- for the rich as well as the poor. I have always felt that she has a beat, a rhythm, a pulse to her. She is a city who never sleeps.

She gave me – my first job, my first house, my first love, my bundle of joy , friends, an experience and exposure which taught me so many things in my life.  As I started loving the city immensely there came circumstances because of which I had to relocate to another city. I think relocation is not the word- uprooted would be an appropriate word.

My heart was torn. I felt very sad too . Although I moved to another city which is equally very developed but my heart does not belong here.

This was the time I came across the book ” who moved my cheese”?  by Dr Spencer Johnson and it helped me to deal with change in life, It taught me how to adapt to change, how to look at life beyond the comfort zone.

Well, after moving to another city, I try to look at the positive side that the city has to offer me. I did learn couple of things here . I just hope change leads to something better and I manage to fall in love to the new place too.

Although Politically its called Mumbai now, for me it will always be Bombay- as that was how it was called when I moved to this city to build my dreams.

For my blogger friends who understand hindi- this is the song which is very apt for me when I started my life after marriage in Bombay

” do  diwaane  shahar  mein,  raat  mein  yaa  dopahar  mein
aabodaanaa  dhoondhte  hai,  ek  aashiyaanaa  dhoondhate  hain”

The Gulmohar Tree

GULMOHAR  TREE

The monsoon is yet to arrive . There is a rain deficit in this region. Some days there is a light drizzle & the place cools up like any other place. It feels so good then and then I don’t bother to think of the drought like situation that the newspapers talk about or the more severe water shortage & power cuts.

There are many Gulmohar trees all around. Summer time they are in full bloom with the red and orange flowers. Its a beaut….i….ful sight. All the more beautiful with the red & orange carpet of flowers on the ground. In fact I have started admiring nature all the more since I moved here . I realize that how studies & work front kept me so busy all these years that time just slipped by..
My twenties & thirties ………..time just flew…… I might talk about it some other time.

when I was in 1st to 3rd grade my childhood was spent in Allahabad, nd I clearly remember there were Gulmohar trees on the road in front of our building . We as kids would play under its shade. Then we moved places and the word Gulmohar took the form of the English text book ” Gulmohar Reader” while in school.

Now, coming back to the Gulmohar trees during my walks I have started noticing the different coloured flowers on the different trees, stopping to admire them, trying to take in as much as I can with my eyes. I have started paying attention to the little details of nature with more interest , like there are different times in a year when different flowers appear on the various trees & I realize how I have missed so much in all these years when I look around . I have started appreciating the different hues of the colour green too with more enthusiasm.

Of all the trees Gulmohar flowers attracts me so much. I am totally in awe of the Gulmohar flowers red, fiery orange & sometimes yellow too. They bring a smile , a feeling of joy and they are a feast to my eyes since a few months.
But,
Slowly the carpet of flowers is disappearing & I in my heart of hearts say a small bye to them every day as I see the flowers receeding in number.
Wishing that I will meet you again next summer

Recreate a Single Day

This is in response to Day 14- writing 101

Recreate a Single Day:
write a post that takes place during one single day
BRAHMA  KAMAL396432_411752092207471_1500494047_n 533614_411751448874202_2032634840_n

It is almost 2 am at night. As I am going to bed ,I realize that it is the little things in life that make us happiest. A simple pleasure  derived from simple appreciation has made me very happy tonight.

Today morning on my way to work I bumped into mausi (elderly lady in Marathi language) . She started talking to me in fluent marathi and I could make out that she was talking fondly about some plant  and it made me  wonder, what is the big deal about a plant!!

At around 10pm , I was in the midst of corrections when the doorbell rang.
It was mausi . She asked me to come down to see the “Brahma Kamal” & offer prayers to the flower. In my heart of hearts I thought-is she crazy?-prayers for flowers !!! that too at this time of the night!!! I told her politely that I would see the flower the next day morning. But she kept insisting that I should come since the flower would not be there in the morning, and I again thought to myself -“how could that be possible if no one  plucks it ! Anyways, I finally had to say-ok

On reaching down there was excitement in the air. There were many ladies and gents downstairs and were talking v excitedly about a flower.  I learnt that the flower starts blooming late in the evening  & blooms fully by midnight and then starts closing down after midnight. Also that this flower bloomed only once in a year which makes it very auspicious. People had been invited to watch this flower bloom .

I must say the sight of the two white flowers which they called “Brahma Kamal” was breathtakingly beautiful. I was seeing them for the first time. They were actually growing from a leaf and not from a stem or a stalk.

The ladies performed aarti  (songs sung in praise of a deity, when lamps are being offered- is a hindu religious ritual of worship) , offered prayers. Tt was celebration time.

I on my part was amazed by all that I was watching around  the– devotion, the knowledge about nature which mausi  had-(which in today’s world is limited to the so called educated ones including me )  the importance that humans in the early ages gave to nature & looked forward to with so much enthusiasm.

I must admit I did feel blessed to witness something like this and be a part of something which had so much importance attached to it. I was glad that I had come to see this “Event”

I came back home and the flower made me google to know more about it. I came to know it is called by another name and not the “Brahma Kamal”, but it is something similar to “Brahma Kamal”- anyways that name was  no more important to me. I was already impressed by the flower.

Over a Cup of Coffee

This is in response to Day 10 on Writing 101:  Today, write an update post in the form of a virtual coffee date.
use a coffee shop as your inspiration.

  • Set your poem or short story in a cafe.
  • Go to your neighborhood spot with your laptop or notebook and free-write for 20 minutes, prompted by what you observe.
  • Love or hate coffee? Tell us why.

I take the liberty to change it to

“Over a Cup of Tea” as I am a tea lover and find coffee, chocolate -anything to do with cocoa bitter!

Over a Cup of Tea

Finally the Rain Gods decided to bring some respite to the region.We were reeling under a deficit monsoon this year. I love the rains. It washes the entire city and in one heavy shower cleans the entire city. I was watching the rain and sipping piping hot tea when my  twin sister  called me up to discuss her vacation plans. After I finished talking with her about the forthcoming holidays I was immediately transported back to my childhood since she mentioned about some places that we had visited as kids with our parents. I felt so good  sipping tea and watching the rain as I was carried into flashback mode.

How rightfully it is said that childhood memories  remain with us for a lifetime .It becomes a part of us and we hold on to the good memories with great fondness.

I spent my early growing up years in Allahabad and Delhi. Those were the days when vacations  were meant to be enjoyed, play outside with friends instead of attending summer camps

I have very fond memories of my summer vacations when we would visit our grandparents home in south India. Travelling by train all the way from Allahabad or Delhi to Trichy involved changing trains at Madras ,  ( I would not prefer to write Chennai but would instead write Madras as that is what it was called then!) and taking another train for the onward journey to Trichy. It used to take 3 days to reach our grandparents home.

As kids the train travel excitement would commence the day the tickets were booked. We are three siblings and we would immediately announce as to who would sleep on which berth. The one who announced first would always want the upper berth . There would also be announcement of who would sit on the window seat first!. Traveling by train used to be fun.

The ticket used to be of thick cardboard and small in size , ( like the one that pops out in a  coin operated weighing machine in a railway station ). It was also a time to look forward to weighing oneself in the coin operated  machine at the station and read the forecast with an actor/ actress pic on one side. That card  that would come out of the machine mentioning the weight will be preserved by us!!

A Surai ( earthen pot) too would be a part of our luggage . Travel was by normal non ac coach and we never ever felt of cribbing or grumbling about the heat.. Amma would carry idlis , lemon rice,tamarind rice,curd rice,vadams and pickle in a stainless steel carrier. The food used to be consumed in the order of their shelf life on the first day . From the second day it was food available in the different stations that were bought. Water was refilled in the surai in a station.

Nobody bothered about using a hand sanitizer, dettol soap or mineral water. Life still went on without any illness.

We would play a game of cards, ludo, snakes and ladders . The co passengers too would become our friends and play with us. A bonding happened during the course of the journey.

I loved to watch the changing landscape as the train chugged from one state to another. Somewhere without our realizing it a learning process was happening simultaneously. We were actually visualizing the  physical features of the land , be it plains,rocks., rivers, plateaus, valleys,vegetation and like a sponge every detail would be getting lodged in our memory.

Even we learnt about food,snacks,fruits that were special to a particular place when the vendors would hop in to sell their items at different places. It was also a learning about the different outfits worn by different people  in India during our journey from north to south or even vice versa.

Getting to learn how to use the Railway timetable book was fun. We would keep asking Amma and Appa as to which station was approaching. We learnt about big stations being called as ” junctions”.

We would pass by tunnels,rivers, thick vegetation. , bridges.

Throwing coins into the river was another fun activity that we looked forward to. Since a river is considered to be a Goddess, the significance of throwing a coin into a river is like an offering to the Goddess.

The innumerable trips up and down the ladder would be so thrilling when trying to reach from one level of berth to another.!

My parents have given me a beautiful childhood . There are memories of different kinds. But the journey by train is something I cherish a lot. It was a time to bond, learn, spend more time together , play, watch the world outside.

The ” Jayanti Janata express” ( Allahabad to south) and ” The Grand Trunk Express” ( Delhi to Madras) have left their imprint in my mind.

On nearing Madras , we would sing the song ” Madras nalla Madras”.

Our relatives would be waiting at the station to receive us  and would give home  food packed for our onward  journey to Trichy. Sometimes it even meant changing station in Madras.

We would bid goodbye to the surai in the train itself which had helped us in giving cold water to quench our thirst in the summer heat

From Trichy it would be a bus or bullock cart to the village where my grandparents stayed.

We never felt the journey tiring or boring. These are memories that are etched in my mind and I cherish them.

At the same time it sometimes makes me wonder  if the current generation is missing something like this? Because for them vacations and travel both have taken a new different meaning!!

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The rain was still pouring as I mentally drifted back from flashback mode . But it was a beautiful feeling as the visual images of my train journey with my family kept coming in front of my mind’s eye for quite some time !! So it was a fantastic evening over a cup of tea that I spent with myself!