Thursday, January 26, 2012

My celebrations double on 26th January

A sense of pride engulfed  me when I heard and saw the young Indians of my housing complex perform to patriotic songs. By default, on the national festivals we get to hear patriotic songs and dances everywhere and so today was no exception. But  today when an young Indian(13)  sang all the 14(?) verses of 'Jana Gana mana', The Indian in me swelled with pride and most of us got goosebumps.( our constitution has adapted only 4 paras(?))

Any other day, I would'nt perhaps have  given much thought and would have gone around with my routine, but today the songs and its content really reminded me,  What a beautiful country we belong to!

A small change in geographical terrain brings in a change in culture, language(dialect), customs, cuisine and traditions. Starting from Kashmir to Tamilnadu, we are a country blessed with the ability to absorb other influences and yet  hold our own.

In its historical past,  many rulers have invaded,  plundered  and ruled us and yet we have retained our Indianness. Much erosion has happened, but only at the surface. Inspite of so many religions coming from abroad , the culture of our soil has remained deep rooted and our soul untouched. We have made amazing technological and scientific advances without falling in culture. My knowledge of Indian history tells me that neither have we invaded or destroyed  any culture or country. 

With a rich cultural heritage and science based traditions sometimes it is  sad when many of our own country men don't take pride in our culture, values and heritage. Every country has a culture and I respect other cultures too but it hurts when after a few foreign visits or a few years of stay as NRI in some foreign land, our own people degrade their own fellow men by saying 'Indians are like that only'.

Reminds of the pledge we took in our school and our moral responsibility towards it,
                  "I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage
                                      I shall always strive to be worthy of it"

I once read Mark Twain's quote on India in a magazine some years ago and I had written them in my diary. I googled to find that quote and it landed on a page, where many history makers  had beautiful things to say about our country. Here are the quotes,

We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.
-Albert Einstein

If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India.
Max Mueller (German scholar)

Mark Twain said: India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only. 

French scholar Romain Rolland said: If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India. 

The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday's bear date with the modering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.
Mark Twain

When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous.
Albert Einstein

India - The land of Vedas, the remarkable works contain not only religious ideas for a perfect life, but also facts which science has proved true. Electricity, radium, electronics, airship, all were known to the seers who founded the Vedas.

- Wheeler Wilcox (American poet)

We are proud Indians. Aren't we?

BTW, I mentioned double celebrations in my title. Yes, my family celebrates another  occasion today. Today, 13 years ago my son was born  and I had to record this since he is turning into a teen today.

My love for him -   I can't encompass them in words. But his naughtiness, presence and application of mind,  his maturity, his sense of humour and they way he charms me with his intelligence, the way he  irritates me by dodging and finds excuses not to study   can always be put in words and that could make this post a lengthier one and you would'nt have time for that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A tag and an award from a budding author

 Bhargavi - a fellow blogger, a painter, book reviewer and  now an author  has awarded 'The versatile blogger' award and tagged me to write 7 random things  about me.

Her romance novella is releasing this valentine and she has two more books in the pipeline which would be published shortly. Here's wishing this young author many more accolades. . Just like her blogposts and paintings, i hope even her book touches many hearts.
 Congratulations, Bhargavi. Hope to see you win Booker prize:)

The rules of the award are as follows: 
1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award (Thank you Bhargavi)
2. Nominate 15 other bloggers and inform them of the same
3. Share 7 Random facts about yourself

4. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your Blog Post

All bloggers, who pass by my blog are versatile bloggers and they have been awarded umpteen times, not just this award but many more awards,  but keeping up with the rules, I award this to:-( You can take up the tag if  you wish to, else I can understand because I know many of you have already done it many times, but keep the award)

1)SSStoryteller- My first follower and a great storyteller. Her passion for storytellling reflects in her blog.

2) Maiji (Lalitha Ramakrishnan) - the oldest(83) blogger I know in blogsville. Love to hear stories of yore on her blog. I am a regular on her blog, she does'nt know that I exist.

3)Raji muthukrishnan -  her interesting life experiences  translate into beautiful  and warm posts. She is not regular now with blogging and I miss her beautiful comments on my blog.  

4) R. Ramesh(Global Madrasi) - his short, witty posts radiate positivity and are the highlight of his blog. The way he ties short story or joke to mundane incident is remarkable.

5) Bikramjit Mann - now he is one of the most popular blogger in blogsville. Though settled in UK, it is very clear from his posts that he has left his heart in his Pind(Punjab). Right Bikram?

6) Irfanuddin - Another popular and famous Indian blogger who writes socially relevant posts.Receipient of many awards. 

7) Rama - A lovely home maker whose posts take me around the world. I have armchair travelled to many places through her blogposts.

8) Gils -  We will soon see him walk the ramp of fame. An outstanding creative person  whom i hope to see as an young author, director , lyricist etc. He has more than  500 blog post to his credit.

9)Chitra - She maintains 3 blogs one for her creativity ( jewel design)  called 'Chitra's jewel art', the other her memoirs and the last one her visits to temples on 'My Pilgrimage'. Her first blog could soon become a brand to reckon with and hope to see 'My pilgrimage' as a coffee table book.

10) Swapna Raghu Sanand: Her warmposts reveal how much she values culture and values relationships.

11) Shalini Gowrishankar - This young girl needs to be rewarded for crossing 500 posts and her Monday morning inspiration posts could drive away your Monday Morning blues.

12) Aruna's world - She does'nt know my blog exists. I love the way she laces her posts with humour.

13) Ramesh (Business musings)- A star blogger and an ace business analyst who writes news much before the newspapers do. I don't need newspapers now, business musings would suffice.

14)Ms. Chitchat - Love her beautiful cookery posts.

and last but not the least, its Bhargavi

15) Bhargavi- like a boomerang the award goes back to her. Yes, i had to list 15 bloggers and I consider Bhargavi one and a few more days when her book releases on valentine's day , the whole world will consider her as a versatile author.

Now to the 7 random-isms- 

1) I like listening to radio. Not the BIGfm  or radio mirchi kind,  but the pip...pip....pip..This is All India  Radio kind.
2) I believe and follow natural cure or grandma's kitchen remedies.
3 I can pick languages easily  but one language that i find difficult is Konkani.
4) Long, long ago so long ago was a voracious reader of books, now  i don't read books much, but I do  read on a flickering screen.
5) I am not comfortable with any electronic gadget like note book PC, or operating music system, home theatre, mobiles with advanced features etc., ( Ironically,  i am an electronics graduate and was  part of  3 member team which designed a multilayered  PCB (printed circuit board)(CAD) for notebook computer, double layered  PCB's for onboard satellites (ISRO,DRDO,VSSC) etc., some 17 years ago).
6) I get throbbing headache when I watch movies which have special fx and loud sound like matrix, Jurassic park, 2012,JAmes Bond movies, Robot etc... prefer gentle/ soft musical and comical  movies.
7) I care less for punctuation(bad habit) and let my words flow and don't punctuate properly like sometimes I start a sentence or name  in small letter.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My home of 10 years...

When I landed in this city 1O years back (jan 18,2002), never did I realize that I would stay or stick to this place so long. There was nothing that I liked about this city, the  hyderabadi cuisine, the odour, the colors,  the language(dakhni hindi), the design,  the Hyderabadi traits like laid back attitude, laziness, unpunctuality, the hard water,  the dry weather, My rented home(though it was a brand new home), the shops, streets, hotels, the little kiosks with kebabs dangling…….. nothing I liked …. Nothing… at all.

Today 1O years later,   subtly and without realizing it consciously the city has made me fall in love with it.

After all this city is known as the city of love and was born out of love.

Hyderabad the 400 year old city is  my home for the past 10 years. A city which is a historians delight and its air,  redolent with history. Built for the love for Bhagmati , the fifth king of Golkonda Mohammad Quli Qutub shah founded and designed  the city and named it after her as Bhagyanagar in 1589.  He had decreed that the new city should be "unparalled in the world and  a replica of heaven itself”  and his words were taken literally  and planned as per the definition of the holy verse of Quran’s paradise. When his  lady love joined the royal palace as his queen she was renamed “Hyder Mahal” and Bhagyanagar was renamed as Hyderabad, now the capital of Andhra Pradesh.

 A city of oriental glory, the old city still is  reminiscent of the great days of the Indo-Muslim culture and the new city- a perfect blend of north and south.

Today, like all other Tier I cities, this city too has emerged as a global IT (Cyberabad)and bio-tech(genome valley) major along with retaining its royal cultural identity(old city hyderabad) and  colonial cantonment identity(Secunderabad, though named after Sikandar Jah was originally called Lashkar meaning army camp).

Now 1O years later, the scent, sight, flavor, sound, language and everything about Hyderabad/Cyberabad/secunderabad has sunk into me and influenced me  so much that, I’ve turned into a true blue Hyderabadi.

This post is not a travel guide but a list of things that I have done/seen or observed in Hyderabad.(my experiences and may differ from person to person)

  • ·         The first thing that would perhaps strike about this city is the language. The dakhni language which reflects their laid backness in its usage. You will find them combining the words  aa raha hai to aara , dekh raha hai to dekra kar raha hai to karra   like in kya karra bhai tu?( kya kar rahe ho bhai tu?or the use of ‘ re’ like in kya re? This even spills into English like in what re? Why re?

             From the beginning, I would advise my children not to use ‘re’ in their speech and today they tell me ‘Amma, you told us not to use ‘re’ and now you are using it. Such is the influence.

          Arrey, yes re bhai, this is hyderabadi language. Hum aisaich hain.( we are like that only)( any body interested in this language,  watch rib-tickling movies like Angrez or Aadab Hyderabad and you would know what I am talking about)

  • ·         If you are a person who is in a hurry to finish things first like me, this city would slow you down. Their attitude towards any thing in life is ‘lite le le’.(Take it lightly)
  • ·         The first time I came into the city, we brought our car by road and as soon as we entered the city near Shamshabad, I found we were the only ones who stopped for signal. The rest never bothered. All lights in the traffic signal are green for Hyderabadis. Similarly, we can overtake from any side. Even if, somebody hits you or you hit somebody. It is ‘ lite le le bhai’( take it light, bro) . While driving, you can simply put the left indicator and turn right.

( since jan1,2012, the laws have become strict though and even cars parked in ‘no parking’ are challaned and the tyres are locked to the road)

  • ·       You walk into a shop in a commercial district and ask the shopkeeper who is sipping chai to show you something and he would say. ‘Ruko madam ji, dikhta nahin kya… chai pee raha hoon’. His chai is his priority not his customer. After all they are in Nizam’s land, you see.
  • ·         If you are an early riser and have woken at 6 and your afternoon is somewhere around 12 and you Walk into any shop at 11 in the morning and ask for your need, and the shopkeeper would simply dismiss you  and  say ‘Abhi kula hoon madam, thoda waqt rukna padega’ . After all his subah is only at 11’O clock.
Yes, you will find the city dead before  11 a.m

  •          Ask for directions to any place and the director would say ‘ idharich hai (here only), Seedha jaana, chow raasta aata, left mudna’. And you will find that seedha raasta  is a   5 kms stretch and chowraasta is much after that.
  •      If the party invite says that it starts at 6.30p.m Even by mistake, don’t land at 7.30p.m. Reach there only at 8.30. That is the time sense we follow and yes, now I too follow the same time zone.  What to do, I follow - When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Jokes aside, but seriously these are some of my above experiences in this royal city.

Otherwise this is like any one of those global  cities where you find anything to everything in the branded malls,  Global cuisine in almost all hotels but still if you want to experience the hyderabadi culture, then

Drive around the Signature monument Charminar, you will find Sarojini Naidu’s Poem Bazaars of Hyderabad come alive. The beautiful lanes selling bangles, colorful traditional dresses, the mojris, jhootis, attars, pearls,kundan sets, the ari, zardozi embroidered sets. Especially during Ramzan, the colors that the bazaars display would be beyond the pallete of any artist.  This place retains the essence of  the real Hyderabad, the rest of the city has slowly morphed with times.

I  write about Hyderabad and can cuisine be far behind? Being a vegetarian, I find it difficult to eat at many traditional eateries the city is famous for. For non-vegetarians though, this place is a heaven. Hyderabadi cuisine is cooked with  ‘fursat’(slowly)  and with Mohabbat(love) with rich ingredients befitting a king. The speciality lies in its slow cooking called ‘Dum’ cooking. The signature dish of course is Haleem which is unique to Hyderabad, seconded by the Dum Pukht biryani and its combo Mirch ka salan. Other than these are Irani chai, Irani samosa, Osmania biscuit, Dil Pasand, Dil kush, Fruit biscuits  and the signature desserts Qubani ka meeta( apricot pudding), Double ka meeta( Bread pudding), Dil –e-Firdaus(kaddu kheer) and much more. For vegetarians, try veg biryani at Taj Belsons or Taj tristar(udupi hotels).

 During the month of Ramadan, community kitchens  define the city streets where people gather to cook on huge handis on either side of the roads and haleems are sold in little cups to break their fast. These sights do warm up your heart.( Being a vegetarian, I hate the aroma)

 For a book lover, Abids and King koti are the place to be. It is a haven for second hand books at dirt cheap rates. Books on all topics under the sun from gardening, cooking, sewing to robotics, management and automation, you name it and they have it.

Beach? Our version of Beach is the banks of Hussain sagar  The centre of which adorns a little Island with a huge Budhha . Especially in the evenings with the beautifully lit statue,  the floating hotel Bhagmati, sitting on the necklace road  with the illuminated park hotel behind and feeling the breeze is a costless luxury.(of course, the dampener are the mosquitoes).

If you are a first time visitor heading to Hyderabad for some sightseeing experience, AP tourism covers most of the places but still someplaces have been overlooked like the
unique experience at Lumbini park. Here you can catch,  The history of Hyderabad at the Laserium. The story of Hyderabad to Cyberabad is screened with laser beams on a Water curtain which springs from a fountain. Don’t miss this experience in an open air amphi. The laser beams look lovely under the ink blue sky.

The sound and light show at the emporium of diamonds, Golkonda. You will travel back to the times when Koh-i-noor and Hope were mined. An experience you should’nt miss with the baritone voice of Amitabh Bacchan. (narrator)

Sudha car museum where you will find cars in unique designs (working models) like Double decker, tweety, brinjal, Phallus(lingam), Computer  and many more all designed by a single man called Sudhakar.

Yogi Bear Putt putt park, all play things like swings, see saw are designed with tyres and it has a small golf link for kids to play. Beautifully designed by homemaker Yogita, inspired by a children park in sweden.

and  much, much more define Hyderabad for me today, though 10 years back Brand Hyderabad was IT hit, today it is T-hit( got the drift?).  

Now I am a True Blue Hyderabadi from a hard core Bangalorean, Infact, now my home town Bangalore where I lived all my life looks new to me.

                                  Falaknuma palace reminds of the glory of old Hyderabad

                             The park hotel on the banks of Hussain sagar, A glimpse of  New Hyderabad 

Image courtesy: google

Friday, January 13, 2012

From Grassroots to Galaxies

I walk through the vegetable market yard  to reach my fitness center which is 3.2 kms from my home. Daily truck loads of farm fresh veggies packed with fresh foliage are offloaded in the wholesale vegetable market yard, it is then  auctioned or sold in bulk  to retailers who sell their stocks in the various super markets across the city or on their push carts or little kirana shops.

 Knowing very well that the stocks were sold in multiples of 10 or 100 Kgs, I never bothered to find the veggie rates till the day I watched  news on potato growers on NDTV. The news   showed farmers of Punjab driving their trucks over potatoes on the roads. The reason being they were offered just re 1 /kg from the Government.
Subsequently many such news followed in the newspapers that tomato growers of AndhraPradesh played ‘tomatino fest’ , not with joy but seething with anger because they too were offered Re 1 per kg.

That’s when curiosity got the better of me and one day I tried to check the rates of the vegetables at the yard, at the nearby retail vegetable market( where veggies are supposed to be priced less) and in other supermarkets.

The yard rate of potatoes were Rs 7/kg, in the nearby retail  market was 10-12 and the supermarket quoted 20rs/kg( 20 times more than what was offered to the farmers). Similarly green peas were sold at Rs. 10/kg at the yard ,Rs 15-17 at the nearby market and at the supermarkets anywhere between 40-50/KG. carrots again at 7, 20 and 32 respectively, Okra at 10,24, and 40. 

The veggie rates almost multiplied anywhere between 4-10 times from the grassroot level(farmers) by the time it reached the consumers. It is fair enough for supermarkets to an extent, that some amount of money can be attributed to overheads like transportation, coldstorage, supermarket rent etc., but even the poor  hardworking farmer after  year long work of tilling, ploughing, sowing, irrigating and toiling under the hot sun  with sweat and blood, bank loans,  fertilizer expense has his overheads. He too deserves his due.

 No wonder ,  they direct the ire towards towards the vegetables grown.Today’s news reads that farmers of Guntur burn dry red chillies in the yard. They are sadly burning and crushing their own hardwork. 

The past few days news papers also report that this is happening with paddy, wheat etc… Isn’t this  a criminal waste in a country where 42% of the children are supposed to be malnourished.  No, I don’t blame the farmers here  and we too buy veggies at rates which spiral towards galaxies.
Most of the consumers who are  occupied with their personal and professional work through the week find it tiresome to walk through the veggie market and buy veggies, so many of them  try to source them from supermarkets where shopping is a pleasure or in our own apartment complex  on sundays, where a branded company  known for cigarettes,lifestyle products and food products sells veggies at  exorbitant rates. Every body complains about this but who has a choice?

After all these, I am not spelling who should take control but definitely not a winning situation either for the farmers or for the consumers  like us, but of course, the middlemen are the sure shot winners who guzzle and laugh their way to the banks without any hardwork. 

If you have missed the news check out the potatino fest of the punjab farmers, similarly andhra farmers too played tomatino. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

A rustic crafts village in Hi-Tech city

Handmade  arts  and crafts is generally believed to  mirror the  culture and civilsation of   a region or state.  But in today’s  globalised  world,  where the challenge is to increase the productivity of synthetic products( read made in China ) through technical excellence, traditional creative artistry  using environment friendly raw materials and pain staking workmanship  has been sidelined.

Some organizations and individuals have taken keen interest to  promote such creative artisans and revive Indian art and project it to the modern world. One such creation is Shilparamam  on the periphery  of Hi-Tec city, by the Government of AP .

With MNC’s and 7Star hotel as neighbours, Shilparamam is a rustic  village specially created to promote  the creative artisans and their traditional art from every corner of our country.  It hosts  numerous  fairs, annual bazaars, night bazaars  and crafts festivals  throughout the year and provides the buyers  a market to buy objects of art directly from the artisans without having to deal with the middleman. 

The architecture of this place would remind you of a village with all those beautiful stalls with hay conical roofs, terracotta plastered  uneven walls and painted with beautiful rangolis in white.  The village museum here showcases life as in village of yore. At the switch of a button all the village folks start performing chores like chaffing grains,cooking on chulha, grinding with grinding stone, pestle mortar, weaving yarns into clothes etc.,

Spread over 50 acres of land, it has a multipurpose auditorium called Shilpakala vedika which stages concerts, folk dramas, an amphitheatre, a miniature village museum, art gallery,  cultural  and artistic workshops, eateries serving traditional cuisine and place for recreation like boating and live shows. Festivals are celebrated here in the most unique and traditional way. It is a perfect place to getaway and connect our touch button generation to the roots of our rich heritage.

Though many fairs take place regularly, the one that happens in the last fortnight  of December is a major event(Dec 16- Dec31) called THE ALL INDIA CRAFTS MELA and attracts heavy crowd and sales.

It is also a pleasure to shop at such haats than malls for a change because these haats are also a haggler’s delight and there are no middlemen involved.

In short, visiting this place would make you feel as though you have taken an All india tour of Indian crafts and textiles. The only negative point about this haat is that there are no ATM's or swipe card machines so have your purse loaded or you will miss many best buys.

 Sharing with you some photos clicked at the haat with an alert that this is a long visual post but would be nice if you view them till the end. ( all photos clicked by me in my camera mobile, so excuse the clarity factor)

The entrance to Shilparamam

Jute craft of West Bengal

                                                  Mithila paintings( Madhu bani) of Bihar

Brass craft of Tamilnadu

Dhurries and table mats from Bhuj, Gujrat

                                                                  Patchitra   of Orissa(?)
                                                             Beyond the spectrum of Rainbow (pattachitra on wooden bottles)

Beautiful weaver bird nest and nest wreaths. No clue from which place? Do you know?

                                                          Dyed     Dry flowers of North East

                                         Loved this Brindavan and the beautiful rangoli. Throughout shilparamam you will find all the stalls,and other places plastered with terracotta red and decorated with such beautiful rangolis.

                   Bargained the earthy walnut wood chair for half the quoted rate and now adorns my home.

furniture made from bamboo

Carvings of neem wood painted with earthy colors make a beautiful show piece reflecting our culture

                                            Leather lampshades and wall puppets of Andhra Pradesh
                                                 Stone craft of UP(?)

                                                                   Marble craft from Rajasthan
Kondapalli toys of Andhra Pradesh

                                                                   Glass art of UP
                                                  Minakari  crafted on Brass metal of UP

                                               Aurangabad Batik prints

enormous patience, dedication and concentration must have gone into crafting this beautiful door made from Red Sanders wood unique to Tirupati and Srikalahasti

Yes, please 'Don't Tuch'( hyderabadi english)

                                     Red Sanders (Marapacchi) Ganeshji awaiting make up.One day i want  a replica of this to adorn my beauty wall separting my drawing and dining room (cost 60,000INR),  not such an expensive one but one made of papier mache.I am on the look out for this.


                                Thanjavur painting of  Tamilnadu. Very expensive art, cos  it is made with gold leaf and real gems.  A piece of this art would infuse your home with divinity and warmth.

                                                                 Terracotta figurines to adorn your balcony or sitout
                        Glazed pottery - brindavan, plant holders, key hangers and nest draws for storing spices
                                               Terracots objects of art and porcelain crockery at the far end.
                                     Urulis, figurines and knick knacks to add beauty to the corners of your home.

                                                                          terracotta again
                                          A slice of shilparamam, at the far end the glass and chrome building  is its neighbour Cyberpearl housing GE