Sunday, January 26, 2014

Some ageless gifts

This post was originally conceived for blogadda contest “ five gifts for your child to make his/her life secure”, but I missed the December deadline since I had other priorities. I decided to complete, edit and not stop at 5. I have a reason to publish it today. While the day is special because India celebrates Republic day, there is another reason for me to celebrate today . Before that, the post which many may find as incoherent ramblings of a parent.

All of us parents want to give a life of bliss for our children. There is a lot that we as parents change, give up happily to raise our children and make their life happy and secure. I believe we can raise them only till a point, after that the children are able to make their own decisions based on their upbringing. We can’t be around them all the time or keep them away from the harms/ shield them. I believe, The quality and quantitative moments that we spend during their infancy/ childhood/ adolescence and the value system with which we raise, is what will help them shape up into a strong individual. So,

It is the non-material gifts as parents we gift our children that lasts in their memory and has a positive effect on their lives.It is with great pride that I see both my teenagers emotionally, physically, spiritually and socially strong and his status always reads “ I am happy” .

Apart from the material gifts , we have gifted them lot of memories and non-material gifts and will always be gifting more. With just one purpose to have contentment, happiness and peace in whatever they do some of which I am listing here:

· To the best of our abilities, we are giving them a good upbringing to realize their fullest potential by helping them develop physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Our love has not pampered them but created them.

· As parents, we have inculcated in them the value that success does not mean being no. 1 and accumulating wealth, but it is in being healthy and finding happiness in the micro joys of life.

· We hav’nt taught them to run the rat race, but we have encouraged them to do their best and raise the bar each time they do their best.

· The best education ( school) that is possible within our means which gives them power to think and the freedom to use their intelligence.

· In today’s world, stress and pressure are indispensible, but they are spiritual and it is heartwarming to see them take deep breaths and meditate . Thanks to our prayer time and meditation time like gayatri chanting, deep breathing, thorpukaranam etc.,.

· Good exposure to co-curricular activities , outings to various workshops, trips to temples, historical, natural and cultural heritage sites have taught them learning does’nt happen in class room alone, for we believe horizontal exposure is the greatest classroom of life and will help them find their expertise.

· They have been taught the value of money. They don’t splurge much buckling to peer pressure and know the economics very well. Now at times, even when we miss to see the price tag, they check the value of the product against its worth.

· The yearly vacations they spent not at upmarket holiday resort or summer camp but at their grand parents home / GG parents home surrounded by loads of grand aunts, grand uncles , uncles, aunts and cousins are where they learnt the value of relationships. Today the relationship bonding is so strong that it takes care of their emotional stability.

· Encouraging friendships with peers have helped develop a good support system in friends  and has also  built a great network for them. Ofcouse, they know well how to handle bad peer pressure. They know that any activity which their parents would never have approved of is bad peer pressure.

· Communication skills is the need of the hour and as a parent it was our duty to make them proficient in the art of communication. We can only achieve what we have set to by being confident, vocal enough to voice our opinions fearlessly. Today, if they know the good from the bad it is because the communication channels between us have always been open. There is no awkwardness when we talk of taboo topics.

Of course, there are many more spheres where work is pending and many gifts will follow. Parenting that way is never ending, more so when they are in their adolescence. In this age, they are neither treated as young nor as adults. Being a child is easy; being an adult would be easy too. But, being an young adult is very challenging emotionally. As, parents we have to strive to be their emotional anchor.

One of the sweet-bitter moment of life is when your little ones grow up and outgrow us in all aspects of life. The little ones, other day who played , slept with you huddling and listening to stories and followed you like Mary’s little lamb over shoot you In height, stand over your shoulder , strike mature conversations about politics, life, technology etc As, I sit and type here I recollect their play time with...

Bakugans, Bey blades, Barbies, doll houses, cars, Caillous, Cliffords, Noddys, story books, CDs……..

Where did the years go?

FIFTEEN years!!!

OMG! Sunny boy turns 15 today!! Oh yes, we are celebrating his 15 years today with a home baked cake.

For him, his 17 year old sis has already set a precedent. Each year that went by must have added a layer of good foundation to make him such a sensible boy with terrific maturity and an amazing sense of humor.

It won’t be long when they leave the nest. In today’s scenario, where most children make up their mind to go for higher education and jobs to places away from home, this parenting is a short period. During the first few years they are completely ours. Once they fly away from the nest and build a life of their own, we become a part of their life. It is the value system which we gift that will help them steer from then on. These roots of our relationship if strong takes care of our child’s life even when we are away.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Numaish Masnuaat-e- Mulki - An Indian af'fair'

Talk to a global Hyderabadi anywhere in the world and say “Numaish’ and immediately there is a chance of he going ‘Awww' and  start reliving his childhood memories where they brought their favorite dress, vegetable chopper, pop corn popper, ate pink cotton candy, rides on the giant wheel, merry-go-round etc.,

Most of us would have had such childhood times at an exhibition, but for an Hyderabadi it is an All India industrial exhibition called Numaish. For them, it is an institution in itself for all things hyderabadi. Every January 1, the mela opens up and throws off gear the resolve of all those hyderabadis who have made a resolution of spending money thriftily.

Numaish Masnuaat-e-Mulki , popularly called Numaish has that mesmerizing effect on any hyderabadi. The title literally means exhibition of locally made products like cottage industry which includes stalls of men and women prisoners. But,  today it is  also a window to heavy industry, trade and commerce . It has 2500 stalls catering to 25 lakh visitors. Now, its reach has increased beyond india and brings in participants from Pakistan, Iran, Turkey etc.

Originally in 1938 ,it started as a ten day fair with 100 stalls and was a platform for the traders to showcase their goods and services to the consumer . What started as a result of discussions by the Osmania Graduates association to raise funds for conducting economic survey of the then Hyderabad state has now turned into world’s longest exhibition for 46 days and completes 75 years in 2015. Even now, the proceeds go to educate the economically backward of the region.

If you are an Indian,  who is allergic to desi stuff and buy branded phoren maal at malls, this place is not for you. But, if you heart desi things, haats, mela and fairs then this place is for you.

The range of products starts from branded consumer durables like fridge washing machine , fabrics, kitchen utilities, accessories and many more to the smallest item of a safety pin . Competing with these branded FMCG  is desi or locally made ones like portable geysers, washing machines and other innovative utilities. The last time I went to this exhibition in 2010,  I found a simple desi washing machine. A portable motor fixed to the rim of a bucket full of soap soaked clothes. The motor churns and tosses the clothes in the bucket and knocks the dirt out of the clothes. So simple! Space saver too!!

Of course it may not be durable or practical for a family but definitely a boon for all those working men/women who stay in hostels or on the move and don’t want to invest more. 

One of the high points about this mela is, don’t ever take the “FIXED PRICE” boards seriously. No haggling talent required, Just ask in simple hyderabadi “ Accha bhai, aakhri daam dene ka bolo” and the stall owner would say “ woh bhi aapich bata do, madam” and without any fuss bring the rates to half drastically  or even below that and he will ask “ kaunsi color chahiye aapko”. That is the beauty of Numaish. You get them at dirt cheap rates.

As one goes shopping around in the open to sky expo, one can have a quick bite of all those desi street food like chaats, kababs, puffs, irani samosa ,jalebi, different types of hyderabadi biscuits and unwind at the various amusement rides.

One can see many childish like adults enjoying the amusement rides like the giantwheel, merry go round, toy train and awe at the 'maut ki kuan'( the well of death).

Overall, a nice place to unwind with the family, where you can indulge the child in you and relive your childhood memories , not just in Numaish in any mela or local fair. 

Many think these crowded set-ups are passé and we have come a long way in terms of shopping like e-shopping. In these days of globalization and transportation, we get Kashmir products easily in kanya kumari and the products of WB easily in Gujarat. Why,  even overseas products are easily shipped home. 

But these types of mela’s and Numaish are a great place to enjoy and learn  and this is what distinguishes one city from another or else there will be no difference when we walk out of Shoppers stop at Delhi or at Hyderabad buying the mass produced branded products. 

These are a typical Indian affair in its real sense. But,  one has to think twice before buying those demo products like   vegetable slicers, chilli cutters, knife sharpeners etc.,

What are your experiences in your local mela? What have you brought and kept unused?

                                The branded consumer industry at display. This year's speciality is the display of Hyderabad Metro( photocourtesy- google) 

.                                       wood crafts from UP

terracotta from kolkata
jute stall from kolkata

Most artisans pitch tents and cook in the ground, the stalls are active only after 4'o clock

hand bags from kolkata

                                   Khurja pottery from UP

the lucknowi  stall selling chikankari work

The trinkets and chunk jewels at display

                      Stall of an ex-service man selling kashmir nut and  spices

The well of death( google image)

                                                India's answer to London eye, the giant wheel ( google image)
P. S; the rest of the photos are mine clicked during my visit in  2010. Actually, even i have been here only 3 times in my 12 years of stay. Parking is a pain here. Tomorrow I  complete 12 years of my stay in Hyderabad.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Jallikattu - an ancient bull wrestling festival

 Come mid January and the  whole of India basks in the colorful aura of festivity surrounding the harvest and Indian version of thanksgiving festival.  The sun’s transit from Tropic of cancer to tropic of Capricorn is celebrated under different names  with differing customs and traditions across different communities of India, predominantly the farming community.

There is one region which along with celebrating the harvest festival braces itself to receive cultural tourists for an unique pongal related sport called Jallikattu. Jallikattu, a 2000 year old bull wrestling festival held in the southern region of Tamilnadu around Madurai districts attracts tourists from India and abroad.  
                               Image courtesy: Google

Open grounds in this region  are barricaded with bamboo  logs  and  transformed into gladiator arenas. A ferocious bull of the kangeyam breed is decorated with colorful ballons,flowers, ribbons  and kunkum.This bull bursts from its pen into the arena with its colorful razor shop horns. Bundles of money are tied to its horns, which can be taken by anyone who dares to do so. Some men scramble away while others launch themselves on the bull’s back. One by one, the bull flings them off and thunders through the ground. The winner is the person who tames the bull  and reaches the winning post. He gets hold ofthe prize money tied to the horns and all the goodies through the year like cash, watches, garments etc.,. Sometimes, more than one bull is released into the arena.

  A sea of people bubble up to watch the electrifying event. There are commentators who give commentary punctuating  the already charged atmosphere with tension and goad the men to run for the money.  

 Although similar to the bull fights of Spain , this is older and there is one big difference. Unlike the Spanish fights, the bull is not killed here. Thus making it one of a kind in the world.

Only daring men take part in this game. The villagers see it as a sport to display their macho power, there is a huge drawback though. This is believed to be a dangerous sport in that there are many casualties sometimes the men are fatally gored, and the raging bull runs amok killing spectators. The supreme court had banned jallikattu a few years back but revoked the ban  owing to its popularity but subject to some rules and regulations. The bulls are subject to a round of screening.  Police and medical help with ambulances are all around. 

For those of them, who fancy to make their travel experience a little out of ordinary, this spectacle can provoke various feelings ranging from excitement, thrill, shock and anger.  But the show goes on every year.

 Here's wishing you all a happy Lohri, Pongal, Sankranti, Uttarayan, bihu or whatever be the name:)  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A simple leisure visit to an out of bound retreat

The arterial main road near our home witnesses high security restrictions  in the last 10 days of December.  This year too was no exception.  The  gun toting security police on either side were very vigilant and active in enforcing rules.

 We as usual tried to park in front of the now shutdown odyssey building where there was ample car parking space.  Adjacent to that was the vegetable shop where I wanted to buy vegetables.  But the gunmen politely told us to remove the car. No parking  allowed anywhere on the road not even in the parking space.  Nobody is allowed to even shop in the busiest shopping area for long.” Keep moving” was their mantra.  The restrictions, the vigil all thanks to the President’s convoy which would be taking that route to  reach a heritage palace tucked away in the high security cantonment area of Bolarum in Secunderabad.

Yes, this is where the First Citizen of India has his traditional southern sojourn in the last 10 days of Decemberr.

The  palatial  retreat called ‘Rashtrapati Nilayam’ is the only Presidential retreat in the South of India. Situated in 90 acres of plush greenery, the 2500 sqm centrally located magnificient retreat is single storeyed and has three wings – the president’s wing, family wing and ADC wing.

The most interesting feature of the Rashtrapati Nilayam is the 50 metre long ventilated tunnel that links the kitchen to the dining hall.  This tunnel was built for the safety of the Nizam who was worried that his food could be poisoned by  his enemies.

The building has a little history behind it. This was initially the residence of Chief military officer during the Nizam’s period when Sir Salar jung was the Prime minister and Bolarum was one of the military cantonments of the Nizam government. It later served as the residence of British viceroys . After independence, it again came under the control of Hyderabadi Nizams and later after the merger of the state with Indian union, the government converted it into a resort for the stay of the president.

Since 2011,  the out of bounds retreat and the beautiful garden surrounding the building is thrown open to public but only for the first 10 days of January.

It has  20 rooms in all, a cinema hall, a huge dining hall with regal chandeliers.

Rain water is harvested here resulting in substantial rise in ground water level. Efficient water irrigation and drip irrigation and other eco-friendly practices are observed here.

So, if you are here  on  a leisure visit to  Hyderabad during this period  and  if you  love to luxuriate in the lap of nature, take a trip here. The huge well maintained estate is a nice place to take a stroll and reflect with an aural treat from the sweet calls of the birds and the rustling leaves for company.

The crisp herbal air from the 116 species of medicinal and aromatic plants  called "Nakshatra vatika" will tingle you and make you feel good.  There is no sign of consumerism or commercialisation here. No entry fee. No branded chip packet sellers or no cola gola outside the gate. You will find only the hyderabadi selling kulfi , roasted peanuts or  channa batana in paper cones.

Also, don’t expect grand architecture or grand entertainment, it will just be a simple leisure visit to a lung space in a city, but a worth remembering one.

All photos taken by my children during our 2011 visit.

Monday, January 6, 2014

When dreams take flight........:)

There are times, when I simply sit in front of the system and incoherent ramblings of my mind  flow through key board and there have been times when thoughts have simply simmered in my mind for years  and have never been translated into blogposts.

Sometimes, it requires a prompt from Indiblogger or product promoters  to make posts like Ancient knowledge to raise healthy generations, the peerless green couple, aromatic memories of the past, or the gourmet party to bring out those thoughts.

These posts were written, re-written and edited before it reached the final stage. Although they were rewritten many times, I never used any reference books as they were a part of my life.
 The praise or prize alone is not the bait for such contest entry( although I wish I win, I know there are many creative and talented bloggers out there ), the other reason is the massive reach these posts get because of the contest.  

For instance, the  online shopping contest entry talking about indian  return gifts(tamboolam)  had 4000+ views  and i am glad my idea of projecting thanjavur cuisine   had more  than 2000+ views and it reached the premier kitchen brand of India - ITC.  Not many know about Thanjavur cuisine or culture, When you say tamil food most would relate to idli, vada, sambar or may be chettinad cuisine.

 All that apart,for my own personal and soulful development, as well as to enrich and enhance my  thinking/knowledge, there are times when I write a topical post. These passionate posts on culture, traditions etc., sometimes i wish,  had massive reach, hence my contest entries

How I wish my posts like The power of chanting mantras (240), on a stone bench under a shady tree(266), heritage homes(486) ,bidriware(482) which showcase our culture had more reach.( they were not contest entries)

Not just culture, even posts on travel like tranquebar, Shimsha, Somnathpur, the temples like that of thiruvalanchuzhi (ganeshji made during sagar manthan) did not have massive reach because my posts are not promoted on  my social sites or networked blogs. The link on the network will be a hindrance to my privacy since my neighborhood is on my social network. AlThough, 
I  try to promote my culture and travel post on a international site so that the glory of india is known.Some of us rely for inspiration on quotes, photos, meme, real life, news, while some like me use prompts like these.

Sometimes, I virtually live my dream through blogging.  "Exploring Europe by Eurail" was one such. To make this post, I had narrowed down on the theme as slow travel but had to do research on the eurail connecting countries. I then again narrowed the cities, read about them and spoke to people who had traveled down there. I just not enjoyed writing that post but simply grew richer in knowledge. While making the post, I almost felt I had been to Europe, such was the feeling. Blogging that way is truly enriching. 

Praise, Prize or no Prize, i consider myself a winner whenever i make such soul satisfying posts.

Well….. what am I justifying by writing all these now? …. Ok…Ok…. Without further ado… Let me justify my  post title........ here’s announcing the “Happy news”:)   

I have been declared the winner of the “ Creating Happy Travelers” contest for the above  dream post" Exploring europe by eurail". Here is the link. The results were declared on Dec 21st. I was awaiting an official confirmation from indiblogger, but I understand from indivine it takes two months to get the prize. I could’nt wait that longer to disclose to you, my well-wishers. A special thank you to all of you who leave such beautiful , insightful and encouraging comments on my contest posts. It does push me to do well. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Apart from the regulars, Those bloggers whom I have never even known before had such beautiful messages saying that the win was well deserved.

 Thank you people for the goodwill and warmth shows what goodhearts you all are.

So, that was the "happy news" :)  that i mentioned couple of post back.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Youngistan!!! - Design the destiny of your nation

There are a millions of problems in a developing country like ours. Apart from the population, unemployment, poverty there is host of problems like total lack of transparency, rupee slide, accountability, steep rise of prices, human safety and security especially for women, communal politics, corruption and other problems.
To put the country on the path to success and build our nation, we need to elect good leaders who can take the country forward. For this to happen, as a common man,  we need to exercise our franchise and give a democratic shake up.
In the recently held Delhi polls, many 18 and 19 year olds have not enrolled to vote and nearly 65% of youngistan did’nt  bother to visit the polling booth to vote says another headline.
They seem to be disillusioned by the political system and seems to have lost faith in our democratic system. Otherwise, how else would you explain the same brigade which fights for Nirbhaya  and holds fire torches for "anna uprising'  or august kranti turn cold feet  when they have to vote. The same brigade seems to be very active and patriotic when they have to voice protests over social media apps.
On the flip side, when it comes to voting, we hear them say “ I see no hope for the country”.  “All politicians are the same”(in a negative tone), “ I don’t see any change, all of them are corrupt” , “ we are finished”,” kuch nahin hone wala” “ sab ke sab bekaar”  etc.,.
Not just youngsters  we even hear many elders being cynical and pessimistic.
We need to inspire these youngsters with successful stories.
 Perhaps I feel here is where Indian history is of value. The sepoy mutiny, the Dandi march, the quit india movement,the vellore sepoy mutiny, the rationalist acts of many like Lal, bal, pal and INA of Subhash Bose would not have helped us free from colonial rule if  the "aam aadmi" did not support the leaders then.  Also, marketing and  advertising the rich glorious cultural past of our country  will  instill pride in them. I think no other country can match us in terms of rich ancestral culture, a 10,000 year old history  and modern technological innovations.
Apart from my own country, which won freedom from the hands of The British through non-violent methods, another country whose human spirit inspires me is Japan.
The country which  has seen the worst catastrophes during world war and is periodically destructed by nature has risen like a phoenix each time their enemies strike them, even nature does’nt spare this island nation . The numerous earthquakes and natural disasters crush the country into a debris but not the Japanese spirit. Had they said “ We are finished”, we would’nt see Japan as one of World’s super power today. Every citizen seems to have taken it upon himself to build his nation.    Anybody who knows Japanese history will know that the riches of a nation are not just natural and material resources but human resources.
 And, when it comes to human intelligence , there is no disputing that we Indians are second. Our intelligence infact is best utilized by the developed nations especially through brain drain. We need to work on our nationalism,  responsibilities and discipline to put our country on the path to success and emerge as a super power.
So, apart from  arm chair criticizing and being cynical, Youngistan,  take up the responsibility of building our nation. And as a first step to this,  exercise your franchise. Project the proud spirit of an Indian and build the destiny of the nation.  Whom you vote, how you live can make a difference not just for you but for the coming generations as well. Pessimism does creep in and sometimes the negative incidents around us makes us  wonder that If anything is going to change; but fortunately optimism being the stronger of the two reasons that “Rome was not built in a day”
 Those would be my inspiring words for the youngistan to vote in the Indian general elections of 2014. And the best way to mobilize them or  reach them is through Social mobile apps like Wechat . Almost most youth have cell phones today and have internet  access. So,it would be easy to reach to the urban youth to vote while the remaining illiterate rural youth have to be reached through TV and other media.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Some little joys and some random yada, yada........

The last 10 days of December saw me witnessing some joyous personal  moments.

To begin with:

  • My parents were here on a 10 day visit along with my 10 year old niece. That is a major  joy, but we had some special moments.
  • I was witness to the beautiful bonding moments of the grand children with their grand parents. It was a delight to see my parents learn about computers and downloading mobile apps and games( They liked talking tom specially) from their grand children. For some moments, i was lost, i did'nt know where i belonged, i felt like an outsider during those bonding moments.
  • My dad and mom playing with them board games like daya kattai, chess and games like carrom.
  • My mom lapping up nearly 7 novels in ten days. She is a voracious reader, in between she took off time to make pickles and traditional dishes.
  • My dad, an excellent cook flipped masala dosas  and a special alu curry for his grand children who are great fans of his cooking.
  • Our  trip to Nirmal got cancelled but we had a visit to Lumbini park overlooking Hussain sagar,  we had lovely moments watching the bhageerathi and bhagmati mini-cruise. It was a meditative feeling to watch the water boats along with the cruise creating ripples  in front of Buddha statue. ( we had no time for the cruise as we were booked for the 7.15 laserium show) 
  • Our time at the Laserium ( a laser show which is one of its kind in India) at Lumbini went off well amidst tight security.For the first time, i experienced  such tight security checks, never have i experienced such security checks at the cricket stadium or railway station before.( this was the venue of  the 2007 twin blasts of hyd)  
  • My mom and her cousin( atthai's daughter)  meeting after a long time during her short visit to Hyderabad. Her cousin was in Zambia and later after retirement moved to Coimbatore. But her frequent visits to US to take care of her two sets of grand children saw her being in India for lesser time. So, it was a joyous occasion when they met and talked for hours together about their childhood. 
  •  After a long time, i witnessed the Kids creative event  of our Christmas carnvial. Since my children don't participate any more, i hav'nt witnessed in the past 3 years. This time i took time off since my niece particpated in the greeting card event and was amazed at the children's creativity. Each greeting card looked like a master piece.
  • My daughter gets an allrounder  scholarship of 12K from her school for scoring good marks in Grade XI balancing studies and extra curricular. (She is one among the 3 out of 150)
  • Spoke to all my relatives and friends on Jan 1st till  noon 2'o clock. It was a special feeling and made me feel blessed for having many well wishers.
  • At the countdown party, I had great time with my friends but the oft repeated phrases apart from "Happy new year" were " I wonder how time flies, this year has gone by really fast". Although most of them rephrased or paraphrased the words, the meaning was the same.

Do you also feel the same way? why?

Is it because our lives are fast paced or is it because many of us have no time to pause and contemplate?

Also, I will share with you one more happy news shortly:) Meanwhile,  Any guesses?