Friday, December 17, 2010

Akshaya Patra : Feeding millions !

There is a saying in Hindi "Bhuke pet bhajan na hoye Gopala ".It means that a hungry person cannot pray . The same holds true for every task that needs to be done.No wonder, kids cannot play, much less study, if their tummies are empty.

That is where Akshaya Patra foundation has stepped in & has been providing sumptuous meals through the mid day meal scheme for school children .It started this programme of feeding schoolchildren in June 2000 .From a modest beginning of feeding 1500 schoolchildren,today, Akshaya Patra is catering to 1.2 million children .What a stupendous success ! The number of hungry kids,Akshaya Patra has managed to feed has increased 800 times in nearly 10 years! Initially,Akshaya Patra started operations in Karnataka & today ,it provides mid day meals in 19 locations across nine States throughout India.

All this has been possible because many corporates have tied up with Akshaya Patra to fund the mid day meal scheme in whatever ways they can.Some have provided mobile vans to transport food,some have donated cash & so on & so forth.This has been done as part of their corporate social responsibility.Individuals like housewives,mothers,fathers & even teenagers have also chipped in to do their bit to feed hungry kids.Some volunteer to write ,some do research,still others help raise funds, etc.

The mid day meal scheme in schools has been largely successful so far largely due to efforts put in by NGOs like Akshaya Patra who provide healthy & nutritious food to kids in school.This assists the children to concentrate on studies.Moreover, the poor parents are more than willing to send their wards to school as they know that they will get one square meal only, if they go to school. So ,the mid day meal scheme is able to tackle the problem of child labour as well.If children get free food while they study,they need not work to earn for food.The mid day meal scheme has led to greater enrolment & also attendance at school as children look forward to the free meals ! Even the Supreme Court in November,2008 called up Akshaya Patra to list the efficacy of the mid day meal scheme as Akshaya Patra had already  been implementing its own feeding programme in Karnataka by then.

The food prepared by Akshaya Patra foundation is hygienic as utmost care is taken to prepare it.Most of the food is prepared in mechanised vessels so that less time is needed for cooking,.Mechanisation also minimises food handling by humans to & hence, food cooked is hygienic.It is then transported to the various schools in vans with security in tow to ensure  safety.

Food that is prepared by Akshaya Patra also takes regional preferences into account so that children relish the food.Akshaya Patra has two menus -one for North India & another for South India.It is wholesome & so it is a boon in a country like ours where malnourishment among kids is rampant.Many children in India are malnourished & underweight.The food by Akshaya Patra tackles all the problems of malnourishment & cleanliness.

Akshaya Patra has tied up  with numerous  corporates to fund this mid meal scheme.The success in this venture shows that Public Private joint efforts can make a lot of difference in overcoming  problems of hunger & malnourishment.

Lastly ,the impact of Akshaya Patra has been tremendous.Enrolment & attendance in schools where Akshaya Patra has been providing meals has been steadily on the rise.Even grades of children have improved.This has been shown by a study conducted by AC Neilson Org Marg Pvt Ltd,a reputed survey firm based in Mumbai.This means only one thing -with Akshaya Patra leading the way in implementing the mid day meal scheme, children have a great future !

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.For me,the best part about this blogging is  that this blog post by me will feed one child for a whole year.This is possible, as for each blog post written for #BlogToFeedAChild,  BlogAdda will contribute to Akshaya Patra.This is part of Blogger's social responsibility by BlogAdda.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The intercom rang & it was my acquaintance from the building where I stay.She asked  " Maaya works for you ? " I said that she did but had taken a day off as there was a puja at her mother's place.My neighbour informed me that she wanted to speak to Maaya for enagaging her as a maid at her home.I promised that I will convey her enquiry & send Maaya across to her flat.

My parents were to go for the puja & I told my mother to convey the enquiry to Maaya if she gets to meet her at the puja.My mom forgot about it.I was angry as I knew that Maaya had few jobs now & she needed new ones.

The next day,the intercom rang again.This time around ,it was Maaya.She told me,"I will come to your home around eleven as my mother has not come in today." I said," Yesterday ,Smt.Sharma asked about you.She wants to employ you.Please go & talk to her ,now." Maaya agreed.I had urged her to go & meet Mrs.Sharma that moment as she had narrowly missed another job a few days ago as she had got late.

Maaya has been with me since seven years now.Though she is dark,she has a  face which is pretty & lights up as she wears a smile all the time.I wonder how she can grin & bear it all.

She was married off to her elder sister's husband as soon as his wife expired as the kids needed to be looked after.She also has her own kids .Her daughter ( her sister's child ) was married but soon,she returned home owing to ill treatment at her husband's home. Maaya then paid a fortune & got her admitted to a nursing college so that she would remain enagaged in something useful.But after completing the course successfully,the daughter refused to go & join as a nurse anywhere .Maaya keeps telling her daughter that she can keep her earnings to herself but she must go for a nursing job so that she can feel confident.But so far ,the bitiya has refused to obey.Her neighbours opine that she has been so fortunate to have a mother who thinks only of her daughter's well being in such trying circumstances but to no avail.Maaya has yet to repay the loan which she had taken for her daughter's wedding which went wrong !

Maaya has never complained that she is the second wife.She is happy though she is more educated than her hubby.She is the only one amongst four sisters to complete schooling upto twelfth standard.She even applied for a Railway job but drew a blank as the exams she gave were cancelled for some leakage of papers.

She cooks for all at home before she leaves home for her maid servant's job.Her mother-in-law is an invalid & she needs looking after.Maya has three sons ( two of her own ) & one daughter who just lazes at home.Her hubby & eldest son are employed as drivers.Her hubby had met with a near fatal accident some years back but is back on his feet now .

Maaya used to do lot of vrats & upvaas -so much so that every alternate day,she was off food.This has led to severe acidity & insomonia.She has become obese because of this habit of fasting.Thankfully,now she has given up many vrats .She also suffers from aches & pains every now & then but I never heard her whine even once about her physical ailments.I only come to know that she was having severe pain in the neck when she said that she was taking a day off to go to the hospital for an appointment.

She is most sought after for her services as she goes about her work with utmost sincerity.That is why when her mother went to ask Mrs Sharma if she could work as Maaya was busy elsewhere,Mrs Sharma curtly said ," Let Maaya only do the work at my place as I had a face to face talk with her." What she omitted to tell Mayya' mother is that she had been impressed by Maaya's cleanliness at her neighbour's home wherein she had worked for a brief period.This she  divulged to me when she rang me up to ask about Maaya's whereabouts on the intercom.

Though Maaya's mother can hardly be compared to Maaya in virtues,one must give full credit to her for having brought her up so well that Maaya is an asset to all ! This includes those households wherein  she works.She scrubs the toilet which she uses for filling the bucket for floor wiping ! This despite the fact, that, I have still to employ her for cleaning toilets at  my home .She will always clean the tea kettle which I have used for making tea for her, unlike, her mother .She will always take off by informing beforehand.

She is someone who emapthises with fellow maids .She lost a job at a beauty parlour as another maid got there before Maaya  could  go & meet the owner. Maaya was composed  as she opined,"I am garib & so is she ."This positive attitude has stood Maaya through all these turbulent times.Perhaps, she believes, that the Brahamand is a Mithya -an illusion just like her name ! She has  understood the Bhagvad Gita without even reading it .I wish I could say this about myself.Maybe, her association with me will make me comprehend  that all the world is  Mithya with certain exceptions.As a clichéd saying goes to state exceptions prove the law more than anything else.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Left overs

I have constant arguments with my hubby about eating out .This is so, as I, usually cook the day's food in the mornings itself.In the evenings,if he says, that we can all eat dinner out ,I fume.I feel cheated after slogging in the kitchen.I know, that sometimes,my cooking is bad but then,why does anybody have to be so blunt about it by suggesting dining out ? Moreover, what should I do with the leftover food ?

No,I don't take hints howsoever openly given.I will try to find some recipe & give the leftover a new twist ! Leftover idlis can be crumbled into powdered form.Then, one can add a seasoning or vagaar of mustard seeds,urad dal,hing & haldi.One can also add fried onions & green chillies to get a little crunch & viola ,one can savour idli upma ! I swear, that this tastes better than fresh idlis due to the added veggies & oil !

Leftover idlis can be diced &  fried- just like potato wedges & served with chutni and or sambhar.This is sinful as the idli pieces are deep fried but then, we need to sin, otherwise, how will we ever atone  ? Moreover,since ,we rarely remember the Almighty,we need  to sin & then plead  for forgiveness.Sinning in terms of eating fried  food wins hands down in this  health conscious ( though practice has yet to catch up with the awareness )  age .

Idli batter can also be used to make dhoklas .One of my friends is an expert in making dhoklas & she vouches for the taste of idli batter dhoklas.It is also light as this is a steamed dish similar to  the  idli.

I make an upma of leftover chapatis as well.This is  typical Maharastrian fare & I love it ! Left over chapatis can also be made into laddoos by adding little ghee & gur  or sugar.I have tried to make this but have been unsuccessful so far.I tasted such laddoos once & believe me, they were heavenly ! It is said that leftover food at home is umpteen times better than fresh restaurant food ! Just goes to show why we all fall for restaurant food ! It is only leftovers ( how old is any body's wildest guess ) ) packaged to look presentable.On second thoughts,eating leftovers from home will prepare us better for withstanding restaurant food -as fresh as it was !

I once added kheera-tomatar-pyaaz raita to dosa batter .Then, I made uttapas with the batter thus prepared ! So ,one can get creative with kal ka khana.Mind you, the uttapas, were full of nutrition & yummy !

Many housewives add leftover dal to atta & make protein rich parathas for kids ! Sour buttermilk or curds can be converted into  delicious kadhi ! Sour buttermilk can also be used as a growth enhancer for the kari patta plant.My neighbour had enlightened me that sour buttermilk is beneficial for the curry leaves plant.I would pour extremely sour curds ( diluted with generous amounts of water ) in  my padosan's kitchen garden which had a kari patta plant.In turn,my neighbour, used to allow me to collect fresh sprigs of kari patta for my cooking ! So ,bassi khana has multiple uses !

I recall an ex -colleague recycling old pedhas .She would add chikkos &  cream & make sumptuous  chikoo ice cream !

Many rural folk feed bacha hua  khana to cows but since in cities,this may not work out,it is better to have a complete makeover of the leftovers. Moreover,with food prices shooting up alarmingly,this is necessary for  a financial makeover as well ! 

My dad jokes that in his home,bisi bele bhaath was a dish made from leftover rice & sambar ! Never does he remember to have eaten that dish freshly made .Haldi,hing,green chillies,urad dal ,peanuts & salt can be added to rice along with seasoning of mustard seeds to make delicious Phodni cha bhaath .Phodni in Marathi means vagaar.One can also add little lemom juice & grated ginger to make it more tangy.Gujratis make bhajiyas by dipping rice( leftover ) balls into besan & deep frying the rice balls to which hara dhania,lal mirchi,ajwain ,haldi & hing has been added. These are very crispy & a sure hit at breakfast time !

Leftover bread can be transformed into bread upma or bread patties.The possibilities of utilising bacha hua khana are too immense.I feel, the make overs are more tasty than the original fresh food item ! It is, as if, a zing has been added to the boring food ! I wish some net cook could start a blog only about utilising leftovers.I am sure, it will be rage on the various social networks ! The Government ought to lend a hand by  givings loans & other support to such noble ideas ! Noble as these recycling fundas utilse food which is getting scarce .Worldwide food prices are rising & millions go hungry.Recycling food ensures that food is seldom thrown away. This will ensure, that, complaints about food inflation will reduce to a whimper.Not that   our loud protests,  so far, have  made our Government lend any ear but then, we ought to  be positive ,forever . 

That is why, I have started cooking, more than needed by my family.This way,I am sure ,something, will remain uneaten .I then use my culinary skills to get creative ! My family members are also getting increasingly creative in refusing or rather opting  out of eating my made over dishes ! But then,they are still to learn , what  they are missing !

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Nidra is Sanskrit for sleep .I love sleeping.I wish I could be in deep sleep for hours without the tension of getting up from bed.But, alas, life is not as simple as that & I am forced to get up & get life going.

Sleep is defined as a state of rest wherein one is unconscious.So,in all probablity when we sleep ,we are relaxed without a care in the world .But this is not always so.We undergo REM ( Rapid eye movement ) which is dreaming .We also have fits of sleep & do get up .Some even sleepwalk.But one must admit that sleep relaxes our body & mind.It has been said that deprivation of sleep will lead to death faster than starvation or thirst.Hence ,sleep is very important for our well being-perhaps more than food.

I feel sleep helps in losing weight as well.If someone is awake most of the time,at least once( actually more than once ), that person will reach for some food.This will in all probability, be some unhealthy snack but if the person sleeps then there is no chance of indulging in this unhealthy eating.So ,those of you who want to shed flab,please try to sleep even in the afternoons.This is what the various health clubs  mean when they advertise "No diets,no excercise for losing weight."So why empty your pockets by joining them ? You can sleep your way to a slim & trim figure .

For a good sleep,many conditions are stated.One can drink  warm milk & try to sleep at the same hour .Some even take a light shower .Still others read books.Some may need a quiet atmosphere before their eyes close.It is better to switch off the lights & the idiot box before one tries to sleep as all this helps in creating the right ambience to relax.People who are on medicines are advised not to take  certain medications at night as they might interfere with sleep.

I am someone who has got addicted to sleeping in the afternoon as well.This was not possible when I was in employment for obvious reasons.But now that I am at home,I have got addicted to the afternoon nap.My maidservants also cannot disturb me in this .I hate those who come knocking during afternoons when I am enjoying  blissful slumber.I do have some sleepless nights & afternoons but they are few & far between.

My eyes are almost closed by the time I serve lunch to my kid .I generally cajole my kid to sleep as well.This is because,she will otherwise watch the idiot box which will disturb my slumber .She is no mood to do her schoolwork after her lunch.So I prefer that she sleep instead .Moreover,she gets tired & by late evening,she is ready to hit the bed without having even looking at her school work.The nap thus serves another purpose-it energizes us for the remainder of the day.

My niece is someone who takes offence if I ask her to sleep in the afternoon.She gets up early & is tense till she reaches school.My daughter on the other hand has to cajoled into waking up both in the mornings as also after her afternoon slumber.She keeps on postponing her waking up by telling me that after one or two minutes,she will wake up.These minutes can add up to half an hour.During mornings,my kid is ready to skip her breakfast as also her combing in order to wake up late.Such is her indulgence in sleeping.

My kid can sleep even in a moving vehicle.The movement of the vehicle lulls her to sleep.This is better as otherwise,she irritates by constantly asking us to update the distance we have covered & are yet to cover & so on & so forth.

Till date,I never had to take sleeping pills .Almighty has been kind to me as he has given me the ability to sleep so much.I wish I could sleep for ever but since I have to post my blogs,I have to wake up.Actually,if you are suffering from insomnia ,please try to read my blog posts.Guaranteed, that you will feel sleepy & doze off.I am actually doing social service by posting my blogs as many will prefer sleep to reading my writing.So,you see ,there will less of social strife as a result of all this.

What are you staring at ? Kindly forward the link to my blog to all so that all can sleep blissfully !

Friday, November 5, 2010


We were received at the station by a person who had been updated by the travel agent from Bangalore.We hired four Vikrams to carry all the people as also the luggage to the place which had been booked .We were taken to the Swami Narayan Ashram.They had rooms to let us.We just shifted our luggage into the rooms & hit the bed.We were fast asleep.

The next morning,we were surprised to see the person who had received us at the station at the ashram.He informed us that he is a priest & he will perform the rituals of veni daan.He knew Tamil & spoke it too.This made things very easy for the men in my family as regards communication.We told him that we had already fixed it up with our priest at Allahabad.This made him angry & he refused to budge.This was partly because the travel agent had misinformed him that he should assist in rituals.Another reason,I surmised was veni daan ceremony involves a lot of things being handed over to the purohita who performs it.He also reminded us that he had come to receive us at the station at such a late hour. We somehow managed to convince him that our priest only will officiate at veni daan.There was some cash which was exchanged to cool him down.He in turn,spoke to the ashram attendants to see that we vacated the ashram by that evening itself.

Our priest had called us all at the ghat for veni daan.Veni means hair & daan meaning giving away .So veni daan means giving away hair.In the said ceremony,the husband parts with a small part of the hair of his wife.We enquired from the purohita about the significance of veni daan.He said that sumangali ( a wife ) has no right to a hair cut in her life time.But as per scriptures,all our sins reside in our hair.So by Veni daan,a sumanagali also gets an oppurtunity to get rid of her hair ,in part thereby parting away with her sins.Veni daan has specual significance in Allahabad as there is sanag,m of three rivers-the Ganga,the Yamuna & the Saraswati.I am  someone who likes hair cropped short & have been keeping a short hair style since I joined college.This veni daan just confirmed that I had been right though I had to face stiff opposition from many of near & dear ones !

All the things had bveen kept ready by an assistant of the purohita who hailing from Allahabad spoke in Kannada.He had learnt it so that he could communicate with people from Karnataka.I felt that we could take a lesson from him & learn other languages.After ,our hubbies had cut a few centimetres of our hair,we proceeded to take adip in the sangam.We were all taken in a boat &  reached the sangam in the midst of the rivers.We could make out the Yamuna which has  a darker hue & the Ganga which has a light colour.Saraswati,is invisible & is said to be just joining the two from underground.As we lowered ourselves on the stone platform to take adip,we were surprised by the strong current of the rivers.We just managed to take two or three dips in the water-drowning our heads into the water .We climbed up & the bathing was done.We managed to do all this because of being ably assisted or rather propped up by the boatmen.

In the wet clothes,we reached the purohita's place .We changed into a fresh set of clothes.We then gave away our wet clothes to the purohita's assistant as per the tradition.Then each of us (each  couple ) also gave a set of clothes to the purohita & his wife.This included a dhoti & a nine yard saree.After that,we went to the Mutt for lunch.It is located opposite to the purohita's home.The food was simply superb ! Sambhar had been prepared using karela but it was so yummy that I quite forgot about the bitter taste of karela.Lunch over,we headed back in Vikrams to our rooms at the ashram.

At the ashram,another drama began.The attendents demanded that we vacate the rooms as they had been told about our stay only till that afternoon.We told that even twenty four hours had not passed since we landed at the ashram but they refused to listen.Then my bhabhi called up the travel agent at Bangalore & umpteen calls later ,we were allowed to stay till that night.The Bangalore travel agent aslo transferred money to the ashram account before we were allowed to continue our stay further.

In the evening,five of us went sight seeing.All were unable to accompany us as some were not well & others were too exhausted.We went around in a Vikram & saw Hanuman temple,a Kali mata mandir etc.We also stopped to taste lassi at a namkeen shop.My hubby got some savouries packed for his family so that they could enjoy thenm during their train journey.As some people were not well,they wanted idlis .But we ere unable to get idlis.But nearthe ashram itself,they weree able to buy idlis.

After the sight seeing,we headed to the Mutt to partake of dinner.The purohita's home had Ganpati celeberations going on & they invited us for Bhandara ( grand feast ) at his place.So we cancelled our dinner  at  the Mutt.There was a big crowd for the feast.Ganpati aarti got over & as we were to leave for station,we were served the feast first.There was sabzi,daal,stuffed pooris,chutni etal.Our other family members had also joined us for the bhandara.After we thanked the purohita,we left for our rooms.We packed up our things & left for the statioin in four Vikrams.

I & my hubby were to leave for Delhi in Rajdhani.Other family members were travelling to Chennai from Allahabad.My hubby had booked & cancelled our tickets to Delhi.This, I was able to learn after many attempts.So,I tried my luck in booking tickets at the statiuon.I was able to book my tickets in another train which was arriving at three at midnight.The booking clerk made a passing comment about his happiness.I gave him a hundred rupee note as he had made me happy.We bade our family good bye as we left the platform wherein they waited for their train.Their train arrived just some ten minutes before our train.

We climbed into our Rajdhani.This is the original Rajdhani -from Kolkatta to Delhi.The interiors of the train delighted me .The toilets & seats & the whole train was spic spac.We reached Delhi by ten in the morning.We hailed ataxi & reached the airport.There was a lot of time as our plane was scheduled to fly to Mumbai only in the afternoon.We ate some snacks & just lazed around in numerous shops .My hubby brought a spectacle case as he had lost his case.We did try to book an earlier flight but none was available.

We finally boarded our flight & reached home by half past seven.My kid was delighted to see me & her dad.She hugged me tightly to tell me that she had missed me.I was also equally emotional.We had dinner & went to bed.Next day,we had to be on time for my daughter's school at seven in the morning !

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Promote Your BlogRangolis were drawn to prevent entry of pests into the house in olden days.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gaya & Bodhgaya

We reached Bodhygaya by midnight & took up our rooms in a hotel booked by the Bangalore travel agent.But the absence of lift in the hotel irritated us very much  as we were dead tired.We immediately retired for the night as next day,early morning, the men had to perform Tithi in Gaya for their ancestors .

In the morning,I & my hubby ordered tea from the hotel & others had coffee prepared on the heater which they had carried from Chennai.I remarked  to my hubby, that, his family is so fond of milk that they will just sprinkle coffee to pots of milk & expect me to drink it as coffee ! I for one, cannot gulp milk as coffee.So,I opted for hotel tea.Years of bombarding my hubby with information that milk is harmful has finally made him believe that milk is the most  incomplete food.

My family had carried coffee powder,milk powder ,sugar,etc -all the way from Chennai for consumption during travel.This was because my family is highly  suspicious about the cooks preparing vegetarian beverages whilst handling non-vegetarian food .Moreover some of my family   keep speculating about who must have handled the milk,the coffee & the like.Why they  do not think similarly about shares & stocks being handled by people who consume all -even pigs & cows is beyond me.Bluntly put,people who dabble in shares are cannibals ! They are swallowing   whole  humans with bones & skin et al ! On second thoughts,this is so, as the non -vegetarians are unable to reach their levels of  consumption,that of  man eating cannibals  that is !

The ladies & kids  took bath .We then left for Gaya which was a good half an hour away from the hotel.Bodhgaya is the  place wherein Budha got enlightenment.One can observe a lot of statues of Budha in the lawns of the numerous hotels that dot the place.The Japanese government has also poured money in Bodhgaya for sprucing up that place.For the Japanese,this is a place of pilgrimage .This is so for other foreigners as well ,who are influenced by Buddhist ideas.One can see & meet foreigners on the roads & in hotels in Bodhgaya.

The transport vehicles in Bodhgaya are autos & more popular is the Vikram.It is what one can call as an extended auto wherein there is seating arrangement for nearly ten people.We hired two Vikrams & left for Gaya.Men were to take bath in the river .We landed at the Bodhgaya temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.The temple roof is made of wood & the structure of the temple is  of stone.There were many priests doing shradha ceremonies & rituals for hundreds of people all over in the temple.We entered the sanctum sanctorium wherein one can view the footmark of Vishnu .Pind daaan was in progress there.Many were taking snaps.Still others were trying to touch the foot mark & paying their respects.We also paid our respects.

Men came accompanied by the purohita inside the temple.He made them take their places by the side of the gopuram where there was an elevated platform.The rituals of shradha started. Legend has it that shradha performed in Gaya  is a sure shot way of attaining moksha .The story of Gayasura is witness to this .Gayasura was an asura but he was full of virtues ,no vices.He pleaded to Almighty that in spite of his virtues,he was always being born as a rakshasa. Brahma complained to Vishnu that virtues of Gayasura were equating him with the Devas.Vishnu appeased them all.He put his foot on the body of Gayasura.Whoever does pind daan on the foot mark of the Lord which got crytstallised as stone attains moksha.I quipped to my hubby," In this age also,appeasement is being done.A person who is equally strong is made the Deputy Chief Minister so that there is less problem.Now we know who taught us this method of pleasing all." My hubby only smiled as he has no compulsion to laugh.He was not going to accomodate  me by laughing whole heartedly !

The rituals were nearing completion & the time had come when the participants have to give up some things for life at Gaya.Our family had many discussions on all this giving up.The priest enlightened us," Actually,one must give up greed,temptation,anger,jealousy,etal but since this is impossible for humans,one can opt for easier things." One has to give up a sweet,a vegetable & a fruit.In fact,the item must be one which is liked the most, but humans being very cunning,give up for life whatever they have hardly tasted or something they find tasteless or something which they resent for any reason .My hubby asked loudly what I will give up as he opined  that I will not cook that anyway after giving up. He did nor want to give up something which I will disagree upon.I gave up sweet lime ( I find it tedious to de peel & eat it ), parwal ( I rarely eat it ) & basundi ( rasmalai-I hate all milk sweets -wherein milk is in liquid form with cream ).So ,in effect, I hardly gave up anything for life.One family member gave up Mysore pak.For this,my jeth has a solution.He said ,one can add maida to the besan & make Mysore pak.Then it can be consumed by the person who has given Mysore pak in Gaya as the ingredients of Mysore pak have changed.So,there is always a way /s  out  ! The rituals had ended now.

Then we all headed for prasada-lunch to the purohit's home. The food was sumptously declicious.Then we returned to hotel.In the evening,we came back to the temple.The temple had been scrubbed clean for the Tulsi shringar of Vishnu paada ( foot mark ) .We wanted to buy the printout on thin muslin cloth of the footmark & we got it.The Gaya temple is very spic spac.During day time also,it is scrubbed clean with water two to three times as the pind daan makes the sanctum place very sticky.

The evening at the temple was very pleasant as a group was singing bhajans & there was a  gentle breeze .The stone floor was cool & we strolled in the temple.The next morning, we enquired about vehicles plying to Allahabad from Gaya & sensed that the rates were exhorbitant -more so, as we had already rail tickets for the journey.Rotis were baked on the roti maker ( the advertisements which all must have seen on the idiot box ) in the hotel room in Bodhgaya.I was afraid, that the hotel may raise objections but they just looked away.My family ate the hard chapatis & sugar & chutney powder.We also had poha & dahi..Our tummies full,we departed for the station at  Gaya .

At Gaya station,my bahbhi & her hubby took ill-they vomitted.The train was late.So we all just sat on the platform & waited.Cool bottles of soda were purchased to aid digestion.All the family had it as prevention is better than cure.Some apples were also consumed.As we waited,a zip repairer came on the platform.My family got some luggage zips repaired.I got my sandals stiched.So,he made a killing in one hour.Many others also got their bags repaired.

Finally our train arrived & we left Gaya for Allahabad.We had second class compartment tickets as the travel agent had opined that the journey was very short.But nobody was able to rest with their feet stretched.We reached Allahabad by around eleven ,dead tired.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Promote Your Blog
Rangoli tradition is supposed to originate from " Chitralakshana'-the collection of writings on paintings in India.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Promote Your Blog

The next stop of our yatra was Varanasi,a city which has been continuosly inhabited since  ages.We were in train & in air conditioned comfort.oing piuja.Now,we were in the plains & so the topography had changed.There was elephant grass from which mats are made .Thse mats are used as asans for performing holy rituals.

We reached Benares in the afternoon.At the auto stand itself, there was a big argument. My jeth phoned his travel agent in Bangalore who had booked rooms for us at a hotel.The hotel name was heard as Van Shri .The rikshaw wallahs insisted that the said hotel was very far. My jeth said  that it was just a stone's throw away from the station.Since we were getting stranded at the station without the argument coming to an end,we requested that we be transported in the autos to the hotel with our extensive bags .We were on our way & we indeed found that the hotel was very near but there was a hitch. The hotel 's name was Vani Shree. The auto wallahs had a good laugh as they repeated that my jeth had named another hotel .In all this fight,I had to intervene as my jeth cannot speak nor understand Hindi & obviously the rickshaw drivers do not know Kannada or Tamil. Since ,I know both Hindi & Kannada,I was the bridge over troubled waters.

We went to our allotted rooms .There was no question of partaking any food in the hotel as it served non-vegetarain food .By the time,we finished bath, it was evening.We decided to visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple.There were some auto wallahas who were attached to the hotel.They warned us that as it had rained heavily the last night,there was water logging all over the city & hence traffic would be so slow that it was futile to visit the temple.Then my hubby & his brother decided to go to a nearby hotel to pick up some idlis for all us to feed as all were famished.Idlis were accordingly brought & gulped down in no time.

Now,my hubby suggested that the men should visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple that day itself as the next day,the men would be busy in the tithi ritual ( shradha ).So,I was to accompany my hubby & his three brothers to the temple.I was needed to translate & make conversation understandable.We went by the same autos who were telling us that "Any road repairs including laying of drains yields results very late ( if ever it does,that is ) as this is U.P.-Maya nagari !"My visit alongwith the men was not taken too kindly by the other females but they just kept quiet as they did not want to question their hubbies.All were feeling that I was acting very smart because I knew Hindi .

As the Ayodhya verdict was going to be announced in a few days,there was a lot of security at the temple.We were told to deposit our belongings in private lockers available at the entrance & proceed inside.We had darshan & almost emptied our pockets of cash.Cash is allowed past all security ! Maybe, if there is no cash,all entry would have  been banned.We are all Vaishnavas & so how did we visit this temple.Well,it is said that the Kashi Vishvanath Emple is worshipping Vishnu in Linga form ! The Shiv linga is actually a saligrama in linga form.So,that's how we were visiting the temple.Or so ,we Vaishnavas would like all to believe.I was glad that I was able to visit the famed temple of Kashi-Shiva or Vishnu does not matter.But I am impressed with this that  Vishnu is worshipped in the linga form at Varanasi Vishwanth temple.If I possessed even an iota of this imagination ,I would have made a name for myself in the literary world ! Then we wound our way to the Annapurna Devi temple .& had a darshan.

I must mention here that Kashi is a very dirty city.All along the path or paths one takes to visit any temple,one comes across heaps of garbage piled up.I wish all pilgrims could atleast try not to make the city more dirty.After one looks at all the dirt around whatever pious thoughts that have arisen die a quick death.One just wishes to just look at the idols & makes hasty retreats.otherwise,the visits to Benares would be futile .I believe that the retail revolution in sachets is making us generate rubbish in wholesale ! Varansi locals are also extremely fond of paan .In addition to all the garbage,there are paan stains all around wherever one can look.In these days,paan is getting replaced by gutka in sachets.Gutka chokes lungs & the sachets clog  the  drains.So it is a double jeopardy.

Kashi seems to be a place wherein many generations seem to co-exist in this age .I saw that shops were selling unique brass toys like gas stoves,lamps water carriers -all of these were so tiny & unique that they can adorn the showcase.Moreover,shops were also selling readymade dresses for Gods & goddesses with ready made jewels to adorn the idols.Other shops sold imitation jewellery for the generation next.Hence,I felt hat the city existed in numerous  time wraps.

We went to our Mutt after the darshan where we had upma .The next day,the men left for shardha rituals to be done to a Mutt.The ladies including myself went to visit many temples.We also shopped for small brass idols & copper pots of Ganga jal.Later we went to a  Benarasi sari workshop.We got some sarees which were of silk but not the Banarasi silks.My family  hailing from Chennai is quite skeptical about Silks other than Kanjeervaram.After that we left for the Mutt to have lunch there.The men also arrived there to join us.Food served at the Mutt is delicious though no rotis are served .It is basically rice,sambhar,rasam,a sweet like a kheer or Mysore pak,chutni,Gooju,curds,etc.In the Mutts,masalas are ground on a daily basis & used & this makes for tasty meals ! Moreover, all food is initially offered to the Lord who in turn makes it taste sumptous.

After the food,it was suggested that we take a boat ride on the Ganges to look at the numerous ghats dotting the city.There was a lot of bargaining going on .In the midst of all this,my impatient hubby ruffled some feathers as he felt that his family was interested in going in for  free boat ride.We all finally took a ride & noticed the various ghats surrounding the holy river.We had heard that many bodies are  burnt incompletely & thrown into the Ganges.We saw the ghats wherein the bodies were being thrown but as we were quite away,we were unable to see clearly.We also climbed up on the ghats to have a darshan at the Beni Madhav temple.

Then we returned to the hotel & started packing.We were to go by road to Gaya ,the next stop in our yatra.The vehicle had already arrived when we landed at e hotel but it did not have a carrier.It was too small to seat all of us who were nearly fifteen ( nearly as there were sixteen people including two kids ).It  was the travel agent's plan that we should travel to Gaya by road.But the arrangements made by him were lacking in everything.So,hastily another vehicle had to be arranged which took two hours & we started our journey to Gaya.The luggage nearly occupied half the space in our vehicle .My family had brought all dhotis,sarees,brass pots etc to be given as daana to brahmins from Chennai.My opinion that we must give cash instead of carrying luggage did not carry any weight.My devar told me that new age brahmins are very particular that they must be granted cash generously & so dhotis & other items are given away.This does not mean that these things are cheap.Dhotis are also highly priced now.Some priests insist that dhotis costing above five hundred bucks are only suitable.Human attitude is to fleece a person /s completely once it is realised the said person is willing to loosen his purse strings.

We stopped enroute to pick up some bananas for consumption by men as next day ,tithi was to be performed at Gaya.For dinner,we stopped at a dhaba as ladies & the kids were hungry.The dhaba owner assured us that they served only vegetarian fare.Our discreet enquiries made him enquire if we would take raw onion as salad.A vehment no from me got him smiling as if he meant to say that he had got it  right.We resumed our journey after dinner.The drivers also dined at the dhaba reluctantly as there was no meat or fish .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Promote Your BlogI heard this on FM Rainbow : Rangoli drawn at the doorstep ensures that Goddess Laxmi ,the symbol of wealth & prosperity will always reside in that abode.

In Andhra,rangoli is known as muggu or muggulu.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Haridwar & Rishikesh

Promote Your Blog
We reached Badrinath on the second day after starting from Haridwar.The route is very scenic as it is through the Shivalik range.Clouds & mist play hide & seek .One can watch beautiful sunrises & sunsets.The Alaknanada seems to be following us all along the route.It also is dangerous as a wrong turn means a  plunge deep down the valley but thankfully ,our journey was safe. Enroute,we had to stop at some places as it was night .It is advisable & safe to break the journey in the Shivaliks after sunset.

The driver who was a young Punjabi lad with a typical Punjabi accent had been instructed to stop at a lodge which served strict vegetarian fare.The lodge did not serve any food but there was a vegetarian dhaba next door.One or two  relatives did not eat for reasons ranging from being unwell to doubts about food handlers.My family, being very orthodox, believes that food must be served by an insider meaning the family.Since this is impossible when one is in  a dhaba ,hotel & the like,they fast.Some do compromise & eat.Anyway,I was instructed in Kannada ( hybrid version -with lots of Tamil) about the food, my family wanted. I, in turn, dutifully translated it into Hindi for the waiters.We ate our food with lots of talk about food only. This was because, I had to keep translating almost minute by minute to my relatives ,then to the waiters ,again to my family & so on & so forth. .Dinner over,we retired for the night. My hubby had taken care that the driver & cleaner also had their fill of food.

Next morning, we took  bath & after tea,we left.By noon,we stopped at a place where there was this restaurant which served idlis & dosas.Orders were placed for one medu vada & two idlis for a majority.A kid had a sada dosa.The idlis were really delicious -even the sambhhar & chutney.But vadas were a disappointment as the oil used is different.We are used to groundnut oil & in the north ,sarson ka tel is the norm.My family made a face & gulped down the vadas. I have never liked vadas -oil or no oil.

We left the place after being surprised by wholesome South Indian fare at the restaurant. All kudos to the Jat driver .We reached Badrinath but insisted on being taken to our Mutt .We were taken there after a lot of explaining to the driver .He was sure, that we will have to carry a lot of our luggage over some distance as no parking was available nearby but thankfully,it was not so.We freshened up after being allotted rooms.All felt at home, as this was our community hostel.It was beginning to get cold.

We left by early evening to visit the temple having worn our sweaters .It was drizzling &It  had become very cold.The temple is a simple structure -wooden & stone.The temple is carpeted as it is quite cold.The guards & attendents wear wooden sandals to keep warm.Badrinath ji is a saligrama which is annointed with chandan .So one  can barely see the features as lots of flowers & jewels adorn the Lord.There is a whole entourage of dieties there alongwith Badrinathji.There is Kubera,Nara-Narayana,Lakshmi,Garuda etal.We learnt that we could be with the Lord for an extended period ,if we chanted the Vishnusahsranamnam in a group for which tickets are avaialble.We did that & had a relaxed view.I noticed that a foreigner ( white woman ) was also in the temple.She also was reciting the Vishnusahsranama but there was a difference.We were reciting from the books but she was doing it on her own. She knew it by heart !

The prasad is chana dal & sugar & murmura.,After partaking prasad,we went back to the Mutt. We were served upma which was truly lip smacking. so much so that we actually were left with just enjoying the upma mentally as there was no second helping.The cooks again made it as they realised that some had not not had it even once.Upma is an option for night as my hubby & brothers were to perform shradha the next day of their late father at Badri.So,,the night before they cannot have dinner but can eat upma,poha,fruits,etc. So, we all had decided to partake of upma.

The next day dawned & we were ready to go out. We had decidecd to take bath in the hot water springs ,next door to the temple.We had a refreshing bath in the ladies section as the men went in search of purohita for the shradha .The hot water springs are really amazing.The water temperature was just right  for the cold there.But people seem to think that this bounty of nature can be abused.So,some people were shampooing,using soaps & detergents etc thereby polluting the hot water springs.Perhaps the abusers wanted to cleanse themselves of all their sins & hence used soaps,shampoos & detergents.But in the process,they dirtied the place & polluted the water .We are trying to get rid of our sins but by using chemicals we are sinning against nature.How do we absolve ourselves from this greater sin ? Moreover, where will the hot water springs turn to to get rid of all our sins which have been transferred from us to them?  I felt, that prayers were needed more for cleaning up the hot water springs rather than anything else !

Men also had thei baths & they started the rituals of shradha -all bare bodies except for a dhoti & a shawl which would keep slipping from the shoulders.The drizzle was continuing.It was chilly & windy. .After the ceremony was over,we had prasad at the Mutt. In the afternoon,we went around to Vyas gufa,Ganesh Gufa at Mana village.Nights were terrible because the temperatiure would dip further & my family was shivering .Getting used to the extreme cold was impossible for them as they have been in Chennai till now.

In the night,dinner was again a nashta item as on the day the shreaddha is performed,the sons are to have only phalhaar ( no rice,dal,etc ).So,the mutt cook prepared avalakki pongal ( avalakki is poha ).The pepper in the dish was so much that whoever had got a cold got rid of it. It also served another purpose.We all ate a little less than we would have had it been less pungent.

We had been told to have a darshan at four -early in the morning when the saligrama of Badrinathji is bereft of all shringar .But the bitter cold prevented us from  venturing out so early.My jeth had told us that the saligrama is in padmasana & one can also recognise facial features.

The next day,we left for Haridwar from Badrinath.En route,we stopped at Debvprayag to have a hand dip but only the men ventured to step  out of the bus.On some hillocks ,we noticed that many kadipatta bushes were growing.How we wihed to collect them but they would have dried on our return journey home & so we just let the curry leaves. We halted at Rishikesh & went around Laxman Jhoola & Ram jhoola,We then resumed our journey.We reached Haridwar before the Ganga aarti was to begin in the evening.Rishikesh is also highly commercialised with many foreigners thronging the place.

Haridwar ghats where bathing is done are all filthy with rubbish heaps lying all around.Moreover it was rainy season & so everywhere there was muck & wetness which made our walking a really perilous affair.I felt that perhaps these Holy places need more miracles than we need in our lives to set things clean & bright.

Some pandas caught hold of us & looted us by making us promise  daan- dharm  as  they pretended to make us perform some rituals.We managed to free ourselves before they could leave us penniless.But this bitter experience apart,the Ganhga aarti was a sight to behold as the whole banks of the river were lit up by numerous aartis .We watched spell bound.

We left for our Mutt in Haridwar where dinner was getting ready.The  priest in charge seemed to be very relaxed.He sang many hymns,bhajans & even asked us to sing some.Our tummies had also begun singing for food but before this got vocal,we were served dinner. After  dinner,the Punjabi lad & cleaner bade us goodbye at Haridwar station .We handed him some parting cash for having done an exemplary job in taking us to Badrinath & back safe & sound.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Promote Your Blog
Posted by PicasaI have managed to post this image.I feel there is some hitch in posting it from a file on my device. I am still to figure it out.

Rangoli is known as Puvidal in Kerela.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Badrinath dham

My family had been planning about going to various holy places in Northern India since months & it had finally materialised.So, we were all set to travel in a group to Rajdhani that is Delhi & from there, we were to proceed further.

As orthodoxy & ritualism are our forte,we always tried to book rooms in our Mutts.In Delhi also,we were at Sri Raghavendra Swami Mutt at R. K Puram.The idea is that we request the Mutt for a puja which is chargeable & lunch is the prasad of that puja.We also give some more money as our share -actually, it is the Almighty only who makes us his agent so that we can indulge in some form of  giving.We had our baths & we attended the puja followed by prasadam.Later ,as all in the familyn with a few exceptions are die hard coffee addicts coffee was boiled on a heater which had been brought especially for the purpose !

Then some of my family decided that they wanted to shop & off they went. I had called up a classmate whom I was just dying to meet after so many years ! She came & picked me up.I & she chatted non-stop.We did not know where to begin & when to stop but since I had a train to catch in the night,I had to leave. She deposited me safely in the Mutt .Dinner was on at the Mutt but since my chum had fed me generously,I refused even curds.After dinner,we left in Taxis which had been called up .Now,my actual work began.

My family is bereft of even a basic knowledge of Hindi .So, I was on the job of translating to the driver ,to the coolies etal.I did feel great but soon it gave way to irritation.Anyway,with my translation job & loads of luggage which involved bargaining with porters,we reached the station.We were leaving for Haridwar.Since,Haridwar comes fairly early in the mornings,we barely slept.At Haridwar,we all alighted after haggling with coolies about luggage .Then ,we had to make some calls to Bangalore as the travel agent was located there.He had made some bookings of accommodation as also about our travel to Badrinath from Haridwar.A bus had come to pick up but money was an issue.Anyway,the call had its effect & the driver dropped us at an ashram.Only problem was that it turned out to be the wrong one.We once again got into the bus & reached another ashram.I was allowed to go in first to ascertain if this was the destination.Thankfully,it was & we shifted our baggage & ourselves to various rooms that were allotted.The manager made a big fuss as he felt that six rooms were needed to divide our entourage but my family was adamant about taking only five rooms.We completely believe in the letter & spirit of accommodation -especially when it comes to hotels,lodges etc.I had to intervene a lot in this matter to sort it out.It was quite funny as I had to keep on telling the manager why my family felt five rooms were more than enough.The manager relented looking at my helplessness at translation & not because he was convinced.

We then had tea & left for the bath at the ghat.The Ganga was cold to touch but with a strong will,we ascended & had our dips .WE also performed small pujas to the river.Then we came back to the ashram to our rooms.We then took cash & handed it to the local travel agent as our charges for the onward journey to Badrinath.

In the early afternoon ,we left for Badrinath praying all the while that we must have a safe journey as many people had been struck for hours enroute because of landslides.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I had lot of problems in uploading this  as I seem to have run out of space for my snaps on gmail.

Kolam is the name for Rangoli in Tamil Nadu.It is generally done with rice paste & sometimes even with rangoli powder.

On my Chennai visits,I have seen that women draw kolams outside their homes at dawn on  daily basis after washing the areas.Even outside buildings ,this is done !

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A home for Tink !

Green house that is home to Tink.

Harini,my daughter has gone crazy.She has taken to Tinker bell,the fairy in such a big way that she sleeps,eats,drinks & breathes Tink .Really this is quite exhausting.Her exams are on & the only thing she can concentrate on is the fairy.

She coerced her dad to get her a VCD on the latest film on that two winged tiny creature & has watched it  umpteen times.She also brought in her chums to watch it -obviously to get them converted like her.I dunno if she succeeded.But all this is going on in the thick of her exams ! How I wish she could concentrate atleast one tenth of what she does so passionately for Tink on her studies but then ,such is not my luck nor the teachers as they will discover from her answers.

In all this frenzy for Tink,Harini was inspired by the movie to build a house for her newfound love.She scrouged our  house & got a cardboard box.From this, she cut out squares & rectangles to make windows & a door.She camr across squarish pieces of glass which she painstakingly added as windows.One of the galss piece is a sealed window & two other pieces are open windows.The door is of  cardboard & is rectangular.

She took some cotton & made it into a bedding & a pillow for Tink. This is laid on a cardboard bed .The cardboard bed is a rectangle resting on four cardboard legs.On the cotton bedding she put a piece of velvet cloth-cut from her discarded dress sleeve.The velvet is  violet in color.From the same sleeve,she cut out two more pieces.She punched it at one end with a paper punch to make holes.These pieces were to be the curtains for the open windows .She took a straw & hung the curtains after passing the straw through the holes punched into them.

Then she took a polythene  glass  & covered it with a  circular cardboard lid .This was taped to the side of the house.This is the mail -box for Tink.Harini also built a table & chair -both from cardboard for Tink.On the table is placed a ceramic kettle & a tea cup & saucer.This tea set is a present from  her cousin .The roof of the house has an opening covered with a polythene sheet so that one can view it from the top.

The door of the house has a grand stand resting on two cardboard props with a roof attached to the house.There is a bell hanging from this roof to ring.This bell idea is copied from the movie.

Then Harini covered the roof with newspaper & painted it blue.She also painted the house  with green & yellow colour on the outside.I helped with painting.This was more out of compulsion rather than choice as Harini had taken out so much of paint from the tube that I felt compelled to use it.I also used brown colour to cover up things on the cardboard box.

She also put stars & other shiny embellishments on the walls of the house -on both sides of the door.On the side ,one can notice that it belongs to Tinker Bell as the name Tinker Bell is glued on the left side of the house in the snap.

On the door there are some flowers struck to make it look inviting.

The house does not have a floor -it is open from below.Harini uses the emergency lamp to light up the interiors of the home .Actually,she wastes a lot of energy on lighting up.A lot of other things were wasted in this venture-cello tapes.I am thinking of investing in shares & stocks of a cello tape manufacturer now.

But apart from that,all other material used is waste material .So this is a Green house -as it has made use of recycling waste materials.She did it fast in three to four days -a record time ,wouldn't you all agree ?

Moreover, she has painstakingly built it with lots of  love for Tink .The result is, that the house that she built for Tink has become a home now !

On second thoughts,  if only , our builders could take a lesson from all this ? !

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Posted by PicasaIn Gujarat,rangoli is called Sathiya.I saw sathiya being drawn in Surat .They use colours also.

Monday, August 30, 2010


My parents & brother were desperate to get the flat painted.It never crossed their minds that my opinion should be sought as I am the one who stays in that flat.But then this is what happens when you are a tenant -you are always at the receiving end of all largesse of your landlord/s !

So,it was all decided to get it done. A brand was chosen.They came to inspect & told us that the flat desperately needed painting .The way they apprised the condition of the paint ( or whatever was left of it ) on the walls,ceiling etc,it made us wonder as to  who was  in greater need- they or the flat.Anyway,they stated that as it was too badly done up earlier,they will need a minimum of four weeks to make it look presentable.I could feel my blood pressure shooting up.

Well,the painting or rather the process of peeling the old paint began .Then they put up the plaster of paris. Then the primer which smelled so awful that  I used to suffer from headaches.Now,this proved to me that I had a head which all suspected I never did possess ! Then the painting was done.Yet,it was not so simple.

My brother who is the owner had his own ideas about the colours he wanted on the walls of the bedrooms,the drawing room,the ceiling etal.Mind you,he was doing all this vide the phone from a neighboring city.As this was getting too confusing,we told him to email his choice of colours for the brand official to have a dekko .After all,he is the final authority.Unless he says yes,it is difficult for one to go ahead & suffer the results of ludicrous color schemes.It always helps to have some company in case,the color choice is decried by others ! That is one of  the advantages of working as a team !

As the flat was getting renovated by painting,I discovered to my amazement that I had also got fairer. The plaster of paris,the putty were falling all over me & others at home as fine dust .So this was the secret which made us look like Nordic whites ! .I am sure , painting your house can make you  much fairer  than all fairness creams applied together .I am currently talking to the PRO of the company which painted this flat  about how paints can give tough competition to fairness creams !

My feet also got fairer day after day.So,there was no need to get a pedicure done ! So,I saved at my brother';s expense .The painting left a hole in his pocket as one has to pay more for a branded product.Nah,the  high cost one tends to pay for  painting makes others conclude that a brand was chosen for painting !  But then ,the painting covered all, the holes on the walls & the ceilings.So,in effect the hole got transferred & transformed ! Small holes got transformed into a big hole in the pocket !

As they rubbed the walls ,ceilings etc,all the white powder which is a compound of calcium  kept falling into everything below including our food .Now,that served another useful purpose.It was a calcium additive & at this age,we are in perennial need of calcium supplements .So,this painting also fulfilled our calcium requirements.If ,I had known this,I wouldn't have spent money on buying calcium capsules from the pharmacy.I am certain that immediately after this painting job got over,the calcium readings of all the members who were in the house must have shot up so tremendously that Calcium was in excess- in the bodies that is ! So,next time,our calcium levels hit rock bottom,I know what to do - get my house repainted !

There is one downside to all this -our  hair also  gets its fair share of the white powder .So all of us appear older than we really are.On second thoughts,we can blame the painting for all that grey hair ! Hopefully ,all that extra grey in the hair makes us appear wiser - more grey matter in the brains. But then we all know- appearances can be deceptive & in such cases,they  certainly are !

The way the painting work was carried on left a lot of questions unanswered.They took four weeks to do up the flat but the speed had reduced midweek itself.I was left wondering if they were pretending to do a thorough job by taking a long time.It is like this in examinations- those who fill reams of paper are awarded more marks than others who write up to the point.One ponders if the answer sheets are indeed weighed before marks are granted.

Finally,painting ended & I sighed.Because,I realised that I will start looking my colour -so many shades darker as I will no longer have the benefit of superfine white powder which was like a halo around me ! Some had even mistaken it for some divine aura !

I will end here as I have to get a facial  & pedicure done lest people begin to notice the difference !

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rakhis- strings of love.

My earliest memories of rakhis, are those, which were sent by my neigbour, who  is a very close family friend.She would, very lovingly choose the most delicate rakhis & send it across by post for me & my brother year after year without fail.The envelope would also enclose a letter written by her addressed to both of us.Her handwriting is  lovely as ever . It is something, which compliments rakhis sent by her.

Inspired by her,I began by sending rakhis to my paternal cousins, as they pined for them. Moreover ,they had no sister.Also,I greedily awaited   the gifts I will be showered with for tying them.I make it clear, that, I am just accepting their generous presents to please them & nothing more ! It always pays to raise one's esteem in the eyes of others .I have kept up this twin tradition - of sending rakhis & my pretense .

My own brother has never shown any enthusiasm for rakhis but, now, he demands rakhis for his daughter.I also send across many rakhis so that they can be forwarded to the members of his extended family.But my brother seems to believe, that members should visit & get rakhis tied to their wrists .This is akin to the thought that  the thirsty must seek water as the well cannot walk towards  those who are dehydrated.Moreover,having lived abroad, for a considerable period,he is skeptical about postal deliveries in time.

The story of Draupadi being protected by Krishna during vastraharan by Dushasana  in the epic Mahabharata is one of the most enduring tales of rakshabandhan.Krishna is only a word of mouth brother ( muhbola bhai ) of Draupadi but when his finger is injured & starts bleeding,it is Draupadi ,who tears a corner of her Pitambari sari & ties it around his bleeding finger.His own sister,Subhadra, keeps  searching for an appropriate piece of cloth as she opines, that  she cannot tear her silk sari to be used as a bandage.Krishna vows to protect Draupadi & makes her sari so infinitely long that Dushasana is tired of disrobing her & lets her go.This katha, also illustrates that only a gesture,  is enough to build a relationship that lasts for a lifetime.It need not be based only on birth.

I believe, that one can tie a rakhi to anyone -girl or boy.Nowadays,I send rakhis to boys & girls alike.When we no longer abide by gender stereotypes in so many fields, ,the same needs to be followed in festivals like Rakshabandhan as well.

In my erstwhile office wherein,I was employed,men used to run for cover during the festival as they lived in perpetual fear of having to dole out a gift  to every female who would tie a rakhi.I would have preferred my clerical staff to do their office duties diligently in return of tying rakhis but that would be like asking for the moon ! In the work place, there is seldom anyone to protect us from overwork -inspite of rakhis even for that day !

For the last two to three years ,I have brought rakhis from Non Govermental Organisations, as I believe, that at least, on some occasions,I must do some selfless work.This makes it a double whammy- I earn brownie points for myself & NGOs are able to showcase the skills of their  physically as also mentally challenged members .I feel, that I must do maximum philanthropic work with minimum efforts ! I have also convinced my friends, to buy rakhis from such orgainzations as I want them also to feel good as well. I have also started using rakhi envelopes specially brought out for Rakshabandhan by the Department of Posts.They are reasonably priced & save the expense of sending rakhis by speed post or courier .

In this age of retail bonanza,I recently received an SMS about a haircut for a cute sister at a plush salon for Rakshabandhan.One also comes across various advertisements which sell various kinds of rakhi hampers complete with tilak,aarti thali, mithai etc.Even chocolate boxes are sold in place of mithai for the new age siblings.Surely, but shortly,there will be virtual rakhis in a make believe  world - isn't it ? But let's hope,that the simple thread of love is able to endure it all .Then only will  relationships thrive &  get stronger  - among siblings,friends,etal.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Decoding men

I have read & been told time & again that women are too difficult nah impossible to be understood.But men are ,well beyond our comprehension ! One has to constantly decode men.

My hubby keeps trying to convince me, that I am, much better than any female office goer as I am my own boss ( ? ).He told me that I can do whatever I please & whenever I want. There are no fixed timings for me.He also added, that I am not a slave to someone who is intelluctually & emotionally at a lower level than me.I felt overwhelmed by all this .Obviously,I did not admit this.But ,then, he keeps enquiring about some tasks which he has handed over to me & that is when I realised, that ,now also ,I have a boss & that is my dear  husband & I am accountable  to him alone unlike in office wherein I was answerable to many .The conclusion is that at home, I am in a very centralised set up wherein all jobs end up in delegation to me .So,ultimately,I am accountable  for all the mess ! This is worst  as in office, I was blamed for only  a part of the problems which cropped up regularly .

I harbour this opinion that grandparents make a good job of caring for their grandkids & must do this in these times as both  parents are working out of homes .But my hubby has very noble thoughts or so I believed.Witness his remarks," Grandparents need not look after their grandchildren.They have already fulfilled their obligations by bringing up their children .Now,after retirement ,they need to spend time in relaxation." I was glad, that, my husband was defending my parents who were unfit to take care of my kid in advancing years.I then asked my hubby if he will take care of his grandchild & he replied that he was never going to retire ! So ,he will never be there for his kid's child ! So,that is, why he is  so full of  sympathy for all grandparents ! Really,he is putting all shock absorbers in place before he gets there !

Whenever my friend goes out of town, her son goes on a detox diet.He goes off tea,coffee,et al He lives only on salads & fruits .That is, because, he finds making tea,coffee& other cooking jobs too much of a chore to do.Another of my friend's hubby takes another way out.He never tries to make his kid eat healthy home made food.He heads to the restaurant with the child to enjoy some tangy stuff as the child will relish the same.

My dad ,hubby & my brother  never shop with us whenever the ladies are shopping as they have other work to do.But we must always accompany them, as we  are good at picking up the things that are in ! The fact, is they are afraid that if we wander on our own ,we may shop beyond their credit limits !

So,next time,any man says something which is too noble or pious ,try to read , nah, hear between the lines !

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


This looks like an effort which was made in haste.

In West Bengal,it is called Alpana.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Puppy craze

My daughter 's holidays had just begun.She was excited as there was a stray bitch who was pregnant.My daughter was sure that somehow,I will be cajoled into adopting a puppy.

A week later,she came home with the good news .''Amma, five puppies were born .They are so cuute."I told her," Please stay away from the puppies as the mother will be very protective."But my warning was all just swept aside.

It then became a daily routine.Every morning & evening,she would get up & go & have a look & come back to tell how the puppies were faring.It was also to keep me updated that they had no proper home.They had found a shelter in the shopping centre next door.

I had read about a family being so so obseessed with pets that when their pet passed away ,the family was inconsolable.Whenever I see pets & their masters,I am thinking ,what will happen when the pet passes away.That is why ,I have never tried to keep a pet.I am sure,it is so lovely a relationship that when the pet is no longer there,life gets miserable.This fear of loss keeps me away & I wanted my kid to stay  away from pets.I knew that I would never be able to console her when tragedy strikes.

Since,all this failed to evince any affection from my side,she decided to demand food for the puppies.She would ask for  milk.I told her that I buy  milk for our use & not for charity.So,my daughter decided that she will forgo her share of milk.She would then give it to the puppies as their need was greater  than hers.I also added that milk would be too difficult to digest for the  puppies .So,my daughter devised a solution.She would pour the milk into a bottle .Then she would dilute it with an equal amount of water.This ,she opined was good enough for the puppies to digest.

Next,her friends also joined her in this job,  of  feeding  the bitch & her puppies.Sometimes,they would collect biscuits & feed the bitch while the puppies were fed milk.My repeated warnings about the bitch attacking were never heeded.My daughter clarified that they were trying to care for the bitch as well so that she would be friendly .It was clear that the said tactics were working as there were no untoward incidents .

My kid & her friends named the puppies -Custard,Brownie,Snowflake,etal. My daughter's pet was Snowflake,as it was totally white without any brown spots.My daughter is someone who has  full faith in being discriminatory about colour.She represents the Indian mindset about fairness in colour.

Then the caretakers decided to phone a vet to enquire about vaccination-of the puppies.I put my foot down.I said that I will not pay even a paise towards all this.My daughter stated that since  they were not vaccinated , I was constantly apprehensive about her safety.So,this was her attempt to allay my fears.Since,I was non-committal , my nightmares about kids getting bitten by the bitch continued.

My neighbours & other acquittance had started complaining to me that my daughter was taking too much interest in the puppies.Moreover,they opined that other kids were following in her footsteps.I was elated that she was exhibiting leadership skills at such a tender age .Actually,they did not mind, nah, were quite indifferent to my kid's forays into anything but since this was interfering in their domain ,they were objecting.I tried to reason with my kid but it was useless.

I then decided to join her .No,I did not adopt the puppies. I readily started giving milk & biscuits. One day,I took the photographs of the family .As I took the snaps,I knew why my kid had fallen for the puppies ! I too fell for them -hook,line & sinker. The puppies looked so innocent.They were all so vulnerable.They started following me & my kid as we snapped their pictures. I  posted the snaps on the net.I asked my daughter's friends to look at the snaps I  had taken .I Though the kids wanted to have a look,the parents refused to part with their email ids.They were sure, that I had also gone bonkers like my kid.

Anyways,the care shown by my kid & her friends proved inadequate.Very soon,two puppies passed away.The last straw was when my daughter heard the news that her favorite Snowflake had expired.She felt miserable as she heard about it on her birthday.She has overcome it ...that'w hat I think.And yet any day,she is ready to adopt a dog ! And I am the same....unsure.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Posted by PicasaIn Bihar,it has a slightly different name from the alpana of West Bengal.In Bihar,rangoili is called aripana.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Security ? !

A recent report by Washington Post says that  after 9/11,US has in place a security system that has grown so gigantic that it is almost impossible to handle ! So,how can it handle security as it cannot manage  itself ? !

The report states that structures of 250 security bodies have been changed since the attack in September,2001.Also,33 buildings have come up measuring 17m sq.feet for secret services in  the Washington area.The report also adds that 51 federal organisations & military commands are working in 15 US cities keeping  track of money flow amongst terrorist outfits.

Some 8,54,000 people including civil servants,military personnel & private contractors get top secret clearances which cannot be penetrated by any equipment.So ,the personnel are above scrutiny ! It will be so easy to just infiltrate such a set up & then do what the unit or rather units were supposed to prevent and or protect ! As usual,we will get wiser only after the catastrophe /s.The secret enterprise has a mission which is confidential.It is indeed doubtful if even the people who are working for it know the aims of the unit.Maybe,it was set up just like that & then as it progressed,they were sure of coming up with some ideas about the objectives of the set up ! After all,this is how all giants come into being !

Since,all are in the dark about the supposed objectives other than fighting Al Queda,there is hardly any need to determine if the set up has had any successes.This is a win -win formula for all the world to just emulate! How convenient -no questions need be asked & even if asked cannot be replied to as replies are top secret if not the queries !

Big money is involved so much so that the budget was two & half times more than what it was before 9/11.The many sub-units are unable to spend or maybe waste the said funds.So,the money could  have been spent on better options.

But it has solved the unemployment problem atleast to a certain degree as a mimimim of 263 orgainsations have been refashioned and or created after 2001.This just goes to prove that some good ultimately comes out of any exercise /s in futility.We must therefore,  always be  optimistic.The Bush administrtation tried to get some hold over the giant but the law failed in giving authority to the director  over individual units.There are battles amongst Pentagon,CIA ,NCTC staff.So after they have finished with their inter departmental wars,will they wage a war against terror.The flood  of information is so immense that it is just being collected.The huge volume defies analysis !

Now,in India also after terrorist attacks,security has been a growing concern.No,we are not worried about our life & limb but about how to prove that we are not terrorists.Address proof is a big headache.Identity cards are needed to prove that I stay at a particular house.Now,if I am staying at a relatives place as a temporary arrangement,how does one prove residence ?

Residence proof is established by producing utility bills in one's name.If the staying is temporary ( not rented ),how will any utility bill be in that person";s name ? But such concerns are all brushed aside by the overtly secured fellows who insist on residence proof.Address proof is such a big issue that it is a must for opening an account, for entry at BARC, for securing a loan,passports, et al.

Mind you, that PAN card is not taken as a valid identity card.This is because PAN card does not state your address.So,the PAN card is a reminder of your duty towards the nation -the duty of paying taxes.But it fails to give you any right -even right of way even though,as a PAN card holder,you are a citizen.In all probability,the facility which you are seeking for which you need address proof has been funded out of your taxes !

Address proof is mandatory for all bank accounts,etc as Governments feel that with valid addresses ,money transfers can be checked to detect funding of terror outfits.But this is brushed aside for our netas who are regularly sending money to shady set ups in India & abroad.After all ,they are a shade apart from ordinary mortals like us.

The unenviable growth of our economy is raising the real estate prices so high that address proof will be given by terrorists only.Because only they will be able to afford flats,houses,etal.

At the passport office also,residence proof needs to be endorsed by utility bills.Actually,one feels so harassed that it makes you ponder if the passport office is going to fund your overseas trip.They do all that is possible so that you just leave in disgust.

Terrorists & criminals are able to procure as many  passports as against us who find it impossible to even get one.The felons are able to don disguises which we can see through but not our officials at the passport office ! So much like the movies wherein the characters don false teeth,costumes,wigs et al & manage to fool their co stars but not the audience !

The traffic snarls which result whenever our highly secured leaders travel in & out of cities,towns & villages leads to tragic outcomes.Recently ,it was alleged that due to the PM 's visit,a boy could not be taken to hospital in time & he breathed his last.If this continues unabated,our netas may find that there are no people against whom they have to be secured !

The  genuine public gets harassed in the name of security as our Government tries to secure itself ( leaders,their cronies & their ilk ) from all of us & that too by security personnel whose funding is made possible by the taxes we pay sincerely , year after year !

Monday, July 12, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Deception in Mediclaim

The headlines  in the Times of India dated today said  that many hospitals are off the Mediclaim radar as many are supposedly involved in false claims.There are related reports about increase in consumer cases because of rejected Mediclaims &Hospital  charges being too exorbitant.

The insurance companies have resorted to denial of cashless facility. All this has led to a lot of hardships for the patients .Obviously after the fleecing by hospitals & TPAs,insurance companies have become bereft of cash - so cashless has suddenly got a new meaning ,for the Insurance Industry that is !

It has been reported that Hospitals have indulged in putting up fraud claims in collusion with TPAs ( Third Party Administrators)  to whom processing of  health related claims has been outsourced by the Insurance Companies.Patients are also said to be  a party to the frauds.TPAs are a recent phenomena unlike hospitals which have been in existence much before.TPAs came in, when the Public Sector Insurance Companies announced the VRS ( Voluntary Retirement Scheme) some years back.The staff shortage due to VRS was tackled by outsourcing processing of health related claims to TPAs.

But the Insurance Companies seem to think that TPAs are doing a good job.Hence,the axe has fallen on the Hospitals. This is not to say that Hospitals are clean but to question this blacklisting of Hospitals.The TPAs ought to be taken to task .But instead of that, a TPA has investigated & based on that investigation ,Hospitals have been listed out.This is giving new meaning to the term " natural justice." Natural justice demands that no one should be a judge in his own case.In this instance,a TPA is the investigating agency & based on that ,so many are blacklisted.How can a TPA sit in judgement on other TPAs as also Hospitals ? The report omits to state if any TPAs have been blacklisted but still,this is all an eye wash.

What are the credentials of the TPA which investigated the fraud claims ? The said TPA is a later entrant compared to some  TPAs .As happens sooner than later,the said TPA may be involved in bigger frauds or maybe get involved later.Perhaps, it wants a clean slate to begin.After all,aren't we  too familiar with the brands which worked hard to get the  ISI marks & once,they got it,it has just been downhill ever since.

The report also says that many Hospitals are in the dark about their status & some Hospitals have themselves opted out of the list due to strict norms.The insurance industry will soon inform its decision to the listed Hospitals but " soon" in Public Sector parlance can range from days to months to years ! So ,the stage is set for disputes about Hospitalisation in blacklisted hospitals as neither the TPA,nor the patient or the Hospital knows the current status of the Hospital.

Related reports speak about the rising number of consumer disputes about Mediclaim.About two thirds of all Insurance claims end up in consumer forums.This is a very sorry state of affairs.Claims are rejected for flimsy reasons like pre-existing ailments,excluded diseases,etal.Moreover,in Public Sector,decisions ( if any ) to delay & reject claims are lauded .Such actions also keep the bosses in good books of the audit & vigilance departments.The executives are preventing the drain of wealth thereby protecting the funds.But when the judgement comes,generally interest payment is also a condition But such small things do keep happening in big Public Sector companies.So,no one gets wiser.

It has been stated in the  report that one can choose the TPA.But this is easier said than done.Many compnaies have only some TPAs on their rolls.So this may not be economical .Moreover,if I want a particular TPA,it may be taken to mean that I want to conspire with the TPA to defraud the Insurance Company.Moreover,how does one know if any TPA is good ,bad or ugly ? Many will tell you that all TPAs are chips of the same block.

Mediclaim is a drain & has been so for a long time.With the TPAs in it now,it has started burning huge holes in the pockets of the  Insurance Companies. So what is the way out ?

One way is to start in house TPA cells manned by the employees of the Insurance Companies .Some private sector companies have set up such cells for processing Mediclaims.The TPAs should be strictly monitored as well, as before the TPAs came in,there were no such blatant attempts at cheating.Unfortunately,the TOI report seems to suggest that TPAs or rather the investigator TPA is calling the shots ! The said TPA Manager has spoken to the press & the Insurance Companies have no spokesperson to tell about their version /s  ! One really wonders " Who is the boss -the TPA /s or the Insurance Companies ? The more things change,the more they remain the same or perhaps change for the worse.On second thoughts,we haven't yet hit the pits ,not yet !
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...