Friday, February 25, 2011

'Amar' Uncle pai

The seeds of my reading interest were sown with books from India Book House(IBH).

I still remember the exhibition of IBH held at glass house, Lalbagh where my father got my first Amar chitra katha (ACK) titled Ganesha for just 2rs then. The beautiful color illustrations, language and the stories of ACK took me to various kingdoms, jungles, magical landscapes and introduced to many a mythological stories and folktales.

Not just me, ACK and Tinkle has been a companion for many during their growing years and instrumental in enriching them with knowledge of Indian culture,values and mythological stories.

Tinkle another product of IBH was a favorite which I read since it's second issue. Longing to see my name in the tinkle issue, I used to regularly write to uncle pai and post the answers for TTT(Tinkle Tricks and Treats). Though the answers were right only the first 10 entries would be published. I would get the Tinkle stickers and autographed photo of Uncle Pai.

ACK's are my children's bedtime treasury and doubles as a reference book too. They are able to correlate their history lessons to ACK's like the great rulers of India.

The credit for shaping and connecting many Indians to their roots and culture goes to this man from Karwar. - Anant pai.

You will be missed dearly, Uncle Pai.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life begins after....

....... yeah.... after....

Check out for yourself.............

Srinivasan uncle a retired business man from Bombay came to stay with his son due to his health setback. He is regular with his morning and evening walks in our housing society and is a crowd puller. The young and the old in our society love listening to his motivational and pre-independence talks . Not one to sit idle, he is now off to his home town Coimbatore to start a business.

Can you guess his age?

He is 83. When asked how he could manage a business at age 83?. He says ‘ Why not? I have the experience, the will, the energy and most important the enthusiasm and to that he is blessed with an extraordinary memory.

Shantha Rameshwar Rao, fondly called shantha akka or shantha amma is a frail, sprightly lady. She has an amazing zest for life and does her own work. An educationist, a children’s author and also the founder-principal of Vidya ranya school which celebrated its 50th year on jan’2011. Her school Vidyarany a is not our regular school. I was proud to have met this lady in a recent party at my aunt's place, where she recalled having seen me in a wedding some 5 years back, that too amongst a crowd of more than 100. Her memory awed me.

Now guess her age....

She is 86. Read more about her here.

Jayamma aunty a retired nurse is my parents neighbor in Bangalore. The speed and style with which she walks puts me to shame. I can’t match her strides. She is the ‘Florence nightingale’ of our locality’ , eveready to help even at odd hours, manages the family while her children are at work. A regular walker keeps herself busy with her house hold work , satsangs and attending carnatic music shows. Being a single parent has struggled all her working life to raise 4 children. Now , she indulges herself in sarees and jewellery which is her enjoyment and she often compares herself to Vyjayanthimala bali who is her age. Stylish and graceful with her grey hair.

Her energy and style just floors me. She is 85.

My own MIL who at 76 is active and energetic. She is the one who springs on her feet to answer the door bell. She is always occupied reading, travelling (next month she is off to Nepal, Muktidham with her siblings who are all 70+), cooking for her fussy grandchildren or cleaning the shelves etc.

Cracking the tamil crossword and Sudoku puzzles is another favorite past time, at 76, even the toughest Sudoku is cracked by her in a few minutes. 'Moolaikku velai kuduthunde irukkunum'. ( we should always give work to our brain) is what she says often.

Parvatham patti ( my MIL’s aunt) has no issues. She is younger to mil by an year ( 75) who lives in Lalgudi and another independent and active lady who cooks, cleans(has no maid for her huge house), washes her clothes, travels to all weddings at Chennai, Bangalore. An excellent cook whose greatest fan is my husband . She is also the inspiration for my cookery blog.

My retired appa(Dad) who at 69 is always looking for some work. With his two daughters married and away, he is always there ready to help his siblings, niece and nephews. With him around, everything will be in its place(spic,span and in order). Appa too is a great cook and helps amma in cooking, cleaning,gardening etc.. He needs no plumber or electrician around. He is busy fixing things.

Amma(mom) is very systematic in her work. At 65, she manages both home and outside work. Appa and Amma are too occupied with their friends, relatives and work and their tours. They have no time to stand and stare except during summer time, when their grand children topple their world and keep them extra busy.

Rawal uncle( a retired engineer) and Alka aunty who at age 62 and 60 live independently while their children are abroad. They have enthusiasm to learn swimming, dancing from the youngsters of our complex. They are busy with a consultancy, keeping fit and the house work. Uncle says “ We have worked all these years, now is the time to enjoy and party’.

Srinivasalu uncle who has retired as medical director is now a consultant at a premier eye institute. With no time to think or brood , in between he takes off to tours and is an active member of our housing society.

Raji aunty at 65 does voluntary work at an NGO which counsels people who have suicidal tendencies.

Sundar uncle, a retired colonel is occupied with the children at the Bal Vikas and community work.

Indira aunty at 62 simply zips past us in her Honda city to attend her 'Thirupugazh class' and the way she sways to filmi numbers during parties with teens makes me think she is too young and....

... from our own blogging community we have, Maiji - the oldest blogger I know at 83. See her video here.

I could go on and on…………

And all those 60+ aunties and uncles who live around me, whose children stay far away. They are occupied with their satsangs, kitti party,picnics, bridge games, social activities ,their daily evening talks and walks, team outings etc... the old couples of our complex have planned for a trip to Kerala.

Post- retirement they are full of beans, yet lead a relaxed life, punctuated with strong will power,abundant mental strength and healthy habits. Television plays a minor role in their life.

For them ,Attitude towards life dominates their retarding aging process. One needs to be physically and mentally occupied. Besides reading and writing, talking is also important as it opens up your mind.

When there is a slight disturbance in their health they say ‘All is well” and keep moving with the flow of life.

Sometimes , when I feel lethargic and low, these are the people who flash before me and give me that extra push and propel me to be in the orbit.

Hats off to all these people who say ‘ Age Is just a number’ and inspire me to redefine the saying
‘ Life begins after retirement’.

God bless them and May their tribe increase.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chocolates and candies

The supermarket, sweet shops and even the medical store and the pan shop near my house stock and sell imported chocolates like ferroro-rochers, hershey’s and nestle. All these come in exotic flavors jacketed in enticing and enchanting glossy wrappers. Needless to say, at exorbitant rates.

The children of today sink in their teeth into expensive chocolate bars,but they don’t have the pleasure of experiencing the lip smacking wispy,cream colored soan papdi , panju mittai (cotton candy) jeera mittai ( sugar coated cumin), eli mittai ( sugar coated peanuts and laced with color) , kamarcut (made with jaggery and coconut gratings)jujubes ( fruit flavored gummy candies). We used no sanitisers and most of them would come hygienic.

Way back in the 70’s and 80’s when I was a child, There used to be a hawker pedaling on the streets of kutcheri road in mylapore ( My grand parents place) in his specially designed tricycle which held a petromax light, a huge dome shaped glass jar and a brass bell which would go ding….ding…. ding… to announce his arrival.

Past 10 in the night, I and my cousins would rush out of the house to buy those wispy, cream colored sweet called soan papdi.(they were not held together like Haldiram fudges you get today). He would pull out a small amount of it and place it on a square piece of paper all for just 20paise then. After being satisfied with our share, we would rush to the terrace of our patti’s house to sit on the stone bench and relish the sweet under the star spangled sky and try catching the beam of the lighthouse which came with every rotation.

Hmmmm… the wispy soan papdi would simply melt in our mouth like snow……the sweet costless luxuries were simply divine which no hershey’s or Mars can match.

And all those cotton candy's that I ate at the exhibition, cubbon park and Lalbagh. The wide circular machine used to keep running and the stick kept in the middle would be rolled into a pink flossy candy.It would leave behind a rose pink color on your tongue and I and my sis would go around asking every body if our lips and tongue have turned pink. Oh!those were such sweet days.

Sadly, the children of today know not of such sheer bliss and miss such simple pleasures.

Of course, we too have had our share of Cadbury five stars, nutrine and parle products but those native mittais are a different taste altogether.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A touching experience...

My present job as a freelancing facilitator takes me to various public and international schools across the twin cities.

The work involves imparting life skills, thinking skills, value education, environmental issues through story-telling, games and interactive sessions.

All the schools and students have been receptive to our programs. It is evident from the way they react to us. In some schools, the children ask us for autographs and they call out our names and follow us in the school campus during break time.

Every day at work was a learning experience for me. I have myself learnt a lot from these children. Some new facts, some anecdotes, some great thoughts etc.,

We generally wind up the last session of the year without informing the children. We leave it to the school to take the responsiblility. But today, in a very famous public school (This school has a beautiful campus with well laid motorable roads, an in house bakery, a residential hostel etc.,) the principal announced in the assembly that "Today's session would be the last one for this academic year".

I gave a farewell speech in the assembly and soon after in the class rooms, I was flooded with 'Please continue...Mam', 'Miss you, mam'....'We will put to practice what you have taught, Mam etc...and the children gave me lovely personalised handmade greeting cards.

I was deeply touched by the genuine love and affection of these kids. It made me wonder why I had'nt opted for teaching as a profession before. (I was a hardware design engineer who hated teaching.. even now I don't consider full time teaching as my forte).

Even if two/ three children have been influenced by my sessions that would be a great achievement for me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Get fit the '8' walk way

Two decades back when we were less dependent on machines, physical exercises were embedded in our daily life.

We had kal ural(grinding stone) for grinding dosa and idli batter, ammi kal(grinding stone specially for spices) for grinding spices and masala, sweeping, mopping, washing clothes and utensils helped us to stretch our muscles. Squatting on the floor for eating food and then cleaning the space, pumping water from water pumps.

Routine visits to temple and the circumambulation around the big praharams on granite stones were a good walking exercise. The granite stones had the acupressure effect on our soles of the feet. We also walked/cycled to the nearby groceries,parks,banks and schools.

All these and healthy food habits kept our previous generation free of life style diseases.

Cut to the present, where most of us today are totally dependant on machines and electrical gadgets, house-helpers, motor-vehicles and processed food.

With no scope for physical exercises in our house-hold work, we enrol in expensive gyms, yoga and aerobic classes to keep fit. We have to mark a separate time for walks and keep lifestyle diseases at bay.

I too devote nearly 40-50 minutes for walk. Sometimes I have 'purpose walks'. I walk to the nearby banks(4kms), my children's school(4kms on a different lane), the vegetable market(3kms) and these days with the wintry climate it is a pleasure to walk. I generally avoid the main roads and always take the bylanes where there are no traffic.

When accompanied by my friends it becomes an 'Idea walk'(walk while you talk).

Now with summer setting in and the sun scorching from early morning to late evening, my walk time could go for a toss. But no, I heard about the '8' walk and will try this summer.

I heard about this '8' walk from Mr. S.R.Kishore kumar in his cookery show on Podhigai channel, long back but did not keenly follow the show.

But This sunday during a Q&A session with him, I heard about the '8' walk and its benefits.

The '8' walk - here it goes.....

In a 10 feet X 10 feet room, draw the digit '8'.

To begin with walk over it non-stop for a minute, after a week gradually increase the time to 2 minutes, 3 minutes and so on till you reach 5 minutes.

This exercise, Mr. SRK said though done for a short time has immense effects other than weight loss.

It de-toxifies your lungs, checks your BP and sugar level under control.

He also suggests drinking a cup of the following vegetable juice each day for fat reduction.

Ash gourd juice with salt and pepper.
vazhathandu juice ( juice extracted from the stem of plantain tree)
Kollu chutney(horsegram chutney)- This melts the body fat and reduces bad cholesterol.
cabbage soup.

So, knock off the toxins, burn the fat and get fit this summer with '8' walk and veggie soups/juices.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Campus rumpus

It is exam fever again every where. Pre-boards for X and IX, revision tests, FA4, SA4 and other assesments. All the children and their families around me are also gearing up.

Yesterday, While my son was preparing for his sanskrit exam and daughter for her pre-boards (she is a 9th grader),I recalled a class room incident to my children and they could'nt stop laughing when they heard it.

This incident happened when I was in high school and this was also published in 'Campus Rumpus' of the famous magazine 'Woman's era' in the year 1991 and I got a cheque of Rs.25 for my contribution.

It was the first period post lunch. All of us would mostly be sleepy in this class. Our lanky sanskrit master Mr.S.K.Bhat would be aware of the situation. To make the class perkier he would crack jokes and try to make it more interactive.

During the course of the lesson - the sanskrit drama 'Kumara samabavam' he said 'Lord shiva's wife was shivani, Brahma's wife is Brahmani, Lord Narayana's wife is Narayani, Indra's wife is Indrani and before he could proceed further, a cheeky class mate of mine shouted from last bench.

Bhat's wife is Bhattani (meaning green peas in kannada).

With that our whole class drowned in sounds of laughter and yes, our lanky jovial sir was the one who started the laughter flood