Friday, July 29, 2011

On a stone bench, under a shady tree......


On my way to Talakkad, I passed through T. Narsipura – a  village which is a charming throwback in time. It was around 11 in the morning,  but the folks of the village looked so relaxed, some women were chatting on the ‘Thinnai’( cement benches),  while some old men were seated under a  stone platform  under a tree and chatting . Unlike the urban souls rushing in the  bumper to bumper traffic holding their mobiles,  people  here  were walkin to their farm lands and some were busy with their silk cocoons (sericulture), while some school boys were chasing the worn tyres with a stick. The way these  unknown villagers smiled and waved at us was so heartwarming.

Any way, the talks  under the tree and thinnai  is the topic of my post.  It made me recall my visit to my perimma’s ( mom’s elder sister) house 25 years back for  my vacation at Pettaivaithalai near Trichy.  It had beautiful  quarters  of Cauvery sugars( now Parry’s) where the rear  door of the back yard opened to  the  Cauvery canal and palm groves. Just in front of my perimma’s house was a square bench pattern on which all the ladies would assemble unofficially around 7 and chat their problems away.  These ladies would also go on a yearly trip to Kutralam( southern most district of India)  to buy the yearly stock of spices –  a business and pleasure trip.

Much before the Doordarshan days, my mom and her friends too  after their household work would sit out  under the gooseberry tree and talk while they learnt to knit, sew and ‘Can’ foods like juices,pickles and jams.  They were like members of one big family.

We have one such cement platform under the tangerine tree  in the back yard of our Grandmom’s house too at Lalgudi.  Neighbours come and chat with our house hold members.

The conversations in  all the above meetings would  involve politics, movies, music, cuisine, latest trends, developments, job and alliances for their children, schooling etc...  and most important was they would  share their personal problems,  happiness, worries , sympathise and empathise with the other’s feelings without being judgemental.  Just listening and talking their problems was so cathartic and de-stressing, my mom, and perimma would say. As a child, I was  a witness  to this talks.

Even yesterday over telecon my atthai( father's sis) told  me about the beautiful time she had  with my dad, mom and  her other siblings at my uncle's place, while we their children were faraway. The retired lot talk and spend their time and  it is so healing to their soul to share their problems.

These personal  meetings/conversations are called by many names in many languages like ‘Katte matthu’(kannada), arrattai  ( tamil),  gappe(hindi) , gossip or euphemistically I call it ‘ Group Discussion’ or   ‘Hang out’.  When  there are no family priorities,  I too experience the above meetings in my  housing society  with my  friends in the evenings.

These talks create a bond of share, care, love and help among people.   At times of crisis, they also become a support system like an extended family. 

My friend, who   is  a  member of a  counseling  organization based in Seattle often holds  meetings to counsel people.  She said all they  do is take some personal time to  listen  to people’s problems and they don’t even  give advice.  Just talking their problems made them mentally lighter.

Now tell me,  Isn’t there some similarity to the  above talks and the organization.?

A simple village activity  has metamorphosized  into an organization and given birth to a new job avenue called counseling.

If most of us talked and shared our worries and listened to others, there would be no need of family counselors, marriage counselors  or student counselors.  Today, many  of us  that too urban souls, plan strategies to compete and survive, think logically,  make scientific breakthroughs  in the process we have become less emotional.

Infact,  Most of them bottle up their emotions and portray a rosy picture these days which only harms our health.  Emotional connect has  become a victim of changed  times.

Many of us   socialize virtually  on  FB, Geni , skype , orkut etc… but unfortunately since time is a premium, today many find it difficult to connect with  their own family personally, leave alone friends.

Here, I could not stop myself from envying  those  simple villagers having katte matthu( conversation on an elevated platform).

 I so much dream   too  lead a simple life like those villagers,  chatting away  in some idyllic village faaaaaaaaarway from  the neon drenched , carbon spouting city  among  like minded relatives and friends, in my Dream home.

My Dream home? How will that be?  That’s an other post………….

P.S: The above theory of talk and healing was elucidated in a Tamil drama. If interested read here.

 ( Above photo was clicked on my way back  from Somnathpur, Karnataka)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Madhya ranga - Abode of reclining Vishnu

When  we were driving around a bend to reach the Shimsha falls, We read the board of Madhya ranga and  on our way back stopped  to see the temple. It is also called Sri Jaganmohana Ranganatha temple. A pretty huge temple, Simple but very divine. The villagers told us the priest had gone to a nearby  place for the wedding and so the sanctum was closed. I walked to the huge wooden double door and found their was a   peep hole for darshan. I peeped through to find the divine lord clad in dhoti and garlands, absolutely stunning through the filtering light  of the oil lit lamps.  There are very few idols which can send such vibrations. This was one such. The image and calmness is finely embedded in my memory, that it is flashing every now and then.

Devout  Hindus travelling towards Mysore can mark this place called 'Madhya Ranga' at Shivanasamudram.

The 3 major riverine Islands formed by River cauvery are Srirangapattina, Shivanasamudram and Srirangam. Apart from having historical significance and natural beauty, these 3 islands are also major pilgrim centres.

All the 3 Islands have a temple dedicated to Lord  Vishnu popularly called as Sri Ranganatha. The reclining pose of Vishnu on the multiheaded serpent Adisesha is called Sri Ranganatha and his consort Lakshmi is called Ranganayaki. 

Sri Rangapattina is called Adi ranga (the first one)
Shivanasamudram is called Madhyaranga ( the middle one)
Sri rangam is called Antya ranga (the last one).

Of all these Srirangapattina and Sri Rangam are famous but  not much is known about Madhya ranga. This is supposed to be a 1500 year old temple built by the cholas, who were known for unique architecture  and the idol is made of  black fossil stone( saliigrama). A legend goes that Sri Hari gave darshan to Lord Indra here. The Idol is also small compared to adi and antya ranga, . Visiting all the 3 Rangakshetras ( adi, madhya and antya) between suryoday(dawn) to suryasth( dusk) is considered auspicious and  called Brahmanda darshan or triranga darshan. The belief of devouts is that this darshan washes away your sins and gives peace and plenty.

A tidbit: All of us know that the Pilgrim center SriRangapattina was the capital of Tipusultan, The ruler of Mysore who gave the British nightmares but very few of us know that he was a devotee of Sri Ranganatha. He is supposed to have had conversations with the Lord. He also rose to the morning chants of ' O Ranga' . My parents 80+ old neighbour @ bangalore  told me that there was a 'Sri Ranga' temple beside all Tipu's palace.  There is one at Bangalore city market too. Besides Tipu's wooden summer palace is a Fort temple dedicated to Vishnu.

Interested, may check a video on Madhyaranga here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

An electrifying affair with nature - Shimsha

Shivanasamudram in Mandya district is 120 kms from Bangalore via Bangalore – Mysore Highway( alternate route is Kanakapura road). In this Riverine Island formed by the Cauvery, the river branches off and cascades from a great height to form two segmented waterfalls, one the wider Barachukki and the other a kilometer away called Gaganachukki. Gaganachukki again has two views one from the darga(mosque) side and the other from the viewing gallery side. From the view gallery side you can view Asia’s First Hydroelectric power station cradled in the valley below which powered Kolar Gold fields in 1902 and Bangalore in 1905, thus making it the first city in Asia to get electrified. Currently there is no access to the station deep down in the valley but as school students when we went on an excursion, we were taken into the power station deep into the valley by a cabled wagon. No student of Kannada can escape a lesson on this place in their Kannada text.

It was to the above place we set out on a rainy May morning from my parents place in Bangalore. My husband got back to his work at Hyd leaving us at Bangalore for our vacation . My sister planned the above picnic in a hired tavera which accommodated my parents, sis, 3 children and me. We started at 6 in the morning with a food hamper on tow. The cloudburst which started the previous night did'nt deter us but played spoilsport till Maddur(famous for Maddur vada), so all we saw till Maddur was the hazy frames of the Bangalore-Mysore highway through the raised windows of the hired vehicle.

At Malavalli, where the road deviated and the rains drizzled we decided to have our home made breakfast. From here on the rains slowly faded out and we downed our windows to realize why most journeys are clichéd than the destination.

Emerald green fields of paddy,sugarcane and vegetables, drifting mists over the faraway mountains, swaying palms, A tree house( perhaps a watch tower for the paddy fields), quaint village houses with terracotta tiles, glistening leaves of trees washed by the rains, network of water channels, an old bridge like an ancient relic with pasi padinja(fungal) walls which looked steady and sturdy, Igglur dam, Madhyaranga(post coming up) were all the visual treats we had along with crisp fresh air till our vehicle suddenly slowed down on a new bridge which had the sign post ‘ Go slow, Bridge is weak’and treaded upon pot holed narrow road which were no not dusty but clean. (courtesy the rains). Sounds clichéd I know, but wait till you check the photos clicked by me.

The driver finally stopped after a 2.5 hour journey, outside the closed road to Barachukki, he showed us a trekker’s path to Barachukki. We trekked down the path for half a kilometer to hear the rush of Barachukki. Appa and amma could not walk further, not wanting to disappoint my son, my dad told the driver to escort the children up till the falls, I stopped midway when I saw the aerial view of the waterfall, but my sis, and the children continued till the point to capture the cascades.

Our next stop was Gaganachukki, 1.5 km away from Barachukki. This falls can be viewed form Darga side(mosque) and a few kms away is the view gallery side. This point is also called ‘Bluff. Here Shimsha, a tributary of Cauvery breaks into small channels and spreads widely making it a segmented waterfall. The rush of the water , the fresh rain soaked air and the stunning sights it makes with the smoke cloud can be viewed and felt from the cement chairs of the view gallery. Do mark this place when in Bangalore, this one spot is enough to transcend you to an heavenly world.

Adventurous people can trek down but there is a warning board which reads how a S/W engineer Kapil got killed in the water. The water force here is so powerful like an ocean that this place is called ‘Shivana samudra’(ocean of Shiva). The force of the Shimsha water was harnessed into hydroelectric power in 1902. thus earning the erstwhile Mysore state the glorius position of establishing the First major hydor-electric station as early as 1902 for commercial operation. This art was still at infancy, even in the advanced countries. The longest transmission line, with highest voltage in the world was constructed to meet the power needs of mining operations at Kolar Gold fields.

An electrifying place, Ain’t It?

My next stop was at Madhyaranga, a temple dedicated to reclining Vishnu.

Before you check the pics, some tips:

Plan it in your own vehicle than take a hired one. You can stop as you please. The whole route is a scenic delight. Take the Bangalore-Mysore highway, though this is the longer route the road is better till Malavalli. The alternate Kanakapura road is not advisable, unless they've repaired the road(this is the shortest route)

Bangalore- Mysore highway is a foodie’s paradise, you can enjoy the thatte idli at Bidadi and the world famous Maddur vada or dine in at Kamat Lokaruchi, Maddur Tiffany’s, MTR , café coffee house ,Mc D or the various dhabas and halli manes(karnataka dhabas)but beyond Malavalli at your own risk since there are no decent restaurant, so pack your food especially if you have children.

Avoid getting down into the falls since the currents are very strong.

When you are on a day’s trip you can cover the nearby Madhyaranga temple, Somanath, Talakad. If you still have a day at your disposal visit the nearby Mysore and its surrounding places like Srirangapattana, KRS, Balamuri falls( I call this Niagara), Ranganathittu, Kabini and many more. The list is endless………

Also on your return back visit Kanva reservoir and Janapada Loka, a folkvillage ( I missed seeing them)

I've translated all the above cliches into olympus moments. Click on them to feel the place.

From Malavalli to Shimsha, these were the scenes that travelled  with us making me feel I was travelling to a fairy land

                                         The meandering cauvery captured from the new bridge

The starting point of our 2km trek, the path was not smooth as it looks here, the barricaded grill on the right is the regular path which was closed for maintenance. It has a view gallery too. Also, Don't miss the drifting mists over the faraway mountains.

The faraway falls visible after a 1/2km trek, the other fragment hidden behind the bushes on your right will be visible after another 1km trek on a muddy terrain.

This segment of Barachukki, that was hidden behind in the above picture, During it's glory(july-oct), I was told this section looks like Niagara( wide falls)

This beautiful tree hut on our way out of Barachukki. Does'nt it look like a page out of Grimm's fairy tale book?

Th malavalli dam at Igglur on the way from Barachukki to Gaganachukki falls. The banks of the river dam is ideal for picnic. The river banks are very shallow and you can access the dam easily, but for the whirlpools. Ideal  to make your camp fire and food on a chulha. We just got down for some clicks.

The gaganachukki falls, Don't miss the horseshoe shaped landing between the two cascades on the left side.

Deep down in the valley,the blue shed you see is the Hydroelectric station and water is brought to the station through those green channels from Malavalli dam.(Info source: our car driver).

  The million $ expression(smile+fear) on my niece's face. She was scared to sit on the  barricade seat of the view gallery.

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Food thy medicine" and slowing down too ........

This was one of my drafts but the trigger for posting this was yesterday’s Tamil debate show ‘Neeya Naana', This is a beautiful talk show ably presented by journalist turned anchor Gopinath. The topics he chooses for his debate show are very simple but useful. I generally miss this show since the timings do not suit me.( the program starts at 9 and stretches till 10.30 and I have to rise early at 5). Yesterday was an exception since Ravi mama(my uncle) participated in it.

The participants were divided on two sides, one side were the fat people who had tried many slimming programs and never lost weight and the other side were the medium built and thin people many of whom were conductors and endorsers of ‘thinning’ programs and products. There were informative and heated exchanges between the teams.

There was this 40 year fat lady who was a doctor by profession and said she never tried any slimming programs or low cal diet and she was fit and happy with no lifestyle or obesity related diseases. On the other hand, there was a man who jumped and ran like a teenager and said he was 61 and he hardly looked that age again he had no lifestyle disease.

I could’nt agree with either the 40 year or 60 year old because in my world I know a 6 year old takes insulin shots, 16 year old having diabetes and newspaper reporting that 25 year old dies of heart attack and in my world there are 70+ and 80 year olds who have no signs of diabetes, Blood pressure or any lifestyle related problems. Similarly, I know people

who eat less but are fat ,
who eat more but are thin
who are fat but fit
who are thin but unhealthy

So then what exactly are the triggers of lifestyle diseases?

My sister (a nutritionist & dietician who worked as a food technologist,she is not practicing any more) says “It is not the food itself that makes people fat but the thoughts and way of eating food that along with stress induces the lifestyle diseases”.

Her tips for healthy eating:

1)The aim of eating and drinking should be to produce enough blood, produce sufficient heat and energy in the body and satisfy the taste.

2) Our balanced diet should include 6 tastes, sweet, salt, spice(hot like chilli),sour, bitter and astringent. Today most of us include the first two and avoid the last two tastes.
Avoiding bitterness and astringent upsets the digestive system and balance in our blood, there by leading to a number of diseases. These tastes nullify the bad effects of sweets and purify the blood.

2) Don’t eat food with anti-thoughts like in guilt, frown, anger. Every cell in the body will reject and moreover when you count calories, you deprive your body of essential fats.

3)’ Food thy medicine’ said Hippocrates. So include herbal vegetables like sundakkai(turkey berry),Narthangai( a bitter citron), bittergourd, manathakkali(black night shade), banana stem, neem flowers lots of herbal greens like agatthi keerai(humming bird tree), murungakeerai(drumstick leaves) etc., once in a while and restrict celebratory foods like sweets, greasy foods to festivals. Avoid canned foods too. When things are less, we eat with joy and happiness.

4) Take time to eat. Don’t gobble or rush your food. See, sense, smell and taste your food. Chew them well, even liquid and soft food like sweets and icecream at least 12-15 times. Not chewing the food is the root cause of lifestyle diabetes. Not chewing the food means extra work for stomach and over-exertion of stomach invites many diseases and even fat.

Seeing the healthy orthodox 60+ and 70+ elders in my world, I feel it is not just the food but also they way they cook, worship and celebrate food that has kept them healthy. All those so called orthodox practices are relevant to lifestyle and health. They eat bitter foods like sundakkai, manathakkali, vazhaithandu, nellikai, agatthi keerai atleast once in 15 days when they practice those special days like ekadesi, dwadasi. etc., They have their bath before cooking so that our tropical climate does not spread the germs, They believe in chanting shloka while cooking, whose vibrations have effect on the food while it is cooked on slow fire in metal vessels like iron(irumbu vanali), brass, tin(iya chombu) and stone(kal chatti). These vessels impart the trace elements, aroma and flavor rendering the food tasty. The cooked food is then worshipped and offered to god.

They ate hot and fresh food which were not refridgerated, squatting on floor they ate slowly by chewing food. Refined and oily fried foods were on ocassions. Cooking and eating food was a worship and celebration in olden days, no wonder they ate healthy, felt healthy in body and mind.

Today where is the time for many to practice the above? I myself had no time. I used to rush through cooking, gobble or skip breakfast and rush to the classes in peak hour traffic inhaling the dust and fumes of my city. All these triggered sinusitis and other respiratory problems( I never had them before Dr. assigns it to pollution) Moreover I came back home tired though it was in the afternoon. I could not attend to my children’s and family needs. I was never at peace. I realized the job was not worth it though it gave me satisfaction not at the cost of my health. Though I am a restless person, I know I can occupy myself and keep myself busy from home. I’ve slowed down.

And the beautiful thoughts of Chetan Bhagat at his symbiosis speech which I got as a mail forward, further made me realize that I was not the only one who felt this way. Now he is not an author whose books I like with exception to” marriage of two states”, that too I like it because it was connected to my birth town and he shares the same wedding venue as my parents (Sri karpagambal kapaleeswarar thirumana mandapam in chennai’s suburb mylapore) (some connection this).

Many of you would have got this as an email forward.....for those who hav'nt click on it for better read.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

India's Little England - Hosur

My Summer travel tales continue…

From Neyveli, our next stop was at Hosur on the border of Tamilnadu-Karnataka. This is another town which I can keep writing about. This place is home to manufacturing units of Industries like Tata’s Titan, Tanishq(jewels), TVS, Ashok Leyland ,Hindustan motors, TTK Prestige, Caterpillar, Easun-reyrolle and many industries related to manufacturing automobile bodies and automotive spares, bio-tech, pharmaceutical, tissue-culture, granite factories etc.

A place which cannot be classified as a 'laid back' town or an 'hyper-active' town. It takes a middle path. From what I have observed generally, people here have the approach of ‘Work while you work, play while you play’ May be because majority of them have jobs with 9-5 schedules unlike IT companies which work in different time zones that’s if you discount industrial problems like labour union, overtime etc.

Apart from the above Industries this city also earns good revenue through its horticulture and floriculture exports. Hosur soil is very fertile and so ideal to grow vegetables like cabbage,carrot, beetroots, colored bell peppers, tomatoes, cauliflowers etc., Tons of vegetables are exported to other parts of the country and this town also houses TANFLORA.

Tanflora is the largest agri-export company for cut flowers in the world producing nearly millions of cut flowers per annum. They breed, cultivate and export flowers like carnation, lilies, gerbera and the world famous valentine red rose. This variety created by a rose breeder in Holland is patented and cultivated in Hosur . It is a deep red budded rose with long stalk and big leaf. Another rose by name ‘Kohinoor’ which is a baby orange-pink rose is also cultivated here. The main markets for these flowers are Europe, Australia,the middle East and Japan. The valentine rose was patented in 2009 and the exports have been doubled and tripled since then. All these are possible not only because of the fertile soil but also because this place is elevated 3000ft above sea level and thus enjoys a compatible and salubrious climate all round the year. The reason why it is called “India’s Little England”. The flowers grown here travel in refridgerated vans to Bangalore and then airlifted to various countries like Amsterdam, Germany, Abudhabi, Singapore , Australia etc.So next time you are in any of those countries and see these red and pink roses. Remember these roses are made in India's Hosur.

The history of this town is pre-dated to 2000 years. During sangam age it was called ‘Muraasu nadu’ and ruled by king Adhiyamaan( the king who gave gooseberry to tamil poetess Avaiyaar to prolong her life), The Cholas, Rajputs, Nayaks, Hoysalas,British East India during Cornwallis time, Tipusultan and many more have ruled this place.

The above are not the reasons I visit this city, I visit it since my sis stays here in a beautiful colony which has lovely independent houses. It has wonderful townships to reside. I have already written about them but notable is the Titan township built for Titan employees exclusively designed by Charles Correa and land developers in nearby Bangalore have already blueprinted their share in this town.

It has well-organised, disciplined , structured schools like Titan school, TVS academy, Sishya, Siddhartha village school. Here I have to mention about the school which my niece goes to. This CBSE school has excellent infrastructure and teaching methods. The school is set amidst orchards of Mango, chikku, pomegranate, custard apple etc., and you have freely roaming peacocks, ducks and rabbits as companions. The class rooms are under the canopy of trees like in gurukul method. They also have state-of-art class rooms. No exams till 8th standard. The children are free to pursue what they want. The Engineering, Medicine, Management degrees of Hosur come from Adhiyamaan university named after King Adhiyamaan.

An interesting observation I made during my short stay this time was when we visited the purely vegetarian Hotel Arusuvai( 6 taste).The menu had interesting food items apart from the regular varieties. For the first time I saw the tamil version of Paratha called as Parota. I have seen them in the southern parts of Tamilnadu on the roadside eateries though I have never tasted them. Making this parota is an art. These parota called 'Veechu parota' is not rolled with a rolling pin but made by tossing, it elongates with each toss in the air.

The menu read Kutthu parota( shredded paratha), Veechu parota, Idiappam(Rice noodles), Vada curry( a side dish made with vadas). The waiter keyed the orders on what looked like a mobile phone and moved to the next table. Later, I realized it was an Ipad through which he took the order and it was relayed immediately to the central kitchen and food was on our table in just 10 minutes while the waiter was still in the dining area. I have never seen bearer keying orders on a Ipad(or is it Iphone) in all those hotels in Major cities. Have you?

I took the phone from him to click the above image. Is it Iphone? or Ipad?(cos it looked like a phone but It was marked Ipad, not similar to the ones we know.

Other than this, I enjoyed the early morning walks , just a kilometer down my sis’s house led me to the vegetable patches and a kilometer up led me to the bustling central business city under the NH flyover Golden quadrilateral.   Yeah, this National Highway connecting the major metros of India passes through this town. You can have the best of both worlds in this small town.

I have decided to explore this town more during my next visit by visitng all those Historical forts, ancient temples and picturesque places around Hosur. Bangalore is just 15 minutes away from Hosur because of which it is slowly emerging as a satellite town of Bangalore. Many employees of Electronics city and Health city find it convenient to commute from Hosur than stay in Koramangala, HSR or BTM layout( residential areas of Bangalore). It is also recently connected to Bangalore- Mysore road by NICE road but after a night’s stay at Hosur, I moved with my family, sis and niece to Bangalore via NH-7.

National highway 7 from Hosur to Bangalore showcases the dreams of all those entrepreneurial Indians who started their business in a room/garage and now some are listed in Fortune 500. Infosys, Wipro, Biocon, Dr. Devi shetty’s Narayana Hrudayalaya, MTR, Nilgiris( the first supermarket chain of India) and countless MNC’s like GE, Fanuc etc.,

Next week to a fairy tale destination from Bangalore.

Check some pics (courtesy Tanflora)

I have always awed at those beautiful tulip gardens of Amsterdam in pictures but never knew India exported flowers to Amsterdam.
The red roses are 'Tajmahal' which expresses love during valentines and new year and orange-pink are 'Kohinoor'

Small lilies

Cabbage patches

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Let them be children

My son came home after his play time last evening and said,

“Amma, Looks like Amar uncle(name changed) gets more salary than Appa” (Amar uncle is my husband’s colleague)

Taken aback by his innocent statement and tone, equally wondering why he was bothered about the salary, I asked him “ en da?” (Why man?)

My son said " because only Ritwik(name changed) has an iphone and a GM bat" (Gun and Moore- branded cricket bat).

Now Ritwik is in Class 5 and brings his iphone while he comes down to play within the complex.This time I was not shocked because that is how parents spend on children today.

Though there are parents like this, there are some parents like us who are not brand conscious especially when it comes to children’s toys, gaming equipments and clothing.

When we buy our children’s items, we keep in mind their comfort, style and to a certain extent durability especially with their dresses and play equipments. They outgrow their dresses very quickly( 6 months max) and buying a high-end label is more expensive compared to mid- range brands. Moreover all those Tirupur cottons and mid range brands are much more durable and good for casual wear and not mass produced like the branded wear, where you have the same design starting from 0 size to 34 size.

Same with play equipments, they outgrow them too. When it's IPL time they play cricket, football season they play football, other times they are busy with beyblades( chinese version of olden day spinning top), bakugans(again similar to chinese version of goli(marbles).

If there is one thing, that we as parents don’t compromise, It's the quality of sports shoes they wear. We prefer good shoes since it is a question of comfort while running, playing and foot growth.

But how does it matter with a bat?

You don’t need a ‘kookaburra’ or GM bat to hit a six or four. You can always throw a ‘6’ or sweep a ‘4’ with mid range bats, all that matters is your technique.

Children of today have to be taught the value of money else they treat money like tissue paper. Since young we have taught our kids ‘Money value’ than ‘brand value’. Though we can afford some comforts, we have purposely avoided(not deprived, depriving we feel could turn children aggressive) so that my children must be used to disappointments and discomforts like living in non-ac, travelling by bus etc., and also getting used to disappointments and failures develops their mental strength at an young age. Their mind gets seasoned to failures and disappointments when they face the competitive adult world.

I live in a place where there are enough children to raise 10 foot ball or cricket teams. All these children come from diverse backgrounds and culture. There is lot of peer learning and peer pressure. Now you can’t except every parent to share the same thoughts or teach their child the value of money, especially some parents believe in buying material comforts especially the branded ones available at exorbitant rates for their children to compensate for the quality time they can spend with their child and for the pressure they feel at school. The children in turn flash it amongst their peers to show their superiority. We can’t blame those parents either who feel guilty for not spending time. Added to this are all those advertisements on TV which are specially aimed at children. I know their job is to sell their products, but as parent we have a responsibility to keep our children from all those marketing and peer pressure. Sometimes I feel like telling them "Come on people,Let them be children, all they need is time, love,values not material".

When we start giving in to their demands and meet their wants, there comes a time in their life when they are not able to accept “No” as an answer and then they take the extreme step.They have to learn to deal with peer pressure too . No point in shielding them against TV and peer pressure.

My friend once told me of a school going girl in Delhi. She committed suicide because her dad sent her to school in a santro car and not in a sedan car like her peers. She pestered her dad to send her in a sedan car but her middle class parents who worked hard and raised a loan to send her to this upmarket school and met all her tantrums could not give in to this demand and the result was there in the paper next day “ "School going girl commits suicide because dad can’t afford Sedan ”

Another recent report which I read last week in the Hyderabad edition of 'The Hindu' stated that “15 year old student dies because father buys her a Chinese mobile instead of Nokia”. Not a healthy trend.

Under these circumstances, today’s parenting is an art. There are times when we as parents are on the crossroads, should we indulge and pamper our children or should we ration their wants and comforts to drive the fact that nothing comes easy in life and everything is hard earned.

But thankfully I’m blessed with children who know the value of money and can live in less comfort too.

Sometimes when I myself go overboard carried by the stirrings of my maternal love, I’m grounded by my children who tell me ‘Amma, you pamper us too much. Don’t waste money and Please be little strict’

Sometimes, I question my son "Do you feel like owning a GM bat?" He answers, " No ma, it is simply waste of money".

Here it is not the question of spending power, its the question of values.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Auroville - an Utopia

Auroville is a commune that is set up 14 kms North of Pondicherry in Vizhupuram district. Auroville, meaning the ‘City of Dawn’ was visualized by Sri Aurobindo Ghosh and his French Disciple Mirra Alfassa(popularly called The mother). Sri Aurobindo visualized this as a place where people of all races and religions could live freely as citizens of the world in harmony.

The highlight of this commune is the the design of ‘Matri mandir’ which is a meditation hall. It is shaped like a golden golf ball with its circular plate like patterns. The lower hemisphere consists of stairs leading you to the upper hemisphere.You are given clean and sparkling white socks to wear and you enter The upper hemisphere which is dressed in pristine white upholstery( I’m not able to recall but I think it is something like the dhurries). The centre of the hall has a huge crystal ball triple the size of a foot ball and directly up above in the ceiling is an opening which allow sunlight to fall on the crystal and illuminates the whole meditation hall. Absolute silence is maintained here all you can hear is the sound of your own breath. You don’t have to subscribe to their teachings to soak in the calmness of this place, but yes you are given an entry pass with a small write up on how to conduct within.

But wait, there is another high point or uniqueness to this place. That it believes and practices environment development. Today many laboratories and research institutions are working on innovative technologies which are environmentally viable for today’s warming world and Auroville is a part of this quest for a sustainable future.

20 years back this place was a plateau of canyons carved with running rain water which drained into the nearby Bay and had a few cashew and mango trees but with lot of hardwork and research of auro followers it has turned now into a bio-region worth emulating by the rest of the world – all in a span of 20 years. Lots of greenery through afforestation, water conservation practices through recycling of waste water,recharging ground water and harvesting rain water.

Organic farming is practised using natural manure, buildings are constructed using the principle of natural architecture using bio-degradable materials like mudbricks,ferro-cement,flyash clay, bamboo and are designed for flow of natural air and light. Energy is harnessed through the various solar panels and so less electricity is used. Even wind energy is tapped though on a minor scale. Your laptops will run on wi-fi enabled by solar energy.

The central part of this place is closed to vehicles like cars and mostly you will find people using cycles and electric mopeds. Even in the day to day life,they follow simple green practices which leave a huge impact on the long run in our environment.

The bio-degradable wastes are reused as compost for their organic farming, eco-sanitation, community recycling and reuse of old and unwanted items, using old newspapers to make crafts and jewelery which are then sold in auroboutiques, community schedules like having tea at the same time at all auroville offices. Since the tea production is in bulk, less fuel energy is used in the preparation of tea. Simple practices like these are effective in saving energy in the long run, discouraging and replacing plastic bags and spreading green messages and making every inhabitant and nearby villagers aware of the environment.

You can find many foreigners and Indians living here. They are followers of this spiritual cult and leave their cushy jobs in the field of engineering, medicine, architecture, law etc and go back to their work or country after a break of two years or so. They subscribe and contribute to the above principles on environment. It is nice to see these westerners wear Indian clothes and cycle around the place and practise Indianess like yoga, meditation etc.,

They have lots of auroboutiques selling auroproducts like jewellery, jute, handmade paper, dry flower crafts, aromatic products all these are famous world over(but expensive).

Auroville has absorbed and blended the goodness of old and the new and is emerging as a model centre for the rest of the country and the world.

Worth emulating its spiritual and environment practices to cool the globe.

Pic courtesy: Flashnews