Sunday, November 27, 2011

A proud mom writes

I could'nt rest till I wrote this.

In the past 16 years, I have not watched any serial regularly.  I repeat, regularly, except two comedy serials in tamil called 'veetukku veedu looty' and kasalavu nesam. I havn't followed  any of the K series serials neither do i watch any english sitcoms( I don't understand them). But i have recently made exception with Bade acche lagte hain.(click on the link to know wjat the serial is about) There is suddenly a spurt of beautiful value based serials on sony TV.

While i was watching the repeat telecast with my children, in between were the promos for an upcoming serial called parvarish. This serial is about parenting. The teaser showed two sisters pinky and sweety who are mom of teens. Pinky says a parent should be strict and must never give liberty to children. She does'nt even  understand and realise her pre teen daughter is a talented singer, while her sis sweety is a very liberal mom and has to face the consequences of that  in her teen daughter.

While this promo was going on, my son who was having his noon lunch after coming back from school said

"A parent should never be strict like pinky aunty and lenient like sweety aunty. A parent has to be like amma and appa - a combination of both".

for which my dot retorted - yes, they should be like our amma and appa, they should be a combo of both and not too friendly too, we have lot of friends but amma and appa can only be one.

And these are the children who made me proud during the recent PTA meet when my dot's teacher told. "It's rare to have a child who can be sincere, dedicated and meticulous these days. you are blessed to have such a child."
.Her hindi teacher( she topped in hindi amongst her mother tongue hindi speaking classmates) and her strict maths teacher told her in front me
"you should'nt be scared of trignometry.  Remember  Sh, trignometry should be scared of  you. (she lost 4 marks in this branch and scored 76/80). All the other teachers too  had only words of praise for her like sincere, diligent, meticulous, well behaved , affectionate, obedient behaves well with her peers and teachers etc.,

It's a different story that she throws tantrums and fights with her bro for the silliest reason at home, but I came home a proud mom.

My son's teacher was equally appreciative and said. 'He is attentive and gives me extra information about the subject. Never mind if he does'nt top the class, he understands the concept and applies them. Though his handwriting is not good and legible like his sis, that is how boys his age are. He gets away with his naughtiness by throwing his beautiful and obedient smile".

As a mom, i was glad to hear those remarks and see the marks. All these when my children don't even go to tuitions but attend music, drawing and play games(it is very difficult to pin down my  playful son for studies, but when he concentrates he catches up things in no time) till the day prior to the exam.

This post may sound pompous, a proud mom writes this because I was certified by my children.

Thank you my dear dot and son.  My only wish is -  God bless them to remain that way in the future too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Written in Heaven....... celebrated on Earth

That  time of the  year when soulmates unite,    lifelong commitment is made  to share their life and grow old together. Yes, the  celebration season  is on with wedding invitations rolling in, where the bride and groom have a  headrush and butterflies overcome their senses while  the luster of a bright future engulf their thoughts.
In these days of trans continental weddings ,  I have a  Gujrati,  Kannada and Punjabi invitation  and  some  invitations are from my own community, the venue in my birth town which I would have to give a miss,  which in turn means giving the  colorful festivities and feast a miss.

Like in any of our subcontinental wedding, even tamil  iyer weddings are celebrated richly, ritualistically traditionally and colorfully.

 Most wedding halls  in Tamilnadu   would be adorned with full grown  plaintain trees, signifying evergreen plenty for endless generations and overhead  festoons of mango leaves and coconut glades signify the never fading bonding  which would begin there(though scientifically it has a different reason).  Mellifluous sounds of nadaswaram  reaches its crescendo signifying everyone present  that the union of two souls is sacred and divine.  Beautiful  kolams in white and red would match the mood of the occasion  ushering in the well wishers dressed in  rustling silk sarees and white veshti’s( dhoti)  or  their traditional best.

All guests would be welcomed by the sprinkle of the perfumed rosewater, flowers and sugar candy(mishri) /
In its festive splendor it is a fitting beginning to the richness of the wedding to follow. What was once a five day affair during my MIL’s time( she was married in the 40’s at the age of 12)  has now been reduced to a  2 day affair or in some cases it also has been briefed to a few hours at the temple or at the civil court, arya samaj or in a hotel.

These days the bride and groom design their own website and roll out invitations defining  the various rituals and their significance. In an arranged marriage, It all begins with the matching of  horoscopes and then the mutual like of the bride,  groom and their families  and once this is over.  The  preparations begin for the celebrations.

Sharing with you all what I found in one of the invitations.

Ah! wait......Before that an interesting  anecdote, I had a tam brahm neighbor  who was an army personnel. He was very spiritual and  a follower of one of the famous Indian saint who died recently. He was looking for an alliance for his only son who was an engineer in the United states.   He left for the US the following month and so handed his house keys and car for its upkeep and care to us.  Before leaving   he  told me and my husband that his main job in the US would be to look for a suitable girl for his son through the various matrimonial sites and asked us also to let him know if we knew a suitable girl in our community.
And guess what we hear from him the following week. He called  us to tell in a sing-song voice that his would-be dil is  a brit-american girl Catherine Box. 

Is'nt that  how the weddings are these days?  Global and trans continental.  I just can’t stop admiring at many such  parents who are broad minded , progressive, adjust and adapt so well to the new relationship and there are so many such parents now. Of course, that uncle related to me how he debated the cultural differences with his son but to change his culturally conditioned mind at the age of 60 needs lot of maturity.

And yes, I have seen that girl who on  a visit to India last navrathri wore a saree  and gave haldi-kunkum to all the invited ladies .

 A pretty long post, so will post the rituals and  their significance in my next post.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Toyland, Ahoy!

Whenever I travel the Bangalore –Mysore route, the child in me pops on seeing  the arch “Toy town - Chennapatna welcomes you”.   I always try to stop at this place to have a look at all those beautiful  and colorful  chennapatnada gombegulu( chennapatna dolls) adorning the shelves on those tiny shops which are on either side of the highway.
This little town which is 60kms from Bangalore just after the Sholay town ramnagaram( hindi movie sholay was shot here) is famous for eco-friendly hand made wooden toys and locally it is called gombegala ooru ( toy town).
This ancient art which has survived many generations is believed to be the art of Persian toy makers, who were brought to India by the Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.  Made out of rain forest tree wood, colored with vegetable dyes and polished with  blades of grass which have an abrasive property , these toys have no sharp edges . These are child-friendly, eco-friendly and non-toxic  compared to the battery operated expensive electronic toys. From each rain wood tree they make 2000 toys and for every 20 toys they sell they plant a tree, thus for every tree cut to make toys, they plant 100 trees making their rain forest multiplier as100. Similarly the vibrant colours, ivory tones and lacquer finish  comes from natural tree waxes and cactus leaf oil, all of which are non-toxic.  
 What’s more you save on the cost of batteries and e-waste, when you buy these mechanical toys which work on the principle of winding. 
Like any other child, my children too born in the electronic age played with battery operated electronic toys.  These toys were educational and entertaining. No doubt on that but they were’nt safe. Made with plastic and lead these toys required constant monitoring while they played ,  moreover the batteries were an additional expense on our monthly budget and  the batteries were part of our monthly provision or shopping list with one toy having a 9v Duracell battery costing 120Rs  and 6 numbers of 1.5v battery. That way, these wooden toys are a good alternative and an ideal gift material.
A decade back,  this industry  faced a  huge challenge from the Chinese toy market and was almost on the brink of close-down but survived, due to the interest shown by  some NGO’s and  bulk orders from some famous MNC’s .  After surviving the challenge, today they have diversified to meet the modern day requirements and so along with traditional toys like dolls, mind games, mathematical games, dolls abacus, tic-tac-toe spinning tops,rocking horse, pallankuzhi etc.,  they also make modern day games and meet the requirements of emerging markets by making roller-bead seat cover, car  back rests, mandasanam( pooja alcoves),candle holders, decorative pieces like vintage cars, motorcycles, wooden bead curtains, chess board table etc,. They have products for all ages from  toddler toys to old man's walking aids.( see the pics below)

  These toys/products/dolls are now popular in most of the art and craft exhibitions  held across India and have a huge export order market from western and European countries.   During her recent visit to India  Michelle obama has picked some of these Chennapatna toys as mementos and today they adorn  White house too. With the help of NGO’s and MNC’s they design and produce world class toys which has led to the revival of this craft and  the artisans. Microsoft is one of their major customer.
Personally ( to the best of my knowledge),my first visit to  this place was when I was just 11 and my paternal grand mom got me a jewel box which i cherish to this date.( she passed away a couple of months later and so was the last gift from her) and a stencilled colored alphabet kit for my 5 year old sis and from then on it is a ritualistic stop for me at chennapatna  whenever enroute mysore. 
 Next time while you are on the Bangalore –Mysore highway, indulge the child in you and pay a visit to these toy shops or if you’re luckier pay a visit to the homes where these dolls are crafted and have a visual tour. You will be thrilled to see the child in you surf up!
Check the pics below clicked by me on my latest visit and have your pick....

                                  ....  keychains, car hangings, window and wall hangings........

                                   .... showpieces, wall masks,  pooja mantaps

                                   The traditional stacker ring dolls.

                                      roller toys and colorful pallankuzhi

                               stationary items like erasers, sharpeners, stand alone dolls.............

                               pen holders, jewel boxes, kunkum bharnis and roller rabbits...........

                                casks, wooden vintage bikes, cars 
and many more like  crafted rosewood inlay tables, centre tables ........all at any of the chennapatna wooden toy stall anywhere in Indian art/craft exhibition or at Cauvery emporias across India.