Sunday, October 28, 2012

Our 'Homestay' Vacation

Our travel plans grounded  this  Dussehra Vacation and we also had no official celebrations this year at home but all these did not deter the spirit. We celebrated our 'home stay' vacation in a different way.

And how?

Shop, eat, celebrate that was the mantra for us this vacation.

For the past 15 days , we had no alarm to wake us up, no hurried curry to make, no rolling rotis at 5.30  in the morning, no waiting school bus at 7 , no worry about the tiffin box menu, no googling socks and books - It was as though the world had stopped for us. For we never saw the sun rise but slept close to sunrise.

We woke up  leisurely, read our news papers and went about enjoying life in a slow pace....

They planned the menu for the day and daily  they  made it a part of their  routine to make something new. They did'nt stick to the Pizza, burgers and baking black forest cakes. With age,they had to move ahead, from budding chefs to  gourmet gurus and now they had to be  Junior  master chefs in the making. 

And so , together they googled the recipes,  cooked Multigrain carrot cake(substituting eggs with Flax seeds),Homemade chocolates and Au gratins.

And they  helped me to make multi cuisine like vegetable  Sizzlers, Jeera rice, Makhana pulao,  Malai koftas, Hyderabadi Biryani and mirch ki salan, appam - stew, pineapple gojju and of course we never forgot our own traditional tanjore cuisine of vathal kozhumbu, Thengai thogaiyal,  paringikkai paal kootu,  rasam etc.,. 

Each day we tried to add variety in our menu, we browsed in the internet,  shopped the ingredients  and churned out something exotic by tweaking and twisting the original recipe. 

They had holiday home work/project time too which doubled as  slumber parties where the team mates got together to make a project for the national children science Congress (Koodangalum nuclear project) which begins tomorrow.

For this the menu were  Veg sizzler, Pasta Arabiata and the flax seed cake and for an other punjabi friend slumber party, we had  Kal Chatti vathal kozhumbu, idli and sambar, Rava dosa and eggless  Chocolate Ganache cake . Now of course we impressed  the  friends so much that they loved the vatthal kozhumbu and want to buy a kal chatti(stone vessel - a heirloom which i cherish).  

In the evening, we went our ways, He went to make soccer moves with his friends, She for her cycling and girlie talk time with her friends and I for the golu  visits. 

We watched movies, our fav serials and shows swapping between cookery, travel, music  shows, cartoon and sports shows.

As always bed time is our bonding time-  recalling memories by browsing through our old photo albums, narrating their childhood memories and then  listening to songs  from barfi, aiyaa and the latest hits. In short, this stay at home vacation  would make an entry into our memory chip as 'Rishton ka time' of course the skype time completed the family picture. 

They  hugged,  They cuddled, they cajoled,  they  cried, they kicked, they fought, they sang, they danced . I was  a mute spectator admiring   their antics, wise cracks* and talks, admonishing their fights  sometimes and at most times a referee too .Who ever said "Having one child makes you a parent, having two makes you a referee" - I raise my hand.

Personally for me the most endearing moment were when my dot helped me clean the house, wash the dishes and  when my son made me the 'chai', put the clothes for drying and helped me in his own little ways without even being told. ( My maid was on her dussehra vacation).

These little things are what goes to show they love they care.

In short to summarize our vacation was nothing grand and exotic it was simple, sweet, stylish  and slow paced  like barfi's song "Itni si hasi,itni si  kushi...."

We are back to our routine tomorrow charged emotionally and physically. I have added a couple of kilos. But i am sure, I will shed them for I will run the race of fast paced life from tomorrow. 

P.S: Sharing with you a wise crack my son made:
A friend who came home asked my 13 year old  " How is it S, despite playing in the hot sun you never get tanned, you are so fair"

My son promptly replied "that is because i am not in Congress"

My friend looked askance at me and i relayed the expression to my son.

He replied " I don't make unfair decisions, so I am fair". Got the drift?

And now our vacation menu rolls:

                                        Hommade chocolates in the moulds

                                              All ready to be wrapped

All wrapped and colorful, nothing beats the feeling to make your own chocolates. They had total fun.

Our first attempt at making Sizzler, simply mast said my son and my dot who according to me qualifies   to be a master chef  Australia judge said " Awesome ma". 
                                                                  Appam - Stew
                                               Malai Kofta curry with multigrain rotis

Pine apple gojju

  Will edit to add my vatal kozhumbu pic.
vatal Kozhumbu( a tangy traditional cuisine of southern tamilnadu made with sun dried veggies) in a  black stone vessel,   pumpkin paal kootu( a gravy made with milk and tender pumpkin) and sundried fried berries( manathakali)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Junkar and Vallom - An unique way to commute

The Hyderabad traffic police were craning  the scooty’s and bikes parked in the no parking zone. The vehicles were lifted with a hook onto the back of the truck.  The vehicles inside the truck reminded me of a similar scene at Vypeen island in Kerala. 
At Ernakulam, when we checked into Bharat tourist homes in Dec'08 we were not tired after travelling a 24 hour journey from Hyderabad. We refreshed ourselves and went to the reception office to book a cab to Cherai beach. The reception guy suggested us to take a boat ferry instead of a cab. We took his advice to make a journey,  a  journey to discover beautiful sights and reach  Cherai.

We took a boat jetty from Ernakulam and reached a place called Vypeen island. We disembarked from the rickety boat jetty and boarded a local bus to reach Cherai. As we sat in the bus and were waiting for it to leave. A similar sight of vehicles like car, motorbikes, cycles and even a minibus carrying passengers drove onto the landing of the big motor jetty using the roll on- roll off(Ro-Ro) concept. . The jetty locked itself and started its journey towards Ernakulam carrying all the vehicles and its owners. Only here the owners of the vehicles willingly drove and parked their vehicles inside the boat jetty unlike hyderabad. It was a very interesting sight to see the vehicles being transhipped. Here it is a means of commuting. Since Ernakulam has many islands around it like Fort Kochi, Vypeen and Willingdon. The people during peak hours to avoid the traffic over bridge find it a easy means of commuting. This transportation is called “Junkar Ferry”.
Similarly when I was travelling through Vypeen island to reach Cherai, the back waters of the Arabian sea formed canals inside the village and the kutcha  houses on either side of the palm fringed canals found it easier to use the valloms ( wooden plank boat)  than the bridge. Every house had a vallom tied to the palm tree outside it. The sight of  the tender coconut and fish laden valloms sailing on the canals made a picture post card sight. Also, this island faces a huge water crisis and so it is a familiar sight to see water pots on the vallom. Potable water is carried here through the back water channel.
I ‘ve heard that many  tourists  don’t travel this way and instead take the Goshree bridge(by road) to travel to Cherai from Ernakulam. We only had to thank the manager at Bharat travel homes who suggested us this way to reach Cherai instead of taking a cab.
The junkar ferry(see the auto & 2 mini lorry)

vallom laden with coconuts
 We had a nice time discovering the country life of these people who commuted with vallom and junkar ferry. When here leave no opportunity to miss the relaxed way of life  where many houses go about their daily chores without even glancing at you.  They glide in a ferry to their work as if that is the most natural thing to do and i still can't forget the beautiful fishing scenes on my way back. The fishermen fishing with the lanterns in the late dec evening made such a surreal sight . I did  capture in my camcorder for posterity but lost them due to my carelessness. A beautiful Island and an unspoilt beach near Ernakulam. Already blogged about it here. 

Making or planning a holiday  is not a big deal. But to make the holiday and journey a lifetime memory is. One such lifetime memory is from my Ernakulam (kerala) trip. 

pics: google

Monday, October 22, 2012

A gift to show gratitude and hospitality

When I saw the latest prompt for the contest from Blogadda,  i  thought i have already written about this  a couple of years back and  so did not give much of a thought.  I was enjoying the vacation with my children, socializing  and soaking the festive season visiting golu  at many of friend's place. Just as i was walking back from a friends place last evening  with the  tamboolam( goody bag)  in my hand, I realized I had something to share about the crazy shopping I did for the goody bag gifts last summer.

Here I go, this post exclusively for blogadda’s contest.

When my children were young, one of the most painful pleasures I had to undergo was choosing a gift for my children’s many friends birthday. Painful because most of the times I had to hunt for the right gift at the last moment, pleasure because the brightly  wrapped  gift pack lights up the face of the child.

 It is a known fact that today most children are blessed with the best of books, clothes and toys. So anything you gift them would only duplicate or even quadruplate  their collection. It has happened to my own children. I have many such books, toys and board games which I have donated  to the toy bank .
Thankfully my children are now in their teens( 13 & 15 now) and so choose the gifts to go with their friend’s wishes or make handmade quilled collages or scrap books for their friends. Recently they gifted their dad a handmade scrap book containing his photos from childhood to now and a MP3 CD containing songs which he heard during his college hostel days ( During their talk sessions they found  out his favorite songs in college). This comes in handy when he listens in his car and he said that was the best gift he ever got. Together, they source and create similar handmade gifts for my parents, in-laws, near and dear ones.

                     The  hand made scrap book made with handmade recycled paper( don't miss the frilled golden lace at the base and top)

                       The first page of the collage containing his solo photos with a poem by her for her dad. the succesive pages photos collaged from our marriage titled jodi no 1, his photos with elders in the family titled blessed by elders and a page exclusively devoted with photos of them with beautiful foot notes.

 I have been spared from this crazy act  of choosing gifts though a pleasureable one. For my own friends and colleagues, generally many of my like minded friends come together and  do group gifting which is pooling the cash and then buying a gift voucher. For very close relatives like cousins we gift  cash which is easier and they make their own choice.

But very recently, in the May gone by,  my son’s thread ceremony( yagnopaveeth/ poonal) was scheduled. This event is a socio religious event  and the event requires preparations as good as a wedding . The venue was fixed close to our native at a beautiful place and we wanted a grand celebration so that we could meet all the elders and youngsters at one place after a long time. It is occasions  like this which brings the close knit family and relatives around the world  under one roof.

The venue, the caterer, photo –video grapher, purohits and all other arrangements were taken care of by my family elders. But the task of invitations and gift giving fell on me. Invitations were done with the help of my cousin’s husband who owns a printing press. That left me with gifts. I thoroughly enjoyed shopping for the gifts after a long time and I managed to pick up good sarees, dress materials, shirts etc, for the elders and young ones but the task of buying a gift article to go with the tamboolam was what drove me crazy.

Tamboolam is a goody bag or like a party favour which is a tradition of  guest hospitality which is followed in south Indian festive occasions like baby shower, house-warming, weddings, thread ceremony or even festivals like the ongoing  Navaratri.

It is a token  of gratitude  and love the host shows to the guest for attending the event and blessing the host( in my case, the son at thread ceremony). It generally consists of betel leaf, arecanut and coconut / grapefruit along with this a gift like a memento.

This gift was what drove me crazy. I shopped from shop to shop in general bazaar, a traditional market in Hyderabad where you  find lots of party favors and gifts for goody bags amonst many things. I even asked  the shopkeeper  “ bhaiya, aisa koi naya cheez dikhao jo dikhnay may accha  ho, durable bhi ho aur anokha bhi ho,” and to all this I wanted a stamp of ethnicity on it  and so told him “  … aur kuch hyderabadi bhi ho”. After all you get mass produced gifts everywhere and so  I wanted something hyderabadi.

They showed me so many items  like embellished banjaran draw string bags, hyderabadi lac mirror ware items like pens, key chains, divine collections like miniature lac  ganeshji and other icons, Banjara mirror work cell phone pouches, jewelery pouches, lac incense holders, kumkum bharni, dress pouches, card holders, banjaran mirror work purses. I did narrow down on the last one but I found most of them would need card slots to keep their credit cards. This purse would be worthless in utility, though beautiful and ethnic to look at.

Then after getting in and out of many shops, I landed at Karachi bag works. This shop is where I generally shop for my children’s school bags and other bag needs. It also sells trendy ethnic bags and purses. I recently bought my  leather wallet here.  I asked him the same here “ Bhaiya,  aisa koi naya cheez dikhao……….”.  He showed me a beautiful rose bag. Which looked like a small multi petalled rose and fits into your palm, when unpetalled  this would become a bag.  I found this ideal to carry, when you go for walks or just drop it into your handbag.

 Now-a - days most shops avoid giving plastic covers or charge extra for the plastic bags. At times like these and , just in case you go for walking, you could buy things , unfold this Rose and carry the  shopped things home. An ideal gift, that had utility value and aesthetic value.  I have a strawberry bag which I carry for walks and when  at home  this bag cocoons into the strawberry and dangles from  my dining hall curtain hook like a show piece. I was delighted when I get that elusive gift piece. I wanted it in bulk and so told him to pack  those and I got it for an excellent rate.

But wait….. my delight bubble lasted only for  a while.

Just as he was packing, I took one of the bags and pulled the drawstring and out came the clip in my hands.
 OH NO!  this is not for rough use. I told him I don’t want such a delicate gift.

And then he suggested something unique, yet he told me it was not hyderabadi like the rose one. I was ok, by now I was tired of finding that gift which met all my criteria and so I had to let go one of those criteria.

He now showed me a bag with good quality material which when folded looked like a purse and when the 3 folds were unfolded  it opened up to be a beautiful and colorful shopping bag. It could hold more items than the rose bag. I was maha impressed with this bag. This looked beautiful, useful and compact. Just what I wanted only it did not have the ethnic tag. Never mind, I narrowed on this gift to go with the tamboolam.(goody bag)

Six months have gone by since I gifted those bags, till today I have got many  calls from near and dear ones and during the course of conversation, they  tell me that was one of the most useful gifts they have got and comes handy when they go out and fits snugly into their handbag.   

Well, that is what I want my gifts to speak. Because whenever I buy a gift, I generally don’t pick anything off the shelf. I am a person who goes for something which is unique and has utility value for the recipient.  A good gift should be remembered forever and speak about your thoughtfulness, care, affection and gratitude and that perfect gift  need not be expensive.   

The strawberry bag and  the folded elusive bag which sent me on a crazy shopping spree

When unfolded the bag shapes up like this.

This post is a part of the contest at in association with 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Students blessed at Basar

That time of the year when the whole country wears a festive look be it the Durgapuja of the East, The ramlila/ ravan dahan / kulu dussehra in the north, the garba dandiya navratras of the west or down south with us the Mysore dussehra or navratri. Call it by any name the essence of the pan indian festival is the same  - the triumph of the good over evil by legend or scientifically the seasonal influence on humans  and religiously by faith the puja to the female trinity of the hindu pantheon – Durga, lakshmi and saraswati.

One such temple which houses the divine Trinity is at Basar, 200 kms from Hyderabad. People flock to this temple during Navratri .Though the ancient temple has the divine trio, the main deity is Saraswati and hence it is known as the Gnana Saraswati temple at Basar( Basra in telugu). An ancient temple surrounded with GHMC maintained gardens on the banks of River Godavari.

The main deity of Saraswathi who wields the veena is always smeared and decorated with haldi. The haldi is offered as prasadam and whoever partakes  this is said to be blessed by the god of wisdom and learning.

The legend has it that after Mahabharata war, Sage Veda Vyasa embarked on a pilgrimage in search of peace. He reached the kumaranchal hills on the banks of River Godavari and meditated on the goddess Saraswati. She appeared  in front of the sage and ordered him to place three fistful  of sand at three places everyday. So, everyday before meditation, after bath in Godavari he would place three heaps of sand taken from the river . These heaps miraculously transformed into the idols of  MAha kali- Mahalakshmi and MAha saraswati due to the mystical power of Sage Ved  vyasa.

As he stayed on the place for a long time it was called Vyasapuri which slowly evolved into Vasara and due to the marati influence now it is called Basara or Basar.

The present structure, believed to be built by the Chalukyas has survived the mughal nawab attacks of the Shahi dynasty.. 

It was my neighbor who mentioned to me about this place. His son was a student of Chukka Ramaiah the Famous IIT guru who trains the children aspiring for the engineering utopia. Most of his students are placed in IIT. He takes his students there on Basant panchami ( saraswati's birthday) to be blessed by the godess . We travelled to this place 10 years back and more recently some  4 years back. The roads are well laid you can complete the 200 kms journey in 3 hours. Though in Adilabad district, it is closer to Nizamabad. The road throws some beautiful sights of vineyards enroute to Basar. 

Just like the Visa god which i mentioned here, this place is synonymous with education. You will also find many students getting their pens and pencils blessed by the goddess prior to the exams. The most important festival here is Basant panchami. Parents initiate their children into aksharabhyasa on this day which marks Saraswati's birthday.  You will find slates, pens, books etc sold around the temple. The banks of River Godavari which has beautiful log floats turns this pilgrim spot into a picnic spot .

A  calm and serene temple on ordinary days  worth marking  when on a holiday to  Hyderabad.

Wiki states that this one of the two  saraswati temples in India, the other being in Kashmir. But, I myself have visited three more ancient temples dedicated exclusively to Saraswati, one in sringeri in karnataka , at varkal -45 kms from Hyderabad  and the other at koothanur in southernTamilnadu.

                                          Basar temple surrounded with manicured gardens

                                      The main deity in haldi and  with the veena in her hand

                                                    The log floats in the nearby Godavari

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The red sanders dolls unique to navaratri

Like a stuck record, I can keep writing about certain things that are dear to me. One such thing dear to me is the navaratri festival.  I have fond memories of this festival in my childhood, perhaps the reason why I keep chanting about it :)

Since I have already written much about the  festival before,  I am not delving into many details about the significance of golu. Golu  is the display of dolls down south during navaratri.  Today since we are scattered around the world, we make do with whatever dolls we get locally. But in days of yore when the concept was started by Krishnadeva raya(?) or Raja Raja chola(?) the main doll which adorned the golu was the marapacchi toys along with clay dolls. The “marapacchi” toys are wooden dolls made from the Red sanders wood.

The dolls are given to the girl during her wedding which she displays it during the golu in her marital home . From then on she keeps buying new dolls (not necessarily wooden) every year during golu time. The collection grows  until the dolls are collected enough to be arranged in odd number of  steps. Some dolls are a part of heirloom. Today “marapacchi” shares its space along with Lladro, Mattel, lego, Swarovski and other such international brands.

It is passed from one generation to another. Some elders also say that these were like barbie dolls of yore. Since child marriage was prevalent in olden days, the girls were  given these as play toys  when they were married. Dolls for a kid , we know are like silent companions with whom we share our secrets and they absorb our emotions. We tuck them under the  pillow and talk  to them and dress them up and hence they were given during child marriages.

 Coming  to marapacchi toys, these toys are made from a medicinal wood called Red sanders.  These dolls come in pairs like that of "Shiva- parvati" or "Lakshmi- Vishnu". The dolls are dressed in cloth and jewellery  before they adorn the golu.Today the tree from which the dolls are made is protected, the toys are made of neem wood or alternative wood. 

Whatever be the reason,  this wood is one of the most sought after wood and fetches a huge value in the international market today.  The red sanders tree is unique to the seshachalam hills of tirupathi or nearby dry tracts of chittoor and is grown nowhere else in the world that the state has applied for a geographical indicator.  It is one of the most smuggled good and is in the news often. During the recent international biodivesity meet @ Hyd it was concluded that some foreign countries make a drug to control BP which are patented by them.

This tree has medicinal properties.  Revati Shankar a multifaceted media personality ( who acted in Robot as Rajnikanth’s mother) is an authority on the information of native wisdom. She mentioned once on tv that this was used to treat hypertension and most homes in olden days had 2 sets of marapacchi bommai( dolls). One set was used for the display. While the smaller ones were used for extracting the paste by rubbing against a rough surface. This paste when applied externally on heat boils would heal the boil. An infusion of this wood is used in the control of diabetes and the fruit of this tree is used to treat chronic dysentery. It is also used in various skin diseases and to treat headcahe, scorpion sting etc., This doll also served as a medicine and hence found its presence as first aid in most homes of yore. The little dolls with medicinal value served as a teether for teething children.

As if authenticating this  info, I recently found them in my husband’s grandparents home at Lalgudi. The huge house was sold last May, since it had no caretaker. Many of the antique toys stocked in the attic were given away. I picked up the marapacchi toys and a few brass toys. I also brought some during my trip to Tirupati. These toys are unique to Tirupati and are today sold in most outlets like the government run handicrafts emporia like  Cauvery, Lepakshi, Poompuhar and pudumai of Pondicherry. When decorated in the golu the  reddish brown  dolls lend an ethnic touch.

The craftsmen around Tirupati who carve these dolls are now using them on the panels of doors and furniture. Demand for these have now risen and since the wood is now protected, the crafts men have started carving using neem wood , mango wood etc.

                        The decorated dolls displayed in a cousin's wedding held in 2011 which will be displayed in her first golu.

This pic was clicked by me at Tirupati from where i picked two dolls.

this intricately carved door was for sale at shilparamam a crafts village @ Hyderabad

Info source: I have compiled the info about dolls in weddings based on hear say from elders. The news about the protection and GI was taken from 'The hindu'.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

English Vinglish and more.....not a review.

English Vinglish was the most awaited movie in recent times, the comeback movie of the yesteryear actor Sridevi. The storyline of the movie which reflects reality is ably  directed by Gauri shinde and fantabulously enacted by the whole cast. 

The storyline is simple but handled beautifully. It is laced with a potpourri of  human emotions most of which are identifiable in most middle class homes. Infact, the protagonist character is said to be inspired by the director Gauri's own mom. 

Sashi Godbole ,  a middleclass  Maharashtrian house wife is also an entrepreneur who sells “laddu” to make her own money. She does not  know to speak English and so she is ridiculed by her family. She is the object of  humour by her husband ( fantastic acting by Adil hussain)  and her children who make fun of her English and have scant regard for her talent and her duti consciousness towards her family.

 Meanwhile Sashi is invited by her sis in Manhattan to help her in the wedding plans of her niece. She travels to US alone and how she enrolls herself in a crash course in English with her peers from Spain and France and learns to speak English  forms the story line. The finale where she delivers  the  wedding speech in her niece’s wedding is one of the high moments of the movie. There are many such soft moments  with subtle lessons on  loyalty, dedication, familial love,  perseverance and values of institution like marriage – all these without being preachy.

Like I said in my title, this is not about the movie but the message from the movie. What is about the language of English that enamors many families?  Isn’t it a language like any other language. A means of communication,  a medium to capture feelings and emotions like love, respect and transact business.

I remember long back when I was moving up the elevator in my block, my neighbour’s kid  a 3 year old who was with her dad was crying. When I questioned him about it?  He said, she did’nt  attend her school interview in English and so he was worried that she might not be admitted in the school. He said  “much as I try to speak to her in English, she refuses to respond to me back”.  He had been scolding her all along and hence the teary eyed girl.

 I am not being judgemental about him here, it is his child and his choice. But why force a 3 year old to speak in English? Won’t she take to the language like a fish to the water when in school. After all she has the whole lot of her life  to learn. What is wrong in speaking her mother tongue?

Similarly, I approached a kid who spoke my mother tongue with a line in tamil. The mom proudly said “No Asha, he does’nt speak tamil. He speaks fluent English though”. The child is hardly 2.5 years old.

Today , it is considered trendy in most families to speak in English. Even if the child tries to express in their mother tongue, the parents or grandparents cut short the child and respond to him/her in English.

Isn’t it important for a child to think and learn her mother tongue also? 

 I agree many of today’s children are born in intercultural families. But then the child has the opportunity to learn dual languages. Isn’t it?  Contrary to belief this is not confusing to the child.  Statistics claim that learning more languages only makes the brain more engaging, active and the child utilizes a greater percentage of the brain. Multilinguals have a higher performance rate than monolinguals  on tests of intelligence, inventiveness and problem solving ability and creativity.  Then why restrict them only to English. Let them learn as many languages as possible along with French , Spanish, add your own mother tongue.

I honestly feel English language has its own limitations. The emotions nestled in the deeper crevices of the human mind and heart can seldom be expressed with English.  These can be best expressed in your mother tongue/native language. English for me is not an emotional language but a language of business. The rate at which English is given importance today, I doubt if any other language will flourish 50 years hence.

 I am not against English language. My own thought process and soliloquies are in English. This is the most spoken language today especially in the field of work. No second thoughts about it. It is just that it feels bad  when parents refuse to teach their children or reprimand when they express in their mother tongue and put them on track in English.

Anyways, these are my thoughts. What are yours?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Some mommy moments - 1

I tried to avoid this post but the mom in me surfed and won over and so this post had to be published.

Alert: A Pompous post

After touring and shopping  around the lifestyle exhibition at HITEX, we settled at the eating area. My son went to get his  pizza from Domino’s counter while my daughter went to get some parathas. The parathas menu had some interesting fillings and had a lady rolling out them while the men around helped her.  I and the hubby were busy observing the people around and suddenly I found my daughter engaged in a conversation with the man handling  the paratha counter. The conversation between them looked like they were either arguing with a smile/ familiar to each other. After placing the order my daughter came back to us and told the man at the counter was one of the visiting leadership officer at the camp and who helped my dot and her friends to get the outpass while the commanding officer initially refused to give them the outpass at the camp.

After a while, the man came to our seat and said “ Your daughter is one of the 7 students whom we have chosen as promising leaders of the future at the camp.”   Even before we could say something he continued. “As a parent, you pamper and accept the negatives and positives of your child within your home but it is only when they stay outside would a child exhibit her adapting qualities and amongst the 300 odd students, your child was one of the chosen 7 and the last 4 who compered the event on the final closing day. She did a tremendous job" he said. He also added, “we generally don’t issue outpass to these students because they don’t keep up their promise  but in your daughter and her friend’s case, I could gather from my experience their genuine plea and request reflected on their face and hence recommended them to the CO”.

It was a mommy moment for me, because the appreciation came from a man who was the faculty of leadership at the Indian school of Business(ISB), Hyderabad. After all only a leader can identify a leader. He is an ex airforce personnel who is also a president medal winner (SD Sharma) and here  the man was helping his aunt ( she is a paratha expert who conducts workshops) manage the crowd  at the exhibition counter.

Well, why was I joyous?  My dot was a very outgoing child and made friends easily with everybody so much so that at any of my husband’s team outings she was awarded the “most friendly and outgoing child”. A very adaptable, adjustable and an undemanding child who has competed and participated in various competitions and stage shows. 

Somehwere along as she grew up into her tweens and now in her teens she lost the quality. She became choosy and picky and stopped  being familiar and friendly with all. She found comfort in a group and mingled only with a select few. She refused to go on stage for any shows or competitions and has missed many good opportunities.  My husband  who is a very good confidante of my dot and a very cool person generally does not bother about all these things. But,It bothered me for some time and then I  finally accepted it as a part of growing up.

 Not that I am an ambitious parent. We are simple and contented people who find joy in little things that life offers us.  But when you know your child is capable of excelling in certain areas,  that extra push may help.  Of course, at the end of the day, we want our children to be happy and content in whatever they do.  We don’t want  them to run any race against their wishes. Neither do we force anything upon them. We want them to enjoy their childhood and believe in giving them the maximum exposure possible.

So this appreciative comment about my dot made me really happy and I had to record it here.

Is my son  any less? No… my next post will mostly be about the mommy moment I had at the parent teacher meeting.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blessings and luck in a ziplock pouch

Every time there is a festival,  my multicultural, multi storeyed community brings vibrancy to our life by celebrating occassions starting with New year to Christmas through Diwali, Ramzan etc.,.And the Ganesh Utsav  that went by recently was no exception.

 I don't know how many of you agree, but during a recent conversation with my friend who is a CA, we were discussing that it is not just for a monthly salary that we work any more . It is also to hold on to our positions at our competitive work place. So stiff is the competition out there in the world that your mind and body is working over time and stressed. Children are also not spared of these competitive rat race. They too run the race by attending their regular school, tuition and extracurricular classes. In general, none of us have  time to stand and stare on regular days.  There is only time to smile and say a customary "Hi' or "Hello'  as you get off and on the elevator or when you meet them during your morning walk.

At times like these, it is festivals like Ganesh Utsav which helps breaks the monotony of our life  and helps us to puff out the stress. These festivals encapsulates the multicultural spirit of our Mini Indian community and these getogethers bonds together the  residents of the society and gives us a sense of joint family.  We also get a peek of other cultures while holding on to our own. Many residents put up food stalls showcasing their regional cuisine like sabudana vada, holige, appam stew, medu vada, murukku, vada pav, malpua, dabeli, thepla, dal baati, shrikand and many more delicacies like patrode, gol gappa, thekwa,khandvi etc., You name it and you have it. Entrepreneurial women also pitch stalls showcasing their products. Outside vendors and business houses also pitch stalls in our complex.

 The children and elders participate and enjoy in the various cultural activities in their ethnic wear. This utsav was a potpourri of colors, cultures and cuisine that is India, ofcourse topped with devotion.

Coming to culture, here is where i  experienced  the' laddu auction' culture which i was unaware of till i came to Hyderabad many years ago. I am not sure if this is  prevalent in  Maharashtra or Karnataka where Ganesh Utsav is a socio cultural public  festival with secular overtones. But this auction  is very popular in AP.

Here Ganesh Utsav is generally a 5 or 11 day affair, the last day before the immersion the modak shaped laddu in the hands of the lord is auctioned.  The laddu in the various pandals  goes under the hammer fetching lakhs of rupees. It is a belief among the devotees here that this laddu which was held in the hands of the lord for 5-11 days would bring the bid winner happiness and luck in plenty and it is also sown across the agricultural fields for bountiful harvest.

 This laddu auction took place on the 5th day in my complex and i missed the event in my complex since it coincided with my daughter's concert in a complex opposite mine. Infact, we missed the event so much that my daughter's heart was more in our complex  than on the concert stage. She and my hub rushed to our complex to be a part of the festivities like Ganesh Jhanki (where a pot is tied to two poles with goodies and the devotees have to strike it  till the pot breaks)  and the immersion that took place later had more than 30 of our residents including the hubby  travelling to Hussain Sagar for immersion. These events are such great stress Puffs  for our community residents  that many of them even take leave to enjoy the utsav. People from other faiths too participate and enjoy the event.It was indeed disappointing to have missed the auction  in my complex  but perhaps the lord had other plans for us.

                               ( Don't miss the 5kg laddu wrapped with silver warq)

5 days later.......

 I was sitting in the front gallery watching the winding of the  10th day  celebrations of our opposite multistoreyed complex( same builder). When the huge lord walked out to their main drive way with the laddu in hand. And Guess what?

I got to see the direct relay of the laddu auction from the comforts of my gallery.

The bidding started at 5000rs and ended finally with the winner taking home the lucky and auspicious laddu for 29,000.Our complex laddu was won for Rs15,000.

But these are nothing compared to the costliest laddu this year that happened at the Ameerpet utsav ( a central business district of hyderabad). The laddu auctioned here took the cake.  The winning bid was 12.5 lakhs.

While the size of the laddu adorning the palm of the lord is increasing every year, the bidding amount is also growing every year. The laddu is supposed to bring luck and happiness. The bidding is secular in nature in that you have muslim bidders too. This concept was supposed to have started in the year 1994 at the Balapur ganesh utsav and slowly the faith spread every where around AP.  Locals say that the auctioning of the laddu was to cover the expenses of maintaining the pandal and transportation costs. But today, the money is used for welfare activities like building schools, hospitals for the poor and meeting the relief fund. 

And yes, the winning bidder shares his luck and happiness with others. My co-resident who won our society bidding sent us a share of the luck and happiness in zip lock pouch. 

Isn't festivals all about that - sharing,  caring, feasting , bonding and enjoying :)

P.S: Last year my son won the quiz contest. This year it was not held due to the summative assesment. but my dot and her friend won the 2nd prize in the junior chef contest. Guess who was the first prize winner ?- a 14 year old boy. The contest had equal amount of teenage  boys  participating in the chef contest. Way to go, boys!

PPS:  I only decided to write about the laddu auction but got carried away and listed the whole utsav. Sometimes we plan something and something else gets executed.