Tuesday, December 18, 2012

3 fests in 3 cities

Come December, the three cities I have been associated with hosts 3 annual fests. One for handmade arts, crafts, the second for music and the third for sugar cakes.

The first in the list is the festival of Arts, crafts, handlooms. I like handicrafts and handlooms. And so when there is a mela  organized for that,you can bet I am there. Especially the December All india arts and crafts mela which happens at the city where I live, Hyderabad. The venue is the crafts village, Shilparamam. Anything I write about this will be a repeat of this. This year on Sunday,  I quickly picked up arts and crafts from Gujarat, Kashmir, West Bengal and that elusive reclining Ganesha which I mentioned in one of my older posts.

The second fest happens in Chennai,my birth place. This city experiences concert tourism  this month and draws music lovers from all over the world;  predominantly in the genre of carnatic music.  This fest begins on the tamil month Margazhi and  so is known as Margazhi Isai vizha( margazhi is the tamil month, isai is music and vizha is fest) or december kacheri(concert). An year or so back, i wrote an article on this for 'I love madras. Anything i write about this will be a repeat of this article "Margazhi, music and my memories"

And last but not the least, the third fest in my list captures the yuletide mood of the city I was raised in  and lived, Bangalore. 

Every festival is connected to some tradition or the other. But so often, we don't know why we do the things we do. Fact is that the smallest custom goes back a long way.

 Another festival which is an amalgamation of different legends, myths and faiths from across the world is Xmas. Everybody has their own special memories and my Xmas memories revolve around Bangalore’s famous high street,  Brigade road. The whole road would be festooned with christmas lights and the road  is closed to vehicular traffic till the newyear. You can amble, stroll  on this street with huge Santas for company  without the fear of being run down by a vehicle. 

                         Brigade road dressed with christmas and new year lights, The traders association of this road do a similar dressing during diwali and offer lot of gifts through raffles

The twinkling festooned serial lights, stars  and the huge Santas distributing sweets to little kids will scream that New year carnivals don’t happen only in Goa, but also in places like Bangalore’s high fashion street, Brigade road.  And one of the corner building on the road ,Nilgiris nest( a boarding hotel), are the ones who organize and hosts this special fest, called the annual Nilgiri's Sugar cake exhibition.  The ground floor of the building is the supermarket called Nilgiris, the first supermarket which started in 1905 and stocks the best diary products and baked goodies. Their signature rich  bake called  Nilgiris Plum cakes  has that bitter sweet taste, which  for me has no parallels . I am yet to taste a plum cake which can beat this taste. 

                                          The nilgiris product range
Apart from the rich plum cakes, they have chocolate Xmas tree, kalkals, Marzipan, Yule logs and other Christmas goodies. But the highlight of their creations  are displayed  at The St. Josephs school grounds, Vittal Mallya road. They  host an unique exhibition called the sugar cake exhibition during Xmas time. This exhibition which is around 40 years old  has earlier had giant sugar cake replicas of Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore Palace, seven wonders of the world like Macchu Picchu, Taj MAhal and then the Buckhingham palace, Eiffel tower etc. Each cake is made with powdered sugar, gelatin, colored and flavoring agents and lot of man hours. The Master piece cakes are usually as big  as15 feet in height and can be anywhere between 30-50 feet wide.  The rest of the models are smaller in size. There are atleast 15 exhibits of which 10 are won by the viewing public through raffle tickets. The exhibiton has an entry ticket and the amount raised from this goes to the charity. The cakes are also not sold and are given to children in orphanages.

Some of their sugar crafts at the annual exhibits 

                                      A sugar cake model of The taj hotel mumbai, the replica was made the year blasts occured at leopald.
                            The Buckingham palace and the big ben, the men working on the model look half the size of the model

                                                           A model of Bangalore palace.

                             Wonders of the world -  Taj mahal and christ the redeemer, rio

                                                      a smaller model cake of a bride
                                                                the shoe house
                    This years flavor symbolizing communal harmony- a  pentagon symbolising the five faiths, temple, church, masjid, pagoda( buddhism), gurudwara 22feet wide and 16 feet in height

This art was mastered by one of the 3rd generation  owner of this enterprise. His desire for sugar modelling took him to Europe,where he visited Swiss, holland, Germany. He was inspired by the cake models  that he saw in Belgium and learnt this art there. My sister a nutritionist and dietician who worked here as food technologist in the late 90's and early 2K was the originator of their ready mixes and the source of this info. 

image courtesy: Google

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An euphoric evening at the auditorium

  It was a beautiful evening and a special one at that.  It was my daughter’s ex-school’s  and my son's annual day function which happens at the fag end of the year.  We were one of the special invitees for the function. Every year the function is based on a theme  llike here. This year's theme was " Krishna ke anek rang, radha aur meera ke sang". 

  I entered the  auditorium a bit late, my  husband dropped me at the venue enroute to the airport.   I occupied  the corner seat near the exit door when the chief guest was giving his speech.  A feeling of pride enveloped me as I was a privileged invitee to be there along with 19 other proud parents of achievers in the Standard X exam.  The chief guest's speech would be followed by the awards function and then the cultural program.

As I sat there, waiting for the awards function and my daughter’s name to be announced, my mind raced back to the first day when my dot started her schooling.  After a lot of vacillations between should we put her in a montessori  or a proper school, we decided to put her in a  ICSE school in Bangalore at the age of 2.6

 I  took her to school on the first day, the usually bubbly child was teary eyed that day  but never spoke out her fears. She appeared in control  and recited the shloka of “ yaakundendu tushara haara davala …” after me,  and my matured dot tried to conceal  her tears. She diverted my attention from her by showing me a poster of "Stuart little" pasted on the wall enroute.  She was also  infact concerned about her two month old baby bro back home.

  On reaching school, when she went into the arms of her smiling and welcoming teacher Suma Lokesh and seeing other children she seemed normal and happy.  It was my turn to be teary eyed. With a heavy heart I left her at school and thus started the journey of our lovely girl child  and she moved into this CBSE school when we shifted  here.  She beautifully balanced her studies, arts, music and sports and won many allrounder awards and co-scholastic  certificate of excellence without any external tuitions. 

 She never crammed or rushed during exam times or never believed in studying a week before her exams. She would do follow-ups on a daily basis, played and attended her music and art classes even a day prior to her final exam.  A child who is sensible and sensitive to other’s needs that sometimes  I wish she  put herself before others.( a mom’s heart you see)

And  13 years later, there I was seated in the auditorium with bated breath to witness  the awards function. The announcer called out my dot’s name and said “Toppers award for securing CGPA 10 in the AISSE”.  I clapped and clapped till my heart’s content along with the other invitees.  Tears of joy filled my eyes , recording that moment as one of unforgettable moments of my life when I got goosebumps too.  I turned around to see everyone in the auditorium clapping for her and that euphoric moment became another special moment worth recording.

                                                                A glimpse of the evening

                                  ( a diagonal shot from my seat, the school does not allow parents to click photos)
My husband unfortunately missed the event due to his travel plans.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kadlekayi Parishe - When bean town goes nuts

  At any traditional Indian  wedding, the groom and the bride would be busy with the rituals. For people around them   it would be a gala time.  Especially when you have a close set of cousins and fun loving aunts and uncles with whom we share great camaraderie, then these weddings are fun fests where we  relive and make lot of  memories.  That too  my paternal side  of uncles and aunts know not what generation gap is.  My  cousins, aunts and uncles along with my younger sis & parents would be having a gala time today in Bangalore.  My cousin brother is getting married today & We could’nt mark our  presence  as scheduled because we had to prioritize our daughter's exam.  Like me many cousins who stay far away  are also missing this event.

During my course of telecon with my cousin on Saturday, she said they were all planning to go to the “ Kadlekai parishe” after the temple wedding .

“Kadlekai parishe"?  Oh!   I almost forgot about this event that  happened in Bangalore  until she mentioned and as usual the nostalgic person in me traveled back in time.

 Well, I decided I will virtually travel to  the fair while they would be present physically and there it goes..... all about it..... The  Kadlekai parishe  -  a 2 day fair  when  bean town* Bangalore goes nuts.  Kadlekai is ground nut in kannada and parishe is fair and so this is a fair for groundnuts.  This fair that happens on the last Monday of the Hindu month  of Karthik  and this is unique to  Bangalore.

  Much before TV,  Malls, themeparks, resorts ,technology, deadlines and gadgets ruled us,   fairs like these were outings for us.  And this Kadlekai parishe despite the malls, themeparks, and resorts  continues its celebration in Bangalore.

 Every festival has a legend behind it and this fest too has a legend. Before Bengaluru metamorphised into a world class silicon city, this city was divided into  areas like Guttahalli, Mavalli, Dasarahalli, hosahalli, sunkenahalli etc.,( halli in kannada means village).  These areas had lots of groundnut farms around it.  Every full moon day  many  bulls(Nandi) would charge into the groundnut fields around sunkenahalli  and destroy the crops. The farmers who incurred losses then made a plea to Nandi( vehicle of Lord Shiva) to stop this and pledged to offer their first crop of their harvest to the god.  Meanwhile an enraged farmer is said to have killed a bull. Subsequently an idol of Basava ( bull or nandi in kannada) is supposed to have been found close by and this idol was growing rapidly. The farmers nailed an iron peg like trishul  on the idol to stop its growth , which is still visible when you visit this temple today at Basavanagudi, Bangalore. Later, A temple was built around this by the founder of Bangalore, Kempegowda. This temple is one of the oldest temples  and thus this fair is said to be five centuries old and the suburb  came to be known as Basavanagudi. ( Basava is bull and gudi is temple). Today this ancient temple is one of the tourist attraction of Bangalore and this suburb is one of the oldest suburbs.

The huge nandi( bull ) and the trident on the top of the statue   which was hit on the head to stop the growth of the bull idol 

                                                The nut fair along the street pavement

 The fair at night 

To this day, many farmers still keep up the word and the farmers of surrounding towns and villages come with their  harvest to sell the different types of groundnuts.
During this fair, the  Bull temple road, the road named after the temple  is blocked for vehicular traffic and the farmers sell their groundnut harvests on either sides of the roads. The nuts are spiced, salted, fried, roasted, boiled, sugar coated etc.,.  There are also many things that you see  like in any Indian fair along the pavements  like merry go round, play things, cotton candies, toys like flutes, bugles, astrologers with parrots, puffed rice, colorful sugar candies, kitchen items, fancy articles,  and decorative items like terracotta products etc. I remember buying a mud piggy bank here when I was a child.

I have visited this fair in  my childhood and  later during my teen years. My college was close to this place and the bugle rock park behind  the temple was  our favorite hangout for us friends.  One of the other stories that I have heard during these times was that the nut shells  which would be strewn after the fair would be no where around the place the next day. The myth is that the Nandi clears the nutshells.  There is no historical evidence for such stories, but these stories fascinated us and we grew up with such stories.

My paternal cousins are going to relive the memories and today evening may be I will hear more stories  from them.

For us Indians, celebrations never end and we keep celebrating nature, food, land, gods, city etc. In today’s seamless world,  regional fests or fairs like these are what distinguishes one city from another. Don't you think? 

* Bangalore is the colonial name for Benda kalu ooru- meaning the city of boiled beans)

Image courtesy: Google

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Some mommy moments - 2

Any achievement small or big  by our child will make us - the tribe of parents proud.   That is why you will find many of us parents blogging  about our child's first step,first smile,  gurgle, smart baby talks and later as they grow up we blog about their achievements big and small. Even I as a parent was proud when my child took that first step, at their first gurgle, first tumble , first spoken word etc., I had captured those precious moments in my camcorder.

   But, it will also be an embarrassing moment for many children, my children don’t like when I put status messages about their achievements. Even I would feel the same when my parents talk or praise about me to others.  It is so embarrassing for the children but only when we become parents we realize that we are so proud that we do brag or blog about many such moments. My children give me many such bragging or blogging moments.

Especially  the proudest moments  come  when the world around them recognizes them and compliments  them, then  that becomes such a huge mommy moment worth recording.

At home, I and my son are like the cartoon characters Tom and Jerry. You will never find my son seriously studying school books, but he  will always be busy with his daily dose of cartoons, FIFA 13 time, real play time forming teams and playing matches against other teams. I live in a place where there are enough children to raise more than 20 soccer/ cricket teams and with an intercom to connect them,  it is difficult to pin this boy away from his play time. As if this was not enough he has many extra curricular activities like fiddling with gadgets like camera, tab, wii games etc and he is always on highgrounds when experimenting with these things, no wonder he made a newton's car here.

I am not against children playing but I  want my son to mark some time for his daily studies and avoid cramming during exam time.  Like Tom chasing jerry, I keep chasing him from room to room to pin him down for his daily dose of revision. But boy,  he escapes like jerry all the time.  I lose my energy and give up finally.  He would do his daily dose of homework though with earplugs hanging from his ears and his eyes fixed on the cartoons. His books will be everywhere around the house but you will never find him beside it. If ever by mistake,  he picks the book you will find him sleepy.

 To pin him down is easier for me with a stern action, but he manages to melt me with that beautiful smile and a sweet “Please Ma, konjam relax panikkren” ( mom, I will relax  a bit) or when I get angry and shout, he gives me a glass of cool water and says “ TACP, Ma” ( Take a chill pill, ma).  His matured talks and his sense of humour sometimes melts my heart and I give up. HE is such a happy go lucky child who will not crib or cry when he loses or neither does he raise up to the skies when he wins and so enjoys every moment of life in a balanced way. His status message on any of social networking site like skype will read “I am a happy boy"

But  how he manages not to put us  in awkward position is still a matter of pride for me. He came romping home last week telling us that he was nominated for the prefect council ( 30 selected among 300 children across all sections of 8th grade to shoulder the responsibilities of the school  like assistant head boy, head girl, assistant sports captain etc., by  assisting the 9th grade and Xth grade children).  These children are selected by the teachers based on the overall  activitites like curriculum and co-curriculum like discipline, behavior  with peers , teachers etc.,.

Again,  it was one of those PTA meetings and he never let us down.

Every PTA moment has been a memorable event  for me as all his teachers have heaped praises on him, not only on his academic performance  but also for his inquisitiveness, maturity exhibited beyond his age and that he is a responsible child. Though his sister has set a wonderful precedent for him in the school , his teachers never compare him with her.   Unlike my dot  who beautifully balances studies, sports, arts and other extracurricular he is not a topper in his class( not even in the top 10 because atleast  6 competitive children get 98%)  and has a bad handwriting to boot, but  his English teacher says that there are lot of insightful ideas and thoughts behind his scrawl.  His maths teacher tells me that his ability to crack HOTS( high order thinking skills) amazes her .  His science teacher says that his creative thinking skills and his doubts and questions forces her to refer external books.  When I told his teacher that he never studies at home and if I should consider external tuitions for him now since he is going to higher classes and all his peers go for the IIT & NEET coaching, she said “ Your son can tutor 3 – 4 children himself, he needs no tuitions, he is playful. He will be responsible with his studies and  I tell you most children  watch tv, nothing new about it. He is fine, he listens in the class, understands the concepts clearly and most important he knows how and when to apply them".

WOW! at those words i felt like the richest person in the world and started blogging about this and hence this brag post.  i can't balance emotions like  my son, you see:)