Wednesday, October 22, 2014

More Indian than you think

"India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only." -American Author Mark Twain.

What many of them realize about Indian culture  now due to globalization, perhaps Mark Twain realized it much before.

 My husband was on a business trip to San Francisco last year. One of his customer who is an American had come to meet him. He greeted my husband not with a handshake but with his palms touching each other and said Namaste. That was not all, during his course of talk he mentioned to my husband how he adores and has taken to the Indian way of spiritual living. He practices yoga and applies its principles in daily life by breathing consciously(meditation). Today due to globalization, it is clear from instances like these and the news that the world has beautifully adapted some of our culture and lifestyle practices and one of them is YOGA.

My yoga instructor who taught me here has now migrated to the west coast of US and she says one need’nt look much further than the end of the road to see a yoga studio in many cities. My class mates in Denver & LA vouch for this and so does my cousin in Atlanta.

Apart from the people in my real life authenticating it, we know of celebrity practitioners like Lady Gaga, Singer Madonna, Oprah winfrey, Julia Roberts, Nicole kidman etc.,  and above all the first man of the US , President Obama himself promoting Yoga as part of school curriculum in the US.

Today, this Indian spiritual science and exercise form is a million dollor industry in the US. Although the traditional yoga has morphed and goes by many names like vinyasa yoga, restorative yoga, kathak yoga, therapeutic yoga, acro yoga, power yoga etc.,.All these styles are only adding popularity in almost every generation of fitness and wellness enthusiasts and this has also proved one thing. India is going back to the roots and leading the world too. Not just in US, Yoga Alliance has its network in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe etc.,

There are also  many instances which shows that the greatest contribution by India to the world is not just material science and spiritual science but also in the field of arts, culture,food and cinema. The love for Indian classical dance has uprooted many foreigners from their own soil and brought them to temples of culture like Kalakshetra, nritya gram and there are many foreign researchers in the field of temple architecture. One such lover of Indian  architecture, culture, crafts and folk performing arts is Philadelphian Dr. Deborah who married an Indian Dr. Ram Thiyagarajan and set up the heritage village Dakshinachitra at chennai.

Indian food seems to be equally popular in foreign shores. In the US,  Obama's love for Indian food took him to Indian restaurant 'Rasika' in Washington for a quiet birthday celebration, David Cameron British Prime minister's fascination for Chicken rogan josh and Indian food has him hailing Indian food as  ' a Great British industry'  and so it is with many celebrities like Matt Damon, Tom cruise, Kate perry etc.,

The mention of Hollywood celebrities brings me to the popularity of Indian cinema. There are so many instances where there has been colloboration and where many foreign directors have moved to shoot in India like the 'Life of Pi' , 'City of Joy' etc,.   Recently, even Kevin spacey danced to the tunes of Bollywood song  "Lungi dance' at IIFA, Tampa.

If India food, dance, culture, movies has many lovers, can Indian music be far behind?

Indian music has had a big influence on music outside India. If In the past,The Beatles added sitar tunes to some of their recordings, George harrison learnt sitar from Ravi Shankar and  Yehudi Menuhin's  love for Indian music brought out the best of Ravi Shankar and him in "West meets East". In  recent times,  American clarinetist and music composer with the Indian name Shankar Tucker's  love for Indian music speaks soulfully in his musical compositions.  Needless to say about Musical maestro Ilayaraja's symphony orchestra and Madras Mozart AR Rehman who has teamed up with western singers. 

To top it all, recently the impeccable Sanskrit rendition of Rudram from Vedas  by Erhard brothers in The White house is another indication of popularity of our culture. 

 Erhard brother's impeccable rendition is viral on social sites.

 Even in India, it is a pleasure to see many foreigners in the premises of Ramanasram, Auroville , cultural centres like Nrityagram, Kalakshetra adapting to Indian values.  

Arts, culture, food, and cinema of India is now popular and accepted all over the world.  Thanks to globalisation, The world seems to recogize and  heart India.

 "If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India."-Romain Rolland, French scholar 

This post written for Indiblogger and Lufthansa's More Indian than you think  .

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Deepavali - From excitement to contentment

In  Tam-Brahm households like mine, Deepavali  is celebrated  on the wee hours of Naraka Chaturdashi. Although ritually it is only for a couple of hours before the sunrise,   the  preparations would begin  a week earlier. Uncles, aunts and cousins would descend on grand parents home and the Diwali fun would begin.  As a child, i have experienced many such getogethers which  has  forged stronger bonds and added many memories.

It would start with shopping for dresses, mostly readymade or if it is tailor made, then we would shuttle between home and  the busy tailor's shop wondering whether we would get our dress on time. Next, it was time for  the snacks, where the family elders would plan the festive menu, get together in the kitchen to make sweets,  savouries and a signature dish called  Deepavali legiyam( herbal concoction). We kids would try to sneak in to see if we could get something out of the kitchen, but we would be strictly told that we could not have them till Deepavali.  Next, the crackers would arrive only to be duly  placed in the attic, we kids couldn't take our eyes off the crackers. My dad though would get us only safe ones like  Ground whirls, flowerpots, sparklers, wires , pencils and not cracking 100 walas or atom bombs. There would be an air of excitement and anxiety to wear the new dress, eat goodies and burst the crackers that the eve prior to diwali most of us cousins would almost not sleep and  end up chatting.

In the wee hours of Chaturdashi, we would be up early with excitement, sit on the rangoli decorated wooden platform, Paati would slather the heated and treated gingelly oil on our head. What followed after the head bath was the Tamil way of Diwali Greeting " Ganga Snanam accha?" (Have you had bath in the Ganga?) signifying the purification, although Ganga flows nowhere near Tamilnadu. 

We would wear new clothes, have a spoon of Deepavali legiyam which would act as an anti-dote for all the sweets and savouries had during the festive season. The new dress, the various eateries, the crackers, the family get together all added up to the joy and excitement through the day, that at the end of the day, we would await the  next Diwali. Excitement and expectation -that was Diwali then.

                                  (pics are from my personal album taken last year)

Now, we don't wait to buy a new dress, eat sweets or no one has time for family get-together. We already have some new dresses piled in the wardrobe picked up during a discount sale. The sweets are mostly store bought or we make some for the sake of tradition. As  eco-conscious citizens, even the kids at home do not want to light crackers. Cousins are in different parts of the world and so call, Skype or whatsapp to wish.

There is no excitement, no enthusiasm  like before. That set me in contemplation mode.

 No excitement, no enthusiasm, but....... there is a sense of contentment and we are making different set of memories. I am happy with what I have, cherish and don't hanker for more. There is the "been there, done that" attitude and perhaps like a child I don't wish for material things  or chase them any more, Instead I am grateful for all the big and  little things in my life. 

This is Diwali mood now - a happy and contented diwali  :) 

This post is written for Indi-happy hours and Gharwalidiwali

Thursday, October 16, 2014

God is a Gamer - a book review

Touted as the world’s first bitcoin thriller, Ravi Subramanian’s novel God is a gamer   is woven around the lives of a few politicians,bankers,crooks, gamers with ‘Bitcoin’ and an  anonymous online  market place for shady deals called cotton trail playing a crucial role in the story. The plot  moves from Washington's congress to Delhi's finance ministry, the beaches of Goa to the corporate boardrooms of Mumbai.

The book starts with a high profile meeting  in Washington DC between Vijay Banga, president of Master card international and Joseph saunders, the CEO of visa international regarding a routine meeting by the head of a country which could shake the very foundation of their business model.

What follows is an explosion killing a US senator,  An ATM heist in US linking a vendor in India, Bitcoin scams,  Death of two high profile international bankers, FBI investigation etc.

Who kills the US senator? What is the mystery behind the death of the bankers?Who is the brain behind the ATM heist and Bitcoin scam? Is everything interrelated?Will FBI, CBI and Mumbai police get to solve the puzzle?  That forms the 310 page thriller.

Unlike his previous books, banking does not play a major role in this book, instead the book is high on online gaming on facebook and  “Bitcoin” which is touted as the currency of the future. It is very clear from the book that the author has done extensive research on facebook games/online games, bitcoins etc.,After reading the book, many gamers will understand why they are stuck at a particular level in certain online games. I had never known so much went behind a gaming console.These details were very new to me.

There are so many twists and turns thrown along with many emotions like romance, revenge, greed  that the pages turn by themselves. As one reads the book,the investigator in you comes to many conclusions only to be proven wrong in the climax. Another plus in the book is  the narration divided into many small chapters and most of them end in cliffhangers which maintains the suspense and whets the appetite of the reader.

 Editing and proof readingwise, another book in recent times which has many goof ups and I had to re-read at many places  to  grasp and see if I was reading right. For instance on pg 278(chapter94) The pseudonym  of the bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto is said to be derived from 4 japanese companies  Sa from Samsung, toshi from Toshiba, naka from nakamichi and moto from motorala. Now here, neither Samsung or Motorola are Japanese companies. Samsung is a Korean company and Motorola is American. There are also many confusing situations in the book which might rise as a doubt once you read the climax like in the place where Varun picks up the Wasabi nuts from Tanya’s kitchen shelf and Tanya advises him not to eat as they have expired their shelf life. So many such minor loop holes and proof reading errors.

Also, pages are wasted on parallel plots like Sangamner and confessions of a hooker and these are like speed breakers to an otherwise  entertaining book. 

This review is a part of the biggest Indian bloggers book review program  at blogadda Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A box/ tub full of delicious joy!!!

Neither do I have a large space of earth nor do i have a hoe, all i had was limited space where i threw in some earth, some seeds from my spice box and i turned the little earth with a broken fork, watered and she still did laugh a harvest...... a box and tub full of delicious and organic harvest.

My post Green story has pics of its beginning........

The 3 rows of methi seeds turned into a boxful of micro methi's in just 3 weeks time

                                                  and this is the ending
The boxful of joy morphed as delicious joy on plate in the form of menthiya keerai sambar, methi thepla and alu-methi on different days.

                                   the aromatic herb falling all over a butter tub in my balcony.....

enhanced the aroma and taste to the tangy tomato rasam in my kitchen

The happy mini or even  micro gardener in me is contented with the harvest grown from home grown organic wastes(compost)

You tickle the earth not just with a hoe, but even with a broken fork and she still laughs a harvest. That must be the miracle of Mother Earth. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

From terminal to terminal @ Changi

All good things come to an end and so this final post of  my memory making (first international) vacation. 

It was the last day and time to return to reality called home.We decided to leave to the airport early so that we would have ample time to go around the airport and its shops. For the 2.30 flight to KL, we had reached the Terminal 1 of airport at 11.OO. After the touristy formalities we were left wih a handbag, a backpack and 3 hours of time, it was  only then I looked up and I was wonder struck at the place around me!!

 Fantastically spic and span despite its many travellers and that beautiful arrangement that went up and down in sync which was called Kinetic Rain sculpture. Supposed to be the world's largest kinetic art installation you see the sculpture dance in precise and fluid movements. An awesome sight!!

We picked up the Changi guide, turned the pages and marked the places we wanted to see. It hosts endless fun and it was clear from the guide that it  is built to spoil a traveler with big screen TVs, free massage chairs, many food courts,innumerable shops, themed gardens, free wi-fi etc under its beautiful ceiling.

 The first one we marked to visit was the butterfly garden which we missed in Sentosa and so off we went to board the skytrain to T3, the place of the garden. From there we went in and out of the many shops and I realized what the husband all along had  said about “shopping at Changi” was true. I had deferred my shopping in the city thinking that I would shop at the much acclaimed and advertised  economical Changi’s duty free retail shops. My husband’s many warnings that Changi was expensive fell on my deaf ears then.

 No doubt the stores had exclusive and beautiful items which were not found in the regular stores of Singapore.  A Rado costed just 75000$ after discount. So shopping at Changi was out for me  but we walked in and out and updated ourselves in the various shops.  Then we took a sky train again to T2 and went posing in front of the enchanted garden, koi garden, orchid garden. The photos will sure remind of the blissful fun and our memory making vacation.

  We lived, breathed, ate and drank fun in the whole week and I could recall how much my teens managed and enjoyed this trip.I am sure they will remember this trip for a long time and even if they did forget the experience, I am happier knowing their memories have been noted here.

Some photos from changi. It never felt like an airport except the immigration and runway area. 

Click on it to feel the place

Beautiful gardens like this with a huge sunflower are good  photo spots at Terminal 3

                                    Indonesian tourism stall

                                The route to our most wanted garden since we missed it at Sentosa, ofcourse Sentosa would have been bigger than this but glad we caught a glimpse of this lovely garden too.

                              And here it is......1000's of butterflies flitting all around you and you find some on your own dress and hands too.

                                   They all live in such landscaped greenery
One of  her  best clicks my daughter  says

The pitcher plant i remember reading during my school days in "tinkle', i saw it live here. It traps any insect that hovers around the lid by closing and the plant eats the insect.

                        It truly is a shopholic’s paradise but for the extravagant and not for minimal shoppers like me

                 That's the beginning of terminal 2 which houses the orchid garden and enchanted garden

                            Glimpse of the enchanted garden with rain forest surroundings and Koi Pond

                                             Flower art within a narrow mouthed glass enclosure.   Beautiful Ain't it?

                                 Orchids orchids everywhere in hues of yellow,
Blue, purple, pink, mauve......totally in awe at this place 

                                                  The watch tower of Changi

                                                            Oh yes, it is an airport:)