Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bean town - My treasure chest

Just a casual mention of this city brings a smile on my face and heart. Often during conversations, my mind dips into my huge treasure chest of pleasant memories that I have made in this city. The lovely, lively people like my family, my friends, my neighborhood,my school, my college, my work place, my parental home, my marital home, the roads, the buses…etc…. This city called Bangalore is an emotion for me (apart from chennai and hyderabad) and I can sing paens about the city that groomed me and brought me up.If I have to mention and describe about my favorite city wrt the DRIVE,DESIGN and CONNECT then, it would be this city.

Drive:What drives this city is the warm people of this city who at the first instance ask you “ oota/thindi aitha?”( had your breakfast?/Lunch). Their adjustable nature of “swalpa adjust maadi”( please adjust a little) is evident from the cosmopolitan population of the city. While the IT revolution made the major cities of India into a mini India/ world, Bangalore had been one ever since the public sectors came into being there. The climate and the pace of life was an asset to this city which earned it the sobriquet “pensioners paradise” and “ Air conditioned city”. The lovely gardens, beautiful lakes, large lung spaces and the boulevard avenues earned it the name “garden city”. It never occurred to me then that the broad tree lined avenues of laburnam, margosa, jacaranda, gulmohar, Indian cork would leave such lasting impressions on me years later. How many times have I zipped on those traffic less roads in my dad’s Enfield bullet and Crusader as a child. It was a breeze then to drive on those roads which went up and down and was never on a level in our area.Years later, it was the same roads that took me to college on the red BTS bus.Route no’s 75, 61, 64 and 60 A have played an unforgettable role in my life. The bus ride also reminds me of a special blue bus I travelled on the route from Majestic to Malleswaram when I went for my aunt’s place. It was two buses connected with a vestibule and at turnings it would turn like a train. This was called the trailer bus and I have to mention the double decker bus. We would miss the regular bus just to get into the double decker bus , climb on to its level and have a lovely sight seeing trip  as we traveled to our destination. Such simple pleasures when traffic snarls were unheard of.

Design : Design wise too , I lived in the BDA designed layouts where the layout had houses of dimensions 30x20, 30x50 and 60x40. The layouts had cross roads and main roads with good planning. There were trenches to carry rain water .No stagnant water, all would flow downhill into the various lakes of the city. The layouts also had a park, a playground, a hopcoms( veg store of Lalbagh),Janta Bazaar( for groceries and toiletries) a nandini milk parlour, a rose garden,a BDA shopping complex with a citizens center. My 30x50 home was right in the middle of this layout on the 5th main road. Behind us was a playground while in the 6th main road was the flood lit foot ball ground. Such beautifully designed BDA layouts formed the Bangalore I belonged to. Alternatively we also had the public sector quarters of BHEL, HAL etc and the private layouts of employess of a few banks and organizations like Binnyston gardens(Binny mills), MICO, REMCO,etc . All these too were designed in keeping with the infrastructural needs and were built on legal lands.

Connect: What connects me to a city is also the people and landmarks. The people are the heart and soul of a city. So many people help shape you during your growing years. Their contribution may seem miniscule at that point of time and may seem insignificant . But looking back today, those small acts of kindness , courtesy and generosity connects me to the city making the bond stronger.My teachers, lecturers, neighbours, friends, the service providers. 
Their friendly banter, the routine bargaining and the exchange of news, the warmth, My heart brims with gratitude for all those memories. How does one disconnect with such city?. 

There was also the landmarks like my school, college, music class, favorite ice cream parlour, stationary shop, bakery, chaat corner, our regular provision store and that market which was always throbbing with life and pulsating with energy with its vibrant products of vegetables, clothes and other essential needs. This was one of our hang outs then when malls were unheard of.  Every city has those landmarks but what connects us to the city is the memories we have made at those landmarks.  The sunday concerts at cubbon park band stand, the ganesh immersion at Lalbagh lake, my first comic book at Glass house, The movies at Nanda ,Tribhuvan, ALankar, Minerva etc  and this is what I cherish the most about Bangalore, especially when you have lived for 30 long years.

Today’s story is ofcourse different, no major city is ideal generally, thanks to globalization. Overpopulated, traffic congestion, metro construction hurdles, lack of lung space , multistoreyed apartments on encroached land and lake  and people always in a hurry,. Every community, every language, every tradition has a presence in every major city. 

*Bangalore( Bengaluru in kannada) derives its name from Benda kalu ooru meaning boiled bean town hence my title.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Need of the hour - # Responsible tourism

One of the greatest destressor is travel. It helps people handle stress of various kinds. Change in climate, change in place of stay, meeting new people, the journey ,the destination all these allows you to explore new energies. The whole idea of travelling is allowing yourself to experience something you haven’t done before.

Today, no matter what age, more and more of us are traveling for work and leisure compared to a few decades back. Needless to say our mode of traveling, our stay in hotels, resorts have all contributed to increase in Carbon foot prints.

While on a holiday or work, most of us think less about environmental degradation or unaware of the carbon foot prints we leave. But , When we think as a conscious global citizen , we share the world with over more than 6 billion people, our space and our resources are finite. How can we guarantee that there’s enough food, water, land and energy for the future gen. To promote tourism, m
any fancy resorts and hotels are built to meet the tourist demands. More and more trees are cut and lot of natural resources like sand, water are used for constructing them.  While it is necessary to boost tourism, it is also an equal responsibility to minimize the use of our natural resources and to decrease our carbon foot prints, It is now time for us to act responsibly when we travel, follow and promote “ responsible tourism”. 

Here are a few ideas to promote #responsible tourism.

1) we must promote and encourage hotels built and designed with minimal environmental impact. 

2)  promote, encourage and stay in hotels which reduce “food miles” and use “ farm to plate” or locally grown food.

3) Hotels or resorts can use biodegradable toiletries like soaps, shampoos, detergents and tell the tourists the benefits of this on the environment

4) Encourage the hotels to use solar heating and lighting or use CFC or energy saving bulbs

5) Ideally most hotels or resorts have a landscape. We can encourage them to grow more native and plants local to the region and reap their health benefits while the greenery around can offset the carbon foot prints.

6 )As a responsible tourist, While we travel we should ensure we plan and travel short routes and use that mode of transport where we leave less green gas emissions.

7) It is best to forego bottled water which travels miles to reach the users destination, instead it would be ideal to carry our own personal bottle and refill RO water at the hotel or during our journey. This way we can avoid the usage of use and throw plastic bottles. On an another note, it would be better to buy and always carry a personal copper bottle whose  copper charged water is a health benefit we reap.

8) instead of cold storage food which are refridgerated and reheated with microwave, we can opt for the “Pan to plate” freshly cooked food by minimizing the energy used by the appliances.

Plastics in the form of carry bags,cups, bottles, plates, spoons are the major contributors of pollution. As tourists/travelers,we avoid using disposables as far as possible and use reusables.

10)  We have to leave zero or minimal waste.  We  must dispose wastes like wrappers of biscuits, snacks, chocolates, fruit peels responsibly. We must avoid food wastes. Even the wasted food, we ensure it reaches the nearest bio gas plant and suggest the hotel, the  food excesses can be sent to the needy (incase, it is not a practice).

11) When we buy souvenirs, we buy from local artisans and promote local handicrafts as tourists which will augment the income of the local people.

12) we visit local areas of interest like museums, places of worship, handicraft centers and promote them during our conversations or through blogs or on social media.

13) hire and use services of the local workers and local transport .

14)  promote and encourage hotels which use the 3 R’s “ reduce, reuse and recycle” while we too practice the same.

While these are some of the ideas that can be promoted, I must say that I do practice most of what is written above and I dare to rewrite this famous quote on traveling

             “Take only memories, leave only footprints.”  Chief Seattle
as " Take only memories, leave only footprints, lessen the carbon footprints"
“I am blogging for #ResponsibleTourism activity by Outlook Traveller in association with BlogAdda

Some of my memorable stays have been in such homestays/resorts

1) at a place called Peechi near Guruvayoor. This place was on the sholayur range of westernghats and close to the famous Athirapally falls. We stayed at a guest house which was designed and built by the famous Laurie baker who was famous for building with sustainable and local raw materials with focus on natural ventilation. This region is a total plastic free zone

2) at a resort in Farahabad near Srisailam. This resort has cottages built with mud, thatched roof and the lighting in the whole resort is solar powered. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Kudos to all the unsung heroes

I have always believed that Mother nature is a great teacher and yet again, she  proved and taught a great lessson that almost washed out the coastal area of Tamilnadu like chennai, cuddalore and Pondicherry. . Suddenly, the  New born, the old, the sick , the differently abled , the strong and the weak, rich and poor had nowhere to go .People lost their homes and many souls had no food and water and were on the roads.

Even the few, who were safe in their homes felt as though they lived in the dark age. They had no clue of what was happening around them. In a highly advanced tech world when all of us were boasting of communication shrinking the world, mother nature showed she could cut us off from our near and dear ones.

It is heart wrenching to see the visuals and read the stories doing the rounds. But amongst, all these one positive point that emerged through is humanity. Apart from the Ever green heroes from our  3 forces, Army, navy and AF,  This deluge has thrown many more heroes and super stars.

 It is heart warming to read temples sheltering non-hindus, a muslim helping a hindu pregnant women to reach  a doctor, a daily wager like fishermen, auto drivers, security and maids contributing in kind and cash for the relief fund. Neighbouring states which fought for water now uniting over water by sending volunteers and relief materials.

 Amazing stories of humanity unfolding and social media like facebook, whatsapp and twitter which has born brunt of ire from many were the angels without wings  which threw many online volunteers and help spread the message fast. I think we need no more hysterical news channels.

The youth especially who are always hooked on to the social media did a great job. The army of college students and school students volunteered at many places to help reach the relief material

It is not the spirit of chennai, /cuddalore bombay, new york, bangalore but it is the spirit of man helping another....Kudos to all the unsung heroes..God bless!! I am sure this spirit will help rebuild Chennai, cuddalore and Pondicherry.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A dessert from my ancestral town

I had invited my cousin home for lunch and   had decided on the menu but wasn’t sure what dessert to make. My son suggested I must make the donuts that I often make. The donuts I make are a hit with my daughter’s hostel friends, everytime she comes home, this is one of the tuck foods she takes to the hostel.

As I was to trying to assemble the ingredients for making donuts, a thought struck me that I must make a traditional dessert which is not very famous or well known especially for this cousin who was born and raised  in the northern India  and now lives in the US. Today desserts/sweets like donuts,pannacotta, tiramisu are more famous while some of our own traditional Indian desserts are forgotten. I decided to list out the traditional desserts and two of my favorite desserts topped the list…the dumroot/ kushmanda halwa of Udupi or the Asoka halwa of Tiruvaiyaru. And Tiruvaiyaru asoka halwa won. The reason......

Tiruvaiyaru is a sweet little temple town on the banks of River Cauvery in Thanjavur district of Southern Tamilnadu. Although this town is famous for the ancient temple, this is more famous as “Mecca of Carnatic music”. Every year in January, Carnatic musicians from all over the world congregate to celebrate “Thyagraja Aradhana” on Bahula Panchami day which is the Samadhi day of the famous Carnatic composer Saint Thyagaraja. Along with music, the other thing this town is famous for is the high calorie orange colored halwa dripping with ghee called Asoka halwa, Which many national and international tourists pack it to their home.

Enjoying to a famous kriti (compostion) sitting on the banks of River Kaveri and relishing this delicious  dessert on a moonlit night is a simple pleasure I want to experience one day in this town. I have experienced this in on a sunny morning at 9 am though. My daughter sang the famous kriti of Thyagaraja “Raghu nayaka.......” at pushya mahal ghat with no one around, I sat on the steps of the ghats and watched the slowly meandering river and listened to her sing the kriti. Pure bliss!!

And there is another reason for choosing this halwa famous in Tiruvaiyaru, because this musical riverside town is our( my husband's)  ancestral village:)

Now over to the making of this dessert….I have tweaked this sinful high calorie  traditional recipe to make it a  guilt free low calorie dessert by adding natura sugar free, substituting food colors and reducing the quantity of ghee.This is also a regular on the wedding menu of Thanjavur Brahmins.

Asoka halwa recipe:


Moong dal – 1 cup
Wheat flour – 2 tablespoon
Natura sugar free – 1/4 cup 
Ghee – 1/2 cup 
Cardamom powder – 1 teaspoon
Cashew nuts – 10-15
Permitted food color-  orange ( I used 1 teaspoon beetroot juice and a pinch of haldi)

                                              The making of Asoka halwa


  • Roast the moong dal lightly and soak it in water for 10 minutes.
  • Pressure cook the moong dal till it makes a mushy paste.
  • In another pan, add a tablespoon of ghee and roast the wheat flour till the aroma emanates and allow it to cool.
  • Now add a table spoon of ghee in a thick bottomed pan and add the mushy moong dal paste. Simmer it on low fire ensuring it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add natura sugar free and blend it well. Once sugarfree natura blends well, add the roasted wheat flour and mix it well till it binds in to the moong dal mixture , add the extracted beet color and haldi.
  • Keep stirring it by adding a table spoon of ghee  at regular intervals till the mixture leavens the pan. Sprinkle the cardamom powder before switching off.
  • Finally,Garnish it with fried cashews.

                                               Guilt free amd Sugar free Natura Asoka halwa

Saturday, November 21, 2015

With a spring in her feet , a smile on her face she is - #madeofgreat

I have encountered so many people who have left a lasting impression in my life, there are many from my family, my friends circle, from public life, my acquaintance, bloggers, online many….. I was finding it difficult to narrow down on one person and was thinking whom to write about…. Just then my house door opened and in walked my house help Lakshmi. As she walked to the utility area, it struck me that I should write about Vasanta.

Vasanta was my ex- house help some 7 years back. Before that, I had known her ever since this housing society came into being  9 years ago. She was then my neighbours help. We would use the services of each other’s maid when one of them was on leave. But Vasanta was the one who would often be on leave and my neighbor would ask my maid to pitch in those days. This was very frequent. And Vasanta had a reason for this.

Vasanta’s story was not a common “maid story”. She was not married to  a husband who invested time in drinking or other wayward activities. Although from a lower economic background, he was a hardworking man , the  difference was he was fighting terminal TB and she would often take him to the Government hospital for treatment and attending to him, that was the reason for her taking leave. Her family of her parents and in-laws were living in a remote village in Orissa and  near Vijayawada respectively. With two Kids aged 3 and 1, she would tend to her husband, work in our society and look after her kids all single handedly and all this with an eversmiling face. I have never seen her rant, curse her fate or indulge in self-pity even once.

Very soon, her husband succumbed to the disease. She borrowed money from us and took her husband in an ambulance to Vijayawada. After a month, she came back with a smiling face. Out of wonder, I asked did she never cry? She said she cried and relieved her traumatic days and it was done with. She had to move on...... I and my neighbour advised, she should go back to the security of her in-laws or parents. But she said, that there was no work in village and she would not be a burden to the family where she had young siblings. She herself was around 19 at that time.

She rejoined work with us, She admitted her son in a  boarding school for under privileged boys and would bring her little daughter to work who was two years then and had a walking disability. The daughter would lie in the balcony. Her love as a mom would ooze out when every now and then between her work she would go to the lying daughter ,cuddle her and massage her leg diligently.

She also ensured her employer had a clean home and she was also trust worthy. Atleast, I never entrusted my house keys with her, but my neighbor would entrust an open house with keys to her. That was the trust she had gained. That is another secret of her success. She does not work looking for money alone, but works from her heart and there were times she would do the necessary work without even we telling her .There was no shirking of responsibilities or half-hearted measures. Money is an automatic by product for the good services she rendered.

Life went on for her. After some two years, She  decided to put her daughter  in a girls boarding school. She moved to stay with her and work with in the boarding school which offered her shelter too. She was gone  for two years.

Again one fine day, she landed at my place with the same smiling face. She said, Now, that her daughter is big, she quit the hostel and has started working in one of the pent house which offers a one room home for her and works as a cook. In her free time, she brings work  from a garment company on a weekly basis and does tailoring work. In the evening, she seeks permission from her employer and makes bondas, samosas and earns selling them to the nearby construction workers. Tailoring and cooking  dishes, she said she learnt while at the hostel. Although, her children study in a funded school, she has to spend an yearly amount. Many of us help her. She saved amount to conduct her sister’s marriage. She also helps her in-laws financially. I was amazed at her learning and entrepreneurial skills. She even picked/picks  up few phrases of english and tries to communicate with us. When I and my neighbor meet we don’t stop admiring her courage, determination, learning and entrepreneurial skills and think  this maid of ours  is a perfect example of #madeofgreat and  empowerment.

Where did she learn all this? Which university did she go to? Did she attend any self-development program or read personality development book  on how to live life and apply them practically? I think she is a classic example of what happens to us may not be in our control, but what we do with what happens to us is completely in our control.

Married at around 14( she can’t say this correctly, she says "maybe 13 or 14") widowed at 19 with two small kids and she is now an empowered strong entrepreneurial woman at 28 and a dedicated and loving mom, she corrected her daughter’s defective leg with medical advice and her persistent efforts of massage has put her daughter back on strong foot. Last summer vacation, It was a pleasure to see her daughter walking perfectly, she brought her son and daughter to show me and my neighbor.

Vasanta,true to her name renews herself, has a spring in her step and sports an ever smiling face-  she, to me is an achiever and #madeofgreat in her own way, and these are the kind of people)  we should learn about in schools to create confident gennext!

This post written exclusively for tatamotors #madeofgreat
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The best comment on this blog post which answers the question  "What do you think of Tata Motors' association with Lionel Messi?", will receive an amazon voucher worth rs 750. ( this is for the readers here)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday stealing - to break the "break"

I am never short of ideas and thoughts, so many of them criss cross my head even when i am meditating that i take quite some effort to silence them at times. I do express them also at many platforms but when it comes to my blog page, my thoughts get silenced and ideas don't flow. Today, i forced myself to open this page and write something, but words were incoherent, i blog hopped and found a meme on Shilpa's page and so today i use this Sunday stealing as a tool to break myself from this "break"

  • Is there anyone else in the room with you atm? What are they doing? Nobody
  • Do you show your teeth when you smile, or do you prefer smiling with your lips closed? I don't show my teeth
  • Would you rather be told the truth, even if it isn’t what you want to hear? Yes, i want to be told the truth.
  • What is something that you plan to buy, as soon as you’ve saved up the money for it? actually nothing, i want to give away or sell so many things from my house but if i still have to buy something, then i want to buy a....... mmmmm.....maybe a bread maker portable one.
  • Do you play Sudoku? no....i am bad with numbers, but i am surrounded with sudoku experts at home - my mil, husband and son,  so  the sudoku squares are always filled with numbers in paper and in magazines. We have a sudoku video game too.
  • Have you ever had a migraine? .ohhhh..... many times...... i only have to walk in the hot sun, skip a meal or smell oily stuff and rest assured i get a migraine attack....the frequency has reduced though. I like to stay away from sound and light when i get a migraine attack.
  • What was the last book you read for pleasure? just finished reading Paul Brunton's " In search of India", i loved the descriptive writing of the journalist author, I travelled back to the India of 1930's through that book....the last few pages i lived in Ramanashram, Tiruvannamalai.,an excellent book especially if you are a spiritual is more like a spiritual travelogue...for me, it was a pleasure read. 
  • What was the last item of clothing you purchased for yourself? a blue stole
  • .Your first serious relationship, do you still talk to him/her? Yes, I do.
  • Who is the last person you texted? my maternal uncle ( mama)
  • How close is your family? very close, God bless!!
  • Is there anything too serious to be joked about? yes .For instance,a serious idealogical difference can be comical or joked about  ( without hurting) but not a health issue.
  • Do you like to understand and have good knowledge of things? of things that interest me, I would like to have good and deep knowlege, and of things that don't interest, i don't like to have good knowlege...just superficial knowledge will do. 
  • What is worse? Back pain or shoulder pain? my lower back pain, i have to be careful while i travel on bumpy roads expecially in an auto or two wheeler and while i do some yoga asanas.
  • Have you ever almost fallen off of something high off the ground?not high off the ground but i had a serious fall and tripped on a shallow ground some 5 years back. My ankle ligament twisted and tore while i was on an evening walk with my friend and i was on a pop cast for 6 weeks. This leg break slowed down my pace of life and altered my outlook towards life too. A phase which slowly initiated  me  to spirituality . 
  • What’s one fruit you love in drinks? Pineapple 
  • What is something simple that you’re afraid of? I am afraid of cockroaches or any pests like houseflies. My house is pest free and now i want my plants to be pest free too. Every morning, when i walk into my little balcony garden, i don't want to see aphids. i am afraid, if they attack, my chilli plants get affected. 
  • Has this weekend been good? So far so good
  • How much time do you take to get ready in the morning?  maybe 20-25minutes( with a shower, tea etc)
  • Last movie you watched in a theatre and with whom? Uttama villain a kamalahasan movie.( i did'nt like it) - with husband and close friend's family. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The joy of real togetherness!

“Part of the problem with the word 'disabilities' is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” - Fred Rogers

 In a society, where technology rules most households and daily schedules are demarcated by minutes instead of hours, many of them complain about stress, lack of family togetherness and leisure time. In most households, parents work full time, so are busy throughout the week and children are too busy with school work and extracurricular classes. Some children hop from one tuition to  another leaving maybe weekends to connect with the family. 
The little free time that most families get is spent in front of TV, or on other gadgets like laptops, palmtops, phone etc… With all these they are not still relaxing but engaged in a cognitive process. People can wile away time in front of TV and still not come relaxed due to the constant flash of images, storing information, about the characters in the serial drama, movies, plots, themes , news etc. Even connecting with fellow humans is through digital world in the form of whatsapp, skype, facetime and emoticons etc. No wonder there is a lack of real communication, relationships, people feel more stressed, are always busy, pine for leisure time  and lifestyle diseases are on the rise.

“Real togetherness” to me is not while we are connected through digital world where we exchange emoticons and feel like robots,  but while each one of us connect in person, ,share our feelings,  communicate and feel our relationships through our senses. Communicating  face to face, playing interactive games offline, division of family labor like doing simple chores like cooking, cleaning, eating together, family outings like shopping,  going on nature trails have cathartic effect on us and brings a family  or a community together. It relaxes and brings out our senses and emotions to the fore and works like a security blanket is what i feel.

For instance, going outdoors into a lawn or a nature walk will give an opportunity to breathe in fresh air and experience life outside the technological world. It gets our limbs into exercise in a fun way.

The nature walk need not be a complicated one to a faraway forest reserve or waterfall and can be a simple one with a walk into your nearby wooded neighborhood park or if time permits to a wooded getaway or a farm  nearby. It would be interesting with so much to observe, explore and even record. If we are accompanied with kids, it would be a pleasure to see them use their senses and limbs. They will be able to hear, smell, feel and see things  in real, all they have seen in digital world. Imagine a child chasing a colorful butterfly, smelling the dewy grass, running their fingers over the mossy carpet of green growth, climbing trees, lazing under the canopy of a tree and weaving their dreams, watching the different shapes, textures and colors in front of their eyes. And if we are still, we get to hear and see wonderful sights and sounds in nature.

Nature walks, apart from bringing the family together helps develop a keener sense of observation in kids. It makes them inquisitive and helps them to communicate better and question the natural happenings. Their eyes get exposed to the beauty and helps bring out the creativity in them by expressing their thoughts through sketching, painting, writing etc. Apart from learning and having fun, nature walks with family helps bond with the family as a unit and helps build life skills by keeping close to the family and not wandering away, following simple rules laid by the parents, being responsible, exploring their skills by observations, simple survival skills, helping, trust building, problem solving if need be.

Walking together, touching and laughing together, having fun observing the kids so immersed in the above activities during nature walk like chasing a colorful butterfly , climbing trees etc, ,…it  would be a pleasure to see , feel  and experience all this. This is my idea of “real togetherness” with family.

Or even if this is not possible where time crunch and traffic snarls put off most outings, then bringing nature into home is another idea of “real togetherness”. At a time, when space is a premium and “lung spaces” are not around our vicinity and if we live in apartments then nature walks nearby could be a luxury.

We can still build our own mini, micro or nano gardens in our balcony or window sill. We can grow small plants , micro greens in butter tubs, biscuit tins and involve our children too which helps form bonds and relationships with the plants and experience all sorts of emotions and builds values. These little green journeys apart from bringing the family togetherness are nothing short of sensory carnivals.

Mixing and potting the soil together, sowing seeds, identifying them, watering them and watching the growth together as a family while having evening snacks or tea around the little nano garden brings a family together.


Also during morning times, the stillness of the early morning would enable to take in the glimpses of enchantment and enjoy the little things like the morning sunlight filtering through the dew that lingers, the small seed that you sowed the other day which starts to germinate with a promise,  the little insects like ants, bees, beetles which are at work, the ethereal scents of the plants which seem more generous in offering topics for conversation in the family and  they super charge you to handle the challenges of the day.

These are a few simple costless acts which can help build “real togetherness” with family, connect with nature and break us from getting addicted to the digital world. 

                                             (organic tomatoes from my  balcony garden) 

Embedding a lovely video from Kissanpur, please don't miss the below video.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Farmer's Dasara, anybody?

Around this season of the year, although I am present physically here, my mind is loitering around Mysore and Mylapore, two places where I have made a few pleasant memories during Navaratri. I have  subscribed to pages of these places so that I get updated with pictures and news of the buzz happening there. 

It was interesting to note in the Mysooru Dasara news feed, that this year The mysore Dasara apart from the regular features of Horticulture exhibition, kavi goshti, consumer exhibition, sports and concerts will celebrate the farmers too in a unique way. There will be a series of plays, events , music shows and films especially for Karnataka Farmers. Apart from entertaining, There will be interactions, counseling talks to stop farmers suicide and help them to overcome the problems

Pic courtesy: google images
Infact, this year’s Dussehra launched at Chamundi hills was not by a VIP but by a progressive farmer 67 year old Puttiah. His speech at the inaugural was  inspiring and he surely is a role model for all the farmers.( and other professionals too)

His advice to farmers is that they should look at constant income, adopting inclusive farming by cultivating short term, medium term and long term crop besides venturing into diary farming for daily income. He says he has prospered through daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly ,half yearly and yearly earnings.

For his daily income, he relies on selling milk, for weekly income he sells vegetables, quarterly by harvesting coconut, half-yearly by selling pulses and after an year, he earns through harvesting sugarcane, turmeric and other yearly crops. This way, he has ensured constant flow of income to the family and also gets returns through animal farming.

It’s energizing to note that this son of a bonded labourer has sensibly prospered from a 4 acre land to a 40 acre land without taking loans.

His message to fellow farmers — “Adopt inclusive farming, don’t lose hope and be brave to face the uncertainties. Suicide is not the solution to your problems.”

 Hope this message reaches the farmers , for it is really heart wrenching to read the sad news of their suicide almost daily . I think this message could apply not just to farmers but all those people who lose hope

Coming to the Dasara festivities, apart from street plays , films, talks related to the farmers, This dussehra will also host games like Running in the Mud (Kesaru Gadde), stone lifting competition, running while carrying fertilizer bags, running with a water filled pot etc…

So unique! This Mysore dasara must be motivating and encouraging to the farmers!!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

I too had a dream - an inspiring book

I needed a condensed milk can to bake a cake and so went to the supermarket to buy one. Normally would have picked up the Nestle brand for this is the one I grew up with and more popular especially with condensed milk. But this time, I picked the Amul brand and the reason for my change of mind is a fantabulous inspiring book that I finished reading recently “ I too had a dream”.

The book is an auto biography of Verghese kurien. The man behind the Amul brand and fondly called “The father of White revolution”. The book talks about the trials, struggles that Dr, Kurien had to go through for taking up the cause of Indian diary farmers,consumers and co-operative societies.

Dr. Verghese Kurien a science and engineering graduate from Madras University Who was more interested in making metallurgical Engineering a career but was sent to USA on an Indian Government grant to study Diary engineering. He was least interested in making Diary field as a career but on return to India he was sent to Kaira in Gujarat as part of Government bond for 3 years. How a reluctant Dr. Kurien inspired by Tribhuvandas Patel , a community leader went to stay on in Kaira a backward village,built the AMUL empire and was responsible for  founding IRMA is the story.

The book is less on his personal life and more on his professional life, his struggles with the bureaucrats and politicians for the cause of farming. It’s amazing how a single man could stand against giants like Nestle,  the corrupt bureaucrats and politicians and fight the system, get maligned by the press for no wrong deed and take home a paltry sum as salary. He deserves all the awards and accolades for committing to the country’s welfare. He truly is an institution.

The book has many orientations on leadership, management and people power, the book is a must read for everyone who wants India to be self sufficient.

Especially now when the whole world is gearing towards a digital world and catching fancy terms like globalization and liberalization which is pretty abysmal. We are already facing a huge threat of environmental degradation, food shortage, electronic garbage etc…Organic vocations like farming,weaving, pottery etc. are facing crisis. There is a large scale migration of the rural population towards cities.

The responsibility before society is to encourage the rural economy by supporting Indian farmers, weavers and artisans thus indirectly contributing towards a sustainable and balanced environment and help them in marketing their products to the outer world. We need visionaries like Dr. Kurien

This was a borrowed book i read, i am now adding this book to my library. 

P.S : Another late night or early morning post, posted at 1.02a.m

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

To my dear daughter,

My dear daughter, it was with joy I held you 19 years back on this day and ever since the day, a day has not gone when you hav’nt given me moments of surprise, joy, laughter, pride and ofcourse tears too( but I will not talk about tears…all those are related to your not eating food)
I remember every milestone of yours and have recorded them in stills and video but some were’nt recorded…….

At 1, we realized how smart you  were.  You walked by 9 months and were such a sweet child who attracted all those hostel students of IFIM who lived opposite our home with your liveliness and cuteness.

At 2, you could  color the alphabets which I drew on calendar backs  and you did it with so much control , you would settle down beside me when I chopped veggies and rattle off their names,  and you were off to pre nursery at 2.6 .  I still remember, how your brother would sense your arrival from school although i would hush you up and tell to tip toe, he would wake up and you both would play “scooter scooter” on my back. While the little one did’nt even know to speak, you would do funny faces and sounds and he would gurgle and laugh. It was such fun to watch you both. You were an entertainer even at that age.

At 3, you chanted all those slokams with much  clarity and you had even started sarali varisai.    @  Pankaja aunty’s music class. You enjoyed the puzzles and little luttappi stories of “The magic pot”. 

At 4, you romped home with certificates for singing, drawing and cursive writing. and  I still remember how I would sit you a while in the BDA park on our walk to the library. You loved playing the beach set.

At 5, while I felt you were too young to join dance, you volunteered to join Imran Sardariya’s  Dinky’ s dance academy and faced the camera for the “Amma ninna tholinalli” song with Ramesh Arvind with such confidence and that confidence showed when you were  published in ‘The Hindu’ amongst 50 kids.  Around the same time we shifted to Hyderabad and the very first day in your new school although you were moist eyed in the new environment, you  got a certificate for Cursive writing.
Around the same age, I loved the way you and your bro enjoyed Karadi tales, while you listened attentively on the audio, your bro would hold the book upside down and pretend to read. We both would laugh at those antics.

At 6, your teacher Meena Chauhan spotted your potential and selected you for all the extra curricular and you would come home and prepare for all those without my prompting. I still remember the way you practiced “The foreign lands” poem standing on the kitchen table. You asked me to correct your modulation while I cooked.

At 7, Your teacher Anita Potay, marked you again as a brilliant girl and  that was also the year you said you would study and do your work independently without my supervision. You enjoyed all the mythological stories I narrated to you and one day you refused to drink “payasam” , you said drinking “payasam” would make you bear babies. When I looked askance you said Dasharata wives bore babies because they drank payasam. This was also the year you volunteered again to join the abacus academy while I felt you were too young to handle too many things. Again, you proved me wrong by cracking the competition amongst so many older kids.

At 8, you enjoyed watching splash TV channel which was exclusively for kids. The kids cookery show in that channel inspired you to do cooking and you would mimic the shows with your brother. Both of you loved watching Caillou and Clifford the big red dog in the morning before going to school.

At 9, Once during our visit to “Lifestyle” on children’s day, you volunteered to participate in all those kids shows and you also wanted to join the fancy dress competition for which we were unprepared. I said you can’t participate in that since we were not prepared.  You said “IT’s ok ma, I can still be the newsreader”. You awed me with your presence of mind and confidence.

At 10,  You were always a great help even while young, but I loved the way you would independently take your brother and cycle within our colony to reach Madhu aunty’s beautiful summer fun class. The antique finish painting and the clay work  you learnt there still   occupy a place of pride in our home.

At 11, You simply soared in academics and co-curriculars. And remember the swimming you hated at the age of 6 in your school, you simply learnt in 3 days in our apartment pool and taught other kids too. You even learnt Breast stroke all on your own and due to your interest by watching others.

At 12, you started inspiring your friends and I was so proud when Sumati aunty told me that her daughter Akshi (junior national TT champion) took to studies seriously only because of you. She had to miss her classes due to TT coaching  and tournaments and you helped her and  motivated her. You have given me so many such proud moments.

At 13, I remember the drawing competition which you participated at heights -1- while you competed with kids your age and older who were trained in art . You beat all  those trained kids and won the prize in the competition.

At 14, The year you refused to throw a birthday party, you instead said you wanted to poor feed on your birthday, It made appa and me beam with pride for having raised a compassionate kid and you said appa teaching the 12th standard underprivileged kids  was the inspiration for this.

At 15, You, a perfectionist ,disciplined child  would work so meticulously, diligently and do your work perfectly while balancing play and extra curricular. I still remember you played , attended your music and drawing class even a day prior to the boards. That  year also saw you getting a perfect CGPA of  10  and it was a moment of joy to see you go on stage to get the certificate and award for topping while all around in the auditiorium clapped for you.
At 16, I had tears of joy when appa pillioned and  you drove our new two wheeler. You started driving to your school with a learner’s licence. This was also the year when you joined the NCC and roughed it up at the boot camp. It was a matter of pride when a random man at an exhibition walked up to me to say “ Your daughter has leadership qualities”.  an ex-army officer at your boot camp and a visitng faculty at the business school ISB, a man of his calibre saw potential in you is a cherishable moment for any parent.

At 17, While you always took control of situation, were matured and independent, this age saw you  focusing more on academics and we never had to push you to do anything. I found you slightly stressed this year since you wanted to ace the entrance. You found  it tough to balance due to school work and the design coaching work.  Yet again a milestone year for you, where you aced up both academics and entrance. The year we also took the  malaysia -Singapore trip which was a great learning and enjoyable experience.  You and your bro lived independently in a separate room and we your parents found it  amusing when you both led and navigated us with guides, maps and directions. This year also saw you fly away from the comforts of home and live in a hostel.

At 18,  The  new environment, new set of friends, academics , home sickness were again proving difficult for you initially but you over came all those mighty obstacles and proved you can defeat them with your fighting spirit.  Very proud of your fortitude, Yet again another year where you aced up the system all over your national institute and brought us pride.OFcourse, your appa your confidante was a great moral support to you.

 Aah!.…. This was also the year you took  your car driving lessons, earned  your four wheeler driving  licence and you overtook your amma in this. I felt like the bournvita mom where the son defeats the mom in the running race…you know some defeats in life bring so much of joy and loosing to your child is one of them. I was overjoyed when I saw you maneuver the busy Hyderabad traffic at  Nacharam, that day of course you were guided by your dad…a few days later when I heard you telling appa not to guide, I and appa could only exchange glances of pride. Not just me, it feels nice when our neighbours, relatives and friends think the same about you.  I got a whatsapp message from Anu aunty the same day telling me that you crossed her while driving and she said I can’t believe how kids grew so fast and she wrote you were a role model for the girls of our complex.

Very true what she said, don’t know when you kids grow so fast, we blink and you grow  while we parents stop growing. In fact, it reminds me of a poignant dialogue from a Tamil movie Abhiyum Naanum (remake of Father of the bride) which beautifully details the bonding between a dad and his daughter, from a little girl to a grown up. The dialogue goes:

“When a child is born, a father is also born. But child grows up so fast while dad remains the same”.

And ,  you are already 19!!!! Dunno when??!!... a very mixed feeling.

 A very happy birthday to you my dear girl. I am sad  you could’nt spend the day with us but am glad that your friends have hijacked our place momentarily and made the day memorable for you. Glad to see you surrounded by such responsible and loving friends. Hoping to meet you this long weekend.

And of course, our hopes, prayers, wishes and blessings will continue to grow for you and I know you will stand by the values you were raised with and you will grow stronger and stronger with God’s grace and elder’s blessings and be happy forever. It was another cherishable moment when all your aunts, uncles, grandparents,extended family, teachers and friends  blessed you today . You are cloaked with their wishes and God's protective hand around you. You are my beautiful, talented and wonderful angel  and you very well know you have a perfect cushion in your family to fall back . Happy birthday again, my dear princess. Stay blessed forever. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Doodles and colors in my dream :)

I was turning pages of an old magazine which my daughter had bought from the second hand book market. She had bought them for one of her project works last year.  She left them home this year and I was wondering if i must retain them or sell it to the raddiwalla. I was stacking them and suddenly an article on the amul moppet caught my attention. I remembered I had drawn some cartoons, painted a few landscapes during my school years and one of them was that little amul girl. My mom used to encourage me my drawing on post cards and A4 sheets...when they were done, she would ask me to post them for relatives during new year, pongal, diwali etc... My drawing ,painting and craft skills just ended there with my school days. During college, drawing circuits and connectors took over and then with work and other things in life...i had never thrown a glance towards any of those colors and those colors never lured me too.

Even when i brought crayons and paints for my kids or other birthday kids, the colors never beckoned me to lay my hands on them.

But that day when i saw the amul moppet, it struck me i should try and see if i could draw and surprisingly the amul moppet was not bad ( first pic) and an approval from my creative designer daughter encouraged me to try one more and that too turned well and now i am bitten by the creative bug and like Macleod says there is a little voice in me asking to doodle and play with the colors of the rainbow and beyond. I am now enjoying this spurt of creativity which was lost some 28 years ago during my school days. I am rekindling this with whatever i learnt in school and all those greeting cards which amma used as a tool to encourage me is coming of use today. These colors and doodles are now chasing me in my dreams that I atleast try to make one every two days. They are no master pieces but surely give me happiness with each stroke and i so feel at peace with myself.

My subject have been mostly Indian traditional and folk is my dream( atleast for now) to revive and restore Indian arts like Warli, Madhubani, Cheriyal, kalamkari, shall see where it goes from here but for now enjoying this:)

Storing some of my pics here.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

An alumni meet triggers a few school memories

It was another one  of  husband's school alumni meet and he had to miss this time due to a priority work. But his friends had managed to webcast the same and I too joined to watch the fun. Many of his friends shared some of the school memories most of the strict punishments, warnings and other naughty pranks were fun to hear, One of his class mates narrated how hindi language was a night mare for him and he could not differentiate between sanskrit or hindi when recently somebody had forwarded a message to  him.  He also shared how once  his teacher asked him to make a sentence with " Prathi din" in hindi. and he a ttempted to make a sentence with  "prathi din mera janam din hai"  and felt accomplished only to realize its meaning later.  

Listening to their anecdotes, i was reminded of my own....for me kannada was a night mare, I had chosen this as my third language. A jobless neighbour uncle of ours helped me in class 4 and a few of our neigbhour kids during exam times  with  kannada and there was this lesson on Malaria where i had to read a sentence " sollegalanu dhoopadinda hodisabahudu" meaning you can chase mosquites with the fumes of dhoop. solle in kannada meant mosquito and i read it as Soole ( meaning prostitute) meaning prostitutes could be chased with dhoop. My neighbour uncle laughed heartily while i had a puzzled look ...... for long he  used to remember this and recalled in many gatherings till i grew old. He would say,   while he felt like scolding others for making mistakes...i would always get away for bringing such lighter moments. Another time he asked meaning of " Pragati" and i told him "gotthu uncle - i know uncle" confidently and said " kett buddhi" ( bad intelligence/knowledge) and sported a confident look...all these were fun moments in the small class. 

While my husband was telling he could not recall any of his school memorable moments( he has a very bad memory which i think is a blessing in many circumstances) mind travelled back to the 70's and 80's to my school and college times...

Although i can't remember any of the incidents of LKG and UKG which i combinedly did for an year( 6 months each) at a small montessorie school opposite my home in Rajajinagar....i remember a memory vividly of my First standard. we then shifted to HAL in Bangalore and I studied in St. Thomas school. My uncle who then stayed and was looking for employment would walk me to the school was a km away from my home and we had to walk the broad HAL  road which had a divider. The roads were not busier then but it definitely had cars and big buses which carried people to the airport and a few heavy vehicles like loaded tempos and lorries. One afternoon during lunch break I found a way out of school and walked on the road divider safely to reach home, I was just 4.5  or 5 years old. I told my mom who was washing clothes that due to teachers meeting we were let off. Next day, too around the same time, I reached home with the same excuse. While the previous day, my mom did not suspect me, the second day my mom found out something was fishy. I  was a pampered single child then and hated school where the nuns were strict and were walking with a cane in the hand. I was not interested in studying and would find ways to bunk school.  My mom  immediately readied herself and took me to the school and found the school was functioning. She left me in the care of the nun and all i know after that  was the bamboo cane leaving purple scars on my legs right in front of the chapel where i knelt to pray to god. 

To this day, the whole incident is unerasable in my memory...thankfully i studied in that strict school just for an year.. for second standard,  since my mom moved to her maternal home for delivering my sister i studied in Kumaran's school in Mylapore for 6 months. This school was more like a home, where the teachers pampered me like their own was a small school and my teachers used to take me to their home. I particpated in dance and fancy dress competition and won prize. The photo copies  of which are still in many of relatives place that recently my second cousin in Atlanta had posted in a family group and asked to identify me.

My third standard again I shifted to Bangalore. Chennamma memorial school at Richmond road , run by Chinmaya mission with montessori methods and headed by Lalitha Mandanna.... a school that gave me excellent exposure to sports, creative arts and studies.  Perhaps this school brought out my love for sports and arts....more on this and other anecdotes  at another time.....

P.S: signing  off this post at 1:28 a.m  - another one of those sleepless nights which helped me to blog.

PPS: edited spellings on this post on reading a second time...i have to be careful now because recently my daughter's friend read my blog and told her" your mom makes many punctuation and spelling mistakes"....LOL

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Marina memory to celebrate Madras day

My childhood summers were always   with my cousins at Madras. And during those vacation times, apart from the simple family times we spent at home, outings meant going to  relatives house, hotels, temples , bazaar streets, parks and the beach. While  most of the outings would be in my Thatha’s sturdy Amby MSR 2277 which carried 2 elders and 8 children( some times our maids nieces too would accompany making it 10 and my elder mama would tease us as “Mazhalai pattalam”  ( childrens army) , the beach  outing alone would be by walks  & cycle rickshaw  since thatha never accompanied us.

While each simple chore and incident of those stolen days of my childhood is worth recording, right now I will make this a beach  post as today August 22 is a special day.

Beach as I said was one of our regular play outs. Although beach was walkable from our grand parents home, the planning would take more than a week because our elders who accompanied  us like mami, chitti, amma or perimma   at home were busy in the evening. They had to cook meals, go to temple especially if it was Friday it would be the special archanai at kapali koil, attendng to unexpected guests( guests were regular and generally most of them came unannounced). So, till the beach outing came around, we had to be content with catching the beams of the lighthouse which fell on our terrace at night and enjoying the cool sea breeze all through the day on the terrace even on hot summer noons.

Finally, when the time came for the beach outing, we would be suitably dressed in frocks so that we don’t carry beach sand home and merrily prance on the serpentine kutcheri road and reach the Santhome beach sometimes stopping to  gaze at some of  the shops enroute.

   Santhome beach was generally an unmaintained beach where the fishing community lived  while Marina a few kms away was the fun spot.   So we would walk on the sand, our legs would’nt carry fast on the sand    but we would try to run and catch one another and walk a while till our feet came in touch with the surfing ocean of Marina. The next half hour or more would be fun and frolic in the salty air  with the ocean tides… building castles  in sand with tunnels,, ducking  our feet from the crawling crabs, sitting on the waves and drenching ourselves , burying our legs with each approaching wave, collecting shells, splashing a hand full of water on our cousins, spitting the salty beach water if ever it got into our mouth,  running away and into the wavy beach , looking out for the beams from the light house. ….all these till it almost got dark and the final warning came from our elders who till then were calling out our names like in attendance register inbetween  their family talks.

Amidst, all this  we would notice the “Sundal boy’ – a little boy  in a worn out dress and a metal tin carrying ‘Sundal” and calling out “ Manga Battani sundal”.  This is one of the signature street eats of Chennai beach . Despite our many requests , our elders never got this for whatever reason and I have never tasted this during my childhood days. 

On our way back home, we would be treated to a Choco-bar or a softy ice cream at the corner shop of Kutcheri road across the Santhome beach and then with darkness around, we would hire a cycle rickshaw , huddle  into two rickshaw and reach home carrying the beach sand in our wet dress. The whole pathway from the front door to the backyard would be scattered with beach sand  that fell of the dress and we had to wait turns to get into the wash room and freshen up.

Such simple moments that were part of my glorious  childhood that I have spent at Madras are the reasons I love Madras. Rest of the reaons like “hot weather”, “ sweat”, “ conservative city” etc pales in front of my childhood memories. Thank you Madras for giving me such fanciful moments. These will not be forgotten for they are stored in the crevices of my heart and in such blog posts for eternity. All I need  is some solitude and a trigger like your birthday to bring out such posts.  

In the past many years, I have made many short visits to madras but I could never prioritize a beach outing there.  Last year, on our way back from Singapore trip, my teens insisted we must visit the Chennai beach and so with just 12 hours at disposal to exit Chennai, we took off some time in the early morning to visit the Marina. It was a different experience this time, I never felt like stepping into the bay, I was sulky about getting wet and the sand sticking to the wet dress. I just sat on the shores and watched the bobbing ships, the waves surf up and down. I was more into observing the joggers the  kids playing around, the early morning tea shops and hotels on wheels.  I was also on the  look out  for the “Sundal boy” and  realized It was too early for “sundal” since they do brisk business only in the evening.

The elusive ‘Sundal’ which by the way is a medley stir fried boiled lentils, grated coconut, carrot , finely chopped mangoes sold in paper cones.  . Years later , I did eat this just once and that 6 sense taste still lingers now ofcourse, I make them at home….but I still want to experience that Sundal popping them slowly ,gazing at the azure waters , sitting on the beach of Chennai under the evening sky.. This is on my “to do” list on a visit to Madras.

And as i mentioned before today's beach post is special because only the first city of modern India can boast of the second longest beach - The Marina (after Miami) and somwhere down there on the shores and waves, it  holds the foot prints of my childhood.

Happy 376 birthday to you Madras - my birth town and the city that gave loads of lovely memories. 

                            On my "to do" list to eat beach sundal in a paper cone sitting on the Madras shores.