Posted in Lateral Thinking

Healthy in Heart & Mind…

Reposting something from Jan 2010 lol. With a little bit of edit, not much.

I am quoting Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel winning verse ‘Where the mind is without fear….’ from ‘Gitanjali’.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high.
Where knowledge is free.
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls.
Where words come out from the depth of truth.
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection.
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit.
Where the mind is led forward by Thee
Into ever-widening thought and action.
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake!

Rabindranath Tagore

Now i add one more (soon -to-be) popular verse 😀

Think the Unthinkable;
Speak the Unspeakable;

Do the Un-doable;
Dare the Undareable

See the Unseeable;
Ponder the imponderable;
Write the un-writable;

Question the unquestionable;

Dream the undreamable;
Envision the invisible;
Challenge the unchallengeable;
Change the unchangeable;

– by (whoelse but?) ME!

Posted in Political

CDS Killed In Chopper Crash

Sad day for the nation as CDS General Bipin Rawal is killed in copter crash in the Nilgiris. Conspiracy theories will play out in this high profile air accident that has taken a heavy toll of 13 Defence personnel (with one military officer fighting for his life in hospital), the top military brass of the nation. Could it have been the joint project of China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans still have not learnt their lessons, for it is not even a week since a Sinhalese man was lynched and burnt in Pakistan. This is the kind of nexus they are seeking, keeping India out of the loop. Submerged in mounting debts against China, Lanka is at the point of breakdown. India has to be wary as China has surrounded us literally: buying out wholly Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and now even the Maldives. But one great advantage with India is that, we are battle-hardened. The chinese can manipulate us and win the battles, yet we shall win the final war if it comes to that. I will not underrate India against China. Neither has China passed the acid test of democracy. Someway along history this has to happen, and when that happens, China will break up. Meanwhile, India has to launch in-depth probe into the accident. Generals can’t die this way. To me, this is war against India. India has seen far worse scenarios: having had PM assassinated when in term, PM dying in office mysteriously in foreign tour, PM hopeful assassinated, director of atomic research station killed in air crash, scientists dropping dead just like that. We have survived every time and we shall, this time as well.

Posted in Political

The Antivaxxers Theory.

I don’t know about the antivaxxer community in the US. I guess, the men and women who refuse to get vaccinated in America are more bothered about violation of their physical body, not wanting unknown foreign substance in their system. The Americans are known for upholding individual rights or freewill. What about India. There seems to be a lobby working even here who are against vaccinations. One religious group in Kerala for instance reportedly have not been administering even polio drops to their infants. It is this group that is the fastest growing population in the entire nation with highest fertility rates. Imagine the damage that is waiting to befall on us should things go wrong. We have been believing, polio has been abolished from Indian soil. The same group could be a reason for unbelievable number of Covid cases in the state (refusing vaccines) although their communist government would like to shift the blame to gulf-returnees. The fact is that, every single expatriate working in middle east has been vaccinated far earlier than resident Indians. We may be going for a booster dose shortly. Chances of NRIs bring the coronavirus from Arab countries to India must be very slim. The ruling state government of Kerala probably would not want to point fingers.

India has had an ambitious immunization drive in the last few decades. There is an interesting angle to antivaxxers case in India. Most Indian adults of voting age have been brought under the tax net by Modi govt with Aadhar and PAN linking. Or in short, a lot of regularizing or streamlining of the Indian economy has been happening ever since the BJP govt took over for the first time in 2014. This means, individual identities can not be easily forged although this is happening in sporadic cases. There have been instances of procuring Aadhar in our north east sister states by illegal insurgents. Barring these isolated cases, there is no scope for hiding in loopholes denying your existence in India anymore. Every single Indian citizen is now brought under one legal umbrella where he/she is accountable for his/her actions. Accountable to every penny. There is still however a small percentage of our population who can escape the trap by filing form 15G etc., or not filing any returns at all. There are housewives (like me even) and small-salaried who do not pay income taxes (for earning nil or minimum untaxable incomes) yet. Then there are the jobless. There are the preteens from who we have a miniscule percent of juvenile delinquents. There are private practitioners of various professions, trades and arts. There is a burgeoning lower middle-class. There is this huge chunk of blue colour population. While all these may have their Aadhar identity, they may not necessarily have a PAN. Apart from Aadhar, India allows for numerous other IDs such as the Driving Licence (DL),Voters ID, Passport etc., for identification and address verification. A second set of IDs of secondary nature are our LPG bills, Phone bills etc., that we may pay for utility.

What the Covid vaccination does is, bringing into record the entire Indian population with their legal IDs. When I first registered for my first Covishield in India, I was asked to produce my Aadhar card. For my second dose, the first used ID was rejected. I had to necessarily flash my second ID for which I used my Voter card. I have now added my passport to my Vaccine certification. So in effect, three of my IDs have been effectively linked to my covid vaccine certificate by our Modi government! Very smart! An irrefutable proof of individual IDs or Indian citizens in this case is established. Illegal residents such as Bangladeshis in India will have to work double hard to sieve through this tight closing net. Any foreign national on the run in India cannot for long disappear. A main reason for anti-vaccine community to gain grounds is supposedly this, although our leftists would like to term it all yet another case of deprivation of individual liberty.

Number of conspiracy theories are doing rounds about covid vaccine records and stats. Sometimes even the skeptical me would wonder whether plans are afoot to depopulate Planet Earth!

Normally, I am opposed to vaccines. As someone born in late 60s, the only vaccine I took was for Small Pox which is long since eradicated from Indian soil. I vaguely recall my school giving me annual Malaria shots when it poured cats and dogs for successive monsoons in the early 80s. I haven’t even taken the anti-hepatitis shots although the men in my family have. Covid vaccine is my first serious vaccine really.

It is also true that not only is it in India, but in entire world the masses will be profiled undoubtedly with the vaccine information we provide to our governments. Our age bracket, our medical history, our indisputable IDs all give our sleuths voluminous material to grade us or track us. I just cannot dismiss the book 1984 by George Orwell out of my mind. I do feel like collared sometimes, tagged, like we radio-collar the wild animals in the bush or the cattle and sheep that graze in grasslands. Someone, our big brother, is watching. However, I relax in the thought that I have nothing to hide or lose. I am transparent and I have no reason to fear my government or law and order. I am not that worried about individual freedom that I wouldn’t want to comply with safety regulations which are for my own physical wellbeing. I have to stay alive to argue about suppression of human rights! Corona has me pinned to the floor. I have no choice but to go with my govenment.

The data that we file such as our vaccination records that carry our ID information and other private details such as previous medical history also is now going global as we fly to our destinations worldwide. We sign documents online and we register in various portals as we have to take off and land in different airports. We have downloaded covid apps in practically every single country and the bluetooth surveillance tracks our every move. We need permit to enter any space. Connecting the dots, I can hazily make out a global consensus on earth’s population. Classified data! Mindblowing stats which may otherwise be impossible to collect! How many inferences to intrapolate and extra-polate with all those jumbled figures! So what are they going to with all these numbers???

Sometimes I am glad that we have someone showing resistance at all to anything and everything. This could be a very small percentage but we need this kind of naysayers for our own benefit. We don’t know what lies ahead. We are instilled with a fear our parents and grandparents never knew in their lifetimes: the fear of the unknown.

As I blog this, the latest variant Omicron is hitting headlines around the world. One more story of negativity and psychological terror. Will we ever know normal times again? When will we achieve the herd immunity.

Many in India and the US criticize anti-vaxxers but covid vaccine is not in the same class as polio drops. There is a world of difference between the two. We need extensive research on certain issues that our media would not deliberately pickup. I am sick of the Indian tv channels that have become the mouthpiece of those in power. Real debates are not happening, what must be discussed is not spoken about.

Not even national security is strong enough reason to collect individual data the way world nations have been piling on since March 2020. Meanwhile covid is still here. How many more booster shots, nobody knows. How many more forms to fill and sign in, who knows. The only thing we haven’t affixed so far in our covid certificate is our right thumb impression.

************

Why are Indian mothers worried. My friend’s healthy daughter in her twenties in India went for double shots spaced out. She was having regular periods until then right from her menarche. Ever since taking her covid shots, the girl is having irregular periods. Her second dose was months back. After 6 months lapse finally her cycle is falling back into regular pattern. First 3 months, nothing. So is there a connectivity at all with covid vaccine and fertility. Research in this area vital with figures collected for conceptions made by couples after administration of both doses of covid vaccine.

Posted in Pictures Foreign

Review: 14 Peaks (documentary)

First of all hats off to Nirmal Purja (Nims) and his Project Possible Nepali team for having scaled the 14 eight thousanders in record 6 months and 6 days. As Nims himself says, he is undoubtedly the Usain Bolt of the eight thousanders! By eight thousander, we refer here to mountain peak over 8000 meters in altitude. The said 14 peaks lie in Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet (under Chinese control). Refreshing watch for someone like me who reveres nature and wildlife. Informative and inspiring, to say the least. As an Indian citizen, as a Hindu, i am extremely proud of my Nepali brother Nims. Yes of course Nims, you are spot on! World would have celebrated with such a fanfare, had it been someone from the west who had achieved this Himalayan feat (literally). But it is okay. Take heart that, some of us like me wouldn’t in a million years believe that it was Edmund Hillary who scaled the Everest first. Thousands of brave and unsung heroes, the Nepali sherpas would have done that centuries before. Their victories were just not documented. And yes, every Sherpa goes by a name. It is insulting to refer to these tough-made men as mere Sherpas. The Gorkhas of Nepal are very respected in India. Their tribe has thinned out now, but even today, lakhs of Nepalis work in India including in my hometown Chennai making life easy for us. We wouldn’t trust any other, believe me and we would like to see the back of Bangladeshis from our soil (although I must not talk politics here). With Nepalis I have this soul connection. The sight of bindhi in Nepali women in middle east is hearty. I never miss an opportunity to chat them up. Have had the chance to chat up even a Bhutanese woman. Your world record matters that much Nims. You have not made just Nepal proud, you have made us Indians proud as well. We never see Nepalis as any different.

Coming to the picture, it is crisp and neat, but I wish it is far more elaborate with further reels from the summits of the Himalayan peaks. The film runs for under two hours. Is it possible to lengthen it by any means with some extra footage. This is one damn well made real life story. It underscores the fitness criteria and also the unmitigable human spirit that is possible to nourish and sustain that saw Nims scale the harshest peaks on earth in such a brief interval of time. Human body is capable of such an exertion. Faced with adverse economic, climatic and political conditions, the Project Possible team still weathered the storm in their own way never turning back from their goals and never stopping to believe in themselves.

I was particularly impressed by the K2 conquest. I have watched quite a few films on this one but they are all still reenactments of real life incidents or figments of someone’s imagination (like the Cliff Hanger for instance). I have also watched others like the Everest, K2 etc., but watching the drama unfold in K2 in this one was interesting. What a trendsetter and a leader all the way is our Nims! We need young men like him to lead our masses from the front!

Had it not been for the delay in acquiring the Chinese permit for scaling the last of the 14 in Tibet, Nims and his team would have made it in under 6 months. As such Nims has shattered 6 world mountaineering records on which note the film closes.

The 14 looming eight thousanders are:

From the Nepali side: The Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, Mt Everest, Lhotse and Makalu.

From the Pakistani side: The Nangaparbat, Gasherbrum 1 (G1), Gasherbrum 2 G2), K2 and Broad Peak.

From the Tibetan side: Cho Oyu, Manaslu and Shishapangma.

Savoured every single moment of watching this outstanding flick. God bless Nepal and God bless the Himalaya. And God please liberate Tibet from China!

The snowy vistas are intimidating and the avalanches are unpredictable. The drops from the chasms and clefts have our jaws dropped! The bottleneck on K2 gave me goosebumps from here! To say HACE or the High Altitude Cerebral Edema is scary is understatement of the year. Nims with his exceptionally courageous Nepali mountaineer team comprising Mingma David Sherpa and Geljian Sherpa among others took calculated risks. Bravo! Well done team! Perhaps Lord Pashupathinath wanted Nims and his Project Possible to do this for Nepal! You must let nobody steal your thunder Nims! You did right! Go on and on and leave no stone unturned in your wake, lots of love and respects and cheers & best wishes from India Project Possible guys! Sky is your limit!

Posted in Socio-Cultural

The Swamy Photo Shops (Swamy photo kadai)

This is not about photoshop but about shops that sold photos or pictures.

We Indians are way too familiar with photo shops that line our temple streets and the temple towns where framed pictures of Hindu deities of all sizes are painted-printed to be sold for a price to the devout. Practising Hindus revere two relics in the puja (home service or altar): framed pictures from the photo shops and/or ‘vigrahas’ (small stone/metal carvings/sculptures/idols). We inherit some as heirlooms passed over for generations in the family; we go for the latest prints of our deities as well to suit our home decor. There are then the laminated ones for our desktops. There are photographs from temples of the murthis as well. Photo shops cater to our devotional cravings and there are some of us who are even ‘collectors.’ I have friends who boast of collections of Tanjore paintings that have been the rage for some time. Personally for me, the Tanjore art is for aesthetics never for Puja. Nevertheless, I love to browse through these religious photo shops that have a variety to choose from: the black & whites to enameled and embossed works with silver and even gold filigrees. Gods and Goddesses at their finest! I have even feasted my eyes on rarest depictions of Raam, Lakshman, Bharatha, Hanuman in which Raam is not at all looking good! There are antique finishes in photo kadais although now I am not sure whether the faded look is manufactured digitally these days. I wonder where the sepia tinted Lakshmi and Saraswathi from my parents’ home went. The ageing of those pictures was natural lending them an ethereal look. I do now have the Raja Rajeshwari like a reigning queen in my puja, from my in-laws home that has been with the family for over a hundred years. I have not retouched it or tried to restore it. I merely changed the frame as the old teak one had given away and the picture was exposed to damages.

As a Mylaporean, I have spent hours and years walking in the four Mada streets looking at the swami photo shops. Dutifully every morning on way to school I would say a small prayer to all the deities that graced us girls from within the wall of those shops. The frames then were wood. Now what we have for frames is either metal or plastic variant that however comes with a wood finish. Except for the artistically done Tanjore painting that is hoisted over teak frames, none else merits a wood frame these days.

The city has swami photo shops in every locality but it is those in Mylapore that are always special to me. I also have the habit of getting at least a small photo or vigraha from whichever temple town I visit like for a memento. My Puja articles such as bronze/copper diyas, deepa aarthi etc., are from the temple town of Tirupathi. In my parents’ family, always the puja paathiram (articles) for the newly wed were gotten from Alarmel Mangapuram in Keezh Tirupathi even if we daughters of the family were also gifted another set in sterling silver (as ‘seer’) (that we would secure in the bank lockers to use only for our kids). Years of hoarding small framed pictures and vigrahas have added to my collection and now my puja has become a bit staggering! Not really, but I wish I could keep it modest. However, every swamy photo in my puja can tell a story. Nothing was bought over the counter like a commodity. Guruvayurappan came home for instance from Guruvayur, where in 1996 I and my husband gave ‘tulabharam’ to our son in the temple. By the way, the kadai veedhi of Guruvayur is spectacular with the perpetual air of festivity about it !!! A second time, I got a small pair of Kerala kuthuvilakku from the same Guruvayur sannadhi street.

Tirupathi sannadhi street/kadai veedhi was a craze for me when we used to go to the seven hills every year for a darshan. My Mallikarjuna is from Sri Sailam, Kanaka Durga from Vijayawada, Udipi Krishna from Udipi, Mookambika from Kollur, Sharadhamba from Sringeri, Lalithambika from Thirumeeyachur. Satya Narayana was lovingly gifted by my Chithappa (as I observe the Pournami vratham) who also with my Chithi gifted me the first ‘traditional five’ photo: Pillayar, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Murugan and Perumal. We all start our life (thani kuduthanam) with those basic five in single frame! No business runs in India without these five who are important for success in any and everything. Another prized frame is Lalitha Parameshwari, printed from handdrawn painting by the Sringeri seer. That edition is sold off now. Our Arni Perumal (from the Shiva Vishnu temple of our family whose presiding deity is Perumal, with Shiva in a small sannadhi) is juxtaposed against Tirumala in a framed picture in my puja, due credits for which go to a cousin for his literal photoshop work. Arunachaleshwara is from Thiruvannamalai. I have Varahi from the Varahi homams I attended for years every Amavasya. I have Sarabeshwara again from my chithappa both of which I was discouraged from having. A believer in forgiving gods and never in punishing ones, I went ahead with having them and they are with me for over 15 years now. In the Padikasunathar temple near Kumbakonam, the archaka returned our mint fresh 10 rupee notes after placing them in Shiva’s feat that I framed for puja. Looks as if I am worshiping Gandhi, but then why not. Love him or hate him, he was an exceptional humanbeing. Perhaps not a cult guru but a guru nevertheless.

There is something in our family puja (in our community) that is not sold in shops, and this the shivaite sign of our family tree representing our Kula deivam. My mother used to do ours in a wood block anointing it with turmeric and vermillion but i decided to paint my in-laws’ heritage in yellow and red symbolically in a piece of wood. This is a distinct mark of our lineage and although now I am trying to wriggle out of these binding roots, I respect and revere them immensely. Our Arni ancestral home is like a repository for aged swami photos handdrawn and/or painted originally supported by teak or rosewood frames. I picture the great grandfathers and their wives and families in this house whenever I visit. The palatial home had once mounted within its high ceilinged, beamed and pillared spaces, original Ravi Vermas. Or perhaps very first copies from an era when colour photographs were still leagues away.

There are connoisseurs of God’s pictures like these. Serious collectors. Like those who go for offbeat Meenakshi Sundareshwara, Kanyakumari, Ma Durga etc . I recall Devi names among other protective avatars during my everyday puja. The deities whose names I chant aloud have surprisingly made their way to my puja. That is how Annapurna reached me from Kashi/Varnasi, and Vaishno Devi reached me from Kashmir. I have even Pashupathinath from Nepal received as gift. These last three are in my puja in middle east. I love looking at puja of friends. I love the oldest/ancient pictures and the inheritance mostly. Tanjore paintings are not really my cup of tea. They do not serve the purpose being ornamental, so far as I am concerned. But I do have two. My chithi chithappa gifted me the baby Krishna for housewarming. My friends gifted Radha Krishna for my son’s wedding. Tanjore art though brings in good vibes.

An important itinerary of my girls gang temple tour is a walk through the mada veedhis or the sannadhi streets of our temple towns, taking stock of framed pictures, antique shops, trivia shops that sold the old parama padham, pallankuzhi etc., the bronze and the copper shops, the claypot shops. I love this kind of nostalgic trips always. With friends, it is even best. It transports me back to the 80s. For Kabali temple utsavam, my grandma used to give me two rupees every year. I used to buy peacock feather from the gypsies with the money. Now i greatly regret it. How many peacocks were forcibly plucked for their feathers! But the thiruvizha kadai veedhi on utsavam days still stays fresh in my memory. The ‘theradi.’

A visit to the temple where I used to frequent every single day of my life until I married washed me over with memories of photo shops. This is still good business as I noted. I walked into one and picked up a bright print on impulse. The shopkeeper asked me if I lived nearby. I said, I did until 28 years ago. Some of my swami pictures are from this shop – the ones that my chithappa gifted. I told the man I used to stop even at this shop everyday for a quick blessing from the divine on my way to school. The owner chuckled saying it was common in those days.

I thought how many small trades India supported. How many varied occupations survived in India, the likes of which you cannot find in any other corner of the globe! How innovative! I think the charm of India is this. I just did not have the heart to move out of the small shop where there was hardly room for more than a couple to browse comfortably. I wanted every single picture of God from the shop! What a beauty is this Sri Rama Seetha Pattabhishegam. I remembered I still did not own one! The dull finish handpainted one was priced at 9k so for the moment I have postponed my swami photo shopping urge. There are many, many more like for instance the Shiva family. The romantic Muruga with Valli Deivanai with the peacock making a beautiful backdrop – a rare angle handpainted frame. Krishna grazing and playing flute. Bala. Lalitha. I loved the different depictions as well, not the conventional always.

Swami photo shop windowshopping reminded me how retail therapy alone is not solution to everything (for bored housewives especially)! At the end of the day. our heart knows what matters. We embrace peace without even knowing it. Most of us underestimate ourselves rating us as materialistic. In the swami photo shop I was thinking like, how i wished i could have one and all of the swamis and a big, big puja and nothing else in life. For a moment, that is the way I felt. My one regret in life is my apartment living where I do not have a puja room. I have to make do with a puja cabinet, that is all. It may be ok, but the swami photo shop reminded me how selfish we are to relegate a mere corner space in our home for our puja. In my parents home as well as old joint family home of in-laws, the puja was a separate room with a door and padlock.

I have decided to repeat the swami photo shop strolls in future at regular intervals. I do not mean in this context the latest showrooms catering to our spiritual needs like the one we have near Kabali temple. I am referring to single standalone swami photo shops that specialize in swami photos and framing. These are another category.

I love the kumkum, chandan shops as well. The archana thattu shops. The glass bangle shops. The flower shops. The thengai mandi. Arisi mandi. Woodpressed oil stores that are now back in business. Coffee bean grinding outlets. Now even Mylapore has deteriorated beyond recognition. Gone is the kind of temple town situated around the tank and temple that we grew up in. Yet those like the swami photo kadais survive against all odds retaining a stubborn foothold in the competitive world where to stay alive is phenomenal. The swami photo kadais are one of the last bits of connection some of us retain with the old world we have lost: that of our parents. I felt such a swell of fulfillment last evening having spent half an hour in a swami photo kadai and an hour and a half in a spiritual store, the kind of which we normally derive from a hearty darshan in temples.

Posted in Political

Billion & Counting: India’s Covid Vaccine Program.

#latepost

I am in India after over six months. I left in the third week of April from Chennai and soon on my leaving, there was a deluge of delta variant cases in the second wave that caught the locals with a shocking agility, extracting a heavy toll. The picture was gory in international media as burning pyres make for sensational stories. Nations could consign their own pressing issues to the backburners and distract their populations with dastardly views from India, where masses were swept under by covid surge owing to ‘mismanagement by government’, which wasn’t their case. True partially. We Indians got carried away that the first wave did not hurt us, we overvalued our curry immunity and underestimated the deadly virus and we paid for our mistake dearly. We hadn’t learnt our lessons from the UK or other European countries that were under brutal onslaught from the second wave. And we could have still made it, had it not been for our election campaigns that saw crowds swelling throwing caution to winds. However, that was in the past. Now here I am in my hometown after a hiatus of six months, and I see none wearing a mask! A billion vaccinations India has managed to administer, entirely locally manufactured. Covishield may be from/for Astrazeneca, but Covaxin which is DNA based, is hundred percent local Indian brand made by Bharat Biotech now winning WHO approval. It is a Himalayan feat literally and India does not stop with vaccinating her citizens. India is exporting the corona vaccine to some ninety nations, and to many of them as aid on humanitarian basis. No wonder this is not going down well with Europe or America. Airports closed down on Indians but that has not deterred my nation from going for the vaccination in a big, big way. It is as if there has never been the virus. Touchwood. Well done PM Modi ji, what a stewardship! India’s population is 1.3 billion so one can imagine the monumental success of the vaccine administration program. I am bearing testimony to how well my country is fighting the virus. Having a near normal life here, a great blessing. Meanwhile cases are soaring in the US hitting millions and taking a heavy toll. No BBC or CNN ready to do a lead story. My request to our PM is to go for booster dose next. We will have to keep ourselves abreast of every situation for next four to five years. India is chaotic, not at all organized, but through all this confusion we are still ticking! Somewhere somehow something is working and keeps us going hahaha!

Posted in Political

Farm Law Repeal: Good Governance More Important Than Big Ego, dear PM.

Extremely happy with the repeal of farm laws to the farmers’ delight, PM Modiji. I have not yet gone into details. To me, the citizens’ contentment must matter more over rules and regulations. Everything is arbitrary. Who defines what must be the thumb of the law. Who draws the lines and where. It is alright to bend a little, we are all human. It is alright to take a step back, hold up a decision, reverse gear. It does not mean you succumb, or that you stand defeated. You can revise, you can unlearn and relearn and you can totally change perspectives. We all evolve with age, and sometimes even within days. Whether this is a political gimmick or not, I welcome this change of heart in you dear Prime Minister. It is those who remain stubborn who have issues. Do what is good for the common man. My personal advice to you PM ji: like me, you have longest past over what remains of future. Be a good soul, gentle soul, kindred spirit. I would like to see you a bit loosening up. Thank you ji. We earn nothing killing hopes and destroying families. Let the common man be happy. Become a people’s man ji. Let the nation remember you the way we remember Chacha Nehru, the darling, with luv and luv only. May you never become a feared memory for generations to come. Hundred years to you! God bless!

PS: Foot in mouth moment for your cronies in social media. Always raise your voice and banner for what is right, for not what you want to be thought right.

Posted in Food For Soul

Thambadhyam

We in our family always feed the crows before touching our meals (on parents side). My aunt is a septuagenarian. And sick and ailing. She is unable to climb the staircase and go to the terrace to give food to the crows. So my cousin devised an ingenuous idea for her to give food to her crows right from their kitchen. He screwed in a iron handle to a stainless steel plate that can be hooked to the grill for hanging. Crows had a perch now on the sill and also on the very plate edge. The crows looked forward to the food everyday at exact time. The plate can be later unhooked for a rinse.

After years or decades perhaps, I went for sleepover to my aunt’s. Frail from ill health and probably terminally ill, she still never forgot the crows. Daily she would give one small meal of dal, kozhambu, rice, curd with til (ellu), veggies etc., to the crows after offering the plate to my uncle (within photo frames) It is only after giving my chithappa his food, she is able to eat even a morsel of food. This touched me totally. I know for a fact that my chithi and chithappa were such an ‘anyonya thambadhi’ – the kind we cannot see in future. I felt honestly ashamed (!) by the kind of love and respect my aunt still had for my uncle who passed away three years back.

The crow plate is easy to hang on the grill. I was blessed to offer the crows the food when I was with my aunt. One day food was not ready but it was getting late. So I just had to offer curd rice and ellu (til) salted to my chithappa and then the crows as my aunt would not miss the timing! Chithappa would be hungry!

This really brought tears to my eyes. May sound weird to many But i clicked these pictures to show how easy it is to feed the crows right from your balcony or service verandah.

Posted in Women & Family

Life Is Beautiful!

being woman

No flower blooms for anyone. Every flower blooms with its own fragrance. Every flower delights in its own blooming. Why should one compare a jasmine and a rose or even an unscented flower. Lack of fragrance is also flowery and will not strip an unscented flower of its beauty or elegance. Or its essential substance. I am that flower on its proud stalk holding its head high, not the droopy and withering, bowing out.

Why do we women compare ourselves with others. I don’t consider myself to be pitted in contest against anyone. None of us is on mission to usurp others positions. We all have our own sunny spots under the sky where we revel. Women and insecurities! Low self-esteem is just not one of my characteristics.

I don’t consider myself lesser than anyone just like I don’t put myself above anyone. Younger women, wealthier women, healthier women have been following behind me since the day I was born. If I have to turn back and reevaluate myself at every step, I would n’t be half a woman that I am today. I would have perished wallowing in self pity since long, if not quashed by ego. I am not the designer kurta or jewelry just like someone else cannot become the fair-skin. I am not my age and I am not my bank balance. Not am I the creed or the faith. I am not the book I read or the food I eat. I am not my trade, nor am I any brand. I am not my place and I am not my accomplishment. Neither am I my fertility or my marital status. I am not the current station of my life. I am not the vibe or the mood of the moment. I am just me. I can be simply me. We women have our souls and characters. We are made different. I am not beautiful like any other, I am my beautiful self. BEautiful me!

Neither impressed by sedan or villa; nor by social status or charisma. There is a small tribe of us ladies who are immune to whatever male charm.

Why should we women prove anything to anyone. I have never had the urge. I can do without constant validation and judgment. I prefer to keep a low profile. My blog has compromised my privacy, about which I am helpless.

My cup of happiness and contentment is brimming. I lack for nothing in life. I am not looking for a refill. I am one wholly satisfied woman. I am complete and enough by myself. I don’t need to be measured against an other woman. It is an affront to my womanhood. I am the spirited. I am the feline feminine me. I can be the angel and, I can be the witch.

But I do pause to count my blessings. Respect to me is the highest form of expressive human emotion, transcending any other. It is lovely to be treated with that kind of respect. This one trait in humans moves me for some reason. Respect is also mutually reciprocal.

Life comes a full circle! Life is beautiful!

Posted in Food For Soul

Dubious Karma.

By default I am Hindu Indian and therefore I have to be a believer in Karma. There can be no other way. But Karma also can double up as a good excuse when it comes to explaining injustices and inadequacies among us. In middle-east, locals prefix every utterance of theirs with a phrase, ‘god willing.’ When I arrived here for the first time, I developed respect for this unwavering trust folks placed in their maker that I believed I somehow lacked! Faith was one thing but to give my one hundred percent without batting an eyelid to anything even if it was god, was just not me! There is always an iota of persisting doubt in me of whatever it may be. After all where I come from we say, ‘netrikkan thirappinum kutram kutrame! to Lord Shiva who we believe is the father of this universe. Over time, therefore that ‘god willing’ greeting started getting on my nerves. I had misgivings that failings and mismanagement and inefficiencies were easy to shrug off this way without us having to inflict ourselves with the troubling pain of guilt. People moved on. Any promise or assurance you may want from parties could be sworn under a solemn oath in the name of god, ‘god willing!’ There is no point in laying the blame at the doors of those who do not live up to their words, should things go wrong. Here we have a clear case of god’s will. Or in other words our Karma. This is exact replica of how we operate in India! How easy to not take responsibility, not be answerable, not to be even questionable. Everything has a past connection or god’s hand on it conveniently! Which is why I am a bit skeptical of ‘Karma’ even though I am raised with cultural ethos that place a huge premium on our past, present and future karmas. I guess, there are those among us who would like to use karma like a crutch to lean on when we have no other supporting evidence to keep logic going. This third leg of karma steadies us from faltering. We are saved. Our sanity is in tact. Complacency and supplication and insolence and ingratitude become our mental make-up. Wrong sense of entitlement can be righted. Weaknesses are miserable and sufferable. All balances square up nicely and tally. We can now cleanse our souls and transfer residual karma, if any, to our next janam where we can deal with the mess ‘aaraamse’ – god willing.