Assamese Food Festival. Part Two - During my growing up days, going to a restaurant was a treat, most days we ate at home, a traditional Sindhi meal- Curry Chawal, Sai Bhajji or simple veg...
Saturday, 31 January 2009
I walk down the street, I need to walk to keep myself fit, but Mumbai roads bother me…how do I walk in these broken streets of Bandra? This is the road that I pass everyday, This is the lane outside the National college, there is heavy traffic down this lane and I am pushed back towards the kerb of the street, the foot path is broken. .I am afraid of falling, even a small stone on the road can make me lose my balance. I am advised to carry a walking stick but it is quite cumbersome to carry it especially if I have one more bag to carry in my other hand. I wish BMC of Bandra would come to visit this lane and see the pitiful state of the road. They should see these open gutters where I am likely to fall if I am not looking The encroachment of street dwellers The exposed dangerous loose wires The broken foot paths Who says Bandra is happening place? I am surprised that this dirt does not bother even the young college students who pass these streets everyday !!!
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
The alarm clock makes noise at 4 30 am and I am awake. (Yes, you read it right, I CAN get up early if I want to) this is a special day. There is a long week end ahead. 26th January is the 40th Republic day of India and this call for celebration. A celebration of a country that can survive riots, terror attacks, floods and still stand strong, a celebration of a country that has 31 states, 1618 languages, 6400 castes, and 29 festivals and I am proud to be the part of it. In the wee hours of the morning, I get ready, finishing my morning formalities and I am at my gate at 6 am. My friends arrive and we drive through the empty streets of Mumbai, watching the sunset filtering through the hills, its rays glowing on the passing cars. The best time to enjoy the ride in Mumbai city is during those early hours or on holidays. (On other days it is real madness crawling through that traffic.) At 10 30 am, we reach the ‘Doctors Farm’ which is in the village of Airvahal in Raigad district, off the Mumbai-Pune road. The path leading towards this resort is narrow and broken, guided by the directions chalked out on random stones lying on the path. For the last fifteen minutes of four hours ride, it is a bumpy path, but once inside the gate, I am in heaven. So close to the nature, the air sings the tune of birds; the cool breeze has a sweet fragrance of blooming flowers. There is a great variety of plants and flowers. I ask the owner, Dr. Mirajkar, as to ‘what plant does he have’ and he replies, telling me to ask him as to what plants he does not have. In 16 acres of land, he has planted great variety of plants and trees which give opportunity to villagers to earn a steady income. We go for nature trail, walking on an uneven rough path, I am careful, reminding me to be careful, we are tired, the slope has left us breathless, we come to the dinning hall and while we wait for lunch, we play a game of Carromboard. After lunch we come to our room which is small but cozy with clean attached bathroom, we are in no mood to sleep so we play cards during the afternoon. In the evening, after tea, we walk down 80 steps (path carved from stones) and reach the river. We spend the time catching fishes (and then releasing them back into the river) I am sure that those fishes might have a good story to tell other fishes and can finally be unafraid of mankind. We go for a boat ride; the owner’s dog enjoys the swim and gives us company while we paddle boat. There is a group of other youngsters who are now fishing for pleasure. The sky is changing colors as sun sets. As it gets dark, we climb up those big, broad steps and come to the terrace of the dinning room, and watch the stars. The waiters serve us starters which are very, very delicious. After dinner, we go to the park, where there are swings and hammocks, and slides for children. Dr. Mirajkar tells us that best time to visit his resort is during rainy season, when there are natural waterfalls behind the hotel. He has artificial waterfall, landscape and swimming pools too but the other groups of people enjoy playing cricket and darts in the well-lit open playground. The entertainment went on till 1pm, when we finally called it a day. Next morning got up to the chirping of the birds, came out of my room to see the sun rays filtering through the trees. It was time to return to hell. Want to see more picutes? go to my album on face book
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
I refused an invitation for a dinner party at a country club because I wanted to watch the live telecast of inauguration of Barrack Obama. As I sit watching two hours prior to the event, my friend asks me as to what is interesting me so much.
She says “Do Americans watch any Indian events with so much interest?” I point out to 1.4 millions people gathered at Capitol Hill, all dressed in warm clothes braving the cold, who have come to watch the historical moment of America. I tell her that I want to experience the happiness of those people whose fore-fathers had not even dreamt of this day, those African-Americans who dared to dream, who sweated hard so that their children would see a better world.
The world is about to change and there is hope….hope for a new beginning…and I hear them all say “Yes. He can”.. And that is very inspiring for me.
I am inspired by the poem “Praise Song for the day” by Elizabeth Alexander.
In this poem, Elizabeth Alexander spoke in simple images about the noise and bramble, thorn and din, and about someone who stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair. Someone, who is trying to make music somewhere, with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum, with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice and of the farmer, who considers the changing sky/ A teacher says, 'Take out your pencils, begin.'
And then she goes on to say what if mightiest word is love that is beyond marital, filial, national, love with no need to pre-empt grievance. “In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, Any thing can be made, any sentence begun. On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp Praise song for walking forward in that light.”
And for three hours, I watch the event as it unfolds with the best musical performers such as Yo-Yo and singers such as Aretha Franklin, the poem, the oath and finally the ministerial eloquence of Barrack Obama.
I am impressed, when he says, “I will give you my hand if you unclench your fist”
That is the wonderful statement that I have ever heard. How many more people’s lives we could touch if there were no clenched fist?
It is the stubbornness and the ego of some of the people that keep us shying away from their friendship. If only they could iron out their frowns, we could then match our smiles. He promised to change the world. “Starting today” he said “America shall make a new beginning.”
Will Barrack Obama change the world? The misty eyes of those people in long cloaks, braving the cold weather, spelled the word ‘Hope’
Hope for a new world where all are free, all are equal and all deserve to equal measure of happiness. A stone has been etched with fine lines from an unused pencil and a new chapter has just begun.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
Today there was a biggest street party in Mumbai in which more than 35000 people took part and many more came to watch. John Abhraham was the brand ambassador of this party and he had Indian flag slung across his shoulders. The race started at the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus and ended at the same venue after the athletes touched another site of the terror strike - the Trident Hotel - on their way. While the 21-km Half Marathon began at 7.15 a.m., huge crowds joined the full 42-km main marathon of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, which started half an hour later. I watched the race on TV and was cheering them from my couch. The interesting part of the marathon was the dream run. Thousand of people in fancy dress were seen participating in this dream run. The spirit was that of a party with people whistling, shouting and waving at the camera as they jaywalked in groups. They were all running for a cause and 127 charities would benefit from this race. This year’s theme was peace and unity and this was the first major event after 26/11. Members of one group were dressed in mythological costume and they said that they have come from heaven to save the world and fight terrorism. There was another group of half naked people who were running for under privileged people. They said that they had worked hard, exercising and building their body for this event and proudly showed off their muscles to bring home their point. Another youth of 18 years old had painted his body and said that he was inspired by film Ghajini. There were many well know personalities who were seen giving interviews from their podium and cheering the participants. such as the Bollywood stars, the socialites, the businessmen, sport stars, politicians — yes, the citizens of all ages who put aside all their problems, the policemen, para-medic staff, the volunteers who come out to make this event a success. There was prize money of Rs30000 for best dressed group in the fancy dress competition. The Chief Minister described this enthusiasm as Mumbai’s dynamism. “Mumbai has what it takes to be like any great city of the world, not just Shanghai, the culture of this city is different, the people love life, they work hard, they wish to see the city grow globally and be among the best... and why not, we have what it takes, we have a vibrancy, an energy, so who wants Mumbai to grow just into a concrete jungle, why should we not bring in change through events like this that bring us together?” The marathon race was not about stamina, nor about the spirit. It was about the spirit of Mumbai that I saw it alive on these streets from my little bright TV window
Monday, 12 January 2009
Last night I received a call from my cousin across the seas, asking me to help his friend who has recently moved to Mumbai and is completely lost and confused. He was worried that she might go into depression if she did not find something worthwhile to do. I called her this morning and asked her what would she like to do? “Social work” she said “I just need to kill time.” “What kind of social work would you like to do? What are your interests? I asked her. She was not sure what she wanted “I want to do something like what you do. I like children, find me something where I can help children” she said. I asked her if she would be interested in teaching to slum children in Byculla, I thought she could help my friend in Byculla who runs activities classes for slum children during late afternoons. She said she didn’t want to go too far “No, I don’t want to go too far, can you find me something close by, in Bandra or Khar” she said. So I asked her to go to Carter road, early mornings, and there are free classes conducted for street children there. She said she cannot get up so early in the mornings because she has late nights and cannot sleep before 5a.m She wanted to do social work at her own timings and at her own conveniences.” Fine” I said “so what do you want to do?” “I am very lonely and I need somebody to stay with me, a paying guest will also do. Can you find for me a paying guest?” she said. Now she was asking me to get a paying guest for her. “How many rooms do you have?” I asked “I have only one room but I can share it with them. I don’t mind sharing my room with them. That way I will have company” she said Hello! Paying guest need space, they rent a room to keep their luggage and rest their feet. They are not there to keep company. I wanted to tell her about the pains of sharing your space with strangers. In one room it will be even more difficult, what if they want fan at a higher uncomfortable speed? What if they snore? What if they want to put off the light when you prefer to read? Too many sacrifices are needed if you accommodate people and charge them rent. They want full value for money. They are not there to fade away your loneliness. “I will see if I can find a paying guest for you” I said and wanted to end the conversation “No but I need something to do,” she continued “I need to talk to you, can I come over and spend some time with you? She said Now, since last fifteen days I am having guest, where is the time to listen to her? I told her that I was busy with my guests and she could come when I am free. She wanted to know when I will be free….My own work is pending, there was too much back log already and how do I answer her. I told her to come next week. “Is there some club or social gathering where I can find some friends?” She asked I told her about laughter club where people meet early in the morning at 630 am. I was not sure if she would be interested because it would mean getting up early in the morning at 6am. “Oh! There is a laughter club in Bandra?” She said “Yes, but it is in the morning so I m not sure you will be able to attend it since you sleep late.” I said “I think, I can try to get up early in the morning if you can take me there.” She said I told her that I cannot go but I gave her my friend’s name and contact and asked her to meet her (since she was a regular and friendly) at the laughter club and that she would introduce her to the group. I informed her the benefits of the laughter club that she would meet many people, who are jolly and maybe find some solutions for her loneliness, and they go for regular picnics, do social work and meet everyday to laugh and to exercise. The prospects of joining this club are good enough for her and she was quite pleased. I am feeling good to be able to find some solution for her and prevent her from going into depression…I hope she finds some comfort and joy and my overseas cousin might be happy too.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
Are they really serious? A report published in Delhi newspaper says that Rahul Gandhi is working on an idea of setting up a call centre so that anyone can reach him by a call or by sms. It further goes on to say that you can send all your complaints and grievances to the General Secretary of Congress and he is there to solve your problems. And that he is just few calls away. Jr Gandhi is working on the idea of solving the Aam Janta problem and breaking the myth that leaders are inaccessible. This idea will never work in India. People, who have no guts to talk face to face, become quite abusive on line. Most of the calls and sms will be crank calls sent by idle people. Seriously distressed people in India prefer if their problems are solved by some one whom they trust. And people in India have no faith in government. Nothing in India works without a bribe. Everybody is corrupt and selfish. If Rahul Gandhi sits on the other end of line listening to people’s problems, he will last for only an hour. There are too many problems, and most of them have no solutions.
Saturday, 10 January 2009
Obsessive internet use is a public health problem which is so serious it should be officially recognized as a clinical disorder, according to a leading psychiatrist. They suffer four symptoms: They forget to eat and sleep; they need more advanced technology or more hours on-line as they develop ‘resistance’ to the pleasure given by their current system; if they are deprived of their computer, they experience genuine withdrawal symptoms; And in common with other addictions, the victims also begin to have more arguments, to suffer fatigue, to get lower marks in tests and to feel isolated from society. I am not sure if I have this clinical disorder, I just spent all my free time on the net in quite a harmless activity called blogging. I love visiting other bloggers, reading their views and mainly to learn from them the new tricks of the trade. The new trend has started of winning the best blogger award. These blogger awards are not official but just expression of showing their love to the blogger. I stumbled upon one blogger who had collected so many awards that she could make one complete post on it. So what should I think about them? Must I feel envy for those intellect bloggers or feel sorry for myself that I do not qualify for such awards? It is easy to win these awards. You give one and you get one. The more friends you have, the more awards you get. The law of karma applies here. .’What you give is what you get’. But the craving for awards loses our creative ability. I mainly blog on things that interests me, well, initially it was like that. Then as I became aware of my readership, I started to get responsible and felt I was talking to that particular group of people who would read my work. The more traffic I would get, the more encouraged I was to write some more and before I realized I was blogging too much. Reading, researching for facts and blogging takes up so much of my time that I have to actually wean away from my computer to watch some TV program. Presently, I am following just one TV program regularly and that is during my dinner time. On those days when I have guests at home, I squeeze few moments to just check a blog or two, but writing or researching on topics during those days is difficult, unless the guests decide to stay for a week or more (then it is easy, how much can one talk to the guest who will stay more than twenty four hours?). Few days ago, I had some guests who came to spend a week with me. During their visits, I found time to sit on the net only when they were resting in the afternoons. My guest asks what I would do if there were no computers. Good question? I would be more useful then. When there were no computers, life was more fun. I found time to read novels, watch TV, go for walks, play scrabble, draw and paint and make lots of handicraft stuff like cross stitch, crochets, knitting..etc.. With computers my life has come to a standstill. This is the only window that I seem to be looking at. I have this disease called ‘Computeria’ and I wish there some rehab where I could be detoxified off this computer. I hope to be normal some day.
Friday, 9 January 2009
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Nowadays there are endless talks and discussions on TV about what went wrong during the terrorist attack and all the fingers point towards the irresponsible coverage of the media. They argue that nobody stopped the media from reporting at Trident or at Taj, there was no cordoning off the media and no control on broadcasting. Millions of people in India were watching the TV during that time, why didn’t they object? I was watching the live coverage too, I was getting offended with some of the useless talks that reporters were grilling at the public, but all I did was to change the channel and see what other channels were reporting. Not once did the thought come to my mind that I could call up the TV channels and ask them to stop reporting and telling them the dangers of exposing the details to their big bosses who were in constant touch with those terrorist, doing mass destruction. If the police and the government are in wrong for not stopping the media from reporting, then we are partly to be blamed too.
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
We have stepped into a brand new year 2009 and I have been so busy since the day one. They say that what you do on the first day of the year, you are likely to do it the whole year. Well then, 2009 seems a promising year and looks like I am to have the best of time throughout the year. Amen! I have been having family get together almost everyday. With Babaji in town, there was a large family in Mumbai visiting me. Anyway, on last day of the year 2008, my cousin (who has come to India without her spouse and kids) tells me that she did not want to go out for the New Year because her husband her asked her to stay safe. So she asked me to invite my friends and we could celebrate New Year just chilling at home. That sounded like a good idea. I invited few of my friends home for chilling in my house for 2-3 hours. On 31st night, my friends and their kids arrived at 10pm and the party started. I had made Samosas and Ragda, and my cousin made lasaniya (a baked dish), My friend brought Pineapple cake and I ordered Natural Ice cream. I had organized the games which had first and second prize as incentives and that became the best part of the evening. After having some snacks we started the first game, that was of acting out a situation. For example, a situation where your maid wins a lottery ticket and has become richer than you are and you react showing jealousy and regret or in another situation where you go to the market and you are getting cheated by vegetable hawker and you are protesting….. There were many different situations and the best actor won the prize. At 12 midnight we cut the cake and served it with ice cream, wishing everyone a ‘Happy new Year’, watching crackers from my balcony and then we returned back to resume our games. We then started to play ‘Snakes and Ladder’ which also had prize for the winner. This game was fun when playing in the group of adults and children. I had never had so much fun before on this board game. Climbing the steps, being bitten by snake or killing the pawn when he lands in the same slot added fun to the game. This game was never ending and it went on for more than an hour. Next game was throwing the dice and excluding the player who has minimum number on the dice. After most of them went back by 2am, my friend and I decided to do some networking, surfing and playing 'Spider Solitaire' on Computer and didn’t realize that it was 6am and it was time to sleep. We all were kids during this night, screaming and shouting like younger children, pinning for the prize and during that moment, we forgot that we are living in the competitive and dangerous world where security is lax. Just one month ago, we were glued to the TV, watching the terror, that had capsized my city of Mumbai.
Monday, 5 January 2009
Babaji came to my town this week-end and I am reminded of those days when the satsang used to take place in Bandra and my whole lane, of 36th road, used to be filled with satsangis who would come from different parts of the world to attend the satsang and there would be so much cheer in my town. I was too young to understand the significance of Hazur Maharaji’s visit to my town but there used to be lot of excitement in my house. For me it was like Hazur Maharaji has come to Bombay and there will be Langar in my lane and I will enjoy the meals and drinks that can be purchased with coupons. The meals had special flavor and were enjoyed by non-satsangis as well. There would be many families in my lane who would not cook during the whole week. There were many guests in my house too, who would talk about the satsangs and about Hazur Maharaji’s life styles, which was normally after attending the discourse. They would meet with family and friends in my house and discuss the teachings and I would listen to them, not understanding a word. My family and my guests talked about meditating on Naam, about abstaining from meat and about adopting a simple and pure life style. Over the years, the venue for Satsang has changed. It now takes more than an hour (depending on traffic) to reach Bayander and listen to the satsang and get a glimpse of Babaji. Although the sangat has multiplied ten fold, the message has not changed over the years Babaji had same message to convey that Hazur Maharaji had repeated for forty years. Babaji preached the significance of Naam and our ignorance on understanding the true path of reaching God, and that path resides within us. And Babaji conveyed the same message, once more, this week-end. He began his satsang by saying: “Which spiritual route can be taken so that we are able to accomplish our goal of reaching God?” He stressed the importance of meditating on ‘Naam’ which is the true path and not to get discouraged easily. Every deed is recorded and according to the law of karma, we come back to this world again and again and built up more Karma and getting entangled in this vicious circle of birth and death. To be released from this cycle, we have to find the right path of truth. Our thoughts are scattered in the external world. By collecting all our scattered thoughts from nine apertures of our body and converging it to the eye centre, concentrating on ‘Naam’ we are able to connect the ‘Word’ with the ‘Sound’ which is within us and get the strength in liberating our self from this cycle of birth and death. ‘Naam’ is strength which is inside us and without which we cannot be alive, without ‘Naam’ there is no life. Shabd is the strength which has made the creation and without shabd everything is scattered. If we look outside in the world, we will never find it, the strength is inside. Although externally, it is known by many words, we cannot understand its strength unless we experience it our self. It is not connected to any one particular religion because it ihas stretched over centuries; it is this strength which is the basis of creation. Gurus and spiritual guides are just physical human being who show us the path and help us to recognize and connect the ‘Word’ with the ‘Light’ and ‘Sound’ which is within us. They are not Gods. We cannot get salvation by touching their feet or their clothes. To get salvation, we have to understand their message, absorb it and work hard on meditation to find its’ strength inside us. He cited the example of a child who is admitted in school. The child cannot pass his exam merely by touching his teachers’ feet and bowing down, he has to listen to what his teachers has taught him, understand it well and absorb it. He cited another example of a chef, who cannot fill his stomach by merely reading the cook books. Understanding and absorbing the method and then actually cooking it and eating the food will fill his stomach eventually. Similarly, we have to concentrate on the message of God. If there is no improvement in your behavior; if you cannot absorb the message and make your own life meaningful then, it is of no use of attending endless satsangs. The true value of satsang is maintained only when you understand the real purpose of attending it. Therefore it is important to understand the true meaning of ‘Naam’ which is the strength within us, a life supporting system, without which, our life is useless. We are so engrossed in ‘me’ and ‘Myself’ that we lose contact with the real thing and forget to concentrate on ‘Naam’ to reach the supreme goal. If you have true love for your Guru, then you should understand and follow his true message. He ended with a shabd that said, “Naam ki ghat Niyari….Gur prasadi karm karo….Bin satguru, Naam nahi jagge…. Radha Soami
I have poor memory therefore I tend to forget the good and the bad times easily. What is past is forgotten, each day I try my best that my ...