Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Festivities Continue ......

Today is the 6th day of Navarathri - (Shasti)  and marks the beginning of Durga Puja in Bengal. Ma Durga comes home with her children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh, and Karthik and is worshipped over five days - Ashtami or the 8th day being the most important day. Bengal comes alive with beatiful Pandals and skillfully carved idols of Ma Durga and family. There are Pandal and idol competitions across the state and the creativity of people is at its peak. The Pandals are based on various themes and people take the time out to actually go Pandal hopping and appreciate the creativity. Kolkata especially wears a festive look and all the sorrow and unhappiness just melt away with the onset of "Pujo". Being brought up in Kolkata, I just cannot help myself travelling down memory lane and how we used to simply enjoy Pandal hopping. Mom would maintain the tradition of Golu at home and would ensure that all friends visited us during the first 5-6 days so that we could go visiting pandals during the pujas. Saptami would be the day we would visit Pandals in and around our own area - there would be so many and this outing would be purely with friends. We would walk and walk and walk endlessly just enjoying the colour and lighting. Come Ashtami and dad would get busy planning our route map to visit the pandals across North Kolkata. These areas were supposed to have some of the best lighting and pandal decorations. We would have an early lunch and set off by public transport to the first Pandal at Mohammed Ali Park in Central Kolkata. These guys were famous at constructing exact replicas of famous monuments across the world. From there we would cover all the major areas one by one either by bus or by foot and would reach home late at night. Come Navami, after completing Saraswati puja at home, it would be time to cover the areas across South Kolkata and our journey would start from Deshapriya Park.
Here are some pictures of Puja Pandals borrowed from a friend's album:

No one could believe that these are just makeshift constructions made of Bamboo, Cloth and other materials. Wonder why this talent is not getting recognized anywhere else. Dashami day would be a day to relax at home, go out with friends and get blessed by elders all over. We would actually go from house to house and touch the feet of elders to get their blessings. Of course along with the blessings would come lots of sweets and goodies. Dashami would be the day Ma Durga would be sent home. The ladies would indulge in "Sindhur Khela" or the play of vermillion - they would send the Mother off with Kumkum on her forehead and sweet in her mouth and they would apply Kumkum on other married women's foreheads as well. It would be such a beautiful site. Of course at home Dashami would mark the end of Golu and the "Marapachi Bommai" or the wooden dolls would be put to sleep. We would go to bed with a heavy heart as the festivals were coming to an end and it was time to get back to work and school. Anyways, looking on the brighter side, there are still 4 more days to go and I have decided to enjoy myself to the hilt. Some pictures of Ma Durga.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Festive Season

Navarathri is here and marks the beginning of the festive season in India and here I am back to blogging almost after 5 long months of taking a sabbatical. At one point of time I thought that I had lost that creative urge in me but thanks to the wonderful friends' circle I have. They have kept me in touch with my writing by inspiring me to write the numerous "thoughts" that I post on Facebook. So what better time to start writing than this wonderful festive season.
India is a land of many cultures and traditions, however most of the festivals across the country happen to be celebrated around the same time. Though in South the festivals begin in the month of "Aadi" or "Ashad" as per the Indian calendar (which begins in and around July 15th) , the real tempo sets in with the onset of Navarathri. The houses and temples wear a festive look and it is time for people to get together visit each other's house, wear bright clothes, and eat special food. People tend to forget all their problems and enjoy every bit of the season.
Navarathri or /Durga Puja is actually a celebration of Womanhood in it's highest form. People across India worship the female energy "Shakthi" to be bestowed with courage, wealth, and knowledge to overcome the challenges they face in life. Proud to be a Woman. And it is that time of the year when people actually realize the worth of a girl child. In the north they perform "Kumari Puja" where young girls who haven't attained puberty are actually considered the embodiments of the goddess and are worshipped. In the South, the little girls are given special treatment in every house they visit and are given lots of goodies by the elders. Beats me as to why in a country where girls who are worshipped during a particular season are considered a curse every other time? Is it because Man wants to meet his selfish ends all the time?? Well that is some serious thought process which could go on and on.
Coming back to celebrating Navarathri, many of us South Indians follow the tradition of decorating dolls in our houses. We call the decoration "Golu." The significance of Golu as I have heard it from my Mom is as follows:It is a time to remember that all forms of life co-exist on earth in harmony and we need to maintain the equilibrium, and also show our gratitude to different people whom we come across in our day to day transactions. We also need to thank God for His creation and for giving us this beautiful life. Here are some more explanations of the significance of Golu:
a. The dolls depict Gods and Goddesses praying for Parvati Devi when she was doing penance for betraying Lord Shiva by attending the Daksha Yagna.
b. The dolls represent the assembly of Durga Devi who killed the demon Mahishasura on Vijayadashami day.
One more signifance is that this festival gives an opportunity for musicians, craftsmen and other artists to express their creativity.Whatever be the reason I have always been convinced with the way Mom explained it to us. Here is a picture of my Golu:

To me this festival has always been a way to express my gratitude for whatever I have received in life. Though I don't really find the time to create a very elaborate display of dolls as many people do, I love to give vent to my creativity in the lmited time and space that I have. I arrange the dolls in a particular symmetry that reminds us that life should be a perfect balance. I really love showing off my display to my friends and relations because I want the happiness and joy to spread around. This is also a time to meet up with people. Today is the third day of Navarathri and I have received lots of guests already. I am looking forward to having a great time in the coming days and enjoying myself.
I have also promised myself that I will blog regularly. Let me see if I can keep up this resolution. :) CIAO friends and wish you all a Very Happy Festive Season.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Reunion

It all began a few months back when a couple of us from ST. Thomas's Girls' School connected with each other over facebook. We found that a site was created for our own school and hundreds of students from across the globe were trying to connect with each other and walk down memory lane. Talks of having a gala alumni meet at the school premises began and everyone was so excited.
Then one of the juniors suddenly had a brainwave to have a reunion with the teachers and then one by one people started seconding and thirding the idea. Initially it was to be a reunion of only the 1992 pass outs, but people like me who were so eager to meet the teachers as well, wanted to join. So the invitation was extended to anyone who was interested.
Then began the planning session which was a mammoth task undertaken by four girls - Anamika, Smitha, Sarada, and Moutusi. The girls went all out to get the contact details of the teachers, the students who registered to attend the function, send out invites to the teachers, organize the venue for the meetup and what not. The momento was kept up by constant SMS messages to the participants, and continuous posts on Facebook so that no one would miss the event . I had decided that come what may, I would be there for the event on 1st May, and as they say, if you really want something badly the universe conspires to give it to you. My universe conspired to give me a lean period at work and an easy fund flow to book the tickets for the event and fly down to good old Kolkata. :)
I am the kind who gets excited even with the smallest of events in life, and this event was a big one for me. Imgaine meeting all your teachers after 22 years - and the best part is many of them are still around. :)
I bragged and bragged about the event at my work place and at one point of time all my colleagues were more excited about the event than me. :) So 30th April dawned and I took my flight to Kolkata the city of joy, the city where I grew up and spent the most precious years of my life. I couldn't hold myself till 1st May and could hardly sleep that night. Come 1st May, I was up and about and ensured that I reached the venue on time. I was given a warm welcome by the girls and was very touched. Then the moment arrived -- the teachers started trickling in one by one and my my they looked just the same as we had left them years ago.
Each of them could recongnize our faces and remember our names and also remember us for what we were like in school. That part totally amazed me. We never realize their committment and dedication to us till we actually part from them and meet them again. I felt that I was with 25 loving moms at the same time and was being flooded with their affection.
The best part of the function was that my favourite teachers were present - my 4th Standard teacher, my physics teacher in high school, and my bio/chemistry teacher in high school. They hugged me and felt so proud of my achievements in life. Then came the biggest surprise guest of the event - our dear principal. She was one whom we used to dread in our school life, but she turned out to be the most loving of them all. She touched our hearts with her speech and made us realize that we were actually nurtured by so many mothers in our formative years. The whole afternoon went by catching up with the teachers and the girls and the best part was that one of my classmates with whom we all had lost contact - turned up for the event. I was overwhelmed. The teachers never wanted to leave and neither did we. But, all good things must come to and end and the teachers bade us goodbye until next year. Then it was the turn of the girls to let themselves loose - dancing, singing, chatting and of course not missing me downloading the photos and making copies of CDs fot the girls. Finally the people at the venue came and literally drove us out. It was an eventful day with lots of good memories and happy moments for us to cherish.
For me the reunion was not over, because through the course of the week I had promised to meet many of my classmates who could not make it for the event. More about it in my next blog. :) Thanks to the reunion, I resumed my blogging again.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Women's Empowerment. Are we really there??

The Women's reservation bill finally got passed in the parliament amidst a lot of hue and cry, and above all resistance from the men folk. I felt thrilled and empowered that day and really wanted to celebrate. But, come to think of it, are the women really empowered in India? A country which boasted of a woman prime-minister and now flaunting its only woman president, and the men folk in the parliament create so much of hullabaloo about a bill which reserves 33 % of the seats in parliament. Isn't this sheer hypocrisy? Are we not cheating ourselves. And surprisingly the same man who made his wife sit in the post of a chief minister for a full term was the center of this ruckus. Shameful.
Today we happen to have a festival in Tamil Nadu, where the wives pray for their husband's long life and it is said that Savitri brought back Satyavan from the jaws of death by doing sheer penance on this particular day. Something akin to "Karva Chauth" and "Teej" in the north. Fantastic people.!!! Wives have to sit and pray for husbands but why not the other way round? If a man is being taken away by the God of death, the woman has to do severe penance to bring him back to life. Why not the other way round? Why don't we have a day where the husband's fast for their wives or why doesn't our mythology contain stories where a husband brought back his wife from the jaws of death? So where does the true power actually lie? It definitely lies with women and we are the ones who have empowered them. As I write this blog, I feel I am one of the biggest hypocrites. Ask me why? Well I too did the pooja because I am bound by tradition. Maybe my thoughts are rebellious - but I don't seem to have the guts to oppose the practice hands down.
This is what is happening to millions of women in India. We are being conditioned since childhood to behave in a certain way and we finally become that. Those of us who are able to oppose the practices openly are called rebels and are branded as "evil". How funny. :)
Coming back to women's reservation in the parliament -- are the women in this country really going to wake up and take this opportunity to go ahead and stand for elections? I really don't know. Have been sincerely hoping that we do not have those puppets like the former chief minister of Bihar, or the like of Mayawathi who have given a completely third dimension to the dirty polictics of this land. Actually I was commenting to someone that hope we have more of Sushma Swarajs or Vasundhara Rajes or Indira Gandhis - when someone commented why not more of you? I really don't mind becoming a member of parliament provided the system allows me to and I get enough votes.
However, I am still going ahead and celebrating the passing of the bill. Anyone is welcome to join me. :) So long folks till my next blog.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Of Awards and Recognitions......

Success, Failure, Power, Recognition, Fame, Money - these are some of the common words that we tend to limit our life to as we grow older and older. When we are children none of these words seem to exist for us. We live life to our fullest, do what we please and are happy with the smallest of joys. Then some incident happens in our life that kind of seals our fate and then on life becomes a never-ending race. School life is a race to excel in studies and get good marks - and as per Indian education system the upper limit of good marks is 100 %. People would be happy if it could be 110 or 120 % also.Then comes professional life and here it is a race for fame and recognition. All of us run behind this one question : "What is it that will make me the favourite of the management?". Everyone wants fame, recognition, and power. If a fellow colleague is complemented for a job well done then all the gossip windows open up. It goes like this : "He/She must be partying with the boss" or "He/She must be a close friend of the boss that is why.... blah blah blah" and it continues. I read somewhere that "Success is just a matter of luck, just ask any failure." --- and its so true.

How many of us really look into ourselves and ask these questions: "What is lacking in me?" "Where have I failed where this person succeeded"? "What can I do to improve myself?" Success and failure are nothing but two sides of the same coin. If we put in our 100% in anything we do, we succeed, and if we don't we fail. It is as simple as that. So it is all within us. Hardwork and committment are two words that seem to have completely vanished from our dictionaries. We have to generate ourselves every single day and put in 100% of ourselves in everything we do - be it cooking, having a bath, going to work, and sitting in office to start our work day. It is difficult task indeed but it works wonders if we really manage to do it.

I was recently given an award at my work place for a work in which I least expected any recognition - let alone getting a "Director's Award" which is like an 'Oscar' in our oprganization. When I looked back, I realized one thing - I had put in my 100% in that piece and as a result not only helped myself but helped my team in my own small way. I never bothered or cared for the result. But there it was- when my name was announced along with the other team members, it came as a complete surprise package to me. I was thrilled to be recognized by someone outside of my team and my management. Amazing indeed. The secret was application of the lessons taught in the Gita. Do your best and don't bother about the result. 99 out of 100 times the result is really sweet. And I get this recognition after 14 years of hardwork and committment and constantly regenerating myself every single day. And just as they would say in the Oscars -- I owe this award to you Mom and Dad for making me the way I am :), you my dear hubby for constantly being my guiding light, and you my dearest mom-in-law for giving me all the support possible on this earth to give my 100% to everything I do.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Walking down the memory lane!!

Ah! Nostalgia - It is such a wonderful feeling. I was lazily browsing the net and as usual logged into Facebook to play my favourite game "Farmville" when I saw this friend request from a very familiar name. The name was that of one of my classmates and the moment I connected with her it was a "Blast from the Past". I connected to many many more friends through her and we all became extremely nostalgic about our school days and about all our teachers. All of us could recognize each other very well -- which means the names and faces were all etched so well somewhere deep down in our cerebrums - and with a slight stimulus the memories came gushing forth. Speaking of the good old days, our naughty escapades from the teachers and giving the teachers a hard time in class have been the hot topics of all our discussions. The best part is that we have all opened up so well to each other - not holding back anything about our lives in the years that transpired in between. The foundation for true friendship probably lies in our childhood and our school days.
Speaking of old times, I was watching the idiot box and switching channels as nothing seemed to ignite my interests. I was reminded of the Doordarshan days. The very first soap opera was "Hum Log" -- the concept of a serial came into being and it was such a wonder to watch - a far cry from the "Saas-Bahu" tear jerkers of modern times. It was so middle class and we could relate so well to each character that appeared. Then there was Chitrahaar. The only filmy program that used to be aired every Wednesday for half an hour. But we used wait anxiously for the songs and even though some were old, it was fine with us.
Moving on to the late night films that used to be aired every Friday -- every movie was a classic and we learnt to follow the sub titles so well. Another of my Friday favourites was "World This Week". I was a die-hard fan of Prannoy Roy and come hell or high water would ensure that I watch the program. These days the news channels air only controversies - a mere show of "masala" and gossip. Everything goes by TRP. The only reality shows then were the quiz programs by Siddharth Basu and probably a musical program. How I wish those days would come back again. Does anyone remember the Bodyline Series, Great Expectations, Sherlock Holmes and some of the classics from BBC? I would say that my hold over "Queen's English" came only because dad insisted that I watch and follow these serials. Today the "Idiot Box" truly lives up to it's name. Barring a few educational programs there is nothing that it has to offer the younger generation. Looking back, I feel really proud to have had "little" but yet "too much" -- little of so called luxuries, but lots of childhood memories to cherish for the rest of my life. Ah! Nostalgia -- Indeed a beautiful feeling. :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

67 and still going strong....

Wondering who this is folks? Well he is the most sought after person in India, a brand in himself, an idol, an icon --- words cannot describe him. He is none other than our dear Mr. Bachchan (senior). Well I am not a die hard fan of Mr.B - but over the years I have begun to admire the man for what he has created for himself. At 67 he still gives the young heros a run for their money - just look at the series of hits he has been giving - Paa, Rann, and now Teen Patti. The other day I was hearing someone say that when Mr. B is on the screen everyone else seems so insignificant - and it's so true. He has the golden touch - every movie he acts in is a hit. Every movie brings out a new facet of this man. I have read that he is always on the sets on time and is extremely nice to his colleagues.
The other day we had a theatre workshop in office and I wanted to go join it. I was telling everyone -- you never know there could be a hidden actor in me who can now come out into the open and then probably I could get a role opposite Mr. B himself. Everyone laughed at the idea because till recently, I was a diehard fan of the "Badshaah" of Bollywood - till the fiasco over his movie MNIK happened. When the country has more important things to think about, a section of the society went ga-ga over the release of the movie and it was being discussed in every media channel. I personally felt that this was a hype created so that people would go and watch the movie. The movie received raving reviews - but my regard for SRK crashed to the ground. I still feel that all those comments and all the "hoo-ha" with Shiv Sena was just staged so that the movie could get the needed focus.
Focussing back on Mr. B - I do not remember him campaigning for any movie of his, yet its a superhit. Is it because of the man or his talent? I would say both. He has grown to such a stature that any fellow human being would just look up to him. What a personality!!! He is truly truly the emperor of Bollywood. "Jahanpanah! Tussi Great HO!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lessons from Nonagenerian!!

It is not often that we get to see nonagenerians in this day and age. Considering the kind of life styles we lead and the kind of food we eat, if our life expectancy goes beyond 60 years, its a real wonder. Well I have the privilege of living with a Nonagenerian - a 98 year old young lady. :) She is my better half's maternal grandmother and has been living with us over a year now. She would be just about 4 feet in height but as agile as ever even at this age. She is extremely meticulous about her daily routines and very particular about time. Her only disabilities perhaps are that she cannot see clearly and cannot hear properly - but everything else about her is intact - including her memory. She still remembers what she did when she was 12 or 13 which amazes all of us. The secret of her good health is that in all of her 98 years she has never eaten anything other than home cooked food. She keeps herself and her belongings spotlessly clean and if she can't do it, she ensures that we do it for. She fell sick recently and it was a real bad bout of allergic bronchitis. Despite her frail structure, she managed to pull through the illness with an ease which many of us would not even think of. She just had to be hospitalized for a day and the doctor was amazed at her spirit to fight back the illness. She bounced back to her normal self in just a week's time which indeed had us spellbound. She ensured that she was cleaned everyday and even co-operated by putting on diapers knowing that nature's calls were beyond her control. How many of us would really do that ? I learnt a great lesson in compassion while nursing her and of course learnt that we need to look after ourselves to perfection so we don't cause any discomfort whatsoever to people on whom we are dependent on.
She lives by the clock, but is never ready to give up her fight. She is very clear that she would want to leave this world in a clean and healthy manner. May the Almighty grant her this wish. :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I finally started blogging!!!

Blogs!! blogs!!blogs!! - been hearing about this for years now and also following and reading many of the interesting blogs. I always used to wonder - what value addition would blogs have to my life. But then what the heck all those musings have actually made me start blogging - finally!! as many of my well wishers would comment. And when did it all start??? Well I have been suddenly latched onto facebook for the past 3 months and connected with lots and lots of friends from all over. I keep posting my stray thoughts as my status and saw that it received so many comments. I was suddenly in the limelight and then many of them said - Sanguine - it's high time you start blogging. So here I am - writing my first post. I know I am going to give vent to all my creativity here and going to enjoy what I am most passionate about - writing. :) So here's to lots of writing and lots of networking. Welcome me to your world folks. I have finally come of age. :)