Saturday, September 5, 2015

Happy Krishna Jayanthi !!

Today is the Birthday of Lord Krishna, and it is celebrated all over India. People start preparing sweets and savories, which are supposed to be loved by Lord Krishna, buying fruits and flowers,  putting Rangoli all over the house welcoming the Lord into their homes.
Our Hindu religion has so many Gods and Goddesses, that every other day is some God's birthday. Indian are always in celebrating mood, perhaps by doing so , they are able to forget their everyday tensions.
Lord Krishna has always been portrayed as being in deep blue color. There  is some significance for being so, if you are interested you can google it and find for yourself. As usual, I was totally unaware of that,  for I only vaguely knew that very soon there is going to be celebration of  Lord Ganesha's Birthday.  Anyway I went about my work, and didn't give much thought to it.
Then our maid came, I thought okay she might like to celebrate Krishna's Birthday, so I told her her to put some typical rangoli which is put on His birthday. As children living wth our parents we used to enjoy putting these kind of Rangoli, and eating all the things made for Krishna's Birthday. We would wait impatiently for the evening to come, for his Birthday is celebrated only in the evenings. Once the Puja is done we would all gobble all the goodies prepared by our mom.
Those were the days when one blindly believed whatever everybody  believed, for we were too young to think. As we grew older, and wiser, we started seeing no meaning in all these endless celebration of Birthdays of various Gods and Goddesses. 
Coming back to the present, I taught my maid how to make some simple rangoli and this is what she did. It looks very simple yet very good. Here is a short story of Krishna's arrival at our home:
Krishna enters our house with his tiny feet, tup, tup tup... enters our kitchen where we have a little Puja space.

He is thrilled to see himself surrounded by the Gopikas, all waiting to welcome him. He starts to swing merrily playing his flute.

The Cow YAWNS........

All of a sudden Krishna's nostrils are hit by an unusual aroma, his nose starts tickling, he stops playing his flute, and jumps up to see some yummy Chinese food right under his nose...

                Fried Rice, Sweet and Sour vegetables and Cauliflower Manchurian

He says to himself, "am I in the wrong house", when he heard the woman of the house say,"no, no, everything is fine, we thought you might like a change and made Chinese for you".

Krishna was absolutely thrilled, and shouting, "Holy Cow! (waking up the startled cow) thank you, for I am really tired of eating the same Seedais, Pohas, Murukkus etc., in every house, I visit..."

After polishing every bit of the offering, he smiled cheekily and said " Gods too need a change"

Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “If you offer Me with love a leaf, flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. But please, please don't offer me the same things again and again. Have mercy!, he pleaded"

So offer whatever you can—it’s your love and devotion that matters! 
So here I am, feeling happy to have made both Mary and the ever Blue Krishna happy in my own small way.

Did you like my story of Lord Krishna?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Let the Blessings Of Goddess Sri Varalakshmi Flow Abundantly To Everyone!!

(I had bought this beautiful mask  of Sri Varalakshmi from Malleswarm (Bangalore) where one can get beautiful varieties  of this Goddess decorated in the most beautiful way one can imagine.)

Today all over South India, many Hindus would be praying to the Goddess Sri Varamahalakshmi, for good health, prosperity and happiness in the family.
(Before we didn't have this mask so  Mary was using the same Goddess made in dark wood, which has been with us for many years. I had bought it in Thirupati. So this year, she decorated both the goddesses and did the puja.)

We are not religious and we don't celebrate any of the festivals. However, for the last 14 years or so we have a maid who likes to celebrate both Hindu and Christian festivals.
Her name is Mary, and she is very sincere and devoted  and loves to pray to both Hindu and Christian Gods. She is married to a Hindu, and her husband never objects to her visiting Churches. She seems to know all the rituals associated with the Hindu pujas.
She would  herself bring flowers etc. during any festival season, light the lamps, draw beautiful Rangolis all over our house. We never objected to any of this as we felt she was happy. So from Diwali,  Navaratri, pongal and so on she would celebrate each and every festival in her own simple and quiet  way. She somehow  likes us and our house so much, that she almost thinks of us as her extended family and the house as her "Big House ".
  We are really lucky to have her working for us, and we too treat her as one among us.
Mary would get so excited when some festival comes, like Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali.
She also knows, that although we don't really believe in doing all these things, yet she also knows that we will not object to her doing it in our house. 

I am sure whatever, she is always blessed by all the various Gods of both Hindu and Christian faith.
Come Christmas, she would buy Christmas cake and some Kala kal and bring it for us. She has to  go to church every friday after her work here. She would also wear the orange saree and go for the Novino near her house.
She doesn't live with us and has her own home and family.
Mary  is very efficient in all the work she does, and the beauty is she does it with love and commitment, wthout anything being said by us.
So today I show you her handiwork in our house:
 (Can you see two dolls dressed as as a newly wedded couple? 
I also bought this pair of newly wedded wooden dolls, in Malleswaram ( these dolls ar made in dark wood, and they are very special, they are called Marai Patcthi  Bomais. I also kept them here for they signify happy married life, and basicallly women pray for that during this Varalakshmi Puja.)
Our two doggies were also very excited  and they were supervising everything done by Mary, wagging their tails, and very sweetly got their bindis put on their foreheadand happily ate one small Banana each as Prasad..


Let The Blessings of Varalakshmi Flow Abundantly To All!!!                     

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.

As I switched on the TV to a movie channel, I saw the movie Marley and Me being shown there. I have seen this movie many times and never get tired of watching again again. it is the same with another beautiful dog movie called Hatchiko.
Both these movies start with usual antics of a puppy, and then goes on to document each and every stage of their growing up, their naughty behaviour, there unconditional love for the owners, who sometimes get totally frustrated with their respective dog. In both the movies it is the women who get very irritated with the  unmanageable traits of curious, and destructive traits of the dog
As I watched these movies again and again, I relived my days with our two dogs that came into our lives and did all the things that drove me to the brink of despair.
I would often yell at the, dog/ puppy and then within seconds, would find my heart melting when she looked at me innocently with her lovely eyes, saying,"mommy what did I do wrong", jumping as soon a she saw me melting, lickng my face happpily, and pissing on my lap with excitement.
I would feel so bad, I would hug her cuddle her and, everything would be fine till something terrible happens again.
At some point we realise that bringing up a pup is not so easy, it is just like bringing up a baby. For it will act like a baby, and for the puppy you are everything rolled into into one: a mother she/ or he can trust, a friend with whom she/ he  can roll and play, and a person who can be quite strict sometimes, but who will also forgive and love him/her all over again.
Like with kids, mommy is the strict one and Papa is the one who is more lenient.
Do they love one more than the  other, the answer  is definitely no, for a puppy/dog, love flows unconditionally to both the care givers. 
When any of them fall sick both mom and dad are worried, more the moms than the dads. All the pampering would be done by the moms.
As they grow older, we come to realise they have  become very matured and well behaved. It is always a pleasure to have dogs at home. You can pour out all sorrows to them, and they would listen to you patiently, licking you, comforting you, without understanding a word. When you are happy and share some good news with them also they are very excited and happy for you, wagging their tales endlessly to show how happy they are for you.
Such is the love of a dog for their care giver. They trust you with all their heart, they live with you without any fear, they know that you are there for them when they need you.That is why when they sleep they  sleep happily with no worry in this world.
Even with street dogs, they don't have any expectation from you, they are happy to have anything you give them to eat, and would be sitting outside your gate gaurding your house. Such is the loyalty of dogs.
How I wish we could be like them.
I clearly remember how each of our previous dogs died, how they struggled silently without a moan. How they patiently visited the doctor's clinic in almost a dazed state, till they were hospitalised and were released dead. Somehow as soon as they are admitted to the hospital, they give up and they rarely come back home alive.
Mostly hospitals means bad omen for them, for they are not meant for the hospitals, they are meant to stay home with the people whom they love the most.
 Everytime a dog dies a hefty part of our heart dies with them, and can never be forgotten. We may foget our near and dear ones after they leave this world , but never our dogs, for they are always with us forever.
When we see Hatchiko and Marley die, they don't look like some dogs acting their part, they touch us in some very deep way.
Have you ever wondered how each dog at that particular stage acts its part so brilliantly, when actually they are different dogs of the same breed?
The first three pictures are of our first labrador : Cookie.
Unfortunately we don't have many pictures of her. She only lived for about 3 and half years.


These are pictures of the other dog: Toffee. Toffee lived with us for about 7 years, before she died of cancer.
 Toffee when she was a cute pup

Now we have two Labs. and they are Bumbilli and Loki:
Bumbilli is the fair and lovely one, and Loki is dark and handsome one.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Beautiful Sunset At The Grand Canyon: Some Photographs

                    This photo was taken in the afternoon, and it has come out quite well!

I have often heard that Landscape photography is a rather "slow" type of photography.
However it is strange this kind of photography contradicts itself, for it also means better hurry up and also wait.
For example when we set out to take a large panorama like the Grand Canyon, we know that the subject is not going anywhere, and we have all the time in the world to set up our camera, after finding the right angles and position ourselves and simply wait patiently. Our subject does not change here, but the light conditions change constantly throwing up beautiful hues of colors, and we have to hurry to catch them in our camera.

 So this is the so called,"Contradiction", where we also have to wait patiently and also hurry up simultaneously all at that very precise moment.
It can be fun doing this, especially in a place like Grand Canyon that too during sunrise and sunset.
We should not let our mind waver, seeing other people placed in other points and try to change positions often, that would totally ruin the whole purpose. Grand Canyon would look beautiful from any point it is so vast and beautiful and we can never go wrong, if we know what we are doing.

We must know that taking pictures in mid afternoon is a bad choice for light is going to be too harsh, and everything would look flat and lifeless, especially in a place like Grand Canyon. 

                                            These pictures were taken in the afternoon

Though we did take pictures of it in the afternoon too, for we were not sure whether we would come back to take pictures during the sunset. The pictures were OK, nothing great. The perfect time for such landscape photography, as we all know is only sunrise and sunset, as the atmosphere is cooler at this time, and it also brings a hue of colors playing around. Anything like the ocean, the mountains and the canyons, and other similar landscapes looks absolutely stunning in these times. The play of different colors changing every second  is by itself very fascinating to observe.

                        Dark clouds all of sudden: it even drizzled a bit and then there was sun
                                                  Click on the pictures to enlarge

Taking a photograph with the Rainbow behind is a bad idea, but I wanted it like that only, so both the rainbow and myself have not come out well.

All the pictures have been taken by my husband. He used to be a very good photographer once upon a time, however, after getting married to me, and my constant nagging to take photographs of me all the time has made him lose interest in photography. 
Now a days I keep practicing taking pictures  with the Nikon digital camera, (bought by him for me) I even take 'selfies'with that big camera. What to do when husband refuses, wife has to do it by herself only!

And also remember to carry your Tripod with you to get the best pictures. Now while travelling to many places it might be a little cumbersome to carry one, like we didn't carry it with us during our trip to the US, we just did the best we could without it. However, if your aim is to capture something in a professional way, and you would be travelling for that purpose only then, I am sure you would not leave without your Tripod.

Okay, photography is huge subject, and needs constant practice, everybody from professionals to amateurs click hundreds of pictures, and then select just a few good ones. Like everything it has some rules to be followed, but don't let rules stop you from taking a picture, which might turn out to be a masterpiece. With the coming of digital cameras it is no longer a big deal to take as many pictures as we want, and to keep on deleting the bad ones. Persistence is the name of the game.

Happy Clicking!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shape Aerobics Fitness Center

Shape Aerobics Fitness Center, Whitefield, Bangalore India.

A simple yet effective program that improves flexibility, mobility, posture, sleep, digestion, and overall health. From the first time itself, you'll see and feel the difference!
It is a combination of easy, yet effective cardiovascular routines interlaced with weights, and resistance work: a combination that ups your stamina and gets your body moving.
A few of my regular students who were game for posing for photographs, (others are still sleeping in their homes).

Being very hot these days in Bangalore, we thought it would be fun doing the body conditioning exercises on the lawn, and the driveway, therby enjoying the pleasant early morning breeze.

                                                              They look so happy!

                                    Concentration: the key to body conditioning exercises

The last 3 pictures are with my former students, who are now scattered in various places, not to be seen or heard. However, they too were very good students.

Happy Line Dancing Pose

                                                      Boxing their way to fitness!!

I just love my aerobics classes. I am very passionate about exercising, and it doesn't bother me even when I have no student to teach also, for nothing can stop me from exercising. I have been doing it for more than 20 years.

Friday, May 15, 2015

94 Years Old: Happy Birthday Dear Father!!!!

On this special day (15th May),  I want to share a story about my dad......
This part is a re- post.
 A  wedding in the family— I am excited for I hear my dad is coming to attend it. He is staying with me for a whole week— I can't believe it!

                            This was some 6 years back When he had come to attend the wedding

 The minute he enters the house he starts chatting with us non- stop….. for there are so many things to ask , so many things to share etc. etc. He is a real store – house of knowledge …. we have to just ask him something, and he would give a detailed explanation, amazing us with his intelligence, sharp memory, and great sense of humour. He would go back to his younger days and relate all the stories of how he met and married my mother.

Those days marriage was not a matter of choice …. it involved marrying for various reasons. Marrying within the family was considered to be best option for everybody. For example if your father’s sister had 5 or 6 daughters to be married it is the duty of the father to bring home at least one of his sister’s daughter as his daughter- in- law, this way he was helping in reducing the burden from his sister’s shoulders. Similarly an uncle could marry his own niece.
 This was the custom followed for ages all over south, though now it is not so much in vogue, but still some people follow it . As long as it is not direct blood relation everything is okay. One can’t even think of such things these days.

Well my father married his mother’s brother’s daughter, (which is my mother). According to him he was given the choice of marrying any 1 of the 2 daughters, who were suitable for his age. But he was in a dilemma, for both were good looking, and it was up to him to choose. So he changed the names of the girls in their horoscopes and also  changed his name in his horoscope, (because everybody knew everybody, the astrologer would not even bother to match horoscopes when it is in the family), so my father cheated a little and made him match the horoscope saying it was for a friend. Of the two only one matched, which happened to be my mother’s horoscope, and thus the choice was made. Another distant cousin married the elder daughter, in fact both my father and his cousin married the respective girls on the same day to save money. That was the way things were done in those days , one had to keep everything in the mind.

 But, although my parents remained happily married for 49 years, they were the sort of couple who could never see eye to eye on any issue, and since my father had the dominating streak, what he said only prevailed. My mother although loved him deeply, she hated this attitude. He had jokingly revealed to her, how he made the choice of marrying her, and whenever my mother happened to meet that astrologer, she would tell him that she felt like tying him to pole and give him 100 whip lashes.

 My parents life was full of ups and downs. Whenever my parents did get along, my mother would ask my father, to tell her the truth ….. that he married her because he fell for her , and he would always tell her it was not love. Now he is all alone, and he feels bad that he never told her how much he loved her.  He said he could have told her that at least once, but he was too proud to admit that to her.

But I am sure she must have guessed it long time ago, but simply wanted to know right from the horse’s mouth.  Now he feels her loss so much, that he would keep going back to the days when they were really happy, and he says they were made for each other despite their differences, that  the universe works in mysterious ways, though he thought at that time he could choose between the 2 sisters, and tried to hoodwink the astrologer, he must have known deep in his heart that it was my mother he always wanted to marry.

 This, coming from my father, now when my mother is no longer here to feel happy to hear it, was really moving.  However this is not the first time I am hearing him say this, for I have heard this story many times from him, but only after my mother passed away, which was  almost 19 years ago.

 Well, this is just one interesting story about my father and mother, there are many, many more, but it would take volumes to write about each every interesting facets of their turbulent lives together.

Accidents and my father are made for each other, but he would never let such incidents bother him. He would pick himself up from the scene of accident, and bleeding all over, he would be back home in the same moped. Being a Pharmacy graduate he would know what medicines to apply and within 2/3 days he would be back to normal with not even a single mark or scar to show how badly he was hurt.

Even recently about 15 days back he was hit by  somebody while he was travelling in his moped, left there to deal with it  all by himself, and as usual he was back on his feet and  came home riding the moped with lot of pain everywhere in his body, saying as usual his time is not all right: that he must have troubled the fellow who hit him and went off,  in some previous birth, and that it is all part of the game.......

Surprisingly not a single person has ever helped him during such accidents. Somehow God has given him the strength to pull himself up and keep moving without looking back.

Now about the present:

 For the last 1 year or so he has been suffering from Dementia, and recently he went out on his own and got lost.
Last year he was a victim of a hit and run case. While he was waiting on  his Moped for the signal to change in mount Road in Chennai, an impatient, fellow riding a motor cycle, hit my father and  went away leaving my father badly injured and bleeding right in the middle of the busiest road in the city.
People around him came to his help and he was admitted to the general hospital there. Although he was wearing his helmet, he was badly  injured, and some part of his brain had been affected, and soon he slipped into Dementia.

In his confused state of mind he thought he was going to Srirangam and caught a bus from somewhere for that from his house in Beasnt Nagar. He promised that he would not go far and insisted he be left alone to take his morning walk by  himself. However, knowing his condition, my brother left about 10 minutes later to keep a watch on him from a safe distance, but unfortunately my father was nowhere to be seen.  Worried, my brother searched all the usual places he would generally visit and found him nowhere.
His story was put in News papers, along with his photos, but we did not get any response for quite sometime. Another photo was put again in a Tamil News paper and this time there was a response from a person from Kundrathur, somewhere close to Chengalpeth.

Ali a 42 year old scrap merchant found him in a very bad condition lying  near the road in front of the Mosque. Ali felt sorry for him, called a few friends, and they all cleaned up our father, took him home and changed his dirty Veshti,  got him into a clean lungi, bought some hot idlies and fed him. He was very weak, couldn't remember his name, only thing he kept repeating was "Srirangam". Since he is also deaf he could not understand what these good people were asking him.
Ali felt he needed medical treatment and immediately admitted him in the general hospital there.
The next day, he saw our father's picture in the Tamil News Paper, and immediately contacted my brother, saying, his father was in the general hospital there. Ali, we only know him by his name, for that good man didn't even want to meet my brother, he just gave him the ward number, and told him to take his father home. Such good people are rarely found in this world. I think our father was lucky to have found such good person, who went out of the way to help him.
It made us wonder: how many of us would go out of the way and help somebody lying like a beggar on the road, we would not even give such people a second thought.
The help rendered by Ali  would always make us remember him in our prayers, and also make us more conscious of people lying around in some helpless state like our father. Our father must have been roaming in that condition for days before he was found. We thank God for sending Ali like an angel to save our father.
In the hospital too he was well looked after not only by the doctors and nurses, but people coming to visit other patients  in that ward too were very good  to him, sharing their food with him.
My father, when he saw my brother was so relieved, he started crying uncontrollably, like a child, for he has become a child.
This man, our Father, who is so educated, so intelligent, has been reduced to this state: no one should ever get Dementia, it is the worst condition a person can suffer.
He is back home safe and healthy, and he has been told very strictly, that he cannot leave the house alone.
We thank our brother and his wife too, for taking very good care of him.

 I can only say that, I am proud to have had such a loving and patient mother, and I am equally proud to have a such a wonderful father, who, may have been very proud at one time and still is,  but is definitely a man with very good heart and a great smile and a positive attitude towards life.

Taken just 5 years back,  during our daughter's wedding. My dad looks so fit and smart.

Happy Birthday Day Dear Appa!