Friday, December 31, 2010

The Dream Catchers

The Legend of the Dream Catcher

"A spider was quietly spinning his web
in his own space.  It was beside the sleeping
space of Nokomis, the grandmother.

Each day, Nokomis watched the spider
at work, quietly spinning away.  One day as
she was watching him, her grandson came
in.  "Nokomis-iya!" he shouted, glancing at
the spider. He stomped over to the spider,
 picked up a shoe and went to hit it.

"No-keegwa," the old lady whispered, "don't hurt him."

"Nokomis, why do you protect
the spider?" asked the little boy.
  The old lady smiled, but did not answer.

When the boy left, the spider went
to the old woman and thanked her
 for saving his life.  He said to her,
 "For many days you have watched
me spin and weave my web.  You have
admired my work.  In return for saving
my life, I will give you a gift."

He smiled his special spider smile and
moved away, spinning as he went.  Soon
the moon glistened on a magical silvery
web moving gently in the window.
  "See how I spin?" he said.  "See
and learn, for each web will snare
bad dreams.  Only good dreams will
go through the small hole.  This is my gift
to you.  Use it so that only good dreams
will be remembered.  The bad dreams will
become hopelessly entangled in the web."

 Beyond - A lullaby

Sleep well sweet child
Don't worry your head
Your Dream Catcher is humming
Above your bed

Listen so softly
I know you can hear
The tone of beyond
Close to your ear

Love is alive
And living in you
Beyond all your troubles
Where good dreams are true

Dreamcatchers:  are an authentic American
 Indian tradition, 

from the Ojibay(Chippewa) tribe. The people would tie 

sinew strands 

in a web around a small round or tear-shaped 

frame - in a somewhat similar pattern to how they
 tied webbing for Ojibway snowshoes--and 
hang this "dream-catcher" as a charm to protect 
sleeping children from nightmares. The legend is that 
the bad dreams will get caught in the web.
The Dreamcatcher allegedly helps us remember 

our dreams. It is regarded by some as a serious tool 
that is much more than a decorative ornament.

 The opening in the center determines the volume
that you are asking to receive and parallels the changes
 that will occur in your life.

Hang the dreamcatcher near the place where you sleep, 
on the wall, or perhaps from a lampshade or bedpost. 

During my recent trip to the US, I came across 
 the Dream Catcher, and my son told me the 
story behind the Dream Catcher, and I was really
fascinated by it, and I bought one. I also read 
about it in the internet, and  I also found some 
interesting videos about the philosophy of the
 native  American, and found, that it is no different
 from our own philosophy: it reinforces the universal belief
that we are all one.
Although we all know about the Native Americans,
still it feels good to go back
and refresh ourselves with their history, their struggles,
and their determination
to keep their identity intact. It shows us we may lose
everything, but nobody can
take our spirit.

Happy New Year !!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Awesome Clouds Again

One of the most satisfying experiences I know is fully to appreciate an individual in the same way I appreciate a sunset. When I look at a sunset...I don't find myself saying, 'Soften the orange a litle more on the right hand corner, and put a bit more purple along the base, and use a little more pink in the cloud color...' I don't try to control a sunset. I watch it with awe as it unfolds.
Carl R. Rogers

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. 

Rabindranath Tagore

These are pictures of clouds taken from our terrace. Every once in a while the magnificent colors of the clouds and their formation, both unusual and beautiful never ceases to amaze me.
So here I was clicking away whatever beauty I could capture.....

Aren't they really beautiful?
What forms can you imagine, I would love to know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dolls Of South India

This a beautiful  elegantly carved Elephant is made out of a single piece of cedar wood.
It caught Ananth's eye and he had to buy it. We bought it in VTI in Chennai
I love to collect all kinds of dolls. There are so many artifacts, collectibles which I like to display in our house: our house is  full of them, there is hardly any place to display all of them. But we never stop buying them. Some of them are expensive, although most of them are very affordable. Fridge magnets are another thing I am crazy about, for they are the only things we can afford to buy during our visits abroad. So here are some of the things bought by us during our trips to Hyderabad, Chennai :
These are the famous dolls of Kondapally in Andhra Pradesh South India

This  is Andaal , the famous poetess whose Thirupavai is still sung by  people all over the south during  December- January

I also have quite a few wooden toys from Channapatna in Karnataka : the toys that captured the heart of Mictchell Obama.

There is the colorful train,  (this the 3rd train, I had prettier ones, but guests liked them so much, that they just begged me to give it to them. I thought I could get the same but I am yet to find them)the merry-go- round....
This is my Fridge Magnet collection from various countries: some were bought by me and some are gifts.
The Cycle you see on the shelf is made of wire, they are so cute and so cheap, I also have a Rickshaw.

Above  the kitchen chimney too I have one Giant Wheel from Channapatna, these are just a few I have so many of them.
The dancing pair was gift from my maid for my 43rd birthday. I really treasure such gifts.

 This again is the Dasaavatar from Kondapally Andhra Pradesh
The Ten Incarnations of the Lord Vishnu.
The dancing Ganeshas was bought  some twenty five years ago from Poombuhar Bangalore.

Here's wishing you all the joys of the seasons: Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ring out the old, Ring in the New

Come each new day,  I keep postponing the long overdue chore of clearing out the cupboards, overflowing now with ageing and in consequence ill fitting clothes, which have not been able to keep up with my own growth over the years. These are the clothes now waiting to be discarded, given away to deserving souls who could and would use it joyfully with the least bit of fuss.  Llittle by little, one at a time, I had  cleared and collected over a period of months quite a big bundle, wrapped up in an old bedsheet, stowed in one corner of our enclosed balcony,  awaiting carriage to its final destination.

My task is not over by any means :  there was quite a lot more in the several cupboards that needed to be cleared, but I didn't have the heart to part with my close companions of many years past. I have so many dresses that don't fit me now , but  somehow I keep living in the dream that one day I will surely be able to fit back into them.  But alas ! for the past 2 to 3 years I have only managed to add on a few kilos  and no amount of exercise or a  strict dietary regimen consisting only of health foods has been able to win me the battle of my bulge.

Reluctantly I gave up my hopes of ever reverting back to my previous size, and boldly decided to give away all the dresses that I had not used in the last 2 years. The saddest part was that they all looked pretty new : anyway there was a job to be done with gritted teeth and girded loins.

Once I started the sorting out business,  it looked like it was going to take ages, so I decided to forego my regular exercising over the weekend.  For 2 whole days, working tirelessly, I kept clearing everything from the overflowing cupboards,  while also simultaneously keeping my wardrobe neat and in order.  It seemed like I had done hours and hours of strenuous exercise,  although I had scarcely moved a few paces from my spot.

Finally, after nearly two days of backbreaking work, I finally had a few more big bundles of clothes as company for the other older bundles, waiting patiently to be carted away to destinations as yet unknown.

It felt so good, almost a cathartic feeling to be rid of all the unwanted things.  I don't know what makes us hold on to old things that have become practically useless for us. Why can't we just give them away as soon as we realize that they will never be used by us ( and this includes husbands also, hehe ) ?

I know they’ll have an  afterlife in some other place, serving somebody else.  Once the items were gone, I paused to think how I felt : I was at once very happy and very relieved as though a great big load had been lifted off my back  and I congratulated myself for being able to let go.  This little act made me realize that there comes a time when you have to let go a little in return for a little slice of peace. 

You can’t be skinny and be healthy at the same time, and acknowledging  this fact is important for mental peace and balance.  And that means not looking back with sadness at your once slender figure and the clothes you draped it in. The important thing is for you to stop loving the clothes that don’t love you.   Having a wardrobe that fits you makes more sense. Even if your body has experienced a small, but healthy change (in other words, if you’ve gained a little weight that was unintentional, but is still perfectly healthy), it’s worth having a wardrobe that works with you, rather than against you.
 I also think it is important for all of us to remember that our bodies are not immutable.  They develop with us. They adapt puberty, childbearing, and menopause. They reflect growth. So, give your body the freedom to evolve.  But if for some reason old clothes are holding you back from self-acceptance, then do yourself a favor and plunge headlong into some spring cleaning. Does it mean defeat?
 No-it signifies growing up,  embracing change, embracing the inevitable and also embracing the peace within.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pasta for Lunch

Whole wheat pasta with tomato, garlic, onion and capsicum.
Today we decided we would have pasta for lunch.
My husband is very good at making pasta, and he was kind enough to make it today.
It is a very simple dish and doesn't take much time to prepare.
To go with it we had some cut apple and some nuts.

Low-fat cheese
No good meal can be complete without a good  wine.
 So here it is : our for lunch today.

Roses for turning 52. (8th December was my birthday)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Trip to Vizag

How beautiful the city looks with backdrop of the setting Sun

The History of Visahakapatanam
According to history the city was named after the God of Valour 'Vishaka'. It was part of the Kalinga kingdom, under Asoka's rule in 260B.C. It passed on later to the Andhra Kings of 'Vengi'. After this Pallavas, Chola and Ganga dynasties ruled the city. In the 15th century, Vishakapatnam became part of the Vijaynagar Empire.
View from for the hotel window
View from the window of the Taj Gateway
The Europeans, the Dutch, the French and the English established themselves from the 17th century onwards and used this as a major trading center to export textiles, tobacco, indigo etc. This coast played a major role during the reign of Asaf Jahais and Golcondas. 
Vizag is built along the seashore, of the Bay of Bengal, and is bounded and broken by the bold headland called the Dolphin's Nose (357m. above sea level). The city boasts of a beautiful beach with a long beach road ending nearly at Bheemapatinam on the Northern end. The surrounding area is dominated in the west by the well- forested  western ghats and farther east is drained by numerous rivers, like the Godavari and Indravati.

The city is surrounded by three hills, each of which has a shrine dedicated to different religion: Venkateswara temple on the Venkateswara Konda, Baba Ishaq Madina Dargah on the Dargha Konda, and the Church of Virgin Mary on Rose Hill.

These fisher-women were quite happy to be photographed: they seem to be liking the unexpected break from the routine.You can make out from their smiles.
Waves hitting against the rocks, I simply love the sea, can spend hours here...
It is really wonderful to watch the waves gushing in with such force
  The lovely Rushikoda Beach in Vizag with golden sands is the best beach in Vizag. However instead of going to the regular beach, as it is very crowded, it is better to drive a few miles further down the road and find some secluded beaches like this. Here we found some lovely and  very friendly fisher- women, who were not only excited to see visitors on this isolated beach, but also readily agreed to pose for pictures.
The Kailasgiri Hills and the Ropeway
Known as the Thomas' Folly in the colonial era Kailasgiri is situated at an altitude of 360ft. A charming hillock on the sea front bordering a small valley within the city. The magnificient statues of Shiva & Parvati are illuminated at night and is worth seeing.
Boats, boats all sailing calmly...

A Ropeway that takes people from the foot of the hill to the top of the hill and back. It is an added attraction to this wonderful place. Sitting in the cable car you can have some of the magnificent views of the city and the Bay

The view from the top is mind- blowing

The park gives an enchanting view of the sea, beaches, lush green forests and the ever bustling city. Kailasagiri is a glider's paradise with excellent gliding facilities.

                               INS Kursura
The INS Kursura was commissioned at Riga. erstwhile USSR on 18th December 1969 under the command of A. Auditto. The Submarine embarked on her maiden passage from Balrisk on 20th February 1970. The induction of Kursura show cased the augumentation of the 3rd dimension of the Indian Navy. She was the corner stone of foundation of the Indian Navy Submarine Arm. During her 31 glorious year of service, the submarine traversed 73,500 nautical miles participating in all kinds of Naval operations. It played a vital role in the 1971 Indo- pak war. She was the pioneer submarine extending good will and harmony through visits and flag showing missions to other nations. In her vast life span, INS Kursura changed hands 13 times, the last commanding officer being Cdr KM Sreedharan. INS Kursura was decommissioned on 27th February 2001.
After that, Kursura has been converted into a submarine museum on the RK Beach Vizag.

The INS Kursura against the backdrop of the Bay Of Bengal in Vizag.
Inside INS Kursura

The best time to visit Vizag is from November to February with moderate temperature and little precipitation.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back from a short break : Hyderabad

The view of the city
 from our room at Taj Banjara
Hyderabad, the fifth largest metropolis of India, is the state capital of Andhra Pradesh, known for its rich history and culture with monuments, mosques, temples, a rich and varied heritage in arts, crafts and dance.

Golconda Fort:
Golconda Fort in Hyderabad is a majestic monument, which lies on the western outskirts of the city. It speaks of a great cultural heritage of 400 years and is considered as a place that is worth visiting. Golconda was famous for its diamond mines in olden days. The world-renowned 'Kohinoor' diamond is believed to have come from here. The Golconda fort is built on a granite hill 120m high. The fort has 8 gates or Darwazas as they are called in local language. The main gate is called Fateh Darwaza. The hills around the fort lend a very mysterious charm and colossal grandeur to the gigantic fort.
The Golconda Fort reaches to a height of 120 meters with a boundary wall covering a range of 10 kilometers of the outskirts of Hyderabad. The Golconda fort comprises of four small forts within itself. 
You have to enter the fort through 'Fateh Darwaza', which is also called the 'Victory gate'. The main attractions of this entrance are the acoustic effects, which is a remarkable feature of the Golconda Fort. It is said that such an articulate construction was used in those ancestral days for security purposes.

The latest feature that adds more excitement to the Golconda fort is the Light and Sound show. The amazing light and sound impacts with the narration of the hair raising story of the Golconda Fort is interesting.

 Unfortunately we could not see it although we  had time for it, because it suddenly started raining heavily in the evening in Hyderabad.
View of the Husain Sagar Lake from Birla Temple.

The dasaavatars all standing in line on top of the wooden dancing Ganeshas.
They are called Kondapally toys made in Andhra Pradesh. They are made of wood and painted in
bright colors and also very light.
Birla Temple: We are not great fans of Birla temples, yet we visited it, and I spotted a set of Dasaavathars there which I bought

Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad

Aficionados of Hyderabad, the cultural treasure trove can't help raving about Salar Jung Museum, India’s third largest museum. The museum sited in the hot seat of cultural splendor contains antique pieces and artifacts from nearly all epochs of history.
The existence of the museum is credited to Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III as well as the Prime Minister of the seventh Nizam, whose passion lay in collecting priceless antiques.
Salar Jung Museum, flaunting the country’s largest ‘one-man collection’ of antiques rests on the southern bank of the Musi River. The museum is a dream come true for those who love to take long trips along the musty pages of history with its varied collection of over 43000 art objects, 50000 books and manuscripts. These compilations include works and relics of Indian Art, Middle Eastern Art, Far Eastern Art, European Art, and Children Art along with an elaborate Founder’s gallery.

The semi-circular building is a magnificent architectural edifice with 38 galleries spread across two floors of an imperial building. Each gallery has its own specialty with one housing the Nizam’s personal belongings, another houses Indian artifacts. Others display a plethora of items ranging from paintings, musical instruments, preserved stages showcased in glass cabinets, Kashmiri furniture and handicrafts as well a multitude of other valued historical relics.

A visit to Hyderabad’s Salar Jung Museum opens up treasure chest of unbelievable cultural legacy an unveils an ancient figurine of Veiled Rebecca, Double figure by Italian sculptor G.H Benzoni, Musical clock, Arabic Al Quran in Nashq (1288 AD), jade crafted knifes of Jehangir & Nurjahan and Famous European paintings like 'Venice', 'Soap Bubbles' etc.
We nearly spent 3 hours here, everything was so amazing, with history and love dripping from each and every objects, so well preserved. If you ever ever visit Hyderabad, don't miss it. The restrooms  there good and there are plenty of them in each floor. The whole Museum is very clean and well maintained.
Cameras are not allowed.

After this visit, we were guided to a very good Muslim Restaurant for lunch, it was practically full with all kinds of people enjoying their food or were patiently waiting for their turn to be served. It had a very Turkish look, one felt as if one had all of sudden landed in some place in Turkey. The food was wonderful: their Lassi/ Buttermilk was made like a  falooda, and it tasted real good.

The Chowmahalla Palace
 Chowmahalla Palace :

The Chowmahalla Palace was once the centre of Hyderabad. It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty
where the Nizam entertained his official guests and royal vistors.The palace is unique for its style and elegance.
 The complex consists of two coutyards with elegant palaces, the grand khilwat
(the Durbar Hall), fountains and gardens. khilwat mubrarak is the heart of the palace.
Different portions of the Chowmahalla were build during different phases of the Asaf Jahi rule.This was build around 1780 during the reign of Nawab Nizam Ali Khan, Asaf Jah II, but extensively renovated later in 1911.
Afzal mahal, a two storeyed building is the most imposing.the grand pillared Durbar Hall has a pure marble platform on which the Taqt e nishan or royal seat was laid. The 19 spectacular chandeliers of Belgian crystal have been recently reinstalled to create the lost splendour of this regal hall.

The old Clock Tower.

Inside the Palace

Chowmahalla Palace

I had to take a picture like this : just like them

Charminar: Culture
Charminar is always on the top of the mind of any tourist visiting Hyderabad. To imagine this 400-year-old city without Charminar is to imagine New York without the Statue of Liberty or Moscow without the Kremlin. Built by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah in 1591, shortly after he had shifted his capital from Golkonda to what now is known as Hyderabad, this beautiful colossus in granite, lime, mortar and, some say, pulverised marble, was at one time the heart of the city. This great tribute to aesthetics looks sturdy and solid from a distance but as one moves closer, it emerges as an elegant and romantic edifice proclaiming its architectural eminence in all its detail and dignity
Every side opens into a plaza through giant arches, which overlook four major thoroughfares and dwarf other features of the building except the minarets. Each arch is 11 metres wide and rises 20 metres to the pinnacle from the plinth. The minarets soar skywards by 24 metres from the roof of Charminar. Each minaret has four storeys, each looking like a delicately carved ring around the minaret. Some Anglophiles call Charminar the Arc de Triomphe of the East. From the ground to the apex, the minarets cover a length of 48.7 metres.

Atop the great monument are 45 prayer spaces for the devout where they can offer worship in an atmosphere unspoilt by the bustle of the city. East of this space is a spacious verandah with small and large arches in the middle. The first floor has beautiful balconies from where one has a fantastic view of the historic city and its later accretions.

And of course I bought lots bangles and other knick- knacks that caught my eye. I also bought the red Venkatagiri saree ( though I could not get the exact thing I wanted), yet what I got was also very beautiful.
I managed to get a beautiful peach colored pearl set and also one pearl bracelet.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in the pouring rain and waited for our driver to bring us the famous Irani Samosas and  the equally famous  Irani Chai or tea for which Hyderabad is very well known for.
It tasted really good : hot and crispy, to really die for!
 I felt sad saying good bye  to this amazingly vibrant and ancient city, throbbing with so much life. I also felt bad the we could have seen a few more places if it had not started raining so heavily.
Anyway, the time we spent in Hyderabad was really great, and the weather was wonderful, except for the unexpected rain. Like they say "All good things must come to an end"

The next blog would be about Vizag: a really great place to visit.