Friday, September 20, 2013

'U' For Umbrella

Today, I share with you a nice and inspiring story about Umbrella. I am also sharing a beautiful song on Umbrella by the famous country singer Faith Hill.

First the story:

                                                     Bring Your Umbrella

When severe drought hit a small farming community in the Midwest of the USA, a local church called a prayer meeting & everybody showed up. A crisis has a way of getting our attention!

As the pastor stood before his packed church he noticed an 11 year girl sitting in the front row, beaming with excitement. Lying next to her was her bright red umbrella poised for use. The beauty & innocence of this sight made him smile as he compared the faith of this child with that of the rest of the people in the room. You see, the rest of them had come just to pray for rain – but she had come to see God answer!

One of the dangers of praying, is praying, yet not really expecting anything: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that… He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb11:6)

But what if your prayer lines up with God’s word, yet the answer is delayed? Keep praying & believing! “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Heb 10:35-36).

So, when you pray for rain, bring your umbrella.

I am reminded of the same concept in Reiki too, which also emphasises that we must always believe that whatever we want has already happened, for when we go with that kind of confidence, the Universe has to give it to us. If on the other hand we go with 'hope', we are going with doubt, which automatically puts blockages in our wish being actualised for our prayers lack confidence. A little girl too can show us the way  to achieve our goals in life.

Now listen to this lovely song called the "Red Umbrella"

Lyrics of the song " Red Umbrella":

Sometimes life can get a little dark
I’m sure I’ve got bruises on my heart
Here come the black clouds full of pain
Yeah, you can’t break away without the chains

Your love is like a red umbrella
Walk the streets like Cinderella
Everyone can see it on my face

So let it rain, it’s pouring all around me
Let it fall, it ain’t gonna drown me
After all, I’m gonna be okay
So let it rain

You can wear your sorrow like an old raincoat
You can save your tears in a bottle made of gold
But the glitter on the sidewalk always shines
Yeah, even God needs to cry sometimes

Your love is like a red umbrella
Always there to make me better
When my broken dreams are falling from the sky

Oh let it rain
Let it fall, I’m gonna be okay so let it rain
Let it wash my tears away
Tomorrow’s another day, yeah

So let it rain, it’s pouring all around me
Let it fall, it ain’t gonna drown me
After all, I’m gonna be okay
So let it rain.

"Red Umbrella" is an up-tempo song consisting of abstract imagery, in which the narrator explains that she will be all right despite the troubles in her life. She compares love to a "red umbrella" to cover her from the rain.

Billboard gave Red Umbrella a positive review, saying "It's a positive love song that is uplifting and sweet, but doesn't venture too far into saccharine territory. And just when you'd think the world's songwriters might have run out of new ways to describe love, here's a fresh analogy: 'Your love is like a red umbrella/Walk the streets like Cinderella/Everyone can see it on my face.' Hill's performance is perfection."

Faith Hill the singer too, had struggled a lot to come to a stage where she  is now: it was her faith in her talents and abilities that has brought her here.  So have faith in your goals, intent your intentions with faith and see them happen, for it is all in our hands. Never pray or ask for things halfheartedly

Isn't it interesting, how even a simple Umbrella  can  be turned into an inspiring topic?
Do you also know some Umbrella story?
I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Travelling Back In Time : A re- post

During my younger days, (eons ago, I must admit) I had the great good fortune of traveling and living in several distant parts of India, thanks to my father who was serving in the Indian Army.

My traveling days started with my father being transferred from Bombay ( my birth place, now rechristened Mumbai ) to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. I was barely a year old at that time. We moved into a neighbourhood called Halwasiya Market, Hazrathganj. I remember we had a spacious apartment on the third floor of an old residential building. The rooms were laid out along a straight line like compartments of a train, each opening out to a corridor running alongside :

first the kitchen, then a living room and then two bedrooms, and at the far end the bathroom and toilet, a design reminiscent again of the Indian Railways. Breaking the monotony, the living room also opened out onto to a fairly large grilled verandah, an appendage to the corridor. From here a view of the several tall minarets, a legacy of the Moghul past of this gracious city, and a vista of open terraces of lowlier tenements that spread out as far as the eye could see. And during the kite flying season, the eyes of the entire city would turn to the skies to watch the kites bobbing, dancing, and suddenly fiercely swooping down and pouncing upon unsuspecting targets, much like the bird of prey they are named after.

We were a family of six : my parents, my two elder sisters and one brother. I was the youngest of the lot. We also had countless pups and kittens roaming around the house, for my father loved to rescue stray pups and kittens and give them a home and shelter. You can read about these (mis) adventures here :

Do read it, for it will move you to tears.

For my education, I was admitted to a nearby convent school called "The Cathedral". School days very pretty boring, always dreading the arrival of my class teacher, Miss Williams, whom my mother and I nick named as “Miss Pulliams” (Pulli means Tiger in Tamil), for she would pounce on us the minute she saw us and start complaining to my poor mother how hopeless I was in my studies.

My mother would come everyday around 12 Noon with my lunch of Rasam mixed with rice and some vegetable curry. She would feed me, and I would make such a fuss saying everything was so hot with lots of chilies, and she used to somehow cajole me into finishing to the last morsel saying it was not hot at all, as she had put lots ghee/ clarified butter, and that it was very tasty. If that didn't work she would say to eat fast as she could see The Pulliams coming our way.

My nose can never forget the aroma of my mother's rasam, nor my tongue the sweet, sour pungency of the heavenly thin tomato soup(Rasam) garnished with a myriad condiments. And on occasions when I manage to recreate the aroma and taste of my mother’s rasam, I am absolutely thrilled, literally over the moon.

After lunch, I would not want to go to the students’ washroom as it always had a nasty stink like all school washrooms of the day and public toilets in India to this day. So we would quietly sneak into the staff wash room and hurriedly finish our business inside and walk quickly away with a conspiratorial grin on our faces. My poor mother, she had to put up with all my tantrums.

Later in the afternoon when school was over, my mother would come to fetch me home. And when we reached home, I would start pestering her to buy me a bar of Cadburys Chocolate from one of the several shops on the Ground floor of our building. I would simply refuse to climb the stairs to our third floor apartment without that prize in my hand. Without exception this was the sequence of events every school day as long we lived in Lucknow.
In the evening my second sister used to go to Bharatanatyam dance classes, and I would tag along with her, for I also wanted to learn dancing. But after just a few lessons, I refused to go, for I was clumsy of foot, lacked the suppleness in various body parts and graceful movements this dance form calls for. The dance teacher, never the one to spare the rod, took a devilish delight in spanking me for every single misstep that I was unable to even sit down for hours after class.

In the evenings my father would take me out with him, to free mother from my constant badgering while she cooked dinner for the family. I did not relish the prospect of going out with my dad, for he was a strict disciplinarian. But he would cajole me, saying he would buy me an ice cream and take me to his friend's place where I could play with kids my own age.

He would take me to the nearby Mayfair Cinema, famous in the city for its ice cream parlor, and buy me a big plate of ice cream. How I used to love those ice creams at Mayfair! A large thick slab of ice cream was served with two triangular crème wafer biscuits stuck artistically at an angle to each other. I can't say which I enjoyed the more - the wafer crème or the ice cream.

One such evening my father took me along to a photo studio run by a turbaned true blue Sardarji (a Sikh) since had to collect some passport photo prints he had ordered. The Sardar was a good friend of my father and never missed an opportunity to kid my father that I was so cute, (I looked a lot like the famous child artist of the day - Daisy Irani) that he would like to take a photograph of me, and put it up on the wall like you see in such shops all over India as testimonials of their craft. So the very next day my father took me to the studio dressed in lovely orange colored pants, a matching green printed shirt, and me holding a yellow and orange coloured umbrella for a prop : Colour photographs were a novelty and all the rage in those days.

The good Sardarji kept on asking me to smile, ( ismile pleej – ismile pleej ) but I could not smile, for this tall, hefty figure with the long Osama like bushy beard and moustache and the turban really frightened me. I was so fidgety, I could barely stand still leave alone smile. With the promise of a bar of chocolate and two helpings of ice cream at the Mayfair parlor, my father finally succeeded in making me stand on the bench with my colorful umbrella. The photo did indeed come out smashingly well. For many years thereafter this framed picture of mine found pride of place in our home wherever we went, till one fine day when we were living in Guwahati in Assam, it just vanished into thin air, never to resurface. I somehow suspect it was appropriated by my sneaky second sister and it must be with her in Boston where she now lives. I only have an impoverished copy of it - a small smudgy black and white passport size picture… sad really sad.

                                                    My God! how frightened I look

There is another tale I must recount which to this day makes me recoil in shame and horror. 
 For the Annual School day celebrations, the short skit staged was that of the adventures of Little Red Riding Hood. Out of the hundreds of kids, I was singled out to be part of the forest shrubbery in the background : No lead role, No Little Red Riding Hood dialogues for me, not even the big bad wolf / grandma role. A green coloured saree with flowery prints was wrapped around me and I was made to sit absolutely still in the background through the ten minutes of the play, and not so much as a whisper from me, nor the slightest movement. I daresay I played my part with great equanimity despite the Sardarji’s false prophetic words ringing in my ears, taunting me – “you are fit to be another Daisy Irani” .

Finally to my one memorable culinary experience in Lucknow, which still lingers on my mind and on my palate. Being a strict Vegetarian at home (and outside of home as well, unlike my dear husband), I am unable to make any learned, authentic comments on the much touted “Awadhi Cuisine” of Lucknow fit for debauched carnivorous moghuls. I simply loved the “Milk Badam” (Almond Milk) of streetside vendors. Yes – Milk Badam it was called and not the other way around. I am yet to taste a concoction close to that heavenly beverage of Lucknow, although I do believe MTR Badam milk today comes close - but no cigar. I also loved drinking ice cold Coca Cola and Fanta in glass bottles. Somehow it doesn't taste the same these days, - may be it is my aversion to PET bottles, and I hate drinking from a can (I am yet to master the intricate art of opening the can with the pull tab on top). In fact I have stopped drinking soda pop for a long time now.

Oh, the good old days will they ever come back? Lucknow ! Dear Lucknow ! how I miss you.

Our family next moved to Assam on the Eastern frontier of India. Can you imagine travelling all the way from Lucknow to Guwahati by train?

It is a very, very, looooong journey, with so many states to pass through, and so many trains to change.... well that is another story and another blog to come

Happy Ganesh Chathurti Y’all.
                                   My home made wheat Ganesha, eating Ladoos and Modhaks

P. S : Did you enjoy the travel back in time with me?