Sunday, January 26, 2014

Seville, Spain


Italica, a few kilometers North of Seville.

What attracts people to Seville?

 It is their famous Flamenco dance. Though there are many interesting places to see in Seville, it is the flamenco show that is the most fascinating. One cannot visit  Spain , without  having Seville in their itinerary, which  is world famous for its  flamenco show,  for it would be like coming to India and not visiting Taj Mahal.

   Flamenco in general, consists of three artistic elements: the singing ( cante), the dancing (bailla), and the guitar (guitarra). 
 Although mass media has brought Flamenco to the world stage, at its heart it has always been and will always be an intimate form of music. To hear authentic flamenco, I heard you have to be with a small group of friends, at midnight , somewhere in the south of Spain, where there is nothing around but the voice, the guitar and the body of the dancer moving in the moonlight : sounds pretty romantic, well that is the "Romantic Spain" for you.

 The pictures were taken with great difficulty by our daughter who was with us. The movements are very fast, still I think she managed to take them  quite well.

Now I would like to mention about the special flamenco shoes. Women have to wear a well- reinforced pump with a strong two inch heel and a strap across the ankle, with small nails driven into the heel and the tip of the toe to make smooth metal surface. For men it is almost the same except , that it has to be in ankle boot form.

 It is interesting to note that , the flamenco dance actually finds its origins right here in India. For it was the gypsies  who arrived from India around 1425, and  they brought with them many songs and dance styles that had strong Indian connections ( especially from the north of India, the Punjab region).

At this time the Andalucia, was still under the Arab rule, and along with the jews, the moors, the gypsies were soon to be persecuted by the Catholic monarchs and the inquisition. Everyone was forced to convert to Christianity, and those who refused, were expelled from Spain. The gypsies were subjected to some of the worst atrocities in an attempt to exterminate them as a race. Many laws were passed by various monarchs, which forbid them to do anything with their identity.

They were to stop wearing their style of dresses, stop speaking their language, and stop their wandering and seek steady employment. These laws forced bands of gypsies, moors and jews to take refuge in the treacherous mountains, which were too desolate for the authorities to pursue them.

These people of different cultures lived in relative harmony for many years, and the fusion of their music and dances is what we know today as flamenco.

 They  look so graceful, and the look on their face is so  intent, despite the fact, that they must be performing it so many times. Every time, it would look as if they are performing not to the the tourist like us, but they are performing somewhere else in their own private world. The way the men sing, play the guitar : it is all so mesmerising, so deep, taking you along with them  into another world. One has to see it to believe it, no amount of words can do justice to this art form.

In the 18th century attitude towards the gypsies changed considerably, which resulted in numerous bands of gypsies descending on the small villages and towns, bringing with them, their exciting seductive music- flamenco. Their mysterious music and stimulating dances were soon to catch the attention of the romantic writers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Stories abound of these strange people performing their wild erotic dances and the harsh unusual tones of their songs.
Soon flamenco  clubs called Cafe Cantantes began to spring up in most of the cities, and the most famous was the Cafe Silverio's in Seville, which was the idea of the flamenco singer, Silverio Franconetti.

The cafe cantante period, 1850- 1910, was known as the "Golden Age", but this was also a period of decline of what was originally known as the flamenco art. Many gypsy singers refused to perform in these establishments, forcing a wave of non -gypsy to take to the stage to perform a lighter and milder form of flamenco, the Fandangos, which were Andalucian folk songs.
 It is said that the gypsies were very independent bent of mind, and flamenco being very spontaneous, the gypsies simply refused to perform at a set time,and even worse be told what styles they were to sing.

There is an area of land known as the "Holy Trinity" or golden triangle of flamenco, which is thought to be the area where all the major styles of cante jondo ( original flamenco)  originated. The points of this triangle are  Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, and Triana in Seville, and it is believed that this area of land  is where the flamenco song began. It is in these areas in Seville, that one can find, that they still hold on dearly to their age old flamenco tradition.

 While the fusion boom was going on, there were certain artists like Fosforito and Jose Menes, who refused to commercialise their art, and thankfully cante jondos is even more popular today, and the flamenco festivals that are held all over Andalucia is proof of this. If you have ever listened to a twangy, tinny sounding old guitar, accompanying a gravel, almost out of tune, ancient style of voice, rusty and dry as if straining for its last breath and rhythmed only by the rapping of the knuckles on a table top, then you will have probably witnessed Cante Jondo, which is flamenco in its purest form. 

If again at some stage, while listening to this ancient song you have felt as though death has passed over the top of you, making your skin tingle and your emotions clash, from joy to sheer excitement, to the depths of sorrow and pain, then you could have also experienced duende.

I must also tell you something about the use of castanets by the flamenco dancers. It is said Spanish gypsies, did not originally use castanets, moving with, "easy, undulating filigranos" ( soft movements of the arms and hands), reflecting their eastern ethinic heritage. The early gypsies felt no need for devices, beyond their own innate, rhythmic hand clapping (palmadas), finger snapping (pitos), clicking of the tongue, and often tapping of a stick (b culo). These sounds were further embellished by the shouts ( grittos), and expressions of animation, that conjured the magic ( duende) of the moment ". However, even though gypsies have taken up the use of castanets, many still play in the primitive way, on the middle finger instead of the thumb. So castanets are not part of the true flamenco, they are an element that has been added to enhance finger snapping.

Castanets are actually a percurssion instrument that are several centuries old and which, as time passed, has become typical of Spanish folk-lore. and in Andalucia it is known as "palillos". The best matrial for making  them is wood, the harder the better. However, other materials such as pressed canvas and fiberglass have become more common in the last few years due to good results that they have provided. To play them, the castanet's string must be wrapped around the thumb, and they must be played using the remaining fingers.

                                  You can see them having Castenet in one of their palms

These Flamenco shows are of 2 hours duration, and usually starts at 9pm and the next show starts at 11 pm. A free drink of your choice comes with the ticket to the show.

Planning a trip to Spain, then do not miss to visit Seville.

Seville has other attractions also, would soon write about those too.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Time Spent With My Daughter

The six days spent with my daughter was indeed good. It was time well spent with her. It is over, for 
today she left for Mumbai by the evening flight. And in another 4 days she would be leaving for London. I don't know when we might get together again. As they say, all good things must come to an end. However, I am happy for her, and wish her a wonderful life in London with her husband Ram.
They are both very good people, and I know that good people always do well in their lives.

The day she landed here in  Bangalore , she wanted me to make Vatha Kouzumbu for lunch as that is her favorite dish to have with rice, and my husband promptly went and bought Okra for her , which again is her favorite vegetable dish, which he himself made for her.
She dragged us to Phoenix Market City Mall in Whitefield, the same evening, both of us had a nice time there, only poor husband was bored to death, so we just had a look at what was on sale (which itself took us nearly more than 2 hours), and decided to come back again to do the real shopping/ buying.
The next day we had an appointment with the Tattoo studio, and we knew once we had gone there, we would not be able to return before 8.3 p m.
Tattoo artists are late risers, for they come late in the afternoon and work till late evening / night, depending  on the work they end up with. It needs lots of back bending concentration and precision in their work. They are really patient, and devoted in their work, one must really love tattooing to have all these characteristics. You would be surprised that some of them are studying engineering, some of them are doctors and architects and so on.
Once you see them working you come to appreciate them and genuinely feel that they deserve every penny they charge.
I had already decided what I wanted to get tattooed, but unfortunately the person who is supposed to be an expert in the field of portrait tattoo fell ill and so I could not get the portrait tattoo done.
However, I had other tattoos to be done, which would have been difficult to combine with the portrait tattoo, which I wanted to be done, so I decided to get the small tattoos  since we had an appointment with them. My daughter too wanted an Ankh Tattoo put on her ankle,( it symbolises life/ forever/ growth /evolution). So Sunday went off at the tattoo studio.
On the nape of my neck
You all already know my relationship with Time
BTW, (12.48 a m) that was the time I was born in the cold month of December

Mary Poppins just popped out of nowhere, and just got magically placed behind my ear: a real cute tattoo, just  the right size. Seeing my tattoos my dear friend  Padmaja wrote a poem on that, which I must share it here:

"Well after looking at the pics you sent, you energized me so much, I felt like writing these lines for you!


The rainbow and the colorful butterflies
The dew drops on the rose garden
The sound of the splashing rain
The sweet smile on the new born's face
All remind me of her, her zest for life
Zest is the secret of her beauty
And that zest has a second name called Rama!"
Love Padmaja

Thank you Padmaja for this lovely poem. I will always treasure it.

Our Mall mania was not yet over, we decided to leave Ananth at home and go and shop peacefully. We went back to all the shops we had checked out during our earlier visit, and had a gala time trying out various outfits, and finally selecting the ones we liked. we had such fun shopping. Although I enjoy shopping alone, I also enjoy shopping with like minded people, and my daughter happens to be one of them.

Next we had to check out the just opened Starbucks Coffee in the same Mall. We got to taste lots of free coffee too, as we ordered our Espresso and Cappuccino.

My daughter had some wonderful time playing with her dog Loki, and also with our dog Bumbilli.
Though we don't allow dogs on bed, however, this once, I let her dog snuggle with her on her bed. I felt bad for both of them, for they were used to it, and  I did not have the heart to be strict now.
Anyway it was just for a few days: let them enjoy their bonding, for God knows when they would get to meet  once she left for London.
 I must say, her dog Loki is not fussy, he is very adaptable, he full of life and is always happy,  he loves to sleep  outside in his basket along with Bumbilli and the night watchman.
Here  is a picture of them together: bed-
sheets can be washed, but their love for each other cannot be washed away, it is there to stay forever, although they may not be together for long, so let them enjoy the  togetherness just for a little while. 

 There  is no doubt that we are all going to miss her, but she has a life of her own, and we must let her go. We can see each other, talk  with each other through G talk/ Skype, : modern technology is there by our side. Her stay with us has come to an end today, however, she leaves behind pleasant memories to revisit again and again.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Can Time Stand Still?

Good relationships are like needles of a clock, They only meet for
sometime but always stay connected . How very true it is. 

It means that we should give each other the much needed space to feel fulfilled in any relationship. We can learn so many things by just watching the clock.

Clocks are so fascinating, they not only keep moving endlessly, but also keep us moving, we can never slow down, never race it and we can never stop its progress.
Clock can never be conquered too. And it is always watching.

We have different feeling about the clock, sometimes we are angry with it for moving so fast, and there are times when we feel it is moving too slowly.
However, isn't it surprising, that clock is always working exactly in the way it is meant to work, and it is our mind that is always playing tricks with us?

Here are some thoughts about Clocks:

Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is
gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past even
while we attempt to define it, and, like the flash of lightning, at
once exists and expires. ~Charles Caleb Colton

 I remember, feeling that time passed very fast during our son's last visit,  he was there for two weeks, yet I felt that somehow I did not get enough time to spend with him.

Every time  our daughter visits us, time seems to just fly off, leaving me feeling quite helpless.
However, it is only me, my husband is totally fine,  not affected by the comings and goings  of anybody for any length of time (short or long).
                                              I really miss Ram (our Son in Law) too.
Now that he is in London, I wonder, when we will see him again. My daughter is coming to spend 6 days with us and her dog Loki, before she also leaves for London to be with her husband.
I plan to spend the six days without wasting any time, so that after she leaves, I would feel as if I have spent 6 months with her. Is it possible?

We blame time for slipping away so fast, but time is always in our hands to be utilized properly.
Despite, everything, I feel I have lots and lots of time at my disposal, except for a few occasions, 
( like ones above) I feel I have all the time in this world.
The title of my blog is proof enough.

Neither does time hurry me, nor do I feel that time is rushing past me. People have always asked me how I kill time, to them I feel like telling, 
"Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them". ~Dion Boucicault
All my life I have been blessed with ample time for everything, I had time while I was young, I had time while I was a mother to two little kids, and now also I have plenty of time. I don't have any special formula to have more time than others, I just make time for everything  in my life.
When I want Time to stand still, it stands still with me, and when I want time to fly with me it flies with me, and when I want time to go at its normal pace it goes at its normal pace too with me.
Do I control time ?
The answer is no.

Well, for me Time has always been a friend, a guide, a mentor, a father all rolled into one.
He has always been there, is always there and would always be there for me.
He is my constant companion, hand in hand we have traveled together, in good times and in bad, never leaving each other's side, even for a second : our bond is strong.

                                         Here among the snow capped mountains, I could make time stand still                                               with me in Sikkim
                           Time waited as I admired my dog watch the world go by, from our terrace
                                            Time and the waves stood still with me in Spain
       I feel,  Time is  like a butterfly.... when you go after it ... it flies away,  but when you stand                                                 still... it comes to you, to stand still with you
                            Time stood still (in pin drop silence) as I clicked these two cute Labs as they slept cuddled together.
The clock too stopped ticking for a while,  mesmerised by the glitter and glamour of Las Vegas

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.~ Carl Sandburg

          Time looked on indulgently, as it stood watching me go crazy in Times Square NY
Time stands still when I sit in our rock garden and meditate
                                       Time always stands still when I am with my husband.

I don't need to fight time, race with it or race against it, or outwit it, or even kill it. I feel so blessed to have time constantly with me, nurturing me, healing me, encouraging me, changing me,and inspiring me.

Thank you dear time, for I cherish every minute of our togetherness in this great and wonderful journey called Life

What is your view about Time and Clock?