Thursday, December 03, 2009
the british government recommends half an hour of cardio-vascular exercise three to five times a week to stay fit as a fiddle. they have now come out with a surprising finding that most of the british dog owners take their pets for a walk twice a day on normal weekdays for about an average of 24 minutes each totalling 5 hours and 38 minutes.also that there are three longer outings every week that add another 2 hours and 33 minutes to the grand total.that places them in a better position than those who do their rigorous exercises . walking mango & cherry is good for me and my better half. many prefer to take their dogs for a walk over gym workouts. the moral of the story is that pets are good for health besides being friendly and helpful companions.
Friday, November 27, 2009
known as seppaankizhangu in tamil and arbi in hindi, it is a delectable root vegetable. in kerala it is an extremely popular vegetable and used as even a main staple food. in gujerat,the leaves of arbi are used to prepare a dish called "patra" which consists of tamarind and other spices. used in morekuzhambu (buttermilk kuzhambu) and in plain kozhambu as a vegetable,it is perhaps most liked as a deepfried curry in tamil nadu and known as seppankizhangu vadhakkal.
the skin of arbi is not edible. therefore, after pressure cooking without any water,the skin has to be peeled off. it is very simple to make but needs a bit of caution so that the vegetable does not get overheated.
take 1/2 kg oil,4 tsp salt 1/2 teaspoon of red chilli powder and a bunch of curry leaves. boil the arbi in a pressure cooker.it has to become very soft. then allow it to cool and peel the skin.heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and add mustard seeds and green chilli.add urad dal when it splutters.when urad dal is roasted you can add the arbi taking care that you add them slowly and also mix them gradually so that they get an even coat of oil. then add chillipowder,salt,turmeric powder,sambar powder (you can even add 2 tsp of besan), a pinch of asfoetida and fry until it takes a golden brown colour.add curry leaves and stir.
what you have cooked is truly heavenly stuff.though it goes well with chapati,it is normally eaten alongwith sambhar or rasam.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
my cousin from the us was on a business trip to india. i missed him the previous week when he arrived as i was travelling to chennai for my niece's wedding.while returning to the us,he stopped by at mumbai for a day which gave us an opportunity to meet. we planned for drinks at my place and a quiet meal in some good restaurant. we had a few things to discuss in privacy and i thought "the intercontinental" which is near home would be an apt choice. we first went to the "dome" which is at the rooftop to quench our thirst. the "dome" offers a fantastic view of the arabian sea. the ambience is superb and from the bar one gets a breathtaking view of the queen's necklace. post drinks, we decided to have dinner at the 'kabab korner' situated on the first floor."kabab corner" is one of my regular haunts. their service and food are excellent. my favourite steward is jaspal singh who does his best to keep a vegetarian like me happy and well-fed in a restaurant where most of the guests are eating nonvegetarian stuff.he makes it a point to get me hot and mouth-watering vegetarian kababs. as the decision to go to intercontinental was impromptu,i didn't book in advance and when we reached there from the "dome" we found the place was full. though there were a few empty tables they were all reserved. regretably,we left the place and went over to 'corleone' situated next to "kabab corner".
'corleone' is intercontinental's signature italian restaurant. i had never visited this place earlier. i thought i was taking a big risk. but my maiden experience proved otherwise. the ambience in 'corleone' is awesome,the sicilian food truly delectable and the service excellent. there were very few guests in the restaurant which meant that we could have our conversation peacefully. we ordered a plate of risotto and penne arrabbiata which we both liked. in italian, arrabbiata means angry.the arrabbiatta we ate was a roman sauce of tomatoes,garlic,red chili and basil cooked in olive oil.it was served with wheat tubular pasta and some fresh parsley sprinkled on top. the taste was hot and fiery and i liked it. the arrabbiata made me very calm. my cousin enjoyed the food as well though he might have liked it less spicy and less hot.
the restaurant is named after a small sicilian town which has the ignominy of being the birthplace of most of the 'mafiosi'. why this name was chosen is anybody's guess.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
you might think that i am hung up on billionaires after two recent postings on this subject and yet another one now. actually,for the first time,i came across the words carbon billionaire.i was intrigued and wanted to know what it meant. a tag which has been given to al gore, ex vp of usa and one who almost became president. he has taken up the cause of saving the planet.he has been relentlessly pursuing this cause and has travelled extensively all over the world to spread the awareness of climate change and the impact it can have on people and their lives.
he has also invested heavily in green companies. those companies that work for reducing pollution and making the planet greener and a safer place to live in for future generations.the projects these companies have taken up are solar power,biofuels,sustainable fish farming,waterless lavatories.his fortune has already risen from 1.2 million pounds to about 60 million pounds. these companies are all likely to become extremely profitable over time and that would give al gore excellent returns. in anticipation of this windfall al gore is likely to get,the us press is now referring to him as the first carbon billionaire. he very recently hit back at global warming sceptics who are labelling him the first "carbon billionaire" from his earnings as an investor in green technology. he dismissed them as "global-warming deniers". if all the carbon trading mandates go through in the next five years al gor they say would have multiplied his money multifold.
for the last eight years al gore has been a powerful advocate of government policies to limit carbon dioxide emissions. his latest book, 'our choice: a plan to solve the climate crisis' and a sequel to his earlier work, which was also a successful film, entitled 'an inconvenient truth' is being released very soon. his new book which expected to become a new york best seller,emphasises the need for political will if anything is to be effectively done on climate change. he covers a wide range of subjects like forest management,nuclear energy for generating power,geo thermal energy etc. these subjects were discussed and debated by him with likeminded experts which he refers to as "solution summits".
with the approaching copenhagen talks on climate change al gore's stock is likely to rise further.some of his critics ask whether his advocacy for reducing pollution has anything to do with swelling his own coffers. he is also a partner in a venture capital firm which has heavily invested in companies that are developing alternative energy sources and technologies which are energy-efficient.
al gore lobbies powerfully with members of the us congress for passing strict emission laws. sceptics who believe that this whole earth warming is all highly exaggerated, wonder whether he is doing all this for piling up a huge fortune.there is no altruism they say. recently al gore reacted to a critic by saying that if she thought greed was at play she didn't know him.
we need some al gores in india. i would like to see some carbon crorepatis in india who like al gore will push relentlessly the cause of climate change. our country would be a better place to live in.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
i had not heard of this expression ever before.my interest aroused,i researched a bit on the net to find out who are these people and why are they called extreme billionaires.they have money pouring out of their ears;but,they are bored with the hobbies of daily life.they are looking for major adventures and risky endeavours.things that give them a kick,a rush of adrenalin in their blood so to say.
one such guy is guy laliberte.he is the billionaire founder of a psychedelic entertainment group.he blasted into space on a russian rocket at a cost of us$ 35 million (rs170 crores).his trip lasted 12 days which included a nine-day stay at the international space station.he put on a 2 hour web show featuring himself in space and featuring some celebrities on earth.laliberte worked rigorously to pursue this hobby.he learnt russian,underwent intense cardiovascular training to get into space shape,mastered the use of instruments on the space vessel.
maverick ceo richard branson is another example of an extreme billionaire. he is creating his own private space agency.his travel company virgin galactic will start carrying passengers out of the the earth's atmosphere in 2011. cost of ticket? 200,000US$.(rs 1 crore). total flight time will be 2.5 hours like from mumbai to kolkata. branson has broken many records on sea and in air.
there are others in this extreme billionaires' gallery. roger penske the mughal of auto racing,larry ellison the founder of oracle and ernesto bertarelli who do extremes just to get the thrill.
beyond money, it is self-actualisation that these people seem to crave for.
gurpareet bains is a 32 year-old anglo-indian chef and a british nutritional therapist who has created the 'world's healthiest meal'. the meal consists of a chicken and blueberry curry with goji berry(the himalayan superfood) and pulao rice. it is claimed that it is a superfood that can help fight cancer.while the spicy chicken meal does the job of fighting the cancerous cells,others like ginger,chili,turmeric and garlic which are known for their antibacterial and antiviral properies do their respective jobs and in aggregate the meal can take on diseases like dementia,alzheimer's and cancer. each serving is supposed to contain the nutritional equivalent of 49 helpings of spinach,23 bunches of grapes or nine proportions of brocolli.it is according to experts 20 times more nutritious than any specially formulated healthy meal.the winning factor appears to be the combination of two genres of food stuffs-spices and fruits, both known for their exceptional health benefits.it took the indian "superfood" pioneer almost two years to make the meal perfect.
the scientific measurement of antioxidant in foods is done on a ORAC scale(oxygen radical absorbance capacity).this superfood contains 25,000 ORAC units.salads which come under the healthy foods umbrella have less than 5000 ORAC units. and do you know that a single teaspoon of cinnamon is the equivalent of two portions of grapes or a glass of fresh pomegranate juice? gurpreet has carefully chosen all the ingredients. for example,chicken has low fat.chilli helps relieve pain.turmeric keeps the heart,brain and joints healthy.
bye bye to greasy curry. welcome the new superfood.and await the best development chef's indian superfood cookery book showcasing the best in our superfoods and superspices. gurpreet bains is currently chef at 'indian superfood' and lives in bedford,uk.
the curry and rice according to food critics tastes pretty good.and costs only about rs 200 per portion.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
lakhpati and crorepatis are terms used for the rich in india.the former is for those whose wealth is more than a lakh of indian rupees. and the latter for those whose wealth runs into crores (one crore is equal to 100 lakhs).in the old days you could count on your fingers the number of crorepatis in india. today there are a dime a dozen.some have earned their riches using their entrepreneurial skills and with a lot of hard work,determination and luck.while others have made it on the fast lane by crookish means.the recent revelation of madhu koda,ex chief minister of jharkhand state is a case in point. rs 2500 cr scam says the cbi. it is surely much more than all that.he has swiss bank accounts,mines in liberia,companies in thailand and vietnem. that a tribal who started life as a porter could reach such dazzling heights of fortune in a very short period shows that there is something radically wrong in our system which is not able to detect such cases of fraud much earlier.
like these indian terms for the super rich,the english and americans have coined the words millionaire and billionaire.i thought till recently that the word trillionaire did not exist. when i googled to check whether i was right, i found a list of trillionaires too! (100 billion dollars). that is what is called mindboggling wealth.in the us and europe too some have earned their money rightfully while others have illgotten wealth. after all, greed like many other human qualities is universal.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
kofta is a vegetarian alternative to meatballs.a few days ago,i asked my cook whether he can prepare some kaccha kela(raw banana) kofta curry.i had read about it in some magazine and desired to taste a well cooked kela kofta curry. our guest house cook,rao,is a quick learner and quite a talented guy and is able to spin out some remarkable stuff. this latest desire of mine was met with great success. i found it tasty and it went well with the chappatis and basmati rice that i ate alongwith.
here is a recipe which i picked up on the internet and passed it on to rao. if you are interested in whipping one up, you may try it.. it is not difficult to make.only you have to be careful while making the kofta.
ingredients for kofta
raw bananas- 500 gm
besan- 2 tablespoons
green chillies-2 to 3 cut into small pieces
ginger-1 inch long
green coriander-i table spoon
salt to taste
oil-to fry the koftas
ingredients for the curry:
green chillies-2 to 3
ginger-1 inch long
cashew 25(soak in water for i hour)
cream- 2 tablespoons
turmeric powder-half teaspoon
dhaniya powder-1 teaspoon
red chilli powder-quarter teaspoon
salt to taste
garam masala-quarter teaspoon
green dhaniya-1 table spoon
method for the kofta:
boil the raw bananas in a pressure cooker. mash the bananas after they are well boiled.add besan,green mirchi,ginger,green dhaniya,paneer and salt.mix it up well. pour oil in a frying pan and heat.put the balls in the frying pan and keep on turning them till they turn brown.your kofta is now ready.
method for the curry:
grind finely the tomatoes,green chilli and ginger in your mixy.keep this paste separately in a bowl.
grind the cashews fine in the mixy.add cream and grind again. add oil into the frying pan and heat it up.add asfoetida and jeera and then add add turmeric poder and dhaniya powder after the jeer starts bursting. add the tomato paste kept in the bowl. add cashew cream paste and red mirchi powder and keep on mixing till the oil is fully exhausted. add 1 glass water in the masala and boil add salt and garam masala and mix well.now add the kofta in the mixture and allow to cook. in five minutes the koftas will become soft.
now the kela kofta curry is ready. dress with green coriander and voila! have fun.
Monday, November 02, 2009
idleness has its virtues. i have found that from practical experience. and not knowing what to do sometimes is very relaxing and destressing.i, therefore, recommend to every one to develop the habit of being lazy. but please don't go overboard on this recommendation. indulge in this luxury only at times. i am not espousing the cause of permanent laziness.
like getting up quite late on certain days,having coffee in bed,skipping your shave, enjoying a few mugs of chilled beer before lunch,having a siesta in the afternoon,listening to some soothing classical music and spending time in a spa in the evening.and playing with your children/grandchildren before going to bed.
and thanks to the latest gadget which prepares breakfast automatically you are in for some pampering for being lazy.
an omlette,toast,freshly squeezed orange juice and a cup of hot coffee-all by just pressing a button.design teacher 26 year old yuri suzuki and masa kimura of japan have designed and developed a fully automated 45 feet long real life breakfast machine.it is targetted at lazy people.the project cost suzuki only about 900 pounds sterling which is equivalent to about Rs 63,000.
suzuki,who studied in the royal school of arts,london says that he was inspired by hollywood films to create this cracking machine. almost eight decades ago,writer-philosopher bertrand russell in his eponymous essay,"in praise of idleness",provided all lazy guys a quote to justify their indulgence. he had a deeper meaning to convey though. he felt that the very purpose of the industrial revolution was getting negated. instead of lightning our burden and taking off our load of mundane activities,the new machines were only increasing our workload. instead of sitting and relaxing,man was working 24 x 7.
the creation of suzuki and kimura perhaps will to some extent ease our lives and may sooth bertrand russell in his grave.
the breakfast machine is fine.but how many have the space to put such a long machine in their homes? can not the design team of suzki and kimura condense it to a much smaller size?
perhaps,it may be a winner then.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
the title is an oxymoron.how can there be a chinese deepavali one would ask. after all,isn't deepavali a hindu festival? but then can you imagine a deepavali without chinese firecrackers. you cannot. 90% of the world's firecrackers are made in china. in liuyang city. and 80% of fircrackers made in india are manufactured in a small,dirty town south of temple town madurai called sivakasi,and some biggies have chinese consultants to help them improve their product profile and productivity. sivakasi entrepreneurs are a smart lot. they are now tieing up with chinese firms like jin yi fireworks,hangzhou international and zhezhang fireworks to obtain technology transfer and make firecrackers at low cost,higher volumes and of good quality.
the chinese have a long history of crackermaking.some sivakasi manufacturers have setup shop in china and from there they export the world over. exports from india are banned. like during ganesha or durga puja many of the idols are chinese made,crackers made for deepavali have a chinese stamp on them.
the birthplace of fireworks is generally recognized as china. the first explosive mixture- black powder was found when the sungs ruled china ( 960-1279 ). the story goes that a cook in ancient china found that a mixture of sulfur, saltpeter, and charcoal was very flammable and would explode if enclosed in a small space. the first application of this formula was for entertainment. as they say there was no looking back after this invention for the chinese.the chinese are the undisputed leaders in the production of fireworks. once the recipe for black powder was perfected, they found that it was easily used as rocket fuel, and they made hand carved wooden rockets in the shape of a dragon. these rockets shot rocket powered arrows from their mouth, and were used against the Mongol invaders of 1279. the principle behind these rockets is still used in rocket powered fireworks today.until the 19th century, fireworks lacked a major aesthetically essential characteristic: color. pyrotechnicians began to use a combination of potassium chlorate and various metallic salts to make brilliant colors. the salts of these metals produce the different colors: strontium burns red; copper makes blue; barium glows green; and sodium, yellow. magnesium, aluminum, and titanium were found to give off white sparkles or a flash.the science of pyrotechnics has now advanced greatly in germany and italy.
besides causing us sleepless nights by their claims in arunachal pradesh,buiding a dam across brahmaputra and intrusions along our borders,the chinese have also seeped into our religious and social events by providing modern and cheap idols and crackers for our religious festivals.new delhi has many feng shui stores scattered over the city selling idols of goddess lakshmi and ganesha.feng shui which symbolises channelising positive energy has another popular item-the shri yantra which is supposed to bring prosperity to the family. and the chinese have also adopted some of our food habits.consultants(there are about 50 of them in sivakasi) like wong chong liu love their idlis,vadas and dosas.
we better beware of the chinese dragon or sumo wrestler.it is an untrustworthy cracker.we might end up burning our fingers.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
22nd august is a day which orissans will not easily forget. a dance troupe from berhampur,a sleepy little town in east orissa,created a sensation,by winning the first prize in the 'india has got talent'reality show conducted by the colors channel.'yes,we can' was the mental power that drove the 26-member troupe of students,daily wage earners,small-time traders and two polio-affected children.the leader of the group is krishna mohan reddy under whom the group displayed mindboggling synchronization and dazzling choreography.
without any formal training in dance or theatre they put up an awesome performance with their presentation of 'dashavatara'-the ten incarnations of lord vishnu.and they won a cash award of rs 50 lakhs and a car.
earlier, a huge sms campaign was unleashed by bureaucrats,film stars,corporate houses and the general public in orissa to send favourable votes. even the chief minister openly campaigned for this group's success in the finals.
shekhar kapur,sonali bendre and kiron kher were in tears and spellbound to see the performance of these troupe members mostly from the lower sections of society.
nothing succeeds like success.the orissa government has decided to send them to london and new york in order to enable them "to gain more ideas about dance art."
the expenses will be borne by the orissa mining corporation.
the prince troupe has plans to set up a dance school with part of the rs 50 lakhs that it has won.well done princes,keep it up.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
"we make a living out of what we get,but we make a life of what we give"-winston churchill.
throughout india, the festival of 'joy of giving' was celebrated from 27th sep to 3rd oct. it was a great opportunity for people to loosen their purses and to give away their books, clothes,furniture ,utensils,old cycles etc for those not so lucky. i was very impressed by the statement that nandita das made who launched this event from bhubaneswar in orissa that the joy of giving cannot be described in words. nandita, the award-winning contemporary and graceful indian actor and film maker, is one of those in the film industry who has her head firmly in place and one who wears her heart so to say in her sleeves.
this event has been conceptualised by GiveIndia,a NGO. several other organisations joined hands with a private tv channel in orissa to give the event wide publicity. the whole idea behind this promotion is to encourage giving.anything can be given.the very act of giving encourages and motivates others to do the same and spreads the spirit of volunteerism.many individuals,schools,groups of people,clubs etc participated. it was a good feeling to see altruism spreading among the people.
people from all walks of life cutting across the country-stars,superstars,celebrities have all pitched in to do their bit in this philanthropic movement.ambika soni,of the congress party, aptly said that the joy of giving is more than the joy of taking.i too in my own modest manner sent money to a relation who was undergoing a major surgery. and i did a few other things like giving some old clothes to the needy. truly,the joy of giving has to be experienced.
"people who give more of their time,money,kindness,love and ideas have more of these things because that's the balance.and balance is the natural law of life."-masami sato.
Monday, September 28, 2009
of late,there has been a plethora of articles in newspapers and magazines on the benefits of drinking tea.companies engaged in processing and selling tea have a huge budget for advertising their products.some of them take even a fullpage in newspapers to advertise their products and the good effects of drinking their tea.unlike in the old days when tea was always taken with milk and sugar,health-conscious people have switched over to tea without milk or without sugar.and those who are prepared to go further in their quest for the elixir of life start drinking green tea.
after all isn't everyone going green these days? bollywood stars,ceos,cricketers and other sports and finearts celebrities say they love green tea.we all know that the chinese drink plenty of green tea. and one of the factors responsible for their longevity is supposed to be green tea.
what is it that green tea has which makes it such an attractive proposition? true,it has antioxidants in abundance.these are called catechins.they fight the free radicals and try to keep your body free of toxins.it was used especially against the headaches and depression.green tea is also supposed to have lot of skin benefits.because of their anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties they are likely to slow down the ageing process.
the chinese have been using green tea for thousands of years as a traditional medicine for wellbeing in general and in particular for severe skin conditions like acne and carcinoma of the skin.it fights successfully the harmful effects of the sun's ultraviolet radaition.and for those who are bothered by that white speck on their scalp,the hated dandruff,green tea is supposed to be a perfect medicine.
it is produced from the leaves of camellia sinensis. unlike black tea, it has a small amount of caffeine. caffeine causes insomnia, nausea and frequent urination.here is list of benefits of green tea which has been claimed by a researcher:
1) used to treat multiple sclerosis.
2) used for treatment and prevention of cancer.
3) used to stop Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
4) used to raise the metabolism and increase fat oxidation.
5) reduces the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks by reducing the risk of trombosis.
6) reduces the risk of esophageal cancer.
7) inhibits the growth of certain cancer cells, reduces the level of cholesterol in blood, improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol.
8) used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular diseases
9) used to treat impaired immune function. .
10) drinking green tea regularly may help prevent tooth decay by killing the bacteria which causes the dental plaque.
no wonder that with so much going for it everone is jumping on to the bandwagon.it is no more the preferred drink of the celebrities and superduper models only.longtime users claim higher energy levels,better skin,better hair,better digestion.and the best part of it is that you can have this endlessly. more the merrier.
i too have been struck by this blitzkreig.i have succumbed to the thought of becoming immortal. at least to live upto eighty,ninety, hundred. i drink green tea of different flavours-mint,citrus,jasmine with hot water and i don't waste the green leaves. i use it as an exfoliant for my skin. will i glow? maybe six months down the line,i could provide some answer.
swami ramdev baba is a controversial wellness guru in india. he has shot to fame in the last several years by aggressively marketing himself, pranayama and ayurvedic medicine which he claims is a near cure-all for every conceivable disease including aids and cancer.his detractors which includes brinda karat and a few mncs tried to put him in the docks by allegations of use of human skull powder in his ayurvedic medicines,child labour etc etc.his followers at the top saw that he remained un scathed. his programme on yogasanas broadcast daily on the tv network has an enviable viewership.his disciples and followers certify that they have got themselves rid of their diseases which afflicted them by simply following ramdev baba's advice.
the latest to certify his efficacy is sunita poddar of scotland.she and her husband sam have bought a 1.75 sq km island in scotland,wee cumbrae, for nearly rs 17 crores to set up a ramdev baba wellness centre.the island has been rechristened 'shanti dwipam'. sunita claims that after following ramdev baba's pranayam exercises she has got rid of her fourteen tablets per day medication.recently a havan was performed on the inauguration of this setup- an extension of the patanjali yogpeeth, where 350 indians and many curious locals participated to watch the person who is 'as big as the beatles' in action.
ramdev baba it seems is spreading his wings.he is going global.the baba who has a cult following in india is trying what mahesh yogi and rajneesh did successfully. whether he will be a winner is something to be seen.the baba's followers who had chartered a yacht a year ago for a three week programme of 'yoga on the boat' (vedic cruise) probably were not on high seas; with the baba seamlessly conducting the programmes in turbulent waters of the indo-china sea outside. the conchshaped scottish island of course is a different kettle of fish. quiet,rocky and with hardly any tree,ramdevbaba expects the place to generate a lot of peace.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
mahalaya amavasya is the day of the moonless night before navarathri. during the krishna paksha(the fortnight of the waning moon),hindus propitiate three generations of ancestors from both their parents' sides.the departed souls are believed to be living in pitruloka,a region between earth and heaven.it is ruled by yama,the god of death.during this period the ancestors leave their abode and descend to earth to live in the homes of their descendants.
water added with sesame seeds is offered to the deceased who are represented by 'bhugnas' made of dharba grass.normally darbha grass is collected on amavasya day in the month of 'simha' at the fag end of the monsoon from nearby lakes and tanks where they grow wildly. the grass collected on this day can be used for a complete year. these rites are done accompanied by the chanting of mantras.the sound vibration makes the effort more beneficial than otherwise.it is called tarpanam(tharpanam).it means to satisfy,to please.
in tarpanam,pitrus are installed on a five strand dharba(bhugna). the five strands represent the the five life elements.dharba is considered to have come to earth from the hair of the creator (parama purusha) in the process of creation.if one does this act with sincerity and devotion,one immediately feels very contended.in the 'manusmriti',tarpanam has been described as pitruyagyam.it is a sacrifice dedicated to the memory of the forefathers.it is said that forefathers look forward to the offerings.in the 'yamapuranam' it is said that yama frees all souls in the dark fortnight of the month of 'kanya'(september-october),to enable them to visit their children and accept the food that they offer.the risk of not performing tarpanam can be huge. they may invite the wrath of the forefathers and if cursed by them suffer the consequences." vricchika darsanaat yanti nirasa pitaro gatah". doing tarpanam properly ensures happiness and contentment. "dine dine gaya tulyam"-the ceremonies honouring the pitrus performed during this fortnight are considered to be equal to the ceremonies performed in the sacred city of gaya.every devout hindu is careful not to annoy his pitrus. otherwise,the old women at home will not give him a peaceful time!
there is an interesting legend highlighting the importance of donating food. 'karna' of the epic mahabharatha was a great donor of wealth.but he never donated food.after his death,he received plenty of gold and silver in heaven for his charitable deeds.but his soul was hungry and yearned for food. when he was alive, he never did tarpanam in memory of his ancestors.realising his mistake of not donating food and not doing tarpanam for his ancestors,karna pleaded with yama to send him back to earth so that he could make up for this shortcoming.yama agreed to karna's request. he breathed life back to him. karna returned to earth and this time fed the poor and offered tarpanam.when he returned to the nether region after expiry of 14 days he had food to his heart's content.these 14 days are celebrated as 'mahalaya paksha'.donating food on the amavasya day is considered to be the most important ritual!the easiest way to access to God’s grace is by feeding a famished human being starving for food, and donating clothes to him. donating food(annadaanam) is considered to be the greatest charity among all the charities.it is believed that the person who donates food would attain an elevated status in life!
the ancestors are happy alright but not the shopkeepers.their sales dramatically drop during this period.in fact, no important activity is carried out during this inauspicious period of 'pitrupaksha'.no new cars are bought,no new flats are purchased and no new films are released. everyone awaits the departure of the souls of the ancestors after they have been fully satisfied with the tarpanam offerings to commence their auspicious activities.
Friday, September 04, 2009
sunday is my happiest day of the week. i am under no pressure to get up early,i take my dogs for a long walk
and do not keep looking at the wallclock every now and then as i do on other days.i work on the home treadmill for half an hour and try to burn some calories.i remind myself that after all i need to lose atleast 10 kgs to remain fit. i have a leisurely and late breakfast,catch up with the latest news and film and book reviews from newspapers and magazines which i have not read during the week.lunch on sundays is usually bisibelebhath prepared very tastefully by gb.an afternoon siesta is not a must unless i am suffering from the previous night's hangover which is seldom the case.after lunch, i look into all my personal paperwork-investments,payment of bills,etc etc and normally ensure that there is no backlog.
it is time for the babies to come home.our two grandchildren arrive around 5 pm and fully engage us till about 7.30 when they leave. i sit with them and do some coloring,painting and even some puzzles.then i take our older grandaughter for fun and entertainment at the cooperage bandstand. incidentally,this garden dedicated to rajiv gandhi,has been nicely spruced up.she is uberexcited when she rides a horse. she makes 5 to 6 rounds on horseback and is never satisfied at the end of it.dil maange mor.then she sprints to the farther end and takes a few chakkars sitting on a wooden duckback and later climbs up the slide and comes down crashing. something that she enjoys. then when it is all over and the sun has set and it's time to go home she bids farewell: bye bye duck,bye bye swing,bye bye slide. carrying baloons in her hand and a bubble bottle she marches out triumphnatly watched by her doting little sister who watches her sister's antics with awe and wishfully waits for the day when her turn will come.
i am now ready to freshen up myself and do some blogging before it's time for dinner.now,wouldn't you envy me? i know i have had a great time.i have detoxified,destressed and recharged my battery for the full week ahead. i am not alone in this comfort zone on a sunday.
researchers at the University of vermont analysed 2.4 million blogs and internet messages to find out which days of the week we love the most by counting the number of positive and negative words used. sunday won the first prize as our most favourite day while wednesday got the booby prize.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
devotees of jainism observe an annual ritual of fifteen days called 'paryushan parva' culminating in 'kshama parva' when they confess to their mistakes during the year and ask all their family,friends and partners in trade for forgiveness. on august 24 they sought kshama(pardon) from one another. during these fifteen days,they live a life of purity and simplicity. between noon and 1pm they take a meal and live on that till the next day. a day after 'kshama parva' they live throughout the day on boiled water only.i have a jain business friend who sent me an sms on 'kshama parva' day seeking my forgiveness for whatever faults he might have committted during the year in his dealings with me.he ended with the words "micchami dukkhadam"(please forgive me for all the mistakes committed).i was quite surprised at the humility of my friend.
sometimes some people carry this noble practice to excess. a two and half year old jain boy inspired by his elder sister did 'paryushan' for the first time.it lasted 40 hours.he lived during this period only on boiled water.his father,a diamond merchant was proud and happy about what his son had done.this family has been doing 'paryushan' for the last 26 years.it is an old jain ritual and started some 1000 years ago.jains believe that fasting purifies the soul,kills greed and allows one to attain spirituality.
fasting and forgiveness are great virtues and almsot all religions have this practice in different variants. in the yajur veda there is a mantra which seeks the forgiveness of the supreme lord for all the sins committed in thought word or deed so that the body and self of the seeker become pure and that one can realise oneself as the light divine.
"to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you".
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
our daughter l recently expressed a desire to see a good hindi movie.when she asked for my suggestion, i recommended 'love aaj kal' or 'kaminey'.she opted for the latter.she is a shahid fan and i wasn't surprised.after all he is the chocolate hero.we landed up at 'inox' well ahead of start time. i was forewarned that if i missed the beginning,it would be very difficult for me to understand the story.'inox' is near home and has a genteel ambience.though i booked the tickets in the morning as soon as the counters opened,i didn't get the best of seats.when we were waiting for the doors to open,we quickly had some lovely icecream.she chose cookies with cream and i went for the guava which i thought was heavenly.and that was helpful. it saw me through the first half by keeping me cool.i just didn't know what the hell was going on.the movie was at a frentic pace,more than a dozen characters,each doing his own thing,leaving audiences like me in utter confusion. i had half a mind to walk out but then l insisted that i should be patient and that in the second half the plots will unravel and clear my confused mind.had she read any review or not i did not check with her,but as she predicted the haze got cleared and i did not repent having stayed back.
'kamina' in hindi means a crooked person.someone greedy.a rogue or a scoundrel.the film begins with a 'voice over'.charlie and guddie are morally incompatible twin brothers.played by shahid kapur.both hate each other and have speech impediments.charlie lisps endearingly and guddu stammers.charlie is a small time gangster.guddu works in a ngo.born and brought up in dharavi,asia's largest slum,the brothers lose their doting father while they are young.he gets involved in some petty theft and commits suicide.the brothers are devastated.guddu is a thinking person.he plans out his life till 2014 and displays it in a chart form in his room.enters sweety(priyanka chopra) on the scene who his head over heels in love with guddu. she wrecks his plan.she is the sister of a maharashtrian gangster politician bhope(amol gupte of 'taare zameem par' fame),who cannot live without his vadapav and his 'jai maharashtra' slogan which he belches out every now and then.sweety mothers guddu's child.hence the urgency to get married.the gangster cum politician brother comes to know about it and is furious and wants to stop the impending marriage.then there are three bengali brothers who fix the races in the mahalakshmi race course and charlie's alliance with them to make quick money.charlie gets doublecrossed by the jockey and furious to take revenge he chases him to a posh hotel to kill him.then there is the druglord tashi, two corrupt cops who kill three drugdealers and collect a guitar case supposedly having rs 10cr worth of cocaine.there is continous crossfiring between the cops and the gangsters in the hotel and charlie boots off in the police van which has the guitar case. charlie now thinks that his life is made. the crooked cops and bhope strike a deal.the bengali brothers on finding that their brother mikhail has been shot go on a killing spree and kill all of bhope's men.the police get hold of guddu and try to extract information from him thinking that he is charlie. they realise their folly. an exchange of captives takes place.the brothers meet and there is a huge clash.finally charlie saves guddu and gets shot. but he survives. he starts his offcial booking counter in the racecourse and settles down with his ex girlfriend. guddu becomes the father of twins! it is happy ending after a phenomenal show of gangsterism and stunning violence.
vishal bharadwaj of omkar fame and the new maverick of bollywood has writen and directed this film.another story on slum barons,police and politician nexus in the maximum city.the urge to get away from his wretched life to become prosperous and dignified drives charlie to lead a dangerous life.shahid kapur has come out with his best performance so far and gets into the A-list.priyanka chopra as the marathi mulgi acts below her normal standard.bhope is good in his characteristic style.some of the songs are very hummable."dhan tan tan" is the best of the lot.the cinematography is great.producer ronnie screwala has shown guts in introducing new age cinema to the indian audience.this movie also is having its share of controversy. a ngo has filed a defamation suit for hurting the sentiments of lord jagannath devotees for a scene iin which a semiclad model's picture is fixed on the toilet wall with the caption 'apna hath jagannath' running below it.
when we were coming out of the cinemahall, i overheard some young viewers saying it was "cool". one humorous guy said it was "fimply fuperb".song composer gulzar in an interview suggested that kaminey actually is a 'term of endearment'.when two persons have a healthy relationship they do address each other sometimes as kaminey with love and no malice.but to call someone 'kaminey kuttey' is really bad language.
to sum up, it is an edgy and cult film soaking in violence.it is a dark comedy. it is different,it's plot is complicated,it runs at a very fast pace and keeps you to the edge of your seat.if you want an adrenaline rush in your system you will enjoy it.'kaminey' is a box-office hit.i was told by a friend to take my brains along with me and not to leave it behind which one does for a run of the mill hindi film. for me one experience was sufficient. i wouldn't like to see it again. thank god my brain is in tact.
i arrived in raipur yesterday for a stay of two nights.i am doing some senior management staff hiring for my company and i decided to stay at the babylon international.it is an excellent hotel with all amenities including wifi.the restaurant serves very tasty north indian food and the buffet breakfast has a wide spread(never knew that conjeevaram idlis share honours with paranthas and other stuff).there is the coffeeshop which is mandatory for all 5 star hotels.there is also another all-vegetarian restaurant called 'rangoli' which i went to last night with a business colleague for dinner.
we were welcomed by a lady in traditional rajasthani dress.she applied the tilakmark on our foreheads.she suggested we order a thali as they were serving special rajasthani 'khana' that evening.we thoroughly enjoyed the delectable rajasthani cuisine.mildly spiced and no overload of ghee. butte ke putali was the starter. followed by aloo baigan ki sabzi,bhindi peanut poukra fried,ker sangari,special panneer,dal tadka,baati/choorma(rajasthani food is incomplete without this) and gulab jamun to tickle the sweet tooth. all simple marwari fare.but the presentation was elegant,service very courteous,items tasty and the ambience just the right one for the rajasthan theme for the night.
the transparent glass-enclosed kitchen gave a feeling of comfort to the diner as one could see the high standard of cleanliness and hygiene . we saw everything being cooked by the chefs who wore traditional rajasthani headgears.as we were seated right in front of the kitchen, we got the puffed-up phulkas at the right temperature too. see,smell and eat.that was the message. and we liked it.the papads helped us to digest all that we ate and the thin paans left a pleasant feeling in the mouth.
though i am not like my daughter l a true blue foodie,i think we got a bite of the desert.the rajasthani ambience was there all over with nicely decorated mewari glasswork hanging at different places adding to the colour and true rajasthani flavour.one thing was sadly missing though.the rajasthani folk music. the soothing and sonorous notes would have added greatly to the ethnic feeling that we experienced.