Somethings are still the same

Last year I returned to India for good after living in US for nearly a decade. I came with fingers crossed thinking I will have tough time adjusting but Bangalore welcomed me with open arms. Though things have changed a lot in the city, some things have remained the same.

Ever since I returned I have become a staunch desi. I started using all Indian products soaps, moisturizers, shampoo, tooth paste etc.. Many of them haven’t changed at all. The scents are still the same. I was excited to use them back after a decade.

In Doordarshan Chandana my parents would watch That Anta Heeli quiz program before going to bed. The host Dr.Someshwara’s monotone would put me to sleep. It’s still being telecasted.

Since my teenage days I would eat at a shop in BSK 2nd stage. My favorite was samosa and jalebi. The taste is surprisingly the same.

My regular shopping adda 4th block Jayanagar and Gandhi Bazaar are still the same, the atmosphere hasn’t changed a bit. They are ever so lively. The road side sellers attract me, it’s nice to peek at their shop while walking.

For the first time in 10 years I was in mango and jack fruit season. The king of all fruits – mango is exceptionally good. I relished all types of mangoes this season. Not just mangoes but jack fruits as well. I hogged like I have never eaten before.

Somethings never change. I am so glad for that.

Dear old things

These few months I have been overly using my phone. I have installed a bunch of apps and keep browsing. I watch movies on Netflix, YouTube, browse news and do all sorts of things on my mobile phone. Day before yesterday my phone stopped charging. It didn’t happen all of a sudden over night but it had swollen like a pregnant woman. The screen had also come out of the phone chassis. I think it was counting days, I was scared that one day it might lose out and blast. But luckily that didn’t happen. Not only did it stop charging but also there was no service.I had no other way but to immediately buy a new phone. I went to the store and got myself a new one. The store attendant said my old phone might have over charged.

My point here is phones doesn’t last long in my hand. If they last for 3 years then I am lucky. I think I am unscrupulous when it comes to handling things. The previous phone fell off my pocket when I was walking listening to music and somehow pulled the ear plugs and before I realized the phone hit the ground and phew the screen cracked.

On the other hand recently I heard my mom telling how certain things have lasted a lifetime. There are several things in my house that have been a part of our life since bygone days. To name a few the kitchen utensils, grinder, bathroom drums or even a small box in which we keep threads and needles. It all depends on the way one handles things. My mother became emotional over good old things and kept feeling nostalgic. Sometimes we even get attached to old things which come a long way with us. I was so not ready to dispose my tape recorder, cassettes, my two wheeler, my cycle, but we had to when we moved to new place. Sometimes it’s hard to let go. For instance when we were clearing out our kitchen, I was so not ready to let go of this one utensil for it brought back the memories like I got it when I first went to US, and then I cooked my first curry in this and I served the guests in the same vessel in first party. It reminded me of all the happy moments I had with it. Just because now that it’s useless and old, I was not ready to let go.

But the same is not with my phone, somehow it gets damaged and I have to buy a new one within an year or two. And then I have to go through all the hassle of installing all the apps all over again. I wish I could be more careful in handling phones and that they last long. Not only do I need to be careful but also these days electronics are not durable. I have a feeling that the quality has deteriorated with time. Not just the phones but be it the mixer, grinders, refrigerators etc. They give up soon. I am hoping this phone will last for many years to come.

Monks and the mandalas

Yesterday evening as usual I went for evening walk. As it was Varamahalakshmi festival, many houses had mandalas in front of the houses. One house had taken little extra effort to fill in colors. As I walked appreciatively, I observed people who visited the house walking all over it without noticing. Suddenly it reminded me of the Tibetan monks.

If you are wondering what has mandalas got to do with Tibetan monks, well they have a ritual. They draw intricate mandalas sitting for hours together only to destroy it in the end. One might think why? The significance behind this ritual is to say that “nothing is permanent in the world. Everything that is created is destroyed and return back to earth”.

Throughout my walk I was thinking about it. If they have to anyway destroy, why not just kill a plant or animal or perhaps cut a tree. If you are saying that monks follow ‘ahimsa paramodharmaha’ ( non violence is our Dharma), one might be surprised to know that Dalai Lama is a non vegetarian. When I heard it first time, it came to me as a shock since I thought Buddhist monks are mostly vegetarians. I came home and Googled about these mandalas. It came out that it had more significance than I had thought.

One kind of sand mandala is Wheel of Life – or Kalacharkra in Sanskrit. In the middle there are 3 animals, a snake, a rooster and a pig on a blue background which represents nature of human mind. The three animals chase each other which depicts cause of our sufferings. Pig in turn symbolizes ignorance, snake anger and rooster greed. The center is surrounded by yin and yang, dark and light areas. The light areas represents those who are striving hard to lessen the effect of darkness like the poisons greed, ignorance and anger. The dark areas represents those suffering as a result of the poisons. The third circle is divided into 6 realms, we are reborn again and again like Heaven, Demigods, Humans, Animals, Hungry ghosts and Hell. The outermost ring is divided into 12 parts representing 12 phases of human consciousness. We have a spiritually blind man to begin with, followed by potter who represent our daily deeds, the monkey in the tree represent the monkey mind that is untrained and constantly shifting attention, a boat rocking in the waves represent instability in our life be it physical, spiritual and intellectual. The empty house with 6 shuttered openings represent our 6 senses. The amorous couple symbolizes desire. The man with an arrow in his eye represent feelings, wounded by emotions and subsequent sufferings. The image of person drinking wine and dreaming of object unattainable. The pregnant woman symbolizes new life, birth.

So when the monks create mandalas, it carries all these meanings and finally when they wipe it out it means all the above will be destroyed. Destruction and death are inevitable. Creation and destruction as birth and death constitute wheel of life. The one that is born today has to die tomorrow. The one that dies will be reborn.

I felt like writing about these monks and mandalas because I experienced a similar thing in my life couple of years back. That’s when I first read and came to know about this ritual in order to pacify myself. I am an Origami artist, I did Origami for nearly 7 years. I dedicated my time devoted myself into Origami. Here’s my website Art For Fun. I loved the art form so much that I completely surrendered to it. It was more than an art for me, it was about healing mind, meditation, mindfulness, concentration and a great stress buster. One day something bad happened in my life associating with Origami which unfortunately got deeply etched in my mind. I went through depression, saw therapists and started taking prescription drugs. Then one fine day it got so intense that I could not stand sight of my Origami models. I went hysteric and threw away everything, literally 5 big boxes of my art work. I had worked so hard day and night and had spent thousands of hours into it. I could have donated it to a school or given to my friend who asked for her event management company. But I just dumped it in garbage. It lay there as I walked for several hours. After a few weeks when I regained my consciousness it hurt me, I missed it, I cried profusely. It was pretty much like monks creating mandalas and destroying it. That’s when I realized nothing is permanent in this life. It was a life’s lesson to me. Most of the times life teaches us lesson the hard way. I didn’t touch Origami papers for many years after that. I thought I will stop the art and took up sketching. But today, I am so over it and try to do small projects. I take it as a life’s lesson and move on. Thanks to the monks and mandalas.

To write this article I referred to Losang Samten’s(a former Buddhist monk, Tibetan-American scholar and mandala artist) website and youtube video.

Shrimaan Shrimati

Do you ever watch a show over and over again? Well I do. If I can name one such show, it is Shrimaan Shrimati. It was aired on DD Metro in the 90s. All the episodes are available on Youtube. Recently like two years back I discovered it on Youtube and watched all the episodes. Nostalgia kicked in. I reminisced my good old school days when we had a carefree life.

The plot of the comedy show Shrimaan Shrimati is simple. The concept is based on “Love thy neighbor’s wife”. The couple Kokila Kulkarni(Koki) and Keshav Kulkarni(Keku) with their son Chintu live next door to famous movie star Prema Shalini and her husband Dilruba. Keku, who is attracted to Prema Shalini’s glamorous life style always has an eye on her while Dilruba, who is a house husband, hits on Koki. Dilruba is not satisfied with Prema Shalini’s stardom and wants a housewife like Koki. Keku works in a office under boss Sharma. His co-workers are IBM Lakshmi, Miss Joshi and Poonawala. In here he has a best and most loyal friend Gokhale who always comes up with ideas to help Keku. Ganga mausi(aunt), whom Keku dislikes, is Koki’s friend and neighbor who always drops by their house and has a brawl with Keku. Thus the story revolves around these characters.

It is such a low budget production, unlike today’s high budget and glamorous shows. Even though it’s low budget it has got exceptional creativity. The make up and costumes are simple with characters having amazing chemistry. I have watched each episode like a zillion times, but still laugh to the jokes. It has got to do with the flawless acting and dialogue delivery by the renown actors. This is one show I can watch any day any time without getting bored. It kind of pumps up the emotion during my low days. It has been more than 20 years since the show aired on TV but to this day it remains unparalleled.

When I was googling about the actors Reema Lagoo, Jatin Kanakia, Rakesh Bedi , Archana Puran Singh and others to see what they are up to these days, I was shocked to know that Jatin Kanakia died very early in 1999 due to pancreatic cancer. The show ended because of this. It shocked me, I never imagined the most talented actor who made people laugh gave away life so soon. He always reminds me that life is short, make it sweet with humor. I bow to the star cast for presenting us the wonderful show though it ended soon. I wish there were more episodes. Shows must be like this, it should end at the right time leaving viewers wanting for more episodes.

Here’s the beautiful title track:

Deciding on what to write

I do lot of things impulsively. One of them is creating this blog without thinking what I would be going to write. So when I created this blog I had no plan in my mind. I didn’t have a subject or a theme, I just clicked few buttons and voila this blog got created. Now I don’t know what to blog in spite of having a strong desire to blog everyday. There’s lot of information floating around. I feel may be I can blog about something, but then I feel I can finish that in few lines or don’t know how to write elaborately. Sometimes I feel like writing about myself, my depression or accidents in my life, like I have seen so many bloggers do, but then that means giving out lot of things about me. If someday my kith and kin bump into my blog and find out, it’ll be a disaster. Or even if a malicious person finds out too many info, I’ll be vulnerable.

So I’m stuck everyday between my strong desire to write and nothingness. Long back I had a similar blog, but back then WordPress would have a daily prompt where they would provide subject. When you know what to write on, the war is half won. Now I go looking for such websites which hosts prompts, but with not much luck.

Whatsoever I love to be in this blogging world. It’s so nice to meet so many interesting people. What if I can’t write everyday? I read so many peoples blogs who write so well. There are many people whom I have been following for years and they don’t even know that they have a secret admirer. Well there’s no harm in leaving a comment or like, which of course I do, but many a times it goes unnoticed. Thus I’m a secret admirer to many blogs. I know so many things about them. They are like my online friends. When they describe about their experiences, I feel for them. I feel happy when something good happens and bit sorry otherwise.

Thus everyday I log in and appreciate my so easily available freedom to express. I should perhaps take a writing class or something like that.

Disha Bharat

Disha Bharat is an NGO based out of Bangalore. They offer personality development program for college students. I came to know about Disha through my friend who quit his well settled and high paying job to serve for the community. When I moved to India and was thinking of various options about my career, I considered joining this organization. They inculcate patriotism in young minds and conduct sessions to share students problems and concerns. Their motto is “know your country, know your culture and know your self.” Many faculity members working there have great satisfaction about their work. At least you are working for something good and contributing to the welfare of society.

On the eve of 74 th Independence day, Disha Bharat is conducting a online fest for all the college students. The event is for about 15 days starting from 1st of August till Independence day. Participants can dance, sing, debate or give talk and many more. It’s going to be interesting and I look forward to the event.

Netflix addiction

Ever since I got Netflix connection my other activities has drastically reduced. I had so may things in my To Do list. When my contract ended untimely due to Covid situation, I decided to spend more time in doing artwork. I wanted to sketch more and buy oil pastels and wanted to start learning painting. I also bought few books to read during my leisure. I was happy that I had all the time in the world. But then I got Netflix connection. It totally corrupted me. My creativity came down, all my To Do list went forgotten. I started watching movies back to back and started binge watching Gilmore Girls and Big Bang Theory. Yes, some part of me still miss US. It was a pretty big step moving from US to India. The friction still exists inside me and I fight with it everyday. But coming back to Netflix, I wonder how it took all of my time. When I come to think of it, I wonder how much the modern day tele soap operas has occupied our life. Of course one needs entertainment but has the reading habits considerably reduced in people. I remember my mother would go to city central library and borrow books every week. We subscribed to weekly magazine Taranga and she would exchange it with Sudha, another weekly magazine, from our Neighbor. Those were the days when Doordarshan was the only solace. If there were no Cable TVs and the melodramatic soap operas, I think the house makers would devote their time in something that made sense and constructive like taking up a hobby. From my example I understand how the folk art and many other form of art is slowly getting forgotten. It’s sad they are becoming history. When we had Doordarshan as our only option, every week for half an hour story we would wait with all the excitement in the world. Gone are those days. Things have changed so much now. Everyday the TV starts at 6 in the evening and ends at 11 or 12 pm with crime stories. I wonder how one can watch such disturbing things before going to bed!! I hope I do not become a victim of such soap operas.

Recently read books

These are some of the books I have read over the last 10 months. All the books are in Kannada, my mother tongue. I feel very nice visiting Total Kannada book store in Jayanagar 4th block or Ankita book Store in Gandhi Bazaar. I love to hold a new book, feel it and then smell the pages. I don’t get this experience while reading e-books. There’s a second hand book store called Blossom books in MG Road. But I didn’t hesitate to spend money on new books since I wanted to contribute to Kannada literature and encourage our writers.

Most of the books in above list are that of KN Ganeshaiah. It so happened that one day in Ankita book store I asked the attendant, what’s the bestseller these days and she gave me ‘Raktasikta Ratna’ by K.N.Ganeshaiah. I totally loved the book for it is so gripping that I din’t want to keep it down until I finished reading. It’s a thriller story based on historical events and tales. Enchanted by the book I bought many others by the same author. They are like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons.

Reading book is one of my favorite pass times. I can go on reading for 4-5 hours a day or more than that if the book is immensely gripping. One day I dream to quit my job and dedicate my complete time to yoga, reading and pursuing art. These days I have heard many people quit their high paying jobs and take up their passions. Working in software industry can get frustrating and weary over a long period of time. It’s always nice to have a back up.

Mom’s Akki kadabu

Today I am going to give away my mom’s recipe to make Ukkarisida kadabu(steamed momos) or akki kadabu (rice flour momos). The closest dish I can associate with this is momos. Every year on Nagara panchami festival, my mother prepares this delicacy. I happened be in Bangalore after many years. I had time and excitement to take detailed note of the steps and photos. Hence for today’s post this is the subject.

Firstly to start with soak all lentils in water. My mom soaked channa dal (split bengal gram), urad dal(black gram), toor dal(yellow pigeon peas) and Moong dal(mung beans), one cup each for 3-4 hours. Then wash thoroughly and drain water. Keep it aside.

For the dough keep 4 cups of water for boiling in a kadai. Add salt and coconut oil.

Take 3 or 3.5 cups of rice flour and slowly add to the boiling water while continuously stirring to avoid lumps. Simmer the stove, cover a lid and let it cook for 5 min.

To prepare stuffing for khara kadabu (spicy momos), coarsely grind the soaked lentils. Add chopped green chilies, ginger, curry leaves, coriander leaves, asafoetida and salt. Mix well.

For sweet stuffing, mix freshly grated coconut and jaggery thoroughly and stir on stove for 5 min.

Knead the rice flour dough thoroughly after it cools down. Make small balls and flatten it using a plate or some flat surface. My mom used two milk covers, greased it with oil, placed the ball in between them and pressed it with a plate. Take a spoonful of stuffing and place it on the dough and cover it.

Place the resulting raw kadubu in a pan.

Steam it in a pressure cooker for 15-20 min without the whistle. Allow it to cool down and voila spicy and sweet akki kadabu is ready.

Yoga for living

I live because I have no other choice. Ah!! Such a pessimistic statement. But true, perhaps we die also because we have no other choice or even for that matter we are born for we have no choice. They say if life gives you lemons make lemonade out of it. I got a dozen or so lemons but I failed to make lemonade. Everyday for the last one year or so I wake up with a sinking feeling as though I am getting crushed like lemons. In this fight with my life and lemons, Yoga has been a solace, a blessing. I met a very nice neighbor who was kind enough to teach me Yoga. I was enthralled to learn something new especially our own art form. Everyday we would wake up at 6 am and start yoga(in empty stomach no coffee no nothing) around 6:15 am for one hour. It’s very hard to wake up so early but once we started I would be totally awake.

Early mornings muscles are generally stiff not relaxed, well at least for me. We basically start with some warm up exercises like shoulder, neck rotation, trikonasana etc for about 5-10 min. After that we do Suraya namaskar, each set 5 times, followed by crunches, some sitting aasanas(poses) like Baddha konasana, paschimottanasana, pavana muktasana, sarvangasana and halasana. The poses we do are provided in the below charts. (Picture courtesy provided in the end)

We go to shavasana intermittently whenever we need to rest for few minutes. The last one is pranayama anuloma, viloma, kapalabhati and lastly omkara and bhramari to wind up. This last set of exercises is mostly meditation. We sit in padmasana or ardha padmasana and close our eyes and take deep breaths , chant Om and Um sounds.

The benefits cannot be achieved in one or two days but definitely on a long run one can notice significant change in mindset and lifestyle. I have been doing yoga, the same sets I mentioned above, for the last one year now. My periods pain, muscle cramps has totally reduced. Every morning I wake up so I have something to look forward to. It has filled some confidence and positivity in me. My routine is disciplined and I start the day with a good note. These days I watch and get inspired by Baba Ramdev videos on Youtube. In this Covid Situation I take the benefit of staying at home and learning some simple poses every week. The way we live each day is definitely our choice.

Picture Courtesy: