Friday, March 05, 2010
My India is a beautiful country----we don't have that many Seasons---Spring is very short---blink and it has turned into Summer!!!However the tiny bit of it that we get lasts barely a month.We make the most of it---it is known in India as "Vasant" and brings along cool balmy Breezes,splashes of Colour like the cascades of vibrant coloured Bougainvillaes,grapelike bunches of the bright Yellow Laburnum Blossoms,the sweetly scented "Raat Rani"(Queen of the Night) and the delicately scented "Surangi"(Orange Blossoms).
The Cuckoo is the Herald of Spring---hiding in the pale Green new foliage of the Trees---the scent of Mango Blossoms pervades the air---you'll be surprised at the number of Mango Trees we have in Mumbai---isn't it beautiful how Nature teaches us to survive anywhere--even in highly poluted mega-cities?The entire atmosphere around me is changing---I can feel the colourful burst of Spring everywhere!!!The Breeze is turning warmer---balmy---as it flows gently stirring the leaves and Grass outside my window.The Gulmohar Tree across the street has begun shedding it's leaves---readying itself for the burst of it's Orangey-Red blooms of Summer---the air is getting scented with the beautiful indescribable scents of the various types of Jasmine---Mogra,Zaaee,Zuee,Chameli,Sayali and the most potently scented of all-----Madan Baan(Cupid's Arrow)----it's beautiful scent is so powerful that a handful of this variety of Jasmine can scent the entire house!!!Garlands of these are sold at Traffic signals----their heady scent turns the otherwise poluted air into Heaven!!!
The Jacaranda is getting ready to thrust it's beautiful Purply-Blue flowers towards the Sky--which is changing from a deeper to a softer Blue--with fluffy white Clouds scudding along.The Peeple Tree is unfurling it's delicately Bronze new Leaves---they change colour daily---Bronze to Pale Parrot Green and finally Dark Green---the riot of colours is mindblowing!!!The heady perfume of Magnolia,the "Chaafaa" and the "Bakula" Flowers is rampant in the Flower markets.The "Chaafaa" is called "Swarna Champa"(Golden Flower) in Sanskrit---some people confuse it with the Magnolia---but this is a different species.Like the Rose it retains it's beautiful scent even when dried-----if the "Chaphaa" and "Bakulaa" Flowers fade and dry in natural surroundings,they retain their original scents---one can still smell the scent---of course a bit fainter when dried!!!
I love doing my daily Pooja(Worship)with these Flowers--the whole house smells wonderful!!!Luckily these Flowers continue to bloom even during the Monsoons---then they are joined by the delicate mildly scented Creamy Blossoms---- Orange stalked Flowers of the "Parijaat"---a heavenly Tree brought from Heaven to Earth by Lord Krishna for his Consort Satyabhaama.It is customary to offer these Flowers to the Gods in numbers---the most common being 100,001 in a single month---it is called offering a "Laksha or Lakh".These were tasks invented to keep the child Brides out of mischeif in the old days---besides it was a practical method of teaching those poor little girls Patience and Control over their childish minds!!!
I wish I could bottle the scented Air of my beautiful country and export it---I miss my daughters and Grand-daughter the most when I breathe in the Flower scented air of my home!!!
Thursday, March 04, 2010
There are some days when I just wake up all revved up and ready to go----today was one of those days.How I wish there were more days like this----the pace is set early in the morning--relaxed,unhurried and laid back---in short peaceful!!!
I awoke early in this morning---it was around 4.30 a.m. and I just lay back-------drifting along with my eyes closed,gathering my thoughts.As usual the first thought was of God--thanking Him for giving me a peacefully restful deep sleep---and to ask His Blessings on the new day.A hymn we sang in school always comes to mind when I awaken---I love it's words and it's meaning is just so beautiful!!
"Lord for Tomorrow and it's Needs,
I do not Pray
Keep me My Lord, from Stain of Sin
Just for Today.
Let me no Wrong or Idle Word
Keep me My Lord, from Stain of Sin
Just for Today!!!"
That done I began observing the World beyond my window sill---there was a cool Breeze whispering softly through the Trees and rustling their leaves on it's way---the star spangled Sky was gradually lightening it's hues of Indigo to Grey-----the Rooster next door let out it's rousing crow as the first hint of the Dawn started creeping into the Night----the Bird calls began---first muted and then slowly growing in Volume and Crescendo-----the dulcet sweetness of the Cuckoo bringing tears to my eyes---it's tones shine with sound----like liquid Gold!!!!I love the twittering of the Sparrows,the sighing of the Pigeons,the call of the Bul Buls and the lively chatter of the Parrots in the Almond Tree----I even love the croaking of Crows---- sights and sounds like these----are very dear to my heart---and the best start to my day!!!
By now I was fully awake---too early to get up though---Sudhir was fast asleep beside me---and I didn't want to wake him so I lay a-bed and listened to some more Morning sounds.There was the sound of the Tap running,Water filling the Buckets,footsteps of all those men who wash the Cars daily moving around, padding along under the Window---their hushed laughter and soft tones----jokes flying around I'm sure-----as slowly the Sky continued to lighten from Dark Grey to a pale touch of Grey and then gently began acquiring beautiful flushes of Violet, Rose and Gold.
The door bell rang---5.30 a.m.---the Milk Man was at the door with the daily delivery of Fresh Milk-----I collected it and began my routine----first propping my feet up on the Morning Walker----my feet began swaying to it's rhythm----according to the Advertisement----it seems it gives us the equivalent of walking 10000 steps in 15 minutes!!!!Placebo---or Truth--The Lord alone knows---that it energizes me each day is all I know!!!After this is my Yoga-----all the contortions and twists are easier early in the morning---actually or just my notion---I don't know---but the feeling after all this is very positive and invigorating!!!
I love it when I awake like this---my day really goes well on days like this!!!!By 6.45 a.m. I have managed to finish my excecise routine---another session is scheduled at 5p.m. on the Terrace---there wil be 5-8 of us trying to valiantly huff and puff our way through this routine.By now my lord and master is stirring so on to warming the Milk and making the Tea--the day has dawned in earnest now!!!
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Puran Polis and I have a love-hate relationship----I love eating them but hate making them----because I make "Puran Tukdas"(Puran Pieces) instead of soft,thin,silky Polis!!!Ritu just dropped off a batch of Puran Polis----she made them herself------and her association with them came to mind!!
Ritu has always loved Food-----Puran Polis is something that she adores----one of her very,very dear favourites!!!Mummy's Puran Polis were exquisite---to date I 've never eaten any that can even match hers----and so it was a red letter day for all of when these were cooked---more so for Ritu.She was the greatest consumer of these since she was allowed to eat solid food----and when just a few would remain---she'd quarrel with Mikki and me each time we wanted to eat one-----there used to be tears and tantrums galore!!!
As a way out Daddy suggested that Mummy make these regularly---exclusively for Ritu only---- till she tired of eating these----she was to eat them daily till then!!!So poor Mummy'd make dozens of these twice a week----Ritu'd empty the container before the next batch!!!This went on for at least a year---practice made Mummy's Polis even more delicious than before and Ritu became more addicted to these than ever-----while the rest of us lost interest in the Polis somewhat!!!!Ritu used to eat these for Breakfast,Lunch,Tea and Dinner DAILY and still ask for more!!!!
Mummy was getting tired of churning out Polis----her Marathi friends too were getting irritated---all her classmates who were Maharashtrian had begun throwing tantrums over the contents of their Lunch Boxes---"if Ritu's mother gives her Polis daily why can't you????"used to be their righteously plaintive grouse!!!
Like all good things this too had to end------Mummy firmly told Daddy that enough was enough-----tears or tantrums----whatever came from Ritu----Polis would be made ONLY on festive occasions and not otherwise!!!!Ritu was heart broken for sometime---precisely a day---because she was easily distracted by Mummy with another favourite Food---and the "Puran Poli Parva"or the "Puran Poli Chapter" in our home ended!!!
Today I can make the perfect Filling, knead the perfect Dough-----even assemble the two together into the perfectly stuffed ball---only while rolling these out,somewhere along the way,these break into pieces!!!Others make perfectly thin and round finished products from the balls I stuff----this aspect has perplexed me for so many years now----what exactly and where exactly do things go wrong????Poor Mummy tried so many times to teach me but somehow it just didn't work out!!Today Ritu does the best job of making these amongst us three---Mikki's okay too----but I'm a total non starter!!!
Today luckily making these has developed into a full scale Cottage Industry and is providing a good source of income to many needy women who excel in this art.These are supplied to various Shops and are sold in these Shops throughout the year---special orders too are taken by these people!!!It is definitely a boon for the younger generation---and old folks like me!!!!!
Monday, March 01, 2010
The sight of children playing Holi with a joyous abandon always transports me back in time----a really looooong way back!!!It reminds me of all the various pleasures that each Holi has imparted----makes me nostalgic for the days that were!!!
My earliest memories of Holi are of Holi in Chandigarh-----Mummy would rise early in the morning,wash her hair, bathe and start cooking the Puran Polis------the Traditional Sweet made in Maharashtra on this day.Her Polis were to die for---no one can make her type of Polis---soft,stuffed to the limit and melting in the mouth Polis!!!She'd be at it since dawn-----because people would start arriving at 7.30 a.m. onwards---everyone would be greeted with hot,soft Puran Polis---with lashings of home made fresh Ghee!!!Not just that--------she'd get smeared with handfuls of Powder Colours,soaked in coloured Water each year----but since it was Tradition, her early morning bath was a must--------each year she washed her thick long hair and bathed twice on that day!!!!We'd have wonderful time-------Daddy would sing beautiful old K.L.Saigal songs,Thumris by Begum Akhtar to the beat of the "Dholak"(Drum) and the atmosphere would be very vibrant and alive.We children would join the gang and go door to door----smearing handful of colours on people and spraying coloured Water through our "Pichkaaries"as the Water Guns were called(still are)!!!This went on till late afternoon-----food was no problem-----every house we went to would feed us their Holi special!!!Dahi Bhalley,Dahi Gujhiyas,Khoya stuffed sweet Gujhiyas,Ras Gullas,Gulaab Jaamuns,Jalebies with Rabri,Samosas,Kachories,Luchies and Aaloo Posto-----those names still make my mouth water!!!!
After I came to Mumbai in 1970 I began enjoying the" Mumbaiya" style of Holi----Traditional Pujas and food---laidback and graceful but deeply moving and lively---with Musical Concerts and Plays---Maharashtrians worship the art of "Naataks"as plays are called----the musical ones---"Sangeet Naataks"------are our Marathi Operas----with many revered Singing Legends!!!!In 1975 May, we shifted here---to our present home.This is a Cosmopolitan Condominium------Hindus----Marathis,Sindhi
s,Gujaratis,Marwaris,Punjabis---Muslims ,Parsis,Christians and Jews-------we became a mini India!!!As we came closer as friends our children too formed lasting friendships---and once again Holi became a boisterous event!!!
My two daughters were regular Holi revelers---coming home soaked to the skin and stained with different colours-----their faces would retain their different colours for at least two days after Holi----no matter how hard I scrubbed.Slowly the girls grew up,married and moved away----but the boisterous revelry continues.The children of their childhood friends--------my "courtesy" grandkids--------continue to play Holi in the same Garden with happy enthusiasm each year.
The Garden has a fountain in one corner----each generation of children uses that as a pool----they fill it with Water and dunk each new comer in it---the entrances and the entire ground get multi-hued and need a week to wash clean!!!!Not just that they shriek and shout at the top of their voices----the commotion is deafening!!!I love watching them playing Holi---their innocencent pleasure is writ large on their faces----simple and uncomplicated-----childhood is the best time of a human being's life!!!!!
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