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Sayali------and the Langurs!!!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The British have left behind a legacy of small towns situated on higher Altitudes commonly called----Hill Stations.These hill stations are widely spread over the Hills and Mountains of India and during the British Raj used to be the seat of Governance----the British had devised this manner to negate the hot dusty Summer of the Plains as well as an escape from the burning hot Summer Wind called "the Loo"------ something like the European "Mistral".The entire local Government machinery would shift lock,stock and barrel to these places for 6 months---returning to the Plains in the Autumn.Shimla,today the capital of Himachal (Land of Snow) Pradesh was then British India's Summer Capital.Today this State has turned all these beautiful summer Residences into Tourist destinations and very popular these are too-----during both Summers and Winters.These act as a reprieve from the Summer heat during Summers and provide snowbound Skiing destinations during the Winters. Himachal Pradesh is totally situated on the mountain tops and slopes------and boasts of many such beautiful locations.Dalhousie is one such stunningly beautiful scenic small town.Thick with Decidious Trees and Evergreens,it is home to many Boarding Schools well known all over India.It is also a growing tourist destinaytion---becoming very popular day by day.We visited this in 1994 and 1997 during the Summer Vacations---during the month of May.
On both our visits we stayed in the Government Rest House called "Gitanjali".This was built as a Circuit House by the British and was converted to a Rest House after they left.Having huge but limited number of rooms with attached Baths these have a beautiful view of the Valley below and the snow capped Mountain Range surrounding the spot.This is a little below the Road and a stiff climb is necessary upto the Road.Surrounded by thick Trees and Foliage this area is also home to tribes of black faced Monkeys called the Langurs.
Sayali loves the Biscuits available locally all over India---she ensures a stock of these because being local they're not available in Mumbai.She had stocked up a whole bagful of these Brands on the way to Dalhousie.On reaching our room on the first floor(American second) we flung the windows open and were stunned by the scenic beauty visible from there.Leaving the windows open, we went to the Dining Room to Lunch-----a "propah" British Meal and returned to find the bag of Biscuits open and torn------and the Langurs all over the place------ stuffing Biscuits into their mouths!!!Sayali lunged at them------- letting out a howl of rage which turned into a tearful wail----90% of her precious stock was gone!!!!Those Langurs had stuffed whole packets of Biscuits in their cheeks------and had the audacity to sit on the thick branches opposite the Window-----and stash these into the hollows in that Tree-----chattering and scolding poor woe begone Sayali all the while for interrupting their raid!!!The windows remained shut for the remainder of our stay------and each Tea time Sayali mourned her lost Biscuits---they were just not available in Dalhousie!!!!
The second incident took place on our second trip there---this time Lotta and Meha too were with us.Having learnt a lesson during the earlier visit we took care to close the windows and store all the Food in the Cupboards----we were having a good Vacation-----taking long walks,drinking in the scented Mountain air and generally relaxing.Sayali has another weakness----Ice Candies(Lollies)and a certain brand of these was only available locally-----in Dalhousie.So during the 10 days we were there Sayali---like the proverbial Camel----wanted to eat as many of these as she could----and thus used to consume these in large numbers.On one such buying spree she bought herself 2 Ice Candies and was busy paying for these.A Langur had been watching her-----his eyes on the Candies and seeing her busy paying for them--------he suddenly swooped down in a flash---and snatched the Candies from her grasp in a trice!!!!Adding insult to injury he began chattering at her and grinning------Sayali was almost in tears and there were hysterical spectators all around---having a hearty laugh at her expense!!!Even today she still ruefully grins at the memory------the Langurs are the local goons----spreading total terror in their wake!!!!

  
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SAASHA17 3/19/2010 12:07PM

    hhah...reminds me of my encounter with monkeys...

when i was a kid, we visited tirupati every year..and one year, I asked my dad to let me carry the fruit basket which we offered to lord balaji...he did warn me about the monkeys and stuff but I still took it..

I saw some monekys in front and hid the basket behind me and well didnt know that it was a trick they played on everyone and a huge monkey came from behind and snatched the basket away...hehehe and the worse thing is as u said, they would grin and chatter ..like pouring salt over ur wound..lol..but i love them....they peel the bananas so cutely..esp the younger ones...

hehe

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ZANNACHAN 3/19/2010 11:27AM

    Too funny! At least in retrospect--I imagine Sayali was devastated at the time! Like Eachdayagift, it reminds me a bit of racoons--though unlike her, I've never had them break into my car!

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EACHDAYAGIFT 3/19/2010 9:22AM

    Sooo funny! Poor Sayali! Has she forgiven them, or have Langurs become her lifelong nemeses?? This reminds me of our run ins with raccoons. When we were a young couple we camped a lot, both because we loved it and because it was all we could afford if we wanted to vacation. One year we decided to pre-buy a weeks worth of groceries rather than shopping at our destination. In the morning, we emerged from our tent and opened the trunk to find missing food and muddy pawprints. Looking into the surrounding woods, we found wrappers strewn about. They had entered through the rusted hole near the wheel well, made off with their booty, and hosted a party in the woods!

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Early Summer

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The day has started becoming longer----Summer has begun making it's presence felt all over the city-----there is a change in the atmosphere!!!!The Gul Mohar across the road has shed it's leaves in readiness for it's blazing Orange Red Blossoms and the Yellow Bunches of Laburnum are creating a splash next to it.The Bougainvilllae is spilling over in frothy cascades of Shocking Pink,Orange and Peach over the compound wall-----vivid splashes of Colour everywhere!!!
The Garden outside our windows has begun to flower---small buds have begun appearing on the Mogra shrubs---the scent of the Night Queen(Raat Rani)has begun to pervade the night air.The nights too are warmer----and the Dawn breaks earlier these days----the promise of it turning into a scorching Summer is very obvious!!!
All the Winter Vegetables are slowly fading away from the markets---the limited range of the Summer fare is slowly but surely coming to the fore.Saw "Raat aambaas"(Mangosteens)in the market the other day---the thought of making Amrut kokum at home crossed my mind---but I shrugged it away---too much bother!!!Bought loads of Lemons instead and made a Lemonade Concentrate-----easier to make---less tiring!!!will be getting raw green Mangoes too to make "Panha" Concentrate with Jaggery---prefer that to using Sugar---both contain Sugar but at least Jaggery gives Calcium,Iron and some more Minerals-----not just empty calories!!!Besides offering homemade stuff to one's guests is a great feeling---rewarding!!!!
I love all the Seasons and in Mumbai Summer is wiltingly hot----the Sun pours out hot Molten Sunshine-----and the City swelters----but despite all this heat it remains as vibrant as ever----humming away with vim and vigour!!!!

  
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SAASHA17 3/18/2010 11:49AM

    Komal,

I am coming there now...ur blogs make me hungry and thirst and happy...hehehe...

emoticon

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ZANNACHAN 3/18/2010 11:29AM

    That sounds positively lovely. Here, it's all very brown--the snow has melted, but the grass has yet to turn green, the trees to bud, and most of the spring flowers haven't even broken the ground yet. Soon, though. Spring is definitely on it's way.

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MESSENE 3/18/2010 9:04AM

    emoticonI Love vibrant people! It kind of reminds me of Mexico. During summer we had lemonade and lot's of fruits like pineapple, watermelons, and mango's everywhere we went. The smell of flowers in India must be beautiful! emoticon
Have a wonderful day! emoticon emoticon

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Adventure in Gulmarg,1983

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"If there is Paradise on Earth,it is here,it is here,it is here"is what the Moghul Emperor Jahangir is supposed to have said about Kashmir-------and it is absolutely true.Those who have visited this Valley have fallen in love with it------the beauty of it's people,Nature--------even it's very Air is scented with a fascinating but elusive perfume!!!We visited this Valley in May,1983-------it was an extremely memorable Vacation------literally a dream come true for us!!!
Like all Tourists we too had an agenda of Sight Seeing------ the beautiful Ski slopes of Gulmarg being one of those on top of the list.On this trip we were also accompanied by a friend of Sudhir's and his family------Chhatre, his wife PushpaBen and his children---Sameer and Sonal.The 8 of us along with Mingoo and Tina had contracted a very nice man named Mushtaq to take us around the Valley in his Ambassador Car.It was decided to visit Gul Marg first because it was still covered by a thick layer of Snow---ensuring that the children could get Sledge rides down the Ski slopes.We climbed up the slopes and reached the top of the slope----gazing around with delight----we were actually on the top of one of India's favourite Film locations---both Pushpa Ben and I were busy pointing out the spots we remembered from various Bollywood Films!!!!Finally the moment to go down the slope arrived and much to my dismay I discovered that one had to sit behind those Sledgewallahs and hold on tight to them while they guided the Sledges down the slope!!!!
I just couldn't cling on tight to a man I didn't know from Adam------so I refused to do it---was extremely firm and adamant!!!Besides where was I to keep my two four legged Babies?????Finally the guy got the message and sailed down the slope----I was left alone on the top---with my heavy Purse and my two Babies.I'm a bit touchy about such things--always have been extremely conservative---add the influence of the Nuns and my Convent School background to it as well perhaps!!!
Sudhir was already ready to explode when he saw that I hadn't come down----all of them were looking like tiny Match Stick figures down below.I'm not a person who thinks too much in such situations---I act!!!So I tucked my Silk Sari tightly around my ankles(I wore only Saris back then),hung my purse round my neck,tucked an excited , wriggling fat Tina under my right arm and a nervous,tense wiry Mingu under the left arm and kicked off----my fat backside acting as my Sleigh!!!Just imagine the sight---2 squealing Lhasa Apsos with their ears flying back and a fat 90kgs+ Sari clad woman hurtling down the Snowy slope on her bum at great speed-----AND heading the wrong way-----straight towards a chasm!!!!
My poor Sudhir was literally crying in frustration---and was trying to rush up the slope in the soft Snow to pull me the right way---an impossible task because he weighed just 62 Kgs. to my 90+Kgs. and besides I was already in motion------I remember thinking of a way to throw my Babies and the Purse towards him while passing him----- when I suddenly changed direction-----to the right path!!!There was a Snow covered Boulder which broke my headlong flight and veered me towards the correct route-------guess as usual The Almighty had kept his eye on me!!!!
The next two days were spent just listening to recrimanations and and arguing back---a total waste of the limited number of days we had in Paradise!!!!Today also the record starts---so I don't bring up the Topic---a bit difficult even today to shut him up once he starts!!!!

  
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*MADHU* 3/17/2010 11:39AM

    emoticon emoticon

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ZANNACHAN 3/17/2010 9:04AM

    Oh my, that's hysterical! I can just see it, too. What a great story emoticon

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EACHDAYAGIFT 3/17/2010 9:01AM

    P.S. Is Kashmir where the goats come from whose wool is used to make cashmere?

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EACHDAYAGIFT 3/17/2010 8:59AM

    This was so hysterical... doesn't Sudhir laugh at the memory by now? My favorite line was where you were devising a plan to hurl your pets and chuck your purse toward him as you hurtled to your potential demise. Such a quick thinker, Komal! I just love you and your strong will and boldness! So, did you have to sit in a wet sari all day while you were lectured? Oh my gosh... I am still bursting out laughing every time I picture this wild, sledless sledding. This scene definitely needs to be incorporated into a movie comedy. It needs no embellishment.
emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/17/2010 8:59:47 AM

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Seeta

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All the Hindus begin their New Year today on Chaitri Pratipada as it is known.This day is also celebrated all over India as being the day that Rama arrived home in his kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years exile in the forest.Many people observe a fast for the next nine days and this is also called the" Rama Navratri" or the nine nights of Rama as his birthday falls on the 9th.day of this month.
Me, I am more of a Seeta person who was Rama's wife.Why people worship Rama and call him an ideal is beyond me.A man who abandoned his preganant wife in the Forest just because a washerman(Dhobi) cast aspersions on her character is beyond me----least he could do was to ensure her safety!!!Amma used to tell me stories from the" Ramayana" the epic written by Rishi Valmiki in verse form.The travails of Seeta have always wrung my heart.Married to Rama she accompanied him into the Forest---- exiled by her step mother-in-law Kaikeyi who wanted the throne for her son Bharata.This couple was accompanied by Rama's younger brother Laxmana.Bharata followed Rama and placed his "Paadukaa"or slippers on the throne and acted as Regent till his return.While in the forest towards the end of their exile Rama caught the fancy of the Demon Princess Shoorpanakhaa(Sharp Nailed),a sister of the demon King Raavana.Rama spurned her advances and asked her to wed his brother instead.Enraged at thisShoorpanakhaa asked Seeta to intervene on her behalf.This angered Laxmana who in a rage chopped off her ears and nose as retribution!!!
Raavana decided to take his revenge and employing guile he abducted Seeta by tricking her away from both---her husband and brother-in-law.He brought her back to Lanka, his country(today's Sri Lanka)and imprisoned her in the Ashoka Vatika a beautiful Garden under the vigilant eyes of Demonesses under the supervision of Tratika.Rama gathered an army of different Kings who welcomed him in friendship and offered him their aid.There was a war between Rama and Raavana which Rama won-----and Seeta was asked to prove her chastity.This she did by passing through the burning fire unscathed.Husband and wife were re-united and returned home to Ayodhya at the end of their exile to live happily ever after.
After a few months after their return home, Seeta concieved.During this period the wife of the washerman had eloped with her lover and a few months later returned home to her husband.This is when he uttered the words doubting Seeta's chastity as well, which caused Rama to ask his brother Laxmana to abandon Seeta in the Forest.Following orders Laxmana laft his heavily preganant sister-in-law in the Forest and returned home.Here she was rescued by the Rishi Valmiki who took her to his Ashrama.She lived there till and after the birth of her twin sons Luva and Kusha who became ace pupils of the Rishi who by then had begun writing the Ramayana.On an anniversary of Rama's Coronation the Rishi went to Rama's Court and Luva-Kusha recited the verses of the Ramayana before him.The two boys impressed Rama and before he could ask who they were the Rishi and his wards had left.
After this Rama performed the "Ashvamedha Yagna" in which a Horse is worshipped and let loose to roam free.All the territories he passes through----if willing to become Vassals pay homage---those unwilling to do so fight the huge Army accompanying the Horse-----stopping the Horse is declaration of War.
This Horse passed by the Ashrama(Hermitage) and Luva-Kusha stopped the Horse.They fought so well and valiantly that rama was forced to come and see who these two courageous boys were.On finding out that they were his sons he was overjoyed----but Seeta still needed to prove her chastity if he was to take her back.This time she ran out of patience and asked the Earth to swallow her up if she was indeed chaste.
Lo and Behold!!!That is exactly what happenned---the Earth opened up and swallowed Seeta up into her folds----Rama was left high and dry!!!Since then Seeta has become the epitome of Indian womanhood------but I have always been dissatisfied with this tale.Why should Seeta have been asked to prove her Chastity again and again----- having done it once publicly that too ---immediately after the War???
I cannot respect a husband who couldn't protect his wife and that is why this is one Fast I never undertook!!!!This evening we're sure to have our regular yearly clash in the Complex compound over this issue---AND I know---I'll return home triumphant---the unbeaten winner this year too!!!!

  
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CHARUV81 3/22/2010 11:38AM

  Very sensitive topic for many, but not for me:) . Well written.

A small correction: "All the Hindus begin their New Year today on Chaitri Pratipada as it is known"

"not all hindus"- We, Hindus, in Tamilnadu (laso in Kerala as Vishu)celebrate new year on April 14th (mostly)/ 13th (very few times) and we have some reasons behind it. Only Kannadikas and Teluguites celebrate it on March 16th.

I believe more in me than God and hence I have different opinion about God including Rama & Krishna. As I said before - Very Well written

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SAASHA17 3/21/2010 11:36PM

    Exactly Komal..saw ur blog just now....

I never believe that rama is to be wrshipped or Krishna..just a personal opinion..People think i am nuts to say that..but Rama doubted his wife and Krishna played unfair in the war and had so many girlfriends...

how is it fair for them but not women....anyhoo...i cud go on n on...
lol

Manasa emoticon

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RAJASHREE108 3/21/2010 10:29PM

    I always felt the same.. the Purush pradhan samskriti is to blame for this.

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ZANNACHAN 3/16/2010 12:19PM

    Makes sense to me!

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MESSENE 3/16/2010 9:45AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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*MADHU* 3/16/2010 9:35AM

    I agree with Vidya, very well said emoticon

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VIDYARP 3/16/2010 6:38AM

  Well Said...

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Cow Dusk---Godhuli

Monday, March 15, 2010

As the evening Dusk would fall
The Sun a glowing Orange Ball
With the scent of Chaaphaa wafting on the Breeze
The Birds return---clustering in the Trees
Noisy chatter as they settle in the safety of their nests
The returning Cows amble home from the Pastures to rest
The dust rising from their impatient feet
Hanging like a Cloud in the narrow Street
As pennants streak the Horizon in a colourful blaze
Oil lamps in the Temples glow in the darkening haze
Somewhere in the distance fading Cuckoo calls
Slowly quieten as surely but gently the Night falls.





  
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SAASHA17 3/15/2010 12:08PM

    nice Komal...aap lajwaab hai;)

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ZANNACHAN 3/15/2010 11:51AM

    Thanks for sharing!

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MESSENE 3/15/2010 9:25AM

    emoticonas always! emoticon emoticon

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EACHDAYAGIFT 3/15/2010 9:23AM

    Okay, another winner! I made a schedule for myself that said I'm supposed to be upstairs sewing by 8 A.M... it's almost 8: 20. I need to learn to read without commenting. But then how will people know they are enriching other people's lives? What a dilemma! Gotta go! Be happy!
Ann

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