Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Life has a way of flowing---in various modes---but flowing nevertheless ahead.Here in Kolhapur the rhythm is slow and sluggish-------very relaxing.No one seems to be in a hurry----the pace itself is very laid back-----unmoving!!!!!
Here I'm just allowing myself to flow with the rhythm-------no reason to hurry-----no cooking,no deciding Menus,no daily chores--------literally NOTHING to do!!!My routine too has changed----I get up by 7 a.m.----then my Yoga takes about 1 hour 45 minutes----by 8.45 I place an order for Breakfast------delivered to the Room piping hot------we eat that----bathe------and go downstairs to the Lobby to meet our Uncle who arrives by 9.30 a.m.The morning is spent reminiscing about the old days----Family anecdotes and days that were------both Sudhir and I are involved------it is related to both our childhoods and adulthoods too------this town is in our blood!!!!
This was a Principality----hence the people here have a massive feeling of Pride regarding their Town----I feel that it is this Pride which is ingrained in me too.There is plenty to sight see for new comers here---the beautiful Shalini Palace situated next to Rankaalaa Lake,the Panhaala Fort just an hour's drive away,the Temple of "Jyotiba" in the surrounding Hills,The Temple of "Temblai Devi" near the University Campus,the Museum in the New Palace---an imposing place set amongst a huge acreage-----the Railway Station----so many beautiful places built of either the dark Grey dressed Stone or with more modern materials-----developement is showing up everywhere.Then there's my favourite----"Zuna Rajwada" or Old Palace built of dark Grey Stone-----sitting in the centre of the town------imposing and formidable----very solidly apparent.The bustling Market areas surrounding it are full of a multitude of Shops selling a melange of Products-----Iron Woks,Griddles,Wooden Rolling Pins and round rolling Boards cut from the same chunk of Wood-----Spices,Jaggery and Grain Shops all jostling with the usual Copper and Brass Utensil Stores, Gold Smiths,Silver Smiths,Cloth Stores and Ice Cream Parlours.
Just outside the Temple main door is the "Pedha" Shop-----situated in the same place for more than a hundred years-----the stuff they churn out still retains the taste of my childhood-----one bite transports me back in time!!!!It is surrounded by Bangle Shops and Cloth Shops of the same vintage------those multihued sparkling Glass Bangles shimmer like a beautiful Rainbow when the light catches them------so very iridiscent!!!! The cloth Shops here sell the Traditional "Khan"----a handwoven material used for stiching Sari blouses---this is a must for everyone paying homage to the Goddess-----a Khan preferably Green,1 unhusked Coconut,Green Bangles,packets of red Kumkum and Turmeric Powders,Incense sticks,White Lotus or Sweet Jasmine garlands along with roasted Chickpeas and Pedhas----all these are offered to the Deity by the devotees----in return the devotees are bestowed with Fruit and Coconuts as Her Blessings.-
The hustle and bustle of this entire Market area is a quaint mixture of the old and new-----fancy new airconditioned Shops stand next to ancient Family owned ones------still retaining the old flavour carried over from the Centuries that passed!!! The Ice Cream Parlour called "Imperial" still remains as it was all those years ago during my childhood-----both the ambience and the taste are the same----even today!!!!
Spending even a week here recharges my spent batteries----I return home filled with vim and vigour to face the new challenges Life may present me with------it's like being not just recharged----but more like being reborn!!!!
Monday, May 10, 2010
One act takes precedence over everything else---dictated by Family Tradition-------it still is the first thing on the agenda on reaching Kolhapur-------that is to pay homage to "Aai Aambaa Bai" as the Goddess Mahalaxmi,patron Deity of this Town is known.The feeling of being blessed by Her adds a subtle glow to our visit----meeting Her is one of my favourite things----I ask Her to bring me back next year-----to pay homage to Her and to be blessed by Her again!!!However the crowds are growing each year-----till I think it will be impossible to see her face to face in the Sanctum Sanctorum-----each visit has begun taking longer to reach Her presence!!!
In my childhood we'd accompany my paternal Grandma Akka to the Temple-----it used to be a beautiful place those days----no crowds,only the regular devotees present,the huge "Aavaar" or Compound of the Temple open for us to play hide-n-seek in.We loved coming here not only because of the peace and quiet in the premises-----but because we'd pass the Temple Elephant on the way in-----the entire huge Temple Complex exuded an aura----a palpable sensation of the Deity's presence.
Another motivation was the fresh "Prasad" of pure Milk "Kandi" Pedhey available on the main Gate or "Maha Dwaar"-----we could eat kilos of the Stuff----much to Akka's dismay!! then there were those visits to Imperial and Solanki Ice Cream Parlours to gorge on those creamy,freshly churned Ice Creams-----I'm shocked to remember the amount we'd put away----sheer gluttony!!!!Even today that is one thing I must eat----at least once at Imperial's!!!Milk products of Kolhapur are legendary and an integral part of our lives.Each visit I carry back kilos of the Kandi Pedhas for everybody in Mumbai---this too is a Family tradition-----whoever visits Kolhapur returns with Kilos of Pedhas and a spicy treat called "Baakar Vadi"-----hot,spicy,deep fried----but oh so yummmmmmmyyyyy!!!!
Next on my agenda is a trip to the River Panchaganga-----flowing so languidly-----tthe beautiful Sunset from "Brahmapuri" Point next to it is so picturesque----the languid River,the lush Green Sugar Cane Plantations,the tall Tamarind,GulMohur and Banyan Trees casting their lengthening shadows on the ground in the Orange hued Sunlight of the setting Sun-----a deepening Orange Ball as it sinks into the misty Twilight----the River shining like liquid Gold wherever the rays fall----the evening Breeze,the Birds chattering in their nests-----the Temples on the Riverbank gazing at their reflections in the Water----even today the scene hasn't changed----it is this Timelessness that binds me here----I'm still a child,a teenager and a woman---my past,my present all meet here to create the Now-----I know there's no going back----like the River Time too flows forward------still I renew my ties to the old World here---most effectively!!!
We'll be visiting our Uncle and brother's homes----our Uncle just shifted into a new Flat after selling the old home while my brother's home is huge-----right next door to him.Both my Aunt and Ashwini are fantabulous Cooks----Dinners at their homes are just yummy!!!I have a date with my sister-in-law Ashwini this evening----she'll take me to buy all the stuff I need-----fresh ground Turmeric Powder,spicy Methkoot Powder,Kolhapuri Chutney-----all from "Pandharpurey's" near the old House in Shukrawar Peth------besides other stuff from the Market----the Car's going back full!!!
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Each week I have a date----with my Closets!!!Tedious but necessary----these contain my wonderful Treasure of different types of Fabrics---gathered from all over India---and very close to my heart---hence prized possessions!!!
My Steel cupboard contains my real hoard---beautiful Silk Saries from almost every corner of India.The East is represented in the Jewel coloured intricately hand embroidered Kathas, Dhakaai Jaamdaanis,Baalucharis,Assamese Mekhalas,Ikats and Bomkais-----Banarasi Silk ,Kashmiri Silk and Chinon represents the North,shimmering multi coloured Patolas,Chiffon Lehariyas represent the extreme West,delicately woven gauzy Chanderis,Kotaas and Maheshwaris are a symbol of Central India----commonly known as the "Dil" or Heart of India ,The handwoven Paithanis,Irkallis and the traditional "Garbhareshami Lugadis" from my native Maharashtra,and last but not least, the beautifully rich thick Silks of the South----Kanchipurams,Dharmavarams,Gadhwal
s and Pochampallis----all so very beautiful and rich----the wonderful feel of these Fabrics is enough to transport me to a different time and place!!!
Those days I wore only Saries----and just loved these beautiful six yards of Fabric----but what I loved most was the traditional Stuff!!!We used to have Fabric Exhibitions in Mumbai at the time----Pavilions used to be put up of different States----so it was a must visit place for me.Many trips would be made there to pick up beautiful Block printed,hand Embroidered,hand Woven Bed Linen,The beautiful Bomkai of Orissa,the intricately woven shimmering Banarasi------not to forget the delicate Lucknowi Chikans from Uttar Pradesh and the light as Air Kotaas----these would be made from superfine Cotton with a Gold Thread woven into them----very beautiful but so expensive!!!
I began collecting these---Traditional styles which were timeless---Temple borders,pure Siver Thread hand woven stuff---one at a time till today I have 2 Closets full of these and a heart full of Memories associated with them.I still have my beautiful wedding Banarasi "Shaalu"----fully woven with Silk and Gold Thread---still radiant like new!!!Seeing my obsession with these Sudhir suggested that I hold Exhibitions of these after Lotta's marriage.Bad idea---I'd fall in love with the stock and hand pick the ones I liked----then proceed to fix exorbitantly priced labels on them---ensuring that no one bought these----all the profit I made would be poured into buying these!!!!
My switching over to Salwar Kameezes brought me no relief from my avarice---I began collecting wonderful Pure Cotton Stuff----I cook in heavier material though I love buying those for the Girls----again intricaately hand embroidered Kathas,Chickans,hand woven Kotaas---Maheshwaris,Chanderis and Traditional Marathi "Khan" fabrics----these are my truly beloved and prized possessions----in June I've promised myself of drafting my Will---settling the score of my beloved Jewel Coloured Memories!!!!With the exception of my Wedding Sari the rest will be divided between my Girls equally----I'll leave home dressed in my "Shaalu" on my last journey!!!!
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