Friday, January 28, 2011

Indian Cultural Dolls

Today I was in MORE: mega store. I was on the plastics-kitchenware-kids floor. And look what dolls I found. These seem to look like Indianized barbie dolls. And they are not alone, they have their husbands along with them :P So all you could play would be marriage-marriage..The dolls are really pretty with Indian attire & make-up. In my childhood days, dolls would be in mini's and frocks. Welcome to the new dolls spreading old Indian culture. Btw, they are called Cultural Dolls






I think you have to check their website for some unique doll couple like Salim Anarkali and Devdas Paro

Adoption

Yaay! I adopted my first 5 plants from a nursery last week. Its such a plesant feeling to take care of these plants. I bought 3 flower plants and 2 decorative plants. I intended to buy the traditional earthen pots but when I found out the prices against the new plastics ones Rs300 : Rs90 respectively, I am sorry to say I went ahead and bought the plastics ones. Weird enough, my grandfather said the earthen pots cost only 30-40Rs. Now I need find where I can find those :P We really had a noble thought of helping the traditional eathern pot makers..but the difference was too much :(

We bought a sack of soil mixed with manure for Rs50 at the nursery and prepared the pots after dinner. Now its my daily duty to water them & care for them. Its an excitement to see them grow new leaves each day! Next, I want to buy an aquarium :)

Preparing the pots-

All set in the morning-

Back to my blog

Hello everyone again. I have been away for a while from my blog; reason being I moved to a new place. Moving and re-arranging your house can be fun at start, but physically painful later. In the US, I remember you always move into a cleaned house, so all you have to do is arrange your things. But its exactly opposite here in India. I have moved twice into new houses here and always its YOUR responsibility to clean the house that was left behind my the previous tenants. Its a back-breaker!!!

To add to this, I had no phone & internet connection. I personally feel the BSNL workers are very lazy. It really doesn't bother them about their business. The number of excuses I got from them to get my previous phone connection transferred, unbelieveable! It took time just to convince them that they have connections in this new locality, moreover they made excuses each day to come by & do my phone connection. Is it typical in India that every X person directs you to another Y person to talk to? Nobody wants to take responsibility of their work. Eventually, after making infinite reminder calls each day, I got my phone working, without the internet and I was like WHAT??? Are you kidding me!!! In the US, the comcast people would give me an appointment date & time and believe me there is no way they will disappoint you! So easy! I have literally begged the BSNL workers to get my phone & internet working...so finally after 15 days I am back on the web. And now some more stories from the past 15 days :) Oh btw, Happy Republic day! I am going to remember this one, because I had a bad accident. Now its recover time from the endless pain my body is giving me! That may be in another blog ;)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy Makar Sankranti

Every year January 14, is celebrated as Makar Sankranti all over India. It’s the celebration of the harvest season and hence every state celebrates it, in their own cultural & regional way. The festival is known by various names in different places. The festival starts the Uttarayana cycle of Sun (Northern movement or when the sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn). In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.
This occasion is celebrated with kite flying in Northern India. Typically, the sky will be full of colorful kites and men and women of all ages will be on their terraces screaming & flying kites. I happen to witness the kite flying in Gujarat in 2010, where it gets so competitive; people are busy cutting each other’s kites in sky and dogging others. It’s an all day event with people prepared with hats, glares, gloves for the sharp kite string and a stock of 10’s of kites with them.
Colorful Kite strings:

Colorful Kites:

Sky full of kites:
In Southern India, the celebration is different with making sweet of jaggery (brown sugar) & sesame seeds and distributing it amongst relatives and friends. In Maharashtra, we have a saying when we give the sweets – “Til Gul ghya, goad goad bola” – Have this sweet and talk sweetly!!
Tilgul Sweets:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bryan Adams Concert in Pune

Just now while I was listening to the songs on my iPod and Bryan Adam’s song “I’ll always be right there” started to play. It struck to me then that he’s is performing in India, my hometown Pune. Yaay!!! As much as I would love to watch him perform, I realized that the crowd will be HUGEEEE!!! People will be standing in lines 7-8 hours ahead of the show. I know BA was like GOD during my grad days; we rocked “Summer of 69” for every occasion! Now, I know it would be once in a lifetime opportunity for me to see BA in a concert in India, but all that realization above…too much L sorry Bryan!!! I would really love to watch you live, but I’ll pass and watch your videos.
Those who still want to be more loyal than me get your tickets soon; the Pune ticket link is still not up. Sorry! If I find one soon, I’ll update my blog.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mysore Palace

If you come to Mysore, you can't miss the beautiful Mysore Palace. It belonged to the royal family of Mysore, The Wodeyars. The Palace is open for visitors during the week for a paid tour from inside. It has 4 entrances and it is located in the heart of the city. Surrounded with beautiful garden, it looks very colorful. The Palace has different rooms meant for different occasions, public and private rooms for ceremonial gatherings. The walls have elaborate paintings depicting the lifestyles and festivals during the royal times, paintings of gods, scenes from Ramayana; portraits of the royal family members. There are expensive ivory carved antique wooden furniture, marble floorings, decorative steel grills and beautiful chandeliers.
The Palace is lit every weekend and holidays with thousands of bulbs at 7pm and it is the main attraction. And from my recent visit, I have to say it looks very majestic and unbelievably beautiful. You can watch it endlessly and you will still want to watch more.

And for those who can't come to see the Palace now, here is a excellent virtual tour with audio description. This will surely make you come down to Mysore to visit the Palace. See you soon :)

Grad days memories

This song always reminds me of our grad days..I wonder how many times I watched the movie Saathiya on my computer!!! And this song was one of the best choreographed song those times...Enjoy!! :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chamundeshwari Temple in Mysore

One of the must-see places in Mysore is Chamundeshwari temple. The temple is named after the goddess Chamundeshwari, who killed demon Mahishasura. This temple was also build by Hoysala rulers as mentioned in my earlier post about their intricate building architecture. The entrance Gopuram is 7 stories tall, with silver doors and the idol made of gold. As a matter of fact, Mysore gets its name from the demon Mahishasura, who originally ruled it. A statue of Mahishasura is installed on the way to the temple. The temple has typical Indian mythological carvings. There is a huge granite Nandi on the hill in front of a small Shiva temple a short distance away, with layers of decorative bells and jewelry. We can either trek the Chamundi hill or there are very good roads to drive or take the local bus. The view of the city from the top is very scenic. Moreover, at night it’s beautiful with city lights glittering.
The best day to go in the evening would be saturday-sunday. Because, then we can see the beautifully lit Mysore Palace from 7-8 pmJ. Beware of the reckless bike drivers, who switch off their bikes while driving down the hill, it’s hard to see them with no headlights on. Please avoid driving like that.
The Gopuram:

Mahishasura:

Nandi:

Spot Fixing!!!

The world of betting in cricket seems to evolve all the time, with new kinds of frauds. The latest I have learnt is Spot fixing. Here, the players are paid for specific ball delivery like a no ball or a wide ball. The whole over can be fixed by bookmakers. First we had match fixing and now they go another level deep. The latest news makers are the Pakistani players Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir who might be banned for life. Moreover, these players were cheating with the planned conspiracy of their captain Salman Butt. It is sad to see that these new youngsters, who are merely teenagers, do not have the passion for a sincere game like the old players had. Gone are the days where cricketers genuinely represented their countries and played with great passion.



Monday, January 10, 2011

World’s most expensive dessert: $1000 sundae

I was watching TLC channel showing the best places to have ice creams in the US. Serendipity 3 from Manhattan NY tops the list, with the world’s most expensive ice cream – Golden Opulence.
The construction of it starts a baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet used in the Vatican. The glass is coated with edible gold leaves, then 5 scoops of the richest Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla and covered in 23Ct. edible gold leaf, the sundae is drizzled with the world’s most expensive chocolate, Amedei Porceleana, and covered with chunks of rare Chuao chocolate, which is from cocoa beans harvested by the Caribbean Sea on Venezuela’s coast. The masterpiece is suffused with exotic candied fruits from Paris, gold dragets, truffles and Marzipan Cherries. It is topped with a tiny glass bowl of Grand Passion Caviar, an exclusive dessert caviar, made of salt-free American Golden caviar, known for its sparkling golden color. It’s sweetened and infused with fresh passion fruit, orange and Armagnac. The sundae is served in a with an 18K gold spoon to partake in the indulgence, served with a petite mother of pearl spoon and topped with a gilded sugar flower by Ron Ben-Israel.

Would you try this once? :D

Here is the video of it:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

No one killed Jessica - Movie

Today I watched “No one killed Jessica”, based on the true story of Jessica Lal murder case, which rocked the country for a total of 11 years. The movie is an enactment of the actual happenings of this case. The movie started off very well with describing the typical Delhi life, where everything and everybody is unpredictable. As the movie follows its course, there are a few mood spoilers like the actors, inefficient dialogues at the right time. The actors playing the role of Jessica’s parents don’t seem to enact the pain and sorrow effectively. The comic scenes are really not required to pull down the intensity of the original topic. The only powerful dialogue I remember from the movie was “Sab hi khate hai, Lekin kis kaam ke liye khate hai, yeh pharak hota hai” (Everybody takes bribes, it only matter what TASK you take bribe for). It is the only best dialogue that touches the topic of corruption in major fields like Law and Order in India. 11 years is too long for an obvious case of Jessica Lal, but I am glad that the case got solved with full justice to Jessica and her family. It was an unfortunate incident for Jessica and she really did not deserve to be killed, for what the actual story is.. RIP Jessica!
My rating: 3/5

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kesava Temple: Hoysala Architecture (1268-1550 AD)

Today we went to one of the finest temples in India, the Keshava temple from the Hoysala architecture build in 1268 – 1550AD. This temple is located in a small town called Somanathpur near Mysore. The peculiarities of the architecture are very significant. The temple is made out of sandstone, with very intricate detailed carvings. The temple entrance begins with huge lathe carved pillars. The symmetry of the base of the temple is star shape. The temple has peculiar 7 layers of decorative elephants, warriors on horses, decorative flowers, depiction of common people and animals, different deities, decorations and depiction of various mythological stories.
The top of the shrine again has very detailed, decorative & most importantly symmetrical carvings. The walls are angled such that it may look like a paper folded multiple times & then opened to form a toothed symmetry. The walls of the temples have carvings of all the deities like Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, Laxmi, Saraswati, Hanuman etc…all carved well enough to recognize them easily.
Inside the temple, there are three separate sanctums for three gods. And 4 more rows of lathe turned pillars. The ceilings are intricately carved. And it is so so cool to sit inside the temple, with the burning sun outside. The whole experience was just amazing to see such delicate art work from such old times, that we did not realise how we spent over 2 hours. It’s a must see temple in India. And now, enjoy the pictures :)
The Temple with star shaped base:


The 7 decorative layers:


The intricate carvings:


Intricate carvings on the top:


Beautiful sculptures:


Sculptures:


Lathe turned pillars inside:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Movie on Nithyananda Scandal - Do we really need it?

When I lived in Bellevue-WA, we visited the local Indian Vedic Temple. When we entered, I was awed by the beautiful statues of Indian gods. Pretty huge statues and amazing glittery jewelry on those statues. To my surprise the walls had frames of Nithyananda meditating at different ages, more astonishing were the prayer songs going in the background were praising Nithyananda, Om swami nithyananda la la la....In my head, I was confused why are they singing prayer songs for a regular human and who is alive. I just found it bizarre.
The Indian priest there told us stories of Nithyananda how he spent his life until 17 yrs meditating and then had enlightenment. He also mentioned that Nithyananda has attained the state of "thoughtlessness", that normal people like us can't do. We just nodded and sat down by the wall thinking of what we heard. My husband then said how is it possible to have thoughtlessness? Unless, if he in fact meditated all his life, then he has not studied, has no job, is unmarried, thus has no worries, that may support his thoughtlessness!!! Either ways, it’s no achievement.
When I came back to India, I read his actual biography that he holds a diploma in Mechanical Engineering. So eventually the priest in Bellevue was lying to me & everyone.
It’s not the first time to have scandals with these fake swamis. We have had so many fake gurus in the past who were caught for scandals and fraud. What I don’t understand is why people still believe these crooks and seek help from them. If they were so intelligent, they would have been in a much better place than giving meaningless advices on how to lead our life. It is the people's mistake to fall for these crooks. At least now, we should learn a lesson!!
And do we really need a movie on this, when all the news channels have shown us enough!

Starbucks..... missing in India

Today as I was sipping my filter coffee at home, I remembered my regular order of White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks in Seattle. Though we have two well established Coffee outlets in India; Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) and Barista, I still miss my coffee from Starbucks. I wish they open their business in India soon. Are you listening Starbucks??? :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy 2011!!!!

I started my new year with visiting India's largest Shiva Statue in Murudeshwar. This small town is situated along the beautfiul coast of Arabian Sea in Karnataka state. The look of the place is so majestic, starting with world's tallest, 20-floor Gopuram i.e. the entrance, later small temples of different Gods and the Shiva statue which is situated on an elevated gound. The gopuram has an elevator located inside, that allows visitors to take a ride on the 18th floor and take the breathtaking view of the statue, the coast, the greenery of cononut trees and the entire temple complex. Though the entire complex is constrcuted recenly, the look of it is still ancient with respect to scultptures on the temples. That is very impressive. This is surely one of my favorite temples in India now. Enjoy the pictures :) And wish you all a very happy new year!!!


 The Gopuram:




The Shiva statue:
The entire complex as seen from the beach:




The gorgeous Arabian sea coast:

For those interested in the mythological story of this place: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murudeshwara#Etymology

Namaste!!! Hello!!!

Hello Everybody,


This is my first post to my blog Reflections. The purpose of my blog is to share anything and everything; travel, food,  people etc..A place to share my experiences with everyone.


Wish me luck and visit again :)


-Shilpa