Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beauty of my IDLI

Today I successfully made a perfect batch of Idlis. I am still not sure what is the exact secret of soft, light, fluffy idli but I got it this time perfectly with my mom's recipe. May be it’s the perfect over the top fermentation!

I am not a great fan of Idli because in my childhood my mom would make Idlis EVERY Monday morning because it used to be easy for her to prep on Sunday! Working woman! Not complaining, but in my head it stuck forever that Monday = Idli. Since then, I probably caught the nausea of eating idli; to this date it’s not even the last choice of food for me! Although, I enjoy Rava idli!

But today I ate 4 Idlis for breakfast! I think your sincere efforts always taste different & good! Blissful yummy Wednesday morning! J

Monday, September 26, 2011

Art of Living

Past 6 days I had been attending a basic, beginner’s class of AOL! My thoughts are all dis-oriented right now. But I have an over-all conclusion about the class. AOL is for losers. Losers not in a bad or funny way; in way that people who are depressed, are full of negativity or suicidal or need some moral up-liftment in life or refesh the basic morals of life.
Most of the course was about breathing exercises and Yoga exercises. I have practiced both in bits and parts in the past, but never been consistent about it. Their aim is to control the mind through breathing exercises.
One of the day, the instructor said when we go into our past or future we are sad. And hence we forget to live the present moment. I beg to differ. There are infinite times from the past that make me happy when I remember them. And I PLAN my future so it turns into my present bringing me happiness! Thinking of future doesn’t mean sadness always! If we don’t think of our future then we are just like other animals on the planet, living our life and die one day! (PS: Even animals plan their future – ants, bees etc!)
Their example to control our anger and frustration- Accept things as they are. Bangalore traffic, Yes it is there. What can we do? Why should we get angry? Accept it and be calm and happy. No, sorry! Again beg to differ. If Bangalore has never-ending traffic woes, yes we accept that we need better road planning!!! Not accept the problem & be quiet. In that case there wouldn’t have been those many flyovers in the city. We can’t just accept the problem; accept it and find a solution. There wouldn’t have been innovations in the world!
Most of the things they mention in the course I already knew it or executed it. For example – doing random acts of kindness. We don’t keep a watch to find an opportunity; when an opportunity comes we morally help the needy person. It is but natural!
One of the students listed ‘following traffic rules’ as his random act of kindness! Can you believe it! The instructors just laughed it off instead of giving it back to the guy saying it your responsibility to follow traffic rules, not a favor to the society!
Taking responsibility! Yes we do take it, but some instances need authority too. They said irresponsible’s are complainers! Let me share an example – If there is criminal act happening in my neighborhood the first thing would be to complain to the police than taking the responsibility of being the police! And any morally right person will take the least responsibility of calling the police!
There are infinite examples of people who have led a very fruitful life personally and socially like Bill Gates, without such courses. Everyone comes from failures, you, me and all. No one is perfect. When I look at my life and me as of now, I am happy how far I have come from where I was! And all this with no one to tell us things taught in the course. I am partly from my upbringing from my parents and some of my own intellect and understanding. I truly feel I don’t need such a course. I have ambitions to achieve things in life, see places and I will do them to my best while being happy. Happiness is very relative! To be always happy is hypocrisy and ignorance to situations around us. I have a logical mind, I have to reason to things than just accept & act like nothing is wrong in the world.
I will continue to do the exercises but I surely don’t think I need a lesson on how to be happy and content! Because it can’t be forced!
Another note: We went to the Ashram and it is really hard to believe that so many people believe in these Gurus and their techniques of leading life! The HUGE crowd is unbelievable, but still fails to rope me in!!!
Disclaimer: This is my own opinion and experience. To each their own!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Medieval Times: Hampi Part 2

Sorry for this delayed post. I have been too busy at work & lack of internet at work also makes it difficult to keep up my blog. And there have been a lot of outings too. So continuing the journey through Hampi, next stop is at the two Ganesha idols called Kadale Ganesha and Savivekalu Ganesha. The names come from the look of the idol. The first Ganesha idol is monolithic. The shape of the ganesha looks like Bengal gram or channa dal. Kadale = Channa in Kannada. The idol is huge and enclosed inside a temple. The stomach of Ganesha has been cut on two sides by the attackers trying to remove it hoping to find gems under the statue. Again as this statue is broken, it is not worshipped.
Kadale Ganapati Temple
King Krishnadev Raya was one of the finest kings to rule Hampi. He loved art and literature. Most of the artifacts, temples were constructed under his rule. The Kadale Ganesha also has a stage with pillars and carvings on them which were constructed by him.
The second ganesha name comes from a mustard seed. Sasive = Mustard in Kannada. It is a smaller ganesha on the outside near the roads.
Kadale Ganapti
The next stop is to the famous Vitthala Temple. The department of archaeology have arranged battery driver carts to take people to the actual location – must be to avoid pollution around theruins. As we reach towards the gopuram of the temple we see two rows of stone stages – mantapa’s. These were the market yards in the medieval times. Merchants from the kingdom and from neighboring kingdoms would setup their markets and trade. Many of the stones have fallen off.
The gopuram of the temple is quite broken at the center..most of the art is also ruined. As we enter the temple it is MAGNIFICIENT! A huge area of stone temples, sanctums and the famous stone chariot. It is treat to the eye and a realization of the fine stone art of the 15th century! 
Vitthala Temple

Outside the Vitthala Temple - Market stalls
The main temple is a musical temple, Sangeet Mantapa. The temple is made up of hundreds of pillars which when played with finger tips produce sounds of different instruments like flute, table, veena etc. In the royal times, the musicians would wear sandalwood rings on their finger & play the music. Even today in complete silence the music can be heard up to 50kms distance! The temple has numerous carvings, mainly different avatars of Vishnu, depicting the mythological stories. The stone carvings are so fine; the guide showed us multiple pieces 2 in1, 3 in 1, 4 in 1 sculptures in parts from different animals. There was a piece which showed an elephant, a horse, and a monkey all in one at different angles!
Musical Temple
I have a picture of a piece that has a Bull and an elephant when seen from left and right respectively.
Left side is a Bull and right side is an Elephant
On the right of the Sangeet mantapa is the Bhajan mantapa used for recitals. Another magnificent sanctum built out of stone & carvings! On the left is the Bhojan mantapa for serving food for everyone. Behind is the mantapa for royal meetings and gatherings. 
The Stone pillar producing music of different instruments
In the center of the whole area is the stone chariot- one of the total three chariots in India. Other two are in Mahabalipuram and Konark. The stone seems to be monolithic but is not. The carvings are made perfectly to hide the creases of the stone blocks. Originally the chariot had 2 stone horses attached too but they were destroyed hence a pair of elephants is placed in front of them now. But the hoofs of the horses are still seen on the chariot front. In the royal times the stones wheels rotated and were moved around. But now they have been sealed to prevent visitors from damaging it. The chariot holds Garuda bird (mount of Lord Vishnu). 

Stone Chariot

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Indian National game- Hockey? Pffff!

The latest controversy of the govt. with respect to the Asian Championship winning Hockey team is very depressing. I think it was 7th std. Hindi syllabus, we studied about an iconic hockey player from India, Dhyan Chand Singh! It was a biography lesson which covered the magnificent career & records of the player. I remember there was a paragraph that described how at one of the games, the opposition team demanded  the umpires to verify his hockey stick to see if there was any kind of magnet, because the puck would always be with him. His play was pure magic for viewers. Weirdly, I STILL REMEMBER this lesson and the player, to this day.
It is surprising for everyone around the globe to learn that field hockey is India’s National game! My American friend once said, isn’t cricket your national game! Well…that’s the most publicized, instant money-making game, but not our national game.
The latest achievement of the hockey game is really commendable. With the kind of support they have, they defeated our archrivals Pakistan to win the championship and when the govt. announces 25000/- to each player, it’s such a shame! Its peanuts! A good pair of Nike shoes would cost most of that prize money. Or are they giving this amount so the winning team can finally buy some shoes before their game!
It’s such a shame that the cricketers don’t come out & raise their voice in support for these hockey players! Yeah, they made loads of money when they won the Cricket world cup; money; free land; every state gave their share of prizes, out of our taxes of course! How come one sportsman doesn’t support another? Is this the sportsmanship they have? Tendulkar doesn’t feel it’s his responsibility to praise and support these players in their achievement?
The king khan, Mr. Shahrukh Khan did an excellent movie “Chak De” on the game & he doesn’t want to support the game in real life? How come everything is ONLY for money? Where are the moral values of these ‘role model’ individuals? The Indian cricket board is scared that their popularity will come down if another sport did better?
This is pure insult of the national game and unacceptable behavior of the game board & the govt. itself.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hobbesian Principles: Corruption In India

I received this through an email forward and I totally accept it. The points mentioned have been on my mind for a very long time. The point where it is mentioned that Indians build temples in foreign countries I have been opposed to this same idea for a while now. Something I will try to pen down in a different post. Read along for this analysis.
Corruption in India is a cultural aspect.
Indians seem to think nothing peculiar about corruption.
It is everywhere.

Indians tolerate corrupt individuals rather than correct them.
No race can be congenitally corrupt.
But can a race be corrupted by its culture?

To know why Indians are corrupt, look at their patterns and practices.

Religion is transactional in India.
Indians give God cash and anticipate an out-of-turn reward.
Such a plea acknowledges that favors are needed for the undeserving.

In the world outside the temple walls, such a transaction is named- “bribe”.

A wealthy Indian gives not cash to temples, but gold crowns and such baubles.
His gifts cannot feed the poor. His pay-off is for God.
He thinks it will be wasted if it goes to a needy man.

In June 2009, The Hindu published a report of Karnataka minister G. Janardhan Reddy gifting a crown of gold and diamonds worth Rs 45 crore to Tirupati.

India’s temples collect so much that they don't know what to do with it.
Billions are gathering dust in temple vaults.

When Europeans came to India they built schools.
When Indians go to Europe & USA, they build temples. (will write about my opinions on this in a different post)

Indians believe that if God accepts money for his favors, then nothing is wrong in doing the same thing. This is why Indians are so easily corruptible. 
Indian culture accommodates such transactions morally.
There is no real stigma. An utterly corrupt Jaya Lalita can make a comeback, just unthinkable in the West.

Second -
Indian moral ambiguity towards corruption is visible in its history.
Indian history tells of the capture of cities and kingdoms after guards were paid off to open the gates, and commanders paid off to surrender.
This is unique to India.

Indians' corrupt nature has meant limited warfare on the subcontinent.
It is striking how little Indians have actually fought compared to ancient Greece and modern Europe.
The Turks’ battles with Nadir Shah were vicious and fought to the finish.
In India fighting wasn't needed, bribing was enough to see off armies.
Any invader willing to spend cash could brush aside India’s kings, no matter how many tens of thousands soldiers were in their infantry.
Little resistance was given by the Indians at the “Battle” of Plassey.
Clive paid off Mir Jaffar and all of Bengal folded to an army of 3,000.

There was always a financial exchange to taking Indian forts.
Golconda was captured in 1687 after the secret back door was left open.

The Raja of Srinagar gave up Dara Shikoh’s son Sulaiman to Aurangzeb after receiving a bribe.

There are many cases where Indians participated on a large scale in treason due to bribery.
Question is: Why Indians have a transactional culture while other 'civilized' nations don't?
Third -
Indians do not believe in the theory that they all can rise if each of them behaves morally, because that is not the message of their faith.
Their caste system separates them.
They don't believe that all men are equal.
This resulted in their division and migration to other religions.
Many Hindus started their own faith like Sikh, Jain, Buddha and many converted to Christianity and Islam.

The result is that Indians don't trust one another. 
There are no Indians in India; there are Hindus, Christians, Muslims and what not. 
Indians forget that 400 years ago they all belonged to one faith.

This division evolved an unhealthy culture.
The inequality has resulted in a corrupt society.
In India everyone is thus against everyone else, except God ­ and even he must be bribed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tamilian’s language obsession!

We were in Coimbatore which is quite a city with malls and multiplexes. We were shopping for my mom as Tamilnadu is famous of steel utensils and bedspreads and bed sheets. I have known of the Tamil language obsession of Tamilnadu since years; that they don’t accept Hindi as our national language. WHATEVER! In my logic, though Hindi is not a constitutional national language but it is the most common language in the country and I believe we should be glad to have a language that all states can share. As there are immigrants in Tamilnadu, even Tamilians immigrate to other states and it’s easy for them to communicate as all other states use Hindi if not in its purest forms! And we are a part of the globalized world today!
 The local crowd of little stores is purely Tamil speaking. When we went to a mall to shop, the attendees were still purely Tamil speaking; irrespective of you speak Hindi or English, they choose to IGNORE you if you are not speaking in Tamil! It was very insulting to me personally! Not being able to converse is different than IGNORING! What is the unwanted obsession of Tamil language? Why do we find more reasons to discriminate among our own countrymen? “Unity in diversity” is what we learnt in school! It means nothing for these people?
If I have so many problems in travelling through Tamilnadu, I can’t think of the nightmare the foreigners might be having! And if one has to say that the foreigners are responded back in English then this is open discrimination for your own people!
Even the buses have ONLY Tamil boards, no corresponding English boards! I would rather not go to Tamilnadu than get lost for not knowing Tamil! Even my husband who is a Tamilian said it should be so difficult for outsiders to travel or move around in Tamilnadu.
I do not aim to criticize the state or the people; there are a hundreds of reasons to visit Tamilnadu but if the people are not warm & welcoming, it is disappointing! In today’s time do we still need this obsession? If every state boasts of its own language, do we need outsiders to break our unity?
The biggest example is China who came over its national language & took up learning English and today they are India’s biggest competitor in the global world! Don’t push away your own people for lack of Tamil language!

Indian get-togethers

Last week was a long long holiday week starting from Wednesday to Sunday! And the number of things we did, places we covered is unbelievable! Drove through the festive traffic of Bangalore on Wednesday! Oh wait! My parents were visiting me ..that adds more joy to the whole string of events! Thursday morning we were to board a train to Mettupalayam in Tamilnadu. It was a wedding event to attend and we were like 15-20 people from Bangalore boarding different coaches of the same train.
I love big family gatherings; they are the most fun times as well as the most chaotic times too. The confusion of people; people distributed at all times and trying to gather everyone at all times crazy! It was one “big-fat-Greek-wedding” week! We, a bunch of cousins going crazy on the passenger train. In spite of buying tickets we travelled standing almost all through the 6 hour journey! My cousins were more excited about standing at the doors, talking, giggling, joking, teasing and clicking infinite pictures of making ugly faces and pretty faces sometimes! We ate the tasteless pantry food in the train and informed all the moms and dads and uncles and aunties to NOT eat it! J
In the last hour of the trip we played UNO! These are one of the best times of my life..sitting in the train I was thinking how we jell so easily when we get back from abroad. It’s like you were never gone! There is a cousin brother who loves you like his own sister; there is a cousin sister who is on your side when the rest of the boys are teasing you.
My parents notice that I have changed for better, more matured & polished. Since my marriage I have been away for so long and we get so used to being away which we feel right and wrong at different times. But, it always feels good to be there for parents. I always enjoy holding tight, my little-short mom in my arms and I realize how much I miss it. And sleeping next to my mom I felt like a little girl! Very short, but best times!