Monday, November 28, 2005

Sunday Reading Sunday

Sunday! Nothing like a lazy sunday to spur you on to an energetic work week, or does it work the other way? We had a nice, lazeeee weekend, read the sunday papers.....its one of my favorite things to do lately, read the papers cover to cover, in fact I plan to subscribe to Hindustan Times too on sundays to extend this reading time. Indian Express is by far the best so far. The sunday editorials are superb and its articles cover the entire country, as opposed to Times of India covering bollywood and page 3 parties in Bombay. I also got to read a huge chunk of pages of the book I am reading, The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt, since I decided to be a bit ambition in the kitchen and make kheer. So I sat on the counter like a halwaiin and read and stirred, read and stirred. Venice and kheer was obviously a delicious combination and the kheer came out superb.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Live in Truth not Lies and Fear

A great article in today's Times of India by Sant Rajinder Singh called Fear Not, for Challenges are a part of life is definately worth a read.

How does forget these simple things that we were taught as children? I found quite inspired after reading it, more ready to face the world with a smile on my face as well as my heart than before. Its such a relief to let go of one's fears, by living a life of truth.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Breakaway

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.
-John D. Rockefeller

No one could have done it better than John D., a hero of both my hushand and me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

On moving to India

My husband and me moved back to India in 2004 (I had moved back to India earlier too, in 1996) and we often get asked why we moved to India? Was it worth it? What has been the hardest part of living in India?

Well, the thing is that one you get used to living abroad; you form a sort of a perfect idea about the home country and think of it more with sentimentality than reality. Life is great in India in some ways and in others it is absolutely pathetic, and it’s pretty much the same thing no matter where you live. Most people living abroad somehow get a feeling that if they move back to India they will be able to hold onto the good things of the current country as well as the things they miss most about home. Well, it just never works out that way in practice.

Moving to India is a really tough thing to do. And here I am talking about the daily practicalities not the sentimental values. Life is definitely simpler abroad. For example, I have 2 part time maids for the house, a driver and a car washer, but still have less free time and end up doing more work myself than I did in the States where I had no 'help' and did everything myself, including shoveling snow. How is it possible? It’s an unexplainable mystery of the universe, perhaps.

The division of labor is very seriously marked out and observed. The driver only drives the car; he does not wash or dust it. The car washer tosses a bucket of water in the general direction of the car and usually only once a week cleans the floor mats and the rest of the inside of the car. My part time cook does not cook or clean dishes that have anything to do with mutton, and the housemaid cleans only the floors of the house and not the bathrooms, unless you count it as a separate job and pay separately. All day you have the comings and goings of servants and an endless retinue of people coming to your door. The milk and newspaper in the morning, then the maids, car washer and driver, then the trash collection ladies and vegetable sellers, the couriers usually come one after another in the afternoon and the dhobi and eggs and bread boy at night. It’s one non-stop one bell ringing exercise after another.

Abroad you have gadgets to help you through the day and here you have personal contacts with neighbors, friends and relations. Pick the one that’s important to you, before deciding to move home to India. If you feel you can have it both ways, I promise you; it’ll be short-lived.

More on best citites to live in India later on...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Fruit-full musings

Ok, we finally have a somewhat decent grocery store in the neighborhood. Godrej's Nature's Basket opened yesterday in the Samarth Vaibhav building in Oshiwara/Lokhandwala. Now, we can at least have some salad leaves, sprouts and lots of what they call exotic fruits and vegetables, like avocado, broccoli and asparagus.

The chap that I buy my fruits from has a stall nearby, in-between our house and this new store, so each time I walk to the store, he looks very dejected. I was quite relieved to find that the fruit selection at Nature's Basket was pathetic and my fruitwallah is thrilled that he will still get my rupees instead of "the big bad rich grocery store".

I bought a 150gm bag of sprouts today and they charged me the rate for 1kg. So I had to go back and get a refund. My fruitwallah was so happy that the 'new store' had messed up, 'they are evil and corrupt you know', he told his neighbor fruitwallah.

And so it is, even though the new store should uncomplicate my life and shopping, I somehow feel a certain responsibility to keep buying my fruit from him instead of the shiny, new store.

love this one

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

-Anonymous

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Not really the Maximum City

Maximum City
Bombay lost and found
-Suketu Mehta

I had been looking forward to reading this book for absolutely ages. It was the book that was meant to make me to understand the city, to appreciate it and even love it. Unfortunately, it has not happened that way. I thought the book to be quite ordinary. The city that the book describes is full of weirdo’s and characters living on the fringes of society and acceptability, and if that really is the reality of Bombay then it’s a rather sad city.

In my opinion, the author wasn’t able to really capture the essence of Bombay, its spirit and its life. I believe there is more to Bombay than the hype of its unquestioned acceptance of all, its slums and the Hindi film industry.

The most surprising part of the book was that there was not a single character in the book to whom I could relate to, not a single normal person at all. Only gangsters, bar girls, slum dwellers and the highly talented and often eccentric Vidhu Vinod Chopra resided on the pages of this book.

I had been planning to continue with the Bombay theme and read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts next, which is the story of his life in the Bombay slums after escaping prison in Australia. Maximum City turned out to be what I thought would be the general setting of Shantaram. So, I am escaping a bit and switching cities to read a book about Venice called The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Gurpurab

Today is Gurpurab, Guru Nanak's 536th birth anniversary. The Japji Sahib prayer is the essence of Sikh philosophy and conveys the teachings of Guru Nanak.

The Japji Sahib is as follows:

Ek Onkar
Satt Naam
Karta Purakh
Nirbhau
Nirvair
Akal Murat
Ajuni
Saibhang
Gur Prasad

And here is the english translation:

There is but one God
Truth is his name
He is the Master-Creator
He is unafraid
He disdains none
His is the Image-Eternal
He is beyond incarnation
He is self-existent
He is realised through the grace of the True Guru.

Source:
The Japuji
Sikh Morning Prayer
Compiled and transcreated by Kartar Singh Duggal

Monday, November 14, 2005

Travel Memories

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.

-Lyn Yutang

So true! Memories of travels always take on a larger than life impression. The heat, the rain, the cold and tiredness are all transient. I remember a day spent at Harvard Square in December 2002, wandering around the bookstores, eating at a new age organic food cafe and drinking the life restoringly awesome hot chocolate at Au Bon Pain. It was a mind numbing cold day with knee high snow, but the memory has taken on a more sentimental and 'ah, those were the days' value. Now, I remember this day more for the memory of it than actual enjoyment, as I was too miserably cold to enjoy it when I was there myself.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Indian history-reality or fantasy?

Do Indians have a sense of history?

Read this interesting article on India Local News.

Here are some excerpts:
"My point is that Indians certainly need to re-write their history from the point of view of how our present failings as a distinctive nation,as a peace-loving people,is a bit self-deluding.We are in fact yet to come to terms with the everyday reality of the world and how the world events shape and how India as an independent nation fit into the emerging world realities."

"One important lesson for Indians is to realize that history is not a remote academic study.Nor,it has no lessons for the present living.History is ,in this all important sense,a living reailty!It is time we give our prevailing notions of great men shaping history.Great men often commit great blunders.For their blunders,people pay a heavy price.Not once.But generation after generation! Great events really dont have great causes.They just occur as everyday events."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

adding tags as yet

Working on putting the ICBM and Geo-tags, so until then, my location is not correct and blog neighbours are going to show as zero.

Purpose of life

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist, 1803-1882

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Alexandra, The Last Tsarina

Some time back I read a book on the life of Alexandra, wife of the Tsar Nicholas Romanov, called The Last Tsarina by Carolly Erickson. Alexandra was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, daughter of the Grand Duke of Hesse and wife of the Tsar of Russia, but not a happy person. She was beautiful and talented but was somehow always melancholy, almost as if she were waiting for tragedy to strike. And eventually it did, after a series of problems relating to her marriage, in-laws, children and religion, Alexandra was assassinated along with her family.

It just goes to show you that your life is a reflection of your hopes and dreams, along with your capacity to work towards your goals. If you are determined to be sad in life, then your life will be sad and vice versa. One of the most successful biographers of historical figures, Carolly Erickson provides the reader with depth and insight into the heart and mind of the Tsarina Alexandra, the woman widely blamed for the downfall of the Russian Empire and the end of the Romanovs.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Stumble Upon

I first ‘stumbled upon’ this site last summer in Bangalore. It is a search engine that you can alter to suit your specific needs. All you need to do is to download the toolbar, create your profile and select the types of sites you want to search and voila, you’ll be able to travel to new and unheard of sites. Stumble Upon is a great way to find new and interesting sites that one normally would not come across. What makes it even better is that you can adjust the setting to ‘stumble upon’ only certain types of sites at a time, gardening, jazz guitarists, architecture, or whatever you want it to be. As you visit and rate sites, SU will remember your choices, so you can stumble upon sites that you are more likely to like.