Archive for September, 2006


September 30, 2006


The devout priest, when he died, was made to wait at the pearly gates while a taxi-driver whizzed past into heaven….when he complained to St Peter, he was told that while the priest made people think about God once in a while, the taxi driver made his passengers, pedestrians and other motorists think of God ALL the time they were near him!

What sort of a driver do you think this car has? It is parked in my building….how does this guy reverse? We do need to pray when he does, through his Ramas and Krishnas. (Yes, I used the masculine pronoun…I can’t think of a woman pasting this across her rear windshield.)

This is, btw, the chant for followers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness….


And that is NOT , as some would think, a mantra for bunny rabbits ( look at them mulitplying over the lines!)…. the word is (in my pronunciation-script) harEy.

Navaratri at another friend’s place

September 30, 2006


Here’s my dear friend and neighbour lighting the lamps in the evening, in front of her golu:

IMG_0001 Mythreyi lighting lamp

She has placed her daughter’s veena next to the doll-steps;I have never seen her playing it, I don’t know if she knows how to!…. I wish I had photographed it better! She is wearing a Pochampalli saree, made in Andhra Pradesh. My friend is very beautiful, quite apart from her sweet face and her lovely hair….I think she is beautiful because of unfailing helpfulness and ready smile. My picture of the golu itself is suffering from shake, so will re-do it tomorrow!

I haven’t been having “golu” since my daughter left home at age 17….but I enjoy looking at other’s decorations!

Where do I report this?

September 30, 2006


Reply to my last post, a  photograph of the “golu” at my neighbour’s place— by bear_with_me

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And several yards more of this kind of stuff…I really don’t want to filter comments, but a few more of  these gems and I will have to!

Population Explosion here too!

September 29, 2006

Here’s one display, at my neighbour Sujatha’s place:


Will be posting a couple more later in the evening..rushing off now!

I changed the subject title after wondernoon pointed out that the golu seems to be reflecting India’s population explosion, and lack of urban space!

Navaratri Decorations

September 29, 2006


We generally only think of Holi as the festival of colours; but I think every festival is, quite literally, so colourful….here’s a shop in Jayanagar 9th Block which is selling decorations for the festive days of Navaratri (tomorrow, Ashtami or 8th phase of the growing moon; Sunday, Navami; Monday, Vijayadashami)….just look at those colours!

I have been thinking that circumstances may dictate that I  have to live  in the U S at some later point….how will I learn to do without all these wonderful sights that surround me here? Find similar ones there, I suppose!

IMG_0003 Colourful Navaratri decorations

There are custard apples on the cart at the extreme left. In an overflow of patriotism, Indian flags have also been strung out, a month and a half after Independence Day! Some of the hangings actually fold perfectly flat and are easy to store; those garlands are not! And alas, these blue tarpaulins have become ubiquitous here; I must say, though this particular one adds a dash of blue across the picture, offsetting all the red and orange on the right-hand side. Don’t miss the sewing machine in the picture. We still have tailors who can make up garments in a jiffy, or alter clothes…for a pittance! Oooh, I love the 9th block market…didn’t snap any of the fruits or flowers as I have posted them before! It was tough to take a picture quickly without having a gathering of urchins surrounding me curiously! Indeed, two of them crowded in, smiling, and asking me to click them, and I as smilingly refused to have them pose in front of the shop. The minute I am seen with my camera, I can *feel* curious looks boring in….I feel pretty self-conscious..and a bit of a fraud, because someone asked me if I was a “generalist” (journalist) and seemed very disappointed when I said I was taking the photos for myself.

Apropos of nothing…

September 29, 2006

We were discussing the custom of putting initials on steel vessels before givng them as gifts to a daughter, and I was reminded of a “hotel” (eatery) in Chengalpattu which had the tumblers and damaras all marked,  “Shanmuga Vilasil irunthu thirudiyathu” ( “Stolen from  Shanmuga Vilas”)….Someone obviously thought they had come up with a surefire plan to make their glasses pilfer-proof! It was my theory that the properietor, after having stolen all the glasses en masse from the actual Shanmuga  Vilas, started another eatery under the same name elsewhere… I must say, I was very tempted to take one and keep it as a souvenir!

Change of views….

September 28, 2006



My views have changed, after my daughter wanted a traditional wedding; here’s what I said in a comment on someone else’s LJ

Another Lullaby

September 28, 2006


Here’s a lovely lullaby that the character of  Padmini , the versatile danseuse and movie actress in many langauges, sings in the film “Chitthi” (stepmother)…..She  passed away on September 24th, and this is in her memory.

peNNAga piranthavarkku  iru murai thookam…pirappil oru thookkam, irappil oru thookkam
ippOthu vittu vittAl, eppOthum thookam illai! en ariya kaNmaNiyEy, kaNNurangu kaNNurangu!

Ariri Ariri ArArO…..

kAlam ithu kAlam ithu…kaNNurangu magaLEy
kAlam ithai  thavara vittAl thookkam illai magaLEy…thookkam illai magaLEy! (kAlam)

nAlu vayathAna pinnEy paLLi viLayAdal
nAL muzhuthum pAda sollum eLLu thamizh pAdal
eNNirandu vayathu vanthAl kaNNurakkam illaiyadi!
eerEzhu mozhigaLudan pOrAda sollumadi…theerAtha thollaiyadi ( kAlam ithu)

mArum…kanni manam mArum…kaNNan mugam thEdum
Ekkam varum pOthu thookam enbathEythu?
thAn ninaintha kAthalanai shEra varum pOthu
thanthai annai marutthu vittAl kaNNurakkam Ethu?

mAlaiyitta thalaivan vanthu shElai thodum pOthu
mangaiyarin thEn nilavil kaNNurakkam Ethu? (kAlam ithu)

aiyirandu thingaLilum, piLLai perum pOthum
annai enru vantha pinnum, kaNNurakkam pOhum!

kai nadungi kaNN marainthu, kAlam vanthu thEdum!
kANAtha thookkam ellAm thAnAha shErum! (kAlam ithu)

A rough translation:

For those who are born as women, there are two times of sleep; one at birth, one at death….if (this time) is unused now, there is no more sleep…

This is the time, this is the time, O daughter! Sleep…
If you let this time go, there is no time for sleep, O daughter!

Past the age of four, there is play at school;
Practice of the alphabet throughout the day.
When you reach the age of two digits, there is no sleep–
You will have to struggle with twice-seven languages, an unending difficulty!

It will change– the maiden’s mind will change– (it) will search for the lover
When yearning arrives, how is sleep possible?
When coming to meet with the lover one has desired…
If the parents forbid it, how is sleep possible?

When the husband who has garlanded (one) touches one’s clothes…
In the woman’s honeymoon, how is sleep possible?

In twice-five months’ time, when one gives birth,
When one becomes a mother, sleep will elude one…
(but) with shaking hands, and dimmed eyes, Time will come to one…
(and) all the lost sleep will come by itself……

ArirAri ri ArirArO….

ArirArirArArO….that’s the typical sound that women still make when they are singing lullabies to their children…it’s sung in a soothing monotone, to lull the child to sleep.

wondernoon and asakiyume….I’m thinking of you, too!

“It’s a waste to spend money on weddings, better to have a registered marriage”

September 28, 2006


My views have changed, after my daughter wanted a traditional wedding;  here’s what I said to someone else on LJ recently:

I like some of it, and as for the rest….

September 28, 2006

It’s Navaratri again, and it’s a time when women and children exchange visits and bond with each other. All this, and the decoration of homes, and the setting out of the dolls, is great. But then, there seems to be a lot of other attached customs that don’t seem meaningful to me at all…

First and foremost, this custom of giving betel leaves, supari and other assorted stuff like haldi, sindoor and so on. This custom started in the old days when women used to chew on betel leaves for two reasons: the gums and teeth were strengthened by the combination of the betel leaf, the lime smeared on it and the supari; and it would also redden the lips; it came, in fact, to be associated with romance and sex, too….well, let’s not go there, it was a beauty aid. And along with sindoor, it was given to women leaving someone’s home, so that they could use it. But now, who actually chews on the paan leaves that are given during these festivals? Vast quanitities of these leaves find their way either into the mouths of elderly maidservants (the younger ones won’t chew them either) or into the dustbins. In fact,  Indian ladies who live in the Gulf make a great thing out of secretly procuring these leaves and giving them away (paan leaves are prohibted in some countries there because we S E Asians have a habit of spitting out the red paan juice everywhere.)…flouting the law is a validation of their ability to spend, I suppose. All that trouble  and expense, for something that is going to be consigned to the bin shortly!

Here, I have photographed some of these things, some of which were, in the past, actually used on a daily basis as cosmetics:

IMG_0001 navaratri paan supaari and gifts

clockwise, from left:  the betel leaf, a dinky little plastic “dabba” with a “yow!”-coloured lid, though it looks OK in the photograph; a sweet lime which will make about a thimbleful of juice (but which generally dries away and is thrown out); two pieces of turmeric; one what-on-earth-can-I-do-with-it “coin” made of plastic with an icon of Ganesha embedded; a coconut, which accounts for vast quantities of coconut burfi made in all the households post-festival, to use the coconuts up; one of those never-to-be-opened-but-permanently-recycled plastic packets of sindoor (vermilion) and turmeric powders; and in the centre, a packet of fried areca nut or supari, which a few people do chew on, but is, mostly, also wasted…..

The other beauty aids also have become so stylized that they seem to have lost all significance. What is the point of giving two tiny black bangles, and little yellow hard rounds of turmeric, which will only be recycled or thrown away? Where is the sense of gifting tiny mirrors in which only a few eyelashes of one eye are reflected? Who ever opens those “combination” packs of haldi and kumkum or applies them actually to her face? Some of those sindoor powders are really unsafe and very bad for the skin, causing contact dermatitis, too.

And then, this custom of giving “blouse bits” (no, my non Indian friends, those are not parts of blouses, but material from which our saree blouses can be cut and stitched.)…when I buy a saree, I hunt for the material and the colour for the exact match, if it doesn’t come with the saree.  I don’t ever see myself  making blouses out of the random coloured pieces  that I get as gifts. So why not dispense with this? Of course NOT! It is the CUSTOM, it must be followed, no matter how irrelevant it is….

I have a nice large collection of these things, (along with the dinky little plastic “gift items” like bowls and trays in fluorescent colours which are also given away) and often give them to various friends who, I know, will love to get them (whether they use them or not.). But I have this nightmare vision of all these festival items being recycled for ever and ever…I am thinking of marking the ones I give away in future, much like tracking migratory birds, and seeing whether they show up again!