Archive for September, 2011


September 30, 2011

I’m much entertained and educated at the various kolus that I visit. Little vignettes of life that I see in each drawing room seem as intriguing to me as the dolls decorated and arranged before us.

A lady, with her eyes devoutly closed through the group chanting of the Lakshmi Sahasra Naamam, busily giving instructions to her maid, and then her husband, both in exactly the same tone….I dread to think of what will happen if those grimly stated instructions are not followed….

A little girl, keen on photographing the dolls on a higher step, brushing into crookedness, the carefully drawn rangoli on the floor, and the pleasantness of disposition of the hostess, who assures the girl, and her mother, that it is all right…

A little boy, brought to the kolu by his mother, keenly eyeing the sundal and sweets kept at the side of the table, and waiting eagerly until the plate is offered to him…. the goodies are gone in a few quick chomps, and then the whispering begins, “Can we go now?”>….

Wearing a silk saree, sitting on leather cushions, with side tables that are cut tree-trunks, a lady pontificating on how much she loves nature…. loudly interrupting another young girl trying to sing….

Sweet voices of young girls, and sometimes an uninhibited boy, lifted in song at each gathering…and sometimes less-than-sweet renditions, too, rendered, however, with great devotion….

Petty comments of “Oh, at XYZ’s place they had *printed* bags, not ordinary ones!” Women who bustle in with mock-complaints of how many people they have to visit and how little time they have…

Husbands waiting at home to see what varieties of sundal have been brought home….

The delightful chaos of completely unconnected figures of gods, dancers, people, animals, and things, all jumbled up together on the steps of the displays….

Small slices of life, and social interaction, that are wonderful to observe.

Singing at Navaratri, 300911

September 30, 2011

I sing….
I sing for all the worlds that I see
Spread before me
In weird sizes, small and large
Plastic grass, papier maiche mountains,
Men, women and children of wood and mud.
I sing for the idols
Of gods and goddesses….
I sing for the gods and goddesses themselves,
Not just their figurines.
I enunciate the Sanskrit words
That describe their attributes….
…A funny thing happens.
My eyes close, and I lose myself.
Am I amongst the dolls in front of me?
Am I at the feet of the god whom I praise?
I do not know where I am….
I do know….I am in the music.
In the notes, the voice,
The melody that escapes from my lips.
It is my soul, emanating with my breath.
I am deep within myself, and everywhere outside me, too.
I suddenly see the perfect, ineffable beauty
That the composer of the song saw.
I yearn for it….
But the song comes to a close.
I open my eyes, the spell reluctantly broken.
I see admiring looks, faces filled with friendliness,
Happy at my singing, compliments flow from those around me.
I’m glad I’ve given others this pleasure..
But it is I who have experienced the most joy.
I sing….not for the world; I sing for myself.
And that’s why the world likes my singing.

Kolu at Crystal, 290911

September 30, 2011

I decided to visit my friends Ganu and Hema, and their daughter, Janani, who’s recently come home for good, after having done her Masters’ degree at Pittsburgh. They always put up a lovely display for Navarathri:


<lj-cut text="want to see the kolu?"

Here it is, with the flash, which I don't prefer:


A “kolu” or “golu” is supposed to be a representation of the universe, so anything you wish to can be put in….human beings, animals, gods, flowers….Here’s an idol which is half Ganesha, half Hanuman, that I’ve never seen before:

S all kolu pics dublicate 290911

These dolls/figures are often sold in “sets”. Here’s a beautiful set of Mamallapuram, or Mahabalipuram, on the shores near Chennai:


There is also a lovely seascape painting to be used as a background. Don’t miss the details like the lighthouse, and Arjuna’s Penance, or the various caves!


There was one display of a forest (Bannerghatta?) where tigers and giraffes co-exist peacefully:


There was one display of a temple procession…don’t miss the couple who are prostrating themselves on the ground!


Another tableau was of Kailash, the abode of Shiva and his family. Cotton-wool snow completels the icy look of the Himalaya:


I enjoyed seeing a wedding in progress, and childbirth seemed to have occurred almost at once, because the adjoining scene was one of the parents getting the boy’s ears pierced, ceremonially!


Visitors were given sundal ( a lentil preparation) and pAl pAyasam (a milk-and -rice sweet porridge) and ladies came to visit, and sang for the gods, and the worlds they saw before them. They were given betel leaves, areca nuts, turmeric and sindoor, and a large coconut, and a little gift, too.

Thank you, Hema, Ganu, and Janani, for letting me share your festival!

Boodima on a boat…

September 28, 2011

Those of you who are not interested in photos of GD…pass on please, this post is nothing but.

GD, who began her life as Eli (mouse), became Biddles, and Boodles and Beedool and then Boodi Ma (old woman, in Bengali!) webt with her parents to visit her paternal grandparents at Portland, Maine.

“Is this post about me?” she seems to ask here.

boodi 170911 maine

Yes, it is!

DnA met her grand-aunt in Boston and they all took the bus to Portland, and while there, went on a short cruise to Casco Bay.

Here’s GD, picking herself up off the floor of the boat:


With Grampa:


With Nanna (don’t they look alike?)


Nanna gets a kiss:


Finally…they call her “Hurricane Hair”, but in this photograph, the whole family seems to have the same windblown hairstyle!

dnank ptlnd me 170911

I *do* wish they didn’t live so faaaar away…..

And thanks to Nanna (LS) for sending me these lovely photos!

Movies and fashions…

September 27, 2011

I don’t know if it happens as often with Hollywood movies but Bollywood (Bombay or Mumbai, movie capital of India) certainly sets off fashions every now and then.

One of the earliest vogues I remember was the “Sadhna cut”. Sadhna was a famous film star, with the classic good looks of a woman of the Sindhi community. She started the fad of a fringe cut across the forehead, and many a mother fancied herself, as well as her daughter, better looking with the “Sadhna cut”.

Here’s a lovely song, where Sadhna sports her “cut”:

Another craze that I remember was the “Jewel Thief” hat. An affair of checkered cloth, jauntily perched on the side of the evergreen actor Dev Anand (a Gregory Peck lookalike who celebrated his 88th birthday a couple of years ago and who was famous for acting with younger and younger heroines as he got older and older) in that movie, it set the cities and towns on fire. In a land where only old babus wore “topees” and only villagers wore turbans, the young men went around clamouring for the “Jewel Thief” hat!

Here’s a lovely song, where Dev is wearing that hat!

I also vaguely remember a tie for the hair, which was popularized by the movie “Love in Tokyo”. I never watched the movie…but I do remember the elastic bands, threaded through two large beads which were twisted around the hair and interlocked…for a long time, I thought it was called “luvintokio” and only later realized that it had been named after a movie. I don’t know if Asha Parekh, the heroine, ever wore one in the movie…but here’s a song from that movie:

In more recent times, I once walked into a shop in Pondy Bazaar in Chennai, and was unable to figure out some netting material, in a sparkly finish, that was being sold as “kuchukuchu”. Surely quite a nasty name, I thought…and decided to ask the shop assistant about it. “Oh, the actress in ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ wears blouses made with similar material,” he explained. (The movie name means, ” A certain something is felt”…as a rough translation). Ah, now the name kuchukuchu made sense! (I did not feel tempted to buy the sparkly net.)

Perhaps because I am not fashion-conscious, I don’t remember too many instances of such movie-inspired fashions, but I am sure you can tell me of many more!

Age, and maturity

September 27, 2011

I don’t know why my blog (Live Journal) suddenly opened at the same date, but it did, and


is what I wrote, 3 X 365 days ago!

Still working on it….yes, a little more acceptance, but not enough!

At the Supermarket, 260911

September 27, 2011

Obviously, I haven’t got too many images of GD to share, since I came back…but I just got a lovely one of her, with her special-sized trolley, at the store (I’d say this was Trader Joe’s)….

boodi wtng in line 260911

I suspect that soon DnA will teach her to cycle, and then she will be doing all the family shopping while she is at the daycare….

Life Under Foot, Turahalli, 250911

September 26, 2011

Even the shortest step on a nature trail can yield something fascinating to the observer. I was walking down the path at Turahalli, when I looked down:

scene of ant trhli 250911

Can you see what’s going on there? Here, if you look closer:

2 ants drgng insct trhli 250911

Three little ants, working together, and working very hard, to convey a dead insect to the underground nest, where it will become food:

ants drgn insct trhli 250911

Here’a video of how they work to overcome the obstacles in their path!

Fascinating world of nature….

Ant you glad you “e-came” with me to Turahalli, and saw this tiny drama being enacted?

Rolling through SFO Bay…

September 26, 2011

We think of hard work only as something we do on our routine work, and something that is not fun…but occasionally the two come together.

I can only marvel at the amount of prior planning…and then the relentless hard work, that must have gone into a creation such as this:

Oh my goodness! How did he keep the project intact for 35 years!

Eagle Owl, Turahalli, 250911

September 26, 2011

A round dozen of us decided to go to Turahalli, yesterday morning (we’d also had a great time at the Zoo area on Saturday morning…. more about that later!)

gp trhalli 250911

For the first hour or two, though the outing was really enjoyable and we sighted quite a variety of butterflies, the bird sightings were countable without using the fingers on the second hand! But of course, we had a treat in store. As we went on after climbing to the top of the hill, a vision sailed past us and landed on a rock to our left:

3 e owl trhli 250911

It was beautifully backlit by the morning light of the eastern sky:

6 e owl trhli 250911

Now, my friend Amith Kumar has raised a valid question. I’ve always known this bird as the


(Bubo bubo)

but lo and behold, the Wiki does not list India as a territory for this bird at all!

Amith said that this was the


4 e owl trhli 250911

the scientific name of which is Bubo bengalensis

….I had not known that there was such a classfication, and so I looked up the wiki entry.

So…what should this bird be called, I wonder?The surprising thing is that the bird books do not list anything called the Indian Eagle Owl, only the Eurasian Eagle Owl. I’ve asked the experts, and hope for a reply!

Here’s a short video of the magnificient bird (this must be a female)

Well, an owl by any other name is just as magnificient to behold, and we feasted our eyes on the sight of the huge bird, sitting comfortably, far enough away not to be bothered by us…right out in the open on a sunny morning, which is a rare thing to happen!