Do Visit my very own 'Food' Blog' for delicious meals

Friday, 31 December 2010

Yay! Award is an award, and I won…..

I was qualified for Grand Prize Judging of my Quatrains and I receive a new year gift..


Okay 2010 was not so bad afterall, cause I won the poetry contest and received a prize too. What else would I want?

Seventeen individual “Quatrain City Poetry Contests” were held from the end of March through November on Ryze network at forum called ‘Wordmeisters, Poets and Writers-Unite!’, where by a picture was posted and members would post a quatrain inspired by the picture. I had participated in thirteen contests and had won six of them. Quatrains were judged on creativity, poignancy, format (if applicable) and content. Each Contest resulted in a winner and runner-up, both of which qualified for Grand Prize judging.

In Grand Prize judging, my poem was qualified as second runner up.

For my quatrain called ‘Criss-Crossed’

Hushed voices trapped behind colored frames
Criss-crossed, the thoughts rotate from side to side
Silence speaks under the pillars of courage
Whispering gently under its beams with joy.

Inspired by this picture

picture by Jack Huber

Now awaiting anxiously for my well earned gift: a copy of "A Poet's Primer" and one more book which will be either paperback copies of Jack Huber’s "Aspects Long Forgotten" or an electronic copy of Diane Tegarden's excellent "Light Through Shuttered Window."

Details of all winners here http://www.jackhuber.com/quatraincity.htm

Theme Party at Pattaya Beach


80's was the theme and I wacked my brain hard thinking of dressing weird, even brought some DVD to watch the styles of the 80’s, absorbed the pictures of back-combing hair styles, wigs and hair extensions, maxis, mascaras and dark lipsticks, but could not have enough courage to dress in that style, simplicity was my preferred option, with weird and crazy looks best left to those bubbling youth.

My bold and beautiful cousin came into my room dressed in a wig. It suited her, but then everything suit her and becomes a fad, so I just went along with her, holding by her arm, like an accessories for the evening.


The party was by the poolside, closer to the Pattaya beach, one hundred and twenty steps below our hotel room.



Most of the guests were dressed colorful clothes, which would be abnormal in any other situation but acceptable as was the norm. I had seen such scenes in Hollywood films but attending such party had a different effect. My cousin with a bald head, with his hair all brushed up on the centre of his scalp walked pass me and I didn’t recognize him until I looked closely and saw his smile.


And kids were in party mood too, with colorful wigs of purple and blue



Some of them boldly posing for the camera while some of them shy, hid behind their hats


All daringly dressed


All the cameras goes click, click, click,


There was food and drinks and there was music and dance
It was a lovely evening with lotsa fun



The party went on till late night, till the drooping eye lids of children reminded the parents that it was time to head back home.


Thursday, 30 December 2010

Item Song Craze.

“I know what you want but I will never give you......mein tere haat kabhi na aahoon.” says the dancer as she seductively dances to the tune of ‘Shiela ki Jawani” with hundreds of guys dancing around her semi-clad body with only a thin satin sheet to cover her mid-reef (Wow! Farah Khan, would you like to dress up like that? I am sure you would too if you had a slim body of Katrina Kaif, bah!).

And this is the latest item song that is doing its rounds and driving every man crazy.

it goes..Sheeeeelaa, Sheela ki jawaaaaani.......(sabko karey diwani...)


 
People were raving about this song on twitter and in social media and complaining that it was getting irksome for women to walk alone on the road with Romeos were chanting away teasingly outside the college gates. Someone even wrote a personal letter to the producer, accusing him of marring the Indian culture and polluting the minds of dirty old men.


I had not heard about this song and had no clue about the fuss that was made over this song.(was away, travelling the whole month, had not watched the local music channels nor heard this song on radio) when I discussed it with my niece, (on my return back to India) she told me that this was the latest craze in the music world and lot of people were comparing this song with another item number called ‘Munni Badnam hui’




Now I had watched the video of ‘Munni Badnam hui and had found that dance quite graceful but I was not sure of this Sheila.


All Shiela has done is to drop her clothes, and get every man excited..

Whatever happened to those beautiful songs of yesteryears that had graceful dance and wonderful lyrics? Those songs like 'Mukaddar ka Sikandar, Pakeeza, Umrao Jaan, etc'

Ah well! well! well!

Seems like both these songs will keep the world entertained on New Year’s eve of this year

And Munni will come the long way

Or will it?

Shiela might know.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Un-visit to Shivneri Fort

The road was narrow. On one side were the steep hills and a deep valley on the other side. Our car moved slowly up the slope. I went click, click, click, like some curious tourist, clicking the pictures of trees, stones and leaves. Most of my pictures will be deleted ofcourse, but thats the advantage of having digital camera. As we neared our next site, I adjusted the setting of my camera to get different look. What setting I should set for our next site? Portrait? Landscape? I had read about Shivneri fort and was curious to visit it. It seemed like an important historical place to visit. This is the place where the great Maratha warrior Shri Shivaji Maharaj was born.


Shahaji, the father of Shivaji Maharaj,a general in Adil Sha of Bijapur sultanate put pregnant Jijibai for her security in Shivneri.Shivneri is a hill fortress with steep rocks in the mountain ranges of Sahyadri.


As we neared the historical site, we were in for a surprise. Such an important tourist spot and there was too much commotion. The honking is the next most famous passtime of our drivers in India. if the FM radio is not working due to poor reception in their vehicle, you will hear them honking for some music. a person with musical ear might rubbish this honking as irksome noise. But for un-musical person, there was a reason. There was no parking space, not enough space to drive through the road to reach the steps! All I saw was traffic jam.


Big huge tourist buses, scrambling for space with different sized cars, trying to reverse in small space to escape the mayhem, little wonder that the expert drivers were not plunged down the deep valley to give me some extra-ordinary shots..

My friends complained about the 700 crores rotting in Swiss banks when they could be easily used to beautify the tourist spots and create jobs for low income groups.

"Are not the authorities in the higher place aware that there are thousands of tourists who would be interested in visiting such historical places." grumbled my friend, "The least the government could do was to build a proper infrastructure to make the people’s life easier and pleasant."

There was open space one kilometer away from the actual site and those who braved to climb up the fort to appreciate the site had to walk a mile in the hot sun to board the comfortable vehicle which was parked so faraway.

Had I climbed up the fort I would have seen the museum and also a Badami Talav, my friends went up there and came back panting, sweating and grumpily shared their experience with us.  
 

I was not that brave to climb those steep and high rocks they called steps. I am a delicate darling and only pure comfort will suffice. I chose to wait in the vehicle, rather than climb up the fort and then walk back one kilometer in hot sun. I shut myself  from this commotion by switching on my smart phone and entering the virtual world, reading the comments of my friends on twitter and facebook. The face-to-face interaction in the real world is diminishing nowadays and online virtual friends walk into my mind to scream their rants. When I woke back to the real world surrounding me, I sat listening to the endless rants of my friends who complained non stop about our inefficient system of government and their insensitivity towards common man’s comfort.

I could not solve their woes and I am sure nobody will.

It happens only in India

Friday, 24 December 2010

Shopping for my niece


Who says women like shopping? It is such a boring job especially if you have to shop for others.

These days I am shopping for my niece because she has no time. She is studying medicine in Spain but needs some good clothes for her sister’s wedding and its me and my sister who are aunting.

My sas says she has found one nice store at Elco market in Bandra. I wriggle my nose. I don’t like that flashy market, it used to be nice market once upon a time, but now it has lost its charm. Every time I walk inside the Elco Market, each store assistant opens the door wide, inviting me to walk into their store and I am too embarrassed to refuse. I like to do window shopping but I can’t stand those grinning faces.

My sas and I enter the store where she wants me to have a lookie, lookie….

I really have no intention of buying from this store but when I enter, I see some nice kurtis at reasonable rates.

I ask for a seat.

The store keeper gives me few magazines, asking me to select some designs and he is willing to ape exactly the same pattern. The ‘picture in the magazine’ stares back at me as I try to fit those dresses on my niece’s imaginary figure. I am more interested in seeing intricacy of his work. He shows me his collection of ghagra cholis, mermaid style dresses, embroidered kurtis, saris, etc. The fashion keeps changing and every time I am out window shopping, I have seen new designs, new styles, and newer cuts. There is lot of creativity out there. Every fractured piece becomes a new design and miraculously it works fine. The craftsmanship of the tailors is amazing. There are quilted, embroidered work laced with colorful stones and pearls, some sequences of different shapes, entwined into the collage of typical ethnic styles. The designers use their skills to combine different colors for best visual effects.

As I leaf through different designs in various books, I am not impressed. I have some style of my own,( yes I do design sometimes) etched in my head. I ask for paper pencil and sketch the pattern for the designer to see. I have made five layered, pleated net gown with brocade border and matching belt. The brocade is laced with white stones at the edges. Next I draw brocade corset with halter neck and a long stole of net with brocade border. I select different shades of blue asking him to give a shimmering blue petticoat under the blue net skirt. I ask him to work out the cost.

He takes fifteen minutes to work out the cost of the garment that I have deisgned and then gives me the figures.

I faint

I think he is crazy, how can a simple garment of just net, brocade and stones cost Rs12000?

I spend another thirty minutes bargaining.

We arrive on a common ground of Rs10500.

It’s crazy. I have never ever worn such an expensive dress. I wouldn’t waste so much money on clothes which I might wear just once.

Well aunting is a tough job. Can’t disappoint my niece!

Dare I??

Monday, 20 December 2010

Eating Out at Vientiene Loas


Red, pink, yellow, white, there were flowers of all colors everywhere, rocking slowly with the breeze in the lawns, Christmas lights circled the tree trunks, announcing that the Christmas is just round the corner. Neat, narrow, concrete paths, leading to the tables where diners enjoyed the ambience as they munched on their meals. I waited patiently for diners to hurry up, finish up their meal and vacate their table, so that I could start my dinner. I was starving. There was no table vacant. This seemed like a popular venue. Here I was, at Poysian Pulkone, a Korean restaurant in Vientiene Loas.



One thing nice about visiting new places is that you are eager to try new cuisine, especially the specialty of that city; I am always ready to brave a strange meal. Many times, the food may not suit me and I get bad stomach/ allergies from too much adventure but that does not discourage me from trying out new dishes in new places. So here I was, in the restaurant famous for its BBQ cuisine. Every table was fitted with a gaping hole into which they inserted tumbler of burning charcoal, as soon as the new set of diners occupied the table.


Plates containing peanut sauce, salads, garlic, ginger, shallots, deep fried brinjals, steamed green chillies, a tumbler of clear soup, and assorted meat filled up every area of the table


A perforated soup plate was inserted on the charcoal tumbler,, and thus our table was set for BBQ in which we were expected to roast the assorted meat on perforated centre and soak them into the soup on its' sides.


A vegetarian person is most likely to starve here ( just sit at home for quieter meals) while others can roast the meat, fill the soup plate with the clear soup, add all the greens, and everything that is on the table, lace it with all the possible condiments to relish the taste.



It was a delicious meal and I think I did take an extra mouthful. (hafta watch my weight) I couldn’t help turning my head at ninety degrees to watch slyly at the next table. They were enjoying too









Sunday, 19 December 2010

Origami Birds

On our return from Ventiene Loas, we spend a day at Udon Thani, from where we were to board plane back to Bangkok. At the ticket counter, there was a bouquet of fresh flowers which were mainly orchids, and in between the flowers there was a small bird in origami. So tiny that it was surprising that my cousin observed it, she plucked out the tiny paper bird and pushed in my hands. The girls behind the counter were amused. They pointed to more such tiny birds in other bouquets and each time my cousin plucked it and placed it in my hands.



We went through immigration and waited for more than an hour in the waiting lounge.

When the announcement was made for boarding the flight, we stood in line. The girl, whom we had met earlier at the ticket counter was now waiting at the exit to check our boarding pass. When she saw my cousin, she smiled and presented her enclosed envelop.

There were 20 more birds made in origami by her, all made from flyers




Happy journey she said, smiling once again.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Celebrating Children’s Day 2010 Virtually

I remember celebrating this day with gusto when I was a kid. Every year this day would be celebrated in school with snacks (popcorn, wafers, glucose biscuits and candies), some balloons, gifts, games and same boring speech by our principle.

Every year we would hear the same story that November 14 is celebrated as Children's Day across India to mark the birthday of India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlala Nehru. He loved children very much and was popularly known as 'Chacha Nehru' (Uncle Nehru)!
Every year I would hear our teachers say “Children are the future of tomorrow, you must grow up to be good citizens” and I would anxiously wait for the future when I would be fully grown up.

But I never grew.

The child in me refused to grow up. (what to do?) I am still excited by the rainbow on a cloudy day (yayaya!!). I will still run after a colorful butterfly. (Yipeee!) I still laugh heartily at a good/bad joke (Hahhaaha). I still get annoyed when people ignore me(eeewww). I will still cry/sob when I am sad.(sniff! sniff!)

This year, children’s day was on a Sunday. Normally, my virtual world is closed on Sundays.

Sunday is the family time and I try to avoid going online as much as possible, (although not always successful). There are moments when I peep into my smart phone for a while, stealing some moments from the family time. And with BB within my reach, it is easy to do that. Actually I don’t do it but that child in me does it. (So not my fault at all)

Thus, at the end of the day, when I finally went online on my desk-top (the proper proffessional way), I saw that I had missed a great party.

The great party was at twitter board.

People had tweeted about various things they did #wheniwasakid and (I had missed it, but noworries) I was happy to tweet on this hash even though I knew none of my friends were there online.

#whenIwasakid I would steal baby milk powder and eat it secretly when aunt would be asleep

#whenIwasakid i never knew how to swim or went for any extra class

#whenIwasakid I always worried abt fan falling off from ceiling n crushing me

#whenIwasakid I was afraid of every person in uniform, be it police or a nurse or even a nun

#whenIwasakid I was terribly afraid of earthquake and had tied mom's pallu to my little finger n followed her wherever she went

People had chatted about the things they did in their childhood at #bachhpan too and had posted their childhood pics. It was interesting to read all those tweets. My friend saw me online and asked me to post my childhood picture.

I didn’t have any.

Perhaps my family was not very rich or maybe I was not that pretty enough for my parents to invest money on camera or maybe- both. I don’t have any childhood pictures. There are few pictures clicked by rich uncles and aunts who must have visited my family during that time, but there is none of me alone. But since my friend wanted me to upload my profile picture, I stole one from baby wall-papers on net and posted at a collage titled twitter #bachpan 2010.


I was happy to see my picture in that collage


When I visited google to search for a picture of babies, the picture on the google page was a pleasant surprise created by 14 year old kid from Mangalore-Akshay Raj who won the second Doodle4Google India 2010 competition!


His logo was up on Google India's homepage throughout the day. He named it as 'My dream for India in 2030'. I must appreciate his thoughts as it clearly speaks of his dream, his maturity at such a young age. The logo simply sums up every aspect of growing India

Last hour of the children’s day was spend reading about my friends childhood memories and having a good laugh, and like every other day, I need a midnight feast, walked to my kitchen to extract a box of sweets , thus ended the day with a bite of cold sweet laddoo – sinfully

Find me at twitter at pushpz

Friday, 12 November 2010

Random thoughts -Why are we always trying to please?

People who like us will accept us the way we are, so why must we go out of our way to be goody-goody?

In trying to please others, we are too obssessed with comparing ourselves to others.

Whenever we try to compare ourselves to others, a strange feeling comes over us making us feel superior or inferior as the case may be..

We are not ready to admit that we lack something and we try to cover that up with silence or may sometimes go secretedly to a library to understand that knowledge of know-how or simply we may drown ourselves in self pity when we feel that we never had opportunity to learn and the circumstance were not in our favor.

On the other hand, when we feel superior and think that we are more intelligent than our friends, we start wearing the cap of attitude and we close our mind to further learning....

In both counts we are pretending to be what we are not.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Celebration

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 16; the sixteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.



One more Diwali this year.

I think, the craze diminishes with age, especially if you don’t have children to enjoy with, it is not like those Diwali days of yester years when we were kids.

This year it wore a subdued mood.

Best Diwali was celebrated during those days when mom was alive. It had a different meaning then. Mom would start cleaning the house fifteen days before the D-day, which would be followed by shopping for new clothes, then making sweets, distributing to family and friends and finally the prayers, with plenty of gifts exchanged, some of them recycled. There would be lots of crackers and fireworks, mud lamps were placed at every window sill in the house and balconies would be lit with colorful bulbs. We would have continuous stream of guests, and of course lots of phone calls from relatives who lived abroad.

But, after mom, nothing is same.

With 90% of my older relatives dead and gone, the few that are left, they live in their own world.

Cleaning is done by maids, sweets and savories purchased from the stores and shopping is just a norm. We are shopping all year round so this is just another day.

I walk downstairs to meet the kids in my building compound and they are bursting expensive rockets. ‘How much did you pay for this 30 seconds pleasure?” I ask their father as I see the rocket go up in the sky and burst into thousand spraklers "Don’t even mention, it burns our heart and our pocket” they say “We have paid through our nose” and their kids looked at them with crinkled nose trying to understand what we meant and I tell them “Beta, you don’t understand how difficult the times are now, wait for 20 years and you will understand”

The children continue to derive the pleasure of bursting more crackers, those bigger strings of 2000 noisy crackers and I pause for a longer time to complete my unfinished sentence.

I am proud of the blinking red-rose shaped bulbs, which runs parallel to string of colored bigger bulbs and then there is one more string of hundred tiny green bulbs running across my balcony grill in the zigzag fashion. I am elated each time I go to my balcony to admire them, and then suddenly...Oh No! It is raining heavily, wetting my extension cord. It never used to rain during Diwali . Global warming! Bah! It is darkness again.

I recieve many SMS's, people sending me the forwards with no originality or personal touch. I do the same. All my friends are on social media and they all wish me on Face-book. No postman arrives with a greeting card. (when they come for Diwali bakshis they have an embarrassed look) All of my NRI family is on a smart phone and they exchange virtual sweets, jokes and greetings, but nobody calls to wish…no warm voice I hear. Every body’ messages I read on line and smile…alone.

I am glad that I do have family and friends towards whom I can stretch and reach physically.

I eat, pray and love during Diwali for sometime with them, offline

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Fast Women Fast


Early morning, my fingers grope for BlackBerry, as I lay in bed.

I start my day with the messages that I might have missed while I was sleeping. After reading BB messages, I check my emails, then Facebook, Twitter, Internet explorer. By the time I am ready to get up from the bed, I am already enlightened by my friends’ state of mind and what are they thinking, with the world news, with all the latest jokes and the topic of discussions for a day.

Today, everybody is talking about ‘Karwa-Chaud’, a fast that women keep for health and prosperity of their husband. Abstainers are hoping that their spouse will outlive them.

Ah! I am glad that I am responsible only for my self.

So they fast, those women in red, with large round bindi on their forehead, dark green bangles jingled on their hands but, do their hubbies appreciate and treat them well?

Why do u starve, oh women folk? Know it not that it's an old story told? The health of men depends on his vice; your diet has no ropes on his life.

Starve if you must then it could be, to learn the hunger of a child on the street, whose parents brought him thoughtlessly to quench their greed shamelessly.

You could starve on the days when you have bigger waistline, it pains you to see your unhealthy lifeline, just for day you could stop those fatty canap├ęs that you gorge greedily on a whipped cream.

But then, who am I to advocate? Huh?

All day long I see married women celebrating their fast together, visiting temples, listening to stories of woman achievers who have prospered in their love-life, many of them forgetting and forgiving the abuses that are hurled at them every hour of the day.

They all look so much in love.

In the evening, when I go for open-mike poetry performance at the Prithvi theatre, there are more love poems. Love is in the air. Am I missing something?

The woman recites, "I would like to wrap you all over me, feel your breath and touch your glow," and I am enthralled by her emotive desires. I am thinking “How do you feel when he comes home, swinging his butt, fully drunk, do you say "Duh!"

Late night, my friends and I walk on the beach. This is a Juhu Beach - one of the dirtiest beaches of Mumbai, a beach where one would not risk wetting a toe. The moon shines brightly reflecting its silver rays on the water. It’s a low tide. There is no wind. Everywhere, I see the cluster of women sitting in a group around the burning lamps and incense sticks, praying to the moon.

Having survived without food all day, they offer their prayers to the moon; the conclusion of Karva Chauth involves the offering of sanctified water (arghya) to the moon, as it represents Shiva and Parvati, there will be feast to celebrate with their spouse.

Their spouse will be treated like God today.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Book launch of ‘Women Changing India’


Unlike the other events that I have attended, this book launch was unique. Most of the book launches that I have attended are the type where the author, or his chief guest rip opens the book, few passages are read, then there are questions and answers session and finally to buy an autographed copy. Most of the time I pick the book that I don’t really need it but am obliged to buy, I may even add few words of encouragement to the author (if she/he is a friend) and then I am home, dump the book on the shelf of ‘To-be-read-when-I-find-time-or-interest-to-read’.

This was a launch of coffee-table book of photographs and essay by six authors and six photographers. This book attempts to map in words and pictures, some of the changes that are both visible and invisible in the India of today.


The event included exhibition of the blown-up photographs of the content in the book. We (my friend and I) walked around admiring the photographs by Raghu Rai, Martine Franck, Olivia Arthur, Alex Webb, Alessandra Sanguinetti and Patrick Zachmann. There were pictures of women who have made difference in people’s lives, their power radiating behind their teakwood desk. There were glimpse into the lives of women who have been the driving force in uplifting the Indian economy. There were pictures of women in Bollywood world, in corporate world, in banking, some across the villages doing the hard labour and some in taxi-business for women (training and driving school for women), security guards and others covering a broad spectrum of women across various field.


But, like I was saying that this book launch was totally different. There was only one book on display, not for sale, nor any author to autograph it. The weather was quite warm; I was feeling sorry for those foreigners and other corporate people who were dressed in three-piece suit, not really understanding our comfort in cotton clothes. (I was tempted to tell them, when in India , dress like Indians do..ah well) The inauguration was started by lighting of the lamp in the traditional Indian way, followed by speeches by the guests, during which the people in three-piece suits had walked outside for fresh air or to attend to more important phone-calls and had walked inside the Shamiana only after the speeches were done and it was time for yum…snacks and drinks.

This is the first book launch where I have been offered snacks like chicken tikka, fish cutlets, Paneer puffs, veg kababs, cakes, and wide range of drinks and cocktails! It was fun moving around, watching those pictures again and again and munching on those delicious snacks that made their rounds endlessly. When we had our fill, we walked into the auditorium that was playing the looped presentation of those photographs that were displayed outside in the lawns.

It was a lovely evening and I am told that this book will be available in market next month.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Thursday Challenge

Picture clicked in Darjeeling during my recent trip

Linking this photo to Thursday Challenge

Golden is the sunlight reflected on its leaves as it smiles,

Searching for its direction,

Chasing the Sun.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

What a man likes in a woman

My BIL spends most of his evenings with his friends on the terrace, they sit togather, drinking, snacking and chatting.Today since my sister had gone off to a temple for Mata Devi darshan, I went with him to the terrace. I was sitting with his friends, enjoying the cool breeze and just listening to their conversation without taking part in any of their chat.

His friend, a baldy one in late 60s, was talking of his youth when he had to choose a bride for himself , he says...

At a marriagable age, I told my mom very clearly that there are three things that I will expect from the girl whom I marry.

One

She should not be too bony around her neck area, because when I wear her a diamond necklace it should look nice on her neck, if she is too bony then the necklace will look tilted and lop-sided

Two

When she smiles, there should be no gums visible, it looks very ugly then they have smaller teeth and large pink gums staring at you

Three-

She should have etiquettes and must not do funny things with her hands..like scratching unnecessarily, picking her nose or rubbing her face

Hahahaahaha!! What a creep!!!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Creative beggar


It is always embarrassing for me when the beggar knock on my car window at the signal especially when I am with my friend who is a foreigner. Some of the beggars harass my friends too much when they see their color (too white/too black)


There are many a times when I make up stories (fooling myself more than fooling others) that India is not as poor like it seems and that begging is just another profession which is a bit easier than the rest and that many people would rather beg then seek a proper employment. I always explain to them that beggars have very innovative ideas and sometimes quite hilarious too.

Like the incident that happened today.

No, we were not travelling by car today; I decided to take Lorenzo by auto, since she was highly amused by a three-wheeler that required no seat belts. Haha!

Lorenzo (my friend from Spain) and I were travelling in an auto when our auto-rickshaw stopped at red signal. A young guy with a red cap approached our auto with bunch of flowers in his hand. He removed one flower from the bunch and gave it to Lorenzo saying ‘Good morning, have a nice day”

Highly amused that this guy on the street spoke English, she removed Rs20 and gave to him.

The guy smiled and gave back Rs20 back to her saying that he was no beggar but was giving flowers to people just out of good will.

Lorenzo insisted that he take Rs20 and that it was not as a charity but that she wanted to give him.

The guy smiled and said that if she really wanted to help then she could give him money to buy milk powder for his child.

“Well then, buy milk powder for your child with this Rs20” said Lorenzo pushing the money back into his palm.

“Sorry ma’am.” he said handing Rs20 back to her, “But I cannot get milk powder for Rs20, I need Rs100 to buy the milk powder for my baby.”

Hahahaahaa!!

Talk about begging, this one is a royal beggar! He won’t accept Rs20 because he wants Rs100!!

I was thinking how many people had he fooled this way.

The signal changed to green

“Why don’t you ask you wife to breast feed your child instead” said Lorenzo angrily and snatched the money from his hand as I suppressed my grin.

Monday, 4 October 2010

The games has just begun

Yes, it is true, twenty days ago I wanted to disown Delhi.

I was disgusted with the 'don't care' paan stains screaming on the walls, the leaky roofs of 'chalta hai' attitudes, the filthy smell of corrupted money seeping into its gutters, the blame game, the exposure of truth..

I was embarrassed with the amount of money spend on CWG while we have beggars peeping through our car glass windows at every signal, children running barefoot on the streets behind the vehicles with flowers in their hand hoping that the person will change his mind and stop his car to buy flowers from him. There are not enough schools and hospitals, the city is forever under repairs and the people waste too much time stuck in a traffic jam.

What a shame!!!

The $80 toilet-paper rolls, the $61 soap dispensers, $125 first aid kits, the 30 crores worth of earthen pots, the 9 lacs for rented treadmill? All this in a country where people live on $2 a day? those who built the games? Ace photographer SAMAR JODHA captures the silent testimonials of the workers who have seen the most inhuman face of the CWG  and it is too painful to watch those pictures.

The whole world saw the altheletes' village photos and was disgusted. Dog paws on the mattresses, the filthy bathrooms, water logged venues, danger of mosquito infested marshy areas, the snakes….. how much more ugly can the situation get?

And ohhH! That collapsed bridge!

But still, we forgot all our anger on the day of opening ceremony.

We relished the show on National TV, (that bored us to tears with long interruption of lengthy ads.) We enjoyed and cheered on twitter and on Facebook, congratulating each other and puffing our chest with pride..

Loved that sand painting of Gandhiji’s dandi march, the dancers and the folk heritage

CWG opening ceremony proved that India stands united in art and culture.

Didn’t know there was so much money under the carpet that they could buy that gas balloon!!.  If only there was no corruption and greed, we could be bathing in prosperity. 

The question is 'how will we recover that 70 crores,"???? Will the life of those workers who built that village improve? Will our country be clean ever?

My material comfort lies in vasooli of that money...:)

Friday, 1 October 2010

I am at the receiving end ~ Part 8

My Pillars of strength- My Family and Friends
I am truly blessed


With a family and friends like mine who wouldn’t be?

My family is scattered all over the world but staying in Mumbai has its advantages, I get to meet everybody whenever they travel to India, and the best part is that they are all interested in my activities, proud of my decision to live on my own and are willing to accompany me to the school to meet the Special children for whom I care.

During this Joy of Giving Week I wish to thank my family who has given their financial and the moral support to the Special school on regular basis and have sponsored children for education, transport and other activities, and for the nutrition program.

During this Joy of Giving week I wish to thank –
Gitoo Shafizada, Asgar Shafizada, Neha Shafizada(Lagos), Suresh Moorjani, Meenu Moorjani(Tenerife), Kanchu Shadadpuri, Anil Shadadpuri(Las Palmas)Vinod Mirpuri, JaiKumar Mirpuri, Varsha Mirpuri, Nihalchand Mirpuri, Bindhiya Tekwani(Bangkok), Chandru Mirpuri, Hema Mirpuri, Meenu Sabnani, Dina Sabnani, Kenny Mirpuri, Asha Mirpuri, Roshelle Lachmandas, Dolly Mirpuri, Romesh Mirpuri (HongKong), Rinku Chugani, Aarti Sitaldas, Ram Sitaldas, Karina Sitaldas(Manila), Suresh Shivdasani(Texas), Sunil Mirpuri, Karishma Mirpuri (NewYork), Gina Balani(Curacoa), Kishore Daswani(Rome), Sonu Vaswani(Baroda), Devika Mirpuri, Moti Mirpuri, Kamlu Mansinghani, Suresh Mansinghani, (Poona) Rhea Motwani, Devka Mansukhni, Ram Mansukhani, Rachna Moorjani(Mumbai)

Also my sincere thanks to Mr Niresh Daryanani who has always been my guide and has helped me connect to other families in Tenerife: My sincere thanks to Bharti Bhavnani, Ashok Daryanani, Sr.Domingo, Arthur Kevin, Margaret Linklater, Sr. Franco, Hispano GB, Bhavna and Prakash Vaswani, Pinky and Hanisha, Sajni Daswani and Shenaz, Toni Khemlani and IBYS

Thank you all for your kind support.

My sincere thanks to all my friends who visited my blog during this week and actually read all the parts 1-8 patiently.

Thank you so much.

I am at the receiving end ~ 7


Kitty Parties with a heart

While all of India were twindling their thumbs, waiting for Ayodhya verdict, children at Swami Brahmanand were enjoying a delicious lunch of rice, dhal, vegetable, pickle, curd and Jalebi on30th September 2010. It was the special day, one of those days of  'Joy of Giving Week', and their lunch was sponsored by Lachu Daswani, a member of IWCA (Indian Women’s charity Association of Madrid)

IWCA members regularly sponsors meals for the children on certain memorable days, interacting with me on my BlackBerry or on email, we discuss the menu and the expenses while organizing the lunch. On regular days too, the under nourished children are grouped under nutrition program, where by they are given the portion of milk, biscuit and fruit everyday.

I.W.C.A. is a non-profit organization with over 160 members, borne from the need to help those less fortunate than them. While most of the rich women spend their time in kitty parties, in idle chat or in cards playing groups, the members of IWCA add a newer perspective to their parties.

During my last visit to Madrid, I had met this vibrant group and learnt about the various activities that these ladies perform regularly during their spare time with their mission to reach out to people in need, regardless of their caste and creed. They help by providing for education, basic amenities (food, water, and shelter), medical necessities and operate mainly in Spain and India.

Seven of the members are the sponsors of seven children at school providing school fees, uniform, transport, and other activities, by making a difference into the under-priviledged children's lives..

During this ‘Joy of Giving ' week, I take this opportunity to thank the members of IWCA: Minoo Hathiramani,Anmol Sukhwani Neetu Chugani, Haseen Mahthani, Kamlu Daswani, Ramesh Shamdasani, and members of IWCA, who help bring a smile to the children’s faces by catering to their nutritional and their educational needs

Thank you so much.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

I am at the receiving end ~ Part 6

Help just arrives silently on tiptoes

Most of my friends, who know about my activities with Special children, express their desire to help, (almost everybody whom I have met have shown me that spark) but I am always at loss of words when they ask me how they can help, I truly don't know what to say and the first thing that comes to my mind is funding for the activities and giving monetary help to that school.

Money is the basic requirement for any project to keep afloat

But over the years I have realized that monetary help is not the only way that one can help , there are many more ways to show their support, which can done voluntarily or just by spreading awareness. Knowledge can be shared in many ways and there are many people out there who are not even aware that mentally challenged children can be trained and can contribute to the society if properly channelized.

It is just the matter of connecting the children through the right source, by creating opportunities for them so that they too can contribute in their small way and fit into the groove.

Word of mouth is the powerful medium of link

At this moment I would like to mention three of my FB friends who are doing just that.

Swagat Sen, who is documentary filmmaker and media fanatic, I know him from Ryze days when we used to share art and paintings on one art-forum. When he is not working, he spends lot of time reading, sharing links and spreading social messages on FB. I am so grateful to Swagat, for regularly spreading awareness about my school to his friends circle in biosphere.

Raamesh Gowri Raghavan, is a FB friend from Mumbai writers’ group. While most of the people spend their holidays, relaxing or enjoying with their family and friends, Raamesh donates his Saturday mornings voluntarily helping in the administrative work at school. He has become the integral part of the school and the teachers and students at school look forward to his regular weekly visits.

Pallavi Subramanium, a housewife from London and a very dear friend is the new entrant to my family of well wishers. She is the sponsor of one student and pays fees for the education, travelling and extra-curriculum activities of one child, making it possible for the child to avail of the facilities needed for training and education under an experienced teacher.

During this ‘Joy of Giving’ week, I take this opportunity to thank my friends Swagat, Raamesh and Pallavi for reaching out to special children and making a difference into their life.

Thank you so much!!

I am at the receiving end ~ Part 5

Colorful Wall of Love

The day I drove down the Tulsi Pipe road in Mumbai and saw those wonderful paintings on the wall separating the railway lines from a busy road, I wanted that art work on my school walls too. Art has a special way of lifting up the spirit and taking one to a spiritual mode. I was thinking of how lively children would feel with vibrant colors in the school, how by adding texture and form to the walls, it could enhance their visual element, and how good they would feel seeing their art work so loud and clear.


I called up Parag Gandhi (the member of the Wall project) to help me paint the walls of my school and he was most willing to help. He asked me to get in touch with his co-worker Dhanya Pilo, who would advise me on all the things that we would need before the real event.

I removed few pictures of the empty walls that needed painting, mainly the walls of the school facing the street. All the colors and materials were purchased and one Sunday morning, (on 20th September 2009) children, their parents and the locals living nearby were invited to participate in the wall project.

Parag Gandhi, Dhanya Pilo, Nitya Amarnath, Rachna Kapoor and their team arrived at school, with their creative ideas packed into their mind, not knowing what the final results would be. The vibrant colors and brushes of all sizes lay before them. The Special children, and their family and friends looked at them curiously...... waiting.....till...the first paint box was open,…. the colors distracted them and with the brush in their hands, the artistic emotions spilled over.

Soon all the children picked up the brushes and the box of paints, they dragged their parents to the wall overlooking the street and together they splashed the paints on the wall. The colors have a certain kind of magic, within one hour, more than hundred people were painting the walls, when there was no space left on the outside wall, they walked in and within four hours all the walls, inside out , were painted with motifs, cartoon characters, flowers, scenery .

What we saw at the end of the day cannot be defined in words….

Images of the day from school walls had a colorful story to tell...

Children were very excited to show off their work to ones who had missed the event.....there was surprised look from parents and teachers too who were feeling bad that they could not witness such a great event.

One child (sibling to special child) said, "I didn't know that we were going to paint a wall, I thought I am just going to see some people paint in a sketch book but I was feeling so good painting on the wall! It was so much fun!!"

The wall looks good and attracts the passerby.

During this ‘Joy of Giving week’, I wish to show my appreciation to the members of wall project - Parag Gandhi, Dhanya Pilo, Nitya Amarnath, Rachna Kapoor – who helped us paint the wall of love

Thank you so much!!!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

I am the receiving end ~ part 4

                                            IBYS – The big brother


This is the week to show my appreciation to people who care……

Each time I go to Tenerife, I always visit IBYS (International British Yeoward School).

During my last visit, I made a power presentation of Swami Brahmananad Pratishthan for the group of IBYS students. After my power presentation, a 7-years-old young boy came up to me and asked me if he could help those children in India. I was so touched by his interest for those children whom he had never ever met that I cuddled him closer and explained to him about mental retardation.

The students were moved by my presentation, and they organized a boot sale and a fund raising program where they sold cakes, pastries and other delicacies made by them. Before I left for India, they invited me again to the school and handed over 500 Euros for the kids.

IBYS is the school for elite who have helped our school since last eight years.

In 2002 Mrs Linklater and Mr. Arthur (the staff members) decided to step in and give us a hand on our very huge project called “Project-50” which would enable an additional fifty students to be accommodated in our school for vocational activities. The expansion of our school meant a large expense for a brand new Vocational unit to be built on a totally new floor. The school under their guidance organized various bazaars , fairs etc and contributed partly for this project.

Since last eight years, our relationship with this school has matured. They helped sponsor our 'Go Green' project, whereby children are trained in gardening and are able to earn a little stipend by selling the sapling

For our children who were finding it difficult to use the public transport, IBYS collected funds and helped us to buy a mini bus for the school.

Over the period, their regular funds have been used to furnish the different classroom. As recent as in May 2010, kitchen articles were also purchased for our vocational unit.

We have two students who are sponsored by them; the expenses cover everything, education, uniform and activities.

During this ‘Joy of Giving week, I would like to show my appreciation to these 2 wonderful teachers, Mrs Margaret Linklater and Mr. Kevin Arthur, and the students of IBYS, who have sacrificed so much for a small school , in a distant land , a modest school for the mentally challenged which has really spent a long time struggling to stay afloat .

Thank you so much!!!

Monday, 27 September 2010

I am at the receiving end ~ part 3

FB status message has weight

One good thing I like about the facebook is the status updates.


I spend more than thirty minutes per day, reading my friend’s updates. “What’s on your mind?’ it says and I am highly amused reading the thoughts of my friends, sometimes in verse and sometimes in quotes. Some are funny, some are silly, some just crib and some are very informative.

And

Some status messages on Facebook have some weight and this I discovered when I saw Mayuri Shaarma’s status.

Her status messages are appreciated in blogosphere; they are witty and fun to read. Many people have suggested to her to jot down the messages for a future book sale (of that I am jealous, heheehehe, nah, actually envious)

During the Rakhi festival, she purchased some rakhis made by the kids of the Special School, these were simple Rakhis, some vibrant colorful threads with small beads meticulously strung together and she had loved them. One day she surprised me by posting her status message that mentioned me, “Earn some karmic points, by buying beautiful Rakhi’s from Swayam. Contact ‘Pushpa Moorjani’ for more details.”

This status had great results. Many of her friends hopped over into my friend list and many of her friends contacted me to ask for details. Such wonderful friends she has. Not only did they help in sale of Rakhis but have also been associated indirectly with the school. Her friend Jyotsana Kumar is blogger who writes regularly about the problems faced by the parent’s of MR Child, her blog is very informative and beneficial to the parents of our students and it is now linked with the school blog.

Her other friend, Mamta Khatiwala, who lives in USA, ordered more Rakhis than what she would need and paid generously for it, all this for the school that she has never visited but heard about it from Mayuri’s FB status.

What was more, she sold those extra rakhis to her friends and collected more funds for the school, her reason being that she would normally purchas rakhis in her home town for around $2-$4 and they were so pathetic. She felt cheated when she was forced to buy them because she believed that those were the left over Rakhi's that our Desi Bandhu's ( store owners) got from India and sold them there at premium price & people like them bought it as they had no choice.

“I sincerely believe that God has his ways to pick people and bless them by sending opportunities as such!” says Mamta

How true!!

Blessed are those who get these opportunities to meet such people who connect them with the other world and lucky are the kids at my school.

During this ‘Joy of Giving’ week, I take this opportunity to thank these three young ladies.

Thank you Jyotsana and Mamta, Thank you Mayuri, IOU big time!!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

I am at a receiving end ~ Part 2

Power of Internet

Four years ago, much before I discovered Facebook, I was an active Ryzer. I took part in daily discussion at different forums and made many friends. Many times the friendship extended to private messages that had tightened my friendship with many people and they had seeped into my closer circles.


Inner strength and compassion can make one touch the person whom one has never physically met. The distance between two people depends on common interest. Two people sitting in the same room may be miles apart, on the other hand if one truly cares, the distance diminishes and all that matters is the interest in sharing the moments that lead to the common goal of happiness. The person who finds such friends is the luckiest one.

And I am truly blessed with many such good friends!!

Vimmi Jaggi (Vee Jay) is one of those friends whom I came in contact during those days, four years ago. She would send me private messages and we would exchange notes. She expressed her admiration for my work and wanted to help my school. One night I stayed up late to have long chat with her. I had never before spoken to any stranger online. This was my complete new experience. It was the first time that I realized the power of internet. I became aware that there are many people out there who can be reached by only ‘words’, that you don’t have to physically touch the person to see whether they care, that as long as you do things with a clean heart, the universe provides the opportunities.

I was hesitant to talk, I am not used to talking with strangers, I would only chat on msn with my family members and close friends who are spread around the world, Vee Jay was the first stranger to whom I spoke online and she made me comfortable and listened patiently as we discussed the activities of my school, Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan, Centre for Mentally Challenged; she was impressed and she ordered two hundred dollars worth of greeting cards and a painting in oils made by the children of my school. She helped sell those cards to her friends in USA and spread the awareness about my school.

Our friendship has come a long way. I have never met her till now, someday I will. Every time we chat, she will inquire about the school and their activities and she is very keen to visit my school when she visits me in Mumbai in future, someday. She has helped spread the awareness about this school to all her friends in her circle.

During this ‘Joy of Giving’ week, I take this opportunity to thank my friend Vimmi for showing me the power of internet and helping me spread awareness about my school to the unknown world.

Thank you Vimz , thank you so much!!!

Friday, 24 September 2010

I am at the receiving end ~ Part 1

The Joy of Giving week starts on 26th September and I have been at the receiving end.


I am blessed with well wishers who admire my work with ‘Mentally Challenged children at Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan’ and they have extended their hand, reached out to me and have helped me to certain extend in helping me follow my dream,

So what is my dream?

It’s a simple dream of empowering the mentally challenged to lead a better life. I can never change their physical handicap, it is something that they are born with and they have to learn to live with, I cannot even change their living conditions, actually I can hardly change a thing but this is my feeble attempt to bring a smile to their faces by trying to help them in which-ever-way I can.

And for this, I am grateful to my friends and well-wishers for their moral and their financial support.

The next week, during this ‘Joy of Giving’ week, I will dedicate one post per day to show my appreciation to my friends who have cross my path, turned back and walked a mile with me.

So, watch out this space………

Friday, 17 September 2010

Sweating over 500-rupee-note

source: banknotes

I was in two minds today, either go to ‘Arena Animation Class’ for Flash practice or go to school for some updates.

I am all ready at 12 noon, I wanted to go to ‘Arena’ but I know that the instructor may not even bother to teach me any new tricks on animation because he does that only every alternate days and today is not that day, so by the time I have walked out of my gate, hailed an auto, I say ‘Bandra Bus station’

I am lucky that the auto overtakes my bus in time for me to board it.

I settle in the front seat just behind the driver all set for the 90 minutes trip, the cool AC breeze just above my head has no regulator. *Oh dear*! I have my BlackBerry to keep me away from other distractions.

The conductor comes to my seat and I give him 500-rupee-note and tell him “Belapur, CBD.”

“Give me the change, I won’t take your 500-rupee-note” he says

*What the hell* the bus ticket is Rs60 and he wants a smaller note? How can he not have a change?

“I have no change. My journey is long, you may give me the change at the end of the journey, and there is lots of time.” I say, as I fumble with my reading glasses.

“We don’t accept 500-rupee-notes” he says

Now this is news for me. A public bus does not accept big notes and they have no change? Are they afraid of fake notes that are doing the rounds in the city nowadays?

They want no risk.

*Thinking if those Babus will also stop accepting Rs500 in bribes*

“So what you want me to do? I don’t have smaller notes.”

“In that case you cannot travel in this bus.”

Huh? He is asking me to de-board the bus because I have bigger notes? *I have heard about people being asked to de-board if they have been pickpocketed and are not having any cash on them" but this? This is ridiculous.

I ask the girl sitting next to me to move over so that I can get off the bus. She is sorry for me and asks me to request the people in the bus for a change of 500-rupee-note.

*How silly it will look if I flash my 500-note, seat by seat, asking each commuter for a change?*

I am in no mood to draw the attention to myself, the bus is moving quite slowly, actually crawling, and there is too much traffic jam. I ask the driver to wait while a get the change from the shop outside.

None of the shops oblige. Nobody has 500-rupee change!! I never knew this was such a big note!

The driver is getting restless and refuses to wait.

*Go to hell* I wave out to him and he drives away.

Now I am desperate. I enter a fast food kiosk and he is willing to give me the change but, only if I give him some business.

I am not hungry, nor I am thirsty but order a bottle of orange juice.

With this unnecessary extra baggage of this juice bottle dangling by my fingers, I am too lazy for a long trip, I decide to go to ‘Arena Animation class’ instead.

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