A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)


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Microblog Mondays 2: The import of Culture

You’re probably wondering whether you want to read this at all, going by the number of “culture”d posts that are growing on the internet thanks to the event of the Moment that the whole world and its Mother-in-law are talking about! I refer, of course, to the KissOfLove Event that played out yesterday, in our neighbouring district, which then took over even National Television when the “protestors” invaded what would have been a peaceful, love-filled demonstration of the real thing behind what two flowers head-butting each other in movies of yore indicate 😀

I smile as I write this, having just come away from reading Shail’s perspective on the whole idea of it, on her blog (link)! But that smile stops there, when I recall a forward sent to me by father, with this picture. I don’t need to add more words!

KOL

While there are always people who would condemn, flay such notions behind events such as these liberal and life-enhancing ones, it is the argument they use that infuriates one. Culture; our culture; our Sadaacharam – or the right way to do things; where, the word aacharam means conventions, traditions et al. We speak of “Aarsha Bharata Samskaram” – the way of the Rishis; and this has been brilliantly contracted by none other than a discerning young and strong voice, Navmi’s, in contracting it to the first letter of each of the three words – Aa Bha Sam – Aabhasam – ironically, this means vulgarity. Again,  I do NOT need to say more.

navmi

Culture to me means humane living – in my space, and letting yours be yours.  🙂

3 November, 2014

This post has been written for #MicroblogMondays, about which you can read up, when you click on the photo below.

Microblog_Mondays

Microblog Mondays 1 here

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Applauding a Service-Oriented Effort



No child’s education should be deemed complete, unless the child has worked with his or her hands, and with the Earth, mud, soil, sand, whatever one might call it… this is has been my firm belief! Sadly nowadays, most children do not even get to see Mother Earth, let alone a chance to play in it, or work with it! The travails of development and urbanization!

However, for students who are part of the NSS or the National Service Scheme, things are brighter, especially in the rural environs, where there is still a glimpse of brown earth, an abundance of greenery and the mindset conducive to dignity of labour. I actually witnessed all of this at work!

 

Read about the same venture, here, at Hari Nedungadi’s blog, Kuchelavritham

നാട്ടിൻപുറം നന്മകളാൽ സമൃദ്ധം…..


About 50 odd  plus one students of the  local Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, studying for  Commerce and Medical Lab. Technician courses in Cherplassery had week long NSS Camp, at their school, ably guided and led by their NSS District Convenor, Shri Krishnanunni T., who was also their Programme Officer, and other teachers.

 

It was a joy to share in a day’s effort, on 28th December, 2010, the last of four days, they spent in the interiors of a bucolic, നാടൻ (naadan, typically of the countryside 🙂 ), widening a narrow pathway, ഇടവഴി (itavazhi, as we say in Malayalam) wide enough for a small vehicle to pass. The idea of linking the main temple, on the roadside, the famous Ayyappan Kaavu, with the Devi Temple atop the hillside, “Arakav” had long been in the offing, but the feasibility of it all not quite there, till a request came from the School authorities who were, simultaneously, looking for a place where their students could interact and work with the community, while serving them as well.

The road to the temple, Arakav, after which my dad’s house has been named, has been fraught with a lot of trouble and legalities. Finally, in consultation with all those in the neighbourhood, the area to widen the narrow pathway was decided, and the children arrived at the most opportune moment to hack out the boundary! Lo and behold! In four days’ time, most of the road was done. Of course, there is still a finer finishing, and the completion to be done, but the start could not have been better!

 

Last year, the school’s students undertook actual paddy agriculture in a field kindly provided by a local family. The experience, say the students, was indeed enriching!

This blog post is not about the hows and the wherefores, it is about them, the children, and their guides, the staff. Each of the four days, they had been provided with wholesome food, by way of the locals in the neighbourhood, and on the final day, they were given a sumptuous lunch, cooked by the members of the temple, and others who pitched in with whatever they could. Take a look!

 

 

 

The road, after their work, looks pretty much like this 🙂

 



There was also an impromptu thanking session, where the Panchayat President, Shri Suresh, made an appearance, along with the HM of the School, Smt. V. Girija. Some members of the neighbourhood also spoke, one of whom recalled the words of their NSS song, given below in Malayalam.

 

മനസ്സുനന്നാവട്ടെ
മതമേതെങ്ങിലുമാവട്ടെ
മാൻപ്പൂക്കൾ വിടരട്ടെ

സൌഹ്രുദസിദ്ധികൾ പൂത്താൽ
സൌവർണ്ണാഭ പരന്നാൽ
സുരഭില ജീവിത മാതുരി വിശ്വം സമസ്തമരുളുകയല്ലോ

സത്യം ലക്ഷ്യമതാവട്ടെ
ധർമം പാതയതാവട്ടെ
ഹൈന്ദവ ക്രൈസ്തവ ഇസ്ലാമിക്രുടെ
കൈകളിണങ്ങീടട്ടെ

മനസ്സുനന്നാവട്ടെ
മതമേതെങ്ങിലുമാവട്ടെ

മനസ്സുനന്നാവട്ടെ
മതമേതെങ്ങിലുമാവട്ടെ

മനസ്സുനന്നാവട്ടെ
മതമേതെങ്ങിലുമാവട്ടെ

The lyrics, quite simply put, speaks of the need to have a clear and pure mind, no matter what religion or community one may belong to. It exhorts us to have our duty or dharma as the path towards truth! It also urges each of us to join hands and move forward in harmony. The song, sung, full-throatedly, by the young children gave us goosebumps!

Another wonderful thing I noticed, as I walked around and spoke to them was their uninhibited expression, both, to each other, and to the staff and elders gathered there. Most the students were from families who could just perhaps afford to send their kids to a Government School, but then I was proud of them, the way they carried themselves, and their comport, during the impromptu speech session we had. They listened closely, no fidgeting, no giggling, no talking. Sheer amazement, it was to me, this sight! Ever so often, in our own elite and up market schools, the teachers have to work so hard, and insist on the kids keeping quiet during functions, and here… where they did not even need to control themselves, was a group of young men and women totally involved in the moment! Kudos, my dear children! It was inspiring!

 

Here are the videos of their effort! Enthusiasm personified!


 

The second one, the song they sang during a short break!


 

The last one, walking up for lunch, having successfully completed the task!

 

 

 

On a totally unrelated tangent, I find it v difficult to insert pictures into the blog post 😦 Have been trying endlessly, but to no avail. The insert picture tab simply does not open! I have to open it into a new tab and do the needful and then only one appears 😦 😦 One picture ie! Help! 😦 😦 Sigh!

That is why this post has been delayed, else it would have been done yesterday. Thankfully the videos are working :D!

29 December, 2010

 

Edited to add, on 30 December, 2010: Finally managed to get a few pictures in! The problem was with the memory cache.. which was cleared and then the required menus opened 🙂 Still adding pictures 🙂 2.40 pm 🙂


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Vishu- വിഷു

Sols and Deeps, this is just for you. I know how much you two love this sort of a thing 🙂 🙂

This is also for my MOM 🙂

Today is special. It is Vishu. It is also my EB’s birthday 🙂 (Elder Brother). Happy birthday to another special Arien, and also to a year, reborn again, bringing with it hope for a better tomorrow.

കൈ നിറയെ കൊന്ന പൂവും, നിറപറയും, നിലവിളക്കും, മനസ്സുനിറയെ സ്നേഹഹവുമായി വിഷുവിനെ വരവേല്‍ക്കാം … 🙂

If you are seeing the above in “????” or a whole lot of little squares, you probably do not have the malayalam font! I’ll just transliterate for you, in English.. “Kai niraye konna poovum, niraparayum, nilavilakkum, manassuniraye snehavumaayi vishuvine varavelkkam ”

Meaning to say:

“With our hands and hearts full of the beauty, and the golden sheen of the konna flowers (cassia fistula, or indian laburnum), the fullness of a nirapara ( a measure of paddy, in golden grain), and the light of a lamp lit on the morning of Vishu, let us welcome it with our hearts full of love…”

A nirapara looks like this 🙂

(Have taken the image from a search engine, and it belongs to flickr.com )

Vishu:

The Kani Konna (- Cassia Fistula, a lot like the laburnum) is the flower of Vishu. Gorgeous chandelier like flowers in the sunshiniest yellow golden, filling the tree, our eyes and our hearts, come Vishu 🙂 It is the key to the Vishu Kani (what you ought to see- kani- the first thing when you open your eyes on Vishu day 🙂 )Here is the tree, at my parents, taken about a week ago… a beautiful sight!

The Vishu Kani, mom’s

The lamp at the nearest end, is called a Maadambi (മാടമ്പി)- It is pretty ancient, a family heirloom,  has a wooden stand, on which is placed the brass lamp. Mom uses it only on special occasions. The nilavilakku is at the far end, on the other side of the uruli (ഉരുളി), the brass basin in which the kani is arranged. The pic above is when she arranged it, and below, when it was time for the kani, at 4 am 🙂

Incidentally, I was tweeted as to why a mirror is placed in the vishukani. I have been told it is because we need to see ouselves, the best in ourselves, to appreciate the Godhead in us, as we prepare to start a new year, with this auspicious sight! It figures then, I think that you need to love yourself, and respect yourself, to be able to see in oneself the Godhead, isn’t it? I like that viewpoint, immensely 🙂 🙂

The chakka (ചക്ക)… jackfruit, is then taken out, after the kani (കണി), and facing eastwards, it is cut 🙂 That is mom doing it the naadan (നാടന്‍), the traditional way with a mazhu (മഴു).. or axe 🙂 And below, the halves arranged, for a few seconds left as it is 🙂 🙂

I am also told, that Vishu begins the cycle of rain patterns, the njattuvela (ഞാറ്റുവേല)… 🙂 Today marks the ashwathy njattuvela (അശ്വതി ഞാറ്റുവേല), and it is likely to rain soon 🙂 Each of the 27 stars has its own pattern, with the rohini, makayiryam, thiruvathira, (രോഹിണി, മകീരം, തിരുവാതിര) bringing in the most amount of rain, which is so essential for the farmers.

Today is also the day when it is most auspicious to sow a few seeds, being the ashwathy njattuvel 🙂 ((അശ്വതി ഞാറ്റുവേല))

*Whew! Wipes sweat off her brow* This has been satisfying, but hard work. Finding a transliteration page to work with, and finally opening the google transliteration malayalam page, to write there, and copy paste the malayalam here. But it seems to be worth it!

Have a wonderful year ahead, everyone!

സര്‍വ ഐശ്വര്യങ്ങള്‍ കൂടിയ വിഷുദിനാശംസകള്‍

സ്നേഹപൂര്‍വ്വം …
ഉഷസ്സ്

Wishing the best of the season, for Vishu, greetings and blessings…

With love

Ushus 🙂

15 April, 2010

Edited to add on 18th April, 2010:

Found this video, of a favourite song , in Malayalam, Kani Kaanum neram (കണി കാണും നേരം കമല നേത്രന്ടെ) on Sindhu’s FB wall 🙂 Thanks Sindhu 🙂 Just to share, because I know those who love this song will certain find it in the right post 🙂


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At long last… of Onam, and an ending, to make a new beginning :)

Alert : Long flash back post! Lol! It started a  couple of weeks after Onam, and has been inspired entirely by Solilo and Deeps 🙂 They had both endearingly asked me to share the Onam moments; and I am so very sorry, Sol, and Deeps, that I have been so darned delayed in getting this to you 🙂 Therefore the relevance of this post stands outdated, yet it is one, like the Thrissur Pooram one, that I did so very much want to share:)


Also, this is to somehow make me want to get rid of my aches and pains, and my mental block, writer’s block et al, to energize me into getting back to blogging. I have been re-shaping this particular draft over the past three days, as and when time permits, in between corrections, spending time with the sons, and the parents, and renovation work at home 🙂 I guess I am a genius ( a self proclaimed one, please note) to have managed to get this far 🙂


Furthermore, this is to ensure that I tie up loose ends before the year ends, and that I will not carry excess baggage of “to do’s” into 2010!! (Huh?? Do I really believe that, I wonder!!! Rofl. Anyways, it feels good to have written that, and who knows, I may just con myself into believing it!!!! 😛 )

May the new year bring much happiness, love, laughter and luck into all our lives 🙂 May only good things happen most, and may the not so good ones help us discover more strength within 🙂 May we all be blessed to seek and acknowledge the good we see around, and speak out against injustice, and cruelty, most for those who cannot, themselves….


May we all just sail in tandem, with love, and enjoy each day for all its gifts…. 🙂


Amen!

A Happy Happy New Year to each a every lovely one of you out there 🙂

***********************************************************************************************

This is for you, Solilo and Deeps (and of course, all of you who might find the patience to wade through the words 🙂 🙂 )

Years ago, as a wee girl ( sorry, make that aeons ago :D) my brothers and I would, every evening, at the twilight time, sandhya neram, as they say in Malayalam, sit down together with my mother, and recite little slokas, in praise of the different deities, and sing cantos from the Narayaneeyam, that my mother and aunt had painstakingly, and easily taught us. It was a lovely time, and we would vy with each other to recite best, and would be promised sweets for rendition without faltering. There was no forcing or indoctrination… just a feeling.. a good feeling of sitting down together, and praying together. At the end of the recitation of the slokas, we would recite the names of the “nakshatras”, the stars, that each day had, and the names of the months by the Malayalam calendar. So we’d go… “Ashwathi, Bharani, Karthika, Rohini, Makeeram…. to Poororattadhi, Uttrattadi, Ravathi… Naalu Iruvathyeezhu” – in other words, the names of the stars, followed by the phrase, there are 27 stars. And so also for the months in the calendar… Medam, Edavam, Mithunam, Karkkidakom, Chingam, Kanni, Thulam, Vrischikam, Dhanu, Makaram, Kumbham, Meenam… Raashi panthrandu- Translated, to mean… the names, twelve of them, being the 12 Rashis, of the year.

I narrate this incident only to tell you how very deeply ingrained certain things stay in our memories, because after the teenage years, I have not been regular, with the evening prayers, except for when my children were very little… 🙂 Once they too became teenagers, it had to be reminded to them, and even then sometimes we did not make time for it. However, they too, went through the routine of learning the nakshatra names, and the rashee names 🙂 🙂 That much happened, and they can recite it today too… though they perhaps have not recited it for more than six to seven years.. 🙂 I recall this more so now, whenever Onam comes around…

How I know that it is Onam, when the Thiruvonam day would come, and how we prepare for it, ten days in advance, on the day of Atham, and I also know how my children remember too! We still celebrate the English Birthdays, the day on which the date of birth falls, and the Perannal.. or the Malayalam Birthday, that comes, according to the stars that we were born under. So my Kunju, the FB, is Uthradam, Kunjunni, the SB is Revathi… and so on. Daddy’s is on Atham, THE Atham, that comes before Onam 🙂 This year it was truly special, for each year, only the kids and I get to spend it with them, my parents, but this year, my younger brother and his wife were also there, and it was lovely 🙂 🙂

And so started the countdown to Onam.

(Contd, after an aeon 🙂 ) Onam this year was hectic, because my mom wanted it at their home, and she was still recuperating from her knee surgery, to repair a torn ligament, and that had incapacitated her (read, made her walk more slowly, that is all! else she runs 🙂 ). She did the whole scene, food wise- the naaranga pickle (the vadukappuli variety), mulakaapachchadi (like the pulienji), kaalan, olan, elissery, not to mention the paayasam, and the chips, both the classic salted variety, and the sharakkara upperi (sweet, jaggery coated banana chunks 🙂 )

On the day before Thiruvonam, that is Onam day proper, is Uthraadam, or Onnu Onam (first Onam); this time we did a naadan, that is country style, dehati style pookkalam, the flower carpet with flowers from our very own garden… all those flowers that my mother takes regularly as offering to the temples she visits, and those she makes garlands out of, for her beloved deities. These were flowers like the Nandiarvattom and the Pazhivamalli, (the white flowers, that resemble the jasmine, and the Pavizhamalli has a lovely shade of orange in the middle),  the Kolambi flower ( kolambi means, pitcher like… pot like… 🙂 and this one is the bright yellow flower), the Shankhupushpam (the gorgeous blue flower), green leaves, and the omnipresent hibiscus and thulasi 🙂 I have included a few pictures of the flowers and the making of the pookkalam on Uthraadam day 🙂 First of all, the ground is sanctified with gobar, made out into a circular shape, with raised mound in the centre. It is here that the final flower, the hibiscus will be placed. We always start with a thulasi leaf, for benediction and benevolence and luck!! 🙂 The hands you can see in the picture are :our domestic help’s, her name is Shanta, and mine 🙂 And it is a series of concentric circles of contrasting shades derived from the petals of the flowers we gather 🙂

Here they are , the flowers, and the Pookkalam (the flower carpet 🙂 )

Shankhupushpam – the conch-flower (a literal translation that 🙂 )- a gorgeous shade of blue… for the pookkalam
The bright yellow “Kolambi” flower
The Pavizhamalli – a small white flower that resembles the jasmine 🙂

Alari poovu, another favourite home grown flower

The making of the pookkalam
This year’s naadan pookkalam … with home grown flowers only 🙂

On Onam day, it was the Thrikkakkarappan, or the symbolic representation of Lord Mahabali (made of clay, at home, the previous days ), that took the centrestage. Offerings  of “ada” (steamed coconut-jaggery-rice cakes in banana leaf) and bananas were made, and an umbrella adorned his place of honour 🙂 You can see the SB making the offering, in the puja. It rained and rained that day, but we were lucky to have been able to have the mud statues stay firm till the end 🙂

Making the offering of “ada” and bananas to Lord Mahabali, the Thrikkakkarappan 🙂
Thrikkakkarappan… an offering to Lord Mahabali, fruit and “ada”… 🙂

Of course, the sadhya followed, with much eating and fun! At the end of it all, mom all but collapsed, though happy that even this year her Onam was truly celebrated 🙂

The feast 🙂

The feast… taken from the SB’s mobile

***********  ************  ************  ***********

So that is the past unfinished business, neatly handled and done away with. I know it is really shoddy work, the writing, and the post itself, but I had resolved to tie up all my incomplete work, before the clock strikes 12 midnight on 31 Jan, 2009. Hopefully this will see the light of day by then!!!

Finally! Am now going to hit the publish button, before I get jittery about proof reading, layout, and all that stuff. If you got till here, I am your fan 🙂 Just let me know 🙂 🙂 I shall surely announce it to the world!

Thank you, each of you, for being here, and for your warmest support!

30 December, 2009


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The Pinking-Giri, A Movement of the Times!

I actually said I would say Pink-chaddigiri, but later modified it to hold a wider spectrum of the Pink range! I know that the fans of Munnabhai’s Gandhigiri, will frown in disapproval at my having stolen a coinage from their absolutely laid back hilarious film, that did show the world that certain things, done in a certain, way, especially in a non violent way, will reap certain harvests, most of it being Positive.

And so also this unleashing of a novel way of making our voices heard and noticed, and ensuring that the dart, the arrow from Cupid’s bow makes a mark, if not in the heart, at least elsewhere :D, and makes those villains dyed in the vilest purple turn pink at the thought of such, Oh My ..Such Shame!

There are detractors, and there will be. I have deliberately not sought out those either to read, or to share here, for I believe that sometimes we need to do something, think out of the box, and engage ourselves in unexpected ways of confronting issues, so that finally the ends are achieved. In this case it is to send a strong message across that we would like you to understand, please, Mr M. that it’s not about Valentine’s, it’s not about morality, but it is about showing strength, which you did in the most undignified fashion. Not you, but your goons being incited to beat up young girls, molest them publicly, in the name of Morality.

So let us now learn a lesson in Morality. In Shame. From whence begins an awareness of doing what is dignified. When you were in class, Mr M., there must have been occasions when the teacher did scold, or even tease you in class. [She/He did, didn’t she/he? Or were you such a double dyed brigand then that they dared not? But yes, years ago, there were Morals, with a capital M, like yours, weren’t there?] If you did feel a sort of shame, you would certainly have tried to be a better person for that! If it was deserving, all the more reason to change, isn’t it?

Therefore, it is in your best interest, to relive a certain feeling again. To learn, Mr M. that a group of like minded individuals, who do not believe that their choices have to be made for them by those whose tunnel vision is anything but democratic, in this country, are firm and strong, and will not let a beautifully and sensibly articulated Constitution of a Great nation, be crucified or held ransom to the will of a few misguided and misogynistic men, whose only answer to anything that inflames their sense of Morality [lol, do you understand the word, Mr M? Or you hoolig-sorry-party workers ?] is to take it out on young girls, sometimes kidnap, sometimes force an apology for no reason, but in all cases, bring great distress to the victim. Some morality indeed this, if it does nothing positive for anyone! Finally, it is not your Call. It is not. NOT.

Get that, Mr M?

***

I shall make tomorrow a Pink Day. A Pink Letter Day in the best of traditions. At school, sharing a lot of your wonderful work with my colleagues, I urged them to wear Pink tomorrow 🙂 Their responses ranged from giggles, [at the thought of the Pink Chaddi Campaign] to, but why we don’t celebrate Val. Day! So I, like a dog, with a bone, unwilling to let such an opportunity pass, got on to the Soap Box and railed, at why. I think I did convince them.. Lol, and there were a few nods! Along with a few comments..”It’s the Pub culture! ” So I said, well, it may be, but then this is a democracy, and shutting down the pubs is going to ensure nothing but a slump in the economy, especially here in Kerala, where liquor accounts for the maximum by way of the State’s revenue! And so a few squirmed, a few hummed and hawed, but well, I tried, I did 🙂 And for that I am glad! I know there will be pink in the air, in some pockets, for sure, here too.. 🙂

For now, that is assurance enough. The voices will gather strength; it must and will happen.

For all those who will be out, visible and in really happening places, especially the Delhi Protest, the gatherings in different cities, and also the delivering of the Pink chaddi’s to the bête noire of the nation’s thinking and rational populace, best wishes from all of us, who are with you, heart and soul! We’re there too, walking alongside, and making that protest. We’d like to make our choices , thank you, Mr M!

Do read this one from Indian Homemaker. It is a powerfully moving post, why we need to!

13 February, 2009

Edited to add: For those in Bangalore, do join the protest march, at MG Road at 12 noon. More details on Indyeah’s post here:)