Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It Was Late In The Evening And She Was Wondering...





The Sunday Newspapers have enough to keep a news addict occupied for the whole day but i am not that. i am that sort who flips from page to page lingering mostly on my own interests and in a way that suffices. But this Sunday i did not get that luxury of having to do that. Yeah it is a luxury to have time enough to sit with all 3-4 Newspapers and skim and mark out the articles that you would want to dwell in slightly longer than you would to others.i sure do have that luxury mostly.
Needless to say then i could not call my friend whose article was published on the 2nd page of Times of India and tell her how i felt. It matters to her definitely that a nonentity like me should tell her how i feel or else two days later she wouldn't have SMSed me asking me to look into page 2 of the 25th April TOI.That she did not want to hear accolades i'm sure of cause any such on my part would've only sounded cliched as this was not  her first article.And by now she knows for sure that she also has a flair for words coated in humour, a deadly combination that can only leave you gaping in awe.So her article is titled 'Not In My Nature' and because i loved the way she's put across her true feelings this again is for the keeps. http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=TOINEW&BaseHref=TOICH/2010/04/25&PageLabel=2&EntityId=Ar00201&ViewMode=HTML&GZ=T

Now my instant reaction to her SMS late in the evening two days later saw me running into the store room silently hoping that Vasanti Amma has not used the paper already to line the under the hob shelves which she religiously does every Tuesday morning since she has no cooking to do as that is the day the two of us observe a day long fast.She is too lazy to pick those lying low in the stack and no amount of admonishment on that irritating habit of hers can stop her from reaching out to the fresh lot.Sometimes if it is of importance i have another place to stack papers which she is restricted access to and in this case i had no such dreams that my friend is about to do a hattrick for the month.

My search led to a small tiff between my husband and me who got pissed out on my enquiry just when he had snuggled in the AC bedroom to watch Indian Idol kick off. Maybe he was missing the IPL wee bit more to have made him cranky about the Sunday times .And God alone knows why i was being so rude in my questioning. Just because i was busy all Sunday and he was the one who lazed around with the bunch practically the entire day, Does that make him responsible for the hard to retrieve newspaper?



As was expected my friend's article was smothered with stainless steel utensils and she should've guessed it i hope why i was not able to give a prompt reply.i presume she can guess this phenomenon which is as common as crow in most households when you want something to be in it's place it will be a miracle if you find it just there. And sore with two people at the same time one being  Vasanti Amma who was happily watching her Tamil sitcom in her room and my husband who was chuckling away to God's glory at all the phony idiocy of Indian Idol, i was left sweltering to do two jobs at the same time.First to clear the mess in the store room, a failed attempt of my rummaging and secondly to take off the shrivelled paper from the under the hob shelves.An onerous task when the place is hot and humid and you are both sore to the extent of swearing and impatient to get a dekho(look at).




So once again as a slave to my habit i take a shortcut which was the worst shortcut anyone at this age can take As i sit to narrate i don't know what to do.Whether to laugh off at my stupidity or to spank myself for being so dumb.This is what i did- i just removed the vessels from that part which had her shrivelled up article and read it hurriedly. No the words were clear enough only the paper looked like how your finger would look if it had been dipped in water for too long.Then like a good polite dost ( friend) i sent her an SMS little realising that she might've hit the sack it being the start of the week and she would have to get that beauty sleep and would not answer back with a polite thank you.Then i arranged the vessels as it was before and finally retreated to the comfort of my air-conditioned bedroom feeling a bit stale though by now.

Bored with the phony idiocy my husband was now happily surfing the channels as usual and was not bothered in fact i believe he had not even realised my absence for so long.i had by now gained equilibrium at least for the time being so sat there cooling myself before i could hear more about Lalit Modi's supposed ouster from his position and the startling discoveries of the ensuing scam narrated by the newcomer Mr Manohar.

Sufficiently cooled and later sinking into a comfortable position in my bed i reached out for my book and it was then i got sore with myself.This realisation that instead of the self perpetuated torture why didn't i look into the article on the net now was making me forget the comfort of all that i was having now.
The comfort of having found and read what i wanted too so badly even if it was on it's way of getting extinct.
The comfort of the room so nice and cozy and somebody there to give me company and maybe talk to about that article if i approached him to it.
The comfort of the constant supply of electricity and what comes along with it the net included if you don't want to run it on battery.
i lost my equilibrium again temporarily with self realisation of my own dumbness than anything else and nothing could've brought it back to stability but an honest apology to my husband whose leisure after a hard day's work i was trying to ruin.
He turned sideways to face me with all his warmth forgetting the TV and between smiles said,"Not at all Gulabo (an affectionate pet name he gives me when he's good) and I'm sorry too for snapping at you but hey! did you find that newspaper?"And we laughed off the soreness as i narrated my stupidity first. As if it could've made any more lighter he gave those comical looks and started singing hopelessly out of tune,"That makes the two of us Do Diwane Sheher Mein"(Two crazy people in the city).The article was forgotten as we compared instances where we prove to be real morons and this time we slept well next to each other smiling and holding each other instead of turning away and sleeping in anger and agony.
Then have sweet dreams about the wonderful thing call technology which will save all things from the ignorant clutches of Vasanti Amma and also from your own late reactions...if it could...
However good technology is doing to us i feverishly agree to my father who says,"No matter how much analysis you see in the TV of the happennings around not unless you have a good dekho at the newspaper, you are a less satisfied person." Maybe he is a newspaper addict after all but i remembered that smile that wasn't mine had i read my friend's article in peace savouring each word and enjoying that humour for which her company is much prized. My smile would've been similar to this picture.
A composition rather a parody can't help delivering it now...just happened
It's late in the evening
She's wondering how she wrote her post
She picks up her mobile
and messages sweet sweet words
And then she asks me
Do i sound alright
And i said deary
you've sounded great alright!
Tana nana tana nana ta na na na na...( plucking of the guitar).Ok i had no intentions of spoiling something so perfect it was just that the words were matching to the song well enough for me to doing nothing more than to hum it along ....





Photos and images courtesy: http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/newspaper.html
                                           http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/newspaper.html
                                        

Friday, April 23, 2010

If Speech is Silver then Silence is Gold


As i have been quite busy with other matters i was quite shook up when i hear one sad news from a dear friend of mine. i was shook up as to how blissfully i was unawares and why did i not take the signals seriously when it happened. i know it sounds incredible but everything will be fine on all fronts and suddenly out of the blue a streak of sadness settles down. It has happened quite so on a number of occasions followed by restlessness, insomnia of sorts when i moonlight doing this and that.

Those near and dear to me who are available, brush my restlessness aside saying things like, ''You feel insecure because of some sad events in your life...people are having insecurities for their loved ones and it's normal...."

My dad once told me about his dream in which he saw my son and my sister's daughter both sitting in a boat of some sort which is floating unmanned in a vast sea.Next morning when he mentions this i couldn't help but prolong this into a discussion whereby we talk of affairs of the heart that settles down in our subconscious and resurfaces in our dreams. That was one of the very interesting discussions which for a brief period of time sparked my interest in knowing more about the three stages- the sub-conscious, the conscious, and the superconscious. So i read this and that and just like some interests that are temporary i lost out on this one too.

Now with all kinds of healings going on i want to know about this thing called Pranic Healing. They say through this healing you could be miles apart and yet help someone in pain.But more than that i want to know for sure if i could rely on my intuition and how to differentiate between intuition and insecurity.

i remember vividly seeing this dream and waking nervous and tense asking my husband to call up home and find out if everything was alright. Those days we did not have out station call facility on our landline and if at all we had to make a call we would use the STD booths and some of it would not be near either.
My husband assured me that he could do one on his way to the office but before he could our phone rang with a trunk call message which was devastating and so near to the dream i had.

Now everytime i get these blues out of a sudden, i get scared. Someone known to me ,someone dear, someone...is everything alright...Oh God please help...
Reading this and that has worsened my situation in the sense that i am beginning to believe what i know not completely.
Stuff like Nature sends signals if only you care to listen.
Telepathy it sure does exist.
Pranic healing works and that i should stop being such a sceptic on this and respect it more. This follows from the earlier one cause if one exits then maybe there is a way to send positive energy that could be very helpful.
Now all this was getting too much for me too handle so i decided about comforting my friend in her time of crisis. i thought i could.What happened instead was, listening to her pain and all the happenings in the past left a chatterbox like me speechless.
Much about the soul being eternal and that what takes birth has to turn to dust and that the one she lost is peaceful now...all that blah blah i was unable to mouth.
All i could say was,"Give it some time...memories will never leave you but give it some time ." Actually i think even that was not required because i know she knows all that. My best could've been to just listen to her sobs between words that conveyed the unfortunate turn of events.
i was unable to tell her even that i understand her pain because i feel no one can really understand the other's pain or what one is going through.
i also did not stop her from crying because i think she is blessed in letting her grief flow.
The best i feel that one can do is to be quiet and listen and i guess this is the right time when Silence is Gold.

When i say this i am thinking about what i wanted when i was struck with calamity.
i hated narrating and reliving the moments again and again.
i wished people should stop telling me not to cry.
i wanted silence and to dwell in my grief for sometime.
i presume she may be wanting the same, so inspite of knowing that it is her birthday today i just let it be.
Maybe i could talk to her later when matters of the heart have taken it's due course of healing which happens naturally to all of us afflicted with loss and pain.
At the moment i should stop feeling guilty of being unawares and seriously hope and pray that she should come out of her grief soon enough to move on with her life.
At the moment i should turn back to myself and find ways with which next time the blues hit me what should be my best move. Definitely it should not be a chain of negative thoughts that gets the better of me and instead of getting spooked i should blow invisible bubbles of hope and good faith in life the kind that says shsh! shsh! it's alright. The bubbles that whisper," everything's going to be fine...give it some time..."

When times are better than this then maybe i could tell her about Robbie Kaplan and her ideas about memories. http://wordsfordifficulttimes.blogspot.com/ .Who knows what works but wisdom on all matters comes from all sides and one person's assessment of a particular emotional trauma can help the other. Once again i hope that when she is better she should be able to make out my silence.

Image coutesy:http://www.fotosearch.com/photos
                            :http:www.dreamstime.com

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Flow with the tide

Can anyone be apprehensive about oneself? Well, when i talk it out with my next best companion my husband, he says,"You my dear look for reasons to be sad, disappointed...blah...blah." So far from my apprehensions being out of the window it settles down nice and tight.

After watching this movie called 'The Ugly Truth' i learnt something i had never known rather realised before. Are women actually ' Control Freaks '. i mean uptill now i had not known the term even. And then i began thinking on those lines and the answer i got was, maybe we are. Now i'm talking of myself here not everyone in general but all i know around me who do want to control everything if they could...including their own thoughts to give them the results that they want.

Right from the simple mundane chores to the most complex decisions regarding marriage versus career careful calculations are made. Weighing of options and results and i never get fed up of it and neither are those who are like me.Whatever happened to flowing with the tide...? i say this now because i'm beginning to get exhausted and tired and want to shout out, " to hell with results just do what you want to do and forget everything! ."

Coming back to where i was about my apprehensions and what i wanted to control. It will sound maniacal if i said i wanted to control the kind of friends that i have.My experiences in life have not been too memorable if i am allowed to say that.At least now when i look back i know that the word Friend is a grossly overused word. Anyone and everyone we meet and get familiar with become our friends if they are not our relatives.
When we are kids and innocent in our thoughts we really don't mind making our bags full. If you ask a child a list it will seem never-ending and as time goes by the lists get shorter and shorter and may boil down to perhaps two or none.

That could be me with my apprehensions. Not that i'm not scared of picturizing myself being FRIENDLESS but of late the kind of recluse i'm turning into, the day is not that far... if i don't stop myself from being a CONTROL FREAK.

How do i stop myself from being a sanyasi (sage) of some sort who now loves solitude and nature only and wants desperately to do all the pilgrimages as could be possible? How do i stop myself from finding friends too boring, too predictable, some taking me for granted while others not reciprocating. Some too flamboyant while others too primitive in their thoughts and actions. Still others who are too expensive to make me recoil in horror while some will expect me to provide as many as possible as if, take me and the rest comes free. There are still others who are too sticky and i have to cook up reasons to hide while there are those whose company i cherish but they are too busy to make time. And definitely how do i get these friends to read my blogs and say something which should make sense enough to dismiss my present conjecture as just a passing phase and transitory just like everything else.

No i do not want to be like this forever. And maybe i should just take each for what they are and stop being so analytical. i should just flow with the tide and things will look up. Nothing wrong with my preferring solitude to company. i could do this and that. And if nature starts talking like humans it will say,'' Stop being so uptight relax!.'' So i guess i should stop looking for friends with no strings attached because i now know for sure i have too many strings too, hanging out loose and badly need to be tied if not concealed.

So i quit for the time being with something nice by i don't know who... so can say Anonymous and it is titled
                                              
                                                " Unknown Friendship

                                                 first sarcasm fills the air
                                             striking remarks then follows
                                            small grins, dubious eyebrows,
                                             oh--let the arguements begin!
                                                       time passes by...
                                        only acquiring the habit we have begun.
                                            though the longer the mockery is,
                                    the harder it is revealing each other's identity.
                                               ...ironically--my goal is to
                                                  uncover the real "you"
                                     unfortunately, there's just too many sarcasm,
                                             and barely little of the real us...
                                             I asked if we could change it,
                                               You said " yes--we can."
                                         deciding that nature will take it's place
                                   we set aside our worries and proceed with life.
                                                      while in our minds,
                                       there's still a boundary keeping us apart.
                                          will our friendship ever be at ease?
                                                       ... in my mind
                                                             I hope
                                                             I pray."

                                          

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Our very own Kalpavriksha the Paarijaat


                                                


The Bangkok Airport has this very fine and artistic depiction of Samudra Manthan ie The churning of the Ocean.The Kumbha Mela going on past couple of months which culminated i presume on the 16th of this month is actually a celebration to commemorate the most famous and important episode in the Puranas.
As a result of this churning of the ocean 14 gems or Ratnas emerged from the Kshirsaagar and among these 14 gems or Ratnas were also 2 trees. The Paarijaat the divine flowering tree with blossoms that never fade or wilt being one and the second being the Kalpavriksha or the wish granting tree.
Thanks to an impressive blogger whom i stumbled upon accidently http://prempiyush.wordpress.com/2004/12/22/samudra-manthan-and-14-ratnas/ i need not narrate the mythological story of Samudra Manthan here. Not when i want to talk about Paarijaat. i would want to believe that the tree was brought down to the earth by Lord Krishna from the garden of Indra the lord of Heaven.

Harashringara it is called in Hindi meaning the ornament of the Gods. Paarijaat is the Sanskrit word meaning descended from the sea.The Bengalis call it Shephalika/Shephali  and even Shiuli and in English it is commonly known as Queen of the night and better still as Coral Jasmine.
 As a child i remember when my father was posted in Arrah one of the districts of Bihar we had this tree in our garden and Ma would go every morning just before sunrise to pick all these flowers that formed a carpet on the ground. She would use these not only to make garlands for her Gods but on the eve of Holi (the Hindu festival of colours) would prepare coloured water for us kids to play with,  using the stalks of these flowers.

It never occurred to me then why when she would pick these flowers from the ground she plucked others from the trees for her daily pooja. It was much later that i learnt that these flowers have a special status and are the only flowers that can be offered to the Gods even when they lie on the ground.


Ma told us many stories about Harshringaar when we were infants and one of the stories was how this tree which was in heaven was brought to the earth. As kids we delighted in the stories and found it so real because even Gods behaved like us and they quarreled like us be it for supremacy or even trees.
The second story was about the jealousy between wives and the third spoke volumes in favour of Lord Krishna as to how with his cleverness he could maintain peace between his two wives when both wanted the one and only Paarijaat exclusively for themselves. Of course these stories were preceded by the great Churning of Khirsaagar ( The Ocean of Milk ) from which as one of the bounties emerged this tree.
 i would like to believe that this indeed is the tree that also grants boons as of late i have come to know the immense medicinal values of Paarijaat/Harshingaar that caters to a host of ailments like piles, constipation, jaundice, malaria, rheumatism, sciatica, dry cough, ring worm and other intestinal worms, chronic fevers, as a tonic for females to cure gyneacological problems, as a safe purgative for infants in Patan, Gujrat ( India) and some even use it to get rid of dandruff and lice. Finally for those interested in cosmetology a face mask made with these flowers helps to have a glowing and radiant skin.

Sometimes i wonder how names too convey sadness and why in the first place have sad names. The taxonomic name 'arbotristis' means "sad tree". The flower blooms in the night and falls off from the tree at the first light of the sun carpeting the ground, still a delight to the revelers like me. i guess then nature in this form is always teaching us reminding us to be selfless. Also to live life beautifully even when it could be a short life. Definitely it could sadden the heart when you think from the point of view of the tree itself as my friend from school and fellow blogger has put it so beautifully.http://rrashmi211.blogspot.com/2010/04/blossoms-story.html

My story today is the legend from Vishnu Purana about a beautiful daughter of a king. She fell head over heels for Surya ( the Sun).
The Sun in his passionate moment said, "Leave your kingdom and be mine ."
Such is the the power of love that she readily agreed and discarded her royal robes and followed her beloved.
As it happens with passion which soon dies off,  the Sun grew indifferent to her and cold towards her devotion and love. He got tired of her and deserted her leaving her in the lurch and fled back to the sky.
The young beautiful princess wilted and languished and soon died heartbroken. She was cremated as per the rites of being burnt on the funeral pyre. But lo and behold! from her ashes grew the most beautiful tree.


From the drooping branches of the tree grew the most beautiful flower with a deep orange heart. But since the flowers cannot bear the sight of the sun they only bloom after sunset and drop down as the first ray of sun shoots out at dawn. The flowers thus carpets the area on the ground surrounding the tree with a sweet and refreshing fragrance. One can get this refreshing fragrance at it's best before dawn between 5-6 am.

That Siuli/Sephalika/Sephali is the official flower of West Bengal is a newly learnt fact thanks to the great search engine Google. Since i thought i saw lots of Tuber roses ie Rajnigandha in Kolkata i was pleasantly surprised. My knowledge about it also being the official flower of Kanchanaburi province Thailand was an additional bonus of this search.One search led to another and i realised that i knew so little about something that is helping me to get rid of my own aches and pains and also of my MIL who suffered for a long time with sciatica. My neighbour on learning from me about her problem told me about the curative powers of the decoction made with the leaves of this tree.Since i was aware that my in laws have this tree in their garden i quickly disseminated the knowledge to them. Whether she tried it or not i didn't know because she never gave me a follow up on that but all i know now is that she no longer complains on my absence from the scene when she had to rely upon the neighbours for help in her time of distress. Not until my enquiry about her pain on the telephone was answered with a dry " Abhi dard nahin hai " ( Now there is no pain). This brought a smile on account of two reasons firstly that i know she tried it and it worked and secondly so typical of her,  finding it so hard to say Thank You to her bahu ( daughter in law).

The search engine failed me on one account though and exhausted me to sleep as i looked for this classical song by Hemant Kumar and his daughter Ranu Mukherjee from this film ' Phir Bhi ' which i thought would had been very apt for this blog as it goes on about this beauty like this " Saanjh Khile bhor jhar phool Harshingaar ke ..." ( Blossoming in the evening shedding at dawn this flower Harshingaar ...) Maybe some good soul who stumbles upon my blog could help me out on this. High hopes but nevertheless...
What i did find i thought was very informative so i quit for the time being with this article by Pankaj Oudhia
http://www.botanical.com/site/column_poudhia/145_parijat.html and so many lovely photos of so many avid enthusiasts. God bless them for their love and hard work which dazzles and enlightens people like me who suddenly seem to know more about that creation which not only supports and protects but sparkles our dull lives with so much of beauty. Beauty that soothes and relaxes and...BRINGS BACK ROMANCE INTO OUR LIVES.

Oh and i must mention this that as Vasanti Amma peered into my screen to find out what made my food go cold she looked at the pictures and wanted to say so much. i asked her first as to why we don't get to see this beautiful tree in Chennai? She had a weird explanation to that. She said that Chennaites are very afraid of snakes and because fragrant trees attract snakes they avoid fragrant shrubs of any kind in the garden.
Animatedly she talked about Bangalore as she is originally from there and sort of goaded me that if my husband takes a transfer posting there then i'd be happier as Bangalore roads are fragrant and there are this and  many other fragrant trees all around and it also has a wonderful climate not at all hot and sultry like Chennai.
She sits down to narrate how she eloped home at the age of 12 with her Hindu lover and came to Chennai in the early 70's. She talks with fondness of the Bangalore she left and i let her carry on.Interrupting her to tell her the latest would've been cruel on my part. The latest being that unscruplously the trees in Bangalore are being cut down making space for more human settlements. It would be cruel on my part to tell her that the city of gardens has seized to be one and instead is turning into the very familiar concrete jungle and the climate that she knew of has undergone a sea change from what she had experienced pre elopment. Some of us like my fellow blogger Karthik  are finding it heartbreaking  to see this happening quite regularly and speak with sadness about the goings on " who cares for trees these days...". What are we doing to this beautiful land of ours? i guess then let's enjoy what we can cause we don't know how long this enjoyment is going to last. So let me dwell on all around me and all those that are perfuming my thoughts. At the moment this one the HARSHRINGAAR.





HARSHRINGAAR   PAARIJAAT  SINGAREI  JAYA PARVATI   SHEPHALI SHEPHALIKA SHIULI   GODODIKO  SINGAROHARO  KHURASALI  PAVIZHMALLI  KAPILAGADUSTU  PAGADAMALLI  PARIJATAMU  PARIJAATAM  CORAL JASMINE...  NYCANTHES ARBORISTIS ( Nycanthes arboristis )





    The flower of the Gods for      
            the Gods helps mankind against all odds



Stumbled upon this simple but nice poem by Ritty Patnaik on Coral Jasmine:
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/coral-jasmine-in-mollys-garden/ and now it's time for me to go about my mundane chores which apart from picking up flowers like today i have Kaner (Nerium oleander), Gerbera and Harsingaar ( Nyctanthes arbor tristis) that have fallen off the tree/plant and arranging them into bowls filled with water are endless...the Gerbera however was incorporated here from another vase which had just Gerberas from the florists and were not just picked up...



                                                                          
 photo courtesy:
http://en.wikepedia.org/Samudra_manthan
http://community.webshots.com                                                                                                     http://travel.webshots.com/photo/                                                             http://www.flickr.com/photos/incredibleayurveda/4078308756/
                               http://photos.sulekha.com/albums/members/namitasachan/slideshow/1776664.htm
                                                            http://flowersofindia.net/
                               http://www.flickr.com/photos/14309872@N03/tags/parijatham                              
                               http://www.flickr.com/photos/29860853@N02/tags/shiuli
                               http://www.flickr.com/photos/rufaro-sk/14429429821
                               http://www.flickr.com/photos/sytoha/3092606299/
                               http;//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nycanthes_arbor-tristis
                               http://www.flickr.com/photos/me_thewanderer/tags/harsingaar
                                http://www.redbubble.com/people/mukesh/art/3751550-2-har-singar
                                http://www.flickr.com/photos/kadai/tags/nightfloweringjasmine/

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Prayer for The Day

Sometimes i feel i am one tactless person who invites trouble and i wonder what goes wrong and how is it that even now i'm unable to prevent myself from falling into a trap if i encounter one. That part of the brain that goes into work and senses danger clear and present, maybe i'm not too blessed with.  Or maybe my reflexes which are smart in some areas is rather dull or slow in this particular area and i sit assessing the entire scene one by one.


As i sit and wait my turn in Shankar Netralaya (Name of the prestigious eye hospital in Chennai) for the secretary to call my name i see this poor old lady walk in all alone with a polythene bag which probably housed her essentials. She looked around to see if a seat was vacant and i followed her gaze. Wiping the sweat with the border of her handloom saree with one hand and shifting slowly she was surveying the room which offered no vacant seat. So i got up from my place and called out to her.
"Amma why don't you sit down here", i stood up and made way for her. She looked at me with a smile and i moved away surveying the room myself now.
On the other side of the L- shaped room concealed from the reception area was a comfortable three seater and informing the receptionist that i was going there i proceeded to make myself comfortable.


A lone person in his army garb was already sitting on one end of this sofa so asking him , "May I ?'' to which he nodded in affirmative, i lodged myself in the plushness and the comfort of this piece of furniture. Preparing to read what controversy is associated now with my favourite Shashi Tharoor i straightened my Times of India and was just glancing at the transparencies when i heard my neighbour, the army man ask, " Aap kya Baahar se aaye ho ?" ( Have you come from outside implying if i was not from Chennai but like the so many from the other part of the country who come to the prestigious Shankar Netralaya for their eye check -up or any other treatment for ailments related to the eye)
Surprised at how he could speak Hindi so well as Hindi as a spoken language in Chennai is a rarity happening once a while i turned to  that voice which spoke my mother tongue and with such lovely accent.
"No, i stay in Chennai ", i answered now having a full view up and close. He must've been in his late 20's or early 30's and had a pleasing smile. 
I felt a sense of warmth now as i looked into this man dandy and smart in his respectable and most admired attire.The warmthness more for his occupation than for the actual person honestly. Now i was beginning to notice his brass batch which said AMC and before i could ask him about AMC he opened a casual conversation with me informing me that he was from Kerala and that he was married and had two kids.
I noticed his identity badge too which had his name as Shakeer Mahmud.
"Are you working ?" followed by questions on my marital status and kids, my husband's occupation to which unhesitatingly i answered correctly with ease.
Next he informed me that he and his family were put up in Pallavaram ( the name of an area in Chennai close to the airport)  where they have their quarters and that his kids go to Kendriya Vidyalaya ( Name of the Central School ).


i was very comfortable till this part and hence knowing that he hails fron God's own country i told him how beautiful i found Kerala and informed him of all the places in Kerala i have visited and also enquired about those falls in Kerala that i have yet to see which many have dubbed as the Niagara Falls of India. Talking about Kerala i also mentioned as to how much i love the cuisine too especially that preparation of whole fish marinated with spices and cooked wrapped in a banana leaf apart from avial and appam and stew.
He was all smiles as he told me the name of that preparation of fish as Karimeen Polichidathu. i knew the name of the preparation but was happy to get the correct pronunciation although i will never get to pronounce it correctly.That requires some sincerity and practice that is lacking on my part.
Conversation flowed between the two of us and i realised that he was one of the junior officer/staff who had accompanied/escorted the senior officer's wife and mother to the hospital. The mother has had a surgery earlier and was here today on a follow up. He gestured towards the two ladies sitting on the opposite side of the room and i saw them.
When he asked me where i was put up in Chennai i was comfortable enough to tell him that but when he asked for the mobile number i started feeling uneasy.
On his insistance i gave him my husband's mobile number which he keenly stored in his mobile. i thought i was being polite and was not in the least bit wanting to be rude.
Army Medical Corps (AMC) took me by surprise by showing me his wife's photo stored in his mobile and when i asked, he with a proud smile told me her name was Sajina.
Now he said,"Please give us a visit and we'd be delighted to take you around. The army canteen has good food and you'll love all the preparation."
This was not difficult and it is so easy to accept a casual invitation. We never say no to such. 
He was eager to give me his number and to have mine so he asked me for my number and i succumbed to my stupidity. Why i call it a stupidity is because only a stupid lady will give her number to the person she has just met.
He gave me a missed call and urged me to store his number and i did it.


Only thing is now i was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Have i done the right thing? How much do i know of the person? Hope he is a thorough gentleman....thoughts now started creating a maze of doubts.
It would've been so much better if i could say, "Sorry i do not give my number to just someone i have met " instead  
like an absolute idiot i obliged and was shifting in my seat for this error on my part.


My name being called out ended my agony and still not wanting to be rude i hurriedly got up and pretending to be unfazed said,"Bye now, it was nice to meet you." 
As if by automation both of us shook hands and i scooted from that part of the L- shaped room which was causing uneasiness inspite of it's cushy sofa and good air conditioning.
After the optometrist had dealt with me and as i proceeded towards my Specialist's room i saw him sitting still in that same place and flashing a beaming smile to which i nodded with a faint one and entered the Doctor's chamber hoping that when i'm over with the doctor he should be gone.
 i wanted this socialising to be over now mainly because i feel i had  one error already to my credit and was in bad need to prevent myself from more knowing very well that i am such an idiot.


To my relief when i emerged from the doctor's chamber his absence gladdened my nervous self and holding my new prescription and with better spirits now i was seen exiting Shankar Netralaya with a promise to myself that i shall be more careful next time i befriend a stranger.
There was nothing important in my agenda so as usual i walk into the Oxford Book House next door more for this wonderful Darjeeling tea that the Cha Bar ( Name of the Cafe) there  has to offer than for the lovely coffee table books that you can flip through undisturbed.
Settling down with these books of my choice i was all set to pass the rest of the day with joi de vivre so i smiled across to Steve who mans the Cha Bar along with his other companions. Steve is a very sweet , neat and soft-spoken kid so unlike many of his age who are aggressive, too talkative or flamboyant. Since i frequent the place quite often and order the same tea he was pleasantly amazed at my indulgence when i ordered the basket of fries too along with my Darjeeling Tea.
As i digged into those really yummy and sinful fries of all shapes and kinds occasionally looking into the glossies i realised how hungry i was. Ubiquitous fries never tasted so out of the world before. i was in a world of my own enjoying food, books, music and the aroma of fresh first flush golden tea making me more 'taazaa' (refreshed)  than any tea could do to anyone.
Chewing on to the spiral ones now and reading more about Kalighat paintings i was sinking into a reverie of some sort when "thunder only happens when it's raining" by Andrea Jan Corrs of this band called Corrs brought me back from this place called Medinapur in Bengal.
Surprised and bewildered it took me a while to realise that nobody knows about my interests in the Corrs here and it was only my mobile seeking my attention.
i was stunned to see the name that flashed on my mobile screen.
Shakeer Mahmud Calling flashed on my mobile screen all the while as 'Dreams' crooned.
Battling nervousness and the so many doubts which i thought had fleeted it took me a while to muster sensibility and answer,"Hello Shakeer ji"
"Maam hello and i'm sorry i left without meeting you."
Then there was a pause and
''Have you reached home?'' he enquired.
i was losing out on my patience now but in no way wanted to be rude to an army man so i answered,'' No but why are you asking ?"
''What time are you going to be home?" he asked.
i wanted to yell now None of your business instead i lied "mmm maybe by 4."
God alone knows why i was allowing all this to happen to me when i could nip it in the bud. If i could...
" Maam when you reach home will you call me?'' said Shakeer, the army man.
''Why anything urgent?'' i asked still making myself gullible to more.
"Nothing just that i couldn't talk more and would like to talk to you more", he said and that should've been the final call for me to give him a piece of my mind.
But no! i gave no such piece and instead said " Ok and bye for now " and did not wait to hear his bye and disconnected.
After that i had lost my appetite for the rest of the fries and that second cup which waited in the smart pot with all that golden liquid surrounding the perforated filter holding the aromatic tea leaves.
Heavy and burdened with the misery perpetrated on me by none other than myself i paid my bill and rushed home to talk to my sister and tell her how badly i have defaulted on such a simple situation.


Her opinion more than relieving me left me high and dry. According to her i was so ridiculous and maybe i have led Shakeer into thinking that i am a 40 something bored woman who wouldn't mind such diversions.
Needless to say then that i was now armed with annoyance and pity and sat there staring at the walls contemplating as to what should be my next move. This time if not better it MUST be sensible.
So my sensible move was to do nothing. But nothing was giving me no peace because i was anticipating a call from Shakeer  on not getting a call from me. i was rehearsing these sentences in my mind how best to convey to him that he is being a pest now. Too much effort in my part this phrasing and rephrasing because i was still not sure if i was forming the correct sentences or not.
Nothing sounded proper, some sounded rude and others were too bleak in it's message.This went on the entire afternoon and it was an anxious way past 5 when i could breathe freely.
Thankfully no call came and i hope no call from him ever comes.
That respect, that admiration i have for the uniform i don't want to lose that.  i am having my own doubts and i hope that my sister is wrong in her assumptions.
i don't want to trust my female intuition which wonders if that army man was coming on to me.
i am exasperated at my own silly self who cannot handle situations smartly and in most ways has inflicted misery upon herself.
Once again i pray Oh! God make him sensible and make me wise and please make him not call me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rendezvous with Gardenia



That evening when Papa left Chennai i would've cried myself to sleep if i had not in my sane self walked on to the terrace of my apartment.  The breathtaking view of the different shades of green interspersed with the Haldi Gulmohur calmed me down. i was morose on my father's departure and just the sight of this brilliant yellow turned my mind to someone else. A fellow nature enthusiast and deeply helping other novices like me with his encyclopaedic works to know more. Silently i thanked the Wild Wanderer Karthik whose beautiful work on flowering trees enables me to know Haldi Gulmohur as Copper pod tree.http://www.wildwanderer.com/journal/flowering-trees/
Maybe this would be why it is said that nature cures all maladies. Even if it is incurable.

After i had a hearts fill of the lush foliage i turned towards my neglected babies on the terrace and it seemed as if they too were very happy to see me after a fortnight's gap. Some were badly in need of grooming and as usual one by one starting from the periphery i  started to weed out the extras that were stealing the nourishment from my babies...poor things.  Okay these babies are my plants that i refused to give out when my balcony could not house them as they had outgrown the small space of my balcony.  Actually they were shunted out as my husband found them messing up the space that he often desires as he sits and enjoys the view from the balcony. Well he is a true minimalist who finds open spaces for sit-outs more beautiful than having the area cordoned off with greens.  i can tell you this that if he could he would just want a free space with just a chair and nothing at all.  However both of us may disagree in our choices he is the reason for all my creativity in the balcony which caters to both our needs.  He gets his space and i get my greens which i have cleverly grown in small round pots which look more like miniature ghadas (round pots) and which do not clamor for much space.

But the terrace though has made my plants hardy yet they look savage compared to the constantly and regularly nurtured ones i have in my balcony garden. The frondy palms which i have reinstated in ceramic sinks have lost their lush green looks and look pale yellow as if they were inflicted with jaundice. The apartment sees improvements from time to time so when the ceramic sinks were replaced by steel sinks my job was to keep a watchman's eye on the unbroken ones and with the permission of the Inspector of Works the IOW as he is known as,  i was able to collect 8 in number. These were heavy and so even though they were transported to the terrace by lift there were a couple of casualties.  And they were perfect for my frondy palms which had sort of cracked the terracotta pots and badly needed a new one. My constant garderner enthusiasm inspired a couple of more occupants to place their extras too on the terrace and so my babies got to meet more friends. Now that my side of the terrace looks beautiful with my comrades and their mates all lined up against the periphery of the parapet walls i often find excuses to go to the terrace more often .

So coming back to where i was, trying to do as much that evening,  i was in for a surprise . Moving from one to the other and plucking out these grasses and weeds that had sprung up in all these pots suddenly there was this AHA! moment when i saw this. Two very pretty babes among the greens.

i cannot explain my delight as i had no hopes of seeing this as this plant has been a rather sick one,  so much so that at one point of time i thought it would not survive.  As you can see there are bare stems with not much leaves and it has been like that for the last four years.  While most of my pots are all filled out this one looked kind of struggling to survive. What added to my amazement was that not only had it sprouted new cute leaves but had these two very pretty blossoms with a heavenly fragrance. The fragrance nagged me because it reminded me of something.  However i was too much happy to think about something that i couldn't remember rather it was a time for revelry.  A close perusal showed me 2 more buds and there was nothing more left for me to do now but to just bend low , see the beauty and enjoy the fragrance . Taking in the fragrance i'm trying to get the name of the flower but could only manage a guess work...Magnolia ? Champaca ?

The AHA moment that evening led me to one exhausting search on google on flowers and just a couple of hours back i found that it was none other than the one that produced my husband's favourite aroma on me Gardenia. Personally i am more of a lavender enthusiast. This one on my terrace is Gardenia augusta whereas the best variety is known as Gardenia florida. Native to Cape of Good Hope it is also known as Cape jasmine.  Also found in Southern China....More and more as i Googled but that was not so important now because i got the answer to that nagging thought when i had first received that intoxicating fragrance on the terrace.

Well Gardenia was the smell of my honeymoon days in Goa way back in 1985.  Along with my trousseau my Papa had presented me with a collection of Original French Perfumes but the one that i took along with me to my honeymoon was this roll on called Gardenia maybe by Avon.  i might be messing up with the brand though because at that time mostly i used any perfume by Avon. This friend of mine from school days whose name was Shalini had an aunt in the US who was dealing with Avon perfumes and i used all my pocket money to buy these from Shalini at discounted rates. Not that she did it as a favour but that she informed me that in the States the perfumes which go out of fashion are actually sold dirt cheap. At least that's what she told me then and i was not least bothered about all these nitty gritties for it made me thrilled JUST to own a phoren perfume.  i still remember the fragrance which had settled in some part of my subconscious and just a whiff and some search on my part took me back to the most beautiful but exciting days of my life.  My husband still  nudges me to ask on the counter where they sell these imported perfumes at lifestyle for Gardenia. Don't know why but i was giving it a pass all these days and now all of a sudden i want Gardenia. AND where are you dear Shalini?


images courtesy: http://www.profilekiss.com/images/1/gardenia.html
                  

Triya Charitra or Paurushheen ?

This time i pick up two Hindi movies to support all that i have to say. Certain aspects may definitely be exaggerated in the movies but blotting that out it has all the ingredients that has been on my mind these few days. Maybe i am the kind who looks for resources to effectively convey without being misunderstood.
i have always believed women to be more powerful than men. Not that i'm a feminist of some sort but i am more a believer of that perfect balance that has been explained so beautifully in our scriptures as that of Shiva (male) and Shakti (female) and i do not endorse that concept of "weaker sex".Though in a perfect balance both are equal but my consideration of women being more powerful in this world is more based on facts and happenings around me than the concept of equality itself.

What gives women immense power over men is what i have in mind at the present moment. Being a woman i am aware of these powers myself. This being so different from the animal kingdom where it is the other way around where the males have to exhibit their prowess in all forms to grab the attention of the females including  doing everything to be physically attractive. Certain happenings in the past has forced me to talk of Triya Charitra (female character) and the feeling gets aggravated by Chanakya's (Kautilya) take on women when he says "Atyasanna vinashaya durastha na falprada  
Sevitavyam madhyabhagain raja vahirguruh striyamah"
This Sanskrit shloka means,  " Do not stay too close to; the King, the fire, and the women. It's dangerous. But do not stay too far off them. It will gain you no rewards. Just keep hovering around at a safe distance ."  So when he said this i guess he meant these special powers of the women known as Triya Charitra not women as such because there is another instance where he says,  "Vidya mitram pravaseshu bharya mitram griheshu cha                 
vyadhithasya aushadham mitram dharmo mitram mritasya cha"
Here he says,  " Skill is a man's friend in a foreign land. A good natured wife is the man's best friend. Medicine is a sick man's friend. And charitable deeds are one's only friend after death."

So coming to the thoughts that i had earlier as to what is in a woman that makes a man move about her like a puppy/dog on a leash. If it is exasperating to see the woman like that it is more disgusting to see a man stoop to this level of unmanliness. So i asked my husband to tell me the man's point of view and he replied very animatedly,"A man in the house if he is nagged and bullied to submission of such form it is only that he is trying to buy peace knowing very well that if he tried anything else it would result in a vulgar display of discontent and disharmony."
i was not stunned by his answer rather had anticipated it knowing very well that he will never go against his sex. i had guessed he would put the females into the spot like most men normally do to cover up their super bloated egos.
But i think very differently about this. It is here that Triya Charitra comes to light. That power the woman has and is not hidden from the world. That fine art of being an enigma no one can fathom. "Purushyam bhagyam triya charitam devoh na janati",  meaning that not even Gods know the fortune of men and nature of women.

Seduction, manipulalation by emotional blackmail, plotting and scheming...and if not anything then crocodile tears associated with such women who turn even the most disadvantageous situation in their favour forms the central theme of the film ' Beta ' which can never be forgotten because of it's Dhak Dhak Karne Lagaa and performing that number so seductively the beautiful Madhuri Dikshit. That battle of wits between the mother in law and the educated daughter in law was most engrossing throughout as victory see -sawed between the two. Aruna Irani as the mother in law displaying all the above said traits is a classic example of this Triya Charitra  which is the power of women to subjugate men into being the slaves of a woman's whims and fancies.



Educated or uneducated hardly matters because every women wields this power and definitely can use it to her advantage though one can use intellect and the other through intense drama , a sham and sometimes even sheer raw rustic power as is the case in the Hindi movie Biwi Ho To Aisi where Salu/Shalu uses her simple rustic talents to subjugate her modern and overpowering mother in law.



So whether it is Saru (Madhuri in Beta) or Shalu (Rekha in Biwi Ho To Aisi) she can very much deal with all kinds of Triya Charitra as she herself is equipped to the hilt to tackle all that brutality, all that scheming and plotting because she knows how to emerge from that chakravyuha (maze/labyrinth) by using her own  understanding of that charitra and thus foiling the plans painstakingly hatched. What intrigues me more is that degree of blind faith that a son can have for his step-mother to ignore the intellect and wisdom of his wife and be an easy victim of a gruesome plot. How does the master of the house and his grown up sons endure this amazon of a women who can show Hitler the door?  i fail to see any sign of respect or love here and witness a gutless approval of tyranny instead.






"Secretary! follow me!! ", was too amusing when we watched the movie. Having witnessed a real version recently was far from amusing rather it was painful and disgusting. Painful as we were spectators and could not butt into someone's personal life and disgusting to see a man reduced to pathetic patni bhakti (wife devotion) to the extent of apparently giving the impression of a servant rather than a husband, what to talk of looking like a secretary.

When Ma had narrated the Ram Banwaas story we were too young to understand the implications of Rani Kekaiyee
going to Kope Bhawan (Hall of Sorrow) sans her ornaments and her hair open waiting for Raja Dashratha to come and mollify her. Today i know what it means.Yet another shashtra ( weapon) which guarantees victory.

What i am more interested in knowing now is that side of the story which speaks for the vanquished one and enlightens me with this debate that is ringing inside me. What gives women this immense power over men that turns them into this henpecked pathetic creatures to whom i'd love to say "Go Hang yourself" or better still Chullu Bhar Pani mein doob Maro (drown yourself in a handful of water). Implying thus that why don't you die out of sheer shame than to live like this.
So is it Triya Charitra or Paurushheen ? Synonyms of the word unmanly put together should explain the word Paurushheen. These being emasculated, timid, coward, gutless...
And though my choice of films can be laughed out yet i want to reiterate the fact that TRUTH IS STRANGER AND WORSE THAN FICTION. When it happens in reality it tears you apart as you want to set things right but can't do anything about it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The positive side of No

It has been my nature since time immemorial to bite off more than i can chew.When i was much younger i was able to manage but now all i can do is to curse myself, not for overloading but more for the indigestion it causes.Why can't i bring myself to say NO, is one fine art i'm trying to develop these days. But hell no! the first time i did it in all these years i see myself jumping into the guilt wagon. The pathetic picture i cut out is then worth seeing when i try to undo and once again that whole  vicious circle starts again ...more to do...job not done to satisfaction...hence heartburn and irritation...typical signs of indigestion.
Why can't i figure out that it's hard to please everybody and i have my limitations too? What is it that i'm afraid of ? Wouldn't it be much better to politely excuse yourself and make the parties concerned understand ? And why this guilt feeling after having said no sorry i am very occupied at the present moment and would not be of much help?
Take for instance when i hear that one of my acquaintance has been ill and has to be kept for observation in the hospital for two days i am unhappy with myself as i was unable to join the others in the colony who paid her a visit, as i was loaded with responsibilities of my own.  i felt self centered after having said "sorry i really can't go now", and questioned myself again and again as to if i am after all a good human being. Surely i could've taken time out and done something if not everything. So armed with sort of shaky confidence i dial the number of her residence and waited for someone to answer.

Hello! said the  boyish voice and nervous that i was on my tardiness i fumbled," He..hello beta  (son)  is it Rohit or Mohit?"
"Aunty Rohit here and Namaste aunty", said the courteous child who later apprised me of his mom's condition and said that his mom was on observation because her throat infection had relapsed but that was now under control and so i needn't worry.
He seemed to be in a hurry i guess maybe because of his exams as this time of the year most schools have their board exams followed by the set of entrances like JEE , AIEEE, BITS ....but i managed to offer my assistance and say "Beta ! since your mom is in the hospital why don't you let me take care of your food and other requirements ?"
The polite child declined and said "Aunty thanks but that won't be neccessary as dad has tied up with the Rest House to look into our khana  (food) and we are very comfortable with the arrangements."
He once again  said "Thanks aunty and Namaste aunty " and hung up.(Namaste is an Indian greeting term mostly that of showing respect and originally it means the divinity in me salutes the divinity in you)
That was not enough for me and now i called the father on his mobile and offered the same.The father thanked me and convinced me with a gentle tone that if any assistance is required he would let me know.
All this sounds too simple except that i know that if they had accepted my offer i would've really been in a lot of mess.

So it goes on without saying that it was a mere formality i was doing a pretense of, little realising how i would've managed it with:
a) the already 4 adults and 2 kids who at present were in my house, my atithis (guests) who had come to Chennai with their Apollo Hospital agenda plus the Chennai sightseeing plans which i had to cater to since my husband was away on official tour.
b)  My domestic help being unavailable as she had taken leave to attend one of hers who was sick. Did not have sufficient time to look for someone who could chip in.
c)  The homework that i had to do for my dad that of preparing an itinerary for him to Scandanavian countries starting with Moscow and St Petersberg followed by Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. Also the hotel/hostel bookings between 25 euros-30 euros online and keep it ready as he arrived a week later.
d) That kurta (a kind of long loose Indian Shirt) that had arrived in courier from a new friend (whom i had proffered to embellish her kurta with my  hand embroidery) accused me of being unfair with the pattern traced hastily as i was not finding enough time to do justice with my creativity but had to be finished nevertheless.
e) This along with the usual domestic chores of cooking, cleaning and somehow managing all the tests that  atithis take on your patience and endurance.
Thus i want to tell myself what causes these heartburns.  i have to remind myself not to be too ambitious with my generosity because more than failing, it is the FAKING that causes the heartburn. And definitely i should not bite off more than i can chew! That should relieve me of the heartburn and irritation for the time being i suppose...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What's in a name...Plumeria or Frangipani a Champa is a Champa



                                                                                                                                           
Pink Plumeria Frangipani Temple Tree Ha`iku Haiku Maui Hawai`i Hawaii  
This is the story that my Ma had narrated with all her motherly affections one night when we were quite alert to sleep and she was getting anxious that next morning we will not wake up on time and hence miss the school bus.

Once upon a time there was a king who had two queens. The younger one was beautiful, gentle and kind and the king loved her more than he loved his elder queen. This made the elder queen who was greedy and rough also very jealous. When the King went away on his duties she would harass the younger queen who would silently bear the brunt of mean jealousy. She couldn't even complain as she was mute so she suffered silently. When the King would be with her she forgot her sufferings and enjoyed all that tender love and care he gave her.
Then the time arrived when the younger queen became pregnant and this angered the elder queen all the more  because she was childless and she was afraid that now the king will not bother about her and might even abandon her. So she started conniving and scheming about what she could do when the child is born.
The day the younger queen was to deliver the child, she set about to give form to all her schemings . She didn't have to try too hard because all the plans were ready to be executed.
A good dramatist, she approached the King and pretending to be agitated said, "My Lord, I have just heard that the robbers are looting your subjects living on the borders of the kingdom. Isn't it your duty to go and save them ?"
The King did not want to leave his younger queen and especially not at this juncture but the mean queen assured him that all the care will be taken so he rode away  to perform his other duty.
Now the elder queen entered the confinement room and sent all the attendants away. On time the younger queen delivered two beautiful twins a boy and a girl. Healthy and as beautiful as their mother, a sight of them could take anyone's breath away.
Jealousy coupled with anger had turned the elder queen into a monster and as the younger queen slept exhausted with her labour the twins were snatched from the cradle, poisoned and buried in a remote corner of the place near a lonesome hut. On time she bought two dead babies a boy and a girl  from somewhere and surreptitiously placed them in the cradle.
When the King returned and before he could scold the elder queen for his exercise in futility he was told about the dead babies that the younger queen had delivered. His grief then had no bounds.However he comforted his beautiful one in her grief and both consoled each other thinking that it was a cruel act of fate.
And as fate would have it, there was no sign of any child for quite some time. The King now grew unhappy and irritable.
The elder queen could not let this opportunity slip out of her hands and she approached the King with yet another mean plan.
"Your younger mute queen brings you bad luck", she whispered constantly."You will be laughed at by your people and subjects as being impotent." She persuaded the king to banish the younger queen from the palace.
The poor innocent mute beauty was thrown into that little hut where unknown to her, her babies lay buried.
Utterly lonely and deeply grieved she cried her sadness and remained in the hut and her only solace was these two beautiful blossomed  fragrant trees that grew outside her hut.They were both similar in their form and structure and both had the same mersmerising fragrance too.The younger queen in her mind called them Champa and Chameli.While Champa had white flowers with a miraculous yellow throat, Chameli had all the hues ranging from red to pink. Silent sentinels they watched the queen cry and speak silently to them of her anguish and when she grew too despondent the blossoms would as if by magic fall on her feet one by one.She would pick them up and hold them close to her tear streaked face.
Soon the fame of these trees spread throughout the kingdom. It  came to be known that no one could pluck a single flower from them. As soon as the hands would reach out the flowers would move further from their grasp. It also came to be known that the younger queen was some sorceress of some kind because as soon as she would sit under the trees the flower-laden branches drooped and scattered the  flowers at her feet.
The King who rarely left his place now decided to check the rumour out.So he along with his elder queen made a visit to these trees.
As soon as the elder queen approached the tree the branches drew back sharply.''Murderer!" came a single throated yell .The king now came close and the branches nuzzled his ears.
''Bring our mother here", the soft voice rustled in his ears.
''Who is your mother?'' asked the King in amazement.
''Your younger beautiful queen", pleaded a soft voice.
The King now went inside the hut and brought the younger queen out.
As they both neared the trees the branches bent low and all their creamy white flowers and rosette pink  flowers cascaded into their hair and this time rose a gurgling shrilly but excited cry,''Mother! Father!''.
The elder queen who had turned pale now as she realised the danger she was in, broke down and confessed to her sins.She narrated the story of her evil deeds and begged for forgiveness.The King was too angry to forgive her and would've ordered her execution had it not been for the kind nature of the younger queen.Through her pleading gestures she fell on the King's feet and begged for forgiveness for the elder queen.The King relented and this time banished the mean and evil queen.
Happily both the younger queen and the King returned to the palace and treated the trees just as nature would have it, as their kids.They played and hugged and all four of them lived happily ever after.


Many years later and when my son was refusing to sleep one night i narrated the same story to him with all the expressions i could muster which i suppose will be narrated again by my son.But more than the story each night i would add facts for him to remember while i educated him.This of course as he grew old enough and was familiar with trees and flowers.
*That it is also called the Temple tree or Pagoda Tree and in Tamil it is called Perungalli.
*We call it Champa in Hindi and in Sanskrit it is called Khirchampa...Khir meaning white as in milk.
*That it is also a sacred flower and offered to Lord Shiva.
*That it is also known as Frangipani, Plumeria and most common ones have names like alba and rubra.The alba has white flowers with a sunny yellow throat while the rubra has deep pink and white petals.
*That the ability of the tree to bloom even after it has been uprooted has made it a sign of immortality.And for this reason the Buddhists and Muslims plant these trees next to the tombs of the dead.
*That you should wash your hands and be careful with that milk that oozes out as it is toxic.

My own interest in this flower led me to believe that it is the State Flower of Hawaii as i would see snippets of Hawaiin damsels wearing these in their hair or neatly tuck them in the sides of their sarongs thus making their slim, silky waists all the more appealing to the tourists who were offered garlands of these by the Hawaiiain beauties (with their sarongs and Frangipani as a wreath over their heads or as a garland round their necks and a couple tucked teasingly into the sides of their sarongs) on their arrival.However only more stumbling of facts informed me that i was wrong in my assumption. The State flower of Hawaii is the native Yellow Hibiscus.More about  Hibiscus that it is also the State flower of Malaysia...only that it is the red Hibiscus.
And Champa as it is known there too is actually the National Flower of Laos and Nicaragua where it is called
as' Sacuanjoche '.



Yellow
Hibiscus
National flower of Hawaii and Red Hibiscus National flower of Malaysia



Once a mother always one even when it is a time to relax, i tried to cram general knowledge into my son little realising then that he will gain more as time comes through his own learning.That happened too soon though when one fine day he approaches me with this phrase," to shake the Pagoda tree ".He explained to me very animatedly that it was a slang phrase used by the Britishers to express the openings to rapid fortune in this country called India which all knew as 'sone ki chidiya '(A bird made of gold).

As champa now floats in this terracota urli (a typical wide mouthed vessel found mainly in South India) in my living room i look back on time and laugh at my ambitions about my child. i am not bothered now if he still remembers these FAQ'S much of which was forced into him, i do feel sure however that he will remember the story well enough including the others that i used to sing for him..."Ek kauvva pyaasa thaa... ghade mein pani thoda thaa...Kauva laya kankar...pani aaya uper...Kauve ne piya pani...khatam hui kahani."
{One thirsty crow...the pot had little water...crow brought pebbles...water rose up...crow drank the water...story ends}

Photo courtesy:http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2366823380029319295bCNcLn
                      :http://mgonline.com/articles/plumeria.aspx
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