Thursday, January 27, 2011

Was Happy Then, Am Contented Now

i was sitting like a snug couch potato watching the Golden Globe Awards when one thought struck me just like that. Which was to be good and ask all my friends, old and new to join me for lunch. The fact of the matter being  that i have realized quite recently that it is rather rude to leave the city without saying bye to your friends.
i was somehow successful in stalling the so many lunches and dinners i was being invited to for two simple reasons.
a) There was still some more time for me to stay put comfortably and,
b) i hate the idea of friends getting all hassled up to feed the two of us just because we were now moving out. i detest all that formality  For if i could i would love to just sit down for a pleasant conversation over a cuppa.

So when i had the brilliant idea it was my turn to be stalled as i balked at my own idea. This again for two very simple reasons.

a) Even before i could think of the numbers, uncannily the numbers felt exhaustive.
b) i was doubtful if my request would be accepted as i have been quite a truant for the last few years in this school called SOCIAL CIRCLE. Maybe i have been too self centered and selfish and too self indulgent in my own scheme of things...books...plants...embroidery...travelling...movies...theaters and more movies, to have time for anything else.
Did talk to friends easily if they called up or decided to come over but quite honestly have not really been reciprocating.

i doubted if my friends would oblige me for now i longed to bid adieu and also to explain my own story to my friends.
Is this necessary ?
i think for my own sake it is necessary.
That girl who enchanted them with her gift of the gab...who tickled their taste buds with her innovative cooking...who regaled them with music and dance...who even gifted some of them her own designed creations, once upon a time, was me.

And just like that slowly and gradually it all went some invisible needle pricking an inflated me.
i just lost interest and found enjoying my own company more and more. i sometimes wonder if such a phenomena happens with other people too.
And can someone single out a cause for that.
BTW do we really need to know the cause as if it was a disease that needed prevention or treatment?
If one is happy the way he/she is it should be fine i presume. For i don't think there is any equation that relates happiness to socializing. Rather i have experienced socializing sometimes to be agonizing.

i an unable to pinpoint any single incident that gave birth to this new phase of my life. This transition from being an extrovert to one that can now be nearing to be what they call a partial introvert. That which did not happen suddenly but gradually. There were no fights , no major upsets, everyone was as they should be but i just would not find things as attractive as they were. Oh! there was a time when i loved befriending people, having them over for dinner. Also equally enthusiastic about the return invitations that i looked forward to but now it's a totally new ball game altogether.
Even before i get invited i am concocting different combinations of lame excuses to avoid attending those.
Maybe it's just a phase and should see some changes later but for now it is myain aur meri tanhai ( me and my solitude)
So now what enthralls me is my quiet moments...strange but with music playing in the background they are quiet moments with my needle and thread, or books, or my babies (plants) and everything else that is a part of my humble home.
Doing, cleaning, rearranging with a better sense of organisation and later sitting back and enjoying the bliss of a neat and well settled home.
The uninterrupted sessions of great Hollywood movies are the best times of the day in which i drown myself into the screenplay and the histrionics what to talk of the reverberating- in- the- mind-for-the-day music.
My introductions to Thomas Newman, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Edith Piaf, then a band called Explosions In The Sky, to name a few, happened during these self satisfying moments. Not that i hadn't heard them before but it is now that i can to a certain extent recognize some.
Yeah it is funny but although i am with me i am not stunted or lacking but i am growing i feel more and more.

So then why the sudden feeling that i owe my friends an explanation to my part of the story?

That girl who loved the comfort level that Chennai provided was me.
Needless to say then that apart from the privileges, facilities and infrastructure of a metro it is the friends and acquaintances that provide you that comfort level.
In no case i want them to feel responsible for my sudden shift. For really they were not.
What happened was something very personal...something beyond my comprehension to explain. The solitude felt beautiful and oh! so relaxing. Actually the correct word should be bliss.
When i was partying that was fun too but maybe i sort of over-partied and needed a break.
Or who knows that basically what i thought of about myself as that of being an extrovert, i am not.
Who knows.
All i know is that was good and this is good too. 

Surely my intention of this luncheon is just an attempt to stay in their hearts forever not as what they would call as suddenly- turned- recluse- friend who wouldn't come out of her shell but perhaps as the vibrant, exuberant friend they once knew. Maybe my story should be able to erase that discomfort i might have caused them when i backed out from various social events. i know that although i was happy being with myself, some of my friends longed for my company. i am so sure of that.
For that i do feel guilty after all.
So tomorrow i have picked as the day to make commends. It was not surprising that my friends welcomed me with open arms and have agreed to a girls day out .

Hopefully my farewell words to my friends should not land me with my foot in my mouth like what happened when Robert aka Bobby De Niro gave his acceptance speech after receiving the Cecil B DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement.
i hope when or if anyone reads this, could explain to me, why his speech was dubbed as racist...for i thought when he spoke he was being just satirical and definitely not malicious.
Maybe i am just too big a fan of De Niro to accept his speech to be foul or maybe i have not understood clearly.
Can someone pls oblige me?
His speech can be seen at:

Sure when you are through with Bobby you can have a feel of the French singer and the legendary cultural icon Edith Piaf. As i said my solitude rewarded me with La Vie en rose, a film on World Movies on the TV. The film is about Edith Piaf's life and for the first time that i heard any of her was through this film during this time when i had enough time for myself.
So here it is Non, je ne regrette rein by the lady who is regarded as the greatest popular singer of France.

Image courtesy:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Of Sankranti, Tillkoot and the Rest

So this day today when most parts of the nation celebrates as the harvest festival i was beginning to question why i am so irritable since morning. Not that it is a rare occasion for me feeling that way but then shouldn't i be getting all pepped up to have my some obeisance to the Sun God and then have for breakfast/ lunch what i am supposed to have.
The fact of the matter being that generally of all the people present at home it is me who is ever so enthusiastic about our Indian festivals and all the works associated with it.
At first i thought maybe because the Sun moves from my star sign ie the Saggitarius to enter into Capricorn, the planetary movement is creating mess with my nerves.

"Sankranti is the Sanskrit word, which refers to the transmigration of the Sun from one Rāshi(zodiac in Indian astrology) to the other. There are 12 such sankrantis in all. The Sankranti festival usually refers to Makara Sankaranti, or the transition of the Sun fro m Dhanu rashi (Sagittarius) to Makara rashi (Capricorn)."
But wasn't i thinking silly because i don't even believe in what the stars foretell and here i am having some funny notions about the celebration commemorating the winter solstice to be the culprit of my not so even temperament.
Maybe it is some hormones messing up but whatever i am irritable.
So here i am blogging and once again going down memory lane to home and what happened on this day.
Still snug in our rajais (quilt) and blissfully enjoying the slumber that is typical of winters we would be jolted out of bed and perforce made to have our bath before we could stuff ourselves with the specials for the day. There was no choice we had to eat what was offered before we could be off for games with friends. During these games of seven stones, hopscotch and even kabaddi almost all of us would be seen munching into either Tilkoot or Laaiyee. i guess then these were to a certain extent what we as kids favoured among all those specials avaiable this day which in Bihar is also known as Makar Sankranti and to the locals hailing from the Bhagalpur district of Bihar as TILASANKRANTI
It is really funny how we shrivelled and scowled at the mention of those specials. Shrivelled at the thought of that early morning bath and scowled at what we considered to be some vague stuff being pushed into our gullets. Specials hardly!! we grumbled between our shivering breath. Shivering more with the thought of the bath to be followed by the so called specials.
Sure we never enjoyed much the breakfast which consisted of Dahi Choora.  Followed by sesame seeds laddoos and another refined version of sesame seeds called tilkoot.
Dahi- Fresh Yoghurt
Chooda- (Beaten rice also called Aval/poha)
Ladoos- balls (sesame seeds marble sized balls made with sesame seeds and jaggery)
Tilkoot- Sesame seeds crushed coarsely and prepared into flat crunchy cakes prepared in a mill and bought from the market.These were of two types ie those made with sugar looking off white and those made with jaggery looking somewhat light brown in colour. Elsewhere in India known as Gajak but to Biharis the very special TILLKOOT.
Breakfast was followed later with Kitchdree for lunch . Kitchdree made with freshly harvested rice and dal. The side dishes would be chokha, papad, ghee, acchaar and dahi.
Kitchdree- a hot salty porridge 
Dal- lentils
Chokha- seasoned mashed potatoes / aubergines
Papad- crackers
Ghee- clarified butter
Dahi- as given earlier nothing but fresh plain yoghurt .
"Kichdree ke hain ye paanch yaar...ghee,  papad, chokha, dahi,  acchar", thus the adage. Translated it means kitchdree has five friends...clarified butter, crackers, mashed seasoned potatoes, yoghurt and pickles.
Then in between the most interesting ritual.
Ma would come with a bowl of  sweetened -with-jaggery sesame seeds and drop it into our palms reciting, " Tillay tillay bahava na?'' It was supposed to be a question she asked to all her kids. And to her recitation we were supposed to answer while accepting the sesame seeds with a joyous, ''Yes!, yes!, yes !". Strange that yes had to be said three times. As if just saying yes  thrice sufficed for everything that we were supposed to do so far as service to our mother was concerned.
The recitation and the gift of sesame seeds was like a covenant that we were signing with her. What that recitation meant was as follows- just like the tiny sesame seeds we will be with her forever taking care of her through thick and thin.
Finally as i reminisce all this and more as to how we enjoyed that extra winter holiday after the schools reopened to a new semester, playing outside with our friends munching laiyee , i begin to miss home and all the comforts that i had. i begin to think about whether we stayed true to our promise that was made to Ma each year on Sankranti day when we were kids.  i sort of start to crib and crave for the old days...the morning excitement, the fervor, the hustle bustle, the smell of fresh Katarni Chooda, and the delicious aroma of the Katarni Chawal Kitchdree and most importantly felt the absence of Ma. If she was walking on the earth still i would've called her at least to ask her the association of sesame seeds to that covenant that we signed.
 Oh ! thank God some good soul in the family got me Tilkoot/Gajak to eat on this day at Chennai but i do miss all that paraphernalia of yesteryears Sankranti. i hate the idea of all that going extinct as we continue with our lives minus these.
Katarni Chooda- a special aromatic variety of small grained paddy which is proccesed to make beaten rice. Prepared exclusively in that Bhagalpur district of Bihar.
Katarni Chawal- Small grained aromatic raw rice. This too cultivated and prepared in Bhagalpur.

i guess now i know the reason of my irritability. i know that from inside i am cribbing for someone to give me back all that. i hate to do it all by myself now. Sure i have the ingredients for food...Katarni Chooda, Katarni Chawal, Dahi, Papad, Ghee, Acchaar, Tilkoot and Till laddoos too. But who is going to give me Ma, Papa, Siblings, Cousins, Relatives and Friends to enjoy it with. Now is the time when all of us together could've really relished the specials. Sure i know how delicious all these specials are but i have no one to do the works and conjure up that same excitement, the same atmosphere. i miss my own kind to enjoy my festival my way.
Maybe cribbing is not the solution so i should shake the sad and irritable lazy bones and do something about it. i know i hate to do it all alone but i shall make an attempt.Who knows at the end of it all i might not be looking for some silly reasons to defend my irritable self.
Yay !...Dahi Chooda followed by Kitchdree and for dessert it's going to be TILLKOOT. Then for the in between small hunger LAIYEE.
                                              Dahi (Fresh Yoghurt)       Chooda (Beaten Rice)
                                            Kitchdree ( porridge of rice lentils and vegetables)
                                                Potato and  Aubergine Chokha or Bharta  
                                           Sesame seeds balls...this one large... (sizes optional)
                                                Tilkoot/ Gajak...this one made with jaggery

                                Laaiyee...Sweet Balls of puffed rice and beaten rice also made with jaggery
Wish everybody who visits my blog a very Happy Sankranti. Pongal, Lohri, Bihu...As for me i think it is better to soak myself in a larger celebration, the last that i shall be a part of as my stay in Chennai gets over this month. So hearing Pongal 'o' Pongal and enjoying the 4 days of celebration i shall be signing off with this bit of info on Sankranti the Tamil Nadu way.
This bit of what i have learnt and experienced of Pongal in Chennai is from:

Tamil Nadu

It is a four day festival in Tamil Nadu:[citation needed]
  • Day 1st - Bhogi Pandigai (Bhogi) போகி பண்டிகை
  • Day 2nd - Thai Pongal(Perum Pongal) பொங்கல் பண்டிகை
  • Day 3rd - Maattu Pongal மாட்டு பொங்கல்
  • Day 4th - Kaanum Pongal காணும் பொங்கல்
The festival is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai. The first day of festival is Bhogi. It is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials, by setting them on fire, marking the end of the old and the emergence of the new.
The second day of festival is Thai Pongal or simply Pongal. It is the main day of the festival, falling on the first day of the Tamil month Thai. It is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new two pots, which are later topped with ghee, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil and overflow the vessel ( Such overflowing of the foodstuffs from the pot indicates that wealth and wellness will overflow from this occasion - literally the word Pongal means "fullness" - பொங்குதல்). This tradition gives Pongal its name. The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of "Ponggalo Ponggal!" and blowing the sangu (a conch), a custom practiced during the festival to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings.[citation needed] Then New boiled rice is offered to the Nature during sunrise, a gesture which symbolises thanks to the sun and nature for providing prosperity. It is later served to the people present in the house for the ceremony. People also prepare savories and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam and sugar cane and visit each other and exchange greetings.
The third day of festival is Maattu Pongal. It is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmer in different ways for agriculture. On this day the cattle are decorated with paint, flowers and bells. They are allowed to roam free[citation needed] and fed sweet rice and sugar cane. Some people decorate the horns with gold or other metallic covers. In some places, Jallikattu, or taming the wild bull contest, is the main event of this day and this is mostly seen in the villages.
The fourth day of the festival is Kaanum Pongal (the word kaanum means "to view"). During this day people visit their relatives, friends to enjoy the festive season. This day is a day to thank relatives and friends for their support in the harvest. It started as a farmers festival, called as Uzhavar Thirunaal in Tamil. Kolam decorations are made in front of the house during

Sweet Pongal- Shakkarai Pongal

Dated 13th January 2013
i have questions about this connection of Sesame seeds with many Hindu rituals. i have tried all. Questioned elders, searched the internet but much to my chagrin have been left in the lurch. However when so many years later when Maa is one among the stars now i can close my eyes and finally make that promise to Tiley Tiley Bahava Na. 
Thanks to  and  "Since time immemorial, this festival has been celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country, yet the use of til or sesame, is found everywhere. The til or sesame seed contains a lot of oil and therefore has a quality of softness. Therefore, firstly, the use of til in sweets is good for health and secondly, being soft, their exchange signifies the exchange of love and tender feelings."

To anyone who stumbles on my page pls feel free to enlighten me with more as to how or why of all the seeds in this world it is the sesame seed which is used in most Hindu rituals.
Six types of usage of Til are described. Til is used for Bathing, for Massaging, for Havan (sacred fire ceremony), Tarpan with Til (oblations of water with Til), Til used as food, and Til is donated in charity. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Better Late Than Never

i was brought up in a way where thinking about boys was a sacrilege that is when i was in my prime. Good respectable girls weren't supposed to do that. Seeing boys romantically was a sign of promiscuity.
i still remember that after my ICSE (10th) in a convent school got over and when i had moved to another missionary school to do my Plus 2 something very traumatic had happened.
Dad to me : Dekho Munni ab tumhare class mein ladke bhi hongay. Chup Chaap padhai karna aur kissi ladke se koi dosti nahin karna. Love shove ke chakkar mein to padna hee mat nahin toh woh khandani talwaar hai na usse hum tumko kaat dalenge. Yeh bhi nahin sochenge kee tum meri beti ho.
Translated this means- Look Munni (my nickname) there would be boys in your class now. Quietly you should just focus on your studies and don't talk to boys. Don't you DARE involve yourself in SOME nonsense thing called love. Otherwise I shall cut you with that ancestral sword. I won't even hesitate not one bit to do so even if you are my daughter.
So that was the end of my teenage hormones that would have prompted my interest in boys in a manner where i could see myself  eligible for romance. i stuck along with my best friend who naturally was even more dead against boys and together we dreamt of staying on an island forever. Girls who discussed boys were like characterless and cheap and should be kept even further away than the arm's length. It didn't matter when other girls would tease us when they saw us together holding hands and moving like inseparables.
The first time i heard one of my returned- from- Welham- Dehradun classmate say, " Stop behaving like Lesbians Shivani !!", i didn't get her. In my naivety all i could ascertain was that there must be a country called Lesbia and the residents of that country are Lesbian and what could be wrong in belonging to a country. i didn't get any of it.
Didn't bother about it and still held hands and continued to be the same.
We were happy in our girly world and sort of hated boys because we thought boys were all bad since all they wanted was, only to get physical. Plus they smelt bad...of sweat all the time. Ugh !!

Outwardly all about boys was bad but inwardly and in my imagination there would be a TDH (Tall, Dark Handsome) faceless character...twilight...shores of a beach...fronds of palms...the silhouette of a girl and a man and oh so many French kisses...butterflies in the stomach and so on and so forth.
The concept of TDH was mooted in my imagination by my own indulgence in Mills and Boons. The masculine, strong heros who swept their ladies off their feet were mostly TDH'S.
Besides if the guy was the fairer one then how else would he appreciate mine and say to me, '' Gosh how fair and beautiful you are !''

The stories mostly started with PYT'S ( pretty young things) slapping the TDH'S and ended with the diamond ring.
i would imagine...and later day dream. Listen to love songs and keep seeing the faceless tall character in my thoughts.
The fact of the matter being that i was so eager to experience ROMANCE.
Falling in love and oh ! all that jazz.
Eager but not a desperado. My Dad's ancestral sword and his words that ringed inside me wouldn't permit me to be so.

Later tragedy kept happening till i got married. Received a few romantic proposals from boys but none who were my age. These belonged to two extremely different categories. i got proposed few times by youngsters. The first category had little schoolboys hopeless in their longing, boys ranging from age 8-15. Was flattered by their adoration but it was just something to be brushed aside. My own age group considered me to be an eccentric character who stayed away from boys. i wonder now how many thought that i was stiff. Some might have felt that i was not straight.  i don't blame them.
A girl who would feel awkward in the presence of  eligible boys and would not look straight but started fumbling and later scooted away hurriedly when she was been addressed to should be an eccentric/ gay only.
Only if they had seen the ancestral sword hanging in the living room of my house and only if they had known my Dad...only if...then i am sure someone would have made an attempt to show the least bit of interest in me.
Besides just like all classes have one beauty queen that the entire boy gang wants, my class too had a hep prom queen and i was quite a pathetic competitor. Who would bother to look at an eccentric girl whose hair was always oiled and in two plaits tied with the most lame red ribbons.

Then there were guys who were way ahead of my age. Some guarding angel from heaven monitored these kinds perhaps for i had to deal only with their looks and a few sentences that warned me to stay away from them and never to meet them alone.The middle aged men, sick men who probably had daughters of their own, if not my age but maybe a few years younger. Uff!!
i remember how i fired my physics tuition teacher when he said that i was the girl of his dreams who was giving him sleepless nights.
Didn't say anything to anyone not even to my best friend and preferred to flunk in physics rather than take tuition .
"I love you!"  from a few uncles later i finally thanked my stars when at age 21, dear Dad fixed my marriage.
i just got very lucky. The man in my life was a TDH and an IITian too.
So what happened next is history. i romanced but had doubts if that was true romance.
What i mean is, i kept thinking like i trained my thoughts...directed it...sort of manipulated it to make it feel like a natural romance.
Maybe my poor husband has not had it either. Both of us have missed that bus called FALLING IN LOVE.
So was my thought for such a long time.

And as i force him to sit and watch The Bridges Of Madison County, the movie,  in the mellow light of the bedroom soaking in that intense dialogue between Francesca (Meryl Streep) and Richard (Clint Eastwood), my hidden desire for this crazy little thing called ROMANTIC LOVE resurfaces.
First i turn to look at my husband and realising that i am looking at him he turns to look at me.
We both look at each other and revert back to the movie. When the movie ends i cry, sobbing uncontrollably.
My husband was gentle and asks me, " Baby what's wrong?''
i couldn't answer because i couldn't figure it out clearly and at that time attributed my tears to the touching scenes and the honest dialogues.
He let me cry for a while understanding the same and then hugged me to sleep.

It came to me later that it was not only the touching scene of Francesca's sacrifice and Meryl Streep's brilliant portrayal that moved me. Nor was Richard's extreme understanding of Francesca's predicament that moved me. It was something much more.
It was my own thoughts about love.

i thought there are a lot many things that each one of us have missed out in our lives. i cannot speak on behalf of others but then i know kabhi kissi ko mukammal jahan nahin milta....(no one gets everything in life) therefore we are prompted rather than reared in a way that teaches us to count our blessings. That helps to a large extent and we move on with our lives feeling or rather nurturing ourselves with whatever we can afford and have.
But in spite of all that there are times that some unfulfilled desire sneaks in like a virus that has caught us unawares.
i have often wondered rather imagined what that romantic love is really like. Will be dishonest if i don't say that i thought i have missed falling in love.
So what !  i must count my blessings for the man in my life has really been very gentle, loving and kind.

i have been so rigid about my thoughts of falling in love.
i have just longed for it in a particular fashion like how i have seen it in movies or read about in books and so have also nurtured inadequacy.
The reality being that with each passing day i have or rather we both have been falling in love more and more.
i have been receiving oodles and oodles of romance and have failed to acknowledge it because of my silly, dumbfounded rigidity.
How i have basked in the glory of love all this while and yet i thought otherwise.
What also made me cry was the absolute certainty about my husband's love for me and the realisation of my own foolishness.
Maybe i shall say no further of my own because i think what Francesca says sounds sublime. In her journal addressing her kids who are all adults now she says, " I've realised love won't obey our expectations. It's mystery is pure and absolute..."
And i can say for sure now,  how true !
i look back and don't consider Dad's warning to be a trauma anymore.  Maybe he was just protecting me from falling prey to that silly concept of love and the other disasters.
What would i have known of love when i was say 16 or 17. Something which is just attraction nothing else and after a while when the rigors of life makes one feel the grind,  the attraction fades and the passion dies.
At last finally i realise about love after all these years.
i look into the eyes of the man that Dad chose for me and i see that there's everything there i need for me.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sensing Sankofa

True! thanks to the social networking sites there is a lot of nostalgia happening around as Mr R Edwin Sudhir points out in his article, 'State Of Reunion' published in Times of India, January 3rd 2011. And judging from the sets of friends as we know them as, these reunions could be a " double whammy of mass meetings and disjointed memories."   Especially for those who have to take time out from their hectic schedules and fit into their diary of events these reunions. He has said it all so eloquently. But what i loved the most was the word that he uses right at the starting. And i was made aware of EGO- SURFING.  i honestly didn't know what it was.  So just like the so many other new aspects of the new life that i come across and if it suits me to know about it, i googled to know correctly what he meant by ego-surfing.
Maybe it will be good on my part to keep his article right here in front of me so that i am not sidetracked from what i have to say. The fact of the matter being that i generally get sidetracked.

Yes i will not deny that i am with him and agree to what he has to say. Specially admire how he has made his point right on the spot. My purpose of reading and re-reading was only to see how well he brought the beginning and end together. So apart from learning how to express clearly, his words left a smile on my face.
Plus i learnt about this new pastime/hobby or whatever, this occupation called ego-surfing.

So according to him ,'' Nostalgia is all right, provided it's in manageable doses."  i was just wondering then if it is wrong/silly/pointless to feel nostalgic for i am going down memory lane at the drop of the hat.
Consider this, anything or everything happening around you takes you way back in time because the more you think about things changing, the more they still remain the same.
Many a times we are like amazed, sometimes stunned other times shocked to see history repeat itself.
Rather sometimes thanks to this nostalgia i am able to look back and see things more clearly.  i feel compassionate and more accommodating than i would have normally been thanks to events from days gone by.
A lot many positive changes happened in me because of the wisdom being instilled in me by what had been when i was say, a child, a teenager, a college student later a young married woman and finally a mother.

i consider nostalgia to be some musical fancy word with sounds, smells and sights to what is called past experience. And many a times i feel one cannot help but take a plunge in the past.  Its like happening naturally almost all the time,  reunions or no reunions. It's happening like breath,  automatically and unwittingly.  Although the choice is then up to us. Sometimes we'd like to indulge in it and other times it just whizzes past like a bird that just flew above your head.
i feel i cannot control it.  And even if i could i would not want to do so because for me this going down memory lane has been like self discovery.
i have realised my identity and made revisions to it to suit the time, place and all my needs. Surely there has been a lot of personal growth in between.

Just a few days back i learnt something really enlightening and it was another aha moment for me. For what i thought was just a common pattern for embroidery was actually a symbol of great knowledge. Well ! the stylised pattern looks like what one has commonly seen as a print on cloth, as a design for grills, also features in architecture,  jewellery, of course as an embroidery pattern, an alpana (decoration on floor) design and even as a design for henna on hands and feet. Now with the world going bonkers over tattoo, the design is also very popular among tattoo lovers for what it symbolises.
So this then and the pattern on top of my blog is an abstract stylised form of Sankofa, a mythical bird that flies forward while looking backwards and has an egg in it's mouth.

" Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi."
This is Akan and translated,  the proverb means, " It is no taboo to return to fetch something which has been forgotten. You can always correct your mistakes."
The Sankofa bird reaches into the past and returns with values and assets that can be used to build the future.
The egg in the beak symbolising the past and the future.
The symbol means, " taking from the past that which is good and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress through benevolent use of knowledge".

The Akan people are an ethnic linguistic group of West Africa mainly Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire who have over the centuries developed a highly artistic system of communication using ideographic and pictographic symbols.
Each symbol representing a specific concept, a saying or even a proverb very much rooted to the Akan experience about everything in life.
Sanko- means go back and fa means to take. Go back and take= Sankofa.

Looking closely we might find the similarity it has to how generally we represent the heart.

Call it a coincidence or find it strange but just like the older African religions which had nothing written and  their beliefs were handed down orally through proverbs and stories so has been the case with what we know as Hinduism. The deeper meanings of life, culture, community or nation are conveyed in a similar manner.
To me like i said my memories that flood in all the time has been everything that this pattern symbolises.  i find my memories useful as i delve into it all the time taking from it whatever my needs could be at that it something most mundane as my cooking to teaching some song from school to listening to some music that soothes rather than agitates to something that goes a step further which could also be personal development.  Looking back i see the places i have defaulted and then make corrections that has helped me now and should continue to help me in the future. The problems i faced have been valuable too.
 i guess then i can replace wording my feelings with something that sounds even more musical than the word which is beginning to sound so cliched.
i cannot hence use the phrase,  'Wallowing in nostalgia' for it has a very negative feel to it.  i'd rather say something like SENSING SANKOFA .

Before i quit i must give due credits to yet another article from TOI from which i have quoted my new found wisdom.
Maybe i am influenced also by the book by Alex Haley,' Roots' which now i seem to read like i would a sacred text for earlier i had not found it to be so endearing and on the contrary when my father had asked me to read it i had read a few pages here and there and reverted back to my Mills and Boons. That was way back in the 70's i suppose.

Also since i am now aware to a little extent of Akan and their wonderful words of wisdom i would like to sign off with this and the rest that i have discovered.
"Nyasa mu bunu  ne mate masie." Or as per Akan, " In the depth of wisdom abounds knowledge and thoughtfulness. I consider and keep what I learn."

  • If all the seeds that fall were to grow, then no one could follow the path under the trees.
  • If an ass goes a traveling; he will not come home a horse.
  • Marriage is like a groundnut: you have to crack them to see what is inside.
  • One should never rub bottoms with a porcupine.
  • The family is like the forest: if you are outside, it is dense; if you are inside you see that each tree has it's own position.
  • The rain wets the leopard spots but does not wash them off.
Image courtesy:
For any one interested in knowing the meanings of Akan/ Adinkra symbols: