Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bhagwaan and His Corn

"Ram's Horns"Adinkra symbol for humility, strength, wisdom  and learning
Bounty of Nature
by Margaret Jang

The bounty of nature does inspire
nourishment for your heart's desires.
Breathtaking harmony co-exists,
in a loving, peaceful state of bliss.

If you watch carefully, you will see,
that nature offers all your needs.
Abundance for body, mind and soul,
is shared, as you begin to unfold.

To be one with nature is truly healing,
through which you discover innermost feelings.
You will soon feel soothing calm evolve,
with problems diminished, all will be solved.

And if you stand to look across the sea,
you will find endless possibilities.
These are just waiting to meet your gaze,
with clarity, you'll see through the haze.

The bounty of nature will always share,
it's wonderful gifts beyond compare.
Once you realize how lucky you are,
appreciation will take you afar.

When we set out for Sri Omkaareshwar Mammaleshwar i had noticed the colorful plastic makeshift tents of the vendors on both sides of the road selling roasted corn on the cob. i found the sights of these colorful tents some fluorescent green, some yellow, and the artistic arrangement of corn by some vendors in the monsoon drizzle very beckoning. But not the corn per se. The fact of the matter being that back home in Bihar i have really never relished the taste of the roasted corn even when dabbed with a generous amount of a paste of lime juice, salt and crushed green chillies. For although the paste layer tasted piquant enough i found the taste of the corn really bland. Moreover the kernels felt rather chewy and hard even when it was roasted black.

But the very next day i regretted my decision for overlooking and underestimating the corn being roasted in those bright colorful tents. On way to Sri Mahaakaleshwer
and passing through the Sanwer Bypass our dear friend and guide for the day Rathore was shocked to learn that we have not yet tasted this specialty.
"Arre Bhabhi jee the roasted corn on Sanwer Bypass is very famous. Tourists generally throng this place during this monsoon season to grab a bite of this specially roasted American corn..." he exclaimed animatedly.
Thanks to his persistence/insistence we pulled over and got down for some corn tasting.

And boy! am i glad to have had the earthy smoky hot corn which tasted juicy, mildly sweet and very tender. The cool feathery drizzle and the hot roasted corn...what an experience!!
i can't believe i gobbled a whole big corn and cared less to rub it with lime juice for i simply loved the taste of this corn sans any flavoring just as it was. Simply delicious!

Indigenous Coal Oven

A close perusal revealed very well how the fresh tender corn got it's special flavor and aroma.These were roasted over coal/ charcoal fire. No wonder then the ones that we roast over the gas flame always seem to lack something and the corn enthusiasts want to rub all kinds of seasonings over it sometimes even over indulging in butter.

The young teenager boy who was helping his elder brother in peeling off the husk looked quite dazed at me being quite hyper. So i started talking to him and asked him if the corn on the cob that he and his Bhaiya were roasting and selling was bought from somewhere or whether it came from his own fields. His answer gladdened me for the corn that was offered to us was from his own field and not some imported stuff.
Call it a coincidence or just something for when i asked him what his name was, his perplexed countenance made way for an amused smile and he said, " Mera naam Bhagwaan hai."

Bhagwaan's Corn
Bhagwaan's Bhaiya
i asked him if i could take some pictures of his khet ka corn. He nodded in the affirmative and i hastily took some cyber shots while the vehicle honked for me to embark and set off on our road trip once again to get a glimpse of our Bhagwaan who is also known as Swayambhu in Ujjain.

Couldn't help but remember Sant Kabir later throughout the ride to our destination. What was that he said about searching for the divine?
Saheb teri sahibi, sab ghat rahi samai;
Jyon mehendi ke pat mein, lali laki na jai.
Meaning: O'Almighty! Your power dwells in every heart
It is just like the red color that although invisible resides within the henna leaves.
Kasturi kundali basai, mrig dhoondhe ban mahi;
Aise ghat ghat Ram hai, duniya dekhat nahi.
Meaning: The musk deer searches in vain for the fragrance of the musk everywhere in the forest when actually that musk lies in his navel and yet he is unawares.
In the same way God dwells in the heart of every living being and yet we look for him everywhere and are unable to find Him.
Bhaiya...will i see him again?
And yes as our Scorpio sped off and as i gazed at the elder brother and his tent disappear from sight i kept gaining still more. Some helpful insights. i realized that the roasted corn apart from delighting my stubborn taste bud also eased me of my anxiety. The anxiety, the nervousness that lurked inside me as i set out from Indore. Being a holiday and also the last day of Saawan/Shravan Pooja  all i was worried about was the sea of humanity pilgrims thronging the Temple premises and whether i would be fortunate enough in my attempt to have a glimpse of  Swayambhu. For i also believe that until He grants His blessings we can only at best plan. Maybe by offering me that corn Bhagwaan dispelled those nagging and irritating thoughts which was proving to be a major dampener on my otherwise cheery self.
Also that just like they say that never judge a book by it's cover so can it be applied to all the bounties of nature. Sure taste like choice is a personal thing but never ever will i dismiss, ignore and underestimate these bounties again. Experience and Taste is the slogan for me now. Ironical isn't it when for many like me this day today it is Anti Corruption.

Thus the ride to my destination was even more delightful as i gazed to my hearts content the 'Bounty of Nature', fresh green fields of corn, soyabean, cotton, marigold, vegetables, vast stretches of the prized timber Teak with large leaves the monsoon with lingering taste of Bhagwaan and his corn on my palate, ease in my heart and self enriching thoughts of Kabir refreshing my mind.

This version sung by Bhupendar although beautifully rendered is incomplete therefore i seize this opportunity to
copy and paste the complete great words of Sant Kabir with translation. My sincere thanks to


मोको कहाँ ढूंढे रे बन्दे, मैं तो तेरे पास मेंMoko kahan dhoonde re bande, mien to tere paas mien
Where do you search for me oh humble seeker, I am within you or very close to you. 

ना तीरथ में ना मूरत में, ना एकांत निवास में
Naa teerath mien naa moorat mien, naa ekant niwas mien.

I am not to be found in pilgrimage nor in the idols and statues nor in the solitude.

ना मन्दिर में ना मस्जिद में, ना काबे कैलास मेंNaa mandir mien naa maszid mien, naa kaabe kailas mienI am neither to be found in a temple nor in a mosque, neither inKaaba (the sacred place of Muslims) nor in Kailas (a sacred place of Hindus). Here 'Kabir' says that the Lord is not present in the place of worships or sacred places of different religions. Great Saint KabirDas was the founder of Sant Mat and propounded the doctrine that the prevailing religions are all products of 'Maya', designed to keep the soul in bondage and real salvation is only possible through SantMat.
मैं तो तेरे पास में बन्दे, मैं तो तेरे पास में
Mien to 
tere paas mien bunde, mien to tere paas mienI am somewhere close to you oh humble seeker, I am somewhere very close to you; I am not to be found in the different practices you are following in the name of religion and rituals.

ना मैं जप मैं ना मैं तप 
में, ना मैं बरत उपास में
Na mien jup mien na mien tup mien, Na mien barat upas mien
I am not to be found in muttering of prayers nor in religious austerity, nor I am to be found in different type of fastings.

ना में क्रिया करम में रहता, नहिं जोग सन्यास 
मेंNaa mien kriya karam mien rehtanahi jog sanyas mienI am not to be found in different rituals, neither in denouncing world for contemplation.
नहिं पिंड में नहिं अंड में, ना ब्रहमांड आकाश मेंNahi pind mien nahi und mien, naa brahamand akash mien.I am neither to be found in Pind or Und, nor in the region of BrahamandPindUnd and Brahmand are the regions of lower existence of which our world is a part. Sant Mat founded by Great Saint Kabir Das propounded the doctrine that the creation can be divided into three grand divisions, the topmost being the region of pure spirituality or the region of ALMIGHTY; there can be no real salvation until the soul reaches the regions of pure spirituality. Here it is also indicated that all religions emanated from the region within the brahmanda.
ना मैं प्रकटी भंवर गुफा में, सब स्वांसों की स्वांस में
Na mien prakati bhanwar gufa mien, sub sanson ki saans mien
Neither I appeared in the region of Bhanwar gufa, I am present in the breath of all breath. Bhanwar Gufa is a region much higher thanBrahmand, from where Lord Krishna's advent took place (that is why Lord Krishna explained in Gita that HE had come from a region much higher than Brahma); here it is also indicated that Lord Krishna belonged to Bhanwar Gufa, which is much higher than the region ofBrahmanda but still lower than the region of pure spirituality. Kabirsays, that ALMIGHTY is the life of all life (breath of all breath); indicating that ALMIGHTY is the life source of all religions emanating from the regions of Brahmanda or Bhanwar Gufa

खोजी होए तुंरत मिल जाऊ, इक पल की तलाश 
Khoji hoye turant mil jaunik pal ki talash mien
He who is a real seeker will get me in a moment's search, I can not be attained through different religions and rituals; a true seeker, seeking in the right direction will get me in a moment. The cycle of births and deaths endless, here 'Kabir' hints that looking to the vast and endless cycle of rebirths, one can get the ALMIGHTY in a much smaller time by following the correct path. 

कहत कबीर सुनो भई साधो, मैं तो हूँ विश्वास में
Kehat Kabir suno bhai sadho, mien to hoon vishwas mien
Thus says Kabir, listen to me, I am only to be found through faith. 'Faith' that tells you that there is an ALMIGHTY and HE is the only might behind everything, when you have this faith you accept everything as having been done by him, without any happiness or sorrow; thus through freedom from happiness or sorrow, you become free from bondage of 'karma'.
                                              Arrey- oh/ hey
                                              Bhabhi ji- respected sister-in-law
                                              Bhaiya-elder brother
                                              Mera- My
                                              Bhagwaan- God
                                              Hai- is
                                              Khet- farm/ field
                                              Swayambhu-self created
Image courtesy:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Return of the Native

It is only befitting that i talk about him first. Mainly because some of my next series of blogs will be centered around what i have only gained from him.
i need to acknowledge then that it truly is a very satisfying and rewarding experience when you visit a new place where you are chaperoned around with a friend who not only belongs to that place but is also a true son of the soil. For you are blessed not only with all the needful requirements duly attended to right from the time you disembark the train till you board the train again to be back home but also with the finer details about the new place which only a magnanimous and very patriotic local host can impart and share.

Yes we had been to Indore recently motivated by the fervent invitation of a friend who has managed to sneak into our hearts unawares in such a manner that it is difficult to ascertain what he and his family mean to us. Sometimes he is a dear friend, a bum chum with whom we are only just too relaxed to set aside the facade of sophistication and be our original self. Other times he is a family with whom we share our deepest traumas and secrets without any fear or doubts. It is rather very difficult to say which role he performs with greater finesse and panache. Whether he is better as a family more on whom we can bank on blindly or best as a dear, full of fun and life, FRIEND.

On being apprised by my husband over the phone of my intention which was a rather religious one instead of the regular sightseeing holiday, this friend/family apart from planning our weekend itinerary applied all his sincere efforts in giving us the very best of all the worlds in those two limited days. That too when he was playing host to some 50 family members who were stationed at his place on his behest to enjoy a full- family- at- one- place- Raksha Bandhan.

Unlike us who in the name of motherland offer only lip service and in fact know very little of our own native place, he is an ardent devotee of the place he was born and raised. Today he feels more blessed than happy on being fortunate enough to finally manage a posting after 20 years of serving miles and miles away from home. Although even when he was miles away he made sure not only for his family and him making visits to his native town as often as he could manage but also that we were not bereft either of getting some real taste of Malwa. For thanks to his electric enthusiasm and leadership we could enjoy all our festivals with the same gaiety and hurdang ( boisterous fun) as we would have in his native place Bagli which is a small town in the district of Dewas  Madhya Pradesh, India .

Even otherwise we were often invited home to savor and get acquainted with both his adorable family members whom he would regularly invite for a Southern Sojourn and the local delicacies like Dal Bafla, Dal Bati Churma, Besan ki chikki, Sev tamatar ki sabji , Besan ki sabji  plus many other exotic local dishes the names of which i can't seem to recollect right now.
Amidst good cohesive gathering and delicious food he would then regale us not only with jokes, stories and tales of his land but also about unknown facts which would provide us with some lesson in anthropology. How else then would we even know the name of this festival called Bhagoriya and the songs sung in regional dialect during that festival?
With him and his family it was always laughter and fun of such magnitude that the daily stress of life seemed  dormant and diminished. Whether it concerned the dull and severe competitive educational regime of school going kids or was related to the awful and sometimes traumatic Hari Sadu- boss- ridden- career- in- doldrums at the office. All of us would be seen laughing our worries away. His explanations, observations, mimicry, some unbelievable original anecdotes made us roll with laughter so much so that our stomachs cried out for mercy and tears would start to trickle from the corner of the eyes. 

Almost the entire department can never have enough of his extempore transliterated farewell speech which he was requested to give suddenly in his first posting as a very young officer at Chennai. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for him he was the senior most officer in that particular department. Still inexperienced in such matters that required one to wax eloquent about someone and ill-equipped not only with Tamil and some fluency in English but also with enough familiarity to even remember the name of the retiring gentleman this extempore has become a convention now in all our farewell speeches. After the regimental formalities are over and if  Rathore is present he is requested unanimously for a re-wind and when he is not around someone else does the honors A la  Rathore style as laughter dispels the somberness and sadness much associated with farewell parties especially when the outgoing gentleman is not exactly the one who belongs to the Hari Sadu genre. 

All our kids who grew up having him around still cherish the poignant memories of the complete full package fun times spent with their favorite Rathore Uncle. My son still uses Rathore's typical" Hoy! Hooye!" happy exclamations of joy whenever he joins in any fun or revelry especially when India or any of his favorite team wins a match. He finds the Hoy! Hooye! and the rhythm with which it was pronounced by Rathore Uncle as the best form of expressing his own extreme joy still. He emulates his Rathore Uncle in this and i hope he emulates other attributes as well.
My son is 22 now and although he has his own fun times so typical of youngsters today yet Rathore Uncle and those moments of jolly togetherness will forever remain etched in his heart and mind.That memorable visit to the Vandalur Zoo or to the nearby Kanchipuram Temples, the long drive to Mahabalipuram on a full moon night or a movie show with the whole zing bang crowd when all went berserk, a casual family visit or the combined family get togethers  in which we shared each others bits and bites and last but not the least the mother of all such fun packed events, the festivals when nothing not even the dhol , tabla and manjira was overlooked and none of us would be free enough  from food, drinks, dance, music and buffoonery to miss home and family. Judging from the way my son's eyes light up and sparkle with joy at the mere mention of Rathore and the ease with which he goes down memory lane recollecting all his vivid memories i somehow get this feeling that not only the Hoy Hooye but every single event shall be passed on with gleeful delight to my grandchildren.
So far as we are concerned we are not any different either, rather quite eccentric in our behavior. For sometimes even when there's nothing to be boisterous about, we nurture and chant Rathore's rhythmic expression with religious fervor. 

The rituals, the attire, the local delicacies, the regional songs, the fun fare all planned and executed in a jiffy which apparently seemed effortless made us wonder often about the quality of our social life sans him and equaling him none the less in their hospitality and warmth his affectionate family. Sure his absence in Chennai must have created a deep and painful void but knowing his nature fully well i am sure he must be staying in touch with one and all, emitting and enthusing the same exuberance when he was around. His invite and his devotion to our friendship is a testimony to the fact. i have before me his handsome princely face right in front of my mind's eye and as i blog i feel this extreme humbleness trickling down on me from him.

On recently being felicitated in his home town Bagli he felt quite embarrassed when the town took him quite by surprise. Deeply humbled by their gesture in honoring him with a citation that speaks volumes in favor of their very own Commisioner he felt unduly appreciated. He told us how he felt and his own words were " If I had known they would be doing this I would have skipped going home this time for I feel guilty of Palaayan (migrating)...what have I done for my native place...nothing...
i saw the silent film of accumulating but unshed tears justifying his angst. But before his self confessed guilt i had also chanced upon a file while i was going through his album which had pictures of him cutting the ribbons inaugrating this and that. This file was thick and replete with newspaper clippings giving details about his committed and dedicated service to all the new projects under his purview. Perhaps it must be his doll like wife, collecting his achievements with pride while her husband seems to be getting humbler with each addition.

Both of us were too overwhelmed to say anything but the words that escaped my tongue sounded something like , " Oh! Rathore you shouldn't feel like that. Your native place feels proud to have their son returning to the homeland equipped with such a prestigious and powerful is a matter of extreme pride for a small town..."

Now sitting here i think i should have said, " Not at never left Bagli ever and you never will for where ever you go Bagli will go with you dear Rathore. We thank our stars that through you and your family we know this wonderful and lovable place called Bagli where outsiders are treated like family following the Hindu philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The whole world is one single family) and associated with the same spirit the most endearing and glorious tradition of Atithi Devo Bhava ( The guest is God)."

                                        Humility is a strange thing~
                                        the minute you think
                                        you've got it,
                                        you've lost it ~

Would love to share this clip from you tube of the Bhagoria festival before i quit although i wish i could have also possessed a recording which had Rathore's voice crooning in the local dialect...
However even reminiscing is enough...making me smile as i try and remember how he sang while we laughed with joy at his stunning performance which sounded funny but was one of his many entertaining spectacle.

 Ayam nijah paroveti ganana laghu-chetsam 
Udara charitam Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
"This is my own and that a stranger"- is the calculation for the narrow minded
For the magnanimous hearts however, the entire earth is but a family

                                                      - :Glossary of terms used:-
   Hari Sadu Boss- The acronym taken from a TV commercial and generally applies to tyrannical bosses.
   Bosses who are not only angry, self centered and abusive but also very miserly with appreciation.
   H- Hitler, A-arrogant, R-rascal, I- idiot, S-shameless...

   Dal Bafla, Dal Bati Churma- a popular delicacy of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh                                                                                                                                
Dal in the bowl and bafla
Yellow Dal in the first small bowl, Bati and churma in the big bowl

Sev Tamatar ki Sabji- a curry made with a dry snack called sev
Besan ki chikki- a sweet made from chickpeas flour
Besan ki Sabji- a curry made from chickpeas flour
          Dhol- a large typically two headed drum used in India especially in folk songs.
                                Tabla- a pair of small drums used in Indian classical music.
                                          Manjira- a pair of small hand cymbals

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Superb in Taste this Caramel !

It is not easy to hum this song but i am humming it the entire day.  And when i am not humming then it is going inside my head the opening lines...Mreyte Ya Mreyte...and the rest follows as... hmm hmmm...
My Mirror, Oh My Mirror
Tell me who I am
You are me, and I am you, no matter how big you grow
to be and no matter how much you change
in my eyes you are still six, oh my mirror
I'm going to tell you my story
Tell me I am the fairest of them all
And the most sensual/ feminine of them all
Look and tell me what it is you see, oh my mirror
I'm going to tell you my story
Tell me why
My hair is not blonde
My hips are not small
And my lips are not full, oh my mirror
I will tell you my story
Tell me how
i can make it smaller
Or how to be beautiful in make -up
With my party dress, oh my mirror
Tell me who I am
You are me, and i am you, no matter how big you grow
to be and no matter how much you change
In my eyes you are still six, oh my mirror
Tell me who I am
Tell me who I am
Oh my mirror, oh my mirror, oh my mirror

The song has a sad overtone but don't know how or why it feels soothing. Maybe it's because " the sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts".

 i hum along going through each of the beautiful characters of the movie of which Mreyte Ya Myeyte is the soundtrack of. And i wonder what was so special about the movie that i am spell bound and sort of mesmerized.

Even now as i blog i see
Layale- hopelessly in love with a married man ready to drop everything at the honk of his car. i can understand her yearning to know the wife of her lover, doubting her own self and always wondering what exactly took away her lover to his wife every time . i can feel her obsession for that woman.
As a third party witnessing all this it is acceptable as i speak to her, '' Dump that sod! and silly girl why aren't you paying any heed to that handsome gentleman who even though issues a parking ticket excuses you each time because for him you are his "sunshine"?
Nisrine- Although eager and happy about her marriage is in constant fear of being discovered by her husband of her past indiscretions.
And i tell her, '' What rubbish can't you cook up a story about having met with an accident...while you were cycling...'' ?
Jamale- i am still intrigued by this wannabe actress who stages a fake menstrual cycle to remind herself that she is still young. This never say die woman who even suggests best for Nisrine.That the pigeon blood simulates human blood best and that just a few stitches and Nisrine would be as good as new.
'''s okay, you are beautiful still and when you can set things right for others how hard is it for you to accept the natural process of ageing?" i seem to be telling Jamale.
Rima- Always the only one in pants feels attracted to her lady client Siham and is besotted with her smile.
To dear Rima-Run!! Please! leave that country if you can and start your life elsewhere where you might not be incarcerated for your sexuality .
Rosie- i cry with this seamstress as she wipes her make-up sacrificing a promising relationship prioritizing her duty towards her elder sister who has lost her mind. i feel an intense respect for this woman who shelves her own desire bearing the pain but still nurturing intense affection towards her elder sister.
i cry and cry and want to hug Rosie. The only sound that escapes my heart is, Oh Rosie! Oh my dear Rosie !!
Lily-  Naughty Lily always seen collecting bits of paper from the road and stealing the parking tickets and when situation arose even creating a row with the cop if she had to. Her lost in time and still stuck to the sweet memories of  her lost love makes me fall in love with dementia. Provoked by her tantrums i am even more convinced that old age is nothing but childhood revisited.
i feel like chiding Lily as i would a child whose being stubborn in her tantrums- "Why do you do this? If you continue to behave badly Rosie will be forced to lock you up. Now be good and don't run around alone."

What was so special about the story which reverberates with affairs of everyday people dealing with their everyday problems?
Was it the intelligent handling of a non-intriguing, non-showy story about relationships?
Or perhaps the way the director has progressed giving an insight into the symbolism involved which makes it feel like you are not watching a film rather witnessing an artist paint a unique story using his masterstrokes.
And this painting where burnt sugar is used for symbolism is not at all like a crossword puzzle that one may find difficult to crack.You don't need the artist to explain his motive about the abstract form used.
Did it appeal to me so much only because it was a womans' story revolving around five beautiful characters Layale, Nisrine, Rima, Jamale and Rose? Although there was one more who enthralled me none the less. No it couldn't be because i waited also for the handsome police officer Youssef to emerge and provide me with the glimpse of the very conventional and traditional romance so rare these days.
Maybe it was the music too...sweet, melodious and haunting. Not only the title track but also the sad overtures that played in the background as issues were dealt with whether it was the Neat Wooing of a lady by a man, Terrifying Binding TraditionsSexuality that is not only Repressed but also Forbidden, The raging battle faced by us all sometime or the other namely Duty Vs Desire, The Pain that one is happily willing to undergo for the sake of beauty or last but not the very least the constant Endeavor of the woman in most of us to be in a constant state of Self Denial playing harmless tricks to convince ourselves that we are as good as 18.
Sure it was all this and even more. It was the poetry/painting that described/portrayed-
-the sweet and sour flavor which is LIFE
-the sticky relationships which do annoy us at times but we'd rather go through with it than escaping it.
-the pain which also brings forth happiness and fulfilment.
-the sisterhood that exits even in a salon where you don't feel one bit inhibited to express yourself honestly.
 and last but not the least the universality of human emotions.

Thus the song goes inside my head as i struggle with the pronunciations in Arabic and wanting to try caramel for myself.  i mean first making it with water, sugar and lemon juice and then tasting it, still hot.
Maybe even try epilation and see if it really hurts that bad.
Something else has happened too.                            
As of now Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt are out and it's going to be the so Omar Shariffly, hopelessly handsome Adel Karam.

Adel Karam
Reeling under the spell of the movie Caramel i am not annoyed for having missed it earlier but rather glad that i  
have seen one of the best movies at a time when there seems to be dry spell of a delightful ensemble drama everywhere...even in Hollywood!
To all who care i would suggest- please watch it in company only if you are certain that your choice will be truly appreciated and enjoyed. If not watch it alone and believe me you will not miss having any company. For this "...a colorful and sensual microcosm of Beirut where several generations come into contact, talk and confide in each other..." is not everyone's cup of tea.
It certainly wasn't my husband's as he slept peacefully throughout the entire movie and woke up only when the soundtrack played in the end and asked me with a smile, '' Finnisse?...chalo put on the news now."
i did not feel annoyed at him at all like i would have normally mainly for two reasons.
a) i was saved of his constant interruptions and restlessness and 
b) The revelation that the song did have something to wake this somnolent husband of mine.

The Song- Sound track of Lebanese Film Caramel

Mreyte, Ya Mreyte

Mreyte ya mreyte ra7 e7kilek e7kayte
2oulili ana min
Inti ana, w ana inti, mahma kberti w etghayarti
B3youni inti setteh ya mreyti
Ra7 e7kilek e7kayti
2oulili ino ana a7la wa7de fihon
An3am wa7de fihon
Shoufi 2ouli eli tshoufi 2ouli ya mreyti
Ra7 e7kilek e7kayti
2oulili ana leh
Sha3ri manno ash2ar
Khasre manno asghar
W tme manno akbar, ya mreyti
Ra7 e7kilek e7kayti
2oulili ana keef
Badda asgharra
Aw yt7alw el 7amra
Ma3 fos6an el sahra, ya mreyti
2oulili ana min
Inti ana, w ana inti, mahma kberti w etghayarti
B3youni inti setteh ya mreyti
2oulili ana min
2oulili ana min
Ya mreyti, ya mreyti, ya mreyti
Image Courtesy:

Monday, August 8, 2011


picture by photographer Robert Brown

Life Begins Everyday

Do not say everything would be so senseless.
See the lonely rose bud in the garden as it blossoms in the winter.
Inspite of all the frost, the cold, For it- life begins every day.
It develops slowly like the bud, opens carefully the delicate petals,
Ventures, and then shines strongly.
Remember, even in the time of devastation,
Life begins everyday.

He was observing me keenly. My Man Friday at home and his name is Babloo.
My ritual in the mornings must have puzzled him at first but since he's also a son of the soil, a farmer first, it was not very difficult for him to crack the code. Like a bird that goes round and round in it's cage he found me restless as i would peer downstairs oft an on and bombard him with many questions. Quite recently the number one question- if he knew the local name of the shrubs that have become my favorites from the seventh floor.

He would just nod his head in the negative and i would after telling him the English common names plead him to catch hold of the elusive gardener and fish out the local name.
Just the other day he did something that i don't approve of generally but his gesture sort of touched me. i had sent him on an errand to get me some guavas and when he came back he held out his hand and shyly presented me with a branch of the shrub, the Hindi name of which he was unable to elicit from the gardener.
 i have this thing for plucking anything live from the plant or a tree be it flowers or even leaves. It makes me feel that it was brutally murdered or dismembered and was denied it's right to live a full cycle of it's lifetime. Don't know why but i decided not to give him any flora or fauna preservation lecture this time and dismissed the teacher in me for later. i held the branch gently lest i should injure the very delicate, hairy but feathery blossom.Then placed it prim and proper in a bottle filled with water. The branch looked prettier still in that small but lush green bottle and we both admired the arrangement profusely.

Then  next day something wonderful happened. My husband and i were out for almost the entire time during the day and when we got back in the evening Babloo first served us water and set the water on the stove for tea but remembered to inform me to go and have a look at the branch in the bottle. i obliged and the rest is quite a story if not history. 
i know a cyber shot camera is not the kind of equipment for perfect pictures but i am no photographer either. Nevertheless i shall try to tell the entire story with the help of the pictures.

Even in the bottle, sustaining itself just on water the leaves had closed just like they would have when the branch was still a part of the shrub but the bud stood erect. No drooping of the stalks visible at all.

The next day i had to undergo some medical examinations that required me to be on fasting so we set out early. When we returned in the afternoon at around 12, i was just too hungry. Since it was a Saturday and Babloo knew the routine well,  he had prepared delicious Kitchdree and two bharthas one of  Aubergine and the other of Potato. Back home these bharthas are better known as Chokhas. We relished the Saturday lunch all complete with achaar, papad, dahi and ghee (just for the day) added into the Kitchdree as per our choice plus the super Bengali sweet for dessert. After lunch got over we headed towards the bedroom to take a nap. But Babloo seemed a bit restless and anxious and continued to wait upon me like he had something to say. He signaled me with his index finger, jerking his head in a particular direction to notice the branch.
i had not even given it a casual look since i had returned home from the Pathological lab, as hunger and tiredness had sort of turned me into a cow grabbing at this and that for munching. This overlooking on my part had perhaps made him anxious. i smiled hoping something nice and new. i turned to gaze at the index finger and head jerked signaled spot. i couldn't believe what i saw.
 Suddenly i felt a wave of irritation run into me as i felt cross with myself. How pathetically hungry and tired could i be to have ignored such a pretty and awesome sight.

The bigger of the bud had begun it's flowering process. Now the stalk that held it was also bending into a curve. i was overjoyed and absolutely felt no need to take a nap at all. While my husband withdrew to the bedroom for a quick snooze i waited for Babloo to finish his lunch and we talked about the plant. The farmer in him had observations to share. According to him if that branch was still a part of the shrub the bud might have flowered fully. The fact of the matter being that here in this pretty bottle all it could feed upon was just water and the other important nutrients were denied to it for it to mature fully. i nodded in affirmation and debated inwardly if this was the right time to let him know about my true feelings regarding forced plucking and uprooting. But once again some feeling stopped me.
 i thus preferred to listen to his childhood tales about another of the same family which he said is called Laajwanti. i knew instantly what he was referring to. The Touch Me Nots what else?
Later while Babloo went away for his nap i nurtured affectionate thoughts for him and felt glad to have him as my companion in this common interest. Also i wondered if the bud would blossom to it's full maturity in that bottle. i'll have to wait and watch. In any case i am awed by it's resilience. Trying it's best to survive against all odds and be at it's best even when denied of life sustaining resources. 

Right now i feel like indulging in a flashback. Although this was just two days back.

Both of us eyeing the burst of reds in the bushy canopy of what appeared to be a Khejri/Shami shrub earlier.
That is before it showed it's true color which happens now in this season.

After handing me the branch with that fully blossomed Powder Puff/Fairy Duster and a couple or so of the big buds and one teeny weeny globule,
Babloo then leaves it to me to decide where to put it. i hurriedly ransacked the kitchen cupboard for an empty bottle. Got the perfect size, filled it to the top with plain water and propped the beauty in the bottle. It stood elegant without much effort.
The initial decision was to place the beauty on the dining table where we had just finished a sumptuous meal all complete with fresh Rosogullas for dessert. 
Later looked around for an appropriate place where the beauty truly stands out without much obstructions or any cluttered diversions.
On my table above the book?... Nah ! Neyt! Nahiinn!!
At the center of the bed headboard? looks okay but...
This corner looks perfect! So this is it...nowhere but here.
It's pathetic that my skills with the camera couldn't capture my motive here.The shadow of the tiny fronds coupled with the luminous green of the bottle that fell on the blank corner walls. Must do something about my CTD syndrome (camera tackling deficiency).
It was impossible for me to sit now so down i flew hopping and jumping stairs as i had no patience to wait for the already engaged  by someone lift. Cared two hoots for my leukocrepe bandaged arthritic hand as i was painless from this moment on.
Guess what i could be doing downstairs in the mid afternoon on a weekend when everyone seemed to be submerged in an aftermath of slumberous lethargy after a good weekend holiday meal?
Actually this time i was rather too pleased with the people less pathways and lawns. 

Sure enough i was trying to capture as much as i could for soon the blossoming season would be over. i was wanting to see the same sight of a bud bursting into feathery but minute globular curly bumps like a red berry on the shrub. 
 i saw none of that on the shrub but just the tiny convoluted buds, some larger like the size of marbles and some smaller fluorescent green buds and plenty and plenty of red powder puffs/fairy dusters on all the shrubs that lined the periphery of the society lawn. Of course the plenty is more visible from my seventh floor as they strike one as rubies that are scattered randomly in a sea of lacy but profusely netted green.

It feels so great to notice the change happening live even if it not a continuous one like the ones we see in the National Geographic Channel. Maybe while we are sleeping before the break of dawn the buds on the shrubs open out like freshly undergone metamorphosis Powder Puffs/Fairy Dusters. Nevertheless it was spectacular for me to notice a multiple globule in fluorescent green in the morning turn into a multiple globule of Ruby red in the afternoon.
" When did that happen"?  i  had asked Babloo in all my excitement after he had signaled to me the change. His assumption was sometime between 10-11 forenoon although he could not be sure. He was busy in the kitchen preparing Kitchdree. Or  it could have happened even before, at the break of dawn and we had failed to notice it because of our preoccupations in the early hours of the morning. However he accepted that he too was tardy and noticed it only when he was laying the dining table mats.
So, what if we missed out on that miracle moment, i am pleased enough to see a natural occurrence even when the conditions were amateurishly but unwittingly controlled. 
The slow motion not only ignites my curiosity but also imparts me with wisdom.
It is in nature for life to go on and on and even in subsistence it is simply, breathtaking!!

-:Glossary of terms used:-
Khitchdree- a preparation of rice and lentils that looks like yellow porridge only thing is that unlike sweet porridge this one has salt. Considered to be a comfort food easy to digest. In Bihar my native place this preparation is generally made on Saturdays. It is customary to observe simplicity on Saturday and dedicate it to lord Shani ( Saturn- The Lord of Saturday) and thus prepare this comfort meal which is easy both on time taken for cooking and also on the bowel.
Bharatha/Chokha- a preperation of roasted mashed vegetables like aubergine, potato, mixed vegetables and even tomatoes. The roasted vegetables are mashed and seasoned with salt, onions, garlic, ginger, green chillies, coriander leaves and a dash of pure mustard oil. There are two preparations in this.One has all the seasonings raw but finely chopped while the other has chopped seasonings fried and then mixed with the roasted vegetables.Then together they are fried again with a dash of some basic spices like cumin powder, coriander powder, dry mango powder and chilli powder.
While the rest of the country calls it Bhurtha or Bharatha, the region of Bihar has a unique name for it -Chokha.
Achaar-pickles made from raw mangoes, lime or even mixed vegetables. However the one that goes best with Kitchdree is the mango pickle but then of course some could prefer lime pickle too.
Papad-Either deep fried or roasted crackers made of lentils, potatoes, sago etc.
Dahi- plain home made yoghurt.
Ghee- (heated and used to spread on Kitchdree) clarified butter.

As the saying goes- " Kitchdree ke hain paanch yaar Ghee, Bhartha, Dahi, Papad, Achaar". Translated this means that Kitchdree has five friends, Clarified butter, mash, yoghurt, crackers and pickles.
Rosogulla-the very famous spongy and delightful sweet originally from Bengal.
Nah, Neyt, Nahiinn- all mean the same- a big NO!!

i'll sign off just now as i hear the crows...maybe the dawn is soon to be...should go and catch up with the marble sized ruby globule and see if it has blossomed feathery. i shall not feel sad if it has not for i shall cherish only the best moments that i had with my baby Powder Puff  and for a change i would like to call it a Cherub Duster.

The link that shows the varieties and gives more information.