Festivals and Happiness

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.  (adapted Quote)

July 2012 and August, were disturbing months for the seven sisters of India.  Issues that took national importance virtually bringing a collapse in harmony of our culture.
Ethnic violence spread itself through messaging systems throughout the country.  Thousands of people left cities going back to their griefstriken homeland.  It was a festival for some traitors to humanity.
We blamed our neighbours. Neighbouring countries are always our reasons of ethnic issues.  In August 2012, still there are fresh memories of violence.

I saw a KSRTC bus conductor hit a passenger for arguing with him.  I went to the vegetable market to buy grocery for the onam lunch.  He was hitting like Salman in Ekk tha Tiger, poor guy was beaten up like Ekk tha Kutta(Kutta = Dog).  I had to keep my vegetables bag shielded from the blows and kicks.  Non of the fellow passengers reacted. Violence is spreading in our hearts. 

Pakistani man Kasab is still expecting some mercy from India.  He got special blessings from his mother.  His father was poor  living a life like any average pakistani.  His father might have told him about India during his childhood.  So he knows India is a beautiful country far far ahead than his own country.  If he were to blast a hotel in his own country  he would have a gun shot in return. In India he becomes a speciality.  Indian govt  has invested Rs 50 crores  on his trial.
   Today we all wait to see an Inidian Soldier hang the poverty striken dry fruits Pak man. 

By contrast, August  is also the beginning of many a celebrations in India.  A season just for happiness reason.  But there are more good Indians in India that makes our culture flourish beyond prosperity & happiness. 
Even the last good Indian will die but preserve this beauty of India.   He will win and celebrate the goodness of life.  He has no reasons to fail. 

There are many religious festivals during this time starting with Ramzan to Ganesh Chaturthi to the week long Diwali celebrations in October and ending with Christmas and the universal New Year‘s festivities when the air is thick from the smoke of fireworks.

Down south in the cozy corner is my own land, I call it God’s own. Truly it is. 
In Kerala this weekend all Malayalis worldwide like me, whether they be Hindus or Christians or Muslims would have wished each other a Happy Onam although Onam is a Hindu festival unique to the state.  People in cities go to hotels and book sadhyas.  Corporates book huge lunch parties for their staff.  In the villages, family gets together for a time in the year to celebrate Onam.  Onam is my favorite.

Tradition has it  that during Onam the good king Mahabali visits the homes of his people and so special feasts are prepared and a carpet of flowers laid out to receive him.  Today it is celebrated by one and all throughout the world. Who would not like to share in a delicious “Sadhya“?

I wish we all can find more such happy reasons to come together.

Malli  told Sudama , ” Once again, I felt like that little girl who walked into the classroom , after a long vacation, fearing if friends would welcome her back into their group , still share same level of closeness or feel some sort of discomfort:  to her surprise, she was delighted to notice that warm smile on her friend’s faces.”

That’s exactly what we experience, a  note of reassurance and support, while spending time through our best relations. Sudama exclaims,” I was elated, to say the least!  The knowledge that someone really kept caring  regulary for you and eagerly waited for any happiness from you”.
“What was that made them finally happy to see you, made me feel really happy.”

“What is happiness in today’s world?” 
“Making Social friends all aroud you to feel as if you are in a group of people”
“But to be social you need sound economic dimension. Social dimension is related to economic dimension. ”
“Economic dimension. What is that?”
A human is defined by lot of  factors.  One way of defining a human’s behavior is classified into several dimensions.
“Social dimension, Economic dimension, Mental dimension, Spiritual dimension, etc.. Economic dimension is the most important one.  Without it our social capabilities and mental dimension weakens.”

“Some people though are mentally very strong. ”
“Such people are free of internal conflict.  They have the ability to take decisions intelligently even in crisis.”
They discuss about a lot of things.

Its already time for Onam festivity.  Sudama and malli are celebrating Onam. They have a special guest this onam. Both of them love every moment of togetherness.

Thiruvathira Kali is a form of art in Kerala, ...
Thiruvathira Kali is a form of art in Kerala, especially during Onam seasons and Malayalam month Dhanu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For them  HAPPINESS IS NOT A STATE OF ACHIEVEMENT. Every festival is happiness.

“Thank you for letting me know that I was missed and for making me feel special .  As I sit here listening to the  crickets chirping outside and clock ticking fast way into midnight, my heart calls out to go for a quick visit  to the native and a quick get together; There we go and spend the greener memories of life…. ”

I remember my childhood. On those days when I celebrated Onam regularly (every year with my grandparents ), leap-frogging from one dish to another, following winding trails of faded memories, leading to another forgotten taste, my grandma who has been a strong follower of our tradition,   help my mother with the original names of many snacks as she was an expert in variety snacks.

I live by saying ,”It was as if   y’day i thought about those Onam’s…i was not aware that she was not there……..but I

remember one thing, she had taught me to make life a celebration…”

Onam has a speciality. The lunch in plantain leaf.  With an impressive list of  dishes it is one of the most beautiful feeling you get once in a year.  There can be anywhere between 13-25 dishes for Onam and this number can be higher.  The most common Onam Dishes are

Red Rice, Sambar, Avial, rasam, pulliserry, Thoran – Cabbage, Beans, Cabbage & Carrot, Kovakka, Inji curry, Puliyinji, Erissery,Kaalan,Olan,Kootu Curry,Theeyal,Pachadi  EthakkaPachadi, Vellarikka Pachadi, Pappadam,Achaar, Upperi,SharkaraVaratti,Pazham, varieties of Payasam – Semiya Payasam, Sharkkara Payasam, Aval Payasam, Pradhaman – Mambazha Pradhaman …

List goes on.. They were “something more with arippodi(rice powder) . You call it kali odakka ….but i dont remember if we made it on onams…anyway, lets see more ways  to stuff the Onam sadhya leaf.
i havent thought about  anything else in a while.

Last there was a cake making ecperiment. Making Cake using the pressure cooker. 
If you put a pinch of sodapodi(baking soda) to the cake dough, it becomes very soft. Yes, it has always been a great feast for  entire famiies during the christhmas time .
Well more on that later.

We love to serve when we have some impromptu guests.  I remember my mother packing snacks after school time with a hot glass of tea that was heights of tea-time pleasure for anybody!  Tea and parippu vada.

Malli recollected,” During her stay here, my mother made few delicious snack once to satisfy my pregnancy cravings.  To make perfect Uzhunnu vada was difficult at home. Though we used to make a similar one at home. She suggested putting a hole in the middle to add to its overall aesthetic appeal. ”
“Why do we put a hole in the vada? .”,I used to ask her.
“It is the chakravuh shape. It is related to puranas.”, her grnadmother will tell her.
 Putting a hole in the middle is more of a  technical reason, as it helps in cooking the dough evenly. 

“Parippu vada at the nair’s hotel was a treat to eat.  Having a parippu vada and sip a cup of hot tea. The next vada comes as soon as the first goes vanishing. ”

Every Indian snack is so tempting.  

Headline of the day : Wipro and the University of Massachusetts have jointly launched a 12-month fellowship programme in the US to train 120 school teachers in the next three years.

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Do you know me?

Sudama was sitting in a court. He says that lawyers should never ask grandmothers a question if they aren’t prepared for the answer. In a trial, a small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, an elderly grandmother to the witness stand.
He approached her and asked;
“Mrs.. Iyer, do you know me?”
She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Menon.

I’ve known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you’re a
big disappointment to me.
You lie, cheat on your wife, manipulate people and talk about them behind their
backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything
more than a two-bit paper pusher.
Yes, I know you.”

The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked,

“Mrs.. Sharma, do you know the defense attorney?”
She again replied, “Why, yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bhandari since he was a youngster.
He’s lazy, bigoted, and has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with
anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the state. Not to mention he cheated onhis wife with three different
One of them was your wife.

Yes I  know him.” The defense attorney almost died.

The judge asked both lawyers to approach the bench and in a quiet voice said:
“If either of you rascals asks her if she knows me, I’ll send you to the electric chair.”

A Birthday celebration – 7th August 2012

Why do people celebrate their birthday?   Is only a day in our Life important or shall we celebrate the event called life.

May be we dont celebrate because celebrations have become costly. 

In india, for a country , one tradition of birthday is janmashthami.  Janmashtami is more than just a special day. Celebrating the birthday of the divine Lord Sri Krishna , this is a major attraction in many parts of India.  This is projected in art, culture and daily life of India.

Outside India too,  birthdays are a huge fun making day.  Birthday celebrations are an ancient European tradition which evolved as attempts to fend off the evil spirits which people believed were attracted to a person celebrating their birthday. The act of giving gifts and well wishing follows this. 

At home in native, my mother went to a temple in the morning.  She performed pooja (offerings) for my well being.   All mothers are fond of their children.  Friends wished to make a note of the relations we maintain.  Some relations are for ever.  Some relations are for a reason.  When the reason is dead, the relation too dies.

Early in the morning at the midnight stroke I get messages.  My wife woke me up for the bday cake cut and the bday song. This year she is expecting. We were celebrating life. 

When all of our best moments get together Life is a celebration.

Ancient people might have celebrated their birthdays too.  Thousands of years ago birthdays were considered a time when the bad spirits as opposed to the good spirits were able to harm you as this day changed a person’s life. It was believed that the only way to keep the bad spirits at bay was to have your friends and family around you so that their good wishes and present giving would keep them at bay.  Wow what a beautiful thought.

So my wife and her friend (Justina) were busy looking for a birthday gift and a cake for the party. 

Justina is busy shopping. She is also searching for a sweater for her 3 month old kid. She  came to India from Abu Dhabi to see her parents. This was her first day of shopping in Bangalore, shopping in the commercial street.  Also called Shivaji Nagar.

In the narrow lane opposite Woody’s on Commercial St, next to Rasool Biryani hut, you’ll see a mannequin on the ground floor that leads to a store on the first floor. Great for disposable, but interesting clothes. Must bargain like crazy if you look like a foreigner!

I accompanied both of the friends. Though this time my wife called me to join her  to select a chair and table for our home. She is almost 3 months pregnant.

“What is Sree devi doing now a days?” .  A shop was  playing song from Lamhe. Both of them started discussing about Sreedevi and Anil Kapoor.

I am not a regular visitor to commercial street. But I love the street.  Last time it was one year back. The shop owners nearly sit out on the public road crying out to call  us when they see us. Once you are in a shop price quoted are three times. The shop keepers dont support haggling because with each bargain they ran out of their profits.
Suddenly a Chinese guy was running down the street being chased by a few local shopkeepers.  He was holding his T shirt and speeding away through the meandering street.  Some  guy shouted in the crowd. “I caught him.”

“Bring him here.  How can a chinese think of runnning faster than us. Indians are strong, we will always catch him.”, said an Old Shopkeeper.  
We went towards the shop to see what was happening. It was a TV shop.  Huge screens were showing chinese winning Gold medals.  Some news channels reported Indians poorly performing at the sports.   The guy was made to clean the shop and stair case using his shirt and water. The shop owner claims that he peed in one corner of the shop. Now he has to clean the full shop.  This is his punishment. Police was also called.
“Poor foreigner,  he might curse our Indian Olympics team. This time also Olympics no medals for Indians”, Sudama.
Sudama wondered Indian Olympics team was struggling to run and jump.  Some fowled before jumps. But the young localites are so smart.  They caught the chinese in no time.

May be the Chinese will win all the Gold in Olympics, stronger Indians will lose all medals trying hard.  Not even a single Gold medal in the medals’s tally but  we still have the largest collection of Gold in the world. 

Why then scores of Indians are flying to Dubai on a business opportunity during Ramzan?  Indians want to participate in the begging festival there and win Gold! 
Sudama asks, “Is it like Olympics?”
“Sort of”
“Indians need to be really good at begging to win any Gold now”

Begging Olympics 2012

A youth employed in a media organization in Dubai boasted that he made a cool 1,200 Dirhams (16,200) in a matter of ten minutes by seeking arms on the road a few days ago. (From a news item in a daily)