Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Keeping in line with diverse times

Indian Bloggers
I've been writing about travel a lot..  it is time to shift gears a little as i have been busy exploring multiple other things over the last couple of months.

Artificial Jewelry is one of them!



It is quite in vogue these days.

Most of my acquaintances and the young girls i see in church and metros wear these cute colourful accessories to match.

Some have huge dangling little antique metal earrings with colorful beads at the end or colourful beaded long chains to go with their costumes.

I think it brings in huge sense of variety.  My generation used to feel satisfied and happy with a simple gold chain around the neck or a matching gold and diamond studded earring.

But fashion has taken on a different meaning.  Color, size and diversity rules.



Different kind of material like artifcial metals, antique silver, brass, wood, paper and other stuff can be made to look enchanting on your persona.

I have created some handmade jewellery and put it up on a website - do checkout the link www.ehsaazfashions.com.


I have included pieces made from simple beads to semi-precious stones.   Articles made with artificial metals and antique metals are also available.





I think my hobby is turning into a serious business model now!  

In case there is anyone out there who feels interested in knowing more about these or ordering for their personal use, do send me an email at mary@gmail.com.  :)


Friday, February 3, 2017

The Onset of Spring in Delhi

Indian Bloggers 

February is a beautiful month to be in Delhi when winter starts retreating and the spring season is set to emerge in full splendor.  

The indications of a full bloom is everywhere - parks, gardens, busy traffic roundabouts, homes, etc..
Small bushes with budding flowers are waiting to bloom forth in full glory!

It is definitely a season to be out in the open enjoying and experiencing these new beginnings.   It is a sight to behold as the buds are impatient to gush out of their cocoon and show off their beautiful shapes, shades and colors that God has beautifully conferred upon them.



Basant Panchami which initiates the spring festive cycle was celebrated on 1st February.  It literally means fifth day of spring (Basant – spring, Panchami – fifth).   The other festival that people await very eagerly in Delhi to celebrate the spring season is Holi.  It falls right in the middle of the spring season in the first week of March (March 13 this year!) and people eagerly await this festival to play out the different colours to match the natural background.

Some worship Goddess Saraswati on this day.  In ancient Indian literature, this festival is associated with Shringara Rasam which is associated with love, beauty and attraction.   People honor Kamadeva with his wife Rati and his friend Vasant on this day in some parts of the country.

People wear yellow dresses and display or wear yellow flowers to mark this spring festival.  Yellow mustard flowers bloom across the Punjab belt of North India and is a beautiful sight.







Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Earth Connection

Indian Bloggers 


Man is made of dust and to dust he returns.  We, human beings are so intimately connected to everything that is about this earth, the soil and the dust but in our utopia of cleanliness and neatness, we make all efforts to keep our pretension of removing them from our life day in an day out without realizing that they are woven into our very fabric of life.  Whether it is the food we eat or the vessels in which we eat!!

Earthern vessels were a part of our daily life till some years ago.  It has taken a backseat with all the wispy, feathery plastic and glass vessels taking its place in our kitchens and the showcases.   But the taste, the aroma and the healthy aspects of earthern pot is still intact.    It is rare to see people making and selling these pots now.

It was only a couple of decades ago, we used to store water in these earthern vessels called `Ghada’ in Hindi.   In the golden days that were when people used to care about their fellow human beings,  big Ghadas filled with water used to be kept outside big buildings and roadsides for quenching the thirst of passersby and the pedestrians.   Commercialization has taken over this simple act of charity and converted this tradition to selling bottled water in its place.



There were earthern pots to suit different needs.   There were pots in which we could cook vegetables and rice.    These were used to set our curd and there was no need to hang the curd as all the water would ooze out automatically through the pores of these vessels and one could have a tasty, pure and healthy curd, thick in texture. These pots would also be used to churn out butter using wooden ladles.

Even tea was served in small glasses made from clay called “kulhad” in Hindi.   These were made compulsory in Railway Stations some years ago to reduce the usage of plastic disposable glasses.  However, it has become a rare sight.

There were other items too, like the little money pots, flower pots, clay diyas widely used around Diwali festival, craft items like elephants, idols of god and other little animals. 






The Morning Trail


It is very foggy and very cold early in the morning in Delhi these early February days.   One would like to cuddle and go back to sleep deep within the folds of the warm and cozy blanket to the mindless oblivion and dream about another surreal world far away.  But if you put aside all those temptations and step out into the dawn of a beautiful day daring the cold wind hitting your face, you can be witness to some beautiful and real sights that you might just miss otherwise apart from all the health benefits that comes along with a morning walk.



So, with this determination of watching the sunrays falling like golden beams on the earth piercing through the folds of the leaves in the trees like some burning bush, watching the birds welcome the new day with cheery chirrups and pigeons and parrots coming to feast on the grains spread by some morning walkers that I put on my warm and cozy jacket to bare the cold winter outside.





The sights are beautiful to behold and promises a great day ahead.  It also brings a sense of  hope and peace that surpasses all the knots and the tussles of the mind.  It is a wonderful way to prepare ourselves for the rest of the day, thinking and reminiscing about the wonderful way in which God created the earth and sustains it every day!



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The enigma called Jantar Mantar

Misra Yantra

Surrounded by huge and towering buildings, this set of architectural structures stand for some long forgotten magical spell as the name suggests!!

Jantar Mantar is the oldest of a set of  unique observatories built by Jai Singh II around 1724.  There are mantras and yantras that Jai Singh created amidst these structures that give accurate tables for study of time and space to give astronomical insights.  

The Misra Yantra is believed to be constructed by Maharaj Madho Singh designed to be accurately measuring the longitude of celestial objects like moon and can measure close to the minute of an arc.

One of the main structures is the Samrat Yantra  which is also called as 'King of Instruments' that measures solar time or local time of a place and the sun's declination.

  


The Jaiprakash Yantra (means Light of Jai) is named after the Maharaja Jai Singh who invented and constructed this hemispherical sundial system used both in day and night observations.  The position of the sun was indicated by the shadow of the cross wires inside this hemisphere.    





It has always been an enigma to me.  I have tried to understand the way these things work, but haven't got a clue looking at the structures though!!

A video on how the sun moves across different time spheres is given at  http://www.jantarmantar.org/





For other tourist attractions in Delhi, visit my blogs on Zafar Mahal,  Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb, Safdarjung's Tomb, Lodhi Gardens,  Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, Lotus Temple

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Connaught Place - The shopping paradise for the rich and wealthy



With all the big brands showrooms occupying the prime space in connaught place, the market is designed for those who are looking for premium products and ambience.   Set in the old buildings built during the British era, refurbished and renovated to suit modern tastes and choices, this place is busy as well as quiet with an old world charm around it.

This place is still called by its old name inspite of being renamed as Rajiv Chowk and Indira Chowk.  It has been one of my favourite haunts and I could roam around alone along the corridors and collonades of this beautiful shopping paradise for hours without getting bored.   There is always a passive humdrum of people around.   When I don't want to buy anything, it gives me the simple pleasure of looking around and do a bit of window shopping.   There are a variety of things that one could buy outisde of these showrooms too.  Small shops with Indian handicraft items, books, posters with beautiful quotes, little trinkets are all sold along the paths.

Most of these buildings have been built by the Britishers but there are some little buildings from the Mughal and the Indian Rajas also around.   The big roundabout of the Connaught Place covers a circle of multiple layers of buildings.  There is an outer circle, middle circle and inner circle of buildings.  Apart from the showrooms, these buildings houses offices and corporate houses of different organizations.  There are banks, restaurants, panwalla's, coffee shops, travel agents, etc.






The offices and business houses around this place ensures a regular flow of people into this area from all around Delhi.

It is also the central part of Delhi and all roads from every direction in Delhi come and converge at this point.  In the centre of these circles is a huge round park which has recently undergone a huge makeshift from the park I knew of some 10-15 years ago.   The Rajiv Chowk Metro Station and Palika Bazaar lie below this park.



This park now has a huge big Indian Flag with a small amphitheatre built-in the centre.  People from all around come to take a little break and relax in the sun during winter days.




On Sundays too, when the market is closed there are people in huge numbers occupying this place.

This has turned out to be more than a shopping place - a tourist attraction, picnic spot and a place where one can just spend sometime with the loved ones!!




For other tourist attractions in Delhi, visit my blogs on Zafar Mahal,  Qutub MinarHumayun's Tomb, Safdarjung's TombLodhi Gardens,  Jama MasjidChandni ChowkLotus Temple

Friday, January 20, 2017

The long forgotten Indian Post Box



I don't know how many still use this, but these letter boxes stand firm in their place with a pride that still sticks to them reminding us of their glorious past and making us feel guilty of our negligence towards them these days.

There was a time when we frequented and extended our hands to them quite often, with different emotions each time! Sometimes it would be with letters written to our parents, our friends, our spouse or loved ones or it could be some official letters, like job applications or complaints that we were seeking redressal for.

We would look at them longingly as if they could give us answers to the questions we have just posed in the letters that we have written and just dropped into them.   It would take days and months before we would get a reply to our letters but our innermost desire would be to get an instant reply.

With telephone and mobiles now, instant reply is possible and we finish our conversation in seconds and minutes. Email makes it possible for us to pour out our emotions without any constraints on the no. of pages or no. of words yet our emails have become the shortest, probably not even crossing a paragraph.  Probably it was just the fact that it would take ages for us to receive a reply and then write to our loved ones again, that we would want to fill out pages and pages with sweet nothings and all the daily humdrums of our life.

The Indian Post Office though has adapted itself quickly with changing times.  There are still people in our villages where the computers and the telecom biggies have not reached and rely on these post offices to convey their messages.   The Post office now acts like a local bank, investment partner, insurance company, courier and logistics company, etc.  Even though there are less personnel and staff to manage, they are still going strong with their policies and innovative ideas to beat the changing winds and times.  The e-commerce platform have started using them as logistics partners to take their products to places where they know no one else can reach!!!






The Parantha (The Indian Stuffed bread) trail


During winters in Delhi, stuffed parantha's of all kinds are the favourite item in breakfast, lunch or dinner menus.

It is dipped in oil (kind of shallow fried if it has to be tasty) and is fattening, yet the yummy and melt-in-the-mouth feel cannot resist even the hardcore health enthusiasts!   And if it is hot, right from the tawa, one can sit and gobble up without keeping a count.

Stuffed parantha's are part of Punjabi cuisine.   Add a scoop of butter and hung curd as a side dish with a little achar (pickle), and you are set for the rest of the day!!

We, South Indians, have taken sometime adapting to this, but now can't live without.  So, today morning, this was the breakfast at home. Kids love it, parents love it and my husband (who generally skips breakfast) would be ready for breakfast when the flavour wafts out of the kitchen.

We once went all the way to Murthal (in Haryana) from Delhi, simply to have the stuffed parantha's that the roadside dhaba's there are famous for!!

There are different kinds of stuffings we can have
- Gobhi Parantha is a stuffing of  shredded cauliflower cooked with spices,
- Aloo Parantha is the stuffing of boiled potatoes prepared with spices,
- Paneer Parantha is made with shredded paneer (Indian cottage cheese)

These are some of the major ones, but if you go to the famous Paranthe Wali Gali of Chandni Chowk or the highway dhaba's, you will find many many more combinations.

Preparation of these are quite simple.   We make the stuffings separately (not giving the complete method here..  sure you can find a lot of sites giving out detailed method of preparation) and then stuff these into the small balls of atta that we take before we flatten it out.    There will be some bit of stuffings that will kind of pop out of the atta, but that's fine as long as it is contained in the flattened piece.   Then it is shallow fried on the tawa.  The health conscious can use a healthier version of oil or less oil, if it satisfies them.



So, if you are visiting Delhi or any North Indian destinations in the winters, the Indian stuffed parantha should definitely be a must try item in the agenda!!!

Sarojini Nagar Market of Delhi



Sarojini Nagar Market is the all-weather all-season market that caters to the needs of the entire South Delhi.   If there is one market that can satisfy Delhiwala’s appetite for shopping, it is this market.



Sometimes I have a feeling that people come here with the sole intention of testing out their negotiation and bargaining skills.   I used to hate bargaining and would simply feel quite magnanimous in handing over the price the vendors asked for.   But some of my visits with my husband, a hardcore bargainer have made me realize that the vendors kind of look down upon people who do not negotiate because as the norm goes, they hike up the price by atleast twice or thrice the original price so that they would still be left with some margin when the deal is finally done.

 However, there are fixed price outlets and wares where you can select garments in the same range starting from Rs. 100, 150, 200, 250, etc..



I have been visiting this market from the time I got married about 20 years ago and came to settle down in the south side of Delhi.   From then onwards, if I have anything to buy from children's clothes to shoes, bags, undergarments, hosiery items, bed sheets, covers or even curtains, etc., I head to this haven.   There are even shops for buying vegetables, grocery items, household items and kitchen utensils in case you need such items.



Babu Market is another complex that lies in the same vicinity and has approximately 4 rows of shops that again caters to mostly garments with some jewellery shops and accessories and all women’s stores thrown in.


All said and done, this market offers decent products at affordable rates.   You can find things you would not find anywhere else - children's fancy dresses for their school competition, from paalak to a fairy, these shops can change their personality.  They can even loan you these dresses for a day or two!  What else would you need.


A word of caution though - On Sundays, only those who have some really good patience, focus and crowd management skills should attempt to attack this market.   On Saturdays and Sundays, this market can be so crowded that you just need to stand at one place, the crowd will pull you to all directions.   



Recently there has been an addition of a multi-storied parking plaza which has turned out to be semi-modern building in the vicinity with Haldiram’s and other food joints like McD and Subway catering to the hungry public!


To know more about other markets in Delhi, visit my blog on Delhi Haat and Nehru Place.

For other tourist attractions in Delhi, visit my blogs on Zafar Mahal,  Qutub MinarHumayun's Tomb, Safdarjung's TombLodhi Gardens,  Jama MasjidChandni ChowkLotus Temple

Monday, January 16, 2017

Lohri - The Winter Festival of Delhi


If there is one festival in the thick of winter that people in Delhi look forward to, it is Lohri.  It is a time for people to come together in the evening and create an atmosphere of bonfire and bonhomie!

Even in a busy city like Delhi, people make an effort to gather wood from all around to make a fire in the evening - sometimes in their lawns, parks or even roads. In the evening, people gather around it and enjoy the crackling fire, eating rewris, peanuts and chikkis. Some sing songs and dance around the bonfire creating an atmosphere of mirth and celebration.

Why do people celebrate Lohri? Good question. Not many might be able to answer. There are cultural and seasonal twists to the origins of this warm festival.

One of the stories behind this festival is that this festival is celebrated in remembrance of Dulla Bhatti, the Indian version of Robin Hood who saved a girl and adopted her as his daughter. Children in some parts of North India sing his songs on this day. But why celebrate Dulla Bhatti on Lohri is a question that doesn't quite have an authentic answer till now. "Why not" could be a very well put riposte to the question "Why?"

However, in Punjab where this festival is celebrated in its full glory and excitement, it is said to be a harvest festival. People take a breather from their farming as the rabi crop has been harvested and spend time to sit together and enjoy. Brightly attired young men, women and children dance to the drum beats, the famous Bhangra dance of Punjab!

The seasonal twist to this festival comes from the fact that in its early avatar, the festival was celebrated on the eve of the winter solstice, which essentially came around December 22-23. However, over a long period of time it shifted to the end of the month in the Bikrami calendar when the winter solstice occurred. The origin of the association of the sesame seeds with the festival also is in conjunction with this belief that after the festival, the nights would gradually becomes shorter by the "grain of one sesame seed." Yes, that is a tough one to decipher, but then, aren't most folklore :-D

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review - The 3 mistakes of my life



Book Review


The 3 mistakes of my life - Third book of Chetan Bhagat.  

What I liked most was the fact that Chetan Bhagat has narrated the story in a way that almost looks like an auto-biography with the author himself getting involved in the story.  This style definitely increases the credibility of the story.   

The story revolves around 3 boys who are good friends and their all-encompassing passion with the national hobby – cricket.  They recognize a great talent in a small boy who has the potential to become a national hero.  It is now their common desire to help and protect this young kid to help achieve this goal. 

Based in Ahmedabad and set in the background of Godhra Violence, this story depicts the way emotions and allegiances change in turbulent and violent times.  How people go mad with religious sentiments to shed lives that they have never thought of before.   It brings the worst out of humanity with people killing their own !!

A tale of continuous struggles of these young and budding entrepreneurs and cricketers from a small town and meagre means who have talent to make it big.  Mix it with a little emotional tangle and love, caste and religious differences which pop up even amongst close friends who would have otherwise laid down their life for each other.  

Overall a very easy read, written in simple language so everyone can understand with the usual masala’s to make an Indian reader tick. 


Rating : 3/5  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Feeding the Feathered Friends



I think i've missed this spectacle at this intersection earlier in my commutes but recently when I was crossing this place I saw a huge flock of pigeons flying around.

In a tiny little triangular land wedged on the end of Malak Ram Issar Marg between the busy traffic square of Pamposh Enclave and Chittaranjan Park also called as C R Park, I saw hundreds of pigeons gathered and flocking around people feeding them.

There were 2 or 3 sellers sitting at each corners of this triangular median with grains for people to buy and feed these birds.

It was delightful to see so many pigeons gathering up and scampering towards the people who were throwing out corns and other grains at them.  They looked quite content and peaceful.

video


It was a pleasant sight and nice to see people feeding birds but there are very differing views on bird feeding.  Some people do these out of religious sentiments and some for their emotional and spiritual gratification.  It is supposed to bring good luck and success according to some religious and astrological views.

However, environmentalists and ecologists are of the opinion that this is harmful to the natural eco system and only promotes the birds to lose their natural instinct to prey and survive.  The population of pigeons in the city therefore increases to a larger proportion than it ought to be.  Since they are fed on only grains day in and day out, they lose on important nutrition from other sources that are very essential for their survival.