Jay Utsav - A Treat For Eyes

April 28, 2011
Delhi is truly a hub of culture.  And being a restless soul, I look for such events like art exhibitions or something to do with history, because all these lift me.  I feel very rejuvenated after visiting such a place.  Recently, an acquaintance asked me as to how to deal with loneliness or depression?  I told her to connect with art, history, science, or nature.  You don't have to be a real arty person to appreciate a painting or an idol, you just have to try to see what the creator might have felt creating this piece.  Any form of art connects us with the artist, the creator.

I got an opportunity to visit Jay Utsav, Celebrating Living Traditions of Mahabharata, at IGNCA New Delhi a few months back.  Actually, I missed the food court (Bheem Ki Rasoi), the Art and Craft bazaar, as I reached there one day late! But still the exhibition was on.

Have you ever seen a tree, decorated this way? I had never seen it! The sacred thread (Mouli) tied so symmetrically around the trunk and branches of a huge tree make it look so pious, isn't?!

And while, I was clicking the tree, I spotted the nest of weaver bird (I think so)

This is the place where the food court and  craft bazaar was there. I loved this sculpture!

It was spring time, so lovely flowers welcomed us!

A little glimpse of the exhibition. An exhibition on the theme of Mahabharata. In the pic, you can see Bheema tearing Jarasandh into two parts, during the war. (Thanks Bookworm for correcting me)

The exhibition was a RIOT of colours!!!!

To be contd....


Ancient Monuments Of India - Snaps

April 27, 2011
In the series of posts, covering the various facets of the photography of the legendary photographer of the British times, Raja Deen Dayal, I am posting a few pictures of monuments.  All the credit of the pics is to IGNCA, the organisation which showcased the exhibition of these old pictures.Also see this and this too.

"With in-born love for his country Raja Deen Dayal travelled extensively. He toured the country by rail and bullock-cart, taking along mounds of photographic paraphernalia from stacks of heavy glass-plates to bulky cameras. Academic training in draughtsmanship and his own painterly vision enabled him to bring out amazing depths, details and breath-taking widths with large uniform areas of sharpness and highly accentuated perspectives.
He photographed ancient monuments, archaeological sites, places of worship, forts, palaces and their interiors, townscapes, forests and rivers, leaving behind vital historical and cultural documentation."  IGNCA

I wish, I had captured the write up about these wonder photographs, then I would have been in a position to tell something about the places.... It seems I was so mesmerised that I didn't think about it at that time! Only the last pic shows "Street view of Hyderabad".



I Got Disqus!

April 21, 2011
I was thinking to change the commenting form of my blog. Finally, I have installed Disqus commenting form.  Through this post I want to share how I did it. 

It's very simple if you have a normal blogger template.  You just have to go to Disqus, create an account and install the code, which will automatically be added to your blogger HTML template.  But, since I had used a template which was not of Blogger, I could not install it automatically.  For this purpose, if you have knowledge about HTML code, then you can simply use the "Universal Code" of Discus and place it at appropriate place.  But, in case you don't have much knowledge about HTML ( like me), then you can first take a back-up of your current HTML of blogger template in your PC hard drive and revert to the default template of Blogger. Now, go to Disqus and install the commenting form.  Later on, you can use your favourite template (non Blogger one).

After disqus is installed, it shows the comments as "0" !! This can shock you!! Don't worry, you can import all the comments and then choose to synchronize all the future comments by doing some settings in Disqus.

Now, the funny part was that I was looking for my dear blogger Pal's comments in my blogger dashboard!!! While the comments were getting stored on Disqus Dashboard!!!! psst! I didn't know that!!

I like this commenting form, as I can quickly reply to comments without shuffling through all the posts on my blog.  Also, it helps bring out a logical discussion, as I can reply on the relevant comment at the appropriate place.

Since, I encourage healthy and open discussions on various topics ( I really like it, when you write for me!) using a commenting form like this is very beneficial.

I have heard that Disqus takes a lot of time to load?? Are you also feeling the same??

Do let me know what you think about it? and about the look of the blog.

I would look forward to your suggestions :)


Portraits Of Women - Of Elegance & Beauty

April 20, 2011
Raja Deen Dayal, the legendary photographer of the British era, whose work was showcased in an exhibition at IGNCA New Delhi, specialized in portraits. 

Recently, I visited National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.  I was amazed to see the collection there, it truly shows how the ways and mediums of art, especially paintings, changed over a period of time starting from pre-independence era to the current times.  Will try to write and put some pictures  too.

But, the point i wanted to make was that even there I read about the special mention about Raja Deen Dayal.  The info over there read that he was one of the most famous photographers who worked with British Govt and Indian Govt too.  Also, that he specialized in portraits.  So, I thought of posting the various portraits of women, I had captured in the exhibition at IGNCA.  Due credit of the pictures to the curators of IGNCA.

A British woman.  See the matching umbrella and the hat kept on one side. 
The portraits of a Nautch girl.  See the saree worn by such a young girl.

Does it not remind you of the himachali dress people used to wear and pose when visiting any place in HImachal Pradesh of India??!
There is something about this picture, which you cannot miss.  The serenity... and the beauty 

See the attire of the girl... and her inability to 'pose' in some way or the other.  But she looks very pretty.

I specially liked this picture.  She looks like an Indian princess.  The way the saree is worn, the jewellery etc makes her look very very elegant and in authority!  See the placement of the side stool, with a table cloth and some books kept casually over it!  Was it to show that the lady was well read?


Nuclear Radiation - How To Minimise The Effect

April 18, 2011
(This post is in the series of posts about Disaster Management.  I wrote about preparedness for Earthquake earlier in another post. In this post, let's talk about nuclear radiation - what is it and how can we minimise its effect, in case we have the threat to get exposed to it.)

Who does not know about the Fukushima Nuclear Plant of Japan, and the hardships the people are facing there due to fear of radiation in food and water of their city?

It's time we know about Nuclear radiation and what can we do to minimise the effect and safeguard ourselves in case of a nuclear radiation.

image from ibnlive.in.com

What is radiation?

Radiation is any form of energy propagated as rays, waves or energetic particles that travel through the air or a material medium.  Radioactive materials are composed of atoms that are unstable.  An unstable atom gives off its excess energy until it becomes stable.  The energy emitted is radiation.  the process by which an atom changes from an unstable state to a more stable state by emitting radiation is called "radioactive decay" or "radioactivity".

Are we receiving some radiation naturally too?

Yes, we do get exposed to some natural or background radiation exposure each day from the sun, radioactive elements in the soil and rocks, household appliances (like TV sets and microwave ovens), and medical and dental x-rays.  Even the human body itself emits radiation.  These levels of natural radiation is normal.  The average person receives 360 millirems of radiation each year, 300 from natural sources and 60 from man-made activities (A rem is a unit of radiation exposure)

What are the precautionary measures to safeguard from accidental nuclear radiation ?

If you are residing in an area close to a nuclear plant, then you should be regularly informed about the educational information on radiation and evacuation plan etc.  (I could not search about the safe distance of residence from a nuclear plant, as prescribed by authorities.  If you find it, pl add in the comment)

The three factors that minimise radiation exposure to your body are :

Time - Most radio activities lose its strength fairly quickly.  Limiting the time spent near the source of radiation reduces the amount of radiation exposure.

Distance - the longer the distance between you and the source of the radiation, you will receive less radiation.

Shielding - Like distance, the more heavy, dense material between you and the source of the radiation, the better.

A nuclear plant

How can we protect ourselves from nuclear radiation and attacks?

- Common indicators of radioactivity are nausea, dizziness, vomiting and disorientation, with no odour but a wave of heat.  A nuclear explosion is followed by a 'blast' like a mushroom cloud.  Don't panic in the event of a nuclear attack or accident.

- Don't look at the fire blast as it can cause instant blindness.

- Close all doors and windows, and stay indoors till further communication from the Government.  Radioactivity does not penetrate solid structures, though fire may cause damage to building.  It's even better to basement or underground area.

- Cover all food and water.  Don't consume water, milk, food obtained following a nuclear blast.

- If coming from outdoors - take shower and change clothing and shoes.  Put worn items outdoors in a plastic bag and seal it.

Why does the thyroid gland need special protection after a release of radioactive material?

The thyroid gland located in the neck produces thyroid hormones which help the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working normally.

The thyroid gland is vulnerable to the uptake or radioactive iodine. The thyroid gland needs iodine to produce the hormones that regulate the body's energy and metabolism. The thyroid absorbs available iodine from the bloodstream. The thyroid gland cannot distinguish between stable (regular) iodine and radioactive iodine and will absorb whatever it can.

In babies and children, the thyroid gland is one of the most radiation- sensitive parts of the body. Most nuclear accidents release radioactive iodine into the atmosphere which then can be absorbed into the body. When thyroid cells absorb too much radioactive iodine, it can cause thyroid cancer to develop several years after the exposure. Babies and young children are at highest risk. The risk is much lower for people over age 40.

Stay Aware - Stay Safe


The Lady Bird - A Snap

I spotted a lady bird in a garden once.  It's such a rare sight these days. Couldn't help clicking her !


The muFFin Generation!

April 15, 2011
There is a definite visible change in the body structure of urban Indians, especially youngsters, that makes me write this.  I don't want to offend anyone. But, surely want to draw attention to that increasing width of waist, which manages to protrude out of T-shirts, tops and Kurtas alike.

The muffin and the muffin top

I'm talking about the accumulation of fat around the waist, specially visible on both sides of the  waist, seen from the front.  The body ie torso then looks like an inverted muffin. 

Our body stores fats, which is a normal thing, as it has to prepare itself for exigency conditions when we can be deprived of food and hence works as a store house for emergency.  Now, where do we store the fat in our body depends on many factors, and I've read that it's mostly our genes which decide whether we'll have that thick neck and well padded shoulders, or heavy thighs or bottom or well rounded arms (seen in women) or it would be the waist area.

Life style also plays an important role in deciding where we put on that fat.  Needless to say, we are a lazy generation, button generation, couch potatoes - earlier glued to TVs and now stuck to PCs and gadgets.  We love our fast food like God.  I feel very surprised when I see young people grabbing a pack of potato chips and a soft drink when hungry, my children being no exception.  It's so fashionable to be hanging out at a popular fast food joint and ordering junk food.  (I too like it very much, but I know when to treat myself and when to stick to home cooked simple food).

So, the final line is that due to such factors, a whole generation ( the urban, i mean) has a strange body type, which is not at all flattering.  Add to it the beer guzzling habits, most young boys have a beer belly.  Now, if you observe the bodies of men and women now, you'll find that since all the fat is going to the waist line and tummy area, the bum is shrinking... and that can be a party pooper!! Girls wearing a Saree without a well balanced figure (read bulged tummy, thick waist, and no bottom) can be devastating.  The same happens with both guys and girls when they are in western dresses.

The muffin top must have got its name due to this body shape!

The changed life style has affected the hormones too.  Now the age of puberty for girls has gone down.  Girls are attaining puberty at the age of 8-9, due to various environmental factors and obesity.  And this shift has come in last 15 years or so.

Don't want to give you a "hamare zamane me moment" (!!!) but, since girls were expected to work at home assisting the mother and junk food was not at all prevalent, girls were very lean and slim till the time they were married.  But thanks to the myths related to pregnancy, they would collect fats all over their bodies during child bearing and rearing age.

So guys, think about it. Have junk food but remember that should only be meant to reward yourself, pleasure yourself or for celebration time.  For rest of the times having light and nutritious food is the best bet. 

If you love yourself, feed yourself well.  Eat food for your tummy and not your tongue!


Kanya Pujan -A View On The Hindu Ritual of Virginity and Divinity

April 13, 2011
With each passing year I'm finding Kanya Pujan (or Kanjak) meaningless.  With each passing year, I'm getting more and more disinterested in this Hindu ritual, when on a given day, we have to worship small virgin girls.  And this year, for the first time, I was vocal about my thoughts to my family.

In the following paras, I have elaborated about the ritual, the legend behind it, and its religious importance.  If you already know it, you can jump to Changing times and Kanya Pujan (below)

What is Kanya Pujan?  

Hindus observe Navratras (meaning nine holy nights) and during these days they worship Goddess Durga.  On each day one of the nine dimensions of the Goddess are worshipped.  On the eighth and ninth day,  virgin girls till the age of puberty and the one's who have not attained puberty, are worshipped.  This ritual is called Kanya Pujan (meaning worshipping the girl). 

Goddess Durga
The Legend of Kanya Puja -

As per the Hindu scriptures, Kumari Puja is observed to rememorize the demolition of the demon Kalasura by the Goddess Maha Kali. Legend tells that the demon Kolasura occupied the heavens and the earth. All Gods were helpless and tired with the bad actions of Kolasura. They approached Goddess Mahakali for help. The goddess was born again as Goddess Durga Devi and demolished Kolasura. Devotees perform dances and special aartis during the celebration of Kumari Pooja.

Why a virgin girl (who has not attained puberty) is worshipped?

Hinduism believes in the universal creative forces to be feminine gender. The very original force is Mahamaya whose inspiration created the gods and the rest of the cosmos. The inspiration is the life force of the entire creation. All the major and minor energies and forces are represented by various goddesses. Thus, a virgin girl is the symbol of the pure basic creative force according to this philosophy.

Girls worshipped and fed as Kanjaks
In a kanya (virgin girl)  the great feminine potential is at its peak. Having developed into a girl of a certain age and before attaining puberty, a female child is considered the most auspicious, the most clear minded and clear souled individual.

While invoking the parashakti in such a form the purity of mind body and spirits is required and is fulfilled by a girl child of the said age of 8+ before reaching puberty. Such a female child is indeed Devi, who in her later life takes the roles of Parvati as a wife and mother, Lakshmi as a housewife, Saraswati as the first guru of her children, Durga as the destroyer of all obstacles for her family, Annapurna as the food provider through her cooking, Kali as the punisher to bring the members of the family on the right track, so on and so forth...

Where all in India is it observed? What's the ritual?

Some of the regions in India that observe Kanjak Ashtami are Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

Ritual - 5 or 7 or 11 small girls from the neighbourhood are invited at home.  The lady of the house performs the ritual with the help of other people in the family.  The feet of girls (referred as Kanjaks) are washed with milk and water, vermilion tilak is applied on the forehead, Mouli (the holy thread) is tied on their wrist.  They are offered delicious food, traditionally - Poori, Halwa and Chana, and some gifts and money.  Lastly, the couple touches the feet of the Kanjaks and take their blessings.

In eastern states like Bengal , Assam , Orissa and parts of Bihar the ritual is a bit different . Ritual - A single girl is chosen from Brahmin caste with auspicious signs and pleasant looks to be decorated as a goddess . Then she is brought to the place where worship of Devi has already been going on and the rituals are then conducted on her . She is offered all the sixteen items of worships and showered with lavish gifts to please her , like chocolates , dresses , jewellery , toys , cosmetics etc .

Changing times and Kanya Pujan -

First of all, due to skewed sex ratio in most the northern Indian States or I don't know for what reason, finding young girls in many localities is a difficult thing.  Secondly, as its regular school days, so all the kids are off to school.  The only strata left out from schooling is the children of maids and other unskilled labours, who live in some slum or urban village (as we call them) around. (Definitely, it talks about the conscience of convenience that we all have.  That day, we don't mind that these under privileged kids are not going to school).

Honestly speaking, inviting those unwashed, unclean kids with tattered clothes and unkempt hair and an equally repulsive odour to your place can be quite cumbersome.  And following the ritual with true devotion can be very challenging or you have to be religiously religious for it... I doubt how many of us would be doing that.... I'm sure most of us serve food and offer money to them with pity than with the great bhakti bhavana (religious feelings).

Finally, the only option left with a busy, working couple, is to cook all the dishes and go to the nearest temple to either give to the priest to distribute to small girls during the course of the day or again find some small beggar girl and give the food and money to her.  We ultimately resort to giving alms or best put - to beggary.

This was about the ritualistic part only, which makes it worthless in my eyes.  Femininity as divinity is only fashionable thing to say, nothing more than that.

Talking about why I'm so uninterested now is because of one apparent reason, which does not need any elaboration.  The ever growing violence against females - foeticide, infanticide, sexual abuse of minor girls (Digital rape is a new term I came to know about), rape, sexual offenses, ill treatment because of the gender. 

This year, while I walked towards the temple to offer the food etc for Kanjaks, the news of a three year old girl, raped and killed, kept banging in my head. I bowed my head in front of the idol of the goddess Durga and came back soon..... how does it matter whether some people worship the girls.... they actually don't need them.


pics coutesy: google images

Jantar Mantar - Snapshots

April 7, 2011
We Delhites love to go shopping, mall hopping and movies.  Also, the one common factor which binds a common Dilliwala is the love for the street food.  So, mostly a family outing means, you go any place where you can eat, shop or chill, in any order!

But, I've always tried that apart from going to such fun places, me and my kids go to some educationally interesting places too.

Recently, we visited Jantar Mantar at New Delhi.  Today, as on date ie., it is the hub of socio political happenings in the Capital. Have a look at the majestic look of Jantar Mantar.  Interestingly, Park Hotel stands just behind it, and brings out the contrast - ie.,  ancient and modern.


A Lesson From My Teenager Son

April 5, 2011
My 14+ years old son tells me " Ma, aap bahut bholi ho, kuch nahi samajhti".

This has completely shocked me!!  I was sitting on the sofa reading a volunteer form for parents provided by his school,  next to his almirah, where he was keeping his books. His words completely jolted me, and not to mention, I had my eyes popping out in surprise and my jaw dropped for a good few seconds, when I heard that!

Hey, wait a second boy! suddenly my causal, comfortable capri  and top is feeling like a pale coloured, worn out, crinkled, dull cotton saree, worn over an ill fitting blouse of same shade..... and suddenly I'm feeling very old..... old and rusted from mind....

Seriously, for a moment I'm reminded of the good old (well, literally) Nirupama Roy of old Hindi movies... the poor mother... the idol of sacrifice, the affectionate but weak mother, who always stayed at home and really didn't know much about the bad bad world outside, always standing by her family.... the good old Nirupama Roy.... me?! And the young and tall son tells her " Ma, tum kitni bholi ho, tum kuch nahi jaanti"

And hey.... I've heard these words before.... I think I used to tell my mom the same thing (err... may be I used to think of telling this to her some day!!)....I was pretty sure I don't want my children to tell me that I DO NOT know the world around. But I'm quite sadly surprised that I have to hear this.... despite everything. (!!!)

And now hear, why I had to hear this.  My son has got a form from his school, in which parents can volunteer to help the school/students in any way, in terms of a motivational talk or counselling or anything (at least this is what i could make out of that brief form).  Since, I impart training in soft skills (along with my main work profile) I thought I could contribute in a way so as to have an interactive session with my son's classmates of Class X.

But, I was not surprised that he discouraged me to volunteer. Rather I was taken aback my son's comment, followed by this great revelation - "Mom, only behenjis will be suitable for that.... remember I'm in Xth class.... I have grown up, big boys as my class mates........(a suggestive smile)..... they can say just anything.... so please don't volunteer".

I closed my mouth... collecting my dropped jaw.... and said - "Son, they are 15 year old kids and I'm your mom, and for God's sake I'll be dressed up in a Saree when I go to your school.... what's the matter?.... you mean the boys will.........( looked at him in a confused way)

Thud came the reply - "aap kuch nahi samajhti..... Mom, please don't, and please listen to me this one time"

I'm yet to come with terms with this one!  Times have really changed.... and I'm feeling way behind the times!!!!!

Of course, the next generation has to be way more smart than the previous one, but as a person, I'm, perplexed to experience this change.

Have you ever felt like this as a parent? 


प्रेम और वसंत

April 4, 2011

घर के सामने लगे उस पेड़ को
देखा था कुछ रोज़ पहले
सूखी निष्प्राण से शाखाओं को
जैसे जीने की कोई तलब ही  नहीं थी

हर पांत सूखी थी
काँटों से भरा था उसका बदन
और छुपी थी उसमे टूटन और
दिल को चीरती से उदास चुभन

आज सुबह ऑंखें मलते
बाहर जा कर देखा तो पाया
सूखी शाखों में कुछ नवजात पत्तियां
सुर्ख रंग की, उग आई हैं

हर वर्ष, परत दर परत
बढ़ते, फैलते, पर बूढ़े होते तने में
यौवन अब भी बाकी था
ऊष्मा अब भी बाकी थी

प्रेमी वृक्ष के सीने में
कुछ थे शायद  उमड़े आज अरमान
कि, शर्मा के प्रेयसी, पत्तियों
का हुआ ये हाल  

हर वर्ष वसंत आता है
हर वर्ष - निष्प्राण, विह्वल दिखती वनस्पति
फिर सजक हो जाती है
फिर प्रेम कर बैठती है
फिर हरी भरी  हो, लहलहा जाती है

हम मनुष्य ही क्यूँ
टूटे ह्रदय को
परत दर परत सीने में दफ़न किये जाते हैं ?
क्यूं भूल नहीं जाते किसी का मुह मोड़ लेना ?
क्यूं  माफ़ नहीं कर पाते किसी के कड़वे शब्द ?

क्यों नहीं ओढ़ लेते हरियाली की चादर ?
हरीतिमा का आंचल ?
हर वसंत....
हर वसंत....
हर वसंत....


Forget About the Borders - Let Cricket Win

April 2, 2011
I'm not a sports enthusiast.... but can absolutely understand others' interest in sports (read cricket)... it's understandable.

I'm dying to go watch another photo exhibition in IGNCA, New Delhi.... so I can very well understand the passion of the masses world wide for watching sports matches etc. I can very well understand why people plan their days to be able to view their favorite match..... and it's even more apparent when the match happens to be between India and Pakistan ( I know I'm late for saying that!) .... and much more obvious when their Blue Gods are eying the ICC World Cup (or any such cup or saucer which is in vogue those days).

I understand it all.  BUT, what I absolutely fail to understand is that why do we have to make a cricket match sound like some war??  I keep wondering.... and wondering..... and wondering.... just what makes people think that winning a match by any team is going to serve as an ego booster for an ordinary man on the street? Is it going to change their life in some way?

I want to ask you, the reader, have we not started making these matches a question of our self respect, ego, country's worth etc etc?

Wont' believe me? or you do?

Sample this, that some leading FM channel, says its a war out there.... and we HAVE to win.... to tell us listeners - what is your totka (home made recipe to achieve some goal)  for India to win?! Helllllowwww!!! better ask for a totka to stop people jumping queues.... better ask for a totka to instantly blacken the face of the guys who trouble and harress the girls in public places.... we desperately these and many more such totkas (huff, as if they work!!! Gosh, when we really become educated?!)

Sample this, and I'm pretty sure, you have already got such SMSs and you have already forwarded them the Nth time! The SMS jokes which show the opponent team and captain in poor light, almost denigrating them on personal level. Being a public figure does not mean, they can be dragged into anything at the mass's will, come on, don't we know this??

Why are we, the ordinary people of this country, of any country, so obsessed about WINNING and not about the GAME?? This is my question to all the sports fans out there?  Why can't we watch a match with the true sportsman spirit.  The game should be played with all fairness and enthusiasm.  Of  course the aim is to win..... but the bigger aim is to be a team player.... the bigger aim is to be a student of that discipline which you have chosen for your life ( if you're a professional player, i mean).

And NO, we can't do that, so comes the COMPULSION and not  the DESIRE to win... the pressure of your nation is there, so you HAVE TO  win.   Just why??

And, Here, I'm not even talking about the betting on teams and the huge business going on, as we hear and read in newspapers everyday.

It seems the we have not gotten over the cricket match played between Bhuvan (Amir Khan) and the British officers in the movie Lagaan.... which of course was a match which would have decided their fate - it was a question of  life and death for them - I really feel, that is how generally cricket is viewed even now.  We have to get over that.... these are just friendly matches...... let our egos not come in between the pure pleasure of a game.

Finally, just want to say that, let's not go mad about WHICH TEAM SHOULD WIN..... let's rise above that and say LET THE GAME WIN - LET CRICKET WIN.


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