Going on Vacation


After a long long time, I am back in my blog. My work schedule was killing me, and now that it is December, things have finally eased off. And that brings me back to my blog.

So how have things been….we are nearly at the end of another year, and there have been so many memorable happenings this year – the latest being the death of Nelson Mandela.

In India, on the political front, we have the BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) battling out in the Delhi elections, and drawing the battle lines for next year’s Central Government elections. And since elections are around the corner, the ruling party (Congress) is determined to make a fair showing of its prowess (!) during the past 5 years, and trying to shape up for next year.

On a personal front, we are going on a vacation!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!! We are going to the little Indonesian island of Batam for a week – to chillax.  Our trip starts on Sunday and we’ll be back next Saturday, spending Christmas there.

If the hotel has wi-fi, I’ll be providing daily updates of our trip. If not, I’ll come back and give the updates.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

 

 

Dastkar presents ‘Nature Bazaar’


 

Last Sunday we went to the Dastkar Nature Bazaar – its last day in Bangalore. A beautiful potpourri of crafts from different parts of India were showcased at the Fair. We were just sorry that we didn’t get to go there earlier.

Here are some sights from the Fair –

The Fair Ground

Threads used for hair braiding which was being done by an expert there.

Bamboo Windchimes

Traditional Puppet Show

More Puppets

Puppets Closeup

One of the Stalls

Fabric chains

Ringing Bells?

Lighted Paper lamp

Traditionally packaged Electric Lamps

Bottle Art

Paper products made with the finest recycled elephant poo in India.

Beautiful Madhubhani paintings

A Kite Seller’s stall

Lamp made from Bottle Gourd (Lauki)

Lauki Lamp

Lighted Marble Lamp

A close-up of a lighted Marble Lamp

The Fair Grounds at Night

 

 

Book Review: I, Rama – Age of Seers


Title: I, Rama … Age of Seers

Author: Ravi Venu

Publisher: Cratus Media

Price: Rs 225

When I first read the excerpt of the book, it sounded so much like another Immortals of Meluha (of Shiva Trilogy fame) ‘wannabe’. So much so that I decided to give it a try. This is how it goes – “There will be a time when men will fight among themselves in the name of God, when peace will fail; at that time part of me will re-emerge.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? In fact, my first thought was it would be something about Rama reincarnating in the present age.

The story starts with an event in Lanka. Then there is the Author’s Prologue, stating the most unbelievable and fantastic facts about religion, seers (or sages), Gods and even the earth. According to the author, the Sages and Demons are all beings from other planets who decided to settle down in Earth during an Age when man himself was not around. And these sages helped man to evolve and become kings and queens and what-nots. The seers seemed to have total control over everything – meaning they were equal to Gods. And the demons followed the seers to Earth but couldn’t destroy them because they had integrated themselves among earthlings. Sheeeesh! So much for the demons a.k.a. asuras. And both beings travelled light years across galaxies just to reach our measly Earth!

And as for the so-called Gods – they have been depicted as Kings of Constellations. For instance, Shiva is the ‘ruling celestial of the Shiva constellation.’ And human kings need the help of these celestial kings to solve their problems. Shiva uses energy spikes to get the Ganges to flow. I guess you already have an idea of what is to follow in the rest of the book.

In the tale, Rama reminisces his yesteryears to his kids who are about to be crowned as Kings of Ayodhya. The flowery language used in the book makes me gag and want to throw up on the book. Listen to this – ‘I see the river Sarayu. She seems to be wearing a Golden fleece woven from the rays of the evening sun, like a beautiful celestial dancer descended from the heavens….. ‘. Need I go on??? I felt like I was reading a literal translation of the book from an Indian language, and not an English novel. The language used is so unnatural for English, that it grates on your nerves trying to make sense out of it.

There are also various inconsistencies in the story. As far as I know, the Hindu caste system was based on the Manusmriti, and Manu was supposed to be the first King and author of the text. However, in this tale, Sage Vishwamitra was a Kshatriya King even before the time of Manu. What on earth is that supposed to mean if Manu was the one who founded the various castes??

A refreshing aspect of the book is its depiction of Kaikeyi, Rama’s step-mother. In almost all stories I have heard, she is portrayed as the evil one who sent Rama on his 14 year exile. However, here Kaikeyi is pictured as a strong warrior queen who had the foresight to identify Rama as an important person with a special mission in life, and each of her actions are depicted as a way to make that happen.

Another plus point for the book is the number of unheard stories related to the origin and fall of the Sages, and their relation to Rama’s story. Finally the tale ends with Rama, Lakshmana and Sita setting forth on their exile, FINALLY!!

As if the picturesque language and the utterly fantastic stories of sages travelling through space and time weren’t enough, the author seems to love using loooooong words to get a simple point across. Here is an example – “The concentration of my atonement was so intense that the vibrations started to disturb the astral planes…..As my mind woke up to earthly need, I remembered the last humiliation, which was the very purpose of my sacrament.”.  Can you imagine reading something like that and not bursting out laughing? The author seems to be in love with the word ‘celestial’ and throws it about the book carelessly. Every page has the word occurring atleast once, if not more. And the similes used are just out of the world! Here is one – “Her face was full of artful shyness like a stream gently caressing a rock in a flood.” Since when has a flood been gentle, and how can a girl’s shyness be like caressing a  rock? If anyone can make sense out of that sentence, I’d definitely love to hear it.

To me, the book read like a cross between Doctor Who and Repairman Jack, with the stories being neither here nor there. I love both, but this book was just… – well, words fail me.

So far, Rama has just been listening to stories and learning stuff. I dread to think of what is coming up in the proposed two sequels – when Rama actually begins practising all that he has learnt. I bet we will be subjected to a blow-by-blow account of how the arrow traverses across the seas and forests, the number of sparks it emits and so on – just like it is shown on the TV series Ramayana – where they show the path traced by an arrow till it finds its mark. And all in free-flowing, flowery language. I imagine it will go something like this – “Rama retrieved an arrow out of his hay quiver, uttered a few hymns to empower it with special celestial powers guaranteed to humiliate and destroy the perpetrator, and launched it from his bow. The arrow glowed with a  blue light and took on power from the celestial hymns uttered by Rama’s lips and enlightened the entire sea with its glow…..” You get the picture right 🙂 ?

I certainly hope the author won’t subject the readers to any more atrocious writing of this sort in the sequels.

Immortality has a price – the tagline of the book – but reading this was one price I didn’t want to pay.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Girls and Their Right to a Career

Spicy Saturday Pick

Cover of "Daughter"

Spicy Saturday Pick

 

Post selected as a Spicy Saturday Pick in BlogAdda for 10-Dec-2011

Featured at Symptoms of Disempowerment on 22-Dec-2011.

Featured at Global Voices Online on 17-Dec-2011

Here is my 100th post on Merry Musings – and I wanted to take this time to write of a girl I know, who has been banned from having a career or joining a college course of her wish.

Ananya is a 17-year-old – a bright and wonderful girl. She is now in the 12th form at a Girls’ School. She lives with her Dad, Mom and a little brother.

Just like any girl about to embark into College has some ideas about the course she wants to pursue, Ananya too has some desires. She is extremely talented with her hands – stitching, fabric painting, glass painting, doll making – these are all crafts she excels at – as well as having great grades at school. Her ambition is to become an Interior Designer or Fashion Designer and would like to get into such a College course which will prep her for such a career.

However, her dad has different ideas. In spite of living in the 21st century, his mindset is still stuck in the 1900s. He thinks that girls are only good for being married off. His intentions about his daughter’s studies – to get her into the college next-door and enrol her in a useless course which will definitely not aid her in any way to get a job or become financially independent. And as soon as the course is complete, to get her married off! Convenient, isn’t it?

She is desperate – her Mom is sympathetic, but has no voice where her husband says that his Will is the Law in that house. Her dad is acting like a tyrant – even tries to get rid of her skin products like cleanser and moisturiser – just to make sure that his daughter does not fall into any traps and shame the family name by eloping or getting married outside the community. In fact that seems to be his only concern over his daughter.

Several have tried to change his mind, including his eldest sister who said, “A girl should be equipped to take a job if necessary. If not, she will be a slave in her husband’s home.” But all to no avail. So far, no one has managed to change his mind. Ananya dreads the day she completes her final exams in 12th grade. Then the countdown begins to the day of her marriage – along with the death of a talented girls desires and ambitions.

What do you think of a father who is only concerned about getting his daughter married off? Has he thought of how she will react if her husband turns out be as oppressive as her dad is?Or what if she is married and her husband dies – what will her Dad do then? Or if she is married to a guy who seemed to be perfect but turned out to be a nightmare? I know girls who have been in both situations and the only thing that saved them was that they had a job.

She is a rather modern girl, with a mind of her own. However, her wings are being clipped right now, to make sure that she has no chances of maligning the family name. I imagine it is a case of ‘Prevention is better than Cure.” I wonder why he bothered to teach her or even goad her on to get good grades in school. If he only wanted her to be stuck in a strange family’s kitchen, then he should just have let her stay at her mother’s side and learned the “domestic arts”.

Today she is crying and her pleas for help are falling on sympathetic ears who are helpless to change her dad’s mind. I can imagine what will slowly happen to this girl – either she will just succumb to her Dad’s pressure and agree to get married at the earliest possible opportunity, burying all her fond hopes of a career. Or when she starts college (at least that is definite – dad certainly wants his daughter to have a degree in hand, else her value in the marriage market will fall), she will have friends who will be sympathetic to her problems and offer advice, which in all probability may be the wrong ones, and may take some wrong turns in life. Or she may break free from the golden cage and follow her heart’s desire.

Fathers such as these are extremely myopic. They are only concerned about their duty to their daughters, namely to get them married off, and then it is all out of focus for them. They don’t even take view of the fact that their darling daughter will be the one to suffer because of their archaic thinking.

Dear readers, what do you think Ananya can do other than to submit to the will of the father?

Snapshots of Deepavali


And finally the day is here  – Diwali, also known as “Deepavali’ – The Festival of Lights.

On this historic day, Lord Rama vanquished the evil King Raavan, and returned triumphantly to Ayodhya. And in honour of this occasion, all of India celebrates it by cleaning out their homes, lighting lamps and being decked out in their finery.

There are pujas at homes and offices, gifts are exchanged, houses are decorated with lamps and lights  – kind of like the Christmas for Hindus.

Here are some pictures I snapped of Deepavali around me –

Prep for Puja

Prep for Puja

Puja at Office

Puja at Office

image

image

Sweets after Puja

Gift Box from Office

Gift Box from Office

Dryfruits