Sunday, December 9, 2007

Miles to go before I sleep ...

I have decided to merge both my blogs into one. From now on impressions on my travels will also be posted in my " miles to go before I sleep " ....

Sunday, November 4, 2007


"I am going to be a spider witch"....." I 'll be a mermaid"... I am a princess"..." I love being a butterfly".....each one was eager to share the details of their costumes for the Halloween. This was my first Halloween and I was amused at the excitement that filled the innocent faces of the kids who had gathered home for their regular dance sessions. I asked them " What is Halloween?" and the answer I got was , It was a day when we will get a lot of candies....and we get new costumes for our costume party!"

Then I got a note from my son's school regarding the Halloween party! They were supposed to go to school in a costume and take with them gifts or treats to share with their friends. So I went searching for the costume of his choice to the mall. The whole mall was filled with the spirit of Halloween. there were spooky corners which sold scary masks and costumes...,there were special offers for miniature chocolate bars and candies....on the shelf stood pumpkin shaped pails with different facial expressions ...!!!
"Amma , I don't want to wear any thing scary!" ......My son came up with his demand!....his eyes stuck on the red costume of a fire fighter and he was satisfied.

Still I did not get a satisfying answer regarding the roots of this festival which seemed to have gained a wide popularity , second only to the Christmas. The festival is now commercialized , and the real reason behind the festival seemed to be missing. I digged a few books and searched the internet and found out that this was originally a Celtic festival with its roots in Ireland.It is named after " All Hallows even " or Eve of All Hallows Day or All Saints Day.Romans who later invaded the Celts seem to have blended in their customs into this festival.It originally symbolized the end of summer and beginning of the dark period or winter.It was called "Samhain" by the Irish, who celebrated this day with bone fires and bambrack( a traditional fruit cake).It was also believed to be the time when other worldly creatures roamed the planet ! There fore who ever , left their homes disguised in costumes in order to be in sync with the outside atmosphere.They used to roam around with a lantern made from gourd(jack o lantern.... which represented the plight of jack the farmer whose spirit roams around, who is denied entry to heaven or hell due to a spell from the devil).gourd was later replaced by pumpkin, which is more abundantly found! The poor in Ireland used to knock at doors and beg, and in turn would pray for the souls of the bereaved. This has been transformed into "trick or treating" today, where children run from door to door in their costumes and are given treats !

The Roman Goddesses Pomona ( Goddess of fruits) is remembered by the custom of bobbing of apples. This is a game where apples and coins and thrown into water and is supposed to be picked up with out using the hands.

Though the festival is not celebrated in its olden significance, it is a great time of the year ...when each house hold welcomes you with the colors of autumn, signs of harvest, symbols of ghouls and ghosts and witches....the pagan festival is redefined to fit into today world... celebrated with a difference!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kanna and Sree go Apple picking!!!

I was waiting with Sree my toddler, for my elder son Kanna's school bus to arrive. I couldn't help wonder at the tapestry of nature , as my eyes fell on the swaying colorful trees as they performed their autumn dance. All the colors were compressed in the costumes these trees wore , creating a divine aura of joy and bliss.
" Anna bus , Anna bus" , yelled Sree as he heard the approaching yellow school bus.
" Amma, Anna come in magic school bus. Sree also go in magic school bus with Anna" he added.

Kanna came running , his face beaming with pride , his out stretched arms eagerly waiting for a warm squeeze and a loving hug. He started elaborating the days events at school... trying not to miss every opportunity at arousing jealousy in his little brother.

"I have something special to give you " said Kanna as he opened his school bag and pulled out a few papers. On it were given detailed recipies of apple sauce , apple sauce cake and apple muffins.
" Amma, I am going to help you make these!" he declared.

There was home work to for me .. it said " write why is your child the apple of your eye?"

" Amma, my teacher lives near an apple orchard!
Amma, you know what , my friend Zac brought apple sauce to school today!
Amma , you know there are red , yellow and green apples.......if we slit open an apple we can see a star...........

He went on and on ....and apples were the main topic of discussion through out the day!

We finally decided to go apple picking at "Erwin Apple orchard", which was a 20 minute drive from our place.

On Saturday morning , off we went to the apple orchard. We first took a ride around the farm on the farm wagon.. trying to figure out which variety of apples we would fill in our plastic bag , that we bought at the counter.We passed the corn maze , the pumpkin patch and finally arrived the apple orchard.

Red and golden balls were dangling from small healthy looking trees , which was a real treat to the eyes. Some trees were covered with these from top to bottom , that even my two year old could easily pluck them with out any one's help. The golden delicious were so tempting and inviting that it reminded me of Adam and Eve's first temptation. Our hands involuntarily held the golden fruit , and it came off its branch with a slight twist. Before long all of us were busy munching the juicy treats as we roamed through the rows of apple trees trying to research on the juiciest ones.

Adjacent to the apple orchard was the orange pumpkin patch with huge pumpkins....Kanna went in search of the perfect pumpkin which he could carry ...the long search finally came to an end after trying to lift each pumpkin we saw ....finally we discovered kanna's perfect pumpkin.

After a long day of apple diet .... we once again succumbed to the freshly made apple donut and apple cider before heading for the games that were organized for kids.

Our apple cake

apple pickle

Back at home , we made apple pickle, apple sauce and apple cake .....while Kanna stirred the dry ingredients , Sree and Appa blended the wet ones .....we all anxiously waited for the cake to bake ....its aroma arousing our taste buds....As the kids savored the apple cake ...I could catch a twinkle in their eyes , a glow on their faces !!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Life is Relationships....................................

In this journey called life we come across umpteen number of people. We pause to exchange a "hi" with many.....with some we manage a shake hand.....with a few we sit down to chat and with a few others we hold a bond. Life is relationships......

The few countries I visited in the past seven years have enriched my life with beautiful bonds.....
when I tread back my memory lane , its these beautiful moments created by some wonderful friends that I am reminded of than the places I visited.

I would like to dedicate this post to four loving couple who made my days memorable in the four foreign countries I visited. There were many more lovely relationships which I still treasure today ....but these couples have surely etched their names with their infallible love and untainted friendship.

Kajiyoshi San and Sadami San of Japan

They were the most polite people I have ever come across. Sadami San was kind enough to prepare a full vegetarian course meal , when she invited me to her well decorated traditional Japanese home. Kajiyoshi San was one of the librarians in the library which was opposite to our apartment. How can I forget the knock at our apartment door at 4.30 in the morning....on our last day in Japan. We would have missed our flight , if he was not at our door step to bid a final good bye to us. He was in his seventies , but still helped us with all our luggage and dropped us at the railway station .

Mrs and Mr Jaison Shang of Taiwan

Our first day in Taiwan. My husband PP had already left for office and I was feeling homesick and far away from home. Just then the phone bell rang , and a female voice introduced herself as Mrs Jason , wife of Customer site Manager of PP's project.She was already waiting for me in the downstairs lobby , to show me around . She helped me purchase necessary groceries and fresh fruits and vegetables from the local market and I was already feeling very comfortable . The warmth and the kindness , we receive when we are far from home is so precious.

Mr Naas Ferriera and Mrs Wickie of South Africa

They were the most jovial and energetic couple I have come across. There enthusiasm and energy is so contagious , that they skillfully trap us in their magical web of love and friendship. My baby had started calling Mr Naas " abu"( meaning grandpa in our mother tongue.) Once they invited us home for dinner , which was an unique experience. Naas was cooking hot and fresh buns for us in his open hearth oven in his back yard. Each one had to prepare his or her own dinner.We were each provided with pans and small portable stoves. They had cut a variety of vegetables and cooked a huge casserole of rice and lined up a row of various spices. We could make a meal from the ingredients they had provided and eat from the pan. Each one came up with a different variety of rice which all savored in the warm embrace of friendship.

Mr George Chacko and Mrs Anuja Chacko of USA

I am glad to have met these wonderful people , who have made me and my family feel so much at home. Anuja 's support in exploring my artistic talents and also establishing a personal bond has made my life here more fruitful and enjoyable.

I feel fortunate to have been exposed to various cultures through my travels. If not for these experiences , I would have been like a frog in a pond.....leading a cloistered existence ....the nomad in me is thirsty for more travels and more experiences.....

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A relaxing Dessert !

Would you like to have your favorite creamy ice cream that tickles your taste buds and swims down your esophagus ?
Would your like to have aromatic and glistening gajar ka halwa with the intoxicating smell of ghee ?
Why not try the thick sweetness of palada payasam , enriched with the flavors of condensed milk ?.......
Do not mistake this for a food blog, though I have dreamt of starting one....

These are a few of my favorite desserts though the list can get longer in a jiffy. I was notorious for being a picky and fussy eater during my childhood. Though my affinity for food has deepened as I grew up , there is something that has remained constant temptation for a nice dessert. You can put a full stop to your meal only with an exotic dessert! It cools down , relaxes and also rejuvenates your tired digestive system after it has to assimilate , grind and digest the heavy inputs.

The same calming and soothing effect is met when you get a good assertive foot massage at the end of long hectic day. I am fortunate to enjoy this daily doze of dessert at the end of each day, which is like a balm , and which has all the properties of a sleeping pill. And my daily therapist is none other than my husband PP.

When we were in Taiwan I grabbed the opportunity of offering my feet to a professional foot massager. The board " FOOT MASSAGE" used to be so inviting , and I always suppressed my temptation of peering into the road side massage rooms. But I finally gave in ; and on one of my usual walks to bargain for fresh vegetables from farmers , who displayed their crops in the congested and noisy streets, I stopped at one of those boards ...and found few people in a queue awaiting their turn for the massage. I too joined the group. I could also hear pleading and yelling voices from the customers who were already tasting the efficacy of the massage .It was finally my turn ... and soon realized the secrets behind the pleading and yelling voices.The half an hour massage that followed was an experience that I find difficult to put to words. You have to experience it.

The person who massaged my foot kept on talking to me in Chinese , but I was not in a state to explain that I did not follow their language .. If I opened my mouth to speak I knew I would not speak , but only scream. After the massage I was given one and a half liter of warm water , which I was supposed to drink . Even though my bladder could no longer endure the pressures from within, by the time I rushed back home .....I went back every week for more of those massages.

Though the massages were painful, it promised energizing each and every cell by removing the blocks that have piled in our body!

Here is a small video of a Taiwanese foot massage, which brought back memories.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Power of Prayer!

Its only a few months since we came to US . A month after we arrived, we visited a temple 15 miles from our place. It was not like the temples I have gone to in India . It was an ordinary brick building, which never gave one a clue that it was a temple. But my impression changed as I stepped into the building which housed beautiful icons of various Hindu Gods.There was a large hall for meditation and the atmosphere was calming. I enjoyed the silent vibrations that penetrated the surroundings. I found a huge accommodating auditorium at the basement of the temple. A function was about to commence in the auditorium. A deep desire to perform at this temple sprouted in me.The splendid auditorium was so beckoning! I made a silent prayer .....It was a genuine and intense prayer......! To me prayer has been a communication ...for when ever I communicated clearly my prayer has always been answered....!

Even with very little exposure and limited by the fact that I am a total stranger ....My prayer was answered!
I danced in the Bharatiya temple last week and I enjoyed every moment ! Things have materialized in a very short span of time ...which have confirmed my faith in prayer !

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Staying Connected!!

" It was dark ... and she squirmed and huddled close to her sister trying to get some sleep. Those were days when there was no current and electricity in her remote village.....but nature's abundance of fresh air and cool breeze caressed her with their soothing lullabies. Though she belonged to a large household with a huge old house and acres of fertile land, she never had a room or bed of her own. Compartmentalization and selfishness were traits unknown was all about giving and sharing...! She shared a central hall with the whole family which was transformed into a sleeping room at night. It was not a hall but a place where she used to weave her own dreams ... and her imagination soared up high with all the fabulous stories her mother would tell them during those twilight hours.

But today , some commotion outside was forcing her keep her eyes open and ears sharp!!! She could hear her uncles and grand father and father in a rather commanding tone and she was alert. Suddenly she heard " Thief ! Thief!" and could feel a fire inside her small tummy!!
One of her Uncles came rushing in ......" Do you want to see a thief ? " he asked. She climbed on his shoulders holding on to him tightly.....this was the most adventurous moment of her life! She was going to see a real thief ! She never thought a thief really existed .. and even if there was one he never belonged to the homosapien species ....he would be from some "homonstero sapien" species alien ....who is alive only in stories.. with monstrous features .. horns and huge body and fierce eyes!!! And now how brave would she be if she could just face that creature even though from the shoulders of her uncle !!!

Out they went to the veranda ....they had caught a thief who was trying to steal coconuts from their trees ....
" did you see the thief?" asked her uncle.
She couldn't spot any one other than a tiny man held by one of her other uncles....who was bowing down in shame and embarrassment and trying to make excuses like..." i had just come out to relieve my self! i had to attend to nature's call!" ......
there was no monster or gigantic figure - just a normal human being!.....She was surprised ......!!!!"

I heard this story from my Amma when I was a girl . It was not a story but a real life situation of my mother's childhood. I loved hearing such incidents from my mother and Grand mother . Such stories laid strong foundation for creativity and bonding.It was a good way to stay connected. Story telling is a beautiful way to let the kids explore their imagination....and who can do this better than parents and grand parents! One of the most precious moments I enjoy with my kids is our story time . The time when they are rapt in attention, their eyes trying to capture every bit with out a blink .....the stories opening new doors to their dream world....their soft bodies leaning on me and embracing me with their undivided attention.

My kids seem to be extremely lucky, as they have had story sessions with their grand mother and also great grand mother. But today, as we are away from home , and away from our dear ones my kids are missing their grand parents! .... but surely not their story time . My parents who were initially apprehensive to computers and hesitated to approach them .... are today using them with ease! Internet and Google talk have made distances seem little ones screams from here are so deafening to my parents and also to their neighbors ! My naughty ones eagerly wait for their ammumma and abu to call.... so that they can start their story time!....I can't help smiling when I see my little ones rapt in attention....alert to the sound of their grandmother's story line , plunging onto their world of imagination.....laughing and giggling along the way....shouting "one more kaani ! one more kaani !!!....".

times have changed.... though jobs have taken us far apart ....from different parts of the globe we still find ways to stay connected!