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I vaguely heard someone saying that. I was seated in a CST bound train, reading ‘Eat, pray, love’ and fortunately the novel had finally arrived to an interesting part. ‘Sankashti’!!… the moment I heard this, I snapped up and looked at the woman saying it, wondering whether it was ‘Sankashti’ that day. To the uninitiated, this is one of the common fasts observed amongst the Maharashtrians. It is observed every month on the 4th day of the waning fortnight and is observed to receive the blessings of Lord Ganesha. I started observing it from class 10 – since I believed it was necessary in order to score well. I didnt study as much and scored okay in class 10, but the practice of fasting has continued.While I’m not a devout hindu, I have faith in Lord Ganesha.(fasting has got nothing to do with being a devout hindu, but that is a topic for another post I suppose). I have continued to fast month after month, year after year hoping that one day the Lord will pity me and grant some sense. 🙂
Well, coming back to the story, I thought that it could be Sankashti and that I might have missed to fast. Mentally, I berated myself for not only not observing the fast, but actually eating a hearty breakfast that day, which I normally end up skipping. Then I realised that if it was Sankasthi that day, everyone in my family had missed it – we all of us fast on Sankashti. That was unusal, because my mother would never miss it! So I looked at the woman once more. She was still on the phone talking to someone. I concluded that she must have spoken about some past / upcoming Sankashti. I was just about to go back to my reading when I overheard, ‘Sankashti!’ and I turned to look at her once more. She was saying ‘Sankashti, what a brat you are, always getting into mischief’… and I was floored!
SANKASHTI was the name of the child this woman was talking to!!! It’s a Sanskrit word which I worked out would be sandhi of 2 words – ‘San+Kashta’ – ‘San’->>’Sam’ meaning together (in this context – ‘WITH’) and ‘Kashta’ meaning ‘Hardships’. A fast is obviously penance and hence the meaning ‘with hardships’. Then I began pitying the child whose name was ‘Sankashti’. Maybe she was born after several troubled hours her mother spent in the labour room etc. But still ‘Sankashti’ was such a vindictiveness on her mother’s part, if there really was such a thought process behind the name. But then I thought there wouldn’t have been. Not many people care to dwell on the fact that most of the Indian names have sanskrit origin, much less their meaning. Lately, there has been some sort of trend of naming babies with some archaic Sanskrit words from scriptures. Internationally, if they can name kids randomly (Read: Brooklyn, Apple, Ireland etc) why cant we follow the madness? Of course its everyone’s choice to name (And call) their kids whatever they want. So infact, there could be some people complimenting Sankashti’s parents on such a cool choice of name.
Personally, I tend to associate an image with every person I know, and this has sometimes posed problems for me. The image is mostly influenced by the peson’s name. An Indian name mostly has a meaning – so if it is ‘Anjali’ – it is a specific hand posture using which one normally offers a gift to the God. Contrary to the popular opinion, it’s not an offering to the God . It literally means ‘palmful’ and usually you use this gesture to offer any gift to God etc. Now though I don’t picture a palm in my mind every time I come across an ‘Anjali’, I mostly have problem processing such names. And there are many I know who seem to have such visual names. If they(my friends) read this post, all I have to say is this : FORGIVE ME! YOU WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS.
Well it’s not like I always picture the meaning first, but it stayed in the back of my mind that ‘Kinchit’ means ‘small in quantity’/’Little'(quantity) etc when I got introduced to one of my MBA classmates. I found it funny, but not many agreed, because it is apparently a common Gujarati name and my college was full of Guju bhais. I remember one of our professors basing her whole session on some one liners like ‘Come on Kinchit, I’ll give you a clean chit if you answer this etc’… then there were numeous ‘Ketans’ (house), ‘Parthivs’ (made of mud) that I kept on running into. Then there’s fair share of abstract names too – a ‘Vanchana’ (worry) that I know, ‘Rachana’ (Arrangement/ creation – it doesnt say good arrangement or bad). A guy’s name was ‘Apekshit’ – (expected) and his youger brother was ‘Akalpit’ (‘beyond imagination’ and sometimes can also be used as ‘Unplanned’) – thereby making their parents’ family planning details totally public… 🙂 . One of my own nieces in the extended family is named ‘Sakshi’ (a witness)…. and the list goes on…
I believe that your name somehow becomes a part of you, your personality. So Akalpit may for all reasons grow into an unpredictable young man. But on the other hand, it wasnt Vanchana’s fault that she was given such a name. It necessarily does not mean that she has to live up to it. Fortunately, my parents did not name either myself or my brother in such a manner that our friends would have teased us. But I’d have surely felt resentful if I was called ‘Akriti’ (diagram), Nupur (anklet – though a very pretty sounding name), Sulabha (‘easily available’), Anumati (consent), Apeksha (expectation), Pratiksha (the wait), Heena (Mehendi) etc
We bought this season’s first batch of Mangoes today! Its already mid May and only a person hailing from Konkan would probably understand the lamentful undertone of this statement. Infact, not just a Konkani, any other person who has tasted our most valued contribution to the gastronomic (and ecological) world – Alphonso Mangoes would find this situation pitiable.
The mango season begins from late March onwards and ends by Mid-June. March is too early to buy since the first lot is always very costly. Usually prices correct by mid-April and the quality and quantity of the fruit too improves over this period. By the beginning of June, Mangoes get cheaper, but the quality too deteriorates. When I was growing up, we’d buy chests and chests of mangoes during summer vacation. My cousins would usually visit us during the period and then we’d have this daily mango-time in the morning. I remember my grandmother rationing mangoes in order to ensure that we didnt overeat (which caused heat-boils). She’d also make sure, we each had a glass of milk after we ate mango every morning. The mangoes then would be large in size and have red-pink-orange tint and smell heavenly. They became more and more popular over the years, and nowadays, such fruit as I described is only of export quality (hence not available for us sinful locals). Nevertheless, prices of ordinary alphonso mangoes too have sky-rocketed. At one point I remember my mother bargaining for a chest of mangoes (containing ~ 50 mangoes) for Rs. 350. Today we bought a mere dozen of mangoes for more than Rs. 1000. Gone are the days of chests after chests of mangoes which would be consumed as fruit, pulp, jam, milkshake, ice-cream over the period of summer vacation. Neither do we have that many mangoes in the market (they get exported) nor do we have lot of money to buy..
A trip to the mango vendor is not for the limited purpose of buying mangos, but also to purchase the entire year’s stock of, other goodies from Konkan. Some of these items are available locally throughout the year, but the taste, the flavour, the aroma never reaches to the authentic Konkan level. Again, I suppose this is something which not many people (except those from Konkan of course) will get. The mango vendors are usually some plantation owners from Konkan who set up temporary stalls during the mango season. So all that they sell is fresh and original ‘made in Konkan’ stuff. If I sing songs of Kuleeth Peeth (flour) – to a larger part of the world including North India that would sound odd since it is actually a cattle feed – but in Konkan, we use the Kuleeth flour to make Kuleeth Pithla (which is a heavenly concoction of only Kuleeth flour, chillies, oil, garlic and Kokam skin, can be made in less than 10 minutes, has creamy consistency and must be eaten with cooked rice), Pickles/amboshis (of innumerable varieties), other seasoning food such as mirgunda, chikawadya, papads, metkut (kind of powder made of rice and some lentils and spices and tastes amazing when mixed with curd/ghee/or even plain), goda masala, amsul (dried Kokam skin), Kokam agal (extract of Kokam fruit which is used to make our famed Sol kadhi – which is a made with mere coconut milk, Kokam agal, cummin seeds, chillies, coriander and a pinch of sugar and tastes amazing). Then you have Amba/Fanas poli (sun-dried pulps of Mango and Jackfruit), Kaju gar (Cashews) and cashew fruit jam / jelly, supari (Areca nut), numerous sharbet mixes (mango, gooseberry, kokam) etc. With my limited knowledge of my community, I am aware of only these popular items sold here in Mumbai. Given the vast cultural diversity within Konkan region itself, I wonder how much I might be missing out on….though I hope to discover most of it someday…
Chennai is not a ‘small town’ in the sense that I always meant when I imagined moving to such a place instead of leading a rat-race propelled life here in Mumbai. My friends and I spent long lunch breaks picturing such a place whenever we’d be frustrated with work pressure..which needless to say happens atleast once a week…
The place would have its own character…a cultural identity…There would be natural beauty I reckon…lovely early morning walks, quiet days and everything coming to a stand still at about 7.00 pm when everyone would be back home and spend the rest of the evening-night with friends, family etc laughing, chatting, reading or doing N things… I imagined that ‘small town’ people would find time for their hobbies… If I shifted there, I’d trek a lot, travel to nearby non-descript places, click some pictures, own a garden, listen to some local music and all that jazz…I thought I wouldnt care two hoots about being ‘in sync’ with the ever changing urban life… well, normally, this day-dreaming induced calm would last till some colleague would remind me of my random weekend trip to Pune where shops dont open till 11.00 am (er..how can this be? dont the shops open at like 7.00 am ??), where ricksaw wallahs cheat you into paying double/triple the amount, where you dont find the latest in many things..where restaurants serve you Vada Pav/ Vada Sambar/Pav Bhaji that taste like anything but…where you cannot find even public transport at 11.00 pm that easily (and here this thought of not finding a public transport would not even occur to me… You find ricksaw wallahs even at 5.00 in the am!!) And then I am also reminded of the fact that I’d be ‘jobless’ in small town…nobody needs credit analysts at places like Ichalkaranji, Meerut, Pondicherry etc..I’d get paid abysmally low for whatever job I finally find myself… with this last thought my friends and I return to our work and to the rat race… the worst part of the rat race is that at the end of it all, whether you win or lose, you remain…a rat!!
Well, coming back to Chennai, before we got there, I did expect it to be a ‘small town’ in more than one sense, especially, the part involving people returning home early from work. I’d been to Chennai twice before, once as a tourist. I was quite small then and my impression was limited to the TTDC’s itinery, in which a very small part of Chennai was covered. The second time was training and our itinery was hotel-office-hotel for the entire duration…Well this third time was a pleasure trip. A friend’s wedding. Must say, while it was of short duration, we moved around quite a bit..Its a vibrant city with distinct pride about its rich heritage. The city is still green, clean. All the street-walls have pictures of old mythology/ cultural influences on them…sea is close from all the sides of the city. People seem to love their own city (not like Mumbai, where everyone comes to earn bread, but nobody owns it and nobody cares to keep it clean). There were some ‘high streets’ where you found the latest in fashion/ technology and international cuisine…and then there were some areas full of hustle bustle, market places, large jewellery stores, saree shops…there were temples – all well maintained and clean… I dont know if this is really being followed everywhere in Chennai, but the temples we visited had people standing neatly in queues etc… Public gardens were well tended…Marina beach (of the ‘picture in this post’) was clean (though my friend who originally hails from Chennai informed us that it was relatively dirty as compared tto other beaches within the city!!
Among work related things, people reported to work early in the morning and left on time. The city seems modern and still has maintained its cultural identity. Suddenly, the ‘small town dreams’ flooded back…and we began checking for property rates in Chennai 🙂 they’re not as cheap as we thought they would be… Chennai too is in great demand and getting more and more cosmopolitan! I just hope it doesnt lose its cultural identity like Mumbai has in some ways…
I was going through some of the ‘live’ recordings that I’d done over the last year at various places, usually vocals and instrumentals, and I came across this recording which I’d made of harmonium-tabla jugalbandi at an informal show. As the recording progressed, I was transported few months back to that venue. It was in August, one Sunday afternoon, rainy and the hall was almost empty when I had entered, which was mostly towards the end of the show. I had dilly-dallied thinking that a purely ‘harmonium’ show wouldn’t be all that great… had to however be there as was so courteously invited. How wrong I was….
What I walked into was a harmony of swaras and naad. …dexterity of fingers, such an attunement of both the harmonium player and the tabla artist that it seemed like the swaras and the naad had melted together.. and were flowing seamlessly… It was a perfect union. What cannot be described here is the look of extreme ecstasy on the faces of both the artistes. One played a raaga, a variation on harmonium, changing scale, pace from time to time and the other responded to it simultaneously…as if he knew what was coming. I knew that the whole piece was impromptu, since the tabla artist who had been engaged for the show could not make it and a local artist had to pitch in instead. It was amazing as waves after waves of tunes got released into the atmosphere and the tabla resonated simultaneously, dancing to those tunes beautifully…. what amazing music the performers created! Though the hall was only half filled, both the performers’ enthusiasm had not waned. In fact to us, it seemed that they were in a world of their own, their eyes talking to each other, speaking a language which very few could understand. Each understanding the other so perfectly and communicating in such a profound manner that even hours of conversation would prove insufficient. To the listeners, these were moments of bliss…rarely experienced in real life I think…everyone was smiling…clapping from time to time, but the performers had eyes only for each other…throughout the musical piece, they spoke thus and created magic!!
I am sure I was not the only person who felt that such a connection, where no words are required to be exchanged, and yet a lot is communicated, must be a spiritual connection. Art in general…music, dance, paintings…any art invokes a pure emotion – this is what I’ve always believed. A pure emotion must be close to God…I have a great respect for the artists. They love their work, purely for work’s sake, for the joy that it brings, the spiritual connection that it makes of their soul with itself…But I feel, such a connection may not always be musical or artistic, it could be even more intangible and transient like a feeling, an emotion… a shared laugh when no joke is told, perhaps a shared sorrow without really having to share it in words… and then I remembered a quote that I’d read in one of my friends’ notes:
Sindhutai Sapkal! The name makes me smile…makes me believe in the goodness in this world…believe in humanity!! A gush of positive energy, enthusiasm and willpower… Just hearing her talk makes you feel humbled and rejuvenated!!
Humbled due to the fact that you realise – your struggles, your sorrows and your worries, which seem to consume you, impair you from living happy life…are nothing!! they are what we call in marathi ‘tochnaare sukh’ (loosely translated, it means too much of happiness/comfort/luxury in life leads you to invent sorrow)
Rejuvenated, because you’re amused and impressed with her view on life, the way she laughs off her struggles like there is nothing in this world that can stop her…her jokes about the depravity in her life make you realise that one CAN resurrect (and HOW!) in the face of extreme adversity – when even basic needs…the food, clothing or shelter is denied…makes you realise that most of your troubles might be figments of your imagination….and that you can easily overcome them! conquer them!! fight them!! that leaves you more positive and more accepting of your shortcomings! rejuvenated indeed!!
I first came to know about her on a Saturday few weeks back…she was on the talk-show ‘Khupte Tithe Gupte’…and discussing among all things her story, the biopic on her, her favourite poets–Suresh Bhat and Ga. Di. Ma. She can sing beautifully…her soul which has weathered all the storms in the world can still sing about the glory of God and her voice so soulful,enthralls one and all….
Her story… she was born in abject conditions and named ‘Chindhi’ (‘unwanted cloth piece – usually to be thrown off’ in Marathi)..studied only till class 4 (which was part-time, managing work and house) and was married off at 9 to a man who was 35 at that time!!Her husband would beat her up, not allow her to even read poetry – for which she had developed a passion…she recalls eating papers containing poetry so that her husband wouldnt know she had been reading,or else he would have beaten her up! At 20 she was thrown out of house by her husband – the community was poor, downtrodden, uneducated and as a result, regressive. The day he dragged her out of house into cowshed and left for dead, she delivered a baby girl! She remembers cutting the umbilical cord with a stone…closing her eyes and taking a deep breath! She stayed at her husband’s doorstep for 9 days. None, not even her in-laws/any other villagers helped her/took her in. She was a new mother, weak, hungry and the baby needed to be taken care of… a woman within the community, on route to public toilets would sneak in pieces of ‘bhakri’ every night for her to eat. She would drink water from the tumbler that the woman would take for going to the toilet!! Survived 9 days and then decided to go to other relatives. When she left, all the villagers threw stones on her so that she wouldnt come to them for shelter!!! She reached her own mother’s place…who would not take her in!!!So she left..got into a train, sang some poems and earned alms – food for herself..a baby in arms…which she would share with older beggars who were too weak to move much…at nights she lived in cremetories – What we call ‘Shamshaans’ for that was the only place where there was no fear of being raped! Men only went there when someone died and did not stay long for the fear of ghosts!! She remembers once when she couldnt find food, she stole offering (some flour) left near crematory fire when all had left, made ;Bhakri out of it and actually roasted it on the embers from the cremated body!!But she gradually started taking up orphans from stations and public places and caring after them. She would go from place to place, BEG and feed the children…from that beginning, she has raised practically hundreds of children and built an orphanage…all without government support!!Today she is proud that her children are doctors, lawyers, active social workers…
I have always felt that God is the that loves you selflessly…and in Sindhutai, I found God! the divinity!!the strength! Such people, who endure and still give away love – have no negativity in them must be Saints…Angels or practically, God!! She forgave her husband. He is very old now and was almost orphaned. She took him back!! and told him that she can be his mother now…what kind of compassion is that?? On the show she mentioned that she could have been vindictive and could have ignored him, but all she felt for him was compassion – ‘Jo aaahich melay tyala kasla maaraycha’…(one who’s already dead cannot be killed)! Her talk on the show was peppered with poetry, sheroshayari and songs. Couldnt believe that a person CAN retain appreciation for finer things in life after going through mammoth grief and sufferings!! Well, I stand corrected.After watching the show I decided that I had to meet this woman and touch her feet!!
Then day before yesterday, I heard she was coming down to my area for vyakhyaanmala…I couldnt miss opportunity!I MET her!!I wasnt just sitting in the audience…my heart really soared and reached out to her…met hers somewhere in the middle of her narrative..when I stood in the queue of people waiting to donate,I knew I had to TOUCH her…she is a living angel!! I touched her feet – a custom we Indians follow – many a times out of moral/societal obligation due to the age of a person to indicate respect, but this time the respect was heartfelt…and then, I touched her cheeks with my palms…I wanted to somehow express my affection towards a woman I had heard so much about, met for the first time!!What I felt then cannot probably be described!!
Must say, Garfield is my favourite. I know Garfield began to be aired in India only when cable era came in…so I was actually in my highschool when I first watched the series. The geek that I am, I would watch cartoons even during my undergrad and postgrad days, mind you, it was not limited to ‘Dilbert’… though Dilbert tv series too is a favourite…
Yesterday, was discussing with an old friend about good old cartoon film days and then we just revisited the whole 80s-90s cartoon history… I think I debuted with Spiderman. I still remember the song ‘spiderman…spiderman..does whatever a spider can..’ And then there was ‘He Man and the masters of the universe’… I remember, in class 5 when I was asked to identify a skull and set of bones, I said it was ‘Skeletor’…Those were the days of Doordarshan and there would be specific times. So it was Sunday morning at 8.00-8..30 am I think and saturday early evening. We also used to watch Gayab aaya, Jamie and the magic torch, and Giant Robot (which was not a cartoon). Since cartoons were rare back then, even ‘Ek Chidiya, anek chidiya’ was watched with full attention and interest every time it was aired.
Then came the days of DD2 where they started airing nice cartoons, tom and jerry, duck tales, talespin, Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland etc.on Sunday mornings. I remember rushing back from 7th standard scholarship classes in order to catch Alice in Wonderland – the dubbed hindi verison.From then on, there was no looking back. I think the cable channels came in and cartoon network was THE attraction. Couldnt believe that there was a channel running cartoon films throughout the day!! What fun! Well, by that time I was about to enter college, but still would like to watch Dexter, Power puff girls, Tom and jerry…
Flintstones is another series that I loved to watch. It was aired even on DD I think.
The best I loved however was Garfield….mainly because he was being himself – and unapologetic about it….a fat, lazy, intelligent cat who loved living it up king size and felt that he deserved the best!! it was lighthearted for kids, yet even for adults…
Then on there were many others… the Simpsons, Dilbert, Heidi, Rugrats and even Pokemon sometimes (*sheepish smile*)
The long and short of it: I still LOVE cartoons
Post the initial excitement of getting into hardcore (according to me) technical exercise, I discovered one important fact about Ham Radios – I cant broadcast unless I obtain license! This led me to speculate whether I will / will not be able to test the radio. Well, in the process, I ofcourse googled extensively and came up with several resourceful websites including GOI sponsored Vigyan Prasar. In fact there are several local sites including MARS, ARSI, Ham Radio India and international ones like HFRadio, American Radio Relay League and really hundreds of others with LOT of information. But I found most of them too advanced for my understanding. There are many amateur radio operators, thats for sure 🙂 and many with their own websites and resources. Given the exodus of technical knowledge and super technical queries about radio instruments I was bound to feel a bit foolish about asking my basic queries on these various boards. True, institutions like MARS infact conduct coaching classes in Mumbai, but I’d rather go through all of this on my own. Fortunately, Vigyan Prasar came to my rescue, with study material which looks much better on the face of it than some sites actually offering training pdfs on making your own printed circuit board at home! (scary!!). Vigyan Prasar’s study material has been exclusively prepared for the exam held by Ministry of Communications to give out a license – Amateur Station Operator’s Certificate.
Additionally, I discovered on net a book call Ham Radio for Dummies. Yeah, well, might as well accept my limitations 🙂 But I couldnt lay my hands on a paperback version of this book here, which would have been India edition and hence much cheaper. This whole exercise is entirely for amusement and hence not meant as something involving lot of money etc… well, on with my studies now.
I admit, I have too many interests, rather, I get interested in too many things too soon… I would rather not call them interests. Interests are probably carefully cultivated. But I’m your typical ‘wannabe-jack-of-all-trades’. Someone interested in useless trivia and random pursuits from time to time, which last for a week, a month, couple of months, thats all. Some might say I’m prone to fads, but I’m unapologetic. There are just too many things out there that I should know of / be a part of! May be my fascination with them is transient. It might not last long enough to become a serious interest/hobby- still I find it a great pleasure being a been-there-done-that, and I seem to be fascinated with just too many things. I hope this prologue would be sufficient enough to describe my proposed current pursuit, namely the HAM Radio.
Amateur Radio or ham radio sounds challenge for now. I must admit this, I was totally unaware that there was such a movement, that there were numerous ham radio clubs, that there was in fact a detailed out plan by Government of India to formalize the ham radio movement. True, we’d seen ‘Maydays’ and ‘SoSs’ in too many movies, but I was surprised to discover that many Mumbaiites were in fact pursuing this as some kind of hobby, that they infact had MARS of their own and had been of tremendous help during 26 July mishap. The fact that a housewife, a retired person or even a school-kid may brew his/her own radio at home promises that the technical knowledge, rather understanding basics of it would not be very hard. It gives me additional kick to imagine that I shall be able to build it on my own with ‘nada’ level of knowledge of electronics at present, though I plan to rope in some friends with engineering background from time to time for some gyaan on this whole concept… well, atleast let me challenge myself into doing something I’ve never done before. I plan to build this radio by next month towards may end/ june beginning and hope to post here my progress on it! If I understand the whole concept and am able to tackle it that is…
I had wondered whether there could be a web – based laundry service in one of my old posts. Well, 2 days back I was checking my email and happened to check my b-school mailing group folder after a long time. I came to know that one of my batch-mates has actually started such a laundry service! When I mentioned this to one of my colleagues at work, she happened to mention that IFB already had similar service in select few cities. Honestly, I was not aware of it but I thought, it was still a largely unknown concept in India and would work too well in cities like Gurgaon, Hyd, Bangalore etc where a large number of young professionals are from other cities, live in PG/ rented arrangements and may not be able to hire a household help either due to their odd schedules or trust issues or simply due to scarcity of good helps…
Anyways, one more person I know starts his own venture…I remember how many business ideas we would think of during b-school days…some downright stupid and meant as diversion from our hectic schedule…some which made sense from time to time. We had plans right from owning a chain of photocopy – printout centers across Mumbai 🙂 whats with our constant trips to nearby photocopier during exam days to sale of exotic flowers to a concept of future fungibility between various forms of payments and mobile phone balances.. imagination without bounds and lots of pressure to earn marks/prizes out of this, with every b-school coming up with a business plan competitions. Gone are those days…
These days, honestly, I must admit to myself, the only time I think about such things is after a bad day at work…when I wish I could be my own master. Yeah, like most of my batch – mates, even I had dreamt of a business of my own at 35 etc…but almost 4 years of work-ex post my PG has had me grounded to a great extent…so now I truly appreciate the guts of all those who left their high-paying jobs and took risk of being their own masters. It must be challenging and heady stuff…though very scary! Kudos!!