Friday, December 31, 2010

Last post of 2010!!

I have been tweeting a lot for the past two days. Not that it can make up for blogging, but let me try and pass this as an excuse.. :)

You can catch me on Twitter

I know 2011 is going to be good. Things can get only better. See you in 2011, with more plans, more hope and more luck.

If 2010 was not so good, hang in there. Trust me, it works.

Love,

Gauri

Monday, December 27, 2010

Freedom fighter dies at 106

Ganga Ba Patel, a freedomfighter and staunch Gandhian till the last day of her 106 years, died at 6.30 am on Sunday.


Ganga Ba was close to my mother's family. "I have never seen her in anything but white khadi clothes. Nor do I remember seeing her wearing any ornaments, not even a bindi. And she was always a skinny woman, never have I ever seen her put on weight. She walked a lot, always walked to our house, even till recently. She ate extremely simple food, without any spices. At her house, we were always served buttermilk, milk, rotlo* and such stuff. Whenever we went to her house, she was always busy doing physical work, be it milking cows, cleaning up the yard. Afterwards, when age made this difficult, she was always alert and supervising the household chores", says Miki Desai, my maternal uncle.

Gangaba's husband and my grandfather were close friends. When her husband was jailed, Ganga Ba's interaction with the Desai family grew and she soon became an integral part of the extended family. She also grew very close to grandfather's mother, Hari Ba.

"She was the 'grand old lady' who could tell anybody anything. She called my father by his name, Chandu. She could tell any man what she wanted to, be it my father, my uncle, us when we grew up. She could call us and ask us to shut up, or do this instead of that. She spoke a lot about women, how important it is for them to be strong and independent," says Miki, his recollection of the strong woman taking him back to his ancestral home and people in Nadiad.

Baba and my uncle had gone to meet Ganga Ba at her residence around March 2010. Ganga Ba had stopped walking her usual long distances, but was as alert as ever. "She had a very mischievous smile and was in perfect control over the household," remembers my father about the last meeting. Before this, they had met Ganga Ba about five years ago at the funeral of a grandmother from the extended family. At 100, Ganga Ba had walked about half a mile to attend the ceremony, talked with everyone concerned in an astute, attentive way.

I do not have any memory of meeting her. But would love to believe I have met her. As a child playing somewhere with dozens of cousins in the sprawling backyard, running about without a care, only to be caught in the spindly hands of an old lady.

"Eyy chhokri. Koni baby chhe?"** Ganga Ba may have asked, her commanding eyes twinkling with mischief.

"Nayana ni". I would have said and run away...

Yes, I would like to believe I have met Ganga Ba.


-Gauri Gharpure

* Rotlo- Thick roasted bread made from pearl millet
** "Eyy girl, whose daughter are you?"
"Nayana's".

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year-end Post 8- Ame Amdavadi

Aapnu Amdavad!!



The city I love, the city that loves me back.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Year-end post 7: A tag...

Let me take you through 2010 as it were for me.

For each month of the year, I am going to select and link a post that set the tone for that month. May be throw in some extra words... I shall treat this as a tag, and everyone who does take this up, has to tag this post in return and drop in a comment saying they have documented their "Year in posts"...

January 2010

And another day begins

Bitter though the night was, that was the beginning of a new dawn. At that point in time, I didn't know. As I look back, I am thankful.

February

By saying Hello, I promised myself a few things. Tough as it was, I made sure it worked.

March

Discovering Gabriel Garcia Marquez


Trust good books and old friends to say some magic words.

April

My Sorrow is Not for Sale

This was the only post in the month of April. I survived...

May

No posts this month. As I look back, it was one of the busiest times in my life.

June

Seesaw

In June, it seems, I came back to blogging in a sense. There were two food posts and I introduced my new pet Yahoo to you. But 'Seesaw' is what the month, on the whole, was like. Love this haiku...

July

Divaso judaai na

I heard this ageless gazal by Gani Dahiwala with a new consciousness. Rather than making me sad, Md. Rafi's voice gave me strength. I identified with clarity my 'swajan' and I was already with them! Also in July, I bonded with my brother and we talked talked talked like crazy. A month of memories.

August

Another no-post month. I was on a mission, never have I focussed on something so earnestly, with such a dogged will. No time for blog, no time for friends... Err, no, I met a dear old friend for the first time in August. :)

September

Another year older, many years wiser.

Some of you had said kind things to buck me up. Your wishes and your prayers worked. In September, I met my old self again.

Can widowed women wear gajra? I spoke my mind and you liked it.

October

This month was exactly sliced up into halves for me. The second half was fun mainly because the first half was super fun..

Happy Dussera

November

Let's sing a new song

November embraced me with hope. Everything seemed to be falling in place, everyone seemed to be my side, my friends, my teachers, my family.. Gauri was happy and decided she would be so in the time to come.

December

I guess this post itself sets the tone for the last month. I have looked back and am looking ahead. I shall be.

***

I tag Dharma, Sangeeta, Dhiren, Swaram, Mahendra, Atul, IHM, G, Doremi, Poonam... And anyone who feels like taking this up.

Please tag me back and drop a comment when you do this.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Year-end post 6

Sunshine does cheer you up. Even for a person like me, who has grown up braving the scorching, angry Amdavadi sun, sitting out right in the sunbeams on a sun-heated floor still ranks highest as one of the simple pleasures of life. As this morning unfolds, I ask myself several questions. How will sun shine on me in 2011? That's the gist of all the innumerable questions that occupy me now.

There's the question of truth, how we analyse our truths and how far we are ready to go to defend them. Having always gone the extra mile to be with what I have believed in, 2011 should definitely be fun on the truth (and all such things) front.

Next comes the question of trust. Should you continue to nurture the innate trust in human goodness that you were born with or should you let the brutality of the real world shake your faith? Will I be able to trust that stranger who smiles at me for no particular reason as he crosses the road? Will I smile back? Will 2011 make me conscious, cautious and thrifty with my smiles? Moving on in the same dimension, comes the question of finding trust in the people around you. Mind you, out of the many acquaintances you may have, only some are friends and out of those friends, only a select few are around forever. Is it worthwhile trusting outside this circle of people? But then again, life puts certain conditions under which trusting is the only option. In 2011, will my equation with trust change?

And the question that frightens me the most.

Will I change in 2011?

...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Year-end post 5: Sharmila Irom

I read a powerful, passionate piece on Manipur's Sharmila Irom. She is fasting for ten years now to demand the repeal of the AFSPA- Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

You will find details of the misuse of the special act in this Tehelka article, but let me tell you something I remember.

On the desk, we selected stories from North-east editions of TOI published a day before for our early edition. I distinctly remember the stories following the killing of Sanjit Singh and a pregnant woman. The follow-ups, the spate of protests, police rebuttal and anger, violence went on for months. My job made it necessary for me to read through all these stories, select and present it to readers in the districts of West Bengal. Ironically, we did not have enough space in our main edition to include even these culled, subbed versions of North-east mayhem. These stories, the continuous stream of violence and unrest in a part of my country unsettled me extremely. Some editions were so moving and so screaming for attention, it seemed as if our early and late editions too should have more space dedicated to this very real, sad and on-going conflict in the country. But no, the paper has a set pattern for various reasons.

Sharmila Irom, to me, is the epitome of feminine gentleness, strength and gumption. I have been hearing about her ever since I was in high school. She's the same frail woman, defying age and medical science with her grit. Ten years, the article says, has finished her. On a physical level, that is. It is something in her steeled psyche, something in her beliefs and goals, something about her consciousness that's keeping her alive. Sharmila, I want you to see the end of your battle and I pray. May 2011 bring you what you want.

Sharmila's protest is dignified with its silent, subtle plea for attention. We read about her, get moved and forget about her for a year or two when again her frail face catches out attention in a daily. It is then that we realise that we have moved on, but this woman is where she was. Alone and hopeful.

What Sharmila wants is not a qualified, select request. If her decade of going without food and water were to shame the state into concrete action, it would send a poignant message to both parties, the armed forces and the rebels, to give peace a chance.

Sharmila on Wikipedia

Photos of Sharmila

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Year-end post 4



Shoes maketh a woman...

Wordless Wednesday. Well, almost.

Year-end post 3

After Sundervan, I head to best buddy's. Christmas baking. For all the times I have drooled on food blogs, this is ironically the first I am trying to bake something. And today was mostly "assistantship" so to say. She had some strange lime cake in mind and we have managed to put together something that looks very very tempting in batter form. Everything ready and we discover the oven is out of order. BB's going to her neighbour's place to use their oven. Yours truly is using up the time to freeze the memory of her first baking.

I guess the party's already on...



Photo added on Jan 2, 2011

Year-end post 2

After more than a decade, I go to Sundervan. Friend's out shopping and I have to while away some time. Pani puri would just take five minutes. On a whim, I decide to go inside the park where my parents took me on innumerable evenings. There's something special about reliving childhood.

You grow old, but age in itself remains constant. The traits of being young and foolish are universal. As I see two-year olds running about without shoes, pinching each other to tears and swinging on swings as if to touch the sky, I know I left nothing behind, everything is the same. May be in the years to come I will live each moment that I lost to the past. May be, some day when I become a mother, I will become a child again. May be...

But for now, there's the heady lure of youth waiting for me. And as this year ends, I promise myself I will stay truthful to my youth.

Let the party begin...




Collage made and added on Jan 2, 2011

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Countdown begins

Just 10 days to go for 2010 to end. And I notice this has been one of my lowest-post years on Life Rules. It's a different story that I wrote some posts exclusively for Internation Musings and then some on Short and Sweet, but hey! This blog is the fulcrum and it deserves special treatment.

Beginning today, I am going to try and post here, as many pieces as I can. Photos, drawings, twitter-like messages enforcing strict economy of words on myself, and so on. I thank you for journeying with me in 2010, you made a difference, you know, even if you, my anonymous reader, have no idea how...

Here goes the first such year-end post:



Drawn yesterday. When I can't express myself in words or voice, I take refuge in colours. I immensely loved this drawing. You tell me how you like it...

Also, tell me what are those hopes, colours and wishes with which you would like to usher in 2011.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Handmade products for sale

Shalika Lakshmi is a platform to provide unique handmade products.

Handmade bookmarks: Available in more than 50 different designs. Each bookmark is made freehand, and so no single piece will be exactly the same. Use of handmade paper and colourful tassels adds to the beauty of Shalika Lakshmi products.



I hope that bibliophiles will appreciate the minute detailing that has gone into the making of each bookmark and that my products will add to your reading experience.

Introductory price: Rs 100 for a pack of five.

Greeting cards: I have made Christmas cards, and cards with floral designs etched freehand, cut and paste on a paper of an appealing colour.



Introductory price: Rs 150 for a pack of five



Introductory price: Rs 125 for a pack of five.

Gift tags: Floral / freehand / geometric designs cut and pasted on papers of complementary colours. Single sided with enough space for name and message. Ideal for those people who want their gifts perfect in every way..



Price: Rs. 50 for a pack of five.

Delivery anywhere within India is possible. Products can also be delivered elsewhere provided a wholesale order is placed. Shipping and service charges extra. For suggestions / inquiry / orders, mail to gauri(dot)gharpure(at)gmail(dot)com

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let's sing a new song

It's been a while since I laughed so much, I cried.
Since I dreamt of dreams
Of love, roses and pink skies.
It's been a while and it's time to sing some new songs.

Let's sing a new song...

-GG

Monday, November 22, 2010

None

I am too happy today and i won't tell you why. :P

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Look who came calling?

A peahen lays eggs on our terrace or in the vicinity of our house each year. There's a lot of excitement when the eggs hatch and chicks jump down*. Thus begins the first adventure of their life: to jump across our boundary wall and into the fields. This time, we saw three chicks.

Two chicks were stuck in a plot behind us and could find no way to escape. The neighbours gingerly caught them in a bucket and we released them in the fields adjacent to our house. The third, perhaps the youngest and the weakest, stayed behind, hidden somewhere. After a while, Baba heard its persistent calls in our garden.
"Mama, where are you?"

The peahen came back for this chick. She was constantly flying up to the wall and was urging the baby to climb one of the plants and jump out.

"Mama's here... Yippeee"

She then guided the chick to the other side, where there are more plants. From here, her baby could jump out easily.
"I will be a good boy now, promise!"

After about 15 minutes or so, we stopped hearing the baby's chirps and the mother's beckoning "quack quack". The chick had jumped outside and started a new life with its two siblings.

* Unlike chicks of other birds that have to be fed and raised for a month or two before they are able to exist independently, peacock chicks are nidifugous and leave nest minutes after hatching.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where you go

Something like happiness,
Where you go, how you evade me?

Here I am listless, dazed,
Hoping and waiting.
Something like happiness,
Where you go?

GG October 24 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dudh Pauva recipe for Sharad Poonam

A lot of readers have come here searching for doodh pauva recipe. I had mentioned it quite some time back in this post about some two-minute snacks i indulge in.

Here's a better, richer version for the doodh pauva you make for Sharad Poonam (or Kojagiri Purnima as we call it), an auspicious full-moon day in the Hindu calender. This recipe is not a two-minute thing though :) This is how my grandmother makes special masala milk for poonam. She spends a lot of time and effort to thicken the milk considerably due to evaporation. This involves a close vigil and constant stirring. I have never made this myself but sharing what I have seen her do, shortening the time to suit impatient souls like me.

Ingredients:

Pauva (flat rice flakes) - 1 cup (Washed well in potable water and kept aside soaked in little water minutes before serving. Washing a lot or soaking for a long period will make it mushy, and you don't want that)
Milk- 500 ml, preferably full fat
Kesar* strands- half a teaspoon
Elaichi*- 2-3, crushed to fine powder
Peeled soaked almonds- 6-7
Raisins (washed well and dried), Kaju*, Pista if available.
Sugar

First you must prepared flavoured (or masala) milk. For this, heat kesar in a thick steel spoon or cup for 10-15 seconds directly over the flame, do not burn and keep stirring with another spoon. The spoon / vadki* you have used to heat kesar will get hot, so handle with care. Crush the heated kesar well using another spoon. Add a spoonful of milk to this and set aside.

Boil milk in a heavy bottomed pan on low flame Add sugar (about two-three tablespoons should be enough, adjust according to taste) and stir constantly. Constantly. Bring to boil. Let it simmer and come to boil two more times, this should take about 10-15 minutes. Do not increase the flame, be patient and boil on low flame or you will burn the milk. I feel it's better to have hot, favoured milk than thick creamy evaporated milk that is badly burnt and so is useless.

About 2-3 minutes before switching off the burner, add chopped almonds, cashew, pista and raisins (whole) and elaichi powder. Also add some more milk to the soaked kesar you have kept aside and add this to the boiling milk. Make sure you up all the kesar extract in the cup.

With this, the flavoured milk part is done. We usually have just this.

Aaji soaks very little pauva separately for ceremony's sake sometime. Not everyone likes the taste of sweetened pauva, so I suggest you also do not add all the soaked pauva to flavoured milk at a time. Instead, you can add spoonfuls to milk as desired by guests. I like this milk (and pauva) chilled, many prefer it hot.


*Pauva / Poha / Cheere- Flat rice flakes used in many Indian snacks
Kesar- Saffron
Elaichi- Cardamom
Kaju- Cashew
Doodh- Milk
Vadki- A small (steel) bowl in Gujarati



Masala milk for doodh pauva that Aaji made on October 23, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Dussera...

After so many years, I am celebrating Dussera the Gujju way, with fafda and jalebi for breakfast. You have no idea how much I have missed these, and the delicious grated raw papaya chatni and fried green chillies that go with these deep-fried snacks..


Fafda, jalebi, cholafali ane papaya ni chatni

And then, my faithful two-wheeler got all the credit that's due to it on this day.


Am so used to zooming off on this, trying to drive a car seems cumbersome. After two paid driving lessons for a fortnight each, it's high time I start driving. But that would be unfair to my Activa...

***

So, how did you celebrate today? Happy Dussera!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Can widowed women wear gajra?

Lijit shows interesting statistics of searches that land people on my blog.



Can widowed women wear gajra? (Gajra = small floral garland worn in hair)

Several questions come to my mind when I come across similar seemingly trifle choices that are burdened with societal or religious stereotypes. I had written a post on the subtle social insistence of Nirmamish* food for widows in Bengal in some educated, forward families even today, in a post titled The Politics of Food. Now, when I read the keywords of this search, I asked myself:

1) Who is this reader?

2) Whom is he/she trying to find the answer for?
a) A relative b) Herself?

3) Why does the person seek an external justification / denial?

4) Who is qualified to answer the controversial 'Can' of the question?

a) Religion? b) Society? c) Family? d) an unknown blogger like me???

5)Is there any specific mention in a religious text to deny a widow such trivial pleasures?

6) If any such mention has been interpreted from the texts, is that fair? Or still applicable in the present context?

6 a) Can't human rationality question certain antiquated religious/societal diktats?
7) What significance do flowers and a gajra carry in an Indian woman's life?

8) Do flowers convey any specific romantic or spiritual message that makes daily life more enjoyable?

Many of the above questions are subjective and will have a different (and justifiable) solution each depending on each individual's set of beliefs... My concern is what happens when we stop making distinctions between personal thoughts and societal parameters. When we are unable to pinpoint our real feelings about a certain issue in juxtaposition to the 'accepted' social or intellectual norm...

Let me try and understand the rigid regulations imposed on widows in an early social context. Imagine India in the 1800s.

Girls were married off before 10, became mothers as early as 13 or 14. The British, whatever their imperial oppressions may be, did try and modify some such counterproductive social structures. I was shocked to read that Lokmanya Tilak vehemently opposed the progressive 1891 Age of Consent Act arguing that the British had no business interfering with an accepted "Hindu" practice. Today, intercourse with a 10-year-old girl is considered an unspeakable, loathsome crime.

So dejected was Raja Ram Mohan Roy when his reformist articles in Sambad Koumudi were booed down by the powerful Brahmin lobby, that he gave up publishing his newspapers. Though he was monumental in getting the *Sati ban implemented in Bengal, the practice continued for many years to come.

Every society hides skeletons in its closet. Because of the grace of social and religious sanctions on many immoral and unfair past practices, we are uncomfortable discussing the injustices meted out to Hindu widows. In my understanding, food restrictions for widows were meant to restrain a widow from eating 'tamasic' food that might rekindle her worldly desires. Drab clothing and tonsured heads served to make her look as unappealing as possible. Seclusion ensured that she was not violated. All these measures to safeguard a vulnerable woman from the lust of society and predators even in the immediate family invariably failed. And so the *Sati system. There is logic in each of this restriction which is a consequence of the previous. But in general, all such restrictions boiled down to this : One less mouth to feed, one more woman to manipulate. A simple solution was widow remarriage and this reform took gargantuan efforts by a brave few to be socially relevant.

Jyotiba Phule and his wife were ostracized and abused when they tried to educate girls in the mid 1800s. And yet, the seed of reform Jyotiba and Savitri sowed was instrumental in slowly removing orthodoxy from Maharashtra's lower and middle-class, as opposed to the state of affairs in Bengal where intellectual stimulation, debates and reform largely remained a prerogative of the elite.

Discussed above was a larger picture of society and how it dealt with widows in the 1800s. Coming back to 2010 and the specific question of wearing a gajra. In those times, a widow thinking of wearing a gajra would have been beaten black and blue. My surprise is that you, my dear reader, are prodding the question almost 200 years later, in an age virtually suffocated by individual freedom. What is wrong with you??

Let me put it thus: Flowers, kumkum, colourful sarees, ornaments are all a woman's means of expression of happiness, vitality, joy and hope. Mirra Alfassa even believed that flowers are a means of delving into a divine, spiritual nature. When a woman is widowed, it is but natural that her grief causes her to reject these on her own for the immediate period of loss. But should her initial expression of sorrow continue to dominate her life ever after? Who has the right to decide what manner of grieving is suitable and accepted for a widow? Not me and you, not at least in this time and age.

Regulation and restrain is central to a civilized society that must function smoothly. But equally important is freedom of thought and deed. A woman is infinite times more vulnerable than a man and so she needs infinite times more understanding and support from the society. Within the ambit of the topic of this post (gajra or not) I think it's high time that we shake ourselves off from the hangover of irrelevant social and religious codes of conduct.

If you ask me, yes, a widowed woman can wear a gajra. For even if she is a widow, she doesn't stop being a woman. And like my father once said, to look beautiful is a woman's birthright...


* Niramish: Food made without onion, garlic and non-vegetarian ingredients

* Old custom of a widow immolating herself (with consent or forcefully) on the pyre of her husband. As many as three Sati cases were reported in India after 1987, the latest as recent as in 2008.


Edited to add on October 10, 2010

Have you seen Water (2005)?



An attempt by Canadian filmmakerDeepa Mehta to portray the inhumane restrictions on Hindu widows in this film met with stiff resistance from Hindu political activists. Following violent protests, the filming was banned in India. The production was delayed for five years. Mehta persevered and shot in Sri Lanka instead of Varanasi. Lisa Ray, John Abraham and Srilankan child artiste Sarala Kariyawasam essayed the characters beautifully. The result was a poignant depiction of stark, painful reality that many wanted to ignore like an ostrich.

What I want to say is this: Our religion is too open, beautiful and vast. Acceptance of such bitter truths won't in any way reduce its glory..

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A party for four

I had planned a homely little party for four.

P
For starters I made potato-cheese balls shown on a Marathi cookery show called 'Aamhi Saare Khavayye'. I also deep-fried baby corns in the same pepper-cornflour batter used for potato wada. Strawberry jam squeezed on Monaco biscuits topped with cheese gave a namkin* touch.

For the main course was Khoya mutter, with khoya made from milk-powder in microwave. Thank you Sangeeta for this quick, hygienic and delicious trick. On the side were butter corn and onion-mushrooms. Yellow and red capsicums, which I used for the first time, added a brilliant dash of colour to these items.

For the dessert, I made mango ice cream using this super-easy recipe given on Homecooked .



*Namkin = Sweet-sour-salty snacks
* Khoya= Granule-like remain after milk is boiled at length and finally evaporated. Used in a majority of Indian sweets
* Mutter= Green peas


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ganesh Chaturthi 2010 and delicious Olan

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi and I bow down to Ganapati with all humility and hope. My grandmother decorates the little family idols very aesthetically each day, but special occasions call for special tribute.



Ganesha is also called Vighnaharta or Vighneshwar, the one who removes obstacles. Vighna means obstacles in Sanskrit. He is prayed first before starting an important task, be it laying the foundation stone of a house, starting a business or anything ambitious that needs the grace of God.



God has not disappointed me thus far. In spite of the many obstacles, there's this faith that things will eventually be fine and they have. So, as we embark on a series of festivities and auspicious dates from today, I resolve to maintain my enthusiasm and faith in the time to come. Ganesha, continue to protect me, my family and my loved ones.



Ganapati is also the official foodie of all Gods, so the huge tummy. Therefore the name Lambodar... Talking about food, I made Olan today, following Maiji's recipe given in a beautifully written nostalgic post. The 82-year-old is a very active blogger and you must read her blog Memories and Musings - Life in Pondicherry. (You may want to read an article on other senior citizens who are active bloggers in this article. I wrote it almost a year back)

Olan is a popular dish made in Kerala with pumpkin, coconut milk, green chillies and curry leaves being the main ingredients. Add potatoes and green beans to enhance the flavour.



I made a few changes in Maiji's recipe though. I started with a tadka of jeera*, hing*, curry leaves and one slit green chilli in ghee*. Then I added potato, sauted it for 1-2 minutes and added about 2-3 cups of water. After five minutes, I added long beans and followed the recipe till the end. We usually grind green chillies in a mixer with salt and lemon juice and use this paste in all dishes.. In addition to the slit green chilli in the tadka, I used about 2-3 spoonfuls of this paste in the Olan I prepared, for the coconut milk, pumpkin and potatoes give the dish a slightly sweetish bend. Adjust according to taste.

I surfed several Olan recipes online and none mention the tadka, instead, all call for pouring 2-3 spoonfuls of coconut oil towards the end. But, even if the tadka version may not be authentic, I assure you it turns out every bit as delicious.



* Jeera= cumin, Hing = Asafoetida and Ghee = clarified butter.

** Do not use photos without permission.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Divaso judaai na- Gani Dahiwala- A translation

Gani Dahiwala, born August 17, 1908 was a Gujarati poet with numerous soulful gazals to his credit. I heard this particular gazal being hummed by my father when quite a child. Baba even met Mr. Dahiwala at his residence in Surat sometime in the early 70s (Dahiwala died on March 5, 1987). Recently, the lines from Divaso judaai naa were quoted by a friend on a social-networking site. Years show things in different, if not better, light and now I could appreciate the melancholy of the song much better. What's more, on You Tube, I found it sung by Md. Rafi...



It has been immensely challenging to even attempt a translation and I have been putting away the idea for a good few months now. Last evening, though, things started moving and today, I have here with me an English translation. It is not literal, and it is in a way in which the words make meaning to me.

The stanza "Tame raank na chho ratan..." was particularly hard. I asked my father for help but I could not relate to his interpretation and so, here it is in the form that makes sense to me.

This translation is a super-micro effort to make Gujarati poets / works more accessible on the net. It was disappointing that there aren't many online archives to document Gujarati poets and authors. This observation, though, I admit, is limited to the Google search I did for Dhoomketu, Gani Dahiwala and Kavi Kalapi... But I take the risk of assuming that yes, database on Gujarati works is limited — translations rarer.

Here goes the translation:

Divso judaai na jaye chhe
Ae jashe jaroor Milan sudhi
Maro haath jhali ne lai jashe
Muj Shatruo j swajan sudhi


I am certain the days of separation will lead to union;
With my hand in theirs, my enemies will lead me to my loved ones...


Na dhara sudhi na gagan sudhi
Na unnati na patan sudhi
Fakt aapne to jau hatu
Ek mek na man sudhi...


I didn’t aim for the earth or the sky,
Nor did I want to witness the abyss that comes after a pinnacle.
All I wanted was for us to know each other’s hearts.


Tame raank na chho ratan samaa
na malo ey aansuo dhool ma
Jo araj kabool ho aatli
to hriday thi jaao nayan sudhi


You are like a jewel desired by the destitute, (so) those tears of disappointment are vain...
If only you could accept this little request, try knowing first by the heart and then with eyes...

Tame raaj rani na cheer sam
Ame rank naar ni chundi,
Tame raho tan par ghadi be ghadi
Ame saath daiye kafan sudhi...


You are like the attire of a queen, I am the rags worn by a tramp.
You stay on the body but momentarily, I accompany till the grave.


Jyare hriday ni aag wadhi Gani,
Khud Ishware j kripa kari
Koi shwas bandh kari gayu
Ke pavan na jaye agan sudhi...


When it became too unbearable, God himself came to my rescue,
Someone cut off my life breath, or no one’s stoking my desires any more...


Translated by Gauri Gharpure, July 28, 2010

If you like this, also read and listen to my English translation of Bela Bose by Anjan Dutt

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

My post published in a Mysore newspaper



Photo Credit: G V Krishnan

The Mysore Mail is now publishing posts by bloggers of The Mysore Blog Park fraternity every Sunday. This July 4, my post Pros and Cons of Selective Blogging was taken up, along with Abraham Tharakan and Anjali Philip's lovely articles...

:)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gol-Kaanda-Keri / Tangy raw mango, onion, jaggery mix



I wanted to post this recipe since a long time. Gol-kaanda-keri is made in Gujarat a lot when summer is at its peak. The ingredients are a combination believed to safeguard from sunstroke and dehydration. We use it as a chutney, but there is no grinding involved, so I am not sure if this qualifies as a chutney.This is one of the few recipes from my mother whose taste we can reproduce quite well.

Recipe:

Grate a medium-sized raw mango and a largish onion. The onions I used were too small, so I chopped them. You can either chop or grate onions, but the original recipe calls for grating. Take about 2-3 large cubes of jaggery and using a knife, flake it in the bowl you will prepare the chutney.



Add grated mango, onion, salt to taste and a generous amount of red-chilli powder. This mix tends to water a lot and in less than five minutes, you will be able to mix all the ingredients well in the small bowl. Do not go less on the jaggery, sweet and sour tastes must be in perfect balance, if not more on the sweetish side. This is meant for Gujju taste as well as climate, but I think it is very interesting due to its mix of ingredients. Give it a try sometime...



Question

Should I post recipes on a separate blog or write here itself. Please share your suggestions..

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Seesaw

Life's lately been a
seesaw. Up down Up again.
What more can I say?

:)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kachi keri ni chatni / Raw Mango Chutney

Food restores me like nothing else. And now that my blog is being neglected quite a bit, I thought I might as well break the silence with a few recipes.



Now, I feel chutney is something that hardly needs a recipe, mango, mint and coriander are the very basic ingredients. But then, I feel cooking is not about knowing what to cook and how, it is rather a process of being inspired to cook, on as regular a basis as possible, so that on your platter you have different variations of even the basic comfort food.

The sight of good food can compel you to take efforts in your kitchen too. That's why I keep reading so many food blogs. These wonderful women — Sailu, Shilpa, Shahana, Nupur, Indira, Sangeeta, and the valuable exception Mr Ushnish Ghosh — they work up such magic, that I have to admit that if I care to cook a little more than I used to, it's because of the interest they have inspired in me. I hope this mention of a humble chutney will inspire you to try out many different tangy-hot versions yourself..

Recipe:

The photo is of the mint-mango variety.

In a mixer, grind about 50 gm of chopped mint, half a raw mango, two green chillies, teaspoon of jeera (cumin), salt and sugar with very little water. I always grind all the ingredients without water first and then slowly add 2-3 tablespoons of water while grinding for the 2nd or 3rd time.

I found that instead of mint, coriander goes better with raw mango. The same recipe, using about 50 gm coriander instead of mint tasted infinitely better and retained a wonderful raw green colour that I am so fond of.

Add 2-3 cloves of garlic to the above mix, and you get another splendid taste. However, avoid using sugar when using garlic.

Note: I am not too specific about the quantity of coriander and mango. Use up whatever is available with you, adjust spices accordingly and you will get tasty variants each time. For example, if you use red-chillie powder instead of green chillies and use roasted cumin powder with garlic, the taste is very different.

Prepared thus, and stored in a clean bowl in the fridge, the chutney can last for 3-4 days. It will thicken / dry up and if you want, you can grind it again in a mixer with a little water and salt/chillie to taste after a day or two.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

If I were


If I were a month, I’d be September !

If I were a day of the week, I’d be Saturday !

If I were a time of day, I’d be Dawn!

If I were a season, I’d be Summer !

If I were a planet, I’d be Mercury !

If I were an animal, I’d (like) to be a Woman (again)!

If I were a direction, I’d be West !

If I were a piece of furniture, I’d be a Bench under a tree !

If I were a liquid, I’d be Nimbu pani!

If I were a tree, I’d be a Neem Tree !

If I were a tool, I’d be Long-nosed Plier !

If I were an element, I’d be Gold!

If I were a gemstone, I’d be Ruby!

If I were a musical instrument, I’d be Sanza!

If I were a color, I’d be Light green !

If I were an emotion, I’d be Hope !

If I were a fruit, I’d be an Orange !

If I were a sound, I’d be the sound of birds !

If I were a car, I’d be ...?? !

If I were food, I’d be Khichdi Kadhi !

If I were a taste, I’d be Sweet and Sour !

If I were a scent, I’d be Anais Anais !

If I were a pair of shoes, uggh!

If I were a bird, I’d be a Lovebird !

If I were a Fast bowler, I’d be kicked out of the team!

& If I were a Batsman, I’d be kicked out of the team!

Saw this done by Dhiren and immediately got at it...Swaram, Anu and G you might like doing this..

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My sorrow is not for sale



My sorrow is not for sale,
Nor for exhibition.
Yet I end up auctioning my tears
The devil bids the highest.

GG. April 13.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Remembering Bhagat-Sukhdev-Rajguru, Ram Manohar Lohia, Kanu Sanyal and Tagore's Tota Kaahini

March 23, 2010 is the 79th death anniversary of Sukhdev Thapar, Shivaram Rajguru and Bhagat Singh and 100th birth anniversary of Ram Manohar Lohia. Today morning, Kanu Sanyal, a leading figure of the Naxalbari movement and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), was found dead in his house. Initial reports suggest that the 78-year-old communist hanged himself. I would not have known about Sanyal, or remembered the martyr trio and R M Lohia, but for Vinod Dua's 9.30 news slot on NDTV India.

Seems unnerving that these Indian intellectuals, who remained staunch in their varied beliefs till the end, should be united in their life and death by this trivial, albeit uncanny coincidence.

On March 23, 1931
Three youths died
shouting slogans till their last breath
to keep the revolution alive.
More than six decades of sleep later,
they perhaps still scream in their graves:
Wake up.


Sadly for someone like me, a person born in a free, lethargic nation disillusioned with politics and corruption, the driving force of legends like Bhagat Singh that propelled them to defy leadership with such unflinching confidence can only generate awe, surprise and disbelief.

I feel alarmed and disgusted with the way Maoist cadres and socialist parties are behaving in recent times. My brush with die-hard communists has been limited to invisible and continuous waves of masses of thousands of people rushing towards Esplanade on foot or on trucks that make their presence felt by choking the traffic of even the city's most far-flung corners and its every single arterial road. They speak the same tune, argue the same logic and could be just as loyal to their cause as thousands of young men and women may have been during the freedom struggle more than six decades ago.

Any movement seems just when it takes birth. Slowly, the movement becomes the organ itself, the mission gets sidelined and finally buried under layers of big, hollow talk. Perhaps Rabindranath Tagore had envisioned the way the Communist movement (or any other governing mechanism as such) would end up as long back and had tried to warn the masses with his harmless-looking short story called Tota Kaahini or The Parrot's Tale.

To me, this story has wise metaphors. The foolish parrot is the uneducated, ignored mass of faceless people. The expensive gold cage, sham education, revelry and rigmarole is the all-powerful state machinery that tactfully misleads the masses from their objective. The fault-finder is a person who still has the ability to see and speak the truth - and so is a nuisance.

The biggest sorrow is that with time, people with strong, honest ideals (and not blind transfer of faith into a glorious-looking mass-movement) are becoming a rarity. The country is producing generations of self-engrossed young men and women (including me) each more below-average than the previous.

A dear teacher once confided in a casual, sad remark — "Since the past few years, all the new batches seem worse than the previous ones." Another teacher had also pointed out the same degeneration. "My old students would make my palms sweat with their string of questions. You people just eat up my words without arguing," he had sighed. Have we become a race that is too lazy and/or meek to ask and argue?

I hope that at least for the time we remember people like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, our sleeping conscience urges us to be as truthful and courageous as we can be in our daily affairs.

I end with an edited excerpt from Bhagat Singh's prison diary. Courtesy Wikipedia.

"The aim of life is ... not to realise truth, beauty and good only in contemplation, but also in the actual experience of daily life..."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Discovering Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I introduced myself to Gabriel Garcia Marquez during my visit to Crossword in December 2009. I got Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude to begin with.

Have read Love in... and must say that overall, I liked the book. More than the story, which I thought is marred by incidents of passion used as a stop-gap arrangement, I loved reading Garcia's description of places and people.

The chapters on the Paramaribo parrot and Fermina's varied pets are entertaining. That the parrot got excited seeing the pretty maids amused me no end. Dr. Juvenal Urbino's patient lessons to teach the bird Latin and French were also impressive, given my personal indulgence with all things animal. Marquez writes in a splendid style, extremely detailed and full of the darker sides of human character.

Talking about the storyline as such, I did not like Florentino Ariza's character, especially with the consequences of his last fling. It's a book you must read once, though not quite one that you can read again and again.*

I have really liked the novella Of Love and Other Demons. It makes for a quick reading with about 150 pages of power-packed writing. The preface, in which Marquez has explained how a reporting assignment in 1949 sowed the seed of this story, is extremely intriguing. Another fast read is a collection of stories titled Innocent Erendira and Other Stories, about 160 pages. I liked reading Innocent Erendira (the theme is presented as a short paragraph in One Hundred Years of Solitude) but somehow, Gabriel Garcia Marquez seems to end on a note of emotional cruelty each time.

The winner is Memories of My Melancholy Whores, one of the Nobel winner's most recent works. In one line, the story begins with a 90-year-old requisiting the services of a virgin. This adventure introduces him to something like love.

For the benefit of my readers, I quote some lines I found extremely poetic from this novel.

"Make no mistake: peaceful madmen are ahead of the future."

"Sex is the consolation you have when you can't have love."

...Morality, too, is a question of time, she would say with a malevolent smile...

"Whenever someone asks I always answer the truth: whores left me no time to be married."

*Edited to add: I am reading much more of Marquez now, and admit that my mind goes back to Love in the Time of Cholera. Definitely something I would read again. April 12, 2010.

***

So then, which are the new good books you have discovered?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Life rules, and how...

My blog is my salve. It's been some time now that it is keeping me company like a soulmate in those unearthly hours long after midnight and much before dawn .

There's this aversion to write analytically about current, disturbing issues. Similar to wanting to see a fun, masti movie instead of one with moral highgrounds once in a while.

For example, barely a few days after Shiv Sena blasted SRK for speaking up for a one-off comment in favour of Pakistani cricketers, my aaji pointed out that the party was mum when the Pakistani hockey team was playing India. Good blog-worthy point, I thought. Are controversies raised only when big finances (read SRK and cricket) are involved. Are controversies raked up only when big businesses can be held at ransom?

I could have read up and written, but I was not inclined to. I choose to focus on many other issues — extremely trivial but very personal...

Many more poems have filled up the little diary. My phone is busier than usual. My pets demand attention. I have discovered that I love gardening. We are coming closer, bonding better. It surprises me how life can take the turns you want. It surprises me even more how easy it is to let go and how difficult to hold on — or vice versa.

Some friends from the blogosphere have abandoned their blogs. It is an unfortunate loss to readers like me who take strength from their random, magical lives. Some new writers are coming to notice.

Life rules, and how? :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Somewhere

Somewhere alone, lonely
sleeps a weary soul.
Somewhere silent, sobbing
dreams a defeated soul.

Somewhere far away
lies are being woven,
truth being distorted.
Sleep. But how?

GG, Feb 21, Sunday

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pros and Cons of Selective Blogging

And I have been selfish. How many of you, who are into professions even remotely related to the communications or media have known this selfish phase?

It happened some months ago that I began using the security of pen and paper instead of the instant online gratification of blogging. I began doing this after many great sentences and ideas vanished with the fumes of traffic for not having something to jot them down on.

With time, I had a huge collection of items 150-200 words each. These pieces, which I consider some of my best thoughts, now smell in the yellowing pages of a small little diary. Nothing wrong, some of you may say, the old-fashioned diary/letters is far more romantic. But I thought I am being selfish when I said, 'No, this is not for the blog, preserve this for better times.'

There are big minus points of saving your words like a squirrel who stores nuts for the winter. She can hope to relax like a queen in the future, but the present is incessant legwork, no?

A diary is alright when it comes to prose. But it is much more difficult to keep poems locked in bound pages. Most of the poems I have here on my blog are impromptu inspirations, thought and penned from start to the end on the blog itself — Why Do We, for example. With such fluid dialogue possible on the blog, accumulating my thoughts on paper and imposing an incommunicado on them is like having a stomachache due to a deep dark secret you have been burdened with.

I remember having written a post on why I blog. Apart from getting the pleasure to write and improve my skill, the biggest reason was having a readership that is open to a dialogue, is receptive of my ideas. When I wrote that post, I didn't even have half the readers I have now.

Today, some readers can gauge even the slightest of discomfort in my words. There are people who say beautiful deep words of promise without knowing that they lift me up. From my blog, I have known the joy of associating with frank, like-minded people who are not afraid to disagree.

So, being selective with my writing on this space, my blog that has nurtured and humbled me for more than four years now and with people who take time out for me, makes me wonder if I am being selfish.

Tell me, have you ever indulged in selective blogging?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Hello...

For each one person who doesn't cooperate, you will find five who do. This is God's grace. Or if you are an atheist, this is your goodwill and efficiency that has earned you this support.
But I am not an atheist. My faith is unshakable. Even in my worst times, I have blamed and cursed him, but never broken my communication with him. So it be.
I might go on a break, I might flood this space with posts like never before. Keep in touch till then... :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

And another day begins

And another day begins
Sunrise so fresh
after the stench of night
that was unbearable, uncouth.

And another day begins
Birds sing as if no one died.

-Gauri Gharpure
Kolkata, Jan 16.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Uttarayan 2010

I keep reading Ahmedabad newspapers often and today being Uttarayan, I had to see the paper, with all those photos of families gathered on terraces, colourful kites, the talks of bor, sherdi and undhiyu...
I have come across an excellent article in the TOI's issue dated January 12, 2010. It's about an 86-year-old Ahmedabad-resident Homi Pestonji Ghadiyali who has flown kites every day, for most of his lifetime... The story has been written by Yogesh Chawda and the e-paper dated Jan 12 also has a very endearing photo of the octagenarian.
Read this story here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

How are you?

Even the light of the computer screen sparks a headache. The slightest sound, that of the rustling of a polythene bag, can trigger a ferocious fury. This, barely two days into the new year, seems unfair and jinxed.

Still here I am, writing for strangers and friends alike, writing for myself. For writing is the best medicine for me. Medicines, often as costly as the doctor thinks you can afford, have also been prescribed. Books ease up the tension that silence brings and radio gives the illusion of company. Strange working hours can make your system go upside down, inside out and yet, at the end of it, you love the liberty of daytime that the job offers. I am raring to go again to the incessant clicking of keyboards and the frequent references to the style book.

It's not just headaches and feeling low. There are things worth looking up to. I have been included in the Mysore Blog Park fraternity. The page rank, that had dropped to 3 some days back, is now again back at 4. Two-three more people now follow my blog. I will be well, soon. In the meanwhile, tell me how have you been...