Monday, December 16, 2013

Bihag , My best friend !

Bihag ..apparently means "walk in the sky " .

One of my all time favorite ragas . Can never get enough of it .

I always think of a  lavender  shade when I listen to Bihag   ..and to me Bihag also has the subtle scent of lavenders . So many krithis have been composed in this Raga ,though we get to hear very few in Concert circles . Maharaja Swathi Thirunal is said to have introduced this Raga to South Indian music. Papanasivan Sivan has quite a few to his credit too. I am in awe of Prof TRS and the fact that he could visualize a varnam in Bihag .. Vanajaksha . Otherwise a 'post thani ' thukkada song raga .

Like any other Dwimadhyama raga Bihag  conjures up an image of an odyssey to me , albeit vocal, where  the footsteps take unexpected, but  smooth turns . 

Someone has to actually say "saramaina maata lenthu ra tchsaalu tchsaalu ra .." when I am on a Bihag trip. But I always feel "samayamide ra saami  " for Bihag.

As I Pen this , am visualizing a  colorful  Bihag Bouquet .( all lavender , of course ! ) that stuns me .Which one flower from the bouquet can I pick and choose to showcase its beauty .. ?  
My Bihag  blooms - embracing   ever so benevolently,   thillana's  by Sri LGJ , Dr BMK . Shri MDR ..whatever be the pace-  fast , slow , medium  -  alongside  the thukaddas by Shri Papanasam Sivan , Neelakanta Sivan et all , While the Hindustani Bhajans by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and the krithi Smara janaka Shubha Charitha  peek out too and haunt me from the same bunch .

Hybrids abound in this bouquet ..what with  O S Arun ’s Hari Hari rama nama nanaramara judaku ..( Bhadrachala Ramadasar krithi ) Sheepishly I would like to call this a Bihag pettai rap! Or a stylish Misra Bihag in all its modern, trendy version – but with the same lavender hues and aroma , through Nanaam akhileshanu  Ghana sammuda - Maharaja  Swathi Thirunal  Bhajan rendered by Dr BMK .

So many Bihag buds in the bouquet .. Parama purusha by Narayana Theertar , Shree madhava vaasudevaa !- a version so beautifully rendered by Dr.Soumya capturing the essence of Bihag in all its glory only to be distracted by Aadum chidambaramo - a bhavam soaked Bihag by none other than  MS Amma . 

Now , yet another  lovely bloom begs for my attention  through a Lat uljha By Pandit Bhimsen  Joshiji  which  exposes the other side  of Bihag ! Rather the original, subtle  ,lavender shades by Pandits Channulal Mishra .. Ajoy chakraborty ..Chaurasia .  Ustad  Alauddin Khan’s  left- handed  bowing of  Bihag cant be left  far behind either .

Ever tried a Thaanam in Bihag ? Prince Rama Varma's Veena  thaanam in Bihag and aalaap immobilizes me for hours together playing in a loop . I choose to call  it Alpha level meditation . Need an equally melodious  Voletti garu Version to bring  me back to my world.

Bihag ! Capable of taking any form ..Krithi , Javali , Padam ..and  lending its scale to many  moods Shringaaram , Kaarunyam , Vaatsalyam ... Can you hear  Thottu , thottu  pesa  varaan ? By Periaswamy Thooran . Playing in my mind . Sorry! No external speaker attached  L 

Bihag ! Sounds  even more soulful  from an(y)  instrument ..String  or wind  .
While MSG ‘s strings  ties you down  to the ground  ..pondering  “idhu dhaano thillai Sthalam”  and makes you take a bow .

The wind   blows you out of this world while trying to frantically search for the “ Ni sa ga ma –pa ma ga ma ga”  pidi . Well  nothing  ‘mali”gnant  here .  It’s our  Flute Mali sir’s prowess  in a Bihag prasthaaram   which makes  you  discover  more  of Bihag . More lavender than lavender . !

Am I gushing  …shedding all  inhibitions ? ! That’s what   “Be hug”   my best  friend  does to me .  No. That was not a Typo . Feel  behugged  whenever  I listen to an authentic  Bihag.

While the colour and smell is Lavender , the feeling I associate with this Raga is that of abundance . Ironically it always , leaves me longing for more .

It has indeed  taken a lot of restraint  and self control to restrict  this post to Carnatic  songs in Bihag ..Quite  a few  Rafi , Kishore , Lata , KJY -numbers  are  waiting to pop out !

In yet another post , That !

Do listen to this whenever .. to get the feel , colour and smell of a Bihag Bouquet !

Friday, October 25, 2013

Glue-Me day !

That wasn't a typo in describing  Bangalore weather . It was a Perfect evening  , or so I thought listening  to MDR's Kedaram. Dinner done .

Heard a loud cry from my daughter and instinctively knew that it was time for our bi-annual visit to the emergency ward.

We are all so good at combat operations .Its amazing the precision with which we get ready . My son automatically takes on the role of the officer-in-command. He picked up the house keys and asked me to check if I had enough money , and was already near the lift while I picked up my purse and took my daughter along .

See, told you I am not an FB addict . Didn't update my status message and headed straight out.

All this happens without much talking . You have to hear it to believe it .

Now , for the details ! We as a family ,by default are the chosen candidates for one -in-a -million freak occurrences . So was this "glue-me" day ! Shakti squirted feviquik straight into her eyes while trying to close it . And that was it . She was screaming with pain and her eyelids got stuck with the glue forming a thick solid layer outside and a few drops inside which made her scream .My poor baby ..she was  such an angel after that till we met an ophthalmologist 3 hours after the incident.. all the while chanting our Buddhist prayer and asking me questions for which I wish I knew the answer .

Will I be able to see again ?
Will they operate my eye ?
Will I ever be able to open my eyes ?
Ma, you say everything happens for good what good is there in this ? Before I could say anything she spat out " don't say some bigger crisis is averted " .Sigh.

Over the years have learnt that you don't need to really answer  all their questions ..a hug is enough .

While I tried to wash it off with tap water , amidst her cries ,she instructed me to use warm water to loosen up the glue as cold water will make it solidify fast . It never occurred to me . Which is why at times like this I simply follow them and behave like a good soldier .

One of our neighbours  who saw the panicky lot asked if we needed any help. And without hesitating for even  a second, requested him to rush us to the nearest hospital . God bless this good Samaritan as I thought and asked his name ..Anton. Still amazed at why I thought of him as a "good Samaritan ".
That was like god's message that everything was going to be alright.

While my angel kept calm she  was crying with pain ...Sashvat and I urged her to cry more and were looking at her eyes to see if tears flowed out of that eye ...Not for a very long time ..and while waiting at the doc's saw the first drop of tear trickling out of that eye . Have never been so happy to see my daughter cry .

The opthalmologist who had just gone home  after duty came back all the way 45 minutes ..after what felt like 2 hours .

He was so composed and so good with the child and I  thanked god silently again . Without realizing the doctors presence my daughter with her eyes closed asked me , " Ma,  make sure he is MD and not just MBBS " ..Ah ..what a "sticky "situation I got myself into .
Wished  the earth could cave in and swallow me !
And if looks could kill , my DH's looks my way could have killed me -for teaching all wrong things to Children . LOL !

The handsome doctor had a nice wide grin and took it in his stride ..while we were at our silliest best .
A very efficient doctor indeed who  kept chatting with her as he trimmed her lashes albeit without warning her . She just got up and said "are you cutting my lashes ? will they grow back ?"
Role change . The doctor became ' patient ' now . 'Verb"ally !

And apologized for not telling her beforehand . She loved that gesture and started co-operating .
We were signaled to be quiet and be ready for something big ..and then he just pulled apart her eye-lids with his two hands .. She shrieked . The most painful moment for all of us .

Now with her eyes open and blood shod was difficult for him to continue the procedure ..She just wouldn't let him do anything leave alone taking out the glue from inside her eyes with tiny forceps ..

Agonising moments for all of us .All over . It is two days now and vision restored ,for my glue girl !

The conversation back home by the crazy bunch !

Shakthi : I wish he would trim the lashes of my right eye too, so that they will grow to the same length .

Sashvat : You are so lucky , I 've never been to an emergency ward.

Me: I am emotionally and physically drained out . I don't want to hear anything about the MD /MBBS sticky situation . Everyone knew whom it was addressed to .

DH : The silent pillar of strength always !

Have to confess. All this happened because she wanted to fix my gas lighter holder to the kitchen tile . For ever mercuric guilt meter .

This day will be  Glued to our memory ...while we  continue to live happily with more 'bonding '  !


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apartment Adda !

Statutory warning:

Only meant for people with a good SOH. Others: Please excuse. I know you will anyway read.

SOH =Sense of humour, before you let your imagination go back and forth.

Mrs . Groucho is saying Hello to everyone today with a smile. Am I hallucinating, I asked my friend .who muttered, " think it is her new hair cut, I mean style".

Phew ! And don't we all know what new hairstyles can do to our ego. Leave alone Groucho's. We go the length and breadth to make sure everyone notices it and try some deep sea fishing for a few compliments.

If this is the magical power of a new hair cut ..there is never a dull moment in a multistoried' apartment. Just the other day Mrs P and Mrs S  were having an argument while my backbencher friends and I got ready for some action packed moments.

Started off with well-rehearsed lines  of Mrs .P

Thought it worth documenting to aid apartment -dwelling - moms, with 7-year-old darlings:

Mrs:P - While I know, we shouldn't be getting into kids' fights, you must know how badly my son was hurt by your's with a stick yesterday. In fact, we thought of taking him to a Doctor for a Tetanus injection. ( Calls her son, to show his hurt and takes his right hand to show to Mrs S )'

"But ma, he hurt me below my knees, and I can't find the "boo-boo" now," says the son, the seven-year bundle of wonder.

The usual time -tested escape route for Mrs P would be to, hurriedly dig for her cell phone as if to attend an incoming call.

Of course, the phone doesn't  have to ring.

Cell Phones these days come with Silent, vibrator and such other escape modes.

And she did exactly that. Never the one to disappoint us. In fact, one can safely say, "your phone is vibrating !" precisely at that time and get away with it!

Having lived in apartment complexes all my life, I can almost say with gun precision why anybody is saying an out of turn "Hi" or "how are you "!

Reminds me of my college days when we (me and a bunch of back benchers ) used to guess whether it is a 'boxer' or a 'brief ' or a 'desi' version, by looking at a passer-by.

That was a real shocker to my DH. He is yet to hear the end of it.
Here is a representative list, not necessarily exhaustive. ( Under compilation, though )
Tried to give what symptom to look for,  the diagnosis which has never failed so far, and a 'silent'  prescription to get away from such ills.

  • A menacing hi, hello with no smile, means - the domestic help is on leave  - Scoot from the scene unless you want to hear a lecture on how maids these days are, and such other clichés.
          If your domestic help is also on leave, then you couldn't have asked for better company!
          Take her home for a cup of chai. And drown your sorrows.
  • An overtly friendly smile and a boisterous Hello, means- the child has cracked some exam, or won a prize in some competition - Congratulate and listen to "how it all happened when it was least expected.". ( Uh !?) 
  • Listen, only if you are sure it won't translate into a dressing down for your children. Do you have it in you, to resist comparisons? Otherwise, use one of the time-tested scoot recipes from a cellphone on a vibrator mode ( never mind even if it is drained of charge ).
  • A dejected forlorn look, longing for a shoulder to cry on and a weak "'Hi" - means guests arrival! Guests who love to eat your food and enjoy your company too for shopping! Well, all the best there, as it is too tempting not to get into a soul-stirring,  mutually enriching, heart to mouth talk!
          Your reflexes by now would have silenced your cell phone or changed it to the vibrator mode.

Dangerously Delicious !

Exam time . Study leave . Dull afternoon . Non-descript , Typical Bangalore weather .
Miasmic moods .
The only panacea - Something delectable and deep fried .
Seemingly simple , with no known , documented side effects while cooking or after eating  . Especially fell for the name - FALAFEL.

Such an easy , non-threatening recipe . Am I missing something ? Actually quite scary .

Ingredients :

  • Have a template ready on blogger with labels done , tittle decided and punch lines making a bee line in the mind . ( equivalent to pre-heating )
  • Camera .  Dedicated to my  family which still thinks food appears by magic in my home . Some of them  still think it is all photo shopped . And flood me with Q's like " You did This ?" " All of this ?"  Sigh . I have  turned into a new leaf.   err..Tree since my nostalgic, happy - "doing -nothing" days.
  • Soaked white chick pea -250 gms
  • Coarsely ground coriander seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • Finely powdered cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • A bunch of Coriander
  • A bunch of parsley
  • Roughly chopped onions
  • A few garlic pods
  • Salt to taste
Grind chickpea with salt , coriander ,parsley , onion , garlic and add the cumin and coriander powder.
Heat oil . Make medium sized balls out of the blended chickpea , flatten at the top and bottom ( for that look !)  and deep fry .

Made a coriander , green chilly + curd dip to go with this .

Not a great looker,this  Falafel . Very simple Recipe . Ingredients easily available in a kitchen like mine . Scores very high on taste however . And dangerously delicious . Just my kind of recipe !

Oh ! 'vadai' ya ? Was the response from S & S ! There you go .


Sunday, September 1, 2013

I owe you , Sun shine

A sweet song on my lips
A prayer in my heart

A thought in my mind
A memory in my conscience

A tingle in my nerves
A tweet in my ears

A glint in my eyes
A lilt in my gait

A ray of pure sunshine
A rare ray that never says 'You owe me'!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

South pause ..

Some where in the world today is still yesterday - International day of the Left handers .

Till we realised our daughters' left orientation , I hadn't paused over the south paw-issue .

Guilty of this .

Our daughter eats , writes with her left and does most of the activities with her left hand . Or atleast tries to , what with most gadgets being made for the 'right' people.

Her frustration with the 'right' scissors makes me deal with some 'wrong ' emotions...

The  health faucet in the toilets ....though we try and get it shifted to the left side at home .

The door knobs , tap movements ..were all struggles till she learnt to do it right .

At the temples ....Sigh.

The priest amidst his chanting will keep saying "valathu " ,valathu" to her and she will look up at me ,helplessly ...

Along with the lord , some 'archanai' in chaste Tambram tamizh willcome my way too, from the priest for not bringing up the children properly and so on and so forth .

Many times I 've tried explaining.  Only to hear more unsolicited advice.

Once a priest assuming the role of a mentor , told her why she should not be using her left hand for taking Prasad etc.. She was about 6 years old and had no inhibitions whatsoever ..And pat came the reply - " But we have health faucets at home " !

What ensued is a much BTDT moment for most of us , with the temple priest lamenting  about how kids these days answer back..and we don't bring them up teaching  temple etiquette etc etc etc..and finally blaming it all on "kali kaalam " .

One of the very very few moments when I used all my will power and restraint to keep my mouth shut .

When will the society learn to differentiate between habits , character and character forming habits ?

She abhors temple visits . If she has no choice, just moves away when the prasad / deepa / Theertham is given out .

"It's okay ma, god will bless me anyway..I dont want that mama to scold me and you also if I stretch my left hand "...

That's not all. The way some mami's and mama's stare at her in disbelief at family functions during lunch and alternate between curious looks at her and accusatory looks at the mother ( ME !) .

After much practice and patience I have perfected the "SO,? " look now after which we share a good chuckle !

While we read up to find out so many celebrities being left handed ..which does help in building better self-worth as they claim to have  sharper brain , artistic talents et al ..

Being "left" out is definitely right for making her strong emotionally and believing in herself .

Awareness . Is the key . Being left is absolutely right . Correcting that could lead to stammering and other emotional problems in children .

This is my bit to spread awareness about left handed ness.

And please don't call them "lefties " .

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Miracles ..never mere coincidences .

We woke up to a beautiful bright sunny morning at Bali. After three days of sight-seeing  and adventure sports, decided just to stay back and bask in the beach .

Right from the moment we landed all of us felt so much at home ..what with the familiar Hindu god's sculptures here and there and the warm friendly smile of the locals.

Didn't realize we had spent the entire day at the beach with the children making sand castles and enjoying the low tide, while we relaxed with a book.

We could have easily bagged the "most -over-dressed " couple award at Bali beach if there were one!

It was five in the evening. We still didn't have the heart to get back to our room. S and  S decided they wanted to go cycling along the shores and went ahead hiring off-roader bikes for two hours.

We decided to follow them ,walking. What bliss, not knowing what to do! And it was a record of sorts without the Cell phones which we had left behind at the room.

After half an hour or so  we realized  we had lost sight of our bikers .. so sat perched on a rock and waited for them , assuming they would come back the same way . By now we had crossed our resort and were at the backyard of the next resort.,all the while enjoying the sprays from the sea and the lovely cool breeze.

Life couldn't have been better.

It was forty minutes past six PM. No sign of my children yet. Suddenly we realized something was not alright, and a chill ran through my spine. Didn't have the guts to verbalize what was going through in my mind.
In these two hours  they must have reached the end of the beach stretch and entered the Bali town ..A crowded market-place, where very few spoke very little English.

We had the same thought in mind and started walking briskly asking every passer-by from the opposite direction , if they saw two Indian children in bikes,with few words and lot of gestures. No one  seemed to have seen Indian Children ..and we were not sure if they understood what we were looking for ....

My husband asked me to wait there ,in the middle of nowhere and started walking faster ahead . By now it had become dark ..Seven  pm. I was totally blank and blinded too. There were very few walkers .. and a few Balinese Snack vendors selling seafood .

The beach, the sound of the waves all reminded me of my early growing up years at Pondicherry, and I thought of ' Mother ' to help protect my children and bring them back safe.

A few more passed by who just wouldn't get what I was trying to say .A group of young lads started teasing me if I knew to sing  'Chaiya chaiya ' . Harmless people, usually. But all alone with no one else in sight up to 50 yards either side sent chills down my spine. .

Saw someone who looked like an American coming from the opposite direction with earphones ... I thought this would be my last chance and stopped her and asked her if she saw 'two Indian kids ' ..all the while wondering if she knew English and whether she wouldn't mind being disturbed .

Much to my relief, she asked me in English why I was crying and asked if she could help?  That was the tipping point ..I didn't realize I was literally in tears all this while ( So used to crying all these years and not just shedding tears .Sigh )

I barely managed to tell her what had happened. And she dropped a bomb saying that she has been walking from the town end and hadn't seen any Indian kids.
My children lost.My husband gone behind them. I was on the beach side all alone with nothing to aid me purse phone ..the room keys with husband ..and the resort far behind for me to walk back alone .
It was 8 pm by now .
The kind soul who was god sent ..assured me she will stay with me till I find them all as if reading my mind pleading her to be with me and not go.

The dark beach looked a little scary now. The waves were angry ..The darkness isturbing . The same beach that looked so innocent and warm and beautiful ????

She put her arms around me and said "I am a mother too " ..Just when I had mentally surrendered to 'mother ' ( Pondicherry Aurobindo Ashram ) and started chanting my Buddhist prayer .

I am a mother too . These words still ring in my ears after Three years.

For a moment, I wanted to believe it was 'mothers' message to me. The lady suggested that we walk back to the resort .and take the help of the front desk or Police ..Not a mere coincidence that she was put up at the same resort as we were.

I had no option and thought it best to call the Police. ...So turned around and started walking along with her .. in Total Silence.

8.30 Pm .. Reached where I started so happily ..Life had turned upside down in a matter of two hrs.

I showed  the God sent 'mother ' where the kids had hired bikes by pointing to that place ..and I saw The two Indian Kids sitting quietly so close to each other and watching the Balinese Dance that was going on at the Seaside restaurant .

I just took a sprint ( PT Usha would have lost to me for sure ) and went to my Children. Who seemed okay till then, but started howling the moment they saw me. Nothing else mattered at that moment. And ever Since.

They became more precious than before.

"Where did you leave us and go ?" They spat out at me ..mmm. Why is it that everyone always asks me what I want actually to ask them ??

By now my husband had also reached back and saw me with the children.

And for the first time we saw him crying ..not the time to tease so reserved it for later )

The lady who gave me companyand strength in that hour of dire need - was watching all this with a smile and so very fondly said "there , that's a lovely family reunion " and told us  she is part of the Intel Delegation there and left .

I am not even sure if I appropriately thanked her ...with words. But for her  I would have been utterly devastated in the strange situation. Truly God sent. She is always in my prayers ever since along with all 'mothers '.

DH and I had lost the power to speak by then ..while we listened to our kids narrate they had taken a curve along the end of our resort and got back to the resort. Why ? Because they didn't want to pay fine returning the Bikes late .Phew !

While we had missed the curve and went on and on walking ...crying ..imagining all things that could go wrong ....

My children  even went to the room to check if we were there. Came back to where we would search for them and sat  . Wonder how they found the way to the room without getting lost in that huge resort.

Smart kids .
Foolish Parents .
Kind Souls.
God sent messages.
Happy moments .
Panicky moments .

Miracles ..never mere coincidences .

PS :
Would you blame my DH for those angry , hopeless look when I said , I would like to go along the same way and tell the person about "Chaiya chaiya" song !

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

ROTFL and my hum-suffer

It happened precisely 19 years back when verbal flourishes like 'LOL' and 'ROTFL' were non existent. Wonder how I survived without these linguistic leanings, given my demonstrated skills at getting into a giggling fit every now and then  Now.

A genetic disorder which runs in the family for sure. I  just cannot articulate in a polite / politically appropriate way , what havoc it can do to the over-the-hill female family members!

Just married, and dreamy and still with full hope that one day 'my newly married husband' will come home with flowers humming a Rafi song, which I want him to hum.

Sigh ..he still hasn't figured out the song.Never mind. I can manage with the original one.

Being a firm believer of "Do unto others what you would have done to you ", way back then,  decided to surprise my husband. Subtle hints, Broad statements - Declarative, interrogative ..nothing ever worked. Nothing will work. ( Doing English grammar lessons with my 4th grader !)

Flowers ..??? Nay, He would most probably ask 'wow! Who gave you ?" Arghhhh..

Food ?? Very complicated and tricky way to reach a mans' heart through his stomach. Given my sense of direction, I am sure to get lost/ stuck midway.

Finally decided on surprising him with wearing a saree that he had gifted me before our marriage, all the while praying that he remembers that fact and hoping he doesn't  deflate my spirits by asking, " Is this your sisters ?"  or something more blasphemous.

All set. Came back home early from office and made sure he started from work and was heading home. It used to take exactly 45 minutes those days from Airport road ( old ) to Vijayanagar where we used to live, in his Suzuki Samurai.

And I used to know exactly when he arrives from the sound of his bike.So timed it accordingly and stood behind the door. ( All the drama club experience from school days came in handy ).
Heard the Suzuki Samurai sound,.Parked. Climbing the stairs now. Anytime he would be here .. ready, steady, opened the door .and waited behind the door.Thankfully I didn't yell " surprise " LOL !( I feel utterly silly now ..and ROTFL ..wonder how I felt then standing behind the door all decked up.)

No sound. Just a feeble, " madam".

I Was so confused, terrified ..and horrified till I saw the Milkman with the monthly bill in his hand.

The milk vendor's  expression cannot be put down in words, as he saw me come from behind the fully open door-All decked up.

Don't even want to think about what went on his mind.LOL !

Walks in our man, after having a chat with our neighbor and losing a few precious moments in the banter.  And from my looks he knew something terrible had happened!

I must have giggled and laughed my heart out for close to an hour that day ..and there was no "ROTFL"  lingo to come to my aid.

All my man managed to say was, ' you should have warned me about the surprise .'  Do you get the Drift? Sigh .

No more surprises for anyone . Especially the milk vendor. No more warnings too.

Predictably, the milk vendor sent his brother from the next month to collect his dues .. And I used to get the feeling that he was updated about what happened behind the door his smirk and bewildered look, while all I managed to do was ROTFL!

I certainly think I have come a long way,from behind the door. ROTFL !  15 pounds ago probably there wasn't any need to go rolling anywhere!LOL !

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Post Perla - Post !

Perla  Post !

Perla'ed again .. Yes , it has become a verb ! Was fortunate to attend the 25th camp . As always ,had to bend backwards , roll up the world and do a cart wheel of sorts before finally catching the 'about-to-be-be missed Bus .Phew !

Well worth all the gymnastics though.The entire Kasargod belt was rain soaked and was so very lush and beautiful. So good to see the regulars and lots of new faces  ..Was such a fun group , I must say !

Day 1 : Warmed up with Maya malava gowla swara exercise followed by Hoova Tharuvara which was taught last time .

Varmaji ..taught  a crisp, rare , Deekshitar Krithi -Panchabhootha Kiranavalim in raag Kiranavali ( The Deekshidar school equivalent of Keeravani ) with a typical Deekshidar style chiseled chittaswaram. This was preceded  by a brief  intro into Deekshitar’s  Asampoorna Mela system .

Kiranavali…Systematic  Swara exercise as usual ! This kiranavali more than made up for the lack of sun light there.

Very magnanimous of him to teach this as he still hasn’t released this in any of the concerts .

Lalith Gowri  or Manorama ( as christened by Dr BMK ) a dwimadhyama raga followed . Not a concert piece  as Varmaji  explained , a  meditative / soulful  Swathi krithi was taught in this raga . Bhajat murali murari Sundar Jamuna kinare … True to what he said and taught , this krithi and the raga lend itself to lot of improvisation .  

Day 2 : What followed was a real surprise ! A vivadi Raga Ganamurthe ! And it was not Thyagayyar ‘s  Ganamurthe .. Shri S D Batish a Hindustani musician is the only musician to have delved into the Carnatic Melakarta system and has composed and tuned in all the 72 mela ragas . Each of his composition spells out the lakshana of the chakra it belongs to , and about the ragas .

Varmaji , shared his knowledge on vivadi ragas and the absence of g1, r3, and d3 in the Hindustani Thaat or raga classification system vis-à-vis  the Carnatic Melakartha system of Venkatamakhi.

The sweet composition went like this :

Indu chakre mein kanakangi aur ratnangi jab aaye

Tritiya mel bhir Ganamurthiko

Guni jan sab mil gaye …


This krithi too had a chittaswaram. It was like a capsule with raga lakshana codified . Great work by Shri S D Batish ji. ..And grateful to Varmaji for exposing us to such a treasure . Cant wait to checkout the remaining 71.  S D Batish  foundation could help us here .

Friendship Day ! The diverse group at the camp , in my opinion epitomizes friendship across all barriers . Due to the lovely monsoon this time we had lot more friends ..some on 4 legs , 8 legs , creepy , crawly ..slimy Leeches included . Found a very beautiful Snail / Leech variety which when touched would coil up into a Ball with its shell and start rolling down like a polished pebble !

Purano sei diner kotha … A Tagore song on two long lost friends …was taught as a toast to friendship day . There couldn’t have been a more appropriate song .

This being an auspicious month in the Hindu Calender  Yogesh Sharmaji had arranged for Havans at the camp. Ganapathi havan and Durga pooja in the evening . The Perla kids so beautifully rendered Omkarakarini and Kaumari gowri velavali, in total sync. Cant stop marveling their group singing abilities would just hear one voice !

Got to know that Gangeya vasadhara was taught on the last day . A lovely Hamir kalyani , Swathi Thirunal Krithi .

Heart  full.  Mind nourished . The attention seeking , tantrum throwing , tired limbs can cry all they want , While I plan my next trip likely to be on Nov 28,29, and Dec 1st .

Stay tuned . And Plan for Perla’ing !

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cud chewing ...

Concert began with  Varmaji ..getting tuned ..Sa ..Pa ..Sa ..and Violinist Shri Vinu giving repartee to that ! Puzzled , packed hall ..was wondering what is in this package ..

Saakaara  -  a rare varnam constructed around Sa  in raga “Swarashtram”  . 
No that’s not a typo ..Swarashtram it is ..which was created by Dr BMK  to mark 25 years of India’s Independence !  Varmaji went on to explain  its nuances and how it compares with Sourashtram – with alien notes . Such a subtle  and sincere  guru vandanam , I thought to myself.  Saakaara
A liberating start indeed !
Quote – Clever people  bring about rains when singing this raga ..and very clever people sing this when it is already pouring –Unquote . That was Varmaji's  usual light hearted banter which took us to the  Oh, so beautiful !  Sudha mayee ..befitting the Bangalore weather .

Time for expressing gratitude to Nadam , samaveda ..and Shankaram . Nada thanum anisham ..shankaram in citta ranjani was so appropriate .

Then came a lovely Yadhukulakhambhoji composed by Shri MDR . Neevalle Daivame irezhu lokamu .. Heard this one for the first time and instantly fell in love with it .  Here is a rendition of the same by none other than the composer .himself ! This is my takeaway from this concert .
That was like a lullaby which had brought about pin drop  silence by now only to be  jolted ( atleast I was !) by an unexpected "Hodi "..from Varmaji ..LOL ! hodi nagaari mela kaiya ..a folksy Dasar krithi in Anandha Bhairavi .  Here is a lesson video of the same .

Time up for the main piece .Lavangi a four note raga , yet another proof of Dr BMk's  creative genius . S..R ..M..D.. Varmaji educated the audience on the intricacies and nuances of this raga without making it into a lec-dem  The mastery in handling this raga and sticking to just the four notes made the audience sit up . The alaap was lovely and so were the rounds of swarams woven into an interesting pattern ..before he burst into the powerful sounding song in praise of Devi-Omkaarakarini . While I enjoyed this main piece immensely really wished  I could understand the technical aspects and grammar of Carnatic music to delve deeper into it . Wonder if skimmers ever become divers .

The " thani " by Dr Ghatam S Karthik and Shri B Harikumar was superb . Their onstage chemistry and vibes adds more music ! Shri Avaneeswaram Vinu's violin accompaniment was impressive too.
Here again lack of technical knowledge  about the laya quotient limits my expression to this simple impression .

It was amazing to see 20 -25 kids in various sizes sitting in rapt attention on the jamakalam with note pads and pencils . (I was not alone for once  !)  The last half hour of the concert was dedicated to the children there . It sure did appeal to the child in all of us with peppy numbers ..Deekshitar's western notes Pankhaja mukha , Chandamamanu joosi vadhama , Sree rama nee namamu jigva gurinji , vara leela gana lola ..and then it was Maharaja Swathi thirunal's Neelambari -Kantha nodu .The concert ended with the lilting thillana in kunthalavarali composed by Dr BMK .
Ah! That was a well spent Saturday evening .



Monday, June 24, 2013

Cookery - "Shows" !

Blame it on my friend who shared her lunch menu casually . " Parangikai Puli Pacahadi " . It Had all the ingredients that suits a "amirthavarshini"  awaiting Bangalore weather .

Ingredients :

Camera . ( Er ..isn't it only fair that a rare event  gets documented ?)
Big lemon sized Imli
8 green chillies
2 red chillies
Mustard seeds
Grated coconut
coconut oil
Diced Yellow ripe pumpkin
Curry leaves
Jaggery ..

Don't forget to add Hing ! ( that was my friend , who sent an SOS msg when she knew I was gonna try her recipe .) My friend who holds the IPR , Patent and copy rights to this recipe coerced me into using jaggery and 8 green chillies .

Boil diced pumpkins in Tamarind juice with Turmeric , salt .
Grind coconut , green chillies , 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds , curry leaves into a fine paste .
Add to the now boiling Tamarind + pumpkin concoction .
Salt to taste .
Temper with Coconut oil - mustard seeds ,curry leaves and red chillies .
Add rice flour in a sauce form for better consistency .
Add jaggery .

Goes well with Rice and  Adai . Predictably, I tried it with both .

The raw ground mustard which when added to the boiling tamarind gives a heady aroma and a tangy taste .

That was  Parangikai puli Pachadi .

If and When I cook , it shows .


Friday, June 21, 2013

A day in the life of a Music Maniac .

Always wake up to a Bihag . Be it An  irakkam varamal with a strong south Indian flavour or a blissful Ajoy Chakraborthy's version which is more like a "Be-hug" ..or a refreshing blend of south and north by Prince Rama Varma - a sweet sounding Smara janaka by the Maharaja of Bihag !

Bihag ..apparently means "walk in the sky " .  Back to  earth only to be with a Lata Mangeshkar's tere sur aur  mere geeth 

This abundance ironically does not satiate ..leaves me  longing for more of  "Ni sa ga ma pa ma ga ma ga" ...So I follow it up with a prescription 1-1-1 ( after and before food , 3 times a day , many times !)

While Behug ( that's what I call her .I know Bihag  is a she ) is my best friend ..I am smitten by Sindu bhairavi  , agitated by Atana and mesmerized by the meends of Maand in   jaathi malli poocharame ..can actually smell it !

That was all for breakfast rounded up with a gm gm " kapi !

Mid morning . More friends from the raga clan turn up to gossip , unwind , crib ...DKP's   Sahana   touches my  soul while MMI's  Kapi narayani  makes me  tap my feet .

Cook, clean , Eat , Nap, Shop , chop, Chat , Gossip , Gallavant , giggle , freelance , BLOG ! , follow bloggers who religiously follow mine , argue  with mom , patch up with sis , HW , projects , bond with in-laws .....where do you think is the time to listen to music ? Sigh.

Am from Venus and exaggeration is my birth right .

That is the list of well intended things that get quarter done , half-done .(Some of them never-done )Wish intentions would magically produce the same results as action .

Tired by now . A veena recital by Prince Rama Varma - Kantha nodu chennu in  Neelambhari being the need of the hour which unwarrantedly pulls me towards so ja Raj kumara  in Jhinjhoti by Saigal Saab  . Cant give up my teenage loyalties enters Mohd Rafi..with his teri aankhon mein  ( is that possible ? LOL given the ,by -now drooping eyelids with sacs below !) And  end up  wishing for a pulsating thaanam in   Panthuvarali  or a Neda nuri Krishnamurthy garu's Appa rama Bhakthi ...for no "appa"rent reason .

How  and when did vasanta kaalam varumo, nilai maarumo  get into my head . OMG !

Reminded of a  Vasanta ..and her cousin Lalitha ( ragas , you silly !) One raga leads to another and I end up listening to Pandit Chaurasia's  Lalit . Topped  it up with Ek shahenshah ne banwaa ke hasin Taj mahal .

This Lalit makes me  so numb and inactive that I  rummage for a nourishingVijay Siva's rendition of   Hamir kalyani with generous "ma'" sprinkled ..  both variety and in succession ! Leaves me  feeling abundant. How did this raga suit a pathos song like beqas pe karam kijiye ? Wonder.

By now it does get a little overwhelming even for "maniacally yours "...So seek salvation in more muzak ! Saranga  .

Sigh. How can I skip Saranga teri yaad mein   Totally get lost in this song is an out of the world experience listening to this .

Thank god for small mercies (a.k.a  Iron wala )which  bring me  back to earth from eternal realms with that calling bell which always plays "ek do teen" .( NO. I am not going to link up that song. ) which touches a very wrong nerve in me . Agitated now .

Calling   a Khambhoji  -to  calm me ..While one of my friends says it jolts her up ! Never you mind to each his / her own rainbow ! Walks in a  Kanada conjuring  up a myriad feelings tagging along a kaleidoscopic Kalyani thru the strains of "Ambarame Thaneere"  ..Who wouldn't wake up to a Kalyani like that !

Chai time .. calls for some Rabindra Sangeeth with no stress of scalar searches .As , Ustaad Vilayaat Khan says , " Aankh bandh karke , Kaan se dekhna " ! No scrambling to find the ragas /scales . Tension free ! So tuned in to the recently learned "Maya Bono biharini " and "Ami chini go chini" ( A Kishore da number ).

Raga, ithi ranjayathi rakthi .. realized that the 'whole' is  much much more than the sum of its parts , so to speak ..The scales did not lead to a known raga ..but had their leanings towards some known ragas ..After all there are only seven notes to infinity !

Aw ! These non raga based songs like so many other in our Indian cinema evoke so much emotion in me and a distinct and varied one at that ..

Serious thought process about Rakhti now ..

While some ragas are classified as rakthi ragas definition it  means "that which pleases and engages the mind " according to Dr Vedavalli . What can we  say about these equally pleasing and engaging tunes ,which however are not based on any raga /scale ?

Isnt this what rakthi is all about ? Should rakthi be associated with ragas with a defined scalar format alone ? What do you call the visceral effect a song or tune creates - if not  rakthi ?
Sigh. Never understood what rakthi was all about ... took solace in my best friend Bihag again.

The intellectual anxiety and urge to pin a song down to its scale /  raga  has been putting so much pressure on listening and enjoying the moment . It is like trying to catch a memorable moment on camera for posterity that one fails to enjoy the moment NOW and HERE.

This understanding of rakthi my own way ..however contrived it may be, hope  will lead to an  intellectual inertia in  guessing ( guessing it is !lol !) the ragas and let me enjoy  the 'whole ' without trying to figure out the sum of its parts !

Because the whole is more than the sum of its parts ! what 's in a name after all ...a Bihag is a Behug is a Behag by whatever name you call it !

Enter kids . This greedy mind doesn't let  switch off the player ..And says "billy billy bayou watch where you go , walking on the quick sand walk slow !" Pat comes the reply ..."but you love me daddy ..." You scatter your toys , make much noise ..but you love me daddy !"

Evening chores drain me of all rakthi and shakthi .Mind wanders towards a meditative Madhuvanthi - Basavanna Vachana -ullavaru shivalaya maduvaru  and meanders to kanda naal mudalai  by TSK who  compels you to listen to his Valaji ..kshana Mathuna  !

Blame it on the Bangalore weather which makes you sneak in a Beethovan or Mozart classic in between the moon rises along with the strains of Chaurasia's Moon Magic....

Game over you think ? Nay , as I  hear the dedicated music group friends  ping me  for a vintage classic concert ! It is lets start at the very beginning !

GN .Thankyou . All said . Back to "Behug" with renewed bonhomie with kids tucked in bed work staring at me scornfully .So More music.. Reason enough to get thru the daily drudgery .Sangatamana samayala vittu sangeetham paada poren !

oru naal podhuma  , I quiz myself ..ofcourse with Balu mama's BGM.. as I make up my mind "just this one song " wondering how I will go about the cutchery of the boiled over milk , the dosas which took a brownie avatar , the once upon a time brass stove tops , the loadful of laundry,and updating the ever growing Hanuman's Tail like -List of things to do .

Thani avarthanam ..Wondering how to make some time for practice to please my ever-so-patient guru ..who says I need to work on my "pa " and "ma" .(  apart from my 'sa', 'ri', 'ga', 'dha' and 'ni', that is !) Though I have a solution to that problem too ! Raag Niroshta without "pa" and "ma" ! I dare say that though !

So much to do little time ..feeling low ..lethargic ..lazy ..need my musical Prozac .

 So back to Bihag !!!!!

Maniacally yours !

PS :  My sample to do list :

google eka krithi ragas
look for SJR lec -dem on vivadi ragas
Songs in Pasupathipriya
Listen to Bhairavi by MDR
TRS pallavis ..
read up posts on navaavarnams
Rafi songs in jhinjhoti
Khamas ...pada varnam.

And so on and so forth !


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shakkar Kutti !

Another delectable variety of mango that one gets to taste  in India. Relish it raw, feast on it as a fruit ..or still better savor it in Sambhar!

We as a family are not partial to the khatta -meetha tastes in South Indian cooking.Be it the milagai podi ( gun-powder ) with jaggery, or the thiruvadhirai kali with kootu combo ..or jaggery in vetha kozhambu. We believe in mutually exclusive tastes.

However, Shakkar kutti - (home name and there was never a doubt about her gender ) is the only exception to this.

One has to go on a search for this variety that appears in the market towards the end of the season and disappears as fast as well. But Lakshmi ..the lady who  sell vegetables and fruits in 9th Block Jayanagar, right in front of the coconut Mandi  stocks it every season. Even if the basket looks empty, she pulls out a few kgs from the secret chambers of her cart for the regular customers.
Have always been amazed at her marketing skills and after sales service slicing the yam into cubes of manageable size, peeling the peas as you shop. My little one, when she was little asked me loudly -" Amma will she also make vendakkai curry ?" . How I wish she did ?!

Ah .I tend to digress.

Nowadays the cartwalla just opposite Adiga's, off  Bannerghatta road too has this variety. But he looks very angry and does not let you pick and choose. He might as well be selling karela. Lakshmi is an angel who has internalized shakkar kuttis very nature and  lets you pamper, cajole and pick your shakkar kutti's and pack a few extra ones too.

Some get eaten raw on the way back home. Some relished as a ripe fruit. The ever-green  shakkar kutti looks the same raw or ripe.
What  remains get into the Sambhar, where they take an altogether new avatar. The evergreen shakkar kutti takes on a lovely shade of yellow while retaining all her juices within and letting just her aroma get into the sambhar. So the sambhar does not get the 'asadu' taste and retains its authentic taste.

Fairly simple recipe.

Imli water, a paste of roasted chana dhal, dhaniya seeds and red chilies and salt to taste. Dropping each shakkar kutti into the sambhar is a celebrated event at home. Sashvat and Shakti divide the shakkar kutti's equally among them only to delight in dropping them one by one into the bubbly Sambhar. Sometimes they  track the ones  they dropped up to the table.

Isn't she adorable , floating in Sambhar ?!

See the magic there? By now the whole house emanates the khatta -meetha aroma. Tastes best with Rice, and she needs no accompaniments.

But the real challenge is to choose between 'Nei' or 'Nallennai' - to go with the hot rice. No prize for guessing. We end up with  a double serving .Once with Ghee and once with gingely oil.So on and so forth!

That is the story of Shakkar Gudli ..which is her original name.  Actually had  to smuggle a small portion for DH from my shakkar kuttis who just love it!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Rama Navami ..Maruvam ..maruvam ..

A quaint beautiful Rama Mandira amidst the hustle bustle of Malleshwaram . A well ventilated concert hall with good acoustics and well behaved mikes. A 'sound ' system indeed. Full House ,Wonderful audience, who didn't drag chairs , or sing along (Sometimes I wonder whose concert did I come for .sigh .)
 oh , yes ! No lengthy speeches before or in the middle of the concert !
Peace generating , soul stirring rendition by Varmaji . Life couldn't get  better ! That was the concert yesterday at Vyalikaval Rama Mandira !

The concert started with the  brisk viriboni ata thala varnam by Pacchimiriam Adiyappaya , setting the stage to invoke  lord Ganesha  with a refreshing version of Vatapi ganapatim bhajeham .
Saveri ! Barayya venkataramana  -a Purandaradasa kriti which mentions the Dasavatars . Varmaji on a lighter note  said how  apt the name Saveri is as ‘Sa’ is very close to  ‘Ri’  in this raga unlike say Mayamalavagowla  .. which he briefly illustrated . When said in Tamil it becomes Sa ‘ve ‘ ri !

Then came ..Raminsuvarevarura …  This  lilting melody was further  nourished  by Dr Balamuralikrishna’s  chittaswarams  neatly   rendered  by Varmaji .  True to its name  it was indeed a Su-poshini ! 
The multilingual mélange had the MDR fame Hariyum Haranum Atana with typical MDR touches here and there ..especially at ‘Palitharulvan “!

Then  came  the magnum opus , Gangeya vasana dhara ..It was a beautiful  ,coherent conversation by the foursome in Hamir Kalyani . The raga alaap and swara prastharams were stupendous leaving the  entire place resonating  Hamir kalyani .
Particularly enjoyed the ‘ Thani ‘ by Shri  Harikumar and Shri Giridhar Udupa . Fireworks that caused no smoke or fumes but just colourful glittering sparks !

Shri Avaneeswaram Vinu  was as usual at his best  and rightfully earned  the title ‘mysore mallige ‘ from Varmaji   yesterday  !
Rama rama ena rada  brought us back to reality to be followed by Shri Rama namam maruvam maruvam ..The audience were literally   spellbound  by Varmaji’s  “mounam, mounam “ ! where he and his team mates went  totally silent . There was however a song in the air !

The  concert ended with the evergreen thrillana  in Kadanakuduhalam  by Dr Balamuralikrishna and the lovely yadukula kambhoji Mangalam !
It was  truly  a WOW  moment  when I came out looking for the help who drove us to this place . He  came from the concert hall and grinned sheepishly saying “ I like Balamuralikrishna avaru sangeetham , madam so I sat thru this concert !
That speaks  volumes  about Varmaji's music .



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Child hood song ..

Ears Hear a sweet Tweet from my window sil
Cheeks Feel the gentle touch of a quill
Nape senses a whiff of breeze through the apron frill
All of that  kindle memories of a melodic shrill
That play in my heart with a free will 
Eyes closed still .

Friday, January 11, 2013

God ..please dont give me the wisdom to accept things that I cannot change ..

Pain , anguish, helplessness , and a few more violent feelings (unworthy of publication ) are what I feel whenever I see an eight year old taking care of a baby in a pram , or a twelve year old engaging a child at the park , or worse - taking care of toddlers while the lady is busy shopping at the mall.
If I know the door number I simply dial 1068 ..However feel frustrated and helpless when there is no way I can do something about it ,without knowing the address of the offender to lodge a complaint ...
Last week , when  and my sister and I  witnessed something like this at a mall we thought talking to the lady who had employed a 7 or 8 year old to take care of her infant would help ..After a carefully crafted conversation with the lady and hearing from the horses' mouth that indeed the little girl was a "servant '' ..This is how the drama unfolded ...

Me : Maam ,are you aware that child -labour is an offence ?
The protagonist : what are you talking about ??
Me : You just now told me that this little girl is your servant .Are you aware it is an offence ? she is a toddler herself ..
The protagonist :Yes , but she does not work for me ..she just wanted to see a mall and so I brought her ...
Me : Maam , you just now told me she is your "servant " ..and the girl also told us that she works for you ...( patted myself for the good ground work ..without realising I am the one to be grounded shortly !!)
The protagonist : No , I never said anything like that ..and my father is a DSP ..( something which I never asked her and which sent chills down my spine ...)
Big fish ..small net ...the fisherman loses the net and the catch !
By now a good crowd had gathered - mute , lame and deaf , ofcourse...
The lady not only started raising her voice in defense ...but her hands too at the kid -to a full audience -The "mute , lame and deaf " variety ..

By then my sister spotted a police constable and nudged me to lodge a complaint with him .. How naive can she get ? Better sense prevailed thanks to my so many years of being a Resident Indian citizen , I simply dragged my sister and scooted !
Afterall the constable was her bodyguard for this mall trip sent by her "DSP daddy " and lodging a complaint with him could have landed me / us in jail on some false allegation ...

Phew ! That was a narrow escape ...for us ..
But what about the little girl ??? would she have got battered after reaching home for talking to us ? would she be sent back to her village only to face more wrath from her poor parents ?
Not sure ...But this will be her last trip to a mall for sure ...
I really am researching to know how a common citizen can help in such situations and book the offenders .. Anybody ???
I thank god for a lovely husband who said "I would have somehow got you out " and my dear friend ( who is most probably reading this) , who shared a high level contact ..just in "case" ! ( scary pun !! not intended at all )

My prayers changed from that day ...

God ! please dont give me the wisdom to accept things I cannot change ..

The child helpline (a call centre ..sigh ..)  , The collectors' office numbers ..nothing works . And wonder if the government run transit homes for these rescued children are a safer bet ...

While we have all kinds of screening for security these days at malls ..wouldnt be a good idea to check for child labour too ??

While some apartment complexes have strong rules against childlabour is still 'winked at' in many places ...

One or two agencies when contacted felt this was just one case ( one little child ) whereas they are dealing with it at a larger level ..

Doesnt every drop in the ocean count ??