This weekend India will celebrate Diwali. And preparations for the festival are in full swing. Homes are being scrubbed squeaky clean. Renovated houses are getting last minute paint jobs. Traders – both online and offline – are running promotional offers. And all of us are busy shopping for clothes and gifts!
The most important aspect of the festival, of course, are the lights. With every nook and corner being illuminated, the streets are one of the most beautiful sights to see this time of the year. Even the most common, everyday routes we take, turn glamourous.
As I was walking near a popular market a few days back, lights caught my eye from behind the trees. I would normally just walk past the glittery market, but this time, I took a detour just to soak in the festive ambience.
Unfortunately, Diwali is also the worst possible time to head out because pollution levels skyrocket. It’s a shame that noisy and noxious crackers are still so popular. I’ll admit we used to burst crackers as children too. And it’s been years since we stopped. I hope you, my dear reader, will refrain from contributing to the pollution levels this year and enjoy the sights without the sounds.
Update: Big Bazaar does a fabulous job of getting the message across with their paper patakha ad. Check this out:
Here’s wishing you a very happy, prosperous and safe Diwali.
To see more shiny posts from around the globe, head over the the Daily Post.
Having spent two nights in a hospital room with a poor WiFi signal, needles piercing my arms and eating some rather bland food, coming home was a heavenly feeling.
The hospital wasn’t all that bad. For starters, atleast we didn’t have to cook, or worry about household chores. Then there was a large TV – a device we have chosen not to include in our house. After all, who needs another screen and another monthly subscription for something we neither have time nor inclination to watch. So there we were in that homely room switching between food and science channels for pretty much all our waking hours. I have to say it had a little bit of an impact on me.
I’m not really a foodie. I know lots of people who are – they know which is the best place to eat in pretty much any part of town; what is the speciality of those food joints; and are even willing to travel a fair distance just to taste that one flavour which has the perfect contrast of textures and smells. For me, all that is Greek and Latin. But after a prolonged exposure to the micro waves of the TV shows, I decided to turn into a chef for a while.
The recipe – a tower of biscuits layered with creamy chocolate and dunked in coffee – was one my mother had been wanting to try out for long.
I took pictures along the way and noted down all the steps – detailing everything a TV chef would likely mention. Taking pictures meant that it took us four times the time it would normally take to make this sweet.
This week, Jen Hooks asked bloggers where their heart is. Right now, it is set on devouring this delicious piece of home-made tower of biscuits!
To see how other bloggers interpreted this week’s photo challenge, head over to the Daily Post.
For those who are interested, here’s the recipe:
Whip some milk cream with chocolate sauce.
Add cornflour and heat the mixture over low flame, stirring constantly, till it thickens into a smooth paste.
Spread the mixture over 6 Marie biscuits and place them one on top of the other.
Cover the tower with an extra biscuit and press lightly.
Pour coffee decoction over the tower, ensuring that the biscuits are fully soaked. Drain the excess coffee and place it in the freezer.
Remove it after about half an hour, or till it becomes stable. It should be soft and have the consistency of cake. Make sure it does not freeze completely, or it will be nearly impossible to eat it!
Serve as is, or sliced.
Consume immediately – we did not keep it to test its shelf life 😉
Of all my childhood memories, our Saturday routine has perhaps left the biggest imprint. Every Saturday, we went to the Vinayak Temple and the adjoining market at Sarojini Nagar.
Appa drove his old Premier Padmini – we used to call it the Fiat – on the near empty roads. The FM radio in the car was always set to All India Radio 102.6 MHz – that was the only station back then. It was our only source of contemporary music, and it was all we needed. We would sing along in loud voices to distorted lyrics that our ears chose to hear.
Years later, the Fiat was scraped. Our Saturday visits continued – with a new in-car radio for company. We retained the Fiat’s radio system.
Apart from the controls on her face, there was little to cover the body of that radio, save a raw metal exterior and lots of wires hanging loose. Anna rigged her up with a set of small speakers and connected it to a plug.
Some years later, we relocated. For a while we continued to visit Sarojini Nagar. But that trip was long and tiring and we began visiting a different temple nearer to our new house. The old car radio, though, was still going strong at home. She became my faithful companion while I prepared for my final school exams, and subconsciously memorized lyrics of John Denver’s songs… Ihearher voice in the morning hour as she called me.
I went to college and got my first feature phone – one with an FM radio. Over the next several years, more sophisticated phones followed. And today, my smartphone has replaced the need for a radio altogether.
I don’t know what happened to that car radio system. Maybe it was given away, maybe scraped, but certainly it is in a very different shape right now as compared to what she was back then – just like everything else from my childhood:
Many shops we visited in Sarojini Nagar have shut down or changed their line of business. The market is no longer our weekly grocery and vegetable market. The roads leading to it are choked, and the mad rush ensures we keep our distance.
All India Radio is not the only radio station in town. It is surviving, but their best RJs have moved on to private stations and even internet radios – including the one I’m listening to right now.
As the internet channel plays a classic, all my memories gather round her…
And John Denver echoes the sentiment
Radio reminds me of my home far away
In response to this week’s Photo Challenge. To see what the world is feeling nostalgic about, visit the Daily Post.
One of the major attractions in Gwalior is the Saas-Bahu ka Mandir. In Hindi, saas translates to mother-in-law and bahu is the daughter-in-law.
The strange name is believed to be a convenient short form for sahasrabahu – meaning thousand arms. The two temples in the complex are covered with beautiful, intricate carvings of geometric patterns, animal motifs and dancing figures. Some claim that one temple is for Lord Vishnu, while the other is for Lord Shiva. There is also some confusion as to whether they are Hindu temples at all. What is widely agreed to, is that the larger one is definitely the saas, and the smaller one, the bahu!
This photograph of the smaller temple was taken inside the larger temple.
If you intend visiting, be sure you have enough battery and memory to click pictures. We know we didn’t stop with one 😉
To see how bloggers across the blogosphere are framing their points of view, check out this week’s Photo Challenge
The phone rang at 3:30 am. The voice of the driver was impatient. “It’s getting late! No no… I don’t know who told you 4 am. We need to leave now. We’ll get stuck in a traffic jam!”
A traffic jam at 4 am? Oh well, we were already up. We scrambled and managed to leave just a few minutes before 4.
The blinding curves on the mountain were dark and quiet. But just after two turns, another car joined our route. In another 15 minutes we had more company.
By the time we reached the base of Tiger Hill, we were at the tail end of a massive car line. The driver took shortcuts off the road to jump ahead. But as we reached higher ground, there was only one road.
“How far is it from here? Can we walk it?” The driver nodded confidently. We hopped out. It was a race against the sunrise. We joined at least fifty other people who were already trekking uphill at a fast pace.
After close to two kilometres of jogging and walking, we managed to reach the top of the hill, where a huge crowd was staring into the distance, camera in hand, waiting expectantly.
“Don’t worry, the sunrise will be only at 6:30! Plenty of time! Yesterday the view was very good. Today let’s hope the fog lifts with the sun! Here, you must be tired. Have some coffee!” The coffee sellers were busy catering to the captive, sleep deprived and hungry clientele.
The day was in full bloom. And yet the coffee seller coolly said it would take another half an hour for the ‘sunrise’.
“Whooooaaaah!” A section of the crowd began cheering, as if having spotted a celebrity. The fans began climbing on every possible vantage point. The paparazzi were clicking away.
We looked in the direction of the cameras. In the distance, an uninterested orange sphere looked into the mist.
Funnily, the crowd seemed to have forgotten for a while, why they were actually atop Tiger Hill. For it was not the sun we were waiting for. It was the promised breathtaking view of the Himalayas drenched in golden sunshine in the opposite direction.
That promised view was sleeping snuggly under a thick white blanket.
Hundreds of travelers from across the globe waited and stared into the white abyss. The mist didn’t budge.
We were severely disappointed. For the fifth straight day Mt. Kanchenjunga eluded us. As the crowd began dispersing, we caught sight of a few foreign tourists. We pitied them. At least we were still in our country. These folks had come from much farther away. But they were still cheerful. Two of them even held up a large photograph of the mountain range and posed for pictures!
We took their cue and brushed our disappointment aside. It was only while we were walking downhill that we took notice of the picturesque route leading to the viewpoint. In the darkness during our ascent and in our hurry to reach the top of the hill, we had missed the flowering trees and the web of prayer flags above the road.
We missed the golden Kanchenjunga, but we walked away with a handful of other memories. Hopefully, one day we can get back up there. For now though, we have a string prayer flags hanging at our doorstep, to remind us of the things we didn’t miss.