Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Five things you did not know about me

I read Sanjay’s cool post about the five things about him that we did not know and thought perhaps I should do something similar. I know…I know this sounds self absorbed but anyway here are the five things about me that you did not know.

1. I am ambidextrous. I write with my left hand so it might seem that I am left-handed but in actuality I can write with both my hands. I however prefer writing with my left hand but use my right hand to chop vegetables etc.

2. I wear contact lenses and wear glasses at home and if I don’t have them on, everything around me is a blur. By my bedside table I have a pair of glasses at all times as I tend to remove my glasses and tend to forget where I put them last and of course since everything around me is a blur, I cannot find where the errant glasses might be!

3. I have a terrific memory for birthdays and phone numbers. I never need to write it in a diary, I can recollect every date. With the advent of cell phones, my memory for phone numbers is not as good as it used to be.

4. I am a Virgo and have typical traits like being a perfectionist, organized, emotional etc. There is one thing that most people don’t know and would never guess about me, is that my closet is very messy. I don’t organize my clothes as well as my books, documents etc. Yet in that chaos I always find things….cannot explain how that happens!

5. Although I am an extrovert and talk a lot, yet I am extremely shy and reticent in the matters of heart. When K and I became a couple, he came to see my parents with me. My mother had previously met K and knew who he was but my father was meeting him for the first time! My mother had been hospitalized and was convalescing. I remember K was nervous and had got her a bouquet of her favorite flowers. As soon as we walked in my parent’s home, I found my father’s older brother sitting there with his wife and son. I didn’t expect my uncle and his family to be there, who of course had come to see my mother. I got totally flustered and embarrassed and introduced K as "just someone I know from work." It shocked and offended K, because the prior week he had introduced me to every member of his family and friends as his fiancĂ©e! My parents were very surprised at me as well.

Among other things:
Here is a watercolor painting that I had painted sometime back.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Blast from the past

I received an email from my classmate from architecture school a few weeks ago. He wrote about his work and other stuff happening in his life and concluded the email with “By the way your Bhabhi (sister-in-law in Hindi) will be getting married soon.” I read the sentence and started laughing out loud. K peered over my shoulder and chuckled. You might be wondering what the hell would be so funny about this sentence? Yes, there is no humor in this sentence unless you know the background. By the way my friend is married with kids but bhabhi didn’t mean his wife but someone else.

The guy and I were in the same studio and were good friends. When prospective students came to our school for their architecture school entrance exams, the subsequent interviews and eventually to the program, he would bug me to befriend the pretty girls and then introduce them to him. So I would go up to the “freshie” (first year) studio and smile and say “Hello” to the girls and then he would make a smooth entry moments later and I would say, “Hi meet my friend A.” Now I am not exactly the world’s nicest person, the reason for me to do this was not because of any benevolent spirit but because he would invariably put his foot in his mouth and say the most annoying thing and get insulted by the girls. As you all know almost all attractive women have very high self esteem and some have bloated egos as well. I enjoyed seeing him squirm and would always join the girls to make fun of him. I hoped that he would stop bugging me but he was relentless.

One year he came running up to the studio and said “Sai…Sai….you got to see this girl. She is so pretty. She lives in Khar (suburb of Bombay)…. not too far from my place…..you have got to talk to her.” He literally dragged me by my arm two stories down to where all the aspirants were gathered clutching their portfolios nervously. He pointed the girl to me….she was tall with porcelain skin and curly hair. Although she looked like a fragile doll, she was way too confident for a prospective student. He said “Go on introduce me to your prospective Bhabhi (my sister-in-law, by which he meant his wife).”

I burst out laughing and told him, “Forget it, she is way out of your league. I cannot bear to see you humiliate yourself once more.” Although I am not a nice person, I do have a conscience and wouldn't want to see my friend ridiculed. At that very moment she looked at my classmate with an icy cold stare (of course she wasn’t within earshot so did not hear us), which clearly said “Don’t you dare come and talk to me.” I walked back to the studio with this guy following me and complaining that since he had friends like me, he didn’t need enemies etc.

In case you guys are curious, “Bhabhi” is none other than Aishwarya Rai, who had come to my school for her architecture interview. This was prior to her Miss World and Bollywood days. The engagement that my friend alluded to has caused a media circus in India since the past few weeks.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Friday Word: Pitch

Sanjay informed me that Pitch was the Friday word. The word pitch reminds me of pitching tents and takes me back to my school days. I was a girl guide and we would go on annual camps where obviously you had to be self reliant and do everything yourself. We used to get graded for everything we did and it was added on to the annual grades. I was very serious about grades and absolutely HATED low grades even if it was in Physical Education (gym) and Girl Guide, which were really not that important in the grand scheme of things (to be honest it is different getting a low grade in Math as compared to Girl Guide).

In my ninth grade we went to a camp site where we had to pitch our own tents. We were split into groups of six. The girls in my group were rather spoilt and thought that we could get away with a lot of stuff because Sister C wasn’t with us. They asked us to pitch our own tents and figure how to work everything out. We were graded based on how quick and efficient we were and my group didn’t do well. Then they asked us to cook, which was even worse, and slowly it was turning to be a nightmare for me. They asked us to make Indian bread (chapati) and the group who rolls the perfect round chapati’s would win a prize. All the girls in my group, including me, had total ennui towards anything related to domestic chores. A lot of my other classmates who came from more traditional Indian communities were trained by their mothers and we saw them quickly roll them. My group was the worst as every chapati we rolled was more a class in geography; map of India, map of China, Pakistan, etc.

I couldn’t bear to lose and since necessity is a mother of invention….I had a brilliant idea….I told my friends why don’t we roll them just the way we do and then once we are done we can use the lid of a steel container, having a diameter of six inches, as a mould in order to get a perfectly round chapati. My group was mighty pleased with the idea. One of my classmates asked “But Sai wouldn’t that be cheating?” I replied, “Well they haven’t laid down the rules so it is not cheating.” The other girls happily bought into my logic and went about rolling the perfectly round chapatis with a twist. One of my teachers walked by our group and exclaimed “Wow you girls are really talented! Who made them? You must demonstrate to the other girls” My group mates conveniently pointed to me and replied “Sai will show everyone. It was her idea.” Then much to my chagrin, she announced to my other classmates, “Sai will demonstrate to all of you how to roll the perfect chapatis.” So everyone gathered around our group and I was forced to show them how I managed to get the perfect round chapatis.

In case you are curious about the repercussions, I was made to run three times around the camp grounds. Come to think of it I was very skinny in school…..I attribute it all to running around the school grounds as punishment.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ten Things I love that begin with the letter "K"

I read a cool post on Lotus's blog about the ten things that she loves begining with the letter "B." I loved her post and offered to do one if she were to assign a letter to me. Being a regular reader of my blog and my blogging buddy she assigned the most obvious letter to me. Finally here is my post written after a lot of procrastination. It was rather difficult to come up with ten things that I love starting with the letter K (Gee and I thought it would be quite easy!)

1. *K*
Need I say more...I have blogged quite a bit about him previously. Since he is a very private person it will annoy him if I write more stuff about him. His name means "one who sees beauty in everything" or "one who has beautiful eyes" in Sanskrit. Incidentally before meeting him, his name was (and still is) one of my most favorite Indian names.

2. Knowledge
There is no single definition for knowledge. Merriam-Webster defines it as "the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association." I love to learn new things and strive to be very knowledgable in my field.

3. Kamal (Lotus in Indian)
It is one of my favorite flowers. The sight of a lake covered with lotuses is really beautiful. The flower I love the most is "Brahma Kamal," loosely translates as "Lotus of the Gods" a beautiful flower found in the spring time in the Himalayas. It is a sacred flower and is offered at the shrines of Badrinath. The most amazing thing about this flower is that it blooms at high altitudes in the cold weather. In addition, it blooms once in a while for a couple of hours between midnight until dawn.

The above picture was taken in our garden in Pune (which is far away from the Himalayas) seven years ago, when the entire plant bloomed with ten to fifteen flowers at midnight. K and I went crazy taking photos. The fragrance of these flowers is very subtle and soothing. K's mother had got the sapling from the Himalayas years ago and it never bloomed until that night. It surprised me that it bloomed in the tropical climate!

4. Kaleidoscopes
I absolutely love colors and kaleidoscopes fascinated me as a child. I remember my older sister's Physics project in the eight grade, when my mother helped her build a kaleidoscope. They had used shards of glass bangles in different colors. I remember being so fascinated by the myriad patterns created by them.

5. Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. I love the Himalayas and Kathmandu valley is so beautiful surrounded by these magnificent mountains. I love the old heritage sites in the vicinity like Patan, Bhaktapur, Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath Stupa. You can find more information here.

The above picture was taken by K at Bhaktapur, which is famous for its beautiful brick buildings with ornate wooden carvings.

6. Kitchen
Despite being a reluctant cook, I absolutely love kitchens. I love outdoor cooking and my dream home will have an outdoor kitchen with state of the art equipment. I also love to collect cookbooks, much to K's chagrin, as I seldom try out any of the recipes!

7. Kneading
I love kneading flour. It is very therapeutic and I can get all my frustration out on the dough! The positive outcome is I get rid of my stress and the Indian bread that I bake comes out excellent; therefore this exercise is a win-win situation.

8. Keys
Something as innocuous as keys, when you lose them become the most important thing in your life!

9. Kleenex
Since I tend to get emotional and cry for the most inane reasons, these are my best friends!

10. Kisses
Who in the world wouldn't love kisses? (Of course I mean from one's loved ones)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Only Pictures

The past few weeks have been very hectic for me therefore blogging has taken a backseat. Someone emailed me these photos, which I thought were quite funny and I am sharing them with you!

Can you imagine this on NJ Turnpike? YIKES! Angry Jersey Drivers!!!!

Meet the Asses?

My birthday gift to K this year. By the way the above gentleman is not K....I wasn't robbed at the cradle!

Need I say more?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Friday Word: Coffee

I always get the friday word from Sanjay's blog but found it this evening on Mona's blog. By the way I am an avid tea drinker and need my morning cuppa to function! I never drank coffee until I came to the United States. Now I drink black coffee, which is rather strong for a tea drinker who loves lattes. Of course I have my own anecdote associated with coffee.

My first job or rather my second job after graduation was as a trainee architect in one of India’s top architectural firms. My boss shared the office and studio with his erstwhile partners. So it was a fun filled space with many young architects like me. My father’s friend was a close friend of one of the ex-partners. When I started working he told me to totally steer clear of Mr. So and So‘s youngest son, as he had quite a reputation with the ladies. He told me that if the son asks you out for coffee, don’t go because who knows he might drug your coffee. My father’s friend had a febrile imagination perhaps because he had a lot of free time or perhaps he might be watching a lot of Bollywood films. I thought what he said was hilarious and I wanted to laugh out loud to his face but instead replied, “Don’t worry I only drink tea.”

Anyway Mr. So and So had more than one son and all his kids used to work for him. One of the sons used to hang out a lot with us. He looked younger than the other brothers and therefore I assumed that he might be the youngest son. He was an extremely well mannered and soft spoken person. He seemed like a thorough gentleman but I remembered the avuncular advice therefore would not talk to him at all. This guy was surprised at my behavior because I was introduced to him prior to joining the place and had chatted nineteen to a dozen with him. So my behavior definitely was a stark contrast from being Ms. Chatty chick to Ms. Snooty pants! For the longest time I would ignore him and not even say “Hello.” One evening, typical to Bombay, there was this awful monsoon deluge and we were stranded in the office as all public transit had come to a standstill. The guy graciously offered to give me and my three co-workers a ride. I refused but my friends accepted so I was forced to go with them. I definitely wouldn’t have braved going home by myself with the city coming to a standstill! The four of us sat chatting in the car, while braving the traffic jam. The guy of course ignored the other people and asked me a lot of questions, which I first answered grudgingly. Then one of my co workers asked him if his youngest brother were out of town. So I asked the guy “You have a younger brother.” He said “Yes I do and he is on vacation. Why do you look so surprised?” I replied “Oh I didn’t know that, I always thought you were the youngest.”

Anyway as I got to know the guy well, I found that we had a lot of things in common; our attitudes, aspirations, hobbies, sense of family etc. We gradually fell in love and I am married to that guy for the past ten years. Whenever he makes coffee for us, he never fails to inform me with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, “Drink up honey, it is not drugged.”

Saturday, January 13, 2007

About Devotion and Posteriors

First of all let me wish all my Hindu readers best wishes for Makar Sankranti. To all my Maharashtrian readers "Til gul ghya goda bolaa."

This day is supposed to be an auspicious days for Hindus and is celebrated with fervour. It marks the six month period of the sun's travel to the north called "Uttarayana." It has different names in different parts of the Indian subcontinent and each region has their own typical festivities associated with it. If you are interested you can read here.

In my state (Maharashtra) women make round balls of sesame and molasses called til gul. These are exchanged as token of goodwill. It is cold during this time and sesame seeds are supposed to provide warmth to endure the season. For a period of three weeks since Makar Sankranti Maharashtrian women have get togethers called "haldi-kumkum" in their homes. Other married ladies are invited and the hostess buys gifts for all her guests. My mother would host that in our home when we were children. It was a fun occassion to wear her sarees and traditional jewelry. When we grew up, we were so busy with our college and exams that my mother stopped hosting them. She and my mother-in-law had seperately hosted one for me ten years ago, when I was a newly-wed.

This evening I went to the temple. I went around the time for the evening prayers. Whenever K is with me, he rushes me and doesn't let me attend the evening prayer because it absolutely bores him! Since I was by myself I waited to attend it. The priest sounded the conch shell for the evening arati. I absolutely love the sound of conch shell and bells.

There were around 20 to 25 people gathered there. They passed around the prayer books and people were reciting from that. It was a very beautiful evening. While singing praises to Goddess Durga, I noticed the guy in front of me oblivious to the surroundings and the prayer, caressing the posterior of his significant other. Then there was one section of the prayers where one claps their hands and sings along with the priest. The entire time this man was rythmically patting his significant other's derriere. It doesn't seem funny now but at that time it seemed really funny. I kept a straight face the entire time but there was a woman standing next to me who actually giggled rather loudly! I am assuming that she might have seen what I saw. The priest stopped the service and implored in Hindi, "Shanti ka daan deejiye," which literally translates as please donate some peace and quiet. I had never heard that expression before and thought that it was even funnier. I was ready to explode. I cannot believe that I kept a straight face the entire time. The time till the conclusion of service and my rushing to the car to laugh seemed like an eternity!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Multiple uses of incense sticks

As I had blogged earlier, I grew up in a family with sisters and we had no brothers. Typical to Indian families or families in general, there was absolutely no cussing in my parent’s home or around us. When I was about five or six, I was walking home from my school bus stop with my servant and I heard some random person on the street call out his friend’s name and they greeted each other by saying “Hey Mother*****” in Marathi. A child’s memory is like a sponge so I picked up the word and I tried it out by greeting my older sister “Hey Mother******, without realizing what it meant. My older sister was around eleven years old at that time and although she didn’t know what that word meant….she was old enough to know that the word was taboo. So she did what any self-respecting older sibling would do, by telling my parents what I had uttered. My parents called my name in a very stern voice which spelled trouble and asked me where I had heard the word. I told them where I did and they told me to never repeat it again.

My mother also threatened that if she ever heard me say this again she would burn holes in my tongue with incense sticks. Now before you call child service let me tell you that my parent’s are all talk and they are in fact very gentle and incapable of any violence. Of course we sisters were too timid to challenge them! They would sometimes threaten, “Do your homework or else?” Sometimes as a child I was tempted to ask what the “else” would entail. Since I am a strong believer in the proverb discretion is the better part of valor, I never implemented my thoughts into action.

This morning I accidentally slipped on the kitchen floor and banged my head against the cabinets. My forehead sustained a bruise and a cut. My reaction was an involuntary f-word, when the pain caused my brain to explode. Ironically at that time I was getting ready to do my morning prayers, which are certain chants in Sanskrit, and was just about to light incense. I wondered how my mother would react today, were she to hear me say this.

Anyway that reminded me of the time I heard the F-word for the first time. Namita Gokhale had published her novel “Paro: dreams of passion,” when I was probably in the sixth grade. I read her interview in one of the magazines where she said that she didn’t think what the deal was about using the F-word in her book or something to that effect. I was curious and looked it up in the Oxford Dictionary and didn’t find an entry. So I asked one of my wise classmates if she knew what it meant and she replied that it was slang for the word “Gender.”

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Chicken in Coconut Curry

The above picture is taken from wikimedia website. I forgot to take pictures of the finished dish.

This is a very traditional Maharashtrian chicken dish, which is typically eaten with fried dumplings called "vade." I cannot believe there is a wikipedia entry to this dish! If you are interested you can read it here and here. Being a reluctant cook I only made the chicken dish and absolutely had no interest to make the dumplings. There is no way I am going to spend the whole day slaving in the kitchen! Anyway here is the recipe as I have learnt it from my mother if anyone cares or is interested to know how to make it.


One mid-size chicken cut to small pieces.


2 tsp turmeric powder

Juice of two lemons

2 tsp red chilli powder

Salt to taste

Marinate the chicken with the above mixture for atleast an hour.

As I had mentioned earlier I make my own garam masala as i find it very therapeutic. The aroma of the roasted spices takes me to my mother's and grandmother's kitchen.

Garam Masala

Garam Masala:
2 tb sp corriander seeds
3 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 tsp peppercorns
1-2 tsp cloves
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp green cardamom
5-6 bay leaves
2-3 star anise
1 tsp mace
With a drop of oil, roast corriander seeds and cumin on medium heat. Then add the other spices and roast them well on low heat. After cooling grind it fine on a masala grinder. You can also use a coffee bean grinder if you want.

Coconut & Onion Masala:

1 cup dessicated coconut.

1 finely chopped onion.

Roast the dessicated coconut in a pan till it turns a nice peach/biege in color. Set aside and let it cool. You don't need to add oil as coconut itself is oily.
Add a drop of oil and saute the chopped onions till it turns colorless and then a nice brown color. Set aside and cool.
Grind coconut and onion seperately to a fine paste in the grinder. After that you may mix the two.

Ingredients for the curry:
4 onions finely chopped
1/2 tsp asafetida
2 tb sp ginger paste
2 tb sp garlic paste
2 tomatoes finely chopped
2-3 tsp red chilli powder
1-2 tb sp of the above-mentioned ground garam masala
1 tb sp oil
Salt to taste


Heat oil in a wok and add asafetida. Add onions and saute them till they are colorless. Then add the ginger and garlic paste. Then add the red chilli powder as that gives the curry that red color as you see in the above image. Add the tomatoes and saute the mixture really well.
Add the chicken pieces and mix very well. Add the ground garam masala and cook for about five minutes. After that add the ground coconut and onion and water as per the desired level of consistency and bring to boil. It takes around 20 to 25 minutes to make this dish.
Garnish with fresh cilantro. This is accompanied by a salad of onions with lemon. We had it with chapati (Indian bread) as the traditional dumplings are fried and don't agree with K's and my slim waistline!


Please note: The quantities that I mentioned for the ingredients are approximate but accurate enough to give you an idea of proportion.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Where is winter?

Till last year I didn't care much about winter. I love spring, summer and fall but hate winter. Snow looks lovely but it is the ice that scares me. Few years ago, I had fallen on black ice twice, within a span of two months and had hurt myself on my tail-bone. I literally landed on my posterior! Consequently, for months after that I had a lot of discomfort and couldn't sit. Also I associate the dull grey colors of winter with depression and loneliness.

This year as you all know it has been rather warm. This morning I went to work with a light jacket and in the afternoon stepped out without a jacket, which is so bizzare for January. It was 61 degrees this afternoon and tomorrow it is going to be in the upper 70s.

I cannot believe I am saying this but I MISS WINTER! I was looking at the above picture taken a few years ago wistfully.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

About mango trees and delinquent behavior

I read the review of Madhur Jaffrey’s book “Climbing the Mango trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India,” written by Lotus on her fabulous blog. I have my own childhood memory to blog about. Those who are from the Indian subcontinent will of course relate to the significance of mangoes and mango trees in our lives.

I studied in a convent school. To my non-Indian readers, catholic schools in India are not parochial schools but are in fact secular! My school grounds covered if I am not mistaken, an area of about +/-7 acres. There was the main school building, the convent and then the auditorium building. We had a beautiful cluster of mango trees in the backyard away from the school buildings. Our principal, Sister C was a martinet. Her main aim was to make all our lives miserable. She hated all of us, especially me, because she wanted all of us to be prim and proper ladies and I refused to toe the line. She always compared me to my older sister who was ever so gentle and always had a lady-like demeanor as opposed to yours truly who was a total tomboy! Sister C hated my guts and minced no words to let me know that.

When I was in the ninth grade she punished my class including me (or rather especially me) and made us stay the whole day under the mango trees. This was in late March when the academic year is ending in India and is also the onset of summer. During this time the trees are laden with raw mangoes. My classmates and I had a ball because we ate raw mangoes and played Holi (festival of color) with color, which typical to convent schools was banned. At the end of the day when she summoned us to her office our faces were smeared with ink, water colors, chalk, crayons, which were our make-shift Holi colors. That was one of the best days and highlights of that academic year! We had three divisions “A,” “B’ and “C,” with around 35-40 girls in each class. The following week my class told the girls from the other two divisions about this fun-filled “punishment.” So we all decided to harass her by screaming in unison, one class after the other so that she once again sends us to spend the entire day under the mango trees.

We had only one male teacher in our school, who taught drawing in an all girl’s school. The poor guy is an extremely mild-mannered man and is an accomplished artist who graduated from my alma mater, Sir JJ School of Art. He spoke broken English and spoke a rural dialect of Marathi therefore became a butt of my classmate’s jokes. I couldn’t join in because he used to teach me oil painting after school hours and I was scared of my mother and the consequences were he to complain to her! I am still in touch with him and even today he tells me how well mannered I was. Little does he know why? Anyway my classmates started harassing him almost reducing him to tears. He rushed to the Principal’s office to complain about us. Sister C walked in our class to find out who the miscreants were. At that very moment the next class, on cue, started screaming. She ran to the next division when the third class started screaming. She ran from one classroom to the other like a chicken with it's head cut off. Finally she summoned all of us and someone squealed to her what the great plan was. She was livid! That person even told her who all were behind this.

She called me (gee I wonder why) and four other classmates or brains behind this operation to her office. She went on and on about how we were a disgrace and totally un-ladylike in our behavior and how disappointed our parents will be etc. The entire time in her office I was thinking about my mother and the consequences. Suddenly she called out “V’s sister” (she never called me by my name but called me “V’s sister”). I looked up and she asked “What do you have to say about this?” I shook my head and stared at my toes….my thoughts still on my mother and the ominous consequences. Then she asked me “What do you want me to do?” I looked up and noticed the quote above her desk, which I read loud with a poker face, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” My other classmates started giggling.

Sister C offered me two alternatives; one that I would run around the grounds five times and then write 100 times, “I will not be insolent and will always behave in class,” in my notebook OR she will talk to my mother. No prizes for guessing what I chose! By the way, that afternoon I added “insolent” to my vocabulary. Thank God it was easy to guess it’s spelling….otherwise I don’t know what else she would have done to me. She called our behavior “delinquent like.”

PS: Out of the five of us; I am an architect, my two classmates became doctors, one has a Ph.D and the fourth became an engineer. Fortunately, none of us landed in jail as Sister C had predicted that afternoon!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Restoration at Heritage sites

For the past few weeks in our free time K and I have been scanning our old photographs. All our negatives and K’s childhood photographs and negatives were destroyed in the infamous 2005 floods in Bombay. K’s parent’s home is very close to the Arabian Sea and they have always had problem with water accumulation during the monsoon but it got rather worse year before last, when for the first time it entered their home. I don’t want to start ranting about the environmental issues that completely irritate the urban planner in me because this blog is for entertainment purposes only.

Among the destroyed negatives were of this vacation that K, our dear friend A and I had gone on several years ago. We took a road trip (K drove the entire time) to Hampi, Pattadakal, Badami, Aihole and of course Goa! We had spent three weeks traveling through villages in Karnataka taking pictures, painting and having an absolutely fabulous time. K and I were in that phase where we wanted to see and experience our country and not do anything touristy. Of course we moved to the United States so haven't had a chance to go to other parts of our country as we had planned. Now whenever we visit, it is only to see our families. It was quite an adventure as we negotiated our way through villages where the milestones were in Kannada, a language none of us could read or even speak. We found our way through because people are extremely friendly, kind and respond to furious waving of hands!

Anyway the above picture is taken at Hampi, which is located within Vijaynagara, which was the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. The above sculpture is of Narasimha, the fourth of the ten avatars of Vishnu, the Preserver and one of the icons of Hindu trinity. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the horizontal strip traversing across the knees of the sculpture. We asked questions and came to know that it was installed by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) because the sculpture couldn’t stand the test of time and this was constructed to render support so it does not disintegrate. It really bothered us because one would want to restore work so that the integrity of the original piece is maintained. This horizontal strip literally strips away the beauty. K and I are standing next to it, so you get an idea of the human scale. They also had a barrier installed because a lot of tourists vandalize these historic sites. I guess people don't value what they have unless it is taken away from them.

The above sculpture is of Nandi, the bull, which is found at the entrance to all Shiva temples. We captured locals sitting and gossiping on the steps blissfully unaware that they are being photographed. There were others who shied on spotting K with the camera. Gossiping in the compounds of temples, by wells, large trees in the center of villages are typical locations for social interaction in rural India.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Goals for 2007

I hate the word “New Year resolutions” because that means you will break them as soon as you make them; maybe not as soon but probably a week, a month or at the most three months later. Therefore I don’t make resolutions….the past year I made a resolution to lose five pounds but instead gained 15 lbs. Hence there will be no resolutions for 2007. I will strive this year….not resolve!

The most important thing I will be striving for this year is resilience. I will not let anything get to me. I will understand that things are beyond my control and the universe balances things out and it all works in your favor eventually. In fact the final result is much better than what you had in mind when you planned things and they didn’t go as per your plan! I won’t keep any expectations from anyone and therefore will not feel disappointed or let down by people.

I will strive to be more patient…..well that is one difficult task…..but hey why not? Wait, I will resolve to be more patient, which I think is a more realistic goal.

I started blogging in September 2006. It has been an enjoyable experience so far and it is very addictive. I love the fact that I can write my thoughts in relative anonymity, except for my husband, sister, sister-in-law and my two very dear friends who read my blog yet never comment (oops! my sister-in-law does comment....please forgive me!). I have also met wonderful fellow bloggers, whom I would not have met otherwise. Therefore I hope to continue blogging in 2007 as well and hope to meet more nice people. To the ghost readers out there, please leave me a comment or at least a “Hi” so I know who you are.

Among other things:

I thought I might share this abstract that I did last year….wow it feels rather weird to say that….because it was only a few months ago. It is done on an 16” by 24” Arches hot press paper and of course the medium is water colors. I had resolved in 2005 to start painting again, which I did after seven years. I will therefore not give up painting in 2007. In fact I even want to start oil painting again. I prefer oils to water as it is a very forgiving medium. I have had a lot of "happy accidents" in water colors.