Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Even though the monsoon clouds

wink at us from afar
and shed a few tears now and then
on our parched land
the people of my state will not hesitate
from celebrating the month of Sawan (monsoon).
Sawan for us means

Henna tattoo painting
dancing peacocks
festivals with folk dances

girls on swings in mango orchards

and when the pitter patter of
raindrops are heard
delicious savories called
samosas and pakoras liven
the enjoyment

together with cups of'
hot sweet milky chai (tea)

the bhuttawala or corn seller
is seen at every street corner
roasting corn on the cob
which is served with
salt and pepper with a dash of lemon juice.

I bought these colocasia leaves very cheaply from the

vegetable market

and made colocasia rollups
with spices and gram flour (besan)
Last week Hindu women celebrated
Hariyali Teej.
They perform rituals in temples and
get together for music and dancing
wearing green sarees.
You can see henna tattoo painting
and girls on the swing.
They are singing special songs called Kajri.
Its like our Indian 'country" music
with delightful stories in them.

I recorded these short videos
from a TV program

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

A Wedding and A Funeral

The Book of Proverbs says;
it is better to go to the house of mourning than to
the house of joy.
But in these videos smiles and tears
are served in a cocktail .
Planning a wedding try this.
You will go down in matrimonial history as a trend setter -
trail blazer and no one, I mean
NO ONE will forget your wedding.
The embedding of this video has been
disabled. Go to this link watch it.

This Jazz funeral also is very unique.
If they play such music and rock my "box" (coffin)
like this.I will jump right out
and join the party,
taking the mourners to
the 'other side ' with me. Ha...ha...ha!
This is another way of "going down"

The brother of our church helper

visited him yesterday. He brought a box of homemade

sweets called gujiyas which he gave us too.

The poor have a sharing heart.

Jags saves money from his salary which he sends to his impoverished peasant family in the village.

They are farmers but the drought has hit them hard.

The village has been hit by a cholera epidemic.

The medicines the government is doling out in the inadequate Primanry Health Centers isn 't doing much good.

27 districts including mine have been declared drought affected.

Read more

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Charmed by Snakes - Naag Panchami

(Click to enlarge)

" Now the serpent was more crafty than
any beast of the field the
Lord God had made."
Gen 3;1

13Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
14The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; (P)He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."
Gen 3

Today is the Hindu festival

of Naag Panchami

Snake worship day

Although snake charmers are now banned from
performing .When my niece was
visiting 3 summers ago
she took these photos of a man
who came around with his wares.
He plays his pipe
and the cobra slowly rises
from his dreamy sleep
swaying to the movement of the musical instrument
I scanned some newspaper articles.
You can click on them to enlarge them,
There is a village of snake charmers close
to our city.I hope to visit it some day.
Snake charmers also have charms
and anti venom to "cure" people of snake bites
and other ailments.

(Click to enlarge)
Nag Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day of the moonlit-fortnight in the month of Shravan every year, according to the Hindu calendar when people worship the snake god.“Offering milk to snakes brings prosperity for the entire family, said Swastik, a devotee.This day also serves the purpose of wildlife conservation as millions of devotees refrain from harming snakes or any reptiles.Snake charmers, an otherwise impoverished lot, command importance on this day as devotees buy pairs of serpents and later release them in the forests.During Shravan month or (July-August) serpents invariably come out of their holes that get inundated with rain-water to seek shelter in gardens and houses. As such they pose a danger to man. It is, therefore, thought that snakes are worshiped on this day.Right from the time when mankind started acquiring some sort of culture, the sun and the snake have been invoked with prayers and ritual worship in most countries. In India, even before the Vedic times, the tradition of snake-worship has been in vogue. Courtesy - (ANI)
I am posting a snake dance video which I think you will enjoy.
It is from a Hindi movie based on a fantasy -folk tale.
The story is about a King and Queen Cobra who are the guardians of a magical stone in an ancient temple.
An evil snake charmer wants to procure
the gem in order to gain its enchanting powers.
The queen cobra comes to the house
of the king cobra (reincarnated as a prince) assuming human form
and marries him in order to protect him.
The King is unware of his true identity.
The snake charmer tries to charm and capture the queen.
When she hears the alluring music she
transforms herself into a dancing princess in order
to avenge her enemy who comes with his posse
of snake charmers.
When the song ends the King returns and is shocked to see his
wife dancing in front of strangers. That is why he strikes her.
I liked this movie and dance.
It was a great hit in the 80s.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

The Greenhouse Effect

In the past week or so we harvested these
vegetables from our garden.
Above are bitter gourd and eggplants.
The bitter gourd is the from the Pastor 's garden.
Ours did not do very well.

These are snake gourd or ninwa.
They are like zuchini.
We Cook them with cumin and onions
tempered with dried red chili

The neighbourhood boys broke
our banana branch.
I did not have the heart to throw the small green
fruit. So I made cooked them twice.
I like banana sabzi.

The is what we call a soop.
Its a grain-tossing tray.
You put your grain, pulses or spices in it and toss it to separate the dirt.
Its an ancient utensil
and found in most Indian homes, even the most
modern ones.
This one belonged to my grandma.
Its pretty old and worn out.
It is made of reed sticks.
These are greens called poe-ee.
I cooked them with channa dal. (pulses)

These are parwals.
The fruit of the betel vine.
This one is from the bazaar.
It is difficult to grow these in the garden
as it requires extra skill and care.
Many of these vegetables my Mom does not eat
I buy her vegetables
and cook the common ones from the garden
for myself.
Food prices are doubling.
Things we did not care for earlier
have assumed a great value.
This is a newspaper report.

NEW DELHI: Even as India's economy is said to boom, millions of its citizens are groaning under soaring prices of vegetables and food grains and

wish the government would do something about this, reports from across the country say. From Chandigarh in the north, to Ranchi in the east and from Bhopal in central India to Kerala in the south, a cacophony of voices has been raised against the relentless price rise, with the common man wondering when things would return to normal. While the poor have been worst hit, the middle class is also feeling the pinch. Tomatoes are selling at up to Rs 50 a kilo, cauliflower at Rs 42 a kilo and chillies at Rs 70 a kilo, playing havoc with household budgets and forcing people to drastically scale down purchases of non-essential commodities. Finance Minister P Chidambaram, at a news briefing here Thursday, made a passing reference to rising prices of vegetables, even as he focused on steps the government was taking to control the prices of food grains. But, even more than wheat, sugar and pulses, it is the rising prices of vegetables that have hit the common man the hardest. The national capital is no exception to the rising trend, with tomatoes costing over Rs 40 per kilo against Rs 15 a couple of weeks ago, cauliflower at over Rs 42 per kilo and okra at over Rs 22. Among pulses, moong dal is selling at Rs 60-70, an increase Rs 3-13 against a week ago. "For the past two weeks the prices of vegetables are affecting our budget. Looking at the high tomato price, we have curbed its use," said housewife Romi Dash. "Earlier we used to consume over three kg of tomatoes every week, but for the last two weeks we are managing just one-and-a-half kilo," Dash added. Traders said that while un-seasonal rain and a severe heat wave had affected production, the hike in fuel prices was also responsible for the rising prices. "Low production coupled with high transportation costs due to the fuel price hike is the main reason for soaring prices," said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

There was excitement and expectation
in the air when I switched on the TV early
in the morning.

Our sky was littered with clouds

And Idon 't possess the right
equipment to take sophisticated pictures

I just took potshots at the celestial tent.

The sky darkened for about 2 minutes.
It was a momentous occasion.
It was as if nature was taking a deep breath.

Everybody was elucidating the eclipse on TV
We watched the images and
live reports.

I have posted 2 videos here and news reports.

The first one is from a village in Bihar

This is how people watched the

eclipse from a charted airplane

Cloudy skies in large parts of northern and western India on Wednesday marred a clear view of the century's longest total solar eclipse but the celestial spectacle was clearly visible over Varanasi.
Tens of thousands of people across the country rose early to see the eclipse that was to begin at the earliest at 5:29 am and end at 7:41 am in India.

It was to have been clearly visible in places like Surat, Indore, Bhopal, Varanasi, Patna, Taregna near Patna, Daman, Darjeeling, Dibrugarh, Gangtok, Gaya, Itanagar, Ujjain and Vadodra.

A partial eclipse was to have been visible in many other towns and cities.
A total eclipse occurred when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, completely obscuring the sun. During the eclipse, totality is visible only from a narrow track on the surface of the earth.
( courtesy IBN7 LIve)

Report from Varanasi ( 3 hours from my city)
This morning, an ethereal blue-grey darkness descended on this eternal city of light. To the east across the Ganga, it was like God’s own eye flashing in the sky above, giving pilgrims, bathers and eclipse-watchers in the jam-packed ghats sights they are unlikely to forget in their lifetimes. While clouds blotted out the view in most other places in India, the century’s most spectacular total eclipse of the Sun was witnessed in full glory in holy Benaras. Also Read: Clouds spoil show in Targena It was a sight to behold. The eclipse displayed all the classical phases associated with the event. Seconds before the Sun was fully blocked by the lunar disc, a brilliant ‘diamond ring’ formed in the sky. Moments later, brightness dropped dramatically as totality began, a phase technically called second contact that began at 10 seconds past 6.24am . A roar went up at the ghats as people gasped and screamed in awe. Some stared in stunned silence while others shook hands with total strangers in fits of joy. The city was suddenly clothed in a surreal glow of faint light that was eerie, exhilarating and nothing like most had ever seen before. Up in the sky, a soft white halo formed around the black ball of the lunar disc. This was the Sun’s atmosphere, called corona (meaning a crown), that’s visible from Earth only during a total eclipse. The sight is often called God’s eye, and in Benaras on Wednesday, it appeared just that – a giant eye in the sky with a black ‘eyeball’ and a white ‘cornea’. Spots of light, called Baily’s beads, appeared around the edges of the Moon’s disc and in photographs clicked by lensmen, rarely-seen solar prominences were clearly visible. These are huge masses of fiery matter that get spewed from the Sun’s surface and are pulled back in by its gravity. At the same, planets like Venus and Jupiter came back on, shining brightly in the sky under totality. Birds around the ghats flew in random circles, confused and dazed by the sudden darkness hours after dawn. "I have waited 15 years to watch this stunning show," said Ravinder Singh, who had come from Patiala, where he teaches astronomy at the Punjabi University. "What a spectacle we have had. I’m privileged to have watched this peculiar view of nature." Other watchers, many of them gathered here from places across the globe, were just as awe-struck. "Wooooow," exclaimed Anindya, who is part of an amateur astronomer’s association in Delhi, when asked for a reaction. Mayank, another member of the group, asked back, "You want words?" Then, just after the total phase ended at 6.27am, another bright diamond ring dazzled in the sky, this one more mesmerizing than the previous. Then began the slow march of the Moon away from the Sun’s path, as thousands of dazed watchers tried to come to terms with the breathtaking show they had just witnessed. The fact that such a spectacle would not visit India in another 105 years just added to the momentousness of the occasion. Yet, at the beginning of the eclipse, it looked as if monsoon clouds would spoil the day for everyone. While the skies were clear at dawn, thick patches of clouds drifting in with the stiff breeze, blotting out the Sun just when the eclipse began. But the breeze soon blew away the obstacles, and by the time totality arrived, the clouds were incidental to the show. Meanwhile, the devout had been streaming into Varanasi’s ghats much before sunrise for the ritual dip in the river during the eclipse. Many of them chanted ‘Sita Ram, Sita Ram,’ as they made their way through the sea of humanity for the purifying Ganga bath to cleanse themselves of the ill-effects of the ‘grahan’. The ranks of bathers swelled as the eclipse progressed. By the time celestial normality was restored, around 7.27am, bathers were still coming in droves. Most residents of the city, fasted during the eclipse period in keeping with tradition.

Psalm 19
1The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork.
2 Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language; Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course.
6 His going forth is from the end of the heavens, And his circuit unto the ends of it; And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Total Solar Eclipse in India , July 22, 2009

A Total Solar Eclipse will be visible in India on July 22, 2009 from early morning 05:28 hrs to 07:40 hrs (Indian Standard Time). The total solar eclipse will last nearly four minutes — from 6.26 am to 6.30 am — in India and the sun will not be visible at all. In India, Total Lunar Eclipse will be visible in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Varanasi, West Bengal and Northeastern States. According to NASA, the solar eclipse on July 22, 2009 is a ‘Total Solar Eclipse’ and the Moon's umbral shadow on Sun begins in India and crosses through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China and ends in the Pacific Ocean.
It is the longest total solar eclipse in the 21st century and will not surpass in duration until next 123 years.
The total solar eclipse in India will be visible in regions around Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Surat (Gujarat), Darjeeling (West Bengal), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Patna (Bihar).
Majority of the regions in India will not have a view of the Total solar eclipse. As per NASA data, it will be a partial eclipse in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.

The path of the Surya Grahan Through India (Image from NASA)

The dark blue double line with circles indicates the path of Total Solar Eclipse which includes central India, Bhutan and parts of China.
The grid area is of partial eclipse. (image from NASA)
(courtesy Hindublog)
TAREGNA, India — Hordes of scientists, students and nature enthusiasts prepared Tuesday for the longest total solar eclipse of this century, while millions planned to shutter themselves indoors, giving in to superstitious myths about the phenomenon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009. Millions of people across Asia will witness the longest total solar eclipse that will happen this century, as vast swaths of India and China, the entire city of Shanghai and southern Japanese islands are plunged into darkness Wednesday for about five minutes.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009. Millions of people across Asia will witness the longest total solar eclipse that will happen this century, as vast swaths of India and China, the entire city of Shanghai and southern Japanese islands are plunged into darkness Wednesday for about five minutes. (AP
Wednesday's eclipse will first be sighted at dawn in India's Gulf of Khambhat, just north of the metropolis of Mumbai, before being seen in a broad swath moving north and east to Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China.
The eclipse will last 6 minutes and 39 seconds at its maximum point, but will be seen for 3 minutes and 48 seconds in Taregna, an obscure village, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of the Bihar state capital Patna. Scientists say Taregna will have the clearest view of the eclipse in India.
Over the past week the village has been swamped by researchers who will study scientific phenomena ranging from the behavior of birds and other animals to atmospheric changes affected by the eclipse.
Hotels in Patna were fully booked while taxis raised their rates sensing a brief opportunity in the sudden interest in the village.
Scientists set up telescopes and other equipment in Taregna a day in advance to make the most of the brief window of opportunity provided by the eclipse.
"We are hoping to make some valuable observations on the formation of asteroids around the sun," Pankaj Bhama, a scientist with India's Science Popularization Association of Communicators and Educators, said Tuesday.
A 10-member team of scientists from the premier Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore and the Indian air force will be flying and filming the eclipse as it becomes visible in different parts of the country, an air force press release said.
Thousands of people lined up outside a planetarium in Patna on Tuesday to buy solar viewing goggles. The goggles, costing 20 rupees (40 cents), are supposed to act as filters and allow people to look at the sun without damaging their eyes.
But millions across India were shunning the sight and planned to stay indoors, gripped by fearful myths.
Across India, even in regions where the eclipse was not visible, pregnant women were advised to stay indoors in curtained rooms over a belief that the sun's invisible rays would harm the fetus and the baby would be born with disfigurations, birthmarks or a congenital defect.
Krati Jain, a software professional in New Delhi, said she planned to take a day off from work Wednesday to avoid what she called "any ill effects of the eclipse on my baby."
"My mother and aunts have called and told me stay in a darkened room with the curtains closed, lie in bed and chant prayers," said Jain, 24, who is expecting her first child.
In the northern Indian state of Punjab, authorities ordered schools to begin an hour later than usual to prevent children from venturing out and gazing at the sun.
Still, it was not all gloom and doom. A travel agency in India is running a charter flight to watch the eclipse by air, with seats facing the sun selling at a premium.
(courtesy Associated Press)

The eclipse will be partially visible in Allahabad my hometown at about 6.24 to 6.26 am.I don 't have proper equipment to shoot photos of the eclipse but will attempt take photos of the atmospheric conditions and the sky.

Looking forward to witnessing this historic planetary event.

It is wonderful to see how our God has appointed the times and seasons for the heavenly bodies. They all function according to his instructions. Not a nano second can slip by un-noticed

Who cannot believe that only Divine Intelligence can create , plan and direct all that is seen and unseen in nature.

"For since the creation of the world God 's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have clearly been seen, being understood from what has been made,so that men are without excuse" Romans 1;20


Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sunday Blessings - A letter from AD 100

I want to share an ancient letter from my friend Sherri 's blog. It was quoted by Pastor Minor who answers questions bloggers send him.His answers are very insightful and I learn a lot from him. Sherri 's posts are full of wit and wisdom from everyday life and interactive too.She has a great sense of humour.

Below is an amazing letter from antiquity… a letter written to one Diognetus, around 100 AD. The author of the letter is unknown… although he does not seem to be a Christian. In this letter, the author describes the citizenship and behaviors of the early Christians. I find this description incredibly refreshing, since I believe it ought also to describe the Christians of 2009 AD. The letter is a little long, but worth the read, I think:

A Letter to Diognetus
For Christians are not differentiated from other people by country, language or customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange foreign dialect, or have some peculiar lifestyle.This teaching of theirs has not been contrived by the invention and speculation of inquisitive men; nor are they propagating mere human teaching as some people do. They live in both Greek and foreign cities, wherever chance has put them. They follow local customs in clothing, food and the other aspects of life. But at the same time, they demonstrate to us the wonderful and certainly unusual form of their own citizenship.They live in their own native lands, but as aliens; as citizens, they share all things with others, but like aliens, suffer all things. Every foreign country is to them as their native country, and every native country as a foreign land.They marry and have children just like every one else; but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are at present in the flesh” but they do not live “according to the flesh”. They are passing their days on earth but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws, and go beyond the laws in their own lives.They love every one, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich. They are short of everything yet have plenty of all things. They are dishonored and yet gain glory thorough dishonor.Their names are blacked and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others. Whey they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens, and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.To put is simply— they soul is to the body as Christians are to the world. The soul is spread through all parts and Christians through all the cities of the world. The soul is in the body but is not of the body; Christians are in the world but no of the world.

I want to fit this dscription.
Mother and I are watching Sister Act on Star Movies . My sisters and I studied in a convent school till Grade 12 and have such pleasant memories of our school days. I want to post this video from that movie.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Go Green

For lunch I will make besan ki roti
( spicy chapatis made with gram or chick pea flour)
to be accompanied with a hot chutney
comprising of garlic and red chili.
The rotis are spread with home made butter called ghee.
Mother does not care for these so i will
bottle gourd with potatoes for her.
These greens are called
chaw-la-yee. I don 't know the English name.
They are growing in my garden.
I made them with onion and cumin.
Plants fresh after the rain

We had a little rain this morning

Grateful for this much
The food prices are up 25%.
Yesterday I got onions and potatoes at a discount.

Today Nelson Mandela is 91 years old

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Street Wise

This morning after cooking dal, rice and greens for lunch
I set out to visit the OM (Operation Mobilization)
Christian bookshop which is having a sale.

While I was opening the front gate I witnessed
a traffic accident.
A motorcyclist crashed into a police jeep.
I recoiled in horror as I was not prepared to see
blood on the street.
But fortunately there was no injury.
The man got up, brushed off the dust and grime, collected his wits and drove off.
The cops stopped the jeep and one of them disembarked
but assessing the minor mishap
they carried on with their journey
as if nothing had happened.
No problemo -this is just mundane stuff.

I hired a cycle rickshaw to take
me to my destination.
I took several pictures from the moving vehicle.
The above is a block of modern apartments.
My BIL owned property there
to sell when the prices appreciated.

Roadside motorcycle repair shops near my house.

The black and yellow school taxis lining up
outside a Christian Boy 's school
to ferry children home.

These taxis are very popular with people of the
lower income group.
You can share them with others and only pay for the seat you occupy.

A petrol station

Another filling station.
In the background you can see the tower
of Mayo Hall,
A building erected by the British
in the memory of Lord Mayo.
It has been converted into a sports complex now.

A statue on a traffic island

Another view of the same sculpture.

Here is another person cast in stone.

When I reached OM Books,
I discovered I had left my handbag
with my money back home.
This really short circuited my trip.
I returned home to retrieve my purse.
Shelling out double transport money made me
want to kick myself.
I could have used it to buy another book
or some vegetables.
But life 's like that sometimes.
I bought some books
and I will show you those in another post.
I am very pleased with what I obtained.
Life is a journey through many terrainFrom gardens of pleasure to deserts of painFrom an ocean of love to a jungle of hateFrom Mountains of glory to canyons of fate.
There's a highway for joy and a highway for sorrowA Road for today and a road for tomorrow.
So choose your path wisely and walk with careIf you follow your heart, you'll find your way there.