Monday, October 29, 2012

Shopping For Deepawali, Is An EXPERIENCE In Chennai, Usmaan Road!

This post is Women's special!

Ranganathan street, T.nagar, off Usmaan road, where things can be bought at very cheap rates!  

Deepawali shopping had started a couple of weeks back and the above picture is the scene in Ranganathan Street, off Usman Road, in T.Nagar, Chennai! The new lot of sarees are displayed from Mahalaya Amaavaasai before Deepawali in all the shops in T.Nagar.  Here, in Tamil Nadu, Amaavaasai (New moon day)is an auspicious day to start anything good. Next day is called 'kari naal' and it is a bad day to start anything.  The shops are filled with new sarees from Amaavaasai. We should not go to the shops looking for good sarees a few days before and a couple of weeks after Deepawali!  You will be disappointed!

Usman Road, T.Nagar
Deepawali is on 13th November, this year.  Next weekend will be the peak days for saree and dresses for Deepawali sales! We can never go near the counter to have a good look at the sarees! Kumaran Silks and Nalli Silks are the oldest saree shops and they have got steady customers who buy from them for generations.

This is one of the oldest shops in T.Nagar.  This picture was not taken during Deepawali time!
Later on came Saravana Stores, Jayachandran Stores etc., where you can see crowds 365 days a year.  They are famous for selling spoons to sarees and furniture at subsidised rates! Pothy's also is always crowded! Chennai Silks is advertised a lot but the crowds mostly go to Saravana and Pothy's!  The traffic is diverted from 2 weeks prior to Deepawali in Usmaan Road! Even autos will not have space to move in the crowd! We can see cops mingling with the crowd to keep an eye on pick pocketers!

Sundari Silks is in North Usmaan Road (All other shops are mostly in South Usmaan Road).  This area is a bit away from the other famous shops and so a bit peaceful area for shopping.  They have got car parking area which is a big plus point.  Kumaran and Nalli Silks also have got car parking area, but Saravana Store and one more shop, Rmkv, haven't got car parking area.  I don't know how the govt. allowed the huge multi storied stores to do business in this crowded area! It must be money, as usual!

Normal day shopping in Usmaan Road!

Many of my family members shop from Kumaran silks mostly and we do it before the huge crowd starts coming to this area.  Now, Sundari Silks is becoming famous for their quality sarees - exclusive sarees. Only in this shop, we can sit on stools and select sarees! So, naturally, the sarees are a bit expensive, exclusive sarees, you know! Our family mostly go together 2-3 times for shopping...we exchange sarees if we don't like them. Some shops have got space with sunlight, to check the colour of the sarees.  The colour looks different when we see them at home.  We need sunlight to match the sarees and blouses too! Many  air conditioned shops don't provide space with sunlight.

Some shops provide chairs for the old and male customers to sit and wait with children while the women members shop for their sarees.  Some shops don't have them and I heard comments about some people avoiding those shops! It is not easy for men and children to wait for hours, standing.

Most of the shops have got salesmen who had been with them for many years and they judge the customers well and show sarees.  They work in shifts a few days prior to Deepawali.  On weekends - next two week ends - the shops will be open from 6 am itself, I was told and sell upto midnight! The salesmen are given bonus and a couple of days leave after Deepawali.  Some shops never close!

The interiors of most of the shops are beautiful, esp. rmkv.  Nalli is still maintaining the old look, which is nice.

Tulsi Silks in Alwarpet and Radha Silk Emporium in Mylapore are our favourite shops outside Usmaan Road shops. They too sell exclusive sarees without much difference in rates.

We, in my mother's place don't give much importance to Deepawali (Janmaashtami is important for us - Kannadigas).  My relatives don't buy new dresses for this festival.  But in Tamilnadu, wearing new dress is very important on Deepawali day after the traditional oil bath in the morning. Last year we had started our trip to Munnar on the Deepawali afternoon.  I saw everyone  on the road, even in small villages, wearing new dresses and all of them had the happy look on their faces, esp.  the children! My father used to save money in R.D. every month for using for Deepawali purchases for all of us (we had been following Tamilnadu customs after we shifted to Chennai from Udupi!)! It might not have been easy for a middle class family man to spend a chunk of the savings at one time.  But the fathers would do anything to see happiness in their children's faces (We were 5 children!)! We still remember those days when we wore new clothes and went to our relatives' houses to do namaskaar to the elders and collect money! What is your shopping experience in your area?!

Happy Deepawali to all my friends here!

P.S. (30.10.12):  The only draw back in T.Nagar shopping is most of the shops don't have clean toilets.  People come to these shops, esp. for wedding sarees, from far off places and shop the whole day.  They come in groups.  Last week we had been to Kumaran Silks and were waiting for the lift at the ground floor.  The stench from the toilets nearby was sickening.

The quality of food at the Woodlands hotel has deteriorated.  Saravana Bhavan is good, but is always crowded.  One more hotel named BKR, which is a good and neat hotel has come up opposite old GRT in South Usmaan Road. They have got car parking facility too! This is our favourite place for lunch nowadays! One more plus point is, the toilets are clean here!

Picture courtesy: The Hindu and google!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Craft Fair In Chennai - Sikki Grass Art From Bihar Was Impressive!

Valluvar Kottam, Chennai

We visited Craft Fair 2012 yesterday.  It is at Valluvar Kottam, Nungambakkam, Chennai.  We visit these types of fairs regularly.  Whether we buy things or not, it is interesting to see the different arts and crafts from different parts of our country.  

This time I was impressed by Sikki Grass art (the link is interesting!).  Sikki grass is a type of grass.  It is written there that the grass is 'vettiver'.  But Vettiver in Tamil means a type of root! The artisan, Dhirendra Kumar, from Bihar is making beautiful things out of this grass.  The grass is a sort of herb, he said.  He has got a website here. He supplies to all the Art and Craft outlets here, in Chennai.  He sells at reasonable rates, he says! Have a look at his handiwork:

Dhirendra Kumar's Sikki grass art gallery!

You can see the grass here.

I bought this! Looks beautiful!

I got this picture from his website.

I took photographs of other interesting galleries.  I selected pictures of unusual arts:

The fair is there until 14th Oct. '12.  Make a visit to this place.  It is interesting.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan Shastriji - Let Us Never Forget him!


I had always admired our second Prime Minister, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastriji... since my school days.  I had already written about him, long back.  Let me remind you and myself those portions about Shastriji: 

'Our generations' patriotism came out when Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri became Prime Minister of our country (1964-66) and he is one of the best Prime Minister we had and most of us became familiar with him when we did not have TV or reading newspaper was not a day-to-day habit for children, in those days. During the war with Pakistan, Shastriji asked us to skip one meal a day at least once a week and our whole school children skipped Monday night dinner. It was unanimous.' He said, 'If one person skips one meal a day, another might get his only meal a day'.  I think I followed it until I started working! 

When the war with Pakistan was going on, our country was facing food scarcity.  To encourage the farmers to produce more and praise the soldiers who were in the war front, Shastriji introduced the slogan 'Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan'.  I remember reciting this slogan after our morning prayers in school and after saying the National Pledge.  The pledge is in my earlier post here. I think those days' influence is still there in me.  I get goose bumps whenever I hear 'Vande Mataram' or 'Jana Gana Mana', which has become very rare now.  My children don't get emotional or stand up when they hear 'Jana gana mana'. Sometimes they stand up glaring at me! But the patriotism will come out when we get into trouble, I think, e.g. Kargil war.  People talked about it and donations were pouring from everywhere for helping the soldiers.

Though Shastriji looked like a soft person, he had the inner strength to steer our country through the war period.  Nobody would have taken the step to declare war against Pakistan. And he became our Prime Minister after the charismatic Nehruji. Still he was respected by the world leaders.  He came from a middle class family which might be the reason for his honesty, integrity and humility.  He was always a down to earth person.  He was very close to his mother till the end.

Have a look at this video of  the Peace Treaty meeting at Tashkent after the 1965 war with Pakistan.  He looks so timid and baby-like in front of the Russian leaders who are huge in body structure! I like his smiling face:

After his mysterious death at Tashkent, a memorial was set up in his name.  The inscription on it was 'Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan'.

You can read more about him here, in the wikipedia link. It says that Shastriji was born in Mughal Sarai in Chandauli district of the United Provinces, British India, in British ruled India in 1904, Oct.2nd.  Reading the word British India is not a good feeling!

He lost his father when he was an year old.  His mother brought up the children - he had two sisters. He graduated from Kashi Vidhyapeeth in 1926 and their graduation degree was 'Shastri'! He removed his caste name 'Srivastava' because he hated casteism.  He always said that India is the only place where all religions are treated equally. Though we see some perverts here and there now.

I feel that he is not given due respect/importance for what he has done to our country.  Today is Gandhi Jayanthi (I am a great fan of Gandhiji also).  Shastriji also was born today.  Very rarely we hear his name anywhere. Thank god, he was honoured with Bharath Rathna atleast.   One more person - great national leader, is another ex Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao.  He is also not given the importance he deserves. I remember another name, Vallabh Bhai Patel! How many of us know about him?

Let us remember the true national leaders on these days, like Republic Day, Independence day, their birth days, etc. The current leaders should keep aside their egos when national interest is concerned.



P.S.: Would we or our children skip a meal because our P.M. asked us to, when our country is in danger? We don't have a P.M. like Shastriji who is himself a sincere person.  Other leaders like Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Narendra it possible to count on them to be 'leaders'? Even Anna Hazare has lost his charishma.  What is your opinion?

Picture courtesy: Google

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