Saturday, October 31, 2009

My BIG Day


This is my BIG day!  I got my first recognition from blogadda for my post on Venkateshwara Darshan.

Thank you blogadda!  

My special sincere thanks goes to all the readers of my blog, who had been reading and commenting and encouraging me, all these days.  If you had not done so, I would have gone into oblivion!  

Thank you all!  God bless you, friends! 

Oh, I forgot to thank my son, who introduced me into blogging! Thanks bete!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Tirupati Venkateshwara Darshan - A Very Rare Happy Darshan

I had been to Tirupati Venkateshwara temple in  Andhra Pradesh, many times in the past years and used to come back frustrated after standing in the queue of unruly crowd for hours together, then having the darshan of Venkateshwara just for a fraction of a second or at the most, one second!  Still, we were going there again and again, because this god is our family deity  (Trichy Gunaseelam temple also) and we are supposed to visit these temples every year, which we don't follow (!) regularly, but do it at least once in 2-3 years (my son is rolling his eyes!). I prefer Gunaseelam temple, which does not attract much crowd and  a more peaceful place than Tirupati.

This time, my sister-in-law had booked for 'Tiruppavaadai Seva' (she had booked for this seva 5 years back, for Rs.5000/-) for which, apart from the couple, who book the ticket, 5 others can accompany them.  Thanks to her, we had a lifetime experience!

This seva was conducted in the mantap, which is in front of the main deity.   A huge mound of puliyodarai rice (tamarind rice) was spread in the shape of a rectangle (around 6-7 'long  x 4' broad x 2' high, approx.) with rounded corners, on a wooden plank, at the center of the mantap. The edges were carved like steps and the flat top had 7 mounds, depicting seven hills - four small mounds on four corners, two, next to the front two mounds and one huge mound at the center.  

The ticket holders were asked to sit on both sides of the rice hill and sankalpa was taken, i.e. the couple were asked for their and their family members' names, nakshatra, gothra (family lineage)  and the priest repeated with a plate of flowers which were touched by the couple. These flowers were used in the pooja later on.  We sat behind them.  Then, the mantras were recited for about 20-25 mts.   After aarthi, the couple were allowed for darshan first.  Then, we went inside. Normally, we are allowed to stand and have darshan near the dwaara paalakaas. Only during some sevas, the devotees are allowed inside.  

The inner area (Garbha Gruha) was dark and just the diyas were lit and the deity stood there, a medium sized idol,  without much ornaments - a dark stone statue with just shankha, chakra and the other two palms/hands,  in gold. The usual kireeta (crown) was not there on the head!   The feet were not covered with gold. The torso had just a yajnopaveetha (sacred thread), a folded angavastra and a blue dhoti in the waist.  The naamam also did not have any diamonds, just plain naamam (two white straight stripes on the sides and a red one in the middle)on the forehead.  The glittering jewellery and the kireeta, made the idol look huge and tall, on normal days, I think.  We had the normal darshan also, the previous evening - the usual flash of a darshan!

As the whole world knows, Lord Venkateshwara is the richest god in the world and the idol is always covered with huge emeralds and diamonds.  This time we had the darshan of the original idol, for the first time.   Normally, when we come  out, we just feel relieved and breathe easy.  This time all of us never expected this type of darshan.  We were sort of dazed and we will never ever forget this incident in our lives.  

I got this video of the pooja of Lord Sri Venkateshwara, which was shot in the year 1966.  

During the abhishekha, you can see the original vigraha (idol).  We saw this, which we had not seen on our previous visits.  Vishnu Sahasra Naama is heard in the beginning and later on, the famous Carnatic singer Balamurali Krishna and Ghantasaala are singing in the background.  

This also is an old video clip, which is very very interesting:

We can see the deity clearly.  Each and every part of the idol can be seen clearly.  I noticed, one more thing...they sang a stanza of Tamil 'Thiruppaavai' !  Thiruppaavai was written by Aandaal, for Kannan (Lord Krishna), like Meera wrote songs on Kaanha .  This is news to me! Famous Telugu playback singer Ghantasaala is singing in the background.   Laddoos are carried in cane baskets!   The devotees were able to see aarti and then the priest places 'jhataari' on the devotees' heads, which is not done now...too much crowd!

I thought of booking tickets for this seva, but was told that it is not available for another 7 years!  This seva is done only on Thursdays and is in high demand, naturally!  Anyway, I am happy I had this chance of a good darshan this time.

Temple Gopuram Photo courtesy: Amit Vasisht.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

50 Glorious Years of Doordarshan - II

Hum Log:

I liked the title, the  Outlook magazine gave for an article on 'Hum log':

'That epic moment when we spotted ourselves on TV'

When the serial started on  7th July, 1984, we, Indians,  never had a cue of  how it was going to affect our day to day lives, thereafter!  The most inspired thing about Hum Log was its name. These two words captured the essence of the show and what it meant for millions of viewers.  Hum Log was an account of both who we were and wished to be as well as of the times in which ‘we people’ lived. 

Though the serial was in Hindi and was more famous in the Hindi speaking belt, I noticed that even Tamil speaking people, who did not understand a word in Hindi, started watching it.  I was in Hosur(Tamilnadu) at that time and all my Tamil friends were watching it and if they did not follow some dialogues, they used to come home and ask me to translate!  My husband's very old aunts, who were in a small village in Trichy (Tamilnadu), became addicted to this Hindi serial!  Basesar Ram and Bhagwanti, Lallu, Badki, Chutki, Nanhe, Majhli, Dada, Dadi...became household names!  Whenever Basesar Ram started singing old Hindi film songs, all of us used to join in with him!  Majhli was an aspiring gazhal singer and she sang really well!

The best part was, at the end of every episode, actor Ashok Kumar would discuss the ongoing story and situations with the audience in a unique style, using Hindi couplets and limericks. In later episodes, after the show had reached the heights of popularity, he'd introduce the actors who played various characters in the serial and end his monologue with the various Indian language versions of the words "Hum Log." I can still hear his sort of tired voice talking to us.

With 'Hum Log', the addiction of watching 9 pm serial started.  I used to make the children finish their homework and have dinner by 8.30 pm!  Till that time, I was particular not to switch on the TV, thought the children will get addicted!  But after 9, all of us got addicted, till about 10 pm!  Our thanks goes to Vasanth Sathe,  the I&B Minister at that time, who got the idea to start serials in our television and Manohar Shyam Joshi, the writer and P. Kumar Vasudev (an unfamiliar director till then!).

The serials of those days did not have advertisement break at all, if I remember correctly. After the huge success of 'Hum Log' the producers vied with each other to produce serials, which needed money...the start of catchy advertisements began!


I saw the re-run of  Buniyaad a few years back and so remember the story better than Hum Log story, which was also  written by Manohar Shyam Joshi and directed by the renowned director ('Sholay' fame) Ramesh Sippy.   This serial was first aired in 1986.

The story is based on the Partition time, or rather the after effects of the Partition.  The main character,  Master Haveliram  was a patriotic and a very principled man and chose teaching as his way of constructing an ideal society of dreams. 

The story begins with a very youthful and exuberant Haveli Ram (Alok Nath) falling in love with his student Lajwanti (Anita Kanwar).  Alok Nath is in no way handsome, neither is Anita Kanwar any epitome of beauty, but I can still feel the chemistry between them.  Lajwanti will just lift her eyes up with all the love she felt for him and look at Haveli Ram ...I have got goose bumps now, I can feel their love by just remembering the scenes, after so many years!  He used to speak pure Hindi and was a very shy and straight forward character!  Throughout the serial he was addressing her with respect...Lajoji!

They marry and have three children. Each one was played by an iconic actor of the television at that time.  The story shows the children grow up and marry and have children and live in true old pre-independence style. 

In the serial, Haveli Ram goes missing. While all others think that he is dead, his wife Lajoji refuses to believe so. The whole country was hysterical. And when he returned, it was the talk of the town - we realized the power of television for the first time. 

Of course, there is Veerawali (Kiron Joneja), Haveli Ram’s sister and her own story.  And try as you might, you cannot forget Lochan (Soni Razdan) who plays the bitchy wife of the timid older son,  played by Dalip Tahil.  I liked Mazhar Khan (second son) who played a rogue character. Kanwaljeet (third son) was tall and so handsome!  Asha Sachdev, who played in a negative role, as Haveli Ram's sister-in-law, acted very well, with her huge eyes rolling all the time!  Vijayendra Ghatge (Veerawali's friend) became famous for his voice (everyone admired him more,  because he was a blue blooded prince in real life!).

These lines became popular in those days, don't remember more details, though:

"Lajoji (Anita Kanwar) ne khaya badaam,
usme se nikla Haveliram (Alok Nath),
Haveliram ne kholi almaari,
usme se nikli Veerawaali (Kiran Juneja),
Veerawaali ne khaya paan,
usme se nikla Vrushbhaan (Vijayendra Ghatge)."

I tried my best to get the original title song of Buniyaad, but could not.   Anup Jalota sang this one in a concert:

Palchhin Palchhin Tere Mere Jivan Ki Yahi Buniyaad

Later on, DD Metro came and film based serials like Superhit Muqabla, Show Theme etc. became famous. But people who have seen these serials will never enjoy television, like they did, in those days. Whenever people got together, the main topic of discussion was these serials. People came home early to watch them, sitting with the family. I remember planning to go to movies on non-serial days!

Will write more about other DD serials, which affected me most, in the next part! 

The first part of this post is here!

Monday, October 19, 2009

50 Glorious Years of Doordarshan

It seems like ages since we  last woke up to the music of shehnai playing softly and swirls of orange turning into a Doordarshan logo .  And then, our favourite 'Vandemaataram' song!

Now...let me think...when did I 'see'  Television, for the first time?  In 1975, in Chennai, my neighbour had bought it and invited us to come to her house to watch it.  We did, maybe two or three times.   

We shifted to Bangalore, in 1977.  In 1981,  we bought our first black & white TV - ECTV.  The telecast had started on the Karnataka Rajyothsava Day (Nov.1st, 1981), for the first time,  in Bangalore.   The first movie in Doordarshan was 'Shankar Guru' - Kannada Superstar Rajkumar's movie.  We just did not put the board 'houseful'...our quite a big hall, veranda, everywhere, our neighbours were sitting and waiting to watch this movie!  

This post is a happy tribute to our favourite DD.

Our Doordarshan has turned 50, this year!  Doordarshan had a modest beginning with the experimental telecast starting in Delhi on 15th September, 1959, with a small transmitter and a makeshift studio. The regular daily transmission started in 1965 as a part of All India Radio. The television service was extended to Bombay and Amritsar in 1972. Till 1975, seven Indian cities had television service and Doordarshan remained the only television channel in India. Television services were separated from radio in 1976. Each office of All India Radio and Doordarshan were placed under the management of two separate Director Generals in New Delhi. Finally Doordarshan as a National Broadcaster came into existence.

We have got so many channels to watch now.  High Definition TV also has come.  The quality of telecast and programmes are amazing... now, it is very tough, probably impossible to keep track of the programmes aired on a dozen different television channels.  We were happier with our Doordarshan with all the '‘Rukavat ke liye khed hai’ (with coloured stripes on the screen!)too!  We used to wait for our Sat. Sun. evening movies.  Sunday afternoon's Regional movies.  We had watched some very good Bengali and Marathi movies with sub-titles.   Now, feel sick of overdose of movies!  I remember watching deaf and dumb news and translating it with the 'sound' switched off, with my children!  

Whether it was watching 9 pm serial or news, the whole family used to sit and watch.  'The World this Week's Pronoy Roy (English) and S.N. Dua (Hindi version) were familiar to everyone.  News readers, Salma Sultan with a single rose in her hair, near her ear, Usha Albequereque with her flawless English, Geethanjali Aiyer, Mrinal Pande...I can list some more...

I remember the then I & B Minister Vasanth Sathe, who introduced colour television in 1982, participating in a New Year's Eve party with some peculiar costume and mask etc.  It was very entertaining than our current filmy based New Year Eve's programmes.  

Apart from the family serials (I will write about them later, because it is going to be too long a story!),  general knowledge serials like the Quiz programme by Sidhdharth Basu, 'Contact' by Ronnie Screwaala,  'Turning Point' by Girish Karnad and Naseeruddin Shaw (my son got a prize for writing the correct answer for a weekly question at the end of every episode!), 'Bournvita Quiz Contest' by Derek O'brien, Surabhi, by Renuka Shahane and Sidhdharth Kak, Rajini (Priya Tendulkar had acted as a social activist)...all non-filmy serials, but the whole family got involved in watching these serials.  We used to keep 10-20 post cards at home, for replying the quiz questions of Surabhi, Turning Point etc.  Special mention should be made for 'Bharath Ek Khoj'. My small school going children were seriously watching this serial, like they watched 'Friends' in the later years!  

I cannot forget 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhaara'...people from every part of India, were happy hearing their language and seeing VIPs of their area, in this song...

Now, we switch on our television at 9 a.m. to watch 'News'...not DD theme music!
Let me write about the Doordarshan serials which touched our heart,  next.

Read this news today, 5th Oct.'17 about the great news readers:


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bird Loving People Of Kollukudipatti Village Celebrate Soundless And Smokeless Deepavali


WINGED VISITORS: Migratory birds nest at Vedankudi Bird Sanctuary.

Just a couple of days back, my friend, Indianhomemaker had posted an article, expressing how the smoke and sounds of Deepavali fireworks, affect the basic instincts of the birds and animals. She writes:

'Have we traumatized and confused them by exposing them to harmfully loud noises? Every Diwali humans instinctively cover their ears to protect them from their own celebrations. Animals and birds have sharper hearing, but no way to cover their ears.'

I read this article yesterday in Times of India and felt happy to know that some good humans are still there to give importance to the birds and animals' feelings.

Saturday night across the country will be lit up by firecrackers shipped mostly from Sivakasi. But barely 90km away, a tiny area along Sivaganga, in Tamilnadu,  will ensure that the skies remain dark and quiet on Diwali. For three decades, Singampunari hasn’t set off a single firecracker for fear that it will scare away exotic birds that nest in the Vedankudi bird sanctuary. Migratory birds wing in here from Siberia, Russia and Europe.

Kollukudipatti and Vedankudipatti villages are both close to the 40-acre Vettankudi Bird Sanctuary off Madurai-Tirupathur road in small drainage basins.

V Selvaraj of Kollukudipatti says 500 families in the two villages abide by the unwritten rule that bans firecrackers. An ardent bird lover, he regularly visits the sanctuary and says it’s a treat to watch the birds and create awareness about the need to protect them.

P Swarnavalli, another villager, says even children do not pester parents for firecrackers. ‘‘We tell them about the shivering chicks in the nests and how they can die due to shock. They do not ask for fireworks" she says.

A couple of Red Bulbuls nested in our garden recently and I have seen the chick birds growing up, day by day.  The parents took so much care to bring them up.  It is not easy when they nest on a tiny plant, which is near the road with heavy traffic.  Thank god, they grew up and flew away, without any harm.  Every villager in the Kollukudipatti village,  must be feeling like the parent birds, to protect them from any harm.  

Hats off to them!

Edited one hour later to add:

Happy Deepavali to you all...I have already wished in my previous post, but this post  also seemed important for posting today!

Happy Deepavali To All My Friends Here


I wish all my blog friends and their families, a very very

Happy  Deepavali!

May this festival bring happiness and prosperity to all of you!

God Bless you all!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Medical Advancements...Feel Happy As Well As Scary


'Spider pill' used for scans'

I was suffering from allergic dry cough for a long time and it was very difficult for me to talk continuously,  even for 2 minutes.  I was taking some treatment, but nothing worked.  One doctor asked me to undergo 'endoscopy' to know how far the allergic ulcers had spread in my throat (later on, some other doctor said that endoscopy for allergic ulcers,  was unnecessary!).  

So, I went through the painful process of endoscopy.  One thick tube (more than 1/2" dia) with a bulb, was inserted through my throat.  I felt like vomiting but the doctor asked me to suppress the feeling and co-operate!    He had applied some lubricant on the outer side of the tube and still,  it was painful.  Somehow, it was over and I was given a clean chit which said that I had minor ulcers in my throat!  I got cured with 2 years of consuming ayurvedic medicine later on and now, my throat is quite alright.

When my son sent this link, which describes the latest advancement in endoscopy,  I felt very happy.  People need not undergo this painful process hereafter and you have to swallow just a small pill.   Everything will be taken care of by the doctors who watch the pill going through every  nook and corner of our stomach and decide to repair the part, which is damaged!

Now, read this article and watch the video:

Scientists in Italy think they may have come up with a new way to scan for cancer of the stomach or colon.

The 'spider pill', which is fitted with a camera, is swallowed by the patient and once within the colon or intestine the legs are opened. Duncan Kennedy reports.

The video is interesting to watch.  The pill after finishing its job, comes out naturally...amazing, really!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bengal Tiger, Our Cats And Dogs, Are The Same!


My son sent this article yesterday. The two year old Bengal tiger, spent 24 hours at the top of a 15 ft. tower. Read further:

A Bengal tiger has become stuck at the top of a new 15ft (5m) activity tower at a North Somerset zoo after climbing it for the first time.

Two-year-old Tanvir has spent 24 hours on the "enrichment" tower at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall.

He took a few seconds to scale the tower, which has branch-like platforms designed to test his ingenuity.

But the zoo said after shinning up the exercise structure on Monday, he has become too frightened to come down.

Our cats and dogs, too were behaving like this. 

The black cat is our house cat, Zorro, when he was young.  The other one's name is Gundanna! My cousin's daughter (2 year old!) changed his name from 'Gunda' to 'Gundanna'.  We were happy with one cat, our Zorro and did not want too many cats inside our house.  So this fellow used to sit on the service veranda, eat and go.  Sometimes he used to sit and tolerate Zorro, playing with his tail!  He was always scared about even a small sound.  Used to get gashes in his face from other cats.  If some other cat chased him, he used to run up the Teak tree and wail. We used to stand on the parapet wall of our terrace, hold a stick for him, touching the tree and cajole  him to come down.  He used to be so scared that he was peeing and shitting with fear!

This kitten, Nero is Zorro's son!  He was very very playful.   This one also playfully went up the teak tree one night and it was raining heavily.  The mother was calling him from our veranda for sometime and then came inside and was telling us something.  We went behind her and saw Nero on the teak tree.  My husband went up a ladder and took him out.  Next second, this fellow came down running into the veranda and sitting near his mother, was watching Appa (my husband), climbing down the ladder slowly in the pouring rain!

Two days later, he was calling us for help from the next door neighbour's house,  at 10 in the night. He had gone up the roof top of their shed and did not know to come down!  Appa, again took the ladder, woke up the neighbour and brought him down!

Andy was our first pet!  A long post is getting ready about him!  He too was getting scared for small small things.  In our previous house, we had an iron ladder to go to the terrace.  He used to come (run) with me to the terrace easily.  But he never came down on his own, even once...he was so scared that he was asking me in so many sounds to carry him down and I was obeying him, always!

So, now we know that cats, dogs and TIGERS are the same! 

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