Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Beating Retreat (The Closing Ceremony Of The Republic Day Celebrations)!



I watched this ceremony of 'The Beating Retreat' in our Door Darshan channel just now! This year it was transmitted in HD and looked beautiful!

Before the advent of  Satellite channels, our whole family used to watch Independence day, Republic Day, the Beating Retreat celebrations etc. in DD, without fail., we see glimpses of them in TV news in the evenings.  The current generation would not be familiar with these celebrations.  I don't know how much even my children remember! Nobody has got patience to watch these ceremonies.

I loved the Air Force and Navy's bugles, pipes, the Army's drum beats etc. I got one and a half hour video.  You can FF if you are bored at some places and watch other parts.   The 44-45 mts.' beat  (from the start of the video) and the last segments are very good.  I loved nearly everything! The designs they made were beautiful, esp. 'Bharath' in Hindi. We should be proud of our Forces!  I was wondering how the parents of the soldiers would feel when they look at their children in these bands! Pranams to them!

Now, to my favourite patriotic song by Asha Bhonsle.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Women Who Influenced/Moulded Me - II

First let me thank my friends who liked the first part of this post .  I didn't have a plan to write about her, my maternal grand mother,  in the second part.  But when I spoke to my aunt, she gave me more information which will project her intelligent nature still more. 

I know you will agree that childhood memories influence our life without even knowing that it did so! We had built an independent house, some 18 years back in the suburbs of Chennai.  When his maama visited the house, he said that the hall looked just like his father's (my husband's father's) house in Coimbatore!

Normally, in our houses in Udupi, Tulasi plant is kept in the front side of the house.  Whenever any member of the house went out of the house, we did pradakshina to the Tulasi and then left the house.  It was a habit.  The front yard was huge and the Tulasi maadam where the Tulasi  was planted was also quite big.  And it was just like the one in our house! This was my design! Influence/memories! The only thing is, it was in the backyard, which is the norm in Tamilnadu... (again for the new readers, I am married to a Tamilian and follow 90% Tamil rituals!).

Our Tulasi katte (in Kannada!) was just like this in Udupi.  But it was in black colour!  My aunt (chikkamma) used to draw Shiva Parvathi and Radha Krishna drawings on festival days here, in colour powders, which were very very beautiful. Many small mud diyas were lighted during Deepawali days around the tulasi katte. Tuasi pooja also was done here during Deepawali.

She used to sing some bhajans and we used to repeat them after her, while clapping our hand rhythmically.  No jalra here like my paternal grandmother's house! We used do pradakshinas in the evening singing (I remember 'Shuddha brahma paratpara ram) after her.  She was leading us and we were going behind her like ducklings behind a duck.  I can imagine the scene even now, even though I must have been very small then!

No, I haven't taught my children these songs.  Whenever my mother visited or we visited her, she used to tell mythological stories to them.  I had taught some small shlokas and they learnt some from their school.  But I had got them Amar Chitra Katha books and read them to them even before they started going to school.  I read them in English and translated to Tamil, which we spoke/speak at home. Now, let me go to the story of my grand mother!

My grand mother was very fond of movies, esp. Hindi movies.  I wondered how she came to learn Hindi.  She had come home as a child bride as was the practice in those days...I am talking about the start of the 20th century or a bit earlier!She was just 10 years old when she got married.  She had 7 children later on. She must have studied upto I or II std.  Nobody knows.  But she came into a house where she noticed books everywhere.  As I told you before, my grand father had a printing press for printing mainly religious books in Kannada and Sanskrit or maybe in Hindi too.  I have seen a couple of books in Hindi...Ramayana, I think...they were bound books.  Rest were in Kannada and Sanskrit.  I think she was fascinated by all these books and her husband reading all the time.  My aunt told that she, my grand mother,  learnt Kannada from her school going sons and daughters.  Then started reading newspapers first and then magazines.  After the son and two of her daughters learnt Hindi, she got interested in novels.  They read her Hindi  translations of Bengali writers, Sharatchandra and Bankim Chandra Chattopaadhyaya.  And other authors too. They translated every sentence into Kannada.  Then when Kannada translations came, she read them too, it seems. And when the movies were made on the same stories in Hindi, the children took her to those movies....movies must have been new then!  I have written about the other books which were at home in my post about 'books'.  You can know how my mama subscribed to Perry Mason books and Life magazines from his pocket money etc.  He was getting them by post.  I have seen 1952 'Life' magazine with the Queen Elizabeth coronation pictures!  Remember, English was not very familiar then! I think maama was fascinated by the language!

This reading habit was inherited by my mother and her two sisters and two brothers.  We had come to Madras when I was in 5th std. I discontinued in Udupi and joined here 5th again.    It took a few months for me to learn Tamil, thanks to one of my aunt who was a teacher here.  I have already written about this.  My mother also learnt Tamil along with us and started reading heavy Tamil novels like 'Sivagaamiyin Sabatham', 'Ponniyin Selvan', 'Yavana Raani' etc.  She did it within a year of our shifting from a small town to a big city.  She didn't have exposure to outside world at all until then.   Tamil language was alien to us, until then.  All of us were good in Tamil later!

I always tell others who have children at home that the parents should read books and this will influence the children to read them too.  Now, TV influence is obstructing this habit.  Still people in some homes, still read books!  Reading books in gadgets will not influence the children.  They should feel it, the smell, the texture of the books, etc.  Then they will start loving to hold books!

I was planning to write a post about 'Jallianwala bagh' for our Republic Day.  We had visited this place during our North India tour.  But the pictures I had taken then are in the old hard drive which is under repair now.  So, the 'Republic Day' post is postponed! Anyway,



Edited to add on 25.1.14: My grandmother's post will go one to many parts, I think.  But no, I have to curb myself from writing more on this subject...others are waiting!

I was wondering how my mother started reading Sivagaamiyin sabatham etc. which were bound books.  I too must have started reading them from my 7th or 8th std.  She was getting those books from her aunt's house (my grandmother's younger sister) which was behind Pondy bazaar in Chennai.  I remember that was like the old type of house with open yard at the back, a cow shed in a corner, with 3-4 cows which were always there (I am talking about mid to late 60's).  We, children, used to go to that house during holidays...they had settled down in Chennai for many years then.  I must enquire who was the bookworm in their house! They were collecting pages from Ananda Vikatan and Kalki which had dhaarawahiks/thodar kathais/series of famous writers of those days (Devan, Kalki etc.).  Every week's episode had pictures of famous artists depicting a scene from the story which gave life to the characters.  Even I had collected pages of stories and bound them later on.  Reading these stories taken from weeklies were interesting than reading books with just letters, because of the sketches of the artists, Gopulu, Maniam etc. who were famous artists in those days.  Whenever we think of Sivagami of Sivagaamiyin Selvan, the face drawn by the artist (Gopulu, I think) will come in front of our eyes even now! Vandiyath thevan and Kundavai from Ponniyin Selvan are still there in my memory, because of the artists.  I don't know who was a book worm in their house.  But they had rows of books in a room in upstairs, mostly Tamil books!  This post has triggered me to enquire more about my grandmother's side of the family!  My mother used to tell us these stories, which she read, later, when we had not yet started reading, with all voice modulations, dramatizing, I didn't get this nature of hers.  I am a very bad story teller!

Thank you for reading this non-stop history of my family!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Women Who Influenced/Moulded Me - I

I had been thinking of writing about my grand mother for a long time now! I had mentioned her in my post about our reading habits which was influenced by her when we were small!

I grew up with my paternal and maternal grand mothers until I was around 10 years old.  My parents were in Hyderabad with the other 4 children! It was common in those days...children growing up with their grand parents for some reason...or is it because of too many children (!) I don't know!  I don't remember much about my paternal grand mother.  She was very very orthodox.  Now, I am ashamed to think of it...but it was common in those days! I had separate dresses, no, not uniforms, but normal separate dresses for wearing for school.  I was asked to remove them after coming back from school in a closed verandah, tie a towel, go to the bathroom and wash my hands and legs and wear the household dress.  I had very long thick hair and the two plaits were tied with threads taken from banana stems (Vaazhai naar).  Many children wore this! She used to feed me green moong dhal juice...moong dhal soaked for sometime and  ground raw with coconut and a little jaggery,  almost everyday!  Then sit in front of the gods and sing Purandara dasa kritis with her.  We used jalra for rhythm. She was a widow and maybe that was the reason, she was very strict in following these rituals.  I still remember those songs! Just the two of us lived in the independent ancestral house! As far as I remember, she was a very nice lady. 

I used to visit my maternal grand mother's house in the holidays, mostly.  I stayed with her later during my 5th standard, for a long time, after my other grand mother died.  The atmosphere in this  house was entirely different.  Many members were maamas, maamis, chikkammas etc.  We were hearing Hindi film songs from an old Murphy radio...a whole library of books were there...English, Kannada and Sanskrit.  My grandfather (he too was not alive then) had a printing press in Udupi, where we lived.  They had a book shop also for selling mostly religious books in Kannada and Sanskrit.  By the way, I am a Kannadiga (this news is for the new readers!).  Let me write about my grand mother first!

As was the norm in those days, she used to get up early in the morning.  We had a cow in the cow shed.  I remember her milking the cow, holding a vessel with her knees! I remember doing pradakshina and namaskara when the cow delivered a new calf.  The whole family did it! Then she cleaned up the place...I don't remember any other people helping her! After taking bath, she would go into the kitchen for cooking for around 10-15 people in a choolha (mud stove...two holes on two sides and one round in the middle...the middle one is just for heating purpose) and a kumutti stove with charcoal or cow dung balls!      My maamis, her daughters in law helped her in cutting vegetables etc.  No servants.  So the ladies had to do all the sweeping, swabbing, washing clothes and other cleaning work!  My grand mother used to have food only in the afternoon.  After cooking breakfast, she used to take buttermilk and then lunch in the afternoon.  At night, just fruits!

Our kitchen was very clean.  Grandma used to clean the stove with cow dung every evening as was the practice then and draw a small rangoli over it!  This picture is just to have an idea.  In a shelf above the stove, the home made pickles were kept in huge porcelain jars. 

We call this kumutti.  This is made of iron.  We place charcoal and burn it.  Milk, coffee, water etc. were boiled on this stove.

After finishing the cooking she used to sit in the verandah and read the Kannada newspaper, 'Navabhaaratha'.  I remember her round Gandhi spectacles! She was very particular about knowing the current news.  I still remember her happiness when she read and heard in the radio about Yuri Gagarin landing on the moon.  She was so happy! Then she cried when Kennedy was shot.  She used to read a Kannada magazine 'Kasturi' which was nearly like our 'Readers' Digest'.  I think this nature of hers had influenced her children and then us, in reading newspapers and magazines and other books later.

We used to sing bhajans with her, in the evening while making pradakshinas around the Tulsi plant every evening! I don't remember her telling us stories but my mother was very good at it, esp. mythological stories.  She was an encyclopedia in that!

Though she lived  at the time, when most of the widows were not allowed to wear blouses, she wore them.  She used to stitch her underclothes by herself, by hand.  Though she was also orthodox, she was very fond of Mothi, our dog.  Normally, he was not let inside the house.  (Older people never touched dogs!)  But if it rained heavily with thunder, she was allowing Mothi to sit with us in front of the God in the Pooja room when we recited 'Arjuna Palguna partha..' a shloka to protect us from the thunder! An iron rod was thrown out in the open yard to block the lightning!

She loved carnatic music and FILM music too! Mukesh and Rafi were her favourite singers! She was a very good cook.  My aunt (chikkamma) says that my rasam tastes like her rasam.  I was in 10th Std. when she died! I don't remember the taste of her cooking at all now! Our family had left Udupi when I was in 5th std. I had visited gandma once or twice during the holidays, later. She used to make the children sit in the pooja room and compelled us to take a ball of ground neem leaves' paste and buttermilk, in the morning, once a month! It was compulsory.   If any child starts eating too much, she used to make a gothsu of red hibiscus with tamarind, red chilli etc. Place a plate full of rice and pour this red gothsu in the centre and compel the children to eat.  She used to say that this red rice would stop the children from eating more than is required.

Summer holidays means many relatives with their children (minimum 5-6!) used to come and stay in our house! Then cooking, cooking, cooking!  But it was mostly rice preparations.  Evening fried snacks.  Night again rice with some chutney, buttermilk etc.

She loved watching movies! Whenever she came to Madras to our house,  we used to take her to some Hindi movie.  She was a happy person always.   Though she followed all the rituals/orthodox things, she was modern in many ways.

She died in her 60's.  It was a Dhwadashi day.  She had kept vrath on the previous day, Ekadashi.  Next day, our people eat very early in the morning.  So, she cooked for the family very early.  My maamas give theertha (holy water) before having food.  She took that too.  Then said that she was not feeling well.  She was taken to the hospital.  Within a day, she was no more.  

All these things happened in the late 50's and early 60's!

After finishing this post, I had a doubt. How my grandmother learnt Hindi when she was in Udupi and in an orthodox household.  She couldn't have gone out.  Called my aunt and she explained about it, which is very very interesting.  I think I have to write a second part! One interesting news...she got married at the age of 10!

Picture courtesy: Google

Edited to add on 24.1.14: The second part is here.



Friday, January 17, 2014

Drishyam, A Thriller Movie Which Has An Unbelievably 'Believable' Story!


A still from 'Drishyam' movie!

I had watched the Malayalam superstar, Mohanlal in a Tamil movie, 'Iruvar' (a Manirathnam movie) many many years back.  I can't follow Malayalam but can understand vaguely!  When my niece said that this movie was a very good one and very famous (it was running full houses everywhere, it seems and was going towards a block buster of the year, '13 in Malayalam filmdom), I thought I can give it a try! was a good decision! Yesterday, I watched a very good movie which will never be forgotten, I think!

Georgekutty (Mohanlal) is a happily married man with two daughters.  His wife is Rani (Meena, a very famous Tamil and Malayalam actor).  Georgekutty is a Fourth standard failed man and married to Rani, a 10th standard failed woman ... both of them tease each other on this subject! He worked hard and became the owner of a 5 acre rubber plantation.  But he enjoys working as a local town's cable operator and enjoys watching movies all the time...he gets so involved with the movies that he implements the situations in his daily life wherever possible! Have a look at this lovely song where you can feel their happiness as a close family.

Then, an incident happens in their lives which totally changes their normal life.  The movie is all about how he solves the situation taking clues from the movies he had been watching for so many years. I don't want to write more about the story here!  I try to write 'no spoilers' review!

The director of the film, Jeethu Joseph has taken the story so well that nothing looks filmy or dramatic situations.  Everyone acted very naturally and without much filmy make up.  Malayalam films are famous for these things!

I have to mention the Villain of the film, Kalabhavan Shajon, a famous actor in Malayalam films, I was told.  He acted very well at par with Mohanlal in this movie.  This movie is keeping on winning many awards, it seems.

They are planning to remake this film in Tamil, with Vikram in Mohanlal's role.  Should wait and see if he comes at least a bit near to Mohanlal's acting! The scenery of the typical Kerala town, Thoduppuzha can be scene in its full glory! And I understood nearly 80% of the dialogues, which was a surprise to me!

This is a 'must see' movie!

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