Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Bundle of Contradictions :)

Bundle of Contradictions

Sometimes I want to fly in the vast sky, so high
Free and far away from the monotonous groove.
But there are times when I want to be held, sigh,
In warm arms, so that I cannot willingly move.

Sometimes I want to run like the wind, race,
Barefoot on soft wet grass, without any care.
But there are times when I stop, lower my pace
Relish every single moment with time to spare.

Sometimes I want to keep going with the flow
Not wanting ripples in the calm lake of life.
But there are times I want to rebel, bellow,
Impulsively challenge fate and have a strife.

Sometimes I simply cry, other times I laugh
Chatter like a parrot or shut up like a clam,
Sometimes I agree, there are times I scoff
A bundle of contradictions, thats what I am!

This poem was inspired by the blog title of one of my closest friends Soumya who has taken to blogging very recently. Hence this is obviously dedicated to her, though the poem is actually about me :-D. (Well, I'm dedicating it to her here just to avoid copy-right issues, if any, from her :-D. Hehehehe :))) :-D)...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Home Sweet Home :)

It all started before I even met Sri. As I have mentioned before, its one of the biggest coincidences of our lives :). He had booked an apartment before he met me and after he did meet me, it turned out that the apartment he had booked, was almost right behind my parents' place, not even a Km away!! We actually got teased a lot on this. My parents were happy about it, as they thought they can see their daughter regularly after marriage (I thought I could wave out from my balcony to mom as the apartment was visible from her kitchen).

But fate had different plans in 2 ways. One was obviously us moving to US and the second was that several other apartments arose in a matter of months between my parents' house and our apartment. The second one pales in comparison to the first, doesn't it? ;-(. Some things cannot be helped..

The apartment building got completed slowly, somewhat behind schedule because of court cases (as usual if there is land, there are always people who claim it as theirs :-p). But we still thought the registration would get done soon. Since we were here, dad got the responsibility and he had to dash around for it. But all his efforts were in vain, as the formalities never really did get completed until we actually landed there. So one of the first things was to get the registration done (the other was the visa in Delhi). Well, that completed, all that was left to do was the Gruhapravesha or the house warming ceremony. This is how the buiding looks from outside (the reason for the shabbiness of the photo is because it is taken from the plan, and not the real photo. There is no way to take a proper photo from outside because of the surrounding buildings):

The gruhapravesha was planned way before we landed in India. Hence most of the formalities of engaging a Poojari, adige bhattaru (cook) and the chairs/tables etc was taken care of by, who else :-p, my mom and dad. But to our credit, we did take care of the last minute cleaning of the house, getting some lights/fans for the house ('cause it was very hot) and making the final arrangements before the pooja.

10th May 2006:

The first of the poojas started on 10th May evening. It absolutely coincided with the electricity going poof and the start of the first few drops of rain. The pooja was no problem but the cook did have some problems as the rain kind of fell on the place they had the pendal put, despite the fact that it was in basement. Moreover there were no lights in the basement. Thanks to dad and Puttanna kakka (my chikkappa), some of the problems did get solved.

Meanwhile the pooja went on in the first floor which is where we had our house. We didn't have electric lights, but we could manage with the deepas lit for the pooja. So we started off with the sankalpa for the Rakshogna Homa which is done first to ward off evil powers when a shubha kaarya is going on :). The main Pujari was Adigaru who also was the one who conducted our marriage :). There were also about 4-5 colleagues (hehehe) of his who were helping out.

As the poojaris started off the homa, we sat for another pooja called the Vaastu pooja. Vaastu Pooja consists of worship of the Vaastu Devata, the deities directions East, West, North, South, North-East, South-East, North-West & South-West and 49 other deities residing in Vaastu, which bring Health, Wealth, Peace, Prosperity & Happiness.

The rangoli that the one of the poojaris drew is so pretty, isn't it? Pity it lasted only for 2 days..

After the Vaastu pooja, we continued on with the Rakshogna Homa, the holy smoke of which is supposed to spread throughout the home and get rid of anything thats evil. Pollution you say? Well it is. But it is also peace of the mind in another way :).

Smokkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkking eh? ;-). The pooja went on pretty long after which everyone of us had our dinner and retired for the day :).

11th May 2006:

Early morning next day was the actual gruhapravesha :). I wore a saree that my MIL gave me and was ready by about 7 AM!! The gruhapravesha consists of a pooja in front of the main door and later, kicking a tumbler full of rice with the right leg before entering the house (well, not as exciting as it sounds, a tumbler is not a football, nor are you supposed to kick it like one :-p). The fun part is that the lady of the house (thats me, me, me :-D) gets to enter the house first ;-) :-D.

After the gruhapravesha, next we had the haalu-ukso programme. The milk boiling and flowing over ceremony indicates the invitation and arrival of Goddess Lakshmi into the house :).

Meanwhile, there were problems again for the cook as there was no electricity. Dad, mom and Puttanna kakka had to run around to get many things done. People who actually should have been treated royally as VIP guests, ended up getting all the work done. But again, as I repeatedly have been saying, some things cannot be helped and thanks to them, some of the problems did get solved. Well, whats a ride without a few bumps eh? ;-).

To go ahead with the poojas, next came the Gana Homa. My favourite God is Lord Ganesha and it was my wish that this pooja be done. After the gruhapravesha, I changed into a saree given by mom (again a ritual) and sat for the Gana homa.

Next in the pipeline (:-D) was the Sathyanarayana pooja. There is always a feel-good factor associated with this pooja :) and we were glad when everything went off well and got completed on time.

Thats when everyone brought out the goodies ;-). We got pretty gifts from friends and relatives. After a fabulous lunch, everyone headed to their homes. There were a couple of relatives who visited us in the evening, but that was it. I was really happy that a couple of really close friends could make it to the function :). It did rain on the gruhapravesha day too, but it was basically in the evening. But some friends were unable to come in the evening as promised before because of the rain. Par chaltha he :).

And so our house warming ceremony came to an end {sigh}. Hmmmm house warming eh? Does a house really get warmed by just a function, I wonder! Doesn't it require to have human warmth, joys and sorrows to really warm it? We are really lucky, aren't we to have a house there in India while we live far away from it in US? :( :'(.

Whats really ironic is that as soon as we landed here, our lease ended and yup, we shifted to a new house here. With the same UHAUL story as before, we landed in this house, only this time we shifted to an independent house and not an apartment. Also this time, thankfully there was no snow to hinder our move in any way.

Yup, this is our house here in US. I have one room here exclusively as an office and I'm very happy with the house. If I am so happy, then why can't I help but remember the "Home Sweet Home" in India which has become the "Home Away From Home" for us right now? {sigh}....

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Look (a)like?

So who do I look like?

If you ask my mom, she'll say I look like my dad and if you ask my friends, they say I look like my mom :-D. But I am not talking about that. I just took another of those online tests for curiosity sake and look who I turned out to look like :-p.

Huh? Salma Hayek and Madonna? Wow ;-). Never knew I had so much potential :-D. I tried with another photo and guess what?

I look like Kajol (51%), Geena Davis (46%), Celine Dion (45%) and Halle Berry (51%) :-p.

Well the curious me obviously didn't stop there :-D. I ran 2 of Sri's photos and these are the results I got:

Sri also looks like Nick Carter of "Backstreet boys" (71%),and Orlando Bloom (45%) ;-).

Well, call it a coincidence, I have been a fan of Michael Schumacher for years. So maybe I saw something of him when I said yes to marriage with Sri :-p :-D. But was never a fan of Nick of Backstreet boys though, was fond of Brian more than him :-p. Surprisingly Nick's face matches with Sri's more than anybody else's. Recently have started watching a serial "Prison Break" in which Wentworth Miller is the hero. And I think the guy is absolutely fabulous, wowwie stuff ;-). I have become a PB buff because of him (more details about the serial here). Hmmm makes me wonder. Maybe I see something of Sri in him ;-) :-D. Hehehee :)).

Anyways I honestly think all this is silly, utter nonsense. What are we supposed to get from all this? A false sense of pride just because I look like a celebrity, of all people? I don't really understand (couldn't resist the emoticon from yahoo :-D).

But it was sort of fun though :). If you are interested in knowing what you look like ;-), try the online Face Recognition Demo hosted by My Heritage :). By the way, the sad part is you have to register to access it :-p. Don't worry, this is NOT a prank in which the software after loads of searching displays a chimpanzee and says you look like it ;-) :)).

Yeah, yeah I do remember the Gruhapravesha post, that'll be coming up next :).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Udupi Udaan :)

I was sad, I admit it. A perfectly good excuse not to write a post for almost 15 days :-p. Sadly, I can't put off writing a post forever based on that excuse. So its time for the posts of the India trip I promised and yet haven't been delivering. Its ironic as to how sometime ago I wouldn't have ideas for a post and hence couldn't post and now have loads of ideas but cannot post due to time/work constraints :-p. Anyways better get on with it :).

After the fateful Delhi trip that branded the visa on our passports, we were back in Bangalore. But certainly not to stay :-p. The very next day (or to be honest, night), we (Mom, Dad, Darsh, Susheela aunty, Hari uncle, Sri and me) set off to Udupi. The title is wrong, there is no way to fly to Udupi, but the drivers do drive the buses like they are flights. They are fast and the sudden turbulences are fairly common ;-). Thankfully, I had no trouble sleeping in the bus at all due to my jet lag. Only in the morning did I come to know that I had more reasons to be thankful. It seems the bus seats had bedbugs!! No one told those that they are supposed to live only in beds I suppose :-p. Anyways, looked like I didn't have any bites as such. These bedbugs are choosy man ;-).

The first day in Udupi i.e 4th May 2006, we spent fooling around. The heat was too much, as expected. But the house was cool and hence we spent time catching up with Gayathri aunty, Raaghu mava and Ammamma (my maternal granny). Evening, we headed to the beach.

To people in Udupi, beach implies the Vadabhandeshwara beach. There is also a beach at Malpe, but that one is stinky, believe me!! The fish stench is so bad that the only way to roam around there is with your nose blocked :-p. So, you are actually grateful if you have a cold when you are around there ;-). The first thing we did at the beach was to run to a churmuri stand. Churmuri is a variant of bhelpuri made specially in South Kanara, but I am not sure its not available elsewhere. After grabbing churmuri with both hands (we held the parents' ones too :-D), we headed towards the water where our parents were sitting and already enjoying thaali munji (I found out just today that they are called toddy palm fruits in English :-D, mainly because toddy is also collected from the same trees). We had a gala time eating, walking in water and snapping snaps :).

Just as we left the beach in a bus (private buses are plenty in Udupi, one goes another comes in the next minute :-D), the heavens opened up and it started pouring!! We had plans of going to to Diana, our favourite restaurant in Udupi, but it was still pouring when we got down at the bus stop. And we didn't even have an umbrella :-p. So we stood there almost an hour until the clouds showed us some pity and stopped throwing water at us. But Diana more than compensated for the rain, what with a delicious feast of bhel puri, cutlets, noodles and icecreams (Diana is famous for bhel,cutlet and dahi vada, but sadly dahi vada had already been gulumd, hehehe I mean consumed, by others by the time we went). We had no problems going back home at all.

Next day, May 5th 2006, we got up early morning, took head baths and headed to the first temple of the theertha-yaathra (:-D) in the Qualis that dad had booked. The Vishnumurthi temple at Aleyuru is a must in all our trips to Udupi as Vishnumurthi is the home-deity (manedevaru) of my parents (mine changed to Venkataramana after marriage). Our next temple of the day was the Anegudde Vinayaka temple of Kumbhashi. Mom had pledged the Akki kadubu seva here and we were able to fulfill the pooja accordingly :). The Akki Kadubu of South Kanara is a kind of idly cooked in containers made of coconut leaves. Its a very tedious process of making these containers. In the seva, about 100 (I think) of the Akki kadubus are made and offered to Lord Ganesha. After the pooja and mahamangalaarathi, we had a tasty lunch with the kadubu :).

Since the pooja and the lunch were over by noon, we decided to visit the Udupi Sri Krishna temple and retire for the day. There are 3 main temples in Udupi, even though we hear usually only about the Krishna temple. These are the Chandreshwara, Anantheshwara and Sri Krishna temple. Chandreshwara and Anantheshawara are Shiva temples (stating the obvious :-D). So we visited all 3, did some amount of shopping (flowers, hermaNe which is a complicated coconut grater for me to get to US) and left.

Later in the evening my little cousin Sanjana and me had a great time plucking Jaam fruit (also called Jambu fruit or Rose apple) from the tree at home. I didn't have a great time when huge red ants fell on to me from the tree I was trying to hit the fruits out of ;-). Nevertheless everyone enjoyed the fruits of my labour :-p. Hehehee :-D.

6th May 2006, early morning we left to Herga Durgaparameshwari temple (some details on the temple are available here), which is the village deity (graamadevathe) for my parents to perform the auspicious Chandika Homa. The rituals starting with the sankalpa and later the homa went very well as we hoped. This is the temple:

The photos of the homa came out a bit dim thanks to not enough light inside the temple + not enough sense to use the camera flash on Darsh's part :-p.

After another delicious lunch (delicious lunches are usually the favourite and constant parts of Udupi and surrounding areas' trip :-D), we headed to the house in Herga (which is my native place) where my dad's cousins and doddamma live. We spent an enjoyable time there. I also grabbed a few of my favourite karande kai (its a sour berry that grows there - didn't find an English name for it anywhere) from the plants and enjoyed their taste after what seems a long time :).

After going home, I took photos of random things and people including one of my Ammamma here:

And that was it for the day :).

7th May 2006 was the last day in Udupi. Err, should I say Dharmasthala 'cause thats where we went to that day. Its about 2.5 hours drive from Udupi to Dharmasthala and thanks to our air-conditioned Qualis, we didn't feel the heat. We reached the Dharmasthala Sri Manjunatha temple only after 12 in the noon, which meant the Mahamangalaaarthi was over. We bought the ticket for the Rudraabhisheka and skipped endless queues through shortcut method thanks to my mom :-D. Mom lived in Dharmasthala with her sister and brother-in-law who were teachers there for quite some time in her childhood. The name "Rama teacher" (my doddamma) (Note that its Rama and not Raama) still wields a power over lots of people there, basically because most of them would have been her students at some point in time ;-). By the way, don't think of using this method next time you are in Dharmasthala, not because its copyrighted in any way, but because this method has to be used with the additional clause of speaking pure Tulu :-D. Otherwise its doomed to failure :-D. Don't worry, I don't know to speak Tulu either, though I can understand it :-D.

Anyways, later we were able to see Lord Manjunatha and do the sankalpa for the abhisheka. We also saw the idol of Ammavru (as Goddess Parvathi is referrred to there) and everything went satisfactorily. Wait, did I forget to mention that we had a delicious lunch there? Hehehe ;-). We set off immediately as we had to catch the bus to Bangalore in the night and we still had some amount of packing to do. But we did stop at a place in between to have some snacks. Me and dad went to have some tender coconut water. As I stood in the crowded junction, in the blistering heat, sipping tender coconut water and listening to my dad and the seller yapping away, I felt peaceful. I felt the way I never ever felt in US. I felt contented. What I felt just cannot be described in words. It was all so natural, oh-so-unrobotic (if there's such a word)...

Later in the night, after packing the goodies (varieties of papads, sandige and brinjals) brought for me by Raaghu Mava and the slurp slurp tasty Appi midi maavinakai uppinakai (Tender mango pickle) made by Gayathri aunty, we waved goodbye to them and to Udupi :). I carried the whole lot with me to US (except brinjals :-D) despite some looks of protest by Sri :-D.

I must add though that I was almost in tears as I said goodbye to Ammamma. She's already too old and she looked very weak to me. I really do hope I get to see her again :(.

And so ended the second phase of our India trip. Still to come are the Gruhapravesha, the Tirupathi and Hyderabad trips. Don't go anywhere ;-).