Sunday, October 28, 2007

The "Pa" of Sadhana!

" Amma , Kaani... Amma Kaani....." my elder son was obsessed with stories from a very young age. He used to repeat these words continuously, suggesting favorable topics for his stories. It could be on any thing under the sun...animals, vehicles, plants ....he would name it and I had to give an extempore on the given topic. This exercise has surely kindled my creative faculties and my imaginative thinking! has helped me realize the beauty of childhood, which is a life with out any limits...

One day , he came up with a topic..".hands"! Once upon a time ......I started with my on the spot story! ... it ended up to be something I had heard in my childhood....It went thus....

".......there was a discussion which turned out to be heated debate among the five fingers. Each one wanted to prove that it was the best. The thumb said, "I am the strongest! with out me to support no one can even hold a pen or a pencil. So I am the best!"
The pointer said," I am the best, there is no doubt about that.....people use me to point at things...I am the most useful one in communication!"
The middle finger said," Come on guys! how can any of you imagine to be best ....I am present! I am the tallest...and the most elegant! "
The ring finger said, "Can't you all see ! I am the most honored ... people adorn me with precious stones and jewels ! I am the symbol of love!"
All waited for the little finger...what would it tell, after all it was without any special features....but the little finger mustered up all confidence and rose to the occassion.It said," When you greet some one or When you bow down before God with folded arms , I lead the way! I am greeted back first! How can you all look down upon me! I am the most blessed!"
Each one has his or her own role to play .. like the members of a family!
Like the palm which holds the fingers together , it is love and understanding which holds the family together.

Each member of the family, big or small is important to make it whole. Shiva kudumbam or the family of lord shiva, in hindu mythology is an apt example of the diverse personalities in the family. Shiva who has smeared His whole body with ashes and has snakes for ornaments, the embodiment of penance and austere meditation with His divine consort Parvathi , a potrayal of feminine beauty and power: their elephant headed Son Ganesha with a protruded belly and their warrior son, Subrahmania. They represent a family .... entirely different personalities who are held together with the power of love.

The "pa" of my Sadhana is that I am my Family....a part which makes it whole....! I enjoy the warmth and the joy when we are together. I am surrounded by the embrace of my family ....the time and togetherness we share nourishing our growth , strengthening the roots of relationships!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kanna and Sree go Apple picking!!!

I was waiting with Sree my toddler, for my elder son Kanna's school bus to arrive. I couldn't help wonder at the tapestry of nature , as my eyes fell on the swaying colorful trees as they performed their autumn dance. All the colors were compressed in the costumes these trees wore , creating a divine aura of joy and bliss.
" Anna bus , Anna bus" , yelled Sree as he heard the approaching yellow school bus.
" Amma, Anna come in magic school bus. Sree also go in magic school bus with Anna" he added.

Kanna came running , his face beaming with pride , his out stretched arms eagerly waiting for a warm squeeze and a loving hug. He started elaborating the days events at school... trying not to miss every opportunity at arousing jealousy in his little brother.

"I have something special to give you " said Kanna as he opened his school bag and pulled out a few papers. On it were given detailed recipies of apple sauce , apple sauce cake and apple muffins.
" Amma, I am going to help you make these!" he declared.

There was home work to for me .. it said " write why is your child the apple of your eye?"

" Amma, my teacher lives near an apple orchard!
Amma, you know what , my friend Zac brought apple sauce to school today!
Amma , you know there are red , yellow and green apples.......if we slit open an apple we can see a star...........

He went on and on ....and apples were the main topic of discussion through out the day!

We finally decided to go apple picking at "Erwin Apple orchard", which was a 20 minute drive from our place.

On Saturday morning , off we went to the apple orchard. We first took a ride around the farm on the farm wagon.. trying to figure out which variety of apples we would fill in our plastic bag , that we bought at the counter.We passed the corn maze , the pumpkin patch and finally arrived the apple orchard.

Red and golden balls were dangling from small healthy looking trees , which was a real treat to the eyes. Some trees were covered with these from top to bottom , that even my two year old could easily pluck them with out any one's help. The golden delicious were so tempting and inviting that it reminded me of Adam and Eve's first temptation. Our hands involuntarily held the golden fruit , and it came off its branch with a slight twist. Before long all of us were busy munching the juicy treats as we roamed through the rows of apple trees trying to research on the juiciest ones.

Adjacent to the apple orchard was the orange pumpkin patch with huge pumpkins....Kanna went in search of the perfect pumpkin which he could carry ...the long search finally came to an end after trying to lift each pumpkin we saw ....finally we discovered kanna's perfect pumpkin.

After a long day of apple diet .... we once again succumbed to the freshly made apple donut and apple cider before heading for the games that were organized for kids.

Our apple cake

apple pickle

Back at home , we made apple pickle, apple sauce and apple cake .....while Kanna stirred the dry ingredients , Sree and Appa blended the wet ones .....we all anxiously waited for the cake to bake ....its aroma arousing our taste buds....As the kids savored the apple cake ...I could catch a twinkle in their eyes , a glow on their faces !!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The "ma" of my Sadhana!

" Om Hari Sri Ganapathayee namaha! " wrote the tiny little fingers on the tray of rice with joy and excitement, squatting on her dad's lap. She used to wait eagerly for this moment every year! The nine day Navaratri festival filled her home with energy and life. Her dad used to walk to every nook and corner of the house with a broom stick threatening the homes of spiders and bugs while her mom used to rearrange the home giving it a new look. The house echoed with the music and chitter chatter of all the students who used to spend long hours in her home practising and preparing for the oncoming cultural events which are routinely held at the famous thrikkakara temple.

The best part was decorating the pooja room for the "pooja vaipu". All the Gods and Goddesses were given a rose water bath. A ritual carried on with reverence and creativity. the small room was transformed in to a temple ....a temple of art and learning! ornate d with musical instruments , dancing bells and books. Each instrument was considered divine , and respected with the offering of new attire ( which later was to be worn by us).
Pooja vaipu is considered a sacred moment ...which is an act of total surrender act of shedding ones egos which are build on learning and wisdom act where one offers all knowledge acquired in this life to the Divine and prepare to be a Zero.

As young kids we were given all the time in the world to play once the pooja vaipu was done. We relished those moments of unhindered luxury when we never ever heard authoritative voices lecturing to us about the importance of reading our books! On the other hand we were asked not to read .... forcing us to break the rules and later put on a face of guilt.

Vijayadashami was on the tenth day . I usually woke up to the rhythmic sound which emanated from the kitchen would be the sweet music born from the voice modulation of the coconut and the chirava(coconut scraper). The artiste would be Appa .. while Amma will be preparing the nivedyam for the day "phovu kalailolo" ( a blend of rice flakes and coconut and jaggery and banana) After bath, all would assemble at the koodi(pooja room) for vidyarambham or new beginning. For infants this day is considered auspicious to begin writing. And for the rest, this symbolizes the necessity of relearning, new beginning and the beauty of remaining a forever student eager to learn and re learn at each and every phase of our lives.

The "ma" of my sadhana is that I am a student forever......(a fact that I never realized during my school and college days). A role which makes life worth living ......I dedicate this post to all my gurus ..Guru means someone who guides you from darkness to light. It is difficult to name each and every one here... so as I visualise them in my inner eye I bow down before them seeking their blessings!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Life is Relationships....................................

In this journey called life we come across umpteen number of people. We pause to exchange a "hi" with many.....with some we manage a shake hand.....with a few we sit down to chat and with a few others we hold a bond. Life is relationships......

The few countries I visited in the past seven years have enriched my life with beautiful bonds.....
when I tread back my memory lane , its these beautiful moments created by some wonderful friends that I am reminded of than the places I visited.

I would like to dedicate this post to four loving couple who made my days memorable in the four foreign countries I visited. There were many more lovely relationships which I still treasure today ....but these couples have surely etched their names with their infallible love and untainted friendship.

Kajiyoshi San and Sadami San of Japan

They were the most polite people I have ever come across. Sadami San was kind enough to prepare a full vegetarian course meal , when she invited me to her well decorated traditional Japanese home. Kajiyoshi San was one of the librarians in the library which was opposite to our apartment. How can I forget the knock at our apartment door at 4.30 in the morning....on our last day in Japan. We would have missed our flight , if he was not at our door step to bid a final good bye to us. He was in his seventies , but still helped us with all our luggage and dropped us at the railway station .

Mrs and Mr Jaison Shang of Taiwan

Our first day in Taiwan. My husband PP had already left for office and I was feeling homesick and far away from home. Just then the phone bell rang , and a female voice introduced herself as Mrs Jason , wife of Customer site Manager of PP's project.She was already waiting for me in the downstairs lobby , to show me around . She helped me purchase necessary groceries and fresh fruits and vegetables from the local market and I was already feeling very comfortable . The warmth and the kindness , we receive when we are far from home is so precious.

Mr Naas Ferriera and Mrs Wickie of South Africa

They were the most jovial and energetic couple I have come across. There enthusiasm and energy is so contagious , that they skillfully trap us in their magical web of love and friendship. My baby had started calling Mr Naas " abu"( meaning grandpa in our mother tongue.) Once they invited us home for dinner , which was an unique experience. Naas was cooking hot and fresh buns for us in his open hearth oven in his back yard. Each one had to prepare his or her own dinner.We were each provided with pans and small portable stoves. They had cut a variety of vegetables and cooked a huge casserole of rice and lined up a row of various spices. We could make a meal from the ingredients they had provided and eat from the pan. Each one came up with a different variety of rice which all savored in the warm embrace of friendship.

Mr George Chacko and Mrs Anuja Chacko of USA

I am glad to have met these wonderful people , who have made me and my family feel so much at home. Anuja 's support in exploring my artistic talents and also establishing a personal bond has made my life here more fruitful and enjoyable.

I feel fortunate to have been exposed to various cultures through my travels. If not for these experiences , I would have been like a frog in a pond.....leading a cloistered existence ....the nomad in me is thirsty for more travels and more experiences.....