Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander

With the elections coming to an end, it is celebration time for the winners. New hopes gather for some, for they may be the lucky winners to get a ministerial berth. For others, though they have made way to the Parliament, they will remain the back benchers.

It had been months, so much had been written, read, discussed, viewed, heard, and all of a sudden the blaring stops. The country moves one step further, to see selection of ministers and allocation of portfolios. Once again the parliament sessions will be held, new Bills will be brought and commotion will take toll of time.

This time once again the voters have shown that it should be more of a single party rule in the country, though this time also there has been partnership with some. The losers sit back to analyse their defeat and gear up to make strategies to come up as winners the next time.

But a clear mandate has been given.

At last the IPL Season 2 trophy has been lifted by the Deccan Chargers. It is always the winner who lifts the trophy. Click, click, click, the clicks go on and on and in the end the winners photos adorn the front pages of the newspaper and magazine.

Though the Indian crowd watched the game on their TV sets, the enthusiasm and interest of the cricket fans of this country did not die out. Instead they could get to see the beauty of South Africa captured through the lens of the camera man and brought home in bits and pieces during the telecast of the matches.

It was an unexpected winning team who held the trophy high, their fan followers dancing in merriment at their spectacular win. And the sure finalists disappointed their fans.

But who cares, after all one has to win, be declared the winner and go home with not only the trophy but the huge winning amount.

It is winning that matters.

Isn't it rightly said “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander”.

Agree or deny?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vacation Delight

Travel has its own delight for the traveller.

Summer brings with it long holidays for school children. They start pestering to go on a vacation. While planning a travel in summer many things have to be kept in mind.

Choice of place: It has to be unanimous, no grumbles on the happy trip.

Travel Deals: Better to compare and study fares and hotel rates in order to get the best deal.

Confirmation: Confirm travel and hotel booking in advance to avoid any sort of complications.

Packing: Choose the right clothes for the place. Don’t over pack your travel bags.

List: Make a list of all the necessary items to be carried for the trip.

First Aid: Carry a first aid kit for need may arise at any time.

Beat the Heat: To protect from the heat use hats, umbrellas, sun glasses, lotions for the skin from getting sun burns, comfortable cotton clothes and comfy footwear.

Caution: To avoid dehydration drink a lot of water and fruit juice. Avoid rich and spicy food as it may upset the stomach.

At the end of the trip you bring back is memories, captured through the lens of the camera. A vacation no doubt rejuvenates the mind and body.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Summer Shade-s

When summer comes the talk is all about the heat, the dust, the sweat, and the search for the Cool. Suddenly life becomes dull, food habits change, and the clothes need special attention. So many problems start showing their face; water scarcity, sudden power cuts start appearing and the huge variety of vegetables that were available in the market a few days ago start vanishing. Very little choice left to choose from the green grocer and fruits get dearer in the market.

But we have to make efforts to cope with the heat. There are different ways to work up with the difficult heat of this time of the year. We have different options to battle the heat.

Food and Drinks: The heat increases the thirst. We need to drink lots of water. Green coconut water is a healthy drink. Aam panna and fresh lime juice helps to maintain the cool in the body. So also other fruit juices, especially those freshly made at home or packed ones found on the shelves of the stores…lets your skin maintain the glow. Water melon is not only refreshing but also satisfying. And the mango, king of all fruits in India adds taste to the palate. As for vegetables those that have more water contents are good for digestion.

Clothes: In the sweltering heat there is always a chance of getting sun burns. Sleeveless clothes are more in demand but there needs to be a rethink in the matter of clothes. It is better to cover up those parts of the body that are exposed to the sun to avoid a tan and help in the loss of less moisture from the body. While choosing clothes for summer the best choice goes for cotton fabrics which soaks the sweat and gives a cool feeling. It is always good to go in for natural fabrics in which cotton is the best. Khadi and linen can also be an integral part of the natural fabric category. Even light nylon and polyester fabrics can be in the choice list. In colours, it is always better to go for lighter shades as it gives the cool and thanda feeling.

The feet do sweat a lot in summer. So while choosing footwear for this season it is always preferable to go for open sandals and slippers. At this time the Kolhapuri chappals are in demand.

Shady Umbrellas: The best part is, it is time when the umbrellas are out from the closet. While going out in the sun it is always better to carry an umbrella and stay under its shade when the glare of the sun pinches the skin. There was the time when no one thought about colourful umbrellas except the black ones. Now colourful umbrellas make a lot of difference in the shade they give under their polka dots or floral spread. But remember to take care of your Umbrella Buddy and don’t leave it in some unknown place to get lost in the crowd.

Summer Dreams: Planning for a hill station vacation can be the summer dream for you. A few days among the hills and dale can bring a change from the monotony of the everyday life. If that’s not possible, then there are summer camps for children where they can make a pursuit of their interest. There are lots of choices to make from. So why not consult the Elderly people to be there where you have not thought of. And always there is this opportunity of the summer days to be there in the countryside, in the real India that once it used to be, now our forgotten villages.

Summer’s call,
Mangoes for all.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Magic of Ritha and Neem with Woollens

Some of the warm clothes were lying in the laundry bag for a wash. Woollen clothes are no doubt ‘Delicate Darlings’ and once the season is gone no one cares to give a look at them till the arrival of the next winter. Most of the woollen sweaters I wash them at home. Giving the sweaters a hand wash, I hummed away a tune from one of the old Hindi movies. Music lightens the burden of the work. That’s not the only reason, I love music and at one time music had been a part of my life. Like most Bengali families, a music teacher came to teach music at home. A harmonium and table was a must. Along with the cup of steaming hot tea came a plate of jolkhabar (jolkhabar in Bengali means snacks) for the music teacher. And there was early morning riaz (practice) everyday. And now my singing is my own. That was one part of life that has no similarity with the lifestyle I lead in today’s world.

Once I finished washing I kept the washed sweaters to spread out later when the water drained out. I placed my Genteel bottle in place and sat down to relax. But some of the winters wonder days of my childhood started pouring in.

Winter days are no doubt very pleasant. There is colour everywhere. People love to wear colourful clothes. As a child I’ve seen ladies knitting sweaters mostly in the afternoons, sitting out in the sun and enjoying this as a part of their life. Ladies could be seen with their kit of knitting needles and colourful wool, knitting away and at the same time engaged in conversation…blindfold knitting that used to be. They spoke about the different designs and colour combinations for the sweaters and enjoyed this activity along with their neighbourhood gossip. Men, women and children took pride wearing hand knit sweaters. But now Branded and Designer warm clothes have made a mess with the home knitting leaving few to fewer people knowing this skill.

I still remember the Lux packets containing soap flakes used for washing clothes. Ma used Lux to wash woollen sweaters but mostly washed the woollens with Ritha (soap-nut or wash nut), a substitute for washing soap. Ritha is available in plenty in India. Ritha flowers come during summer and the fruits appear in July-August. By November-December the fruit ripens and then collected and dried and later ready for use and sale in the market. The fleshy portion contains saponin which is an active natural ingredient, a substitute to normal detergents, is used for washing.

Ma bought her regular quota of dry ritha fruits from her favourite shop in the market, soaked them overnight in water and in the morning the liquid was ready to wash the woollens. She also washed silk sarees and other soft fabrics with this liquid. Ritha wash left the woollens fresh and clean because of its mildness and at the same time preserved the colour and structure of the fabric. As this is a natural product free from any chemicals it does not affect sensitive skin of the hands. Value wise it is not only economical but also ecological. Now-a-days markets are flooded with varieties of washing liquids. I remember in our house ritha was also used to wash the hair, gold and silver ornaments and artifacts and expensive glassware.

The woollens were hand washed. Ma took care to place the washed woollies on the seat of a cane chair for the easy drainage of the water. Later she spread out old newspapers on a clean floor and spread the sweaters on them so that the woollen clothes did not loose their shape and size. The warm clothes were protected from the harsh sun’s rays and dried indoors.

Once done with the washing, it was time to put the woollens away for the next season. Neem leaves were gathered in abundance and left to dry in the sun. After it dried up, a good amount was spread on the floor of the trunk and a cloth spread over it. Then the folded washed woollies were placed carefully in the trunk with more dried neem leaves spread over them. Dry neem leaves have the properties to keep away insects and pests. Till date in villages people use twigs of neem as toothbrush as the fiber helps in cleaning the teeth properly, the leaves are also used in storage of grains, chicken pox treatment and for many skin diseases like scabies, exzema, psoriasis, and others. Ma was in favour of storing woollen clothes in trunks as they remained closed and did not disturb the contents till the next season.

With changing times, people now choose detergents and liquid soaps that are readily available in the market and easy to use, the washing machine doing the rest of the work. Fragrance filled mothballs found on the shelves of stores are used for the put away clothes.

Now its time for the Summer Collections and Designers’ are busy displaying their collections with models walking the ramp to show off the recent trends. People will find comfort in cotton wear in these hot and humid days.
Season’s cycle will travel along its path but the neem leaves in my balcony are dry and ready for use.

Friday, May 1, 2009

IPL Season 2 Fever: What Next?

When this whole cricket thingy Indian Premier League (IPL) started, Indians associated within the cricketing circle felt proud of holding a huge money making tournament in India.

God, god, god that was IPL Season 1.

Fate had a different story to tell. IPL Season 2 did not get a place in the cricket grounds in India and so had to move their grounds and land up on the beautiful shores of South Africa.

The story begins here as far as I am concerned. IPL, the full form will read, INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE. Eight teams play against each other. All the teams have Indian names and Indian owners. Most of the players are Indians while there are well known players from other cricketing nations as part of one team or another.

If I’m to speak a little more on IPL, all that I can say it is all about the big B’s involved in it. Players getting a place in the team through BIDDING. If I’m not wrong, there is a huge market for BETTING in the game of cricket. And the whole game rests on BATTING and BOWLING for loss or win.

Baap re baap, players bought by the team management at such huge prices. Are they worth the price? Once the tournament is over, financial mathematics of each team will let the bosses know their profit and loss.

IPL (Indian Premier League) got the shunt out of this country because of IPL (Indian Political League), more specifically the General elections. Just imagine the fate of the players…they cannot cast their votes.

I cam see cricket sliding with time. The Test Matches are outnumbered by the One Dayers. Soon One Dayers will lose their place to Twenty Over matches.

And who knows one day India’s Gali Cricket will be the most watched cricket matches from the balconies of the houses at the high cost of the Gali Pitches.
Who knows…?