Romancing The Rainbow Moment

 Poetry, an effervescent wave, like a burst of rain on a sunny day.

No clash of clouds, no claps of thunder, no play of the blinding pink streaks of light. Yet manifesting a marvellous, bewitching rainbow.

Breezing in like a stranger, unheralded

Dissipating in equal haste

Gone before you catch a (handful) mindful.

Million raindrops flow not to etch streams,

But soak up mother earth, they do.

Spraying forth whiffs of that earthy fragrance of the Terra. (The poet’s mind enriched and ecstatic)

Dripping wet, barks of trees and their leaves

Glistening and swaying shorn of dust and debris;

Flapping wings, shaking rain-drops off their plumes, the birds

Basking in the liquid sunshine from heaven, the animals;

Young and old splashing around………

Sublime poetry is all this, to a poet’s mind. To the rest, well……it is just Rain !

An attempt at transcreating another of my father, N H Katgeri‘s poems from his collection ‘Pratijnegalu‘. From Kannada to English.

kannada book of poems pratijnegalu n h katgeri, my thought lane

Pratijnegalu, the book of poems by N H Katgeri in Kannada

Kannada is a regional language of South India, from the beautiful state of Karnataka. The poet hails from Dharwad, a city of seven hills in the state. The pen is a social activist’s strongest tool alright, but only a few have used poetry to sow the seeds of change in the readers’ minds. This one above is one of his lighter poems though, penned probably in an evening of reminiscences.

The Poet Muses About The Rainbow Moment

The poet here likens those moments when inspiration imbues his mind, to sudden intense rain on a sunny day, painting a magical rainbow. Words and thoughts take flight on a journey of imagination, with no preparation and no cue of whats to come. The mind just travels. And if poets are to be quoted, the inspiration is not their guest too long.

Just like the unexpected short burst of rain makes no big puddles, but soaks up the earth leaving behind the earthy fragrance that we all savour, the hundreds of thoughts, words and visuals that cross the poet’s mind and eye, leave behind the joy of having created a work of art, like the rainbow.

The philosophical take of the poet is that while every experience is most often physical to the common man, to the poet it transcends into metaphysics and aesthetics.

My dear fellow bloggers, I would love to hear from you all, your thoughts on my transcreated work. Have written a blog post in the Contemplations category after ages; most have been on products and fitness. I am hoping I will do more in this area more often.

Bury My Ashes In Dharwad

No Farewell To Dharwad

Bound by rope to bamboo, on a pyre of wood, you will soon consign me to the flames. Charred to ashes and swept ever so gently by the wind, I will blend with the Universe.

My remains are all but a handful of bones (can I really call them mine?) I exist no more ! A pot of stubborn bones and crumbly ashes, all that is left of me, you carry in your hands reverentially.

You weep and I weep too, but its different. You will prevail, but I have to depart !!! I weep at the thought of being sundered from my dear Dharwad !

No end to desires is the decree of the sages. Yet, I do have one final longing, will you hear me out?

Skirting the city where serenity reigns over a little pond ; where lush green cover abounds ; where cows, bulls and buffaloes stride by to quench their thirst herding their bantam calves – there, the soft tinkling of the cow bells around their necks, I must hear ; lilting notes of the cowherds’ flutes must be near. The distinct clinking of glass bangles as women folk troop to the pond to wash their loads of clothes must float to my ears. Learned banter of the Wise as they stroll out for fresh air must linger in my ears. All and much that happens in my dear Dharwad must I apperceive, while the rains of Shraavana drench every inch of me.

In such a spot, bury my remains, will you ? That I may dwell eternally in the bosom of my dear Dharwad.

(PS : Shraavana is considered to be a holy month in the Hindu calendar due to the many festivals that are celebrated during this time.)

A new literary attempt in 2017.

The above ‘poetry-to-prose’ is an attempt to reproduce a poem from a regional language to English in the form of a story, a Wordsong.

My father had a dream for me. He tried his best in his lifetime to get me to write. “Just write’, he would say “and you will soon write well”. It remains a regret to this day that I denied him that pleasure. If there is a way to make up to him for that, I dedicate all my blogging to my dad.

Not a man of letters himself, I mean academically, but write, he did – my father, N H Katgeri. In simple and colloquial words, yet moved minds and hearts when he let his emotions pour forth. He wrote in Kannada, a regional language from the south of India. In his first publication ‘Pratijnegalu‘, which is a collection of short poems or should I say his random musings, he reveals his reverence to his home-town, Dharwad, which he loves to distraction.

kannada book of poems pratijnegalu n h katgeri, my thought lane

Pratijnegalu, the book of poems by N H Katgeri in Kannada

Eight years after he passed away have I taken to paying a tribute to him, in trying to reach his literary work wider and placing Dharwad, the land of many fine arts (music, literature, handicrafts and folk-art) on a bigger map.

Dharwad : Used to be a sleepy town with sylvan surroundings once upon a time, but is now a throbbing city that is caught between the old world charm and the inescapable modernity of the times. My father did and I lament too at having lost a beautiful hilly town to the ravages of a city that tries hard to keep pace with the rest of the world. But some, like this college premises, the famous Karnatak College have managed to retain their old-world charm. More on the diversities of Dharwad soon.

Karnatak college once the railways building, my thought lane

The beautiful railway building of the British era converted to an Arts & Science College, the karnatak College

Dharwad is said to be at least 900 years old and is rich with its cultural heritage. It is now the district headquarters of Dharwad district in the state of Karnataka. It was merged with Hubballi, a neighbouring city in 1961 to form the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad. Located 425 km northwest of Bengaluru on NH 48, it is lodged between Pune and Bengaluru and makes for some excellent driving trips.

Wikipedia says this about Dharwad :

The word “Dharwad” means a place of rest in a long travel or a small habitation. For centuries, Dharwad acted as a gateway between the Malenaadu (western mountains) and the Bayalu seeme (plains) and it became a resting place for travellers. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘dwarawata’, ‘dwara‘ meaning “door” and ‘wata‘ or ‘wada‘ meaning “town”.

Isnt it symbolic then that my father yearns to rest eternally in the bosom of Dharwad, the place of rest ?

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge – Much Ado About Everything

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge, thank you – I get to publish these photos that I have been clinging on to, not being sure if I wanted to Instagram them or post them on Facebook. Ain’t I glad to be in the blogging world where there is always a corner to publish our thoughts?

This one here was clicked at a restaurant called Chennai Express in the Chennai city airport. Metal trunks of days when people lugged these heavy luggage boxes into trains and buses. You either had to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger or you needed a porter to carry them on their heads. Nice way to customise one’s trunks with those painted flowers on them. And then we have kettles and metal canisters in which grain was stored in quantities. Neatly stacked up  on an antique wooden box. My mood was upbeat being Mumbai-bound and this visual only added to it.

metal trunks, cannisters, kettles and antique wooden box at Chennai Express restaurant in the city airport

Old world charm with metal trunks, canisters and kettles and an antique wooden trunk

Candle stands, spoons and bowls made of wood that I bought in Kerala, a southern state in India. My husband and I fought over these – we had excess baggage and I insisted on bringing these home.

wooden artefacts from Kerala

Candle stands, spoons and bowls made of wood from Kerala

Clicked on a busy shopping street in Mumbai, India – a needy boy paid to spread cheer with his balloons. It tugged at my heart to see boys his age buy balloons from him and swish them into the air merrily while this lad had no right over any one of the balloons.

Boy selling balloons

A needy boy sells balloons to make his living

This is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, one of the finest functional railway station buildings of the world and is used by more than three million commuters every day. Designed by F W Stevens, it spawns across a 2.85 hectare area and took more than 10 years to be completed having started in 1878. The style of the architecture is Victorian Gothic Revival and is the coming together of two cultures, British architects working with Indian craftsmen to infuse Indian architectural tradition, making it unique to Mumbai, then called Bombay. The terminus remains lit beautifully from early evening till late into midnight. From the harsh light of the cameras to the soothingly lit Victoria Terminus. A mood change.

Victoria Terminus Mumbai

The beautiful Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus formerly called Victoria Terminus

I have memories linked to this photo. It is a shooting spot in Mumbai where a Hollywood movie was being filmed. The place that was teeming with actors, cameramen, makeup artists and tons of apparatus suddenly took on a bare look as the director wrapped up the filming and I couldn’t help but capture the mood of transience. I also loved the early evening sunlight streaming in.

a shooting spot in Mumbai

A shooting spot in Mumbai

This is the Heliconia Golden Torch species of flowers from India that I found in a resort in Mysore of South India. Who would have the heart to delete this photo ?

Vibrant Heliconia Torch Gold flowers from India

Vibrant Heliconia Torch Gold flowers from India

Lush green lawn grass strewn with flowers. No man made pattern this. I marvelled at the symmetry of nature when I clicked this picture fit to be made a wallpaper on smartphones.

green grass with flowers

A carpet of lush green lawn grass with flowers strewn by Nature from the nearby tree

Feels good to have made use of the photographs. Hope you all like them. Leave behind a comment, I would love to know.

Ciao !

Wildlife Photography ‘Moods Of Wildlife’ Through The Lens Of Dilip Chacko

Innocent and vulnerable. Playful yet ferocious. A little kindness here, a trifle killer instinct there. Call it their moods – Moods of Wildlife. Beasts are beautiful and they are endowed with emotions too like the Homo sapiens. Only a lucky few, those that have the sensitivity get a peek into wildlife emotions. The closest I got to was in the Kabini Reserve Forest in India. Beholding the fatherly instinct of an elephant that herded his baby into the cover of the forest and would not budge from our way till the baby disappeared into the thickets. And as he swayed his huge form to follow his child, he turned around one last time and in those tiny eyes I thought I could see relief.

This is not the elephant I encountered, but the photography of the artist Dilip John Chacko featured below.

Matriarch herd leader Timbavati Reserve South Africa

Matriarch, the herd leader at Timbavati Reserve, South Africa

Wildlife fascinates me no end, but I didn’t ever think I would get an opportunity to feature Moods of Wildlife. The Sandalwood Room provided me that. I hope this is the beginning and I get to explore my interest further. These gorgeous photo prints are on exhibition and sale at The Sandalwood Room.

The wildlife photography that follows is the work of the avid amateur wildlife photographer Dilip John Chacko, whose interest and passion for wildlife was kindled at a very young and impressionable age. He accompanied his father on two safaris at a tender age, days when safaris were primitive and tough. He braved it all and got wedded to a lifetime of passion for wildlife conservation. India and South Africa seem to be his favourite haunts.

Tigress Machli at Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve, India

Tigress Machli chilling out at Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve, India

This adorable tigress Machli is so called since she has a fish-shaped mark on her face. Machali in Hindi translates to fish. She is also known as the Lady of the Lake, rightfully so. See, animals have their favourite spots too and they like solitude! I would give anything to find out what goes on in their minds in their private moments! Machli is the most photographed tigress in India, she seems to have earned the privilege. Her fight with a 14 feet crocodile is the most talked about encounter amongst wildlife enthusiasts; in fact the first to be recorded and filmed.

Now this is probably called testing the waters. Here is a sub adult tiger doing just that perhaps.

A sub adult tiger at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

A sub adult tiger at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

A tigress and her cub seem to be caught up in a tender moment. This photograph brings to my mind the cat stretch that we are told to do at the gyms, except that even a dancer cannot be as graceful as the feline.

A tigress and her cub at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

A tigress and her cub at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

A crouching tiger does not always pounce and leap, it could just be quenching its thirst.

The tigress lapping up water at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

The tigress lapping up water at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

This one certainly stalking her prey. Padding softly and silently.

A tigress stalking her prey at bandhavgarh wildlife reserve india

A tigress stalking her prey at Bandhavgarh Wildlife Reserve, India

Bringing a bit of relief from the fierce and the ferocious are these gentle chitals drinking from a pond. The lens of Dilip Chacko capturing the images of the chitals beautifully in the water.

A herd of chitals at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve, India

A herd of chitals at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve, India

This cheetah is certainly not doing what you think it is. Not roaring but probably yawning. Did you know cheetahs cannot roar? They growl and hiss and make a few other bleat kind of noises. Would you laugh at me if I said they chirp? They do, check it out on here, but mind you the chirps can be heard for miles!

A cheetah and her cub at the Sabi Sands Reserve, South Africa

A cheetah and her languid cub at the Sabi Sands Reserve, South Africa

Do beasts enjoy the cool blow of air on their faces? Looks like they do going by the stance of this lion and its mane being swept gently across its neck and head.

An alpha male at the Maasai Mara national Reserve, Kenya

An alpha male at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Coming back to the artist, Dilip Chacko does two safaris every year. In 2010, he was privileged to go to Africa on a training trip working with two National Geographic professionals on how to shoot wildlife on the field. He was one of twelve amateur photographers selected for this programme. The photographs that he sent in from his earlier trips were his passport to an experience that will never be erased from his memory.

He is on board for several panel discussions of Aircel and Sanctuary Asia.

The Paper:

Matte : Hahnemuhle photo rag 308 gsm

Glossy: Hahnemuhle photo silk rag 308 gsm

Photo Rag is the most popular paper chosen by photographers to create high quality fine art prints. The fine, smooth surface and feel of Photo Rag lends versatility to the paper, making it ideal for printing both, black and white and colour photographs. Art reproductions on this paper make for impressive pictorial depth. They are archival quality papers.

Catch these Moods of Wildlife at The Sandalwood Room. The title Moods of Wildlife is my encapsulation of the photographs and not assigned by the artist or The Sandalwood Room. That is the way I have envisaged while writing about the photographs. The photo prints are available in specific sizes, but can be customised to suit your requirements.

The Sandalwood Room prides itself on being the only one of its kind in Singapore. It is a boutique for those who love the finer things of life and you can unwind  and feel pampered. In a store like this and for the kind of products they retail in, the touch and feel factor makes a big difference. So best to walk in and feel the experience.

  • If you have liked any of these photo prints , walk in and if you wish to place an order, email them and The Sandalwood Room will be happy to take the order and courier the item to you.
  • Price on request. Email them at the ID below.
  • Payments are routed through PayPal.
  • All products subject to availability.

New Address:

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Phone : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896

Email: thesandalwoodroom@gmail.com

Website: http://www.thesandalwoodroom.com

Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room 

 

Magical Sandalwood Can Calm And Soothe Mind And Body

The very word ‘sandalwood‘ conjures up a feeling of calm and cool, bringing back with it memories of childhood, when sandalwood paste was applied on our foreheads at an auspicious ceremony. Mothers and grandmothers applied it on certain kinds of minor wounds too after cleaning them thoroughly. And a feeling of wellness pervaded as the fragrance of the sandalwood paste wafted into the air filling our olfactory nerves. As children we thought it was a magical potion from the heaven.

Ganesha in sandalwood

Not just in temples, such sandalwood Ganeshas adorn many a working desk in India and many other countries

But yes, it is a magical potion from a different heaven. The one to whom we owe our very existence, Mother Nature. We knew as children that sandalwood is revered, with its unmistakable presence in temples, during festivals and at ceremonies. Our amazement doubled when we learned during early schooling that this magical potion is derived from a tree, the ‘sandalwood tree’. I remember vividly how an over inquisitive fellow student, or should we say precocious, wanted to know how fragrance was being added to the wood, only to be told that the wood was naturally fragrant.

We were then told of its antiseptic properties and it made sense why the paste had been applied on some of our wounds. Later in life we learnt how much more precious sandalwood is, with its healing properties as an anti-inflammatory, antiphlogistic, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, disinfectant, emollient, expectorant, hypotensive, memory booster, sedative and a tonic substance.

This blog post is the result of a question I had posed to The Sandalwood Room team on the choice of their name. In response to that, they showed me the sandalwood tree image specially created for them and a short succinct description.

sandalwood tree, the sandalwod room

The sandalwood tree for The Sandalwood Room

Sandalwood is exotic and rare and its products precious and special. The wood of the tree is fragrant, heavy, fine-grained and retains its fragrance for decades. Gifts made of sandalwood show care, thought, style and the unspoken nature of a special relationship.

Sandalwood oil extracted from the wood has been highly valued as a fragrance for millennia across religions (for use in rituals and places of worship) and cultures (as medicine, cosmetics and fragrance). The Indian sandalwood is a threatened species indigenous to south India. Apart from its religious and cultural uses, sandalwood products are well-known to have a calming effect and are used during meditation and in aroma therapy.

And that explains how the products at The Sandalwood Room have been curated with so much care and thought, to personal styles and environment. Adding a mark of distinction. Just like the fragrance of the sandalwood that lasts for decades and is most coveted, the products of The Sandalwood Room are also sought after for their longevity and beauty of being handcrafted.

I feel like adding a note on sandalwood here to highlight why the wood is so precious. So, here goes:

The Indian sandalwood is the most highly prized to be followed by the Australian variety.

But sandalwood and its by products are becoming rare and expensive. Here is why : The trees are difficult to propagate and must grow for at least 40-80 years old to become suitable for harvesting. Specialists say 80 years is preferred – the older the tree, better the quality of the wood and its aroma. Nature has made the trees sturdy and resilient and they may live up to a good 100 years.

Oil extracted from such matured trees through steam distillation, is highly valued and used as an additive in fragrances, cosmetics, soaps (back in India, we have the popular Mysore Sandal Soap which comes highly recommended for children and the mild fragrance still lingers in my nostrils), talcum powders, incense sticks and many other life-style enhancing products. Hydro-distillation is another age-old method of distillation and is known to give even more superior quality oil.

The most precious part of the tree is the heartwood and the best heartwood comes from its roots. Older the trees, more the heartwood and better the quality of oil that can be extracted (of course the experience of the distiller and superior distillation process being a given).

The Sandalwood Room prides itself on being the only one of its kind in Singapore. I did a bit of recce around certain shopping areas of Singapore and I discovered that, yes, true to their claims, The Sandalwood Room is a boutique  with sublime inspirations of carefully selected fashion wear, jewellery, home décor and designer wear. Mostly handmade. In a lovely conservation shophouse on Tras Street,in the vibrant Tanjong Pagar district of Singapore. A boutique you can step into and linger for a respite; pause, away from the hustle and bustle of the world outside. Escape the ordinary as you step in and forget yourself.

It’s a place for those who love the finer things of life, who look for the detail, someone who goes beyond the ordinary. A place to stop by and suspend reality. Just to envelope yourself in a room full of creative possibilities in the sheer joy of shopping. Their product categories are ‪Fashion and Fashion Accessories, Jewellery,  Home Decor and Accessories, Art and Books, Gifts and Collectibles.

  • If you have liked any of the products from the store, walk in and if you wish to place an order, The Sandalwood Room will be happy to courier it to you.
  • Price on request. Email them at the ID below.
  • Payments are routed through PayPal.
  • All products subject to availability.

New Address:

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Landline : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896

Email: thesandalwoodroom@gmail.com ,

Website: http://www.thesandalwoodroom.com

Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room 

 

Of Candles, Lamps And Copper Enhancing ‘Praying’

As a child I used to wonder every time a lamp was being lit before the commencement of any worship or ritual. But I never asked why. People around me made it appear like lighting the lamp was akin to pleasing God.

Have you tried praying or worshipping sans a lit lamp or a candle? I have and it feels kind of bare and disconnected. I have prayed from the seat of a car, in an elevator, in bed and from the washroom even, but it feels different and certainly more satisfying, when I light a lamp in the room of worship and pray. Of course it goes without saying that one can connect to God from wherever and whenever, but ambience does help!

And then one day as I sat watching my mother light oil lamps at worship time, the surge of positivity and energy that emanated from the warm glow of the lamp illuminated my mind too! The lit lamp had become a tool in helping me calm down, drawing me into a state of serenity and allowing my mind to connect and pray to the Higher Power. A little later in life, I figured out the energy of fire, and lamps and candles have since then become a part of my life.

A small prayer said while lighting a candle that struck me as being truly meaningful.

Hurricane lamp copper base the sandalwood room

Copper based Hurricane Lamp

O Blessed Lord, accept this burning candle as a sign of my faith and love for you.

Like this candle, I am ready to be used in your service, without asking why and to what purpose.

Even as this candle, I wish to stand in your presence to be consumed in the light and warmth of
your love.

Please hear my prayer and, if it be your will, grant my petition.
Above all, make me loyal and faithful to you in all circumstances of my life.
Amen.

flower and candle floaters copper The Sandalwood Room

Copper ‘flower and candle floaters’ in different sizes

Just like we can never have enough clothes, shoes and handbags, so are most of us perennially shopping for lamps and candles. You can buy some from The Sandalwood Room like the ones in the pictures. The flower-and-the-candle-floaters caught my fancy; you may like them too. Flowers, candles and copper make it perfect holistically. If flowers and candles invoke a feeling of well-being, copper only adds to it with its healing and protective properties, being associated as the body metal. Its reddish-orangish-brownish hue only enhancing it further.

copper worship tray  Sandalwood Room,

The Worship Tray

A friend at the store put together  a copper tray and added these little copper boxes with floral patterns on the top and called it the ‘Worship Tray’. She said she would insert round candles into the boxes and give the ensemble out as a gift. Nice idea, I thought.

copper meditation bowl  Sandalwood Room

The Meditation Bowl

The Sandalwood Room calls this a meditation bowl. Sit in a quiet place, float a few flowers and candles, add a few drops of essential oils and let the soothing ambience lead you into a meditative mood.

copper flower floaters Sandalwood Room

In Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s own words, “You don’t need to believe in any God. It need not even be dark, the lamp need not be a visual aid, but do you notice it makes some kind of a difference? This is because the moment you light a lamp, not the flame itself but around the flame a certain etheric sphere will naturally happen.

Where there is an etheric sphere, communication will be better. Did you ever sit around a campfire in your life? If you did, you would have seen that stories told around the campfire always have the maximum impact on people. Have you noticed this? The storytellers of yore understood this – stories told around the campfire are always the most effective stories. Receptivity will be at its best.

Fire in itself is a source of enery and life. It also creates a field of energy around itself, and above all it creates the necessary atmosphere. So when you light a lamp before you start your day, it is because you want to bring the same quality into yourself.  It is symbolism; it’s a way of invoking your own inner nature”.

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the founder of Isha Foundation, is a yogi and profound mystic of our times, a visionary humanitarian and a prominent spiritual leader.

And on the other side of the spectrum, we have candle light dinners ; lamps and candles decorating dinner tables at restaurants and party spaces, the mood at once turning romantic. I have also not failed to notice, just as you would have too, that we all look prettier, handsomer in the soft glow of the yellow light!!

So then what better way than prayers to bid good-bye to 2015 and ring in 2016? And what better way than to light a lamp or a candle to begin that conversation with the Higher Power? These could be some thoughtful gifts for the New Year.

The Sandalwood Room, copper tea lights

copper boxes fauna The Sandalwood Room

Copper Boxes Fauna

The Sandalwood Room, copper bowl with lid

The Sandalwood Room, Hurricane lamp with carton

The Hurricane Lamp

  • If you loved these products, walk in and if you wish to place an order, The Sandalwood Room will be happy to courier it to you.
  • Price on request. Email them at the ID below.
  • Payments are routed through PayPal.
  • All products subject to availability.

Nearly everything in The Sandalwood Room is exclusive and hand crafted. In fact, it’s the only one of it’s kind in Singapore.

The Sandalwood Room wishes you a very Happy New Year. We are so glad to be a part of spreading cheer to your near and dear ones.

New Address:

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Landline : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896

Email: thesandalwoodroom@gmail.com ,

Website: http://www.thesandalwoodroom.com

Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room 

 

Bhoomika Trust Helping Flooded Chennai To It’s Feet. Do You Want To Too?

Rain has abated, waters are receding, power and cellular networks are being restored in most parts of the city. What stares us now in the face is the magnitude of destruction of life and property in the aftermath of days of unrelenting rain. The death toll has crossed 269. We still haven’t been able to assess the extent of loss of property. The number of flood affected people taking refuge in railway and bus stations and other public places is enough to make your heart sink. Over 3 lakh people of Chennai and its surrounding towns. Our relief work has begun.

Flood affected for relief materials

Flood affected citizens in a queue for relief materials

How will we rehabilitate such huge numbers? How will we provide them home and work all over again? Belongings all gone, they now are dependent on being fed, clothed and sheltered. Do you want to help? You can contribute to Bhoomika Trust, details at the end of the blog.

Bhoomika volunteers

Bhoomika Trust volunteers packing food for the flood ravaged

In my blog of yesterday, I requested all of you to pray for us, along with us for the rains to stop and the sun to shine upon us. Our prayers were heard. Today I write with a request to all those that can help us rebuild our peoples’ lives. I recount portions of my prayer post of yesterday.

“Rains have lashed cruelly, wiped away peoples’ homes and belongings, forcing inmates to move to higher floors of apartments and some on to the terraces. Rich nor poor, young nor old have been spared. Open terraces, wet and cold have been the only shelter to some, till being rescued by The National Disaster Rescue Force, the Army, the Navy and citizens alike.

Citizens rescue elderly couple

As citizens rescue an elderly couple on a raft

Chennai Floods NDRF

NDRF rescuing people caught in floods

Chennai: Army personnel carry children on their shoulders as they wade through flood waters in rain-hit Chennai on Thursday. PTI Photo(PTI12_3_2015_000387B)

Chennai: Army personnel carry children on their shoulders as they wade through flood waters in rain-hit Chennai on Thursday. PTI Photo(PTI12_3_2015_000387B)

Reservoirs have brimmed over and rivers have swelled. There are no roads left in some parts of the city, they have been converted to waterways.

Chennai streets waterways

Chennai streets turn into waterways. None spared

We taxied our people to safety in boats.

PTI photo

Army personnel rescue people and pets alike from flooded houses as they clutch on to their belongings

This is how much our airport and railway tracks were submerged till a few hours ago.

Chennai floods 8_Fotor_CollageBut we are resilient. Our people have risen to the occasion with single minded focus of rehabilitating those who have lost a roof over their heads. Our shopping malls and cinema halls suspended their shows for a while and made room for the cold and shivering to spend the night. So did the places of worship of every faith. Our citizens have strengthened the hands of the state machinery in relief work like nowhere else. The rains have been truly merciless, a situation no government can probably deal with single-handedly. No government, no state could have been equipped to handle a calamity of this magnitude. Our volunteers for relief work round the clock are our warriors, they are young, very young, they are old, very old, but have come out in numbers that are overwhelming. Relief materials have poured in generously, from neighbouring states too, but is it enough? The task ahead is herculean”.

Bhoomika Trust nasdaq new york Times Square

In New York’s Times Square, NASDAQ Joins The Campaign To Help Chennai

It is relief centres like Bhoomika Trust that have in a huge measure come to the rescue of flood torn Chennai. Providing relief during times of disaster. Hundreds of volunteers cooking,  packing food for the homeless, collecting and distributing fresh sets of clothes to young and old alike, providing rations and stoves to those that have lost their belongings, but have a bare home. Reaching out medical supplies to the sick. Clean drinking water is the need of the hour and Bhoomika Trust is doing their best to distribute the same. Babies and little children are languishing without milk in these flood torn areas. There is a huge need to not just feed, clothe and shelter the homeless for the next few days, but the task of providing long term relief is a daunting task. The Trust is bending backwards to meet such needs. It will need as much aid and support as can be given.

Here are their goals in their own words.

 Our Goals

Channel efforts into meaningful interventions that focus on under-privileged individuals
During times of disaster, work with experts in the field of relief and rehabilitation, foster a spirit of public – private partnership and avoid duplication of efforts.

Focus areas

Providing/ coordinating relief and rehabilitation support during times of disaster
Providing educational assistance to under-privileged students
Providing support to other NGOs

 

Bhoomika Trust was set up in February 2001 and primarily works towards providing disaster relief and rehabilitation. The Trust has worked extensively with victims of natural disasters like the earthquake in Gujarat and the tsunami in South India

To view Bhoomika Trust’s fact sheet, click here

To view Bhoomika Trust’s organizational structure, click here

 

Disaster Relief Donations:

Contributions in Indian rupees can be made towards Bhoomika Trust

(A/c no: 006010100609760 at Axis Bank, Radhakrishnan Salai, Chennai)

IFSC Code: UTIB0000006, MICR Code: 600211002

 

Online contributions in INR can be made through (www.truegiftsindia.org)

 

Foreign Contributions can be made towards Bhoomika Trust FCRA A/c

(A/c no: 006010100611060 at Axis Bank, Radhakrishnan Salai,Chennai)

IFSC Code: UTIB0000006, MICR Code: 600211002

Please mention disaster relief in your mail to bhoomikaindia@yahoo.co.in regarding donations

Do leave a comment behind to show us your solidarity or if you intend to lend a helping hand. Thank you!

Dear World, Please Pray For Chennai, We Are Flood Ravaged

My lovely city Chennai and its neighbouring towns, battered by rains like never before. We have been brought down to our knees, by the fury of Nature! Thousands rendered homeless, hundreds of deaths, painful loss of property and business due to unrelenting rain since December 1.

I shall refrain from giving statistics or posting pictures, there is Google for that. I am praying and I want all of you to pray for my city and its neighbourhood as I hear there is more impending rain. Please pray that we are spared the aftermath of epidemics that is looming large in our faces. Our city of 7 million is sub-merged.

We, Chennai-earlier-called-Madras, are at 13.04°N 80.17°E on the southeast coast of India and in the northeast corner of Tamil Nadu, on a flat coastal plain known as the Eastern Coastal Plains. We stand at an average elevation of 6 metres (20 ft), the highest point being 60 m (200 ft).

We are a peace-loving people. We are highly spiritual. We are culturally rich and knowledge-hungry. We are a tolerant state. We are much less communal, rather hardly. We are givers, yet being punished for something we cant figure out.

Our city stands devastated, but our spirit remains unhindered. Rains have lashed cruelly, wiped away peoples’ homes and belongings, forcing inmates to move to higher floors of apartments and some on to the terraces. Rich nor poor, young nor old have been spared. Open terraces, wet and cold have been the only shelter to some, till being rescued by The National Disaster Rescue Force and citizens alike. Some of us have learnt to live without electricity, wi-fi, water and cellular networks for close to 96 hours, marooned and distraught with meagre food supplies. Reservoirs have brimmed over and rivers have swelled, nay, have taken over the city. There are no roads left in some parts of the city, they have been converted to waterways. We taxied our people to safety in boats, but we did not lose our sense of humour amidst the adversity. We likened our city to Venice and took pictures. Our airport has remained shut from December 2 till a few hours ago. Our railway tracks have remain hidden. We hope to bring them back to normalcy soon.

But we are resilient, true to the spirit we are known for. We will bounce back. Our people have risen to the occasion with single minded focus of rehabilitating those who have lost a roof over their heads. We have opened our homes to shelter the homeless. I am not even bringing in religion here, for at times such as these, we know only one religion, that of humanity. Our shopping malls and cinema halls suspended their shows for a while and made room for the cold and shivering to spend the night. So did the places of worship of every faith. Our citizens have strengthened the hands of the state machinery in relief work like nowhere else. The rains have been truly merciless, a situation no government can probably deal with all by itself. No government, no state could have been equipped to handle a calamity of this magnitude. But we stand united. Our volunteers for relief work round the clock are our warriors, they are young, very young, they are old, very old, but have come out in numbers that are overwhelming. Relief materials have poured in generously, from neighbouring states too, but is it enough? The task ahead is herculean. That of providing home and work to those that have lost all. That of cleaning up the city and restoring it to its glory.

But what hurts us most is that the rain clouds still seem to be intent on pouring themselves out on our city! Why do you hover so menacingly over our heads? Please leave, dissipate. I am not asking you to move elsewhere, but just dissolve into nothingness. There has been enough destruction, spare us from more. Allow us to rebuild and rehabilitate. Give us some sunshine, give us hope, give us strength.

A Broken Heart’s Musings – Awaargi In ‘Yeh Dil Yeh Pagal Dil Mera’

O love-lorn heart, has your carefree, gay abandon been extinguished?

Ustad Ghulam Ali saab’s  ‘Yeh dil yeh pagal dil mera, kyon bujh gaya awaargi‘,  a lovely rendition, in his signature style of combining melody with technique. That quintessential ghazal style.

Listen to the ghazal at leisure, but scroll down as you read for my take on the poetry.

Ghazals and Love, a beautiful combination of poetry and feelings. I have chosen to interpret this popular Ghulam Ali ghazal differently from all that is there on the web. What I write here is how I pictured it in my mind’s eye as I spent a rainy evening in solitude. It is not a translation.

A capsule of a description:

My Thought Lane

Unrequited love is the heart of the matter here, which therefore links all the expressions in the stanzas to a heart that pines for his love. The poet flits in and out of those moods, at times resigning himself to a ‘love’ lost and at others, dwelling in moments of the pain of separation. Ask lovers that have been separated and they will tell you there is a sweet something, even in the pangs. Is that why they cling to that pain for as long it takes? For, every memory that takes them back to the times of togetherness, they relive moments of love, albeit fleetingly. Even if at the end of it, there is a stabbing pain in the pit of their stomach.

Awaargi, to me in this context is that happy and carefree state of mind or solitude, where all that matters is the beautiful bond between two lovers. A certain naughtiness that comes from being in love, a certain detachment from all else.

My attempt here is to bring out the beauty in the expression of the pain of unrequited love. Hence, I have taken excerpts from the ghazal in the following couplets. There are many versions of the lyrics on the web. The one here is from the album I have.

Yeh dil yeh paagal dil mera, kyon bujh gaya awaargi

O love-lorn heart, has your carefree, gay abandon been extinguished?

Is dasht mein ek shehr tha, wo kya hua awaargi

There used to be a town here in this desert. It seems to have disappeared along with my Love. Has she taken it away with her? Is that why my heart has stopped fluttering?

Kal shab mujhe be-shakl ki awaaz ne chaunka diya, main ne kaha tu kaun hai usne kaha awaargi

Last night, a strange voice surprised me ; I asked to know who that was and it replied “your awaargi  (happy, carefree mood)” !

Here, the poet probably means that his love raises its hood now and then, refusing to die down. Reminding him of the youth of his heart. Surreal !

Ye dard ki tanhaiyaan ye dasht ka veeran safar, hum log to ukta gaye apni suna awaargi

These agonizing moments of loneliness in a journey that is even more lonelier in the desert. I am tired in mind and body. “How are you faring my Awaargi?”

The poet in conversation with his once happy state of mind. Looking for some cheer, wishing to probably go back in time. Or resigned to forever pine for his love.

Ek ajnabi jhonke ne jab poochha mere ghum ka sabab, sehra ki bheegi reth par maine likha awaargi

The voice replies : Hear my story. A soft breeze from nowhere touched me lightly and asked to know what had caused me sorrow. I replied, “I have become transient. I am a mood written in the wet sands of the desert, dampened by tears, likely to be washed away anytime. I am scared of losing myself”.

Kal raat tanha chaand ko dekha tha maine khwaab mein, mohsin mujhe raas ayegi shayed sada awaargi

The poet smiles and says : Last night I saw the moon in my dream and she appeared lonely in the vast expanse of the sky. And she seemed to say, “Mohsin, just like I am destined to be lonely up here and yet shine, so are you to a lifetime of having to live with and by your awargi. That will be your only solace to endure your journey”. So, despair not but walk with me for as long as we both last.

The ghazal tradition, Maqta has it that the poet mention his name in the final couplet of every ghazal, which is called the takhallus, thereby laying claim to the poetry and summarizing his feelings, Here, Mohsin is the poet.

I hope you all like it, this is my first attempt to interpret an Urdu poem and I enjoyed doing so.

Khuda Hafiz !

 

Has Facebook made you a better person ?

Positive-Quotes-Facebook-Covers-18

I love Facebook and I am on Facebook because I love to share.

so cute

So cute

( all picture credits : Internet )

I was recently complimented by a friend, who thought many of my posts were useful and informative, along with updates of events and people in my life. So finally, here was one person who was not like ‘you-are-always-on-Facebook’ types. I have heard that so often. Thank you friend !

Those typified types, tell me this : So how do you know I am on Facebook all the time, if you aren’t too ? And the difference being, that I count (read matter) on Facebook and you don’t ! Because all you do is snoop into peoples’ lives willingly and then whine about it. And you either have nothing worth sharing, or are a private person or not sociable enough. Ha ! I finally said it and it makes me feel good !!

This positive comment by my friend egged me on taking up my pen, oops, the keyboard! Not that I had not given it a thought earlier, but this was the prompt probably I was waiting for.

Facebook has certainly improved the quality of life for many of us. Those that use Facebook judiciously – those that don’t let it consume their waking and sleeping hours that is.

And please , please lets leave out exceptions in this forum – those that have misunderstood this platform. Hope they learn the ropes some day.

Facebook has made some us of better writers than we used to be. There is a writer, be it of prose, or poetry latent in most of us. Isn’t that very evident everyday as you see scores of updates, film-reviews , sports-discussions and debates flying across Facebook? Who else would have given us this platform to be as articulate as we are now? I am sure language skills have heightened along the way too! Some are still not there, but they will be, given time I guess.

Dont agree, depends on how you use it

Dont agree, depends on how you use it

About 1 billion people used Facebook on a single day going by the stats provided by Facebook as on August 24, 2015. More than 1.49 billion active users access Facebook worldwide on a monthly basis and they are counting. So, a change coming into so many lives.

Has Facebook made us better thinkers ? It’s important that you keep good company even on Facebook !! But yes, I think it has made us better thinkers. To all those who post opinions, inspirational photos , start debates on sociopolitical issues that affect or torment all, or most of us, kudos to you! You want to make a difference and bring in a change by motivating people to think. A sweeping change is a far-fetched dream, but even if a percentage of the population or authorities take cognizance of it, we have risen by a few notches. We are in the process, just look at the stats:

Every 60 seconds , 510 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded.

Facebook has made us better photographers. There are apparently 300 million photo uploads everyday. Isnt that mind-boggling? Where was this love of photography universally prior to the spring of 2004, when Mark Zuckerberg along with his college room-mates launched Facebook ? I am sure the first few hundred postings were merely photographs and nothing else. We have become more creative , more aware of camera angles, of creative lighting and of editing.

Wondering what to do about the driver's licence part!

Wondering what to do about the driver’s licence part!

I can hear someone from the side-wings hiss “but you have all become narcissists”. I was expecting this ! But come with me, lets open this door and see whats inside.

Facebook has opened the doors of awareness. Made us more aware of ourselves and our surroundings. Aren’t we all better groomed today, thanks to Facebook in part? Now admit it, as you step out of your rooms, all dressed , be it for work or an outing, whats the first thing that comes to mind? Your phone camera ! So,  isn’t a lot more effort going into making yourself more presentable ? That’s not being narcissistic, that’s being more careful about one-self.

Ha ha !

Ha ha !

We are becoming our own stylists and who is motivating us ? Like-minded fellow beings posting their pictures in various attires. A thumbs up to that.

There is another hiss this time even meaner ‘but you are all a group of attention-seekers’ !!!!!!!

Oh come on, give me a break!

Lets go back a bit in time. Youngsters stay where you are, you may not understand this journey. Those whose childhoods were spent in the 20th century – do you remember those moments of excitement, when you donned new clothes for festivals and the like and you ran around to members of your family showing off your attire ? Why even to neighbours sometimes !! What would you do if you had a social media platform then?

Gotcha ! As homo-sapiens we crave for appreciation, it’s a trait typical to our species.

We share our thoughts and photographs on Facebook because we want to. Your prerogative to like them or not. But do look at the stats again here. On an average, the Like and Share buttons are used and viewed across almost 10 million websites daily, as of 10/2/2014. It must have grown by leaps – we are coming to the close of 2015.

So yes, it makes us feel good to be recognised and appreciatedFB fans

Facebook has turned some of us into social activists of sorts. There is a streak of goodness in most of us humans. Mind you, we are not taking pictures of ourselves all the time. We bring out our phone cameras when we want to right a wrong too – on the streets, at work, at home, at cinema halls et al. And we post them on Facebook – to create awareness and bring about a change in our attitudes and behaviour, to become more responsible. It has worked many a time, bringing about a paradigm shift in the way we conduct ourselves and in the way our politicians and bureaucrats have risen up to occasions.

Now this is a happening of this afternoon. Driving back home after lunch, we saw a few metal road dividers that had toppled on a busy stretch of road in Adyar in Chennai. My son who is an actor, pulled over, crossed the street and struggled to put them back in place. I could see that they were not only heavy but chained to one another and he was struggling to get them up. Another Samaritan came lent a hand and the road dividers were back in place. Proud mom that I was, attempted to videograph it, but in my excitement forgot to click the start button on my phone-camera. I would have loved to post it on Facebook, but missed a golden opportunity of conveying a sense of responsibility in civic life.

Another occasion where I was able to get a needy student funds for her education through Facebook. A note of thank you to my  lovely friends – Ramesh Kalghatgi, Sateesh Jadhav and Richa Kapoor.

There is a bit of a leader in all of us. Todays generations are richer in terms of life-experiences than the previous ones and the lessons gained from it are manifold. I am not sure if we have become better people, but we certainly have gained an angle of ‘smartness’ if you know what I mean. So our heads are teeming with ideas and concepts for change in ourselves, fellow-beings and the SYSTEM. We want to share them, collect opinions and start a campaign perhaps. So we hit Facebook. Be honest, don’t tell me you haven’t re-looked at your personality* and made a few changes in the way you think and live, after reading some sensible posts!

*Personality as in the sum-total of the physical, mental, emotional and social characteristics of an individual (defn. in psychology)

Golden key and puzzle pieces - 3d render illustration

Pic courtesy : Corporate Alliance

Above all else, Facebook has reconnected us to family and friends of far and near. How else would we be updated of family trees; of additions to and exits from families? Of achievements and events of those that we care about ?

Facebook has made us better shoppers. It has changed our life-styles for the better. Through exchange of ideas on lifestyle pages and Google analytics. Facebook and Google are actually working on our behalf to up our style-quotient, for home and fashion ! I like it. I like shopping suggestions being splashed across my page. To open the purse-strings or not is my choice, though most often I give in to the temptation !!

Facebook has boosted businesses. Right ? I can see several nods from all those that have utilised Facebook for promoting and building their businesses. Ad-spend on Facebook is fast catching up. Revenue from advertising on Facebook totalled a cool $3.54 billion in the first quarter of 2015 !! Facebook is too big to ignore. And 42% of marketers the world over have reported that Facebook is critical to their business.

FB for business

Talking of business, there is something I wouldn’t do – I wouldn’t post negative reviews or comments about a business, a movie or a sportsperson. This of-course is my personal preference. A mountain of an effort would have gone into starting or building a business, hundreds would have slogged for the making of a movie – I am not going to gainsay them, even if I feel let down. While I do understand the corrective powers of social media over man and his handiwork, I have till date not been able to take up cudgels on social media. I could be wrong, but I am in doubt and so I stay away.

Facebook in a way is the step sister of e-commerce. Selling on Facebook incorporating some of the disciplines of etailing has turned heads of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) into better strategists, better negotiators, has fostered better employer-employee relations and brought together better logistics partners.

 Facebook has made many of us tech-savvy.

Grandma

Don’t we all have at least one person in our immediate or extended families, that has embraced technology by the sheer lure of Facebook ? Good enough.

On a lighter note, why even our domestic help have started updating statuses on Facebook. The downside of this being, it takes some education to make sensible use of the platform.

Following close on its heels are various apps being downloaded to make better use of Facebook for personal gains or business. And that means more business opportunities for tech people like app developers and advertisers.

Gosh! I am finding it really hard to compartmentalize , one benefit permeating into the other. That’s how much Facebook has occupied our space.

Facebook has created job-opportunities. Out of the several, I can think of Social Media Managers as the biggest beneficiaries. Those that manage celebrity pages, business pages, content writers, graphic designers, illustrators, online advertising and marketing strategists and so many more. Let me tell you, this is an exciting field that I am personally kicked about.

social media manager

Pic courtesy : Business 2 Community

16 million local business pages were created by May 2013. I don’t have the current stats though.

Facebook has made us better home-makers. Given a choice I would like to devour every bit of information on the net, and specifically Facebook. But that would mean ‘only reading, no time for implementation’ !! Home décor ideas, cooking tips, fitness trends, nutrition plans, options in appliances, party and wedding planning, travel destinations……how much can we digest ? But all for the good. I stand better equipped today because I am better informed. Agree ?

Is Facebook secure ? Oh please, this is quite clichéd ! It is as secure as you can make it to be. Any gap that you leave in matters of security online or offline, be sure of it being invaded upon.

I have not been on the receiving end of anything unpleasant on Facebook. Or am I saying it too soon ??? The only exception being a fake profile was once created with my name and display picture which was soon thwarted by Facebook on my reporting it.

I could have left out some other plusses of Facebook, please add them in your comments if I have. This is an attempt to bringing out the positives of Facebook, because that’s the way I see it and use it. Nothing is perfect and some could see a few accompanying minuses of the platform, but then again, you can’t have the cake and eat it too! Use Facebook as you please, use it wisely.

Like FB

I would love to hear your comments !