Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rs. 315 Crore Memorial to YSR, Andhra Pradesh ex-Chief Minister

Really, I am not kidding and I am still in my senses. You don’t believe me, do you? Read this below link.

Now don’t get me wrong but why does YSR need such an expensive memorial? What magic’s has he performed that a memorial of that magnitude is being proposed?

Also, who is going to pay for it? Of course not his blue eyed baby Jaganmohan Reddy. It’s the stupid tax payer’s money going to drain! And I stress ‘DRAIN’.

According to 2001 census Andhra Pradesh has literacy rate of only 60.5% (male: 70.3% and female ONLY 50.4%). How about opening new government schools for kids in villages with that Rs. 315 crores?

How about creating more employment opportunities and fulfil few of the promises made?

Pay close attention to Fiscal performance. It has been deteriorating since 1991. Not to forget the poverty line: 20.9% (Rural) and 8.5% (Urban).

In Andhra

Total Population: 76 Million approximately

Rural Poverty: 21%

Urban Poverty: 8.5%

People below poverty line: 15, 960,000+ 6,460,000= 22,420,000.

A WHOPPING 22.5 Million people are under the poverty line, official figures alone!!!! Is there anything at all this Rs. 315 crore’s can do to help them? The answer is simple right?

How about doing something good for women, children and their health care?

On top of everything I quoted above, what kind of an environmental damage are we looking at? Interested? See below.

This will give you a fair idea of the destruction which would be caused to the ‘protected’ forests.

Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy, please! Consider this. Enough of being selfish. Daddy got you whatever you wanted now, isn’t it? Else, why would you even be dreaming about such kind of a memorial? Have pity on your homeland. Give-up these selfish endeavours. If you really are interested in keeping your Dad’s ‘image’ amidst Andhra people, then do something useful.

When will we learn our priorities, especially when a mass of population is concerned?

Note: All sources are accurate, at least that's what the government website claims. Open the links I attached for more information.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Back to Basics

Last week when I was sorting the garbage for the pick-up, I noticed that I had to distribute the garbage in to 4 categories before I set it out.
(Note: Friends in India, in North America, the city comes to pickup the garbage on a designated day in a week. They started doing this in Bangalore as well)

One for recyclables, one for kitchen waste, one for yard waste (like grass, plants etc), one for garbage. (Not to mention the monthly disposal of furniture etc).
This made me wonder and go back in time, to my grand mom’s kitchen, to her parent’s world.
I was reminiscing about this with my husband also as to how we used to go to ‘market’ in olden days (say more than a decade ago). And we recalled how we used to carry a bag along with us to the Sunday markets. We didn’t have any plastic bags to separate the veggies nor did we have to pay extra 5 cents to get a bag, if need be.

Hubby also reminded me the olden way of eating in a banana leaf. It’s fresh, pure and most of all cows in a backyard would feast on the leaves after you finish your dinner! And I don’t have to worry about me dropping it down like I do now with my fine china.
No waste and no excess…my tummy is happy and so is my cow!

Also didn’t we used to get new utensils if we sell recyclables? Jeee, we have everything in India since a long time. We just didn’t name it. And not to forget the kitchen waste like onion skins, egg shells being used as manure!!! We were organic all along!!!!

Now after all these years these Western countries have started this funda in a full swing! Lol!!! And we in India try and imitate their culture, as if it were the way to go.

The Western countries, after all these years, started embracing yoga, Aurveda, The Gita and the Indian way of so many things. And yet, we tend to feel little intimidated by the same people. What are we missing?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Coffee, Tea or Me?

No, you cannot have me :) I was kidding! I can get you coffee or tea though but black. No milk or cream at home.

About a couple of years ago I had to go to the Municipal office in my home town in India for my birth certificate. As unusual as it sounds, even though my birth was registered in the hospital, somehow my parents never got the certificate. Over the years, I also let it go for I didn’t really need birth certificate as a mandatory document until I had to apply for my PR to Canada.

Then the problem began. According to the Municipal office, if we apply and pay the fees of Rs.250, they should be able to re-issue the certificate in 2 working days. Needless to say, I didn’t get the certificate even after 3 weeks. Finally I got the hint and paid Rs.5000. And guess what, I had the certificate in my hand the same evening.

This brings us to an interesting juncture. While I crib and cry that India is filled with corruption, I also encouraged this (shall we say) disease (called corruption/bribe) at one point because I was running short of time. How many of us had done this at point or another? Sometimes in train stations, sometimes at the passport offices, sometimes at the hospitals and many times at a job consultancy?

Do we then have any right to complain about corruption in India? I guess not.

If anyone who reads this says that they have never indulged/encouraged in this corruption, then my hats off to them. We need more people like you.

I made friends with one constable in Jubilee Hills Police Station, (Hyderabad, India) when I went there to complain about my stolen credit card. I learnt from the constable that he works 7 days a week and is on call even when he at home in the evening. His pay is Rs.6500. Now how is he supposed to feed his family with Rs.6500? (If he does dare to get married with that modest paycheck in a city like Hyderabad). So, he ends up taking Rs.10 here, Rs.20 there to make ends meet. Another point to note is that Jubilee Hills is like Beverly Hills. Not everyone can afford a home there. So the constable has to travel at least 1 hour each way to reach home.

You would hear the same story from hospital compounders(nurse) also. And you give them Rs.50 or more in the hope that he will care for your family member who is hospitalized in ICU….

Whose fault is it now? Is it the fault of the people who are trying to make ends meet that they ask for bribes? Now don’t give me that lecture about integrity. In hungry man’s dictionary, there is no word called, ‘integrity’.

So when we want something to be done, we ask if they want coffee (bribe), Tea (corruption), Me (our souls)? Of course, black only for I am running out of milk/cream (means and willingness to fight for a variety of reasons).

Where are we going wrong? What can we do to make India a better place? Please…I am at lost. You can give me a direction.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Forgotten places in London, England

London is one of the beautiful cities I ever visited/lived. It’s (relatively) small compared to any other popular cities like New York, Shanghai etc.

It was early August when I first landed in Heathrow airport all those years ago. I must say I felt a little overwhelmed. Like in any other international airport, the customs was 45 minutes away from the terminal; but hey it’s good to relax your muscles after a long flight.

I stepped out to a balmy/dizzily sky. Later I discovered that no matter what time of the year it is, you always carry an umbrella when you are in London.

My little town house (I used to share this with 3 more people) was in 4th zone, East London, Wanstead to be specific. I loved my little home and my little room. That little room had seen me cry, smile, work, study, sleep and it had been my companion when I had first seen the snow fall for the first time in my life. And it was in that room that I met another invisible companion…no one believes me with this. But that doesn’t matter. I strongly believe that London is the most haunted cities in the world.

Over the years I had lived in London, I discovered many places which are not traditional-touristic. Well, I guess you really need to live there to find the beauty behind these unknown places.

One such street is the dark alley leading to the Clink Prison Museum in the Clink Street. It is surprising that the most believing of Catholics have had such…such kind of torture prisons which will put Saddam Hussein’s torture prisons to shame. The alley itself makes you feel depressed. Close by is The Monument created in memory of everything which had been destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. Again, as soon as you pass, you can feel the melancholy.

One of the most beautiful, hidden parks is the Epping Forest (accessible from Sanresbook on East central underground line). Adjacent to this park is a beautiful lake where you can boat. Calm and collected, it offers a peaceful retreat from all other tourist-rush-spots you have come across. Amidst the chirping birds, weeping willows you would end up in a dream land filled with nature, made just for your eyes.

Also don’t forget to visit the Highgate cemetery. Oh my! Why am I quoting such depressing places? But mark my word, you will love this cemetery.
If you're in London on a Sunday morning, Columbia Road flower market in Bethnal Green is worth a trip.

And if you happen to like Indian food, you should try Veeraswamy in the Regent Street. Of course, you need to book in advance but it’s worth the wait and money. I am yet to taste Chicken Tikka Masala as tasty as Veeraswamy’s.

Coming to shopping, if you like designer cloths, I would say walk down the Oxford street and Harrods in Knightsbridge. Really…it’s too expensive there. But don’t miss out on window shopping!!!

Another important thing you shouldn’t miss while in London is its Broadway shows. My favorites are Les Miserable’s, The Sound of Music and Chicago. I also liked Dirty Dancing but I found this show a little dragging.

The best way to travel in London is through London Underground. Buy a pass and you are al set to enjoy the beautiful, yet ancient city.

Enjoy this ancient city with all its glory. Do justice to your trip 

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rest in Peace dear CM

The recent tragedy of YSR, Andhra Pradesh chief minister, has triggered a lot of personal and political disturbance in India, especially in Andhra Pradesh. While my heart aches for the surviving members of the family and sincerely wish that no one should be unfortunate to pass away like that, I cannot help but reflect on various aspects of the tragedy.

While death somehow manages to defy every political power in this world, why do we (humans) still attach so much importance to power that we forgot that there are 4 others who have died along with the CM? For days media shows about YSR, but what about others who have died along with him mean to us? The wives of the deceased especially; did they love their husbands any less? What about the kids? Did Captain Bhatia, Captain M.S. Reddy, Secretary Subramanyam and security officer Wesley love their kids any less or wanted any thing less-than-perfect?

This morning I was reading the online news and was shocked (I know, news should have stopped shocking me by now) to know the conspiracy theories floating around. The latest scapegoat is, now deceased Captain. I mean come on, why are we so eager to blame the next best person immediately after us (hinting the government)? It’s been several months since we even found a lead to Aarushi Talwar’s case and now this!

Sure enough we Indian’s are always eager to raise some political leader to a pedestal and then forget all about them the moment they are off the power-hook (which is besides the point), but at least lets show a little respect to other poor souls who are now gone along with the ex-CM.

Now starts the real drama in Andhra Pradesh. The princesses of our nation shoud now have mercy on us. Please! Let’s beg and plead with Princess Gandhi to save us from the doom which Andhra Pradesh is now in. Alas but for the Congress we are nothing. But for Princess Gandhi we are nothing! Oh no…why am I so angry today?

Of course, now I remember and recollect, if it were not for the YSR, if it were just any other citizen, then our value of life would have been much less…wait a minute, if the tragedy had to happen to any other citizen of AP, there wouldn’t have been any value for life!

India’s biggest search it was I believe. What happened to all this search operation when 100’s of people were attacked in public places in Mumbai (26/11)?…Ah…poor Mumbai. Raped time and again, a beautiful virgin it was. We should have some shame to let the neighboring country to even lay hands on our beautiful Mumbai….

Err…where was I? Oh Ya! YSR. RIP. My prayers are with the families of the deceased.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Balle Balle…Bollywood to Broadway!!!

The other day I was watching the movie, “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” (Match made in heaven), starring Shah Rukh Khan. When the movie was first released, my friend, all exited, called me from Hyderabad and shares her success story in getting the tickets, first day first show. She paid Rs.300 (in black) for a ticket, which if you buy it in the regular counter would cost Rs.50.

Now after I watched this movie I had to pretend with my husband that I liked the movie, for I like Shah Rukh Khan. Else you will hear of no end to the criticisms from my husband about Mr. Khan. What possessed Mr. Khan to accept that role I cannot phantom.

I also cannot phantom why Broadway shows aren’t as popular in India as Shah Rukh Khans/Rajnikanths movies. I mean, how can one not fall in love with drama when you look at the performance live? “Yenna Rascala! Mind it”, seems to be far more amusing and engaging to many people.

One of my favorite Broadway shows is the KÀ, a show by Cirque du Soleil. This was being played in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. From the stage to the costumes to the story itself, everything was so complicated that it must have been a producer’s nightmare. But the end product is something I can vouch for.

The only exception which I can say in the play is the lack of the traditional ‘stage’. The stage here comprises of a floating platform that rotates and moves with the performers on top. Breathtakingly gracious actors twist and turn; dance and cry and sure enough leave you awed.

When you enter the theatre, you will see a beautiful, ancient village set up and KÁ (gatekeepers) guiding you into your respective seats. 10 minutes before the show begins, the performers start taking in their native language and jump in the midst of the audience, in an attempt to scare (with the help of ropes).

KÀ is a story about "conflict and love", of imperial twins who are separated at the prime of their youth and must undergo a rite of passage of self-discovery. It is about their encounters with KÀ, the fire that has the dual power to destroy or illuminate.
It is about the story of twins separated and re-united along with their respective new-found-love. Death defying feats, songs which move your heart, flying in the air as graciously as a bird, the stage which you can keep on looking forever are a few highlights.

I strongly recommend this show to anyone and everyone! Especially to Karan Johar…I know he can do a better job than highlighting Mr. Khan in all his movies. Really, India has come a very long way and it is only a matter of time before we start demanding something new, something original and something really breathtaking.

So all the producers out there…start doing something new!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who are Eunuchs/ Hijra’s/ Jakkas?


Who are Eunuchs/ Hijra’s/ Jakkas?

It is uncommon that we even think twice about who these people are. More so because we believe that these people aren’t worth our time. This thought process happens unconsciously, because we had been led to believe (mostly by ourselves) that they are good for thing. In this blog, I am trying to address the origin of Eunuchs, what they are exactly and the social bearings of these men/women.

The purpose of this blog is to write as much as I can in simple terms without you having to refer back to heavy material.

Who are Eunuchs/ transsexuals/ Hijra’s/ Jakkas?

Biologically, a person is called a eunuch, when mans penis and testicles are cut off, manually. The absence of testicles would curb the production of testosterone (male hormone) and thus female hormone in the body dominates. The absence of testosterone would stop the facial and body hair growth and slowly the voice changes and they start developing breasts.

Don’t get confused with hermaphrodites as they are born this way, with both male and female characteristics and they are sterile. I will briefly explain how they are born with out going deep into details. Human body consist of 46 chromosomes. 23 from female and 23 from male. The last set of chromosome, which is the 23rd will determine the sex of the child.

XX chromosome means a female and XY is for male (I am talking about the segregation of only the last set). When the combination is XXY, hermaphrodites are born. Note that the way the chromosomes separate, XYY combination is not possible.

If anyone is interested in knowing more about this, let me know and I will answer as best as I can.

So basically eunuchs are made and hermaphrodites are born this way.

Origin of Eunuchs in India:

There are numerous books written about eunuch’s origin but I am going to concentrate on Prof R. Nath and Sir Richard Burton’s essays on eunuchs.

The Eunuchs exist from the pre-Mughal (and pre-independent) era of India. Thousands of captured women are kept as slaves and concubines just for the sexual pleasures of the emperors and the rich. When the men were not around, they had to make sure that women do not escape or involve in adultery. If they keep men as guards, there were chances that these guards would sleep with the women. Hence they castrate young, pre-puberty boys to keep as guards for these women.

The Eunuchs thus made enjoy a high status among the society, then, as they serve the emperor and the rich. So, the people who were poor made their sons eunuchs for a (so called) better life. Slowly that had become a family tradition. Even today there are a few people who believe that a Eunuch in a family would bring good luck to the entire family.

Present survival situation:

There is a 4 km stretch in Hyderabad, by the banks of the famous lake called Tank Bund/ “Necklace Road”. When ever I used to go there, without fail, these eunuchs would come begging for money. Trust me; they do not take ‘No’ for an answer. You are better off giving money to them without making a scene.

Apart from begging, they go un-invited to wedding ceremonies, birth rituals etc and they sing and dance and get money in return. These eunuchs are considered lucky for the newly weds and newborns.

Social Stigma:

Eunuchs have their communities are (even today) treated as social outcasts. Unfortunately, most of them have not gone to school and they are not treated at hospitals. Even educated men/women treat them with contempt…To an extent I can understand the contempt. It’s mostly due to ignorance about their history and insensitivity towards their lifestyle, so different from us.

They are not given any regular jobs and are not accepted in any community other than their own. Hence, they are reduced to begging.

I truly hope that next time around, when you see a eunuch, you treat them like a human being.

Good News:

Thanks to a few great people, lately there are hospitals which are specifically open for them. One such hospital I know (courtesy a doctor friend of mine) is in Pondicherry,

There happens to be a matrimonial website as well, especially designed for transgender. This is a very young website, in growing.

My dear reader, education is all it takes to curb the atrocities towards eunuchs. And yet again, education is all it takes to make sure that the barbaric practices are completely…irradiated, like some dreadful disease, unless of course it is taken up by choice.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Om Shanti Om

Om Shanti Om

Often we do so many things in life mechanically that we fail to understand why exactly we are doing something and what exactly the implications are. Since childhood we had been taught, “This is what I had been told by elders” etc but never really given a reason as to WHY…Oh Why?

The same question intensifies when it comes to religion, customs and traditions. Generations of men/women doing the same thing without understanding the significance is simply appalling.

When I was young, the sole purpose of me going to a temple along with mom was to dress-up and play in the sand (behind the temple) while mom is inside offering her devotion. My good friend used to come to temple because she was in love with the priest’s son and wants to be in his vicinity. Another friend (this time a guy) comes to temple because that’s the only place he can rub his shoulder against the lady standing in front, without being slapped.

Then I asked my mom why she goes to a temple…her answer was, “Oh you know, it’s good to offer a coconut every Saturday”. I ask my mom why it is good. She had no answer then, not even now. I asked the ‘aunty’ (in India we call everyone who is elder as aunty/uncle/sister/brother…I will explain why we do so in another blog as it is rather an interesting custom (if I can call it so)) next door and she said, “I want to showoff my saree and jewelry”. I was impressed because she was honest. I asked my friends mom and her answer was, “to socialize”. If we look deep within we (at least I) fail to understand that real reason behind we going to a temple. Maybe we go for all of the above reasons. But I do not know if that was the reason why a temple is there for. How many of do anyway?

About a year ago I had been to Srinivasa Kalyanam in one of the temples. There the priest had broken about 50 coconuts in less than 1 hour. Later when I asked why he had to break 50 of them (if it was 1, I would not have asked), he didn’t have an answer to satisfy me.

Somewhere I read, “You can easily excuse a child who is afraid of darkness. The irony of life is when an adult is afraid/ignorant of light”.

So that’s how my quest began to understand about every small thing we do in our day to day (or I should say special days) prayers/Pooja’s.

In this blog I intend to address a few rituals which Hindus regularly perform but have little/no understanding of why we perform them. This blog is for people who want to know that so controversial word, ‘why’.

Cleaning the deities and doing the Abhishekam:

God does not need to be cleaned (as he is the abode of perpetual cleanliness and purity). But in the olden days, many kings and maharaja’s used to awoken with songs, be bathed with fragrant oils etc and are decorated by their devote followers.

The same custom has been adapted by our elders as we consider God to be the highest of the celestial kings in the human world.


The red dot, Kumkum is believed to be the seat of concealed wisdom. During meditation and during the time when we are offering prayers/yoga/tapasya, the latent energy called ‘kundalini’ raises from the base of the spine towards the head and is concentrated/gathered in the center of the forehead (between the eye brows). The red dot (Kumkum) acts as an outlet for the potent energy which is thus created. Kumkum also retains the energy in the human body and controls various levels of concentration. Kumkum thus is the central point of creation itself symbolizing good fortune, suhaagan (married women).

This is why when we are decoration God; we also put Kumkum on the forehead, between the eyebrows.

So this means, Kumkum is also meant to be worn by guys (need not necessarily be worn only by women, as is the age old practice). Unfortunately, these days Kumkum has become a fashion statement or a convenient accessory more than anything else.

Manjal/ Haldi/ Turmeric:

Apart from the antiseptic and cooling reasons, Haldi is one the five wealth’s of a married women. The first one is the Mangalsutra (Thali), Kumkum, Manjal, glass bangles and ear rings respectively. This is why it is the most important ingredient while decorating a Goddess (especially Goddess, Kaamakshi Amman who is believed to be the Goddess of sumangali).

Breaking the coconut:

Coconut trees are one of the tallest which grow in India. This means that it is closer to heaven absorbing full sun. The sweet coconut water is considered very pure as it is untouched by human hand.

Coconut water also signifies the inner purity, which can be attained only by breaking the external coarse outer fibers of the coconut (jealousy, lust, greed and all the selfish attributes of a human being). The 3 eyes of the coconut signify the two physical eyes and the third eye (the inner eye) which is the conscience. It is this third eye, when it awakens, wipes ignorance in us, enlightening us with the ultimate truth. The 3 eyes also symbolize the 3 eyes of Lord Shiva, Creation, Preservation and Destruction.

The breaking of coconut also signifies destruction of evil (the outer layer) leading to a pure soul.

Betel leaves:

Betel leaves signify the prosperity, freshness and fertility. Betel leaf given with Betel nut and lime is associated with Brahma (betel nut), Vishnu (leaf) and Shiva (lime).

The alliances are sealed with the exchange of betel leaves.

Betel Nut:

Betel nut is hard, like our ego. Offering betel Nut to God is like offering/surrendering our ego to God.

Diya…Light; this denotes knowledge. Knowledge wipes off ignorance, illuminating the inner self. This is why a lamp is lit in a Pooja room. When we bow down to God, we are also bowing down to the lamp/knowledge, the greatest form of wealth given to us by God.

When camphor is burnt, it burns itself out completely with out leaving behind any residue. God wants us to burn our illusions and wants us to be one with Him. Burning camphor signifies burning our illusions.

Pooja Ghanti:
The sound of Ghanti produces the sound of Om, the name of God. Ringing the bell also helps to wipe out all the unnecessary noise in homes/temples. This is why everyone in the temple would pay attention to God at least when Aarti (mangala Arati) is being performed.


Honey symbolizes the sweetness of love. The lord Kama carries a bow, strung with bees, representing that love can also cause pain, however sweet it is.

Well, well, well…enough for one day! Hopefully, next time you (reader) go to a temple or you are at home doing your regular Pooja, you understand better about why you are doing certain things.