Tag Archives: Hindi

Musafir : Darwaze

Gateway to the Taj Mahal

A corridor in Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri

Balcony, Humayun’s Tomb,Delhi

Smiles

 

Darwaze, khidkiyaan, jharokhe, verandey

Kitni khoobsurat 

Hain ye imaartein

Inhe dekho

Suno

Samjho

Socho

Jano

Kuch keh rahi hain ye

Tumse

Rough translation: (Doors, windows, details, so beautiful, are these buildings, look at them, listen, understand, think, learn, they are speaking to you)

What can I say, but I’m fascinated and inspired by buildings, and people around buildings. That’s why I’m a musafir. Kindly excuse me for my very poor Urdu and Hindi poetry skills.

Glossary:

Darwaza: Urdu for door; Khidki: Hindi for window; Jharokha: An overhanging enclosed balcony used in Rajasthani architecture; Khoobsurat: Urdu for beautiful; Imaarat: Urdu for building; Dekho: Hindi for look; Suno: Hindi for listen; Socho: Hindi for think; Jano: Hindi for learn

 

Roti, Sabzi aur Raita! (Bread, Vegetable and Yoghurt!)

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Sabzi  (Hindi) or Vegetable is a vital component of any NORTH INDIAN meal (lunch or dinner)

Any combination of vegetables (in this instance: Steamed potatoes, Tomatoes, Bell Pepper, Spinach, Corn) are stir fried in oil spiced with cumin, turmeric, paprika and salt.

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Roti/Chapati is Indian style bread made from unleavened stone ground whole wheat flour or atta is a NORTH INDIAN staple.

Served with cooling Raita or lightly spiced yogurt.

Inconvenient Relations Chap 1: Disillusion

Inconvenient relations C

Chapter links

1: DISILLUSION

Ruhi Sharma was a blushing bride, practically a newlywed, locked up in this glittering cage for almost a month, twenty-nine days to be exact; an object of envy of all her friends and family.

Twenty-nine days ago, she had signed her name beside his on the marriage certificate. She had gone through all the miscellaneous ceremonies associated with the typical grand Indian wedding—the engagement, the Mehendi, the Sangeet, the Haldi, and the grand finale (her father had spared no expense) until finally her betrothed had staked his claim by placing the Sindoor on her forehead and tying the Mangalsutra around her neck, and she had quietly and blissfully followed him around the sacred fire carefully listening to and reciting the Saath Pheras in her mind.

She was the very beautiful and accomplished daughter of Amrit and Devyani Sharma, the apple of their eye, and they had left no stone unturned in raising her the best way they possibly could.

Friends and family were surprised for not only had Ruhi been provided with a very good education, she held an MBA from a leading institution, but her parents had also made sure that she was adept in all other various skills, which a well-bred traditional Indian girl is desired to be proficient in. Therefore, nobody marveled when marriage proposals came pouring in from all directions.

But the Sharmas were choosy; they wanted only the best for their golden child, and they did get it, or so they surmised.

The idea of giving their daughter’s hand in marriage to the well-accomplished son of the most well-known family in Chandigarh was beyond their wildest imagination. It was wilder because they hadn’t gone in search of it, rather it had come and landed on their lap.

Shaan, the youngest and most eligible of the Ahuja clan, was twenty-seven, a fresh aerospace masters grad from a premier engineering institute located in the Los Angeles county of United States, California, who had already bagged a plum job in a leading aeronautics and space exploration company in sunny LA.

“My son makes interplanetary spacecraft. He’s the man of the future” had become the proud and frequent rant of Mr. Shiv Ahuja, who for some odd reason seemed to be trying to paint his son in the most rosy of tones even though he really didn’t need to, for as soon as Ruhi saw her future husband’s likeness, she lost her heart, and there was no question of a retrieval.

~~0~~

“Chai?”

“Huh? Yes please with just a pinch of sugar. Thanks!” He took the cup from her hands, careful not to touch her fingers.

Ruhi closed her eyes; she could now repeat every movement, every word by rote. He was a creature of habit…and she was bored.

What was supposed to be the most exciting time in every young woman’s life had turned out to be the worst…Well, not really. He wasn’t mean. rather he was the perfect gentleman, too perfect!

Oh how she wished he would rather be screaming mean and nasty. At least that would bring some excitement into her not- so-happening life! She laughed, pausing as she brushed her long black hair, rather hysterically.

The bombshell had dropped on their wedding night.

He had walked into the room late as she sat there, a shy bride in all her wedding finery waiting, nervous yet excited at the same time, to meet the man she had hardly spoken to or looked at. What would he say, talk about, or do?

She had heard a lot of stories about what to expect, some factual and some fabricated (her friends had prepared her well), but she wanted her own to be special, unique, and it was…

Sitting down on the bed in front of her, he had taken her hand in his and said very gently, as if to tone down the trauma, “I bet you are one of the most beautiful brides in the world, but I’m sorry I cannot make love to you. There is someone else.”

Not sure if she’d heard right, Ruhi had watched puzzled as he lay down on the mattress and turned his back to her. Is that it? A plain and blunt dismissal of her dreams, her life? Was that all?

tbc

Glossary:

Mangalsutra: Sacred thread that a married woman wears around her neck.

Mehendi, Sangeet, Haldi: Traditional marriage rituals conducted during a North Indian Hindu marriage ceremony. During the Mehendi ceremony, henna is applied to the bride’s hands to strengthen the bond of love in the mar- riage. During the Sangeet or music ceremony, the families of the bride and groom celebrate the upcoming wedding with music and dance. During the Haldi or turmeric ceremony, turmeric is applied to the bride and groom in their respective homes as part of the cleansing and beautification process.

Saat Phera: Seven sacred vows taken during a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony by the bride and groom.

Sindoor: Red vermillion powder worn by married women along the parting of their hair.

The Bashful Bride – Innocence Unveiled in ‘Inconvenient Relations’

the shy bride

The Bashful Bride

`

She sits on the rose strewn bed

A bashful bride

In all her jeweled splendor

Hennaed hands resting on drawn up knees

Innocent and uninitiated

Awaiting the approach of her beloved

`

The bombshell had dropped on their wedding night. He had walked into the room late as she sat there, a shy bride in all her wedding finery waiting, nervous yet excited at the same time, to meet the man she had hardly spoken to or looked at. What would he say, talk about, or do?

She had heard a lot of stories about what to expect, some factual and some fabricated (her friends had prepared her well), but she wanted her own to be special, unique, and it was…

Sitting down on the bed in front of her, he had taken her hand in his and said very gently, as if to tone down the trauma, “I bet you are one of the most beautiful brides in the world, but I’m sorry I cannot make love to you. There is someone else.”- An Incurable Insanity

Solah Shringar

The 16 basic steps of bridal adornment which correspond to the 16 phases of the moon. Shringar is derived from the word Shri or Lakshmi; the Goddess of wealth, beauty and prosperity. The wedding day is considered the most significant in a woman’s life- one which marks her transition into womanhood.

1. Gajra (string of Jasmine flowers): Hair is styled and adorned with the fragrant Gajra and jewelry.

2. Maang-teeka: generally made of gold, silver and precious stones, Maang teeka is worn in the central parting of hair.

3. Sindoor: is the vermilion powder that is worn in the center parting of hair. A symbol of marriage, it is placed for the first time by the groom during the marriage ritual.

4. Bindi or tilak: A red vermilion dot worn in the center of the forehead.

5. Kajal or Kohl: Black eyeliner to enhance the bride’s beautiful eyes traditionally made from the soot of an earthen lamp with the wick placed in clarified butter.

6. Nath or Nose ring: By far the most ethnic and traditional of Indian looks.

7. Elaborate jeweled earrings: whose weight is supported by a chain affixed to the hair.

8. Necklace: Of different lengths and styles adorn the neck. The most sacred is the mangalsootra, given by the groom during the wedding ceremony made of black beads.

9. Armlets: Worn on both upper arms.

10. Bangles and bracelets: Made of glass, gold, silver and precious gems are the most visible sign of marriage.

11. Mehndi or Henna: Applied to the hands and feet in intricate design is meant to strengthen the bond of love.

12. Rings and Hathphool (Flower of the hand): A bride wears 4 rings on each hand which are connected together by a central medallion called the Hathphool, which in turn is connected to a bracelet.

13. Aarsi or mirrored thumb ring: The bride wears this so to be able to glance at herself and take a peek at her husband as well through the cover of her veil. 😉

14. Waistband or Kamarband: A beautifully designed silver or gold belt encrusted with precious and semi precious gems which serves a dual purpose- enhancing the waist besides holding up the weight of the heavy sari or skirt.

15. Anklets or Payal: A chain of silver edged with clusters of tiny bells worn around both ankles that make a pleasant tinkling sound when the bride moves.

16. Toe ring: Usually worn on the second toe of either or both feet are  symbols of marriage.

The Bridal dress: This can be a sari or a ghagra choli (traditional skirt and blouse) and is usually red in color because red is considered auspicious. It is richly embroidered in gold which ensures ceremonial purity.

traditional-toe-rings

BUY LINKS

India Unveiled- Mughal India: Tomb of Salim Chishti

Salim Chisti TombIntricate Jali – Stone latticework window overlooking the Jama Masjid courtyard.

About 25 miles from Agra is the city of Fatehpur Sikri (Hindi: फ़तेहपुर सीकरी, Urdu: فتحپور سیکری‎), founded by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, which also served as his capital from 1571-1585. Here he proceeded to build a grand walled city which today is one of the best preserved collections of Mughal Architecture in India.

The Tomb of the Sufi saint Salim Chishti (descendant of Khwaja Mouniddin Chishti of Ajmer) built inside the imperial complex is particularly mesmerizing. Facing south toward the Buland Darwaza, the shrine is enclosed by delicately carved Jalis– marble stone screens and topped by a single semicircular dome.

Jama Masjid courtyard

Jama Masjid courtyard

The atmosphere of the place is beautifully exemplified in this haunting melody from the movie Garam Hawa (Hot Winds), 1973.

Indian Cuisine: Favorite Bread – Paratha

Paratha

Wholesome breakfast: Fresh pan fried whole wheat bread (Paratha), seasonal fruit, fresh homemade yogurt.

`

Paratha [par-AA- THA] Hindi पराठा is one of the most popular types of unleavened flat breads in Punjabi North Indian Cuisine and Pakistan.

Prepared from pan frying whole wheat dough which usually has ghee (clarified butter) or cooking oil in it, parathas are often stuffed with vegetables such as mashed boiled potatoes or aloo, cauliflower (gobhi), radish (mooli), other vegetables and or paneer (fresh Indian cheese).

Parathas, particularly the stuffed ones, are simply eaten with pickles, chutneys and or yogurt on the side and make for a wholesome meal at any time of the day.

Simple Pleasures

TongaThe Tonga (Horse drawn carriage) as seen on the streets of Agra, India

Simple Pleasures

—o—

I reminisce with immense fondness

 Memories of homeland shores

When life was unadulterated

And goals within reach

Such as…

Walking barefoot on the sand

Gorging cotton candy at the fair

Screaming hoarse along with the radio

And yes, the occasional pleasure ride around town

~

Tonga or Tangaतांगा Hindi meaning Hansom or Horse carriage

Indian Cuisine – A Vegetarian Barbecue.

No discussion on India would be complete without mentioning its food which is as rich and colorful as its residents. And I am not kidding when I say that travelling from one region to another will not only introduce you to different languages and dialects but also to markedly varied cuisines.

And of course, spices are essential in our cuisine. The spice trade which began during the ancient civilizations was considered to be the trigger for the ‘Age of Discovery’ during which Europe began exploring for new routes to the East Indies.

I still have very fond memories of my Grandma’s kitchen where food used to be prepared the way it should be—from scratch. It was labor intensive but also a lot of fun. I know because I used to help. Water was drawn from the well in the yard, spices were ground in ancient stone grinders, so was flour for bread, batter for idlis (steamed rice cakes), dosas (crepes made from rice and lentil batter) and chutneys (fine and coarse sauces made from fruits, or vegetables and spices.) And when the food was being cooked, the aroma would fill the entire neighborhood. My favorite was the one of rasam (a light and spicy south Indian lentil soup.) It still is.

Now I would like to share with you some of my personal favorites.

I begin with a special Indian Vegetarian Barbecue which I had the privilege of indulging in last time I was in India. I wish to thank my wonderful cousin and her husband for this experience. We were in Khandala (a hill station near Mumbai,) in a private resort bungalow with our very own personal chef and this is what we were served on our first night there. YUM!!

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Thick pieces of Paneer (fresh Indian cheese) marinated in spices,  tomatoes, onions, green bell peppers, cilantro and mint chutney.

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Mounted on skewers and slow cooked over charcoal.

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Finished product served with vegetable biryani (basmati rice cooked with veggies and spices)!

Milan (A Wedding Story) Chap 2: Ahaan

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Chap 1B

Chap 2: Ahaan

—o—

“You aren’t ready yet? Ahaan and his mother should be here in no time.” Kiran said, her voice brimming with anxiety, upon entering her daughter’s room and finding her there, standing at the window looking out, still in her blue jeans and T, while the grey and pink silk sari that she was supposed to wear, lay neatly folded on the bed.

“I don’t want to exhibit myself, especially when I already know what my decision is going to be.” Mili retorted, her gaze rooted on the antics of a couple of  squirrels on the branches of a Cyprus tree.

“And we shall respect it.” Her mother replied, quietly coming up to stand behind her. She continued, a stern note creeping into her soft voice, “Your father and I do not want to force you into anything against your will. Your happiness is our prime concern. Yet at the same time I expect you to behave like the well bred young lady you are; with dignity and poise. We are proud that you are our daughter and we want to continue to hold our heads high.”

`

A sudden bout of rigors seized Mili as she made her way slowly with the tea service, to the large open patio, where the family liked to receive their honored guests. The brick path was still wet from a light drizzle earlier that day, but the skies had cleared, giving way to brilliant evening sunshine, which made everything in sight look fresh, clean and vibrant.

It took Mili all her will to prevent herself from tripping over the edge of her sari. Her mother’s reassuring presence behind her helped but did not do much to allay her agitation. A sudden hush fell as everybody’s attention shifted onto her, while she directed hers on the wicker table. After setting the tray down without mishap, she concentrated on pouring out the tea and was thankful when Kiran came to her rescue and handed out the cups.

“Your daughter is the epitome of grace and beauty and this tea is the best I’ve ever tasted.” A feminine voice rang out approvingly.

“Thank you. You are very kind Mrs. Sharma. Mili  has prepared it herself and it is the product of our own estate!” Her father Jai, remarked with pride.

I didn’t make it Papaji. It was Ramu kaka! Perhaps he should be the one that Mrs. Sharma should take home. Mili thought, almost bursting out into a hysterical giggle, while her eyes traced the outlines of the bricks in the pavement. She couldn’t bring herself to look up and face Ahaan. She just couldn’t.

The conversation floated unheard around and above her head. He was there, his curious eyes upon her, wearing a pair of shiny brown leather shoes and crisp khaki trousers, sitting beside his mother, who was dressed in an elegant cream colored suit. She felt her face burn as she recalled their many not so friendly interactions. Indeed, their parting had been on less than amicable terms. She hadn’t even wished him good bye. Then why did he agree to see me? Is this some kind of a sham? I’m sure it is…she thought, working herself  up into a frenzy, twisting the tassels of her sari around her fingers.

So lost was she, that when her mother tapped her on the shoulder, she nearly jumped out of her skin. “Beta? Why are you so quiet?”

“Youngsters prefer not to talk in front of us.” Mrs. Sharma suggested.

Kiran smiled in agreement. Then looked pointedly at her daughter. “Perhaps you can show Ahaan around our garden which has found a new life under your tender care?”

Mili frowned irritably…her parents appeared to be reeling off lies at a rapid pace today…but she didn’t rush to correct her mother. Instead, she jumped to her feet and marched rapidly away, crushing the sweet smelling grass underfoot, not waiting to see if Ahaan was following behind.

Apparently he did. For moments after she settled down on a low stone boundary wall, the only dry spot she could find; she found him there right beside her.

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The Indian Way- Everyday Etiquette: Bhai Sahib and Behenji

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A street side stall where a vendor sells Soan papdi or Soanpapri which is a popular South Asian sweet with a crisp and flaky texture.

—o—

“Kaise diye bhai sahib?” What is the asking price, brother?

“Bees rupiah kilo behenji.” 20 rupees/kilo sister.

A conversation very similar to the above, modified to fit the situation and scripted in various regional languages, can be overheard if one happens to wander inside any store, or pass by a street shop  on any given day in India.

I am not talking about the skyrocketing prices of fresh fruit and vegetables (that’s another topic altogether,) but of the way two strangers address each other.

The housewife who is trying to find the best deal she can as she goes around the market, addresses the vendor as ‘Bhai sahib’ [Bhaee-saab]. Hindi: भाई साहिब  Bhai – Brother, Sahib- term of respect.

She uses this term even though he bears no relationship to her.

Similarly the tradesman or vendor responds with the term ‘Behen ji’ [Bahen-jee] Hindi: बहन जी Behen – Sister, Ji – gender neutral term of respect.

Indians use these terms often during the course of a typical day while doing business with strangers; such as while buying groceries, haggling over the price of fruits and vegetables, dealing with the milkman, or hailing a taxi or an auto rickshaw.

It is a means of establishing a temporary bond or kinship which places the conversation on a congenial and non-confrontational platform.

So on your next trip to India, these two terms should come in very handy.