Tag Archives: india

The Ritual (A Short Story)

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It was at one of the five star hotels, Marriott I think, the fancy one in Juhu. Thank heavens it wasn’t at his home.

The room was cavernous and daunting with creepy shadows all over created by the hidden lighting everyone is so crazy about nowadays. I was led there by two of my new husband’s giggly cousins. I’d have loved to smack their pretty faces but that’d have invited a ruckus. Besides, I was preoccupied. I was terrified. Terrified of doing it with someone I didn’t know anything about. What little I did could be googled on the web. But then was my lot different from other women. Examples were all around me–my mom, aunts, cousins, friends.

Maybe it was because everything had happened so fast; because I had no clue of the future; because the ghost of Rohan still clung to me like my own shadow. Because. Because. Because.

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Sugar, Shakkar and Cheeni– Did you know?

 

various types of sugar on wooden table

Sugar or sarkara शर्करा (sanskrit) or shakkar शक्कर (hindi) (gravel or ground sugar) was originally produced from sugarcane in the Indian subcontinent around 800 BC. Prior to that there was only the crude guda (sanskrit) or gud or jaggery which is the raw concentrated sugarcane juice which is very delicious and still used in India. 

The chinese learned  about sugarcane cultivation and the technology of producing sugar from India in the 600s BC.  They didn’t like the brown variety and invented cheeni or chini, what is now known in India as the refined white variety. Hence cheeni. By the way, Cheeni means Porcelain (white) not China. 

Timeline:

4000 BC- sugarcane juice extracted from Sugarcane plants. 

800BC (between 1500- 500BC) invention of crystal sugar (granulated sugar) in India

600-650 BC sugarcane and technology for production of sugar reached China. It was actually smuggled from the court of King Harsha by the Chinese ambassador during the Tang dynasty.  

300-500BC Persians and medieval Arabs discovered from India the “reeds that produce honey without bees” which was initially only used for medicinal purposes. 

1700– the spread of sugarcane cultivation and manufacture of sugar spread to West Indies and America then the rest of the world. 

As mistakenly thought among most Indians sugar is not a gift of the Chinese, it is India’s gift to the world! Proud of being Indian and ashamed I wasn’t taught this in school. 

Hence Cheeni Kum, Shakkar zyada! (reduce Cheeni, increase Shakkar). 

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

 

Women Who Inspire: Anandibai Joshi

Anandibai Joshi

Dr. Anandibai Joshi (1865-1887)

Indian women pioneered many things not just in India but also in the west becoming a source of inspiration for women and women’s movement across the world. Early in my residency and sometimes even now, I’m made to perceive that I’m not good enough to be a doctor just because I’m a woman. Once an elderly lady told me to my face that she’d prefer a male doctor to do her gynecological exam. I was stunned to comprehend the degree of prejudice women have to face particularly those in the fields of science. So when I read about Anandibai Joshi and women like her, I’m dumbfounded by their bravery and the degree of resistance they had to overcome.

Anandibai Joshi was among the first Indian women qualified to practice western medicine.

Dr. Joshi belonged to an orthodox Brahmin family of rich landlords in Kalyan. At the tender age of nine she was pressured to marry a widower, a man twenty years her senior Gopalrao Joshi. The beginning of a typical Indian story? No. Anandibai was just thirteen when she had her first child.Unfortunately the child died when he was just ten days old. She was heartbroken and angered to realize that her son would have survived if he had received proper medical care. This sparked in her the desire to study medicine and her liberal husband stood fully behind her.

Why would an Indian woman go so far away for medical school?

Because it was the best way to serve her country was the gist of Anandibai’s answer. The reason Anandibai had to look to the west is because in India, Hindu women, particularly those belonging to higher castes were not welcome in the profession.They were pushed to become midwives instead. If they insisted they could enroll in Chennai, to be taught by reluctant male instructors, and receive an incomplete training. It was easier if they converted to Christianity as they could wear a dress and that wouldn’t cause a scandal. Since Anandibai and her husband had no desire to convert, she decided to turn to the America. She applied with the assistance of Presbyterian missionaries. She enrolled and subsequently received her degree in 1886, from the Women’s Medical College in Pennsylvania. Her achievement was lauded, to the extent the dean of her school wrote about it to Queen Victoria, Empress of India. Anandibai was invited to become the physician-in-charge of the women’s department at the Albert Edward Hospital in the princely state of Kolhapur, where she also had the opportunity to instruct women medical students. Unfortunately, before she could embark triumphantly in her career, it was destroyed by the diagnosis of tuberculosis and she breathed her last in the arms of her mother, a month before her 22nd birthday.

Dr. Anandibai Joshi lived a very short life but she achieved a lot. She broke barriers not just for women but also for the Hindu community. Even now we can look to her life and gain strength and inspiration.This is a fight which will go on until we get what we want–what we deserve–equality.

 

English as She is Spoke

 

No one can forget this iconic scene from the movie Namak Halal. English is definitely a very funny language.  Check some examples below. Can you suggest some more?

Japanese hotel room: Please to bathe inside the tub.

Swiss restaurant menu: Our wines leave you nothing to hope for. 

Bangkok dry cleaners: Drop your trousers here for best results.

Paris dress shop: Dresses for street walking.

Swedish furrier: Fur coats made for ladies from their skin.

Detour sign in Kyushu, Japan: Stop. Drive sideways.

Copenhagen airline office: We take your bags and send them in all directions.

Norwegian cocktail lounge: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

Thailand notice for donkey rides: Would you like to ride on your own ass?

Paris hotel elevator: Please leave your values at the front desk.

Athens hotel: Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 am daily.

Rome Doctor’s office: Specialist in women and other diseases.

Majorcan shop entrance: English well talking.

Japanese hotel: You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

Rhodes tailor shop: Order your summer suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.

Buddhist temple, Bangkok: it is forbidden to enter a woman, even a foreigner if dressed as a man.

 

You are invited to The Wedding of The Year!

Milan- wedding invite

Yes! You are invited to the wedding of Mili Bharadwaj and Ahaan Kapoor! 

Please join me as they prepare for their life together in my 3rd book—

MILAN (A Wedding Story)

MIlan cover 1

Milan meaning in Hindi ‘a coming together’—a beautiful story of a traditional arranged marriage that transforms into a real life fairytale, set in the quaint hilltown of Coonoor in the lush Nilgiris (blue hills) in South India.

You will also learn about Hindu marriage rituals, the many colorful traditions as well as sample India’s sumptuous cuisine. Come join me as I embark on this journey. You will not be disappointed. 🙂

BUY IT TODAY ON THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Amazon.uk

Amazon.au

Amazon.ca

Spicy Snacks Beside the Sea- Juhu Beach, Mumbai

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On a pleasant December afternoon (Yes, December!) take a break from hectic metro life and wander onto the famed Juhu Beach in Mumbai, India. And there, enjoy the sight of the locals drinking  Kala Khatta (Indian blackberry juice, spiced with black salt, lemon juice and pepper and eat spicy Bhel (puffed rice, vegges spiced with tangy tamarind juice) or if you are brave enough sample it yourself. 🙂

The Hilltown of Coonoor, one of India’s Hidden Gems

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Whenever I travel back to my homeland, I prepare for a culture shock. The crowds, the noise, the pollution have all increased several fold as the country races forward at breakneck speed to catch up with the rest of the world. But I’ve come here to relive some beautiful memories, to catch up from where I left off–I’ve come to reconnect with the past. How do I do that and where?

There are some places left in the country where it seems that life still goes on as it did a few decades ago, where people are laid back, where nature is not at war with mankind–

COONOOR– is one such place. It is located in the Nilgiri Hills, about 56 kms from the Coimbatore Airport, in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. It is part way from its more well known cousin Ooty which I will advice you to avoid if you can.

Known for its tea plantations, Coonoor is a lovely, rustic little town, which with its abundance of greenery and quaint architecture, is a throw back to India as it used to be. The temperate climate and serene environment helps the restless soul to relax and take a few breaths of peace.

There are several wonderful places to stay in this place. I recommend the Gateway Hotel on Church Road, — a historic hotel which is a wonderful blend of colonial charm and modern amenities and yes, the food is great! 🙂

When you are there, don’t forget to take a ride on the Nilgiris meter gauge train, as well as a personalized tour of the tea estates.