Tag Archives: india

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)

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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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Niligiri express1

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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.

An Incurable Insanity Chap 2: Compromise

Inconvenient relations C

Chapter Links

2: Compromise

She had lain awake all night, quite unable to digest the shock. Was this really happening to her, Ruhi Sharma, for whom receiv- ing love notes from potential suitors had become as routine and sundry as brushing teeth? Could a man really reject her? It was hard to absorb.

The following morning, Shaan found her sitting in the same position he had left her in the night before. Feeling sorry, he made an offer, “You can opt out right now. I expect you would want to do so. Don’t worry. I will take care of everything.”

Turning to him, with an unusually serene expression in her tired eyes, she said, “No, that is not an option. I can’t be the cause of distress to my parents. I’m willing to carry on with this charade, that is, if it’s all right with you.”

Shaan wasn’t just disappointed, he was taken aback. This was highly unexpected. It was meant to be only a small complication, but now all his plans would turn awry.

He had clearly informed his father about his ongoing affair, but Shiv Ahuja, being who he was, had dismissed it. “Ohh! So you are playing around with a white woman? Well, that happens, my son, and it doesn’t matter.”

“But it matters to me, Dad. I love her!” “And does she love you?” “I think so. Yes, I’m pretty sure about it,” he’d replied, albeit a little doubtfully.

“Then is she willing to marry you and be my bahu?”

Looking down embarrassed, he said, “She can’t, she’s already married. It’s…it’s complicated.”

“So that is the case.” Shiv beamed. “And here I was straining my brains wondering why our son hadn’t hooked up with a girl yet.”

It goes without saying that the youngest Ahuja was by no means lacking in looks. He was unusually handsome, of good build, and above average height who liked to maintain an athletic physique with regular exercise. But despite being inundated with innumerable suitable matches, each willing to part with unbelievable amounts in dowry, he had steadfastly declined. In fact, he had even refused to pay a visit to his hometown until now. His hand finally being forced by the news of his dadaji’s terminal ill- ness, whose final wish was to see his youngest grandson married and settled in life.

But what Shaan lacked in moral makeup, he made up for by his integrity. “I don’t want to live under false pretenses. I do not want to be instrumental in ruining an innocent life!”

“Then are you willing to let Papaji go to his deathbed with his final wish unfulfilled? Do you want the shadow of his regret to cloud the rest of our family’s future?”

Shaan wasn’t too pleased, but his father was leaving him with no real options.

“Just get married to this nice girl, bid farewell to your Dadaji, then you can do whatever you wish. Get a divorce or, if you are a real man, carry on at both ends, neither party need know!” Shiv had winked conspiratorially while giving him a sound thump on his back.

His son wasn’t surprised. For a long time, he had suspected that his father ran more than one household, and his long-suffering mother probably knew about it but was too tired to fight. He went through with the farce, and no one raised a finger.

Fortunately for Shaan, it appeared that his grandfather had been holding on to his last breath for this particular event before he gave up and was declared free from this world.

Therefore, undoubtedly the extent of his alarm was immeasurable when Ruhi refused his offer of an amicable separation. He was flummoxed!

Why did he have to carry on living a pained existence with this girl till she made up her mind to set him free? She was being unreasonable.

“But, but I can’t—”

“Carry out the duties of a normal husband?” she asked without hesitation.

Shaan looked surprised. “Yes.”

“I don’t expect you to, especially after what you told me last night. But can we maybe give us a chance?” There was a clear and desperate note of plea in her voice.

Not exactly enjoying the exchange, he retorted, “No, that’s impossible. I was forced into this.” It came out sounding brutal, but he couldn’t take it back.

“But I wasn’t. What about me? Where is my fault in all this?” Why was he being made to feel guilty?

“Well, that was the reason for my offer. We can end this now, and you will be free to start a new life again.” He looked eagerly at her; this was the opportune time to get his way.

She laughed. “That’s easy for you to say. You are a man! But in this society, a woman rejected after marriage is like a pariah. All the men who at one time used to flock around me would not even consider looking at me again.” Smiling wryly, she continued, “Besides, what about my parents, their dreams? What about all that my father had to go through to get the best possible match for his only daughter?”

Shaan closed his eyes…He hadn’t realized, but things were much more complicated than he had imagined.

Then she said in a much calmer tone, “I request you to think it over because this doesn’t affect just the two of us, it does a lot of others—those whom I love and care for above and beyond myself. Perhaps if we give it a month or two we could develop differences? I could tell my father that I can’t stay with you, that we don’t get along, and he’d understand. It won’t be as harsh, and you would be free to do as you please.” Looking at her, he wondered. Did she really mean what she said?

“It’s just a request.”

tbc

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.