Post 26: The Jagannath Triad.

A month back I was searching for beach destinations in India and while reading about Puri in Odisha I came across the Jagannath Triad . All Indian deities are so colourful and these three siblings top them all. I had to get them down on paper with my bright acrylics. So here is The Jagannath Triad on a page of my art journal. Someday I might paint them on a huge canvas for my home. IMG_20180418_124111.jpg

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Post 25: Acrylics on Oils

Finally this painting got off the easel and went on a wall after 6 months of being pushed here and there.

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Acrylic on Canvas 24″X 36″

The reason for the delay was its size , I was overwhelmed with this project and didn’t know how to start and how to go ahead with the layering, when to use the palette knife and how to make the grass etc. I had started this painting with oils and then layered it with acrylics. This is believed to be a wrong approach among artists but still i went ahead. My each step was frustrating and I thought I had made a mistake by choosing a huge canvas but then slowly as the layers kept on adding I started to enjoy it.

Here are few photos of the process.

 

Post 24: If a Man can wear a Pad…..

Last week I had gone to watch PadMan. I am very particular about spending  three hours specially when I have many things to juggle. So I had decided to give Padmavat a skip for Pad Man.  I am so glad that I went for it.

I admire  Twinkle Khanna for both her beauty and brains. I appreciate her initiative of making a movie out of the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham. I hope we keep on making such movies which enlightens our minds and brightens our society. But is this movie really for us.  We ( I mean the ladies) all use pad I suppose and our husbands picks our pad when required and we don’t even get it wrapped in two three layer of papers and a black polythene. We all have it in our purses and periods is not a taboo for us.

I would have found this movie to be a classic of 1950s like ‘Achoot Kanya‘ ,completely irrelevant for us , if I had not happened to  give a short visit to a place which gave me the real picture of our society.

I had been on a short stay at a place when my periods started , and right from that moment I was outcast!  I was not allowed to enter kitchen and  was not allowed to touch even the Almirah and someone had to bring my clothes for me. I was totally freaked out as never in my life I had imagined this in today’s India. On top of that the most hilarious part was that  it was left upto my husband if he would allow me to sleep in the bedroom. I had almost laughed as I knew it was a matter of few days for me before I was out of this ( no not my periods, but that place). I didn’t even feel pity for the other women because I saw they enjoyed these rituals . They took it as a challenge and the rules were increased to increase the challenge level I think. Or whatever it was !

I had tried to derive some logic out of this act , I concluded that not allowing one to enter the kitchen meant that that woman has to just relax the whole day. But soon I realized that no , the first day of the periods were reserved for washing clothes of the family. Infact they used to dump clothes in their so called laundry bags so that once in a month the woman can spend almost 4 hours washing bedsheet, bed covers, clothes etc of the entire family. The remaining hours the woman is supposed to chop vegetables ( outside the kitchen) and grind chutney.

Now after this , Pad man was a must watch for me and I understood each and every part of it.

However after watching the movie I regret to have not taken my Kam Wali’s family along. Oh believe me it would have been so much satisfying then. But immediately after the movie I made up my mind of having a word with my Kaam Wali and My cook. Next day spoke to my cook and I was happy to find that she already uses a pad. Next I spoke to my Kaam wali who said she was thinking that atleast she can buy for her daughter. Now I shall buy her a packet so that she can get the feel of it and then I will have to assure that she and her daughter will use it instead of cloth.

Infact Twinkle Khanna should have encouraged the world to make their kaamwalis take this challenge and come out and face the society and hold a pad in their hand.

After this movie I challenge you to speak to your kaam wali/ any helper and get her to start using pads. I would have taken a photo of my kaamwali with a pad and posted it on social media but then its ok , we can do this silently also. If a man like Arunachalam can wear a pad, we atleast can help him spread the awareness.

Do leave your valuable comments/experiences/anecdotes if you have any regarding this so called taboo.

 

Post 23: Koi Fish

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Acrylics on Canvas (8″X10″)

Post 22: POST MAN

While surfing through pinterest I came across this species of butterfly called “Post Man” . I loved the color combination and though of giving it a try with acrylics.

So here is my next painting . I am still hopeless with the color mixing and coverage. It dries while you take your own time to think of the combinations.

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Acrylics on textured Canvas 12″ X 18″

POST 21: Let your daughters be yours forever!

Few days back my parents informed me that they are to perform Kanyadaan rites for the daughter of a distant relative whose wife is no more. To inform you the basic criterion for Kanyadaan is that a ‘couple’ has to perform it.

 Such delegations have been passed on in the family many times. My aunt had also got opportunities to perform Kanyadaan twice. She feels that she is lucky as performing Kanyadaan is a ‘Punya ka kaam‘ (auspicious act). She was so overwhelmed that she thanked God for the opportunity and took a pledge that after the performance they will quit one of their bad habits and so they quit smoking. Yes, my uncle quit active smoking and my aunt passive smoking. They took a similar pledge in the second Kanyadaan too of which I am not aware of. But yes as she has two sons she feels a sense of pride to have got the opportunity.

My parents would also be feeling the same next month however their intensity of pride will be a bit less as they already have two daughters for daan. Now I see a golden opportunity here. Keeping in mind their cholesterol level I can encourage them to give up fatty food after the Kanyadaan . This I could have done after my marriage if I had not declared my Kanyadaan null and void.

By now I have realized that I have totally deviated from the main topic.

In 1800s few good men came to the rescue of women and abolished barbaric rituals like Sati and introduced Widow Remarriage Act. This completely changed the world of women but some rituals are still lurking in our society which look harmless but have a very wide impact all over the country. I am talking about Kanyadaan.

To many, this won’t sound disagreeable practice at all. For me to realize its negative effects all I had to do was to translate it into English.

On translating it means donating or gifting your daughter and to see the effect of this translation on others I picked up the closest specimen and asked him, “Can you donate your daughter when required?” which made him jump in shock and scream something which I don’t remember.

People donate many things, some donate a particular percentage of their salary, some donate clothes , some donate organs after death , some donate food and some  people wait for Makar Sankranti to donate because by doing so the effect of donation increases manifold. Some people, like me , prepare a list and go for shopping and ask at the grocery shop for the cheapest quality rice , because it doesn’t matter , as Makar Sanktranti has the power of converting the effect of cheap rice to Basmati Rice.

Again I have realized I have deviated from the topic.

Among living things we donate cows and sometimes goat. Some chosen ones even get the opportunity to donate their maiden girl. Once a ‘thing’ is donated you have no control over it.  It is not yours.

Now this particular criteria of a donation has somehow manage to create a thought in the human mind that the girl is a liability and someone else’s property.   Now, who would desire a girl child ?

I remember my husband holding our new born daughter in his arms and innocently say, “How would I ever marry her off”. With the other family members getting emotional I had a face palm moment.

All I want to say is time is changing , daughters are being given a share in parents property. Then why are they not allowed  to share the responsibility of parents. Why  are people  hesitant in approaching their daughter after marriage ?  Why are they estranged after marriage?

Why donate off your daughters?  Let your daughters be yours forever!

Post 20- Art Journal Entry #1

Posting my first art journal entry. It is white lotuses in Acrylics om white textured paper.

I have promised myself that I will not imitate any painting from this year inwards. I will be making originals either from a photograph or from my imagination. This will help me unlock my style of painting.

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Hope to update more entries soon.

Post 19: New Year, New Project

This is the right time to take out your diary and start scribbling the new year resolutions. I would have also been doing the same had I not consulted the family palmist – my mother. Running her fingers on my palm, once again she repeated those words, ‘Pity pity pity…. what lines …. only if you stop thinking much and start working a bit. ‘

 

So  in order to prepare a To-Do list  I dug into my bundle of old unused stuff. I found a sealed notebook which I purchased in 2016 in hope to convert it into a journal. I had read somewhere that keeping a journal helps you harness your creativity. Actually you get lot of similar life hacks if you randomly google whenever you get time resulting in the crisscross lines like those are on my palm.

The first thing in my list is to learn acrylic painting.  I wanted to pen it down but a different idea struck me. What if I convert this notebook into an art journal and  start practicing acrylics on it! If any things goes wrong and I am not satisfied with the painting, I can easily tear off the paper and start a fresh one and keep experimenting till I get my hands on acrylics. It’s better to have a spoilt paper than a spoilt canvas. Also I will end up having an Art Journal by the year end.

Next I bought a “Camlin Texture White” to coat the pages so that they don’t absorb acrylics and provide a good surface for painting. I already have few ideas to paint and along with that I have selected some 15 pictures from the December issue of Outlook Traveller .

 

So this New Year my New Project will be “Art Journaling” or say Art Diary . 

Hope you guys enjoy this new project along with me !!! I will update my Journal entries asap.

 

Post 18: Jaipur – An Extended Family Tour (Part –II)

My husband always tells me that I am lucky to have hobbies. He feels that atleast I have something to escape from the monotonous life and get lost for few hours in the world that I love. Now this was the perfect time to act. Without giving a second thought I handed him the rough draft I had written about Jaipur Part-II and said go lock your self in a room and finish it!  By acting on time I got him engaged for an hour and somehow escaped the long tedious conversation he was telling me he had had with his boss that day.

(Now at this point let me tell you that my husband plays a major role in editing most of my posts. It makes him feel important. )

Any way so here is the remaining Jaipur Trip written by my husband.

Day-3: Amer and Albert Hall Museum.

Daily we devoted one and half hour to breakfast. The variety and the taste of assortments was very good. From butter toast to puri sabji , from chola-Bhatoora to paratha, from corn flakes and muffins to idli ,vada, dosa upma ,poha, and from boiled egg omelette & egg  fry to juices ,tea and coffee, everything was at our disposal and we made sure nothing goes untasted.

After loading ourselves with more than a heavier breakfast we headed to Amer. I had heard that Amer hosts an amazing light and Sound show in the evening But we decided to give it a miss as it was not feasible to wait that late in night. We hired cabs. The drivers preferred to take a shortcut and took us through the small gulleys showing us the unseen pictures of Jaipur which was not at all good. The roads were filled with stinking garbage with pigs rolling over it. The sight remained the same till we came out to main road near Jal Mahal.

Amer is real far from the city and it took us an hour to reach there. This was my second visit to Amer, but still I don’t have any majestic detail to share here. All I could remember was that while the whole family was leisurely learning about the details of Deevane khaas-Deevane aam, I was dealing with my toddler’s tantrums and trying to find the exact thing she wanted to eat. I am sharing here one crazy carving that my brother in law found on a pillar. It has many animals. See how many u can find out?

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We saw two huge kadhai at the exit. These were made for the movie Jodha Akbar and were left behind after the shoot .

We also went to the contemporary art gallery-” ArtChill” established near the exit gate where the work of India’s top artist was on display.  I spent 30 minutes there and was quite lost in it. The work ranged from 3D work to nature, modern art, big strokes-small strokes oil painting etc. Photography were prohibited. Out of curiosity, I inquired for quote of one of the paintings by Subrata Gangopadhyaya and found out that it was costlier than our life time savings.

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We had Lunch at Handi a very popular place for eating “Laal Mans”. For detailed review you can visit Zomato- our own source of choosing the restaurants.

Indian food is not at all photogenic like the other worldwide cuisines but believe me the mutton was amazing.

We had no plans for evening as Amer visit was very tiring. But seeing some energy left in gentry, we proposed to go out to either Albert Hall museum or Birla Temple. Only God knows why we chose to visit the museum to see that  Egyptian mummy and the artillery . The museum had nothing but the pottery work and various trays at the ground floor and some stuff on the Second floor too. Lesson learnt – whenever to choose between museum and temple always choose temple. (At this point I had warned my husband not to touch this paragraph or else you would have been reading the details of the weapons at the museum right now)

Day -4: Pushkar and Ajmer

Pushkar was indeed well planned. Not by us but by parents. Dad had researched that  Pushkar is actually the holiest pilgrim place in India where one can give offering to  ancestors. He had plans to perform ritual there which he had not shared with us.

Jaipur to Pushkar was three hours drive. Pushkar has huge cultural and religious relevance. It is famous for the Bhramaji Temple. We were welcomed by the sight of colorful camel carts and typical Rajasthan local dressed up people.

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We visited the temple where my husband and father performed the Pooja. It turned out to be “Amavasya” which is highly auspicious for worshiping the ancestors.

 

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Panditji and the inquisitive family

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Cow asking for her share

After the Pooja we ate lunch and then it was the time for shopping. The local market was full of small one shutter shops but the stuff was cheaper than Jaipur. While I picked elephants and dolls for my friends, others got bagful of things. Since our priorities were different, we couldn’t spend much time there. But my advice to fellow traveler is that Pushkar is the place where you can do the best shopping of Rajasthan. From Blue Pottery to Rajasthani Quilt, Hand bags to Lehenga Choli, Rajasthani Pagdi to all the possiblities that a true shopper can explore .

 

Ajmer was 40 minutes  from Pushkar. I was very apprehensive about the trip partly because few friends of mine had alerted me that the road to “Dargah” was filled with butcher shops and the sight could be highly inappropriate for us. But nothing  of that sort happened. The road to Dargah was clear from any such thing. Later I came to know the pathway that they were talking leads to “Dhai din ka Jhopda”, another historic place that we didn’t visit.

Our friend had given us contact details of a person who guided us to the Dargah. These guides are called ‘Banda‘. Dargah was beautifully lit up and the smell of itra (perfume) was all around.The road leading to the dargah was another intersting place for shoppers. Don’t forget to buy the very famous ‘Sohan Halwa’ from Ajmer which is available almost everywhere and it is very delicious.

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Sohan Halwa (PC: http://www.traveldglobe.com)

We got chadars and rose petals for offering and entered the main dargah. It was crowded yet manageable. Our banda took us in and  offered prayers for us. The whole atmosphere was so peaceful and soothing.

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Finally I got to see what I had come here for, Yes! the Live Qawwali. Verese sung for the praise of Khwaza Garibnawaz.  I had never heard live Qawwali before. The voice was heavenly, I closed my eyes and found myself lost in the sweet sound of rhythmic clapping. My hand came together to clap in unison, but I was stopped by people. Perhaps the clapping by others disturbs the singer’s rhythm. I came back to my senses when my daughter came to me and said that she wanted to play uncle’s piano (She had never seen a harmonium before) . She took money from us and very happily offered to the harmonium player.

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Then my mother started to remind us that we should leave before it gets too late. Our ‘banda’ asked us to have Prasad which was actually non-veg . We politely declined the offer as we were still under the effect of Pushkar and the word non-veg prashad sounded like a taboo. Now when I think about it I regret it because I don’t know what tastes better- the Lucknow Biryani or Ajmeri Biryani.

At exit gate we saw two big vessel. In one people were offering various things; fruits, grains, rice, money, etc. In other something was cooking. We were told  that in one vessel they collect offering from people and in second food is cooked for whosoever want to eat in dargah same like the “Langar” in Gurudwara.

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Day-5: Shopping and departure

Parent’s train was in afternoon. We had only one place left in our diary which we had not visited, it was “Rawat Kachori ” and it was very close to railway station. So we headed to the place and ordered Pyaj kachori ,Mewa kachori and Choorma. Everything were very delicious but very heavy to digest.

 

We set our parents off and while coming back we stopped at Lassiwala of MI Road and had Lassi . It was yummy and  it gave good competition to Chaudhuri Lassiwala of Amritsar. Since I had forgotten the taste, I asked my husband to arrange another trip to Amritsar and I am not kidding here.

The itch for shopping was still left in us and we decided to visit the Bapu Market again. There we went on a did three hours shopping marathon.

Finally the trip came to an end and it was time to say bye bye to Jaipur. We all had a big smile on our face and my toddler had another place imbibed on her mental map .

Epilogue:

Every evening/night, we used to gather in one room and chat for hours. We skipped our dinner few times due to the late afternoon ghee rich Lunch. We ate peanuts, snacks, fruits together and talked till late in the night. It was quite fun to sit in one room leisurely and just talk.

It was a leisure trip; every step was taken to make sure that the stay and journey must be as comfortable as possible . Nobody was allowed to have tea/coffee in the hotel (except in breakfast which was complimentary). It is against the ideals of my husband, he never approves sipping a 100 Rs tea of Hotels which essentially has nothing in it. My whole family is a tea lover and to resist their temptation and quench their thirst, my husband would take a flask, visit the nearest tea stall, ensure the ratio of all necessary ingredients and bring hot tea for us. My father accompanied him, it strengthen their bonding too,  I used to find them sharing Rajnigandha from the same packet throughout the trip . Anyway, it was so nice to sip that rajasthani Chai. It always added flavors in our late night conversation.

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The Real Chai Shaukeen 

Reviews of Handi: https://www.zomato.com/jaipur/handi-restaurant-mi-road

Hotel Souvenir Peppermint: https://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g304555-d2064904-Reviews-Peppermint_Hotel-Jaipur_Jaipur_District_Rajasthan.html

Post 17: Jaipur – An Extended Family Tour (Part –I)

I always carry a book whenever I travel; sometime it is just to add the extra 250gm in my hand bag. This time I had picked up, “My Family and Other Animals” but then considering it a bad idea (chuckle) I dropped it and continued with “ Eat Pray Love “ instead.  We, a total of 9 people (1 toddler, 4 young and 4 not so young), were off to Jaipur for 4 days .

For me this was my second visit, the last one was our honeymoon, a very memorable one indeed.  Usually in honeymoons the boy is lost in the eyes of the new bride but in our case my groom was lost in the details of the forts, maharajas and their artillery . We always had a guide standing sandwiched between us explaining the intricacies of the architecture, and there used to be a twinkle in the eyes of my husband and I couldn’t yawn enough.

Now, you must be wondering why I went to Jaipur again. In short this was a long awaited family tour and Kerela worked out to be costly. So we settled for Jaipur.  Also this trip was an experiment on how different people with different tastes survive together for 4 days. If this experiment succeeds we have other tours in mind.

We had not just planned the travel but had also set strategies.  Our best strategy was to keep one day tour to Pushkar and Ajmer. Always remember no matter where you go with your  parents/in-laws and no matter how well you have planned there will always be this question,” Aren’t there any temples here?”.  My mother still has fond memories of the Mangeshkar Temple in Goa.

Day-1: Chokhi Dhaani

We all reached our destination on time by different trains. We headed to the Hotel. We had booked a decent hotel ‘Souvenir Peppermint” somewhere near BaniPark.

In the evening we decided to take every one to Chokhi dhaani . Doing this on the very first day would give them a brief glimpse of almost everything- food, dance, language , culture etc. In my previous visit we had covered it on the last day and by then we had lost interest in the rich food.

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We covered almost every thing in Chokhi Dhani – Puppet show, dance, magic show, Bajre / Makke ki Roti with makkhan jaggery and chutney, games, recreated Haldi Ghati scene, camel ride, horse cart ride, paani puri concluded by Jeeman i.e the food. Everyone was elated on  being called ‘seth’ and ‘sethani’ by the Chokhi Dhaani boys.

 

 

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Amma serving Bajre Ki roti with Lehsun Chutney

If you go there do have the khichdi with loads of ghee and sugar.I had stopped them from pouring the ghee and sugar powder but upon being insisted I tried it and it was amazing. They are very generous with Ghee and they believe it is ‘ Bhudape Ki Lathi’ (support in the old age) . I had to remind my parents their  Cholesterol level and who actually was their ‘ Bhudape Ki Lathi’ .

It was an amazing experience and every one was happy.

Day 2: City Palace – Jantar Manatar- Hawa Mahal and Shopping

Second day after the scrumptious buffet breakfast at the hotel we went to City Palace. We were wise enough to take all the photographs – single, group, selfies etc. well on time before our energy level and the makeup wore out.  The rest of the tour was the bitter sweet recap of our honeymoon. The difference was that this time I was not yawning but running after my toddler outside the palace.

After 15 minutes of toddler hyperactivity and group inactivity I went in to find the whole gang glued in front of the displayed dress of Sawai Madho Singh –I. His pajama had drawn all the attention as this Maharaja was 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide weighing 250 Kgs.

The whole group was fascinated.

Immediately after city palace we took a right turn to cover Jantar Mantar. One of my friends had suggested reading about Jantar Mantar beforehand to save time but I was too busy reading food blogs that I forgot this part. The visit would have been better if I had followed that advice.  While the gang spent extra time reading about each astronomical instruments I and my daughter sat down at one place and enjoyed watching the lovely foreigners in Indian dresses.

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View of Amer from Jantar Mantar

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Then before covering Hawa Mahal we thought of giving our legs a bit of rest and went for lunch. The biggest mistake we did was asking the e-rickshaw wala where to eat.He took us to the restaurant which was The Best- ” Venus restaurant”. The moment we enter there was a stench and the food is not worth mentioning here. The learning we got, while traveling never ever ask the auto or rickshaw wala where to shop or eat, they have their own commissions.

Then we took an auto to Hawa mahal . It is photogenic place. In todays world this much is enough to be told , after all our priority these days is to get perfect photos for facebook and whatsapp dps.

 

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View of City Palace and Jantar Mantar from Hawa Mahal

In the evening we got a bit late for shopping as the market here closes at 9. So we were not able to grab much.

We asked at a local shop about some good restaurant at Bapu Market and he without giving a second thought said ‘Ganesh restaurant’- perfect for home like food. Everyone was hungry so we headed toward this place. I was bewildered to find this place, the entrance was a steep narrow stairways leading to an open air half constructed roof with few steel tables and chairs.  I didn’t speak for the next 15 minutes and kept a tight grip on my toddler as the roof din’t have railings!!!

The food came. You wont believe that it was so delicious that all my anger just vanished.

We had ordered: Laccha Paratha , Butter Roti, Missi Roti , Sev-Tamatar (Local Dish) , Daal Tadka . It costed us 800/- for 8 people!!!!!!

If you guys are shopping in Bapu Market then don’t hesitate to have food in such weird small dhabas placed at every  other roof of the shops, as you wont regret the food.

(To be Contd…)

 

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