The Dance of Change

Navratri, literally meaning 9 nights are the 9 nights devoted by Hindus to venerate the female principle Goddess in her many forms. Each part of India conducts this festival in their own special way. In the state of Gujrat, it is accompanied by song and dance – Garba, Dandiya and Raas.

Dancers in Garba finery

Dancers in Garba finery

 

In the Garba dance, dancers dance in circles around a perforated pot with a lamp in it . The circles suggest the cyclic nature of  life and death, and the pot, now sanctified, represents the Goddess. Unlike the dancers, Her position doesn’t change. She alone therefore is true or real, all else is an illusion.

What I find most interesting in all this the Garbi – a variation of Garba performed only by men. While Garba is a social dance, Garbi is a dance of worship. Is it not peculiar, that by tradition, women barred from participating in worship being offered to the female principle deity? What is even more striking is that Garba itself means the womb, and they say women cannot participate because their menstrual cycles make them impure.

I must add, this is also slowing changing. Change is after all what the whirling dancers depict.

 

*edited to add photo

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A Nest for the Birds

Phew!! (See notes for details on centre pieces)

Phew!!

We did our first Ikea build this weekend – a coffee table and a side table for the living room. Ikea is great for countries like the United States where labour is so expensive, but in a country like India, I think it makes very little sense. I would have to pick up boxes that I can barely lift, load them on to a trolley,maneuver it to check-out, then pick it up again and load in in my car/truck, unload it at my destination, carry it indoors and assemble it myself, all for a factory designed piece. For less effort, and the same or slightly higher, maybe even lower price I could get unique design fully customized to my requirements. Also, when I employ a carpenter to make my furniture or I buy from a local workshop, I am providing an honest means of living to skilled workers. I do understand that the conditions they work in and the wages they get are far from ideal and fair, even so I think it makes more social sense in countries like India.

Tool Kit

Tool Kit

My father taught me how to use tools, and with that he taught me something more important – not to let gender define what you can or cannot do.  The tool set on the table is something he gave me when I was much younger. I haven’t used it much, but just having it makes me feel like I can fix things if I need to.

 

Notes –

Kulfi-Ice cream on table made using  Indian Simmer‘s recipe. It doesn’t taste exactly like kulfi ( that’s why the icecream), but it is yummy. The recipe makes 32 such small cups

Wine bottle on the table from our  tasting trip to Mountain View Vineyards.

Wine bottle holder from the Sister’s trip to Australia. Notice the Marsh Crocodile motif on it.

Groton, MA – Far, Far Away from the Maddening Crowd

We spent the Labor Day long weekend in rural idyllic. Groton is around an hour away from Boston, and  a far cry from  urban spaces. We visited my mother’s old colleague and her husband there.  We drove through the leafy inner road and reached a house that was so different from the others. Aunty and Craig are both such wonderful people, it is no surprise that their house was so wonderful too. It is built in a very contemporary style – clean sharp silhouette, with big windows to let in light, air and the cats. The cats – they have 3.

Tiger Dada

Tiger Dada

Tiger- the big guy. If you want him to come to you, you got to go down on your knees and spread your arms like Shahrukh Khan. He will come close and then scoot past like a coy Bollywood  heroine. He is so skittish!!

Princess Bella

Princess Bella

Bella -the princess. She is pretty as a princess and as haughty as one too. I love how she ‘puts up’ with he adulation the Yogi showers on her.

Yogi- The Hunter

Yogi- The Hunter (picture courtesy – Ganesh Sankaran)

That brings to Yogi – the hunter. He is the youngest of the lot and the most playful. His favourite game is stalking and hunting. Mostly he’s stalking and practice pouncing on Bella, but he can also be engaged in a game with a  slipper. He will hide under the bed or table and follow the slipper sneakily from behind the cloth. When he thinks you/the slipper is not paying attention, a little paw ( sometimes two) out will dart out and grab it. He is also the only kitten I have ever known to bite in play. Yes, bite not scratch.He will let you pet him and pamper him, and the moment he senses you are looking away, you’ll feel his teeth.

A lazy canoe trip down the river

A lazy canoe trip down the river

The house is just as lovely on the outside as it is on the inside. It has a lovely firepit in the front yard, around which Craig made us a great rounds of margaritas at night. They have a small vegetable garden, 3 acres of woods, and a canoe.  We took the canoe down to the river one morning and saw something I never thought we would see in the US – a herd of cows bathing. We also saw  beautiful turtles sunning themselves.

Groton

The husband and I are convinced, this is life. We’ll have 2 boys – to chop the firewood, to  load, unload and row the canoe and shovel the driveway when it snows; 2 girls – to rake the yard, tend to the vegetable garden and fix things around the house; 2 big dogs – for security and few cats to keep the pests away.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself

It’s Leo Tolstoy’s birth anniversary today and here is a  great quote from him –

DSC_0159-001

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

I picked this picture to go with it  because of the elements of change- the colours of fall reflected in the water and the swan, symbolising the  duckling to swan transformation.