Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Europe and more..

I wake up to a gloomy overcast sky, and realize, OMG, I have just changed time zones, I look at the time, expecting it to be ridiculously early. Unfortunately it shows an embarrassing mid noon time...which rules out the possibility of that extra snooze I had planned in my mind.
On Mein Gott!!!.....
I look out of the window, and I see lovely mustard and orange autumn trees forming a picture perfect scenery flanking the red roofed buildings. Sure I miss India, but this aint bad either.
Oh breakfast, the jams, cheese, the muesli, the yogurt.......it sure is a buffet.
Shopping has always been one of my sad weaknesses, and Europe is not helping, stuff here being expensive and well...new to my rather unindulged senses. Even from the supermarkets, my Hubby has to eventually has to drag me out kicking and screaming.
Food...I know I already mentioned it. If there is one thing I have a crazy irresistible weakness for, its cheese. So one week of pizza and pastas (always with extra cheese) and I knew......how much more I could have of it. Only prayers could save me from an inevitable burst in seams.

okay...so that was my first week in Germany, full of extreme tamas and rajas.
And how here I am in Hamburg, at the Art of Living centre, to my surprise I find that utter sattva (life) can exist here as well. Session with YES plus teacher Saleel bhaiya cooking with Sarah (another brilliant and sweet Iranian Yes plus teacher) and lots of brilliant Sadhana, and I cant even remember my first week in Germany. Somehow in love and sattva, the same things that you do feel so much more new and Intense.

So actually today is exactly one week in this new country. So bis spater und tchus!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thiruvannamalai




I've actually been saving up writing about this place until I know enough to do justice to a place like this. 

I have almost been here for a month now, and even now I fail to come up with a single adjective to describe it. Nor do I want to go overboard by using mere words that anyway sound shallow. 


Pilgrims from all over the world flock to this place, one of the Panchamahabootha sthalas, Thiruvannamalai is the 'agni lingam', which represents the 'fire' element.


Ever since my parents settled here 3 months ago, I always wanted to come here on the full moon, and do the famous 'Girivalam,' a 14 km trek around the mountain, the main attraction of this place. 


As luck would have it, I came here to recover from my illness, and doing the trek was out of the question, so here I am, being ruthlessly, utterly pampered by my parents, eating awesome food and soaking in some awesome culture (Ha! that got you jealous)


The first thing I saw as I entered this idyllic temple town, was a majestic mountain that overshadowed everything else here. This was the sacred 'Aruna shivalinga mountain', meaning the whole mountain itself here was worshipped as the shivalinga. In the coming days as I recovered, I realized that the temple here is just the symbolic aspect to the city itself, and its actually the city of Thiruvannamalai which is the actual temple, the mountain, the linga. 


This city is scattered with ashrams, where masters like Ramana maharishi, Yogi Ram Surat Kumar and Sheshadari Swamigal meditated and attained enlightenment. 


The main temple, the 'Arulmigu Arunachaleshwar koil' , with the presiding deity of Shiva and Parvathi as Annamalaiyar and Unnamulaiamman is more than a 1000 years old. Throughout the temple one can feel the fire element emanating from its space having a strange cleansing effect, especially when you enter the inner shrine. 


The town itself of course is a brilliant tourist hub, especially in the Ramanashram side of the town, which is majorly popular among foreigners, the city feels like a cross between the colorful Goa and spiritual Varanasi. So you can meditate every evening and then head for delicious wood fire baked pizzas.


So this whole month has been an extended holiday. I don't know how long I am going to be here, but I could sure get used to waking up to the birds and peacocks (okay, by the time I wake up, they are gone, but I swear I hear them in my dreams) , a view with the majestic mountains and wood fire baked pizzas (not yet tried them, but they sound delicious). And I for once am in no great hurry to recover!!!!!




Thursday, September 9, 2010

some more randomness

Since I have been consistently inconsistent at updating my blog, and equally inconsistent at coming up with new topics and subjects that could revive my otherwise dying blog, I've decided to ramble random stuff, which may or may not (more likely) make sense.
And hopefully that might just be enough to resuscitate my blog!!

Right now I am in this beautiful temple town of Thiruvannamalai, on a long holiday, recovering from an illness. There are a few things I have realised this past month of roller coaster life.
 That -
Sometimes somethings just don't work out, maybe its not meant to be, maybe you've just gotta wait.....only time can tell.

Sometimes you need a break....and there's nothing wrong with that.

When you need help, speak up, especially to people who are the closest to you.


sorry, didn't mean to descend into an advice giving mode. But life does come a full circle sometimes, and you need relearn many things that you forget on the way......there I go again.

But for me, the past 3 months has been journey in relearning a lot of thing I used to know, and going back to being a lot of things I used to be. In a way I am rediscovering my identity, In a way I know it was never lost and In a way I realise that this does not stop here. All my epiphanies some day will be rendered void and senseless, as I keep rediscovering myself, and unfolding layers.
I continue to build sand castles, which I know would come tumbling right down one day.
But each time, I build a stronger and better one.....and who knows, maybe one day it will be strong enough to withstand every Stormy weather. Till then I just keep building.


 

Monday, June 14, 2010

What a wonder!

Ashtavakra Gita is profound but little known knowledge given to King Janaka 7000 years ago by sage Ashtavakra. This discourse is being given by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shanker in Bangalore Art of living Centre

Its 7 30 pm, and for the past almost one month, Guruji's Ashtavakra discourse has been raining on my mind, this time, every evening. The yagnashala fills up, the satsang starts. He walks in unassumingly. Closes his eyes and slips into meditation. You don't know when the songs stop.
But suddenly there is silence. A poetry of Ashtavakra is read by a lady in an intense pure poetic Hindi, ending with 'Aashcharya hai, aashcharya hai' (what a wonder, what a wonder).

And then he starts. Sometimes its with a slokas, sometimes its with a random question through which he leads into the depth of profound knowledge, filled with funny anecdotes, Mullah Nasiruddin stories (audience's favorites) and witty punchline in a near flawless Hindi.
Amazingly that day's knowledge feels as though its exactly what you've experienced, and filters through you on an existential level.

The night closes sometimes the knowledge echoes in your mind, but more often, you're just blank. Probably as blank as king Janaka in bliss and wonderment through the very presence of Ashtavakra.

Well if you're not fortunate enough to be a part of this phenomenon, the discourse will be available in DVD's soon (highly edited form though), also very cool tweets are sent by Bau every day.




Saturday, May 15, 2010

Avatar.... and Mugu mugu


no, not the movie....but my blog

With so many changes renewing my life again and again,
its only fair that I renew this blog.

so..(drumroll).....Ta da!

Here's the new Avatar of AFOMFT (A few of my favourite things)

And I have to admit I pretty much like it, there is always scope of improvement
(like everything else in life) but I guess if the basic are in place, the details
can be taken care of (again like everything else in life)

I have written on a variety of topics, but it wouldn't hurt to get some suggestions on what you would like read on this blog. Could be anything from Guru stories (I have quiet a few to share) to recipes (an area where I am yet to establish my competency) to Guitar notes (Yes! I play guitar)

And oh...I have to ex press my inexpressible indebtedness to Mugu-mugu (thanks to Reema for the name) my almost new- Macbook (well getting married has its advantages).

So just like a gourmet chef in his kitchen, I with my Mugu mugu plan to whip out batches of delectable stories, articles and random musings... and all stuff that makes its into my list of AFOMFT and then some which don't.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guru n Stuff n Stories



yeah.....
Things like guru and spirituality seemed more like brain washing and escapism. I was so totally NOT the guru type. Just the mention of someone with long robes and beard...and I headed
10 miles in the opposite direction.

Then one day something touched me. Like never before.
Tears poured out. Like never before.
Tears of gratitude, tears of bliss, tears of love.

I still told myself, I am so not the Guru kind. And I will NOT get 'brain washed'.
But something unexplainable pulled me in his direction.
The way just one smile would make you forget all your problems
The way one glance would transform your life
the way one sign would rearrange the universe, making it just a playground for you

So effortlessly, so easily, so innocently, so mischievously, so lovingly creating deep knowledge to crazy confusion to intense emotions to explosive frustrations just for you to go through it all.

At times you feel being on this 'path' is so much more painful (so why be here in the first place)
then you feel like the luckiest creature on earth coz he looked at you (even if he was really looking at the 'elephant' behind(then the elephant is the luckiest creature))

And then all you are left with is a bunch of random sentences trying so hard to be a story.
And yet there is a story in every word. A Guru story.
When he looked
when he smiled
when he waved
when he laughed
when he pointed
when he paused

When he exists.
On the eve of his B'day I have nothing to say. OMG I am soooooo Brainwashed.
And if being brainwashed is so much love and joy...I wish every person gets his 'brains' washed.




Thursday, April 15, 2010

Being a teacher

You sit there,
with bright hopeful eyes looking at you.
Hoping for a fresh direction, a meaning new.
You sit there
wondering if you could ever be
all that you need to be
And then in moments things flow,
and you are lost in a chaotic whirlwind of
conversations high and low.
And then in a moment its over
leaving you empty and hollow
those very hopeful eyes
that once looked for hope outside
are now closed wide
And when they open,
its all so calm, so light

You sit there
there is no other place
you'd rather be
and no other sight
you'd rather see.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Karadaiya Nombu



Me in madisaar


I thought valentine's day was the most romantic day for couples. And being the eternal romantic that I am, I found this, beats everything!

March 14th (not feb)



I was dressed in red, there was candle light (okay, oil lamp), flowers (jasmine) and gourmet food (Kara and vella adai)


And I said


"Urugada Vennaiyum oradaiyum naan tharuven - orukaalum en kanavar ennai piriyadirukkanum"

I offer you (divine) butter and the rice made out of kaara arisi so bless me for my Husband's long life



Ever since I have gotten married, the pooja room has gained a special significance. And every month brings with a festival with deep meaning and relevance.

this particular festival (Nombu) called Karadayan Nombu especially important to married women.

Wearing Madisaar, I lit the Kuthu Valuku (traditional lamp) and tied the sacred thread.


The story goes that Savithri was the daughter of king Aswapathi who ruled Madradesha. She was married to Sathyavan, son of another king, according to her wish. Despite Naradha’s warning that Sathyavan would die within a year of marriage, Savithri married him. But as a devout wife, she started worshipping Goddess Gowri to protect her mangalyam, - that is, to change the fate and give her husband a long life. On the first day of Panguni, the following year, fate snatched away Sathyavan suddenly. When Yama appeared to take away the life of Sathyavan, Savithri did not give up easily. She argued with Yama, and regained the life of her spouse and lived happily ever after.


On this day, two special dishes are made and offered to the Lord. One is a salt savoury signifying Lord Siva and the other one is a sweet signifying Goddess Shakti.(Karadais and vella adais are specially made for the occasion with rice flour,jaggery and Kaaramani - a red coloured dry beans). The adais are then placed on the plantain leaves along with 'Vennai' (butter). Here is my Mother-in-law's recipe!



Kara and vella adai



Karadai


Kara Mani - red coloured beans- 1 cup steamed

salt, soaked rice (half hour), grated coconut


Dry fry till they are rice red colour, cool, powder the rice, season it with mustard, urad dal, chili, coriander leaf, aseofoteda

and boil it with water add grated coconut 1 cup. add overnight soaked Karamani. Add rice flour once it stars boiling, stir for ten minutes and keep aside when it gets a thick upma like texture. steam it in idly stand for 15 minutes


Velladai


jaggery 1 1/2 cup,

equal water

karamani half cup

boil water, pinch cardamom,

grated coconut 1 cup

1 spoon ghee


In boiling water add jaggery, when Jaggery melts add rice powder.stir till it gets a thick upma like texture

Steam both (kara and vella adai) in the cooker for 15-20 mins simultaneously.



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The spider, the cobra and the elephant

Gopurum The of Srikalahasti Temple


Okay, I like totally agree with the fact that I did go into a period of dormancy, a time where no matter how hard I tried, and how many hours I spend (which I must confess that I didn't) I couldn't whip out anything even halfway publishable (I have high standards)

But now I feel this new surge of freshness and energy, and I guess I could be pretty much back in form. But then that can only be judged at the end of this post.

So as much as my Husband Kaushik would like to hear that this renewed freshness is due to his return from Germany, after more than two months......there is more to it.

The reason is our trip to Srikalahasti Temple. Our agenda at the temple was to perform the famous 'Rahu-Ketu' puja to pacify the planets. The temple is situated in a picturesque village about 20 Km from Tirupati.

It is one of the
panchabhoota sthalam - representing five basic elements. This is the Vayu Sthalam among the Pancha Bootha Sthalams representing Air. The others are - Tiruvannamalai (Thejo sthalam - Fire) Kanchipuram (Prithvi sthalam - Earth) Tiruvanaikaval (Appu sthalam - Water) Chidambaram (Akasa sthalam - Space).

Legend has it that Lord Shiva disguised as
Vayu (Air) observed that The Spider (SRI), Cobra (KALA) and Elephant (HASTI) worshipped Him very devotedly. So Lord Shiva made them to relieve from the curse and attain salvation, hence this place is called Srikalahasti.

We left from Tirupati at 6 am, where Krishna (my brother) joined us from Chennai, and as a cool party of four (including husband and mother in law) we boarded the bus to the temple. The temple seemed to be drenched in a divine energy that was so calming and refreshing. The hot weather was assuaged by the cool interiors of the temple which had more than a hundred pillars.

By the time we left Kalahasti, the sun was blazing so we hurried back to Tirupati wondering why the spider, cobra and the elephant were cursed in the first place.


Kaushik and Krishna at hotel Sarvana Bhavan