Deepawali

To many Deepawali aficionados, it’s a couple of months programme to get the fire crackers perfect. For me, getting trained under my grandfather, it took just a couple of days as all we (me, my sister and cousins) did was to fill the flower pots with phosphorus, aluminium foil, and sulphur. But the white flower pots require an empty bottom that needs clay-sealing that ought to be dried for 5-7 days. Grandfather did all the great and tedious jobs. All we did was just the filling. Then comes the fire lanterns that lit in a style if we used the glazed, thick paper that came in Soviet Union and SPAN magazines. Our neighbours who were professional at making rockets, variety of other crackers and flower pots collected these papers from us at least 3-4 months prior to the event. Rest of the crackers that included bombs were all store bought- but locally made.

These specialised neighbours used to make multi coloured fireworks which were named aubergines, rockets, onions, sparrows based on how they flew, and how they slithered or moved around!
At least in our area we celebrated this festival beyond religion and creed. People lived in thatched houses, used to water them well, so they remain safe in this process.
Gone are those days. On the name of pollution and the flummoxed political gains, and with the imports from China nothing is the same.

How long one lit the crackers depends on how well-off and lavish one is! Of course, with little socialism spread well across, almost everyone enjoys this festival irrespective of their origin or religion.
What remains the same for me is the memories. With UK law letting us celebrate this festival, we have had lovely celebrations with friends in UK, and the same in US but with some restrictions on the crackers, this has been truly festival of lights. These two countries, where ever we lived, also have given us opportunities to come together as a group to be able to extend these celebrations to our children’s schools too.

Deepawali marks the killing of Narakasura by Satyabhama, and also Ram returning to Ayodhya after killing Ravana signifying victory of good over the evil. Wishing everyone a safe, happy Deepawali/Diwali- row of lamps/lights.

Yeohaeng of our first black belt!

My son, Indi, is officially a black belt now. What else could give me more pleasure than penning (well, typing) my thoughts after a long break! With all due thanks to his instructors in two counties, I have a few friends who I need to be grateful to.

This journey into Tang Soo Do, a South Korean martial art started a while after I saw my very good friend, Helen.W, walking her two ninjas (in her sweet words) home after their Tang Soo class. I was fascinated the way they both were dressed in neat Do Bohks holding Bo-staffs. I shared that delightful sight with my family, and Bala and I felt Indi should join as the classes were in the same small, beautiful village. It took Indi at least 5 months to make a decision. But once he saw the Tang Soo Do demo for us all, there’s no stopping him.

He soon became a golden boy with medals where-ever we went that included tournaments within England to Wales to Holland, and the encouragement from the then instructors, Jeff, Mick etc., and the students of higher ranks, Karl, Tibbett’s family, Dixons is remarkable. Everyone there supported and encouraged him.

Then happened the big move for us from UK to US. All Indi asked was a similar Tang Soo Do institute, and Jeff and Mick guided us to Austin Karate Academy run by Master Mukherjee. With slight changes in his forms, he graded every time he is due, and soon was a blue belt. With India trip last year, he had to wait for one extra year to give his black belt test, and he did! In this journey, he inspired many children to try this martial art, and more importantly, he achieved which neither his mum nor dad has!

He was one of the two who scored 100% in written test, and his essay, which he wrote with his heart got a special mention from his mentor and master Mukherjee. We would like to thank all his instructors and black belts for the support, and younger belts for the warmth.

Ms Tracy has that attention to detail, Alejandro that motivation, Master Bailey, Ms Carol, Ms Carla everyone for training him.

We would love to thank Master Mukherjee for being his mentor, a master with dedication and discipline. Indi, also is teaching now, and understands what teaching is about! According to him, his journey has just begun.

8 DANS TO GO!

Now, a special thanks to all our friends who sent their best wishes to him. Vicki.W, Jo.W for constantly checking on us during the testing, and for our wonderful Eunjoo and the Lee family for celebrating his black belt even before the results were out!

Tang Soo!

Towards organic ‘cult’ivation

Once we moved to US, along with the health insurance hokums, another arduous challenge that gradually dawned onto me was to find natural food not necessarily extremely healthy food. It was tougher than I thought; it’s  ineffable to put those thoughts, especially, in the initial first year. 

I had discussions at length with a good friend of mine, who still thinks super foods is the only solution to cater to this growing population. This more so when we consider that the actual amount of agricultural land is decreasing and the consuming population is ever increasing. And, according to him, that’s how the future existence will be. Whilst I am preparing myself to not get distressed seeing posterity taking a pill of super foods for their meals, my husband dug a small portion of the limestone-rich backyard to make a fertile vegetable bed for us. The main aim is to grow organic vegetables and fruits. Land is abundant in Texas and so is the sun; a perfect recipe for cultivation!


And thus started our foray into backyard ‘organic cultivation’.

With the initial frost in the late spring that affected the corn, choosing wrong varieties of seeds for the squash has costed us this year just hard work and low-yield. But, this journey makes us, especially the kids, realise the value of food. a farmer’s true difficulties, and to invest time to not go for foppish but inculcate love for natural food. 

Lush green fields that please your eyes hiding, well-camouflaged, yet unwelcome guests: pests!

  • Mealy bugs
  • Garden snail
  • Carolina sphinx
  • Tiger crane fly

The word organic that I took for granted while I was growing up in India, and used fashionably in UK has made me very finicky about natural, organic food. Added to these, adulterated food is now coagulated into our systems beyond our measure or control. As they say, organic cultivation is the future of our agriculture. Perhaps, it is high time we should seriously consider thinking about the source of food we eat. Growing it yourself could be one way of knowing what we eat.

How are you today?

Last month a rather peculiar incident was witnessed by my son. He’d forgotten to sign-out of his system at school, and a couple of students from next period, put some inappropriate stuff on his page. His teachers found who that were, and made them apologise. So, his lesson to take home was to wrap-up properly. Thanks to his teachers, this innocuous incident was dealt with firmly, yet swiftly! But that has evoked many thoughts, innumerable instances that prompted what that would have led to if not addressed properly! What about the all vile, spiteful events that keep raising their heads very so often in and around us in the form or bullying and goes unreported or unaddressed.

Bullying, a word that should be highlighted enough to be wiped off the human-dictionary! When it comes to the choices of schools, as a parent, my first priority is for zero-tolerance towards bullying, not those schools that can make my children robots and Wikipedia. This bullying is not pertained just to schools or to younger children. Silent suffering leads into depression and mental illness. We should nip it in the bud to eradicate just as we did with small pox and polio. This thought of standing up for yourself should be sown at the embryonic stage. In this modern era, schools pay the pivotal role in this process. Pain should neither be ignored nor subdued, but dealt with properly. The cognitive brain should realise the pain has disappeared totally.

Going back to the incident at my son’s middle school, he showed me this letter written by his seniors. I’m in awe of his teachers. I’m more in awe of these students who owned the mistake. They were helped to demonstrate the true meaning of ‘apologising’. Teachers should be passionate towards the role they play in designing every kid’s life They lay the foundation for a better tomorrow. Kids who are raised with self-respect and receive support to address any pain inflicted, emerge as confident and stronger adults. In this particular instance, I’m overjoyed to see how teachers channelized these students who did a mischievous act without realizing the repercussions nor intended to hurt one child. It’s an act at the spur of the moment. There will be many that are done aiming and targeting one particular individual only because they appear vulnerable. Hence, I believe we need to weave human relations that will act as a cushion to raise a harmonious society. We need to be caring and empathetic. Schools, caretakers, and parents should act as strong anchor points. We don’t have to be perfect at everything and anything. As much as kids must be taught to accept failures, they must be taught to handle success too.

Kids who are shy, who are bullied, and who are constantly shunned, are made to believe they are born to suffer and that they aren’t lucky! Lucky or not, no one has right to bully others. Every one is equally equal. Way back in early 90’s my sister’s friends did a project on horoscopes and scientific relations. They came up with lots of predictions; one was, “you are lucky but never happy”. I could never comprehend that until I hit my adulthood. Now, when I entered the era of quadragenarian , I have realised, you may be lucky and not happy. But you can choose to be happy even if not lucky”! Self confidence and self respect are the DNA blocks for a healthy life. No one has right to hurt others. Kids must be taught the importance of social manners.

Bullying has no religion nor limited to races. We see one or two spikes when certain incidents get reported. But it’s prevalent every where.Google Wiki says, ” About one person in 5,000–15,000 dies by suicide every year (1.4% of all deaths), with a reported global rate of 10.7 per 100,000 population in 2015 (was 11.6 in 2008).” To curb this, we need human relations, every school needs counsellors, every citizen must act as soldier bringing bullying down at the bud stage. I’ve been an agony aunt for many of my friends/acquaintances. But there is no human chain that keeps this going. We get busy, we get consumed by our own desires and careers.

All we need is to do, ask anyone who is quiet or appearing disconnected or who always active or anyone we see, ” how are you today?” Every one must do their bit before bullying or other selfish motives consume us all.