Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Stained Silk Kerchief


Update for week/month ended 30 March 2012

 

Chinxua returned to the pillaged village. She was tired and so were the women in the family. Di Hong had surveyed the village home and factory before Chinxua’s return to ensure that it was safe for the return. The house entrance door was smashed open. The lacquer polished red chest was broken. All the valuables plundered. And Chinxua wondered. Were these signs of the new times – she had heard that the Red Army was bein formed who had the concerns of the people in mind – but if this was their initiation into concerning for the people – then she did not want the Reds. For Chinxua, reds symbolised everything nice in her Pearl River Village existence – the red Hong Bao silk envelopes that contained valuable gifts during the New Year of the Moon. Red was the colour of the dress that her mother wore on an anniversary dinner hosted at home with exquisite handpainted motifs of flowers and gardens. She looked like a Diva – and her well travelled father had even hinted that she looked like the aristocratic ladies of fashionable Shanghai. This made her mother blush – a deep scarlet pink. Red was the favourite colour of her favourite painter – Ni Bao. His brush strokes were strongest when he used the red paint. His style of painting was also something that had attracted Chinxua to Ni Bao – he would use swift strokes to paint and then pause with the paint brush held between his thin lips and usually crowned with a frown. At times, he chewed at the bamboo holder and his cheeks would get stained with the paint. Chinxua thought he was attractive when he was at work.  And then she pulled out her silk handkerchief which was a gift that she treasured. Ni Bao had carelessly left his paint brush on it, once when he was painting a sunset specially for Chinxua. The flaming red and yellow sun -‘s rays were streaked over this silk handkerchief. And now Chinxua was standing in her ancestral home – which was shattered and she had the tainted kerchief in hand. She walked about the house like a lost person as she could not recognise her own home. The Altar for the Anscestors was desecrated – and there was a wicker basket thrown about carelessly in the room. She walked across and lifted the basket and she shed copious tears as she crouched low to carefully pick up the Jade Buddha – he looked calm- with his eyes closed and a curl of a smile appearing on his lips. He was intact. And that was when she heard the sound of stomping boots in the compound, and she quickly wrapped the Buddha in her kerchief – silently thanking her ancestors at protecting the family deity.

The past 2 weeks at D Street were also quite red. The D Boyz had returned after their journey in the Green Valleys – and they saw the red of the angry government that had been beaten back by the highest court in the country on a Tax issue. They saw the red of the Red Tapes that were holding back reforms – both in terms of lesser subsidies in rail budgets and lack of policy direction everywhere else; they were seeing Red in the paan (chewing betel leaf) stains of the goons becoming Minister of Prisons; and they were seeing Red in possible additional taxes…… and all of this saw their Favourite SENSEX dip into redder and redder territory – dropping several notches to even sub 17000 levels – until the last working day of March saw some turn in tides as it bucked up and leveled at 17404 (down 99 points from 2 weeks ago)

Chinxua walked up to the door and into the courtyard to see a man in uniform casually walking about near the gate. His face was turned towards to the sun, and from where she stood, she could only see the silhouetted figure. His gait reminded her of someone she had known. he walked towards her and expecting to see a reddish coloured uniform, she was surprised to  see that the colour was a pale greyish green and of ordinary design. The stylish Chinese Looped button was replaced with mother of pearl buttons through buttonholes. And then he stood just a few feet away from. Chinxua’s gaze turned into astonishment and her doe-eyes opened wide. Her jaw dropped and she was about to move, when at the gate she heard Di Hong call out to her – “Chinxua, let us go”, he said. . The man in front of her did not move, except turn his head sideways such that he could now see both Chinxua and Di Hong. Di Hong moved in fast and grabbed Chinxua’s hand, and dragged her out of her house. The man just kept looking at her intently as Chinxua turned back to maintain her gaze with this familiar face. No! She could not believe it – how could the artist who loved his freedom of expressions and everything else turn into an oppressive servant of the army? She must have been dreaming – it was like a nightmare – was this indeed Ni Bao?

So here we return after a long time – like the story of Chinxua, Ni Bao and Di Hong. I earnestly look forward to your comments on surprising moments – and wish you all a great weekend ahead.

Have Nice Weekend – Cheers…..

p.s. To read / cross refer to the Chinxua, Ni Bao, Di Hong stories – refer to

Red Firecracker Green Firecracker

The Guests from the Emperor’s Court

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Fasting started today as many Hindus start their Navaratra Festival.

Making Sense of the SENSEX - Blog

Update for week ended 8 April 2011

Monday was the start of the lunar cycle year for many Hindus. This marks the beginning of the Chaitra/Chitra/Chithira month and a very auspicious day. It is also the day, when many retailers await hordes of shoppers to throng their stores and augur a good beginning to the year. This is also the starting date of the Nine Day (or literally Night) Festival ,Navaratra or Navaratri which should not be confused with a similar named Festival held in October or November – though in concept is quite similar. To differentiate between the two Navaratras, some prefixes are added, the most common being – Vasant Navaratra to denote the Spring Nine Night Festival and Sharada Navaratri – the Autumn Nine Night Festival. Interestingly, both these homonym festivals are dedicated to the same two though unrelated Gods from the Indian Pantheon – the…

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Brides in Red and Green


Update for week ended 9 March 2012

As the gaggle of girls rushed into the room where Sowmya was dressing up, she turned around as she turned the screw on her golden earrings. Her head was cocked in an angle, and little droplets ringing her upside down umbrella shaped earring (the kodai-kadakan) tinkling with the head-turn. She was all dressed in her maroon nine yards of Kanjeevaram Silk. The jewellery on her head was the typical Tanjore style gold band that went along her hairline on the forehead and secured to her earring. There was also a central band that extended along the middle parting of the hair down till her forehead, while the star and moon jewels adorned either side of the partition. She could almost have looke dlike those nymph-like classical dancers if not for her sari. Amrita would soon be ushered into the the wedding madapam, wedding altar, for the ceremonies. Not very far away was Kuldip who was wearing red salwar suit, a Punjabi tunic worn over flared drawstring pants of the same colour. The sequins on the dress were shimmering, as was the gold on fair and frail Kuldip. She was slipping the dozens of bangles onto her wrists – some red  interspersed with lots of red bangles. Her bua, maternal aunt, was supervising the dress-up, and when Kuldip complained that there were far too many bangles to wear and getting troublesome, Bua said, “beta, in our days these bangles were made of ivory and shellac, so much more heavier to carry”. And finally she also had to wear the golden solid bracelet to which were to be string the gold coins. And then in walked her to be mother-in-law with the red “chunari” the red scarf – which would be adorned over Simran’s head before she would walk out for the ceremonies. Papiya was looking forward to this day, when she would be pampered. Her Mashima, maternal aunt, was applying the Alta – the liquid scarlet paint, on her feet. Papiya had held her palms out to dry, which also had the red alta pattern. Her red sari was being contrasted by the shola pith garland she wore around her neck, and also wore the Shola pith tiara crown adorning her forehead. Shola was a softwood plant commonly found in the riverine deltas. The large red bindi on her forehead was striking and complemented her perfectly lined kohl coloured eyes, and the arches of the red and white dots above her eyebrows. Her wrists were adorned with the Pola bangles – the white alternating the reds, matching her sari. Papiya looked like the perfect Bodhu – Bengali Bride. Mukta meanwhile was struggling the nose ring – it was not the simple one, but resembled a brooch and was refusing to stay in place on her nose because of the weight of the pearls that were strung into it. Her yellow Paithani sari was shimmering in the Spring morn, and this was again a nine-yarder like that of Sowmya. However Mukta unlike the other brides was dressed in multiple colours and had little red – no red bangles for her. Here the green Banarasi Shalu (a shawl like brocade silk) was to be draped over shoulders, complementnig the shining golden mango yellow sari with its thin violet border. Her mother walked in with the tray of bangles. She asked Mukta to first slip in the gold bangles and then add at least a dozen on more of the green glass bangles. Mukta looked up clumsily as the nosering slipped out of place, and she preferred to try the easier to wear bangles than continue her little struggle with the Nathni!

The week was red for the initial three days of the week for the D Boyz. The wedding season was in full swing, but punctuated by the spring festival of colours on Thursday. So the week that painted the SENSEX red for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday then turned into a riot of multicolours on Thursday before being adorned with a thick shawl like Green on Friday and jingling like the green bangles. So  the D Boyz lost some, regained some to take their red, red, red, multi colour and green week to end down at 17503 – down 133 points from last week.

The Nadaswaram (southern trumpet played at temples and weddings), the shehnai (the nadaswaram’s northern counterpart), the shonkh (conch shell) all played out when the demure brides emerged from their dressing rooms to take their pride of place at the centre of the wedding altar. Their gaze slightly downwards not always because of their shyness, but at times to watch out for wrinkled carpets that could trip, or a vagrant cable of the Video walla and at times because of the weight of the gold jewels on the head and necks….

Which wedding are you attending this week? ….

Cheers

Play at Parks


 Update for week ended 2 March 2012

Now children’s play parks are quite difficult to find in our large cities…… at least the semi urban and rural areas have open fields and house compounds that give opportunities for children to play – not to say that the rural kids play out more than city kids, but at least they have the parks…. So once in a while, it is heartening to see some effort being put by the city fathers in beautifying the dirt patches by barricading the area, getting fresh top soil, some landscaping and some pathway maintenance…

and then the colourful plastic moulded play-activities – like the omnipresent slide – sometimes a simple straight one or a curvy one. I remember as a kid, I grew up in Central Mumbai where there are the famous Five Gardens and one of the gardens was dedicated to the tots to play – and they had quite an interesting slide – which had 2 metal rockets pointing heavenwards – as though waiting for Sriharikota to start the countdown….. and connected half way at the top with a swinging bridge (almost like the jungle wire bridges like the famous one at Rishikesh). And kids would use the spiral stairs on one end to climb up, emerge at the half way point, then hop their way across, swaying the wire bridge and heading to the spiral slide on the next rocket….. the only danger here was that the entire contraption was made of steel or iron and the slide was covered in shining steel plates that had been riveted together….. weather, elements and naughty and frisky children ensured that the rivets unfastened at places and the steel joints opened up or rusted, posing risky cuts to the kids. So that prompted me to either be careful or even avoid it.

The other common item in these parks is the joyous, but usually broken see saw – which one usually does not see because it exists as a memory of the past – is that why it is called a saw (past tense…)?

And also the famous triangular pyramidical open swings …… which let the kids to go swinging up and down and back and up and down and up…….. and if someone happened to pass through the crowded park at that time, one was at risk of either being banged up by a backing swing or kicked out by the dusty toes of the swinging kids….

Life at D Street is at times also like the rare-to-find children’s parks with its share of slides, swings, seesaws….. and the D Boyz at time reluctantly have to endure it. So if Monday was a slide down of 400 points , then Tuesday was a climb up the stairway… and Wednesday and Thursday were like see saws – one day up while the other down, until the D Boyz took to swinging on Friday to kick some dust and point their toes upwards….. but given the red top soil found in Mumbai ….the D Boyz clothes had lots of red dust – and some cuts from gaping steel plates on slides….. ending the SENSEX down by 287 points at 17636.

But the playground that really amused me as a kid in the Bombay of yore was one on the way to one of its beaches …. The garden had a cement replica of an aeroplane and kids could use a modified gangway to climb aboard and pretend that they were going on a flight…… quite exhilarating for boys like me, as we did not quite fancy living in a large boot or a shoe found at another garden overlooking another beach in the city. Now what is with gardens near beaches…… why these unusual play areas? Any of you have the answers?

Have a nice weekend and try and share with me your Children’s park stories from yoru cities …. Even from Bombay….

Cheers