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Showing posts from August, 2013

Uthamna

Attended a friend's father's uthamna. This is like wake and usually happens three days after a person's demise. It is called Uthhala, Besna or Chautha in Hindi. The family gets together at a hall/auditorium. Relatives, friends and business associates come and pay their condolence to the family. In Mumbai, they get professional singers to sing Bhajan/ soulful songs/hymns. The late person's photo is kept facing the audience. Incense sticks are burning and some flowers are kept around. The bhajan singers and musicians sit on a stage. The close family sits on white plastic chairs with their backs to the stage. The visitors sit in the audience. The timings are usually 4-6pm. The visitors come in and sit. The Bhajans/ religious hymns are being sung. They sit for two or four songs and leave. While leaving they fold their hands in Namaskar to the entire family. The entire family does Namaskar to the guests who are leaving. All this communication is without any words. The fami…

Kitchen tales from Jharia

When I was young, soaps were not used to wash vessels. Coal and wood fire cooked our food. The ash from this fire was used to scrub dishes. Most eco-friendly options, India has. Now we get eco-friendly non polluting soaps abroad. But any soap or detergent is full of chemicals and bad for the soil and rivers and seas , that our drainage flows into. I remember the 'chulha' being lit in the morning by Mom or Aunt as soon as they woke up.  There was an art to filling the chulha with wood and coal and little kerosene.  We had two chulhas of medium size and a big one when we had guests. I mean to cook the food. The chulha was made of iron and coated with mud to keep it a little cool on the outside. The fire was on top and the ash fell down. We used only one matchstick to light a piece of old paper and that was put on the coal which ignited fast due to the kerosene. Or we soaked a piece of wood in kerosene and put in under the coal. The fire caught in about twenty minutes. We could …

Touchy Topics

The radio ads are so suggestive. When I am travelling in the car with the driver, it is actually embarrassing to listen to the kind of content which is being spewed.

The festive season has come starting with Raksha Bandhan next week, followed by Janmashtmi, Ganpati and we are on a roll. The shops do not have the festive stuff or the festive look. The Giri Puja Store sales person said that people shop for Ganpati in the last five days. In other words, "Kindly do not be so enthusiastic and come so early asking for stuff which is still in shipment". Me thinking of planning and getting things in advance to avoid the festival rush is not a good idea. I do last minute stuff only for my personal things and the school projects. Those are things where all laziness creeps in.
Am amazed at the number of vacations people are taking. Long weekend and short weekend, train and road travel, Tashkent and Thane, people are moving all the time. I have become one of those Bombayites who think …

Cab Drivers

My cab ride on Independence Day was quite interesting. The cab driver made the first connect when he praised my angry young one by saying she is very intelligent. He got more brownie points when he said that girls are intelligent. His daughter in in the seventh grade in the village and scored 75%. Now I was totally game for all that he had to share.

He explained to me that there are three types of cab drivers in Mumbai. The first category owns a house in Mumbai or its distant suburbs. He will never drive anyone else's cab. He owns a cab, drives short distances, doesn't take the pot holed roads and is very concerned about no damage coming to the cab. He has bought a Santro cab on loan, paid Rs.40,000 and pays an EMI of Rs.6000. The annual maintenance of the cab costs him around Rs 6000. He doesn't make much money but is proud to own his vehicle and does business of Rs.20000-22000 per month. He has his family commitments which are more important.
The second category is from…

The Z bridge at Matunga

I walk on the Z bridge in Matunga to travel from western to the central part of Matunga. People in this area are very particular about which part of Matunga they belong to. I am not sure if this is Mumbai specific. But I do hear friends in New York always specifying the area they live in. I have no clue about what is a better area or how far is it from Manhattan, but things get measured like that. Matunga road or the Western Matunga was called Matunga BB earlier. It was a cloth mill area and an area for the under belly of Mumbai in the days when the mills were working. Then  the buildings started coming up. A pond divided the two Matungas and both sides were lush green. A small narrow bridge like a brick wall was used to cross over to the other side. Most schools were located in central Matunga. Now there is a Z bridge which runs above the railway repair yard. I love peeping into the repair shed through the broken slats.Seeing bogies getting repaired and the smell of petrol/ diesel u…