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Bharat Darshan

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Happy Onam: Carnival of Kerala

Indian Belly, Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

There many ways to know that the town is getting ready to celebrate Onam. The resonating sounds of the chenda and the rhythmic singing and clapping of Kaikottikali being one. And the fragrance of pookkalam and the procession of majestically embellished elephants being another. Yes, it’s the streets of Kerala that come alive and send across the message that the state is gearing up for Onam. Ask any Malayali to sum up his thoughts on this high spirited harvest festival and pat will come the reply, “It’s a celebration that brings together the entire state”, and it truly does and how.

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Eid Mubarak: The Spirit of Sacrifice

Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

Just as the delirium of Ramzaan winds down, the preparations for the next Eid get queued up. The frenzied bazaars provide a rich taste of the festive atmosphere – a rush to the tailors to stitch new clothes; that mad hunt to find matching accessories to go with the dress; new curtains and cushions to complement the fresh coat of paint at home; young girls scouting for trending designs and the darkest hue of mehendi cones; ladies discussing how to do justice to the upcoming freezer full of meats and sharing recipes of mutton, kalejis and botis – all of it make for a happy, cheerful portrait.

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Ganapati Bappa Moriya!

Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

Ganapati Bappa Moriya – the sound of this pious chant is etched in my memory. It was an integral part of my childhood and is also an emotion that I want my children to respect. The festivities, colour, gaiety and delicacies of Ganesh Chaturthi are an important part of every Mumbaikar’s life. The decorations and processions fill up everyone’s heart with a kind of joy that is unforgettable. So when the twists of life brought my family and me to the shores of Dubai, I feared that I’d have to leave behind the festivities that had shaped my childhood and made me the person that I am. However, thanks to the benevolence of Dubai and its leaders and rulers, and of course the blessings of Ganapati Bappa I, for the last 15 years, have been bringing Bappa home each year.

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O’Calcutta!

Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

On the 5th day of June’2004, when the Calcutta sun was setting, I was about to leave my birth place in search of a better career. With my backpack I was walking in the oldest railway station of India – Howrah Junction to board the Rajdhani Express to New Delhi. Howrah Station is a living example of the spirit of the city; where millions of people stroll from dawn till dusk. The terminal station is located on the west bank of the Hooghly River, and linked to Calcutta by Howrah Bridge. The Howrah station, the Hooghly River and the Howrah Bridge are the opening lines of the poem called Calcutta.

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Let’s talk in Punjabi! Aaho!

70 MM, Bollywood, Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

We’re going to teach you but remember that other than the 26 alphabets there are certain phonetic sounds that need to be practiced to give a better flavour to your newly acquired Punjabi lingo. To practice that, watch out a few Jaswinder Bhalla movies and you would soon be beating us in our own game. Also, listen closely to the comments and phrases of Navjot Singh Sidhu. Chal guru, ho ja shuru! Or like we do, listen to the Punjabi numbers in Bollywood! Or if you are a Pammy Aunty fan then you could start your practice there.

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Chart papers, Fevicol and glue sticks!

My Dubai, Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

I always had the ‘butterflies-in-the-stomach’ feeling when school was approaching. The annual vacation (read mandatory trip to Dada-Dadi’s/Nana-Nani’s [grandparents] house, or an escape to a nearby hill-station) was done and dusted. The two Kodak rolls containing 40-odd photos each, had also been developed and the photo album, seen multiple times. Inquiries were now being made with elder siblings and friends in the same school as to what lay ahead in the next year of school, who the teachers would be and whether they were strict or “cool”. The thoughts of waking up early for school and (gulp!) homework loomed in the mind and the vacation’s blue summer skies were slowly getting murkier as June approached, bringing with it, another year of school. It wasn’t all ominous though. The best part of going back-to-school was here too. A sequence of clearly defined, joy-inducing shopping rituals would now be followed: buy new books and the standard brown wrapping paper, labels, pens, pencils, erasers sharpeners, shoes, ties, uniform and (when lucky) a new schoolbag too! And what about the goose bumps of day one?! The nervous build-up of excitement of seeing the current crush again. The eagerness to show-off the brand new double-decker, tiffin box. The mystery of what sports “house” we’d be part of (red, green, blue or yellow). The secret hope of being allocated to the same classroom as our other friends. A million thoughts rushed through our head, as we picked up our bags for the first time in the year! Back-to-school of the ‘90s!

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#backtoschool of the ‘90s!

My Dubai, Nostalgia, Trumpet Lead

I always had the ‘butterflies-in-the-stomach’ feeling when school was approaching. The annual vacation (read mandatory trip to Dada-Dadi’s/Nana-Nani’s [grandparents] house, or an escape to a nearby hill-station) was done and dusted. The two Kodak rolls containing 40-odd photos each, had also been developed and the photo album, seen multiple times. Inquiries were now being made with elder siblings and friends in the same school as to what lay ahead in the next year of school, who the teachers would be and whether they were strict or “cool”. The thoughts of waking up early for school and (gulp!) homework loomed in the mind and the vacation’s blue summer skies were slowly getting murkier as June approached, bringing with it, another year of school. It wasn’t all ominous though. The best part of going back-to-school was here too. A sequence of clearly defined, joy-inducing shopping rituals would now be followed: buy new books and the standard brown wrapping paper, labels, pens, pencils, erasers sharpeners, shoes, ties, uniform and (when lucky) a new schoolbag too! And what about the goose bumps of day one?! The nervous build-up of excitement of seeing the current crush again. The eagerness to show-off the brand new double-decker, tiffin box. The mystery of what sports “house” we’d be part of (red, green, blue or yellow). The secret hope of being allocated to the same classroom as our other friends. A million thoughts rushed through our head, as we picked up our bags for the first time in the year! Back-to-school of the ‘90s!

819 0

Doodh, dahi, malai, makhan aur ghee!

Food, Indian Belly

“Now be a good boy/girl and finish your glass of milk” is a statement most Indian kids are familiar with. From the time we are born our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and all the other elderly women in the family insist that we drink one glass of milk in the morning before we go to school and one in the evening before we go out to play. Such is the national obsession with “doodh” that the milk mooch (moustache) is worn with a lot of pride.

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What are your favourite chai partners?

Food, Indian Belly

Ask most Indians and they’d agree that there’s something about the garma garam chai that makes chilly winter mornings warmer and sultry summer evenings tolerable. On weekends, there is no rush, you can hold a cup in your hands and absorb the beauty of the sunrise. On weekdays, when you’re running around like a headless chicken the same cup of chai (or cha as my maternal grandmother would say) when multiplied by three or sometimes four helps keep your sanity intact. In short, a cup of chai simply makes one’s life better. As for me, I’ve always been more fascinated with what comes along with the chai than the chai itself. Think conversations, people, favourite chai spots and snacks; yes, especially the snacks.

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