Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chitra’s Wedding,

Wedding Season. Come November, the weddings in India start in right earnest. The numbers increase in the month of December and finally taper off in January. One good thing about weddings during this period is the ‘Good Weather’. Breezy and bright afternoons followed by pleasant evenings make a perfect setting for weddings.

On 09 Nov 12, Chitra, daughter of my course mate and a very dear friend Rags and Meera got married to Bobby. It was an excellent wedding and more importantly all the important elements of a good wedding stood out – loudly proclaiming ‘Look guys, this is how one should get married’. Their wedding was solemnized by a pastor in a very dignified manner to be followed by rendition of ‘Vedic Hymns’ by the father of the bride.

Figure 1 - I Do

It finally ended with the ‘Oonjal Ceremony’- One of the most beautiful rituals in the Tamil Wedding. It has multiple small rituals embedded into it. The couple is seated on a swing (Oonjal in Tamil). The swing is decorated with flowers and ornaments and is made to swing back and forth. Married women stand around the Oonjal and sing songs; the most popular of them is Laali Laali song. The ceremony epitomizes the ideal state of mind for the married couple, forever fixed with harmony throughout the ups and downs of life.

Figure 2 - Oonjal Ceremony

Figure 3 - Chitra looking absolutely gorgeous

The wedding was one big fun – the parents, the guest - young and old, and more importantly the newlyweds enjoyed the wedding to the hilt. The wedding followed by an evening reception on 10 Nov was full of mirth and merriment, filled with bonhomie. A large number of course mates and friends from the Army Navy and Air Force attended the marriage. A wonderful tradition which has developed over time, where in the course mates from far and near attends the children’s wedding without fail.

Figure 4 - The Tri Service Element

The wedding was followed by a bit of ‘Elbow Bending’ with the near and dear ones. The mild afternoon sun, with whiff of constant breeze and the beautiful atmosphere of ‘Para Regimental Centre’ lawns - all joined hands to create an excellent ambiance for a bit of ‘Gin and Tonic’. Sufficiently fortified with the elixir we all departed to have delicious lunch. A very fine afternoon indeed.

Figure 5 - Proud and happy parents with Chits

Figure 6 - Great place

The next day evening was the reception. There was lot of dancing and good music. My niece Karin with her melodious voice and friend Jai Chako on the Clarinet set the mood and the evening was on. Every one enjoyed the party. The best part - all of us knew each other. It was a select crowd.

Figure 7 - Kari and Jai

Chitra’s dog ‘Bella’ was there all through the wedding. What a lovely sight.

Figure 8 - Pleeeeeese take me with you!!- Bella 

The entire essence of the wedding has been captured in this, one single photograph. It says it all -wedding is undoubtedly a very sacred ceremony – at the same time, it is time to enjoy and seize the moment – it comes only once – let it remain so. Once again all the very best to Chits and Bobby.

Figure 9 - Bobby floating in the air. 

Good show dear Rags and Meera, Bravo Zulu
All photographs - Courtesy George Seemon and studio Velveeta Photography


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Random Thoughts ... Old age, Cooking, Mating of Cats and other things

Late Mrs Lalitha Shivaram Ubhayaker started a group called ‘Ashwasan’ which means ‘assurance’, a voluntary organization established in 1993 to reach out to senior citizens, the aged and the lonely. With nuclear families most elders find themselves marginalized, thin on resources and failing in health. It is left to people like us to help them get back their self worth and dignity. To bring them out of their shells of loneliness and revive their sense of belonging,” she had said earlier on.

Today, it has over 1000 senior citizen members in Bangalore. The JVV branch held their 18th anniversary on 24th November 2012 in the Air Force Navy School at Jal Vayu Vihar. The function was attended by more than twenty ‘80+’ residents of JVV. They had put up an entertainment program which was followed by lunch. The skits, songs and the games were very interesting and what stood out was the enthusiasm behind the whole program. Everyone made it a point to participate in the function wholeheartedly and for a brief moment, all their little aches and pains  were forgotten. The school premises reverberated with sounds of laughter, constant banter and frequent clapping. The very senior citizens showed the way throughout and drove home the message –‘Age is no barrier, if one is determined’. A lady who is 90+ was insistent that she needed no help to move around, to serve herself food or to eat.It was an afternoon well spent in the company of JVV old timers. The credit also goes to the organizers, especially to Ms Yamini a twenty four year old volunteer, who has been associated with the organization for the last eight years. A lot to learn from them. One day all of us………

JVV has a good share of elderly gentry with the spirit of teenagers. Recently, I went and had a glass of beer with a 92 year old retired Sq Leader from the IAF. He told me that of late he has started having a glass of wine in the afternoon and quickly added, “It is cardiac supportive”. There are a number of officers from the air force and the navy who are into their eighties – fit and fine – with regular walks and visits to gym, golf, tennis etc. Whenever I see elderly people who are active and full of life, it gives me immense pleasure.

Cats in JVV have become a big nuisance. I had blogged about them in It is mating season now and the whole colony is agog with cats running around and making the weirdest of noises. Near my cluster there is one Molly cat and there are three suitors. Tom White, Tom Brown and Tom Stripe who are on the move impressing the lonely Queen. Cat communication includes a variety of vocalizations like meowing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling and grunting. Regardless of day and night the fight is on and one has to bear all the deafening cries, shrieks and cat calls. It is extremely frightening to be woken up in the middle of the night. Some of the Tom cats are very adamant and refuse to budge even under intimidation. So the problem of 'who will bell the cat?' persists.

Alternate medicines.During the last ten years or so, I have tried every kind of alternate therapy for diabetes but all in vain. All my efforts start very earnestly and go on for a few months before it is completely forgotten. Perhaps the results are not visible or the effort is not habit forming – whatever the reason – I have not been able to continue for more than a few months. I have tried having Fenugreek or Methi in many forms – powder, sprout and whole – fresh Aloe Vera juice; nothing is more disgusting than this gooey and tasteless liquid early in the morning on an empty stomach. Ladies fingers soaked in water over night- to be had the next morning. This terrible concoction competes with Aloe Vera in ‘Repulsive’ quotient. Next in line was cinnamon powder with honey – a drinkable combo. I have many ‘Insulin Plants’ (Costus Ingneus) in my garden. The green leaves are to be chewed early in the morning – it is tangy and tastes like raw mango. Amla and Jamun seed powder have also adorned my medicine cabinet. I  even tried ‘Ginseng’ when I could ill afford it. A large number of e mails are sent in Google groups asking us to practice one therapy or the other. Nobody knows the veracity of such mails. In spite of all this, we continue to have many alternate medicines in good faith.

Who Cooks in the House? Ever since humans became ‘Homo Erectus’ the concept of work sharing has been in force. The man went out to hunt and the woman stayed behind with the children and gathered food around her habitat. She also cooked. This division of labor suited her role of reproduction and child care. Then, agriculture arrived, ending hunting to a large extent. Since then a variety of factors have come to play and has blurred the role of man and woman – the fine line dividing the two is slowly disappearing. Today we have a number of options – ready made food, ordering out, eating out, hiring of cooks and so on. To add to this list, we also have refrigerators, mixers and grinders, microwave ovens, induction heaters and so on – making cooking easier. More importantly, women have started working and bringing in the much needed ‘Moolah’.

In some houses, the man has entered the kitchen; whether it is  by force or by choice, will remain a mystery. The other day we went to Sampath and Saroja’s house for our monthly get together. Sampath had prepared excellent biryani – the texture, taste and  mix was simply wonderful. Men entering the kitchen are on the increase. My son cooks regularly and so do I.

Believe me, cooking is extremely therapeutic and is a great hobby too. Cooking is a stress buster and teaches you – patience, sense of proportion, is exhilarating but often results in deep disappointment when you burn the food or add excessive salt and so on. You are sure to earn some brownie points from your wife for all your efforts .The extra time spent on the golf course or elbow bending with mates is sure to be forgotten by the wife if she is served ‘fresh salad with basil, lime, olive oil and Parmesan cheese’ with ‘cream of celery and onion soup’ and hot homemade bread.

Ask my children and they are sure to say – Dad is no longer the sole breadwinner. But he is the family's only bread-maker”. Meaning, we have a bread maker and I have cracked the code and make excellent bread.


Especially after the World War II, men came home as trained cooks and took their skills to market. Masculine power lent credibility to the job and the role of a “chef” took on an elevated status, paving the way for restaurant culture.