Friday, 27 September 2013

Colours of Navratri 2013

The festival of Navratri is here and can see all are gearing 
up for the 9 days of festivities. This year Navratri will be celebrated all over the country from  5th to the 13th of October 2013. It's the time for fasting and feasting and pleasing Goddess Durga and seeking her blessings! 

The mantras generally chanted during the Navratras are:

Devi Mantra 1
Sarva Mangal Mangalye
Shive Sarvartha Sadhike
Sharanye Tryambake Gauri
Narayani Namostute

Meaning of the Mantra:
Oh Mother, you are the source of auspiciousness.
And the support of Shiva.
Possessing the third eye of enlightenment,
O Gauri, O Narayani, I surrender to you.

Devi Mantra 2
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Maa rupena samsthita 
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Shakti rupena samsthita 
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Buddhi rupena samsthita 
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Laxmi rupena samsthita 
Namestasyai  Namestasyai  Namestasyai Namo Namah 

Meaning of the Mantra:
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of universal mother
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of energy
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of intelligence
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of true wealth
We bow to her, we bow to her,  we bow to her

This year the Colours for Navratri are:

PratipadaOctober 5, 2013 (Saturday) Grey
DwitiyaOctober 6, 2013 (Sunday)Orange 
Tritiya October 7, 2013 (Monday)White
 - October 8, 2013 (Tuesday) -Red 

PanchamiOctober 9 (Wednesday) Blue 
SashtiOctober 10 (Thursday)  -  Yellow
SaptamiOctober 11 (Friday)Green

AshtamiOctober 12 (Saturday)Peacock Green
Navami / VijayadasamiOctober 13 (Sunday)Purple

So everyone, Enjoy the festivity and celebrate the spirit of the festival with these colours. Be seen in clothes that have the mentioned colour of the day... to office, to college or to the dandiya grounds. . In Mumbai its a festival of harmony not just the festival of Hindus but a festival of the city.. roads are converted into dance floors in the evenings for the 9 days. The dancing goes on till the wee hours on certain days. So if you are not in Gujarat which is known for its Navratri celebrations with Garba and dandiya during the festival be sure to enjoy the Dandiya in Mumbai.

Happy Navratri to All! 

To know about the significance of the festival and ways to worship Goddess Durga, please read my earlier post

Monday, 23 September 2013

Annamrita - Food as pure as nectar.

I met Rupali Goswami, the lady associated with Annamrita and what an afternoon I had! one of the best conversations I've had recently, the lady was so driven with her passion. I could see the twinkle in her eye and the fire in her belly. A postgraduate in social work from Shanti Niketan, she has given up her corporate job to finally answer her true calling. She had so much of compassion and the cause was very close to her heart, could see that. She spoke with so much pride that she came from the institution where Rabindranath Tagore and Amratya Sen were alumni. It is noteworthy that the institution also has received two Nobel prizes, in its prestigious existence.

She came across as a typical Mumbai professional working for an NGO. We started chatting and she got me interested in her project, Annamrita - ISKON Food Relief foundation. She was here to make a presentation to our students. When she was talking to me in my office I found myself picking up my diary and taking notes, told her that I would love to attend the session. There I was sitting through her presentation with my students.

I really don't know what makes me write this but yes it did strike a chord with me somewhere. Infact one of the students attending the session, asked her why should others look after these kids, when its the responsibility of their parents. This is what even I thought when I was that age but over the years have observed that in the lower strata of the society they don't have the privilege of having a solid family foundation and bonding. The system is not able to sustain itself and may disintegrate as a family unit and then everyone is left  to fend for themselves including the little children. More than financial help they need opportunities, opportunities to make their life, have a future. These children also have dreams like others and given the right platform and opportunity they can shine too. 

Learnt a few things about Annamrita. Here are my notes from the session, Food for thought!
  • There are millions of NGOs around the globe, for every 400 individuals there's an NGO.
  • ISKCON Food Relief Foundation (IFRF) is a not-for-profit, non-religious, non-sectarian public charitable trust formed on April 23, 2004 and registered under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950.
  • IFRF believes in providing children with the right nutrition to support their education. This program is based on the belief that you are what you eat’.
  • The Midday Meal Scheme of Govt of India is being implemented by IFRF under the name of ‘Annamrita’. A majority of the population in India is still unable to get even one complete square meal for the day. The khichdi (a rice preparation with lentils) prepared nourishes the mind, body and soul alike.
  • One can help every child in India get an education, if he/ she donates that one wholesome meal. 
  • Annamrita caters over 12,00,000 meals everyday from  20 kitchen across 8 states.
  • The mid day meal motivated students to come to school, before the scheme the attendance was 18 to 20, it  went up to 200 once the meals were served in school, says one of the school teachers in Mumbai. . The reason being children would quit school to earn a livelihood for them. Education broadens one's thinking and prospective in life.
  • In India, among the underprivileged, one nutritious meal a day brings thousands of children to school.
  • The khichdi is prepared with the highest standards of hygiene and quality ingredients that meet the nutritional requirements of growing children. Different varieties of khichdi are made.
  • The meals are prepared at the central kitchen, there are two in Mumbai in Tardeo and Mira Road respectively. The preparations start as early as 2.30 am and the first dispatch happens in the van at 7.30 am and the last one is at 11.30 am.
  • The lunchtime is the same in every school so the meal has to reach on time every time. All care is taken to ensure that, traffic jams or vehicle failure are kept into account and ample leeway is given.
  • The schools have 220 working days in a year. The cost of each meal is about Rs. 4.50 per day per child, that makes Rs. 900 per child for the entire year.
  • The foundation prepares meals for 300000 children everyday  and the food  is dispatched through 99 vehicles across 1602 schools in Maharashtra. Just imagine when these figures are multiplied into  8 different states, Annnamrita is reaching out to 1200000 children everyday.
  • The kitchens are ISO 22000: 2005 certified, they prepare nutritious Satvik food in a hygienic environment.
Rupali also informed us that the operating cost of the kitchens is 3.5 crores Each day, the deficit cost of feeding 1200000 children  is about 22- 23 lakhs. There is a need for them to generate funds on a regular basis to manage the same. A lot of it comes from the corporates and individual donors. She has been taking this project to the educational institutions across Mumbai. She says more than getting the funds its creating awareness and a sense of responsibility towards the less privileged.

If you wish to know more about Annamrita please write to Rupali at and follow the link:

My meeting Rupali was followed by my Colleague Chef Manoj Patkar visiting the Annamrita on a culinary journey, he has a beautiful account of the same narrated on his blog,

Friday, 20 September 2013

Pets - some connections and memories.

Pets have more love and compassion in them than most humans. 
~Robert Wagner

I never married because there was no need. I have three pets at home which answer the same purpose as a husband. I have a dog which growls every morning, a parrot which swears all afternoon, and a cat that comes home late at night. 
~Marie Corelli

Two different opinions yet convey the same meaning that  pets display and shower unconditional love. They bring so much joy in ones life. They end up becoming a part of your life, your better caring half.
I don't have any pet at the moment but we have had pets. My parents loved them and brother was so fond of them, I was kind of okay, liked them but I wasn't the one who could really take care and manage the puppies then, especially when they were very young. The puppies require the same attention as that of a little child.

The first pet we had was a white pomeranian. We brought her home when she was just a couple of weeks old. She was fond of my mother, mom took care of her like a little baby, feeding her with the feeding bottles, bathing her, comforting her and making her grow from this tiny little thing into a handsome pup.We called her Ginny. Once mom was going out, I was in the 10th grade then. Ginny was still a little pup. She told me everything that I had to do. The first chore was to feed Ginny, I was to give her some milk. I did that but didn't take a note that the milk was hot. Offered it to her, she took a sip from that and shrieked, it was such a painful cry. She left the milk and walked away immediately, giving me one dirty look. I didn't realise what went wrong . Then on, Ginny would never have anything that I gave her. 

When Ginny was about an year old we got a little labrador we named him Dash. It was black and the coat was shiny. Mom gave Dash the same love and care as Ginny. Dash and Ginny bonded well and started growing up together. 
We had fights among us siblings but the pups were well behaved. Looks like they listened to mom more than we did and they didn't do anything that she'd disapprove.
They were all grown up and formed a pretty picture. Loved my mom and were fond of dad. They had a coordial relation with me and never interfered. Probably Ginny had communicated my inefficiencies to Dash and must have told him to keep me at an arms length. Ginny also knew exactly how dad's scooter sounded and would rush to the gate when he got back home from office. 

I left home and came to Mumbai for my graduation, I guess Ginny must've been thrilled to get the bitch out of her way... anyway as I said we shared a coordial relation. I would see them only once in 6 months that too for just two weeks. But being away from home made my heart grow fonder of this black and while pair, I guess distance did the trick on them as well. During my second year vacation, I was home for nearly two months. I used to take them for walks. Yes I was in college and third year meant being prepared for the campus interviews; fitness and looking my best also was a part of it. In this pursuit the two of them also became involved. Ginny didn't like waking up at 5 am and giving me company for walks. She pretended to be fast asleep just when I would get ready for walk, she gave up just in 3 days flat. But Dash being the adventurous one and I guess being protective about me came along. He loved those walks. Somehow the two months flew by and I came back to Mumbai. Putting Dash into a good fitness mode. He continued getting up at 5 am, would then go into my brothers room and lick his face if he didn't wake up on time. Somehow spared my sister. She was the little princess in the house and Dash knew it well. But brother had to take him out for walks everyday. Brother got quite irritated with the whole drama at home and when we met next he narrated all the morning walks saga, we still talk about them and have a good laugh.

Dash and Ginny lived with us for about 10 years, then dad got transferred to another city and we had to move there. Since we were going to be living in  an apartment in a high rise building, we decided against taking  the pets with us. So we had to look for secure homes for both of them. Dash was sent to dad's colleague's house, the lady was extremely fond of pets and Dash had company. We heard that he didn't eat for a couple of days but eventually the lady got him on track and he was fine. I am sure he missed my parents a lot,just the way they missed him. Mom cried often.
Ginny on the other hand went to my aunt's house. They are vegetarians so she had to deal with a lot of vegetarian food but aunt did give regular non vegetarian treats to her. She was stronger and adjusted into her new home well. We saw both the pets settling in and we shifted base too.

We came to Mumbai and started living in an apartment. Brother wanted to get another pet home. I didn't like the idea as everyone loved the pets but mom had to take care of the logistics part and going out or out of station required huge planning. Told my brother that he could think of having pets in the house only after he got married and  managing the pet would be his and his better half's responsibility. 

He got a Dalmatian puppy home one day. Parents were out of station and I had started working. My little sister was home on study leave. She took care of the pet, I was amazed at the way she was looking after it. It wasn't trained on anything and we weren't trained on taking care of it either. I wasn't good at it anyway! It would shit all over the place and my poor sister would be on a cleaning spree. She was someone who didn't even step on the wet soil while walking in the rain and I couldn't see her doing all that. Gave an ultimatum to our brother that the pup had to go, he needed to find another home and people who were better equipped to handle him. The puppy was really cute but somehow we couldn't keep it, was getting it very difficult for my sister and I couldn't see that. Brother found some people in Kolkata who wanted the pet so it went there by flight. Yes we missed it and I kept wondering whether we did the right thing by sending it away. But parents were out and we couldn't handle it. Managing ourselves was a huge task in itself! then the news came of Ginny dying of old age, we all missed her and felt the void of losing someone dear. 

This post is written for

pictures have been taken from google with due credits.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Shopping ....virtually!

As kids we'd go to the local bania for grocery shopping and when it came to clothes would visit the market place with parents. That market place would be quite a drive away. The trips would be a few and far between. The first one would be when the school reopened shopping for the uniforms ,rain gear and books, the second one generally would be around Diwali time and of course the third trip would be for the birthday depending on when it fell. These are the first memories of my shopping.

Mom would tell us that during her childhood days they hardly went to any such outings. Infact they'd have the tailor called over to their place, who'd stay put for months together stitching clothes for the entire family, a large joint family in the village having about 30 - 40 members. As for the grocery, they'd have most of it produced right there in their fields and for other things the elder men in the family would do the purchase from the town every quarter or may be just twice a year.

My generation now prefers shopping at malls. In fact the online shopping is picking up too. The advantage being that one can check out products, do window shopping and choose products right from the comforts of one's home. No need to step out and do a hurried shopping, no tension of finding parking space and ofcourse worry about kids running here and there and increasing your shopping bill with absolutely everything they can get their hands on, lets call it play zone and then the food court. 

I don't shop much online, as I think one needs to feel the fabric while purchasing  garments. Other things are fine. At times one ends up getting good deals and combo offers that are irresistible.One may miss this at a store but on the computer, while shopping online the information is conveyed logically and in a such a way that it can't be missed.

It makes me think how will shopping be.... say 15 years on?

Of course most of the shopping will be online. As it was said, being 'born with a silver spoon'... forget spoon the children now are born with the cell phones. I still can't figure out the Angry birds but my children are Pro at them. Take any game on the cellphone, there are hundreds of them coming out each day and kids pick them up so fast. In fact game developer has become a lucrative career. 20 years from now will be the time of these kids who may be professionals and some of them may be new parents. I am imagining them shopping. I am sure most of it would be online and they'd step out only for outings, trekking and may be on a holiday but never for grocery shopping or any other shopping for that matter. By then the comfort and trust will be a lot more on the online transactions. My generation too is getting on track and prepared with the online shopping. Infact some of my friends and collegues already are into it big time!.... and they are happy.
Will there be a need for the stores at all?  It'll be minimal, for that matter malls may have kiosks of the different brands where the shopper makes a virtual cart and selects items from the list makes payments and signs off from the kiosk. When he is home the order is delivered at his doorstep. Stores won't require to maintain large shops instead have little kiosks with a person to guide the shopper with the purchases. The shopper need not even bother with carrying the stuff back home with him. It'll all be delivered at his doorstep. The situation will be win win as the stores need not have such a huge workforce. There won't be the need to store and stack the merchandise in the premier showroom. Most of it can be in the go downs and warehouses elsewhere. Our children, the young professionals then can enjoy playing their temple runs and angry birds or even the falmville. When farming can be done online shopping is certainly a cakewalk! They'll love their online shopping.

Companies can save on their brand ambassadors, shop spaces, work force and so on. But they might have to use some freebies in the form of  new online games that the shoppers will be game for.

So won't see the vegetables, fruits or any other thing physically but will have the pictures of them taken on a real good camera with high pixels. Easier for everyone to select from the list and put in their carts, payments would be through credit cards. Imagine not going to a messy bhaaji market or the smelly fish market and haggling the rates with the Moushis...

Shopping, and how?....ofcourse online!

This post has been written for The future of shopping on indiblogger in association with eBay.

The pictures have been taken from Google from different websites with due credit to each one of them.