Weekly Photo Challenge:Monochromatic

At a recent visit to Udaipur we spent time at Fatehsagar lake boating in its placid waters. The lake shimmered in beautiful blues…reflecting the skies and enveloping the distant Aravalli range in its bluish hues..

shades of blue

Fatehsagar Lake at Udaipur

As the evening advanced to surround everything in its darkness, the view transformed completely to the shades of grey….

Fatehsagar Lake at Udaipur

Fatehsagar Lake at Udaipur


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7 Things That Define Freedom For Women This Independence Day….

This article has been published at HuffingtonPost India titled “An Independence Day for Women”

I am one of those fortunate few who was born to loving and educated parents who did not find it a burden to raise two daughters when everybody around them was hoping they would plan another pregnancy to beget a male child; who sent their girls for higher education and made them engineers; who let their daughters choose their life-partners irrespective of religion or community; who taught them to stand up against any injustice; who did not believe in paying dowry for ensuring their daughter’s safety and respect….

But for the majority of women, the time stands still…. Honour-killings still happen, female-feticides still snuff out the innocent life, education is still denied, wife’s consent to sex is still disregarded, courts refuse to discuss marital rape issues, people in power still blame women for the crimes against them, forgetting that a nun or the five-year-olds do not behave in a way to entice or lure the rapists, lawyers defend the molesters to dodge punishments….

My daughter is growing up in today’s world. Soon she will be old enough, refusing to be chaperoned at all times… She would want to see the world and explore all opportunities before settling down in a career or selecting her partner. Even if I as a parent grant her all the liberty, will the so-called moral guardians of the society let her be?

After 68 years of Independence, shouldn’t women be free of the tyrannical male and his rules? What does it really mean for us, the women, on this 69th Independence Day of our country?

I believe true independence would be when all women have FREEDOM from:

  • Being aborted…when birth of a girl child is also considered a blessing and brings equal joy to parents…when people stop wishing for birth of their ‘heir’ …that would be freedom.
  • Being judged for clothes they wear…all girls in skirts or shorts are not ‘asking for it’. They are not immoral. If men looked in the eye when speaking to a woman and not stare at her chest or bare legs….that would be freedom!
  • Being attacked or punished for thwarting advances of a lusting perverted man… women are not sex toys…when a girl or a woman steps out of her home without the fear of being attacked by acid, being raped or beaten for refusing sex….that would be freedom!
  • Being killed for falling in love…. When caste, religion, language, community are no longer hindrances in choosing a life partner…when no woman is prescribed death for marrying outside community… that would mean  liberation for women.
  • Being banned from religious places for having periods. Puberty is a gift from the Gods to women to nurture future life…it is neither their shame, nor punishment and definitely not anything impure.
  • Being denied higher education. When every little girl can dream to become a teacher, a pilot, doctor, engineer…when people stop assigning kitchen and four walls of a house as the only domain of women…when women can opine about financial and other matters at every home… that would bring freedom.
  • Being punished for Dowry… When ‘Arranged Marriages’ will do away with dowry…when all that a marriage ceremony would mean blessings and love only…when the mother-in-law, being a woman herself, will stand by her daughter-in-law at every step in her new beginnings…when brides won’t be burned or forced to commit suicides…that day would be a free day.

When women will not be the birds with clipped wings, but kites soaring in sky with gay abandon into the winds of change….that would truly be the INDEPENDENCE DAY!!


N for Namaste!!

'Namaste'(shutterstock images)

‘Namaste'(shutterstock images)

Namaste world!

Namaste is the Indian way of respecting and greeting another person. This Sanskrit word is formed from two words basically ‘Namah’ meaning ‘I bow’ and ‘te’ means ‘you’. ‘Namah’ +’Te’ = Namaste meaning I bow to you.

While doing Namaste, both the palms are joined together near the chest and head is bowed slightly. With this gesture, it is believed that the divine force is same in all humans hence by doing namaste we honor the God in the person.

All yoga exercises begin with a ‘namaskar’ or ‘namaste’. All deity worship prayer ceremonies in temples begin with the ‘namaste’. Another theory, I read somewhere, is by joining palms together to greet instead of shaking hands, one preserves the positive energy of God within and avoids any dark or bad energy of other person from transferring into self.

When I was visiting USA for vacation, some tour operators in a bid to appear friendly and encourage us to hire their services, gestured a namaste which though seemed out-of-place but brought a smile on our face. I guess that is what they were aiming at! But it surely felt good to know that the world outside is aware of some Indian customs and traditions.

These days in fact, lesser and lesser young Indians are using traditional ways of greeting each other. They are more attracted with the western world’s ‘hello’ and ‘hi’ or the system of shaking hands. Though that as such is not a bad way to greet, but it is ironical that when more and more of western world is understanding the importance of yoga and some of the ancient hindu rituals, it is Indians who are moving away from age-old practices.

I for one, practice both ways of greeting, depending on who I am dealing with but its the ‘Namaste’ which makes me feel closer to my roots and I am proud of this.

So, there again NAMASTE World!!

This post is for A to Z challenge.

B for Baati and Dal (Whole Wheat Flour Balls with Thick Lentil Soup)

BToday for the A to Z challenge, I thought about sharing a recipe which is not much known in other parts of world. People eat and are aware of the ‘Butter Chicken Masala’ and its Indian origins but many preparations which are vegetarian are not known to western countries. If only the marketing and advertising of such dishes were handled properly, those who have turned vegetarian would get many more options to eat healthy food.

India has 28 states and boasts of a different cuisine specific to each state. India, being basically an agricultural country, there is a huge variety of vegetarian food to choose from though there are meat and poultry dishes too. The vegetarian food is not difficult to make and is very easy on stomach.

It is a misconception of western countries that all Indian food is spicy and fattening. In fact, obesity and its associated problems that have increased in our country are not because of the food we eat but because the generation today is indulging more into eating the junk foods like burgers, fries, breads, cakes, pies etc  introduced from western countries.

“Baati and Dal” is a traditional dish of the state of Rajasthan which is famous for its forts, palaces, Thar Desert, colorful turbans, big moustaches, folk dances, stone carvings and brave men and women alike. I was no good a cook when I got married 15 years back but now I have tried my hand at quite a many food items and can boast of being a good cook if not perfect. This preparation has come to my rescue quite a many times when six to seven bachelor officers have “bounced”(arrived unannounced to have food), as is quite acceptable in the military crowd, at our place carrying a tub of icecream as post dinner sweet dish.

It takes all of 30 minutes in all to prepare and there is no time consuming cutting and chopping of veggies involved! Here is the recipe for this delicious meal :

Ingredients for Baati:

3 cup coarse whole wheat flour

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp turmeric powder (optional)

  • Mix all ingredients and knead the dough with luke warm water. The dough should be stiff and not easily pliable. Let it rest for ten minutes.
  • Make small balls little smaller than the fist.
  • Preheat oven to 220 degrees centigrade and on the high rack bake these balls for 20 minutes.
  • These golden brown balls are Baati which locals dunk in a bowl of clarified butter(seperated from the milk). (Though I prefer not to dunk in ‘ghee’ or the clarified butter as it definitely adds inches to my waist. Instead I put a teaspoon of clarified butter in the soup later while eating baati with it. Yet Clarified butter or drawn butter is definitely healthier than the butter)

Ingredients for Dal(Thick Lentil Soup):

1/2 cup split green gram(moong chilka)

1 tbsp each split and skinned bengal gram(chana dal), pink lentil(masoor dal)

2tbsp split and skinned pigeon peas(arhar dal)

  • Wash and soak all lentils (preferably for an hour, but it cooks even if there is less time at hand)
  • In a pressure pan cook the lentils with two green chillies, small piece of ginger, 1tsp turmeric powder and pinch of asoefetida.
  • Once the lentils are cooked add some chilly powder, cumin powder and salt.
  • For seasoning:

1tbsp clarified butter

1tsp each mustard seeds, cumin seeds

small piece of cinnamon, 2 dried red chillies

Heat clarified butter and let the spices sputter. Add this seasoning to the boiled lentils and dal is ready.

To serve:

garnish the ‘Dal’ with chopped corriander and juice of a lemon.

To eat this meal in a traditional way, crush the ‘Baati’ or the baked wheat flour balls in a bowl and immerse it with ladles of ‘dal’ or the lentil soup. Add a teaspoon of clarified butter to the bowl and its ready to eat.

Dal and Baati

While one kneads the dough for baati, the lentils can be cooked in pressure pan simultaneously thus saving on time!

This image is sourced from free stock images because I had not planned on sharing this recipe and hence did not click the picture of home-made Bati and Dal before finishing it off two days ago!!

Try it people…..it is simple to make and definitely tastes goooooood!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: TEXTURE

stone  pattern with fossilised plant


A section of a stone wall at Gwalior fort (Madhya Pradesh, India) has a rough texture along with the imprint of fossilized plant.





Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

In between the earth and sky


My daughter happily soaring in between the blue sky  and grass-covered hills of Dalhousie (Himachal Pradesh).

Dalhousie a small town, named after the British Governor General in India Lord Dalhousie, was developed as summer retreat by the Britishers around five hills of state of Himachal Pradesh(India). With around 600 hotel which include private villas and bungalows, this is a favorite tourism destination. Dalhousie  is between 6000 and 9000 ft above mean sea level.

Though it has many tourist attractions but we were there for only few hours and all we could manage was horse ride and para-sailing.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

The Taj MahalThis monument of love is a unique piece of art and architecture with nothing else to beat its beauty in the world. This truly is a masterpiece.

Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built for the queen Mumtaz Mahal( and hence the name “Taz Mahal” – Palace[mahal] for Mumtaz,) by the Emperor Shah Jahan of the Mughal dynasty. The construction began year 1632 and it took almost 22 yrs to build with material sourced from not only India but also China, Tibet, Afghanistan, Persia and SriLanka. The queen died during the birth of her 14th child. The king was devastated and ordered the best of engineers and designers of Persian origin to design an out of the world resting place for his beloved wife. So great was his sorrow that he took to drinking and spent days lamenting for his love. His son Aurangzeb took advantage of his sorry state and rebelled. He killed his brother Dara, the chief contender of throne and a favorite of their father. He imprisoned the mourning emperor in fort of Agra to crown himself and shifted the capital to the Red Fort, Delhi. Shah Jahan spent his remaining days in captivity gazing at the Taj Mahal which was in direct sight of line from the bedroom window.

There is no greater love story and no man-made structure to compete with this masterpiece. Couples from all over the world make a beeline to get their picture clicked with this symbol of eternal love in hope that their love will be as everlasting.




Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

In the Indian culture people of all faiths believe in thanking God almighty for smallest of the wish. At some places like the Salim Chisti Dargah at Fatehpur Sikri(Agra), the culture is to tie a thread near the prayer hall and when the prayer is answered the thread has to be untied. At Ajmer Sharif Dargah people offer a chadar(sheet) made of flowers or silk or ordinary cloth according to their means.

The photographs are of a temple in Nainital where people tie bells of various sizes to show their gratitude towards the God. Hindus ring bells in temples and chant hymns in praise of God during all prayers. Again the sizes vary as per the capability of an individual.

NaPoWriMo (# 1): The Drought…..

Their parched skin,
The sunken eyes,
The famished heart …
and the shattered dreams,
They yearn light,
thrust upon is darkness!
They yearn for life…
Yes, they get one–
a miserable one!
Their desire..
burns up in pyre..
Their tears..
just silently dry..
Their flickering spirit..
sinks with the setting sun…
They see death..
they await death…
with the parched skin..
the sunken eyes..
the famished hearts 
and the shattered dreams….


The farmers in the state of Maharashtra (India) have been hit with drought many times and a lot many farmers committed suicide out of depression and lack of means to repay loans and debts. I know a city person like me can not fully understand their plight nor can be of much help to them, not because I do not want to but because I am fighting my own little wars of day-to-day living… however I do hope and pray, that they sail over their miseries. May God smile upon them with good fortune!!

Chronicles of our Love Story : 1. Destined to meet

I was reading a post about “arranged marriages” by Arindam Mohapatra and the associated comments when I got this idea to chronicle the story of my “love” marriage.

Destined to meet

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”
― John Lennon

Destiny finds some way to bring the two souls together  and makes them fall in love…

It was in 1984 that my parents got posted to Ghaziabad District Hospital. I was all of nine years old then and unawares of the difference between a big city and a town. The only thing mattered was finding friends in the school and around our home. We had moved in to a rented bungalow which was however surrounded by a lot many empty housing plots. Making friends seemed difficult.

We had hardly settled in the new house and new school when a horrifying experience changed everything. My parents, both doctors had joined the new hospital and were not available till late afternoon at home. My grandmother joined us for few days to help.

Three men had stalked us since the day we moved in. It was pouring heavily when they struck armed with knives and guns. They ransacked the house, threatened my seven-year old sister with knife and hurt my grandmother with the butt of the gun. I slipped out of the door to get help, but the robbers noticed and left in hurry taking whatever they could lay their hands on..

This one incident suddenly changed everything. We shifted to better and more populated locality and a better school. The new rented house had the landlord staying on the ground floor. The land lord belonged to the same community as us and he introduced us to other community members. And suddenly we had a lot of acquaintances in a new city.

This Maharashtrian community celebrated the festivals together and we soon became active members pitching in the celebrations and associated preparations. It was through these festivities that we came across this family…..two grown up sisters and one lanky little boy who happened to be in the same school as I.

Being in the same age group we used to play, fight and argue with each other not knowing that we will end up marrying one day!

Had it not been our destiny to meet, my parents wouldn’t have shifted to new city, robbers wouldn’t have attacked us and we wouldn’t have met with other people of our community and I would have never met this cute guy!!

We were meant to be in that city because up there somewhere GOD had designed the events so that we could get a chance to meet. We were destined to….