Thursday, March 31, 2011


Most people think that volunteerism is waste of time; it is more like adding value to your time. Volunteering gives me an opportunity to utilize my strengths and interact with various people. I was looking for a volunteer experience during my spare time rather just sitting around or gossiping.  For many years I volunteered in public schools few hours a week. I can tell what I did was not just selfless act, because volunteering made me see new places, meet new people, learning new things and gives me new experience and is helping me grow as a new person every day.  Volunteering in elementary school where my children went almost a decade ago, I could be in the midst of happy-go-lucky age group kids and I would feel one with them. Gradually when my children grew started hospital volunteering, I was fascinated to help the hospital staff and so started volunteering in local hospital and community clinic. Though I have quite volunteered in many places, now I am stuck with the hospital volunteering. Sometimes it takes a while to find the volunteer work that you like and really enjoy. I view a hospital as a building full of professionals who are trained to work together and as a team to help someone feel better. I am happy to be a part of the hospital staff, as volunteer, I wear the hospital shirt and a badge with “volunteer” on it.  I volunteer in various departments for few hours a week. For me, volunteering in various departments helped me learn how to stay calm under pressure pays off more than my helping hand to them. I think it is more of win-win situation. I can’t express how wonderful I feel to see the smile on the patients’ face. Though monetarily not benefited, their appreciations take volunteers like me a long way.  Volunteer work can rewarding on many different levels, especially beneficial for people that can keep their skill fresh while helping others. As if this was all not enough, I get a chance to make the world a little bit of better place at the same time.  Let me conclude with ‘the state of Tennessee is nicknamed as the Volunteer State since Mexican War and war of 1812, when a call for 2800 volunteer brought out 30,000 men.’
"Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart."
-Elizabeth Andrew

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Doctors' Day!

Happy Doctors' Day to all the doctors who have taken care of me since I was born. Everyone one of us  were touched by the doctors' compassionate and professional care at some time or the other, though not by choice. I have gone through quite a few minor ailments in the first 16 years of my life. The first person we all remember when we are sick, is doctor. The doctor takes responsibility of taking care of our short term or long term ailments. They are committed to our good health and well-being for which we should be grateful. Wishing my soon-to-be doctor son "A Happy Doctor's Day, my son"

 National Doctors' Day is held every year on March 30th in the United States. It is a day to celebrate the contribution of physicians who serve our country by caring for its' citizens. 

 Doctors Day marks the date that Crawford W. Long, M.D., of Jefferson, GA, administered the first ether anesthetic for surgery on March 30, 1842.
The first Doctor's Day observance was March 30, 1933 in Winder, Georgia.  Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, decided to set aside a day to honor physicians. This first observance included the mailing greeting cards and placing flowers on graves of deceased doctors. The red carnation is commonly used as the symbolic flower for National Doctor's Day.

On March 30, 1958, a Resolution Commemorating Doctors' Day was adopted by the United States House of Representatives. In 1990, legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to establish a national Doctor's Day. Following overwhelming approval by the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, on October 30, 1990, President George Bush signed designating March 30th as "National Doctor's Day."

"No man is a good doctor who has never been sick himself."  -Chinese Proverb 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Unnecessary Facts

We learn something useful everyday and think we gained some knowledge. I came across some interesting facts, which may not be useful but are fun to know. Here are some unnecessary but fascinating facts collected from internet which are cool to read at leisure.
  • “Bookkeeper” is the only word in the English language that has 3 letters that consecutively repeat.
  • Turtles can actually breathe through their butts
  • A giraffe can run faster than a horse, and can live without water longer than a camel.
  • Polar bears are left-handed.
  • Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10.
  • February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.
  • Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself.
  • The brain continues sending electrical wave signals for 37 hours after death.
  • The loudest creature on the planet is the blue whale. Its record is 188 decibels!
  • Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible.
 "Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness. "
-Samuel Beckett

Monday, March 28, 2011

Travel memoirs

Traveling by trains in India is a unique experience, when you compare it with in Europe or US. With all the vendors in the train and on the platform, we travel in the middle of hustle. During my early employment days in a bank, I used to travel every week from my mom’s place to the place of my work almost 100 miles. On Saturdays’ after the bank hours I would take a train around 4PM, it usually never comes on time. As I used to travel, I would pretty much know the exact spot where the particular compartment stops, and which one would usually have reserved seats but still empty. That being a weekend there would be many passengers like me, like weekend travelers.
Normally, few train mates with whom I would travel to the same destination would all board into the same compartment. The journey would not last more than three hours, if no unknown delays like waiting for the crossing of the trains. Most of my co-travelers would be employees of bank, insurance agents or medical representatives. We used to exchange about the issues happening in our offices or something directly pertained to us. As we were all grown up and busy talking about our offices or about our lives, unlike a child we did not bother about window seats or enjoying the views.
Festival season would increase the number of travelers and sometimes, I even had to travel by standing in the train. This particular train would not have reservations for short distance travel nor could I venture into an unreserved compartment. Due to some reasons if my co-travelers would not come and if I was lucky to get a window seat, that is the time I would be like a child and just see through the windows and enjoy the breeze on to my face. The three hours journey would just pass by so quickly, even before I realize my dad would be in the station waiting to pick me up. Monday mornings are my return to work travel time. My mom used to wake me up by 5AM, I always had to rush to the station and catch the train on time. There were times where in I had to cross the train tracks and catch the train. Literally, I could not catch my breath and some how made it into the train. That is the time I would think, why would I wake up early, next time this should not be repeated. I often used to think what if I miss the train, for the record I never missed my train in my 30 months of my weekend travel routine. With all the hassles, I have been through, even today I love train journeys.

"The only way of catching a train I ever discovered is to miss the train before."
-G.K. Chesterton

“A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”
- George Moore

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Servant maid

For any household in Indian urban families, the day starts by dispatching their daily chores and household activities. Normally a local servant is hired for those chores and any other help around the house work. To get a servant in first place, is time taking, usually everything goes by word of mouth. After mutual consent of the tasks that would be assigned to get it done, then comes the demand from the servant. Her demands would be something like the pay, about the time she can come, the amount of time she can spent on the work. Apart from this the master and the servant both knows it won’t stop there, unknown chores and unknown expectations are added from both sides. The conversation starts with perfect understanding.
She starts her work either the same day or next day; it goes well for couple days, and then starts the troubles. Servant starts to come late and starts to give different sorts of unimaginable logical reasons. The most tortures part is waiting for her to come and not sure whether she turns up or not. If we are aware she cannot make it that day, you could as well do at your pace. If you have to get things from her you need to be behind her all the time, explain it until she understands and then get it done, sometimes we feel we might as well get it done ourselves in half the time. Especially when older parents or in-laws are by themselves, the servants know that the older generation are helpless and have to rely on them that is when they give unquestionable reasons and say “grandma, I would have come and done those why did you do.” They cannot demand money from grandma’s or can make sincere effort to work for them for the money they have agreed.
I was lucky to have a servant maid during my early years of marriage. Back then I used to work in a Bank and she used to do all the household work, clean vessels, wash clothes, dry them and fold too. Recently, I saw a Kannada movie which shows how nowadays servant maids are. It is more like, they have their own terms and conditions. She dresses like she goes to a office, enters the house wears a apron and work whatever was in her contract and also serves coffee only to the household and not to the guests, when asked to prepare. In way it was nice to watch on the screen, later I found from my cousin, that there are union offices for servant maids and so they follow and work on contract rules. I was surprised to know, there are also online services to hire a servant maid for the kind of services you need as a package deal, on daily, weekly, monthly or bimonthly basis. As of now, I am the servant maid and the mistress of my home, so no rules for me I get the work done by myself, no cash benefits per se. I do in my pace. With all due respect to the laborious work they do, for the pay of course, I would like to conclude with an e-mail I received from my cousin about the changed lifestyle of servants from ancient day's illiterates to today’s techies.
Madam: Arrey........... You.......Useless Bai! Why didn’t you come last week? And that too without informing me??
Kamwali Bai: O Myadam... I had updated my Facebook status”Will be out of town for a week...” Saaheb knows ki. He even commented "Come back soon... Miss U!!"

“Gloriously false, a maid famous for all time.”
- Horace

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rags to Riches

Since ancient times we have read about many historical personalities who have gone from rags to riches. Any personality who rises from his poverty level to be a millionaire or a dumb mediocre person into a man with name and fame is referred to as rags to riches. Reading stories about personalities who grew up from rags to riches are so inspiring to us. Don’t we wonder, hope one day even I could be like them. Is it their effort that took them there or their luck? Not everyone would be born rich; any person can put effort to reach to riches with their perseverance and having a proper vision. I have seen some of the movies with rags to riches theme, to name a few - Pursuit of Happyness, Guru, Slumdog Millionare. Many TV shows have come with the same theme. Many of the poor people can really put effort or work hard to get into a decent lifestyle and some reach up to middle-class level, those are not considered or not news-worthy. Some people are born with silver spoon and some really strive to get there. Just struggling to get there will not take you there, if and everybody put effort all of us would have been rich in this world. Moving from rags to riches is not done overnight, for anyone to reach that state you will succeed with determination, steadfastness, and action. Most importantly, your journey to achieve the life you want should be properly guided with proper knowledge. To me that proper guidance has to come from the super natural energy or force, whatever you may want to call.

“Better go to heaven in rags than to hell in embroidery”
- Proverb quotes

Friday, March 25, 2011


Quinoa-do you know what it is?
Quinoa (pronounced keh-NO-ah or, sometimes, KEEN-wa), is a food item not common in most households. Quinoa isn't a cereal. It's a seed that is eaten like a grain; it is more easily digestible than corn, wheat, rye, ragi and jowar. It is popular in Mexican countries like jowar for us in India. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas." Just fyi, Incas is an empire in South America. Quinoa has been eaten continuously for 5,000 years by people who live on the Andean mountain plateaus and in the valleys of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. In US it is commonly found in most health-food stores and in some supermarkets. Seeds are usually covered with bitter compounds that must be removed before consumption, so must be washed before cooking. For basic cooking, first you need to rinse thoroughly and cook quinoa as it says on the package (1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water)  usually for 12 -15 minutes. Cooked quinoa is fluffy and creamy.
My son brought this food item first into our family. Initially I was very hesitant to start because of the nutty flavor. I then started to add spices to it and prepared more tasteful. Now it’s more than just a breakfast item in our house. I use quinoa almost like a substitute to rice; prepare more like mixed rice (vangibath or pulao). My Google searches led to me to experiment with quinoa and customize with Indian spices.
While the taste of quinoa is good, it also has nutritional values. Quinoa provides many essential amino acids, loaded with good source of minerals and has high protein content. The Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations says it is so nutritious it can be substituted for mother's milk. Quinoa is generally not a widely adapted crop due to temperature sensitivity. Some of the facts in cultivating quinoa, it takes 4 - 5 days for the seeds to germinate into seedlings, 90 - 120 days to harvest. We get approximately one pound of grains from 10 plants. Quinoa has bountiful of health benefits. It may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis; help avoid from gall stones, protect heart against heart disease, helps substantially lower type II diabetes risk. There is a caution to take quinoa, if you are on oxalate-restricted diet. With the entry of quinoa into my pantry, I need to experiment more with it.

Simple Quinoa breakfast recipe:
1 cup cooked quinoa (as per package instructions) and simmer it down in few spoons of milk; add dried nuts and blueberry or banana slices, touch it with honey. Or, if you have spicy tooth like me, add your favorite curry powder to the 1 cup cooked quinoa while still warm and serve it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Placebo effect

     Placebo is a Latin word meaning “I will please”, as the dictionary says. Placebo is commonly used in medical terminology for a substance having no pharmacological effect but given merely to satisfy a patient supposes it to be a medicine. 
     In medical world a story goes something like this, while explaining the placebo effect in the class room. Once a patient, with a stomach ache went to a doctor while the doctor was in a party, not in the clinic. Then the wise doctor gave a small pill from his coat pocket and asked the patient to keep it under the tongue until the patient reaches the clinic. The doctor promised the patient that he would check the patient at the clinic right after the party. By the time the patient reached the clinic his stomach ache was gone and the patient was happy.  A little later as the doctor stepped into the clinic, he saw the patient comfortably moving around. The doctor asked the patient to spit the pill in the sink. The pill is nothing but his coat button, not a real medical pill. Now you know what a placebo effect is. 
     The placebo effect has been known for centuries as the ability of some treatments with no medical value to have a positive effect on a person's health so long as they believe that the treatment does have value. Mystery and beauty of placebo is it’s all-purpose. Happiness and placebo effect may impact healing by faith and prayer.
     Placebo effect is not only limited to medical world but also in our day to day activities, either at home or at work. Praises and scolding or encouragement and discouragement suggest our mind how to behave in such situations, be it a quarrel or tensed up situation or a divorce. Placebo effect unconsciously helps you build strong relationships, avoid conflicts and momentarily avoid unpleasant situations. In the long run, placebo effect may not be effective as the realities pop up. So do not hide behind the placebo effect in maintaining relationships. When it comes to offices, organizations use it as a technique to calm employees and maintain integrity in the team.
      As we all can imagine placebo effect, if wrongly used, can lead to disastrous situations. As any other thing placebo has its pros and cons, good and bad, right or wrong and we should be careful when we plan to choose it.

 “Placebo, is it reality or myth?”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Obstacles in life

Life teaches a variety of lessons and life brings its own set of challenges. There is probably nothing here you don't already know. But what about those days when everything that can possibly go wrong. Those days when things just go that little bit off track. We must read about the obstacles with an open mind, sometimes admitting to ourselves something that we might not want to admit. Unwilling experiences are some of the obstacles in our life.
Some of the obstacles in life are more significant and some factors influence other factors. Most of the time fear comes about because we believe that we are about to suffer, in some way or another, from what the future will bring. Sometimes fear is generated by facts and other times by perception. Face your fears and overcome those fears. It is easier said than in practice. Just take your time and do it slowly and methodically.
Life can somehow get us to worry about many different things. Some of us worry a lot and some of us have the ability not to get worried about anything.
 Well we all know that there are a million answers to this question, but let me share this with you: our fear also can get us to worry.
So the cycle gains momentum from one obstacle to the next. A great many things can generate anger, such as situations, thoughts, people, failure and frustration. Fear triggers worry Fear and worry can generate anger
Life continues to roll on, and as it does, there can be many reasons why the element of doubt could be generated. Doubt about our ability to be successful, to get the job done, what the future hold on us. Doubts can be generated by many different reasons, which are not necessarily right or wrong. But what about when our doubt is generated by our fear, worry, and anger?
Well what happens is we continue to add another negative element into our cycle of obstacles of life. Individually theses emotions can slow our progress through life. But start to see them together and they have the ability to apply the brakes to life and apply them hard. These are some of the main obstacles which we commonly see.
You are not your own worst enemy in this. Proper care needs to be taken, that you are not generating and perpetuating a cycle of emotions which sees your obstacles of life become stronger and longer.
Finally I got to the conclusion that obstacles in life are there just to make you the best in what you do. After all, the final decision to be successful is within oneself.

"Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable."
-Theodore N. Vail

"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance."
-H. Jackson Brown

"Success is not measure by the position one has reached in life, rather by the obstacles one overcomes while trying to succeed."
 — Booker T. Washington  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Naming Ceremony

Traditional ceremony of naming the baby in the Hindu way is known as the Namakaranam (in Sanskrit), Balasare (in Telugu). It is the first real ceremony held for the newborn baby. The naming process creates a bond between the child and the rest of the family and therefore it is a highly auspicious occasion. This ceremony is usually performed on the 11th, 21st, or 27th day or all the way out in 3rd month from the date of birth. Also, it can be performed in an odd month of the baby’s age, but definitely before the first birth day.
In Hindu baby naming ceremony, many aspects are considered while naming the baby.
The Rig Veda prescribes the formula of giving a name with four components: the nakshatra (birth star) name, the name of the deity of the month, the family deity's name, and the popular name by which the child will generally be addressed. In certain communities, the first child is named after the paternal grandparent. Some name with the stars (nakshatra) that the baby was born, some name according to the alphabet associated with the nakshatra (example, for ASWANI- choo, che, cho, la like Choodamani, Chetan, Choti, and Lata). Very important though, the name is carefully selected from the names of Gods, auspicious objects, pious rivers that have a specific meaning. Belief is, if the name sounds good, the baby will get positive influence being called with such a name.
The mother is specially honored during the naming ceremony because she brought the child into the world. Parents ascertain a lot of importance to the ceremony as they greatly feel the responsibility of bringing up and developing the child into a worthy human being. The Namkaranam puja is either held at home or in a temple where the priest offers prayers to all the gods and to the Lord Agni (fire God), the elements, and the spirits of the forefathers, and entreats them to bless and protect the child.  
During the naming ceremony, all friends and relatives are invited. They get a chance to see the baby for the first time. Relatives and friends sing songs and celebrate the arrival of the child with fun and flavor. Usually in South India, the father spells the name out very first time and the name is written on rice spread on a silver or gold plate with a golden ring. Right after the name was given; the golden ring is dipped in milk and touches it to the baby’s lips with a mantra (like MADHURA VAAKBHAVA) by the father and mother. Elders in the family also perform the same.  It is a moment of all-round happiness if the baby smacks its lips. Both the grandmothers give gold to the child (usually, either a chain or a bangle).
After the ceremony a feast is usually arranged to mark the holy occasion and only vegetarian meals are prepared. As per Hindu traditions, performing these rituals during the baby naming ceremony is a must to make the future life of newborn baby prosperous.

"A man has three names: the name he inherits, the name his parents give him, and the name he makes for himself."
“Integrity: A name is the blueprint of the thing we call character. You ask, what’s in a name? I answer, just about everything you do.” 
-Morris Mandel

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring is in the air!

Historically spring starts on the day of the vernal equinox, which usually occurs on the night of 20/21 March. Vernal equinox-day and night are each approximately 12 hours long, with the length of the day increasing as the season progresses. Spring is a beautiful period when the wintry sun begins to turn warm, needless to mention the flowers blooming in full splendor. Traditionally India observes spring as Vasantha ruthu in Sanskrit (spring season). As per lunar calendar New Year is celebrated during this time, many regions associate festivals with spring season. Spring is the loveliest season in India, when the entire ambiance blooms in beauty and trees sprout new shoots. Spring season is the time when nature regenerates and everything is fresh and new with colors and fragrance. Mango tree blossoms, shrill loud calls of the koyal (Indian singing bird) pierce the tranquility of the morning. One of the earliest tokens of spring arrival is when the Forsythia is mantled with numerous yellow flowers even before the leaves, they are also called golden bells plants.
Remembrances of spring flowers will take me to my childhood, and at present my visit to the local arboretum. Zinnia and Dahlia were so common in my neighborhood, while I was growing up. We friends used to pluck Zinnias from one of our neighbor's house and run before they could see, to remember such acts seems funny now. Zinnias are perfect for indoor. Dahlia blooms are available in an abundance of shapes, colors, and patterns. We all know Jasmine is favorite flower all over the globe especially in tropics; its uncommon scent attracts everyone. Marigolds are bright while orchids have uncommon structure. Shasta daisy is the one of the common flowers I offer to God. My best pick of the spring flowers are tulips and daffodils. Tulips have the 3d place among the most popular flowers all over the world. The plant comes in an abundance of colors, sizes, forms and height. Daffodils are loved flowers by almost any gardener. In my middle school poetry class, I learned the poem of Daffodils by William Wordsworth. The 24 lines poem is expression of the feelings of joy, “I wandered lonely as a cloud…………And dances with the daffodils.” Since then I was hooked on to the poem and the flowers. I did not get a chance to see and feel fresh flowers, then. Now, not only I have a chance to see them fresh; my husband presents me with daffodils in this season. Now you know, why I chose daffodils picture in my post:-).
I have mentioned only a few of the spring flowers; you enjoy the ones you have in your area. Though the spring season stays for a very short span of time, it brings newness to the surroundings, enjoy it while you can before summer is here.

“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent or the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”
-Therese of Lisieux

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Holi!

Today is Holi-the festival of colors celebrated all over the world.  As per lunar calendar the festival falls on the full moon of the 12th month, as per Gregorian calendar February-March. Holi festival story brings out the unshakable devotion exhibited by Prahlad, son of Hiranyakashipu the king of demons. The other holi story is that of Lord Krishna and Radha, as a child and teenager Lord played holi with gopas and gopikas. Yet another story is that of Lord Shiva burning Kamdev. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad had when Demon Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Children to adults everyone enjoys throwing colors and colored water on each other in common places. Sometimes it takes couple of days to clean the colors on the body. Earliest reference of the celebration goes back to centuries, since ages kings also partook in these celebrations. Over a period of time the significance of the festival is lost, but throwing colors has remained as part of celebration. The festival is more prevalent in North India, now more common in all parts of the world. The places associated with Lord Krishna have festive celebrations up to 16 days. Traditionally, colors used during the festival are made of neem, turmeric, and other medicinal leaves. Earlier gulal (pink in color) was made out of dried seeds of flowers like the palash or the flame of forest. Nowadays chemicals are used in making colors, so try to buy natural colors or home- made to have an eco-friendly holi. A typical drink made of almonds, pistachios, and rose petals is offered to everyone while playing with colors. With Holi comes a sense of togetherness, young and old, girls and boys, all have the same excitement. Holi is the festival of color and joy. Enrich your life with COLORS!

Can't play with colors, no problem, enjoy a glimpse of festive mood.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Lanterns are a basic form of lighting that has been used for many hundreds of years. They are widely used as alternatives to candles in today’s modern age. It is estimated that in India alone, about 60 percent of rural households use kerosene lanterns for lighting their home. Though India is well connected to electric grid, many parts of the country have frequent and lengthy power cuts. These power shortages would affect more in summer and more so in the village and tribal areas. When we were growing we had to go through the same scenario more often. We used to light up the lanterns when there was power outage. It would be difficult for the women folk to take care of their household work, and as children it was difficult for us to concentrate on our studies in the dim light. We used to plan ahead and manage some part of the work during day time, but have bright light gives brighter sight to perform our activities. Cleaning the glass domes, maintaining the wick and kerosene for emergencies was a regular duty of my mother. Kerosene lamps were not only expensive but they were also inefficient and dangerous. Gradually battery powered lanterns entered the households, but huge population cannot not afford. In developed countries we see different kinds of lanterns with decorative accents.  Last week, I was seeing a documentary about solar lanterns, with the countries natural and abundant sunshine solar lanterns could be a practical and clean energy alternative to kerosene lamps in village communities. Today these lanterns are widely used for the excellent ambiance.

"I have a lantern. You steal my lantern. What, then, is your honour worth no more to you than the price of my lantern?”
-Epictetus quotes

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Knitting-an art form

Last week while I was in the library, I saw a lady returning a few knitting books. That reminded me of renewing my hobby which was in attic for quite some time. To many it seems like a silly hobby, but it helps keep traditions alive connecting women with their pasts. We always hear knitting as an answer for any charity or to help at the war front. Knitters help in a way, what they could for the victory and for the comfort of soldiers, by making socks, scarves, caps or sweaters. Knitting is done with single or multiple colored yarns or wool with the help of two pointed steel, wood, plastic or ivory needles.
As a beginner, I was eager to learn, master and start knitting as a project. I started learning knitting in my high school days, pestering my mom to teach. Starting smaller projects was easier to complete fast. Sweaters took months to complete. My mom used to guide me, she learnt all by herself she did not have books to guide her or look and follow the patterns. She created her own and taught me. Of course, some were trial and error. The good part in knitting is if something goes wrong or not correct, just remove the needles from the yarn and pull the yarn like a string. At that moment we feel all the work has gone wasted, but it is nice way to recreate perfect ones. This taught me essential life skill, like patience. Looking at the completed ones either I used or have given to others the joy of creating is always with me.
It has been long time since I took up knitting. Now, I have something to work with!

"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit, either."
-Elizabeth Zimmerman

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jump rope

Jump rope (American English) or skipping rope (British English) was integral part of recreation from ancient civilizations. Some say the jump rope was originated in China and some say in Egypt, nobody is hundred percent sure of the origin. Wherever it came from it is well known as playground game for children. There are various jump rope techniques that have evolved over time. Basic jump (single person or two together), alternate foot jump criss-cross, side swings, double and multiple unders, double Dutch. Double Dutch is played by two turners turn two ropes on opposite ends turning rope twice or thrice then a third or fourth person can jump in between, was introduced to America by the early Dutch settlers. As a child, I enjoyed learning and mastering different techniques. We mastered basic jump and loved playing similar to double Dutch but with single rope. There were and are individual and team competitions played in many school and other events. As any young girl I enjoyed skipping all the time. I had great fun while being competitive with my friends. My calf muscle used to hurt but that did not stop me from playing again next day. We used to sing some rhymes once the skipper starts jumping and end when the skipper is tripped. I was able to jump non-stop to the count of 500. We had competitions in school for the endurance and number of counts we could skip per minute. I was happy to win second prize for which I received a small gift. I was so proud to show it to my mom that day. We associate jump rope to girls playing during recess but now it is all around the world with no age/gender restrictions. Jump rope usage transformed from a pastime activity to a competitive sport to a cardiovascular workout.

I used to sing similar to this while a skipping game, the names were different.
Two players, one at each end of the rope.
"Two little dickie birds sittin' on the wall" the two players jump in 
"One named Peter, one named Paul" each player waves at their name 
"Fly away, Peter, fly away, Paul" the player exits the rope as name is called 
"Don't you come back 'till your birthdays called?" 
"January, February……….December" the player returns when their month is called 
"Now fly away, fly away, fly away all" players both exit the rope.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Independent-What it means?

Common man defines being independent as "I like to do what I want to do". Independent, the dictionary gives more than a dozen definitions as nouns and adjectives. As an young child when I was told either to do something or asked to stop doing something, I always felt, why my parents were not allowing me to do what I wanted. Sure enough, you all felt the same at some point in your life. As we grew, we felt that we were not on our own for anything and we were always dependent on others for everything. What a frustration!!! Since then we started thinking "when do I become independent", "why can’t I be on my own", "why does someone dictate me" "what to do and what not." These questions keep on adding up, but we look for ways to get away from them. "When I grow up, when I have my own job, when I am all by myself, I will be independent." Is it all? Can we really be independent after having all these? Apart from what we already have around us and taken for granted (air to breathe, water to drink, trees for shade, clouds for rain...), we are also dependent on living beings. Think for a minute that we are all by ourselves, but we cannot sit idle nor live aloof. We need a TV or a computer or a cell phone to spend (or kill) our time. See, we are dependent on some thing outside, that is technology. We need education to have good jobs, so we are dependent on schooling system. Don't we need a real world to find a job? Once we find a job we start piling up our dreams while struggling to fulfill all that we dreamt since childhood. To save our jobs we again depend on the means to cling on to it, by trying to overdo and impress our bosses. As if it is not enough, to have social life we look for friends, near and dear. We mutually depend on each other to have fun and fantasy. Sorry, I forgot about our emotional plane. We look for a good family life and the joy we get out of it. How about a "significant other" who can understand my emotions! The list goes on. These are your degrees of 'freedom', if I may say so. Now, are you really "INDEPENDENT"?  Think about it!

“Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.”
-George Bernard Shaw

Monday, March 14, 2011


Handkerchief is a small piece of fabric, usually square shaped, serves different purposes. The kerchief proved to be versatile article of clothing over the years. They were not new to people as they had been carrying a small cloth for blowing their noses, to wipe sweat on the forehead, to tie hair. However they were out of sight after using them. Somewhere in the 16th century the handkerchief was used publicly. Women with their exquisite dress/gowns started using handkerchiefs as status of fashion discovery. I was surprised to read that until 17th century the handkerchiefs were in different shapes like round, oval, rectangular, and so on. Later King Louis XVI of France made a law that all handkerchiefs must be square and remained square since then. I used to wonder why my mom makes only square handkerchiefs, now I know. My mom used to make and still makes embroidered, crocheted handkerchiefs. Since my childhood whether I used for a purpose or not it was fun having them in my dress pocket and showing them to my friends, they envied. I used it to raise my hair and tie with handkerchief, some tie it like a scarf around neck, some to the fingers as an accessory for some dance forms. Colloquially it was named hanky since late 18th century. Handkerchiefs for men were larger in size and less elegant unlike those for women. In modern times, handkerchiefs are folded and placed in the pocket of men suit jacket, preferably white. Brides carry heirloom handkerchiefs on their wedding day. Even today handkerchiefs are given as gifts to the wedded couple. During weddings, my family has a tradition that the guests along with a small keepsake would be given a handkerchief with the names of the bride and the groom either embroidered or printed on it.
I don’t know how many would be using handkerchiefs today versus the comfort of having disposable Kleenex handy. Using cloth handkerchiefs would be less wasteful and environmentally friendly too. The handkerchief is truly a timeless accessory.

Interesting tidbit: Revolutions sometimes go backward.
"HANDKERCHIEF, n.:The handkerchief is of recent invention; our ancestors knew nothing of it and entrusted its duties to the sleeves.Shakespeare's introducing it into the play of "Othello" is an anachronism: Desdemona dried her nose with her skirt, as Dr. Mary Walker and other reformers have done with their coattails in our own day-evidence that revolutions sometimes go backward."
-Ambrose Bierce