November 29, 2007

Tourism Desk Moron - 3

This is the last part of this series. For those who missed out on the previous two posts, you may wish to read it here: TDM-1 and TDM-2.


*


Jaipur in July can be warm and humid. So, more to cool off rather than anything else, I decide to get into Choki Dani's air-conditioned bar to have a beer. That is such a relief from the oppressive heat.


Ah, why does Raja Jawai Singh XIV not arrange for the roads in Jaipur to be air-conditioned as well? He can also arrange to banish people like TDM from getting into the City!


The bar is a regally decorated place with marble carved and gilded furniture. I feel like a member of the royal family to be sitting in such regal surroundings to enjoy. The next half hour is spent cooling off, sipping beer and admiring the place and the artifacts around.


There are a few imbeciles in this world who think single women are defenseless, in general, and especially those who have had an alcoholic drink. These ludicrous ones presume such women are vulnerable and can be taken for a ride. I have the confidence to handle ten such morons like you without any difficulty, do you get it, you cretin?


Needless to mention but I have some rules and discipline that I follow whenever I travel alone. To give one example, I'm careful not to have more than one beer such times. What I can consume and how I can be while in the sanctuary of my own home can be a topic for another post altogether.


TDM: Madam, do you know how much I earn per month blah blah blah it’s far more than people get paid here blah blah blah


There goes big mouth Raja Jai Singh VXXI of Jaipur. Why are you a TDM of that hotel then? How come you aren’t surrounded with your noble courtiers and dainty damsels fanning at you? Don’t make a futile attempt to impress me with your wealth. That is, if a few coins can be considered wealth at all. Your money does not attract me in the least, you nitwit. Not yours. Not anyone else’s.


And then, it is dinner time. As part of the entrance ticket, dinner is served free of charge in another part of Choki Dani to groups of tourists at a time including quite a few foreigners – sitting cross legged on mats placed neatly on the ground in rows. I happen to get a spot close to a Bengali family domiciled in Ajmer. During dinner I converse with them, and in particular with the boy who was sitting right beside me. In between a Canadian gentleman who was in the back row keeps turning his neck and joins in the conversation. I make him feel welcome. A tourist to my country. Is it that you find our conversation more interesting or did you have a fight with your girlfriend?


Dinner is yummy food served on leaves sewed together consisting of a variety of puris, a delectable variety of breads, and tasty preparations of dal and vegetables, culminating in some yummy sweets, all vegetarian and so delicious that I shall remember it for a long time.


After dinner, the trumpeter continues:


TDM: Madam, let me tell you the entire story of how well I took care of this lady blah blah blah she was so tired walking around whole day, she wanted a massage blah blah


Me: [interrupting] I'm not interested in the story.


What what do you think, you fool? Do you think just because I am quiet it is an indication that I am afraid to confront you? Idiot, you are so bloody boring I don’t want to bother to respond to you.


TDM: Madam, blah blah blah


Keep talking, some day you'll say something intelligent.


TDM: Madam, blah blah blah


Pardon me, but you've obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a damn.


TDM: Madam, blah blah blah


I don’t want to hold your behaviour against you because I realize your doings is not your fault alone. Surely it’s caused by a childhood trauma. May be your parents spanked you when you fell on your head and broke a cement brick.


TDM: Madam, blah blah blah


Now, it was getting too much. I think that’s enough. I've had plenty and it was time this stopped. I turn and glare at him and bombarded a few choice words. Wait, it was not just a glare. I give him such a “look” that if looks could kill, he would have been dead then and there.



Hush. Ah, the pleasure of silence. Someone rightly pointed out silence is golden. How long will this joy last? Should I be glad the moron finally gets the message? I delight in the peace and quiet for the rest of the Choki Dani experience. It continues to be so all the way back to the hotel except for an occasional question in a small squeaky voice to which he gets an answer from me - that is if I feel that he deserves it.


And then:


TDM: Madam, we are almost reaching. I live in the same hotel in room number blah blah on floor number blah blah. The hotel has given me free accommodation there blah blah


Me: [interrupt] Ok.


TDM: If you need anything anytime of the day or night, just dial me internally through hotel phone blah blah blah


Me: [interrupt] Ok.


Did you by any chance think I'd admire your audacity? Or bow down to your intrepidity? Hello dumbo, are you always this stupid or are you just making a special effort today?


We reach the hotel. Can you believe in spite of his gravelling conduct through the evening, I thank him? Accepting the key from the reception, and after the usual responses to good nights to everyone around, I go off to my room.


A leisurely shower is the first thing on my mind upon reaching the room, and soon I am comfy in bed. I make a few phone calls to my family and few friends and brief them on my whereabouts and happenings. In addition to other matters, I also share with them my experience of the first evening in Jaipur and my exasperation with the so called retard of a driver-cum-guide, the TDM. After a few good giggles at my friends' teasing and much laughter at some risqué comments on how I should have reacted at TDM's outrageous and bewildering behavior, I think it is time to settle down for a good night's sleep.


Having been busy at office till the last moment, subsequent flight from Kuwait to Delhi the same evening and then another journey the very next morning by bus from Delhi to Jaipur meant I was up and active the whole of previous night plus 2 full days – a total of almost 40 hours. If there is one such award for a passenger who stays fully awake on all her flights, I can easily win it.


So, I’m kind of jaded now and ready for bed. I switch on the bed lamp and as usual begin reading a book. This is necessary for me to unwind before I fall asleep no matter how dog-tired I am.


And then the phone rings.


FDM: Madam, do you need any help? I can come over to your room blah blah blah


That night, I murdered him.


*


Note: I know some of the humor (mostly that written in italics) in this post is written poking fun at TDM. However, I refuse to apologize to TDM. I also do not wish to plead guilty to murdering him.


PS: Thank you Anil P and Rambodoc for your request in comments section in this post and that which encouraged me to write this series of posts on TDM 1 to 3.

November 28, 2007

Tourism Desk Moron - 2

For those who missed out on TDM-1, it is here.

So, after thanking DB for his help, I bid him bye for the day at the reception desk as he left to his room. As for me, roused up at being in a new place, like always, immediately upon reaching, I start making inquiries with the FDM if I can explore any place in Jaipur that evening. It's around 5:30 pm then.

FDM guides me to the Tourism Desk of the hotel and introduces me to TDM who has a small office at the other end of the reception area. I get to know that Choki Dani is the only place I could go to since the program starts there in the evenings and lasts till almost midnight. I am overjoyed that I get to spend the evening fruitfully, rather than resting.

At times, especially when in a new place, I feel relaxing is a sheer waste of time. I’ve got one life, and life is short so got to make the most of it and live it to the full. I am lucky not to be fighting to stay alive this day. I have the health and the opportunity to actually choose to do what I wish this moment and so am doing just what I am passionate about. If stopping by the woods and smelling roses is my wish for today, I must do just that. Only thing is I must be wary of the bee entering my olfactory system!

Anyway, to get back to the topic, after a few brief inquiries, I make my decision and pay up for an experience at Choki Dani.

TDM: Madam, the car will be ready to take you in an hour's time.

Me: Thank you.

Approximately an hour later, after a good shower, some tea and snacks in the room, I proceed to the reception area to hand over my room key.

FDM: Madam, your car to go to Choki Dani is ready.

[Gestures towards TDM]

Me: Thank you.

TDM: Madam, the car is waiting outside for you.

[Points to a parked white car quite a distance away]

Me: Thank you.

As I walk towards the car, I sense FDM behind me and in no time he catches up. He starts a conversation and it becomes clear to me that he's off duty from that moment. As I reach my designated vehicle, he’s about to depart, hesitates for a moment and makes a mention casually that he has not been to Choki Dani at all. I instantly feel sorry for him. There I am - travelled from Kuwait and having just reached Jaipur – all set to explore the place. I often think of those people who can't afford to travel or seek entertainment for lack of resources to start with, if not for lack of interest or any other reason.

The chord of sympathy struck in me yet again. So, being the sentimental fool that I can be sometimes, I began to form mental images of this FDM having a large joint family with parents, grandparents, uncles, each with their 4 wives, a multitude of children, and all of them waiting for his salary to buy food to gratify the hunger of 25 hungry mouths. How can a man in such dire straits afford to waste his money to entertain himself at Choki Dani?

Me: I'm about to go there now, and the car is hired only for me. Why don't you check it out tonight if you wish to?

At this time, our moron, TDM reaches there and stops so close that I have to take a step back to steer clear of his breath nearby. Idiot. I would have taught you some manners and trained you if you were a new employee at my firm, but then I think teaching a chimpanzee would be far easier than you. Why have you abandoned your desk and come out, you moron?

TDM overhears me speaking to FDM. I notice a slight hesitation on the part of the FDM to accept my offer.

FDM: But my family is waiting at home .... [incomplete sentence]

He mumbles that unhappily. I shrug and let go of the matter then and there. At least I need not feel guilty anymore of enjoying the pleasures of travels while ignoring the wish of a man who had the responsibility of feeding 25 unfortunate and hungry people at his home!

Then TDM interferes.

TDM: But Mr. DB … [the sentence hangs in mid air]

FDM: Yes, Mr. DB. What would he feel if I were to accompany you in the same car?

So that's why he mumbled an excuse of his family waiting. Hey listen young man, I’ve exonerated myself by offering to help you fulfill what seems to be your hankering to be at Choki Dani as I had nothing to lose in the process anyway. Frankly, I do not care whether you come along or not.

TDM: Mr. DB would be upset if ... [incomplete sentence]

And then it became clear to me what FDM and TDM are trying to convey. To them, like with a few narrow-minded fools I’ve come across in my life, there can be only one relationship between a man and a woman if they are seen together at a hotel. The fact that they saw DB and me at the reception area earlier together made them presume I have some sort of a shady personal relationship with DB. So they were cautious in their approach with me. Dammit, why will I check into two separate rooms if that was the case? I have no qualms about sharing a room with whoever I wish to share it with. I've also shared rooms with friends while I have a platonic yet wonderful connection with them. But then, those are separate matters altogether and I shall try not to digress as I can see this post is already turning lengthy.

Anyway, I don't know why I bother to explain as I say:

Me: Listen, the fact that I got into the hotel with DB does not mean that I am travelling all along with him or that I have a personal connection with him. As far as I am aware, he's here on business as usual while I am a tourist here independently touring Jaipur.

The moment I utter those words I notice a change in attitude in both of them. Oh, body language conveys so much. FDM’s seems tolerable and TDM starts behaving like a Saint - A Saint Bernard.

TDM: (to the poor driver who is a mute spectator to all this drama) Go back. I will personally drive Madam to Choki Dani.

Hey, I am not scared of being alone with you or with anyone else here, ok? I am not one of your pallu-covered village belle who is vulnerable and scared of meeting a man’s eyes. This one here is fiercely independent and possesses steel grit. So don’t ever underestimate her strength, understand? I give a quick glance at FDM and he nods in a positive sign. After all FDM knows TDM better than me at least until that point in time.

TDM: (to me) Madam, I will drive you. I can be your driver-cum-guide.

You will drive me. Yes, you will drive me crazy soon at the rate you have begun. Why only driver-cum-guide? I guess the moron that you are, you can do the work of three - Curly, Larry and Moe. Yes, guides. I’ve seen enough of them during my travels. Some of them are as useful as a one armed trapeze artist with an itchy bottom.

FDM: (weakly and in a small voice) Madam, I could have accompanied you actually, you know.

Tough luck man. You got to learn to make quick decisions in your life. Opportunity doesn’t knock all the time. It is like a case of it does not matter how much milk you spill as long as you don’t lose the cow. You can put things off until tomorrow but tomorrow may never come.

I show no sign of acceptance or rejection and ignore them both. It takes few muscles to smile than frown and fewer still to ignore someone completely.

Other than voicing out firmly that I wish to start immediately, I let them sort it out. I chortle at the situation thinking I don't care if I have a guide or not, if FDM accompanies me or not, if TDM drives me or not, or if anybody accompanies me at all. Lately, I’ve got so used to travelling on my own, that I’m generally fine without any guide or help. All that I need now is a driver to take me around and bring me back to the hotel.

A quick discussion goes on between TDM and FDM. I am overhearing you, in case you are plotting to kidnap and then assassinate me. How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered? Simple. As important as me. My case is like Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares but there is a stupid song about him anyway.

At the end of the discussions and signing of the Treaty of Paris for peace between them, TDM gestures to me to sit in the car and FDM bids me a goodbye albeit with a tinge of sadness.

What follows then, in spite of TDM’s objurgating presence is a lovely evening drive to the village of Tonk with stop overs in between to admire the City. I soak in as much of the history and culture of the place as I could. I have a generally good time at Choki Dani, and being my first day on holiday, as usual, I am pretty energized especially about being in Rajastan, one of the culturally important cities of India.

Normally am able to gauge a person's nature, more or less, within a matter of few minutes of meeting that person and in this case, I have already made my own 'unimpressed' impression of TDM in a matter of few minutes of conversation with him. At the same time the ever patient under the most trying circumstances and tolerant me is the kind who does not express displeasure at anything or anyone until I am irked to a certain limit beyond which it’s calamitous for the person in front of me.

I start taking a few pictures but at a point, TDM captures my camera and keeps clicking away to glory. I let him while thinking I can delete unnecessary stuff later as am having a good time now, and since it has become quite dark, I won’t bother much with photographs. Moron. Appropriating my camera. Surely you are the kind who thinks that if electricity comes from electrons, morality comes from morons. And your idea of morality is holding on slyly to someone else’s camera and hoping I’ll forget to take it back from you.

TDM continues blabbering and his true colors come out, one by one. He does not know that I am aware of the careless words he’s uttering during his never-ending rants. Dimwit. You are the kind of person that one could use as a blueprint to build an idiot. Go see a doctor to have your head examined. If you did, the doctors would surely confirm there is nothing in there.

He spoke about his wife and children and how happy they are in his village. Of course, she’s happy. That’s because she is far away from you, you moron.

Normally, on travels I enjoy talking to strangers and unknown people. In fact, I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations with strangers during my travels. Moron, in your case it is different. I find you as interesting as watching paint dry.

TDM: Madam, you know there was this lady from blah blah ..she was traveling all alone blah blah blah

I hardly respond and mostly ignore all his sentences starting with the word 'Madam' which itself is irritating. But I do not wish to tell him to feel free of the formality lest he get the wrong message. So I have no choice but to manage with the word 'Madam' for the rest of the evening. Stay away from me you dimwit. Your very avatar shrieks out to be someone who is a stupid person's idea of a clever man.

TDM: Madam, do you know a few months back there was this lady from blah blah blah, an NRI who was in Jaipur touring all alone all over India ..blah blah blah

Yes, moron. I hear you. NRI. So? What do you expect me to do now? Give her a Bharat Ratna for bravery? Or arrange for her name to be recorded in the Guinness Book of Records?

On and on he keeps ranting. I hear him in bits and pieces until finally I almost “shut my mind” to his constant jabber. By the way I can do that. Shut my mind when I want to. I can sense ten people talking in a room and yet hear nothing if I don’t wish to – a talent that needs constant practice and honing, which I have been able to perfect over time. Want to try it sometime?

TDM: Madam blah blah blah

You tough-skinned nutcake. Does it not matter to you if someone responds to you or not? A conversation is not when one person talks. Twit. Can you stop blabbering?

TDM: Madam blah blah blah

I am busy now, can I ignore you some other time?



[to be continued]

November 25, 2007

Tourism Desk Moron - 1



Just as I thought I would wind up on my posts on Jaipur and continue with the rest of the posts I intend to write on my trip to Leh and the rest of Ladakh, Anil P asked me to share on a "single defining experience" of Jaipur and Rambodoc asked me to write on my "personal experiences with others" when I was in India.


With the above two requests in mind, I'll share a different kind of 'personal' experience I've had in Jaipur though I wouldn't want to term it as something 'defining.'


When my flight landed in Delhi, I made a couple of calls and to learn that my friends who were supposed to join me from other parts of India could not reach Delhi for another 3 days. The original plan was to meet up in Delhi and proceed to Manali immediately and subsequently travel to Leh and rest of Ladakh. "Do a bit of sightseeing around Delhi till we arrive" was the so-called helpful suggestion by them. Grrr. Spend 3 days wasting on sight-seeing a place I've already explored before? In 3 days I am capable of going on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and return safeIy. I've in fact done a quick world tour in minutes. Don't believe me? Have a look at this.


So, partly in annoyance at their delay to meet up on the appointed day, also in a gesture of defiance and more on an impulse, I decide to make a trip to Jaipur all by myself and return only after they reach Delhi. Finally, to cut a long story short, only one could make it to Delhi and that too only up to Manali and then had to rush back from there because of an unexpected serious illness in the family, but that's another story altogether. I've put up a few details of it in this post.


In that same post, I've written about a Delhi businessman ("DB") and a Lufthansa air hostess that I met during the bus journey from Delhi to Jaipur. The lady was going to her in-laws where her husband and little kid were waiting in particular and I felt good for her as she was looking forward to a family reunion.


I had not made prior reservations in any of the hotels in Jaipur and upon inquiries with DB, who is a regular traveller there, and after making a couple of phone calls through his help, I made a booking in the same hotel DB usually stays in, and subsequently, we were picked up by the hotel's mini-bus from Jaipur bus-stop to reach that hotel. That's how DB and I ended up at the reception desk of the hotel together.


So this piece of writing is about:

DB, the Delhi Businessman - a decent and interesting personality, with whom I spent more time over breakfast next morning beside the lovely swimming pool after the morning work-outs;

FDM, the Front Desk Manager of the Hotel - a helpful but 'cant-understand-him-much-and-I-don't-need-to-either' kind of personality; and

TDM, the Tourism Desk Manager of the Hotel (hereinafter my abbreviation to TDM shall mean Tourism Desk Moron) - a …. well, what can I say? Read on and figure out for yourself what he is.


[to be continued]

November 21, 2007

Poem: Give, Share, and Serve

I am perfect, the best, and am beyond anyone's reach is what I thought
Until I was shattered and then felt am flawed, and then perfection I sought
Thankfully over time, realized it's alright to be human, at times also dumb
Now know failures are acceptable, as long as I successfully overcome

Commit no fault, make no mistake is the only right path, I thought
Then came a time when I blundered and then off guard I was caught
Wished to escape from it all but no, time taught me to take a turn
Face the consequences, and with those incidents I did wisely learn

There's nothing to be afraid of, or ever alarmed of is what I thought
A few intimidating incidents then, and in those days to stay alive I fought
Now I know it is fine to fear but not make it the reason for downfall
Understand I have enough courage each day to live in the midst of it all

Am strong, I'll always succeed in all my life's journeys is how I thought
But then faltered, stumbled, also fell, and with anger I was fraught
Then realized failure in that journey is not the end, for victory, I must rise
Gather strength for each new day and live in cheer, that's life's best prize

No one is allowed to have the best of me is what I foolishly thought
Arrogant attitude does not help I soon realized the melancholy it brought
I understand now pride, vanity and insolence should not be my verve
Realize now the best gets out of me as I sincerely give, share and serve.


*

November 20, 2007

November 19, 2007

Another Tag Game

Sweet Chewy has tagged me for a game. It's simple and fun to play. Thanks Darlene.


Two names you go by (besides your given name):
1. Indicaspecies (in the blog world)
2. Cellu (a derivative of Celine, I guess)


Two things you are wearing right now:
1. Black trousers (am at work)
2. Formal blouse


Two longest car rides:
1. Delhi to Shimla (340 kms)
2. Kuwait to Saudi Arabian border, Khafji, and return (220 kms)


Two of your favorite things to do:
1. Travelling
2. Music, also while online (including blogging time)


Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. World Peace (ah, who wouldn't agree with me?)
2. HP DV6383EA Laptop (specifying, in case anyone would like to sponsor)


Three animals you have or have had:
1. Boxer (our dog in India)
2. Kunda (another dog in India)
3. Pirky (a pet turtle here)


Three Things you ate today:
1. Cheese (mostly for breakfast)
2. Chicken (almost daily for lunch)
3. Chocolate (yum)


Two things you are doing tomorrow:
1. Office (during the day)
2. Birthday Party (in the evening)


Two favorite holidays:
1. Eid-ul-Fitr (get lotsa holidays then so I can travel)
2. Christmas (the favourite of many others too)


Two favorite beverages:
1. Coffee (hot or cold, in the mornings)
2. Tea (hot or cold, in the evenings)



Four people I tag:
1. Pijush
2. Ananda
3. Tejas
4. Priyank


I also tag you. Yes, you who is reading this. It’s your turn now. Go right ahead and post your response. Please let me know when you do. Thanks. Have a nice day.


November 16, 2007

Memories of Jaipur

The last set of pictures randomly shot in Jaipur city.


A street scene

Gate to Jaipur City Palace


Shri Ramchandra Ji Temple


Gardens in the city with watercourses


Gate to City Palace

Handicrafts at the Rajasthani Emporium


November 15, 2007

Jaigarh and Nahargarh Forts

For those travellers interested in the majestic past of India, the Jaigarh Fort of Jaipur is a good destination. Known also as the "Victory Fort," Jaigarh Fort is located at a comfortable distance of 15 kms from the city of Jaipur.

The journey to the Fort includes a climb passing through forests. I watched the locals scaling the climb effortlessly even as the SUV I was in was struggling to gather momentum at the steepness at certain points. I stopped on the way and decided to stroll in the peaceful and inviting woodlands.

Peacock in the wilderness

Except for the sound of occasional vehicles passing on the road in the distance (where the SUV driver-cum-guide waited for me patiently), I enjoyed the walk through the wilderness for almost an hour. I particularly loved the solitude watching the movement of birds and animals. Sometimes they scurried past in spite of my quiet steps. It was an out of this world feeling to be all alone, in a remote corner of the world, listening to the sweet sounds of the many birds there. Upon returning the driver-cum-guide expressed his disapproval for exploring deep into the forest for so long, and that too, all alone.


Isn't he cute?

The Fort offers a wonderful view of the city below, which my camera was unable to capture well. (The unskilled, but earnest, photographer blames the camera).

Jaipur City view

Jaigarh or Fort of Victory was constructed by Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1726. Jaigarh Fort was used as the treasury of the royal family of Jaipur.

The Diwa Burj watchtower offers an excellent viewpoint from where tourists can look across the town.


There is a massive wheeled cannon by the name of Jaivan, which is believed to be the largest cannon in the World and the main attraction of the Jaigarh Fort.

This Fort is on top of the hill, while Amber Fort is at the bottom. Many people regard the two as one complex however both of them are well connected with well guarded passages. Jaigarh Fort was made to tighten the security of Jaipur and Amber Fort, and due to this fact, some do not find this fort as artistic as other forts and palaces, but I found it certainly has its own charm.


Jaigarh Fort shot on the way down to Jaipur City

Nahargarh Fort is the first of the three forts built by Maharaja Jai Sawai Singh of Jaipur. The Fort stands at the top of rugged point of the Aravalis and offers a spectacular view of the City. The Fort was made to serve as a means of supporting the security of Amer. The term Nahargarh refers to “the Abode of Tigers” so it is also known as the Tiger Fort. The Fort was constructed mainly in 1734, however further additions were made to it, by the succeeding rulers in the 19th century.

Nahargarh Fort

There are numerous buildings situated inside the Nahargarh Fort and amongst them, Madhavendra Bhawan appeals the most. It was built by Sawai Ram Singh II and has a series of interconnected rooms with colorful corridors and hallways.

One of the many beautiful corridors

The geometrically designed Nahargarh Fort looks its best in the night, when it is dazzlingly lit and forms a remarkable backdrop of Jaipur.


Jaigarh and Nahargarh Forts stand as symbols of the royal heritage of Jaipur and speaks of its majestic past. A visit to these Forts made my trip to Jaipur a memorable one.

November 14, 2007

Mani, Prayer Wheels of Ladakh

The Buddhist place their Prayer Wheels (called Mani) in monastries, temples, libraries and sometimes in public places and turn them at every opportunity to invoke the blessings of compassion, protection, harmony, prevent natural diseases and promote peace in the world.

The prayer wheel is of a hollow metal cylinder, often beautifully embossed, mounted on a rod handle and containing a tightly wound scroll printed with a mantra. Attached to the cylinder is a lead weight with a chain, which facilitates the rotation. The Buddhist prayers (
mantras) are printed or etched on the cylinder.

Prayer Wheel of Diskit Gompa, Nubra Valley, Ladakh


The prayer wheel combines a mantra, "Ohm Mani Pradme" [Om the Jewel in the Lotus Hum] numbering six syllables in the mantra of Avalokitesvara with a movement. The syllables are carved outside the wheel as well as kept inside the wheel printed in the paper in numerous numbers.

The correct way of meditative movement (mudra) is attained by spinning the wheel clockwise (click picture below) with a certain wrist movement. Inside the prayer wheel is a scroll with the mantra
Ohm Mani Pradme repeated 50 times.


Prayer Wheels of Thiksey Monastery, Leh, Ladakh


According to myth, spinning the wheel by one revolution will evoke 50 blessing. One can easily attain 1000 blessing per minute by appropriate spinning of the wheel. It is interesting to watch the little children moving the Manis with the correct wrist movement and the right amount of force.

There are also hand held prayer wheels, called Chokhor in certain places, which are normally hollow wooden or metal cylinder attached to a handle.

Prayer wheels vary in size and type. In Ladakh, it is common for bucket-sized prayer wheels to be lined up on wooden racks along walking paths circling monasteries and other sacred sites, for the benefit of visiting pilgrims.

The Buddhist believe that the prayer wheel is also useful for illiterate members of their lay community, since they believe they can "read" the prayers by turning the wheel.


November 13, 2007

November 12, 2007

Diwali in Kuwait

Lit up complex

Presently, local religious and cultural festivals of India that were celebrated by one community is, more or less, celebrated by the rest in some form or the other. For example, neither a Hindu nor Muslim, I could enjoy celebrating Diwali and Eid, as much as I would probably if given a chance to with other festivals around the world.

What used to be a celebration of Diwali for relatively private sphere of ritual and sacred performance has now become a public and mostly secular display of celebrations. Celebrating Diwali in Kuwait has become a mainstream public manifestation of being “Hindi” (Arabic term for ‘Indian’) and though the term is sometimes used disparagingly, somehow I’ve not once felt less dignified in being called a “Hindi.” (I believe in the adage that ‘no one make you feel inferior without your consent’ – Eleanor Roosevelt.)

F
estivals are a perfect occasion to renew one’s ‘Indianness’ and I spent this weekend celebrating Diwali, mainly with dear friends, one of whom belongs to a loving Rajasthani family, wearing an ethnic salwar-khameez and the usual accessories that go with it, instead of the usual jeans and Ts.

As
we were animatedly chatting, I could sense a distinct sense of nostalgia. There was no paucity of topics to discuss on India, its customs and traditions, its cultures not to mention the feelings of the memories of the past that evoke at these festive occasions. It felt good to see the NRIs trying to cheer each other up through the longing for the feel of India and actually succeeding!

Jhumpa Lahiri in her book 'The Namesake' has tried to capture the feelings of the Indians abroad in her book where Gogol goes exploring his Indian heritage and Mira Nair has portrayed it in her film, The Namesake, where one could sense the second generation also continues to feel a sense of detachment and aloofness. However, I do not feel like how Gogol did.

I am
distinctly aware of my identity though I still claim to be a citizen of the world. Over the years, I kept thinking a daisy is a daisy no matter which part of the world’s soil it has sprung up from. Now I think that each daisy blossoms from a plant that has its own spot where its roots are embedded. It draws its strength from that spot. I have a sense of continuing to be rooted to my land.

So
through the colourful rangolis (colourful floral patterns) and beautiful home decorations, noisy firecrackers and striking fireworks, strings of illuminated lights and elaborately decorated balconies of homes, ethnic clothing and flickering lit-up diyas (oil-lamps) in rows, delicious Diwali sweets and authentic Indian cuisine, and all through the cheerful moments with that warm Rajasthani family, I still miss India!

After
all, regardless of wherever an Indian might be on the globe phir bhi dil hai Hindustani (after all, the heart is Indian).

PS: The Indian Diaspora, currently estimated to exceed over 20 million spread across more than 100 countries, is perhaps the most widespread and heterogeneous than any other, with its half a dozen religions and sub-ethnic identities. A recent estimation of the number of Indians in Kuwait is approximately 300,000.