Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Holi - the thanda (cool) festival

Picture picked from www.hindustantimes.com

Holi is a big festival in India and really enjoyable. Its all water & colours all day long. Pretty similar to Songkran in its style.

Its a spring festival . Also the Hindu New year for many. Its also connects with the legend of the duel between King of demons - Hiranyakashipu & his son, but also the devotee of Lord Vishnu - Prahlad.

The second day is spent throwing water colors and powder colors on each other and strangers. Its especially risky to walk through those 'inside city' areas between tall buildings - you never know when a water filled baloon bangs on your head!!

Holi was the most fun when we were in Hostel. Each year, this time, a full drum of Bhang would be concocted. Bhang Thandai is a mix of Milk, Sugar, almonds, fruits, various leaves and yes... & the little but key ingredient - cannabis. (it looks so wrong describing it in English?) You can actually see a recipe of this drink at this site.

The entire hostel guys would line up and be served their Bhang drink which was gulped down deep. 2,3 - 4 glasses...

Picture picked from http://www.photoslagarde.com/

Everything is fine. No one does anything funny... until after 40 minutes or so. And all hell breaks loose.

Someone begins laughing and thats all he does on and on. Someone thinks the sky is falling. Someone just sits in a corner. Someone falls in love with every moving item around him. Imagine 100s of people, in their rooms, on the streets - students, workers ... even teachers - all so!!!

Its hard to describe how funny it can get... The entire city, elevate 500 m above sea-level.

I remember when we were kids at home, how my cousins ate the small pakodas (like cultets) not realising they were holi special and included bhang ingredients and for the adults. The next I remember the guys holding their pants in their hands on the road because they could not button them up after visiting taking a leak!!! And they were giggling. Both of them... and walking in the middle of the street. LOLz!!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A massage for the Forbidden City.

Last full week I was in China! A sudden trip that took me right into Beijing. But the day before that I had just become better but the muscle or nerve somewhere in my left bum was aching a lot and I could hardly bend. And the idea of flying all this distance was scary - what if I cannot get up finally!

So, my friend told me I needed an Ayurvedic massage - the first massage I would ever get in my life! All these trips to Thailand all these years at home, never found me on the massage bed. But here I was the next morning, with an empty stomach ( as prescribed) and walked into the room. The person requested me to remove my clothes and start by sitting on the bed.

As I sat on the elevated bed, the massage person took warm oil in his hand and bent down to say a prayer. And a purposeful environment was created where I was sure I am in very good hands.

The bed I lay on is a curved one so that if I move off-centre my body slides the right or left edge. And as the massage progresses and the oil all over you, it really needs work to remain in the centre! Especially, when he picks up speed in rubbing the oil across your body sides.

An array of oils were used. And then he asked me as to where was it was hurting me. I located the spot expecting him to put some pressure there or do some special bending exercises with my legs - but all he did was rub the oil and massage it across the length of my body with the point in the centre. He explained that in their system they will not apply pressures or muscle pressing tactics to releive pain. instead they work on the system to unweild itself - that way no secondary damage takes place while revealing the current pain. And that I must come back again to complete the course.

I felt quite invigorated as the massage was over. And I went home and rested as requested. Next morning when I woke up the pain was so deep and hurting that I could not get up!! I almost crawled to the toilet!! But within the next 30 minutes everything was over and - no pain at all!!!

In the evening, I was flying to China.

Now, every Indian in the past compared itself with China. One to one we like to believe we are smarter. Just the way Britishers thought when they first came to Asia? But if you see Chinese cities today, India is miles and miles behind. We can hardly compare.
Typical Chinese Symbols. I purposely took this pic. But China does not feel like this. Its nice place.

But I felt very much at home there. People were nice. And it saddened that our countries have mistrusted each other in the past. There are so many chinese living in India and I think culturally we are very similar, but do not know.

Unfortunately, the trip was packed with official schedule so I hardly soaked in anything. I visited the local market with fake brands alongwith a colleague from Korea. I hate shopping and she never bargained in her life. So, we were two naive people, but then we were pre-warned and breifed. So, we went in with a plan and a brave face. She and me began bargaining on a piece of sunglasses with the shopkeeper. It started at 500 RNB and I said 50RNB as planned. The guy said 350 and she said 100 to him. This continued until we just could not take the game anymore and burst out laughing and suddenly the shopkeeper too and everyone around us and we just went on and on... with the crowd around us wondering what was going on.... And we tried to keep bargaining whenever we could stop the burst of laughter. Finally, it was too much to take any more and we stopped at 170RNB and bought the glasses - Oakey brand!

We later went to the Forbidden city which was closing in another hour - around 3:30 pm. So, we rushed in the biting cold and try to cover as much as we could. Great place. My camera batteries were draining quickly but I managed a few pics.

There were 10,000 quarters in the Forbidden city I am told. And 3500 concubines. Some may have died virgins.


The King's Throne... if I am right.

I returned this Saturday to Bangalore City where the Airport is like almost dysfucntional. You have to wait for the Taxis, for you luggage and the streets are jammed! And this is the most happening city in India!! The hotels cost here as muchs as 500 USD at times!!!

But where else can I get such a fine massage? As prescribed I was back there this morning. This time I was more relaxed but he probed the area on my back where it used to hurt and made me realise that the problem was not yet over - the pain lay deep inside in form of a latent fatigue . He mentioned that I must eat properly & be disciplined, because if I keep rushing each morning and spoil my 'motions' we stress our nerves and muscles in the area on our back. And I now realise how true he speaks.

By the way the oil he uses ends up leaving a strong smell that stays on your body for 2-3 days. I do not mind it, but one of my friends will not come near me for the day! But believe me the effect is real. I feel really active and inspite of work tensions and all... I feel like doing more!

So, I am back now. Following my Chinese Trip my Royal Orchid points are up and healthy - close to getting me a free ticket to Thailand and back!! Now, only if I could get free time. I do not want to go to Thailand for any less than 20-30 days. Going for 5-6 days is heartbreaking. I start counting the days as soon as I land!

Moreover, I never mentioned, but my last trips to Thailand were aimed to relieve me from a relationship without hurting someone - who according to others was hurting me!! But I am very careful when dealing with living things. So, now I am over all that and the next time, I hope I can get out of the 5 sqkm of Bangkok and venture deeper into the loving country!