I’m not Kadi-chawal 

image courtesy:Google

Mama what is new, there for lunch today? My little one was still cribbing , seeing Dal, roti, rice and curd displayed on the dining table. I was lost in retrospect , after all you could not comply with everybody’s demands especially the kids of today, who have no dearth of choices , and so henceforth home made food is least appetising for them.

Yes I could not make everyone happy , after all I’m not kadi-chawal, yes a simple yet relishing dish which Amma made with so much ease, and all of us , the coterie of cousins ,were left fingerlicking and wanting for more. It acted as a chicken soup for hungry souls, which would make even a toothless geriatric to salivate. 
But now , it was a herculean task , to break the monotony of everyday home food ,for the kids of today.

Or was it the taste that mattered, well of course , a simple pakora Kadhi and basmati rice ( cooked once in a while) tasted heavenly.
Though I have attempted to make it number of times but nothing successful has been achieved so far.

The luxurious lunch of childhood , the generous dollops of ghee, the flavours taking control of my taste buds and the table burgeoning under the weight of delicacies with steaming aroma was spread all across the ancestral home but a distant dream now. 
How painstakingly she cooked for the entire family, the bout of nostalgia always hits me, when ever I attempt my most favorite dish, but not even my mother could be anywhere close to what Amma cooked.

A little perplexed, I confronted my relatives including Ma and mausis, as I felt cheated with the recepies handed over to us by Amma. As something was a miss, what ever theoretical in form of hand written recepies and practically performed on the hearth was not upto mark, the result and end product was no where close to what lip smacking delicacies were made by Amma.
Was it a peculiar case of a closely guarded secret, had she intentionally omitted a few ingredients here or there to keep her legendary stuff intact.
The magic of her home cooked meals, her culinary prowess to suit palates was something we all were lacking .

Her tried and tested recepies were doing   

us no good, may be the specifications for spices and condiments to be used as ground or roasted were not revealed by Amma, may be she wanted her progeny to conduct their own experiments and discover for themselves. Or was it done intentionally, so that we all in search of that perfect taste kept asking and bumping into each other.
Was it to keep the family bonds intact , so that siblings could keep meeting each-other x, through these old age recepies.

Or was it in accordance with the Legendary stories, where in old times, daughters of the royal families were forbidden from entering the kitchens of their household, as they would spill the beans of these ancient recepies, once they got married. Therefore, by hiding one or two significant ingredients, they shielded their royal recepies.
May be she had given us incomplete recepies, in bits and pieces, to put the jigsaw puzzle together , for a perfect dish , for which an amalgamation of family was required.
Yes she was a ‘ mistress of spices ‘, but we are still struggling for that treasure box, the hunt is still on. Was it her magic wand or her ammunition box or that steel container which was the answer to the magic potion created by her and made cooking less intimidating. 

May be answer lies in her spice box, with all ingredients , ranging from powdered spices to Kadha masalas to condiments ,she knew the secret recepie of a successful dish, which implied a right mix of all ingredients, a simple yet honest cooking and garnished with generosity. 

For sure these were her secret spices to successful cooking and food served with oodles of love, where the whole family came together for meals, and like last supper believed in sharing and eating together. Simple yet appetising kadi-chawal was relished and became a vital source of Ammas love, keeping everyone content and happy.
Bon Appetit

Being a Pet owner and a Pedestrian 

It’s an early morning walk to refresh and rejuvenate myself , outside the compound of my posh colony. I take my leisurely steps towards warm-up, and sheepishly look around at my fellow homosapiens , who arealso   mostly accompanied with their four pawed furry friends of various breeds and sizes , as they have become an integral part of our social status , but then, they also happen to be a man’s best friend, though ,I cannot say vice versa .
As masters and helpers take their canine mates for the morning rounds along the boundary walls , which can be seen adorned with pictures of Gods of all religions and faiths , may be indicating to us , the message ” that Cleanliness is next to Godliness “.

“, But sigh, despite of expensive high bred dogs , they lift up their legs at that very place. 

 Poor owners, they feel so cheated, they have taught their dogs to shake paws , sit , sleep and fetch, but not been able to control them with pee and poop , alas ! what can be done when it is ‘nature’s call’.

Well, they can only act ignorant and move ahead, may be accepting the fact that “God’s in the heaven, and everything is all right in the world”.
But as I moved ahead, something had gone definitely wrong with me, rather drastically wrong, oh no!! I had taken a wrong step, and now there is no looking back. I was more embarrassed than the ‘walk the dog’ guy , who was acting ignorant despite of knowing , what shit had happened with me. But then, this was not the first time that I had landed on the wrong side of the road . The occult happenings were regular to me, so how could I blame the poor guy or girl, who were busy multitasking, as their hands were full, with the leashed pullers on one hand and attending mobile phones from their other hand.
As I rubbed my shoes on the green grass , it made me realise that it’s good to have green grass on the other side as well, sometimes though. 

I had to be vigilant enough myself, to avoid these unwanted souvenirs, every now and then.

Robert Frost was wise enough ,when he said “Good fences make good neighbours ” but with slight variation for now, as we hardly know the next door neighbor in today’s day and age, except when the tail wagger comes out and performs his job near our gates , which may lead to a dog- fight, between the never seen or heard neighbours , further ensuing into barking like dogs. A few cuss words here and there , where the favorite one is, pertaining to the poor pet itself, who doesn’t even realises and now caught is caught between the war of words.
Poor animal doesn’t understand, that his masters who bought him, keeping his pedigree in mind and feed him with same, could not carry a single carry bag and scoop the poop. Well may be, it’s their sheer ‘dogmatism’.
Love of the dog lover , the human kindness , here does not include cleaning the waste product of the pet.

If animals were capable of cleaning themselves then won’t have been strapped by their so called owners.
We flaunt our pets on social sites, put their display pictures on our cell phones ,but feel embarrassed and ashamed to clean their poop performed at public places.
Poor canine wonders where is ‘love labour lost’ of their owner,at such times.
At least they, themselves cover up their act by throwing some mud on it ,with the help of their hind legs ,but we humans leave no stone unturned , we indulge in mud slinging , we are pretentious while wielding the broom for the clean India act , broom swapping sessions are limited till paparazzi peeps in, but beyond that we truly believe that charity not only begins at home ,but is limited till home only. Indoors are kept clean, spic and span , but then , the threshold of our houses are our Lakshman rekha, beyond that we cannot move or step, and so the filth is scattered outdoors. Rest we complain and crib about the ‘poor civic sense’, , deliver sermons on hygiene and sanitation, but ourselves , we are too much smitten by the litter bug, some of our men folk feel so much hesitant to flush or rush to the toilets at public places,that they just empty their bladders in open.
No spitting or littering have just become a part of forward folklore messages, but what we preach, do we practice also , we shun the responsibility of our own created mess, so how do we take the responsibility of our chained best friend.

Dear pedestrians, the fault lies in our stars, when we are lucky , we come out clean, otherwise we land ourselves on the dump and become the golden receiver of the unwanted stuff.

 Remember ,Next time when you walk in dog friendly neighbourhood, Mind your steps, one giant leap may end you in a puddle.  

And if you are destined for so, just be like our chained canine companion, ‘throw some grass over the shit and move on’.

Trenches of RR Hill

.Early morning start from Guwahati, being in a civil hired vehicle, as a part of large Army convoy, the only thing which came to my mind was a phrase “a rolling stone seldom gathers moss” and so here I was , travelling to reach my destination .As being part of Army life never let’s a dull moment in. The life in the Army , takes us to places, which one would not even think of travelling to, in wildest of their dreams.
But then this is the beauty of travelling the country, as Army life comes with its own set of perks and privileges . 
As my journey began, Karupetia in Assam, became my first halt, moving further towards Tejpur, I realised the importance of the place, in terms of a military establishment, as , till this, very place, the Chinese army marched, during the aggression of 1962. Next, As I crossed, the place , called Balukpong, it was time to say goodbye to the long plain roads, as the hills welcomed me , with densely forested areas and banana plantings along the road side with regular water falls on the way, but not a single roadside vendor or kiosks on the way to be seen, except for the hardworking hill folk pedestrians .The tiresome hill journey with twists and turns accompanied with motion sickness and bumpy ride continued till we reached our next halt, called ‘ Sessa’ , for lunch . As I moved beyond Sessa,

  along the roadside , there were end number of epitaphs in the memory of the people , who met with accidents, reminding us about the road safety norms, and cautionary warnings for the drivers.. , . As I touched the place called Tenga, one was welcomed with colourful flags and symbols pertaining to Buddhism, but still the journey appeared to be never-ending, with each hair-pin turn, I became restless , by the time I reached Bomdila, I was only cribbing and cursing my luck, to be struck in this corner of the country. All I could do now, was to just hit the bed and wait for the morning to happen , but that too happened a bit early, as Arunachal Pradesh is known as the land of rising sun, and so I was welcomed by the first rays of the Early Sunrise.

As one took to expoloring the place, one could see ladies carrying babies strapped to them, with pink cheeks and running noses clung to their mothers like baby monkeys, but the women-folk in their Bakku looked absolutely adorable , the older lot was the most hard-working, carrying the wooden logs on their backs, and walking for miles. 
  The upper and lower Gompa of Bomdila with vibrant and colourful flags and soothing sound of the prayer wheels , with monks soaking the sun, made the place all so calm and serene, but something vital was yet to be explored. Bomdila is also known for other reasons as well , as it registers the presence of heavy military establishment here. It is the same place which along with Tawang and Rupa saw major Indian resistance, during 1962 Chinese aggression . The memories of which are still fresh in the minds of the people here, as it was hard times for them, the locals. However the Arunachali’s, took it with pride and honour as they helped Indian soldiers to fight against all odds, against the intrusion of Chinese soldiers. Stories of war have become, the tales and folklore’s here, elderly so fondly recollect the happenings of the past, stories being handed down from one generation to another.
   For Indian soldiers it was a prolonged war against enemy , hostile terrain and biting cold , as we look into the history, we see that in the autumn of 1962 , Tawang fell to the invading Chinese people liberation Army 

 And in Bomdila, then , the Headquarter of Kameng frontier division, there was sheer panic.

.Though the place is abundant with the Heroism of our jawans, who fought without appropriate clothes and rubber boots in such hostile conditions, in freezing temperatures, that too, unprepared. The spot where this all action took place is known as R.R hill now.

 R.R hill stands witness to the Chinese aggression, it also holds within itself the the courage , valour and sacrifice of Subedar Pritam Singh, who kept holding the position till the last. The trenches are witness to the history, which look, as they have been freshly dug up, the valiant young officers, who fought without any logistics support. Their names are etched in the history, details of bravery, the direct confrontation with the invaders, but mostly died while retreating ,as the orders came, but along with them their heroic tales lingers on for decades , as well as of the locals here, who are not to be sidelined , as they carried food for the jawans on mules, then.
.The memorial at the hill is dedicated to the 

soldiers, who laid down their lives, who fought the icy cold winds, the ones who faced the extremity of the nature , how unprepared soldiers fought a war with Chinese in freezing temperatures , even the Chinese soldiers walked for days without food , just surviving on the wheat dough, and reached Bomdila , and now this place is witness to the history, when the Chinese infiltrated behind the Indian lines by launching multi-directional attacks, as they caught our soldiers unaware , but still had to face stiff resistance from the platoon of I Sikh LI under SubedarPritam Singh.

Though the platoon fought ferociously, it lost most of its men. Subedar Pritam Singh despite of his bullet injuries, outnumbered the enemy and refused to be evacuated and fought bravely against them. When the situation became grim, he and his men with their bayonets unsheathed, emerged from their trenches with the war cry ” Wahe Guruji ka Khalsa, Wahe Guruji Ki Fateh.”
Now, As I see, around me , along with the memorial, lies the trenches , the observers of the historical event , which changed our equation with our neighbours forever. But apart from this , the trenches, reminds me of the blistered hands of the soldiers, which must have ached while digging them, but then so tired at the end of the day, these constraint spaces must have served a wide purpose, as they also acted as beds for the exhausted souls, while they slept peacefully. Yes, they are still lying here as a witness to the happenings of the past, have acted as frontiers as well as power points , have supported arms and ammunition’s, life line in the form of supply points, as it was through these trenches the soldiers were provided their ration , one may also find the old scraps of tin cans here, in harsh weather these trenches acted as a shield for the soldiers, dawn to dusk, as boredom persisted accompanied with fatigue and exhaustion , the only source of recreation was letters from the home , read and re-read by these soldiers in the narrow trench , by the candle light. In the final moments, while bleeding to death, the moans of the wounded men , their war cry, all was soaked by the soil in the trenches, as their dust covered bodies lay in between these spaces, these confines have now become the markers and makers of the history.   

  ” To save your world you asked this man to die:

Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?

The trenches are reminiscent of the world of sacrifice and courage of our valiant soldiers and as one visits these trenches spread across the Pass, they remind us :

” Their shoulders held the sky suspended;

They stood and earths foundations stay;

What God abandoned, these defended,

And saved the sum of things for pay”

A .E Housman

Divine intervention at Kamakhya temple 

For all those travelling to North-East , your trip would be considered incomplete, if one does not visit the famous Kamakhya temple in Guwahati( Assam).Kamakhya is also known as the bleeding or menstruating Goddess, this temple is not only for the devotees , but also for many history lovers, as it encompasses with in itself archaeological wealth of ancient India.
The legend goes, that this is the very place where Devi Sati’s vagina and womb fell, when Lord Shiva performed Tandava (destructive dance) holding the body of his wife Sati.

Lord Vishnu in order to calm down Shiva, swung his Sudarshan Chakra and cut Sati’s body. The place where her reproductive part fell, came to be known as Kamkhya. The middle chamber of the temple leads the way to the cave, like a sanctum, that bears the vagina shaped cleft on a stone and an underground spring flows through this cleft, also known as Garbhagraha (womb) hence it is considered as a famous pilgrimage. Apart from this , stories of Shiv and Sati’s romantic encounters pertaining to this place are also prevalent. So the place also becomes symbolic with fertility, love, romance and strength of a woman.

It was amazing to see that the temple highlighted the menstruating Goddess, a temple dedicated to natural cycles of a woman and its significance. During the month of June the temple is closed for three days as it is believed that the goddess menstruates for those days and on the fourth day the doors of the temples are opened, all this while no prayer takes place, the pilgrims only seek blessing from the small spring coming out of the Garbhagraha , in form of a small stream, which is believed to be flowing with menstrual blood.
Well apart from these amazing facts, what drew my attention was for some other reasons as well, rather shocking ones , because in a country like ours where even to go out and buy sanitary wear for ladies is a source of embarrassment and talking about mensuration is a taboo, here is a temple which is completely dedicated to the bleeding Goddess and her productivity.
  But it also made me realize that ,Places of worship at times divide us on religious grounds , at times on our sexuality and most of the times on our social status.
A temple highlighting the strength and power of a women was also not untouched by the frills attached to the V.I.P (very important person) culture. Well we are aware of the red beacon syndrome spread in our country, the high and mighty known for throwing their weight around to an extent that even the ‘House Of Gods’ are no different.
Yes this culture can be seen in places of worship too, that too in epidemic proportions.

On one hand we have not forgotten our history of playing subservient to Britishers, which still lingers on , and on the other hand some people still behave as the Mughal Monarchs, even if it is at the places of worship.
Yes one could witness the Darshan on priority basis here too, various counters for the ones with extra constitutional powers, the ones who were ready to shed an extra paper notes, in the times of demonetization could be seen buzzing with seekers of the divinity.  

The ones who did not want to witness the odorous heap of thronging devotees all lined up for the blessing through normal channels. The ones who did not want to come out of their comfort cocoons, they were now the first ones to take a dip of faith, hardly able to differentiate between a river or a sewer now. But yes they had found an escape route, whether it was on tax-evasion or back door entry to the holy place.
Here in the house of Gods , nobody was higher than the kings of today, not even the Goddess herself. The first row of visitors, who were busy proliferating the very important culture could be seen thronging the temple . Well they had all the reasons to flaunt their power, as special arrangement for entries were made for them, the cavalcade of the mighty ones created barricades and blockades for the onlookers, who were all caged up, waiting for their share of offerings in the temple.
The bystanders like me, in the name of protocol were stranded for hours, making us somewhat similar to the pigeons caged outside, kept for sale in the temple premises.

Here were we, amongst many who had sold their faith for an easy access but sighting of the deity was long and arduous process, still. All devotees appeared more like the hens in a poultry farm, fighting amongst themselves for breaking or jumping the line, even the children were not to be spared. At regular intervals the whistling guards kept you moving and at times embarrassing you by their constant screams of chalo-chalo (keep moving) in that serpentine Que, which left us flabbergasted. It was then , I wished there was some divine intervention or I was a VIP, who did not have to face such things, but on the other hand the important ones were rather blessed with special blessings by the priest himself, here for them the route was a short cut , like instant two minute-noodles, but the darshan (special offering) was done with immense patience, and now they were in no hurry, unlike us, who were shooed from one corner to another.

I pondered over the poor state of the ordinary man, those who are always found standing in long lines whether it was of the ATM’S during money crunch or of a temple , a pious powerful place like this, and feeling like the lesser mortals or representing the hapless strata of the society.
How could I forget, that with great power, comes great responsibility and so the powerful were more responsible for paying their obeisance at sanctified religious places.
  God is the answer to all our problems, we have a faith full of platters, he is our ultimate canvas of beliefs, a solution to all our troubles, so scores of visitors come here from across the globe, religious places denounce selfishness as it is considered as a cardinal sin, under all faiths.
   But In these places of worship one also gets to witness such acts of dishonesty, because it is guarded by us the humans, where being selfless is practically impossible in this materialistic world, it is rather inevitable, everyone wants to be considered as someone special. 
There are umpteen examples of such mishaps every day , whether it is on the roads or temples, our culture thrives on such things and it is not at easy dealing with such a proliferating culture, especially at such places of worship.

 Would only like to conclude with : the lines from the story on Mulla Nasurudin, when a guard interrupts him by saying that “Nobody is higher than the King…!”

And he replies “I am Nobody…!” now you got it right.
Yes we all are that Nobody, who wants to be Somebody, waiting for some divine intervention.

In defence of the worthy Golgappa 😊

One of the things ,nowadays we dread the most is the junk food and it’s presence in the diet of our children.As there goes a famous saying “You are what you eat ” , a metaphorical expression implying- what we eat affects our lives.
During my childhood days, that are long gone, picnics meant outdoor fun and outings, then no concept of playmates or play dates existed, as we were not guarded by or hounded by the insecure and unsafe world like today. Apart from looking forward to such picnics, the major attraction was the big hotcase mommies carried along with them containing homemade food, which was obviously a hit case then. Yes it was a hit case in the hotcase. 

But now being a mother myself , I realise how privileged were we and also well behaved, or we had less of options to go for, because nowadays every nook and corner of the city or village is buzzing with packets of chips and packs of aerated drinks.
What was a luxury in my childhood has become a necessity for the kids of today. We may blame the parent or the environment for that ,but the fact of the matter is that these things are so easily available and we at times as adults with our laid back attitude just go with the flow. 
But then who to trust further with vegetables and fruits, natural veggies and fruits are a rare commodity today, coming under the tag of being “organic” and the ones we get are laced with chemicals.
So there is not much of a difference between junk and healthy, in fact junk food gives us the label of being healthy, which of course in hidden language means you are fat, but a polite way of saying so.
Call it comfort food or convenience food, it is the concept of the West, which we have obediently imbibed in our day to day life, though the West is slowly abandoning their very own idea.

Instant food, door step delivery to ready to cook meals and chopped vegetables/fruits has made life much more easier for many, saving upon their time but making them deficient of nutritional value. 
Pizzas, pastas , burgers and noodles are all outsiders, harming our bodies from inside .Once a while it is Okay, but to include them in day to day eating would be rather injurious to us.

Why don’t we imbibe our rich culture in once in a while concept and shift our focus to more desi desirable stuff called the Golgappas, which also happens to be a Junk food , but of rather different kinds , for me at least. 
Dear mommies this write-up is in no way propagating the consumption of fast food but it is rather my tribute to the Golgappas, which I consume in moderation but cannot give up.

I may give endless lectures to my kid on harmful effects of junk but when it comes to our very own indian junk Golgappas, I just give up.
Well so here, I introduce the hero of my write-up, the “Golgappas “.

Let’s refresh our memories on our very own desi junk, also known as panipuri, gulgulle and phuchkas. 

Call it anything , but each time I taste it, I just go weak in the knees.

I fall in love with it all over again.
With age my love has grown by leaps and bounds. Well it’s just progressing with age.

 . Despite of all the odds it has still been able to maintain its place in our hearts. Though there were many invasions but it stood the test of time, firmly grounded to its roots.

Despite of facing humiliation in its own country in the name of being a street food and the others coming from West proudly displaying themselves in the air-conditioned shops, Golgappas have still managed to sustain in such conditions and continues to be a major hit amongst the masses, especially the ladies. 

Despite of being a chartbuster and topping all chaats , oops sorry , I mean charts of popularity ,it manages to stay so humble. Easy to access and avail. It represents india in true sense , where it stands for all flavours, from sweet to spicy , from tangy to sour, it represents ‘unity in diversity’ , available throughout the country , now also exploring foreign lands.

One of the most adjusting snack , like us the Indians, providing different varieties of its flavour, according to our taste buds. 

How can i just forget, when my aunt landed in India from The US of A , the first place she went to ,from the airport was the Golgappa stall on the roadside.
Like a monk with a bowl in his hand , she stood in front of the man selling these divine eatables. 

How ecstatic she became , the moment she gulped down her first piece of heavenly delight. There were tears of joy or was it the spice quotient that led to such outpourings, God knows but yes one thing for sure could be seen, the feeling of fulfillment in her .

Though the competition was tough, others those who were waiting in line were giving her stiff competition, the moment she missed her chance or momentum, the other competitor would put forward his or her claim to fame of consumption, I mean their plates for their turn and share.
But she did not give up, how firmly she directed the golgappe wala bhaiya for her fair share, as she kept a strict vigil on the numbers consumed. 
There was not a one awkward moment, from opening her mouth wide open to greedily gulping it down without chewing.

Well this public display of affection for Golgappas, can only be known to an Indian, when there is no shy moment, and majority of people will vouch for it.
Neither this food is limited by seasons nor by space constraints, and while consuming it , trust me , no one can cheat us, so it also teaches us “our value for money”, which no pizza, burgers or pasta would.
The consumer and seller are both at the profitable best, for the consumer it is the treat to the taste buds and for the seller, to be surrounded by hoardes of people , that too, mostly ladies ,is a treat in itself. Though the poor seller may get hassled at times, by constant complaints by the clients for wanting more , so maintaining pace is a slight problem there, apart from it , ladies asking for extra sukhi poori or extra water can be a bit irritating , but then it is our birth to ask for it, otherwise the whole ritual of consuming Golgappas goes waste. Well in terms of popularity he is one lucky guy, mostly referred as golgappe wala bhaiya, . His stall is mostly in demand at any function or party.
Ever wondered , how such a small thing encloses within itself the world full of taste and flavours. A hollow sphere, in which the vendor makes a hole, shoves in the stuffing and then plunges this magical ball into the sea of spiced liquid. The moment the vendor places this world full of spices on to our plates, the feeling of fulfillment just grabs us, our moment of glory , as it just pops into my mouth, an explosion of flavours, the crunchy sound ,a world full of taste grabs me, what else do I need , why should I leave this indian invention, a humble recipe which serves all, Prince to Pauper anyone can afford it and consume in a humble way, as well. It is not just an appetizer, but also food for the brain and the soul.
It also teaches great lessons on life as well, knowledge about various flavours, it’s taste teaches us about our preferences, it also teaches , how to negotiate with the vendor for that extra piece of round crispy ball. Standing and waiting for our turn , teaches us to be patient as well as how to be a leveller or equivalent to others or treat others the same way. At times when other junk food gives us that constipated feeling , Golgappas may help us to clear our tummies and make us feel much lighter.
It is absolutely a miraculous snack, which can never go wrong , an adventure in itself, the orbs of temptation, with each bite I reach the state of trance and I’m not sorry for not giving up upon you my yummy Golgappas. 
But always remember to have it from a safe and a hygienic place . Rest is all is conspiracy and rumours from the West , to bring down its value.

So just enjoy your plate of golgappaa.

Chillipam monastery -Riot of colours

Image Courtesy :Google

I am still in awe of the grandeur and aura of the Chillipam monastery,  close by Tenga , a small village in Arunachal Pradesh. 

While travelling from Guwahati to Tenga , the journey is breathtaking and an education in itself.

The journey across the plains , along the basin of mighty Brahmaputra is very smooth and one gets to witness vast paddy fields and coconut trees.

The journey after Balukpong is really beautiful,  but as we head towards Nechiphu, the road becomes narrow, but as we reach Tenga, the whole journey becomes worth it.

Tenga is a small village with small market , and with a nice spot to chill out called Tenga haat with Tenga river flowing along side.

But beyond Tenga , Chillipam monastery is the closest as we cross the town of Rupa.

Going slow and steady on the hills ,with in 45 minutes we reach the monastery. 

It is one of the most beautiful Buddhist Monastry in the world,  I would say.

Located at a hill top, surrounded by the mountains on all sides. 

Once we reach the monastry,  one gets to witness a complete riot of colours.

The monastry also houses the  school for young Lamas.

It is a beautiful,  isolated, peaceful and an ornately designed Gompa with its irresistible charm, vibrant and bright colours.

Worth visiting 

Happy Travelling 

8 symbols of Buddhism 

​The moment one lands in North-east part of India, the simplicity and beauty of life around captures our attention. 

Apart from rivers,cane huts,and hills, one thing that attracts our attention is the presence of Buddhism here in Arunachal Pradesh. 

All though the travel route from Balukpong to Tenga, Rupa and Chillipam marks the presence of beautiful coloured flags, which keep the traveller/tourist company on the bumpy roads. These flags could be seen on the roadside or outside houses .
Apart from the flags, one more thing is found in prominence is the presence of 8 Buddhist symbols (paintings).Not only the monasteries but even the boundary walls depict these 8 symbols.

Buddhism was founded over 2500 years ago by Siddartha Gautama, this belief was centered around compassion, non-violence  and charity for the enlightenment of body and soul.
Buddhist symbols are vital part of the Buddhist faith. They have become tools for teaching the religion to others, as they hold deep significance. 
Important Buddhist symbols include , musical instruments,  fans, scroll, spear, rope , hare, monk begging bowls and incense burners.

Elephant is an important symbol of Buddhism,  it represents ‘power’ and ‘peace’ in Buddhism. 

The 8 Emblems of Good fortune , also known as the 8 auspicious symbols of Good fortune are the : the wheel of law, the conch shell,  umbrella, mystic knot,fish,lotus, vase and canopy.
The above mentioned symbols are very important to Buddhism and are considered important along the path to enlightenment. 
1. Umbrella (Parasol)  : symbolises umbrella of Buddhist community and teaches us that first we should enter the Buddhist family. Also called Parasol , umbrella above the mountains is the dome of the sky, symbolised by the umbrella.  It casts the shadow of protection, from heat and harmful forces. Silk and peacock Parasol is used by the dignitaries,  including his holiness,  Dalai Lama.

Dome of the umbrella symbolises wisdom and the hanging skirt symbolises compassion. 
2. Fish : symbolises harmony, the golden fishes , or the two fishes standing vertical,  heads turned inwards towards each-other. Fishes originated as an ancient Pre-Buddhist symbol of two sacred rivers of India – Ganga and Yamuna,  representing lunar and solar channels.

The pair of golden Fishes also symbolises happiness, fertility and abundance,  as they have complete freedom in water and they multiply rapidly.

3. Vase: also called the treasure Vase, it is represented by a fat bellied vessel with short slim neck , on top of it is a large jewel indicating treasure Vase. 

It also depicts storage and satisfaction of material desires, inexhaustible treasures.It also teaches us about the inner wealth of faith, moral discipline and practice dharma,benefitting others.

4 .Lotus: symbolises purity, every Hindu deity is associated with lotus, either he/she is seated on it or holding it. The roots of lotus are in mud, stem grows upwards through water, it is a heavily scented flower, which lies above water, basking in sunlight.  This pattern of growth symbolises the progress of soul , from primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience  and into bright sunshine of enlightenment. 

The white coloured lotus stands for purity,  spiritual perfection,  red coloured lotus depicts original nature, purity of heart, love and compassion, the blue coloured lotus represents victory of spirit over the senses,  whereas the pink lotus represents the supreme knowledge,  it is reserved for the highest deity, associated with Buddha himself.

5. Conch: is the emblem of power , Lord Vishnu is seen holding it , it also depicts authority, battle horn, akin to bugle, banishes evil, scares evil, also as a container of holy water. It also represents the four fold caste division through the variations of its colour.

The thick shelled bulbous one is said to be the male or Pursha, whereas the thin shelled is said to be the female,  the shankhini. 

Apart from this , the conch are right or left turning conch shells, the right one is rare and sacred, is also compared to hair whorls on Buddha’s head. Like the sound of conch , Buddhist want the teachings of Buddha to spread in all directions.
6. Knot of Eternity : omniscient wisdom, also called the endless knot of intertwined lines, may have evolved from an ancient naga symbol with two stylized snakes, which represent close cycle of cause and effect, with balanced harmony.This is one of the most favorite symbol of Tibetan Buddhism.  As it has no beginning or end  , it symbolises infinite wisdom in Buddhism. 
7 . Victory Banner: in Sanskriti means dhvaja, the flag.

Buddha’s enlightenment,  heralding the triumph of knowledge over ignorance.  Cylindrical victory banners made of beaten copper are traditionally placed at four corners of a monastry and temple roofs , which signify Buddha’s victorious dharma spreading in four directions. 
8. Dharma wheel : consists of three basic parts : the hub, the rim and spokes (generally 8 in number).

The circle shape represents complete or a perfect shape. 

Rim is the element of limitation denotes concentration,  holds entire meditative practice together,  hub- represents the axis of the world, train in moral discipline. 8spokes denote 8 fold path set for correct application of wisdom, cuts ignorance and ends suffering. This path was set up by Buddha himself.

Wheel evolved as a symbol of Buddhist teaching and as an emblem of Chakravartin or ‘wheel turner’.

Wheels swift motion is an apt metaphor for spiritual change. Buddha’s first discourse at Deer park at Sarnath is known as ‘ first turning of the wheel of dharma’.

Next time when you visit a Buddhist monastry,  remember that the three curving conch like lines on the neck of Buddha are soaked with rich spiritual symbolism. It is said to represent Buddha’s deep resonant voice, therefore conch becomes a sacred symbol here.

These 8 symbols are also associated with the physical form of Buddha , the head of Buddha is like a protective Parasol,  Buddha paintings also show the presence of umbrella behind him. The eyes of Buddha are like the precious golden fishes, neck like adorned vase of good fortune,  speech like right turning Dharma shell, mind infinite with wisdom like the never ending knot. Tongue open like auspicious pink lotus and feet tread on the path of dharma like the auspicious wheel.

These 8 symbols adorn all manner of sacred and secular Buddhist objects, such as carved wood furniture,  metal work, wall panels, carpets and silk brocades.

Happy Reading 🤗

Tenga through my Lens

​Wow, it’s New Year 2017, and sitting amongst the young mountains,  I feel like my favorite writer, Mr. Ruskin Bond. His stories from the hills, about the hills have always fascinated me.

Tenga, in Arunachal is one such place which is so close to the descriptions by Mr. Bond, with only slight difference, that this place is in the North Eastside of our country.

Tenga a beautiful valley, amidst young mountains and tenga river flowing along is a site worth dying for.

This Place mostly dominated by the Army settlements is glimpse to the old world charm, but the only difference it holds with rest of the hill stations is, that it is untouched by British artitecture, as we won’t finds churches or bungalows like rest of the hill stations. The reason is that it never came under the British rule. Going by the legend, British soldiers did try to enter Arunachal,  an area dominated by the local tribe here, who chopped of the heads of the British soldiers and sent them back to Assam,  so they gave up the idea of entering Arunachal.

Arunachal was once part of Assam,  it became a Union Territory in 1971 , and later independent state in 1987.
Yes it is not easy to get here, moment we land in Guwahati, the only option to reach Tenga is through the road, which are not in very good condition, due to constant landslides here.

As we cross the place called Balukpong, the bumpy ride towards the hills start, which is not for the faint hearted, trust me on that, but then there is no gain without the pain, so to explore the wonders of Tenga Valley, one has to go through the roads less travelled, the grinding pathways leading towards our destination. 

Yes to reach heaven, one has to go through hell of a roads here.But trust me, the scenery is breathtaking.

Young mountains, with black soil and pines growing on them are in the prime of their fertility, giving way to various kinds of flora.

Arunachal is home to lot of varieties of Orchids, which I am yet to explore.

But yes I did taste the latest cultivated fruits here, and those the local kiwis here, which are slightly smaller than the imported ones, but believe me, that in taste , the ones grown here are much-much sweeter. 
The beauty of this place truly lies in its serenity and calm enviroment , other places close by Tenga are, Rupa, Bombdila and Tawang,  which are more prominent in terms of tourist inflow, due to their monasteries,  but if one plans to sit I  ease and be in footsteps of Mr.Ruskin Bond , then spending time in Tenga is worth a try.
As I sit under the mighty pines, and look at the starlit skies, where moon and clouds play hide and seek , I wonder if life could go on like this only.

Grab a book near the bonfire, or for that matter an cup of tea or a glass of wine and admire the river flowing across , giving a perfect ‘room with a view’.

On my recliner,  as I decide to sit during the day, for soaking the sunlight, the chilly breeze across my face makes me realise, that it the winter season, the amalgamation of Sun and breeze can only be felt here, on this little quiet valley.

Nature here is truly at its best, the long walks on the hill roads gives you the glimpse of beautiful hill culture, as well of the Buddhism.  The colourful flags along the roadside and the beautiful monasteries and little bridges , brings you much more closer to simplicity of life here.

All you need is basic things, such as fresh air , water and food, the requirements of people residing here are only basic, because they live such a simple and beautiful life with peace and happiness.

True worth of small 

Yes  , there were times when 25 paisa fetched us an ice cream ,  the two

rupee notes given by grandparents on special occasions was like a treasure
to be cherished .
During Lohri celebrations , when as kids , we all cousins gathered and sang
Lohri songs, the elders showered us with tinkling coins, which we happily
collected and deposited in our piggy banks.

But, this was almost two decades back, and the coins and small rupee notes
have been long replaced by the bigger ones.
We did not even realise when ones  became  tens , and tens became hundreds
and hundreds ,  crores for many. The never-ending saga of money
multiplication and society division kept on increasing.

But one thing which has remained the same, is the saving by the homemakers
and little kids .
The secret chambers in the almirahs and piggy banks still exist . Though the
expectations have taken a larger turn and we do not save small currency
notes , but go in for larger denominations .
Well the poor coins only find place in the dark corners of the cupboards ,
never to be discovered again.
Recent arrival of new notes and discarding of old ones has come as a major
jolt for the people involved with black money savings , but it has also
shook the foundations  of Grandma theories and practices of savings.

Like many old age practices by our dadi- nani  in the past , even today the
new age mothers and women ,apart from bank deposits ,have kept some savings
hidden under the pile of clothes or boxes, away from the prying eyes of
their dear husbands, which they may use to give them surprise gifts on
special occasions or for themselves , to buy jewellery etc.

My grandmother passed away with passing on the legacy to us with bundles of
hundreds and five rupee notes under her clothes in the old tin boxes .
But if she would have been alive now, she definitely would have got shock of
her life , that the notes she less valued have shot to fame over night and
the ones she treasured the most , just dwindled like the pack of cards.

Today I myself realised the true worth of small , when the whole Nation weny
topsy-turvy on declaration that 500 and 1000 rupee notes will get a totally
new makeover ,may be!!,  or may be declared null and void , and soon become
a thing of past , like the extinct species .

Rumour mongers, made most of it , to an extent that many people suffered the
shock of their lives , as their savings of higher denomination notes went
bankrupt themselves, the news spread like wildfire to an extent that many
black marketeers burnt the stash of bundles piled up in their godowns. After
all what could they declare or claim.

A friend in need is a friend indeed, this saying came true , when small
coins and notes came to my immediate rescue, till now the coins or chillar
as we say, were getting step motherly or step fatherly treatment,  lying
orphan in the drawers or old purses.

We changed our loyalties overnight , till now the ones ruling the roost ,
their empires were overtaken by the lesser ones in a matter of few minutes.
It almost became a ‘rags to riches ‘story for Mr.Hundred.
Coins became popular and in demand in matter of few hours, well never
underestimate the power of a common coin, I said. And went on a searching
spree , for the ones hiding in every nook and corner of my house. It was in
that moment I realized ,  that without one rupee note or coin, how meaning
less becomes the existence of higher rupee notes which are kept intact in
special ornate envelopes to be distributed as shagun .
Well a single one rupee has always acted as a cherry on the cake of higher
rupees ,  but it is also considered as symbol of good luck and tradition ,
apart from the ‘head and tail story’.

The revival of smaller amounts ,have refreshed the childhood memories , my
fascination with the coins, collecting them in piggy banks. Finally, they
again, get to see  the light of the day, the warmth of the pockets, since
the day they were minted and ignored for long.

They have constantly helped me, whether it was as an offering to the deities
in the temples , for fulfilment of wishes by throwing them in water or by
giving them to beggars .

The coins and small rupee notes have long become claustrophobic ,  developed
the fear of closed spaces , but it is now time ,to show them the light of
the day. To remove the vagaries of dust from them. Time to give them their
dues, as they have been long snubbed , in search of greener pastures by us,
I mean in search of higher currencies .
They have truly survived over the years, with no conception of time,
followed religiously the cycle ,from one  pocket to another with trust, they
are truly our rough weather friends ,  unlike the fair weather notes.
The sudden surgical strike of new notes, has brought to limelight the
significance of a small piggy bank of my daughter , it has resurfaced the
value of little, the true worth of Goddess Laxmi and yes of course  ‘small
things do come in small packages ‘.