Mahabali cannot be Dwarfed.

baliAs we were driving down from Panaji, to Margao I saw this banner that said, 37%  Goan have votes AAP, 27%BJP, and some X% congress, the conclusion was AAP leads, what occurred to me, is it could also be interpreted as 63% Goans are clear that they do not want AAP.

Ultimately every story is about whose story are you telling?

chalayasi vikramane keshava balim adbhuta vamana padanakha nira-janita-janapavana kesava dhrita vamana rupa jaya jagadisa hare.

When we were kids we were told the story of the benevolent Balindra or the Mahabali, who was an epitome of virtue that Lakshmi was chained to his dungeons. the story as narrated by Kittadoddamma, always told us how the Deva’s were jealous of Bali and Indra decided requested Vishnu to annihilate Bali he was then pushed down to the PatalaLoka, and each Onam he comes to oversee the harvest Bali or Mahaveli’s arrival I never could figure the solar calendar out, the only thing I know is it Sone thingalu… some day and she said and the festival after it was ananthan chaturdashi.

She would tell us about Bali Maharaja, his greatness and his kindness and how his persona is honoured by the word Bali meaning sacrifice, she talked of the sacrifice of the seed that shed its skin, the soil that gave the nutrients, the clouds that showered the rains, the earthworms and the snakes that kept the soil enriched and how all this combined bounty gave a rich harvest. When this mission was complete Bali returned to the Patala on the day of Balipadya after being sure that his subjects were secure.

The understanding of the sacrifice or the effort that went into bringing that abundance, she would tell was the secret which kept Bali alive  among his subjects, she would conclude Kings would come, Kings would go but Bali still ruled.., Vamana stayed dwarfed and forgotten.

When I got married my value system was questioned because the story here was Bali was arrogant he chained Lakshmi so the Deva’s were justified in sending Vamana, it putting an asura in place.It was the ballad of Vamana and not Bali.

As I learnt more of these and began the quest of understanding the untold story of the other, after all eulogies and history is always about the winner. Here is what came to me…Bali the King of an prosperous Agrarian society.

Here comes Purandara the destroyer of cities, choose to call him divine incarnate if you wish, but definitely King somewhere who coveted the prosperity, the riches of the land, in comes the conqueror, and relegates the indigenous culture down. He is potbellied at that, and he unchains Lakshmi the goddess of Prosperity that would mean either he grabbed the riches or he destroyed the assets.

The conquerors Ballads talk of Bali being an Asura could be for Asura of the Rig Veda is the Ahura of the Zenda-Vesta the Zoroastrian holy text and Kerala always sea connect with the middle east.

Like our Balipadya being traded for the bhaubheej or our Onam is being traded for Vaman Jayanthi, the conqueror is marketed our oral stories and histories relegated as the large wave of Hindaptations (adaption to Hindi culture) even Thiruadhira or the big wave will not be able to save us.

Mr.Amit Shah, this is the translation of what my grandmother used to chant about Mahabali, can you bring it back?  Till then let your Vamana stay the way he is  — dwarfed!!

When Maveli ruled the land,onam
All the people were equal-
Times when people were joyful and merry;
They were all free from harm.
There was neither anxiety nor sickness,
Deaths of children were unheard of,
No wicked person was in sight anywhere
All the people on the land were good.
There was neither theft nor deceit,
And no false words or promises.
Measures and weights were right;
There were no lies,
No one cheated or wronged his neighbour.
When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people formed one casteless race

I do not know which of the stories are true but the story of Bali narrated by my grandmother is definitely more empowering than the story of Vamana.


gokarna (1)
distance mangroves

Yesterday being  Ganesh Chaturthi, we decided to drive down to Gokarna.

I have no pictures of either temple or the surrounding, for I was lost in memories of the two which visited years ago.

The legend has it that Ravana the Lord of Lanka, carried the atma lingam of Shiva, fearing the consequences of this, the deva’s decided to take it back from him. When Shiva gave him the atmalinga the condition was it should not be placed on the earth, for the moment it was placed on the earth it would take root.

Enroute, Ravana needed to ease himself, but placing the Atmalinga on the earth was not an option. That was when Ganapati appeared as a young Brahmin boy and offered to hold the linga, just as Ravana began relieving himself, Ganapati called out him. The condition the boy Ganapati had placed was Ravana was to return by the time he called him thrice.

In quick succession Ganapati called out two more times, then placed the lingam down on the earth and vanished, Ravana tried his best, to uproot the linga, but his efforts were futile the only thing he achieved was distortion of the lingam to the shape of the ear of a cow. Hence Gokarna.

When we were working with Nagananda play, with dialogue ,”hey gokarnanatha” I placed my place geographically in southern peninsula, but interestingly Nepal has a town with the same name, on the banks of river Bagmati , the Gokarna Aunshi that falls on the new moon between August- September is the an important event when sons honour their father, and if the father is dead then the shraddha is performed.

Like I mentioned before my first visit to the town was years ago, it was a sleepy town, with the temple and the Kotitheerta pond at the center, people came down to perform the final rites of their departed ones. Particularly if the person who died was young.

One of the Brahmin houses would host the people till the rites were over.

This time round the time has changed with Goa getting flooded with tourists, the hippie and the Indian junkie crowd has moved down to Gokarna. Spiritual vendors have put up their spa’s with yoga, meditation, and massage thrown in. not to mention the availability of Marijuana and hemp.

The temple premises are still clean, unlike Udupi, or any temple up north. Most temples have the system where the money from the hundi goes to feed people, and for other social activities, while the sarvajanika annaprasada is handled by Venky’s—yes the chickenwallah.

Maybe we can now look at more relevant things to donate to the temple like that contraption that allows the recycle of plastic, or the contraption that uses bio-waste to create fuel. Those asbestos sheets used to keep the pradakshina path dry could be replaced by solar panels, though the very purpose of connecting to the nature is lost when we cover the walking path.

Anyway its interesting to see how we appease the gods on our terms without putting ourselves out of our comfort zone.

gokarna (2)


Indigenous Transport of Jamnagar

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first look Jamnagar


As we entered the reliance inspired town, our travel owes apart.

One thing I learnt from Neomi Duguid is not apologize for making conversation with the people on the street.

One interesting mode of transport I saw was the Chakda  It reminded me so much of the various mythological stories we hear about the Gods  like Ganesha who get their head chopped off and replaced by another animal. The vehicle looked really incongruous, as if someone had sliced the motorcycle in to half and attached a carrier to it, something in wanted to yell, “stop torturing the bike” like we respond to the tangawalla’s or Calcutta or the Victoria’s of Mumbai.

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Locally manufactured auto rickshaws which is a six-seater

These vehicles could transport up to eight people or if it was goods carrier then it functioned like a small truck. What the local’s told me was using these to transport small goods for definitely more economically, more over most of these vehicles were owned by the driver unlike trucks and tempo’s which were owned by someone else and the driver was just a paid employee. I do not know how that works in the economic ecology but that seems to be an import consideration.

Then there were auto rickshaw’s that are manufactured indigenous at Jamnagar, as a small industry.  The auto that we were in was a Bajaj, rear engine our auto driver pointed out these to us and told us, very proudly that those were locally made in Jamnagar and he was planning to buy one soon. Again here the attitude is using this vehicle instead of a Bajaj or the other one I forgotten the company name meant money stayed in Jamnagar instead of going out.

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the chakada– a motorcycle morphed as a goods transporter here.

Despite of the fact that the fares were not regulated and public transport swindled the visitors it was amazing to see to the sense of pride and innovation.


Maya-Matanga The Vanishing Elephants

world elephant dayI have just come across a book in our library called the Mathangalila. Mathangalila, is Sanskrit text written by author Nilakantha which deals with the science of Elephant. The book talks about Asiatic Elephants, diagnosis and cure of illness that afflict elephants, use of elephant parts in medicine. Folklore round elephants.

Elephants are very part of our cultural ethos, be it Indra’s Airavata, or the panel of Gajalakshmi fanned by elephants. Or the story of King Udayana who could capture a elephant with his powers of playing the Veena. Most of us are familiar with the line up of dressed up elephants that happens on Thiru-Onam.

Laksmeesha and Subhadra were the two elephant calves rescued from nagaraholle and housed in Udupi. Visiting them was  a thrill for my daughter, but she was always concerned that the elephant was away from its mom, and that they was no one who could give its favourite food.

The story of the elephant and tailor, the story of the Gajendra moksha they are all there but with the destruction of habitat and extensive poaching Elephants are slowly turning to pictures in a picture book instead of live majestic creatures that roam the world.

Elephants are African and Asian. Fossil evidence shows that elephants of Sri Lanka were 5 tusks, and now they have shrunk to single tusk. The cost of ivory exceeds the cost of gold, so the greed has lead to poaching of elephants. Elephant meat and elephant skin leather are causes leading to poaching.

With the loss of forest cover the elephants are coming closer to human habitat causing destruction to agriculture and crops,

The world elephant day is celebrated annually on August 12th since its conception in 2011.  This day is dedicated to the preservation and protection of elephants.  To share the knowledge of elephants and to ensure better care and management of captive elephants.  The African elephants are currently listed as vulnerable, as their population is about 400,000 while its Asian cousins  at 40,000 are endangered. Studies show that they are only 12yrs from being extinct.

The world elephant day is an international event conceived by filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest pictures and Sivaporn Dardarnanda the Secretary General Of Elephant Reintroduction Foundation Of Thailand.


A Xocolatl-Ode

chocolate 1
The chocolate country

There are some days, that deserve to be drowned at birth and everyone sent back to bed with a hot brandy a box of chocolates and warm energetic companion, today is definitely one of those days, for today is the International chocolate day, an observance that occurs globally every year. Celebration includes consumption of chocolate; it is believed that this year marks the 466th year since chocolate was introduced to Europe.

Lets face it, all that one needs is love, of course a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt, or to be precise goes a long way.

chocolate 2
food of Gods

Sometime back, I was at Starbucks, awaiting a friend, I was enjoying a chocolately cafe mocha, when I remembered reading somewhere, that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World, from the Spanish exploration of Aztec Cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, and the lifestyle marketing of Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.

There was a time when good behaviour or eating your breakfast on time followed with a bribe of chocolate, but today, breakfast is chocolate, we could begin the day with chocolate and end it with hot chocolate. A social scientist conducted an experiment where he showed a picture of chocolate cake with chocolate cake written on it, and asked the viewers to immediate word association. Majority of Americans came up with guilt, while Frenchmen came up with celebration.

The official name of chocolate is Theobroma cacao and Theobroma actually means food for the Gods. This flowering plant from the mallow family Malvaceae contains roughly 20 species of small understory trees native to the rain forests of central and south America.

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Quetzalcoatl- the wisdom God who gave the world chocolate

The history of chocolate begins in Mesoamerica, where fermented beverages made from chocolate existed right back in 1900 B.C..  The Mayans began harvesting chocolate in 900AD. The word chocolate comes from the Mayan word Xocolatl which translates to bitter water, which a was liquid made from cocoa beans, chilli pepper and water, the Mayans did not use sugar as there was no sugar in central America. This liquid was poured from one cup to the other  until a frothy foam appeared on the top.

these seeds were believed to be the gift of Quetzalcoatl the God of wisdom and the seeds were considered so valuable they were used as currency.

The exchange rate was

4 beans= 1 pumpkin.

10 beans = a rabbit, it could also get you a lady to stay overnight.

The xocolatl pronounced as show-co-la-til is made by removing the cocoa beans from the pod, fermenting it, and drying it. This is then roasted on a griddle until done, it then shelled and the seeds are ground to a fine paste. The paste is mixed with water, chilli peppers and cornmeal the resulting concoction is poured back and forth until frothy foam develops on top. This is then served in finely decorated earthen ware.

Xocolatl was the frothy drink of its day, like coffee today, and it would available all over the place, it was popular because of its healing properties. Cacao has great nutritional value, a lot of protein which strengthens a person and without sugar it is not fattening.

chocolate 3

When the Aztecs conquered the Mayans the Mayans had to pay tribute to the Aztecs with cocoa so that they would always have the cocoa, cocoa soon became the force of the Aztec economy.

Chocolates symbolizes as does no other food luxury, comfort, sensuality gratification and love.

How chocolates help the tough going

Here is my favourite chocolate dish —

Here is a favourite movie of mine that revolves round chocolate

Night Flight To Arpora

“Where are you from”


“Oh! Lucky you, its so much of fun, I have been to the Night Market.”

I give my sheepish smile; well I can’t let people know that I have never been there.

saturday night market (1)
Tea Vendor

For the past 5yrs we have been planning to go this absolutely to do place on every tourist agenda. The Arpora night market happens every Saturday during the tourist season. And make shift shanties are put around the a lake space. There are make-shift parking slots, with different parking area for taxi’s and private cars. As the place has been spruced up since  our last visit we decided to ask help, can you beat it, we could not find a Konkani speaking Goan for nearly 15mnts through Calungute, the place is infested with Hindi speaking Cowbelters!!

saturday night market (2)

The central Nevus of the market is the eating area which serves all sorts of food, even an apology for vegetarian food.  With the central band playing.

It was quite interesting to see the stalls and the wares they were vending, the handicrafts, and teas of different flavours. Clothes, crystals, the mehendi applier, the metal works.  Books on popular Indian philosophy dominated by Kama sutra. The stalls came in cyclic layout.

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The stall owners who are vending their wares strive hard to keep the air of the Rudyard Kipling’s India, with kids in tow, who hand around sleeping in the stall places,  their clothing carefully crafted to recreate the visual of rural India, Sari’s draped in North Indian styles or women clad in traditional Lambani outfits. The stall owners are astute enough to gauge the customer and choose the language to speak in.

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Quilts and Bedsheets Rajasthan

The tourist themselves, clad in clothes that reeks of I am tourist to Goa, loud brash Delhi-ites, drunken slobs from Bangalore, a few foreigners here and there, interestingly the metal artifacts and books stalls are dominated by the foreigners like the prayer equipment stalls.

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Bollywood Inspired

We spent an hour doing usual things done at Ajmal Khan Road Delhi that bargaining and not buying, neither the handcraft, nor the food, was Goan. It was like entering Sarojini Market in Delhi the only difference being the Russian speaking vendors are not Sardars.

Just a request domestic tourists coming to Goa, Goa is a state, where people live just like in any other state, we are peace loving and like our quiet, can you kindly respect us?

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The Russian speaking Rajasthani.

OK-ate Dé-bacles

The Dé-ly story

this bit made a lot of stink. Well when I first read it, my response what does it matter what Kate Middleton wore or did not wear, its her wardrobe and her image. Actually I do applaud her for not trying on the Himachali cap at Simla routine our politicians dole out. While Shobha Dé is neither Kate Middleton’ reflection in the mirror, nor relevant in personal or family space.

It was equally impressive to read a response from a nineteen year old the kid has her fundas right and she is pretty articulate. I loved her and have applauded her. Something which I didn’t for Shoba Dé

The child had dignity, and did not get mean. She let it go at the right point.

Yet we are now over doing this whole thing, we are giving too much of importance to Shobha Dé who is senior individual she is entitled to her opinion and our constitution allows her to voice it. we have the choice to read it and give just as much as attention we think it deserves. Of course I like reading Shobha Dé acidic writing and I do wish I could do the same.

As far as Kate Middleton, goes she is the daughter-in-law of a dying monarchy that has plundered us, and we really need to bother with her too much.

After all this is a country where more than half the population is underdressed,because they cannot afford it, and a miniscule fraction, dorns miniscule clothes because they can more than afford it, whoever we are we do not let the half naked fakir rest in peace, so why are we debating over overdressed debacles?