Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kaara Dawath!?

In our community ‘Kaara Dawath’ means a sumptuous non-vegetarian lunch or dinner party, especially hosted at the end of all marriage ceremonies. ‘Kaara Dawath’ is hosted by the groom’s family and the bride’s family separately on different dates. Today afternoon I attended Bunny’s Kaara Dawath party.

We, Vishwabrahmins are not supposed to consume non-vegetarian food and this was strictly adhered to by our ancestors. Then with changing times Vishwabrahmins of Telangana started eating non-vegetarian food secretly and then openly and regularly. However during the period of marriage ceremonies non-vegetarian food is not prepared in the house nor served at the functions. The marriage ceremonies start with the Engagement ceremony and then the ‘Lagna Patrika’ ceremony – when an auspicious date for the wedding is decided and marriage invitations are written by the Purohit and exchanged between the families of the bride and bridegroom. Sometime after these two ceremonies, the houses of these two families are White washed and now of course Color washed. Starting from this time until all the traditional wedding ceremonies are completed that is Upanayanam, Pellikoduku/Pellikuthuru ceremony, Marriage ceremony, Sri Sathyanaryanaswamy Vratham, Reception, Saare, Sravanapatti and Padhaharu rojula panduga, non-vegetarian food is not consumed. And at all these wedding ceremonies sweets of different variety, both traditional and modern are served. In local Urdu, Kaara is the opposite of Sweets and Dawath is a Feast. So to the delight of all relatives and friends orthodox traditions are kept aside after the completion of marriage ceremonies and a Feast of Hot and Spicy non-vegetarian dishes is hosted by both the families.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

About Used-CNC Machines and ‘Official-Pilgrimages’

I was away at Mumbai and Rajkot for few days last week to pick up a Used CNC Horizontal Machining Center for a customer. We did find one in Rajkot, a Kitamura CNC HMC of 1991, with a Pallet size of 300X300mm for Rs. 11 Lakhs. I usually do not accept such assignments of inspecting and recommending used CNC Machines because of the uncertainties involved in the performance of such old Machines for which I may be unnecessarily blamed at a later date. But when customers do buy second-hand machines on their own I do accept to commission the machines for them. And this is a part of my regular business. However I had to oblige this particular customer because he is well known to me and he understands my stand on this issue.
CNC machining became very popular all over the country since late eighties because of high returns but nowadays it has become extremely competitive with marginal returns. Because of the sprawl of CNC machine shops all over the country and specifically in each and every industrial area of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad the machine hour rates are the lowest now and are gradually coming down. It is due to these factors that all small and medium scale industries here are buying used CNC Machines. It keeps their overheads and machine hour rates much lower compared to buying a new Machine. But there are all sorts of risks and problems involved in this approach. The used machine geometrical accuracies are not satisfactory and there are frequent breakdowns for some reason or the other. Some of the accuracies can be corrected and some just cannot be improved because of the high level of wear and tear on the Machine. In some cases when the Machines are procured without testing, the CNC Systems, Drives, Automatic Tool Changers, Automatic Pallet Changers etc., do not function resulting in heavy expenditure and loss of time to set right the machines. 
These used CNC Machines are available mostly in Mumbai, Bangalore, Rajkot and Chennai. They are brought into the country by second-hand machine dealers and kept on display in very large warehouses. These machines are picked up by the dealers mostly from European countries, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea, where they are sold due to high maintenance costs, inaccuracies or due to outdated performance levels. In India most of these machines are sold to customers in as is where is condition without powering them up and demonstrating their functions and performance. Indian customers take risks and buy them out of desperation. If the machine performs well with or without due repairs they prosper and if it turns out to be a sick and bothersome machine; they suffer.
This business trip turned out to be a very pious one for me. While at Rajkot I went on pilgrimage for a day to the Temple city of Somnath. Lord Shiva’s Somnath temple is the first of 12 Jyothirlingas in the country. The temple is a huge and grand one located adjacent to the Arabian Sea with the sea touching the temple boundaries. There are many other sacred places I visited here; the most prominent among them being, Bhalka Tirtha, Triveni Ghat, Balramjika Gufa, Panch Pandav Gufa, Suraj Mandir, Lakshminarayan Temple and Gita Mandir.
Bhalka Tirtha is the place where Lord Krishna was mistaken for a deer and wounded by an arrow while sleeping in a deer skin. Triveni Ghat is the confluence of three holy rivers namely Kapil, Hiran and Saraswathi. Lord Krishna is said to have visited this Triveni Sangam after getting injured.
Many of my official tours in the past have also given me an opportunity to visit very important temples in the country. While in Trichy; a number of times, I visited Srirangam, Tanjore and Madurai. While at Pondicherry, I visited Chidambaram a number of times. At Dehradun, I visited Rishikesh, Haridwar and Badrinath in the Himalayas. I may have visited Calcutta more than twenty times and every time I have visited and prayed at Kalighat. When I went to Cochin on official work, I visited Sri Ananthapadmanabhaswamy temple at Trivandrum and from there to Kanyakumari. Similarly I went to many other sacred places during my official trips to different towns and cities. May be sometime later I shall post some blogs on some of these interesting ‘Official-Pilgrimages’!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Me & IMTEX - Indian Machine Tool Exhibition.

Photo: Me with Sri. P. Chidambaram, Union Cabinet Minister, at IMTEX.

IMTEX stands for Indian Machine Tool Exhibition. To be more specific it is Indian Metal-cutting Machine Tool Exhibition with International participation. The Exhibition showcases the latest trends in Metalworking Machine Tools and Manufacturing solutions. The Exhibition is organized on a very large scale by IMTMA – Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers Association. Earlier it used to be held alternatively once in three and four years but now it is being held once every two years. For many years IMTEX was held at Godrej premises in Mumbai and then till recently at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. IMTEX 2007 and 2009 were held at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre, Bangalore. The Exhibition is held in January or February for duration of one week. Normally there are over 800 exhibitors and about 50 percent of them are overseas participants. In huge sheds small and large, spread over an area of over 45,000 square metres, Machine tools of every type are on display and are functional with live demonstration. Almost everyone associated with Machine Tools in India makes it a point to visit this Exhibition.
Since 1981 to 2001, I had an opportunity of being at almost every IMTEX, participating in the Stall of my company – Praga Tools Limited. Firstly I used to have a role to play in the assembly of Machines being sent to the Exhibition, then the task of erecting these machines at the Exhibition. Once the Exhibition is inaugurated, there was the task of explaining the features of our Machines to innumerable visitors. And lastly at the end of the Exhibition we had to dismantle the Machines and dispatch them to our Company. The entire duration of my stay at IMTEX used to be a minimum of 15 days. Transporting the machines to the Stall, providing power supply for the machines, Carpeting, Lighting and Furniture for the Stall, had to be arranged by us in coordination with the IMTEX appointed contractors. Our team at IMTEX consisted of persons from our Sales office at Mumbai or Delhi, my colleagues from Marketing and Production at Praga Tools– Hyderabad. While shifting the Machines to our Stall and during erection the Exhibition environment looked very dusty and shabby. But by the day of inauguration it looked spick and span with every inch of the gangways carpeted in red and stalls carpeted in different colors. With ornamental plants everywhere, excellent lighting and a variety of modern Machine Tools on display it is a spectacle to watch.
At Delhi, IMTEX was always inaugurated by the Rashtrapathi. As Exhibitors, we were invited to this ceremony. Thereafter thousands of people visit the Exhibition every day. We were not required to be in the Stall all the time. We used to go around a lot visiting other Stalls, learning about new trends in the field and attend seminars. Even after retiring from Praga Tools Limited, I am visiting every IMTEX for two days to keep in touch with the developments in Machine Tools.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Modern means to reinforce our friendship!

Yesterday was a tough day. I returned home well past midnight at 1:45am. As a CNC-Maintenance Consultant I normally work for 4 to 6 hours on 2 or 3 days a week. But yesterday was an exception. I had an appointment in the morning from 10:00am to 1:00pm and again at 4:30pm I was picked up by another Engineering Works Company. A CNC machine was down with a complex problem and it took a long time to sort it out and test it. I was tired and my legs were aching by the time I reached home at 1:45am. As my wife was getting some supper ready for me I went to the PC to check my mail. I received a pleasant email surprise that brought smiles and relaxation. There was an email from Sirisha, daughter of my very close and best childhood friend - Ramchander. She has sent friend requests with messages to my wife and me. Both of us are very happy to hear from her and her effort to keep in touch. We gladly sent out our replies, that late in the night.
You can see Sirisha in the above picture! She is standing to the left of my son Srikanth who is with a garland. She is now grown up and an Engineer, working for a MNC. Our families are in the same city and not far from one another. But unfortunately I and Ramchander are only able to meet on fewer occasions these days, it used to be everyday, every morning and every evening in the leisure filled past. After we got into different jobs, our meetings mostly gave way to letters, phone conversations and with the onset of Mobile phones it reduced to SMS. However long the gap may be between our personal meetings, the friendship, the affection and the conversations are just as before and seem to be never ending.
These days when everyone is too busy to spare time too often for socializing it is no surprise that we are so happy interacting with Sirisha on orkut. Certainly another means to keep all of us close and happy in this busy world.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

General Elections '09: Voters are wise & the winners!

I am very happy with the results of General Elections-09 of the Lok Sabha and AP Vidhan Soudha, which were declared yesterday. The voters in the entire country have voted wisely for stable governments and are the ultimate winners. I was afraid of a hung Legislative Assembly and hung Lok Sabha and the ensuing drama of coalitions, horse-trading, struggle for power, ministries, Chief Minister & Prime Minister positions.

Congress retained power in the State winning 157 of the 294 seats. They have won these seats against a united opposition and a new party with Cinema glamour, whose main aim was to dislodge congress from power by any means and at any cost. They criticized every action of the government on day to day basis, for five years. They have two newspapers working for them whose sole duty is to criticize the government and its policies through stories and cartoons and praise the opposition for whatever they did or said.  They offered all sorts of sops and freebies to win votes. They offered Color TVs, Rs. 2000/- a month for a large section of voters, food grains and oil for a family for just Rs. 100/-, free cooking gas and so on. These freebies are so attractive to the voters, yet for reasons best known to them they chose congress and brought them to power again. During the campaigning – road shows and rallies of Congress and other opposition parties, specially by innumerable film stars, crowds came in thousands to hear them. They watched them twirling their moustaches and striking their thighs, they heard their cinematic dialogues of anguish, anger and pleading in rhythmic style and finally ignored them and their parties on the day of voting.

At the center, Congress/UPA has won 258 of the 544 Lok Sabha seats. They just need the support of another 14 MPs to form government and many are willing to give this support. If Congress was not in such a comfortable position a Third and Fourth front each being supported by innumerable miniscule parties were getting ready to claim power. Each of these parties was talking of making their leader the Prime Minister. With such greed, with different political views and no specific program to run the country, such a possibility would have been disastrous for the country.

Now that the elections are over and have resulted in stable governments at Center and Andhra Pradesh, I hope the opposition and the media will cooperate with the government in doing its job and business without hindrance and unnecessary N O I S E! 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jaundice turned me into a glutton!

After completing my IV Year, II Semester Engineering exams I came home during summer holidays and fell sick. I was given treatment for viral fever and subsequently for Malaria. The fever came down but I was unable to eat due to loss of appetite and a feeling of nausea. After ten days my brother noticed that my eyes had a yellowish colour. Suspecting it to be Jaundice, my father consulted Dr. Manikyachary, a relative of ours. He examined me and confirmed that it is Jaundice. From then on I was totally under his care. I was put under fat-free diet, just rice mixed with lean butter milk for lunch and dinner and Idli for breakfast. As days passed a few items like boiled potato were added to the diet. It took almost a month for the Bilirubin levels to become normal.

During this time relatives called up to see me. Most of them were from out of station and visiting us after a long gap. They had to be entertained with sumptuous food. And all these foods I was missing. Though my mother was comforting me that I can have all this and more once I am normal, I was feeling bad. My loss of appetite had turned within weeks into craving for tasty food. I was just waiting for my Bilirubin levels to become normal. The day I was told that the Bilirubin level is normal I insisted on having spicy chicken fry. My mother wanted me to avoid oily food for few more weeks from fear that Jaundice would relapse. I cried and won the argument for the day and got the chicken fry ordered from a speciality hotel. I continued to argue, demand and have a variety of food for another fifteen days until I left for college for joining my final year of studies. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Went to join College, got admitted into Hospital!

In those days there were just 3 Engineering colleges in Telangana with 400 seats. I could not get admission either at Hyderabad or Warangal. I applied in a number of Engineering colleges in other States. I first got admission at Annamalai University - Engineering College, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu.  Then I started getting admission letters from few other colleges but Annamalai University College was chosen and I joined there. After being there for few days, I left the college because of ragging and as lecturers were mostly teaching in Tamil. I gave excuses and collected my certificates and returned home. Subsequently when my father took up the matter with the Dean of the college, he assured to address my problems and appoint one senior professor as my guardian at Chidambaram. But I refused to go.
Offers of admission from other colleges kept coming, including BITS, Pilani. My parents were worried about me as I could not settle down at a good college in a South Indian place, they were in a dilemma. Then they decided to send me to Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, where my brother was already studying B.D.S., at Kasturba Medical College. That way I and my brother would be together for three years and I will have to continue another two years on my own. The Medical College and the Engineering College are almost side by side and the hostels are also not far off, this gave them the confidence that I will be happy with my brother and that this is the best place for me.
I started for Manipal along with my father and brother. We started from Hyderabad by an APSRTC bus to Bangalore. On the way, after having dinner at Kurnool and while approaching Anantapur I developed stomach pain. As it was mild I did not tell about it to my father or brother. We got down at Bangalore early in the morning and as I was guarding our luggage, father and brother went to get tickets for our onward bus journey to Mangalore. I was not able to stand straight because of the pain. However if I lean forward a little; there was relief. When my father and brother were returning with the tickets they noticed my condition and I told them of the problem. They asked me whether I would be able to travel another 320 Kms. up to Mangalore where we can see a doctor. I assured them that I would be OK. En-route I was not able to have much for breakfast or lunch. And in the bus I was made to lie down on two seats and rest. We reached Mangalore in the evening and immediately took a taxi to Udipi which is 53 Kms. away, where my brother knew a good doctor. We checked into a hotel at Udipi. My brother brought Dr. Ullal to the room, he examined me and said that the problem could be Appendicitis but he would be able to confirm it only the next day and put me on medication. Brother went to Manipal which is 6 Kms. from Udipi, checked into his hostel and later returned to our hotel with his friends. The next day evening Dr. Ullal confirmed that it is Appendicitis and referred me to Kasturba Medical College Hospital at Manipal for surgery. Father, I and brother along with his friends reached KMC Hospital by 6:30pm. This is how I got admitted into a Hospital at Manipal instead of College.
After re-examination and preparation I was taken into the Operation theater at 9:00pm. After the operation when I woke up from the affect of anesthesia the pain was gone. On the eighth day when the doctor opened the dressing he found the surgical wound unhealed. So they waited for few days and then opened alternate stitches to examine the wound. Two days later some complications developed and then all the stitches were removed and the opening was squeezed to let out the fluid that had accumulated there. After waiting for a couple of days for the partially open wound to dry up, superficial stitches were put. I was discharged from the hospital asking me to come again after a week for the stitches to be removed.
I was in the hospital for 26 days, mostly lying on bed with meager diet and sponge baths. I was weighing 65 Kgs. at the time of admission and 56 Kgs. at the time of discharge. I virtually learnt to walk again. I was not able to hold a glass of water without my hands trembling. Knowing of my condition in the hospital the Principal of my college, the hostel warden and few college students including some would be classmates visited me.

My father stayed with me until I joined college and I settled down at the hostel. The college authorities gave me a room on ground floor in VI Block and close to the Andhra Non-veg. mess. I had to put in a lot of hard work to cope up with the classes I had missed due to hospitalization.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This is how vegetables have come to our kitchen, over the years.

I did not have anything to do with vegetable procurement until I opted for voluntary retirement from service and started having ample spare time. It is now 7&1/2 years since I retired and in this period I have either accompanied my wife or I have on my own gone for shopping vegetables every week or more frequently. But I distinctly remember how we procured vegetables right from my childhood.

Since my childhood and for several years at Kothagudem, vegetable vendors passed by our bungalow at dawn on their way to the market. We had to look at their basket/Kavadi or ask them what they were carrying and buy our requirement. They were always in a hurry to reach the market but at the same time happy to sell en-route as it would lighten their burden. The vegetables were always fresh, just picked from the farms. Raw or cooked; they tasted the best.

We were also growing a variety of vegetables at the Kothagudem house during these years. Most common among them being, Bottle gourds, Snake gourds, Ridge gourds, Silk squash, Broad beans, Brinjals, Tomatoes, Pumpkins and Leafy vegetables. The care-taker of our 5-acre Mango garden on the way to Paloncha also used to get some vegetables he grew in our garden once or twice a month when he came to collect his wages or on some errand.

During the same time at our house in Secunderabad, there was a female vendor-Venkatamma coming with vegetables everyday in the afternoon. She used to come alone with a huge basket of vegetables and as years passed by she started getting an assistant, both carrying smaller baskets and in a rickshaw. She knew the entire family very well; she came every day to ask whether we needed any vegetables. She never allowed any other vendor to approach us. Told in advance she brought any vegetables of our choice the next day. Additionally she was also bringing us fish and crabs from time to time.  

After Venkatamma stopped coming, my wife and sister-in-law started getting vegetables from ‘Secudnerabad-Monda market’ once a week. After my retirement I began taking my wife to the Bowenpally Market yard for Vegetables and provisions shopping. This market was less crowded with ample space for car parking.

Shopping in these not so neat markets came to an end with ITC starting ‘Choupal’ an exclusive fresh vegetable outlet at Tar-bund crossroads, about four years ago. With a variety of fresh vegetables and un-seasonal cold storage vegetables and fruits on sale it became very popular. We went there once a week till about six months back with occasional purchases at ‘Food World’ and ‘Fresh @ Sindhi colony’ which are located very close to our house.

Now since six months we are having the best vegetable shopping experience at SPAR, located close to Somjiguda circle. There is ample 2-level car parking facility, the entire mall is well air-conditioned and apart from the sale of vegetables and fruits there is a well stocked departmental store.

Vendors selling day to day fresh vegetables at our door step would have been the best option but such vendors no longer sell fresh vegetables and the pricing is much higher than these grand malls and they cheat with the weights.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

God’s miracles are mostly - making people help people!

The other day I was stopped by somebody who was trying to reach an address at Chenoy Trade Center, Secunderabad, and was totally lost. When I gave him the right directions, he annoyed me by stating that he has already been to that area and there is no building by that name. What followed perplexes me and the gratitude expressed by that man astonishes me.
Five days a week, I and my wife go for an early morning walk at the Parade Grounds. On this particular day we returned home from the walk by 6:15am. Instead of having a cup of tea on return, I went out on my Motorbike to post a letter at the post box located near Gandhi statue on M.G. Road. On my way back I was stopped by this man at the Coupons Mall at Paradise, who gave me a slip of paper containing an address and asked for directions. He was looking for an Advocate’s residential address at Chenoy Trade Center which was within a Kilometer’s distance from where we stood. I gave him the instructions to reach the place and it was rather easy to describe the route as he had to take two crucial turns along that road to reach the place. He rather reacted oddly stating “Sir, I have arrived from Nizamabad at 3:30am and since 3 hours I am walking these roads in circles and I have been to the area directed by you, there is no such building there”. This reaction from him when I have sincerely given him the correct instructions annoyed me. I simply asked him to get on my Motorbike. He was taken aback; he just stared at me and sat on the vehicle. As I took him to the address I could feel that he was a worried man doubting my motives.
I stopped within the Chenoy Trade Center complex and told him that we have reached the address. He got down from the Motorbike but even then he did not seem to believe me. At that point, the Security person approached us and I told him of the address we are looking for and he pointed to the apartment of the Advocate. It was at this juncture that this man became extremely happy and instantly kneeled down to touch my feet in gratitude and said “You have appeared as God and helped me”. I was stunned at the way he expressed his gratitude and that too what I did was in reaction to establish the credibility of my directions. I just smiled and left.
For a man lost in the big city for over 3 hours and with no one to give him right directions his chance meeting with me who gave the right directions is normal. But me getting annoyed with his reaction and dropping him at the doorstep of his destination while I was anxious for my morning cup of tea is perplexing.
The whole day I was happy simply because I brought happiness to another man, a stranger in trouble.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lalitha & I got married, thirty years ago!

Yesterday on our 30th marriage anniversary we started receiving greetings and best wishes as 9th May started at 00:00 hours. This happened as we were returning from Bunny’s marriage at Bhadrachalam. We were in the bus bringing us back to Hyderabad and soon after 12:00 midnight; family members and relatives in the bus started shaking hands with us extending anniversary greetings and best wishes. We reached home by 07:30am and later got some special breakfast delivered for us at home. At 09:30am we went to Sri Ganesha temple at Secunderabad Railway Station. On the day of our marriage every year Abhishekam Seva is performed by us to Sri Ganesha. A letter inviting us for the Abhishekam at 05:30am on 9th May is sent to us by the temple authorities every year in advance. As we were late for Abhishekam, Archana was performed and ‘Theertha Prasadams’ given to us and also packed for us to carry home. On the way back we picked up sweets to be distributed amongst family and friends.
Throughout the day we received best wishes over phone and through SMS from my sister, nephews, nieces, cousins, other relatives and friends. My son Srinath, my nephew Bablu, my granddaughter Tussi and our daughter-like Subha called from overseas. Bunny and his bride reached home around 10:40am. Lalitha joined them after lunch to welcome and spend some time with them. I and Srikanth went out in the afternoon to buy gifts at Croma and Sony world in Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills area for ourselves. We originally planned to go out to some restaurant for dinner but as everyone was tired with the marriage trip we had to postpone this party to someday next week. In the meantime we decided to have a celebration at home along with my brother’s family and we had dinner together, entirely Chinese food. It was a long and happy day.
As someone said, it is true in our case too “Our wedding was many years ago but the celebration continues to this day!” 
God Bless You! God Bless Us All!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

About Bunny's marriage celebrations!

After attending Bunny’s marriage at Bhadrachalam on 8th May we returned home today (9th May) safely and with happy memories. After my last blog of 5th May, I could not post anymore during the last  3 days as I was busy with the marriage related events, travel and celebrations.

Bunny’s Upanayanam function took place on 6th May from 10:00am to 1:00pm. In our community this function is more popularly known as Odugu. The marriage celebrations commenced with this function. A large festooned Pandal was put up in front of the house and Sannai melam was played almost the whole day setting an atmosphere of festivity and happiness. I have much to say to describe the Odugu ceremony and its significance but that would be a deviation from the main topic. However two events of this ceremony were enjoyed by all and specially the youngsters. One is Bhikshatana, when Bunny went out of the house and sought alms from relatives surrounding him saying Bhikshaam dehi!  And the second one is when he decided to become a Sanyasi and go to Khasi but is prevented by the bride’s brother who pleads with him not to go on such a mission, he requests him to marry his sister and be with the family and then he washes his feet and brings him back into the house. After Odugu, we all had lunch and then Bunny was made Pellikoduku that is Bridegroom. This is done by applying turmeric paste on to him and gifting him with new clothes, gold rings and chains by the family and all close relatives. Many relatives kept arriving the whole day to make him Pellikoduku. It was a good family get-together and everyone was happy to be there.

On 7th May relatives started arriving from 12:00 Noon to travel to Bhadrachalam for the marriage. The two buses arranged to transport us were originally scheduled to start from Bunny’s house at Krishna Nagar Colony by 2:00pm but instead they arrived at 4:00pm and left with about 90 relatives and friends at 4:30pm. The buses were comfortable and with good Air conditioning. Because of heavy traffic en-route it took us almost 9 hours to travel 330 Km. to reach Bhadrachalam. It was 1:20am, 8th May, by the time we reached the AP Tourism Guest House, the place of our stay and the marriage ceremony. Dinner was arranged for us immediately on arrival and it was perhaps 3:00am by the time everyone settled down for a short sleep, in the rooms allotted to them. Srikanth who left Hyderabad on 7th night was to reach Bhadarachalam by 6:00am on 8th May, but his train was also late and he joined us at 8:00am.

On 8th May, during the day almost all relatives were busy, they visited Sree SitaRamachandraswamy temple, Godavari River and Parnashala which is 35 Km. from Bhadracalam. My brother-in-law, Y.G.K. Murthy, is an Excise Superintendant in Khammam district and Bhadrachalam is in his jurisdiction. He organized special darshanam at all local temples and arranged a very special lunch for about 12 members of our family. After a refreshing nap we joined the marriage rituals at 5:30pm. It started with Edurukollu during which time there was a pleasant drizzle. After a hot and sultry day it was a refreshing rain. After Edurukollu at the Guest House we all moved to the Kalyana Mandapam attached to the Guest House. Jheelakarra Bellam ceremony took place on dot as per Muhurtham at 7:30pm, followed by Mangalasutra dharana and Thalambralu. Dinner arrangements were made in the lawns adjoining the marriage hall.

We left Bhadrachalam at 10:45pm and reached Secunderabad by 7:00am on 9th May. After hectic activity in the past one & half day everyone was tired and managed to relax and get some rest during the return journey. Everyone was happy with the arrangements and the marriage celebrations. I have posted some photos of the journey and marriage in orkut and facebook, especially for my son Srinath, nephew Uday Bhasker, niece Sravanthi who are all abroad and ofcourse for all friends and relatives.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I once became a 'Marriage Purohit'!

My nephew, Udaya Bhasker’s marriage with Hina Narayan was solemnized on 8th February, 2007, at Lucknow. The marriage was performed in an orthodox, meticulous and elaborate manner as per the Srivatsav family customs. The Purohit who performed the marriage is a Sanskrit Pandit and the Principal of a local college. As he chanted the Slokas and Mantras, he also explained the meaning and significance of them in Hindi, for all of us to understand and appreciate. The wedding ceremonies commenced at 5pm and lasted up to 11pm that is for 6 hours.

Before leaving for Lucknow, we discussed the various stages and customs of the marriage ceremony and found majority of them to be similar with that of our family. However the following four important practices of the South were communicated to the bride’s family and it was decided that we would include these rituals as the marriage ceremony progresses. These practices were of the bride and groom applying Jhilakara-bellam on one another’s head, the groom adorning the bride’s neck with a Mangala Sutram by tying it with three knots, the bride and groom pouring rice mixed with turmeric - called Thalambralu over one another’s head and lastly the bride and groom playing a best of three game to find a Gold ring immersed in a pot of water. While some of these rituals were supervised by the ladies in our family the Managal Sutra Dharana Sloka was recited by me and its significance and meaning explained. I had practiced well for this part of mine and it went off well. That is how I claim to be a marriage priest for once; by conducting the most important ceremony of Mangala Sutra Dharana.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A week of celebrations!

Today is Monday, the starting day of another week.  And this is the week we have been waiting for some time! It is a week of many events and celebrations that are going to keep us busy. It is a time to meet a number of relatives and friends. My nephew, Kamal Nayan is getting married on Thursday, 8th May ’09. The long countdown has now come down to 5 days. There is hectic preparatory activity at my brother-in-law’s house. The enormous task of distributing the wedding invitations has almost come to a close. Shopping of garments and ornaments for the bride, groom and close relatives is completed. The above two statements seem as simple accomplishments but they are not.  With summer in full swing at Hyderabad it was not easy for the persons extending invitations. And the shopping was in installments and extended over few days. On one particular day the family members went out for shopping at 2 pm and returned home at 11 pm. Kamal’s Upanayanam and Pellikoduku ceremonies are on 6th May, that is day after tomorrow. The wedding ceremony is on 8th May, Sri Sathynarayana Swamy Vratham on 10th May and the reception on 11th May. The marriage is taking place at the bride’s native place - Burgampahad/Bhadrachalam, 330 Km. away from Hyderabad. We would be leaving for Bhadrachalam on 7th May by two private buses and returning back to Hyderabad on 9th May morning. In time to celebrate my marriage anniversary; on the evening of 9th May. Few other invitees would be travelling for the marriage on their own. My eldest son Srikanth would attend office on 7th May and travel separately that night by train and join us at Bhadrachalam on 8th morning and return back to Hyderabad along with us. Srinath, my youngest son who is at Birmingham for the last 8 months pursuing higher studies will not be able to participate in these celebrations. He has already missed quite a few family get-togethers and festivals. As usual this time also he is insisting on large number of photos of the occasion to be emailed to him immediately after the function. This request will keep Srikanth and me busy with the camera. We are all eagerly looking forward for the ceremonies!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mysterious occurrence!

Once in a while I experience some uncanny event which stuns me and leaves me wondering. One such occurrence, with a possibility of 2:9999, became true in my case.
When I bought a new Car few years ago, the Vehicle dealer/Show-room took up the responsibility of vehicle registration. They collected the required payment and application papers from me and pursued the matter with the Regional Transport Officer. On one day; I was asked to visit the RTO for some time, for verification of the vehicle. Subsequently they collected the registration papers from the RTO, readied the two Number plates required and asked me to get the car for fitment of Number plates. On seeing the Number plates I was surprised. The new Car registration number is AP10 AH 0221, while my old Car number is ADL 2210. I neither demanded nor wished for a 2210 or its closest match 0221 for my new Car. Both numbers appear similar and according to Numerology add up to 5. I do not know Numerology but mysteriously it seems to know what is good for me and has tried to ensure that! 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why this urge to travel?

My uncle travels a great deal, a little for business and more for pleasure. He is now 53 and is as enthusiastic to travel as he was in his teens. His love for travel is for the process of travelling rather than the place of visit. He prefers to travel by his Maruti Van, Maruti-1000cc Car or Chevrolet Tavera Van. Train and bus journeys are his next preferences. His love for travel has taken him to far off places like Nepal, Srilanka, Singapore, Thailand and many places of interest in India and almost every place around Hyderabad and in Andhra Pradesh.

Every week starting from Monday he plans and looks forward for the coming Sunday’s travel programme. One holiday, a short trip and two holidays a longer trip is a principle he holds close to his heart. If a plan for a regular long drive does not come through he has the Sunday Newspaper to help him.  He goes through the advertisements of Farmhouses and Plots for sale and any type of Exhibitions or Sales in and around the city and passes the day driving and visiting some or all of these places. His anxiety to travel is so immense that one-day he reported at the Airlines check-in counter well in time, to be told that his ticketing is for the next day! 

You may ask me how does he find so many new places, which he can travel to and return within two days. It is not a problem at all, my uncle does not get bored by driving to the same town, city, temple, monument, picnic spot etc., which he has just visited last week, last month or several times last year.

He normally goes on these weekly trips with those who are closest to his heart, consisting of some selective like-minded friends and relatives. Astonishingly he does not move out much with his family, which is quite opposite to the universal norm for a person of his age. Well, in this regard I have a special and unique uncle. This coterie of selective friends and relatives sometime play an important role in the weekly travel plans. They influence him to take them wherever they would like to go and he accepts the request as a command, as long as it involves a long ride that would keep him away from home, his busy business and city atmosphere. His trips, even after commencements are unpredictable. He may start on an exclusive pilgrimage to say Srisailam but once he is there and feels unsatisfied with the drive, he would change plans or get influenced by the coterie to extend the journey to Brahmamgari Matam, Tadipatri, Srikalahasthi, Tirupathi and back to the city via Vijayawada. This means travelling a distance six times to what was originally planned.

Talking about planning, most of his train journeys are finalised hours before the departure of the train or a day before the journey resulting in waitlisted tickets. Further to this, on his last minute encouragement, some members of his group join him for the travel without tickets. He enjoys taking care of such tough situations and tries to make the trip an unforgettable experience. Same is the case with Hotel accommodation, he loves spot reservations and living with any type of instantaneous solutions. There is another unique food related specialty with my Uncle, while travelling. Whenever he has to stop for lunch or dinner en-route or at destinations he first visits the local market to buy chicken and then takes the live fowl to a Dhaba to get it cooked under his personal supervision to suit his taste. He enjoys and boasts of such exploits. Don’t you think my uncle is very very special?

The Coterie I am talking about is always encouraging him to go on such trips. These trips are full of fun for them. Perhaps because they don’t have to care about getting the Car prepared for the trip, worry about train reservations, bother about driving, think about availability of accommodation, drinks and food en-route and so many other travel related conveniences. It is like winning a lottery of an all–paid holiday in a chauffeur driven Car.

Another episode that took place recently is equally interesting. My uncle along with his eldest son went to Goa on a five-day trip, surprisingly with confirmed - to & fro train reservations. On reaching Goa they could not find Hotel accommodation as per their expectations. Without second thoughts they forgot Goa and got into a Konkan Railway train and traveled about 400 Km. south to Udipi. They stayed there and visited local temples, Manipal, Malpe beach etc. and instead of returning to Hyderabad from there – as it is much closer, they once again went to Goa to board the return train to Hyderabad.  I cannot understand the logic behind all this travel in the name of Goa, can you?

Once back in the city, with last week’s travel wish fulfilled, he seems happy for a few hours. But from the very next moment the urge for yet another trip commences and with that - restlessness, to move out of the house once again.

Friday, May 1, 2009

About Sudhiksha's career!

This pretty child with a charming smile is Sudhiksha. She is the granddaughter of Dr. Lakshminarsu, my elder brother.  I am writing this blog to consider the possibilities of Sudhiksha becoming a Dental Surgeon, like her grandfather.  At the outset, I think if the choice of her career is left entirely to her or to my brother, she would certainly graduate to become Dr. Sudhiksha, yet another Dental surgeon in the family. Even now, as a child she loves going to brother’s Dental Clinic and spends considerable time there. Many patients are her friends. She goes to two play schools every day, to ‘Cubs’ in the morning and to ‘Roots to Wings’ in the evening. At ‘Roots to Wings’ she must have talked a great deal about her grandfather and his clinic and this prompted the teachers to seek permission and bring all the teeny-weeny children on an excursion to the clinic. She was proud and happy with this development as her mother and grandfather was explaining about brushing techniques and dental care to her friends and classmates. I know that it is too early to discuss Sudhiksha’s career, but for many in Andhra this is a big pastime. As soon as a child is born; schools, colleges and careers are chosen and even plans of American education and Green Card are made.
My brother is the first Dental Surgeon from our community in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. When he established his clinic in Secunderabad, his clinic was the fourth in the city. Several years later, when the eldest of his two son’s Sudheer appeared for the Medical and Dental college admission test ‘EAMCET’, he scored a good rank. He was eligible for a seat in MBBS but due to my brother’s desire and Sudheer’s interest; B.D.S., was opted. Later Dr. Sudheer did his Post-graduation at the prestigious A.I.I.M.S., New Delhi. He is an Oro-Maxillo-Facial Prosthodontist & Implantologist. My brother was particular that his daughter-in-law also should be a Dental Surgeon. So Dr. Sudheer’s marriage was solemnized with Dr. Lavanya a Cosmetic Dental Surgeon. Sudhiksha is the daughter of Dr. Sudheer and Dr. Lavanya.
In a similar fashion, brother’s youngest son Dr. Udaya Bhasker studied B.D.S., and then M.D.S., from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. He is an Endodontist and Conservative Dentist. His wife Dr. Hina, you might have already guessed! is also a Dental Surgeon! and in specific a Periodontist. By now you must have lost count of the Dental Surgeons I have mentioned so far; there are five in the family.
Now I don’t have to tell you about Sudhiksha’s career, you already know what she is going to be, unless God wills something different. May God bless her richly and fulfill all her wishes.

Incredible Coincidence!

784533 - This is a number known to our family since 1980. It is a number we all had to remember then and even today, with of cou...