Celebrate Love

I asked, via my newsletter and boy, did I receive?!

I asked what your favorite love story, line, quote or experience with love as your emotion and experience and I got enough and plenty that I had to go tile them up and make them all pretty to look at too, not just the words but even how they looked while you read them :-)

So, without further chatter, here they are!

1. A dear reader and a friend from the real world sent me this and made my day and I smiled,  happily, tad self-consciously to hear such praise and thank God I get some reminders! Thanks SG!

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2. This is also from another dear friend, AN, who emailed that he liked the newsletter and that this was his favorite. Guess what, it’s my favorite too! I can’t tire reading it, and most likely will read it this month. :-)

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3. Sammy sent me this. Sweet sweet thing I met a couple of years ago, we met via blogs, and romance is so high in her life considering she is a newly wed and all that, but hey, Alai Payuthey is an amazingly romantic sweet and lovely movie and the actors are adorable as are the sequences of love and romance. Even old boring listless folks may have seen a sparkle after that!

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4. Padma sent me this. She’s a mom and well and deeply sunk into marriage and boredom, but she says the best part of her day comes with the look in her husband’s eyes when she jumps with joy watching movies and she loves movies! Go figure :-)

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5. Hugh as he goes by told me that every love, no matter what kind grows only when you feed it. Love is work, but worth it, but you gotta feed it! So there. Food for thought?

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6. As silly as this sounds, it’s the smallest things that matter in a relationship. SS is a blog reader and she always always sends me a short mail when a post speaks to her. She said, that her brother mentioned this of his wife of 18 years. He said that she was the happiest when he left the last piece of cake/bread for her, which of course gets ultimately shared between them, but the fact that he tells her “it’s for you” or “I saved this for you” gets a crazy wild and happy sparkle in her eyes and it just makes him so happy seeing her like that.

One collective huge aw. No? :)

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7. Cold winters are a nightmare. Just by doing this alone scores tremendous brownie points in my book and looks like in her book too! It’s always the smallest things. :-)

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8. Z, a twitter buddy sent this out and I realized how both the emotions were equally important! It’s not enough to love a man, but it’s important to like him enough to sustain that love. No? I think so. People don’t give “like” part of their relationship enough value. and no, they are not the same, and one may evolve into the other, but retaining the like is so much more valuable for longer and happier relationships, in my book at least.

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9. THIS is how SG’s husband convinced her to marry him. By telling her to be practical and wise and accept his proposal coz he surely loved her more and to marry someone who loves you a lot more is a sure way to a happy fabulous life. ;-)

Smart man. Wise woman. Happily married with two kids and they are a joy to watch, even in pictures!

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10. M on twitter mentioned this, and I had to google it, and well, it is a proposal in a book where two high-brow characters propose and accept to get married. Romantic enough words? Latin is romantic? I still prefer French and their rolling r’s but hey, I’ll take Latin! :)

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11. What a line. Simple and seemingly obvious on the archaic, permissions, it speaks of gallantry and elegance in the tradition of romance and tenderness. <3

Z sent this one in too, and there is an old-world charm that will never go out of style. Nope.

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12. KR from twitter sent me this as part of his post, on his interpretation of love. It is true isn’t it though? Love is an emotion that entertains and graces one who let’s it go. Who is not tethered down by fears and insecurities and to just allow the emotion to consume you, take you in. It’s very neat in fact. :) IMG_1565

13. AK said this to his best friend. During courtship and a perfectly romantic period in his and her life, where every line and word spoken between them meant something more than just words, and the smiles they shared between the letters and the unsaids that echoed the thoughts that synchronized and rang in harmony.

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***

There is beauty in love, camaraderie and friendship.

There is love even there isn’t seen by the naked eye. Sometimes, like the unseen sea breeze, it can only be felt, at times it’s like the tempest. Like the wind, it can only be felt, but not seen. When it can be seen, it’s almost always disguised to the naked eye.

When it is raw, it is beautiful. Stark and plain beautiful. So gorgeous it can overwhelm you from within and exhaust you and leave you breathless. Like me, now.

***

All tiles done in Parable app. It’s like Noteography app, and has some ways to go to make it more social and interactive within the ecosphere, but it’s cute as is. Try it maybe? (nope, they didn’t pay me to say it, just a friendly recommendation)

ugadi 2012


Nandana
naama samvatsara shubhakaankshalu

ugadi pachadi

Such a lovely name of the year? I love it. Especially when compared to the last two years. Such misfits those were.

So anyways, happy Hindu calendar new year to all Telugus, Kannadikas and Maharashtrians. I am sure there are a couple more communities, I’ve missed, but consider the above wish all-inclusive!

The picture above is from 2008. No, there is no need to drop your jaw in awe at my organization skills, WP saves all pictures for me, I just had to pilfer my own and use it! What can I say, am modest :-)
BUT regardless of how old this is, I would have done the exact same thing this year too. Rather tomorrow morning as the new year dawns.

Our Cherry blossom tree is brimming with gorgeous baby pink flowers. The Ganesha has always been my favorite and my Pachchadi is always the same! So all is well.

This year is goingto be heavy on our heads and minds as we gear towards kids’ final years as high schoolers and as they (and us) gear ourselves as they prepare to leave home for college and as adults. We would all be floating between decisions big and small, stresses of various forms and shapes, of concern, of fear and of ambivalency on where we are headed.

Nothing any more new than other parents before us have experienced and the ones who follow us will go through. It’s a phase of life that we will have to cross with strength and faith. I have always believed that we are essentially made of grit and determination and integrity. We believe in ourselves and as much as circumstances and situations will sway us, eventually we will find our way back to what we are made of.

Humans have short memories of their capabilities and reserve of strength to carry themselves through. I am a human and I have more than forgotten my ability to achieve when i set my mind to do it. After the series of injuries and health issues of the past two years, I never dreamed that I would ever be able to get back to walking for periods of time, without having to look for a seat. I avoided the mall and travel. My body did, my mind yearned to push against it, until one day my mind kicked my body and here I am training and pushing myself to slowly reach small goals that I have set for myself.

I am very proud of myself today. I walked 2.30 miles. By myself. Through the woods, through inclines, through lonely empty roads, in a huge circuit and I brought me home in one piece without falling down or calling in for help. I didnt think i could do it. My knee did hurt, my quads pulled me through. More interestingly, I did not plan for it, but I cannot bring myself to pinpoint what was it that drove me on straighter on the path rather than to turn around.

It’s a small but definite step. I am not sitting complaining of foot pain or asking for a massage. Even January my feet hurt. They don’t anymore. I cannot be happier. Saturday I do the pi-miler of 3.14 miles. Till yesterday I was anxious if I’d be able to do it or not. Today I know I can do it. I may be slow, and I may stop and I may be the last one among all who race with me, but I *know* I will complete it.

THAT makes me very happy.

Onto a better year in health and wisdom. Wealth can wait for one more year.

#2012

There are two times in a year when there is intense pressure to feel something, do something. These are the days preceding

1. When the whole world starts afresh on a new lap around the sun

2. When we turn a year older along that same lap.

It’s a lot of pressure.

Pressure to make a difference, pressure to reflect, pressure to party, pressure to be good, pressure to be bad if the last year was too good, pressure to not repeat the past year, pressure to be stronger in mind, pressure to not feel like a loser, pressure to become fit (it’s actually become thin, but we shall stick to politically correct ideas here) and such, including the pressure to have a resolution.

Every channel, magazine, blog (including mine now), from December 29th through January 5th are addressing this issue.   That is the standard question that’s aimed at you regardless of where you go. Even the grocery store.

I buy Chobani greek yogurt, fruits and oatmeal, and the nice middle-aged lady at the checkout who is usually tight-lipped breaks into a grin as she asks me:

“New year’s resolution to eat healthy I see!”

In a society that swims and shudders under the everydays, I am guessing most thrive on this particular time of the year. It’s a time to fix it all, make amends and feel like you’ve been given a second (regardless of how many years you have been around) chance to fix things. It’s redemption. It is also a time to look back and surprisingly feel  good about ourselves. The ones that really stick with us are the extreme incidents.

The awesome and the ugly. The good and bad are usually best forgotten, our days are filled with them that our sub-conscious couldn’t care to hold it all together. Space is precious.

We aren’t new and generations will continue to go through the pangs of January. The month is in itself an indication of expectations set on us by the Romans. January is named after Roman God, Janus: the one with two heads, one looking behind and one looking ahead. He is apparently the custodian of the Universe in which we live. The gate keeper.

The idea was that by looking behind us, we can learn from our “mistakes” and look forward to a better year as a better person.

With firm tradition in place, there really is no escape for us who do not want the burden of falling for this resolutions and goal settings. Didn’t our ancestors also say that”History repeats itself”. We all know for a fact that the list that we judicially and painfully pen down is a deja vu moment. The one that repeats itself every New year. From the time we become adults I mean. Don’t believe me, grab the nearest kid around you (kid by definition is a person who isn’t an adult! :-) ) and ask

“So buddy, what’s your new year resolution”

Pat will come the answer: “resolution? Just to survive I guess:” will be one cocky teenager’s while a smaller pint size may reply with “what’s a resolution” and if you take the time to explain, they would still come back with “I donno” and go promptly back to their game or book. Or they may come back and say “eat more candy (insert favorite food) and play more (insert favorite game)

He’d be right. The child is not capable of looking that further ahead into time to balance the pros,cons and repercussions of the actions that govern the thoughts of that day.

I would love to be a kid.

Unfortunately, that isn’t a luxury anymore, so I, along with the rest of the adults will reflect and form some resolution and promise my image in the mirror. Though, truth be told, one cannot be held responsible for anything we say to ourselves on a hangover morning. Hangover of any kind of the night before. Finding our toothbrush and remembering what we ate for dinner last night would be a challenge in itself, where is the question of remembering what we tell ourselves that moment?

I have some goals for me to accomplish. I’d like to get to that place in 2012, but I have learnt not to trust life and situations that awkwardly jump at you from nowhere. After all, we are supposed to learn from our past. We know our strengths and we know that we ought be reasonable in our demands. Sometimes I think having one large goal and a multitude of smaller ones leading to the large goal may help. Divide and conquer as they say.

Ive known folks who have excel spreadsheets of goals. To be attained according to timeframes. The organization and grit bowls me over. I am not organized to the tee, and after desperate attempts as resolutions on new years and otherwise, I have resolved not to have any organisation based resolutions. Learning from the past,so to speak.

But I do envy them, coz they seem better strategists and are willing to go that extra mile to get to where they want to go. A recent revelation was that I do best with visual cues. So I took a lesson from these super organized (and successful) folks and added in a bit of me and now I have visual cues on what I have to do to reach a place.

I like deadlines to be my guide more than my boss. I don’t do too well with authority. Even from my own sub-conscious. So this works well, for now.

So what’s my resolution for 2012? Nothing yet. Am sure it will have something to do with fitness and writing. Something that will affect this site too.

But …this is deja vu.  I had similar plans for 2011, and for 2010 too.

Somehow, lessons of the past are like childhood blankets. They smell bad but when engulfed in them, the warmth is comforting.

Have a good 2012 all!

making your own clay Ganesha

Note: This post is image heavy, so patience please.

Not the one that Parvati made like the legends say, but the simpler human version that we can make for the puja coming up in two days, or even for fun.

Ive been making my own clay Ganesha for quite a few years now, a pure nostalgic need that takes me back to my childhood. The showering, wearing pattu pavadai, with a rice plate in hand as I accompany my father (and occasionally my whining annoying younger sister: most younger sisters are) to choose and select the best looking one out of a few hundred lining the street corner. They were all from the same mold, but somehow there was this chemistry that happened between us and one particular one, and we’d bring him home; along with an umbrella and the specific flowers that were given importance only during that day.

Thankfully, since we always start school after Labor Day weekend, which is the first Tuesday in September, and Ganesh Chaturthi falls during that last weekend, it’s always a pleasure to be able to celebrate this festival for all that it stands. A new school year and we pray to Ganesha (the remover of all obstacles) before we head out.

Over the years, many have asked, commented and emailed for instructions on making their own too. This is my simple version of how to make one yourself, if you are not fortunate enough to be in India at this time of the year, or even if you do want to personalize the festival by making one yourself.

I also realize that there are many videos out there that explain how to make one, but each are slihtly different in approach, and materials used. Use whatever works best for you, and don’t forget the single most reason for doing this. No matter how it turns, it is your very own Ganesha, so be proud and have faith. Wish you a good year ahead :)

Materials:

I use Modeling clay. The kind that will not harden with time or with exposure to air. Once you are more comfortable or if you want to make a firmer structure, then use Polymer Care and follow directions on the package.  You can get this at any craft store (in the US) – Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabrics, AC Moore and sometimes even in Walmart. Costs about $3 and one slab is plenty for one 6 inch Ganesha.

Rolling Pin

Sharp pointed edge – pencil or chopstick

A small ball or you can also roll aluminum foil into a ball and use – optional if you do not want to use clay as a beginning base. This is for the base of the body. A ping pong ball would be for a Ganesha smaller than 4″ and such. Use your judgement.

That’s it, unless you want to decorate a plate or wooden plaque or something similar where you want to place the statue.

Step 1: Cut 1/4 of the clay and roll it into a thin sheet. Will need some pressure as it will be packed initially. Place the ball in the middle and knead the clay to completely wrap it, add more clay as necessary till you are satisfied with the width of the ball. Flatten one side of it so that will be the bottom on which the statue would rest.

Step 2: Make the various body parts. Head, an oblong pieces, ears, hands, trunk and legs, by kneading the clay into the various shapes. This will take some working as the scale needs to be adjusted according to the rest of the body. Making them slightly larger than you would project will help, as you can always remove than add.

Step 4: Attache the ears together with a small piece of clay in between. Then add the small oblong piece in the front like so. Scale it in such a way that the top oval of the head will be above the tip of the ears.

Step5: Now comes the putting it together.

Visualize Gamesha. He is portly with a large stomach that bulges out before him. His ears are huge. The only two parts that are out of proportion to his otherwise human body. (I could argue on the paunch, but it may border on irreverence, so I won’t :-) ) His trunk is in proportion to his body, and so are his arms and legs. I always design in such a way that he has his left leg/ knee bent down and flat against the ground, and the right leg is bent at the knee in front of him. The left hand holds the modaka and the right palm is raised to bless us.

Add more clay in the front of the base and knead to make the front curve out, in an oblong. Smooth as you go along.

Add the smaller ball on top and make it more like one extended slightly slimmer piece going up. The indentation between the chest and the stomach should be marked to an extent.

Step 6: Place the left leg parallel to the ground, close to the body and knead, smooth it close to attach it the complete length, except for the foot, that will be perpendicular and pointing out from the body. Place the right knee also against the body and knead it in. With the foot resting on the ground, so it will be level with the base.

Step 7: The head comes in. Place it above the torso and smooth it so that there really is no neck. Remember, elephants don’t have a prominent neck? Smooth it out all around, like so. Add the hands at the shoulder level, there should be some shoulder (read clay ledge) at the same plane on both sides, and the hands are a projection on either side, so they attach and slope below, like they do for us humans. Get the hands closer to the body, adjust the elbows at right angles. The left palm will hold the modaka and the right hand’s palm turn up to face us.

Don’t worry too much at the smaller detail, for now, the focus is on getting the scale right.

If the right knee isn’t working out for you, you can do the exact same thing as with the left leg. Place it slightly outer and ahead of the left foot at the ankle region, like so.

Step 8: The ears get some attention. Since they are large, larger than proportion, and they should also  have a gentle feel at teh edges to them, attaching these will take some time and effort. The kneading is done so that the ear hollows to where it is attached and then extends out back into the same plane. The shape is important, and also, the top of the ear could be at the level of the top of the head or below, but usually not above. Curve the outer top edge in, so it has a real feel to it :)

Step 9: We now attach the trunk. The trunk should be bulbous at the top, and narrows down and curves whichever way you so choose. Place it about halfway on the head piece, and extend it down all the way to fall gently on the stomach. Not too long, but about halfway down to his waist. Just above the belly button, which you will make with a pencil point just around the largest diameter of the belly. Knead, smooth and add the “three patte” on the trunk with the pencil point.

Step 9: Adjust the head and shape/knead/smooth so that it maintains its shape and becomes oblong and the cheeks lay at a slant and behind the trunk, and slope away down.

Step 10: The accessories

Add a thin white thread or use clay (your choice) for the Jandhyam or poonal or the holy thread. It goes over the LEFT shoulder.(huge faux pas before, thanks to Mytri who pointed it out. This is what happens when you sit into the night working on malleable materials while the whole house is asleep, bah! )  I usually take some regular white thread about 6 inches or so in length, tie the ends up, and slip it over him, such that it falls below the trunk.

Add the eyes with a pencil indentation. If you so please, add a black bead, or a white sparkly stone, or whatever suits your fancy. Sometimes, I leave him plain and don’t dress him much.

Add the Three lines or patte. On his forehead and on his trunk.

Add the tiny modaka.

Add the Vahana – tiny mouse. Its quite simple half a circle, a smaller half a circle and a tiny tail.

I don’t add an umbrella or any more jewelry etc, but just add some kumkum when I place him on the rice plate before we start the puja.

Here is your final piece:

A song I love to chant, sing and dance. The words, the tune and then there is MSS. :-)

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi all.

May everyone have a successful school year and/or rest of the year until we celebrate Him again.

***

Hope this helped. I apologize for being late with this, it’s a busy time of the year. If you do attempt this, I’d be very happy if you could post and link me via comments or comment here, so I can take a peek. It’s always heartening to know one’s time was worthy and was of some use.