Belief - Beyond Comprehension

Every visit to our farm house brings in new experience, as it is set in a remote village. The native villagers mostly live along with nature, may be that could be due to non-urbanization! Look at what I was intrigued at this time!
These are plantain stems. First I thought these people were slicing the stem and drying it up to make crisps, but I have never heard of such a thing. Well, we normally add these in daal or finely chop and toss it up and use as a side dish along with rice based meal. Now, curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to know what exactly it was, so started chatting up with the lady who was deftly making these stuff. She was equally excited to explain what she was doing!

They were oil lamp wicks, which is used in Hindu special prayers and it was called as வாழைத்தண்டு திரி (Vazhaithandu Thiri)! Meticulously she showed me how to make it...here we go

Slice the stem > pull out the fiber > wrap it > dry it. Roll the dried ones and make a wick, whenever you want to light the lamp. It is believed that lighting lamp with this wick will be relinquish any form of curse! 

Colorful Gooseberries n Folklore

Gooseberry! admit it, mouth waters at the very thought of it and the second you take a bite, you have a pursed lips and screwed up eyes, because of the inherent sour taste! 

When we came across these colorful berries at the road side in Yelagiri (a laid back high-land in Tamil Nadu in India), we just stopped by to try it out! To our pleasant surprise, we were told that these are local gooseberries (நெல்லிக்காய்)! Until then, I h'v thought that the color of these berries are shades of pale green. 

They used to sell gooseberries in front of school. All we had to do was shell out a small change and get a hand full of small sized அரெ-நெல்லிக்காய் or a big நெல்லிக்காய், of course with all the works including salt, chilli powder and blackish coarse mustard. 
Our World
If you grew up learning Tamil, am pretty sure you have heard Ovvaiyar (ஒவ்வையார்) and gooseberry (நெல்லிக்கனி/நெல்லிக்காய்) at least once! The folklore says that king Adiyamaan (அதியமான் ) once got a gooseberry which is supposed to increase his life span. The king after deep contemplation gave this to ஒவ்வையார் believing that increasing her lifespan means good to the society at large as she is not only a great poetess, but strives to bring peace among neighbouring rulers too! Such a noble hearted ruler!

Look at the ripe ones! They were not sweet, but certainly had a crispy tangy taste with a punch.

ஒரு வேளை ஒவ்வையார் உண்ட நெல்லிக்கனி இப்படி இருந்திருக்குமோ?


Reality of Coming Home

This is my Competent Communicator Level 2 speech script (CC2) @ Toastmasters!

How many of you have lived outside India or out of your home town?

To me both the experience are more or less the same – to have a smooth transition I would say that you need to keep 3 important aspects in mind:
  • Pace & prepare
  • Setting right expectation
  • Adaptation 

Like most of us, when I went to live abroad, I was all excited. This excitement alone helped me to cope up the new situation, in spite of not being prepared.

Our World Tuesday Blue
But the scenario dramatically changed when we came home as repatriates. We thought of giving ourselves some time to decide if we really wanted to stay back. 

While we were trying to figure out the right school for my daughter, I took up this new full time job after being a freelancer for more than 4 years. I was apprehensive about the work culture, in terms of timing and commuting. Suddenly, everything seemed too much for me, and the worst part is I was not prepared for what was in store for me, I just was overwhelmed. Even to take an auto or bus was a challenge because the dust and pollution was taking it’s toll on me. Some of you, R has seen my initial days in SW. How I used to get rashes and cough constantly. This was mainly because I was trying to rush things and get going. Instead of giving time, I thought that self- driving would help me to overcome the situation, without realizing that I would have road-rage.

It is all about expectations, I think I was having very high expectations on my driving skills. I was trying to follow road rules and be courteous on road, but I found everything on road was chaotic and couldn't believe that I used to ply the same roads without any difficulty! I was getting all worked up and swear that the road users had no civic sense. Basically, my expectations were incorrect and I was unable to cope up. When I tried discussing these issues with friends it was not well received. I was scorned and criticized that I was behaving as if am living in Chennai for the first time. If only I was more tolerant and set my driving expectations lower, I could have easily avoided getting into this reverse culture shock!

Once you know what to expect, adapting should be easy. But, since I was not tuned to setting expectations, adapting was also difficult. Usually, we do things habitually, so for anything and everything, we try to draw parallels based on our past experience. During my initial expat days, while shopping or be it vegetables or dresses, I used to convert Ringgit or pounds to Rupees and used to wonder why it is so expensive. When I came back, I had to re-learn in using rupees on a daily basis. I was getting all excited about how cheap things are. But, this excitement was taken as snobbishness and any casual remark was scorned. Finally, my mom did knock some sense in me by reminding that there is nothing to be excited about, and now, we were earning in Rupees and not in Ringgit!

See, everything boils down to preparing for the situation, setting right kind of expectation and adapting to the situation. Basically, when you are in Rome be a Roman. You can easily escape typical jibes of being labelled as ‘foreign returned’!

As soon as I saw the green card for 5 min indication…I rushed to finish and skipped to talk about this! So the speech had a tone as if am not happy to be back home. Actually I meant to close by telling how it is not always necessary to unlearn things that you have picked up as an expat!

Then, it doesn’t mean that you need to unlearn whatever you have learnt as an expat. For example, when a stranger smiles at me I used to turn back and see to confirm if they were actually smiling at me. Because, normally here I was not used to this simple act. But, now I still continue to smile at strangers too, without a second thought as a good will. 


Batu Caves

According to Hindu belief there is a saying that wherever there is a hill, lord Muruga resides. Batu Caves in Kula Lumpur is no exception to this belief. Early Hindu settlers of the 19th century made this beautiful natural limestone hills/caves as the abode of lord Muruga. Now, the 142 foot tall Golden Muruga stands majestically at the foot of the caves.

This is a holy worship place. But, some of the locals (non-Hindus) were treating the place as an exercise spot...so the temple management has put up a notice board to stop this kind of practices.

You need to climb 282 steps to reach the first level of natural caves. And, while hiking up you might feel breathless. But, the cool breeze that welcomes you at this height is so refreshing that you forget the tiredness.

Here, Moolavar or the main deity resides.

Then the second level is an open cave, again Muruga graces here in a different posture.

Batu Caves - Our World

Thai Pusam festival is celebrated annually in a large scale and it is declared as a public holiday! Even after a couple of weeks after this festival, the devotees throng to this place...

Look at the fantastic bird's eye view of Kuala Lumpur from the top of this hill.

Though going down the stairs is effortless, you need to be careful, as the steps are narrow and high. It is better to climb down in a zigzag fashion to make the descent easier.


Pen Thoughts

It was love at first sight, for my husband, on a pen^^. The minute he set his eyes on this Alan Dlouis Pen, he had to have it.

Unlike Gen Y or nexters, ink pens were part of growing up for Gen X. We used to get a new pen, usually at the beginning of an academic year, along with other goodies like new school bag, pencil case & water bottle.

Come to think of it, besides the inconvenience of refilling ink every now and then, it does have an attraction or may be just I'm nostalgic. At times the pen would leak and there would be ink on fingers, notebooks and even on the school uniform. The best fun was trying to get few drops of ink from a friend's pen, because we have missed to fill it up. By doing that spill few drops, never had a care how to remove those stains! 

We used to exchange our pen with friends as well, and at home we had to explain why we do this! 

Our World
There is an adage often quoted in Indian movies, "Pen is mightier than the sword". Well, now "keyboard is the sword"! However, I recall ink-pens being used as swords by boys in fighting, and especially on 1st of April, they smear ink on friend's back and of course get reprimanded by teachers:) 

Come to think of it, I'd say that now pens have lost it's significance, well NOT when we are in a meeting and trying to scribble something or doodle :D

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