A story of Ganesh – Hindu Mythology

 

Lord GaneshGanesh is born of divine parents and is himself a divine being. According to the Hindu mythology, in the snow-capped mountains of Kailash, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, the divine couple, live with their two divine children,Ganesh and his brother Karthik, also known as Karthik.

This is a tale of those days when both Ganesh and Karthik were very young.

Ganesh being the elder son, was full of patience and wisdom. Karthik, on the other hand, was impish and playful. But both were intelligent and powerful.

The two brothers had much difference in their physique. While Ganeshhad a massive body with a big belly and an elephant’s head, young Karthik was a beautiful boy with strong limbs. They were kind to everybody and were loved by all.

Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi loved their two children and they in turn were devoted to their parents. The Devas (deities) were pleased with the lovely divine children and they worshipped them.

But one day, as the Devas talked about the qualities of the brothers, a doubt arose in the mind of one of them.
“Who is the wiser of the two brothers?” he asked the others “Ganesh or Karthik?”

Soon this doubt spread to all the Devas. All of them were talkingand expressing their opinion about the matter. But no one could surely decide upon the matter. As they racked their brains to solve the issue, suddenly, a Deva got an idea.

“I know whom to ask!”, said he. As others looked at him curiously, he continued, “Lord Brahma. He is the Creator of the world. He should know the answer, so let’s ask him! He can surely solve this doubt.”
Without any more delay, the Devas rushed to Brahma and asked their Creator about their doubt. Brahma was surprised to see all the deities, together.

“Such a pleasant surprise! What brings you here?”

The Devas told Brahma about their doubt. “O lord Brahma, who is the wiser brother?”, asked they, “Ganesh or Karthik?”

“Alas, I do not know!” replied Brahma. “I am the creator of mankind, not divine beings.Ganeshand Karthik were born to the celestial gods Shiva and Parvathi.”

The Devas were disappointed. Even the Brahma did not know! Then they would not be able to have an answer, after all.

Looking at their glum faces, Lord Brahma decided to help them. “It is true that I do not know who is the wiser of the two young Gods”, he thought. “But I can probably find it out with the help of my son Narada”.

Narada, the son of Lord Brahma, was a mischievous sage who was famous for creating disputes. Wherever he went, he created trouble.

But if he got away with all his pranks and without getting cursed it was only because the trouble he caused usually ended on a happy note.

“Narada, help the Devas. Find the answer to their question,” said Brahma after explaining the problem.
“Certainly, Father,” replied Narada, and his eyes twinkled naughtily, smelling an opportunity to play a prank.

Using his magical powers Narada swiftly flew over the white mountains of Kailash and, in no time, arrived at the divine abode of Shiva and Parvathi. He was warmly welcomed by the heavenly couple.

Siva and Parvathi“0 Shive, Saviour of theUniverse!, O Devi Parvathi !” Narada praised the lord. “I thank you for your warm welcome. It is indeed a pleasant joy and an honour to see you both together as the Divine couple”.

Everyone knew about Narada’s mischievous nature. Shiva understood that Narada was up to some mischief. “Now tell us the truth. I can sense some mischief brewing in your mind. What is the prank you are planning to play on us?” he said jokingly.

Narada pretended to be hurt. “You greatly insult me, Lord Shiva! I have just come here to give you a gift,” he said in a sorrowful voice.

“A gift for me? What is it Narada?”, asked Lord Shiva. Narada, hearing the eagerness in Shiva’s voice smiled to himself in amusement. He produced a golden mango and gave it to the Lord.

“A mango!” exclaimed Shiva. “Now don’t say you travelled all the way here to give me this fruit.”

“It is no ordinary fruit, my Lord,” Narada replied. “The taste of this fruit is said to be sweeter than nectar. This is the divine fruit of knowledge that bestows eternal wisdom to those who eat it.

“Is it so?” asked Shiva, looking at the mango. He then asked his wife Parvathi to have a bite.

“No, stop!” cried Narada. “What are you doing?”

Lord Shiva looked at Narada curiously. “Why? Do you want me to eat it without letting Parvathi taste it? I am goingto share it with her”. Saying so, he turned to share the fruit with his wife, Goddess Parvathi.

Narada shook his head in disagreement. “That cannot be done, Lord Shiva. It is a magical fruit, blessed by the sages and Devas. It is not possible to cut the mango into pieces. It should be eaten by a single person as a whole fruit”.

The divine couple looked at each other. They were confused. Then Lord Shiva shrugged. “If that is the case, let my better half have this fruit. Here Parvathi, you can have this whole mango,” he said, offering the mango to his wife.

Parvathi was surprised. “Oh no, I don’t want it! You are my husband. How can I eat it without you having a taste of it?” she refused.

Both Lord Shiva and Narada requested her to eat the fruit but Parvathi steadily declined. “Instead, let one of our children have the fruit,” she suggested.

“But, how is that possible?” asked Narada slyly. “There is one fruit and two children. Who should be given the fruit – Ganesh or Karthik?”

While the elders were talking,Ganesh and Karthik appeared in Kailash. They saw that their parents and Sage Narada were having some serious talk on something. Then Karthik noticed something yellow and round in Narada’s hand.

“What is Uncle Narada having in his hand ?” Karthik said to Ganesh.Ganesh was equally curious.

“ This is a magical mango, Karthik, “Narada replied, as he heard Karthik’squestion. “I gave it to your Father but he wanted your Mother to eat it. But she won’t have it. She wants to give it to one of you”.

“A magical mango? I love mangoes!”, shouted Karthik, “I want it! I want it!”.

“No, no, it should come to me. I love mangoes too! I’m the eldest son andthe right one to eat the fruit of knowledge,” argued Ganesh. Soon the brothers started fighting.

The divine parents were perplexed. This is nothing but a mountain out of a molehill. Lord Shiva looked at Narada. “So this is why you came toKailash! I knew it! I knew there was something in your mind. Well done Narada, you have finally played the trick. This is why you came here. But now that you have created trouble, please solve it. You decide to whom the mango should go to,” he said firmly.

Narada was delighted that his plan wasworkingso well. “Why don’t we could have a competition to settle the matter?” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

“The children agreed to Narada’s suggestion. Lord Shiva thought over the matter.

“All right, then.” said he, “We’ll have a contest. Whoever of you goes around the world three times and returns first will get the fruit ,” he said to his children.

Hearing this, Karthik immediately mounted his vehicle, the peacock. His brother Ganeshwas slow and fat. Karthik laughed to himself in glee. He was very certain that he would win.

Ganesh too, understood that his vehicle, the mouse, could not compete with the peacock’s speed. So he thought for a moment. Suddenly, he got an idea.Ganesh smiled to himself.

Karthik flewaround the worldstopping at all temples and sacred spots on the way and offering his prayers. To his astonishment, he found Ganesh at every major stop. Karthik was puzzled. How did Ganesh manage to be so fast?

The reason was the razor-sharp intelligence and the great wisdom of Ganesh. Back inKailash,Ganesh remembered that his parents Shiva and Parvathi represented the entire universe. Without delay, the young elephant-headed god walked around his parents with great devotion, folding his hands.

“Why are you circling us Ganesh?” asked Lord Shiva.

Shiva, Parvathi and Ganesh“I’m your son and to me, you two make up my whole world. Why should I go further to win the contest?” replied Ganesh.

Shiva was pleased with his elder son’s smart answer and gave the magical fruit to him.

When Karthik returned after his voyage, he understood what had happened and accepted the superiority of his clever brother Ganesh. The Devas found the answer to their doubt. They praised and blessed Ganesh.

Narada chuckled to himself. His father had praised him too. So did the Devas.

Read more at: http://www.kidsgen.com/fables_and_fairytales/indian_mythology_stories/ganesh.htm#AimAqCAqfmDuIHu1.99

One love, one heart, one people…

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Ganesh Chaturthi

Today is the beginning of a ten to twelve day celebration for the birthday of  the Hindu God,  Lord Ganesha. This celebration is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi and it is believed that during this festival he visits and bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees. Ganesha in Hindu religion is the  god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and is traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel.  Ganeshotsav (“festival of Ganesha”) is The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 or 12 days, ending on Anant Chaturdash

But where did Lord Ganesha come from? How did he come to be worshipped as this benevolent deity? There are various stories about the manner exactly in which he came about, but it is agreed upon that he was in some way created by the Goddess Parvati… wife of the great god himself…Shiva…

Shiva and Parvati are what we would call today a “Power Couple”.

Shiva is the Great Destroyer, the Transformer and is regarded as the most powerful god in Hinduism he has five important works,  creator, preserver, destroyer, concealer, and revealer (to bless). Parvati is literally the Goddess of Power She is the one who gives life energy (or ‘Shakti’) to all beings and without her, all beings are inert. The goddess is Shakti herself, who actually lives in all beings in the form of power.

THE LEGEND

The Goddess Parvati was feeling creative one day and she fashioned Ganesha out of sandalwood paste which she used for bathing and she breathed life into his figure and and as his first task asked him to stand guard outside her bathhouse. Shiva arrives home and is greeted by Ganesha who of course does not know him being newly created and all, so he refuses to let Shiva enter. This quite naturally enrages Shiva who is not used to being denied and he orders his guards (referred to in some texts as ghosts) to teach Ganesha a lesson.

Ganesha who was born from the Goddess of Power and was the very embodiment of Shakti (power) – was very powerful. HE quickly dispatched the ghost followers and stated firmly that no one should enter so long as his mother was bathing. Sensing a growing turmoil, the sage of heavens, Narada, along with the Saptarshi (the seven wise rishis) went to appease Ganesha but he refused to listen.

By now he had angered all sorts of people and the King of Gods, Indra attacked the boy with his entire heavenly army but even they didn’t stand a chance. By then, this issue had become a matter of pride for Shiva. After the devas were defeated, Shiva, the trinity, the controller, preserver and destroyer of the universe launched an attack against Ganesha and his anger was terrible to behold!  Amidst the fight, Shiva severed the head of the child, and this brought on the full might of Parvati’s rage. Seeing her son dead, Parvaati revealed her true self, as the Adi-shakti, the prime energy that fuels the universe and sustains matter. Taking on a terrible form, she vowed to destroy the universe where her son was killed and re-create a better one.

The Gods prostrated themselves before her and Shiva promised that her son would live again. The mighty Destroyer hunted the world for a head and came across a mother elephant crying for her dead baby. They consoled the mother and fixed the head of the baby elephant in place of Ganesha’s head. Lord Shiva also declared that from this day, the boy would be called as “Ganesha” (Gana-Isha=lord of the Ganas). In this way, Lord Ganesha came to be depicted as the elephant-headed God.

Lord Ganesha

THE CELEBRATION

Approximately two to three months prior to Ganesh Chaturthi, skilled artisans begin to fashion  clay models of Lord Ganesha in various different poses. They are hand made and colorfully and ornately decorated… They vary in size from as small as 3/4 of an inch to over 70 feet tall.

The statues are usually commissioned by people within a community who have collected money to fund this celebration, the Ganesha statues are then installed in specially built houses called mandapas (pandals) erected just for this purpose. The pandals are colorfully decorated with various items such as flowers, lights, garlands and in some cases may have a theme which reflects a religious or current event.

Once the statue is safely installed in its temporary house a priest will call upon Ganesha to come down and use the  statue as a house for his energy, he does this through the chanting of several mantras… This is a ritual known as Pranapratishhtha. This is followed by a ritual of paying tribute during which Coconut, jaggery, 21 modakas, 21 durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered… this ritual offering is called Shhodashopachara (16 ways of paying tribute). The statue is then anointed with red unguent, typically made of kumkum and sandalwood paste and several hymns are chanted as this happens.

Ganesha is worshipped for ten (10) days then on the eleventh (11th) day the statue is carried through the streets accompanied by singing, dancing, beating of drums and much fanfare and then it is immersed in a body of water such as a lake, river or sea… this is a ritual goodbye to send Ganesha safely on his journey to his home in the snow capped mountains of Kailash. As he leaves he takes along with him all the sorrows and misfortunes of his worshippers.

Immersion of Ganesha Statue in Mumbai

Many sweets are popular during the festival and vary depending on the region one is from.

Public celebrations of the festival are hugely popular, with local communities vying with each other to put up the biggest statue and the best pandal. The festival is also the time for cultural activities like singing and theater performances, orchestra and community activities like free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for the poor, etc.

Today, the Ganesh Festival is popular not only for its festivities but it has become a very critical and important economic activity for MumbaiHyderabadBangalore and Chennai. Many artists, industries, and businesses survive on this mega-event. The Ganesh Festival also provides a stage for budding artists to present their art to the public. In Maharashtra, not only Hindus but many other religions also participate in the celebration like Muslims, Jains, Christian and others.

This is the festival that managed to re-establish the unity amongst the Indians during the Era of British rule.

I plan to take a tour of some Pandals  next week Wednesday, I hope to also get photos of an actual immersion and I will post those photos in a separate blog post when I am done. ‘

I will also do some follow up posts to share some of the legends surrounding Ganesh and to examine the effect of the festival on local communities.

I would like to wish all my Hindu  friends a joyous Ganesh Chaturthi and I look forward to seeing the celebrations over the next ten days.

One love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eid Mubarak! (May you enjoy a Blessed Festival)

As I mentioned in a previous blog post… almost every week there is a holiday in India.

I suppose that’s to be expected in a country of 1.1 billion people with at least eight major practicing religions.India is the second most populous Islamic nation in the world and Muslims form India’s largest minority and constitute almost 12% of the country’s total population.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict fast and try to participate only in activities of spiritual renewal by giving and sharing. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid ul-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking).

Eid ul-Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal, the month, which follows Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. Before the day of Eid, during the last few days of Ramadan, each Muslim family gives a predetermined amount of food as a donation to the poor. This ensures that those in need will have a holiday meal and be able participate in the celebration. This donation is known as sadaqah al-fitr (charity of fast-breaking).

Fasting during the month of Ramadan, according to Islamic beliefs, helps in developing self-control and is a way of getting closer to Allah. Women prepare sweets at home and wear new dresses on that day. Eid ul Fitr is synonymous with joy and thanksgiving. Such is the spirit of this festival that many non-Muslims participate in Eid celebrations in India.

On the actual day of Eid, Muslims gather early in the morning in outdoor locations or mosques to perform the Eid prayer. After the Eid prayer, Muslims visit  family and friends, give gifts, and call relatives to give well wishes for the holiday. These activities traditionally continue for three days. In most Muslim countries, the entire 3-day period is an official government/school holiday and it is the same here in India.

Eid ul Fitr or the ‘festival of fast breaking’ is the most celebratory of all Muslim festivals. The term ‘Eid’ has been derived from the Arabic word ‘oud’, which means ‘the return’ and hence, signifies the return of the festival each year. Legend says that the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Mohammed in the last ten days of Ramadan. The month of Ramadan is historically associated with two important victories of Prophet Muhammad – the battle of Badr and the conquest of Makkah.

Muslims stand after offering last Friday prayers at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) ahead of Eid-al-Fitr in the old quarters of Delhi, 17 August 2012. Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, and is scheduled to be celebrated in India on 20 August

Ramadan is an invitation to thoughtful contemplation, but also to reflection on our relations with our fellow man and to sympathy for the well being of other peoples and cultures.

For many Muslims now, their celebration of Ramadan is overshadowed by political uncertainty or even violence. My thoughts go out to those Muslims today. Especially those who are refugees and have been separated from their families and will not be able to partake of the Festival of Breaking the Fast in a peaceful environment at home with their loved ones.

My Ramadan wish today would be for an end to the violence and that all may celebrate in peace.

A blessed and peaceful Eid‑ul‑Fitr to all!

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A Tale of two Independence Days

On August 6th, 1962, fifty (50) years ago Jamaica gained independence from British rule…

Today August 15th, sixty five (65) years ago in 1947, India gained their independence and as I type this celebrations are in full swing all over India.

Two countries, worlds apart separated by 15010.15 km / 9326.87 miles… diametrically different cultures, yet the imprint of colonial rule has never fully been erased in either.

Colonialism brought together two worlds which other wise may never have crossed paths in the way that they did. In 1845 the British brought the first Indians to Jamaica to work as indentured servants [Indentured servants were people who agreed to work in the West Indies for periods of between seven and ten years. For this they received free passage and a promise of land once their servitude was completed. In theory, they already had masters to work for but many found that once they arrived they were sold at auction.] on the sugar plantations that had been abandoned by the African Jamaicans after the abolition of slavery. The first labourers came from Northern India, but others arrived later from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, the Central Provinces, Punjab and the North West Frontiers.

As with all other “migrants” to Jamaica they integrated into the culture there, inter marrying, blending the styles of cooking with that of the African descendants, bringing years of tradition to intermingle with customs of the other migrants, imprinting and at the same time adapting their culture to that of their new adopted land.

Jamaica is truly “Out of Many One people” as the culture reflects and mirrors a bit of all the peoples that collided so to speak on this little strip of island paradise. To this day two favorite dishes amongst Jamaicans is Curry Goat and Curry Chicken… the curry Jamaicans enjoy is somewhat different to the traditional curry utilized by Indians in Asia but there is no doubt that its usage in Jamaica is rooted in the influence of the Indian population. We also enjoy a good Roti as much as the next person, and I can remember my  mother cooking Dahl as a young child. It is not uncommon to hear a Jamaican look at another and make a comment such as “look at her hair, she must have Indian in her family”

I contemplate the irony that has brought my family here to India to live one hundred and sixty six (166) years after the first Indians touched Jamaican soil. My husband and I, like most Jamaicans come from a mixed heritage. His grandmother being the daughter of Indian immigrants like my maternal grandmother, my father being of mixed black / white ancestors and my maternal grandfather being Chinese who migrated to Jamaica in his twenties.

Today I celebrate Independence for both countries of whom I am irrevocably a part, who fought in different ways for the right to own and govern themselves, but yet I am saddened as I know and see firsthand the sad aftereffects of colonization… the raping of resources, the stagnant stench of underdevelopment, and yes the ever present, unending gift of Neocolonialism which is in its own way worse than  traditional colonialism, because of the illusion of independence that it strives to portray, while firmly enslaving the economy for yet another generation.

Still, in both countries there has been much to celebrate over the years and the determination and will that gave us the motivation to fight for independence so many years ago still runs in the veins of both today. It is that which will sustain us as we dig in for another fifty (50) and sixty five (65) years respectively.

I salute you both Jamaica and India!

One love, one heart, one people…

 

 

 

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HOLI Day Pics

As promised… here are some pics I took yesterday. Unfortunately it seems I left a bit late (after 1PM) and most of the color throwing takes place leading up to and around 10 – 10:30 AM. After that, people go home to shower and eat and Drink heavily (so I was told from a reliable source 🙂 ). Next year I’ll leave early and perhaps even participate…. 😉

So here are the pics I managed to get.

   

    

 

 

 

    

   

 

 

  

Even on HOLI Day – there is always time for a game of Cricket!

 

CIAO For Now!

 

 

 

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HOLI Day = Holiday

I am still working on my vacation blog posts but I had to pop in and give an update today.

OK so India probably has more holidays than China, USA and Europe combined… it seems like every week there is another holiday… Some are public (government) holidays which the entire country celebrates and these are plentiful. But in addition to that there are Bank Holidays, Religious holidays (Most of the religions found across the world are practiced in India), family holidays?

Today is a Public Holiday… today is HOLI Day. It is one of their HUGE Hindu holidays and it celebrates the end of winter (such as it is) and the beginning of Spring… it is also a time when caste, social and gender barriers are lowered and everyone celebrates with everyone else… because these strictures are lifted it is seen as a very playful and happy festival…

One of the traditions of the day is that people throw colored powder, perfume or colored water on each other (i’m staying FAR away from the throwing horde *EEK*)

Here is a WIKI Explanation

(Holi (Hindi: होली), is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. Holi is also known as festival of Colours. It is primarily observed in IndiaNepal[1] and countries with large Indic diaspora populations following Hinduism, such as SurinameMalaysiaGuyanaSouth Africa,TrinidadUnited KingdomUnited StatesMauritius, and Fiji. It is also known as Doḷajāta (Oriya: ଦୋଳଯାତ) in Orissa and Dol Jatra (Bengali: দোলযাত্রা) or Basantotsav (“spring festival”) (Bengali: বসন্তোৎসব) in West Bengal. The most celebrated Holi is in the Braj region, in locations connected to the Lord KrishnaMathuraVrindavanNandagaon, and Barsana. These places have become tourist destinations during the festive season of Holi.[2]

The main day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, also Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing scented powder and perfume at each other. Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). After doing holika dahan prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Holika Dahan is referred to as Kama Dahanam in South India.

Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March. In 2009, Holi (Dhulandi) was on March 11 and Holika Dahan was on March 10. In 2010, Holi was on March 1 and Holika Dahan was on February 28. In 2011, Holi was on March 20 and Holika Dahan was on March 19.

In most areas, Holi lasts about two days. One of Holi’s biggest customs is the loosening strictness of social structures, which normally include age, sex, status, and caste. Holi closes the wide gaps between social classes and brings Hindus together. Together, the rich and poor, women and men, enjoy each other’s presence on this joyous day. Additionally, Holi lowers the strictness of social norms. No one expects polite behavior; as a result, the atmosphere is filled with excitement and joy.

Every year, thousands of Hindus participate in the festival Holi. Waiting for the day after the full moon in the month of Phalguna, or early March, These men and women are ready to spread the joy. Holi has many purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring. It also has a religious purpose, commemorating many events that are present in Hindu mythology. Although it is the least religious holiday, it is probably one of the most exhilarating ones in existence. During this event, participants hold a bonfire, throw colored powder at each other, and celebrate wildly.

Originally, it was a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land. In addition to celebrating the coming of spring, Holi has even greater purposes. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. Furthermore, Holi celebrates many religious myths and legends.)

 

Here is a  short vid so you can hear the sounds I awakened to this morning… As you can hear from my dialogue  I had not yet researched the meaning of the holiday or it’s traditions… Happy say I am now informed!! 🙂

 

 

OK I am off to experience the day first hand… As I go around I will take pictures and videos if I can and I’ll come back and post an update…

Until then  Happy HOLI Day!!!

CIAO! 🙂

 

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Giving thanks from far away…

I had to interject between the Thailand updates to give a quick shout out to Thanksgiving Day…

Fellow Foodies – this one is for you!!!

As I said on my Facebook page – There is one universal truth about Thanksgiving and this is that it’s always better when shared with family and friends. It was really hard for us to be so far away at a time we are used to sharing with loved ones, but thanks to our new found family here in Mumbai, home was brought that much closer for Thanksgiving…  Giving a special shout out to our friends the Frosts and Erika Goldstein. It was wonderful to be able to share the day with you.

So if we were home in the US we would simply saunter into the closest grocery store and pick up most of the things we need for dinner and that would be that… not so easy in Mumbai.

First we had to find a turkey – emails and text messages were flying around the ex-pat community “I heard that Meats and more have Butterball Turkeys”  – “The Grand Hyatt is selling smoked Turkeys” – “Did you try the Renaissance?” We were teaming up with friends for dinner so they had a butterball delivered to the house for me to cook \o/. This would be my first time EVER making a turkey.

Then there was the challenge of trying to find all the things that go along with a Turkey for the Thanksgiving feast.: Cranberry glaze (no luck), Celery for stuffing (no luck), Yams (no luck) – but you know as Jamaicans we “tun we han mek fashion” – so we made the best of what we had.

Pictures are below… I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and had at least one thing to be truly thankful for this year.

I was thankful for my family, for health and for our new friends…

 

   

The Butterball

 

Brining the Turkey

 

The finished Bird

 

Brown Stew Fish

 

Rice and Peas

 

Roast Beef, Glazed Carrots (courtesy of Karyn Frost), Spicy Mango Shrimps

 

Spicy Mango Shrimp

 

Turkey

 

Stuffing no Celery \o/

 

The Thanksgiving Table

 

Catch you on Bangkok part II

Ciao!

 

 

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Bangkok, Thailand – Part I

So I know I have barely touched on life here in Mumbai, but I need to share the high lights of my trip to Bangkok before they disappear completely from my mind LOL.

One thing I kept hearing over and over before I even got here is that the shoppingin Bangkok is DIVINE! So after dealing with the stress of partially unpacking, sort of settling in and stumbling my way around Mumbai my dear husband suggested a quick weekend trip to unwind. (Besides we had promised ourselves that we would try to see as much of Asia and surrounding areas as we could while we are on this side of the world)

This one was just for the girls… hubby heard the word shopping and reeled off one million and one other things he’d rather be doing that weekend (the list BTW included pulling his teeth). Anyway he had already been and would probably just slow us down. 🙂

We headed over in mid September… I think the flight was about 3 hours or so (see what I mean about details disappearing) – we took Kingfisher Airlines and was pleasantly surprised by the service and the food – both of which were great!

Kingfisher Airlines food

 

We were booked at the the Marriott Courtyard in Bangkok but let me tell you, it;s not like the Courtyards back home – The hotel and rooms were very very nice and the service was exceptional! We were hungry as soon as we arrived so we checked in and headed the the restaurant for a bite. I had really been looking forward to the food and I had a crispy fish that was just EXCELLENT!!!

Marriott Courtyard Hotel Room

 

Bathroom

 

Crispy fish - YUMMY!

 

Other food - can't remember what it is now but every thing was good!

All the travel sites said  – no trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to the Grand Palace… so the next day we are picked up by a guide whom we had booked at the airport, and we head off  the the grand palace…  Importamt to note that they have a very strict dress code which is enforced rigidly for touring the Palace. Right out the bat my guide took one look at me in my capris and said they were too short (Are you kidding me? they were at my knees!!) – no no no – it just would not do – so I ended up purchasing a sarong at the gate (they were doing a booming business so I assume that tourists regularly show up ill prepared for the tour).

I wrapped the sarong over my capris and I was ready – never mind it was almost a hundred degrees and sweat had already begun to trickle down my thighs – I thought “I’m here and I’m doing this tour one way or another so lets go!”

Tour guide and driver

   

The Sarong over the capri \o/

 

So I have quite a few pictures from the Grand Palace and I’ll just post these without much commentary… ( as I explained the old memory is not what it used to be) LOL. I will say the place is SPECTACULAR (in a gaudy kind of way) – they use a lot of gold and ornate artwork… and it really takes your breath away when you see each piece up close – intricate does not even begin to describe some of the details on the buildings and incorporated into the architecture.

As an aside though – in between my admiration I really thought I was about to pass out from a heat stroke once or twice… either that or I would violate their dress code and begin stripping… then I would be ousted from the Palace and probably blacklisted in Bangkok forever… so I tried to think cool thoughts and hung in there… People who are considering visiting should invest in some kind of personal cooling device.

A little background:  

The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings in. It served as the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. Construction of the Palace began in the 1700’s  when the reigning king decided to move the capital across the river from Thonburi to Bangkok. The Palace has been constantly expanded and many additional structures were added over time. The present King of Thailand,  however, does not reside there.

 

Monks

 

The Grand Palace 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I was flung off this wall about 2 seconds after this pic was taken – apparently sitting here is frowned upon… who knew… (well actually the sign that I did not see said it was). Trust a Jamaican to find a way to violate the rules \o/

Forbidden to sit here *EEK*

 

I finally figured out why sitting is forbidden – it’s a temple…

 

Temple of the Emerald Buddha

 

I don;t really have words to describe the Emerald Buddha Chapel – it is unlike anything I have every seen. I was able to snap one photo below then they confiscated my camera – Picture taking is forbidden (come to think of it – there is a lot of stuff forbidden at the Grand Palace). This picture really does not do it any justice at all – but I saw the guy heading my way and I had a feeling something not so pleasant was about to ensue…

A little background: 

The Emerald Buddha, like many revered Buddha images in Thailand, seems to have a rather mysterious history. Theubosot (chapel) housing the Emerald Buddha is actually the only original building in the temple. . Like most of the buildings in the compound, the ubosot’s exterior is finished in colored mirror tiles and gilt carving. The eaves are lined with bronze bells which tinkle in the slightest breeze.

The doors are inlaid with mother-of-pearl designs. Inside, the Emerald Buddha sits high up on a gilt alter. The image,  is actually carved from a solid piece of green jade, not emerald,  The image has three golden ‘costumes’ which are changed with the seasons by His Majesty the King or one of his children. 

On either side of the high alter are screens which create a private area for the royal family when visiting the temple. In front of the Emerald Buddha are several other Buddha images placed there by the kings of the dynasty. The two lowest images were placed there by the present king. 

Chapel of the Emerald Buddha

I saw smoke and some pots and I thought BBQ! Something is cooking here!!! Turns out it was incense… sun stroke, reprimands, run ins with the royal bouncers – I was getting mighty hungry!

BBQ??? no... incense

There were some Royal guards standing outside of a State house? or something  – apparently President Obama has stayed here on visit(s) to Bangkok

Grand Palace guards - did I see a relaxing of one mouth muscle??

 

Where President Obama stayed

 

That was about it – we  were hot, sweaty, tired, hungry and on the watch list – time to beat a graceful retreat…

Street food and shopping was calling my name!

More about that in Part II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My “hood”

My new home City Mumbai is a place teeming with humanity… the current population stands at approximately twenty one million people. it’s the capital of the State of Maharashtra, the most populated City in India and the 4th most populated city in the world. Being home to Bollywood and considered the entertainment and commercial capital of India it is no surprise that it is also the richest city in India.

What does all this mean for a poor little ex-pat like me?  – well, no house for one thing…

If you want to live in an actual house you would have to consider living in one of the outer suburbs of the city and then face a commute of at least two and a half hours one way each day. But not to worry… they have found the most logical way to accomodate the ever growing demand for housing and that is by building up.

So we are currently living on the twenty first floor of a thirty two story building… and I have to admit the view is pretty cool.

View from one side

View from another balcony

 

The apartment is quite spacious (think NY style garden apartment)… of course we needed enough room for us and all our friends and family who have promised to visit (still holding my breath as the days are young yet). So we settled on a four bedroom.

The area we live in is called Powai and it is quite different from the rest of Mumbai because of the garden-like atmosphere which surrounds the buildings… there is also a lake and very nice town within walking distance… many shops here cater to the ex-pat appetites and we are able to find many of the home “staples’ which we could not live without LOL.

If you venture over to another part of Mumbai called Bandra – you will also find luxurious high rise apartment buildings but as soon as you step outside you are in the middle of the city and traffic and all that, that entails in Mumbai… some of it not so pretty… Bandra is home to many Bollywood stars and various Indian Millionaires. It has great shopping but you have to be prepared to walk. There is no central shopping place – one street is famous for jewelry and you will find store, after store, after store, all selling nothing but jewelry. Another street may be famous for textiles, or food or shoes even – you can lose hours and hours just wandering from one to the other. Bandra is home to at least two major international schools and has a very very active night life as the crowd that frequents Bandra is very cosmopolitan.

If we go across the bridge we will be in South Mumbai which is the older section of the town. This area was once the center of all activity in Mumbai… it housed many government offices and consulates and it was where the rich, pretty and famous went to see or be seen… most of that activity has now transferred over to Bandra and other sections of the city and South Mumbai like the cultured dowager it is, has been allowed to settle into a more genteel, retired type of existence.Here there are no Rickshaws so less traffic and aggravation on the road, and views of the ocean are to be had on almost every corner. Here you will find much older architecture like the very famous train station below and it is also home to the world renowned TAJ Hotel, which has hosted President Obama and in more infamous news – was scene of the terrorist attack that killed 170 people.

Here also is the Gateway which is Mumbai”s most famous landmark, it used to be a rough jetty and then when a King and Queen of England came to visit they made a monument in honor if their visit. It was also where the last British ship set sail to home after colonialism ended. and I understand that  the best eating in MUmbai can be had on one of its streets but it is an evening affair and you will have to venture out after eleven at night… (haven’t done this yet… maybe one day soon). Here also the CEO of the petrochemical Giant Reliance, Mukesh Ambani has made his home and built the most expensive house in the world – valued at $1 Billion… My opinion is that it’s one of the ugliest pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen but hey – he didn’t ask my opinion and there’s no accounting for taste… LOL

 

   

Crossing the bridge into South Mumbai

 

Another view from the bridge

 

Famous Train Station - Chhatrapati-Shivaji-Terminus

 

Another view of the train station

 

The Gateway of India (Mumbai's most famous monument)

 

Most Expensive house in the world

 

This is just a small view of my new neighborhood and there is so much that I haven’t even seen – we’ll have a chance to explore them together in later posts.

Mumbai has many faces and facets, some breathtakingly beautiful, some ugly… some awe inspiring, some sordid… some utilizing amazing technology, and some painfully backward. The bottom line is.. love it or hate it, Mumbai may be many many things but it is never, ever boring!

 

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