Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ganesha Festival Celebrations

One of the things I miss about India being in the US is the multitude of festivals we celebrate back home. The ambiance of the entire country is transformed during these occasions. Here the Indian or rather I should say Hindu community is so small that it is barely visible. Hence except major festivals such as Diwali nothing else is celebrated.

Ganesha getting ready to throw his lotus. Baso...Image via Wikipedia

Tomorrow is Ganesha Chathurthi when the lord of wisdom, knowledge and the remover of obstacles is worshiped. We visited the Ganesha Temple in Plano this evening and hope to participate in the ceremonial worship tomorrow.
Being a default volunteer of Sankara Eye Foundation, I am trying to participate in organizing a Fund-raiser Dandia event in September. In order to promote the event we visited one of the leading Indian grocery stores in the area Taj Mahal Imports and there I was elated to see a group of young students dressed in neo-traditional Indian clothes, wearing a saffron band on their foreheads chanting "Ganesha Bappa, Moraya". We chatted up with them and came to know that about 300 students are getting together in an apartment to celebrate the Ganesha festival tomorrow.
After a long time I saw something that resembles Indian festival ambiance. I am gladdened today.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Possible Causes of Swine Flu

Since we are talking about Swine Flu I thought it would be pertinent to discuss how and why this disease might have entered the human domain. Reportedly the first instances of the outbreak was found in Mexico from where it spread to US and then to the rest of the world. It is common to have pigs as pets in the US and I guess in Mexico too. People in the west are more demonstrative in their affections than those in the east. Hence the pictures below which received as an e-mail forward show how much love people give to their pet pigs. The mail lead me on a thought process and then I wondered if the excessive love for animals displayed by caring humans, especially the overwhelmingly affectionate westerners is one of the prime reasons for humans contracting Swine Flu??

I am no expert on veterinary science or in medicine and hence there is no technological thought or scientific inquiry for this analogy. This is just a thought which came into my mind after seeing the pictures on the forwarded e-mail.

Whether it provides a solution for understanding Swine Flu or not, the mail definitely brings a smile on our faces. The ultimate reason for life is happiness and jokes is one way to be happier than we are.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mask Scarcity leads to innovative solution!

It is often amidst extreme adversity the most creative ideas flourish. I guess the latest pandemic to hit the world, Swine Flu has also spawned few innovative ideas. The Pandemic sweeping across the world is leading to a massive spurt in sales of surgical masks. Markets are sold out of masks and there is a growing demand for this protective gear. This couple obviously couldn't buy a pair of surgical masks because they were sold out. But being ultimately creative people they arrived at a unique solution and made up a pair of masks out of a single garment. Check it out...

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Switzerland: The Year Round Travel Destination

My favorite hobby is travel and to be precise adventure travel to places with dramatic landscapes, rolling countrysides, mountains, fast flowing rivers, heritage monuments, and a rich culture of food and drink. This description sometimes seems too much and people say that it is difficult to get a destination that satisfies all these conditions. As for me I did one such location in the heart of Europe, Switzerland. I have made it my goal to Discover Swiss "Pearls" next year. An informational website about the country says that it has cultural influences from France, Germany and Italy.

Switzerland for me is about the memorable experiences it offers. I'd love to get into the activity of Making Cheese at Ticino. Swiss cheese is very delectable and if I can make it myself the high is definitely ultimate. In my religion bells play a very important role. The bell foundry in Berger, Barau, Switzerland offers a unique opportunity to visitors. We can cast our own bell by decorating sand moulds. Now that is what I'd call a unique experience. I would then go to the Medieval paper making plant to know how we could save trees. Then of course a visit to the cattle ranch to get close to the cows and finally cap my visit with a ride in horse carriage in Lucerne.

If you haven't been to Switzerland and are wondering where to go this summer or fall just make it a point to check out the Swiss Pearls and there is a high probability you will visit this nation.


Independence Day Celebrations, Houston

It has been two years since I celebrated our country's Independence Day in India. Last year on Independence we were driving from Dallas to Los Angeles, this year we attended the India Culture Fest at Houston. Organized by the Indian Culture Society, Houston this annual extravaganza features dances, mostly Bollywood and fusion, singing, booths from profit and non-profit organizations and of course food.
This event was like several other Desi events I attended, the same old dances, same old costumes and same old crowds etc. The same old boring MCs who have no clue what they are doing. There were few changes though, the first positive change was that there was a performance by a Mariachi band. The band belted out three desi numbers, two Hindi and one Kannada. That was a heartening and positive change that I felt that India is making some kind of impact upon other cultures.
The other aberration I noticed was during the performance of a so-called desi band. It was Independence Day the band should have started the performance with a patriotic number, but no, they start off by singing Zubanallah..... I was shocked to hear that and for the next half an hour song after song it was Shah Rukh Khan all the way. I wonder when Indian's will ever learn to be patriotic??? This is one of the reasons I don't like to attend celebrations in the Pakistani-dominated Texas.