Eating with our hands
Do not be surprised if you walk into a restaurant and order food and they serve it without any cutlery, we in India are very used to eating with our hands. However most hotels will give you the same if you request for it. But Indian food is meant to be eaten without knives, forks and spoons. Eating rasam rice can never be as much fun if the same is done with a spoon.
Also some restaurants will serve food on a plantain leaf as this is healthy and adds iron content to the food with is good to combat anaemia. Wash the leaf with bottled water to be safe about the same.
If you are visiting any of the temples, please leave your footwear well outside the temple(most temples have designated places for the same), wash your feet and only then enter the temple.
We pay our obeisance by bowing to the deity, and we believe it is disrespectful to show one's back to the deity.
We walk around the deity thrice as we pray for proposerity but always circle the god from left to right and not the other way round.
Some edible food/sweet is given away as 'prashadham' which is food offered to the god and later distributed to the worshippers in the belief that god has tasted that food. So if you do not wish to eat the same, please do not collect it at all. Do not throw away the same as it is quite shocking for us to see something like that!
Always ask for permission before getting to closwe to the deity, it is allowed in some temples, but others, mostly in the south do not permit us touching the deity
Do not carry water bottles into Jain temples. They do not allow the same in.
- Religious Travel
an excellent website full of information
On a recent 24 hour stay in India, i came across this website recommended in one of the magazines: www.kamat.com done by a family from Bangalore who have painstakingly put together old and new pictures and informaton otherwise unavailable to the foreign readers.
i thoroughly enjoyed reading about the various tribal peoples of india
Growing all over the city of Bangalore are Jack Fruit trees. The Jackfruit is a tree and its fruit are native to south India.
You can buy them by the section off the street carts or get a whole fruit. You have to oil the knife because they are so sticky to cut. Eat Jack Fruit with honey. Be aware that overeating Jack Fruit can cause a stomach ache.
Bride and Prejudice
Whilst in the last ten years, life has gotten much better for a subclass or subcaste of educated people, it takes more than ten years to change mentalities and cultural contexts.
While the girls are more educated and are holding down jobs in gender free industries such as call centres and Software jobs, their arranged marriage patterns are too strong to be affected. The so called Love Marriages are few and far between. In India it is not the religion that is important but the caste, they tend not to marry outside the caste system. Unfortunately the new found boom finds the girls working and mixing with all sorts of people but have to abide by the cultural constraints of finding a husband. In private they cherish the idea of meeting a foreigner or marrying one, but in reality they understand the difficulties associated with it. Many Indian girls who had gone abroad to study, work have married foreigners but it is not the done thing while residing in India, with its rigid moral codes.
I had the chance to spend some time conversing with this bright girl of Kerala who works in Bangalore, educated in Australia, has travelled to Singapore and Malaysia but finds finding a suitable partner beyond her belief, superimposed on her parents values of who she can or she cannot marry. Women coming into the workforce always suffer regardless of the country but in India the cultural contrasts are so stark and the suffering so immense.
It is still not uncommon to hear, bridegrooms relatives murdering a young bride for not bringing in enough dowry. one thing i was happy to hear that the dowry problems are down but the parents of the groom still insist on the bride coming in with lots of gold jewelry!
If you are willing to splurge a little, very good value for money with silver jewelry with inlaid semi precious stones could be had.
also it is such a pleasure to look at all these, hundreds of them and then try to bargain a few rupees, a pleasure in itself, for those of us arising out of mercantile traditions.
Izman the street vendor of jewelry
If you do go to Commercial Street area and along the second cross there is a moslem boy who sells or assists in selling custom jewelry by the road side. i bought some things for cuba from him and on my second visit to the tailors SS Tailors next door, he called me over.. you are my customer now and i will give you discount! he turned out to be a very sweet boy and i told him, i will pay you as much as you want for these items, ask me. still he asked me for very modest sums which i was happy to give him. Of course, Fidel's face rose inside me, that made me say: be a good student, study hard and get out of the road but run a nice business perhaps with some IT nerds in an air conditioned office. his smile was precious.
Dark side of the Moon
Diabetes is so common that I found this magazine in Malayalam completely devoted to Diabetes. India will have the dubious honour of having the largest number of diabetics in the world.
What a pity a preventable disease such as Diabetes are killing IT nerds, Call Girls at Call Centres, young entrepreuners. The effect of this would be felt in about twenty years.
Festive atmosphere of Dassara
This is a three day long ( it looked like a week long ) celebration, each of the days dedicated to various gods or godesses. The entire city and I am told, the entire nation celebrates this holiday, decorating their homes, their vehicles and their shops. This is a good time to be in Bangalore to witness the religious ritualistic energy all around you.
This lady is decorating the motorcycle so that a puja (a kind of prayer ritual ) could be done and blessings offered to the motor vehicle for its safety and the safety of its riders.
Humble Folks, Genuine People
It is true in Bangalore, like it is elsewhere in Asia. Humble people are less pretentious ( i suppose humble people everywhere would be!), genuine as they know how to be and a pleasure to be with.
The rigid caste system of India relegates people born into circumstances beyond their control into strata from which there is very little escape.
This family I met during my recent stay is such a case. Because of their caste, the mother could work as a maid at various houses, earning about 2000 inr ( 30 euros ) per month, from which she had to pay for english medium education for her two daughters.
How nice to take them to Cuba and educate them there, I thought foolishly. from my previous experiences, it is always bad to detribalize people geographically however difficult their present situations are.
Instead I will help them to become educated, so that they too can dream about being doctors and IT people and tell foreigners who call into the call centres their names are Debra and Natalie! but live well in their own society: the decaying Indian society
Indian Astrology for those who believe in it
On the third of my birth, a local pundit in Malacca drew up a astrological chart for me which was lost for years and suddenly has surfaced. the fact that they could predict then that i would become a traveller ( not the asian concept of travelling somewhere to migrate or work), interested me. so i went to the local Pundit, an erudite man with wide ranging interests and had a further read on the chart and comparing it with the chart he drew up of my friend born in Arras, France. I work for american indians so i live in their world of magic and symbolism so it was not too difficult to be drawn into the science of astrology. about 60 percent of the readings of the past of my friend were true, the fact that an indian pundit living in bangalore can predict discords and achievements of a person born in a distant land is in itself marvellous. I left completely satisfied with the reading and the question and answer session with the Pundit.
For Foreigners visiting Bangalore, if you wish to have a reading done on your astrological chart by the Pundit, let me know, I will put you in touch with him. Please bring with you the exact time of your birth and also the longitude and altitude (find it from an atlas) of the place of your birth. it takes him a couple of days to prepare and about one hour and half to explain.
I tremendoulsy enjoyed my interaction with the Pundit who is well versed in a lot of the para Hindu psychology and ritualism.
men holding hands
Despite having seen it a thousand times, it still draws my attention. college aged young man, holding hands or each other in a distance we accord to physical intimacy in public. it is a show of affection, but for us, we are used to women showing other women affection but frown upon men holding their friends hands.. ah well, a little cultural construction in context
Pumping water - a daily affair
While travelling through the villagers around Bangalore's outskirts, we saw this scene many times over.
Pumping water from a bore well, that a few villages share, and then carrying the water back to one's respective homes -- this is a daily affair in India's rural settings (this means anything from 20 min out of town to 2 hrs out).
Children and women are seen carrying water --- geez, what are the men doing?
[Aside: in confidence, I'll share that through many village centres, as we passed through, we saw men sitting around, standing at coffee shops, near the fruit selllers -- doing err, like hanging around and talking. It was an observation made by many travellers.]
- Farm Stay
an evening at the movies
Going to the movies is a good introduction of the current cultural scene in Bangalore.. it is the bazaar to show off your newly acquired westerness.. what a great irony.. europeans dress like indians and the indians dress like the europeans..
but at the movie theatre shown here which is fairly expensive by local standards, you can see the up and coming elite of the city, and their pseudo american accents and put on frivolities.
more than once it becomes nauseating, but once it is good.
the movies dont matter, they are usually rubbish..
When we visited, there was an annual groundnut fair taking place. All along the road were stalls selling nuts, spices and other snakc, as well as small gifts and nick nacks. We stopped and tasted various delicacies without having the faintest idea of what we were eating. Mostly it was good. We caused quite a stir in the market, and had a small group of children following us after a while. We were the only westerners there, which was probably the reason.
- Arts and Culture