Category Archives: Uncategorized

Celebrating World Radio Day

The first thing that caught my eye in newspaper is today that is 13th February is World Radio Day. Mention of Radio brings up beautiful memories. Let me share the most recent one. Last year due to lockdowns, I was at home like everyone. Initially the rising counts created fear and I started looking for ways to keep myself busy. At that time, I started trying new things in kitchen. But the fear kept on coming so I started listening to Radio. The monologues by the RJs followed by songs allowed a nice break. Radio allowed me to move around the house doing different activities. Also it is less stressful for the eyes. There are different programs on various genres of music. I also discovered audio dramas for suspense stories. This took me to the world of Sherlock Holmes, Feluda, Byomkesh bakshi. I searched in net and found the Radio broadcast of special events like that of Apollo 11 when man stepped on moon or of India’s independence. These just reminded me Radio had been the such an important part of our lives although devices have changed from dedicated radio to radio app in cellphones.

These broadcasts not only helped me get over the pandemic stress but also helped me relive special events about which I had only read in books. Today Radio is part of my life while cooking and walking. I would take this opportunity to thank all the people associated with Radio for making our lives better in these tough times. Best wishes for World Radio Day.

Celebrating the Republic Day

My mother was surprised to see me awake early today before 5:00 am. I told her its 26th January and I am at home. 26th January is celebrated as the Republic Day in India. The Indian Constitution was created after Independence. The new constitution came into force on 26th January 1950. From then onwards, every year this day is celebrated as the Republic Day. This is one of the special events of winter. My school used to start at 7:30 am. We used to start practicing march-past 2-3 weeks before republic day. For this practice we used to reach school by 6:30 am in cold. I used to get up before 5:00 am to reach on time. Maybe this was the reason I woke up early today. The house captains used to align us based on our heights. The school band used to play the drum and we would practice march-past for days. “Haven’t you seen the march-past of Republic day!” This was the ending statement of every scolding of every teacher and captain for every mistake during the practice.

We used to have a dry run of the entire ceremony on the previous day. Before the Republic Day, I used to iron my uniform and polish my shoes. On 26th January, I would wake up early to dress up in freshly ironed uniform and put on the polished shoes. Then my mother would tie up two tight plats. We would reach school on time, stand in our designated positions. Then the march-past would begin. We would walk a path across the playground. Then the principal would come and unfurl the flag. As soon as the flag unfurls, we would sing the national anthem. The event used to complete by 8:30 am. We used to rush home, to catch the Republic Day Parade at the capital New Delhi. The defense parade is followed by the tableau of different states and national organizations. We used to discuss about our favorite tableau for the next few days. Our Constitution gives equal opportunities to everyone. We have leaders who have come from humble backgrounds. They have proved themselves through their work. They always inspire me to strive to be better. This year I watched the entire parade like school days. As the day comes to an end, I hope everyone is inspired to do their best and make 2021 a great year. Happy Republic Day.

Kites in the Sky

The sky is filled with colorful kites and the terraces are filled with laughter and cheer. Today is Makar Sankranti for Bengali(East India) and Uttarayan for Gujarati(West India). Since I am a Bengali from Gujarat, I get to celebrate both. It is a festival dedicated to the Surya Devta(Sun God). The days are expected to become longer from today. We worship the Sun God with prayers and offerings. People fly kites in Uttarayan. The stalls for kites start appearing from first week of January. The colorful kites of different sizes and designs hanging on the shop windows makes the market appear like a palette of colors. As a kid I used to look forward to taking a stroll in the market during these times.

Delicacies at home. Thanks to mom

Most of the delicacies of this festival are made with jaggery. In East India, they make Pitha from rice flour, coconut and jaggery. In West India, they make sesame and peanut rolls or bars(chikki) with jaggery. We spend most of the day in terrace flying kites and eating all these delicacies. This is also the time when families come togather and celebrate. Uptill last year, there used to be Kite festivals, where large kites of various shapes and sizes were flown. Participants used to come from all over the world to display their unique kites. It used to be a fair like atmosphere. During school days, the mid year exams used to get over just before Uttarayan. So it used to be a bigger celebration for us. This year I was able to celebrate the festival at home after a long time. My mother prepared everything I enjoy. The world is seeing a new hope with vaccines coming up after last year’s pandemic. I just pray there is a vaccine which provides us permanent immunity from this disease and again allows us to meet each other without the fear of getting infected. Happy Makar Sankranti and Happy Uttarayan to everyone.

Support for festivals

Flowers at my house

Today is Diwali, the festival of lights. It always brings amazing memories for me. The house used to be cleaned thorougly before the festival. In the morning all the coushion covers and sheets would be replaced. The house would be decorated with lights and lamps. Special ceremonies would be conducted. One of the key requirements of any ceremony are flowers. My grandmother planted flower trees for this. We were scolded everytime we climbed those trees or hanged on their branches. During festivals, my grandmother would get up early, cleanup and pluck flowers for ceremony. We were not supposed to bother her at that time. The first few days were fine but after 4 days, the flowers at the lower branches were not there. At that time we were called to provide support for the festival. Then all the skills of hanging on the branches and climbing the trees would come handy. We would manage to bring the branches with flowers within her reach.

Flower tray for the Ceremony

Today my mother called me for the same purpose. I felt like a school girl looking for the higher branches with maximum flowers and then calculating how to bring those branches within reach. It filled me with an amazing energy and excitement. Co-incidentaly today is also the Children’s day for India. It just reminded me how important it is to keep the child within ourselves alive. The enthusiasm to find new things fills life into the dullest of days. Keep discovering. Its never too late to start learning. Go back to your school days, pick up that skill you wanted to have and go for it. Today all classes are available online. Also the day after diwali is the New Year in many parts of India. The best time for beginnings. Get all the blessings and start working towards a better version of yourself. May this Diwali fill everyone’s life with lights of happiness. Wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Diwali.

Bijoya Dashami 2020

Today is Dussehra or Bijoya Dashami. It is celebrated for the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur. At home we take blessings from our elders. We will everyone Shubho Bijoya Dashami or Happy Dussehra. This also marks the end of Navratri. It feels sad that the festivities have come to an end. Special food delicacies are prepared for this day. The idols of Goddess Durga are emersed today. This is the best time to start anything new be it business or a habit. Many people buy their vehicles today.

The last four days of Navratri are full of fun. The Bengalis organize a community festival. The idols of Goddess Durga and her children (Saraswati, Karthik, Lakshmi and Ganesh) are brought and the entire place is decorated. We dress up every morning and go to the venue. This is the time we meet up with everyone. The air is filled with the fragrance of Parijat (night jasmine) and Marigold flowers used for the ceremonies. The very thought of attending the ceremonies fills us with a special energy and enthusiasm. It is these festivals which give us a break from the daily grind of activities. They bring color to our lives. The stories behind these festivals remind us that Truth always wins and hard work pays. This year everything about the festival was different. There was no socializing. Most of us attended the ceremonies online. All the wishes were sent and received online. All of us had one common prayer, that of finding a solution to the crisis caused by Covid-19. On this day of Bijoya Dashami, I have faith that all our efforts will bear fruits, soon there will be a vaccine and life would be normal again. I wish everyone a very Happy Bijoya Dashami.

Introduction to Chicago

Views on the Cruise

There are two ways of touring a city. One is to view it and the other is to know it through its history. I went for the latter. One can either go for a guided tour through land or by river. I woke up to a beautiful clear morning. After a hearty breakfast, I decided to walk till Shoreline Sightseeing stop. This was my first trail, the Lakefront trail. Its a beautiful walk along the lake. One gets to see different kinds of boats, yatchs, etc. By the time I reached there it was 10:45 am. I went to the ticket counter and requested a ticket for the 11:15 Architecture tour. The person at counter said, the 10:45 tour has a few minutes to start. So I was booked for the 10:45 Architecture tour. It was an brilliant experience. We got to see all the landmarks of the city.

Sights at the trail

The guide started with the history of Chicago and then went on to describe each landmark. It was as if we were getting introduced to Chicago. For the first time, there were restaurants with not only car parking but also boat parking. We came accross many bridges. There were buildings with European Architecture as well as Modern glass buildings. People sitting on restaurants, bridges and steps waved at us as we passed them. I was so engrossed that I did not even realize how 75 minutes passed. Then I went to Navy Pier. It was a children’s world. There were rides, food, toys, museum, everything. The next time you visit Chicago, try meeting the city through the cruise.

Navy Pier

An event for Readers

Have you ever felt an event was organized for your hobby. I enjoy reading. Every summer book exhibitions are conducted but this year I had the fortune to enjoy an event for Reading. The Summer Reading Extravaganza was held on 9th July 2019 at the Carnegie Mellon Library. There were different events like voting for favorite author, chess competition, library tour, food trucks, etc. The best was the puppet show which had 5 stories each with a unique message. Although there were chairs in the room, the kids were overjoyed when it was announced that they can sit on the carpet just in front of the stage. One cannot miss the excitement in their eyes. It was so infectious that it brought out the child in me.

We used to spend the afternoons at home during summer vacations. I would end up with sun stroke every time I went out during afternoons. So I would spend hours reading different kinds of books and children magazines. The library also organized a Summer Reading 2019, where one can register and enter the books they read. There are targets and prizes for readers. I too registered for this activity. Personally I felt as if my hobby had become a person and was inviting me to pursue it. Incase I slow down there are reminders on buses, library walls, etc. Many of my friends enjoy reading but were not aware of this event. These are the events where the kids should be taken as they meet books in a different way. I thank the library and the city for organizing such an extraordinary event.

Independence Day Celebrations

The results of the recent elections in India, show that leadership is based on hard work, effort and vision. It is not based on heredity. I have always considered it a blessing that we have a constitution, which gives us the freedom to dream and achieve. Independence day is the time to show our gratitude for this freedom. I always attend the 4th July parade in Monroeville. The participants are different institutions like the church, schools, local bands, fire brigade, etc. They throw candies and chocolates at the waving crowd. Its so nice to see families standing on both sides of the road and cheering them. The best part is the kids, who come with their bags, baskets or buckets to collect the sweets.

The parade starts at 9:00 am. People come with their folding chairs and umbrellas and sit on both sides of the road. The performances by bikers, gymnasts, dancers makes it all the more enjoyable. As the parade proceeds, it feels as if the entire city has become a family. Fireworks are organized in different parts of the city at night. Independence day is the time to show our respect for the freedom we have. Its so nice to see some families make it a tradition to attend the parade. These traditions make the children aware of the constitution and their responsibilities. I just hope these traditions are made in all families everywhere and all of us respect the freedom. Happy Independence Day.

World of Bicycles

Colorful bikes

Summer always reminds me of vacations. We used to cycle around our neighborhood in groups until we were called for dinner. With the sunny days coming around, it was high time to explore the city. This year, I began with the bicycle museum of Pittsburgh. It is the largest bicycle museum located at a quiet neighborhood. You are greeted with rows and rows of colorful bicycles as soon as you enter the museum. There are bikes everywhere, on the floor, the walls and even at the ceiling. Its not just the regular cycles but the earliest of them. It is fascinating to see how the bicycles have evolved over the years. There are bicycles used for special races. Some of them even have the trophies along with them. Each one is tagged with the year and make. Few of them reminded me of Charlie Chaplin movies.

A historic cycle

A Harley-Davidson bike

There are miniature models of cycles on the walls. I was so engrossed reading through the labels and history at one point that I almost lost the way. Over the years, bicycles have been used for bringing awareness and marketing in addition to sports and transportation. There is a bicycle made by Harley-Davidson. Bicycles have a special place in childhood for most of us. I am glad there is a museum dedicated to them. So the next time you plan to explore Pittsburgh, do ensure to visit Bicycle Heaven and be mesmerized by the world of Bicycles.

Discovering a Sunny day

Farmer’s Market

It was a bright, hot and sunny morning, the day when you see everyone in sunglasses. The lazy person in me said “Lie down, listen to music and read a book”. “This is just the right day to go out and explore the place”, said the explorer in me. There was a debate between them, each giving the benefits of their proposal. Ultimately the explorer won. I drove to the community park to see the Farmer’s market. Be it vegetables, bakery products or honey, each vendor greets you with a warm smile and is eager to tell you about it. Every product has the human touch of the person who created it. Its a clear indication of how you feel when you put your heart and soul into developing something.

The park was throbbing with life. Each shade had a story to tell. One shade had a community meet, another had a family picnic, a wedding was going on in third and so on. The smiles of the people seemed to be synchronized with the brightness of the sun. The highest excitement was at a kids baseball match. The ground was surrounded by parents cheering their kids. It seemed as if a fair was near the baseball ground where people sold fresh lemonades, beads, sunglasses, etc. The small kids in the park, personified freedom. They ran, shouted, laughed and cheered. It reminded me of my school days when all that mattered was to live the moment. The sights at the park made me happy, contented and energized for the entire day, something I wouldn’t have experienced if I had stayed back. The Sun seemed to have infused everyone including me, with extra energy. We often tend to take the easy way in life but if you stretch out a little and wander, you will discover way more than you can imagine. Here is my discovery, a sweet and spicy strawberry-Jalapeno jam, which I had never seen before.