Monday, December 27, 2010

All Izz Well

It is cold. I decided today I'm not going outside anymore. We went for a walk in sunny White Rock last week and today we walked around Beaver Lake near my parents house in Victoria. Both days I froze. I don't quite have the best cold weather gear and had to cut the walk short today. We whipped home and warmed up with Mom's hot chocolate with marshmallows. But, I'm not going out anymore.

Last years Christmas in Bangalore will be one that we remember: our Dr. Seus Christmas tree, lying by the pool, steak dinner and Christmas Eve mass where more people wore saris than not.

This year we didn't have our own tree or home for that matter. But we were home in every other sense of the word. We decorated a Christmas tree at Michael's Dads, we ate Christmas oranges and made gingerbread cookies. We drank rum and eggnog. We had the traditional Ukrainian feast at Lynn's. We went to the Ukranian church for Christmas Eve mass together as a family where at an opportune moment a little kid yelled out, "All you do here is yak, yak, yak." Everyone laughed and then the choir promptly started singing Silent Night.

On Christmas morning we got up, opened presents and had a nice breakfast at Michael's Dads. Then it was off to the ferry and to Victoria to visit my parents. We had the traditional turkey dinner with mashed potatos, gravy, stuffing and vegetables. We had desserts galore - pies, nanaimo bars, shortbread, Christmas cake - the works!

Today, the day after Christmas we relaxed - we played games, ate turkey sandwiches and had leftover turkey for dinner. We watched hockey on TV.

Christmas in Canada feels right - even the cold (even though I'm not going out anymore). As they say in India "All Izz Well."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Home for the Holidays

India is about half way around the world to Vancouver. We've gone west through London and Frankfurt and east through Hong Kong and any which way it takes about 24 hours including stopovers.

This time we did the five hour flight from Bangalore to Hong Kong and had a six hour stopover in the airport before the next leg to Vancouver. I must say being in that airport was like stepping onto another planet. Maybe I should rephrase that - India feels like another planet. I'm sure I've said this many times but there is no place like India. It is it's own world of traditions and festivals and chaos and splendour. Hong Kong airport is full of food, fashion and choices galore - all in one little place.

The next leg to Vancouver took 12 hours and we were able to catch up on a few movies. Overall it was a good flight but good to get onto Canadian soil and we were shocked as we flew into Vancouver to see the sun - ok it was only for about five minutes but it was nice. The weather is cloudy and 6 celcius and it doesn't feel as cold as I thought it would.

We were over at Lynn's for dinner last night - great to see everyone there and then Mom and Dad dropped by today on their way back to Victoria. Decorated the Christmas tree at Michael's Dads today and put up a few decorations. Started in on the rum and eggnogs and looking forward to all the friends and family and traditions over the next couple weeks.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Just got back from delivering Christmas gifts to the women at Vision India. Just a super experience, the way their faces lit up when they saw us...and then to receive a gift - wow!

Vision India literally picks women up off the street - homeless, many are mentally challenged, some are pregnant, some have broken bones. They give them food, shelter and arrange for health care and psychological care. Their goal is to rehabilitate them, find their families, educate them about the women's problem and hopefully send them home.

It is a very basic place - no beds, very little furniture or facilities. I am always amazed at the dedication of the people who run these places - they truly give their lives to their cause.

Earlier in the week about 20 of us got together to wrap presents for four different charities. We wrapped blankets, dresses, sweaters, towels, jeans, watches and more - many for children, depending on their needs. And then we added a bar of chocolate as a treat.

Definitely a good way to get into the holiday spirit...of giving.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kadlekai Parishe - Groundnut Festival

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I thought Festival season was over but it just keeps on going...
This week was the Kadlekai Parishe, or the Groundnut Festival. This 3-day festival takes place only in Bangalore near the Bull Temple. Of course there is always a legend to go along with a festival. This one has to do with a bull in the 1500's - every full moon a bull would charge into the groundnut fields and damage the crop. The farmers started to offer prayers to Basava (Nandi) to stop the bull and pledged to offer their first crop.

Subsequently, an Idol of Basava was found close by. It has been said that the Idol was growing rapidly, and the farmers nailed an iron peg on the head of the idol to stop it from growing. Later in the year 1537, a temple to ‘Dodda Basava’ was built on a small hill and the idol was put inside. This temple is known as the Bull Temple here in Bangalore. The bull is black and decorated with garlands.

Every year, farmers from surrounding villages come to the Bull Temple and offer their annual harvest of groundnut as offering to Lord Basava. This is accompanied by the annual fair, which is known as the Kadlekai Parishe.

I went on the third and final day of the festival. There were lots of vendors selling their groundnuts on carts or on the sidewalk. There was a small fair with rides, astrologers reading palms, people selling inexpensive jewellery, bangles, toys and lots of snacks, rice, fruit and sugarcane.

One interesting thing that I tried from a street vendor was a twelve year old root - sliced thinly, dipped in sugar and lime - delicious! Wish I knew what it was.

There were balloons, and horns and bubbles. It was like a festive street party centered around the Bull Temple where I'm sure most people made their way to give an offering to Nandi (the bull) himself.