Monday, October 22, 2007


“Gollu” is the arrangement-cum-exhibition of dolls done as a ceremony to mark Dusshera or Navarathiri celebrations.

After Diwali, this is one of my favorite festivals. Earlier, the reason was – I get to visit my friends’/relatives’ places, sing a carnatic song and get some goodies to eat. Have discussion with uncles/aunts on raagas, thaalas, different style of singing and of course my music teacher would be a topic too. If four of my school friends join, then it would be an enchanting song with a combination of low and high notes. No wonder they made us the school choir!

I stopped visiting as time flew, but I like the festival still as its a good expression of our culture, tradition and ancient knowledge. This gives a chance for women folks to collaborate. Also, Its been a practice to give gifts to folks who visit your house. Earlier, it was a small packet of “Sundal” (snack made out of beans/grams etc). Then it was a full “dressing pack” that includes comb, mirror, kumkum (maroon powder that ladies adorn their foreheads with) and turmeric. I still remember packing the kumkum in small plastic containers in my yester years. Later, life was simple by readily packed containers. Then to make it cheaper they started packing in plastic covers.

These days the trend has further evolved – when I went home, I saw a pile of new plastic boxes received as gifts. It seems the motto is to give something useful. The items can be anything like handy utensils, hair clips, show-piece(s), blouse piece(s), basket etc. Its nice to know that people are willing to give (even if the item has come as a gift from someone else). Innovative theme(s) on Gollu is another driving factor. Dolls (both old and new) are kept for display. Usual items comprise of “10 Avatars” in Hinduism, Thanjavur dolls, Marapachhi dolls. Rangolis, parks, cities, towns, and spiritual places are also depicted. Lights, decoration with flowers and wind chimes add glamour to the scene.

I cannot have better reasons to like this custom!!

Shady side of this
1. Pumpkins – They burst pumpkins on raods with the belief that it will ward off the evil omen casted by jealousy eyes. This is a hazard for two wheelers. I got a comment that earlier atleast cows would consume the pumpkins. These days it’s very rare.
2. Blaring loudspeakers – Another mode of festive expression is loud cini/devotional songs. The effect is more if your house is near to a temple or an auto stand!

After all, good things come with a package isn’t?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Art of “natural” speaking

Is speaking natural? Iam talking about “speaking in general”..A person may be good at constant chit-chat but may not give the same results if he is asked to do the same on a stage and vice versa! On the contrary, a person may be good at both.

My first speech was on “Work is worship” while I was in class five. To the surprise of everyone, I bagged the first prize in the contest. I still remember that my English ma’am walked up to me and said, “I never realized you would speak so well being the most silent student in the class”. I did not even probe her statement due to my sheer excitement at that point in time. I give full credit to my dad who wrote the speech for me. I do remember a few words that said ” For a butcher, the knife he uses to cut is a tool of worship..” My dad has an amazing vocabulary in English/Hindi. His pen is definitely mightier whenever he uses it. And he is, in general a silent person too! After that episode, there was no looking back for me – have been getting prizes in yearly speech contests both in English and Hindi (I wonder how?) till I passed out of my school. My Dad authored all the speeches. That may be the only reason for my winning! Anyways, the fact is till today am not very comfortable in initiating conversations with people whom I know well unless there is a need. It’s coming as a shock as I type those words! Guess that’s coming from my character of being reserved! Though once initiated, ppl cant ask for more! Well, Iam improving there.

Its actually a paradox as I see people around me going to eloquent /public speaking clubs, English vocabulary coaching class etc and still fail to express day to day thoughts clearly to their folks. One of my colleagues got a feedback in the usage of grammar and she is earnestly going to a grammarian to refresh her skills. All these may help in inducing the “natural flare” but may fail to be natural! Cos I guess if any one is good at speaking, it would have a history of reading, writing or usage of vocab behind them. It’s definitely not a few days ordeal. Also, one is successful only if he/she uses the skills in all aspects of speaking!

One can easily differentiate the natural flare and acquired skill of speaking. Acquiring skills of speaking in itself is easy compared to the effort of making it natural!

Kudos to all natural speakers!!!