Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Charisma

A fun home show of kids, by kids, for kids-Christmas Charisma was a success. Kids from the age of 5 to 12 were present here. Rashi, a friend and student of class 4 from DPS, Kalyanpur conducted the show. The speech I had prepared was well rehearsed. Pragya, Rashi's sister and a class 2 student was upbeat and a good co-helper of the show; making sure all guests felt warm and welcome. As Rashi delivered her first public speech befor an audience of 10-15, Pragya was a great usher for the evening.

The programme began with Rashi, Pragya and Navodita singing the prayer invoking Goddess Saraswati; followed by Rashi's song and Navodita's Urdu singing. A good start got everyone moving to the tune of rhyme and rhythm as Pragya then played the casio to a Church tune 'God's Love'. The best presentation was by a 5-year old who dressed up like a cat recited a cat poem and several other poems on further popular demand. Divyam, the little wonder, became an early favorite of the audience winning accolades from all. Durga, a little shy child gave one more recitation performance before a tea-break.

Post-break of heavy chholey bhaturey the mood got livelier, then Navodita gave a brief yoga demonstration to music, followed by a dance performance by Pragya. This was in turn followed by another child's recitation and one more dancer rocking the stage to 'Dance Pe Chance'!  Programme got to a great finish with a Christmas carol and gifts being distributed from Santa's Sack. The two Santas -Navodita and Pragya were rather generous distributing sweets and children's gifts and good luck charms to all while singing Jingle Bells!

The brief Christmas celebration was enjoyed thoroughly by all children as they burst balloons in the end and gathered sweets and walked away happily with gifts from Santa. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2011 to you, too. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inspired by my new neighbors

The Clock-Cloud
by Navodita Pande

Once upon a  time in Madison Farm lived a mother mouse called Moi. Moi had 5 loving children. Their names were Moy, Mei, Marie, Mesh and Mint. Moy, Mei and Marie were beautiful little girls while Mesh and Mint were strong and robust boys. Each one had their own dreams and Moi wanted that her children should remain happy. After all she had been abandoned by her husband long ago and being a single mother had not been easy. She had worked for her children's dreams to come true.

Moy wanted to be a hair-dresser. She always loved different types of hair and sported different wigs at home. Mei was a brilliant and flexible dancer. She aimed to be able to dance
before the King some day. Marie was a quiet girl and always dreamt of a handsome boy to settle down with him. Mesh was a fighter and his dream was to fight the soldiers of the King's army. Mint, on the other hand, was a born sailor. He often stood for hours by the sea watching the ships sail by and captains walk up and down for their daily duties on the port. They all only had to wait for an opportunity to accomplish their dreams.

One day as all five mice were walking back from school, they chanced upon a little, mysterious rabbit in a bush. The rabbit said, 'Come here and see this.' The little mice went ahead and followed the rabbit. They could not believe their eyes.

They saw a huge cloud in a distance. Through little windows in the cloud they saw all kinds of different animals feasting inside. The cloud  had a clock right in front which ticked very loudly – tick, tock, tick, tock. In the cloud the animals passed food and drinks to one another. They saw men and women soldiers dancing around the dinner table. Stylish girls and boys were dressing up fancily as they danced around in one corner of the cloud. Another corner had young animals singing to music and chanting poetic verses. In a far away corner were old ladies sewing and trying out dresses, wearing different make-up and laughing to each other. The cloud was full of merry-making and fun-loving animals. As Moy, Mei, Marie, Mesh and Mint stared at the clock-cloud, an owl flew down to them from the cloud. 'Who are you?' asked the owl.

'We are mice from the Madison Farm close by. We want to be a part of your feast. Can we please come in?' replied Mesh. He was excited to see the soldiers.

'Yes, please. We would like to help you,' said Mei as she was overjoyed to see the dancing boys and girls all around.

'We will assist in the jobs being done,' answered Moy as she was ready to assist the hair-dressers.

'We want to join you in merry-making,' Mint shouted.

'We live with our mother who loves us very much. We just want to spend a little time inside the cloud, please,' coyly Marie squeaked.

'Alright then, come on in. But be sure you only have half an hour. Remember the magical clock here. She will strike 12. Then we have to leave the bush,' saying this the owl turned to  the door.

The five little mice screamed with joy,' Hurray!'

They all scurried through the door.  Moy went straight to the girls with cropped hair and started to do up hair of other girls in different styles. Mei joined the dancing girls and began tapping the floor to rhythmic music. Marie found solace in the company of old women sewing and stitching. Mesh and Mint headed for the dining-table and found good company among young soldiers, sailors and old army men. Time flew by. Little mice were busy enjoying themselves when they heard the clock at 12 noon- TONG! They rushed out and saw that the cloud gradually rose in the air and began to fly westwards. All the animals inside waved goodbye to their little mice-friends.

The mice rushed to their house but were rather sad to part from their new found friends. They were rather quiet and lost thinking about all the fun they had in the clock-cloud. At night they did not eat food and slept empty stomach. The mother mouse got worried as to what has happened to her little children. She, too, slept that day without eating. This went on for almost a week. The little mice lost interest in studies.

One week passed on. Suddenly one day the mother mouse saw a few kings men at her doorstep and watched the handsome prince walk out of the royal palanquin. The prince stepped out and ushered the mother mouse into the royal palanquin to take her to the Royal Court. The mother mouse Moi was rather surprised. She went to the court where the King explained to her how he was impressed by the five little mice in the clock-cloud.

'Welcome Moi! I wish to gift your little children and you with a new house in Madison Farm. I met your children in the clock-cloud. It is an annual feast where I met your charming, young children and decided that Moy shall be trained and employed by the Royal Hair Salon; Mei will teach dance to the royal children and will be trained to be a better dancer; Marie had been chosen to be trained as a seamstress and the Duchess of Madison Farm. The young, handsome Duke of Madison fancied her at the clock-cloud where they met and became friends,' said the King.

Moi knew no bounds to her joy. Her hard work had paid off. 'Thank you, dear Lord,' she knelt down to thank the King.

'And let me tell you that Mesh is going to be trained a soldier while Mint will be the future Captain of my personal Royal Ship,' the King added. 'You have done a good job of grooming your little mice. We are informed that your divorced husband harasses you occasionally so he will be taken care of. You can now live in peace for the rest of your life.'

Moi was overjoyed. She returned to Madison and found that the King kept all his promises. When the little mice returned from school, Moi told them what had happened. The King's decision came as a pleasant surprise to the five children. They rushed to the Court to thank him.

'Thank you, O Lord. This is not what we had expected,' the mice spoke in unison before the King.

'I liked you the moment you stopped outside the clock-cloud. I sent my Royal Guard owl to you. Now work hard and be an asset to the Kingdom of Mice. Go and live peacefully with your mother Moi. My best wishes are always with you,' the King blessed.

Moi and her five mice lived happily ever after. Each one continued to work hard and become a talented workman in the Kingdom.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Indian desserts

Murmura/lahiya Laddoo


5 medium-sized balls of jaggery
1/2 kg lahiya/murmura
Cocoa powder for taste
11/2 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter

Method of preparation:

Fry lahiya/murmura in 1/2 tablespoon ghee on low flame until it turns light brown. Keep it separately in a large bowl. In 1 tablespoon of ghee, heat the jaggery pieces and stir until it changes colour into dark brown. Mix the fried lahiya and cocoa powder. Make it into balls or laddoos. Murmura laddoo is ready to be eaten.


Traditional Indian birthday cake: Gulgula


2 bowls of wheat flour
1 bowl of sugar
11/2 litres of water
200 gms cooking oil

Method of preparation:

Soak the flour and sugar overnight in 1/2 litre of water to make it into yeast. In the morning or after 10-12 hours add the rest of water for a good consistency. Heat the oil in a deep pan. Fry the wheat mixture after making it into small balls until light brown or medium brown. Eat hot after lifting it out dry from the pan.



1/2 kg wheat flour
250 gms powdered sugar
50 gms gond
100 gms almonds
7 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter

Method of preparation:

Fry almonds separately in 1 tablespoon of ghee until deep brown. Grind it evenly. Fry gond separately in 1 tablespoon ghee, first on high flame and then on low flame until it turns medium brown. Grind it fine. In 5 tablespoons of ghee, fry the flour on low flame until it turns medium brown. Let it cool for sometime. Mix the powdered sugar. fried and ground almonds and fried and ground gond. Make it into round balls or laddoo. Laddoo is ready to be eaten as delicious dessert.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wrestling at the Commonwealth Games: A homage to KD Jadhav

After the withdrawal of Rajiv Tomar and Rahul Mann from the Indian team playing for India at the CWG 2010, the mood was not entirely upbeat. I was disappointed in particular because K.D. Jadhav Wrestling Stadium was not a training venue for wrestlers. The wrestlers were to arrive here only during the competition. After my initial headlock with the competition guys over the podium, I did not have the best relations with them so that I could request them to invite wrestlers to the stadium prior to the event. Anyway I was too busy with the management and the organizational work at the stadium accommodating last minute demands of my supervisors for signages, catering orders, standees, etc.

The first day of Games was pretty smooth sail with Men’s Graeco-Roman 60 kg, 74 kg and 96 kg being a clean sweep by the three Indian wrestlers – Ravinder Singh, Sanjay Kumar and Anil Kumar. A great push to the wrestlers who were to follow-up the day after in their respective weight categories.

On the second day of men’s graeco-roman fight in the weight categories 55 kg, 66 kg, 84 kg and 120 kg, performance of Indian wrestlers may not have been so great but the bouts were rather intriguing. Rajender Kumar landed us a gold in the 55 kg-weight category with Manoj Kumar losing to Efionaye Agbonavbare of Nigeria to settle for the silver in 84 kg weight category. 66 kg graeco-roman was won by Myroslav Dykum of England after he defeated Jack Bond of Canada while Sunil Kumar easily got the bronze ending the bout 1-0, 5-0 to Brett Hawthorn of Wales. Another bronze winner this day was Dharmender Dalal in the 120-kg category who defeated Varntan Aparian of Cyprus by 1-0, 1-0.

Winner in this category were Australia where Ivan Popov had a good control over Nigeria’s Talaram Mamman, score reading 1-0, 5-0.

Day 3 at the wrestling indoor stadium, women’s freestyle for weight categories 48 kg, 55 kg, 63 kg and 72 kg were fought. A disappointing start by 48-kg ‘pehelwan’ Nirmala Devi who had the potential of winning a gold but losing to Carol Huynh of Canada was indeed a ‘silver’ lining in the Indians’ medal tally. Nigerian women emerged pretty strong on these two days as Odunayo Fo Adekuroye landed just the bronze in the 55-kg weight category defeating Brumilda Leeuw of the Republic of South Africa.

55 kg women’s freestyle Indian performer, Geeta, was a powerpunch as she first defeated Welsh wrestler to contest against Lovina Odohi Edward of Nigeria and finally defeat Emily Bensted to claim a victory by fall. With a total of 5 classification points and 11 technical points, Geeta’s gold-clinching performance has been unmatchable in the entire 6-day play at the stadium.

63 kg weight performer Suman Kundu seemed to be a promising player as she defeated Scottish Tracy Connell in the quarter-final to make it to the semis but Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu proved to be rather strong and robust. Kundu played well in the repechage final defeating Zumick Geringer of the Republic of South Africa while the gold was won by Justine Bouchard after she defeated Blessing Oborududu in the final bout.

Unfortunately 72 kg Indian wrestler Anshu Tomar was ousted in the first qualification round itself by Nigeria’s Hellen Okus. Anshu was no match to the strength Hellen displayed; Anshu’s clinches and grapples failed entirely here. Hellen Okus went onto win the bronze beating Sarah Jones from Scotland. It was a decision by points where Sarah was the loser without technical points. The total number of technical points earned by Hellen were 4 - 2 in the first period and 2 in the second period which also gave her a total of 3 classification points. 72-kg winner Ohenewa Akuffo represented Canada and gave a good defeat to Annabel Laure Ali from Cameroon. Akuffo is a potential Olympic medal winner.

October 8 was a good day for Indian women on the two mats on which bouts began simultaneously like every other day. 51 kg participant was a feather in the cap for India – Babita Kumari went onto win the silver; 59 kg participant Alka Tomar easily placed herself for the final bout that won her the gold while Anita as 67 kg-gold winner boosted India’s morale at the Games for the two days that were to follow.

Next two days where men’s freestyle events were to follow saw huge crowds with spectators cheering aloud for the men competitors. Yogeshwar Dutt won the gold beating James Mancini of Canada while Sasha Madyarchyk settled for the bronze. Yogeshwar won a total of 9 technical points and 3 classification points beating James Mancini by 7 technical points.

In 74 kg weight category, Narsingh Pancham Yadav clinched the gold with South Africa’s Richard Brian Addinall landing a silver for himself and Evan MacDonald of Canada winning the bronze. Yadav played with equal vigour in both the periods – 2 technical points in each period collecting 3 classification points for himself defeating Richard for gathering 0 technical points.

96-kg freestyle final was a neck and neck between Nigeria and Canada with Sinvie Boltic getting the gold after beating Korey Jarvis; Leon Gregor Rattigan of England being the bronze medal winner. While Boltic earned his 1st technical point in period 1; Jarvis equalled it in the second period and the third period saw both earn 2 points each. Boltic, however, collected 3 classification points and Jarvis only 1; and this is probably what won him the bout even though the score-sheet produced by GNS said ‘the loser with technical points’ (3-3?). Anil Mann, the Indian was out in the first round itself losing to England in the qualifier.

October 10 was the final day of the bout that saw the stadium colourful with buntings, vuvuzelas and stickers, posters and banners for cheering. Anil Kumar playing in the 55 –kg weight category was ousted by Azhar Hussain of Pakistan in the quarter-final but retained the bronze after beating Craig Pilling of Wales. Azhar Hussain was in form and won the gold beating Ebikewenimo Welson of Nigeria. Azhar Hussain’s flash quote, taken by GNS, specified that due to little or no graeco-roman training in Pakistan, the players barely had any practice in the graeco-roman throws but did well in the freestyle grapples.

Loud cheer for Sushil Kumar of 66 kg-weight category who first defeated Tarash Mehrdad of Australia and then Muhammad Salman of Pakistan; subsequently beating Farmara Jarjou (3-0) of The Gambia to face Heinrich Barnes of South Africa in the final bout. Gaining a 2-0, 5-0 win over Heinrich within a match of two periods seemed a rather cakewalk for this Kumar. Chris Prickett of Canada went ahead to win the bronze for this category.

84 kg category representative was Anuj Kumar of India . He got a silver after losing to Muhammad Inam of Pakistan – 3-2, 0-1, 0-1. Andrew Dick of Nigeria got the bronze.

120 kg match was an interesting one with Arjan Bhullar of Canada fighting it out with Joginder Kumar of India for the gold medal. Arjan won the final bout 1-0, 3-0. Cameroon’s Thiery Onanena landed up with the bronze.

Power-packed 6-day competition at this venue proved that it is good to encourage new faces in the sport. Even though four original team players – Rajiv Tomar, Sumit, Mausam Khatri and Gursharanpreet Kaur were replaced by other wrestlers, Indian team proved that they could still keep the Indian flag flying high.

For me, personally, mother of all bouts was Geeta’s. Bewitching experience to watch her gain control of Emily in the first period as she gained 1 point after another to gather a total of 3. In the second period she performed extremely well. She started out well making 3 points right at the start as she kept Emily glued onto the mat for five seconds. Another 1 point gained in the next few seconds as she kept Emily under grabs. 1 more point gained in keeping her held down after which Geeta gained 2 points once again. The last pointer of hers was a bonus she gained as Emily was being unable to escape or perform any game-changer technique or tactic. Geeta's total scoring in the second period-round was commendable – 3-1-1-2-1.

Wish there would be more technical replays in a standard national-level wrestling bout televised on the national television – doordarshan!

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