Dasara is on the 10 th day of Navratri. It is to mark the victory of Goddess Durga over Demon Mahishasura. In Maharashtra, we do Seemolanghan on this day. In olden times, we used to follow the ritual of crossing the territory of the village or town in the north-east direction. Being in the vast city like Chennai I can only imagine crossing the city and coming back in the evening on time.
Seemolanghan is a sandhi ( combination) of Marathi word Seema meaning Limit and Ulanghan meaning crossing.
In modern times, we should actually work towards crossing our limits not physically but mentally in terms of efforts, in terms of patience, in terms of restraint.
Pushing the limits – Knowing who you are
As we meet so many people across the world throughout our lives, we find different behaviors. No two people are same. But as a human being there is something familiar in all of them. They are all capable of going an extra mile, crossing the boundaries.
Be it acid attack survivors, cancer survivors, or the girl who has been termed as the world’s most ugly girl in the world. Be it the Army men or the Mumbai Dabbawalas who are on time every time. Be it Paralympians or be it any Successful Sports Person. Pushing the limits is something common in all of them.
They have successfully crossed the limits, and have made their mark ahead of that limit. Here, there is a magic of human effort and spirit.
The question remains, whether these people already knew to push the limits? How do they know what they should do? But there are so many constraints to achieve something extraordinary?
Nothing extraordinary can be achieved without crossing the boundaries. Comfort zone is the killer of success. You might be successful at the current place where you are but why not push a little more and see what happens. Why not take risks and give it a 110% of your effort.
The best thing about possibilities is that they are endless.
While you enter the risk zone, you would find it extremely tough to even survive, but there is where you will understand who you are.
Understanding your limits is the first step towards crossing it, so this Seemolanghan let us first identify what our limits are.
How far we can actually go. And then there would be a chance that you can successfully perform Seemolanghan.
This Vijayadashami, may you find yourself and your inner peace. And instead of traveling across the city, hope you go deep inside yourself and perform Seemolanghan.
I saw her first during my first visit to Chennai and fell in love with her. Her Pillai style Madisar usually green, maroon with a matching blouse, with a signature KumKum on the forehead brought in all the beauty. She was amazingly beautiful but looked gorgeous on Friday as she brightened her skin using some Manjal or Haldi. Grey hair tied in a bun always I mean always adorned with flowers.
This was Krishnammal whom we fondly called “Aachi”.
Aachi married Thatha when she was in teens. From her village she came to a city called Madras. Back then, Thatha was working in a temple at Nungambakkam. There were no all weather roads in Madras but Aachi used to deliver his lunch box by walk. Whenever somebody tells me this tale, I can imagine old madras and the way this beautiful saree clad would carry the hot lunch box ( 6 tier with spoon) for her husband.
How lucky Thatha was to have such a dutiful wife.
She was diligent in her chores. As they stayed in temple house or Agraharam, she used to do all the household work looking after her kids, grandkids and great grandkids. Till she was alive, the house was always full with people. She has brought up number of children with such an ease. I now feel that Aachi loved to be surrounded by people. Her way of welcoming and feeding each one of us is unforgettable. Once I remember I overate enormous amount of food because I could not say no to her. This is not only my story, they say, one could never resist overeating food made by Aachi.
All her recipes are gems, food made at Aachi’s home would give run to any five star hotel food or for that matter Aru Suvai’s food (no offense to Aru Suvai 🙂 ) ( Aru Suvai are the Famous Caterers in Chennai) may be as
Aachi would pour all her heart in the food that she would make.
We used to stay near her home in Mylapore then. She would come home around 5.30 in the evening walking from her house just to see us. She would come, ask me about Sham’s whereabouts, my job and what I made that day. At the age of 82-83 she would walk and come home. She used to rush back home immediately because she never liked to stay outside home after 7.00. I have got scoldings many times for being out after 7.00.
An ardent believer of god, she was the only person in Mylapore who can call Lord Kapaliswarar by a pet name “Kapali”. I was amazed at the way she could walk and go to Sabarimala even at that age.
There is a Nellika(gooseberry) tree at Aachi’s place. While being pregnant, I used to munch on those, even now I do but then it was special. She noticed it and one evening she brought a fantastic tangy pickle of those hand picked gooseberries. A gesture which I would never ever forget. Aachi has touched many lives through her food, her demeanour and her number of kind gestures but what remains with me is a loving and caring being who was standing for 5 long hours outside the labour room just to overlook whether the doctors are doing their job properly in making me deliver a baby girl.
Rightly so, we named our lil one after her.. Because her majestic being lives in our heart day in and day out.
It is ok to fail, many people have told me but I seldom have failed in my many many pursuits if I ignore the surprise math test in 11std. Failure to do something does not feel great, it feels sad to not to have accomplished something.
No sugar challenge started when me and my colleague Vignesh who is a sports person were discussing about how no sugar has helped him.
He was talking about refined sugar and how completely stopping it helped him.
I was impressed and thought let me start it at once. It was exciting..no sugar..whatsoever with a resolve.
Next day I woke up to banana as always and some time later I tried having the no sugar tea. One sip of it was not great but overall it was fine. May be my taste buds were happy with the sweet taste of banana already so they did not complain much about the no sugar tea. I generally take one coffee around 11 pm, so my dear cook Kamakshi had to be told specifically that I am having this “vratam” please don’t indulge yourself in giving your akka (that is me) a great cup with a good quantity of sugar.
She was surprised because I am the one against all possible fad diets and fad rules about food.
Her coffee is out of the world but having it with no sugar was 🙁 never mind. I was ok with it. 6th day was Sunday. Little Ms. K is fond of chocolates and kulfi so is her dad. Both love sweets to the core and they indulge as they please. This Sunday, I really refrained from all types of indulgences deliberately. I was the topic of discussion at the breakfast table and everybody was condemning my resolve of no sugar.
I am not a foodie and I do not crave for sweets too but still people felt like I am depriving myself from my free will of having sweets.
Around 10 days of no sugar I started feeling as follows:
- I was more alert
- Slept well through the night
- I felt that my oral cavity was healthy and fresh
- No sluggishness throughout the day
- My overall energy was constant without a slump.
It was around 12th day that I got a call from one of my friends. She invited me as a sumangali for Varalakshmi Vratam and I had to indulge myself in the naivedya that she served. It indeed had sweets and I did eat everything she served. That day we attended an evening food award function where dinner spread had an amazing variety of sweets which I have not tasted or had..I tasted around 5 sweets that day…TASTED (not indulged). So, my vratam actually failed that day and my belief that none of the fad rules work got reinforced.
Though I am back to my no sugar routine, there is practically no point in refraining from anything. Balancing is the key. You got to balance everything, your food, sugar intake, rice intake, salt intake and workout to maintain healthy lifestyle.
I have failed in my resolve but I like my no sugar coffee. Kamakshi is also used to no sugar coffee for akka..that is more than enough at this point 🙂
World War II, the struggle of Jews under the claws of German Army. Everywhere there was bloodshed and the small City of Guernsey was not exception. Here is a movie review of a movie ” The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”
Last week was not as great. I fell down and twisted my ankle, had severe neck and head pain. Already in the pain, I was helpless and rested. One such evening and I came across this wonderful movie of Lily James ( Cinderella fame). The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The name is quite mouthful but the movie was certainly awesome.
Surfing on Netflix is not bad as they say, it just gets you movies of different genres at your fingertip and nothing is more addictive than that.
Four neighbours Mrs. Maugery, Isola, Dawsy, Elizabeth and Eben meet over a dinner. But this dinner is special. It is a feast for all these people who have been suffering from acute starvation. In the fear of getting caught ( during world war any type of gathering was prohibited), Elizabeth says that they met for book reading and the name of their book reading club is spontaneously tossed by Elizabeth as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Potato peel pie is in the memory of the pie made of potatoes by Eben. As interesting as it sounds, these people really meet over book reading sojourns, they read and read a lot.
“We read books, talked books, argued over books and became dearer and dearer to one another.”
― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
In the meanwhile, you have Juliet Ashton, a writer from London, who has a typical life of a writer but she has a quest of something new and better. She receives a letter from Dawsy Adams of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society asking her to send one of the books and stating their condition as well as the story of the society.
This intrigues Juliet to the point that she goes to Guernsey. The movie depicts the inward journey of Juliet as she reaches Guernsey, meets and knows these people.
“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”
The movie was simple yet sent a very powerful message. The depiction of world war II and the struggle of people is portrayed very realistically. We can only imagine the problems that Jews faced during WWII. I have read “Diary of Anne Frank” and that along with some history lessons are my windows to WWII. I was glad that I could finally see something related to WWII.
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is heartwarming and fresh, at the same time it makes you think about the hardships that people faced during WWII. Juliet and her journey inwards could be felt in due course of the movie and it ended on a positive note. In short, the movie has everything which makes it a good watch.
“All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged — after all, what’s good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it’s a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot. ”
― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
These people with the reading society started breathing books. In any of their dialogues you will find Charlotte Bronte’s quote or you find Jane Austen. While reading these books which were the only entertainment that they had and the only way to be positive in their lives, these people would be transcending themselves in the world of no chaos no world war which made it so special.
Three days on and I have not been able to forget the movie and some of the dialogues.
Some things stay with your heart forever. I am sure this movie is one of them….
I should also read the book perhaps.
“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”
A place where you get to know what is the real PEACE. A place where you get to see “happy faces”. A place where you see kindness, compassion, discipline and the power of prayers. A place where you see all smiles and no frowns.
A Warm Welcome
The moment I entered the Sriperumbudur Premise of Society for Educational and Economic development (SEED), I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome of nearly fifty children (Age 5-10 years). And when they saw my 1.25 months old, well, everyone wanted to lift the baby in their own hands.
No wonder many did, with the expertise of a pro! After all the lives they have lived , they have mastered the art of loving others, taking care of others and living life with no complains.
The teachers cum guardians received us and I felt the warmth of the place at that very moment. The feeling of being one with them started sinking my heart.
A quick introduction of the children and teacher followed. Bharani, Niveda, Pavithra, Mohnesh, and Lakshmi and forty five more children along with the single parent mother and the teacher took us to see their classrooms. Well decorated classrooms loaded with information would make our urban schools go for a run. The children were enthused to show us the classroom,though it was a Sunday.
They quickly made us move to the new attraction in the projector room. “Wa wa Padam Pakulam”! One of them was heard inviting his other buddy.
I loved the way they quickly took their seats around the small round table without being directed and ordered by the teacher.All of them unanimously sang the poems together,and were happy to sing the songs learnt by them.
We were then taken to the prayer room, to their rooms and their locker rooms. One of the boys showed me his bag. A bag where he has kept his belongings. I thought to myself,”
Life is indeed great when you don’t carry the excess baggage of unnecessary things and memories”! Small things made these children happy.
As the food was getting ready, children assembled on the ground for the prayers. A prayer can definitely do wonders when the power fails. The prayer went on and these small children made a beeline with their plates to the dining room. One after the other, they took their places and waited till the madam gave them instructions to eat. Not a single eye was open when they again recited their prayers.
Standing there, I just wished and prayed for the welfare of these gems who were burdened with the sorrows of life.
Indeed life teaches in several ways. After eating their meals, the children showed their plates to the teacher one by one. The teachers have cultivated this habit to ensure that there is no wastage of food.Some older children were seen feeding the younger ones.What maturity I thought to myself. Nursing ability and affection comes naturally when one faces challenges in life and that too at such a tender age. The children ate the food well and after some time they waved off a bye.That was their sleeping time.
We happily took their leave and while returning home numerous thoughts came to my mind.
Somewhere I also knew that these children were extremely self confident and needed no pity.
The organisation is doing enough for them so that they can live a life with dignity by inculcating right values and morals. SEED is successful in lending them education, vocational training, technical training and the life skills. What they need is your support, your interest and your time.
What you can do for them?
- Create an awareness about the organisation.
- Motivate and support the children
- Sponsor meals/ Sponsor a child or more
- Help them in kind( stationery, clothes,bedding, books)
- Volunteer with SEED
- Or Fund their infrastructure
SEED is a home away from home to the needy children.This Non-Governmental Organisation has been functioning, from the year 1981, when it was established for the welfare of the miniscule percentage of underprivileged children.
1)Children with parents who are serving life term.
2) Children with parents who are suffering from ailments like Cancer, AIDS and leprosy.
3) Children with single mothers.
4) Children who have lost their parents to crime or murder and many more.
The smiling faces were flashing over my mind. I wish to go to this extended family of mine on and off. Visit them at http://seeduniversal.org/ or personally at
Society for the Educational and Economic Development (Regd.)
(opp.) P.W.D. Inspection Bungalow, Chennai – Bangalore High Road,
Venkatrangam Pillai Chatiram, Sriperumbudur – 602 105
Tamil Nadu State, India.