Life-The Amish Way

As I read more and more about Amish, the fascination and intrigue kept growing. Last week , finally I had a chance to travel to Lancaster, Pennsylvania the Amish county to see the real people.

I had lots of information about Amish before I started my journey, a journey I never thought would come my way but life often gives surprises! So on a beautiful summer day in June,2017, I took Interstate 95 from New Jersey. As soon as the city ended, the beautiful green forests crept up by the highway. We had entered Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the landscape reminded me of my place, full of green foliage. The drive was about 2 and a half hours, needless to say, I didnt realize how the hours went by.

Amish are of Swiss-German ancestry who emigrated to Pennsylvania in early 18th century. They are known for simple living, plain dressing and do not use modern technology including electricity, automobiles and telephones. They value rural life, manual labor and humility, what they believe to be God’s word.They have their own one-room schools and discontinue formal education after 8th grade, at age 13 or 14. Until the children turn 16, they have vocational training from their parents, community, and the school teacher. Because they believe, education until 8th grade is enough to do what they do for a living i.e .farming, carpentry, household work and other related works within their community. The population (which doubles every 20 years) of Amish as of 2016 was 308,030.
I got to see some breathtaking views of the place , mostly Lancaster county. Taking a guided tour of a place called ,’The Amish Village’ where they have tried to show a glimpse of Amish life was amazing. Then we went into the country side entering into some of the real villages and watching Amish work in their daily routine like in the farms or just riding their bicycles to run errands. The people I saw wore their traditional dresses with women in white bonnets and men in black or straw hats. Then I visited some of the tourist shops to get some souvenirs, the place has been marketed for tourism from 20th century and I guess, it has also become a source of income for the Amish and other locals. The beauty and the integrity of the place and the people has been intact and we get to see how these people have managed to live life without the modern day technological advantages.

I enjoyed the whole day in nature’s lap and promised myself to return someday…

Here are some of the memorable pics from the Amish County.

 

Dangal- Movie Review

Dangal- Movie Poster

Dangal- Movie Poster

That gut-wrenching soul-chilling scream of the father to his daughter when she is about to lose the qualifying match once again, will always echo in my mind.

HARNA NAHI HAI GEETA…

And it is my take home message.

Though I do not identify with the gender stereotypes shown in the film because I come from a fairly gender neutral society but I realised how fortunate the girls from North East are. And that we should make the most of it (by pursuing our unconventional dreams and passions) because we do not have to fight with the society for the choices we make in our lives.

Since Aamir Khan competes only with himself, it was hard to pick any negatives from the film. I could only feel that this movie contradicts his earlier one ‘Three Idiots’ in terms of how much a parent should interfere in their children’s dreams for their future.

The newcomers have got the best of out of it, learning the art of perfection from the master himself. The charm, enthusiasm and freshness of the Fatima and Sanya will remain in people’s mind for long.To be able to portray the characters as wrestlers would not have been an easy task. It’s a treat to watch the passion and thrill in the girls’ eyes every time they are onscreen. I particularly liked the character of the cousin brother who sticks with them till the end and isn’t it lovely to have a brother who stands by you in all your fights.

Its normal for Aamir Khan to make a brilliant movie but what next…!

Ab Perfection ko kaise improve kiya jaye?

Z for Zoroastrianism

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“Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions, and it has probably had more influence on mankind, directly and indirectly, than any other single faith.” Mary Boyce.

The religion was founded by Zarathushtra in Persia .It may have been the world’s first monotheistic faith. It was once the religion of the Persian empire, but has since been reduced in numbers to fewer than 200,000 Zoroastrians today. With the exception of religious conservatives, most religious historians believe that the Jewish, Christian and Muslim beliefs concerning God and Satan, the soul, heaven and hell, the virgin birth of the savior,resurrection, the final judgment, etc. were all derived from Zoroastrianism.

Zoroaster lived in Persia, modern day Iran. Legends say that his birth was predicted and that attempts were made by the forces of evil to kill him as a child,a common theme found in many religions of the world. He preached a monotheism in a land which followed an aboriginal polytheistic religion. He was attacked for his teaching, but finally won the support of the king. Zoroastrianism became the state religion of various Persian empires, until the 7th Century CE.

When Muslim Arabs invaded Persia in 650 CE, a small number of Zoroastrians fled to India. Today, the group in India is the largest concentration of Zoroastrians in the world. Here, they are called Parsis. Those who remained behind in Iran have survived centuries of persecution, systematic slaughter, forced conversion, heavy taxes, etc. They now number only about 18,000 and reside chiefly in Yazd, Kernan and Tehran.

Zoroastrian places of worship are called Fire Temples. In the temples, an eternal flame is kept burning with sandalwood and frankincense.

Zoroastrians do not convert and consequently Zoroastrians are born to the faith. If a Parsi woman marries outside the religion, her children cannot be Zoroastrians, but if a man marries outside, his children can become Zoroastrians, although his wife cannot.

There are three basic moral principles that guide the life of a Zoroastrian:

  • Humata, “Good Thoughts,” the intention or moral resolution to abide by Asha, the right order of things.
  • Hukhata, “Good Words,” the communication of that intention.
  • Havarashta, “Good Deeds,” the realization in action of that intention.

Zoroastrianism places great emphasis on purity and not impair any of the elements of Zoroastrians’ creation. Hence traditionally, neither burial nor cremation were practiced by Zoroastrians. Dead bodies were taken to a Tower of Silence and laid out under the sun, where vultures devoured them.The doctrinal rationale for exposure is to avoid contact with earth or fire, both of which are considered sacred.This ritual is still followed and dedicated tower houses are constructed away from the cities.

According to the Zoroastrian tradition, after the death of the body, the soul remains in this world for three days and nights, in the care of angels. During this period, prayers are said and rituals performed to assure a safe passage of the soul into the spiritual kingdom. On the dawn of the fourth day, the spirit is believed to have crossed over to the other world.

Parsis’ are the actual minority of India as their population is decreasing by fast. They are concentrated mostly around Mumbai and a small percentage is present still in Gujarat where they initially landed.This is due to people getting married late, not wanting to have kids and also due to their ritual of marrying within their own community. Something needs to be done to protect them not because they are a religion but because they are peace loving , hardworking , industrious and not-crazy-about propagating their religion people.

Raja Ravi Verma: The Parsee Lady

Raja Ravi Verma:
The Parsee Lady

G-Gentleman

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The word Gentleman reminds me of the movie An Officer and a Gentleman. Richard Gere playing the role to perfection. Somehow I always have associated him as a true gentleman! After this movie, the faith got stronger 🙂

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Being a Fauji kid, I also have associated Gentleman with men in uniform, of course. Each one of them show absolute gentleman-ly behavior in public. Aint sure if they are up to the same mark in their personal lives too! Living not less than 30 years in Fauj has shown how good these men in uniform are in general. Sadly, this quality is not in great abundance in civilian men (or women), something I have personally experienced. May be because men in uniform are supposed to be pleasant and chivalrous as a responsibility and such a requirement does not bind civilians except for people in hospitality industry.

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Putting together some of the important do’s for a Gentleman:

  1. Negotiates airports with ease
  2. Never lets a door slam in someone’s face
  3. Knows when to keep silent and does not swear
  4. Wears his learning lightly
  5. Possesses at least one well-made dark suit, one tweed suit, and a dinner jacket
  6. Avoids lilac socks and polishes his shoes
  7. Turns his mobile phone to silent at dinners
  8. Carries house guests’ luggage to their rooms
  9. Says his name when being introduced
  10. Breaks a relationship face to face
  11. Is unafraid to speak the truth
  12. Knows when to clap
  13. Arrives at a meeting five minutes before the agreed time
  14. Is good with waiters
  15. Is not vegetarian
  16. Never kisses and tells
  17. Cooks an omelette to die for
  18. Seeks out his hostess at a party
  19. Sandals? No. Never
  20. Demonstrates that making love is neither a race nor a competition
  21. Knows that there is always an exception to a rule

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C for California

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It was a dream…to step on American soil. Just that I didn’t know when and where would it be first. Since America had always fascinated me, be it ,with its vast mid-west , uber cool Manhattan or natural countryside of  Pennsylvania or its wild wild west….I was always in awe of its variety and its mixed culture.

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So when it came calling, the first thing I asked was which state is it. Well it was the golden state of California. By now I have lived 2 years in a row in California and a year in Nebraska. Both has its own beauty but none of the states of America can beat California for its rolling hills, Vineyards of Napa, beaches of its west coast and mixed culture of Asians and Mexicans. The food I ate here was of best variety, the clubs were cool and the trips to the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are unforgettable.

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The lakes (actually the backwaters) in and around San Mateo, the parks, the spring blooms on the roads and the hundreds of hikes I took in the state parks were just so awesome.

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When I look back to my memories of California, I see the golden hills, the beaches of LA and the glitzy glamour of Vegas and also the most beautiful highway of the world- Highway-1.

Must be grateful to God for making my dreams come true! California is a must visit place on earth for one who likes to travel places.

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He and She

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He loved spicy food and she loved non-veg. He loved romantic Bollywood numbers from the 70’s, she loved random stuff. He was fond of business news and she loved cricket. He valued family relationships outside the immediate family too, she was born and brought up in a nuclear family. He loved home made food because he had lived on ordered food for a long time, she loved to go out and very often because she gave food ratings on a regular basis for restaurants. He was a health freak, she loved to eat, read, sleep and repeat. They were poles apart in diversities yet they clicked. Or so they thought. Opposites do attract but not necessarily for longer periods in time.

They had met on internet when it was new. Just chat and mails in those times. They grew fond of each other over next 5 years. Little did they realized that the charm was superficial. It was mostly because they were still in college and were not committed to anyone else at that point in time. Coming from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, their relationship was doomed from day one. But they managed to overlook the red signals, defied their common sense and went against their families.

The marriage went kaput in just a couple of months. They realized it soon but they dragged it for a year somehow. She took a decision to pursue her studies instead and he took a travelling job and a transfer to another city.

Rest is history.

Lesson learnt from other’s mistake: Do not jump into a relationship just because you are single and never take your marriage for granted.

Duck-Amazing

PS- He loved being with nature, she loved being inside her cozy room, reading and cooking!

Education

 

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I believe that Education is an enlightening experience rather than a process of receiving systematic instruction at school. Beacause if education cannot teach you to be rationale, to persevere and be patient then its of no use.

The aim of schooling or education, ultimately should be to make one mature so that under a given set of circumstances he is able to make a fair decision. What is the use of piling up degrees if you don’t know how to behave in public, how to talk to people, how to manage people or for that matter how to have social ettiquettes. I have come across several so called “postgraduates’ or highly educated people who do not even know what kind of language they use to communicate with people. They would talk at the top of their voice in a normal conversation, use choiciest expletives, brag, exploit, derogate and humiliate people just for nuts.

Sometimes you would find such decency in young people and sometimes you fail to see it in so called educated people. I feel, all that matters is becoming an overall good person and how soon in your life you achieve that state of Nirvana. What does it actually take to make you a nice human being? Do you really a post graduate degree to achieve that? I don’t think so. A lot is already in your genes, and most of it is acquired in your growing years while your parents teach you to do the right things. A lot of it is imbibe when we grow up observing our parents. If they scream and fight, we tend to lose our tempers at the drop of a hat. If they appreciate peace and serenity, we never know chaos and we never choose it later it our lives.

A school just refines our already acquired codes of being gentle, nice and calm. A school only teaches us science and maths. A real education is when you appreciate another life and are grateful to people around you. That is taught by the values we learn from our immediate family and surroundings that we grow up in. So many of us behave like uneducated people when thrown in a situation we dont’ like. We argue, fight and turn the situation ugly!

Being an educated person means you have access to optimal state of mind regardless of the situation you are in.

And that certainly does not need any college degree.

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Things I like about Spring

Cherry Blossoms  Caught & Shot- A&R

Cherry Blossoms
Caught & Shot- A&R

The pleasant weather, the sunny skies, the flowers, the butterflies, lush green trees, the breeze…

There are so many more things about spring! Well I think, it all begins with the festival of colors Holi. Somehow, in my mind I associate Holi with the onset of spring because after winters, that is the day when you can play with water and color.

Spring, back home in Assam, is sunny and breezy at the same time.  As pre- monsoon showers bid goodbye to winters and welcome rainy summers, spring brings the biggest festival of Assam, Bihu. People make merry, dance and shop and visit friends and relatives. Get-togethers are organised and in villages, the sounds of Dhol and flute mark the onset of spring.

This is my second spring in California.  Now the spring blooms can be seen everywhere and the temperature rises to even pleasant degrees. An occasional cloudy and breezy day alternates every second week or so. Its time for Barbeques, picnics, hikes and long drives on the weekends and people could be seen enjoying the season after a not-so-cold winter.

Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, of new life for both plants and animals being born. The term “Spring” is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times.

Indeed, it is the spring of my life as we welcomed our newborn into this amazing world. Hope everyone receives their peace and joy in the spring of this year.

Cheers!

Bihu dance from Assam

Bihu dance from Assam

***I start this gratitude challenge following an inspiration by a fellow blogger Day-9 / week 1 – 52 Weeks of Gratitude | Me and My Random Thoughts by Bikram.

The City I Live In – Week 6

Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley, California)

Though its been only a month that I have arrived here nonetheless I can still do a decent job of writing about my city. This area is known across the world as Silicon Valley. The hub of high technology companies : Silicon Valley is a name given to the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay area of (Northern California’s) Santa Clara Valley. The cities that come under Silicon Valley are Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Hose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale etc and dozens of other cities sprawled across in this valley. The Fortune 1000 companies which have their Headquarters are the likes of Google, eBay, Cisco,Apple Inc, Intel, Netflix, Oracle Inc, Symantec etc.

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

Silicon Valley is the hub for high-tech innovation and development, accounting for one-third of all of the Venture Capital investment in the United States. Stanford University and its  graduates have played a major role in the development of this area.

The population residing in Sunnyvale is of mixed origin, mostly Asian (Indian, Chinese, Japanese etc) It also had Hispanic, Mexican and white people but the percentage as compared to Asians is much lesser. Sunnyvale is in a bit inland of bay area hence its less windy and chilly and as the name suggests ,it has lots of sunshine even in the winter months, which anyways the entire California can boast of always! But a trip to San Francisco , Monterrey, Santa Cruz or any beach side city would put you all wrapped up in layers and Jackets even in the afternoons!

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

There are lots of good restaurants catering to the diverse population of Sunnyvale and that’s a boon for its residents!

Sunnyvale has consistently ranked as one of the safest ten cities in the United States according to the FBI’s crime reports. From 1966 to at least 2004, Sunnyvale never placed below fifth in safety rankings among U.S. cities in its population class.In 2009, Sunnyvale was ranked 7th in U.S. by Forbes Magazine in an analysis of America’s safest cities.(Wikipedia).

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

During my last one month stay, I saw only one Police Officer on his bike. I have not seen any Police cars, Highway Patrol or random police in the downtown of Sunnyvale and this undoubtedly is the best feature of the city.

As of now, I’m enjoying the beauty , weather, food and safety of this wonderful city. Seems to be one of the best that California has and feels like next one year its going to be all the more fun and exploration as our baby joins us soon in Sunnyvale!

Also Sunnyvale will be always special to me for our baby will be born here in a couple of weeks 🙂

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

***I start this gratitude challenge following an inspiration by a fellow blogger Day-9 / week 1 – 52 Weeks of Gratitude | Me and My Random Thoughts by Bikram.

Lighting up on Diwali

Happy Diwali

Happy Diwali

Glorious year two,and I’m celebrating Diwali at home with hubby. He decided to be with with me instead of going back home to be with Mom which was long due actually. The house is being lighted up and lanes of Diyas are put near the threshold of all the doors leading outside. We don’t do firecrackers and its terrible to see the pollution aftermath the very next morning.Continuous firecrackers are also a nuisance to babies, old and sick people alike. Hope we as a society will get rid of this ritual soon!

Diwali back in childhood was of course never without firecrackers. Brother used to wait for day and get loads of them for the evening. I still never liked them at all. Just a few Fuljharis would do for me…other things would startle me every time even if someone else fires them. Evenings would be puja done by mom and then we used to send Thalis of sweets to the neighbors and friends.  I loved this particular ceremony where I would go to each of the neighbor’s house with a plate full of sweets made by mom and wish them Happy Diwali !

Diwali in the northern side of the country is celebrated with festive fervor and its bidding adieu to the summers and welcoming the winters. Some of the main crops of the region are also harvested soon after Diwali so its praying to god for a good harvest too. Basically Diwali is worshiping goddess Lakshmi for prosperity and wealth in all the parts of India. Southern states never seem to celebrate Diwali or have any religious importance for that matter. They would just burn crackers just because its a Hindu festival on the national calender. Strange because this is the most celebrated festival in all parts of India except these states down south. In Bengal, Dussehra (prelude to Diwali) has another form called durga puja, nonetheless its celebrated for all the 9 days like rest of northern and western states. Bengalis also celebrate Diwali like their north Indian counterparts. Some people have pretty wrong notions about other states in India. They are akin to the frogs in the well who never know what is going on in the rest of the world! Its better to read about the ancient Hindu scripts and know about the state cultures to gain some knowledge rather than having cock-eyed views about other religions and states!

The legend says its the celebration of Lord Ram coming back to Ayodhya , his kingdom after defeating the demon , Ravan. So its the victory of good over evil.

Good always persists over the bad. May it be that way and the faith in humanity is restored by the nature always.

Happy Diwali , May it lighten up the darkness of your soul and lead you to truth and prosperity.

Cheers.

Lighted Hearts!

Lighted Hearts!

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