Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Navarathri (Nine Nights)

Apparently, Navarathri is celebrated four times a year and there are various forms of Navarathri celebrations (about five, according to Wikipedia), with the most important being Sharana Navarathri. In essence, Navarathri is a celebration of the Goddess Durga.

Previously, mention of Navarathri would bring to mind sis' Odissi performance at Sutra, which according to her, are now not being performed due to complaints from neighbours. Goes to show that even though you may have a nice setting and stage built into your bungalow compound, the neighbours may still call you out on making a racket. It's a pity. I like that stage. And the setting.

The hosts: Bhagarv and Bela

So last Saturday, we were invited to a Gujerati celebration of Navarathri at the Singapore Swimming Club. Of course, first question I asked hubby was, "Do I wear my saree?" And of course, he replied no. But he had his Punjabi top and we were off.

Right, when we got there I was probably the only one not in traditional garb. Sarees all over the place except for me. Man, did I ever feel underdressed. Score one for hubby. And we were probably the only non-Indians around (although technically, I was probably the only non-Indian around as hubby has Indian blood somewhere along his bloodline).

No matter, we were there to join in the festivities. And boy, were there festivities. The function hall was a mass of bodies. The music was blasting and the bass was pounding. And there was colour everywhere. A shrine to the Goddess Durga was placed in a corner of the room and everyone was on the floor, dancing the Dandiya-Raas.

In Gujerat, Navarathri is celebrated by dancing the Garba and the Dandiya-Raas. Garba is performed in a circle as a symbol of the Hindu view of time. The rings of dancers revolve in cycles. The dance symbolizes that God, represented in feminine form in this case, is the only thing that remains unchanging in a constantly changing universe (jagat). In Dandiya Raas men and women dance in two circles, with sticks in their hands. "Dandiya" or sticks, are about 18" long. Each dancer holds two sticks. Generally, in a four beat rhythm, opposite sides hit the sticks at the same time. One circle goes clockwise and another counter clockwise. 

We got to try our hands at the Dandiya-Raas. It's not as easy as it sounds; there's a pattern and sequence to the four beat rhythm. I managed not to get my fingers bruised but I think I may have bruised some fingers myself.

Sticking out like a sore thumb

And then of course, after the dancing, there's the ubiquitous line for food. Our hosts, Bhagarv and Bela took care of that and we had some vegetarian Indian burgers (there's a name for that but I can't remember) and authentic Indian tea.

We left around 10:30pm but the dancing actually lasts till 3am. The Gujeratis sure know how to enjoy their Navarathri. And put on an awesome party.

Being Creative

Small fry not only loves singing and talking to herself, some of her more creative pursuits include finger hand painting and stickers. Who needs a sticker book when her face will do?


Not quite enough stickers on my face.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another Bag

I finally finished the bag that I wanted to make for a friend. It's supposed to be a hold-all. The original design in the book was actually just a plain bag with embellishments  only at the handles and in the bias binding of the pockets. I decided, to heck with boring bags. So I spiced it up. Ribbon, trim, rick-rack, bursts of colour everywhere, taking a cue from my El Porto. 

I like it, it's not bad. But shape-wise, I still prefer my El Porto. Because the base of this bag is square, it actually hangs down a bit if too much is put in it. The original pattern called for a plastic grid and little feet on the base. I couldn't find either and was running out of time. So I went without.

Oh well, it's the thought that counts, isn't it?

Another Exciting Series

Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero rocks!

Not only does he take us back to Camp Half Blood, he introduces the Roman aspects of the Greek Gods. How awesome is that?!

When I reached the end of the book, I couldn't believe how excited I was becoming as he tied several possible plots together and all of it was going berserk in my head. There are a number of ways he could spin this and I can't wait for the next book.


Engaging Her Playmates

Small fry has playmates at our condo complex. They're all older than her. The youngest is six.

Most days she runs around the place with Troy, the six year-old. They play catch, hide-and-seek or other manner of games that kids their age play.

One day, Troy wanted a game of hide-and-seek. For some reason only known to her, small fry was in no mood for hide-and-seek. She ignored all Troy's attempts at playing. He asked nicely, tried cajoling and in the end, went for all-out crying and stamping his foot.

"Sophia! Play hide-and-seek! Sophia! Play with me!" while bawling and stamping his feet.

Small fry coolly ignored poor Troy and told Jona she wanted to come back upstairs.

I guess that was that. So much for a productive play session.

My three year-old reduced a six year-old to a sniveling mess. God help us all when she discovers her feminine wiles.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Strange Angels Kicks Ass!

OK, I must admit: I HATE Twilight. No, I started out loving it (just the first book) and then when I went back and reread it, I hated it.

I hate how mushy it is: Edward + Bella = major gag factor.

I hate what a complete bungling useless damsel in distress Bella is.

I hate the way the darned 'love triangle' is played out. Sam (werewoll) + Bella (human) + Edward (vampire). Makes Bella looks like an indecisive bitch.

I hate how noble Edward seems.

I hate the later plots; the story just gets weirder and weirder.

So after reading the series (shamed to say, I actually have all four books; I should just burn them or give them away), I went all out in search of other similarly themed books but with heroines who could kick ass because Bella just makes me want to slap her silly (though how much sillier and dumber she can get, I dunno).

I found other heroines who rose up to the task of kicking ass but I think none kick ass as well as Lili St. Crow's Dru Anderson. If you haven't read St. Crow's Strange Angels, go pick it up NOW. There's a heady mix of werwulfen, loup-garou, djamphir, nosferatu, magic and ammo, romance and angst (not the icky skin crawling, gag-reflex inducing Bella/Sam/Edward kind), suspense with some delightful Russian (Polish? East European?) endearments thrown in.

Dru's no Bella, thank gawd!  She's got her issues but next to Bella, her issues look way more realistic and one can at least empathise with her. And she KICKS ASS! Not just with ammo but with the touch as well. I just want to slap Bella upside on the head for being indecisive and wishy-washy. Oh, did I mention useless? Never met a more useless human being to appear in a book.

And Christophe? Aaaaaahh...he makes Edward look like a young pansy of a flower. Now THAT'S a MAN, or rather, djamphir. The foreign endearments help (moj maly ptaszku, moja ksiezniczko, etc.), the slight accent too. You could learn a thing or two from Christophe, Edward. Maybe like, not saving Bella's ass all the time. Girl's gotta learn to stand on her own two feet.

How can I not like a book which has a half-Asian Goth boy as the other leading man? In fact, Graves started out seemingly as somewhat of a doughboy but wow, did he turn out to be the most awesome, kick-ass, and dependable loup-garou. Score one for the Asian leading man!

The series is currently at book three and keeps getting better with each book. Sigh, and now I have to wait for the next book in the installment, Defiance, to find out what happens to all three of them. Sigh...more waiting.

In the meantime, those phrases are sticking in my head...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Straight From The Horse's Mouth

I'm constantly reminding myself and remarking to the small fry that she has too many toys and that we are not getting her any more. Her toys litter the living room, take up half the closet space in the guest room and occupies many corners and walls around the apartment.

While shopping for her friend's birthday present at Toys R Us today, small fry came upon some hula hoops and promptly took one down off the hook and started playing with it. Or rather, she tried to shake her booty while hanging on to a much-too-large-for-her hoop.

I spied her in action and got daddy to look. He then said that maybe we should get her one. I wondered aloud which one to get. 

Overhearing us, small fry quipped, "I have too many toys, Mummy!" and dutifully put the hoop back. 

Looks like the child is reminding the parents about their resolve. 

Note to self: remember what you keep telling yourself. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Gimme Some Love

Tonight, on our first night back in Singapore, I was told that while I was out attending a concert, a certain brown cow got into bed with small fry.

That's a first. Not only did he get into bed with her, he stayed at her feet till she was asleep. Then promptly went up to her face and sniffed her, his whiskers tickling her awake.

To her credit, small fry resisted the urge to bully fatty, instead taking it all in stride and giggled happily.

I guess brown cow and small fry are starting a new phase in their relationship.

A Ride In The Clouds

On our way back to Singapore from Subang, the ATR 500 turboprop aircraft sailed over a pocket of air and we felt a little pull of gravity like we'd just gone over a speed bump.

Small fry giggles and says, "Ooh, Mummy. That tickles!"

We hit another air pocket and my stomach drops again. 

Laughter from the small fry, "Another tickle!". Giggles.

Small fry's take on flight turbulence makes us adults look boringly prosaic by comparison.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Harassing The Cat

Don't be fooled. She looks like she's being tender towards the brown cow. But it's all for show. The cheeky grin on her face says it all: she just loves harassing the boy. He just takes it like a punching bag. I keep telling him to grow some claws and fight back. I tell her that he can only take so much and one day, she'll experience those claws. But they both ignore me. And so it continues...

My cat, my pillow.
Enduring the 'loving'.

My World For A Brown Cow

In general, small fry and the brown cows get along well enough. Especially when she's not trying to take him out by thumping her fists on his back or yelling at him just so that he'll leave the couch.

Pixel may be fat and somewhat stupid but he's fiercely loyal and will let the small fry do almost anything to him. So far, he hasn't extended a claw or tooth in her direction yet.

Small fry greets brown cow. Don't let the claws fool you. He's a softie.
"Even though you torture me to death, I still love you."

"If I bounce hard enough, he'll be my horsey?"

Moments like these make my day.
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