Tuesday, Aug 22nd

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Indian Themed Table Decor

Decorating your dining table according to a theme not only creates an ambience but also makes eating with family and friends a relaxing and memorable experience. So if you inviting friends or just having dinner with family, doing small changes to the decor of the table can change your mood...

Recently I had some friends over for a Indian dinner. Obviously, the table decor had an Indian theme. I had asked my guests to wear something Indian. I searched my house for the stuff that I can use to decorate according to the theme.

To drape my table I used one of my never used dupatta. Wikipedia calls it a long multi purpose scarf for some reason right :) Well…..now it is assigned to work as a table cloth forever. I love its color and the golden embroidered border.

As the centerpiece I used a wooden round tray with a big fragrant candle and some pebbles in it. I coiled a lotus flower and its leaf around the candle. Lined up some diyas (Indian style candles) in the center.

I used silk golden placemats. For the men I kept a clay leaf made by me sometime back and for the ladies I used a lotus candle. 

Polished the crystal and the cutlery till I could see my face in it….hahaha. Warmed up the curries and the bread...and talked, wined, laughed and we didn't even know when the evening ended!


Purnima is a fun loving, laid back person who writes a creative Blog to document, share and inspire others. She posts her creative projects, tutorials, table decor and travel stories on her Blog @ http://acreativeproject.blogspot.com



Indian Themed Table Decor

Chak De India - Reel to Real

Chuk de India Reel to Real

I still remember reading about a movie called Chak De India which was to be made starring the self proclaimed Badshah of Bollywood (ok ok Shah Rukh fans don't get your fangs out for me!) and the subject was on Indian Hockey women's team. I turned to my husband and said," This movie sounds like FLOP" and he said " Why? What's wrong with SRK trying to take on a different subject?" I thought to myself- no lead actress to speak of, subject matter is Indian Women's Hockey team.....hmmm...... still sounds like a FLOP. Now, I don't mean to be disrespectful towards any sports, especially hockey, which I have played since 1987 and went on till about 2002 having represented my school, college, University, district and National levels in those years. I truly love the game and think that playing hockey helped shape my personality in more ways than one. I continue to remember my playing days with much fondness even now and will do so for the years to come.


Anyways, for those who have not watched it, the movie is about the struggles that a coach (himself an ex-India player who was framed and shamed with match-fixing) faces when he takes on the brave task of coaching the Indian Women's Hockey team and how they ultimately triumph. Folks, that movie really hit home........i could literally walk down memory lane and identify with everything happening in the movie.......how girls from different parts of the country come together, their different cultures/traditions, ego clashes, biases, groupism within the team which ultimately gets played out onto the field.....it was as though I was watching myself 10-15 years ago on the big screen!

I have learnt so much from hockey.....not just about how to pass and dribble the ball, but about life too. I know a lot of you may read this and arch your eyebrow up in skepticism.....hockey and lessons for life?? Doesn't add up, you may think, but it does. Team sports, like hockey, teach you team approach, team spirit, how to deal with difficult team members, how to handle difficult egos, difficult situations......Does all of this sound familiar in your work settings?? It definitely does sound in mine! For me playing a team sport instilled in me a sense of team spirit and team work that has even helped me in my professional life as a Physical Therapist. All of us in the field of Rehabilitation work together for the betterment of the patient. In here, too, there is the usual upmanship between the physical, occupational and speech therapists but it helps to remember that we all need to keep our egos aside and see what is better for the patient. Same goes for hockey....How much ever you cannot get along with a team mate, you have to swallow your pride and ego and pass her the ball if that is the correct thing to do in the match....those who have not played a team sport may read my article and think what the big deal is, but when you are playing with someone you don't like and have to make sacrifices on the field for that person in the interest of the team........boy, is that HARD or what! And this is where I relate so much to the movie Chak De.......I was watching that movie and it felt surreal. Folks, it's all real and I have experienced it first hand and it has been captured beautifully in the film. I could go on and on about my experiences and the politics that prevail even at school level (!!), but i need to restrict myself and so I am going to touch up upon a few things that i feel will make interesting reading.

When we played University level, we used to get paid rupees 50 everyday to manage all our daily meals in that amount!! Yup! A dollar a day to fill up your tummy. Sounds melodramatic and some may say that in those days the value of 50 rupees was a whole lot. But, no......when you actually have only 50 bucks in your hands, in a new city and you are 15-16 years old, that money is really not that much. I remember how the great Pargat Singh had once lamented to the journalists about the same. He said that when the Indian Team went abroad, the players would get very little money on a daily basis and had to manage their meals and shopping in that versus the obscene amounts of money that our cricketeers get paid. He had also said how bad some of the living arrangements were. I remember how 16 of us used to be literally squished into one classroom (yes, you read it right, our staying arrangements were made in a school classroom whenever the
team travelled out of town) . During my first ever trip out to Kolhapur, we were all given one classroom to sleep in andthe toilets were outside. The less said about the conditions of the toilets the better!! Smelly, yucky, unclean....... But one learns to compromise, survive and accept. As time went on and as I made several more such trips, the living conditions never even mattered. All that really mattered was how well we, as a team, fared in the matches. I vividly remember travelling to Chandigarh from Poona which must have been a day journey and being confined to the topmost berth of second class train with three other team mates and being able to come down only to use the toilet!! Also fondly remember our bumpy bus ride of 5 plus hours with all 16 of us standing because no one made our reservations!

The up side to all this? I think none of my team mates will ever forget the Antakshari that we used to play (antakshari is forming two teams and singing songs in a sort of competitive way) at the top of our lungs even when confined to the topmost berth for 24 hours, or the new friends that we made or the new places that we got to visit or the way we got out of the train at all wee hour stops just to have a sip of hot tea and eat the most delicious of omletes made in some of the most questionable hygenic situations!! Man, that omlete still has a taste in my mouth!

I always wonder how my experience would have been had I continued with the sport as a profession......maybe played for India. But I shudder at the thought.....playing a National in Chandigarh exposed me to the dirty politics that goes on within any sport. I guess when you have a group of humans the inevitable is politics!! I wonder if that ever happens within a pack or herd of animals?! In the end I would like to pray to the politicians to not kill the spirit of the game in their mindless quest to make more money. Hockey is supposed to be the National game of India having won Olympic Gold medals decades ago and we need to encourage more and more youngsters to come forward and play. I know a medal for the hockey team in 2012 in the London Olympics sounds too ambitious, but maybe 2016??

Chak De India - Reel to Real

Water crisis in India

Bhopal Bada TalabI visited Bhopal because my husband’s relatives lived there and my in laws were planning to settle there after retirement. My image of Bhopal was the images from “Bhopal gas tragedy” when the Union Carbide plant released 40 tones of toxic gas Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) exposing 500,000 people and eventually killing 25,000.

I underestimated the beauty of Bhoj Nagari or more recently the city of Nawab Pataudi. Bhopal is a beautiful city. On my first visit to Bhopal, I was taken in by the beauty of “city of lakes”. Amongst the numerous lakes, the Bada Talab or the upper lake of the Bhoj wetland and the “Chota Talab” are the most notable.

The Bada Talab is very popular destination for recreation on a Sunday evening. Rental boats are available for a small ride in the lake. There is usually plenty of water in the lake and the small island in the lake can be reached by boat.

This visit, my father in law was complaining about the water scarcity. We went to our customary visit of “Bada Talab”. The water was low. The small sand bar leading to the island lay exposed. People could now walk over to the island instead of the pleasant boat ride. There was a lot of litter by the shore. There were fewer boats in the lake. Bada Talab looked unkempt.

Chota Talab had a similar story. The water was low. The Govt. was dredging and deepening the lakes to hold more water during rainy season.

In the meanwhile, residents have fewer water supplies. One option is to get the “tanker’. The water tanker fills in the water tanks in the house for a charge. There was a time when we drank water straight out of tap. No more. Everyone seems to have aquaguard or some other form of filtration system in the house. It seems like no one trusts the quality of the water.

People feel the water crisis and I can see new vocations coming out of this crisis. The tanker business of course is the obvious one. I saw multiple expert “water conservationist” consultants. The MP Government and the local governing bodies of Bhopal are taking steps. They now insist on having rain water conservation in place for the newly built large building complexes. A massive public awareness campaign was footed for tilak holi (not just dry holi). The campaign did have its effect. Only the kids played wet holi and the adults actually played the tilak holi.

Conserve the natural resources. All the digital age technology may not be sufficient to meet the most basic need “water”. Who knows the next world war may be fought to control water resource?

Water crisis in India

Service in India

India has become the outsourcing destination of Business Process and Software development. Apart from the obvious consequence of more jobs, an expanded middle class and upper middle class, I found a total shift in the service level from past. This is apparent from the moment you land at the airport. People come rushing to help with the luggage. Of course there is an expectation to get paid, but I like the fact they don’t negotiate the pay before the service. You can politely refuse their help and they back off. At the security check, there is always someone who will load those 25 kg bags (thanks to the airlines’ strict new enforcement of the luggage weight limit). Same goes with the taxi driver who will load and unload the luggage.

The service level at the banks is completely changed too. Gone are the days when you spent a good part of your day standing in line to get any work done at the bank unless you had the right relations. Now you just walk in and sit at the desk. I don’t know what to call the young faces that man these desks, the bank specialist, may be. But you know who I am referring to. These are the young men and women barely out of college with good communications skills who sit on the other side of the counters. Don’t have all the necessary papers, no problem. Give them the direction to your house and they will come to your house to complete the transaction. Are you interested in any other products the bank has to offer? Well, let’s have an appointment at your house. I was completely dumbfounded at this level of service.

I went to a couple of well maintained parks. The rules of the park are posted at a number of locations. The watchman and the maintenance personnel make sure the rules are followed. If you want to ignore the rules, they will remind you of them very politely. There is a garbage truck that comes every morning to collect the garbage. No more Babulal to collect the garbage. The garbage collectors have a uniform and wear gloves. There is specific spot where they expect the garbage bin to be; else the garbage will not be collected.

Pizza Hut in India is a nice sit down and order place. There are some flavors that are not available here. Most sit down dinner places have live entertainment. The food is delicious and spicier than what the Indian restaurants serve here in US. You can trust the water at the good restaurants. I miss the chaat and gol guppe (paani poori) and am always afraid for my stomach to try the thelawalas. But no worry, Haldiram outlets or some nicer joints now have the “no dip” version of paani poori. They advertise the water to be from aqua guard and it churns in a bin like the slushies. The water is collected from a tap in a disposable glass and the pooris with the water are served to you. I was the only brave soul who tried it with no consequences what so ever to my stomach.

I enjoy the small strides India is making in the right direction!

Service in India

Tennis: US Open 2010

I can't believe another year has gone by and the US Open is only one week away. This year the stories are mouth watering and the expectations from some players are unbelievable. The top field is full of hard court specialists with tremendous power and ability to win in this surface.

Let's start with Number 1. Is Rafa Nadal capable of winning the US Open? Hard Court is definitely not his forte, but if you ask me, he has the game, he has the mind and in this moment of his career he wants it probably more than anybody else out there. Sum up all these elements and it's difficult to go against him. The rest of the field, especially the next Top 3 have a lot to say about his chances. Is he up to it, let's see.

The first one with a saying is without a doubt Roger Federer. It always amazes me how the press is always ready to push him down and start telling stories about his demise. Roger cannot be discounted, especially in his beloved Flushing Meadows, where apart from the 5-set battle loss against Juan Martin del Potro last year, he has been the reigning champion for the last 5 years, and as proven last month, he still has the desired and power to face the toughest opponents, ask Marty Fish in last week's Cincinnati finals where Roger claimed his 17th Masters Win.

What about Novak Djokovic, this kid is truly amazing, he has a powerful game and the strength and tactics to go against anybody in the field, but lately his mind is not at 100%. He lets his emotions rule in the court and that is always a losing proposition. In the last three years he has reached at least the last 4 at the US Open, and if it wasn't for Roger Federer he might already have at least 1 US Open under his belt. He has won a Grand Slam, so he definitely knows what it takes. Let's hope he wants it as much and put's his whole mind to it.

Andy Murray is definitely one of the most intriguing stories out there. The world of tennis is still perplexed he hasn't won a Grand Slam. His display in Toronto at the Rogers Masters this year was a clear example of his capabilities by defeating Roger and Rafa in straight sets. If he can put together 7 matches in the same way, we might be writing in two weeks about a new Grand Slam Champion. His success at the Open is not going to be about game, it is going to be about mind. His ability to remain aggressive is something against his nature, he needs to overcome that and win moving forward. Let's wait and see what he has prepared for us.

I do envision this year is going to be extremely competitive and would not be surprised to see major upsets in the first week. In NY, you should always talk Andy Roddick, He is due another great event, his setback last week against Fish should get him prepared for battle. Also, there are three possible dark horses that could prevent the Top 4 to come through. Robin Soderling, Thomas Berdych and Ernest Gulbis might have a thing to say about winning the US Open. They are 100% hard court experts, with great power and ability to counter any top player. Robin and Thomas have already experienced success in Grand Slam this year, both are runner ups to Nadal in Roland Garros and Wimbledon respectively. But if the situation were to repeat and Nadal were to face them on the last Sunday, something tells me the story is going to be reversed.

In all, this 2010 US Open promises to be a big exhilarating adventure with full of drama and magic. Can't wait to see it, and my prediction is Roger wins his 17th Grand Slam and 6th US Open!!!

Tennis: US Open 2010

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