Monday, July 24, 2006

Namaste from India

Namaste from Bangalore, India!

Happy to report we're having a wonderful time here. The weather's a balmy 23-24C during the day and cooler in the evenings. I have been stuffing my face with all the munchies I can lay my hands on like Masala Dosas (Indian crepes), idlis (rice cakes) and vadas (lentil dumplings) and washing them down with ganna (sugarcane) juice. As for the desserts - I'll have to dedicate a whole new post to them I'm afraid!

I've also been attending Yoga classes on a regular basis after having been inspired by a yoga clothing store called "Urban Yoga" (pictures on top). They have the cutest little tank tops with ethnic Indian prints and symbols and the best part about the store is that these cute little lycra t-shirts are priced so economically with most items under $15 (CAD)

As for reading, the most recent one I've finished is titled "Remember Me" by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen and published by Harper Collins. Like its subtitle suggests, it is a lively tour of the rites and rituals surrounding death in America. Clearly, I am old fashioned for I never thought there was more to a funeral in the US than a whole body burial at the cemetry or a cremation, but apparently "green" burials, or turning a loved one's ashes into diamonds and the bizarre practice of modern "mummification" are slowly gaining popularity among Americans who are clearly keen to be more creative with how they mark the death of a loved one. While the subject matter may sound morbid, it is anything but. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen (staff writer for the TIME magazine) has tackled this subject in a very entertaining and informative way giving you a whole new perspective on funerals. Now I wish someone would write a book examining the different ways in which people from all over the world celebrate death - I am sure we can learn a thing or two.

We will be travelling to the palace city of Mysore tomorrow, so more after we return.


Dorothy W. said...

Sounds like a great time! Enjoy!

Bhaswati said...

Sounds like you are having a wonderful trip, Lotus! Great to hear.

The books sounds rather interesting too.

Look forward to more India posts :)

Beloved dreamer said...

Miss you my friend but glad to know you are safe and having a good time.
This book looks like it was made for I will have to read it and take notes.
I will keep checking your blog my dear. Stay safe for the world has turn upside down.
Much love Melanie-bd

Les said...

What a pleasant surprise to see your new blog entry from India! The food sounds delicious and I love the yoga clothes. *Remember Me* sounds fascinating. I agree that we all would benefit from a book about different celebrations of death. I know from personal experience that Americans do not deal with death very well and could learn a lot about how to help those who grieve.

Enjoy your travels.

booklogged said...

Hello, Lotus. So glad to hear that your trip is going great. Love the look of those pants, they look comfortable, cool, stretchy AND cute. What fun to be taking yoga lessons.

I wrote a paper in high school on death customs, so this book intrigues me. I have told my husband repeatedly that I do not want to be buried in an expensive, hermetically sealed casket. I want my remains to nourish the soil organisms, so this 'green' burial interests me. Thanks for the review.

Hope your trip continues to be fun and safe. The food sounds wonderful

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks to everyone for your lovely comments. Will respond to each individually when I return from Mysore. I miss you all and really miss checking your blogs. I hope to be able to spend some time reading them when I return.

See you all soon!

Susan Abraham said...

How I envy you dearest Lotus...and especially with regards to all that heavenly food you just mentioned. And the colour and buzz that go with the atmospheric flavour. I miss you.

J said...

I didn't expect to find a new post...yay! My husband and I have been kind of talking about funerals lately...just wondering what our parents will want when the time comes, etc. I'm thinking of getting this book. Thanks for the review!

Hope you love the rest of your Indian vacation!

Shashikiran said...

Mysore is my birthplace. I turned nostalgic reading your entry, rushed back to my blog, scribbled a post and came back to write this comment.

Mysore has grown, but the heart of the city is still the charming town it has always been. Enjoy.

sasgirl said...

Missing you lots Lotus!

So good to hear from you and glad to hear you're enjoying your trip. Can't wait to see your trip pictures! Now I'm suffering from trip envy as before you were when I went to Paris. :)

Say hi to your girls and your husband for me!

Angela in Europe said...

Glad you are having a good time! Wish I could take yoga there!

Guinness_Girl said...

Yay! It sounds like you're having a wonderful time!

Happy and safe travels to you!

hellomelissa said...

i miss you!!!!! but it sounds as if you are having a grand adventure and loads of the comforts of home. can't wait to hear about mysore.

Rosemary Esehagu said...

Hello, Lotus.

I wish I could be you right now. As you know, I look forward to the day that I’ll be able to visit India for an extended period. Don’t forget to take pictures, a lot of pictures.

About funerals: In my parents' village, there is a traditional 7-day celebration of the dead person's life. I don't remember my grandfather; I didn't have the chance to know him, but I remember and know him through those seven days of eating, dancing, singing, and "traditional crying" about his life. My memory of him solidly rests on those days when waves of people proclaimed what a great life he had been.

If a family is poor, the saddest thing (besides the death of the family member) is the knowledge that this person's life (because of lack of money) cannot be properly commemorated. It is not unusual for people to conduct the traditional celebration long (sometimes even years) after the person’s death. It is almost as if a person’s life (and death) is not complete without the celebration.

paris parfait said...

Glad you're having a wonderful time! As for the funeral rituals, every nation/tribe/religion has its own unique rituals, some stranger than others. The books sounds interesting.

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks, Dorothy, Bhaswati and Beloved! It is a great book, indeed; thank for your comments. Bhaswati, when is your novel due out? I can't wait to read it!

Hello, Les!

Lovely of you to leave me a comment. Yes, I often wonder if death would lose its sting if we as a culture chose to celebrate it, rather than treat it so solemnly. At the same time, grieving is such an essential part of the process...

Lotus Reads said...

Hello, booklogged!

I'm with you - I'd want to have a green burial, too. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but hopefully it won't cost a bomb. Some of the rates being put forward by funeral homes for regular funerals today are really quite scary.

Your paper on death customs must make for fascinating reading. I was reading about the the funeral rites of some of the Torajan people in Sulawesi,Indonesia - they are so elaborate, not too different from a wedding.

I miss you too, dearest Susan! How I wish I could visit you in Malaysia. Alas, with the tsunami warnings I have had to cancel my trip to Bali. I was so looking forward to flying via Kuala Lumpur and meeting you in transit.

Hi, j!

How good of you to stop here. Yes, I know what you mean. My husband's father just passed away (it's been a month) and we often find ourselves wondering if he would have been pleased with the funeral we gave him. It's hard to know for most people are very uncomfortable with discussing their funeral arrangements while alive, atleast in our culture (East Indian) I find it to be so.

Hello, ShashiKiran!

Mysore was soooo lovely! I wouldn't mind living there permenantly - seriously. Can't wait to read your entry, will roller blade there as soon as I am done here.

Hello there, sasgirl ! So happy to see you here. I'm afraid I have a crippled camera and my pictures are not going to be anything like the kind you and T. take, but I'll post what I have. Miss you LOTS!

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks gg, Melissa and Angela! Yes, I'm having a fantastic trip! Angela, I can't wait to read all about your time in Prague. Next year I would like to travel around Europe so your blog will be an invaluable guide! Keep posting! I miss you, too, Melissa, hope you're having a great time in Michigan with your folks!

Rosemary! Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing this beautiful African death ritual with us. We are sometimes so focused on arranging for the funeral of a loved one that our focus seems to be on the demise, rather than on the life, of the person. A ritual like this rearranges the focus to where it should be. So glad you shared this!

Hello, parisparfait! I miss reading your posts on a regular basis. Thanks for stopping by. Speaking of unique rituals, the Parsi community in India place their dead in an open area known as the "tower of silence" where the body is devoured by vultures. According to them, this is the most hygenic way of disposing of the body. However, I've heard that recently they've had to resort to solar power to help hasten the decomposition as there are no longer enough vultures in Mumbai.