Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mainland China in Indiranagar, Bangalore

Food: ★★★★★
Ambience: ★★★★★
Service: ★★★☆☆
I was so happy to find this restaurant. Went there twice already, and each time the food was just wonderful. I can especially dig into their dim sum. The soup is good, but the second time I went there, the stock smelled a little bit (well, my nose is ultra sensitive, so it probably is not a big issue for most people) probably from boiling a little bit too much.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Experiencing Puja

Two weeks have passed since we moved into our new home. Although we love the house, there was a lot to fix, and I especially always felt a somewhat unsettled "ki" in this house. So, when my hubby suggested a ceremony of Puja, I agreed immediately.

Puja is a religious ritual of Hindus. Okay, we are not Hindus, but the religion here seems to be more accepting towards someone like me, who does not believe in a particular god. The priest who came to do the ceremony even told us that all gods merge into one, just like all water from many places merge into the sea. I like the concept.

So, this past Sunday, we did it. We got up fairly early and cleaned the house, but it was my hubby's colleague and his wife who really organized everything. They got us a statue of Ganesh, a little platform on which to place Ganesh, and a set of containers that included powders (Turmeric and Sindoor) and rice (colored with Turmeric and Sindoor) used for decoration. They even brought some flowers to decorate the door frames, etc. It was just amazing to see how quickly they made our house Puja-ready.

The priest arrived, quickly took off his shirt (in our living room!) and wrapped a red linen around himself, and boom he was ready for the ceremony.

He sat down and started to prepare the stage for the Puja. He placed a red cloth, poured a whole bunch of rice onto it, placed a golden vase on top of it, then started to place 9 pouches of grains which represent the nine planets around the vase (on the rice), and finally on top of the golden vase, a hairy coconut was placed. The coconut and vase became as if they were together. The priest decorated them with flowers upon flowers and surrounded them with a nice looking piece of white linen. And there it is, a wonderfully gorgeous tribute (to Ganesh?)!

We gathered around the altar, and the priest started the ceremony. Unlike the familiar Japanese Buddhist priests that I have known, his chanting sounded more cheerful and upbeat. He kept offering the rice and flowers to the coconut statue (by lightly throwing them) while he chanted, and so did we.

The ceremony finished successfully with the interpretation by my hubby's colleague and his wife (thank you!!). The priest drew an "OM" sign above our entrance door (which looked like it had a smiley at the top), and we all went downstairs with another hairy coconut to complete our ceremony.

My hubby's colleague lit the solid camphor fuel placed on top of the coconut. Yes, the poor coconut was on fire! Then, BANG!  He smashed the coconut really hard on the ground. They told us that would get rid of all the bad karma. They also told us they do this ritual before they go on a long trip.

Guess how I felt afterwards?  WONDERFUL!
And, thank you to my hubby's colleague and his family to be there with us. It was such a great experience that you gave us!

# Although I have already posted the entry about this topic in my Japanese blog (well the content is a bit different), I wanted to share this great experience in English as well. Sorry for the duplicate!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why is the northern side sunnier in Bangalore??

Ever since I started to look for an apartment, I was wondering.....Wondering WHY the north side is always sunnier than the south side. Typically when we look for an apartment in the US or Japan, we always wish for the "southern exposure." Here, however, I noticed that the agent always mentioned the "eastern" exposure and how wonderful that was.

After moving into this house, too, I realized that there are more windows on the north and east side. And, the sun typically comes in from the east and north side and not from the south side.

Yesterday as I was talking about it over lunch with a Japanese lady that I met, she gave me a clue! Yes, the answer was the tropic of cancer (a.k.a. the northern tropic). I  remembered immediately what I learned about the tropic of cancer when I was a kid. It is the most northern position sun may appear directly above, which happens at the time of the June solstice (on June 21st for this year!). Since Bangalore is located south of the tropic of cancer and since we are getting closer to June 21st, we were getting more sun from the north side. Furthermore, since Bangalore is in between the tropic of cancer and equator, it means we won't get too much sun into our house at any time, as the sun pretty much move above us.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garbage Collection in Bangalore

When we were living in a hotel, I saw a kind of large rickshaw-like vehicle gathering the garbage. I assumed they were like the paper boy that I saw on the street, meaning on-demand service guys that you have to call up individually.

After moving into our house, I didn't know what to do with the garbage. I didn't want to leave it randomly on the street, but didn't want to keep it in our house either (believe me with the heat we have here, it produces very bad odor in a very short period of time). So, I ended up leaving the garbage in our driveway for a couple of days until I figured out how to get rid of them. On Monday, I asked our driver if he knew the best way to take care of our garbage, and he told me that we can simply leave it outside of our house on the street and that a garbage car will come and pick it up every morning.

Really?! I asked him whether we needed to pay money for the service, and he said "no, ma-am, it is BBMP, the government garbage car, that comes and collects the garbage every morning."

I never expected to hear the "government" word associated with the garbage. Apparently the rickshaw-like vehicle I saw in front of our hotel was a BBMP vehicle. Shocking, but I was also pleased to find that the government was trying to do something to build up the infrastructure to solve the garbage problem, since that's the first thing you would notice here in India. Basically you see garbage ALL OVER the place in this town (and probably in other towns in India as well).

Ever since then, every morning someone has been taking our garbage. Thanks garbageman! However, as I was doing some research on BBMP, I found this article. It seems like there is huge room for improvement at BBMP. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Amul and The White Revolution in India

The first brand that I noticed right after coming here was the butter called Amul. The hotel where we were staying had a complementary breakfast, and there it was in a cute package with a cute girl on it. It immediately caught my attention.

Did you know that India is one of the largest producer of milk and milk products in the world? Yep, there are lots of cows walking down the street everywhere. No, no, that's not the reason. It was because of The White Revolution in India (a.k.a. Operation Flood).

Amul, which apparently stands for Anand Milk Union Limited, based in Anand (obviously), was formed in 1946. It is the largest food brand in India now, and its success was pretty much backed up by The White Revolution.

Patel and Gandhi in 1940
(photo from Wikimedia Commons) 
Here is the short story of The White Revolution. Back in 1940's, there was an unfair and monopolized trading of milk by Polson Daily in Anand. So, the angered farmers led by Tribhuvandas Patel went to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (a.k.a. "Iron man of India"), who became Deputy Prime Minister of India and was the last person to have a private talk with Gandhi before he was assassinated. Anyway, it was Sardar Patel who advised the farmers and Tribhuvandas Patel to form a Cooperative and supply milk directly to the Bombay Milk Scheme instead of selling it to Polson who took a huge margin leaving little money to the farmers. He had Morarji Desai, who later became the prime minister of India, organize the farmers. And the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union was formed. The success of the dairy co-operative movement spread rapidly in the surrounding regions, and soon after five other unions were organized. In order to combine forces and expand the market and to avoid the situation of competing against each other,  an apex marketing body of dairy cooperative unions called the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) was formed in 1973. Amul, the brand the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union had established back in 1955, was handed over tto GCMMF (AMUL).

Anyway, Amul seems to have a very interesting three-tier operation model: 1) village level (milk collection), 2) district level (milk procurement & processing), and 3) state level (product and marketing).  And, it was also made into a movie called Manthan in 1976. Amul is not just a butter company, it carries the Indian history. Truely amazing story!

Btw, the cartoon character of a cute girl that caught my eyes immediately is called "Amul Baby." She has been a mascot character for Amul since 1966!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Passing the one month mark

So, it has been exactly a month since we arrived in Bangalore. It has been an amazing month. We finally got an apartment (well, it is an independent house turned into a duplex) this past weekend, and we are ready to settle down completely :-)

So... here are some things one month of being here has taught me:

1. Don't get excited whenever you see cows on the street --- Right...I realized by now that the cows are everywhere. BUT, I still like the sight of them, especially when they are walking like kings in the middle of a big street with lots of cars :-)

2. Smile even if the guy in front of you looks scary --- Some of the Indian men look rather stern at first, but they are fundamentally really nice guys. Just smile and they will smile back turning themselves into adorable boys :-)

3. Let go of certain things and just enjoy the moment you are living in --- This is exactly the 'zen' philosophy, which was originated from Bodhidharma (said to be born in southern India). 'Zen' has been close to my unfaithful and unstructured philosophy of mine, and the life here actually reminds me of the philosophy just like it does in Japan unlike the lives in the US or in Europe.

4. Get to the bottom of your discussion topic --- The tactic that some Indian folks use is to fuzzy up the conversation so that the end result would be very vague. It is a beauty in some cases, but not in others. If you judged it was latter, steer the conversation so that you can stick to what you wanted to discuss and conclude.

5. Make sure you have enough cash --- India still is a very cash-oriented country. Plus you need small change if you are planning to take a rickshaw.

6. Make sure to apply insect protection before you go out --- Boy, I got bitten so much at first. The worst thing is I have some kind of terrible reaction to the bites, and they get swollen. One time my hand was like a cooking mitten.

7. Don't put on foundation but just apply sunscreen --- It is so humid that the foundation will run off. 

Oh only seven! I am sure the list will expand as time goes by, and I hope so since I really want to dig into this culture, which was the origin of so many others.

# btw, if you want to amuse yourself with google translate quality, you may want to check out my Japanese blog as well: http://indowaindo.blogspot.com/