Monthly Archives: October 2012

TRAVELLING to INDIA

Enigmatic! Mystical! Soul stirring! The array of emotions is overwhelming and so is the list of travel destinations in India. Taj Mahal in Agra; Khajauraho Temple of the Kama Sutra fame in Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh; Thar Desert in Rajasthan; Darjeeling Hill Station in West Bengal; Red Fort in Delhi; Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras), Uttar Pradesh; Elephanta Caves, 9 km away from Mumbai; stunning beaches like Palolem in Goa; Akshar Dham in Delhi; Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon, Delhi; Jog Falls in Sagara, Karnataka and not to mention the back waters of Kerala. The topography is diverse starting with the snow bathed Himalayas to sun drenched beaches, serene temples to boisterous bazaars, lantern-lit villages to software-savvy hubs.

While planning your trip the absolute tip is to be mindful of the weather. Clothing is best bought India. It is cheap and suits the climate and conditions. Shopping on the first day! All you should pre-purchase are bare minimums like sunscreen, a nice pair of walking shoes and a hat. Checking on the vaccination requirements with your GP will be detrimental. Food and water borne diseases are a threat. Purified or carbonated water is a good option! What about the culinary delights? All the frying, simmering, sizzling, kneading and flipping is certainly one hell of a mouth-watering ride. Wherever possible, make sure it is straight from the pan to your plate. Fresh and hot food will assure minimal chances of food contamination. So stack on to that cash/credit card/travellers’ cheques, get your visa stamped and get ready to be shaken, stirred and jolted.

One moment you will be inspired, just to turn around and be frustrated at the heavily disorganized-depending-on-God traffic, thrilled instantaneously at the whizz of the auto rickshaw, only to be confounded at the immense poverty stricken yet smiling faces. The spectrum of encounters for the traveller is mind boggling. Even experienced travellers find India a challenge at some point, yet this is all part of the India experience. Love it or loathe it – India will ignite your imagination and stir your soul anew.

Hindi Words ….Oxford Dictionary……and beyond

More than 700 Hindi and Sanskrit words have finally wriggled their way in to the Oxford! Indian words have started commanding a presence from a simple ‘curry’ in the kitchen to the ‘sahib’s’ lavish ‘bungalow.

The Oxford dictionary, ceremoniously notes all the Indian words absorbed into the English vocabulary each year. Some of the surprising (shampoo!) and not so surprising (jungle) ones are:

1. Philosophical and Spiritual terms

  • Dharma – moral law.
  • Guru – a teacher, guide or mentor
  • Nirvana – a state of perfect happiness.

2. Social and Religious terms

  • Juggernaut – an overwhelming force that crushes everything in its path.
  • Pundit – a learned person.

3. Terms of Fashion

  • Bandana – a large, handkerchief brightly coloured.
  • Bindi – a dot marked on the forehead by Hindu wives.
  • Bangle – a rigid bracelet or anklet.
  • Dhoti – a loincloth worn by Hindu men in India.
  • Jodhpurs – long riding breeches.
  • Cummerbund – waist binding

4. Culinary Terms

  • Curry – a spicy dish.
  • Basmati – a type of rice.
  • Ghee – clarified butter.
  • Chutney – a side dish for food.

5. Others

  • Bungalow – a small house.
  • Loot – stolen goods.
  • Chit – a note or letter.
  • The Hindu
  • Cheetah – long legged, African or South West Asian wild cat that can run at tremendous speed.
  • Jungle – a wild tangled mass
  • Shampoo – liquid or cream to wash the hair

The latest entrants are words like bhagwan – god, bhakti – devotion, bhajan-devotional song, adda-hang out, parishad-council, dicky (car boot), videshi- foreign, deshi-native. The even more recen ones are words that even an Indian would be surprised to see in the Thesaurus. I definitely was. These are colloquial words like bindaas – carefree and Hinglish – mixture of Hindi and English. Words like Hindutva and Swadeshi with political connotations have also been introduced in everyday English. Whether the Raj likes it or not but more Hindi words are being utilized in every day English lingo than the Queen could have ever thought. Ironic indeed!

DEEWALI: Festival of Lights on 30th October, Parramatta Stadium!

Deewali comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Deepavali’ which means a row of lights. This Hindu celebration is rightly called the Festival of Lights as it celebrates victory of Good over Evil and Light over Darkness. The goddess of happiness and good fortune, Lakshmi, roams the earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean, and bright. Deewali celebrations may vary in different communities but its significance and spiritual meaning is generally “the awareness of the inner light”.

Deepavali is celebrated in many countries around the world. A gigantic population of 30 million Indians residing away from India celebrate this festival in foreign lands with fervour and excitement. The largest groups of non-resident Indians live in the USA, Canada, Nepal, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi-Arabia, and South-Africa and in the United Kingdom (UK). Depending on the origin of the majority of Indians, the festival in those countries is either Diwali (most immigrants from North-India, i.e. USA/Canada/UK) or Deepavali (most immigrants from South-India such as Tamils, i.e. Malaysia/Singapore).

In Sydney, the Deewali event is a riot of fun and frolic for the whole day. The fair has

Organized firework displays.

  • Food stalls with assorted Deewali sweets, savories and herbs.
  • Dancing and musical performances.
  • Stalls offering henna paintings.
  • People burning the effigy of the demon king Ravana.

Indians love to bring out their finest wears on this special occasion. They are adorned with henna and other colourful outfits. Houses are lit with candles and lights to celebrate the festival. Christmas arrives a month before for the Indian counterpart. This year Deewali is being organized on Sunday 30 October 2011 at Parramatta Stadium, Sydney from 12 noon to 9 pm. Don’t miss out on this wonderful celebration of life, happiness and communion!
Texas State University

But Hindi? Why Not!

Are you of Hindustani ancestry, or your partner could be Hindi speaking, or you are gob smacked by the Bollywood heroes romancing the gorgeous Indian belles? How about if you want to stress bust and see traditional Yoga as the answer. What if you are a traveller and want to witness the truly rich and diverse nation of India but not as a mute bystander. These are purely interest driven reasons. What if there is a bigger picture? Like… Well……India is one of the major players in the present global scene and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Hindi is soon catching up to be the second most spoken language in the world. (And the first one is quite difficult as my experience says).

Hindi is not only spoken in the British Commonwealth countries but also in Fiji, Nepal, Yemen and Mauritius. Its familiarity with Urdu will easily get a business man to find his way through the consumer driven market of the Indian subcontinent, also Pakistan and parts of Middle East. One of the other reasons also could be that the language is elegant and expressive. Knowledge of the language could take the enthusiast into a new world of culture, poetry and ancient philosophical wisdom of its spiritual books. The language is easy and as scientific as a language can be. Whatever the reason, jump on to the band wagon before knowing the language moves from fashionable to compulsion.

Bollywood Or Hollywood!

Hollywood releases an average of 500 films per year for an audience of approximately 2.6 billion worldwide. And Bollywood? Naah! It could not produce 1000 movies for 3 billion crazy “Hindi Cinema buffs”. Unbelievable isn’t it? But Bollywood finally won the viewership race in 2004 and the rest they say is bollystory!

So now when you think MOVIE it is not Hollywood, California only. But the new hot spot is Bollywood, Mumbai. The Indian film industry in all its glory and panache is screaming for attention and is here to stay for a while! An average Bolly-film produced in India follows a set pattern. With lots of singing, dancing, romancing, action and drama, it is three to four hours long, but there is an intermission in between where you can hoard on the pop-corn and samosas and chai. Presently, it has become a common phenomenon to hear of Indian made films being released and shown in the international arena. Be it a small Amsterdam market or the huge US, UK or Australian market, there is one playing in a theatre near you!
The latest one playing is English-Vinglish – the story of a housewife, who does not know English. She learns the language in an absolute foreign setting withstanding all troubles. Is she able to gain the absolute admiration of her English rattling teenage daughter or her ever busy image conscious corporate husband to become the pride for her family? Does she fall for the irresistible French man learning English with her and desert her desire to master the language? See for yourself what is it that drives fourteen million Indians to go to the movies on a daily basis.

Psy’s free concert in Seoul_ let’s celebrate his “Gangnam Style” global sensation

The South Korean rapper returned to his homeland recently to put on a free concert at Seoul Plaza on Thursday night (04/10/12); an event that was expected to attract about 50,000, but which in the end brought together far more – a massive 80,000.

The huge concert even attracted more than 700 journalists from across the globe as the “Gangnam Style” phenomenon continues to sweep across the globe.

People were reserving their spots at the concert a full 12 hours before the concert was due to begin to ensure they got the best views.

When the concert finally began the giants screens that had been erected on the stage flashed the words: “This performance will be watched worldwide, so let’s show the whole world that Koreans have good manners.”

Seoul’s authorities wanted to put on a warm welcome to their newest global superstar, and it has been reported that the City contributed about $360,000 to the event and even extended public transportation to and from the area until 2 a.m. to ensure everyone who wanted to go could come.

Psy has become a global superstar in the past few months as his hit single “Gangnam Style” has become number one in a series of countries. The popular rapper, who is not new by any means in his homeland, had said that he was dance to “Gangnam Style” topless if he hit number 1 on the prestigious Billboard Hot 100 chart. On Thursday it was announced that it remained at number 2 for the second week running, however, the rapper delighted fans by performing his famous horse dance topless anyway.

Psy told the crowd that he was “the only singer to be called a new artist abroad after being active for 12 years.”

In addition to the 80,000 fans attending the event live, thousands more joined live streams online through Live Seoul, YouTube and YouStream. However, the servers of some crashed under the weight of traffic as more than expected numbers attempted to join the concert online.

Psy told the crowd: “I knew one day someone big would come out of Korea. I just never thought it would be me.”

School lunch in South Korea

In Korea, mothers do not need to prepare children’s lunch boxes since every school has its own kitchen to provide students’  fresh and healthy meals to ensure balanced diet (The fees are generally minimum and in Seoul, most of the schools provide free lunch to students.).

In general, Korean school lunches consist of rice, soup, kimchi, protein-focused side dishes that are based on meat, fish or tofu, vegetables or fruit. These foods are minimally processed and normally low fat, as other Korean dishes. Furthermore, the South Korean government is strictly controlling school meals’ (as well as children’s ordinary snacks’) sugar and fat limit, by running several campaigns and educational programs during school lunch times.

These school meals are not only making busy working mums free, but also contributing health education and providing balanced meals to fast growing Korean students.

By the way, don’t forget to say “잘 먹겠습니다 (jal meokket seumnida!)!”, before you eat meals!

Ashley Jang (Korean teacher)

Nha Trang – the Pearl of the Far East Vietnam

Nha Trang is a coastal city of Vietnam as well as a centre of politic, economy, culture, science and travel of Khanh Hoa province, Vietnam. Nha Trang is known as the Pearl of the Far East due to its natural value, beauty and weather. Listed below are must-see destinations when you visit Nha Trang

 

Tam Island (Hòn Tằm)

Tam Island (Hòn Tằm) is a appealing destination which is 100 ha width. Since it is located 7 km far away from Nha Trang City so visitors need only 7 minutes of travelling by canoe to arrive. This island still remains the beauty and wild of tropical forest and the romance of a long beach. Tourists can visit the Bat cave which lied behind this island and participate in many beach sports such as paragliding, beach volleyball, kayak and mountain climbing.

 

Dam Market (Chợ Đầm)

Dam Market, a central market of Nha Trang sea city, is a unique and beautiful construction. It is the biggest market as well as the trade label of this city. Before being constructed as a market, it was a 7 ha of marsh. Dam Market provides many daily stuff , sourvenir and sea food for tourists.

Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography

Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography is an institute studying about the life of sanitary and phytosanitary. It was built by French in 1922 which is considered to be one of the oldest research institutes in Vietnam and the largest collection of ocean life in South East Asia. It is not only a research place but also an attractive destination to tourists, especially who loves marine life.

 

Lotus – Vietnam’s national flower

Lotus flower has been regarded as Vietnam’s national flower. Lotus symbolizes the beauty, commitment, health, honor and knowledge. Lotus flowers grow from the muddy pond but their seed grow toward the direction of the sun light, which represent the purity of spirit. Lotus is said to be the symbol of summer as it often blossoms in summer time when there is a lot of bright sunlight. At night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again.

Lotus flowers are beautiful in both appearance and smell. The color of lotus flowers usually are pink, red, white, blue and purple, each color has different meaning but they all have pleasant smell and people simply love them at first sight.

Different part of lotus can be used for different purpose: the flowers are used for praying; the seeds are used for making lotus tea and medicine while the green leaves are used to wrap chicken rice- a very delicious dish. If you visit Viet Nam next time, remember to pay a visit to the lotus pond and you will definitely be amazed by its beauty.

Dim Sum Cart would become history in Hongkong

In many Dim Sum restaurants in Hong Kong, the Dim Sum cart helps the clients to see the food before choosing their favorites. It has been a tradition in Hong Kong restaurants for many years. However, the scene of which waiters pushing the Dim Sum Cart between each table for clients to choose various Dim Sum dishes would become history. Firstly, due to the limited spaces and the high-paid rent, the owners of those restaurants decide not to use Dim Sum cart to save the budget and place more tables to serve more clients instead. In addition, some clients think freshly made Dim Sum dishes are more delicious compared to those stored in the cart.

In the near future, people might not be able to see the scene in which the waiters go around in the restaurant and call out “jiaozi, har gow, siu mai, steamed buns………”

 

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