Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thirty three years ago...

Among some old photos in old albums, yellowed plastic covers and photos stored in heaps, I opened  the batik clad cover of an album. My memories of a day so important in my life resurfaced. It wasn't an idle thought that prompted me to rummage. It was a recent visit to the Sri Raja Rajeswary temple, sitting  atop a hill on Jalan Ampang that stirred me. I found myself looking back on a day 33 years ago. A day when I wore a saree for the first time in my life. It was my wedding day on a sunny morning.

Might the heavens pour to stop me from visiting  this temple where I was married?  Luckily not. The monsoon rains had not begun  their lashings. I pushed all kinds of mundane barriers out of the way. Nothing was  ever going to thwart this visit. Only this time I was dressed in a salwar khameez for a special event organized  by the Malaysian Culture Group (MCG).This visit was to celebrate Deepavali  which was a week ahead and to get to know the temple's history. Other ladies came sportingly  dressed in  sarees  or salwars and appeared enthusiastic about slipping into other ethnic clothes.

The years have certainly slipped by. Another stage of life has taken over. If you ask me then, why marry?  I think like every one the same pat answer is love conquers all! But then, would  I have thought so far ahead of life's journey through the years? Impossible! As my husband will vouch now, I'm not a person who thinks things through. Always in a haste!! Luckily the stars in the universe smiled on us. They still do and we give thanks.

That morning, upon arrival after alighting from the car, I  laughed out quite loud at something funny. Or was it something  causing some nervous energy to course through my veins?
'Hey, A bride is demure!' or something to this effect , uttered by my soon to be sis in law. She helped to arrange the folds of my  kanchipuram saree neatly. I had gone with her to Madras Store in Masjid India to choose the saree. As the ceremony was in mid morning, determined by the astrological  readings, the cooler shade of blue/green was chosen.

I think I was rather adept  walking in a saree for the first time. With  rather brisk steps, accompanied by relatives, I lifted the saree lightly at the folds with  my right hand to keep the border off the ground. and walked towards  the temple to meet my man! There he was waiting patiently with his parents.

All these years there was no urgency to come back again. Whether it be to celebrate deepavali, ponggal or to commemorate anniversaries  of loved ones, the temples nearer home fit our purposes. But this time round, to revisit the temple and to step inside was enough excitement especially when  this opportunity presented itself. The interior and the sanctum  is still  what I remember thirty three years ago. However I  had envisioned the  paved walkway  leading to the temple steps to be  a longer stretch , more curvy and on more of an incline. Now the pathway is nicely tiled with geometric patterns  instead of  the concrete of old, showing signs of modernity and giving it a more aesthetic look.

Smile, it's your wedding day!
The little ones were  having their own fun! All grown,, one is a physicist, another a mechanical engineer and another a banker. 

Me and my man!

Walked  this pathway  thirty three years ago!

A little girl in  blue dress to complement her mum's saree.

A Committee member of the temple showing  how a 'pottu' is placed.

The midday puja  whereby the visitors  received blessings.

The deities  are watching over  the devotees.

Oil lamps ready for offerings to the Gods.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Plant Exchange

When garden enthusiasts meet, plants do the talking! That's what our dear patron of the Selangor and FT Gardening Society, Tan Sri Chong Hon Nyan desired when he hosted yet another of our regular yearly plant exchange in his house.

You can be assured that the warmth of the lovely couple greets you, accentuated by the red glow of the red canopy above our heads. Luck was on our side  too as the incessant rain of the past weeks kept away and the sun smiled on us.

I brought two plants with a wish of finding them new homes. Specially wanted  a happy soul to take home  the vitex trifolia or the simpleleaf chaste tree. The shrub sits under  my jacaranda tree and complements  nicely with its lavender flowers. The clusters of berries rectify  hormonal imbalances in females. I extolled its virtues to our ex- president, Arthur and he  bought it. All for a ringggit 5 tag. All plants sold go towards the Society's coffers.

As usual, I was on the lookout for some new plants. Imagine for only ringgit 28.00 spent, I got myself  a custard apple sapling, lemon basil, jasmine (cestrum nocturnum), a stem cutting of a genus of the monstera, a packet of lady finger seeds and a tub of home-made pickled fruits which is our patron's wife's speciality.

The owner who parted with her Night blooming jasmine (Lady of the Night) as she was moving from her condominium told me  to expect the knockout fragrance of the plant. And for the lingering fragrance that wafts in the air even after it is plucked.

Following the do's and don'ts of  a good plant exchange, the event  went smoothly. Nothing  littered the compound of our gracious patron as unsold plants were taken home by the owners. As usual, our patron treated  the members to a delightful lunch  of kari and prawn mee, kuay teow, popiah and ice kacang which we ate heartily.

Within those brief hours, we immersed ourselves talking about our nature pursuits, the behaviour of our garden plants, composting etc. There is so much to share and learn from each other. With such wonderful garden tales, there is nothing left to do but just to fall in love over and over again with plants. They really do speak to us. Our duty is to care for them.

Food and plants go  together well !

Lovely pendulous sprays of yellow flowers in  our patron's garden which is a trove of plants everywhere you look!

The lovely delicate flowers of the vitex trifolia

Small plants to suit  a balcony garden

Tall plants that need space.

The price tag of ringgit 5  doesn't set one back in the pocket!

A nursery was invited to sell some plants.

Bonus time -  on behalf of Arthur, our president Dr Tan handed out a packet of vermicompost and a soil mix each to every member.

Arthur showing us this plant which is said to have anti - cancer properties

I bought a stem cutting

Like my plant?

Making  choices

A wealth of knowledge  lies here!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Deepavali 2011

Our day started with a visit to the Sri Kandaswamy Kovil at Scott Road, Brickfields. A brighter, more colourful look greeted us as last year the temple was undergoing upgrading. Next we gathered at my brother -in - law's house  for a home - cooked vegetarian breakfast. Through the years, Priya  has been faithfully preparing  typical South Indian dishes for a family meal to begin our Deepavali celebration. This year she added 'pukeh' (pongal sweet rice ) to her delectable dishes which we ate from banana leaves from my garden.

The tempo upped when we gathered again  for a lunch gathering of friends to celebrate the festivity at our house. In fact the buzz already started a week earlier. Priya making sure all the essential ingredients for the sambar, chutneys and the various vegetables were bought. Our brass lamps, kuthu vilakku were polished. With delight, I hung the decorative pieces I bought from my wonderful holiday in Kerala.

As for me, negotiating the streets and shops of a bustling, crowded ' Little India' of Brickfields added to the heady preparations. I lost count of the kilos of food I bought. This year, my shopping list says 2 kilos of snake gourd 'coz we wanted  the podalanga as a special salad. My maid kept sending me off to buy more onions. Luckily she was the one crying with the onions whilst I lugged 9 kgs home! Ah yes, that's one of the secrets of assured taste besides the chef who mixes the spices expertly together for that special ooomph! She's still talking about the compliments she received from one and all. How my friends envy me!

As if to add to the excitement, my hubby and I received calls/smses  from friends as far as Perlis to say that I was on TV3 on a special Deepavali news segment.  Even the residents of  Cheshire Home excitedly  recall seeing my face! TV3 chanced to catch me, an early shopper buying kurtis at the Temple of Fine Arts. I didn't catch myself there, daren't use the word 'celebrity' (ooops, I just did!).

Needless to say, we had a wonderful time with friends and family. The day went by quickly. My blogging friend, Ee Lynn joined us after her usual dedicated work at the SPCA.

May the lights of Deepavali shine on all Malaysians for a happy household.