Saturday, November 28, 2020

Birthdays of 2020 and the 'Corona Effect'

Nov 28, 2020 - Saturday:

2020 has been an exceptional year in the sense that nobody in the world expected anything like this. The 'Covid-19' Pandemic that started in China has affected every country across the world and devastated the lives of billions. 

India as a country and every other person has had to endure hardships one way or the other. Despite all these disturbances, life goes on, sometime as usual and some time takes a different path. 

Below is how we celebrated our Birthdays during the year with a glimpse of information on how the Corona played its part during these days.

Jan 11, 2020, Saturday

Corona Pandemic had not even hit India and it was just still as an insignificant headline  on the news, back then. Except for Pooja's birthday, all other Birthdays this year was under lockdown. Lucky bum!. 

On the morning of her birthday, she was pampered with a bunch of goody-gifts. Souji, Amamma and Ruchir enjoyed the gift-unveiling ceremony.

We then did a quick visit to Vinayadeep, where she got the blessings from her Ajji and Tatha.

In the noon, we took her to the Hero Cycles Showroom in BSK II stage and bought her a new shiny Bicycle of her liking.

Pooja wanted to celebrate her birthday eating out the best North Indian cuisine, at a hotel. Her wish was granted as we celebrated her Birthday at the 'Subz' accompanied by Sanju, Lavanya and Harish  

The cake was on the house and the buffet spread was out of the world. Tasty food and she was very happy!

Feb 2, 2020 - Sunday

By this time, Corona is now a big thing and countries are already thinking how to handle this pandemic. All news channels are covering Corona and our Government is also planning on how this pandemic is going to affect India and the next steps. Scary times. 

Since it was a Sunday, we all were there at Vinayadeep. Anil joined along with Putty Aunty along and she being just there was the greatest gift, Anna could have asked for on his Birthday. It has been quite a while since they had met with each other.

It had been 3 or 4 months since Anna had stepped out of the house, ever since he has been having knee pains. It was a good catch-up overall.

We got a Cake for Anna and as usual Ruchir spared no time in inviting this little friends to joint his grandparent's party. 

Afternoon, I took Anna and Amma on a whirl-wind 'View-from-car-window' tour of all the temples in and around Hanumanthanagar, Gandhibazaar, Basavanagudi areas. We started with Panchamukhi Temple -> Rama temple in Ashok Nagar -> Puttige Matha, Raghavendra Swamy and Sreenivasa Temple next to BMS College, Anjaneya Temple opposite to Gandhi Bazaar' and then returned home!

April 3, 2020 - Friday

Covid-19, was in full rage across India. PM Modi had ordered total lock-down for almost a month now. Everything except essentials were available. No schools, colleges, sports, entertainment like Theaters, Malls, or Social engagements like Marriages, Parties or functions.

Ruchir was really hoping the lock-down that started in March would be lifted, but that did not happen. But that did not happen. He was so looking forward for a good cake, lots of friends and relatives, lots of gifts, but none of these were possible. Nobody was allowed to move outside of their house. So visiting grandparents, or they coming over was also not possible. We were able to connect with them only via phone.

That said, instead of having 1 big Birthday, we made small celebrations, multiple times all at the confines of home :-) Such an adjusting kid he is, despite that relenting feeling of having a good birthday with Friends and Relatives, he was able to understand that this time we had to manage without one and he was able to take it in! 

Souji and Ruchir baked a neat cake and decorated it with icing sugar and Cadbury Gems. Pooja prepared a lovely Greeting card. Souji also gave new Shirts. We also got him a Sketch-Pen set, a Picture filled encyclopedia that had lots of info on Dinosaurs, his latest craze off late. He also got a 'Mechano-set' as his gift.  

In the evening, we all went over to the terrace of our apartments at Vishnu Residency and had a Roof-top Picnic! Souji had prepared Ruchir's favourite Tomato Bhath, French Fries, Milkshake, Noodles and Cake all home made and as good could be. Ruchir loved the outing and so did we too!

April 14, 2020 - Tuesday

Every week, we were hoping the lock-down got lifted. But it did not. By this week, we were able to sneak out to the backside of a bakery and order a little cake for Soujanya. 

We moved the dinner table to the hall, under the chandelier, and that became our Birthday Table. We invited Ruchir's friends in the apartment and they were more than delighted to come over and be a part of rare outing of sorts from their house to ours!

In the name of Souji's Birthday, Ruchir cut the cake along with his friends in the apartment. Ruchir enjoyed the spotlight he was hoping for and surely made his day. And Souji too graciously enjoyed the Birthday that were hers in the joy of Ruchir's celebration.

For the special dinner, there was Vegetable Pulav, Culets, Raita, Rasogullas, Milkshake, Fanta, Masala Papad and Carrot Halwa! And the Cake of-course!

May 10, 2020 - Sunday

There were news of lock-downs getting lifted in phases, but the fear of infections were on every ones mind. But the roads were opened out for movement during the weekends, and it being a Sunday, we were able to visit my parents as well. Mango trees in our house had a bumper yield this time and so was that of our neighbors. So much mangoes this time that they are raining mangoes right on our terraces every day. One can simply pluck it out of our bare hands, just standing on the terrace, a beautiful sight to see!

Pooja and Ruchir made very beautiful Birthday card for me. Just so happy that they are able to pen their thoughts and express their feeling. Such a beautiful phase of life it is. 

We had also bought my favourite Ice-Cream Cake from Ibaco, and this time it was Mango-Almond Duet. I loved the ice-cream cake ever since Souji got it many years back on my Birthday and ever since this has remained the best Ice Cream Cake I have had so far.

For evening dinner, Souji had prepared Samosas, Butter Naan, Alu-Corn-Mattar Subjee, 7-Cups Sweet and the Ibaco special Ice Cream Cake. 

Thoroughly enjoyed the day! Thanks to Souji and Kids for making it special!

Aug 9¬10, 2020 - Sunday-Monday

Harish, Lavanya and Sanju had visited our house, now @ Samruddhi. It was late evening on the 9th and a good opportunity to celebrate her Birthday, the very first of many at Samruddhi! 

We chit chatted till mid-night and at the stroke of 12, Sanju cut her Birthday cake on Aug 10 " 12:00 AM - A perfect start to a new year! 

Black forest cake and Hot Samosas summed up for nice Birthday party.

Oct 26, 2020 - Sunday

Lockdowns have been completely off now and things are turning towards normal. But wearing Masks whenever in public, Hand sanitizing as many times as needed and social distancing have been the norms.

Since 27th was a Monday (working day), we all went to Vinayadeep on Sunday 26th itself and then I took Amma and Anna to visit Jaggu Maama's house. It was close to 6 or 7 months since Amma and Jaggu maama have seen each other, except on the phone.

While coming back, I got the Jolada Rotti Oota parcelled from the famous Uttara Kannada hotel on MES High School Road, just behind 4th Block Bus Stand. We had also packed some Sakkare Obattu and Pedha's from 'Holige Mane' on 9th Main. 

We spent a good time at Hanumanthanagar and then left back to Samruddhi in the evening.

Birthdays of 2020 and the 'Corona Effect'

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Deepavali 2020 - First one @ Samruddhi

 Nov 14 - 16, 2020

Corona or No Corona, Deepavali did not stop this year too, being the most loved festivals on our calendars. This time, it was the first one at our new house and we did a few things that was very close to our hearts. Decorating our house with a lot of Lights! 

Nov 14, Friday: Neer-thumbo Habba

We brought both our Parents and Parents-In-Laws a day early to stay with us during the festival. Souji prepared awesome lunch and dinner on the Friday, Nov 14. I took Anna and Amma over to a long pending visit to Putty Aunty's house where they spent a good time. Souji and I bought a lot of Crackers. The prices have of crackers have just sky-rocketed and can't believe that a sack of them easily crosses  6-7K. 

Not sure if our Kids love crackers or not, we definitely love firing crackers. Now to all the people who must be thinking of the ecological apocalypse we have bought, sorry... This is the best ever Festival for all ages and 'Pataki Habba' without Crackers for us is like Ganesha Habba without Ganesha.. So please leave this one alone. I am sure you would have loved burning crackers while you were kids.

In the night, we switched on all the LED serial sets we had painstakingly put in place. Thanks to Pooja, Ruchir and Souji who put in a lot of efforts in running the LED ropes right from the Main gate of ground floor though the stairs. And from the Room in the first floor to the Pooja room and across the hall (step level) and around the TV and then climbing all the steps to the 2nd floor Cut-out section. Our First and Second floor balconies facing the Street, the first floor balcony next to the Pooja room was also LED roped in!

We switched on the lights and our house turned magical. We had always wanted to decorate the house with LED ropes, and this time we were able to make it happen. Our house looked Fantastic! Real Deepavali treat to the eyes!

Nov 15, Saturday: Narakachaturdashi

We all woke up a little relaxed in the morning and performed the 'Enne Pooja' ritual. It has always been an integral part of Deepavali at our house. Spent a lot of time having great conversations, discussions in the morning. We had the food catered from Vittal (Kaveri Caterers). Souji and I went to Katriguppe and picked it up from there. Before going there, we had dropped Anna and Amma at Jyothi Aunty's house, so that they another long pending visit got fulfilled. On our way back, we picked them and reached our house.

Lavanya, Harish, Deepu, Asha and Nisha too joined us for lunch. We arranged the lunch at Ground floor. Lunch had Capsicum Bhath, Tarakari Kootu, Tomato Saaru, Happala, Rice and Curds. For sweets, we had Kashi Halwa, Shavige Payasa, Boondi Laadu, Jalebi, Badam Burfi. Crisply fried Maddur Vade took care of the hot and spicy section. Everyone loved the variety and considering that there hasn't been any other function/marriage/event in the year, where we could have enjoyed these dishes, thanks to Corona.

We all rested and relaxed afternoon and lazily watched some English movie on Amazon Prime. In the evening, we all refreshed ourselves and as the sky turned dark, we again turned on the LED Lights and the spirits rose high yet-again!. Everybody loved the way these LED lights transformed our house. The Mild Yellow hue running across the house both inside and outside, was just majestic! 

Pooja, Ruchir, MIL lit a lot of crackers!. Anna and Amma watched the show downstairs seated in our First floor balcony. Our neighbors too did justice by lighting the fireworks. Most houses in our street had one form of decorative lighting or the other. A beautiful night and making it a perfect Deepavali.

Dinner was served by 9 PM and Deepu, Asha, Nisha, Harish and Lavanya returned back to their bases. We all missed having Sanju this year. 

Nov 16, Sunday: Lakshmi Pooja

Woke up late and relaxed and spent a good time watching all the photos we took. Souji had prepared Super Duper Upittu for breakfast. Amma had brought our childhood photos along which was keenly watched by our InLaws and kids. 

Pooja decked herself up with the new Langa-Dhavani, and Gejje. Took a lot of photos of her knowing that she does not like wearing heavy dresses and jewelry. 

For lunch Souji we kept the menu light, with a lot of previous day items including all sweets. Fantastic innings!

Around 3 PM, both Parents and Parents-InLaw were dropped back to their respective homes, longing for having them again for a longer period of time. It was a fantastic time we spent together. The elders loved being with the Kids and and Vice versa. It also gave a lot of rest and company to them. Deepavali is best celebrated together as it certainly did this year.

Sanjeev, Sarju, Srivali and Shrishti, visited us in the evening. With our LED lights on, another round of photo sessions took off. We played Dumb Charades and Anthyakshari. We switched on the new LED mini-Disco Lights which transformed our hall into a Dance Room!. Srivalli and Shrishti performed some amazing dance moves to some Bollywood numbers. 

The evening was a little rainy, but with all the fun and noise we were making, we scared the hell out of the rain gods, who ran away. We got downstairs and enjoyed the crackers and fireworks for a full hour and half. Kids had a wonderful time and so did we.

A wonderful night, well spent! By the time we slept it was already the next day!

Nov 17, Monday - Balipadyami

Back to the Monday grind, I did not feel like working after the continuous fun we had been having. So took the day off from office and just spent time relaxing. It has been quite hectic at office and I definitely needed some break. A much deserved one.

Souji's mobile phone had gone dead, so we visited the Samsung service center in Jayanagar and left it there for repair. We returned back to home and stayed indoors mostly. Evening we lit all the Diyas and all the remaining crackers along with our neighbors. 

After 4 days of non-stop action, Deepavali of 2020 ended gracefully making it one of the most memorable festivals of the season. A special one this time as it was the first at Samruddhi! 

Thanks to all for making this festival of lights a wonderful one to remember for a long time!  

Here are some photos and videos we took during this festival.

Deepavali 2020 @ Samruddhi

Trek to SRS Betta with Harish and Lavanya - Oct 3

October 3, 2020 - Saturday

A lazy Saturday afternoon transformed into a beautiful trek as we made an unplanned visit to the Sri Revana Siddeswara Betta (SRS Betta). Completely unplanned till the last minute, we made plans on the fly and just took off.

We had been to Harish's home and decided to do this trek in the last minute, we made plans on the fly and just took off. Pooja, Ruchir and Sanju stayed back at Harish's home itself. What a miss!

We reached this place in about an hour's time driving through Mysore Road. Google Map gives the perfect location.

The Temple was closed and the gates to the trek was also closed by the lady police guard. But coaxed her into opening the trek route by promising that we would be back in an hour max. 

The climb was definitely steeper with lot more steps compared to the Gudibande hill. Each step, you climb 1 feet!. Quite a steep climb, but quite safe. Kids will need help as there are some risky sections, even though the authorities have ensured guard rails every where. 

It took us a good 45 minutes to get to the top and as they say, 'The view is from the top'. Fantastic views of the location. Lush green everywhere. A beautiful spire has a 3 metal bells hanging, making it a beautiful scenery when these views merges with the open horizon in the backdrop.

We spent going around the flat top of the hill and also checking out the little temple tucked a few steps below and behind the far side of the hill. 

After about an hour on top, taking loads of pictures till the batteries drained out, we descended to the base in about 30 minutes. We thanked the Lady Police profusely at the entrance, for allowing and waiting for our return.

Funny part - I mentioned this new discovery of ours to Dr. Pradeep (my friend, just in case if he was not aware of this hill). He scolded me, 'breathless' and non-stop for the next 30 minutes. SRS Betta and temple happens to be his 'Mane Devaru' and got to know, they visit the temple every year without fail ! The scolding was for the fact that he could have arranged a full fledged meal and VIP entry to the hill, had we told him we were visiting. No worries, Pradeepa. Now we know!

On our return drive back, we stopped briefly at a beautiful Paddy field taking a few pictures. 

As they say, great things comes in small packages and this trek was surely one of those kinds!

Below are some pictures and videos from this trek.

Gudibande Trek

Trek to Gudibande Hills with Rajesh and family - Sep 20

September 20, 2020 - Sunday 

The Corona / Covid 19 Pandemic had kept us contained in our homes for 7 months now and all of us really needed a break from the monotony and just get out and enjoy the nature. Somewhere where you can get a breath of fresh air and also get a new perspective. 

What better place than a trek to a near-by hillock 'Gudibande' - About 2 hours from Bangalore on the Bangalore - Hyderabad highway. Pushpa suggested that we all go and do this half day trip and so we started! 

Breakfast and Lunch were prepared at home and carried to this picnic trek of sorts. Roads to Gudibande were just super. The weather was overcast and was raining hard, when we reached Gudibande. We looked around for a while for a decent place/shelter to have our breakfast and finally found a Temple under a huge banyan tree which was a Kilometre away from the Gudibande Hill. It was the only decent shelter from the pouring rains. Thanks to 'Edugalla Akkama, the temple godess' for this. There was nobody around and the cement plastered temple corridor remained dry for us spread a mat and have our Picnic breakfast!

Hot and Spicy Uppittu and Coffee. The backdrop of the Gudibande Hill, A temple under a banyan tree, surrounded with acres of green cultivation, early morning rain. Not a single other soul near-by! Just perfect ! We couldn't have asked for more.

We were at some point contemplating to return back as the rains started to lash hard, but we had come too far to go back empty handed. So we persisted and the rains too stopped. We asked the locals the starting point of ascent and drove our cars to the bottom of the hillock. Our upward trek took us about 1.5 hours to the top. The hill was decked with beautiful green bushes, glistening in the sun that had just came out, amidst the Vibrant yellow and orange flowers. Occasionally we passed through some nice little rock cut entry points, constructed by the then chieftain Byreshwara Gouda, who constructed these pathways. 

The view from the top was just outstanding. It had a beautiful fort and a temple (closed due to Corona) on the top. The near-by villages looked so tiny in comparison. The cloud formations with the sun playing hide and seek made watching the horizon look spectacular. We also saw the Byrasagara Lake from over the top which we passed by before we reached Gudibande. 

The hill itself was super clean. It seemed as if it rained to clean up the hill, in anticipation of our arrival! Nature, in all it's glory was very kind! We spent an hour or so taking in the fresh air, beautiful weather and the pristine surroundings. We started climbing down and reached the base in 45 minutes. We drove back to the same temple and had lunch. 

For lunch we had Tarakari Bhath, Mosaranna, Chips, Ras Kadam from Kanti Sweets, Yummy Cakes that Sanjana had prepared. We left Gudibande by about 4 PM, and drove back to Namma Bengaluru. On the way, we stopped briefly for Tea at Pushpa's house before reaching our home.

Overall, a beautiful day well spent with Pushpa, Rajesh and Sanjana. Missed having Vishal around. Here are some Photos and Videos from this trek.

Gudibande Trek

"Samrudhhi" - "Gruhapravesha" of our New Home!

Gruhapravesha of our new home - 'Samruddhi' 

An activity that started with the 'Guddali Pooje - ['Ground breaking'] on Dec 3rd, 2018, reached completed state when we conducted the 'Gruhapravesha' of our new home which we have lovingly named 'Samruddhi'. 

'Samruddhi' is a state of mind which exudes a feeling of having everything. Great Parents, Family, Friends, Health, Wealth, Peace, and Satisfaction. 

April 25, 2019 - Thursday:

We left 'Chiguru' by noon and immediately got started on getting the house decorated for the grand function. A full load of relatives from our house left in multiple cars and all the luggage dispatched through a carrier. Rajesh and Pushpa joined us and helped garlanding the house with loads of 'Shamanthige' Hoova [Chrysanthemums]. The 'Tenginagari Chappra' got done by 4 PM and the Caterers arrived with Coffee and Snacks right after.

The 'Shamiyaana', and the external decoration lights arrived way later than agreed and caused a lot of anxiety. But once the lighting was switched on, the house was looking gracious. Loved the view!

With all the near and dear ones, the evening functions were conducted at the ground floor starting with Ganapathi Homa, Vaastu Homa, Navagraha Homa. The functions ended in 2.5 hours and the dinner was served under the well lit Shamiyaana at the adjacent vacant site.

Souji's Parents and relatives from Adoni, Bellary and Hyderabad stayed overnight at the house. Bedding and all other arrangements were taken care of early knowing that guests would be staying back here would need these to be arranged for a comfortable stay overnight. We [My parents, Deepu & family] all returned back to our houses, as we had to enter the new house only during the right 'Muhurtha' between 4:40 AM to 5:00 AM.

By the time we prepared for the big day ahead, and took rest, it was past midnight.

April 26, 2019 - Friday:

We got up at 2 AM and got started for the long day ahead! We left Chiguru by 4 AM and reached Samruddhi by 4:30 AM! Our In-laws who stayed overnight had already gotten ready with everything that was needed for us to enter the house. Deepu brought Anna and Amma and joined us right on time.

A photographer whom we had hired for the day arrived on time, [After having reached some Gruhapravesha house in the same area by mistake!]

With the divine blessing of Gods, Parents, Relatives and friends we did the 'Pravesha' of our new 'Gruha' during the auspices time.

The function was followed by the milk boiling ritual. The milk overflew while the ladies sung 'Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma'. Happy coincidence!

We then did one more Homa that could not get completed the previous night.

Kaveri Caterers were ready serving breakfast of 'Masala Dosa', 'Avalakki Oggarane', 'Kashi Halwa', Coffee and Tea. Got to know by the feedback, that Masala Dosas were a fantastic hit!

We did few other regular rituals including 'Hoo Veelya', Hosilu Pooja and nailing the hosilu with the coin, seeing our newly constructed house in the mirror etc... by 9:30 AM.

Anna and Amma performed the 'Devatha Pooja' in the 1st floor followed by the Aarthi. We conducted the 'Satyanarayana Pooja' in the first floor which took another hour and a half. With all the folks assembled in the first floor, adjusting themselves wherever possible, our house had turned itself into a stadium of sorts!

It was so nice to see all the guests coming over and participating in the function. Souji's cousins from Adoni, Hyderabad, Bellary, Paddu Aunty & Balaji Uncle from Chennai had graced the occasion and infact had stayed over at our new residence overnight.

'Paada Pooje' function was held followed by Lunch at 12:30 PM. The South Indian lunch menu had 'Corn and Kadilekaayi Kosumbari', 'Alugadde Fry Palya', 'Sakkare Obbattu', 'Maddur Vade', 'Pineapple Gojju' apart from 'Bisibele Bath', 'Shavige Paayasa', 'Sandige', 'Happala', Rice, 'Tomato Saaru', 'Mosuru' followed by a cup of 'Ice-cream'. Packaged water instead of regular tumblers.

Anjanapura probably had never seen such a huge gathering of people ever! And we were happy to receive them all who had made time to come a long way that too during a week day to bless us all. Thanks to all of the guests!

We took a good break for a couple of hours before the guests in the evening started to arrive. The colorful serial lights of green, white  & blue, dropping from the top of our building made it a wonderful sight! Had always thought of having such type of lighting whenever we constructed a home and that time had come! Thanks to the ever-ready beloved wife without whom this would not have happened!

Dinner was served by 7 PM onwards so that visiting guests had ample time to visit and get back home before it got too late for them.

The function concluded by around 10 PM. Most of us stayed back overnight at the house.


April 27, Saturday:

All of us got ready lazily by 8 in the morning. Everybody participated in cleaning the house. 'Punarpooje and Aarathi' was conducted at both the floors. We were all done with all the activities by 11 AM. We dumped as much belongings as possible and left back to respective homes by noon.

Thanks to all the relatives who helped us during this marathon 3 days of efforts, without whom it would not have been possible to conduct this event. Our wholehearted appreciations. 

Overall - Great 3 days of non-stop functions, people, food and merry making. And a whole lot of memories captured through pictures and videos shared below.

Samruddhi - Gruhapravesha Photos and Videos