Sunday, November 23, 2014

Goa, Melaka and the Catholic Connection

The 17th exposition of the relics of St. Francis Xavier started yesterday. Wondering what that is?

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa

If you love visiting Goa and are a person who sees Goa beyond the beaches and the shacks then this is the best time of the year to visit Goa, cause Old Goa has gone all spiritual and festive and would have the same festal mood on till 4th January 2015. Amidst the meandering roads, still backwaters, old inherited villas and lush green farms is a small clearing in Old Goa where a beautiful church stands that dates back to the 17th century. Basilica of Bom Jesus is not only the symbol of Old Goa but is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. But apart from the being baroque architectural splendor this place hold a significant importance to Catholics. This basilica houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier.

St. Francis Xavier was a Roman Catholic missionary from Portugal who came to India in 1542 and went on to spread Christianity to Melaka, Malaysia and Japan. By the time he came to India, Christianity had already found a place in the public but he is considered to be the person who got Christianity its foothold in Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan. He died in 1552 and was initially buried on a beach in Shangchuan Island, China. In 1553 his body was brought back to Malacca and was buried on St. Paul’s Hill. In the same year it was brought to Goa and placed in the Missionary Church and later a statue was erected in Melaka at the burial site. When Basilica of Bom Jesus was completed the body was placed there, in 1605, still incorrupt. But in 1614 the right forearm was detached from the body and is now kept as a relic in Rome. 

St. Paul's Cathedral, Melaka

On my recent visit to Melaka, a shopkeeper at the St. Paul Cathedral had said that a couple of days after the Statue of St Francis Xavier was erected a heavy branch of a tree had fallen on the statue breaking the right forearm. And as a sign of the forearm being detached from the body, the statue was never repaired.

The Statue of St Francis Xavier on St Paul's Hill , Melaka (Photo Credits - Ragini Puri)

The rest of the body still remains in the Basilica. The relics are usually kept in a silver casket in the church and even after centuries the body hasn’t turned to dust. But once in every ten years it is displayed in a glass casket for people.

The Glass Casket at Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa

Okay, so now I am not going to sound like Wikipedia anymore but that is the exposition of the relics. So want to explore more in Goa, now would be the time!
Also people visiting Malaysia between 29th and 7th December, you would not want to miss the festivities of Feast of St Francis Xavier in Malacca.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blog To Feed A Child

India is a country where a thousand dreams die even without seeing the light of the day and only some are fulfilled because a big chunk of our society still forbids their kids from growing beyond the societal boundaries they were born in. And guess what, the fences of this section of society are some simple questions, “Padhega toh kamaega kya?” “Kamaega nahi toh khaega kya?” and “Padhega Kaise, Paise kya ped pe lage hain? (“If you study now where will money come from?” “If you don’t earn what will you eat?” “How will you study, money doesn’t grow on trees.”) Yes, we have come too far from where we had dropped down to. We are a superlatively rich and don’t lack in funds or resources, but poverty in India is still prominent and a lot of kids are hungry and refused the basic right of primary education because food trumps education in the fight for survival.

Yesterday, there was a session in my office about education of the less privileged kids. My Office, Deloitte USI Mumbai runs a small educational thread in its basement for the nearby slum kids. In the session our Office Head went on to tell us about how it had started. He said, initially to lure kids they came up with a plan – free food, and it worked. People started sending their kids to study because they would also get free food along with education. It got me thinking, why wasn’t free education enough? No matter how much we convince ourselves we are not a poor country the other side of the coin even if not seen, exists. And hunger is a great deal not just in our country but the whole world now. People who have seen Interstellar and mocked at the thought that led to the whole plot of the movie, think about it!

But a hungry child is a bigger issue than you can imagine. Think about this - endurance level for hunger is low and for children it is the lowest. Kids not only need enough food but food with enough nutrition to help their growth and development - mentally, physically and psychologically. If food is a luxury, nutritive food becomes a myth. Now if kids don’t get the right kind of food, their growth is affected drastically putting a huge question mark on the future generation.

But like I said, we don’t really lack in money or food. What is missing though is a system, an initiative, a will to make a difference. Fortunately a lot of organizations like Akshaya Patra are actively working on eliminating classroom hunger and giving a chance to a lot of dreams to survive and see the light. Food for kids not only works for the benefit of today but for shaping a better tomorrow. 'How' is what we will have to work at. For now I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda. What are you going to do?

P.S. - I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


 Wayang Kulit display in  Kuala lumpur, Malaysia 

Let the Shadows play

Play the game of love and war

History is not of just a day

It is all but stories galore.

-Vaisakhi Mishra

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Different Shade of Kuala Lumpur

Traditional Dancers at Saloma Bristo

Do you know what Kuala Lumpur stands for? How did Kuala Lumpur become one of Asia’s richest capital cities? Well frankly nor did I, at least not before my first ever visit to this magnificent cosmopolitan city.
Kuala Lumpur means ‘muddy confluence’ in Malay. The two rivers Klang and Gombak which flow through today’s Kuala Lumpur had led to a tin mining settlement back in 1857. Before that, KL was a village that hardly held any significance.  It was supposedly discovered and developed by a group of 87 Chinese miners and the leader of the Chinese community, Yap ah Loy came to be known as the founder of KL. The village then went through some very patchy fate including power handovers, racial out bursts and wrath of nature; but overcoming from all that, KL became the capital of the independent Federation of Malaya in 1957 and of Malaysia in 1963.
And guess what, all this information wasn’t from a history book or from a tourist guide at some landmark; it was an awesome musical show! Kuala Lumpur has high risers like KL Tower and PETRONAS Twin Towers and has a cultural blend that makes it the most pleasant and liberal Islamic Capital of the world, but at the same time people there haven’t forgotten the ‘MUD’ they came from (Mud - Tin). MUD was the name of the musical which ran for roughly 50 minutes but took us through the KL- the tiny miner’s hamlet to KL- the Capital of the Malay Kingdom.

It was one of the best musicals I have ever seen and the best in ages for sure; which reminds me of the main reason behind my article today. Malaysians love culture just like Indians love their regional diversity, Japanese their traditions, Europeans their history and Americans their companies. I was pleasantly surprised by the different culture themed shows at a lot of places – MUD being one of them. Thanks to Tourism Malaysia the gang of Bloggers from India (Manjulika, Ragini and I) could witness quite a few of the shows hosted in the city.

You could also dance with the performers at Saloma Bristo

Cultural Blend Show at Saloma Bristo – Everyday in the evening there is a one hour long show on the Malaysian native people, musics and dance. The start is pretty funky and you would think what is it all about but as the evening grows the beauty of the show does too and by the end you are a part of it whether you want it or not.

Performers at Songket

Malay Performers at Songket – Want to travel to some old Malay Village? Have your dinner here. The restaurant looks like some huge Malay House and in the courtyard is where the performances happen. Malay dance music is a perfect way to enjoy Malay food right? Be sure not to go there during public holidays though else you would only be having food and nothing else. (That happened with us and I actually asked a friend to send me a video of the place to understand what I had missed.)

The brilliant team of MUD

MUD – Our story of Kuala Lumpur was the best of the lot and should not be missed by anyone who loves plays and art. We had the opportunity to see the musical at City Centre in Merdeka square, next to the confluence of the rivers in the beautiful hall which was actually the community hall during early 20th century – you get the significance don’t you?
So when in Kuala Lumpur, look at the sky and the glimmer of the PETRONAS and take selfies there, but also be a part of the people and dance to the tunes of the local music!

The Picture Perfect end to Saloma Bristo's Evening with Manjulika and Ragini

P.S. - All pictures are personal.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fiery Nature

Sunset - Bramhaputra River from Umananda Island

The fiery spirit of Nature
Fading with the last glow;
Now Moon would sooth the sky
‘Cause it will be lit again tomorrow.
-Vaisakhi Mishra