It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a prayer. In India, a country that runs on the blessings of a million gods, every journey begins with many prayers. Be it superstition, religion, or just plain evidencebacked reason, everyone in India has their own special way of starting a new journey. Needless to say then that when Edward, our anchor and resident Indophile decided to hit the road on an EPIC road trip to discover everything India, he had to make the right start, an auspicious one In this very first episode of Indipedia, Edward Sonnenblick finds out from friends and strangers what makes for a great start and does everything he can right from a suryanamaskar to to breaking a coconut to devouring dahicheeni to ensure that his Indipedia journey takes off on the right note.
A word, a sound, and perhaps the most common symbol seen in everyday India, Om is particularly special to Edward because it is also his sons name Of course then he is curious enough to know what it really means to head out to find its true meaning in Indias spiritual capital Varanasi. What does Om mean Do you know As he navigates the ghats, gullies, and grand Temples of Indias Oldest City, Edward finds out that there is more than one answer to his question.
World over, India is synonymous with spice. And nowhere is that more relevant than at Khari Baoli in Old Delhi which wears the crown of being Asias largest spice market, or in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala where the spice plantations of today stand witness to a rich mercantile history that is two thousand years old. From Ayurvedic beauty treatments to the Sev Puri of Mumbai, Edward travels across the history and geography of India in this episode of Indipedia, to find out the secret to the popularity of India spices, masala marr kar.
A profession is a backbone of life. Every profession has its own roots and it requires years of expertise to excel in them. India has many unique professions which is handed over from one generation to another and Edward is on a mission to find these professions some unique some very amusing Professions he has never heard or seen in any other part of the world. In this episode, travel with our banjara Edward Sonnenblick as he investigates some of the dying Indian professions and undying spirit of India and our traditions.
In this episode of Indipedia, Edward travels to Kolkata to unearth the secrets of Shringara. A word that means 39decoration39, Shringara is one of the nine rasas of the Natya Shastra and is deeply embedded in Indian Culture. But what is it really And what is the meaning of the oft used Solah Shringara that has been part of popular culture since time immemorial Explore the enigma of the bindi, the nath, the mehendi and the sindoor which are commonplace for us Indians but which makes the Indian woman appear so fascinating to Edward and the world.
Were not making this up. Edward our American Born Desi Hero is a trueblue Hanuman Bhakt. So it was only natural that he try and understand his favourite Indian Bhagwan a little bit better, starting from how a devotee came to be given god status. Do you know how Or why is Hanuman worshipped with Oild and Tulsi Or even why Hanuman is Vermillion in colour. From the Akhadas of Amritsar to the ghats to Varanasi to celebrating Hanuman Jayanti with thousands of other followers at Indias Most prolific Hanuman Temple, Edward did it all as he collected one Hanuman story after the other and came away wiser
The food of India is incredibly varied, tastes and cuisines change almost in every pin code Religion, tradition, rituals and culture are important ingredients in the mix Where then does one begin the journey of understanding Indian food As with everything else in India, it is a journey into antiquity and we go back to the wisdom of the vedas and the basic classification of all food into Satvic, Rajasik and Tamasik In the ten years he has spent in India, our indophile Edward has adopted vegetarianism, and now he sets out to understand and try the SatvicÂ lifestyle
Fancying himself quite the sportsman, Edward decides to explore sports born in India, by actually playing each one He discovers, in the process, how some hugely popular board games like Chess and Ludo have evolved from their original purpose, and how sports like Kabaddi have a spiritual base. And as his travels take him through Rajasthan and Maharashtra, he not just discovers how challenging these sports are but also how each is rooted in the culture, customs and topography of the land.
In India and in Bollywood, there is a song that accompanies everything be it a mood, emotion, season, attribute, even the time of day. From the quintessential song and dance of the hero and heroine or Raag Bhairavi being played on a Sitar by the ghats of Varanasi or a resounding welcome to the rains with Raag Malhar on a Baansuri, music is the language most understood in India But there is more to Indian Music than what is commonly known. Fusing beautifully with the known sounds of the Sitar or the Harmonium or the Tabla are many musical instruments invented in India that you know the sounds of but have never seen The pungi, for example, or do you know what a Rudra Veena looks like Have you heard a maestro play a Jal Tarang He comes across the sacred origins of classical Indian music and tries to master the Sa Re Ga Ma, each note of which connects to a particular God In this episode of Indipedia, Edward emerges from the song and dance that is Bollywood to the unknown gems in Indian musical lineage, discovering instruments that are rare and an indelible part of our culture.
The world over, a door is just a door. But, as Edward has discovered on this journey, India is like no other place in the world, and the doors and doorways of India are like none other. Armed with sacred symbols and talismans, the doorways of India are not only beautiful and unique but keep all evil out and let wellmeaning visitors like Edward in. Who needs burglar alarms when you have Nimboo Mirchi But in this episode, Edward is out to decipher not just regular doors but all kinds the military gates of forts and old cities that take him into the past, the sacred doors of temples and stupas that take him into a sacrosanct world, commercial doorways that take him into shops and not to mention the many commemorative, memorial , shuttered and adorned doorways, phew Each door takes Edward into a different world. Indeed it can be said of India that no two doorways are the same. Dont believe us Look around.
Indian fabric and clothing is known the world over. The richness of our weaves, embellishments, colours and textures is unmatched. But the most extraordinary thing here is the concept of wearing bolts of seamless, unstitched cloth as a variety of different garments. Like an excited, curious child, Edward explores the world of Indian clothes, discovering its various forms and unearthing intriguing historicity.
It Happens Only In India a common refrain amongst us Indians, but most often we dont even realize the many tiny little things that can be attributed to being uniquely Indian Nowhere in the world are there shot glasses of chai called cutting chai, or a multitude of gods, goddesses, plants, animals, planets, objects being revered and worshipped. Have you ever wondered where the practice of eating paan started And how can we forget our very own home grown world renowned delivery management system of the Dabbawalas. In this episode of Indipedia, Edward sets out to find the stories and meaning behind that which happens only in India
If there is one complaint that Edward has about India, it is that this country is making him fat And its not just tasty, gheeladen thalis that are culprit but the maddeningly delicious plethora of street food that Indian streets are dotted with. Have a samosa, or two Or are you in the mood for some utterly butterly delicious pao bhaji Whatever it may be, Edward has a story to go along with it. Our man is not just interested in the eats on the streets but also in the masaledaar stories and histories that accompany them Did you know that Mumbais favourite Pao Bhaji is a stepchild of the American Civil War Or that the Bhel Puri is said to have caused a mutiny Or that the panipuri may have just been invented by Draupadi In this episode of Indipedia, Edward discovers all this and more as he eats his way across this land on Indipedia
Everywhere you look in India, you see examples of innovation and creativity that stem mostly from need, and sometimes, from passion. Edward has discovered that this phenomenon of cheap and chaloo innovation is called Jugaad. Fascinated by it, he turns Jugaadu himself as he goes to Saurashtra to eke out examples of reallife everyday Jugaad Other than common examples that bring a smile to our face like a car made into a mobile shop, a selfheating teakettle, a way of chopping onions that keeps the tears away, Edward finds some other examples of Jugaad that have had a deep impact on the lives of a larger democratic. A puttogether vehicle that over the last 50 years has become the lifeline of rural Gujarat, a miraculous refrigerator that runs without electricity and is a hit in the villages are only some examples in the treasure trove that is Jugaadu India. Travel to Gujarat with Edward and get inspired as he does, on this jugaadu episode of Indipedia.
31 July 2020
Travel, Human Interest