Category Archives: Life in India

Happy Sankranti With Some Home-Made Halwyache Dagine

This is a repost of my post on Dying art of making halwyache dagine ( Or jewelry made out of sugar beads). Its traditional to make them during Sankranti festival. Read on to get a glimpse in this unique Indian tradition and then go on make some til-gul ladoos (ground sesame seeds ladoos)!

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Halwa or sugar beads are made during Sankranti Festival. They are tiny white and orange/yellow colored sweet balls with tiny spikes on them.They are usually served along with til gul.

They also have another use – in making jewelry – called as Halwyache dagine or jewelry made of halwa. Per Maharashtrian custom, every  newly wed couple is adorned in black clothes and halwa jewelry on the first Sankranti post marriage. There are a few folks who specialize in this jewelry but with modern times most folks don’t want to indulge in these activities and hence the art is declining.

My cousin who got married in April last celebrated her first Sankranti last weekend as a newly wed. Her mom ( as in my aunt) didn’t want to buy her a store-bought jewelry set. She had learnt the art of making these dagine when she was younger and was determined to make a unique set for my cousin. We are a family of DIY’ers 🙂

To give some context, the jewelry is made from the sugar beads. Its threaded together or glued on a flexible cardboard base. There is no ‘hole’ to thread the beads, so essentially you have to make the beads have enough ‘spikes’ so that when they are threaded between 4-5 strands of thread, they are held in place and don’t fall out.

And making the sugar beads is not easy. It has to be made by constantly stirring sugar syrup on a low heat around a central seed ( sesame seed, poppy seeds, sago, lentils or pumpkin seeds). The seed of choice is based on how small or large you want the sugar bead for the jewelry. Smaller ones are used for necklace strings  and bangles while large ones are used in pendants, mang tikka etc. You can’t stir with a spoon as then you don’t have control on the spikes so you have to stir using your finger tips. Its tedious, laborious and of course cause blisters on finger tips due to constant stirring. But it results in a crisp halwa that is sweet and that stores for a long time.

It took my aunt more than a month to make the beads and then string them together. She was helped by her mom who was very excited to do this for her granddaughter. This is love personified. Very few people even know how to make this and even fewer practice it. I still recall the look of pride on their faces as we admired the hand made dagine during my visit to Mumbai. Doing this with full time job and managing a household is commendable!!

Few pictures of what they made- aren’t they gorgeous!

< Photos are taken by another professional which my cousin shared with me>

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And my lovely cousin adorning them:

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Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into unusual Indian traditions 🙂

California Dreamin’!!

Tiny Lot is becoming a lot more tinier. We are moving to San Francisco. Soon.

Lot of questions that we have been asked since we announced it to our group of friends and at work.

Didn’t we just move to India?

Do we hate Hyderabad?

Do we love US more than India?

Why San Francisco and not Redmond?

For the record, we don’t hate Hyderabad or our life here. Infact, Vipul and I think there is no other city in India we could have moved to and have a good life. We can afford a large house fairly close to work; have a cook/maid/driver and can go to any good restaurant/pub in less than half an hour. The city is mostly safe. A luxury by Mumbai or Delhi standards. Sure the weather is a challenge in April, May and October but with most of days being spent cooped up in air conditioned office it barely makes a difference.

Then why leave this all and move?

We moved here to be closer to family. Both sets of parents visited us fairly often when we first moved. But over time they visit only if Varun is not well or if we need help. They don’t really want to uproot their lives and move here. Also, due to our fast paced work schedule, we barely get much time to spend with them when they are here. Even when we visit them, Vipul is glued to the phone/email/laptop.

Also,we miss US – the open parks and gardens, libraries, museums, trails etc. I know lot of people who miss these aspects of life in US. They get hang of everything else – products, traffic, commute, social commitments, dressing etc but this is something we reminisce about.

But most importantly, we are expecting another baby and I want to deliver the baby in US.

Varun had a natural un-medicated birth with the aid of midwives. It was a wonderful birthing experience  (as far as birth stories go) and I want the same again. I don’t want to go with traditional OB model but go with midwives. Certified trained midwives operating out of a hospital is not possible here. Plus the rate of Caesarean birth is very high.

The care offered by midwives in my first pregnancy is incomparable to what I am getting here now. The hygiene level, the empathy, the long wait times for appointments, scans etc is not up to the par.

Why SF and not Redmond?

We were actually all set to move to Redmond. We both had offers from our teams. We reached out to our midwives and set an appointment with them. We had started looking for a house. We knew which daycare to send Varun too.

Everything was lined up, when Vipul got an offer that he could not resist from Sony.

Luckily Sony offers a comprehensive relocation package on par with Microsoft.

So, here we are off to Sunny California.

Excited!

We are very excited to move to SF.

New city, old friends, new challenges.

Cant wait to be there!

The Contemporary Paan

The display

Dimmy -the paan palace has been a unique experience for me in Hyderabad. Having paan as a dessert in an ice-cream parlor like setup. Clean, hygienic with sit in option and no dubious folks giving you the looks!

A typical pan shop

Paan , usually eaten after a meal is both a digestive and a mouth-freshener. Its available at nearly every street corner in paan shops. It has traditionally been ‘frowned’ upon in my family. Kids from ‘good’ families don’t eat paan – that’s what grandma used to say. It was mainly to do with the ‘not-up-to-any-good’ people who hang out at ‘paan-shops‘ than to do with its ill-health effects. She used to give us a home-made version with coconut, gulkaand and tuti-frootis. So, as grown up I love paan. I don’t like the ones with tobacco or areca nut but the sweet kinds.

Ice Pan in Making

This paan palace in Jubilee Hills hence is the perfect contemporary version. We stepped in without hesitation. Chocolate paan, Meenakshi paan, Date- paan, kulfi-paan tempted us from within the glass display. Colorful, ready and inviting. There was a counter with assorted toppings (desiccated coconut, flavoured supari, nuts etc to make a custom paan). We asked for an ice – paan ( a Gurgaon – Delhi area speciality) and it was freshly made for us. Shaved ice filled in paan with typical paan toppings of gulkand, sweet supari and coconut. On a summer evening the generous helping of rose petals, coconut and ice are perfect end to a meal.

Ready to eat in silver foil

The shop is set up like a typical roadside paan- bedi shop with cigars, cigarettes and even chocolates. They also have shaved ice in classic kachi kairi and kala khatta flavors – which we will probably try next time.

We skipped dessert one evening and instead had  2- 3 types of sweet and dessert like paan.

Suparis on the counter

That’s going to be our new routine -at least till the novelty wears off!

Enjoying The Spring Garden

This past weekend we were in Lonavla, to celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday. My brother, sister-in-law, my parents and my sister-in-law’s parents gathered at Vipul’s parents house in Lonavla. His uncle and aunt joined us as well.

Mom loves flowers and it was perfect timing as our garden was in bloom. The air was perfumed with their fragrance as we played with Varun on the lawn. He loved sitting out playing in the shade and watering the plants.

I captured the blooms so my mom could enjoy this virtually and continue celebrating her birthday! Hope you enjoy them as much as she did. P1070747

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Ornage Hibiscus Jasmine Red Hibiscus White Lilies P1070702 Krishna Kamal Betel Leaf vine Yellow Trumpet Flower? Calla Lily? Yellow Hibiscus Pink Rose Blush Aboli Yellow Ixora Pink Madhumalti Yellow Rose Bunch of white roses

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend with your family, just like we did!

Holi Hai!

Let me go and play

We had a fun day today with friends, colors, bhang and Biryani! We had DJ providing music, rounds of snacks and thandai and loads of colorful water being splashed.The kids loved spraying with water pistols and chasing each other. Not too many words, just a few pictures to capture the colorful occasion.

Hope you have a colorful, fun-filled Holi!

Holi hai bhai holi hai

Dance, Colors, DJ and Bhaang

Stop spraying water on me

Vipul and Praveen sporting a big smile

Drenched beyond recognition

Kids enjoying themselves

Dying Art of Hand Made Halwyache Dagine ( Jewelry made out of sugar beads)

Sugar beads

Halwa or sugar beads are made during Sankranti Festival. They are tiny white and orange/yellow colored sweet balls with tiny spikes on them.They are usually served along with til gul.

They also have another use – in making jewelry – called as Halwyache dagine or jewelry made of halwa. Per Maharashtrian custom, every  newly wed couple is adorned in black clothes and halwa jewelry on the first Sankranti post marriage. There are a few folks who specialize in this jewelry but with modern times most folks don’t want to indulge in these activities and hence the art is declining.

My cousin who got married in April last celebrated her first Sankranti last weekend as a newly wed. Her mom ( as in my aunt) didn’t want to buy her a store-bought jewelry set. She had learnt the art of making these dagine when she was younger and was determined to make a unique set for my cousin. We are a family of DIY’ers 🙂

To give some context, the jewelry is made from the sugar beads. Its threaded together or glued on a flexible cardboard base. There is no ‘hole’ to thread the beads, so essentially you have to make the beads have enough ‘spikes’ so that when they are threaded between 4-5 strands of thread, they are held in place and don’t fall out.

And making the sugar beads is not easy. It has to be made by constantly stirring sugar syrup on a low heat around a central seed ( sesame seed, poppy seeds, sago, lentils or pumpkin seeds). The seed of choice is based on how small or large you want the sugar bead for the jewelry. Smaller ones are used for necklace strings  and bangles while large ones are used in pendants, mang tikka etc. You can’t stir with a spoon as then you don’t have control on the spikes so you have to stir using your finger tips. Its tedious, laborious and of course cause blisters on finger tips due to constant stirring. But it results in a crisp halwa that is sweet and that stores for a long time.

It took my aunt more than a month to make the beads and then string them together. She was helped by her mom who was very excited to do this for her granddaughter. This is love personified. Very few people even know how to make this and even fewer practice it. I still recall the look of pride on their faces as we admired the hand made dagine during my visit to Mumbai. Doing this with full time job and managing a household is commendable!!

Few pictures of what they made:

Mangalsutra Necklace and mangalsutra More bangles and arm bands Another necklace

And my lovely cousin adorning them:

Neha in Dagine

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into unusual Indian traditions 🙂

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