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  Namaste from India  
  Where I live  
  My school  
  Divali starts tonight  
  Activities I enjoy  
  My birthday and a trip to the market  
  Gandhi was a peaceful leader  
  Holi is here!  
  My dad got a new job  
  Summer holidays are almost here  
  The Taj Mahal  
  My Cousin's wedding in Rajasthan  
  Today is Raksha Bandhan  
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  August 28, 2007
Today is Raksha Bandhan

My brother is going back to school tomorrow, but I’m glad he was here today for Raksha Bandhan, the day when sisters give their brothers “ties of protection” or rakhi -- special bracelets made of colorful threads with a small cotton pom-pom in the middle. The bracelet symbolizes a sister’s wish that her brothers be protected by the gods, and in turn, brothers promise to take care of their sisters. Friendship bracelets can be made of lots of things, and this year I gave Ravi one that is woven with tie-dyed threads to make it colorful. In Punjab, brothers give them to sisters as well. I still have mine on. It usually lasts until the next year when I will receive a new one!
A Rakhi
- from a sister to a brother

Raksha Bandhan is a very special tradition. There is a story of a princess a who sent a
rakhi to the Mughal emperor. When her kingdom was attacked and she asked for help, he immediately sent troops to protect her. Sometimes, you can also give rakhi to friends and people you are not related to. When India was fighting for Independence, rakhi was used to show unity. It is a powerful symbol and can given to anyone that you want the gods to protect, and who in turn will pledge to protect you.

  July 21, 2007
My cousin’s wedding in Rajasthan

My cousin Suraj got married today. During the main part of the wedding ceremony, Suraj tied a tali around the bride's neck. Then they took seven steps facing north, and said their vows.  Then they were sprinkled with holy water. I would have liked to have gotten sprinkled, too, because it was a really hot day!

Mehendi hand painting is often done to decorate the hands for special occasions. Is it a very special ancient folk art in Rajasthan, and is done for both brides and grooms. The day before the wedding began, my mom and sister joined the wedding party to have our palms and feet are decorated with henna. A henna paste is squeezed from a tube and applied with a small brush. The designs can get really detailed, and look a lot like fancy cake decorations, and will last for weeks without fading.

  June 25, 2007
The Taj Mahal

My family and I just got back from Agra, where we saw the Taj Mahal. We visited the famous monument on three different days, so that we could see it in different lights. Once day we were there at sunrise, when it was misty and the soft light hits the pearl white marble, making it seem to float. We also got to walk the grounds by moonlight. This was my favorite visit. To preserve the historic site, cars are not allowed within 2km of the Taj Mahal, so we rode in a carriage and walked back.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor, the Shah Jahan, in memory of his favorite wife after she died. The remarkable symmetry and geometry of the structure and gardens have led some to believe that it is the eighth Wonder of the World. It is certainly a world treasure that people living in India are very proud of. I am glad that I finally got to see it!

I like to travel with my family. We have been to several places in Northern India, to visit relatives and make pilgrimages. Someday I hope to see the south of India, such as the blue mountains in Tamil Nadu, and perhaps travel outside of India to other countries as well! Next year, my parents are planning for us to visit
Varanasi, another important pilgrimage site along the Ganges River.

  May 15, 2007
Summer holidays are almost here

India is warm all year round, but in the summer, it is very hot in India. Sometimes the temperatures in Delhi can go over 38 degrees Celsius [100 degrees Fahrenheit]. In the desert it can get as hot as 49C [120F]! Summer holidays are in June and July -- June is the hottest month of the year, so it’s a good thing we don’t have to go to school! The rainy monsoon season arrives in July, and by September the eastern parts of the country sometimes experience cyclones and extreme flooding. But we need monsoons to bring India heavy rains necessary for crops and for our water supply.

Monsoon season

I hope that we get to travel somewhere when school gets out, and before the rains begin. I love to see new places. India is one of the oldest civilizations on earth. There are many different groups of people in India, each with their own language, style of dress, cuisine and customs. I can see these differences when I travel from state to state. I think this makes India a very interesting place to live.
  April 22, 2007
My dad got a new job

My father just got a new job as a Quality Assurance engineer for a company in India that produces satellite communications equipment. He graduated from Delhi College of Engineering. The company is a division of a larger corporation that has offices and manufacturing plants all over the world.

My mother works, too. She makes travel arrangements for foreign business executives. Most of her day she is speaking English or Hindi, and she is on the phone a lot. At home, we speak Punjabi, the regional language that both of my parents grew up with.

When I grow up I want to be a software engineer like my dad, and run a software engineering firm so I can travel all over the world!
March 3, 2007
Holi is here!

Today is Holi, one of my favorite holidays, because we burn bonfires to say goodbye to the old year. Tomorrow, starting at sunrise, we will wear old clothes and throw colored powder and water on each other to scare away evil spirits. It is the end of the winter season, and we are welcoming spring and bringing in the new year. It is a full moon tonight!

  February 12, 2007
Gandhi was a peaceful leader

In school we are learning more about the History of India. Our assignment this week is to describe an important person to India’s history. I chose Mahatma Gandhi. He is sometimes referred to as the father of our nation. He did not believe in violence, but he believed that India should be independent of British rule. So he lead peaceful protest campaigns that inspired millions of citizens to join him, and resulted in India’s freedom, declared August 15, 1947.

My friend Padma chose to write her report about the
Shah Jahan. Before the British, India was ruled by Muslims, known as Muhghals. The Shah Jahan was one of the last Mughal Emperors to rule India. During his rule many famous landmarks were built, such as the Taj Mahal, the Friday Mosque and the Red Fort.
  January 25, 2007
My birthday and a trip to the market

My teacher says I should practice descriptive writing, so I will start with telling you about my trip to the market today on my birthday.

Today I was in Old Delhi, at the market with my best friend Padma. My mom wanted me to buy some channa (chickpeas) and cumin (a spice used in curry) to make chitchkee (vegetable curry), my favorite dish.

In Old Delhi, the streets are narrow, crowded and noisy! Everyone wants to sell you something. You can find all kinds of shops here – goldsmiths, silk traders, and embroiderers. You can find lots of fresh vegetables, grains, meat and spices, and smell the fragrant coriander and cumin seeds. The barrels of pickles, eggplants, cauliflower, peppers, lemons, carrots, saffron, chilis and bananas make every stall look so colorful.

Once I had bought everything on my mom’s list, it cost 100 rupees and 10 paise. My mom gave me 120 rupees (a 100 rupee note and a 20 rupee coin). 1 rupee is 100 paise, so I now have 19 rupees and 90 paise, so we could buy chaat (a snack).

We took a rickshaw ride then bought fresh mango, wrapped in banana leaves, from a cart on the street. When we’re done, we just threw the leaves away. It’s better for the environment than paper napkins or plates!


A market in old Delhi

Then, when Padma and I got home, I asked my mom what we were going to have for dinner. She said “
Chitchkee, Tandoori chicken and chapattis”. Mmmmm! And for dessert, gulab jamun! It’s a fried doughnut soaked in sweet syrup – yum! The only problem is that your fingers get really sticky, so it is good that we have it at the end of the meal. I like to drink lassi (a drink made from yogurt) since it helps cool down your mouth after all the hot food, but my parents drink hot, sweet, milky tea.

One thing I should mention – we do not eat beef. Cows are holy and we only raise them to produce milk. Some believe it is good luck to touch the head of a cow. There are over 200 million cows wandering around the streets and villages, and we are forbidden to disturb them. Many traffic jams are caused by cows wandering onto the road!

We don’t use knives and forks; we eat with bread or our fingers. Also, we eat with our right hand. It is bad manners to use the left, because it is considered unclean (traditionally the left hand is the one you use when using the bathroom).

We have some leftover
chapatis, that we will have stuffed with cheese for breakfast, or with Dhal (thick lentil soup) for lunch tomorrow.

My uncle gave me a hand carved chess set made of sandalwood for my birthday. The fragrant smell fills my room, and I love the smooth silky feel of each polished piece. My sister does not like to play chess much, but she played with me today because it was my birthday.

How is that for descriptive writing?

November 30, 2006
Activities I enjoy

I like watching movies with my friends. Indian musicals and American pop films are my favorites. My sister and I sometimes meet our friends at this theater after school on Fridays. A really good movie in India has lots of songs and dancing. India makes a lot of movies, more than they make in Hollywood, which is why we have the nickname “Bollywood”.

Bollywood posters

I love watching football on TV. My favorite player is David Beckham, who was born in London and has played for England and Spain. He is a mid-fielder. Pele, from Brazil, is one of the greatest football players of all times. He scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches during his 25 year career, 77 of them in international matches. He is also one of the few players in history to score goals in 2 different world cups. Someday, I hope that India is able to host the World Cup, and that I can see a live match at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Delhi.

I have learned to play cricket at school, but I do not enjoy it as much as football. Cricket is the most popular sport in India, but I think it is kind of boring because it takes too long – not non-stop action like football! A match can last six or more hours a day for up to five days. I think they take so long because there are too many breaks for tea.

I am also a very good chess player. I play in tournaments a lot, and am a member of the Chess Club in school.

Cricket match
  October 13, 2006
Divali starts tonight!

Tonight is the start of Divali, the Festival of Lights. Like always, we visited relatives and gave gifts to each other today. I received a handmade wooden pachisi set made by my uncle. Our house is decorated with little clay oil lamps called diyas and lots of candles, to pay tribute to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. My grandmother says that the old Indian myths talk of a demon that held the world in darkness, and Lakshmi is the goddess who defeated the demon and brought light back to the world. We also light firecrackers tonight to frighten away evil spirits. I do not particularly like the special oil bath that we have to take, but I like visiting all of our relatives, and exchanging gifts and sweets. My mother, grandmother and sister have decorated the threshold at our front door with rangolis, or floor paintings, using colored powder.

My family is Hindu. Most of India is Hindu, meaning that we practice Hinduism, a religion that originated in India and is one of the oldest religions in the world. In Hinduism there are many gods and goddesses. Each god has a favorite animal. Therefore, animals are very important, and cows are sacred. People will touch the forehead of a cow for good luck. Elephants are decorated because they represent one of the Gods, Ganesh. Most families choose one special god to pray to. Our special god is Vishnu, the Preserver.


A rangoli and candles
  September 20, 2006
My school

Namaste! I’m going to tell you about my school. The school day starts with an assembly. We sing the national anthem and the teacher reads out notices. Then we go inside for lessons. We study Hindi, English, maths, science, social studies, and health and hygiene. After lunch we play sports and games. This is my favorite part of the day. It’s the only time when we don’t have to wear our school uniforms!

Our school playground does not have any grass and trees. We use the grounds for playing tagging and running games. Our favorite game is
Kabaddi, a game of tag.

My favorite subject is science. A famous scientist that I admire is Professor Raman, who discovered that light scatters when it passes through clear material (known as the Raman effect), and won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930.
  Sept 14, 2006
Where I live

Namaste! I’d like to tell you about where we live. My father used to live with my grandparents, uncle (his brother), aunt and cousins on my grandfather’s wheat farm in Wazir Bhullar, Punjab. Just like most farms in India, it is not a very large farm. In India, you live with all of your relatives. My father moved to Delhi to go to college and get a job. When my grandfather died, and my cousins left for the University, our grandmother came to live with us. In India, children take care of their elders.

We live in an apartment, on the fourth floor. My grandmother used to share a room with my sister and me. After my brother moved away, my grandmother moved into his room, and now my sister and I are the only ones sharing a room. We eat in the common room, and here we also have a television set. When there is a football or cricket match on TV, we always invite our neighbors to watch. Some of them do not have a TV.

In the evenings after dinner, we sometimes play chess or Pachisi [in the US it is called Parcheesi]. Did you know that Pachisi has been played in India for over 1,200 years? Some believe that the game of chess began in India as well.

Time for school. Namaste, for now!
  August 31, 2006
Namaste from India

Namaste! (nah MAH stay) My name is Tanvi Gupta and I am a CKidZ Ambassador.
Namaste means ‘hello’ in Hindi, the national language of my country, India. I speak Hindi, English and Punjabi, a regional language spoken in Delhi. 

I am 11 years old. My birthday is January 25. I love watching movies and football (also known as soccer). I like to go and see things, like on school field trips and vacations with my family. Someday I hope to visit other countries I’ve read about, like France, China and Brazil. When it is my turn to use the family computer, I like to send emails to my friends and my penpals.

I live with my
mathaji (my mom), my older sister, Jazpreet, my pithaji (my dad), and my dhahdi (my grandmother, my father’s mother).

My older brother, Ravi is 17 years old, and this year started going to Chundigarh University, in Punjab. He wants to be an architect, and design cool buildings. He lives at school because it is nearly 200 miles away. I miss him, because he always plays chess with me. The last time he was home, I finally beat him 3 games in a row. I can hardly wait until Ravi’s next school break to see if I can do it again……

Did you know that “namaste” also means goodbye? Namaste for now, and I will come back to write again soon!

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