Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Diwali

Wishing everyone out in blogosphere a very Happy Diwali!

Diwali is a festival of lights and as I write this, my home is all lit up. I've got diyas, tealight candles and some pretty lights on, along with normal tubelights.

There are a couple of mythological reasons behind Diwali. Mostly in North India, it is celebrated as the return of Lord Rama, back to Ayodhya after his 14 year banishment. Dusshera was the day he vanquished King Ravana and it took him the next two weeks or so to reach his home in Ayodhya. Hence the population of the city lit lamps all around their homes to welcome him. In the South, it is mostly celebrated as Naraka Chaturthi where Lord Krishna defeats the demon Narakasura. Wikipedia has some more details of how Diwali or Deepavali is celebrated across India and Nepal.

Usually we wake up before sunrise, and go to the prayer room. Then my mother (and now me) will put oil on everyone (minimum the hair, and maximum all over the body). Then bath and prayers where new clothes are given. After some coffee and breakfast, it's time to burst crackers. These crackers are supposed to dispel evil as well as let the Gods above us know that all is well in Earth. After this it's time go to the temple, take the blessings of the elders and followed by a scrumptious lunch. Then the oil bath in the morning along with waking up early makes you sleepy, so a siesta is in order. That pretty much sums up what we do in Diwali in our family.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Phew!! Finally…..All Ends Well.....

I guess the post heading says it all! We finally got our new home…

After looking high and low for about a month, we finally saw one last property on Saturday (October 03) and as soon as we were out of the place, DH decided this was it! I also liked the place, as did the kids and what sold it to us was the fact at 145 sq m (about 1560 sq feet), it was the largest Executive Apartment we had seen till date.

Then started all the fun! Once we were out, we went back home, got the chequebook and decided to pay them $1000 as a signing amount. Then while our agents were talking, we realized that while my seller (of the new home) wanted to move out only after Chinese New Year (Feb end), my buyer (of my current home) wanted to move in before Chinese New Year. There we were, stuff between these two! After going back and forth the whole day and me praying madly, on Sunday (October 04), this whole issue got resolved and we signed the Option to Purchase.

We also gotten our first appointment with HDB fixed on 19 Jan (my dad’s birthday and so hopefully a good day for us) and so the second appointment should be around 16 March. This will give us only around 10 days to renovate the place as we need to hand over the keys to the new owners on the second appointment.

Here’s my wish list of what I want to get done in the new place. Out of all these, what I will actually get done is to be seen.
  • Make a new room where the dead space is there.
  • Make a vanity and add a shower cubicle to the common toilet and change the toilet bidet.
  • Add some storage space in the master toilet and change the toilet bidet.
  • Replace all the veneers in the built-in furnitures and fixures
  • Put my existing store room storage in the new store room
  • Add ceiling fans in all rooms (hall, dining area, four bedrooms)
  • Change the veneers in the kitchen and redo the drawers. I have not yet seen the drawers in the kitchen, but I want pull out drawers and also make a small pantry.
  • Add some storage shelves in the balcony where I can keep the cleaning and laundry supplies.
  • Buy a new bed and cupboards for the new bedroom
  • Add electrical sockets in the new room.
Here are some pictures of the new place: 

This is the view from the front door. The small patch of green that you see at the very end is where the new guest bedroom is going to be.

This is a view of the Master Bedroom. The bed which is built in is a queen-sized bed. We now have to get used to sleeping in that after years in a King sized bed.

This is going to be the Pilot's room. He has chosen yellow as his room colour.  It does look like a boy's room. I'll try to get a better picture the next time I go to the place.

This is the bedroom that the Princess has chosen for herself. We want the kids to have a say in their rooms, down to the paint colour. She predictably has chosen pink as her room colour.
This space is where we intend to construct a guest room. This space meant that we did not have to sacrifice our dining area to make the guest room.

This is the kitchen with the common toilet just off the entrance. I liked the curved breakfast nook but am not too fond of the veneer colour scheme. If time permits, that's gonna go.

Last, this is the service balcony. I plan to make some storage space in the far wall near the washing machine to store laundry  and cleaning supplies. Maybe something from my current home could go there.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Dusshera!

Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Dusshera! Navratri and Dushhera is celebrated all over India, Nepal and the Hindu parts of Bangladesh with great festivity and gusto! This festival, which comes at the end of the nine nights of Navratri is a day where good triumphs over evil. Navratri is celebrated all over India and is a celebration of the Mother Goddess. This celebration takes the form of keeping Kollu in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, dancing the Garba and Dandiya in Gujarat and Durga Puja in West Bengal.

The ninth day of Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati who is the Goddess of Learning. On this day, you would keep your books and other implements of work (like plough for a farmer, needles for a tailor etc) and pray over them. You could also not use them on that day. On Dusshera, you had to take out the books and implements from the altar and use them. When we were in school, Saraswati Puja would invariably come during exams, which meant we could not study on that day. I would always ponder on the irony of the situation – on the one day of the year, when my parents would not want me to be near books would be the day I actually needed to study!!

Dusshera is also called Vijay Dashami, which literally means victory on the tenth day. There are many legends for Dusshera – the most popular one is from Hindu Mythology which concers Lord Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. The nine days of navratri is supposed to be the days when he fought the evil king Ravana of Lanka who had kidnapped Sita and kept her in his kingdom of what is today known as Sri Lanka. On the tenth day, Lord Rama finally defeats and kills King Ravana. In the northern part of India, there are huge communal Ram Leelas which enact the battle with the culmination on Dusshera of the victory of Lord Rama over King Ravana. You can read more about this story as well as other mythological tales attributed to Navratri and Dusshera here. These include stories about Durga and the demon Mahisasura and the Pandavas and the Kauravas. This link will also let you know how different states in India celebrate this festival.

Dusshera or Vijaya Dashimi is also traditionally the day for starting formal studies and/or any new course. This day is called Vidyarambham and when my kids were around two years old, we did this in Mumbai so that they could start formal schooling when they came back to Singapore and turned 2.5 years. I also remember starting music lessons when I was young on this day. I did think of starting carnatic music for the Princess today, but decided to leave it for another year.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Home Hunting Updates

Ah well, what do I write - we still have not managed to seal the deal for our new home. We're two weeks down of the four weeks plus 2 weeks deal that we have with our buyer to buy a new home.

We've seen some - ones we like are either too over priced (the cash over valuation component) or else we don't like something about the house. We did see one that we both liked - everything seemed perfect - location, floor, condition of the house etc. But the seller's agent (the seller is supposed to be in Australia) didn't have the valuation of the house and says that he has gotten offers for it. Now this is a risk we do not want to take as we will get a loan only for a maximum of 90% of the valuation of the house. If we agree to the rate and the valuation turns out to be much less than the price, then we would have to fork out all that extra money in cash - which is not the most prudent thing to do in this economy.

Please, please pray for us that we can buy the home we like and not have to settle for something just because we need to close a deal!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweeties!!

Today the Pilot and the Princess turn 6! I can't believe how time has flown - I can still see them as new borns! The only thing I wish for my darlings is that they have a life that is extremely fulfilling and that they achieve happiness in whatever they do.