Happiness Index! How to measure it?

In his book Blue Zones of Happiness, Author Dan Buettner, NYT Best selling author analyses the reasons for some to be happy despite the difficulties! IMG_20171022_081902Like Alejandro Zúñiga, of Costa Rica, having had a tough money less life, with a $8 in pocket, he refuses to believe when his close friend, who invariably jokes with him, tells him ‘he won a Million Dollar Lottery!’ But it was True but what was more True is ‘he promptly dispends with all the money to Philanthrophy, his friends who helped him in poverty and he is back to Square 1.. A poor happy Costa Rican again!’

Buettner says, being a Happy Danish or a Singaporean is easy as all welfare measures are already taken care of,  but being a happy  Costa Rican or African or Indian, is an Attitude!  Where,  some develop an attitude to be happy, despite all adversities!

My experience in Nigeria, in Kenya and Tks to my daughter, Sharmi in Jbrg Now , in South Africa, has taught me many lessons from the natives.. “Despite adversities Be Happy!” Only people who have lived with them will know what I am talking about!

I have seen CEOs of Citi Bank in Nigeria borrowing on the 20th of the month, as they don’t have that habit of Saving! They enjoy the very moment whereas despite Millions of Savings, many Indians, I have come across, live a very very unhappy Life!

I have spent all my money in Travelling around the world and my daughters too strongly feel Travelling and meeting different people, learning different Culture is a Happy way of Life and it’s an Education by ltself!

Yesterday we attended  a festival dedicated to the power and promise of WORDS in every incarnation: written, spoken and sung – informing, questioning, entertaining and enlightening – imagining and inspiring a better World!

This year’s title ‘Why the World…’ had invited artists and audiences to finish the question as they may… the challenge and the joy… why is it at all?

WORDS 2017 is the inaugural edition of an annual festival that brings multiple disciplines together to examine the World of WORDS and their profound universal influence:

From Kids Book Reading by Martin / Malaika and the Angel to a Kathakalli by Arjun and Odissi by  Ms. Varun were not only educative but truly a Day of Happiness in the vast stretches of a beautiful Vineyard!

Worth its money as we met Dilips who specializes in Indian Studies at the University to a French couple on an assignment to Africa and how they fell in  Love for this land and its people! 


Happiness Index is a Frame of our Mind and it cannot be judged by Dan Buettner however great he may be!

Relax and be Happy, as our Scriptures say “Everyone of us is Basically Happy and no need for us to CREATE AN UNHAPPY SITUATION, WHEREVER WE MAY BE!”



Happy Deepavali, saying with Flowers!

Jacaranda Tree
Jacaranda Tree

This is the season for the Jacaranda Flowers in South Africa and Celeberations of Deepavali can’t be more Colourful!

We are Jolly Good Fellows
We are Jolly Good Fellows

My elder daughter Charu joined us at Jbrg on a short trip to make it more memorable as, once Children have their own families and settled abroad, getting together happens once in a Blue Moon! It is indeed a great time for us and we wish all our Well Wishers:

Charu Sarasa Sharmi

A Very Happy Deepavali and Sweet Memories too! Charu plays a Special Do Re Me on this Joyous Occasion!

God be with all of us for Ever!

Birthday on a Bullock Cart!

Birthdays, especially in recent times, have to be compulsorily made memorable! Otherwise Marriages can get broken! I don’t know when we were young,  we ever remembered our own Birthdays, leave alone others! But if taken in the Right Spirit, it’s Fun indeed, especially if you have preserved those moments in a Cloud!

I remember my wife’s Birthday on a Bullock Cart in Siem Reap, as Asia’s biggest Fresh Water Lake, Tonle Sap was overflowing in October Rains and the only way we could reach the Steamer was either to Swim or by a Bullock Cart! 

Angkor Wat was Sarasa’s 60th Birthday Gift and can’t imagine a more Memorable architectural Wonder than this!Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Ellora is a Lifetime Dream for us and the Birth day at Ellora Kailasanthar Temple and the visit to Taj Mahal at Aurangabad is still fresh in my memories!Ellora Kailasanthar Temple

Built by Azam Shah, son of Aurangazeb Bibi Ka Maqbara

Latest Birthday bash  Yesterday,  at my younger Daughter’s Residence at Jbrg is most memorable as nothing like celebrating a birthday with Grandkids, showering affection through Cakes and Champagne!

Sharmi Making Cupcakes

Ultimately what matters most is

‘Live Every Moment with Happiness and Laughter  as if we are Born Just Now Care Free!’ 

Feeding the Greedy Goose!

Feeding the Greedy Goose

Zoo Lake is one of Johannesburg’s most popular outdoor spaces and certainly one of the safest, particularly over weekends. It’s Fun to walk around the lake, Feed the Greedy Goose, see Grandkids bike without Fear and relax with a Beer and Snacks at Moyo Restaurant!

Zoo Lake

A row on the lake or a fun filled picnic with Family and you Cd easily make a memorable Sunday of it.

Biko riding the Bike

On the first weekend of the month there is the ‘artists under the sun’ art market, which draws the crowds.

Jbrg Zoo Lake

Probably the most interesting aspect about Zoo Lake is found in its history. The founders of Johannesburg made a gift of the Zoo and Zoo Lake to the city under the condition that they were to remain open to people of all races. This was as far back as 1904 when, despite the fact that this was before apartheid, blacks and whites in South Africa were living separate lives.

Zoo Lake Gardens
Feeding the Greedy Goose
Zoo Gardens

Originally part of the Sachsenwald plantation, thick with trees, Zoo Lake has been used for picnics, riding, hunting and a place to house wild animals since it began its life as a park. The manmade lake was first investigated as a possibility in 1906 and today the large island in its centre is a breeding ground for a number of birds.

Its a few minutes from my daughter’s Residence and we look forward to these Sunday morning Socialising quite Eagerly!

Significance of Navarathri Festival

Navarathri 2017 @Shenbagam
Navarathri 2017 @Shenbagam

“Yada Yada hi darmasya klanirbhavathi Bharatha, abdyuthanam adharmasya, thathathmanam Swayamvaham” says Lord Krishna! “Whenever Dharma is being Challenged, I appear to destroy the Evil Forces to Reestablish Dharma! “says the Lord!

Kolam by Shenbagam RESIDENT
Kolam by Shenbagam RESIDENT

Our Scriptures believe that by dedicated upavasam and adhering to prescribed Rituals, we can win over any obstacles in our life!

Kolu @Shenbagam 2017
Kolu @Shenbagam 2017

Navarathri is probably the only Upavasa period recommended for a continuous period of 10 Days and Nights for all Indians to invoke the Blessings of the Goddesses Durga, Laxmi and Saraswathi to attain our own inner purification  and happiness!

Daily Pujas
Daily Pujas

In most parts its the Ladies who undertake such a rigorous penance and pray to the Goddesses to safeguard from the  evil forces around their atmosphere!

Kolu @Shenbagam 2017
Kolu @Shenbagam 2017

In some North Indian states on the Vijayadasami day it is still celebrated as Victory of Dharma as Ramavatar over Evil incarnation Ravana, called Ramlila!

1834 Ramlila @Benares
1834 Ramlila @Benares

We can see the Ramlila Celeberations photo of Benares of 1834 in Victoria Museum! 

In our own Shenbhagam Senior Citizens home, the atmosphere is one of unimaginable Divinity with Ladies sincerely decorating the Kolus, talented Senior Citizens doing Artistic Kolams and Pujas in the mornings to Divine Music from Hindustani to Carnatic  in the Evenings!

Hindustani Music by Suresh Phatki
Sadhgun Aithal on Mandolin

All such events are expected to bring us an inward Transformation which is beautifully described by Thiruvalluvar :

“அழுக்காறு அவா வெகுளி இன்னாச்சொல் நான்கும் இழுக்கா இயன்றது அறம்!”

“Avoid Envy and Greed, Anger and Harsh Words! That’s the way to acquire Righteousness!” says Valluvar!

Let’s try to imbibe these qualities so that by Next Navarathri we will be a bit more Realised!

Scintillating Sadhgun Aithal @Tapovan

Sadhgun @Tapovan
Coimbatore Ramachandran on Mridangam and
Aru Murugan, Morsing on 27th September 2017.

Sadhgun @Tapovan

Sadhgun Aithal at just 14 yrs is a Prodigy on Mandolin, and the way he casually plays the instrument, without even looking at it to produce some Divine Carnatic Music is to be seen to be believed! I was fortunate to have his originally Scheduled concert at Shenbagam shifted to nearby Tapovan,due to a bereavement in Shenbagam, and on this  Sapthami Navarathri evening,   the Goddess Saraswathi Herself was very much present, thanks to Sadhgun’s Scintillating Music!

A majestic Darbar Varnam followed by 
Nata narayani (Mahaganapathe) brought memories of Mandolin Srinivas! 
Ganamurthe and an elegant execution of Manavyala in
Nalinakanthi were superb indeed! 
Nadalodudai in Kalyana Vasantham followed by a rare raga 
Balahamsa ( Ganda pattunera )showed his class of taste for Rare Ragas,at this tender age!

Sangeetha gyanamum in Danyasi led to my favorite ‘ஏதையா கதி’ in 
Chala Nattai, as it was written by Kotiswara Aiyer in my place Ramnad! (see note) 

Papanasam Sivan’s ‘ennathavam’ made every one in the audience ask ‘How blessed we are to be here on this Navarathri evening!’ 
A Lalgudi Thillana in MANDU and a brilliant Innovative Mangalam made everyone to give a standing ovation!

Such a talent of this Young Sadhgun Aithal, brought tears of  Joy,to some Senior Citizens in the Audience !Nodoubt everyone wished Sadhgun Aithal a Great Future!


*Koteeswara Aiyer

Koteeswara Iyer (1869 – 1938), was  a grandson of Kavi Kunjara Bharati(1810–1896) born in Nandhanur to Nagarathinam iyer who was a Sivagangai Samasthana Sangeetha Vidwan Kotiswara Aiyer has the Mudra ‘Kunjara Dasa’ as a tribute to his Guru & Grandfather. He spent most of his life under the patronage of the Sethupathis of Ramnad. He was also learning under Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar, Asthana Vidwan of Sethupathis in Ramnad. Music is the life-line of the family. He has composed in all the 72 Mela kartha Ragas He has sung in praise of Sri Tyagaraja also  in his ‘Ininamakkoru kavalaiyumillai’ – meaning henceforth we have no need for any worry . Popular singer, K. Veeramani is a grandson of Kotiswara Aiyer!

In Search of Inspiration!

Sometimes I wonder how some of Today’s youngsters are so Awe Inspiring and Talented! When I listened to this 7 year old Sabari Venkat, I didn’t know what to say except to Replay again and again! God’s gift indeed! 

On this Navarathri day the students of Chinmaya Vidyalaya Vadavalli enacted Awe Inspiring Ashtalaxmi to Amazing Mahisasuramardhini, for which, we Senior Citizens of Shenbagam should be very Grateful, as their costumes, choreography and presentation made us all proud.

Navarathri at Shenbagam is indeed colourful and this Children’s presentation of Jagath Janani, added the necessary Divine Inspiration! 

I admire the dedicated Teachers and parents of these students,  to create such disciplined Ambassadors for our country, who will all one day Inspire many more millions,  of what a great culture we have!

We spend hours on Facebooks and Kalakkapovathu Yaru, admiring unknown talents, forgetting our Neighbours’ Inspiring Youngsters! Let’s encourage the Neighbours too!