Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why not Today?

Many of us want to follow the rules. To the letter. Even if the spirit is lost sometimes. A G Gardner's famous essay "All about a Dog" sums up this approach brilliantly. There are some rules which should never be broken. Otherwise it may compromise safety of life and limbs of persons. But there are many other rules which are not that sacrosanct. Breaking them would not amount to much violation and may even achieve the welfare of the majority.

I was directed to join the Bank at its Hubli branch forty years ago. Chitradurga is half way to Hubli from Bangalore. My uncle and his family were living in Chitradurga in those days. I went to Chitradurga and stayed with them overnight and proceeded to Hubli on the next morning. The four hour journey after breakfast took me to Hubli just before lunch time. I checked into a hotel, had lunch and went in search of the branch. The idea was to find the place in the evening itself so that there won't be any delay while reporting on the next morning. I reached the branch when the business hours had just concluded and the employees were proceeding for lunch. I sat down on one of the chairs outside the counter in the banking hall.

A few minutes later an elderly gentleman walked in and asked me what for I was waiting. I told him that I wanted to meet the Manager. He said he was the Branch Manager and asked me follow him into his cabin. He asked me whether I had lunch and when I answered in the affirmative he asked me to sit on one of the chairs in front of his table. I hesitantly sat down and handed over the letter of offer from the bank with instructions to report at Hubli branch. He enquired about my arrangements for stay in Hubli and whether I needed any assistance. He called for a file, verified my papers and said they were in order. I thanked him, got up and was about to take leave of him. "Where are you going?", he asked. "I am going back to my hotel. I will come in the morning and report for duty", I said. "What is so special about tomorrow?" was the next question. I did not know what to say. "You have come to join the Bank. Then why not today?" he asked. "If permitted I will join today itself" was the reply. "You have entered the Bank for the first time today. When you go out, go out as a proud employee of the bank.  Give your joining report and get to work without any loss of time", he ordered.

He called his next in command and instructed him to take my joining report and assign me some work. Branch Manager was himself ready but the others had their own reservations since it was already afternoon.  He understood their hesitation. "This boy has come all the way from Bangalore to work with you. He may serve the bank for thirty or forty years. What difference will half-a-day make? Why waste a day? Put him on the job. Make him work till the office closes today. Let him start learning from today. If you so desire, record that he has joined in the evening and pay him salary from tomorrow". The others complied without a murmur. I was put on rolls on the same day and paid salary from that day itself. I worked till close of office and went to Hotel thereafter.

All bank work was manual in those days and a good handwriting was an asset for bank employee then. Branch Manager had a very good handwriting and one could never find a mistake in any work he did in the bank. He had his own methods to check the working of different sections and correcting them whenever necessary. After observing my handwriting for a few days he called me once and advised me. "You have a very good handwriting. Keep it that way. It will take you far in life and career", was his advice. He was enquiring about my stay and food arrangements from time to time. He gave me some books on Banking and advised me to read them thoroughly. I worked with him for for about one year before my transfer to Bangalore. He retired shortly and remained my well wisher till he left for the next world.

His words "Why not today?" keep gently reminding me the importance of time and to have wider perspective in life than mere letter of the law or rules and look to compliance of their spirit as well.     

Friday, March 23, 2012

Police Verification Report

Ugadi always brings back the memories of my first visit to the Police Station.  My first visit to the police station was exactly forty years ago.  It was for the purpose of a Police Verification Report, popularly known and called as PVR.

PVR was, and probably still is, one of the basic requirements for absorption into Government service.  A reference is made by the department or the employing authority to the police station having jurisdiction over the permanent address of the candidate to be absorbed into government service.  A clean report is a must for completing the formalities and verification of antecedents of the person seeking employment.  PVR references are many times lost in the maze and volume of work in the police station and police have many other priorities in their day to day work.  Any delay in receipt of PVR will result in delayed confirmation in service.  PVR is even now a requirements for issue and renewal of Passports.

I had joined Bangalore Telephones,  which was a unit of Post and Telegraph Department then.  Other formalities were completed but PVR was not yet received.  Head of the Establishment section told me that I should go to my native town and find about its position and hasten the receipt of the PVR.  I took leave and went two days before Ugadi to my town for this purpose.  Next day I went to the Police Station to meet the inspector and enquire about the status of the PVR.  I had to wait for sometime before the Inspector came and the happenings there were somewhat uncomfortable, with the pleadings of those kept in the lock ups etc.  The Inspector came in after some time and had more pressing things to attend to.  After disposing off the more urgent issues he called me and enquired about the purpose of my visit.  I told him about the purpose of my visit.  He called for all pending PVR references and my case reference was fortunately sitting safe among them.  He saw the details of my reference and verified some records in the police station.  Now I realise it was probably some list of persons with criminal background.  He asked some questions about my place of birth, educational institutions in which I studied and addresses in which we resided during those days.

"What sort of a student you were?  There is no mention at all of your name in the records", he said in a tone of admonition.  I was taken aback.  "Why?, I have all my marks sheets and degree certificate.  There should certainly be records of my studies there", I answered.  He stared at me for a moment and said, "I am not discussing about college records.  I am talking of my records, which means police records".  Though it was actually a matter of relief, the way he said it made me anxious about my PVR. Some other urgent thing came up before concluding my PVR and I was asked to wait again.  After sometime he again called me and had a final look at my papers.  "So, you are the son of one Pattabhi Ramaiah.  Does your father not know that he has to come to the Police Station and sign for getting a PVR?  Go home and tell him to come here in the evening to sign the papers".  I was dispatched home with those words.

I told my father about what the inspector told me and added that I did not like the way in which he referred to my father.  My father said that the police have their own way of dealing with things but he also did not know of any rule requiring him to go and sign in the station for a PVR.   However, he agreed to come to the station in the evening to sort out the matter.

Our evening visit to the Police Station was somewhat different from my earlier one.  The inspector was not there but the writer (a constable who attends to record keeping and receiving complaints) told us that he was expecting us and politely offered us chairs to sit.  The inspector came after some time and stared at my father.  My father also looked at him and they warmly hugged each other.  The Inspector was none other than his schoolmate Samba Murthy.  I had never seen him but heard the stories of the exploits of Samba Murthy and Pattabhi duo in their school days.  They were experts in tree climbing and knocking off ripe fruits from the trees in the neighborhood!  They had not seen each other for three decades and the reunion of two thick friends was watched by other policemen and visitors in the station.

Samba Murthy wound up his work for the day and asked us to go with him to his house close to the police Station.  My father willingly accompanied him and I too joined a step behind, now happy in the knowledge that my PVR will have no further problems.  He introduced us to his wife and she served us "Obbattu and Holige".  Obbattu and Holige are two sweet dishes made from Dal-Gud (Jaggery) and Coconut-Gud specially for Ugadi festival.  Usually one of them is prepared but here we had both of them and that too two days before Ugadi.  My father enquired about the special occasion and for making both of them on the same day, two days before Ugadi.  Samba Murthy informed that his two sons had come home from distant places and had to go back that day and could not stay for the festival.  "Pattabhi, you know very well that for us it is Ugadi when the children come home.  Yesterday they were both here. One likes Obbattu and the other likes Holige.  My wife made both.  We celebrated the festival yesterday itself.  To my good luck, your son came to the station today and thereby I could see you after over three decades.  Remember our Ugadi days when we were in school.  How we enjoyed our Obbattu!".

I was given a second helping of the items and I had no complaints.  But I was worried that my father had not signed in the station.  When finally leaving Samba Murthy's house I reminded my father gently about the signature part.  "Young man, the signature requirement was only to make your father come and meet me and taste these sweets. Your PVR is already on the way to Bangalore. Do not worry about it.  I wish you a rewarding career as a Government servant", he said.

I did not continue in the government job for even six months.  I later joined the bank and had to go to Police stations several times on official work, always fortunately on the right side of law.  And Samba Murthy was always remembered on each and every one of those visits.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lord Ganesha and Auto Drivers

With another hefty increase in auto fares last week, it is time to remember some auto incidents. One good thing with the current increase is that it solves the problem of finding change to pay auto bills. Minimum fare at twenty rupees is much better than the earlier seventeen rupees. Three rupees were never returned and now we can be satisfied that it has been paid legally. A hundred rupee note is the minimum requirement to get into an auto and fare is always rounded off to the nearest ten rupees. This solves the problem of searching the purse for small change. Beggars who were beneficiaries of the refunded coins also do not mind now. Their minimum acceptance level is also revised upwards and anything less than ten rupees is likely to be returned with some bad words.

Autos are in great demand on festival days. Those are the days when people moving in groups, usually their own families, stand in street corners and hoping that a vacant auto would come their way. Auto drivers also have their own families and they also have their own Lord Ganesha to worship. They are fortunate not to be bound by the list of holidays issued by the Government or an employer. Their family also needs to move around on festival days and hence they work on that day without being paid. The net result of all these is an excessive demand against a poorer supply.

Sometime back I was waiting in a street corner with a friend, who had come from another city, looking for an auto. Many vacant autos ran past us but none responded to our hailing.  He was wondering what was happening. I told him that auto licenses in Bangalore were mostly given to Physically Handicapped persons as a source providing employment to them. As the license cannot be given away to blind persons, most of them were issued to deaf persons. He appreciated the idea and said it was a very good policy and should be emulated by other cities as well. But he also wondered whether it was not a hazard as the drivers would not be able to hear the honking of the other vehicles. I told him it was not so because even those with normal hearing capacity would end up as deaf in a few years due to the abnormal level of honking in the chaotic traffic. Why not start being deaf rather than ending as deaf?  The illogical logic also appealed to him and he appreciated the idea even more. He was to be in our city for a week and got used to the system of hailing autos including shouting with outstretched hands and twisting the whole body. On the last day of the trip I offered to walk him to the street corner for finding an auto to go to railway station. He smiled and replied, "Now I know how to catch an auto. I always shout two words before announcing my destination. Like 'Double meter Jayanagar' or Double meter Malleswaram'. All auto drivers can hear such hailing even if they are otherwise deaf or pretend to be deaf. Do not worry, I will find an auto easily!".

The day veteran Kannada Cinema actor Raj Kumar died was a a nightmare for people in Bangalore, especially for those who were caught in the traffic jam. The auto in which I was sitting was near Kantheerava stadium when government decided to move the actor's body there to enable the people to pay their last respects. We were surrounded by a sea of vehicles with nowhere to go. One had to move in any direction one could find some space to move unmindful of what his destination was. Hundreds of working people, including women and aged, had to walk for miles. My auto driver procured a xerox photo of Raj Kumar by paying ten rupees from a hawker and pinned it on the wind shield. He asked me whether I was a Raj Kumar fan and I said I certainly was since the age of six. We exchanged the names of films we had seen and both of us had seen nearly all his movies. He managed to drive on footpath and anywhere there was some space to go. After three hours of moving in every possible direction he brought me to our house. He politely refused my offer of a higher fare and said it was unfair for him to accept it on a day when his beloved actor died. "I would have refused even the normal fare as a tribute to him and gone home with the pleasure of having taken one of his fans home safely. But the extra driving has consumed all the petrol in the auto. I need money for tomorrow's plying. Hence I have to accept the normal fare much against my will", he said.

Back to Ganesha festival. Some twenty five years  ago I met two auto drivers who had totally opposite view points about the festival. Early morning we set out with our two small children to reach a house where the extended family was to meet to celebrate the festival together. Autos were already in demand by that time and we managed to get one after sometime. I asked the auto driver whether he would perform Ganesha pooja. He said his wife and children demanded that he should stay back that day at home for the festival. But he wanted to be on the road to enable people to move around for their pooja rather than stay at home. As a compromise his entire family got up as early as 3 AM and finished their pooja by 6 AM so that both their wishes were fulfilled. Once pooja done, family members wanted him to join them for lunch in the afternoon. He was ready but with a rider that he will be back again on the road after lunch. His real goal was to serve as many devotees as possible to move around and celebrate the festival.

On the way back in the evening it was nearing 9 PM. We managed to hail another auto and I put the same question to this auto driver too. This man had a different outlook. He said his Ganesha was with the devotees whom he was carrying that day since 5 AM in the morning. You are the last passenger today. After dropping you I am going home. At home every one will be ready for pooja. I join them for pooja and we celebrate the festival now.  My family members have agreed for this arrangement".

Both auto drivers succeeded in satisfying the demands of their family members and yet managed to move a large number of devotees for their festival. It was nice to know that Lord Ganesha also got up very early to accept the pooja from one of them and also stayed awake late in the night to receive offerings from the other!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The "Red Eye"

Our flight from Seattle had taken off on time at 6 AM and arrived on schedule at San Francisco at 8 AM. The connecting flight to the east coast was to take off an hour and a half later and land in Philadelphia just before 6 PM. Our host there was to pick us up from the airport on his way home from work place. The schedule was worked  out meticulously so that one host could drop us at Seattle airport before going to work and another could pick us up on the way back from work. Of course, we had no work to do except travel and all timings suited us.

We propose and airline companies dispose. (Passengers of "King of Good Times Airlines" know this too well now after all the bad times they had in the last two months). As we came out of the aero-bridge and checked on the monitor for the gate number of the departing flight, it was mentioned as "Flight cancelled". By the time we reached the customer service counter of Continental Airlines, there was a long line with passengers from flights arrived earlier at SFO who were to take the same flight to Philadelphia, standing ahead of us. Being at the end of the line meant that we had little chance of getting any proximate alternate flight as those ahead of us in the line would have naturally opted for them. When my turn finally came there were still a dozen passengers behind me and probably hoping that I would take much less time in sorting out my plans than the earlier ones.

The lady at the counter was all smiles and charm. She was probably one of their well trained employees and placed on such counters to effectively stall irate passengers of cancelled flights. All her talk just meant that she wanted to help us but she was herself helpless. You can have all the smile but your work will not be done. You end up thinking how helpful she was but only you were unfortunate. She apologized for the delay but having myself trained our staff to handle such situations, I was interested in the next plan.

"Sir, The best thing I can give you is a seat on the same flight tomorrow"

I had to make a decision in a few seconds. Accepting the offer means spending a day in San Francisco. My two nephews living in that city would be already on the way to work and not a wise idea to trouble them. I put a counter question. "What if that flight is also cancelled?". She was a bit taken aback but replied politely, "That does not happen everyday, Sir"

"I do not want to stay here. Give me a seat on a flight to New York, Newark or even BWI (Baltimore)"

"I am sorry Sir. All those flights are also full. If you do not want to stay back, the best I can do is to route you through Las Vegas. But Vegas to Philadelphia is a "Red Eye". Is it alright?"

I did not know what she meant by "Red Eye". The red eye I knew till then was the infection of the eye making it look red and called variously as "Singapore eye" in Chennai,  "Chennai eye" in Bangalore and "Bangalore eye" in Mangalore. There was no time to ask further questions and getting educated. There were indeed better place and time to learn what she meant by a "Red Eye".

"Red Eye or Blue eye, I want to keep moving and reach Philadelphia".

She probably thought I was joking. Or more probably felt it was a show of annoyance, albeit politely. She put us on a noon flight to Las Vegas and later on from there to Philadelphia.

My wife, standing behind me in the line, asked me after we left the counter what a "Red Eye" was. They give such names to some flights to make us reject the offer, I told her.  Years of marriage teach you certain things. You should always answer some questions truthfully, if you know the answer, is the first of them. You should never tell the answer to some questions, even if you know the answer, is the second.  Bluff your way with a face saving answer is the third. This time I used the third.

The afternoon flight to Las Vegas meant that we had to wait for five hours in San Francisco.  The next flight left Las Vegas at 11 PM and arrived in Philadelphia at 5 AM. The simple journey of nine hours was finally completed in 24 hours. And then I went about understanding what a "Red eye" is.

A red-eye flight is any flight departing late at night and arriving early the next morning. The term red-eye is derived from the symptom of having red eyes which can be caused or aggravated by late-night travel. These flights generally move east from west during night hours. The flight departs late at night and lasts for three to five hours and due to forward time zone changes, lands at dawn. Passengers do not get sufficient rest and end up getting off the flight with reddish eyes. Business travelers use this as an opportunity to save time without losing a day in their busy schedule.

After all there is something more to the "Red Eye" than just eye infection!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rantideva and Dr Padmanabha Rao

Ramakrishna Ashram and National College are two well known landmarks in Basavanagudi area of Bangalore.  The road connecting the two and further reaching the west gate of Lalbagh is known as Vani Vilas Road, sometimes also referred as North Road, named after one of the queens of Old Mysore State.  Kempa Nanjammanni Vani Vilasa Sannidhana was the wife of Chamaraja Wodeyar and mother of Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV.  Chamaraja Wodeyar died at the young age of 32 years due to Diphtheria on a visit to Calcutta.  As Krishna Raja Wodeyar was still a minor, she was appointed as  Regent and managed the affairs of the state for a period of eight years.  Sheshadri Iyer, after whom Bangalore's Sheshadripuram is named and the beautiful  red coloured Public Library building in  Cubbon Park is constructed, was the Diwan at that time.  After Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV attained majority, she handed over the reins of the state to him, but continued to guide him thereafter.  Krishna Raja Wodeyar is considered as one of the most popular rulers of Mysore state and his tenure was one that saw progress and peace.   Many monuments carry his mother's name and include Vani Vilas Water Works, Vani Vilas Hospital near Krishna Rajendra Market in Bangalore, Vani vilas Mohalla in Mysore and this Vani Vilas Road.

Another landmark on this road standing between Ramakrishna Ashram and National College is Magadi Karanikara Vaidika Dharma Pathashala.  This school has produced many vedic scholars over the years.  Amruth Ayurvedic Center is located next to this Pathashala on the eastern side.  I had been to this center last week for fixing an appointment with Dr Padmanabha Rao for one of my elderly relatives.  When I went there I was only looking forward to meet another doctor, like hundreds I have seen, met and interacted before.  I had no idea as to how interesting a personality I was going to meet.

Just as I entered the Amruth Ayurvedic Center, I saw a wooden wall hanging presented to Dr V R Padmanabha Rao by his elder brother and sister-in-law.  On that were written the following lines:

नत्वहं कामये राज्यं न स्वर्गम् न पुनर्भवं |
कामये दुःख तप्तानां  प्राणिनां अर्तिनाशनं ||

Natvaham kaamaye rajyam na swargam  na punarbhavam,
Kaamaye duhka taptaanam praninam artinaashanam

I do not desire a Kingdom, not heaven and no rebirth.  All I want to have is the capacity to give succor to the needy and give them relief.

******

Rantideva was a King in the "Chandravamsha", the moon dynasty to which the Kauravas and Pandavas of Mahabharaa fame belonged.  Rantideva's name is mentioned with utmost respect in Mahabharata as well as Bhagavata.  Rantideva was known to be one of the greatest "Daani", one who gives, of all time.  He was once very rich and in due course gave away all he had to those who came to him seeking something.  It is mentioned that there were several hundred cooks in his kitchen and only golden vessels were used for cooking and serving food to the needy.  It is also said that every day more than two thousand cattle were killed for providing meat to the hungry and needy.  He would never send a seeker empty handed and never look down upon those who came to him seeking something.  He always remained grateful to those who gave him an opportunity to give them something.  In due course of time he gave away everything he had and became very poor and did not even have food and water for his own family members.  This never worried him and he carried on the same way even in poverty.

Once he fasted for 48 days and got some Paramaanna, a sweet dish like paayasam, made of rice, ghee and milk.  The gods wanted to test him and came to him in different forms and as persons from different castes.  He never made any difference and went on giving away the food without even worrying about the hunger of himself and his family members.  Finally he was left with only some water and then came a man with four dogs and said he was very thirsty as were his dogs.  On the verge of death due to hunger and thirst, Rantideva still gave away the water he had for him and said as mentioned above; that all he wanted was to give relief to the needy.

Rantideva is a supreme example of giving relief to the needy.  And these are the ideals that Dr Padmanabha Rao's elders set for him.

*******

Dr Padmanabha Rao comes from a family of ayurvedic doctors.  His wife Dr Shubhankari Rao is also a well known Ayurvedic practitioner in Bangalore.  Their son, daughter and daughter-in-law are all Ayurvedic doctors.  In short, their entire family is dedicated to provide relief to patients through Ayurveda.  Dr Padmanabha Rao secured first rank and Gold Medal in graduate degree in Ayurveda.  He has secured several other degrees and distinctions during his illustrious career thereafter.  F.R.A.S. fellowship from London's Asiatic society and F.I.C.A from America are among them.  He is also a prolific writer and has written many books and contributed over 300 articles to various newspapers and journals in Kannada and English.  His book "Janapriya Ayurveda" (Popular Ayurveda) has won the "Kuvempu Vaidya Saahitya Prashasti", named after the Jnanapeetha award winner and well known poet, Dr K V Puttappa.  His book on treatment of Asthama is equally popular.  "Ayurveda Bhushana" and "Ayurveda Dinakara" are some of the titles that have been conferred on him by the community of doctors and journalists.

Dr Padmanabha Rao has established "Amruth Ayurvedic Center", a well equipped Ayurvedic treatment center on Vani Vilas Road in Bangalore.  I found a rare picture of Lord Hanuman carrying the "Sanjeevini Parvata" for treatment of Lakshmana, on the wall of the center.  When I asked him about the rare photo, Dr Rao said that he found it in one of the photo framing shops and immediately purchased it. 

My five minutes meeting with Dr Padmanabha Rao was an oppurtunity to meet a doctor and writer at the same time.  A doctor who puts the patient in comfort zone from the very first moment.  Above all, a good human being dedicated to healing the sick and providing relief to the suffering.  Rantideva was the ultimate example of sacrifice and helping the needy.  It may be too far fetched to reach that level.  But one can certainly try to walk on the path set by him.  Like Dr Padmanabha Rao does.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pigtails to Beautiful Brides

A close relative was always telling me that she was envious of those parents having daughters.  She has two sons and no daughters.  Her complaint was that she could only buy limited range of dresses for her sons while there was a much bigger range available for girls.  "I cannot beautify or bedeck these fellows as can be done with the daughters",  was her perennial lament.  I realized this with total impact last fortnight when we were part of the wedding functions of two nieces.

It is still a man's world.  In many parts of the world and our country women are still a suppressed lot and they have to fight every step not only to assert themselves but also to stay alive and live with dignity.  But it is heartening to know that there are still people longing for daughters and the richness they bring to the lives of their parents.  And the achievements they have made by penetrating into the fields that were thought of as male bastions a few decades ago.

The two little girls running around in pigtails around us a few years ago were now standing on the marriage platform with "Solah Singar", the sixteen beautification aids.  What is this solah singar or sixteen adornments of a bride?  Different sources describe them differently, but there are at least 12 common adornments.  The adornments are made from head to toe and considered a good omen or aid to good luck and prosperity.  The more commonly accepted sixteen adornments are:
  1. Wedding dress in the form of a Saree or lehenga or Salwar and Kurta.  It could be a gown or frock with frills and attachments as we see in church weddings.  Selection of the fabric and stitching of the dress has now become a specialized art and costs always appear to be stretching the limits of the purse.
  2. Hairstyle with flowers and jewellery forming part of the hairstyle.  Hair stylists are also specialists now and are in great demand.  General belief is that these people are responsible for the bride turning up late for wedding receptions and make the guests wait endlessly.  Those who do not like them also say that the bride would have looked even more beautiful without their interference!
  3. "Maangtika", an item of jewellery worn on the parting of the hair.  (Baitale Bottu)
  4. "Sindhoor" or a colouring power used on the parting of the hair.
  5. Bindi or Kumkum which is considered sacred and has religious significance in addition to enhancing the beauty of the face.  There are many different ways of using this adornment.
  6. Kaajal or black outlining of the eyes to make them wide and appealing.
  7. Nose rings.  There are umpteen varieties of nose rings and in many shapes and sizes.  The right size and shape chosen for a bride adds to the facial appearance and overall beautification.
  8. Earrings with maati and/or Jhumkas, again of multiple varieties and sizes.
  9. Necklaces, chokes or similar ornaments.  Each one to their taste and purse.  Any number the neck can accommodate and hold.
  10. Armlets or Baajoo bands, worn on both arms, usually in a defined shape.
  11. Mehendi or beautification of the palms and arms with Henna, a reddish orange dye obtained from a plant.  This Mehendi beautification is ideally done two  or three days before the actual main event so that the full effect of the dye is visible.  
  12. Bangles.  Bangles made of gold and glass are ideally worn in combination.  Other varieties made from many other materials are also available. Again multiple varieties and designs and as much and as many as the purses can afford.
  13. Rings on the fingers, generally gold ones.  From one or two to as many as eight, thumbs being spared.
  14. Kamarband or gold belts, embellished with stones or diamonds.  Lesser the kamar (trunk) size the better!
  15. Anklets or Toe rings, worn above the red line drawn on the feet, usually made of silver.  There is no bar to use golden ones, though.
  16. Kalungura or finger rings on the second fingers of the feet.  
Some sources include perfume also among the sixteen beautification aids.  Perfume being something not to be seen is better kept out of the count.  The sixteen items mentioned above are actually beautification aids and visible.  There may be a difference of opinion  about one or two items mentioned above, but they generally cover the description of "Solah Singar" or sixteen items of beautification.

The bride is bedecked with all these sixteen items of beautification and nobody complains on the wedding day.  But what about women on other days?  For many, some of these items are a daily routine and a must.  May be they may dispense with an arm band or kamarband, but other items like Bindi, Bangles and rings are a must on any given day.  Some lose interest in these aids later on in life which should never be the case.  We know of many personalities who are always seen turning up at events in their best outfits and adornments irrespective of age.

The solah singar industry is growing day by day and providing employment to thousands of workers and artisans.  Marketing techniques and modern technology have made the selection of the aids easy as well as complicated at the same time.

Getting back to the two brides we started with, we may not see them running around in pigtails again.  But there is no cause for disappointment.  A few years down the line, may be four, five or six, there could be another beautiful little girl in pigtails running behind these beautiful brides of today.