Mehndi Made Easy
Wondering where to buy traditional mehndi supplies to create those tattoo-like designs Madonna sported at last year's MTV awards show? Try the variety of kits offered by www.bodyartsupply.com. Their Deluxe Kit (us$42) includes henna dye, a design booklet, seven stencils and accessories. Henna, the plant dye used in mehndi, wears off in a few weeks–perfect for those who want less-than-permanent tattoos. The stencils include traditional lacy and floral Indian designs like Madonna's, as well as a "multipurpose and New-Age mix" comprised of "Celtic, tribal, snakes and wraps."
Online Indian Music
By our estimate, it would take a month of 24-hour-a-day listening to get through the 4,000 full-length music clips at www.musicindiaonline.com. Morning, afternoon and evening ragas could be interspersed with ghazals, film pop, devotional bhajana and more during your month-long audio marathon. The RealAudio compression scheme used for the clips is a long way from CD quality, but it may be better than copies of copies of tapes. It is a useful way to check out unknown artists or different types of music and instruments from every region of India, without investment.
Come September, every expatriate Bengali falls homesick, longing to make the rounds of the puja mandals, the giant temporary temples erected in Calcutta's streets and byways for the five-day celebration of Durga Puja. It's not quite like being there, but www.westbengal.com/puja/puja98/ is close. This elegant web site takes you on a visual journey through the days of hectic preparation, the markets overflowing with eager shoppers, the busy designers, the lights, the glitter, even the sound of drums. Maps show the location of each major mandal, and there's a place to vote for your favorite. Durga Puja Online is just one part of the state government's massive site, www.westbengal.com, where information abounds on local geography, culture, art, music, business and fashion. Visit an online handicraft gallery, find a wife, learn to cook rice pulao, even read about a local tiger encounter.
Lion City Temple Site
It doesn't take long to tour singapore's temples, which number only in the dozens, but now you can do it even faster. Visit the Hindu Endowments Board site at www4.gov.sg/heb/tem
ples.html. Click on "Sri Sivan Temple" for an immediate cyberdarshan of the main Deities, plus pictures of the temple, schedule, services and directions. Other parts of the site offer charts of auspicious times and describe the popular local festivals. Notable is a surprisingly complete self-help page for dealing with a death in the family, from preparing the body through the cremation rituals and subsequent rites.