Feb 28, 2007

A refreshing break

A beautiful place, a relaxing atmosphere, cool breeze, a slow paced lifestyle, misty mountains, amazing fresh tea, cute pet animals - the list doesn't end here. I'm back after a nice vacation in Kodaikkanal. There is something special about hill stations that I adore and never feel bored to visit them again and again. This was my third visit to Kodaikkanal by the way. Having been there before when I was in my 11th std, I was really looking forward to this trip.

Although the train to Kodai Road was late by a couple of hours, our holiday moods were on the high. A small railway station greeted us the next morning, along with a bunch of taxi drivers ready to take us to the top of the hills. It costed around 1000 rupees for a couple of hours drive up the Western Ghats. Kodai is a small, quiet town with greenery everywhere, especially the tall eucalyptus and pine trees. We checked into Hotel Kodai International, freshened up and had a nice, sumptuous breakfast. The rest of the day went off slowly while we roamed around the resort, observing the varieties of flora and fauna and getting impressed with the resort facilities and most importantly, the sprawling garden. It's an amazing feeling to watch the cute little white rabbits, ducks and birds and dream about having them as pets at home. We played table tennis and carroms for a couple of hours while the pleasant sound of waterfall at the background provided the perfect ambience of a lovely evening.

We were all set for a sight seeing trip the next morning. Although the tour covered a typical set of places you would often get to see in a hill station, such as little parks, lakes, view points, rocks etc, it was a good journey around the town amidst misty, green forests. I was feeling very scared due to the umpteen monkeys running around everywhere while hubby bought a pack of tiny carrots and was feeding them one by one. A radical change I noticed in these tourist spots is the spread of Indian handicrafts and popularity of jute bags being sold in the little shops at affordable prices. I bought one such bag for 100 rupees which would have definitely costed me around 250 in Bangalore. I was really hoping to visit Guna caves but it seems that it's been prohibited due to the many accidents and deaths that have taken place in the recent past. By the time we did some shopping (tea, of course!), it started drizzling heavily and we had to postpone the visit to the famous Kodai lake. We rushed back to our resort and sat in the balcony, admiring the beauty of dark clouds, wet green grass and the pleasant petrichor smell.

We woke up to a clear blue sky with the basket ball court inviting us for a game. Being a basket ball player in my 6th std, I love to play this game. It felt great to jump and drop the ball into the basket after a gap of so many years. Needless to say, I triumphed over hubby. After breakfast, we started walking towards the lake. It's a 2 km walk uphill. After the usual pedal boat trip, we did something very special which I'm sure we will remember for quite some time from now. Yes, we cycled for an hour around the lake. It's a superb feeling to ride a bicycle on those empty roads. It takes around 30 minutes to cycle around the lake at a slow pace if you want to experience the fresh air and observe the beauty of the lake. How I miss my BSA SLR now! It used to be my constant companion during college.

In the past four days, I have become better at table tennis and also started liking the game. We spent long hours sitting in the resort garden and feeling the fresh grass on our feet. The trip was so memorable that we didn't feel like leaving Kodai. These short pitstops, the so-called vacations are a must if we have to face the monotonies of a city routine.

Feb 21, 2007

Variety - Spice of life

Ideas and thoughts pour in from different directions, at unexpected times and at unexpected places. When you keep an idea aside, thinking you will remember it for later, it's gone. When you are deeply immersed in a particular phase of your life, a thought totally irrelevant to this phase you are in pops up. Do you pay attention to this thought and dive deeper? Or you just ignore it for a while and concentrate on the task at hand?

This has been the case with me for a while now. My way of living life is to keep my hands full with as many activities as I could possibly take part in. I just cannot spend time sitting and working on one thing for hours together. Variety is one essential spice that I need to add to make my day delicious. It gives me a chance to try out different things but at the same time, I cannot track ideas/thoughts linked to these different phases/activities while I'm working on something else. I tried maintaining a notepad, writing down these random thoughts and to-dos as and when they pop up but after a while, I realized that by the time I put my pen to paper, these ideas become vague or irrelevant in the current context of my day.

I don't believe in the concept that people who try to do different things do nothing. Why should a person be tied down to just a couple of things in life? Won't life become boring and monotonous then? I agree if you try doing many different things at a time, you tend to lose focus. But this is not the case when you try to do many things in a bigger timeframe, say a week or a month.

I came across this interesting thought somewhere - We often overestimate the things that we can achieve in a day but underestimate the things we can achieve in a year. How true is this! I would want to explore as much as I can and see things from different perspectives this year.

For instance, I have never observed the front panel, different gauges and indicators in front of the driver's seat in a car so far. After my first driving lesson, I couldn't believe that there are so many indicators and steps to do before starting/stopping the vehicle. I guess after one becomes comfortable driving a vehicle, all these steps become a second nature to him/her. As Aristotle rightly says "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."

Feb 12, 2007

An experiment on a quiet day

I have never experienced a quiet day like today in Bangalore. The streets usually noisy with honking cars and bikes were absolutely empty. I wish the roads would be as peaceful as today. This quiet scenario motivated me to try a few new recipes. I'm pretty confident of preparing meals, both North and South Indian. But making an evening snack is one area that I need to work on. I haven't tried out anything new apart from the usual Bajjis, popcorn and onion vadas. Being an avid reader of food blogs, I decided to try out cabbage vada from this site.

Strictly following the recipe instructions line by line, I chopped the cabbage and onions, ground the masala paste, made round balls and dipped in rawa. Only then I realized that the vegetable quantity used was more than that of the masala paste, which resulted in veggies getting strewn all over rawa. I couldn't grip it into one nice round ball. "Oh my God! Am I gonna waste so much of veggies? Oh no! The rawa also has some pieces of veggies. Do I have to throw that as well?", I started to think. In order to make the paste into balls, I need a binding agent. I pick the gram flour (besan) and made into a smooth paste. The masala has became very mushy now. There's no way I can make balls using this liquid paste. "Will mixing the rawa help? Anyway, I have to throw the damp rawa. What worse can happen if I mix this as well?", I thought. I mixed everything together. Still I couldn't get the consistency of a vada paste. It's time to change tracks. My dosa tawa came to my rescue. I poured out the final paste into small, flat dosas. It might be difficult to believe but it tasted very good. My hubby said it looked like scrambled eggs. "Muttaigos vada"(Cabbage vada) resembled a "muttai omlette" (Egg omlette).

In the end, I whipped out something new and this definitely goes into my personal recipe collection :-)

Feb 8, 2007

Good bye

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings #45 - Goodbyes

How many times have we used this word - Good bye? We have said this to people, to memories, to incidents, to places and to different phases of our lives. Some of them might return while many will not. I especially wonder about the concept of saying good bye to life's various phases. Why can't I just stay in a phase which I like, which I feel happy about? Why do I have to move to another phase? Out of compulsion, out of necessity, out of experiencing change - People give different reasons. I prefer the reason to be growth. As one grows and starts to experience new paradigms, naturally one has to leave behind old thoughts and memories. They are not gone completely but archived somewhere deep within. They provide the much needed experience to face the new world and new people. Good bye is indeed a necessity and not an option if you want to go through the phases of growth.

Feb 7, 2007

Chronicles

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings - #44 Chronicles

The door opened. A neat grass path was stretching to a distance well beyond the horizon, luring one to take the plunge. She took a step forward and then turned back to admire the beauty of her home. She repeated this sequence until her lovely wood house became a tiny, little dot. Her steps were smooth and slow while her feet felt the fresh dew drops on the grass. Amazed by the distance she has walked, she stopped for a while, letting her mind to take in all the minute details of the surroundings. The tall trees and the tiny squirrels running around, thick green bushes and the white rabbits peeping to see the new entrant in the woods, the narrow stream of clear water running steadily and the dotted dears quenching their thirst with their tongues dipped in the stream, the colourful flowers and the bees around them to taste the pure honey drops and last, but not the least, a small, beautiful hut at a reachable distance towards her left. She was feeling anxious to walk towards the hut and explore. While a part of her mind warned her to go back, another part suggested her to continue the straight walk she had been taking for hours. At some point, choices become too much to handle. She has not two but three of them now. "Should I?", she pondered, with three equally good, alluring choices.

The little hut and the beautiful garden beckoned her. She made a choice after a good time of thought. Taking slow footsteps, she reached the front door. Sensing the presence of someone inside the hut, she knocked at the door carefully. She couldn't believe her eyes. Dazzled by the beauty of the young lady, she stood near the doorstep in awe. "Hello, dear. Come inside and make yourself comfortable. Looks like you have travelled a long distance", she was welcomed by a kind voice and was treated to a sumptuous meal - fruits, veggie salads and refreshing juices. After her hunger was sated, it was time to take a look around the hut. Little did she know, she was in for a visual treat as well. Well decorated walls with a palette of colours, variety of paintings of different kinds and one-of-the-kind wooden furnitures arranged amidst indoor plants placed neatly around the room. Towards the corner was a well-arranged bookshelf with books on mythology, kids fiction, fantasy etc. She picked up a book and started reading it, sitting on a cushion made of soft cloth material. A gentle breeze gave her the company while the lady, the owner of the house fell asleep in that quiet, lazy afternoon.

After a few hours, the lady woke up and asked "Do you wish to accompany me to the fruit orchard? We need to pick some stuff for dinner". She obliged and followed the lady, observing the little basket in her hands. They walked for sometime, watching the stream becoming a flowing river and finally, turned out to be a huge waterfall. "I want to go near the fall", she said. As she moved closer, she could feel the water droplets sprinkle on her face. She moved a few steps further and felt the gushing water hit forcefully on her head. Enjoying the shower to the maximum, she felt fresh. All she wanted to do was to just stand there and have fun. The lady shouted, "It's time to go. Come back". "Ten more minutes. This waterfall is amazing." She replied. "Waterfall? Are you dreaming inside the bathroom? How much time do you take to shower? I suppose you want to empty the whole water tank. Don't you understand the water scarcity problem in Chennai?", Divya's mom shouted on top of her voice from the kitchen. "Can't a person be allowed to have a peaceful shower?", cribbed Divya.

A new day, a new start

Dried up,
not just the rivers
but also the tears.
I see a clear sky,
a bright sunshine,
a perfect morning,
a new beginning.

Withered leaves,
beneath blooming buds,
organic manure,
they say.
Bad memories,
behind little smiles,
enriching experiences,
they claim.

I see the sprout,
I hear the cuckoo,
I smell the fresh flowers,
I feel the tender palms,
I taste the ambrosia,
I realize sooner,
nature is the best healer.

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