May 26, 2005

Ten most amazing things

Getting inspiration from others has always been one of my characteristics. Here I go again, getting inspired by my friend Biju. The ten most amazing things - that was the title of his wonderful article.

I accede to most of the things he has listed down such as the petrichor - smell of earth when rain drops fall on it, sunset and sunrise.

I have always been an admirer of nature. My list of 10 things(not necessarily in chronological order) would most probably circle around nature.

1) Taking a walk through mountain ranges when my entire body is covered by the white, fluffy clouds drifting so fast. (Have experienced this many times in Munnar, my favourite holiday destination)

2) Walking through the path(called as "Varappu" in Tamil) between lush green paddy fields on a quiet summer evening. (Thanks to Karthi Thatha (my neighbour's grandfather at my native place) who used to take us for a walk during summer vacation)

3) Watching the never ending tea plantations enroute to Munnar. (Mentioning Munnar again and again is inexorable!!!)

4) Observing the huge mango and coconut trees on either sides while travelling through Kerala backwaters on a small boat. (Wish I had been born as a Mallu, would have got a chance to visit Kerala very often. No regrets, though. I get to visit God's own country atleast once a year)

5) Slowly bringing energy to the world, a red ball of fire which wakes up almost at the same time everyday - the beautiful sunrise. (Wonder how it manages to wake up so early.....Very difficult for me!!!)

6) God's greatest gift - flowers. Though the life of a flower is just a day, it brings in so much of exuberance into one's life. Be it a single one or a bunch of them, flowers are just amazing.

7) Crystal clear, blue seawaters in Maldives where one can actually see myriad fishes of different sizes and colours in the deep. (Have never thought that the sea water would be so clean before visiting Maldives)

8) Sipping a cup of hot filter coffee and taking a glance at "The Hindu" spread on the floor, with the mellifluous voice of M.S.Subbulakshmi singing Vishnu Sahasranama in the background early in the morning. (Rarely get to have this experience these days. I miss Appa's filter coffee :-( .................)

9) Cycling around the railway ground in Tambaram (Had done it for 4 years during my engineering days. Last heard that my brother has sold my cycle for a pittance. My BSA SLR, where are you now?)

10) The enchanting "Siddhi Vinayaka Namo Nama" song being played at the Ganesha temple. (Both me and my husband love this song. It brings in sort of peace to our minds. One of the reasons why we visit this temple very often is to listen to this song)

May 6, 2005

Toastmasters - One of my keen interests

This topic has been in my mind for quite some time now. Since Toastmasters has been making a profound impact in my life, it has to be written in my blog. I love talking, be it to myself or people around me. It is impossible for me to keep my mouth shut for a few minutes. Please don't call me a palaver,though!!!

I always had the fear of speaking in public. The context of the word "public" here refers to "in front of an audience" and "on top of a podium". Luckily, I had identified this fear when I was in my first year of engineering. My Physics lecturer had asked me to give a presentation on Optical Fibres. I had prepared well at home but when I stood in front of my audience, my hands trembled with fear. I could hardly grip the chalk piece. My supposedly neat handwriting looked terrible on the black board. The 20 minutes turned out to be a nightmare.

Then I decided that public speaking is an improvement area for me and I need to work hard on this aspect. From second year onwards, I volunteered for seminars in almost every subject. Slowly, the fear had changed to fun, mainly because I can observe the class and see who is actually listening and who does everything else apart from listening.

I was under the impression that my fear of speaking in public was no longer there in me when I was out of college. But I was wrong. When I started to work, I came across this club called Toastmasters in my organization. I attended a couple of sessions and found them to be kinda ok. But I made it a point to attend regularly. Once I was called to speak on a table-topic (don't remember the exact topic, though!!!). Man, I felt so nervous. My sentences were broken and my grammar was sloppy. What has happened to me? A girl who had taken so many seminars in college with full zeal and confidence was struggling for words. Instead of considering me as inapt to speak in public, I made a resolve to speak as fluently as the experienced people who attended the session. That was about two and half years back.

When I ruminate over the numerous sessions I attended in these few years, I realize how much impact they have made on my confidence and my personality. I also learnt a valuable lesson in persistence. If one strives hard with persistence and confidence, nothing can stop him/her.

These sessions have made me take initiatives and volunteer for new roles. They have also given me a platform to articulate my ideas. The affable evaluators always give a germane feedback and never carp about your speeches. The prepared speeches have tremendously helped me to glean my knowledge on various topics. Apart from ameliorating my public speaking skills, I have found many good friends from Toastmaster sessions. And I get all these by just spending an hour every week. I look forward to every Thursday and cannot afford to miss even if I have a tight schedule. The sessions which are conducted in the evenings have the ability to take away the lassitude of the long day. I also exalt about the value-add of these sessions to new joinees and convince them to attend, honing my convincing skills.

Toastmasters is a learning experience. And the experience cannot be explained in words. It has to be experienced.

DOSA - Queen of South Indian Cuisine

I'm not a person who would experiment with different cuisines whenever I go out for lunch or dinner. My appetite is very much satisfied with a bowl of fried rice or a roti/naan with a side dish made of paneer. For evening snacks, I can't think beyond chaat items especially the crunchy bhel puri and my all time favourite Dosa.

When I was a child, I always use to admire those long crispy Saravana Bhavan Dosas. Yes...They were long when compared to those tiny home made dosas. How crispy, neatly folded and brownish they are!!! I used to wonder how they make it so crispy that it actually melts when you put a piece of Dosa in your mouth. Add to that, a spoon of sambar makes the tasty dosas delicious.

I still remember the day when I went to Saravana Bhavan in T.Nagar for the first time. As usual, I ordered for Dosa. There came the mouth-watering dish with 4 varieties of colourful chutneys and a small cup of madras sambar. I prefer the green(made of mint leaves) chutney over the white(made out of coconut) or orange(made out of tomatoes and onions) ones. And all it takes is 15 - 18 rupees for this delightful experience. Oooh...I wish I was a bird now so that I can fly to Chennai and experience that awesome combo.

Whenever I go to Chennai these days, I make sure that I don't miss the queen of cuisine. Ofcourse, Dosas are available in Bangalore but they can never match up to their counterparts in Chennai. Never!!!

Dosas are the vegetarian's saviour and I'm 100% sure that only a vegetarian can relish it's taste completely......

May 4, 2005

Close to my heart....

If you are guessing that I'm gonna write about my hubby or music or books, you are wrong. Definitely they are close to my heart but one unique aspect of my life which I used to long for and cherish those sweet memories forever is May, the month of summer vacation.

This morning, when I lazily turned my daily calendar to read the thought for the day, I realized the date was May 4th. Is it the same month which had myriad moments of fun, frolic and laughter during my childhood? After starting to stand on my own legs, this month made hardly any difference to me.

Turning a few pages back of my unwritten autobiography, I can't come to a conclusion which May was the best.

Is it the May when my brother and I(Herein after will be referrred to as We!!!) climbed the guava trees in the hot summer afternoon plucking the ambrosial pink coloured guavas and our grandpa caught us red-handed?

Is it the May when we took 25 paise from our grandma's cute jute purse (Com'on, don't call it "theft"), ran towards Thatha Kadai (a shop owned by an old man) and bought colourful candies?

Is it the May when our father took us on a trip to Bangalore, Mysore and Ooty?

Is it the May when we went on a long tour to Calcutta and Delhi?

Is it the May when our dream of moving to Anjali movie kinda apartment where we'll get to know a lot of friends came true?

Is it the May when we played ice-boys (our version of hide-and-seek) with our friends and cousins day and night, in the terrace, in the backyard and inside the house?

Is it the May when we celebrated our apartment complex annual day , dancing and singing all through the evening?

Is it the May when we organized chess and carrom tournaments in our apartment where we sat in the 2-wheeler parking area every afternoon and played matches one after another?

Is it the May when our whole day routine varied from shuttle-cork in the morning, playing cards in the afternoon, a game of country in the evening and a thrilling game of ice-boys in the dark?

Is it the May when I ran a marathon race from maths to physics to chemistry to biology tuition centres and came back home, with not even an inkling of tiredness, threw my bag in a corner and jumped to play WWF trump cards.

Very difficult to pick one, na? When I go back to my good old apartment complex, it is no longer the same. All my friends have grown up, including me. The sounds of iiiiiiiiiice-boooooooooooy cease to exist. Kids have become friends with Age of Empires, Quake-3 and the likes. Hardly any child is seen outside their apartment. The sad part is they don't even know that kids of their age are living in the same complex.

The not-so-salubrious climate of May, especially in Chennai is not the reason for this difference. Parent's mindsets have changed and as a result, their children's vacation plan is also changed. Now I know why I see a huge summer camp hoarding at the end of every street.

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