Dec 28, 2006

2006 in review

2006 is coming to an end. It's that time of the year to reflect upon how this year has been and how I fared in my goals/resolutions.

1) I made a very important change in my job. Although it's not a drastic career move, I can feel the effects that this change has brought in. The move from one company to another has been very good so far.
2) Attended Yoga classes (again!) in Jan and Feb this year. Didn't complete the course as I skipped the final week's classes. I repeated the same mistake in 2005 as well. Hope I complete the course in 2007.
3) Completed two Dream a Dream's Computer Programmes 101 and 102. My first step in teaching has been amazing. I want to continue this activity in 2007.
4) Blog updates - written 69 posts so far. This blog has become an indispensable writing pad for me.
5) Wrote many Tamil poems in my blog. Never knew before that writing poetry will be so engrossing.
6) Completed my OCP Performance Tuning exam. I plan to complete my final OCP backup and recovery exam in 2007.
7) Bought a Toshiba laptop and an ipod. Working from home has become very easy these days.
8) Visited Mantralayam - Shri Raghavendra temple for the first time.
9) Had a good vacation in Dubai.
10) Tried many new Indian recipes. Though I didn't keep a count this year, it's been a wonderful experience in the kitchen so far.
11) Have become crazy about "Friends" episodes.
12) Visited Mysore after a long time.
13) Completed reading the following books
- "The vendor of Sweets" by RK Narayan
- "By the river Piedra, I sat down and wept" by Paulo Coelho
- "My days" by RK Narayan
- "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown
- "Delhi is not far" by Ruskin Bond
- "The power of relaxation" by Tanushree Poddar
- "The Zahir" by Paulo Coelho
- "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach
- "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by JK Rowling (A revision before the movie releases in 2007 :-) )
14) Started reading these books but haven't completed yet
- "Lamp is lit" by Ruskin Bond
- "Black lentil doughnuts" by CK Meena
- "Jack Straight from the gut" by Jack Welch
- "Getting things done" by David Allen

Dec 24, 2006

முதல் மாற்றம்

எனக்குள் பிறந்தது
சாவி துவாரத்தில்
எட்டி பார்த்தேன்
உன்னை !
கதவை தூள்தூளாக்கி
என் மனதில்
நுழைந்த கள்வனே !
நீ யாரோ என்று
சிந்தித்து கொண்ட
வேளையில் ,
ஒரு புன்சிரிப்பு
என்னை அறியாமல்
என் கண்கள்
உன்னை நோக்கின
இது நான் தானா?
என்னை துரத்தின
மருபுறம் திரும்பினேன்
உன்னை மறக்க
நீ என்னுள் நிரம்பி
விட்டதை மறந்து
பூத்து விட்டது
சிறு காதல் பூ
என் கண்களில்
முதல் மாற்றம்.

A rough translation in English

First Change

Love is
born in me.
I peek
through the keyhole
of the door of
my heart,
I see you.
Breaking the
door into pieces,
you enter my heart
as a thief.
Wondering who you are,
A slight smile without
realizing it,
My eyes look at you.
Is it me?
I'm chased by questions
I turn towards
the other side to
forget you.
Trying to forget
that you have filled in me
In the rocky heart
blossomed a little
flower of love
In my eyes
I see the first change.

Dec 20, 2006

Mysore - a nice getaway

This post has been in the draft mode since 13th Oct 2006. I managed to complete it today.

My hubby and I finally made a one-day trip to Mysore. I had been to Mysore thrice before with other family members but this is the first time hubby got to visit Mysore. We wanted to see what's so special during Dussehra. We booked a cab and started our journey at 7 AM on a chilly Sunday morning. There was absolutely no traffic on the road and it was a smooth ride on the highway. I have never seen such a well laid road in India ever before. The flowers and plants that are on the separator of the road is a wonderful sight.

We stopped around 9 AM at a small restaurant (forgot the name, it's opposite to a big petrol bunk) for breakfast. Hubby tried a different kind of idli called Mallige idli. I guess it's made out of Aappaam batter. I didn't like the taste of it and I settled for normal idlis. We then had steaming hot coffee. In another 20 minutes, we were in Srirangapatna. Our first spot was Tipu Sultan's summer palace. It's such a nice place with greenery around and beautiful flowers. I got surprised to see the ticket price different for visitors from abroad. The entry ticket is 5 rupees per person if you are a localite and $2 for visitors. I don't understand why the price has to be partial. If tourism industry has to flourish in India, these different pricing schemes should stop.

Sangam was our next spot. It's a feast to eyes to see the flowing water from all three directions. Good that we went after monsoon. There were coracle rides as well. But I was feeling scared to get into a crowded coracle. We took some snaps and bought a couple of idols made out of black stone. We then visited Ranganatha Swamy temple. I love the smell inside these old temples. I'm not sure if it's because of the basil leaves or something else. There were many shops selling artefacts and paintings which were damn expensive. We were feeling thirsty by then and had tender coconut water outside the temple. I don't understand why we don't get sweet tender coconut water these days? It's been a very long time since I tasted something like that.

It was 11.45 AM and we headed towards Mysore. "Welcome to heritage city" banner greeted us. We first visited the famous Mysore zoo and was thrilled to see the giraffes, different kinds of monkeys and birds, tigers, zebras, African elephants etc etc. The zoo is maintained well, except that the huge tigers could have been put in bigger cabins. Poor things, they were feeling restless and couldn't roam well in the small cabin. We couldn't find a single place inside the zoo where we could get some snacks. All we could find was a cool bar serving Coke and Maaza.

We came out of the zoo at 2.30 and our stomach was growling. We treated ourselves to a nice, sumptuous lunch in a restaurant next to the palace. It was a crowded place and we had to wait till 3 PM to get our food. We then headed towards the palace where a very long queue awaited us. Apparently, everyone was interested to go inside the palace. We were in no mood to spend the next couple of hours standing in the queue. So we changed our plans and headed straight to Chamundi hills. I bought an offerings plate from a local vendor while hubby was waiting in the queue to get pooja tickets. Suddenly, a monkey jumped towards me to pick the bananas from my offerings plate. I screamed at the top of my voice and hubby came to my rescue. For the next 30 minutes till we entered the main temple premises, I was being watchful, covering the offerings plate with my handkerchief. Though the monkeys look cute, there were just too many of them.

It was a nice, cool evening when we started to descend from Chamundi hills. What a wonderful view of the city! We waited to take a few pictures of the sunset and the huge Nandi statue. It was 6.30 PM and we decided to head towards Brindavan gardens. Our driver mentioned that it shouldn't take more than 45 minutes to reach this place. What we didn't expect was a traffic jam that stretched for the entire distance. It was 8.45 when we reached Brindavan gardens. We were very disappointed that we couldn't spend more time in such a lovely place. But the musical fountain show took away all the sadness and tiredness. It was definitely a treat to our eyes and ears.

We reached home at midnight, remembering the nice times and new places. There are so many beautiful places to visit around Bangalore. This is definitely on my to-do list for the next year.

Dec 19, 2006


My contribution to Sunday Scribblings #38 - Anticipation

"Papa, I want that icecream", said little Mannu, staring longingly towards his dad Babu. "How can I reject my only kid's request?", Babu thought while his hands were reaching for his pockets of a torn shirt that he was wearing. All he could find was a one rupee. Meanwhile, Mannu's mom Savitri called them for dinner. "Mannu dear, I will buy you a icecream tomorrow. Now let's go and eat food", said Babu. How can he explain to his 4 year old son that he had no money and that he was waiting for his greedy contractor to pay his salary? "Ok papa. Promise me that you will buy icecream for me tomorrow", said Mannu. "Promise Mannu. Come inside now", Babu called him and gave him a hug.

Their house is a shack with just enough space for three of them. Their only possession was a trunk with their clothes. Towards a corner was the kitchen space, with a few old vessels. All that Savitri could manage for dinner was a small pot of rice and a cup of sour curds that she brought from the house where she works as a maid. "What did the contractor say? Will you get your salary this week atleast?", sighed Savitri. "Seems there is some problem between the builder and contractor. He has informed us that he would definitely give the salary this week", Babu told her in a sad tone. He has been working as a labourer in the city's biggest mall construction site for the past six months and his salary was never paid to him on a regular basis.

"Ma, today papa will get me icecream", said Mannu in a cheerful tone. Savitri and Babu looked at each other, hoping that they would get some money atleast today. But the day was the same as the previous few days. The same disappointing reply from contractor awaited him. Babu didn't want to disappoint his little kid's wish. "Raju, Is it possible for you to lend me five rupees? I will return as soon as the contractor pays our salary", he asked his friend. To his surprise, Raju lent him money immediately with a smile.

Mannu was waiting for his dad eagerly that evening. He was going to eat icecream after a long time. As soon as he saw Babu in the end of the street, he ran towards him. "Papa, are you getting me an icecream tonight?", asked Mannu. "Sure dear. My little prince will have his favourite icecream!", Babu said happily.

It was a cool evening with the breeze blowing steadily. Mannu was awaiting for the ringing bells of the icecream vendor cart. The vendor who passes through Mannu's street at 8 PM everyday was nowhere to be seen that night. He was getting restless and after a while, he started crying. "No icecream today. The vendor cart has not come", Mannu was feeling disappointed. Babu couldn't bear to see his kid cry. "The vendor will come late Mannu. Let's wait", He tried to console him. 30 minutes passed and Mannu was sure that the vendor was not coming. Suddenly he heard a distant noise of the ringing bells which persisted for a long time. He looked at his dad hopefully.

Babu asked Mannu to wait inside the house while he decided to go and get the icecream. It was dark and the street lights were not working. Babu started running towards the street where he was hearing the ringing bells. He ran across different lanes and finally found the cart. "Give me an icecream. My son has been waiting for your cart. But you didn't come to our street", said Babu, gasping for breath. "No icecream sir. The last cup was bought by this little girl", said the vendor. Babu couldn't believe his luck. How is he going to see his anticipating kid's disappointment? His eyes became wet which the little girl standing beside him noticed. "Uncle, take this icecream to your kid. I will have it tomorrow", she said. Babu was so happy to see the little girl offering her icecream. "That's very nice of you. I owe you an icecream the next time I see you".

Looking at his kid relishing the icecream, Babu's heart was filled with joy. "A helpful Raju and a kind little girl live in the same world where a greedy contractor lives", he wondered.

Dec 14, 2006

Stop cribbing and complaining

This statement is to all those selfish, complaining, irresponsible people in the country, cribbing about the country's state of affairs, corruption, poverty, bad infrastructure, poor performance in sports etc etc. All these morons know is to complain and do nothing else. I know their typical characteristics :-
They eat a chewing gum and throw the wrapper on the road.
They throw the garbage bags wherever they want.
They complain about how things are better in other countries.
They keep talking only about those countries and their leaders.
They have no respect for traffic rules.
They don't care about other unprivileged people living in the same city as they live.
Their ultimate aim in life is to settle abroad and crib about India from wherever they are.
They bash at all the sports personalities, especially Indian cricketers on their poor performance. Oh yeah, they think given a chance, they can perform better than those non-performing cricketers, hitting sixers every ball and taking wickets one after another.

I'm tired of such people. I wish I had the power to transport all of them to a island far far away from India.

Either take the responsibilities in your hand and do something about them OR keep your mouth shut. If only these people realize how much time they are wasting by constant whining about India and understand that they can invest the same time in some activity that can bring a tiny miniscule change, India would be way ahead by now.

I strongly believe that if something has to change in our country, it is the mindset of such people. Things would fall in place as soon as this change happens.

I learned this powerful thought in Art of Living session "You are responsible for everything". It's certainly true.

If my street is full of garbage, then I'm responsible for raising this issue to the concerned department and getting it resolved.

If I see a vehicle bypassing the traffic by riding on the pavement, I'm responsible for letting the person realize his mistake.

This is applicable to each and every human being. I just hope people like us understand our responsibilities and work upon them.

Dec 11, 2006

Punishment & Reward

My contribution to Sunday scribblings #37 - Punishment & Reward

This topic has brought a little smile on my "monday-morning-blues" face. Now I have a good reason to relive my school memories yet again.

I was in my 9th grade when this incident took place. We had our morning break and waiting for the third session of the day to begin. Our Maths teacher was no where to be seen in the vicinity of our building. All of us were shouting and having fun. An important point to remember here is that ours was a complete girls batch. Finally, our Maths sir entered our classroom after 15 minutes. He was staring at all of us as though we had committed a big crime. "How dare you girls make such a loud noise in my class? Can't you see that the other classes have already begun?", he shouted at us. We were wondering what punishment he was planning to give us then as he is very fond of this brutal act. "Stand up on the bench", he gave a loud order. What on earth does he think of himself asking 14 year old girls to stand up on the bench? But none of us dared to protest against him. One by one, we started to step on top of our benches. When the whole class was standing, we couldn't stop laughing. It was a very funny sight to watch. This made our teacher to punish us even more.

He left the class in a second. We were feeling triumphant that the sir actually gave up on us. But little did our happiness lasted as the sir came back to our class with a long cane stick. "Is he going to beat us? Aren't we big girls now?", we looked at each other , wondering what's gonna happen. He asked everyone to turn our right hands and he started to hit them. Looking at the painful expression of the girl who got punished first, my face became pale. "Why did I decide to take the first row? Within a few minutes, he is going to be standing right in front of me and I'm going to be beaten. If I were in the last row, he would feel tired by the time he reaches me", my brain could already feel the pain. My turn finally came and all I could do was to cry with tears flowing down my cheeks like a stream. I don't know if my tears made any effect on him but when he did hit me, I felt very little pain.

Whenever I think of this incident, I cannot stop laughing. Those few tears are giving me moments of laughter forever.

Anyways, I hope the school kids of today don't get such brutal teachers.

There are many beautiful memories associated with reward. Let me see which memory strand I can take from my pensieve(Harry Potter fans know what a pensieve is!)

This event happened in my 6th grade. There was a quiz competition happening in my school auditorium for 8th and 9th grade classes. 6th and 7th grade class students were watching from the audience section. The quiz started and many questions were passed onto the audience as the participants couldn't answer them. I managed to answer most of the passed questions and I felt very thrilled. When the quiz finally got over, the awards ceremony began and the headmistress was giving out awards for the first, second and third winners from the participants. When we were about to disperse from the auditorium, the teacher who conducted the quiz said "We have a consolation prize for the girl who answered many questions from the audience. Anu from 6th standard gets this award". I didn't expect this at all as I was just happy giving spontaneous answers. I got a pack of Caramilk candies that I took home so proudly and shared them with my mom. I still remember the happiness that I saw in her eyes that evening.

Dec 7, 2006

In the last hour....

This is my contribution to Sunday Scribblings #36 - "In the last hour..."

It was a typical summer. The scorching heat and the frequent power cuts were the norm. The sun was shining bright and the rays had already entered Ravi's room. Ravi was in deep slumber after a night of continuous studies. This had been the case ever since the study holidays began. Today was the first exam and the one he dreaded the most - System modeling and simulation. Though he had prepared well, he always had the feeling that he was going to forget everything in the examination hall. The prickly rays woke him up. He stretched himself and looked at the clock. "Oh my God! It's 9 AM. I have to reach my college by 10 AM. What am I gonna do? Why the hell did my alarm clock didn't ring?". He tapped his clock wildly as though he was going to travel back in time. But nothing of that sort could happen. Slowly the reality dawned on him. He has just an hour to reach the exam hall and his mansion is 45 minutes away from his college.

Ravi quickly got dressed in 5 minutes and grabbed his bag. He rushed out to take a bus. Adding to his misery, he couldn't get any buses to his college for the next 15 minutes. "Sir, what is the time?", he asked the person standing next to him in the bus stop. "You have asked this 10 times in the past 15 minutes. Are you rushing to see your girl friend?", yelled the irritated fellow.

Time was flying and he just had 40 minutes in hand. There were no signs of the incoming bus. He couldn't hire an auto as he didn't carry enough cash in his wallet. He tried to get a lift in the cars zooming past him. But no one even gave a glare towards him. Getting frustrated, he kicked the stone post only to get his leg hurt.

It was 9.30 and he decided to start walking towards N.G. circle, hoping to get a bus coming from other directions. He tried to get a lift while walking swiftly towards the circle. A kind old man stopped his car and offered him a lift. To his agony, there was a huge traffic jam near the N.G. circle. There had been a protest and a group of people shouting some slogans were walking slowly across the road. "Why can't they walk fast? When will this jam clear up?", Ravi was shouting from the top of his voice. The old man stared at him but didn't dare to talk to him.

He was just a few kilometres away from his college when he realized it was 9.50. "Can you please drive faster? I'm getting late for my exam", Ravi asked the old man. "I'm not supposed to drive at a speed more than 50 km/hr on this road, son", the old man replied in a calm manner. "Who the hell sets all these stupid rules and why would anyone want to follow it so strictly?", Ravi cribbed to himself. It was 9.58 while he reached his college gate. He thanked the old man and ran towards the fourth floor of the building. There were four rooms allocated for third year students. He wasn't aware of which room he need to go to. He opened his bag to take the hall ticket where his registration number was printed.

Only then he realized, he forgot to bring his hall ticket which was lying on top of his study desk.

Dec 4, 2006

கிளிஞ்சல் விடு தூது

ஆயிரம் ஆயிரம்
மனிதனுடன் பேச

தன் கூட்டத்தை
விட்டு வெளியே
வர இயலாமை,
புது சூழ் நிலையை
தட்ப வெட்பத்தை தாங்க
சக்தி இல்லாமை.

எனவே விடுகின்றன
கிளிஞ்சல் விடு தூது.
பல நிறம்
பல வகை
பல வடிவம்
ஆயினும் ஒவ்வொன்றுக்கும்
உள்ளது தனித்துவம்.

கடல் அலை கொண்டு
வ ந்து சேர்த்தது
என் காலடியில்.
சிலவற்றை எடுத்தேன்
என் கைகளில்
பலவற்றை பார்த்தேன்
கால் சுவடுகளில்

அழகின் உதாரணம் இவை
எளிமையின் இலக்கணம் இவை
பரந்து விரிந்த
பாற்கடலின் துளிகள் இவை

A rough translation in English

Seashell message

Thousands of
beneath the ocean
waiting to talk
to mankind!

Unable to come out
of their herd,
Unable to withstand
the pressures of
new environment.

Hence sending a
message through
Different colours
Different types
Different shapes
But unique
in it's own way.

Waves brought
them closer to me
I took some
in my hands,
I saw many
in the footprints.

An example of beauty
An icon of simplicity,
They represent the
vastness of the majestic ocean.

Daily visit

It was a sultry summer evening. My classes got over and I was returning home, holding the soft hands of my 70 year old grandma. My school was about 500 metres from my house and my grandma used to pick me up from school everyday. There was no concept of autos or cycle rickshaws in my little village. I was in the 3rd grade and loved the trip back home. My grandma and I used to walk slowly and we stop as soon as we reach my favourite hangout spot "Thaatha kadai" (shop of an old man). I loved the visits to his shop every evening.

I never knew his name till this date. All I knew was that he was a very old man with a long white beard, wearing a dirty dhoti. We always call him "Thaatha" (grandfather). His shop was nothing but a small box of space (around 4 * 4 feet), packed with lots of goodies - colourful candies, little animal shaped dolls made out of plastic, cute notebooks and old colouring books. Thaatha used to sit in the centre of his shop, waiting for the school bell to ring.

I used to buy those colourful round candies that cost nothing more than 10 paise. It was a joyful walk, stuffing the candies in my little palm and tasting them one by one till I reach my house. On some occasions, all I wanted to do was just stare at the items in his shop. How is it possible to have so many goodies in such a small shop, I used to wonder.

Summer vacations were the best. After lunch, I liked to roam around in the streets that were deserted, with the hot humid winds blowing. I took long routes to the shop and bought those little dolls and colouring books for 25 paise. Thaatha always had a gentle smile and used to give us a couple more candies than we actually had paid for. He was a simple man who brought joy to many children in my village.

I don't know if the shop still exists. But I'm very certain that those were the wonderful shopping experiences I had till today.

PS : There is a shop named "Grandpa's" on my way to work that reminded me of "Thaatha kadai" this morning.

Nov 24, 2006

A scary dream

I had this really scary dream a couple of days back. It was a series of events. Though I don't remember all of them, this one is crystal clear in my mind.

My team is researching about the mysteries happening in an ancient temple in a village. The newspapers are filled with articles about these mysteries everyday. People's lives are in jeopardy. My team is visiting the village after collecting all the details. We reach the village around 5 PM. A local villager takes us to the temple. Things are going smooth. People are visiting the temple and doing their offerings.

The local villager explains about the significance of this temple in ancient history. He says there are ruins of an older temple a few kilometres from this temple. I tell my team that we should visit the ruins to find any clue and they agree. The villager sends a woman priest to guide us as he needs to go somewhere else.

"Hurry, let's go" said the woman priest. She is a different lady, wearing a thick black saree with a big, round vermilion mark on her forehead. She carries a bag with a bottle containing just a few drops of a thick form of juice. She sits next to the car driver and gives directions "Left....left....right". On the way, she manages to drink the last few drops of juice and the bottle is empty by now.

After driving for 6 kms in the dusty mud road, the car comes to a halt all of a sudden. I notice the woman who has become wild and screaming from the top of her voice. The driver is not able to control her. We get down the car and open the front door. The woman falls down and her bag rolls to another direction. After a few seconds, the woman changes to a scary creature. My team takes hold of her and ties her onto a tree. I take her bag and the bottle inside. I open the bottle and smell it. Turning towards my team, I say "Polyjuice potion!".

Nov 22, 2006

Long wait is over!!

I have been waiting for this movie ever since it's launch. I'm talking about my favourite director's and my favourite music director's combo Guru. I got to listen to the songs this afternoon and needless to say, am mesmerized by most, not all of them.

"Barso re megha" sung by Shreya Ghoshal is a perfect rain song that reminds me of Mouna Raagam's "Oh oh megam vandhadho". I feel like dancing in rain while listening to the good beats and Shreya's cool voice.

"Ey Hairathe" sung by Hariharan and Alka Yagnik is a beautiful melody. It begins with the theme music "Dum Dara Dum Dara" sung by the greatest musician himself which sets the tone perfectly. The way Rahman and Alka alternate between "Dum Dara" and "jashn jashn" is superb. Alka is very good at slow paced songs like Saawariya from Swades. The tabla has been used very effectively. At any day, I would prefer our very own tabla rather than the drums.

"Jaage Hai" sounds similar to Bombay theme music. Less lyrics and more instrumental. At one point,I thought that the song is over. But Rahman actually sings in a very very low tone for a few seconds. And all of a sudden, he raises his pitch to such heights. Amazing voice he has!

"Tera Bina" is my favorite song of this album sung by Rahman and Chinmayi. The theme music "Dum Dara Dum Dara" is the highlight here. Very nice variations of tone and pitch. I can't explain in words why this song is my favorite. Better listen to it and you will feel the same.

I can't wait to see how these songs have been picturized by the director. Till then, let my music player go "Dum Dara Dum Dara".

Nov 8, 2006

30 minutes

I'm referring to my morning commute time. When I started taking my office cab in the mornings, I would just look out through the window, observe the bustling traffic, sometimes get irritated by the sudden brakes that my cab driver casually exercise every 100 metres or so, get angry at the overspeeding vehicles and continuous honking of two wheelers. As a result, by the time I reach office, my mood will be in a hyper state and my whole day gets spoilt.

I made a slight change and my days now begin with a good mood in the past few weeks. I started reading novels, especially light fiction. I read a few pages everyday and a lot more over the weekend. This helps me to return my library books on time. I managed to complete Paulo Coelho's "Zahir". Currently I'm reading Ruskin Bond's "Lamp is lit". For Paulo Coelho fans, a piece of suggestion. Zahir is not as impressive as his other books. It's very slow and ending is just straight, no twists or turns. I managed to read 4 of his books in the past year. I plan to take a break and get hold of his other books, maybe after 6 months. Ruskin Bond has become one of my favorite writers off late. I love his simple short stories and journal notes.

I have become crazy of this song "Kya mujhe pyaar hai" from "Woh Lamhe". Thankfully, the radio channels play this song every morning. It peps up my mood, though I understand very little of the lyrics. "Mitwa" from KANK is another such lovely song that's been played quite often.

I need to figure out better ways of utilizing my commute time in the evenings. Unfortunately, I cannot continue my reading as it becomes dark. Any suggestions?

Nov 7, 2006

I met KB :-)

One of my favorite directors of Tamil cinema, K.Balachandar had come to my cousin's wedding. Ofcourse, to whom he is related to is totally irrelevant. I went upto him and said that I'm a fan of his movies and I liked "pudhu pudhu arththangaL" a lot. He just nodded and smiled. I admire the simplicity of this man who introduced stalwarts like Rajni and Kamal.

My favorite black and white movie is "edhir neechal". A perfect movie with a superb cast. The character of Maadippadi Maadhu is a classic. The hilarious screen play, especially the scenes when the entire household thinks that Maadhu is a rich fellow and shower him with goodies, Nagesh's expressions and the body language of every character in the movie etc etc. Only a genius like Balachandar can make such a nice movie.

"Unnal Mudiyum Thambi" is another gem of a movie. The concept fits in so perfectly with my beliefs. I would have seen this movie atleast 25 times but I never get bored of it.

"Punnagai Mannan" is a tragic love story but well narrated. Who can forget the scene when Kamal and Rekha jump from the huge rock to commit suicide while Kamal gets struck by the branches of the tree? The emotions, the cryings, the music, the beats - that one particular scene has it all.

My favorite movie of KB is "Pudhu Pudhu ArthangaL". The possessiveness of a wife towards her husband and how his career gets spoilt because of her character is the crux of the story. Illayaraja's songs has captured the emotions in a superb way. The hero is a singer who sings for movies. How would it be if he sings a song all for himself? A musical treat it is - the song "KeLadi Kanmani", especially the lines "Enakkaaga naan paadum mudhal paadal thaan".

There are other superb movies as well - Sindu Bhairavi, Duet, Thillu mullu. I dream of having a entire collection of KB's well etched movies. Let's see when I'm able to achieve it.

Oct 13, 2006

Four special Saturdays!

I can finally put a tick mark in my goals list for this year. Yes, I volunteered for Dream a Dream's Computer programme. Being a person who likes to teach (it's in my genes, I suppose), I wanted to volunteer for this programme the first time I heard about it. But due to time constraints and unavailability on certain Saturdays, it could never happen. When I came across Shashank's email a month back, I also realized that this is indeed the last programme for the current academic year. I replied quickly, confirming my participation.

The orientation session happened in the serene surroundings at Ananya. I spent a whole day with a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers and our trainer Dr.Rao who explained the minute details of how we should go about teaching kids. He made the session interesting with a lot of anecdotes and activities. It was an eye-opener for me. I was really looking forward to the forthcoming sessions.

The next week was a planning session. I volunteered for the Computer Basics - Part I module (the very first session !) and we came up with a set of objectives and how we plan to conduct the sessions with time limits set for each objective. The best part about DAD computer programme is the way things are planned and documented to such accuracy. It really helps while we execute the action plan.

The day of my session finally arrived. As soon as I woke up, I switched on my computer and opened MS Paint after God-knows-how-many-years. I started to draw a flower and it came out very bad. Then I started to draw my favorite face and it came out well. I added some colours and it looked neat. BTW, I did this task to show kids how they can draw and colour pictures using a computer. I also drew the same picture in a piece of paper and coloured it with a set of crayons. After a long time, I spent my time colouring a picture. I used to love that when I was a kid. I remember the Crayon Corner that used to come in Hindu Young World. I used to cut out the picture, colour it and put it in a file. How I miss those beautiful Saturday mornings !

I reached the Computer Centre on time. The feedback for the morning session was happening. I quickly recollected the activities that I would be doing. The kids and other volunteers were on time as well. I could sense the tension in my hands as I have never taken any class for the kids. Started off with the reasons of why kids should learn computers and the stuff that they can do, I continued onto parts of a computer. The kids were already aware of the parts and so my job was very easy. Then I taught about different mouse clicks, drag and drop functionality using a short role play. By the time I completed my set of objectives, I still had 40 minutes left. Thanks to, the kids spent the rest of the time playing jigsaw puzzles. This not only helped the kids to have fun but also familiarize themselves with mouse usage.

I volunteered for the other sessions on MS Paint workshop, Internet usage and google search as a coordinator while other volunteers would be conducting their sessions. This gave me an opportunity to sit with the kids and assist them. I was surprised to see the kids so much interested and involved. On top of that, they were quick learners and needed very minimal assistance.

While I was talking about parts of a computer, a kid asked me "Aunty, do you know what is CPU? It is central processing unit". He was one of the brightest kids in the batch. If properly nurtured, he could go places in the IT industry. There was another kid who wasn't interested in the theory I was talking but when it came to jigsaw puzzles, he was so enthusiastic and solved them in no time.

During the MS Paint workshop, the kids were asked to draw and paint their favorite picture on a paper. They came up with such amazing artistic drawings. I particularly remember a kid who was drawing a river, a house and a tree by its side. She was also drawing a reflection of the house and tree on the river in a lighter blue shade. Oh, how much importance she was giving to minute details ! She also drew a palette of different colour shades and in the centre, she wrote "Work is worship". And she is in her 8th grade.

They were asked to draw a railway track. And all I expected was two straight lines connected by small lines. I was totally wrong. A kid was using the curve option in MS Paint. I asked why her railway track is curved. She replies that her track is in a hill station. She even went further to draw a neat railway bridge. I realized that if I need to learn lateral thinking, I should spend more time with kids.

While the kids were trying out image search in Google, one thing that actually hit me was the fact that everyone of them were searching for their favorite movie stars. This made me realize how much impact movies and the stars have on our little kids. No wonder the multiplexes are on the rise and charging huge price for the tickets !

A memorable experience it was for me as well as for other volunteers ! Though there are many improvements that I can do, I'm glad that I have taken the first step.

As someone rightly said "Kids are the best teachers!".

Oct 10, 2006

Remembering RKN

Today is the birth centenary of a man who can spin interesting stories with simple words. He is none other than my favourite writer R.K.Narayan. My reading habit was reinstated because of his novel 'Swami and Friends'. Though I have read many of his novels, this one holds a special place. He is definitely one of my inspirational writers. I wish Malgudi is not a fictional town. There are quite a number of villages in India that has a flavor of Malgudi.

You can read a couple of my reviews here - Vendor of Sweets , My Days

Note to myself : I should go home and read a few pages written by this wonderful author tonight.

Finally, I watched....

Yes, I'm talking about Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu. A well-made action packed thriller. The director deserves a big round of applause for making such a good movie and managing to release the film after the financial hassles. The music was amazing and I started to like the songs even before the movie got released especially Vennilave and Paartha mudhal naaLe. The heroine, the one who comes in the first half is beautiful and her eyes are very expressive. Ofcourse, Jyotika looks stunning in sarees in the song Uyirile. Talking about the hero Kamal, he fits perfectly in the role of a cop although he looks pretty old.

The pace of the movie was superb, with Jyotika's part as occasional speed breakers. Some of the scenes were violent, especially the hanging finger amidst lemon and green chillies (dhrishti symbol !!) and the dead bodies.

In a perfect movie, what is the need of a dance song with skimpily dressed dancers? That's one of the two negative points I noticed, the other being wasting the acting capabilities of the calibre of Prakash Raj. He has been given a very small role with very less potential for his acting skills. His role could have been enhanced.

Overall, a brilliant "Tamil" movie which my hubby also enjoyed for a change :-)

Oct 4, 2006

ஒரு மாலை பொழுது

கருமேக கூட்டம்
செடி கொடி எல்லாம்

தென்றல் காற்றும்
வந்ததே !
புதுமண் வாசனையும்
தந்ததே !

மழைத்துளி ஒன்று
கையில் வ ந்ததே !
பளிர் என்ற
மின்னல் ஒளியும்
கண்ணில் தெரிந்ததே !

செங்கதிர்கள் மெல்ல
மறைந்ததே !
முகத்தை ஒளித்ததே !

இது ஒரு
பகலின் முடிவா?
இல்லை, இருள்படர்
இரவின் தொடக்கமா?
இல்லை, வானிலையில்
புது மாற்றமா?

இந்த நொடிப்பொழுதை
கையில் அடக்கவா?
இல்லை, வார்த்தைகளில்
வடிவம் கொடுக்கவா?
இல்லை, என் ராகத்தில்
இசையை மீட்டவா?

Sep 15, 2006

KANK and Crosswords

Sometimes I get this irresistible urge to eat bhel puri, to listen to a Rahman song or to watch a movie. A couple of weekends back, I had the urge to watch a movie. My hubby and I went to PVR in the morning to check out the availability of tickets for Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu or KANK. Unfortunately most of the tickets were booked and a few tickets were available for the front row. I hate sitting in the front row and watching a movie with a sprained neck. So I suggested that we go to Rex. We reached there and realized that KANK was running in Symphony. We then walked to Symphony and all we could get was the evening show. We booked the tickets and didn't know what to do till evening - whether to wait for the movie or go home and come back.

Hubby had to go to office as he had some deliverables. I didn't want to go home and so I decided to roam around in MG Road. My legs automatically pulled me to Crosswords. I love roaming around in bookstores. The smell of books, the soothing backdrop music and a quiet ambience - I adore them. I quickly bought a Cafe Latte from the inhouse Coffee Day and got myself refreshed for the next 4 hours. First it was the new arrivals section, then top of the charts, Indian writing, magazines, philosophy, self improvement, management, cookery, health etc. After browsing through my favourite categories, I found a place to sit and was reading "The power of relaxation" while I was actually relaxing. Though I have been to Landmark and Higginbothams, I like Crosswords. It's not very crowded and I like the way they have arranged the different categories. The next few hours, I was just with myself, having a good time with the pleasant company of books.

It was time for KANK and I reached the theatre. Meanwhile, hubby had also come back from work. Ok, now for my review of KANK. It's not such a bad movie as written by others. I agree there are many flaws like Rani's tears always coming out from her right eye (don't know if she forgot to let it out of her left eye), a stupid kidnapping sequence and the follow-ups in the hospital, trying to make a comedy sequence in rather a serious movie and the scenes of Amitabh. The things which I liked was towards the end when Preity slaps SRK and Abishek asking Rani to leave the house. It would have been the worst movie if only Preity and Abishek as goody-goody types helped Rani and Shahrukh to get married. The songs were good, especially the Mitwa song.

At the end of the day, all I remember was the 4 hours I spent at Crosswords than KANK.

Sep 14, 2006

Yogarungym - my experiments!

I see myself as a healthy, active and a young granny 40 years from now. I want to keep myself as fit as possible with no major health ailments. To achieve this goal, I need to maintain my physical well being on a day-to-day basis. The sedentary life style that I lead as a software engineer staring at the computer for hours together does not juxtapose well with my goal. So what do I do?

I've been trying different forms of physical exercise for the past 2 years, though in a very inconsistent manner. I started off with Yoga, went for Yoga classes for about 2 weeks and then stopped because of my inability to wake up at 5.30 AM everyday. After about 6 months, my hubby suggested that we join the same Yoga classes together. We did and actually enjoyed the sessions, attending 2 out of 5 classes per week after forcing ourselves to wake up with 3 alarms set between 5.15 and 5.30. Our Yoga master was able to figure out that we were irregular and indirectly suggested in front of the class that there's no point in doing Yoga only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We dropped out after 6 weeks.

After a few months, we joined the Art of Living classes and had good fun. Sudarshana Kriya was a good experience. We vowed that we would perform the Kriya for the next 48 days. Can you guess how long we were able to perform? 5 days ! Laziness at its heights !

New Year day brings in a feeling of a fresh start and we resolved to rejoin the same Yoga classes. We liked our Yoga master's way of teaching asanas slowly, giving enough time to absorb the steps. Comparitively, we were regular this time but towards the last week, our enthusiasm became low that we bunked the whole week. I'm pretty sure if I go again, my Yoga master would instantly recognize me and get a written statement that I complete the 2 months course.

There came an end to my Yoga expedition. Running started to interest me later. I planned to run for the Bangalore Marathon scheduled to happen in May and started practicing in a nearby park for about 3 weeks. This habit also died down soon. One of my ex-colleagues said that I'm a good finisher in Toastmasters. I guess this theory doesn't go well with my physical fitness.

Now in my new company, I have a very good gym and I also got myself a pair of sports shoes. I have started using the gym for the last four days. Let me see how far I go ! In my previous experiments, I feel that I planned way ahead like becoming a Yoga master (really!) and completing the 42 km marathon. Dreaming big is good but in order to achieve those big dreams,I realize that I need to take small steps forward everyday. So I'm taking my stint at the gym one day at a time.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is what I have in hand, so let me make the best use of it !

Sep 3, 2006

தெளிவு தந்த நிமிடம்

இனிய மாலை பொழுது
அழகிய அலங்கார திருவடிவம்
மங்கலம் பொங்கும் மணிவிளக்கு
தெய்வீக மணங்கமிழும் குங்குமம்

நெஞ்சை குளிரச்செய்யும் தீர்த்தம்
சிரித்து மலர்ந்திருக்கும் மல்லிகை
அமைதியை உணரும் மனம்
திருக்கோயிலை சுற்றும் கால்கள்

அடி பணியச்செய்யும் பக்தி
புதுத்தெம்போடு திரும்பி வ ந்தேன் நான்...

சுதந்திர நினைவுகள்

Scribbled this one on our Independence day evening....

இன்றைய தினம்
சிறப்பு வாய்ந்த நன்னாள்
நினைவுகள் பலபல

கொடியேற்றும் தலைவர்கள்
மிட்டை கொடுக்கும் ஆசிரியைகள்
தேச பக்தி பாடல்கள்
அரை நாள் விடுமுறை

காந்தி தாத்தா வாங்கிய
சுதந்திரத்தை இன்ற்று
நினைவு கூர்கிறார்கள்
நமிதாவும் சினேகாவும்

முழு சுதந்திரம் அடை ந்து
விட்டோம் நாம்
24 மணி நேரமும்
தொல்லைக்காட்சி முன் தவமிருக்க

வேண்டும் சுதந்திரம்
பசி பஞ்சத்திலிருந்து
வேலை திண்டாட்டத்திலிருந்து
கல்வி சுமையிலிருந்து
வெடித்தெழும் ஜனத்தொகையிலிருந்து
வெறுக்கும் தீண்டாமையிலிருந்து
பிழி ந்தெடுக்கும் லஞ்சத்திலிருந்து
வெளி நாட்டு மோகத்திலிருந்து

நம் தேசத்தை காப்பாற்ற
விழித்தெழு தோழா !
பொழுதுபோக்கை தள்ளிப்போடு
உன் கடமையை தேடு
முழுமூச்சுடன் பாடுபடு
மூட நம்பிக்கைகளை சாடு
நம் நாட்டின் புகழ் பாடு
பிறகு சுதந்திரத்தை கொண்டாடு !

Aug 15, 2006

The beginning at the end

Change - How important is this factor in one's life? Without change, do human beings ever grow? I wanted to experience this feeling of change for the past six months - change in environment, change in the route I travel everyday, change in the kind of work I do, change in meeting new people, change in everything. I felt that my life was becoming very monotonous. I wanted to explore the options available to me. I really want to figure out where my talents and interests are.

I'm out of my first dream company now and I will be moving to a new place tomorrow. When I finally made this decision, I felt so relieved. Yes, I started to believe that I can come out of my comfort zone and try other things in my life. I feel so enthusiastic about life all of a sudden. It really amazes me how the feeling of change can create wonders in the way we think about life. This whole process helped me identify many things and most importantly, when I sent out a good bye mail to people I knew, I was overwhelmed by the wishes I received. I realized I have made a lot of friends in this place than I thought of. Some even went further and said that I'm a down-to-earth person, creative person etc etc (No, I'm not kidding !). So nice of them !

Apart from the change in my work place, this has also brought the urge of exploring my creativity. I'm slowly unravelling myself.I see a strong inclination to become a writer, to become a singer, to become a keyboard player, to become a motivational speaker etc etc. I see so many personalities within me. I'm going to explore more on these lines to find out which is the path that I would be taking.

I just don't want to spend the rest of my life in a typical home->work->home schedule. I'm perfectly fine with split personalities. I have identified my generic purpose in life, now I'm in the process of identifying my specific goals, projects and prioritizing them. This should give me a clear direction and become my compass in the journey of life. How exciting this phase is !

Aug 6, 2006

Who else might I have been - Part 2

Read the first part here

yahooooo.....I got 96% in my exams and have scored very good marks in all subjects including the language papers. My joy knew no bounds and I was jumping happily. My grandma couldn't understand my sudden strange behaviour, though she understood that my score was good. I quickly took a calculator and started calculating my total score for medical admission. The calculator replied "284/300". So I still stand a chance as per my dad's inputs, though I had to keep my fingers crossed.

The next week was full of wishes from teachers, friends, neighbours and relatives. I also came to know that not only did I stand first in my school but also third in my district, which inturn guaranteed a merit scholarship from the Government for whatever course I plan to take.

The day indeed arrived when I had to realize my dreams getting shattered. The cut-off for general category was 291/300 which was way ahead of my score. My name was not even in the waiting list. In a single day, all my efforts and dreams had to be buried. I cried the whole day. No consolations helped me. My neighbours tried to convince me that my scores for engineering were very good and I could get a seat in a good college easily. I understood the reality the next day that there is no chance I can get into medicine unless I can afford to pay a huge sum of money as donation which I can't claim through my scholarship. I knew that my dad couldn't afford such huge amount and also felt that it's not worth buying a seat paying a lumpsum. I should have earned my seat through a very good score which I didn't.

Days passed by and engineering admissions began. I got into a good college opting for Computer Science. At that point of time, I haven't even seen a computer in my life. Should I call this undecisiveness or guts or societal pressure? Probably, I could have spent another year and give a shot at medicine again if I were really passionate about my dream. But I didn't want to do that.

So here I am, a software engineer who could have been a doctor if circumstances were different. Though the regret and disappointment is still there in a corner of my heart, I enjoy my career right now and I'm taking it in the right direction. This whole experience taught me a powerful lesson - "Start liking what you do. One day, it will turn out to be your passion."

Who else might I have been - Part 1

My stint with Sunday Scribblings begins here....

This thought actually started burgeoning in me when I was in class 9. I knew I was just 2 years away from the crucial decision which I had to take-"What do I want to do in life?".

Science and Maths have always fascinated me since my childhood. I wasn't too keen on Arts or Commerce. So I had to be in the Science field.Science is such a vast subject. What do I like in Science? was my next question and pat came the reply - Biology, especially the human physiology. I loved reading about the different systems inside the human body. I still remember the digestive system and the circulatory system and their respective diagrams. With my good score in Class 10 board exams, I decided to opt for Maths-Physics-Chemistry-Biology group. This group had a mix of both my favorite subjects. Ofcourse, Chemistry was another favourite subject of mine.

I was firmly decided on Medicine when I joined my Class 11. The hard work I put in my Class 12 was like never before. I'm amazed now while I think about those days. How lazy I have become these days !

As soon as my class 11 final exams were over, I had started on the tuitions for all important subjects in the summer vacation, running from post to pillar for various tuitions. The classes in school started and the pressure kept mounting. But I was never feeling tense.

When I came to know that I stood second in school in class 10, I was pretty disappointed. I couldn't believe that I lost the first place just by a single mark. At that crucial moment, I had taken a vow that I would definitely come first in school in class 12.

Juggling between school and tuitions were not that easy. Initially I felt I needn't take up tuitions for Physics although it wasn't my favourite subject. But then I didn't want to take a chance. This is how my schedule used to be.I would wake up at 5.45 AM, quickly brush my teeth and wash my face and run for Physics tuitions.I would come back by 7.20,have my bath and rush to Maths tuitions by 8 AM. Thank God, my school timings were between 9.45 AM and 4.30 PM. I would come back from Maths tuitions by 9 AM, have my breakfast and rush to school by 9.30 AM. My grandma would keep my lunch box readily packed. A series of grilling sessions at school. As soon as school gets over, I would rush to Chemistry tuitions by 5 PM and return home by 6.30, tired and hungry. My grandma would serve me Boost (secret of my energy!) and snacks. Then it's time to visit the nearby temple. I believe that God's blessings are quintessential to my hardwork. The time would be 7.30 and I had to do my assignments and home work and prepare for any tests. I would be preparing till 11.30 PM and hit the sack feeling tired but satisfied that I'm making progress towards my goal.

Since I had started on a crash course for Biology, most of the chapters were completed by my Bio Sir by the end of summer vacation. He covered the remaining syllabus over Saturday afternoons. Then it was tests after tests. We used to have 3 hour tests based on a single chapter.He would prepare the question papers and give a copy to each one of us. We were supposed to write them at home and submit the answer books. I used to set the time and write the tests diligently, mostly during nights. My preparations were going in full swing. I never felt that my hard work was stressful or tiring. In fact, I actually enjoyed it. I knew where my goal was and that helped me focus my preparation.

All said and done, the exams finally started and I gave my best. Next was the preparation of dreaded entrance exams for professional courses. I don't know if I was feeling overconfident or wanted to relax for a while. I didn't prepare as required. I whiled away my time, playing with kids and watching cricket. As expected, I didn't give my 100% in the entrance exams. Yet, I was hoping that I get good scores in Biology and Physical Chemistry papers.

All exams over and it was prayer time. First the entrance exam results came. My Biology marks were very good but I goofed up in Physical Chemistry. Maths as expected was horrible. Anyway, since my focus was only to get into Medicine, I didn't pay much attention to my Maths scores. For medicine, my entrance exams aggregate was 87. Little did I knew that this was no where close to the marks needed in a place like Tamilnadu where reservations rule the college admission.

There was a slight ray of hope that if my board exams were very good, then I get a chance of securing a medical seat. Those were days when my dad, brother and I used to sit in the terrace,
gazing at the stars and discussing about the possible options. Dad used to come up with insights such as "Last year, the cut-off was 285(out of 300) for general category" etc etc. I started imagining myself as a doctor wearing a white coat and performing heart surgery. My dreams were filled with those fat medical books and my clinic where I'm giving full attention to my patients.

The day dawned and I was eagerly awaiting my board exam results. Friends called me for a game of "Country" and I was playing in the open space in my apartment. My granny shouted that I got a call from my aunt who was supposed to look into the education department's announcements and let me know my results. I came running on the staircase, skipping steps and took hold of the receiver. My aunt dictated my scores which I wrote down. I put down the phone receiver and....

Part 2 of this post - here

Aug 2, 2006

Interruptions everywhere !

It's been a long time since I sat down (or on a chair) for a couple of hours and focussed on one single task at hand. Any task for that matter ! I'm getting or allowing myself to get interrupted in all possible directions and at all possible places. These interruptions need not be external ones alone. Even when I'm alone and I think about some concrete plan of action or I'm just relaxing, varied thoughts become the source of interruptions.

For instance, while I'm watching TV lying on my cosy comfort bed, I get interrupted by the N number of channels and options I have. I can't watch a programme peacefully for even 15 minutes. I do watch Friends every night on Zee Cafe and I flip to other channels during ad break. Have I become a restless person?

Now, while I write this piece, my mailbox pops a mail icon and I quickly switch over to my mail client to read my new mail. I guess I'm becoming a Pavlov's dog . I notice this abnormality in most of the people these days.

It's been ages since I spent some quality time doing something creative like drawing or painting. I do spend a lot of time cooking new items but I tend to follow the recipe from the book and I don't want to claim this activity as anything close to being creative.

As soon as I get up, my mind is subjected to a hailstorm attack of thoughts. And this clutter keeps accumulating till my end of day. A new day begins and the same cycle repeats. A chatterbox, a palaver inside my brain, I suppose.

I do try a bit of Pranayama and meditation rarely in the mornings. During those 10-15 minutes, I feel relaxed and focussed. Then the chatterbox starts again. I blame it on the noise that's prevailing in my area - the honks of impatient car drivers and the decibel levels having increased to intolerable levels. I have closed the windows at home to see if that's gonna improve the situation. I'm also thinking of locking up TV for a while till I get back my concentration level. All I now need is peace, peace, peace ! peace within myself, peace in my neighbourhood, peace in the world....

Jul 12, 2006

My cute, little garden

After writing about my garden in my grandpa's house, I feel I should write about my little pot garden in my terrace. Thanks to my hubby's interest, we have been into gardening as a hobby for a while now. Since we are not the professionals, we really don't know how to take good care of our plants. My sincere hubby pours water everyday and spreads manure soil once in a while. But that doesn't seem to be enough. Luckily, we got to know a gardener who visited last weekend, changed the soil ("repotting" in his terms) and put some new seeds. Though his charges were high, we were quite satisfied to see our garden after his efforts.

Now after a span of four days, while I was watering the plants and I see those cute, tiny plants which seem to peep out of the soil to see the outside world, my joy knew no bounds. I started to count these saplings and I prayed that they should grow properly. Sometimes, these little things that happen to us add a lot of joy and make our days happy.

I remember one of my neighbours used to grow many plants in her little balcony that it actually looked like a mini-forest. She had crotons, flowering plants, creepers and most importantly, rampha (not sure about the spelling) whose leaves she used in Biriyani. It used to add a lot of flavour. Another neighbour allocated a patch of land in the backyard where she used to grow different kinds of greens. Gardening can be a great hobby to anyone irrespective of age or place.

I plan to add more greens and vegetables that I can use for cooking. Vegetable garden - how cute this term is !

I want to...

I want to write
something interesting,
something worthwhile,
something to cherish.

Words, reflections
of my feelings,
of my thoughts,
of my life.

I ponder,
I wonder,
I crib,
I laugh.

This is my space,
free to express
free to write
free to chat.

Jul 11, 2006

Sorting hat puts me into......

Ravenclaw....Not Gryffindor, at the same time not Slytherin as well. It was an interesting way to figure out my house. I'm intelligent (yeah, more a Tuby!), capable (God didn't know which particular talent to bestow upon me, so he gave me everything) and witty.

Looking at the scores, I'm pretty much a mixed bag of qualities. Now, can someone please give me a ticket to Hogwarts Express. It's high time I start my first year before Harry, Ron and Hermione pass out of the school.

Which Hogwarts house will you be sorted into?

Your in-depth results are:

Ravenclaw - 12
Gryffindor - 11
Hufflepuff - 10
Slytherin - 8

Jul 10, 2006

FRIENDS - wow !

It might come as a surprise or a shock to a few people if I say that I haven't watched Friends serial until last Saturday. I got a chance to watch a few of them in DVDs and I enjoyed so much that I laughed continuously for 3 hours. The expressions were just amazing. Being a passionate toastmaster, I could easily relate to the importance of body language and how it can impact the audience. I especially liked the character of Chandler. His dialogue delivery and timings were superb. My friend Biju was comparing me to Phoebe, a stupid tuby she is. Oh, the part where she tried to impress her boy friend's parents was so stupid but enjoyable. The best part was the way they fight for Ross and Rachel's daughter, Emma. Adding to my wish list - to watch all the episodes.

"Friends" - very interesting to watch with friends. :-)

Delhi is not far

The title intrigued me, and noting that the author is Ruskin Bond made me pick this title from a local library. I haven't read his novels before but have read his short stories and I thorougly enjoyed them.

This novel is about the protogonist who moves from a small town to the capital in pursuit of his dreams of becoming a writer. How he becomes friends with the young boy,Suraj and the barber is another interesting plot. The narration of Ruskin Bond seems to captivate me a lot , in terms of the way he explains the town, the streets, the distant fields, rains etc. He makes you picturize the entire town in minute detail. A very key resemblance to that of R.K. Narayan's. Though it wasn't very gripping, it was a good read for a couple of hours. I plan to read other titles of Ruskin Bond. Any suggestions?

A garden, no more

A small house in the far end of the plot, with a nice, little garden in it's front, showcasing flowering plants like jasmine, december, kanakambaram (what's the English word?), huge fruit bearing trees like banana, mango and guava (white and pink varieties) etc. The whole street could smell the fragrance of curry leaves and eucalyptus. No one bought curry leaves from the shops. They plucked it from our little garden. Can you believe that a drumstick plucked from that garden costs 25 paise? (I checked out in Foodworld yesterday - 2 drumsticks cost 5 rupees, Inflation ! I suppose). Our evening tiffin was always served on fresh, green badam leaves.

15 years later, there is no trace of jasmine or december plants. The shoulders of banana trees are drooping. I can see only the trunk of the drumstick tree but no trace of the vegetable. The curry leaves are dried out. The guava and eucalyptus trees are gone. The house is not the same. The garden is no longer there. That's my grandpa's house, my dear readers.

Change is inevitable. A beautiful garden now changed to dry shrubs and withered leaves. There is no one to feed them, no one to talk to them and caress with love, no one to play 'iceboys' and hide inside the dense shrubs and behind the thick trunk.

My childhood memories are always linked to that little garden of ours. It was my study area, my play area, a place where I used to chat with my cousins, a place where I used to sit and watch the morning sky, the chirping birds and listen to Thiruppaavai (a set of hymns sung by the goddess Aandaal) being played in the Ram temple just behind my house, a place where I used to wake up as early as 4 AM and observe my grandma , blowing air to light up the fireplace and put kolam (rangoli) in front of our house. My eyes are brimmed with tears now. Change is inevitable.

My grandpa used to draw water from the well and water the plants everyday. We (My brother and I), as little kids used to pluck the flowers early morning and give it to our grandma for the Pooja. Our neighbours would come to pluck curry leaves for their cooking needs. No restrictions to anyone. The vegetable vendor with her huge basket would visit us once a week to buy drumsticks (I reiterate, 25 paise per piece). My grandma in her leisure time would string the jasmine buds neatly. Weekends and summer vacations were heaven. We used to climb the guava trees and pluck the juicy, sweet guavas.

Monsoons brought a fresh fragrance to our garden, with rain drops on the leaves. We used shake the trees and enjoy the drops that fell on us. Weekend afternoons was a chill retreat, with grandma placing balls of curd rice on our little palms, sitting in our garden and we, relishing it.

Due to the frenetic lifestyle of the others living there and my senile grandpa, our garden is no more the heaven it used to be. My friendly trees have become senile too. There is no one to take care of them. Death is inevitable.

Jun 29, 2006

Few coins everyday !

One strange act I keep observing among the bus conductors these days is adding a few coins everyday to their pockets (Yes, I mean it). My home is very close to my office and I use the public transportation to travel this short distance. Many a times, the bus conductor asks for 3 or 4 rupees and never gives a ticket. When I ask him/her (there is no gender bias here !) to give me a ticket, they claim that the ticket price is 6 rupees. Initially I didn't understand this (I'm a tuby, isn't it?). Then when I thought about it for a while, I understood what was happening.

If you are going to get down within a couple of bus stops, there is no need of a ticket and the conductor pockets the few coins. That's what he claims. Given the crowd of local bus transportation in Bangalore and the absence of ticket checkers (I haven't seen one in the past four years here ! I had seen many ticket checkers in metro trains in Chennai) , I wonder what would be the total amount these conductors would be making per day, per month. It should be huge definitely.

I'm not referring to bus conductors as a whole here but to the few who are spoiling the reputation of a conductor's job. I have respect for their hard work; Standing the whole day on the bus, penetrating the thickest crowds to reach the other end - not an easy job at all. I have seen few dedicated conductors and have admired their quick act of giving tickets.

I urge all of you who are travelling by public buses to ensure that you get a ticket even if it is going to cost you two or three rupees more. Our money should go to the concerned transportation office and not to the greedy conductors.

Jun 27, 2006

Unexpectedly good

There are many movies where you expect good songs but they turn out to be disappointed (Did I mention about God Father before?). There are few movies where you don't expect anything (you are not even aware such movies actually got released) but the songs turn out to be mind blowing. Few such songs from the new Tamil releases below. Let me know if you agree (or disagree) :-)

Unnai Kandene in Paarijaatham is such a beautiful song. There is a breeze of freshness in the female singer's voice. Such a romantic song it is ! The beats are amazing. I heard that the music director Tarun is a new face. Very good debut, Tarun. I have no words to appreciate the lyrics.

Ragasiyamanadhu Kaadhal in Kodambakkam is another master piece of melody. Thanks to Sun Music, I get to hear this song almost everyday. I don't have any idea about when this movie got released and who are those actors. I couldn't recognize the male singer but I know for sure that the female singer is Harini, one of my favourites. Again the lyrics are superb here.

Sudum Nilavu in Thambi brings together Unni Krishnan and Harini , one of the best pair of singers. I didn't expect good songs in an action movie like Thambi. But I was wrong. This is such a cute song, both the music and picturization are good. Isn't Pooja looking stunning these days? The white salwar she wears for this song suits her very well.

Poi Solla poren in Thiruttu Payale is a peppy number and is very unique with the lyrics sung by the hero and the one-liners spoken by the heroine. The locations are very nice and the dance movements are good as well. A feel good song this is !

To add to this list, there is this new movie where I expected the songs to be good and actually they are excellent :-) Can you guess which movie is that ! If you guess it is "Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyadu" , you are 100% right. Harris and Gowtham combination always works ! Out of the five songs, I love four of them.

The lyricist Thamarai deserves a big round of applause to cater to the taste of youth with making use of only Tamil words (Yes, you read it right. She never uses any English words in her lyrics).

Bombay Jayashree has sung a beautiful song yet again, this time with Unni Menon (remember him!). She prefers quality more than quantity.

Listen to this album and I'm sure you are gonna love it !

Jun 26, 2006

The first difficult step !

A huge verandah it was, open to the sky ! Green grass was spread on the floor like a bed. Little Tinu had come home early from school. The headmaster had agreed to let the kinder garden kids leave soon, fearing it might rain heavily. Tinu was pretty excited to see the dark clouds, threatening to pour down.

He sat on the grass bed, observing them. He could recognize the different faces the clouds depicted. He could make out a lion's head, a goat's horns and a crow's beak. He didn't mind the fact that his house doors were locked and no one was there at home. He was enjoying the weather, the looming clouds and the cool breeze.

He felt the first drop of the rain on his cheek. His joy knew no bounds. He was about to experience the first rain in his four years of life. His mom had never allowed him to play in the rains, fearing he might catch cold.

He started counting the droplets - oneeeee, twoooo, threee, four, five....He couldn't catch up with the speed of the rain drops. It was pouring heavily and Tinu was getting drenched. But Tinu didn't bother about his dresses and shoes getting wet. He was dancing and running merrily. At one point, he slipped over the slimy mud and fell down. Instead of crying as he used to, he was laughing happily. The mud didn't hurt him. After raining continuously for 30 minutes, it stopped all of a sudden. Tinu looked up towards the clouds but they were gone. He could see the clear blue sky.

Tinu's mother had not yet come from her office. He started feeling hungry. By then, his aunt who stays in the neighbourhood saw him drenched. She took him to her house, changed his clothes and offered him sandwiches. Tinu switched on the TV, selecting his favourite cartoon channel. Tom and Jerry were there to give him company. Watching Tom dancing in the rain, he gave a smile "Tom, I got drenched today for the first time. Isn't it so wonderful?". At that time, he didn't even give a thought about his mom's reactions when she comes to know about it.

Jun 14, 2006

A 'sweet' restart

Gulab Jamuns, Rasgullas, Soan Papdis, Gajar Ka Halwa - Is your mouth watering reading these delicious desserts? I got this craving for Indian desserts. Craving might be a lighter word, perhaps. I love them and I simply adore these delicacies. Whoever invented these, God bless their souls.

From my childhood, I always preferred Indian sweets to any other kind of desserts. Even now, when I had to choose between the two cuisines served during lunch at office, I always choose the one which has a better dessert; And if there is gulab jamun in one of the menus, I don't even take a look at the other menu. I still remember those rasgulla tins my dad used to buy during Diwali. I never eat jamuns or rasgullas in one go , rather I relish them bite by bite, slowly as the piece melts down in my tongue. Hmm....heaven !

Donuts, pies, pastries and puddings can never even come close to what the Indian sweets offer to our taste buds. Even the simplest sweet of all, Payasam (Kheer) - doesn't it taste so great? How many of you agree that icecream when tasted with hot jamuns or gajar halwa is amazing compared to eating icecreams alone? I love the rasmalais served in KC Das outlets and the melting "Mysore Pak" of Shri Krishna sweets.

In terms of South Indian sweets, I like all varieties of payasams, especially like the ones made using jaggery. The festival specialities are superb. I miss the vella cheedais (small balls made using jaggery and flour) and adhirasams my grandma used to make during Krishna Jayanti. And all the pori urundais made during Karthigai Deepam!!! Lovely.....The bad news is that they are made only once a year. Is there anything to beat our very own sweet pongal?

I plan to buy a recipe book dedicated to Indian sweets and become an expert in preparing them so I can try out the traditional sweets menu during the festival season.

May 17, 2006

வருக வருக !

Wrote this poem while returning home from work last night and heavy rains lashing the city

விரைந்து வருகிறாய்
பூமித்தாய்க்கு முத்தமிட
திரண்டு ஓடுகிறாய்
வெள்ளாற்றில் கலக்க

நீ தொடும் வேளையில்
மண்ணிற்கு புது வாசனை
எனக்குள் பொங்கும்
மங்காத ரசனை

உன்னை வரவேற்கும்
கதிர் வீசும் சூரியனும்
வெட்கத்தில் மறையும்

மின்னல் சிரிப்பில்
நீ பிரகாசிப்பாய்
இடி முழக்கத்தில்
நீ எதிரொலிப்பாய்

உன்னால் குளிரும்
உயிர்கள் உள்ளம்
உன்னால் விளையும்
பயிர்கள் செல்வம்

உன்னை கரம்பிடிக்க
என் கண்கள் காத்திருக்க
வந்தாய் நீ மழையே
தந்தாய் புது இசையே

A rough English translation

Welcome !

You reach quickly
to kiss mother nature
You flow swiftly
to reach the river

The moment you touch
The soil exudes a new smell
Blossoming in me
a never-ending admiration

Clouds gather
to welcome you
The bright sun
sets blushed

A lightning smile
for you to glow
A thunder blast
for you to echo

You cool
the soul of lives
You create
the wealth of crops

My eyes wait
to capture you
Here you come, Oh rain
Here you give, new music

May 12, 2006

And my vote goes to.....

No, this post is not about the elections that had come and gone.

As kids, many would have fond memories of chocolates or icecreams. My memories are mostly based on bikis or biscuits. I love them in different shapes and tastes. The taste has evolved as I grew up.

I still remember the Farex box where my grandma used to store bommai bikis (biscuits shaped like dolls, fish, duck etc). Every evening, I would open that box and only take shapes that has a head. I derived a lot of pleasure in eating heads :-) My dad would ensure that there are always enough bommai biscuits stocked. Then came the entry of Brittania Milk Bikis. 2 milk bikis + a glass of Boost - a perfect combination to begin a day. Although I never liked Marie Biscuits, I tried it once in a while. My brother and I had a unique style of eating Marie. We first ate the outer circle bite by bite and then went to the inner circle.

I would be doing injustice to the world of biscuits if I forget to mention the yummy cream biscuits. Split the sticky biscuits and lick the strawberry flavored cream - Heaven, isn't it? My aunt would always stock cream biscuits for me and when I visit her in the evenings after school, she would feed me with cream biscuits and Complan. My next favorite pack was Krackjack. The blend of salt and sweet taste was very nice and it goes well with coffee. The salt biscuits make a perfect mid day snack.

Then came the world of Good Day and Bourbon biscuits. They used to serve as my breakfast during my early office days. Chocochips was another favorite. While watching a movie, I eat these biscuits one by one and finish the whole packet in one go.

One great thing about biscuits is that you can never put on weight even if you eat a lot of them. It's not the same with chocolates and icecream.
Oops.....I'm going to get bashings for such a statement from my hubby ;-)

May 10, 2006

The essential change

"Wake up, Tina. It's already 7. You got to get ready for college", Tina's mom was shouting from the kitchen. A bright Monday morning. But Tina woke up with a dull face. Ever since she joined college, her enthusiasm was completely lost. She was expecting more from college life, not just in terms of fun and frolic but also in terms of knowledge and career growth. But like any other college, her's too was caught up with the same conventional mechanical mode of teaching, attendance, exams etc.

Rushing towards the bus stop with her assignment notes, Tina managed to catch the bus. Her best friend, Deepa greeted her with a broad smile. "Looks like you had completed your assignment. I have 4 hours from now to finish copying. I'm gonna start right away. " demanded Deepa, grabbing the microprocessors assignment from Tina's hands. "Assignments mean copying from a book to a piece of paper word by word, I suppose" , commented Tina with a sarcastic smile.

The bus stopped at RK Layout and Lakshman, another friend of Tina boarded the bus. "Hey laks, completed the assignment?", asked Deepa, without looking at his face but focussed on copying from Tina's papers. "I don't plan to write it. What's the point of copying? There is no proper evaluation system. Whoever writes the maximum number of pages get good grades. Absolute waste of time", cribbed Laks.

"Very true. I have been wondering for the past 2 years asking myself what I've been doing in an engineering college. Feel like I'm going to a primary school everyday. An outdated syllabus, lecturers who collect notes from previous year students and dictate verbatim everyday which we are supposed to copy, exams every month and evaluation system based on the number of pages you scribble. On top of all that, students who read the last minute guides score good marks and are considered genius. Ridiculous. It's not surprising that many students go abroad for higher education" spoke Tina in a single breath.

"I agree with you, Tina. There are so many things to learn, explore and try out. But we are never allowed to do. The exam pressures and these useless assignments take away our precious time. We don't have the chance to experiment. Failure is considered taboo in our education system. Peer pressure, family responsibilities and societal rules prevent us from taking unconventional paths. These subjective exams should be totally abolished" Laks vented out his frustration.

"Hey, you two, We have to adjust with the system here. If not, then we cannot succeed in our lives. We have to clear these exams and get good grades. Or else we will be jobless. Be practical, guys" said a supposed-to-be-realistic Deepa.

"If we don't oppose, this system is going to remain forever. We will never be innovative and experimenting. We will become averse to risk taking. This is going to affect us as well as our society in the long run. We need to act fast" Laks suggested.

"So what do you plan to do? Do you think the present education methodology can be changed for the good?" Deepa questioned.

"Yes, I do think it's possible, Deepa. It is definitely in the hands of students. I know this can't be changed overnight. But we can take the first step which our juniors can take it forward. We should talk to our lecturers to challenge our knowledge in a more creative fashion rather than through a subjective exam. If not at the university exams level, we should atleast try different methodologies in class tests and assignments. We can talk to our seniors abroad who are pursuing higher studies to find out the unique teaching styles and discuss with our profs here, atleast to profs who would listen to our ideas in a positive way" said Tina.

Deepa and Laks were very impressed with Tina's suggestions. The college bus reached the college gates and the security guard opened the gate. Tina felt that this is a positive opening which is going to revolutionize the education system.

PS : This short story is the way I think about changing our education system - bottom-top approach which I strongly believe would be more effective. Whoever is reading this article and have ideas that can change our current education system in a positive way, please post them as a comment.

May 8, 2006

Thrilled !

What a week it was ! My blog suffered due to angels and daemons. Now don't have any vague imaginations. I'm talking about Dan Brown's Angels and Daemons. I borrowed it from the library and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. What a thriller ! I was reading a few pages every weekday evening and completed it over the weekend.

I had read the Davinci Code by the same author a year ago and was very impressed. When I had enrolled myself as a member of a library nearby, the first book I enquired about was Angels and Daemons. After 4 weeks, I got a chance to borrow it. I'm not going to write any spoilers here. The gist of the story is about the conflicts between science and religion, narrated at a lightning pace with lots of twists and turns. Beware if you are reading alone sitting on your bed in the night. You might get scared like me. During those scary times, I used to put down the book and take a short walk to the kitchen and come back, just to make sure that I'm in Bangalore and not in Sistine Chapel in Vatican.

As far as the characters go, the hero Robert Langdon is an amazing guy, he comes up with those quick thoughts to unravel the mysteries. The way he solves the puzzle one by one leading upto the path was awesome. The ending was totally unexpected. I never thought that Mr.X (no spoilers !!!) would be the one who is behind the master plan. The most admiring thing about the writer is the way he interludes reality with fiction. Sometimes it makes you wonder as though the story narrated is completely real.

I highly recommend this book to people who like thrillers.

Apr 20, 2006

Arranged or Love?

The thoughts are my own and not meant to oppose or hurt anyone else's views. So I don't expect a counter argument as a comment :-)

If you wish to oppose, please write an article in your blog.

Here goes my take on Arranged v/s Love marriages.

Arranged marriage query :-

age > :bride_age -- the bride's age should always be less than the bridegroom
AND bank_balance > :an_exorbitant_amount
AND own_a_house_flag = 'Y'
AND own_a_car_flag = 'Y'
AND exists (SELECT 1 FROM best_horoscopes
WHERE bachelor_id = list_of_eligible_bachelors.bachelor_id)
AND salary > :bride_salary
-- Very important clause, cannot do away with this condition
AND religion = :religion_of_bride
AND caste = :caste_of_bride
AND sub_caste = :subcaste_of_bride
AND ........................ -- Conditions to be added in the subsequent releases

Love marriage query :-

good_qualities = 'Y'
AND match_tastes = 'Y'

PS : I'm an Oracle application developer :-)

Apr 18, 2006

பகல் நேர உளறல்கள் - பாகம் 2

இரவு வரும் வரை
நிலவு காத்திருப்பதில்லை
கால்தடம் வரும் வரை
கடல் அலை காத்திருப்பதில்லை

வண்டு வரும் வரை
பூக்கள் காத்திருப்பதில்லை
காதல் வரும் வரை
கனவு காத்திருப்பதில்லை

ஆதவன் வரும் வரை
பறவை காத்திருப்பதில்லை
ஆசை வரும் வரை
கடிகாரம் காத்திருப்பதில்லை

வார்த்தை வரும் வரை
பேனா காத்திருப்பதில்லை
வடிவம் வரும் வரை
சிற்பம் காத்திருப்பதில்லை

A rough translation in English

Afternoon ramblings - Part 2

The moon doesn't
wait for the night
The waves doesn't
wait for the footprints

The flowers doesn't
wait for the bee
The dream doesn't
wait for love

The bird doesn't
wait for the sun
The wish doesn't
wait for the clock

The pen doesn't
wait for words
The sculpture doesn't
wait for a shape

பகல் நேர உளறல்கள் - பாகம் 1

கறை இல்லாத நிலவு உண்டா
குறை இல்லாத மனிதன் உண்டா

சிறகு இல்லாத பறவை உண்டா
சிரிப்பு இல்லாத குழந்தை உண்டா

முள் இல்லாத பாதை உண்டா
'செல்' இல்லாத உயிர் உண்டா

கனவு இல்லாத வாழ்க்கை உண்டா
விடியல் இல்லாத இரவு உண்டா

அனுபவம் இல்லாத கவிதை உண்டா
அபிநயம் இல்லாத பரதம் உண்டா

புதுமை இல்லாத புரட்சி உண்டா
பசுமை இல்லாத நாட்கள் உண்டா

A rough translation in English

Afternoon ramblings - Part 1

Is there a moon
without a shade?
Is there a man
without a problem?

Is there a bird
without a wing?
Is there a baby
without a smile?

Is there a path
without a thorn?
Is there a life
without a cell?

Is there a life
without a dream?
Is there a night
without a dawn?

Is there a poem
without an experience?
Is there a dance
without an expression?

Is there a revolution
without a new idea?
Is there a day
without a pleasant feel?

Narayan's Days

RK Narayan's autobiography "My Days" sounds very similar to his novels; touch, feel, words - everything similar. He is no way less naughtier than Swami. His college life is no way less happening than Chandran's. His love for his wife is no way less special than Krishna's.

The roads of Madras with trams and jutka carts, temples of Mylapore, less crowded beach where he takes a stroll engrossed in thoughts, unperturbed by noise - I wish Madras could be the same as explained by Narayan. I came to know that there was a time when four rupees was equivalent to a dollar !

Narayan's words portray his passion for writing and struggles he faced to get his first novel published. The most fascinating thing that stands out in this book is the manner in which he takes the readers through his journey, his pains, his struggles, his family, his publication "Indian Thought" and his dreams using such wonderful anecdotes. Every novel of his is related to his life directly. Inspite of all the discouragement he faced from his family members and humiliation from the society, he has turned out to be a wonderful, simplistic writer.

Though it was a good read, I felt the ending could have been better. It was more abrupt. I agree that logically speaking, an autobiography is not supposed to have an end. But it could have been made more captivating. Anyway, a nice read on a long weekend.

Apr 7, 2006

Being Cyrus - An unworthy hype

I learnt that I should never believe in the ratings given by the leading newspapers. A marketing gimmick, it is.
I learnt that I should never really ask for opinion from others before I decide to watch a movie. Opinions differ from person to person.
I learnt that I should never watch such gloomy movies on a weekday evening. My rest of the week gets spoilt.

Nothing much to write about this very hyped movie. A slow paced, predictable series of events. Many actors' potential has been wasted. For instance, Naseeruddin Shah. Such a talented actor he is but has no significant role to play in the film. Dimple Kapadia, the less said, the better. Boman Irani, a good comedian who proved his talent in Munna Bhai is fighting with a dog here and that's supposed to be the humour part of this movie. Hahaha....we laughed not for the comedian but for the director who thinks that Indian audience can laugh for anything.

But we should definitely appreciate the director for taking a dark, gloomy way in an un-Bollywood fashion. Imagine the same story to be directed by the director who prefers to name his movie starting with K. When Saif kills the old man, a background music of 'Aaaaaa' would have been played. When Saif talks to her sister in the last scene, it would have been so emotional with tears flowing out of the movie screens and drenching the audience. When Dimple and Boman were speaking over the phone, it would have been followed by a romantic song with the couple running on Swiss mountains.

Saif has done a commendable job and proved that he can take up serious roles as well apart from his running-behind-girls kind of roles. If you are a serious Saif fan, go and watch "Being Cyrus" but if you are a serious fan of Saif's comedy, avoid watching this dull and boring movie.

Apr 3, 2006

A daemon to our kids

You : Madam, are you aware of Child Sexual Abuse and how this can affect your child?
Parent1 : It may not happen to my kid. He is brought up in such a good environment.
CSA happens only with kids from poor socio-economic background.
Parent2 : To my kid? He is a boy. CSA will not affect him in any way.
Parent3 : My kid is just 3 months old. Are you kidding?

These are the possible replies you might get when you talk about to CSA to common people. So many myths spread about CSA everywhere. Thanks to Dream a Dream, we had the privilege of attending one of the informative workshops on CSA yesterday.

The facilitator first introduced us to what falls under child sexual abuse and what are the common myths prevailing in the society. It can happen to any child, irrespective of gender, age or socio-economic background. There could be long term as well as short term effects on the children's well-being depending on the intensity to which they have been abused.

The effects can range from sudden withdrawal from outdoor activities to emotional disturbances to development of new phobias to depression. There are organizations to conduct counselling sessions to bring such children back to their normal lives. But as the old saying says "Prevention is always better than cure".

Awareness and proper education on such issues are the key measures in order to abolish child sexual abuse. The kids have to be educated and given age appropriate information. Bringing awareness among illiterate parents is another important step.

Parents, care takers and volunteers should keep a watch on the kids to recognize any sudden change in their behaviour. Most importantly, parents should believe what their kid says and not shun away the reality. A thorough investigation has to be done in case they suspect any symptoms.

Eliminating CSA and protecting our kids from this daemon is a huge project in itself but we have taken the first step.

Apr 2, 2006

By the river Piedra, I sat down and wept

Another gem of a book by Paulo Coelho. I have read his "Alchemist" and "Veronica decides to die" and was very impressed with the way he puts down his thoughts.

This one "By the river...." is a story about Pilar, a young girl who meets his childhood friend and embark on her life changing journey together. There are not many characters in this story which makes the flow simple to understand. Typical of Coelho's works, this book also has interesting messages interspersed at appropriate places along with the storyline.

With due credits to the author, I'm pointing out a few thoughts that made a big impression on me.

"Everyday God gives us the sun - and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy. Everyday we try to pretend that we haven't perceived that moment, that it doesn't exist - that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment."

"Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks.Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps he won't suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow. But when that person looks back, he will hear his heart saying 'What have you done with the miracles that God planted on your days? What have you done with the talents that God bestowed on you?......"

"The 'Other' is the one who taught me what I should be like, but not what I am. The Other believes that it is our obligation to spend our entire life thinking about how to get our hands on as much money as possible so that we will not die of hunger when we are old..... I am just like everyone else who is enchanted by the mystery of life, who is open to miracles, who experiences joy and enthusiasm for what I do. It's just that the Other, afraid of disappointment, kept me from taking action"

"The adventurous are the ones who had climbed the mountains first, the ones who had found the routes to the top. And their eyes were the first to take in that view. Fortunates are those who take the first steps"

This is the last sentence of the book - "Dreams mean work". Can there be a better ending to a story that talks about the importance of following your dreams and discovering magic moments in life?

Mar 31, 2006

The making of "Poli - an experiment blended with creativity "

Decided to make Poli (Obbattu in Kannada) on the occasion of Ugadi. I placed the recipe book on top of the microwave and started the process. The first line in the recipe said "Soak the bengal gram dhal for some time". I've been cooking for the past three years but I can never remember that Bengal gram dhal is kadalaparuppu. A few minutes went off in looking at the index and confirming that it was indeed kadalaparuppu. Next question came immediately to my mind - What is "some time"? How many hours do I need to soak the dhal? I decided "Let it soak for one hour".

Next came the big challenge. The second line was "Take maida or white wheat flour and make it into a smooth dough". Good, I have an option to choose since I didn't have maida at home. I took the wheat flour but it wasn't pure white. Forget it, so what if the colour doesn't match the exact requirements? I made a smooth dough but it became a bit soggy. So I had to allow the dough to soak for a while so that the moisture gets absorbed. Anyway, I had to wait till the dhal gets soaked.

The next one hour was filled with anxiety and a hint of tension. This happens whenever I try a new, complicated dish. Blog hopping came to my rescue for that crucial one hour. I returned back to see the dhal well soaked but the wheat dough was still soggy. I had to do some patching to bring it to a consistent, non-sticky state by adding some more wheat flour. Then I started boiling the dhal and within 10 minutes, it got cooked well. Meanwhile, I broke the jaggery into pieces and took a cup of shredded coconut. Next the dhal had to be ground to a coarse paste. I was skeptical to add water while grinding. What if it turns to a liquid consistency? I had a backup plan that if turns that way, I can convert it to a payasam (kheer). Thankfully, the dhal was in a semi-solid state after grinding.

Next comes the interesting and tough task - melt the jaggery. Initially it started to stick and hence I added a little water. My hands were paining a bit when I was stirring the jaggery continuously. Then the dhal and coconut gave company to the melting jaggery. The aroma of this combo was mesmerizing and my taste buds got activated. Even after 15 minutes of continuous stirring, the mixture didn't come to a consistency by which I can make small balls out of it. Another 15 minutes passed with a good amount of doubt and anxiety occupying my senses.

I looked at the clock and it was already 12.30. Oh my god, I still haven't prepared any dish for lunch. A short pause was indeed needed to let the jaggery mixture cool down. Multitasking and multiprocessing enabled me to complete the lunch dishes in 90 minutes, Multitasking wherein I was making sambhar and rasam in parallel, multiprocessing wherein my hubby was helping me with cutting vegetables :-)

I came back to the poli ingredients and started to make balls with the wheat dough. I could feel the stickiness in my hands. "No problem, add some more flour", instructed my brain. The actual execution steps began.

(1) I made a small chapati out of a dough ball. Yippee, it didn't stick to the plate.
(2) I placed a small ball of the jaggery mixture and rolled it.
(3) Praying to God, I started making chapati again out of the now-increased-in-size ball. Oops, it started to stick and I couldn't take it out.

I took another ball, same steps, same result. I was feeling damn hungry by then. I realized that this is not going to work out. I followed steps (1) and (2) but instead of making a big chappati, I made into a shape of kozhukkatai (semi circular shaped with jaggery filling) and fried it.

Thank goodness, the wheat dough was little in quantity and the jaggery mixture was more. I was able to make 5 kozhukkatais and the rest of the jaggery mixture into a yummy payasam. The time was 2:30 and we tasted my poli-turned-into-a-kozhukkatai-and-payasam with lunch. It wasn't tasting that bad after all the effort that had gone into it's making.

My landlord brought us a couple of Polis from his house. I was comparing my version with that. How different world is and how different cuisines are?

Can you identify my unique experiment below? ;-)

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