Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year - 2013!



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Next Phase In Our Life...Shifting From House To A Flat!

I will miss my garden! 

Everybody must be familiar with my house by now via 'my garden', 'pets' and other posts.  This is my husband's dream house.  He built it at the age of 50! Until then we were living in rented houses! So, this house is special for us!

When we built this house, it was in the outskirts of Chennai.  Now, it is inside the city. This area was an industrial area, so it had less residential houses.  It had started developing then...i.e. 16 years back.  Now, this is an IT hub and many IT staff live here and naturally, many new colonies have sprung up in this area...Perungudi, Old Mahabalipuram Road.

Our house is in the main road and all the vehicles and people use this road to reach their places. The dust is so much that even if I clean the furniture in the morning, they will have a coat of dust by evening! When we go out of town for a couple of days, we keep all the windows closed. Still, when we come back, the whole house will be full of dust...we start sneezing and our throats get irritated. Everybody was asking us to shift to some cleaner atmosphered area for a long time. So, we decided to move to a flat, a couple of years back.

The flat is in a 'gated community' and is in a dead end road.  We will get good sea breeze which will make the area less polluted. But I will miss this house for a long time...until I am active and healthy at least! This is quite a big house.  It is not easy to get servant maids to clean it.  I don't have many close friends here...well, not even one 'close' friend!

I will never have a pooja room as beautiful as we have, here. Though we are trying make a replica of this pooja room in the new flat! Though I am not very religious, this pooja room gives us a nice feeling when we enter our house. Everybody says so! I love the ritual of going round the house and upstairs with my cats in the mornings, to pluck flowers. I love watering the plants.  I can sense the plants' happiness when I spray water on them to remove the dust! I will definitely miss my garden. I will miss watching the butterflies which come to suck honey from the exora flowers.  Though I don't hear the sounds of birds as much as I heard when we moved in here, still some koels and humming birds and brown sparrows make enough sounds.  The crows which come everyday to feed on the curd rice from me, will miss me, I am sure! We have a coconut tree, a teak tree, a huge neem tree which attract birds all the time. I love watching them in daytime when I am alone at home to entertain myself!

We did the gruhapravesh function of the flat recently.  This Kaarthigai month is good for doing the function, it seems.  The flat is not yet ready for occupation.  It will be ready in March/April.  We invited just a few close relatives but did all the homas...Ganapathy homa (Lord Ganesha should be worshipped before starting anything), Vaastu homa (asking nature to pardon us for disturbing her...cutting trees, disturbing the birds, digging the earth etc.), navagraha homa (to pacify the stars which influence our lives), Dhanvatri and Mrithyunjaya homa (for peace at home and good health) and Sudarshana homa (read the link for detailed description of this homa pl.).

But the function started with Gopooja...'Go' means cow... for us, Hindus the animal cow is very sacred.  We believe that Goddess Lakshmi resides at the back of the cow. We do pooja first to the cow along with her calf.  Both of them should enter the new house and sanctify it. Govisarjan is treated as a purifier in our religion (in the early days the cows used to eat lots of herbs in the fields or open space along with grass and so their urine was treated as green grass is not to be seen in the city and they eat dry grass/straw and sometimes paper too!).  Still the rituals continue! And I forgot to tell you one thing...we do Gruhapravesh when the house is 80% to 90% complete/ready for occupation, as far as possible! If we are buying a ready-made flat, we ignore this point! My son laughs when I talk about the rituals.  I just ask him to take everything easy...'we had been following these things and have not lost anything and these are harmless easy rituals too! Just enjoy even if you are laughing inside your heart!'

Gopooja...cow and calf! The mother ate the bananas with skin but the son wanted me to remove the skin and feed him! I did happily! He had a nice, shiny coat of fur!

We had arranged for food with a caterer, Aiyyar Caterers.  One plate of breakfast food costed Rs.100 (Idly, Vada, Khichdi, Sevai, Halwa for sweet with saambaar and 2 chutneys).  The cost of one plate of lunch was Rs.200 (the normal 2 currys,avial (mixed vegetables cooked with curd and coconut), 2 salads/pachchdis, mixed rice, appalam, chips, thayir vadai (dahi vada, which is his famous item!), Paayasam, Saambaar, more kuzhambu, rasam with a special sweet, Kaaju Mysore paak! Everybody said that the food was superb.  I write this in detail for people to know how we serve food when we conduct a function at home! If anybody is interested in good food, you can call him in this no. Hari (9840027800).  The food was so good that I am advertising him!

We follow another custom here.  When we build a 'house', we feed the workers on the day they put concrete on the roof.  It is tradition.  Most of us follow.  When this house was built. I made paayasam in a big vessel and brought here and distributed in paper cups.  We had asked a few workers to cook veg. biriyani to feed them.  Now, in this flat we fed around 110 workers on the day of the Gruhapravesh. Our lunch. I felt happy to see their happy faces.  Some of them told me that the food was good.

Another reason for us to leave this beatiful house is the ditch which flows close to our compound.  Let me write about it later.

My feeling is sort of 50/50.  This is a nice house but difficult to maintain/with all the pollution.  The flat is a 'flat' but in a cleaner area.  We have stopped going for the morning walks because of the heavy traffic on our road - IT taxis which come to pick up their staff.  Hope to resume it in the new area.  Everything looks green green now.  We will know how life is going to be once we move in, in the flat.

Wish me luck, friends!

Sorry, my story has become tooooo long!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Got An Award...Sunshine Award...lallallaaaaa...!


Haaa...I got the above 'Sunshine Award' from Destination Infinity  recently with a beautiful note on me!

About Sunshine award:

The Sunshine Award is an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. The recipients of the Sunshine Award are: “Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” The way the award works is this: Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. Answer questions about yourself. Select 10 of your favorite bloggers, link their blogs to your post and let them know they have been awarded the Sunshine Award!

Am I inspiring somebody? If so, I am very happy! This is a booster to me, D.I.! Destination Infinity alias Rajesh (I address him as Destination Infinity always because I came to know him by this name!) is a serious blogger who covers all subjects like music, travel (which is new!), short stories etc. and many more.  His auto-biography is talk of the town (bloggers') now.  He has got a great sense of humour.  I remember reading some stories which made me laugh a lot! The short stories are old I think. Write more D.I.! And I should not forget to mention about his posts on cookery! I had been reading his posts for a long time now!

Ten questions (and answers) about me:

1. Favorite Time of the year?

Chennai's rainy season which we get occassionally!

2. Favorite festive movie?

Same like D.I. said! I haven't seen any movie based on festivals! My favourite movie list is long in English, Hindi and Tamil! I seem to write often on 'Sound of Music' and quote 'Gods Must be crazy', 'Chupke, Chupke', etc.!

3. What’s your passion?

It was reading earlier, then music, now blogging  and reading others' blogs! Passion of cooking is slowly slowing down! Music is still there!

4. Favorite colour?


5. Favorite time of the day?

Early mornings!

6. Favorite flower?


7. Favorite non-alcoholic beverage?

Fresh juices!

8. Favorite physical activity?

I would like to say sleeping like D.I., but it is evading me nowadays! It is or anyother way! Walking too!

9. Favorite vacation?

Would love to visit the places near the Himalayas!

Now, awarding the award starts.  Most of these people don't do tags.  I also don't do tags often.  Am very lazy about it.  Anyway, let me acknowledge them.  But D.I., you come first! The others follow:

1. Kavita I love to read her posts about Assam...their foods, interesting places etc. I came to know a lot about North eastern countries because of her!

2. The Cyber nag I started reading her posts recently.  Her writing is amazing...clear thoughts...writes to the point on different subjects.  I am learning a lot from her.

3. K.Parthasarathy He is good in writing short stories with interesting twists.  The narration is always interesting.  An interesting person to interact!

4. Bikram  He is everybody's favourite person here, in this blogworld! He writes about anything and everything passionately! Very soft-natured person!

5. Rama I have read just a few posts of hers and she visited me once, I think! But I like her writing....I enjoyed reading the post ... series...How I met my husband!

6. Saritha Saritha used to be a serious blogger earlier.  Used to write a lot about her daughters, nature etc. She took a break and now has started blogging again.  She writes everything emotionally...a simple soft-natured person.

D.I. has covered some of my friends who write well and are active in this area.  They are already tagged.  Anyway, this was a good experience writing about others and thanking them in a way. I admire Ashok (for his art and poetry), Bhagya (for her beautiful, day to day happenings' stories), Suranga (Poetry and interesting posts), SG (I love his travel posts) and SM (as D.I. said for his latest news posts).  Some more are there but they have nearly stopped blogging but are active in facebook.  I miss them a lot. Thanks friends!

Thank you, once again, Destination Infinity!

Edited to add:  I remembered early in the morning (next day!) that D.I. had 'awarded' an award and did not ask me to do just a tag! It is not that if D.I. awarded an award to some people whom I admire, I can't give the award to them! And I missed to mention some very good bloggers whom I admire and keep them in a pedestal, like Manju! The way she links different subjects to blend into one to give a message, is beautiful! I tried to do a couple of posts in that way, but it was not that good! Please remember people,  I must have missed some about some friends  to mention here, I am 'maradhimanni' (queen of forgetfulness!).  It won't be nice to add more 'edited to add'!

I would be happy if the people I have mentioned that I admire them too accept this award! No need to do a post on it! Thank you!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

December Concert In Chennai - Pt.Ajoy Chakraborthy And Kaushiki Chakraborthy!


The month of December is 'Music season' in Chennai! Music lovers...classical music lovers from all over India and abroad come here to enjoy music.  It was just Carnatic music season until a few years back.  Now, we seem to have Hindustani classical singers also singing in our numerous sabhas.  Mostly Hindustani concerts start from November itself.  We attended Pt.Jasraj's concert, a couple of weeks back.  The sabha was full! Yesterday we attended Pt.Ajoy Chakraborthy and his daughter, Kaushiki Chakraborthy's concert at Music Academy.  We had attended Ajoy Chakraborthy's concert last year too.  It was a full fledged concert by him, then.  

This time, Kaushiki was the star attraction.  Her voice is from out of this world.  It is crystal clear with lots of beautiful gamakas.  I thought I was hearing young Parween Sulatana...this girl's voice reaches the highest octaves like Parween's without any stress! The first song was in raag Hansadhwani.  Though I have heard Kaushiki's voice in You tube, her voice hit me when she started to sing yesterday! Again I have to say that it is crystal clear! Both father and daughter are desciples of Dr.Balamurali Krishna, the legendary Carnatic singer.  So, the father wanted his daughter to sing one Varnam in Carnatic raaga 'Sourashtra'.  Kaushiki's singing is good but her accent was not suited for Carnatic music. So it didn't make much impact.  Then it was 'Pahadi' which is a beautiful raag.  The 'thillaana' (Dr.Balamurali's kriti) was good.

We came out of the sabha discussing about Kaushiki's voice and her beautiful rendering.  Ajoy Chakraborty impressed us last year!

Now, enjoy Kaushiki's songs from You tube.  You will know why we praise her so much! I love this raag 'maund'.  I recognise this raag because of the famous song, 'Kesariya...baalamu', which is my favourite!

Kaushiki is singing Dr. Balamurali Krishna's  'Thillana' in raag 'Yaman', I think. 

A very young Kaushiki is singing a Thumri here:

Pt.Ajoy Chakraborthy appreciated the way the concerts are conducted here in Chennai esp. by newspapers like The Hindu and Indian Express.  Thanks to them, we are enjoying good music every year!

P.S.: Begum Parween Sultana's Bhajan is HERE. Kaushiki in the now famous Coke Studio is HERE.  This is not a classical song, light song.  Everybody will enjoy it! Classical training makes people to sing any type of song.


Friday, December 7, 2012

If There Is A Will There Is A Way!


I had been to a relative's house yesterday.  While entering their flat, I saw this man. I didn't notice anything abnormal at first sight.  Then I noticed...the man/tailor was sitting on a tricycle with a sewing machine and stitching clothes! 

My relative said that this tailor visits their street every Thursday. He repairs dresses for minimum Rs.10 according to the work.  Next day to the next street.  He honks a horn as soon as he comes in and honks again before leaving.  The honk looks like a bus honk! It is easy for him to take the machine by his tricycle! I asked him how much he earns a month on an average...around 6 to 7 thousand according to the work he gets, it seems! He looked like a happy person... he posed happily for the photo...'yevlo photo venaa yeduththukko!' he said...You can take as many photos as you like!

If you have got the will you have got the way!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday!


P.S.: More pictures of butterflies in our garden are here!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Diwali night in India....Picture captured from NASA







Picture coutesy: Google

Monday, October 29, 2012

Shopping For Deepawali, Is An EXPERIENCE In Chennai, Usmaan Road!

This post is Women's special!

Ranganathan street, T.nagar, off Usmaan road, where things can be bought at very cheap rates!  

Deepawali shopping had started a couple of weeks back and the above picture is the scene in Ranganathan Street, off Usman Road, in T.Nagar, Chennai! The new lot of sarees are displayed from Mahalaya Amaavaasai before Deepawali in all the shops in T.Nagar.  Here, in Tamil Nadu, Amaavaasai (New moon day)is an auspicious day to start anything good. Next day is called 'kari naal' and it is a bad day to start anything.  The shops are filled with new sarees from Amaavaasai. We should not go to the shops looking for good sarees a few days before and a couple of weeks after Deepawali!  You will be disappointed!

Usman Road, T.Nagar
Deepawali is on 13th November, this year.  Next weekend will be the peak days for saree and dresses for Deepawali sales! We can never go near the counter to have a good look at the sarees! Kumaran Silks and Nalli Silks are the oldest saree shops and they have got steady customers who buy from them for generations.

This is one of the oldest shops in T.Nagar.  This picture was not taken during Deepawali time!
Later on came Saravana Stores, Jayachandran Stores etc., where you can see crowds 365 days a year.  They are famous for selling spoons to sarees and furniture at subsidised rates! Pothy's also is always crowded! Chennai Silks is advertised a lot but the crowds mostly go to Saravana and Pothy's!  The traffic is diverted from 2 weeks prior to Deepawali in Usmaan Road! Even autos will not have space to move in the crowd! We can see cops mingling with the crowd to keep an eye on pick pocketers!

Sundari Silks is in North Usmaan Road (All other shops are mostly in South Usmaan Road).  This area is a bit away from the other famous shops and so a bit peaceful area for shopping.  They have got car parking area which is a big plus point.  Kumaran and Nalli Silks also have got car parking area, but Saravana Store and one more shop, Rmkv, haven't got car parking area.  I don't know how the govt. allowed the huge multi storied stores to do business in this crowded area! It must be money, as usual!

Normal day shopping in Usmaan Road!

Many of my family members shop from Kumaran silks mostly and we do it before the huge crowd starts coming to this area.  Now, Sundari Silks is becoming famous for their quality sarees - exclusive sarees. Only in this shop, we can sit on stools and select sarees! So, naturally, the sarees are a bit expensive, exclusive sarees, you know! Our family mostly go together 2-3 times for shopping...we exchange sarees if we don't like them. Some shops have got space with sunlight, to check the colour of the sarees.  The colour looks different when we see them at home.  We need sunlight to match the sarees and blouses too! Many  air conditioned shops don't provide space with sunlight.

Some shops provide chairs for the old and male customers to sit and wait with children while the women members shop for their sarees.  Some shops don't have them and I heard comments about some people avoiding those shops! It is not easy for men and children to wait for hours, standing.

Most of the shops have got salesmen who had been with them for many years and they judge the customers well and show sarees.  They work in shifts a few days prior to Deepawali.  On weekends - next two week ends - the shops will be open from 6 am itself, I was told and sell upto midnight! The salesmen are given bonus and a couple of days leave after Deepawali.  Some shops never close!

The interiors of most of the shops are beautiful, esp. rmkv.  Nalli is still maintaining the old look, which is nice.

Tulsi Silks in Alwarpet and Radha Silk Emporium in Mylapore are our favourite shops outside Usmaan Road shops. They too sell exclusive sarees without much difference in rates.

We, in my mother's place don't give much importance to Deepawali (Janmaashtami is important for us - Kannadigas).  My relatives don't buy new dresses for this festival.  But in Tamilnadu, wearing new dress is very important on Deepawali day after the traditional oil bath in the morning. Last year we had started our trip to Munnar on the Deepawali afternoon.  I saw everyone  on the road, even in small villages, wearing new dresses and all of them had the happy look on their faces, esp.  the children! My father used to save money in R.D. every month for using for Deepawali purchases for all of us (we had been following Tamilnadu customs after we shifted to Chennai from Udupi!)! It might not have been easy for a middle class family man to spend a chunk of the savings at one time.  But the fathers would do anything to see happiness in their children's faces (We were 5 children!)! We still remember those days when we wore new clothes and went to our relatives' houses to do namaskaar to the elders and collect money! What is your shopping experience in your area?!

Happy Deepawali to all my friends here!

P.S. (30.10.12):  The only draw back in T.Nagar shopping is most of the shops don't have clean toilets.  People come to these shops, esp. for wedding sarees, from far off places and shop the whole day.  They come in groups.  Last week we had been to Kumaran Silks and were waiting for the lift at the ground floor.  The stench from the toilets nearby was sickening.

The quality of food at the Woodlands hotel has deteriorated.  Saravana Bhavan is good, but is always crowded.  One more hotel named BKR, which is a good and neat hotel has come up opposite old GRT in South Usmaan Road. They have got car parking facility too! This is our favourite place for lunch nowadays! One more plus point is, the toilets are clean here!

Picture courtesy: The Hindu and google!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Craft Fair In Chennai - Sikki Grass Art From Bihar Was Impressive!

Valluvar Kottam, Chennai

We visited Craft Fair 2012 yesterday.  It is at Valluvar Kottam, Nungambakkam, Chennai.  We visit these types of fairs regularly.  Whether we buy things or not, it is interesting to see the different arts and crafts from different parts of our country.  

This time I was impressed by Sikki Grass art (the link is interesting!).  Sikki grass is a type of grass.  It is written there that the grass is 'vettiver'.  But Vettiver in Tamil means a type of root! The artisan, Dhirendra Kumar, from Bihar is making beautiful things out of this grass.  The grass is a sort of herb, he said.  He has got a website here. He supplies to all the Art and Craft outlets here, in Chennai.  He sells at reasonable rates, he says! Have a look at his handiwork:

Dhirendra Kumar's Sikki grass art gallery!

You can see the grass here.

I bought this! Looks beautiful!

I got this picture from his website.

I took photographs of other interesting galleries.  I selected pictures of unusual arts:

The fair is there until 14th Oct. '12.  Make a visit to this place.  It is interesting.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan Shastriji - Let Us Never Forget him!


I had always admired our second Prime Minister, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastriji... since my school days.  I had already written about him, long back.  Let me remind you and myself those portions about Shastriji: 

'Our generations' patriotism came out when Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri became Prime Minister of our country (1964-66) and he is one of the best Prime Minister we had and most of us became familiar with him when we did not have TV or reading newspaper was not a day-to-day habit for children, in those days. During the war with Pakistan, Shastriji asked us to skip one meal a day at least once a week and our whole school children skipped Monday night dinner. It was unanimous.' He said, 'If one person skips one meal a day, another might get his only meal a day'.  I think I followed it until I started working! 

When the war with Pakistan was going on, our country was facing food scarcity.  To encourage the farmers to produce more and praise the soldiers who were in the war front, Shastriji introduced the slogan 'Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan'.  I remember reciting this slogan after our morning prayers in school and after saying the National Pledge.  The pledge is in my earlier post here. I think those days' influence is still there in me.  I get goose bumps whenever I hear 'Vande Mataram' or 'Jana Gana Mana', which has become very rare now.  My children don't get emotional or stand up when they hear 'Jana gana mana'. Sometimes they stand up glaring at me! But the patriotism will come out when we get into trouble, I think, e.g. Kargil war.  People talked about it and donations were pouring from everywhere for helping the soldiers.

Though Shastriji looked like a soft person, he had the inner strength to steer our country through the war period.  Nobody would have taken the step to declare war against Pakistan. And he became our Prime Minister after the charismatic Nehruji. Still he was respected by the world leaders.  He came from a middle class family which might be the reason for his honesty, integrity and humility.  He was always a down to earth person.  He was very close to his mother till the end.

Have a look at this video of  the Peace Treaty meeting at Tashkent after the 1965 war with Pakistan.  He looks so timid and baby-like in front of the Russian leaders who are huge in body structure! I like his smiling face:

After his mysterious death at Tashkent, a memorial was set up in his name.  The inscription on it was 'Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan'.

You can read more about him here, in the wikipedia link. It says that Shastriji was born in Mughal Sarai in Chandauli district of the United Provinces, British India, in British ruled India in 1904, Oct.2nd.  Reading the word British India is not a good feeling!

He lost his father when he was an year old.  His mother brought up the children - he had two sisters. He graduated from Kashi Vidhyapeeth in 1926 and their graduation degree was 'Shastri'! He removed his caste name 'Srivastava' because he hated casteism.  He always said that India is the only place where all religions are treated equally. Though we see some perverts here and there now.

I feel that he is not given due respect/importance for what he has done to our country.  Today is Gandhi Jayanthi (I am a great fan of Gandhiji also).  Shastriji also was born today.  Very rarely we hear his name anywhere. Thank god, he was honoured with Bharath Rathna atleast.   One more person - great national leader, is another ex Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao.  He is also not given the importance he deserves. I remember another name, Vallabh Bhai Patel! How many of us know about him?

Let us remember the true national leaders on these days, like Republic Day, Independence day, their birth days, etc. The current leaders should keep aside their egos when national interest is concerned.



P.S.: Would we or our children skip a meal because our P.M. asked us to, when our country is in danger? We don't have a P.M. like Shastriji who is himself a sincere person.  Other leaders like Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Narendra it possible to count on them to be 'leaders'? Even Anna Hazare has lost his charishma.  What is your opinion?

Picture courtesy: Google

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Barfi - Just RANBIR KAPOOR'S Movie!

BARFI: Picture Courtesy: Hindustan Times
He resembles the young Shammi Kapoor! I had been a fan of Ranbir Kapoor ever since I watched an ordinary storyline film, 'Wake up Sid'.  His talent was visible in that film.  When I saw the trailer of 'Barfi', I wanted to watch the film in the theatre, which we do very rarely nowadays! I and my nieces went to the movie.

The movie started with an interesting scene.  Ranbir, Barfi alias Murphy, as a deaf-mute boy going after the beautiful, talented Ileana alias Shruthi.  Ranbir is too good in these scenes.  He reminded us of Shammi Kapoor and Aamir too! We loved the song 'Picture mein mobile aur bachche dono off rakhna'. Have a look.  Click here.  The lyrics are here.  You will know why we liked it:

picture shuru..........hogayi picture shuru........
picutre mein aaju baju wa lon ka khayal rakhna...........
picute mein samne ki kursi pe na pao rakhna...........
picutre mein aaju baju wa lon ka khayal rakhna...........
picuter mein mobile aur bacche dono off rakhna......
picture shuru........hogayi picture shuru...

I don't want to give out the storyline. Burfi and Shruthi's love story was interesting and later on Jhilmil who is shown as an autistic girl and Barfi's love story also was interesting in a different way. 

We laughed a lot watching Chaplin-like Ranbir, for more than an hour and a half.  Then slowly we started looking at each other with a question mark in our face 'What/where is the story' was the question! We noticed some of the other people asking the same question during the interval break!

The actual story is told with lots of flash backs, sometimes confusing us.  It was difficult to remember the continuation of the story! Even then, we liked the movie, say, 70%, just for Ranbir Kapoor! The whole movie is full of Ranbir Kapoor who is going to go places in our film industry.  We know Priyanka Chopra is a great actress...'Fashion' proved it. She had done justice to her role.  Ileana D'Cruz is new to Hindi cinema.  She has acted in Telugu and Tamil movies and has got a reasonably good name, it seems.  She did very well in this movie.  Her facial expression was superb.  The movie is directed by Anuraag Basu.  Music by Pritam, which is OK. Pritam means, I remember the songs of 'Jab we met', which were superb! The whole picture was picturised in Darjeeling and Kolkata.  Darjeeling's beauty is captured very well! 

Every magazine says that a number of scenes were copied from English movies.  But they were copied very well and Ranbir is too good an actor.  Have a look at this link if you want to see them! 

Watch this song sequence and you will start loving this boy, Ranbir Kapoor! He is very handsome and this should not affect his acting if he acts in serious movies later in his career! His talent should suppress  his looks at that time!

P.S.: Sourab Shukla as a cop, has acted very well. The last scene where Ranbir throws the shoe near Priyanka's window reminded me of Kamal, Sridevi's movie, 'Sadma', where Kamal acts like a monkey to attract Sridevi's attention at the Ooty railway  station.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Foto Friday!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I AM A Health Freak! Does It Help In The Long Run? YES!

Surya Namskaar
Where shall I start this article about myself?! Well...I was always worried about getting FAT! So, from my young age, I never fancied fried foods, sweets etc.  If I have lunch at a function, I skip my dinner, mostly, or just have curd rice.

When I was young, I and my brothers and sisters used to walk to school, which was around 3 - 3 and half Km. from home.  I was working for a few years...again running to catch a bus or train and then walk for 20 mts. from the bus stop! I never thought it as stressful at that time...young age?! After my two sons joined school, I started doing exercises, which continues even now!

I learnt yoga seriously when I was 35.  I was in Hosur at that time where I had many friends.  We asked a master to come from Bangalore once a week and teach us yoga! I learnt Surya namaskara from him and do it even now! I feel that this has all the postures - important postures of yoga and activates all parts of our body.  I used to do 12 namaskaras and it has reduced to 5 now, though.  After doing other small exercises and yoga postures, I finish off with surya namaskara.

I thought since I take care of myself so carefully, I will always be healthy.  But I became a diabetic at the age of 53 and BP also joined shortly.  Stress? Maybe.  It was after menopause.  I have heard that many women get some sort of permanent ailment after menopause which hurt me a lot for a long time.    Is it true? But I couldn't believe I had diabetes! But, thank god,  I never felt weak.  Learnt Sudarshana Kriya (Art of Living).  It is very good.  But after doing it promptly for 6 - 7 months, somewhere I stopped doing it! I am going for walks with my husband regularly and do cycling in the exercise cycle (regularly!).  Sometimes we skip walking but I see to it that I do some sort of exercise everyday.

I noticed a few years back that I was waking up early, at about 2 or 3 am in the morning and never went back to sleep. This aggravated slowly and for the past 3-4 months I started full 'no sleep nights' continuously for 3 to 4 days often.  I was not able to sleep even for 15 mts. in the afternoon. Then sleep again for 3,4,5 hours for a week or so and again 'no sleep' nights. My doctor asked me to have dinner early and walk for half an hour before sleeping.  No, it didn't  work.  Hot water bath before sleep...oohmm, no, it didn't work.  My Ophthalmologist asked me to take a tsp. of poppy seeds in hot milk before going to bed...I took it for more than a month.  No reaction. More than not sleeping, I was worried about the side effects of it.  Will my memory weaken...or some nervous problem crop up, etc.  As per doctor's advice, I took .25 mg of Anxit for a few days.  He said that it will regularise the sleep.  I used to wake up at 1 am even after taking the tablet.  Funny thing is, I never felt weak.  I was doing the regular household work as usual.  My relatives used to call me in the morning and ask 'thookkam?!' (sleep?).  I don't like to watch TV at night.  I read sometimes.  But my eyes became tired after sometime.  My son was playing 'sleep inducing' music...but it didn't help! Both husband and son used to look at my face often after 9 pm.  If they think that I am feeling sleepy, they would switch off the TV, put ear plugs in my ears (they think that I might wake up with the stabilizer or road traffic sound!) and compel me to sleep.  10 mts. and I will wake up and sit up! Sometimes I was so restless that I was not able to even lie down peacefully.

Then one doctor told me, 'never go for sleeping pills, go for meditation, stop worrying about mundane things. Family means, problems will be there.  You have to take care of your health.'  My son took me to a 'therapautic yoga' teacher. She is a student of Yogacharya Krishnamaachari.  She taught me breathing exercises.  I practice this exercise everyday.  I used to get headaches in the early mornings on 'no sleep' days earlier (it was not there in the morning!).  I feel better mentally, now.  I am back to the old active self, my relatives say.  OK, I don't sleep for 7-8 hours, but at least for 5 hours, now!

I feel I am coming out of all health problems because of the Surya namaskara I was doing all these years and now breathing exercises.  This is the first step to meditation, the yoga teacher said.  I was going there once a week for 3 weeks.  Now, once in two weeks.

Tension is the worst enemy.  I had some skin problem, though it has reduced now, because of tension.  No medicine can cure ailments which come because of tension. We must keep on telling ourselves that 'we will cross this phase soon'.  Life is full of ups and downs.

Now, do warm up exercises, surya namaskara and then 'inhale....exhale' slowly'! You will feel good!

Picture courtesy: Wikipedia


Friday, August 31, 2012

Visit To A Unique Temple in South India!

Shri Vanjiyam Vaanjinathar Temple, Nannilam near Kumbakonam.

I have never heard of a temple for Yamadharmaraja until now...the god who takes our lives.  My brother in law had heard about this temple in a TV show,  During this year's temple visit, we combined this temple because it is believed that this place is equal to Kashi Vishwanath Temple in North India.  This temple, Shri Vanjiyam Vaanjinathar temple, is also called 'poorva janma paapa parihaara sthal/Mukthi kshetra', means, if we visit this temple, the Lord Shiva will excuse all the sins we and our ancestors have made through many generations! We thought we will give it a try! Anyway, Yama is sitting nearby and it will be easy for him to pass on the instructions! And I love to visit the ancient temples of our country, esp. in South India, which are famous for their beautiful architecture. We can feel the vibrations of years of prayers here. My husband is from Lalgudi, Trichy and I always felt that my in-laws would have walked through the praharams (the walking space around the main temples) like we do now!  Now, let me write about this unique temple and the legends surrounding it.

Shri Vanjiyam temple is situated at Nannilam, 35 Kms. from Kumabakonam via Thiruvarur-Nannilam route..  It took around 6 hours by road, from Chennai plus time for breakfast and lunch.  The temple is supposed to be 2,600 years old.  The main deity is Lord Shiva and the Shivalinga is facing both west and east and has got two Nandis (Shiva's vaahana - transport!) on both sides.  The legend is that during the great Pralaya (the great deluge), the Linga which was facing west until then, turned to the east to facilitate Surya (the Sun god) to worship him! So pooja is performed on both sides. The Linga is Swayambhu linga (formed by itself) and is one of the 6 Shivasthalams along the Cauvery river. This Linga is the oldest among the 64 Lingas in the world.

The goddess of the shrine is Mangaladevi. She is in a standing posture.  It is believed that this goddess is Durga in the morning, Lakshmi in the afternoon and Saraswathi in the evening.  She is dressed up accordingly.  Morning in red saree, afternoon green and white saree in the evening.  Navaraathri pooja is special here.

Yamadharmaraja at Shri Vanjiyam Temple

Now, comes the interesting part.  This temple was specially created (as per legend) for Yamadharmaraja by Lord Shiva. Yama once got very frustrated because he thought he had sinned by killing so many people for a long time, though it was his duty.  He thought that people feared him because of that.  He wanted everyone to like him like they did Ganesha! He took advice from Brahma and did penance at the bank of cauvery river at the Gandharanyam (sandal wood forest). Lord Shiva was pleased and ordered for a shrine exclusively for Yama, where even Ganesha who is worshipped first in all the Shiva temples will be done so after Yama is worshipped.  As per Yama's wish Shiva also resided there and Yama became his vaahana (transport) on the salvation day when Lord Shiva granted his wish which was on Maasi maasam (Tamil month which comes from mid February to mid March) Bharani nakshatra (one of the 27 stars of Hinduism).  On this day special poojas are performed at the shrine.  Chitragupta, who is the ledger keeper for Yama also is sitting beside him at the shrine (the small deity on the left). The deity faces the South.

Because Yama did penance at the Sandal forest, the Sthala Vrukha is Sandal wood tree.  Normally, Lord Shiva is worshipped with Vilva leaves, but here, it is Sandalwood tree leaves.  The priest asked us to keep the leaves in our locker (he gave the leaves to us after the archana pooja).

This temple has got a huge tank which was dry when we went there and is called Gupta Ganga.  River Ganga was once worried because she thought that so many people bathed in her water for taking off their sins (Poorva janma paapa parihaara) and all those sins were accumulated there.  She approaches Shiva for advice. He asks her to take a bath at Vanjiyam tank to purify herself. It is said that  only one part of her is in Kaashi and the rest 999 parts are in this Gupta Ganga where she got herself purified.  So, a dip in this tank will purify us from all the past sins.  Doing Tharpana for our pithru (Hindu ritual for their dead ancestors) is said to be special in this place.

This temple is famous for celebrating Shashtiaptha Poorthi (completion of 60th birthday) and Sadhaabhishekam (80th birthday). The other place to this ritual,  is Thirukkadaiyur. This is one of the 7 Pithru Kadan Nivarthi Sthalam (absolution of ancestral debts).  We can perform Thila homam etc. for our ancestors like we do at Rameshwaram, Kaashi, Gaya, Thiruvenkaadu, Triveni Sangamam, Thilarpanapuri etc. It is also said that one visit to this temple is equal to 100 visits to Kaashi.

The temple is open from 6 am to 12 pm and then opens at 3.30 pm (to 8 pm).  We reached there at 2.30 and so waited until it was opened.  The priest asked us to visit the Gupta Ganga Tank first.  This is the way the gods should be visited here.  Then he took us to Yama's shrine.  We did archana there with coconut, banana etc.  He gave us vibhooti.  He asked us not to take home, vibhooti or the coconut. So, first importance is given to Yama! A small sannidhi was there for our Lord Ganesha (Vennai Ganesha - butter Ganesha) at the entrance to the Shiva sannidhi.  We just folded our hands in front of him because we had to run behind the Kurukkal! Normally, Ganesha is important in all the shrines! People apply butter on his stomach here and after the pooja, consume it and all the stomach ailments will get cured, it seems.

Then he took us to the Shiva sannidhi.  The Linga is quite huge. The Kurukkal (priest) narrated the sthala puraanam (story of the temple).  You can have a look at the video of the Sthala puranam which is in Tamil here:

Then did archana at the Mangalambika shrine.  Next was Raahu Kethu sannidhi.  This temple hasn't got the navagraha sannidhi.  But separate sannidhis for Shani and Raahu Kethu.  Raahu and Kethu are in a single vigraha.  A human body below the head of a pancha mukha sarpa (5 headed snake).  This temple is one of the Raahu Kethu paapa parihara Kshetra, like Thirunageshwaram.  Special poojas are performed during Raahu Kaala.

Yoga Bhairava Sannidhi is also special here.  He is in a sitting posture without his vaahana, the dog, which is rare.   Pooja is performed with Vanni leaves to this deity. It is believed that these leaves if consumed, cures our nervous problems.

The inner praahaaram has got the statues of 63 Saivaite nayanmars/saints.

Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi had a disagreement once and they came to Lord Shiva for advice.  Lord Shiva united them together here at Vanjiyam.   Vaanjai means 'love'.  So this place is called Vanjipuram/Vanchipuram...Shri Vanchipuram or in Tamil, Thiruvanchipuram.  If you visit this temple, you will get married soon if you are not yet married!

We saw a Sannidhi for Mahishaasura Mardhini who will protect us from all evils. Worshipping her with 108 lotus flowers during raahu kaalam is special here. Separate sannidhi for Lakshmi also was there.

Normally, poojas are stopped in the temples if some death happened in or near the temple.  But they  are not stopped in this temple!

Three more holy tanks are there and if we take dips in those tanks, we will be relieved of Naga dosha, Brahmahattya dosha etc. We didn't visit this area, so, am vague about this.

Like Vaideeshwaran koil, the compound wall is very high and there are two walls.  I noticed,  Nandis were there on top of the compound walls like Vaideeshwaran temple, but in pairs with some distance in between! I think people were not fat like us in the earlier days because most of them did 3, 5, 7, 9 and 21  pradakshinas (rounds) every morning...early morning.  They stayed healthy.  Most of the ancient temples in Tamil nadu are huge.

While coming back via Tricy, we came across one more temple, Thiruvattur Shiva temple, which is also very ancient and huge temple.  But it was closed.  Will wait till next year to visit this place!

We went straight to Shri Vanjipuram from Chennai and then went to Trichy and stayed in a hotel (Ramya's, which was very good and their breakfast with so many items...hmmm, I still remember the taste!).  Next day we visited our Gunaseelam temple, Vayalur temple etc. and came back home.

Shri Vanjiyam has got a vegetarian mess at Sannidhi street.  I think,  you may have to inform them earlier if possible.  Otherwise you can stay at Thiruvarur hotels and visit here.

The temple phone no. is: 04366 228305
Mess phone no.: 91 98947 26839

Picture courtesy: Shamala Krishnan

Friday, August 24, 2012

Let Us Hope For More Medals In The Next Olympics Along With Nagaraj!


Nagaraj of Prime Sports Academy, Chennai 

All of us Indians, were happy that we got the highest number of medals in Olympics, this year...huh, highest number of medals Indians got in the Olympic history. Whether it is Gold, Silver or Bronze, we got 6 medals in total (have a laugh reading this post of mine here!).  Wikipedia has got an interesting article on our Olympic participation here, through the years. All the winners as well as the participants must have gone through so much hurdles before even participating in the Olympics or any sports events in our country. Our sports ministers and the officials involved are interested in using the trip abroad to enjoy shopping and touring the countries.  My cousin's daughter came upto State level in swimming and her mother used to accompany her everywhere.  She used to tell us stories about how they were ill treated during their stay at the competition venues by the officials.  So, sensible Indians will never think of sending their children in the sports line, is a bit different!  We have read stories about P.T.Usha and Shiny Abraham's training in athletics.  They had dedicated teachers/coaches to train them, which is very rare here, in India.

I read about Nagaraj in the Tamil Magazine, Ananda Vikatan who started Prime Sports Academy in Chennai from scratch, to train athletes  from every corner of Tamilnadu (This is a very old article about this academy.  I couldn't get a better recent article on this).  His aim is to get Olympic medals in athletics. Let me write about this man whom I have started admiring now.  Bharathi Thambi has started the article very nicely.  Let me quote that too.  Hope I translate the article reasonably well!

"A bird carries some seed in its beak, from a long distance and drops it on the earth which helps in forming a forest. But the bird hasn't got time to take rest in the forest but starts flying, looking for the next seed to sow on the earth. Some people, like the bird, do good deeds to others without expecting anything in return from them. Nagaraj is one among them."

In Chennai's Broadway area, a narrow lane leads to a tiny gate. Inside, we see young boys and girls running while sweating profusely.  Among them 14 are international champions.  More than 100 are national champions in running, high jump, javelin throw, weight lifting, long jump etc. All are happily training here. The coach Nagaraj started this training school and made his students win medals - Shanthi won silver in Asian Games, Prem Kumar won Bronze.  Gayatri won gold in hurdles in common Wealth Games. Nagaraj is a coach here for the past 24 years. He has got a job in Central Excise and coaches these athletes in the mornings and evenings, without taking any fee from them.  This is just a passion for him.

He says, "Hurdles game is always a poor man's game.  This needs the athlete to just work hard - physically.  Their bodies should withstand the strain of the hard training. Only children with poor background will be able to do it.  Most of the children here come from very very poor family.  Their parents just think that their children are studying in Madras. Only these children will make India's dream of Olympic gold come true"

His native place is Arundavapuram, near Thanjavoor.  His mother is an ayah at the mid-day meal section in a school. It was very difficult for him to buy even a pair of shoes which costed Rs.50 in those days!  He managed somehow with hard work and got a silver medal in junior level High Jump competition (national level competition).  His P.T. teacher was impressed by his hard work and sent him to Madras to study B.B.Ed. (I don't know the expansion of this degree.  Can anyone help?!). The teacher, Mr.Shanmugasundaram said that he would resign his job once Nagaraj gets the degree, so that he could join his job! Nagaraj says that he will never forget his words.

After he got the degree he got a job in Central excise in sports quota.  He was coaching children in the mornings and evenings.  He never married.  Never attended any family function.  He had never watched a movie (this shows his determinatiion). His whole life was spent in training children for the past 24 years.

Sneha Princi, who was coached by him, got a medal in the national level for heptathlon (1989).  K.N.Priya got a medal in the international level in 100m. hurdles.  This was the starting.  Later on many of his students participated and got medals in national and international competitions.   Now 24 of them participate in international level competitions. 14 of them are winners of medals in international level competitions.  More than 100 students are national level competition medal winners.

He says that he visits schools on their Sports Day in small villages and towns and enquire the P.T. teachers to recommend good athletes.  Then Nagaraj would go to their house and request the parents to send them with him to Chennai.  If he told them about just sports coaching they wouldn't let the children go with him.  Nagaraj would assure them that the children would be sent to school, college and then he would arrange for a job for them.  Shanthi, the silver medallist in Asian Games was brought to Chennai in this way!

It was very difficult to find a place for training the children until 2000.  Then the Pachchaiappa College Endowment offered the current playground for training.  But they charged a rent of Rs.8000 rent.  This rent was born by Dr.Babu Manoharan of St.Joseph Engg.College and he also spent 37 Lakhs to clear the place, built a hostel and arranged for buses for the school.  This is the way Nagaraj's Prime Sports Academy started.

Nagaraj also says that the athletes had to spend 10 prime years in hard training to win the medals.  If the Governments and other organizations assure them of a good job in sports quota, many children would happily join the training and work hard to get even Olympic Medals.

Have a look at this video where Nagaraj speaks about himself.  He seems to be a very simple but determined man.  We need more people like him and then can dream about getting more Olympic medals! 

His school needs still more help from people. Needs drinking water at the playground for the children. Needs latest sports equipments which will help the children to participate in the international level games with confidence.

The requirement to join his school: The children should be interested in sports and be healthy. Expenses will be born by the academy and educational qualification is not important. Age limit is from 10 to 18 years.

All the Best, Nagaraj! Let your dream come true and we will all celebrate!

Picture courtesy: Ananda Vikatan 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Fulfilling Journey That Began In Madras - Captain Lakshmi Sehagal

Captain Lakshmi Sehagal

Capt. Lakshmi Sehagal has written about her life in Chennai in her Autobiography (left).  With Netaji and other members of the Indian National Army (right).

I became familiar with Capt. Lakshmi Sehagal, when she stood against Dr.Abdul Kalam for the 2002 Presidential contest.  I remember that everybody said that she won't stand a chance.  I knew that she was in the INA, with Subhash Chandra Bose.  Only now, I read many articles about her and was surprised to know that she was a Tamil Brahmin and studied here, in Madras (Chennai), first in Queen Mary's College and then in Madras Medical College. She then got her diploma in obstetrics and gynaecology and worked in the Govt. hospital, Triplicane, Madras.

The Hindu says: She was the daughter of eminent Madras advocate, S.Swaminathan and social acitivist Ammu Swaminathan, who was later elected to the parliament from Dindigul Lok Sabha constituency.  Captain Lakshmi's parents belonged to Kerala (Tamil brahmins settled in Kerala) and theirs was an inter-caste marriage.

Her brother Govind Swaminathan was an eminent lawyer and one of the  leading members of the Chennai Bar and her sister Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife of nuclear scientist Vikram Sarabhai, is a famous dancer.

When she was in Chennai, she used to address meetings in Tamil.  Capt. Lakshmi was a polyglot  (linguist in layman's language!).  Though brought up in an Anglophile family (royal family?!), Capt. Lakshmi and her kin were to turn their backs on their colonial leanings after her father defended a young man, Kadambut, accused of murdering a British officer, De la Haye, the principal of Newington House in Madras and got him acquitted.  "It created a storm in Madras.  We had to face its consequences.  English friends of my mother kept a distance from us after that.  In school, English teachers cursed me for being the daughter of an advocate who saved a native who murdered an honourable English Officer",
Capt. Lakshmi wrote in her autobiography, A Revolutionary Life: Memoirs of a Political Activist.

After this, Capt. Lakshmi and her siblings were pulled out of the English school and admitted to a govt. school.  "We soon started conversing in Tamil and Malayalam instead of English and wore Indian costumes.  Most of the servants at our home were Dalits and we shared food with them, much to the surprise of others," she wrote.

Her interest in politics was kindled by Subashini, the younger sister of Sarojini Naidu and one of the accused in the Meerut conspiracy case.  She was hiding in Capt. Lakshmi's house at that time and they spent many nights discussing communism.  Later she joined the Communist party of India.

Her marriage to Pilot P.K.N. Rao was a failure and she left for Singapore in 1940 'to escape the marriage'.  It was there that she came in contact with the members of Netaji's INA and later formed the Rani of Jhansi Regiment (an all-woman unit).

She later married Sehagal, her colleague in INA.  Her daughter Subhasini Ali, who was elected to Parliament from Kanpur to the Lok Sabha, is also a graduate from the Madras University. She has one more daughter, Anisa Puri.  She lived in Kanpur with her daughter.

She was practicing medicine until the day before she died, treating the poor in Kanpur at the age of 98.

I always love to write about people who achieved something extraordinary in life, who are different from normal people, esp. women.  Though it is long time since I wrote a post, I could not resist writing this.

Indian express article on Capt. Lakshmi is here .

Another article in The Hindu says: 

Captain Lakshmi was one of the founding members of AIDWA, formed in 1981. She subsequently led many of its activities and campaigns. After the Bhopal gas tragedy in December 1984, she led a medical team to the city; years later she wrote a report on the long-term effects of the gas on pregnant women. During the anti-Sikh riots that followed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, she was out on the streets in Kanpur, confronting anti-Sikh mobs and ensuring that no Sikh or Sikh establishment in the crowded area near her clinic was attacked. She was arrested for her participation in a campaign by AIDWA against the Miss World competition held in Bangalore in 1996.

When we open the newspaper in the morning, we read mostly about scams, or abuse of women, murders etc.  I was happy to read about Capt. Sehagal.  She is an astonishing person.  Being a woman, that too, from a conservative background from Chennai, she had taken an entirely different route in life and achieved so much.  Very rarely we come across people like her.

She will be a happy person wherever she is, now. She will be remembered always.

Happy Grandma!

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Doordarshan again...But From Another Angle!

I had done a series on Doordarshan, sometime back here.  Many people liked it.  I came across this video yesterday.  It is interesting.   It is a collection of old advertisements.  Have a look:

First, you see the old Doordarshan logo, which brings a smile on our face!  Old and leisurely days!  The whole family would sit in front of the TV and watch programmes, discussing about the story together.

The first advertisement is about Nataraj pencils.  I have used them and then my sons too!

Next is about Vicks tablets.  'Gale me kich kich' became famous.  Young Jayanth Kripalani looks nice! I like the young girl too!

Then comes the 'intelligent' lady, Lalithaji! We used to say, 'she thinks of herself as Lalithaji' if somebody said they knew everything! 'Surf ki khareedari me hi samjhdaari hai'...Lalithaji would touch her dimaag (brain/head) and utter this sentence!

'Goldspot Zing thing' was also famous in those days.  Then came Fanta....all those are gone!

'Surf Ultra'...'dhoodte rehe jawoge' became famous!

'Utterly butterly delicious' ....Amul is still going strong!

Then comes 'Lijjath paapad'.  I don't see any advertisement now...but it is still famous.

The famous Vivian Richards' hip dance in 'Vimal' advertisement.  I don't see much 'Vimal' nowadays!

Even now, I love 'Limca'! Very very young Salman Khan can be seen here!

'Buland Bharath ki Buland tasveer...hamara Bajaj'...We had a Bajaj at home for many years!

All advertisements of Fevicol were interesting...!

'Cadburry's dairy milk' all ages, we have a child inside us...the ad shows this...very interesting!

'I love you Rasna'...I remember not buying this often because it didn't have real fruit! But the ad was famous!

Liril soap...I think everybody admired the bikini clad girl! She was a happy girl... I read somewhere that she died very young.

'Washing powder Nirma', even now I am singing alongwith the ad.  The tune is so catchy! Sangeetha Bijlani (current wife of Azharuddin) became a familiar face!

Any of you remember 'The Didi show'?  It might be boring to watch now, but it was famous in those days!

Sorry, the video is not clear, but the happy memories are! Do you remember any old ad?

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