Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book launch invite

I'm thrilled to receive an invite from the author (well, wife of the author, who dons many hats and juggles all of them very well) for his book launch : Amerikka Desi by Arunn Narasimhan.

If you can read Tamil, the preamble is here: http://www.ommachi.net/archives/5085
All chennai vaasis and those who are planning to be in Chennai on this date, do plan to attend the function. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Art of making friends

My memories of how I made friends in nursery or primary school are very vague. In middle school, sometimes the girl sitting next to me and I became buddies, at one point, the girl who used to come in  the van became a buddy, after we got a landline telephone connection at home, the classmate with whom I kept talking over the phone almost everyday became a best friend. As I preached high school, the girls who  wished  good marks/rank for me became my besties. (In hindsight, to think that there were groups in the 10th and 12th std which comprised of one rank holder and a couple of supporters for that rank holder in each group appears very silly now. :-). At the same time, to know that I ,of all people, had a small group of classmates who realised,enjoyed when I scored good marks/rank makes me feel grateful.)
Fast forward to college,  4 years whiz zed past with many brief episodes with a handful of people which promised life long friendship but as we passed out from college and years passed by, only very few stood the test of  time.

Next , once I joined the corporate bandwagon, to be honest, I didn't make any extra effort to make/maintain friendships. Sometimes, whom I thought friends started talking ill on my back, sometimes, some of them whom I trusted did things which made me no longer trust them. So, I came to believe that it's very hard to find/make good friendships in the working atmosphere.
But, to break this idea, I was blessed with a friend when I switched jobs. Initially we started off as peers/competitors, who were trying to establish ourselves in the same team. But gradually somewhere the ice broke and we became the best of friends. The gender here did not matter. At that point, I was newly married and seeing us together many times raised eyebrows too. But I made this friendship known to my parents, husband and in-laws and felt very comfortable and happy in the friendship. This lasted only for about two years and when this friend left the company and moved cities/states, I cried not buckets, but so much that could fill a pond. At this point, we were 4 of us who used to lunch together, and slowly everyone left the company and I was left alone. When my friend was with me, I didn't make any effort to make any other friendships and so once he left and the rest of the lunch group left, I was left alone. By this time, a bigger lunch group was formed and I was too chicken to ask them if I would join them. And the desire to make any friendships also left me gradually and started mingling with everyone in the acquaintance mode. During the same time, my bestie from college was also getting married and moving countries, and by this time, I was too exhausted after bidding good-byes and was left with no energy to make new relationships. The husband and I were getting to know each other in our arranged marriage and with the extended family and work and the weight of having to let go of few people whom I was close with left me with no interest to make any new friendship.

Years passed, besties seemed to move forward with life with marriage and parenthood and here,I was suffering miscarriages and didn't know what was happening in my life and how to go about. Some of the besties frankly said they couldn't do anything about my situation but could lend their ears and shoulder, while some of them couldn't understand what was happening , nevertheless started spreading this deep personal loss and sympathising and in spite of knowing what was happening, kept repeatedly asking if there was a good news. Me being me, yes, the smartless idiot that I am became more of a  coward and rather than facing questions bravely, started becoming an introvert. The friendships fizzled. I was too chicken to face any questions of "how long have you been married" "kids??" , so tried to avoid situations/people who generally make this their first question when they meet anyone. All in all, I became an introvert and kept to myself and had a brief acquaintance kind of relationship in professional world and friends of all these years fizzled out too.

I switched jobs and now, I should say friends, just a couple of the, just happened. In fact, probably they were also in the same boat as me, wanting some company and we just hit it off. Among the two, one of them voluntarily made efforts to spend time, get to know me and most of all now judge me or pass any judgements. And how the other friendship with the second person turned out is a fodder for another post. 2 was a good enough number and 3 years flew. Now, I have mo clue how to make friends. Seriously, many times, I'm mostly the listener in the lunch group and have lost the art of making small talk or initiating conversation.

I do realise that making and maintaining friendships is a special art which I need to cultivate on. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Where do I belong

Some people can share all personal/intricate details to those whom they know will announce to the whole wide world even if they dont want these details to be known to all and sundry

Some people can bitch on others back but in front of them, can talk so sweetly that the the listeners will get a rise in their sugar levels (literally)

Some people can talk to others as per others liking (their liking includes: using choo chweet for every statement) even if they dont want to hear such chweet talk

Some people can be so flexible with facts that they can change the facts as per whom they are conversing with

Some people would not share anything that happens in their life but after having a conversation with them, you will feel like you were silent and they were the one who was talking all the time and that they have shared so many details

Some people know whom to tell the truth/facts and to whom to hide the real fact but still fill in some information

Some people can answer questions thrown to them by making up quick answers on the fly which will be too far from the truth

I dont belong to any of the category above.

I belong to the class of people (hopefully I'm not the lone one out here in this group) who will just blurt out the facts and then later regret for having told whatever I said and wish if I could have used my sixth sense and just belonged to one of the groups above at least for that situation!. Sigh!

There is this colleague of mine who likes to extract information from me (My husband /in-laws himself have not asked for my detailed bio-data as much as this guy asked on my first day of work here) and inspite of knowing this, I'm just back from blurting out true answers to the questions he asked where I could have been smart enough and managed to provide work around answers. The questions were so damn trivial but why leak out information to all and sundry ,especially to such people who are not really interested to know but just ask to extract info. I need to grow up

Monday, August 25, 2014

Phoren story

A middle class family with the father being the sole bread-earner and mother tending to the children and the house, varied demands of the extended family, both the children of the house were encouraged to study well, take part in extra curricular and were provided well within the best of the abilities of their parents. Time rolled by , the children grew up, gathering life lesson and study lessons along the way. The elder one worked hard when it came to boards and with blessings from the Higher power, secured  admission into one of the best colleges in India and years rolled faster and in time, she graduated and got placed . Though the company where she got placed was not well known , the day-to-day job she had to do in the said company was something of her interest and her liking as well. Just when her project manager/leader were making plans of sending her abroad on a longer assignment, she announced her marriage plans and even without checking with her, the management assumed that she wouldn't be interested now that she was getting married, they took her off the list-of-people-to-be-sent-onsite.

Now, in the background, as early as within 6 months of being in the job, the "question" started coming from various quarters. Now, what is "the question"? In fact different flavors of this question are:  "US pogaliya? , foreign chance varaliya", eppo US poga pora" ? (Are you not going to he US? When is your foreign chance?)

The person whom these questions were posed is me and yes, even now, I'm still not sure if our society in general is  US/foreign obsessed or only the people whom I had to interact with or who were my acquaintances were so damn obsessed!

I cant blame all those people, for I lacked the maturity to handle this situation as well. I got so caught up with the people and these questions that I refused to use my own brain. I started taking all this quite seriously and in fact didnt disclose this to my parents as well, thinking they would be worried. In hindsight, I feel I should have shared this with them and asked their help to deal with the situation. I cannot control what others talk, but I could have checked my emotions and mental state. But, gradually, these questions along with friends informing that they are going to the US/UK/whichever foreign location started developing a strong desire within my mind. Questions in front of a crowd like "Unakku innum oru foreign chance um varalaiya" (Havent you not got a single chance to go abroad?) "Onnum illa, arrera la pass panna my <insert relative's chitappa's neice> has joined so and so company just last month and he went abroad last week. You passed out from a good college and still they have not sent you?" and "I think you should change your company when they don't send you abroad. What kind of a company is it when they don't send employees abroad in this day and age?" started hurting me so much that I started having second thoughts of continuing my employment in the company that I was working. Instead of just listening in one ear and passing out in another, at that age , I took these a bit too seriously. There was an opportunity for me to travel to Germany but that kept on getting postponed indefinitely and only when I quit the company and joined another one, I get a call from a person whom I had trained before I left to take over my role calls me and says that his flight tickets are booked. In this new place too, there were plans to travel and visa was done, but somehow the project start kept getting delayed for quite some time. The questions kept coming, now from my in-laws side of the family as well, as I got married in the mean time. But with a supportive husband who had just then returned after his stint from the US, I began to ignore and just let-go , though I wouldn't say the desire just flew away from my mind and heart.

Finally, the opportunity came and in the 7 weeks that I was in the US, I had a very good time. What with one team member being the official driver who took us to all places, another team member making sure to cook delicious dishes every single day and the third, my best friend who gave me company all through the stay! We were put up in a hotel where you need not lift a finger to do the dishes or the bed. A very elaborate English breakfast will be served and we tried various restaurants for lunch and dinner was home-cooked delicious food. Work was light, the purpose of the trip was mainly on getting trained and we went in summer. All in all, a pleasant experience. We went around quite a few places as well and my thirst was satiated :) .

After coming back, the questions stopped briefly only to start again. Now the questions were "Oh! its been long since you went, are they not sending you again? " "X's Y's niece went there once, now they have extended and its been 3 years since she came back, her stay is on and on getting extended. Didn't they extend yours?" and I can go on and on. But, now thankfully my brain started functioning and I developed some good sense within me to ignore or rather not take these questions into my head.

Years rolled by and now we got the opportunity to work and live in UK . After coming here, only when we started searching for a house to rent and moving into the house and trying to get into a routine here, we get to know of the practical issues that people face here. There is a general perception among us Indians (atleast among our parents generation and the grandparents generation) that all is well in the America or England. Well,I cant talk of America now as I've not really lived there. In the brief period I was there, I was in a hotel, with everything from morning till night duly taken care of . But, here, in the UK, when we are actually living, we face more or less a subset of issues that middle class Indians face. To record our experiences here they go : Houses do have plumbing issues. We faced a plumbing issue and to resolve it, at-least in India you can call up the plumber and request him or agree to pay him more if her comes and resolves the issue within the said time. But here, everything is in the hands of the letting agent /agent who takes care of the property. The houses that are taken care of by the owners directly are few and hence maintenance for majority of the houses are taken care by an agency. Now, agencies don't work beyond 5 PM or before 9 AM. Yes, they are also employees who have working hours and they stick to the working hours quite strictly. I tried calling them once at 4:55PM and was told that people were out for the day and I called up once at 5:01 PM and was answered by the answering machine. So, plumbing issues exist.

Next comes the electrical issues. If your heater in the house doesn't work, call up the agency who in turn will call up the electrician whom they are tied up with and again here, the electrician or the plumber also have working hours and they don't work beyond their stipulated working hours. And the best part is your issue will go into an appointment calendar and only when your appointment is fixed, will the plumber or the electrician will come over to even take a look at the issue that you are facing. And the same appointment system works for when the said technician has to come over to fix the issue.
We had issues with the toilet flush and it was working at times and at other times was not working. When we reported this to the agency , the agency said that they will send the plumber to check it out, but in case if the flush does work when the plumber tries to flush, then we will have to bear the cost of the plumber charges. And for the record, plumber's charges for one visit is a whooping 150 pounds. I had to go on at length with the letting agency to make her understand  our situation and when I'm saying that it does work sometimes, how can they charge us. Anyways, finally the issue got resolved. the crux is practical issues still do exist in developed countries(at least in the UK. I would like to hear/read about how such issues are dealt with in the America) and we seem to think all is fine in the west.
Best part is for a friend of ours, the letting agent denied them to install a dish or an antenna because that will mean drilling a hole in the wall/roof for installation. And they cannot watch TV without an antenna or a dish!

But, to look at the part of the glass that is half-full, the good roads, electricity, water supply are given here and roads are do damn clean and well maintained. No stray dogs, good road sense among citizens on a average, following rules in the road, pedestrians being given priority on the road, and no honking. I hear education is free for all (atleast till high school) .

Overall, all is not actually green when one lives abroad. Each place has its own pitfalls and some of the issues are quite common across the globe. Just the way its dealt with and the timeline its dealt with varies . I was expecting that if at all there is any issue, it gets resolved then and there or rather quite quickly without any follow-ups , but nope, not here. Especially with service providers also working only in their stipulated working hours , it only gets a bit more difficult. We tend to use (atleast I tried doing, the natural instincts dont go away that soon) our techniques like explaining them how serious the situation is, only to hear from the other end"I'm sorry, our working hours are untill 5 and we dont work on Saturdays and sundays. So, the earliest you will get any response is on Monday". Yes, with the flush not working,(wait: partially working) when you hear such a response, do we have many options to choose from :) ?

Need to record more of my perceptions/observations of living in a foreign country.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A few questions and some observations :1

-- Why is it that I feel home sick, look forward to go to parents place, be nice first two days and pick up a fight with Amma the third day? I dont want to fight, but end up pouting/arguing for some silly reason..Amma being Amma , inspite of all the natak that I do, makes poli, badam cake, apple-mango juice, gets me fresh sugarcane juice, nungu, straight of the field veggies just because I like them and is extreeemeely patient and kind and nice to all, especially to the evil me. Am I the only terrible soul on this planet to scold and fight with her mother?

-- Summer is too hot this year in Bangalore, many parts of Tamilnadu. What are we doing to our earth? Is this Nature's way to teach us a lesson, and when will we humans learn , will be ever take a hint and start being nice to Mother Earth?

-- I have read and hear many people say that they can sleep anywhere, irrespective of the surroundings. Little did I know that if sleep were to overcome me, I can also sleep under a aluminum roof in a mid-day hot sun with sweat flowing all over in a thinnai and not caring about people around.

-- What makes people throng to a place and and listen to all the pooja being done to the diety even if they have to sit close to one-another under the scorching sun with the sweat and sounds of one person rubbing on to the one sitting/standing next to you. Is it due to the power of Namasankeerthanam combined with the presiding Diety that makes one and all forget caste/creed demarcations and just be one in front of HIM atleast for sometime?

-- While in front of the Diety , the so called madi-aacharam Brahmins mingle with one and all, what prevents them from sitting next to a group of people who they think are lower in certain aspects than them (Talk of dirt in minds vs dirt in physical body) ?

-- Irrespective of whatever you give the maid, why is she  unhappy? Is it wrong to treat them equals and provide them with all that within your reach and limits while they go on a cribbing spree asking for gifts for every full moon and new moon?

-- On the same maid note, I need to vent out an incident which happened a few weeks ago. The maid went absconding without leave for few days and on the 5th day, I enquired the watchman if she has signed in the register and come for work today. He replied in the negative and I got a return call from the same watchman and he started asking me questions like how long have we employed this maid and commented how are we managing with her for she is known to take leave without informing and that she takes leave very very often and quotes all possible reasons which seem glaringly false. I just nodded in return and cut short the conversation. The maid makes an entry the next day and even before she takes a few steps inside the house, she asks for hot coffee (mentions that she has headache) and me being me, rushed in to open a new packet of milk and make sure I give her strong coffee (I doubt if I have been this diligent in giving coffee to my MIL so far(;) and ask her if she would like to have some toasted bread etc. Her headache is in my mind and I dont ask her reason for absence for she will go in to explanation mode and I did not want to hurt her by mentioning what the people in the apartment talk of her . After 10 mins, I enter the kitchen to empty the cooker which has beetroot in it and while she sips her coffee, she comments " Ungalukku Samaikave varadhu la" (You dont know to cook!!) . I didnt know what to tell her back. Needless to day, I was quite taken aback.  I thought to myself that all for me trying to be nice with her, I probably got a good response ! Phew! What makes people pass random comments like this? After gathering my thoughts I replied  " Samaika theriyamaya saapadarom?" and I cut short the conversation very quickly after this. Who on earth invented the idea of passing unsolicited comments to all and sundry , especially if the said comment(s) hurt others?

-- Do I alone belong to a family of people who talk only about people, yes, why is it that every time I speak to some relative, they want to know entire details of when I bath, what I'm doing now till where do I go and shop. I do agree that things like these make for good conversation etc, but why is it that people are so interested in knowing every little detail of whats happening in others life ? You wont believe if I say my aunt asked me if my sister got internship through college or through some reference. Even before she goes to her internship company, we get questions of if lunch will be served by the company and if its subsidized? Auntyji, do you want us to go and check on all these even before we join? And moreover, how does it matter to you auntyji? I know the answer: to go around and spread this tid-bit of an information to all those who have ears to hear. One suggestion for you and people like you : Please switch on the TV, especially any news channel. There are many more interesting stuff happening in the world!

-- Why is it the I get jitters on the day when MIL is going to return back after her vacation? My stress levels increase on this particular day, by checking if the kitchen is clean, if fridge is decently stocked, if the house is decently cleaned and plan for that day's bfast/lunch/dinner . I try to just relax and let it be, but I've not made considerable progress in this aspect yet.

More questions and observations in another post.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thank you Varun ji!

 Yes,its you Varuna Bhagwan :-) thank you so much for your sudden,much much needed visit y'day in Bangalore.

There have been times when people have cribbed about you showering your blessings almost every day for close to 5 months..thee have been times when we would be all ready to go out,but there you will suddenly come out of the blue without any warning with the sun still shining bright. There have been times when we have cribbed about clothes not getting dry, unable to take a walk without an umbrella and have generally found you to be unpredictable..

Probably you wanted to teach us a lesson and bribed your cousin/brother (I'm poor in identifying your relations,ok.) and gave us harsh summers last few years. But this year, the heat was (is) so bad that it just gave jitters to even think of going out. And need not even mention the burns that I suffer around my mouth and the number of lotions that I've tried this time around to moisturize is greater than the sum total of all that I've used in many years..

Ok, let me stop now, for my intention is to offer my heartfelt Thanks to Varun ji..And Please, please let this be a start for this year and keep coming ,ok? if not everyday,atleast every alternate day :)

I wanted to sit in the balcony and keep staring and enjoying the "greenness" of the view this morning.But , thanks to husband's office which had scheduled an early meeting for him, but thankful that because of this reason I woke up early and enjoyed the view,so what if its for a short duration. The picture does no justice to the different  shades of nature's green, but it was too awesome this morning!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

55er : Grass is always greener on the other side

Chella’s interview for the US job lasted 7 months and she thought universe was giving wings to  her desire of living abroad: which remained just a dream having married to Ganapathy immediately after graduation. All her excitement spiraled downwards when the offer letter came . Ganapathy wondered why Chella was sulking inspite of achieving her goal. 


Manonmani longed whenever she saw pictures of friends posing in Disneyland,LasVegas,Hollywood studios or the gorgeous  trekking locations in the US. After 10 years, when she went to the US, she complained of not having maids , the biting cold in winters, child-care duties without a break and the need to be employed to live there!


Both the above incidents based on real life scenarios encountered by two of of my colleagues. We long for something, but the happiness that we get from achieving the goal or the contentment that we derive when our dreams materialize seem to be so fleeting.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Another innings

comes to end

In  no specific order,  here I go:

--  learnt to lead a team which had only men (who says gender doesn't matter in the modern day office setup? It does! .Detailed post on this later)

-- learnt to lead a team which had men senior to me in age, experience, educational qualification

-- learnt NOT to attach myself to the company or team.

-- Woke up to check emails, and have called it a long day just after sending the last email. Been on calls that lasted hours together for at-least 3 days a week

-- Had busy weekdays with conference calls that occupied my evenings every single day of the week

-- Been away from FB,Blog , constant mail checking for a long stretch at times

-- had very very less gossip :)

-- Used time effectively when the need arose

 -- Had a good feeling when team members approached me for every problem:little or big. felt even better wen team members came over to update me on whats happening in their project wen we all move to different teams/projects

 -- Felt surprised many many times when we got to know that a colleague was leaving the company just one day or even on the last day of the engineer. Wondering how in this organisation, news does NOT spread like fire, trickles much much slower :) Felt amazed at how can information be withheld when the notice period duration is full 3 months and hardly are people relieved before serving the complete notice period

-- Amazed to see a LOT of employees working in the same organisation (some in the same technology/project) for more than a decade (I have seen this trait among my colleagues in the US, but seeing Indians being so loyal to the same organisation in the IT field for decades together is first for me.). 

-- Having worked in an organisation which atleast had some way for employees to vent their frustration(doesn't matter if someone is hearing them and taking action, that's a different matter altogether), this one was a shocker for me and I realized in a few months that I have also got used to it and don't crib anymore (cos, there is no company/group for me to join the crib sessions :) ). yes, when it comes to employee benefits, I would say, I can still work in an org that gives very very minimal benefits ( I've heard employees say that work from home policy makes up the absence of all other benefits)

-- I would like to think that I gained the trust of my managers and colleagues (at-least a few of them). There have been many lessons learnt and hope to rectify mistakes in the future, like closing the loop, following up etc

-- Have got frustrated many times when I had to do a managers job (when I don't hold the title nor I'm paid a managers salary) ,when I'm told  to follow up on the email that I'd sent (I thought people who receive emails to respond to them.,No, here, I was told that when I don't receive a response, I need to go behind the person to get what I want..Yes, doesn't matter that the email recipient is also an employee of the same organisation and not the son/daughter of the company's majority stake holder!) , when I need to track my team members work (Aarg! I hate doing this), when I need to fill loads of xl sheets and ppt (wait, this is what I meant in having to do managers do right,so let me stop here), wen my boss constantly says "Go talk to people ,interact and make your name known to everyone. " , no proper transport facility .

-- hardly went for tea/coffee to cat and gossip. Can count the number of times I went for tea/coffee breaks.

-- Did a good amount of work from home in the recent past , but wish I were more disciplined. If on a particular day,I were to work from home, I would probably bath at 4, have food at irregular times and will end up having a loooong day hooked to the PC. At these times, I have felt that going to office is much better as I will anyway be forced with a "travel time" where the time is mine:)

-- Took leave only when necessary and ended up giving up leaves to the organisation

-- Didnt do any holiday wile in this org..This is something I need to change

-- Did comparatively less team lunches. 

-- Could have taken the initiative with the girls group to go out more often . Missed the opportunity and a lesson to be learnt

-- Could have taken effort to get more closer to one or two . The opportunity was there, but the effort was not put..probably all the time was spent in trying to lay the foundation but the strength was not given..Somehow, I've forgotten the art of  getting closer to anyone in office. Will need to change this. Should give it a try next time

-- Having moved to another project the last 6 months where te pressure was relatively lesser, I took it wit both hands and enjoyed my stint here as well. 

-- Had the opportunity to have  mentors (formal allocation) and I was a mentor too. I should have made good use of their gyaan and inputs , hope to implement them in future.

-- Had the opportunity to be a mentor and discovered the patience levels within me.(not too much!!)

-- For a person who got used to being picked up and dropped by comfortable office bus everyday, I had to change buses, use different modes of transport either way to reach my work place at-least for 2.5 years and I somehow managed it

-- Overall a good stay in the organisation, I didn't attach myself to it, I didn't plan specifically to leave either. Just going with the flow..Lets see whats in store.

And thus, this innings comes to an end. 

Wish me luck and wishing the company the best! :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Some philosopy and how I experienced it today

I have heard Amma saying  "yaaruku inniki  enga bojanam potrukko anga than saapda mudiyum"..

Loosely translated as  " Wherever destiny has assigned you to eat today, only there you will dine".

I have been working from home off-late and y'day my previous lunch-buddies pinged me and asked if I could come to office today so that we can catch up during lunch. Excited by the idea of girls-only-gossip-meeting and to have a change of working monotonously ,I jumped in and replied a "Yes" and was in fact looking forward to it. 

This morning, I prepared breakfast and half-lunch ( read: vegetable) and even ate the veggies during bfast as I had plans of lunching out with my friends. 

Clock turns 9:30 : Having bfast catching up with news and logging to PC and checking mails

Clock turns 10: mentally thinking that I will get ready by 11 and reach office by 12 

At 10:30: Engrossed in mails, to-do list and forget to book tickets for Appa who had called in the morning to remind me

At 11:00AM : Remember to book tickets and do the booking, while pinging lunch-buddy telling her tat I would be a bit late but will be there by 1PM.

At 11:30: Lunch buddy calls and says se has a meeting at 2 and will need to prepare for that so will not be able to spend much time today, instead asks if we can meet up tomorrow. I say yes and now searching for some other lunch partner so that I can go out and have outside food .

At 12:00 noon: Colleague calls and I ask if he will join me for lunch. He is neither enthusiastic nor in denying., but says calendar is packed with meetings, hence may not be able to spend time with me. After a while,(probably sensing my disappointment) says he will not attend the meeting which is scheduled immediately after lunch time so that he can spend some time with me.

At 12:30:  I go to the balcony and sense the heat of  the summer sun and decide to lock myself up in the house and not venture out.

At 1:00 PM:  decide to have a bath and later  lunch at home .

So, all the while when I have heard the statement that Amma makes, I have nodded my head and thought I understood the same. But, today, I experienced it and it sunk in well. 

This is nothing new. There are different situations and contexts where the underlying concept will apply. We can only do what we can..Not everything is in our control, right, when it comes to as simple thing as a planning a lunch meeting.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The organic bug

comes to bite me every now and then. So far , it was only the food-related organic bug, but off-late, its cousin, ie, hair and body wash organic bug has also bitten me.

Not sure exactly where it all started, but the desire to use organic bath soap has been there for some time, just that I didnt make any effort to search and buy one.

The first one I picked was from Fab-India which claimed organic in its front label , but the back label had the names of chemicals. I went ahead and bought that and used it too. This one was hard,produced lather like any other soap, but somehow I did not like it very much. The hard texture of the soap itself was a put-off . I wanted to finish this one soon, so, used it liberally.

One visit to the Lush store set me into action and a brief search led me to Burst of Happyness website   and had me order a soap that claimed is suitable for the changing season in November.  Along with this one, I ordered a shampoo bar and a Lip Balm . I was eagerly awaiting the arrival and it took only one full week for the bars to arrive. I had a lot of expectations, after the trip to the Lush store and taking in the aroma of some of the bars there . But, when the package arrived, as my expectations were high, it let me down a bit but ,nevertheless, the bars did have a subtle aroma and if you inhale deeply, you can smell their fragrance . And add the "organic, handmade" factor and it gave me a sense of peace and happiness within. I rushed for bath the next morning and what do I find: the body soap gives out very very thin lather and in spite of using it twice in the same wash, my skin had to be smelt deeply to identify the fragrance the usage of the soap left behind. As I mentioned earlier, the thought the I was using an organic product sans the chemicals itself was mentally satisfying though I had high expectations and this product did not satisfy that . (Lesson to learn here I guess: Its all in the mind!!.)

The lip balm was good, no doubt in that . And quite effective too. Worth the money. This bath soap lasted for exactly 17 days. melts like ice-cream. My experience with shampoo bar is down the line , as I started using it recently.

Next I happened to pick up a soap from Khadi which claimed that it is hand-made soap , free of chemicals. This one was hard, similar to the one from Fab -India, but I went ahead and opened myself to test that and this one gave out good fragrance compared to both of the previous soaps , but somehow , the hard transparent look and feel of this one didnt stick on to me, so I used liberally and finished it off soon. But, the plus here is the good aroma it gave on the skin.

Next in line comes : Areev , I picked two variants: wild orchid and cucumber and mint soap. These produce good lather, and the fragrance is mild and soothing. The wild orchid variant especially gave a deep aroma.  Has a good feel when you use it and all in all, a decent buy. 

I have two others lined up: One from Do Bandar and other from Belleza. Shall update this one after using them.

Coming to the shampoo bar , it gave me good exercise for my hands in producing lather and the bar is hard too. Now, fist time when I used it , I didn't use a shampoo after this bar usage and ended up with oily hair even after the wash . Next time, I had to use it for long to produce a good lather and use it multiple times so that the oil applied before the wash goes way which means, long exercise for the hands and getting tired at the end of it !(:  But, once you use it multiple times in the same wash, the henna smell in the hair feels good and will make you have good food and doze away soon after the wash :) .

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Food of Love : Book Review

I bought this book per TGND's review recommendation and in fact, I was a little carried away by the title and pondered a while before paying for it. The reason for having double thoughts is because I'm not a person that interested in cooking .ie, I dont have this sustained (sustained is the keyword here)  passion to cook or have consistent interest in figuring out or thinking about different items to dish out..But, I'll eat well , with gratitude, whatever is put in my plate :) I'm also waiting to see if I change over in due course.(Already I see a drastic change in me, for the person who has not even entered the kitchen before marriage, I've atleast started to think and plan meals :)) ..Anyway, enough digression . Now, back to the book. Glad that I didnt go by my useless double thoughts and picked this book and I enjoyed reading this one .

If you detach "food" from the story line, then, its a simple triangle love story that anyone can most commonly guess. But, add the "food" factor here and the result you get is an experience which is a lip smacking, enjoyable read :)

This book by Anthony Capella revolves around three main characters , Tommaso , Bruno and Laura forming the three corners of the triangle . Laura is a student visiting Rome for a year and wishes to date  someone who is sensual, creative, understands taste and texture and perhaps a "dexterous" man . Tommaso is  handsome and has a way with girls and they simply fall for him. Tommaso wants to include Laura in this list but figures that she is in look out for someone who is a chef. Tommaso is a waiter, whereas his friend Bruno is an excellent chef. The story revolves around how Tommaso makes use of Bruno's skills to be around Laura. Laura is delighted that she has found "THE " person that she is looking for , all this without knowing that it was Bruno who is in love with Laura and puts in all his passion ,imagination and creativity in all that he cooks for Laura.  Will Laura ever get to know who does the cooking? And will Bruno ever be able to put a full stop to this drama and confess his love directly to Laura? The rest of the story gives answers to these questions.

Now, the passion with which Bruno cooks every dish and the way in which the author has narrated it makes you sense the aroma coming out of somewhere near you and many a time, the description of the spice combinations makes you drool :) There are various references to pigs and all other animals/birds and  how their various organs are cooked etc, but it does not makes the reader flinch one bit (even for a vegetarian like me!) . In fact, I started craving for the dishes narrated in there just that  all those organs be replaced with something vegetarian..And wondering if this is such kind of  authentic Italian food is still being cooked/served in Italy. Lucky Italians!! Sigh!

Overall, a good read, simple one but will instigate your appetite ! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chocolat : Book Review

I bought this book from Blossoms based on TGND's recommendation. When I started to read this one a couple of months back, it did not hold my interest after a few pages and at that point, I wasn't sure if I would pick it up later at all. Little did I know that I would pick it up again in just a few months down the line and would actually find it to be a simple chocolaty read and also realize that nosy/gossipy people do exist in western communities too.

This book by Joanne Harris is about a single mother and her daughter who decide to set up a chocolate bakery/cafe in a small town in France. Apparently, they land up in the town and start their business during the Lent period (during the Easter season). This  irks the church and the believers,especially the pastor. So, the town kind of gets divided into supporters of the bakery and non-supporters. During this time, the protagonist arranges for a chocolate festival on the Easter Sunday and the book takes you through the different kinds of people that the protagonist comes across, how they go through their life, how she faces trials and resistance with  courage and builds her inner strength and more importantly how she makes it a point to make her customers feel at home at her cafe and tries to become one among them.The reader is treated to good amount of chocolaty treats that makes one drool and you will grab a chocolate near you for sure as you read the book. Overall, a good chocolaty simple read.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Gift : 55-er

He hesitated to be seen by his extended family with  the bouquet she gifted him. Few years on, she was greeted to V-day wishes by him over long distance call and mentioned that he retained the T-shirt she gave her long ago just so that he can release it today and feel her presence .

Happy Valentine's Day , everyone! May Love spread in our hearts and homes :)

Notes from hospital

  • The hospital gives out a neutral fragrance and thanks to that, for "the hospital smell" itself will make one feel sick
  • The ambiance makes one feel as if you are entering in a mall or a general lounge where plush sofas, resting areas along with cafe and good food is available.
  • Now to some rant, the administration is not seamless and makes the patient run from pillar to post to get admitted
  • Information on the availability of rooms is not centralized and every floor gives us a different status.Add to that the slow lit service, patients' attender will have a nice exercise before we get allotted a room
  • Wondering how such a posh hospital can have a general ward which has NO place for patient's attenders to sleep over for the night.
  • Hospital canteen serves awesome lip smacking food, just that you will have to take in the sights and smell while people who have come along with you relish different varieties of food over there as if it were a proper restaurant
  • From my previous encounter with hospitals, I've come across nurses who seem to know all 4 south Indian languages, if not fluent, atleast to some extent. But, this one had nurses who conversed only in one local language and if the patient says something in her anesthesia induced state , it went unheard. While only mother tongue seemed to come out of my mouth to  ask for help, one nurse boldly says, you either talk in kannada or there is no nurse who understands Tamil!!
  • When you ask the nurse to be slow and not apply force (be it while injecting, or while dressing up or while inspecting the stitches), they just stop their task and dial in a number and call the head nurse and complain" the patient is not allowing me to do anything"...Bah!! Does requesting to be gentle translate to not allowing, uh? Need to find in which dictionary they learn this
  • Luxury rooms have a sofa for the patients helper to sleep in.If they charge a bomb for the rent, why not provide a decent small bed for the helper. Infact., the helper is the one who needs good rest so that he/she can help the patient.
  • Rooms are AC and no windows. So, if you want fresh air and no A/C, you dont have an option.
  • While the restrooms have dental kit, shower cap, shower gel, 2 different kinds of soaps, there is a definite need for basic bucket and mug (instead a hand shower is present) . We try to go the western way, but having Indian stuff in certain places will definitely help
  • Needless to mention about insurance, the moment they know we are under insurance, costs triple. And on top of it, the hospital expects the patient to intermediate and solve the issues between the hospital and insurance company!! and what he heard was: if insurance is paying, we'll charge for 2 days, if you are paying on the spot, then, we will charge for a day and a half's room charge. 
  • All magic "paybale/non-payables" list is made and the patient is made to pay amount after a long delay and wait. Finally, after the patient is home and has time to look at the bills, finds that extra amount is charged and when we enquire the hospital they say "dont worry Mam, your money will not go anywhere ,Its safe with us." No mention of returning, if asked, as usual, a long story follows

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Has Google Maps become this accurate?

that when I checked the distance from My Location to Aprameya Swami Temple, it said 72 kms and viola, when we closed the engine to get off the trip, we saw that the car meter also shows an exact 144 kms!!

When has technology become so accurate?! With this, my expectations have also raised, how nice it will be if we were to be given the near approximate time to travel (depending on the current "live" traffic on the road) from one place to another?

Bangalore traffic needs no introduction, it is world famous. But still, there are only countable number of times when I've gotten ready first (after we decide on the time to leave home) and been on time. If we decide that we need to start early to office the next day, we'll fix a time and set up the alarm. Come morning, my mind will behave as if there is going to be no traffic and I'll keep snoozing the alarm every five minutes only to rush in the end and be late,eventually and get stuck in the traffic.

I want to record here how I think in the morning just so that many years down the line, I can come back here and laugh(hopefully by then, I would have disciplined myself!!) . I'll start calculating time for each chore, ie, 3 minutes for brushing, 7-10 for bathing, bfast preparation time: 20 mins, eating time:5 mins(or may be pack the dabba and eat on the way or after reaching office), and say misc: 10 minutes. And I'll end up with morning ablutions for 30 full minutes, breakfast preparation time will take another 30 - 40 minutes(cos I would have then realized that rava idli stock is too less or the power is off and I cant use the mixie to make chutney or the pongal has come like rice and there will be a war going on in the brain with all of this). So, needless to say, S will be all ready and set to leave after breakfast and I'll keep telling him 5 minutes (ingeyum intha 5 minutes than, meaning e theriyama 5 minutes solluven, ie, for anything and everything, it is standard 5 mins) and finally when we leave home, it will be a full 30 minutes or more than the time that we would have decided upon earlier..In spite of this repeated behaviour from me, S has been so patient enough and has never once shown his frustration ! Thanks a ton, dear for bearing with me! I will try and change ok? (try is the keyword here :) )

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Restaurant Review

Its been long since I posted my comments on restaurants where we dined..It so happened that we either went to the same tried ones or didn't venture out too much..Anyways here's some of them where we tried:

La Tagliatella :
  I wanted to have pizza and didn't want to go to Domino's or Pizza Hut. We decided to check out this new place where we had not been before and landed up in this restaurant located in 100ft Road,Indiranagar. One of the bungalows converted into this neat restaurant with walls adorning pictures depicting way of life in  Italy (I suppose) . We had a portion of Veg Green Salad (for appetizer) and Mixed Mushroom Pizza (The names are all Italian, I'm mentioning what it actually is in Indianised language) . The Salad portion is huge : three large squares of mozarella cheese ,crisp on the outside, very soft on the inside; English corn with pistachios, walnuts and a few other nuts, lettuce, olives, caramelized tomato slices all tossed in vinaigrette of your choice (we chose honey flavor and needless to say, it tasted yummy !) . The pizza base was so damn thin and curled in the edges and you need not put any effort in chewing the base.The base along with the cheese melts in the mouth. I hear that this is close to the Italian version of the Pizza and the rest (ie, Domino's , Pizza Hut) are US versions. Whatever it is, the salad and the Pizza were filling and we didn't have place for dessert. 
Price wise, a bit on the higher end, but compared to other places which charge a bomb these days for anything, I think it is worth once in a while.

Mama Mexicana:
   I get this craving to eat sizzlers once in a while and we happened to be at 1 MG Road this time and thought of trying out Mama Mexicana there. They did not serve sizzlers, but had the range of burritos, enchiladas, quesadilla, and Pizzas and Burgers. Since I was not upto again going back to making decision of where to eat , we decided to stick to this place and finish our dinner. So, we ordered Refried Beans Burger and Assorted Fungi Pizza. The burger was decent , nothing to complain, at the same time nothing to talk great about too (You should try out the Big Moth Burger in Chilis) . Pizza base was something similar to what we get from stores and just put on the cheese,mushrooms, onions et all and sprinkle olive oil and was served. Hard to bite and chew, the edges especially and cheese was also so-so..I dont think I would go back to this place again. 

Price wise, considering this restaurant was located in the mall and all that, price looked decent for most of the items on the menu.

Food Hall:
  Food Hall has a assorted bread section, salad section and live pasta section. The pasta is decent and can serve as a quick way to fill your stomach while you are shopping in the mall. Salad bar is good with assortments that you can choose from and it is priced per the quantity you take. One thing which I noticed in Food Hall is that there are samples of waffles, breads, hummus, jams etc kept for people to taste and the queue to taste these free food is longer than the queue to order and buy food..:)

   We went here on Deepavali day for Lunch and even though we were there by around 1PM, we had to wait for long to get a table (Like us, many had locked their kitchens on Diwali, I suppose). The attitude of those serving and the food itself was such a disappointment. The sweet got over and so they quickly made some paal-payasam which looked like just white water and one of the side-dishes had also got over for which neither did they apologies nor arrange for any replacement. The appalam was also low in quantity I suppose. But the price : needless to mention, higher than what they normally charge for this same meal every day. probably one dish was more this day and we never got to taste this one as it got over by then. Food quality was also not good that day, but even when we were done and walking out, we could see many of them entering to have their lunch. Overall, a bad experience and I for one, never vote for this place . Just that the SIL's family were also joining us for lunch and they are all prefer south-indian meals and they visit here frequently and so we chose this place. The attitude of the employees, the food quality and the price they charge : just not worth it..I would have cooked better meals than them , really.

MTR : 
  A branch of MTR is opened in 100ft Road in Indiranagar and we have had lunch there once. Good food , I would say, has both options of mini-meals and full-meals and full-meals has unlimited dosas, pooris which S relished. Sambhar and rasam are the uaual Kannadiga way, so you cant come to MTR and ask for Tamilian version of sambhar.  The main point which I wanted to mention is the tiffin that is served her. The quality is too good and for less than 200 bucks, you can have a full-filling tiffin for two. Compared to this Adayar Ananda Bhavan where the quality of food is not all that great and prices are increasing day by day, this one is definitely a winner.

Ganesh Bhavan:
  Why not mention the next door Ganesh Bhavan which serves yummy food day in and day out. So what if its a place where you will have to stand and eat , so what if the hotel's total area is 500-600 sq feet, so what if you can look at the kitchen where grinder is on in one side, dosa master is busy in other corner and onions are being cut in the third corner? This place served good food, be it tiffin or proper meal, this wins on a any day compared to Annapoorna. You wont believe if I say that for 40 bucks, you are served with unlimited quantity of rice,sambhar, rasam, kootu, poriyal, papad ,pickle and buttermilk. and the masala dosas here are a hit with me and Sambhar Idly is S's favorite in this place. If not for places like these, how will normal people get to relish outside food at a cost that suits their budget? Thank you,Ganesh Bhavan. May you keep filling the stomachs of all those who come to you.

  Located in malleshwaram, I have heard of this place before and got an opportunity to eat here while my friend and I went to Malleshwaram impromptu on a team outing day. She had masala Dosa and I had Mysore Bonda. Benne Dosa I hear is popular here and melts in the mouth. Inspite of my friend mentioning very less oil, there was generous oil in the masala dosa and it tasted good too. Just that there is no sambhar here, only chutney for both the bonda and the dosa. Good food, overall.

Squeeeze Bar :
    This place catches attention in Phoenix Market City Mall with its claim of healthier drinks: Parfait, fruit falooda, different fruit shakes etc. Dont get fruit bowl in this place, fruit bowl only costs rs.80 for the regular size bowl you can get in any cafeteria. And the parfait was Ok for the first time , it didnt charm me next time onwards. A branch of this is opened in RMZ Infinity and here, the prices are half of what is in PMC and quality is also good. When they say Thick shake, they really mean it here and for their store in PMC, I wouldn't go there unless there is a need to.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dhaavani Kanavugal..

remains just kanavugal for me..

I grew up in a town and paavadai-dhavani was neither too common nor too obsolete. You could still spot a girl or two wearing one when you walk by the market road. However, when I was in teens, the craze for schools to move over to salwar-kameez-with pinned dupatta started and it no time, most of the schools became converts. Only two schools in our town still had half-saree as uniform for 11th and 12th Std girls.

In hindsight, I realise the effects of hormones during my teen years .(romba seekarama gyana udayam varudhu ! Sigh!)..It could be a mix of all of these or some of these put together that made me behave the way I did then: inferiority complex admist my cousins who were all city-bred that I didnt want to pose myself as a "village-girl", or the way fashion was portrayed by the media and I was taken towards it or deep within me, I myself considered wearing half-saree meant I'll be a biiig girl and can no longer expect to be treated like a child , or because I have seen men passing comments /teasing as young girls in half-saree pass by (both in media and real-life) and felt disgusted and dreaded the day I would be subjected to such abuse. Something within me was a rebel against wearning half-saree that I was so adamant and protested against wearing one when I attained puberty. As such, in the community I belong to, we dont celebrate it that big compared to what I have seen and heard of how this event is celebrated with so much of fanfare (very close to how a wedding is or vividly I remember one of my classmates mentioning that this function will be grander than a wedding in some communities..!) ..My parents had invited all neighbours in the street we resided and some of our relatives landed down and I hated being looked at by all. I didnt like the concept of getting dressed up with saree/jewels/flowers etc and just be seated so that everyone can keep looking at me and come over one after the other and shower blessings. Wouldnt they shower blessings if I were in a salwar? I was such a rebel that day and Thankfully, (Thanks a Ton Amma and Appa) my parents didnt force me and I was allowed to be myself..In hindsight, I'm wondering what an effect it would have had on me if parents got pressured with what relatives/neighbours had to say and in turn forced me into doing things that I didn't want to at that time..

Fast forward to a few months, my aunt said that one of my cousins in Chennai obliged to wearning saree, got all decked up and caught everyone's attention for a few hours..My aunt was also giving me gyaan that this is an one time event and that I should have obliged etc etc..All through her monologue, just one time I felt how it would have been if I had worn the saree/half-saree , got decked up etc..(confused hormones, eh). But this thought was very fleeting and later , at various occasions, I didn't feel upto it to start wearing the half-saree

It was time to change schools after 10th, so, while looking for schools, I simply didst buy into joining this school (one of the two I 'd mentioned above) which had very good coaching, produced good results in 12th , just because the uniform was a half-saree.. It required so much of advice and convincing from my parents so that I nod my head for this school. But, (as they manasu pol mangalyam, though not mangalyam in this case :) ) I got admitted into an equally reputed good school which had salwar as its uniform..One big relief!! 

All through, the desire to wear a half-saree wasnt that big, and I didnt feel like wearing it then..fast forward, farewells came, I wore saree in those occasions and marriage happened and I started wearing sarees..Now, the real guilt trip started..

The desire to wear a half-saree is at its peak and doesn't seem to go down..But now, feel odd to wear a half-saree which is supposed to be an attire for young girls in teens.In the temple I visit once in a while in Bangalore, I have seen a couple with a kid where the wife/mother wears a half-saree at all the times that I 've spotted them..This convinced me to buy one for myself or at least try out one from  my sister. But, this thought would come up in Bangalore and when I go home, the actual doing will not happen..These days, whenever I see girls in half-saree (especially when I do a day travel to my home town, which I did recently ) riding a cycle, I get all nostalgic and regret for not having worn it..Now, I find half-saree is so much fun and you can actually dress up well in it and flaunt your teen curves ..I will let my daughter read this and hope she will not succumb to what people might think or say, but just follow her heart..I too followed my heart then, only that this same heart thinks and behaves differently at different times..:)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Upma Paduthum Paadu

Arisi Upma, that is..I make rava upma rarely these days, as somehow this wrong notion has gotten on to myhead that arisi upma or dhalia/wheat upma is better(for health,that is) than the rava one. 

Though the recipe for arisi upma is simple and can be made comparatively quickly too, the right way to prepare the same in order to get the final "udhir-udhiraa" upma is somehow dodging me..The main part which I'm not able to master is how long should I allow the upma in the cooker, ie, how many whistles should I wait before I sim it and turn it off. Today, it was worse : It went like this: Keep the stove in sim from the beginning (thinking I will switch off as soon as first whistle comes), then, when there was no sign of a proper whistle , I turned the flame higher, only to put things in the fridge and put in sim and then go and catch a quick glance at the clock and come back to put the stove in higher flame and this drama continued for some time until I realised enough is enough and bravely switched it off .. 

When I first made this upma, it came out as proper sadam (I had not grind it properly), next time, it had clumps (because I had not seived the ground rice+dhal+pepper+jeera), third time, it came out as koozhu (probably watre was too much), then it got adi pudichified, then, dry ...ah..let me stop here..Today, I think it came out a little better though I was not too satisfied, but the udhir-udhir types was seen , but a bit dry..

Arisi Upma, you better turn out well next time onwards Ok?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

55-er : Familiar sound..

With traces of mehendi still in her palms, she takes the sights of children waiting for school bus, joggers on the road and clear morning sky. She realizes how much she has gelled at her “new home” when she identifies  the whistle from the cooker in her kitchen among other whistles coming from neighboring houses. 

En Samayalariyil...

That was I think one hit song when this movie was released..

But, in my samayalarai, the dishes I cook turn out either good or not bad..I started cooking only after getting married, and prior to that, I can count the number of times that I have entered the kitchen..Yes, neither did my mom ask me to do anything nor did I volunteer to help her around. (Sis is one big masterchef right from an early age itself). I, on the other hand would eat anything that is put on my plate , and for that matter, I wouldnt even distinguish between less salt/correct salt/more salt in dishes..Amma would serve me first asking me to taste and I would be all praise for her cooking only for Appa to taste and pass his comments on more/less salt etc. In short, I was not a fussy child when it comes to taste, asking for different varieties of food etc, but I was a fussy eater..you get the point nah..I think sometime around higher secondary, I discovered my love for Norukku Theeni and my mom pampered me with murukku,seedai, rava urundai , thenkozhal and what not ..Thanks to Vengarai Mami (who lived closer to our home for a brief period) whom my mom considered a mother figure was more than enthusiastic to help mom in making all these savories.

I love vadams, not appalams and come summer I used to be the resident crow who used to gulp down the javvarisi maavu right after Paati spread it out in sheets in the terrace..Somehow, the taste of javvarisi maavu tasted much much better when eaten after it was put on the plastic sheet to dry than when the S.A.M.E maavu was put in a cup and given for me to devour! :)

Coming back to cooking , I learnt cooking by observing MIL and thanks to internet (last few years only). I didnt look up internet sites to find recipes and try at home when I was newly married..Cant point out the exact reason, but may be because I didnt have an inherent interest, I was scared of the comments that I would receive ( I got to know that MIL had told relatives when they enquired on my cooking skills that I didnt get chapatti round. I got so upset then..Wish I was more matured then and did not get so upset) and moreover, though it was not explicitly told, MIL held the keys to the kitchen, though not in literal sense. More of my own ignorance (I got aware of this one much later that the best way to reach a man's heart is through his heart :) . Had I known this earlier, I would have put some effort :) in the cooking department in our early married days:) ). And add to this a husband who is  totally non-fussy , and even if you ask what you feel like eating or what's your favorite, the answer would be prepare whatever you feel like for the former and get to know by yourselves rather than getting answers for the questionnaire for the latter. I should also mention that I also didnt have too much interest in cooking then. But slowly, I also learnt and graduated from helping in the kitchen, ie, the accessory stuff to making the complete meal myself. And then, started browsing for recipes, wait, just the regular recipes..Even now, I do a brief browse in the internet for lemon-rasam , pepper rasam, more-kootu ,thogayal recipes before cooking them..But, I can say that my cooking skills have improved (again only the regular meal here ) , considering that inherently I dont have that much of an interest and that I have not been trained formally/informally too.

I like the simple dal chawal than the sambhar..Sambhar is something that plays hide and seek with me..Sometimes, it turns out decently well, somethimes it turns out baah with taste of manjal podi (: rasam also belongs to the same category, sometimes it turms out tangy and yum, sometimes, I feel like I want to put the rasam pathram in sink asap (:  Veggies , kootu , simple dhal, : I love cooking them and I think they come out well than rest of the dishes..And Many thanks to my sweet heart in the form of husband who simply bears with all my cooking and never raises a word..For that matter, appreciation also has come rarely, but neverthelss, I pester him to appreciate me :) :)

One last thing before I complete the ramble: Usage of utensils : When I started cooking, most of the utensils will be in the sink at the end of my cooking adventure. But, I observed MIL in this aspect too and later learnt to plan before and during  cookingand now, I can say that I am efficient in this aspect..But still, there is lot of room to improve and I hope our child will  give the trigger of enthu to dish out food with lots a love, good taste with variety and healthy as well..Let me see what I write later :) Will come back to this space and update :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Sakarai Pongal, Kootu, Sambhar, Rasam, Vada was today's menu for Pongal. Untill higher secondary, Pongal was one festival where we could day full 5 days of holidays. Even if the main Pongal fell on a weekend, we would still get a few week-days off. It was not just the school that were off , most of the shops would be shut, vegetable vendors take off atleast for a couple of days, all in all, town will be virtually shut and its time for good food, loads of TV, play, and family..When it comes to play, it is just not regular play, but 2 days full of different competitions will be held in every street. Everyone from a child to dhadhi will have something or the other to take part in and win many prizes..

Starting from goli to running race (different lengths), music chair, rangoli, carrom , chess and even weight lifting for men. I have participated in a couple of years and won a third prize in at I was inspired to participate because of our maid's daughter,Jothi. She had great athletic talent that she would win any competition and in fact, she has told that the most of the utensils (yes, the prizes were plates, tumblers ,dabaras, tiffin boxes , and other stainless steel utensils) in her house were won by her during Pongal sports competitions.

Happy Pongal everyone! May our lives be filled with loads of sunshine :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Coming for a movie in a theatre??

Answer is "Depends"

If I want to go out with a girl friend AND if the movie is good, then, I'm game.
If its Kamal's movie or Surya's movie which I feel like watching (Varanama AAyiram : yes, Much hyped Vishwaroopam: yes, rest everything in the recent past : a big NO) , then, I shall come
If sis wants a company for a decent time pass movie, then, I shall accompany (Kadalil Sothapuvadhu Eppadi)
If we go as a team to a decent/good movie , then I'm game (Jodhaa Akbar)
If we go as a family to a decent/good movie, I will come along (Endhiran, Abhiyum Naanum)
If I pester S to accompany me to a movie which I want to wtach in theatre, and IF he agrees, yay! (Varanam Aayiram)
If as a team , we are fed up and just want to bunk, then just to be a team-player, I accompany (dont remember the name of the movie, but it was an English movie based on war)

The above are some of the situations that immediately come to my mind where I would like to watch a movie in a theater.

Even if its watching movies at home, I would rather go out, do some work- household cleaning or office work or read or listen to music or sleep than watching movies. Firstly, I don't have the patience to go through the dance/song/same masala : love-fight sequences that seem to be the backdrop in most of the movies. But, if its the song or dance or the romance I like to watch,then I'll be glued to the TV or PC.

The loud noise in the theaters puts me off and both S and I dont fascinate watching movies in theaters. We would on any day prefer the comfort of our home.So, going to theater is hardly on our minds.

But, growing up, we have been to theaters many times and I remember sitting on stool in the last row and watching Thevar Magan way back. I also remember going to some Vijayakanth movie (for lack of decent movies on that day) just to time-pass with my cousin who was vacationing at our home. Alaipayuthey is one movie which I have watched some 6-7 mines in a span of 1 or 2 days in the VCR  at home (Ahh..the teen hormones I say). Vaali is a movie where 3 generation were glued to the TV (granny, Amma, my cousins,sis and I) I watched lip-lock scene from Kuruthipunal along with an Aunt who was in turn watching my reaction. (I was glued to the big screen :) knowing that she is watching me...Sorry, I was confused how to react at that adolescent age, especially when someone is watching you) . Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal, Keladi Kanmani, Thevar Magan, Kaaka Kaaka , Mouna Raagam, are a few of them I would watch any day. Next to this list are : Naayagan, Michael Madana kama Rajan, Varusham 16, Pudhu Vasantham, Kandukondein kandukondein, Jeans , oldies like Paasa malar, Pachai Vilaku and few more which I'm lazy to type or doesnt come to my mind instantly.

But, some times, just very few times,  this movie mania catches me and I've blogged about it here : Movie Mania.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

All in a day's work

  • Engineer1 says he will not work on his allotted tasks in our project as he is lagging behind in a different project and wants to complete that
  • Engineer2 is unwell and is on leave and informs this only when I call him to check why he is not online
  • Engineer3 says she is new to the project (even after 3 full months of ONLY training) and hence will take time to complete the assigned work
  • Engineer4 does not pick up the repeated phone calls, neither does anyone in the team including the manager know what has happened to him
  • Engineer5 continues to argue that he will only code a rough copy and make sure thinsg work and will refine it later, and this later has never come in the last 2 years
  • When I want to vent all this out to the manager, I find a mail that manager is on leave on her personal work
All of the above happened today. Should I just close the PC and take a break?? But, I ended up over working and returning home very tired. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Music = Bliss

My Parents put me on to music class sometime around when I was 5 or 6. Initially, I looked forward to it and as much as I can remember, things went ok for a year or so. Then, my cousin also enrolled for the class and her voice was sweeter than mine. I don't remember the reason or the underlying cause, but I don't know what got into me, I started being a rebel when it comes to paatu class . I wouldn't open my mouth, I sang in very low voice and I don't remember what all mischief I did, but one thing that I can clearly remember is I created such a big fuss and did a big drama in the weekly 2 or 3 classes that we used to have. Amma even gave me a break thinking a break would calm me down , but none of it helped. My paatu miss, being the gentle soul that she was tried all possible tactics from chocolaty treats to taking the effort to send everyone else and lock the room and teach me..

Then , we moved from Chennai and finding a new paatu miss was a a big challenge in the new place , my sis came into our lives, and I got busy with co-curricular and school and paatu was forgotten. But,somewhere in between I developed an affinity towards music. Combined with the fact that my mother being trained in carnatic music in her growing up years and my dad being a connoisseur of good music (He had an eclectic collection of music cassettes from carnatic to ghazal to movie songs back in  80's), I too started enjoying listening to songs. It started with movie songs,carols and prayer songs at school, devotional songs for competitions and slowly graduated to listening to carnatic music.

Music has been my companion during college hostel days and during travel. Thanks to all these private TV channels and the round the clock music channels, at one point of time, if I turned on the TV, it would be only to these music channels. If I dont like any of it, the TV would be promptly turned off. 

And thanks to the organisation I worked for and the people seated around me, first thing I would do just after checking emails in the morning is to visit musicindiaonline or raaga and put on my head set. Anyone who walks into our office will wonder if it was a call center  for you can find most of them having their head sets on, just that people will only listen and not talk :)  I used to have more than 3 headsets and would be happy to give the spare to anyone who asks for.  There was also a phase (when I changed jobs , that is) that I simply forgot what it means to relax and listen to music..I was so caught up with the routine that I forgot that something called music existed. Neither did I listen during travel nor at home, forget about office hours. 

When I started to work,  an aunty who was a music teacher  stayed in the same PG as mine and a few of my PG mates were learning music/veena from her. I started taking classes from her but couldn't continue for long as the timings didnt work out. 

First music teachera evvalavu paadu paduthi irupen, thats why my wish to learn to carnatic is still unfullfilled. Ippo voice ellam very bad a iruku enpadu vera vishayam. 

Coming to the music that I listen to, it varies on the mood, obvious nah. majorly, I would prefer soft soothing ones compared to loud ones. Loud ones are also good to listen to during  the appropriate mood or situation. 

The Christmas weekend, I happened to attend a Live concert at Phoenix Market City after a very very long time (I forget when I listened to a live non-carnatic music concert last). Thanks to our proximity to a sabha, I have had the opportunity to enjoy carnatic music concerts from stalwarts like Unnikrishnan, TMK, priya Sisters and Nithyashree a few years ago. 

This one from Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal : Kalyana Maalai Kondadum penne is one of my most favourite songs,:the lyrics, and the distinct notes from various instruments are superb in this song I can make a huge list of my favorites from songs from Paasa malar movie to the most recent Aananda Yaazhai . I'm no expert to comment, due to the synthesiser and the technologically adavnced keyboards,  I feel the songs in the recent times fail to bring out the beauty of   the different musical instruments. The tune , the music,the voice behind the song, everything is good, but somehow,I crave for raw , un-adultered instrumental tunes many times.