Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Party pressure

I wonder where and how it all started in india. The question - "What are you doing at 12 on 31st night? " I wonder when our obsession with this began. I see folks spending so much money to bring in a new year. I realized a few years back that I want to bring in the new year at the place I love the most - our lovely house. I've got an interesting menu planned and folks coming over. I hope the next year is as awesome as this one and I don't fall for peer pressure and do anything silly this year too.

Belur - another picture story

Belur is on the Bangalore to Mangalore route. The Channakesava temple is a wonder set in stone and the place is so beautiful to behold. I'm so proud of my heritage when I see the place. Its a charming example of Hoysala architecture and the place is very well maintained.
One of the smaller towers

Yali at the entrance

The roof

Ravana

Narasimha killing hiranyakasipu

Reliving the wizardy

I found two Wizard of oz books the first and the second in bookworm off brigade road. I was so delighted and I've started reading the series. I finished two and ordered ozma of oz as an eBook. Its so wonderful. Even years, rather decades after release these books are so magical. The story is timeless. I pray that I'd be able to create a marvel like this someday. Timeless and entertaining and enriching.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tanjore - a picture story


The big temple tower

I think the nandis smiling

Painting in Tanjore palace

Devi on the wall. Look at the detail!

Doggy love

I'm so glad to be at home with the devils. They've become such a pair. I'm scared of bragging too much lest something happens to them. But I can't resist posting these two pics.
The angels and the guards. I've got both of them. :)

The malur road

We drive from bangalore to Madurai with the dogs. We've recently found a slightly different route for coming back that doesn't touch hosur. Anyone whose driven that way knows how bad the traffic in the hosur road can get especially with trucks trying to murder you for no fault of yours. Anyway, we trusted maps the last couple of times and took a diversion near shoolagiri. The roads are empty and narrow. They are very scenic though and you get to watch tiny villages go by. Laika loves looking out and watching the dogs in the road. I wonder if she finds them interesting or if she is dismissive of them. Zoya is too tired to watch and she is dead to the world.

The malur road has no lights. I feel safe there because we have these two along. I doubt I'll be so calm else. I wonder how people in that area live. How are they ok getting by without electricity? If the world goes to the dogs and there is no petrol and electricity I think those guys will be able to get by happily while I won't be. It's a road which makes me ponder and laugh when I cross places like a.chettypalli, masti etc. I am glad I have a life which let's me explore, which gives me a chance to drive through unknown roads towards a beautiful destination which I never tire of coming back to because home is where my heart definitely is.

Srivilliputhur - the female poet honoured

Srivilliputhur is a town located 1.5 hours away from Madurai by car. The gopuram of the temple is Tamil Nadu governments symbol. It's 192 feet tall and is a breathtaking to behold. The temple is more than a thousand years old. The inner sanctum has Andal leaning on Rangamannan's shoulder.

To those unfamiliar, the story goes like this. Periyalwar was a tamil saint. He attended to the temple and one day in the temple garden he found a beautiful baby girl. Childless himself he brought her up. Andal was in love with lord Vishnu and would wear the garland she made for him everyday before it was taken for The Lord. She composed the tirupaavai and was happy to be in love until her father found out one day. He found a match for her to marry her off but before the wedding, Andal becomes one with The Lord. Till date you can see the well where Andal saw her reflection in the water when she wore the mala and also the garden where she was found.

Periyalwars descendants are still around and you can visit the house where Andal was brought up. I am not sure how accurate that is but I am so happy that there a a temple dedicated to a poetess. Anyone who has heard thiruppavai knows how lyrical and beautiful the verse is. The the temple is calm and not commercial. Right outside you find shops selling the palgova. The palgova is awesome and I ate quite a lot of it. In the main market there is a tiny eatery called kathiravan. Their chutneys and dosa is so tasty.

Tanjore - the shadow that never falls

Our first stop from Madurai in our long road trip was Tanjore. I've been meaning to go to the Brihadeeshwara temple for the longest time and I am glad I did. The drive from Madurai to Tanjore was awesome. The toll road was pretty good and we could easily touch 100. The road until tricky was great and once we crossed trichy, the roads were as good as before. We passed by NIT and Sastra and realised that the road had a lot of colleges.

We headed to the saraswati mahal library first as they would close it by 12. The library is the private collection of King.Sarabhoji. He was a Maratha king who ruled over Tanjore. His family still lives in the city. His collection was mind blowing. He had books of all languages and the few dictionaries displayed looked so interesting. I want to just go there sit and read all my life. The biology books there are so beautifully illustrated. There are paintings of Chinese punishment methods, Gods, landscape of cities like chennai, Varanasi, London etc. The library is a book lovers paradise. I write about it and all the books there seem to be calling out for me. Living there and reading the books has become part of my to do list now.

From the library we headed over to the temple. The periya kovil as it is fondly called. The size of the temple makes you to stop in your tracks. The number of people there also catches your attention. The funny part is the place is so huge that even despite the hundreds of devotees you find it empty. The sanctum sanctorum was closed when we went and we spent an hour outside observing the temple and trying to make sense of some of the stories. The dues that people owe the temple are carved along the wall of the temple. I saluted Raja Raja Cholan for his perseverance and devotion in building this work of art.

It is told that the shadow of the gopuram never touches the ground. I am not sure as to how correct that is but when we were there we did not see the gopuram's shadow.

The huge Nandi outside is a monolithic and carved so beautifully. I just close my eyes now and the whole temple comes right in front of me and I feel so humbled by the devotion of people a thousand years ago. A must visit place if you love indian architecture and want to learn more about our history.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

DOAWK - The long haul

I loved the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy kid when I read it ages ago. I did like the rest of the books but felt nothing measured up to the first. Or so I thought until I got this book delivered from Amazon yesterday. I finished it in one sitting and kept laughing through most of the reading ( I usually dont laugh out loud when I read so it is a big deal to me. :) )

The plot is straightforward. The Heffley family leave on a surprise road trip, with a boat tied on to the back of their car. They stay in motels where children play with carts in the middle of the night, where a pool is just a hole in the ground and they go to a farm fair and win a pet piglet as a prize. Greg puts up a stoic face and narrates the story so beautifully. You cannot help relating to the family. Be it the father who drops his work to go on the trip or the mother who wants to visit all the places and do things listed in a magazine, or the extremely lazy Rodrick, or the annoying Manny - all of the characters can be connected with. Greg is of course my favorite and the reason I continue reading all the Wimpy kid books.

The book reminds you of some incident from your childhood that you thought you had forgotten. Something that was so irritating at that point but is so funny now. Or something that was so lovely then, that you smile thinking about it even now. It is such a well written and well thought out book. I loved the illustrations and I am going to begin the next year by rereading all books in the Diary of a wimpy kid in one sitting. That, should be fun.

Vacation Diaries

I have officially begun my holiday and the last two days have been hectic but rewarding. I finally managed to change the address in banks I havent visited in ages and I have managed to clean at least part of my wardrobe. Dirty laundry has a life of its own and when left alone even for a few days grows very very big. Thank god for washing machines. :)

I was doing a lot of domestic things but I really am relaxed and happy now. The breathing exercises could be contributing as well. I truly think my living in the moment, only focusing on whats happening and not worrying about what my life is going to look like, is really  helping me relax. I have to figure out a way to plan and still relax and once I figure that out, I am going to be in this state even when I am working and when i have a pretty packed day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The big picture

I have been trying to look at the big picture. Try and not be bogged down by minor set backs and spoil my whole hour or day or week because of one or two things and forget all the other things that i do have and am truly blessed with. It has been a very rewarding experience. I am looking at pictures of vacations taken, pictures of the two jokers or even my house and just thanking God for everything.

With terrorists around the world killing children and burning teachers, with people sleeping in the roads covered with newspapers, i am lucky to not have faced such violence or poverty yet. I am lucky to have a family. I am lucky to be alive with all my organs in tact. I am lucky to love my job and what I do most of every day.

Whether I see it that way or not, in this world and age, I am blessed. I have to accept that bigger picture first and see my blessings. I am always going to be unhappy if i cannot figure out a way to be happy with what I have. I was earlier conflicted if satisfaction would lead to stagnation. But now, I have come up with a new theory which I will stand behind until I can disprove it.

I am thinking that the need to evolve need not come from just dissatisfaction. In fact I think true growth can only come in when there is happiness and satisfaction and the acceptance that one is capable of much more and will achieve the seemingly impossible. Living in the now and planning for a later can also work. Let me see..

Mistakes

Today, I made a mistake at work. Thankfully I found it before it was too late and corrected it. Those few minutes after I found the error, I felt like such a big idiot and I couldn't forgive myself. Though I'd spotted the error myself, and found a way to correct it, the fact that I had done something like this was unacceptable to me. I'm still disturbed about it. After correcting it I realised how stressful it must be to be a doctor or be in the army. Just a tiny imprecision can cost someone their life. I really don't know how they go through with it everyday.

I whisper a silent prayer and hope that I don't become the victim of an error which will be dusted away as a statistical anamoly.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Euphoria

My company has a very nice employee recognition program. You are given points for some of the good work you do by your managers/seniors and you can use those points to get something in an online portal. I was saving up my points for quite sometime as i thought i would go and buy a lot of things from shoppers stop. However, as i was decluttering my house last week(seperate post on it soon), I realised, I did not need any more clothes. So i decided to order gift vouchers from Amazon.

I spent a considerable time adding the unwritten series of books and I ordered it just now. I am so euphoric. I am not going to get them until late next month because these books ship from the US, but I am getting some of them in a couple of days. I am so happy. I am waiting to reread the series and relive the moments with Tommy and his friends. :)

I continue to love my job more everyday!!!

Mainland China - an expensive but satisfactory affair

I seem to be on an eating out spree the last few weeks. On Sunday, I was lucky enough to land in Mainland China in Kundanahalli for a lunch treat. We opted for the buffet.

Service : The first thing that struck me about the place was the courteous service. The waiters and the manager were patient and remembered the one vegetarian in a table of non-vegetarians and only got me the veg stuff. Usually, I am faced with some joker or the other asking me if i want chicken. They also remembered to fill my glass with hot water as i had requested.

Food : Starters were good. I loved the potato and the mixed veg, but i did not like the vegetable wanton too much. It was actually pretty ok. It had a different smell to it. The complimentary lime soda was a little syrupy and did not taste fresh. The main course was decent and I enjoyed the noodles and okra a lot. Unfortunately, the desserts were almost over when I went for them. The coconut wanton has to be savored and I consoled myself for missing a few pastries by making myself a mixed ice cream sundae.

Price : It is expensive if i compare to a place like Chung Wah, but given the quantity we ate, if you are really hungry, you can make up for the price you pay.

Ambience : The chinese soldiers stationed at the entry stole my heart yet again. There was some unobtrusive music in the background and it was pleasant when there was a lull in the conversation.

Relativity

When I was in school, I remember a lesson on Albert Einstein.He explains relativity as something like this - "When you spend an hour with a pretty girl, it seems like a minute but if you keep your hand on a hot stove for even a minute it seems like eternity"

Now, if Einstein could come for a drive in the car with me, he is going to rephrase his theory. Something that even a 4 year old will understand - "When you are going at 100kmph in a empty highway, you feel like you are driving slowly but even if you go at 20kmph in a crowded road, it feels like you are speeding"

Being stuck for hours in bumper to bumper traffic in Old Madras Road has made me all the more philosophical. To top it, my inability to murder all the jokers in two wheelers, has brought out the zen in me.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The joy of giving

This, if all the tv serials I watch in Star World are to be believed, is the season of joy and giving. I looked forward to December as a kid as I had Half Yearly vacation and as i grew up, we used to go to these new year parties and stay up all night. That, is another story for another day.

I have recently found out this joy of giving. Again, many thanks to my awesome twosome. Seeing them everyday, makes me empathize much more with the plight of other animals especially dogs, especially stray puppies who do  not have a house despite deserving one. I have started sponsoring a couple of dogs in an NGO.

This NGO called Precious Paws takes care of puppies and dogs which have been abandoned or which would have had to live in the streets otherwise. Remember our adventures with the 5 puppies? We had dropped them off in Precious Paws and if the recent pictures are to be believed, they are doing well.

I am hoping I dont forget to renew the transfer like how i did the last time around when I sponsored a very pretty indian dog for 6 months. Do your bit and make this world a better place - right? It takes just a little from everyone after all.

My first love

So, it is vacation time for me. I have taken a really long time off from work as I have been wanting to for a long time. 19 days is a very long time. Of those, I will be spending 9.5-10 travelling and the rest at home. As i was thinking about it today evening, I was so excited and I decided to get back in touch with my first true love.

I browsed through Amazon and loaded up my cart with a lot of graphic novels and other books on discount. I still havent bought it yet as i am waiting for a gift voucher. I love reading and I am going to go to Bookworm in M.G. road under the pretext of accidentally visiting it while going to the bank and buy loads of books and come back. I really havent read a lot over the past few weeks and it is high time I make up for it. I hope i finish all the books in the Visionaries and Bravehearts set. Since I am not tracking it in good reads, the 70 odd books I read already does not count. :)

I am so looking forward to the peace and quiet. Maybe, I will finish the romcom I am writing with my dear husband.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What you wear

When I was a kid, I used to like dressing up once in a while. But as I grew up, I lost interest. I was never a sucker for fashion and I just let dressing up go. However, recently, I have started loving wearing sarees. Now dont imagine me wearing one everyday or even once a week. After wearing them once a year, I am now ok wearing them once a month or even shorter intervals if there are weddings to attend. When I wore a saree to office today, I realised how strange it is for people in India to actually see someone come to an office in a saree. Isnt that funny?

When I was in school, seeing my french teacher come to school in a chudidhar was revolutionary. Now, I see teachers who go to a nearby school in kurtas and on some occasions even jeans and t shirts. I see how much the clothing has evolved in metros. I wonder if it is going to be this way in Chennai or if that city has managed to retain its connection to south indias favorite garment.

I am not the most traditional person around, but I really feel that once in a while, wearing a saree to work shouldnt be a big deal. I realise that a saree flatters one much better than a skirt or a jean. It is meant to flatter our curves and in the AC that all offices have, it is not uncomfortable at all.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Feeling safe

We went to Kerala again for the weekend. Last time, when we got back, we travelled in the sleeper coach and I had a tough time sleeping. In trains, I seldom feel secure and I am so scared of falling asleep. I guess, news of all incidents of rape also contribute to the fear over and above my fear of losing my luggage. This time, we had booked in 3rd AC and the ticket was confirmed. I was so happy with my luck at first and then worried as i was in the upper berth and I wondered how i would keep an eye on my luggage which had my favorite silk saree. To top it, my husband is in a different compartment.

I enter the the coach and a very friendly TT tells me we should be able to move my husband to this compartment. A nice co-passenger agrees to shift and a family of three get into the compartment. I was so relieved to see the husband, wife and their daughter. I did not even say hi or speak to them, but traveling in the train with them, i felt safe. I read for a couple of hours and slept like a baby. Feeling safe, they say is in the mind, but i wonder if a time will ever come when i can close my eyes in a public transport without thinking twice.

Monday, December 08, 2014

As good as it gets

After a period of dissatisfaction I have realised that the best way to go ahead in life is to assume that this is as good as it gets and look at the nicer side of every single thing, every single day.  Considering how blessed a person with electricity and the ability to blog is in a country where a tube light is still an object of wonder in a lot of places, I am sure I will get enough to be thankful for.

Then, I can still keep watching and looking for things which can help my life become better. I am not going to stop trying to be better or lead a healthier, happier life. But I am going to stop looking at whats wrong. If there is some truth to the observation that it takes 3 goods to neutralise a bad, then I am in deep trouble as I see more bad on some days than good. The negative energy will kill me. So, I am going to go for the positive. I have been trying and it has worked well for the last few days. I can safely say, that if this is as good as it gets, then it is pretty awesome.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Small pleasures

After lunch today, I went to a shop nearby with my friend. They sell these imli candies for Rs.1 each. I love those and yet again, i got a few and sucked on them as I came back to the office.

I felt so happy and I was reminded of a lot of eatables that have given me joy while growing up. I remember the yummy's my sister used to get it from a shop nearby, the thinly sliced mangoes with chilli and salt, the hot corn cobs boiled with very little lime smeared, boiled groundnuts whose shells i removed and then ate peacefully. All these are just a tip of the iceberg and I am already feeling hungry again. (For some groundnuts actually)

These are actually really small things I used to look forward to at some point of time or the other. I am thankful for these small pleasures and am so glad they make my life better one small bite at a time.

Alive and thankful

After a few days of being sick, I finally feel so much better today. I am so thankful to be alive and I really think I am going to spend more time appreciating my faculties. My throat is so important in talking, eating, etc. etc. and I havent even realised it as much as i did those four days when i couldnt speak. Thank God for recovery.