Friday, June 21, 2013

My chat mates on "Wechat" - the new way to connect

Much before satellite TV ,internet and other tech gadgets took priority and people had 9-5 jobs, many working men/women  after their official work would come out of their homes to converse with their neighbours /friends or relatives.

These personal  meetings/conversations are called by many names in many languages like ‘Katte matthu’(kannada), arrattai  ( tamil),  gappe(hindi) ,  ‘othla committee’’, gossip or euphemistically I call it ‘ Group Discussion’ or   ‘Hang out’.
 The conversations in  all the above meetings would  involve politics, movies, music, cuisine,craft, latest trends, developments, job and alliances for their children, schooling etc.,  and most important was they would  share their personal problems,  happiness, worries , sympathise and empathise with the other’s feelings without being judgmental.  Just listening and talking their problems was so cathartic and de-stressing.
These talks created an emotional connect among people.   At times of crisis, they also become a support system like an extended family.  These personal meetings are lacking in today’s world. Perhaps, the lack of communication has given raise to many counseling centres like family counseling, marriage counseling, student counseling, geriatric counseling etc..
In Urban India, where deadlines  and working in different time zones dictate our lives we have no time for our own selves let alone chat in person with our neighbours/friends or relatives. We have a closed door policy, where we have to call our neighbours/ relatives before we drop into their homes and ensure they are not disturbed.
But many of us find it convenient to  connect  virtually on twitter, skype, FB, facetime etc., The most latest form of connecting with people is the Wechat app. Apart from relatives and friends with whom I am already connected, there are a few more people whom I would like to chat with and so would add them on my WEchat
They are :
Thomas Alva Edison: The man who lighted our homes and invented telegraph, phonograph, electric light bulb, storage batteries, kinetograph( a camera for motion pictures and also the man  who founded the Edison illuminating company – the first investor owned electric utility company which now is famously known as General Electric.(GE)
Chat time with Thomas Alva Edison:
Me: Hello Mr. Edison
Mr. Edison: Hello
Me: Thank you sir for coming up with so many useful inventions to mankind. At any point of time did you feel like giving up when you faced challenges?
Mr. Edison: It was a pleasure and i enjoyed  experimenting. I am also glad that i did not create any destructive inventions.
ME: You are also lucky to have had a mom who believed and encouraged your talent.
Mr. Edison: Yes, without her guidance and encouragement, it would not have been possible to come up with so many inventions.
ME: True sir. Would appreciate if you find a solution for the global warming too. Thanks for your time. Hope to stay connected.
Mr. Edison: will work on it. Thanks 

Marco polo: - the Italian who was famous for his travels through Asia. He was one of the first European to travel into Mongolia and china. His travel stories have captured readers through centuries. He is supposed to be a master story teller.At his deathbed he left the famous epitaph for the world  "I have not told  half of what I saw!". So will ask him to tell the rest of the story during my chat session.

So during my chat time with him, will listen to his travel stories and experiences. 

ME: Good Morning Sir, Can you share some of your travel experiences?

Mr. Polo: Buon Giorno!oh yeah, much before mankind had transport or communication facilities, i the son of a rich merchant decided to explore the world.  I traversed thousands of miles on horseback mostly through dry deserts, over steep mountain passes exposed to extreme weather.

ME: OMG! on horseback across countries and continents!!

Mr. Polo: yes, i was exposed to wild animals and uncivilized tribesman too. 

ME: Can you narrate the remaining half of your unsaid adventures.

MR. Polo: I have got to attend to my business. Will narrate during my next chat time with you. Ciao.

ME: Thanks you, Mr. Polo, will await my next chat session with you on wechat.

The Chola king Karikala cholan: This foresighted First century king  channelized the River Cauvery and built the Grand Anicut. This structure is  a standing testimony of the first century engineering skill which is still functional today in the 21st century and one of the oldest water regulators of the world. He is supposed to have extended his kingdom till the ganges in the north( Magdha and Avanti ) and till Srilanka in the south. Poompuhar in ancient times was the port capital of the cholas. It was a great city and people of his times enjoyed life during his administration. He is supposed to have had trade contacts with Rome and China.  Though there are evidences of this port city being submerged some 5000 years ago and he is mentioned in some ancient tamil literature. There are no authentic records about him.

During my chat time, will ask him about his achievements and contributions.
Me: Vanakkam Manna:) ( in tamil means greetings Dear King)
KIng K. Chola: Vanakkam:) 
ME: First of all congratulate you for your foresightedness. If not for you, the whole of southern India would have been a barren land. Thanks for one of the oldest functioning water regulator - The grand Anicut.
King: it is my duty and pleasure to serve my people.
Me: Much of your contributions and achievements are not recorded. Can you tell about them.
King: A British archaelogist Graham Hancock has found the remains of my 5000 year old submerged kingdom Poompuhar. It is for you people to research and find out. I don't speak about my achievements and contributions. We the people of ancient India do our work and let our work speak. In any case, read some of the old Tamil literature of Sangam era. Some of my work are spoken about.
ME:  Nanri manna.(thank you)
K.J. Yesudas: a famous playback and classical singer hearted by many. He  is blessed with a velvety voice which  stirs many a souls.  He has recorded more than 40,000 songs which includes many Indian languages  along with Russian, latin and Arabian language.
 During my chat time with him, will ask him to render a few songs.

Me: Namaskram Das etta( that is how his fans address him das etta)

KJY: Namaskaram

ME: Das etta, I am a huge fan of yours. I love listening to you in any language and I appreciate your devotion and respect towards other religions despite being a born christian.

KJY: Thank you, I am influenced by Narayana Guru's message " one religion and one god for all of mankind". I

Me: love all your songs especially Kahan se aaya badra, ka karoon sajni, Gori tera goan bada pyara, Vaigai karai katre nillu. Can you sing one of these for me?

KJY: Sure and sings kahan se aaya Badra...

Me: Etta, can you sing harivarasanam, please.....

KJY: harivarasanam is a lullaby song sung for Swamy Ayappa. I am honored that the Devaswom (temple board) has made it an official lullaby song during its closing hours. This is exclusively heard in the evening. So i suggest you listen it on recorded tapes in the night. 

ME: Thank you,  Etta.

Rajnikant: Yes, the man whom you and I have seen tossing up cigars in the air, twirling  glares and attracting his fans with his punch one liners. The dark man with no conventional good looks, no filmi back ground or no great acting skills. He uses the same old dancing steps movie after movie but keeps the box office registers ringing.

While many actors work hard on their acting, diction, makeup and do research for their films and gain critical acclaim, he simply pops the cigars and walks away stylishly  sending his fans into a  tizzy. His punch one liners appeals to the masses and are pregnant with meaning. Infact his punch one liners like ‘En vazhi thani vazhi’ ( my way is a unique way) and many other punch lines used in his movies have entered  into a  book called “Value statements on business and life management” The book analyses the 'value statement' and says ‘ one has to be different to succeed. Don’t choose a ‘me too’ line of business or a ‘me too’ way of running a business. And then comes the example: “ recent history talks of many failures on account of this very herd culture. The failure of many dotcom companies is a typical example"

None can match the mass appeal he enjoys. 
Such is the charisma of this man who attracts his fans who are across all ages from a tiny tot to an old man/woman.

He is ‘the Rajinikanth’.

Chat time:
ME: Thalaiva vanakkam( that is how is fans address him as thalaivar meaning leader)

The Rajnikanth: Vanakkam hahaha....( his trademark smile)

ME: Sir, i have traveled by the bus in which you were a conductor once upon a time route no 10( it is now 12?)( from Srinagar to majestic).

The R: hahaha.... oh, how can i forgot those days and that area of Bangalore.

ME: From a bus conductor to a superstar,  What do you think is the reason for your popularity?

The R: My simplicity hahaha..... and people also say it is my humility.......Ok, will catch you next time when I am free..... varatta...( his characteristic style of taking leave)

ME: Thank you, Rajni Sir.

That was my imaginary chat time on WEchat...the new way to connect.
I would like to add manymore chat mates like Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, MS Subbalakshmi, napolean Bonaparte, Chanakya, APJ, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Lionel messi, Viv Richards, Gundapppa Vishwanath and many many more. 

P.S: This post was drafted for Indibloggers's Wechat contest, But i missed noticing  the deadline, so it is not a part of the  entry . Nevertheless,  decided to publish as a weekly post.

Friday, June 14, 2013

"BE BOLD, STAY REAL" - to reach your dreams and goals

All parents instill good values in their children. Along with good values,  they teach some life skills too.  Like many parents, my parents too have instilled good values  and skills in us.  Like for instance, anytime we face a tough situation, my parents have said in my mother tongue” Idhuvum kadandu pogum” which translates to ’’this too shall pass” meaning that the tough situation too shall pass.  Similarly, whenever I have feared something,  my parents would say  “You have to fear only when you have done something wrong, else stay fearless  and be genuine”. When I lose any contest, they would encourage me with " failure is the stepping stone" and so on.

These and many such values and skills   like “Be bold, be real”  and others are ingrained into me . They  come handy for me in life whenever I face tough situations.

I recall here an incident especially this has been refreshed in my memory eversince I saw the movie “ 3 idiots”.

The year 1991,  I had cleared one of the central government competitive examination.  It was time for the personal interview.  The venue was Cauvery Bhavan, 4th floor in Bangalore’s KG road.  There were a few more candidates with me in the waiting room who had cleared the examination and each one of us were called by turns.

 I was in the midst of Jeffrey Archer’s “Shall we tell the President?” when my name was called for the interview. The loud second call walked  me towards the interview cabin. 

Whenever I  have faced an important interview , unlike many I am not nervous or don’t bite my nails. My parents mantra “ If god be with you, who can be against you” comes to my aid.

With those words ringing in my ears, I entered the cabin . Inside were seated not one, two or three but 5 senior officers of Intelligence Bureau.

 I  faced the many questions that were posed to me ranging from my hometown, politics,  educational background, my field of specialization etc.,  all with a genuine smile on my face. I replied to some and for some I boldly told them with a broad smile that I did not know the answer. But one question on politics which I gave a genuine answer was cross examined by all the five one after the other.  And I replied boldly  without giving up my stand and genuinely  cited the reasons.   After the interview I walked out of the room with a  smile and confidence. The confidence that I would not get the job for being adamant on my stand.I was sure they would have read my strong belief as audacity or arrogance.

But guess what?

Two weeks later,  I got a  call letter asking me to join the training camp at Shivpuri  in Madhyapradesh as “ Trainee Assistant Central Intelligence officer”. I was surprised but proud i made into a prestigious Indian government organization.

It is an other story that I did not accept the offer since I was not keen on a Government job. My passion those days was electronics. But the reason,  I believe why I got the job was because I followed my parents mantra “Be Bold, stay real”.

I am also glad like many parents they did not push me to accept the offer and respected my passion.  I have passed on these baton of values to my children. Hope they and I follow them till our end.

The incident where Sharman joshi faces the interview board in the climax of ‘3 idiots” refreshed this incident and many such incidents makes me strongly believe that values like “ Be bold, stay real”  in any arena like politics, arts,  science, society, health or in real life will help you reach your dreams and goals.  

I am writing on Be Bold Stay real at Blogadda

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My gourmet party - traditional Thanjavur style with ITC's Kitchens of India

Thanks to globalization, today if we  want to taste the flavours of the world we need not travel around the world. Be it Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese , Lebanese or American, most of us  can have them in a restaurant near our home or in the city we live.  So our senses are used to the pasta, lasagna, enchiladas, pad thai,  waffles,bagels, pancakes and all.

What we don’t get to taste are the true flavours of India. By true flavours I don’t mean just the  parathas , rotis,  rajma, dal vaati,  chaval of the north or the idli sambar, dosa of the south.  The true flavors implies  the authentic sub-cuisines like the Awadhi, Amritsari, Lahori,Malwa,  Kathiawadi, Marathwada, Vidharbh, Nagainallur, Thanjavur, Udipi,Malanad, Palakkad, Rayalaseema, Andhra etc., Though star hotels often hold fests of these sub-cuisines , they are definitely  prepared and plated commercially. 

Even  a slightest variation in the terrain of our country leads to a different experience in culture, customs, dialect and cuisine.  The diverse seasons that we are blessed with results in a variety of crops, vegetables and spices.   Added to this the trade relationships and the colonial influence   which has helped Indian cuisine absorb and evolve the various cuisines.  Each region makes use of the colonial influence, climate, spices,legumes, vegetables and fruits grown in that part of that region making the traditional Indian meal a balanced  and healthy meal. 

Normally, if we were to eat the authentic sub-cuisines of our diverse country, we have to travel to the interiors of the country and taste them in traditional Indian homes where cooking is still considered a ritual. In such homes, fresh raw materials are sourced , spices are freshly ground  in sil batta ( mortar and pestel) and cooked on slow fires in traditional metal  and stone vessels which endow essence, aroma and nutrients to the dish. These dishes which are hygienically prepared with positive thoughts  make the food healthy and full of energy. There are many such sub-cuisines in our country like i mentioned above. Two of which i know pretty well is the Udipi cuisine of Dakshina Karnataka  and the Tambrahm Thanjavur cuisine of Southern Tamilnadu.

So, if I were to host a Gourmet party, I would choose the familiar "Tambrahm Thanjavur cuisine" of Tamilnadu . The uniqueness of this sub-cuisine is it is purely vegetarian and does not accommodate spices like bayleaves, star anise, cinnamon, onions and garlic. The base ingredients are tamarind, lentils, yogurt, coconut, redchillies, corianderseeds, pepper, cumin, turmeric and asafoetida. To garnish they use fenugreek, mustard seeds, curry leaf and coriander leaves. The medium of cooking is sesame/coconut oil. Permutations and Combinations of these spices along with  native vegetables and lentils give rise to a variety of curries,thick gravies called sambar, kootu and watery soups called rasam.. This is the cuisine I will  showcase to my 10 potluck friends who hail from all corners of India like parwanoo(HP), Ambala, Kolkatta, Vishakapatnam, Patna, Assam, Nainital, Amritsar, Cuttack and Indore. They would be my guests.

Ambience: I would decorate my home traditionally with festoons of mango leaves and coconut glades and traditional kolam (rangoli) made of ground rice flour in the frontyard. It is a tradition to sprinkle  fragrant rose water called Panneer ( panneer  with a double ‘nn’in tamil is rose water) on the guests. I would usher them in  with kumkum , chandan  and mishri into a traditionally decorated home which is valenced with fragrant jasmines.  To make the place more fragrant, I will light a few incense sticks  and float  a few fragrant frangipanis in urulis. I would strategically place the artefacts of Thanjavur like the bronze idol of dancing shiva, the thanjavur mirror plates, the tall kutthivilakku’s( traditional lamps)  to make the ambience  artistic and regional. There would only be korai pais( river grass mats) and small wooden  planks   ( called manais) to seat my guests. No elaborate or fancy chaise lounges , dining tables, swaroski artefacts or bar stools.

  Those are the  festoons made from coconut leaves hung around traditional tamil homes on auspicious ocassions photo taken at Dakshinachitra.

Entertainment; Since the theme is traditional , I will play the traditional Nadaswaram music( a wind instrument like the shehnai) on my music system which will gradually give way to some lilting carnatic melodies.  Since, I don’t expect my multi ethnic Indian guests to enjoy  heavy traditional carnatic music, I will avoid  such music. This genre of heavy traditional music  can only be enjoyed by people who have knowledge of the traditional music.

The menu of a  Thanjavur TamBrahm cuisine is elaborate. Food is eaten from banana leaves or in silver plates. Food eaten  from such leaves are supposed to reduce the body heat  and the trace element of silver when eaten from silver plates is supposed to be good for a healthy life. Silver plates are not practical for me so food will be served on banana leaves.

TamBrahm Food is also served in a  pattern where dessert is served first followed by main course and then with Vetrillai pakku( Paan). Food is served on banana leaf in a sequential pattern starting with sweet on the right hand lower corner.Just above on the right upper corner would be raita followed by the various  vegetable curries and gravies on the upper fold of the leaves.  First  sambar rice is eaten, followed by rasam rice and the  curd rice. In between the rasam rice and the curd rice , a larger helping of the kheer is served. The finale in a tambrahm cuisine is the curd rice.

 The menu for my gourmet traditional party with help from ITC’ kitchens of India would be:

                                               Menu of my gourmet theme party
  1. Paruppu payasam( Kheer made from jaggery,channa dal and slivers of coconut)
  2. Asoka halwa- the traditional sweet of thanjavur region made with moongdal
  3.  Vendakkai Pacchidi (raita made with fried lady’s finger in curd)
  4. Maanga pacchidi (mango sweet sour raita)
  5. Potata curry ( a dry curry made with boiled potatoes and tambrahm spices)
  6. French Beans  paruppu usili ( a  bean curry( dry) made with ground steamed dal )
  7. Avial ( a medley of  native vegetables in coconut gravy )
  8. Appalam – fried  urad papads
  9. aamavadai - deep fried vadas made from coarsely ground channadal and green chillies
  10. Plain rice( of the special ponni variety grown exclusively in this region)
  11. Kalathha paruppu ( dal which has no tadka but just haldi and salt)
  12.  Araichivitta sambar( a sambar in which spices are ground freshly along with coconut)
  13. A tangy tomato rasam( a thin tangy dal soup made with tomato and spices like jeera and pepper)
  14. Freshly fermented curd
  15. Vattral kozhumbu ( a tangy sauce made with tamarind and sun-dried vegetables)
  16. Narthelai podi ( a traditional accompaniment for the curd rice like pickle made from the tender leaves of citron)
  17. Mango thokku( a spicy mango pickle made with shredded mango)

The tender leaves of this citron(narthangai) plant are used to make an accompaniment for curd rice called narthelai podi(also called vepillai katti). This is unique to the Thanjavur region. 

photo courtesy: google

Food in a traditional style is served in the above order. The places for the menu are fixed in the plaintain leaf  like mentioned above.

After the full course meals, I will serve my guests with the traditional kumbakonam vettrilai( paan leaves) which the region is famous for.

It would be difficult for me to prepare the dishes single handedly, so  some of the similar dishes will be substituted  with  ITC’s the “Kitchens of India” shelf and for preparing the gravies and chutney i will use the ITC's ready made preserves and chutneys.

Location:  I would have preferred a traditional home with typical tambrahm architecture which would have plenty of cross ventilation and natural bright light with the various courtyards like nadu mittam(central) and pin mittim(backyard). The frontyard would have a cemented platform called thinnai which would be used to rest the guests but it would be impractical to ferry my guests to one such place, so It would be my own home dressed traditional tambrahm style

this is how a central courtyard (nadu mittam) of a traditional home looks like  photo taken at Dakshinachitra 

The stone platforms in front of the homes are called 'Thinnai' used for resting the visitors. I would have preferred a traditional home like this as a location for my guests.Photo at Dakshinachitra

This post is exclusively written for Indiblogger's contest sponsored by ITC's kitchens of India. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

All good things come to an end.....

.........................and so did my summer break of 2013.

Thoroughly recharged myself at my parents place.

These are some of the things i did:

1)  Firstly i got de-addicted from internet. I was totally addicted to social networks in the past few months that i decided come whatmay will never get connected except  check my mails and occasionally on FB. My parents place does not have a system and so it was easy for me to get de-addicted.

2) The leisure hours  which i had in plenty helped me revive my childhood crafts crochet and knitting. Learnt it again from my mom to hook and knit the colors.  my mom who had knitted sweaters, crochetted bags, capes, mufflers etc., had forgotten. My interest helped her jog her memory and the bug bit my daughter  too who is now hooking the colors of the rainbow to make beautiful crochete flowers.

3) had planned two trips one to yelagiri and another to kabini with my extended family of uncles, aunts and cousins but since my mom's hip injury took time to heal could not travel long distance.

4)  Had talkathon sessions with my paternal family of cousin, sis, uncles, aunts and parents, after 1.30a.m when everybody went to sleep i and my cousin continued our talks without even glancing at the clock. Only the milkman's bell at 5.30 made us realize that we had not slept the whole night and we continued the talkathon till 6.30. She and I broke our mom's record. Both our mom's would speak till 4.30 a.m some 30 years ago:)

5) relished the dishes made by myMom, dad, uncle,aunt, sis and my children too. The dishes were so good and tasty that my niece, children and another uncle suggested that they should open a hotel which would be a runaway hit. so next time i won't  be surprised if my dad, uncle and aunt open a restaurant in Jayanagar;)

6) socialized a lot by visiting family and friends at their homes.

7) had a gala time at Rangoli metro art center. I was one of those old bangloreans who protested when the MG road promenade was pulled down to facilitate metro piers. The beautiful promenade has been rebuilt and renamed as" Hoovina Haadi"(flowered pathway) and the area below the promenade is recreated as Rangoli - metro urban art center.( this deserves a special post)

8) felt like a kid when i traveled in the metro for the first time,  from MG road to Byappanhalli and back. had an aerial view of bangalore from the window and during this trip discovered Bangalore is still the green city i have ever seen.

9) shopped till i dropped at my favorite hangout of Bangalore -  commercial street. was glad to find my tailors shamrao and sons , Fazals , Bombay hat works and other shops still intact.

10) Had Bangalore benne masala dosa - For me nothing can beat the taste of Bangalore Masala dosa.

11) had 'Katte maathu' daily  with my parents neighbours in the evening. Katte maathu is actually face time chats meaning real time face to face chat.

12) One of the most constructive things i did was teach Karthika, my parents young neighbour, english. I have already written about her here. Her neighbours which include my parents have convinced her husband and now she is all set to give her 10th standard examination in October.

13) And last but not the least enjoyed 31- 34 deg - the  best summer weather. Ofcourse, Many bangaloreans crib and cry "shakkey"(sultry) and "Bisilu"(hot) . Still it is the best summer weather relatively comparing it with major metros and cities of India.

Simple things right?  but these little joys are what brought life and beans to my holiday making it another memorable vacation.

All these at Hosur( an exclusive post on this place here)- an industrial town 40 kms from Bangalore where my parents shifted a couple of years back.which is the largest exporter  of roses to places like Amsterdam, infact it is the largest supplier of valentine roses to the world. Another unique observation of this place is most men and women, irrespective of the cadre, go to work in uniforms and return back home by 5 in the evening. It is nice to see them relax in the gardens where most house are independant homes.

Overall had a gala time and now totally recharged till i face another short break and travel this month end:)