Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Enjoy the count down......

 The countdown has begun..... a few more hours to clock 12 and the year 2013 will end. Nevertheless it gives rise to a new beginning, giving us time and chance to build bridge to our destinies. May the year truly be the emergence of a whole new peaceful and compassionate human world and a time of beautiful times. 

If you are a theist, May god be with you and bless you during all times. If an atheist, well, .........seek help and guidance from a greater force than you.  Stay blessed whatever your faith. 

As for me, entering the new year with lot of faith, hope, cheer , good will and many resolutions.....Ah, well. Resolutions.!!!! Hmmmm....:)

Here's wishing you all a happy, hopeful, cheerful and healthy new year.....enjoy the count down.......


Monday, December 23, 2013

Some precious memories with friends

Many a times, my family and friends have caught me smiling when I am alone. Even during my solitary walks or while traveling, I smile to myself and suddenly turn around to see if anybody has noticed me. Those are times when I reminiscence about some funny past. And an important part of my past are my friends S and A with whom I have made some beautiful memories.

S was my playmate and closest buddy who lived next door and studied in a different school. As best friends we would’nt let a third friend intrude between us, except during group games. We played lot of games and made lot of memories. One of my cutest memory with her is while playing the pretend game of house. (ghar ghar)

Her school mates would join us along with a few road friends and we would assign ourselves different roles of a family and play. We would get dal, rice, and other kitchen items in small play sets and would imitate the way our parents behaved. We would get creative with the natural things available around us. We would make a small chulha with 3 small stones as base put some twigs and dry leaves in between and burn them. We then would put rice and water and put it to boil. When we needed oil for cooking we would use the berries of the red vine spinach( basale soppu) growing in the garden. We would crush the berries till it yielded a slimy liquid and use this thick liquid as oil . We would pound the hibiscus petals with water and pour the resulting gel in the egg moulds and use it as yolk while baking fake cakes with mud. We had substitutes for coconuts, a weed which had berries similar to coconuts. Sometimes the gooseberries which fell from the tree duplicated as vegetables and so many more substitutes like that replicated our toy house. S's sister and my sister were 6 years younger to us and of the same age. We actually didn't want them to join us as they were too young  but our parents would insist we involve them too. Not knowing what to do with the 5 year olds, we would say "You both are men" and give them a newspaper to read and keep them away.

We knew no Fischer price toy house or Barbie doll house then. We used our mom’s saree or bedsheets to make a tent. Sometimes, we would put up a tile house. There were lot of mosaic tiles around our house. We would build a home with those mosaic tiles like the way you build with a pack of playing cards. We would place narrow flat stones or tile pieces as sofas. But the best part of our house was the doggie which we had in our play home. Guess what played the role of a doggie?

 It was a big dead cockroach( I hear you guys saying “eeks”) It was S’s friend Haseen’s idea. She would tie a dead cockroach to a thread and tie it a plant near by and called it 'Ruby'. Now whenever, I see a big dead cockroach on the road or in the car parking area, (my house is pest free), it reminds me of 'Ruby' and  a smile plays on my face.

Another friend with whom I share beautiful memories is my namesake  and college mate. She is my teen friend and so the memories with her are different.

We both have learnt carnatic music and like pop music. During our free hours in college, we would practice Cyndi lauper, Stevie Wonder, Wham, BoneyM, Madonna etc.,on our college staircase along with playing hangman. She and I have bunked classes( our parents knew) and would practice at her home which was close to the college. We had sung George Michael's 'Careless whispers' for our college day program held at town hall, along with 3 other friends( they too knew carnatic music and were good at Ghazals also) and it was a hit . We were overjoyed with the response and decided we must sing songs on Sportsday which was to be a week later. We had decided to sing  "Hooray hooray it's a Holi… holiday". We decided to maintain the tune  but we reworded the lyrics and made it as "Hooray hooray it's our Sportsday today"  and also many other lines were changed, we included the chief guest's name as part of the lyrics. We were so busy composing the lines that we were left with no time to practice. But we were confident that we were good singers and so we thought we would pull it off.

We went on to the stage confidently and held the mike. As we started singing, none of our pitch synced.  The base shruti(sur) was different for each one of us (we generally practiced with ‘sa pa sa’ to get the shruti right) it was a total fiasco at the start.   We were rubbing our palms, seeing one another and finally got off the stage giving a below average performance. All this in front of our chiefguest Cricketer SMH Kirmani. This was one of the most awkard moments of our life then for us. Thankfully, we were five of us. Many a times, when I listen to that song, I am reminded of that incident and immediately can’t stop smiling and my palm covers my face. This was also a learning experience for us " not to be overconfident and one has to practice however talented"

These are just two of my  memories  with them,  that i often re- run when i am alone.There are so many more that i can write reams and reams  about my memorable past with these girls.

With S, my friendship is so famous in our neighborhood and family circles that whenever one of our name is mentioned the other name follows.

With A, an year after college, I lost contact with her after she migrated to the US. And immediately an year later I received a beautiful picture post card from Italy where she was on a holiday mentioning her postal address. ( We did not have a mail id then)

And from then on there is no looking back with this friend so much so that even our husbands are friends now. So who says, men and women don’t sustain old friendships after marriage. Atleast, it does not apply for people like us.

Also, some say:
“A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often - just to save it from drying out completely.”

Well, I can’t relate to the above saying too. Atleast not with genuine friendships. My friendship with these two girls built in the primary years of my life are so strong that a customary call,  sms or meaningless whatsapp is not required to keep in touch with them. They are built on a strong foundation of beautiful memories that even if we don’t communicate for an year, we pick it up as though we met just yesterday. Two days back was S's  birthday (dec 21st)  and when i spoke to her after many months, I could feel the same vibes as 3 decades back. There are no put ons of best behaviour or artificiality after all we have been through some of the awkward moments and learnt some life lessons  together, no formailities here also since we are familiar with each other's quirks and idiosyncrasies. Some friendships , I believe are cosmic. I am blessed to have two such friends one from my childhood and another from college.

We have not just grown together playing games, silly quarrels, watching movies, eating together, going for live shows,singing on stage shows, bunking classes, manipulating our meter reading in electronics lab but even the talks we have had must have strengthened the bonds too.  We have talked, talked and talked on many days endlessly all through the night. They were  about our dreams, desires,dresses, problems, discussing our favorite actors, movies, music, TV serials , crushes, leg pulling fun sessions etc.,  You just have to name it and we have done/ talked about it.

Hey! But wait……don’t name" makeup". We hav’nt done that. Atleast not with the above girls.Funnily, as girls till date, we have never discussed make up. Not even during teen years.

But , I have had my make up session too.

 It was with this girl who was in grade 6 and I was in Grade 7 then. She was an Indian born and raised in Texas, my neighbors niece. During her month long stay in india, she joined us to play. Since she stayed close to my home, It was I and her who played often. As an Indian raised in the US and a Bharatnatyam dancer, sarees and colorful make up fascinated her. She would draw out the make up box and all the sarees from her cousins wardrobe and would often doll her up and I enjoyed being her make up woman. She also loved my mom’s silk sarees and so my mom’s beautifully maintained sarees were also the casualty.

 It was also my first introduction to the makeup box, a red vanitycase. It contained the eyeliners, the eyeshadows, mascara, lipsticks, nail polish ,foundation,blushes etc.,. I loved the colors, the textures and the shimmers and often experimented with them on her face. A purple saree on her and a purple eyeshadow, a Red saree followed with a pink eyeshadow. The worst part was when the greens, hotpinks and purples had to be cleaned off. It once stained a green chiffon saree of her cousin. Anyways, it was not me who faced the wrath.  This was a friendship just to give her company for a month, nothing at an emotional level. More like a a seasonal friendship. If she had continued her stay in India, perhaps I would have ended up being a make up woman:)

Today, as I stand in my balcony and watch all those little ones playing, I can’t stop smiling as well as nodding my head that childhood memories are  definitely the best part of our lives. 

  Do you have such friends?  Have you  made such beautiful memories?

This post written for Indiblogger's Dove guessing game with a friend.

Pic courtesy: google images

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My window to the world - My Tab

  I am not a gadget freak and so frequently don't  upgrade electronic and up end technological devices.I hate the complications like the wires, the connectors, the battery chargers and all those mini luggage like leather folios and cases that come with electronic gadgets. Moreover, I consider them a dead investment and by frequently upgrading, i am a contributor to e-waste.That said, i don't deprive myself of technology. Everytime, I have to upgrade or buy an electronic gadget or device, i give a lot of thought and do comparison study.

I like anything that is portable, sleek, wireless and gives maximum utility value. Tablets I found is one of those functional sleek device . It is portable and I find it to be a mini version of a laptop and a maxi version of a smartphone. So, after a lot of thought and comparison study of various brands some 2 years ago, i decided to buy a tab. I zeroed in on a tab which was pretty economical and offered good value for my money and ordered it from an online store.

3 days later it was delivered at my doorstep. I opened the box and found the tab encased in a leather folio . I removed the tab from the case and the tab’s look for a moment reminded me of 'the slate'. The black thin slate which most children of my generation wrote on in pre-primary years. The stylus reminded me of slate stick (balpam):) Ofcourse, the similarity ended there, this tab was functionally and aesthetically different.

pic courtesy of slate: google

my window to the world - my  tab

From then on, the tab powered by android 4.0.4(icecream sandwich) became my companion on the move. It is my workpad and leisure pad. I do my official work, check my mails, skype, FB, twitter, read blogs, listen to music, connect on several of my family and friend groups like geni, yahoo etc.,. It has many uses like a dictionary, calculator , camera,paint, games etc., 

It moves with me to the kitchen when i am trying a new recipe, it moves to my study for work, to my balcony when i am skyping etc., Not just me, after return from school, my teens who are in class 12 and class 9 now, use it extensively to download pdfs, educational apps etc. Infact it, acts like a mobile online tutor for them since they don’t take private tuitions and most of their doubts are clarified by one of their most helpful and favourite free educational site. This mobile and portable device is used extensively in my home and often keeps changing hands and moves from room to room.
Other than the educational use, it has entertaining use too. Since the screen is bigger than a smart phone, one can watch movies, news and youtube videos on the go. The e-books keeps the reader in me happy. Many playstore apps(.apk) can be downloaded. You can download IRCTC app, book air, bus and rail tickets, movie tickets, mark weekend events, shop online,SOS apps etc.,

It also acts as a notepad and you can jot down your to do lists and shopping lists and there is no chance of losing/ fishing that list  out of your bag unlike the paper jotted one. Although i must confess here, i love using pen against paper. It gives a different high when you jot down your list manually and put a cross against the jobs done.

The biggest advantage is that you can surf/call through sim, wi-fi as well as dongle.

The only disadvantage is that I remove it from the clunky leather case when the keyboard is not required and then it is uncomfortable to handle the slab. The tab is smooth and slippery and so it has had many a risky falls while handling this way. This is also a pain while you watch the videos. With the folio, it occupies a major space in your hand bag. The recharging of the device is a huge headache when there are frequent powercuts. When not charged regularly, there is no life to any of these devices. The manufacturers must consider incorporating the electronic devices with solar charge panels.

To overcome such hiccups in android tablets, I understand,  Lenovo has come with a new solution called a betterway. The company has introduced an improvised and easy to handle multi mode  tab called Lenovo yoga tablet.

The tab has three unique modes, giving users a better way to use a tablet- to hold, tilt and place it in stand mode. The tablet adapts itself to the way people use. One can conveniently and safely carry it without a bulky case. What's more, it has 18 hours of battery life to fit the users mobile lifestyle. 

An ideal tab according to me should have Expandable storage, fast processor, quality display, long battery life, easy to handle, sleek, water/dust proof, light weight and above all has to be inexpensive /match the money.

This post exclusively written for Indiblogger's # Betterway contest in association with facebook.com/LenovoIndia

Monday, December 2, 2013

Washington-il thirumanam

Wedding in Washington  (Washingtonil Thirumanam) is a tamil play which I have been wanting to see since many years.

The play in original format is from a book from the same name . It  was  serialized (written form) in the 80’s in a tamil weekly called ‘Saavi’.  I then did not know to read my mother-tongue but the  witty illustrations that accompanied the story caught my attention.  I would ask my mom to tell me the story.  The story she said,  was  how a tambrahm wedding is conducted in Washington  where sourcing things like garlands, and other indian wedding needs were difficult and the humorous situations that lead to the wedding. So, when this story was adapted as play, it was on  my wishlist since long.

 Kalasagaram  a cultural center of twin cities staged Goodwill creations “ Washingtonil thirumanam”  last evening.  We started well in advance as  we  were aware that the Governor of AP was to be in the audience. There were lot of security checks  and also  we had to negotiate the mindless Hyderabadi traffic though the venue is only a few kms away

The story line like said above is  how  US millionaire couple Rockfellers  are charmed by the customs and rituals of an Indian(  read tambrahm)wedding. They are fascinated by the land of philosophy and spiritual significance. They want to witness  this and  so conduct  an Indian wedding in Washington DC. They sponsor a chennai based  middleclass family’s wedding in The US. The entire family, friends, priests, caterers, domestic help, goldsmith, florists  are flown in chartered flights from India to the US. Not even an appalam making paati (papad making old lady)is spared. She  along with her team lands in the US with  rolling pins to roll appalams for the wedding. (This story was written in the 50’s when event management or wedding contractors were unheard of)

The story is simple, but the drama’s lifeline is the liberal dose of  humorous situations and witty dialogues.

Some  of the funny situations are when thousands of appalams have to be rolled out and they find a huge terrace of a skyscraper to sun-dry the appalams, the priests interview by a reporter of Washington post  while doing sandhyavandanam on the banks of River potamac etc.,.  The rockfellers are smitten by the nischayathartham( betrothal), jaanavasam( baarat), Thaali( mangalsutra) and she thinks they are great fashion statements.

On the day of  jaanavasam (baarat)  a sambandhi sandai erupts( The quarrel between groom and bride side). The  groom's mama refuses to accept that there is no open car( like a horse in baraat, an open car in used for jaanavasam)  to take the groom around and there is no proper filter kaapi available to drink. He refuses  to drink the coffee made from milk powder and wants coffee made from cow’s milk. Mrs. Rockfeller who is watching the sandai (tiff) asks the bride’s party why cows were not brought in flight.  Just one of the comical situation to show to what lengths they would go to witness a real wedding in the US.

There is more wit in the play which rises due to lingual  mis-pronunciation and differences. For instance payasam(kheer) becomes poison,  appalam becomes apple-ham, idli as Italy, adhirasam as sweet pizza. Aiyaswamy becomes “Hai shamy to “ Hai shame” , panju  becomes punch etc

One of the highlights was when the actors descended down from the stage and the jaanavasam( baraat) went around the audience. The stage, props and some of the players made it seem so realistic. Two actors worth mentioning were Koothapiran( Natarajan) and the producer of Goodwill Kovai Padmanabhan. Excellent in the roles of Sambamurty shastrigal  and the groom’s mama( who quarreled).

The two along with the actor playing paati stole our hearts and there was thunderous applause when they delivered dead pan humorous expressions and dialogues. The rest of the cast was so-so.

I found the play not worth the hype. The story was written may be in the 50’s when going to ‘Foreign land’ (Read US) was a great achievement,  things like love marriage, internet and wedding management were unheard of. Some of the situations are not relevant to today’s times. Moreover since the 90’s almost every other second Indian has visited the US and there is not much glamour attached to the name US.

Although, it did not meet  my expectations( may be i had great expectations)  the hall echoed with laughter for every second dialogue and the huge hall was packed beyond capacity.  It was heartening to see that theatre had not suffered a huge setback due to TV and internet. A huge clap for people like Kovai paddu and Koothabiran( an alumni of Chennai’s beasant theosophical school, Kalakshetra) who are still keeping the art alive.  Both the actor are live wires and it was surprising to know that they both were 82 year old( amazing energy levels!).

The actor Koothapiran and the Governor who was the chief guest are supposed to be school mates. It was interesting to hear to  the 82 year old relate a few anecdotes of Kalakshetra,  The way he related  showed that communication is an art, those anecdotes could make another post.