Monday, July 02, 2012

Au revoir

Hi Friends,

Been with this blog for almost 7.5 years. It has seen enough of me and I am ready to retire from here. But not from the blogging world altogether.

Its time for a new start for me in all ways and you can find me going forward at http://sanjanasays.wordpress.com
Looking forward to meeting you all there and sharing my life and views.

*Muah*

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

God's own country

Last weekend I had been to the capital of God's own country and may I suggest that if you have any plans to go to just Trivandrum, you rethink it. They have many museums and palaces but even the guides there seem to lack interest in them. We went to this museum called Napier Museum and its attached to a zoo. Enter at your peril. It was a HOTTTTT day and they would not let us take water inside since we had it in plastic non-biodegradable bottles. The whole place had one measly tap right at the middle and each huge enclosure had one very very very bored looking animal, except for the hippos. There were 5 of them and they were so ashamed of being in there that they hid themselves in the water. Did I tell you it takes about 2 hours to go around the whole zoo, by which time you are ready to expire (or kill) thanks to dehydration. The museum was just one huge room. Sri Chitra art gallery was ok. They had some very good paintings especially by Raja Ravi Varma. For a chennaite the beaches do not really hold any allure. sigh!
Napier Museum in the BG on a HOT HOT day
 The Macau monkey wondering who the fool behind the camera is
 
 The Hippos hiding in their water
The totally bored Rhino doing his thing
The one thing you cannot see in the East facing Chennai - Sun setting in the beach

Second Day: Rather disappointed with the first day, we started on the second day and Wow!!!! 65 KM from TVM is Padmanabhapuram with its ancient palace (The movie Manichitrathazhu was shot here, the original movie from which Chandramukhi, Aptamitra, Bhool bhulaiya etc were taken) It was absolutely awesome and a must see place.  Then we went to the Thiruparappu falls. Had a good time in the water until we went up and saw the source.. Dirty! but still fun. And we ended the day with Neyyar dam. A damn good place (hehe couldn't resist!)

  
The King's bed made out of 64 different Ayurvedic woods.

This is where Shobana dances for "Oru murai vandhu" the equivalent of "Ra ra". Photo taken from a secret lookout from which the queen mother can see the Navarathiri Mandapam

  
This interesting piece is in the adjacent archaeological museum. Men sentenced to capital punishment were stuffed into this device and hung
Entrance to Padmanabhapuram palace
King's court

 
         The Thiruparrapu falls, fun to bathe until you get to see the source :-) 


  
                                 Water gushing out of a small opening in Neyyar dam

On the final day we didnt have much time for anything, except Sri Ananthapadmanabha swamy temple. It was the day before a 5 day utsavam was to start and the Tantric was doing some special poojas inside and there was also sahasra swarna kalasaabhishekam (Abishekam with 1000 gold pots). So the whole lot of us had to wait outside for over 2 hours feeling just like sardines in a tin can. There must have been almost a 1000 folks and in less than 20 minutes, the temple guys pushed all of us in and out for darshan. By the time I finished a pradhakshina, they had again closed the entrance :-). The black God inside is now golden and it makes my heart feel good to seem Him glitter, even if we could only get a quick glimpse.
The Metha mani found on the edge of the Temple pool,has two lambs kissing a man's face on either side, on the hour. But it has not been working for a few years now.

The Main entrance to the Temple

Oh! and we went to see the house where my dad and his siblings were born and more than 60 years later, the house still stands and even the entrance has not changed. Is that cool or what?

My confused mind

I am ready for a change, more like, desperate for one. But its so difficult.
The rut might be boring but its very very comfortable and gives an illusion of stability.
Can I break myself out of it? Really do so?
I thought I did, but instead have I fallen in to just another facet of the same rut?
Hmm! Time should tell.

Jeez! there was a time, not so long ago, when I fought for this change, so why am I so not excited when its finally happening?
Is this the change I aspired for or am I running away? Would it be a waste of time or an exciting adventure?
New friends or loneliness? Learning experiences or regrets?

One year from now, I hope I look back at today and laugh at myself and say.. "See! how needlessly you worried".

Friday, March 23, 2012

I am the Sleeping Beauty :-)

RS had asked me ages and ages ago to try this one. I did, but didn't put up the results here. So here goes
I am Aurora (a name which I adore incidentally), the Sleeping Beauty.
I am just happy I missed being Goofy by a whisker :-P
So what are you?






You Scored as Sleeping Beauty
Your alter ego is Princess Aurora, a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty! You are beautiful and enchanting, and as sweet as ever.


Sleeping Beauty
75%
Goofy
69%
Peter Pan
63%
Cruella De Ville
56%
Snow White
50%
The Beast
50%
Pinocchio
38%
Donald Duck
31%
Ariel
25%
Cinderella
25%

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bookie matters

When I bought my kindle, a friend asked if this meant I would stop buying books. I gave her a non-committal answer as I was not sure myself. Since ebooks have been part of my life for the last 8 years, Kindle or no Kindle, I am still happily emptying my coffers on books.

I've been reading "The Twentieth wife" by Indu Sundaresan. Nowadays I have too many things in mind and books have not been able to hold my attention for long. But this one is a compulsive read and I was forced to put down my other books (I am always reading at least 2-3 books at any given time) to finish this one.
The last books that held my attention this much was Amish Tripati's Shiva trilogy. I held off reading them for as long as possible but could not resist and then I felt irritated, coz the third book was not yet available and I was left hanging on a limbo.

Since “The Twentieth Wife” was impressive, I ordered its sequel “The Feast of Roses” at Indiaplaza last night. I've not yet ordered the final book of the Trilogy "The Shadow Princess" in the hope that by the time I finish the second one, either Flipkart or Indiaplaza will offer me a better discount than what they are currently giving. Greedy maybe, but a gal can hope, can't she? :-)

Which brings me to this website I’ve discovered. Don't know if you guys already know and having been using it, but I came across Indiaplaza only recently. I have always been a big fan of Flipkart but Indiaplaza is even better. Where Flipkart gave me 5% discount for “The twentieth wife”, IndiaPlaza gave me a full 40% off and for “The feast of Roses” there was no discount at all in Flipkart but I got a 40% off for this one too in India plaza.

Similarly Jeffrey Archer's new book, The sins of the father, is available to be pre-ordered in both the websites but we get a 5% extra discount at Indiaplaza. :-P

Sigh! It’s been a good week. I got to read some good stuff, I downloaded almost 20 ebooks, ordered 2 books.
The blog world has opened up my life to a whole plethora of ideas and perspectives, some of them so very different from my life experiences that I am not even able to relate, but it does make one realize it’s a wide big bad world out there.
And in news other than books, I breezed through an audit at work just on my reputation, despite not being all that well prepared.
I have a new little niece to play with as of yesterday :-)

I leave y'all with this quote from G K Chesterton, that I can definitely relate to
"A room without books is like a body without a soul"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Changing the background

Hey All, bear with me as I keep changing the back grounds until I come to one I like. Feel free to let me know if you like any BG.
The old one got to be boring and the new one was pretty, calming and well.. boring too.
But I left it on just to be contrary.. but not any more.
I can't seem to make my mind on what I like. So its going to be a very colorful time for you and me :-)

This Happens only in India :-P


  • The share auto wallahs (SAW) in Chennai are a fierce and possessive lot. The mid point between home to work is a very popular spot to catch shareautos and you see a lot of the SAWs standing beside their vehicles, inviting people to get in. If a fellow SAW comes in late and does not stand in the correct spot in the line, he is liable to get slapped or his vehicle kicked and passengers who try to get into the late SAW's vehicle will be stopped and asked to go to a different vehicle.
          Having given you an idea of how it is, today morning my shareauto stopped at the mid way point and another SAW started screaming at my SAW and came running to .. I don't know.. maybe scream some more or slap him. My SAW calmly waited until the other SAW came near him and told him - " Don't threaten me and don't even think of slapping me, My last case is still pending and I have just come back from the police station, I would hate to go back again". Needless to say the other guy could not back track fast enough.
We were all staring at the man.. not knowing how to react and if we wanted to travel in the vehicle at all. After reaching office, when the SAW asked for a little more than is usual, you may be sure that not one of us some much as peeped a protest :-)

  •  Saw this advertisement behind some 10 buses at least today. I first saw Paul Dinakaran's (the popular christian evangelist) foto on the ad poster and the words "exam" and thought maybe he is calling for the masses to write some exam on christianity. It was only on looking again, I saw he was calling the people to come for an exam prayer meet. What with the final exams just around the corner.  Wonder if there are any special pooja's and prayers at the temples and mosques too?
          As my colleague was saying -  "My son has become very playful and my wife is very anxious about his marks. The last exams he came third in his class and its most distressing". His 4 yr old son is in LKG (People need to get a life.. seriously!)

  • Was reading this old RS' blog and was reminded of an incident at my last work place. My Manager, a male neanderthal,  called up a newly married female reportee and told her that if she did not wear her mangal sutra everyday to work, her annual appraisal rating might suffer. Needless to say I had some choice words to tell  him, which he ignored, of course. The gal quit soon after.  
  • This was also the same guy who told me in very strong words, that a wife should NEVER call her husband by name, because the husband is after all a MALE and his maleness should be respected. :-) And that would probably be the time I almost puked on him.
.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dasavatar

Who has not heard of the 10 Avatars of Vishnu? He was said to have taken (to take) 10 different avatars in the different yugs to destroy evil and protect good. But the weird thing about the dasavatar is that only the first 7 avatars are kept same in all the different lists that people give. I have seen Buddha included in the list, even Gandhi (for god's sake).
But mostly people include Balaram who was the elder brother of Krishna. Ironically the same people will also agree that Balaram was re-incarnation of Vishnu's snake, Adhisesha. So, if Balaram is taken out of the running then who next? how do we make the navavatar, dasavatar?

Do you know that the last male child in most Hindu families are names Janardhan? This is because Janardhan is supposed to be the last avatar, even after Kalki. Interesting, huh?! I am trying to dig into Lord Janardhana to see if there is more info about him.

So that makes the Dasavathar

Matsya (Fish)
Koorma (Tortoise)
Varaha (Pig)
Narasimha (Lion)
Vamana (Little man)
Parasurama
Rama
Krishna
Kalki
Janardhana

Do you notice an interesting fact in the sequence of the avatars? They follow the evolution of creatures on the earth to a great extent (and this 1000s of years before Darwin was even born).
The fish, then the amphibian, then the lower level mammal, then the higher level mammal, the small man and the cave man or saint (parashuram was said to have been most comfortable living in the forest) and so on.

our Rights to Freedom of speech


So how are you all this festival season? What festival? you ask. Why, its the festival of Valentine's day, of course. The merchants are going crazy marketing their wares and giving 30-50% off on all products, from shoes to dresses to jewelry to vehicles to you-name-it. But the red balloons, roses and heart shaped everythings are what make me sick. Poor St. Valentine, he died for a cause and it has been twisted to help the marketing world best.

But but but... this valentine's day has been chosen as the Free speech day - To celebrate free speech and to protest book bans, censorship in the arts and curbs on free expression.


All the great democratic countries who have given their citizens the right to speak are curtailing and banning all forms and means of expressions, using one excuse or the other. And in India, what could irritate the government and its opposition alike, more than the firangi "festival" of valentine's day which promotes dirty, immoral western ideas such as love?


There is a call out for #flashreads where folks are all called to meet at a popular public place and do a flash read.  Nice thought.


Ain't it sad that 64 years after gaining independence from the foreigners, we are still fighting to free speech.




Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech. - Benjamin Franklin




“Free speech means the right to shout 'theatre' in a crowded fire.” 
― Abbie Hoffman



“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”  ― George Washington


“This is slavery, not to speak one's thought.”  ― EuripidesThe Phoenician Women


"Freedom is fundamentally the possibility of standing on a street corner and shouting “There is no freedom here!”  ― Yoani S├ínchez


“The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship.”  ― John Paul Stevens


(All posters courtesy the generosity of Sanjay Sipahimalani--for all four free speech posters, go to Antiblurbs.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The heights of ridiculousness is  an aging Jeetendra dancing the snake dance in a snake costume with Madhvi in the below video. *Snicker*



And he used to be such a good actor too. Can't believe this is the same guy who was in Parichay..

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dakshina Chitra

If you have not been to this place, you better go and soon. Its about 45 minutes from Chennai on the ECR.
Very nominal entry fee and a great place to spend a day or so.
As the name suggests Dakshina Chitra is an embodiment of all kinds of art from the south of India (There are separate sections for the 4 south indian states).

From Architecture to Weaving to Pottery to block and pot painting to Mehendi, every kind of art and crafts is represented. They even teach pottery, weaving, block painting, pot painting and a lot of other interesting stuff. You can get your hand read (Palmistry) or stain it with Mehendi  (I am still sulking coz Mom's mehendi has stained so much darker than mine and she has not done a darned thing, while I have been rubbing my palms with coconut oil  :-( ). There are special shows such as puppet shows, folk dances (based on the season and the artists available, I guess. We were able to see a special kind of folk dance from Karnataka called the Yojna Dance)
Cute hand made violins, bows and arrows, marble statues, jewelry, silk paintings, wood carvings, tapestries are all available for sale too.
Here is a very very small sample of the places to see in DC

Tamil Nadu
Ornate entrance to the Chettiyar house

The Thinnai and mutham as seen from the entrance of the same Chettiyar house
 The Mehendi Lady convinced me to get it done at the first house we visited instead of the last one, as we originally planned

 Ladies playing Pallanguzhi. 
 Inside the Cloth Weaver's house
 An actual weaving machine from Sundari Silks ( the weavers had gone for lunch). They are weaving a silk sari, the Pallu alone takes about 15-20 days and the whole sari takes 1.5 months to weave.
 Kerala:
The outside view of a Kerala Syrian Christian house
 An example of traditional kerala cloth mural
A traditional wall mural
Karnataka:
A Lambani mannequin and a tapestry woven by them
A Lambani residence (They are building traditional houses from Chikmagallur and a couple of more places)
Andhra Pradesh:
The Famous Cheriyal dolls in the prayer room of an Andhra weaver's house
Finished products after the weaving, Andhra Style (not that I would know the difference). We were able to see the actual weaving for this one.


Friday, January 27, 2012

The things my life revolves around....

My extended family and I had some great plans for tomorrow.

It was something that was planned for a whole week by me and I had convinced every one to make their calendars free so that we could enjoy the day out.
You need to be around my family to know what a difficult proposition that is.

So anyways all was set and we got our things ready and what not, when the phone rang!
Apparently this very important gentleman was planning to come to our locality tomorrow and if we were available tomorrow he would come home, else he could not promise any other dates in the near future.

Since the gentleman's schedule was rather packed, we have been strictly told to reschedule our plans for another convenient date. I realized then, the things that my life accommodates and revolves around :-P

The gentleman is coming from http://kuppathotti.com/ to buy our trash, and apparently we have over 3 months worth of old newspapers and milk covers collected at home.

I am hurt - 2

I was not sure if I wanted to put up this post and the one before this, coz while I like to grumble and rant, I generally do not pen feelings close to my heart.

I read recently an interview with Sonam Kapoor about her tough weight loss regimen before she was cast for her first movie and how even her father used to tease her with nick names.

Having been a plump person most of my life, I know what she went through. Some how fat people are expected to take nick names and sly words easily and not get hurt.

When my friend's boy friend used some nick name for me and she told me about it, I was hurt and asked her if she did not defend me and she flippantly replied that every one else teases you and calls you by names, so why should my boy friend not do so.

I am sure if my friend knew how much I hurt by her repeated callousness, she would be shocked. Why? because she thought she was being funny.

But she was not alone. How many cutting comments from colleagues and friends too? They never realized that their wittiness was causing a person to lose her/his self confidence and was making them self conscious. (Some times I think humans are the cruelest creatures on earth)

I recently met a lady who was on the fat side and she was making many jokes about herself during our conversation. I could empathize with what she was doing. She was joking about her plumpness before someone else commented on it, this way she could be kinder to herself.

 I would have been happy enough being plump, as long as I was healthy. Personally I did not have any issues with my body. But the peer pressure was soooo huge to slim down, that I think most of my teenage years were spent obsessing over one diet after another.

Funnily enough, once I stopped obsessing I started losing weight.

But the good thing that came out of it (I would like to think that I would be this way even if had had a svelte figure :-) ) is that I hate jokes on physical attributes of any person.

I am hurt

It must be great to be born/nurtured to have such a firm belief in one's superiority and rightness. Or in the case of women to have a firm belief in, if not one's inferiority, at least the superiority of their partners.

Being a woman and falling in the former bracket, I end up wincing, getting irritated, hurt and/or downright angry a lot of times. When I ask questions they are not able to answer, I get the answer that I don't understand or that I am just getting emotional (grrrr!)

I have recently had a few conversations and heard/read some news which have been like a thorn under my skin. I am sure there are a few people out there who read my blog and I would love to get your opinion

1. Do you think that women are less logical than men (I am still angry and very hurt about this one, as I am not sure this was told to me in jest)
2. Do you think that a woman has to agree to marry the first guy who says "yes"?  (This was told to me by a very close, young, married female relative and left me reeling. After all the astrologer has said its a good match and a girl actually thinking she needs a choice? Atrocious! She was so angry with me)
3. Do you agree with the Andhra DGP Reddy ? Are women's dresses the reason for their getting raped?
4. Do you think being a woman means she has to love cooking and cleaning and wiping her husband's a$$
5. Do you believe women should know their place and act/dress accordingly because men have (uncontrollable) urges and they will act on it unless women take care and don't entice them?
6. Are you a neanderthal who instead of feeling pride at their achievement, actually feels that women will bring down the Indian army?
7. Are you really amused when you read about the troubles faced by women across the world?

How many times have I seen an indulgent smile and been told to not take "it" so seriously coz "boys will be boys"? How many times have I been subtly advised to wear a stole with my jeans or to wear a higher neck or to pin my dupatta, by well meaning relatives?

I am hurt and ever so angry!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Aunties

I've read many posts and articles about the power of the Aunties. You know the Know-it-all busybodies.
But one should not be fooled by the name. This group has both men and women in it. The male aunties, sneaky creatures that they are, act in the background in lighting a fire under the female aunties.

I had forgotten how annoying they are.They have an expert opinion on everything from the music we listen, to our work, to how we lead our lives. grrr!
By some great power of the universe I do not have many aunties in my close relations and friends.

But met one couple today. The female aunty had a host of know-it-all questions, but thankfully I didn't have to answer since she already had the answers to all her questions and all I had to smile and bear.
The male aunty had a host of equally inquisitive and extremely private questions but he wanted my answers and kept staring at me until I started feeling just like I was under a microscope.My bland stare was not very effective.

Then the nosy parkers started asking questions about my family. There is a line that I definitely do not allow any one to cross.
Well! I am proud to say I was rather impressive in my imitation of the aunties in asking about their family skeletons, in turn.

Hehehe! They could not get away from me fast enough.

Would it not be great to be in a place where everyone minds their own business?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hola!

 Happy New Year, Pongal, Makara Sankranthi and all that folks.

Had actually planned to retire this blog in 2011, but could not. After all, what would I do without you people to rant and grumble to?

Is it possible to die of boredom? Coz I have all the symptoms of ennui, an absolutely classic and fatal case of boredom. Boring movies, boring books, boring work.


But boredom aside, I was just seeing this article on 10 places across the world that will be gone in the near future and at least 4 of my dream places are in it :-(

1. Egypt - The Valley of Kings
2. Greece - Olympia
3. Jordan - Dead sea
4. Italy - Venice

With the world at an end in 2012, I better get going and faaast


The other places of interest expected to disappear include

5. Maldives (I wouldn't mind visiting these islands)
6. The great barrier reef in Australia
 7. Our own Taj Mahal (Not only visited it, but also had my pocket picked. Very memorable place for me and for all the wrong reasons :-) )
8. The Amazonian forest in Brazil
9. The Poles
10. Waterlands in US

So what do you all want to do, in this last year of your lives?