Friday, January 29, 2010

The new age Mile sur mera tumhara...

As a kid, I used to boast that I could sing atleast a line in at least 10 Indian languages... I got a prize in a Quiz competition when I identified Mario Miranda... At school we had great lunch breaks singing our favorite song...I started recognizing Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's songs wherever they were played... I jumped in glee to find my favorite sports persons and cine stars on TV, all at the same time..

All of the above were possible because of Mile sur mera tumhara

I wonder what my child will learn from the Bollywood / glamor dominated Phir Mile sur!!

I shuddered at the 'replacements'. Where are all the other languages? The presence of a 'Padukone' and the 'Big B'  (though he has moved from the end of the video to the beginning)are ironical similarities.

If someone wanted to shoot a new generation National Integration video, they should have made a completely new one and not a slipshod of the original. AR Rahman, if you remember shot to national fame because of his 'nationally integrating' compositions!

I was particularly left aghast at the portrayal of 'Tamil Nadu'. The 'original' had AV Ramanan and Prathap Pothan! Where are the other new age stars? Don't tell me this is a representation of present day India...If Big B and family can find a place what made them leave out Sachin Tendulkar?

I think this is one of the best reactions that I've read. So... I'll stop mine!

Monday, January 25, 2010

When Vedanthangal beckoned...

Or we called on the birds for a change! We went to Vedanthangal, thinking it would be a nice change for V, stayed over and came back the next day. The drive was peaceful as the kid slept through onward and during the return journeys! I would n't say he enjoyed watching the birds as there was hardly any watching what with them being far away with the lake in between. He, however had the monkeys and dogs providing him entertainment with their antics. We stayed at the Forest Rest House. It was clean and neat, devoid of mirrors, television and anything remotely engrossing. After visiting the birds in the evening we returned only to stay put in the room until we went to sleep thanks to the mosquitoes and other insects waiting to enter the room. I must admit that when we woke up next morning, we realized that we had the most peaceful sleep since we could remember!!

This was the best that one could manage with a Nikon D40..

Some Information

The Place

Vedanthangal is about two hours from Chennai city. If one drives non-stop from the 'Kathipara' junction it would take about one and a half hours or even less.

The best time for watching is early morning till about 9:00 AM. One can however stay on for a little while longer and continue to picnic! In the evenings 4 to 7 PM (if it does n't get really dark) will be ideal. In this case, one can leave for Vedanthangal at about 2:00 PM

Forest Rest House

It may not be necessary to stay over, but it could be a real 'close to nature' experience, what with the lack of gadgets and abundance of insects, as mentioned earlier! If required, one can stay at the Forest Rest house, from which the bird sanctuary is at about 750 meters.

To book a room, the Wild life warden's office has to be approached and a written (yes, no forms are available for this purpose!) request to be furnished, addressed to the warden, and based on the availability, accommodation will be provided. A double room costs Rs. 300 per night. The check in time is 12:00PM. It is not like booking at a hotel, so be prepared for some typical 'government' office waiting. The warden's office is at the Guindy National Park and is open on tuesdays also (when the park is closed for public). Please make sure to go after 11:00 AM because the attending officer will arrive only at about that time!


Carry your own food. There are a few tea-shops around and nothing else. The people at the Rest house may prepare food and tea/coffee upon request. Also, mosquito repellants!

The View

Binoculars are available at the sanctuary for rent (@Rs.20 I think), but they are not suited for effective viewing. There is a watch tower, and the guide has a mounted binocular and he also gives a description of the birds. By far it is the best way to have a close look at the birds. Since the sanctuary plays host to the similar  birds every year, boards with a description of each type are placed every few meters.

We carried our own binoculars. We wanted to get hold of Olympus or Nikon Binoculars but they were not widely available. At Spencer Plaza and on Wallajah Road, there are shops that will provide with these on request, but they are priced at Rs.8000 or above! We settled for a Celestron 20 by 50, available at Camera Citi, Besant Nagar outlet (only!) which cost Rs.2800.

The best season for a visit is October-February.

I hope the above (I will add more if I remember!) is helpful. This post is my way of saying Thanks to a few bloggers who had written similar posts which helped our trip!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Two good films and a few mistakes...

It has been five years since I watched a film in a theater. I need to be dragged to a theater to watch a film and since H is also of the same type, we slouch at home and watch DVDs.

Anyway, the point is that, after a long time I managed to watch a few Tamil films on TV during the Pongal weekend and the Tamil channels sure had audience in me. I will not explain how I did it. Holidays remember???

(A hurried disclaimer: I can't say whether making the movies was a mistake, but my watching them surely was. Also these are not reviews...only my reactions!)

Mistake No 1: I knew the story of the Vijay hit 'Pokkiri' right from the time it was released, but still had the crazy urge to watch it as I expected a sure shot entertainer. It was a typical yet interesting 'masala' and I was able to watch it only because, the TV medium gave the much needed breaks in between and since I knew the ending, did n't bother to watch the climax!

Mistake No 2: This was a grave mistake. I don't know why, but I watched Simbu's 'Vallavan'. It was sheer curiosity and by the time the film ended (with a frightening 'to be continued' tag) I had a headache. I will not discuss the film any further. By the way, I skipped all the songs, still the headache would n't go because of....

Mistake No 3: Many may not agree with me but watching  'Sillunu oru Kadhal' did not help me recover from the illness 'Vallavan' had bestowed. Two reasons why I wanted to watch the film were the first two songs and I missed both of them. I like Suriya. But that stands true only for movies before 'Maayavi' (Suriya and Jyotika). After that I stopped wasting money and time on his films. It was the 'jodi's' last attempt together at films and it was the only interest. No more comments on this.

Mistake No 4: Somewhere in between, I managed to catch glimpses of another Vijay film - 'Madurai'. Oh Dear God...Did you have to punish me for my previous life's mistakes by making me watch all these?

The Good ones

I made amends and my headache vanished as I began to watch 'Jayam' Ravi and Genelia's 'Santosh Subramaniam'. It was a delight to watch and definitely a 'good' film.

And that was that...I did n't watch 'Aaru'  or anything else that followed.

I have to mention one other film I liked. 'Bommalattam', Barathiraja's latest suspense-flick was telecast the previous week. I had wanted to watch the film, because of the suspense element. I began reading the reviews which had a lot of good things to say about the film and by the time I had finished reading, the movie had gone off the theaters. So I was glad to watch it on TV and also happy that I had missed the first half an hour, which had Arjun dancing with his heroine. I was blown by the ending, something which I could n't guess even after the climax began. It probably did n't reach everyone because in presentation and narration it was similar to 'Kangalal Kaidhu sei'. In recent times this is the only film I may want to watch again. About the Kamal says 'Don't pull wordsu out of my mouthu'!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Ride of his life!

V's school had arranged for a bullock-cart ride for the children to celebrate Pongal. The previous day I described what the 'maatu-vandi' (bullock-cart) was all about and he was terribly excited, chanting 'maatu-vandi' before he went to sleep, during sleep and after he woke up that morning! When I went to drop him, someone was tying ribbons and balloons around the bull's horns and to the cart. V kept staring at it and stood by the gate. The coordinator thought he wanted to go back to his Amma and asked me to leave...sigh!

All the kids seemed to have had a good time. We are yet to receive any photograph of the 'event'!

I had spent some time in telling V that the cow gives milk and the bull helps us by pulling carts and he seemed to understand the difference because he associates the cow with the milkman!

Strangely, many mothers asked their children, after school, if they had enjoyed the 'cow' ride and if they had liked the 'cow'...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Pongal!

This time the 'Pongal' festival coincides with a long weekend (or is it the other way round??)

As always the Tamil channels are vying for viewer-ship with 'all tholai kaatchi galil muthal muraiyaga' films and interviews with actresses who try hard to say, "Unga ellarukum I want to wish you a happy pongal" and other nonsense! 

While most Tamil channels are doing the above (except 'Makkal' TV) Star Vijay takes a step forward (or backward??) and will be telecasting "Titanic", albeit in Tamil. 

But seriously...Titanic... for Pongal?!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

When the Kid took charge...

I was going out to do some shopping. I grabbed the scooter keys with one hand, glasses with the other and was about to leave, when V said, "Athu Appa odu" (That is Appa's).

I said, "No...these are scooter keys, Appa's keys are over there", and closed the door behind me only to come back within a few seconds, because I had taken H's glasses instead of mine.

I went inside and cracked some odd joke about eyesight to H, still not realizing what had happened a few minutes earlier, when H said, "That was exactly what V meant when he said, Athu appa odu".

I refused to believe and did some cross checking by showing my glasses, to which V said, "Ithu thaan amma vodu" (These are amma's glasses-with emphasis!)...

P.S: The comforting fact was that H also did n't realize that, until I came back. We are growing old...together:))

Friday, January 8, 2010

'Lakshanamana' Ad!

The Pothy's advertisements (especially the ones for silk sarees) seem to be getting better every time! If the 'Satyaraj-Seetha' Maduraiyil Pothy's ads were entertaining, the latest 'Pattuku Pothy's (Pothys for silk sarees) is very pleasant to watch. No music, dance or jazzy display of sarees. Just a neat little pre-wedding scene in which the family decides on what to purchase for the wedding.

Unable to find the video yet.

As I was looking up found this. Wondering how I missed it on TV.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Book (Af) fair!

Without any doubt, Chennai's most awaited Fair! The 33rd edition has been advanced and will close on January 10. We went on New Year's day, at around 2:00PM and it looked like half of Chennai was there. But as one entered the arena, it did n't appear as crowded as it really was, thanks to the venue, St. George Anglo Indian Hr. Secondary School (Opp. to Paachayappan College) where the Fair has been held, the last few years! It took us three hours ( we managed to leave out the kid, otherwise we would have spent only three minutes), but could n't cover the last two rows (columns?!). Planning to go once again.

Now for the Books...

As far as children's books were concerned, thanks to repeated visits to Saffron Tree and publishers' links, I had a certain idea about the books one could buy. The stall I was looking out in particular was the CBT (Children's Book Trust), especially the book, "The Milkman's Cow".  There were many other delightful stories, there. At the 'Tulika' stall, I wanted to grab as many books as possible but better sense prevailed and we stuck to books with varied themes and pictures. The 'National Book Trust' stalls also had interesting books. Here and at CBT, the books have good content and are very reasonably priced. 'Eureka Books' were displayed here and there was a good collection of stories.

There was this particular stall I wanted to avoid because all it had were old books (thanks to a bad experience last year), but H coaxed me and of all things I spotted 'Tiki, Tiki Tembo', a humorous story mentioned by Uma,  here. Though old, many books are worth laying hands on and they are priced from Rs. 30 depending on the size. One drawback was that they are not arranged all! Worth a visit anyway. The 'Navaneet' stall also had books with interesting stories. They have a series of original stories. But the 'School text book' like appearance may be a dampener. Many books were bilingual and it was a heartwarming sight! As always, there were many Tamil publications, which are not easily accessible otherwise.

As I mentioned earlier, I will be visiting again, as I did n't get any book for myself:( Not even the 'Sujatha' regular Will try to update on that too. As for the books, posts will follow as and when V shows interest! 
The link to  BAPASI is which has the stall list, without the stall numbers though!

How marriage and children can affect the functioning of a washing machine...

Almost a year after our wedding H and I went on a holiday. We came back early one morning, only to pack lunch and head to our respective places of work. It was a very tiring day, as we had to get up at 3:00AM that morning, catch the first flight back home and head off to work as we could n't afford another day's leave. That evening I came back, dumped the clothes into the washing machine, and took a short nap only to find the clothes absolutely dry after three hours. I had forgotten to put the main switch on...

Three Years later...
As we were heading to the station to catch the train to Madurai, I was thinking about all the things that we had forgotten to do or take along. Even as I was 'tick-marking' them in my head I remembered the 'washing machine' incident mentioned above. No such thing can happen this time, I told my self. Though I was not sure of my memory I was confident of the new machine. The old one was a front loader with manual switches and knobs. So I did n't notice that the power was not on, three years ago! This time, even if I forget to switch the main power on, the machine's sleek 'fuzzy-logic' panel will not respond. How clever of us...

We were back home. It was almost 11 in the night. I dumped the clothes into the machine, set it in the delay-start mode and went off to sleep.

H had woken up an hour earlier. I went straight to the washing machine, only to find the clothes still inside. How irresponsible can a man get. He wakes up early only to sit and read the newspaper. Can't a sensible man at least take the clothes out of the machine. The washing had been done three hours earlier.
Even as I looked at H with all these questions in mind, he said calmly,

"When I came here, the thing was screaming ...this time, you did n't turn the water tap on"....
I only had the title of this post as my answer!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The first Vacation!

Our trip to Madurai late last year (?!) was V's third overall and his first during 'vacation'. The first few trips and the one this time were very different.

V has grown up
He proved it when it was time to go to bed. He said, "Amma maduaii vanaaam...maddas poonnum".
This time he made his presence felt by erasing the beautifully done 'kolam' every time his Paati, meticulously drew one; showed off his skill with the scissors as cut to pieces the pages of his Thatha's precious magazine; Asked a lot of questions to the 'Maamis' who came just to see him,  like, "Ithu yaaru?' (Who's this), Yaen vanthey? (why did you come) etc... The good ladies smiled sheepishly as they remarked, "He's grown up...does he go to school"?

And when we came back, instead of the usual 'let us go back or let us not go home', he resorted to lying on the stair case landing, face down, kicking legs while crying "Aathuku  vaannaam' ...

Lighter luggage
The last two times we carried a suitcase exclusively for V (thanks to me!) and this time we packed all our stuff in that single case. Firstly, V's requiremnets in terms of clothes have come down. Secondly my sense of obsession is dying a slow death. Finally, I have come to understand the place better. Madurai is still conservative and it is difficult to get all the stuff one gets in Chennai. Last time around, I packed a '50-pack' diaper bag and a box of wet wipes and a potty seat and some pairs of socks and what not only to find 'Pigeon' wet wipes, detergents and fancy potty seats, available at a store near by. Though it is one of those very rare stores, it was enough to make the big footu reach the mouthu!! So this time when I managed to damage V's winter cap on the evening we left and when H asked if we could look around and try to get one before we left I said we could easily manage to get one in Madurai and we got what we were looking for!

A changed Town

There were a lot of foreigners around, thanks to the attraction that the 'Meenakshi Temple' has become. H, a native of the town was surprised at how much it has changed. Though one could n't find fancy restaurants and stuff, the town has changed. I remember how as a newly wed, I was thronged by flower sellers who demanded that 'annan' (Brother, they referred to H here!) bought some 'malli-poo' for his wife. There was no such thing this time. People who wanted to know why I had n't worn bangles, three years back, were talking about how necessary it is to change with the times, this year. However,  even with the new shops and fancy retail chains, Madurai's enchanting flavor has not disappeared. We entered a Titan watch show room and was greeted with a 'sollunga saar'. This was also the time when I understood the aggression displayed by some of my colleagues (hailing from this region) when  I was working in Chennai. They are not loud, nor are they artificially polite. You get the information you want from them. They don't push you but make you think. It may not be unique to this region, but with so many young women 'manning' the shops, little wonder that they say it is Meenakshi Aatchi in Madurai (A euphemism to indicate that women some places!)