Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Paris

Krakow
2227hrs CEST

We were in Paris last week. Here are the highlights of our stay there.

Eiffel Tower

Long time from now, when I look back to my first visit to Eiffel Tower, when everything else I've seen and experienced may've faded in my memory, these three moments, however, will remain vivid:

a. We reached Paris late in the evening. Our hotel did not have a view of the Eiffel Tower. We didn't want to hit bed without seeing the tower. We caught the train, got off at Bir-Hakeim station - an underground train station. As we climbed the stairs to reach ground level, we were greeted to a spectacular view of the tower. That moment felt slightly out of the blue as we didn't expect such a brilliant view coming out dingy little underground station. It was our first sight of the tower and it took my breath away..

b. We were standing at the bottom of the tower admiring the beauty of this engineering marvel with the mouth slightly open and blissfully unaware that its only a few seconds to go for the hour. *stroke of the hour* And just like that… the tower started twinkling! Magical!

c. Next day, we went up the tower. There is a champagne bar at the Summit. It was twilight time, with the beautiful Paris beneath us, we toasted a glass of Rose Champagne. Gold!


Pantheon

The architecture, design and grandeur of this building is truly a wonder. High dome, beautiful interiors and beaming arches outside. Unlike Notre Dame or St. Paul's, Pantheon wasn't busy at all (a welcome change, actually). After visiting Paris's Pantheon, I am really looking forward to visit the real Pantheon in Italy.

Pantheon

Louvre

We saw Venus De Milo. We saw Mona Lisa. We learnt this museum is an embodiment of pure love and appreciation of French history and to the field of arts. There is a massive collection of world famous paintings, sculptures and other artwork that are so rich in detail, depth and huge in their canvas that after not too long gazing around our brain's status read: Art_Sculptures_mindblown. To describe the paintings, sculptures as incredible, magnificent, beautiful will be an understatement. And allocating only 3/4 of a day to spend at Louvre is laughable.

Monalisa and her mob of photographers
Palace of Versailles

The best bits were the Hall of Mirrors, Coronation Room and impressive paintings here and there. The bad bit was the massive crowds. We went on a Thursday which is supposed to be the relatively quiet day of the week for Versailles. Looks like everyone had the same idea. The palace was packed. We were moving through each sections of the palace with hardly any time or space to pause and have a good look at the rooms/exhibits. The gardens were beautiful. We were told about a fountain show but it never started. The weather also played along as it rained most of the day. Disappointing overall.

Amorino

This place is magic. One cant go past this shop without having a scoop of gelato. There were different flavours to try so we had something different every time. We also tried Crepe, Gaufre and shakes. Absolutely yummy!

Notre Dame

An ancient, majestic church, which does not charge tourists any entrance fees. As you walk towards Notre Dame, the size of its edifice takes your breath away. Incredible architecture. Once inside, one cant take their eyes off the amazing stained glass. We had taken our binoculars to get a closer look at them. Boy weren't we happy to took that thing! The detail and the rich colour on the glass were truly a sight to behold. Must see! Oh, and dont miss the Gargoyles.

We also visited Rodin Museum, Tour Montparnasse, Arc De Triomphe and Museum d'Orsay. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

London

London
2231hrs BST

We arrived in London last week and have managed to cover a fair chunk of our 'to-see' list. Considering the ultra max information dump we've had in the last few days, I think it's a good time to pause and pen down my thoughts and observations about things we've seen in this amazing city.

The Underground



a. So far we've never had to wait for a train for any more than 2 mins on any line, any time of the day. Ever! I found that amazing as efficient public transport is not one of the strong suite of any cities I've lived so far. 

b. For a first-time visitor, a rail network of such complexity can be confusing without proper signs/markings or helpful staff. All tube stations have clear directions, the tube map is perfect and we've never felt lost.

c. The railway line that connects Heathrow Airport is the Piccadilly line. Some overground railway stations on Piccadilly line do not have elevators. It's a fair bet that this railway line will carry visitors, like us, with heavy luggage, and they'd surely appreciate an elevator rather than lugging a 25+kg suitcases over flights of stairs.

d. Life goes at a quick pace in London. The Underground, however, seems to have life of its own. St. Undergroundeswarar, the Lord of the Underground, presses the 'Breakneck Pace' button every time a Londoner enters a Tube station. That explains why people zoom past down the escalator, rush to the platform, get off in a hurry, rush back up the escalator and return to the normal pace once out of the Tube station. Why this avasaram da? Relax, no?

e. I work in the area of real-time power system operations. I understand the challenges involved in operating complex, interconnected networks like the Underground. To operate an essential service like this in a safe, reliable and efficient manner must have some highly skilled engineers and field crew.

We bought the 7-day Zone 1-2 TravelCard. The TravelCard makes us eligible to use the 2 for 1 vouchers at participating London attractions. Its given us good deals so far.

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral
We visited St. Paul's Cathedral through a walking tour by a company called London Walks. Judy, our guide, gave us an informative and engaging tour of St. Paul's. She gave us a gripping account of how this iconic cathedral survived the bombings of WWII and the efforts made by Londoners to protect the Cathedral. The interiors of the dome were jaw-dropingly awesome. Since this is a working church, we had to stop and remain still once every hour for a prayer.

We went up the Dome which involves climbing 500 odd steps through spiral staircases and narrow passages. Sindhu felt mildly claustrophobic when going up the spiral staircases. She made it to the top though. It was worth the effort as the views from the dome were breathtaking.

View from the Dome a.k.a Golden Gallery
London Walks charges GBP 9 per person for their services. You have to pay entrance fee at St. Paul's. We availed the 2 for 1 offer. Highly recommend!

Lord's Cricket Ground

Visiting Lord's, the very home of the great game, is one of the highlights of our stay in London. It was a clear sunny day and I was buzzing with excitement as I entered the ground through Grace Gate for the ground and museum tour. I've done ground tours of WACA, Melbourne Cricket Ground and Eden Park. I have also watched Test cricket at 'Gabba, Chepauk and SCG. None of those Test venues exude the aura of class and the quiet charm as Lord's. It is a special place.
Lord's. Can you see the famous Lord's tilt?
We ambled around the Cricket Museum first. We saw the real Ashes 'urn' and read the history behind it. India's first world cup trophy, the Prudential cup, was on display. The crystal Ashes replica looked meh. 

We were then taken to the famous Long Room. Its walls were adorned with paintings of cricket legends - Don Bradman, Keith Miller, Jarvis, to name a few. Then, off to team dressing rooms. The rooms were not as big as I thought it would be. It would be fairly crowded place on match days. It felt surreal to stand on the Lord's balcony admiring the view of the ground *goosebumps*. I stood at the exact same spot where Ganguly famously twirled his shirt in that Natwest final.

In the famous Honours board, there was no Tendulkar, no Lara, no Ponting, but one A Agarkar was present…that too in the batting list. #facepalm to Cricket God and his sense of humour.

I envy Cricinfo dudes who get to do live commentary from JP Morgan Press box. What a view!

Easily the second best view of the Ground
Ground and museum tour costs GBP 15 per person. We made use of the 2 for 1 offer. Win!

Westminster Abbey

I didn't know much about Westminster Abbey apart from it being Will and Kate's kalyana mandapam. When I did shrug my ignorance and read about it, I realized its immense significance and importance to British history. We reached the Abbey on an warm, cloudy afternoon with a plan to attend the 5PM Evensong. When we reached the Abbey we were greeted by the incredible carvings on the Northern entrance and a very long queue. We ditched the Evensong plan and checked out St. Margaret Church which is next to the Abbey. I learnt that Winston Churchill got married there. The stained glass at the Altar was beautiful.

The following morning we arrived early to this beautiful soaring architectural wonder. Its true majesty lies inside. As you walk in, the beautiful chandeliers, stunning architecture, the staggering detail on the dome just takes your breath away. We spent a few hours walking around the Abbey with a Audio guide. Its impressive the Brits have managed to preserve and display couple of thousand years of history. But frankly, I found the history of King Edward/Henry/Queen Elizabeth I, II, III etc a bit dry. I am a science student who likes poetry. What interested me were the final resting place of Newton, Dickens, Kipling, Charles Darwin, Wordsworth etc. All important figures buried under one roof. Phew!

Entrance fee costs GBP 16 per person.

Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

We 'straddled' the Prime meridian. There were neat exhibits on the history of astronomy and maritime navigation. 'Camera Obscura' was cool.

Entrance fee was GBP 7 per person.

Sir John Ritblat Gallery, British Library.

It was a brief stop. This gallery is aptly called 'The Treasures'. The highlights were:

a. The Beatles Corner: Handwritten lyrics of one of my fav song 'Yesterday' on a scrap of paper.
b. Original manuscripts of Mozart.
c. Handwritten letter by Isaac Newton from his final days.
d. Different versions of Bible and Koran.
e. Magna Carta room.

Madame Tussaud's

It was our first time to a wax museum and we loved it. The museum was well laid out and the waxworks were obviously quite impressive. My favorite bit was the 4D Marvel show. It was as good as Shrek 4D show at Movie World in Gold Coast.

So. Waxworks of all important celebs in Hollywood - check. Waxwork of Sachin Tendulkar - check. Wife takes a pic with her beloved SRK - check. Bollywood section has a waxwork of Salman Khan - *puke*. After all this, the Thamizhan in me had a burning question, "ALLLLL this is okay, where is Rajnikanth?".

GBP 30 per person. We used the 2 for 1 voucher.

'World famous in Thamizh Nadu' Saravana Bhavan, East Ham, London.

Items ordered:
Paper Roast
Idly Vadai Sambhar (immersed)
Filter Kaapi

Whether it is London or Mylapore, the Sambhar tastes only one way: Heavenly! And that's Saravana Bhavan.

So what's remaining in the list?

The Shard.
Pint at Westminster Arms.
Buckingham Palace
Churchill's Underground War rooms
Wimbledon Museum tour.
Tower of London.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dear Anandha Bhavan,

Changi Airport, Singapore
1047hrs SGT

Dear Anandha Bhavan,

When Madras deprived souls like us transit at Singapore's Changi Airport, the moment we touch down, the moment we see 'Nal Varavu' written in bold and XXL Thamizh font, the moment we see Airport staff with name badges that read 'Kala Chithra', 'Senthil Kumar', 'Sundara Vadivel', 'Kuzhalmozhi', a quiet excitement and happiness envelop us. It is akin to the excitement when Chennai Express approaches Madras Central you see the railway tracks suddenly mutate to a dozen tracks, you realize you are home. Singapore is our threshold to Thamizh Nadu. Yesterday when we departed for Singapore, a friend told us 'goto Anandha Bhavan in Terminal 2', we started to salivate. Process 'NaaklaJalamOorufication' went into overdrive at the thoughts of having Nei Roast and piping hot Filter Coffee. If you don't already know, there is only one type of Nei Roast (Ghee Roast) in this world. That's Anandha Bhavan Nei Roast. You, and only you, make it best. But, we were let down. You, Anandha Bhavan, have placed your outlet OUTSIDE the transit area. Why o why wouldn't you cater for the scores of transit'ers like us and focus on the random local who wouldn't care to travel all the way to the airport to have your offerings or even bother to give you a second look when he's inundated with plethora of choices. Don't bother explaining. My request is simple. Open an outlet in the transit area's Food court, not for me, or my fellow travelers, atleast for Nei Roast's sake!

Yours truly,

A Nei Roast Priyan.

ps: You may ask me to have Nei Roast at Kaveri. I can't do that for two reasons:

a. Kaveri does not serve Nei Roast.
b. Tongue, taste, emotions are interlinked with each other. The emotional disconnect of having a Nei Roast at Kaveri is as big as Nei Roast itself.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Let's go!

Darwin Airport
1448hrs AEST

Sindhu and I are about to embark on an adventure. Its been something I wanted to do for the past decade. Something we've been planning, amidst many other things that's been happening, for the best part of the last 12 months. And the moment is finally here. Europe Trip!

We're about to jet off on a 1.5 months trip to UK and Europe. Our travel plan involves visiting 7 countries, staying at-least 4 nights or more in 9 different towns/cities. This is our first trip to this part of the world, so I am sure you can easily guess most places we have on our itinerary. 

The 'skeleton' travel plan goes something like this:

London > Paris > Krakow > Prague > Vienna > Luzern > Lauterbrunnen > Venice > Rome


I think we've gotta visit Europe a million times or live there for a decade if we want to see most places
we had in our wish list. That's why its so hard to draw up an trip itinerary for a place like Europe. Each place is steeped in history and significance, and they are also relatively close by, that you don't wanna drop it off your list. Sigh! 

Anyway. Like any overseas trip of this length, there are many unknowns. We've done a heap of reading from books and online travel forums like Tripadvisor, Fodors, LonelyPlanet etc which offer a wealth of info on what to see and tips from people who've been there. So we had a 'plan' for each day...and suddenly a realization hit on us that this was a holiday and not a planned High Voltage Feeder Cutover! So we took the pedal off this excessive daily planning crap and go with the flow. Whether the flow is a raging current or a gentle stream is totally up to us.

Why are you doing it now? Yen? Edhukku? 

Well. If not now, when? There is a line in one of my favourite ARR song 'Urvasi' - Irubadhu vayadhil aadaamal, aruvadhil aadi enna payan.  Do it when you can. YOLO! 

I have finished a work assignment here and I want to take my some time off, 'let my hair down' and have fun. 

Plus, I like travelling, meeting people from different cultures, nudging out of the comfort zone...just another method of developing as a person.

Enough of this ramble. I need a drink before take off. I intend to update this page as we go. See you soon! Tata :D


Saturday, March 2, 2013

When Vanity demanded action

The dialogue that precedes our social outing is usually something like -

Me: enna ma, readya?

Sindhu (my wife): Yeah. Almost..

...which translates to

Grab a drink, check your Twitter and Gmail, while I come down in 20 minutes.

Recently, the dialogue has changed, with heavy accompaniment of grunts and groans, to:

Sindhu: onnum sariya illa. Nothing fits. ellaan dress'um tight aidthu!

Me: I know! I gotta lose weight too. I am sooo fat. *gasps of pain*... as I squeeze into clothes that appear to have shrunk over the months.

In a sad attempt to lift the spirits, Sindhu would nudge in,

S: Look you shouldn't complain okay. You look fine. It is me. I have to work out.

M: Aiya, no way. You look great!  (A quick nano-second mental word check wisely ruled out "you look fine" - incorrect; "you look okay" - worse; "you look alright" - pochu!). I am the one who needs to lose weight. Look at this thoppai and all. See! *poke finger into the fat guts to illustrate the point*

It irks when someone half your weight complains they gotta slim down. Somehow thin is never thin enough. Neither of us have been eating out much, and have managed to resist that extra spoon of Therattu Paal with Vennila Ice Cream or the extra dollops of Custard with warm Plum pudding, which only adds to the mystery surrounding the condition of shrinking clothes. Whether neither of us recall eating any less is a...well, lets not go there :)

Moving on.

Vanity demanded action. In addition to the daily jog/run, a diet of freshly squeezed juice, I decided, would be the magic solution. We had a brand new juice maker still in the box. One afternoon while Sindhu was asleep, I opened a bag of oranges and grapefruit. Peeling oranges and grapefruit is the most demanding job of the juice making process. Both fruits are strong contenders of "Thick-skinned bastard" title of fruit race. I'd back Grapefruit for the title because its a badass - it tastes like an angry tamarind on steroids.

The juicer was simple to assemble. I was excited as fresh juice and dramatic weight loss were just moments away. Images of orange being devoured by the juicer popped up in my head. I dropped a large chunk of orange down the chute and pressed the ON button...

...and watched in slow motion horror as thousands of fragments of orange pulp and juice flew across the kitchen spraying it 360 degrees. Thwack thwack thwack! A large lump of orange splattered against on my cheek, which shook me out of the freeze and total moment of blankness, I slammed the OFF button.

The kitchen and adjacent living room walls had a newly decorated coat of orange. The original plan of coffee and fresh juice had turned to custard thanks to me not fitting the juicer parts properly.

Sindhu woke up an hour later.

"I made some juice", I said.

"Yeahh. I can smell it. It smells oranges everywhere!"

"Lovely, la?", I said, spotting a lump of orange pulp hanging from the folds of our brand new living room curtain. Damn!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Viva la Vivāha


It is going to be a little more than two months since I've got married and I don't have a single post on the wedding stuff. Bad, no? Here are some salient points from the experience.
  • The jee-i'm-actually-gonna-get-married feeling sunk in when Sindhu (my wife) & I started plan the look and layout of our wedding invitation. We had a simple design in mind and were particular on the colour, texture and feel of the invitation card & cover. Menaka, Eureka, Butterfly, Kalyani, Sankeshwara Papeir...it took a lot of running around to get what we wanted. We got there in the end.
  • I totally relished the Maapla treatment at home. It is a super feeling of being the star of the show. You're lavished with attention from everyone. Want something? Just look up...and ten people will be hanging on to the word you say.
  • Couple of days before the wedding, my brothers & I went for a grand beauty treatment to a men's parlour in Mandavali. I had the Groom's Special which had the full works - Diamond facial, bleach, scalp massage, haircut, manicure, pedicure etc. All this took the whole day! My brother found out how ticklish he's on his feet during his pedicure. He just couldn't sit still. The beauty trip was very relaxing and we were refreshed at the end of it.  Everything was great except that ghastly five-figure amount we got billed for their services. 
  • My grand-dad had it. My dad had it. My uncle had it. My cousin had it too. But, more importantly, one Mr Kameshwaran from my favourite Thamizh movie had it. And I decided long time back I was gonna have it when it is my time. Janavasam. I had it. And I totally loved it.
  • It was a typical Tambram wedding...peppered with the highs and extreme highs and thereof (emotionally speaking).
  • People marry. Some re-marry. But you get married for the first time only once. Pah, wattey logic, you may say. The point is - when you do something which you can do only once, why not do it properly? I dug into my reserves of patience and cooperated with whatever rituals I had to do from my part. The motto was: Cooperate, don't kovama operate.
  • Talking about doing things properly - the Sastrigal told us to NOT shake hands with anyone after Mangalya dharanam until he tells us to do so. "Nee avala mattum dhaan thodalaam. Vera yaaraiyum thoda pdaadhu. Purinjidhaa?" #haun. He informed the handshake ban to the audience through microphone. After the Thaali was tied, once the rain of akshadhai and flowers subsided, one Maama ignored the handshake ban and extended his hand with a megawatt smile only to be met with a huge NO from me. Not the one to be cowed away easily, Maama insisted again, the Sastrigal belted out a high decibel bark "Kozhandha correct-a kai kudukka maaten 'granono, yen padutharel! Apram vaango saar!". Got the nods of approval from junior sastrigals and the photographer.
  • I got a candid photographer to cover the event. I closely followed some photographers who specialize in this and boy they are a creative bunch! Glad I had PV cover my wedding. Check out his work here.
  • Panjakacham is an underrated men's garment. 
  • My mum planned to put together a surprise video of me & Sindhu to be played after Janavasam. But poor thing was smashed for time with the wedding prep that she couldn't do much on apart from collating old photographs. She really wanted it to happen so I (with some help from my bro) made a video which was basically a time-line with photos from memorable stages/events in our life and some funny anecdotes thrown in. We played it after Janvaasam. Everybody loved it.
  • Nalangu was a total riot. I sung this song. The family were in their element and reached resonant galaata frequency when I prompted them for chorus. I still wonder how they made me sing 3 songs (incl. a duet) compared to her two songs. I tell you, girls have this amazing ability to slither away from spotlight.
  • We went to Seychelles for honeymoon.
Some changes happen gradually. Sometimes you acknowledge a change is taking place but you don't realise the change until a particular moment. During oonjal ceremony, I looked at the huge gathering of people around us. Before me were persons who were involved in my life in various degrees - like my 2nd standard Sanskrit teacher, cousins I used to play with, classmates, my aunts, my mum - people who were in some way from my birth, childhood, till that point in my marriage played a part in me being the person I am. Looking at them, I felt stock of the changes that has happened in my life. Its moments like these in my wedding and other moments that I am unable to put in words, but are imprinted in my mind far better than any HD camera can record, that made my wedding a happy and emotionally satisfying experience.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

WACA


WACA
I was in Perth last week. I took the opportunity one afternoon to visit WACA. I was quite excited about the visit. I was in Perth CBD and the ground is within walking distance from there. As I approached the stadium, a flood of random memories and images relating to WACA came to mind...

Lillee 
Sachin's bestestestest Innings
Bounciest track on the planet
Long cracks on the pitch
Tony Grieg's lost key 
Curtly's 8-for
Gilly's marana adi to Flintoff & friends
Justin Langer
Sachin's upper cut over slips against Brett Lee 
Nammakal Anjaneyar's 381
Who on earth is Freemantle doctor?
McGrath's hatrick
Shane Warne c M Richardson b Vettori  99
A Parore, L Vincent, S Fleming make merry in '00 test.
India's test win in '08
Damien Martyn
SAffer's win in '08
...and some more

I checked WACA's website and booked in for the Ground tour and Cricket Museum.

WACA Cricket Museum

If you are a cricket lover, this cricket museum is a must-see. Of the things I saw, these stood out:

a. The Under-arm ball: They have the actual match ball bowled by Trevor Chappell. And just to rub it in, they had a Silver Fern cap and a NZ Cricket Blazer near the ball. Rascals!

b. The Bradman Room: WA seem to adore Bradman more than any other state. I've done the MCG tour, apart from the big statue outside the ground, MCG didn't have anything significant on Bradman. Here, there were several portraits, rare action shots, couple of his jerseys, his match caps, his handwritten letters, original newspaper banners, autographed bats and handwritten score-books of matches played by Don. Superb collection!

Bradman in a net session

Also one of WACA's hospitality room is named after him too. Though Don was a South Australian, WA seem to love him as their own.


c. The Indian Cricket Team: There were numerous memorabilia from each India Cricket team that had toured Australia over the years. I was pleasantly surprised to see photos, signed exhibits of the first India cricket team to visit Australia in 1946. I think the team was captained by Lala Amarnath. It was great to see such rare items preserved so well.

WACA Ground Tour

WACA is different from the test match venues I've seen in Australia. It is a relatively small ground, and unlike a MCG or SCG it does not have the "Colosseum feel" when you walk through the gates. WACA is laid back. There are two stands on each ends with a smattering of corporate boxes, on the sides are a grass-bank and a make-shift stand. The ground could really do with a renovation. WACA, in its current state, reflects the attitude of the place to a certain extent. The cricket in the middle is played the hard way, the fair chunk of general public who come in enjoy the sun & beer and aren't too fussed over overt comforts. No frills, just froth and some good cricket!

Here are some photos from the Ground tour:

Our Ground Tour guide looks at a photograph and reminisces the day when Aussies reclaimed the Ashes
Son of the soil: J L Langer

We were taken to home side's dressing room. They had this to warn players it is time to get on the field

WA Test Reps. Please whistle pottufy for M E K Hussey.

View from the WACA's visitors' dressing room
Western Australia's Team of the Century!

We were taken to 'Stump Lounge' which had a autographed stump from each Test played at WACA

We were taken onto the playing arena. It felt surreal to stand on the very place cricket legends have played.

It was the off-season, so we didn't see a proper cricket pitch. It felt good to stand in the middle of one of the historic test match venues in the world.

WACA pitch. Looked more like a pitch at Basin Reserve, Wellington, NZ.

AU$15 well spent! :-)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What is Kolaveri?


I don't own a house, yet. When I am ready for one, I would want to build it from scratch so I can mould it to suit my lifestyle and taste. I want to plan, design, choose every minute aspect of its look and feel, and watch it get built from ground up. Heck, if I am gonna be paying a ghastly 6-figure mortgage for the next couple of decades, might as well pay for the house I love, no?

Buck, a friend of mine, is an accountant cum part-time builder. He's a sort of a bloke companies like Hire A Hubby envy. Buck is currently renovating his place, I've volunteered to assist him and acquire some gyan about house-building, renovation etc.

Nothing, I thought, will be as hard, as we had spent a hot afternoon sitting in the roof (where the mercury stood at  outside temp + 30 degC) stuffing Pink Batts. The carpets were going to be laid the next day. So on night one, we moved all upstairs furniture from one side of the house to the other. The next day the carpet layers laid the carpet and we moved all the furniture back on to the new carpet, leaving the other side of the house empty and ready for the carpet layers next day. They arrived the next day with the news that they had come with a different coloured carpet because they ran out of carpet they had laid the previous day, so they had to rip up the already laid carpet which meant shifting ALL the furniture again. Aaaah, you get the picture?

And to add to the fury, apparently one of the carpet guys knew about the lack of stock, but carried on with the job because he thought he could source new stock from other carpet stores only to find later that none of them had that particular colour carpet! You know, sometimes my fellow citizens amaze me by how effortlessly they take slackery and incompetence to levels outside this universe.

I don't know what Dhanush was talking about in that song, but the emotion we felt that particular moment was what I'd call pure, unadulterated, Agmark-stamped Kolaveri. Thank God I didn't have my veecharuvaa, or else...

Monday, January 23, 2012

What's it like being Sachin

I got hold of Greg Chappell's autobiography, Fierce Focus, the other day. I skipped straight to the chapter that interested me the most - "Sourav and I". Ganguly-Chappell is easily the most talked about player-coach relationship in the game, so the chapter was an engrossing read and Chappell's account was frank and to the point. However, when I finished the chapter, one paragraph, no, one line, kept ringing in my head. It was a comment made by Sachin Tendulkar (marked below). 



Friends. He can probably count them on one hand. They say it's always lonely and cold on the top...how true! It's a curse of being the elite of the elitist. On one hand, he has a billion people who adore him; some name their kid after him; few even tattoo his autograph; he's the best in his field of work and probably has enough moolah for another 99 lifetime, but in reality what the man may actually yearn for is a normal life and a few more true friends.

Sigh. Such is life!


Aside:

I hope he gets that 100x100 monkey off his back in tomorrow's test at Bradman's hometown. He scored a ton last time India played a test at Adelaide. How fitting would it be if he does it again!

Go Sachin! :)

Alone in the cauldron. I took this pic when Sachin walked out to a standing ovation at the MCG on Day 2, Boxing Day Test 2011

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sliver of Green Glass


Pizza stone - Heard of it? No? Me too. This, until my good friend, James, called me at work on a Friday afternoon and asked if I want to come over for dinner as he's gonna inaugurate his partner's latest inspired purchase - pizza stone.

If you're still wondering what a pizza stone is - it's a hot plate that heats the pizza base, just like an oven. It's a neat replacement for an oven. Don't have an oven, still want to make pizzas? This is your tool.

I reached James's place. After chatting a bit, we rolled our sleeves and entered the kitchen. James's partner, Sarah, was happy that the boys were in the kitchen for a change and she was in the lounge watching TV with a glass of Shiraz. It was my first time making pizzas. Having flipped the odd Dosai at home with grace and panache, I thought making pizzas should be as easy as eating them. And it wasn't hard. James did most of the work by topping the pizza, all I had to do was take the pizza off the oven with the enormous spatula when the edges turned brown.

"Ah this must be the best bit...", I told myself as I slid the big spatula under the crusty brown base, expertly lifted it off the plate, turned towards the kitchen benchtop and....thwwap. I watched in disbelief as the friggin pizza landed face down on the kitchen floor!

Now.

When two men are at work in the kitchen, sudden silence means trouble. And women can somehow hear this loud silence very well.


"Howssit going?", Sarah enquired from the lounge.

"Er. Yea almost done. mm..lemme top up your glass", James said in a calm tone but a bit louder than normal and quickly walked out with bottle of Shiraz, his eyes still fixed on the bums-up pizza.

I immediately rescued the pizza. Removed chunks of pineapple, tomato paste, jalapeños, onions from the floor. I had to use the knife to remove the cheese as it stuck to the floor like a bubble gum. I redressed the pizza again but it still looked messed up. James and I made an echicootive decision to convert the vegetarian pizza into a Pepperoni Pizza so we can cover the messed up parts with Salami.

"All done. Ready!", James beamed as he walked into the lounge with two plates. One Pepperoni, and another Vegetarian pizza.

"Mmmm...yummm!", she said taking a bite.

Phew.

Later that evening, James and I were in the kitchen as he was doing the dishes. He picked up a green crystal bowl, held it, and just like that, it leapt from his hand and crashed onto the floor into several thousand pieces. He was holding it one moment, the next moment I watched the slow motion disaster unfold with my ever widening eyes.


Sarah was asleep upstairs. We thought she might've have heard it, but nope, no sign of her.

"Man. That bowl looked expensive. She's gonna be mad at you", I said.

"yea. We'll clean it up right. She wouldn't know"

"She'll know", I said grimly.

"Okay. Just dont say anything in the morning okay.."

We swept, re-swept the floor to remove any vestige of evidence. We ruled out vacuuming as the noise may wake up Sarah.

Next day morning.

Brunch over. I was solid, didn't say anything when the topic of pizza came up.

Then after a while, Sarah cornered James in the kitchen. "Okay. What happened here yesterday? "

"er..what?"

"Did you have an accident in kitchen?", she said giving him the look.

"We may have...why?", James said, his gaze shifted to me quickly and back to Sarah. I had the "I told you so" look.

"How did you know?", pleaded James.

"Well, you see that tiny shard of crystal at the corner of the pantry...that thing has been reflecting light from the kitchen".

"Ugh! You're good!", James said as he left the kitchen shaking his head.

Sarah will never find out about the pizza...um, until now.