Thursday, December 30, 2010

Luckkage

It's one of the loneliest feelings the world - the sense of abandonment that envelops you as you stand beside an empty luggage carousal. Half hour back, I was surrounded by my fellow passengers, watching expectantly at the mouth of the luggage carousal but standing well back to avoid being knocked down from those who believe if they miss to pick the luggage when it first appears it will be passed through the incinerator and set to fire. When their luggage does appear, they quickly haul it off the carousal with such a force and momentum enough to fell anyone on its way like a pin in a bowling alley.

So. I waited.

The carousal had spat out the suitcase of the lady who was in front of me in the check-in queue, I was hoping my bags would turn up any moment. However a familiar voice from the tiny recess of my mind said "Mmhmm. Avlodhaan. You ain't getting it today. They've sodhapified. Lodge a complaint and go home, boy". This voice, his name is Parattai, is almost always right.

There is a TV programme - Airport - it shows angry passengers who've been bumped off or had their flights cancelled or luggage lost having a real go at airline staff. Sitting on the couch, one may wonder: "Take it eazzy, you morons. What can the airline chick do? Not her fault!". Try telling to yourself as you stand in the luggage hall - a solitary, pathetic figure staring at the closed mouth of luggage carousal with open mouthed anticipation. There is always, however, one unclaimed bag, which goes round and round and its owner is probably waiting for it beside an empty carousal in Honolulu.

I woke up from the denial and went to the Airline Helpdesk. An irritatingly cheerful Customer Rep assured me that my bags would be on the next flight.

"But why wasn't it on my flight?"

"Sorry about that. Sometimes they're a bit slack in Wellington.", she said, beaming as if she's so proud of it.

"Yea. I see that. So I'll have my bags delivered home this evening then?"

"Um. No. You'd be getting it tomorrow, 10AM", she smiled. "At the latest", she added and did a quick flutter with her eye-lids and smiled even broadly.

"Look. I wouldn't be home then. I've got an appointment in the morning. I want my bag tonight. Please, do something about this. Help me out here!"

"Sorry..", she smiled, again, some of the fluorescent light bouncing off her teeth like a sunlight of a glacier. "we don't deliver after 7PM". I fought the urge to say Un moonjila yen peechan kaiya vekka.

I reached home and was awoken late in the night by a bang outside the door. It was my bag. "Yo. They said twas coming in the mor...". The delivery guy cut me off and grunted "I dunno mate. Sign here!". He quickly disappeared into the darkness after getting my autograph.

Ahhh. The good old Kiwi incompetence and rudeness. How nice it was to be back home :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Unseen Sea

The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen.

This is a collection of time lapses Simon took around the San Francisco Bay Area roughly shot over a period of one year.




Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sweat

pic courtesy MamaMandolin

An alarming sign has popped up at the entrance of my local gym. At first read, I broke into cold sweat. People - from boxers, rowers to weight lifters - are refused entry if they don't carry a sweat towel. Heh. So it is no longer appropriate to leave sweat in a place where you go to, well, raise a sweat. I would've shared my piece of mind with the burly receptionist if I hadn't been mopping my sweaty face with a kerchief for the fear of being marched out of the gym. Be gone, you sweaty man!
This isn't to say I am a gym junkie. I am not. This was my first visit in the last 3 weeks. I usually visit the gym to do a few laps in the swimming pool or if it's not very humid, maybe a few kms on the treadmill. I usually prefer to hit the pool. You can't dog paddle on the running machine, you see :)

Coming back to the towel issue, I feel slighted on behalf of my fellow blokes. We are fast becoming extinct, allowing the actions of over-zealous sanitary types to erode our natural environment. If we don't act soon, real men will be wiped off the planet by 2030, replaced by gormless, porcelain-like Robin Pattinson-types. Is that the kind of a 'man' the world wants? Some chicks may scream Yessss. But you see, less is not always more. I agree, sweat can be disgusting. No one would wants to see Miranda Kerr walking down the catwalk with a wet underarm patch. No one wants to have their bowl of soup dripped on or have their sandwich sogged up by a sweaty waiter. No one wants to be leaked on by a overheated commuter. On a hot humid day, our Kashkam can pose lots of kashtam for us.

But people and perspiration can live together. In harmony. In some case, it's a privilege. Try telling a ball kid that they are not to hold Rafeal Nadal's towel during a particularly tight 5-setter. I am sure they don't wanna be rushed off to be disinfected in a chemical bath. They wouldn't want to be washed for a week! I've always dreamed of being an Australian Open ball boy.

Take cinema. Sweat is an icon. Who else would pan slowly and purposefully on a worried actor's furrowed brow in a tense scene. Ask Ethan Hunt - sweat contributed to the suspense in that scene in Mission Impossible-1 where he dangled from the ceiling. Rocky, John McLain, why even our own Padayappa owes part of his good fortune to sweat. Thamizh makkal have paid him oru poun thanga kaasu for every thuli of his vervai. So why ban it from gyms? A wise man once said, If you cant handle the heat, you should get out of the kitchen. That may explain why there are many women-only gyms. Hm. Fair enough.

But now, the situation is dire. A species is at risk. Sweaty blokes belong to the gym. It's their jungle. If you don't like it, head to the swimming pool. One request: Make sure you take a leak before you take the plunge. Thank you :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Momentos - Kaatchipizhai

Momentos - Life's good

I got this video as a forward. It's only 7 mins long. There is no narrative, still it manages induce a myraid of emotions. I was touched. Check it out.

video


காட்சிபிழை - Parallax

A short film by Karthik Subbaraj.

video


Friday, July 16, 2010

Tagged: Gender Bender

Ashwin has tagged me. The tag asks me to list "my sins against gender stereotypes". Interesting. Well, here I go:

#1 I cannot cook if there are unwashed dishes in the kitchen sink. I have to do the dishes first before I start any cooking. The sight of unwashed dishes makes me uneasy. I live with 3 flatmates - one flatmate (a girl) is like me and the other two (both guys) think doing dishes more than once a week is a waste of time. Ever heard of kitchen wars? No? Come to my place to witness it live :-)

#2 When I was a kid I used to love having Mehndi applied on my hands. My mum was brilliant in Mehndi decorations that during wedding season we used to have Kalyana ponnus (brides) visiting our place to get Mehndi done. I used to patiently watch Amma do wonders with the Mehndi cone and occasionally help out by topping up the lemon solution (the soln enhances Mehndi colour on the skin). The last time I had Marudhani - not Mehndi cos there were no intricate shapes or patterns, only a circular mehndi patch on the centre of the palm - was during my poonal in 1997. I still have the temptation of having a kutti flower/pattern drawn on my palm whenever I see someone applying Mehndi.

#3 I like cats. Cats are cute but can be a beyatch sometimes. I hate it when people kick cats.

#4 Okay, I am not a soccer fan. The game doesn't excite me like Cricket, Tennis or Rugby Union. Till date I haven't sat through an entire soccer game. The teeny weeny interest I had in WC vanished when Maradona's team crashed out. Post Argentina's exit, I couldn't wait for WC to finish. I really need to watch some cricket to reset my system.

#5 Like #1, I need to have a CLEAN and ORGANISED desk before I start studying. Nothing goes into the brain when there is clutter before me.

#6 I don't watch horror movies. I don't like Sci-Fi either (with the exception of Matrix trilogy). But I lost count how many times I've watched Alaipayuthey, Forrest Gump, Kanda Naal Mudhal, One Fine Day, Hitch... yea, romantic comedies. I like'em.

#7 I hate cigarette smoke and smoker's shaakadai (stench of sewage) breath.

I've written 7 "sins". I'd like to pass this tag to 7 bloggers.

Archana
Nirmal
Pearls of Life
Foreign Desi
Venkatesh
Anjana
Gans

Thanks for the tag Ashwin :-)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ayers Rock


Uluru (Ayers Rock)

I visited Uluru (also called Ayers Rock) with my parents last week. Uluru is a huge sandstone formation in the middle of Australia. It is one of Australia's popular and most recognisable tourist destinations. Uluru is a UNESCO world heritage site and it is of immense cultural significance to the Aboriginal people. Below are some pictures I took during the trip.

Uluru at sunset.

This picture was taken ~10 minutes before sunset. Uluru is famous for changing colour at different times of the day due to changing lighting conditions. It offers a spectular sight at sunset and sunrise. I saw the rock change colour from rusty brown ->bright orange -> bright red -> pink (just before sundown).


~5 minutes before sunset. Uluru in a beautiful pink-orang-reddish glow.

~2 minutes to sunset. Pink.


My parents.


Uluru at sunrise.

It was unfortunately a cloudy morning so we couldn't see the sunrise. There aren't many cloudy days at Uluru. Thankfully the clouds were only sparsely scattered, so we could see the skies lit up in the early morning light.


...and it was a COLD morning. REALLY cold. The guide told us it was 4 deg C when we reached sunrise viewing area - a secluded sand dune. I did dress accordingly, but did not bring any gloves. I couldn't feel my fingers.

Sunrise viewing area. Desert awakening.


The desert road.
The Aussie outback is known for its Red soil. No wonder Northern Territory is called the The Red Centre.




Ayers Rock
Strong winds. Shucks! I badly wanted to climb the rock. Next time!

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

The other attraction near Uluru is Kata Tjuta (known as The Olgas). Kata Tjuta is a collection of dome-like rock formations. Kata Tjuta means "many heads". It is 50kms to the west of Uluru. Kata Tjuta is also very sacred to the local aboriginal people. Some rock formations were out of bounds because they aren't supposed to be viewed or photographed by the public.

Walpa Gorge walk


Kata Tjuta

Sound of Silence - Stargazing

We did a tour called Sound of Silence. The tour started out with viewing the Uluru and Kata Tjuta at sunset from a great viewing spot, then we walked to the dinner area in the middle of the desert for a candle-lit three-course buffet (the main items were Kangaroo burgers, Crocodile meat, Barramundi Fish fry and Lamb Chops. Being vejjitarians, we had to settle for a onju pona pasta and salad. Hmph. The outback is not a good place to be a vegetarian). While we were getting ready to have desserts, suddenly all the lights were turned off. We were in the middle of nowhere and it was pitch dark. Just then, an astronomer introduced himself and gave us a tour of the southern night sky. In the darkness, the night sky was a breathtaking sight. Just...wow! We could see so many stars, I could clearly see the Milky way spread across the wide horizon.

The astronomer showed us the following:

a. Zodiac signs. Signs like Capricorn, Scorpio, Aries were easy to recognise. Certain zodiac signs required us to use extensive imagination to recognise them from cluster of stars.

b. Southern Cross. The astronomer told us how ancient explorers and native Aboriginal people used Southern Cross for navigation. He showed us how to determine which direction is south by applying simple trigonometry on Southern Cross. Very neat!

c. There were two telescopes from which we could see Saturn and the Butterfly cluster. I've never seen Butterfly cluster before. It was a beauty!

d. Nebulae, Venus & Mars.

It was a fantastic night. I'd do Sound of Silence again just to gaze at the stars in pitch darkness.

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Press Photo '10

I went to World Press Photo '10 - the annual exhibition of photojournalism presenting the best press photos of 2009. It is the leading international competition in press photography receiving over 100,000 photos from more than 5000 professional photographers around the world.

This is my first time attending World Press Photo. It's a unique exhibition solely dedicated to excellence in photo journalism. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Stunning photos! The images of certain photos are still etched in my mind. Almost all the photos struck a chord, some were emotionally engaging. Some photos touched me, some leapt out of the wall and grabbed me by the throat. It was intense!

On the whole, the essence of the photos was more than just a story or message. They made me think and I guess that is one of photojournalist's intentions.

While going through the exhibition gallery, I struck a conversation with a gentleman. Before I spoke to him I noticed he had a Canon 5D. Canon 5D *drool*. It is a beast of a camera. So when Robert introduced himself I wasn't surprised to hear he was a professional photographer based in UK. Robert is an experienced fashion photographer. His work has appeared in some of leading magazines/Ads. We looked at some photos together and he shared his thoughts on them. I was fascinated with the way he analysed and critiqued photos. Robert's opinion was different to mine. Any photo is open to variety of interpretation and perceptions but Robert saw aspects of photo which I never knew existed. I have no knowledge on press-photography or photojournalism, so I listened, taking in what I can and asked him questions. From his comments, I learnt and was able to appreciate the difference between conventional photography & press photography and what makes a photojournalist what he is.

Robert made several valid points on photojournalism. In conventional photography, when you strip away the tech side of things, it boils down to 2 things: subject and timing. Timing, he said, like most things in life, is paramount and probably the hardest to get right. It involves a bit of luck. In photojournalism, where "visual" reporting is the primary focus, timing is just one of the aspects. Here almost anything can be the subject as long it befits the story the journalist is covering. The aspect where a journalist differentiates from others is his ability to add a context, a nuance, which creates another voice, another layer to the story, another parallel the viewer can relate to, a visual justification providing testament to power of a moment. Creme da la creme photojournalists explore the depth of visual reporting by doing the above consistently. It's their photos we get to see in events like World Press Photo.

I am glad I took the initiative to talk to Rob. You can never go wrong talking to a Pro. Can you? An afternoon well spent :-)

Below are some of the winning photos for different categories.



From the rooftops of Tehran - World Press Photo of the year 2009


At first look, I didn't think much of this photo. This isn't the most stunning picture in the gallery. But it won. After reading the caption, I realised this was not just another photo of the Iranian post-election protest. It shows many things simultaneously - like, the kind of people protesting, they way they protest, even the time of the day. Women shouting from rooftops literally! All in one shot. Its a good picture but I wouldn't have voted it for the top prize.



Trott, run out. 5th Test. Ashes '09. Ahh!


Moments before Oath taking ceremony.

A jewish man throws wine at Palestine women, Hebron


Shelling at Gaza




Check out 2010 Winners gallery here.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thunnnk!

August 1996. Srivilliputhur, Thamizh Nadu.

Srivilliputhur Andal Kovil was one of the pit stops en route in our annual visit to Kutralam. While the rest of the folks (parents, athai & cousins) were in the temple, I was with Athimber observing him as he tweaked a few things under the bonnet of his most beloved white Ambassador car. We took the car to a mechanic shop in the outskirts of Srivilliputhur for a precautionary check. The mechanic was away and the fierce sun drove us to the tree shade right beside the highway. It was a typical rural highway - narrow and rutted. There was no traffic in the highway apart from 2 yellow trucks coming from opposite directions. Both truck drivers would've watched each other approach and would soon manoeuvre to pass, or so we thought. CRASH! They drove into each other. I couldn't believe my eyes. How could they do it? I thought.


May 2010. Sunshine State, Australia.

The above incident was far removed from my mind as I clipped my helmet and set forth on the long overdue ride in my mountain bike. Having pigged out a LOT in the recent India trip, a few kilograms need to be shed.

So there I was riding along in quiet backstreets of my suburb. I settled into a neat rhythm, legs pumped steadily, I took breaths in regular intervals, eyes transfixed on the road...all motions reached equilibrium as I peddled in a lively speed.

After a brief ride in the main roads, I reached one of the posh suburbs of the city. The best way to explore a suburb is to do so on a bike. I pedaled along in one of quiet backstreets checking out the real estate. It was an interesting suburb and I had my own running commentary inside my head...

"some people's taste is really in their bum. I mean, wad is this! " as I went past a bungalow hideously painted in purple. Purple!

"and look at that", I muttered gazing at a monstrosity which looked like a cross between a mausoleum and The White House.

"Indha kezhavikku yedhuku singaaram (Why beautify an old lady)", I quipped (to myself) at a few dudes painting an old house.

Feeling smug about the cosy Queenslander I live in, I pedalled along hearing the soothing rrrrr sound of the tyre as it rolled on the rubberised road, checking out the periodic reflection of sunlight on the chrome spokes and then suddenly there was a "Thunnnnk". I was lying on the road.

It was a long straight road. There was only one car parked on it. Only one car. Lost in my trance, I had pedalled straight into it.

I stood up, gathered myself. My mind/conscience was laughing out loud at me "Kadavul kuduthaar paar! Hahahah!" (God gave you that. Hahaha!)

A thought struck me. Perhaps the lady of the purple house or the grandma living in the Mausoleum-WhiteHouse watching me would've thought: Any moment he is gonna change course and go around that car. Any moment. No he is not. No! The idiot rode straight into it!

I did.

--

I've been away for a while. Thanks to those who keep checking this blog occasionally. I hope to post more often. Thanks for visiting :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tiger is not out of the woods yet

So, he is back eh.

Tiger is out of the cage. He racked up a dozen porn stars and waitresses. But he will be received as a hero when he returns to the fairway next month. All is either have been, or will be, forgotten and forgiven. Tiger's personal life is none of my business. It should neither be yours or the media. The thought that irk me is: is it not unfair that celebrities especially sportstars are given a little bit more leeway than the common man? Just because they play professional sport should not mean they are not expected to uphold the same standards and abide by laws of general society. Tiger apologises and says something like "The only clubs I know from now on are the ones I used to hit the golf balls with. Even if I cheat, it'll only be in golf. Golf is after all only a game. Family life is not, like I found out in the last few months. Thank you very much.". We croon and cringe hearing the apology and forgive too easily. If a common man, Joe Bloggs, had done what Tiger did, would you expect his partner to take him back? Would you take back a partner who has had extra-marital affair with a dozen people?

Recently, Michael Clarke has been blasted from pillar to post for leaving the Australian cricket team during their New Zealand tour to support his girlfriend. He has been criticised by many for having his priorities out of order. But there is no doubt, if Clarkey comes out on Friday and blasts a century in the first test against the Kiwis, all will be forgotten & forgiven. Had Joe Nallathambi - our common man - abandoned his mates on a trip for a girlfriend who is clearly not dying or remotely sick, wouldn't he cop it big time?

I am all for forgiving. I believe in giving people a second chance. But I do not understand the disparity between treatment meted out to celebrities and the rest of us. Hell, they are not that special!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The days without her

The last time it happened, I was a final-year University student. It was during exams - the time I needed her the most. But I lost her. She slipped out somehow. I felt handicapped in her absence. Maybe she was fed up with me. Probably pissed off with my incessant requests and favours. I dunno. I was looking for her everywhere like Moondram Pirai Kamal searching for the mentally-challenged Sridevi. Remember that scene? Balu Mahendra was a legend. Like that scene in Moondram Pirai, my search for her had a happy ending. I got her back when I heard the librarian read out her name over the PA system asking her to be collected. The librarian added in her usual grumpy tone that her owner has kept THE most annoying ringtone she has ever heard. My cell-phone. My darling. I got her back then.

Fast forward 3 years...

This time I left her in the cab. I perhaps didn't search for her like Moondram Pirai Kamal...but it was more like Nagarjuna in Idhayathai Thirudathey. I hopped from one place (read: cab office) to another in a Jeep till late in the night searching for my 97-gram chellam. The only thing that lifted my spirits after going through buckets of ownerless phones was the realisation that I wasn't the only idiot to leave a mobile phone in a taxi. There are bucket loads of us!

The next day I decided to punish myself by not rushing out and buying another handset. Suddenly phoneless I wondered how I'd cope. I felt uneasy to step out of the house. It felt like going out without any pants on. Still, I ventured out. Every now and then, I'd tap my pant pocket to check for the non-existing phone. oh yes. no phone. yea, fantastic!

The following day, I felt slightly liberated. I slowly found out why. Firstly, I didn't have to worry about answering calls when I was in the Mens room. I strongly I believe I share a toilepathic connection with most people who have my mobile number. The blimming thing, yes my mobile, would stay quiet for hours on my desk and ring the moment I step into echo chamber that is the office loo. "Hi! yes. I am good thanks. Hey, listen, umm...can I call you right back? I may sound as if I am speaking sitting inside a big empty drum or something, but I'm actually in the toilet". The caller would pause momentarily, then mumble an apology while my mind will go into overdrive imagining the caller rushing off to wash their hands. Ahh..personal hygiene. I likey!

The urge to check for txts and missed calls every 3.12 minutes remained, but with no mobile, it was slowly but surely fading.

While travelling to work next day, I couldn't help but to observe the mobile in everyone. I saw people in the streets, in the train, with their hands clasped to their ears. I experienced a feeling of disconnection. It felt like I was living in a bubble. A strange sense of freedom enveloped me. I floated like a butterfly basking in this glorious isolation. It was a curiously gratifying sensation!

On a serious note, I got my mobile back the next day. Thanks to the gentleman who returned it. Mate, you are a gem!


--

Aside:

After linking the clip from Moondram Pirai in the first para, I watched the whole movie again. I am glad I did. Watta masterpiece by Balu Mahendra. I heard Kamal Hassan won a National award for it but Sridevi didn't. Even the Kamal fan in me reckons Sridevi deserved the award more than Kamal. She was simply brilliant as Viji. Perhaps people were bowled over by Kamal's performance in the climax scene. Honestly, I cant think of any current Indian actress who could match or better Sridevi's performance. Ms Mukharjee? or Mrs Saravanan? Hmm...I doubt it.

Like every blue-blooded Kannadasan fan, I love Kanne Kalaimaaney song for its lyrics. However, I like Poongatru Pudhidhanadhu song better both for its music & visuals. It does not have profound lyrics like Kanne Kalaimaane. But there is something about this song - is it Ilaiyaraja's music or Yesudas's voice or Balu Mahendra's photography or cute moments like where Sridevi tries to listen to the train sound from thandavaalam (railway track) through Kamal's ears...I dont know. The whole package...it's just beautiful.



video



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Madras return

I am back. I want to write on many things about the India trip but I am not sure where to start. I'll use this post to write a follow-up to the wishlist I wrote almost a year back.

Life is a journey that takes you to places. But, when it takes you to the same place again where you took that all important first step, there is a certain magic to it. It is a special feeling. I felt that during this trip.

Going through the wishlist...

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Hindu & Filter Coffee - check


I must admit I found Times of India more interesting and informative than Hindu. Reading Hindu of today was like having filter coffee with very little dicoction. Not strong enough!

Also, the newspaper delivery guy gave me a weird look when I asked him for Gokulam. Wonder what happened to that lovely magazine.


Madras Music Season

Didn't attend any kacheris. I reached Madras after the music season got over. There were few Kacheri held at random places. I wanted to attend concerts by top artists (Sanjay Subramanian, Aruna Sairam, Nithyashree etc). And I neither had the time nor the patience to sit through any thenga moodi kacheris.


Talk to the old kids - check

I spent quality time with my grandparents. I have the coolest Paati in the world and we spent a lot of time together. Whether it was accompanying her in morning walk to the Theosophical Society, or helping her (err...read mostly talking and doing nothing) in the kitchen, or learning to make the perfect kashayam...we had an awesome time.

There were a few old kids whom I found it very difficult to say bye to. They are in the late evening of their life.


Theosophical Society & Adyar Broken Bridge - check check

Adyar Broken Bridge

I visited TS numerous times with Paati in our morning walks. One morning we walked till Adyar Broken bridge to watch the sunrise. It was a cloudy morning unfortunately. We sat on the bridge admiring the views. The Broken bridge is an idyllic place to see the confluence of three elements: the urban nature, the city's past and its present. The Adyar river estuary was dotted with heaps of white storks and other native birds. It was beautiful.

Being an alumnus of Chettinad Vidyashram, I was a bit sad to see Chettinad palace being dwarfed by all those huge buildings beside it (in MRC Nagar). The palace used to look majestic on the banks of Adyar river. She was quite a sight when seen from Thiru Vi Ka bridge. As a kid, I used to point at the palace and proudly tell my visiting cousins "anga dhaan da yen school iruku. Madras-liye enga school dhaan perusu!"

Taken from the broken bridge. The Adyar river estuary was dotted with heaps of white storks.


Gangothree - check.

Archana, you were right about Gangothree.


Riding in Chennai
- check

It took me one ride from Adyar to Mylapore to adjust to Chennai traffic. I was given a crash course by my cousin on how to handle Maama, just in case if I get caught for riding without a driver license. I was reminded that Driver license doesn't necessarily be the ones issued by RTO office. Other handoverable license exist particularly those thin leaves from RBI which has Gandhi thatha's megawatt smile printed on it.

It was fun not to follow any rules and ride with gay abandon. Chennai traffic is lot more tolerable than Mumbai traffic. Unlike Bombay, most motorcyclists in Chennai wear helmets. And boy some helmets look real flashy and cool.

(Very very) busy roads like Arcot Road need to be studied by Road Engineers on how all types of motorists, pedestrians and other creatures can share a small, pathetic strip of thar and still manage to move about.

Some cyclists - mainly thundu pasanga (teenage boys) - punch above their weight. This incident happened at Greams Rd (near Iyyapan kovil at RA puram). A thundu paiyan (one of the dangerous species on the road) was simply cycling along. Upon seeing a girl riding an Activa, he suddenly started to peddle away like crazy to reach the same speed as her. Once he was cycling beside the girl, thala gives this paathiyaa-na-cycle-liye-un-speed-la-ottaren look at the girl. She kept going at the same speed. After 75-100 metres of this madness, traffic came in from RK Mutt-Greams Rd intersection (near Govt. Music college). Thundu paiyan's brakes weren't in top condition I think. He narrowly missed colliding into an Auto rickshaw. Thundu deservingly got Archanai'd by the Auto driver. The Auto driver exercised his sweacabulary to the max by questioning/doubting Thundu paiyan's family tree.

Thundu paiyan
, with his rickety bicycle, did everything he could to die that day.


Drink goli soda - check.

I couldn't get Goli soda in Chennai. I tried in a few potti kadai's and grocery shops at Adyar, Mandaveli & KK Nagar. Finally managed to get Paneer Soda at Swamimalai, Kumbakonam.

Manga & cholam at Besant Nagar Beach - check

My younger brother claims he should be credited for this pic because it was his idea . I dont agree with him, but I accept his claim. So there!



Pattam vidardhu (Flying kites)

The only pattam people were talking about is MBA at top B-schools.


Kalyana sapaadu (Lunch at weddings) - check

Attended my cousin's wedding and vettu-vettufied the lunch. Apart from the usual items, speciality items like Coconut poli and Avul payasam (Avul = Poha) were served. The taste was divine. By the time more (buttermilk) was served, cousin and I weren't able to sit erect. Cook Jagadeesan Iyer simbly rocks!.

The South Indian community here could do with people like Jagadeesan Iyer. Usually, food for weddings/poonals is catered by an Indian restaurant or a random chef who doesn't know the difference between appam and adhirsam (or between badushah and basandi). So the food ends up tasting a bit better than Raj Takeaways down the road.

After reading Kavi's post, I re-realised there is something about having food served on a vaazha yela (plantain leaf). It may be a bit slippy-sloppy but it beats having lunch served on a small plastic plate with Raita served on top of Channa masala due to space constraints.

--

I visited most of the famous temples in TN - Meenakshi Amman Kovil at Madurai, Brihadeeswara Kovil at Thanjavur, Chidambaram, Srirangam, Swamimalai, Gunaseelam, Samayapuram....and other lesser known temples which are vishesham for Pithrus (for my late Grandma)

Taken at Madurai Meenakshi Kovil

At Trichy, I visited a Shiva temple at Thiruvanaikaval (near Srirangam). Outside the temple, there were shops selling various items for the deity. One of them was the flower shown below. Do you know the name of this flower? It seems this flower is sacred because it has a shape of a serpent and legend has it that they once found a Shiva lingam inside the flower!


Do you know the name of this flower?


So, it was a great trip. I am glad I went with my parents. Had I gone alone (or with friends), I doubt I would've visited so many wonderful places in mainland TN. Looking forward to the next trip :-)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Madras

pic courtesy - Indian Backpacker
Happy New year! :D

2010. This is a big year for me. There are lots of things set to happen on many fronts. One of the 'happenings' is the India trip. I fly out to India next week. I am visiting Madras after seven years. 7 years. Long time. Over the past few days, memories from my childhood & early teenage, images of Coimbatore and Madras of 1990s have been swirling in my mind. A quiet excitement is bubbling within me. When I booked the flight tickets in May I told myself not to daydream about the India trip as the trip is far away. Now, with the D-day only a few days away, it is yet to sink in that I am actually going back home. The trip seems so surreal.

The 4 week trip is packed with events, rituals (for my late Grandma) and meetings with rellies/friends over many cups of filter coffee, lunches and dinners. I am really looking forward to it. However, I am also a bit nervous, a little anxious as to what to expect. 7 years may not be a very long time to be away from a place. However, with Madras, it seems like an eternity to me. "Lots of things have changed", they say. "Dei. This place is not as you knew it. Neeye vandhu paaru". Time changes many things. From the look of the place to the outlook of people. The question is to what extent I can identify & relate the present Madras to the Madras I knew from 1999. Once I do that, the extent of changes my friends were talking about will start to hit me.


Yea, whatever. As long Saravana Bhavan serves crispy Masala Dosai, the waves still foam up the shores of Elliots beach, North Mada Street is still as crowded as it used to be, Grand Snacks still makes kick-ass poli, we are able to play Street cricket without Visu Mama growling at us, and I do all the things that I planned to do, I am a happy chappie!

Madras, here I come :D