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.

Pearls of Life
Foreign Desi

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.! 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.