I also opine on:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Blogathon Post 14: The Questionable dilemma

 R's Mom had done a series of posts on answers to some "whys" here and here. My son , unlike other kids, does not ask 'Why'. He asks "Where". All the freaking time.
Take this for example:
"So, The Cindrella goes to the birthday party...""Where?""to the birthday party.""Where?""At the prince's house.""Where?""In a castle in Chennai."
 You get the gist right?
So, keeping the essence of RM's posts, answer the following "Where"s to the best of your abilities (no obvious answers please!):

1. "Let's put on socks now". "Where?"
2. "Let's go and fly kites.". "Where"
3. "You know what time it is?". "Where?"
4. "Did you see the moon?" "where?"
5. "So the first pig built his house with straw..." "Where?"
6. "And then Bambi grew up..." "Where?"
Looking forward to the answers already!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blogathon Post 13: Clients say the darndest things

I love my job - not only because it is intellectually satisfying and lets me practice my introvert-ism, but also, because it provides some really good laughs.
Following are some of the utterance by clients:
"This discussion guide is so good and thorough, that I am sure that you have not done it by yourself."
"You are very pursuasive, aren't you?"
"I felt like you were telling me a story, until you interrupted it with a question".
"Oh you are from India. You guys have a great cricket team."
"Do you have openings in your office?"
"Its Doctor, not Mister."
"You are an Indian? But you speak English so well".

I kid you not - I have not even rephrased any of the above.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blogathon Post 12: The Gifting Theory

It was meant to be a routine interview with an expert to understand the market. Of course, there was one difference - the person was a government employee.
My colleague and I were well prepared for the interview, until our manager sent us an SMS. 
"Buy a gift for the person and make sure it is a good one."
"Like Sweets?" We texted back.
"No, like expensive stuff" He replied, giving us a budget.
Clueless, we bought some quality stationary for him and conducted the interview. 
Post that session (which went well BTW), pulling our manager's leg, we exclaimed sarcastically, "So, that was unexpected."
He said, "Don't blame me! He called up asking if you guys will be bringing a gift or not.".
To say that we were surprised is putting it mildly.

I have been raised by an idealistic couple who placed a lot of importance to ethics and morality, more so than tradition and culture. My father, though a Government servant all his life, has not taken a single bribe. Though he did get these 'gifts' - of sweet packets and stuff, it didn't stop him from doing his job, which he believed very strongly in (he was in IT, PF and Pension departments through his career span). 

So, my dad accepted gifts without doing anything in return. Without experience, I am not sure whether the asking of gifts (and not money) in return for some information (Which is supposed to be part of the public domain) should be considered as a bribe or not. But the audacity of the asking for it, like a kid asking for a return gift in a birthday party, stumps me.

Have you had similar experiences?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Blogathon Post 11: The Dream Book Shelf

Most of us have a dream home - I have a dream book shelf. The shelf would be of rich solid dark wood,which would cover one side of the wall of the study room. There would be enough room for each book and each section to standout and to breathe. Needless to say, apart from the books and probably a chair or two to sit in and read, the room wouldn't have anything else. Something like this:

Obviously, the books will be categorized and organized into the following:

Margaret Mitchell: Gone with the Wind
Nora Roberts: All of hers

Thrillers-Nail Biting:
Sidney Sheldon: Tell Me your Dreams, If Tomorrow Comes, The Stars Shine Down
Michael Crichton: The Lost World
Stieg Larsson: Millenium Series
Arthur Hailey: Detective, Runway zero-eight

Thrillers - Languine and Intelligent:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes 
Edgar Allan Poe: Any of his
Agatha Christie: Hercule poirot series
Oscar Wilde: THe Picture of Dorian Gray

Fantasy Fiction:
Tolkien: LOTR Series
R.R.Martin: Game of Throne Series
J.K.Rowling: Harry Potter Series

Mythology/Historical Fiction:
Chitra Bannerjee Devakaruni: A Palace of Illusions
Amish Tripathi: Shiva Trilogy
Devdutt Patnaik: Sita
Christian Jacq: The TutanKhamun Affair
Margaret Atwood: Alias Grace

Beauty of written word:
Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses and Midnight's Children
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas

Love for details:
Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace
Arthur Hailey: Hotel, Airport,  MoneyChangers, Wheels
Robin Cook: Any of his, especially Brain

Re-living childhood:
Enid Blyton: Famous Five Series
Enid Blyton: The Six Cousins

Shed a Tear or Two:
Daphne De Maurier: Rebecca and The Hungry Hill
Rohinton Mistry: A Fine Balance
Khaled Hosseini: The Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed

Witty reads:
John Irving: The World According to Garp
Ken Kesey: One flew over the cuckoo's nest
Nora Roberts: Any of hers would do.
Santosh Desai: Mother Pious Lady
Steve Toltz: Fraction of the Whole
Bill Watterson: Calvin & Hobbes

I have read all of the above books more than once, and still can't get enough of them. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blogathon post 10: The written word

While cleaning the cup-board in the morning, I found this: a letter that I had written to A in 2008.

After spending few joyous minutes wondering about the contents, my favorite pen (Waterman!) and the mood while writing the letter, it was a bittersweet realisation that the letter writing habits have diminished over time. Scrap the fancy word, they are practically non-existent now. 

Whose letters have made your memory? Mine have been made by Suba, my BFF who meticulously wrote letters detailing out most of the school incidents and Aarthi, who would end all of hers with cartoons and jokes.

Good 'ol times!!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Blogathon Post 9: Dreaming a reality

I have a lot of dreams. There is the dream to overcome road-fear and re-learn driving. The dream to finally be a better swimmer. The dream to do some DIY decorations at home. The dream to make that Agra, Amritsar, Kanha, Sundarbans and Tadoba trip which have already been planned to some extent. The dream to quit this and do what I want to do (yes I know, and it is not impressive to many, except me). I know very few people who act on making theirs a reality. They get bogged down by the lack of time, energy, concentration, and also, money. I am one of those who has an excuse for every unrealised dream. 

Which is why, it is immensely heartening to see my mentor (and relative), Ranga, taking his dreams by its horns. He just thought a bit differently: He thought of the ultimate goal of the dream and started from there. For example, few years back, I remember him wondering how it would feel to see his books in crossword or landmark. Few months back, He was determined to help the painters who paint on the street for few coins. Stringing the two together, he has come up with an innovative idea. You can check it out here:
It would be great, if you can contribute, if not monetarily, through your words and a virtual pat on the back! :)

If you have similar stories to share, I would love to hear them!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Blogathon Post 8: And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini

I haven't written a book review in a year, and ever since I read this book, I knew I wanted to re-start writing with this.
I wrote multiple versions of the review, and deleting all of them, since
  • Hosseini is my favorite author.
  • No words can do justice to his writing.

Here is my attempt to at least chronicle the experience of reading one of his works.
And the Mountains Echoed
First Published in: 2013
The third book by Khaled Hosseini is set in Afganistan, and revolves around the story of a brother-sister duo, which later branches out to introduce multiple characters of the plot.

Simple-Wordy, Serious

Fiction, Drama


No Profanity at all.

Favorite Quote:
Kabul is a thousand tragedies per square mile.

The book starts with a father telling their children a fairy tale. While one would expect a "and they lived happily ever after' at the end of it, being Hosseini's work, this tale moved me to tears, and set the mood for the rest of the book..

The essential core of the story is the relationship between Abdullah and Pari, where the latter is sold off to a rich and childless couple Mr.Wahdati and Nila, through the siblings’ uncle, Nabi. The parting of the siblings, while not described in detail, is explained by their step-mother, Parwana, in just a few words:
“It had to be her. I am sorry, Abdullah. She had to be the one.” The finger cut, to save the hand.
Worse yet is how the story pans out. While Abdullah, the doting brother, does not have it in his capacity to forget her, Pari, quickly moves on owing to her age and a new exciting life. For her, Abdullah is a dim memory, which would strike her again in full force in her old age.

Hosseini takes periodic diversions to include the fringe characters (which don't seem like fringe once you are done with the chapter, at least until one starts reading the next one). Thus, we get to know about their mother Parwana, and her insecurities with her sister Masooma; the insecurity with started during birth:
(Masooma) was merrily passed around, from cousin to aunt to uncle. Bounced on this lap, balanced on that knee. Many hands tickled her soft belly. Many noses rubbed against hers. They rocked with laughter when she playfully grabbed Mullah Shekib’s beard. They marveled at her easy, sociable demeanor. They lifted her up and admired the pink flush of her cheeks, her sapphire blue eyes, the graceful curve of her brow, harbingers of the startling beauty that would mark her in a few years’ time. As Masooma performed, Parwana watched quietly as though slightly bewildered, the one member of an otherwise adoring audience who didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Every now and then, her mother looked down at her, and reached to squeeze her tiny foot softly, almost apologetically.

The insecurity, in time, had ghastly consequences – the events penned down in such a way that you end up feeling sorry for both of them, and their loss of innocence.

We are mystified over Mr.Wahdati's marriage with Nila (Pari's adoptive parents), until we understand the meaning of Nila’s mysterious statement: "It was always you Nabi".

We find out about Mr.Wahdati's neighbours Idris and TImur and their visit to Afganistan where they meet Roshi, a victim of a bad accident. While we believe one to be worse over the other for his show of exhibitionism, we are made to realise that it is this poorly judged character that actually ends up doing a good deed. The concerned one, who starts making excuses for his lack of inaction justifies it such: 
Roshi has become something abstract to him, like a character in a play. Their connection has frayed. The unexpected intimacy he had stumbled upon in that hospital, so urgent and acute, has eroded into something dull. The experience has lost its power. He recognizes the fierce determination that had seized him for what it really was, an illusion, a mirage. He had fallen under the influence of something like a drug. The distance between him and the girl feels vast now. It feels infinite, insurmountable, and his promise to her misguided, a reckless mistake, a terrible misreading of the measures of his own powers and will and character. Something best forgotten. He isn’t capable of it. It is that simple. 

Not to be left behind, we are given a glimpse of life in the siblings' village, through the eyes of the Adel, son of a wealthy landlord who attains the lands through unethical means, and how Adel ends up adjusting to the truth.
The part of him that over time would gradually, almost imperceptibly, accept this new identity that at present prickled like a wet wool sweater. Adel saw that, in the end, he would probably accept things as his mother had. Adel had been angry with her at first; he was more forgiving now. Perhaps she had accepted out of fear of her husband. Or as a bargain for the life of luxury she led. Mostly, Adel suspected, she had accepted for the same reason he would: because she had to. What choice was there?

Hosseini has used different forms of narratives in this book. There is first and third person narrative, letter-writing and interviews to bring the pieces of the puzzle together. The novel is completely different from his previous two due to the broader focus. While The Kite Runner was essentially about children and The Thousand Splendid Suns, about Women in Afganistan, And The Mountains Echoed lacks a central character theme. It could have been set up in any country in any part of the world. There are stories of every character, which, though tied together by some common threads, could make for an independent reading as well.

None of this dilutes the fact that it is impossible to read the book without getting emotional, at one story or another. And that like his previous books, you can never get your mind off it, even months after reading it.

It would be a cardinal sin for anyone to not read it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Blogathon Post 7: You know you are a south-Indian when you:

  1. Can survive on home-brewed coffee dicoction for days on end.
  2. Skip a heartbeat or two on hearing "Kurai Ondrum Illai".
  3. Had a crush on Aravind Swamy.
  4. Are possessive about SPB, AR Rahman, Asin and Siddharth. 
  5. Get used to:
    1. explaining our different name spellings - "Yes, there is an 'h' in there. No, we don't have an 'h' in everything".
    2. retorting on - "You don't look like a South Indian".
    3. busting the myth of "I thought South Indians had curd rice everyday."
  6. End up having Pongal, Idli and Dosa for breakfast every other day, whether you like it or not.
  7. Enjoy educating, and giving the recipe of dosai molagai podi.
  8. Have at least 10 relatives in IT and/or settled abroad.
  9. Believe that South Indian Marriage food/Kalyana Sapadu is beyond comparison to that of any other region/community. 
  10. Think that if it is a saree, it should be kancheepuram silk.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Blogathon Post 6: Top 15 Book-ish Moments

The simplest of  books can pack a very impactful moment or two. While the book as a whole may have been forgotten (or moth eaten), a single line, para or scene remains etched in our memories forever. 

My personal top 15 such scenes include:
1. Gone with the wind: 
Scarlett O'Hara tearing the curtain to make her dress.
In the very first scene, Scarlett sitting with the twins in the sunlight.

2. Rebecca:
Maxim patting his wife's head absent-mindedly (like one would pat a puppy).

3. A Thousand Splendid Suns: 
The ceasarean birth of the protaganist's son without an Anaesthetic

4. Kite Runner:
The protaganist finally finding the boy in ghonngroo n dancing.

5. And The Mountains echoed: 
The separation of the brother and the sister.
The final scene - Alzheimer's is my worst fear, second only to paralysis.

6. The Lord Of The Rings: 
Legolas seeing the Balrog for the first time ("Ui! Ui! A Balrog!").
The Ent's song.

7. Game of Thrones:
Jaime's multiple utterances of "Things I do for love", each having a different context and meaning.
The death of Tywin Lannister.
Cersei's walk of shame, and the final scene between Petyr, Sansa and Lysa in Ice & Fire

8. Tell me your dreams:
The realisation by the investigators that that all the three are actually... the same. 

9. The Satanic verses:
Eating the fish - bones and all.
The "Taka Tun Taka Tun" Song by Gabriel as he falls.

10.A Fine Balance:
The worm in the stomach, it's extradition and the final weight gain. (For a long time, I believed I had the same issue)

11. The Picture of Dorian Grey:
The disposal of the body so that no trace of it remained - I thought it was a creative leap by the author, until "Breaking Bad" happened.

12. Twilight:
The first time Bella saw Edward - Nowhere close to my love story, but in a parallel world, I can imagine being that smitten by Ashwin since he is like the epitome of my dream man.

13. One hundred years of solitude:
The trail of blood - Such a fantastical (and creepy) notion.

14. The Six Cousins:
Rodderick's shoe cleaning obsession - I have a similar obsession, so can imagine why Roddy enjoyed it so much!

15. The world according to Garp:
The car accident - I just couldn't get over it, close second to the Thousand Splendid Suns scene which gave me a lot of sleepless nights.

Are there any that stand out in your memory?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Blogathon Post 5: A Picture speaks a thousand Posts

So, spotted in a hospital run by a trust with a Christian Malayali majority, was this sign:

Makes one wonder what prompted this, doesn't it?!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blogathon Post 4: The Train Retorts

We get to hear the weirdest things in train, and better yet, say the most shocking things before we can stop ourselves. Here are some common phrases said and heard:
  • Bachon ke saath chadte kyun ho? (Why do you board train with kids?)
  • Bewakoof ho kya? (Are you dumb?)
  • Itna chipakne mei kya mazaa aata hai? (What pleasure do you get out of gluing yourself to me?)
  • Sab jaanwar banein to jarrori nahi na ki hum bhi ban jaayein.(If others are behaving like animals, doesn't mean that we behave like one.)
  • Baal aage le loh, meri naak mei jaa raha hai. (Keep your hair in front - it's getting in my nose.)
  • Arre, upar to pakad lo - mei armrest thodi na hun? (I am not your armrest - hold the links above.)
  • Itne aaram se baithe ho, chai laaon kya?? (Sitting so comfortably, shall I bring tea for you??)
  • Haath Neeche! (Hands down!)
  • Joote utar ke paav seat pe rakho Aunty! (Keep your leg on the seat after removing slippers Aunty.)
  • Hato ek minute, khidki se kachara phek deti hun. (Move - I have to throw the garbage out of the window.)
  • Thoda sarak ke baithon na. (Sit tight no?)
  • Mera teen saal ka beta hai - aap to usse bhi jyada ziddi ho. (You are more stubborn than my three year old son)
  • A: Meherbani karo - hame jane do. B: Hum kya picchar (movie) dekhne aaye hai?? (A: I request you to let me go. B: Do you think we are here to see movies??)
In case you were wondering, the ones in green were uttered by yours truly. 

PS: The lack of posts over the weekend shall be compensated. Somehow. I hope! :D

Friday, January 3, 2014

Blogathon Post 3: The New Resolution

Every year, I make the same resolutions that I had made the year before, and diligently break them in the first few days. This year I decided to do something different, and make do-able resolutions which does not require a complete 180.

So my 2014 resolution is (Much fanfare)
Stop multi-tasking.
Yes, no typo there. I end up wanting to do so many things at the same time, that I get tired and do nothing at all. 

So, this year, I am going to focus on one thing at a time. It started with the new year's eve, and then, followed up with not even researching on all the courses that I want to do and the treks that I want to go to. There are a couple of big things happening this month, and they will be having all my attention~ (What! I couldn't bring that number down to one - then I would go crazy!).

More significantly, I have finally merged all my blogs into one. I am so proud of my book reviews (like insanely obsessively proud, even if no one reads them!), and happy with the documentation of the cooking, but don't see the need to have different space and different time allocations for the same. So, all the posts have been merged into this blog, and you can check them out individually on the top tab of this blog's home page!

I feel clear-headed already!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Blogathon Post 2 - The real story

Once upon a time, in a small village in Tamil Nadu, a boy named Rama Chandra Hari Shiva got friendly with an ape and named him Rachahashi. Rachahashi was  very sweet and friendly, and Rama quickly formed a strong bond with him.
Source: Telegraph

He was also very lithe and agile, and like all the members of his species, enjoyed climbing and jumping from one tree to another. Rama tried to warn him about the dangers of his monkeying around, but to no avail. 
The inevitable happened when the cap-seller came to the town, and decided to sleep under the tree where Rachahashi was playing with other monkeys. After the cap-seller executed his master plan, all the monkeys threw their caps. Unlike them however, the ape, in his excitement, immediately jumped to catch his cap, and fell face down with a huge Thud. 

Rama, crying uncontrollably, took him to the nearest vet. The nurse was patient until she saw that the pet was an ape and Rama was holding a tooth larger than an average human’s. 
“Ok, What’s that?” She asked, angrily. 
“That’s the tooth he broke.” Rama spluttered. 
“GET OUT OF HERE. Don’t you realise what you have done?” 
“But this is my turn…” 

Rama was then aware of a commotion inside the doctor’s room. The door banged open. The nurse looked nervous and told the gaunt figure standing there, “But Doctor, he didn’t know...” She stopped as she caught a sight of him. 
The doctor was pale as a ghost as he stared at the nurse, Rama, Rachahashi and the tooth. He then gave a thin screech and ran out of his clinic, into his car and drove off at breakneck speed. 
“What the hell was that?” Rama asked. 
The Nurses tut-tuted, opened a tube of fevicol, and generously applied inside the ape's mouth. 
“Don’t you know the famous adage?” She asked. 
“Which one?” 
“That an Ape-Pallu* a day keeps the doctor away?" She asked, as she stuck the tooth back in. 
Rachahashi gave a gummy smile, while Rama pondered at his life of fruity misconceptions.

*Pallu means tooth in Tamil.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Blogathon Post 1 - New Year's Eve

2013 had been, in general, good for me. Granted, I can’t think of a single significant event in the year that would change the course of my life in the foreseeable future (The Child was already born, The Husband was as loving as ever, no job changes and no filing for bankruptcy). But more importantly, I can’t think of a single untoward event that made us unhappy. That’s something that few people can boast about and we had to celebrate that. 

Source: Rediff
So, Ahaan and I got one of those Pillsbury ReadyMade Cakes (Yes, we are THAT lazy!) . We came home, had our milk and coffee, and got to work. He sat on the Kitchen Counter, opened the packet and poured it in the container. He broke the eggs while I mixed the batter. He licked it periodically to ensure that the taste was up to the mark, buttered the baking pan, and we kept it in the oven. 30 minutes later, the fruit of our labour was enthusiastically admired, while we excitedly waited for the Man of the House to come back from office and cut the cake with us.  The cake was universally declared to be "Yummy Yummy" and we went off to sleep. 

About 70% of my essence is restlessness. I have to always.do.something.super-exciting, and keep making plans and counter-plans. I am so glad that the restless me took a backseat this year-end. A simple baking time on new year’s eve, pancakes on new year and some quality time catching up with friends made me realise that I couldn't have celebrated this in a better way. 
That sounds incredibly boring, but I have a feeling that of all my new year celebrations, I am going to remember 2014's for a very long time.