27 February 2006


Ok, I've been tagged. (Thanks Shyam, it's a pleasant little task and I 'm sorry it's taken me this long to do it). And it's actually quite a stimulating task for me to come up with answers to all these questions. Sadly, no Tamil titles.

1. What is the total number of books you've owned?

Well, honestly, how on earth can I know or remember. Any number I put down here has to be a major approximation. For sure, all my life, I've lived in houses that have abounded in books. The question, I suppose, is, how many of them were mine? A fair few of my books still reside in Chennai, and that should be 200 books or so. As for here and now, once again, it's a house full of books, but most of them not mine. And I am so tired of accumulating things (the last time we shifted, we had a garage full of things that we needed to 'donate') that I have deliberately toned down on buying.

2. What is the last book you bought?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I had to, the Potter series is the only one I am collecting books for now.

3. What is the last book you've read?

Paulina Simon's 'Eleven Hours'. Tight action of a psycho kidnapper and his kidnapee (is there such a word) - who is a full-term pregnant woman. The ending was a bit grisly but it wasn't a bad read at all.

4. What are you currently reading?

'Delayed Diagnosis' by Gwen Hunter. It reminds me of Robin Cook's books. Right now, the book's at the stage when the heroine begins to suspect something fishy is going on in the small American town that she lives in. It takes me a long time to finish one book as the only time I can (and do) read is on the train to and from work. *Sigh* the life of a mom & home-maker I guess...

And 'Lost Laysen' by Margaret Mitchell. Apparently, she wrote this one other book too, apart from 'Gone with the Wind.'. I can't believe she was only 16 when she wrote this book.

5. What are the 5 books that have meant a lot to you or that you particularly enjoyed?

Difficult question alright.... how can you expect a senile old woman like me to remember the names of all the books I loved? Here goes anyways

Lost Horizon, by James Hilton. I read this book when I was in high school and there was something about it that really got to me. Into me. More the unsaid things rather than the obvious. Shangri-La. The tone of book. The language. Although I don't own it yet, I recently had ocassion to re-read it - my hubby's boss was kind enought to lend me his copy.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Like you, Shyam. But unlike you, I haven't read it in ages, but will love it for the same reasons as you - gentle humour, such a difficult, touchy subject handled with so much understanding - couldn't have put it better meself.

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. This, in spite of the book's inherent rascism. I am sucker for a good romance and the romance between Scarlett and Rhett is too good to resist or forget. And the history. For the sake of the first one, I even read the second 'Scarlett', which of course, was mostly crap. The only good thing was the second book united the lovers!

Daddy Long legs by Jean Webster. What a cutie that one is!!! I just love Jerusha and always will.

The Da Vinci code by Dan Brown. The characterisiation was wafer-thin and the language was nothing to write home about. But some of the ideas in the book were so revolutionary, I was mighty impressed.

6. What book(s) would you wish to buy next?

The next Harry Potter, of course, to complete my series. Can't think of anything else for now.

7. What book(s) caught your attention but you never had a chance to read?

It was a book by Bill Bryson, but I can't remember what it was called. I think it was do to with Aussie?

8. What book(s) that you've owned for so long but never read?

I know I do have some, but can't remember the titles.....

9. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why

I don't think I will. Coz some of the people I want to pass it onto are not bloggers and others may not want to play tag. So, anyways, I will say that I wanted to tag Lak, Asha and Maya. Only Lak has a blog, that I know of....

Like you feel hungry when you read about food, all this book tagging has created in me a desperation to read some of the books that are being talked about. So, I've gone and reserved 'Gone with the Wind' in the library. And will do more reading, overall...

22 February 2006

Some thoughts on Bharat trip

It was a bittersweet trip to India this time. So much crammed into five weeks and I was fool enough to think when I left that 5 weeks was ample time......some of the things I did, which I consider noteworthy, in no sort of order whatsoever......

1. Completed long-awaited giri valam in Thiruvannamalai, barefoot.

2. Dining out: Plenty, but still not as many as I would have liked. Maximum eating out in the newly-opened Saravana Bhavan in Mylapore (so new, I could still smell the paint). Restaurants highly recommended by me: Utsav (Hyd), Olives (Deccan Plaza, Chn). Of course, me being me, they are all vegetarian restaurants.

3.School re-unions attended: One major one - Vidya Mandir's 50th alumni bash on Dec 25, 2005, along with my brother, who is also ex-VM.

4. Movies: In the theatre: 'Bluffmaster'(in Hyd) and 'Aaru' (in Tiruvannamalai). Brilliant jobs by Abishek and Surya, but far too much violence in Tamil films nowadays. Not to mention tonal volume of lead actors in the Tamil movie, which ended up being unbearably loud.

5. Catching up with friends: The amount of time and quality of catch-ups was satisfactory with most friends, but still, some more time would have been great.

6. Family time: Good, once again more would have been better. But this was lots better than none.

7. Shopping: After deciding not to, I did go a little overboard. Loved the Charminar shopping especially. And also loved the fact that I didn't have to pay for most of what I bought:)

8. Temple time: Great, managed about 10 temples. I did have a couple more on my list, but hey, that's for next time. One of them inclues being in Mylapore for the 'Aruvathimoovar' fest, which happens in March, but that will be a tricky time of the year.....

9.Eating amma's cooking: Total disaster this time. Got hardly any of it. Firstly no gas cylinder for a few days. Secondly, the fact that all of us kept falling sick. And lastly, too little time.

10. Falling sick: Happened even to me, a hardened Chennaite/Indian, this time. I could not believe it. But even the locals were not spared by a severe virus that hit Chennai in the aftermath of the deluge. So, how could I and the kids hope to be spared?

On going through this, I see the whole thing has a strong tinge of 'if only I had had more time'. That probably needs to be ignored as 5 weeks is as long as I am going to get in the near future! If only NZ wasn't so far away from India!

16 February 2006

Stop press!

Watching Tanisha in Hindi was bad enough, but I read this today. Yes, yes, yes, we all know about her illustrious ancestors but so what? Vaathiyar pillai makku (Teacher's son is a dud) as they say in Tamil).

  • Tanisha comes to Kollywood

  • Help!!

    And do we have no shame? Our south Indian film industry, esply Tamil and Telugu, are always running behind Bollywood rejects!!!

    It will be intersting, I guess, to see if she can do better than NnN, though! And I don't obviously mean her acting.

    13 February 2006

    Kalyaana saapadu

    I have been fantasising about kalyana saapadu (meals at weddings). ;-)

    I know, I know, what a thing to fantasise about. As though I didn't have anything better to do. But I can't help myself. I have had just two such occasions in the last 8 years, which averages to just one saapadu every four years. And for a foodie like me, that is disastrous.

    And just any kalayana saapadu won't do for me. It has to be the traditional south Indian brahmin one (ah, the perils of being TamBram). So much so, that I've spent much of my recent non-existent free time working out my ideal menu...

    (not necessarily in order of service - and now updated to include readers' items...)

    Firstly, after a morning tiffin of
    rava kesari
    idli chutney
    followed by lunch proper which includes
    pineapple rasam
    beans paruppu usili
    paruppu Kozhambu
    more kozhambu
    urulai poriyal
    some yummy newly-made urugai (with my fave being maangai thokku)
    paal payasam
    some form of chips
    boondi laddu
    & even the humble multi-coloured maida cake
    paruppu vadai
    ven pongal
    chenai varuval

    Yes, I can tell that my menu is skewed very heavily in favour of sweets. And I also know, that due to prolonged absence, I must have forgotten many an important item.

    But hey, it's my dream menu after all. But I would like to hear from my gentle readers what they think an ideal menu should comprise. Any suggestions?

    And till such time as one of my friends or cousins or rellies decides to get hitched when I happen to be in India next (note: when I hap to be there, 'coz I am not really sure if I can go at the time they get hitched), this will be the closest I can get to a meal like this. Poor 'ol me.

    7 February 2006

    Neal n Nikki

    I don't often put up movie reviews on my blog. But I thought this Hindi movie deserved one.

    It was one of the movies I saw over the long weekend (we had Monday off as well for NZ Waitangi (national)Day.

    N n N, was in sum, a skin flick masquerading as a 'love story for today's youth' between two NRIs in Canada. With a tagline of 'Nice is out, naughty is in'. And in spite of all that, I sat through the movie fully in the hope that it would get better (or was it just to see how much worse it could get?)

    A hero who looks like a drag queen. And a heroine whose wardrobe seemed to comprise almost entirely of underwire bras. Both of them with a combined IQ of a two-year old. And when they kissed (which they did quite often, maybe just to prove to the world that Bollywood movies do have kissing scenes), it was so unwatchable, I couldn't help wishing for the good old shaking flowers/bushes or songs that used to pass for that in our good ol' movies.

    After all this, you may ask, why a review? Just so that I can warn everyone else who reads my blog to stay not a mile, but a world, away from this movie. Welcome to Mars.

    And in spite of all this, if you insist on knowing the storyline? Well, there just wasn't one. Only lots of lots of big-bosomed, bikini-clad females and their amorous action with the aforementioned drag queen.

    3 February 2006

    Two adverts that really grabbed my attention...

    in all the wrong ways.

    The Fair and Handsome ad in India:
    Doing that to the women was awful. Doing that to the men is awful too.

    The ad, in case you haven't seen it, has a college guy, going into the girls hostel to try and steal their 'Fair and Lovely' cream, as he isn't attractive coz he's dark. But after he discovers 'Fair and Handsome' and turns fair overnight, all the girls flock to him.

    The concept of 'fair is beautiful' is so ghastly and all wrong. I mean more than half the world isn't fair. So what are we trying to say?

    All the TV I managed to watch in India had heroines and heroes so fair and looking more European than anything else. Especially the Hindi channels. The in look, a la Aishwarya, is pan-European, not pan-Indian anymore. Us and our obsession with white!!!! I don't know when and where it will end, if at all.

    The Open Polytech ad in NZ:
    Open Poly is the largest provider of extra-mural education here. Recently, they've come out with a series of ads that have workers talking about a co-worker and how he/she has changed. 'the way he talks', it all happens in the evenings after work'... etc, giving the impression that it's an affair that they're talking about. It's only when the ad ends that you realise that they're talking about how the co-worker changed after doing a course.

    I've seen and heard that sex sells things, but its a really sad state of affairs that it has to sell education too.


    I have been trying to blog, but I have become lazy and it's more enjoyable to read someone else's blog and its hectic at work and home since I got back. Added to that is the constant, mild depression that affects me everytime I get back from India. Takes a while for things to come back to routine....