23 December 2009

The NZ Pohutukawa, known as the Kiwi Christmas tree, in bloom.


Ooooh, the holiday break starts from tomorrow - and it can't come soon enough for me.

So here's wishing the world and all, a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that.

I might blog during the break if I am so inclined, but till then.....this is it.

8 December 2009

How much of each day (and hence, my life) do I spend on doing
things I love;
things I like;
the ho-hum things;
things I dislike;
things I absolutely detest?

I stopped my calculations pretty quickly as the results promised to be really depressing!

Why, why, why? Is it because I haven't learnt to love the things I have to do lots of?

And I also wondered: for the other one billion+ people out there, would these numbers be similar to mine? Or completely different?

27 November 2009

Things I wish were not associated with me

After ages, finally a post that I can do in 5 minutes. Tag from Shyam's blog.

Absent-mindedness: (In)famous for it, nowadays.

Snoring: gosh, everyone seems to have this on their list, so I don’t feel that bad to admit to this one..

Over-eating: sigh…

Laziness: enough said.

Shouting: even when I am only just talking – referring more to my volume, rather than content.

Temper: Much much better than before, but still haven’t managed to lose this friend completely.
Worrying: sometimes…but then, I am a mum, and that’s my excuse.

Bossy: only with family & close friends though, thankfully!

So there you go, the seven - oops, make that eight - deadly sins - my way!

21 September 2009

17 September 2009

The Laddu

Who can forget the Tirupathi laddu? (certainly not me)

One of my all-time favourites. I am not sure what gives it the special taste. Others can try to make it, but they can never succeed in getting that special 'heavenly' taste:-)

So, when I found some random FAQs on the laddu here, couldn't resist putting up a post.

Haven’t been there in 10 years. Time for a visit?

14 September 2009

Some current equations

{(Many x Carnatic music practices + 3 x music stage performances)
+ (many x bharatanatyam practices + 1 x bharatanatyam performance)
+ (many x ballet practices + 3 x ballet performances)
+ [many x Navarathri vethalai paaku at friends’ houses]
+ [many x many x Navarathri vethalai paaku at home]
+ Deepavali
+ (model exams + final exams)
+ (stressed-out hubby + stressed-out teen + frantically busy seven-year old)}
– Amma =
______________________
me@now (Sept/Oct/Nov)
______________________

21 August 2009

Bliss...

...is not having to stop yourself from nodding off, even though the meeting is still in progress…

5 August 2009

Love aaj kal: the story of mango people (aam junta)

Love Aaj Kal is many things, but mostly confusing, sometimes charming.

The basic premise of the movie is simple enough: love is the same, irrespective of kal, aaj or kal.
It is director Imtiaz Ali’s treatment that is different. Meera & Jai (Deepika Padukone & Saif Ali Khan) are two modern young things in the UK, who meet in a pub and then become boyfriend-girlfreind. They then openly live together (an, a breath of fresh air) and neither of them act coy about it. But when their careers pull them away (her to India and him to the US), they decided to dispense with sentiment and have a very congenial breakup party and then go their separate ways.

It takes them both a while (and a whole movie, plus another BF/GF) to realise that what they feel for each other is love. Their love story is interspersed with that of a young Rishi Kapoor, set in India in the 1960s. Further confusion arises till you understand that the young Rishi Kapoor is also portrayed by Saif Ali Khan.

But of course, all’s well that ends well.

The Brazilian model as Saif/Rishi’s love interest is perfectly cast. Deepika and SAK look good together but don’t set the screen on fire. SAK looks far too old for this role, in any case. But he’s a fab actor.

It is a different love story and a technically snazzy movie. Pity you’ve got to see it twice to understand it, but can’t bear to sit through it more than once!!

3 August 2009

Bhavathi biksham dehi!

In India:

They wear torn clothes, re dirty, stick-thin and pathetic, trudging wearily along the streets.

Amma, thaye, pichchai podu ma, they say.

In NZ:

They ride on flash bikes, are almost always well-dressed, sometime in school uniforms. And they ask like they’re doing you a favour.

Hello there, you wouldn’t have a couple of dollars on you, would you?

And yet they’re both beggars!

29 July 2009

The kids are laughing like crazy when I walk in to the room.

What’s up, I say. They are watching Spongebob on TV. While some sort of demented laughter is always around when Spongebob and Patrick’s mad capers are on, this is a bit too much.

Ma, you’ve got to watch this, says big N. She drags me down to the sofa. What’s the big deal, I think. And then find out.

Spongebob and Patrick and talking in Maori. As is Squidward, Mr Krabs and everyone else. Even the Texan Sandy Cheeks!!! The voice match is near perfect. And it all sounds hilarious. Bit like Darth Vader talking in Tamil.

But then, here in Aotearoa, it is Maori Language Week now. Haere ra!

24 June 2009

Surya! Or not

Surya and his much-talked about movies. Surya and his much-exposed six-packs.

Hottest thing in Tamil cinema or not, post ‘Vaaranam Ayiram’ (yawn) and ‘Ayan’ (yuck), I am very disappointed and rather anti-Surya.

19 June 2009

This must be what they call a ‘mid-life crisis’!!!!!!!!!

27 May 2009

Star Trekking...

Last night, S and I boldly went to the cinemas for a bit of Trekkie nostalgia - Star Trek the movie -and I came away completely happy.


The special effects were top notch and Chris Pine as Jim Kirk wasn’t as irritating as I thought he’d be, although he was rather brash in some scenes. Zachary Quinto as Spock was cute, except that he looked too full-featured to be Spock. Seeing Leonard Nimoy on screen was a bonus. Chris Pine even looks a bit like Bill Shatner.
S had a bit of a grumble about how the whole thing was like watching an extended version of a Star Trek episode, but I thought that was part of the charm. Watching a student Suly, Ahura, Chekov etc was good fun.

I hope this franchise lives long and prospers. I hear they are talking about a sequel…

30 April 2009

The Palace of Illusions

When I told my friends in India that I planned to pick up a copy of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “Palace of Illusions’, when I was there a couple of months ago, they did their best to dissuade me. “Don’t waste your money”, “you’ll regret it” and “is that the sort of stuff you’re reading nowadays” were the phrases that they used.

But being a stubborn Gemini, I went ahead and bought the book anyway. Not only because I am stubborn, but also because (a) I’d already read ‘The Conch bearer’ by the same author and enjoyed both her imagination and style of writing & (b) simply because this book was about the Mahabharata and I couldn’t resist it.

And you know what? I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was absolutely glad that I had gone with my instinct to buy it.

I’d certainly be lying if I said I didn’t find anything to criticise in it or that the book was the best take on the Mahabharatha that I’d ever read. And I definitely didn’t agree with many things the author had said. But I enjoyed Divakaruni’s style, her take on Draupadi – the way she’d interpreted one of the most enigmatic characters of the Mahabharatha.

I guess when you’ve grown up hearing these stories all your life, you don’t actually stop to pause and think about each character’s personality. You think: it’s all black and white. The Kauravas are bad and the Pandavas are good. Paanchali had five husbands (btw, I found out from the book that Paanchali is because she is named after her land, Paanchal and not, as I mistakenly thought, because she has 5 husbands). Karna was a good guy on the bad side, etc.

Maybe that’s another reason I found the book fascinating and wished it could have been a lot longer so Divakaruni could have explored some of the themes that she’d just touched the surface of.

Draupadi’s relationship with her brother Dhrishtadyumna (no wonder she calls him Dhri, it's a mouthful!) is brought out very well and in great detail. Their lives as children, in a gloomy dismal palace, is given a fairly large chunk of the narrative and is brilliantly handled.

The same can’t be said about Paanchali's relationship with her husbands – it lacked depth. Similarly, her relationship with her MIL Kunti isn’t explored in too much detail. What little I read of Kunti’s character was a revelation to me – was she really that much of a hard case? The Pandavas were complete letdowns – even Duryodhana’s character is etched better. Arjuna started off promisingly, but petered out soon. Funnily enough, I like Bhima's character the best among them in this book, although that hasn't been the case earlier on for me.

I found the author’s take on Draupadi’s relationship with Karna intriguing. I can’t quite recall where I have read it/heard of it, but somehow, the fact that Draupadi loved Karna did ring a bell. I especially liked Divakaruni's physical description of Karna and could relate to that. Once again, no idea if that’s a fact or just the author’s imagination.

Paanchali’s realationship with Krishna was completely entrancing. Again, there isn’t too much of it, but what there is, especially at the end of the novel, is beautiful.

But why did Divakaruni skip the bit about Karna being married? And why did she have to make the Paanchali-Karna angle so strong and their love so deep? In a way, that is the strength and the failing of the novel. But was that how it really was? Who can tell? Was that the reason why the Pandavas and Paanchali journeyed to Hastinapura play a game of dice that would end in victory and ruin?

Another thing that irked me was the 'Hindised' use of all names, as opposed to the original Sanskrit version - Arjun instead of Arjuna, Yudhisthir instead of Yudhisthira, etc.

I enjoyed knowing all about the life of the Pandavas after the terrible war till their last journey - it's a bit like Ramayana after Rama found his sons Lava and Kusa - you never really get to hear what happened after that. Here, though, you do hear what happened to the Pandanvas and Paanchali, right to the not-so-grim end.

But what the heck, you can do only so much with 300-odd pages on the Mahabharatha. And I thought she did really well. Never mind what anyone else says!

18 April 2009

Silly, sentimental and stupid - I know. But when I saw the mangled remains of our car this morning, that was my day gone!

It wasn't even a new car - to be quite honest, it was on its last legs. But still, to see it dented, bent, the gaping maw, broken headlights, shattered windscreen, doors that won't open any more....and when I saw it being towed away, I felt like I'd sent my pet to the abattoir....

Even people don't last. So why fret about a car that would have lasted, at the most, anyways for a year more? So what if this in the car in which I reallly learnt how to drive. Or that this is the car in which I put small N into her first car seat? Or that this is the car in which we took Fudge for his last drive to the vet? Or that this is the car in which big N had her first driving lesson from dad? Or if this is the car in which we traversed the length of the North Island here? Or that this is the car in which little N said her first ever sentence (to her teddy bear): "Car seat want? Ok".

Silly, sentimental and stupid...


17 April 2009

Can't bear the stench

A sign of how desperate our politicians are and how degraded our politics has become.

So we have Rahul Gandhi and his anglicised Hindi for Congress and rabblerouser Varun Gandhi for BJP.

Can it get any worse?

Yes, it can, when Mayawati is being hailed as the Indian Obama!

Fetch me a bucket, someone! A big one.

26 March 2009

Barbie eeeeeee

Another reason (as though I needed one more) why I don't want to buy or even see Barbies in India…or anywhere in the world. Ugly as!

P.S: I am confused. Is the new Barbie face that of Aish or Kat? Either way, plastic.

18 March 2009

Cheesed out and grossed out!

Yes, yes, yes, I am rabidly vegetarian and normally enthusiastic about promoting vegetarianism without actually shoving it down people's throats, but this is taking things far too far, methinks… This is completely disgusting.

And technically, isn’t human sweat a non-vegetarian ingredient? And again, Clooney being a meat-eater, can his sweat be classified as vegetarian sweat? Go figure.

In any case, I am devoutly thankful he said ‘no’. Talk about bizarre thinking outside the square marketing!

17 March 2009

Santalam Album fini

Take a good look at the photo of this tree photo (below). This photo was taken when I was in India recently, in a heavily forested area in south India..


I took this photo because I wanted to record the sandalwood tree for posterity. Because, in the next few years, the last of the sandalwood trees will be gone. South India, home to the best quality sandalwood in the world, will have none left.

Long before Mr Moustaches aka Sandhana Kadatthal Veerappan came on the scene, the sandal snatching had been going on with great vigour and with the active connivance of many top government honchos and well-known public figures. They were the ones that benefited the most from it. We’re talking very big bucks here.

After Moustaches came on the scene and sandal smuggling came under a very bright spotlight, most of the sins were conveniently blamed on him. Not that he was any angel, he certainly did his bit to rid the earth of Indian sandalwood and other Indian fauna as well. But he came in after more than half the tree population had already met their ends. And he hastened the process with those trees that were left.

And now, even after he is gone, there are many who devoutly follow in his footsteps.

Here’s something that happened late last year, in a small hamlet in south India.

Taking centrestage is a 100-year-old sandal tree (the older the tree, the more the wood, the costlier it is etc). It is consistently and actively protected by government officials, as they know the danger it is in.
But obviously a lot of work went into the background planning for Operation Treegrab, for all this protection was for nothing. These new age Moustachios in charge of Operation Treegrab brought with them padlocks for EVERY house in that hamlet and locked all the residents in. They also brought with them a cellphone frequency jammer (yes, such things exist) which meant that NO ONE in this small village could use their phones to summon extra help or aid. And they chose a day when the officials were out on business. Before the officials could get on the scene after getting the information, the bandits had successfully brought the tree down and sawed it into manageable bits. They had even loaded the wood onto their vehicles.

They were chased by the officials with great vigour. But the officials’ old-fashioned weapons (almost antiques) were no match for the state-of-art weapons the bandits had. The bandits finally escaped by the simple expedient of throwing out blocks of sandalwood in the way of the pursuers’ vehicles and then crossed the state border triumphantly. End of chase.

The retrieved sandalwood was stored under lock and key. Questions were asked, but there were very few answers. Inside connivance (of some of the villagers) was a given but when you are dirt poor, what does the survival of a species of tree mean to you? Solid cash that will feed you for a few months means more.

Even small trees are not safe, the officials I spoke to said. People can’t be bothered to wait till a tree is mature, even if it 10 years old, they chop it down and sell it for whatever they can get. The situation is so bad that any remaining sandal tree probably needs personal and one-on one protection…..the situation is the same or even worse in all southern states that still boast a few trees.

Hence my photo here – take a good look at the tree. You won’t have any more left in a few years.

2 March 2009

Kirikutt match…after

Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, V.V.S. Laxman, Zaheer Khan and Sachin Tendulkar
'walking' on the edge of the Sky Tower in AKL. Pic courtesy: The Hindu.

It was wonderful, a nailbiting finish, fantastic carnival-like atmosphere and lots of good cricket. I was surprised that I didn’t feel sadder that India had lost…

And the girls got so completely into the game, it was amazing. S was totally absorbed, but no surprises there. As for me, I was yelling and screaming and clapping and booing and waving my placard just as wildly as anyone else. It was almost as exciting as watching a cricket match in India. Almost, but not quite...but hey, no worries. It was a great evening, even if India lost.
The highlight for us was when one of Yuvraj's sixers landed amongst us - into the hands of a teenager sitting one row before us. Way to go.

27 February 2009

Kirikutt match...before

I am going to watch a cricket match today - this evening, 7pm onwards, local time, to be precise.

I am going to the Westpac Stadium to watch the 20/20 match between India and the Kiwis.

I can’t believe it, but I am actually excited.

The last time I saw a cricket match live was when I was in college. My good friend S and I decided to bunk a day of college and go watch the match. I didn’t even feel guilty about it as I had told Amma and she was ok with it.

But S’s dad wasn’t ok with us bunking college. He came to drop off S at my place the next morning (we had planned to meet at my place to go to the match). He was very polite and nice, but he did make it clear that he didn’t like us bunking college to go watch a match. Chastened, but still enthusiastic, we went off to watch the match at Chepauk.

That was then. This is now…and as all four of us are making it a family outing, I have nothing to feel guilty about this time around;-)

Um, I just hope it doesn’t rain.

25 February 2009

Oscars ho!

It was interesting how India and the UK both claimed ‘Slumdog’ for their own.

BBC went on and on about how it was a wonderful evening at the Oscars for Britain. ARR barely got a mention here. Gulzar got none. Resul was mentioned in passing.

And the Indian media was full of ARR and Resul and the Slumdog crew.

The bottomline is 3 Indian Oscars. Jai ho.

28 January 2009

Cheating and more

Students, especially overseas students, sitting exams in some specific subjects here, have been caught cheating recently. All the students who were caught cheating were of Indian origin.

And the explanation that they and their trainers (incidentally, another Indian) could come up with was:
a) It’s part of the Indian culture
b) It’s an acceptable practice in India.


EXCUSE ME?

But then, why am I surprised? There was this wife-beater a few years ago here who tried to justify his 'habit' saying that it was a culturally acceptable practice in India.

And there was another man who tried to justify killing his wife. His reason? She was having an affair with a Pakistani man, ie, the enemy. So he was actually being patriotic by killing her.

And there was this guy in front of me in the Immigration office, asking if he could get his visa stamped in the NZ office itself instead of taking it back to India, as "India is bad, nothing works properly there and nothing gets done on time", he said in his pigdin English.

BLOODY SLIMEBALLS!

22 January 2009

Back

In windy Wlg and battling severe jet lag and away-from-home and back-to-work blues! *sigh*

3 January 2009

Happy new year to y'all.

Have now travelled the length of the country and reached Chennai after a few days in Hyderabad.

Have travelled to Karur, Guruvayur and Tiruvannamalai.

Further travel awaits tomorrow - down further south. It has been so busy that I've barely had time to email, leave alone blog. Hence this hurried post.

Hope this turns out to be a peaceful and prosperous 2009.