Friday, December 24, 2010

Unworded-A Sun-rise and a Moon-set

And 'Hi' said the Sun to the Moon
Montage using Gimp. Photos taken within minutes of each other at opposite horizons
Camera: Nokia N73 (alas!, the quality does suffer here)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Aural nourishment

How many FM radio stations are there in your city? Chances are that you'll know the 'non-stop prattle' entertainment channels. Namma Bengaluru hosts Radio City, Radio One, Radio Mirchi, Radio Indigo, Big FM, Red FM, Fever, of course Vividh Bharati (it doesn't seem to have changed from eons. You can hear the distinct 'coooo' tone when an ad segment begins or ends :-D), AIR FM Rainbow and the lesser known Amritavarshini (AIR classical music). There is one hidden gem, Gyan Vani (or Gyaan Vaani to be phonetically right) which is usually skipped over by the majority or never tuned into. (Disclaimer: depends on how you look at it. It is a gem to me, at least)

Gyan Vani is an educational FM radio station transmitting at 106.4 MHz (the frequencies have changed multiple times in the past few years, but looks like the transmit frequency is being rationalized throughout the country) under the aegis of the IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) and programmes developed by its Electronic Media Production Centre. Almost all the Indian metros have this station active. The broadcast programs are an eclectic potpourri !!!. Collegiate lessons across different majors, PUC lessons and preps for exams, history, current events, spiritual talks, classical and semi-classical music, scientific talks, health awareness programs, sociology, radio programs from other countries (at times) and vernacular programming.

These days, I am jogging my memory lane on my morning/evening commutes on the war of Indian Independence like Cripps mission, Quit India movement et al and also brushing up on DNA/RNA, nucleotides, Watson-Crick model etc. Some programs are brilliant and some so-so, but the aim is to educate and most of it is definitely worth a hear.

Tune in, if you haven't and have a good time if it interests you. :-D

(the title is taken off a Tamizh saying, 'செவிக்குணவில்லாத போழ்து சிறிது வயிற்றுக்கும் ஈயப்படும்', which translates to 'Nourishment for the tum is when you aren't aurally nourished for your soul')

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chinnanchiru Kiliyae - சின்னஞ் சிறு கிளியே

Today, Dec 11, being the birth anniversary of Bharathi (born Dec 11, 1882), here is a translation of another of his well known poems.

Kannamma is seen in multiple forms by Bharathi, as a diety, as a lover and as a child. This poem's premise is that of Bharathi seeing Goddess Parāshakthi as a small child. He goes into a rapturous vent at the child with an outpour of emotions; happiness, longing, respect, love, joy, pride, pain, restraint, submission!

Bharathiar and Chellamma- Image courtesy - The Web
Montage courtesy - self, using Gimp :-)

கண்ணம்மா-என் குழந்தை

பராசக்தியைக் குழந்தையாகக் கண்டு சொல்லிய பாட்டு

சின்னஞ் சிறு கிளியே-கண்ணம்மா!
செல்வக் களஞ்சியமே!
என்னைக் கலிதீர்த்தே-உலகில்
ஏற்றம் புரிய வந்தாய்!

பிள்ளைக் கனியமுதே-கண்ணம்மா!
பேசும்பொற் சித்திரமே!
அள்ளி யணைத்திடவே-என் முன்னே
ஆடி வருந் தேனே!

ஓடி வருகையிலே-கண்ணம்மா!
உள்ளங் குளிரு தடீ!
ஆடித்திரிதல் கண்டால்-உன்னைப்போய்
ஆவி தழுவு தடீ!

உச்சி தனை முகந்தால்-கருவம்
ஓங்கி வளரு தடீ!
மெச்சி யுனையூரார்-புகழ்ந்தால்
மேனி சிலிர்க்கு தடீ!

கன்னத்தில் முத்தமிட்டால்-உள்ளந்தான்
கள்வெறி கொள்ளு தடீ!
உன்னைத் தழுவிடிலோ,-கண்ணம்மா!
உன்மத்த மாகு தடீ!

சற்றுன் முகஞ் சிவந்தால்-மனது
சஞ்சல மாகு தடீ!
நெற்றி சுருங்கக் கண்டால்-எனக்கு
நெஞ்சம் பதைக்கு தடீ!

உன்கண்ணில் நீர்வழிந்தால்-என்னெஞ்சில்
உதிரங் கொட்டு தடீ!
என்கண்ணிற் பாவையன்றோ?-கண்ணம்மா!
என்னுயிர் நின்ன தன்றோ?

சொல்லு மழலையிலே-கண்ணம்மா!
துன்பங்கள் தீர்ந்திடு வாய்;
முல்லைச் சிரிப்பாலே-எனது
மூர்க்கந் தவிர்த்திடு வாய்.

இன்பக் கதைக ளெல்லாம்-உன்னைப்போல்
ஏடுகள் சொல்வ துண்டோ?
அன்பு தருவதிலே -உனைநேர்
ஆகுமோர் தெய்வ முண்டோ?

மார்பில் அணிவதற்கே-உன்னைப்போல்
வைர மணிக ளுண்டோ?
சீர்பெற்று வாழ்வதற்கே-உன்னைப்போல்
செல்வம் பிறிது முண்டோ?

and the translation ... Any translation will struggle to match this original and may never will, and this one too is no exception.

Kannamma - My child

An ode to Parāshakthi seen as a child

My little parakeet, dear Kannamma,
    My store of immense wealth you are!
To rid me of vice, you descend,
    And elevate the world you care!

Ambrosial darling, you are, Kannamma,
    An expressive painting of gilt!
For me to sweep you up and hug;
    Honey, You dance before me and flit!

As you rush to me, Kannamma,
    The heart of mine tingles!
Looking at you, play and drift,
    Embraces you my soul and mingles!

As I take a breath off you, up and close,
    Swells high my pride!
Extol the folks on you, when they;
    Shudders my body inside!

A kiss planted on the cheek;
    Intoxicated, is my heart!
An embrace of you, Kannamma;
    Rips me delirious, apart!

Your face turning crimson, I behold;
    Grieves my heart, dear!
A frown, I notice on your brow;
    Stirs my soul, with fear!

Pearls of tears in your eyes, shed,
    Bleeds red my heart!
You are the apple of my eye, Kannamma;
    Isn't my life yours, to part?

Child-speak, of yours, Kannamma,
    Away drains my pain;
Pearly laughter of yours, I hear,
    From rage I abstain!

Your tales of joy, recounted,
    Would the books ever near?
Your flow of love, shared,
    Would the Divine ever peer?

In my bosom to wear, like you,
    Are there diamonds to strand?
To live a life, straight,
    Is there wealth beyond you, as grand?

Here is a pointer to a rendition by Sudha Raghunathan. [You may need to click twice] I have not heard any rendition that includes the last 3 stanzas, which are beautiful too.


Another lovely mellifluent rendition by Unnikrishnan in his "Mellifluous Melodies" album

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Why is it so hard to let go?

Years of gradual accumulation of things makes it so hard to let go; they range from small to large, toys and games that are long worn-out or discoloured, old books, papers and electronics junk, boxes and bags, clothes and furniture. Making it miserable is the fact that memories cling on to a few of them.

Learning it the hard, difficult way, as we are in the middle of a home shift. A filtering of what we feel are not really useful further and needs to be dumped, is in progress. Makes me realize painfully (it is not sorrow, however), how things are squirreled away slowly, unbeknownst of the fact they need to be discarded one day as they are past utilizability.

Just letting the unrest pass before it settles down to an equilibrium of acceptance ... :-)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Takes

A short review (or is it?) of a movie after a long lapse. Was sitting in my Drafts folder for close to two weeks and any later posting of it may not make any sense. :-D

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I

Image courtesy: Wikipedia
First time in my life, I have gone to a movie on the second day of its release. :-D This is strictly a movie for the fans, and not for the generalist who doesn't have an intro into Harry Potter (HP). Still if you insist on going, it is like seeing a portion of a narration, which seems out of context and with no clue of what is happening or what happened or why and the plethora of characters that come and go and the gobbledegook that permeates it.

There is always a 'coolness' about waving wands for tricks and special effects which radiate light from the wands as they are used and charms/spells that spell doom or otherwise, being uttered with all fury on the opponent. I love the HP movies for some of their special effects, wit and charm of the leads and most of the time for having you lose yourself in their world. My reading of the books stopped after book 2, but Señora has run through all of them at least twice.

Voldemort is stronger than ever and with more screen presence this time, takes over Hogwarts and installs his cronies, and in the meanwhile continuing his quest to finish off Harry Potter. This is a dark movie, with no smiles from any of the lead faces except for maybe a short 2 minute duration in a 2.5 hour movie. There is humour in a few scenes, few in-between, some subtle and the rest are all simmering with ominous dread. There is no familiar environment of Hogwarts and the story takes place fully outside its precincts. Harry, Hermione and Ron, pull the movie forward with sufficient chemistry between them. Reminds to an extent of the Eclipse movie saga. Some of the scenery where the characters apparate to, is mindblowingly gorgeous (England/Scotland?) and seems like a painting right out of a Wordsworth poem.

One more horcrux of Voldemort is destroyed and Voldemort vandalizes the tomb of Dumbledore to steal his wand which is one of the three deathly hallows (the meaning and story of which is flashed back as puppet type imagery), and the movie ends for its sequel, I couldn't help wondering, how much knots still need to be uncovered, how many wands would clash, how the revenges would be taken in the good vs. evil fight and how many deaths including the most awaited one of Voldemort, can be crammed into 2.5 to 3 hours when the final movie races out in July next year. Till that time, I need to read the books again.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, this one leaves you somewhat unsatiated and looking forward for the finale as sufficient tension has been built up and it is freeze-frame for another 8 months. If you are not, nothing to miss, I mean, you miss nothing.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The cattle class

Was standing yesterday at a zebra crossing with three cute calves close by. Crossed over to the median in the middle of the road once the traffic thinned on my side and was waiting there to get to the other as the traffic was persistent. I was suddenly nudged at my back and I turned back startled to see that it was one of the calves. All the three were lined up behind me (though there was enough space beside), also doing the road crossing maneuver. One of the calves mooed and it sounded to me as if it was asking me to 'move'. Hopped aside and they crossed the road without a fuss (blocking the oncoming traffic, ha!), with me piggybacking along to the other side.

Couldn't help a chuckle with a disbelieving shake of the head. :-D Street smart, they are, I've to acknowledge!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vaendum - வேண்டும்

An interesting poem from Bharathi, from the collection ஞானப் பாடல்கள் (Poems of Wisdom), titled வேண்டும் [Vaendum, Need (or) Want, loosely translated]. The word வேண்டும் can be interpreted to be either a need, in a mellow sense (as in 'You need these') or as a pre-requisite requirement, in a stricter sense (as in 'You should have these').

வேண்டும்

மனதி லுறுதி வேண்டும்,
வாக்கினி லேயினிமை வேண்டும்;
நினைவு நல்லது வேண்டும்,
நெருங்கின பொருள் கைப்பட வேண்டும்;
கனவு மெய்ப்பட வேண்டும்,
கைவசமாவது விரைவில் வேண்டும்;
தனமும் இன்பமும் வேண்டும்,
தரணியிலே பெருமை வேண்டும்.
கண் திறந்திட வேண்டும்,
காரியத்தி லுறுதி வேண்டும்;
பெண் விடுதலை வேண்டும்,
பெரிய கடவுள் காக்க வேண்டும்,
மண் பயனுற வேண்டும்,
வானகமிங்கு தென்பட வேண்டும்;
உண்மை நின்றிட வேண்டும்.
ஓம் ஓம் ஓம் ஓம்.

The translation of mine is as follows. I blurred the distinction between connecting and separating clauses in the original sentences and hopefully kept the meaning intact. I have played with the dichotomy of the word Vaendum (வேண்டும்) to translate it, as some lines could be looked at in both ways.

Thou shalt

Thou shalt require
    strength of mind,
Thou shalt require
    pleasantness in words,
 Thou shalt require
    fairness of thoughts;
Thou shalt achieve
    what you set out to,
Thou shalt achieve
    what you dreamt of,
Thou shalt achieve
    ownership by agility;
Thou shalt possess
    riches and joy,
Thou shalt possess
    pride for this Earth,
Thou shalt possess
    an openness of mind;
Thou shalt value
    the belief in your work,
Thou shalt value
    the freedom of womanhood,
Thou shalt value
    the auspices of the Supreme;
Thou shalt have
    an impact [a use] on this Earth,
Thou shalt have
    a view here of the heavens,
Thou shalt have
    the truth to stand;
Om Om Om Om

The following is a rendition of this poem from the movie "Sindhu Bhairavi" by K J Yesudas in his own inimitable way. [You may need to click twice]

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Intrusion

The door was securely locked and the house fairly clean. I state 'fairly' as I agree with what Sneha (or was it Srikanth?) tells in the movie 'Parthiban Kanavu' about a house needing to be a home and not a museum to be absolutely spick and span. :-D [Now I am sure to be taken care of with the ammikkal I had referred to in the travelogue :-) as already the dining table is never used for dining.]

We return back in the night after around 6 hours. Door was still securely locked. Things looked the same, that is, almost.

RamMmm: Who left these banana peels here, in the middle of the room?
La Niña: Don't know, not me.
RamMmm shrugs, moves the peels to a safe place and climbs upstairs.
RamMmm (with a slightly raised voice): Who ate bananas? Who dropped the peels on the stairs? Someone could slip
La Niña, Señora (surprised): What? No one ate any bananas.
Señora (from the kitchen): Why is the packet of salt on the floor and broken?
(Bulbs flash that it could have been an intruder...)
Señora (panic): Go, go, go see if all the doors are still locked.
RamMmm (scrambling): Yes, they are. But wait, one window is open!
Señora: All bananas are missing.
(Ha Haa, more bulbs again) 

It must have been a simian (Sherlock Holmes, ahem! me, deduces that there must have been only one because two would have caused mayhem inside the house, Two is company, isn't it?) that has sauntered in through an open window on 1st floor, pass 2 rooms, climb down the stairs to the ground floor, get into the kitchen and finish off around 10 yelakki bananas, throw the peels here and there, push a few things down and make an escape long before we were back.

Our laugh amongst all this was that El Niño's keychain that has a small rubbery banana toy attached, was targeted by the monkey as a real banana. It was ripped into two pieces and discarded. Maybe should have been there to see the face of the monkey when it bit into the rubbery banana. :-D

And now, the security threat level in the house has been raised to Orange (high risk) from Blue (guarded), [Ha Ha Ha, blame the US Dept of Homeland Security for these coloring schemes] where most of the windows and doors will be locked down before any trip out of the house, however short the duration. The next day, it was noticed that lots of Alpenliebe wrappers were strewn on the sunshades with the candy gone. Smart monkeys, there are, and they become smarter by the day, living alongside us. God save!

[There had been a burglary a few months back in our layout where the burglar(s) cleaned up almost all valuables in the house, opened the fridge, ate whatever was in there and then made good their escape while the inmates continued to sleep. :-( Another one happened in just a gap of around 2 hours in the evening when the people were out for a function. They returned to find the house vandalized and some valuables along with cash gone. This house was in the direct line of sight of the layout's security gate. And hence all the paranoia]

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Travelogue - A 1900 km drive (Part deux)

The earlier portion of the travelogue can be found [here]. Be forewarned that this post is longggg. :-) All the images can be clicked to see a larger view.

The trouble with the car being over, we headed towards Kanyakumari from Madurai with a short detour at Tirumangalam for lunch. Food was okay and I noticed that the hotels there and beyond kept 'kothavarangai vaththal' (dried and salted cluster beans, roasted in oil) which I liked immensely, and snacked on it exclusively rather than as an accompaniment to food (usually with curd rice). NH-7 (or NH-44, according to the new national highway numbering plan, of numbering East-West highways with odd numbers and North-South highways with even numbers, similar to the North American way, but with numbering swapped) is a joy to drive on. 99% of the road from Bengaluru to Kanyakumari is 4-laned. I could only recollect 4 bridges where work is still in progress. All the 650 kms of it can be traversed in around 10 hours with 2 or 3 short breaks and no need to get into any town.

Windmills of the Gods!
The landscape is literally nothing to talk about beyond Madurai until you come close to Tirunelveli. Dry and harsh, with nothing but vast empty land and short shrubs, tall thorny shrubs on river and lake beds and the glaring sun came along with us as we passed Virudhunagar, Sattur, Kovilpatti and Kayathar. The landscape slowly changed near Tirunelveli (the place famed for its halwa and its traders) with some hills and lots of greenery coming up. As we drove past Tirunelveli, we saw one of the examples of a formidable alternate green energy source, wind. Well, do I call this place the Netherlands of India? Maybe! Hundreds of windmills, of all sizes and shapes, dot both sides of the highway, spinning with a whooshy sound to the breeze from the sea which was probably around 30-40 kms from there towards the east, and connected to the power grid. Now I understand where all the huge 100 feet blades which are transported in 18 wheeler trucks near Bengaluru on NH-7 are headed to. For some time, I had thought they were the wings of aircraft, but was suspicious about it since there were no ailerons or wing flaps, on those huge turbine blades.

Sunset at Kanyakumari
It was evening when we drove into Kanyakumari. Went to the Vivekananda Kendra at Vivekanandapuram, where we found a decent with no-frills accomodation, freshened up and headed for our rendezvous with the sunset at Cape Comorin. There is a sunset beach (the beach is not like the Chennai Marina, but does have a few metres of sand with rocky outcrops), around 2-3 kms west from the Gandhi Mandapam, where we watched the sun go down blazing and mellow into the Arabian Sea, standing in the water even as La Niña and El Niño were busy picking up shells of different shapes and sizes. It is always soothing being washed in the feet incessantly by the waves and the mild feeling of sinking in the sand as the the sand is washed over.

Gandhi Mandapam with the ocean and
the moon as a backdrop
Sunrise at Kanyakumari
La Niña, El Niño picking shells
The evening was spent at the Gandhi Mandapam, the Kanyakumari temple and just walking around the shops close to the shore and watching probably what may be the lights of distant ships circumnavigating Cape Comorin. Came back to Vivekananda Kendra, where the canteen has awesome tiffin (minimal choice, but great taste). Woke up early the next morning and walked to the private beach there for the sunrise watch. Waited and waited for the sun to be up and it was already day break and we were told that the sunrise would not be at the horizon because of clouds, but fairly above it. Slightly disappointed, but then we waited there till the sun was up between the clouds. The sand at this beach is different in texture and colour than the one we were in, the previous evening. Went to the Vivekananda Rock memorial on a short trip by boat and we were enveloped in the sun's blazing glory by the time we were back ashore. The contrasting colours of the seas were nice to see from the rock memorial.

From the Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Padmanabhapuram Palace - One view
We had decided to go to the famed Padmanabhapuram palace, then to Thirparappu Falls, maybe the Pechipaarai dam, the Mathur aqueduct, the famous Sucheendram temple and then head towards Madurai to be there by 8:00 PM. But what we had not reckoned with is the typical Keralaesque narrow roads all the way out of Kanyakumari towards these places. I was joking while driving towards Nagercoil about the absence of the famed Kerala Road Transport Corporation killer buses, but other forms of slow transport had their laugh at us. Had lunch at Nagercoil and was tired by the time we reached the Padmanabhapuram palace. The palace (fully constructed with wood) was very good to stroll around. I could only sigh at the Rajas who ruled the place. Opulence and vanity were their keystones probably. Wrongly took a country road (nothing, but huge potholes as a road) to go to Thirparappu Falls (most of the folks speak Malayalam only and what we understood was probably not what it was) and by the time we reached there, it sapped us of all energy. This waterfall is called an alternate Courtallam.
Thirparappu Falls - Mini Courtallam?
Skipped Pechipaarai dam and headed towards the Mathur aqueduct, which connects two hills to move water between them which was once, one of the tallest aqueducts in Asia. Spent around half an hour there amongst the greenery and headed back towards Sucheendram and the traffic on the National Highway (Trivandram to Kanyakumari) was flooded with college buses reminded me of Bengaluru. It was bad, real bad. Went to Sucheendram for a quick darshan and by the time we were on the road to Kanyakumari, it was already dark. The plan was to halt for the night at Madurai, visit the Meenakshi temple and then head to Thanjavur.
Mathur Aqueduct - The bridge goes
on and on ...

After finishing dinner again at the Vivekananda Kendra canteen, started for Madurai. We were delayed by almost 3 hours and we were still in two minds whether to stop-over at Tirunelveli for the night or head towards Madurai. Took the latter option, as it was a dual lane highway and hence night driving would be easier and it was close to midnight by the time we were in a hotel at Madurai. The next morning, had a darshan of Meenakshi Amman and Sundareswarar, and since it was Navarathri, a lot of the sannidhis were decorated pretty well. By a quirk of fate, had to make a full circumambulation of the temple in the hot sun on the Chithirai streets looking for a promised 'crystal' at Kodaikanal to El Niño, in vain. Maybe some 'punyam' at least should have accumulated. :-)

West Gopuram

Headed back post lunch to Thanjavur. Drove by for a visit of the place where I stayed with parents and siblings till I finished college. Driving before the house slowly in the college's staff quarters where we lived, elicited some curious glances from some kids going back to their homes, post school. The place was almost the same, save for the fact that a lot of families living there currently own cars which were parked in makeshift sheds or under trees where we used to play street cricket. The place abounds with trees, especially neem, and is very close to a towering wall of granite, around 100-150m high, which is a section of a hillock shaped like a elephant and at least 4 kms long. I used to tell Señora/kids that they could see peacocks as common as crows around there and yes, there they were, crowing around.
Spot the Peacock
A lot of things had changed on the main road, however. There was now a 4-lane tollway to Trichy, where there was once 2 lanes. Took a different route to Thanjavur after squabbling about the best route and reached there in the evening, possibly late by an hour, at least, due to a wrong decision. :-)

There was one tubeless tyre causing trouble from the time we were driving to Kanyakumari as there was a leaky puncture. Got that fixed at Thanjavur. There is a cascading story of this tyre causing severe trouble on a succeeding trip later (subject of another travelogue :-)). After unwinding for a day and a half (eat-sleep-watch TV-snack-do nothing routine, no questions asked, isn't that great? :-D) at Thanjavur, headed back to Bengaluru with a short detour to Srirangam, on the way, to buy a 'portable ammikkal' (அம்மிக்கல்/flat grinding stone) from shops inside the temple premises. These shops (கண்டா முண்டா சாமான் கடை :-)) sell these and a variety of kitchenry like knives, choppers and similar weapons :-), spatulas of all kinds, shapes and sizes, tawas in iron, cast iron etc, leaden vessels (rasam tastes heavenly when made in this. ஈயச்சொம்பு ரசம்) and 'once upon a time, traditional game-boards and accessories' like பல்லாங்குழி, சோழி, தாயக்கட்டை etc (pallaankuzhi-14 hole board game with shells [ಅಳಿಗುಳಿ ಮಣೆ in Kannada], sozhi-cowrie shells [ಕಾವಡೆ in Kannada], dhaayakattai for playing dhaayam-Four faced dice, usually metal, for rolling (ಪಗಡೆ ಆಡ in Kannada, ಚೌಕಾಬಾರ is a variant)). I love the sound of the shells being dropped one by one into the pallankuzhi cups and the grab of the shell collections at the end of a turn. Hmmm...La Niña and El Niño play it at times, with their own rules and end up with a fight, taunts and a huge racket.

Perumal Saevai (salutation) at Srirangam had to be from the outside as it was a Saturday and getting into the temple meant crowds and delays. Off went the chance to have scrumptious authentic Iyengar puliyogare or vadai or any prasadam from Srirangam. (Slurp! Vada Poché) Will have a go at it next time, after a proper darshanam, maybe. :-) Headed back to Bengaluru from there, uneventful, after a break at Adyar Ananda Bhavan at Salem for lunch. Home, sweet home, it was!

The car's trip odometer read 1900 km at the end. It was time well spent. And until I find time to write my next travelogue, a road trip to Jog Falls and Karwar, which was as adventurous as it can be, ciao.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Food Mélange - Data (Mis)Interpretation

Guess the day's food menu based on the following data! :-) If anyone can derive an 'acceptable for all' menu (if it does exist with this set!), they shall be awarded an MBA by this blogger.

All characters anonymized below are real and existing with the listed characteristics and under an identity protection plan. :-D

  • [C] likes idli, but [D] doesn't, [A] and [B] don't care.
  • [D] likes dosai and so do [B] and [C].
  • Crisp dosai only for [D] and need not be so for [C].
  • Toasted Bread is preferred by [D] and raw it is, for [B] and no bread for [C].
  • [B], [A] and [D] like sandwiches and [C] does not.
  • Cheese is loved by [B] and [D] and not [A] and to an extent [C].
  • Mint chutney favoured by [C] and [B], [D] doesn't care.
  • Non-hot chutney-pudi for [B] and hot molagai podi for [C] and [D] to go with idli/dosa.
  • Breakfast cereals okay for [D], [A] and [B], but not for [C].
  • No fruits for [D] except orange, fruits okay for [A],[C] and none for [B].
  • Fruit juice is okay for [B] and [C] and to a far lower extent [D] and [A].
  • Masala Dosai preferred for [B], but not for [D].
  • Coconut Chutney okay for [C] and [D] and not for [B] and [A].
  • [D] likes Dosa with Vaththa kuzhambu, but [B] hates Vaththa Kuzhambu.
  • Snake gourd curry for all but not for [C].
  • Direct roasted potato for [B] and [D] and cooked and roasted for [A].
  • Ladies' finger (Okra) fine for [C] and not for [A] and [B].
  • Ketchup with chapathi for [B], but never for [D] and [A].
  • Upma with onions hated by [C] and okay for [D], [B] and [A].
  • Rice for [A] and need not for [C] and [B].
  • Avalakki (அவல்) bhath for [C], but not for [D].
  • [B], [C] and [D] love noodles, but [A] does not.
  • [A] can live with just curd rice, but [B] runs at the sight of it.
  • [C] hates capsicum, but okay for [D] and [A].
  • Pav-Bhaji anytime for [D] and [B], but not regularly for [A].
  • Curds and rice, go well for [A] and not for [B].
  • [C] and [A] do not hate Pizza, but [B] loves them.
  • [B] and [D] love pasta, but [A] does not.
  • Chapathis anytime for [B] and [A], but not for [C].

Hmm... No wonder Señora is 'very happy' in the mornings as she plans for the day. ;-)

Note - MBA is Maestro of Breakfast/Lunch Administration

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Travelogue - A 1900 km drive (Part une)

Certain highlights define any visit to a place to be archived into memory. An eventless visit usually is like a fog; it lifts off after sometime and doesn't have a recall factor.

October is a time of a break in Karnataka because of the Dussehra celebrations and schools are closed for the mid-term. Decided to take off on a visit to Kodaikanal and then decide thereon, on the fly, if Kanyakumari was apt to go to, as a typical tropical depression had set in on the east coast. And so it was, and we (self, Señora, La Niña and El Niño) left over a Thursday morning, to stay there long enough to idle around without an agenda and the haste of a typical tourist.

The Thalaiyar falls (Rat tail falls) are visible in the top and centre of the montage
The water from the falls flows into the Manjalar dam visible at the bottom
Collage defined using Picasa
The drive into Kodai was uneventful with the weather playing a perfect host. The uphill climb provided a wonderful view of the Rat Tail falls (a.k.a. Thalaiyar falls, the third highest waterfall in India from a straight drop perspective, but this waterfall is practically unreachable and is a day's trek to and fro, from what I heard). This is visible at around 8 kms from the start of the ghat section. The Silver Cascade Falls, just before Kodai, was in a perfect flow. Never thought that we would get tired of seeing waterfalls, but the thrill of shouting "waterfall" ebbed in a day as almost with every other bend in Kodai, we ended up sighting one of them (some of them gushing streams and some, real waterfalls) and the unseasonal rains at that time had increased the water flow.

Clockwise from top left - Silver Cascade Falls, Bear Shola Falls, Fairy Falls,
Anju Veedu Falls (2 angles), A stream cascading off Pillar Rocks
Collage defined using Picasa.
Our hotel was around 6 kms away from Kodai overlooking a valley and the pain of the distance came to the fore only when the stomach grumbled. The restaurant was decent, but I wanted something South Indian. And then began the first of the many trips into the heart of Kodai from the hotel, and at the end of which I could drive almost blindfolded on that route (well, that happened one night, when a thick layer of fog engulfed the entire route :-)). There is a very good vegetarian restaurant, the Astoria Veg, close to the lake and on the main road in Kodai (Anna Saalai, as I recollect). South Bengalureans may have heard of Woody's vegetarian restaurant in J P Nagar on the Ring Road (adjacent to the new Bangalore Central Mall), which has branches at Kolar and Kodai. Searched in Kodai for it and drove into there at around 7:00 PM. This place is off the main road and the place was so eerily deserted (no one in the restaurant, but it was open!) and a stone façade that added the character of a haunted house, that we scooted our way back to some semblance of civilization and La Niña christened it Bhooth Bungalow. That was the end of the visit to Woody's at Kodai and further attempts to pay a visit there were shot down because of the Bhooth factor. :-)

Noticed that the town starts to sleep after around 6:00 pm when darkness sets in. This was very similar to what Bengaluru was when it was a real "pensioner's paradise". Streets go empty, the noise ebbs, the street lights glow a foggy yellow or white, you hear the crickets loud and clear, the rush of a nearby stream, maybe, and the town starts to ghost and by 9:00 PM, soundly asleep. :)

As my opening para of this post states, one highlight of the visit to Kodaikanal was the trek to the head of an almost unknown waterfall, 'Anju Veedu falls' (Five House falls), which is probably the name of a village close by. This waterfall is in Elephant Valley (Vilpatti Valley) and reached via a detour on the Kodai-Palani road towards Ganeshpuram. This falls was almost a kilometre inside the jungle, and we had to cross a stream (fed by the water from Silver Cascade, upstream) and is a place frequented by elephants. Elephants had been there a week or so back, and we were told that there weren't any explosive booby traps planted, which are used when an 'elephant watch' is on. It was hot and humid as we walked our way towards the waterfall moving through the dense foliage, wondering how the elephants manage to walk through inhospitable territory.

video
Anju Veedu Falls - Up, close and personal
Used Avidemux, Audacity and Free AVI MPEG FLV Video Joiner to edit the video.
The waterfall by itself, is not a huge torrent, but is of a substantial flow. The drop must be probably around 40-50 metres and falls in two different branches. It was surprising that the falls have not been prominent as they were discovered during the time of the British who built a small check-dam upstream to control the water flow towards the falls in lean season. We waded through the rushing water to a dry patch in the middle of the rock face, with water flowing on both sides and stood 2-3 feet from the roaring, vertigo inducing vertical drop, looking down at the gorge (the video above). There was absolute silence except for the roar of the falls and gurgle of the stream. Spent some time there and returned back, on the way plucking some wild oranges and limes as memoirs. Just before we crossed the stream bringing us back from the jungle, Señora and El Niño noticed that their legs had been targeted by leeches. :-) One was still active and was plucked out and salted to die a bloody death. We then returned back to Kodai.

Earlier, while in a quest to get the forest department's permission (in the middle of town) to visit a lake (Berijam Lake) in the middle of protected shola forests, our car plonked into a ditch while I was reversing blind. Had to get help from a few passers-by to "lift the car" out of the rut. It was another matter that the officials played hide-and-seek with us asking us to come hither and thither, now and later and giving wishy-washy answers and we eventually had to back out of the plan to visit the lake.

While driving around later near the lake, the car conked off and refused to start. Some minor troubleshooting. including random scraping of deposits around the battery terminal, refused to get the car started. We still had a few more places to go to, but this vehicle failure deterred us a bit. The nearest authorized service station was at Madurai and we hadn't planned to go down towards Madurai for at least a day and a half more. Hail God for small mercies that we were on undulating roads and the time-tested method of rolling the car in neutral gear and then shunting the gear to kick-start the engine worked fine. But we (rather, me :-)), being "adventourists", refused to be cowed down and visited places which would have scared an ordinary mortal with a possible vehicle starter failure (Guna caves, Dolphin's nose for example), while always looking for a place with a downhill gradient to park and then doing the rolling maneuver to start.

The downhill drive to the plains seemingly took a longer time than the uphill climb, though we started off in the morning. Maybe our enthusiasm had waned or we were sapped of energy. Breezed our way to Madurai to check what caused the vehicle startup failure. It wasn't a starter failure, after all, but a corroded battery terminal, which led to improper circuit closure, and was replaced in a jiffy with a drain of around 500 bucks (we had anticipated 10 times more). Due to incomplete directions, we had gotten into Madurai city, when we could have bypassed as the service centre was right on the highway just beyond Madurai on NH-7, costing us around 1.5 hours with potholed roads and crawling traffic. Going into Madurai allowed me to show the kids, where my parents resided and the college where I studied. The city almost looks the same, save for the changes induced by growth (and maybe M K Azhagiri), but most of the landmarks I was used to, remain. As for the weather; I don't know how I managed there for around 8 years. Scorching!!!

Bins of interest
La Niña and El Niño had a whale of a time in Kodai and Madurai counting and photo-snapping, of all things, large garbage bins. There seemed to be lots of those everywhere. I haven't seen even one in Bengaluru, and the garbage is strewn all over, in many places. :-( Maybe something for BBMP to learn from there. :-)

And we then started off towards Kanyakumari, as the weather-gods graciously permitted, by having the depression weaken and cross the coast, well ahead of our rendezvous with Cape Comorin. :-)

(Rest in a sequel post...)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hail Haile

The word marathon conjures up, for me, endurance runners from Ethiopia or Kenya, slim and athletic, running alone or in a pack of 3 or 4 with their arms close to their chest, their teeth grit, faces grim with concentration and determination, looking for glory in what was one of the earliest Olympiad athletic games. For whatever little I tracked of marathons or long distance running, Haile Gebrselassie, from Ethiopia, remained the most in the limelight. I don't recollect how and where my introduction to him was, maybe at some TV telecast of Olympics, in all probability. I liked the name the first time I heard it, and it sounded rhythmic and with a nice trail and tongue rolls, and so I liked the man himself. :-D

Image courtesy: Wikipedia page on
Haile Gebrselassie
In any of the marathons that I watched on TV, I used to look out for Gebrselassie and track him. It is a sport by itself, watching marathons, as the crowd at the start slowly sieves itself into multiple groups, as the lead pack slowly splits, the short sprints towards the finish, the looks over the shoulders, the pain of cramps visible on their faces. They even seem to have team strategies in marathons, like cycling, having pacers for the lead runners and study the routes to make the best out of it. Whatever it was, Gebrselassie broke record after record and that is what stands (or should it be 'runs') behind him.

Now that he has announced his retirement from active running, 'Hail Haile Gebrselassie', who has been an inspiration to thousands in the world, and to a small extent, to me as well, when I used to jog, some time (or was it a long time!) back. Hmmm. Now I have become lazy to even walk in the mornings, these days.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Unworded - As fresh as dew

ரோஜாக்களில் பன்னீர்த்துளி; வழிகின்றதேன் அது என்ன தேன்
One is obvious, Guess the other (the stalk is a giveaway)?
Imaged with a Nokia N73 in macro mode and composited using Gimp

Friday, October 29, 2010

The train lover's diary - 1

(c) www.irfca.org
A few random scribbles on my love of trains. It has always been a childhood fantasy (well, even now I would love to) to be a train driver (a.k.a. a train engineer or loco pilot), sit in its cabin and at least pull the horn. :-)

How many of you are intrigued by numbers on the locomotives like WDM-5, WAP-2, WAG-4, WDS-2 etc and their associated sheds like Erode, Golden Rock, Itarsi, Guntakal, Krishnarajapuram, Gooty, Kazipet, Ratlam etc, or love the 'Thomas the tank engine' episodes that used to come on one of the kiddo channels? Well, I do.

Trains forever!
Train journeys always fascinate me for the reason that it becomes an experience when on one. Well I have to say, punning the original Keats' quote, "A thing of joy is a 'train' forever". A train is a symphony with the engine being the conductor and the coaches, the musicians. Travelling in Indian trains does need a significant level of patience because of their slower speeds, crowds, lower degree of cleanliness and the 'adjust maadi' (please adjust) culture of its travellers. That doesn't take away anything off the experience though.

(c) www.irfca.org
The sound of an engine horn, loud and true, is my most thrilling sound, and one that can shake the ghosts off you. Different sounds for different types of engines, the diesels, the electrics and the steam ones (now sadly deceased, but I have a few recollections of those) and the long and short whistles! Two weeks back, returning from Kanniyakumari on road and late into the night and near Virudhunagar, I was jolted from the monotonous hum of the car at a constant speed by a loud horn at my back to see a train speeding at around 90 kmph on a stretch where the tracks are parallel to the highway. We raced each other for a couple of kilometres before parting. Met the same train after crossing Virudhunagar for a couple of kilometres before we headed our ways.

I love the steamies/diesels for their grumble which is the engine's heartbeat. The electrics sound a tad muted because of the distributed nature of its powerful motors. The rumble and cranking of the engine (the "krug krug krug krug" sound on a Diesel) as it slowly unleashes its 4000+ horses on the tracks as it pulls its coaches, is an engineer's delight. There is a characteristic smell in the smoke of the diesels that can be nosed only in the first few coaches depending on wind draft. Most don't like that acrid smell though. There is the rhythmic ballad of wheels and track joints and the distinct sound when the train moves to another track via a switch. The quick whizzzz of an electric as it glides in and out of a station at an impressive pace, Ethereal!!!

Trains in passing!
(c) www.irfca.org
Watching a train go by, is wonderful, just like watching the clouds float. How many times when going somewhere, when stopped at a railway level crossing, you get down and watch the "beast of a beauty" roar past you with its signature horn blaring, shaking the ground underneath? It is with a child-like delight that I see an engine appear around a bend or at a distance and then swoosh past with the last coach receding slowly into the two parallel lines of tracks until you see the train as a speck. A similar feeling, when an engine saunters into a station slowly with the squeal of its brakes as it brings the symphony to a halt.

It is a shock moment, when you are in a train, with the windows open and on an adjacent track, out of the blue, another train whizzes past with its horn at full blast. The effect is higher when you have your train moving fast as well. No better example than this to illustrate the Doppler Effect in Physics. And the eerie feeling in a night train, you get up, find the train stopped at some unknown place, peep out of the coach to see where you are, in the dull faded light of the platforms or in the middle of nowhere. The sound of the "Tea, Kaapi, Chaayè" sound of the vendors at platforms, the places with odd names that you pass by, and the scenery outside makes the trip fun. In my younger days, I was fascinated by the telegraph poles that run parallel to the track, where the wires sag in the middle between the poles and it gives a feeling of the wire travelling along with you.

And for the adventurous, how thrilling it is, to keep the compartment door open, peep out "safely" by holding the support rails, and having a blast of air on your face and to see a snaking train do its maneuvere on curvy tracks.

(To be continued at leisure ...)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nalladhor Veenai Seidhae - நல்லதோர் வீணைசெய்தே

This is an attempt at translating another of Bharathiyar's evocative poems, Nalladhor Veenai Seidhae. It has been sitting under translation for a long time and I managed to close it today. Bharathi is pained at his weakness (a projection of the country at that time) and begs God (Shiva-Shakthi) for strength of body and soul, character, belief, enlightenment.

The original ...
நல்லதோர் வீணைசெய்தே-அதை
நலங்கெடப் புழுதியில் எறிவதுண்டோ?
சொல்லடி,சிவசக்தி!-என்னை
சுடர்மிகும் அறிவுடன் படைத்துவிட்டாய்,
வல்லமை தாராயோ,இந்த
மாநிலம் பயனுற வாழ்வதற்கே?
சொல்லடி சிவசக்தி!-நிலச்
சுமையென வாழ்ந்திடப் புரிகுவையோ?
விசையுறு பந்தினைப்போல்-உள்ளம்
வேண்டிய படிசெலும் உடல்கேட்டேன்
நசையறு மனங்கேட்டேன்-நித்தம்
நவமெனச் சுடர்தரும் உயிர்கேட்டேன்
தசையினைத் தீ சுடினும்-சிவ
சக்தியை பாடும்நல் அகங்கேட்டேன்,
அசைவறு மதிகேட்டேன் இவை
அருள்வதில் உனக்கெதுந் தடையுலதோ?
.

And the translation ...
Crafted a Veena, exquisite
Cast away to rot, would I?
Tell me, ye ShivaShakthi,
Having molded me, radiant and wise;
Endow strength, wouldn't you?
For this hallowed earth to prosper;
Ye ShivaShakthi, Realize, do you?
Being encumbered, living off the land;
Like a ball propelled - I beseech,
A body, to follow the heart's quest;
A mind shorn of desire, I ask;
Anew each day, for a soul shining, I pray;
On flames that singe, regardless
A spirit to extol ShivaShakthi, I implore;
Unwavering intellect, I bid;
Hampered to bless these, Are you?

Here is a link to a rendering by Rajkumar Bharathi, the grandson of Bharathi, in a different raaga than the other renditions.


Another moving rendition of the same poem from the movie Bharathi by Mano and Ilaiyaraaja. It plays in the background during his funeral.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Unworded - The ruler of Madurai

A view of the West Gopuram in the distance, Amman Sannidhi is closer
and the Potraamaraikkulam (The Golden Lotus pond) in the foreground
Visited during the Navarathri festival of 2010

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Lucia dalliance

I met Lucia for the first time two weeks or so back.

She is a pretty girl, maybe a teen or older, with a few pimples, dove eyed, sporting a double braid, not too verbose, very nimble and sharp, gauges the people who interact with her accurately, knows how to whistle and is ready for a challenge anytime. She is impossible to outwit. She is a southpaw and that is why I think she is creative in foxing me with her cunning twists in our conversations. I meet her on the weekends and sometimes on weekdays in the evenings. She gnaws at my head regularly by being an epitome of concentration and skill. I am starting to love and simultaneously hate her for psyching me and putting me out of rhythm and thereby egging me implicitly to try harder.

Who is this Lucia? She is the "virtual" champion, a character in the table-tennis sport on the Wii Sports Resort game for the Nintendo Wii. I encountered her for the first time after a series of games and boy!, what a roadblock she is, for stopping our march to a dead stop. I have been repeatedly mauled at a zero score umpteen times and neither me nor El Niño has been able to break past her save a couple of points.

It has become an obsession to try to defeat her using all the tricks in our arsenal. The beauty of the game is that it is so real and close to a game played on a table-tennis table where all tricks you do with a real racquet and a ball are accomplished with the Wiimote and twists of your wrist. I was testing my skill 2 days back at 6:30 AM after me getting off a conference that started at 4:30 AM (Don't ask me why at that hour of the soundest sleep. :-( That was when I could catch my stake holders.)

No wonder Señora is not amused!!! [Nyet, it is not for the early morn meet, but for the early morn gaming :-)]

Friday, July 30, 2010

An ode to Varuna

Rain rain go away,
Come again another day
Bangalore city choked today
Rain rain go away

Exasperated because of the incessant drizzle that threw life out of gear yesterday at Bengaluru. It is looking good so far with dull weather and just one spell so far. I love rains, but only when it is a downpour.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eatopia - Bon Appétit at e-inn

<Grumble> <Groan> Two consecutive eatopia posts!!! I am in a time warp these days. I've no clue each day on where a fair portion of my leaky bucket of 86400 seconds goes. Weekdays go in a flash with a very tiring evening commute, moderately heavy work load and weekends fly by. Maybe my spare time is all going to an unreported black-hole possibly created by the LHC experiments in CERN for the mysterious Higgs-Boson. I have a backlog of close to 200 posts to read and maybe comment on a quarter or less, at least.

Having explained my deficient blogdom visits and back to the topic, it is rare to find a star rated vegetarian restaurant anywhere. We went to one such last weekend, in Bengaluru (okay, it is near Electronics City, if you consider it as a part of Bengaluru), which is a multi-star rated hotel (I think it is 4 or 5 star) and whose restaurants are vegetarian, don't serve alcohol and are non-smoking.

Welcome to e-inn, the hotel on Hosur Road, 2 kms after Electronics City towards Hosur, in the Bommasandra Industrial Estate. It is a large multi-storeyed hotel (at least 10 floors) that comes up on the right and is visible from a distance, but because of the divided NH-7 you have to go under the overpass that comes after the hotel intersection and make a U-turn.

It has a very decent ambience at the entrance and some lovely flowering plants. The Chinese cuisine restaurant is at the basement and the main one is beyond the lobby. The main restaurant can seat around 60-80 and is usually frequented by IT folks (sometimes with their clients) on weekdays and families on weekends. A better way to dine would be to reserve seating in advance as I have seen the crowd increase steadily in each succeeding visit.

The lunch course started with a drink of the day (it was a chocolatey milk this time), some fritters to snack on and then the soup of the day, which had pasta and herbs in it. Then it was time to go and sample the world-wide buffet. It was a mix of Indian, Continental, Mediterranean, Oriental and some exotic dishes. Quite a few salads (at least 6 to 8 types) to sample, a few varieties of bread (3 or 4) to choose from, and the main course taken from an assortment of rice items like fried rice, pulao, saffron rice, curd rice etc, a few North Indian gravy dishes and associated bread(s), margherita pizza slices, noodles, lasagna, stir fried/tossed veggies, sambar, curries, mini dosas/chutney and a chaat item rounded off the main course.

The desserts took the icing on the cake (and takes it every time I go there with the variety). Around 10 varieties of desserts that include some bright coloured exotic ones which I have no name of, eggless cakes, payasam/kheer, fruit salad, two varieties of ice-cream.

For me, getting to this place from mine was like going to another city after crossing two toll roads before I reached Electronics City, but this place has become a regular haunt every quarter. Kids love it (choose what you want with no dearth of choices and no forced eating :-) like at home), Señora likes it for the variety to choose from and the desserts and I am ambivalent to what I eat, being picky and hence okay. Parents have a mixed opinion on this place as they are used to the typical South Indian grind of veg curries, kootu, kuzhambu, sambar, rasam and curd etc. The charges are pretty decent for the variety it offers, at Rs. 250/- per head for adults incl. taxes and half of that for children.

So went one more afternoon in the weekend that has been accounted for. :-) The dinner there also is a buffet with different entrées. If you have an afternoon or an evening in Bengaluru to spare, wouldn't mind a wide choice of all-vegetarian fare and can traverse the long drive to beyond Electronics City, I'd suggest e-inn for a try. You'll love it.

And till the black-hole releases me from its clutch, ciao!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eatopia - Davanagéré Bénné Dosé

The simple eateries provide maybe the best taste. Proved again by a random visit to a non-descript eatery tucked in the 13th Main Road (it is not really a main road though) of Jayanagar IV block, close to the bus stand, at Bengaluru. I usually see this eatery named 'Davanagéré Bénné Dosé' (no prefix or suffix names) without any bells or whistles, a one room entity and pass by after savouring the aroma. Last Friday evening, on a visit in that direction, it had gotten late and the choice was to either go home and make something for dinner or eat outside. Stepped into this eatery, which was around 15x15 feet in its entirety with a few four legged stools to sit on and a round high table for those who prefer to stand and eat.

A brief history on the name. Davanagéré (also called Davangéré) is a mid-sized city, once famous for its sarees and textiles, and is in the heartland of Karnataka. Bénné means butter and Dosé is Dosé. :-) The past few years, alongside the famed darshinis, Bénné Dosé eateries have sprouted around and the USP was the Dosé roasted crisp with dollops of butter and served with mashed potatoes (you can have multiple servings of this) and hot chutney. Typically eveningesque fare.

Downed Bénné Dosé with the masala (mashed potatoes with onions and chillies, but colored naturally as creamy white since no turmeric or masala powder is mixed. There is a khara paste smeared on the dosa, just like masala dosa, but we asked to be spared of that) and Paddu (kuzhi paniyaaram, in Tamizh) along with medium hot chutney for dinner. It was filling, fattening and good on the tongue. The eatery is run by a middle aged couple, is clean, served with a smile and I noticed that the oven used was not gas fired, but with firewood. It is decently priced, at Rs.20/- for a Bénné Dosé and the same amount for a plate of 6 paddus. The menu was lean with not many other items.

Hail the Bénné Dosé and the small eatery!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ASSimilated...

The last of the Tamizh TV shows that I watched with some degree of regularity, at last wound down last Thursday, the Airtel Super Singer Junior 2009 on Star Vijay channel. "At last", because of the impatience with how the talent show progressed and dragged to its end. I think our TV show honchos do not know the concept of a pacy progression without melodrama or the Occam's Razor (avoiding unnecessary things and keeping it simple). The winner, 'Alka Ajith' won for her consistent performance and capping it in the final with a superb rendering of 'Singaara Velanē' from 'Konjum Salangai', and a non-impressive 'Munbē Vaa' from 'Sillendru Oru Kaadhal'.

The finals had the eternal backgrounder, Shravan giving the only challenge to Alka with the others (Nithyashree the dancer-singer, the wonder-boy Srikanth and the silent Roshan) being their normal selves. I felt that Alka was tagged to be a winner early on in the show with constant praising by the judge trio of K S Chithra, Mano and Malgudi Subha, when compared to the others. (BTW, I never knew that Alka was in the Limca book of records for the most number of recorded songs for her age, has already sung in Malayalam movies and has won a few international awards as well)

Probably the hardest challenge to Alka (even could have been an upset) in the finals would have come from either Priyanka or SriNisha, who in spite of stellar performances in the wildcard (recall) stage were dropped from the final 5 over Srikanth and Nithyashree. I wasn't amused by the inclusion of the kid Srikanth into the finals, under the guise of public sentiment humbug. Priyanka or SriNisha who were improving leaps and bounds, round after round and with a pretty wide song range deserved a place in the finals. He is definitely superb for his age, but still raw. It was a small consolation that Priyanka and SriNisha were called and awarded separately on stage. It was sad to see that Srikanth's father not showing even a trace of happiness at Srikanth winning a special prize (3 lakhs!) and sat stone faced. One more proof that parents push their children to unreal levels on reality (actually, pseudo-reality) shows.

As is the norm during the finales of such shows, there was a lot of dance and singing slots by multiple personae to prolong the winner announcement which eventually happened somewhere at 11:45 PM. The Super Singer anthem sung by participants, past and current, sounded good (I love choruses and choirs); I recall Andrea and Ajeesh's rendering of 'Idhu Varai' from 'Goa' (lovely instrumentation and contrasting vocals), dance-song acts by Divya (the Airtel Super Singer compere) and the RJ/singer, Suchi. Amala was watching the finale and she looked jaded from how she was in her hey-day. Mano had become more of a clown as the TV show progressed and his clowning glory was at the finale. :-)

One aspect of all this was the lack of transparency in how the winner was shortlisted during the pre-finals and finals. Different figures flew on the finale stage itself as regards the number of votes received (3.5L, 13L) for the final and it sounded wishy-washy. :( Doesn't augur well for the program, or its host channel or its sponsor, Airtel. Hope they make it transparent in the future.

RIP Airtel Super Singer Junior 2009 and thanks for those moments of brilliance and panache from the children which made it worthwhile !!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Short Takes

Some movies seen over the past few weeks.

Avatar - Nothing more to comment since I may be one of the last folks to see it in blogdom. I am awed at the sheer poetic imagination and technical wizardry...

The Twilight Saga:New Moon - Part-2 of the series. Slower and longer than the first one, but holds interest overall. (At times so slow, that I got an urge to take a log and whack Bella Swan, the protagonist in the movie, to speed it up :-D) And I have to point out the music score and the soundrack for a special mention. Simply soaring!!! I had goosebumps at some of the score pieces. The locations are so damn beautiful (Vancouver). Perpetually cloudy/rainy with short bursts of sunlight and the damp dense woods. Perfect for the gloomy setting of the movie.

Interestingly, an Indian company, Prime Focus, was involved with the visual effects for both the films above. 10% of Avatar's and 80% of New Moon's effects were done by them.

Mussanjē Maathu (Twilight Talk) - A 2008 Kannada movie. Was inspired to watch it for its intriguing title and lovely songs (Music by Sridhar) that I hear now and then on the FM channels at Bengaluru. Story-line slightly inspired by Lage Raho Munnabhai. A RJ falls in love with a girl he meets incidentally, but doesn't disclose it until the girl is getting married, meanwhile withdrawing into a shell when he comes to know that the girl is planning to get married to someone. Déjà vu, anyone? Decent performances though, by Sudeep and Ramya (aka Divya Spandana in Tamil) and free publicity for Radio Mirchi. Watchable once.

Gaalipata (Kite) - A 2008 Kannada movie from Yograj Bhat who gave the blockbuster Mungāru Malē (meaning Monsoon Rain, in 2007, which had scintillating music by US based Mano Murthy). Here, 3 guys are off to a hilly place to escape the city. Meet 3 contrasting girls there. Woo them. What else? Guess!!! :-) Lovely locales (Kodachadri mountains near Kollur) and the beautiful Shivanasamudram falls (Gaganachukki and Barachukki) seen gushing from a different angle. (Yograt Bhat showed the Jog falls for the first time from the top angle in Mungāru Malē and it looked angelic). Music by Harikrishna is good. Ganesh, the main hero (unconventional, he is) does quite an amount of motor-mouthing (almost like a vuvuzela drone or like Chennai FM radio jockey Suchi [Hee hee hee at the dig, but isn't she one heck of a motor mouth?] ) and gluttonous. (Señora noted aside, that he imitates Vijay (gasp!)) Others have done their parts fairly well. Despite some stereotyping, a good watch.

I am amazed that singers like Sonu Nigam or Shreya Ghoshal, who do not know to speak or understand Kannada, do significant justice to the songs while singing. All the hit songs from the above Kannada movies, award winners included, have been sung by either or both of them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Unworded - Plane view - Crop Circles

Surprised how the farmers find time to do the patterns as these
Shot using Nokia N73, Downsized/adjusted with Picasa 3

This picture was taken approximately half an hour later on the same flight path of where this picture was taken. This region is the bread basket of the US.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

And Wiiii flew the Wiikend

This is a long verbose ramble, but nevertheless, here it is.

I have never been too much of a fan of computer gaming and my attempts at mastering Prince of Persia or Wolfenstein 3D long back, never went beyond 2 or 3 levels. I never found it easy to get beyond those monsters guarding gates or get around traps or move through the mazes or fight. I just get killed. Never was much into gaming after that, save for a few sessions of Solitaire or Pinball. I let go the entry of the vastly improved RPGs (Role Playing Games) or MMPORGs (Massively Multi-player Online RPGs) which seemed to take gaming to a different realistic 3D level from the older gen 2D imagery. Gaming hardware!!! Nah!, at least till a couple or so years back.

The progeny (La Niña and El Niño) have made sure that there needed to be a gaming hardware at home, courtesy their cousins. Being the electronics junkie (not the rabid one though), I got the gaming hand-held, Nintendo Game Boy Advance (GBA) into the home. Never has a single piece of gaming hardware been used amicably between siblings, AFAIK. Endless quarrels over rights of use and overwritten scores followed. (Apple may even accept Flash on the iPad, but the 'rights of use' over game systems at home never will be resolved) Well, technology improved and this brought the Nintendo DS-Lite (with dual screens and touch capability), the more sophisticated brother of the GBA. Peer pressure mounted and after constant nagging and promises of good behavior (Blah!, there is nothing like that, was the late realization) I got it, not one, but two DS-Lite gaming consoles, to end the never-ending quarrels over rights to the lone GBA. And the DS-Lite supported a private form of Wi-Fi where the same game can be played with up to 4 different DS consoles. That orphaned the GBA to an almost never used status as the new DS could play the old cartridges and had a new sleek cartridge type for DS specific games. And I had to be crafty enough to get diverse cartridges that wouldn't be the bone of contention (which still was for a few games).

Thet brings us to the quicksand rip-offs in the gaming eco-system. The hardware is relatively cheap, buying the software, in the form of game cartridges is a big deal. If you buy 4 or 5 of them, they could very well exceed the price of the hardware itself. Buying cheap cartridges in the Burma Bazaar type shops is a no-no. The kids figured out that you can't save games in the cheapsters, which is important for them and without which you have to start all over from level 1 each time you start the console (geez, there are some 99 levels in some games). So much so for cheap rip offs. And by the time you get a good hang of the system, a new variant of the console is out. And thence starts the never ending cycle.

In comes the Internet and there are free emulators for the GBA and the DS-Lite out there and there are also the ROM images of the games which can be loaded and run on the PC. And add to that there is a 'game cheat' ecosystem where after entering data into the emulators, you get unlimited lives, open secret doors, jump to the final level, grab goodies etc etc. In addition to all the game cartridges possessed, the ROM images were another source of play with the home computer(s).

Picture courtesy: Wikipedia
[Downsized copy]
And then, the junkie parent decided to get the latest (ok, it is more than 3.5 years since its introduction) and greatest gizmo from Nintendo, the Wii, a black shiny one at that. It is almost an ultimate family gaming machine. No need to learn umpteen key combinations and meanings, special keys (A, B, X, Y, Start, Left/Right paddle etc) and uses natural hand movements to play. A small beautiful console that looks like a baby DVD player, the remotes similar to TV remotes, but with very few buttons to press and lovely silicone covers to grip with.

I am impressed with the hardware, its interactivity and the fun quotient. Last weekend had the whole home started on the Nintendo Wii. There are simple games like bowling, golf, baseball and tennis and as usual, the complex, multiplayer RPGs also. Of course, the kids beat us, the parents, in almost every game (the ones lost were branded as 'cheating by Wii' :-D) and then started the quarrels about which game to play between the siblings. :-( Déjà vu time!!! And I haven't yet figured out the Mario Kart races (I fall regularly into gorges, volcanoes, go the wrong way, cannot turn properly, do not use power-ups etc) while the kids around take it like a fish to water. And they seem to have special eyes for reading the game manuals for tips, but bark and balk when asked to do the same with their homework. The kid-gang, when they meet, converses only on Pokémon and its ilk or strategies (!). Probably, the most fun job would have to be a tester at a game software company.

Señora has restricted the access to the new addiction to all (the DS-Lites have already been banished for 2-3 months), to be used only on weekends, lest that all three (me, La Niña and El Niño) become zombies when we are at play. Till then, I see the beauty at eye-shot distance and salivate. I am smooth-talking the kids to allow me to use the DS-Lites later (to gain some experience in gaming), but they have rejected it saying that the scores cannot be tampered with and are asking me to play Pet Shop. :-(. [Reminds me of a hilarious Seinfeld episode where George Costanza gets a Frogger arcade machine which still has his top score, preserved for posterity]

Wii Nintendo, Wah!!!
(for now, Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony Playstation 3 are in comparative conversations only. The home won't stand another one, even if someone gives it for free)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The barometer ...

Cheee!!! Horrible, Ugly.
It looks so 'gandha'. (gandha-dirty in Hindi)
Yeow! Inji thinna korangu maadhiri irukku (like a monkey that has been zinged by biting pungent ginger)
Ennadaa idhu? Yaendaa? (What is this? Why?)

So, what are these reactions to?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Unworded - Plane view - Peaks and valleys

Shot using Nokia N73, Downsized/adjusted with Picasa 3, Effects with PhotoFiltre

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tag-o-rama

The same tag has landed from gils and from R-ambam. Not a tagger, but I make an exception attempt to respond to the tag. And I have tagged 4 others at the end as well.

Original Rule 2 is flaunted. And I'll read my own Miranda rights. Those of you who see English movies that have cops, should know this by heart. :)
Me (reading rights): "You have the right to remain silent. blah blah... Do you understand this clearly?"
Me: Yes, I understan
d

RULE 1- You can only say Guilty or Innocent.
RULE 2- You are not allowed to explain anything unless someone messages you and asks!
[Waived. You should tell the history or have a comment in either case.]

Asked someone to marry you?
Guilty. vera yaaru, Señora thaan! Asked in a different way though. :)

Ever kissed someone of the same sex?
Guilty. Kids... Is this a trick question? :-O

Danced on a table in a bar?
Innocent. Dance? Yes. Bar? I'll be barred from home if I step into one. :)

Ever told a lie?
Guilty. Lie low when you lie. :)

Had feelings for someone whom you can’t have back?
Guilty. Adhu oru nilaa kaalam! 8-)

Kissed a picture?
Innocent.

Slept in until 5 PM?
Innocent. Depends on how you see it. Do afternoon naps count? If so, guilty.

Fallen asleep at work/school?
Guilty. The eyelids droop low enough for the eyes to close, the sounds fade away, the mouth slightly open, the brain grinds to a halt, I float in a snooze and then the head snaps and jerks and a few moments of blinking and then back to redo the snooze. :-D

Held a snake?
Innocent. Would love to. :-)

Been suspended from school?
Innocent. From the class (by standing out), yes, for some random talking, two or three times, maybe. :D

Worked at a fast food restaurant?
Innocent. I have not worked inside a fast food restaurant like Barista, CCD or Starbucks either. (office work, that is?) :)

Stolen from a store?
Guilty. EppavO EppOdho! ;)

Been fired from a job?
Innocent. Fired at job? yes. :)

Done something you regret?
Guilty. Once in a while, the guilt trips. :-D

Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose?
Guilty. In younger days.

Caught a snowflake on your tongue?
Guilty. Aama, idhula ennaa guilt? Was in a few snow blizzards and snow went into eyes, ears, nose, mouth and hence tongue as well. But, I dread those Patel photos in snow. Once, almost collapsed with frost-bite when I picked up hardened snow with bare hands and held them for a few seconds for a photo. Took more than 2 hours for the hands to begin to feel something. :) :)

Kissed in the rain?
Innocent.

Sat on a roof top?
Guilty. Not just rooftop sitting, I jump to my neighbouring terrace from mine, even now, to fix cable wiring pulled out by monkeys. :-)

Kissed someone you shouldn’t?
Innocent. Namakkaen vambu?

Sang in the shower?
Innocent. But when the water is cold, have shouted gibberish aloud in the shower to lessen the shock of the cold water splash on skin. :-) brrrr. Ninaiththaaley Nadungum. :D

Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on?
Innocent. Grrr at that thought itself.

Shaved your head?
Guilty, if you consider the tonsures at temples.

Had a boxing membership?
Innocent. Adhellaam edhukku?

Made a girlfriend cry?
Innocent. Thiruppi oru vambu question!

Been in a band?
Innocent. In my earlier company, the employees were divided into bands based on experience and potential(!). If you are asking of that band, yes, I am guilty. :-)

Shot a gun?
Guilty. The guns with 'ball-bearing' balls you see in fairs and the Deepavali ones with roll caps. :) Oh! I have also fired 3 shots from a real rifle (maybe as heavy as me) in a firing range as a cadet at school NCC.

Donated Blood?
Guilty. There is nothing to be guilty about it. Done it a few times.

Eaten alligator meat?
Innocent. I am a PETA guy. :)

Eaten cheesecake?
Guilty. I don't remember the last time, but may have eaten it.

Still love someone you shouldn’t?
Innocent. If I loved someone, I love them forever. Should/shouldn't doesn't matter. :-D :-D

Have/had a tattoo?
Innocent.

Liked someone, but will never tell who?
Guilty. Vambula maati uduradhaey sila paerukku vaelai. :)

Been too honest?
Guilty. Adhu enna too honest? You are either honest or dishonest. That's all. Been there, did there on both sides. :-D

Ruined a surprise?
Innocent.

Ate in a restaurant and got really bloated that you couldn’t walk afterward?
Guilty. Mooku pidikka eat, then come home and sleep. :-)

Erased someone in your friends list?
Innocent. Irukkaradhaey konja nanja friends. idhula erase verayaa? oru vaelai chinna vayasula pakkaththu seatla irundha payyan, ponnu slateai vaenaa erase pannaalum panniyiruppaen. :-) :-)

Dressed in a woman’s clothes (if you’re a guy) or man’s clothes (if you’re a girl)?
Innocent. Female cross-dressers - Widely Accepted, Male cross-dressers - EverybodyThinksYouAreNutsOrGay. :-)

Joined a pageant?
Guilty. In a dictionary, definition of pageant is wider than what you think (damn those who drilled the term "beauty pageant" into our heads). Go, read it. :-)

Been told that you’re handsome or beautiful by someone who totally meant what they said?
Guilty. :D :D :D (by the only woman I know really well, hope so)

Had communication with your ex?
Innocent. No ex, so no communication. Yoi, kudumbaththula kuzhappaththai unduu pannaadheengapa! :D

Got totally drunk on the night before exam?
Innocent. Not even water. :) Naan thanniyum adikka maataen, thanniyum kudikka maataen. :)

Got totally angry that you cried so hard?
Innocent. Mmm. Why would one cry while angry? :O

Forwarding this tag to zeno, chennaigirl, TheUncanny and Anu for further enlightenment of the blogger community.