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Showing posts from 2010

Two busy weekends and a fashion tantrum

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Whew, what a hectic 9 days! Two weekends filled to the brim with baby functions - two thread-tying ceremonies, a baptism and two birthday parties! And now time to look forward to the Christmas holidays starting off with my niece's first birthday on the 24th. Lots of fun!
Yesterday was my nephew's first birthday and we were busy decorating the hall early in the morning. Then it was time for all of us to be ready and I started off by getting our toddler (yes the mudbaby himself, see it here) ready. After his bath, I helped him put on his diaper and trousers and he sat up on the bed and began to look around for his shirt. Now here I have to be honest - it was not new, it was a hand-me-down from his elder brother that I had saved. It was a half-sleeved shirt that I thought was cute because it was striped and looked like an adult's shirt. In my defense, it is a pretty good colour that looked good on our kid. So what did our son do? He took one look at the shirt and asked me (in…

December madness and a glimpse into the past

I don't know about you, but December usually sees me in a frenzy of decluttering and reorganizing whereever I am in the world. Somehow, the proximity of a new year makes me want to tear up old things, shove some things into oblivion and reorganize things to an inch. I feel it is almost prompted by my subconscious, because I have never circled December 1 on my calendars in red to prompt me, ever. But the thing sort of creeps up on me, noiselessly, surreptitiously. For example, take this year. In the first week of December, I was putting away my clothes in my wardrobe and I noticed a dress that I hadn't worn in about a year - 15 minutes later, a few dresses had been picked out and bagged up ready for recycling (also known as sewing dishrags). This week the urge has already manifested itself as rearranging our second bedroom and heaving the cots about singlehandedly. Today, I went through a stash of old notebooks/journals/diaries. I sorted them into  three piles, put away one for…

Movie Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

Ooooh, I almost forgot to tell you about the latest HP release. Yes, I made it to a show last Saturday and liked it a lot. In preparation, I had once again gone through my copy of the book - yes, I have all 7 of them. As expected, the book has been compressed a lot - or they would probably have had to make the movie in 7 parts instead of 2. But the compression is in no way detrimental to the plot line. All throughout the movie, I kept wondering where they would find an apt ending for the first part and was very satisfied. Dobby's death and the finding of the Elder Wand really did make a fitting climax.

One of the things I was pleased about was the way Hedwig passes. I always thought that the book had not done justice to her in the manner of her death and I am happy that the movie does one better. It also lets Harry off the hook for declaring himself with his signature Expelliarmus spell. The endless and futile searching for the Horcruxes has been neatly edited so that it doesn'…

NaNoWriMo score and updates

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It's the day of reckoning and how many words do I have to show for my NaNoWriMo challenge? A mere 5124 against the target of 50,000. But hey, that's a beginning! I found out several things during the process - I like typing on the keyboard better than writing - well, that's an eyeopener, to say the least. May be some pro-environmental brainwashing is finally taking hold, because when I tried to write on paper, the thought of several rewrites and additions came to mind and I could not do it. So tap, tap it is for creative writing! I also found that although one part of me wanted to stay on and keep describing scenes, another part wanted to speed up and finish the plot while the flourishes could wait for later. It really was effective, because when I look back at the - ahem - MS, if find that I can clearly conjure up the entire scene as I visualised it in the first place when I read the sketchy scenes and can easily add up the atmosphere and the works.
So was the exercise fu…

Something crafty!

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Ahaa! Here is my latest craft accomplishment:


Yes, it is my new earring organiser, the new and improved version. If you want to see the previous one, click here . I have been clever and have added three small pockets for a few stray items. I thought of making it a proper wall-pocket organiser, but that would make it too big and too heavy. As such the wool is stretching a bit. I've also stuck a huge safety pin behind the panel near the bottom right corner so that I can corral my ever-wandering safety pins in one place. Pretty handy, I tell you! I can't seem to get the temperamental picture uploading tool to work right now, otherwise I would have put up a picture of that too. Each time I pass by it in the bedroom, I feel as pleased as punch! Now I have no trouble finding a suitable pair of earrings at all!
Meanwhile, my clotheslines are full of damp clothes of two-day vintage. It seems Kerala is borrowing England's climate for a while and that too a bit heavily! Flash floods a…

Gardening surprise

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I must say that life is really surprising sometimes. For example, I have already told you about our vegetable gardening misadventures and now look at this:

This bean plant grew at the side of my back door all by itself and is giving us fresh beans everyday! All I did was throw the water left after washing rice in the general direction of the plant. It is also the favorite of an ant colony that has set up house nearby. So veggies can grow in our garden!
I have also gathered some for future planting, although I am not sure where this particular bean has come from, because it doesn't look like any that we usually buy.
I am feeling much more better now that my gum is almost healed and the sun is shining. But I think we can enjoy whatever the weather is if we are healthy. Day before yesterday, I was bringing home my elder son and it was raining very heavily. My younger one was safe at home with his grandma, so I did not have to worry about him getting wet. My elder one splashed ahead of …

About teeth and the quality of life... weak stomachs, beware!

Dear Readers,
I've really missed you a lot. Even if I don't receive comments on all my posts, it was enough for me to know that my missives are out there in cyberspace, communicating my thoughts and ideas to some fellow human beings. So I really missed writing to you in the past week!
Well, today I am departing from the norm and writing about something I really did not enjoy. Since our return from Bengaluru, I had been prey to extreme lethargy and bouts of chills and fever. I tried to brush it off blaming it on some Bengaluru bug, but the pain struck - and how - on Diwali eve. I woke up on Diwali day with a humongous toothache that threatened to incapacitate me. But since we had already made plans to spend the day at a beachside resort, I resorted to taking painkillers at 6-hourly intervals to just survive. Thanks to those pink pills, I could swim and frolic to my heart's content.  I paid for it the next day when I went to the dentist and he told me that an impacted wisdom t…

From my bookshelf - 4

This is one book you would want to come back to again and again - Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals. The last time I read it was more than ten years ago and I had completely forgotten how hilarious it was. Durrell recalls the events of a few years his family had spent on the Greek island Corfu. He was around 10 at the time and a regular enfant terrible with a penchant for all wildlife. Imagine your kid letting loose a scorpion mother on your dining table with tiny baby scorpions dripping from all over her or letting water snakes cool in your bath tub! That's what Gerry does on a regular basis. The book is a hoot from beginning to end with some extremely clever and funny character sketches of his own family members and the people they come into touch with. Now I am certainly going to look out for more of his works!

Have you read any of Durrell's works?

A little feverish and my visit to Bengaluru...

What, a whole week went by without posting? Sheesh, I must have been in the daze of the Bengaluru bug-induced fever to notice things! Suddenly it's Sunday, the end of October and it's like I am waking up from a stupor.
Yes, last weekend we chugged off to Bengaluru to visit a few long-standing friends. Bengaluru - the site of my first and to-date last full-time job back at the beginning of this century! Wow, weekends spent roaming MG Road and environs, eating kachori chat at Maheswari Chaat behind Commercial Street, collecting precious books from the street vendors... good old times.
Understandably, MG Road was one of our intended destinations this time around. Brigades looked quite the same in the cool dusk - busy as usual, but as we emerged into MG Road, I couldn't even concentrate on the shops and stalls by the wayside. The Metro Rail overpass kind of engrossed my attention in all its huge, ugly and unfinished bulk. Walking alongside made me feel as though I were being s…

Movie Review - Endhiran

Have you seen the movie Millennium Man in which Robin William plays a robot that wishes to become a man? Well, add a lot of garam masala to it and add some tadka at the end and you get Endhiran, the latest Rajni-Shankar blockbuster. We went to a small-town theatre to watch it in the third weekend after release (which we deemed to be safe from crowds), only to see people bring in extra chairs to sit down in the aisles. I haven't seen a movie hall that filled since - well...I don't know when!
The story is simple enough - Vazigaran (ordinary Rajni) the scientist creates a humanoid robot Chitti (extraordinary Rajni) after 10 years of research. He intends to use it for military applications, mostly in situations dangerous for humans (eg, mine field clearing), so why he uploads all the art and culture data into it is a bit odd. But then, who doesn't like a robot who can do Bharatanatyam and the tango with equal flare? Would be a great hit at the officers' parties. The robot i…

NaNoWriMo and my Quikut knife

Aaah, I finally think I am reaching somewhere. For years I have been looking at the NaNoWriMo website, hesitating, dillydallying and shillyshallying before brushing aside any notion of joining to some dark corner of my mind. (For those who don't know: National Novel Writing Month is meant to be a motivator to sit down and write something that is at least 50,000 words long - in short, a novel.) But today I was led there while browsing through some blogs and it seemed almost serendipitous that I reached it with plenty of time to start. I took it as an omen and signed up before I had time to think and backpedal. One of the things that they ask you to do in their welcome mail is to tell as many people as you can that you are writing a novel in the month of November. So here I am, declaring my intention to write a novel. Why don't YOU join me as my writing buddy? Don't have any idea about what to do or write about? Don't worry, neither have I. But I have not let that stop m…

Wish you all a Happy Navratri!

Today evening, along with my son's school books, I shall be putting up my favorite hero pen (yes, I still use those and I do have inkpots!), a notebook, a paintbrush and my collection of crochet hooks for the puja. And I will religiously give up reading till Vijayadasami on Sunday. Yeah, I know that it is just meant for students mostly, but hey, when does one stop being a student in this world? Not a day goes by when we don't learn something - be it the best combination of grains to make good dosas, finding a perfect way to counter the tantrums of a toddler (diversion, of course!), learning a foreign language phrase from TV or even just the fact that wasp's nests are stuck to surfaces with glue that is stickier that Fevicol, but very elastic. So I will be putting up my tools for puja this year too, if not for anything else, just to remind me that I am still a student in the best sense of the term. Since my husband might need the laptop, I shall not be putting that up, but …

Good morning!

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Up at 4:30. A gloriously leisurely bath instead of the usual 10-minute dash. A breakfast of crispy, golden brown dosas to look forward to...


And in the meanwhile, a steaming mug of hot chocolate to fortify me...



The toughest question facing me - start a good book or play some more with Perler Beads? Hmm... think I will go ahead with the book in the spirit of the day.

It'll be at least an hour before a "Coo moning" from my toddler who will be smiling even while he's rubbing his eyes. Aaaah, the peace and quiet...

Wish you all a lovely Sunday morning!

What do you do on a rainy afternoon?

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It's the eighth day of October today and the number of days when we had some uninterrupted sunshine for at least an hour so far are three. The last two days my son didn't have to go to school because the district collector declared them holidays due to the heavy rain. Since he couldn't go outside to play and was bored with TV, I had to find something to do...
I finally broke out my Perler beads collection. For those unfamiliar with the name - it's a bead craft for kids (ahem, ahem!) with teeny tiny cylindrical plastic beads that you arrange on pegboards of different shapes to create pictures or objects. My explanation not enough? Check this out - Perler Beads .
My Perler beads have a history - they have been in my craft stash - untouched - for a whopping 6 years now! I hope none of you will mind my taking the title "queen of procrastination"! And I didn't just buy one tub of beads - no sirree! I have two tubs of them and a whole set of a dozen or so differe…

Last week's project

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Our son's school had sent ahead a list of events the students could participate in for the "cultural fest" scheduled for the third week of October. Since the kiddo loves dressing up, we signed him up for the fancy dress competition. Imagine our surprise when we got a note last Monday, just when he had finished his first term exams, saying that the competition would be conducted on that Friday itself. Result - doting Mama scurrying around for a costume that would fit in the theme of "Harvest festivals of India".
What would I do without the internet? I had already decided that he would be representing the Lohri festival of Punjab, but I had no dress. Frantic calling of city costumers ensued - all of them said they didn't have the requisite costume in child size and if I gave them a week, they could get it made and rent it to me. Not enough time. That's when I thought of making it myself. So out I went shopping. A few hours of stitching later - here's w…

From my bookshelf - 3

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There are some things which we take for granted in life. For me, one of them is my choice of newspaper. It has always been Malayala Manorama. When I started reading, we were in Dammam, Saudi Arabia and my parents used to buy MM during the weekends - the news was always 5 days old, but that did not matter. I remember my family and friends discussing the actor Jayan's tragic death 5 days after it happened. In the time of trunk calls, no one wasted money or time to convey such "trivial" news to their relatives abroad. The only time my choice for Mallu news wavered was when I was in the US and we had to make do with online newspapers. Deepika was my favorite then because all the news loaded on one page and the only thing I had to do was scroll down. But at all other times, it's always been Manorama...
This August, Malayala Manorama's chief editor, Mr. K.M.Mathew passed away. He had been the chief editor of the paper since the time I knew about it, or rather, he was Ma…

Movie Review - Pranchiyettan and the Saint

I was in two minds today as to what to share with you - a wonderful movie or a great book. The movie wins for the day.
Before reading: The following is written by a huge fan of Ranjith, the director. All excesses may be excused. Please turn away if you are not a rabid fan :-)
Ranjith has done it again - you have to hand it to him. We saw what he can do with fantasy in Nandanam. He's done it again in Pranchiyettan and the Saint. I hadn't read any pre-release news of this movie and my first intro to it was a poster on the wayside with the picture Mammootty in a fluorescent purple jubba, horrible gold framed eye-glasses with folded hands held up. I checked the title:  Pranchiyettan... what the h*** does that mean??? was my first reaction. I certainly thought it was just another mafia movie of sorts and laughed at the horrific name. Two days later, I came to know that it was by Ranjith and heard that it might be worth watching. So this weekend, we went to book tickets for the first …

The best time for gardening...

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G.. and why I don't complete my weeding

It's tough for me to do any gardening during the week - for one I have housework to do. Also it doesn't help when one's two-yr-old needs full time supervision in the yard. Stooping and babysitting are so not compatible to each other. So last weekend I got up early and was in my garden by 6 a.m. Aah, no interruptions - I marked out a portion for deweeding and got it done within half an hour.




As you can see, there is still a lot of greenery left behind - but there is a reason behind it. I intend to have a natural lawn there instead of planting store-bought lawn grass. It's in part a homage to my most favorite college campus - CMS college. I still remember finding the gardeners in the college wielding two-feet long blades, squatting on the ground and mowing the lawns in wide arcs around them during our summer exam times. With the first monsoon rains, the grass would again shoot up and create the deepest green, sturdiest lawn yo…

Movie Review - Eclipse

Whew - it did take a while! The latest of the vampire series was released in the last week of July and took its own sweet time reaching Thiruvananthapuram.

For those not in the know - Eclipse is the third in the series of movies based on the vampire series of books by Stephenie Meyer. It centres on a high-school student Bella Swan who moves to the rainy town of Forks in Washington to be with her father for a while. She meets and falls in love with Edward Cullen fully knowing that he is a vampire. To make things interesting, there is another love angle with the werewolf/shapeshifter Jacob Black and different vampire covens who try to kill Bella periodically if her clumsy self does not do the job first.

If you plan to watch the movie, be prepared to read the books first or at least watch Twilight and New Moon in that order. Otherwise you might find yourself wholly muddled by the plot.

As a movie, Eclipse does a good job of editing down the endless, agonising mind chatter of Bella dow…

From my bookshelf - 2

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Hi,


I am back from a 5-day trip to our hometown to celebrate Onam with our family members. And I made a trip to my favorite hometown bookstore where I have a VIP Home Library Scheme membership to collect my annual quota of free books. I got to finally complete my James Herriot collection with the title I had been missing! I had all of Herriot's omnibus editions except "All Creatures Great and Small" and here is my collection!



For those of you who have not read the James Herriot series - it is a collection of stories about a vet practising in the Yorkshire Dales right before the World War II started. James Herriot, a Glasgow lad fresh our of veterinary college finds a place as assistant to Siegfried Farnon in the Yorkshire Dales - a place and a situation he finds so agreeable to his tastes that he decides to settle there. The books are filled with stories of his interactions with some remarkable animals and even more remarkable human beings - all told in an easy, humourou…

From My Bookshelf - 1

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Aah, I got around to decluttering my bookshelf and here is the final result for now - ta da!

As part of the "prevent burnout" precaution, the first stage was just to remove all the "non-books" from the books. So all the umpteen files and folders and what not got shoved elsewhere and the "real" books have taken their rightful place. The top right corner shelf contains my discards - the books that I intend to give away. The rest are barely classified into fiction and non-fiction - not even in alphabetic order. That's for another day!
This book fell out from the shelf yelling "share me, share me" today.


This book certainly followed my dictum for buying books - viz., first borrow, then buy. I was attracted by the fun cover and the fact that it was not fiction when I was browsing in the local Bookmark library in Pune. The next visit to Crossword, I searched high and low for the title in the memoir and spirituality sections, only to ask for help and …

A teeny bit of gardening

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This Sunday I ventured into our "garden". As such it is a wasteland of weeds and stones, but in my mind, it 's a luscious tropical grden filled with all the flowers I love - not for me the exotic orchids or vapid anthurium, I intend it to be a "native" garden with hibiscus, ixora, angelic nanthyarvattam, kadukkan, jasmine and so on. And of course - the rose in its various avatars like this one below...


or one like this too...

Now I have a "War of the Roses" in my garden! But these flowers are sort of "ready made" because I got them from the flower nursery already flowering - I just took them out of the pots and planted them. They pale before this one little shoot below...

Can you even see it? I brought four cuttings from a climbing rose from my mother-in-law's place and planted it there almost two months ago. Although the monsoon and I tended them, they didn't do anything till last week when this tiny bud started coming out. I had almos…

Movie Review: Katha Thudarum

The latest Sathyan Anthikad offering does not disappoint - as usual. I love his movies in that they are about normal people and circumstances that we encounter in real life - not about swashbuckling and roaring heroes who knock away bull-necked goondas with a mere flick of their fists. (If you are a Mallu, have you seen the svelte and weak-looking heroes swat the likes of well-muscled Baburaj and Riyaz Khan as though they are flies? Beats my imagination!) Katha Thudarum is no different - it speaks of a couple who are estranged from their families because they dipped into the wrong community pool for their life partners. The story begins when the husband is accidentally killed and the (unemployed) wife and little daughter try to make do without any help from the families.

Circumstances bring them into the shelter of a small, tightly-knit colony of an auto-driver, his landlady and miscellaneous neighbours. Together, they form a protective cordon for the little family that was on the brin…

Sewing curtains and an accidental paneer burji...

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I am proud of what I have accomplished today before 11:30 - all the breakfast and school-going related hoohaa, three loads of laundry, almost all the dishes washed (the sink is not exactly shining in FlyLady lingo) and one more curtain done.

Yep, that's what I have been doing these days - getting simple curtain rods fixed, measuring and calculating till my poor head started aching and buying reams of cloth. The material you see below is the one I am using for my living room....



I'll post the full curtain pics once I have also got some lacy panels in too. I am stitching the current panels in simple tab-top (cafe curtain) style. For several days I put off stitching the curtains just because of the thought of stitching up the tabs. Cutting and hemming the panels are so easy compared to making the tabs. But then I hit upon the idea of assembly-line production. Instead of making them one by one, I made them together like so...


Thereafter it was pretty easy to secure the velcro and fi…

Welcome to my bookshelf

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I am officially in trouble - when we built Karthika, I had a bookshelf built in one of the bedrooms to house my collection of books - look at them now... and there are still books to come. Hmm... I think have some decluttering to do! I think it will also be better  when I have arranged them well... these are now in the state I thrust them in willy nilly as they came out of the boxes. There are definitely some books that have no place in my life any more - e.g.  the "What to Expect When You are Expecting " seen in the picture below :) ... definitely need some decluttering!


I have also come across some books I never tire of reading - earlier I had this thumb rule while buying books - I would never buy a book unless I had enjoyed it so much that I wanted to own it and dip into it again and again. But soon I found that I couldn't borrow all the books I wanted to read - so I had to buy more! And now I have no room - and can't buy another bookshelf till some more urgent exp…

Country neighbours

I have had comparitive thoughts about neighbours (in the most dispersed sense of the word) as I was walking back from the school bus stop this morning. In the US, where I might have been more conspicuous than a bulbous zit at the end of the nose, the natives just passed me by with a direct gaze and bright "hi". In Pune, I was just part of the scenery. Here, I am, at least till now, a curiosity. It doesn't help that I deliberately converse in both Hindi and English with my elder son and croon English rhymes with my younger one and that I wear sneakers with my chudidhars. I just love to see people watching me covertly with puzzled faces... . Please don't take it that I do it to get a rise out of them, but I just want to see how many of them will satisfy their curiosity, directly or otherwise. And I've been very happy with the results.
There have been people who have come out with direct questions as to where I live after having ascertained that I understand Malayal…

Movie Review - Ravanan

Last weekend we went to see the much-hyped Ravanan - much-hyped is used perfectly deliberately. Sorry Mr. Maniratnam, but I enjoyed "Roja" much better than this. It is a hash of all the most cliched themes in movie/fiction history including Stockholm syndrome, golden-hearted bandit, sister-raped-by-police sob story and the usual Ramayana stuff. I saw the trap laid for Ravan miles ahead. I just can't see where the "new take" on Ramayana is unless it's in the location. And a fickle and masochistic Sita who falls for a mass-murderer/terrorist just because he happens to fancy her. Seriously, I think the actors are touting the movie only because they had to put in a lot of physical hard work and endure mosquito and leech bites (or did they?) of the forest in order to make the movie. I saw Prithviraj enthuse in one of his publicity interviews that this was the first movie of his that he would show to his grandchildren - one word of advice Prithvi, with all due re…

Just peeking in for a while

It's been raining here - continuously - for more than a week now. I have 3-day old washing on the line that is yet to dry well. The sun is trying to peek out this afternoon, but the best he can do is a watery smile that threatens to turn into a shower at any time. Last Saturday when I took my green denim bag to go shopping, it had a white bloom all over it! Something that would never have happened in Pune! That was Pune's great advantage - I never had to worry whether my laundry would dry soon - even in the rainiest season, the maximum it took for my clothes to dry was never more than 6 hours. But hey, I am not complaining or thirsting to go back. I don't miss Pune at all, except for a couple of friends that I made there.

My mother-in-law has left after a fortnight's visit. She was a great help when it came to setting the house to order. I tend to be overwhelmed when I see a lot of work piled up before me. But each morning after breakfast she asked me "What is ou…

Back again!

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Yes, I know that it has been a long hiatus since my last post. But hey, I have a good reason! So here is the big news... We are back at Karthika! Yes, our poor abandoned home is not abandoned any more! It's now alive with the sounds and noises of its prodigal owners...

Our move was somewhat smooth with just a few mishaps which we managed to survive. The whole of last month were filled with packing, selling, sending, unpacking etc. and I have not seen the end of it yet. But at least everyone has enough to eat, wear and play with for the time being and we are happy. The rest will fall in place eventually...
Which is why I am typing this now - in the past I would have been frantically organizing and cleaning till everything was absolutely perfect before I even considered writing this post. Almost all our moves in the past saw me laid up for at least a week soon after we reached our destination with a bad cold/flu or a back ache. This time, in sync with my new resolve to chuck perfecti…

A few pics to entertain you...

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Hi,

I am totally busy this week with my whole place turned almost literally upside down. I have just sat down at the computer to look at a few pictures of places that we've visited recently just to unwind. Then I thought I would share them with you too...








These were all taken in Mahabaleshwar, a hill station near Pune, about three hours' drive away...

Not so perfect crafting

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Phew, didn't that week pass so quickly? And there's something in the pipeline that I am very excited and busy about... but more about that later!
One of my pet hobbies is saving crafting tutorials of all kinds from the internet - I already have a collection of craft projects that could last me at least two lifetimes. And I won't mention how I get craft supplies without really having a project lined up for it! If it was just yarn or painting supplies or embroidery supplies, it would have been ok. As far as I am concerned variety IS the spice of life, so I have many things stashed in several places including a 5-year-old box of Perler beads that hasn't even been opened. Since we have been on the move since I bought them, it is now in a suitcase in my mother-in-law's home. When I came to Pune, I brought my crochet hooks and a set of yarns that I have had since 2006. I wanted to do only crochet, but after getting here, I got myself some painting supplies and a sewing ma…

Hello Blogland!

Dear reader,
Let me tell you who Karthi is... it's not me! Karthi is short for Karthika, my family's dream home in a village in Thiruvananthapuram. We got it built more than a year ago and spent one night in it. Then we moved to Pune, a 36-hour-long train ride away from our home because of a year-long assignment for my husband.

Karthi is the name of my blog because to me, our as-yet-uninhabited home is a metaphor for several things, most of all, my own life. In the past one year, in which I had a BIG 35th birthday, I have come to certain realizations. Many months after moving to this tiny apartment, I let all my homemaking slide because I was engrossed in thinking when I would be able to live in Karthika, making up and collecting ideas to decorate our dream home, and daydreaming about how life would be so perfect once we got back to living there. I was constantly finding fault with everything here, the heat in Pune, the black dust and cement dust that blackened my apartment&#…