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Showing posts from 2012

Did you watch the meteor showers?

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Yesterday I came across an article about the Geminid meteor shower that was predicted to peak on the 13th and 14th of December. So when my alarm chirped in the morning at 4 am as usual, I brushed my teeth, informed a groggy DH of my whereabouts, made a scalding cuppa tea and made my way to our terrace. The article had warned me of the visibility sapping effects of "visual pollution", which would mean man-made light in this context. I spied some bright light in the northwestern and southern quarters  (from a KSEB substation and power grid respectively), but since the Geminids were predicted to appear in the eastern sky, I put down my cuppa and sat down resolutely facing the east.
How many of us deliberately look up at the night sky and how often do we do it? The maximum I notice is the full moon at times, but it mostly happens when it accidentally pops in front of my eyes while we are driving in the night time. One of my fondest childhood memories is "chasing" the …

Elephants Can Remember (Apologies to Agatha Christie)

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First of all, an apology in advance to all my techno-savvy readers ... please look the other way while I gloat over my new technological "discovery"!
The name of my latest technological friend is Evernote. Yup, the green elephant head that you see down below is a real boon to me. 

One of my main activities while surfing is copying and saving articles I want to read again, or craft projects that I want to try. And most probably it will be in the middle of these activities that I will remember something that needs to be done @home, @shopping etc. But I would be so engrossed in surfing that the item would inevitably be forgotten by the time I got up from my chair. Now let me tell you in what ways Evernote has made life a lot easier for me.
1. Evernote has this lovely interface with my "notebooks" listed on the far left side. I have notebooks called craft, decorative ideas, braindump, home and garden and so on and so forth. I can choose whether the notebooks should be…

Two Books from My Bookshelf!

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Hi everyone!
It's so easy to delve deep into blog-world to the extent that one forgets that one's own little blog is languishing from want of attention.  Yep, that's what happened to me. Susan Branch is one huge addiction nowadays. Rest easy, I've almost caught up with her archived pages and will soon be in real time!
Meanwhile I have not neglected my paperback friends either. One small thing that was preventing me from writing about them was the thought of photographing the covers and adding them to my posts. The procedure was enough to make me procrastinate - take digicamera, put in batteries, take pics, find connecting cable, connect, copy, paste etc. etc. Sheesh. So I took the easy route today. Took pics on my phone, transferred with bluetooth to my comp. Tada!!! So now don't go complaining the pics aren't very good or clear, I don't have an iPhone!
The first book was this: a thin volume that lasted me the length of a train journey from Thiruvananthapura…

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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Somehow, 2012 has been the year of thanksgiving and remembering things with gratitude. The first inkling of what would be came when I got a diary for this year totally based on the looks (how shallow of me) and my favorite format inside (have to have month-at-a-glance). When I brought it home, I saw this:

and sure enough, each month had gratitude messages and exercises on the facing pages.  And then near the half-way mark of the year, this came into my life:

The month I spent doing the exercises in this book has had lasting effects. Now each day begins and ends with gratitude meditations - and as someone who has tried several meditation techniques in the past and left them along the wayside I can definitely say - this one is easy, extremely doable and very uplifting. 
So following the US tradition of remembering and sharing the blessings in our lives on this day, let me enumerate some things I am grateful for just off the top of my head...
 I am thankful for:

... just being here, now…

A Reluctant Recipe

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I don't enjoy cooking very much. There, I've confessed to the worst sin a stay-at-home-mother can commit. I won't go into the whys and wherefores now as that would be sufficient stuff for another post. When I started blogging, a few of my friends suggested that I should post recipes - I cringed at the thought of the extremely basic fare that I plate up each day and kept mum. Last month, a childhood friend (popularly known as a chuddi buddy these days?) came to visit after a loooong gap of several years and I prepared dinner for him. I still aver that it was not deliberate, but when I was thinking about a chicken dish, I automatically chose a childhood favorite. Not until I saw him picking out chicken pieces to eat with relish even after his rice was long over did I realize that he must have eaten the same dish several times as it was a staple of my mom's at parties. If people ask me for just one dish that is an absolute favorite of mine, it is this, it is this, it is …

A little fun for the weekend

We are all plagued by the difference between how English is written and spoken. Once our professor told us about how fish could be spelled "ghoti" and attributed the anecdote to George Bernard Shaw. What? It can't be spelled that way? Try pronouncing the italicized letters in the following words and see for yourself: enough, women, nation.
Here is a poem called The Chaos written in 1920 by a Dutchman called Gerard Nolst Trenite who was thoroughly fed up by the vagaries of English pronunciation. You can turn on this video and read along with it.There are several versions of this poem on the net, no doubt it has been added to by other frustrated English language students! :-) This is the nearest version to the video that I could find on the net. You can also use this site if you want to find the correct pronunciation of the words all by yourself - Howjsay
The Chaos
Dearest creature in Creation,
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, c…

Happy birthday to Two!

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ലോകമെമ്പാടുമുള്ള  മലയാളികള്‍ക്ക്  എന്‍റെ ഹൃദയംഗമമായ കേരളപ്പിറവി ആശംസകള്‍!!!
Last week, on the 24th which was Vijayadasami day was an anxiously awaited one at Karthi. For a week I had been looking forward to the evening to see a beloved artiste who we had gjven up as retired for good make a second debut in the presence of the mischievous and ever benevolent Lord of Guruvayoor. Yes, I am talking about none other than the birthday girl Manju Warrier! I had been an ardent fan of her dance since she was a regular participant in the state youth festivals. As I watched her mesmerize the audience once again with her performance on stage at the Melpathoor auditorium last Wednesday, I couldn't but applaud, I was so happy!!!
(Pic Courtesy Gruhalakshmi Nov 2012 issue)
I was not a fan of Manju in her heyday mainly because I was not a regular moviegoer at the time. My father hated taking his precious daughters into the pushing and shoving melee that surrounded the movie theatres at the time an…

Movie Review: Ayalum Njaanum Thammil

After a case of the sniffles turned into hacking coughs and catarrhy sinuses requiring two courses of antibiotics, it was singularly apt that the first movie I ventured out to see after a hiatus should have been concerned with the medical profession. 
The theme of Lal Jose's latest is not new at all. If you have seen Lakshya, Usthad Hotel etc., you'll get the general drift. Dr. Ravi Tharakan (Prithviraj) and his pal (Naren) are feckless youngsters who complete their medical studies taking their time to learn everything thoroughly. Determined to make his son see some life, Ravi Tharakan's father refuses to put up the money with which Ravi can evade his bond. The only way he can stay in the state is by accepting work at Dr. Samuel's Redemption Hospital (a name chosen with great care) which takes care of the less fortunate in Munnar. The moment he joins up, Dr. Tharakan realizes that he has signed up for nothing less than a trial by fire.
The scriptwriters have tried to…

All my glamour is gone!!!

One of the high points of my day is waiting at our gate to receive our kindergartener. I absolutely love the way he shyly smiles and holds me tight for a moment as he steps off the bus into my arms. I also have to say hi to his friend Kashi, a bright boy with lots of curly hair and a very infectious smile. He makes it a point to greet me every afternoon when the bus stops in front of our gate and I reply in the same enthusiastic tone that he uses. These days, he also considers himself obliged to make some chitchat too. For example, one day he said, "Sorry, innu ithiri late aayi"(Sorry, I am a little late today). Yesterday, as the bus stopped, Kashi shouted "Haaaayiii!!!"
Me: Haaayiiii!!! Kashi: Ente glamour ellam poyi!!! (All my glamour is gone!!!) Me: Meh?!?! (Imagine a cow interrupted mid-moo and you will get the sound) Ayah: Yeah, he did say glamour...
And the bus went off, but I was left thinking...
We were looking through our old photos these days spurred on …

Produce!!!

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We've been breaking our backs wielding the pickaxe and shovel in Karthi's backyard the past few months. At least, I've been doing it most of the time with occasional voluntary help (by my MIL who likes vegetable gardening and DH whom I accuse of wanting to hog the bragging rights) and rarer bonded labor (our elder kiddo who will surely brand me a slave-driver one of these days) as well as well-intended, but mostly disastrous work by the youngest of the family who now gets shooed away before he can wreak any havoc. Incidentally, this makes him even more eager to enter the fray and two weeks ago, he cried for one whole hour sitting on the back steps while we all toiled in the hot, hot sun. 
Last week we got these:

Two lovely tomatoes that were gifted to us by a plant that grew up all by itself and was helped only with some physical and moral support from us. They were soon transformed thus:

and consumed eagerly by a grateful family. Even my salad-hating elder kiddo said it …

Movie Review: Molly Aunty Rocks

Does Molly Aunty rock or not? That might depend on the person watching. If you ask me, as a total cinematic experience, she rocked only slightly. Ranjith Sankar's latest offering is quite different from Passenger and Arjunan Sakshi in that it is not a thriller. 
Molly aunty (Revathy) has left her job in the US of A to rejoin a bank in Cherppulasseri from where she had taken long leave to go abroad. Two years later, she takes a VRS and is covered with accolades for her personal and professional aplomb. She is all set to rejoin her husband when lightning strikes her in the form of the Income Tax Deputy Commissioner Pranav Roy (Prithviraj). In the resulting tussle between them, we see the not-so-pretty and the sublime parts of Molly Aunty come out. 
Molly aunty really rocks in terms of characterization and not-so-dark humor. It also has several happy-tear-jerking moments. KPAC Lalitha as Molly Aunty's mother-in-law is simply superb. Prithviraj for once has a role that he has re…

Movie Review: Run Baby Run

This is the best of the Onam release pictures out there. Sachi and Joshiyyy (that man has mangled up his spelling so much I don't know what it exactly is now) have come up with a winner this time. Let me just give you a small glimpse of the plot.
Renuka (Amala Paul) is a hotshot at a prime news channel. Venu (Mohanlal) is a cameraman of high stature with names like Reuters and BBC behind him. Rishi (Biju Menon), Venu's friend is struggling at the helm of his own news channel that has lost its backers. The three had been thick as thieves until something happened that led to a huge showdown and resulted in Venu going away to Delhi. Five years later, Venu lands in Kerala again and things start happening. Personal issues notwithstanding, Renuka wants a cut of the action too and she will go to any lengths to get a sign-off shot in Venu's work. But this time their snare is too fragile for the big game they are hunting...
Pluses: Pace: Not a moment to relax and kick back except …

Productivity Helper: Astrid Tasks

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Here's a confession: contrary to people who are usually sidetracked, I have this tendency to concentrate so much on one thing to the detriment of my usual work. For example, if I start reading a new book, I cannot put it down till I've finished reading it. As a consequence, only the bare minimum of my household chores get done that day (Usually the ones I can do holding the book in one hand). The only alternative to it is to not read at all and THAT is like denying oxygen to myself - not very feasible! :-)
I've tried several things to break this habit including writing down routines, timing myself etc., but nothing has been very effective. When my Android phone came to keep me company this year, I had no idea that it could be used to increase my productivity. But a month ago, I found an app that looked promising. (Forgive me, all techno geeks out there, it may be old as the hills to you, but to a neophyte like me, it's pretty exciting!)  It's called Astrid apps, a…

Movie Review: Mr. Marumakan

A must watch - for the wonderful evergreen Indian dress called a sari. Keep looking at Khushboo (except in one song fantasy sequence and the last scene) and at Sheela (in the last scene also) for a veritable feast for the eyes as they don vibrantly gorgeous saris and matching accessories in each scene. I felt like devouring the screen whenever they were there. Keep focusing on the saris and you can escape having to beat your own head to pulp for having chosen this movie on which to spend time and money. Poor DH, he couldn't even enjoy the saris (although he did take a look at Dileep's  double-colored shirts with cuffs turned halfway up the sleeve)!

Please tell me who did the costumes - we missed the titles of the movie in a traffic jam and couldn't catch it. Neither can I find it on the net.

Service with lots of smiles!!!

Remember the last time you had to take a new passport, renew your existing one or do something simple like change the address on it? Unless you were giving it through an agent, it meant a lot of hassles. I remember leaving home before sunrise, getting DH to park in a narrow residential road and yet having to stand in a queue that was already almost a kilometer long. The worst part was that the tokens were limited and until you got to the front of the building and got that precious little token in your hand, you were never sure whether you would be able to step inside the office at all that day. And once you were inside, there were some grim officers in even more grim booths whose faces were hoardings for suspicion. Even if you had all the right documents and had completely honest intentions, the officers flustered you so much that you failed to produce the required documents in correct sequence and were made to feel about 2 inches high...
Not any more.  I had read about new Passport …

Hrudayamgamamaya Puthuvatsarasamsakal!!!

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As my DH noted so astutely this morning, it feels like Karkkidakam is really in Chingom now. The rain hasn't stopped since it began at 530ish this morning and I feel so happy. So it's with a really full heart that I offer you my wishes...

നിങ്ങള്‍ക്കെല്ലാവര്‍ക്കും എന്റെ ഹൃദയംഗമമായ പുതുവത്സരാശംസകള്‍!!! (Yeah, FINALLY laid my eyes on that transliteration button. Do tell me why it doesn't work for the title though???)

So here are a few blossoms from my garden to welcome the new year.

 Let's start off with an auspicious yellow



Even these leaves are gorgeous, aren't they?


Some promises for tomorrow too...




Have a wonderful new year!!!

Jackfruit buffet

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Yesterday I was waiting for Anikkuttan's bus to come pick him up in the morning when I was attracted to a commotion in our front yard. There is a jackfruit tree near our gate providing a lot of welcome shade. Since it's a koozha, no one is fond of its fruit except to make kumbilappams.  So we leave the ripe ones alone and once they fall and squash themselves open, we collect the seeds to make mezhukkupuratti and leave the lest to enrich the soil. Today a new one had fallen and this is what I saw...

A few pecks later, this guy screeched away the brown sparrow (?) and came for his share


Meanwhile, a sparrow was so curious about my actions that she came hopping right up to me and gave me this shot - closest I've ever got to a bird in my entire life!!!

Soon some mynahs came hopping up and waited till the others had a tummy full. And no, they did not say "klaaa klaa klee klee klooo kloo" - have you ever heard mynahs say that???

Although they were very polite about wa…

Finished....

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At the beginning of May, our elder son started month-long swimming lessons. After a day or two of keeping a panicking eye on the youngster so that he wouldn't drown accidentally, I grew bored with having to sit at the poolside just chitchatting with other moms. So I started a crochet table runner project. It worked on a square-by-square basis and was easily portable. Well the swimming lessons were over two months ago and this week I finally finished it






 This is the biggest thread crochet project I've done so far and I can tell you, each of those squares took me almost 45 minutes and that was the best I could do in a day to avoid hand cramp. But it is extremely rewarding...

Here's a close up...
After laying it lengthwise on our coffee table, I thought I would go with this look...

As long as we are on the subject of crochet, I would like to show you something...

Tadaaaa..., my yarn stash! Top left corner is the leftover ecru thread. I made a dent in that baby, huh? Those pa…

The easiest way to attract rain...

The Ramayana month started off particularly sunny and dry. I had to water all my newly planted cuttings twice a day. The newspapers were cribbing about how poor the rainfall has been this season. Whenever I checked the weather forecast on my phone, it showed a rain-cloud with a huge question-mark imposed upon it and said "scattered rain and thunderstorms" every day, but we got to see nothing.
So we decided to interfere. My DH and I ought to receive an award for ending the unseasonable drought. On Sunday morning we decided in a loud conversation that our coconut oil is running out and it is time to dry some copra again. Not twelve hours later, we had rain!!! For good measure, I again shouted out for all to hear on Monday morning that we are NOT postponing our plan and WILL start dehusking the coconuts THIS weekend. I haven't had to water the new plants ever since!!! This is not the first time it has happened either :-)
In this enthusiastic planting season, I bought some …

Movie Review: Thattathin Marayathu

"Come back to the classic cliches" was the subtitle that Vineeth Sreenivasan had originally intended for this movie. His inability to translate the same into a catchy Malayalam subtitle led him to ditch it. But it still is a very good description of the movie. Boy meets girl at a wedding, falls in love and the story goes on...
But what makes "Thattathin Marayathu" watchable and different? The script, the brilliantly funny dialogues, the simplicity... After all the angst and dark humor of current Malayalam movies, it's absolutely fun to watch a young guy lose his head over a beautiful girl and commit all sorts of indiscretions for the sake of that love. I guarantee that unless you are in a state of untreated clinical depression, this movie will have you exploding with laughter at regular intervals. You don't have to fall in love with the characters - although you are free to do so if an unapporachably reserved ice queen and a feckless youngster are your typ…

One more birthday and some culinary explorations

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Nidhin (aka Anikkuttan) turned 4 this week...


Yep, that's the birthday boy. He's into funny faces now when I ask him to pose for the camera. This year has been pretty momentous for him. He was toilet-trained (yep, I finally bit the bullet and was rewarded for my wait, he picked it up within a week!). Then he started school and fell ill with all sorts of infections - and had to quit school after going for a month at the beginning of 2012. Now he's started LKG and is pretty happy and healthy, and has started a very HUGE part of schooling.... HOMEWORK!!!!



These days he has taken up a serious hobby - cooking. Last week he tried a variation on our favorite breakfast food - the humble dosa. He felt it needed a little zing (must be watching Masterchef), so added some fresh used tea leaves to the batter I had left for a moment on the kitchen counter. He did not forget to give it a good stir so that the tea leaves were very evenly distributed in the batter and his momma didn't…