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The Year That Changed Everything

2011 is an unforgettableyear in my life. It tossed up challenges that I’d never had to face before in my whole life. It was like making tea, custard toast, chicken do pyaza and packing rotis with sabji but never getting a whiff or taste of any of it till the end of the day coz one’s got two hands and both hands were doing kitchen chores and endless tasks. Got the drift?

Well, perhaps it was inevitable that some of the bread got roasted instead of toasted. It was also inevitable that the year roasted and grilled a few friendships too. 


No, honestly, I’d give my best to all relationships but sometimes things don’t work out because, well, birds of a feather tend to flock together. So, I guess plain pigeons don’t really stick with the eagles. Know what I am saying? And don’t place bets on whether I’m a pigeon or an eagle. 
So, between flying low and keeping close to home as well as juggling lots of work, it happens that I had to prioritize my peace of mind over everything else. 
Hell, it hasn…

A Book Review: I can help Recycle Rubbish

I picked up Viv Smith's book, 'I can help recycle rubbish' and felt secretly pleased with myself. I like to recycle a lot of materials to create birthday cards, wrapping paper and make little gifts out of them. I also like to use these materials for my five year old son's school projects


Here's an interesting paragraph from the book:


"The paper you write on was once a tree that stood in a forest. Trees are cut down, taken to a paper mill. The wood is cut up and turned to pulp to make paper. We need to use the earth's resources sensibly so that there is enough left for the people who come after us."


Meaning of Recycling


"To recycle to make something new out of something that has been used before."


What can be Recycled?


Here are somethings I like to recycle:


Price tags of clothes are used as bookmarks.Glossy supplements, glossy ads and leaflets are saved either to make b'day cards or to create something that is theme-based for Adi's school …

Merry Merry Christmas 2011

Dear Friends,
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas with family members and loved ones. For me, it was one of the best Christmas days I've had in quite some time because it was mostly about yummy food. I know that it is not what Christmas is about but this time, I let go and became a total foodie thanks to hunger pangs, so to speak:)


Lunch was just divine, so I stuffed myself. There was lovely red wine that sparkled and tasted like bliss with every sip. The plum cake had the distinct taste of rum and it was yummylicious! 
Fish cutlets topped my favorite dish of the day. They seemed to melt and yet be crisp when you bit into the texture of it. Then, there was fluffy, hot appams, vegetable pulav, mutter paneer, chicken do pyaz, mutton curry, mixed vegetables in dark oyster sauce, crisp pappadams that crackled with every bite and of course, the pristine raita.
Piping hot paalada is what I had at the end of this awesome Christmas feast. Obviously, I was stuffed like a turkey by the end of th…

A Writer’s Room

If a keyboard is left on my desk long after I’m gone, it will be no more than four years old. It will have no patina, no aura, nothing more than my fingerprints on it. All the more reason to get to work and leave behind a stout body of writing. – Latha Anantharaman (The Hindu, 21st Dec 2011)

When my dad noticed that I (five years old at the time) wrote poetry, essays and short stories, he changed the plan of Sai Prema, our house that was being constructed in Palluruthy in Kochi.

He added a big room and called it ‘the writer’s room and library.’ He said, “Writers need to be in their own private world, where the intrusions of the external world do not penetrate their process of creation.”
Dad spared no effort in getting the best for that room. He installed a beautiful wall-to-wall rosewood library that crowned the spacious, library room. All my collection of books, hundreds of them right from the time I was a child, are showcased there in that library. And for me, Dad got ready a very big…

Start of the Day: Do Cities have souls with memories?

At the start of the day, I thought about cities and wondered. Do cities and places have souls like we do? Or so, I’ve always felt when I think of my love for Kochi though people say it is fast becoming a place that is flawed and devoid of what it once represented to its residents.
When I read Orhan Pamuk’s words, it struck me that I was not nutty at all. In fact, he thinks the same too.
“There are two ways of looking at cities. The first is that of the tourist, the newly arrived foreigner who looks at the buildings, monuments, avenues and skylines from outside. There is also the inside view, the city of rooms in which we have slept of corridors and cinemas and old classrooms, the city made up of the smells and lights and colors of our most cherished memories. To those viewing them from outside, one city can seem much like the next, but a city’s collective memory is its soul and its ruins are its most eloquent testimony.”
How do you view/experience your city?

Start of the Day: Welcome December 2011

Start of the Day, I couldn't imagine that it is almost the end of a year. It's hard to believe that it is already December 2011. Seems like yesterday or maybe a few months ago that the year 2011 had been welcomed. How time 'flies - that was my first thought when the realization struck me. And you know what, I can't wait for this year to end.


Yes, like many of you, I too love December for a variety of reasons. The festive spirit of Christmas, the scent of home made wine, raisin and plum cakes, the decorating of Christmas tree, the choir singing, the joy of waiting for a new year to unfold - its a heady season indeed. It's also the best time to contemplate on the year that was.


For me, personally, 2011 has been a most difficult year to sail through, the tests and tribulations were unexpected, painful and difficult. But I think its made me a stronger person spiritually. 


I've read somewhere in Sri Paramahansa Yogananda's writings as follows, "You are spiritu…

Chacha Nehru & Jyotiraditya's Perk

Today, Jyotiraditya, my son, told me out of the blue, "Amma, did you know today is Chacha Nehru's birthday? So, in school, there were programs. We all got chocolates too. I think I like Chacha Nehru but I wish he had send us some other chocolates, not Perk."

I couldnt help laughing out aloud. Trust my innocent little boy to say something so original about one of the world's most loved Statesmen! I told Adi that Chacha Nehru 's real name is Jawaharlal Nehru and he was the first Prime Minister of Independent India, which meant that he had to look after the welfare of the whole country.

So, Adi said, "The whole of India was his office?"

Hmmm, I said, "Not exactly but he had many big problems to solve for India. Though he was very busy and had tons of work, he loved kids. He used to try and spend time talking to kids. I've also read in a book that he always replied to kids who wrote to him personally. But I don't know how true that is."

&q…

7 Am Arivu (the Seventh Sense) - Why it is spiritually relevant

7 Am Arivu (the Seventh Sense) is a film that I was desperate to watch for two reasons. One, I am a Suriya fan and I had heard so much about his performance in this movie that I didn't want to settle for watching a CD of it and losing the actual cinematic experience. Second, I had read from various bloggers and their reviews that this film revolves around the story of Bodhidharman, a 16th century prince from Tamil Nadu who had mastered knowledge spanning multiple forms of art, and was sent to China to save the people from evil. Once he goes there, the transformation begins for himself and for the people there and he  goes on to become Damo, the father of Shaolin and Kung Fu and hypnotism and such other mystical yet spiritually relevant forms of mind mastery.

7 Am Arivu Goes Over the Top with the Dravidian Rhetoric
In 7 Am Arivu, there has been a lot of controversy created by the fact that nearly every character eulogizes about the importance of being Tamil and yes, the Dravidian r…

Start of the Day: What the Spiritual Masters Say

Start of the day is when we want everything to go smoothly for us. The productivity of getting a task done, the milestones involved, the effort of teams or maybe supportive systems - a lot is at stake whether you are working or managing the home.

Start of the day: What the Spiritual Masters Say
The ancient, wise men who guarded Indian traditions and beliefs knew what they were talking about even back then. They knew how important it is to start the day with a sense of awareness and mindfullness, something we are all struggling with. In fact, many of us don't even wake up peacefully. However, the Hindu scriptures clearly differentiate between following a spiritual master and following an Avatar. That would take me several posts to write so I am not getting into that.

The spiritual masters I have researched about include Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Ramakrishna Paramanhansa, Swami Vivekananda, and several Buddist spiritual leaders. But please note that while I am not a follower or…

Art and Craft, School Project: How we got a Giraffe to look Bright and Save Carbon!

Here's another art and craft project that Adi had got from his school. So, let me explain how we worked on it. He was given a printout of a giraffe's image and told to do something creative to make it look interesting and environment-friendly.

I was like "How can you make a giraffe look interesting? All i have is a printout."

Well, then I spotted an old birthday wrapping paper that looked flowery and I showed it to Adi and we both liked the idea of putting that as a kind of background for the giraffe. So first, Adi colored the giraffe in shades of yellow and brown. Then he stuck the giraffe onto this wrapping paper. But I felt though it looked good, something was still missing. That's when I fished into the Lindt Boxand saw a green post card promotional that was about saving electricity and carbon. The context was different of course but I liked the message that it was giving.

So, I cut it and Adi pasted it. It felt perfect.


What do you think?

Lindt Box is not just for chocolates, its perfect for waste!

There's a beautiful white Lindt box that I kept when a dear Uncle gifted the chocolates to my son. The box has 'Lindt' in golden letters. It is a compact white box that looks too chic and expensive to be thrown away. Well, I kept it. For a very long time, I thought to myself, "What do I put in this box?" I had nothing to put in it.

Then, Adi's school began. Projects of one sort or the other began to come in, sometimes weekly, monthly or quarterly. While many parents in his school prefer to get them 'custom made,' I saw it as an opportunity to flex my weak 'creative design' streak. I am pretty bad at it but I thought "Why don't I and Adi learn together?" So, there began my collection that found its way into the Lindt box that was still in pristine condition.

In the Lindt box, I would collect scraps that we would normally throw away such as bright chocolate wrappers, old postcards, brochures of any company that they use as promotio…

R.I.P. Steve Jobs & What Death teaches us

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs - you've created more than an Apple for the world. Before you departed, you've created a whole new world.


Today, I believe that Death is a great teacher whom we don't have to fear. Reason? Because life is a preparation for a new beginning after death. A caterpillar has no growth if it remains a caterpillar, does it? It has to shed its existing body to rise anew. Instead of running away from what it represents, we need to prepare our life for the truth called Death, with every breath we take, every step we take and every action we decide to go forward with.

As Steve Jobs say, there's no time to waste & there's no reason not to follow your heart.
The choice is ours.

Happy Birthday Mommy

Mother is that special, incredible & irreplaceable person in your life who can completely turn your world around and be there for you when no on else cares to. From a fiery, trendy and highly stylish young woman who played terrific basketball and knew the right dance moves and had the audacity to assert that she'd absolutely no belief in God, my mother's journey to becoming a woman of traditional values, materialistic restraint and spiritual strength is nothing less than incredible and amazing. But that calls for a separate post altogether so I won't go into that:)

Mommy, you've taught me so much about life and relationships without saying a single word. Your life - the simplicity, the way you've led it, prioritized it and valued your relationships with such dignity - tells me more than any book in the world. And by now, I am sure you are smiling and I've got to tell you - I've always wished I had your seductive smile! I'd have been a …

What about Faith?

Faith plays a great role in our reactions and responses to the tumultous ups and downs of life. It helps us traverse through rocky navigational paths, taps the hidden reservoir of strength that lies within us and much more. But we don't really acknowledge it.

Once, while going through a difficult time, I went to a chapel that happened to be closest to where I was staying. I prayed before the image of Jesus Christ. I felt unsure. I had no candles. I wasn't kneeling or chanting a Christian prayer or hymn. But I felt the love and faith surging within me.

So I prayed, "Jesus, I realize I don't know how you'd want me to pray to you. Right now, I am praying the way I want. Tell me should I bring candles next time? Is that how you'd want me to pray?"

Then I felt silly. As if Jesus is going to listen to such nonsensical ramblings, I thought to myself.


[Image: Unsplash]

But he did.

The next morning, there was a handwritten note left on my desk, which said, "Have fa…

Happy Onam 2011

To all Malayalis celebrating today, I wish you a very Happy & Prosperous Onam!


Happy Ganesh Chaturthi: Luv Ganesha, how about you?

First of all, Happy Ganesh Chaturthi wishes to all of you, dear friends.

Worldwide and even on Twitter, people are sending out wishes of love, prosperity and peace in the name of Lord Ganesha. Schools are shut. Offices are mostly in holiday mode. In homes, pujas and prasad are offered to please and invoke the blessings of Lord Ganesha today.


Luv Ganesha for 1) His obedience, humility & love for his parents 2) Ability to remove obstacles intelligently 3) Always looking happy, inspiring us to break more coconuts (anger, envy, ego) 4) By being ever loving always with a platter of the yummiest delicacies & he's no social snob who gives importance to who wears what or who looks smart or who's high class folks - he teaches us to rise above such factors - Lord Ganesha shares his place with the humble rat.How about you?

Mom's Recipe Book

It's a Sunday afternoon. Adi's gone out to play and I don't know why but I am missing my mom's tea time snacks that I grew up munching when I used to come back from school.
No Fuss about Food My mom says that even as a child, I never fussed about anything, particularly food. Except the smelly jackfruit, mom says that you could give me any type of food and I would eat it without any fuss. Even spinach! She says I loved the different types of cakes that she used to make that always for me. 
My Mom's Best Cooking Days Our home in Africa always had baking smells. In the afternoona, Mom would bake cookies, cake, and each time it would be a different type. My friends used to love the chocolate mousse she used to make. For every birthday, she used to bake the cake for me. But she wasn't that confident with the icing so we had some other expert help her with that.

Mom loved spending her afternoons making naadan snacks like 'unniappam' and 'murukku' and the …

Jyotiradiya (Adi) becomes Balram for a day

Schools all over the country are celebrating the birthday of Lord Krishna (also called Janmashtami) by making the little ones dress up as Krishna.

It happens that I had gone for an urgent three day trip to Kochi and come back and next day, Adi's off to school. I get a teacher's note saying he should dress up for the occasion. I know I need to get him a flute and a crown of feather but I am back home at six thirty, dead tired after a hard day's work and I need to sit with Adi to help him catch up with all the lessons he missed while we were in Kochi. So, I decide that I will dress him up well in the traditional attire but I won't go to the market for the feather. The very act would drain my energy further and by the time I get back, Adi would be too tired to do his homework.

So, now, D-day comes. I got Adi dressed up in a traditional Krishna costume that we had bought during my recent trip from Guruvayoor, the famous Krishna temple in Kerala. I put a little bit of eyel…

Memories of Swami, As I Remember (Part One)

If you are one of those people who are cynical, please don't read this post. It's not for you. If you are one of those people who want to know what I have to say with an open mind, fine - you are welcome to read. I request you to respect my beliefs as I do yours.

I led a perfectly mundane, happily normal life till Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) chose to make His presence felt. In April 1987, my parents became His devotees. But I wasn't yet a devotee.

Firstly, I wasn't convinced about Swami's divinity. Though a child, I had an insatiable curiosity on religion and spirituality. I had read the Bible, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the autobiography of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda at least twenty times. At that time, I could have easily recited the Bible because I sort of knew it by heart, having read it several times over and over again. While I had respect for these spiritual and religious concepts, they didn't 'click' with me naturally. Even…

Malayalam Movie Review: SaltNPepper - For Foodies & Lovers

Salt N Pepper movie - I heard so much about it from my Twitter friends. I was praying for the movie to reach me here. For those who love food and romance, this movie has IT. With food as the movie's main theme, I was totally glued to the movie's starting point that showed different types of tasty food in different stages of creation and presentation. Colors oozed from the dishes, each distinct from the other. You would have seen the audience licking their lips in anticipation of the next dish, such was the visual delight of the movie when it began.
SALT N PEPPER - REAL FOOD & REAL CHARACTERS Aashiq Abu's 'Salt n Pepper' is simple, brilliant and stays in your heart forever. The story revolves around Kalidasan (starring Lal) who is an archaeologist but is more obsessed with food - the scents, the taste and the texture of food that takes him to the past and beyond. Maya (starring Swetha Menon) lives in the same town and works as a dubbing artiste. 
Personally, I h…

Happy Birthday Vihaan - A Fairy Tale Story for You

Happy Birthday, Vihaan! Adi & I love you, lots and lots and lots.

Chechiamma (meaning me) has a fairytale to tell you. Chechiamma says many stories to Adi too:)  Someday, you can read this one yourself and tell Chechiamma if you liked it.

Once upon a time, there was a sad-looking girl. Every evening, she would go for a walk, with tears in her eyes. 


No one asked her why she always walked and cried. No one had cared or perhaps no one had time. It's a very busy world and people respond to people only on Facebook:)

So, this girl continued her routine. She saw a light from the sky and it caught her eye. A star - it shone so brightly among others as though it was meant just for her.  And so it was - they became friends and exchanged secrets.  She whispered her sadness to the star. The Secret Sadness was wrapped in a golden colored casket. The winds carried it up and the angels passed it through the pathways lit with heaven's candles and there it flew and flew and into a world where…

Movie Review: Zindagi Na Milegi Do Bara & What I LOVED about it

Friends, here is my layperson's movie review of Zindagi Na Milegi Do Bara. I loved this movie & I would watch it again if I could.



Refreshing, Colorful & Young!
Right from the film's colorful poster to its peppy music and refreshing trailors, this movie packed it all for the fun-loving Indian audience with lots of color as bright as red tomatoes and golden colored parachutes! Zoya Akhtar plays to her beliefs in friendship by telling this tale of love, friendship and the growing 'possessive' culture that epitomizes the creme-de-creme new generation.



Best Friends Getting Together with Fun
We can easily imagine a best friend getting married and supporting their special moment with happiness and fun. That's why the central characters click in our minds easily - Kabir (starring Abhay Deol) who's easy going, fun and caring about others around him; Imran, (starring Farhan Akhtar) who loves to flirt, woo and show off his down to earth attitude and his sense of hu…