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Happy New Year

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and happy new year. May all your wishes come true in this new year.

We returned home yesterday morning at 2:30am after 17 hours of drive from Florida. The vacation was awesome. I will save the trip details for another post. The daily grinding routine starts in another 8 hours. I am behind by 4 days with the marathon. Will try to catch up soon though I feel pathetic to say that I am not very positive about completing the blogathon. Sorry to say this on the very first post but somehow after LHB entered our life and recent move to new place I have moved from poor to poorest with time management. I am not able to get my own time at all. Hope is all I have to believe that the table will turn soon. It took a lot of effort to even write this post but now after writing this I feel so light.

Just for smile:

new-year-2015

what say?

I have to publish a post today for the sheer joy of reading the comments on my bed right after switching off the alarm. Got so obsessed with this daily post.

On an afterthought about the blogathon, shall we make this a tradition in coming years? I honestly felt this like a reunion. Like we reunite once a year that too in the beginning of the year to catch up on all that has been missed in the past year.

I know its tough, its hectic, it drains us out, it adds up so much pressure, it makes our loved ones (read as the husband) curse us, it drives us nuts hunting for topics in every move of others but isn’t it all worth the joy that we all are experiencing today? the joy of sharing, the joy of reading more, the joy of finding new like minded people, the joy of new friendship, the joy of connecting with old blog friends, the joy of nurturing our own special baby (read as the blog).

What say? Please cast your vote below!

Vaangi baath

Learned this recipe from Amma recently and this one pot meal will definitely make it as our weekend lunch often.

Ingredients
Onion – 4 medium sized
Tomato – 2 medium sized
Brinjal – 7 to 8 medium sized – cut to small pieces
Cinnamon sticks
Fennel seeds
Curry leaves
Rice – 3 cups

dry roast and grind
red chillies
coriander seeds
channa dal
fenugreek seeds
coconut – optional

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Method:
1. Cook rice with salt and a spoon of oil. Once cooked, spread it in a pan and allow it to cool down.
2. Saute cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, curry leaves, onion, tomato and brinjal in same order.
3. Once brinjal is well cooked, add the dry roast-ground masala powder.
4. Once the masala powder is well observed by the brinjal mix, add the cooked rice, mix well and serve

Goes well with onion raita or plain curd or boiled egg.

Now, make this and relish to celebrate the end of marathon.

The marathon gave me the opportunity to record all the incidents that would have otherwise remained unsaid forever.

Thanks to Maya and RM for this wonderful initiative and all my readers.

Book Review – The Secret Keeper by Beverly Lewis

This is my first attempt on book review. Marathon is all I needed to step out of my comfort zone.

Disclaimer: I am not a very good critic. I cannot pass my detailed review comments firmly on anything. Like how the movie reviewers clearly says “the movie did not have a story line, the screenplay was not good, they have wasted this particular character, the role did not suit this hero, the second half is little dragged”. No, I cannot pinpoint like that. For me, its either good or bad. 

Here is my maiden lame attempt on reviewing the book.

Book Title: The Secret Keeper (Book 4 in Home to Hickory Hollow series)

Author: Beverly Lewis

the-secret-keeper

Jenny Burns, born and brought up as a modern era girl at Connecticut feels that she doesn’t belong to the modern world and decides to move to Amish village as a seeker. She, with the help of her friend Marnie Lapp, moves in with the Lapp’s Amish family. She learns the ropes of living as a Amish woman from Rebecca Lapp. She struggles at first, growing her bangs, wearing plain dress, sitting for long hours at church with a growling tummy, gaining the confidence of Rebecca’s husband, Samuel Lapp yet continues to do her best to pass the proving.

In the process, she befriends many Amish people including Andrew Lapp – the surprisingly not-so-young-yet-not-married Amish man and Ella Mae –  the elderly Amish woman who is kind enough to arrange for a Thanksgiving dinner for her.  Jenny also learns some secrets and finds a place in many local people’s heart. Andrew expresses his interest on her, Jenny gets into the good books of the bishop and as all seems rosy and favorable to her, she decides that knowing the secrets, she cannot be true to herself, she cannot pass the proving and decides to return to the modern world.

Did Jenny return to the modern world? Did she stay back and pass the proving to become a Amish woman? Did she hold on to the secret? What happened to her relationship with Andrew? You should read the book to untie all these knots.

The book beautifully narrates the lifestyle of Amish world leaving the readers to wonder if such a community still exist. I loved this book for its characters. Every character is friendly by nature and gets close to your heart.

Adi picked this book for me from the library and I am glad she chose the book. 

Bloggers Meet – 2

As I was savoring the moments of my first blogger meet, I got a message from Swaram about her trip to Chennai. Same as the first meet, after numerous message exchanges in FB we decided on the date/venue with myself torturing the ladies with “where to get good formal shirts @ Chennai” in the same message thread. The ladies strictly warned me “No more talking about formal shirt” in the meet and Swaram fumed as “so you are coming to buy formal shirts and not to see me”. It was actually the week before I left to US and that was the last weekend in hand to buy at least few pairs of formal western wears. So, I had no choice.

We decided to meet around 2pm on a Sunday and my plan was to leave home at 10am, as you would have already guessed, shop for some formal shirts, then meet the loving Uma and set off to the venue. Parents were with us during this weekend and I got all ready by 10am requesting Amma to take care of Adi and LHB. But, all my plans went haywire when Appa came back home with scratches on one side of his face and knee. He stepped out to buy pain medication for Amma and slipped down on the curb that was slippery due to recent rain. Appa tried calling my already-died-mobile in vain many times and then a good soul dropped him near our apartment block. As it was Sunday, no doctor was available in community permises. So, took him to the nearest hospital, pressure was checked, TT was injected, wounds were cleaned/dressed and doctor prescribed medications for three days. We were worried as Appa is diabetic. By the time we reached home it was 12pm. Then, hurriedly I left home, managed to do some shopping near Uma’s home, met her around 1pm and  we reached the meeting point around 2pm.

No one would believe if Uma says she has teenager girls. She looks so young and we had a nice chat during the commute. She had no clue about me before we met. In this meet, I met 3 new bloggers (Uma, though I knew you I count you as new as you didn’t know me) and Swaram was the only connection between us until we met. The instant connection is what I love about these meets. Just seconds after I met Uma, we were chatting as if we knew each other for years.

Vidya, arrived the same time as we reached. We were lucky to meet for the second time in a short span that too in blogger’s meet though we knew each other as fellow colleagues decades ago.

Then, arrived the madhi manni Sandhya. A very quiet and composed person listening patiently to all the talks..

Then, arrived the sweetheart Swaram and versatile Aarti. Swaru doesn’t need an intro. As many of you would already know her. she is the lady living the dreams of many, who quit the corporate world and joined YFS to follow her heart. Aarti, maintains a separate blog for each genre and is a content writer by profession.

No brownie points for guessing what we did next. We took care of our tummies and had a laugh unlimited chatting session.

On the way back, Uma took Swaram and myself to Grand sweets for Swaram to buy some goodies for Su and then we dropped her at Ramakrishna Mutt. She braved by her own to Central station to catch the train to Hyderabad.

I dropped Uma near her home and guess where I headed to? To my never ending formal shirt search.. I managed to grab few from different stores at a mall and reached home all exhausted at 10pm.

Children stories and rhymes

Rhymes and tamil children stories on youtube is everyone’s favorite at our household now. We watch it all times in infinite loop.

Favorite of all is the “athi chudi” series. We now have Pooja and Teja at home and I am playing the Humsaveni part. Its fun. I get the work done for now by calling out to Pooja and we even try to follow that same modulation as in the video.

I call “Pooja enga vamma” and she rushes to me with “Ennanga amma” and that cute puppy face.

We are also progressing towards “tenali rama”, “ramayana” and other fable cartoon series.

Do you watch this at home?

 

My Favorite Movies

My all time favorite movies:

I am too lazy to write in detail about how they struck a chord in me. Added the wiki link for most of the movies. Read it yourself to get justified and watch the movie.

Its a wonderful life – This tops my list. A must watch for all. Please do watch and let me know how you liked it. 

The Bicycle Thief – Recommended by a colleague. A soul touching movie as how a family struggles to own a bicycle as a bicycle is must to earn bread.

City of angels – A movie that made me cry buckets as if I don’t cry otherwise. But, the climax churned my heart and yearned for it to be the other way around for many days after watching this movie.

Forrest Gump – This is “Tom Hanks” first movie that I watched. Now, whenever I see “Bubba Gump” restaurant I knew from where its inspired from.

Million Dollar Baby – For that matter, most of Clint Eastwood’s movies. I liked “The Bridges of Madison County” too esp. the scene where Clint Eastwood gently closes the kitchen door which was otherwise slammed by her family members on other days. How a small gesture impacts a woman. For some reason, this scene flashes on my mind often.

Invictus – Watched recently after the recommendation from RM and glad I watched. Morgan Freeman is the best fit to play as Nelson Mandela. Now, I understood why the insane people got confused and printed Freeman’s picture in Mandela’s homage billboard.

Argo – A nail biting thriller movie. I watched it along with M on a Friday night and declared I am not a big fan of thriller genre. I still remember my heart beating out of my chest while watching this movie.

Life is Beautiful – Its a movie about how a father protects his son Joshua at Nazi concentration camp during world war II. A feel good movie.

The Help – This movie is about the racism black maids suffered while working for whites. A soul touching movie.

Gifted Hands – Ben Carson Story – A movie based on real life neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Its the mother character and her struggles in this movie that stayed with me for longer.

The good part is most of these movies are inspired from books. Wish I can lay my hands on these books too someday!

Tamil

Anbe Sivam – This tops my list in Tamil movies. How I wish that Kamal character is true in life and that’s me. A long long long way to go. I would be more than happy if I get to be at least 50% of Nallasivam. The song “poo vasam” is simply mesmerizing. 

Punnagai Mannan – Does this need an explanation? Seriously? Ok I you still insist its one word – Ilayaraja. For non-tamilians, go and listen to this one BGM and you will know what I am mean!

Mouna Ragam – Same as the previous movie. Its just one word – Mani Ratnam. Its a classic of all. Who can forget  Mr.Chadramouli ? Even a highly music-challenged person would love the “mandram vandha thendralukku” song for its lyrics. 

Baasha – My favorite Rajini movie. Enna style-ma. Thalaivar Thalaivar dhaan. I can watch it a million times just for that style of don Baasha. Stylu stylu dhaan ivaru super stylu dhaan. No hero in the tamil film industry had even come closer to his style yet. “Avaru oru dhadavai sonna nooru dhadavai sonna madhiri”

Nayagan – Neenga nallavara? kettavara? Another classic of Mani Ratnam with his one word dialogues. My favorite song in this movie is “Nee oru kadhal sangeetham”..

Mudhalvan – Honestly, when Arvind Kejriwal was flashed on the news the first thing that came to my mind was this movie. A fast pace movie based on politics that will leave all the viewers to yearn for such a real change. “Kurukku siruthavalae” is my favorite song in this movie.

Kannathil Muthamittal – Its the story of a Sri Lankan tamil child adopted by Indian parents and the measures her adopted parents take to satisfy her wish to see her biological Sri Lankan mother. Favorite song is “Oru deivam thantha poove” – male version mainly for its lyrics. “Naan thooki valartha thuyaram nee”.. My heart melts with those lyrics everytime I listen to this song. I stop doing whatever I do literally when I hear this song just to get myself into those lyrics.

Just for laugh – I went to watch this movie with my clan and there was a huge rush in the multiplex. I was the driver and when every guarded security was asking “which film” to direct me to the appropriate parking lot I has to repeat “Kannathil muthamittal” much to Amma’s annoyance sitting next to me. She took it to literal meaning and was fuming why should these fellows keep asking it again and again to a young girl? Oh, the young girl was me me me!!!

Michael Madhana Kama Rajan – Comedy, comedy, comedy. Ultimate was the “mean” scene at kalyana veedu.

Thillu Mullu – Aiyampettai Arivudainambi Kaliyaperumal Chandran’s antics and Thengai Srinivasan. Ultimate I say. “raagangal padhinaaru” is my favorite song.

Kaaka Kaaka – Aiyo Maya.. how could you carry yourself so gracefully lady? I like the Maya part most in this movie. For the songs, “oru oril”, “Ennai konjam matri” okay, the entire album is my favorite. 

Vetaiyadu Vilayadu –  For New York, especially on the “vennilavae” song. I was this close to screaming as “I have frequented to all these places”. Its another fast pace crime thriller movie. I also like the “karka karka” song for Thamarai’s attempt on thuya tamil lyrics.

Alaipayuthey – For Madhavan – the-once-a-heartthrob-not-anymore hero. I feel that he didn’t groom himself better after this movie or maybe I grew up!! Swarnalatha’s “evano oruvan” would transform me to a different world everytime I listen to that song!

Aval oru thodarkadhai – Its a story about a woman who sacrifices her life for her family. I tell you the ending is tragedy and I hated that. I am a sucker for happy ending movies. The not so happy ending movies haunt me for days.. This movie also made me cry buckets. Favorite song is “deivam thandha veedu”.. One of Kannadasan’s best lyrics.

Kizhakku Seemayile – For that annan-thangachi paasam. If there is one person in this world whom I value the most and have not mentioned much about in this blog its my bro. I will always be at loss of words to describe our relationship and all that he has done for me. It might sound cliche but I have to say this “If I am destined with more jenmams I should always be born as his little sister”. He had pampered me way too much, too much than what I deserve!  

I have more movies in line but the keyboard is crying for a break. So, I spare you all too!!!

Bloggers meet – 1

I know its long due but I have to write about the bloggers meet I was privileged to be part of while at Chennai.

One afternoon, while I was shopping at T-Nagar with Adi and M, I got this email from RM stating she is planning to visit Chennai for Diwali. She sent the email to a set of bloggers and then followed a chain of emails deciding on the date, time and place to meet. After like three or four days of back and forth email discussing more on when is Diwali? Is it 2nd or 3rd? we nailed the meeting point and date/time.

It was a Saturday, I planned to take Adi along for the meet and we left home around 2pm for the 5pm meet. Rewind before 2pm, all work was swiftly done at home, bathing LHB, feeding him lunch, putting him to sleep, feeding lunch to Adi. Managed to finish all the work on time and left home planned. I wanted to get some gifts and also promised Adi to take her to the arts and crafts shop before the meet.

Back to 2pm, we left on time, finished shopping and reached the pre-planned rendezvous on time only to  see that the famous meeting point at the famous place was closed due to emergency power failure. The backup was also not functioning. Then, we decided to hang out at the food court of nearby mall. Vidya with Vyas and RM with RD and R were already in the venue and Tharani joined us soon. The next 1.5 hours? (really it felt like 5 mins) was spent in the food court.

RD was such a sweet soul to serve us food on the table. He said he will make RM pay for it later 😉 (they are cute couple indeed). I helped him occasionally and all of us had good time chatting away to glory. We were bugged with the billing system at the food court. It was a prepaid system, where you have to buy a card for Rs.20/- and recharge it before purchase. How on earth would you know for how much you will buy before buying? Crazy system. They claimed its the same system at every mall but I didn’t experience it in other malls.

Back to our chat, RM and Vyas had this bet on butter naan. Vyas challenged RM that he will eat five full butter naan’s at his next visit to Mumbai with a “what-big-deal” look. Our way back Adi was wondering, seriously Amma? Vyas can eat 5 naan’s at the same time? I really hope he wins. Let us know who wins okie guys?

RD was perplexed, when I told him “yeah we returned for good two months ago and might migrate back soon”. He would have thought of us as one “crazy family”.

Vidya, the cool lady surprised us with her multilingual knowledge on Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Kannada languages. I was about to fall at her feet.

Tharani, was down with a cold and was little quiet that day and RM, the ever energetic lady was with full energy. Her enthusiasm is so contagious.

R, the little girl was so cute. When we were about to take a group photo before bidding adieu, R refused to join us, at the last moment before the click RM said, don’t come okie? and the next second R was next to us smiling for the picture. RM sure mastered child psychology.

Had a wonderful, wonderful time with all of you folks and thank you RM for making that trip. Without that trip we would not have pulled this meet together.

RM – I now have a resource working at India with RD’s name and when I uttered his name at home the other day, Adi quickly recollected oh is RD uncle working with you now? Though it was a quick meet, I am glad Adi remembers all of you quite well.

P.S: Adi doesn’t know about blog world yet and none of us even spoke about blog at the meet. Isn’t this strange?