Friday, 12 September 2008

the t.nagar fire and the thoughts it kindled...

I guess every chennaiite would have been to ranganathan street or usman road sometime or the other...

Though usman road and ranganathan street are the most frequented shopping areas in the city, there is no doubt that the area is in no way equipped to handle the huge crowds that throng the place...

I was just reading some newspaper reports of the recent fire incident that happened in a multi-storeyed shop in Ranganathan street in T.Nagar, and there are many things about it that I find appalling…

-though the fire broke out at around 3.30 AM, the fire service was notified only around 6.00 AM

- the shop authorities, on being questioned by the fire personnel on arrival, insisted that there was no possibility of any employees remaining inside the building.

- the shop did not have any fire extinguishing equipment ready on hand.

- the narrow roads were a major hindrance for the fire department vechicles and water tankers to access the place quickly. Every time the fire dept hoses ran dry and they had to wait for the water tankers to negotiate the narrow street.

in addition, the hoardings and name boards jutting out into the street slowed down the tanker's movement as they had the risk of hitting the windshields and breaking them.

- the last i heard, the owners of the shops, instead of being there, owning up to their faults and making arrangements for remedial measures, have conveniently absconded the place....

- the very next day after the blaze, owners of the surrounding shops apparently argued with the police and insisted that they be allowed to resume business, unmindful of the danger from the damaged building….


its quite obvious that most of these commercial buildings have violated building codes and thrown safety precautions to the winds....
the narrow passages, the absence of emergency exits and adequate fire extinguishers, all these could have caused a huge disaster had the incident happened later during the day.

The public, with the usual, typical, combination of gallantry and nonchalance with which it bounces back from every calamity and catastrophe that happens in the country, has taken to thronging the very same street the very next day…and with its usual short-lived memory, shall soon forget the entire episode and go about as usual, oblivious of the potential dangers….

Will shop owners learn anything from this and put safety measures in place, will authorities wake up and strictly enforce the necessary rules and come down heavily on violators, or is this going to be just another incident…

A wedding hall in Srirangam and a private school in Kumbakonam don’t seem to have taught us anything…its a miracle if a shopping complex in T.Nagar will…

Thursday, 4 September 2008

pics of niagara visit

i thought i'd post some of the pics we took on our visit to the niagara falls.... it was absolutely breathtaking, and i have no words to describe it enough... i even felt somewhat emotional, watching such a creation of nature, flowing with such beauty, and falling with such fury....
its a great experience, hearing the thundering roar of water, and watching the misty spray of water rising above after crashing onto the rocks below....



Sunday, 3 August 2008

Veggie shopping in the US for dummies !

The first few weeks after i landed in the USA, i had to give myself a refresher course in veggie shopping.... forget the fact that everything here, including fruits and veggies, has enough number of variants to confuse you and make you want to tug your hair... the names themselves can make you frustrated, the first few days.

To begin with, having entered your local grocery store, if you are searching for a section marked 'fruits' or 'vegetables', chances are that you would'nt find it, though the store might be carrying quite a huge selection of the same....simply because, fruits and vegetables are fashionably called 'produce' !
having located the 'produce' aisle, what are you looking for next ? some veggies for your everyday cooking ? before venturing any further, take a good look here, if you were brought up in India, like i was....

Well, lets start with the veggie that in India goes by the rather dainty name of "ladies finger" (you would expect something with such a name to be handled with care, but nay, it gets broken all the time, by many a lady's finger !! ) - here, in the US, its called "Okra" - sounds rather like the name of some greek godess, doesn't it ...

and of course, brinjals are eggplants... though i personally prefer the european "aubergine" - has that french twist, which makes it sound exotic !
maybe the americans find capsicum quite a mouthful - they are called bell peppers(classified into green, red or yellow -according to colour) !
And if you are looking for some coriander leaves to season those dishes you cooked up, please look for "Cilantro" - oh yeah, i got it right, that's the word !

If you are looking for tomatoes, it should be easier, they are called just tomatoes - you just have to make a choice - between cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, campari tomatoes, roma tomatoes, sweet tomatoes...to mention just a few...not to mention a "tomatoes on the vine" option...
And if you thought that nothing could go wrong with something as simple as potatoes, think again. you only have to choose between white potatoes, red potatoes,(i even saw purple or blue !), idaho potatoes, russets,
eastern potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, baby potatoes, and baking potatoes....phew !

well, as of now, i am tired of quoting from memory all the variants i can remember...will update the list whenever i am reminded of more....

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

As unpredictable as the weather !

I should say i understood the meaning of this expression really only in the past few months.... for one who has grown up in a city like chennai, the weather is actually very predictable, the only variants being warm, hot or toasty - with a brief monsoon thrown in once a year...
hmmm....but here, we are nearing the end of june, but the weather has been alternating between rainy and warm... a few days of bright sunshine, and just when we thought we were officially into summer, we've been having a rainy spell again...
but that's not all....a few days ago, on a quite bright day, we had decided to go out to catch up with some shopping, when the skies turned dark and it started raining....
K called up to say to say that he was heading home from office, and as there were thunderbolts and lightning, we cancelled the shopping plans and decided to settle down with some chilli bajjies and tea !
by the time i finished frying the bhajjis and sat down to dig into them, i got so irritated as weather turned bright and sunny again....at seven thirty in the evening...
so much for my plans of enjoying a hot cup of tea watching the rain !
talk about unpredictable !!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

For want of a shoe !

My feet have been giving me trouble ….thankfully not the kind of trouble that requires the services of expensive podiatrists or prescription medication, but trouble of a different kind…
I’ve trouble getting them covered!! Now, my feet are very small for an adult, so I always have a good deal of trouble hunting for shoes (or sandals, slippers, or whatever the occasion demands…).
My doting friends have christened me from time to time with many a moniker, ranging from Vaman, to Stuart Little… one friend even used to insist that i take a picture of my feet….
Even back home, in India, I had difficulty finding shoes, but at least managed to find something that fit my feet…even if it was mostly non-branded stuff…
No major brands would have shoes my size…even good old Bata, had most of its good designs starting from size 4 onwards (mine is smaller than that!), so I rarely had the privilege of buy their footwear, which is more famous for the weird improper fractions they have as prices, than for their style…
Well, as a kid, I didn’t have much of a problem finding school or casual shoes… (at least, I don’t remember… may be I should ask my mom if she had trouble finding shoes that fit me)…but I guess the real problem was that as I grew up in age, my feet for some reason failed to catch up with the years, and remained kid- sized !
Even when I got sandals from non branded stores, I used to ask the store people to punch extra holes in the strap, as the straps would be loose even after buckling them in the last hole….

After marriage, there was another twist to the tale, as the other half turned out to be a firm believer in branded stuff… (I had to convince him that there was no such thing as a branded salwar, and that they varied with every store)
according to him, if I couldn’t have branded shoes, I should atleast have them bought from a major retailer…I on the other hand, could never bring myself to spend some extra hundreds just because it came from a fancy store in an upscale mall…finally, I gave in, and spent hours walking up and down malls looking for shoes….
I bet it would have been easier for Cinderella’s prince to find feet to fit the solitary glass shoe…..

The real problem started a few months back…. I travelled for the first time to the US of A, and since I was landing there in the middle of winter, armed myself with a pair of sneakers in addition to my strappy sandals. Of course, the sneaker has its own story…as usual, we hunted down the aisles of branded stores, and when we managed to find a model which both the OH and I liked, the only pair that the store had in my size was old and a little damaged, so they had to order another and it had to be picked up after a few days…finally, I was the proud owner of a nike sneaker, after setting the indulgent hubs back by almost a couple of thousand INR !
Well, after a few months here, my sandals gave away…and the hunt began…we started store hopping, and mall hopping... To start with, American shoe sizes are different from Indian sizes....and in between every size, they have a half-size too, so you have 6 ½, 7 ½, etc… and they are also much more expensive, compared to India…seeing the shoes, I guessed the feet of the average American woman should be larger than her Indian counter part, and they should be having a great sense of balance, to walk without falling with the pointy heels that most shoes have….so now, in addition to finding a size that fit, I also had to look out for shoes which were not stilettos, pencil heels or any other contraption that would require me to have the skill, balance and dexterity of a tight rope walker !
Phew, this time I even tried kid’s shoes….really…the sizes were more closer to mine…but I didn’t want to be seen around town in shoes that had pink butterflies, pretty bows or polka dots on them !
The OH mumbled something about trying to find a -2 size… out of sheer exhaustion and exasperation, he came up with a solution, though temporary….he bought a couple of tubes of super strength adhesive and stuck my sandal where it had come off….
Now, is my want of a shoe a lost battle ?
I’ll let you know if I find a shoe before the glue wears off…..watch this space….

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

thoughts fuelled by a dumpster....


In the few months i've been in the US, i have been surprised about the amount of trash that is generated. Most of the things used in everyday life are disposable, and add to the quickly increasing pile of trash. (cups,plates,napkins are common, but do things like baking trays and contact lenses need a disposable version...) I think Indians by nature reuse things more....almost everything is given a second lease of life...from clothes,books and toys passed on from older to the younger children, to plastic bags and bottles used over and over again....
well, something is thrown out only if all possible means of repair or reuse have been exhausted...
a few days ago,i looked out of my window one morning and was apalled to see a big white mattress, with no visible damage to it, dumped into the trash bin(and was removed soon after).
i should say i was quite shocked by the sight...why would anyone dump a seemingly good mattress in the trash....surely, one could find someone in need of it, some charity organization willing to take it, or atleast put it up at a garage sale or something....
it think it would be nice if everyone would do their little bit to reduce the amount of trash we dump on the face of the earth... this planet has so much to offer us - even if we can never give back as much as we take out of nature,let us do what little we can in minimising the damage we cause...
surely,the world would be a much better place with fewer landfills......
just pause for a minute before the next time you toss something out....

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Cherry Blossom Festival,Washington.D.C

As spring makes an entry around the world, the city of Washington D.C has its own unique way of ushering in the spring… Every year, the thousands of cherry trees along the Tidal Basin (in the banks of the Potomac river in Washington D.C)break into bloom in end march- mid april. The flowers last for just a couple of weeks at the most, and the peak period is just a few days. The flowers are white and light pink, and the entire river bank is a beautiful sight in white. The trees were originally planted in 1912 as a gift of the then mayor of Tokyo, Japan. The trees are closely watched and the blooming period is forecast. A Cherry Blossom Festival is held with lots of events. Thousands of visitors from all over pour into Washington to see the beautiful trees. We went to see the cherry blossoms this sunday and it was a wonderful sight. Though there are thousands of visitors, elaborate parking arrangements have been made around the area and shuttles transport visitors from the many parking lots to the Tidal Basin. Trees full of white blossoms line the entire banks of the Potomac river, and it is a lovely sight as you take a walk down the river. You can also take a boat ride on the Potomac river and take in the lovely sights of the flowers on the edge of the waterfront, as well as the Washington monument on one side and the Jefferson memorial on the other. Outside the Jefferson memorial, a stage is set up and events are continuously taking place (we even heard some Pakistani songs !) There are lots of stalls selling souvenirs and snacks for those who want to grab a quick bite,and yet the periphery of the trees and the waterfront is kept really clean, as there are lot of trash cans everywhere(even seperate ones for trash and recyclable bottles and metal cans....) and people are responsible enough to through the trash only inside them(not leave them strewn around, as I have painfully seen, in most tourist destinations in India...)
Here are some of the snaps i took .... Chk out this link for more details about the cherry blossom festival




Friday, 21 March 2008

ஒரு சராசரித் தமிழனுக்கு மிகவும் பரிச்சயமான எழுத்தாளராக அண்மையில் காலமான சுஜாதா அவர்கள்தான் இருந்திருக்க முடியும்...
தீவிரமான இலக்கிய ரசனையோ ஆர்வமோ இல்லாதவருக்கும் அறிமுகமான எழுத்தாளராக அவர் இருந்ததற்கு காரணம் அவர் எழுத்தாளராக மட்டுமல்லாது பன்முகம் கொண்டவராக இருந்தது தான்.
தமிழ்ப் பத்திரிக்கை வாசகர்களுக்கு சிறுகதை,தொடர்கதைகள்,அறிவியல் ஆர்வம் கொண்டவர்களுக்கு கட்டுரைகள் ,சினிமா ரசிகர்களுக்கு கதை, திரைக்கதை,வசனம் என அவரது எழுத்துக்கள் பல அவதாரங்கள் எடுத்துள்ளன....
எழுத்தாளராக மட்டுமல்லாமல் விஞ்ஞானியாகவும் இருந்து இந்தியத் தேர்தல்களில் மின்னணு வாக்குப்பதிவு இயந்திரங்களை அறிமுகப்படுத்தியதில் பெரும் பங்கு வகித்தவர்.
பல ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்னரே தனது "சிலிக்கன் சில்லுப் புரட்சி" மூலம் கணினிகளைத் தமிழ் வாசகர்களுக்கு அறிமுகப்படுத்தியவர்.

ஆனந்த விகடனின் "பூக்குட்டி" முதல் கணையாழியின் "கடைசிப் பக்கம்" வரை பல தரப்பு வாசகர்களுக்கும் எழுதும் திறன்கொண்டவர் .
அவரது எழுத்துக்களில் என்னை ஈர்த்தவை அவரது அறிவியல் கட்டுரைகள், "ஏன் எதற்கு எப்படி" கேள்வி பதில்கள்,கற்றதும் பெற்றதும் கட்டுரைகள்,மற்றும் "ஸ்ரீரங்கத்து தேவதைகள்" .

அதுவும் ஸ்ரீரங்கத்து தேவதைகள் நான் மிகவும் ரசித்து அனுபவித்த நூல்களில் ஒன்று... '50 களின் ஸ்ரீரங்கத்தைக் கண்முன் கொண்டு நிறுத்தும் அந்த வர்ணனை அவரது தனிச் சிறப்பு...இயல்பாகவே ஸ்ரீரங்கத்தின் மீது பற்று கொண்ட என்னை அங்கேயே இருப்பது போல உணரச் செய்தவை அவரது எழுத்துக்கள்.
சென்ற வருடம் ஒரு திருமணத்துக்காக அங்கு செல்ல நேர்ந்த பொழுது கீழ சித்திர வீதி வழியாக நடந்ததில் ஒரு குழந்தைத்தனமான சந்தோஷம் கொண்டேன்...!

இன்றைய ஸ்ரீரங்கம் சுஜாதா காலத்து அடையாளங்களை இழந்திருந்தாலும், எனக்கு அது என்றும் கீழ சித்திர வீதியில் விளையாடும் சிறுவர்களும்,ரங்கு கடையும், டிபிஜி கடையும், 'டென் அனாஸ்' அய்யங்காரும் ,ரங்கன், வத்சலா,அவர்களின் தோழர்களும் வாழும் அன்றைய ஸ்ரீரங்கமாகவே இருக்கும்....

ஸ்ரீரங்கத்து தேவதைகள் தொகுப்பில் ஒரு கதையின் தலைப்பு "almost a genius"...
sujatha was not 'almost a genius'....he was a genius...he was 'always a genius'....

பி.கு :இன்று பங்குனி உத்திரம் என்பது இப்போது நினைவுக்கு வருகிறது ....பல நாட்களாக முடிக்காமல் பாதியில் வைத்திருந்த இதை தற்செயலாக, அரங்கனுக்கு உகந்த, ஸ்ரீரங்கத்தில் விசேஷமான இந்நாளில் முடிக்க நேர்ந்தது .....

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

missing mylapore

Having spent my entire pre-marriage life in and around mylapore,that enchanting part of gud old madras(probably the only part of the city which is much much older than the city itself),i cannot help missing it,especially at this time of the year....this is the tamil month of panguni,when all south indian temples have their utsavams to celebrate the celestial weddings....
in mylapore,the month is synonymous for the kapaliswarar kovil thiruvizha,the highlights of which are the 'Ther' and 'Arupathumoovar' processions,which draw huge crowds from every corner of the city...
i am reminded of the maadaveedhis,often turning into 'mad-a-veedhis' with the uncontrollable crowds jostling each other,innumerable hawkers spreading their stuff,the police barricades,the temporary makeshift shelters for the 'thanneer pandals', the fire engines staioned at the intersection of venkatesa agrahaaram & r.k.mutt road,the brightly lit canopys or pandals under which the vaahanams breifly halt during the processions....all of which exude a special charm unique to mylapore,unique to its thiruvizha...
i have fond memories of the late night rishaba vaahanam and the early morning adhikaara nandhi,in shining silver and the deities bedecked in temple jewellery and fragrant garlands...and the long ques to the 'ther vadam'(long heavy coir rope used to pull the temple chariot ).
the highlight of the ten day festival is the arupathumoovar,where all the 63 nayanmars(saivaite saints) are taken in procession along with the deities.huge crowds of lakhs of people throng the streets of mylapore to catch a glimpse of the palaquins,and thousands of litres of water and buttermilk are served free to quench the thirst of parched throats....
hmmm....nostalgic....to me,and am sure,to anyone else, seperated by distance,but bound by spirit, to that part of chennai we proudly belong....namma mylapore

chk this link for a web cast of the 'Ther' with commentary in english http://www.kutcheribuzz.com/pangunifest2008/


mylapore, mylapore tank, kapaleeswarar temple, kabali temple, kabaleeswarar, madras, chennai

Thursday, 28 February 2008

தமிழில் வலைப்பதிவு சுலபமாகிறது !!

google வாழ்க !
இப்போது தமிழில் பதிவு செய்வது சுலபம் - font download,installation, ஆகியவை இல்லாமலே...!
ஒரு சோதனை முயற்சியாக இதைச் செய்து பார்க்கிறேன்
தமிழ், ஆங்கிலம் இரண்டிலும் சுலபமாக மாற்றி மாற்றி எழுத முடிவது ஒரு பெரிய வசதி...
இது என்னைத் தமிழில் பதிவு செய்யத் தூண்டும் என நம்புகிறேன்...பார்ப்போம்....!!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

On sunsets

I have always been fascinated by sunsets (maybe because I don’t get to see sunrises that often , being a habitual late riser..!!),and having spent almost all my life in a tropical city blessed with sunshine, I’ve never had a dearth of them. From muted yellows to blazing oranges, I’ve seen many a hue, and I never seem to have enough of them…whenever I happen to have to have a camera close at hand, I rush to get a click of that glorious evening sun which draws to a close yet another day.

Twilight, I think, often has a deep effect on me, as I go into contemplation, sitting and watching the daylight ebb into impending darkness….
It sets the mood to reflect on the day, or more often, the days gone by….
Do some soul searching and ponder about where your life has taken you, and what is in store…
About journeys made and destinations yet to be reached….

It has a calming effect and soothes those harried nerves…

I was just going through my folders and found that in the past two years I had accumulated quite a good number of sunsets that I had captured….the most recent one happening to be in new jersey, where I am now, just about ten days back, in the middle of a pretty cold winter….!
I am posting here some of the snaps I like from my collection…

Friday, 25 January 2008

Writing Revived


I have been wanting to start blogging for a long time , the principal reason being a fear of losing what little writing skills I happen to have….i realise that it has been almost a decade since I’ve stopped writing school essays and compositions and the only kind of writing that I seem to have been doing is exam answers or e-mails….the first, I am hopeless at, and the second, I do rarely and in brief…

Growing up in an age where the need for written communication has greatly been reduced (right from my childhood when the telephone was a modest landline instrument in which you poked your finger into the holes and rotated the dial, to the omnipresent mobile phones which are not merely phones but also radios, cameras, alarms, digital organisers and so much more rolled into one….), you hardly have the need to write anyone letters…I don’t remember when was the last time I stepped into a post office…

Though I do write e-mails, I wonder if it can be called writing, in the actual sense of the word…I think if anyone two generations earlier was asked to read them, they would dismiss it off as meaningless, or think that you would have failed your spelling and grammar lessons in school miserably…all words seem to have a truncated form, and we don’t even seem to have the time and patience to say ‘thanks’or ‘regards’…they have become thnx,(or even tx), and rgds…even ‘you’ has been reduced to ‘u’…u send msgs to ur frnds to wish them b’day, gud nite, gud morn, and they say thx cos they don’t hav time 4 anythin more…u wanna meet 2morw and ur frd says v’ll c abt tht…

Phew…since the likes of above have become perfectly acceptable language , I thought I would really indulge in some writing, before I forget my spellings in good old ‘Queen’s English’ ! I hope to make frequent attempts to pen down( did I say pen? Make it MS Word !) my thoughts, experiences or anything else that catches my fancy…in the hope of salvaging my language and improving my writing skills…

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