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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Review of 2 old books

Hi pals,
                  How are you feeling yourself post-Diwali? Ready to relax and unwind for the rest of the year? Have you all planned to be at resorts or any comfort places to energize those tired nerves? Anyway, advanced Happy Holidays!!
                            Its been a little busy for sometime, still I've been planning this post for a long time. This time, it is an area which I've never ventured before- BOOK REVIEW!! I am not that good in writing detailed reviews, especially about books, as half of the details do not stay in my mind after I close a book. But, after reading two books recently, I felt compelled to write something about them. No, they are not the books launched recently, but the old ones. Nowadays, it has become a fashion to launch the book of the first timers in some five-star hotels or famous book shops. If we open our newspapers, we can see some news item in detail about a maiden book launch of  the Indian authors. This will make us feel that launching the first book is like a cake walk, but, when we try to do it, we realize that it is never that easy.
                                                   The first book I am going to talk about is titled 'The Tennis Partner' written by Abraham Verghese in 90's.  A relatively lesser known author, he is a medical practitioner based in US. This book is partly autobiographical, which I least expected to be. The book is a slow starter, but when the momentum picked up, I found it hard to put the book down. Dr. Verghese's marriage was crumbling down, when David Smith, a medical student and a  recovering cocaine addict, joins the hospital as an intern under the same person. The doctor, who is passionate about tennis and a great fan of players like Bjon Borg, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl, discovers the same passion in the newly joined intern. Soon they start out a tennis ritual, playing tennis regularly. The intern becomes the doctor's coach teaching him more strategies in the game. They find comfort in each other's company and the doctor who was coping with the broken marriage feels that David has entered into his life in right time. As they stick to their regular tennis routines, they share their emotions with each other and the friendship becomes deeper than the usual man-to-man one. The doctor sees his intern as a 'partner', true to the title of the book. He becomes jealous of David's girlfriends and sees them as opponents. It is an emotional journey in the life of the doctor and the author succeeds in bringing out his own feelings very well. The book is written in a crisp language and brings out the author's expertise in the field of medicine and tennis. A book like this with  good language and minimum swear words is hard to come by, compared to some books by current Indian authors. I recommend this as a must read for those who are looking for something different and yet making you somewhat connected to the author. If you want more information about the author you can find the page of Abraham Verghese (in Facebook) created by Knopf and Vintage books.

                                                     'Siddhartha' is a novel written by Hermann Hesse which was published around the year 1921. Though I have heard about this book for a long time, I got chance to read it only recently. I expected this book to be boring and full of spiritual sermons and so I was taken by surprise. This story is written as taking place during the time of Gautama Buddha and it is natural that one can initially get confused with the name 'Siddhartha' as Buddha's name was also the same. Buddha is referred as Gotama here. The protagonist of this story is a Brahman who leaves his home in search of spiritual salvation by becoming a member of the wandering group Samanas. He is joined by his best friend Govinda. But soon he becomes restless as he feels that listening to mere teachings without actually undergoing through each phase of life will not lead to true enlightenment. He breaks away from the group and meets a ferryman named Vasudeva who ferries people of all ages across a gushing river. Vasudeva and the ever gushing river become his true guides in the later part of the story. He meets Kamala, a beautiful courtesan of the merchant Kamaswami from who he learns the art of love. Kamala refers him to the merchant Kamaswami from whom he learns the lessons of trade and business. Thus he becomes a rich man and Kamala's lover, but after sometime he realizes that these worldly pleasures are just an illusion and do not give spiritual fulfillment. Rest of the novel is about how he succeeds in finding fulfillment through the worldly experiences and then finding everlasting peace with the help of the ferryman Vasudeva and the river. The author manages to hold the reader's attention throughout the story with just one man's internal journey of life. He brings out in a convincing manner that one has to go through various phases of life to attain spirituality and that experiences are the best teachers of a man. His childhood friend Govinda comes back to him to seek true enlightenment which he found lacking in the years of teachings. Not a murder mystery, not a suspense thriller, but definitely 'unputdownable'.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Lighting the Lamp

Hi friends,
                  I am back after a pause for more than a month wanting to write something on the eve of Diwali. Diwali is a festival of lights, victory of good over evil, welcoming Goddess Lakshmi and so on. What do families do during Diwali? Make or buy goodies, new clothes, light the lamps, and of course, no Diwali is ever complete without bursting those tons of fire crackers.
                                          When we burst these crackers along with our families, how many of us will remember that a fire accident took place in Sivakasi fireworks factory just two months back? Almost every year, some fire accident takes place in that factory which burns some human lives. This time, more of onlookers were involved in the accident. These people rushed into the factory thinking that an explosion had taken place and wanting to save their kith & kin. Nevertheless, it is again another blot and a grim reminder of another tragedy relating to fireworks in Sivakasi. People working there are mostly poor and illiterate, forced to work in abysmal and dangerous conditions with little or no protection over their lives, no insurance coverage because the factory owners can easily get these poor people to work for paltry wages.
                                  When we burn the whole year's toil within a few hours, we are not only polluting the environment with all those smoke and fumes, but we scare many helpless animals and birds around. Many old people cannot take sound beyond some decibel levels. Are we really celebrating the true spirit of Diwali and is it a victory of good over evil?
                        The real victory is celebrated when we are kind and considerate to those poor and helpless workers who work for hours in those hazardous conditions, when we say no to all those bursting fireworks, discovering many interesting and harmless ways of celebrating which will spread the message of love and peace. I know that writing these few lines will not change anything, but this is only an attempt to be heard by some. I wish you all a
                            "HAPPY AND PEACEFUL DIWALI".

An extended quote from my school autograph: 
                           "Light the Lamps of Diwali with the oil of peace, friendship, sincerity and which will help keep our environment clean."
 P.S.  This is an article written in a hurry and is short of some more details. Next one coming soon....Watch out!!!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A 'Storky' experience on Canvas-A leaf and a feather from Ranganathittu

Hey buddies,
                      For a long time, I have always been amazed by the variety of birds that exist in our planet. I have made a brief mention in one of my posts that one of my favorite pass time is bird watching. But with increased urbanization and deforestation, lots of bird species are becoming extinct thus tilting the balance of our ecosystem. If, we, city-dwellers want to sight more birds, we will have to travel far away from the concrete jungles and be at a place with lots of trees and lakes.
                                                I have drawn and painted birds in the past using water colors and oil paints by borrowing someone else's photos. I have enjoyed recreating every feather and other features of the birds and would like to do more. This painting is the follow-up of our Ranganathittu bird sanctuary trip and is oil painting done on canvas ( From a photo taken by us). You can read the details of our trip to Ranganathittu bird sanctuary in one of my earlier posts.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A trip to Shivanasamudra falls

Hello once again,
                          It's been more than one & half years since I began my blogging, and I have to say, it has been a wonderful journey for me so far. My husband encouraged me to start a blog, and I thought it will not go past  2-3 posts and will sit idle. I am a relatively late entrant into the blogging world, and though I filled my profile details, I did not start writing for sometime, not knowing how to enter each post!! But, one day, I did start, and after that, there is no turning back!!! As some of you would have noticed, my space does not stick to any particular topic, and so, it is sometimes on social issues, or on travel,  artwork or anything different. Many of the topics are unplanned and written more out of instinct. I would like to thank all of you for the support and encouragement you have given me and I feel humbled. I will want to continue writing more and hope it may bring at least a grain of change for the better of the society.
                                               This time, it is about travel & leisure as the title above speaks of. Why do we like to travel? It is a kind of second nature in us to travel and explore the unknown places. Most of us want to escape the routine and the drudgery of the daily life which tires our mind and body and so we plan a holiday to get rejuvenated.
                   " Saanson ki zaroorat hai jaise zindigi ke liye,
                    Bus ek sanam chaahiye aashiqi ke liye"- Movie Aashiqui

Just as breath is needed for life and a lover to love, we need to travel and explore the new places to recharge ourselves. I love to travel a lot and do the activities like trekking, sight-seeing, bird watching etc. A few days back, we went to Shivanasamudra Falls which is about 140 kms from Bangalore. It was a comfortable day trip. It is better to take snacks and food with you, as there are no decent restaurants on the way to stop over. We took the Kanakpura road which is parallel to Mysore road leading to Malavalli from where a diversion is taken. Traffic is less compared to the Mysore Road, and so you can reach faster. The road, though single-laned, is well laid with trees on either sides and the scenic with fields and mountains all the way.  To enjoy the nature and get a break from driving, we stopped at some places and admired the vastness of the mountains and trees.

                       A couple of hours later, we reached GaganaChukki falls (one part of Shivanasamudra falls). The falls originate from Kaveri river and travel through rocks & ravines to drop as falls. Shivanasamudra town is located in Mandya district and is the location of one of the first Hydro-electric power stations in Asia. In GaganaChukki, we get to see a vast stretch of greenery covered mountains with a thin stretch of water falls at a couple of places. More than the falls, the rocks and mountains there are a pleasure to watch. A few Kms ahead, we reached the backside of GaganaChukki falls. There, it was more of rocks and thin strip of water running through the rocks, reminding us of Colorado River (US) watched from a height.

                                                            At GaganaChukki.....
                                                    Backside of GaganaChukki falls

                                                          On the way to BharaChukki......
                                                                Kaveri River

                      When we reached the main BharaChukki falls, it took us a little time to get a parking space, as it was a Sunday, but we were lucky. To get near the falls, we descended a series of about 150 steps and I could see that tourists climbing up were gasping for breath. This main falls were a sight by itself and one to be enjoyed from a distance and to get wet near the water. Yes, lots of people were enjoying to the fullest either by getting wet or getting adventerous by climbing up the rocks and getting close to the falls. The weather was clear, water was cool and ideal for spending hours with family and friends and forgetting our worries for a while. We enjoyed to the fullest by getting wet in the water and climbing up the rocks to get near the gushing water falls. Reluctantly, after some time, we had to get back by climbing up the steps though the place seemed to tell us to be there for more time. The things that were lacking here were toilets, changing rooms, eateries, adequate parking spaces which should be given much more attention, considering the large number of tourists visiting there.

                                                 BharaChukki falls from a distance.....

                                                          Closer view.........
                                                       My hubby sitting closer to the falls....



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Worshipped as Durga and Saraswathi in temples, is an ordinary woman's worth peanuts in our country?

            About some days back, I went to my cousin's place which is a few Kms from my home to pick a parcel sent by my parents from my hometown. I took an auto and reached there. My relative was surprised to see that I went there alone. After getting back, she enquired me whether I reached home safely. I was  a bit amused, but I could understand and appreciate her concern. In our country, though it is not a taboo for a woman travelling alone here & there and for work reasons, given the rising crime rate and sexual harassment against her, the safety in public places is still a distant dream. Barring a few percentage of women in cities who use their own car or any other vehicle to commute, many women see to it that they are home before it gets dark and especially if they are alone.


                              The molestation of a girl which happened in Guwahati  in July shook the whole country for various reasons. Though it happened in full public view, the by passers did not come forward to curb the situation. It was being videotaped by a cameraman of a news channel who seemed to think that it was his duty to expose this crime. It goes without saying that it was also his duty to save the victim in distress which he did not do.  It was like the paparazzi people who were busy taking the images of a dying Princess Diana instead of saving her from that accident. It took time for the police to take action and arrest those perpetrators of that crime. Are they going to be given rigorous imprisonment or jailed for some months and released on bail? The 'crime' the girl committed was going to a bar to celebrate a friend's birthday party. On her way back a quarrel was picked up with some men which led the assaulters to take this step. The so called 'self-righteous people' and even some sections of media were quick to put blame on the girl. Why did she go to a bar and come back alone at night and make herself vulnerable for that crime. We have the society which says girls and women should not dress provocatively or else they are 'inviting' the crime. What about the molestation suffered by women who dress 'decently'? Who will be blamed there? Many sexual harassment cases go unreported because the police themselves refuse to take action or the victims do not come forward due to shame and humiliation.
                               Closer home, near Bangalore, there was another similar incident that happened in August, but as it was reported locally, this one did not receive the national attention as the other one did. A group which consisted of six boys and two girls from a reputed engineering college in Bangalore went on a picnic to Sangam and Muthathi (near Kanakapura road) to celebrate birthday of one of them. It turned into a nightmare when the boys were attacked by the miscreants and the girls' clothes were torn in full public view. Again here, the police refused to register the complaint initially on the 'advice' of the brother of a Congress leader who asked them not to register a case. Thankfully, we do not have a video of this incident to be watched in Youtube. Local residents came to the rescue of the victims and they held a rally and saw that atleast some of the perpetrators were arrested.
                           Who are the criminals in both the scenes? The people who committed the crime or the police refusing to take immediate action? You can answer the question. Yes, the laws in our country are weak and full of lapses and still do not favour the women. Somehow, the rape and molestation crimes are not looked as par with the first degree murder. The victims of this crime, mostly girls and women, are humiliated and feel their self worth is lost and the trauma remains with them throughout their lives. Many of them commit suicide to escape the trauma later on. Rarely the perpetrators are awarded the right kind of punishment they deserve for their crime which emboldens more such people to commit these heinous acts. The weak and slow pace of the laws are to blame for the rising crimes against women in our country. How can we advertise our country as 'incredible' and a rising super power when women do not feel safe outside their homes? Will there be a visible change for better after about a hundred years?


Friday, August 17, 2012

Revisited!!-Lalbagh Flower Show-August 2012

Hi all,
         How are you keeping??? How's the weather treating you?? For Indian friends, how did the Independence day (August 15 ) pass off? Was it just another holiday or did any of you do some introspection as to what we are doing for our country rather than what the country is doing for you??? (Famous words of JFK). Last year, around this time, the social activist Anna Hazare almost brought the country together with his fight against the corruption and tried to hasten the passing of the still awaited Jan Lokpal Bill. The UPA Govt seemed to pass the Bill, but still managed to not pass it effectively. Meanwhile, the fight against the corruption lost its steam, and, though Anna Hazare fasted over and again, the public and the media did not seem to care. After a break, the social activist is turning to be a political activist and we seem to be quick to form opinions. Is n't it easy to blame that Anna Hazare should not have got into politics to fight against the corruption? What are we doing? Are we weeding away corruption in our day-to-day lives? I do not think so. Its going to take a long long time for changes to happen, and unless, we play an active role, the changes are not going to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, I bow with all respect and humility before this great man who refuses to give up fight and keeps trying all possible methods to achieve his goal. How many of us have the courage to this far???
                                       Now, why did I go into politics when the title of this post is something different? I did not intend to post this, as I am particular that topics previously posted should not be repeated. But, as any rule goes, rules DO have exceptions!!! Let me be frank. The LalBagh flower show photos previously posted has attracted lots of viewers which does make me feel happy. And of course, I feel encouraged to post some more photos of the Lalbagh Flower show-August 2012 (Bangalore) which took place on the eve of Independence day. This time, it was a little mellowed compared to the previous ones, and it maybe due to the impact of lesser rains.  There were some arrangements which looked more attractive compared to the main theme. There were lots of stalls selling miscellaneous items like decorative things, health foods, plants, etc.

                                              The entrance of the Lalbagh Botanical garden. 

                                                  A slanting Bonsai in the Japenese garden. 

                                                       A self-hugging bonsai.

                                           The main theme- Tree house, dinosaur, & the white ducks.

Flowery Tree-house.

                                                          Pinky dearie bearies!!!!


Orchids again!!!

Border flowerbed ...

Spooky tree!!!!..........No.... A tree lighted up during night!!!

Hope you will enjoy!!!!!!!   

Smiles, :)


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Indian performance at Olympics

Hello everybody,
                           How many of you have suddenly become patriotic? I mean, not because another August 15 is approaching, but because of the ongoing Olympics in London. When our players perform in any event, we all forget our differences and fervently pray for him/her to reach final and win a medal.
                                                       I do not want to proceed on the pessimistic note that only 4 or 5 medals were won and it's such a dismal show for the country of 1.2 billion and, especially, with our super power neighbour  China topping the chart. For all those naysayers, we have to remember that there was a time when our country did NOT even enter the medal tally in successive Olympics (1984, 1988, 1992). Yes, it was an absolute ZERO medals in some olympics. Hockey game did the nation proud by consistently winning the gold medals up to the year 1980. That might be the reason, it was named as the national game. But, after 1980, the hockey team's performance has spiraled downward, and this year we saw its humiliating defeat in the hands of the other countries. The once unbeatable champions have become like toys to be crushed with, these days. The national game can be changed to cricket and an appeal can be made to the Olympic committee to include that in the list.
                                                        K D Jadhav, 1952 bronze medal winner for wrestling.
                   We may end up with the medal tally of 4 or 5, all won by individuals, and the highest ever so far. Before this, the independent India won an individual bronze medal by K D Jadhav for wrestling in Helsinki. Who is he, everybody and even I asked. Yes, he went into oblivion and our Government did not give him the due recognition he was worthy of. He did not even receive the Arjuna Award and he died in an accident and was in abject poverty. So much for the lone medal winner of the greatest sporting extravaganza!!! After that, Leander Paes won a bronze medal for Tennis in 1996. I remember myself beaming with pride because that was the first time in my life I was getting to see somebody from our country standing on the podium. And, so did Karnam Malleswari, the gutsy lady from Srikakulam (AP) win a lone bronze in the year 2000 for weightlifting. The other medals won by the individuals in the successive Olympics are:
               2004 Olympics-Silver medal for Col.Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in shooting.
               2008 Olympics-Gold medal for Abhinav Bhindra in 10 mtr rifle shooting.
                                      -Bronze medal for Sushil Kumar in wrestling.
                                      -Bronze medal for Vijender Singh in boxing.

               2012 Olympics - Silver medal for Vijay Kumar in shooting.
                                       - Bronze medal for Gagan Narang in shooting 10 mtr rifle shooting.
                                       - Bronze medal for Saina Nehwal in badminton
                                       - Bronze medal for Mary Kom in boxing.
                                       -Silver medal for Sushil Kumar in wrestling.
                                       -Bronze medal for Yogeshwar Dutt in wrestling.  

                        Each one of them deserves long term recognition & glory for raising the Indian flag in the Olympic village. They are the role models for the youngsters who showed that winning an Olympic medal is 'achievable'. Having told that, the total number of medals won by our country in about 100 years is just handful!! Come on, we need more!! How can we go about it?
                                 In our country, sports is given the least priority as is seen everywhere. We are all brainwashed by statements like 'don't waste your time playing around, you are not going to pass the exams', 'now say goodbye to all your sports and other extracurricular activities and concentrate on getting a degree' (which ensures a career and a job). If  excelling in sports does not guarantee a decent job and recognition, how many of us are going to sweat into it?
                                  Even if you want to seriously take up any sporting event, the support and facilities are woefully lacking here compared to USA, China and many Western countries. When our cricketers are bought and sold for millions, other sports persons struggle for funds from the government and private sectors. Abhinav Bhindra belongs to an affluent family and Saina Nehwal, with the support of her family, trained under Pullela Gopichand. Others like Sushil Kumar 's & Vijender Kumar's fathers were drivers. Mary Kom has emerged as a new warrior from the most unlikely state of Manipur, already a mother of twins, first ever woman boxer, a former world champion proving to our country that boxing is not just a man's sport. She had to struggle all alone to reach the Olympic village before she became the overnight household name. She was at first denied Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in spite of becoming a world champion before this Olympics. (Of course, she was awarded later on). Gagan Narang's father had to sell a piece of land to buy the foreign equipment required for his training. He got no support from anybody during his early years. Every Indian Olympian has a story to tell which will be full of struggle, persistence, and a lonesome journey to the top.
                                              If we want to see ourselves placed along with the top countries in the medal tally, there needs to be a lot more investment and facilities and a huge change in our attitudes. Just praying and hoping fervently that our players win any medal is not going to be enough. Let there be more Mary Koms, Karnam Malleswaris, Saina Nehwals, K D Jadhavs, Abhinav Bhindras, Sushil Kumars, Vijay Kumars,etc......


P.S.----So near, yet so far!!!! That was the thought which crossed my mind when I saw the wrestler Sushil Kumar losing out to Japenese finalist to settle for the silver. That elusive gold medal seemed within the reach, yet-----Apart from that, we have so much to cheer about in this Olympics!! For the first time, all six medals(the highest ever, so far) were won by the individuals, which was not imaginable about a decade ago. The wrestler Sushil Kumar set a new record by winning the individual medals twice in consecutive Olympics. Well done & CONGRATS!! to all of you and to those who missed the medals in the finals.(Krishna Poonia for finishing 7th in the finals of discus throw, Joydeep Karmakar for finishing 4th in shooting)  Finally, something to cheer about and give hope a new direction to the aspiring sports persons.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Two songs of Ilyaraja in Kalyani Raaga-In the same boat, yet so different!!

Hi friends,
                The month of June is supposed to bring the southwest monsoons synonymous with the school reopening. But, if anybody is following anything, they can see that the rain gods are failing to shower us liberally up to now. If there are no rains, water problem is going to be acute, more power shortages, agricultural crises etc. Oh, Tansen, please bring back those rain showers with your magical voice in megh malhar raag. We are all starved for those cloudy, gloomy, hot pakoda-tea days.
                      We do not require a Tansen to tell us that music of any form has profound effect on our lives. Music transcends boundaries, languages, and acts as a therapy for the troubled souls and physical aches. As one who has learnt carnatic music from my childhood, (a common practice for tamil girls to learn carnatic music in our community) I have grown up to appreciate music of almost all the forms, irrespective of language and the genre it belongs to. From my personal experience, it has acted as a healer of  pains(physical or mental) to some extent. For good or bad, I am more of a listener than a singer (though I have felt at times that my beautiful voice is wasted for the lack of practice). I listen to carnatic music, light music, film songs, ( Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Kannada) Western music, instrumental, and recently, becoming a lover of Hindustani or ghazal songs. I am not proficient enough in Hindi or Urdu, but my love for ghazal developed after listening to the carnatic songs for a long time.
                                Talking about the ragas in the carnatic music, some of them make deeper impact on us. Some of my favorite raagas are Reethi gowlai, Kalyani, Bhairavi, Vasantha, Rampriya, Lathaangi, Shanmughapriya, Kamaas, Aabhogi, Saveri, Shudhasaveri, Shriranjini, Ranjini, Mayamaalavagowla(first swaras of this raaga taught to children), SindhuBhairavi, YamunaKalyani. If I recollect more, I will put down here. Though I know very little about Hindustani music, I find that  Hindustani and Carnatic forms have some connection. The raagas of Kalyani and Yaman(YamunaKalyani in south) are very popular in Hindustani and it is a pleasure to listen to the ghazals in these raags.
                                          Music directors have used many of these raagas and incorporated in making film songs to give us some evergreen songs. Kalyani is one such raaga which has been liberally used by the composers in films because of its 'bright nature' and is supposed to reduce depression. Some of the well-known songs composed by Ilayraja based on Kalyani raagam are:

1. Kalaivaaniye from 'Sindhubhairavi.'
 2. Devan thantha veenai from 'Unnai Naan Santhithen.'
3. Kaatril varum geethame from 'Oru naal Oru Kanavu.'
4. Vellai Puravundru from 'Pudhukavithai'
5. Vaidhehi Raman from 'Pagal Nilavu.'
6. Amma Endru Azhaikkatha from 'Mannan'.
7. Janani Janani from 'Thai Mookambikai'

                                                          From this, I pick up the 6th and the 7th songs and want to tell something about it. The song 'Amma Endru' was sung by KJ Yesudas  and RajniKanth is shown carrying the sick mother and conveying the message that, 'there is no life without mother, millions can be paid to buy ornaments but the affection cannot be got, I am always indebted to you as I know the pains you underwent in bringing me up......etc.' Fine. But, I felt this song was over emotional and melodramatic. Did the film director make like this to suit RajniKanth's style in being a 100% son to a mother? Do we require an actor like him to show us that our mothers went so many hardships? It could have been in somewhat mellowed manner. But, I feel that the mellowed and understated acting does not suit the Kollywood audience. Anyway, I am yet to develop some liking for this song and this is Not in my favorite list of songs. But, my love for my mother does not diminish in any way.

                                          Amma Endru Azhaikkatha from 'Mannan'.

                  The seventh song 'Janani Janani' from the film 'Thai Mookambikai' is also tuned by Ilayaraja in Kalyani raagam and sung by Krishna Chandran & Deepan Chakravarthy. In this song, Shankaracharya is shown praising the mother goddess as the mother of the earth, a savior of all. Some of the lyrics in this song are applicable to all the mothers. This song sounds more soothing to my ear and I keep hearing it over and over again. Yes, this is in my favorites' list. And, when I searched the 'Youtube', I found that this song(Janani Janani) has more visitors than the song 'Amma endru.' The real reason for liking this one is still not known to me. 
                                                   Janani Janani from Thai Mookambikai.
Two compositions of Ilayaraja, in same raaga, almost the same theme, yet feels so different from each other!!!

Take care,




Monday, July 2, 2012

Alpam 'chirava puranam' (A short story about coconut scraper)

This post has been contributed by my dad, S. Muthukrishna Iyer,(a retired ISRO engineer) who himself is an expert cook and handles all the kitchen items ( like coconut scraper, kitchen knives, wet grinder) effortlessly, even though, he is in his sixties.

Hi friends,
                  Coconut and chirava (coconut scraper) are inseparable as coconut and malayali. For Keralites,  a curry or a delicacy is not complete without coconut being part of it in one form or other.
                                         The above photo is the one my daughter sent.

                                                 Another photo sent by my daughter...

                                       The above photo is borrowed from travelblog.org
                     The chirava of yesteryear's used to be made by integrating a large block of shaped wood and the 'chiravanaakku' (the teeth of the coconut scraper) made of toughened steel. The comfort with which one sits on the bar of the scrapper with the bent knees and scraps out the 'parippu' (coconut) from the hard shell within a minute is beyond words. Added attraction is that, sitting on the chirava with bent knees provides valuable exercise and keeps the knees flexibe. (It is seems to be a  fashion nowadays to separate exercise and kitchen work which compels one to find time for both).
     As joint families gave way to nuclear families, the chirava also underwent changes in its appearance as well as the manner in which it did the scraping action. Nowadays, the popular version seems to be the one fitted to the granite top of the kitchen platform and scraping operation is carried out using a group of blades provided on the virtual surface of a sphere, the blades act on the parippu when it is pressed towards it and rotated .
                                            This photo is borrowed from  Mahanandi weblog  

Decades ago cars breaking down on the roads were a common sight, and mostly it happened due to the battery powering its self starter not providing enough power. When it happens the driver used to pull out a starting lever from his tool kit and rotated the engine shaft with great effort. Whenever I happened to see the above platform mounted chirava; this memory comes in, since the scraping tool also rotated in the same manner. Platform mounted scraper has gained popularity since  the use of the floor scraper is considered as not in tune with modernity (this is author’s personal view).

      That apart, the reason for writing this chirava puranam (story about the scraper) was the difficulty I faced in the recent past in obtaining  a floor version of the scraper in the Thiruvananthapuram market. About a decade ago, my daughter, then  living in Hyderabad. asked me to buy one for her and I bought one from Thiruvananthapuram without difficulty. Around five years ago, I again bought another one for my younger daughter and to date, she is happy with it.

     I was in Thiruvananthapuram market again to buy one in 2009 for self; the one in use for decades was lost in transit while shifting to our new residence.  However, its inaugural scraping convinced me that I did land into trouble; while scraping the scrapings were flying all around instead of falling on the plated kept below the 'chirava nakku'( scraper teeth) for collection. Then only, it dawned to me that the simple looking chirava is not a simple tool. I went for one more. However, the second one was also  not up to the mark. Months passed by; we managed to do the coconut scraping for our cooking using the chirava of our kind hearted neighbor.

  Then one day, we landed in my FIL’s house in Besant Nagar, Chennai. There is an age old saying; “kurukkante kannu kozhi koottilanu”(A fox's eyes always follows hen's cage). I straight away went into the kitchen and fished out the chirava (scraper) used in that house. To my surprise, I found that it was a well- designed and sleek looking one and my relatives using it were happy with it. This  one was bought from Murugan stores, Adayar, Chennai. On our way back, we also bought one from the same shop and solved our chirava riddle.

 The irony of this incident is that, we not only  lost our position as the prime coconut grower to our neighbouring state of Tamil nadu, but also our expertise in making a good chirava (coconut scraper).  

S Muthukrishna Iyer.

Thanks to my dad, Shri S. Muthukrishna Iyer for contributing this article on the humble coconut scraper.  
Deepa Nagaraj.