Wednesday, December 13, 2017

THAVALAYILLA KULAM - Pond sans Frogs


Sometimes, it’s the stories behind certain places that leaves an indelible impression on your mind. I love to hear such stories.

And this is one such story…

Ponds with water lilies are not a rare phenomenon in Kerala. But I really do not know what made me stop my vehicle and ask about that particular pond at Parassala, the border of Kerala and Tamilnadu. I was on my way to Kanyakumari and the journey began from Thiruvananthapuram. 

Padmakumar Chettan, a local living in the area became curious when I started taking its pictures.

He came to me and said “ It’s called ‘ Thavalayilla Kulam’ (Ponds sans Frogs)." 

" What a curious name," I said.


" Yes, indeed," and he voluntarily started narrating the story behind it.

“ The story is old as well as interesting too,” he said. 

Marthanda Varma was ruling Thiruvananthapuram which was under the Kingdom, then called ‘ Travancore’.  He used to visit a temple which was near to this pond. The frogs in the pond were so fond of him that they would cry whenever the King left the temple and the place.

“ Just imagine, thousands of frogs crying at the same time,” he said with a little smile on his face and continued the story.

After some time, their pleading became too unbearable that somebody cursed the frogs - ‘Let there be no frogs in the pond '.

“ That’s it, and thus frogs ceased to exist in this pond and hence the name,” he concluded his little story with a sad face.

Wow! What an imagination?

But he couldn’t answer questions like who cursed the frogs? What was it called before?

Still, it’s a lovely little story, right..

I believe certain questions have to remain unanswered to make them more alluring. What do you think?




  • ‘Chettan’ – brother
  • Thiruvananthapuram – One of the districts in Kerala, the southernmost state of India.




Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Irresponsible Journalism at its zenith


Ullal ( Bangalore, India )

On September 12, at 6.30 pm, Sharat a 19-year-old boy left his house at Ullal to meet his friends. Unfortunately, he never returned. When his parents failed to trace his whereabouts, they decided to seek the help of the police.

 After two days, they received a whatsapp video. It was of Sharat and he told them through the video that he had been abducted and appealed to his parents to save him by paying a ransom amount of Rs 50 lakh. He was so frightened and told them that they would kill him if his parents did not act fast.


I read this news from an online portal and became greatly concerned about the way they have reported the news.

It says “Kidnappers Demand Rs 50 Lakhs To Free Bengaluru Teenager, Cops Suspect He's Faking Abduction.”

  • What would be the fate of the boy if the abductors happen to see this news? They could easily make out that Sharat’s parents had sought the help of the police. Will they spare his life after that?
  • Secondly, the prejudiced remark of the Police that he is faking an abduction. If they have made such a remark, then it is irresponsible and highly deplorable. They failed to realise the gravity of the situation.
  • Without even a second thought, the media have chosen to report the callous remark made by the Police and have underplayed the intensity of the situation by reporting that the boy is faking an abduction. They have also quoted another newspaper to substantiate it – another paper sans discretion.

Was the media unaware of the backlash such an irresponsible reporting could cause or were they just shutting their eyes to it?

For a moment, I wished that he was faking it. Alas! It was not.

Three days after, Sharat’s body was found floating in Narasimiah lake ( at Bangalore). He was strangled with a Nylon rope. The abductors were nobody but his friend and his henchmen.
Of course, the abductors could have known through several sources whether Sharath’s parents approached the police or not. But my point was that the media could have refrained from such reporting, especially when it has got something to do with the life of someone.

The pen is definitely mightier than the sword, but there are times, it also should know what restraint is.


This link will show how they reported it Kidnappers Demand Rs 50 Lakhs To Free Bengaluru Teenager, Cops Suspect He's Faking Abduction

 - Shalet Jimmy

Friday, September 1, 2017

How to make Noodles with an ' Indian ' touch?

Today, I took a break from my routine work as I was not feeling well. I did not even feel like having food. Since I was taking medicine, I should eat something, right... Hence, I managed a breakfast of raw papaya and milk.

A few hours after, I started feeling hungry. At the same time, I was not in a mood to order food. So I thought of some quickfix but it shouldn't look like a quickfix too.

That remined me of how my mom used to cook Maggi noodles. Thankfully,  instead of Maggie, I had a packet of Yippe noodles... Thought I would try the way she used to cook it with an Indian touch.

Most of you might be aware of this method . Still, I want to share it here as it came out yummy.

Ingredients

1 packet Yippie noodles ( Masala flavour) ( any flavour will do )
1 Onion chopped
1 Green chilli  ( according to its size )
Coconut oil - 1 tablespoon
1 small carrot
4 French beans
salt - a pinch
Garam Masala - half teaspoon ( or according to your taste )

How to make it?

Add 1 teaspoon coconut oil to a pan . Once the oil gets head add the chopped onion and saut it for a while. Then add Green Chilli sliced into 4 pieces ( I haved added only 1 green chilli as it was a bit big.) Saut it for a while.

Then add Carrot  and French beans sliced into small pieces. (You can add soaked Green peas too. But I have not added it here). Add a pinch of salt ( according to your taste ) Saut it for a while.

When the vegatables are cooked, add the masala that you get along with the noodles packet. Then add half teaspoon of ' Garam Masala'. Saut it for a while..Taste it and if you think it is less salty, add it as required.

Then pour water so that the vegetables are immersed in it. Boil it and then add noodles. Cook it until the water is absorbed completely and get it dry.

Your noodles with an 'Indian' touch is ready. I would say this recipie has a slight inclination towards Kerala as I have used coconut oil and garam masala.

Hope, you will like it.




Monday, August 28, 2017

Good Food & Good Mood - VELLARIKKA PULISSERY ( Kerala dish )


Why Food?

When I started this blog 8 years ago, never in the wildest of my dreams I thought I would include a page for 'Food'.

Why? Because all my life, I had seen nothing but women slogging away in their kitchens. Their lives were confined to those four walls, completely unaware of the world outside.  And I never wanted to end up there. Hence, I shunned that little corner of my house, vehemently.

Years after, when I was tired of eating outside food, I decided to cook.

Even then, I never thought of making any elaborate dishes. While working as a journalist, I had just one holiday. Half of the day, I would spend sleeping and then I would make something very easy with few ingredients to satiate my hunger. I could always order something if it had gone wrong.

Then I shifted to Bangalore. Unlike the hectic journalism days, I had ample free time in my hands. Besides, a sudden shift in the place started upsetting my bowels.  And I was left with just one option - cook my own food.

To start with, I had limited utensils. Besides, I used the induction stove. And also I did not have the COCONUT GRATER.

Did you hear Coconut Grater? Yes!  You heard it, right.

I will elaborate.

Don't think about making yummy Kerala food without coconut and coconut oil, hence, a coconut grater is a prerequisite.


When I started learning the art of cooking and indulging in it, that little corner which scared me as a symbol of enslavement suddenly turned out to be a symbol of liberation. Cooking has started giving that liberated feeling. 


Last month, when I went to my home in Kerala, I decided to try some dishes. I was so overwhelmed to find that my brother asked my mother to learn the recipes of all those dishes I made for him. I realised there's happiness in cooking food and serving people.  The appreciation felt good same as I used to feel when I get accolades for my story or my writing.


You would not find here dishes which required elaborate cooking. That's why I am calling my Kitchen ' A BACHELOR GIRL'S KITCHEN '. It will have some KERALA DISHES  which you can prepare easily if you are a single woman with a kitchen with limited resources.

Why Kerala dishes?

Because I am a Keralite
{A Nazrani Malayali Kochu (dear) from India}


So Let's start with

VELLARIKKA PULISSERY-  



I am taking the quantity suited for a single person.
Main ingredients
1. Yellow Cucumber - (small - Peel it and scoop out  and discard the inner juicy flesh and cut the hard flesh into small pieces - not too small) - (You can also use ASH GOURD instead of Yellow Cucumber)
2. Sour Curd - One small packet
3. Coconut - one-half (grate it)
4. Coconut oil - 2 tablespoon
5. Curry leaves - a few
6. Dry Red Chillies  - 3
7. Green chillies - 3
8. Cumin Seeds  - 2 teaspoon
9. Mustard Seeds - 2 teaspoon
10. Turmeric Powder - 2 teaspoon

How to make it

Put the chopped Yellow cucumber, 2 green chillies ( sliced as two strips ) and 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt ( required ) in a pressure cooker in water which should be enough to cover the vegetable pieces. Three whistles are enough. ( If you don't have a cooker, you can just boil it in a small pan after covering it with a lid)

Grind the grated coconut, cumin seeds and one green chilly in a Mixer to make a smooth paste. Pour it in the utensil (Pressure cooker/pan) and allow it to boil for some time. Check the salt and add accordingly if there's less salt.

Take another pan and pour 2 tablespoon coconut oil. When the oil is hot, splutter 2 teaspoon mustard seeds. (The mustard seeds used in the Kerala dishes are a bit bigger than the mustard seeds used by others). Put three dry red chillies, curry leaves and one teaspoon turmeric powder. Once the raw smell is gone, put it in the pan which contains the boiled vegetables cooked in the grated coconut mix.

Your Vellarikka Puliserry is ready.



Please note: I am using the induction stove to prepare food.


Friday, August 25, 2017

A one day drive to Shravanabelagola - Hassan district Karnataka

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes
 - Marcel Pronst


I was under the impression that travelling could be an experience only if I travel solo. I was completely fascinated by the tales of solo travelling. But my trip to Shravanabelagola in Hassan at Karnataka broke that myth.

Well! Solo travelling might work for many but for me, a trip with somebody who would just like to travel can work. I have cautiously and deliberately avoided the words ‘share the same passion’. After this trip, I firmly affirm the above-mentioned quotes. Travelling is not about seeking new places but new perspectives.

When I look back, this trip proved to be the most wonderful trip ever.

The experience and that ‘so good feeling which you feel from inside’ could not have happened if I had travelled solo. The 600 steps to reach the biggest monolithic statue would have been a big hurdle if I had travelled alone. I could not have managed them by myself.

Those hours, we spent under the shade of a rock after climbing majority of the steps chatting about personal, professional and worldly things made the experience more personal. A slight breeze that blew during those hours made it more memorable.

Neither am I against solo travelling nor am I making a sweeping generalisation. My point is: if you love travelling, grab any opportunity that comes on your way. Whether it is solo or group does not make a difference. It’s all about you and your personal experience.

We travelled to Hassan from Bangalore. As it was an unexpected trip, we started off a bit late. It took around four hours to reach Hassan. Once you are out of the chaos of city traffic, the rural landscape will make your drive a pleasant experience. When you reach Shravanabelagola, you can see the statue from afar.

As I am a person who do not love being amidst a crowd, the month of September proved to be the right time.

At the entrance, I saw her.



As footwear are not allowed, you can buy socks from the local vendors for Rs 60. After the visit, most of us discarded them in a dust bin kept there.

If you think you cannot handle the steps, there is chair - carrier like a palanquin.The views are different and mesmerizing after climbing each step. It’s all about rocks.



This white pond and the view is majestic. 


When you think that you have finished the Herculean task of climbing the steps, this appears. You can sit for a while here and start the next phase of climbing.There is no doubt that you will get thirsty after climbing all those steps. There are big tanks set up for drinking water.



Every 12 years, thousands of devotees come here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is anointed with water, turmeric, rice flour, sugarcane juice, sandalwood paste, saffron, and gold and silver flowers. It is called 'Statue of Gommateshvara' by Kannadigas, but Jains refer to it as "Bahubali". The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018. 



 24 Thirthankara's are kept in individual rooms in a circled roof around the statue.

Some inside views of the temple




The descent was much easier. The coconut water tasted like ambrosia. We just drank and drank.




We returned by around 6 pm.












Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Gibberish - A


When the student is ready, the teacher appears and it's so true. Your teacher can appear before you in myriad forms - like people, unfavourable circumstances, enemies, friends in disguise etc. etc. The change happens when we become ready to adapt.

Sometimes, I wonder is it that 'moment when you decide to adapt' is the real teacher? Maybe you are both - the teacher and the student. And the external factors which I mentioned above are just add-ons that supplement the teacher - student relationship which co-exists in your heart.

Whatever it is, I think that part of your heart/mind needs a lot of encouragement for you are unloading every detail which you have garnered over the years and stored in your heart as precious pearls. Once you unload, there's a huge chance that you can stand empty. But still, that part of your heart is ready to take that risk. And I think that's chivalrous.

It is always better to shut yourself once in a while from all the chaos outside. The opinions and commentaries on anything and everything are pouring in from nook and cranny that it can destroy the ability to think for yourselves. One small attempt to listen to our heart can change the world immensely.

 The greatest tragedy of our time is that we have stopped thinking for ourselves.

We think for others. 

We live for others.

My worst nightmare is to stand in a no man's land where I can't hear myself even if I strain my ears to listen to my heart.

pic courtesy : https://in.pinterest.com/pin/60235713741579716/


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bangalore Diaries - Abby, I miss you




So Abby has returned to the US. We were working together in an NGO. I was 10 years older to her. But the age difference never came in between us. We were good friends. You hardly realise the intensity of a relationship until that person goes far away from you. Now she has gone and I miss her terribly. I am really sad.

If I am a bit late to the office, she would send a message asking ' Are you alright?'. If I am sick she would say " If you want anything just call me." And she lives far away from my place. I knew she would come if I needed any help and she really meant what she said. But I never acknowledged it. Maybe, I was a bit taken aback by the treatment meted out to me by so many manipulative women around me.

 I never thought I would miss her ' this much'. She came to India two years ago. She lived in Delhi and was working with many NGOs there. She learnt Hindi and then came to Bangalore about nine months ago. In these two years, she has travelled to 18 states in the country. She often used to get food poisoning but that did not deter her from relishing the Indian dishes.

She loved the Indian food and most of the days she would take me to a nearby restaurant where we get typical Kerala meals ( my native food). She was very particular that she would only take 'Sambhar' ( a vegetarian curry of South India) with rice rather than fish curry. The only thing I have asked her to refrain is from Coke while she is having her meals. She would always smile and say ' Yea, I know!"

Last time we met, she showed me a photograph enthusiastically where she was eating rice with her hand.

 I was amazed by the way she analysed things, people and surroundings. I was amazed by the way she looked at things objectively. Now, that's is a quality to admire. She was like a breath of fresh air amidst so manipulative women.

Girl! I MISS YOU SO MUCH ...God bless you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Lady Gatekeeper's and Balu's nightmare



That unfateful day ( March 14, 7.30 pm), Jhansi, a gatekeeper with Indian Railways, as usual, was closing the railway gate between Aralvaymoli and North Panakudi stations in Kanyakumari district, Tamilnadu.  The Nagercoil – Bengaluru Express was about to pass.

Out of the blue, five miscreants appeared in their bikes and started yelling at her to open the gate. She was all alone and there was not a single person around. The railway station was in a deserted area and she knew that the train would not pass safely if something goes wrong.

Jhansi kept her calm and pleaded with them that she would open it once the train passes. But they were not ready to heed to any of her pleas. They started beating her black and blue. She took all the blows because she wanted the train to pass safely. It was then a small boy came that way and seeing all the commotion, he took the keys of the bikes and threw them away. This infuriated them and they left Jhansi to chase that boy.

Meanwhile, she rushed to her room to contact the Police Control room and locked herself. But they broke in and continued beating her. She was hit on her head, chest, abdomen...  Balu Chandran, a Kanyakumari native was passing by and when he saw her fighting for her life, he rushed to help her. In no way, Balu was a competitor to the miscreants. In no time, he was lying in a pool of blood. They even rolled the bike on him.Amidst all these chaos, the Nagercoil – Bengaluru  Express passed the station safely. After attacking Balu, the miscreants had gone and hid them in the dark. To Balu and Jhansi's relief, the police arrived by then and took them to the hospital.

I met them when I went to cover the programme organised by railways to honour their bravery. I am not aware whether they received any monetary assistance. Since the function was going on, I couldn't talk to them. But I took their phone numbers. Though I could get Jhansi over the phone easily, it was a task getting Balu. Because every day and night, he was searching for a job. When I called his house the second time, his wife asked: “ Can you help him to get a job?”. I just kept silent because I did not know what to say. They were several such occasions happened in my professional life where I had to stand helpless. It took three days to get him over the phone.

His life had turned topsy- turvy after the incident. He said  “  I get acute head and back aches, frequently. Because of it, I could not go to work for months.”

Earlier, he used to work in a company that makes the fishing nets. “ I used to draw a salary of Rs 12,000. Because of my illness, I was asked to leave. I am struggling hard to earn my bread and butter. I have a wife and two kids to look after. My wife could not go to work as our first born could not walk and the second child is too small to leave her alone.”

Jhansi is now a gatekeeper at Kaavalkinar. The shift is from 6 am to 2 pm and 2 pm to 10 am. “If I get a second shift, my husband would accompany me”. Asked, if she is still afraid to go to work, she said: “Yes, But I have to work.”

I do not have their photographs hence, I have cropped the pictures from the article which I have written in the newspaper. I could not go to their place and meet them. They were living in the neighbouring state. Some of the places in Tamilnadu comes under Southern Railway which also consists of some of the districts in Kerala.

If I had gone there, my article would have been different which might have benefitted them. Sometimes, journalism especially, when you are under working under any organisation, the deadlines tie your hands and you become mechanical. That's why I decided to unfetter myself from those chains.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

This is BHANGARH FORT in Rajasthan and it is HAUNTED.






This is BHANGARH FORT in Rajasthan and it is HAUNTED.

Bhangarh Fort was in the news, a few months back, when Gourav Tiwari, a “Paranormal “Investigator died under mysterious circumstances in his bathroom on July 17, 2016.
He had spent a night in the fort with his team and came up with the observation that it was not haunted. Some say he had visited 6000 haunted places, (Bhangarh Fort being one among them) and the dark energies from them led to his death.


Did he die because he visited this place? His wife rushed to the bathroom when she heard some noises. But he was already dead with black wounds on his neck. ( Source: Daily Bhaskar )
Because of the strange and mysterious happenings (not Tiwari's death but the happenings which have already happened and happening), the Archaeological Survey of India has banned visitors from entering the fort before sunrise and after sunset. Built in 1613, this small city is now known as ‘ Bhoot Bangla’ – the House of Ghosts.

Princess Ratnavati
There were two myths behind this haunted fort. A Satanist (black magician) called Sindhiya fell in love with Ratnavati, the beautiful princess of the fort. With the intention to lure her, he cast black magic on the oil she was about to apply on her head. But she realised it and poured it over on the ground. From there, a large rock was formed and towards him, crushing him to death.

But before his last breath, he cursed the fort that there would be rebirth and the city will be destroyed. This curse became reality when the princess and 10,000 inhabitants were killed in a war between Bhangarh and Ajabgarh.

The other story is: The place where the fort stands now was a Samadhi spot of a Sadhu called Guru Balu Nath. When he gave the permission to King Madho Singh to build a fort nearby, he had just one condition that its shadow should not fall on his Samadhi spot. If not, the city will be ruined to death.
But as the fort progressed, the king forgot his promise and the city was doomed. And still too. Whenever a house is built near this fort, it’s roof collapses. Only the temples around the fort remained intact.

Sounds interesting. But when you read about this fort, there were many who visited the spot says there’s nothing paranormal about him. Some of the visitors who visited the place say they found some beer bottles inside.

I love to visit historical places. When I read about it, one part of my mind really wanted to visit it and the other is giving me a ‘No ‘ sign.

pic courtesy: HelloTravel.com, beautiful-jaipur.com

Is it the same reason as yours that he did not get married?


Woman A has resigned

The conversation between Woman A and Woman B - ( They are not close friends just colleagues )

Woman B ( 26-year-old ): So, what are your future plans?

Woman A ( 37-year-old ): As of now, nothing. Let me take a break

Woman B:           Any plans of settling down?

Woman A:          Of course

Woman B:         Did you tell your parents?

Woman A ( a bit reluctant to answer every question): hmm....I should

Woman B:                Have you not told them, yet?

Woman A:                hmm...I need a break ( not want to answer further )

Woman B:               How older is he to you?

Woman A ( counts and says ): 10

Woman B:              So!! Why didn't he marry?

Woman A ( irked by the Woman B's audacity) says: There are certain things which I don't want to speak.

Woman B: I just want to know ...Is it the same reason as yours that he did not get married?

( 'Damn! I never knew there existed a specific reason that I should not get married all these years' thought Woman A )

Woman A:                  There are certain things which I don't want to speak.

Woman B:                 You just say ' Yes' or 'No'

Woman A:                 I can't say either ' Yes' or ' No'

Woman B:                 Don't delay. It's tough to have babies once you cross a specific age.

( PS: Woman B is 26 years old and she got married at the age 24. For the past three years, they have been trying for a baby )




Thursday, June 8, 2017

What do you call when a woman does that?


Yesterday, I was watching an interview called ' Koel on the Couch'. Koel Puri has interviewed many celebrities inside and outside the country ( India )on her couch and this was an interview with Tabu
( an actor from India of international acclaim).

One of her questions was about Tabu's relationship with Nagarjuna, another renowned actor in the Indian film industry. The actress who always valued her privacy answered it in a genteel way that they are friends and a strong bond exists between them and unfortunately, media has blown it out of proportion. ( I believe someone's personal life should not be of anyone's concern)

Pat came the interviewer's next question " Just that. You never had any physical contact with him."

She was dumbfounded for a second but said: " I am still connected to that family and do you think I would be a part of it if I had ."

We blame men a lot for anything and everything. But this question is asked by a woman.

Unfortunately, I have seen many women unabashedly asking this question and trying to pry into other women's lives rudely without caring others' emotions and privacy.

If men do that we can call them Perverts and laments that it's all because of Patriarchy.

What do you call when a woman does that?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Indeed a LESSON

Someone whispered in my ear yesterday " WHEN YOU LOSE, DON'T LOSE THE LESSON."

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Poongatru Thirumbuma | Muthal Mariyathai | Tamil Film Song

Absolutely love this song....Don't know your tears starts rolling down my cheeks whenever I listen to this song...



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Did I burn all my energy in planning ?


Sometimes you feel like doing a lot of things.

And if you have attended one of those capacity building conferences, you will definitely decide to plan your each step.

Because the expert who spoke at the conference says: “ the goal will continue to remain distant unless you plan.”

Thoroughly motivated, I decide to plan...

I make daily planner, weekly planner, monthly planner, Annual planner and many other planners on my drive and forget most of the planners barring the basic ones.

I feel as if am almost there.

Then one fine morning, I find myself sitting and blinking at the wall, doing nothing.

After a couple of days, I look at your petrified self and says “ Why don't you just get out of the house and get some fresh air.”

“ Why should I? ” I ask.

Pat comes the reply of my ' self ' “ Because you have burnt all your energy in planning.”