About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Birthday Madras...

Woah, you are 375 years old today..
No No, you are 375 years young today....
Happpy birthday to the only city I call home... 

I knew you back when you were called Madras
I spent quite a few days here 
Holidays, so memorable
Visits to the Marina beach
Playing in the water, digging into vadai and sundal
Ice cream at Snowfield

And then time flew
you changed, but not too much
I still looked forward to my holidays here
Checking out new restaurants.
Biting into that 1st pizza at Cakes n Bakes
Japoise cake and brown bread that granpa used to bring home
from McRennett
Gulping down bottles of Gold Spot, Rush and
Enjoying the pop of the Coke cans
from Burma Bazaar 

And then we moved cities
I was left in your arms for a good 2 months
Did not like it much, 
for I was just a child...
And then a decade later, I was back here
Calling Madras "home". 

Walking through the crowded lanes of Flower Bazaar
Shopping for little trinkets along the narrow alley in Sowcarpet
Laughing with friends while we downed pani puri in Pursaiwalkam
Visiting Mahabalipuram as part of school day trip..
And exploring the Egmore museum with uncle and cousin

You sure have a lot to offer, Madras
The locals and visitors will never tire..

The hot bhajji and tea in the roadside tea shop
Checking out gold bangle designs at GRT in Ranganathan Street
Waiting patiently while mom and gramma did saree shopping at Nalli
Looking forward to catching up with friends at Hot breads after college with friends
You sure have come far!!

Whenever someone new comes to the city
they ask me "so, what is your city all about?"
I stare at them as if they are stupid and then  go on to list...
The plays at Alliance Francaise
Concerts at Venkata subbarao hall in Lady andal school
and then there are all those food festivals at one of the many restaurants in the city
The Mylapore food walks and festival
The Dastkar and Aarti Bagdy shows 
We sure have it all

Today, she is called Chennai, but to me
she is always Madras
the 10 Downing street, the Pasha, the Bikes & Barrel
the Darios, the L'amandier, the Brew room
The murukku chaat, the bonda+chutney and hot jalebis
the kancheepuram saree, the fancy lehengas and swanky jeans
the Fort St George, the Theosophical society, the Art Houz
the Churches, temples, mosque and the beaches
the IT parks, the IIT, and the Vandalur zoo... 
sema supera illa mama?!!

Happy Birthday Madras......... 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Skywatch Friday.. Blue waters in SriLanka

Ah, the memories from the Sri Lankan trip continue to linger on... I was talking to a friend about the fresh sweet Strawberries from Nuwara eliya and so decided to do a post on the place for today's skywatch as well.. 

After being on the road for the better part of the day, visiting K Galle, Kandy and Pinnawala, we had decided to halt at Nuwara Eliya for the night. We drove along the winding road, stopped at the first B & B, bargained for a good rate and tucked into the warm cozy bed. The next morning, we hit the road fairly early and as we drove down, the sun was beginning to rise shimmering in the blue lake. It was a beautiful man made lake that also had a amphibian in it [ one of those planes that flies and glides on water].. The water looked like a million diamonds had spilt.. 

Further down, we stopped at a small roadside shack for a quick breakfast- had the most yumm tasting coconut roti and the lady also told us of a Sita temple nearby which was quite a beautiful one at that.

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ... 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Skywatch Friday.. Along the Galle Fort

We were on our last leg of the Srilankan holiday. We left Unawatuna that morning and drove towards Galle before heading down back to Colombo. Along the way, we decided to take a small detour and visit the Galle fort area. The cab driver also chimed in saying the place had some interesting architecture and quite a few shops as well. We drive inside the Fort entrance and stopped near the Fort wall. My friend and I hopped out and walked along the wall, watching the ocean, with calm waves and a man walking into the ocean to fish. The water was a beautiful emerald colour and seemed quite shallow as well.   

Located in the Bay of Galle along the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, the Fort was built back in 1588 by the Portuguese, but then over time it was fortified by the Dutch  when they ruled the region around the 17th Century. It has been over 423 years and even today the Fort stands tall and majestic. It is now protected by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka.

Within the Fort area we noticed the architecture was quite unique. The buildings were all pristine white and lined up in order neatly. There was also the Dutch Reformed Church and a temple we could see from the fort wall. We spotted a Roti stall and went over to check it out. Attached to it was a bed and breakfast, the owner who saw us gave us a quick tour of the place. We also picked up a cheese and onion roti from the stall [it was like a parantha and was quite good]  

What was amazing about the place was that quite a few buildings were still owned by the Dutch and the center has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  This very Fort has not only stood the test of time, but also survived the Boxing Day Tsunami.

As we drove around the place doing a full circle, we saw the Lighthouse, Court house and a Hospital. The day seemed to have been an auspicious day for we saw quite a few couples getting ready for marriage or newly married. And then along with them there was always a group of bridesmaids and best men, all dressed in matching outfits and traditional srilankan attire. The bride and groom were decked up, the bride in a white saree with jewellery that hung down her neck like curtain, while the groom in a beautifully embellished jacket studded with stones and what not [shall get the pic from friend and post it here]. 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ... 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sywatch Friday-- Amidst all that Gold- Golden Temple, Amritsar

I woke up dreaming of walking through the long marble tiled floor towards the Golden Temple.  I could almost feel the chill on my feet, and my dupatta sliding off my head to lie in a bunch around my neck.  The sun peeping through the curtains woke me up from this beautiful dream and I went about the morning with a grin on my face. It was our 3rd day in Amritsar and we were going to go back to the The Harmandir Sahib [Golden Temple] for a revisit. We had decided the previous day to do this and so we knew we had a purpose for the day. And within the next 24hours, we would explore as much as possible and bid adieu to Amritsar, heading out to Delhi.

The weather was beautiful, a subtle nip in the air which was just brilliant. Lest you wonder what is wrong with me, let me clarify-”I love cold weather”, colder the better! I keep thinking I should have been born in one of the cold countries instead of here in the sweltering Chennai.  We marched down to the restaurant for the breakfast [which had become a routine] and then headed out around 10 am straight to the temple.

We finally reached the main entrance of the temple and soon became one with the crowd.  The amazing thing was there was no pushing, shoving, screaming, arms flailing around, or people yakking away on mobile phones. There was silence and peace. The water around the path shimmered in the morning sun, and the fish swam about happily.  As the line progressed, we walked in and had a quick Darshan before going around. H and I turned to go upstairs with the other friend R following us. His wife, A and son, Ra were behind us, but they disappeared on the 2nd floor. We reached the roof and looked around but to vain. So, R decided to go downstairs looking for her. H and I waited on the roof for a bit, walking around and finally gave up and made our way downstairs. 

The Shish Mahal (Mirror Room) is located on the second floor. As you walk around you will see the intricate patterns along with numerous mirrors that reflect the light. The topmost floor contains the main dome, along with other miniature domes, and is situated above the Mirror Room.   

We infact spent about half an hour walking up and down looking for R and co, but none in sight. We then called them to discover they were near the exit. Oh well, we followed suit and made our way out. But not before stopping for some prashad. When I held out my right hand, the man giving the cup full of "kara prashad" (a sweet made from wheat, ghee and sugar), resembling our Kesari instructed me to hold out both hands and placed quite a large portion of the prashad. It was Hot, sweet and yummy. From there, I got out to spot the others waiting in the open area. We then strolled around, clicked some pictures and finally exited the place.   

Other important structures of the temple include the Ghanta Ghar (the entrance), the Akal Takht (also known as the timeless throne) and the Central Sikh Museum.

We did walk over to the museum and spent nearly 2 hours exploring the place. There were floor after floor filled with history and art lined up on the walls. Friends’ infact said there was an entire floor dedicated to the Operation Blue but it seemed to have been shut/removed and there was no trace of it now.

As we made our way out, the chants resounded in the air, lingering in our minds long after we left the place!

Ah, I could finally tick off one more item from my Bucket List~!

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ... 

To know more about the Golden Temple, you can visit the below mentioned websites-

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Skywatch Friday- Madurai in all its glory

 Walking through the streets, I reminisced about our life in that town, crossing the road to get to school, the family that lived below in our house and  a whole host of other memories came flooding in. I was dragging my trolley bag and walking towards the Periyar Bus stand to receive my friend who was arriving from Kochi. 

After the initial hugs and smiles, we had breakfast, freshened up at a hotel nearby and made our way to the temple. As the auto rode through the narrow lanes, all I could think of was the last time I was here. It had been a good 4-5 years if not more. And every pillar and every sculpture was etched in memory. I narrated some of the memories with my friend and also told her of the Shiva- Parvathy wedding story that is described along the walls of the temple while we waited in line to get Darshan. We were inside the majestic & renowned Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai. 

Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati (in the avatar of Meenakshi amman). There are 14 majestic Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams for the main deities.  There is also a Nandi sitting in a mandap that has been sculpted from one single stone. Apart from this, there is a hall with pillars where each one plays a different musical note. Unfortunately they have been closed off and public is not allowed to touch it these days. 

Unfortunately that day we had an hour and that went in waiting in lines and getting Darshan. Couldn't really wander through the entire temple campus. But a visit is such a heart warming thing, especially in a town that holds fond memories.. 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ... 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sri Lanka- The Turtle Sanctuary

As we left for Galle, our cabbie told us there was a Turtle sanctuary enroute which is a nice place to visit. We spotted it a few kilometers ahead, and he pulled over. After 4 days in Srilanka, we knew what to expect. I hopped out and went inside to enquire what their entry charges were. A man who looked like he was in charge, came forward greeted me and said it was 500LKR per person. I went back and relayed this information to my friend, we spent a few minutes deliberating on whether to go inside or give it a miss. In the end, I kinda convinced her that we should [esp since who knew when we would get to visit such places]. And boy, were we glad to have gone ahead with it.

The man, Victor who owned the place spoke fondly about the turtles there. He has been running the place for a few years and was hoping his son/daughter would take over when they grew up. But alas, God had other plans. He lost his entire family in the 2004 Tsunami but said this sanctuary was his only pillar of strength and so he has continued his good deed. He and his team rescue turtle eggs from the shoreline regularly and they are kept in a big sand pit to incubate. There were boards with the various Turtle variety’s name on it.
Alongside the pit were big pools where we saw different kind of turtles swimming along. 

There was the Leatherhead Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Green Turtle and Hawksbill Turtle .

One of the tanks had babies, some as tiny as a 1Re coin and others slightly bigger. Each pool had a board with information about the variety, and where they are normally found. In the 2nd tank were few giant turtles and after a brief introduction to them, we were told we could hold the turtle. Gasp!! There was another group of 3 near us [they had come from Holland], one of the guys went ahead and carried the big guy. It looked heavy, but I was so excited I knew I was not going to miss this opportunity. The turtle weighed a good 15kilos. That is as much as my Floppy weighs and he is easy to carry as he flops, but the turtle has a hard shell and there was the fear of it slipping out of my hands. But what fun it was to hold the guy, even if only for a few minutes. My friend came forth and the Man in charge commented “please don’t drop it”. I had to hold the big guy ‘cos I knew she would not be able to manage on her own.

We then moved on to see the other varieties and there was a pool with one giant turtle, and it was injured, did not have a front leg. But he swam to and fro in that little pool non stop. The babies were adorable; we lifted them gently and put them back in seconds. Once they were back in the water, they tucked their hands and legs and lay still. Apparently that is their way of playing dead and making sure they weren’t picked up again.

Sand pit where eggs are being incubated

Subsequently, we made a small donation, just our way of encouraging the good deed that the man was doing. 

Address: The Sea Turtle Farm "Silver Green", Habaraduwa, SRI LANKA. 
Telephone: 0094 777 836 115

Teej Festival in Jaipur

It is nearly monsoon up north and that is what brought on this post. 

It was Aug 2013 and I was doing some reading about the places to visit in Jaipur when I stumbled upon a bit of information. It actually had me all excited and within minutes I shared the same with the friend who was travelling with me. The day we were landing in Jaipur was when Teej festival began. This is a festival that was celebrated across two days and was known to be grand and vibrant. The internet told me there would be music, procession, dancing, and the Goddess Parvathi would be brought in a palanquin. 

The Teej festival happens as the monsoon begins in Rajasthan.  Dedicated to Goddess Parvati, this festival is all about reuniting her with her husband Lord Shiva. An elaborate process began near the palace grounds inside one of the lanes along the Hawa Mahal area. We were told it begins at 5 and to find a place to sit/stand to view the procession. Friend and I spent about an hour inside the campus where all were getting ready. There was one elephant standing there all decked up, with lions and deer painted around its eyes and legs. It looked very cute. And out of nowhere another herd of elephants marched in, much to my dismay. The mahoots got busy throwing a sheet and then few other adornments over these gentle giants. Alongside came a few camels and horses as well. In another corner I noticed there were a group of women dressed in finery in black colour, and a few men with music instruments in their hands. 

 After spending some time watching, clicking and talking to the people around here, we finally made our way to the main road in search of a vantage point to view the procession in. We saw a few sitting on top, and asked the cop how to get there. He deliberated for a few minutes and then guided us up the steps. There were a row of chairs filled with Foreign tourists an their guides. We grabbed two seats and got comfortable waiting for the festivities to begin. Every now and then there would be a sudden bout of drizzles. 

Within an hour, we spotted the Elephants coming out from the gates. They looked grand and beautiful. Following them came the dancers, there were few other performers, groups of men carrying a tall pole with a decorative piece atop balanced on one hand. Then finally came the palanquin holding the Goddess Parvathy. It had a beautiful red canopy and was pulled by a few men dressed in finery. Some looked up at us and posed for photographs, while others went along... 

During this festival, married women all around pray to Lord Shiva and Parvathi blessing them for a long life together.  It is said that the Goddess Parvathi has been away from her husband for a long time and is finally going back. Any wish/prayer made on this day is known to come true! 

The sweet stories along the lanes were filled with their traditional sweet Ghevar [made with oil & flour where the batter is poured through a hole in bottle cap and then sugar syrup is poured over it]. Clothe stores were showing off the beautiful lahariya sarees [ multi coloured with wave prints] and women all around were dressed in bright colours with bangles and mehndi on their hands.  

The evening ended only after the palanquin turned around the corner down the road. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Skywatch Friday- Humannya- Blow Hole, Sri lanka

As we were driving along towards Matara, our driver announced there was a Blow Hole nearby and asked if we wanted to visit. Ofcourse we did!! We nodded our heads till it was ready to fall off our shoulders. He then drove into a narrow lane and puled into a parking lot. Now this amazing thing about Sri Lanka is that in most tourist places, the parking lots are manned by locals. There were old women standing around every corner inviting us to park in their spot. Maybe that is how they earned their living.. Here, we pulled into a lot near a small shop of sorts. We paid the parking fee to the lady [about 100LKR] and made our way down the narrow lane around bends and corners. And then came a sudden flight of steps, basically rocks put together to form steps. We climbed up about 20 of these, came to a landing and then up another 40-50 steps. And then when we stopped to check the place out, we caught the beautiful shimmering ocean beneath. 

There is a small center of sorts with pictures and posters describing the Blow hole and different sea animals around the place with seats meant for school kids[ a visitor information place]. This is also were we bought our tickets [500LKR for the 2 of us] and then went on to find the way to the Blow hole. There were a bunch of rock steps leading up into the trees and beyond. I noticed a couple come down from there and wondered how far the spot really was. And then there were few steps down to the ocean, which was just too inviting to resist. 

My friend and the cab driver went ahead and I caught up with them slowly. I dont have a few of heights, but the rounded rocks were a challenge... I finally reached the top and saw nothing but open space. There was the ocean below, and then I noticed a path of sorts had been made by the high ocean waves. There was railing all around and we positioned ourselves right in front, near the guy who worked there. Ajith has been working at the Blow Hole site for 7yrs now and he says he loves it. He is all about "wait 2 mins madam, it will come, so many big ones in morning.. low tide.. one more.. one more..." kinda guy!! We stood there for nearly an hour, watching the little squirts and a few big ones pop through the cliff . It sure was a sight to behold... 

The Kudawella Blow Hole or Humannya is a rare geological formation of nature. Situated at the southern coastal village of Kudawella, it is the only Blow hole in the entire Asian subcontinent and the 2nd largest in the entire world. The Kudawella village name literally translates to "small beach", it took quite a hit in the 2004 Tsunami  and is in near ruins today. 

The blowhole itself is a natural crack in the rocks, and when the wind blows in the right direction the water shoots up the cliff and into the air The water shoots up above the cliffs during the monsoon seasons [Ajith told us it rises over 30-40 meters]. Infact, the place Humannya [Hoo-mannya] derives its name courtesy the  wooshing sound of the water as it comes up the cliffs.  

We got down half way, went over to the Emerald ocean, spending a few minutes standing amidst the rounded rocks, collecting shells and then made our way back to the car. We felt like we had traveled to the moon and back!

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ...