Sunday, May 15, 2011

My blog (hi)story

My 100 th post. (Discounting my 53 cookery posts and 72 photo posts of my children’s artwork)

Looking back at my blog history:

I had been blog hopping and reading many blogs since 2005 especially chinmayee's(singer), though I was eager to have one, I had no clue what to write about . One fine day in late 2007, I clicked the sign in.

After signing in, I decided to record about the various traditions and cultures we follow. Hailing from a semi-orthodox family and married into one, there were times when I rebelled and argued against all these practices with my atthai ( father’s sister), my mom, my patti(grand ma) and then my mil. Today many years later, I find myself practicing (though I tweak some of those traditions to my convenience) them even when no elder imposes them on me.

Ofcourse, many a times they have taken pains to explain to me the reason for all those practices, for eg. The concept of ‘echil’(contact with saliva like in sipping) and pathu(segregating cooked food from uncooked food).If interested to know about it read here. The explanations, I felt were valid and the curiosity to know more led me to read books based on these topics. As I started reading them in books like Voice of God,frozen thoughts,follow the hindu moon etc., our native wisdom truly amazed me. We certainly have a treasure of ageless traditions and culture which are woven around our lifestyles keeping our health in mind, though some of them were pertinent to olden times like the concept of ‘echil ‘and ‘pathu’.

It’s time to unearth them and share with the future gen, else the smart foreigners will get hold of them like the Koh-i-noor and peacock throne. They will even start patenting like the Basmati rice and then market it back to us.

Well, coming back to my blog - The whole of 2008, I used all my comp and free time in editing an inhouse magazine and so shared many thoughts there. Only in mid 2009, did I take to blogging seriously.

Most of them you would find are my travelogues, my sweet childhood memories, about my children, posts on culture, traditions and slowly it started drifting into mundane activities which affected me. Now wherever I go, or whatever I do the blogger in me surfaces and a train of thoughts run through my mind.

All these posts have now reached 100. (YAY !!!)

I have not disclosed my blogs to many people yet and so not many around(except 15 of which 8 are family) know that I blog. I like it this way, atleast for now.

I like to interact with unknown people like you who have now become my blogffriends,. The comments that you people leave on my posts really makes me happy, these are my little sachets of joy, just like the daily mails on my mail box .

I feel happy when I get a mail. If not from friends or relatives atleast I get the various news letters I have subscribed too like the free That’s why I was worried when blogger had some technical problems and I could not sign in to my account. I thought my labour of love would go ‘Indiainfo’ way.

A few months back, to be precise on aug 30th 2010 morning, after almost chatting on mails with my grand father’s cousin in the US. I came back to my seat to reply to him and found his mail was’nt there. I thought he must have gone away without replying. Through out the day I did not get any mails , the next day too. was wondering why nobody has sent mails, not even the newsletters.

Surprisingly I found a week later on sep 7th, the indiainfo website had not updated news since aug 30th. It was after 2-3 days around 10th, I received a phone from my cousin telling me that my mails were bouncing, I realized that ‘Indiainfo’ was not working. Numerous mails from me to their customer care went unanswered. That mail id was created some 14 years back and that id of mine did not have any special characters, only my name and surname. I held that id special and was very comfortable and active on that a/c than on gmail or yahoo a/c.

Later I reluctantly switched over to my gmail id with which I was initially uncomfortable.

When blogger had service problems a few days back, instantly these thoughts crossed my mind and I was worried that my blog would not function any more and I would have to crossover to Wordpress.(I started an account there in 2010 but am not active and comfortable there).

My blog is the cocoon of warmth I have created for myself with very less rants, lots of memories that I hold close to my heart and some information which perhaps may serve as a ready reckoner for my children later in their life wherever they are.

This blog world has been my window to the world … …no… not a window… a wide door….

I hope blogsville @ google’s blogger survives and I get to interact with you all for a long time.

P.S: Will be away on a short vacation of 20 days. Will come back and read your posts.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Budding chefs then, Gourmet Gurus now

Both my children have varying degrees of pickiness when it comes to food, if one wants sandwich with mint chutney the other wants mayonnaise. If one likes rasam the other will eat sambar. If it's horlicks for one, the other wants complan. Sometimes it gets tiring to bring them to the table.

That’s when a few summers back I decided to introduce them to make their own food. It kept them engaged, introduced them to ingredients , helped them to unleash their creativity and making their own food gives them a sense of accomplishment. They needed a lot of help in the beginning but now the budding chefs have turned into master chefs and gourmet gurus. They give me cooking tips now. (like add a dash of sugar when you add tomato puree to reduce the acidity and soak basmati for one hour etc).

It began with the assembling of their favorite food. They started with the sandwiches and lemonades. Then I used to have the patties and veggies chopped and ready all they had to was slice the buns lay the cheese slice, fill in the veggies and squeeze the sauces of their choice. Then came the burgers, pizzas and simple desserts like custard, trifle pudding and then it was bake time with black forest cakes and carrot cakes.

Now they have become more creative and just dish out anything with available ingredients. They bake, cook and twist the original recipes to suit their taste or manage to get the ingredients from Nilgiris(supermarket) below.
That’s not all the final product is dressed and presented well.

A few months back my luxurious siesta was broken by the aroma from the kitchen, startled I walked into the kitchen to find my daughter grilling bell pepper and my son kneading dough for nachos.

They had been pestering me to make nachos and salsa sauce @ home, although I had the ingredients, I had been stalling for some time. They decided to make it on their own and how?
They googled and found the recipe and went into action.
The end product was presented artistically. A layer of microwaved nachos was spread on a plate, layered with salsa sauce, dressed with cheese and baked again and it truly tasted yummy especially more when it’s done by the kids.

Now it’s vacation time my fussy growing children are at home and they want to eat 'SOMETHING DIFFERENT', no not the regular staple diet of rice, rasam, idli, dosa and roti. ‘‘engalukku saapadu vendam, vera edhavudu differenta, naangalay pannikrom, neengalum kashta pada vendam”, ( no, we don’t want rice/roti, something different. Can we make on our own,? We don’t want to trouble you also).

I permitted them but conditionally. I struck a deal with them that they have to have their regular dose of staple and veggies for brunch . They can use microwave but when they switch on the gas, they have to call me.

When they are hungry they go to kitchen and make their own food. Now it has become a favorite pastime for them to dish out new dishes.

The various cookery shows like Nigella Lawson(TLC), Vicky Ratnani’s gourmet central and ‘Do it sweet’, Aditya Bal’s ‘Chak Le India’ and ‘ game nite bites’(NDTV good times), Podhigai’s ‘ theneer neram’( tamil channel), star vijay’s ‘ samaiyal samaiyal’ and the various see through kitchens they have been exposed to during their outings - are all adding fuel to their imagination. They are getting more creative day by day. As they go about their work, they also give a commentary like in TV shows.

No, they hav’nt gorgotten the old world dishes too. They are learning them by lending a helping hand to their grandmom while she makes kai suttu murukku, thattai, sevai , thavala vadai etc.,

The only hitch is when it comes to cleaning and the little fights they have. The elder one is very meticulous and does the clean up after work, while the younger one cites cleaning as child labour and escapes. Sometimes the younger one disagrees with the elder one on some score and ditches her in the effort finally leaving the elder one to do on her own.

With the summer sun scorching, I’m relaxing this summer with the lemonades , mango shakes, trifle puddings, cakes and au gratins and another outcome is that the fussy eaters eat whatever they dish out with relish. It reminds me of the kurkure advt ‘Tedha hai par mera hai’.

Did’nt some wise man say -
‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’

Some clicks of their creations:

Trifle pudding

Mexican Fajitas

Eggless Black Forest cake



Home made chocolate in the final stage

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's in a name?

I was filling the UID- Aadhar application when I was stuck at one point which asked for my husband’s name. Now this is a confusion even my husband encounters every time he has to fill his name in a form.

Like most other communities we Tam- brahms don’ t use our caste name behind our names. So no surname like dubey’s /Sharma/rao/bhat/hegde/iyer. My grandfather’s generation did use it. But with my father’s and my generation it's generally prefixed or suffixed with the initial letter of father’s name like in K. Srikanth.( may be because of the anti- Brahmin attitude of the Dravidian movement , they did not want their children to be identified with their surname and singled out)

Long ago before the age of computers, when names where not expanded it did not matter whether we suffixed the initials or prefixed like in V. Anand or Anand, V. ( taking the example of chess player).

But today, all the documents like passport, pan card, bank account ask for the expansion and that is where the confusion occurs like now is he Viswanathan anand ?or Anand( his name) Vishwanathan ( father’s name)? and in the first case his wife will be referred formally as Mrs. Anand and in the second case she will be referred to as Mrs. Vishwanathan.

The confusion starts here - when there are names like first name, middle name, surname, family name columns to be filled.

Take the instance of the name – H. Balaji.

According to the computer records the first name will be the expansion of 'H' say Hariharan and the middlename becomes Balaji and not wanting to leave the surname blank you fill it with Iyer or sarma. Now the simple Balaji becomes Harihara Balaji Iyer. You are lucky if you have that many boxes or your name will be truncated to Harihara Bala giving you a new name.

Similarly,it is more confusing when you have regional names like Kani mozhi, kayal Vizhi( i like the sound of these names) etc., where the sound ‘zh’ is unique to tamil and malayalam and can only be pronounced by tamils and malayalees. The ‘zh’ conveniently becomes ‘l’ like the language ‘Thamizh’ becomes ‘Tamil’. If there is a change in your name or spelling between your passport,pancard, bank statement or your school/college certificates you are stranded for hours to show a verification or get it changed through court.

It is worse when you lose your identity in a foreign land when Rajagopal becomes Roger paul, Krishna becomes Krish ,Hariharan becomes harry and what will be the fate of names like Kani mozhi and Kayal vizhi? That i leave it to your imagination.

Like my cousin Venkat in the US says, when he say his name as Venkat the videshis ask him what cut?And when he says Venky, they ask him what key? All this when it is not half as complicated like in an Italian name.

Oh, Who says what’s in a name? There is so much to a name. I’m sure if Shakespeare had been alive he would agree with me.

I'm sure it happens with many other regions too like my bengali friend's husband is supriyo(male name) and he becomes supriya( a girl's name)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Prayer power

Scientific studies shows that prayer has a dramatic influence on our health and well being. An experiment was conducted to see an effect of positive thought like prayer on water on a larger scale like water in a dam (Tokyo dam). Water was collected before and after the prayer and the crystal structure demonstrated the spectacular influence of prayer on water.

From the water crystal studies, scientists proved that water does reflect our thoughts. Vedic wisdom says that everything in this universe is influenced by our thoughts. If our thoughts can influence water in a dam, then think how much our thoughts would influence our body which is more than 73% water. Hence The religious practices of washing hands, feet before entering temple, the holy dips on special occasions, offering prayer standing in the middle of water chest deep in rivers and temple tanks(teppakulam), worshipping with wet clothes , the use of water (in uddharini) in all rituals/pooja and during sandhyavandanam, the daily routine of bathing all these scripture based rituals have terrific influence on our physiology.
Traditionally whenever enlightened people discovered a place with vibrations untouched by man, they initiated a place of worship in that location. The science behind places of worship is to create a space where people can come and inherit the vibrations of that place. When a man stands inside a rose garden long enough, he comes out smelling roses similarly in experiencing a space of high vibrations long enough, you inherit the vibrations of that place.

Sometimes we argue, ‘If god is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, what is the necessity to go to place of worship’.

God may be omnipresent, vibrations untouched by man aren’t. They are concentrated only in a few places like places of worship where scriptures are read and which are built based on special architecture( agama shastras) so that it can absorb cosmic energy and geo-magnetic energy. This energy/vibrations is dissipated to the devotees who visit temple which are absorbed by the acu-points.This triggers the loop of the health-cycle. When positive thoughts abound in our minds we naturally feel happy which is the state of perfect health.

Information compiled from two journals one a spiritual and another based on logical rational awareness.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Water power!

I have always been interested to know about the reasoning of the various Indian practices, customs and rituals that we follow in our Indian culture. Our ancient native wisdom sometimes amazes me and some of us shun these practices thinking that it is irrelevant in today’s age.

But when the current day scientists find out from their experiments and throw their results, we can correlate most of it with these findings and I find them more relevant to today’s times.

Following is the summary of some such scientific reasoning behind our popular practice of using water in our rituals which I read in a journal.

In Indian temples after the chanting of mantras the priest distributes the water called ‘Theertham’ to the devotees. This water seems to carry the sound vibrations of the vedic chanting. The vibrations produced during the chanting of the holy vedic texts and shlokas are carried to the water and this water is supposed to have great influence on the health of the people. The healing effect of sounds like in music has already been scientifically proven. Drinking this water after chanting will be doubly beneficial because the sound vibrations will reach every part of the cell in our body through the water.

Scientists after testing thousands of chemicals found that water is the only substance that could detect the subtle vibrations that reach the earth from stars and planets thousands of miles away. This also proves that ancient people understood the mysterious powers of water and inculcated the practice of bathing in rivers on specific days like amavasya and some special days like in kumbha mela when the water receives vibrations from other planets and galaxies.

The sacred “AUM” was written on a glass of water and the crystalline structure of water is supposed to have changed.

Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto treated water with aromatic oils and he found that the water crystals were similar to the look of the flowers that the aroma oils were made from.

This explains again why in Indian temples, herbs like bilva, basil, neem, darba grass, camphor were added to water and given as theertham to the devotees.

Similarly prayers too have an influence on our body. Will write about it in my next post.