Friday, March 25, 2016

Silly things can make one happy! :)

There are some silly momentary things in life that can give us immense pleasure, excitement and a feeling of fun. It does not have to be a vacation to an exotic location or a big achievement in studies or work.

Like yesterday I got a new toothbrush. Just opening the pack and using it for the first time fills me with a childish excitement. What the heck! A toothbrush is a toothbrush....But unwrapping it in its pristine form and using it for the first time is fun, isn't it?The same does apply to taking a new bar of soap and using it for the first time! :D

When I buy a new notebook and start writing on it, it feels good! Its like a symbolic representation of a new start, a fresh beginning with unlimited possibilities. The smell of fresh paper and the way the ink starts making forms and meanings on it is wonderful.

When the tube light becomes old and we replace it with a new one - Switch it on and Whoa! The world is suddenly much more brighter....

When we rearrange some shelf and once we are done with the task - the neat organized appearance definitely lifts our spirits a bit!

When you get something free with something that you buy....It could be a floor cleaner bottle free with a toilet cleaner...free is free for the customer...Those companies know this psychology and they make the best use of it...Buy 2 get 1 free, buy 1 get the other free, buy a tshirt get a cap , buy soap get shampoo, buy biscuits get a pencil..The list goes on ....They make sure to cater to the age group...As kids a miniature figure of a cartoon character or a simple sticker can make our day....Become adults and it needs to be more sensible though!

I remember the scene from a Tamil movie where the college going heroine is excited about a kaleidoscope that her neighboring little boy has. He refuses to show it to her and she goes to a very crowded market to get one for herself. The hero braves the crowd and manages to get her one and she gets super happy on getting it in her hands....

So what silly things make you happy?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Glasses, sunglasses!

I used to wear glasses some time back.Then I decided to sacrifice myself, as a practice specimen,  to the surgical skills of a local ophthalmologist. A LASIK surgery made sure I did not need them anymore. Boy! the first few days after a LASIK surgery is fun. Everything looks a lot brighter than before, and you can suddenly spot things really far away with an eagle vision.

I think I have mentioned it in some of my earlier posts. A few hours after the surgery I had to spend without opening my eyes. I did an imaginary salute to the millions of blind people in this world who carry on with their lives depending on their senses and somehow fight against the odds.

Before that when I used to wear glasses, there were umpteen times I would place the spectacles somewhere in the house and search for them like mad.The amazing clarity in my vision would never remind the preoccupied me, that they were safely perched on the bridge of my nose and were now slightly sliding down towards the tip. Finally when I would look at the mirror casually while searching it would strike me! Eureka!!!

Last week I had been to the local florists. None of the flowers seemed bright and all the colors seemed really dull. That is when I realized that I was still wearing my sunglasses. The dark purple had tinted my entire vision as I was indoors now at the wet market and the dim lighting there did not warrant a pair of sunglasses at all. I removed them and Voila!! The flowers were beautiful.

I could not help getting philosophical. Many a time in life what we see may not be what actually is. We put on sunglasses of a specific perspective and then it becomes difficult to see reality as is. Sometimes we need to take a step back and check if we are wearing sunglasses after all. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ladies Fingers and Gentlemans Toes

A few ideas had been stemming in my mind for my next blog post. Nothing seemed solid or interesting enough. Pondering over this, I was preparing good old vendaikkai a.k.a bhindi last Wednesday. I said to myself or rather to the hexagonal slices of the vegetable I was sauteing in my saucepan " If I am unable to think about anything else, my next post would be about you" . And so here I am , sitting and typing away about the good green vegetable.
By കാക്കര (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I have always remembered the English name for the vegetable as ladies finger. I really cannot imagine my fingers shaped like a bhindi(Alright !Alright!who called you ladylike?? I hear it!!!) but I wonder what prompted anyone to give it that name.  It was during my visit to the US that I discovered that its referred to as okra in those parts.I was amused to find frozen versions of it in the freezers there. In fact ice is the only thing that we would freeze back at home. Who knew that vegetables could be frozen?

There is a technique to be applied, while picking this vegetable, that I learnt from my visits to the market with my parents. You had to hold the pointed end and try to snap it. If it breaks with ease, it is tender and good to go into the basket. If the stalk stubbornly holds on, its not okay. Good old vegetable vendors of the local market were absolutely fine with their customers going snap-snap-snap before deciding which lot to buy. In the neatly weighed and sealed-in-polythene bag versions that we find in today's supermarkets how on earth can we apply this trick?

My paternal uncle believed that bhindi was good at getting the grey cells to work and would request his mother to make vendaikkai poriyal  on the eve of his Maths exams. If Kelloggs or Maggi learn of this secret the next Oats released in the market would be in bhindi flavour.
"Be it Maths or Hindi, have a cup of Bhindi" the jingle would go.

Thinking of these points for this blog post I went through the items in the weekly vegetable bill. "Gentleman's Toe - 500g". My eyes rolled in full circles a couple of times and I set about finding out which vegetable had that name. Ladies may be first but the gentlemen would always compete. Go Google and Eureka, I found out! Thats another name for kovakkai or the ivy guard.I really like that vegetable though some believe that its more useful for cleaning slates and blackboards :D. A friend recently told me that she read somewhere that it has a detrimental effect on ones memory.  I have been eating it for quite some time and there are things I would like to do a Shift-Del in my memory but they stick on with vigor.
By Aravind Sivaraj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Well be it ladies' fingers or gentleman's toes make sure the cook is good. Eat more vegetables. Have a healthy life ladies and gentlemen.




Monday, February 1, 2016

Hearty hypochondria

A few months ago, I developed this strange ache around the chest area. I was not able to exactly place the point of pain and it was a dull throb. It was a nag in reminding its presence throughout, and yet was not disrupting any of my routine.

We belong to the cursed internet generation(Yes,Yes Everything has Pros and Cons, I hear you!). Any small predicament, and we begin to trust that webpage that lists out everything under the sun that can cause a specific ache. Unless it states something obviously stupid, like you have a chest pain because the neighbors dog has diarrhea, you end up believing a lot of the stuff you read.

I do not know if Google spreads knowledge but it definitely spreads hypochondria.

Ignoring the intelligent voice in my head that is screaming "Don't Don't DON'T YOU DARE", I type www.google.com followed by "Chest Pain" and Enter. Along with WebMd, scores of other websites  list out probable causes and solutions. To my dismay, the majority of the content is focused on cardiac ailments.

A heart attack is usually a crushing pain. I try to analyze my version. Is it dull? crushing? pressing? sharp? ....What on earth is the difference between a crushing and sharp pain? This is not crushing. Wait a minute, is that what you call crushing? Naah!!

Women are not supposed to be prone to heart attacks. Phew!   Okay, belonging to the feminine lot does have some advantages!

I decide to take a break and take a look at the nuisance I mean news channels. Some fifty plus woman celebrity breathed her last due to a heart attack. May her soul rest in peace. Heart Attack? Yikes!

Well, I am still in my thirties and so I guess its okay.

Oh yes, my father and grandfather had heart ailments. I am supposed to be genetically at risk right?

Go back to Webmd!

It says, A heart attack cannot last for more than few minutes. The ache is there throughout. Well, I am safe. Is this what Webmd calls Angina? the pain that is serious but not yet a heart attack! Do I have blocks in my aorta? Oh No! What do I do?

Maybe its just a muscle tear. Oh my dear Google, get me information about muscle tear...Open Sesame!!!

I know what you all must be thinking, WHY DIDN'T YOU GO TO A DOCTOR?
From a facebook post, No idea about source!

I eventually did when I came to India for vacation. Turned out it was just a muscle pain due to carrying my baby girl and yes sometimes in the not so right postures.

Well while I was waiting at the clinic, the receptionist started distributing some brochures.

FULL CHECK UP FOR WOMEN! Special New Year Offer, U.P 2010, now only Rs 1980. I think my chest pain had placed a heavy weight on my mathematical abilities. The woman in me jumped with glee. ( Somebody should have told me , Its not a METRO shoe sale idiot!) . My father in law who had accompanied me saw it and exclaimed " Just a 30 rupee difference,this is an offer??!" That is when I realized that 2010 is only Rs 30 more than 1980.

 I got reminded of the umpteen whatsapp forwards, "Spot the hidden leopard and consider yourself a genius!". The human brain tends to miscalculate with these numbers I assume and the psychology department must have come up with the numbers.

By the way my neighbors dog is hale and hearty and did not cause my chest pain!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A cellphone story!

Around three years ago I joined the league of ordinary ladies and gentlemen of this century - the proud owners of a cell phone that is as the name suggests quite smart!  Well, my phone is definitely smart but it has a not-at-all-smart owner whose maintenance and safeguarding of the device is quite close to pathetic.Really close! The difference is tiny, minuscule, imperceptible! Never mind!

I came back to my apartment one day after finishing a few errands. I stepped into the lift and pressed the floor number slightly readjusting the way I was carrying my baby girl. A friend who was supposed to come over pinged me asking for my floor and unit number. I stepped out of the lift face focusing on the cellphone screen as I proceeded to whatsapp her the details.

Flash! I dont know what happened. My daughter who was getting a little hungry snatched the phone? Or I tried to prevent her from pulling it and it flipped out of my hands? Or did I trip over a wheel of the stroller and let go of the phone? Oh yes! I dont know! The cell phone flew out of my hand and fell on the floor of the lift, and, as I stared in horror,into the gap between the lift and its door. Down! Down! All the way to the ground floor. It travelled more than four levels to be precise!

For a quite perceptible time interval I stood there with my mouth wide open with shock and disbelief and the cursing-of-self part followed soon. I rushed to the ground floor. I borrowed a friends phone and dialled my number. One of Ilayaraja's BGMs started playing from somewhere. That was my ring tone! My phone! No doubt!

"You are alive!!" I was flabbergasted. The phone had fallen to the floor of the elevator that needed  hands of expertise to access. The security personnel of my apartment informed me that they would check with the Lift company and get back to me.

Then came the biggest jolt! The company gave me two options. I could wait for two to three days. Whenever they came that way they would retrieve it for me. They could come immediately and do it but that would cost me $50 , no $49.50 .

I pictured my poor phone lying out there in the cold all by itself with its battery life ebbing away to zero. What if water splashed on it? What if it got bitten by rats? Above everything else , having to suffer the handicapped life without a cellphone was unimaginable. I decided to part with my fifty dollars.

In a couple of hours the cellphone was safely in my hands and would you believe it, Not a single scratch on the touch screen. That was one miraculous escape.

A few months later, the same phone was lying harmlessly on the sofa. I took it in my hands and a screen  cracked beyond usable limit stared back at me as I let out a cry of horror. I still have no clue what exactly happened though the primary suspect is my now two year old girl, then around 18 months of age. Well, "If only I had stayed under that lift without making noise" I could almost hear my phone say that.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Onam - Pookkalams Holidays and more

A very happy Onam to one and all.

Having spent the first decade and a couple of more years of my life in Kerala, the word brings on a tumultuous onslaught of memories.

Onam always announced the arrival of the first set of holidays for the academic year with the Quarterly Exams safely behind us in history. Being Tamilians, Onam was not a part of our religious agenda of celebrations. Nevertheless we did pitch in with our neighbours in some of the festivities especially the pookkalam (floral carpet) outside at the entrance. My mother would not compromise on the rice flour kolam she would draw outside 365 days a year. It actually helped as we would have a readymade design that she would have already drawn and we just had to fill it with flowers.

Our house had quite a few trees, but not many floral plants, and hence there was a real dearth of flowers. I remember once walking to my neighbours' houses, requesting permission to pluck flowers. I still remember the delicate expressions their faces carried, knowing not how to politely refuse the request of an overenthusiastic child, as they needed the flowers for their own Onam decorations. My father as always pampered me, buying flowers for me on his way back everyday. Those were definitely better as there were a very colourful eclectic mix.

The last four days of Onam including the main day were state wide holidays. My father, a lover of travelling, wanted to show his wife and children as many places as he could and made good use of the opportunity. Two of my cousins who worked then in Kerala would come home and we would set off somewhere together. Ooty, Kodaikanal, Goa, Mangalore and surrounding places are some that we visited. Oh!! Those were the times!!

The legend I heard of as a child of the king Mahabali visiting his beloved subjects confused me. Mahabali, the ruler was so righteous and great that there was absolutely no bad things happening during his rule. Hence the Gods wanted to end it as there was an imbalance on Earth and approached Mahavishnu who took the Vamana avatar and managed to send the poor king to the underworld. Why are the Gods being so mean to him? He is only being good isnt it?was something that I kept looking for answers.


We once had a Pookkalam competition in the school where every class had to make the floral designs.  After the results were announced, we lined up and headed back to our classes.While 5A stood admiring their work of art and taking pictures around it, we the little hooligans of 5B happily played, kicking the flowers towards each other and damaging the design beyond recognition(We were in a girls only school hi hi) . Our teacher came back to chaos, with flowers strewn all over the place, undone plaits and unruly hair on our heads and absolutely no trace of our creation.  The worst part happened when she was giving us earfuls left and right. I have no idea what triggered it but she was scolding us and I laughed at her face. You can imagine the repercussions that would have carried.

Coincidentally a photograph of this class 5B got posted by someone on Facebook yesterday. God bless the website for bringing about nostalgia all over the world.(To hell with its negative effects)


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sparkly White and Soft??

When I was a little girl my morning routine comprised of a very important activity.
There was a huge washing stone in our backyard near the well.With a paste laden toothbrush in my hands, I would sit on it every morning and sink into the pleasures of daydreaming. I really cannot recollect what would have occupied the mind of a seven through ten year old, but I do remember that it was a deep meditative state, till my mother's soft, loving "Jayashree , are you done with brushing?" slowly evolved into a loud, irate "JAYASHREE, YOU ARE GOING TO BE LATE TO SCHOOL!" The latter used to have just the right ingredients to jerk me back into reality.

Toothpastes were a fascinating buy in the monthly grocery list for us kids, especially with the foray of the television into our peaceful lives. The advertisements roused our curiosity, and we would want to try every new toothpaste on the supermarket shelves. I was fascinated by the way a huge clove transformed into the paste on a gigantic brush, or a laser ring of protection formed around the doctor and his family, not to mention the amazing colourful world of gel toothpastes.

On more than one occasion, after a very blissful afternoon nap, I have groggily headed to the bathroom  for brushing without realizing that the mild rays from the sun were falling on my face from the west and not from the east.

This morning I got aroused pretty early from my sleep and was tossing and turning in my bed.Just yesterday, I read somewhere that you get heavier with age mainly because of the amount of things your head carries.  Nearly a quarter century after those blissful moments on that washing stone, I have enough things on my head that are definitely not as enjoyable as good old daydreaming. Of course, when the problems are really big, you usually would be in action, and would hardly have any time to worry, like the lives of so many we read about in the news. For the rest of us in a 'not so bad' state of life, we worry a lot more than required, but that's how we are wired and lets leave it at that.

Deeply lost in the arachnoid webs of my mind, I decided that it was time to do more harm to my system with my daily intake of caffeine, aka my darling cup of morning coffee.

I headed to the bathroom and got armed to provide twelve hour antibacterial protection to my incissors canines and molars. As I started to brush, a weird smell wafted its way into my nostrils. Whats that? I wondered. My eyes fell on the unfinished laundry I had piled up in a bucket nearby "Any wet clothes in there?" None. My tongue finally decided to get active, and a disgusting-taste-signal ran through my nerves to the concerned corner of my brain, which as per protocol, promptly reacted with a "puke immediately" response. I managed to somehow control the regurgitation, spat out the white foam in my mouth and vigorously rinsed. What on earth was that?

Thats when I read the name CLEARLY "Clean and Clear Face Wash". Hmm, so what I applied on my brush was indeed white in colour instead of my usual green paste. I was not becoming colour blind as I had assumed and thats a blessing, thank heavens for that.

It tastes horrible, trust me and so an important advise I would like to  impart to my fellow human beings

"Never ever leave your face wash close to your brushing set"

Anyways there would be no dark spots on my tongue for the day.

As for the bacteria, I doubt if they would dare to approach my mouth for the next few days.