Jul 14, 2011

A Prayer for Peace

My heart goes out to all Mumbaikars shaken by yet another dastardly terrorist act. I hope God gives them the strength to go ahead with their lives normally once again...

Jul 10, 2011

Must see movie!!! Review: Salt n' Pepper (Malayalam)

Malayali cinema fans, rejoice! The terrific trend that started off with Pranchiyettan and the Saint last year continues! I am still savoring the delectable treat after hours of watching Salt n Pepper. One thing is sure, I'll surely be watching this movie again and again! 

The story in short: Kalidasan (Lal), an archaeologist and Maya (Swetha), a dubbing artiste are both working in our capital city and get accidentally connected over food. How they come to do it and what happens later is the simple theme. Food is as much a character in the movie as anyone else - enhancing the emotions, serving as background, connections, memories, even providing the perfect disguise for love sometimes. I fear I would be giving away too much of the movie if I were to go into a detailed description of the roles food plays. In this revolutionary year, we've seen many actors finally breaking out into new areas - look out for Baburaj in the movie! Lal doesn't just play the role with consummate ease - he IS the insecure and lonely Kalidasan. Swetha drops her sex symbol swagger and adopts the slouch of a forty something who is totally blind to her own allure proving that she's an adept in body language. No one gets lost in the movie - each character - from the silent, Mooppan, the beauty parlor owner played by Kalpana, and even KT Mirash (no, I won't explain more, you have to see the movie!)

In short, Salt n' Pepper follows the traditions of good foodie movies - e.g.  Cheeni Kum and Julie and Julia in that they all blend food and a good story into a glorious smoothie that goes down well with the audience. It's fun and frolic for 20 somethings, and will bring a lot of nostalgia and empathy to the 30 and much-more-things, I'm sure. There are more layers to it than the French chef Joan's Rainbow Cake. The characters are so much like us - the heroines have chipped nail polish, the heroes have undyed beards and they cannot stomach food in times of turmoil like any other human being. Some dialogs stay in the mind even though I was not taking notes: Meenakshi (on seeing Maya snap at the landlady's kid): "You come away with me - she must have dubbed a family scene today." Meenakshi (about Maya): "Doesn't she resemble a former Miss India?"  ((I hope you remember that Swetha came third behind Sushmita and Aishwarya in the 1994 edition))

Salt n' Pepper seems to be getting a lot of publicity since I had trouble getting a ticket for the noon show on a sleepy Sunday in the city. And a lot more were queued up outside in the unseasonably hot afternoon for the matinee. Why it is being screened in the minuscule Sree Visakh when 3 Kings is playing to virtually empty stands in the bigger hall is completely beyond me. Do give yourself a yummy treat and get double helpings of the movie. I know I'm going to!

And if Salt n Pepper is the flavor of Malayalam filmdom now, gimme more!!!!

Jul 8, 2011

Of gold and treasure

One of my friends commented on my last post that the cushions looked "ethnic". I was wondering about the reason for the comment when I saw that the cushions looked all golden in color. I had to go and check to make sure that they were not all golden like they looked. In fact, a close up of the fabric might be of help here: 

That is the wonderful texture that I fell in love with. Hmm.. but it does irk me a little bit that it looks golden from a distance - which is because I am not an admirer of gold except in very teeny tiny amounts...

Speaking of gold, the current favorite hot topic of Malayalis everywhere is Sree Padmanabha's treasure trove. For some it is a matter of immense pride - they speak of the hoard as though it was dug up from their own backyard. For some it is a matter of social injustice - to have so much wealth lying inert when it can be used to help the poor/ improve infrastructure/ enrich more Swiss banks, etc. Somehow, when I see people discussing the contents of the strongholds, they look to me like the panda in the current "Gems Surprises" ad - you know, the one in which the panda is sitting among all the tiny Ben Ten action figures and drooling up a whole puddle!! (Beg your pardon - having two kids means that I see Cartoon Network most of the time!). Some people consider the Travancore royalty foolish to have not secreted away all this wealth when they had been able to. The temple is seeing more people coming in for darshan than usual in the past two weeks! Why? Do they think that they will catch a glimpse of the riches? Or do they feel that some of that newly discovered prosperity will rub off on them?

My own feelings are mixed up. On the one hand, there is the regret of having the last legend proven true. I have been hearing for years that the secret compartments contained "enough wealth to buy up the whole of Kerala". Now that the mystery is no more, I am saddened in the passing. No, I don't salivate over the gold, because as I mentioned earlier, I am immune to its charms unlike most Malayalis . But that does not prevent me from being concerned about the security of the hoard of gold. I keep thinking of "Ocean's Eleven" type operations (I can see Clooney, Pitt and the others studying the detailed map of the temple layout that was given in the Metro Manorama) and wish there were really Geminio and Flagrante curses like the ones used in Gringotts to deter potential thieves. And I also cannot help wondering about the origin of all this wealth - about how most royal possessions were the fruit of wars and coercion rather than homage and taxes paid willingly. Have they been sanctified by their centuries-long incarceration under the temple floors where devotees have walked chanting the Lord's name over them? Even the "Thrippadi Daanam" and the anointing of Lord Sree Padmanabha as the real sovereign of Travancore is seen by a lot of people to have been an expiation. They say that the king was so guilt-ridden for having killed many of his family and ruined all the leading noble families and was scared of what torture afterlife held for him that he transferred all the responsibility to Lord Sree Padmanabha.

As for displaying the treasure in a museum - any one who has once seen the dusty and discolored exhibits in the Kuthira Maliga palace museum adjoining the temple will surely agree that it is not feasible and should not be attempted. Let it remain where it is. But before any of it vanishes, I hope the Supreme Court will permit good photographs of the artefacts to be taken and published. In spite of my aversion to the yellow metal, a coffee table book with gorgeous pictures of the treasure is always welcome!

Jul 5, 2011

Another project over!

I had been looking askance at our sofa cushions since we moved back here. They were a horrible, office-chair blue, pilling all over, stained  and even torn in a few places where the kiddos had been rough on them. When I told my DH about setting my hand to sewing new ones, he VERY KINDLY reminded me that one of our rooms was still missing curtains - a project that I had started a year ago! Hmm... so I promised him that I would get them done, and we went shopping for material on the 25th of June (timelines are very important here!). I chose a beautiful russet fabric with raised design that looked tough enough to last through two boys' childhoods (being very optimistic has always been a failing of mine) and then I went a step ahead and chose a contrast fabric for covering some non-existent cushions - which had my DH totally puzzled. The first thing I did on the 26th was to sit at home and sew curtains for the last room in the house - this is the result

With that out of the way, I started on the sofas. My plan was to stitch slipcovers that covered the whole of our cane furniture to save them from further damage - for two days I measured, cut, stitched, picked the stitches and basted to get this - 
It felt all along as though the material itself was fighting me and refused to be a slip cover. I grew discouraged and lost sleep trying to figure out a way to make the whole look good. On the second night, it hit me! I could either make clumsy and slipshod slipcovers or I could make good fitting covers for just the cushions. Once I made the decision, within two days, everything came together. On the third day, I cut up two cotton stuffed pillows, sewed up the ragged edges by hand and covered them with fabric to make these...

I just fell in love with that fabric when I saw it. I would've covered the sofas with it had not DH asked me to imagine what it would look like after our kiddos got at it. Sigh... so I had to make do with it on just the cushions. So here is our newly covered sofa set...

I rewarded myself for finishing a project so quickly by stretching out on the newly covered sofa to watch the season finale of Castle on July 1. Not bad for a queen of procrastination, huh? The kids look happy with it too...

I used up two spools of thread! That's how much sewing I did! And look at my poor pins that were twisted out of shape trying to hold on to the heavy fabric!

By the way, has any one come across the tip that advises you to sharpen your dressmaking shears by cutting up sandpaper with it? It's total bosh, as I discovered last week :-( Fortunately I had a standby pair on hand!

Jul 4, 2011

Special Day!

He can recite all 20 of Ben Ten alien avatars in the order they appear in the title song.
He thinks nothing of pouring away a month's worth of coconut oil.
He sometimes keeps me company till 11 at night to watch Castle, which he calls "Cassoo".
He cannot fall asleep without clutching somebody unless he's in a moving car.
He pulls up my plants and flowers while I am weeding.
He loves experimenting with toys almost to the extent of the evil boy in Toy Story 1 - fortunately he doesn't put them back together in macabre combos.
He will give you kisses as long as you can convince him that he CAN'T kiss you.
He can out-glare you when you try disciplining him, but will break down and cry if you show an iota of sympathy.
He will sit at your side and soothe away any hurt saying "It's okay".
He has all of a younger brother's cunning and will scream to have his way with his elder brother.
His younger cousins can hurt him all they want, but he won't retaliate and will defend them if they are scolded for hurting him.
He has this way of tilting his head and winking with a cutie pie smile that can disarm you right in the middle of a tirade.
He holds our hearts in these little hands.

He turned three yesterday. Our younger son, Nidhin, our Anikkuttan

Jul 1, 2011

Have elderly parents in your care?

It's been an exhausting two weeks and I miss my blogging world. My mother took a misstep three weeks ago and fell on her left side. By the next day, her left lower leg was swollen and although I recommended an x-ray, she and my father brushed it off saying that it was a bruise that would go away with regular applications of the ubiquitous panacea - the kuzhambu. I should have pressed harder - but it is difficult to argue with people who have been the ones who always knew better. So I kept quiet until the next week my mom took an outing and then had unbearable pain, which she told me about only two days later. I pushed her harder and then she relented and went to a local clinic. But the GP there took her word for the injury and my parents did not push the x-ray question. The result? She hobbled on that bandaged leg for two more days till it started bleeding one night and we had to call the ambulance to take her to the hospital at midnight. The first thing they did at the hospital was to get an x-ray which showed two hairline fractures that will need a surgical operation to fix. 

So if you have elderly parents who you care for, please don't let them minimise their illnesses, but get them prompt medical attention. It will save a lot of pain and inconvenience. Falls are very dangerous in old age, especially for women who might have osteoporosis. There has never been another occasion in my life in which I have felt so bad at having been right all along. If only I had been a bit more persistent in arguing my point...

Spring/Summer Projects

Gosh, isn't it baking hot in God's Own Country these days! In accordance with the government's guidelines, we seldom venture o...