Apr 26, 2012

Drooling over these...

In a rare peaceful half hour at home, I've been just browsing and these caught my eye...

Ahh... what I would not do for a pair or two of sturdy fabric gardening gloves that can withstand the touch-me-nots and rough spade handles.

If any of you have any idea where I can lay my eager paws on a pair or two of these, please lemme know!!!

P.S.: They don't have to be PINK - that's just for a little eye candy!

- A gardener who has had to dispose several torn latex gloves!

Apr 24, 2012

Movie Review: Ordinary

I would like to say that the movie is "Extra"ordinary, but that would be an overstatement. However, I did enjoy the movie very much and after a pretty long time, found a Malayalam movie whose climax I could not predict. (Last week we watched "Masters" and right after the second murder, I guessed the whole theme - after all I AM a big fan of "Castle").

The story in a nutshell: Iravikkuttan Pillai (Kunchacko) gets a job as a KSRTC conductor and is allocated to the sole KSRTC bus that travels up to Gavi at the western end of the Pathanamthitta district. He befriends the gruff driver Suku (Biju Menon). The slightly awkward conductor slowly becomes a heroic figure in the small Gavi community till things turn topsy turvy one fine evening.

The first half is a superb socioeconomic commentary delineating the ailments of the KSRTC, the entrepreneurship of a village damsel called Kalyani (newcomer Sritha), the largeheartedness of the Panchayat President (Lalu Alex) who brings up the orphaned Anna (Anne Augustine) as his own daughter, the Pan-like character of Asif Ali who comes and goes at will, but is helper and odd jobber to everyone including the dam's official staff etc. - reminded me much of Sathyan Anthikad's work. The humor makes it all palatable. Watch out for the characters portrayed by Baburaj (once again!), and Salim Kumar.   

The second half is absorbing and as I said, was totally unpredictable (that just might be me!). But did feel that the explanation was a bit drawn out. 

Minuses: Asif Ali's over-performance, horribly over-made up leading ladies (supposed to be village belles, right?), Biju Menon's dialogue delivery that was a bit too fast to understand (fortunately I had been watching trailers of the movie, so I could explain the funny retorts to my DH) - ok, I'll stop there!

So if this Aanavandi comes your way, be sure to board it. I assure you that it won't break down in the middle! If for nothing else, go for the wonderful visual treat that is Gavi!   

Recent movies watched: Mayamohini: Lighthearted caper, innuendoes all the way, some superb makeup on Dileep - but nothing can disguise his hands!!! Was expecting a rehash of the Chaanthupottu character - but this one's refreshingly different.

Masters: Plot and climax very predictable: yet watchable.

Apr 18, 2012

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I admit it, although these past days have been full of "busyness", I was stumped for a topic to write on... That is when I came upon this idea in one of my blog rambles: Let me proceed with the Simple Woman's Daybook  prompts .

1. Outside my window: A hot summer day is winding down. The sun has finally dipped right to the horizon and the wind is picking up and redistributing the heat waves off the land.

2. I am thinking: that perhaps I should be starting dinner right now - but these prompts have me too excited!!!

3. I am thankful for: all that I touch and see and hear right now. But most of all I thank the fan that is turning overhead and helping me not turn into sweaty mush!

4. From the kitchen: No eatables, but I have my favorite SFO mug right now with the dregs of my evening tea in it. 

5. I am creating: A crocheted mat for our coffee table. At least, the pattern's all written out and the supplies are gathered!!! :-) Also my novel is still progressing.

6. I am going: to the library tomorrow!!! All the Vishu chaos got me remiss on my book extensions (which happens almost never!!!). So I am off to the library tomorrow with a penitently bowed head and fistful of money...

7. I am reading: "Garden Planning" by Robin Williams (not he of the Mrs. Doubtfire fame, rather someone from the Royal Horticultural Society). I have visions of pergolas, water features, lawns and arches dancing across my mind's eye. But I am sticking to some fairly simple topiary, a few flowering and fruit trees and looking seriously into some xerophytic options fit for Kerala to adorn my garden - I have more things to do than LIVE in my garden!!

8. I am hoping: I no longer hope. I believe and I affirm. Ever since I "heard" the Secret, I no longer hope for anything. It's changed a lot in my perspective of life. I no longer read the newspaper which is full of negativity. We visited our village Expo last week and there was a mobile exhibition conducted by the traffic police. I climbed into the vehicle only to find it plastered with horrible scenes of accidents, things I did not want in my consciousness, it so stifled me that I leapt right out of it. And I kept blessing all careful drivers and pictured smooth and safe driving scenes afterwards.

9. I am hearing: Music from the said Expo. Today's the final day and they are giving out prizes for competitions. Incidentally our kiddo no. 1 debuted his first solo singing performance on Monday. He started Carnatic music lessons two months ago after his class teacher said that he was enthusiastic about her music classes and had no problem singing in front of the class. We thanked her many times for the insight - we would never have known otherwise!!!  His music teacher recommended that he should get on as many stages as possible starting with the one at the Village Expo. So he did, and got through the simple song without a waver! I am so glad that he has not inherited my old knocking-knee problem, hurray!!!

10. Around the house: I've been hunting those pesky touch-me-nots again. I bought a tiny trowel (spade?) at the Expo on Monday and have been uprooting the prickly things that seem to have sprouted everywhere after the recent summer showers. Even though it makes me sweat fit to melt, I keep picturing the destruction of the thorny strands in a fiery blaze and being able to walk barefooted in my yard if I feel like it. That helps me go on...

11. One of my favorite things: Right now, it's my fairly new android phone. I used to be the gal who resisted camera phones and phones with mp3 players saying that I needed a phone just to make calls. Not any more! My phone now does everything from waking me up, reminding me to do important things (like book my LPG cylinder this morning :-)) and keeping me in touch with DH throughout the day with Gtalk. It beguiles me with music, audio books and ebooks when I am bored and keeps me up-to-date with my mail even when I'm far away from my computer. Now if I could figure out a way to make a blog entry too...

12. Something new about me: The confidence and happiness that the Secret has given me...

13. One of my guilty pleasures: Well, I don't think I have one. Unless it's an occasional issue of Femina. That magazine is more a bunch of ads than anything else and once I've gone through the pictures, I always wonder why I bought it paying an exorbitant sum to see photoshopped gals touting exorbitantly priced products that would be of no use to me whatsoever. I buy them only when I go on a train journey - I get one from the railway station. Recently, my purchase also made me be of service to a tourist. Her ticket showed "Quilon Jn." while the board outside proclaimed "Kollam Jn." (Why doesn't somebody update the name in the Railways computer system!!!) and she was justifiably confused. I am sure she hit upon the happy expedient of asking me because I had an English magazine open in front of me!!

14. A few plans for the rest of the week: A library trip, some quality time with my sis and niece who are coming for a visit, more touch-me-not hunting and a detailed visit to the Santhigiri Exhibition of which I had a quick preview today.
15. A peek into my day: Instead, I'll give you one into my past week. Our little kiddo and me at my sis-in-law's housewarming ceremony.

Apr 2, 2012

Summer break!!! Busy, busy, busy!!!

Things have been hectic in Karthi these past two weeks: but they are a good hectic as opposed to the previous months' health scares. Mid-march, our elder kiddo was done with his annual exams, but he did not have anyone to play with because all our neighboring kids still had their exams to wrestle with. Fortunately, we did have a teeny trip of two days to Kottayam to attend this:

Yes, my mother-in-law had offered to have two Garudans from our home for the family temple festival and we had a lovely time attending all the various parts of the ceremony. I am really sorry for not having good pictures because our rechargeable batteries chose to give out at the crucial parts and I didn't get any good pics of the performance itself.

But hey, I'm jumping ahead... The day started with a carpenter shaving off spools of mango-tree wood to make the necklace for the Garudan - the ceremony is called "Mampool" (Mavu - mango tree, pool - wood-shavings). You can see the 'pendant' made with the wood shavings in the photo above. Then we busied ourselves with decorating the courtyard with tender coconut leaves slit into long shreds with (of all things) a nail. As I sat making them, I marveled at how eco-friendly, simple and elegant they are as a decoration. We also arranged chairs and desks for the 250 + guests who would be arriving for dinner. 

After 5 pm, we went to the temple for the first ceremony of the day, the Keli kottu that would be performed in front of the deity:

That is my mother-in-law offering the dakshina before the Keli began.

Then the Keli started. It is easy to become inured to these traditional drums while living in Kerala, especially during the festival season, when you can hear their distinctive sound blaring from speakers everywhere. It's quite another matter to listen to a live performance. I decided to give it my whole attention and discovered several things! I noticed that there were only three lead drummers and all the others were there only to provide the basic beat in single or double time and chipped in to really drum only in the last ultra-fast stages. I noticed that as the beat got faster, the drummers put a leg forward and bent at the waist to get at their drums better. They eased off and went back to the bent posture so effortlessly that it looked like a dance.

At the crescendo, I closed my eyes to hear the beat better and I could hear the drums "speak" - they had a human voice going "dhak, dhin, dhak, dhin". I was so astonished that my eyes flew open and I gawked. Our younger son gave himself up to the beat so much that he held out his arms sideways and wheeled around - only later when I saw the Garudans "fly" did I understand that he had been mimicking the dance itself - and this is a 3-year-old who has never watched a Garudan performance in his life!!!

Soon we went home and got the Ganapathi offering ready:

and had yet another rousing round of the Keli at in our car porch:

Then it was time for the Garudan performers to get ready and for us to greet the guests and serve them dinner. After 9 p.m., the Garudans came down and started flying. My batteries gave out during that time and this is the only picture I have of that part.

I know it's not a good picture, but I think the blurriness conveys their incredible speed. It was a joy watching them - both exhibited quite different styles of performance. One was all about footwork; he stepped so blithely to the beat that it was difficult to keep track of his feet with our eyes, let alone a camera. The other was a more acrobatic Garudan, who jumped more, wheeled around and even bent backwards to pick up (with his beak!) the coins and notes that were offered to them on the floor. This went on for 45 minutes till the Garudans and the drums wound down. Then it was time for them to rest and recuperate before going to the temple.

At midnight, our ringing ears underwent another onslaught as the Garudans went around our home, blessing it and then ascended on their "chaadu". They plucked bananas with their beaks and flung them into the crowd and the kids scrambled for this prasadam.

Once we reached the temple, the ceremony was mesmeric with the slow ascension of the drummers and the "birds" to the temple, punctuated with bursts of heat from the sawdust thrown on to flaming torches and confetti streaming down. We went around the temple once and our acrobatic Garudan astounded us even more by jumping on to the low walls and back in his perambulation. My DH muttered that it gave him a backache just to WATCH the performance!!!

The final performance was right in front of the temple where the Garudans mimed catching and disposing of the serpents (in this case, two snippets of a red ixora garland) and it was funny, watching the Garudans cocking their heads and conferring with each other bird fashion on how to catch their prey.  

When it was over, it was almost 2 a.m. in the morning, our kiddos were still wide awake and we were left with tired bodies, but euphoric minds. Our long-anticipated Garudan offering went without a hitch and that was all we had asked for.

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...