Jul 30, 2013

Star Sighting... Alas, not by Me!

There is no denying that I'm a starstruck person. I enjoy movies and follow my favorite movie stars' news and all that. But there is some part of me that shrinks from meeting them in person. I could say that I like to keep them as stars and not find that they have feet of clay or pimples on their face. But that would be just lying. It's the sneaking feeling that I will make a prize donkey of myself by blurting out some humongous blunder. For example:

Me: Sir, I really loved your work in Natholi oru Cheriya Meenalla!
Megastar Mammootty: ?!?!!?!?!!?

I have a chronic case of the cringes. I can remember the most trivial of social gaffes I have committed years ago suddenly and cringe and shudder. For example, I met one of DH's former bosses last year- a person who he admires and who I had come to admire a lot too. I couldn't come up with anything better than the meanest, most trivial things to talk about when I finally met the wonderful guy. I still cringe and suppress desperate urges to find the heaviest pan I can find to hit myself over the head with when I remember the incident. Probably when I encounter someone I admire I should say, "Please discount the things I blab right now and wait for my followup email. I write better than I talk". Which would be the truth anyway!

So now you can guess why I opted out when my family went off to watch the shooting of the new Mohanlal-Priyadarshan movie Geetanjali at a location not 5 km from Karthi this Sunday. The first stars they saw were the director himself and Innocent. 

It's so good to see the veteran actor back from his tryst with cancer albeit weaker than before. The Vanitha story of his meeting with Mar Chrysostom Thirumeni was one of the articles that held us up when my Ma's case was diagnosed. 

And then they got one out of four photo ops that the great actor gave as he came out of his trailer to  act in his next shot.

To DH's regret, Lalettan asked him to pick up Anikkuttan so that he would come in the frame. Little did the great actor know that our 5-year-old firebrand hates to be treated "like a baby" unless HE wants us to. So he struggled at the exact moment the pic was taken. Poor DH, all my sympathies are with him! (Although he will tell you that guffawing loud enough to crack the ceiling is a curious way of showing that sympathy)

As DH was explaining to the kids how a movie is made, a Benz car rolled in and a bearded figure got out. It took him some moments to realize whom he had seen as the person had no connection with Geetanjali

Yes! The great man Ranjith himself. NOW I really regretted not going with my family. But then, it was probably all for the good. The director would have been puzzled by a portly lady blubbering and probably swooning in true Victorian damsel style right at his feet. Thank you God for saving me from a cringe case of gargantuan proportions!

There are a few more pics, but I've shown you the best clicks. Enjoy!

Jul 15, 2013

Crazy happy!

One of the greatest perks of being a SAHM is the leisure to think, analyze and do some things that one would never get a chance to do otherwise. For example, one of my morning activities is (as you may all know by now) is waiting near our gate with our younger kiddo till his school bus arrives. We spend at least 10 minutes a day doing just that. Sometimes I take my phone with me and catch up with my blog reading on Feedly. But mostly I leave my phone behind and sit chatting to my newly five-year-old.

Today as we sat there, after a bit of tickling and poking of my cheek with a prickly globe amaranth (vadamulla) bloom, Ani was sitting in my lap when a mynah flew down a few yards from us. They are common here along with some more pretty and cute fauna. We watched the little bird hop along and I tried to imitate its call. This led me to listen for more sounds of the denizens of the air around us and I could make out at least 6 different sounds. 

Last month I had shown Ani the Greater Coucal/ the Crow Pheasant strutting across our yard and told him its name and asked him to listen to its distinctive call. Today as the bird started asking for salt ("Uppu, uppu"), Ani immediately said, "That's the Uppan!" and we both sat in a sort of rapture just listening to it. Then a koel started its song and I just had to whistle back (yep, that's one of my greatest accomplishments. I can whistle and pretty loudly!)

So the school bus came and Ani said good bye. But the koel and I were at it in full swing. We would have a bout, then the koel would sulk awhile. Then it would start going again and I reciprocated. Each time he gave up and sulked, I laughed. I pulled some weeds in the meanwhile and kept up the competition till my tummy rumbled to remind me it was time for breakfast. As I went in (of course after having had the last whistle!) I was crazy happy and what else did I sing but this...

ഒരു വട്ടം കൂടിയാ കുയിലിന്റെ പാട്ടു കെട്ടെതിർപാട്ടു  പാടുവാൻ മോഹം 
ഒടുവിൽ പിണങ്ങി പറന്നുപോം പക്ഷിയോടരുതെയെന്നോതുവാൻ മോഹം 
(Once again would I love to sing in competition with the koel
Then say "Don't leave" when he flies off, miffed )

Thankfully, unlike the poet, I don't have to just wish, I can do it! So the next time you are feeling down in the dumps, just find a koel to compete with. I guarantee it will make you chuckle and giggle like a giddy school kid! As for the koel, I am sure he'll come again. After all, this was not our first jugalbandi! :)

Jul 12, 2013

Productivity tweaking - too much?

Of late, I have been slightly obsessed with productivity enhancing tools and articles. This year I started listing out my daily to-do list in my daily journal in addition to the reminders for daily jobs on my faithful Astrid. Every morning, I wrote out a big list and chose three MITs (Most Important Tasks) to be completed that day in addition to my menu items for the day. Okay, this listing, so far has been done about 80% of the time till yesterday, at a cursory glance through my journal. On travel/vacation days as well as some stretches when LIFE happens in all caps, this has not happened. And did I manage to finish all list items every day? No way. I was lucky if I could finish at least the MITs!

The news that Astrid was acquired by Yahoo! and is going to be taken off the web (part of me still screams, "Why, why, why???" in true soap opera fashion) knocked me off my feet. For the first time in years, I've had some semblance of accomplishment of my daily routine and here it was going kaput! I hurriedly imported all my data from Astrid and started searching for a viable alternative.

Over the last couple of months, I searched high and low for Astrid's substitute and tried one app after the other while retaining Astrid on my phone. I tried Remember the Milk, ToDoist, Wunderlist, Trello and more.  I signed up for  each in turn and tried using them for a day or two. Something or the other would bug me about the new app and I invariably deleted my account with each. In the process, I also started using Feedly for blog reading because although I have neatly categorized and bookmarked my favorite blogs and keep culling the inactive ones from time to time, I thought I could enhance my reading organization by opting to read through Feedly.

This week I had almost reached breaking point when Astrid's farewell mail came through. Then I happened to read this article: Confessions of a Recovering Lifehacker. I realized that in my search for the perfect tasking app, I was missing out on a lot. I checked my phone - Astrid was working fine and I didn't need to sync it with the web because I only use it on my phone and it functions well enough without syncing up. Plus I have a paper copy of all my recurring tasks as well as a copy on my trusty Evernote if ever my phone crashes and Astrid on my phone is lost. I can easily manage on those in such an eventuality and since I've already tried out some new task apps, I can easily choose one then.

Aaah, relief! In that happy frame of mind I settled down yesterday to watch the final of the Tri-nation series. Now there is something totally unproductive (ok, ok, I did cheat, I took the time to catch up on some reading)!!! I almost kicked myself at 2:45 am for having lost precious sleep sitting up all alone to watch the Indian batting fiasco. But I couldn't switch off the TV because MS was still there!! As he struck ball after ball and didn't run to protect his hamstrings and the other batsman, I marveled at his courage and understood his strategy of waiting for the weak link in the Lankan bowling lineup. But when the last over equation came up, ardent fan that I am, I doubted whether Captain Cool could accomplish it on that pitch. Oh how glad I was to be proven wrong! If you'd been within a ten-mile radius of Karthi at 3 am today, I'm sure you would have been deafened by my war whoop as Dhoni's last sixer flew over the boundary line. I woke up all my family to join in the festivities. We waited till Arun Lal's last gaffe at the presentation ceremony near 4 am. Total amount of sleep yesterday - < 2 hours!!!

Jul 5, 2013

Ups and downs!!

The past two weeks have been interesting ones at Karthi. At first we had a couple of unwelcome guests. A very nasty couple I must say they were and it must have been a hasty marriage of convenience. We were taking cold precautions and so a cold virus and influenza virus got together and attacked our home. First DH went down. When he showed signs of getting up after three days, I went down, then Nikhil got the fever. The symptoms were interesting - we had all the usual cold symptoms, high fever that in my case peaked four hours after I took fever medication, body aches, heavy head - rather, you might ask what symptoms we did not have, that would be easier to enumerate.

Suffice to say, I had barely scraped my head off my pillow for the first time in four days this Tuesday when my driving instructor came along. He had, after innumerable delays in getting my learner's license processed, managed to get me a driving test slot for the fourth of July (yesterday). There I was, barely able to stand straight, having practised the Eight at the end of May for a couple of days and not having touched my scooter for almost a month! He consoled me saying that even if I failed, I could get another appointment soon enough, but it was difficult to get a fresh date if I did not attend at all. So I said I would meet him at 7:30 am at the testing ground on the fourth.

I got to the place, practised hard for an hour doing the Eight and duly presented myself for the test and PASSED! No one was more surprised than I!!! DH who came to provide moral support at the time of the test was watching and saw that about 50% of the lot that tested yesterday flunked their Eights. I was in the middle of a long queue and I didn't want to watch any negative things, so I didn't watch any of the tests before mine and kept my head turned away and visualized myself completing the Eight successfully. I heard others in the queue going, "Oh no, she put down her foot" and all the gasps and sighs, but determinedly hummed a tune and kept my eyes averted. Well, that strategy worked! It's like a huge weight off my chest now! Now if I could only chase away the residual muscle fatigue and lethargy of the flu too, I'll be in clover.

Today, for the first time in a week, I went outside to check my garden:

Ahh, the long beans have started climbing the trellis my helper made for me last Monday. My other veggies too are coming along:

 The okra are looking good, although the weeds nearby are taking advantage of my week's inactivity.

The tomato seedlings are big enough to be transplanted.

My garden area has benefited from the post first shower weeding. I can see what plants I have! 

My favorite rose. People keep asking me for cuttings each year. Few have reported success. This is one plant I have not allowed to die in my garden!

My vadamulla aka globe amaranth was a puny plant until last October we dumped a load of manure near it to be distributed in the garden. It took off!

This I brought home from our 2010 trip to Munnar. Slowly but surely it has been making its way up our garden wall, gets almost burnt up each summer (it's on our southern wall, so you can guess how hot it gets!), but still survives. 

Most of that bare area you can see there is uncultivable because there is just four inches of soil above two septic tanks and the soil quality is very poor. I will be putting some pots and grow-bags there in the near future. Lots still to be done! 

So how does your garden grow this year?

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...