Feb 28, 2014

How has the second month treated you?


Ok, I can hear you going, "हद हो गयी  Sreekala, why are you showing us pics of your bed sheets on the blog now?" Please bear with me for a while. Remember this?


That was the original set of plastic bags that I used to buy our monthly groceries. We reused them month after month, folding them meticulously after each use. But they slowly started giving way. We did get a few new plastic bags (after all we are not absolutely fanatically anti-plastic, yet!) But recently, there have been a couple of embarrassing giving ways of the old and worn handles - not good.

So that set me thinking - there was this old Rajasthani cotton bed sheet that developed a hole in the middle... so here goes!


Three beautiful, handmade shopping bags - double thickness and all seams stitched twice for strength. I know they are strong because I broke one needle trying to stitch them! They are reversible too, because I stitched both layers as separate bags and joined them together. And in keeping with my not-perfect traditions, they are all different in size (completely unintended) and my rather overenthusiastic "handle reinforcement " for my first bag looks like a kid's handiwork...


I choose to show this because with all that "purrrfect"eye-candy floating around in blogland, a novice could be paralyzed into inaction. If such a person sees this, they can go, "Hey, if she can do that, I sure can do better!" :) 

I am pretty inordinately proud of the handle straps that I cut off the strong borders and made in quadruple thickness... please note that the handles are attached way better on this bag!


But then I thought, hey 3 bags are not enough to tote our grocery! So I went searching and ta daaaah....


An old Bombay Dyeing number this time - my needle found this tougher, but I went so slowly and it felt like I was pushing the sewing machine needle myself for each stitch. The second one is still a WIP. Hopefully I will finish it before this Sunday when we will need it for our monthly shopping! And while writing this I got a brilliant idea to do the same to the pillow covers of the first bed sheet - just lop off the tops a little, stitch both together and attach handles, one more bag! :)

Meanwhile, DH, who started off the treasure hunts felt that the youngest member of our family was feeling left out. So he decided to do a number with pictures for the kindergartener...


Amazing drawings... because Ani recognized all of them and found his treasure: a Thomas the Engine book. He was heard to remark as he sat down, "Finallyyyyy, I got a treasure of my own!" 

Naturally his father was inspired to do more. This time he turned to coloring!!


The prize was a Bob the Builder book and equally welcome! 

Howz your kitchen garden going? Hadn't I told you that this is the Year of the Kitchen Garden? Stay tuned for our veggie updates!!!

Feb 21, 2014

Movie Review: Om Santhi Osaana

Quite in non-accordance with our usual movie-going policy at Karthi, we caught the 9:30 pm show of Om Santhi Osaana last Saturday. We expected it to be uncrowded and didn't make advance reservations. Did we learn a lesson from our Drisyam travails? Nope, we didn't! Long story short, we barely made it into the back row of the front section of the theater. Good thing that those seats reclined quite a bit. When I saw extra chairs being lined up beside the rows, I really was thankful that as a family, we tend to arrive rather early at appointments. Unless you  count the time we missed our kindergartener in his graduation costume because we assumed the program began at 4 when it actually was slated to start at 2:30. But we did arrive at 3:15, so you see what I mean by our reaching early:)

To the movie, then! After Abrid Shine's debut venture it was the turn of another debutante director - Jude Anthany Joseph. We were entranced by the little cameo at the beginning of the movie and quite looked forward to the movie itself.

What is it with debutante directors and their thing for nostalgia? Once again, we are reminded of our childhood and the revolutionary changes that have come to pass with our growing up. Pooja Mathew (Nazriya) narrates the story of her life and love. The love story is nothing new - thinking back on it, it's just the ordinary girl-meets-boy story, but the treatment gets full marks. As does the locale, the camera work, the twists et al. We were entertained the whole way through.

Nivin Pauly has little to do except be strong and silent  and smile with a corner of his mouth most of the time. Nazriya as Pooja is bubbly and very easy on the eyes as always. Aju supplies the laughs and the twists. Renji Panicker as the heroine's father is a surprise - a pleasant one, thankfully. He gets some of the best dialogues and was faintly reminiscent of Lalu Alex in one of his supportive father/husband roles. The rest of the cast past muster.

All in all, a good entertainer that can be watched reclining easily - no need to sit on the edge for this one. One sign I got of the movie's entertainment value - our kiddos made it past midnight without sleeping or demanding snacks! Or is it just that they have got our movie-crazy genes???? Hard to tell! :) If you're planning to catch a movie this weekend, you won't lose by going to Om Santhi Osaana!

Feb 14, 2014

How the year has begun...

It's the middle of February now... We got only a few really cold nights this year. But our jack fruit tree is up to his old tricks again. He chuckles quietly when I shake my fists at him for littering the yard when I've just finished sweeping it. But both of us know it's just in jest - he has to do what he has to do this time of the year and I hold no grudges!

This was our combined activity in Karthi last month:


Our coconut yield was smaller this year - must've been due to the extra-dry summer.  So in two weekends DH finished dehusking, I shielded my hand with a pot holder and smashed them all open (got any violent feelings to dissipate - I recommend coconut smashing as the ideal activity!!!). The kids carried the husks to be put down around our coconut trees - to protect the root area in summer and to add to the soil cover by decomposing, of course. Most of the coconuts were dry already so they required only a week's drying before they turned into this...


...around some 7.5 liters of coconutty goodness - yellow now because I added dried whole turmeric to it to prevent it from getting rancid. Some say adding sea-salt crystals and putting the jars in the sun would do the same thing, but I prefer the golden color and not adding more sodium to our diet.

Then I noticed that most of my kitchen rags were literally that, rags!


Poor thing was just begging for retirement! I always recycle any old cotton dresses to make kitchen rags and this has been one for at least 3 years! So it was time to rouse my trusty sewing machine from hibernation and sew up a new set!


They are so thick because I used one layer of cotton and one layer of toweling...


Also with a loop of the cotton material to hang them up by if required...


And then after a lot of drama and diva-esque behavior later, it was time for our histrionic member of the family to do a star turn.. well two actually!


There he is shaking a leg or waving his hand rather, in "Shalala la la la" on his school annual day.


And here he is charming Cinderella as ... who else, Prince Charming himself!

That WAS a good month, wasn't it!

Feb 3, 2014

Movie Review: "1983"

First of all let me say this, if you love cricket even the least little bit, go ahead and watch the movie; if you like any team sport, go and watch the movie; if you ever had to give in to parental pressure to give up a passion because of practical reasons, go and watch this movie and finally, if you like uplifting, clean entertainment, GO and WATCH this movie!!!

No police commissioner need be afraid of the message that this movie conveys to the masses, because 1983 is one thoroughly good movie with nary a new-gen kink in it. Ramesan (Nivin Pauly) watched team India lift the world cup in 1983. He was 10 at the time, just like another little boy watching the same televised game in Mumbai...

Abrid Shine, the director, professes to be a huge fan of the game and of the great little man who paved the way for a torrent of talent into the cricketing pitch. His passion for the game permeates the whole movie and seeps into the movie hall, creating waves of anticipation, despair, pride and joy in successive waves. I am sure that for all people of my generation (born around mid 1970s), this movie will be a huge nostalgia trip...

The whole cast and crew deserve kudos for their effort - I don't want to point out anyone from the lot. Santhakumari appears in just one scene with just one dialogue, but it will last a long time in one's memory - so what to say about the rest!

I won't give away the story, but I will tell you this: I think this movie is one of the best tributes one can offer to Sachin Tendulkar. Growing up, although I loved cricket I was never a huge Sachin fan. And unlike Ramesan in the movie, I didn't have a single poster of him in my room (well, I did have Nitish Bharadwaj in his Sri Krishna costume, but that's another story! :)). Even among cricketers, I liked cool, calm and debonair Dravid, and of late Captain Cool himself. I didn't care much about his burgeoning statistics, his notorious choking in the 90s or his slowing reflexes as long as team India was fighting it out in the middle.

Then tell me why I was blubbering away last November on the day he finally left the cricket pitch for good? Why did I have a tough time coping with my tears that blurred away the sight of his last speech? It's because Sachin Tendulkar is so much more than cricket - he is a model of a person who has dedicated his life to ONE thing and kept his head level in the huge success that came as the fruit of his dedication. I will be the first to admit that cricket comes very low in the list of "meaningful pursuits" in life. Among the celebrations before his last games, Sachin was gifted a painting in which he is depicted as Arjuna. My first reaction was "What?????" When I saw the elongated limbs and muscular torso of the image, I felt it was an insult to his low stature and boyish looks. But then I focused on Arjuna and what Lord Krishna taught him and came to realize that Sachin has actualized the teachings of the Gita in his life as closely as he can. He always put karma first and never thought about the fruits of his labor. In the midst of all the hullaballoo, he stayed centered and calm. All his frustrations were vented among his family and close friends. In fact no one has any bad words to say about him other than an old embittered "friend" who failed miserably because of the lack of the same values that Sachin stands for. The very fact of his conspicuous absence from lucrative liquor ads is a mark of his greatness, isn't it?

So there it is. I think Swami Vivekananda himself would be proud of this modern Indian karma yogi (after all, he was the one who advocated sporting activities for the Indian youth). And Abrid Shine has managed to capture that aspect of it in the portrayal of Ramesan, his ragtag team mates and his family. 

And please people, do stay in your seats till the credits are way into the middle. I lost part of the last scenes because I was left applauding in my seat while all around me people jumped up to go home. Ah well, this one is a certain addition to my DVD collection, so I can see it any number of times!

And no, time hasn't lessened the pain, because even after 2 months, watching Sachin's farewell had me weeping into my handkerchief all over again!

How to bring back the green...

Back in 2007, when we bought the land for Karthi, it looked like this... There were coconut trees that looked tired, a few jack fr...