Monday, June 30, 2008

Sights at the station

It has been some time since we went to the Secunderabad railway station and it was a pleasant surprise to see it all done up. At night when the darkness hides the filth on the tracks the station really looked good. I did annoy those who were with me as I took these pictures.

The Rajdhani train was at the Secunderabad station. The train that has been totally branded by Airtel with their message Barriers break when people talk. Great way to advertise considering the fact that the train covers the distance from Delhi to Bangalore. The cost is estimated to be Rs 6 crore per train and the maintenance and annual fee amounting to another 3.5 crore per year.

But the other side of life at the station - those who do not have the waiting rooms or even the confirmed reservation - use the platform to relax and sleep.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ma (oh) thoughts - 3

Do your bit towards bringing down global warming and preserving natural resources and see it reflect in your savings. Turn off the light when you leave the room, walk whenever you can, use a single large load option while washing clothes , turn down the heat/gas when food begins to boil.
And do it even if someone else is paying the bill!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

any takers for this one?

We shall never forget this purchase. It was a hot Sunday afternoon and we had just dropped in at this exhibition on our way back and were well on our way out until someone spotted this object.

It was a ooh and an aah and the salesman just caught the look and expression and let off his sales talk. It is from one single piece of walnut wood, exquisitely chiseled from Kashmir, blah, blah blah. Our man fell for it hook line and sinker.
It is not as if we did not appreciate the piece but for the price that was being quoted?? Definitely not thought the three of us and walked away. Only to find that someone had stopped and made the purchase. We were told that we had no aesthetic sense.
It still finds a place of pride in our living room. At least out of respect for the price tag.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A place so serene...

If only the lake was not that polluted. But beautiful nevertheless.

Taking control of our lives...

Was it a coincidence that I read an article about taking control of our lives and that very evening I had a person over for dinner who has done just that!!
First, the article. It talks about a book - The Secret, which reveals “the most powerful law in the Universe” as unearthed by Rhonda Byrne . The film and book of the same name ( I have not read the book or seen the movie but am quoting the article) suggests that we take control of our lives and fulfil our dreams with just the help of our own thoughts and feelings. This is due to what Rhonda calls the “power of attraction”. This law states that we end up attracting into our lives what we want with which we can handle our lives the way we wish to. We just have to wish, believe and then rejoice according to her.
And now to the person ( a close relative)* who I believe has made things work for her without reading the book!. She in fact did tell my elder one ( when things were not really working out) that she should always think positively. She advised her to keep talking and dreaming about whatever she wanted in a positive manner. Over and over again. And she said that before long the dream would materialise into reality.
If you go by her* life, her career, her plans for her family, you will realise that she had ensured that it happened just as she destined it to be. It has never seemed to amaze the rest of us. I try hard on and off to adopt her philosophy. It does not always work. Maybe the pessimistic Libran attitude is quite the opposite. But off late I have realised that if I want something very badly, I tell this lady and ask her to pray for it to happen. After that simple act, I am sure that I have put things on track and it helps!!
So, if you can't take control of your life at least entrust it to someone who can!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A new home

As a proud mother, I watch my daughter and my son in law ( from a great distance across the seas) set up their first independent home.
It is an exciting stage in her life. And I am sure she will enjoy the independence and at the same time appreciate the luxuries of the past 10 months where there were others to share the responsibilities.

Let the Music play...

I went for the music programme by Shiv Kumar Sharma. He plays the Santoor. This was the first time I have heard him live. And it was a great experience. Sitting just three rows away I had a clear view of the instrument and how it was being played. He kept us entertained by his music and his remarks and generally gave the audience a lot of insight to the music he was playing .
The instrument originally comprised of 100 strings, but the present one that he plays has been modified to 87. He uses two curved mallets of walnut wood and with his eyes closed most times he twirled them around these 87 strings to produce great music. Since we just had a downpour in the city he stuck to the Megh Malhar raga and used the instrument to bring alive the sounds of rain and water by just varying the pressure on the strings.

My own understanding of classical music is limited. And strangely I appreciate classical music best when I watch the artiste perform. Off late I have attended Western, Hindustani and Carnatic music and have enjoyed them all.

Shiv Kumar Sharma spoke about the beauty of Indian classical music. The performances can never be rehearsed. He said that most times only the ragas that might be played or sung would be decided in advance. The accompanying artistes come to the stage with just this information. On stage the musician improvises the raga keeping to the fundamentals as it flows to him. No two performances of the same raga would ever be identical. It is therefore to the credit of the accompanying artistes that they need to be alert to what is being played and give the necessary support lending to the melody.

While the Hindustani artiste creates an aura about their art it is time for the Carnatic musicians to keep in tune to the changing times. Their performances are in no way inferior but they do not seem to get the reception the other musicians command. It is time they added some glamour to their show. It is time for the carnatic musicians to move on. If they had noticed, even M S Subbalakshmi , the grand lady of Carnatic music had her own style - the flawless make up and the beautiful kanjeevaram sarees were glamourous to her time. The musicians should take a note from the Hindustani counterparts. Change to more contemporary style of dressing ( Shiv Kumar Sharma wore this bold rust kurta with beautiful embroidery, and the stones on the rings sparkled as he waved his hands). Introduce the music to the audience. Speak about the raga. Add some humour. Keep the audience involved. And in the process keep classical music alive for untrained ears like mine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

if only it were true...

Cruella ...

I wonder if the kids perceive me to be Cruella deville.
The younger one called me from Delhi today. She said she had a stye and was wondering if she should take the day off. I asked her so many questions that she finally said, never mind, I'll just go to work!
It's something I just seemed to have inherited from my father. He never was one to encourage us to stay at home. In all his working years I had not seen him take a day off unless it was an emergency. He had a great pain threshold and illnesses and aches never got him down. Vacations were planned well in advance. No impulsive decision to stay at home. It did not matter to him if he had not availed a single casual leave in a particular year! There are very few of his kind these days. But his attitude did rub off on us. And I followed the same rules with the children ( maybe the younger one managed to stay back on few occasions)
The elder one was not given too much leeway and consequently did win quite a few awards for full attendance at college causing a cousin to ask incredulously 'you did not bunk a single day of college?'

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Develop the habit of reading...

No it is not really time for a sermon. Or maybe it is. It is summer and we have some young students who intern at our office. At first glance, they are smart. Very smart in fact, they look good, dress well, speak well or at least the first day they seem to. Just into their first week we find that they do not seem to be well informed about anything at all!! Most youngsters just seem to have lost the habit of reading. Maybe television is the main culprit . Most, probably listen to the news on TV and have even given up the habit of reading the newspaper.
There was this interesting article in The Hindu last Sunday in their supplement Literary Review - I shall quote some which really made sense to me. -Reading lists put out every summer by foreign magazines and websites frequently invoke — along with the perfect page-turner — beaches, dripping lemonade, hammocks, pools, picnic lunches, tropical cocktails and long siestas. No beaches for us, and perhaps lime juice instead of lemonade. And yet, how heroically we read on. But can books really help us dodge the heat? That they won’t; but I do believe they can negotiate the summer for us. Think of it as a summer project. Summer reading doesn’t have to be about escapist, dumbed-down fiction. Literature is an elegant escape, and some non-fiction is more riveting than pulp. The perfect page-turner can be anything. So, the real trick, it would seem, is picking a book that engages your imagination just enough, but not so much that your brain’s gears begin to overload. Reading is one of the last solitary activities left to us. Reading takes us deeper into ourselves, and so the escape we make is away from the world and a travel to the self — to the weather inside us.
How true. Reading should be a habit. Start the morning with the newspaper. And not just the sports or the entertainment page. Try making a habit of reading the editorial ( it is not very easy - I admit). This keeps you well informed. Keep aside at least half hour, sometime of the day, to reading. It is best to be a member of a library. We have discovered some good lesser known books of unknown authors - those we would never have bought - picked up at the library. And you end up reading a variety - rather than just one of the Jeffrey Archer or Sidney Sheldon best seller.
And make sure kids are exposed to the written word even before they can read. Just as soon as you think they are old enough to listen - start reading to them and watch them hang to every word that is uttered. As they grow older start with simple books helping them - reading along with them for a start. They should never become a couch potato ( after the previous post - I think it is unfair on the potato). It does make life very easy to have them sit in front of a TV allowing us time for other chores. But switching off the television and reading to the children would ensure quality time with the kids and putting them on the right track. It is only by reading that we improve our skills of communication.
If as parents you do not have the time, ensure that you send for the grandparents. They will do the job for you!!

The ubiquitous potato

The year 2008 has been declared the International Year of the Potato by the UN. On googling the tuber I find extensive research and number of books - one of them titled the History and Social Role of the Potato!!.

I have never been a fond of the potato unless it is in its unhealty avatar like the potato chip or the french fries. The tuber is generally thrown into the shopping cart as a standby item when nothing else is available and is useful when you have guests dropping by.

There is a Potato Council, a Potato museum, a Potato magazine - The Spudsman. WOW. That speaks a lot for a food that was discovered just 400 years ago.

An interesting story of how a french farmer decided to popularise it in his area. Parmentier acquired a miserable and unproductive spot of ground on the outskirts of Paris. There, he planted 50 acres of potatoes. During the day, he set a guard over it. This drew considerable attention in the neighborhood. In the evening the guard was relaxed and the locals came to see what all the fuss was about. Believing this plant must be valuable, many peasants "acquired" some of the potatoes from the plot, and soon were growing the root in their own garden plots

It is time that I treat the potato with a lot more respect.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Room with a view

The view from the living room. And behind the thick foliage lurks a concrete jungle!! Briefly, we can make believe that we are far from it all!
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