Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm Famous!

Image Courtesy: Dreamstime
Ahem! Ahem! I've been posting a lot of my published work like features, reviews and interviews over here. So after after writing about and interviewing other people - finally here is -* pampara pampara paaaam!! * - my interview! If anyone of you would like to know more about the face behind Abstract Admissions, please feel free to give me an ego boost and head to Women's Web over here, where I blow my own trumpet and talk about me, myself and moi!

On the other hand, if you do not want to know more, well don't worry I understand. (I soooo do not! Hmph! Go away ;-))

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Adding A Pinch Of Spice To Our Lives!

Image Source: Show Me The Curry

I have already written about my interest in watching cookery shows here. And I had also mentioned that Show Me The Curry was one of my favourite shows.

So understandably, you can imagine how excited I was to interview the two lovely ladies, Hetal & Anuja of this very show! It felt like a fan getting an opportunity to talk to his/her favourite star! The interview went very well and if you are interested, head over to Women's Web to read about it there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Image Source: Penguin Books
Julie Powell's 'Cleaving', washes away the sweet and fun picture that Julie & Julia painted so effortlessly.

If anyone was wondering what “Julie did next?” after cooking her way through Julia Child’s ‘Mastering The Art Of French Cooking’, this book contains all the answers. Apparently she went on to master the art of butchering by joining as an apprentice at a meat shop. Oh and before that she decided to have an affair.

Anyone who has either seen or read Julie & Julia would not believe that anything could disrupt the domestic bliss of the much married and seemingly much-in-love Julie and Eric. But Life has a different plan in mind and so Julie finds herself with a passionate paramour. It is more to escape from the self-brought on confusions and inner demons that pop up in her now complicated life, that she decides to learn butchering. Whether it helps and whether she manages to come to terms with herself forms the rest of the book.

'Cleaving', A Story Of Meat, Marriage And Obsession or so it says, contains many graphic and elaborate descriptions of slaughtering of live animals and processing of dead ones. Being a non-vegetarian myself, I didn’t find it particularly repulsive although I did find it to be too much information. Afterall I don’t think I am ever going to gut a pig in my life (I sincerely hope not!). So I found myself skimming over long paragraphs of such unnecessary and not to mention gory details. I can well understand if it makes some people squeamish too.  I believe that she meant to draw parallels between the going-ons in her life and all the cutting, trimming and separating that she is doing, but frankly it was a little boring to wade through all that stuff.

The style of writing is pretty similar to her first book – light, colloquial and wit some self-deprecating humour as well as innumerable references to her favourite show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Many of the central characters of the previous book show up here too in addition to newer ones – which is understandable as obviously she is writing about her own life. Although 'Julie & Julia' had no recipes in it, this one has a handful of them - but then I wasn't tempted to try any of them.

The book doesn’t really take any strong moral stand on infidelity – rather it just deals with it in a matter of fact manner – chronicling things as it happened. This implies that there isn't really much point to the story or that I simply missed the point! So at no point of time did I feel very involved in it - it did not move me in the least, nor could I sympathize with any character in the book - be it the long-suffering husband, the creepy and masochistic lover or Julie herself . It felt like reading an impersonal list. Sometimes it just felt vague, meandering and mundane - but I admit that it is also an honest and brave attempt. Although I enjoyed Julie & Julia a lot, I must confess that Cleaving didn’t quite match up to my expectations.

Have you read Cleaving? What did you think? Do let me know!

P.S: This is my 100th blog post! Yeahhh :-) 
Should I do something special to commemorate this milestone? Any suggestions from my dear readers? Drop in your comments! (Please don't give me any Poonam Pandeyish suggestions though ;-))

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shutter Island: Intriguing

Shutter Island, a psychological thriller is yet another captivating work of art from the Martin Scorsese stable. Based on Dennis Lehane’s eponymous novel, it begins with US Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) along with his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo), arriving at The Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane, on a remote place called Shutter Island. They have been assigned to investigate the disappearance of a dangerous inmate.

Interested? Please head over to Women's Web to read my full review over there.

If you have already seen the movie, do share your thoughts with me!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Indigenous Books For Children

Image Source: Tulika Publishers
I am a big fan of reading and think that it is essential to inculcate the reading habit from small. Creative stories, eye-catching illustrations and a regard for the local environment are all synonymous with Tulika Books. Head over to Women's Web to read my  interview with Sandhya Rao, Senior Editor of Tulika and award-winning children’s writer here

Friday, September 9, 2011

TGIF #7: The Snooze Button

Image Source: Mingret

Are you the kind of person who bounces out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off? I am not. Some people cannot wake up until they hear a loud noise which jerks them awake but I prefer a more gentle approach. Most of my alarm tones are soft and melodious and serve to nudge me awake rather than shaking me up. I generally roll around for some, try and bury my head into my pillow and wish the world to go away. But obviously since I have a life, I need to get up eventually. If you are anything like me, then the snooze button on your mobile phone must surely be one of the most used.

Usually I set the alarm to go off about 15 – 20 minutes before the actual time that I might need to wake up. This way once the initial alarm wakes me up, somehow there is a smug sense of satisfaction, knowing that I can sleep an extra 5 or 10 minutes! What’s more I can comfortably doze off again, secure in the knowledge that the alarm will faithfully ring again in a short while. At times when I don’t happen to have my phone with me or if it has simply died as I have forgotten to feed it some life-giving charge, I end up being paranoid – waking up intermittently every 2 minutes into my dozing period and checking the time , afraid that I might have overslept.  Of course, there are also times when I mistakenly press the ‘off’ button instead of the ‘snooze’ in my semi-sleepy state, which then leads to inevitable delays accompanied by inappropriate cursing.

I know that research suggests people are better off without the snooze button as apparently it only makes you sleepier and lethargic. I also realize it probably goes to show the extent of our dependence on machines and gadgets in our day-to-day lives. But hey! It works for me and I’m not complaining! Sometimes we never acknowledge the small and seemingly insignificant things in our lives, that go a long way in making our lives far more comfortable, easy and dare I say lazy too?!. The poor little snooze button is one such thing. Thank God for it! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday Wishlist #7: A Prayer

Image Credit: criswatk
When I was a very small girl, due to some reason, I used to be plagued by nightmares almost every single night. As a solution to this, my parents told me to keep a rosary (prayer beads) below my pillow before I go to sleep. And surprisingly, after that my nightmares stopped (mostly). And even more strangely, on days when I would forget to place the rosary, I would again have nightmares. The pious might call this a miracle and the sceptical might not even believe me. But logically speaking, I think that by placing the rosary, I simply believed that the nightmares would go away – and therefore stopped dreaming them up. On the days that I missed, my guess is that my sub-conscious mind was still aware of the facts.

So this is my earliest memory of me ever praying for anything – although my parents tell me that when we went for the interview during school admissions, I promptly ran up to a statue of Mother Mary and prayed, and that is what convinced the nuns to give me a seat! In any case, I eventually stopped placing the rosary because of laziness and instead resorted to saying a small prayer before going to sleep, which involved, among other important things, that I shouldn’t get a nightmare. Slowly this grew into a habit. Usually, I mumble a sleepy prayer as soon as I wake up, a hurried one as I am leaving the house and a habitual one before I go to sleep.  Plus of course, if I need something desperately, on special occasions or I’m either upset or exuberant over something, I do pray.  And by praying, I don’t mean that I stand in front of pictures or statues of deities and chant anything. I just close my eyes for a minute and say my prayers, wherever I happen to be. That’s it.  

I wouldn’t call myself extremely religious. I do believe strongly in my God but for a person who has parents who never ever miss Sunday Mass and in-laws who have a whole legion of impressive churches attributed to them, I lag a lot! For one thing I don’t agree with everything that the Church teaches, including its stand on abortion, contraception and evangelisation. For example, I feel that Christianity is to an extent, if not altogether liberal, towards women. But what is this concept that a woman should cover her head in Church in order to show that she is governed by a man??! I choose to assume that instances such as these are simply miscommunications and distortions that have occurred, over the hundreds of years that this religion has been in existence.  

So I guess that whether I am a well-balanced religious person or not, I am certainly not dogmatic or fanatic about it. But there is no denying that it does provide me with comfort, hope and guidance. I recently came across a small prayer called the Serenity Prayer – and it has quickly become my favourite. The prayer is a short one but I think that the most profound lines of it are:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Isn't this a lovely prayer? What more could one ask for? It is said to be written by Reinhold Niebuhr in 1943. And the best thing about it is that it is a religion-independent prayer - which means anyone, irrespective of their religious beliefs, can say it when they feel that they need some peace in their lives. 

This simple prayer is also my wish for this Wednesday's Wishlist.

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Teacher's Day...

Image Source:

Teacher's Day was always celebrated with great enthusiasm and fan-fare back in school. No classes were held and we students put up plays or shows to entertain our teachers - for which we would have started rehearsing all by ourselves, weeks back! It was a day of fun for both the students and the teachers (hopefully they didn't get bored to death watching our shows!).

I think I got enamored by the field of English, Journalism/Writing simply because I had such fantastic English teachers. Although I was not a topper, generally my performance in studies used to be above-average. I was always interested in English as a subject, but from my 8th standard onwards, I found my ideas, essays and answers being well-appreciated by my English teachers. Seeing those stars and congratulatory stickers stuck on my answer sheets made me glow with happiness. And I guess that it was then that I started believing that I was actually good, if not great, at something.

I get so irritated when, on hearing that English was/is my favourite subject, some people remark, "Oh why because it was easy is it?!". Well, the answer is a big, fat NO. Firstly, in my school, we had quality English teachers - not people who simply made us learn everything by rote, but rather women who cared enough and were passionate enough to take the trouble to explain the intricacies of the language and who helped me realize, recognize and appreciate the beauty and depth of both prose and poetry. They took the time and effort to awaken a genuine interest in us. What can I say? They succeeded! I still remember my high-school English classes, poems and lessons we were taught, with fond memories and today I can confidently say that I have taken up Writing as a career, because of my awesome English teachers. To be more specific, two of the most loved English teachers were Ms.Nandini and Ms.Soans - I'm sure that no one who studied under them will ever forget them!

I was fortunate to be educated at one of the leading schools in Chennai. But there are so many young children who do not have access to basic education - thereby building their entire future on a rocky and unstable foundation. All teachers are always special for the role they play in shaping the dreams and ideals of future generations, but the teachers who reach out to such disadvantaged children, definitely deserve a special mention. This is a story of one such teacher - Mangal Madam, associated with an NGO called Colors. Head over to Women's Web to read my article on her here.

So who was your favourite teacher? What do you fondly recall about him/her? Please share with me! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Image Courtesy: Dreamstime

In the silence of the night,
I rest near you,
Hearing the soft “thud-thud” of your heart.
For a moment, I think “what if?”
And panic.
I offer a silent prayer,
That it will never have to be otherwise.

Friday, September 2, 2011

TGIF #6: Life

Image Courtesy: Dreamstime
It seems to me that the very fact that we are alive is a miracle. Every day we hear of some disaster, natural or otherwise, claiming thousands of lives. If one part of the world is hiding from hurricanes, another part is shrivelling with famine and poverty. As if these were not enough, we have disillusioned terrorists detonating bombs or gunning down innocent victims. Planes fall out of the sky, trains go off the tracks and cars crash all the time. Wars are fought with utmost zeal and young people are killed off in the name of honour. All this apart from the other huge group dying natural deaths due to sickness or old age. Whew! It looks like the odds are definitely stacked against living!

And yet I am alive. (Touchwood!) 

When there are so many other promising lives being wiped off the face of the earth, I don’t really know why I have been spared. When my life could have been possibly extinguished in a snap, I don’t know why, God or Destiny or the Universe or whatever has thought that it is important for me to still be alive. And that itself should imply that my life is precious.

Have I ever felt depressed? Yes I have. Have there been times when I have thought, “What is this wretched life? I wish it would all just end” Yep. Have I ever felt that nothing is going my way, that all my efforts are useless and that it is just not worth it? Of course. Have there been instances when I was angry and dissatisfied with life? Sure. How many times have I felt that even getting out of bed needed a supreme effort and that it was much better to just lie buried in the depths of my bed-covers instead? Many times.

I am a kind of person who oscillates between two extremes. One day I love everyone and everything and the next day, the feeling of goodwill has magically evaporated. One day I am all happy and pleased and content and the next day, I can’t stop feeling miserable. One day I am floating lightly humming “I’m on top of the world, looking down on creation!” and the next, I am down in the dumps, bitterly cursing and lamenting my fate. You get the drift – I am not really a well-balanced person. (I am still evolving, okay!?)

But since I have chosen today to be thankful, I have made a conscious decision to be a better person. I realize that I am special – because I have been blessed with a most special gift – a beautiful life. Replete with laughter and dreams. Yes it is not all rosy and enchanted; there are tears, tantrums, disappointments, pain and heartache too. But today I choose to look at the brighter side, at the silver lining. Today, much out of my basic character, I choose to look at the glass half full.

Therefore this Friday,  I am indeed thankful for the gift of Life! Both mine and your's - because without your's, what meaning would there be to mine?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wednesday Wishlist #6: Travel the World!

P.S: I know today is Thursday, but yesterday was super crazy and so I couldn't put up this post on Wednesday!

Up until a few years back, I had not even ventured out of South India. Although we enjoyed vacations in the southern states, other parts of India and not to mention outside India were a mystery to me. Then I got lucky and was sent abroad for onsite assignments. And needless to say, I got bitten my the travel bug!

 The first country that I ever landed in outside of India was Dubai. I still remember lugging my luggage all alone through the never-ending Dubai Airport Terminals. Little did I know, that one day not so far away into the future, I would actually come and live here! (in Dubai I mean, not the airport!) Was the universe trying to send me a message? Who knows!

I wouldn’t really classify myself as a traveloholic. For one thing, I don’t really like to go to too offbeat or overly adventurous places which might require great physical exertion or survival in treacherous conditions – mainly because I really don’t think that I am that fit. Plus I don’t like to compromise on accommodation because to me a good place to stay is also part of a great holiday experience. So clearly I am not the kind of person that one might see in all those travel channels, replete with backpacks and shorts. Yes I like my comforts!

I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the different cultures and experiences I have been exposed to so far. I believe that travelling really expands your horizons and broadens your perspectives in life. Especially for someone like me, who led a totally sheltered life, it was a great learning experience, where I had to manage everything by myself. I would make sure to arrange a trip atleast once a month – and it was also a nice way to ward off any loneliness or home-sickness that one might feel in a foreign land.

My favourite place in the whole world is of course home, which is Chennai. But apart from that, according to me the most scenic and picturesque place that I have ever visited is Rhode Island. Sparkling, azure blue waters lapping away gently, rolling emerald green laws striking a vivid contrast, statuesque mansions looming majestically, white yachts bobbing up and down in the ocean far away and quaint lighthouses standing tall – wow I can still feel the sea breeze in my hair!

My most horrible vacation so far was a trip with my parents to Darjeeling. Not that Darjeeling wasn't good. But during our stay there was a sudden bandh and so we had to retreat to a small and sleepy town in the foothills called Siliguri. We couldn't advance our flight tickets and so were stuck in a dingy hotel room for a few days instead of prancing over lush hills. Pathetic!

I guess it’s obvious that I lean more towards natural beauty than man-made wonders, but I realize that man-made structures can also be breathtaking, as they bear testimony to the extent of talent, foresight, knowledge and potential that a human is capable of possessing.

Standing on top of the Empire State Building and looking out at New York, looking up at the lighted Eiffel Tower twinkling in the night, soaking in the charm of Goa, sailing in a house boat on the backwaters of Allepey, splashing in a mountain stream in Dindugal, trying not to get blown away in windy Chicago, visiting a Amish village in Harrisburgh, getting showered by pale pink cherry blossoms in DC, posing in front of the Hollywood sign in California, gambling away in Las Vegas, peering down the depths of the Grand Canyon, getting drenched by the spray of a roaring Niagara Falls, seeing Daffodils for the first time ever and bursting out into Wordsworth’s lines, riding a camel in the desert sands of Dubai, savouring the grandeur of the Taj Mahal on our Honeymoon, paragliding and skiing in Kulu Manali – every single trip has been special indeed. For me, every trip becomes memorable not only by the place itself, but also because of the people I was with and the lovely moments that I have shared with them.

I know that I have been fortunate to visit so many different places in this world. And yet, there are so many more places which I dream of visiting atleast once in my lifetime! So here is a list of a few such places on my travel wishlist: Starting from my mother country

Mumbai: I have heard so much about this resilient city and it is the only metro that I haven’t visited yet.

Image Courtesy: travelguidemumbai

Ladakh: Only recently did I discover this place when I was planning a trip for someone. Omg! So pristine! 

Image Courtesy: travelsulekha

Amritsar: One I have never been to a Gurudwara before but have always read about The Golden temple in GK class. Secondly I really want to see the Wagah border and the changing of the guards. It might probably be the closest I would ever come to even glimpsing Pakistan. 

Image Courtesy: tamarindtours
Andaman & Nicobar Islands: Always ready for beach vacations (except during tsunamis and cyclones!)

Image Courtesy: indialine
Conoor: I have been to Ooty & Kodaikanal but not to Conoor. I've heard that it is quite a captivating place indeed.

Image Courtesy: tamilnaduellamey

Now to places outside India:

Hawaii: Although I was in the US for some time, I never had a chance to go to Hawaii. Always wanted to experience the fun spirit of these islands. Mahalo, Mahalo!  

Image Courtesy:
EgyptOne word - Pyramids. Enough said.
Image Courtesy: shoreexcursions

Switzerland: Swiss chocolates and snow – any objections!?

Image Courtesy: ceoworld
Sri Lanka - Now that the civil unrest is over, hopefully someday soon, we could hop over to this tiny neighbour, with whom after all we have so much in common.

Image Coutesy: hellotravel

South-East Asian countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia. Mainly because I have heard a lot of stories from a lot of people who have visited these countries – and they are some of the cheapest foreign vacations to go to!
Image Courtesy: aycalifeclub

Image Courtesy: crystalinks
ChinaJust for the Great Wall! 

New Zealand: My friend Padma is the culprit behind this. She tempted me with all the beautiful pictures of this country! The natural beauty in this country is astounding.  A must!

Image Courtesy: breakaway

I see that I have left out 3 entire continents – Africa, Antarctica and South America. Well of course if an opportunity arises to travel to these places I wouldn’t refuse – but right now they are not really on my priority list!

So on this Wednesday Wishlist, I wish to travel the world!(or atleast many parts of it!)

What is your favourite place in the world? Which has been your most memorable vacation so far? Which is your dream destination? I would love to know!


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