Monday, December 28, 2015

Pickle and Plagiarism

It is that time of the year when I not only bottle up emotions from incidents that shook the year that passed by but also the spiciness and pungency of the seasons' blessings through the pickling process.

Preserve the extracts and pulp and discard the pith and skin, in both cases.

I will leave the philosophy and stick to just the pickling and the process.I always wonder why pickling makes me philosophical.Probably the hard work and the meditative concentration that it requires?

I am not a passionate cook and as such limit my time to the barest minimum in the kitchen. Is it any wonder that pickles that need just three ingredients and less than 30 minutes to be bottled up are the ones I make year after year?

Salt. Lemon juice.Turmeric powder. Green chillies. Red Chilli powder, optional.These are the only ingredients you will need for the kind of pickle I make.


I tried Turmeric pickle for the first time -both making and tasting. Apparently very popular in Gujarat.

Getting past preferences and acquiring a taste for this first timer in our kitchen required a lot of love.There was no dearth of it in this case as these were grown by us organically with our kitchen-waste -turned -into-compost.

The medicinal and nutrient value of this rhizome only made it easy.

Turmeric, as they say, cures the whole body and suits all body types ( vatha, pitha and kapha ) as per Ayurveda.

Wash, dry and remove the skin.Cut them into discs or smaller pieces.Add salt and enough lemon juice to cover the pieces.Adding slit Green Chillies is optional.

One may skip the turmeric powder for this!

Washing and cleaning the fresh turmeric left a rich stain of yellow on my palms and I simply loved it.

Turmeric pickle
That's the picture perfect Turmeric pickle. Honestly, I will need some time to say I love this pickle as much as the pickling process.

Mango Ginger or Maanga inji ( Curcura Amada )

An amazing rhizome that belongs to the ginger family but has the fragrance and pungency of raw mango.

Just wash, towel it dry, peel off the skin and cut it into discs.Add salt, turmeric powder and lemon juice that stays above all the pieces all through. It can't get simpler than that.

Some recipes require them to be cut it into smaller pieces.While some allow blending it cooking in oil ( thokku kind of pickle ) with spice powders.

But our loyalties are with this oil-free, minimally spiced version.

Mango Ginger
Green pepper corn

Follow the same process of washing and drying. Additionally, separate the peppercorns. Add salt, turmeric powder, slit green chillies and let them float in the lemon juice.

Green pepper corns

Mahani kizhangu ( Sarsaparilla)

Some call it Maagali too. A woody root with an aroma that some love while most others would take a sprint.

Mahali is an acquired taste. I find the flavour  intoxicating but some in my family think it smells like Mootai poochi marundhu .( Bed Bug Repellant smell)

Ditto. Wash, peel, dry. There will be a hard stalk in the middle of this root that you need to discard. Cut into small pieces, add salt, turmeric, cut pieces of lemon, slit green chillies.

I also add raw red Chilli powder to this for enhanced spiciness. And then it gets so spicy that we take out smaller quantities of this pickle add curd just before serving.

Left to myself I can have curd rice with this pickle for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And also as an inter-meal snack.

                                                             Maahaali kizhangu ( Sarsaparilla)

After all this pickling you end up with many lemon halves that are only half-squeezed if you are using the lemon squeezer. And it is best that way as it can get very bitter if you squeeze the lemon dry.

That leaves us with the ubiquitous by-product - lemon pickle.

Lemon Pickle 

Cut the halves of lemon into four pieces each, add salt and turmeric.Slit green chillies optional.

No need to add lemon juice to this.

We savour this sour lemon pickle as it is after 10-15 days when it becomes soft and salty.

However if you so wish you could give a tadka ( garnish) of mustard seeds in hot oil and switch off the stove. Add fenugreek powder and red chilli powder to the hot oil and pour this over the marinated lemons.

My kids love all these varieties except the newbie turmeric. And this blog post is primarily for them. After a decade or two, if they want to make it they would know exactly where to look for the recipe.


This blog post is special to me personally as it helped me nail down a plagiarist who had copied two of my blog posts verbatim with pictures also lifted from my blog.

I was googling for the botanical names for Mango ginger and Maahaali when I stumbled upon colourful pictures of pickles.One of the pictures with Maavadu or tender mangoes looked just like my photograph used in another blog post titled Maavadu Mahaatmiyam. Followed the page where it was used and landed in Jayanthi Santanaraman's blog on WordPress. I was shocked to find my blog post copied verbatim. Scrolling down, I found another of my post copied too.

After several messages on her blog coupled with private messaging on FB and with the support of my blogger, FB friends we got her to admit to this shameful act.
She reacted by deleting her blog as well as her FB account.
The episode left me drained and delayed this blog post but have no regrets exposing a plagiarist.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pining for that Pure note

There were times when a music review - unbiased and balanced at that would lead us to that musician's concert. The reviews of concerts these days are more promotional in nature and least educative, with most of them being lopsided with just போற்றி போற்றி ( Hail ) kind of comments.

Bias is easy to spot.

And then we have the other extreme that even goes to the extent of personally attacking the singer in a vulgar way.

Sadly even The Hindu carries such reviews during the season. Recently read one with a Chauvinistic and sexist undertone attacking the singer at a very personal level.

I have long since stopped reading these so called reviews that leave you none the wiser and are at best articles that strive to showcase the writing talent and expose their knowledge in Carnatic music or the lack of it. Most often the latter and it shows.

The digital age has given license to everyone to be a critic as most blogs/ pages are free to start. This has taken the musician bashing to a different level altogether.

As I pine for that pure note here are my thoughts and as such in no particular order.

  • Most often the ones who take the effort to write a review are the ardent fans of the individual musician. ( This falls under the போற்றி போற்றி ( Hail ) category ).
  • Obviously, there is going to be an apparent bias, or they are going to wink at the flaws for the love of music of that particular musician.
  • The second category is the professional journalist who writes as part of his/her  job, during the season and goes back to writing columns on Politics, Bollywood, Food and all post-December season. A generalist so to speak.
  • In this case, it is a job that most often lacks the technical knowledge and specialised skills required to review a Carnatic music performance critically. The passion and neutrality that the review needs are absent too most often. 
  • So either way, it fails to be an accurate review. At best it turns out to be a verbal or verbose narration of one's concert experience studded with flourishes associated with the Carnatic music and much cliched at that.
  •  Nothing wrong with that. I do this too as I am not technically qualified to review Carnatic music, but love to write about the melodic experience that a live concert offers, for the love of music and writing. But it just is a personal blog post and not to be confused with a concert review. Never.
  • The most counter-productive third category of reviews are the ones that are dipped in venom and bring out only negatives about musicians. These are most detrimental to this art form, and the artists' form.
  • The morale of so many young upcoming artists'  gets deflated by this mindless category who are  otherwise receptive to constructive feedback.
  • All these leave a big void where constructive, neutral, unbiased analysis of Music is concerned.
  • The younger generation of musicians and rasikas need a balanced review to hone their skills as singers and to appreciate music better as listeners.
  • Unless this happens, quality of music cannot be sustained over time.
  • Which is why we see such vagaries in standards of music. Bad ones getting a prime slot/ stage and good ones not getting the right platform.
  • Now comes the pertinent Q. Is a good singer, famous and popular ready to take an honest feedback that may not be positive? Is the ardent fan ready for a candid review?
  • The rasikas who love a particular musician are also in a way tongue-tied to speak the truth at all times? For whatever reasons best known to them.
  • Wouldn't it be great to have a panel of critics, reviewers who have to pass a qualifying test to be even able to review a performance and publish Consolidated review based on a preset rubrics as a panel?
  • Or Imagine this. Upcoming artistes inviting leading musicians for their concert with a request to review it at the end while senior players beckon other musicians of same standing to analyse their music threadbare.It would be so healthy to have such an atmosphere, is it not?
  • I am sure this will help upcoming artists and complacent seniors alike.
  • Let random individuals continue to write about music using their new found freedom in Social media much to the annoyance of fundamentalists, which will whither away over time with structured, knowledgeable reviews taking over.
  • Personally, I look forward to not just good cutcheris but also balanced reviews that help choose newer artists, apart from aiding better appreciation and analysis of this art form as a mere Rasika.
  • To Subbu'do' or Subbu'don't'? Or is there a middle path?

I long for an analytical, constructive, informative review of concerts from a specialist that would sound like a MDR kedaram with restricted gamakams,
(read: verbal flourishes ) and laden with pure notes ( read: purely about the music and nothing else ).

Gamakkams may be the Hall-mark of Carnatic music, but a pure note style paves the way for a peaceful and pleasing auditory experience.

Listen to this MDR Kedaram,to understand my pining for the pure note style in concerts and also concert reviews . 

Credits :
Subbu'do' / Subbu'don't' word credits to The Internet and other bloggers.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Soothing elevator music.Subtle, unobtrusive fragrance in the air.Everyone is quietly going about their work tip-toeing.Mouth covered. Hands gloved.

The sterile ,stainless steely environ makes my stomach an acid factory.

An assistant tried to get me into the treatment chair from the waiting lounge.But I wouldn't budge that easily. I asked to see and talk to the chosen one for me before I even got up from the chair. After all, it is a relationship that may have to last a while, and I needed to see the person before I said "Ï do".

The knowledge and comfort of living in a free country did little  to control the subconscious imagination of being dragged on my feet up to something that vaguely resembled an easy chair with the most uneasy looking contraptions.

As  I waited, all possible excuses were queuing up.

"I think I kept milk on the stove and forgot to turn off the gas ",
"I think I locked my husband in the bathroom by mistake "
"someone may be  calling me on my landline for an emergency ",
"I feel like throwing up", This has to work or,
"Oh, I just forgot to brush my teeth today."

Anything.Just anything to run away from that place.

But I have already used most of these excuses in the previous two appointments, except the husband locking idea. Today's brain wave. Good one, no?

And it was the same lady on duty that day. Though I heard, she is seriously looking for other jobs.

So I decided to be frank and admitted that I was simply not ready yet. And the chosen one came out just then and said he would just take a look and not do anything Jaw dropping or tooth breaking.

Believing, I followed him and stood by that Easy Chair like thingy. I was asked to sit which I did very hesitantly.On the edge, ready to run at the slightest hint of an upcoming dental drill.

The young doctor was amused as it was the first time for him with my appointment. While the other two consultants who have been through this with me in the last two appointments tried their best to concentrate on their clients with a smirk. I am sure they had a bet with this gentleman who was attending on me.

By now I was resigned to fate, and all known prayers in different languages started coming out jumbled.

The climax began..with the young dentist explaining the procedure while I insisted on seeing what goes into my mouth. If he was irritated, he was well trained in the finishing school and never showed it. As for me, I could not care less, my life,safety was a top priority. Never mind a few subtle and many not-so-subtle insults.

I was instructed to lift my left hand in case I felt any discomfort, but I bargained for any hand -knowing my sense of direction especially when in a petrified condition.

I decided to close my eyes and imagine being in a beautiful green meadow.But it never went anywhere beyond closing the eyes with every cling and clang of those tinkering tools. And both my hands were in a state of readiness to be lifted in case of an impending danger.

Fifteen minutes into the jaw-dropping procedure with half closed eyes and hands floating in the air was surprised that there was no pain.

I opened my eyes and saw the young man readying an injection syringe just then explaining that he was inspecting the site for reconstruction all this while, and this was the real beginning.

I lost it then. I needed a bio-break and told him so. He had to let me go knowing fully well I was not going to come back. We had developed such perfect chemistry by then to understand each unspoken word.

I apologised to the lady at the front desk unable to contain my happiness at having escaped this ordeal and asked for another appointment.

I was not surprised that she said " We will let you know ". Time to check out a new dentist .Still have a list of 3-4 of them before I exhaust all of them in the immediate neighbourhood.

I brought this misery upon myself. I promised to myself to be extra careful while devouring Verkadalai urundai,( groundnut chikki's) especially while negotiating it with the crowned side of my mouth.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Story of my Selfie

Let me assure you this is not a condescending post on the Psychology of Selfies. After all, I am no exception when it comes to posting  my best face forward, So!

I am all restraint with a promise not to utter a word about duck face or pout.(Well, at least not in this post.)

I remember the days when lights were switched off to avoid the glare as I stood in front of the mirror in an awkward angle, twisting my arm to the point of breaking it, trying to hold the Kodak camera away from the mirror to click a picture.

Only they turned out quite "selfless" as I would be nowhere in the final picture.

Kids these days just do not know how hard our life was without over-smart  Phones.

And the romantic picture from our honeymoon days - where we turned the camera viewer to face us and clicked a perfect picture.The threat of divorce from DH forbids me from sharing that though I bullied my way into sharing this detail.

Picture this. All the family members take a position and the chosen one to click the button sets the timer and nearly trips over the tripod to join the group just in time for the Felfie? ( Family selfie )

That leads me to the classic scene depicting this in the movie Salangai Oli with the ravishing Jayaprada and my (then) heartthrob Kamal Hassan.

Here is the link to that riveting scene for those of you who haven't watched and for those of you who will be compelled to watch it again.

Only back then they were not called selfies though It has always been part of our egosystem.

Enter the days of Profile and Display pictures. Easily taken care by two enthusiastic tweens who volunteered to take pictures of their mom out of curiosity to handle the gadget, lest you imagine it to be for any other deep consideration.

As I got bored with the PP's and DP's  my  tweens'  curiosity shifted to other gadgets and would turn down my photo shoot requests with apathy.

No amount of cajoling would work. The only option left was to ask my DH. This, despite an album full of pictures with various angles of his left middle and ring finger trying to focus and get my face into the frame.

This arrangement worked for a while amidst high drama and nasty fights. One in a hundred click would yield that picture that I approved while he swears never to be drawn into this ordeal again. And of course, the family was divided with both my offsprings on his side.

We continued to live happily.Not ever after, though.

In one such recent drama that almost culminated in a battle, DH muttered his rhetoric "Last time " and nonchalantly clicked a picture of mine.

Lo and behold! It wasn't his left thumb or index finger this time but turned out to be his selfie!

That defining moment, I decided not to resort to begging, cajoling, bribing anyone for a click.

There is this Tamizh adage " Than kaiye thanakku udavi " which roughly translates to " Rely on your own hands for any help ", or  "Believe in your own Selfie" in modern parlance.

I convinced myself about selfies being legit with context and in moderation.

My family has unanimously decided on a selfie stick as a gift for this progress into selfiedom while they rejoice in their retrieved freedom.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Face "booked"

"Such a waste of time."
"Wonder how they have so much time?"
"Oh, she is all the time on FB."
"It is such a stupid thing."
"All they do is post selfies."
"Who wants to know what she cooked today ?"
"Vacation  pictures, not again."

Heard any or all of these from folks who are not on FB for whatever reasons best known to them?

To be fair to the FB haters, one has to accept that it is a narcissistic world out there on any social media-particularly FB.

Not any different from our offline life I would think.

On any typical day, FB news feed would tell you that -,
- many people had coffee,
- some had a  headache too with coffee,
- some partied with old friends,
- a few lament about the empty nest syndrome,
- while a handful would wish their children or husband on FB for their milestone birthdays and anniversaries  ( never mind if they happen to live under the same roof within earshot),
- 3 % of them who are  hungry for more readers  share their blog posts ( no reward for guessing the person here!),
- 10-16 of them sharing 'gyaan' from beloved aunty acid,
- 4 of them trying to get rid of their earworms by letting it out as a status update.
- The rest of them fall prey to FB's mindless prompts and share whatever is on their mind.

As cliched as it may sound, To each his/her own. Can anyone vouch that their off- line life is perfect by staying away from FB? I mean is it devoid of gossip, procrastination, etcetera?

Social media - particularly FB is a necessary advancement in communication and networking while not all of it is evil, though. And no garden is complete without weeds.

While a percentage of posts may be utterly boring, attention-seeking rhetoric, do they even know what a great wealth of knowledge gets shared in meaningful groups and forums on FB right from
Arts, baking, Classical music,Dance forms, English grammar, Food, Gardening,Hindi film songs, Krav Maga defence, Literature,Personal safety, Quilling art, humour ,Poetry..

The list is endless for the seekers while the skimmers lose out by  keeping away.

Personally I have immensely benefitted from my 25k strong gardening group without which my garden wouldn't be.

The Carnatic music forum with a 7k plus membership and online radio with a vintage cutchery on most days sitting in the comfort of your home and home wear, without having to wade through the traffic.
A live concert is real, no doubt. But listening to your favorite artist online, without  the distractions of your neighbour humming, the whiff of jasmine fragrance, or the stunning saree combination of the lady in the third row, fourth seat - is a peace generating experience altogether. And dinner gets done too, alongside.

The old Hindi film song group that is my "go to" page to bring back memories with a lingering smile, where one song leads to another, and I get caught in an ecstatic loop.

The knowledge and awareness gained from pages that work for a cause, be it Waste Management, Child sexual abuse far outweigh the benefits of remaining off-line.

At the cost of sounding preachy I would say it is all about prioritising and time management. Who are we to judge anybody's priorities or time management?

(Exercised my choice to transform a retort into a blog post and share it on Facebook, when I was at the receiving end of one such verdict from a FaceBook hater! ) 

Friday, July 10, 2015

பாட்டியின் கை மணம்

கடலை மாவு கறி ..

எங்கள் பாட்டி நாக்பூரில் சில வருடங்கள் இருந்த போது தெரிந்து கொண்ட ரெசிபி இந்த கடலை மாவு கறி.

ஆர்பாட்டம், அமளி இல்லாது  மிகவும்  சுலபமாக செய்யகூடியது . ருசியிலோ அலாதியானது .என்னை போல், சமையல் செய்வதிலிருந்து  எப்படி, எப்போது  தப்பிக்கலாம் என்ற யோசனையிலேயே ( அதுவும் பசியோடு !) காலம் கடத்துவோருக்கு ஏற்ற கச்சிதமான ரெசிபி.

பாட்டியின் கை மணம் அப்படியே வரவேண்டும் என்றால் சுமார் அரை லிட்டர் ரீபைண்டு  எண்ணை தேவை படும். அந்த தைரியம் இருந்தால் மேலே படிக்கவும்!

-- கடலை மாவு ஒரு பெரிய கப் அளவு 
-- மிகவும் பொடிதாக நறுக்கிய வெங்காயம் - 5 அல்லது 6
-- 7-8  பச்சை மிளகாய் - ருசியும் காரமும் கை கோர்த்து விளையாடும் போது கண்ணில்         கண்ணீரும் கையில் தண்ணீரும் தவிர்க்க முடியாது .
-- தேவைக்கு சற்றே அதிகமான அளவு எண்ணை ( மாதம் முதல் தேதிகளில் மட்டுமே இதை பாட்டி பண்ணும் ரகசியம் இப்போதுதான் புரிகிறது)
-- தேவைக்கு ஏற்ற உப்பு 
-- தாளிக்க கடுகு, உளுத்தம் பருப்பு , கவலையே படாமல் எல்லோரும் தூக்கி ஏறிய போகும் கருவேப்பிலை கொஞ்சம் .

அடுப்பில் இலுப்பை சட்டி( நான்-ஸ்டிக் கடாய் எல்லாம் இந்த கறிக்கு உதவாது ) காயும்  போது  அதிகப்படி எண்ணையில் பாதியை விட்டு கடுகு ,உளுந்து , 'அந்த" கருவேப்பிலை போட்டு சட சடவென  தாளிக்கும் ஓசையிலும் ,வாசத்திலும் மைய் மறந்து போய் கருகவிடாமல் ,பச்சை மிளகாய் ,பொடியாய் நறுக்கிய வெங்காயத்தை போட்டு தேவைக்கேற்ற உப்பையும் போட்டு வதக்கவும்.

வெங்காயம்  இளஞ்சிவப்பு நிறமாக மாறும். கம கம வாசனையில் பசி மிஞ்சி போகும்.அப்போது சட்டென்று மொத்த கடலை மாவையும் பரவலாக தூவி கிளறவும் . இப்போதுதான் உள்ளே நுழைந்த கடலை மாவை வரவேற்க இன்னும் கொஞ்சம் எண்ணை விடவும்.

மறுபடியும் எண்ணை விடவும்.விட்டுக்கொண்டே இருக்கவும்.

கை வலிக்கும் வரை கிளறிக்கொண்டே இருந்தோமேயானால் நமக்கு வாழ்க்கை பட்டவர் கண்டிப்பாக கடலை மாவு கறி வாசம் ஈர்க்க சமையல் அறை பக்கம் வரலாம்.மெட்ராஸ் மழை போல் வராமலும் போகலாம் .ஒரு ஓலம் அல்லது கூக்குரல் போட்டால் குடும்பமே வந்து விடும் .அப்புறம் என்ன ? கரண்டி கைமாற நன்றாக கிளற பயிற்சி கொடுத்தால் , மழைக்காலத்தில் மைசூர் பாக் கிளற உதவும்!

மணல் மணலாய் வரும் வரை கிளற சொல்லி பெரிய நன்றியும் சுட சுட நாலு பூரியும் தட்டில் வைத்து கொடுத்து பரிமாறவும்.

அவ்வளவேதான் பாட்டி பண்ணும் கடலை மாவு கறி. 

வேண்டுமென்றால் சிறிது ஓமம் சேர்க்கலாம். குடைமிளகாயும் சேர்க்கலாம். ஆனால் அதெல்லாம் ப்ஹு ஷன்  மியூசிக் மாதிரி.

ஒரிஜினல் ரொம்போ சிம்பிள் . ரயில் பயணங்களுக்கு சப்பாத்தியுடன் மிகவும் ideal என்று பாட் டி சொன்ன ஞாபகம் ....

மேலும் மேலும் பழைய ஞாபகங்கள் ...கடலை மாவு கறியுடன் அசை போட .........

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A mother's note to her child -A pledge

The journey began when I saw your wrinkled skin and creased forehead.My love for you knew no bounds. Deeper than the deepest sea and wider than the vast blue sky.I realised that my heart is made of jelly and could accommodate more and more love for you with each passing day.
You scattered your toys just after a clean up when an ounce more of love seeped into my heart.
You were in your terrible two's on a tantrum-filled day when you dunked ketchup on my favourite outfit.The jelly heart flexed a little more and took in two more ounces of love.
You were five, and I was furious when you rolled all over the supermarket floor when I refused to buy a green coloured toxic looking candy.My heart bulged with an ounce more of love.
Were you nine or ten when you screamed at me obnoxiously in a social gathering? I knew you needed a few more ounces of my love that day.
Many more ounces were added to the love that was deeper than the deepest oceans and wider than the vast blue skies when you slammed the door on my face or burnt your clothes in anger while ironing.
Those incremental ounces of love made a difference every time.My ever-elastic and jelly-like heart will be filled with oodles of love for you when you do something that hurts you or me out of ignorance or lack of positive reinforcements.


if and  when you bully another child

if and when you fail to give respect where it is due

if and when you show road rage or honk mindlessly

if and when you break any law

if and when you disrespect a woman's body

if and when you commit a crime because no one is watching, say 'hit and run.'

if and when your behaviour spells impropriety or solecism,

As a mother, I will continue to love you, but my motherhood will direct the extra ounces of love to anyone hurt by your action. And that will turn the jelly heart into a solid, impermeable steel ball. It is about the alchemy of motherhood.

Steel balls don't turn back into jelly, unfortunately.

Your choice entirely - An expanding Jelly-like heart or a hardened steel ball.

With love

Amma (who wishes for an eternal jelly-like  heart)

Dedicated to all the mothers out there including the ones whose children are out on bail or inside the Jail by mistake of law or fact.

This post was triggered by a famous film personality in India, getting away with a murder.Wondering what would his mothers' thoughts and feelings be ...

Monkey Mommy !

Markata Bhakti and Marjala Bhakti are two ways of surrendering to God. The Cat and Monkey Theology.

Markata Bhakti or surrender is akin to a Monkey baby holding on to his mother while the mother swings from branch to branch. The baby monkey swings along holding ever so tightly to its mom.

One holds on to God in this type of bhakti.The safety of the baby/devotee is dependent on the baby monkey's /devotees abilities to hang on.

Marjala Bhakti or surrender refers to the mother Cat holding the baby by its neck with its mouth. The baby is taken care of by the mother.This form of bhakti is all about complete surrender.The safety of the baby/devotee rests with the mother/Almighty whose abilities are unquestionable.

Intrigued by this analogy,  extrapolated it to a Mother's role.

I  narrated my thoughts, theology to my children, knowing fully well what was coming. Read on.

Daughter: Amma, are you a Cat or Monkey?

I: You tell me?

Daughter: Monkey when the  decision is ours, and you say  " Face the consequences" and Catty when you say "these are non-negotiable."

A good teacher is someone who becomes progressively unnecessary and so would raise kids on an auto-cruise or  Monkey mode.

The Cat style works best until a certain age when they cannot comprehend or take responsibility for the consequences.

Monkeying around, being Catty - the roles that a mother has to play!

However, I would take on a Cat's guise as a devotee.Complete surrender is certainly an easier option for the believer.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I Was truly inspired by Deepika Padukone's disclosure about how she emerged victorious from her Depression. A courageous and bold step. Not many can keep depression at bay. Not many survivors can speak about it openly.

Here I go. Emboldened by her spirit.

There is a swirl of  thoughts ( mostly negative ) about our present education system and my personal trauma.Math and I were a classic case of Strict inequality.

Even three  decades after passing middle school I still get up traumatised and terrified by dreams about exams. Particularly Math exam. The dreams, Nightmares  in which I go prepared for a Language paper, and it turns out to be Math exam that day, are the scariest.

That it was  only a dream is a feeling - nonpareil! Wouldn't trade that feeling for a googol of wealth.

Mathematics -my biggest fear then. And my biggest fear now.  Add to this the fear of water, heights, cooking, cleaning and all, which pale in intensity when compared to this monster that is called  Mathematics.

Having siblings who always scored 100% and stood first in all their  school and college exams, who passed out with Gold Medals, made things worse for me and mathematics.

I remember praying to all known Hindu deities to give me Fever or at least Madras Eye or a minor bloodless injury -  before Math exams. Anything, any  debilitating disease which would help me get away with the Math exam.

My prayers were not denied. Only delayed.Invariably they were answered on the last day of the exam.

Yes. I was a victim of Mathematics and our education system . ( do not miss the past tense and the  pun.). As a Survivor today, these are my thoughts.

Why are we forced to study something which has no practical application in real life? I do not  remember a single instance in real life where I even used the word Calculus except may be at the Dentists'. Forget about its application in a mere mortal's life.

That fire spitting monstrous Dragon - Calculus. It never became an Integral part of my school life and was the primary cause of my Differential achievements in school.I turned out just fine.

Why can't we leave it for   the passionate ones and those interested in research or higher studies which require that level of Math?

Why should a person who is passionate about Geography, Liberal Arts, Humanities be tested at the same level  as the one who wants to become an engineer, or do post graduation  in Maths?

Something is not alright with this system. Basic Math is a critical and  essential  life skill. No doubt about that. Say up to 8th grade.

After which, there should be various tiers or levels of Math offered to  suit the pupil's  interest ( read: love or hate ), future academic and career goals.

Pic.courtesy : Internet.

Jiddu Krishnamurthy's  thoughts and opinions on education have greatly influenced me. Profound, futuristic and nonconformist  to many .While there are a  few  schools run based on his philosophy, wonder why there aren't enough and many schools based on his school of thought.

The current trend  as I see ...

If it is music, the goal is to go onstage within a short span and never real  learning or  enjoying the learning process.
If it is sports, it is always the medals and never the sportsmanship.
If it is schooling it is always about grades and qualification  and never about education.
If it is about life, then success in monetary terms and the model of your car, your possessions  and never about Living.

My heart goes out to all those children having to go through this ordeal. A good case in point is the recently concluded 12th-grade exams by the CBSE board that  has left many children drained of their confidence. Apparently the question paper turned out very HOT with majority questions based on HOTS .( Higher Order Thinking Skills ).

Heard all the arguments for and against that paper which left many children in tears.

The happy ones were those  who were gearing  for higher studies in Engineering who  therefore trained for competitive exams outside school at specialised coaching factories.

Needless to say, it was  of a much higher standard than the CBSE 12th-grade curriculum.
Not a level playing ground.And again something very wrong with a pronounced incongruence in the level of teaching and the level of testing.

Those who had taken the Commerce, Accountancy with mathematics suffered the most along with those who had not aspired to become engineers and therefore had not done the extra courses of a much higher order.

Double jeopardy.

Do you get where I am coming from, friends? Why should a student who does not require a high standard of Math to pursue his further education go  through the same grind as a student aspiring to become  an Engineer or aiming for a  Ph.D. in Mathematics?

Not fair at all. It is not about the ability to cope that is the issue here. It is more about the interest, passion for  a subject.

I managed to come out with flying colours in all the milestone examinations, but the trauma I endured is beyond words.

Today after 'feeling' successful and happy from within doing what I do, I have no qualms saying " I am a survivor of Mathematics". And this revelation is very liberating as  I never let Math define me.
And, success as I define. Not what the society decides as a  norm.

This note is more of a rant, but your takeaway could be a positive message to know that there is a system error in our education and curriculum design and that no individual need feel inadequate.
Do not continue to be the Fish, which is made to climb the tree to prove its mettle.

Follow your dreams and passion. You will not only reach your destination unscathed, but would have enjoyed the journey too!

Yours arbitrarily,
"A survivor of Mathematics."

Corollary :

Have quite a few math genius friends. And I am in awe of them. Believe me when I say "I  am not a Math hater". Just wish I had a choice then.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Of Turmeric Threads and Tailor Trauma's ..

Karadaiyaan Nonbu (காரடையான்  நோன்பு )

உருகாத வெண்ணையும்  ஓர் அடையும் செய்து  நோன்பு  நூற்றேன் .
ஒரு  நாளும் என் கணவன் எனை  விட்டு பிரியா வரம் வேண்டும் .

Urugaatha vennayum oradaiyum seithu nonbu nootren
oru naalum en knavan enai vittu piriyaa varam vendum !

That is the transliteration of the prayer we say on this day every year praying for our life partner's health and longevity. Needless to say this is done by women praying for their husbands also called the Savithri viratham .

Legend has it that Savithri wife of Sathyavaan prayed, pleaded with Yama and got back his life . While at it,in the forest she made "mud cakes " and offered it to the gods  to reclaim her husbands'

Typically women make a dish called "adai" -( the jaggery variety almost looks like the mud cake that Savithi made ,according to my brats ) salt and sweet varieties and tie a sacred  thread ,dipped in turmeric around their neck on this day.

Little girls and young unmarried ladies also are drawn into these rituals. I still remember arguing as a child , about having to pray for the longevity of an unknown, non-existent person. We were  convinced by our grandmother that if we did this ritual,we would end up with a very good life partner - husband .

The adai's were tasty and were dished out with a dollop of butter , so it didn't seem like a bad idea at all .

So, we continued to pray for our future husband as little girls -trying to hide the yellow thread inside the Uniform collar . As young unmarried ladies, we continued to fall in line - taking off the thread once we step out of home and wearing it back when we entered  home .

Thankfully we were allowed to drop it off in a plant ( Tulasi , ofcourse !) after 3 days .

In retrospect ,so many years of praying ,however reluctantly, seems  to have paid off  with a DH who not only understands the point of view ,but  appreciates the fact that it is perfectly alright if a wife doesn't  fathom falling at another human's feet , even if it were the husband, the 'boon', that she got after years of praying and gorging the adais with butter while struggling to hide the yellow thread all the while .

So, as a married woman with renewed  faith in this ritual we continue to do what our elders did ..The adais , the prayers and passing on the same logic to our little girls .

Hmm.. If  only there was a similar prayer and ritual that can get us a good tailor and get over tailor trauma's. Sigh. 

Here is my prayer for that boon 

சரியான அளவும் , சிறிதும்  பேரம் பேசாது  கூலியும் கொடுப்பேன்..
ஆடைகளை கூட்டி  குறைக்காமல் ,  என் எடை கூடு முன் தைத்து  கொடுக்கும் தையல் காரர்  வாய்க்க வரம் வேண்டும் !

Transliterated here ..Sariyaana alavum , sirithum beram pesaathu kooliyum kodupen. kooti kuraikaamal aadaigalai ,en  yedai koodumun thaithu kodukkum thaiyal kaarar vaikka varam vendum "

Wondering , which god this must be addressed to and  what 'adai ' to be made .With Butter.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My mother taught me never to lie !

I cannot  say  "It is okay , when it is not "
Crude may be. But that's okay.

I cannot  say " It was not your fault , when actually it was "
Much to everyone's chagrin . But that's not my fault.

I cannot  let go when someone jumps the queue .
'Ue' doesn't jostle up 'Ue' to get into the Q-u-e-u-e ! And So I was taught to always fall in line .

I cannot  move on when I see an atrocity .
So what if affability is not my middle name ?

I cannot agree that chivalry and politeness are synonymous.
Chivalry is condescending . Politeness is comforting.

I cannot  fit myself to moulds formed to  societal norms .
Because my mother taught me never to lie.

( Dedicated to my Children  S & S !)