Coorg’s magic..

It is not often that one picks up a book that wreaks havoc with ones senses and leaves one nostalgic beyond words.These are the same books that evoke such a strong visual imagery, paint such beautiful pictures in your mind’s eye that you start digging into the recesses of your memory of your visit to that place. Sarita Mandana’s Tiger hills ,set in the stunning Coorg , took me back in time (a little over a year ago) when I discovered and fell in love with the place. Mandana’s words weaves magic that one can almost smell the heady aroma of wet febrile earth; feel the nippy, chill mountain air that raises goosebumps on one’s arm and literally feast upon the green canopy that covers the region. A few hundred pages into the book, I had to go look at the pictures we took from our trip to Coorg. Honestly, very few books have evoked such strong feelings in me for the places they are set in.

The book is just awesome (a five star after a long time 🙂 !) Anyway , the purpose of this post is not to rave about Mandana’s book, but to share with you some  snapshots of  Coorg that we took during our visit.This place is truly mother nature at her ravishing best..Our only regrets were that we couldn’t trek much , nor spend  time at the Nagharhole sanctuary. But then , I am sure we’ll go back there in a few years..:-)

Beautiful,eh? The water was so refreshing!

The famed Coorg Coffee beans
The paddy fields right opposite to our homestay.Lush, Lush ,Lush..

Beautiful flowers in bloom,right outside the house
The place was teeming with all kinds of insects and fauna.. 
 Mercara town(capital of  Coorg. Now called Madikeri)
The homestay is in the middle of a coffee estate.This house is more than 150  years old
Our geyser! This was how we got out hot water…

So have you been to Coorg? Ever felt connected to a place after visiting it just once ? Or have you read a book and started pining for the place it is set in?  

Bling your photos..

Got some stickers,paper,loads of photos ,punches, an old desktop calendar and embellishments at hand? You can create a calendar that’ll make a perfect personalized gift for your loved ones.. I saw this idea on one of the paper craft blogs I follow and wanted to make one myself.

Edit :The inspiration was from this post

My new-found obsession for all things crafty(especially paper crafts) spurred me on as I sat during wee hours of the morning snipping paper and pasting miniscule embellies on the calendar.

The first layout is for Jan and the least blingiest of all the months. I don’t think I am a huge fan of bling ,but my mother thought that bling would make the calender more festive…

And some more..

Yeah,the girl in the black and white photo is me :-).Many moons ago..

I can’t cut anything in a straight line-so most of my layouts turned out like leaning tower (s)of Pisa. I also went berserk with embellies,which makes some layouts look cluttered and will make sure that I go in for more streamlined layouts next time. I used the base calender from a DIY kit from Papermania that came with the dates.You can create a date layout on word and take print-outs. Also , for the first 3-4 layouts,I stuck the calender dates sheet on the calendar itself.For the subsequent months,I pinned up the date sheet, so that you don’t have to put away your calendar next year. Just change and date sheet and your 2012 calendar will be ready.

Do try this out!.Apart from the fun you’ll have doing the project(I did mine with my mom ),it’s also a great way to flex those creative muscles that have gone limp because of non-use 🙂 and a wonderful opportunity to bring out those sepia-tinted photos that you have long forgotten about..Happy crafting !

Santa Comes into town..Yay!!

I’ve been a good girl this year it seems and Santa’s made an advance visit down my chimney. And I am sooper happy with Santa’s gifts this year. I have always had a fascination for Santa Claus and wanted to have a Christmas tree at home when I was growing up. At school, we used to play this game called Christ ma –Christ child and wrote anonymous letters to each other all through December, sneaking in letters when our assigned Christ child wasn’t looking on. Finally,the month -long letter writing culminated in exchange of gifts. My first gift was a yummy smelling Mr Clean Watermelon rubber that I refused to use for many,many years.Something about giving and receiving gifts brings out the child in me. Maybe,we should have Christmas all year around 🙂

This year I signed up for Book Blogger’s holiday swap and Santa’s spirit lives on. A few days back, a parcel arrived for me from Gurgaon and I’ve been jumping around and grinning like a deranged monkey. Or should I say a Cheshire cat? Without further ado, let me show you the goodies that Santa Misha sent me.

Lovely,eh?.I have wanted to read The book Thief forever. And I love the lovely jewelery and the cheery,cute card she sent me.

I caught you straining to get a better look at the jewelry.Here’s a close-up 🙂

Pretty stuff,no?.Misha,You are a sweetheart!.

Misha blogs here and her blog is an absolute delight for bookworms. here are tons of author interviews,blog book tours,challenges and reviews. A true-blue book-addict, this girl. No wonder her blog is appropriately named “My Love affair with Books”.

Do hop over to her space and check out her posts.

A few more Santas sent me some more goodies last week.Reviews of the two books coming up soon.Did i hear a few groans? 😉

Have fun guys and spread the cheer around.Happy holidays!.

Blast from the past..

When other children my age were busy trawling the neighborhood and indulging in games of hopskotch,“four corners” and “lock and key” on a gloriously sunny days,I amused myself with the books of every size and shape.My mother’s pleas to get out more and play with “normal” kids most often fell on deaf ears as I remained buried in my favorite books.There was never paucity of books to keep myself occupied with as dad is a book lover himself and our shelves always bulged with books which I lapped up with wide-eyed fascination.These were mostly books for grown-ups ,but that started a habit that I am thankful for. Books were my sanctuary -my private little secret garden I could escape into and be what I wanted.I could be a fairy,a princess or even a one-eyed monster if I wanted.

During summer holidays every year, dad used to take me to the Landmark book store and let me prowl the aisles of the shop.My heart almost always lept (still does) at the sight of all the books stacked neatly in front of me.During one of the trips to the store(this should have been at least 22 years back),I set my eyes upon a collection of Illustrated Classics.The compact pocket size books were neatly shrink-wrapped and sat alluringly on the shelves,beckoning me pick them up.As I ran my fingers over the shrink-wrap, I felt a strange feeling gripping me- I wanted to touch the books with my bare hands.

The titles that were in the collection: Little women,Black beauty,20,000 leagues under the sea,Kidnapped , The Wizard of oz, Around the world in eighty days,Heidi,The adventures of Robinson Crusoe,A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court,Three musketeers,Sherlock Holmes and the case of hound of Baskervilles and Treasure Island. But one look at the price got me misty eyed- it was way to expensive. An assistant caught me looking longingly at the books and whispered conspiratorially “ Every other page is an illustration. It is selling like hot cake-only three more left.”

I decided that minute that I had to have it and thus started a love affair.

As I gazed at books, the red, pink, blue, violet, yellow inks of the shiny book covers merged into a hazy cauldron of colors, leaving me week-kneed and breathless with anticipation. A messily executed tantrum later,I was the proud owner of 12 books.It was the first set of books that I can truly call my own and I was proud of my new acquisition.My folks tell me that I wiped the books clean every week with a dry cloth and even fiercely guarded it from my little brother,who was a toddler at that time.I remember not letting my cousins and friends if their hands were dirty .

In the years that followed, taking the book out of the glass cupboard and re-reading them with friends was almost a weekly ritual. I routinely escaped the mundaneness of school curriculum by secretly slipping the books between the covers of my science and maths textbooks.I got caught several times and that was probably when my parents realised that their daughter wasn’t going to grow up into the next Ramanujam.

Sometime later, a bunch of us at school decided to have a library and circulate our books.I don’t remember what made me sign up, but I did.Everything went smoothly for a few months and then I realised that some of my books had disappeared from circulation.I couldn’t trace the person that had borrowed the books because the entry register disappeared as well ,mysteriously. Five of the books from that collection disappeared into a blackhole and I remember crying over the loss for days. I went back to landmark to replace the books-but could never find another set again with all the books again.Over the years, I have acquired the titles I lost, but these were normal paperback versions. That day I made a decision never to part with the rest of the books EVER.I balk and refuse if someone asks me if they could borrow them.

Over the next 15 years, I moved 4 times for college and work and every time the books traveled with me, across land and seas, cloaked in my mother’s old sari. Whenever I missed my family, I whipped the books out and got lost in the worlds of Jules Verne or Louisa Mary Alcott or the other authors.I almost always cheered up after thumbing through the familiar pages filled with illustrations. And then there was that sweet ester-y smell that I loved burying my nose into.As the books get older,the sweeter they smell- like old wine tasting better then freshly made one.

Currently, the remaining seven books sit on my shelf, yellowing with dignity and age. Sometimes when I open a book, loose pages fall down and the paper crumbles at times in my hand, but I know that I’ll hold on to these pieces of my past as long as I can.I can’t think of lending them out to anyone, considering how fragile they are.I treat the books like some favorite great grand aunt who cant gallivant around the world with her aching knees and joints.

Someday, when I have children, the books will become part of their collection- a blast from their mother’s past, which I hope they will love and treasure as much as I do. Till then, I will amuse myself and re-read these books for the hundredth time.When I think about the five books I lost,I still feel guilty and sad.Sometimes I wonder where they are- in some raddi shop,rotting unloved or if they have been crushed into pulp and recycled into something new and shiny or if they are amidst book-lovers who treasure them. Where ever they are, I’ll miss them!. And this makes me hold on to the rest with fierce determination and resolve.

PS: The photo shows only 6 books,but there is another one safe with me that i missed out.(The wizard of Oz).My camera’s conked off ,so i couldn’t take another pic.

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The Malalankey poem

For some strange reason,I have been belting out this silly limerick for the last few days.Sample the piece that has been tormenting me ..

I Willilish I Walalash in a malalankey Lalaland
The lalaland whelalare I walalash Bololon
The malalankey Kililish melalee on malalay cheelilick
And salalaid goodlalabye for lololong…

What it really means is…

I wish i was in monkey land
The land where i was born
The monkey kissed me on my cheek
And said goodbye for long..

It definitely is one of the most perplexing ,silly little poems i have heard..Why would a monkey want to kiss you on your cheek and say goodbye?..Still i keep humming it.And the best part is that it makes me grin every time i say it out loud..its the simplest forms of time travel for me..Takes me back in time into my childhood when at school we used to sing the poem and giggle uncontrollably in physics classes..Do you have some silly little piece that amuses you and makes you want to chuckle like a carefree three-year-old?

Sunshine’s out,yeah,yeah !!

oh yeah .. am back.. contemplation is for losers..why bother?? ..anyways, i have this habit of spinning/imagining exotic stories about people i don’t know too well ..Not that i don’t enjoy spinning stories about myself.. i do that too .. a lot !!.. when i was in school i vaguely remember telling kids every year that my dad was getting transferred to some foreign country.. Ok,every year it was a different place.. Canary Island(i have no clue how i knew about this place when i was 10,but i did!),New zealand,Australia .. the list was just so long .. Whenever i changed schools, which was quite often,it was time for the yarn to be out .. and i would spin stories to that could put weavers to shame .. i am amazed how some of those girls i spun such stories to, are decent friends today.. they must have thought that i was a certified weirdo ..

I am fairly ashamed(!!)of myself of being a borderline Voyeur.. ok ,in a way i was .. which sane person imagines weird stories about people they barely knew?…i would wonder about their lives ,relationships,what they wore at home,what shows they watched and weird stuff like that .. when i was a kid the stories obviously were a lot more they r slightly boring and by an adult imagination..

Once, a cousin and I called ourselves investigators(we had business cards and the works !!)and went around the neighborhood trying to trace a local cleaner who stopped coming to our house to take out the garbage,one fine day.We named her Neelu posi which means water is flowing(i think!) in Telugu..we named her that cos her standard opening line to everyone was .. you guessed it .. Neelu posi !. .. We thought that someone had murdered her… There were so many wild theories we had for her disappearance.. We somehow forgot to think of the fact that the lady was well over 70 and her disappearance could simply have been a case of relocation to another part of town or simply death due to old age… We never found what happened to Neelu posi(We were such sad investigators!!) and the case is still open .. anyone who is interested in investigating her disappearance, let me know, will give u the case notes..So what if they are at least 20 years old !!

Just remember .. The truth is out there !! 🙂

These r some of my favourite things ..

Heyya people.. Me’s kinda back after the short hibernative stint.. actly dont think i am back in my “blog-about-it” mood , but i guess its a matter of time .. and the things i went looking for … most of them remain unfound and un-figured out… maybe there r no answers to a lot of questions !!..Lots of action for me in the 15 odd days of my disappearnce .. saw tons of movies ..i definately have to write abt Slumdog and Naan kadavul .. all that probably in the next post .. went on a beach clean up activity and generally have been catching up with a lot of studying.. Sorry havent been reading u r posts regularly or commenting on u r blogs .. now i have tons of catching up to do .. i promise to visit all u r blogs ..

Ok an old post again ..

So many sights, smells and noises assault our senses every day…. And
in a way I am a prisoner of my senses
Some of my all time favorite memories of smells, sounds and
sights..Inspiration of course from “Raindrops and Roses- OST of Sound
of music”

The smell of wet earth after a summer shower
Lazing around with a novel on a rainy afternoon with a cup of hot soup
Pretty pink and blue things like laces, satin
Blue and white china
Fresh Smell of cake baking
That first bite into a chocolaty donut
Light headed high after a few sips of alcohol
Bitter sweet tugs at the heartstrings when I leave home everytime ,
eventhough I know I will be back soon.
New born babies with curled up fists, sweet smell of Johnson and
Johnson combined with baby innocence
Heady smell of roasting spices
Intoxicating smell of melting butter
Vast Green open spaces
Long walks on the beach barefooted
Tall white wedding cakes
Pristine, flowing white wedding gowns
Sound of nothing, feeling nothing
Waking up after a cat-nap trying to recollect the latest dream
Musty smell of a book not used for a long time
Reading old slam books, old letters other silly correspondences
Satisfaction on deleting irritating junk mails and spam and seeing a
clean mailbox
Crunchy Unripe green apples
Sweaky clean hair after a hairwash ..
Smell of vanilla essence, vanilla notes in perfume..
Butterflies in the stomach before a presentation
Stolen furitive glances at the latest crush and stomach doing a
flip-flop every time you bump into that special someone.
Chocolates –with nougat, with nuts.. esp 5 star and after mint
Adrenaline rush when climbing up a hill, running
Verbose Indian fiction
Maggie and cheese at Kamath circle, Cheese Omlette at MIT canteen –
somehow both are entwined in my memory and can’t seem to separate one
stimuli from another.
Reading Mallory towers when supposed to be doing school homework
Sleeping in class whilst pretending to be listening to lectures
Listening to Ilayaraja songs
Smell of freshly laundered clothes
Crisp white shirts
Hot liquid cascading down a sore-throat
Cold showers on a hot, sweaty day
Beautiful glossy photographs
Kids playing hopscotch on a summery afternoon
Butterflies with colorful wings
Tickling of taste buds after the second pani -puri
Cheesy sizzlers of Tangerine
Babies gurgling
chucking laundry and watching a rerun of friends .. for the 30th time
Satisfaction of seeing a fullstop at the end of last line in a book.

I am sure I am not able to recollect a lot of sights, smells and
sounds which have been stored away for posterity. ..Some will come
back to me if I think harder.. But most probably won’t, despite the
magnificent contraption that our brain is. Thats why maybe i have a
life to manufacture more favourites which will be forgotten in another
5 years time..

weird.. how everything is in a state of constant flux.Feelings,
memories , affections.. everything !

Ode to my Teachers

I saw Mona Lisa Smile a while ago and have been thinking about some teachers I’ve had the fortune of coming across in my own life . I know I am a tad late, as teachers day is gone, but I really think I need to blog about them.. just to relive those wonderful and not so wonderful memories of school and college.
Warning: Fairly longish, sappy post.. Sniff Sniff.. Read only if you are relatively jobless..
Bakshi Mam : I met Bakshi mam when I was just stepping into my tumultous adolescence. My father had taken an assignment in Baroda and we had to shift lock, stock and barrel from Chennai. I had to leave my beloved Chennai, where I had spent most of my childhood till then. Then, there was also the language factor. I could manage broken conversations in hindi , but reproducing Surdas , kabir’s dohas and writing 200 words on the Kabuliwalas of the world on my own was something I was not prepared for. Bakshi Mam happened to be my hindi teacher. Third or the fourth day into the academedic year(I was in 9th then) , she realized that I was very diffident about my Hindi and what she did for me that day , will be ever etched on my memory. She made me read out a passage in front of the entire class. When I couldn’t get the pronunciation of “jhopadpatti” right, she made me repeat it 4-5 times till I got it right. Humiliation and shame flooded my senses.I reddened looking at all the jeering faces of my classmates. Later after the class , she called me to the staff room and told me that I was very bright for someone who had never studied hindi as a 2nd language.She started helping me with course work and gradually I started picking up things quite well . I actually scored decently on my boards the next year. Definitely more than what I expected…
My take away: A lot of good comes from experiencing shame and mortification. Like the Phoenix…that rose from it’s own ashes, Bakshi mam made me rise from my own tears and feelings of insecurity.
Vasumati Mam: I was back in Chennai for my 12th again as my dad got transferred again. Vasumati mam taught chemistry. I was not particularly not fond of her as she had weird mannerisms. And Vasumati mam never smiled ..Ever !!. I wasn’t too great in Chemistry either as I had slacked off quite a bit in the 11th. I was totally under prepared when I got back to Chennai, where the kids are so focused about their acads. Everybody wants to get into the IITs here. My first mid terms gave me the shock I was dreading all along .. I had just scraped chemistry scoring 27.5 on 75. Vasumati mam , however , had failed me. I went to her with righteous indignation at being failed even though technically I hadn’t. It was the first time I had failed in any subject .. period.
This is what she told me “ If I pass you now , You’ll take it for granted . If I fail you however, you will always remember this failure. Take it in your stride”. I’ve never failed any exam after that ( We’ll have to ,of course, ignore my CFA level II which I failed a few months back.. But then, I wasn’t prepared and was caught between messy job shifts.. So that doesn’t count ;-))

Vinata Sai Mam: Fast forward College … Vinata mam taught English Literature.She was one heck of a lady. When I started college , I wasn’t too happy. I wasn’t happy about the college, my course offered me little intellectual stimulation and found most of my classmates more content in mugging up things rather than trying to learn anything new. I felt trapped between people I couldn’t relate to. Predominantly, I was bored. I used to do very well in my literature classes. But due to my high boredom and fickleness levels , I started dozing off a lot in class, even if the lectures were interesting. One day Vinata mam showed me an ad of a quiz competition (she was the culturals staff coordinator) which was to take place in another college and asked me if I would be interested. I had never quizzed before and was very skeptical about it. She had also picked up girls from other departments and we assembled one afternoon to get to know each other. We hit it off and started a De-facto Quiz club. And suddenly college was so much fun. I was hardly around in college as I was busy attending more quizzes, actually all kinds of competitions- Dumb charades, Jam, collages, creative writing …anything actually … And most importantly I met a lot of likeminded people who later became some of my good friends. I met Vinata mam a few years back at annual quiz fest organized by a bookchain in chennai and she was there with another bunch of starry eyed students. I don’t quiz any longer. But I suspect , she is there every year , religiously supporting her team.
Thanks vinata mam.. You made my College bearable 😉

Kediyoor Sir: Fast forward again to Post graduation. It was the final semester and placements were abysmally bad that year. Kediyoor was our PGP coordinator. I had taken a course on Advertising and the final review exams were about to happen. During one weekend during final review exams, I had some friends over and wasn’t staying in the hostel( Not allowed as per our institute policy.. hope my Dad is not reading this ).
The exam was initially scheduled for Sunday 11:00 and the last class I attended was on Friday. I had informed my roomie and a few college friends that I wouldn’t be in till Sunday evening , but they had no idea where we were staying . Just my luck – the exam got preponed by an hour and I had no clue as I hadn’t bothered to stop by the insti earlier nor had I checked up with my roomie.I didn’t have a cell phone those days. So , an hour into the exam I walked into the exam room to horrendously find people already writing the exam. I freaked out !!. My invigilator took me to Kediyoor. Miraculously, he made me write the exam, even though I was allowed only an hour and half. I was actually surprised that I got a A- later. Kediyoor called me after the exam and asked me what was really bothering me . He apparently assumed that I was in depression as I wasn’t placed yet. He put me on to another lady lecturer who started counseling me every week, treating me like a whacked out psycho .. This ode goes to Kediyoor to have taken so much interest in my future to have allowed me to write the exam and also give me extra 30 minutes to finish my exam If he hadn’t allowed me to write the exam , I would have had to repeat the year due to my carelessness… I shudder to think of the consequences.. .I can never forgive him for putting me on to that counseling lady.. Ugh!!
Also thanx to my roomie , Soda for checking out every hotel in town for me, when someone told her that I hadn’t made it to the insti in time for the exam. What fun times..
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Ps : No names have been changed as gratitude doesn’t need be camoflagued ;-).