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Showing posts from June, 2015

Day 58: F.R.I.E.N.D.S in pop culture

The show that needs no introduction. I'm sure most of us (I won't say all) who have watched television once a while or are aware of pop culture should have heard of this brilliant show. Just like today's Big Bang Theory or the Modern Family, F.R.I.E.N.D.S just changed how sitcoms were accepted by audiences. It became the window for American pop culture and somehow, every other part of the world appreciated and devoured this show, so much so, that there were (and probably are) many who believed that life in the US was very much like this show.

With a star cast that bonded so well- both in the series and outside the series, this show has 'tickled' (read touched) millions of mind all over the world. Marta Kauffman and David Crane created some terrific characters, all flawed yet interesting and charismatic. With a critical lens, one can actually find a lot of issues in the way the story and the cast was set, but in reality, that did not matter. Coffee shops, hair styl…

Day 57: Manjadikuru (The Little Red Seeds)

Do you guys know about Manjadikuru ? They are the little red seeds. For anyone who is from God's own country or is familiar with Kerala wouldn't have missed this. There is something special about holding them, playing with these seeds. Usually, most homes will have a small 'uruli' or a bowl filled with these beautiful and shiny red seeds. In most Krishna temples in Kerala, you will come across a small 'uruli' with Manjadikuru. People believe that it is lucky to take these seeds with both hands and just play with them when you visit a temple. Some even leave a couple of coins as they do this.  In Guruvayoor (my favorite place), you can see a big 'uruli' with manjadi. 

So, why and how did this become prevalent ? It goes back to a story from the past. Many years ago, there lived a poor lady in northern Kerala. She was an ardent devotee of Lord Guruvayoorappan (Krishna) and always wanted to visit Guruvayoor.  She could not afford to buy any offering (nived…

Day 56: Z for Zen

Zen. One word, even the way it sounds makes us feel a lot lighter. Of course, not that it just automatically makes us better, but at least the way it sounds, it brings in some kind of peace. Zen evolved in China and later moved through other nations and is now is known as Japanese Zen. It is from Buddhism. In fact, it is from the root word of 'dhyan' in Sanskrit (the mother of all languages). It is what Indian philosophy also teaches us through the concept of yoga and meditation. By yoga, I do not mean the physical exercise, but more of the yogic state of mind that helps us experience 'bliss' in 'nothingness'. In today's changing and fast-paced world, everything around us is chaotic. We can only work in peace and realize our 'self' only when we find that rhythm in the chaos. To do that, we need to appreciate different tools to reach that state of 'dhyanam' which can help our thoughts and mind.

Just because I'm writing about this does no…

Day 55: Y for Yadukulakamboji

Carnatic music is the classical music form from the southern part of India. Some of the elements in this style of music are sruthi/sruti, talam, ragam and swaram.  This is pitch, rhythm, melody and  musical sound respectively.  Now, the title of my topic today is the name of one of the ragas- melody. A raga is a form of specific rules for the note, that has to be obeyed either to a 't' or within that specific frequency. The ragas in Carnatic music can be divided as janaka raga and janya raga.

Now, the raga, Yadukulakamboji is a janya raga. There are some wonderful songs in this ragam. Here is one of my favorite ones. This is a beautiful song rendered by the great Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. It is on my favorite Guruvayurappan. This was written by Malayalam poet, Irayimman Thampi on Lord Guruvayurappan. This was later popularized by Chembai in this raga. Chembai's shishya was (also one of my favorite singers) Das uncle (Dr.K.J.Yesudas).

By the way, the original song w…

Day 54: X for XEROX Ad

Today's post is a very short one. In fact, it is just this advertisement by XEROX. Their brand name is used as a generic term like saying, "Can you please get a xerox of this sheet?" People have replaced the term "photocopy or copy" with the brand name. So, here is an ad that shows that XEROX is a trademark name! 

Day 53: W for Waterfall

Water, in every form is very precious for human life. We need it around. Be it the ravenous river, the cascading falls, the mighty ocean, placid lake, or the pouring rain. In every form, water is truly the elixir of life. We need it for the sustenance of life on earth. Rivers have shaped our earth as it has traversed the course and etched path and created natural divides between nations, cities, countries and towns. Today's post is a picture post of a beautiful waterfall near where I live.

What is magical? Is it the rising mist and the cold air? or the sound of falling water? I know not. 
What is beautiful? Is it the green bright trees around? or the black big rocks forming the base? I know not. 
What is marvelous?  Is it the flowing river that just continues down the stream,  in all this beautiful chaos?   or is it the sight of this lovely waterfall? I wonder. 
In awe of Mother Nature's charms,  I stand, watching this waterfall. 

Day 52: V for Vettam

വെട്ടം വീണ കിഴക്കൻ ദിക്കിൽ, കുട്ടി കധിരവൻ ഉയരുന്നു.
"Vettam veena kizhakkan dhikkil, kutti kadhiravan uyaraunnu." 
A line from an old poetry that my dad learned at school. It means, the light that falls on the eastern side is where the little sun rises. "Vettam" means "Light". I'm sure none of us would ever want to live in the dark. In every sense. We need light to understand everything around us and everything 'within' us. Life would never be possible if it weren't for the benevelonet rays of our mighty Sun. Symbolically we also use light as means to eradicate negativity and darkness from our life. That is why we try to light lamps or candles at home. Even though we can always argue that these were helpful during the times we had no technology and electricity, this is still followed for that symbolic meaning and belief that there will positivity around us when we light a lamp. Even the celebrations we have for various festivals like  Diwa…

Day 51: U for Under the big blue sky

We have a place to live, 
under the big blue sky.  The lovely flowers,  and the bright green grass,  with the little birds, singing along.  We have a place to run,  under the big blue sky. Let's pray that we are together,  and we build a world of smiles and giggles.  Let there be just peace and only peace,  under this big blue sky. 

Day 50: T for Tennessee (Come and See!:))

As I sat down to write today's blog, I was confused as to what to choose. There are so many wonderful topics with 'T'.Finally, after a long thought, I decided it won't be fair if I don't write 'T for Tennessee' as, it's the first state that I visited in the U.S.

This is the 16th state of the union formed in 1796. In fact, it was 219 years old this June 1st.The name for this state was because of the Native American village, Tanasqui.  In fact later on Britishers found a village near Cherokee called Tanasi. Of course, it is not sure which of these villages helped in shaping the name for this state. Tennessee's nick name is Volunteer State. How did it get that name ? Well during the war of 1812, Tennessee's volunteer soldiers put up a strong fight during the Battle of New Orleans. Thus, they got this nickname. The logo of this landlocked state is agriculture and commerce.

Tennessee hosts the beautiful Smoky Mountain National Park, one of the most …


First of all, thank you very much to every reader for their support and wishes. I cannot believe I have come so far in this 365 day journey. Despite the time constraint and lack of access ( travel or some work), I have enjoyed writing a post a day. To make it possible, I have recently resorted to the use of picture posts or short posts. Thanks for your patience and support. I hope to get back to longer articles when I complete certain challenges at work.

For today, the post is on one of my favorite board games- SCRABBLE! Sibling memories, married life memories, and many more are associated with this brilliant game. So, here is a picture post for that ( taken a year or two ago when we played scrabble at home). 

A lot to say using very few tiles 😊!

Day 48: R FOR RAYS

Like the million rays that pass through these clouds, the one beautiful thing that must pass through our million thoughts and moments of despair is the 'faith' and 'hope' one has about tomorrow.
Good night ! 

Day 47: Q for Quizzing for fun!

Today's post is going to be super short. As mentioned in my previous post, this week is going to be super hard to write as much as I want to.

The first couple of words that come to m mind when I think of the term Q is Quizzing. There is so much joy that is associated with quizzing. If you ask me what it is, all I can think of is the 'fun' aspect that comes with it. Every quiz show I have been, whether I won or lost or just attended has shown me how much more is there to know. I remember the BQC title music, BBC Mastermind India, and various regional shows! It is the quest of knowledge that makes quizzing fun. By the way, Indian quizzing is very different from what we see here in the US or UK. So, to end this here is a trivia question for today. 
This is an introductory course of the meal and is actually named based on the french term for "twice cooked". This actually extracts the flavor from the crustaceans that are cooked twice. This is a french cuisine. So, wha…

Day 46: P for Photography

Photography. All of us love that very term. It helps us keep certain moments 'framed' in our minds and thoughts forever. What I love about photography is about the metaphorical aspect to it. As a photographer, a picture does not just tell the story of that protagonist -be it the nature or human being or an animal or any random object, it also shares a story of the photographer.

Here is one from the old winter times in K-town. What story does this picture tell you? Do share your thoughts so that I can then tell you what made me take this picture.

Elliot Erwitt, the famous advertising and documentary photographer who shot some everyday instances in beautiful B&W once quoted, "Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them."

How true!

Editor's Note: Busy from this week until July 30th. Please excuse me for such short posts. Thank you! 

Day 45: O for Olive Oyl

Elzie Crisler Segar also known E.C.Segar is the creator of this lovely character Olive Oyl. This character is a part of the fictional character, Popeye, the sailor man. This comic strip, later an animated series, was initially created as 'Thimble Theater'. He truly lit the midnight lamp to actually graduate with a correspondence degree to become a cartoonist (at least that is what the Wiki tells me :)). Even after E.C.Segar's death, this cartoon strip continued to be on print and is there to this date.Before Popeye's appearance Olive Oyl was there as the main character. Extremely tall, lanky with long feet and long arms and with an interesting fashion sense. I love this character so much that the music is still ringing in my ears. By the way, as you guess 'oyl' is based on 'oil'. In fact there were other characters, castor oyl, nana oyl and so on. So, here is a big wavy hi to Olive Oyl lovers :)

Day 44: N for 'Nectar in Nature'

Is it the fragrance of the flower, 
that makes it sweet? Is it the buzz of the bees,  that makes honey? Is it the lovely words we speak,  that we call nectar?  It makes one wonder at the beauty of 'nature',  the one that lets us enjoy,  the 'sweetness' in flowers, and the 'sweetness' in our words.

©Copyright Meena Arvind - the verse and the picture 
There is a quote I remember reading, it was in Kannada, I read the translation of it. It meant something about how the words we utter should be so sweet that the 'gods' should dance in heaven in peace. How wonderful, right? When we speak, we forget how people understand or might understand. It is important we measure our words and talk sensibly, to anyone we know- be it your friend or your enemy. However, if it this 'sweetness' is not truly from heart, then that can be horrible! So, we must keep in mind how we sweeten our words and how we frame our thoughts.

Day 43: M for Mind and Positivity

A very short sweet post on a happy Monday. Mind is like a huge magic box. What you put in either helps you to be an awesome 'you' or a dangerous 'you'. So, what's on your mind today? I'm sending more positive thoughts and positive vibe and more to a positive life!

Day 42: L for Lucky charms

"You are my lucky charm."I'm sure you must have said this to someone precious in your life or at least someone must have told you that.

We all believe in luck and sometimes believe in the good luck charm, someone or something can bring us. Every culture has its own set of belief system. In the olden days, people believed that it would be good luck to carry a special amulet made out of something specific. For instance, a copper plate, or a scripted brass plate, a bird feather, elephant's tail hair, animal's foot (people believed in rabbit foot) and so on. All these were presumed to bring in good luck to the seeker. The four-leaf clover is also another example. Each one of us have at least one good luck charm that we hold on to. Lucky charm is something that we believe, we use as a title of a book, sometimes like a song lyrics and of course, a brand name.  Now, if we look at the brand, Lucky Charms, is one of the top cereal brands in the world, launched by General…

Day 41: K for Kate Spade

Everyone has a story. So does every brand. Brands are created by people- both the manufacturer (advertiser) and the consumer. I have always been curious about the stories of brands and how they shape consumers (how consumers shape them too). One of my favorite brand story is that of 'kate spade', the American fashion design house. I'm not a real 'consumer' yet. However, I have witnessed the growth of this brand in media (and through media) and have also observed it as I 'window shop'.

'kate spade' was launched officially in 1993. Kate Brosnahan (now Kate Spade) started this with her boyfriend (now husband) Andy Spade. Andy's creative and entrepreneurial bent of mind along with Kate's passion and fashion sense, helped them launch this business. They started with a line of fashion handbags. Andy Spade, the creative guy was working with advertising agency in NYC, while Kate was the senior editor in the fashion department of Mademoiselle magazin…

Day 40: J for Jungle Book

A writer truly colors 'some of his/her self' in the writings. It is like a part of you is used in the creation of the stories as much, the readers create the 'writer' and the characters as they read. Rudyard Kipling, the 'magician' who created this brilliant masterpiece used his childhood memories and senses to create this fantasy. He was born in Bombay (aaj ka Mumbai) to a wonderful couple. He inherited the genes and his early formative years in India colored his thoughts and soul. Even after he moved back to England, the memories remained. He traveled a lot between India, England and even USA throughout his adult life. Jungle Book is a reflection of memories from his past. Jungle Book is not a single novel, as one might presume. It is a collection of short stories, all woven in parallel. Kipling was not just a writer of short stories, he was also a great poet ('If' is one of the best and my favorite ever).
Even before I could read this book, I was in…

Day 39: I Love K-town because.........

Three reasons why I love K-town:

1. It has Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
2. It is green and lovely!
3. It rains often and makes it look like a wonderland.

Yes, despite its allergy problems and other simple small town issues, it is a lovely place to live. This is the first place I moved to in the United States. This is a small town but it is cosy enough!
Today's post is short and sweet. So, bye for now!

Day 38: H for Hamara Bajaj

I think I had already mentioned about my love for advertisements in the first post of alphabet series, which was A for Advertising.Well, today's post is in lines with that. For all those who grew up in India during the 90's, this jingle, 'Hamara Bajaj' would be a no brainer. It will be like singing the 'Roja' songs by ARR or say, humming, 'Ghar se nikalte hi' or an awesome Raja sir's number like, 'Anjali Anjali Anjali'. There is probably a handful of people who may not have heard this jingle.

'Hamara Bajaj' means, 'Our Bajaj'. One of the most successful campaigns in India, this was created for the company Bajaj Autos. This campaign in the late 80's was for  Chetak scooters which was the Indian made scooter produced by Bajaj Auto. The brand name 'Chetak' was after a legendary horse of fearless Indian ruler, Maharana Pratap Singh of Mewar. Even though the Italian competitors of Vespa gave a very tough competition, …

Day 37: G for Gift of Love

There were these orange roses,  and those white gerber daisies,  and a few pretty green ones,  whose name she didn't really know. 
There were also the green ferns,  and those dancing little purples,  for which, now she wondered,  how was it really known? 
Was it called the freesias? or was it the delphiniums? Oh, she did not know for sure,  but, they looked so dainty and dear. 
The corsage was beautiful,  just simple and uncluttered. with nice and bright flowers, that smiled at her all along.  
The glass vase was plain,  curvaceous and thick,  of a size just perfect,  to hold them tight and right. 
Just the flowers alone, didn't, make them look pretty,  it was the gift of love that made it real lovely. 
Now, it sat on that teapoy,  by the side of  her red couch,  reminding her of her love,  for that dear precious friend,  who lived far away!
It was a nice gift of love,  and a kind and sweet gesture, may it remain the same way,  for years to come by. 
© Copyright Meena Arvind

Day 36: F for Flying high on a four !

On a four,  I'm flying high,  Happy and wise.  I'm calm  and flying to where I belong,  to the one I'm in love.  today and forever.  Happy four, my mate!

©Meena Arvind - both the picture and the post! (Weird poem- for a special occasion)

Day 35: E for Elephant and how much I love them!

I love elephants. Elephants do show a lot of compassion, emotional connection and they are playful. They are very intelligent animals. I love Indian elephants more in particular, may be because, I am used to seeing them. Being from Kerala, God's own country, we just adore elephants and in fact every temple festival has elephants. Of course, it is sad, (if we believe the data) to know that India has a lot of elephants in captive. However, most temples and at other places, they are treated special and with respect (most often). Ever since childhood, I have always wanted to own one. It is still on my to-do list in life. Someday, when my bank account is exceptionally full and rich with loads of cash and I have more time than I can imagine, I might end up owning one (who says, you should not dream!!). Of course, it will be taken care of with a lot of love and respect! I think elephants are one of the awesome beings on earth.  They are beautiful and have a sense of self, just like dolp…

Day 34- D for Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

If you happen to know someone who has never been to India, ask them to tell one word that would probably mean something about India.  My guess is that, the one word could be Taj Mahal or Bollywood or elephants (yes, I did a short survey and asked a few students to write it down :)).  These are not the only ones that they will come up with, but these are the most common terms that people relate to when it comes to India. Of these, Bollywood plays a very significant role in shaping our culture, as much as our culture is reflected through Bollywood. It was named combing the 'B' from Bombay and 'ollywood' from Hollywood (fun fact to note that the first 'wood' in India was Tollywood, for Bengal cinemas, after being inspired by Hollywood and of course, taking the first part from Tollygunge). Even though, different states in India produce movies and only 25% of the movies in India come from Bollywood, it is that one thing that gets mentioned around the world.

The tit…

Day 33- C for Crossing the River

Today has been a super hectic day. I had to be at a friend's place for her graduation party. I had no plans of going as I was not sure of my time at work. Somehow, due to a power outage in my department, I wrapped up early. So, I made it to her party just as the party ended. It was nice, even though I spent most of my time chatting with friends outside in the moonlight. Seeing some good friends after a long gap, does bring a lot smile. As I did that, I totally forgot about my blog and its topic. I need to give Arko the credit for this topic. As we were talking about getting through the phase one of grad school, this topic made sense.

Usually, this term is alluding to the idiom,  "cross the Rubicon" which means doing something that will give very important results and is going to change your course or your fate. When I use this term, crossing the river, I picture a picturesque place with a beautiful bank on one side and a dense forest on the other. I probably see myself,…

Day 32: B for Bell the Cat

There was a cat that scared the rats,  with its stare and its screeching "meow". The rats didn't know where to hide,  when this cat walked around. 
Then one of the rats called up its folks,  to find a way to stop their fear. The best they found was to tie a bell around the neck to know when its near. 
And they looked around, not so sure,  about who was ready to face the fear.  They didn't find one single rat,  who was brave enough to bell the cat!
That is the story of who will bell the cat! 
Thought, this will be a good way to narrate the old Aesop fable again! 

Day 31: A for Advertising

As I mentioned yesterday, I am going to use a theme to help me write posts everyday. So, I am going with the cliched style of using alphabets. Today's post is with letter 'A'. I do not have a fixed style to use these alphabets. It could be anything from verbs, adjectives, objects, places, people, animals, things, food and what not. I might even use a phrase that starts with that specific alphabet. It could be anything, but at least keeping it with the alphabet theme will give me a direction and ease to choose topics.

For today's post, I go with A for Advertising.

As a kid, we would have said A for Apple. For me, it is A for Advertising, today. So, what is an advertisement? In simple words, it means any paid announcement. If I have to use two words to describe its nature, then it would be ideal to call it pervasive and persuasive. I'm sure, there is not a single person who hasn't seen an advertisement. We have ads for almost all kinds of everyday products and s…

Day 30: 30 days of writing !

It is the 30th post. I cannot believe that I survived this first 30 days of writing. More than writing, even coming up with interesting (for me) topics has been a hard task. After I am back from work, all I really want to do is just hit the bed and not be online. However, I have managed to keep it going. Thanks to all those who are reading this page, posting comments or sharing it in person. Thank you. The page views I get, surely motivates me to keep going.

For today's post, thought will highlight a couple of points of reaching the 30th day of 365 days challenge. 
The first thing that comes to mind is the fact of how much I have grown to love writing. Even though, I started this page to help me with my favorite hobby, I have come to realise, how writing weekday, has just increased my passion for it. This is surely not easy. It is a very hard task. I am very lost and confused as I walk this path. But as I am doing it everyday, I end up discovering new things to enjoy and explore.…

Day 29: Flight, oh, flight!

Flight, oh flight,
why are you never on time? You make us wait in the airport lounge,  Sometimes, we board, and sit around.  Family and work are the ones we buzz,
As we might miss that party or that meet.  Flight, oh ! flight,  why are you never on time? 
Some days you have the skies to blame,  a few other times,  you blame the engine and its make.  At times, it is the missing pilot,  or you mention, the empty fuel tank.  Flight, oh! flight,  Why are you never on time? 
We wait to fly,
as we want to reach our site, through the clouds,
and above the tiny lands.  Flight, oh! flight,  Why are you never on time?
You have reasons, a plenty, to paint our minds.
We do fall for it at all times.

Flight, oh! flight,  how we wish,
you will be always on time! 
A poem, inspired by the series of airplane delays that I have been hearing from my family and friends. Almost every trip, has had at least one delay. It was either the storm or the machine. Almost always, the business travel is depicted as …