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Showing posts from October, 2015

Day 150: Halloween

Okay. Today is Halloween. It is probably celebrated or should I say enjoyed here in the west than in the other parts of the world (which is the east and south east). However, given that we all want to fit in and be just like how the west is all the time except for things that matter, it is not a surprise that India now celebrates Halloween. Probably it has been a year or two since the last one. I remember reading a funny status post by a dear friend and terrific writer on this.

With changing economy and demography we have a new India that loves everything from the west more today than ever. Thanks to social media and internet. Everything around the world is at the touch of a button. I am not against change but it still makes me wonder if people even know what or why it is celebrated here? Yes, one of the  very reason why I love to study consumer culture and media. It could be because of the growing number of Indians in the US who post pictures to their fellow FB and Twitter friends d…

Day 149: Tiny tales: Perspectives: Humans and geese.

The last tiny tale for this week. I'm thankful you took time to read these 'not-so' good tiny tales. Thanks once again. So, here goes the last one. Inspired by a picture that I took during this summer of a family of geese crossing the road on my way to campus.

We brought our cars to a sudden halt. There was this family crossing the road. None of us moved even as that little 'kid' toddled slowly to reach that rock by the lake. I thought they looked funny.

Ah! These geese. They are in their own world oblivious to the zooming cars and train tracks above.

In the meantime, that family by the lake is thinking. Humans finally have learned to stop their rush and enjoy 'nature' in peace.

Day 148: Tiny Tale : Fictitous Love

She thought he was her best friend. She thought she loved him. At 14, she only wanted to be there with him far away and learn his skills and fight the 'bad guy' with him. Probably, own a 'wand' and learn some magic tricks. She kept talking to him in her dreams.

Hmm....  Did I tell you who that was?  It was that little Harry Potter from London.

Day 147: Tiny Tale: Standing boat

"What is this?", I asked. 
She said, "it's a standing boat." 
I nodded and smiled. 
She kept designing her boat. 
Then out of nowhere, she asked-
"I love you, do you love me?" 
"I sure do", I said. 
She gave me a million kisses, 
and her 'standing boat' to cherish. 

Note: This is my friend's 5 year old daughter. She is a sweetie pie and talented. 

Day 146: Tiny Tales : Affair

He came home with the nice gift- his old smartphone and her favorite clothes. She opened both with excitement. He went to take a shower and freshen up. She played around with his phone. Bing. There was a 'thank you' message from an unknown number.

Curious, she opened it to see the same dress on a new girl, she did not know. And there, she held the same phone, except that it was brand new in an unopened box.

Tears welled up and she walked out. When he came out calling her name, he found all the gifts down by the bed with a new note 'goodbye forever' on it.

Day 145: Tiny Tales: Anniversary Wishes

Okay. So, now I'm on my 145th post. Until this Friday, it is going to be a short/tiny tale or short/tiny poem.

Here is the first one for 'anniversary wishes'. 

It was his favorite restaurant and he was with his dear wife. She looked very bright and lovely in that royal blue. The waiter served the delicious risotto and wine. He 'wished' her happy anniversary. She 'acknowledged' with "same to you, honey."

They looked up from their iPhones and smiled.

Day 144: Sketching

I always admire creativity in any form. In fact, I believe, we are all creative in one way or other. It is up to us to open that up. Yeah, it is at varying degrees for sure. I remember my school days, I used to create new things as gifts for my friends on their birthdays. Getting gifts was not an option as it involved paying and buying. So, handmade was easy and personal. I think I can write and imagine better than I can actually draw. However, I have many around me who are exceptional when it comes to creating magic with a pencil or pen. Starting with my mom, to my sister-in-law (in fact, my A's cousin too), and to an extent A. When I once shared the a picture of Krishna's sketch created by the wonderful Keshav (The Hindu paper) to my sister-in-law, she drew a beautiful version of it and shared a picture. Here is one for the record which was sketched by my sister-in-law, 'I'. Check out the original one in that link too ! Both my hubby and I love to sketch using the d…

Day 143: Silence Retreat

Can you remain silent for almost 10 hours? Without an eye contact, without reading  and writing, just in peace with yourself? Unless of course, you are sleeping! Well, I'm sure there are a lot of you who might just be doing that, or done that and a lot of you who will just stand with your eyes wide open wondering if I'm actually thinking about it. Those of you who know me might even think that it is impossible for me to do, come what may. Well, I did think so too, at times. However, today, I proved all that wrong. I was on a silence retreat for over 10 hours since morning and all I was allowed to do was mindful eating, walking, and meditation. I initially thought I might just end up talking soon, however, from 8:30 in the morning to around 3:30, I was able to. This probably proves nothing is impossible! How did I feel? Well, it was a brilliant experience. I felt really at peace, initially a little off because, we were just meditating for a long time and I was even afraid if I…

Day 142: A different review on Bridge of Spies

My first attempt to review a movie in the form of poetry. Hope this makes some sense.

The dingy and cold feel,
the cinematographer's magic charm,
sets this movie in the early 60's.
This was when there was a cold war
between the two nations
whose ideologies were poles apart.
Bridges and roads,
lawyers and notes,
with the feds and agents,
tracking their routes.
Spies on the other hand,
used for negotiation,
as an exchange to yearn the freedom for all.
Tom Hanks at his best,
with his magician of a director to support.
Speilberg's magic touch is so very clear,
that we sit there watching these complicated
events in a manner that can make us go awe!
Inspired by true events and people,
this bridge of spies just lures you to be there
to witness the deal and action alike.
A must watch and treat to the eyes.

© Meena Arvind 2015

Day 141: Vidyarambam- Harishree Ganganapathaye namaha

Today is Vidyarambam. Today's post is going to begin with the one line verse we start off the day: "Harishree Ganganapathaye namaha". As for the post, as there is a time crunch, there is going to be a couple of quotes on learning that I find inspiring.

Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. - Oliver Wendell Holmes 
You learn something everyday if you pay attention. - Ray LeBlond
Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible- Richard Feynman

Day 140: Wordless Wednesday : Adachu Pooja

Today is 'Adachu Pooja or Pooja Veppu or Saraswati Pooja' as it is known. So, here is a pic of what we do :)

Day 139: Alphabet List

Okay, I remember getting these as online lists to complete. So, decided to do that today. Here is the alphabet list that either talks everything that is close to my heart or indicates something special for me.

A- Always on mind- Arvind :)
B- Biggest Fear - Would not want to share!
C- Currency used - Dollars (US) and Indian Rupees
D- Drink last had: Water
E- Everyday food: Chapathis/Rotis
F- Favorite singer: My A
G- Great gift received : Telescope and a beautiful bag
H- Hometown: Trichur, Kerala
I- Indian sweets (favorite) : Gulab jamun, kaju katli, my mom's boli, kozhakattai... the list goes on
J- J of - quizzers, I would love to be one :)!
K- Killed someone? Of course, yes... a bug and a mosquito!
L- Love- Life
M- Mommy's special- everything
N- Name the best things you love to do: Read, Write, Sing, Watch movies, hike, play board games!
O- One wish: Let all dreams come true
P- Person you call the most on your phone: My A
Q-Question I'm asked: Are you still studying?
R- …

Day 138: Just like that

Monday again. Why? I am not cribbing but I still would like an extended holiday. Anyways, for the lack of time, here is a Monday post which is a pic I found online. I love Peanuts (both infact!) and so here is one.

Day 137: Great 'Tamasha'

Tamasha is a new upcoming flick by the director Imthiaz Ali (Jab We Met, Highway movie fame). This has Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor as the lead with the Mozart of Madras composing the music. As A and I were listening to this new album for the whole 2 1/2 hours of wait yesterday, I thought this will be a good topic to write and share my thoughts on that album. The initial release of the teaser with Mohit Chauhan's great voice set in a picturesque location and cute choreography shows Ranbir-Deepika's 'matarghasti'! This is a good and peppy number with funky lyrics. The one thing that I liked about this album is the song by Alka Yagnik. Yes! She is singing for Rahman after a very long time. It is a melody again with Arjit Singh called Tum Saath ho.  Sukhwinder Singh is also performing after a long time with Chali Kahaani. AR-Sukhwinder is always a great combination. From the recent times it is Piya Milenge from Ranjhnaa. I just loved the variety this song showcases.…

Day 136: Fall Colors

Fall is my favorite. Oh yeah, I'm talking about Fall season:). After coming to this beautiful country, I get to experience the beautiful colors that nature paints every season. We get inspired by nature's beautiful colors and infact Fall fashion, Summer fashion are all based on these beautiful tricks and ideas that nature offers us. Again living here in this beautiful and picturesque K-town, I get to see the beauty of Fall every time I walk out. Nestled in the beautiful Smoky Mountains also gives us the best get aways. Yeah, today when we wanted to see the colors, we drove down there. Unfortunately, for use every one else also had similar plans and that means we were stuck there in traffic for a long time. Almost 2 1/2 hours to just get through the meandering roads of this beautiful National park. However,   even in that inch-by-inch traffic we could enjoy the scenic beauty of the mountains. Of course, the colors will probably reach the middle and the lower part of the mounta…

Day 135: The feeling of 'being left out'

This is a post that is more like a personal rambling. It is about 'being left out'. I would like to call it as probably the 'feeling' of being left out! All of us feel that way every now and then. Sometimes at work, or at home, or with friends, probably a public space. If I were to discuss about it, I can pull out many anecdotes from my own life or even the ones from the lives of my near and dear ones. Why? Why is it that we feel that way? We have a neighbor here, she would never even look eye-to-eye anytime. I mean of the 10 neighbors we have she is probably the only one who will not even look, nor smile, nor wave or respond if we did (most often if I did !). As I'm living in this country and a conservative state, I would immediately relate that to the acceptance of colored person. Well, is that the actual reason? Probably not. 'I' feel that way as I'm living in a country that has issues accepting colored people for a very long time and even now has i…

Day 134: Mazhakalli

Mazha mazha mazha mazhakalli.....

That is how this mesmeric melody begins. It is a single number by singer Shweta Mohan who is Sujatha Mohan's daughter. Just like her mom, she has the knack to soothe us and make us smile when we listen to her songs. This is my new favorite song and in the back of mind, I'm always humming this song. Do listen to this video and I'm sure you will agree. It is a Malayalam song and it is about the beauty and fun of rain (Mazha means rain). The music director is Sateesh Ramachandran and lyrics is by Binoy Krishnan. Set in a raga Amrithavarshini (the raga that is associated with rain) and a little mix of Behag (which my musician hubby A confirmed). A lovely melody that you will want to listen to again and again. Especially for folks in Chennai (where it is raining, as I happen to hear), K-town, and other parts of US where it is currently cold and raining, this will be a brilliant song to listen to with a hot cup of chai.

Day 133: Wordless Wednesday: Lone Tree

A lone tree somewhere in the West

Day 132: Navaratri

So, Navarathri begins today. Yes, the 9 days of war against evil and the power of female form of  goddess is celebrated all over India. Of course, the diversity of the country dictates how this is celebrated. It is called in different names, celebrated for infact, even different reasons but the underlying context is the same. It is the victory of the good over evil. These ten days are celebrated in different ways. For instance, the south celebrates it with something called 'kolu' which is a display of dolls (specifically idols of deities) that can be creatively displayed in either 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11 steps (there is a significance for odd numbers). On all these days, the women of the house invites friends (other women) to come and collect some 'prasad' and also return gifts:). Probably this is done by women because, mostly women stayed back at home and most of these festivals were initiated and conducted by them.The last three days mark the day for celebration of kno…

Day 131: Tribute to Aachi!

Today's topic is a tribute to one of the most prolific actors in tamil cinema industry- Manorama Aachi (as she was known). She passed away a couple of days ago (Oct 10) and she was one of the best and my favorite 'actor' in cinema. Christened as Gopishantha, she was known as Manorama for millions of her fans and the film fraternity. My early memory of watching one of her performances is in the "Saraswathi Sapatham". In that Manorama had a great role as the lady help or maid for the Queen. She spoke in a funny accent and even though at that I did not understand much of that accent (I was pretty young), I really loved her. If we were to look back at her performances in some of the best movies, you might remember the terrific portrayal of that telugu drama artist who was trying to get her daughter to be liked by the rich hero in Michael Madana Kama Rajan, or you might remember the cool grandma who crooned the beautiful song for ARR, Madrasa south pakka poren- May M…

Day 130: Bachachan ji's poetry : Koshish Karne Walon Ki

It is also Oct 11th, Amitabh ji's birthday ( Amitabh Bachchan is one of the top actors in Indian cinema industry). So what? Well, I'm reminded of his dad, the great poet, Harivanshrai Srivatsav or Bachachan ji. I love languages and I love poetry. Hindi is one such beautiful language with some brilliant works. One of my favorite poet is Bachachan saab.
I have read a few of his and they have all touched me in one way or other. I'm going to share one such beautiful poem that is up on my wall at work. I read it every time I miss Hindi, India, or I need some inspiration. 

लहरों से डर कर नौका पार नहीं होती, कोशिश करने वालों की कभी हार नहीं होती।
नन्हीं चींटी जब दाना लेकर चलती है, चढ़ती दीवारों पर, सौ बार फिसलती है। मन का विश्वास रगों में साहस भरता है, चढ़कर गिरना, गिरकर चढ़ना न अखरता है। आख़िर उसकी मेहनत बेकार नहीं होती, कोशिश करने वालों की कभी हार नहीं होती।
डुबकियां सिंधु में गोताखोर लगाता है, जा जा कर खाली हाथ लौटकर आता है। मिलते नहीं सहज ही मोती गहरे पानी में, बढ़ता दुगना उत्साह इसी हैर…

Day 129: (Some) Days of our Lives

The 10th of October. I still remember this very day five years ago. Distinctly remember it for two reasons. One, this was the day my best friend got married and second, my mom called me that morning as I was at her wedding to tell me that a prospective groom and his family was coming home the next day (yes, A).  Five years have gone by and that day still remains very close to my heart because of these. How fast has time gone by. The tension I had, the tension my mom had, because I was away at Tanjore for my bestie's wedding and she was worried if I will be back on time and in proper health. I had this tendency to lose my voice every time I traveled back and forth in India :). Now, looking back, I wonder if that worry did us any good. I was tensed because, I did not have any time to think or even comprehend that message. I was in between the wedding and once I was back, I was supposed to see the groom and his family in a couple of hours. I was tired after the wedding with all the …

Day 128: Should I work with Disney ?

Disney has always been a dream. I was planning to join and work there some day. Now as I am in my grad school I am always debating about the right options for me. Should I prefer the industry or the academia ? Once I think of industry, all these favorite brands cross my mind and of course, there is Disney. However, talking to a fellow colleague who has just started the grad school program in my department made me wonder if it is actually worth it. He has his Masters in Business Admin from a decent program (probably a Tier II). However, his experience with Disney only paid him very little, much less than what a grad student can make ! Wow! That was a surprise. The reason they do that is because they have too many people who are keen on being there and thus, they don't really care if you have a MBA or not. They can always get the best employees for actually much less. Probably they might pay the Tier I folks much better or may be not. Whatever it is, there goes my dream of working …

Day 127: Piled Higher and Deeper Comic (Some of my fav ones)

Haha. PhD cracks me up. Well, not just my degree but the Piled Higher and Deeper comic. Just like any other grad student my writing process is going very slow. Some days it is stressful (should I say most?) and yet, some other days it is the most interesting. Every little sentence that I can write either can make me smile and go 'yay!' or bite my lips and frown before I hit the delete button again.

Patience, Perseverance, and Positive thoughts (slightly laced with pessimism) is the best set of P's that fit the 'P' of PhD. So, here it goes, a few of the Piled Higher Deeper comic strips that make me smile.

Hopefully I can cross the fence soon enough.

One thing is for sure, writing is therapeutic even if you are just writing something that is still not 'there'.

Comic Strip 1: Writing your thesis outline ! 

Comic Strip 2: Going full circle! 

This is so very true, especially the last part!

Day 126: Wordless Wednesday - Painted sky

A painted sky on a normal day. Just a normal phone photo.

Day 125:Blessed

So, 125th post. This is a post that says I'm thankful for a lot of things in my life. Actually, life itself. I may not be taking my dream vacations (yet). I may not be wearing that beautiful dress I saw somewhere-either coz' I feel I'm not pretty enough or my wallet is not big enough. I may not be getting as many papers published as I want to (yeah, that sucks!). Well, the list goes on. However, I still am very blessed. I am super blessed just like you, the one who is reading this, for you know how to read, you have access to computer, internet, and a roof above you! Well, I was watching a video recently that showed the poor people living in Haiti. The video began by showing people pounding something that looked like a thick batter of mud. Then I saw people making round shapes with it. As the video progressed, I thought these were for making pots or some kind of artifact. However, later the video showed little kids and adults alike eating them! So, then I assumed, it was …

Day 124: If you are happy and you know it !

As it is a Monday, let us look at a new thought. If you are happy and you know it pass it on. Every one of us is going through many moments that sometimes bog us down and make it hard to get through each passing day. But if you are happy and you know it, then pass it on. Because, it could make someone smile. I have this quote up on our family room. Every day, when I wind up for the day, I look at this and it makes me wonder how such a simple sentence can have such an impact on our life. It doesn't mean we need to brag about our happiness but we can pass on it with a smile or an encouraging word. So, passing on a smile for this week :)

Day 123: Why are we messy?

I visited my favorite N-Ganesha temple recently and I had to use the public rest room, something which I usually avoid (as much as possible). Usually during my trip down to the temple, I avoid consuming water. However, this time, I had a couple of extra ounces than what my bladder could hold and it was also a cold day. You can surely understand!  So, as soon as I reached the temple, I thought it will be wise enough to use the rest room and then go to the temple. This rest room in this beautiful temple is present just below the temple and placed next to the space where we can leave our footwear/coats. There were about four rest rooms and three washbasins. Of the three, one was occupied and the others, vacant. I'm so sorry for the elaboration, but it is essential to indicate how of the three, all of them looked dirty in different ranking order. Either it was an un-flushed used toilet, or it was the ripped off toilet paper, or the toilet paper strewn all around. Why can't people…

Day 122: Children are flawless and kind (For the lack of a better title)

Thank you very much, O' little boy,  for teaching me how to wear a genuine smile.  Thank you very much, O' little champ,  for teaching me what it takes to jump with joy.  Thank you very much, O' little hero,  for showing me what true love was.  Thank you for those million smiles,  memories to cherish for days to come.  Thank you for that innocence,  reminding me to wake the child within.  Thank you for showing that age is just a number, and growing up is not just in that.  It is about leaving our ugly self and loving without any frills attached. Caring even when you do not get anything back, and being sweet with all your heart.   Thanks to your lovely parents who raise,  and teach values that are kind and nice.  Thank you once again for all those  beautiful smiles, sparkling eyes,  chubby little cheeks and innocent squeals.  You reminded me that children are truly the  beacon of divine hope.  Children, truly are flawless and kind. 
© Meena Arvind 2015

Day 121: Happy Birthday, Chuck Williams (Oct 2nd)

October 2 is an important day in the world history. It is the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. There are many others like my favorite, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Annie Leibovitz, and Chuck Williams. Well, these are only a few from the many others on this list. Mahatma Gandhi or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is one of the most influential person and his messages have always inspired millions around the world.  Therefore, from this, I would like to take Chuck Williams as the others are usually popular.

Chuck Williams is the founder of the popular retail store Williams-Sonoma. He was born on 2nd October 1915 and yeah, he turned 100 years this year. With an interest in cooking from an early age and travel, he decided to start a new company that catered to a niche market during the mid 1950's. When he started this store he purchased an existing store and later changed the stock to fit the niche market. For those who do not know about this retailer, they are an upscale, gourmet home furn…

Day 120: Changing perceptions: Starting a new month

From among the 12 months, I love each month for their own speciality. However, October, November, and December are usually my favorite ones. The reasons are a plenty. It is almost close to the end of the year, there are many of my favorite people who celebrate their birthday, including mine (; . I love Feb, April,and July too for just favorite birthdays (:.  It is also because it is closer to a lot of festivals like Navaratri, Diwali, Christmas, New Year and even if I grew up in cities where there could not be any possibility of snow, it made me feel cozy and happy. So, today, October 1, begins and marks the beginning of a wonderful month (months ahead).

       So, as we begin the new month, I thought I will share a beautiful and simple story that I heard from someone. Well, I'm sure some of you may have come across something like this (either the very same story or a different one) in the past. Once, there was a farmer who had a big cattle barn. He raised cattle for  meat,…