Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Last Juror

Part 1:
William Traynor, the college dropout, is a happy come lucky guy.  He takes up an offer from a small county newspaper, The Times.  After a few months, the owner of The Times sells the newspaper and Willie buys it thinking it would be a gold mine.  As luck would have it, turn of events made his paper selling like hot cakes.  One major break was the murder by Danny Padgitt which made his paper very popular not just among the locals but also a few bordering counties.

Part 2:
He covers the murder, the witnesses, the trials and everything around it.  Danny Padgitt gets life sentence for his murder and is sent away.  Story moves on for 9 years during which William and his newspaper grow to become famous.  Willie finds a new home (which again is handed to him at a much cheaper rate), new friends and is all ready to settle down.  When a dry spell occurs, Willie is lucky that something interesting keeps happening for him to fill the pages.  His friend Callie Ruffin and his Thursday lunches with her make a true bonding. Just when life begins to turn monotonous, Willie decides to sell the paper.

Part 3:
Danny Padgitt gets a parole after 9 year and the whole county is shocked. Two of the jurors gets killed and the county assumes that Danny Padgitt is back for his revenge.  The whole aftermath of the murders is the end episode.  Willie starts his career with a murder and finally ends his career with the newspaper with a murder.

I had read "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham and it was what made me buy this book.  Though I had bought this book around 2010, I finally got the chance to finish it.  But I was disappointed.  In The Innocent Man, Grisham never lets us off the hook.  We keep wishing and praying till the final end.  But here the plot is revealed and the killer is also revealed.  I had not much interest in the court scenes which he tears apart in The innocent man.  Half the time I found it difficult to keep reading, partly because I had guessed the killer and it was disappointing that I had predicted the turn of events.  The narration was fluid but I constantly lost track of the time, this novel being a period story.  Other than that it was a very light read.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Vardah Storm



Since a couple of days there has been warnings about this storm.  But since storms are a very regular thing in Chennai, I took it very lightly.  Since yesterday night there has been light to medium rainfall and from the morning it has started picking up pace.  But whenever there is a storm alert we normally look for the rain.  But this is not the regular thing, is it?  There has been news from everywhere that this storm is very strong and is defying many calculations that has been predicted before.  It is not going to weaken as it makes its landfall in Chennai.

As I write this entry I sit amongst a very scary and precarious situation.  I can hear the ripping of many asbestos sheets, and the swinging and swaying of trees.  Since morning trees has been torn apart and uprooted totally.  This is just the view from my balcony.  I cannot imagine the scenario throughout Chennai.  We have hooked just our modem to our inverter and so this has been our constant source of information.  As per the news, thousands of trees have already been uprooted.  The eerie whistling and enormous gusts have started becoming more intense.  We sit here saying our prayers as the Vardah storm continues to tear the city.

I cannot help but imagine the plight of Marina Beach.  Since the eye of the storm is located just a few kilometers off Chennai, Marina should be very rough.  People of the low lying areas have been evacuated and taken to a safe place but still the waves would have inundated those places.  The state has declared a holiday for not just the students but also for all the government and Private concerns.  I can see why.

As I type I hear a snap and my bathroom padlock has come apart (yes, the PVC type door and locks).  From what we can gather, its going to be a really worst situation till 5 PM.  Last year December it was water and this year it is the storm.

I remember a very similar situation back in 1994.  There were no inverters and even the emergency lights were battery operated.  We had no power for around 3-4 days (if I recall correctly) and we had to fill our buckets with the rain water from the outlet pipes.  The whole area was so dark without electricity and there was this constant howling of the wind.  Coming to think of it, those days were so eerie.  Lets see if the storm weakens around 5 PM.  Along with Chennai, Puducherry, Cuddalore and Coastal Andra Pradesh are also hit.  Lets pray that everything will be normal again and everyone be safe.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A new rule in temples of Tamil Nadu


Imagine this! You get invited to a party.  It is not a big splash, event of the year party but just a very simple get together party of your friends and you.  Days together we would start planning - the dress, the jewels, the accessories and even the shoes.  We just don't walk in with our plains just because they are our close friends, who really know and understand you.  We really would do every step to enjoy the evening.  So much work and time for one evening.

Again Imagine this! Your star birthday is next week.  The elders of your family ask you to visit the temple and perform a few rituals.  Do we really bother much about anything?  Do we really plan about our dress, the way we look.  We simply enter the temple with the same attire we had been donning since morning.  Why such difference?  Because we really know that people would judge us and God does not.

Recently in Tirupathi, the world famous Hindu temple, there has been a rule to wear only traditional dress otherwise one cannot enter the temple.  It was followed strictly for a while and then they had to be changed only for special tickets.  Tirupathi is a small town only known for this famous temple.  There cannot be anything important for a devotee who has planned the trip months ago, securing special darshan tickets.  Yet people visit this 'kshetram'- holy place with all kinds of trendy dresses.

A similar rule has been passed in Tamil Nadu's famous temple as well.  It has come effective 1st of January 2016.  People were outraged by this atrocity(?!) simply because they could not enter the temple with the dresses they had attended the party with.  Gone was the plan to kill two birds with one stone.  They had to go home and change simply to enter the temple.  What would have happened if this were vice versa.  Would they have attended the party with the traditional dresses.  I don't think so.  They would definitely have gone home to change into stylish, trendy dresses.  Who would want to look like a country bull anyways?? So why this fury only with temple.  why do people take everything granted with temples.

I read a 'whats app' message a couple of days ago.  It says, if a pub says one is not allowed if they don't wear shoes, we accept it.  But if the temple says we cannot enter without traditional dress, we oppose.  Well said.  A temple is a place of peace.  It is a place where we become one with God, through our undivided meditation and chantings.  How bad it would be if trendy clothes do just that.  It would be a mere distraction and nothing more.  If we should want to flaunt ourselves there are other places.  A temple requires no jewels, no make ups, no gaudy perfumes, just sincere devotion.  It is a place where we can be ourselves without others judging us.  So please wear our traditional attire at least in temples.  Please don't get me wrong.  I too wear western clothes.  But I simply cannot understand the need to wear them in temples.  If we can take hours to dress for a party or a function, why not take minutes to change into a comfortable Salwar Kameez before entering the temple.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Pasanga - 2, A Review

On New year's day we went to watch Pasanga 2 directed by Pandiraj.  A lot of good reviews about the film, so had a good vibe about the film.  This is the last of the kids trilogy Pandiraj had been directing.  Pasanga and Marina are among the best kids movie and I was sure Pasanga 2 would not be less of a standard.  But a few comments were made that it was in the lines of Taare Zameen Par or Anjali.  Though the story handles a very similar story with similar emotions, this also explores about the pregnancy, its effect on the child's birth and the child's character.  A lot of research has gone into the making.  Like kids waking the parents as soon as we are in the bed, the long queues for getting admitted int he  top school, report cards atrocities and many many more.

In 'Taare Zameen Par' the child is sent to a hostel and similarly here too the children are sent to a hostel.  This paints a rather painful image as if the boarding schools are prison.  But these kids diagnosed with ADHD get a breath of fresh life with the amazing duo, Suriya and Amala Paul.  Sometimes the kids behavior gets too far like insulting the Secretary of the building because she is a very uptight character.  But other than that the story drives its message as to believe in the child not just in the school to build their future.  It is worth a watch to learn for ourselves the common mistakes that we can avoid and to handle our children better (whether ADHD or not).

My kid thoroughly enjoyed the naughty, witty plays of the children.  The part when Nayana narrates a story to get admitted in a school was the best.  My kid couldn't stop wondering about it even after coming home.  A more thoughtful message would be to learn the talents of the kids and nurture them.  Who knows what great height they could scale with their born-talents?

The climax scene however apt and touching for this movie, makes me wonder and compare with "Taare Zameen Par".  How many ever times that I watch "Taare..." I am bound to cry.  Well Pasanga 2 movie climax could have been better, though it drives a very compelling suggestion to boost the children's morale.  In my opinion the story slumps after the interval.  But a clean movie, worth watching with the whole family and no awkward scenes even for a second.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Twenties Girl

Sophie Kinsella is one of my very favorite authors.  The first work that I had read of her is "The Undomestic Goddess".  I was bound to the story from the word go.  Her story telling can be so compelling.  So is this story "Twenties Girl".  Normally I would wait till the sweet romance starts for the girl.  This would happen at about the second to fourth chapters.  But here the protagonist Sara Lington meets her Great aunt Sadie at her funeral as a ghost.  Yup, a ghost story, but something on the lines of Casper, or friendly ghosts.  Her great aunt requests orders Sara to investigate about her lost necklace.  And what follows is a very adventurous story. 

Sara goes to great lengths to retain her great aunt's body so that she can have her one last wish fulfilled.  But the investigation into the missing necklace leads her to the truth about her family heritage and some really sad episodes of Sadie's life.  Finally Sara successfully unveils the truth and helps Sadie leave a trail of herself for the world.  Being a Guardian Angel how Sadie brings good luck to Sara is a laugh riot.

The bonding between the two was very natural and one can feel a riot of emotions from the start to the finish.  At the end we cannot help but feel the twinge of pain as Sara deals with her loss.  The special thing about this story is the romance between Sara and Ed is very subdued and the bonding between Sara and Sadie is more pronounced.

Reading the title, I thought this would be a story of a twenties something girl.  Yes it was, and it was also because the story revolves around the 1920s Great aunt Sadie who now takes the form of a 20s some thing girl.  Could also be because Sadie forces Sara to wear 1920s costumes at start, which start to become Sara's regular attire.  The dragonfly necklace in the cover is the necklace that gets the whole story running.

This was a very light read with a good message about family bondings.  I am still waiting to read her famous Shopaholic series.  Just waiting till I collect about a couple of books in the series.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Collar neck - a successful attempt



Sewing class was among the best things that happened in my life.  What started out to be a hobby turned into my passion.  My teacher was good in teaching the basics and some more advanced concepts.  Due to family responsibilities and health reasons, I could not enroll for many classes.  But the courses offered are an ocean and what I had learnt is just a drop.
But with what I had learnt, a few things slips out of mind even with some proper notes.  Collar making was one of them.  Though I did remember many of the concept, some basic nuances I forgot.  So one time when I tried to sew a collar kameez it turned out to be a disaster.
      
I had to convert it to a high neck kameez and camouflage the deep neck cut with a patch work.  It worked out great and totally saved my kameez, but I did not have the courage to try it out again and salvage it later.  There are a lot of tutorials in the internet about a collared neck, but nothing exact to the method that I had learnt.  Then recently I discovered this youtube channel, Savi Fashions.  If only she had come a bit earlier, I would have been more confident about my collared necks. 
  
Kameez before collar
The collar piece
Notches at the centre

After attaching
The 1/4" glitch

The final pic of the kameez
How it looks from the back
She described the exact method that my teacher had taught me and I gladly tried it out.  The collared neck kameez turned out very good.  But only a small glitch.  I had taken the measurement wrong.  I measured about a 1/4"  less and so one side ended up a bit less.  But I am more confident now and I will not make this mistake again in my next kameez.
Thank you once again Savitha madam.  Your tutorial really helped me.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Gongura Pulihora



I have already posted one recipe called 'Pulicha Keerai Masiyal' earlier.  The Pulicha keerai is called Gongura in Andra Pradesh and its a delicacy there.  Its used in many recipes that softens its sharp tangy taste.  One such very famous recipe is Gongura Pulihora.

The Puliodorai or the Pulihora which is famous both in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is prepared with Tamarind.  This Pulihora prepared with Gongura is equally delicious as this green has the tangy taste to it.

Ingredients

  • Gongura - 1 bundle
  • Green chillies - 3 to 4
  • Cooked rice - 3 cups (or as needed)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil - 5 tbsp
Roast and Grind 1:
  • Dry Red Chillies - 15
  • Dhania seeds - 2 tbsp
  • Seasame seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Roast and Grind 2:
  • Bengal Gram - 2 tbsp
To Temper:
  • Mustard Seeds - 2 tsp
  • Dry Red Chillies - 2
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
  • Hing - 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • Roasted and peeled Peanuts - 2 handfuls

    Method


    First pick the leaves alone from the stems and discard the stems.  Wash the leaves well and keep aside.  Heat a kadai and dry roast the 'Roast and Grind 1' ingredients.  Grind them together to a coarse powder and set aside.  Then roast and grind the bengal gram alone.  Now in the same kadai, add about 2 tsp of oil and add the green chillies, broken in half.  Then add the Gongura leaves and keep tossing till they wilt completely.  Grind them without adding any water.  The moisture in the greens will be enough to grind it.

    Heat the same kadai and add about 5 tbsp of oil.  If this oil is sesame oil it will give a good fragrance and the taste will be richer.  The add the ingredients given in 'To Temper' list one by one.  Then add the ground Gongura leaves paste to it and keep stirring it all the moisture leaves it.  Add the required amount of salt to it.  At one stage, it will become one mass and look more like a halwa.  It will not stitck to the kadai.  This is the right stage to add the cooked rice.

    You can preserve this paste in refrigerator for about 2 weeks and mix and serve with rice as needed.  Here I have given 3 cups of rice measurement.  So instead of adding the rice to the mixture, please add the mixture as required to the rice.  This way any excess paste can be stored and used later.

    This goes well with appalam, or potato fry or any vegetable.  But the peanuts in them will give a nice crunch and flavor to the rice that you can eat it without any side dish.
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