Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Z for Zenith

Zenith is in your arms. That point of bliss, eyes closed and feeling your warmth; those butterfly kisses that you shower across the forehead, the eyes and finally when your lips touch mine.

Zenith is being with you, around you. Zenith is what happens when you engulf me in that big warm hug; when I know everything is going to be alright. It is the early morning cuddles and the late night whispers.

Zenith is the passion; Zenith is the love. 

Zenith is you. 

Note: A big thank you to fellow bloggers, fellow A-Zers, those who've read, those who've left comments. It's been inspiring to read other blogs; I may not have read all but I did enjoy whatever I read. You've been an inspiration - every one of you. Cheers and here's to many more such challenges.

Image courtesy: Internet

Monday, 29 April 2013

Y for Yellow

This would be an apt post for today, as I'd wanted to write about the CSK fanatics who thronged the stadium in large numbers to support the team yesterday. The IPL is on in full swing. We are midway through the season and CSK - my home team - The Chennai Super Kings, the boys in Yellow are right on top of the table with an as usual last-over nail-biting victory in yesterday's match. 

The stadium was filled with various shades of yellow, with the supporters filling the stands unmindful of the Chennai summer. The Mexican wave saw the rise and fall of this bright color, whistles blowing away to the tune of the CSK song and laughter and happiness all around. 

The captain MS Dhoni hit a sixer off the last ball of the CSK innings; the stadium erupted as the total shot off to a 200 runs. With 201 for a victory, the match looked evenly poised with a few dropped catches and some poor fielding by the home team. The last over magic by Chris Morris saw CSK romp off with a clear victory. 

It was bleed yellow, whistle podu all through the game and was worth the money spent on the tickets. 

Here's to CSK! Bring home the cup boys! #whistlepodu #ipl6 #csk

A whistle for my boys!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

X for XOXO

XO is normally used for hugs and kisses over letters or chat conversations. As I looked for the etymology of this, I came across a few theories.One is that the letter X resembles two mouths touching. A second theory, which is the most common one, dates back to middle ages. It claims that when people could not sign their name, an X is marked at the end of the document and kissed in good faith. 

Do you know any other theory?

xoxo :-)

Image courtesy: Internet

Friday, 26 April 2013

W for Willy Wonka

One of my favorite characters from one of my favorite authors Roald Dahl, is this creative, weird, odd genius who owns the chocolate factory. He is almost magical and there are times I've wished I was Charlie and became the heir of the chocolate factory, given my love for chocolate. Who can resist the yummy hot chocolate in the cool evenings or a dollop of chocolate sauce over the vanilla ice cream? It's the chocolate that comes to my rescue when I feel low. And each time I pick up a piece of Lindt or Godiva, I imagine I am inside the chocolate factory surrounded by the aroma of chocolate and this delicious liquid dripping away from every possible corner. Can there ever be a chocolate overdose!

Here's to Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory :-)

Image courtesy: Internet

Thursday, 25 April 2013

V for Vanilla

The most expensive spice, only after saffron though, vanilla has always been my favorite flavor. And no, I don't mean the artificial ones we get in the store. There's plenty of difference between the bottled nonsense available off the shelf and the authentic flavors made at home / procured from specialty stores. I recently read a blog post on how to make the essence at home.

Ice creams, milk shakes, cup cakes - you name it - I prefer the vanilla. This simple yet fragrant spice has me on a high every time I take a spoonful. Last week, we'd been to Mickaël Besse's store here and ordered the vanilla raspberry tart. This was served with a mini scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream. The best I've ever had. This is one flavor that can be easily combined with any other flavor and yet can retain it's individuality.

I love the flavor and aroma of vanilla so much that my latest body lotion kit from Bath and Body Works is the warm vanilla and sugar. The aroma is so soothing that it actually lulls you to sleep. #Addicted

What's your favorite flavor?

A couple sharing an ice cream (Photo by Emily Anne Epstein)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

U for Uphill

We are often faced with an uphill climb - at work, home, or life in general. That climb is going to be hard; it's going to be tough; you may run out of breath at times; the path is steep and rocky.

You might want to rest for a bit but don't give up. You are nearly there.

And when you reach the summit, that exhilaration will make it all worth it.  As the wind caresses your face and glides through your body, the pain vanishes and all that's left is that supreme sense of calm.

Remember - there's a hand to hold and a voice to guide. I know you are there beside me taking me through all of the troubled times; a simple hug makes all the difference. I know you've held my hand when the going got tough; I mouth a silent prayer for all those moments that you've been there with me and for those that you'd be in the years to come. Thank you for making the uphill climb interesting and relatively easy.

Image courtesy: Internet

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

T for Twirl

As a little girl, I always loved twirling my long skirts and frocks and gaze in surprise at the umbrella it turned into. That childhood fascination with twirls, I realized, never went away. I didn't quite wear skirts later on but that never stopped me from performing a small twirl every now and then. A few months ago, I'd bought a red salsa skirt (not that I do salsa) and as I wore it the urge to twirl was so much I couldn't resist twirling a bit even when I was at work.

A twirl is that childish pleasure; a sense of freedom as you inhale that whiff of air; a sense of joy and happiness as you hold his hand and twirl around and smile that smile that's worth everything in life!

Image courtesy: Internet

Monday, 22 April 2013

S for Soliloquy

This was a word I was made aware of an year ago. I was at a friend's place making dinner. I opened the refrigerator door and was fishing out some tomatoes and onions. And as usual, I was talking to myself. My friends who were in the living room thought I was saying something to them. :-)

Soliloquy is a Shakespearean usage, where the characters talk to themselves or to others characters in a lengthy monologue, in an attempt to make the audience aware of the emotions or feelings.

The act of talking to oneself does not indicate madness. It's a means of venting out or even thinking aloud and many a time, I find that it helps to talk out aloud. That said, do not attempt it all the time lest people start thinking you are crazy :-)

Image courtesy: Guardian. A photo mimic of Velásquez's Rokeby Venus.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

R for Romance

A highly misinterpreted and misconstrued word, this one! Romance does not mean sex. Romance is him whispering in your ear that he has an appetite for something else. Romance is not buying a gold ring and taking you out to an expensive lunch. Romance is giving a hug from behind when you are in the kitchen sweating it out. Romance is not the passionate dance but the soft kiss on moonlit night. Romance is not when he professes undying love for you. Romance is when you know he loves you by his simple actions. Romance is the soft peck on the forehead; it is the understanding when things don't go right; the simple squeezing of your hands when things aren't looking up; that simple nod and a smile; Romance is not buying that box of godiva chocolates but the simple gesture of making you smile when you cry.

Romance is a prelude to love and is an extension of love. Romance is you.

Image courtesy: mobile9.com

Friday, 19 April 2013

Q for Quiet

Having lived in the city, I always long for some quiet time and a quiet place. Most times, I look for it outside; the early mornings in the park or those late evenings near the sea shore, the only sound being the chirping of the birds or the swishing and crashing of the waves. On those rare occasions that I get to my senses, I realize that this quiet can be found within the soul. Even amidst the noisiest of places, if you can quieten your senses, the mind calms down and the quiet soars. Look deep inside and there's a sense of nothing, a calm, a quiet, a force that'll guide you through troubles times.

How do you find your quiet spot?

Photo courtesy: Vinod Velayudhan

Thursday, 18 April 2013

P for Pink

I know many women who don't like to be associated with the color pink claiming it's too girly. I have no such qualms. I love the color, its various shades and hues, the soothing feel of the satin pink, the bright cotton candy pink, the pink of the early morning / late evening sky and the soft pink of a baby's feet.

That said, I don't own a pink wardrobe :-) Someone gifted me a pink (OK it was more mauve, but it's the thought that counts) wallet knowing my penchant for this color and I refused to throw it away until I got another pink one. Once I was about to board a bus and the bus was pink in color. My yoga mat is pink, my chair cushion is pink. But I'd never buy a pink car or wear pink lipstick My walls are not pink but my ottoman is.

And the highlight of it all was when someone gifted me a pink knife, knowing my love for the kitchen and pink! #happiness

What's your take on pink?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

O for OM

Note: This post is inspired after reading Susan Taylor's post on Namaste

The vibrations of the sound of Om is by far the most mysterious and sacred. I was taught, as part of my Art of Living course, to chant long OM 3 long times as soon as I wake up. Day 1, I didn't quite realize the implications. On day 6 though, not only did the sound come naturally to me but I could feel my entire being at peace and the sound of this mystical word reverberating through my body.

There are various meanings and connotations to this word. The word Om (or AUM) is the beginning of sound - with A not touching your lips / tongue and ends with M pursing your lips. The U rolls from the pit of the stomach and completes the formation of the first sound that incorporates your complete body and soul before pronouncing this.

This post is also indirectly related to Nothingness.

What's your experience with OM Chanting?

Image courtesy: http://www.clipart.dk.co.uk

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

N for Nothingness

Nothing is the absence of something. It could be anything but when that anything is not there, it leaves a void. That empty feeling, that nothingness, ironically weighs heavy. How can nothing be heavy?

That empty feeling when the loved one has to go away for a while is one such experience. The house feels alone, empty and quiet. The heart is empty and yearns for that morning hug. The bed, the couch, hell even the kitchen feels empty. That nothingness sucks.

Sometimes the mere shifting around on the bed even in the deepest sleep brings this near-empty feeling and you reach out to see if he's there. That reassurance brings a deep sigh.

At some level, this nothingness brings you closer to the cosmos. The deep meditation techniques bring you one with nature. At that point, nothingness becomes light & weightless. You are free from all worries; the universe takes care of you. Living in the moment of nothingness brings you closer to that moment that you've been searching for all your life. Nothingness is also termed as Absolute or Nirvana.

What do you perceive nothingness as?

Image source: http://www.hope24seven.com/

Monday, 15 April 2013

M for Mills and Boon

When I think of romance and happily-ever-after, Mills and Boon is what comes to mind. I do know many of you shy away from discussing this although you might have secretly placed a copy of one of these in between the school books. The epitome of romance NOT, but surely what every teen age girl loved to read.

A rugged handsome guy and the petite (or not too sexy and virgin) girl, a cow boy, a ranch, an orphan kid, a few puppies, a money-is-the-only-concern fiance / fiancee, a Vegas trip, getting-married-in-drunken-stupor-and-getting-pregnant - there you have your story line. Throw in bit of lust and sex here and there and you have written your first Mills and Boon story. Of course, there has to be a scarred past and some emotional barrier too.

All of this gives hope, a secret world where we believe that miracles still happen. As much it might be fantasy, there's a little amount of truth in there. It's these small things, those subtle realizations, those tiny bits of happiness, the hope that someday we'd meet the love of our life who'll sweep us off our feet, those wee surprises that keep our lives going.

How many of you have read at least one book of Mills and Boon / Harlequin Series? Out with the truth :-) I still do.

Image courtesy: The Guardian

Saturday, 13 April 2013

L for Lee Child

Lee Child is one of my favorite authors and he sure deserves a separate post. I've always enjoyed crime and thriller fiction and a few years ago my best friend graciously allowed me to borrow a few books to save me from boredom. The first one from that lot that caught my attention was Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child. I was hooked, to say the least. The lead character Jack Reacher became my favorite hero of all times. After I read that book, I hit the book store with a vengeance and collected all of his books.

Lee Child is the pen name of the British Author Jim Grant.  I've now read all of his Jack Reacher series and been crazy enough to pre-order new releases the moment Landmark makes the announcement.

Recently, one of his books - One Shot - was made into a full length feature film starring Tom Cruise. I wondered if Tom would be able to do justice to this legendary character and was genuinely surprised to see him portray this character with aplomb.

The next book - Never go back - will be released in Sep 2013. A perfect birthday gift.

If you haven't read Lee Child, please go pick up TripWire to begin with. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

This post is dedicated to my fellow Lee Child fans - you know who you are :-)

Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Friday, 12 April 2013

K for Kiss

That microsecond when your neck is expecting a kiss..
...is the most sensuous. A whiff of mild breeze ruffled her hair; she looked up and smiled coyly.

His words rang in her ears "A picture is worth a thousand words, but a kiss is worth a million!"

He was about to kiss her that evening.

That kiss which would have spoken a million words, that one kiss which would have told her she was still desirable despite the sleepy look, that kiss which she would have wanted to go on forever, that kiss, that she still regrets, didn't happen, and the one kiss that would have stirred and awakened the dormant woman in her!

As she stood, looking out the window reminiscing that moment, a rain drop fell on her lips. She felt him pushing her hair away and plant a soft kiss on her neck! She blushed, smiled and turned; there was no one but her imagination running riot. Her cheeks flushed; warm blood ran through her.

Clouds opened up and the rains lashed.

He wanted to kiss her, not for that moment, but forever. She made him feel alive. He couldn't forget that moment, when she was so near, yet so far, almost vulnerable. That almost-kiss, that moment was gone and will always be remembered as a missed kiss; but he wanted to smother her in a million more.

He couldn't stop thinking about her; if only he had kissed her, that would have been much more intoxicating than the drink he held to his lips.

That kiss that she would have wanted again and again and again, that kiss that would have spoken volumes of the desire of the man kissing her, that kiss that would have made her melt in his arms.

Ah just one kiss, and the world would have spun! She would have held him for dear life, reciprocating with the same passion and desire, something she didn't realize, at that point, existed.

His lips drew into a smile, waiting for the moment, when he'd be able to take her in his arms again, and again... and again... and kiss her senseless!

Image courtesy: Goodreads.com

Thursday, 11 April 2013

J for Jillu

This is a character from a movie very close to my heart. A best friend, an excellent musician, the innocent girl with a brilliant sense of humor and down-to-earth simplicity - this character, played by Manorama, has all the qualities of a supporting artiste. A well etched and well analyzed character, Jillu is the best friend of the lead character in the movie. She not only helps relieve his stress but also helps him understand his ego and unites him with his lady love. A true symbol of friendship and character is displayed by Jillu at various junctures.

I've watched his movie a million times and yet each time when this character appears, I somehow lose myself in her charm and wit.

Movie credit: Thillana Mohanambal
Artiste: Manorama
Character Name: Jil Jil Ramamani. 

This blog is named after this character, for it has inspired me in more ways than one. 

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Tantra - A book review

A quick note about the the author of this book: Adi, a Harvard MBA graduate, seems to want to reclaim the love for his land and his passion for writing through this book.

Anu, a vampire hunter, from New York, descends in India in search of not just her roots but also the killer who was responsible for killing the only man she ever came close to marrying. As she prowls on the streets of Delhi, (and it may perhaps carry a relevance here in the light of recent unsafe events that have been happening in the capital), she encounters another guardian angel Amit who helps her.

Anu is a strong character, modern in thoughts yet traditional in her roots. Her love for her man was so strong that she was unable to forget it for a long time. Her tender heart and soft demeanor make you wonder if she’s really the tough person she is but the way she bounces back so quickly shows the character’s grit and determination. Her outfits have been brilliantly thought of; however the leather in the hot Delhi seemed a tad out of place. However, this was nicely offset by making the aunt suggest cotton.

The book also talks about astra, mantra and tantra which form the base on Indian mythology and religion. The lovely way in which this has been integrated with the modern times has to be lauded. If you love tantric concepts and have a fascination for Indian mythology and tantras, you can most definitely read this book.

A subtle romance, vengeance, emotions, superstitions, God, religion, fight sequences, and not to forget references from the Bhagavad Gita - which simply says - Do your Duty and results will follow make this an interesting read. Having said that, there are places where the pace goes down a bit, especially where Anu and Amit's banter goes overboard.

This book a great blend of various factors that constitute a one-non-stop read. There are aspects you tend to miss out on the first read and when you read it again, quite a few things become clear; especially the parts where Dr Sharma emphasizes the concepts of Astra.

I may not have picked it off the shelf from a book store but given that I have had a taste of what this book has given me, I could perhaps browse for more of such genres.

A great first attempt.

The author's page is at https://www.facebook.com/dearAdipage/

A big thanks to Blogadda for the opportunity to review this book.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program  for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

I for Idli

This quintessential South-Indian breakfast has never ceased to amaze me. With just 2 ingredients (not including salt and water), the light and fluffy rice-lentil cake is a daily breakfast in almost all South-Indian households.

Kids (oh and many adults too) love it with ghee and sugar and restaurants often serve a platter of the Idli with a variety of chutneys and sambhar (tamarind lentil sauce). The mini idlis served in a bowl full of sambhar, topped with a little ghee is lip-smackingly awesome.

With so many variations like the rava idli and oats idli, one is sure spoilt for choices. The vada makes a perfect accompaniment to this platter. The left over batter is used to make dosa (Indian crepe), or the kuzhi paniyaram, or add vegetables to make a healthier version of the idli. The left over idlis themselves can be chopped, seasoned and made into idli upma / idli chaat / fried idli / idli manchurian and what not!

My perfect choice would be the spiced chilli lentil powder with a generous dash of gingelly oil.

What's your favorite side dish for the idli? :-)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

H for Hope

When all else fails, Hope is the only thing that keeps us going - the hope that there'll be a light at the end of the tunnel, that the sufferings will soon vanish, that the pain will get better, that the tears will transform into smiles, that the prayers will be answered, that some day the soul will rest in peace.

Here's to you all for clinging on to that Hope that's going to see us through - a sincere wish and a silent prayer from me to you!

Quoting a few lines from one of my favorite songs:

So I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands to pray
To be only yours
I pray to be only yours
I pray to be only yours
I now know, you're my only HOPE

Light, Prayer and Hope

Monday, 8 April 2013

G for Goofy

One of my favorite Walt Disney characters, this fellow happens to be Mickey and Donald's best friend. Often characterized as nutty, less intelligent and dumb, Goofy has had some poignant moments interacting with his son Max!

There have been quite a few arguments on why this character is treated as a human while Mickey's pet Pluto, is a normal household dog, considering both Goofy and Pluto belong to the canine species!

Who's your favorite Disney character?

Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Saturday, 6 April 2013

F for French Braid

I'd wanted to do a F for Fitness post but realized this was more fun, partly because of a friend who loves women in French braid (Tresse Française) and partly because of other friends who want to rag this friend and partly because of popular demand! :)

This not-so-easy hair do makes a woman look stylish and chic. Especially the summer months calls for a hair style that holds the hair without them plastering all over the face. And more so, on a bad-hair day. I usually wear my hair like this for workouts and long walks.

The Indian "pai-pinnal", typically worn after a hair wash, on wet hair, is a variation of this French Braid.

I dedicate this post to Sriram Acharya. To all my fellow CBCians, start music! Cheers.

Image courtesy: Wikihow

Friday, 5 April 2013

E for Elephant

What's the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of these majestic beasts?

A blessing from an elephant at any temple that I go to. Drop a coin in its trunk and it'll graciously bless you by gently tapping your head as you bow down. That said, there's always this small nagging feeling somewhere at the bottom of the heart - the feeling that wonders if the elephant will trample you (just like it trampled my favorite poet Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharathiyar). But this has never stopped me from enjoying the childish pleasure of being blessed by this huge creature.

The elephant at the Pondicherry Manakula Vinayagar Temple, in her younger days, used to love Fanta and Pepsi. Now that she's getting older, we've been requested not to feed her anything as her tummy gets upset too soon! A funny incident that I always think of when I go near an elephant is what happened to a cousin at the Sri Ramanujar Temple, SriPerumpudur. As she bowed down to this mighty beast (her name is Kodhai - the elephant I mean), Kodhai showered my cousin with a er... huge sneeze.

How many of you love and enjoy the experience of being blessed by an elephant?

Image courtesy: Sowrirajan s (Flickr: Elephant) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, 4 April 2013

D for Dharma

I quote from the Bhagavd Gita here - A book that I refer to when I need guidance. (Oh there are other books too - Bharathiyar Kavidhaigal for instance). There are various verses in this brilliant text and I quote here one of my favorites.

Yadha Yadha Hi Dharmasya
Glanir Bhavathi Bharatha |
Abhyuthaanam Adharmasya
Thadhatmanam Srijami Aham ||

Parithraanaaya Saadhoonam
Vinashaya Cha Dhushkritam |
Sambhavaami Yuge Yuge ||

When righteousness (Dharma) fails (or declines) and the unrighteousness (adharma) is on the rise, I will descend upon the Earth. 

For the protection of the good and destruction of evil, and to stabilize Dharma, I will be born in every Yuga. 

Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

C for Cat

I know we all have been taught this in kindergarten when we started learning A for apple. So what's it about cats? I don't hate cats. But I don't love them either. This fur ball has a mind of its own and wanders away, coming back only when the hunger pangs strike.

A relative had 5 cats, all of which ran away one fine day. They don't yearn for their master (for that matter, the cats own you, and you will end up yearning for them).

As cute as these creatures are, they are the ones associated with varied superstitions, good ones and bad ones. Black cats were hailed in Egypt, they were wedding presents to the bride, a lucky charm for new ventures, a symbol of fertility and safe travels and what not! But then, this tiny creature is also known to sniff out souls of little babies (and hence 9 lives for a cat)

But why did I choose cat for today's blog? I owe this topic to a book I finished reading couple of weeks ago - Kafka On The Shore. Interesting, is perhaps a very small word to explain how this book was. The lead character in this book is able to talk to cats as he goes about finding lost cats. The cats are also able to have a sane conversation with this man. Weird, NOT. This book actually made me go online and look for a lot of cat superstitions. Just google and you can find plenty!

I end this post with a question: If I cross the cat's path before it crosses mine, is it good luck for me? ;-)

Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

B for Bharathanatyam

Bharatanatyam is the dance of Lord Shiva, an art form originated in TamilNadu, a refurbished version of an ancient dance form - sadhir. This dance form is known for its grace and poise. Each movement is based on Bhavam, Ragam and Talam (and hence the Bha-ra-ta-Natyam). In the days of kings and queens, the thasis (or the courtesans) were required to be trained extensively in this art form. What was earlier meant to be performed at temples slowly became a court performance for the kings, and later became an art form that spread far and wide.

There are 5 major dance forms, which are the manifestations of the pancha bootham. The Bharatanatyam is a manifestation for fire, while Kuchipudi is that of the earth, Kathakali for sky, Mohiniaattam for air and Odissi for water. As with any other aspect of the universe, the Bharatanatyam also has the masculine form - the thandavam and the feminine form - lasya (grace).

The Kalakshetra, a prominent dance school in Chennai, was set up by Rukmini Arundale in 1936 and this helped train men too!

The Bharatanatyam was made popular and even a layman learnt to appreciate this art and that credit goes to the movies. And the video below is one of my favorites, a dedication to a brilliant actor and dancer.

Monday, 1 April 2013

A for Anarkali

*This blog is part of the A-Z Challenge - Apr 2013*

Legends always impress & interest me. The stories of princes and princesses, kings and queens, stories of their love, passion, war and grandeur has me hooked. I have grown up listening to stories of everlasting love, of brave warriors fighting for their land, of rich palaces, of plots, of revenge and of victory of good over evil. As much as I loved happy endings, I also began to understand the greatness of power, the strength of emperors in wreaking havoc, the helplessness of young lovers and the beautiful tales woven with intricate finery.

Indian heritage is famous for legends. One such and my favorite is that of Anarkali, literally translating to the pomegranate blossom.

The love story of the court dancer Anarkali and Salim, son of Emperor Akbar always had me wondering if this is how true love would be! The beautiful-beyond-words courtesan and the handsome prince fell in love, only to be separated later. She was a commoner and he was a prince - naturally, this relationship would never be approved. Yet, emotions rode high, for the couple were in love, a love so deep that he would have done anything to be with his beloved, including raising an army to fight with his father.

Finally, power reigned supreme. The delicate flower was crumpled under the heavy shoes of politics and power. She was supposedly walled alive, with the prince not allowed even a glimpse of his lady-love.

There are other variations to this legend, some that claim that she was rescued and later married the prince, and some that claim that her release was obtained on the promise that she'd never set eyes on the prince again. All this said, her love for the prince was true and beyond any doubt.

Anarkali, the beautiful maiden who lost her life in quest for true love, will always remain a favorite.

*image courtesy: wikipedia