5 things I learnt from my fish

1. We all die

Our first Beta named Vishnu, lived with us for over a year. He was the lord of his little bowl fish heavenkingdom. He swam with a purpose and flashed his royal blue fins at us whenever we dared enter his field of vision without his permission. He ate heartily and pooped earnestly. One day we found his highness floating like a common dead fish stripped of his glory. We gave him a royal flush and said our good byes humbled.
Life is short and we realise the value of important things often only when they are taken away from us. We resolved to take stock of people and things that make us really happy and spend time with them.

2. The world is oddly misshapen

Ill and confined to the couch, I found myself wondering one day, how does little Fawkes experience the world. Now Fawkes is our current betta. Bright red and feisty, he lacks the regal air (or water) around him, but makes up for it by being cheery and active.

watching fishbowl

We had washed his bowl and set it out to dry. So I dragged by feet to the balcony, picked up the bowl and angled it so I could see what Fawkes saw. It felt like I was in the house of mirrors – strange shapes and colours with no semblance of order.
Life is like that in many ways. People and things may not be clear or make sense but that doesn’t mean life is as lopsided as we sometimes think it is. Things might look stretched beyond our field of vision and overwhelming in reality it might just be a trivial thing if you break it down. So yeah I learnt to live with the quirks and that made my days much more productive.

3. You don’t need a lot to be happy

Vishnu seemed infinitely happy in the little bowl. He swam round and round. He surveyed the land and took stock of the jokers outside. He picked a spot to rest his sapphire head for a while and

Courtesy:pininterest pattie's passion

Courtesy:pininterest pattie’s passion

then resumed lording over his land.
Fawkes on the other had is always exploring. He puts his head between the stones and tries to move them around. You could hear him click clicking away. I felt that maybe he wasn’t being fed enough, but well he just was content rearranging stones and making himself a nice bed to curl over and snooze.
Learning to live with what we got has become more of a challenge to our generation than it has ever been in the history of evolution. Social Media is full of people trying to prove how their life is flashier than others, threatening non ‘likers’ with dire consequences and others decide that we need to offer opinion on their bowel movements updated on the status. Credit culture has turned households into little sweat shops. We’re not the epitome of perfection.

But when I hear click click click I tell myself – We have everything we need and more 🙂 Eventually it should help!

4. Don’t poop where you feed

Courtesy: groupthink.jezebel

Courtesy: groupthink.jezebel

Well when you come home tired and see the bowl decorated with party streamers, you know someone’s been in a feeding frenzy.

While Vishnu used to merrily swim around in filth, Fawkes tries to shimmy away in embarrassment perhaps.

Whether it is work or family, leave the bullshit elsewhere. I can’t stress this enough don’t hang your dirty diapers all over social media for everyone to shake their heads at.

5. The glass is cleaner on the other side

Unequivocally true. The glass is cleaner on the inside or so it seems… and the glass looks cleaner on the outside, so it must seem to the betta.
Cell phones, gadgets, cars, spouses, ice cream, in-laws, cocktails, hairstyles, shoes… there are grass is greeneralways things we wish we had, the could’ve beens and should’ve beens. It’s tough but possible to live without coveting and being happy for others and their success. If it gets too tough, I should learn to shut my gob and move on.
Fishes are fishy in their own way. They seem stupid and unassuming; rolling their eyes around in chlorine induced vacant haze, much like I do during Trigonometry finals. However, they are silently teaching you, sending out their message, a silent presence in your living room, swimming around when you are asleep, watching your convex movements with practised ease… you know what I’m a little creeped out.

To sum it up:

Learn from betta
Fishes can be creepy

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How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard

Sunday mornings all over the world are meant for leisure and absolute abandonment. But here in the Middle East, it is the first day of the week for the public sector employees. Our weekend falls in Friday and Saturday. Not that I’m complaining, my husband who works for the private sector gets just Friday off.

So here I am on a cold Sunday morning at crossroads, ‘To snooze or not to snooze’. If I snooze and miss transport, there is no way I can get to office on time. Annoyed at the prospect I toss the sheet and stop dead at the unfamiliar sight. This is not our bedroom… The haze lifts and I realise we have fallen asleep on our couch. Kooorumpf…kaar…kaar. Hmmm. He is asleep. He sounds like he is on the set of The Fast and the Furious movie, but he is most definitely asleep right here on our couch.

My Ji is from a small hill town in India. Absolutely gorgeous, just fresh

Photo Courtesy: Arun Joseph - thatphotocompany

Photo Courtesy: Arun Joseph 

air and greenery all round. Nice people, small town gossip, loyal friends and a cozy family. Moving to the Middle East was a big step for him. The scorching heat and culture shock was monumental. They say big challenges can either make a man wiser or send him away shallow. If you get to know him, there are three things that would stand out. He is painfully honest, passionate in love and unbelievably patient.

For these very same reasons he has been hurt unfairly by shallow pretentious jerks who hide behind a veil of lies and deceit. Every time I ask Ji to expose these frauds, he merely states, ‘That is not for me to do. It is for people to find out’ and I cry in frustration ‘It is ok to be a jerk to other jerks’ and he calmly replies ‘People who love you will stick by your side no matter what. People who don’t are not worth fighting again and again for!’ Argh!

On the other hand, there is still the child in him. Like all other men I suppose. Remote controlled cars, Ferrari Racer on I pad, 45 mins to use the toilet… the whole deal.

What makes me want to wake up next to him for the rest of my life is the fact that I will never get tired of aspiring to be like him. Like a strong oak that is patient, generous, wise, playful and always watching over you; I know his love for his family will stay firmly rooted for ages to come.

Watching him sleep, my mind flashes back to last week’s party where our eyes met across the room, Ji picking up three squealing little nieces all the same time, the girls shrieking in delight, their hair ticking his nose, he was happiest to love, to be loved and at his happiest he looked for me.

Padding slowly to the bathroom, I hear him stumble straight to the kitchen not wanting me to miss breakfast. Can we just take the day off and go back to the couch… maybe turn back time? My job is interesting and I like going to work, but, just need more ‘Ji’ time.

He looks at me and sees his soul mate, a friend, a fellow traveller. He thinks I’m beautiful and likes my crazy incoherent blog. Ji is proud of my talents and interests (which are limited to being a good language coach, cooking the perfect steak and trying to make a difference in the world). He makes me happy, he makes me blush; he makes my heart race and stop. He simply takes my breath away.

I wonder if I’m selfish to love him because I know that all the happiness in the world could be squeezed into the small hazel pool of his eyes and my reflection in them.

Thank you for the prompt WordPress!

Drishyam (Indian – Malayalam) Movie Review(2013)

Cast: Mohanlal, Siddique, Kalabhavan John, Meena, Ansiba, Esther, Asha Sharath, Kozhikodedrishyam Narayanan Nair

Written and Directed by: Jeethu Joseph

Aashirvad Cinemas Production

George Kutty (Mohanlal) is a self-made man. An orphan who dropped out of school after Grade 4, George Kutty has just about worked in every field he has come across. When we meet him, he is the owner of a small cable TV company. Married to Rani (Meena) a sweet and typical housewife, with two daughters Anju (Ansiba) and Anu (Esther), George Kutty spends his days trying to make ends meet and save money for his future plans.

The plot revolves around a terrible situation that threatens to shake the very foundation of the family and the events that follow.

This family thriller had the audience trying to gain one-step ahead of the plot in vain. The interval was abuzz with people bouncing strategies and theories off each other and we could hardly wait for the second half to start.

The hero of the movie is not Mohanlal, but, the screen play itself. Jeethu Joseph has hit this one out of the park. A seemingly unassuming story line quickly involves the audience in the unfolding of events.

The introduction of Mohanlal didn’t have any fanfare. There was a sudden stir in the audience and silence fell like a damp cloth over a fire. Mohanlal did more than just justice to the role. A simple man pushed to extremes could not have been better executed.

That being said, industry buzz says that Jeethu approached veteran actor Mamooty first. Also, drishyam-movie-stills-15-largeJeethu decided to direct the film himself following a proposal from another director to change the script to suit a ‘younger actor’.  Well, we are glad Jeethu Joseph stood his ground with Drishyam, like Troy Duffy did with The Boondock Saints.

Siddique has delivered a solid performance. Asha Sharath, torn between the roles of an esteemed police officer and a mother, the role is a tall order, but she has given it her best shot. She pales in comparison to Siddique though. Kalabhavan John will also consider this film a feather in his cap. Rendering the role masterfully, he has us hating him in some parts while admiring his dogged determination in others. Esther was also praised by a lot of theatre goers and I over heard one little girl ask ‘Poor girl. Will she be ok pappa?’

The best part about Drishyam is the screen play is the cunningly placed decoys that send your mind veering in another direction while the plot stays simple and gives you a whooping climax.

When the movie ended the crowd erupted in wild cheers, the sign of a successful movie. All the way to the parking lot we heard people singing the movie’s praises and we discussed the film on the way home.

The Verdict: Not to be missed.

A good movie is one that goes home with the audience and stays for dinner. Drishyam is that and much more.

P.S: I downloaded the photos used in this post using Google Image Search. They do not belong to me.

Jilla (Indian-Tamil) Movie Review

Cast: Mohanlal, Vijay, Kajal Agarwal,Mahad,Soori, Sampat Raj, Thambi Ramayya

Written and Directed : Neason

Music: D.Imman

Production: R.B. Choudary

Cinematography : R. Ganesh

Stunts: Selva Stunt and Dhilip Subbarayan

The first movie that we watched in 2014 was Jilla. Ajman VOX Cinema, which never turns its back on you when it comes to ticket availability, was ‘Sold Out’ two days in a row.Image

Needless to say this film spiked our interest. On Sunday, we arrived at VOX Cinemas a quarter of an hour before the show was set to begin. We were not allowed past the ticket checker guy who looked flabbergasted at the crowd that had gathered for the show. They made sure to let in the movie goers for all other cinemas and then finally allowed us to enter Theatre Number Five, a mere minute and a half before the show.

The energy in the theatre was electric. You could feel it build up as the movie started with a car being chased and toppled in the still of the night. The crowd collectively held their breaths while the camera panned to show a cigar being snipped and lit, emerging from the deadly night like an apparition amidst the smoke, was the legendary Mohan Lal. His rough salt and pepper look and lethal expression barely registered as the crowd clapped and cheered and whistled in rapture. This man, this legend, larger than life squats next to a cornered enemy. We know he has no way out, Lal’s expression has already conveyed the enemy’s fate to the fans. Then he speaks – I flinch. I notice many people in the audience look at each other and go “huh?!”

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Two seconds ago I was in awe of this master of dialogue delivery. A king among artists – Lal Aettan as he is lovingly called, is one of my favourite and respected actors of all time. Yet, his punch dialogues were not in sync with the tremendous force his expressions alone brought to the movie.

Throughout the movie we can see that Mohan Lal’s impeccable rendering of the role is marred by the ill composed script. It seems like Neason had Rajkiran, Prakash Raj or Sathyaraj in mind while writing the script. Mohan Lal’s reactions and expressions elevate the scenes to a higher plane of movie making and then baam! – the empty dialogues ruin the effect.

When you have an absolute gem like Lal , it is downright disrespectful to book him for a movie and give him such a script to work with.

Vijay as always is Vijay – a brute with a heart who loves his family and is loved by all. Ilayathalapathy’s movie is as predictable as ever but that hardly seemed to matter to die-hard fans who seemed satisfied to just bask in his on-screen presence. As always some songs were mass entertainers and the fights were choreographed in his signature style.

Kajal Aggarwal performance was mediocre and Soori was a welcome relief.

As the movie progresses, the audience seem to be saddened by the sheer predictability of the movie. But the well placed fights and fitting background score by Imman seems to save the day. At least two songs in the movie will be doing its rounds in the hands of top DJ’s in the state.

Jilla is one of those movies that entertain you by just being part of an audience, clapping, cheering and whistling for two of the most famous people in Indian Cinema. But the discerning, intellectual movie goer comes away insatiate.

One thing the movie does not take away from you is your adoration for The Consummate Actor Mohan Lal. The film rides on the unique abilities of Lal Aettan and Ilayathalapathy. Sadly, nothing else comes even close.

All in all, Jilla is a mass entertainer but is hollow on the inside.

7 Step Fried Ice Cream Delight!

Fried Ice Cream… the concept wooed me. Contrary to popular belief, fried ice cream is not an ‘innovation’. It has been around for quite sometime. 

Ok… the number one thing you need for making fried ice cream is -TIME. You’ve got to plan ahead. 

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Here are the ingredients you will need:

  1. Ice cream – Start with a 1/2 litre tub of your favourite flavour. I used London Dairy’s Vanilla. Classic and open to a world of combinations.
  2. Plain Corn Flakes – One standard box or two small boxes
  3. 2 large eggs 
  4. Oil for deep frying
  5. Topping – Chocolate sauce or honey or whipped cream

Let’s get down to business:

  1. Using an ice cream scoop or spoon drop 5-6 dollops of ice cream on to a tray lined with baking sheet.Don’t bother if they are not round 
  2. Put it in the freezer to firm up for a minimum of 2 hrs. (I put it in the fridge before heading off to work in the morning)
  3. Put 2 cups of corm flakes into a zip lock back and go at it like you’ve seen a roach making a beeline toward your Christmas pie. I did this after work and is a good stress buster! Reserve the rest or make another batch to use later. 
  4. Take the ice cream out (one at a time) coat it in the corn flakes (shape them as you go and do it fast) and return to the freezer. Go to bed feeling excited and anxious about your treat for tomorrow evening.
  5. After they have firmed up overnight, crack two eggs, still cold from the fridge, into a bowl, whisk lightly. Drop the ice cream balls one by one in the egg mixture, immediately roll them in the reserved cornflakes (coat them well) and return to the freezer. 
  6. When  they have firmed up, heat oil to medium high. Remove them one at a time from the freezer, deep fry for about 10 seconds, drain for less than 5 seconds on a paper towel and serve immediately with topping.
  7. Topping can be chocolate sauce, warm honey with some berries, whipped cream… just about anything you like.

This is a fry-and-eat-as-it-come- out-of-the-kitchen-recipe. Your guests will probably have to line up 🙂

Watch the magic as it disappears in seconds!

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Stuffes Peppers quick Dinner

10 Step Easy Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Here’s the thing. There are days at work where you get so frustrated that all you want to do is just come home and snuggle up with your beau on the couch. Unfortunately in the muggle world, making dinner is a tad more complicated than waving a wand.

And it came to be at the end of one such day, I found myself in the cereal aisle without realising how I got there. No, dinner can’t be cereal… I mean there must be something simpler. My thoughts flashed back to what was available at home. Left over brown rice, uncooked baby button mushrooms, one questionable onion and white wine… er mom that’s white COOKING wine (Aside: it isn’t).

I picked up a pack of coloured peppers and sliced brown bread and hightailed it out of there.

Dinner was ready in a flash. Here’s how:

Turn the oven on to preheat.

  1. Peel three to four cloves of garlic and roughly chop the questionable onion checking if it is good to eat.
  2. Make a thin slice out of the pepper’s bottom so it can sit upright in the baking pan
  3. Take the top off and dig the seeds out turning the peppers into colourful holding vessels
  4. Meanwhile, throw a pan on the stove and pour one or two tablespoons of olive oil in it.
  5. When it is warm, add garlic, sauté and then add onions and sauté
  6. Add mushrooms (whole or sliced) and sauté at high heat
  7. Once all the water has evaporated, add two tablespoons of dry white wine (skip this step if you don’t have it) to deglaze the pan
  8. The wine will cook off in a couple of minutes, turn off the stove, add the rice and toss with salt and pepper (Cumin powder is an alternative for an asian touch – goes well with feta cheese!)
  9. Fill the mixture into the prepared capsicum and Crumble feta cheese on top, (low fat mozzarella will do as well, but I recommend feta) and place in lightly oiled baking tray
  10. Season on top and put it in the oven for 15 -20 mins depending on the oven temperature and how you like your peppers (capsicum). Longer time in the oven would mean overcooked rice and capsicum/peppers

Serve with toast or soup or whatever else you can whip up in a jiffy. If you don’t have rice, just use more mushrooms. Bacon, shredded chicken – basically if you feel something would taste good with peppers, stick them in and bake the pepper!

Make your starry eyed husband take off his shirt and use it as a backdrop for a quick picture 😉

Stuffes Peppers quick Dinner

Stuffed Peppers with mushroom, brown rice and feta

Expo 2020 Master Plan

What is Expo 2020?

What is Expo?

Expo, short for exposition is a huge public fair or exhibition. It is open to public who usually have to pay an entry fee.

How did it originate?

England and France had hosted national exhibitions since the 1750s. France took the lead in the 1800s, organising many public industrial expositions.  Bureau International des Expositions, BIE (International Exhibitions Bureau) was formed in 1928 to help oversee and being structure to the International Expositions. Many countries signed up to be ‘member states’ of the BIE. To date there are 163 member states that can bid to host future expos  (India is not one of them, but, you don’t have to be a member to have pavilions.)

The first Expo sanctioned by the BIE was held in England called the Crystal Palace Exhibition (1851). The Expo is an exhibition from different countries. For example, in the Crystal Palace Expo , Frederick Bakewell (English Physicist) exhibited a precursor to the modern fax machine and Kudhabadi  Swarankar (Jeweller from Sindh) showed off handcrafted jewellery. Travelling from the Industrial era through the cultural exchange era of the 1980s, Expos today have become evolved to branding countries.

Have Expos left behind something useful?

The Expos have left culturally, economically and environmentally significant trails – The Eiffel Tower (it was the entryway to Paris Exposition Universelle), Palace of Fine Arts (1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition), Japanese Tea Garden (California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894), Expo Park, South Korea (Taejŏn Expo ’93), South Bank Parklands, Australia (South Bank Parklands, official World Expo Museum under construction (Expo 2010, Shanghai) to name a few. The Expo brings the hosts innumerable business, trade and development opportunities.

By the end of the expo, over 73 million people had visited – a record attendance – and 246 countries and international organizations had participated. (Wikipedia)

What can you expect to see in Expos?

Exhibits have included everything from prototypes of firearms to the first mobile phones. They have celebrated cultures, built tolerance, advocated protection of environment and encouraged innovation. Pavillions from different countries will showcase exhibits  usually in line with the theme of the Expo.

When are the next Expos?

The next Expo is set to happen in Milan, Italy in the year 2015. The theme is feeding the planet, energy for life. People from all over the world – up to 29 million – will be able to see, touch and taste the products of the earth in a great living garden that challenges our assumptions about food production and consumption. All aspects of the project – from the use of solar energy and water, to biodegradable materials and green transport – will be designed to cohere with the core objectives of the 2015 Expo theme.

Dubai, UAE has won the bid to host Expo 2020. The theme is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” with three subthemes:

Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE

Expo Logo from official website

Sustainability – lasting sources of energy and water

Mobility – smart systems of logistics and transportation

Opportunity – new paths to economic development

The focus will be on exploring their inter-dependencies and identifying potential partnerships, ultimately resulting in a legacy of innovation. (Info from Expo 2020 dot ae)

With a predicted 70 per cent of the expected 25 million visitors originating from outside the host nation, Dubai will be the most international event in the history of Expo.

Congratulations Dubai and all the best Milan!

I live in UAE, the country is capable of nothing short of the best. Mabrook Dubai!

View the master plans for Dubai and Milan Expos in the gallery. Click on the first image and scroll through the rest like an album. These images have been garnered from the internet. Do not bear any grudges towards the host countries if they tweak the projects a little bit. They will only make them bigger and better.

Cricinfo Crazy? Not me!

Dhawan flattens WI in decider

Pakistan win series in thrilling finish

Scream the headlines On ESPN Cricinfo. Dressed up in smart blue, cricinfo is more than just an average cricket information site. Live scores, blogs, videos, opinions and  diary entries ensure that there is something for everyone. ESPN even has other games like Fantasy Cricket and Jigsaw that you can play on this site. No, I’m not cricinfo crazy, but I visit the site now and then. Let me tell you why

Growing up, my uncle used to round up the kids and play cricket. That means we had to bowl, field, get water, refreshments and endure the wrath of aunties next door whose vegetable gardens the ball landed; all this while uncle practiced his batting skills. When he got tired we could go home and lick our wounds. We dreaded days when all we had to do was chase a ball around. My brother and I were quite creative making fortresses, pirate ships, flying carpets etc… cricket- we never related to because we hated playing it. Yet, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the world cup and other series. It is easy to enjoy matches in the company of family or friends through we do not care about it at all.

Cricket has evolved into something that brings people together on a

Cricket Lovers

Pic Courtesy Amsentil dot com

common turf. A neighbour’s house (who hosts some of the most violent inter family shouting matches in the city) fills with shouts of encouragement and disappointment and cheers when Chennai Super Kings play. We celebrated and grieved for Sachin, cricket lovers and non-enthusiasts alike. We were invited to cricket parties even when India or our IPL teams were not playing. We watched cricket finals in neighbourhood parks projected on giant screens.

On days when I miss that part of my childhood, mostly spent spinning vain plots to hide from our cricket crazy uncle… I visit cricinfo and immerse myself in a world that I love to hate as a child. I may not be a fan of the sport, but love the spirit of what Cricket stands for from a common person’s perspective in India -Camaraderie, a lot of shouting, leaving office early, crowds in front of TV showrooms and barber shops, impromptu parties in roadside tea stalls… ah! Time to visit crickinfo again!

26/11 – Remembering Mumbai

26/11 That was a day you didn’t have to work, a beautiful November day

Image Courtesy post dot jargon dot com

Image Courtesy post dot jargon dot com

Get in here with me you teased as I set down the coffee tray.

That was a day our son’s music teacher cancelled and our son was enthralled

You had to work, urgent business you said, I was secretly happy when the car stalled.

 

26/11 That was a day when I ran behind the tuk tuk to give you the phone you left behind

Children played in the streets, families chattered, I watched from the balcony, resigned.

That was a day Renu Aunty decided to show up with her awfully boring stories

Our son broke Sharma ji’s window panes adding to our list of worries.

 

That was a day I put our son to bed and readied quite the treat

I had dinner alone and angry, you called from the cab- another client to meet.

That was the day the delicious taste of parathas lingered long after my anger subsided

Before the perpetual taste of grief oppressed my palate and even simple pleasures receded.

 

26/11 That was the day when you didn’t come home my darling

Our son didn’t understand why you weren’t there in the morning.

That was the day we were thrown at the mercy of this world

Some say I got justice that I deserved- but my senses… they are still blurred…

Vacancies

Children play carefree

Monsters glare from the shadows

Angels wanted – apply

My 100th post – Haiku dedicated to Bachpan Bachao Andolan – Save the Childhood Movement.Their mission is ‘To identify, liberate, rehabilitate and educate children in servitude through direct intervention, child and community participation, coalition building, consumer action, promoting ethical trade practices and mass mobilisation.’

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They have rescued 82808 children from from bonded labour and slavery since 1980 till today. Watch their video that went viral recently here

I wanted to write a bigger article, but, wordpress inspired me with the Haiku Challenge