Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Calvin's CLoud

Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.

― Ana├»s Nin

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Creams Centre Sizzlers

Creams Centre in Arya puram has been a favourite family haunt. It has become a ritual to take our family members and friends over to this delicious vegetarian haunt, almost like visiting an ancestral house!

Service is generally exceptional and it gets crowded on weekends with people queuing up in large numbers waiting restlessly to be seated. So we usually make a dash for it by having an early dinner - you get to eat in peace and savour every mouthful. There are two key menu items I never miss and neither have the dishes ever failed. 

The Spring Garden soup is fantastic-the softness of the paneer or cottage cheese cuts through the peppery-ness of the soup while the shredded crunchy vegetables balances the corn starch that thickens the soup. Overall, very appetizing and well balanced.

What I love above all else is their fantastic range of sizzlers with generous portions. I have had all their sizzlers on various occasions and I generally seemed to like the Indian varieties with paneer and the Mexican one quite a bit. Infact these are so famous that one of my foodie friends just exclaimed, Creams Centre? when I posted the picture of this divine heap of well marinated succulent paneer topped over a warm bed of rice laid out over a crackling lettuce leaf. I was pleasantly shocked and pleased.

I had been to Kobe's on two occasions and sadly, they were nowhere near what these guys had to offer in terms of service, presentation and taste. Infact the last time I had dragged a friend over for lunch, we had to wait for a long time and the air-conditioning was not working. I was sweating and finally lost my cool. That was the end of it!

This dinner was long overdue. Everytime I made a decision to go out for a meal, I ended up settling for home cooked meals which I personally prepare on weekends and I can confidently say, everyone loves it! 

This time, we made an exception and headed out for a relaxing Sunday evening ignoring the boring Monday looming over us.

Its my dream to have my own eatery with a warm simple menu that has a lot of fun element to it and oozes love. Universe, are you listening to me?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Calvin's CLoud

In the end, though, maybe, we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever, and sincerely, for as long as have voices.

- Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Friday, February 12, 2016

Puthiya Niyamam (2016)

My Punjabi friend and I decided to watch a Malayalam movie at the theatres for three reasons; one, because they are relatively more sensible to watch; second, you have sub-titles in english, which makes it easier to follow, and third, it is  a sweet language. 

I have watched a slew of Malayalam movies, such as Drishyam, a thriller Mohanlal starrer, 22 Female Kottayam with Fahad Fazil in the lead, but the protaganist is a woman who is out for blood, Manachitrathazhu, which had a stellar performance by Shobana (which Jyothika slaughtered in the Tamil version), Mili, a warm hearted story about the introverted misunderstood girl, played by the talented Amala Paul; Bangalore Days that traces the lives of three cousins in Bangalore, and a natural performance in Premam by the handsome Nivin Pauly.

New Testament or Puthiya Niyamam, a Malayalam starrer with Nayanthara and Mammooty in leading roles will have you spellbound. Directed by A.K.Sajan, this mystery genre revolves around the life of a middle class family, comprising Divorce Advocate and film critic Loie Pothen, his Brahmin Kathakali danseuse wife, Vasuki Loie, and daughter; in particular, the turmoil about Vasuki who goes through a strange transformation. The director has done a fine job balancing the weight of both characters and has given them the space to flourish and grow in their scenes, complementing each other beautifully. The movie reminds me of Wazir, Drishyam, and 22 Female Kottayam in parts. 

Just when you think you have it all figured out, Sajan throws you off completely with another twist. Nayanthara shines in her role and this is certainly one of her high points in her career. Mammooty as Divorce Advocate Loie who counsels his clients to live happily and sweeten the unity, does justice to his role not just as an advocate of family values, but also as a doting dad and husband whose entire life revolves around keeping his family happy. The movie can be disturbing to some, but sends out a strong message - the will to live through a tragedy that shakes your being. The easiest outlet is death, or is it? 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Family Trip to Thirukazhukundram

I have been unwell and still recovering from an allergic flu that's been making its rounds in the city. In the midst of my recovery, my aunt and uncle along with my nephew made a plan to visit their family deity, which they incidentally found out through their family priest. I was not planning to join the group for the early morning jaunt for lack of sleep, but divine calling had other plans for me - I managed to get a great night's sleep and was all set to go with the group for our first ever visit to the much talked about 1300 year-old Shiva shrine. My grand aunt was instrumental in getting us all together.

Chennai is quite pleasant at this time of the year. The hour's morning drive was beautiful on the East Coast Road, 70 kms from Chennai and 15 kms from Mahabalipuram. 

means Respectfully, Kazhugu means Eagles, Kundram means mount - the temple lore has it that the sages were punished by Lord Shiva and they visited the temple as eagles for salvation. It is also known as Pakshi Theertam (Holy Birds Tank) and is visited by pilgrims all over the world. The main deity is Vedhagirishwarar on the hill and his consort Thripurasundari, at the base of the hill. There is a Shiva shrine at the base for those who cannot make the steep climb of over 500 steps one-way. When you make your way back down, you will be advised to take a left near the drinking water area, so you actually do a giri-valam (going around the base of the hill in worship, similar to Thiruvannamalai). The Pallava architecture is indicated by the Gajaprushtam (Gaja-elephant; prushtam-backside) style, where the temple sanctum resembles the backside of an elephant. It is also believed that the four vedas, the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva vedas are stacked on top of each other in the form of boulders, hence the name Vedagiri (veda-scriptures, guru-hill) and the presiding deity, Vedagirishwarar.

The temple has also been sung in high praises by saints Appar, Sambandar, Sundarar, and Manickavasagarar. Every 12 years, all the sacred rivers flow here into the temple tank, when the conch is created and Guru (Jupiter) enters Kanni rasi. This is one of the largest festivals celebrated at the temple called the Thirtha Pushkara Mela

The hill is surrounded by medicinal plants and herbs and is believed to cure one of ailments. Along the way, there are many beautiful view points to enjoy the scenery from the hilltop.

It was an enjoyable trip with a lot of adventure, battling the monkeys along the way. So a word of caution to my fellow travellers, hide water bottles and food because these guys will not think twice before they snatch it from your hands.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Calvin's CLoud

Sarah learnt a lot from Alex. Like the way men could say one thing, then another, then act in a way inconsistent with both positions and somehow still be convinced of their own integrity.
- Emily Maguire, Taming the Beast

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Moon and Kipling Cafe

Kipling Cafe was an intriguing name; I was drawn to it because it reminded me of none other then Rudyard Kipling. I had heard great reviews of the place, especially the cabanas, though pricey was a good place to hang out. Among so many other restaurants that I wanted to visit, this was also on the hit list. As much as I tried, it did not happen and I let it be. It is right opposite to the Go Karting track on the ECR and while I had a great time go-karting, food was always a different place.

I am not sure when, but I guess it was after the torrential rains that my entrepreneur friend and I met for dinner after a long time. And where do we go - Kipling Cafe! The universe was conspiring and I was oblivious to it. I was thrilled. They had made a makeshift bridge lighted up all the way upstairs around the waterlogged area and it looked fantastic in the cool evening under the gaze of the moon. She was with us all through dinner and what a lovely sight it was!

We enjoyed a lovely soup and crostinis, followed by a cream based pasta which just was a tad too much for me to handle. The guilt factor did not help. The service was very good, round the clock. Food was lovely, enhanced partly by the shining half-white moon in the grey sky. 

What can I say - who doesn't love simple unexpected surprises!

Happy New Year and Lots of Good Things

I spent the New Year with my family after  a long gap of seven months. My niece was due end of Jan or early Feb and I also had to catch up with my nephew. 

After the terrible floods that turned out to be a living nightmare for Chennaites, it just felt great to be with your own. The new place is a 2 km walk to the Botanical Gardens and the pathway was just lovely, dotted with lush green foliage. The verdant scenery is enough to fill your eyes with wonder and heart with happiness. All I did for two weeks was walk, read, eat, sleep, watch movies and enjoy an outing with my brood.

I came across this beautiful poem in The Sleeping Dictionary, by India's wonderful poet, Rabindranath Tagore, from his book Raghu's Love 1884

Eventhough you like me not
as I have heard you don't
On you I shall ever hang
Like an iron chain fastened to your feet
You are the captive wretch whom the prisoner
I have made by
Tying my heart to yours with a knot
No one can undo

In all its misery, life still has its own loveliness. We welcomed my niece into our world on Jan 22 2016. She looks beautiful. Lovely tuft of jet black hair, all pink tender skin and sweet rosy lips, eyes tucked in tightly in deep slumber, her chubby cheeks glistening and there is so much peace just looking at her in her blissful sleep.