Movies 2016

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I watched quite a few movies in 2016.

One of the movies that I really loved watching in 2016 was Aandavan Kattalai. The entire plot of the story, although supposedly an extremely depressing subject, was treated with so much humor. Right from the name of the girl (Kaarmegakkuzhali, what a lovely name!) to Vijay Sethupathi’s casual acting to Nasser’s drama troupe to Yogi Babu’s character to not meaning to sermonize about the subject. There was nothing to not like about the film.

The other movie that I really enjoyed watching was Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum. It was a very slow film but it never felt like it. The relationship between Vijay Sethupathi and Madonna Sebastian was depicted so wonderfully avoiding cliches as much as possible. And both of them played their parts like pros. Especially Madonna for being just a few films old. Props to SaNa’s BGM and the much catchy KaKaKaPo.

Kabali. I went into this film with so many negative reviews coming mostly from social media. My expectations wasn’t as much as it would generally be for a Thalaivar movie. But honestly, I still don’t understand the large amount of negative reactions for the movie. I watched it twice and I loved it. Let’s face it, it wasn’t a typical Rajni movie but some portions of it (the introduction part and the climax) were total paisa vasool for us. But otherwise too it had Ranjith written over it. The subtle messages about Dalit oppression, the construction of the Johnny character, the Malaysian backdrop and their beautiful Tamil – it was all typical Ranjith. Also, SaNa’s songs and BGM was his best till now. The fact that Thalaivar acted his age (that too, he was semma in the first part, no) and he actually was given a wife and daughter who were strong willed characters were unknown of until now. What exactly were these critics thinking I really don’t know!

Now that I’ve written about the good movies of 2016, let me tell you about the movies that I hated watching. Rajni Murugan and Remo. I really like SivaKarthikeyan. Which is why I fall prey to watching his cliched, unfunny, torturous movies even though I know I would never like them. I am seriously **this** close to hating him unless he starts choosing scripts that don’t assume that the average viewer is dumber than a second grader.

While I at least finished watching Rajni Murugan and Remo, I couldn’t even stand more than half hour of Kashmora. Yes, yes.. I still am a fan of Karthi but that film was.. well, a typical Karthi film. Local language, cheap jokes and nothing engageable. But hey.. Mani saar’s Kaatru Veliyidai is on the way to revive his career.. or so I hope. After all, hope is all we Karthi’s fans have!

One of those days…

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… when you feel like you are all over the place;

… when you question every one of your decisions made until now;

… when you can’t decide if the day is good or bad;

… when you wonder what this life is all about;

… when you lose hope in yourself and the world around you.

One of those days. Sigh. 

Random Friday

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– Today is Holocaust Memorial day. I woke up to a couple of Twitter threads on the Holocaust and shuddered reading through them. Every time I read about the events that unfolded then, it makes me aghast at how low human beings can stoop to.

– This morning, the kids wanted to video-call their grandparents. I generally try to hide myself from the camera (you know why!) I tried to do the same today as well but somehow a part of me was shown on camera. First, my mom saw me and remarked that I’ve lost weight. A little while later, my paati came to talk to the kids, saw me inadvertently and asked ‘if I wasn’t feeling well because I’ve lost weight’. I should ideally be happy but I know I’ve only gained a couple of pounds over the last month. If you want evidence, you can ask my gym buddy.

– Talking about gym buddy, not a day goes by without me thinking about how blogging is such a blessing. We talk a lot about internet trolls but what we need to equally talk about is how we’ve built friendships over the years because of the same big-bad-internet. I don’t think I would’ve made so many friends all around the world if not for the internet. These friends, who are there for me whenever I am down, who rejoice when I am happy, who give me practical advice when I need them, who really don’t expect anything in return for their time and love. I am so so blessed to have found blogging and all you guys out there.

– It’s Allez Vs. Vamos, I mean Roger Vs. Rafa at the Australian Open this weekend. Also, Venus Vs. Serena. Do you know the four finalists have a total of 60 grandslam titles among them? Out of which, Serena has the highest of 22! It doesn’t matter who wins (except I really wish Fed wins!), it’s so nice to know thirties are the new twenties. That that person, that that problem!

– I’ve been binge watching ‘How I met your mother?’ for the last few days now. I should say I am kind of liking it.

– Today is one of those days when a lot of questions are haunting me. I am trying to find answers for these but apparently it isn’t as easy.  I hope in due course some of these questions get answered. How much ever I hope, I also do know that I’ll have to live with a lot of unanswered questions too.

Conversations with the kids

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Listen.. Both of you come here.
**they assemble after a five minute discussion on how some app in their chromebook is dispensing golden stars to everyone**
What ma?
I’ve been screaming for the last half hour to tidy up the place. At least for me to stop the screaming you could do it, right?
You were screaming, Amma?
**I try to continue as if no mann ottified in my meesai** Why are you never listening to me? What can I do to make you listen to me? Why do you always continue doing your work but not what I say?
Because what we do is fun, ma. You always ask us either tidy up or hang the clothes or eat something healthy. All these are chores. But what we’re doing like watching TV, playing games is all fun, ma. You tell me.. which one will you do?

Be right back, because now in #IndhaAsingamUnakkuThevaiya mode!

*****

Amma.. M has a crush on…
**wondering if this boy has time-travelled ten years to be seventeen now** What exactly do you mean by crush da?
**daughter grinning from the other side ** You don’t know what crush means? Really, Amma?
No, I don’t!
Crush means love, ma.
Okay, then.

******

Amma.. What exactly does divorce mean?
Do you want to eat idli-podi?

Two days later…
Amma.. You still haven’t answered my question.
What?
What is a divorce?
Shall I make Nutella pancakes for breakfast?

Two more days later…
Amma.. WHAT IS DIVORCE?
Chocolate ice cream, anyone?

And, life goes on!

*******

Do you love me or hate me?
Somewhere in the middle, Amma.

Somewhere in the middle is my new catchphrase!

*****

Tag time!

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With just six days to go for this month to end, I really don’t want to give up on this blogathon. But I don’t have anything to write. Which means, tag time. Thankooo BM for your thannalamatra seyal of giving us a tag to take up before you gave up on the Blogathon!

1. What is your best friend’s name?

Can’t tell because anonymity.

2. Who would you throw into the Bermuda Triangle?

If I throw all who I want to into the Bermuda Triangle, then the triangle itself will vanish!

3. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?

I will check tonight and update tomorrow.

4. Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from the hotels?

No. You thought I was Ross Geller?

5. Do you always smile for pictures?

I don’t know how to pose for pictures. Either all my 32 teeth are shown or I look like some ummuna moonji. I hate pics of myself.

6. Do you ever dance even if there is no music playing?

Yes. I dance only when there is no music playing. Because no one will realize that I am dancing.

7. What is your song of the week?

Vetri kodi kattu
Pagaivarai muttum varai muttu
Latchiyam ettum varai ettu
Padaiyedu Padaiyappa

8. Do you still watch cartoons?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

9. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some?

If my treasure is already hidden, why would I need to bury it?

10. Heels or flats?

Platforms.

11. What movies could you watch over and over and still love?

Thalaivar movies only. What else?

12. Last person you kissed?

Ammu!

13. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?

A letter requesting transfer for the kid’s school in Dallas.

14. Can you change the oil on a car?

Dei. Now only I am learning to drive itself, adhukkulla if you ask oil change and all, what ra?

15. Are you lazy?

Isn’t everyone?

16. How many languages can you speak?

Two plus half (Indhee) plus quarter (Telugu). What ‘jarugandi jarugandi’ is Telugu only no?

17. Are you stubborn?

Very.

18. Ever watch soap operas?

Yes.

19. How old were you when you had your first kiss?

I don’t know. May be a day or so.

20. Does anyone know the password to your email address? Who?

Yes, my computer and my phone.

21. Do you want any tattoos?

No, thank you.

22. Any strange habits?

Any no. Many.

23. Why do you have a blog?

To torture all of you only. Why else?!

24.If you were the opposite gender. What name would you like to have?

Sivaramakrishna Ganapthi Subramaniam.

25. How old are you?

Why do you want to know?

Well then, one more day over. Thanks BM!

Let’s talk food!

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My gym buddy and I go to the gym four days every week… to talk about food. Yesterday, this girl made me salivate for thengai paal sadham that I opened the coconut milk can without the help of a can opener or the husband and made it (along with tomato kurma) for dinner. The fact that the others in the house didn’t appreciate it as much as I did only made it easy for me to eat the entire thing. Go, Indu! #GymBuddyAmaivadhellam

I have a question to ask food bloggers. Actually, two. No, three.
1. How do you make the right quantity of a different variety of food everyday? Won’t you have leftovers?
2. How do you manage to eat all this lip-smacking-food without guilt?
3. How do you have the energy to clean up all the dishes after the ‘photo-ops’?
#SeriousKostins

There’s one number gulab jamun dabba sitting and staring at me from the cupboard for the last three days now. I don’t know how to say no to it because it’s asking so ‘sweet’ly yaa! #SorryNotSorry

I am going to focus this year on making and eating Mediterranean food. Falafals, hummus, tahini, pita bread, baba ganoush… You know why I made this resolution? There’s a small but brilliant falafal place near by. Even if I fail in the first part of ‘making’ the food, I can always fulfill the second and most important ‘eating’ part by going there. Really, the food is cheap and is super delicious! You want the address? #FocusIsVeryImportant

An hour ago, I googled frantically for motivational videos on ‘How to control yourself from eating away the Halloween haul of your kids?’ but unfortunately I didn’t find any. Which made me even more anxious and I found a Twix bar to combat the anxiety! #StopMeSomeone

Anyway, I got to go and eat lunch. Nothing much. Just rice, ghee, keerai kootu, kathirikkai podi potta kari, rasam, curd and kothamalli thokku. Bye then!

Musing Mondays

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Because even I am tired of my own Musical Mondays, I’ve borrowed this book tag from Smitha.

Musing Mondays are hosted by Miz B.

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Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’ll choose this. Up next, I think I’ll read…

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I have two books unread from the library yet. This and a Jodi Piccoult one. I am sure both are going to be difficult reads. But I am more wary of Piccoult’s books because they almost always hit closer to home.

Let’s talk about Hosseini. The Kite Runner is a powerful book like no other. I remember being overwhelmed by the book when I read it. Even now, as I type this, I am able to conjure up the images that I had of the scenes from the book. His next book, A Thousand Splendid Suns was good too; except it couldn’t match up to The Kite Runner.

So well.. I have chosen his ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ as my next read. It’s got great reviews as usual and all I am hoping it doesn’t make me cry much.

We are like this only!

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Disclaimer – This is an angry post. It might not be coherent. It will not be coherent.

Although the idea for this post has been brewing in my mind for a few days now, I really didn’t want to write this post. Then, the universe has conspired to make me write this down.

First it was my neighbor. They are from Bombay. They are real nice people. They help us a lot. Even an hour ago, they flagged us about some safety issue we inadvertently missed out. But, just like everyone else (hint – me), they have their own biases. A couple of weeks ago, they had come to our place for tea. We were casually talking about so many things when ‘languages’ became the topic of discussion. She asked me, ‘Is it true that people from Chennai say that Hindi is not the national language?’ I calmly said, ‘yes’. When I saw the smile in her face, I continued.. ‘that’s because Hindi is not our national language!’ She protested. ‘No.. Hindi is in fact our national language.’ The ‘in fact’ provoked me. (On an aside, I was PMSing!) ‘India has no national language. On a national level, there are two official languages. Hindi and English. At state level, there are twenty two official languages.’ I rattled on like Gaptun in Ramana. Perks of being on Twitter, I suppose. She didn’t pursue the argument further.

I have absolutely nothing against Hindi. It’s one more language that is used for communication. Just like Tamil. One is not is better than the other. If you like to communicate in Hindi, good for you. I like to communicate in Tamil. As simple as that. There was a time when a lot of us thought not knowing Hindi is a practical problem. But in today’s world, the probability of a Tamil person relocating to a place outside India is much much higher than moving to Hindi heartland. Even if someone not knowing Hindi is forced to move to a Hindi speaking state, then they can learn it, no?

This incident was the first one. Then, came a comment (from someone called S) on GB’s blog generalizing Tamil people as those who ‘go berserk more than anyone else’. The commenter started with ‘no offence meant’ and ended with ‘I mean other states too have people like that but they are bit scared of doing something and will think twice before trying. But tamilians!’

From what I gather from his/her comment, he/she has made the observations based on two trips through Madras in an airplane. Shall we do some simple math to validate his/her comment? Let’s assume he/she traveled by an international flight because larger capacity. Let’s assume that the average number of people in the flight that he/she traveled by is 850. Let me give him/her the benefit of the doubt by assuming the entire flight except him/her were people from Tamil Nadu. Again, benefit of the doubt to him/her – let’s assume ‘all of them’ were behaving badly. So, his/her total sample size based on two trips is 849+849=1698 (I am excluding the commenter because I just assume he/she didn’t go ‘berserk’ as Tamilians do!)

Which means, he/she has based his/her observations based on 1698 people. Tamil Nadu has a population of 77.88 million (census data in 2016). Which means he/she has based his/her observation of ‘tamilians!’ on .002 percent of the total Tamil people.  Do I even need to elaborate this absurdity further?

The last straw came yesterday when a dear girl I know of was rejected for the third time in her Airforce interview because she was Tamil. It made me angry. It made sad. Because, that girl has been doing nothing but giving her hundred percent to make it to this for the last two years. The last time she took the tests and attended GDs and seminars, she kind of figured out they were sidelining her because she was not speaking Hindi. So she quit her day job, took to learning Hindi and prepared herself thoroughly for this interview. Even, the day before when called home, she’d said that she did really well and will get through this time. But, we can’t stand someone who is different from us, can we?

There’s so much talk about a ‘dangerous precedent’ that the students of Tamil Nadu are setting for democracy. What are they doing? Protesting peacefully giving way to ambulances in less than ten seconds. Women are sitting and sleeping in the midst of hundreds of men but not one complaint of harassment. A mother is feeding dozens of college students. Not one politician is allowed near the protesting areas. None of the so-called celebrities dare come near the Marina. IT parks are filled with placards and slogans. So are colleges. Policemen are helping bring food and water. Public life goes on as usual. But, they are setting a dangerous precedent.

‘But but.. they are protesting for jallikattu. It’s cruelty against animals. Tomorrow, someone else might protest against the ban on child marriage?’ The whataboutery on Twitter for the last two days has been killing me. I can even get on board with the whataboutery but the sheer lack of logic and research even from people I used to respect earlier makes me sad.

(Digression – While on whataboutery, I have to apologize to Tharani for doing the exact same thing that I detest while arguing about this jallikattu issue. I am sorry, Tharani. I am still feeling bad for drawing analogies about non-vegetarian food that I shouldn’t have done. I guess I got carried away in the heat of the argument, but that is no justification for what I said!)

You might think the protest is for the jallikattu issue but it’s far beyond that. It’s about sand mafia. It’s about NEET exams. It’s about a state not obeying the Cauvery ruling of the Supreme Court. It’s about farmer suicides. It’s about the MNCs drawing up water from our villages. It’s about inaction on the worst drought that is going to hit TN. It’s about the lack of governance in TN. It’s about the apathy of the Centre. It’s about the prejudice that Tamils are subjected to just because they chose to not fall in line with the others. Yes, it’s also about the money and politics behind the jallikattu ban.

Can we learn about things a little more before we cry hoarse on Social Media? Hah.. Of course not! Of what good is research when we can easily resort to rhetoric and call these protests as emotional outbursts?

OK then.. Let it be that Tamilians are emotional people. Yes, we speak Tamil only. We protest peacefully. We eat idlis. We get out on the streets to help people in need. We clean our own trash. We adore Rajnikanth. What to do? We are like this only!

Just read…

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Okay.. 2017 has started off okay in the book front. I’ve read three books until now and that’s a big leap from the pathetic 2016 I had in terms of books. So, the two books I’ve read are from familiar authors; authors that I love.

The first book I read was Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella. This is a part of her much acclaimed Shopaholic series. I had read Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic ties the knot and Shopaholic takes Manhattan earlier. This is my fourth although this book is the seventh in the series. Okay, now Shopaholic series is a secret indulgence of mine. There’s nothing earth shattering about these books. It’s about a shopaholic (duh!) called Becky (Rebecca) Brandon who gets into trouble because of her foolishness and finally comes out of it. That’s almost the plot of all these books except that the setting changes every time. This book is no different.

Becky goes to stay in LA because her husband’s (Luke Brandon) work has transferred her to the place. She wants to become a stylist for Hollywood actors but she gets stuck in the fame and politics of the Hollywood world. Not only her, but her friend Suze and her husband Tarkein too get entangled in this web. How she comes out of it is the rest of the book.

Although I knew how this book was going to end, I still went ahead and read through the night to finish it off. Closure! But I didn’t know Kinsella had kept the ending to the next (and the last) book in the series. Sigh. Now I have to hunt for that book. Anyway, how much did I like this book? It was okay. Not like I expected. I even lost interest midway through the book which has never happened with a Kinsella book till now. So well, it’s an okay book. Read if you are a Kinsella fan!

The other book I read was The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory. This is a book that precedes the Tudor novels of Gregory. This book is the first of the Plantagenet novels by Phillipa Gregory.

It’s about how Elizabeth Woodwille, a Lancastarian widow makes the King of England, Edward IV fall in love with her, marries him and schemes to get all her family members a part of the court and a part of the kingdom’s fortune. In the course of this, she makes a lot of high profile enemies. How she overcomes all the hurdles to remain queen and how she plots to bring her son(s) and daughter to the throne after King Edward’s death forms the story.

Witchcraft, treason, treachery, conquests – all this fills the book in Gregory’s signature flowery prose. Yet. Yet, this is not Gregory’s best. I’ve read a bunch of her novels and in my opinion this ranks the last. If you are a historical fiction lover, pick this up.

Move

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I’ve always been scared of change. Although I keep telling others (and myself) that I am getting used to it, I don’t like change. Yes, we move a lot and ideally I should’ve gotten used to it by now, but the fact is I haven’t.

Particularly, this time around. I was moving to a place which I dreaded. New Jersey. This is the place where I’ve lived the most difficult two and a half years of my life. Learning everything from a new husband to cooking to running a house. A difficult pregnancy. An even more difficult delivery. The aftermath of the difficult delivery. Taking care of twin toddlers. A self imposed confinement because of the kids and the much-hated winter. I had voluntarily erased this period of life from my head completely.

That’s why even the husband took his time in breaking the news of moving to New Jersey to me. He knew how much I dreaded moving to this place. Yet, what’s got to be done got to be done. I tried not to think about all the memories that came rushing back when he told me about it. But the more you want to suppress something, the more it stares at you on your face.

We deem a place good or bad based on our personal experiences when we live there. That way, Dallas has been awesome. For the three months before the move, I tried to take in the sights and sounds of Dallas. I busied myself with packing and sorting things, cleaning the place, getting the necessary documentation done thus trying to suppress the uneasy feeling of moving to New Jersey that popped up once in a while.

Then, the D-day dawned. Thankfully, we were late for the flight and were running like crazy. Why thankful? Because, when you’re preoccupied with something more important, you don’t really have time to humor your anxiety. During the flight, the kids kept me occupied. I thought it was all going to hit me once I got down. But then, our luggage went missing for a long time which meant my attention was diverted on to that.

The first two weeks went in a daze setting up the house, getting the kids settled in school, finding grocery and other stuff nearby and all such mundane stuff. It was then that the husband started going to work. Which meant, I was the only one at home. Winter was setting in with the gloom that it comes with. And, finally it was hitting me.

I sulked for some time. I went into my shell for most part of the day. Moody was the constant emotion I displayed. I cribbed to all and sundry, including my mom. She brought me to my senses, just like she always does. ‘What are you cribbing about? Yes.. you did have a difficult time then. But, it all turned out well, isn’t it? How many times have you yourself said it could’ve been worse? You are in a happy place now. Kids are independent and all grown up. Try to make the most of it. But for that, you need to stop cribbing and be happy. Do you get me?’ If I had been anywhere near her, I am sure she would’ve given me a whack. But, I knew she was right. I just had to shake myself off and move on with life.

One week later, we decided to go on a tour through our memories. Our old apartments. The temple where we took the kids first to. Their old pediatrician’s office (for a general visit for the school documentation.) Olive Garden. Grocery stores that we used to frequent. It was tough but it was also therapeutic. I have to admit that the pep talk that my mom had with me did help. A lot.

Now, after three months into this place, I should say I am not as bad as I thought I will be. There are still days when I lie low going into my shell trying to not think about some memories but failing miserably. But most days, I try to be cheerful and happy and thankful.

I know there’s a lot of work to be done yet. But baby steps. I hope one day I come to terms with the past and just live in the moment. One day!