Yes! we have taken tons of pictures and got lots to write about! Till then am off to enjoy my vacation!
Yes! we have taken tons of pictures and got lots to write about! Till then am off to enjoy my vacation!
We are off for a week! Will try to write something sometime! Till then take care!
Outrageous is the only word I can think of. I am not sure how others feel about the whole thing. Let me assure you, I am not a big beauty with a purpose advocate or something. Just happened to see these pictures in some website.
I am really not sure what the idea behind the national costume round is, but I guess it is about how the contestants showcase their respective countries and are able to carry themselves in their national attire. Ofcourse it is a big event for the designers as they want to showcase their skills. But what is the national costume of a country? Talking about India, some people consider saree to be the national costume, others the lehanga and others might even say it is the salwar kameez. So what decides that an attire qualifies as a national costume? Something passed down over the year and the inevitable modifications and transitions to announce the changing generations and something which somewhere someone still wears!
Check out the costumes below,
Wishing R's parents a wonderful anniversary and many more years of happiness!
As time passes we conveniently forget things and today we live in other world miles apart and think more about buying organic and fat-free foods and forget that there were times when we cared the least about washing fruits and eating them. Summer brought with it fruits of the season, the trees loaded with mangoes, custard apples and guavas in V’s home back in Trichy. There was countless hot, humid summer days spent languishing on the branches of the mango and guava tree, plucking fruit after fruit, fighting for them, eating them and just enjoying them.
The past few days have been a frenzy of activities as we showed of the sights of H-town to V’s mom and granny. The common complaint from most visitors to
In the middle of
Scheduled on Friday was the Houston Grand Opera’s performance of Humperdinck’s fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. Growing up the fairy tale was a part of our lives, and we were looking for the opera’s renderation of the much-loved fable. The Houston Grand Opera is one of the nationally renowned ones (so says the website, we are no regulars at the Opera).
The Opera had three acts and went on for around a couple of hours including a 30 minute intermission. We arrived early at the theatre and were lucky enough to find a great parking spot close by. Spread out the blanket and got out our picnic foods, home-made masala
My personal impression of the Hansel and Gretel was that it was a good one but not upto my expectations. I loved the forests and the lighting. They were awesome and so life-like. The orchestra was magnificent. I am music-illiterate but still felt the meaning it was meant to convey and that is music to me. The puppetry was amazing and so well-coordinated. It is difficult to choose my favorite, was it the angels or the dancing cat or the raven? But I was quite disappointed by the ginger-bread house of the witch, might be because I was looking forward for the story book image replica. The house was pretty and well-detailed but lacked the magnificence and opulence and grandeur I was looking forward to. Another disappointment was the witch (Liam Bonner), the witch was made to look tall and huge but somehow I never felt the scared. I have seen better witches at the Halloween parties. Might be I have just grown up and am no longer scared of witches. Loved the dad character (Ryan Mckinny) with his jolly-good-fellow attitude and the la-la-la la-la-la’s (R does a great imitation!) but never felt it was a starving family. Ofcourse Hansel (Fiona Murphy) and Gretel (Rebekah Camm) were great!
Source: Miller Theatre website
Overall I would say it was a good one to watch at the Miller Theatre - free, fun and a wonderful way to spend the Friday evening with loved ones. And if you are in
Pack a picnic with your favorite foods, or stop by Ruggles Cafe Bakery in the Village and pick up some of their amazing sandwiches and desserts and make the evening special.
I know it has been a while since I wrote here. The past few days have been picture-perfect and idyllic (touch wood!). Three generations of women, doing justice to the credit card and me and R enjoying the pleasures of hot home-cooked meals 5 times a day! Warm (okie! I admit most people complain it is hot) summer days! Need I say more?
It is indeed fun to watch V, her mom and her grandmom walk around stores sipping frappuccinos and bubble teas converting dollars to Indian Rupees and commenting about every thing. And
Feasting on wonderful Indian treats that now are luxuries and choosing to be temporarily forget the fact that these wonderful treats are loaded with ghee and butter! Hmm the sweet pooran polis, the crisp butter dosais, the spicy panner masala! Life is good as long as I convince myself that these delicacies are fat-free! Three hot meals a day, variety of dishes.. am already worried about returning back to the old life when everyone returns back to
And the added bonus, the wonderful summer days the way I like them. Time to get out the crisp cottons, the sun glasses and the hats! For some reason, summer days bring out a happy me! The cool morning air, the promise of a humid afternoon, the wonderful colors on the tree, the fresh summer berries!
Life is good and we are enjoying it!
This one is for bro dearest! KA…
KA is now living a bachelor life (so he says! You are still single and V gets the first dibs in choosing/approving your partner!) alone in Trichy trying to study for his exams while the rest of the family is away vacationing. His other pass-time is trying to clear out the termites infesting his cupboard! Feeding on his books and growing fat (in his own words, kolo kolonu irrukudu) Well I just say they have an attraction towards maramandais! They know a maramandai when they see one.
Ofcourse his major decision making is debating whether to eat Azeez biryani at Bidass canteen or hit the college canteen or go to Sea Kings for noodles! Poor poor you! And ofcourse in your own words “God Punishes” this for all those days you teased your lovely, adorable, bestest sis V calling her “gundu”! You had it coming bro!
And here’s to the bestest bro! Good luck for your exams and we are really proud of you! We hope you get all the best things in life just the way you dream (and you’ll get it as long as you shower your sis with compliments and love and let me add chocolates and gifts!) The bestest sis, bro-in-law are looking forward for your visit and fun times together!
To all who inquired about V’s mom’s and grandma’s trip, thanks! They arrived safely in
It was time for long lost friends and relatives to pick up the phone and call V’s mom and granny to pay their respects. Yes! It was quite fun seeing them catch up. Some of the conversations I enjoy are the ones where the sibling/cousin rivalry sets in. No, there are no big fights, just a small round of boasting about their achievements, the success stories of their kids! Ha! Amazing… yes it is truth exaggerated and ofcourse there is a lot of fishing for gossip going on.
Hmm now I know what was missing in our new home! It was sounds, laughter and good old gossip! Now there are people to sit around the table and talk and talk and every house needs those sounds to officially make it a home! I just can’t wait for V’s dad and bro to join us. It is going to be a great occasion.
Inspite of their jetlag, V’s mom and granny did want to go to Michaels and Jo Ann’s to check out their craft items and other stuff. Between converting dollars to rupees and efforts to keep their eyes open they did enjoy their trip.
V’s mom has officially taken over the kitchen and is cooking up delicacies. V and R are busy hatching plans on how to tell NO! and yeah the running away with the plate option does not seem to work! (Hints hints!! Mom are you reading this???)
And what do I say about all the wonderful snacks? Puran polis, masal
It is just the beginning and we hope we have more fun-filled days!
So there we go, another day till we meet them. I have already missed 1 day off their short trip to US. I am mighty disappointed and so is V. Yes the lunch she prepared, became dinner and now does she want to serve the same stuff as tomorrow’s lunch?
Why cannot something somewhere be done? Like staff the airline counters and immigration counters better in India, flights to Singapore, Malaysia and other places can be scheduled at an earlier or later time, an earlier flight from Chennai to Frankfurt, or have 2 flights from Houston to Frankfurt like BA or Air France have?
Well now that is my rant! I really am too pissed off to write anything more… Waiting for morrow!
We spent last Saturday at the Grand Canyon with Mrs & Mr G. Thanks guys for hosting us and it was fun. As I had mentioned before SG was V’s great friend during their undergrad days and now that the G’s are in Phoenix, we made our trip there. Catching up and just taking things as it comes. We ofcourse went to the Grand Canyon and the weather was not the best. Snow flurries and near freezing temperatures, but it was still amazing. It is something that can never be described. R has clicked some great photos and yes it will be loaded soon in his blog.
"But look again! Those terrifying walls are moving, are changing! A new light is not only creeping over them, but is coming out from their very shadows. See those flattened slopes above the dark sandstone on top of granite; even at this very moment they are being colored in gorgeous stripes of horizontal layers of yellow, brown, white, green, purple. What means this wondrous change? Wherein lies this secret of the great canyon? Stanton, Robert B. 1909
I had been out of town and could'nt get the Earth Day Competition polling going on! Here are the entries. Please read them and leave your top two preferences in the comment box asap. Thanks
If you have not read Dance and V – 1, please read it first
To me learning dance is a continuous process, there is never an end and there is always something I can improve upon. It is my eternal quest for perfection. Today I have learnt for more than 10 years, on and off and I still feel I want to learn more. Might be I am obsessed with dance, might be I just am passionate about dance but whatever it is, I enjoy learning Bharatnatyam. And in that way I was lucky to get two teachers who nurtured my love for dance. As a young girl, I had the guidance from a teacher who installed in me a love for the dance form more than anything else and now I have a teacher who motivates me to keep going. Yes I have been really lucky with my teachers and that matters a lot. I have heard teachers give the cold shoulder to 10 year olds and you wonder why the child hates dance. Well let’s leave that side of dance for now. It is an ugly side I have heard about.
I was talking about my dance classes, in my classes I learn not just the art of moving my limbs and emoting, I also learn about the history of the land and dance which I find very fascinating. Most of the dance postures and poses are derived from the sculptures in the temples. There is so much history our land has and we are so ignorant. I feel bad for the days when I grumbled when my mother used to drag me to the temples. I wish I had paid a lil more attention in the sleepy history classes at school. I try to make up for that today. Whatever item I learn, I try to read a bit about is history, its composer and other facts.
Dance can be represented and interpreted in different ways by different people and it sure is something I love. It is sort of like understanding human psychology. As a performer, I need to get the audience attention on me and then retain it till I get off stage. For that it is just not my precise steps and movements, there is something more, might be the charisma, and might be the act of story-telling, the connection you make with the numerous unknown people looking at you. I am not sure if I am making sense here. It is something to be felt and not explained. It is like watching a movie, you see numerous actors come and go but finally the accolades go to few, few who were able to capture your attention. That is infact what a dancer tries to do.
No dance is the effort of one person. It is a team effort. Even when I am doing solo on stage, I still need to interact with the orchestra that provides music. These interactions are subtle, sort of like chemistry. A perfect mix gives an explosive performance. Team effort is much greater when we dance as a group which is often my case. Doing a group item involves not just learning and perfection on stage; it involves a good understanding between the performers. It also involves quick thinking and the ability to improvise at unexpected situations. There will be chances someone forgets some steps and any innumerable happenings. A comfort level with all the participants is essential for a good on stage show. Not just on stage you need to be comfortable with the group you practice with. If there are some rotten apples in your sack, that’s the end of it! And as you probably know, put a group of women together and you’ll see some big time ego clashes and issues. Overcoming them is indeed an effort!
Thinking about it, dance itself is a complex relationship between math, music, science, history, psychology and whatever you want to add in between.
And then there is the being on stage part of a dancer. When I went back to dance, I didn’t want to be on stage because I didn’t think it was worth the effort. I am neither a accomplished dancer nor am I a teenager looking for recognization and certificates. I have had my share of spot-lights and makeup and I did not look forward to being on stage. But I went on stage and the first time I performed (it was Jan 1st 2006) it was a disaster. Well I did my steps right, but I lacked the elation and joy I used to enjoy while on stage when I was kid. As I grew up, somewhere along the line, I started expecting perfection from myself. And then there is this process of spending hours getting ready. When I was young, mom and granny where around co-coordinating everything, ironing my dance dress, selecting the jewelry and the worst braiding my hair and here I am now grown-up enough to get ready myself. I hate it. And at times wonder why I go on stage yet again. The answer is simple, because every time I have a performance ahead; I challenge myself to the extreme. I give 110% when there is a deadline, typical human I am! And then there is the being-on-stage feeling, I forget everything and am blind to the audience, I dance because I love it. My hands move on their own accord, the legs keep the rhythm, my face captures various emotions, well if not to the 100% perfection mark but atleast to the maximum I can do. Being on stage changes something and I have not been able to find what it is! It is just a feeling. And ofcourse there is the adrenaline rush after the performance. The applause ringing in my ears I sit back to think what next? When I was younger, after the performance were times when I screamed with joy but today after the performance I am subdued. I have learnt to look at what went wrong. The audience applause is really not my gauge mark; I know what I could have done. Might be I too harsh on myself but it is way I want to be.
Learning and growing towards the elusive perfection. And that is what I hope to keep doing. This ends my series on dance, I am not sure if you were able to make sense of this but if you have any questions I would be glad to answer them.
Update: Thanks to R's mom for this link. It has pictures and details of this year's festival. Take a look.
I have gone many places and seen a lot of things, but absolutely nothing compares to the great festivities, devotion and excitement of the Chithirai thiruvizha.
The festival is basically a celebration of the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati) to Lord Sundareshwarar (Shiva). The thiruvizha begins with the procession of the deities along the four Masi streets, around the famous Meenakshi Amman temple. We were in the thick of action as we lived on West Masi street.
Every evening during the festival the doorstep would be washed clean in the evening and an intricate pattern (kolam) would be drawn using rice flour. Then we would wait excitedly for the sound of the drums, signalling that the procession has begun. The musicians were followed by elephants or camels (it was different every day!) and we kids were always at the front door to watch the animals go by. I guess it was the animals and the carnival feel that got us most excited. It was like watching a live circus at your doorstep. By this time a good crowd would have started lining the streets and the excitement increased proportionally to the size of the crowd. Ofcourse smart bussinessmen cashed in on such occasions. A roadside ballon-man, a sundal seller and others would move 1 step ahead of the procession and sell their wares.
Ofcourse the traditional pooja for the deities were also a part of the celebration. My mom and grandmother would be ready with the pooja items and offerings to the Gods. Then we would hear it, faintly at first and growing louder. More musicians and devotees chanting as the Gods came in procession, seated on a different vahana each day. Led by devotees carrying lanterns, the deities would stop in front of each home that had an offering. The priest would conduct a quick pooja, and the Gods, blessing us would move on to the next household.
This would go on daily for about 10 days, with the special day being the poo pallakku (Chariot of flowers). On this day, the vahana would be replaced by a "chariot" filled with roses! The crowd was always extra-large for this procession.
And if this was'nt fascinating enough, the next day brings the giant chariots, "Thaeru". These gigantic raths were pulled by thousands of devotees as they capriciously makes their way around the Masi streets. You should see the streets at that time. Absolutely jampacked with no room at all. Thankfully, we had an ideal vantage point at the terrace of our home. Imagine sitting on the terrace of a three-story home (used to be one of the tallest in the street then) and being dwarfed by the huge rath. It was indeed a humbling sight. Siting in the raths would be a young boy and a girl playing the roles of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwarar as they are wed.
The story goes that, Lord Kallazhagar (Vishnu), Goddess Meenakshi's brother is delayed getting to the wedding, and finding out he is a day too late, goes back angry and crosses the Vaigai River.
As a part of the Chithirai festivites there is also the Chithirai Poruthkatchi (exhibition). It is usually held at the Tamukkam fields. There were numerous stalls displaying everything under the sun, the latest housewares, to clothes to footwear. You name it, it was there. Half the things sold were junk, but it still was a big hangout in the otherwise entertainment-scarce Madurai. The exhibition atmosphere used to be electric, flashing lights, loud music, the big ferris wheels, the merry-go-arounds and try-your-luck stalls were a treat for us kids. And how can I leave out the exhibition food? It is always strange that the food made there tastes so much better than some of the food I have eaten. The puffy pink panjumithai (cotton candy or candy floss), the big Delhi appalams (they were easily 20 inches dia with a sprinkling of spices), the hot millagai bhaji (hot peppers dipped in batter and deep fried). Yum!
The Houston rodeo is the closest thing to the Chithirai thiruvizha I have been to. If you ever get a chance to visit Madurai during the Chithirai thiruvizha, I would advice you not to miss it for the world! Every year my mother talks about that year's festival and I vow I'll be there following year. But never get to do it. Might be next year! V was in India last year during the Chithirai thiruvizha and thought she did'nt find the time to stay for all the 10 days, she did see the procession a couple of days!
I donot have any pictures of the festivities and it is always been a dream to shoot a series of photos during the thiruvila and till then I'll have to make do with this photo of the gopuram of the Meenakshi Amman kovil!
Update: Thanks to R's mom for this link. It has pictures and details of this year's festival. Take a look.
Lavs wanted to know about V’s dance classes. So here we go.
Ladies and gentlemen, the next post is “dance and V” presented by V, set to her own ragam and thalam.
Ten years later, I wanted to learn again and now it was not for being on stage or for fun but it was for knowing the technique and how the dance evolved. This is the older and wiser chapter in my Bharatnatyam learning book. For those of you, who have not lived in a
This is the scene in virtually any city in US and definitely in
Well I started learning again in late 2005, little more than a year ago. And today I took a minute to ponder why I have really not written about my dance classes and the answer is not just one. There were number of reasons and here they are. Firstly, I feel quite inadequate to write about my experiences in the class. What I learn is not just movement of feet and hands but something more sublime and more spiritual and something I really cannot explain and I am not even going to try doing it. And then there are times when my whole body feels like it is on fire, exhausting, tiring and makes me question why on earth do I go through this ritual of self-torture? And the worst is the time when I feel positively ancient and old-maidish when I dance with the 15-16 year olds who are quick, nimble and graceful. And there you go I said it! With all my secrets out let me go ahead.
My typical dance classes range anywhere from one hour to three hours. I usually meet with a bunch of other gals for classes on Sundays. We are the so-called senior class, mostly because of our age and our previous exposure to Bharatnatyam in some form or the other in some corner of the world. We warm up, get our old joints cracking and start with the basics. We always spend around an hour doing simple but basic adavus and believe me till date I get a big list of corrections for whatever adavu I do! It is during this time, I learn a lot about the technique, the way the same step is done in other dance forms like Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi etc. I also learn when and how to fit in the step I do into a complex set of steps called jathi.
There is a big connection between classical carnatic music and dance and unfortunately I cannot differentiate one raga from the other. Well I do listen to lot of songs but without having formally studied music, my sense of raga, thala and laya are totally off. To choreograph a jathi in Bharatnatyam, above all one should be able add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers with ease! Dance and Music is all mathematics. How do you fit in 3 steps into a count of 8 in different speeds? It is mathematics, a sense of dance and music is all you need. It is fascinating and involves a lot of study and I am no expert. I barely know the basics. It is something I learn and want to learn more.
Bharatnatyam itself is a lot of math especially the nritta – the leg movements. But Bharatnatyam also involves a lot of geometry – angles, line and arcs. If you look at the picture of a good Bharatnatyam dancer, you’ll be able to notice the symmetry, hands and legs in perfect sharp angles. Every moment of a Bharatnatyam dancer is also meant to be crisp, precise and geometrical. This is not true about other Indian dance forms and they ofcourse have their own specialties. This is what I am working towards improving, my posture, crispness and sharpness of movement. And as always this is a learning process.
This post is getting quite long and there is so much more I can talk about dance. I hate leaving it abruptly but I will now wrap this up and do a part 2 soon. And thanks to Lavs for setting me think and write about what I feel about dance.
Time flew away, days rolled into months, priorities changed, distances became bigger, emails sporadic, phone calls occasionally and that is life. But today circumstances change yet again and call it karma or whatever; they are just separated by just a little more than 1000 miles. And how is this meet going to be?
V and her friend from her undergrad days SG are going to get together this weekend.We are off to Phoenix to meet Mr. and Mrs. G. I bet they have lots to catch up. Looking forward for the visit!
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