Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 75: Abang to NUH

Today I was feeling bugged for some unknown reason. Or rather, I was feeling bugged by a mixture of several reasons - the weekend coming to an end and a horrible week about to commence, the enormity of the film project which is already beginning to make me sleepless, issues am facing with the location hunting, limited progress on shot breakdown work etc. I was feeling so bugged that I thought on day 75, I will have to call it quits and stop writing this blog, thereby accepting defeat in finding something worthwhile for 1000 days in row.

By 8 pm, after throwing whatever tantrums I could possibly throw, I decided it was time to reconsider the situation. My hubby brainstormed several options that might make me happier, all of which had something to do with eating a different kinda food and none of which appealed to me. Then I mentally skimmed through several other possible options that might make me happier and decided that I will go visit my university campus. I was well aware that I am a sentimenal fool and that spending a couple of hours there would have a great positive effect on me.

Accordingly, hubby and I set out to Abang, one of the 24 hour food outlets near NUS, our alma mater. The last time I went to NUS was several months ago. I have only good memories associated with the university and everytime I go there, I am struck by a huge nostalgic wave. And today was no different!

Abang is famous for the Niqqi's Cheese Prata shop, where we have enjoyed hundreds of meals during our time on campus. Legend goes that the place imports tons of cheese every month to make their famous Cheese Pratas. And am happy to note that nothing much had changed there except that it looked a lot cleaner than what we could remember. After the usual order of Chicken Biriyani, Nasi Goreng, Teh Halia and Milo Dinosaur, we decided to walk through the campus all the way to National University Hospital - about 2.5 kms away.

And as we walked, we reminisced our times in university. We walked past Kent Ridge Hall and room D407 - my room in my first year which was a favourite haunt for my batchmates then, particularly my hubby who was then 'just a friend', but of course. We walked past his Engineering faculty and my Computing faculty. We walked past "Extension A" which is now called "Ridge View Residences" - our residence for around 6 months. We walked past the historic site where my hubby claims that a pack of stray dogs chased him. We were surprised to see a brand new "Dentistry" building that seemed to have popped up in the place of a carpark.

The weather was pleasant with a nice breeze and I had a lovely walk. And as expected, I have come back home feeling a thousand times better. Sometimes, being a sentimental fool really helps.

925 more to go.

Day 74: "Uttarkhandiloode"

30 January, 2010

I wasn't too sure what I should write about today. There were a few things I did enjoy -Rehearsal for the film, discussion with a production crew member on some of the plans, working on the script, watching the movie 'Ishqiya' etc. But then after all that, I started reading the Malayalam book "Uttarkhandiloode - Kailas Manasarovar Yatra" by M.K. Ramachandran. It's a travelogue on his journey to Mt. Kailas and Manosarovar Lake in Tibet, a sacred pilgrimage for Hindus which is also a hard trekking expedition through the Himalayas.

I had previously read his book "Adikailasayatra" which I had absolutely loved! The new book too, continues to wow me! He talks a great deal about the danger the journey involves and the treacherous path the expedition takes, but he talks an even greater deal about the beauty of the Himalayas that makes it all worth the trouble. The "Om" mountain that seem to portray the holy sign of "Om" in Sanskrit (, the stories about the lives of people who live in even those altitudes, the lives of the Indian Army who assists the travellers throughout the journey etc. are pretty fascinating.

I am so inspired by the book that I have decided to make an age-long dream come true. After I finish my film, the next thing I will do is a trek through the Himalayas. And hopefully that would come true, before I hit 30.

926 more to go.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 73: A Friday Evening Walk

I have been wanting to take a very long walk. I used to do that a lot when I was in Junior College but my walks have become pretty much non-existent in the recent years. I tried selling the idea a few weeks ago to my hubby who paid little attention to it. Since he was not around today and I was having a Friday evening all to myself, I decided that this would be the day I would take my long walk. So after making sure I stuffed all the required backup tools such as some cash, ipod, phone and bus card into my pockets, I set out for the walk.

My aim was to walk from Bishan Street 11 to Bishan Park, take a round trip in the Park and walk back home. According to Google Maps, this would ensure that I cover 10 kms. But when I reached Bishan Park, I realized that one part of the park was completely closed down because apparently they are bringing the Kallang River into Bishan Park. Don't ask me how. Anyway this created some confusion and I temporarily lost my way while attempting a detour through a housing estate. But somehow I managed to reach another part of the park.

Initially there were a few fellow beings who were jogging, cycling etc. along my side. So I happily proceeded with my walk listening to my first ever audiobook "Rain" by Somerset Maugham that I downloaded specifically for this walk. When the story abruptly stopped half way, I realized that I was in the middle of an almost pitch dark area and there were no other fellow humans in either direction anymore. It was a bit freaky at first but then I decided to play some songs and just continue with my walk. I guess after I a while, I loved the absolute peace in the darkness that I started to sing along with the song I was listening to. I probably scared the monkeys in the park in the process, but it still was an extremely delightful experience - the Park, the darkness, the road in the distance and a full moon up there!

On my way back I saw something that I've honestly not seen in Singapore before! I think as Chinese New Year celebration a huge, and I mean HUMUNGOUS, fair was going on in my neighbourhood. It was set up on a large space of land which I wasn't even aware was there. They had set up hundreds of stalls selling clothes, artifacts, massage chairs (?!), food and it even had a stage with Tamil song and dance performance! I dunno why there was a Tamil performance there but the atmosphere was very much like the temple fairs we have back at home in Kerala. People from the audience were dancing, shouting, hooting, and having a lot of fun! I contributed my part to the fair by shopping a bit.

So all in all, today I took that long walk I had been planning for so long and took part in a neighbourhood event!

927 more to go.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 72: Life of a Party

I hate parties. Maybe "hate" is a strong word but I definitely do not love them. And by parties I mean gathering of more than 5 people at the same time, usually not all of them you would care for, for various happy purposes such as weddings, birthdays, treats people are forced to give for migrations and promotions, festivals, general group consumption of alcohol, random chit chatting etc. Usually am rather uncomfortable in a gathering of more than a handful of people and in such occasions I try to keep to myself without being rude. So yeah, you could probably call me an introvert that way.

Last year when I went back home to Kerala, I happened to meet an uncle after about 6-7 years. Now this uncle is the exact opposite of me. Not only is he absolutely comfortable at parties, he is also the life of any party he attends. He makes people laugh, comes up with great conversational material, dances, sings, and makes sure that he and the rest of us have a real merry time. So last year too we had a party to celebrate his homecoming together with mine and once again he was at his party-best. After things quitened down, I casually mentioned to him that I can't believe he is still so energetic, fun loving and can brighten everyone up so easily. To which he replied that it is not like he doesn't have his share of problems but he strongly believes that if a group of people are coming together for whatever purpose, all of them should enjoy those few hours and he tries to make sure they do.

I believe something about what he said stayed with me. Recently I notice that I attend more than my usual share of gatherings. But of course, being the "life of a party" was a far cry.

I had recently been back to Kerala for a cousin's wedding. While I was there, I guess I contributed to the general festivities with songs, dances, henna drawings, non-stop talking, cracking jokes within my limited sense of humour etc. And today, my aunt who also happens to be the bride's mom, called me to have a chat.

This is what she said. "I am so happy you could make it for wedding. It was really fun to have you around. You have changed so much. Earlier you used to be so shy. But this time you were so jolly. Everyone said you were the life of the party."

928 more to go.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 71: 'Mile Sur' and Doordarshan

The whole of Indian online community is throwing virtual rotten tomatoes and eggs at the rehashed version of 'Mile Sur' which was released yesterday. For the unaware, 'Mile Sur' was a national integration video that was released in the late 1980s by Doordarshan (the national television network) of India. Featuring several Indian monuments, regions, languages, artforms etc., it was a simple but effective video in communicating the Indian pride in its diversity.

One group of people decided that they should remake this decades-old video but by featuring the current generation in it. As a result, what came out was a video that was hopelessly choking with movie stars hamming royally but with very little cultural importance otherwise. I don't want to get into the merits or the demerits of the new version but I believe what struck the wrong chord was that the makers of the new video messed with something that many of us, the people of my generation, had unconsciously retained as a vivid memory from our childhoods.

I believe 'Mile Sur' came out when I was about 5 or 6 years old and had played on TV for several years later. Those were the times when I used to live in a big family with cousins and uncles and aunts and everyone used to crowded in front of one black and white TV to watch Ramayan - the epic serial. Those were the days I used to wake up to the Doordarshan title music - that slow, mysterious music accompanied by some swirling graphics. Those were the times when the neighbours, the less fortunate ones who did not have a TV of their own, used to come and share the space in the living room during the evenings. Those were the years of simple advertising for some simple brands - Bajaj, Vicco Turmeric, Rasna, Nirma, Liril, Hajmola etc. and also of simple but wonderful shows such as the Malgudi Days.

The whole 'Mile Sur' swirl took me back to those days. And in a wave of nostalgia, I searched for a few of those old programs that I grew up with and watched them for a few hours. A couple of hours of simple music, simple visuals, simple messages and memories of simpler times.

I am sharing a few of those videos here. -Doordarshan title track and a few ads - Video with sports personalities - Malgudi Days title track - Ek Chidiya educational show

929 more to go.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 70: 10 KM

I had a disappointing day at work. It is a continuation of something that happened earlier, something that was outside my control and something I feel like a victim of. Anyway, without going into details, I can say that I was left feeling very annoyed with the world and had formed the opinion that life sucked. I felt the whole day was gonna end pretty miserably.

But then I decided not to let that happen. After all I have a blog to write, damn it! I wanted to make the day special somehow. And I came up with a pretty random goal - run 10km today. I am surrounded by runners at office and outside who give fancy numbers of miles they have covered. In all such conversations I usually have nothing to contribute. So it's been a dream for me to one day stand up proudly and say "Yes, I've ran 10km" (the choice of number 10 is quite random also... I simply think it would be way too boring to run any more than that). But there was no reason why that day should be today.

Yes, running 10km would make the day very special. 10km may not be much for usual runners, marathoners etc. but for me it would be some feat because I suck at running. When I say "suck" here, I mean really, really SUCK. My lack of interest in running or any physical activity other than yoga, swimming and dance is unbelievable.

There is a story that still runs in my family, much to the entertainment of my relatives. It goes that one day I got back home from my kindergarten and told my parents that I came third in a running race. Upon further enquiry they realized that there were only 3 kids in that particular race, so by coming third I had actually successfully come last. Such has always been my ability to run.

However, recently I did pick up running a bit but my average has been 3km which was already a big deal for me. The maximum I had ever ran in my life was 7.2km just once, which might have been a complete fluke. So setting a goal of running 10km today was nothing short of complete absurdity, especially since the last time I did any form of running was more than a month ago.

But the fact remains that I set the goal and and I had to try and achieve it. But it was harder than I imagined. Exactly after 2.4km on the treadmill, I wanted to give up and go and eat chicken rice. But I persisted. I had to prove to myself that it's possible. It was a matter of life and death. OK, not really but it was a matter of my dignity and feeling of self-worth. I refused to be bogged down by stuff that happen at work and I had to tell myself that there are other things to feel good about.

So I ran and I ran and I ran. At last the treadmill screen read - '10.2' kms.

Today is the day I (very proudly) say "Yes, I've ran 10 km." Mission Accomplished. I don't think I ever want to run again in my life.

930 more to go.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 69: Physical Marvel

I believe I have mentioned in several blog posts here that I go for yoga. What I go for is Bikram Yoga, that is 1.5 hours of strenuous yoga practised in a room at 40 degree celsius. I find it no mean task to go through each session but the worst is when I take a break from the classes and go back again after a few days. So if I skip sessions for say, as short as two weeks even, and then go for a class in the third week, I pretty much almost die.

A class after a break makes me feel nauseous and dizzy. I literally see stars and I usually can't wait for the class to end to rush out to get some cool air. It is always like I am being punished for skipping a few weeks of yoga.

And today was expected to be one such day. The last yoga session I attended was more than 2 weeks ago, and hence I had very little hope for making it through the class without huffing, puffing, panting, taking frequent breaks and in general, making a complete fool out of myself. On top of that my experiments with the dance pose yesterday had left both my abdomen and neck muscles sore. This combined with a nose that continued to be blocked post the flu and in turn making my inhales and exhales short, abrupt with funny accompanying noises, were all promising to be a recipe for disaster.

So I waited to feel dizzy and nauseous throughout the class. I waited to want to collapse and feel that it is the end of the world. After all, it usually was just a matter of time. But nothing like that happened. There was no disaster.

In fact, today was like the complete opposite of disaster. I had one of the best classes ever! I was flexible, could keep my balance during the usually challenging poses, did not take a single break for the entire duration and didn't feel like I wanted to run for my life. Nope. Not even remotely.

I think it was a miracle, there is no other explanation to it. And I doubt whether it would be as easy the next time I go back to class after a break. But it feels awesome when something you dread turns out to be not that bad after all! And as of today, I feel like the strongest person on the planet.

931 more to go.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 68: The Dance Pose

Since I am to dance at my brother-in-law's wedding in April, I realized it is high time I started the choreography and rehearsal if I want to give a decent enough performance. Accordingly today, I started on the choreography and made a bit of progress on it. I haven't danced in a long while (the last performance was in 2007 March) and I was finding both the choreography and dancing harder than usual.

In any case, while I was listening to the music for the dance, I had a pose in my mind which I thought would go well with one part of the music. I am trained in Bharatnatyam, Mohiniyattom and also a little bit of Kathak and the choreography I am attempting is a fusion of all these dance-forms. But this particular pose I had in mind, is something I have never been able to do before but have seen a few other dancers do beautifully.

The pose requires a very deep backward bending and also a pretty strong sense of balance. I had attempted it years ago a couple of times without much success. In any case, I decided to attempt it today.

And much to my surprise, or absolute shock rather, I could do it! I could do that dance pose which I was never able to do before! I managed to repeat it about 3 times after which my back started to protest and I had to stop.

I have no idea whether I will be able to do it again in the future but as of today, I could do it and it makes really very happy! It's like getting something ticked off from my long pending to-do list.

932 more to go.

Day 67: Celtx, Rehearsals and Wedding Plans

23 January, 2010

What a super duper exciting and productive day! My genius cinematographer shared with me the link to a film pre-production software called Celtx. And I spent a total of seven hours on it today - Formatting, working on catalogues, schedules, call sheets, script revisions etc. etc! In short, I felt like am actually making a real film just by the amount of work I was doing! Very exciting indeed!

To add to the excitment, I had rehearsals with a few key members of the cast and I had some terrific fun doing the readings! As a director who is not part of the cast, I still could take turns reading out lines of absent cast members which is something I thoroughly enjoy! And another three hours were spent on that.

In the evening, had a long chat with my in-laws about the upcoming wedding of my one and only brother-in-law. Planning for weddings are as fun as weddings themselves, especially if you are talking about North Indian weddings. Honestly, Kerala weddings are over simplified and absolutely lack the colours and festivities of a North Indian wedding. So one of the benefits of marrying a Northie is that I get to be part of such fun weddings. We planned and planned and planned about the clothes and dances and songs and other entertainments - there is a requirement for a lot of these, since the wedding would pan across several days. I then transfered the excitement bug to my parents and cousins who are all sent to go for wedding.

A very exciting day and looks like 2010 is gonna be tons of fun!

933 more to go.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 66: Mallu Film and a Non-Mallu Hubby

I had written here about how I love catching up with my Mallu friends. I happened to enjoy one such catch up today again and this time, we even watched a Mallu movie in the theatre! This is always an event in itself because Singapore sees a Malayalam movie release only once in a blue moon. So I am on all possible mailing lists that might inform of such rare releases and am usually the one to spread the word among the Mallu gang I am acquainted with.

I am not even a fan of the actor Mammootty, but when I heard that the Mammootty film "Chattambinaadu" is releasing in Singapore, I did my part as usual and spread the word among all my Mallu friends. And a few of us made our way to the theatre today. Once again, it was an evening of Mallu chat about Mallu movies, something that I thoroughly enjoy. And it also helped that I found the film hilarious.

On top of that, my non-Mallu husband has finally returned home. He had left for Kuala Lumpur as soon as I got back from Kerala, leaving me to care for my own, flu-stricken self. Sure, I wrote here that I felt super tough taking care of myself, but I was almost beginning to feel like I wasn't married. After all, what's a spouse for if not to take care of you, especially in sickness.

But now I feel awesome that he is back, in spite of his complete lack of knowledge of Mallu land and Mallu people and Mallu films. And also in spite of the fact that ever since he got back he has plonked himself on the couch, watching cricket on TV. Still, it feels awesome.

934 more to go.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 65: Tough Me

My horrendous flu continued to bug me in all its glory. To add to my misery, I had severe back pain. There was tons of work to do and my husband was out of town leaving me to care for my own self.

But, am pretty proud of the fact that I was a tough girl today. I did not take medical leave but instead finished up a lot of work. In fact, my day started at 6 am because I couldn't fall asleep beyond that thanks to the flu and I finished quite a bit of work as early. Later in the evening, I worked on the film script revisions and also some production schedule planning. Did the laundry and had two super unhealthy but pretty tasty McDonalds meals. And am writing the blog to wind the day up.

In a nutshell, the day was spent rather productively, in spite of having to battle with the dual barriers of flu and a back pain. Am sure tomorrow would be a much healthier day but as far as today goes, I feel pretty tough (and I feel like giving one of those victorious laughters). Muhahaha.

935 more to go.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 64: Packets of Rice and Photographs

I got back to Singapore early this morning with a horrible flu. So had to skip work and stay in to recover. I also had a ton of emails from work to clear in spite of the darn flu. I then realized that I have a suitcase full of rice. Yup, you read it right. My mom have this weird habit of getting groceries from India to Singapore in spite of me reminding her time and again that everything is available here in Singapore. And under the pretext of helping me pack my bag before my return from India, she had put in packets of rice and pulses without my knowledge. When I opened my suitcase to unpack, I realized that one of the rice packs have torn open and the rice has spilled all over. In short, the day didn't start off well.

But by evening, I had cleared all my work emails, unpacked completely, got some good rest and was feeling considerably better. So I decided to upload the pictures of my cousin's wedding I attended in India. As I had the privilege of sharing the first pictures from the event, even before the official photographers', it caused quite a stir among the cousins and other family members.

A cousin who couldn't make it for the wedding called me a number of times to chat about what she missed and her excitement at seeing all the pictures. Another couldn't stop commenting on the photos. Another can't wait to get back home to see them. Another wanted to know what exactly had I applied on everyone's faces (I was the official make-up artist, as you can read here) because they're "absolutely glowing"... so on and so forth.

The celebrations therefore went on, even though it's been a couple of days after the event has officially concluded. And I enjoyed every bit of it!

936 more to go.

Day 63: Ten Years

19 January, 2010

Today I met a very good friend after a long ten years' time! We were pretty inseparable in school for about 5 years. But since I came to Singapore, she had moved around in India a bit and our holiday times never matched for 10 years.

This time however, she was in Kerala at the same time as me and wanted to give me a surprise call (which was spoilt by my mom who could not keep a secret). In any case, we were planning to meet up ever since she called me the day after I landed in Kerala but the meeting didn't happen until about an hour before I had to leave for the airport to take my flight back.

So we met each other just for an hour but it was so amazing to catch up after ten years!

As the friend herself said, "It was a Magical one hour, 10 years melting away in 10 secs n a hug". Couldn't agree more!

937 more to go.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 62: Old Times

18 January, 2010

The wedding function ended at about noon and a few of us cousins sat around to chill out for a while. Even though we had done absolutely nothing during the wedding itself, we were still exhausted from all the waking up early, dressing up, eating, meeting wedding guests etc. As we lounged around, my brother and I started talking about all our childhood times and the enormous amount of fun we used to have. I had written about this brother here a while ago. He and I were the oldest among the cousins around that day and hence, had the maximum number of stories to tell. The others joined in as well and were amused at some of the stories we had to tell them about their own childhood atrocities which they can no longer remember.

We spent more than a couple of hours reminiscing about old times. I didn't realize how much I missed all that fun until we started recollecting them. What was very heartening was that all of us cousins who were probably not as attached to each other in those days are now coming together like never before. I mean, we seem to be going from just playmates to really feeling like brothers and sisters.

So we have now planned that at least once a year we should all come together for a couple of days and re-live the old times. My cousins, their spouses and our parents make up around 20-odd people. Big enough to have a good celebration! Can't wait for the first one!

938 more to go.

Day 61: From Zero to Hero

17 January, 2010

As per the Brahmin custom, the wedding festivities last for two days in a row and today was the first day. And guess who was the official make-up artist for the ladies of the house? Me!

This is an extremely significant event. Let me tell you why. I have like zero interest in getting dressed up all the time, much to the annoyane of my mom as well as my colleagues from P&G. So if I take the trouble to dress up once in a blue moon, it is a matter of great surprise and intrigue.

The first time my colleagues as well as anyone from my family saw me dressed up (by myself) was during my wedding. I did my own make up for most of the events except for the final wedding day. And I can safely say that my makeup was a LOT better than the so called professional beauticians who did the make up for the final day. My colleagues who had attended my wedding were very pleased with this skill I had developed.

But today was the first time I had to demonstrate my skills of doing make up on other people's faces. And I can proudly say that not only did I think that they all looked very nice but my clients themselves were very pleased and booked my services for the next day! My colleagues would be so proud of me!

939 more to go.

Day 60: Fun and Thought-Provoking

16 January, 2010

A very interesting day - both fun and thought provoking. I had written about a big hearted person I met the previous day here, who took it as a personal responsibility to distriute food to the poor, homeless, handicapped people around the town every single day. When I heard the story, I wanted to accompany him on one of his food distribution trips. And so today I followed him as he did so. And it was such a touching experience. People recognize him and come to collect the food from him at some places. Sometimes, we had to go around in circles trying to find the person we have to pass the food packet to. There was just one vegetarian lady who got special veg meal. There was one blind person on the roadside who had to be given the food packet in his hands. Made me wonder how that person survives every day. And what was most disturbing to me was that I probably have seen half these people or people like them on the roadsides but did not ever bother to give them a second thought. That was very unsettling. I reminded him that I would like to sponsor a few people under his care and figured out the details of the transactions. Obviously the least one can do.

Later in the evening I went to my cousin's house in Kochi where the wedding is to take place, which was the main purpose of my visit to Kerala this time. The rest of the evening was spent on chatting, giving the ladies henna designs on their hands, dancing around, playing with a niece who is the most talkative kid I have come across and who had taken a special interest in me for some reason, taking photos and eating. In short, having a ton of fun! Wedding of close relatives are always such fun!

940 more to go.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 59: A Solar Eclipse and A Big Heart

15 January, 2010

What a truly special day! Firstly I caught my first ever live solar eclipse! Apparently this eclipse is the longest in the 21st century and it is also one of those that is the most visible from South India. I could not have been in a more right place at a more right time. I was in South India and I had to make sure that I saw this eclipse. I went to a neighbours' house to gather some x-rays and a bunch of us, including the neighbours, made our way to the terrace to witness the eclipse. It was such a wonderful experience! It was almost a full eclipse that could be witnessed from our location. The sun got as small as a very thin crescent. We diligently followed not just the sun's disappearance and appearance but also how the light around changed - like how quickly it went to look like dusk, even though it was noon, so much so that the birds got confused and started returning to their homes in the trees around us. Wonderful!

The day was also special because I met a very special person. We happened to bump into my mom's homeopathy doctor. After the usual greetings I got to learn that he was on his way to feed the homeless, aged, handicapped people around the town to give them their meals. Yup, that's the activity that he has taken up. Every day, he makes sure that good quality food is made available to those people on the streets who are too weak to be able to find their own means of livelihood. He has outsourced the cooking and packing of the food packets and made sure that the menu is healthy with a good variety over the week. And he personally delivers them. Every single day. No matter how busy he is. He has been doing this for years, mostly from his own income. Once in a while, he tries to take them on a short trip as get a van, pick them up from around the town, take them to the beach and buy them icecreams. All simple but extremely meaningful gestures.

I understand that not many people in the town know about this man with such a big heart, because he tends to keep to himself mostly. I have offered to sponsor a few people under his care even though it is such a lame thing to do compared to what he does, because his requires physical dedication every day. But I sure do hope and pray that he gets to do this for a long time to come and that he gets the support that he needs all the way.

941 more to go.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 58: Elephants and Oil Lamps

India never ceases to surprise you. Really. Kerala never ceases to suprise you. Really really.

Today is Makarasankranthi - the 1st day of the month of makaram (I believe this means that the sun moves to the sign of Capricorn) and it is meant to be pretty auspicious. So in the morning, my mom told me that we have to go to the temple in the evening which I agreed to.

In the afternoon, as I was talking to my hubby (who has not accompanied me on this trip) on the phone, I heard the sound of an elephant passing by my house. I told my hubby, "I can hear an elephant outside", which I believe, reconfirmed his belief that I live in a jungle infested with elephants and snakes. But these are elephants that are meant to be decorated and usually become main fixtures at temple festivals. The fact that one was passing by my house means that it is trying to get to one of those temples, which also usually means that something special is going to happen.

Later in the evening, we joined a gang of neighbours all of whom marched to the temple with sticks in their hands. On closer inspection, I realized that these sticks had pieces of cloth wrapped at one end. They told me that the sticks were meant to be mini torches and that we are going to have an event at the temple where the people of the town would come together to light 10,008 oil lamps.

The interesting part is that I have never even heard of something like this before in my 16 years of residence in this town. Apparently the custom started only 6-7 years ago, much after I left for Singapore.

And what a mindblowing experience it was! This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is right in the middle of the town, in a humungous piece of land. The rest of the town is designed in such a way that there are roads branching off from beyond the temple grounds. The grounds are so expansive that you dont even hear the noise from the traffic.

And today, I saw the whole temple and its grounds lit up! With 10,008 oil lamps blazing! And I was part of the crowd trying to perch on top of small ledges to reach the lamps on the highest rows of the temple walls or try and reach out to light the lamps that made different designs on the ground such as a conch or an "OM". This was followed by a bit of fireworks as well.

And later I witnessed some fireworks and a procession with the decorated elephants, young girls carrying "thaalams" (which are like something they hold in order to welcome guests and in these guests were the dieties from other temples who is visiting this one), miniatures of other temples made of bamboos, mock chariots etc etc etc.

It was a wonderful, absolutely delightful experience! I can't believe such an extensive celebration has sprung up over such a short time! Totally a beautiful day!

People of Thrissur - Do visit the Vadakkunnathan temple next time you are in town for Mankarasankranthi. It's worth it.

942 more to go.

Day 57: 3, not 30.

13 January, 2010

My parents have very interesting ways of making me feel like being close to 3 years old, instead of 30. And I feel that the most when I go back home to Kerala for a visit.

My flight landed in Kerala late at night. Both my parents were waiting for me. Immediately stared the intense concern on what I have eaten and what I would like to eat. My mom had packed food for me which she insisted that I have on the ride back home in the car. After I convinced them that my stomach was overflowing with whatever I ate on the flight, my dad stopped the car in front of a late night store that sells snacks and drinks.

He got out saying he will get a drink but came back empty handed. Apparently the store only sold Coke and he knew that his darling daughter, i.e. me, preferred Pepsi. Yup, that was indeed true but that was the truth like 10 years ago. I told him I don't really care for Coke or Pepsi anymore but he insisted that he would get a bottle of Pepsi for me. He did finally, from another shop another 15 kms down the road.

And of course, there was a curfew and I was not allowed to switch on the computer and write my blog. After all it was past midnight, which explains the late entry for January 13th.

I would also like to mention that January 13th was also awesome because I finally fixed the main cast for my film after going through several hours of auditions and watching tapes of the candidates.

And needless to say, the day ended at a peak - Yup, I am home.

943 more to go.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 56: Bags Packed

January 12, 2010

What's as fun as actually going home is preparing to go home! And that's exactly what I was doing today. Rushing through work in office (and feeling absolutely great about it), last minute shopping and finally the packing with numerous calls with mom in between to make sure I have not forgotten this or that. All fun stuff! On top of that, after working past 8 pm, hubby and I decided to treat ourselves at Shahi Maharani. After all, I am not gonna be around for the next one week. So he could either be celebrating his impending freedom or his impending boredom. Either ways, we had an amazing dinner topping off with wine and masala chai. Awesome stuff!

Now am all set to go home!

944 more to go.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 55: A Great Idea

I think this blog's a great idea. Really. It actually helps me to feel good about what I have vs. being upset about what I don't have, without making much effort. Sure, the intent was always to make sure everyday is special. And for most days, something interesting and exciting happens and I need to take hardly any effort to write about it. But there are other days when things are hectic or boring or irritating etc.. Those days, I take a little effort to do something that makes me happy so that I have something to blog about. After 54 days of doing so, I think I am coming to a stage where it takes less and less effort to feel good. No matter what.

Let me explain. Something absolutely shitty happened at work today. Now don't underestimate the shittiness I am referring to here. It's the kind of thing that would have made me mop around and moan and cry and crib and come to the conclusion that this world is one sucky place. Such things have happened before and I have behaved in the abovementioned ways for days at end.

But interestingly enough today, I realized that in spite of going through such a horrendous experience, I was still pretty happy!

When the incident happened, I mulled over it for 2 minutes, laughed about it with a friend and then got back to being super productive at work! Later in the evening, I proceeded to have the best yoga class in months! I worked on some film production elements, packed a bit for my trip back to Kerala, had a great dinner with hubby and pretty much enjoyed everything about the day.

I didn't have to pause and think, "Oh my God, what an awesomely crappy day. What the hell would I blog about today?". I have successfully been able to enjoy all the pretty nice things that happened today and not be bothered about the rest. And I think that's a great change!

Looks like I am finally learning that yes, it's all in the mind. Indeed.

955 more to go.

Day 54: Best Friend's Wedding!

10 January, 2010

I was about to blog about how I had another great round of auditions for the film and how I absolutely enjoyed the dances on Dance India Dance etc etc. But just as I sat down at the computer to type it all out, one of my bestestest friends told me that she's going to get married!!! I am soooo freaking happy for her!! The news overtook all ssother events of the day in making it special. Yup, it is totally another matter that I can't make it for her wedding because it falls on the exact same day as the wedding of my brother-in-law! But still, I am so so so so so excited by the news! Great day!

946 more to go.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 53: Kids

I have mixed opinions about kids mainly formed by my mixed experiences with them. On one hand, I have seen kids who are pretty well behaved and I find them cute and quite nice. On the other hand there are kids who are so atrociously behaved that all you wanna to do is give them one tight slap. Similarly am sure different kids have had different opinions of me. There have been several who absolutely loved me and found me their best friend and then there were others who bawled at the mere sight of me. Recently it has been more of the latter, for some reason.

Anyway, today I happened to go to my hubby's colleague's house for a small gathering. There I met his two kids - a 4-year old girl and a 2-year old boy. Both belonged to the category where they are pretty well behaved and hence in my "kids-I-like" list and also to top that, they absolutely adored me. After the initial 15 minutes, I was their first and pretty much only playmate chosen from all the adults in the room.

It was fun, since I haven't played with kids for a while now. So we played "Doctor-Doctor" and "Hospital". I was told that there is a difference between the two well-thought-out games - the former requires the patient to sit up while the latter requires the patient to lie down. Then we played with balloons and cars and all other toys that they could find for me. I piggy-backed them and listened to whatever they were saying or trying to say (as in the case of the younger one who hasn't started to talk yet). Much of the time was also spent on convincing the younger one that taking my glasses away from me is not a good idea because it leaves me blind.

I have heard that sometimes kids say or do the most unexpected things. There were a few instances today. The older one invited me to go and play with her in her room. I told her, " I will come after some time.". She replied, "Now is some time." OK, that was fair enough and I followed her and her brother to play in their room. After we were done with our games, just when we were about to step out, the little boy started to look very agitated and pointed repeatedly at the lights and fan. I didn't understand him at first and then realized what he was trying to say when he pointed to the power switch. He wanted me to switch off the lights and fan as we were leaving the room! That was nothing short of amazing.

But here comes the killer. When all the guests were about to leave, the little girl also wanted to make a trip outside. So to console her, I said, "You go to bed. We are also going home to sleep." And she replied, "Are you sleeping with that uncle?", pointing to my hubby.

Yup, kids do unwittingly say the most outrageous stuff.

947 more to go.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 52: Invictus

January 8, 2010
Today was generally a nice day... one of those with nothing to write home about but still, which was pleasant throughout. But then late in the evening, I caught the movie 'Invictus' which culminated the day at a whole new level. Man, I loved it!

Like I have written before, I don't intend to make this blog a place for me to write film reviews but I must say that I absolutely loved this movie and it was the highlight of the day! I loved it for its story - a true story based on Nelson Mandela and I loved the way the story was so beautifully told. Not only was it a very good movie experience but it is always avery humbling and inspiring to catch a glimpse of the lives of such great people.

It would definitely be one of those movies that will not disappear from my mind and will pop up in any discussions on film I may have, for a long time to come. And each day that I come across such a movie, or for that matter such a story, becomes special on its own.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 51: All's Good Because I've a Project

Today was a good day. Nothing specifically happened that made it a good day but overall I have been in very high spirits! The reason - my film, but of course. I have not even started shooting, in fact shooting is still several months away, but it still gives me so much happiness just thinking about it, visualizing it, discussing it, or even just realizing the fact that I have a project that I am so passionate about!

I felt the day went like a breeze. I completed all that I had planned to at work, had discussions with some team members on the film, had a great yoga class that I thoroughly enjoye and ended the day with a lovely dinner of black pepper crab with hubby. Each event on its own may seem insignificant but I kinda felt that everything was simply rocking because I was generally on a high from the film!

I think sometimes, a project that you are passionate about is all that is needed to make every day special, be it before you turn 30 or 60. A project that gives you at least some temporary escape from whatever else that is going on.

Whether this film would be completed or not, I cannot say. But at least in the process if I have enjoyed several great days, that's wouldn't be a bad deal at all!

949 more to go.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 50: Casting Auditions Part 1

Alright, today was awesome for two reasons. 1) I complete 50 days of blogging, that's like a half-century! Pretty significant I think! and 2) I have fixed on the casting for the male characters of my film! Like every artisTIc venture, the process behind getting it done is the most exciting. I have blogged about my script-writing process before but today I could see who would be taking up the male roles.

The girls are gonna audition for their parts on the coming Sunday. So very much looking forward to that! After that, my cast would be set and we would be ready to roll!

950 more to go.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 49: Dance Like Someone's Watching

My dad is brutally honest. And hence my worst (or best, whichever way you wanna look at it) critic. When I was seven I tried singing "Sa-re-ga..", the Indian version of "Do-re-mi..." and some simple songs and he said that singing is well... super stretched for me. He said that I would be better off doing something I am good at. Fair point it was. It helped me not be one of those numerous kids who screech their throats away at public functions, much to the delight of their parents but to the sheer agony of the rest of the audience.

But my father was not a discouraging person at all. In fact he was very very encouraging when I did something he believed was a worthwhile pursuit for me. Guitar, the reverse writing, drawing and painting etc. were very much encouraged by him. He has taken great efforts to find me opportunities in these areas. Just that he has preferences... he liked me doing some things and not others.

One of the things that I loved to do but he didn't particularly care about was dance. I am trained in Indian classical forms Bharatnatyam and Mohiniyattom and have performed at various venues in India. My mom was my partner in crime for those and my dad is usually never to be found during my dance performances. Even if he did catch a glimpse of any, he didn't really comment on them for reasons best known to him.

I danced for 9 years in India, then gave it up for 4-5 years, retook it in Singapore for another 3-4 years. And my dad was indifferent all those years.

But during my wedding Sangeet function three years ago, I gave a short dance performance and for the first time ever, he told me that he liked my performance. You can imagine how I would have felt that day.

But today was even more special. Today, my dad, for the first time ever, asked me whether I could do a dance performance at my cousin's upcoming wedding. He actually wants me to dance. You can imagine how I feel about that today.

951 more to go.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 48: The Housewife

I went to office all bright and chirpy this morning, contrary to what I had expected to be on the first working day after a brilliant holiday time. Not sure why I was bright and chirpy but I think it has got to do a lot with the fact that I won't be working for long before my next break - 6 days in Kerala starting 14th Jan!

So anyway, it's good news that I did not feel blue on a Monday and I was quite productive at work too. However, by afternoon I was beginning to feel the effects of my continuing flu and I had to pack up and escape the freezing office earlier than usual. After a couple of hours of rest at home, I decided to cook.

Yup, C.O.O.K. For the second time within a week which is a record in my 27.5 years of existence. I don't know what prompted me to do it but I think I wanted to do something productive other than work Since I couldn't think of anything else that would be termed productive, I decided to cook. Post that, I took a shower and did a long puja and prayer, again something that I have not done for a while. Then I waited for my husband to come home. I served him tea and then dinner, both of which he seemed to enjoy (not that he had any choice, but still).

In short, for the first time after almost 3 years of married life, I experienced how it is to feel something like a housewife. Mallus would have heard the song "Poomukhavaathilkal Sneham..." which pretty talks about the ideal wife. I kinda felt like that today. Cooking, praying, waiting for husband's arrival, serving food.

Tomorrow I am sure to come back to my senses. But for today, this was great.

952 more to go.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 47: Saving $21 and Being Pampered

The last day of holiday time. I knew that I would be rather blue the whole day. So to cheer myself up, I had planned to go for a movie (Old Dogs) with hubby. Accordingly we made advance bookings for an evening show.

But by noon, I was feeling kinda ill. The flu from yesterday was continuing and I felt not upto the show. We were already outside for lunch and the plan was to go for the movie directly from there. But I happened to mention that I was not feeling too good, to my hubby. And he insisted that I cancel the movie plan and go back home to rest. But I felt terrible about that, I mean what a waste of $21! So I resisted. However, his persistence and my illness got the better of me and I came back home to rest.

An hour before the movie, I decided not to waste that $21 and dragged along my hubby to the theatre. With all the to and fro cab expenses, we probably saved only $8 or so.

What made the day special was not the $8 that we supposedly 'saved' but the fact that inspite of me being not very visibly sick, my hubby had no issues cancelling all plans and instead, just waste time at home. When we decided to go back to the movies he was pretty worried and was constantly asking me how I felt, what I wanna eat/drink, getting me to have all kinda medicines etc. So in the process of trying to save $21, I felt pretty pampered. And that always feels good.

953 more to go.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 46: Autobiography of a Yogi

Today absolutely didn't go as planned. I was supposed to go for yoga and then work on the script. Instead I felt sick and it looked like a flu's in the offing. So ended up watching TV or napping most of the day. By evening, I was bored out my freaking mind that I had to do some damage prevention.

So I decided to read the "Autobiography of a Yogi" for the second time. I had read the book several years ago and honestly don't remember much about it now. But ever since I read a book called "Adikailasayatra" - travelogue on the journey to the Himalayas, I had been wanting to re-read "Autobiography of a Yogi" since it made several references to it.

The book, as the title clearly specifies is the autobiography of a Yogi, named Swami Paramahamsa Yogananda. "Yogi" is a sanskrit word and it means "a spiritual practioner".

I read around 8 chapters today and am enjoying every bit of it. One might chose to believe or not believe what's written in the book but can't deny the fact that it is a fascinating read. It describes pretty much a parallel universe, another plane of existence beyond our current comprehension.

Even if what's written there is not true, it still makes a wonderful story - a magical one at that... and I love stories. And if what's written there is all true, well... all I can say is Wow! And in either case, what it brings to the mind is awareness that there are other things in the world that one could be worried about other than wealth and possessions. And I guess that is never a bad lesson to be reminded of. Especially at the beginning of a new year.

So I'll get back to the book now.

954 more to go.

Day 45: Welcome 2010!

January 1, 2010

Had a pretty interesting start to the New Year! Well, firstly I woke up at noon... that is really excusable considering that I slept only at 5 am after the New Year's Eve party, cleaning up, blogging etc.

And then I made audition videos. Yup, I am auditioning myself for my own film. I prefer not to act in the films I direct for convenience sake, but I am auditioning myself as a back up for any role that I might be suitable for. You could ask me why would I bother to "audition" since the film is my own and I could do whatever I want with it, but I am a sucker for fairness and to some extend perfection. So I will not be playing a role if I can find someone better suitable for it for the sake of fairness to that person as well as for making my film better.

But more than auditioning myself the great thing about making the videos was that I thoroughly enjoyed myself! The three chosen monologues were pretty interesting to work with and I realized how much I missed acting! Unfortunately a Malayalam play I was supposed to act in mid last year got cancelled and since then I have not had an opportunity to act. So today I had a couple of hours of amazing fun recording different monologues!

And then I finalized my new year resolution - make my film. Was a no-brainer, that one. Usually I have around 8 resolutions or so a year and I manage to get through them but this year it is going to be just this one.

Later had a great meal with hubby at our favourite Indian restaurant at Hotel Rendezvous and caught Sherlock Holmes at night. All very enjoyable.

So I believe I had a decent enough start to the New Year - doing something that I really enjoy, setting a clear goal, spending some quality time with hubby. Now need to see through the rest of it, having fun all the way.

955 more to go.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Day 44: Goodbye 2009!

December 31, 2009

What a fabulous day to wrap up a fabulous year! If anyone had asked me how the year was during different times throughout 2009, I probably would have given different answers - from "awesome" to "downright pathetic". But as of today, the last day of the year, I can only really remember the events that made me happy. There were many of those, including the starting of this blog, but I won't list them down here. Instead, I will stick to what the post is supposed to be about - how this day, today, was special.

For starters I cooked. Yeah, it's a big deal. The last time I cooked was in November 2008. For an Indian married woman, it is some kinda sin to be not cooking for months at end. But my point of view is that I don't really enjoy it and neither me nor my husband go hungry because I don't cook. So why bother? Hence, I end up cooking about twice a year at max.

But today I cooked. Firstly because I realized that if I don't cook today, I would have spent an entire year, the whole of 2010, without cooking. I thought it would be a good idea to check whether I was capable of cooking or whether it was a completely lost cause. And I am happy to inform you that I successfully cooked two pretty decent dishes - one with egg and another with potatoes. Secondly, it helped that some close friends came over for dinner. It is always nicer if I have more people to enjoy my culinary skills than just my hubby.

That was the other cool thing about today. For the first time ever, some of our very close friends spent their New Year's Eve at our place. We ate, drank, played Pictionary (my team won!) and Twister. We watched some horrendous shows on TV as well and caught a bit of the Singapore New Year fireworks from our flat. It was all really, really fun! They left at 3:30 am and we enjoyed the evening throughout!

And last but not the least, I took a moment to pray. I don't pray frequently or consistently but I took a moment today - Just to say thanks for everything and also to put in my little request for a great year for everyone.

Here's to a wonderful 2010 and a fantastic new decade!

956 more to go.