Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 711: Healthiest Month!

I believe October has been my healthiest month ever! I have exercised a total of 20 days through October, which must be some kind of a personal record! From my tracking since 2008, the max I've hit is 16 days in a month... so this is a pretty big deal!

This record was achieved via a combination of runs, dance, yoga and even a 8km walk once.... all of which have contributed significantly to my health, am sure!

So here's to the closing of my healthiest month!

289 more to go.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 710: Overdue Catch Up!

There are friends with whom you are constantly in touch and with whom you have a "keep-each-other-updated" routine going on. Then there are others whom who are hardly in touch with, in spite of the fact that they are in the same city (or same office even, as in this case) but you hardly get to meet up with them. And what I really love is how, when you do get to catch up with one of the folks in the latter group, it feels like you have never been out of touch at all! You can pick up exactly where you left off months or years ago and realize that absolutely nothing has changed over this long gap!

So that's exactly what happened today. After dropping my mom at the airport (and feeling adequately blue about it), I made my way to this friend's place for a highly overdue catch up. She works at P&G as well and we go back a long way, right from when she worked with me as the Asst. Director for one of my plays. She is by far one of the most dedicated, hard working, responsible people I have worked with, who has also a great initiative in getting things done without me having to specify every single detail, which is something I really appreciate!

So yeah, we decided that it was high time we had a catch up and that's exactly what we did. Over some awesome chai and yummy risotto that she made, we yapped away for 3 straight hours. Like I mentioned above, we could start off right where we stopped last time (which was probably a year ago) and not feel any of the time gap at all! That feeling always rocks!

We did part by saying that we should catch up soon again. Not sure how much of that is gonna materialize, but for today I loved this overdue catch up!

290 more to go.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 709: Mom's Saturday!

The saturday's was pretty much spent on how my mom wanted it to be, given that it was her last day in Singapore before she leaves for India tomorrow morning. And what mom wanted turned out to be tons of movie watching, eating and chatting. Oh well, who can complain about that?!

So that's precisely what we did.

I think we ended up watching about 3 movies, binged on both the food she had cooked as well as the yummies at Kailas Parbat for dinner, wandered around Little India and had a marathon conversation that lasted the whole day, am not kidding!

After a week of happening Diwali celebrations, a nice, quiet Saturday with mommy dear was just what I wanted.

291 more to go.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 708: Diwali - Last Stretch!

Today kinda marked the last day of my personal Diwali celebrations, which had been kicked off about a week ago with the party at my place. Post that, everyday had something going on - be it attending some party or attending some puja or enjoying a mid-week public holiday or watching some new Diwali super-hyped film release or general uplifted holiday mood!

And this stretch of celebrations came to a close today with the biggest Diwali release of all times, the Hindi film Ra.One.

I wish I could say that film was incredibly awesome and added to the beauty of the day by heaps and bounds. But I can't. However the experience of going for it in a huge group, which was a culmination of all the hype preceding its release, was in itself quite something!

So with that, my first and longest proper Diwali celebrations end! Awesomeness!

292 more to go.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 707: 7am Arivu!

Diwali celebrations are continuing for the rest of week with one movie a day! So after a day of work and a good yoga session, we set out to watch the Tamil magnum opus "7am Arivu".

The last time I watched a Tamil movie on the big screen was more than 4 years ago. So I was super duper excited to watch this very much hyped film!

The movie had its set of very obvious flaws but I had a great time watching it! It was party due to the company I was with (9 Tamil movie fans went together!) and also the performance of its lead actor Surya, who I think is one of the best things to have hit Indian cinema in recent times. He was flawless!

A great evening and the holiday spirit continues!

293 more to go.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 706: Diwali, Dance & More!

This has gotto be one of the best Diwali ever! A few very nice things happened, and I felt pretty happy at the end of the day!

Time for a list:

a) The day started with a dance rehearsal and a dream come true for me. As silly as this may sound, I had always wanted a good picture of me dancing. Something where am in motion and not a static shot. This is something that has never ever happened for whatever reasons, in my several years of dancing (13 years altogether!) and something I had stopped thinking about, having given up dancing for a few years now. But today I was just fooling about with my camera and I happened to figure out how to take action shots. So with the help of the hubby, I took a few pics of the rehearsal. And most unexpectedly, I got the nice-dancing-in motion-picture that I've always wanted!! As small as this is, it made me super happy and Diwali started on a wonderful note!

b) Later on, it was time for multiple rounds of Diwali celebrations - first at my place and then later at the bro-in-law's place. A couple of friends came over and we had a nice time of puja, having sweets, lighting the diyas, taking a number of photos and general merrymaking! Then we repeated the whole deal at the bro-in-law's place!

c) Then of course, the Diwali wishes. Several messages flew to and fro through the day and in way, was a nice way to catch up with a lot of people!

d) And last but not the least, the day ended with the fantabulous "Real Steel"! I loved it - it's such a simple, heart warming film with terrific performances which also happens to be pretty good at the graphics! Completely enjoyed that one!

So yes, it was a very perfect Diwali!

294 more to go.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 705: Party Animal!

Gosh, it's like am turning to a party animal!

If anyone's been reading this blog for a while, you would realize that parties don't feature too often here, because well.. I don't really party a lot.

But now with the upcoming Diwali and my new found interest in parties, it's all that I seem to be doing!

After last saturday's major Mausams/Diwali party that I had hosted as well as the Durga puja celebrations a couple of weeks ago (which is also a party in my head because I was with a big group of people, I was dressed up and I ate a lot - all clear signals of a party), today I were to go for two different Diwali parties. Which means another round of dressing up, having a lot of food, being with big groups of people and having a load of fun!

So yes, today's for the party animal in me!

295 more to go.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 704: Labrador Park!

It was supposed to be a very normal day - you know, work the whole morning, go for yoga in the evening, have dinner at home with the hubby and mom at night etc. Nothing major was supposed to happen.

But then at about 5pm my mom decided that I shouldn't go for yoga. She made quite an argument about how she would be going back to India this coming sunday and hence how crucial it is for us to spend time together, even though it comes at the expense of my yoga.

Oh well, moms are pretty good with their arguments and my mom is especially so. Thus yoga went out of the window.

What came in instead was a visit to the Labrador Park!

A few weeks ago, I had happened to mention that there is going to be a direct train from my place to Labrador Park. My mom had stored this piece of information intact in her brain since then and she decided to pull it out today.

Given that I didn't have a very strong opinion on whether we should or should not go to Labrador Park, we ended up following mom's idea and found ourselves in a train.

Upon reaching the station called Labrador Park we realized that it is a reasonable distance away from what actually is Labrador Park. But the adventurous people that we are, we decided to take a stroll.

Somewhere down the road, we took a turn that brought us right in the middle of a dense jungle. Labrador Park is not only located awesomely next to the sea, but also has a very densely vegetated hill inside it. And that's where we found ourselves. We walked pretty aimlessly through the jungle and discovered quite a lot of interesting war relics (apparently this hill we were on was a vantage point for shooting at approaching boats from the sea), secret storage rooms, tunnels, etc. right in the middle of all that vegetation! Super cool stuff!

I must also mention that given that it was just the two of us in the middle of a jungle, it was rather spooky as well.

Anyway, after quite a lot of walking about, we found ourselves to the more familiar stretch of the park by the sea. Every time I go to Labrador park, am fascinated by how pretty it looks! The last time I was here was during location scouting for Mausams - that was 511 days ago, according to this blog. However that time a friend had given me a ride and we had spent very little time there. This time we really got to discover the park in detail and that too on foot, which was pretty nice!

The very nice mix of the forested area, the stretch by the sea, the lovely platforms, the lack of fellow humans, and the very strong breeze from the sea was perfect!

It was a lovely experience!

Oh, and needless to say, mom was pretty pleased with the trip. Given that it was her idea to go there, she almost thinks she discovered Labrador Park and introduced it to me!

Let me wind up with a picture of my pretty mom, looking pretty happy, at a pretty spot in Labrador Park!

296 more to go.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 703: Recovering!

The whole of today was spent on recovering from yesterday. Like, literally!

I didn't feel like doing anything but rest, after that hugely fun but exhausting party yesterday.

But I must say that... even though I was resting, the feeling of excitement continued through the day! I had chats - be it via SMS or phone or gTalk or Facebook with quite a number of friends, about all the fun we had yesterday! I myself couldn't stop looking at all the pictures and grinning at the memory of a totally mad evening!

So yes, a happy day of recovering!

297 more to go.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 702: Partaaaayyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!

Wah!!! Whatta a party it was!!!

Like I had mentioned yesterday, today I hosted my biggest ever party!!

OK fine, given that I don't exactly host many parties, getting it to be the"biggest" wasn't really that tough. But it was definitely one of the best times I've ever had!!!

Together with the Mausams gang and a few close friends who were invited, we had a super duper blast!!! I was grinning like an idiot throughout, with all the excitement (and also the Rosso Martini) and loved every bit of the experience! I dunno how to replicate all that excitement into the blog but let me just write down a few highlights:

a) The fact that many of my most favourite people could make it!
b) Decorating the house with some Diwali paraphernalia and electric lights!
c) Lighting the diwali lamps with the help of all the friends who got to the party early!
d) The super popular Pani Puris! These were catered and turned out to be a major hit with everyone! We had people ditching our Bingo game to have Pani Puris!
e) The yummy menu with the awesome carrot halwa and rajma salad that a friend contributed to the evening, Mom's green peas curry and payasam as well as the catered pulao, tandoori chicken and malai kofta! Yummm!
f) Soju, which the hubby had bought from his most recent trip to Korea and which came in the cutest little containers. It turned out be the biggest hit amongst all the drinks (which were way too many, by the way) of the day!
g) The Bingo (also known as Tambola/Housie) game which turned out to be downright uproarious! There was ongoing confusion about the rules, about the numbers, accusations of cheating whenever the hubby won a game (which he did with remarkabe frequency) and ridiculously high decibel noise throughout.
g) Dance, dance and more dance!!! I believe we got every single person in the room to dance at least for one song! The best was dancing or rather running, to the fantastic D K Bose (Bhaag Bhaag) song! All of us were on our feet for that one...just madly doing the running-man... it was AWESOME!
f) Last but not the least, getting the security guards of our condominium to come all the way to our apartment to escort the guests out from our door until the gates, to ensure that we party no more past midnight! Apparently they got a record number of complaints from the residents, thanks to us! How amazing!!!

So there... My first proper party and I had a really, really, really amazing time!!!

298 more to go.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 701: Party Preps!

Tomorrow I am to host my first ever major party at home - a Mausams cum Diwali party. The idea was to not only have a celebration of the upcoming Diwali but also to celebrate Mausams' very unexpected acceptance at a couple of film festivals over the last few months!

So today, after work and a very good session of yoga, I went on two rounds of shopping - one round with Mom and Jumilah and another round with the hubby. Then it was about getting the games ready, songs ready, wondering a thousand times whether the food would be enough, whether the drinks would be enough and basically feeling super excited about the upcoming party!

299 more to go.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 700: Dance with the Mother!

The most unexpected thing happened today!

I was rehearsing the dance for an upcoming wedding in India and my mom, who is in town, decided that she too wants to learn. "I was a dancer in my younger days as well", she said proudly.

Alright then.

So she joined in. I taught her a few steps and she started to follow me! For about 30 minutes, the mother-daughter pair danced away!

It was a very fun experience! More so because her dance was accompanied throughout by her chatter - "How am I doing?", "Pretty good, no?", "Only this step is a bit hard", "Oh am getting it now", "See.. see..", "Ho.. so tired... ", "I was a dancer in my younger days..", "Good Good!"...

300 more to go.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Days 697 - 699: Three Cool Days at Work!

17 - 19 October, 2011

Another combined blog entry. There's actually a good reason for it, but let me give some background first.

Over the past few days I have been feeling like I am not doing anything anymore; that I have gone from a 'doer' to a 'sitter on the ass'.

And what I mean by that is, currently I don't seem to be working on any big or small project other than what I am expected to do with my daily life - i.e. work, spend time with family, exercise and such usual stuff. This is, on an average, pretty unusual for me because I always have something going on to add a bit more spice to life, even if it is as simple as writing a script!

But over the last week or two, I have not been working on any such extra projects of mine. The shoot for my Malayalam short film "Inganeyum Oru Katha" has been stalled because a very essential cast member is out of town and we can't restart until he is back. I did start writing my new feature film script almost two weeks ago but had not gotten back to it since then. So in other words, I have kept myself rather jobless.

What's most interesting is not the fact that I am not doing any of these things but the fact that I seem to be perfectly OK with it. Usually if I pass about 10 days with a very regular routine of my life, I would be tearing my hair apart and would be itching to do something. But there's none of that hair-tearing tendency this time.

Sure, it could partly be because I have been watching a lot of movies, or because my mom is in town and hence am spending time with her, or because I have started to read the super thick Fountainhead which I am enjoying, or because I am incredibly busy at work so I don't have time to think about anything else. etc.

But more than anything else, I feel like it's because not only am I pretty busy at work but I seem to be very happy doing it! Usually the itch to do something starts when work becomes too stressful and I need some kinda part time escape. But these days I seem to be well settled in a comfortable zone at work!

Which brings me to the combined blog entry - I am combining the entries because when I look back, what's been really special about the last three days are ALL things that've happened at work.

All work related highlights for three days in a row - that's quite something! So here's what they were...

On 17th October, I had my first meeting in the Google office as part of a new project am working on in collaboration with them. With its brightly coloured decor and awesome spread of food, their spanking new office perked up my Monday morning considerably. Post a very productive meeting, I took the rest of the day to complete an analysis which required a fair amount of data digging. After about 8 hours of continuos work on it, it was successfully completed and I felt awesome! It was my last deliverable to my current boss, who is moving to a new assignment, and I wanted to ensure that I didn't miss this one deadline. And I was glad I didn't!

On 18th October, I finally felt like I am indeed the "expert" I am supposed to be, in a certain area at work!

The story behind this is that about a year ago, I was put in charge of particular aspect of our business which needed constant monitoring and analysis and reporting etc. In other words, I was to turn myself to be an expert in this area. I did a fair amount of work on it over the last year and was always referred to by those who wanted to get any piece of information or perspective in this area. But if I were to cross my heart, I would never have called myself an expert at it. I was never confident that I had the vast, deep knowledge about the area that an "expert" is supposed to have and this lack of confidence had been haunting me for months!

However today, for the first time ever, I felt like maybe I am indeed an "expert"!! It happened because I got an out of the blue request on my "expert opinion" about what the plans in a certain market should be, a year from now. I don't work for this market, but given that the plans they are developing are highly dependent on the area I am supposed to have expertise in, they had reached out to me for my very topline opinion. I thought about it for a while and drafted out a 18 month draft plan on what I think they must do. And lo behold! The project leader for the market replied back with their version of the 18 month plan, something which they had put together after months of meticulous data mining and brainstorming and it mirrored exactly what I had suggested as well! I can't tell you how relieved and happy I was with that! I would have looked like a complete idiot if the plans didn't match at all, but I had never thought that my draft ideas would be so very much in line with their detailed plan which was very much data supported! That made me, finally, feel like I know something. And it means a lot, like a freaking LOT to me! No more haunting lack of confidence!

Last but not the least, 19th October. I was at office from 8:00am to 10:30pm, I had two huge presentations to give, for which I had been preparing for the past few weeks, and I was hardly having time to breathe. But both went off exceptionally well, and I felt very, very satisfied! 14.5 hours of work but I was smiling broadly at the end of it!

So as you can see, I am happy. At work. In fact, things are so good there that I am being quite the lazybum otherwise. Am not sure how long this phase would last, but I am thoroughly enjoying it for the time being!

Then again, as long as a day is beautiful, who cares for the reason!

301 more to go.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Days 694 - 696: "Ayur Rekha", "Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster" and "Salt & Pepper"!

14 - 16 October, 2011

Am writing this on October 17th and I have decided to combine the posts of the last three days simply because all three are focused on films - three films that I happened to catch, one on each day, and which pleasantly surprised me for different reasons. I must add that there were other small, nice happenings during these days, such as a great yoga class, a great dance rehearsal session with the hubby, a good time catching up with a friend, a good time planning for the visit to Dhaka film fest, a nice Sunday evening spent with the hubby and mom at my favourite destination Clarke Quay and hogging on some awesome food (including McDonalds french fries which I haven't had in ages and which are just so sinfully yummy, great kebabs at Marrakesh, mom's egg curry, Jumillah's pancakes with honey, etc. etc)! But I have chosen to focus on the films because well, sometimes I prefer to be more of a film buff than all the other things I supposedly am in my life.

So, here we go.

For the 14th of October, it was a very small Malayalam movie called Ayur Rekha. It is exactly the kind of the film that I would have very easily given a skip if I went strictly by its star cast or even its trailer, but I happened to catch it, having nothing else to do in the evening. And I was very fascinated to realize that it was a very mature, very interesting and very different film. Not in terms of its storyline, but in terms of its execution. Some of the characterisations, scenes and dialogues were very new and different for Malayalam cinema and really took me by surprise. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

On October 15th, it was again a very small and pretty much unheard of Hindi film "Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster". This one was outstanding, really! The performances were all par excellence and I was very impressed by the direction! I would have easily skipped this one as well, if I were to go by its tacky title alone (it means "Master, Wife and Gangster"....), but decided to catch it after some good reviews from a few friends. And I was so pleasantly surprised! Excellent film!

On October 16th, it was the much awaited Malayalam film, "Salt & Pepper". Now this too is a small film, but definitely not unheard of. It is one of the most successful mini-budget Malayalam films of recent times and I had been hearing way too much about it and it was only on October 16th that I finally got a chance to view it. And man, even with all that high expectation, it blew me away! Such a simple and heart-warming film, so refreshingly told! And as the name suggests, one that really encourges gastronomy! The movie made me smile, hungry and at times, even wanting to cook (God save us all)! It is just the kinda film Malayalam cinema needs these days - original, simple, witty and real!

As you can see, it's been a very film-y weekend. Awesomeness!

304 more to go.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 693: Diwali Shopping!

This is yet another example of how am being transformed to a more domesticated self, post the arrival of Jumillah.

I have actually planned for a party at my place (first proper one since my housewarming party more than 2 years ago!) to celebrate both the Mausams film festival stint as well as the upcoming Diwali! Earlier, I used to be way too lazy to throw a party because honestly, who is gonna help me clear the unavoidable mess later? But no more such worries now!

So yes, the party is on and I have been preparing quite actively for it - getting the invitations done, getting the caterers, figuring out the drinks, decorations, games etc.

As part of the preparations, today, Mom, Jumillah and I set out for shopping for the Diwali stuff. I have never shopped for any festival in my last 13 years in Singapore, so this is like super new and exciting stuff! And to make it a real celebration, thankfully Little India in Singapore was very much decked up too! A road has been converted to just shops, shops and more shops selling Diwali paraphernalia. It was buzzing with colours, lights, chatter and fun! Totally happening, really!

After walking around open-mouthed in amazement at all that stuff, we got ourselves diyas, electric lights, hanging decorations, candles etc. All three of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

This is like the beginning of my own, first ever big celebration of a festival in Singapore! It's going to be one awesome experience!

307 more to go.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 692: Song Editing!

When I used to be in college I used to do a fair amount of editing songs for dance performances. What this basically means is tweaking the songs so that they suit the pace, time etc. that I need for my performance. So for e.g. I might have to edit a 4 minute song to a 2 minute snippet or make a string of songs that follow each other seamlessly. A lot of times, this would be a lot more complicated that it sounds, especially making sure a "cut" in the song is not evident when playing.

Anyway, I had not done something like this for several years now, mainly because it's been ages since I danced, let alone danced to music that needed editing.

However, the dances that I have been rehearsing for the upcoming wedding of the cousin, do require edited songs. So today, I was back to song editing!

And I had such a lovely time doing that. Firstly making a decision on what to keep and what to take out, then finding patches were I can snip and sew without any obvious blips and finally doing the snipping and sewing until it is exactly the seamless piece of music I need!

The feeling of satisfaction that even such a small activity gives is so amazing! Had an awesome time!

308 more to go.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 691: A Different Kinda Run..

There are runs. And then there are the real, real runs.

Not shuffles, not jogs, no even a run - not just that.

But the ones where you run as if your life depends on it - where you hear your legs beat down on the ground mocking a stampede, hear your own close-to-cardiac-arrest breathing and feel the heart thumping in your chest, hear the wind rushing by with an oceanic swwwwiiissssh. The ones where you run so hard that you feel like your legs are gonna fall off, but you can't stop because it's simply way too exhilarating!

I was talking about that kinda run this morning. I was telling my friend on how rarely do we, especially women, give ourselves the privilege of such a run!

Leaving aside how and why the topic came up, post the conversation, I didn't wanna do anything else but go for that kinda run.

And so I did!

On a relatively empty stretch of road near my house, for about 700 mts, I ran like I haven't run for as long as I could remember!

I heard my legs beat down on the ground mocking a stampede.
I heard my close-to-cardiac-arrest breathing.
I felt my heart thump in my chest.
I heard the wind rushing by with an oceanic swwwwiiissssh.
I felt like my legs were gonna fall.

And true enough, I didn't feel like stopping...

I was exhilarated!

309 more to go.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 690: Milaap!

A few months ago, I had written here about having a brainwave and being quite excited about it. It was something I had been wanting to do for a very long time now but hadn't figured the details out for, until the day of the blog. I had not written much about what exactly this was all about then, but I will do so now.

I always had the question on how trustworthy several of these charitable institutions really are. I have heard so many horror stories of how money that goes into charities get swindled and it makes me wonder how much really benefits the ones it is supposed to benefit. I also used to feel that this is a reason why sometimes people hesitate to donate - because they don't really get see what changes their donations are truly making to someone else's life. They donate to a black box and don't know what exactly happens after that. They are simply far too cut off from the end beneficiary to feel a real connection.

The day of the "brainwave", I figured a process which could very simply solve both the issues. I wanted to start an online charitable portal where underprivileged individuals with very specific needs were chosen and were helped by those willing to donate. The key driving principle of this was to be Transparency. The individual's exact need would be identified (for e.g. a rickshaw for a family with no source of income, medical cost for an ailing earning member of an underprivileged family etc.) and will be put up for requests for donations with details on exact how much this would cost. On top, there would be a very real time tracking of how much money has been received so far via donations, how much still needs to be collected, where has a particular donation amount been spent exactly and also proof of the final outcome (in terms of pictures, videos, scanned official documents etc.). The idea was that unlike a lot of charitable causes around the world, every donor can keep track of his/her money and how exactly it is being used by the beneficiary. That way everyone knows how they are helping someone and by how much, which can be very satisfying. The idea was also to help underprivileged individuals to get the exact help they need, even if on a small scale, but that can make a world of difference.

That was the idea in a nutshell and I worked for a while to get details on how to go about this. I got feedback from a few people and also a few volunteers to make this happen!

However, it couldn't progress too much. I wanted to make the cause work in India where there are millions who don't even have enough to eat everyday, vs. Singapore. And that's exactly where it got stuck. The legal proceedings seemed far too complicated and beyond my comprehension. So after trying for a few months, my efforts took a backseat and I moved on with my life, not without a sense of failure.

And then came Milaap.

Milaap is a microfinancing organization based in India and I recently happened to go to its website. Interestingly, I had been hearing a lot about Milaap for months or even years, now...but it had never occurred to me to pay its site a visit! Given that a senior of mine from university is one of its lead organizers and given that he is also pretty active on Facebook when it comes to Milaap updates, it is rather shocking and embarrassing that I had not really bothered to find out more about it until now. (Let me just blame it all on Mausams work and save myself from any more embarrassment).

Anyway, coming to the point, when I finally went to the Milaap site, I was stunned to see how close it was to what I had dreamt about with my project! The individuals with their very specific individual needs, the amount needed, the tracking of the amount donated and their sources, how much of it has been paid back etc., were all there! It's transparent, simple and very empowering! The only difference is that I was thinking 100% charity, while Milaap is microfinancing. I actually feel the latter is far better - the beneficiaries also have a sense of achievement and responsibility this way because well... they are not taking "charity"!

Let me just say, I LOVED IT!!!

After going through all the profiles of borrowers, I finally decided to lend to a lady, Mariyayee, for the construction of a toilet for her family. She has two daughters and I thought a toilet would be a very basic requirement for a family with three ladies! So she was my chosen borrower.

What Milaap had also done was to check the family's average monthly savings and figure out whether they would be able to repay the monthly installments, the details of which were also up on her profile. When I made the loan, I was not really expecting to be paid back, but was still curious to see how the system works.

And am very happy to let you know that, Mariyayee has successfully made her first installment as of today! Her family's toilet should be on its way and she is being able to cope with her loan as of now! How nice is that?!

And Milaap is giving me a transparent update - just the way it should be!

What would be most fantastic is if they also update once the construction is done - am not sure whether that's being planned, but even otherwise the fact that the installments are coming in and my "account" is showing spare money that I can lend to others, is already a good enough signal of things working well so far.


Milaap - take a bow!

P.S. For all those who are interested in knowing more about Milaap, you may visit

310 more to go.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 689: Gajalee!

Today we had dinner at this awesome new discovery called Gajalee at Cuppage Terrace!

We were actually on our way to another restaurant but I noticed this place and browsed through their menu for a bit. When I couldn't seem to make up my mind, I commented something to my mother in Malayalam. Suddenly the response to that came in Malayalam, not from my mom but from the guy from Gajalee who was standing near us!

Of course, the Mallu bond sparked immediately and when he assured us that this food is beyond awesome, we decided to give it a shot.

And it was indeed beyond awesome! Their mutton chop masala and green chilly prawns curry were to die for! Yummmmm!

Gajalee - my new terrific find!

311 more to go.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 688: A Script, A Meeting!

8 October, 2011

Two good things happened today.

a) I started on my next...gulp... feature film script!! Am not quite sure why I started to write it when I haven't yet completed Inganeyum Oru Katha (the short film am currently working on). But there was nothing else to do this morning since a shoot got cancelled, and I had a full fledged storyline in my head. So I just sat down and started to write! So far it's shaping up rather interestingly I must say, much unlike my Mausams style. While this writing process is fun, I don't think am ready to get into a feature-film-whilrwind yet (and hence the gulping in the first sentence) but as of today, I enjoyed the writing thoroughly!

b) I met up with someone who's been reading this blog for a few months now and is also a fellow film enthusiast! He had first introduced himself to me a few months ago and I had written about that very nice, unexpected message here. Given that our interests are very similar, we finally decided to meet up! The conversation surrounded the blog, films, Urdu, plays and such. It was a very nice experience - getting to meet someone because of this blog and also, because of Mausams! These experiences are always pretty special!

312 more to go.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 687: Day Out in Mustafa!

7 October, 2011

The most interesting thing happened today!

My mom, who is in town, decided that she will tag Jumillah along with her, on her trip to Mustafa. The idea was to get Jumillah familiar with the mecca of Indian shopping in Singapore.

Now what either of us didn't know was that Jumillah had, in the past, never been out with her employer to anywhere beyond the very near supermarket. She had always heard of 'The Mustafa' but never had a chance to go there in the last six years in Singapore! So she was as excited about the prospect of visiting this one-and-only hyper-super-duper-mart in Singapore, as an 8 year old would be about a visit to Disneyland.

She got all her work done early in the morning, was constantly checking with my mom on when they were about to start on their trip and finally when it was time, got dressed in her best of clothes, and very excitedly set out!

I left the ladies to themselves at mustafa and proceeded for my yoga class. When I came back to pick them up post the class, Jumillah and my mom were sitting at Mustafa's cafe with several Mustafa bags all around them and having an animated conversation as if they were the best of buds. You must know that both of them are not fluent in English, yet they seemed to get along just fine! My mom's ability to hit it off with anyone and everyone amazes me at times!

Anyway, when Jumillah saw me, she sprung up and rattled away that she is never coming to Mustafa on her own, ever. She is an expert at making expectations clear, I must say. "I si-kared ma'm, so big ma'm, Jumillah si-kared, Jumillah lost!" I believe she was both fascinated and scared by Mustafa. It was humungous, magnificent, confusing and intimidating, all at the same time.

I assured her that she doesn't have to come here on her own, not yet at least, and that I will accompany her until she is confident. After she calmed down, the three of us went to a restaurant and ordered food. I let Jumillah order whatever she took fancy to, which happened to be rice and prawns curry, while my mom and I got whatever we took fancy to.

Through the dinner and the cab ride back, Jumillah went into a "Thank you" spree. Apparently this was the first time she has been taken to eat out in a restaurant by an employer. A bit shocking, that.

It was as if she couldn't believe her good fortune and in turn, I was reminded of my own good fortune. Whatever we take for granted, means so SO much.... to someone else!

A humbling perspective.

313 more to go.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 686: iCon.

Today's for Steve Jobs.

It was time for him to go, like it would be for all of us. But the world stopped in its tracks and paid him respects, unlike what will happen to a lot of us. That alone makes this day a special one.

I don't plan to write a long note on Steve Jobs and what his contributions were to this world - a lot of others have already done that in a much more beautiful way than I ever can - but today, I did spend a long time reading about him and his wonderful messages to this world.

Here are a few that I want to keep in my head for a long time to come:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

"Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.”

A true icon. Respect!

Rest in peace.

314 more to go

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 685: Laziness

I didn't feel like doing anything today.

Of course, I went to work and all that, but I didn't feel like doing anything beyond that. I simply wanted to rest, without too much excitement on anything.

So after work I got back home early, I had my dinner early, I went to bed early.

That could be looked at as pure laziness but for today it's just want I wanted!

315 more to go.

Day 684: Full Fledged Puja!

4 October, 2011

When we went for the Durga Puja Ananda Mela last Saturday, we had decided that we will definitely be back for the main day of celebration, the Ashtami day. We also decided that we will deck ourselves in Indian attire and really feel part of the celebration!

So that's what I did... I wore a salwar in true Indian ishtyle and set off for the Durga Puja!

It was awesome fun! A few friends and bro & sis-in-law had also joined and together with a few thousand other Indians, we celebrated Durga Puja! Which basically meant we watched the ceremony, looked around and observed all the fellow decked up Indians, had a good Indian dinner and chit chatted for hours!

It was like a full fledged Puja celebration! Loved it!

316 more to go.

Day 683: Public Declaration!

3 October, 2011

So this is how a very conscious effort to make the day productive, and hence beautiful, was made.

After a hard day of work, at 6:30 pm, I updated my Facebook message:

"It's 6:30pm and I have the following things to do this evening: a) Cook (yeah, I know!), b) Dance rehearsal (yay!), c) Complete all the pending blogs (ugh!), d) Start on a bit of IOK editing (phew!). And now that I have publicly declared my plans on Facebook, my inflated ego will ensure I execute all the above. Hopefully."

At 10:30, all the above were done. Buhahaha! I knew my inflated ego would do wonders!

Oh I must also mention here that the above process what not completely without its share of pains. As you can see cooking was on the agenda! The only reason being that I had this sudden desire to cook my own recipe from last year (I had written about how I came up with it here!). In my recipe I had mentioned a key ingredient "Urad daal". But today, for the life of me, I couldn't figure which daal was urad daal! You may ask me how it got to my recipe then! I have no clue but the best guess is that I might have called my mom and asked her something like what the round thing in the plastic bottle with the red lid is and what are its uses. Anyway to avoid looking like a dunce in front of Jumillah who was closely watching my cooking process, I took the easy way out - i.e. cook without urad daal! Hah! The recipe is so awesome that the dish was super tasty even without it!

So yes, an incredibly productive and beautiful day, thanks to my upfront public declaration of my goals!

317 more to go.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 682: People Time!

2 October, 2011

Two very nice things happened today.

a) I had a great shoot of IOK with my lovely team! We didn't go to any fancy remote location but stuck to my neighbourhood to shoot, lest it rains again! But it didn't rain and we had a productive shoot. But as always, more than the shooting itself, it was the people that made it awesome! I have a very enthusiastic and funny bunch as my cast and crew and they really make every shoot a lot of fun!

b) After having a great time with the fun bunch, it was time for just us - the hubby and I. It was the first weekend evening after about 2 months where we found ourselves with just each other and nothing much to do - no work, no shoot, not travelling etc. So we decided to make the most of it and went to our favourite hangout in Clarke Quay. Over some yummy dinner and wine, we discussed life questions - our usual activity when we find ourselves spending more than 15 minutes together with nothing much to do! That was too much fun - great food, great wine, great conversation and a great time!

So yes - a really nice day first with the friends and then with the hubby!

P.S. I must also mention that I watched Chappa Kurichu - a very well-made Malayalam movie - and thoroughly enjoyed it! I don't want all the abovementioned people-fun to overshadow it! I was very impressed by the film - it has finally brought some super slick execution and good quality use of English to Malayalam cinema! Way to go!

318 more to go.

Day 681: Shoot, Rain, Test Shoot & Durga Puja Ananda Mela!

1 October, 2011

An excellent start to October, really! A super fun day!

a) We were back at IOK shoot - this time taking the shoot outdoors. We chose a pretty nice location, away from mankind, lovely with plenty of trees and a foliage. Such was the natural beauty of the place that we even saw a few "wild hens" in there. Am not quite sure if that's what they are actually called, but a member of the team seemed absolutely certain about the nomenclature, so I shall go with it.

The main shot of the day was to be a moving shot throughout, i.e. we wanted to capture a conversation between the cast, as they walk down the road. Which basically meant while shooting, the camera guy had to follow the cast to record the video, the audio guy had to follow the cast with his boom mic pole to record the audio, and I had to follow the cast making sure they are acting the way I want them to. And figuring all this out wasn't exactly easy but was definitely a lot of fun!

b) We shot for an hour or so and then it began to pour cats and dogs. Despite my best attempts at praying for good weather, the rain-gods decided to lash out. Now if you remember, we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere during the shoot. So such a situation could have easily been catastrophic with all the equipment getting drenched. But as luck would have it, a member of the crew had come in his car which was parked a little away. We rushed to the car, dumped all the equipment in first, and squeezed our precious selves into it. Given that the rain-gods didn't seem to be on my side this time, I decided that we can just all go back to my place, and get some brunch. Such suggestions are usually agreed to pretty unanimously, and it was no different this time!

c) Given that it didn't look like the skies would clear any time soon, post the brunch, I cancelled the shoot for the day. Instead three of us decided to watch the footage taken so far. That's when we realized that all that "following" of the cast with a handheld camera simply doesnt produce stable footage. Not even close to stable. One guy suggested that we should probably just put this camera on a tripod and shift the zoom/focus as the cast walks and see whether it works out. Since that sounded like a better option, we went down to the street and did some mock shots. And yes, it did seem far better than our morning efforts! Sometimes you can't really blame these rain-gods. They do have a good reason to lash out the way they do. If we had spent several hours shooting in the morning, we would have had to reshoot the entire thing! Now at least only an hour has been wasted. So thank you rain-gods!

d) After that successful test shoot, it was time to have a totally different kinda fun! A Bengali friend of ours took us to the Durga Puja Ananda Mela - a fair with lotsa Bengalis, 90% of them looking like they are just out of a Kumaran Silks advertisement (or its Bengali equivalent), tons of yummy food and of course a huge display of Goddess Durga! We prayed first and then explored the fair under the able guidance of the dear friend. Over several spurts of gorging on cutlets, pani puri, dhokla, pav bhaji, jalebi, kathi roll and kulfi, we were educated on some very interesting insider insights of the Bengali psyche! Such fascinating people - I love them and the awesome Durga Puja Ananda Mela!

All in all, a super cool Saturday!

319 more to go.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 680: The Happiness Bug!

30 September, 2011

These days am generally feeling pretty good about everything. About work, family, friends, films, some other projects I am involved in. etc.

Today too, I have been just generally beaming!

Sure, there were a few nice conversations with friends, fun rehearsals for IOK, some good stuff at work etc., but more than any one of them being a single highlight, overall everything felt nice and uplifting!

I almost feel like I've been bitten by the "happiness bug"!

And am gonna thoroughly enjoy it as long as it lasts!

320 more to go

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 679: Yet Another "Cracked-It"!

29 September, 2011

I have been having an incredibly challenging time at work as some of my posts over the last few months would indicate. But good news is that I had somehow managed to turn around things - i.e. at least bring them to an upward curve vs. the downward spiral everything seems to be heading in; starting from some time in July - maybe around the time of this post here.

However one project, even though being a low priority one, had been bugging me for a while now. Somehow the team was not being able to bring any structure to it and it was just being put away endlessly. It was an analysis project, so I was also not getting much time to sit on it and think through and given its low priority, I would admit that I had been procrastinating considerably as well. Nett, it wasn't going anywhere.

But today I finally decided that enough was enough and it was really time that something was done about it. So I blocked the day off and cancelled all my meetings and just sat down to think and think and think some more.

After the thinking, I started the writing... and after writing out a few different ways of handling the analysis, I finally got something that looked like it would work. That gave me a lot of hope!

I put together a document with my thinking and sent it to my boss, with all my fingers and toes crossed. If she thought it was sub-standard, that would mean complete waste of an entire day.

Instead she said, "Love it!" And there comes cloud no. 9!

There is a LOT of work still to be done... but for today, I totally cracked what I meant to!


321 more to go.