Sunday, June 22, 2008

Airtel Super Singer 2008 - On Air from tomorrow

Quite a self-explanatory headline there.
Starting tomorrow, 23rd June Airtel Super Singer 2008 will be telecast on Vijay TV Mondays-Tuesdays-Wednesdays.
If and When you do watch it please do send in your comments.

Trichy connections

Just came to my knowledge that one of my grandmothers hails from Trichy. Probably explains the minor bit of attachment that I felt while there. Apparently the people of Trichy cook extremely well. My mom has been wishing that I could imbibe some culinary skills, if any were infused into my genes. So far I am not majorly interested in cooking. I remember I had a huge cooking madness in my teens. Cooked Chinese and wotnot and called lot of my friends home for lunch. Yes they all live happily ever after and are healthy. It used to turn out pretty well, Yep I know I should not compliment myself, but I know when I have pulled off something good. Somewhere down the line, mom decided to call the shots and say enough is enough, the kitchen is a mess and asked me to get out. I don't do anything stellar in the kitchen these days. My mom has faith that things will change. Hm...

A close shave.. or was it?

I would never be able to say. We went to Besant Nagar last night, had dinner with friends and just as we were about to return it started drizzling there. We dropped our friends and by the time we were half way home it was pouring. The roads closer to our area were practically inundated. It was surprising because the past few days have not been exhibiting any kinda behaviour to elicit such rains. A few vehicles were stranded en route. Once near our street, we took a turn. Our street is slightly low lying and the amount of water we have to wade through on such days is at least 9-10 inches. Just as we were half way down the street, the lamp-post directly in front of us had a short circuit and burst into flames. I thought we were going to be electrocuted Anniyan style. We were unable to turn into the other street which lead to our home so all that we could do was back out. We had no idea if we will be roasted alive by the time we even went out. But we did. By that time, there was a fire raging enough to illuminate the couple of streets around. We called the police and they said they said they would send someone.. We stood there at the beginning of the streets asking motorists not to use the road for almost an hour. I wonder whether two-wheeler riders are so blind that they cannot see whats blazing in front of them. It was past midnight by then and we had called the authorities a couple more times in the meanwhile. There was a roundabout route that we could take and we reached home. The fire looked worse now and we called the authorities again. By the time we entered the house, the power was off. Finally.
We heard voices and that was when I wondered whether our Electricity Board officials/workers, whoever they send for such issues, have enough safety equipment. They would had to wade through knee-deep water by then. I should probably go ask the EB officials when we go to pay the bill next time.
The power came back after a couple of hours. And this morning, as I looked out of the window, there are almost no traces of the rain last night. The roads are near dry.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Also in Trichy....

While we climbed up Ucchi Pillaiyar on Friday and settled on the rocks after Darshan, (that was an issue though, I kept slipping down) Pradeep told us about Michael's ice cream. So I went hunting for that too. Our driver knew where it was and when I asked him what's so special about Michael's Ice cream, it was the price first. Sold at 2/- bucks. And they said it tastes good as well. It has been there ever since the time of the British according to the driver.
Off we went hunting and actually saw that Vanilla was sold for 2/-, Chocolate for 3/-.
The experience of having a rendu roobai icecream is quite fantastic. If you go looking for Michael's don't expect a waltz on your taste buds or anything.

There is a small coffee shop near the Ranganatha Swamy Temple in Srirangam. Its open from 4:30 AM to 8:30 AM in the morning and then opens again from 3:00 to 5:30 in the evening. And this guy sells only coffee. Nothing else. So I tried that as well and kinda liked it. Heard that people there are addicted to that coffee.

Did not really get to sample food on these lines. Maybe some other time..

So if you are in Trichy next, do check these places out and let me know. I don't know the exact location of Michael's Ice Cream but anyone and everyone knows how to get there.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sojourn in Tiruchirapalli.

The morning after the auditions was the time I had set aside to visit the temples around the area. The last time that we had been in Trichy for the Vasan Eye Care show, we visited Srirangam. For the first time. The wait was excruciatingly long but completely worth it.
This time however, things were different. I woke up at about 4:30 and I was out of the hotel by about 5. Bag and Baggage and all. Thought I would catch the flight directly from the last temple visit.
I contemplated skipping Srirangam but looks like Ranganatha decided to meet me. So almost on a last minute decision we went to catch the Vishwaroopa Darshan. Surprisingly we were in the area closest to the sanctum sanctorum within minutes. Thats when the friends I had been with told me that the elephant would trumpet heralding the darshan. In a while I heard the sound. Drums started beating and I heard bells in the distance which slowly grew closer. Then I saw the elephant. The way it sauntered in with the mahout (I guess) on top and there was also a kodam which was covered in red cloth. The elephant then majestically sat down to help the gentleman get down and head inside. Then the elephant was led inside, it happily climbed up the few stairs and came inside a very narrow pathway that was made with people on both sides to face the Lord. In the next few minutes, the horse and a cow were also led inside. During that time, the elephant kept flapping its ears and it seemed to me as if it were fanning the devotees. It then bent down and trumpeted again. That was when, with all the drama and grandeur, the only screen separating our vision of the Lord was whisked to the sides and He was finally visible with the nine lamps and the Deepaaraadhana happened. In no time, I would probably clock it at about 35 seconds the screens were drawn again and it was totally upto your destiny or luck, whatever you might want to call it, to see the Lord within those precious moments. The total time taken from the time of stepping in and stepping out was approximately 25 minutes and we were then on our way to Samayapuram. On the way, there was another temple, I forget the name now, Uthamarkovil, which has the moorthi-s of Brahma Vishnu and Shiva. I was said its the only one of its kind. I went in to see Narayana, then requested the pandit to open Brahma's sannadhi. Only, I waited in vain to see Bhikshaadanaeshwarar. The priest apaprently walks in only at 8'o clock and I did not have the time. Heading to Samayapuram, the whole energy and outlook of the people there has a stark difference to the other temples that I visited. There is a lot more fervour, to say the least. I saw a few people lying down on the ground with lamps placed on their heads or hands. I headed inside, went to see the Goddess, stood there sang for a while, and came around to see some member of the Vijay TV crew there. I waved out and waited for them. That was when the priest called me again and asked me to sing some more. I was asked to go inside and I sat there looking at the Goddess and sang to my heart's content. That is one thing mom taught me. I might be singing at 100,000 places but she always told me that it was necessary to sing at the temples. At first it was tough for me to let go of feeling delicate. I would hardly open my mouth and mom would sing throwing me the occasional glare for not obeying. Now, I have almost never left a temple without singing there. And especially in very old temples, the way your voice comes back to you, the sound of it is amazing. Then all of left together and the Director of Photography, Meena Sir, as we call him, (as I am typing this, I realize I have never really gotten to know his full name), had headed the team of 4 to the temple, asked me why not go to Thiruvaanaikaaval. I would have forgotten if not for him. I still had a lot of time. So we headed there and saw Shanti first. Shanti is the Elephant gifted by Sri Shivaji Ganeshan to the temple. Shanti seems to have cataract on her right eye though. We headed inside and after finishing darshan, we headed out, when the gentleman taking care of Shanti called out to us and invited us to his home which was almost inside the temple premises. That was when he told us a lot of things.. Like Shanti is now 52 years old. The mahout told us that, Sri Shivaji would inform in advance that he was visiting and the elephant would be taken to him. As soon as he saw her, the world and everything in it would cease to exist. He would completely devote his time to Shanti.The mahout wakes Shanti at about 5 AM and she is bathed and brushed for about an hour and a half. She is then taken inside the temple. He also said that the elephant is well cared for because the temple takes responsibility. She is fed on time, and well. Private ownership means, according to him, a lot of times the elephant is not fed on time. We would have had almost about 20 minutes with Shanti during which I kept patting her trunk. I loved those moment. If only it were possible, if not for the size and all the other trappings, I would love to have an elephant with me. There is so much of reciprocation of love from the elephant that it can be quite unsettling. But then, this is a personal experience. Ever since I was a child, whenever I have looked for divine help, when things seemed at crossroads, an elephant would materialize from nowhere.
I remember the time just before my 10th Board exams. Probably there will be another time, when I can delineate on this. It was a tough time because my Math was a huge problem. I doubted whether I would pass. And I would die of shame if I did not. That was also the time when my mother's waist-length hair got cut little by little, giving poo-mudi to different temples to such an extent, that she was left with almost a crew-cut, if I may say that. We were highly worried and were returning in an auto after getting my hall ticket. We lived in Thiruvanmiyur at that time. On our way home, an elephant came in our way, came and stood in front of the auto, not allowing it to move. It then pushed its trunk inside and blessed me. All this on the main road. The auto driver of course thought it was the end of the road for him. But We were exhilarated. I passed maths with a border-line 49 marks. Don't know how I managed to pass though.
Apparently at about 11:30 every morning, the priest would dress up as a woman, hold a lotus flower in his hand and go perform the Pooja for the Lord. And Shanti would accompany at that time as well. Aiteeham has it that in this temple, the Goddess performs the Pooja for the Lord Herself. Just a thought here, if a Lady is required to do the Pooja, what is the point in a man dressing up as a woman? How would that count as a Lady performing the Pooja? Anyway, several rules in the society are made by men, and this should have been one of them. To reduce the status of the woman in society. Apparently, in olden days, this was not the case. There were special women chosen to perform the Pooja on the Lord. Anyway this is hearsay. I just log it here.
I loved this trip as a whole. It has shifted and shuffled a few things within me. Metamorphosis is in action. Leading to what is the question.
Also Ucchi Pillaiyaar was one temple which kept avoiding me all this while. On Friday, when I landed there, I made it a point to visit the temple and then most of the Super Singer team followed after a little while. It was a quite a group of 11 which made its way up. We almost made it there when they were about to close. Once up, I loved the way Trichy sprawled all around the temple. And much to my delight, early next morning, the first shot was at Ucchi Pillaiyar. For not having gone there all these years, I went there twice on two consecutive days. I also had the opportunity to immerse my feet and frolic about in the Kaveri. Just a day before the dams were opened. When the Kaveri seemed to flow like a very big stream, but powerful enough to push you through. Also, I noticed that the winds at Trichy were very strong. Aadi winds as they called them. It was a pain while shooting though. And much to my dismay most of the time I had to stand in the direction the wind blew. Which meant hair flying all over my face and sticking to my lipstick and wotnot. Believe me, with warpaint on your face, you definitely don't want fly-in-your-face hair. Or winds that cause it.
I loved the time invested in getting to know my crew members better. There are times when you realize that no matter how long you would have known someone, there is always something else to know about them. There was a lot of laughter. A lot of joy in spite of the frantic, maniac almost inhuman schedules the crew of Vijay TV are working on. As far as I know, none of them have slept or eaten well in several months.
In all, I so totally loved rediscovering the people I know and rediscovering Trichy and I am sure that when I go back there, Trichy will show facets of itself that I had missed this time.
I love being born in this wonderful country.
Mystic, mysterious. The Wonder That Is India.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Headed to Chennai

The auditions at Trichy have been wrapped up. The preliminary auditions at Chennai should be happening on the 28th and 29th of this month. If you are around, meet you there!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

5 days - A gamut of things

We just came back after shoots in Coimbatore for the preliminary auditions. We had a press meet before the event and the Creative Head of Vijay TV happened to mention that there will be auditions in Singapore and Malaysia due to a lot of inquiries and online applications. Apparently a lot many came from the US and UK as well.
We had come down to Coimbatore after attending a traditional Chettinad wedding. I saw one for the first time and it was highly interesting to say the least. Only I was surprised that they did not have any Homam. As soon as the groom and bride came in, the groom just tied the Thaali and placed a diamond thaali around her neck, and some two other pieces of jewellery I presume, could not make out what it was. Apparently the married women of Chettinad only wear their mangalsutra made of diamonds on a daily basis. The traditional thaali tied with the sacred yellow thread is worn only on special occasions. Also noticed that the women wore only diamond jewellery. Hardly saw the any gold, except on outsiders. I asked a lot of questions as usual on this and that. I am usually interested in the hows, why, and whats of every traditional ritual that goes on in any function. It was interesting to know at least the basics of what happens in a Chettinadu wedding. Also they have another special ritual - not connected with weddings though - something called "Pullaiyaar Noambi". I attended one such ritual a couple of years ago. I guess the idea was the men pray to Lord Ganesha before embarking on a journey. (correct me if I am wrong, of course. Reminds me that I have to verify and ask about this one all over again). Celebrated once a year, the most interesting part of the ritual, accoding to me, was when they had a 'vilakku' (lamp) made of some edible flour, lit the wick which was apparently pre-immersed in Ghee and swallowed it, flame and all. My quest of knowing the rituals of various traditions in India continues.
Anyway, coming back, Super Singer auditions will be held this weekend (14th/15th June) in Trichy.
This time, at Coimbatore, I got to know S P Shailaja ji a lot better. Though she has been a part of Super Singer in 2006 and 2007, we decided to go to Marudhamalai on Saturday and she came along with us. All along the way, I realized we had a lot in common. That we read the same kind of books, dreamt in Technicolour, scene by scene and would even direct our dreams in our sleep. As we spoke, she mentioned a book she was reading that I had just finished the same afternoon. She also happened to mention that she has some really rare books, though written in Telugu, which I hope to see someday. She is genteel, sophisticated and has this special elegance in her which is becoming increasingly rare to see. Soft spoken... Telugu, when the right dialect is spoken is one of the most soothing languages to hear. And she reminded me what it was to listen to good Telugu and what a beautiful speaking voice she has! She also has an excellent sense of humour laced with just an iota of irony and sarcasm. All through the drive we laughed so much that it brought tears to our eyes and to say the least, that evening was a delight. This was my first visit to Marudamalai and the place was extremely magical to say the least. I fell in love with mountains and the clouds all over again. The people of Coimbatore are actually blessed to be breathing such clean air day in and day out. Just hope all this industrialization doesn't ruin the pristine beauty that is still maintained there.
And wonder of wonders - I was off internet for the past 6 days! No mails no internet. I am pretty amazed that I could pull through!
Here is a picture that we took at the wedding. I love this one! Quite informal. A lot of us had changed to easier, wearable clothes by the evening.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

And Look Who Is Blogging!!

Our very own, dear, blazing, Blaaze Anna. OK. Anna for me, Blaaze to the rest of the world, Rajesh Raman to those who have known him for a while.
Read his posts (there are only two for now) and saw he does Tarpanam for Amavasya. How soo qoooot. By the way, to those who don't know, apart from the fact that Blaaze anna is the hottest rapper about, he is one heavenuva traditionalist. Yep, that is a new word in my dictionary. Because I don't want to say hell and tradition in the same line. They are quite far apart. Quite.
If you have had enough of my blah and would like to read Blaaze's HERE you go!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Can you retrieve a mobile phone that you lost?

Yes you can. We did, tonight. As we came back home after doing quite some hefty book shopping at Landmark, in all the hullabaloo of hauling the books back from the car, the phone had quietly slipped off our hands and we'd failed to notice it. In drives some other car. They almost ran over the phone, but did not, picked it up and took it back 20 kilometers away from where we live.
We did not know all this, of course. Once in the cosy confines of home, I did some minor documentation on the books bought today and Amma decided to call it a night. And then asked where the phone was. We rang it. No sound from inside the house. I was flippant and said it should be in the car. I would rather bring it in the morning. I leave home for work way before the crack of dawn anyway. She said OK but following a hunch she decided to go down and check the car. All the repeated tring-tring got the Samaritan's attention. He answered the phone, told us he had it with him and where to come. He gave us an address and we drove down. Once there, we called our phone again, it was some animation studio, the gentleman came out and handed it over. He was apparently a visitor to the city and there was an option of collecting the phone tomorrow morning from him. If we had not gotten in touch, he said they were thinking of handing it over to a police station. Thank God they did not. There was no way the phone would have come back. Or at least the chances were slightly farther to remote.
All this happened in about 3 hours.
My daily life is highly peppered with so many instances that I don't really need to look outside for entertainment or thrill in some cases.
Moral of the story: There are good people in this world and if you have read this do someone you know a good turn.
The world is a happy pappy lovely place. And this is when I seem to identify that we need the shades of gray to appreciate the brighter hues.
Life is beautiful and so are the people in this world.
Right now, my wish for you, Dear ___________ (fill in your name) is that you have enough instances and moments that reaffirm your belief in Good in this world. There is this feeling of tranquility in me right now, I wish that upon you as well.
As also abundant joy, smiles that permeate your entire being and boundless love. :)

Monday, June 02, 2008


Chennai Super Kings deserved to win.. !!!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Request from Padmasani

Chinmayi has already made a few clarifications regarding Super singer.
This request comes from me to the contestents, parents and relatives.
I am getting a lot of calls for checking the credentials of their children and train them a little bit for the contest.

I believe that music should be learnt for the sake of music first. The learning has to be done with full commitment and hard work. If this is done, the results like contests, winning, publicity, laurels etc. will follow as an eventuality.
The situation right now is vive versa.

Until the contest is over, we request all of you to leave us be from anymore involvement and commitment more than Chinmayi's anchoring.
Since we may be closely observing the attitude, behavioural patterns and musical abilities of the candidates, after the contest we may consider teaching some if desired mutually.
Right now we wish whole heartedly a good and enjoyable time and success for every single contestant of super singer.
A respectable distance from us other than the 'on the floor interaction with Chinmayi' will be much appreciated.
Contact the production unit for all your needs and right now work it out on the basis of your existing levels of competence.

Our heart felt wishes for a very grand success for all the participants.

For all the aspiring learners, very soon a portal from a very big umbrella is going to help. Its a large scale help and service to the cause from a very noble heart. Look out in the web world for the same :)

This write up is only a request and please don't bother about comments for this particular post.

Thank you