Sunday, December 14, 2014

Signed poems, a book and a book plate...

I've written about Tyler Knott more than once on my blog... how I came across his poems, how one poem of his evocatively captured all I needed to say after my recent trips, and how the phrasing in his poems is what gets your attention even though you don't necessarily agree with all that he says. So when I read on his instagram account that he would be visiting New York in November (2014) I was behind my sister and brother in law to attend his book signing event at a Barnes & Noble store. I had to plead, and make deals with them to ensure that they would attend the event. They assured me that they would, but every now and then, they would resort to blackmails and threats. If I said something they didn't like or if I pulled their leg, they would be like... 'do you want your poems signed?'
So anyway, after all the trauma they put me through, they finally did go to meet him and they got my poems signed. Here is the man himself, Tyler Knott Gregson signing a few poems and his book... 
And now that they have come home for the holidays... I finally get my signed poems and the signed book and the signed bookplate. I have to frame the poems now, put them up at home. Thanks guys... Nam and Jude, this is a pretty cool Christmas gift... let's do country singers next.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The flight back home...

I started documenting my trip here and inspite of nobody  reading it, I've come to the final post of my 2013 Eurotrip. And there is only one way to describe it, like warm sunshine spilling over my being, shrouding everything in a warm hazy glow. Like Gene Kelley says, 'There's a smile on my face for the whole human race, why it's almost like being in love.' That perfectly sums up my three months roaming with the siblings in Geneva, France and Germany.. You know how a book can take you to faraway places... that's what I've been doing since I fell in love with the written word. Now to finally discover the world beyond books and pictures is nothing short of incredible.  

In a way the special school was like this too, those years are always shrouded in warm hues of sunshine. It was great being with those kids, every day in school was an adventure... I used to wake up thinking what is going to happen today, it was that exciting. I should visit the school and hang out with all those angels, when I go home for the holidays.  

Anyway, getting back to the last day of my trip, I didn't want to leave my brother's place... but that's not the way life works. So you console yourself, get on that flight and then your only worry is reaching your destination in one piece. On the flight from Geneva to Abu Dhabi, I had a headache which was threatening to explode so I asked one of the flight attendants for panadol, and after that I was asleep most of the journey. Then in Abu Dhabi after buying the customary duty free alcohol and chocolates, I boarded the cramped flight to Madras. I was in the middle seat, a guy from Bern was beside me and he turned out to be very entertaining. Just after take off, I started scrolling through the movie list and came across Superman and decided to watch that cause Anju told us that Henry Cavill is one hot guy. And after seeing him, all I could think was wow! he really scorched through his scenes. So anyway, there I am almost ready to fall in love with Henry, when the Swiss guy decides to start talking. And I'm not one to talk with strangers, I mean since we can remember, that has been one of the basic rules stuffed down our ears... don't talk to strangers. So I just listen, smile and nod to what he says... but then the conversations become interesting, and I let down my guard. After that it was quite fun, conversing with a total stranger for four hours nonstop, I didn't even know that we had landed, it was that engaging. This was in November 2013 and it was his first trip to Madras, he was here to watch the chess tournament. He is quite passionate about the game and he predicted that Carlsen would win, though he had a lot of respect for Aaa -nah-ndh (took me a few seconds to figure out that he was talking about Vishwanath Anand). So after establishing the basic stuff about why he was travelling and what I was doing, the food arrived and as usual I put a sign of the cross, said a prayer before meals, in my head, and that's when I heard him laughing and saw him shaking his head. So I was like, what's so funny... and he's like, you praying, and that started us off on another conversation about religion, God and our beliefs. It was so random... it was nice, we spoke about books, literature and how the German spoken in Bern sounds harsh and explosive compared to the soft flowing rhythmic French of  Geneva.

So as it turns out, the journey back was quite nice... even the air hostesses were fun. I traveled by Etihad airlines and before the flight took off, they played the Etihad airline ad about beautiful people. The air hostesses were so chilled out, they were pointing at each other and singing the chorus, laughing and having a great time. All in all, it was a fun trip back... I seem to be meeting angels everywhere I go. 

In case you would like to read the different posts in this Eurotrip series :

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Beer with Jesus and the Entertainment industry...

So this is the November issue of the magazine with a few articles by me. Thomas Rhett's 'Beer with Jesus' has been included here and I wrote something about the entertainment industry which might be a little bit preachy... 

Entertainment is not what it used to be
When you switch on the TV or listen to songs by the biggest names in the music industry, you cannot help but cringe and wonder at the abasement of it all. How did this degradation seep in? When did it become cool to objectify women and let derogatory comments pass off as comedy? Most of the famous shows today have this cool character whose life revolves around drinking and sleeping with different women, perfect examples would be Charlie Harper and the legendary Barney Stinson. These characters are the epitome of being cool and having it all, and they have the best lines on the show. This is the idea that is being propagated to young people who watch these shows, that your life is enjoyable only when you drink all the time and hook up with random women. The TV show, ,Two and a half Men, is disgusting, crass and completely juvenile. Barney Stinson on the other hand, is kinda likeable because of all his crazy ideas and notions that form the lifeline of HIMYM, but his attitude towards women is despicable. These shows can be entertaining to people in their 30’s and 40’s, since their moral values are already in place. They understand that what they observe in these shows is just a parody of the times we live in; they aren’t influenced by the characters. To them it’s just a way to unwind and have some fun. Impressionable young ones on the other hand, tend to think it is cool to be a womaniser and they try to emulate these unscrupulous characters.

And the music industry is a whole different dimension of insanity and debasement. Granted, a few songs do sound nice and they are worth listening to, but a majority of the chart topping songs are sleazy and profanity laced. And the music videos are even worse; they seek to shock rather than entertainment. And the biggest grossing movies are not far behind; they too celebrate crassness and vulgarity, in fact they revel in it. To a Catholic these movies, songs and shows don’t offer much growth or inspiration. They serve to desensitise us and make us think that what these characters do is acceptable in today’s world. I mean we no longer feel that it is a sin to sleep around with random people we just met, because everybody on TV does it. Everything is overtly sexual these days, even the advertisements on TV have only one agenda for their products, to make you more desirable to the opposite gender. I really don’t know what goes on in the minds of children when they see these advertisements, or hear songs with questionable lyrics. The Steubenville rape case is probably a result of such blatant sexualisation of women as propagated in the media. A google search will reveal the arrogance with which a couple of jocks took advantage of an intoxicated 16 year old and captured themselves violating her on their camera phones, and later bragging about it to their friends and sending them the pictures to prove it. Cases like this depict the eroding values of society; friends and classmates watched as the boys committed their crimes, no one thought of helping the girl or calling an adult.

Genuine entertainment should be sought out, movies and music that can enlighten and inspire should be propagated instead of violence and debauchery. Of course, it is good to stay abreast of times but it is not necessary to wallow in the filth that plagues society. Do not let this filth seep into your lives; learn to discern between decent meaningful entertainment and the senseless entertainment that serves no purpose. Inspirational movies, books and music will enhance your inner peace and joy, and serve to strengthen your faith. Search for books with true literary value that will enable you to evolve as a person. Learn to set ground rules for children and teenagers, their exposure to electronic media should be supervised. Starting today, try to seek out decent movies and shows, try to listen to good music with meaningful lyrics. Propagate love and peace through your actions and words and don’t be easily influenced by media and society.

Monday, November 10, 2014

DIY : Autumn in a frame...

So Autumn was just starting when I was in Geneva last year and all the colours of fall were pretty fascinating. I would pick up lovely autumn coloured leaves and preserve them in a book while I explored so many beautiful places with my sister. She would scan the ground too, to find leaves that declared the poetry of the season. And if my brother was with us, he'd stand at a distance away, pretending that he was in no way related to us sisters who were running around collecting leaves. 
This is what I made for my brother, framed autumn leaves. It's pretty easy too, collect pretty autumn leaves and preserve them in a book. Make sure you preserve them properly with no folded edges, just place the leaf gently between the pages of a book and let it remain there for a few days. Gently stick the leaves to a chart paper; I used a black chart paper here. Then use a transparent nailpolish to gently brush all over the leaf to give it a glossy look. Write a few lines (or not), and get it framed. 
Made this one for mom... 
And this I made for my sister... the glass cracked while transporting it. 
And here lies a remnant of my trips, beautifully preserved between the pages of one of the greatest books ever written, by one of my favourite authors.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Plainpalais Flea Market...

The Plainpalais flea market in Geneva takes place every Saturday and Wednesday, at the Plainpalais grounds. I visited it last year during the last week of October...
Saw so many records on display... 
Pretty vases and bowls...
Small pouches made with Indian fabric... 
Art to hang on walls... 
I especially liked this one of the boat...
How cute is this dish... three little kids as the stand. 
Another pretty dish... with three Victorian women on either side.
A really large mirror... and me, I look like a walking advertisement for Anokhi (both the kurta and the scarf are from Anokhi). It was starting to get cold towards the end of October... 
Pretty blue vase... 
African masks... 
Textile from the exotic land of India...

It was fun, just walking around and seeing everything... there's a farmers market that takes place at Plainpalais every Sunday too. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

The food we ate in Geneva...

So I've grown used to taking pictures of anything and everything... before it was mainly for my blog, but now I do it for Instagram. I've even started attending functions where I have to socialise with 'elders' (not something I'm fond of .. I prefer hanging out with my crowd of people), mainly because I get to instagram the event. Anyway, these are pictures of the food I cooked at home in Geneva and other dishes we ate in restaurants.
My mother used to make puff pastries often when we were kids, they are unbelievably easy to make and quite tasty too. I made quite a few of them at my brother's place. Here the puff pastry dough is rolled out onto a baking sheet... 
And lined with ham... 
Then some sauteed onions and capsicums... 
Added slices of cheese... 
Braided the dough then applied an egg wash.
And here it is, the ham and capsicum puff pastry... 
Made this pasta for us, the smaller one is for my brother cause he likes his pasta al dente, whereas me and Nam like it to be completely cooked. 
Salmon, apparently, is the preferred fish of choice there, and my sister cooked this... while I made the mashed potatoes with broccoli and those sauteed peas and corn. The mashed potatoes with broccoli were pretty good, but I got a lecture from Vinod about that... I don't think he likes broccoli. 
After visiting Gruyères, we had some Gruyère cheese lying around in the fridge, so I decided to make a French onion soup, which is pretty easy. You saute thinly sliced onions in olive oil and pour in some water and cook it on a low flame for half an hour or so. Then you pour in some red wine and let it cook some more, then add in pepper and salt. 
A french baguette, sliced up... 
Line them over the soup in a baking dish...
Scrape the Gruyère cheese over this and stick it in an oven till the cheese melts and starts bubbling... 
Here it is, all ready to be eaten... this is seriously good.
I used to make these puffs for my brother to take to work... this is a chicken puff. 
Braided and egg washed... 
Just out of the oven... a warm golden colour. 
These are some pork ribs, you get in the frozen section of the supermarket... you just stick it in an oven and drizzle some olive oil all over it. I chopped up some onions, capsicum and potatoes to bake along with this... this was amazingly good. 
This is the rotisserie chicken.... bought it and baked it again with some potatoes and salami.  
So after our trip to Lourdes, a couple of friends invited us over for raclette dinner, and we had a great time at their place. This is a raclette machine, where the raclette cheese is melted in those spoon like handles. And on top, vegetables like potatoes, capsicum, mushrooms, onions and other stuff are heated. The cheese has to melt and it is scraped onto the vegetables and eaten... it was really really really good. 
This is some fish my brother ate a restaurant... 
A plate of prawns... 
Some salad I had... 
Pizza's here have this really thin crust... and they taste awesome. This is a ham and egg, pizza...  
Desserts with Nam at Manor...
A salami pizza... 
This is a garlic spaghetti dish from La Trattoria restaurant that my sister loved... she tries to recreate it at home every now and then. 
Some pasta dish... 
This was some deadly dessert we had at La Trattoria restaurant in Geneva.
A seafood paella dish... 
These are the different flavoured Meringues we bought from Gruyères...
And these are the cans of double cream... you dip the meringues in the double cream and eat it. Whoa, these are ridiculously calorie laden... but you live only once so you try everything. 
And the slab of Gruyère cheese that was used in the French onion soup...