Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore – Part 1

Ask me my favourite way of spending a day in Singapore and I will tell you that it’s visiting an NPark (Nature Park). After almost an entire year of restricting ourselves to our immediate neighbourhood, emboldened by the decrease in locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases, we visited quite a few places during the month of December 2020. The most memorable among all the places and which warranted a second visit within a span of a couple of weeks was Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.


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The Window

At 11:30 in the night, I sit on a revolving chair by the window and gaze outside. It has been raining almost the whole day today and the roads are wet.

Yet I see the busy junction of roads is still bustling with activity. I see people in their running outfits waiting for the signal to turn green. ‘Who on earth would run at 11 pm on a rainy night?’, I wonder.
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Madras Day 2020 Musings

Dearest Madras,

Wishing you a very, very happy birthday! It has been more than 7 months since I flew away from you and how much life has changed in between?!

From being just a 4.5 hrs flight journey away from you, I am suddenly a flight journey (and that too to some other neighbouring place) + 14 days quarantine + a scary-looking swab test away from you! What sort of a world has this become with nobody being even a tad bit certain about whether they are carrying the virus or not?!
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ARR’s Thumbi Thullal

This song couldn’t have come at a better time! Right now, when the world in itself is facing uncertain times like no other, here comes a song bringing along with it celebration, joy, dance, longing, love, hope and all that is synonymous with positivity.

Starting off with a soft Charukesi (?), slowly transcending to the soft percussion which doesn’t have any shades whatsoever of the ‘saraveDi’ lyrics, it builds up into one of the most beautiful, soft crescendos ever at ‘madhumaNamO’!

In comes Shreya’s voice, singing some of those lines which seem to have the classic ARR touch, with sitar joining in in the background. I love the way how the words ‘en kaLLachirippin nILam neeye’ are placed with the word ‘nILam’ spaced out so ‘nILam’.

Again ‘saraveDi’ enters unexpectedly and is followed by a very lovely flute interlude.

Shreya sings more of those longing lines.

The percussion, flute, ‘saraveDi’, Shreya’s voice and, now, guess what?! Nadaswaram! And that too the majestic Nattai ‘jagadAnandakArakA’ acting as the crowning glory!

The crescendo of the thavil has the song switching to Nakul Abhyankar’s voice. The place where he goes ‘uyurAvEn’ is so wow!

Then comes this amazing chorus having all the classic touches of ARR.

And when Shreya launches off to ‘thumbi thuLLal’ again, you’ve chorus as the background along with all the thavil, sitar, flute and more! Wow!

The finale has us drowning in the mellifluous sounds of sitar and flute, leaving us asking for more of this addictive music!

The promo visuals for this song are quite appealing and the music and visuals together call for celebration!

There are way too many intricacies, lovely instrumentals, beautiful tunes, foot-tapping beats to be relished in every single second of this song that once you start listening to it, there is no way you are not playing it on an endless repeat mode!

Alaipayuthey 20

Celebrating 20 years of Alaipayuthey with 20 specialties of the movie.

1. Colours

Be it the happy, vibrant colours of Shakti’s salwar kameez or Karthik’s blue shirts or the scenery in Pacchai Nirame or the rich Indian colours during functions in Yaro Yarodi, Alaipayuthey or Mangalyam songs or be it the dark tone when the movie takes on a serious note in the second half. The colours by themselves match the scene in every single frame.

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The Magic of Alaipayuthey – 20 Years Later

This blog of mine has always been synonymous with celebrating all things Alaipayuthey! So, it would be highly unfair if I leave this special occasion of Alaipayuthey turning 20 without at least a passing mention here. But when have I ever been able to stick to just a ‘passing mention’ of Alaipayuthey? 😉 So, here is yet another heartfelt raving about that special movie!

Sometime in the beginning of April during one of those sleepless nights, it struck me that Alaipayuthey was turning 20 this year. Since then, there have been quite a few reminiscences going on in my mind. From thinking of 20 special things to 20 special scenes to recollecting certain write-ups of mine, Alaipayuthey has yet again been giving me quite a few relaxing moments during this much-needed anxious period!

While it would be cliched to say that this movie remains as special to me today as it was 20 long years earlier, it is indeed the case. When I saw earlier in the day that Mani Ratnam was going to be appearing Live on Facebook with Suhasini, I set a reminder and watched it from the start to finish, absolutely hooked to it. And then when Madhavan made an appearance in the show, I can’t tell you how much the Alaipayuthey fan in me was rejoiced! Is there any better way to celebrate Alaipayuthey?!

As Madhavan said the famed ‘Naan onna virumbala’ dialogue in the show, the magic in these words were as fresh today as it was when we first heard it. Madhavan asked Mani Ratnam about why there was such lengthy, filmy dialogue in this, so unlike his usual style. Before I knew it, I was thinking about several of the proposal scenes in all his other films.

When Suhasini showed a mirror with a colourful backdrop, even before she started talking about it, I shouted out loud, ‘Hey this is the Alaipayuthey mirror!’ 😀 She indeed did confirm that this was a mirror which she had bought in Hauz Khas, Delhi and was used in Alaipayuthey. Knowing yet another new trivia about anything and everything related to Alaipayuthey excited me today as much as it did during my teens. 🙂 That mirror in which the thaali is hung 🙂

If watching a mere Live conversation with Mani Ratnam gets me this excited, guess how much the movie still excites me even today!

The Travel Bug

One thing that often feels surreal in my mind nowadays is how much travel I have been doing in the recent times. A little more than a decade ago, there was this craving in me to visit a lot of places. At the peak of my blogging spree, I read about a lot of places in travelogues and travel blogs and very badly wanted to see every one of them.

As I tick off Hampi, Badami, Pattadakkal, Aihole, Mahakoota, Banashankari, Madurai, Rameswaram, Cambodia and Myanmar from the destinations list, all visited within a span of one year, it indeed feels surreal that I have finally visited so many places that I have only been reading about so far!
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The Quest for Calmness

It is one of those rare mornings here in Singapore where it really cloudy and not hazy. Bringing respite from the haze caused by the burning of forests in Indonesia was yesterday’s rain. The cloudy weather still continues.

I am now sitting in one of my favourite neighbourhood parks in Singapore. On a comfortable seat under the shade of a tree with chirping of birds and buzzing of insects for company. I hear the voices of dozens of small children coming from the preschool nearby. The bouncing of Basketball in the Basketball court in the park and the engine of the digger or whatever construction truck it is, are also constant company. Then there are Tamil and Chinese words coming from different directions. As tweets of the birds and the chatter of people continue, I sit in complete silence cherishing this moment of calm that I have got.

From phonics to transitive verbs, o-n-e to minuend and subtrahend, as I traverse from preschool to primary school subjects, this month of September has been one long learning journey so far, the journey not restricted just to studies but also of my own patience levels.

There were two main days when I was at my worst max as I struggled to maintain a calm while trying to make my daughter study for her Tamizh and English exams. For all my claim of being a parent who doesn’t pressurize the child to study, I ended up on that annoying lecture mode of mine as I tried in vain to make my daughter practice some portions. The rest of the exam preparation days went by so well.

Anyway, now is not the time to ponder on the exams, but on the nag that I become every morning as I struggle to get my kids ready for school or many a times when we go out somewhere. Even as I tell myself that I should remain much more calmer, I am just not able to and end up getting worked up so much about even trivial things. I always feel like ‘Jab We Met’ Kareena who fears missing her train and catches her train in the last minute every single time. 😉

The calm had to be tossed aside quite often this month as the children have been at home for most part of the day what with half a day school and holidays and that obviously meant more frequent sibling fights to manage and more tantrums to handle.

Of course, it also meant a lot more relaxing moments with kids as we had a lot more books time, games time and conversation time together.

As I now sit in complete calmness amidst the presence of nature and her sounds, smell and sights and do a retrospection of sorts, I realise that the relaxing moments with the children does outnumber the moments I was a total nag. But that doesn’t mean that my own yelling or lecturing mode can ever be justified.

I wonder if I will ever have an improved level of patience. I wonder if this feeling of inadequacy while dealing with certain moments will ever completely go. That’s when I tell myself that I am just another human being and I really cannot do it ALL all the time. But my quest for inner calmness and improved patience levels will continue and, who knows, maybe someday I might really achieve it.