En Veedu Thaai Tamizh Nadu – As I long for home!

Visiting Penang, Malaysia, recently, I was struck by a pang of homesickness, stronger than ever.

Our first evening there was spent visiting three Hindu temples – Waterfall Hill Bala Thandayuthapanai Temple (ThaNNeer Malai Kovil), Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple and Nattukottai Chettiar Sri Muruga Temple. These three temples were quite farther away from the Georgetown City Centre and the calmness and the quietness in the locality lent an added divinity to these temples. Right below the Waterfall Hill Muruga temple, there were organizations like Hindu Mahajana Sangam, a Tamil school and Gandhi Peace Centre which were housed in small buildings. But for the Malay nameplates for these buildings, it wouldn’t have been surprising if someone had forgotten that they were not in Tamil Nadu, but were in a faraway country.

Some of the temples in Penang date back to more than a hundred years and temples like Sri Mariamman temple date back to 1833! Seeing our culture and traditions intact there, I wondered how it would have been back then.

No aeroplanes, no telephones, no WhatsApp to help you constantly stay in touch with your family back home. What made those people leave their home, board ships and migrate to a faraway island which practically didn’t have much back then? How many days did it take for them to reach this place from their home? How many times did they actually visit their home again? It obviously wouldn’t have been as easy as boarding a flight and reaching your home in just 4 hours!

As they were trying to recreate a piece of their home in an unknown place by following their culture and traditions and building temples for worshiping their deities, how did they handle the life here amidst unknown people from different countries and their longing for the life back at home? As the years passed by, did they miss their home more and more or did they learn to seek comfort in their new life and get settled there happily?

As thoughts after thoughts raced through my mind, I eventually realized that my thoughts were no longer about those people who migrated more than a century back, but it was more about only my own thoughts and feelings.

It could be visiting a place like this or it could be something as simple as listening to

en veeDu thaai Tamizh Naadu enre sollaDaa
en naamam Indian enre enrum nillaDaa

You never know when you feel that pang of homesickness triggered within you!

Enchanted by the Teal & Turquoise of the Sea

That phase of life when in your teens you went gaga over not just Hrithik Roshan, but also those turquoise & teal seas and the beautiful island in Kaho Na Pyar Hai! What if you suddenly got to reminisce about that phase while you are cruising on a speedboat at 100 km/hr speed right on those teal and turquoise waters?!

When I first moved to Singapore a decade back, I expected to see some beautiful beaches here, since, if not on an island, where else would you find beaches? But when that island happens to be a developed country and you resided right in the heart of the city and was totally caught up in the everyday routine of life, it didn’t matter whether there were beautiful beaches or not. After all, how many times have I even visited Marina beach all through my life? Anyway, a decade of living on an island had actually made me forget all about those deserted islands and pristine beaches.

When we planned for a trip to Langkawi, Malaysia, island hopping and mangrove tour were, indeed, part of our itinerary, like every other tourist. But, while reading through the itinerary of the package which we had chosen or even while watching a few YouTube videos of the places, I didn’t really notice the colour of the water.

Langkawi happens to be an archipelago which has geoforest parks having the status of UNESCO world heritage site.

Reaching Langkawi on a Friday evening, it was already 7 pm when we reached our hotel and, hence, we couldn’t do much that day apart from walking through some surrounding streets of our hotel and shopping at a supermarket.

The next day, we started our sightseeing with the island-hopping tour. It was some half an hour’s wait at the jetty before we could board the boat. It was an extremely unpleasant wait, though, thankfully in open space, with a strong smell of petrol in the air and no breeze whatsoever blowing.

I was distracted for some time initially, since my son, who was already scared of travelling by boat, had to sit amidst strangers since we boarded the boat last and couldn’t get seats together. I had to keep turning around to check on my daughter and son.

After some minutes, the beautiful landscape dotted with hills and hillocks on the edges of the water started grabbing my attention.
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My Current Playlist

Just thought of writing here what I am listening to nowadays….

A R Rahman’s masterpieces:

    • The classic Veera Raja Veera
    • The fun piece Nana from Couples Retreat
    • The soul-stirring Dichotomy of Fame from Rockstar
    • The playful Kuru Kuru KaNgaLile from, again, Couples Retreat
    • Ponni Nadhi from Ponniyin Selvan – the same Rahman can sound playful in Kuru Kuru KangaLile and pack so much energy in this ode to Ponni Nadhi
    • The haunting, contemplative Latika’s Theme
    • The inspirational ‘Never Give Up’ from Million Dollar Arm

The trailing background music of Kuru Kuru KaNgaLile is as lovely a piece in itself, as the one in the background for ‘Jugni’ from ‘Kaatru Veliyidai’. The vocals, the humming, the chords, the melody – there are multiple layers of awesome music running all through this less than 3 minute song.

Bliss of Navarasa Kannada:

  • Ni Paadamule Gati by Sanjay
  • Vande Sada Padmanabham by Sanjay
  • Naan Oru Vilayattu by Sikkil Gurucharan & Anil Srinivasan (Album – Tarunam)

The first two bring out the joyous shade of Navarsa Kannada, while the last one brings out the other rasa of Navarsa Kannada by being all soulful! 🙂

Finally, Sanjay’s Shri Parvati in the beautiful Shri Raagam is one song that I just can never have enough of! This is such a beautiful composition, replete with some lovely chittaswarams.

What are you listening to? 🙂

Kaatru Veliyidai Revisited

I just couldn’t get myself to watch Kaatru Veliyidai again, because the very thought of watching the abusive nature of Varun (VC) was making me feel really irritated! What madness is it that makes the human mind hold on to someone despite all the abusiveness!

I finally got myself to watch a few scenes some time last year and, before I knew it, I got hooked big time to the magic of ARR & Mani Ratnam. What music and what visuals!

It is one thing to portray the initial happy days of a simple relationship, like in Alaipayuthey and OK Kanmani, where the relationship itself is yet to really begin. But it is quite a task to portray a complex relationship like that of VC and Leela’s, which is synonymous with everything but happiness.
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Kurumugil Song & Gujarat Marvels

In recent times, if there was a movie that I really wanted to watch after seeing all the initial trailers, it had to be Sita Ramam. It’s another fact that I didn’t watch until it got released on Amazon Prime!

Seeing the trailers and promos, all the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Ram apart, there was this one song that had me going back to it again and again, right from the lyric video release. The visuals, the music, the backdrop, the charming Dulquer & Mrunal – it was one of those rare songs that was very captivating, both musically and visually!

The colourful, animated butterflies flying rhythmically to the soft, opening music full of old-world charm (The role that these butterflies play in this movie, especially till the climax! Sigh!), the simple, poetic lyrics, the veena in the interludes and in the ending of many lines all through the song, the sight and sound of kids singing and dancing in chorus (do we even have such beautiful chorus in songs, nowadays?), the happy faces of Sitamahalakshmi and Ram 🙂 and, besides all these, the locations with some stunning architecture! What a beautiful setting the stepwell with all its mini-gopurams made for all the kids to run around along with the hero and the heroine!

It wasn’t until the full video of this song was released, that the magnificence of the location became fully apparent. The place fascinated me so much that Google search and much planning later, we visited the Modhera Sun Temple just to see that beautiful step well! Hearing the legend that Lord Rama and Sita once visited this place, we were wondering if that was the reason why this location was chosen to be featured in the song of our Sita Mahalakshmi and Ram. 🙂

Visiting Rani Ki Vav too along with this place, I realized that the famed stepwell featured in our Rs. 100 note is also featured in this song!

The surprise came in the form of the streets of this place called Sidhpur, which we took a detour to, on a whim, on the way to Rani Ki Vav, while googling for any other places to visit nearby. Google Maps said that there was an architecturally splendid, ruined temple named Rudra Mahalaya temple. As we were travelling on the congested market roads of Sidhpur, to our surprise, my husband spotted the Europe-like streets featured right from the opening sequences of Kurumugil till the end! Wow! We had never heard about the Bohra mansions of Sidhpur. Didn’t these mansions just add on to the old-world charm brought out by the opening music in the song? No wonder camels were a part of those scenes in the song, since that part of Gujarat had its fair share of camels and camel carts!

Since visiting these places, Kurumugil has become even more close to my heart, since it no longer just takes me back to the world of Sita Mahalakshmi and Ram, but also makes me reminisce about my epic heritage trip.

Pink-necked Green Pigeon & Mynah

This tree having red-berries (Carpentaria Palm tree?) often hosts a wide variety of birds – be it the ubiquitous mynah, the tiny sunbird, occasionally a koel and even a bird as colourful as this pink-necked green pigeon!

Here’s a mynah grabbing that red berry and running away 🙂

The Koel

Among the sporadic posts written here in the last decade, the rain trees outside the windows of my home in Singapore have often found a mention and anyone still following this blog will know how much I love just standing and staring at those trees, taking in the greenery, the sight of the birds inhabiting it and the sleeping leaves as the sun starts to set. During silent times like weekday day times, I often have the chirping of birds for company. While orioles and mynahs are regulars, the woodpeckers, parrots and koels are the occasional inhabitants of these trees. A koel seems to have recently made a tree its home and, thus, I have been waking up to the beautiful singing of the koel every morning. A nice way to begin the day, isn’t it?

Unblock the block

I was reading some time back about how to unblock the writer’s block. Reading the point which talked about remembering the intention behind why one started to write had me getting back my inspiration in a flash. After all, I am still as passionate about all the things that I was passionate about back when I started to write and it was to share more about those passions that I started to write.

New Year Resolutions

I had started writing this on January 2nd and had just written down the next two paragraphs when Murphy struck even before I could finish all that I wanted to write and thus, this too ended up as a draft like several other posts lying unpublished! Anyway, now that I thought it’s better to restart again, I am posting this now.

I have never been a person who has successfully stuck to new year resolutions, since I can’t keep up at anything beyond a few weeks. But, new year or not, every time I come back to Singapore from a trip to Madras, I come back with an increased level of motivation and inner energy and thus, end up sticking to some new small daily goals (just another way of saying resolution 🙂 ) for a few weeks. I usually stick to those till the sameness of the everyday routine gets on to me or till the feeling of missing my home that is Madras intensifies.

Anyway, getting back to the title of this post, tapping into the energy I have got from just returning from India, I am planning to take up some resolutions for January and first among them is the daily goal of writing something here, be it two lines or two hundred lines, it doesn’t matter. Wish me luck, folks! Wishing you all a very happy new year and tons of luck in getting all your goals, big and small, accomplished.