Things to do in Cuddalore (Visually)

My routines on Sunday is always juggling between being a clean freak or getting way too lazy there is no in-between. So when I signed up for a cuddalore trip I thought it’s just one Sunday being productive. And I use the word productive because we had to be on the bus by 4.30 AM.

I could hardly fall asleep because of the mundane thoughts in my head about why had chosen this over my extended hours of sleep or endless day of doing nothing. Sure, being home is awesome laze around in PJ’s read a book, watch a movie but I had chosen to spend this day productively with a lot of work the following day.

Once I was on the bus everything was alright, I had carried two books an MP3 player and with that, my entertainment was sorted. Once we were around ECR we stopped at a restaurant only to savor soft idly’s, crispy vadas and dosas with a dollop of ghee.

After a heavy breakfast, the bus moved through narrow lanes, no buildings in sight and pastures of greenery and after a few hours I couldn’t keep my eyes off the road. We had entered Cuddalore and the only time I heard about Cuddalore was when I was in school about how it was affected by the aftermath of Tsunami.

Green pastures, endless skies, and breathtaking views. The farmers were out early plowing their fields, we passed a canopy of trees and views and finally to halt at a main road in the Chidambaram town.  The roads were filled with hawkers selling incense sticks, flowers, and earthen lanterns. With the whiff of the incense sticks and the voices from a blaring speaker that were perhaps chanting a mantra, we had Chidambaram Temple first on our list of things.

THE CHIDAMBARAM TEMPLE 

Nataraja or Chidambaram Temple was built in the 10th century, dedicated to Shiva, as the lord of Dance. The entire temple symbolizes the theme of arts, dance and the connection with spirituality. Intricate work pours out throughout the temple from the stone carved pillars to the endless paintings done with natural dyes on the ceilings. I was told that this was the only temple where the deity Shiva is also seen as Nataraja.

After the gaping visit to the temple, we walked further to sample the paneer soda, which had the subtle aroma and the sweet taste while others sipped on their filter coffee.

BOATING AT PICHAVARAM

The next stop was at Pichavaram, which is the worlds 2nd largest mangrove forests. The trees are deeply rooted in a few feet of water and there are more than 400 routes available for boating. You could easily spot birds if you go early morning via a boat. We hopped on to a boat leading us into very narrow water lanes where most of us either had to bend in our seats because of the branches, while the sun played hide and seek. This boating ride was a lot of fun and a quiet time with nature.

Rock Beach, Pudhucherry 

We were a bit tired but not so much so we ended up also visiting  the rock beach at Pondycherry, we spent quite a while at the seashore at around 3pm and then decided to head back home and also keep a lookout for restaurants serving north Indian meals at around 5pm which was again impossible and that’s a story for a different day. But overall not only did I have fun, I also got a good dose of architechture and nature all combined in a power-packed Sunday.

 

 

 

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Musings from a Kitchen Counter

So I read a book last night. I slept through peacefully and when the gentle rays of the sunshine poured into the room through the clean white sheets and onto my face. I wanted to get up, but my mind was playing on.

“More sleep, I just need a few minutes under the covers,” while my head was having a tantrum by itself “Aren’t we old enough now to literally wake up and start adulting?”

Between the covers and in my head, the fight was on between a few extra minutes of sleep and waking up to cook scrumptious lunch

Eventually, I threw the covers, stepped into my mom’s shoes and headed straight towards the kitchen. My eyes were bloodshot because of the extended social media scrolling, that either by habit or choice I got accustomed to.

I turned on the burner, splatted oil onto the pan and then went in garlic, onions, chilies and that smell that wafted the air was heavenly. I was preparing a special sauce for my soya and on the other end I was washing, cutting, microwaving the veggies and preparing a scrumptious lunch that I had pledged to cook in the morning.

My mind was wavering, I was obviously off my WIFI and for good reasons. My music playlist was blaring from my phone and I was actually busy in the humdrum of the kitchen. I literally had no clue how time passed or how I managed and not just managed won multitasking in the morning.  My mom is an expert at it, while I’m barely scratching the surface when it comes to fabulous cooking.

I realized one thing with this, if I wouldn’t have made the choice to cook I wouldn’t have achieved anything. I would have slept a little longer may be with my thoughts a buzz. Also, since the Wifi was off, no attention went there, I peacefully did all my tasks and only while having my favorite cheese omelet I gladly turned it on. The online world wasn’t missing me anyway.

To the Oddball

Among the cheesiest compliments, pout-a-licious selfies, embellished sarees draped perfectly along with matching jewelry, best-dressed community, who prod at themselves, and then there is me in a corner.

I feel like somehow I’ve surpassed the selfies, have no interest in dressing extravagantly for any occasion and mostly aloof, lost in my buzz of thoughts far away,  can easily claim to be the oddball of the family.

Social gatherings tire me, forget the urge to shop, just getting into a shopping mall is an anxiety filled ride by itself. Is there a feeling? Am I the only one?

After all, I’ve seen, sometimes, things really get to me. It’s an easy to pass off phase but then suddenly that feeling that maybe because I’m not good enough, people don’t hang with me becomes a huge deal, the feeling becomes overwhelming like it is today.

It seems a bit weird because it’s really been a while I’ve been feeling this way. Utterly non-existent entity, I can classify it into. More like if I were dead or alive it wouldn’t matter, anyway it frankly doesn’t because the world moves with or without you.

Sometimes, its really good until the world caves in, the problem looks a wee bit bigger than the solution and the only way out of this labyrinth is to totally avoid it

We’re the lonesomes, the one that ends up going alone to concerts, we don’t hesitate to eat solo, we’re those that feel absolutely lonely in a room full of crowd. We’re those who can be introverted extroverts at times. There are moments where we feel invisible and there are moments we smirk, pout and move along.

 

 

 

Does your best friend become subtle in the plot of your life ?

“The truth is, some relationships are supposed to last forever, and some are only supposed to last a few days. That’s the way life is.”
― Sophie Kinsella

A chick-lit book that I read first, I could easily dot the changes from one series to the other in terms of relationships. The phase of friendship kept changing and slowly had me wondering  Does this really happen? Does your best friend become a subtle character in the plot of your life?

From strangers, acquaintance to friends, best friends, and the character ever so slowly has a disappearing trait.

No one can actually remain the same, so then why do we expect it to? Why do we long a memory from school holding a mango icecream stick with a close friend on a humid afternoon or the time when everything was laughed at and being silly was a huge thing.

Why do we still linger on memories? Are they keeping the ghosts alive or they’re merely the tonic we live on?

When I first experienced it over a book, I wanted to write back to the author about the change in phases of the relationship between two close friends but I could easily relate to it as I grew up.

Either priorities shuffled or they found new friends with similar tastes leaving you feeling that you’ve stepped into an unknown territory. Experiences became so strange that what was once suitable to your palette became hard to even chew on.

At the end of the day, there will be phases you’ll feel utterly lost or find nothing in common after years, but that’s how life progresses doesn’t it?

Why is fidgeting good & my take on the fidget spinner

New toy on the block has everybody obsessing over the fact that it would help people calm their anxiety and ease them up mentally. Is that statement true? We’ll figure that out.

How many times have you worked a normal day without fidgeting, well I for sure can’t. I keep fidgeting with the cap of a gel pen or flipping the bottles

When things got boring and we really needed our brain to concentrate on bringing new juices to the table, we started fidgeting either with pencils, pens or even had the shaky leg syndrome.

What science does has to do with fidgeting?

A study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that shifting, shaking and moving on your seat may help reduce the connection between sitting and mortality. Long periods of sitting each day, a mainstay of office life, are associated with several adverse health effects, including earlier death.

Why are Fidget toys, making news?

Fidget toys initially started with the invention of the fidget cube with sensory buttons that could help people with anxiety focus better with its switches and movements with its clicks. Next came the wave of fidget spinners, small ball bearing device that one can rotate with the fingers. Now both of these were targeted at people with ADHD or Anxiety issues, but their claims were a bit overblown.

My Take on the Fidget spinner

Years Ago there was a spinner, it was Beyblade as I clearly recall it. Having that prestigious toy with its sharp edges meant to battle it out with another Beyblade partner. I remember my baby brother having it and having those tournaments to see which one gets the winning title until it obviously passed and then came the era of fidget spinners.

A friend had ordered this toy online and on a Saturday afternoon, while I was typing away, I got my hands on this miniature. Initially, it felt right and then I questioned if it was actually intended to help people focus and assist people with anxiety. This is a simple toy that once you obtain your hands on you wouldn’t want it to end. Throw in some fancy colors, lights or add a Bluetooth device to it and it becomes all the rage.

Ever since I  got my hands on it, I’ve become addicted to it which was killing my productive time. I was on it for almost about three hours. Even though it’s satisfying with its uber cool sensory moves, I highly doubt about the focus bit.

When you’re bored and are having one those creativity blocks you could give this a try, especially at that boring desk space this toy can act like a paperweight and help you think out of the box in your free time.

 

A whiff of therapy

They held secrets known to many bygones of the ancient era. The Egyptians began processing the lotus flower blooming across the Nile river, preserving the essence of the oil in alabaster, a material known to seal and preserve.

Alabaster, a material made of precious stone found in Israel textured like the marble but delicate and known to seal fragrances, an expensive piece of a kind known for its symbolism in the Bible & Quran.

This Jar till date hold tales, secrets and aroma of the ancient era, these jars are still existing in the by lanes of the Egypt market sometimes holding ecstatic scents.

The Egyptians knew how to mix their cosmetics with it, oils were brought applied into their cosmetic uses, fragrance of remote origins, flowers, stem, roots, barks and the essence all preserved in a air locked jar.

Enter into a holy shrine filled with tea lights burning dimly and you’ll notice the light smell of incense wafting the air, a tradition which was passed on symbolizing that the prayers would reach the divine with the aroma. With good odor comes purity and the feeling of holy.

The discovery that led to the boom of aroma was that an explosion in the factory helped Rene Maurice, a French chemist discovers the healing properties of lavender as he applied it to a burn on his hand, and then this lead to more research on how these bottled essential oils could be used to treat burns, skin infections and wounds for soldiers during World War 1 and by 1950’s this aromatherapy was used by many.

When I was at school, I hopped to a store with mum and glanced on the oil section, I would inhale some or look dotingly at the back cover of the packaged produce. There were many kinds essential oils, aroma oils and mood oils. I did not pick lavender on the first go, I wanted to take a whiff of what I was going to buy and use, hence from thereon my experiments with aroma began, if I’ve ever felt like I needed to let things just happen and let it go I would use this either as a bath oil or a few drops in my scarf would do the trick.

Fragrances are a personal affair if you ask me. What might please you may not please the next person so it’s important to judge buying either on a sample or you could look at the ailments you are wanting to treat like say insomnia or so.

There are days when you want to bask in your space, light a tea candle in the yellow colored diffuser and listen to some classical music, that’s what I do when I need my quiet time to reflect and let things go.

Ever applied a particular perfume and it became your favorite, if a fragrance makes you feel great, well, that’s aroma working for you, however, this is only bordered to clothes when its perfumes and the same principle is applied to all your fragrant soaps, toothpaste etc.

The cue for buying oils is in the frequent products you use, if you like the mint smell of the soap then you could try peppermint. If your mood is down you have a couple of oils that can be mood enhancers keep your senses open and you’ll find your right kind.

Whimsical tales of the past

Whenever I see kids on a summer vacation, it fondly helps me drown in mine. That feeling of having an entire month to myself, either to dip my fingers into different shades of paint or get those flavored ice lollies in the blistering heat at my grandmothers place.

The part which leads to travelling all the way to Mumbai to meet my grand-mum meant carrying a bag worth of music (cassettes) to go with my Walkman and extra batteries, it was a delight to carry new music which was picked from an actual music store. A book or two, a bag of munchies along with a cooler filled with cold water.

Watching the mornings drift into the noon and spill into beautiful evenings, the lush greenery, the cows at the farm or simply watching the moving scenes from the window with my eyes glued outside. The games were brought from the vendor in the train to pass that long journey which included buying all in one game set, which included snakes and ladders, ludo and chess. This also meant making new friends in the same compartment while the dice rolled. The long stops at which the train hauled meant sampling different food from a different state and oily fingers with street food. It was a different story to tell by itself

The journey was a agog with experiences and arriving onto my final destination meant a lot more fun, new friends, playing new games. The time when cousins would gang up and have delicious mangoes together, it felt like we were having our own mini summer party.

Playing by the tank, which had a fortress like set up where your gang could gather to play yet another interesting game or setting that very own summer tents within the house, where we spoke for hours about the most mundane things that hardly come to my mind now. The stationery shopping that seemed to always make me grin the smell of new books, new pencils and erasers with that distinct sweet smell.

The favorite ice-cream shop my mum used to take me to savor  litchi ice cream, it was a perfect summer treat and the strolls filled with hawkers and the most interesting things one could find. The wind playing with my hair in the evenings by the beach or the colors that you’d get to choose to have on a crushed iced filled with sugar syrup.

And as I’ve grown through the years the realities have changed, so have the cousins that I grew up with. The shops have changed, the summers, they don’t look the same but those little streets filled with books and the smell of parched paper makes my heart flutter with joy. I don’t expect, I let life give me surprises and in most profound ways when you take a stroll and accidentally bump into hawkers selling second hand book or stationery or a scoop of that tender coconut that makes you happy on a dull day makes up for it.