Archive for August, 2007

Wishing everyone a Happy Onam

August 27, 2007

I would like to wish every one of my MaLayAlam friends a happy and prosperous ONam festival.

GuruvAyoor ViLakku with PookOlam

That is what we refer to as a ” guruvAyoor viLakku”…made in the typical Kerala style (it generally has no “muhappu” or tip ornament))

It is surrounded by the typical ornamentation of ONam..pookkOlam, or kOlam with flowers.

And here’s wishing that peace and plenty be your lot, especially plenty of good food!

Anna Sadhya Kochi

That is the Anna Sadhya (the feast) on the banana leaf.

From right to left, at the top of the leaf (er, someone correct me if I am wrong):

pacchadi, koottu, erishEri, thOran,aviyal, kALan, and pappadAm (that’s the lovely part of the meal, crunching the crisp pappadAm into the rice!)

On the second tier, paruppu; chOru (parboiled rice) with sAmbAr poured into it, to be mixed; and a vAzhai pazham (banana)

On the bottom half of the leaf (south of the “equator” and to the left) …three varieties of pickle — elimicham pazham (lemon), nArthangai (lime) and puLi inji (tamarand-and-ginger).

The glass contains shukku veLLam, warm water that’s been boiled with a little dry ginger, which is excellent for the throat.

The sAmbAr-and-rice will be followed by rasam-and-rice, then the pAyasam (sweet porridge, YUMMMMM) will be served (it’s quite literally finger-licking good, as we lick it up with our fingers!) and the mOr (buttermilk)-and-rice to end the meal.

Slurp. Burp. Zzzz!

Wish you all the very best.

Through this door we must all go…

August 27, 2007

At the Taj Malabar Hotel in Kochi (earlier Cochin) in Kerala, KM and I didn’t feel like using the lift all the time and so took the service stairs to go down, but were met with this rather disturbing (well, at least thought-provoking) sign before we went out into the lobby:

final exit door 260807 Kochi Taj Malabar service staircase

Each of us, I suppose, comes to the Final Exit Door one day….

I am glad to say we seem to have made it through this door, and are still here…does that make us immortal?

Serah and Ashwin were the couple for whose marriage we came here…

Lovely day….

August 25, 2007

Amazingly pleasant weather in Chennai, the company of family at friends for lunch and dinner…we celebrated my brother’s 50th birthday…

Is a birthday something to be celebrated or not? KM and I have opposing views on this. *I* think that it is as good an occasion as any to celebrate the fact that one is alive, in good health, and happy…he says that any day is fine,there is no need to celebrate just on birthdays…”Aren’t you against World Niece’s Husband’s Day and other stuff like that?” he counters.

Some people like to mark birthdays, it is a rite of passage..other people like to let time, like a river, flow past without specific milestones.

But getting together with family IS nice…

Off to Cochin tomorrow, looking forward to being in Kerala during the monsoon….

What did I post on this day last year?

August 24, 2007

02:14 pm: this one is for udhay – 1 comment
06:27 pm: check out sanathreddy – 1 comment
10:57 pm: Show and Tell at the Business School, University of Southern Maine…and about sambandhis – 7 comments

I started the name as a joke…

August 24, 2007

I chose the name de Ponti as it’s a way of pronouncing what my daughter’s friends used to call me; but just now I was looking for a post and I googled

deponti august 2006

and this is the first entry I got:

August 2006
8/19 – 8/19/2006, Forest Lake, MN, 5th Annual Forest Lake Fly-in,Daniel A. DePonti Memorial Airport Contact Information: John Schmidt 651 776 1717 Email … – 70k – Cached – Similar pages – Note this

Good to know that I can say I have an airport named after me..only trouble is, I am dead!

Our City Officials meet Concerned Citizens…

August 24, 2007

Here’s my post about what, hopefully, will be the beginning of a more open attitude by Brihat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, on Metroblogs:

Please note how the Ashoka trees in the courtyard have been trimmed down…doesn’t augur too well for the trees of Bengaluru, but let’s keep hoping!

I saw a good play; those who live in Blr can do so, too…

August 23, 2007

The majesty of the lion…

August 23, 2007

I felt I must post this!

Incredible that such a lazy, idle animal should LOOK so majestic!

The very little that I got to know about Tanzanian cuisine

August 23, 2007

Well, having posted all that, I decided that though I never got a chance to eat in a Tanzanian home, I must set down the little that I learnt about food in Tanzania.

I might be mistaken, so do correct me if you have more accurate knowledge.

Apparently the staple food is maize/corn, and from maize/corn flour they make a kind of sticky pasty preparation called Ugali. This is just the flour, cooked in water with salt.

They also have a stew to go with it which is called Achali.

Apart from this, I was told about two dishes by the chef at one of the hotels:

“Kuku was Kupaka”, which is stewed chicken simmered in coconut, and served with Ugaii and Achali


“Nyama ya Kukaanga” whihc is marinated beef flakes, again served with Ugali and Achali.

I was rather surprised when Huruma told me that tamarind is not used in the local cuisine, or the vegetable “drumstick” (moringa), as both trees grow plentifully in the region.

That’s the trouble with staying in get the generic touristy food…

But I suppose, if the Masai’s favourite drink is milk mixed with blood, one would be better off with mineral water!

thaths….you say you know the region well…can you let me know something more about the cuisine?

Volunteering and Guilt

August 23, 2007

I have been mulling over this whole concept of volunteering to do something, especially for a social cause. Every person has a regular life, and beyond that, sometimes volunteers time, or money, or effort, or all three, to something which is of deep interest.

Most social organizations are strapped for funds and they benefit from voluntary work; it is a win-win situation both ways.

Having said that, I find some drawbacks to the situation.

Volunteering, by its very nature,cannot equal the deep commitment that one gives to the primary job, and so the core group of the social organization has to contend with a contribution that can be very erratic in both quality and quantity. Added to that is the difficulty that some people do voluntary work as nominally as possible and try to garner publicity that way! The regular people, who take care of the slog work, are forgotten, and the celebrity who comes to spend one day at the organization gets the limelight. Even the non-celebrity volunteers sometimes feel that their efforts are not appreciated equally.

And then there is this whole process of “guilt-tripping” everyone to be a contributor or a volunteer. Look at the ads of any social organization. Far more than positive messages are the negative ones that lay the guilt on with spades. “Turn this page and you are committing this child to a life of penury”, it says…and you have to turn the page, but you feel sad and guilty while doing so.

Then there is the guilt-tripping about participating in social initiatives. “We had a protest against xyz,” an email recently said. “Where were you? It is so easy for you to sit at home saying how good our cause is.” I found that SO negative. I may not be able to join in the protest for various, very valid reasons. During one protest that took place on two Saturdays…the first time I was out of town, the second time, my neighbour’s father died and I was in the hospital. Why must people assume that your reasons for not participating must be somehow ignoble? Why not give someone the benefit of the doubt?

I do agree that it is very difficult to get people to participate in such activities, but surely there should be a better way of getting them to do so rather than piling guilt and shame on their heads. And the irony is that the only ones who will feel the guilt is the ones who do want to volunteer; the others will quite blithely “turn the page”.

And I feel another thing which core workers for one social initiative forget, is that the average individual has many facets and gets approached for many different activities. And yes, a good-hearted person whose social conscience is active, would like to contribute to many things.

Just in the past few days, for example, I met someone who is working to integrate puppetry as a form of communication; someone who is helping tribals who are being expelled from their ancestral land; got an appeal for volunteers for blind students preparing for their exams and also from people who are trying to bring theatre into schools; talked to someone who runs a centre for autistic children, spoke to people who are worried about the environment in my city, tried to do something about documenting the threat to wildlife; chatted with someone about the hardships faced by women prisoners in our jails, and read about people who try and make slum children’s lives better.

All these causes are equally worthy; and I would like to contribute not just to one of these…but there is only so much time available to me. And I must live my own life too…and I have a right to NOT do volunteer work if I don’t want to. People tend to forget that voluntary work IS at the person’s time and convenience, and often pull a face when the volunteer says, sorry, I can’t make it tomorrow. When I cannot make it for a protest, I am made to feel extremely guilty about having a life apart from the protest. This sometimes has the unfortunate effect of alienating the volunteer from the cause altogether. Volunteering cannot be the same as a full-time job for the cause.

And what I also find irritating is that if I donate money, sometimes, instead of thanks, all I get is “it’s so easy to give money but there is nobody to do the actual work.” And if I donate my time and effort, I am also expected to donate money as well. Every time I spend time on a project, I am asked to buy things I will never use, and am ridden with guilt if I don’t.

It is also difficult if the volunteer’s strengths are not utilized; a disorganized voluntary effort is really a waste. I recently went to help with some rescued birds; I have handled birds, and wanted to help with dosing them and treating them. But what I was doing was… nailing mesh to cage frames, which I certainly cannot do well at all.

But having volunteered, I do realize just how tough some of these social initiatives are, and really can’t blame the people involved with them for using all the methods they can, to get people to come in and help! So I guess it is six of the one and half a dozen of the other…it is I who must choose how and what I will volunteer…and prevent myself from being loaded with guilt about the rest.