Eventful Weekend

My last weekend started very well. On Friday evening I was watching some music videos on YouTube, I went back to 80s and 90s with Music.

I started my Saturday with around 8 kilometres running around my beautiful community. I was running very slowly and took less than a hour to complete the running. My wife and me decided let’s go out for lunch for a change. It was more than five months since we stepped out for lunch or dinner and Saturday was the day. We are vegetarians and we booked the table at Satvam forgetting the Covid-19 days. I had one of the most comfortable drive from my home to Satvam. There was relatively lesser traffic from the time I left home. The State Transport Buses are off the roads and it was a pleasant drive around The Silk Board before hitting The Forum, Kormangala. The iconic Koshy’s remain to be closed. We were at the popular Satvam for lunch hoping we get to taste some nice food. We were bored of my cooking for the last five months. We had a below average experience at Satvam. The soup, starters and main course were unusually below average. Satvam is known for quality vegetarian buffet, it was unusual of Satvam for this average quality food. There could be two reasons for this, they are not used to serving food on table and maybe their chef/ cooks returned to their hometown during lock down. Maybe, my wife and myself started liking my recipe better. I was at home after lunch to watch a nice Malayalam Movie, Snehaveedu. One more nice Malayalam Movie that I enjoyed watching.

On Sunday I got up early and I started the day with my running. I was running at my usual pace and I completed more than 10 kilometres in less than a hour. I was thinking I now learnt the trick to run with the mask. After having my breakfast I was in the kitchen to cook our lunch. I was listening to some nice music post lunch which is when I get a message in my block WhatsApp group that my neighbor’s family is infected with Covid-19. The evening started with a shock. As per the government guideline our floor will be sealed for 14 days. After a hour my mom calls me to say Tamilnadu Government has relaxed E-pass and Travel guideline. This was a surprise and I was thinking it was our fate. I haven’t seen my Parents for around five months now, I haven’t spent much time with my little princess in Bangalore for a while. The plan is my brother is driving them from Chennai to Bangalore coming weekend, I was thinking I will spend the coming weekend with them. The only reason that I didn’t travel to Chennai last 5 months is, we need to put different address in E-pass for myself and my wife since she has to spend time with her mom. When our floor is sealed for 2 weeks which came as a shock, we see a surprise of E-pass relaxation, this is what I call fate. What is real is, I need to wait for two more weeks to see my parents and spend some nice time with with them and my little princess.

Around five months back we started reading about Covid-19. We then started reading and watching about Covid-19 in our neighborhood. The lock down crossed few weeks and then we started reading more about Covid-19 and slowly the numbers started raising in main cities. It is now more than five months and I now see Covid-19 in my neighbor’s family. I have already lost a neighbor, my close relative and my Mom’s friend due to Covid-19, I was not able to pay their condolences in person. The numbers are around 80K per day in India and am now worried. Am not worried about self, am worried about the kids and their parents. I keep praying for them and I only hope we will either have the vaccine soon or a miracle will happen that Covid-19 will leave this World.

Today, I started my day walking around 7,000 steps from room to room. By evening I completed the 12,000 steps target. I was in the kitchen to cook lunch and dinner as I like cooking, my wife was taking care of chores. My office work started around 8am and I now take a break, have one more meeting shortly. I only hope and pray life will return to normal shortly. What an eventful weekend, Let’s hope for the Best. Be Safe and Take Care.

To Stay Healthy, RUN

For more than two or three decades my day always starts with running or walking. The last eight or nine years I also practice yoga. I was born in Chennai where we have the Beautiful Marina Beach. This is where I started my running, those days it used to be running four or five kilometres. It used to be a routine in my life, getting up at 4.30 in the morning, taking my bike to Marina, running for around thirty minutes and sitting in the Beach watching the waves. When I started going here, Marina was Beautiful and it was fun watching people running or walking. When I was getting busier with work, I started going to one of the nearby park and started walking during the weekdays and at times during the weekends I will be at Marina.

Image Courtesy: goibibo.com

After I moved to Bangalore, whenever I saw people running in my community, I wanted to run but never started, I continued with walking. Around five years back I did a business travel to Milan for two months. The day after I landed at Milan, I went to a park for my morning walk. I started realizing I was the only one in the Park to walk, others were running. This was the moment where I felt I must start running again. I started running gradually and when I was leaving Milan I used to run seven kilometres at a good pace. When I returned to Bangalore I continued with my running, today am so addicted to running that I can’t miss it even a day.

Around two years back during the annual shut down I was at Chennai to spend time with my parents. I normally go to Marina for running, one of the days I got up late and went for running to a nearby park. The park was small and I started running on the outside road. When I was running I didn’t notice a rope that was lying down, it went in between my legs and I fell down. This is the freakiest fall I ever had, I have already had couple of fractures before. This time the fall was very bad resulting in a serious fracture and dislocated left elbow. I straight went to the orthopedic doctor I know, he is one the best and a very popular doctor, he immediately did a surgery to fix my elbow by placing a plate and multiple screws, for the first time I felt physical pain. As part of recovery, I have to do very painful physio every day. I was told by my doctor and as per google my hand won’t be straight if I don’t do the physio regularly. I used to do physio for around two hours a day with pain and thankfully my hand returned to normal position in around six months, straight as before. Even when I was at Hospital I used to go for morning walk.

My Elbow three day after Surgery

After recovery I returned to Bangalore and I continued with my walking. When I saw people running not looking down or running with their mobile talking, I started thinking they might fall down. They were running normal, but I started having this fear. One day I thought the best way to overcome this fear is to start running. After I started doing my favorite running the fear went off. Nowadays I run very carefully, enjoy the run and I don’t look at my watch to worry about the speed. Before the lock down, I used to run in my community during the weekdays and I go to the Beautiful Agara Lake during the weekend to run around fifteen kilometres. Am waiting for this pandemic to leave so that I can go back to my usual routine. I find it difficult to wear a mask and run, so these days I do a combination of running and walking.

I love running so much that I can’t miss it even a day. Even when am on business travel to International Location I won’t miss running. Running helps me to stay fit and keeps my mind calm and relaxed. Am not a professional runner, but I want to share some tips to help my friends to run, this will help you to stay fit and healthy. a) Start running tomorrow b) Easiest way to start running is to run behind a runner c) It is only the first few hundred metres it will be difficult to run, if you continue running, you will keep running. d) Take breaks whenever you want to while running e) It is easy to run straight rather than in circles f) Breath through both the mouth and the nose to keep your breathing steady g) Dont use your mobile phone while running h) Concentrate while running i) Keep looking down to avoid any freak accident j) If there is a running group join them to run more k) Don’t run all seven days in a week, give some rest to your body l) Stretch Before and After the Run and m) Finally, running is fun, enjoy running.

It is very important we do some physical activity in the morning like walking, running, yoga, cycling or play any sport. This will help us to Stay Fit and Healthy both Physically and Mentally. Hope you find this post useful, Be Safe and Take Care.

Music, Movies and AGE

I started listening to Music and watching movies long back. The first song I remember listing to is either Rasputin from Boney M or Ojah Awake from Osibisa. Osibisa is not a popular band, I remember listening to some of the numbers from this Band when I was in primary school. My father had these cassettes and I was lucky to get introduced to Music in style. When I was very young we did not have a television at home. The first Movie I remember going to theater and watching is Aatukkara Alamelu in Tamil and The 36th Chamber of Shaolin in English. My uncle took me and my brother to The 36th Chamber of Shaolin at Safire Theater in Chennai. Those days going to theater would be once a year during summer holidays and listening to Music might be once a month when my parents step out. Don’t miss to click the below link to listen to Ojah Awake.

Video Courtesy: YouTube

After I moved to Senior Secondary School we had more freedom and we also did things without the knowledge of our parents. When I was in Senior Secondary School and College I started listening to Michael Jackson, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, Wham or George Michael, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Prince, A-ha, etc.., Some of my favorite numbers were Thriller, Beat it, La Isla Bonita, Papa Don’t Preach, Domino Dancing, Heart, Careless Whispers, Last Christmas, Take on me, I just called to say I love you and Another Day in Paradise. The movies that I liked when I was in Senior School and College is Action. I was a big fan of Rajinikanth and I used to watch most of his movies first day first show. His movies were known for action and style. I also watched some of the action packed English movies in theater or at home picking video cassettes from library.

Video Courtesy: YouTube

When I was in College I started going to Sabarimala. Kindly refer the attached link which details my Sabarimala Experience. https://rainbow-thoughts.com/2020/05/22/my-sabarimala-experience/ When I observe sixty days fasting, I neither listen to Music nor watch Movies. During these days I listen to lot of devotional songs. My favorite song that can bring tears in my eyes when I listen at Sabarimala is Harivarasanam by K. J. Yesudas. This is the song which is played at Sabarimala to make Lord Aiyyappa sleep. Listening to this song at Sabarimala after climbing forty eight miles is an experience that very few might be blessed to have, I was one of the luckiest. If you have not listened to this, Kindly click the below link to listen to the most melodious track.

Video Courtesy: YouTube

When I started going to work I started listening to more of Rock Music. My favorite bands are Dire Straits and Pink Floyd. My favorite numbers forever are Money for Nothing and Another Brick in the Wall. I listen to these two tracks even now and when I listen to them, I go back in my life and start thinking about those wonderful days. I also started listening to Ilayaraja’s numbers during these years, even today when I listen to some of his songs I go back to school or college and remember my school classmates. When I started going to work I was also watching lot of Romance movies. According to me people of 80s and 90s were very lucky because, we got the Best Music and Movies in these decades. Here is the link to my All Time Favorite Song, Money for Nothing.

Video Courtesy: YouTube

The last few years I don’t listen to Pop or Rock regularly. Maybe once a week I will listen to Rock or watch these videos on YouTube. I totally lost interest in Action or Romance movies. Nowadays, I listen to lot of classical Music. When I listen to Yanni I even forget where am sitting. I know nothing about Carnatic Music or Raagas. I still listen to Carnatic Vocal and Instrumental music. This brings lot of peace on my mind and I like the Music to be soft these days. I cannot watch any of today’s Action or Romance Movies. I prefer watching the old Black and White Movies in YouTube or some of the Hidden Gems or old English movies in Netflix. When I was young, I used to think about my Dad and relatives, how they listen to Carnatic Music or watch the old Black and White Movies. Today, I know why they were watching when I now experience it. One exception to movies is, I don’t mind watching any of Tom Hanks or Leonardo DiCaprio movie anytime.

When I was young I liked the action movies and pop music, as I grew up it was the romance and rock, now I like the classical movies and music. Am of the opinion there is a strong connection between our age and the Music that we listen and Movies we watch. Whatever Music we listen or Whatever Movies we watch, life without them is impossible, enjoy watching and listening. Take Care and Be Safe.

Back to 80s

For someone who was born in 1960s or 1970s they would have cherished their life the most in 1980s and am no exception to it. Am going to go back to my school days and remember the things that I have liked the most in 80s that I miss today. Hopefully, I will also take you back to 80s.

Television – Most of us had Black and White Television at home and it was during the 1982 Asian Games we started watching color television in India. My father bought a Color Television around this time, we were the few ones in our community to have a Color Television at home. These were the days when there was no Cable or Dish. There was one National Channel and some of the popular programs I remember are Around the World in 80 days, The Lucy Show, Different Strokes, Spider-Man Cartoon, Star Trek, The Goodies, Chitrahaar (Hindi Movie Songs), Oliyum Oliyum (Tamil Movie Songs). We loved watching the English News in 80s, we did not have the debates and the News Anchor read News with a smile unlike what we watch today. My favorite program was Quiz Time hosted by Siddhartha Basu even though I never answered most of his questions. Finally, going to my favorite subject Sports, we were lucky only to watch live Cricket Test matches played in India, watch only the highlights if played away from India and in Tennis it used to be only the Wimbledon Men’s and Women’s final. We were also lucky to watch the World Cup Soccer final and highlights of Olympics.

Image Courtesy: Amazon.com

Tape Recorder – We did not have the smart phone those days. We used to have a small Tape Recorder to listen to our favorite songs. I remember buying TDK D-90 cassettes to record my favorite numbers. I also remember using the Tape Recorder as a Radio to listen to my favorite songs and most importantly Cricket Commentary in short wave if India plays matches overseas.

Image Courtesy: Amazon.com

Sports – As mentioned earlier, I was following only Cricket and Tennis those days. Star Television came to India only in 90s which is when I started following my favorite Formula One and MotoGP. Apart from Cricket and Tennis, we were lucky to watch World Cup Soccer and Olympics. Some of the Athletes of 80s who are still my favorite are Diego Maradona, Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker, Kapil Dev and Carl Lewis. One thing that always stays on my mind is watching the 1985 Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket played in Australia and India winning it.

Image Courtesy: DW.com

Internet – We did not have the internet and we didn’t have Facebook, WhatsApp, Netflix and Google. Life was much better without Internet and we were well connected with our friends and family without Internet. Friends were wished on their Birthday with Greeting Card and it was the Postcard that was used to communicate with Family and Friends when we travel.

Subscriber Trunk Dialing (STD Booths) and Telegram – Communication cost was so high those days and there was no mobile phone. We used to have Landline Phone at home and most of us did not have STD or ISD connection to make calls to other cities in India or Overseas. There will be shops with Landline phones to make STD or ISD calls. Also, if there is an emergency or an urgent message that needs to be sent we were relying on Telegram from Post Office. In those days if there was a Telegram delivered at home, people will start worrying before they read, most of the times it will be a message about one of our relatives passing away.

Walkman – We did not have the smart phone and it is impossible to carry the Tape Recorders when we travel to listen to our favorite songs. It used to be the Walkman that will travel with us for songs. These Walkman consume lot of battery and it will be the Reynolds Ball Pen that we used to rewind or forward the cassette.

Image Courtesy: Amazon.com

Pepsi Cola and Big Fun – We did not have either Pepsi or Coke those days. We used to have Pepsi Cola Ice which is nothing but Ice on a pouch. This used to be very popular those days. Finally, it was the NP Chewing Gum and Big Fun Bubble Gum. NP Chewing Gum was so popular and I don’t remember sitting in the classes without chewing this. Cost of Pepsi Cola Ice was 50 paise, NP Chewing gum 15 Paise and Big Fun 30 paise.

Games – After we return from school or if it is a holiday we will be in our community ground playing cricket, seven stones, Kings etc.., If it is the summer vacation we used to play matches with other community and we will be at our home only to eat and sleep. Thankfully we did not have the Mobile Phone and Video Games. It used to be so much fun playing Cricket with our friends, fighting after the match and next day playing few more matches and fighting. These are the fighting out of the interest we had on the game with our friends after the match and not remembering anything the next day.

I wish we go back to 80s, life was much better without Internet, we were better connected with our friends and family without WhatsApp, as kids we were playing on the Ground and not inside our home and finally Television was much better without Cable or Dish.

Hope you enjoyed going back to 80s. It will be nice if you could use the comments section to share what you liked in 80s. Take Care and Be Safe.

Commercial Astrology

Astrology is the study of influence that stars and sun have on human life. It is believed the position of sun, moon, planets and stars at the time of birth will have an influence on someone’s education, career, relationship and other events. Astrology starts with drawing a horoscope based on time and place of birth. With this horoscope, Astrologers predict the future of a person based on the various astronomical position. Even though I have never gone to a Astrologer I had great respect for this science until it became commercial. Horoscope matching of Bride and Groom is something which is given importance even today in Indian Marriages. Whatever our people have done in the past had lot of sense. Whether it is the raahu kaalam, finding auspicious time, drawing the panchangam, constructing a house, temple or anything our people did in the past had lot of meaning, it was done with sense which had sanity. Today, in the name of practicing the same, it is a shame to watch these getting abused by people who hardly know anything about the subject Astrology. There are still few of them who practice Astrology after studying, who doesn’t believe in going to YouTube and who doesn’t make use of it for commercial gains, I have a great respect for them.

I always thought Astrology is used for forecasting someone’s future based on his or her horoscope. I didn’t know Astrology can be used for forecasting about a Nation or a Pandemic like Covid-19. When the Covid-19 numbers started spiking, when we didn’t hear or read anything positive and when the whatsapp universities were busy forwarding without verifying, even I started going through some of the Astrology videos in YouTube to know when this virus will leave or when we will have the vaccine. I was watching it because it gave me lot of hope. I was worried about my family and friends, about their health, jobs and kids not going to school, when I was watching or hearing these Astrologers I thought at least one person’s prediction might come true. There were few Astrologers who told things will be better from the last week of March, many predicted things will be much better starting May 20 and the remaining predicted June 1st week. We know this virus is still very much active and none of the predictions have come true. What triggered me to write this post is a whatsapp forward from my friend which I watched yesterday. Someone in the name of predicting the future spoke completely rubbish. I don’t think this person like many others know anything about Astrology. Well, if the Astrologers had known the subject they would have predicted Covid-19 when 2020 started, it is not possible to call this year is going to be hit by a virus, they would have at least studied the planetary position and warned us about the pandemic, job loss and the possible recession. It will be fun to watch what some of the Astrologers said when 2020 started, it is going to be one of the Best Year.

What I have never liked about Astrology is the pariharam, this refers to doing some puja or ritual which the Astrologers says so that the evil affects or anything bad that might happen to someone based on the planetary position is minimized. There are people who have spent in thousands and lakhs believing these Astrologers. According to me this is where Astrology became commercial and this is where anyone without even reading the science started predicting or forecasting for others. Assuming if we do the pariharam the bad thing wont happen, everyone can commit any sin and start doing pariharam, what happens to karma? Alternatively when a child is born, parents can find out from an Astrologer what are all the pariharam that must be done when the child grows up and start doing the pariharam at the respective age. Will this ensure a problem free life. It is high time people realize Astrology practiced by many is commercial and they must stay away from these money minded people.

According to me whatever has to happen will happen, I believe in Karma. We must think nice and be nice to everyone. We must eat well, sleep well and definitely do some walking or running and yoga. Immunity is very essential to fight Covid-19 or any other virus and our blood should have good Vitamin D or we must take Vitamin D supplement. Please check my earlier Blog about Vitamin D which might be of help to you – https://rainbow-thoughts.com/2020/04/26/importance-of-vitamin-d/ . We all can continue with our prayers this Covid-19 must leave this World soon or the World must have a vaccine or medicine soon so that our normal life returns. Lets be nice to everyone and lets live a normal life. Lets all continue with our prayers so that we all and most importantly the children will have a better future.

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Go back to Village

I was born in a village in Tamilnadu but grew up in Chennai, a Metro City in India. I have never stayed in a village for more than two months at a stretch. During the school days it was a family trip to visit relatives in villages. After most of my relatives moved to cities, I hardly visited any village. Recently I visited one of the village, looking at their lifestyle and quality of life they have, I can only envy them. For someone depending only on agriculture income in a village, am aware of the hardships they go through every year due to unpredictable monsoon. In this post am going to look back at the city life when I was in Chennai, my gated community experience at Bangalore, teachings of Covid-19 and why I now feel it makes sense to go back to village post retirement.

I was in Chennai for more than four decades until six years back when I moved to Bangalore. In Chennai we were living in a rented independent house initially, subsequently we moved to a small apartment and we continued our living in apartments. Life in a small apartment was beautiful. I had lot of friends, play most part of the day when its a holiday and during the summer vacation we used to play day and night. When there were festivals or New Year, we used to have grand celebration with lot of cultural programs and dinner. Most of the family living in our apartment will participate in these events. We were living as one large family in these apartments. Today, even after my brother and myself moved to Bangalore with our families, my parents want to continue living in the same apartment because they have some nice friends and they just can’t miss their place. The families in this apartment live as one large family.

I moved to Bangalore around six years back and we live in a gated community. There are around one thousand seven hundred flats with all the amenities and convenience stores. On the amenities, we have a nice club house, few swimming pools, decent library, tennis court, indoor badminton and squash court. Moving to convenience stores we have few grocery stores, vegetables and fruits store, two clinics, pharmacy, two chat shop, nice salon and few others coming up. When I started living in this community I was enjoying the stay, I picked some nice friends and joined few groups. Some of the positives of living in a gated community are a) we have runners and yoga group – I joined the runners group and we used to run together during weekends and there were yoga trainers teaching yoga for lot of residents b) Senior Citizens Group – the senior citizens do their morning walk, some of them do laughing meditation and in the evening they have nice time chatting in the garden c) Children’s Play area – sitting in the balcony and watching Children’s play is something that I like the most, this is fun and at times it is a learning for me hearing their conversation. This is one thing I like even today staying in a gated community. After enjoying the honeymoon of gated community for first few years, I started seeing the other side. a) even our neighbors wont say Hello b) when there are celebration for festival or new year, hardly people participate. c) the runners and yoga group slowly disappears and it will be back to running on our own. d) there are bunch of people who have learnt to throw out anything from their balcony e) there are smokers who prefer to smoke from their balcony with no concern on the senior citizen or children on the next door f) even for the general body meeting there wont be a quorum for the meeting g) what I didn’t like the most is, even during these Covid-19 days, you will find residents not wearing the mask. My two cents about gated community is we live together in a community without knowing each other and people don’t care about others, they do what they want to do.

Image Courtesy : The Hindu

After having such a mixed experience in a Gated Community and after all the most valuable teachings from Covid-19, I have started thinking life will be much better in a village. Kindly click this link for my learning from Covid-19: https://rainbow-thoughts.com/2020/05/01/lessons-from-covid-19/ . In today’s world what is very important in our life other than our family and friends are WiFi, Mobile, Netflix and Tata Sky. I can move to a village, maybe have better network coverage for WiFi and Mobile Data, Netflix and Tata Sky can move with us wherever we go. To have these services where we stay doesn’t matter. Why I also started thinking about moving back to a village is, I can have better quality of life. I can start my day running or walking, I can continue doing my yoga, I can eat home grown vegetables and fruits, I can stay connected with my family and friends and overall I will have a healthier life. I have started thinking about the pros and cons of moving back to village, am certain life will be much better than what I experience in a gated community. Am hoping one day I will go back to a Village.

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Our Pattu Chitthi

I was at my Brother’s place yesterday to spend time with my Niece. When he was having his lunch he got a phone call and by his tone I know my Mom lost her Mom, her Mentor, her Guide, her Greatest Support and her Best Friend. Pattu Chitthi is my Mom’s Mother’s sister, still Pattu Chitthi is like my Mom’s Mom and my Grandmother. With love and affection we used to call her Pattu Chitthi.

When I think of Pattu Chitthi the first thing that comes to my mind is few years back my mom lost her gold chain to a chain snatcher, Pattu Chitthi was in late 70s when this incident happened. When she came to know about this, she was at my place to spend time with my completely disturbed Mom. She was at my place when she could hardly walk. I remember asking her why did you come? Her response was with her trademark smile, Lalithaada referring to my Mom.

My mom was born in a village before moving to Chennai. My mom has shared with us lot of what has happened in the past. Even if my mom runs minor fever, Pattu Chitthi will be at my place and similarly if Pattu Chitthi is not well my Mom will be there. I have always admired their wonderful relationship. Pattu Chitthi was the biggest support for my mom and when my mom and me met her few months back, I saw a little child which is my mom taking blessing from Pattu Chitthi.

Pattu Chitthi has her son and daughter. They have seen ups and downs in life. What I have understood from my mom is whether it was the up or down Pattu Chitthi was the same person which is a learning for me and my people. What I like the most is even Pattu Chitthi’s children tell my mom and our people, my mom is her first daughter. I can only Thank Pattu Chitthi’s son and daughter for this. Keeping this on mind, last few years when I see Pattu Chitthi I fall on her feet to take her blessings, when I do this I keep telling myself Thank You, Thank You.

Pattu Chitthi is the person my mom loved the most, one person who will come closer to Pattu Chitthi is my mom’s granddaughter. Two days back when Pattu Chitthi was getting admitted in hospital, I understand she told her daughter in law, tell my mom not to come to hospital due to Covid-19 restriction. There are very few people who always think about others, here is someone who in her late 80s before going to hospital, thinks about my Mom. I find this difficult to understand and it is very painful.

The person my mom loved the most, the person I respected the most and the person our family thanks the most is no more. What is so painful is my mom is in a Covid-19 catchment area and she cannot even go and see her Mom for the last time. Am here at Bangalore and I cannot go and see Pattu Chitthi one more time. I know my mom is crying non stop, she is very much disturbed and I have to be with her, because of the restrictions I cannot go. I have never felt so painful like today. I can only pray god one more time. leave this world Covid-19, people have gone through enough suffering already.

Even though my mom is not able to see her mom one more time, Pattu Chitthi from heaven will continue to keep blessing my mom, Pattu Chitthi’s children and grandchildren. I also know she will continue to bless my mom’s family which is ourselves. I want to Thank Pattu Chitthi for all the Love, Affection and Support to my Mom. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. We will miss you forever Pattu Chitthi.

My Sabarimala Experience

The Sabarimala Aiyyappa Temple is located at Sabarimala inside a Tiger Reserve in Pattanamthitta district, Kerala, India. Sabarimala is known for its annual pilgrimage where devotees turn up in millions around Nov 15th to Jan 15th every year. Sabarimala Aiyyappa Temple is also open every month for monthly pooja. During the monthly pooja very few of them, maybe in thousands visit Sabarimala. According to belief, Aiyyappa is the son of Shiva and Mohini, Mohini is the female incarnation of Vishnu. The temple is located in a dense forest, most of the devotees during the annual pilgrimage will trek for around 40 miles from Erumeli through the forests. All devotees visiting Sabarimala during the monthly pooja will start their trek from Pampa River, this is the shorter route to reach the temple, this is around 5 miles from Pampa to reach the temple. Some devotees even during the annual pilgrimage will start their trek from Pampa.

Image from Outlook

Route The 40 mile route starts from Erumeli. After walking 4 hours we reach Aludha River. From here we have to climb up the hill for around 2 hours and then climb down the hill to reach Karivilam Thodu. We have to continue walking in plains for 4 to 5 hours and then start climbing the Karimala hill. This is a very steep climb and might take around 3 hours to climb up and another 3 hours to climb down. We have to continue walking in plains for around 2 hours to reach Pampa. From Pampa we climb up the Neeli Mala hill and reach Sannidhaanam in around 3 hours. Most of them trekking will walk bare foot. It is easy to climb up and climb down the various hills bare foot.

Image from sabarimala.tdb.org.in

Fasting Most of them visiting Sabarimala will observe fasting for 6 weeks. Before starting the fasting I will take blessings from my parents and wear a Thulasi Maala. I follow these for 6 weeks from the time I commence fasting. eat only Vegetarian food and also avoid onion, take bath twice in a day and offer my prayers to Aiyyappa, during the weekends I will visit Aiyyappa Temple, observe strict celibacy, wont watch cinema even on Television, avoid listening to film music, avoid visiting friends or relatives, wont go for hair cut or shave my face, sleep on the floor, foot wear only to office. The purpose of fasting is to keep our mind clean and also maintain good health.

Sabarimala Trip After observing 6 weeks fasting, we start our Sabarimala trip by taking Irumudi in the presence of Guruswamy. Irumudi is a travel bag which contains rice, coconut with ghee, coconut, pooja items etc.., When I visit Sabarimala in January, I used to take the Erumeli route. I also used to visit Sabarimala in March and July, during this time I start my trip from Pampa. We always go in group to Sabarimala, around twenty of us in January and for the monthly trip maybe four or five. The purpose of fasting is to climb the Eighteen Steps at Sabarimala Temple. These eighteen steps symbolizes vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, love, anger, avarice, lust, pride, unhealthy competition, jealousy, boastfulness, discernment, passion, dullness, knowledge and ignorance. After climbing the eighteen steps devotees will have the darshan of Lord Aiyyappa.

My Sabarimala Experience I first went to Sabarimala in 1990. During this time I will observe 6 weeks fasting and visit Sabarimala in January. When I start walking from Erumeli, there will be hardly any shop on the way. These were the days when there were no mobile phone. When we walk in the forest climbing up and down the hill, there will be hardly any light. The fasting I observe for six weeks will help me trek at ease. Since, it is a dense forest, very active on wild life, we used to walk with lot of fear. I will call my parents only after having darshan of Aiyyappa from a telephone booth. As the days were passing by more people started visiting Sabarimala. Once mobile phone made its way, it is like walking with our people in Sabarimala, even though they may not be physically present. There used to be more shops and the route was completely lighted. We used to hardly see any wild life because of crowd and various shops that were located on the route. There were also people who used to smoke while trekking resulting in polluting the air. Between 2001 to 2014, I used to visit Sabarimala three times in a year. I used to observe sixty days fasting for my January trip and twenty days fasting for the remaining two trips in a year. I stopped going to Sabarimala six years back, I have gone to Sabarimala seventeen years and more than thirty five times.

What I learnt I always like to observe fasting, this helps me have good control of mind and also have good health. My various visit to Sabarimala taught me what are the essentials of life, made me a better person and most importantly taught me nothing is permanent in life. It is very important to visit Sabarimala Eighteen years, I hope am blessed to visit the Eighteenth Year.

Lessons from Covid-19

Today I complete six weeks of house arrest and must admit this is one of the best learning experience for me. This learning is better than what I learnt in school, college and at work. Numbers are still climbing and I only hope the hot weather and astrological predictions will help us see the numbers come down from May 5, 2020 and we will also have the vaccine at the earliest. It is very sad many have lost their lives and I can’t imagine the hard times people are going through when their dear ones get admitted in hospital and they cannot even spend time with them in person when their dear ones leave the world. Once, the lock down is lifted and things return to normal there are many things that won’t be the same. I don’t know how many will lose their jobs, how many companies will have the cash to pass through recession, how many will default in loan payments and what will happen to their investments, very hard to even imagine. This Covid-19 is one way helping us understand the basics of life and what is essential for our future. Here is my list of learning and how things will change in post Covid-19 days.

LCP We are all used to the term Business Continuity Plan, BCP. The purpose of BCP is to make sure the essential services are rendered to Customers as Business Usual even during an emergency or calamity. None of us would have imagined that we will be sitting in our homes for weeks and months because of a virus. The worst hit are the senior citizens who cannot do their morning walk, cannot go to hospital for check up and have no other choice but to watch the TV News and keep worrying more. Am also worried about kids less than 10 years who are missing their school and cannot even step out and play. Parents have no other choice but to force their children to watch YouTube and TV. All of us must now assume we might have this lock down every year and do a Life Continuity Plan, LCP so that we take care of our family members well.

Work From Home As mentioned in one of my earlier Blog, My Covid-19 Experience, one thing that has zero impact during the lock down days is work. During the post Covid-19 days many organizations will ask their employees to work from home if there is no requirement for them to come to office and if they don’t have face to face meeting with their Customer. This will help Companies reduce cost of operations and this will also help employees to either do more work or do their personal work during the hours they use for commute. In a city like Bangalore where most people have to spend around 2 hours in their car, bike, bus or metro to commute to office, working from home will help them have this 2 hours at their disposal. This also means lesser pollution on the road and people who cannot work from home can have a safer drive or ride to work. Companies will also think when employees can work from home, it doesn’t matter whether their home is in India or US, Bangalore or Chennai or any village. Companies will allow their employees to work from any location and people on assignment in International Location might be hit hard. They might be asked to return to their homes in India and work from home.

Business Travel Airline and Hotel Industry will be hit very hard for a year or two as people will neither travel for Business nor for Pleasure. With the talks on pay cut and job loss people will not have the mind to go on a vacation to enjoy.

Animal Life and Nature These are the best days for wildlife and nature. Most of the dirty looking cities now look beautiful. Quality of Air is extremely good. The wildlife will be happy to roam around in their homes which is the forest as the poachers and hunters will also be in their homes going through lock down. I have started thinking it is better we have compulsory lock down for at least 4 weeks in a year, this will help the wildlife and nature immensely.

Personal Lock Down – It will be good if we have understood the benefits of lock down and go through a self imposed lock down for at least 2 weekends in a month. This will help us do the domestic work ourselves and will help us have better health by not eating the junk food which we normally eat during the weekends. We can have good time with our family at home, do domestic work, watch some nice movies on Netflix and write a Blog or read books.

Social Distancing and Hygiene This is not something new for us in India. What was taught by our Parents when we were kids we forgot it for many years. Now, most of the world has learnt the importance of social distancing. The only way we can stay away from any virus in future is by Social Distancing and maintaining good Hygiene.

Social Media Distancing It is very important during these tough days we stay away from Whatsapp forward. Most of the forwards are not checked, they can be fake and other than bringing fear on our minds it does nothing. I have also learnt that it also makes sense to stay away from most of the News Channel. The only News channel that I watch is WION. They hardly have any debates and they show what happens around the World as an information.

Fitness I always liked running in Beach, Lake and Park. I have been doing this for ages and am not comfortable to run even around my community. Today, I have learnt that Walking and Yoga is enough, I walk inside my house for a hour every day and do pranayama, surya namskar and few asanas when I start my day. Post Covid-19 I will go back to running inside my community and continue with yoga at home. I must also get exposed to sunlight regularly as this is the main source for Vitamin D.

Covid-19 has helped me learn some of the basics in life. Hopefully I will make use of this learning in future and be a better person. I will be very happy if you could share your views or your learning in the comments section, lets learn from each other.

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My Covid-19 Experience

Last few weeks are the toughest days for many of us. Wherever we are, life is only about Social Distancing, Hygiene and Immunity. Am waiting for the virus to leave so that I can see my niece and take her to mall, I want to go to Chennai to see my parents, I want my family, friends and relatives to live life without fear. I want to take few minutes to share my experience during the last few weeks.

There is one thing that this virus has no impact, that’s my work. I continue to work as usual and I don’t see any challenge to work from home. I only hope after this virus is gone, lot of corporates in cities like Bangalore allow employees to work from home so that there is lesser pollution and we give a better environment to children.

I learnt cooking from my mom few years back, what I like in my cooking is I put the right amount of salt and spice. Last few weeks am cooking more and also trying out new dishes. Am now a better cook.

For the first time I started washing the vessels and also started cleaning the floor. I realize these two are the most toughest job.

I watch lot of old English and Tamil movies in Netflix and YouTube. I stopped watching TV since I want to keep my mind positive.

One thing I can’t miss is either running or walking. Last 2 weeks I walk inside my house and cover almost 6,000 steps. I do my regular exercises and yoga at home. Since, I can’t step out I sit in my balcony during sunrise.

I started reading more about Astrology. This is one thing which is giving me lot of hopes that things will be better after April 12, 2020.

I haven’t gone outside my community gate for more than 2 weeks. I haven’t traveled a kilometer in my car.

Am back to Blogging with a new site. I want to continue writing here once in a while. I also want to read lot of books and blogs in the future.

I haven’t gone to a temple last few weeks. I keep praying at my home so that this virus will leave this world very soon.

Am learning not to forward anything that comes as forward on whatsapp.

Am not listening to my favorite music these days. I keep listening to lot of devotional songs in the morning.

Covid-19 on a better side is helping everyone become a better person. My only concern is about people who get infected and leave this world. It is very clear that no country in this world is actually developed. I sincerely hope that we humans are kind to other humans, animals and nature. I will continue with my prayers for this Covid-19 to leave this world soon.