A Positive Weekend

Last Sunday I posted a Blog about one of my neighbor’s family getting infected with Covid-19 leading to two weeks of quarantine to us. Yesterday, was a wonderful day I had, it started with my neighbors getting better and the child is also fine now, I was so happy hearing this. Bangalore authorities have changed the guideline for quarantine, starting yesterday only the flat where there is a Covid-19 infected person will be quarantined. My floor was completely sanitized and quarantine removed yesterday. Here is the most important one, my brother brought my parents from Chennai to Bangalore. I will be spending time with my people next week and my parents will also be with us for a while.

I have already wrote few posts about Covid-19 and here again I want to write about things that keep me busy these days and these are things I love doing.

Running and Yoga – Until yesterday I was on quarantine for a week and I was walking inside my apartment for a hour in the morning and also walk few steps every hour to reach my indoor target. I used to walk around 12,000 steps a day. The quarantine is removed and I was out today morning to run. I ran around 10 kilometres in less than a hour. I enjoy running and I feel so good after I run. Before and after running, I do lot of stretches and few Yoga Asanas. I used to do Surya Namaskar, it’s been a while since I did this, I need to restart Surya Namaskar. Tomorrow, my plan is to run 15 kilometres and am sure I will run 15 and smile.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Cooking – I didn’t have to learn cooking until 8 years back as my mom was always with me and my business travel was limited. When we were in Chennai, My Little Princess i.e. my Niece was born and my Brother’s family was in Bangalore. My parents started spending more time in Bangalore and I started learning cooking out of necessity. After I got married and moved to Bangalore six years back, my frequency of International Business Travel started going up. Being a vegetarian it gave more opportunities to cook during these travel. I always love cooking and what I liked about my cooking is, I always put the correct amount of salt and spice. During these Covid-19 days, I cook regularly and I can confidently now tell that am one of the best in cooking. I learn from my mom, I follow people like Venkatesh Bhat, Sanjeev Kapoor and Yogambal Sundar in YouTube and finally, I have few friends here in Blog community who shares some very interesting recipe to try and celebrate.

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Entertainment – I like to listen to Music and watch Movies. I subscribed to Spotify and nowadays I get to listen to some very nice music I like. I listen to Carnatic, Fusion, Tamil and Hindi film songs and finally my favorite Rock Music. What I like about Spotify is, by choosing the artist we like, it comes out with a bunch of daily mix. Spotify is very intelligent that it has understood what I listen every day in the morning during my prayers and it suggests me songs as per the day. Spotify also has the “Best of Artists” section where we get to listen to all the best tracks of Artist we like. I have a nice Bose Speaker where Spotify is paired, there is nothing better than listening to some nice Music. I also have a nice big Television which I use for watching movies. I recently signed up with Disney Hotstar to watch English, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam Movies, I signed up with SunNxt to watch Tamil and Malayalam Movies. I also watch Music Videos and comedy shows in YouTube. I came out of Netflix because the content is very bad for the premium we pay, hope they have better movie collection to go back. Weekends are fun watching movies from one of these Apps and listening to Spotify.

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Television – These days I watch Television using Tata Sky only for three reasons – Formula One, Tennis and MotoGP. The US open started this week and we have a Formula One or MotoGP race every weekend to keep myself busy. This weekend is more of Tennis and Formula One at Monza, Italy.

Blogging – I spend good amount of time reading Blogs from my friends. I also write a little bit or share some of my interesting clicks here. I have made some nice friends here in WordPress even though I have not spoken or met them. These are wonderful people who only know to appreciate others writing and motivate them.

When the Covid-19 hit us in March 2020, I thought it’s going to keep us bored during the lock down. I have now learnt to keep myself busy without travelling and started enjoying what I do. We have learnt through Covid-19, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, let’s live for the moment and have fun in the right way. Stay Safe and Take Care.

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.

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.

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.

My Favorite Michaels

Am someone who have always loved the Music, Movies and Sports of 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Even today I prefer listening to Music of 80s and 90s and I go to YouTube and watch videos of Tennis, Formula 1 and Athletics. I was in school in 80s and went to college in 90s and tried to do my further studies in 90s. For those who have lived in 80s and 90s, when it comes to Sports or Music, there were many popular athletes or music band, I had one similarity in the persons I worshiped baring an exception, their names start with Michael. They were Michael Schumacher, Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan and the only one exception was Pete Sampras. All of them were very successful, popular and some of the records they achieved will never get erased.

Michael Schumacher I started watching Formula 1 in the early 90s and I straight away became a big fan of Senna and Schumacher. Senna lost his life on May 1, 1994 at San Marino Grand Prix, I was watching this race live on TV and I could not believe what I was watching. After this I have watched all races of Schumacher, enjoyed it and celebrated his wins. Days of Schumacher in Ferrari were the best days of Formula 1, after every race win by Schumacher, I used to party with my friends in a pub at Chennai. Schumacher retired from Formula 1 in 2006 and returned to Formula 1 in 2010 to drive for Mercedes. I didn’t like his return until India hosted a Formula 1 race. I watched this race live, became emotional to see my Biggest Legend. Schumacher was the most successful driver in the history of Formula 1. He holds 7 world championship title, 91 race wins and 13 race wins in a single season. Maybe, one day these records might be broken, what I love about Schumacher is, he was dominating Formula 1 so much that the FIA have to keep changing the rules to see a different winner, FIA was never successful since the winner was always constant. He had a freak accident when he was skiing in 2013 and he is still recovering. I keep praying for him every day with the hope he will be normal very soon.

Image picked from Hindustan Times

Michael Jackson When I was in school one of my friend was talking about Michael Jackson and Thriller. I remember going to a Record Shop and recording Thriller in a TDK 90 cassette. When the small music player started playing wanna be startin somethin, I thought the music player at home became a new one with woofer and tweeter because I have never listened to such quality music until then. After listening to Thriller, Beat it, Billie Jean and P.Y.T. even without understanding the lyrics, I started liking Thriller and Michael Jackson. There was not a day when I was in school, I missed listening to Thriller. When the album Bad was released, I was one of the first guys to have the album recorded. By this time I was a big fan of him. Those days we didn’t have the cable television and I have hardly watched any of his dance moves until we had MTV in our Television. When the cable television made its way in 90s, after watching Smooth Criminal, I was almost worshiping Michael Jackson. Nowadays I listen to more of Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and also Carnatic Music. Michael Jackson is no more, but his music will always stay here. Even today once in a while I will watch his videos on YouTube and go back to 80s days. He will always remain the King of Entertainment.

Image picked from mjvibe.com

Michael Jordan I have never watched Basketball until early 90s. Again thanks to cable television I started watching this game. Those days if its basketball there were only 2 names – Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls. I used to watch basketball like cricket or tennis in 90s. I remember there were days when I have even gone to work late if there was a match played by Michael Jordan. After Jordan left Bulls, I used to follow Kobe Bryant for a while. Some of the records of Michael Jordan that will be permanent are – 6 times NBA Championship, 6 times NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and 5 times NBA Most Valuable Player. He had a career average points of more than 30. Today, I hardly watch basketball, maybe I will start watching again if we have one more Jordan or Kobe.

Image picked from houstonchronicle.com

Michael Schumacher, Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan are my favorite Michaels, my favorite among these will always be Michael Schumacher.