Kumudavalli

Kumudavalli

Dressed in a simple cotton saree with a huge bindi on her forehead carrying a round cane basket of flowers going for a door delivery of flower garlands Kumudavalli is all there to enchant you.

She is soft spoken but there is a kind of strength in her walk. As she crosses signals and busy roads, she is sure that her basket of flowers will be empty by the end of the day. Sometimes you would also see her chewing her favorite beeda but that too not very often. Every evening 6.30 to 7.00 she would start from her home walk all the way to Mylapore to deliver flowers.

Flowers are her life. They have helped her make a livelihood. Her son is now working in a big company and daughter duly married with kids. She is happy but says that she has to come and sell the flowers to keep herself busy.

You can get all types of flowers from her. But she is very fond of Tulasi. Whenever I ask her why she gets me so much Tulasi, she says “Put it near the feet of Lord Vishnu, he loves Tulasi.”

Kumudavalli has no marketing, no social media. All she has is word of mouth and an amazing customer service. When she first met me, we were staying at the rented house. One evening she came and told me that the house owner ( who were not staying there) used to get flowers from her for last 20 years and she would be happy coming to that home again and give me flowers. I was more than happy and said yes to her. One more trait of Kumudavalli’s flower business was that the flower packet was never more than Rs.10. If I ask her more flowers for some occasion, she would ask me money only at the end of the month. Her flowers were always fresh and she would know what goes on what day. For example during Ganesh Chaturthi days she would bring red flowers and suitable flowers to Lord Ganesha.

On Saturdays, which is called as a Lord Vishnu’s day in Tamil Nadu, she would bring suitable flowers to Lord Vishnu and loads of Tulasi.

Along with all the matching flowers she would put a gajra of either mogra, chameli, jai or jui,kunda and the likes. Here there is a tradition of giving flowers to any lady who comes home at any point of time in a day.

It is due to Kumudavalli’s flower packet that I have never missed giving flowers to any Sumangali ( Married Woman) coming home. One gajra will always be there at home no matter what.

She was the one who gave us amazing garlands for my Sister In Law’s engagement. These garlands were specially made with Rajnigandha’s flowers, with roses in between tied tightly with the thread made of banana stem. They are sure as heavy, but create such a beautiful memory of that event through their fragrance.

As the days of Shravan approach I usually tell her to include some bilvam in the flower packet.The bilva patram would be neat ( 3 leaves as a piece without any holes) and she would deliver it without any fuss. The price of the flower pack would be little higher like Rs.12 but her customer service is impeccable.

She knew that there is small kid at our home, as she came everyday, she would tie a gajra for my dear little K even when she had a boy cut. 🙂

I call all lady flower vendors Kumudavalli ( Kumuda – Flower Valli – Creeper). I feel that is the best name for all the ladies who deliver flowers to households. Kumudavalli coming to Shrilekha’s home does not know how to count. She is an old lady but looks stunning with two sided nose pin and a nice cotton saree. She usually tells Shrilekha to count and give how many flowers she has given in that month. 🙂 I always feel that she has a deep belief on the customer and the trade that neither of them would cheat her.

Above all, for all Kumudavallis there is the Lord who knows all the accounting 🙂 HE would never do anything wrong for these ladies who are working hard twinning flowers and threads for HIM.

Krishnammal – Her Majestic Being

Krishnammal – Her Majestic Being

I saw her first during my first visit to Chennai and fell in love with her. Her Pillai style Madisar usually green, maroon with a matching blouse, with a signature KumKum on the forehead brought in all the beauty. She was amazingly beautiful but looked gorgeous on Friday as she brightened her skin using some Manjal or Haldi. Grey hair tied in a bun always I mean always adorned with flowers.

This was Krishnammal whom we fondly called “Aachi”.

Aachi married Thatha when she was in teens. From her village she came to a city called Madras. Back then, Thatha was working in a temple at Nungambakkam. There were no all weather roads in Madras but Aachi used to deliver his lunch box by walk. Whenever somebody tells me this tale, I can imagine old madras and the way this beautiful saree clad would carry the hot lunch box ( 6 tier with spoon) for her husband.

How lucky Thatha was to have such a dutiful wife.

She was diligent in her chores. As they stayed in temple house or Agraharam, she used to do all the household work looking after her kids, grandkids and great grandkids. Till she was alive, the house was always full with people. She has brought up number of children with such an ease. I now feel that Aachi loved to be surrounded by people. Her way of welcoming and feeding each one of us is unforgettable. Once I remember I overate enormous amount of food because I could not say no to her. This is not only my story, they say, one could never resist overeating food made by Aachi.

All her recipes are gems, food made at Aachi’s home would give run to any five star hotel food or for that matter Aru Suvai’s food (no offense to Aru Suvai 🙂 ) ( Aru Suvai are the Famous Caterers in Chennai) may be as

Aachi would pour all her heart in the food that she would make.

We used to stay near her home in Mylapore then. She would come home around 5.30 in the evening walking from her house just to see us. She would come, ask me about Sham’s whereabouts, my job and what I made that day. At the age of 82-83 she would walk and come home. She used to rush back home immediately because she never liked to stay outside home after 7.00. I have got scoldings many times for being out after 7.00.

An ardent believer of god, she was the only person in Mylapore who can call Lord Kapaliswarar by a pet name “Kapali”.  I was amazed at the way she could walk and go to Sabarimala even at that age.

There is a Nellika(gooseberry) tree at Aachi’s place. While being pregnant, I used to munch on those, even now I do but then it was special. She noticed it and one evening she brought a fantastic tangy pickle of those hand picked gooseberries. A gesture which I would never ever forget. Aachi has touched many lives through her food, her demeanour and her number of kind gestures but what remains with me is a loving and caring being who was standing for 5 long hours outside the labour room just to overlook whether the doctors are doing their job properly in making me deliver a baby girl.

Rightly so, we named our lil one after her.. Because her majestic being lives in our heart day in and day out.

P.S. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter. This is my first post.

I failed – In my no sugar challenge :)

I failed – In my no sugar challenge :)

It is ok to fail, many people have told me but I seldom have failed in my many many pursuits if I ignore the surprise math test in 11std. Failure to do something does not feel great, it feels sad to not to have accomplished something.

No sugar challenge started when me and my colleague Vignesh who is a sports person were discussing about how no sugar has helped him.

He was talking about refined sugar and how completely stopping it helped him.

I was impressed and thought let me start it at once. It was exciting..no sugar..whatsoever with a resolve.

Next day I woke up to banana as always and some time later I tried having the no sugar tea. One sip of it was not great but overall it was fine. May be my taste buds were happy with the sweet taste of banana already so they did not complain much about the no sugar tea. I generally take one coffee around 11 pm, so my dear cook Kamakshi had to be told specifically that I am having this “vratam” please don’t indulge yourself in giving your akka (that is me) a great cup with a good quantity of sugar.

She was surprised because I am the one against all possible fad diets and fad rules about food.

Her coffee is out of the world but having it with no sugar was 🙁 never mind. I was ok with it. 6th day was Sunday. Little Ms. K is fond of chocolates and kulfi so is her dad. Both love sweets to the core and they indulge as they please. This Sunday, I really refrained from all types of indulgences deliberately. I was the topic of discussion at the breakfast table and everybody was condemning my resolve of no sugar.

I am not a foodie and I do not crave for sweets too but still people felt like I am depriving myself from my free will of having sweets.

Around 10 days of no sugar I started feeling as follows:

  • I was more alert
  • Slept well through the night
  • I felt that my oral cavity was healthy and fresh
  • No sluggishness throughout the day
  • My overall energy was constant without a slump.

It was around 12th day that I got a call from one of my friends. She invited me as a sumangali for Varalakshmi Vratam and I had to indulge myself in the naivedya that she served. It indeed had sweets and I did eat everything she served. That day we attended an evening food award function where dinner spread had an amazing variety of sweets which I have not tasted or had..I tasted around 5 sweets that day…TASTED (not indulged). So, my vratam actually failed that day and my belief that none of the fad rules work got reinforced.

Though I am back to my no sugar routine, there is practically no point in refraining from anything. Balancing is the key. You got to balance everything, your food, sugar intake, rice intake, salt intake and workout to maintain healthy lifestyle.  

I have failed in my resolve but I like my no sugar coffee. Kamakshi is also used to no sugar coffee for akka..that is more than enough at this point 🙂

Bhav – A Show By Shobana

I was already late, it was Wednesday and the traffic on TTK road was killing. Me and Ms.K were in an auto. The Autowala was making all the efforts to make us reach on time. Of course I had told him that it was Shobana’s show that I am attending. Slowly, we crossed all the signals and came to Music Academy signal, it took an eternity for that signal to show us GREEN and finally we were at the doorstep of a different world which was about to be created by Shobana and her crew.

Practically, words fall short while describing the feeling which one has attending any live show. The acoustics, color combination and fluid dance movements are bound to take you to a different realm but did I expect more? Yes I did.

Have been seeing many posters of her show “Krishna” from last so many years as the Gokulashtami nears. I could never attend though due to many many commitments that we usually have.

Bhav had a different concept. It was conceived to convey the story behind performing arts. Rather to let people understand the origins of arts and to make them realize that it is as close to nature as every human being is.

For the art to take the center stage in your heart, you just have to let go. Easier said than done. 🙂

We entered Music Academy and the show was already on..A beautiful lady in pink costume dancing at the center stage on the song sung by the Maestro Abhishek Raghuram. Shobana looked amazingly beautiful in her Bharatnatyam costume. Her jewellery was dazzling with a smart play of light on and off. Most of the renditions sung by Abhishek Raghuram were in Telugu/Tamil, it was difficult to understand but Shobana’s expressions spoke much louder than words.

The program started with Ganesh Vandana, and slowly moved towards the real subject of the performing arts. The journey which is close to 1000 years. The starting point of the journey and the evolution through the years was portrayed in a tightly knit performance.

It is so easy to write it, speak about it but ask somebody to perform it and show.. Well it is doubly difficult. But then Shobana is a true masterclass. She showed it all EFFORTLESSLY. All her repertoires were easy to follow.

Her greatness as an artist was apparent as my daughter along with several small children ( present in the full house) could relate to her performance despite the language barrier.

Seetha Svayamvara and her act of Hanumanta in Ashokvatika is memorable.

Ramayana, Mahabharata and other mythological stories we all know since our childhood but seeing it depicted as a stage show was mesmerizing.

Every dancer in the ensemble was a great dancer and artist. Not a single mistake throughout the act of 3 hours which is truly remarkable.

Seeing Shobana dancing is an experience, she enhances it with her smartly designed costumes, jewellery, backdrops and music. It was a treat to all my senses. I wish to thank my Guruji Jigyasa Giri mam of Devaniya School of Kathak Dance to give us an opportunity to witness this show.

I would like to state here that Madam Shobana is an actress of great stature and has been in performing arts since last many decades. To speak about her on the blog is my humble attempt to note the incredible show and the artist that I witnessed along with my daughter.

Left Doubters Behind with Pinkathon

Left Doubters Behind with Pinkathon

I have been obese all my life. The brief duration that I was my ideal weight lasted around 2 years during my hostel stay and the other time when I was suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome ( IBS).

In the hostel, I was super malnourished and was homesick. I never quite liked food made in a mess and a couple of times I had to rush back home with gastritis during 4-year tenure.

After marriage and delivery and 2.5 years of breastfeeding, I wanted to shed some weight and landed myself in trouble because of the foolish diet food which was sold by a famous gym in the city. I followed that diet for around 1 year and lost a right amount of weight, only to find that I was in this vicious cycle of stomach pain, diarrhoea and vomits. Here again, I would like to say that I was my ideal weight

( weight loss can also happen with diseases, and you can lose those last 10 pounds to diarrhoea too) but in an acutely malnourished body which used to give up often.

I have written a lot about sustainable food habits and lifestyle, and I can not emphasize the importance more. After IBS, I was on medication for the whole year to the point that putting a tablet in my mouth would give a gag. But then, one day, I decided against it. I decided that if it pains I will bear it all and I did..slowly changed my food habits..brought myself back to regular food eating routine. I did not avoid anything but did not overeat. Started training myself with cardio, strength training, and HIIT.

A bit of more HIIT and you may injure your knee, heels and so on.

For a brief period again I was THIN (literally), this time it was no diet, it was workout which would go on injuring my body slowly…By this time I had already run the Wipro Chennai Marathon. It was a 10km distance. How did I do it? Well, it wasn’t easy. I was running for the first time. So I did not know how it would work. I completed it successfully.

The second 10k I ran, at a whim, registered just 2 days before and no practice.

But Pinkathon was different!

I was already doing 100 days of running.

100 days of running is an initiative taken by runners around the world, where one should run 100 days.

It does not have to be a 5km run, it can be 2km, 3km or the bare minimum that you can run every day. One can log in the information on their portal to assess the progress. This was a kick start. I had already started walking 10k every day and knew that it should progress to jog or run. Slowly, with 100 days of running, I could run 2km every day.

Body is a wonderful machine. Slowly, it got used to the 2km, and I felt nothing. Initially, there were many changes, but as I got used to it, it was more of a routine. I had to break the plateau, and I decided that I should run a 10k and see whether I am really capable of it. There were around 15 days for Pinkathon, luckily and we (Shrilekha and I) registered. Most of you have seen the journey of preparation. We were running every day (2-3-5 km) and slowly, we were ok with 5 km distance. Shri was covering it for around 45 mins and me about 50 mins. The day of Pinkathon arrived. Had a Chevazhai ( Red Banana) before going, we got ourselves dropped near Napier Bridge and walked around 2 km. There was a lot of buzz with Zumba and all happening around.

Milind Soman is a brand ambassador of Pinkathon, he came on the stage, and I could just say “ Wow.” Such an inspired morning it was.

Milind flagged the race, and we were on our own ( Shrilekha and I ). Yeah, we don’t run together because she is much faster than me.

After running two, 10km races, I knew that

I do not have to rush and run with other people that are the biggest mistake anybody would do while they are running.

When the race started everybody started running, I was the last person to leave Napier Bridge of all 10k participants. But that did not bother me.

First 1 km of the run is building my ammunition, I have a severe issue of breathlessness. So,   I have to make my lungs and body ready for the long run.

As I crossed 2km mark, it was good, I was leaving behind most of the junta who were walking. Till 5k it was easy. I did have some water at 5k.

The km marks were very haphazard, I never saw 6k, 7k mark.

8k was tough because there were two bridges, which were tough to climb especially when I was running out of my ammunition.

What did I learn yet again?

Running is a mind game, you quit in your mind, your body stops

Never compete or compare your performance with anybody. Everybody prepares; differently, everybody has a different lifestyle.

While running, get your lungs to work first which would later fuel your performance, if you are running on the breaths which you are taking on the go, it will deplete your energy ( Too technical but I felt it so..)

Never ever gulp a lot of water at the water stations, SIP it.

And celebrate your effort and pace whatever it is. 🙂

I am proud of Shrilekha who completed the race in 90 mins which is a great feat. I have learned from this race and would undoubtedly work hard to perform at my best.

Thank you all for constant encouragement. For those who are thinking, we did this for weight loss, I only have a thing to say, we are way past weight losses.. 🙂

It was a great journey, more so because all of you were a part of it. Let’s gear up for The Wipro Chennai Marathon in Jan 2019. See you at the start of the preparations. Speaking of doubters..I am one of my biggest doubter..so I believed in my capacity of running this time..hope the streak continues.

Shopping Hacks for Busy Moms!

Shopping Hacks for Busy Moms!

Shopping has always been fascinating. We definitely have vivid memories of Sadhana dancing to the tunes of Jhumka Gira Rey Bareilly ke bazar me. Markets enthuse us with huge amounts of energy. Then let it be the Budhwar Bazar of Mahal or Sitabuldi Nagpur, Kamothe Bazar of Navi Mumbai or the hustling and bustling market of Mylapore, Chennai.

One of the prime reasons why I love marketplaces is that as a buyer I get to meet new people. Engage in a conversation. Talk to them in their local language. And yes here it is how I learned Tamil! We all have that preferred and favorite vendor who we wish to buy from. We trust her trade. We try to reach them for the best deals.

The lights at the night time at a marketplace, the arrangements of vegetables is many times love at first sight.  After a great shopping of grocery, vegetables one often tends to eat up at some local hawker to make up for the tired, dehydrated self. With changing times, we have to acclimatize with the newer situations.

I underwent a transformation when it came to my buying habits, after marriage. Now I had less time at hand to spend with my husband, for me and for the household. It was then, at that time when our late Perippa Mr Vishwanathan told me and cultivated the idea of buying the grocery and vegetables online. Local baniya was a popular online store in Mumbai, then.

And that decision to trust the new found love “APPS” gave my marital life and now postpartum life a breather. Four years and still on, I am a dedicated online shopper for grocery, vegetables, and other daily needs of the household.

Online shopping is indeed an order of the day and how?

 

  • It saves time:- Time for me is money. With my little one demanding all my time and attention, I invest this very dimension of my life very calculatingly. Just a day before if you order, you get the stuff right at your doorstep. No need to stand in long queues of time-consuming billing counters.
  • More variety:- Some of the online stores claim that they have more than 1000 brands of a particular item. I am sorted in this aspect and hence options don’t confuse me.
  • Good quality:- Four years my relationship with online shopping has always been a qualitative one with reasonable rates. And what if you find rotten carrots? Well, you can always return the same and get the money credited to your account.
  • Deals, Offers, and Bonuses:- A huge amount has been credited to my account as I avail many offers and bonuses. Loyalty comes with a price.
  • 24*7 customer care:- Most of the online portals selling vegetables and have great support. You can always chat with them or call them and they are indeed happy to help.
  • What more? Well, you can also avail their gifting facility. Present your loved ones with anything and everything.

Online shopping of vegetables and grocery is constantly evolving. Life becomes easy and hassle-free. Some of the online stores in main cities are

  • Bigbasket
  • Zopnow
  • Godrej Basket
  • Grofers
  • Spencers
  • More
  • Onlinesabjiwala

I am a Bigbasketeer! Are you?