Saunter with the Sublime – Agumbe

The rains sing a wild song in this quaint, verdant land.

Walk barefoot on wet earth and grass.

Breathe. Let your heartbeats soar with the roar of the winds.

Close your eyes and let the raindrops cleanse away the chaos.

Come to Agumbe, the land where jungles await you at your doorstep.


Concept- Vedhika Sarath Chadran
VO & Script – Pooja Sarath Chandran
Direction & D.O.P – Sarath Chandran RJ
Editing, Soundscape & DI – Sreeraj Ravi

 

Saunter with the Sublime from Sarath Chandran RJ on Vimeo.

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A Tangle of Emotions

Hello there. This is a series I was supposed to have completed like way before my wedding but then again 4 years after my wedding isn’t too bad when it comes to keeping deadlines is it? 😉

Well, the rules are the same as before. A-Z of my life. I will write on the first word or topic that comes to mind when I think of each letter of the alphabet and as is usual with everything in Iliria, each post is going to be spontaneous and free flowing. Nothing planned or structured about it. Just straight from the heart, sans censors. I have already done A and B so now it’s C. It’s been ages since I wrote anything in Iliria so I don’t know how this is going to go but let’s get started. Who knows what part of my heart each post will shine a torch on!


 

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‘C’ for Classes and School…

(3.20pm on a pleasant, cool Wednesday.)

“Amma I am going to school! Bye! I am going on my own to school! Bye Ammaaa..!”

I look up from the cake batter I am making, turn around and stare open mouthed at my 2.5 year old daughter who is in the hall riding her tricycle in circles waving at me as I stand in the kitchen engrossed in cooking.

She has on her shoulder one of my small sling bags, and is pretending that she is cycling away to preschool. I smile at her and wave back asking her to be careful and turn back to my batter but with my mind elsewhere.

I cannot believe how fast my little baby has grown up. She now wears and takes off her footwear on her own, dresses on her own, eats and drinks on her own, sings quite a few nursery rhymes, has become quite a chatterbox, and when in the mood for it she even tidies up her toys!

She’s all set to start Montessori school in like a week and a half. It’s a place I found after much hunting and research. Choosing a school for her was in itself such a herculean task. The words ‘school’ and ‘classes’ have taken on a whole new meaning in my life now.

I am super excited and happy that she’s moving onto the next stage of her life but then again, every time I think of coming back home to an empty house after dropping her off at school I feel this huge tangled lump of emotions in my throat.

It’s that same feeling I felt the day I gave birth to her and she left my body for the first time to become a person of her own being. The same feeling I felt when after 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, I fed her, for the first time, with food other than my milk. The same feeling I felt when for the first time she pushed away my hand when feeding her, insisting that she eat on her own. That same feeling when she insisted for the first time that she be allowed to run around than be in my arms.

And now when she steps out from home to a whole new world for the first time, she will slowly start having a world of her own. In the place of just us and our home being her world, now it will also have her teachers, friends, school and lots more.

Oh boy it’s been such an amazing journey of ‘firsts’!

Call me paranoid and over sensitive but yeah that’s just who I am.

Then again, I guess that’s just how parenting should work. A tiny step at a time we learn to let go of them as we teach them to grow less and less dependant on us. To become independent, responsible, good hearted human beings.

As I wash my hands and clean up the mess of flour and empty egg shells from the black granite countertop, my little girl runs up to me and asks to be seated on the countertop to help me make cake. I tell her I’m done but nevertheless heed to her request. I give her some cake batter to taste and ask her if the salt and sugar are all in right proportions. She gives her approval and starts fiddling around with the muffin tray making her own version of the cake.

I sure will miss this little lady pestering me all day long with her umpteen questions and tantrums.

It’s been a roller coaster ride this far and I’m sure the show’s just getting started but really, I’d have it no other way. I have enjoyed and cherish every bit of the last few years including the sleepless nights and times I thought I’d never get things right.

Thank you God for blessing me with the opportunity to love and care for my darling every single moment, every single day right from birth, for blessing me with the ability and opportunity to work from home, for blessing me with a mother-in-law who took on the entire responsibility of the household while I cared for my newborn and most importantly, for blessing me with a partner who understands and respects the choices I make for our daughter and who is such a loving, caring, amazing Father to her.

I indeed am the luckiest, most blessed girl alive and my biggest treasure is my own little family in our own little world! 🙂 🙂

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first day prayer

Achan

kanyadaan

I hum along as Bryan Adams croons from my mobile phone brightening up my Monday morning in the kitchen. My husband is getting ready for office, our little lady, albeit unwell is fast asleep and I feel happy as I pour a ladle full of dosa batter onto the hot non stick tawa and slowly but surely move my ladle in circles carving out a perfect dosa.

The music stops midway to make sure I don’t miss the WhatsApp notification that has just come in. I smile without even looking at who it is from as there is no one else who messages me apart from my husband and my Achan and since the former is home, it’s gotta be from the latter.

I wipe my hands on my green t-shirt, flip the dosa, keep aside the spatula on the black granite countertop and pick up my phone while keeping an eye on the milk all set to boil on the second burner of my glasstop stove.

It is a message asking me to focus on my baby’s health and bother about the rest of anything at all, later.

I smile and get back to getting breakfast ready while my mind rewinds 3 years to a morning that made me realise that it is often in the worst of adversities that God sends forth the best of His blessings.


“Do you have enough money with you?”

It was a fine summer morning and my boss at the ad agency where I was working had called me for a meeting in the conference room. As usual he had with him a bunch of papers and as I had been expecting a slew of instructions on how to go ahead with some new assignment, this out of the way, direct question took me by surprise.

“Excuse me Sir?”

“Do you have enough money with you in your bank account? Yes, I know Sarath is a good man and will stand by you and protect you but post marriage you shouldn’t have to depend on anyone else for your needs should such a situation arise.”

I sat there staring at a man who had been to me a mentor and guide upto that moment and felt so vulnerable. I was all set for a marriage against the wishes of my family at the time. There I was yearning with all my heart and soul for my Dad to stand up for me, to call me and ask me if I am safe and alright, to express concern for my well-being. A call that never came (can’t blame him.. he was going through emotional turmoil himself). And here was a man who needn’t give a damn for what was to be my fate, who barely even knew me except as an employee at his company, who did not have to give even a morsel of his time or energies to ponder over me or the intricate situation I was in, asking me a question about my future that I myself had not given any thought to.

To say I was touched would be a dire understatement.

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And the most amazing thing is he did not stop with that. Over the last 3 years he has been a source of constant support and guidance to us as a family every single step of the way. His presence is so cherished by both my husband and myself that he has now become a part of our family. In fact, more a part of our family than either my own parents or hubby’s. Even now, after moving out from our homeland to settle in Bangalore, it is with him that we discuss every major decision we take with regards to our life.

Life is weird. When I needed Dad the most in my life, it was Sir who stood by me albeit hesitantly. In fact, if it weren’t for him I would have been like an orphan at my own wedding in front of the huge crowd of people (mostly judgmental strangers) gathered.

Sir is a strict taskmaster and I used to love working for him as he made sure every work I did for him was at least a notch better every time. All my colleagues were terrified of him, still are I think.

Me? Well… I was never scared of him in the literal sense of the word but rather I have deep, profound respect for him. I fear him like how one would fear the principal of one’s school much as one loves him or her. I have never met a person till date who is more an embodiment of the word Empathy than he is. He’s made me feel safe and secure in a sense I know not how to explain. He’s been an anchor of sorts over the years. A much needed anchor to tide over turbulent times. A God sent blessing.

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I don’t know who I am to him or if I mean anything at all to him. Like they say, you are never to them what they are to you but still to me he is my mentor, guide and above all else, my Achan.

Always will be.

Not a day passes when I don’t thank God for making our paths in life cross.

Thank you God… Thank you for every bit of everything. You have blessed me with three Fathers – Dad, Achan and my Father in law! 🙂

Ten Things of Thankful – Season 2

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A new city, new life and tons of things to be grateful about! What better place to let my cup of joy overflow than here in Iliria! 🙂

First up, my husband’s cousin sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl yesterday!! 🙂 Since she has had a share of really bad experiences in the past this pregnancy had been scary for everyone and am ever so happy that it ended well 🙂 Thank you God!

Shifting to Bangalore has been AMAZING right from the word GO! We were dying to get out of Kerala and this came as a God sent blessing. Thank you! 🙂

My husband is happy with his new job, we got an amazing house to stay in. Not only is it walking distance from his office but also the landlord and his family that lives upstairs are a bunch of really good people making it a super safe place for me and my baby. Thank You God! 🙂

Our baby girl is turning 2years old this month! Thank you God for blessing us with her! 🙂

Being new in town we were really worried about finding a good reliable doctor for our baby but there too God was kind and led us to an amazing doc via hubby’s boss. Thank you 🙂

We were short on funds etc when we moved in but one after another things kept falling in place and we were able to furnish our home from scratch beautifully. Thank you 🙂

I get to be the mistress of my own home!! OMG! I cant begin to describe just how good that feels! THANK YOU!! 🙂

I was interviewed by my hubby’s boss as a writer for some freelance work and he was happy enough to send me some sample work. Thank you..

Since we moved here, albeit for a brief bit of time I was able to interact with a person who is a fatherly figure in my life on a personal level and boy it was beautiful! Thank you ever so much dear God! 🙂

And finally, we are now finally able to bring to life our grand travel plans!We went on a trip last month and it was lovely! We hope to make it happen more often.Hopefully every month. Thank you God 🙂

Life is amazing right now! Thank you God for every bit of everything! 🙂

My Child…

Travel.

For each destination plays a different note,
Touches a different chord on your heartstrings.

While some flow taking you to its depths,
Others make you seek the depths of your being.

Wherever the road takes you,
Remember to stand and stare.
To savour the scents.
Listen.
To open your inner self to the paradise within.
To breathe.
For that is where God is.
Around you.
In the very air you take for granted.

Do not be afraid to get lost.
Because often in life it is when you feel lost the most that you find what you seek.

Travel my child.
Travel as far and as wide as you can.
Spread out those big strong wings and soar.

For travel is to the spirit what dreams are to the heart and reading is to the mind.

Ten Things of Thankful : 17

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9.23pm.

It’s cold. A damp, wet cold thanks to the Monsoons that have decided to drop by early this year.

My little girl’s asleep beside me as I sit on my bed crouched over my laptop typing life into the blank screen before me in the dim light that trickles into the room from the bathroom door that has been left open.

A pillow is propped up on my knee shielding my baby from the light of the screen. I type softly cursing every loud honk of the vehicles that drive past my open window.

Babies, I tell you, they have a knack for finding excuses to wake up right when you are trying to get stuff done!

It’s been quite a while since I stepped into the threshold of Iliria though I have kept reading whatever I can, whenever I can.

Getting back in here, trying to snip open a corner of my heart and pour out its contents feels weird. I dont know what to say or how to say whatever is in my mind so I am going to go the most easy way i know- Ten Things Of Thankful

After a 2 year break, here’s my TTOT – 17

  1. Family – My husband, and baby girl are by far the biggest blessings God has showered on me. THANK YOU.Really. The smiles on those two faces are all it takes to brighten any day and lighten any heart.
  2. Books – There was a time not too  long ago when I owned just about no books and a good friend helped me kickstart my book collection by gifting me some. Well I am thrilled to say that today I am well on my way to building my library all thanks to the good start my friend gave me and to Hubby who loves books just as much as I do.3. Cuddling – I know I did mention Family right at the beginning but the family cuddles every day so deserve a special mention! The way our little girl starts each day with peals of laughter, giggles, hugs and kisses and rolling about in bed in between blankets just all three of us in a big fat bear hug…. If I were to choose the happiest moment in y life this would be it.The way my heart swells with love and gratitude each morning. Thank You God. Thank you.4. Friends- In the course of the last two years two of my dear friends have given birth  to healthy babies. Thank you.5. My own birth experience was so seamlessly smooth and well taken care of. So deeply fulfilling too. I will write in detail about it sometime soon as it warrants a full post. THANK YOU.

    6. Life is headed in a positive direction with better opportunities coming our way. Our quality of life has improved drastically, our financial woes are slowly but steadily ebbing away. Thank you.

    7. Travel – I recently got the opportunity to do a 5000 word travelogue for Kerala Tourism. It is yet to be published and so am still nervous about people reaing what I have written but still it was an amazing opportunity and I will remain eternally grateful for it. It is about our journey from Kumarakom to Munnar to see the legendary Neelakurinji in bloom. It is 5 writers who were chosen for the assignment and thanks to some quirk of fate my boss decided I was worthy of being selected for it too. Thank you!

    8. Hubby is a very hardworking, self made man. Of late his works have begun to attract the attention of the right people and he’s been getting his hands on more and more prestigious projects which is ofcourse giving his self esteem and spirits a much needed boost. Thank you.

    9. Working from Home – I have been blessed enough to be bestowed with the opportunity to work from home. Which means I am able to be present to care for my 14 month old daughter round the clock without having to sacrifice my career. Yes it is strenuous but then again I would do anything to be here for my girl. Thank you so much dear God!

    10. My MIL is rather BUT in a sense her controlling nature is a boon for me.

    She hates it when I even step into the threshold of the kitchen or do anything in her kingdom. This very nature of hers has made things easier for me as she happily takes care of all the cooking and other household work while I get to focus on my baby and office work. So in a sense, Thank you God for that too.

    Don’t get me wrong. Mil is a really sweet lady in all other respects. Just is a bit too territorial. As far as she is concerned this house is her Kingdom and she is the reigning queen. That’s all. Thankfully for me Hubby understands my situation as he knows his mom all too well and so takes me out for a breath of fresh air every now and then.

Thank you dear God for this beautiful gift called Life!

 

 

 

 

 

Hand in Hand…

Today, on the last day of the tumultuous year 2016, I offer you my first attempt at poetry. It was inspired from this sketch by my husband..

dreams

TOGETHER

Together we stand hand in hand
Life’s mountains looming dark and high.

HE who united us,
Lights our path,
A path that took root from our hearts.

Traverse it we shall
Hand in hand
Through thorns and rocks and shackles of despair.

For though the world may shun and shame
We each in our hands hold
The biggest benediction that all may behold!

I write…

I write…
Not because I have to but because I do.

Like the dragonflies that flit around me
My soul flits around from place to place.

Like the breeze that weaves its way through the petals of a water lily,
My spirit yearns to wander.

Like the Monsoon clouds pregnant with rain, my heart yearns to sing.
Like that solitary Comorant, my dreams hope to soar.

Like the raindrops that prance about, a thousand pin pricks on the waters of the Vembanad,
My words seek to dance.

Home…

Where one does not just see Nature but
Becomes one with it.

(Video made by my husband Sarath Chandran RJ)

 

Grandmaster’s Kitchen: Not Quite a Checkmate

Pooja Sarath
19/07/2016

It’s not often that one walks into a much hyped about restaurant to be greeted by an apologetic manager.

At around 8 p.m. on a Saturday earlier this month, my husband and I saunter into the Grandmaster’s Kitchen in Thiruvananthapuram for a quiet dinner.

“We’re sorry the tables are all full and there is a queue of reservations as well. We suggest you try the buffet. It has a much better spread than the temporary menu we’ve set up for the crowds,” said Vipin, the manager.

“Temporary menu?” we wonder aloud.

“You see, this restaurant is meant for a niche crowd, the kind who come to dine at a fine restaurant discussing movies, art or literature. It’s for their tastes that our menu has been structured. But being the first film-themed restaurant here, we have a lot of people coming in just to see the place. We’ve developed a basic menu for them,” he said.

“So when will this place be in full swing?” I ask, staring at the sepia tinted photographs of cinema greats plastered all over the walls in the foyer.

“It will take another week ma’am. Tonight our Saturday Special Grandmaster’s Buffet is the highlight,” he says escorting us up a flight of stairs.

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The deco and ambience wins us over whetting our appetites. Designed in black and white, the central themes here are chess and cinema, the passions of the owner B. Unnikrishnan, a filmmaker. The photographs of film posters and actors from world cinema, great chess players, dialogues from popular Malayalam films and film songs playing in the background jostle for our attention.

The deco is neat and uncluttered albeit crowded. The tables are spaced a tad bit too close to each other for comfort.

The Grandmaster’s Buffet, priced at 599 rupees per head, was quite a basic spread.

We started with the Hot and Sour Chicken Soup. Even I who don’t usually like soups as they are often bland with too much corn flour actually liked this one. The flavors and spice were just right.

The Shrimp Salad that followed was a tad bit disappointing and uninteresting.

The Saffron Chicken Kebab as starter made up for the earlier disappointment with its balance of coriander, garlic and onion. The meat was succulent and had fully absorbed the subtle flavors of its marinade.

The rice and breads offered for main course were the usual spread of Tandoor Roti, Kerala Paratha, Steamed rice and Cashew Pulao. The accompaniments included Chicken in Chilly Oyster Sauce, Grandmaster’s Chicken, Beef Ularthiyathu and Fish Mango curry for the non-vegetarians and Baby Corn Mushroom Masala and Veg Kolhapuri.

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Not exactly spoilt for choice, we decided to mix and match. My husband chose to have Kappa from among the starters with Beef Ularthiyathu and Chicken in Oyster Sauce while I chose Cashew Pulao with the Grandmaster’s Chicken.

The kappa, well cooked, paired well with both the Beef Ularthiyathu and the Chicken. While the Beef did justice to the traditional recipe, the Chicken in Chili Oyster Sauce was an explosion of flavors. The Grandmaster’s Chicken lived up to its name and was an ideal accompaniment to the Cashew pulao. The Gajar Ka Halwa for desert was a perfect end to the meal.

As for the service, well, there was some confusion in the air among the staff. But I guess they are just finding their feet in the initial days. We definitely will make another visit to Grandmaster’s Kitchen because it wasn’t as damp squib as some of the recent Malayalam flicks!

(Grandmaster’s Kitchen is located behind the Saphalyam Complex at Palayam in Thiruvananthapuram.)

http://stancemagazine.in/Article/164/GrandmasterandrsquosKitchenNotQuiteaCheckmate

The Wilderness Beckons

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Ever been to a land where the air that embraces you hums and throbs with “Life”?

A land where the wilderness seeps in through the pores of your skin and conquers your heart.

A land where the splash of a single raindrop sends ripples through your entire being awakening senses you never knew existed.

Welcome to Thekkady.

Home to the richly diverse Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady lies on the Kerala- Tamil Nadu border, barely 4km from the picturesque Kumily.

It is a mere 3 hours away from Kumarakom- the village tourism destination which witnessed the rise of Responsible Tourism initiatives in Kerala, Alappuzha- the hub of backwater Tourism and houseboats and Munnar- the land which regales visitors with the history of tea plantations in Kerala.The Periyar Tiger Reserve with over 1965 flowering plants, numerous species of wildlife and a vibrant variety of birds is where Nature unabashedly flaunts her beauty and grace.

 The way the artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam reflects the myriad hues of green and entwines it with serenity is in itself disarming.

Situated on the northern boundary of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, deep in its dense forests, is the ancient Mangaladevi Temple. Made of huge pieces of granite, it stands at an altitude of 1337 m above the sea level embalmed in spiritual aura.

Yet another jewel hidden deep in the Tiger Reserve is the Lake Palace Resort. This century old palace was the summer retreat of the erstwhile Travancore kings. Today travelers stay here to take time off from the world to listen to the call of the wild. Thekkady offers travelers avenues for a wide range of accommodation facilities to choose from- both pocket-friendly and otherwise.

Be it praying at this mystic temple, trekking through the Tiger Reserve, Boating in the lake, bathing in the waterfalls, bamboo rafting, exploring the tribal life, art and culture, savouring the Village Life Experiences, enjoying the Elephant Safaris, pursuing the tiger trail or camping in the Jungles, Thekkady is sure to make you return to its embrace over and over again.

 

Draped in simplicity and adorned with grace, Thekkady is not just a destination. It is an experience in itself. Nuzzle into its arms, take a deep breath… and let go…

[A script written for a film on Thekkady.
Agency- INVIS MULTIMEDIA
Client- KERALA TOURISM
The video of the same title is available on You Tube]