Sri Lankan Tour: Galle Fort and Talpe

Two places I enjoyed a lot during my visit to Sri Lanka was Galle fort and a place called Talpe, close to 10 kms from Galle.

Talpe Railway Station

Talpe 
The railway station at Talpe reminded me of the one depicted in the famous book ‘Malgudi Days.’  We were the only people to get down at the station. The station master and his pet dog received us, only two souls present at the station. There was interesting wooden time table that had the schedules of the trains that had stopovers. 3 trains stops in a day.

Cantaloupe Aqua resort, Talpe

Talpe has beautiful beach resorts. Clean, no pollution and less crowded. The place is almost like how Kerala was some 20-25 years ago. I stayed at a resort called ‘Cantaloupe Aqua’.

 

Galle Fort

Galle Fort

Galle fort can be defined as Fort Kochi + Extra clean + less crowded + very nice people . The place is very similar to Fort Kochi in Kerala, India. Sea side, lots of shops, pavements, very humid and of course lot of tourists. But they have maintained Galle fort and nearby places very clean.

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Sound Factor: The Sound People Of South Indian Cinema

With two real ‘PULIs’, Vishnu Govind and Sree Sankar of Sound Factor, leading sound designers in south India. Their notable works are Pizza, Neram, Premam, Soodhu kavvum, Jigarthanda, Oppam, Kali, Take Off to name a few. Within a very short span of time ‘Sound Factor’ has done quite a few memorable films and become the most sort after Sound designing company.

Recently they were awarded for their work in the super hit Tamil film ‘Irudhisuttru’ by  Behindwoods.

They have a handful of exciting projects coming up both in Tamil and Malayalam.

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The Life Of A Marathon Runner!

I was absolutely a normal person in mid 30s, just like anyone else, and one fine day I happened to read this post of my friend Neville j Bilimoria and it changed my life.

‘Run for your neighbourhood’ challenge!

The news came in a neighbourhood paper, encouraging people to join the training programme for the forthcoming chennai Marathon (2013). I got curious and decided to attend the training programme. I was part of ‘Pettai Rappers’, one of the 15 running chapters of ‘Chennai Runners’. It was in September 2013. My first run was a 10k Chennai Trail Marathon run organised by Chennai Trekking Club.

During the training I first signed up for 10k at the The Wipro Chennai Marathon that was to happen in the December but as I progressed in my training program I changed my target to Half Marathon (21.1 KM) and 2013 Wipro Chennai Marathon  was my first Half Marathon. I will always cherish the moment I touched the finish line and someone handed over me the Medal.

How the life changed once I started running Marathons?

More Sunrises!

For the first time in my life, I started getting up at 4:30 AM on a regular basis. The run would start at 5:00 AM.

Early to bed

Because you have to get up early, you are forced to hit bed early. You need to have atleast 8 hours of sound sleep then only you can run the next day.

Traffic Less and clean and fresh air!

Because The run would start early and mostly on the city roads (Chennai), you breath fresh air and run on the roads that are traffic free. A great way to start the day.

Eat Healthy

Running completely changed my food habits. I cut down eating junk, fried items and sugar. Eating out has become a rarity. Started eating more fruits and healthy food.

Places

Another interesting thing that happened as a result of running is when ever I visit new places, I make sure to look for opportunities to run there. North paravur – Cherai road is one of my fav running routes, it’s cool, windy, and breathtakingly beautiful.

New friends

A typical running group comprises of people across age groups and also from different walks of life. You train together, run together, share tips on running, help each other. The group is like an extended family.

Gym and Biking

In order to improve your running speed, you must have a strong core. So I started hitting gym for the first time. Also started cycling for cross training.

Marathon is like Meditation!

Yes, almost. When I run its like I am meditating. The mind is calm and clear. Its a great way to start your day.  During my run I plan for the day. Best of the the ideas comes to my mind while i run.

15 Half Marathons and counting!

So its been 4 for years and 15 Half Marathons. And I am still running. Now busy training for two forthcoming Marathons. One in July and one in Aug (my first Hyderabad Half Marathon).

 

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K.P. Namboodiri’s “Dantadhavanachoornam”

One of my strong associations of my memories of grandpa is rather unusual one, K.P. Namboodiri’s “Dantadhavanachoornam”, in modest terms, a brand of Tooth powder. It was my grandpa who introduced me to K.P. Namboodiri’s brand and he was a strong advocate of this brand. I should admit that I stopped using the product long back and conveniently switched to Tooth paste. Years passed and I almost forgot K.P. Namboodiri’s.

Now my younger brother,  uses the same K.P. Namboodiri’s Tooth powder. I don’t know how he switched over from toothpaste to toothpowder. During one of my trips to Kerala, he asked me to buy one tin of same brand (This was when he used to be with me in Chennai). Seeing me buying “Dantadhavanachoornam”, my friend also bought one tin of this brand. He said that he was a regular user of this brand and some how lost in touch with this product.

Now this brand has undergone a complete change, in product innovation, Branding, design and packaging. The old sober and not so attractive look has gone. Present packaging is more stylish, trendy and handy also.

I am convinced that at least some section of younger generation likes to use age-old brands that too when lots of substitutes are available in the market

As Old habits die hard, can we say old brands die hard?

The Film Song Book!

How many of you used to collect the book containing the lyrics of Malayalam film songs? I used to. So recently when i had to visit a book store in my hometown, i happened to see these books. I got curious to know whether the book had my brother’s (Shabareesh Varma) songs. Went through the index and found ‘Premam’. Got excited and bought the book.

 

 

First saw the ‘Malare’ song then ‘Pathivayi’ and ‘Kaalam Kettupoy’ songs. So far so good. But the excitement turned to shock when i saw the ‘Aluvapuzhayude Theerathu’ song. The name of the singer(S)! One of the interesting facts of songs of the movie ‘Premam’ was that there is no female voice in any of the 9 songs, forget about a duet. But look at the names of the singers! They made the song a duet! P. Jayachandran and Rajalakshmi! But in reality the song was a solo sung by Vineeth Srinivasan.

Now I thought of gifting the book  to my brother! I have second thoughts now, whether to gift it or not! This would be the expression of his seeing the singers’ name of “Aluvapuzhayude”. The book is now hidden in the Garage!

 

 

 

#MalayalamFilmSongs #Premam

A Roadtrip From Kochi to Baroda and Back

So when my uncle asked if we could travel to Baroda via road I got excited and readily agreed. We started planning, calculating the kms, check and book hotels, where to halt. Its a 3 days trip one way, close to 1700kms from kochi to Baroda, passing through 4 states (2 UT excluded). The vehicle was Mahindra Bolero.

Kerala

In Kerala, the roads are bit narrow, compared to other states. Then the state is thickly populated. You can say entire state is like a town. You see people everywhere. Even in Highways, its difficult to drive in good speed.

Day 1: Our first stop

By the time we reached Vadakara, it was breakfast time, close to 10 AM. Found an Indian Coffee House near the bus station. Indian coffee house is always a nostalgia. I still remember visiting ICH at Cherthala, along with my Grandpa! My favourite at ICH is the cutlet.

 

 

Mahe, also known as Mayyazhi, is a small town at the mouth of the Mahé River and is surrounded on all sides by  Kerala. The Kannur District surrounds Mahé on three sides and Kozhikode District from one side.Formerly part of French India, Mahe now forms a municipality in Mahe district, one of the four districts of the Union Territory of Puducherry. Mahe has got its own charm! Mayyazhi puzha, the small lanes! The police with round cap!

 

Day 1: As we cross the border! Kerala-Karnataka Border. By around 4 PM, we crossed Kerala and reached Mangalore in Karnataka. Even though, there is no much difference in the terrain, there is a huge difference in the quality of roads. The roads are broader and well maintained.

Murudeshwara! Our first stay! 

By the time we reached Murudeshwara, it was already dusk. So we couldn’t enjoy the beautiful beach and the temple. Murudeshwara is a town in Bhatkal Taluk.  Murdeshwar is another name of the Hindu god Shiva. The place is famous for the world’s second tallest Shiva statue and for the Murdeshwar Temple. Believe me the statue of Shiva at Murudeshwara is massive. Surrounded by sea in 3 sides, the view is breathtaking.

 

Day 2:  We started off from Murudeshwara early morning. The travel through villages in Karnataka is quite memorable. The west coast is full of greenery and filled with magnificent beaches.  Now we took a detour and travelled across the state via state highway. Reached a place called Yellapur at Breakfast time.  Believe me, great innovations also happen at villages in India, you need to travel to believe it. In a small shop I found this interesting   assortment of Handmade soaps with biodegradable packaging.  Make In India, Truly.

Glorious uncertainties

Now the state highways are full of surprises. Most of the time they are cut across two villages. We encountered one bizarre traffic block at the middle of nowhere. We couldn’t identify the reason for the traffic block. There were no accidents or breakdown of vehicles. In minutes there were all kinds of vehicles, huge number of people dressed in colourful cloths.

Day 2: By the time we crossed Karnataka and entered Maharashtra, the entire landscape changed.  One thing I liked was the colour of The public transport buses I found while passing Satara, Maharashtra. Roads were very wide.

Now when we travel in National highways, whats the most trickiest of decisions to take is decide on how to overtake these massive trucks with 10s of tyres and they move at some 15kms per hour. Imagine 3 of them moving parallel. How do you overtake them? By night we reached our second day halt, Pune!

 

Day 3: Pune to Baroda

Really enjoyed the Pune-Mumbai expressway, good, wide road, with lots of tunnels 🙂

On Third day, by evening we reached Baroda!  When you travel, especially in India,you meet different cultures, people who speak different languages and the best part is you get to eat lot of varieties of food. This is amazing and is the best part of any travel.

Roadtrip to Baroda

Had a great fun travelling by road, experiencing new cultures, trying out some great food and of course meeting some wonderful people. Now we travel for this right 🙂

Image designed by Vijo Verghese

 

Poompuhar Craft Cafe

On  Mount Road, Chennai,  opposite to the iconic LIC building, is the main showroom of  the Tamilnadu Handicrafts Development Corporation (TNHDC, www.tnhdcltd.com, www.poompuhar.org), popularly known by its brand name “Poompuhar”. TNHDC trains artisans to help improve their product quality and provides them social security by marketing their craftwork.

On the same compound is an interesting entrance you can hardly miss. The entrance is adorned by exquisite and intricately carved bronze idols. A huge statue of “Nataraja” welcomes you to the “Poompuhar Craft Cafe”, an innovative and interesting themed cafe conceptualized and executed by Dr.Santhosh Babu IAS, CMD of TNHDC, and his team.

The Cafe

The entrance, corridors that connects the cafe with the entrance and the walls are decorated with Bamboo. There are various artefacts and idols that add grace to the ambience. For the past 30 years, the place was used as a dump yard. Tremendous efforts have gone into converting the dilapidated go-down into what it is today.

 

 

The Food

Ms. Mital Surendira of Sanskrriti runs the cafe.  “Here you will get the best traditional vegetarian Tamil cuisine that probably you won’t get anywhere else in Tamil Nadu, thanks to the creative genius of Ms.Mital Surendra, ” says Santhosh Babu. As the tagline says Poompuhar Craft Cafe serves the forgotten flavours from Grandma’s kitchen. You will get the most authentic healthy and tasty South Indian delicacies of yore that includes the Tamil Nadu Meals and snacks.

So if you are a foodie and appreciate tradition and artefacts, ‘Poompuhar Craft Cafe’ is place you must visit in Chennai.

Devil Does Care: More Bang, Less Bucks! By Pravin Shekar

My good friend and an outlier himself Pravin Shekar has come up with a wonderful book on Marketing techniques mainly targeting Startup Entrepreneurs

An easy and engaging read with full of wit and wisdom. Book has the right mix of Interesting illustrations and examples that makes the subject easy to understand

The concept of Outlier Marketer is clearly described

Another highlight of the book is the witty one liners or quotes. Here is one for sample,

Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has at least two! And sometimes they stink!

A must read for those who want to excel in their fields, those who wants to become outliers.

The Kindle version of the book is available here

33 years of ‘Akkare’!

Akkare ‘was my dad’s short story, first published in Mathrubhumi in 1983, the year when Kapil’s Devils brought home our first Cricket World cup.

In 1984 Akkare hit the screens, directed by K N Sasidharan, starring Bharat Gopi, Mohan Lal, Mammooty and Nedumudi Venu. Akkare was selected at the Indian Panorama.

When I go through the story now, I feel the thread is still relevant.

E-Commerce Scene In India

I ordered a book on flipkart and gave my North paravur address. The guy asked me to come to the location where they had parked the delivery van. When I go there, I see at least 5-6 youngsters queued up to collect what they had booked. Goods varied from electronics to shoes to books. The funniest part is the location is the municipal shopping complex and when I look around I see a shoe shop and electronic shops

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