Kings and Queens of Grass

The break between the two Grandslams is over, and it is Wimbledon time now. You see the same on Star Sports from the evening onwards. As it started on the 29th, the one big event which happened on the first day is the exit of Lleyton Hewitt. He made his Wimbledon retreat with what would be his last defeat there, as it was the final appearance of him at the stage. He was twenty one years old when he last one a Grand Slam and when he won his only Wimbledon, and now he is thirty four, the age which Roger Federer will reach in a month and a week.

He exits after a big fight against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen with the score of 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9 giving one last marathon on grass. He was one of those very few names which I knew at a time when I was not that much of a follower of tennis, and we will miss him despite the man not making it to the final stages for quite some time. The rest of the draw remains open, and it won’t be easy to predict this time too with the finalists, but Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams remain the favourites. About the Women’s division, it is a Serena domination all the way with a lesser chance for Maria Sharapova, but Men’s side go deeper!

Novak Djokovic: The man in form, the world number one, and the defending champion – anyone will find it easy to bet on Djokovic. He is four thousand points clear for the World Number 2 Roger Federer and six thousand points away from the World Number 3 Andy Murray. He has got more than double the points compared to the rest of the tennis world lead by Stanislas Wawrinka who had beaten him in French Open. Well, the loss at Paris will only make the Djoker stronger, and this is also a surface on which he is better. He also defeated the King of Clay at his own surface and it is a big positive defeating both Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray and losing only to the man who defeated Roger Federer, that too after finishing a marathon five-setter on the previous day.

And there is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity.

There is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity to do even better.

Roger Federer: Even with Novak Djokovic doing nice with his time at the top and is sure to move to number five in the total number of weeks at the top as well as the total number of consecutive weeks as number one, Roger Federer is the one at the all-time top, and has no challenge to those records for quite a long time. He still remains the big name, and at Wimbledon where he was the last year’s finalist and having his favourite surface as grass, he is a powerful force too. He almost made it in the five-setter at the same place last year, and after winning Halle for the eighth time, the confidence level will be higher. If someone is to win Wimbledon when almost thirty four, it has to be him. He will still have to go through the winner of Murray-Nadal match and then face Djoker/Stan in the final.

Stanislas Wawrinka: The chances of this man increased considerably after the French Open victory, which was nothing less than unexpected. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were the favourites followed by Roger Federer and Andy Murray along with a few French men who were supposed to do good, but this man from Switzerland was never in most of those lists. But he has changed things around, and now, he is all prepared to get one step closer to that Career Slam because French Open was always the toughest title to win, and had the habit of eluding too many fine players. He is going to find this one a nice opportunity, and with that powerful backhand, may be he might overcome Djokovic again as the two collide in the semi-finals if things go as predicted.

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Wawrinka will be at the highest level of confidence after the French Open win.

Andy Murray: The crowd favourite goes into the tournament with another grass win as he went to French Open with those clay wins. This time, things are sure to be more difficult as he has to defeat Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to win the title if things go as expected. Stanislas Wawrinka in the final will also be brutal with Stan never losing a Grand Slam final and being at top form. Having a Karlovic ace challenge at Wimbledon just before the quarter finals can tire him too. He needs to get back to being one of the Big Four, and he is surely trailing. He has had two Grand Slam titles, and has been runner-up six times, each and every time facing Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. He needs to get back and become part of that Fantastic Four, and Wimbledon is his right opportunity despite the final parts of the draw.

Rafael Nadal: The King of Clay faces the same problem as his nemesis for the quarter finals, as he has Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the last three matches of the tournament, and Stanislas Wawrinka in the final will also be no smaller challenge. It is a free run for him until the quarters though, and it is the one thing which can boost his confidence despite going down to the two digits in ranking after a long time and can easily go further down with not many big titles in his pocket. He is not defending much from the last year, and so he should use this opportunity to get to a better rating so that he will have a better quarter finals for the next Grand Slam, and a Nadal without injuries does have a chance even in this tournament.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Pages of the tennis players.

TeNy

Celebrating Inspiration V3.0

I have blogged much more this year, and about seventy percent of the posts on this blog were written and posted this year, that too with half an year still to go. In the 179 days which have passed so far, I have did more than 180 posts. I have only recently got to 250 posts, and a lot of it has come in the last six months or so. From December 10 last year, I had decided to speed up things, and I have made sure that there is no day without a blog post or two.

I was tired with all these by April. March had something special for me with winning the BlogAdda contest “The World Remade” for the India Today Conclave at Delhi. March twelfth, my birthday was spent in three cities, Cochin, Mumbai and Delhi, and the month was a great one. But it came back down in April, and things came down further with nothing happening with my life expect for eating and sleeping. The energy for blogging was slowly disappearing.

The credit for bringing the inspiration back goes to Archana, who blogs at Drishti: The Gaze with her husband Desh, and has provided some of the most interesting ideas on a wide variety of topics. I haven’t seen a better blog with a husband and wife writing together, ever. There is a lot to learn from the blog, and the way in which it goes on with its ideas inspiring and spreading knowledge is worth the applause. She has been on my IB list of bloggers for more time, but we have been friends on Facebook from April.

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A lot of people whom I know are not aware of how much I blog and there are people around me who think it is a waste of time. Well, sometimes I think that it is very clear for them that I am wasting my time not just in life, but also with the blogs, as someone has brought to my attention during my recent visit to my ancestral home. The advice is always to stop doing the blogging and do anything else. So, the need for inspiration only increases day by day. It is where Archana has been helpful in the last few months.

What Archana and Desh have been writing about at their blog has been very much thought-provoking, and when it is not doing that job, it is inspiring the other bloggers to write more and more. I have been going a little bit lazy about blogging for some time, especially because at one point, I had extra articles left in my computer to post for the next one week or two. Every time when I seem to go towards the end of my collection, I think about not writing, but Drishti and its frequency of posting has been a big inspiration.

Archana has been among the most frequently commenting bloggers on this blog, and in the last two months only, she has become the one with the third most highest comments on my posts. She is also the only person whose blog is not hosted on WordPress to comment with this high frequency. She has also been always there being among the first people to promote my blog in more than one platform. Now, it is some fine support which does motivate a lot to blog more.

She has also been there to clear those blogging doubts. She was also the one to introduce me to Blogmint, and she has told me that it will be very useful to me in my long blogging run. My favourite post from her is a Haiku, titled Beauty and the Beast, and her Haiku and Short Story Collection has been inspiring me to keep writing. The whole vampire team has acknowledged the same. I have also been inspired by the travel related posts from Desh on the Breath-taking Natural Wonders despite traveling so less these days – I rarely see such clarity on blogs 🙂

I’m blogging for #YouMakeMeWIN to honour a blogger who has influenced me and deserves to be nominated at WIN15.

***The image used in this blog post is also taken from the WIN15 activity from BlogAdda. #YouMakeMeWIN

TeNy

ICH: Our True Lifeline

Whenever we have travelled around Kerala in a car or on a two-wheeler, there was always the need for a place to have tea at regular intervals, and there was surely the need to have food. We couldn’t have food from here and there, because nobody can say for sure how good it is, especially by the quality. You might see the best looking restaurants, but there no guarantee about the quality, especially when wandering through those areas were there are no friends to recommend the best places.

The oldest memory that I ever had of a restaurant which still exists, goes back to the Indian Coffee House, even though that branch at Perumbavoor no longer exists, with another branch opening about eight kilometres from there instead. At that time, I used to say that I wanted to visit an Indian Coffee House, and any of those branches would do, because they were all the same, and there was quality. I had already visited every branch in Ernakulam district long before I was a teenager.

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Indian Coffee House is spread all over Kerala, as it has the largest number of branches in the state. It has evolved into being the best choice of the Malayalis all around. It is fully owned by the employees of the restaurant chain as a co-operative society, with a committee elected for management. The biggest encouragement for starting this chain of restaurant goes to the popular communist leader of Kerala, A.K. Gopalan who was a leading social activist in the state. You can see his portrait at every branch of ICH.

With its fifty year anniversary celebrated in 2008, this group of restaurants having its headquarters at Thrissur has its most number of branches there itself, along with the same number at the capital city of Trivandrum. Considering the branches from Thrissur to Trivandrum, they have the same price everywhere. The northern version of Indian Coffee House from Palakkad to Kasargode is kind of different, even with the structure remaining the same. You can notice the difference on the logo itself.

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Even though the Indian Coffee House from Central Kerala to the South which covers eight of the fourteen districts has been more of the thing of concern for me, I have found the quality very good in both cases, as I have tried both. The Thrissur based ICH does have the Poori Masala factor available at all times, which was replaced by Idli, and that too only in the morning for the Northern based ICH. The choices were less in the latter case. For the former though, most of the things shown on the menu are available throughout the day.

Lets get back to the Thrissur based ICH completely which deals with the Travancore-Cochin area, and you can actually check the rates from their website itself. After it opened a branch at Aluva, it had become our regular place to have some tea. I was highly disappointed when the branch at Muvattupuzha was closed, and it is quite an addition to the earlier shock given by the closing of their restaurant at Perumbavoor. Well, now Perumbavoor surely needs one, but not at that earlier location which is too crowded.

I would say that the best branch opened is at the Angamaly Bus Station, which is a very nice choice of location, as the town now got three of them. I have the opinion that each and every bus station, railway station, theatre and mall should have one Indian Coffee House near enough. Also imagine having one near those pilgrim centres. They have the best people serving food in their trademark clothing, and having the fine quality food. With the low costs and tasting nice and exactly the same in each branch, ICH always scores.

***The images used in this blog post were taken during some of my visits to ICH.

With love for the ICH tea
TeNy

All About the Food

I haven’t been too interested in food these days, as the taste has bothered me less; but still I have my favourite places for every food item, both the vegetarian and the non-vegetarian, as well as the drinks. This list is based on the restaurants around Aluva and Perumbavoor, on the north eastern side of the city of Cochin, and are part of the Greater Cochin Area or the extended Kochi Metropolitan Area, within fifty kilometres from the centre of the city, and not more than an hour and half journey from the city unless there is the worst traffic problem.

Masala Dosa is the best at Anna Gowri Restaurant, Aluva – I have found the right combination of both the masala and dosa with the quantity being exact, rather than having too much masala or just those huge potatoes which make it only a potato dosa. But if you want some special varities of the same, you might want to try the Saravana Bhavan at Perumbavoor which has Paneer Masala Dosa and a good number of special ones available after twelve PM, and the menu changes every day. The Idli there is nice too.

Navya Bakers brings the need to travel to Aluva and watch movie there.

Navya Bakers brings the need to travel to Aluva and watch movie there.

For the Ghee Dosa, the Dosa Corner at Perumbavoor is a very nice choice, followed by the Annapoorna Restaurant at the same place. For Vegetable Biriyani, I have always tried the Kammath’s Inn at Aluva, while for Poori Masala I have preferred the Shenoy’s Restaurant at theh same town. For all kinds of Oothappam, whether it is of onion or tomato, I have always preferred Anna Lakshmi restaurant at Aluva, located at Desom to be exact – it was my best find during my times at the Union Christian College.

The best Biriyani Rice or Ghee Rice and the best Beef Biriyani is from Orma Restaurant, Perumbavoor, followed by the Honeywell Restaurant at the same town. The favourite in the case of Chicken Biriyani goes back to Aluva, at the Grand Restaurant while the best for all kinds of beef curry, especially Chill Beef goes to the Surya Restaurant at Aluva. The best curries of chicken was from Taal, a restaurant at Aluva which no longer exists, much to my disappointment.

The best tea is from Indian Coffee House, and as far as I know, they have the best coffee too. They are also the best when it comes to the cutlets, and they are close to the railway station and the bus stand at Aluva, which makes them an easy place to visit. Then there is the hope to have shake, and it should be the Navya Bakers at Aluva which can also boast about having the best Vegetable, Meat, Egg and Chicken Puffs – and they are like my all-time favourite bakery along with Ceecee which has its existence at Perumbavoor, followed by Kumars.

Ceecee Bakery has had a long "cutlet" relationship with my childhood.

Ceecee Bakery has had a long “cutlet” relationship with my childhood.

From Aryaas at Aluva and Perumbavoor, there is also that nice combination of Fried Rice and Paneer Butter Masala. The new restaurants just keep coming, especially at Aluva, where there are so many more than those which had seen a few months ago. It just adds to the confusion about where to eat from, and even having tea has become more the confusion. We have often stood on the side of the road worried, as there were just too many options to choose from.

The doubts about food; we can never really move out of it. Indian Coffee House has been one entity – that chain of awesome restaurants which solved that problem up-to an extent. But the chain no longer works in Perumbavoor and Muvattupuzha which has left a big void on the MC Road, as it never existed at the next towns Koothattukulam, Kuravilangad and Ettumanoor either. Let’s hope that we can make a good list about the restaurants which are around the major towns. Who knows when we need to have that tea and some food? 😀

TeNy

Gone in Three or Four Days

This post is exactly on what the title seems to talk about. There are these movies which were removed from the theatres too early. Except for London Bridge which had an extended run due to star power even if not too much, the rest had almost no stay at the local theatres. This is based on the theatres near my place, and if it had a better run at your area, you can take them off your own list. Some movies deserved better fate, and these might be a few of them. It doesn’t matter what we watched and what we liked, because movies don’t deserve to be removed in less than week. Well, those which might come close to be deserving to be removed, run for months and collect one hundred crores or more!

Ozhimuri (2012) :: An actor who has been frequently seen in supporting roles, Madhupal might be the most talented director of our times, as he has only directed two critically acclaimed movies, Thalappavu and this one – the former was amazingly good, and I wanted to watch this one for the same reason. But when I went to the theatre after the weekend, it was gone! Seriously nowhere to be found and gone in three days? A movie which had so much of critical acclaim and all these awards replaced by something like Raaz 3 without the 3D? We also missed Lal’s best performance due to the same.

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Arike (2012) :: When it is a movie directed by the veteran Shyamaprasad and having Dileep as the major actor, you expect this movie to stay, but unfortunately it didn’t. The movie was replaced too quickly, and it had to make people ask that question – if this can happen to movies with artists of such fame, what can happen to other good movies without such big names? Well, this is a question on which people can ponder about, but the answer is a long way from where the Malayalam movie industry or any movie world in India is standing right now.

Karmayogi (2012) :: This movie is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet – do we need more reasons to know why it needed to stay in the theatres? Gone in three days and giving us no opportunity to see another Shakespeare adaptation, the one thing which I have to say is that, if this is a Shakesperean adaptation, it needed to stay, at least for us literature students to watch. If it had stayed, we could have convinced the rest of the people in the department to watch it, but the trend is rather to remove the movie because of the name “Shakespeare” – it is rather shameful.

Makaramanju (2011) :: An year later, I would never even know if Akasathinte Niram (2012) ever came to the theatres. But Makaramanju which dealt with the life of the famous painter Raja Ravi Varma’s life had also gone without staying there for long enough. I am not sure if it actually released here at the same time as the release date, but Karthika Nair’s Malayalam debut didn’t go that well, even though I am still looking forward to watching this one and Akasathinte Niram one day.

London Bridge (2014) :: This one was somewhat saved and seemed to end up with average business in the end, only due to that level at which Prithviraj Sukumaran was staying at that time – with his movies Celluloid, Ayalum Njanum Thammil, Mumbai Police and Memories – there was that belief that the new and stronger Prithviraj can’t go wrong. I loved the movie, but it seems that the general audience didn’t do that much. But it deserved to be watched, and could have done even better at the box-office. My review on the same is here: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/london-bridge/

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Reason for coming up with this post: Lukka Chuppi (2015) :: The reason for writing this post itself is the Jayasurya-Murali Gopy starrer Lukka Chuppi which disappeared from the theatre when I went to watch it. I had decided not to watch it on the first day first show and went for Nirnaayakam instead because the themes seemed to be related to drinking and lost love. But it turned out to be a missed opportunity for me – may be we need to watch and support these lesser known movies earlier. Also add Appavum Veenjum to the list.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Pages of Ozhimuri and London Bridge.

TeNy

Kerala District 007: Ernakulam

You know which district comes to the mind when you see KL-7 on the number plates of a vehicle. The district can’t be determined by the plates any more, but the number seven remains. Ernakulam was the first cent percent literate district in India and has two universities, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit and Cochin University of Science and Technology. It also has a high number of education institutions and rightly claims to be the commercial capital of Kerala. It is also known for its beaches and also has a good number of religious places of high significance. Lets just check six of the tourist destinations in the district right now.

Paniyeli Poru
It might be the closest big destination having so much greenery as far as the people visiting the City of Cochin are concerned. With the closest town being Perumbavoor at the tip of the Greater Cochin area, this is exactly the place you might want to go away from the city, but still connected to it. There is one low-floor KSRTC bus from Perumbavoor to this place of great natural beauty. There are big trees all around, and you can walk on the sides of the river Periyar, through the streams and on the rocks as you enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. The water here is dangerous though, and care is needed in case of getting in, and rocks can be slippery. It is around fifty five kilometres from the City of Cochin, thirteen kilometres from the nearby town of Perumbavoor, and twenty four kilometres from Cochin International Airport.

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Kodanad
You should know this name. Most of the people I know, including the foreigners know, and so if you don’t know it yet, do realize that this place has been a big name in the list of tourist attractions when I was a kid. Located just eight kilometres from the nearest town of Perumbavoor, this is actually on the way to Paniyeli Poru and can ne joined to make a nice combined trip. There is a park there, and the Elephant training center is very famous. Even though it interests the locals less these days as it has been there for a very long time inspiring too many visits, this is a much loved place by the people coming from far away. You can also check Abhayaranyam Mini Zoo at Kaprikkad which keeps the other animals; it is not too far away from there.

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Ezhaattumugham
A beautiful place which lies around the borders of the Ernakulam district, Ezhaattumugham is a peaceful place to spend some time with nature. It has so many similarities with Paniyeli Poru, and if you are going to visit the Athirappally Waterfalls, you might want to join this place and do a combined visit. The tourists are rather lesser in number and visits during different seasons give different feelings. Located just about ten kilometres from Angamaly, the nearest big town with railway station, and thirteen kilometres from Chalakudy, this place is also just around fifteen kilometres from the Cochin International Airport. When arriving from the Cochin city, it is fifty four kilometres, and most of the journey is through the National Highway.

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Bhoothathankettu
There is some special love for this place, as I love the name right here – bhootham means ghost, and the supernatural name had me interested in the place; there is also some myth concerning the spirits related to the location. Located just around ten kilometres from the nearest town of Kothamangalam and sixty four kilometres from the City of Cochin, it is forty two kilometres from the Airport. Originally known for the dam and reservior along with a small park and closeness to nature, the place has developed into a bigger tourist desination having tree houses, boat rides, shops, restaurants and other facilities for the tourists; it is still going through the development process. Also do add Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary to this visit or to the one mentioned below.

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Urulanthanni
No matter where or how you search for information, Urulanthanni is not a place which you can find with ease; not on the internet or not while talking with those people whom you usually meet. It is because Urulanthanni is far away from most of those places where you visit for a relief from the normal city routine. It is also because it is not that much explored by people of modernity. Urulanthanni remains a name which is not usually talked about among the travellers, but it is a place which deserves to. This is a journey right into nature. Read details at: https://theteacerebration.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/not-the-obvious

The waterfalls and all those green elements - that surely feels like Tomb Raider!

Fort Cochin
This one should be rather very well known. A journey to Fort Cochin shouldn’t be limited to one place. It should consist of four places – Fort Cochin, Mattanchery, Thoppumpady and Kumbalanghi, the last one being a tourist village and an island with so much of natural beauty – I certify the same. The second last one is on the way to Fort Cochin, and Saint Sebastian’s Church there, a heritage building and a famous religious structure, is worth your time, and you can also have a nice view of the lake from the back side of the building. The other two are rather the big names. Read details at: https://theteacerebration.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/never-say-no/

Santa Cruz Basilica - a structure that you wouldn't want to miss.

TeNy