Varkala: The Beach and the Cliff

With its long coastline, Kerala is certainly not short of its beautiful beaches, and the names which everyone knows and is full of visitors at all times might be Kovalam and Cherai. Muzhappilangad is our lovely drive-in beach to remember. On that long list, there is one place which stands tall. Varkala Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches, one which is not to be forgotten. It is the only beach in Kerala with cliffs like these so close to the sea. It is the kind of place which reminds one of Dover Beach, and that wonderful lyric poem by the English poet Matthew Arnold, which we have studied more than once – “the cliffs of England stand, glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay”. About 170 km from Cochin, and 35 km from Kollam, the beach is Thiruvananthapuram district, with its capital 45 km from there. The town of Paravur is only 12 km from the place.

Along with its beauty, Varkala also have some places of spirituality with its temples. There are some fine options for food while walking through the cliff. There are some nice shots to be taken both from the beach and the cliff. In comparison with other beaches, this one has its shops opening late in the morning and closing late in the evening. When coming from the North of Kerala, both the Kottayam and the Alappuzha routes can be chosen. There is much to be seen through the latter route, even though both routes can be joined at different places except for certain parts of the low lying areas filled with water. There are some fine choices with food and accommodation, and if it is off-season, the better idea is to book directly from location as rooms should be available, unless some huge event comes up.

You look down from the cliff, and you want to be there right now.

Reached the hotel a little late for lunch, and had to rush through.

As the sunset approaches, you are always hoping to stay on.

Just another side of Varkala Beach which is not that explored.

Spent some time looking at Varkala beach and cliff at night.

The colours of the sunset spreads, and leaves us with a happy feeling.

Not exactly the while cliffs of Dover, but Matthew Arnold won’t mind.

Had some variety food from God’s Own Country Kitchen on the cliffs.

It is happy walking through the Varkala Beach and surroundings at night.

Thiruvambadi Beach Retreat Resort provided some good space.

Also read on the Indonesian Bali journey.

TeNy

Fantastico: The Lost Knight

Kung Fu Panda has been working part-time as the Vampire Panda in the castle for quite some time. Among the vampires who came to the Dracula Castle for the special degree in Vampirism, he was always considered among the brightest, not just in studies, but also for his work in the kitchen. He has been the one person who was needed at the kitchen every day, and he could even do all the work all by himself, as he was quick, and knew Kung Fu, even though he did eat a lot.

His special item has been the Bloody Noodles which was so red that it was often used in signal lights all around the vampire country. But he was finding it difficult to keep everything going along with his vampirism and Kung Fu. He was in need for an assistant, and that was rather a necessity. So, he gave an advertisement in the local vampire newspapers about the requirement for someone to help him in the kitchen. Among the candidates, there was one particular person who passed all the tests in first class with distinction.

Vampire Panda: What is this? I can’t approve of this at all. We are looking for people for help in the kitchen, and not someone who is to fight battles for us. There is a separate wing for that.

Sir Fantastico: But I am a cook. It is written on my resume. Didn’t you read it?

Vampire Panda: Then, you are you called Sir? Are you a knight or not? Is it meant to make things for complicated?

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Sir Fantastico: Well, my original name is something else. I took the name Fantastico because I am fantastic. I even call myself as fantastic and my tenth standard certificate also has that name; I got it changed. I used to take cooking classes for zombies. They used to call me sir, and it became part of my name. The jealous people say that the zombies said “grr” and not “sir”, but they just hate me and so I won’t believe that – neither should you, my dear sir.

Vampire Panda: I thought that you were named so because your name was Fantastic and O was your initial. But you have to prove how fantastic you are, through your work.

Sir Fantastico: I am very good. You will be sure about that soon. You will be knowing the meaning of my name.

Vampire Panda: I know the meaning, but it bothers me that you have a name like this. I feel like your name has been a major factor in making me take a decision about you.

Sir Fantastico: It is said never to judge a man by his name in a bad way, especially in the vampire world. I have heard about that. I know that you believe in those sayings because you are people from the old world.

Vampire Panda: You have heard it right. So, prove your skills by preparing some idiyappam and green peas curry. I believe that it will be quite easy for you.

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Sir Fantastico: I will be working on it. The idiyappam and the curry will be fantastico! I mean fantastic! There will be a special bloody touch to it too!

Vampire Panda: I hope it is so. Otherwise, the Great Count Dracula won’t be too happy. He will be at the great dinner hall to test the food soon. It will be better if you make it fast.

[Gets into the kitchen].

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of the movie, Hotel Transylvania.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

TeNy

Akshaya Patra: Feed a Child

I was sitting here idle not doing anything good with my life, writing something or anything. It was on such a day that Akshaya Patra really caught my attention for the first time when Nandhini, my fellow blogger friend told me about what they have been doing, even though I do read a lot of information about NGOs and did go through some of their work earlier. I also received an e-mail about their work and I was determined to place a widget/banner of them on my blog and go through the service which they have been doing.

Established in 2000, Akshaya Patra is a non-profit organisation which runs school lunch programme across India. From its humble beginnings, as of now, they are working in ten different states, twenty four locations, ten thousand eight hundred and forty five schools and serving 1.4 million children of our nation. Akshaya Patra dedicates its inception and work to the inspiring resolve of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as the organization takes over the fine vision that “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”.

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Akshaya Patra currently provides freshly cooked meal to children on all school days. This mid-day meal programme has a long history and we remember the mid-day meal scheme being introduced in Kerala in 1984 – the first of its kind can be traced back to the Pre-Independence era, but it will never be enough, and requires more and more help each day. The states covered by Akshaya Patra are parts of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

With its headquarters at Bangalore, Akshaya Patra attempts to make sure that no child has to skip school in case of an absence of food. It is a great idea in an environment when the children needs to go past hunger and malnutrition to reach their goals, along with what all factors that the society puts them though. Every child needs to study, and for the same, he or she needs to be free from the most basic problem, which is hunger. Education is the right of all children, and this surely helps a lot. Akshaya Patra has also won the 14th Mother Teresa Award in the Best NGO Category of 2014.

There are times when we want to do something good and we can’t because the situation doesn’t work in our favour. The opportunities to contribute rarely comes when we are looking for them. I was myself looking forward to see Akshaya Patra in Kerala, but it turns out that it isn’t there. Maybe it is because Kerala has its mid-day meal programme working well, and there are other places where the need is more and it is urgent. So, it is not that easy to do anything with Akshaya Patra staying right here, but in the case of the online option present, there is no such limitation.

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There is the option to donate online through this link and it takes just Rs 750/- to feed a child during an year with Akshaya Patra. The children in need can use all the support that we can provide, and there is no small amount. Spreading the idea through the social media profiles is another fine act because not many things match spreading the word through Facebook and Twitter. We bloggers and website owners can also help by putting a banner/widget of Akshaya Patra and spread awareness that way.

You can see samples of the widgets on this blog as well as at my other blog, Movies of the Soul. As most of us are not able to change the code due to being hosted at WordPress.com, we can use the widgets on the sidebars – nobody can predict the what can bring the chance, a blog post, a widget or a banner! It will only take a small space among the rest of the things on display. Together, we have the chance to make a difference, an opportunity that may not always be there. So, lets use it right now, as nobody knows what tomorrow might bring.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of Akshaya Patra

TeNy

Saving the World

Vampire Owl: Greetings, my dear vampire apprentices. I see that you are all prepared to take down notes. Today, I will be sharing a story which is about a great historical incident which happened in our realm of magic. It is that part of history which is often hidden from knowledge by our enemies, but we know it very well and I will use this one hour of class to talk about it. No werewolf, zombie, hobbit, dwarf, elf, goblin, orc or halfling will approve of it, but we vampires know. It is a small part of our syllabus, but I will further expand the whole thing. The story goes a long way back, and it is the tale of Uncle Dracula, our great vampire leader who saved the world from ultimate destruction.

Vampire Alligator: Holy Vampire Cat! This is going to be a horror class!

Vampire Crocodile: You mean to say that the world was really going to end? Do the humans know about this?

Vampire Owl: Absolutely not. They were always looking to go for wars and hate others. It has always been in their nature, and they never really cared about the world as a whole. They only care about a small division of their own species, and will be happy to see the rest of mankind die. They want everything for themselves and enjoy a life of luxuries. But Uncle Dracula was not like that. He was a man with a vision, and saved the world with a plate of Aloo Tikki and Vegetable Nuggets.

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Vampire Alligator: What? How is that even close to being possible? It sounds strange.

Vampire Raven: I have only known vampires saving the day with a glass of blood.

Vampire Crow: I believe that the day can also be saved by a set of fangs which are sharp enough.

Vampire Owl: It was a rainy day when the Great Devourer of all Worlds arrived near Earth. He was always looking for new worlds to have for dinner, and his new hop for some good food was here, on Earth and its connected realms. Our realm had the direct soul connection with Earth which meant that the creature eating Earth would indirectly mean the destruction of our world. The other races never really cared because they were always fighting each other. But we had to care; Uncle Dracula had to – it was the one event which established his on the Bloody Throne.

Vampire Hamster: So, did Uncle Dracula threaten to drink his blood?

Vampire Panda: I hope uncle beat him up. Didn’t he?

Vampire Penguin: Or may be he buried the thing alive before that creature even had a chance to start eating our world?

Vampire Owl: Absolutely not. You know, my dear apprentices, Uncle Dracula was never a violent man. It is the work of humans that has depicted him as such an entity. They always needed to show what they didn’t understand as evil. Our uncle always knew how to find a solution in the most peaceful way. It is the plate of Aloo Tikki and Vegetable Nuggets that did the trick, as I told you earlier. When the Great Devourer of all Worlds arrived, Uncle Dracula provided him with this plate, after which the creature turned vegetarian and comes every year with a smile to have this plate of food. This year, he will be arriving next month, on the third Saturday.

Vampire Alligator: This is such a huge surprise! I can’t wait to see this creature!

Vampire Owl: Well, take a break then. Have some of McCain Veggie Nuggets and Aloo Tikki and celebrate the great incident of saving our world.

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Vampire Panda: That is something which I find hard to resist.

Vampire Owl: Here are some McCain French Fries to go with the same.

Uncle Dracula [looking into the class from outside]: Well, the Vampire Owl does know how to bring smiles on the faces of our vampire apprentices.

Vampire Bat: I remember that you once told the werewolves, to make food and not war. This tale is real, isn’t it?

Uncle Dracula: Mostly, yes. But surely it is that much exaggerated as many other stories about me and the elder vampires happen to be. Still, the best way to bring smiles on the faces of our vampiric future.

***All the images used in this blog post belongs to McCain India – see the link for more details: http://www.mccainindia.com/

TeNy

What World Provides

It is a terrible world. We are judged by people for many reasons including our choices in what career we pursue, what we watch on the big screen, what we earn, what we browse on the internet, whom we worship, how much money we possess, where we live, what we eat, how we dress and similar things. No matter how much we try to be good, people will just judge us and try to put labels on us. Some of them use our personal opinions and interests against us to declare that we are bad or useless. It is a world which is not suitable for people with their own choices.

All the sadness in the world comes to us in huge baskets of disapproval. It only gets bigger as life goes on and on. We look for a smile and never find it, and then we look for a reason to smile and it is not there. Most of the people find faults and it is quite difficult for them to appreciate others; so it is not easy for us to trust them to bring the smiles. Even the relatives don’t really like us, and nobody tries to understand our situation. They never try to look at things from our perspective too.

It is a very difficult thing to bring smiles to our own face, as there is rarely anything positive that we find in the news that can do that. There is almost nothing that the people say to me that can make another happy. Nobody cares about the other, and the world is nothing but chaos or terror waiting to unleash. There is no freedom and there is no love. So, where can the smiles come from? How can we bring smiles to the face of others? Well, food can do that better than the others; it is a nice option.

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Well, taste has not always been a priority for me; neither has it been so with the choices. I still have my priorities about what I eat. There are two things that I love to have as part of my food, and they are paneer and potatoes. I am a big fan of Aloo Tikki and Vegetable Nuggets became my favourite due to the presence of potatoes. The smiles usually arrive when I see that the menu has somethiing like that includes a potato. This smile tries to come at all times, but it is not always there.

So, it is time to put a smile on the face of at least one person. In a world of hate, it is not something easily possible, unless it is about the artificial smiles. Thinking about the same, I had a look at this product called McCain Smiles. The mashed potatoes with happy faces make a nice effect, with smiles coming right from the plate. What we have to do after that is to eat the smiles with a smiles on the faces. With smile being reflected from the plate, the only thing that we can do is to smile back.

It is the smile that we forget and it is the smile that we find difficult to have. Remember those Milk Bikis Milk Cream Cookies which we used to have? Those were the biscuits which smiled at us. Then there were the Little Hearts biscuits which came up with the shape of a heart. They were consistent sources of relief to us at a time when people smiled and cared less. The same is with McCain smiles which brings the smiles on the packets as well as the products. There is a reflection of happiness right there.

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McCain brings extension to the smiles with Aloo Tikki and Vegetable Nuggets. The Chilli Garlic Potato Bites brings more smiles to what already exists. When you look at the Super Wedges from McCain, there is another addition. Potato Cheese Shots takes the same further. With McCain Cheese and Jalapeno Nuggets, the smiles are taken to the next level. Still, there is no smile like what McCain Smiles brings for us.

***The images used in this blog post belongs to McCain India. Check this link for further details: http://www.mccainindia.com/

TeNy

A Few Extra Smiles

It was one of those days at the Dracula Castle with lesser darkness and more people. The clouds were still approaching from a distance. Dracula was not present, but the rest of the team as well as the zombie minions were around, searching for the new plans to make an attack on the werewolf stronghold to the north which was blocking the trade routes. After a lot of opinions thrown around, Vampire Bat had made a list and was preparing the final map for the grand attack.

Vampire Hamster: Enter Vampire Owl, from the land which has a name which I forgot a few months ago.

Vampire Owl: I was talking to the zombies in the graveyard and was surprised to hear something. Is it true that Uncle Dracula has turned full vegetarian after the recent root canal procedure?

Vampire Bat: I have heard some talks about the same too. He hasn’t been around the castle for some time and didn’t talk about drinking blood after the dental procedure.

Vampire Owl: I am not surprised about it at all. He always thought that the immortality extended to his fangs, and unfortunately, it didn’t. There was no such thing as immortal teeth. The elder vampires used to brush the teeth really well and so they have kept themselves away from dental problems. Uncle Dracula argued about it even after having the root canal done, and kept saying that the root canal never happened and everything is just an illusion brought upon us by the Witches of the North. What is it that you have heard?

Vampire Bat: I have heard that some products from McCain India were given to him and that brought a smile on his face. He proclaimed himself a proud vegetarian only after that.

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Vampire Owl: Are you sure that it is not a rumour? The dirty werewolves create more and more rumours and our zombie minions spread them without second thoughts.

Vampire Bat: Not at all. It was from some of the reliable sources. They say that he even asked for more of the food.

Vampire Owl: I believe that he had the Vegetable Nuggets during that time. There is big chance for the same, as it reflected what his wife prepared for him in the last phase of immortality.

Vampire Bat: Yes, along with the McCain Aloo Tikki, as I have heard. He proclaimed it as a great vampire discovery and the true hope for the future of vampirism in all forms. Then he had French Fries like his life depended on it.

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Vampire Hamster: Forgive me dear sir, but Sir Dracula turning vegetarian? This is surely news. But I don’t understand. It is not supposed to happen under normal circumstances. There has to be something else which has caused this.

Vampire Owl: You are not supposed to understand this thing. It is special and also more a thing of taste.

Vampire Hamster: But I would like to have the McCain Smiles to have the smiles on my face. Potatoes in the form of happy faces brings the happiness in me.

Vampire Bat: The decision on making it our official food remains with Uncle Dracula, but I am going to add this to the list.

Vampire Owl: Then there is the Chilli Garlic Potato Bites and those crispy Super Wedges. They look good. It is a fine list to bring the smiles.

Vampire Hamster: When I possess more hunger, I will have the McCain Veggie Burger. I can smile then too.

Vampire Owl: You haven’t seen the Cheese and Jalapeno Nuggets yet, and the Potato Cheese Shotz. That should bring you enough hunger.

Vampire Hamster: Now, that makes me hungry. I shall take leave now.

Vampire Bat: I see that you have left him on a great food trail.

Vampire Owl: The whole vampire team is turning vegetarian on the path set by Uncle Dracula. There are a few movements which have started in support. I have no doubt about the success of the same at least up-to an extent. Actually, there was one question which I really wanted to ask. When was the last time you smiled?

Vampire Bat: I don’t remember. It should have been a very long time.

Vampire Owl: Neither do I. Lets look for the lost smiles with McCain India.

***The images used in this blog post belongs to McCain India, taken from their website: http://www.mccainindia.com/.

TeNy