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

Smile on a Face

I have always believed in Vegetable Nuggets. Along with the French Fries, these have been my favourite whenever I wanted to have something light for the stomach whenever I visited a mall or multiplex. They were quite cheap, and just like popcorn, could be eaten while watching a movie on the big screen or television. I also used to have them with the rice just like vegetable cutlet. So McCain Veggie Nuggets is the first thing that catches my attention here too.

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Then there is the Aloo Tikki, and these two makes life better. As we usually have vegetarian food for most of time, there are these two things which can bring the change when we are having some time out or traveling. There can also be some French Fries to go with these, but the two things become significant in more than one way. I have often wondered how life will be without these two things, and it is nice to see that McCain Foods India is providing them and making sure that they are better available.

Both of these items are not readily available close to where I live, and it is another case of misfortune. The options with the vegetarian food haven’t been much, and when they are here, it has been mostly about the South Indian food items. I have only recently known about the existence of Aloo Tikki as what it is, reminding me of the Vegetable Cutlet along with Vegetable Nuggets also doing the same. It has been different for the local bakeries and restaurants though.

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The situation always brought something like Onion Vada, Uzhunnu Vada or Parippu Vada instead of the rest as some light food. Even otherwise, it could only bring the Vegetable Puffs, Vegetable Burger or Samosa as the biggest variety which has been with us all these times available at the bakeries. Having the same food has been part of our lives whenever there was no non-vegetarian option. We still hoped for more variety, but never really had them around here.

This brings a smile to our faces as they are the perfect light food items to have at any time, with the tea or just having in hand as part of the food while traveling to that place where food is not easy to get. The two food items can also be combined with rice to make up for a possible vegetable curry absence. It is a nice combination to have, and it brings happy times as the side dish not only for the usual rice, but also for the Biriyani Rice or Fried Rice, with or without gravy.

So, these snacks need to be there whenever there is the need. The presence of the same when we are looking, will only make sure of the smile on the face. This is the kind of food that most of us having been waiting to have when the need arises, and it has been so for quite a long time. So, the happiness is when they become available a lot more and at many more places. In a world of chaos, may be we can at least be happy about the food that we desire for.

When it is all about food, we have our interesting choices. They are not the same everywhere, but there will be the very few which we will always prefer to have. When we succeed in having them, it puts a smile on our faces, at least at that point of time. It is among of those very few things which can make us happy in a world which holds nothing much for humanity other than depression and sadness as McCain India brings them.

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

TeNy

For the Restaurants

I have had a long history with the restaurants of my favourite towns, and I had already written about those five towns already. The restaurants at Aluva, Perumbavoor, Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam and Angamaly have been part of my life for quite a long time because they are part of the routes which I have traveled a lot. Yes, a good number of restaurants around the city of Cochin also got a big part to play in the same. Throughout my life, I have loved many restaurants and decided not to visit a few ever.

I have rarely hated any of the restaurants because I have always found one interesting item in one form or the other. Most of my favourite restaurants were vegetarian, with only a few exceptions in each town. I have already written about how much of an integral part of my life, Indian Coffee House has been. But talking about the restaurants, or at least most of them, there are a few things which I would like to see at all of them. I am sharing them here.

Try providing only the needed amount of curry: When there is only one person having food, I am surprised that there is so much of the curry being provided whether it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian. When I go outside with friends, if we are only two, we share one curry with the rice, Chappathi, Porotta, Appam or whatever we are having. This is the reason why I have some Dosa, Idli or Biriyani items which don’t require separate curry when I am alone. I am sure that I won’t be able to finish one full curry, but the restaurants can have the option of providing half-curry or sometimes even quarter-curry?

There Dal Fry which you see is usually enough for me and my friend :)

The Dal Fry which you see here with the roti is usually enough for me and my friend 🙂

Try not to make random assumptions: I have seen that many non-vegetarian restaurants bring Chicken Noodles, Chicken Fried Rice or Chicken Biriyani whenever we ask for Noodles, Fried Rice or Biriyani. This has happened to me on a number of occasions. There was a time when I had to chase the waiter to tell him that I actually meant Vegetable Biriyani only. This is really not fair. You can’t make me eat non-vegetarian just because the restaurant is non-vegetarian. I might have chosen this restaurant because of its location or due to the fact that someone who is with me wants to have non-vegetarian, and it needn’t be even chicken – it can be fish, mutton or anything else.

Make tea available at all times: Having anything cold might not be the right thing to do at all times, and so I would like to say, let there be tea! Yes, it has to be there all the time, from the moment the restaurant opens to the time when it closes. It has been a nice feature of restaurant chains like Indian Coffee House, but a lot of restaurants have failed to keep that property even as some combinations of bakeries and restaurants do manage the same. As the common man’s drink, tea should be available at all times, and at the cheapest possible price; it is rather a necessity.

Dosa means enough free sambhar, and tea at any time makes it better.

Dosa means enough free sambar, and tea at any time makes the situation a lot better.

Don’t hesitate to bring us the menu: Yes, please do bring that because even if you talk about what all are available in slower pace than that usual high-speed talk, we might not be able to follow that exactly as it is supposed to be. We might end up hearing something else, or may be you will just forget one name, and we won’t get that thing which we really want to have. It is really a loss on both sides, and lets keep things clear with the menu. Knowing the prices of all those things will also help. May be there can be a huge menu board on the wall like we usually see at the branches of Indian Coffee House – they are very useful.

Do have the restrooms for customers: Yes, this is very significant because when we are on the long drives, the presence of the same will only help to make sure that the customers make the visit. I have rarely been interested in visiting a restaurant without them, and hasn’t added them to my list of favourite restaurants. It is better to have them outside the restaurant too, or at least on the other side, quite far away from the kitchen. Some restaurants are really careful about the same, like the Carnival Food Court near Angamaly which maintains the cleanliness really well.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me only.

TeNy

The Banana Pedagogy

There is something about the new generation parents. There is usually no time for everyone these days, and for the rest of them, there are just instructions. It is a busy world and they are caught in that web of timelessness which runs through modernity. They work as if the life is based on a book, and also comes with a list of things to do and not to do. Even with all their lack of experience and time, they feel that they could do good, but it is nowhere close to being true.

What we see is a reflection of the method of teaching which is used in the schools and colleges, to teach and to consider the receiver as the one to just hear and obey what all are told to them. But with this lack of experience and time, one has to wonder if parents of this age can really afford to do that. The education system itself is already messed up due to the same. The solution is to be the one to care, and establish that connection with the children just like how a teacher-student should work.

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In a world where teachers are chosen from an outdated BEd course or a ridiculous question paper which tests luck in the form of test supported by reservations based on caste, community and religion, the education level is already going down, and so the goodness has to begin at home. You can’t trust what is taught anymore, because it is just forced down your throats. You can’t be sure about how well your child undergoes the thing which is called education even though a better and more suitable name should be something else.

This is the time when anyone and everyone passes the State Board Exams with free A+ and also with all the available vanity, envy and avarice, as you can see flux boards everywhere shamelessly boasting about the same. I have known many kinds of boasting, but what we see here is boasting from the government about more students passing, and from those related to the students about the number of A+. It is a clear case of the lack of values and the reflection of the fact that A+ doesn’t give one a better standard.

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In this age when students don’t even get their text books at the right time, the parents’ support is more important than ever. You can’t trust the internet with the pedagogy, as you end up being a dumb student from IIN believing everything which is seen on internet remains true throughout life. Yes, everyone passes the tenth from the state without studying anything these days, compared to that struggle which the students had to go through at the time when our generation studied. But what do they gain?

The students are left with no values or even less wisdom and there is more chance of going the wrong path with inappropriate friends, and so buddy parents become very important in the present world of chaos. They have to make learning fun and make sure that their children don’t deviate from the path which is the best for them. It is more of a need rather than what is wanted. There are a few such responsible parents in the present world, and some children are born blessed.

A parent can easily help a child in building a fine vocabulary and improving the knowledge in history depending on the knowledge of the person. There are also chances in the basic science and Mathematics. Childhood should be fun as well as informative. It can’t be forced like some other things. Children got to grow up, and it has to happen well; for the same, the skills of the parents and the approach which they follow, become very significant. It is based on the childhood that the rest are built.

Also look out for ‘Khuljyaye Bachpan’ from Kellogg’s: https://www.facebook.com/mychocos

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of Kellogg’s Chocos which can be accessed through the above link.

TeNy

One Sweet Alternative

It is already July! Time does run very fast! And you know the season! After a tough summer, Kerala entered the monsoon season a little late and has had its effects of the heat for a longer time just like having those pre-monsoon showers a lot more than the last year. Yes, the temperature has indeed increased in the God’s Own Country, and it also feels a lot more hot than the recent years. There is a certain amount of burning feeling in the presence of only a lesser number of trees, especially in the towns and the cities.

Summer might be the best time for having those sip-ups and ice creams, as we remember those days from our school-time. But it is not summer any more, and one has to wonder what is to have during these monsoon days. It is surely not those milk shakes which made us feel awesome during those summers. Even with the rise in temperature, the rain cools things down all of a sudden. So, what would replace the ice creams? Well, there might be many options with sugar content, but honey is a lot healthier substitute to the same.

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Honey makes sure that there are less calories involved and a better management of weight can be done; even skin got its advantages from honey. People spend too much time at the gymnasiums to reduce their fat and at the same time, they also end up reducing the weight of their pockets – not more fat wallets either. So, honey remains that fine source of energy and keeps you healthy and a bit more wealthier than having to go for fitness and eat those costlier things made of sugar.

Along with jaggery (known in Kerala as sarkara), honey can boast about its health benefits, and even above that, related to the lack of threats to one’s health. It is natural and is known factor that helps in digestion. Honey is known to make a difference in health not only in the Ancient Indian texts, but also in the Ancient Egypt as well as the Greek city-states. The ancient scholars from all religions were quite aware of the same, until science came up with other alternatives which were not natural.

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Honey is also one of the panchamirtham. You can find something about honey in most of the religous texts and also the derived works. The Native American Civilizations, especially the Mayans knew it and so did the Chinese. Mayans actually considers the stingless bees of Central America as sacred. The myths all around the world give a special significance to honey. It is also a known fact that in the grand surviving text from the Roman Empire, Naturalis Historia by Pliny the Elder, we can see that the author dedicates a lot of area for the honey and its makers.

Honey is often considered as a good choice to make the immune system better, and people often use it against allergies even though done without certainty. People with throat problems are also known to have more of honey. I have a good number of aunties here who are always telling their children to have more and more honey. Some of them ask whether they have actually had honey on that day before talking about anything else. Honey is often like something which removes the worry of the parents who are concerned too much about what their children are having.

Dabur Honey thus becomes an interesting and valuable substitute for all the sugar that we take in, and the substitute can stop us from moving to the high blood sugar status, but we are all going towards the same. May be there is a point to stop and shift to a better alternative. It is the healthy and balanced diet that we all need. But the question still remains if we can follow that. May be with Dabur Honey popularizing the same, and honey getting to be an even more popular thing, it is still possible to have a Honey Diet!

You can check out Dabur Honey @ http://www.daburhoney.com/

***The images used in this blog post are from the Facebook Page of Dabur Honey and are used only for supporting this post.

TeNy

Of Friends and Parents

We have friends and we have parents. Most of the times, they are too different from each other, and the gap will only increase with the rising difference between the thought procedures of people who belong to different ages. Kids talk differently to friends and parents, and it is needed considering the respect factor – but if if is too different, things change. Children say too many lies to their parents, and for some, friends are more significant part of their lives.

If we know any youngster well enough, we can understand how much they lie to their parents each and every day. Most of my friends used to tell me to inform that they are at my home if their mother or father called. But nobody really called me anyway, and that was a relief. The new generation wishes to lead the Carpe Diem way of life which means that they have to lie to their parents who instructs them to lead a certain kind of life.

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The problem with the new generation kids is that they think that they know a lot, and with the early relationship with the computer and mobile phone, they do know quite much. The parents are often proud of the same, but they can’t really accept the fact that the children is living life their own way and not listening to what they have to say. So, the distance between the parents and the children are further than it used to be a few years ago.

The children and the parents are mostly in two different worlds these days, or rather living in two planets which are so distant from each other. Unless the parents go into the world of the children, there can be not that much love for each other as it used to be. It is not easy to make the new generation children agree to your viewpoints, and for the same, the attention has to be given in an early age itself.

There are good number of little children belonging to my cousins – there are many of them, and a lot of them on the way. They have all been different in one way or the other, but in their attitude towards the elders, there is very less difference. It is what the modern age has provided us with, and it is what the parents should care about. Disobedience will only rise further if we become authoritative to them, as they will not like it.

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This is not something that have come across for no reason, but something that has been developed through ages. Neither the father or the mother has time for the children; earlier only one of them used to work – usually it is only the male who works or otherwise it is the female who is the earning person (especially in the cases of nurses in foreign countries); there were also the grandparents who helped with the same.

But unfortunately for now, none of these people have time. It is as if the time has been taken away all of a sudden and things have become too complicated. The children of this age requires bonding more than ever, and it is up-to the parents to do a good job being a friend and guide rather than the big authoritative figure. Children have to be taught with love and not with fear. Yes, one has to be strict, but not as a figure of horror. It has to be about “buddy parenting”.

Lets think more about the same and have some Chocos: https://www.facebook.com/mychocos

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

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

Guptaji Knows the Best

Vampire Owl: You are asking why should we have food from there? Reason one is that it is free food which should be given respect and the second reason is that the girl is so cute; she looks like Selena Gomez.

Vampire Bat: What? I shall do this alone, thank you.

Vampire Owl: You don’t want my highly intellectual ideas on food?

Vampire Bat: No, because I know that it begins and end with eating.

Vampire Owl: See, this is why I have to bite random people.

Vampire Bat: I shall just write and will let you read it, okay?

Vampire Owl: I shall wait, but you know that I am a busy owl. I need food.

[Stares at the wall].

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Let me come up with a flashback here. Kellog’s Corn Flakes has been my favourite food for quite a long time, and as a child I loved it. Then there was Kellog’s Chocos to join the party, and there were offers like free dinosaur toys with the packets. Everything was so good at that time, as there was nothing much to think other than to eat some Kellog’s and then again eat more of the same.

That was quite a long time ago, and Kellog’s still remains a favourite. Lets take the instance of Guptaji’s house. Everybody wants to have food from that one place which is Guptaji’s house. It might sound strange, but actually it is not that surprising, as long as our nostalgia is alive. There was that time when we friends used to have corn flakes together – that was so long ago, but still has not faded away.

Kellog’s and childhood were best friends, and now I am looking forward to the Sitaphal Cornflakes about which it is written on the Facebook page, and the related details are provided. Custard apple and cornflakes have never been my combination, and the one big truth is that I have never had custard apple except for in the form of ice cream – and walnuts make some nice addition to the same.

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Vampire Owl: What is this one? Apple Cinnamon Cornflakes? I will have that one. You should let Guptaji know. Look at the apples. I need to eat them right now. I haven’t rested on an apple tree for years.

Vampire Bat: You shouldn’t interfere. I shall bring a portion of everything. We are not going together because you are a Vampire Owl of the food.

Vampire Owl: I hope you do realize that the jackfruit tree branch near Guptaji’s house is our owl territory.

Vampire Bat: You should see this one. Cornflake Popcorn Clusters. I have never seen something like this before. See the combination? We can have them while watching one of those vampire movies with happy horror endings as serial killer murders them all. It is bloody new and looks so awesome.

Vampire Owl: Walnut Cornflakes Chocoballs! It is something that I have never seen. We should have this one with horror movies. Popcorn was always old style. Guptaji will have this one at home for sure because it is a special one.

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Vampire Bat: I have no courage to see any more. I am going to Guptaji’s house. There is a nice mango tree on the left side of the dining room. I shall go and hang from there.

Vampire Owl: I shall be around too. Let me know when the smell begins to make the impact, and my presence will be there! Guptaji, here we come!

Vampire Bat: Do have focus though; the aim is to taste, not to finish everything available there!

***All the images used on this blog post are from the Facebook page of Kellog’s (which I have mentioned below) from where you can get some interesting information about working with cornflakes too. With over one hundred recipes, Guptaji and family are ready to work some magic with you! How can we miss this opportunity? Check the following links for more details: https://www.facebook.com/anaajkanashta and https://www.youtube.com/user/kelloggindia

TeNy

Aluvaite Food Memories

After spending about fifteen years as an Aluvaite, there have been a number of hang-out places which have been among our favourites. Here are ten of them at Aluva (Alwaye) which were frequently visited by us. The status remains as of the last year of leaving the place. The choices haven’t changed much, but a number of new locations were added to the list. Here are the Aluvaite food memories 😀

1. Anna Gowri Restaurant: The Vegetarian side of the Mahnami Heritage Hotel has been our favourite choice for Masala Dosa for years, a practice which we started with a cup of tea a few days after its inauguration. It is close to two churches, and therefore it is easier to go for the mass and have food from there. There is also a lot of parking space even as the place is in the centre of the town. The rates are also good, and the location is quite beautiful. (http://www.mahnamihotels.in)

Mahnami and Anna-Gowri Restaurant at Aluva - on a rainy day.

Mahnami and Anna-Gowri Restaurants at Aluva – on a nice rainy day of Masala Dosa.

2. Surya Restaurant: We have always been big fans of this restaurant, and this has been our first choice for non-vegetarian food anyday, and the best place for any kind of treat or random get-together. What we had here was always Chilli Beef though, and the list of people whom I have introduced to that awesome curry are rather uncountable. It is always Ghee Rice/Fried Rice/Porotta/Chappathi with Chilli Beef with Gravy. This might be a little bit expensive for some, but totally worth it due to the taste.

3. Navya Bake Shop: Even as this place came late, it has often made one wonder why this was not at Aluva for such a long time. Aluvaites needed a bakery which made no compromise in taste, and finally it has been delivered (there was already an existence outside the town though). There are some incredibly awesome cakes available here, and this also my first choice for Puffs and Cutlet anywhere near Aluva; as Ceecee is to Angamaly. (http://www.navyabakers.com)

A shot of one side of the town from the top - the building-greenery combination ;)

A shot of the less crowded side of town from the top – the building-greenery combination 😉

4. Indian Coffee House: This is a place which needs no introduction. It is the biggest and the most trust-worthy restaurant chain in Kerala, and even as the branch at Aluva has got no car parking, we can always adjust. It is near the railway station as well as the KSRTC bus station which means easy access. Go through Aluva’s Sub Jail Road for this one. The best thing is that Poori Masala an tea are available throughout the day, and the cutlets here are speciality, especially the vegetarian one. (http://indiancoffeehouse.com)

5. Shenoy’s Restaurant: This is my most visited place for food, and I have known this place since school days. Located between the Pulinchode Junction and the Aluva Market, this restaurant has been part of my life, and the one place from where I had more food than most of the other places. It had a major role in improving my interest in Ghee Roast as well as Paneer Butter Masala. The best title should be “my first favourite vegetarian restaurant ever”.

6. Cho-Chote: This is the place where I had my first milk shake, and as far as I can remember, it was Strawberry flavour. It has remained a popular shake destination for years, and especially when we were thinking about some ideas for some random skit, we would have a shake, especially when the quota of tea gets over. There was so much of choice available here, and this one which was opposite the Saint Xavier’s College remained the first option for the same.

Every thought about Aluva takes you back the River Periyar for no reason :D

Every thought about Aluva town takes you back to the River Periyar for no reason 😀

7 + 8. Annalakshmi Restaurant and Kammath’s Inn: These remain parts of my food extravaganza related to the Union Christian College. Even as the former started later, the extension of the time at the college was there to be taken. Both these vegetarian restaurants had me interested in the Onion Oothappam and the Ghee Roast respectively. The Vegetable Biriyani was strong at both places too.

9 + 10. Annapoorna Restaurant and Grand Restaurant: These are two of the earliest restaurants I have known at Aluva. Here, the first one is vegetarian and the second non-vegetarian. The former has me always choosing Poori Masala an the latter has me going for the Beef Biriyani or Chicken Biriyani both being very good there. These two used to be the typical vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants choice for a long time.

A few special mentions are also needed for the special tea and marble cake at Home Bakers, the nice milk shake at Aluva Bake House, fine idiyappam at Al-Falah Restaurant, that Ghee Roast at Swami’s Restaurant, fruit shake time at MKS and the first few days at the KR Bakers. There are also a number of my favourite restaurants and bakeries which did close down, including Taal Restaurant, Thompson Bakery and Surabhi Restaurant. I am writing this blog post when I am very hungry, thank You 😀 All photos used here are mine as usual 😉

TeNy

Zeezee the Oracle

If you have time, please stop by to say hi and accept the love from the Oracle and High Priestess of the Tea World, known to most of the mortals as Zeezee, and in the immortal world as simply the Oracle Cat. There are not many things that she doesn’t know about, as I can remember her being omnipresent throughout our house and also knowing where we and the food happens to be at any point. She is indirectly related to the Egyptian cat goddess of war, Bastet.

Getting back to the mortal language, this is a cat which was born in one of the corners of our house before we moved there. It was always there, and we did see it more often than we would have expected it to, as it is known to make its presence felt. It is still more of a wanderer though, visiting many houses in the locality, and making sure that most of the humans get a glimpse of its face and hear its meow thing. It is grown up, but not quite as big as the average cat.

An older photo of Zeezee when she was mostly hostile

An older photo of Zeezee when she was mostly hostile

It is only after a few months being gone since we came to live here, that we noticed that it makes more noise than our television, and that it really wanted to get some attention and for sure, some food. Most of the time it just wandered around the gate making the usual noises as it was scared of the vehicles that pass through the road. It detects the sound of a car or bike from a distance and runs away very early. It was one of those days when it was running away.

Tiger biscuits and milk for the little tigress :)

Tiger biscuits and milk for the little tigress 🙂

So we decided to introduce ourselves to the stranger and put some milk on a plate and put it in front of our car. It was hesitant at first, but as soon as we were distant enough, it pounced and finished even the last drop. Then it went under the car and made it the new home, something which we realized the next day. Beneath the Chevrolet Beat was the new resting place for the cat, and even as it often jumps around and sits on the two-wheelers, beneath the car was the one safe place.

One of the many resting places of Zeezee ;)

One of the many resting places of Zeezee 😉

The demands have been rising ever since. It has been in more need as it now comes closer to us even as this cat never lets us touch it, and now it has Tiger biscuits with milk daily – seemingly proving that it belongs to the tiger family indeed. Well, it does have a few stripes. Its latest home is our old television stand which we use as the newspaper desk at the sit-out area. With some old clothes lying there, the place now serves as the official cat bed, a royal resting place.

"Trust me, it is going to rain - take the car" says the Oracle :D

“Trust me, it is going to rain – take the car” says the Oracle 😀

The problem is that we are basically vegetarian, and unless guests arrive, we don’t buy non-vegetarian. But we manage to get some bones from somewhere, and are always looking for some left-overs to feed the cat. It quickly responds to the sound “C” or “Zee”, and therefore we decided to call her Zeezee. Nowadays, it is less scared of us as it wanders around inside the house and gets out to rest at its favourite places. It is now part of home.

We are trying our luck at growing some fruits and vegetables – it is indeed a good feeling, but there is nothing like having a cat. I haven’t actually felt that any other creature can be as cute and as admirable as a cat, and I am glad that I finally got one without much trouble. Nowadays, Zeezee spends her time hunting spiders, cockroaches and lizards, saving the house from such intruders. I do hope that I can have a little black kitten too and name her Agniezska Radwanska 😀 Looking forward to that day 😉

*All photos taken by me using my Samsung Galaxy Duos.

TeNy