Best of the Best !!

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I was looking at my past photos and I was pretty impressed at the number of vacations that we have managed in the past. Janani and I make it a point that no matter what we would definitely vacation for atleast 1-2 times in a year .. we have been pretty successful in that. I am presenting to you some of my really beautiful pictures that I have taken during my various vacations.

1. Mahabaleshwar: This is one beautiful location that we have done multiple times either together / with various friends and we have seen all the "points" so mant times that we see no "point" in visiting Mahabaleshwar anymore :) ... Three photos taken during various visits 2007 to 2009
2. Mangalore: Have two very beautiful photos that remind me of this very memorable visit in Dec 2007 to Mangalore and to one of my favourite resorts Summer Sands, Mangalore.
3. Chiplun & Guhaghar: This was in July 2008, where we explored this vary beautiful location half way between Pune and Goa. It was a scenic treat to just drive in our new car from Pune to Chiplun & Guhaghar and back.
4. Malshej Ghat: Famous for its waterfalls during monsoon, this visit to Malshej Ghat with our friends ramains one of the vary fun filled days that we spent in Aug 2008.
5. Kamshet Oct/Nov 2008. This one was as a part of an office "offsite" (Picnic - in IT terms). Apart from the team building activities that happened, it offered me and some of my colleagues an opportunity to go for a small trek (where I captured this beautiful photo.)
6. Saputara: We took this weekend break in March 2009, to explore this not so popular spot just in the border of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Had a nice break and captured this view from my hotel where we were staying. Also I captured this photo that I call God's blessing on the way back from Saputara that I really loved.
7. Goa: July is our regular break time as it comes loaded with my birthday and our marriage anniversary. So finally in July 2009, we made it to Goa after years of planning and postponing it. A nice visit where we had another beautiful couple of friends to give us company. Pasting one of the photos that I took there.
Hoping to have more such memorable vacations in the future !! :)

3 Years and Counting …

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If you are looking for the Pongal Celebration post … Scroll down to the previous post …
I completed 3 years in Accenture on the 17th January, 2010. My wife sent me a mail congratulating me on the feat. And then I got thinking and I realised that it has been a journey full of ups and downs … and I have survived it pretty well … There was also a point in between when I was determined to quit ... but I held on somehow …
After joining Accenture in presales role, I up-skilled myself to get certified as a JAIIB (Junior Associate of Indian Institute of Banking). I then got trained in SAP for Banking and am now successfully executing my job as a Business Analyst part of a huge Banking Transformation Project in South Africa. I have come a long way in my career in Accenture and am thankful to all the people who have placed their trust on me and given me bigger and bigger responsibilities to take up.
I hope I see many more years @ Accenture.

Pongal Experience @ Joburg

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As the Pongal day approached, I was wondering if this Pongal also going to be one more of those uneventful Pongals that I had in the past … and more so with me being in Johannesburg I was thinking the probability of it going that route was higher. Then I suddenly got a friends request on Orkut from Poornima who got me connected the Tamil community in Johannesburg. It was a start of a nice friendship and I also got to know that her husband also works for the same bank as I was working for in Joburg.
Poornima put me on to Seshan who was organizing the Carnatic Music Program for the Pongal Program. I decided to put my singing talent to some use. The Pongal program was to be organised on a weekend (17th Jan, 2010) as the pongal was falling on a weekday.
I went for a practice session on one weekend before that (at Seshan’s house) and I happened to meet the core organizing team (set of Tamil families settled in Joburg) and it was such a warm environment that first time I felt “at home” in Johannesburg. I also met Poornima and her husband Srinath there. After the practice, Poornima-Srinath invited me to their house for an evening snack. After that we went on to play a game of cricket. After years, I played cricket and it was so much fun to play with friends like them … I was really feeling at home and among close friends. Thanks again to Poornima for getting me connected.
On the actual Pongal day, 14th Jan, 2010, I was at Seshan’s house for a final round of practice with other singers and musicians: Charmine – female lead singer, Pooven Pillay – Complete musician (violinist and singer) and Venky (on Mrugangam). To my pleasant surprise, after the practice I was invited for a complete South Indian dinner – Aruchuvitta Sambaar, vegitable curry, Rasam, Curd rice and last but not the least Chakkara Pongal. I was so thrilled that its beyond words … Almost had happy tears :) .. Thanks Suchi for that wonderful dinner and making me feel so much at home!!
So on Sunday (17th Jan, 2010), it was a wonderful program. The program was organized at the Radhe Shyam Temple in Sandton. It started with the traditional cooking of Pongal in a pot … There was also a small Pooja while the pongal was cooking.
Pongal is a dish prepared with rice, dal, jaggery, dry fruits, sugar and milk. All these ingredients are traditionally cooked in a new clay pot in the open and allowed to boil over, signifying plenty and prosperity for the year ahead. At this point, everyone shouted “pongalo pongal ” in unison. Such a celebration I would probably not even get to see in India .. :)
The program started with a beautiful presentation by Chander, on how Pongal is celebrated in India. It was then followed by some programs of some kids … They were really cute in their fancy dress …
After that there was a Bharatanatyam program by some Local Tamil kids … part of a group called the Shivoham.
Then was the Carnatic Music program which I was a part of …
There was also a music program which depicted the tamil film songs right from the 50’s-60’s to the present. It was wonderfully rendered by Chander and a young Bengali girl … I was amazed at the skill with which she sang Tamil songs. Not to mention the wonderful voice Chander has …
There were some more dance programs where the ladies participated … It was also very nice but I missed taking photos because while I was enjoying the program my hands and mouth was busy enjoying the food from the stalls that were serving Puliodarai, Biryani, Vadai Sambar, Pongal and Curd Rice. Update: Adding pictures that i received from others to make up from the moment that I missed capturing … Will add more as and when I receive them … :)
It was a day filled with fun and frolic ended with a Game of Tambola (or housie). The program was wonderfully hosted by Srinath. Overall, the program was wonderfully arranged and executed. I felt like it was a great day where I spent time making some good friends and having a lot of fun. I hope to have many more such functions that I can be a part of in future.

Why is life not “Avatar” like ?!

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Avatar … AVATAR … This is the start of a new avatar of Cinema … And from the beginning till the end … I was struck by only one consistent feeling … a feeling of pure awe … The pure magic of 3D that James Cameron and his amazing team created in the movie was so awesome that the real world started seeming boring to me after I came out of the movie …
There was not a moment in the movie where I was not feeling this special feeling … a feeling that one gets after watching something so special that one feels that one is fortunate to have been able to watch it. Such a pure feeling of happiness and contentment that (words fail me) … I can only thank James Cameron and his amazing team for providing the world with this amazing piece of art.
I keep saying “James Cameron and his team” is because when you see this movie you do see the vision that James has to present to us (and that is really appreciated) but it would not have been possible without the support of his amazing animation artists and other technicians who were part of this movie. The movie is not about performances of some wonderful actors and a great director … It’s the sheer hard work of the animation artists and other technicians (who believed in the vision of a wonderful director) that has brought to us this great awe inspiring spectacle to us. Kudos to each and everyone of them.
It’s a definite case of an Oscar for the best movie. They better start a category (or have they already started) where they appreciate the efforts of the animation artists and other technicians of this movie.
I just came back after seeing the movie and I can tell you that instead of hitting bed after a night show here I am typing down my first feelings about the movie to post onto my blog.
There is no need for me to speak anymore about this movie .. all I can urge everyone is that … please go and watch the movie in a theatre in 3D (not on some pirated CD/DVD) … And share the amazing feeling that I have felt today.
Is this also a way to stop movie piracy through DVD and CDs ?? … “Make such amazing movies that would be a waste to see in any other media other than watching it on the big screen” … watching it in any other mode would be a loss of experience .... Whatever !!!
Why did I take so long to catch this one !! If anyone has missed the action please don’t wait anymore and WATCH AVATAR IN 3D and SHARE THE AMAZEMENT !!