Upgraded finally !

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This is a bit late (about a month late) but what the heck .. Better late than never .. In Nov 2006, I had punished myself by getting the most basic Nokia 1100 .. Well finally 3.5 yrs later i decided to treat myself for hanging on to that phone safely .. I still have it .. ;) So i asked Janani to gift me a new phone.

I thought i would add on to my stupid 3.5 yr old creativity .. So i attach this much better image for you all to enjoy !

What better way to do this than from my new phone.

Sent from my Nokia E71.
Do visit my blog @ http://know-hari.blogspot.com/

Venkateshwara Kalyanam Event at Johannesburg

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I have been frequenting the Seshans last month or so. Venkateshwara Kalyanam Event was the primary reason that we were looking forward to and practicing regularly for. (Janani pulls my leg saying that the only reason is the wonderful food I get at the Seshans.) Seshan's sister - Meera was going to give a dance performance at the event. I was going to sing for that dance performance. Seshan's father had beautifully composed the song for the event. As simple and soothing as it was to hear it, it was equally difficult task to master the song.
Finally, last weekend (24th and 25th April, 2010), brought with it the Venkateshwara Kalyanam Event. It was held at Laudium. On the Day 1 many Poojas and Hoomams were conducted and it culminated with a Oorvalam [procession] of the Utsava Murthy by the devotees.
The Day 2 was when the Vekateshwara Kalyanam event actually was conducted. As a part of the celebrations there were programs - Music, Songs and Dance all through the event. One of the event was the Dance performance that I was part of. I think that it went very well and was very well received.
It is said that "On this auspicious occasion it will be sacred and celestial if one perform or participates in the Kalyanostavam of the Lord Venkateswara Swamy and also read the episode of Srinivasa Kalyanam. It is said that where Venkatesa Mahatyam is read/heard, there, one will have good longevity, good health and good prosperity and finally that will lead to salvation."

Hope my above experience would lead to - longevity, good health and prosperity and finally ... salvation. :)

I know that's too bland a post :) … I would update it with more photos/videos if possible of my event.

Update: Thanks to Shruthi for sharing the photo of me singing. Will upload more as I get it ... Thanks again to Shurthi for more photos !!

Random (Special) Photos around my work location

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Taken from the Car Parking lot ...

The Building I work in ... Sporting a Nike Ad ...

Beautiful view from my seat in the office ...

As if it the above was not enough ... I just came back from office seeing this spectacle ... Rainbow ... You may say what's so special ! ... Well Rainbow itself according to me is a rare occasion ... And to see a full rainbow at that .... Another special ... This one that I just saw was a FULL rainbow .. So large that I couldn't capture it in one frame ... Well so I thought I would capture portion of it ... Just then I noticed that its actually a DOUBLE rainbow ... Now people may think that its not possible ... But here is a proof !!! Enjoy my couple of shots !!

Dont forget to click on the photos to enlarge it for a better view.

Till next time ... Bye !!

Tamizh Puthandu and Vishu

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Its 14th April tomorrow … Here in Johannesburg it is of no significance but back in India its Rongaali Bihu – the Assamese New Year (1st Day of Chitrai or Bohaag)); Vaisakhi or Baisakhi – the Punjabi New Year (1st Day of Vaisakh); Sinhala – the Sinhala New Year (1st Day of Chaitra); Naba Barsa – the Bengali New Year (1st Day of Baisakh) _ BUT the one that I am close to is the Tamizh Puthandu (or the Tamil New Year, 1st day of Chithrai) and Vishu – the Malayalam New Year (1st Day of Medam).

At home, it’s festive environment for us as we follow both the Vishu and Tamizh Puthandu tradition. The day used to start with the “Vishukkani” - an auspicious kani (first sight) at the crack of dawn on the Vishu day would prove lucky for the entire year. Vishukkani points to a year of abundance—both spiritually and materially. Food, light, money, knowledge—all should fill our life. This is a photo of our Vishukkani that we had last year. Wah … Sheer nostalgia !! :)
It is then followed by a bath, Puja and the visit to the temple. It is also accompanied by preparation of various food items. One that I love the most includes 'Maanga Pachadi', a sweet, sour and bitter dish made of raw mangoes, jaggery and neem flowers to signify different aspects of life. Wow … now, we never found the need flowers to add most times … But if we did then we added that in the Rasam and not in the Maanga Pachadi. :) .. My father usually loved reading the Panchangam (almanac) on that day – which mostly predicted all good things in life.

After that we relaxed at home – watching some new Tamil/Malayalam movie featured on Sun TV or Asianet. After overeating because its worth it … we had a nice afternoon nap … Wow … What a day it is ... Truly Bliss!! … Here in Johannesburg I would be in office, like any other day !! Sigh !!!!!! :(

Anyways ... Happy New Year !! Happy Vishu !! Tamizh Nal Puthandu Vazhthugal !!

Review: Invictus (2009)

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A friend of mine had been telling me about this movie for sometime. So I decided yesterday that I would finally see it for whatever its worth. I had no clue as to what it was all about. After seeing the movie I can say that I am so moved and inspired by Madiba (Nelson Mandela is also known as Madiba). What an inspiring person he is!

The movie shows how Nelson Mandela (played by Morgan Freeman) used the Rugby World Cup as an event to get the blacks and whites in South Africa together.

I feel that post 1990s if South Africa could avoid the Civil War situation and is where it is today - it is only because of the farsighted vision of Nelson Mandela. Even though in the 1960s Nelson Mandela embarked on violent forms of political struggle (only when all else had failed) … when he came to the position of power, he decided to take the entire nation together. Some of his quotes below,
  • “Brothers and sisters, this is the time to build our nation!”
  • “The Rainbow Nation starts here. Reconciliation starts here. Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.”
It’s a beautiful scene where Mandela manages to convince a meeting of the South African Sports Committee not to change the Springboks team, name and colours as he realizes that such an action would instead drive a further wedge between the two races.

Mandela also shares with François Pienaar (Captain of the National Rugby team played by Matt Damon) a poem, Invictus, that had been inspiring to him during his time in prison, helping him to "stand when all he wanted to do was lie down". I share the entire poem here for everyone to be inspired.
Invictus (meaning Unconquerable in Latin)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

- William Ernest Henley
At one point in the movie, Francois Pienaar is himself in awe and says “I was thinking how a man could spend thirty years in prison, and come out and forgive the men who did it to him...”

It’s a movie that leaves you with a “wow” factor and inspired. I feel that Madiba has the inspiration and energy of Mahatma Gandhi in him. I get wonderful feeling after seeing this movie in South Africa – guess I was moved more since I was here when I saw the movie.

My attempt at mini-idlis (with Sambaar)

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I just came out of a long weekend (4 days) ... I had decided not to go anywhere this weekend ... Strange but true ... I decided that I'd atleast eat well while at home ... My father had sent 3 mini-idli tattu (plate) so I decided that I would try to use existing resources to make idlis in Johannesburg on my own ... Ofcourse, with inputs from India :)
Its actually very simple ... we need some whole urad(Muzhu Ulundhu) and Rice (Par Boiled Rice) for making the idli dough. Surprisingly, I found whole urad(Muzhu Ulundhu) in Shaiyonna in Mayfair St and Tastic already has its Par Boiled Rice - so with the main ingredients available I decided to make idlis ... All the mamis are now wondering "how did he grind it" ... Well, I tried to use the blender at home, and to my surprise it did pretty well ... :) So here’s the recipe for you all ...

So with a ratio of 2:1 of Tastic Par Boiled Rice: Whole Urad(Muzhu Ulundhu), I soaked it water for about 6 hours. Then I ground them (Rice first and Urad next) into a fine paste and mixed it together, added the required salt and allowed it to ferment in a warm environment for about 12 hours.

At this time it’s pretty cold out here in Johannesburg so - Tip: Warm your Baking oven for 30-45 seconds at some high temperature and there you have a warm place even during winters … :) … Also place the container on some thick cloth so as to insulate it from the metal below.

Hopefully, after 12 hours of fermenting your dough is ready for use. So grease your idli tattu (plate) with some oil and pour the dough in it. Take some water in a cooker and put the idli tattu with the dough into the cooker and close the cooker. Important: Never keep the whistle when making idlis. If you do - you wont get idlis .. and what you get you would have to name it yourself or probably it may not be worth naming. Anyways, after 10 mins of steaming your idlis are read to be served with Sambaar … that is, if you have made sambaar - I did :). I will share the recipe for that some other day.
One more Tip: Take a spoon with a sharp edge, dip it in water and then use that to take out idlis, they would come out well – without sticking to the plate.

Last tip (Comes from my father): Soak and add a little Avil (Beaten rice otherwise called Poha) along with the rice while grinding it. This makes the idlis better and more softer.