Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Short Story : Alamu's journey into the world of Ramayana - Part 2

Here is the second part of this series

Alamu's Journey into the World of Ramayana - Part 2

by Vatsala Dorairajan

Story so far...

Alamu, a young girl, begins yet another journey in her dreamland. This time She is transported to a strange place where squirrels speak and young boys run errands and collect firewood for their Guru. She is hiding from the view of the squirrels and the boys, and listening into a rather intriguing conversation --

"What a tiring day! Let us quickly take rest under this tree. Would you like to have some fruits?" said the elder of the two boys. The other one replied in affirmative, and both started munching the fruits from their cloth bag. There was that wonderful glow on their face that one couldn't take their eyes off them even if they wanted to. Alamu was no exception to this. She watched them without batting an eyelid.

 "Bhraata, hurry up, we need to collect firewood and firesticks and return to prepare for tomorrow's lessons as well" said the younger one to the other. "Sure, I have almost finished my fruit, just give me a few more minutes" said the elder. The two boys had distinctly different complexions, the elder a little darker and the younger one a little fairer, inspite of them clearly being brothers. "Ok-kay bhraata!" beamed the younger
one, "what was it that Acharya mentioned today? It was a very interesting comparison, isn't it?" he continued. "Indeed" came the reply again. The younger one was clearly the more talkative of the two thought Alamu.

 "But although we just learnt it, I am not able to recollect it clearly. What was it about Tamasa river, that Acharya mentioned?". With an affectionate smile on his face, the older of the two boys said, "After Devarishi Narada told him about the story of Rama, Acharya came to the banks of our Tamasa. And he was so struck by its clear waters, it reminded him of the minds of good ad noble people and he said --
 "Akardamam idam teertham Bharadwaaja Nishaamaya |
 Ramaneeyam prasannambu sanmanushyamanoyatha || "

"Wow, Tamasa was so clear at that time Bhraata? Like the clear minds of good people? Such a nice comparison!! I will definitely tell Amma about it." said the yonger one. "Tamasa is as clear and beautiful even today, my dear. And recounting to Amma is possible when we reach back home, so hop along my brother!", so saying, both of them quickly got up and left.

 Alamu's concentration on the subject of the conversation was broken by the commotion from above her and before she could realise, the squirrels almost ran over her to the spot next to the tree to grab the left overs from the boys' snack. She watched them pick up the nuts and left over fruits, and just then something happened. One of the squirrels snapped its paws and that tree started to turn. Instinctively clinging onto the nearest branch, Alamu saw the two squirrels make a lunge to the nearest reachable branch of the tree as it started spinning fast. Speaking squirrels, spinning trees, some river called Tamasa, Alamu was thoroughly perplexed where this was all leading to. Was this a dream? or reality? And not to mention the headache that she was developing due to spinning along with the tree. Just when she was about to cry out in pain, it all stopped. The tree had stopped spinning, and was now stationary near a stable of cows.

To be continued...

You can read Part 1 of this short story here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Short Story : Alamu's journey into the world of Ramayana - Part 1

Some interesting news - Presenting to the august readers of this blog - My 3 part short story - "Alamu's journey into the world of Ramayana",  a parallel of the famous novel "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Caroll  -'s_Adventures_in_Wonderland

Alamu(shortened from Alamelu) is a young girl, who is known to often wander into interesting and intriguing places with help of Nidra Devi, the sleep fairy. Read more to know to about her experience this time --

Alamu's Journey into theWorld of  Ramayana   - Part 1

by Vatsala Dorairajan

That gentle cool breeze wafting just around her face while the sunshine warmed her feet made it feel all the more comfortable and cozy for Alamu to keep her eyes closed in sleep for some more time. It was a few minutes later, that it struck her that she had gone to sleep on the cold damp grass under her favourite mango tree in her garden and it was winter when she slept. But this felt warm and pleasant and cool, all at the same time.

 So what was this place? And where was it? Intrigued to know where the sleep fairy, Nidra Devi, had brought her today, she gently opened her eyes, sat up and looked around to see if she could identify anything or anyone around her. Before she could make any sense of the surroundings , “I wonder what Rishi Valmiki taught the brothers today”, squeaked a voice above her. “I just cannot wait to lay my hands on the nuts that are going to fall off their bags as they trundle along this path”, squeaked yet another voice. The conversation and the voices, both were very amusing to Alamu. A quick glance upwards the tree that she sat under, revealed that the owners of the squeaky voices were two squirrels, intently gazing at the row of huts just a little ahead along the mud path beside the tree that Alamu was sitting under.

 “SPEAKING SQUIRRELS!! “, totally awestruck, Alamu silently listened into their conversation. “Always nuts over some nuts!! Now pay attention, they will be here any minute now”, exclaimed the first squirrel. Just as the other squirel opened its mouth to lash out a retort, all the three's attention was disrupted by two beautiful voices humming “Rama Seetha Rama Seetha Raama Ram”.

 Are THESE the boys that the squirrels were so excited about? Who are these boys anyway? And Valmiki wrote Ramayana, right? How come these boys are learning from him? Questions upon questions were piling up on Alamu's mind, and her curiosity grew two times taller than herself. Containing herself, she watched intently as the two boys came closer to Alamu's tree. By this time, she had managed to hide herself behind it, so as to not get noticed by anyone else. Settling down nearby, the boys began to talk.

To be continued...

The other news good news about this piece is that it has been accepted for publication in the latest(January edition) of a newsletter of a Pathasala dedicated to South Indian Religious Tamil Literature.

The public link to the image version of the published article -

The public link to the entire newsletter (English content is from 5th page) -

The blog post of the Pathasala linking to this particular edition of their newsletter  -

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why a nameplate does not make a brand

This - is a poor experience that I do not wish on my enemy. But the sad reality in India is that we go through such experiences every day. It is abnormal if someone does their assigned task without requiring a reminder,a nudge, a raised voice, a yell, and an outcry in that order.  So whatever Volkswagen may have been or even now is in Germany, the people manning the stores in our India have been recruited from the regular pool of common people. And hence it doesnt matter whether you are a Volkswagen or a local garage wala, unless you are willing to lung it out with people to get something done that rightfully should be yours, nothing is ever going to move here.

The curious case of Vishal Gondal's Audi loitering about on the streets when it was supposed to be at the service station is also under the same category.

The fact of the matter is that for a brand to give that feeling to you, there needs to be a synchronized commitment by the people(who form the organization) towards the customer - Right from the door man standing at the gate of the showroom, to the store manager, to the regional sales head, to whatever designation the big boss of the company holds. Because the spirit of the brand starts in the heart of the people working there, and then reaches the customer only through them. What name plate you hang in front of your store matters much less. An Audi board with heartless behaviour is worth nothing whereas some random "Batliwalla & Sons" with high customer orientation is a multicrore business proposition.

Think about it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

today's Environment,Health and An Immune India tomorrow

In the last 60 years since India became an independent nation, many things have changed. The country's outlook has changed. Economy has changed. New Industries have come up. New companies have come up. Style of working has changed. And with all this few very important things have also changed which are going to define our tomorrow.

1. Environment - The climatic conditions, the amount of green cover around the country, the soil texture, the water table, the increasing use of chemicals (pesticides,fertilizer, today chemicals are even used to ripen the fruits on the day the shopkeeper decides to sell the fruit)

2. People  and their lives - Mindset of people has changed from "I need to keep things carefully and preserve them" to a "I can get a new one if the current item is not around" - A consumerist mindset and increased level of affluence has become the norm today. In addition to this, the society has become highly performance oriented. There tremendous pressure to achieve and deliver results across age groups and across professions, even children.

And because of these two factors, today, the entire brunt of this is taken by the human body. With vegetables having much lower nutrition levels, and a polluted environment, a child's body has to fight hard to cope with the pressures of school and extra curricular activities and demanding parental expectations today. And it is going to be even more so, in the coming years. Hence it is very important to ensure a healthy body, for which a good immune system is essential. But how to strengthen this, when all external conditions are averse to this? This is where our ancient knowledge about herbs comes handy. It is time to revisit the value of the various herbs that grow in the nooks and cronies of our nation and harvest the best out of them.
Like Aloe Vera, Tender coconut, methi  for its cooling properties.
Like Mustard Oil to keep warm in the harsh winters of the north.
Like Henna,shikakai and reetha that condition and shine the hair just like that.
Like taking chyawanprash and pepper tea when seasons change to protect yourself from seasonal flu and fever.

These are small things, and cost very little, but go a long way in building immunity.
After all immune children today ensures a Bharat immune to diseases tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How to connect Facebook Page to Twitter and Twitter to Facebook Page

I was recently working with Facebook pages at work and I needed to connect the posts on a Facebook page to a twitter feed and vice versa.

Connecting the Facebook page to Twitter feed is pretty intuitive, Facebook autoprompts you to do this if you havent done it within two days of creating your page.

This post is about connecting a twitter feed to a Facebook Page, Which is not so intuitive.
After a bit of googling I found this blogpost and it really helped.
What it does not say clearly/explicitly (or may be the workflow changed with the ever changing interfaces at the two websites) is that initially Twitter will connect to your Facebook account i.e. your personal Facebook Wall only. Thats alright, just go through the app permissions,etc and let it return to your Twitter settings page. Once back, you go to Twitter ->Settings -> Profile. As you scroll down, there will be a section for Facebook, with the text "Allow Twitter to:" there if you uncheck the boxes post to my Facebook Profile, it will give you the option to check post to Facebook Page with a list of pages associated with your profile that you can choose from.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Visit to Kolhapur - June 2013

We decided to do the trip by Train in order to keep costs down - Booked tickets in 3AC. It costed Rs1050 for two persons one way. The train number is 11023 Sahyadri Express for Pune(PUNE) to Kolhpur(KOP) and 11024 for Kolhapur(KOP) to Pune(PUNE). We booked our train tickets exactly one month before the travel date.

The train leaves from Pune at 10.30 PM and reaches Kolhapur around 6.00 AM. From railway station, we proceeded to the hotel – Hotel Maratha Regency(, a 3 star hotel – This was the hotel that fit our budget and hence while booking, we considered it a gamble and were open to face any kind of experience. But now after completing the journey, I will say that this Hotel is pretty decent and gives good value for money. The rooms are clean, and spacious. The bed linen were clean and smell free, and the toilets were clean and good too. And the best part on top of all this is that, the staff are very very courteous. Not only that, this hotel is exactly a kilometre's distance from the Kolhapur Railway station. It costed us 30 Ruppees and less than 5 minutes to reach the hotel.

A front view ( this is from the hotel's website) -

After consulting, We quickly got ready and proceeded to Mahalakshmi Temple for Darshan – We left at 7.15 AM for Darshan, by auto, which cost us 50 Ruppees. The temple is about 4-4.5 kms from the hotel, i.e. inside the town. While on the way to temple I noticed some boards saying “Yatri Niwas” which were closer to the temple, should try them out the next time.

At the temple, the queue was short. Even though one is not allowed to stand in front of the diety for more than 2 minutes, we had darshan  of the diety 4-5 times, by re-entering the queue, going around the inner complex of the temple; which the temple staff are ok with as long as you dont create a blockade while praying in front of the diety. It was a very peaceful and energizing darshan.

After collecting some momentoes(mostly photos and milk pedha offering), we returned to the hotel for breakfast, as we had a bed and breakfast booking there. The breakfast spread consisted of Idly Vada Sambar, bread butter jam, and corn flakes and milk. Being a tamil myself, and wanting to eat local food, I ordered for Sabudana khichdi and some Poha apart from having a taste of the breakfast spread. Having completed breakfast, we slept for two hours and proceeded to Phadtare Misal Centre for relishing some spicy Misal Pav, another culinary delicacy special to Kolhapur(or so I have heard). It was noon time and a long queue and Phadtare. This Misal Pav shop closes at 1 PM so we rushed, and made it in time. From there we proceeded to the Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj's Palace cum Museum - – It was good to know about a Maratha king other than Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The palace has detailed pictures of their family and also a detailed family tree about how this royal household came into being. (Photo below taken on Blackberry Bold)

We spent about 2 hours here and returned back to hotel at around 4 PM. We were planning to go for another round of temple darshan, but could not as I was suddenly down with temperature. We spent the evening relaxing in the hotel and left at 10.15 PM for the station to return back to Pune by Sahyadri Express. The train left on time from there and reached before time at Pune the next morning.

While roaming around in the auto to and from the various venues mentioned above, we crossed many inner streets of Kolhapur which felt a lot like the streets of Bangalore that I visited way back in the period 96-98(yes 1996-1998). The stilted houses, shops under road level, roads arched with trees, all re-inforced my understanding of how the Kannada speaking people's culture and the Marathi speaking people's culture are intertwined.

This trip was a good one day getaway on a very tight budget and in about 6k we wrapped it all up. My fever played a spoilsport and prevented us from exploring. Hope to discover this region some more soon. Until then so long.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A corpus fund for Travel

I am finding that the cost of travels for me is growing and is becoming a restricting factor while taking decisions whether to attend an event or not( be it tech related, or personal or whatever). I am hoping to find some way by which I can and will continually contribute to, at the same time it would be something that will pay me back at frequent intervals.

Any ideas and suggestions in this directions are welcome. How do you fund your travels? Looking forward to your insights.