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Purple Sky

The blue, pink & purple of everything under the sky

YouTube and TV series for preschoolers

Every baby nowadays seems to be having a smart phone. I guess now we cannot just wish away tabs and phones from the hands of children; we have gone way past that. Infact nothing works on a cranky toddler like a video when we are at the pediatrician’s office waiting for our turn. Atleast what we can do is give them quality content. I’ve done a lot of searching and watching myself. So I am going to list the ones I’ve found useful in terms of fun and education (in no particular order)

Super Simple Learning – YouTube

There are many many many channels on YouTube offering their versions of nursery rhymes. But I’ve found a lot of them too loud, bright and basic animations without much creativity. Basically videos ripped off from the numerous educational CD available in the market. But this channel has reimagined all nursery rhymes to integrate additional learning aspects into the song. For eg Row Row Row your boat has an animation of a couple rowing through the different seasons, and along with the seasons even the couple grow older. Soft music, rich animation and meaningful bodies are the hallmark of this channel. Also their associated website has printable learning materials that can be used in conjunction with each song. So this one has a big thumbs up from me.

Octonauts – TV series

This TV series is about a group of anthromorphic animal rescuers, basically rescuing sea creatures. It has whimsical characters like a panda chief, a penguin nurse, a bunny mechanic, a pirate cat etc. Octonauts is not just fun, but each ten min episode is packed with a lot of information about water creatures, water bodies, natural phenomena underwater etc and introduces concepts in a simple manner perfect for preschoolers. Also, teamwork, appreciation, problem solving are themes integral to the show, so hopefully children will absorb these qualities subconsciously.

Dinosaur train

Not as fun as octonauts, nevertheless a good one. It has all the information about dinosaurs, the different periods, the different classifications in a story format. Also there is a short talk by a paleontologist at the end of each episode who takes you through fossils and other complicated concepts. Perfect for the little ones who love dinosaurs.

Cat in the Hat – TV series

Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss is a classic. But this classic has spawned a whole line of books and TV series of the same character. These are not written by Dr. Seuss, but the writers have made sure the metrical nonsense of the original is also punched up with a load of information. The books are wonderful in itself, with each one taking up different concepts like human body, reptiles, mammals, butterflies, good habits, rainforest etc. Based on the books came the TV series, with just a few modifications – Sally and Dick became Sally and Nick (snigger, snigger). And whereas in the book, both characters were Caucasian, the series made one of them an African. It’s good. People have seriously started taking diversity in popular media and atleast there seems to be a balance in children’s content.

Little Einstein – TV series

Speaking about balance in representation of diversity, this TV series seems to have given a lot of thought before finalizing the characters. This series has 4 children ( two boys, two girls) with 2 of them being Caucasian, one African and one Asian. Hmmm… However the series is mainly about Europe where the children go on an adventure in each episode on their trustworthy rocket, along the way learning about different places, classical music (and their composers), famous paintings and their painters. It is a fun way to introduce children to arts, music and dance.

Conclusion

Little Einstein is a great concept and I wish there was an indigenous series in India which will similarly take children through the different states of India and introduce them to the different languages, arts, food and culture of the people. This will help children identify themselves more with the country than any force-feeding of nationalism does. 

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Prevention of Headaches

I am totally into alternative healing nowadays and am always trying to find solutions to my health related problems sans popping pills. So I read  a lot related to this topic too. Here I wanted to share my tips for managing headaches which has worked in my experience. Prevention is better than cure is something we have often heard and it holds true for headaches too. Please see below for changes that I made in my daily habits for eliminating headaches.
1. Wearing sunglasses.

I live in a place where it is quite hot and I need to travel every day in the noon when the sun is at its peak. I have realised that on the days when I wear a UV protection shades, I don’t suffer from headaches as opposed to the days I don’t.
2. Posture.

I can’t emphasise enough on this. I am a person who is dependent on my phone, so I realised I tend to stoop down to look at my phone. Holding the phone up and keeping it at eye level and at little distance away from my body has helped relieve tension on my neck muscles, which in turn resulted in lower headaches.
3. Cutting off blue light from your gadget screens.

I am using an app called Twilight (there are others too with the same function), which cuts out the blue light from the phone and gives a reddish tinge to the screen. This red hue helps in reading at night and relieved eye related irritation and headaches caused by staring at the screen for a long time.

4. Drinking water

I’ve realised that sometimes head aches are body’s way of communicating to you that youbare getting dehydrated. And there are times when I’ve felt immediate relief after drinking water. So remember to be hydrated.

These are something’s that’s worked for me. Pls do share your tips too.

The Amazing Visuals of Baahubali

The day the Baaubali 2 trailer was released, it was the hottest forward on all my Whatsapp groups. Goes to show how much expectations the movie has created. For me, Baahubali on the first viewing didn’t impress me at all. I was more concerned about the explicit violence depicted. Even when i watched Arundhati, it was the same feeling of queasiness that i got. I was hooked by the movie but repulsed by some of the dialogues and scenes.

But the second time around, I watched Baahubali, (must be like a year after), I ensured that i didn’t have any disturbances and fully focused on what the movie had to offer. This time around I paid a lot of attention to the detailing, the scenes. And I was so blown away.  I was blown away by Rana Daggubati, the song Dheerane (which was on loop for quite sometime after), and one scene with Ramya Krishnan, which literally shook my core. I am glad to see an Indian director, not just treating the ladies in the film as beautiful art pieces, but also as muses that inspires art. (more on that later)

Another fact that awed me was that I could just randomly pick out any shot in the movie and that would have been a wonderful poster. So i spent my third viewing, snapping pictures of the many scenes that I loved and wouldn’t mind having as posters.

Dheerene

For me in that song, the hero was not Prabhas or Tamannah, it was the amazing falls. And there are so many shots in the song, long shots, which shows the falls in all its mighty glory

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Prabhas is ant-like compared to the endlessly towering falls

 

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I love how the sunlight is tinging the water a golden hue, like molten liquid gold.

 

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Rana Daggubati

Baradwaj Rangan of the Film Companion, had likened him as ‘Oak-Like” and i hooted with laughter reading that, because, i don’t think there can be any other better analogy for the impressive looking Rana, especially in his intro scene. It took me a lot of time to click these two images, because i realized that the particular segment gets over in a matter of seconds. Pity! I would have really loved to see this lunge completed in this same angle instead of cutting to a reaction shot.

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Prabhas

Talking about lunges, looks like not only has the director made the actors do a lot of lunges in the gym, but also on the sets. This movie has a lot of action spun around leaps and lunges. from the ground, from the fortress, from the cliff, through the fire…

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I was told, that the above pic is a copy from an action scene involving Hawk Eye. But that does not take away the thrill of watching this leap

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Kattappa

Below are two amazing snaps of the two defining moments of the film and of course it involves Kattappavlcsnap-2017-02-19-23h09m19s720vlcsnap-2017-02-19-23h40m34s092

Looking at these two images side by side, I wonder, whether the elements of fire and rain is supposed to have a deeper meaning? Like when Kattappa had to kill Baahubali, his mind was literally on fire for having to do this betrayal and that when he finally found Sivadu, this fire that has been consuming him for years, has finally been doused? Or am i just overthinking this?

The Goddess

Mother Kali, the Goddess blessing the warriors looks impressive in this picture and it conforms to all usual notions of Amman,

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But the director has also given another portrayal of Goddess. OK, she is not the Goddess here, but I was gobsmacked by the imagery and how much that single picture conveyed, All the feelings I felt when I saw the blood splattered Sivagami, calmly feeding the two possible successors to Mahismathi…. I mean, i don’t know whether there can be any other gesture that can show that both the boys are equal in all ways. And this image has become my new image of a Goddess… Always Goddesses are either depicted as a nurturing mother or a fiery warrior.I It is always either or. For the first time I am seeing an imagery that shows both – Being a warrior and a mother at the same time..

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And for this one image,  only this image, I am now a big fan of S S Rajamouli.

Miracle exercise? Half a miracle!

Toshiki Fukutsudzi. Past few weeks, I have been seeing this name on many FB shares. This doctor has developed an exercise which requires only 5 mins everyday, and if done regularly will help in reducing belly fat, improve posture and reduce back pain. Now, I am a perfect candidate for this… I always say that I don’t have time and I do suffer from all the above problems. Years and years of slouching over textbooks has given me a very bad posture, which in turn has resulted in fatty deposits around the belly and consequently back pain. So the video says, that doing this for 30 days will produce visible results. And Google search has not yielded any result on whether this exercise is effective. Funny part is, of the top 10 Google results for this, atleast 5 of them are copy-paste of each other without a change in even a single word (this includes a French article too) 🤔 The posts mention it takes just 5 minutes everyday, so i thought, why not give it a shot? Also I plan to document the results on this post, so that will give me an additional motivation to keep doing it.

Day 1 – I have measured the circumference around the navel. No, I am not going  to disclose the number, but is shall disclose the difference in number and in percentage at the end of the month. I generally don’t eat fast food, fried items, non veg or drink aerated drinks. So, I am not essentially making any significant changes in lifestyle while doing this. 

The exercise itself looks simple enough, but whoa, is it difficult! The body gets super stretched and towards night, the muscles in my arms started to ache. And it is not easy to keep the position for 5 mins, but not impossible too.

Day 2 – clocked 5 minutes. This time, I could feel the muscles  on my back complaining too. I have no idea whether there is any relation to this exercise, but I was feeling quiet tired today like as if I did too much physical work… even though I didn’t.

Day 7 -the muscle pains have reduced. I missed doing this only one day. So far no visible or measurable difference

Day 15 – I have been quite regular, probably I might have missed doing it only a day or two. The exercise has become easier to do. But the more you remain in that position, the more you feel the stretch. There has been no difference in the waist circumference, in fact, I have a slight doubt whether it has increased a bit. 😖 With regards to posture, I am being more aware of my stoop and am correcting it every now and then. There has been no miraculous cure of my back pain too. But point to be noted is that I am only having general discomfort in that area as opposed to full on pain in the back.

Day 30 – so the stipulated one month is over. Now the benefits touted by the web articles were three fold

  • Loose belly fat – which I didn’t
  • Correct posture – yes
  • Reduce back pain – yes

I remember my yoga lessons in college. It was a torture for me because, I couldn’t sit straight for more than 2 minutes, and if I did, the back pain would recur. But if I went back to my slouch, I was ok. Years of wrong posture mislaigns the spine and one gets comfortable in this misaligned posture. But the problems surface years later. When doing this exercise it stretches the back really well and probably it slowly smooths out the misalignment. Probably that s the reason for all the aches in the first week. So I see that now I am able to sit straight for longer periods of time – say 10 minutes, which was unthinkable a month ago, without back pain. So, I will give 2 out of 3 for this. Regarding reduction of belly fat, maybe if I continue doing the exercise, there will be a change for the better in the long run.

 So is this exercise beneficial? Definitely yes! But can this half miracle be converted to a complete one? Only time can tell!

Note: this article is based purely on my experience and should not be taken as a substitute for doctor’s advice​.

A tale of sorrow and indifference

The month of December saw the death of two very important people of the public domain. What surprised me was my reaction to them – as it was not what I had expected.

My teenage years were filled with a lot of music. My Panasonic two in one was my most trusted companion after books, and music would be blaring out of its twin speakers for most part of my free time. And my most favourite album was – Ladies and Gentlemen: the best of George Michael. I must have listened to it day in and day out, over and over again. His voice mesmerized me. His amazing voice range could coo ballads, and sing in angst (without it sounding like screaming). His song Freedom 90, was my anthem growing up, my sing out aloud song, my i-dont-care-a-damn song. Yeah, yeah, I knew all about his controversial life stories, but I admired him only for his music and nothing else.

When I heard of his demise on Christmas, I was surprised. Surprised that I did not feel sad or feel any sense of lose. I was surprised that I was indifferent to the news, despite his music having been such an important part of my life. The only explanation I can think of is, like I said before, I only loved his music and that transcends mortal days.

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I had received a forward in December –

*சென்ற வருடம் டிசம்பர் 5 தண்ணீரில் மிதந்தது  சென்னை. இந்த வருடம் அதே நாளில் கண்ணீரில் மிதக்கிரது*.

This forward resonated with me, because even I was wallowing in tears on hearing about the CMs death. Now this surprised me, because she had not been a part of my life, she had in no way any bearing on anything I do, I have never even given a thought about her. All that I knew of her was all the things that’s portrayed in the media and movies. And they were never in a good light. Even our Superstar also has made many references about her which has never been complimentary, and having had no knowledge about politics, I assumed that that was the only dimension to her personality. Around the time when the news of her death seemed imminent, I started looking at YouTube videos and stumbled upon this “Rendezvous by Simi Garewal”. For the first time in my life, I heard a different version of her life. For the first time, I came to know about her early struggles, her political struggles, the ruckus in the parliament which changed her. This last one horrified me – I mean how come when movies and media never had any qualms in criticising her, no one has ever once alluded to this mistreatment of a woman in the Assembly? Why has no one ever praised her for having overcome so much, especially the patriarch political system to be the CM? It was from here, that the pain started, the sense of having lost someone close started, the weeping started. The enormity of what she has achieved and the realisation that nowhere in the horizon is someone as towering as she was, started sinking in. And this emotion was echoed by many women, even those who did not belong to TN. This deep emotion that I felt on the news of her demise, not just surprised me, but shocked me and probably even changed me. Thank you, My lady, for everything you have done and may you rest in peace, atlast….

Eternal journey

I scoured through the pages of the “world-wide” web in search of a good valentine’s day quote for my DIY card. But after going through hundreds of images, I’ve still not found the right one. I mean all of them were about giving the heart, taking the heart, how you make me feel, flushed cheeks, rapid heartbeats etc etc. Like some college girl with rose tinted glasses.

It was nice being in college. Though I never enjoyed my college days, I realise now, how free I was. I am responsible only for me. Did I eat, did I study, did I keep myself safe. My concerns also could be counted on the fingers of one hand – studies, family, hmmmm… That’s it. 

When did life become this series of OMGs? OMG the shelves are dirty! OMG the bathroom tap has leaked again and now there is water all over! OMG I have to get ready for office! OMG my children are playing and a pillow is on top of one of their face! When one is running around dousing these metaphorical fires, where is the time to be doey eyed and melting hearts? 

After a point of time, once a person is “settled” and their overactive hormones have also settled,  love ceases to be just passion or romance and becomes…. more. Like, Love is giving respect to one another whether in public or private, whether in front of children, colleagues or alone. Love is not taking each other for granted. Love is taking the effort to switch off that gadget and just be there for the other. Love is remembering the preferences of the other at all times. Love is asking someone whether they are ok with a tricky situation and not just assume the other shall “adjust”. Love is giving small surprises, be it a stem of rose or just a samosa… (Not just bringing something for the children and buying one extra, but going out of the way to buy a gift). And then there is something else which makes love greater than the sum of all the above. The answer to what that something else is, is a human’s etenal journey.

Don’t lock the Manichithrathazhu

Yesterday, yet again I saw manichithrathazhu… Probably for the 105th time? And I never seem to tire of it. It’s influence on me was phenomenal. All during my adolescent years I was saying that either I will be a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I became neither and that is another long story worthy of a 3-part blog post. But that movie made me fascinated about the human mind it’s depths, it’s intricacies -like a glacier where only 10% is known and the rest remains an enigma. 

And movies that impact me, triggers a craving to know more about it. And I end up googling like crazy for the next one hour, for any tidbit, some scrap of trivia that can assuage my fevered curiosity. (Such a kind of a search last night led me to a blog which hypothesised that Ganga was a lesbian… 🤐) This happened also right after I watched Kammattipadam. I wanted to know more about it. What were the difficulties they faced in recreating the Ernakulam of the 60s. How did they over come those obstacles. Where did these people (the story writers – Madhu Muttam or P. Balachandran) get the inspiration to write such amazing stories? 

U know Hollywood has spawned an entire industry of collectibles and Blu rays long after a cult movie is released – extended version, director’s cut, remade, digitised and re-released version (eg Star Wars)… Hmmm, how would it be if Manichithrathazhu was re-released in theatres, just like how My Dear Kuttichathan was? I for one would be delighted. And going by the IMDb ratings and so many people gushing over it, I am sure there would be many takers for it. Or atleast a DVD re release with the full movie (the ones that you get now are shortened versions, many scenes were cut for the sake of brevity) with the story writers or directors commentary. Or a “making of the movie”, movie? Oh, the possibilities !!! Come on New generation and Malayalam film industry – you are not short on ideas like before. Give us fans something to chew on… Don’t lock up the Manichithrathazhu!

Where are the Malayalam books?

The DC book fair at Kochi was advertised to be the largest book fair in South India… really? Have the organisers never visited the Chennai book fair? It is supposedly the second largest book fair in India… I was able to go only once – in 2013. And there were at least a 100 stalls there compared to the thirty odd stalls here. Sheri, athu potte… 

Having lived outside Kerala all my life, my Malayalam education was taken care of my grandmother, balarama and vanitha. My grandmother taught me the alphabets and I learned to string them together reading Balarama and Vanitha. It started with a few sentences and finally I have now graduated to reading entire articles. Still my reading is comparable to a junior schooler’s reading… 😯

Now my children are also growing up far away from their roots. And I realised today at Fort Kochi, that the foreigners were able to understand what my son was speaking more than me. So this holiday, one of the high priorities in my book lists for this India trip was to buy as many Malayalam books for my preschool children. (Not that speaking English with an accent is a bad thing. But I elt knowing the mother tongue well is also very essential. That is such a simple thing, right? But apparently, no. I must have been up and down at least some 5-6 bookshops, but except for H&C books, none of them had any aksharamalas, Malayalam rhymes etc. 

So I was quite excited today when we finally decided to go to the DC book fair. Surprise, surprise! The so called “largest book fair in South India”, did not even have a single aksharamala with them! (Whereas there was no dearth for books for toddlers and preschoolers in English) 

Now this was an eventuality that I had not expected. And it bothers me, raising a multitude of questions in my head. Where are the Malayalam books? (Again I have to clarify – there were quite a number of Malayalam books for more advanced readers. My grouse is that there were NO books for preschool and primary çhildren). Am i alone in thinking that our language should not fade out with a generation? When kalikudukka and the like is selling like hot cakes every week, really, is there no market for primary level Malayalam books for reading and writing? Or is this vacuum the reason that the former is doing well? If saleability is the problem, won’t  bilingual books work? (for eg the book on fruits will have both Malayalam and English names) and last but not the least, am I ALONE in asking – where are the Malayalam books?

Harry Potter and the Cursed child -Review

The Hindu had an article about Pottermani when the book was released this Sunday, and I realised that one of the statements held true for me also. In 2007 when the seventh book was released it was my parents who bought it for me, but now for the first time I am able to buy a Potter book on my own… 😎 I was waiting for the book  on tenterhooks will be an understatement. Everytime I heard the gate open, I would rush to see whether it is the Amazon delivery man. Finally it arrived and my entire family very understandingly – left me alone. 😍😍 So after seven hours of receiving the book, here I am with my thoughts about the book. 

As advertised, this is not a book per se, but the script for the play that J.K. Rowling wrote along with John Tiffany and Jack Throne. It reads like a screen play of a movie and this is highly unsatisfying for me. The beauty of JK’s books were in the details, where she paints vivid images of the wizarding world with her words. I remember the countless times I have immersed myself in that world. I had always found new connections and meanings with every reading and it never ceases to amaze me what an intricately webbed and complex world she had created through her seven books. That complexity is obviously missing here, since this book is like an afterthought, a continuation made for the sake of continuing. (Not that I am not grateful for it – something is better than nothing, after all). And it does not seem to seamlessly continue from where it was left. Frankly, Lord Voldemort falling for a basic instinct of human kind is something that i am finding hard to digest. And since there was no indication for it in the previous books,  (the genesis for the plot began from there), it is yet again an unsatisfactory justification. Maybe you can take it as artistic liberty, but coming from JK who always left no loose threads lying in her books, the explanations given seemed… off. (once, I realised that the reason for Dumbledore’s fleeting look of triumph while listening to Harry’s recounting of Lord Voldemort’s resurrection in the forth book had its explanation in the seventh book) 

The book begins with the last chapter of the seventh book. So this sets the stage for the book – it is about the children of the wizards and witches who fought in the Battle of Hogwarts and how a chance to change the past is thwarted. 

It is an interesting storyline with the usual father-son, friendhip,  dynamics coming into play. They have brought many of the well loved characters into the story line. But I am sure that all Potter fans like me would have liked to know what happened to the other supporting characters – the Weasley brothers (why is Ron running the Weasley Wizarding Wheezes and not George?), Hagrid and the like.

And the book tries to cover the emotions and events of four years in small montages in a matter of 300 and odd pages. The book managed to well me up in all the right places, but the angst, suffering, loneliness which I had experienced intensely along with Harry Potter is missing here. And herein lies my biggest concern about the book and I couldn’t help wondering as I finished, could having used the basis for the screen play to make a full fledged book have made a better impact?

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