Anukrishna's Blog

The sugarcane juice vendor February 19, 2010

Filed under: Random Thoughts — anukrishna @ 10:23 PM

Now what’s about a ¬†sugarcane juice vendor ? Little did I realize that this person who was unknowingly my sole companion in my bus-waiting missions would be the subject of this…

Before adding more mysteries, let me jump in straight. I have this very unenvious task of waiting for the bus in the hot, tortuous afternoons in a bus stand without a shelter. And being an ungodly hour, I do not have too many for company in the bus stand, except for this sugarcane juice vendor. Picture this … dusty hot afternoons with the blazing sun and empty roads. The sugarcane juice vendor almost merges unobstrusively with the surroundings with his rickety cart and squeaky juice machine… the 2 rolling pin type of machine. But he was an inspiration for me.

I would stand everyday watching his excellent juice-making algorithm with the optimum usage of resources and his time-management skills … well he could put a process person to shame ūüôā . And his efficiency in squeezing out the last drop of juice from the cane till the cane was reduced to a mass of fibres – he could have served well as an Income Tax officer hee hee…

The point of the story is how he inspired me…

The first few days, he had his rickety cart with the squeaky roller-pin machine and hardly any customers. Then he noticed the pile of squeezed ¬†discarded cane fibres and the army of flies. So promptly came in a nice sack to store the ¬†dried cane and out went the flies. The machine started looking cleaner and with it increased the prospects of customers on hot afternoons…

Now with increasing customers, he had the challenge of storing more cane. A spacious hammock-like appendage came up beneath the cart to store his supplies :-). Great going, I thought, after a week. ¬†But the sun had by then turned from blazing to melting heat :-). This was a super-winner. He brought out 4 sticks and tied them projecting, each to one end of the cart. He bought a huge sheet spread it over the sticks and brought it down holding it with stones to make a nice, shady, cool tent for the heat. ¬†Now that’s very tempting on a hot afternoon :-). And the queues kept growing. His policy of Just-In-Time inventory and his upgrade to a cleaner motor-based machine from the manual machine made sure that his customers never had to wait for very long to have their cup of refreshing liquid down their throats.

And he was a kind soul too…. kind enough to spare the odd glass for an urchin or to give a discount to labourers hanging around his cart (though I secretly wish that he would recognize me and let me know if my bus has left before I came ;-)).

Well, can anyone now say its difficult to innovate ?!

 

Gaajar halwa for dummies February 13, 2010

Filed under: Cooking — anukrishna @ 10:44 PM

I’m not an expert cook and this is also not a new recipe too. But I was excited about how easily and tasty it came in the microwave without even using khoa that I decided to post it , hee hee :-). Hence the title of the post too… Thanks a LOT to my neighbor Raji for sharing this with me.

Ingredients

1. Red carrot – 1 Kg

2. Sugar – 1/2 kg

3. Milk – 2 cups

4. Milk powder – 1 cup

5. ghee – 1 tbsp

Steps:

1. Cook grated carrot in 1 cup milk first in microwave (for around 15 mins)

2. When its half-cooked, add the remaining milk and cook carrots completely (another 10 mins)

3. After carrots are cooked completely, add the milk powder, sugar and ghee and microwave for 10 minutes.

4. Delicious gaajar halwa is ready ! Gaajar halwa is complete when there’s no liquid shimmering in the microwave vessel and the whole halwa scoops up in balls.

Here’s a pic of what I made today:

Gaajar halwa - all ready to serve

P.S:

1. The actual time in the microwave may vary slightly depending on how juicy the carrots are.

2. If the carrots are very juicy, reduce the quantity of milk.

3. Do NOT add sugar initially since carrots do not cook in sugar.

 

Teaching a bunch of kids February 10, 2010

Filed under: Cultural activities — anukrishna @ 9:52 PM

It was the annual day in our apartments. I was assigned the task of teaching kids aged between 4 and 5 ¬†a dance. It had to be a theme – so the organizers said. Well… choosing a theme itself was not an envious task. Finally I settled on the song “My name is Madhavi” from the Karadi Rhymes album by Usha Uthup. When I took this song to a few other people, there were very many opinions and our choice started vacillating in all directions from Lion King’s Hakuna Matata to Wall-E title song.

Finally, it was decided we were going to do “my name is madhavi”. This national integration song has multiple stanzas , each from a state.¬†The plan was to make each kid dress up in different states and dance for that stanza. We had made a set of steps common to for all kids and some special steps for each state.

There were 11 kids in all to be trained and what fun it proved to be !!!!

The first day, getting all kids to stand in a line was in itself a challenge :-). I admire how school teachers handle them with such ease ! One kid came up and said “Aunty… I want to be first in the line” :-). Yet another refused to budge from the seat where she was sitting and plainly refused to dance. A third kid was not in station and would arrive in town only 4 days before the programme !

Finally, we got all kids to stand in a line and did a kind of counting exercise to teach them the movements. ¬†All of a sudden one of the kids announced “Aunty, I know all these steps. So I wont dance” and promptly went off to sit in a chair. The first day of practice was a little eventful.

We had a little over a week to train the kids. Each day, the varied moods of the kids – some half-asleep, some fighting with the kids standing next to them, some insisting on dancing with dupattas everyday, some terribly upset because the kid beside her came before her for the practice … well, the list goes on with such eventful practices until the day of the dress rehearsal. One thing that remained constant was the little artiste who refused to budge from her seat to dance…

We were pretty insistent about a dress rehearsal before the actual programme. I was a little apprehensive of how the kids would dance in sarees and fancy dupattas over their heads. And the kids would just prove how wrong I was ! The day of the rehearsals , all the kids came dressed in their costumes. When I was wondering if they would trip and fall over each other, there they were jumping over sofas, playing hide-n-seek and football ! OMG ! But the highlight of the dress rehearsal was the little artiste who decided to do a turnaround. She insisted she wanted to dance and stood in line with all kids trying to do their steps. What more could we ask for ? She was immly made into a girl from Ajmer and there she stood between all the kids ūüôā !! Dance has the power we thought !

The day of the programme, there was palpable excitement among the kids and of course us… And what a show it turned out to be !!! All the little ones just over 4 or 5 years of age, dancing with perfect eye-contact with the audience with all smiles on their faces ! That was a professional show from the kids.

The kids on stage ...

Well, I slept that night a really happy and satisfied teacher !

 

Visit to Yelagiri

Filed under: Travel — anukrishna @ 9:44 PM

Visit to Yelagiri

We made a sudden unplanned visit to Yelagiri.  One of our neighbors had been there a few years back and they suggested the Zeenat Taj Garden (not related to the Taj group) as being very homely and nice. So we decided to stay there.

Yelagiri is a quiet hill station off Krishnagiri, near Ambur on the Bangalore-Chennai highway. It is around 150 kms from Bangalore. So the road is excellent.

How to reach there:

On the Blr-Chennai highway after taking a left to Krishnagiri, cross the first toll gate. Look for the Yelagiri sign-board and take a U-turn and go below the bridge leading to Tirupathur.  We immediately enter the state highway. After driving for a few kms on this highway, take a left to Yelagiri Hills at the TN tourism arch. There are a lot of sign boards to direct us.

Way to Yelagiri hills

The ghats are a short drive with around 14 hair pin bends. We are greeted by monkey brigands on our way uphill. After reaching Yelagiri, Zeenat Taj Garden is one of first hotels we encounter.

About Taj:

This is a 11-acre orchard sprinkled with cottages and play areas. The cottages themselves are very nicely furnished and clean. The food, very homely and easy on the stomach with a wide spread of dishes.

What to do in Yelagiri:

This is a quiet hill station not too very touristic yet. The place is really green. We reached there by saturday afternoon and spent a while playing with the badminton racquets and balls that we had taken. After lunch, we rested a while before making our trek upto sunset point. This is a very short walk through the brambles of the hills for around 20 minutes and a slightly steep rocky climb for around 10 mins.

Sunset from the way to sunset point

The sunset point offers a beautiful view of the towns below and of course, the hills. Once back, we visited the musical fountain in the nearby park.

Pics from the musical fountain

The next morning we spent walking around the fruit orchard within the place where we were staying. We managed to spot a beautiful paradise fly catcher bird in that calm surroundings.

Walk through the orchard

Apparently all fruit trees are full of fruits in summer. They have mango, guava, litchi, water apple, jackfruit and a few other trees.  So it might be a good time to plan a visit then.  After the walk around the orchard, we went over for boating and a visit to the park.

The park is just about ok. The lake is small and very clean.

View of the lake

One thing that many people do is a trek to Swami Malai, the highest point in the hills. They say the trek is around 2 hours. With a little one, the trek may not be advisable.

Dont forget to take the nice cycles on hire provided by the tourism department. This building is opposite Hotel Nigress and Zeenat Taj Gardens. The cycles are decently maintained. We hired cycles for an hour and cycled around the place. Our little one was thrilled riding pillion on the cycle :-).

Honey and jackfruit are available in plenty on the hills. So they may be worth a buy.

We left by afternoon from there. Another option is to stop by the Jalagamparai falls around 30 minutes from Yelagiri. We didnt do this because the locals told us water was very less now.

After that we returned home.. relaxing weekend at Yelagiri :-).