Category Archives: Chennai

Finally..

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We visited the Perarignar Anna Centenary Library at Kotturpuram. The children’s section is beautifully done. It has a lot of natural lighting and has bright cheerful decor. They are still adding to the collection of books. What we saw there included a lot of Scholastic, McGraw Hill and Oxford publication with some stray Tulika and others thrown in.

Image Courtesy: McGraw Hill

Pattu enjoyed reading a GIANT book Рwhich was half as tall as Pattu
Hatty and Tatty and the bumping boats
Pattu Rating: 4.3
Two best friends Hatty and Tatty decide to get married and the story is about how they miss each other while on the way to the other’s house. Finally the bump into each other mid way … a simple and yet a cute one





Image Courtesy: Amazon

We also read the really beautiful book called,
My Love For You
Pattu Rating: 4.0


It goes, “My love for you is as big as 1 big bear, as tall as 2 giraffes, as deep as 3 blue whales…” and so on…till 10
I guess it was a bit too early for Pattu, so I had to explain to her a bit. I asked her how much she loves me and she started by saying, “Very very very very…” and then ended up saying, “..lot of very very much amma” ūüėÄ

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Then we read, rather I read (while Pattu wanted to flip through some books on her own) another nice book called 


Grace and Family
The story is about Grace who lives with her mom and grannny in UK. She thinks that her family is short of perfect without a dad because all the families in stories she has read has a dad and mom, a brother and sister and a cat and a dog. Just then, she receives an invitation from her dad who now has another family in Africa. She decides to go accompanied by her granny and finds both joy and sadness during her stay. By the time she is back, she is all set to rewrite the myth of a happy family to include families like hers as well. Good thing about the book is that it doesn’t ask for sympathy.

Image Courtesy: Amazon




and finally a well known tale of 
Chicken Little
Pattu Rating: 4.5

And in Pattu’s words, “I loved this picnic amma… we will come here everyday!”

Discovered…

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Lydie’s @ ECR: A nice quiet place for a lazy weekend… good continental food,¬†delicious desserts… the Indian fare is just so-so…

Bikaner Bhojanalaya @ Valmiki Nagar¬†– for authentic home cooked rajasthani food, finger licking good… a no frills place, reminded me of Lalitha’s, Bangalore… smaller scale though…

And…. had the Pav Bhaji at Novelty Tea House at Mint Street, Sowcarpet
Worth a try…

First Day First Show

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Yes, I made it to the first day first show (the early morning 7.30 show! But I hear that there were some 5.30 AM shows as well) of Endhiran! Got tickets only in Escape and hence missed all the pooja, crackers and such festivities. We did witness some of that on our way right outside Jayanthi and Melody theaters.
What Rocked: The Robot, special effects, Rajini back as the villain
What could have been better: Rahman’s Music, Comedy (I was surprised to see that the comedy track was weak – no Vivek/ Vadivelu!!), Aishwarya’s dancing
What I missed: Rajini’s usual punch dialogues, style gimmicks (we didn’t see any flipping the goggles kind if thing). The scientist Rajini was actually like a scientist – he couldn’t fight, dance… Rajini is Rajini, he is even more superhuman than the Robot… that didn’t come through ūüė¶

The special effects were truly world class – awesome! A thorough entertainer.

The Art and Craft Trail – Part I

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If you’ve seen M.A.D on Pogo or Mr Maker on Ceebeebies, you would, without doubt, be itching to try out some of those little art and craft ideas by yourself. It is when you set out to execute that plan, that you realise that you don’t have some things that’ll make it as pretty as the ones you’ve seen them make. I just love Mr Maker’s Doodle Drawers and wish I had one like that. Whenever I visit the regular neighborhood shops for art and craft supplies, I find them lacking in most of the interesting things – like the wiggly eyes, beads¬†and foam sheets for instance. Ask them where to find these and they would promptly tell you to go to Parry’s Corner.
Having heard enough, I finally trotted off along with a friend who was as excited about it besides being more familiar with the area. I’ve only scraped the tip of the iceberg and I still have lots to report!
We first went to Rahman Decorations. A huge market with both gaudy and pretty decoration materials. Danglers, streamers, grass carpets, gift bags – you just name it! Found some pretty cane baskets, candles, vase, flowers, birthday confetti, wall stickers etc.The cane baskets were tempting, but I exercised restraint and moved on. We were looking for handmade paper and we were given some names and directions. Most of them were wholesale dealers and were reluctant to give us a few sheets. We finally found one dealer (whose shop was more like a hole in the wall) who didn’t shoo us away. He had a wonderful collection. Papers of varying thickness, coarseness, colours, design – self, glitter and dry leaf types. Irresistible! If you love handmade paper, you’ll love this collection!
Here’s the name and address:
Kibla Paper and Stationery Stores, 27, Anderson Street, Parrys, Chennai 600001. Mail – kibladiary@yahoo.co.in; Phone: 044-25380985/ 044-25380986
I still hadn’t found my wiggly eyes, chenille sticks and pompoms. After some asking around, RR Fancy seemed to be the place to go.We hopped over puddles and navigated some difficult lanes to find RR Fancy Stores snugly sitting next to the famous Saravan Bhavan. Knowing the Sowcarpet area, we didn’t expect it to be a big, fancy place but we didn’t expect a shop of this size to have pretty much every art and craft material one can name.
Here’s the address and the phone number : No 8, Umpherson Street, Chennai 108. Broadway, Near Saravana Bhavan Hotel. Ph: 8124757562/ 044-42064586.
So, finally what did I buy? Here’s the list of things that I carried back home:
– Wiggly eyes – so many sizes, shapes and colours…and nose
– Quilling kits complete with the tool box
– Wax for candle making
– Gel wax
– Candle molds
– Wicks, Wick holders, Aromas and colours for candle making
– Glass cut to size for painting
– Emboss painting kits
– Paints – Ceramic paints, glass paints, fabric outliners, various 3D and glitter shades
– Foam sheets
– Felt material in different colours
РHandmade paper  various colours and designs
– Books on the basics and some designs
– Beads, buttons, threads
– Pre stitched zardosi patters and stones – you just have to stick it with glue
– Pompoms
– Set of brushes
What they also had:
– Canvas stretched on boards and canvas rolls
– Complete materials required for oil painting
– Ceramic powder and molds for ceramic art
– Plaster of paris with molds
– Different types, designs of molds
– Paper – all kinds including quilling supplies
– All things required for Zardosi work, borders, designs etc
– Lace
– Wool, knitting materials, Knitting kits
– Embroidery materials
– Craft punches
– Complete charcoal set

What I still haven’t found
– Chenille sticks/ Pipe cleaners
– Furry pompoms

РBendable wires 

The Glass paintings would have dried by now…will post a pic soon…



Random Jottings…

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We visited Mahamudra, the new restaurant attached to a spa at Mylapore. What an ambiance! Food wise, you do get a lot of the routine stuff and some very different (and healthy) dishes – uses some of the native pulses like corn, maize, ragi and the likes. We loved it. I would say, go with an open mind and explore. Only pure vegetarian. There’s a small shop attached, carrying an impressive assortment of jute, cane, palm leaf, stone, metal, fabric and paper stuff. All environment friendly. And then there’s the spa, gym, beauty parlour etc. Indulgence.

We checked out Crimson Chakra – Pattu waddled happily in the water enclosure. Food was good, very good indeed. We were a large group and they had this really nice and convenient concept called the ‘set menu’. It is something like a buffet that’s served to you at the table. You get very good spread, you don’t waste, you don’t waste a lot of time ordering and there’s no confusion either.

Dosa Calling at Adyar – One can’t complain, food is decent. But the taste is easily forgettable. Good place to go if you are looking for something clean, safe and affordable for breakfast or brunch.

Before signing off – some Velachery updates: Sangeetha has its restaurant at Velachery now!
Some more new blocks on the road are:

– Red Carpet – Footwear
– CreMeMore – Ice creams
– Sketch – Clothes
– Baker’s Code – Bakery

All on Bye Pass Road.

Of Trees and more Trees

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We revisited some of Pattu’s favourite books, Norbu’s New Shoes being one.
¬†As I reached the line that mentions Lord Buddha, Pattu says, ‘Buddha ummachi..who lives in a treee…’
Amma –¬† ‘Ain…where did you get that from?’
Pattu – ‘Ayyo..amma..that ummachi lives in a tree na amma..’
Amma – Tree??? What Tree?
Pat comes Pattu’s reply – ‘Mo-Na-S-Tree Amma!! followed by an, Oh-oh look…

Pothy’s has been handing out saplings to all the shoppers and thousands have already been handed over. Good initiative I think though the cynic in me wonders how many will actually plant them and care for them and how many will live on see the next summer(s)… I think it would be worth it even if 20% succeeded…

Been meaning to go for the Nizhal’s (Tamil word for ‘Shade’) Tree Walk…. ironically, I’m waiting for the heat to go down a bit ūüėÄ

Keep them Buzy…

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Has anyone checked out the workshop on Chrysalis Busy Bee Fun Factory at Landmark, Apex Plaza? It is on till 25th May. Looks like it is only for kids 5 yrs and above.
Dakshinachitra seems to have lots in offer for children Рresidential camps, activity camps, Glove Puppetry and Leather Puppet making on 5th and 28th May respectively. There are some workshops for adults as well Рmore details here
I would like attend the Art Exhibition between 1st and 10th May by Rohini Thotta Tharani.
Let’s do something has a Mocktail workshop tomorrow – just what we want to beat the Chennai heat! The Robotics Workshop is back on popular demand and there’s the summer camp for kids 5+ yrs.

Also noticed that Velachery now has Born Babies on Bye Pass road. With Half Ticket, Niel & Nikki and Cotton City (inside Srishti on Bye Pass Road), Velachery definitely seems to be improving!

Tried the Citrus body wash and Papaya Ginger jam from Fab India and loved them! Highly recommend Papaya Ginger …

Have just got some organic groceries delivered from a new vendor – will check them out and give more details later….

Come Summer…

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Vacation time is nearing and I’m wondering how to keep Pattu productively occupied. I’m sure there are summer camps in every street corner these days, the trouble however is to identify the good ones.
I see that Kanchana Paati, Sunshine, MAS and a few others around Velachery have announced their summer plans. Let’s do something is also planning a variety of activities. Xseed of idiscoveri, Hansel & Gretel, Vanilla, all have lots going on for summer.

I definitely don’t want to send her to a very crowded place. Would prefer a something nearby. Pattu’s school has some activities planned till end of April, so we are good till end of April.

While doing this round up, also came across a sale at Oxford Bookstore, Nungambakkam – upto 80% off on books and a flat 10% off on all books and stationaries.

Stories Galore

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…at Hoos Tales. Thanks to Art, we had a wonderful weekend. I got to attend a workshop by Jeeva and Craig along with Art and Pattu got to attend her first story telling session at Nageswara Rao Park. It took some effort to get pattu to abandon play and get to the session. I was hoping the story telling to keep her glued but she wasn’t impressed. It took a monkey puppet and later Richard and Jeeva to get her attention. She loved the ‘lion hunt’ by Jeeva and the ‘Ghost with one black eye’ by Richard. Missed Craig’s session since we were late : (

I fail to understand why we can’t get the sound system right – it was so loud that I ended up with a head ache. I notice this with most of the events that I attend, save some of the well known sabhas. Richard had the sense to avoid using the mic. I was hoping others to pick up the cue…but, well… And next time, I should remember to take some odomos with me for the outdoor events.

We followed that with a dinner at Veg Nation. Sadly they didn’t have anything from the ‘Continental’ part of their menu. The mushroom starter was awesome though. And the mysore masala dosai was evilly (sooo oily) yummy!

Sunday was packed as we went visiting some family friends – Pattu got to play with some new friends and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She was so excited that she refused to have her afternoon nap.

Chennai – My list of 5 places that define the city (Part II)

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Mount Road

Those days whenever ‘Madras’ was introduced in movies, it would open with the inimitable LIC building which was a 16 storied pride and wonder.¬† Besides the LIC building that Mount Road boasts, it was also a glitzy place with all the cinema halls, buildings that had elevators, uppish restaurants with chandeliers,¬† dim lighting & table linen (Yamuna and Maurya were popular for family dining) and hi-end outlets that had decked up mannequins behind glass facades.¬† People came all the way to Poppat Jamal to pick up crockery. Poompuhar, VTI and a lot of other Art Emporiums dotted the road on both sides where most of the customers were foreigners and things were hence priced at ‘Dollar Rates’.¬† Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan with its famous assortment¬† of Khadi fabric,¬† sandalwood and papier mache figurines, semi precious gems and jewelry,¬† to a lot of packaged foods from co operative society groups attracted its set of strong loyalists. I still go after the Khadi Golu bommais every year for Navratri as they have very well etched features as opposed to the flashy blob-like alternatives that seem to be more popular these days.

For the book lovers, there is Higginbothams, British Council Library, American Counsel and Library, Connemara library (attached to Egmore Museum)¬† and I gather that the more recent Devaneya Pavanar library also has a good collection. The Orient Longman building and The Hindu office received awed glances from passing admirers – not for the building but for intellectual capital inside it. Some other famous landmarks are -Parsan Manere, the flyover, YMCA, Thousand lights mosque, Church Park (Presentation Convent) – one of the stylish schools where girls spoke lilting English and wore skirts that hardly reached their knees (the maamis’ eyes would open wide in disbelief and dismissal), Spencers (not a mall then)¬† – an international department store with hi end household appliances, the Addison building, Simpsons, Gymkhana, Island Grounds – how can one forget the exhibitions that we so looked forward to! I still remember screaming my guts out the first time on the Giant Wheel much to my parents’ embarrassment and the king sized masala papad that I could hardly finish by myself!

Oh, and the Taj Connemara. A middle class family didn’t dream of ever dining at a 5 star restaurant unless they were invited as guests to some function. Conjuring vivid images of a plush interior, so resplendent and opulent was my favourite diversion while passing by. I had always wanted to peek in to check what it was like. It reminds me of the book, ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’, where the protagonist Francie dreams of going on the new Brooklyn-NY bridge and finally when she does she is disappointed as it is not half as dramatic as what she had imagined it would be.¬† When I first walked into Taj few years later, I expected something dramatic to happen but as reality would have it, I had to console myself after some waiting and move on as it didn’t match the hype that my fertile imagination had painted. I still fondly remember Bombay Halwa House with its mouthwatering, delicious food and the more recent Annalakshmi.¬† Much later when I was in college, a friend introduced me to a small Irani tea shop on GP road. I wondered how great can tea get, and found out¬† here. I was amazed to find impeccably dressed white collared execs standing and slurping tea at what seemed to be a dirty roadside tea shop!

Fab India – A friend and I paced up and down the store picking up furnishing material, busy discussing whether this would go with that, oh but I really like this rug… if I want this rug I’ll have to change the rest of the decor …oh I’m so confused … and so on… The salesman who watched our predicament offered to help and we had to sheepishly confess that we were talking about our dream house and we have just taken up our first job a few months back! The salesman was sweet enough to laugh with us and quipped its always good to have a dream.

The picture wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Richie Street – the Dark Alley for electronics, pirated CDs and so on. I knew guys who knew this place like the back of their hand. You have to have the knack of figuring out the quality of the products else you would be taken for a ride here. And last but not the least… the makeshift kiosks that sold second hand books…

This account is limited to my own experiences and knowledge… am sure there are many elements that I have missed out… do add on…
I didn’t expect this to spill into part 3 – but well…
The other two places would be covered in part 3 – meanwhile…any guesses?