Thursday, June 24, 2021

Voltage drop and Load Shedding

Some mornings our thoughts move from one random thought to another albeit in a rhythmic fashion.  One set of my grey cells were busy communicating with my olfactory nerves about the fresh flavors of my herbal toothpaste. Their comrades were busy meandering into some nostalgic memories.

What was I thinking about ? Being blessed to have water as well as electricity running 24 hours!

We were lucky residing in the state of Kerala with plenty of rain, and a well within our premises that was always full and sufficient for our needs. But during my vacation trips to some of my relatives' places, I have been exposed to water scarcity. Water supply restricted to a few hours per day, or in worst cases, few hours on alternate days! There would be huge drums or barrels that would be filled up to be used till the next scheduled hour for the taps to start working again . My aunt lived in one such place, and was so skilled at the art of operating a kitchen with minimum water . Imagine washing a load of vessels with  just a pail of water.  Mind you, this person was adept at and particular about keeping things spic and span !

Though water was not a concern, we used to have voltage fluctuations and fixed periods of power interruptions for load shedding. As a 7 or 8 year old I had no clue what "load shedding" or "voltage drop" meant though they were added to my vocabulary and were used quite often in daily conversations. To me the former meant that all lights and fans went off while the latter caused fans to rotate slowly and tube lights to keep flickering in an annoying manner.

Electric appliances would usually be fitted with a voltage stabilizer then and one such brand was V Guard( I think they are still around). The 80s and 90s kids would be familiar with the catchy jingle that used to be played in the advertisement . It depicts a lady trying to set jelly in a mould in her refrigerator.  The jelly sets properly only after she fits the V guard stabilizer.

In fact the ad has three parts. I recollected the scenes of the lady with the fridge and the group of dancers whose music system gets interrupted. But I could not remember the first part. Anyways there's nothing that's not there on YouTube and I found it ! 

Had no idea that the jingle was composed by our  musical legend and Oscar Winner AR Rahman. 
Todays tune on my lips is " we got it right with the V Guard...."

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Z for Zoo

 There are not many Harry Potter terms with Z. I had to google for the Potter Index. ( I have begun to observe that to google is a universally accepted  verb nowadays).

In the very first few pages of Book 1 we see him going to the zoo and realizing that a snake could understand him. In other words he speaks "Parseltongue". There is this scene with the sand boa that escapes after talking to him.

My son is a big animal aficionado and hence we have done innumerable trips to the zoo so much so that I declare sometimes " if I am left blindfolded at the entrance I will know how to get out"

I somehow do not like the idea of animals being deprived of their freedom and being confined to cages. If the enclosures are big enough and they have enough space to move about its better. 

One thing I learnt from my son during one of our expeditions is that tigers do not hunt zebras . The latter belongs to Africa and there are no tigers there. But if tigers were released in a place with zebras would they consider them as food or friends I wonder !  Not in a wicked sense but wondering how animal brains are wired ! 

One of the animals here at the Singapore zoo which was a revelation to me when I encountered it for the first time is the "Tapir". 

Image source: Wikipedia 

It is a black and white creature that looks like a pig with an elephant's  trunk. Baby tapirs apparently look like a watermelon with similar stripes.  A zoo visit can fill us with awe at the wonderful designs and patterns of natural flora and fauna! Have you seen a Tapir before ? 

This reminds me of a joke we used to laugh about as kids. In Tamil the word "eli" means rat. " what happens if a rat wore pants- it becomes an Eli-phant " ha ha

If one visits the zoo here, a message that is conveyed as much as possible is to "Follow the 3 Rs , Reduce Reuse and Recycle" . In this post I would like to emphasise the same. We have a responsibility towards our planet and let's try to follow these 3 R s as much as possible.
Image credit: Noah Buscher on

This is the concluding post of the A to Z challenge and for the first time I have been able to stick to the schedule and diligently publish a post every single day.  
Thanks to all the bloggers who visited ,commented or simply accompanied me on this month long journey  .
I have enjoyed this exercise and kudos to every other participant. 

I somehow feel like Reese Witherspoon s character in the last scene of Legally Blonde movie where she screams " We Did It!"

Gif images are like the ones in Harry Potter, aren't they ? They move. We muggles are not entirely different:) 

"May you all have a great May "

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Y for Yule Ball

The first time I came across the word ball may have been when my father got me the quintessential striped plastic ball with blue, red and yellow colours. Then came along Cinderella and I knew there is a ball which is an event which people attend dressed fabulously and dance. I am still trying to fathom how on earth one can dance wearing glass slippers. Super Durable Glass I must say and they would have been quite heavy wouldn't they ? 

The Yule ball is an event that happens during the Triwizarding tournament in the Goblet of Fire book of Harry Potter series. The participants are supposed to bring partners and there are some happenings around who dances with who and who ends up sabotaging all hopes of a good time.I thought Emma Watson looked ravishing in that scene in the movie. 

Dancing in pairs like this is a concept we Indians came to know from the West. During the days of the British Raj it was common for the English residing in India to have events where the English gentlemen waltzed with their ladies. But the Indians mostly did not have access nor were culturally inclined towards it.   It is not a common practise in India to have Prom nights or other similar events in high school.   I came to know of them mainly from Hollywood movies and TV series. In college though, we had a dance workshop where I learnt ones like Tango, Waltz and Jive for fun and put up a show just for fun.

We do have our own share of community  dancing.Visit an Indian wedding and you would know. If you have watched Indian movies you would be accustomed to the fact that music and dance play important roles.Music direction and Choreography are significant departments in movie making. This sort of dancing has a huge influence on the masses especially kids and the youth. We have dance festivals, dance competitions, TV shows based on dancing and simple just-enjoy party dancing. During my teens , a Philips tape recorder was my constant companion and I loved dancing in my room ignoring my mother's pleas to reduce the volume ( oh yes I was a rebel!)

We have hundreds of traditional classical dance forms in India that takes years of practise to master with their own rules and methods and practises. They need to be learnt from trained teachers and is done with piety and reverence. A few examples are the BharatnatyamKuchipudi, Kathak and Kathakali

Below is a link to a youtube video giving a glimpse into one such dance form the Bharatnatyam.

Movies, as I mentioned earlier have their own contributions to the art of dancing. Below is a song from a Tamil movie , and I really love the dancing in this one. A song I enjoy dancing to with my little girl.

The traditional and movie based modern dance forms are both encouraged in society and peacefully coexist and sometimes influence one another too . 

What is your favourite dance form ? 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

X for BellatriX and Helena Bonham Carter

 It was so hard finding a word starting with X and that too from the Potter series! I was wavering between Horcrux and Bellatrix and finalized the latter. 

Bellatrix Lestrange! One of the most evil characters in the whole of the Potter series! She is sort of a sadistic maniac who literally worships Lord Voldemort and rejoices inflicting pain and suffering. The point where she kills Sirius Black was an absolute shock.

 That is one character or aspect rather wherein I felt that the movies did a better job than the books! Helena Bonham Carter had sort of magically breathed in so much life into her portrayal. You cannot help feeling absolute loathe and disgust at Bellatrix. Her menacing cackle , the way she whimpers with a mix of fear and excitement when Lord Voldemort addresses her and how she kind of creepily speaks to someone almost crawling behind their backs...the actress nailed it !

Another role by Carter that was pretty amusing was the one of the Queen of Hearts in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.  Her "Off With the Head" at the drop of a hat was so amusing. That was the first movie we took our son to at the cinemas.

One role which she handled with absolute dignity and elegance was her award winning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth(King George VI s wife) in "The Kings Speech".  That one was a movie I really enjoyed and I am a Colin Firth fan.

Recently I saw Oceans Eight and she plays this not so confident dress designer and that was pretty impressive as well. 

Have you watched the Harry Potter movies ? Which actor or actress did you like the best ? 

Monday, April 26, 2021

W for Wand

 One object that makes an appearance in almost every page of the Potter Series and has a significant role to play in the climax is the humble wand. "The wand chooses its owner" as Rowling puts it.

If only I could repair a broken pair of spectacles or for that matter broken bones with a stick! Wands have a unique constituent at their core like a phoenix feather or a dragon heart string or a unicorn tail hair as in Harry's case. 

I think the first time I heard about a wand was in the Cinderella story as a little girl. The whole concept of getting a carriage and a pretty dress and glass slippers at the swish of a wand!!! Its a Oooh! How magical! feeling and quite a girly thing I believe . 

A couple of years ago for Halloween(its catching up here as well) my little girl was a garden fairy. She wore a green dress and it was easy to make a wand with cardboard and glittery paper. Five year old girls atleast in this part of the world love tiara s and wands! 

I think holding an object like this in ones hand gives a sense of power or authority. Perhaps that is the reason monarchs and kings carried a sceptre in the good old days.( I hope I spelt that one right, the English language and its Cs after the S do confound me). I seriously wonder what exactly is the use of a sceptre other than looking majestic in pictures ( considering the fact that there was no photography at that time)

These poor guys already had clothes that were overflowing and super heavy. Combine the heavy jewellery and crown and on top of that something to hold aloft! Life was not easy for a king! 

Another hand held stick I can think of is the mace carried by the leader of the military band. During the band formation, there are some maneuvers done using that including throwing it up in the air. It's apparently called a mace (Had to google that one) .  It kind of adds a finishing touch to the band though it plays no part in the music getting played. Does it help in conducting the show similar to what a conductor does for an orchestra? Oh yes he carries a stick too and that is called a baton, I believe. 

The mace I knew was the English translation of the Gadha a huge solid iron weapon depicted in Indian mythology stories as a a kind of iron ball with a long handle. The warriors in our stories had their own speciality in weaponry. Some were skilled archers as Arjuna and there were those like Bhima or Hanuman who yielded the Gadha. And most of our deities are represented with a Gadha symbolizing protection. 

Perhaps a judge is given a gavel for the same reasons. Why not a bell ? A stick in hand portrays authority! 

What are your thoughts?

V for Veritaserum

 Imagine a tonic, drinking which you are forced to speak out the truth and only the truth and nothing but the truth ! Forget about all the holy books upon which one has to swear in some courts of the world ! Such a tonic exists in the Harry Potter world and it is called Veritaserum.

Usually the term coined by Rowling has some roots that add a lot of sense to the explanation.  Veritas is supposed to be the Roman goddess of truth.

It is kind of the lie detector or the truth forcer of the wizarding world. 

I am reminded of Jim Carrey s Liar Liar movie. He also has a kind of truth spell affecting him. I recall a scene where he holds a red pen aloft and tries to declare " this pen is blue"  but his mouth fails to cooperate and declares the truth! 

Honesty is a virtue or character trait that is instilled from a very young age. But hush-hush circumstances and scenarios are universal, I believe.

Imagine if we all were like Pinocchio. For every simple lie we utter ( oh yes we all do I am sure) our noses would react. It would have been impossible to wear masks, I reckon ! 

My dad was manager of a company and his work was predominantly in sales and he was pretty passionate about his work. Every time a salesman selling a vacuum cleaner or a hand blender would ring our bell for door to door sales he would give them coffee and some paternal advise . He would say " in this profession you must first learn to lie a bit. "

There is a Tamil movie song called Azhagu. It means beautiful. A little girl sings that falling leaves are as beautiful as the flowers and the scorching sun is as beautiful as the rain .

In the long there are lines 

Punnagai Veesidum paarvaigal Azhagu

Parvaigal theerndhadhum mounangal azhagu

Nanmaikku sollidum poygalum azhagu

Beautiful are the looks that smile

Beautiful are the silences that follow these looks

Beautiful are the lies told for the good (reasons)

Saturday, April 24, 2021

U for Unicorn

Unicorns appear in the very first of the Potter books. Voldemort who does not have a form yet and is housed on Professor Quirril's head uses him to kill a unicorn and drink its silvery blood as it is supposed to keep alive anyone on the brink of losing his life. But killing a pure and defenseless animal would result in a cursed life.

Harry Potter has a unicorn hair as the core of his wand and hence it's one of the finest .

I always felt that black stallions look pretty majestic but somehow these one horned horses are always depicted in white colour and they are supposed to be a dazzling white. I wonder why no detergent companies have a unicorn for a logo! 

Recently I heard about a tiny black hole that has been discovered in space and has been named the unicorn.  Usually when something is a rare occurrence it gets such a name .

It was recently that I came to know that a term called unicorn company is becoming widely used in the business world. Apparently a privately held startup company valued at more than a billion dollars is called by that term. 

During one of my trips to the Underwaterworld aquarium I saw a white fish with a horn like projection on its forehead. I thought it looked like a unicorn and then came to know that it bears precisely the same name . "Unicorn fish" 

I used to play a game with my kids where we used to name one animal each for every letter of the alphabet. We usually used to get stuck at U. After this trip we had a new one to add to our list . Now my son tells me there is a Ulesseus butterfly for U.

Do you know any other animals that start with U ? I may have missed a common one too !!