Reflection of the Creator

He stealthily painted the skies, the clouds, the hills and trees and right when he was rinsing his paint brush at the pond, I caught him.

Red-handed.

Or rather Silver handed, as the color of the Sun was dripping from his paintbrush, leaving the pond in a shimmery silvery-grey hue almost like a portal into another world.

His shirt was Earth colored, his hair was a nest with twigs and dried leaves tangled amidst them, his eyes shone with passion from all the beauty around him that he had created, his feet was slick with mud, his hand was dripping silver and beneath his arms and on his back, his shirt had a wet patch of melted snow.

Before I could reach him, he dived into the waters, and vanished into the pool of silver-grey that he had created from his paint brush. I ran to the spot and waited for him to resurface, but as the minutes passed by, the ripples reduced, the surface of the water became clear and I stood there looking at the face staring back at me.

He was long gone into a world he had created with his paint brush. Leaving my reflection in his place. He was me. I was him. I just don’t see how, I just don’t see it yet.

My Top 10 Something New Everyday Hits

Imagine your life changing positively in a month. Imagine you looking back at the end of a month and realising that you actually lived it! You did not just work, eat and exist, but you made progress in your personal life. That was November to me.

I had taken up the #SomethingNewEveryday Challenge on Instagram and that made my November very exciting and meaningful. It was an impulsive decision. I did something new on November first and decided to continue it everyday for 30 days. The result? I am not the same person I had been a month ago. I have become more productive, focused and reduced the bouts of overthinking I used to do.

The challenge involved doing something new everyday for 30 days of November. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t well planned but I am happy with the results. Here are my Top 10 Something New everyday hits:

  1. I Made The 100 Things in 1000 days list – A challenge within the challenge. I made a list of things I want to do within the next 1000 days. 🙂 My sister and I had been planning to make this list since the beginning of 2017. I finally made it only because I had to do something new that day and now I intend to see at least one-third of it materialise.
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  2. A New Piercing – Something I had been intending to do for about 3 years. My life was taking a new turn and it was now or never. I decided to get it done and that gold trinket on top of my ear is the result of a new piercing that I got done in November. Ain’t it pretty? o:)Capture7.PNG
  3. A Brand New Phone – Another biggie that I had been planning on buying forever. Here is a video of my brand new OnePlus 5 Slate Grey ❤ I have been using mediocre phones forever and this is the reminder of an achievement – Me clearing CA and getting a job. It is more than just a phone.

4. Moved to Bangalore – Well, that day’s something new was that I woke up in Bangalore. I was rooted to Kochi and this November Challenge made moving to Bangalore easier. I was all teary eyed and whiny in the beginning. But this challenge kept me occupied, excited and happy.

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5. Started Taking Morning Walks  – After I moved to Bangalore, I used the opportunity to change my lifestyle. The first step was to wake up earlier than usual to go for a morning walk. I thought an investment would make me more responsible and so I purchased a pair of shoes and jogger pants. I still am continuing my morning walks. 🙂

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6. Meditation – Another something I have been trying to work on. As though on the Universe’s cue, my sister introduced me to the app called ‘Meditation’. After my morning walks, I spend about 15 minutes in the park meditating.

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7. New Cuisine – For a couple of something new, I tried out new cuisines or delicacies. I went to Taco Bell and tried Tacos and Fajitas for the first time in my life. I also tried the Bombay Kulfi and Ice cream from Coldstone creamery, in spite of not being an ice cream person. Do you know what the Universe told me when I went to Taco Bell?

Said the Universe
Said the Universe

8. Walk in Art Class – I do not go anywhere without planning and most importantly without company. For the first time, I decided to check out the Cubbon Park, and the Pencil and Chai event that was going on there. I walked in, spoke to a bunch of strangers, sat and made a live sketch for the first time!

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9. Changed to Copper Bottle – I have been trying to reduce the usage of plastic and plastic covers. I have also been interested in using copper or clay vessels. As I went to a shop in search of a bottle, this copper bottle happened to me and as a result another something new. Sometimes, new things just happen effortlessly! 🙂

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10. Met a Blogger and Kept a Friend – Darshith from Smiles Here and Smiles There warmly welcomed me to Bangalore and ensured that I wouldn’t leave for another couple of years. I spent every minute I spent with him and as I left, I was sure that I had made a new friend. 🙂

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The best things that happened solely because of the challenge are the morning walk and meditation that I still continue. Many of the new things happened on their own accord. The challenge helped me realize them, acknowledge them and be grateful for them. If not for this challenge, I wouldn’t have looked at buying the copper bottle as a positive lifestyle change. I wouldn’t have gone to Cubbon park to experience something new.

The benefits of Something New Everyday did not end with November. Because of my sketching experience in Cubbon park, yesterday I went and purchased a drawing book and pencils. I now, intend to explore the artist in me. This November and the challenge have transformed me no matter how minuscule the change is. I am aware that I have not merely existed. So when life begins to get dull, I will take up this challenge again.

For those who are interested in this challenge and want to know more about it, I will be writing another post on the Dos’ and Donts’ of the challenge next week. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. It would help me with the next week’s post.

So would you like to take up this challenge?

PS – You can see all my #Somethingneweveryday challenge posts in Instagram @afew.handpickedthings. Do follow me to keep in touch. 🙂

 

Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty (Part II)

Narikulam Tharavadu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read Part I of our trip here: Trip to Kuzhippilly Beach & Narikulam Tharavadu

When the previous post ended, we were seated at the Narikulam Tharavadu dining table, with widened eyes, grumbling tummies and ready to pounce on a sumptuous feast. Before I continue, I’d like to rewind a bit here.

We are a part of this amazing community on Facebook called Eat Kochi Eat. Facebook really came in handy with this group, where Cochin Foodies post their reviews about the new eateries, their discoveries and all sorts of dishes from all sorts of food joints. Within the last four months, I realized that I haven’t visited most of the must visit food joints here. And so, I already covered 4 the week after exams! 😛 This is where we got to know about this Homestay. We had added it in a ‘to-attack’ list and suggested this place to the group for our trip. Before going to Narikulam tharavadu, you are supposed to inform them about the visit, give them a list of food you’ll want and the headcount. We had ordered Chicken fry, chicken curry, beef, Fish fry, chappati & Appam. The quantity of each depended upon who likes what.

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Yummilicious appam, chappati, fish fry, chicken fry, beef
Yummilicious appam, chappati, fish fry, chicken fry, beef

The food was amazing and very much filling. In fact, almost a quarter of it was left after we were done. So, I am talking about high quantity Naadan (Authentic country-side) food, comprising entirely of non-veg at affordable prices! You read that right. The food along with Payasam (Dessert) cost us just Rs. 200 per head. I’d like to add that prices differ with the type of fish you opt for. Even so, the experience was worth much more than this.

We thanked Paul chettan for the food, clicked some more pictures and as per his suggestion, made our way to the Nedungad Boat Jetty nearby. How do I even begin to describe it? As the land tapered to end in the Kollam Kottapuram Waterway, we found ourselves surrounded by water and myriad species of birds. It cannot be compared to a normal beach or a lake view since the landscape was such that, at one point, all we could see was water. I am in loss for words and so, I’ll let my friend’s pictures speak from now on.

The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water
The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water
There was a tiny hut and some lambs playing around. :)
There was a tiny hut and some lambs playing around. 🙂
Coconut trees and backwaters - True essence of Kerala
Coconut trees and backwaters – True essence of Kerala

The Boat Jetty was unplanned and the uniqueness of it made the trip all the more memorable. If you plan a visit to Kochi anytime, and if you are looking for a Homestay and authentic Malayali Non-Veg food, Narikulam Tharavadu Homestay is the best choice. I cannot comment on the Vegetarian food since we didn’t have any. Besides, I always have a soft corner for the Tamil Vegetarian dishes. So, I strongly recommend this place for the Non-vegetarians. Also, they have homestay package at Rs. 2000 per night with food for a couple. As promised in the previous post, here are the details:

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Here are the details of the Homestay. Enjoy!

I sign off with a picture of us – The kachara team! The Minions! The Chipmunks! Five extreme people with entirely different characteristics that gel so well with each others’, and ofcourse the Homestay! 😛

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Looks too beautiful right?

Pic Courtesy – All the images here were clicked by these guys ^ 😀

Grand Procession of Maa Kaali & HER Padaarpan at our Residence

I have been blogging for many years now. All the while, this space was filled with my ideas and words. Today, for a change, we have a guest.
Abhinav Kumar is an Engineer by degree, a fashion freak and loves traveling. He has graced A Few Handpicked Things with a post close to his heart since it forms a nostalgic part of his childhood. Hope you will like it as much as he enjoyed writing it. Don’t forget to check more of his writings on StyleBurp.

This is a delayed, long- due post from the 6th day of Navratra of Maa Katyayni. I want to make you all aware of this very beautiful ritual or tradition, you can call it. This is a much-awaited event of Ramleela in the city for which people wait with full excitement and eagerness. People come from nearby villages and small towns to witness this event and also to take blessings from Maa Kaali. We take blessings from Maa Kaali too.
This is an old tradition from several years ago. I have seen and heard from people that on 6th day of Navratri, a person is selected from local akhaara to play the auspicious role of Maa Kali at Ramleela. But this is not merely a role because, in the opinion of the locals, it is the incarnation of Goddess Kaali herself to bless the people.
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This person is trained at least a month prior to running and is given dry fruits and nutritious diet to keep him fit to run across the city. On the 6th day of each Navratri, a grand procession of Maa Kaali is organized twice every year where he is painted all black from neck to toe. A long mask with headgear is worn by him along with a sword (real) and khappar for prasad. He sits in the temple to worship Maa Kaali followed by hawan. Amidst the worship, he gets up, takes his sword and starts running around. This is being said, “Maa Kaali ka aavesh aa gaya”. A real sword is given in his hand and if any killing takes place during this procession, up to 7 such accidents will not be considered for filing a case against him.
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The procession starts with the dances of eunuchs as this dance is considered sacred on this day. Then, comes the procession “Shaakinis, Daakinis” where some people get thrilled and children get scared seeing them. The other attractions of the procession are “Jhaankis” of various Gods and Goddesses depicting their Leelas.
Not only this, but 5-6 laanguras also travel with Maa Kaali and they all are painted in yellow as you can see in the pics below. These 7-8 people run around barefoot all over the city which is incredible and unbelievable, but it is true since I have been a witness to this myself over the years.
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All the pictures are taken at my residence’s entrance or outer area where Maa Kaali comes and blesses us with other citizens too.
After traveling across the city, Maa Kaali proceeds towards the Ramleela and plays the character there and the procession ends with Maa Kaali ka Jaikaara.
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This post is written as a part of #BlogForward – a guest blogging initiative with my amazing blog buddies from team WriteOn.

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Trip to Kuzhippilly Beach & Narikulam Tharavadu

100 Happy Days – Day 90

I had made a bucketlist 2016 when this year began and one of the elements in it was to make at least 5 trips this year. I don’t think the number went very well. But as unexpected as life could be, I found myself in a few immensely beautiful places a couple of days back – Kuzhippilly Beach, Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty.

Writing professional exams could just wear you off big time. So, the five of us and a qualified CA decided to meet up, spend a night together and go on a trip the next day. Nothing fancy, somewhere in or around Kochi. After a night full of clicking pictures, non-stop chattering and barely few hours of sleep, we drowsily picked ourselves up and went for breakfast. Nothing else could shun your drowsiness better than food. So after the breakfast, we were on fire! We made our way to our first destination. The Kuzhippilly beach.

Lined with pine trees and rusted benches, this beach is more beautiful than the famous Cherai beach. Situated in the outskirts of Kochi, Kuzhippilly beach is around 4 kms (Source: Google Map) away from Cherai. For those who prefer less crowd and more shade, this place is the best option. With lots of tiny brown crabs (I think they are called Sand Crabs) running around and emerging from the sand, and the thatched roof Umbrellas, this is one of the most picturesque beaches near Kochi.

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Pine trees at the Beach

We spent about 2 hours in the waters, clicking pictures & walking amidst the shady pine trees. We found a beautiful shell and, after ensuring that the owner had deserted his home, my friend pocketed it.

When the thought of food started creeping into our heads, we made our way to destination number two, the highlight of the trip (Food always comes first) – Narikulam Tharavadu.

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A View enroute to Narikulam Tharavadu
Kerala - God's own country
Those white cranes were everywhere!

Tharavadu is generally an ancestral home in Kerala where people lived as a joint family. Nowadays, most of these families have split and live separately, but many of the ancestral homes remain. Situated near St. Augustine Church, Nedungad, Nayarambalam, is the Narikulam Tharavadu. Set amidst the lap of nature, with greenery all around and a canal behind it; they have preserved the house so well that, if you are a Keralite, a wave of nostalgia hits you the moment you enter the premises. Such houses are the true essence of Kerala.

Paul chettan gave us a very warm welcome and patiently explained everything about the place. He answered all our queries, showed us around and made us feel at home. As they went about preparing our food, we were left to explore the place.

One of the things that fascinated me was, the way they had managed waste and artifacts that were no longer in use. They had used dried seeds and parts of the palm tree to decorate the house. We even found two shoes outside with plants in them. They also had grown plants in an old, rusted Kindi (pitcher) and an Aattukallu (Wet Grinder). The base stone, Arakkallu from the grinding Apparatus was used as the base for the pitcher. They gave an aesthetic look, placed around the Nadumuttam (The central area with a meshed ceiling) and never for a second did they seem out of place.

The plant in the pitcher placed atop the base of the grinder. What you see behind is the Nadumuttam.
The plant in the pitcher placed atop the base of the grinder. What you see behind is the Nadumuttam.

My favorite part about these houses is the Nadumuttam. During the day, it is the source of natural light that gives a mellow glow to the surroundings and during the night, you can watch the stars. Don’t get me started on how it looks when it begins to rain. I can’t believe that these houses are dwindling with time!

A peek at the interiors of a typical tharavadu
A peek at the interiors of a typical tharavadu

We spent a lot of time outside, near the canal awed at the abundance of nature, clicking pictures and wondering why we never got to know about this place earlier. A photographer’s paradise, my friends simply couldn’t stop clicking pictures. Our grumbling tummies showed us the way to the dining table and now I’d call it a Foodie’s paradise too!

So we saw this irresistible spread on the table… Er… Isn’t the post getting a bit too lengthy? Besides, I am reminded of all the food we ate that day and I so need a break. I’ll be back with part 2 of this post; all the yummy food and a surprise thereafter. Heads up: The Food part is focused on the Non-vegetarians & it is going to be a bit heavy. So, ensure that you are filled up. If you wish to visit this Homestay, the details will be given in the next post – Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty (Part II)🙂

Image courtesy for the first 3 pics – My dear friend Hrusheekesh Anilkumar

A Peahen in my Enchanted Woods

100 Happy Days – Day 89
This green patch of woods and the canal behind my apartment have always been close to my heart. They remind me of the Enchanted woods in Enid Blyton’s Faraway tree series. I could sit looking at them for hours, weaving stories in my head.
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They get all the more irresistible when it rains. During the monsoons, the intensity of the green multiplies manifold and the brown of the trees get browner. The contrast of the green against the brown makes the place look magical & the term ‘Emerald woods’ would come to my mind.
I remember making a Haiku inspired by the place.
The place is infested with snakes and sometimes I find tiny turtles in the canal. Birds of various kinds flock in & out – Cranes, kingfishers, Mynah, Pigeons, Parrots, Black fork-tailed birds and much more whose names I don’t know. But today was a first for me as I found this huge, brown bird walking through the woods. My suspicions were confirmed after I stared at it in awe for a long while. The white head crest and the long neck could never be mistaken.
I found a brown Peahen in my Emerald woods, behind my apartment! ❤
PS – I couldn’t take a picture of the Peahen since it was too far away and blended well amidst the greens & browns. This is my very own magical woods as seen from my window 🙂

The Emerald Tears

 

The skies cried.
The emerald tears
Froze on Earth.

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Note – This is a view from my window this monsoon. The water weeds & the weeds from the woods have merged to give this wondrous spectacle.

Stars on Earth

The bright twinkling silver drops

Like diamonds studded in pitch black canvas

Fell for her every night.

 

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Stars on Earth

Following my biggest ever writer’s block, Parul at Happiness and Food, Somali at Prepforum & Jan at Jan’s Doodles suggested I do photo prompts. With a bit of push from Jithin’s side, here is my entry for Mundane Monday Challenge. Thank you guys. 🙂

I have been thinking of giving Haiku a try and here is my first ever attempt at it. Haiku is a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five.

This was taken at Vallikkavu, Kollam (Kerala) last month. I am sure, you know what beautifully mundane things they are. I didn’t know that this picture would one day initiate my first ever Haiku and help me get back to blogging. The world’s weird ways.

Signing off for now in the hopes of getting back tomorrow. 🙂