Tuesday, May 02, 2023

 Long Post warning. Ponniyin Selvan - Part 2

My take.

Happy to have got tickets on the 4th day of its release. PS2 has been watched. Here’s the thing. For PS1, all those who had read and loved the book(s) were cautioned not to compare movie and book and they ended up having a great experience watching PS1, for the most part.

With respect to PS2, everyone seems to have forgotten the movie NOT-equal-to book thing and also, I guess there IS a LOT more deviation from the original story. Having not read the books yet, I was in the ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ mode and the experience was pretty close to bliss, I must say. The music was more uplifting in PS2 than PS1 I felt, despite ‘Ponni Nadhi’ being a favourite song of mine. I don’t know if the song ‘Veera Raja Veera’ was meant to cause goosebumps, but it did for me. Tamil blood and all that jazz. 😁

May I say that Vikram must only act in such films and STOP choosing his own scripts (!) 😂 which have mostly been rather abominable starting with Bheema. What a magnificent performer who’s not acted in good-enough films for too long. It’s such a relief to see him in this one. ❤️ He steals every scene he’s in. The other (apart from Actor Karthi)  who is his partner in crime in stealing scenes, is  Aishwarya Rai. I haven’t ever given her too much attention as a performer because like all the kings and princes who are stupefied by her beauty in PS, in real life too, it’s her beauty that distracts. This role as Nandini has GOT to be the biggest feather in her cap as far as I know.

Someone online weirdly suggested that Nayantara could have been Nandini but er…erm, NO! A resounding NO. First of all, Mani Ratnam aka MR, knows better (!) and second of all, let her emote more first. Sure, she’s pretty and has an amazing screen presence, but I’m sorry that no director has brought out her acting skills to the fullest as yet. I believe she has IT but is largely under-utilised as an actor. Keeping a poker or serious face ain’t no proof of great performance. We’ve all played STATUE as kids, eh. (Granted, we lost to giggles and snorts🤭)

Besides, to add to the mind-numbing beauty quotient, the colour of Aishwarya Rai’s eyes enhances the effect. (No, no don’t say contact lens can do it and all). Her countenance in every scene was simply riveting. 

I feel that all the actors have FELT their roles in this one. I bet the coach had a lot to do with it (MR). Not everyone can be a Sivaji Ganesan and wear the role of a king or GOD (!) like their first skin — not even second. Today, most folks need help. Well, they’ve apparently got all the help they need and the costumes are super without being over the top, the sets and scenes are stunning without taking away from performances, and the music has truly uplifted the film with the right crescendos at the right moments. The language is also not overwhelming.

Karthi is just getting better and better as an actor and so is Trisha. Jayaram is always a class act in any role.
Performances ✅
Music ✅ - ARR Vaazhga!
Story ✅ as a movie. Blissfully ignorant about movie versus book but let me share that there seem to be plenty of miffed Kalki / PS fans out there. But even they must agree that it’s a good film. The producer must be gungho! Great result.
Fight scenes ✅ I dislike violence and gore like yanything, but in a movie like this with a war scene, what to expect if not bloodshed. Even that was tastefully done.

I’ll be watching it again sometime later.
Make of that what you will 😇
#ps2 #ponniyinselvan #moviereview #personaltake
Images Courtesy: Google / somewhere online 

Monday, March 06, 2023

Vanakkam from Chennaigaga's Co-Founder and Owner. My name is Sujata Tarakesan. Check out the website and brand here: chennaigaga.com

Do you know? I have run Chennaigaga for 13 years now. First of all, I cannot believe that I have been at one thing steadfastly for 13 years (which I just wrongly typed as 30 and backspaced the hell up. THAT post is for another time -- in 17 years, to be precise! :))). 😊 
Before you judge, I make this statement about sticking with this one thing because of the number of setbacks I have faced with it quite single-handedly -- both personally and professionally.

I have gained a helluva lot of experience, witnessed first-hand the sheer joy of mirroring the customers' happiness, and engaged with thousands of people through these years with Chennaigaga. I have also acquired more knowledge in the zone I work in, empathy towards people and situations, the warm friendship and unconditional support of many of our customers, and a deep understanding of the word 'consequences'. 😂 

Doing something for the first time which others didn't get around to -- ie, making Chennai themed t-shirts and merchandise thereby providing people with souvenirs they had always wished were available for Chennai city, is the biggest and plumiest feather in my cap. 

I do however, have mixed feelings. I've suffered losses in people, partnerships and money in these 13 years. Some losses are forever while others can and will be replaced. 

Business (micro or macro) changes you as a person. You evolve. And there's no going back after that to who you used to be. And it shows in my eyes, in my face, in my persona. It's time and experience. I have no intention of botoxing my way through anything and so, in a nutshell, I have aged a lot. Especially since Covid hit. That was below the belt. 

This had to be said. I need it out of my system. We were re-christened twice. Each was better. At first, we were The GAGA Shoppe, a multi-branded but predominantly Chennaigaga store in Besant Nagar. And then we were Chennaigaga(R) - The GAGA Shoppe on TTK Road. And THEN, we were the FIRST OFFICIAL CSK SUPERSTORE at the same location. That's the time Life showed us how GOOD it could have been for 12 days before the Covid pandemic shut us and everything else down! Things came to a standstill. 

As for me, after being a bustling individual rushing between motherhood things, home-making, shop-management, people-management, creative concepts, marketing and sales, hearty customer engagements, statutory work and more ... to staring at the ceiling completely lost. During the first Lockdown of 2020, I cooked, cleaned, walked, did what I could online with no scope of daring to dream further. I listened to birds chirping a lot and wondered whether they had chirped before the lockdown also! That's a peek into my urbanised life. I LOVE greenery, the mountains and the ocean and I love gazing at high res pics of all the beautiful birds and animals. I LOVE trees and bushes and shrubs. I always prefer a holiday in the hills, to disconnect from the digital life and daily routines and reconnect with Nature in a purer form. But the lockdown was not the time for that. It raised my anxiety. As SOON as they allowed us to open stores, I dashed out of the house, got the store cleaned up and masked myself and my 2 support staff up and got back to work. It wasn't just about Chennaigaga, I also had to keep the CSK flag flying high. But that just wasn't the year for either CSK or retail in general and so, we had to shut the physical store in December of 2020. The 2021 surge in the deadly pandemic pushed my anxiety to depression. (I know I am not alone in this plunge but this is my post and I am unable to stop myself typing this stuff all out now.) Nothing looked possible. Every effort was blocked. Multiple workshops, gyans from online business Gurus and boosts from close friends to help me sustain Chennaigaga didn't really work. It was me. My spirit had cracked. 

End 2020, when they ripped the name boards off the walls outside the store and pulled the hangers and fittings off the walls inside the store, I had to stand there and supervise and dispose of stuff. Dismantling, disengaging, disconnecting. I had to let my truly well-trained shop staff go. We helped them find alternatives as best as we could, but it was hard. I did put on a brave face using the phrase 'practical decision' a lot, but it was tough. I, who had sat stoic through my beloved father's funeral when I was 22, called upon that weird numbness to get through the process of closing the store down. It was not an old store we were closing. It was in a brand new 'Chennai & CSK' superstore avatar, but the losses were huge (for me as an individual) and so, it had to be a cold, hard decision. One I am not allowed to regret because that was the only practical way forward. I was and am, lucky to have the support of beloved customers, friends and family who helped in different ways and continue to help till date, even as I type this and I hope I do justice to all that unconditional support one day very soon.  

Anyway, that all said, on a deeply personal note, what I love most about Chennaigaga is that I am not bored with it at all. And I'm banking on our customers feeling the same way(!). I love most of the designs we have come up with. I love the way people engage with the brand. I love the way they come back for more. I love their involvement and feedback. I love their patience when we are not being all that we could because of financial difficulties. I love their support and their emotional connect because it helps me carry on in search and hope of a brighter future. There's still so much to be done at Chennaigaga. As a brand, it's only now a teenager. A lot of shaping up and channeling our strengths in greater ways is happily prospected. 

All we need is a like-minded investor...or two. 

You may think "Oh, investment -- well, this is The Story of all businesses"? 

Maybe, but we have a wonderful USP, a powerful niche and proof of a rich customer history in our records, as well as 'social proof'. So, this is me telling the Universe that this wholly-woman owned business is going strong in creativity and operations and needs money in funding and reserves to march on, to get bigger and better with super-exciting prospects still hidden up our sleeve. 

Email me at sujata@chennaigaga.com if you would like to be a part of our growth journey in any way.

Thanks for reading. Check out the website and brand here: chennaigaga.com

Loss of the fundamentals

Well, hello and Vanakkam, I am writing this post after quite a few years to indulge in a little rant. I just saw a guy on Linkedin driving and giving gyan on the topic of his choice.

Unfollowed him just for that. C'mon. Isn't this so very basic? How is it Ok to place your mobile in front of you just because you're in traffic (even if slow-moving) and go on a long monologue which you're recording and announcing so also. 

It's off-putting because it's a distraction at the wheel. Believe me, I am the Queen of being distracted and I love driving and I am not faultless in that department either -- of multi tasking while driving. But at least I wouldn't put it out on a serious platform like Linkedin as though it's alright and would not hamper my judgement at the wheel. Say what you want, but it will! 

Not recommended for a person who wants to put himself or herself 'out there'. 

So that's one unfollow of the day. Keeping it simple and blocking what bothers me. 

Works well. 

That, and posting about it here, of course. 

End rant.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Throwback cos it's nearly Thursday - my favourite coasters

When I was young, we had a lot of interesting things at home. My Dad was a collector of unique showpieces and display/household items. He also had an extensive crystal collection. Since I wasn't allowed to touch the breakable stuff like his precious crystal / porcelain collection, I felt free to toy with what was in regular use. Like a couple of coasters.
They were round and light-hearted in design and caption. I remember two of them specifically. One had a :-) Smiley face. The caption was SMILE. IT MAKES PEOPLE WONDER WHAT YOU'RE UP TO.
I caught on to that right away and enjoyed doing it right through my teens (not on purpose perhaps). Whenever i smiled, people did ask why i was smiling, or became uncomfortable. That was fun.
The other coaster I recall, had this caption with a bull caricature: "I'm a bit of a bullshitter myself, but 'YOU' go ahead, I'm listening." For the longest time, I didn't understand what it meant. I didn't know what bullshit meant, didn't dare ask anyone, & it just didn't strike me to check the dictionary I guess. But the then-forbidden word 'shit' in it made it a fun coaster for me, which I enjoyed setting out on the table whenever we had company.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

SHE did it!

She met him. She fell in love with him; and he with her. She wanted to spend time with him. He did too. They were in a romantic relationship. After some time, he began pulling away. She began pursuing him. He resisted. She persisted. They tried to work it out. She tried different tactics to save the relationship. He began slipping away despite that. She was torn to bits. He wouldn’t give in to her advances. He had fallen out of love with her. She asked. He denied. She begged and pleaded. He wouldn’t agree to continue their relationship. She became passive-aggressive. And then she became needy. It didn’t feel right to him. She appealed to his sympathetic side. He rejected those appeals. She wanted him. He didn’t want her.
She didn’t want to live without him. He withdrew completely. He couldn’t handle her any more. He couldn’t tolerate her tears, persuasion, anger, threats. She followed him around, showing up at his place of work, his residence, his vehicle; his usual jaunts. He became allergic to the sight and mention of her. She became increasingly desperate but was unable to let him go. She was frustrated by his rejection. How could he have loved her so much at first and then turned away so coldly and so finally? She could not accept it. She contemplated being more forceful in her methods so that he could get her message loud and clear -- that she was not going to leave him and that he owed her their relationship.
But then, nothing worked.
He would now have to pay for what he had done to her. Her broken heart had a high price. She considered disfiguring him, but that would require much strategic scheming. So she made up her mind. She knew his whereabouts right through the day having painstakingly stalked him for many days. She kept her weapon ready in her bag and prowled along his route hoping to catch him and make him pay for the pain he had caused her.
She did it!
The media erupted at this incident. The men came all out on their twitter handles and facebook pages condemning not just her and this incident, but they attacked all women with vicious words. They broadcasted their hatred for feminism and bashed all feminists. They alleged that this was what feminism was about. So why should feminists have voices? Why should they get any platform to speak and be heard? Why should they even be tolerated in society? These men targeted each and every feminist they knew and let loose abusive comments. They flirted with restraining orders and police action in their efforts to validate their points against feminism.
They snarled that in the name of feminism, women were getting away with even murder! These men raged and ranted against womenkind. This woman should now be punished in the harshest way possible so that all women learn their lessons and cannot ever, get away with stalking their lovers.
When a man says no, he means no! A man’s personal space is sacrosanct. Every gathering, every tea stall, every news channel gave voice for anguished men to vent their grief. Every small and big injustice by women against men was discussed.

PS - Pained Script. 
Live in Peace, all you pained, disfigured, once-physically-beautiful ladies. The acid splashed on you by those vile men destroyed the life you were used to and you had to then reconcile to a new existence filled with coping mechanisms.
Rest in Peace, all you slayed women. The men who did you in could not take your NO for an answer. For, those villains did not even mean to ask you what you wanted. They just meant to grab and keep what they wanted and when they found they couldn’t do that, they showed their scant regard for the human in womanhood.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

My chemistry with Chemistry

I have no recollection of when Chemistry entered my life. It seemed to have gnawed at me until I simply had to pay attention, and by then, I was in Class 9 and the teachers seemed to be yelling at us to buck up for the 10th standard Board exams. I remember lurking outside the Chemistry lab, desperately trying to avoid the teacher’s eagle eye by looking busy either rummaging in my bag for assorted books & stationery, or bending down to tie my already-tied shoe laces. Most of 9th Standard was spent this way. By the time I reached Class 10, I was a pro at dodging the Chemistry teacher. I would always look harassed, busy, distracted and studious all in quick succession, or I would sidle up to any really good student (most of my friends were ‘good’ students – well academically, anyway) and so, the teacher would think I was earnest and many times, that was enough for her!
Oh, I was earnest alright. Earnest about not getting caught because I understood close to nothing about this subject! Looking back now, I really wonder how I passed the Class 10 feared board exams. The answer is this. God and the Universe (including faraway stars and galaxies) smiled down at me and said ‘thou shalt pass the Class 10 exams and leave Chemistry in peace forever.”
And so, when Chemistry exam morning dawned bright (as it always damn well does on an exam day), I was a nervous bundle of wreck. I was desperate to pass just so I didn’t have to meet with Chemistry ever again. I took my place in the lab quivering like a big jelly fish. I couldn’t meet any one’s eyes in case I broke down in anticipation of not getting my required result of the experiment. I began the experiment without my usual lack of focus and went through the steps as though I was a horse with blinders.
Being such an abysmally poor student of Chemistry, I can only recall this much – that my element for the exam was zinc oxide and I had to get it right by getting green-edged ash on a tissue paper. I only knew the theory of it having studiously steered clear of all experiments, beakers and test tubes until that final moment. For Harry Potter fans, let me share with you, that I was like Neville Longbottom in front of Professor Severus Snape in Potions, designed for disaster and humiliation.

Anyway, as I said, I was smiled upon by the Creator as well as his Creations like the Universe and what not, because I did get the green-edged ash on the edges of my tissue paper. I erupted in glee and (I kid you not here) galloped towards the formidable Chemistry teacher who was lazily lounging on a chair and chatting with the External Examiner looking supremely relaxed. She looked up startled at the galloping gooseberry in front of her as I panted and waved my green edged ash tissue in her face. “Miss, Miss, I got zinc oxide – the correct reaction – green edged ash!” I huffed and I puffed, and showed her most of my teeth as I did this and after a shocked pause, she snapped not unkindly, “Ok. But have you finished writing this out for the exam?” Deflating at once but unable to contain my relief, I quickly turned tail and shuffled back to my spot to write out the experiment knowing I had passed and Chemistry and I were getting an out-of-court hefty divorce settlement on mutual consent and collaboration. It’s what we call a win-win situation. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

World Sparrow Day

Summer afternoons with a tired mom, elderly grandpa and irritable older sister left me lonely…well almost. This is a kuruvi kadhai (sparrow story) on World Sparrow Day. It was the sparrow that kept me fully occupied those humid, boring afternoons. At first, Amma Sparrow built a nest above our big heater in the bathroom. Namma Ooru Summer meant that no heater was ever switched on. So we had bits and pieces of those brown sticks and twigs from the nest regularly falling on our heads. It didn’t help my curly shock of hair one bit. The other problem was that the sparrow eggs were tender and tiny and likely to fall from their perch on the heater. Then, after a couple of eggs were ruined having accidentally rolled out of the nest onto the bathroom floor, the ladies of the house moved the nest carefully to our long, wide verandah. Amma Sparrow didn’t seem to object. Soon we had a few baby fledglings. Those baby sparrows were simply delightful. And they kept me out of the way of the angry Akka, snoozing Thatha and busybee Amma. Two of them managed to gain independence really fast. The 3 rd was a bit slow but tried her best. She became my playmate. There was a drain hole in the floor of the verandah that seemed clogged towards the outlet. It was like a tunnel for the baby sparrow, and am sure she could see the light at the end of it. This baby sparrow couldn’t fly yet but clearly felt ready for some exploration. So, she would try to scuttle into the drain hole. I was terribly worried that she would get stuck there or worse, fall out of the drainhole from the first floor. So, I would put my two fingers in and gently grasp her teeny tail and tug her back out. She would then look a bit confused and again waddle into the hole trying to stuff her tiny body right in before I could catch her tail. But I would always make it in time to tug her back out, tail first, with her expression of resignation still fresh in my mind. I would then happily cradle her soft furry body in my palms before letting her loose to try her luck in the clogged drain hole again. This was our game. It was a never ending one. Rather like this post :-P 
True story. Love sparrows.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

GRR, parents of babies at the movies!

I love babies too. They're cute, innocent, cuddly and what not.

But please don't bring them to a movie theater because there are some souls like me who would like to take a break from routines and sit back and watch a movie in peace in a darkened environment without other unnecessary interruptions.

This couple in the row before me brought one baby each (don't know whether they were twins or what). The babies' crying got louder and louder, but the parents were adamant not to leave, or take the children out for a breather, or even take turns. Why should I and the others in the theater have to put up with this when we have paid for a chilled-out movie experience and driven 45 minutes one-way for it? The movie was a violent one with a lot of fights. The parents should have known better!

I did shush them a few times with a general 'shhh' but nothing worked. Hmph.