Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dear brain, don't you ever rest?

When I sniff the delicious aroma emanating from the kitchen,
You wonder what is cooking.
When I hear the neighbour's child cry,
You wonder if the poor thing is hurt.
When I see the pretty colours of the evening sky,
You wonder what time it is.
When I taste salt in the air,
You wonder if the beach is near.
Dear brain, don't you ever rest?

Hard worker

Multi-million neurons
Spiking and talking
Shaking their hands
Wagging their fingers
Synergizing
Synchronizing
The orchestrated performance
The hard work they put in
Even to make me blink
Oh, the marvels of the brain!

Demands of existence: the binding force

Work demands your intelligence and concentration,
Hobbies cry for your creativity and time,
Family calls for your love and care.
And what you really need to give them all,
Are your body, mind and soul!

Divide and conquer

In school, knowledge is divided into subjects.
In the body, functioning is divided into limbs.
In computing, a program is divided into functions.
In a book, the plot is divided into chapters.
In language, a sentence is divided into parts of speech.
And oh, you were able to conquer them all.
Yet, try not the same technique to conquer the mind!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Roasting peanuts is an art

Mom never roasts peanuts at home. In fact, it is not done in most Tamilian households (I do not know how it is in other parts of India; never struck me to ask my friends!) Not because people are lazy, but because it is TOUGH to roast peanuts. When roasted in a kadai, some peanuts tend to remain raw, others get charred, basically they never get roasted uniformly.

We have these peanut vendors, who come pushing their carts on the street, clanging their kadais with their metal ladles to catch our attention. These people roast peanuts in a sand bath, and it is so tasty, I bet you no one can eat just one. Sitting on the swing outside my house, on an early summer's afternoon, picking up the perfect bronze coloured roasted peanuts, one by one, from the paper cone package and popping it into my mouth. Yummm!

Coming to the point... technology really is a gift! I can now roast peanuts at home, in the microwave oven, and it is just as yummy as the authentic stuff from the street vendor.

Here's how you do it... marinate the peanuts in brine (concentrated salt water) for 10 minutes. Drain the water. Spread out the peanuts on a microwaveable dish, and microwave on High for 8 minutes (less or more depending on the amount of peanuts). Let it cool completely before eating; otherwise it won't be crisp.

Try this... it worked for me!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Midsummer Night's Dream, in verse

I was browsing through some of my old CDs and floppies today evening, because I just did not feel like working. And guess what, I found a lot of stuff which I wrote in school, in my early teens. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a small project of mine, where I tried to express the main plot of some of Shakespeare's plays in verse style. Here's one of the poems (I have done Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth too). And oh, please do remember that this is something I wrote 10 years back!! I guess this would make good reading for kids in their early teens :-)

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

In bygone days, in Mid-Warwickshire
Were Peter and Bottom, an inseperable pair.
Peter for carpentry had a natural flair
And Bottom with his fat nose and red hair
Weaved cloth fit for the best of attire.
And peter of reading would never tire.

Then there were Snug, the joiner
Flute, the bellows-mender, Snout, the tinker
And Starveling the tailor.

And to them Peter would narrate
With sincerity, as though it was a theses,
The story of King Theseus,
Who killed the monster Minotaur
And married Hippolyta, after a war.

But the story they enjoyed the most,
And to tell it, they compelled their host
Was that of Pyramus and Thisbe
With love unending
But unfortunately a sad ending
For both of them assuming
The other dead and glooming
Killed themselves,
Proving their love.

Oft Starveling would tell the story of the elf
Robin Goodfellow or Puck, as he called himself
Who would go out at night, all by himself
And steal out of somebody's shelf
A pint of milk or a pound of salt
But in return, dust and clean their house without fault.
Flute would tell of Oberon and Titania, absolutely unscary.
The King and Queen of fairies, unseeably tiny,
With Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed and the baby
Chickweed, formed their colony.

And so all night the friends would chat
And never, ever would they tire
Of listening to the stories they desired.

And one day, when to their village came
A drama troupe of widespread fame
With many a well known actor,
Our friends decided they would fare better
And what play, to act would they bother....
'Pyramus and Thisbe', and none other.

Bottom was Pyramus and Flute was Thisbe
Starveling, her mother, and Peter, her father.
Snug would be the lion, the destroyer.
And who but Snout would be Pyramus' father.
Posters were put on every fence
And tickets sold for two pence.
Our friends, they would practice every night
Although, once in a while, they did fight.
Bottom would toss in his bed
With nothing but the play in his head.
And in his dream came Theseus
Inviting them to perform at their marriage.
And so, to rehearse, they went to the forest.
He dreamt he found among the nests
The little fairies Titania and Oberon
Who'd just had a fight that morn.
And lo! the fairies grew big, and Bottom
Grew small, till in height they were uniform.

Then, back they were in the palace of Theseus
And there came the old man Egeus
Complaing that his daughter Hermia refused to marry Demetrius
And to Hermia, said Theseus,
"You must act by the words of Egeus."
But Hermia, with her love Lysander,
After the sun went under
Decided to elope like Pyramus and Thisbe
But to their dismay, lost in the woods, their way;
Where the five were practicing their play.

And there came Demetrius for Hermia
And behind him came Helena.
And that Demetrius treated Helena cruelly,
Oberon was overcome by pity
And called Puck, the witty
Who could travel from city to city,
Very, very quickly.
He asked him to fly to the other end of the world
And get the herb,
'love in idleness'
Which would make a person fall in love,
With the first living thing he saw on arising
Be it the giraffe, the camel or the lion king.

He heard the scheming Oberon
Wanted to make Titania fall
For the ugliest of all
To make her pay for the squabble; she caused it afterall.
And with the herb he would cause
Demetrius to fall in love with Helena because
Then Hermia and Lysander would be happy, at last.

And pleased with the happy ending was about to sleep
When the story began to creep,
With Puck who'd just returned
With the herb and two others unmentioned.
One was 'sweet normality'
To use on titania, for he knew, in reality
The two fairies were too thick a family
So, they could never withstand a split.
And the other was 'shaggy-heehaw',
Meant for Bottom, the great 'drama-hit'!

Alas! Puck did squeeze the 'love in idleness'
In Lysander's instead of Demetrius' eyes
And on realization, into both their eyes
And under the dizziness
Both found Helena much too nice.
While enjoying all this
Puck indulged in yet another mischief...
And lo! there was a donkey's in place of Bottom's face.
Poor Titania, in lieu of the herb, fell in love with him, blindly,
And it was Snug, the lion, fiery
Who realized the spell on the fairy and on everybody else
And ordered Puck, the silly
To undo the spell over everybody.

And back to normal,
The scene grew formal
Yet joyful, when Theseus decided about the wedding.
Not just his, but Demetrius' and Helena's
And Lysander's and Hermia's as well.

And Bottom, his form back,
Could almost hear Lysander putting up their posters on the wall's cracks,
"Knock, knock, knock..."
While it was actually Peter at Bottom's door,
"Knock, knock, knock..."

Bottom's dream ended peacefully,
Albeit a little suddenly.
And their show went wonderfully.
The audience loved the show
But bottom does not know,
Buttercups and Herbs and Chickweed
Ended up on his tweed.

And to this day, it is said,
"It is unbelievable, that Shakespeare can write such comedy!"

Monday, March 27, 2006

All the world's a stage

Excerpted from As You Like It, this is one of my favourites among Shakespeare's poems...

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.