November 2007

The title may seem like a post that you would run into krishashok‘s blog – but mine is not even going to half as funny. It just reflects a memory association I made when I thought of Thanksgiving, the upcoming American holiday.

Thanksgiving is (yet) another American holiday whose significance is sort of lost on me and probably to most Americans. Only one thing is plain obvious. On that day, the entire US population (with some exceptions like Indian vegetarians like me) takes it out on one bird – the turkey a.k.a. Vaan Kozhi in Tamil. You even have advertisements during these times where turkeys joke about their impending doom – although somehow I think the turkeys themselves won’t think Thanksgiving is funny. There is certainly historical significance to Thanksgiving but to the casual observer like me that simply has given away to cooking and eating Turkey, and watching American football. I will certainly participate in the latter – watching football. But I love Thanksgiving anyway. Why you ask? Hey – a four day weekend during November. So who cares why?

Anyway, like I said earlier, the “Vaan-Kozhi Biriyani” is a nostalgic reference for me. Ha! When I phrase it that way, it sounds ironically funny even to me – being a vegetarian and all.

Long, long long ago in a land far way, I was in my high school volleyball team. Before you may be tempted to think “wow – not bad”, I actually sucked – I was in the team only because some of my friends literally ran the team. We went to participate in a district tournament. We knew we will get our butts kicked, because, in reality, our entire team sucked. So this was just like a nice picnic trip – to “exotic” Dharapuram.

We were put up in some high school. We arrived late evening, and spent the night in a classroom. No bedding of any sort, just slept on old creaky classroom benches. I remember the benches havning a lot of creative scribblings on all the swear words in Tamil n various permutations and combinations, and used in the context of different teacher’s body parts. Like a refresher course on how to creatively swear in Tamil – not that our group needed them. But we soon decided these weren’t as creative as our own high school benches and went to sleep – although not adding a few scribblings about our P.T teacher, our coach, who was snoring away happily.

Next morning, we did our morning duties near the river amidst lush green paddy fields. We then went to the best (since it was the only) restaurant nearby – a “pottikkadai” styled Military Hotel”. As we walked in, we see the sign (in tamil) – “Today’s special – Vaan Kozhi Biriyani”. Half of us did not even know what Vaan-Kozhi was, and thought it was some wild forest bird, and that we were walking into some sort of a slaughter house where “anything that moves gets eaten”. Sort of like some “road kill Cafes” in US, where “you eat what you kill”. Anyway, this half of us were real “Thayir Saadhams” – had not even eaten an omelet in our lives (well, things have changed for me since then …).

I can still remember the uneasiness in our faces as we ordered Dosai, knowing that the Dosai was probably made on the same stone, where the guy has just then sauted the Vaan-Kozhi. Some skipped lunch altogether. But not me – I loved and still love Dosai too much. And it was tasty – vaan-kozhi flavored or not. I still remember us laughing about the vaan-kozhi Biriyani, maybe because that was the last time we laughed in Dharapuram that day as we got steam-rolled an hour later by the best team of the district.

But for this thanksgiving, not even vaan-kozhi Biriyani for me. But Dosai and some American football is good enough for a road-trip down memory lane.

Fall in ChicagoFall in Chicago

In places that do have a perceptible change of seasons, one of the seasonal treats is the change of colors in the leaves of the trees at the start of Autumn/Fall. It is like the last hurray, last party of the trees before Winter. Of course, when winter is over, they welcome spring with a nice party (spring flowers) too.

It is times like these that make me realize that there is always so much beauty in the nature all around us, and many of us are just too much wrapped in our own shell to notice it. However, in times like in fall, the beauty around us is so enveloping that it is hard not to notice. Every year, during the fall colors, I tell myself that I should take a few snaps. But I always forget to do it – too wrapped in my own shell of course! This year however, with blogging as a nice catalyst, I took the time and I finally did it! You can see the pictures on flickr here.

If you think these pictures are nice, consider this: I don’t really know much about photography. These were taken using a simple point-and-click camera, and it was just around my neighborhood (and office). I did go to a couple of forest preserves, but they are b “run of the mill” ones – nothing super special. Doesn’t that say enough about nature?