Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Silicon Valley isn't booming for this lot

Thought I would share this media story that talks of the plight of experienced,out-of-work IT professionals, over 40, in Sunnyvale CA. Silicon Valley may well be booming for others, but not for this lot that turns up every Thursday morning at Sunnyvale City Hall. Most of them hold advanced degrees in engineering and have more than a decade of experience in the technology sector.
They are members of Pro Match, a government-financed support group and “interactive career resource center” for educated older workers who have suddenly, and usually involuntarily, found themselves on the job market. Most have been out of work for months.
Read more in the Bay Citizen

Schoolgirl Megha speaks on Gandhiji

A special feature of R-Day celebrations at Mantri's was the schoolgirl speeches. It was nice watching the girls step out to make a speech at the gathering. i wonder why we didn't have boys volunteering to speak on the occasion. Anyway, in response to my plea Megha Harinarayanan(D-301),of 3rd std. at PSBB Millennium School(OMR), has shared with us text of her speech.We would be happy to publish speeches by other school girls on our R-Day. Looking forward to their mail.
Meanwhile,here is what Megha (4th from left in the photo)spoke on Gandhiji:
Respected Elders and my dear Friends
I wish you all a Very Happy Republic Day. I will speak few lines about Gandhiji. Gandhiji was born on 02 October 1869 at Porbandar in Gujarat. He was a Barrister at Law. He worked in South Africa for the Welfare of downtrodden.
He came to India to join the Freedom Movement. He believed in Non-Violence. For his ideals Rabrindranath Tagore called him Mahatma. He gave us freedom from British by using the mighty weapon Non-Violence.
He is the Father of our Nation.
Jai Hind!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Wanted: Synergy-II flats on rent

If anyone in Synergy II is willing to rent out the apartment, please let me know.
There are two staff families wanting to move in with company lease. Budget is upto 11k/month - Call 94 4507 0973 for Shankar Naganathan

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Daycare centre at Chettinad

In case you haven't seen it,this leaflet announcing admissions to Chettinad daycare centre was distributed with morning newspaper. The notice also announces job opening at Chettinad Daycare for women graduates. The Chettinad daycare is probably the closest to Mantri's, in the absence of an in-house daycare at our clubhouse. We have the space and infrastructure , but no takers yet to run Mantri's daycare centre.

Friday, January 27, 2012

R-Day at Mantri's on OMR

Like everyone else,I have opinion on everything. Which doesn't always tally with those held by my peers (senior citizens).Presumably, because my views are unorthodox, may seem nutty,and not in keeping with my age(73). I tend to view things from children's perspective.And if I had anything to do with organizing our R-day programme,I would have done away with the customary speech.
"Is this something I would want to inflict on my 6 & 4 years old grandsons," I asked myself, and politely turned down an offer to address the gathering.If Ujjal were to ask the Mantri kids if they want speeches on R-Day (or any other day),I doubt if their answer would be anything short of a resounding 'NO'.
It is nobody's case that children shouldn't be initiated into the significance, sanctity and solemnity of the occasion. My issue is with the standard format we adopt for such function, thinking that any deviation, from flag-hoisting by someone important and elderly, and the ritual of speech by a chief guest, violates the sanctity of the occasion. Anyway, speeches don't go down well with children. And if it is nationalism that we need to inculcate, we can engage children in essay competition and quiz held ahead of R-Day. Prizes can be distributed to the winners at the R-Day function.
As for flag-hoisting, I would like to watch children doing the honours,if only because they don't get to do this in their school function, where usually the school head does it. Besides, flag-hoisting would provide a sense of active participation to our children who truly represent a country's future.
Children have a fascination for uniform, march-past and band baja. We had the uniformed security staff doing the drill. Next year, we could try and get a musical band (comprising school students), and have Mantri children march to their tune at a parade around the Mantri Synergy complex. Meanwhile, congrats are in order,for the event-planners (read Ujjal,Bala and friends) for adding a touch of pomp and ceremony.I was pleasantly surprised, and rather impressed, at the smart turnout of Mantri's security staff. Their line-up in front of the flag-staff made a good picture.
It would have given me and the others with i-Phone an excellent photo-op, if Mantri's core committee - Mr P K Nair, Mr Vasudevan, Mr Rajagopal and Mr A Chakraborti - could have been persuaded to do a walk past the security line-up in inspection of the guard of honour.
Children's quiz conducted by Ujjal (who else ?) evoked such positive response that it strengthens my case for conducting regular quiz programmes on various topics on special occasions. Prizes (books, gift-cards) can be sponsored by residents, contributing to a voluntary fund.
public-speaking isn't everyone's cup of tea. And it was nice seeing children shedding their inhibitions and come forward to address us. They talked about freedom movement, father of the nation and on the significance of R-Day.I admit, I learned a thing or two from the children.I didn't know, for instance, nor had I cared to find out, how Gandhiji came to be addressed as the Mahathma.
My D Block neighbour Harinarayan and other residents who took photos should consider uploading them in this blog, or on OMR Resident Facebook page. My schoolboy friend Shreyas (D-604) has volunteered to be our designated photographer.
I reckon this photo symbolized the spirit of the occasion.Children had such a good time that their feet weren't on the ground,in more than the literal sense. After sports there was pot-painting by children, my favourite event.I am counting on Shreyas to upload photos of our young artists at work. We look forward to seeing his images in this blog, but also on our Facebook page.
These photos, I believe, reflect the core values pot-painting promotes - an artistic touch,focused attention,and creativity (I wouldn't have thought of sticking those flowers).
Organisers could have taken care to collect from the children the brushes for re-use the next time (they can get them from me). Children would well to persuade parents not to throw away discarded tooth-brush.It comes in handy at pot-painting. Organizers should procure, along with paints, paper plates, and thinners for cleaning the brushes after use. We could also do with trashcans placed at strategic points in the common area, along the driveway, on the front-lawn and in the central park.
Core committee member Mr Rajagopal, in his message to residents, referred to the need for us to evolve an effective waste disposal strategy. I would like him to take up with others in the core committee the issue raised in our earlier post on waste management.
The other point he made pertained to a Tamil Nadu govt. proposal for developing a Chennai mega region, which would benefit Mantri residents.We invite Mr Rajagopal to share his thoughts on how he reckons the mega Chennai move would benefit Mantri Synergy residents, and, in fact, other OMR residents.
More photos on Mantri R-Day events in our Facebook page.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Calling Mantrivasis for R-Day events

In true Mantri spirit Ujjal and friends - Ramkumar and Sunil - have lined up for us Republic Day events tomorrow (Wednesday)
Flag hoisting - 8.30 a m
Sports,pot-painting - 8.45 onwards
Mantri front lawns

Ujjal(E-803) 9840119444
Ram (H-205) 9962522868
Sunil(D-402) 8939230491

What I like about the R-Day line-up is its focus on children. As my friend Ujjal put it, Mantri parents are requested to bring their children along. No speeches to bore them.Organisers offer sweets instead. There is more to R-Day than speeches and flag-raising. It is about celebrating Indian-ness. Communities such as Mantri's help us develop a conducive mindset. Events such as Pongal, Christmas, and R-Day provide us with a pretext to come together as a community - as Mantrivasis, rather than as Madarasi, Marathi or a Malyalee, Bihari, or Bengalee.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Camphor cure for Mantri's mosquito menace

Call it coincidence or telepathy. A day after some of us, evening walkers at Mantri's, exchanged notes on how to cope with mosquito menace, I got a mail from Mr Kishore Kumar (B-407) suggesting a mosquito repellent - camphor."We have tested it in our master bedroom for an entire month," says Mr Kumar who moved into Mantri Synergy six weeks back.
I am sure my evening-walk friends and several others would read what Mr Kishore Kumar has to say. "We have two little kids, right from Day One (at Mantri's) we have been facing the mosquito bite and the kids were not able to sleep at night properly; we tried all methods like mosquito spray, liquid machine & electric bat but nothing worked", says Mr Kishore Kumar.
He adds: "At last after a deep search in google we found a way to overcome this problem, and also tested the method in our master bed room for an entire month and it’s very effective. Nowadays we rarely catch a mosquito with electric bat".
My friend Srikanth who lives on the 12th floor says, before he moved into Mantri Synergy,he was given to understand that mosquitoes can't reach us on higher residential floors.My Google research told me mosquitoes can't rise above 25 ft. Apparently, the Google talks of American mosquito. Ours are smarter. Mr Srikanth and I can vouch for the fact that Indian mosquito, notably, those in Chennai, can scale much higher heights than their American brethren.
If you Google 'mosquito repellent', you get no less than 978 products. Mr Kishore Kumar, citing an article on medicinal values of camphor, suggests the following:
1.Place two tablets of commercially available camphor on any warm surface - the device on which is used for blue tablet type repellent serves the purpose well. Plug it for an hour and see the results! You can do it twice a day- morning and in the night as well!
2.Place two tablets each on different corners of the room or at places where mosquitoes seem to stay! Leave them there and they will evaporate in a day or so keeping the air mosquito free.
3.Fill water in a bowl or saucer with water. Drop two tablets of Camphor into the water. And Keep the cup in your room. The size of the vessel and camphor used may depend on the room-size. Water evaporates at normal temperature. Camphor slowly starts dissolving in water. The water evaporates with Camphor smell.Adding little bit hot water gives instant action.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mantri's at dusk

Mantri's central park
I heard his daughter saying on TV that Pandit Ravi Shankar still plays sitar, gives performance,at 92.Imagine someone at that age sitting on floor,holding a sitar.That should put to shame some of us, senior citizens and couch potatoes.I resolved then,and there,I would do a lot more than I do now, at 73. For a start,I took to evening walks - three rounds of Mantri Complex.
My 72-year-old friend and musician Kasi Viswanathan (C-804) started holding music classes for children at his place from Sunday. Five pupils, two of them from 'Akshaya's', have signed up for classes, held twice weekly.Mr Viswanathan is available at 044 29856118.
More photos on Mantri Synergy fountains on Facebook.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sunrise over ECR, seen from OMR

We could see an ECR stretch over Muthukkadu from our 9th floor flat at Mantri Synergy.

Some tree-planting facts

A 2010 report for the City of Toronto found that a tree with a trunk 75 centimetres in diameter intercepts 10 times more air pollution and stores up to 90 times more carbon than a tree with a trunk measuring 15cm.
Any subsoil that is excavated as part of digging will need to be removed completely. Once digging has finished, the hole should be filled with irrigation water to ensure that the pit will drain freely after planting.
At the time of planting, make a hole that is large enough to take your tree's root ball, and ensure that the tree's collar line (the line of contact between the soil and stem) is at the same level as the surrounding ground.
Form a circular watering basin slightly larger than the planting hole. Water the tree thoroughly during and after planting.
Mulch the surface of the tree pit to a depth of at least 50mm with a product such as chipped pine bark. This helps to retain moisture in the soil by reducing the amount of water that is lost through evaporation.
Source: The National

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kolam enthusiasts Priya & Rupa, at Mantri Synergy

Priya (E-205) was the first to turn up to do kolam - 'I came down from our apartment at 8, but found no one around', she said when I met her near the play area car park. A couple of ladies from the Mantri house-keeping staff were setting up earthen pots to cook pongal.I conveyed our apology and requested Priya to do kolam near community pongal cooking area.
Sunil, who came up with a kolam contest idea, and Ujjal who took charge of the proceedings,had to drop their plan to hold the kolam fest on the exit driveway because they did not hear from any intending participants. As an after-thought PropCare deployed the house-keeping staff to do kolam for pongal puja at the D block entrance.
There was evidently a communication gap. For we had Priya and Rupa (B block) do kolam in the cooking area. It was a pity that their colourful artwork went unseen by most residents who assembled near D Block entrance for puja followed by Pongal brunch.
I found Rupa at work when I visited community cooking area around 9 a m.She had taken time to come and do kolam for us before going back to her apartment to cook pongal at home, and get her 3-year old daughter Nitya ready for celebrations.
Lessons learned:
1)Let us designate the walkway at the central park as the 'kolam' zone on festive occasions to enable Priya, Rupa and other enthusiasts to draw kolam right in front of their own apartment Blocks.
2)Let us get their work videoed for upload in YouTube. Example - a 2-min YouTube segment on Mylapore kolam festival.

Mantri Synergy Badminton tournament

Please spread the news

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pongal at Padur Mantri Synergy

I was pleasantly surprised to get a mail from schoolboy(seen in photo)Shreyas (D-604), sharing an album of photos he took of Pongal celebrations at Mantri Synergy. I have his permission to post here a selection from Shreyas' photo album.In comparison with the photos carried in the previous post the ones shot by Shreyas, a 7th std. student at Hiranandani's school,are admittedly better, sharper and well focused.
The pongal pot after the cooking is done
Jump-in-joy Mantri's children are evidently having a great time.
The celebrations brought out from their homes residents of all age-groups. My mother Mangammal (D-901), at 92,is,presumably, among the eldest of Mantri residents.
The young girl on Ujjal's lap is the daughter of Rasha & Zameer Mammy.
Pleased with the proceedings, these children are on bullock-cart ride around our complex.
Children at pongal brunch time
With dishes brought from several residents the brunch counter at D-block car park looked a virtual food court.
Those you wish to congratulate Shreyas can e-mail him at shreyas.vivek80@gmail.com

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pongal at OMR Mantri's

I don't know how they celebrate it elsewhere in OMR. At Mantri's we tried to add three 'E's to the way we did Pongal - 1) engage residents and the house-keeping staff in the celebrations;2)educate non-Tamils in Mantri's about the sanctity and spirit of Pongal; 3) and, above everything else,entertain the kids.
And as is evident in this image the tallest among our community kids, Ujjal Mukherjee (E-Block) took the prime seat on the bullock cart to go for a spin round the Mantri Synergy complex. And it may surprise many to learn that some of these kids hadn't as much seen an ox-driven cart, let alone take a ride in it.
A Mantri elder, Mr P K Nair (D-Block), said the children petted, photographed the animals, and they were all so fired up with curiosity that they wanted to know where these bullocks lived, what they had for breakfast,whether they had pongal, and how,  if at all,  they slept. Maybe some of these children should do a Google search on oxen and submit to their teacher a class project on their bullock-cart ride and  how they celebrated Pongal.
Speaking of projects, we asked the kids if they could count the leaves on the sapling they planted at 'Senior Citizens' area. The number they came up with varied between 34 and 56. Oddly enough, none of us present at the tree-planting knew what sapling we planted. To get that info. we need to wait till Mantri's horticulturist Muthiah comes back from the Pongal break.
Earlier we had Rupa (B- block) and Priya (E-Block) working on their kolam close to the play area where we set up pots for cooking community pongal.The cooking was done by ladies in our house-keeping staff. The pots with steaming hot pongal were then carried to the entrance to Mantri's apartment towers for puja.
Ramkumar's (H-block) father from Gobichettipalayam helped  us conduct puja, a ritual about which most of us were blissfully unaware. Watching Mr Karunakaran do the honours was a learning experience for those of us who are not familiar with Pongal rituals they followed in a rural areas.
The pongal cooked in earthen pots was supplemented by home-cooked dishes - kesari,jamun, vada, idli, bisibela bath - brought for pot brunch in front of the D block car park.
A Pongal without cane is like soda without scotch. And the price of cane during Pongal hits a seasonal high. This time it was particularly high.Crop damage caused by the recent cyclone drastically reduced cane brought for sale to the market. On our drive back from Thiruvaiyaru on Pongal eve we found cane selling in Ariyalur at Rs.210 a bundle of seven. We wanted a couple of pieces, and they wouldn't sell it in ones or twos. Back home we paid Rs.40 per cane, which accounted for a hike of Rs.10 per cane in price between Chennai and Ariyalur.
over 70 Pongal photos on our Facebook page.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cat on our driveway

Not a pleasant sight to encounter on your morning walk. The cat wasn't there by the time I finished my rounds. Prompt work by watch-and-ward staff.