Our Visit to Nanganallur Anjaneyar Temple, Chennai

After a long time of wanting to go to the Nanganallur Anjaneyar Temple, we finally made it today 🙂 We went to the Temple by taking the road that goes to the Airport from Guindy, and then turning right at the Inner Ring Road just after the Officers Training Academy Metro Station/Mount Manor Hotel. Then you need to go around 500m forward and take a right below the MRTS flyover.

The exact Google Maps location for this Tempe is here.

Temple Timings: 5 A.M. to 12 P.M. & 4.30 P.M. to 9 P.M.

Pooja Details: Official Website.

Here is the board just outside the Temple giving more details:

Nanganallur Anjaneyar Temple - Timings
I should complement the Temple authorities for being very organized. Unlike other Temples, the Archana materials are not taken by the main priest. Instead, we need to deposit them to another priest on our way and then take our plate back once the Darshan is over, from a nearby counter. They have a token system for this to ensure we get back our materials.

Unlike other Temples, money is not charged for keeping our footwear (although there is a token system) and there are no prasadams available for sale. We really wanted to eat the Famous Puliyodharai here, but we got to eat only Sundal and Milagu-Pongal. What to do, we couldn’t resist going back and collecting the prasadam twice as the item was changed while we were eating the first round 😀

We enquired as to when Puliyodharai will be available, and one visitor said that it should be available on weekday evenings. We are planning to go back on a weekday, needless to say 😛

The approach and helping nature of the Iyers present at this Temple also impressed us. A pleasant experience, combined with Darshan of 32-feet Anjaneya. If we had got the Puliyodharai, this would have been the perfect Temple experience 🙂

Since photos are not allowed inside the Temple, here is our selfie from outside –

Nanganallur Anjaneya Temple, Chennai

Destination Infinity

PS: BTW, coming to the weird things we do regularly, we made a Cinemagraph recently – have a look 🙂

Only *Irresponsible* Adults Burst Crackers on Diwali?

SC Bans #Fireworks Sale at #NCR. Actually, IMO, this rule should have been enforced across India.

I can understand the need for children to burst #crackers, but I see many many *#irresponsible* adults bursting crackers with equal enthusiasm just because there is an excuse (#Diwali) and the mob culture is at action in full swing.

It’s common knowledge that crackers pollute our environment directly, all that sound is intolerable to animals/birds, child labor is exploited fully for making crackers, hazardous accidents and health issues result out of it, etc. etc.

But still, we adults cannot do without our share of FUN. Of course, I am also guilty sometimes (mostly due to social pressure), so blame me too and CONTINUE the FUN.

I realize *irresponsible* is a mild word. What I actually wanted to say: Human Insensitiveness, Hypocrisy and Intolerance towards nature and other species is out of its veil, and is on display in its original raw n arrogant form everywhere on a festive day. What a sight!!

Diwali has always been a #festival of #Lights. Not Sound. Definitely not crackers.

Grow up this Diwali.


Destination Infinity

PS: When I published the above as a Facebook status, I got comments like we are anyway polluting the environment through vehicles, factories, power production, etc. Hence, why stop only crackers – why not stop all that too?

My answer is: Look at a sustainable way to do the same things. Vehicles can also run on electric power. Electric power can also be produced through renewables. There are also organic alternatives to chemicals. So why not aspire to shift to a more sustainable lifestyle that doesn’t harm the nature/environment?

Forget doing all these things right away – but is there at least such an aspiration?

PicAnimate Review – Animate Parts of a Photo!

Can you believe that the moving water animation in the below-embedded waterfalls video was created using just a photo of the waterfalls? I used a program called PicAnimate that enables to animate parts of a photo and convert it into a video.

Cinemagraphs are slightly different. Although parts of a photo are animated in a cinemagraph too, we start with a video and then create a photo whose parts can be animated using the video in the background. But PicAnimate enables us to animate parts of a photo even if we have just the photo.

There are limitations to this program. Although it animates moving portions in the picture like clouds, lake, waterfalls, trees, etc. very well, the animation looks artificial if you try to animate people or stable objects. If a sky has no clouds, for example, there is almost no animation. So it should be obvious that you cannot animate every photo and every part of a photo!

If you are OK with that limitation and are open to experimentation, you can do some interesting things with the software.

Here is a photo where I animated the clouds on the sky –

Here is a video where I animated both the clouds and the water in a lake. Since the water is stationary only subtle animation is possible.

Animating leaves/trees was somewhat difficult. If I increased the speed, the animation became artificial. So I made the animation to be very subtle.

I did manage to animate a stationary object (The Taj Mahal) which was the background in our selfie. The output was a pleasant surprise, particularly since I kept the foreground (us) stable. Being able to mask parts of photos that you want to animate (or be stable) is a big advantage in PicAnimate. I used the brush tool to mask and it’s very useful. Have a look –

I used an animation mode called Edge-to-Edge to achieve the above effect. But for other animations, I generally use the Fusion mode.

I did all these animated photos after learning and using the software for just one day. I guess I can do more interesting things as I learn and experiment more. The software crashed twice on the day – not a big issue really. I now save more as I create.

Masking was difficult to achieve initially, especially with the line tool. But as I got used to the brush tool, I found it easier. Varying the length of the animation lines and choosing the duration of the animation – both enable me to change the speed of the animation. Much required.

I like the fact that I can animate parts of the same photo and the same objects in different directions if needed. This was very useful for animating the waterfalls (first video).

Overall, I recommend this software for animating parts of the photo that is generally expected to move. But since we cannot always get such photos, I wish stable portions of the photo and objects like hair, hands, etc. can also be animated better/ realistically. This software cannot do that convincingly – yet!

Here is the demo video posted on their Facebook Page that shows how these photo animations can be done on PicAnimate –

Destination Infinity

Pics of Flowers @ Rose Gardens, Munnar

Here is a slideshow with the photos of a few flowers that we took during our visit to Rose Gardens, Munnar, Kerala last year. I should have made this post a long time back, but glad I made it at least now!

The Rose Gardens, Munnar, Kerala is also called Munnar Floriculture Center and is maintained by Kerala Forest Development Center. It is located in the Munnar-Mettupatty Road, on the way to Mettupatty Dam, boating, and other tourist places, from Munnar.

There are many flowers and we saw some rare varieties too, but the place itself is not very big. It can be easily covered in half-an-hour. Strangely, given the name of this place, we were surprised not to find any roses! But we went more than a year back so they might have planted a few now 🙂

The entrance ticket is nominal and there is a separate ticket for the camera. I think I remember seeing some shops selling tea, snacks, gift items, etc. around this area.

The tea-estate hill view is awesome from inside this park. All our photos were of flowers or with flowers. I suggest you don’t forget to take a selfie with the mountain background too.

It seems there is a homestay/farm resort near the Rose Gardens. Since we stayed in a tree house, we didn’t explore this option. More information about the farm resort can be found here.

Destination Infinity

Organics & Millets 2018 International Trade Fair at Bengaluru

Organics & Millets 2018 International Trade Fair is scheduled to happen from January 19 – 21, 2018 at Palace Grounds, Bengaluru.

To promote the event, Karnataka’s Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, visited and interacted with us bloggers and journalists at Prems Grama Bhojanam, Adyar, Chennai. A few glimpses from that event is embedded in the below slideshow –

This organic and millet fair will happen over three days and 400+ stalls are expected to occupy the 1,00,000+ sq. feet of exhibition space. There will be millet food courts, conferences, workshops, interaction/competitions for students and public & promotions for businesses operating in this space.

The 3-day expo prominently features organic foods & processing, organic textiles, organic dairy and animal products, Millets and processed millet products, certification bodies, processing and packaging technology/machinery, etc.

Visitor profile includes farmers, vendors & businesses, consumers, Government and everyone else who wants to switch over to healthier foods or help others do so through their businesses.

Why you should opt for millets over rice/wheat –

  • Highly nutritious
  • Gluten-free
  • Low glycemic index
  • Grows well with minimum water as rain-fed crops, reducing the consequences of water scarcity and carbon emissions.
  • Requires minimal soil fertility hence avoiding harmful chemical pesticides and manures to a great extent.
  • Some millets can be harvested and be re-grown multiple times in the same year, increasing profits.
  • Cost required to produce millets, and hence the selling price, is lesser.

On the day of the promo meet at Prems Grama Bhojanam, Adyar — which is an eatery that serves millet-based cooked food in Chennai — we discussed on how all agriculture was organic even a few decades back, how businesses and foreign Governments promoted chemicals, how those chemicals affect people’s health, why organic and millet foods are beneficial, what are the issues hindering the adoption of millets, and other topics.

  • It seems there are entire villages, even in Tamil Nadu where people primarily eat millets, and rice is only a festival food.
  • Eating just one type of food is not advisable and millets bring a balance in the nutrition.
  • Millets are healthier and easier to digest.
  • Although the cost of millets is higher now, mass consumption and hence mass production can bring down costs drastically.
  • Lack of trust in a few organic shops — with or without certifications — is a hurdle that we need to tolerate and cross together in the initial stages.
  • More eateries and cooking shows ought to be organized to make public acquainted with millet-based foods, which are very similar to the regular rice/wheat foods that we eat.

Personally, I switched from rice to kambu (bajra) about 4 years back and have reduced at least 15% of my weight just because of that one change. I need much less bajra per serving and it is very light on the stomach. Overall my health has been better since that change.

Hence, I suggest others also to try millets. Even if you don’t want to switch over to millets right away, try to eat millet-based food occasionally – like once or twice every week. Govt. of Karnataka has even released an entire recipe book featuring millet foods.

Destination Infinity

Our Visit to Kaveri Maha Pushkarani, Mayiladuthurai

So last Sunday (24.9.2017) we went to Kaveri Pushkarani/Pushkar at Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu. Generally, Kaveri Pushkarani is celebrated once in 12-years. But this year is special as it is the year of Kaveri Maha Pushkarani/Pushkaram where a special alignment of stars occurs once in 144 years! For more details refer to this Wikipedia article.

This festival is observed for a period of 12-days and this year it was held from Sept. 12 to Sept. 24, 2017. We were lucky to have found time to visit and take a dip in the water on the very last day.

We poured water on ourselves from some tanks/wells set-up (initially by Medival Cholas) at this location. Maybe due to the heavy crowd, the water was quite muddy. You can see it in the above slideshow. Besides, it seems there is not much water in Kaveri.

We went to a couple of Temples next to this Pushkar location and returned to Chennai on the next day. Many notables including Kanchi Acharyas and even EPS visited this holy place this year.

Destination Infinity

AXN Vikings Warrior Workout by Gold’s Gym

AXN Live R.E.D TV Channel’s Vikings – The Heroes of Nords Mythology Action Drama International series is now being aired in India at 10 P.M., Monday to Friday.

Coinciding with this series, Gold’s Gym India has come up with the Vikings Warrior workout that involves doing the following workouts, one-minute each, continuously – without taking a break.

The exercises involved and their order is given below –

  1. Jump squats
  2. Plank to push up
  3. Jab – cross punches
  4. Mountain climbers
  5. Crunches
  6. Burpees
  7. Knee kicks
  8. Warm walks
  9. Uppercut punches
  10. Side plank

Here is a graphic gif illustration of each of the above workouts.

Gold’s Gym Chennai (Adyar – LB Road branch) gave a demonstration of this workout where the participants perform the Vikings Workout for 30-seconds each. Here’s the video,

For more information about AXN Live R.E.D. Vikings, refer to this article, for more information about Gold’s Gym, have a look at their Facebook page.

Preethi Turbo Chop – Our Experience

Preethi Turbo Chop is the smaller version of a mixer grinder (mini mixie) that can grind/chop vegetables and fruits into fine pieces. If you are looking for a device to cut/chop vegetables into large/medium pieces to make poriyal (large bits), etc. this is not the apt device.

If you are looking for a device to cut/chop vegetables into large/medium pieces to make poriyal (large bits), etc. this is not the apt device.

However, if you want to chop them into finer pieces or even grind them into a paste or make them into finely ground poriyal, kesari, juice, chutney, etc., Preethi Turbo Chop is a good option.

Here is a small overview video of Preethi Turbo Chop, its parts, assembly, and a short look into its operation –

Recently, we made a few Deepavali dishes using Preethi Turbo Chop – Tomato rice, Cabbage vada, Carrot Halwa & Pomegranate juice. Detailed recipes for making these dishes are available at the above link. Based on our experience, here are the advantages & limitations of Preethi Turbo Chop.

Advantages –

  1. Easy operation
  2. Saves time, chopping is fast
  3. Press action enables us to choose rotation/cutting intensity
  4. Large bowl
  5. Simple setup & assembly
  6. Easy to clean
  7. 450W motor is powerful and doesn’t consume as much electricity as its 750W mixer grinder variants
  8. Not only a chopper but also a blender
  9. Value for money
  10. Occupies very less space
  11. Sharp blades
  12. White colour looks simple and elegant in the kitchen

Limitations –

  1. Slightly difficult to clean at the motor opening, especially in between chopping multiple veg/fruits
  2. Doesn’t chop veggies into medium or large bits, chops them only into fine bits or powder. If you accidentally extend the operation, it becomes a paste. Need to be careful how long you use the motor
  3. We are dependent on electricity for its operation. Doesn’t work during power cuts
  4. Lower jar could have had a handle

Here is a demo video created by the company –

You can buy Preethi Turbo Chop Online from Amazon.

Destination Infinity

Thupparivaalan Movie Review

Thupparivalan is a Tamil movie directed by the popular director Mysskin. I have seen two other movies made by him – Onayum Aattukuttiyum & Pisasu and liked both. So I wanted to see this movie too.

One thing that sets Mysskin apart from other directors is his gripping narrative style. You cannot think of taking your eyes off the screen even for a moment, although the story is average, the plot has a lot of holes and inconsistencies, there are no songs, the fights are artificial and,

For the first time, there is so much gore and violence. Pisasu and Onayum Aattukuttiyum, in contrast, were movies that had the potential to be gory but the director chose to make them emotional affairs. Hmm…

This movie did not need all that violence. I suggest not taking kids with you to the movie hall!

There were a number of places where we think why did the character had to do this, but the director skillfully compensates all these flaws using his inimitable style of narration. I really missed his emotional touch, which was predominant in his two previous movies.

But I liked this movie as well. There was not a single frame where I was bored. If you like horror movies, I guess you’ll like this movie even more. I don’t think this movie belongs to the detective/mystery genre – it’s more of a thriller. Although the movie is quite long, it didn’t feel long. There are no songs in the movie and they weren’t required.

A good & different movie featuring a private detective. Do watch the movie in a theater – Tamil cinema is trying to move closer to Hollywood quality while still keeping the commercial elements intact!

Destination Infinity

BTW, I forgot to mention that Vishal and Prasanna are the leading actors. Maybe that’s because the movie belongs to Mysskin right from the first frame 🙂 That said, I should mention here that the main antagonist (Vinay Rai) did one hell of a job. His action gave the jitters to all 🙂

Reduce Air Pollution at Home by Reducing Formaldehyde Exposure

You thought air inside your house is clean and free from air-pollution?

Think again.

Formaldehyde, a dangerous air pollutant – carcinogen and sensitizer, is found ten times more inside homes than outside.

Which materials are responsible for formaldehyde release at homes? 

  • Air fresheners/fragrances/perfumes
  • Wallpaper
  • Cleaning products containing tarpenes
  • Adhesives, Carpets
  • Cigarrates/e-cigarattes
  • Wood/Coal and even Gas Stoves
  • Combustion Exhausts from automobiles
  • Paper napkins
  • Easy care, Anti-wrinkle/shrink clothes and curtains treated with formaldehyde
  • Polyester clothing and pillow foam
  • Skincare products using formaldehyde as preservative
  • Cosmetics like nail polish and hair smootheners
  • Manufactured wood furniture products & furniture preservatives/coatings (Especially when these are brand new)

How does continuous exposure to formaldehyde affect one’s health?

Exposure to formaldehyde increases the risk of developing any of the following ailments depending on the exposure and body resistance of individuals.

  • Headaches, vomiting
  • Irritation/burning eyes and nose
  • Allergic reaction, fatigue, nausea
  • Wheezing, asthma
  • Skin rashes, allergy
  • Even cancer

How to reduce exposure to formaldehyde at homes?

  • Don’t allow smoking inside homes
  • Ventilate garages well enough that vehicular exhausts are released directly to the atmosphere
  • Ventilate homes with sufficient open windows, fans and exhaust fans so that any formaldehyde and other pollutants leave quickly
  • Don’t use chemical-based perfumes or air fresheners. Opt for natural/organic sources like agarbathi, camphor, sambarani, etc.
  • Have exhaust fans directly over cooking stoves
  • Buy and use natural/organic cotton-based clothing materials and handcrafted textiles that use natural dyes
  • Reduce humidity and temperature by using an Air Conditioner
  • Use denser filters with ACs.
  • Use indoor/outdoor plants that are known to reduce air pollutants in and around homes. A list of few such plants and trees is available here and here
  • Use natural and organic products as far as possible for cleaning and personal care
  • Try to avoid finished wood products like MDF, hardwood plywood, particleboard, etc.
  • Give preference to formaldehyde-free building materials like stainless steel, plastic, gypsum, etc. instead of wood
  • Prefer other (safer) coating materials instead of formaldehyde coating for furniture and other materials
  • Buy antique wooden furniture which mostly does not emit formaldehyde or have at least exhausted their capacity and no longer release this dangerous chemical
  • Develop a healthy lifestyle – keep switching between indoors and outdoor frequently to avoid continuous exposure. Encourage kids to play more outdoors

Use Royale Atmos paint from Asian Paints

Asian Paints has come up with Royale Atmos paints which, the company claims, reacts with formaldehyde and breaks it into harmless molecules. They also say that this paint also absorbs other air irritants like nicotine, ammonia, etc.

All you need to do is paint your house/office with Royale Atmos wall paint to protect your home for up to two years from air pollutants, as mentioned on their website.

Asian Paints says that Royale Atmos also absorbs malodours/foul smell and releases a good fragrance. It gives a smooth matte finish that gives a nice look to your walls and is equipped with Teflon surface protector to protect your walls against stains – which makes cleaning the walls easier.  It also comes with green assure seal.

More Information: Asian Paints Royale Atmos website.

Have a look at their TV Commercial featuring Deepika Padukone,

Destination Infinity

For more exhaustive information on formaldehyde pollutant and how you can protect your family against it, check here and here