Our Visit to Chennai Rail Museum’s Joy Train :)

I have been to Regional Rail Museum, Chennai a few years back. But now this museum seems to have changed its name to Chennai Rail Museum and there is a lot of art to be seen everywhere, in addition to the antique rail models, coaches and engines! Have a look at an arty rail coach here –

Chennai Rail Museum - Art all over a rail coach!

They have also installed various artworks at many places across the museum. Here is a painting created by a few kids of the ICF family –

Chennai rail museum - art by kids

Last time, I did not go for a ride in the little joy train there. Actually, it’s a real train that runs on real tracks. Just that it’s relatively small 🙂

Frankly, traveling on that little train seemed like a childish thing to do (back then – during my previous visit). But with age, it seems like I have rediscovered the child in me, as this time we not only went in that joy train but we have also created an elaborate video from that ride (embedded above). In fact, the joy train ride was the focus of our visit. Hmm… 🙂

If you are also interested in rediscovering the child in you, here are the timings for the joy train ride 🙂

The ticket cost of Rs. 40 now includes permission to take photos in cell phone and one joy train ride. Rejoice, all you Chennaiiets 🙂

If you are planning a visit here, just don’t go on a Monday – it’s the weekly holiday. For more details and pics, refer to my earlier blog post.

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The Importance & Benefits of RO Water Purifier

Drinking water quality is one of the key concerns in the modern era. Pollution is on a gradual rise, which makes it necessary to ensure proper purification standards to safeguard the health of your family members. The old filtration methods cannot tackle the impurities adequately, hence the need for an RO water purifier.

RO is considered to be the best bet for water purification. RO stands for reverse osmosis, which involves filtering water by subjecting it to high pressure in order to remove traces of pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and THMs from the water.
Now, this is something that every purifier promises but the task is to find the best RO water purifier.

Livpure’s RO purifier is equipped with an extensive purification process that filters our all-possible impurities from the water and ensures good health for your family members. Under its warranty process, there are also provisions for replacement of the RO water purifier filter that is the major contributor to cleaning the impure water.

Clean and pollution-free water plays an important part in enhancing your family’s lifestyle. Reverse Osmosis is the most popular water purification technology available across the world, today. Hence, choosing the best RO water purifier is as important as choosing the right doctor.

It’s easy to make money in this modern world, but health, the most important wealth of all, is the real wealth that eludes many. Drinking pure water is the first step in maintaining good health. And Reverse Osmosis Water purifiers are essential for that. Do your research well and choose wisely!

Mangal Eri Park @ Mogappair – Park around a Lake!

Mangal Eri Park – Mogappair West, Chennai. 

I like the Mangal Eri park at Mogappair, Chennai mainly for one reason – the park is built around a lake. It seems the lake covers around 5 acres and the walkway built around it covers about 500 meters.

They are constructing amenities in the park and it is not as impressive as larger parks like the neighboring Tower park (yet) but this one, like the Chitlambakkam eri park, sets an important precedent – the importance of having neighborhood lakes at every area. If it comes with a park with walkway around it, even better.

The corporation is already building a number of parks and I think every area has at least one – many actually. But I don’t see a lake or a water body anywhere. Most of the existing lakes have been/are converted into real estate, and we’ve already seen the disastrous effect that can have during the 2015 floods.

It’s important to have neighborhood lakes because it acts as a reservoir for rainwater, it recharges the groundwater table, excess rainwater can be diverted into these lakes hence avoiding flooding, it enables aqua-ecosystems like fishes, birds, plants, etc. to flourish, it is possible to have leisure activities like boating, it reduces pollution and encourages walking, exercising, playing for kids, etc.

And best of all, a park + lake looks so fresh and green to the eyes! I wish corporation would make it mandatory to have at least one lake in each area, like how they have done with parks.

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Selfie Video with Peacock #DiwaliDecor

Here is my Selfie Photo/Video with Peacock flower arrangement at Phoenix MarketCity, Velachery, Chennai on the occasion of #DiwaliDecor. Wait, there is a twist to this selfie – watch it for yourself,

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PS: Howzz ittt? 🙂

Disclaimer: This video was made for a selfie contest organized by Phoenix MarketCity. If you feel this should be labeled as a sponsored post, then it is.

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

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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.


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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 –

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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.

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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.

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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.

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