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Archive for the ‘People, places & practices’ Category

“Sir, Inda thanni, kanni, su…”

“Sir!”

Surströmming, inda pazhakkam ellam illenga.”

“Oh, why the pause vittu punch dialouge?”

Courtesy Karthi and Santhanam in Saguni.

So, coming to the story, I was in Sweden a couple of months ago, to meet one of my mad-ass-scientist-in-the-making friend at Uppsala. To help me get a comprehensive Swedish experience, he recommended 3-activites:

1. You should go to IKEA

Yeah, the Swedish giant who has pretty much changed the concept of furnishing worldwide. So I spent three hours of my Uppsala visit to go look at living rooms, dining rooms, toilets, and stuff, at the end of which I spent a good hundred krona on random things (thanks to miscalulating EUR-SKK conversion rates).

2. You should play innebandy

Enna vandi? Inne-bandy. A famed swedish sport. It’s apparently called floorball in English, and my understanding is that it is a basketballed version of hockey using a plastic ball with holes. It was fun, super-exhausting, and made me realise I need to work out to stay fit. Oh yeah, getting fit is another post to be.

3. Eat Surströmming

Surströmming is a traditional Swedish dish. Made of fermented fish. One of the mysteries of life. My understanding says that it’s probably the most foul smelling thing known to mankind, thanks to a great melange of butyric, propionic, acetic acids and good ‘ol H2S. It seems it is opened submerged in water so that the smell doesn’t fill the place. In fact, if there were ever a contest of worst-smelling-food, Surströmming would bag the gold:

Surströmming bags the gold, followed by Japan's Kusaya and Korea's Hongeohoe.

Surströmming wins gold, miles ahead of Japan’s Kusaya and Korea’s Hongeohoe.

The history to Surströmming goes back a long way. One cool myth is that the Fins played a long con on the Swedes:

Swedish sailors go out with fish not preserved properly (low Sodium diet, let’s say). They go to Finalnd, and think they’d sell it off to them. The fins buy it, patiently wait a year, and when the sailors returned, they said “hey guys, you got more of that stinky fish? We really loved it! We want more!!” And since then the Swedish people have been liking it. What I wonder is, did these dumbass* Swedish sailors ever see the Fins eat it? I presume the Finnish people responded to the sailors on the first of April, giving an explanation to the French phrase, poisson d’avril, quite literally.

So the more important point: no, I didn’t eat the darned thing. I love my life too much to just throw it away on pungent food. I know my Swedish experience is and will always be incomplete, but I can live with that. Amen!

P.S.: I put up a humble request to The Oatmeal to make a poster out of this. I sincerely hope that he can able to make a kickass infogram out of it.

*I only feel that these Swedish sailors from the myth are dumbasses, and the term is by no means a generalisation to Swedish people. I like Sweden and Swedish folks – they’re some of the most innovative people I’ve seen, but these sailors are just douchebags.

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With this post, I begin my series of posts on places, people and practices I’ve bumped into. This post is to do with a little town in Tamil Nadu called Thirukkadaiyur. This town hosts a nice temple dedicated to Lord Shiva adressed as Amritaghateswarar, and the temple carries it’s own history and specialities. Whenever married men turn 60 or 80 in Tamil Nadu, they celebrate their birthday grand with thier kids and grandchildren. And the Shiva temple in Thirukadayur is considered very holy to celebrate their 60th wedding (as it’s termed in Tamil; technically it’s the husband’s 60th birthday, but hey, I really am not keen in probing into that).
Yes, it is quite an achievement to live sixty years now; and more so to have a marriage last till you turn sixty. But yes, when it does happen, the children enjoy hosting their parents’ wedding – and that is a beautiful thing to see.
So moving on to the travel segment, the occasion that dragged me et. my family to the town was my aunt and uncle celebrating thier 60th wedding day, or sashtiyaptha purthi (that’s Sanskrit I think). So we made a nice little road trip along the East cost of India from Chennai through to Pondicherry, followed by a not-so-enjoyable deviation through Cuddalore, Chidambaram, Sirkazhi, Vaitheeswaran Koil to Thirukkadaiyur (you go a little further and you’d reach Karaikkal). The town has the temple and one road leading from the main entrance of the temple to the highway across, containing not one Visa/Mastercard ATM. Yes, it is quite surprising it has electricity. But quite contrasting to the above mentioned features (or should I say feature-lesses), the town has fabulous guest-houses with wonderful air-conditioned rooms (which was quite soothing following the rather tiring drive) and ample parking space (I’m sure cities in India have a thing or two to learn from them).
The following day we prepped up, got dressed and made it to the temple. There was a mad-rush inside, with at least another 10-15 couples celebrating their weddings. It was a nice sight to see: happy faces, each set with their cameramen, their kalasams lined up, and chanting mantras which not everyone understands.
The entire ceremony was two days long, containing pujas, homams and bathing the couple in holy water. So after the function concluded, we drove back to Chennai. For those of you who’re more interested in knowing about the place, history, or how to get there, you can look it up good ‘ol wiki, or this post.

Temple gopuramWith this post, I begin my series of posts on places, people and practices I’ve bumped into. This post is to do with a little town in Tamil Nadu called Thirukkadaiyur. This town hosts a nice temple dedicated to Lord Shiva adressed as Amritaghateswarar here, and the temple carries it’s own history and specialities. Whenever married men turn 60 or 80 in Tamil Nadu, they celebrate their birthday in a big way with thier kids and grandchildren. And the Shiva temple in Thirukkadaiyur is considered very holy to celebrate their arupatham kalyanam (or 60th wedding in Tamil; technically it’s the husband’s 60th birthday, but hey, I really am not keen in probing into that; and kalyanam doesn’t necessarily have to mean wedding, as Sandhya rightly said).

Yes, it is quite an achievement to live sixty years now; and more so to have a marriage last till you turn sixty. But of course, when it does happen, the children enjoy hosting their parents’ wedding – and that is a beautiful thing to see.

Picture in picture feature enabled.

So moving on to the travel segment, the occasion that dragged me and my family to the town was my aunt and uncle celebrating thier 60th wedding day, or sashtiyaptha purthi. So we made a nice little road trip along the East cost of India from Chennai through to Pondicherry, followed by a not-so-enjoyable deviation through Cuddalore, Chidambaram, Sirkazhi, Vaitheeswaran Koil to Thirukkadaiyur (you go a little further and you’d reach Karaikkal). The town has the temple and one road leading from the main entrance of the temple to the highway across, containing not even one Visa/Mastercard ATM. Yes, it is quite surprising it has electricity. But quite contrasting to the above mentioned features (or should I say feature-lesses), the town has fabulous guest-houses (like Hotel Manivizha, where we stayed) with wonderful air-conditioned rooms (which was quite soothing following the rather tiring drive) and ample parking space (I’m sure cities in India have a thing or two to learn from them).

The following day we prepped up, got dressed and made it to the temple. There was a mad-rush inside, with at least another 10-15 couples celebrating their weddings. It was a nice sight to see: happy faces, each set with their cameramen, their kalasams lined up, and chanting mantras which not everyone understands.

Weddings

The entire ceremony was two days long, containing pujas, homams and bathing the couple in holy water (if you’re dumbstruck by the last clause, see image below).

Bathed

So after the function concluded, we drove back to Chennai. For those of you who’re more interested in knowing about the place, history, or how to get there, you can look it up good ‘ol wiki, or this post.

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