Tuesday, January 26, 2016

TASMAC Holiday list for 2018 and 2019

TASMAC (Tamin Nadu State Marketing Corporation) is a state government run organization which is authorized to sell any alcoholic beverages through retail outlets. TASMAC runs two types of stores, one is the regular TASMAC shop which is the most common and then the Elite shop, which you can find only in few cities, which sells imported beer and liquor.

You can click here for TASMAC and Elite shop updated price list.

Here is the holiday list for TASMAC for the year 2018:

New year: January 1, 2018 (Monday)

Uzhavar dhinam: January 14, 2018 (Sunday)

Republic day: January 26, 2018 (Friday)

Good Friday: January 30, 2018 (Friday)

Mahaveer Jayanthi: March 29, 2018 (Thursday)

May Day: May 1, 2018 (Tuesday)

Ramzan: June 15, 2018 (Wednesday)

Independence Day: August 15, 2018 (Wednesday)

Gandhi Jayanthi: October 2, 2018 (Tuesday)

Here is the holiday list for TASMAC for the year 2019:

New year: January 1, 2019 (Tuesday)

Uzhavar dhinam: January 14, 2019 (Monday)

Republic day: January 26, 2019 (Saturday)

Good Friday: January 30, 2019 (Friday)

Mahaveer Jayanthi: April 19, 2019 (Friday)

May Day: May 1, 2019 (Wednesday)

Ramzan: June 4, 2019 (Tuesday)

Independence Day: August 15, 2018 (Thursday)

Gandhi Jayanthi: October 2, 2018 (Wednesday)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ad breakdown - Does Pediasure work? - Yes, it makes the height marker shorter

This has been my concern around health drinks and supplements. Even the same people behind these ads would agree to me. They even tell the same truth as I do, but they do not want you to see it. They add the truth in small text that would almost blend with the background, so that you cannot read them for yourself. So let me help break down this ad for you.

0:17: "One of the factors for faltering of growth in children in the picky eating behavior. Green RJ et al, How to improve eating behavior during Early Childhood. Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr 2015 March 18(1) 1-9"

This is a good finding. Does not justify why  Pediasure is needed to fix the eating behavior.

Now the real place where they fool the consumer.

0:24: Here you can see a depiction of using natural ingredients to fill up the Pediasure jar. You need to look at the bottom of the screen and know what they really are trying to communicate with this.

"Fruits and Vegetables are for creative depiction of the number of the nutrients. Pediasure does not contain these fruits and vegetables."

Great, so these fruits and vegetables are only used to represent the number of nutrients, not even represent the relative composition of nutrients. The same could have been achieved by rock or clay pot if the intent was only to represent the number of nutrients. Good job Pediasure.

0:27: Man, this is long. Lot of explanation on why this kid grew in 2 seconds.

The ad says " 1.5X FASTER>> GROWTH*"

That is what they want you to see. Let me try decoding this frame by getting in to the text at the bottom which is not intended to be seen, it is there to make sure they are not getting in to trouble for giving false promise.

" Creative depiction of growth. Growth here implies to weight and height. Result may vary in children at nutritional risk given nutritional counseling with or without nutritional supplements for 90 days. 1) Alarcon P. Clin Pedatr.2003,42:209-217 (ONS group consuming 40m/kg/day of Pediasure in addition to normal diet) and 2) Shakh I, Malaysia journal of Nutrition, Vol 21, Suppl, Jan 2015. Pg S81 (Among children with upper respiratory infections)."

That was a long one, intentionally hidden with a light background to make it difficult to read within that 1 second it flashes.

This will be interesting for you to know. I am just taking a dig at the poor attempt.

Before drinking Pediasure, the height marker was above the guys elbow.

With the magic of time and drinking Pediasure for 90 days, the height marker got shorter and is now below the guys elbow :D. Yaay, Pediasure worked.

Without going in to the details, in this case I cannot comment for sure if Pediasure is good or bad or another stuff we dump in and it does nothing. My worry is with these ads that drive opinion formation and forces you to take sides.

Here is a previous article around this same topic:
Complan, Horlics, Boost.... Health drinks???

Monday, January 11, 2016

Egg fry: Quick and easy in 5 min

I tried this egg fry today, really quick and easy to make and would not take  more than 5 minutes for you.

Preparation time: 5 min 


Ingredients needed are:

Hard boil egg (Count as per your need)
Turmeric powder
Chilli powder
Garlic cloves
Oil (Mustard oil or Ground nut oil or Coconut oil or refined oil, as you wish), flavor of this dish depends on the oil you use. You can experiment with different oil.

Can it get simple than this.

How to prepare:

Now add 1/4 tea spoons of turmeric powder per egg, sprinkle some water and let the turmeric spread over the egg.

Pour some oil in a pan, we are not going to shallow fry, this will only be a tawa fry, so a few spoons of oil is good.

For 6 eggs, I used about 5 spoons of oil. Plus or minus, you can try. Cooking is about experimenting, there is no right or wrong in cooking, follow the basics and you are good.

Crush the garlic cloves and add it to the oil, this gives the flavor to the egg.

Let the egg fry, you will see the skin getting crispy.

Now pierce the egg with a knife till you reach the yoke.

Now add Chilli powder and salt as per your wish

Fry for a few more minutes and you are done.

This is the basic format. If you want to get fancy, you can add some spices to the oil or finish with Chat masala or you can also add Garam masala.

If you are interested, you can also cut it in to four and serve it with this amazing curd dip, it will be a winner in the table.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Chennai to Rameshwaram bike ride - Escape from templated New Year

This New year as with the past two years, decided not to be anywhere near a templated celebration. Until  the last week of Dec/2015 my plan was to join a group of friends and make my way to Ooty. The group was to come by a mini-bus, with my new found love, I decided to make it on my bike. Preparations as with any other long trip, started a little early. This time was to upgrade the protection. Things were falling in place but the last week I had to back-off from the Ooty plan due to a situation I am trying to avoid for a long time now.

Two days to go and heard Harish was lingering without a concrete plan. He had an invitation from Chetta (If I tell the name, he will be caught by his wife :D ) to join in his house. There were two more guys joining Chetta. I proposed a plan to go on a night trek to Nagala and also wanted to rope in Ramesh.

This was the plan until almost 6 in the eve of the 31st. Was home after spending time with Nagu to get an helmet and have his new RE 350 delivered. Nagu also carried the tarpaulin with him to use for our trek. Ramesh TL did not say 'yes' or a 'no' for his leave request, leaving 'no' as  the answer to take. Now it was me, Harish, Chetta and his two friends.

Harish came home by 8 pm on his bike, we swapped it with my other bike. Started packing, called our Chetta to get the pick-up location, then was the first twist in the plan. Chetta was already near high and was proposing us to join with him in his house. Sorry Chetta, I have to go away at any cost. So it was me and Harish. We went to consult with Gokul (Google) and quickly selected Bellam caves for our ride. We will sleep in Nagala, morning make our way to Bellam caves and be back.

Off we started.

Harish backpack on my front, my backpack was with harish with necessary items for a short trek. We went on my bike leaving the other bike behind.

Everything went on well till Park Sheraton, then was a jump in plan to go to Rameshwaram, take the ECR, go on a long ride. With little to no hesitation we took the turn and headed to Rameshwaram.

The first stop was in Mahabalipuram. Dinner in Guru hotel, one of my fav place in Mahabs. We spent time in the beach, hopefully only the two sober souls in that area. It was still around 10 - 11 pm, we started to Pondy, our next milestone and the place we decided to rest our back.

Midnight (The break of a new calendar year) went by on the way to Pondy without much of commotion. Nice.

We reached Pondy past 1 am. Stopped for a tea. Road was filled with templated activities. I wanted to rest my back. Harish suggested to settle in a petrol bunk. Sounded like a plan. We crossed one, did not stop. The next one was already shut down. We went in, no one active. We could see people sleeping inside the office room. We picked up a place under a tree right next to the Air pump. With a bed sheet with me, this was a luxury after experiencing a cold night sleep in Paravadhamalai just a week before.

We got our wake up call from a nearby mosque at 5:15 am. We got up and started.

We took the ERC route the whole way stopping in Tharangambadi after hearing about a Danish fort and for breakfast.

With much effort we reached Rameshwaram at 2:15 pm. The final stretch of road and in perfect condition giving confidence to go past 100 kmph which helped make up lost time on other stretch. Very few were in a poor condition.

After reaching Rameshwaram it was time to talk to people and find a budget accommodation. We skipped a place where a night will cost Rs.1000. I told him I am looking for something around Rs.700 for two people, then we got a place for Rs.500 just next to the place we skipped. It was a well maintained room, as clean as you can get. It had a fan, 3 walls and a partition separating this  space from the spacious lobby, a table in one corner and that's it. No bed, chair or any furniture. Perfect place.

After dropping all our baggage, we went on to a tourist mode. We started off to Dhanushkodi. It was a 22 km ride. Harish took on the drivers position as his helmet did not help much on the highway.

We reached to a point after which vehicles were not allowed. We started to walk without knowing how far to walk and what to expect. It was a narrow piece of road with beach running on both the side not more than a few meters away. Constant gushing wind was spraying sand all over filling in all places it can make way to. We also spotted vans riding in the shallow part of the water, thinking they were showing off to tourist.

There were constant discouragement from people walking from opposite direction that they were not able to make it to Dhanushkodi walking for hours and are returning back. We still kept going as we had nothing else to do. We still kept asking people walking in the opposite direction on how far it is. Just 2 guys gave the real picture. It is possible (Nice to hear) and we can try to get a van to return, it is not easy to get it for the return as it is already filled to take the onward journey. These were the vans I thought were showing off on the beach. These actually ferry people.

We reached Dhanushkodi, heard about the story behind this once buzzing town before the 1964 cyclone which washed away the entire town. We also met a survivor from the cyclone, who made it to Rameshwaram clinging on to left over railway tracks. Could only imagine what people would have gone  through when the disaster took place.

We took a van on our way back. The van driver charged Rs. 50 for the return after much of negotiation. The two way cost was Rs. 150.

We reached Rameshwaram, freshen-up and went to the temple after visiting the Agni thertham which is right behind the temple. This temple was huge. Not much crowd. The visit was over in about 30 min.

We got stuffs for the night and went back to our room and called it a day.

The next day was our turn back day with 550km to go to reach back home. We decided to take the Tiruchy route instead of the ECR route on the way back. We visited the Navagragham temple inside the sea (Yes, you read it right) in Devipattinam. We took a halt in Kanadukathan for a Chettinaud lunch. We were suggested Nathans cafe just 2 buildings next to the famous 1000 window house. The lunch was a bit pricey, still was good for the price. Clicked a pic of the 1000 window house.

  After much discussion to go to Kodaikalan or to Ooty or to Pondy, we still had to return to Chennai as Harish was tied up for Sunday

 Chennai at 9 pm and we called it time well spent.

This was the first ride I was not doing solo. Bike handled well all the way through all the road condition. All in all this was away from the set template for a new English calendar year.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Parvathamalai Solo trek (26 - 27.Dec.2015)

This was one such thing that flashes and you are on. This happened over my morning tea at 9 am, I was out with my bag and my camera in it at 10 am. Planning - no complaints coz I had none. Later regretted that I din plan. Still was an experience.

With minor repair work on the bike near Mel maruvathur in a Honda service center, reached Polur, the nearest town to Paravadhamalai.

Had my lunch there, inquired about the route and headed to Paravadhamalai. I had doubts climbing up with my joint pain which I decided not to give any attention. Parked my bike behind a temple where there was a paid parking lot. Started my walk from there.

There are 4 sections to cross before you reach the peak.
Paravadhamalai trek route - Board
Paravadhamalai trek route

1. Flat cemented path: 1.68 km
2. Cemented steps: 1.78 km
3. Rocks and pebbles: 0.75 km
4. Crowbar path (Kataparai padhai): 0.4 km
The first section was a good warm up and crossed comfortably. After this section was a temporary shed from where the materials for the temple construction is being sent. You can carry a small bag of sand (May be around 1 - 2 kg), a brick or any construction material as available there. I took a bag of sand and started from that point.

Paravadhamalai temple construction material dispatch
Paravadhamalai temple construction dispatch

The steps was not my cup of tea. Took long breaks, and had a nice nap on the way with the lunch settling in. Took all the time on earth to finish this part. My trusted google would show the way and say the ETA is 35 min. Google, come try this yourself. Are you sure you will do it in 35 min. Pffff..

I was happy when the steps was done. The rocks and pebbles was much more comfortable to walk on than the steps, mind was engaged in planning the next step, the ascend was manageable with planning the steps. On the way met a group of friends who were having their school reunion. All must be in their early to mid 40's. Was talking to them sharing my travel experience and my recent 2,300 km solo ride. This again was engaging and we did not take any break at all for a long time. They were a group of 6 friends. They were planning night halt on the peak. Cooking dinner was also in their plan. They extended their invitation and I was happy to join them.

As we crossed the rocks and pebbles path, we reached the much awaited and talked about Kadaparai paadhai (crowbar path, a literal meaning in English). I was amazed thinking how they had planned to root these crowbars, iron rods in to this large peace of rock and carve out sections to give grip to the leg. It all the more amazes me to think how people must have done the same path before they had these crowbars in place. Only a true devote or someone who understood what they are doing could have done it.

This path was the most interesting of all, looks tough but not as hard as you would imagine with all these luxuries people have done to make this easy.

This was a small stretch, and then were narrow staircase until the top.

Paravadhamalai temple silhouette
Paravadhamalai temple silhouette (Night photography)

The temple was almost empty when we went, I was happy that I made it. I had doubted if I can do it. But it was a moral boost that I had done this, one of my bucket list. The place was peaceful. Had a divine moment in the temple.

Paravadhamalai temple silhouette
Paravadhamalai temple silhouette

Then we were up for our next task. Cooking dinner. With experienced people taking charge, I resorted to pealing garlic and passing spoon and plates. All was done and we ended up with boiled rice and Kathirikai kaara kuzhambu. I almost tripled my average. With a cold gushing wind and piping hot food in hand, you can understand only if you had experience it.

Lighting the lamp

All went on well, next was to find a place to rest our back until morning. We went back to the temple, it was now filling up, not with people to see the temple, but for the same motive we came in. Now my bad planning kicked in. The temple had granite flooring (People have brought these Granite slabs as well). Had to sleep with nothing to separate me from the floor or to cover myself. My body heat would heat up the floor, would lay there in the same position, if I was to change position, would need to wait for the floor to match my body heat, before I can go back in to a deep sleep.

Morning we woke up at 4:30 am (Woken up actually :( ), then we had chukku kapi, clicked a few pics, went to the Ashramam.


Paravadhamalai - Nandhi figure

The place that serves food for all the people who climb up this place. They take donations and are continuing to serve free food to all. We skipped the breakfast offer, climbed down with  breaks in between and then came back home through Aarni, Arcot route.

All of this happened so quickly. I doubt if this would have happened if I had planned for it. It was spontaneous and I did what I felt at that moment that I need to do.