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Gourmet Chili Pepper and Salsa Festival September 27, 2009

Posted by vettithoughts in Say Cheese!, Texas.
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A group of us went to the  Chili pepper and salsa festival held in Fredericksburg, Texas during the month of July. The theme of the day was ‘Heat’. June and July had record 100 F or more days this year and we supplemeted that heat by  munching on tortilla chips, wheat and multigrain crips covered and floating in Cayenne, Jalapeno, Serrano, Poblano salsa or jam. Burning mouths and tongues were periodically cooled with cold and minty lemonade.

These are certainly not wax models

These are certainly not wax models

We were late for picking up peppers that we wanted. By the time we reached, the fields were either almost empty or had few withered ones. We did get to see various flowers and take strategic pictures.

A complicated flower

A complicated flower

I did not know the names of most flowers. But most of them proved good backgrounds for the pictures and that kept me happy.

More flowers

More flowers


One more

One more


We spent the remaining time listening to a live band and waiting for the balloon show. This was a bit disappointing as I had assumed that the hot air balloons would take off. There were 3 balloons that were filled with heated air and that was it. It was fun to watch as long as it lasted.

We bought some chili-ed pasta, mango chili jams and hot salsas and started home.

Glass globe on sale

Glass globe on sale


                                                                                                           Photos copyright Sowmya 2009


Rant for the day.. July 31, 2009

Posted by vettithoughts in General vetti, Misc..
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My fiance and I are putting together a  power point presentation with all the rituals during a typical Tamil Brahmin wedding ceremony. The reasons behind the significance of each ceremony makes the feminist in me cringe. Wonder why we women go through all these rituals that does not have much in ways of expectations form the groom and instead is filled with reams of advise on how the bride has to be the ideal woman personified.

The only ritual that makes any sense to me is the ‘Saptha padi’- Taken from Wiki

Now let us make a vow together. We shall share love, share the same food, share our strengths, share the same tastes. We shall be of one mind, we shall observe the vows together. I shall be the Samaveda, you the Rigveda, I shall be the Upper World, you the Earth; I shall be the Sukhilam, you the Holder – together we shall live and beget children, and other riches; come thou, O sweet-worded girl!

This hymn also seems to have a predilection for male progeny and the wife obeying the husband – concepts in various translations. But parts of it is nice and makes sense.

Oh well! the things we do for love…..

I am back with some pics from Austin June 29, 2009

Posted by vettithoughts in General vetti, Texas, Travel.
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Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell



More bats

More bats





Photos copyright Sowmya 2009

Don’t be an idiot- A public service announcement September 30, 2008

Posted by vettithoughts in Awareness.
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What do you think happens when some idiot barbecues on his patio in an apartment at nearly midnight? I don’t understand the logic behind this.

The end result: 1 dead dog, 3 apartments ruined, many people’s sleep and peace of mind ruined.

Thanks to CJ for recording this and providing me the video.

“True creativity often starts where language ends.”-Arthur Koestler September 14, 2008

Posted by vettithoughts in Moosik: Soul of life.

(From Sulekha Website)

Music is the greatest communication in the world. Even if people don’t understand the language that you’re singing in, they still know good music when they hear it.

Lou Rawls

I have been so looking forward to this show as this is the first show I will be attending since I came to the US. San Antonio does not get any desi shows probably because of the low number of Indians. Dallas and Houston get all the big shows. Austin get a lot of classical/carnatic shows due to the diligent work from India Fine Arts (IFA). So when I heard about this show, I asked M to get the tickets for both of us.

The show started exactly at 7:00 PM. I never expected that. I have heard about how desi events never start on time. So, this was surprising and quite a welcome change. Mr. Nagarajan gave an introduction to the artists who need none. The entrance of Chitra ji, Sailaja ji and Sri Krishna Vishnubhotla, the winner of a reality show were greeted with resounding claps and the audiance were on their feet to welcome Dr. SPB.

SPB ji was omnipresent and down to earth, introducing each song by mentioning some interesting titbit, teasing shy responses and blushes from Chitra ji, encouraging and supporting Sri Krishna interacting with the audience at every step and keeping us entertained every minute of the 3 hours.

Even before he started he explained that he might not be able to satisfy every person as the number of songs they will be singing in each language might not be the correct representative percentage of people from that specific region. He also requested that parents with crying children go outside (and watch the proceedings in the screen there) so as to not disturb the rest of the audience (believe me I appreciated that a lot!)

The first song what was rendered by all the four of them was

1. Vande Mataram

This was the Hindi version.

The second song was

2. Shankara (Telugu; Film Shankarabharanam). SPB ji sang the song and also mentioned that this was the song that garnered respect for him in the music field.

3. Ilaya nila (Tamil; Film Payanangal mudivathillai) the ever green song. No words needed.

4. Kalabham tharam (Malayalam; Film Vadakkum Nathan) Chitra Ji’s voice is as always like honey.

5. Abbanee Tiyyani (?) (Dhak dhak karne laga) version in Telegu

Don’t know if i got the right song name in Telugu. Even in a language that I don’t understand, the music and the singers kept me clapping to the tune.

Thanks to Ramani for the correction

The song is ‘Ammanee Kammani debba’ from the film ‘Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari’

6. Ram bha bham (Tamil; Film MMKR) another song that sets the feet tapping.

7. O Maria O Maria (Hindi; Film Saagar) by SPB ji and Sailaja ji. This was an unexpected delight.

8. Antha Rama Mayam (Telugu; Film Sri Ramadasu) a wonderful devotional number.

9. Karpoora Kannigai vaarai (Tamil; Vijay song) no idea what this song is or from which film. Sri Krishna sang this and man! that guy could sing. For all his shyness at being amongst such great singers, once he opened his mouth to sing, his voice could easily traverse all that the song required. (On googling I found out that the movie is Azhagiya Tamizh Magan)

10. Ee Sundara (Kannada; Film Amruthavarshini)

11. Venuve (Telugu; Film ??)

12. Maraindirunde parkum (Tamil; Film Thillana Mohandambal) by SP Sailaja ji. This was not as good as original.

13. Yamaha Nagari (Telegu; Film Choodalani Vundi) by Sri Krishna. Again the focus is on how easy he is with the microphone. Until he starts singing he is this shy person and once he starts singing it is truly a confident and professional performance.

14. Guruvayurappa guruvayur appa (Tamil; Film Pudhu pudhu arthangal)


(People started crowdiing in front of the dressing rooms to meet with the singers. I guess only a few got the opportunity. SPB ji apologized for that

15. Bangaru Kodi Petta (Telugu; Film

I suppose this is one of those famous Chiranjeevi songs just like how these kind of Rajnikanth songs are famous. anyway did not make any sense as far as the lyrics are concerned.

16. Mere Mehboob tujhe (Originally by Mohd. Rafi) SPB ji sang this for one person in the audience who wanted him to sing something classical from Hindi.

17. Saathiya Tune Kya Kiya (Hindi; Film Love) All I remember about this movie is it has Salman Khan and Revathy and I had liked this song. So it was nice to listen to SPB ji and Chitra Ji.

18. Bharathi Kannamma (Tamil; Ninaithale enikkum) Originally sung by SPB ji and Vani Jayaram and the music director is MSV ji.

19. Endu Paranyalum (Malayalam; Film—-) Chitra ji’s singin was so full of pathos.

20. (Maasi maasam alana ponnu)-Telugu version

21. Konjam neram (Tamil; Film Chandramukhi) This was rendered by Sri Krishna. Again I am full of awe for this guy’s singing ability.

22. Jotheyali (Telugu; Film Geetha) Originally by SPB and S. Janaki

23. Paadariyen Padipariyen (Tamil; Film Sindubhairavi) A national award winnning song by Chitra ji. Do I need to say more.

24. Antharyaami (Telugu; Film Annamacharya) by SPB ji and SP Sailaja ji

25. Ballelkha Ballelakha (Tamil; Film Sivaji) by SPB. Can any tamil concert be free of Superstar’s songs). This was an ultimate finish for an ultimate show.

The Good:

– Austin got the opportunity to host this show. Apparently, IFA has been trying for a decade to bring SPB ji to Austin. This year they out bid Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta.

– There was a bone marrow drive for an Austin resident Manish. Many peple registered for it.

-SPB ji, Chitra ji, SP Sailaja ji and Sri Krishna and the wondeful orchestra

-Very good organization, very well-behaved audience

-The Gateway church, for offering the venue and organizing everything so efficiently. (The church is building a hospital in Andhra Pradesh)

-The acoustics.

The bad:

-IFA people please proof read the hand outs. Two commas (,,), two periods (..), silly spelling mistakes- ‘Singe’ for singer; ‘Indiia’ for India could have been avoided.


SPB ji mentioned that though it is assumed that he has sung over 40, 000 songs, it is possible 35,000 and he has never applied for a Guinness world record.

The Great Smoky Mountains May 28, 2008

Posted by vettithoughts in Travel.
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This memorial day weekend K, A, M and I decided to visit the Tennessee side of The Great Smoky Mountains. We flew into Nashville, TN on Saturday and drove to Pigeon Forge, where we had reserved our accommodations. It took us around three hours to drive from Nashville to Pigeon Forge. As we got near Pigeon Forge the traffic started to move at a snails pace. We stayed at Vacation Lodge and it was close enough to Gatlinburg and The Smokies. Saturday evening, we drove to Gatlinburg. This town is like the gateway to the Smoky mountains. As you drive from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg the scenery changes from a flat land to a mountain road before you blink. Pigeon Forge looks like a flat land with nothing more than hotels, putt golf courses and various amusement rides. The restaurants there are not so good. We found one Johnny Carino’s and probably only a couple of well known eateries. The drive to Gatlinburg was beautiful. The downtown is pretty and we walked the entire stretch. There are so many fudge shops and candy shops where you could get warm, fudges and candies made in front of your eyes. We walked to Ober Gatlinburg which is a ski resort in addition to being an entertainment park. We went in an aerial tramway that took us up the mountain to where the ski slopes are (In winter I suppose the slopes are covered by snow). Ober Gatlinburg also has a Black bear habitat, which did not really interest M or K. A and I wanted to see if though. We did learn new stuff about black bears. So it wasn’t a waste of time ( Not that there was anything better to do). There is an ice skating rink and we didn’t really give it a shot. We did go on the Alpine slide or I should say come down on the Alpine slide after a ski lift took us midway up the mountain. The sled I got went so slow that I reached the end of the slide 5-10 minutes after every one else. But it was fun.. full of wandering and and hair pin bend descent. By the time we took the return tram, it was dark and the town/city looked really beautiful with lights from the tram. There are so many things to do here and we didn’t do much other than this. We drove back to Pigeon Forge after getting stuck in the traffic.

The next morning we started for Cade’s Cove. Apparently this is one of the most popular places to visit in the Smokies. We initially wanted to bike the 11 mile ( Its not really we- more like K and M wanted to bike and they were sure that A and I wouldn’t be able to and we would whine the entire way). Anyway whatever the reasons were by the end of the day both of them realized that they wouldn’t have been able to do it either. So, it was good that we instead traveled the 11 miles in the car. We had one major hike scheduled for the day- The Abrams falls trail. This trail was a total 5 mile hike. 2.5 miles to the falls and then back. Through the entire trail there are beautiful scenic spots which was a heaven for me and my camera. Finally we did reach the falls. For that hike we were a little disappointed. The falls was just 20 feet high and by the time we reached there we were so hungry and just then realized that there were no shops or eateries inside the park. (Didn’t know that before we went to Smokies and sigh…..suffered). After the mandatory photo shoots, we started to retrace our way back which turned out to be a little difficult on empty stomachs. Still we valiantly forged ahead. K and M were so hungry, that they just wanted to drive out to find some place to eat. But the cars were moving at a snails pace. We came to know that there was a black bear ahead, and people were stopping to take pictures, thus holding up traffic. Hey! the bear did wait for us until we reached that spot. Oh! and there were so many beautiful log cabins, Didn’t stop to take pictures though. Finally we did get out of the park and went to subway for lunch. M and K just wanted to go back to the lodge. All K wanted to do was sleep and then get up to watch NBA game.

Cade’s Cove meadows with mountains at the backgound

I took a short nap after which A and I walked nearly 2 miles on the parkway street/road to do some window shopping. We found a shop that sold Levis and Dockers T-Shirts and Jeans. They were so cheap, especially the T-shirts at $4.99. Bought some for myself and P. The day finally dawned to a close.

The next day we were better prepared with breakfast bars and snacks. We drove to Cligman’s dome first, which at 6,643 feet is the highest point of Smokies. We initially drove to Sugarlands visitor center before confirming the directions to Clingman’s dome. There are numerous scenic pullouts for photo opportunity. Then it was a 0.5 mile hike to the dome. It is steep paved trail. We were huffing and puffing by the time we reached the top. Apparently the Appalachian trail cuts here and is either one of the or the highest point in that trail K and I had a discussion on that and were wondering how long it would take to complete the Appalachian trail. It would require a lot of mental strength in addition to physical stamina to undertake and finish the trail. I got a couple of good shots from Clingman’s dome. Tried for a panoramic stitch shot. Did not have a tripod for it and ended up messing it. I am not too happy with the majority of the photos. One frustrating aspect was the fog/haze that is ever present. Either my photographic skills are poor or my camera is not capable of those shots. It was disappointing that I did not get many good quality pictures. The trees (Fraser Firs) there looked so bare when compared to those slightly at a lower level of the mountain. Apparently they have been falling victim to the havoc caused by Balsam woolly adelgid. Anyways after that nice visit we drove back to the Sugarlands visitor center. Our next target was Laurel Falls. It is a 80 feet high falls and the trail is a 2.6 miles round trip. This was actually a easier hike mostly due to the paved trail. That was fun and the falls was worth the hike.

The mountains from Clingman’s Dome

Another view of the mountains from Clingman’s

Finally, we drove on the Roaring Fork trail. This is a winding trail with old log cabins, historic buildings, creeks and water falls. It led to many short hiking trails to different falls. We didn’t go on any of them. Instead we had a beautiful scenic drive filled with sounds of moving water, scents of all the greenery and a sense of peace.

The next day we drove to Nashville to take the flight back to Texas.

Give me mountains and creeks anyday. It is so peaceful there.

Photos copyright Sowmya 2008

Slice of Life-2 March 26, 2008

Posted by vettithoughts in Sad but true :(.
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Some one needs to tell you…

that you work to live and is not that you live to work

Enchanted rock March 11, 2008

Posted by vettithoughts in Texas, Travel.
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Enchanted rock, originally uploaded by vettithoughts.

Situated north of Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock is a huge pink granite dome extending 425 feet above ground. It is a place for hiking, camping and rock climbing. It is not too tiring and took us probably two hours to climb the rock up and down. The sky was blue and clear. It was a perfect day, not too cold or hot.


Photos copyright Sowmya 2008

New York Nagaram March 11, 2008

Posted by vettithoughts in Places I have visited, Travel.
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New York Nagaram, originally uploaded by vettithoughts.

A city that is awake even at 2:00 AM….
A city for people who love to watch/observe…
A city for people who love walking….

Photos copyright Sowmya 2008

An evening in Austin November 26, 2007

Posted by vettithoughts in Texas, Travel.
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Dinner at la Madeleine with friends

A slice of Kahlua Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory

A cup of Mexican Vannila  ice cream at Amy’s

Two hours of 80’s rock music at Sherlock’s Baker St. Pub and grill among friends.

Makes a perfect evening 🙂