Friday, October 29, 2010

Europe 2010 - Part 4

October 11, 2010    Paris Day 3


G and I were out of the bed and ready to go to Versailles while PS wanted to lunch with Natalis and relax. Just before we headed out I checked one more time to see the hours of operation to notice that the Chateau was closed on Mondays. Damn! Now change of plans. G and I decided to do Chateau de Vincennes instead. The three of us took the train to Chateau de Vincennes and were surprised to see that the place was almost deserted. Of course it was early in EU standards, 10.00am but still. We saw the chapel and the Donjon of Charles V. We climbed many steps in the dungeon like spiral staircase and enjoyed the history behind the place. It really felt like we were in our very own private castle. When we walked out we were generously satisfied as we had seen something uniquely French and un-touristic while having some semblance to the Tower of London without the gore.

Our tummies were rumbling with the cold and after all the exhausting climb up and down. We ate lunch at a Turkish place right outside the Chateau. Their definition of Panini and mine did not match and hence, once again my meal sucked. Babs ate yogurt and had some juice and was ready for the rest of the day.

Now since we were already done with the only place we had planned on we had time at our hands. I asked G if he wanted to take up Natalis's advice and go to Montmartre. We had no idea what to expect other than a church. Neither of us were super excited but having nothing better to do decided to board the train.

The minute we reached there, I was already dissuaded. First, we were forced to climb million steps. I complained and silently thanked God for my physical fitness because two months ago I could not have done it even with my sneakers on and imagine climbing a hundred plus steps in boots...all the walking in Paris that had to be done. But when we got up there, it was all worth it. The view was spectacular even better than what we had seen from atop the Eiffel. I am sorry but I like the more earthly stuff like this. It was all the more beautiful because we expected nothing from this place. Absolutely nothing but it offered us something so beautiful that it instantly became our second favorite thing in our trip then so far. G and I were so excited and I was giggling most of the time I was there high on excitement. The church also was beautiful both outside and inside and lived up to the external hype. Thank you Natalis, if not for you we would not have gone up and experienced this beauty.

Babs did something there. As we walked through the aisle I pointed out to her a tall statue of Jesus. Babs instantly dropped to her knees to get blessings from him the Hindu way. I had prompted none of this. G and I did not know how to react as she stopped the flow of traffic. I was very happy though, I saw innocence and the beauty of it manifested in her, in children. Just to say that all Gods are one and nobody knows it better than children.

On our way out, we realized that our Paris train pass gave us free cable car ride up and down to Montmartre! Damn! So we took the Funiculaire down and did some quick souvenir shopping before letting Babs ride another carousel. Then we took the train to visit Champs Elysees. We also got a glimpse into the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais and the Pantheon dome. G slept along the Petit Palais on the benches fronting the roads and woke up energized once again. It was the 12% beer! In the meantime I fed Babs and got her ready for her nap. Babs napped while we Champs Elysees'd and took the train back home.

Once again as we got home to find a flustered PS. There was a train strike announced in Paris and was going to start that night at 7.00pm. Our train out of Paris was at 8.01pm. He was really concerned and wanted to get to the station ASAP. Once again we hurried packing and cleaning up the house for Sebastien and I also tried to squeeze in a Babs feeding in between. On our way out G and I begged for coffee, we were exhausted beyond words. So we sat down Paris style, had a cup of Cappucino, and Espresso shots. The waitress at the restaurant was very kind and made a pomegranate drink for Babs which she totally enjoyed. We were all relaxed but had to recharge and head to the station.

Once at the station we realized that nothing could be done till we knew for certain what was going to happen to our train. No one had any information and everyone were standing around anxiously. G and PS sat down for a beer while I had a Tiramisu. I was in heaven. Babs tasted some too, it had a bit of alcohol but I could not stop her. She was just too quick for me. All was well. I was looking forward to going to Belgium, wearing my sneakers and hiding my boots away for ever. Once again we dragged our relaxed self back to the station which was now filled with more impatient and loud people.

PS inquired and found out that all the trains to BRU were cancelled but for ours. He guessed that there would be a fight for place in spite of us having reserved seats because people from the five, six and seven 'o' clock trains were also going to try to get into our train. We were sitting on our bags waiting while I fed Babs more yogurt and we sang a bunch of songs (specifically 'In The Jungle') and spoke a lot. Approximately an hour and half later the speaker system kinda sorta announced some gibberish which sounded like gibberish in both English and French and all of us stood confused. PS and G ran around trying to find out which train was going where and which one was ours. No one knew. Not even the people who ran the trains or the ones who collected tickets. We were sent in ten different directions. Babs and I were confused and there was an almost stampede situation going on. Finally PS figured out and took us to the correct train. Inside the train again no one was  sure which train was going were. People going to Amsterdam got into our compartment and then they had to run out. People going to Rotterdam were already seated in our compartment and had to vacate when PS went and confirmed with three different people that the one we were sitting was indeed headed to BRU. We panicked and finally gave up as the train departed. Everything happened in a matter of ten minutes from the start of the announcement to the departure of the train. It really did not give people enough time to figure out what was happening at all. Finally, we relaxed and Babs did some coloring as we headed East again seeing Paris disappear into the dark behind us.

Once we got to BRU, C was there once again waiting for Babs who ran into her arms and would not leave her side at all even though she was dead tired. They played a bit. Babs ate a bit and we also had some quick dinner before hitting the sack. All of us were super tired especially after the final touch of excitement in Paris. One more day in BRU before we headed to Germany. G and I were confused if we should do BRU tour or take the train to Ghent. PS advised us to go and look around BRU. I packed everything up before hitting the sack for the fourth night in EU.

PS:

  • Read Local news when you are travelling. Thanks to Natalis PS got to hear about the train strike and we could get to the Paris Nord from Bastille on time. Else we could not even have made our connections to Paris Nord.
  • Enjoy the cafe's and road side eating in EU. It is the best part of the experience. 
  • Store owners and restaurants are very nice to people with kids. Wherever we went with Babs she got some kind things from them. Juice, candy's, and good cheer.
  • Restrooms in Paris are in the most inconvenient places too. Sometimes they are worse than what we have in India. Nastiest!
  • Crepe's in Paris are the best, especially the Nutella ones. It is nice to see them make it too.
  • It is so shocking and surprising to see Desi's speak French and tell you that they cannot understand English. The French-Desis are as snobbish as the French! 
  • Paris trains rock! But they never tell you to 'Mind The Gap.'
  • If you are travelling with a baby, stock up on baby food. There is no such thing as too much! Babs survived on half a meal of dal rice and two boxes of yogurt everyday along with milk at dinner. She lost like 3 pounds.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Europe 2010 - Part 3

October 10, 2010        Paris Day Two

We all woke up early but then getting ready and having Babs fed took us more time than we had originally estimated. We left the house close to ten and got into the trains hopping from one station to other changing trains. G challenged himself asking me not to take the stroller with me. He decided that it was more painful to carry the stroller up and down the station than carrying Babs. So already handicapped we reached Notre Dame.

What do I have to add to what has already been told a million times about this place? The church is spectacular from both inside as well as outside. The stained glass rose windows, paintings, and just being there was breath taking and super impressive. The place commanded respect and we gave it its due. We then walked along the Seine river to take a boat ride. We sat on the top and took in Paris from the boat getting to see Eiffel tower once again and other Parisian buildings of importance.

Babs was tired and took a nap on her father. I could not do anything to help him because I was already suffering wearing my 3" boots two days in a row. PS had to share his boat ride with an octogenarian which provided a lot of good humor to last more than a day. After the boat ride we decided to go to the Louvre. It was already 4.45pm and the lady at the ticket counter informed us that we will only have one hour of viewing time. We were glad that we had a time restriction lest we get carried away (not!). G and I focussed and walked following signs to the Mona Lisa and nothing else. We saw tons of paintings from the Christian era and Babs once again got excited about baby Jesus.

Mona Lisa was slightly bigger than I had expected her to be and yes she was not beautiful but there was something about her/him/it whatever that is. We took the appropriate photos and headed back through the Sphinx display and statues from the Roman era which were really impressive. By now my feet were hurting. I did the shameless thing of taking my boots off and walking sock-footed through the rest of Louvre. Babs and us had the most fun outside in the Plaza. The water fountains and the huge water bodies helped me keep Babs entertained while I fed her yogurt after which she tried to catch the doves that were roaming freely in the Plaza. Everyone relaxed while I stretched my feet.

Later PS asked us to go with him to meet his friend Natalis at Champs Elysees. I told PS that I could not do any more walking unless some one can detach my feet. One more train and one more splendid view as we got out of the station. Neither of us expected to be staring at Arc de Triomphe. Once again we were baffled by its beauty and majestic appearance. G, Babs and I walked to it while PS waited for his friend. We sat down below the magnificently detailed arches while Babs took our photos with our camera. She did a very decent jobs. My feet felt better but still sore. We headed back to meet Natalis who took us to a quaint little tea room where G drank beer, PS drank wine while Babs and I drank Gini (EU Lemon soda). PS wondered if I wanted to do the Champs Elysees that night but I begged out of it. To keep sanity happening we had just seen Notre Dame, walked the Seine, visited the Louvre and also the Arc de Triomphe. So really, I wanted a break. Plus I was pretty sure I had seen everything I wanted to in Paris!

We headed back home picking up some grocery on our way. We were walking along the road when we saw this weird looking guy play Sitar along side the road with the funniest expression in his face. The four of us walked a few feet away and then in a dark spot burst out laughing. We could not keep straight faces any more and we were out of the radius of decency. Then on checking out what Indian playing Sitar was doing there we realized that it was a Desi restaurant...quickly our tummy's made us enter the restaurant. We ate desi food...I think it was inevitable, we had to do it, cannot last more than two days without Indian food touching our stomach. We ate, controlled but happy. We mentally thanked the Sitar guy who obviously needed a raise for a job well done.

Then we walked up four storeys to the apartment when Babs quickly fell asleep. G and I sat down to plan  our itinerary for next day. After spending forty-five minutes in Louvre G was done with museums for the rest of his life which cut off most of Paris's attraction for us and we wanted something different to check out. We browsed books and checked the internet while fighting with G to let us browse when he wanted to watch the game Cowboys game. We finally came to a conclusion and soon enough G and PS had beers in their hands and we started chatting, till three that morning. I am glad G facilitated it to happen because PS and I got to talk after a long time about things we would never discuss with others. When I went to bed that night I felt better. G slept real peacefully after drinking two full size 12% beers.

Before we went to bed, we had a plan for Day 3 in Paris, go to Chateau de Versailles. But then not all plans go as we intend it to...

PS:

  • Things to remember when you are a tourist...read about the places you want to visit ahead of time...like what their hours are and such.
  • Walk around the city, do not take tour buses unless you are absolutely out of time. You get the feel of the city.
  • If possible befriend some locals, thanks to PS we met a lot of them and got to know a bit about their culture! It helps to get a better feel for the place. For example, in BRU it takes you an average of 1.5 hours in any restaurant. They serve very slow and rely on people drinking oodles of beer or wine!
  • Paris stinks of cigarettes...people puff on your face...and they have no consideration for their own kids.
  • Fashion in Paris...overrated and hyped.
  • No fat person in sight! Everyone is fit...even the boys are fit like girls...I mean they wear tight jeans, tight sweater and a tighter jacket, a cap and a shawl...they look like girls!
  • I wish I biked in Paris. With Babs it is not possible, maybe next time.
  • There is no A/C in most of Paris and BRU.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Europe 2010 - Part Deux

October 9, 2010      Brugge & Paris

I woke up at 7.00am after a fight with sleep and got ready before I woke G and Babs up to have our breakfast. PS was still sleeping because he went out partying after our already late dinner last night. I kicked his ass and got him out of the sofa where he slept because he gave us his bedroom (Love you for that & Thanks!) and then checked the time for the next train out of Bruxelles Central station. It was at 9.00am and unfortunately it was already 8.45am and we were still at home. We quickly put things together and ran to the station. The train had just got into the station as we climbed down the steps without buying tickets. PS asked the ticket collector to let us pay inside and shoved us into the train DDLJ style. We waved him bye as we sat down by the steps outside the first class compartment watching Belgium pass us by, village after village. Babs enjoyed it, the green, the cows, and G and I admired the style of buildings and the green. But still we were not yet super excited. I wanted to see the Europe of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol and here we were riding on the steps of the train. We were missing the kind of excitement you feel. Like I said before, we were also doubting if we should indeed spend so many days in Belgium especially since BRU was nice but not as Great as you would expect. At least in the start.

We got off at Brugge and got information regarding where to and what to from the info center and headed into the city. Five minutes of walking and we were rewarded having taken the hour long train journey. First, there was the beautiful canal with bridges atop. Then the winding streets with typical EU home fronts, lots of beautiful window sill flowers and postcard vistas and avenues. Of course there was a beautiful church which had the statue of Madonna of Brugge statue by Michelangelo. It was beautiful and so peaceful. We lit three candles inside. Prayed and walked around and took in the beauty of the peaceful place.

So anyway, coming back. We got into Brugge by 10.15am and we were all super hungry. G and I decided to try out one of the quaint cafe's along the street and we stopped to pick up a croissant, a cheese pastry, a waffle, Gini (Orange soda) and coffee before moving a limb. Surprise, everything was yummy. My first meal that I fell in love with in EU. Another surprise, Waffle is not served with syrup, instead with either powdered sugar, or chocolate, or whipped cream. They can also get topped off with fruits or other stuff, but no syrup. The waffles are not circular but instead squarish. They have jagged edges and look imperfect. They are at least an inch thick too. And I had it with just powdered sugar and it was heavenly. It melted in my mouth. I look at the pseudo named Eggo's Belgian waffles with super disdain now!

From there we proceeded to take the canal ride. Brugge is known as the Venice of the north and it lived up to its name. The canal was beautiful. The houses and buildings along on either side had beautiful history. We were so happy to have come this far. It was just what we had wanted to see and more. Babs was super excited to be on a boat and enjoyed watching the bridges pass over our heads.

After the canal we headed towards the market square making a stop at the Church of St. Anne (I think) and admired the statue of Madonna of Brugge from very close. This was Babs first brush with Baby Jesus and she fell in love with him. Every time she saw any church after that she wanted to go in and see Baby Jesus.

We finally arrived at the market square and picked up a Subway. Yes, you read that right, a Sub and water. In Belgium, they do not give you water to drink, you have to buy them bottled. The concept of serving water is not there. Ate the lunch and then strolled around the square before taking the bus ride. Aboard the bus G and I were hit by a bout of jet lag. We could not keep our eyes open and took short naps. The most expensive naps ever, we had paid 14 Euros each.

After another long walk we were back in the station. PS had previously told us that our train to Paris was at 7.00pm. We were back in BRU at 4.30 and were in no hurry. I made dinner for babs while Babs had a shower. PS ran in with C in tow to inform us that our train was at 6.15 from BRU Midi station (not Central which was close to his house) and we had to leave right then. Once again, we panicked, packed Babs dinner and ran to the station with huge bags and Babs in one arm. Changed a train and settled down in our Thaly's train to head to Paris. The minute we settled down I fed Babs had two spoons of rice and dal and with that she rested her head on my lap. She slept through the entire journey while G and I admired the beauty of the landscape and windmills as we headed towards Paris!

Babs and C hit off well. She fell in love with her and was dying to play with her after we came back to BRU. Babs likes very few people on first sight, this time around it was Remi from our previous night and C from today. She could not stopping asking PS about C throughout the entire stay in Paris.

We also had a mild altercation in the train as a big black lady along with her two kids sat on our chair and claimed that it was hers and she would not budge in spite of us showing her our reserved seat tickets. She started speaking fast in French and when we tried to reason out with her she got loud and angry. On one hand I was feeling bad for her because she did have two super cranky kids but then changing seats would mean that I would not be able to sit together with G and PS and finally spend some quality time with them. We did not say anything. We just stood and waited as she moved out and sat elsewhere.

And then we reached Paris, after dark! It was 8.00pm. We got off at Paris Nord, bought 3-day pass train tickets and took a train to Bastille and walked to Sebastien's (Remi's friend from previous evening party) home in the city. He was Prash's friend who let us use his house in Paris. He has no idea how helpful that was especially with a child on tow having a home and not a hotel room helped immensely. His house was located at the Opera center of Paris and the walk to his house was lined with restaurants, bars, and all the show biz we could enjoy. The house itself was small in American standards but beautifully self-sufficient and impressive in terms of space usage. G and I could not stop admiring the way there was everything in the house but scaled down. Thanks Sebastien. G then discovered the Ledru Rollin station that was closer to the house than Bastille and that is where we started most of our Parisian adventures.

Once we got home and freshened up G insisted that we do Eiffel Tower that very night night. I wanted to put up a mild resistance but decided that he might have a valid point. So we took the necessary trains and headed tower-wards. The minute you get off the station Eiffel tower vision surprises your senses. You know it is big but you cannot imagine how big it actually is. It is Huge and golden standing against the dark night behind. The beauty is indescribable and something to experience. Once we went up we sang Happy Birthday to Babs as promised and she quickly pointed out, "Amma, but you forgot to bring my cake." I assured her that she will have one on the 17th and we took her to a carousel ride just outside the tower while I had my first ever Parisian Crepe with which I fell in love. The one with Nutella...yumm...yumm. Seeing them make one is an art in itself and then eat it...yumm...

In all the excitement of being at the Tower I lost G's and my three day train pass. 40 Euro's down the drain. This cost us considerable delay because we had to acquire new tickets and so we had to walk to a different station and all that among my feet hurting like crazy so we did not get home till almost midnight. We were exhausted. I was super guilty, G was slightly angry but he downplayed it real well, PS could not believe that I had screwed up, he knew a different me. Not the clumsy mother that I have become! We had no idea when each of us had gone to sleep. PS slept on the couch mid-sentence while Babs was half asleep as we came home and G and I slept as soon as our heads touched the pillow. I prayed to God that tomorrow my feet would hurt less!

In all the hurry that led us to the train to Paris I had forgotten to take my sneakers and my legs had already started showing wear and tear of walking a whole day on cobblestone in my heeled boots. It looked good in the photos, no doubt, but it hurt like crazy. We slept like babies that night, again.

G planned to head out early again the next day so that we could do a lot of things. He reminded me that we fell in love with Brugge only because we got there early before the rest of the tourists made it in making the place look quaint and special instead of another tourist place which it looked like while we headed home. We planned to start at Notre Dame the next morning.


PS:
  • Go to Brugge if you are in EU. It is a city that will make you fall in love with it. It was my favorite part of the trip.
  • Do not wear high heels in Belgium or Paris. You walk a lot and the cobble stone in Belgium does not help and the climbing in and out of the train station in Paris does not really massage your feet either. 
  • Always carry a bottle of water from home. A really small bottled water in Belgium cost 3 Euros.
  • Everyone smoke in Paris. The city smells of cigarette smoke.
  • Paris is not the most clean city.
  • Eiffel tower at night is magnificent. And once you see it in the night the morning view is just okay.
  • Parisian's are not fond of English and people who speak it. We had to put our knowledge of basic French to use. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Europe 2010 - Part 1

Where do I really start? I did not know that I could pack so much excitement into ten days. G and I have always wanted to travel to EU and had also kept our friends living there on a line for the last six years. Finally this year we gave ourselves an ultimatum and booked the tickets. Plans were made, changed, visas were acquired, bags were packed, panicked a bit but by the time it was 7th morning the three of us were ready for the vacation ahead. I want to keep this as a travelogue to which I can come back after a few years just like I read my India trip journals here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. So obviously I have to write down a few memories that we made during this trip too.

This was Bab's first trip out of the United States and that freaked me out a little. I was not sure what I can get for her in EU that will be comparable to what she likes here. So I packed everything she likes for at least the first five days of the trip. Babs was also very excited that she would be celebrating her birthday in EU for which I had given her a lot of build-up. I promised to sing Happy Birthday to her when we were up at the Eiffel Tower and that had her happy.

October 7, 2010   Leaving Dallas!

We had our bags packed and the house cleaned and set up for post trip blues. I hate to return to a dirty house. Our friend B came to drop us off at the airport and off we went. The first time I would actually be sitting for extended periods of time. I had spent most of my previous two days running around buying stuff or cleaning the house or packing that I was having horrible leg and back aches. I was actually looking forward to sit in the flight. We boarded the flight at 1.35pm and landed in Chicago to board our flight to Brussels, Belgium. Babs behaved like an angel. Touch wood. I have never had her cry or throw a tantrum during any of our flight trips ever. I had books for her to color and keep her busy. She slept though most of our flight to BRU while G and I tried our best to snooze a bit ourselves which was pretty unsuccessful.

October 8, 2010      BELGIUM

Landed at BRU at 7.50am. I had already told my friend PS about my schedule and he was going to pick us up at the airport. I had not met him in 8 years and I was really looking forward to it. When we got out of the immigration and customs it took me a couple of minutes to spot him while he screamed my name out I was trying to orient myself to see my friend with long hair.

Babs boarded her first train in BRU to go to his house which was a ten minute walk from BRU central station. We saw the Manneken Pis and laughed and then proceeded to his house which was a thirty second walk from this most popular Belgian landmark ever. I don't know why, maybe it is a Belgian thing.

My friend lives in a house that is out of an interior magazine. Perfect. Spotless and perfect. Beautiful. But we took care of that and created a mess to keep things in balance. Showered and ready we walked around the Grand Plaza and the city center before grabbing lunch. G enjoyed escargots and mussels while I tried to the Rotisserie chicken. I got to practice a little French. We headed back home and slept like three little jet lagged babies.

In the meantime PS went and booked our Paris trip and got his house prepared for a party to make us meet some of his friends in BRU. We got ready once again just in time to say hello to his friends, all of them French who spoke English with a heavy accent.

Then we went to another restaurant and enjoyed a meal. Actually the food was just okay for me in both the occasion. G had enjoyed his lunch while dinner was just okay. Babs made friends with Sebastien's friend Remi and they got along so well. Babs surprised us by introducing herself to all of PS's friends and shaking hands with them and letting them kiss her hand. She acted a bit like a diva but made friends only with Remi. By the time we headed back to the house we were dead tired and it was close to one on the clock.

G and I were determined to have a more productive second day and decided to wake up early and hit the road. PS suggested for us to visit Brugge. We had no idea what was there but that is what we were going to go as we were not sure what was there in Belgium for us to see. As it is a lot of our friends were surprised that of all the EU countries we had chosen to stop in Belgium.


PS: 

  • Food in Belgium, super expensive.
  • Everyone speak English and are super helpful.
  • Restrooms were always located in the most inconvenient places.
  • There is cobblestone everywhere in Belgium. Even the roads and sidewalks. Think twice if you choose to wear heels.
  • Trains are awesome here.
  • People are super friendly.
  • Restaurants take approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. They are slow and relaxed and want you to enjoy the experience of eating out. But it was really inconvenient for us.
  • People made tons of adjustments because we had a three year old with us.
  • G fell in love with the beer's here that he did not even miss black label.
  • Belgian waffle is nothing like the waffle you get in USA and no, they do not it eat it with any syrup. But that is for Part Deux.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Today October 21, 2010

Babs went to her first day at a Montessori School. She is only trying it out for two hours but it is the beginning of a new life for her and for us. And obviously I am freaking out! G was slightly off too but I am sure he will never confess!!

Love
Amma!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Only Rajni Can!

I do not go much to a movie theater any more because I am a mother and I hate to tag along my to-be three year old out of her comfort zone. I hate to disturb other patrons with a cranky crying kid while they are trying to get their $20 worth of entertainment. Oh! Wait! Did I just say $20? Well, that is the most I have paid for any movie in my life. Even during my days of watching movies strictly after securing tickets through black market I don't remember spending so much. But was it worth it??? Hell yeah! BTW, did I tell you what I am talking about? If you did not already figure it out, then you are one of those who start giving a monologue the minute you hear the word Rajni saying, "Rajni is old, he is 60. Look at him acting with Aishwarya," or "Isn't he is the ugly Tamil actor? I don't know what they see in him." At a younger age, I would have gone postal on these people, now I have learnt to control my emotions and say, "I like him and I am a fan," and let that be. Because that is the truth, you cannot convince me to hate him and I cannot convince you to love him. The phenom called Rajni is something you are born with or you start liking on your own accord, you cannot be forced to like him just like all other good things in life. So yes, I am talking about Enthiran or Endiran (However you wish to pronounce it) and here is what I felt!

I was cynical, scared, and really prayed hard that this movie should not turn out like Baba after all the hype it had generated. I did not want to sit by watching people mock at him. It is the fashion now, people who have never seen a single Rajni movie bashing him. I know, that in the North and rest of India he is known for his style and silly gimmicks but trust me, there is more to him than just that. This is coming from someone who can easily say that she has seen almost all of Rajni movies ever released. I was born a fan! And thank God for Shankar, he made it happen. He made Rajni's last movie as a hero a hit, and that too a memorable one, a milestone, and a first time ever for India. And for that, we all thank you. We thank you for not using cheap graphics (maybe we should thank Kalanidhi for that), we thank you for making it all look believable, we thank you for bringing out the Rajni in Rajni.

Aishwarya Rai, of course you are a world class beauty. Respect. But I am sorry that you are not beautiful enough to overshadow Rajnikanth. In fact, the age difference or the disparity in beauty is hardly ever felt in spite of your flawless skin and drool worthy outfits because one does not see you when Rajnikanth is in the same frame as you. For the first time in your life, you were tolerable, really, because you were never in the foreground and you were just a means to an end. And maybe that is what you should try in your future movies, you might collect a few female fans are you grow old.

And finally, Rajni! Rajni! Rajni! Nee nadandhal nadai azhagu, nee sirithal sirippu azhagu...all that holds true even to this day, this minute and forever for all those who know the Rajni from Aboorva Ragangal, Ninaithale Inikkum, Priya, Annamalai, Baasha! Yes, I have to agree that you look like a grandpa without your make-up and stuff when you make your public appearances but thank you for making your personal life separate from your professional life. Thank you for not carrying on an image when you walk out to talk to your fans. Thanks for letting us know what is behind the make up and how good your make up artists are. They made you shine in the movie. Literally. What can I say, your Dr. Vasi reminded me of the Rajni from yore. Your Chitti reminded me of Rajni from 16 Vayathinile. And boy were we happy to see you relax and become a villain that was your forte that had been forced into a pre-mature retirement. It was nice to see Alex Pandian again, the walk and the style, Ah!. It was a fitting finale alright, and a grand one at that, where you took jabs at your old movies, brought us some good memories and gave us all somethings to cherish.

I saw this movie with friends from college. It felt like good old days, we yelled, clapped, cheered, screamed so hard that we had our throats hurting 20 minutes into the movie. I really do not want to write a review telling the story, that has already been done to death all over, and also do not want to write one that acknowledges everyone in the movie behind and in front of the camera, that is not how I do it but I want to thank them all for Endiran! Thank you. I can confidently say that if you are a Rajni fan, this movie deserves at least a couple of watches, I want to see it again. Shankar has kept it captivating throughout the two hours forty minutes. I really wish it was a couple of songs shorter but that is all. Did I really look for bloopers? No! Why would I? If I could see so-called smart movies that have obvious bloopers why will I look for them in a Rajni movie? Rajni shines in ever scene and the movie rests entirely on his shoulders. His comic timing outshines people who are paid to do comedy. Rajni Vs Rajni is amazing! Brilliant Movie and a must watch...brush up on Rajni-isms before you see it though.

Rajni the comedian is here and the villain is back...what more can you ask for?

I can write more and more. It is like I cannot stop talking about this movie.  And thank you for the thirty-five years of keeping your fans happy.

Cheers!
ART

PS: Just one question Shankar, couldn't you have come up with a better name than Chitti? Seriously...???