Monday, December 31, 2007

Hyderabad Moves On

The street is choc-a-bloc; shops shimmering with lac bangles of all sizes and shades flank it on both sides, pedestrians and vehicles mingle unassumingly moving at the same snail’s pace, an auto is parked right in the middle of the road but no one bothers nothing out of routine here, suddenly two camels appear from nowhere moving gracefully but extraordinarily fast and the traffic scatters to make legroom for them and they are assimilated too, in this organized chaos. Welcome to Chudi Bazaar, Charminar area, old city, Hyderabad. In broad daylight you might miss noticing the Charminar, though it is an imposing structure, the commotion is even more arresting. But there is no way you can miss it in the night, beautifully lit in shades of green and blue with the jet black sky in the background, it transports the whole milieu to that of an era bygone, we could as well have been begums out on a saunter. This is what I like the best about Hyderabad, the way the past and present coexist here.

Organized Chaos!

Hyderabad is a city, which has slowly grown over me after multiple visits; the first time I was there I hated the traffic and the harsh weather. But the moment I visited Chudi bazaar I fell in love with the place, and so I am here again after one year, and with renewed excitement, I have my camera with me this time. Two of my friends who are visiting Hyderabad for the first time go berserk at the sight of the vibrant Chudi shops. The friend who we all were visiting has just returned from USA, she is thrilled to see so many people a sight so uncommon in the States that she is busily taking videos of the crowd, and I as usual am clicking away to glory. A full moon is in bloom, and along with the lit Charminar it looks ethereal, although I try, I quite fail to get the same feel in the pictures I take.

The Moon and The Minaret

Compared to Chudi bazaar Husainsagar is quite a contrast; the monolithic Buddha statue at an island in the middle of the lake exudes nothing but serenity. The sight of the necklace road flanking a stretch of the lake and the beautiful multi-colored patterns the lights cast on the lake water is one to behold. On a hillock close by the Birla Mandir (aka Sri Venkateshwara temple) washed in light green light is visible. The Lumbini Park on the banks of the lake is packed with the weekend crowd; the ubiquitous street vendors selling bhel, panipuri, bhutta, nimbupani, bhajji and what not, are doing a brisk business. We take a ferry to the rock of Gibraltar, and I should say the experience of being so close to the magnificent Buddha statue is a humbling one.

||Peace||

The next day we visit Gokul Chaat, which is the Grand daddy of all chaat shops. It is jam-packed all hours its open, I am told, and the evidence is there for me to see. There is hardly any place to set foot inside the shop, which is just a small room with half the space being used as the kitchen, forget eating there. But once we get inside and somehow manage to order, we soak in the tangy aroma of the place. Here again the scene is one of organized chaos, amidst so much of commotion I doubt that our order is even placed, but miraculously we are served in just minutes, with the manager paying special attention to us, and needless to say everything is yummylicous. The street food in Hyderabad is scrumptious; I am especially fond of the dry bhel there. At the risk of sounding blasphemous I would say that I didn’t quite like the veg. biryani at a reputed restaurant, but then veg. biryani wouldn’t even come close to the famed mutton biryani of Hyderabad. I am yet to try the irani chai, which is another must-have on a visit to Hyderabad, maybe next time.

As I reflect on my way back to Bangalore from Hyderabad, I realize that I was on a sort of trail in Hyderabad and a bloody one at that. I visited all the areas that were rocked, by bomb blasts in the last one year, Mecca Masjid bombing in the Charminar area in May 2007, and the twin blasts at Gokul Chaat and Lumbini Park in August 2007. But apart from subtle reminders like metal detectors at Gokul Chaat, and the beefed up security at the Lumbini Park, the areas were as vivacious and upbeat as they were the last time I had visited them, a year back. I have heard a lot about the resilient nature of the Mumbaikars, but on this visit I got to see the fighting spirit of the Hyderabadis. Can a bomb blast wipe off the liveliness of the human spirit? For a city like Hyderabad, which just infects you with its soul, the answer is a resounding no.

Cross-posted on Desicritics

Monday, November 19, 2007

Diwali dreams

The fataka bazaar was decked up like a bride; resplendent with the bright and colorful shops for Diwali, the festival of lights. The shops were a world in themselves, crackers of all sorts found takers here, there were the evergreens like fuljhari, anaar, chakri, rockets, atom bombs…which were always in demand, but what sold like hot cakes this year was the fireworks that formed colorful patterns in the sky. They were a little expensive but it was a joy to watch them, unlike a rocket that just leaves a trail of fire, the firework emits a thousand dazzling stars, which twinkle for sometime before fading away in the night.

Shubhu dreamed of bursting a firework one day, where he would find the money to buy one he didn’t know, but he thanked God that at least he could dream for free. He worked for ‘Pushpa fireworks’ a small shop in fataka bazaar, the owner of the shop Wasim bhai was an eccentric fellow he owned a restaurant also named after Pushpa (Pushpa was the name of Wasim bhai’s first love.) in Gandhi bazaar, the busiest market of the city. He was well known in the city’s restaurant circle as an extremely miserly fellow, he had the reputation of recycling food, infinitely; the recycling industry could learn a lesson or two from him. He mixed and matched the dishes so well that the end result was lip-smacking concoctions; days of recycling lent the food a distinct flavor, which somehow fresh food lacked, and as a result ‘Pushpa Restaurant’ did a brisk business all through the year.

Out of the many eccentricities of Wasim bhai, was his fascination for crackers, his father always set up a shop in the fataka bazaar for Diwali, and this is where Wasim bhai’s love for crackers blossomed. Diwali was Wasim Bhai’s favorite festival, though he was a Muslim he celebrated Diwali with much more gusto than Id. As a kid he used to spend the days before Diwali lost in the cramped streets of fataka bazaar, there wasn’t a single cracker that escaped Wasim bhai's greedy eyes. Chemistry became his favorite subject in school because he used to research the chemicals that went into making of a cracker, Copper gave the cracker a distinct blue color, iron made it emit gold sparks and so on. And the day of Diwali, what fun it used to be! He would ensure that he had all the varieties of crackers available in the fataka bazaar for the D–day; he fired crackers starting early evening deep into the night. Starting the day with fuljhari, anaar and chakarrs and ending it with a ladd of 10,000 bombs, the sound of which resonated in the night for fifteen minutes to the least and which Wasim bhai likened to the firing at a country’s border.

When Wasim bhai’s father died early this year, it was but natural for him that he set up the shop in fataka bazaar himself this Diwali. And so he left the restaurant at the hands of his assistants (warning them strictly not to serve fresh food) a month before Diwali and set up ‘Pushpa fireworks’, he loved being in fataka bazaar, the place resounded of his childhood memories and in Shubhu he saw his own self, the kid shared his fascination for crackers, his face had lit up on seeing the numerous crackers neatly stacked in the shop’s shelves when Wasim bhai had allowed him inside the shop for the first time. Shubhu was very good with numbers he used to always top his class in maths and he assisted Wasim bhai with the shop’s accounts.

Shubhu came from a poor family his father was a mechanic in a garage and his mother was a domestic help, but being the only kid of his parents he was well-loved, apple of his parents’ eyes. They would have never allowed him to work, but Shubhu was adamant, he wanted to work during the Diwali holidays and earn some money. Every year his parents brought him new clothes and sweets during Diwali never buying anything for themselves, he wanted it to change this year. Wasim bhai had promised him Rs. 500 for his help with the accounts, how he wished he could buy some crackers with them, but crackers are a waste of money he reasoned with himself, he would buy a sari for his mother and a brand new shirt for his father, it’s been so long since they bought new clothes for themselves. But his heart still ached for crackers, when people bought crackers worth thousands of rupees from the shop he envied them, he was a kid after all and no amount of logic would convince his innocent heart.

Diwali morning was sleepy but with an expectance of the celebrations that lay ahead, Shubhu had already selected a lavender colored Sari with a rich border for his mother, his mother would look lovely in it, he thought, as for the shirt he hadn’t selected one till now, but do so as soon as he got the money. Wasim Bhai was in a particularly good mood today, he hadn’t shouted on anyone since morning and when Shubhu went to him he handed him a crisp 500 hundred-rupee note with a pat on his back. “Buy some crackers for yourself and have fun bursting them tonight!” he said, but Shubhu told him sheepishly that he had already thought of spending the money on his parents’ clothes. He had said this with such longing in his eyes that Wasim bhai was saddened to his core, in a rare gesture of generosity he handed Shubhu a box of assorted crackers. And with a wink he warned him “Don’t tell this to anyone, it won’t do good to my reputation”, Shubhu was left speechless for a moment but when he regained his senses he thanked Wasim bhai from the bottom of his heart.

Diwali for Shubhu this year was nothing like the years before, his parents had tears in their eyes when he presented them with the gifts, both hugged him lovingly. And in the night he burst his first firework ever, as the cracker took flight so did Shubhu’s countless dreams, and as the firework burst emitting thousands of little green stars, they lent a twinkle to Shubhu’s eyes, a twinkle that comes from seeing dreams come true.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trekking the Nilgiris: The Sholur Trail

The Sholur trail through the Nilgiris or the Blue Mountains is a breathtakingly scenic trail and more so during this season just after the monsoons. So when the opportunity to set out for the trek with Bangalore Mountaineering club(BMC) presents itself I lap it up with glee.

We, a bunch of 18 trekkers, start from Bangalore on a particularly rainy Friday night towards Masinagudi were our guides, Mohan and Swami join us, after stopping briefly for breakfast, we head towards the starting point of our trek. What is most noticeable as we reach the base is that the area is hemmed in by electric barbed wires to confine the Elephants to the forests. Vijay, who ventures to touch the wires thinking that they are active only during the night, is in for a rude shock. Our guides later tell us that the barbed wires are on, 24*7. After having distributed the tents, sleeping bags and foodstuff we start towards the peak, which according to our guides is 10 Kms from the base.

The initial stretch of the trek is pretty easy, the trees look fresh from the recent showers, small streams meander along the way and the biggest relief is that there are no leeches, you can walk at your own pace, drinking in the surroundings. As I start talking to my fellow trekker, Atish, I am in for a surprise, he turns out to be one of my best friend’s cousin, the world is small place, indeed.


A waterfall, albeit a man made one.

As we reach the first milestone after covering around 2 Kms from the base, our guide tells us that we have 18 more Kms to go; I sense that there is something seriuosly wrong with his calculation but then, I was never great at Maths, so don’t give it much of a thought. Having rested a while we again start walking, doing a variety of things on the way, plucking gooseberries and having them with water, marveling at the fact that the water tastes sweet after eating gooseberries, taking pictures of whatever subjects present themselves on the way, stopping to look at a strange insect or flower…

We take a short detour just before lunch to view a View, the place is a rock perched on the top of the hill; we climb the rock and see a picture perfect panorama, misty mountains in whichever direction you look. As we sit there for sometime it starts to drizzle we hurry towards our make shift dining place ‘The Bridge’, which is dilapidated, fully covered in algae, and trembles as the burlier among us walk on it. But it survives the human onslaught all right and we savor delicacies like rajma, dal fry, paneer butter masala, and obattu sitting on it.


"The Bridge": Our make-shift dining place.

The climb after the bridge is continuously steep and hence tiring, we keep stopping frequently after this, to our guide’s exasperation, who keeps prodding us to move every once in a while. JD, Rajesh and I stop at a rock to wait for others and a woodpecker comes and perches itself on the tree in front, the place is teeming with birds as we can hear a constant twittering from the forest. We move along as the others come and join us no longer asking the guide about the distance left, because we’ve understood that we’ll know that only after we reach the peak.


View from the trail as it snakes through the tea estates.

We reach a particular beautiful stretch now that reminds me of Ooty , tea estates everywhere as the trail snakes through them. We have reached Sholur and are now walking on pucca roads, after hitching a ride to a teashop to have some snacks, our guide tells us that the camping site is another 2 Km away. Its already getting dark Anjali, Ashwin, KP, Kiran and I don’t want to walk with our backpacks so we hire a jeep. Everyone dumps their luggage in the jeep and our guide lugs along with us; we plan to meet the others at a school in the village.


A villager at the tea-shop.

The jeep sways and swings as the road towards the school is in a pathetic condition. We finally see the light of the school, but the jeep refuses to go forward at a particularly narrow stretch of road. A haughty discussion ensues on what is to be done next, KP, who is the only one among us who can converse in Tamil , explains to the driver and our guide that we want to get as close to the school as possible so that we can meet the others. It takes some time for the message to sink in but finally we are on our way back to a place we had crossed earlier. We wait at the place for sometime before we see torchlights in the distance, we shout for JD and he replies, to everyone’s relief.

After relieving the driver we walk down towards the school, our campsite. Tents are pitched, a bonfire is lit and we again have a round of Ready To Eat(RTE) delicacies as dinner. It’s chilling cold as we snuggle inside our sleeping bags for a round of blinking sleep before we get up in the morning to a stunning view outside. Sunlight playing on the contours of the tea estates, the brilliant play of shadow and light makes the already beautiful hill scape breathtaking.


Beautiful view in the morning.

We start for a wildlife trail in the morning; we have fresh luscious carrots on the way for breakfast. We cross the fields and estates to reach a hill scape which is yet uncivilized, grasslands with patches of forest in between. We see a lone Gaur grazing in the distance, we manage to click a few pictures before it becomes aware of our presence and runs into the forest. We walk towards the peak, which looks very similar to the suicide point shown in Bollywood flicks, we see a circular rainbow formation in the valley below, before the valley and even we get covered in clouds.

We walk back to Sholur after spending sometime at the peak, where the hospitable villagers treat us to tea. On our way back to the base an Aunty from the village joins us. She is easily above fifty and is wearing sandals, but she sprints down the way to my surprise, I try to keep up with her for sometime, but then give up. We take a slightly different route on the way back to the base so that we get to soak in the waterfall. A small stream falling down a height of ten feet or so forms the waterfall, the water is chilling and liberating, after the bath we walk towards our vehicle with renewed life in our step. On our way back to Bangalore we spot Elephants, gaurs and a herd of deer eyes in Madumalai wildlife sanctuary.

The timeless game of Antakshari follows a heavy dinner at a roadside restaurant, I finally succumb to sleep, the body ache hasn’t made its presence felt yet and I am already dreaming about the next trip, next excursion, next adventure.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Chaudhvi ka Chand

Yesterday evening as I got down from my office bus, I had plans to take a short detour on my way back home, to take my daily dose of bhutta*. As I waited at a signal for the traffic to abate, my head automatically turned towards the sky. I knew that it was Sharad Poornima* (also known as Kojagari Poornima), Aai (my mom.) had been telling me that since morning, ‘Aaj chand dekh lena’. (See the moon today.) But even as I had expected the moon to be beautiful, nothing had prepared me for this, the moon was beautiful beyond my imagination; a lone inhabitant of the sky, traversing the firmament, flooding it with doodhiya roshni .(a wheatish glow)

I rushed back home totally forgetting about the bhutta (given my love for the corn, that’s something.) I couldn’t miss this. I reached for my camera, hoping and praying in my heart that the batteries would last long enough. As I reached the terrace, the moon had advanced a little in its journey and now had some stars for company, which made it glow even more brightly. (I later came to know that the moon yesterday was the brightest it would get in this whole century.) I pointed my camera to the moon, zoomed fully and went click click click.

I had hardly taken some five pictures when my camera started signaling that the batteries were low, disappointed a little, but still satisfied that at least I was able to take a few pics, I stopped clicking and started gazing at the moon.


According to the Hindu beliefs the rays of the moon on Sharad Poornima shower nectar (amrith) on earth, and as I stood on the terrace I could actually feel the cool rays washing over me. Back home Aai told me that she would keep Kheer (A sweet dish made of milk and rice.) in the open for sometime and then have it as prasad. The moon is very close to the earth on Sharad Poornima, and it is believed that the curative properties of the rays permeate the food kept in open. (Some people will find the idea silly, what about the city pollution, they would ask, but then we have street food don’t we?) I, being away from home could not afford such luxuries as kheer so I had some lays chips while gazing at the moon.

Come to think of it there is nothing about Sharad Poornima to get so excited about, the moon comes out everyday, and maybe its even more beautiful on other days, but its only on days like Sharad Poornima, that you especially take out time to appreciate the beauty which on normal days might have went unnoticed, and maybe this is the whole point of having all these rituals and festivals, to appreciate beauty which we usually fail to notice.

P.S. – Thanks Tanay for suggesting the title and the post. Though it was poornima yesterday, I felt that the moon was just a bit incomplete and so the title is apt too, the title means 'The moon on the fourteenth day that just needs one more day to become complete'.It is also how Gurudutt addresses Waheeda Rehman(one of my favorite actors) in one of the most romantic songs in Indian cinema in the movie by the same name.

*Sharad : Winter
*Poornima : Full-moon day, or night, should I say?
*Bhutta : Corn

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mirage/Oasis

Oasis:“Why do you fool people oh mirage, give them false hope?”
Mirage: “When travellers are on the brink of giving up, is a litte false hope unacceptable”
Oasis: “But many a traveller has discarded the path that leads to me, thinking that I was but a mirage.”
Mirage: “If the mere existence of a lie stops people from believing the truth, is it the fault of the lie?”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Back, I am!

I have been absconding from the blogging world for quite sometime now, around two months I believe. What kept me out of action was a sudden spurt of work and then having not written anything for quite sometime, the ‘Writer’s block’. But now I am back, and hopefully would post regularly.

And if you think that I was so busy past 2 months that I didn’t have my share of fun and adventure, you think wrong. Here is just a digest of some interesting things I did in the last 2 months, will post the details soon.

I scuba dived: A totally out-of-the-world experience, you become aware of a whole world that exists underwater of which, you feel you were oblivious till now, more about it coming soon.

I attended a photography workshop: Learned a lot at the photography workshop conducted by Anand Sharan at Bangalore School of Arts and Photography . And met a cool bunch of people all interested in photography, we have named ourseleves shuttercocoons.

Started a new group blog for my NGO group at Vidyanikethan: We all who meet at the Vidyanikethan wanted a common platform to share our ideas and experiences, so this blog .

My article got published on gonomad: Gonomad is an alternative travel resource center which encourages people to share their stories, you can check out my story about my trip to Ranganathittu, Somanthpur and Shivasamudra..

I know I must’ve done more interesting stuff, but only remember these things right now, will post about anything else I have missed out as and when I remember it. Would like to conclude this post on a philosophical note

When the sun shines bright in the morning, don’t we forget that it had rained real hard the last night?

I know I haven’t been checking your blogs for quite sometime now, but will make up for it soon.
Will keep posting!

P.S.: I lost my cell also people, my number remains the same, so just message me your numbers

Friday, August 17, 2007

… And then, the teardrop cried

The teardrop was talking excitedly to his brethren, the spirit of adventure burning brilliantly in his heart. “I have decided to go on seeking the unknown; the World, strewn with surprises, mysteries, adventures beckons me, this typical life is surely not for me. We only get a lifetime, which I believe is inequitable given the fact that is there is so much on this earth, yet undiscovered, but nevertheless I would make the most of my time I have, I am starting now.”

As the teardrop announced this, the fellow tears looked at him in alarm, they had feared this for quite sometime now, but still the finality with which he had announced his decision had taken them by surprise. An elderly teardrop tried to dissuade him “My son, you know not what monstrous creatures abound in this world, beasts that can swallow anything in a gulp, beasts that can breathe fire and reduce anything to ash, beasts that are huge…” but he was cut short “These are all nothing but figments of our imagination and I am no coward to be intimidated by the unseen, I am going for sure.”

The elderly teardrop looked hurt but did not snap back. Having said this as he made to go, already feeling guilty at having talked so rudely, he was stopped by the pleading voice of his friend, a teardrop he had grown up with and with whom he had spent many salad days. “Won’t you miss us all? Don’t you enjoy it out here? We will miss you.” He blurted out with difficulty. His heart went out to his friend but there was nothing he could do to alleviate his pain. “Of course I will miss you! I might even come back from time to time. But I don’t know where life would take me and so won’t give you false hope. But the memories of you all would never leave my heart, you will always remain with me and I with you.” He said hoarsely as he hugged his friend, voice barely coming out of his throat, because even he was saddened by the thought that he might never see his friends again.

He thought he had inured himself for this moment, but he had not imagined that it would be so difficult. As he started to go, waving to his brethren with a smile on his face, ready to take the plunge. All the fears, which had stopped him for so long, which he thought he had long since overcome, came back to him in a whoosh. The happy expression on his face belied the turmoil within. “You are a dunce, an absolute dunce. Why would anyone leave this peaceful life for a life of utter uncertainty? You would be completely alone in the big bad world, completely alone! It is not late even now, your brethren would be more than happy if you decide to stay back, think!” said a voice from within. But then, another voice, which was more assuring, spoke “This is what you have always wanted to do, to explore, to discover…you would always live with an incompleteness if you don’t do this now. And don’t be scared, you would make friends on the way, you would not be alone.”

Pacified a little, he slipped out of the eye of the sailor he was contained in. And as he fell he could hear the increasing thunder of the sea beneath him, see its mighty waves crashing on the ship’s hull. Scared to death he closed his eyes, submitting to his fate, nothing could be done now, nothing! Then he felt himself being gripped in a tight embrace, “Welcome, Welcome, my brother! What brings you here? And why are you so out of color, tiny fella?” inquired the sea with concern. With his eyes barely open, the teardrop looked around, he was perfectly safe, and the sea didn’t look even a wee bit menacing from close. A warm feeling of relief swept over him, he had been right after all, the world is not all that bad as it made to be, he hugged the sea (who rolled his eyes in amusement at this.) even more tightly now, and then out of relief and happiness, the teardrop cried.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wanderlust


The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

From 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost.

P.S.- The pic was taken during the Brahmagiri trek, our guest house was in the middle of nowhere with woods overlooking it. And the pic was not taken early in the morning though it looks so, Brahmagiri was misty all round the day.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A trip to Ranganathittu, Somnathpur and Shivasamudram

Last weekend I had gone on a one-day tour with my colleagues, Neeti and Amod. The tour was organized by KSTDC and covered three places near Mysore; Ranganathittu, Somnathpur and Shivasamudram. Here is a detailed description.

Ranganathittu bird sanctuary

The tour started off with Ranganathittu, a small bird sanctuary around 10 Kms from Mysore.The sanctuary has a lake with a group of islets, which are home to many exotic bird species and more so during the monsoon. I was initially skeptical about the boat ride, as our guide had informed us that the place is infested with muggers or the Indian marsh crocodile. But the sight of hundreds of birds flocking on the islets and the thought of watching them from even close made me change my mind instantly.

The boat we hired didn’t look like it could carry ten people but it did, and to think that this guy steers it everyday in a croc infested lake, he sure is brave!


The ride offered many such picturesque views, and the birds flying majestically and their कलरव made it even more beautiful.


A couple of painted storks, but their private moment didn’t last for long as they were joined by more of their kind after I clicked this pic.


Actually sleeping or pretending to sleep? Crocs are very good at pretense I am told; remember the phrase ‘crocodile tears’.


A cattle egret, our guide was right after all, he said it was an egret but I thought otherwise.

The boat ride lasted for around half an hour; the other birds spotted were white ibises, cormorants, open billed storks and little egrets. The sanctuary also has a viewing tower but the birds are best viewed from the boat ride.

Keshava temple, Somanathpura

After stopping for lunch at the ‘Ideal restaurant’ in Mysore, we headed for Somnathpura temple, which is around 40 kms from Mysore. The Keshava temple at Somanathpura was built in the 13th century and is almost completely well preserved. It is an excellent example of the unique Hoysala architecture also seen in the Belur-Halebid temples. It’s a dead temple though, as the deities are defaced and so no religious rituals are performed, but that in no way diminishes the splendor of the monument.


The infinite, bound.

The temple is star shaped a characteristic of Hoysala architecture and has three sancta, the idols of Keshava, Janardhana and Venugopala adorning each sanctum. The Keshava idol seen in the pic is not the original; the original idol it seems is gracing a British museum.


Notice the attention given to detail; the elaborately carved canopy under which the deity stands, each and every jewel chiseled flawlessly, the eyes and the curve of the eyelashes. It’s almost unbelievable that the idol has survived such an immense span of time so perfectly well.


The pillar is one among many inside the temple, each circle chiseled so perfectly and intricately, as if they were turned on a lathe. The lace like feel is because of chlorite the stone used to build the temple.


Bejeweled elephants adorn the platform on which the temple stands. The platform is broad allowing the visitors to perform pradakshina of the temple. The temple is enclosed within a courtyard, with steps leading to the temple and to the chambers along the wall.


Motifs on the outer wall to make sure that the pradakshina in no way gets boring.

I will also remember the temple for the audacious crows that reside here, one crow had the cheek to snatch a biscuit right from my hand! I actually felt its beak and feathers! I promptly threw the biscuit packet I was holding lest I would be attacked again, and the crow happily flew away with the packet!

Shivasamudram Waterfalls (aka Shivanasamudram, bluff, shimsha)

Our last stop was Shivasamudram; it’s the name given collectively to the twin falls Gaganchukki and Bharachukki formed by the Cauvery River. They are second highest waterfalls in India. The two falls lie at a distance of 1 Km from each other; we could only manage to visit the fiercer of the two, Gaganachukki. Shivasamudram is also famous for the first hydro station in Asia; it was built in 1902 but is closed to visitors.

Gosh! So much water! Notice the tiny specks on the rocks on the left side; people look even smaller than insects. We could only witness the waterfall from the viewing gallery , you can go close to the waterfalls from the Dargaah side. But there is no way you can enter the waters without coming out alive, the force of the current is tremendous, as the water strikes the rock the dense mist itself rises to several feet.


This is the other stretch of Gaganchukki, which looks rather calm and has comparatively lesser volume of water. But look at the height from which the water tumbles, it’s easily above 300 feet.

Just uploaded the video of the waterfall on youtube, watch it here.(listen to the gurgling and splashing waters!)

We started for Bangalore at around six, the bus journey was nothing short of a roller coaster ride due to the fact that we had got the last seats .The oldies playing from Neeti’s and Amod’s cell were intermittently impinged by shouts of ouchs. We were lucky that though it had been raining constantly for last few days, we didn’t meet heavy rains on the day of our tour else the trip would have been marred completely.

Monsoons is a good time to see waterfalls, they’re in full splendor because of the rains, you will miss out on the fun of playing in water, but the spectacular sight you witness will more than make up for it. There are many waterfalls around Bangalore and I have decided to make the most of my time by visiting as many I can during monsoons. Will keep you all updated, till then!

Happy Traveling!

Ranganathittu, Somnathpur and Shivasamudram Album

P.S.- The names of birds are as told by our guide(or Khevaiyya) and some of the historical info about the temple and Hoysala architecture is googled.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Misty eyed

The right eye was winking rapidly eagerly drinking in the beautiful vistas of the hillside. “Wow! This is great! What a welcome relief from the daily bore?” it said to its neighbor. The left eye, who was barely able to keep itself open, yawned.“Hmph, It’s like any other hillside, I would be rather sleeping peacefully back home.”

“But the mountains veiled by mist look heavenly. It looks more like a painting in water color crafted by a divine hand, hey lefty have a look man!” Said the right eye. The mention of painting seemed to have aroused the left eye (lefty had an eye for paintings) it goggled around excitedly but then settled down in disappointment. “Are you wearing the contacts? Because I see a pretty normal sight, a few clouds shrouding the distant hill yes, but no mist covering the hill in front of us.”

“Of course I have the contacts on, I ain’t of much use without them, and you know that very well. But this is strange, isn’t it, we don’t disagree normally.” Said the right eye. “There could only be two possible explanations, either I am wrong or you are wrong, simple.” Offered the left eye. “Truth has many faces my friend and all the faces are well…true, it’s just a matter of perspective, you see. And anyways I can’t be wrong lefty, I am the ‘right ’ eye, remember.” added the right eye in an attempt to joke. But the left eye was in no mood “Of course you are always right, righty, you are becoming some kind of a philosopher too, I should say. I would have lent an ear to your philosophies, but as I am the left eye, I would appreciate if I would be left alone, do you get that?” saying this the left eye settled for the droopy gaze, which was its favorite.

The mote that was the cause of all this trouble (It was the mote, which had made the right eye all watery, and caused it to believe that the mountains were veiled in mist.) had enjoyed the conversation so far. But after the eyes had stopped talking, it was getting bored and so it silently left the right eye alongwith a teardrop. And as far as the eyes are concerned, both of them were so miffed after that day that to this very date, they don’t see each other in the eye.

P.S. This post was an attempt to play with words and phrases, so it’s fine if you are not able to make head or tale out of it. (Ya, I know it’s tail not tale.) I know my posts are getting weirder by the day, but you would’ve to bear with them for some more time coz’ I still have a lot of weird story ideas bubbling inside me waiting to come out.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A dream whispered to another...

A man was dreaming about flowers, there were hordes of them in the valley, roses, tulips, dahlia, lily… but it was the wild flowers, which he found the most exotic, flowers whose names he did not know, flowers like he had never seen before. They formed such a mélange of color, an intoxicating mix; it was hard to take eyes off them, and as all the flowers beamed at him he felt as if an enchantress had captivated him. He sits down amidst them, his heart so full of all the good things in the world.

His reverie is broken when he hears a rumble getting louder by the instant. Engulfed in fear he looks up to see a large mass of snow sliding down the slope of the mountain towards him. “Snow, Wow! I can ski!” he thinks. And the next moment he is accoutered in his skiing equipments rushing down the slopes, feeling the chill of the wind on his face, right down to his spine.

“That was very rude of you Mister, he was so happy with me till you budged in.” whispered the dream of flowers to the dream of snow. “Oh Hello! We are dreams here, manifestation of this man’s desires; I can’t push and shove like living creatures even when I so want to now. I exist because he dreamed of me, and who are you to blame me?” replied the dream of snow gruffly. “Shh! Keep your voice low, will you, or he will wake up, I was just saying he so liked being with me, he was having the time of his life, I bet” said the dream of flowers dreamily.

“What do you think he felt while he was with me, he was whooping with joy if you hadn’t noticed. And mind you, people whoop with joy when they are doing something exciting like skiing, not boring things like gazing at a bunch of lame flowers.” Retorted the dream of snow. “How dare you call the flowers lame? They were the most attractive ones you would ever get to see, and he was a gazing at a valley of flowers not a bunch, get your brains checked, Mister. ” replied the dream of flowers angrily.

So they fought on and on, no one ready to concede that the other was right, each retorting to the other with renewed force and anger, till the din they created was too much for the man to bear and he woke up. “These neighbors, can’t even let me sleep in peace, why in the world are they fighting at such ungodly hours? It is just six in the morning, damn it.” He gazes out of his window towards his neighbor’s bedroom, disgustingly. The beautiful roses blooming in his neighbor’s garden catch his eyes and he suddenly remembers having seen the valley of flowers. “Wow! What a place that was, such pretty flowers? Was that heaven disguising as a dream?” The man went on merrily, thinking and raving about the valley of flowers.

“See, didn’t I tell you, didn’t I tell you that he was having the time of his life with me, he still remembers.” whispered the dream of flowers triumphantly. But the dream of snow was nowhere to be seen; it had long since been forgotten, lost in the vastness of the man's mind. The dream of flowers was saddened to the core for the loss of its mate, it had no one with whom it could argue with. It realized for the first time that it was merely a dream, and evanescence was its second nature. “Alas!” it said to no one in particular and then the dream of flowers too withered away.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Reading “Harry Potter and the deathly hallows”! (No spoilers)

Gosh! The wait for days was finally over and it was definitely worth it, the 6th book had left me a bit unhappy, so many questions left unanswered,“How can Dumbledore die without a purpose?”, “Why did Dumbledore trust Snape blindly?”, “Who is RAB?”…

I still remember brooding and discussing over these questions for days at end after reading the 6th part, the one-year wait for the 7th part seemed so long. And towards the last few days the excitement had mounted to enormous proportions, I was browsing through the numerous Harry Potter fan sites, albeit unconsciously, between work. Discovered a very interesting site on Harry Potter etymology , and almost completely finished reading it. (Came to know that the Erised in “Mirror of Erised” is ‘desire’ spelt backwards.)

But the 7th part definitely made up for it, its JKR’s genius truly that I was left satisfied by the end but still was a tad sad that the book had ended. Hope she keeps writing, her brilliance does not need a Harry Potter to shine through.

Thank goodness that the book got released on a weekend, else I would’ve probably bunked office to read it, as the book definitely is unputdownable, and on Saturday I literally did nothing else but read it. I even managed to read the last few chapters twice, will definitely read the book again. People who had read the fake HP-7 (fanfiction, which is also readable), which did the rounds sometime back, will realize the obvious difference in the writing styles; the original one is definitely a class apart.

I won’t spoil the fun for anyone who hasn’t read the book, but people grab it fast, before you come to know about it in bits and pieces. Nothing like the suspense and drama of seeing the plot unfold, of the different bits of information fitting in to complete the elusive picture. This one has all the ingredients that have made the Harry Potter books so loveable till now. And having read all the previous parts, this one was also like taking a walk down the memory lane; maybe even JKR became nostalgic while writing it.

An interesting observation, as I went in the morning to collect the book from the bookstore just fifteen minutes after it opened, I was told that 15% of the people, who had booked it, have taken it already. Now that’s something! A phenomenon which at least I was witnessing for the first time! Hype will not make people wake up so early in the morning for a book if it has got no substance. And that too a book which has nothing to do with the real world, but fans of Harry Potter will tell you that it is not so, you can draw parallels between the magical and the muggle world and that’s where lies the beauty of Harry Potter, seeing magic in simple things in life.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Coincidence

On the roadside a cat is standing, waiting for a man to cross the road. A crow sitting on the tree is observing this with interest; he asks the cat, “Why don’t you cross the road, my friend, what is stopping you? ”. The cat looks up to the crow and says, “I pass this road often and I cross this man sometimes, every time I cross the road before him he stops and waits for someone else to cross the road.”

“They consider it to be a bad omen, to cross the road after a cat.” said the crow. “Yes, I know that, I don’t want to comment on the verity of the belief, but I also don’t want to trouble him by making him wait.” replies the cat. The crow praises the cat on his thoughtfulness; the cat thanks him and starts crossing the road as the man has already crossed the road.

A dog suddenly appears from nowhere, the crow caws to warn the cat, but the cat having sensed danger has already broken into a run. Unable to contain his excitement the crow also follows them. The dog is gaining distance fast but the cat doesn’t give in so easily. The crow cheers for his feline friend from above; the sight of human settlement is welcomed by feelings of relief from both.

The cat leaps over the compound wall of a house and the dog, angry and disappointed, is left barking outside. Panting for breath on the parapet of the house, the cat is joined by the crow. “That was a close escape my friend, be careful next time.” Advises the crow. “Thanks for the concern old fella, I will keep my eyes open next time.”

“But don’t you think it was a bad omen for you, crossing the road after the man?” says the crow. “In today’s advanced age how can you even think of such a thing? If I had been cautious today I wouldn’t have been chased. And anyways this happening just after we talked about bad omens is just a coincidence.” Replied the cat crossly. “Yes, a coincidence it is, my friend” said the crow, but in his heart he was still not fully convinced and wished his friend to not cross the road after the man.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Souls Talk

Here is the conversation that took place between two souls, they have just lost their lives and don’t know what awaits them. An invisible barrier confines them in the place they are; bored of waiting they start telepathing.

A: Hi, So what do you think? What is going to happen next?
B (sighs): Salvation! That elusive end, seems so far.
A (approvingly): Same here have learnt a few lessons from my past life, but still a long way to go.
B: Which form? I was a human in my last birth, a male by the name Ismail; I especially liked my face, not handsome in the conventional sense but distinctly charming. I wish I could have lived longer with that face, I wish we could carry pics, would have shown it to you. (Smiling at his own imagination.)
A: (laughing) You have to let go of such futilities buddy that was just a mask. We will be what we are, just a blob of light.
B: I would have nodded my head if I had one. (Both laugh at this joke.) So what about you, human in last birth?
A: Yeah, a male as you, was named Sharan, got killed in the communal violence in Ahmedabed recently. But I guess I deserved it, I was very hotheaded that day.
B:Oh! You were there too; we would’ve met then! I too got killed there, what a waste but, now when I come to think of it.
A: Let’s do this, I would try picturing my face in past life, you too do the same. Probably, then we would recall seeing each other.
B: Great! Hope it works!

An awkward sadness engulfs them as they both find themselves staring at their murderer; they feel an intense hatred towards each other, and as they are reading each other’s thoughts a hatred towards their own selves. They are the chaser and the chased at the same time the killer and the killed, they feel the agony of getting stabbed, the anguish of gulping their last breaths, the helplessness on seeing their precious lives fading, not once but twice now. The unbearable pain leaves them both tongue-tied (Not literally, but you know what I mean) they don’t want to feel the hatred and pain any more and let go of their thoughts, they both stop thinking. Silence pervades the scene for sometime before A breaks it

A: I am sorry mate; I don’t even remember why I killed you, mob mentality I guess, I might’ve even enjoyed killing you, but how it pains me now!
B: I am sorry too, was captivated by an extreme rage couldn’t even think at that time, but that is no justification for what I did, it’s just a lesson learnt.
A: Yeah, lesson learnt it is, no coincidence this, that we are here together, strange are the ways of God.
B: Stranger even are the ways of humans.

Suddenly the barrier disappears and they have to stop their conversation midway as they both start flying to their respective destinations.

B: Nice meeting you friend! Hope to see you soon.
A: Same Here, Good Luck. (Gives B a thumbs-up, which B returns.)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Memories

It was my sis’ birthday on 4th; the day she was born was also my first day at school. The only memory I have of that day is of my dad coming to the school to take me to the hospital, I got a half-day on the first day itself. I don’t remember whether or not I cried before going to school that day, but I guess I must have. I don’t even remember going to the hospital or how my sister looked the day she was born. Sometimes when in novels a writer describes the feelings of the elder sibling when the younger one is born, I so much wish to know what my feelings were then, how I reacted looking at my sis, holding her for the first time. I so much wish that I could write a retrieve command and lo! I have the file of that memory staring at me. (tch tch, what has the s/w industry done to me?!)

These days it’s so easy for parents to chronicle their kid’s childhood, but cameras were not so common those days and going to the studio was an occasional affair. So the earliest pictures of my sis were taken when she would have been around six months old (or even older, I am not sure.). There is one pic of ours together, she sitting on a chair smiling toothlessly and me standing in attention position and looking at the camera angrily. Don’t remember whether I was actually angry at that time or in the pic I came out that way.

I always wonder how we remember and forget things; there are some things of seemingly no importance, which stick to us all our lives. Like say, I still have this picture in my mind, a memory of the time when I would’ve been 4-5 years old.

I am standing on the stairs of my old house, there is someone else sitting and asking me a question about Rajiv Gandhi. I remember neither the question nor who asked it, but I remember being asked a question, just that. This is what I call a forgotten memory.

Sometimes I feel if I hadn’t gone to school and college my memories would be totally disorganized. The time frame of many things I remember is associated with what class I was in then. So I remember that we had gone to Puri after 5th std. and Ooty after 8th,K2H2 was released when I was in 9th std. and K3G in 12th etc etc. Lets see what methods my mind devises to remember the time frame of things now that I am done with college also. Maybe I’ve found some sort of an organizer in this blog, maybe after 10 years I will scan my archives to read the same very post and think, “Ok, I thought of this when I had just finished an year at work.”

Memories are just one aspect of the human mind that amuses me; I also grapple with other aspects of the inexhaustible mystery at times. Will post about the insights and observations as and when I get any, till then happy discovering!

Message from beyond

I am waiting for a bus in a sleepy town, I long for sleep after a hard day; the semi-sleeper seats of the bus seem tantalizing. But damn, the bus is late! In an effort to keep my eyes open, I look around, the bus stop is in such a sorry state; the floor is uniformly layered with dust, the wall is covered with soot at places, I am sure that the rickety bench I sit on will collapse if one more person attempted to sit on it. Is desh ka kuch nahi hoga, I think!(desh as in country, not to be mistaken with my blogroll friend.)

While I am looking for another object to direct my contempt at, a map on one of the walls catches my eye. It is the map of the district I am in and is barely visible in the filth that covers it. Ha! What use is the map, when you can’t even see it? Such a waste of effort! But then I see something else; written in bold letters below the map is this nugget of wisdom ‘Have patience’. It is an inappropriate thing to write below the map, but it is there all the same.

As soon as I read it, I feel it is written for me, as if the person who wrote this knew that at some point a girl would need this advice. Sometimes when we fail to listen to our own voice, God has to resort to such measures to communicate with us.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

I complete one year in Bangalore and at job today. As always time has galloped all the way and as always, I smile when I look back.
Last year was marked by many firsts(not necessarily in order)

My first job (read my first salary :D)
My first trek
My first flight (I am not counting the one I made as a baby.)
My first stay in a tent
My first blog
My first digi cam
My first lappie
My first guitar
And there would be many more if I sit down to list them all.

I dabbled a lot last year: salsa, yoga, guitar, photography, and blogging. Given a choice I would always prefer to be a jack-of-all-trades rather than being a master of one or let me make it even better, jack-of-all-trades and master of one. :D
Today being the start of another year I hope I keep dabbling and discovering. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Guten Tag - 8 random facts/habits

So, I was tagged by Tanay to share 8 random facts/habits about myself. I have come up with some idiosyncrasies here. (Btw, idiosyncrasy is one of my favorite words.) I always marvel at how blogs allow you to peep into the life of a person whom you don’t even know. Have a peek into mine:

I pile up books: I love reading, but since past one year I have started buying books like never before. The heap of unread books in my room seems to increase by the day. I have resolved in vain to finish all the old books before buying new ones. But every time I see a good book, I am tempted and end up buying it, hoping to finish it sometime. My latest acquisitions being "The Divine Comedy- Hell" by Dante and "Journey to the center of the earth" by Jules Verne.

Chilli paneer, groundnuts and guavas (No, its not the latest novel I am reading.): Chilli paneer was a fad during the college days; people were actually fed up coz I used to order nothing else at eat-outs. (Still have it at times for ole’ times sake.) Guavas with namak aur mirch and boiled groundnuts, just love them; I go to Jayanagar at times just to have both of these. As far as bhutta is concerned its in a different league altogether.

I fast on Thursdays: The trend started when I was in 12th std. , there was this particular month called Margashisha, when we had to fast on Thursdays without the usual fast food (I mean permissible food during a fast.) and survive just on fruits. My sis and me actually used to long for fasts to eat (ya, it’s an oxymoron) coz fast food (usal, sabudana vada etc) is irresistible. But after fasting on fruits I liked the idea of having control over the tummy for a day and started fasting ever since. (Ya, I know, I am weird)

I can’t hear to a person properly without my specs or contacts: Now this is funny, haven’t come across anyone with the same quirk. But I donno, my auditory cognition abilities go for a toss if I cannot properly see the person speaking. One of the possible explanations that I have come up with, is that, maybe the lip-movements of the person talking contribute a lot to my cognition ability

I can watch any movie: For years we had no cable connection at home and I used to watch any movie that DD one showed, sometimes even regional movies. I have even watched movies in tele-serial format; our national channel does come up with unusual ideas.

I sleep like a cat: Probably because I was a cat in one of my births (ya, I do believe in rebirths.) I can squeeze and snuggle up anywhere and still manage to sleep soundly. My friends often marvel at this trait of mine, being thin does have its benefits, you see.

I believe in self-healing: I try to avoid going to doctors as much I can, barring the occasional visits for eye-checkup. I try to find ways to feel better when I am sick and more or less it always works for me.

I like train journeys: That I love to travel is obvious through my posts, but the mode of transport I love the most is the train, none other holds the same charm for me. The hustle-bustle, the hawkers, the chattering people, the vistas passing by; I never get bored in a train. And how soundly I sleep in a train; the chug chug is like a lullaby to me.

Gosh! I am done! The baton now passes to Debanshu and Steve the two people in my blogroll who are not already in the tag-loop. The rules are as follows folks:

1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
4. If you fail to do this within eight hours, you will not reach Third Series or attain your most precious goals for at least two more lifetimes


I have already broken the 3rd rule, but then, rules are made to be broken.

Happy tagging!
Guten tag!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Unleech yourself- How to battle whilst leeches assault you?

After ample experience with the leeches during the Brahmagiri trek. (I have seen a leech masquerading as a mole on a girl’s face, slept in a guest house where leeches kept falling from the rooftop, removed leeches with panache with my bare hands. This is definitely going to add to my resume.) I have come up with some leech gyaan that I hope will be useful to anyone planning to embark upon a monsoon trek in the wilderness. So here it is:

Don’t under-estimate your enemy; load yourself with leech protection like chunna, salt, lemon, tobacco stick etc (All this to basically alleviate the aftermath). Wear long socks (preferably two, leech socks if you have them) and military shoes if you can. Tuck your pants inside the socks, its better to be prepared than being sorry. Daub your shoes with chunna and salt, but never put these on your bare feet, you would end up with painful blisters. And don’t be afraid as you start, leeches can’t kill you!


All tucked in!

As always ‘It is all in the mind’, if you think that leeches are disgusting creatures and have no business of sucking your blood. (I do agree with you whole-heartedly.) Sorry mate, the battle is half lost already, this attitude won’t take you far. If the idea of touching those slimy creatures seems revolting, forget the trek.

Playing with the enemy!

The ideal frame of mind amidst leeches is one of nonchalance. You maybe loaded with all sorts of leech repellant but you would not find time to use this protection, believe me. You stop to remove one leech from your shoes and lo! You end up with modest helpings of 10-15 more! (Endearing, isn’t it?!) So keep moving don’t stop ever so frequently, even if you loathe the sight of leeches on your shoes, ignore it with all your willpower. If you find a rock that looks leech free, you are lucky, get on it and put the battery of leech-protection to use.

Keep kicking and stamping your shoes, try to remove leeches on one foot by administering a kick with your other foot (ouch!). This method worked the best for me(The dreadful condition of the shoes after this exercise is a different story altogether) but don’t lose your balance in this attempt. And do I need to tell you what happens after you fall in an area brimming with leeches?

And finally its over, or you think it is! You have safely crossed the leech-ridden area, the trek is over, and now is the time for status-check, harden your heart for the gory sight that awaits you. Remove your shoes and socks; take care to remove the socks carefully because leeches don’t like to be forced when they are sucking blood. (You have to be considerate to your enemy, you see.) Don’t panic, the battle is over, you just need to polish off the leeches now. The leech protection will come handy now, put some salt, chunna etc on the leeches kissing your bare feet and derive some perverse pleasure watching them drop off. It’s always safe to check your pants and shirt to be sure that no leeches are sneaking in, and if you do find any, you know what to do by now.

Here are some innovative ways to unleech discovered during the Brahmagiri trek:

Wear socks that haven’t been washed for a month; the effectiveness of this method altogether depends on how appallingly your socks stink and how bravely your fellow trekkers bear the stink.

Be thin like me, the leeches will scatter away at the very sight of you in search of more gifted prey. (Proof: I ended up with a measly four leech bites from the trek.)

Disclaimer: It seemed to work during our trek, but I do not claim to have any idea about the whims and fancies of the adorable creature. May be from tomorrow it starts assaulting extra stinky and thin people with extra vengeance, who knows?!

And if nothing seems to work just lament, curse the person who forced you into this nightmare. And if no one forced you into this trek, you came on your own volition, simple; accept the fact that you have always been foolish. Feel the peace that sinks in after having done this.

P.S.- If I have scared the wits out of you, I am sorry, my sense of humor is awful at times. It’s not as bad as it looks though; I ended up enjoying the trek immensely in spite of the leeches. And All’s well that ends well, isn’t it?.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An obituary

I sought their company almost every time; be it a leisurely walk to nowhere, the daily jaunt to the office, the occasional strenuous treks, and my shopping escapades… But alas! No more! I have been deprived of one of my most reliable companion; my unfaltering shoes have finally given up.

They had faced ruthless treatment at my hands(or feet should I say?) even before, but without a whimper. But a trek to a national park infested with leeches as the heavens poured down was too much even for my reliable pair. And mind you, they didn’t go down without a fight!

The leeches, those wonderfully slimy creatures, so eager to suck my blood! Un aware, they were, of my tenacious shoes! Even though leeches from all possible directions assailed my shoes, they just let a precious few in. But in the process they ended up being; Soaked in muck disguising every sign of the faint silver and pink color that once was theirs, kicked and stamped heartlessly at all plausible leech-free zones, dabbed with all possible leech protection like chunna, salt etc.

I do feel guilty that I treated them so inhumanly, but what could I have done?! The sight of leeches had made my mind numb and when I came to my senses, it was too late. At the very first sight of my battered shoes I knew that they’d never be the same again. My heart pains to recall the pretty sight they were when I bought them a year back. They are unrecognizable by now, just a faint reminder of what once was.

I have no heart to wash them now, in half a mind to burn them! But lets see, maybe I’ll attempt to resuscitate them just once, I have given up hope though. I know that my shoes are dead by now, but their sole continues to live.

P.S. - Will post on leech theory and the trek in some days, I am still in bereavement.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

एक गिलहरी



Squirrels are hard to click, thats something I have realised. This was the only one I managed to capture in LalBagh last weekend, that too with much effort. The effort was worth it though,I like the pic a lot; the squirrel has come out real cute and innocent. Wanted to get a close up, but the squirrel disappeared before I could zoom in with the powerful 12 X optical zoom of my cam. (yeah right, I am boasting :D )

P.S. - Bear with my photography experiments for some more time people, I haven't gotten over my new cam still. :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A bouquet from Kodaikanal

I had been to Kodaikanal last weekend, and with the new Canon S3 IS in my hands I clicked away to glory. I captured everything and anything that caught my fancy, and should say that having a 1 GB memory card definitely helped me indulge. The hotel we stayed in had some lovely flowers in full blossom, and I captured most of them. :)
Here is a bouquet, straight from Kodai, filmi ishtyle.


I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky..


Ruthe ho kyun, maan jao na..


Smile, an everlasting smile...


Parde main rehne do, Parda na uthao..


Gore rang pe itna gumaan kar, gora rang to pal main dhal jayega...


Tu pyar hai kisi aur ka, tujhe chahta koi aur hai..


Rahe na rahe hum , meheka karenge, banke kali...

P.S. - The flowers in the first picture are dried NeelaKurinji flowers from which the Nilgiris derive its name.They flower only once in 12 years with the last blossom being in year 2006 and the next in 2018!

Monday, June 4, 2007

The taste of righteousness

She is very happy to be assigned an important task, to buy a bottle of shampoo for her mother. She is given a crisp hundred rupee note for this with instructions about the brand of shampoo, the size, the price etc. along with the warning to be cautious with the money. She wants a chocolate she says, but her mother gently scolds her because she has been having too many chocolates lately, resulting in tooth decay.

Disappointed and angry, she starts for the shop in the neighborhood, thinking…
What difference it would’ve made if I were allowed a chocolate just this once? Ok fine, I am getting cavities and the doctor has asked me not to have chocolates, but I’ve also started brushing my teeth twice a day. None of my friends’ parents behave this way; I am not a kid after all…

She is engrossed in the chain of thoughts, when she realizes with a start that she is already at the shop. As usual, the shop is crowded; she somehow manages to slip inside and is treated to the most tempting sight ever! Rows of containers filled choc-a-bloc with confectioneries; toffees, candies, lollipops, chocolates, gems and what not?! The shop has it all. She always craved for the sweets in the shop and her parents usually succumbed to her wishes. But not today, the same very sweets being out of her reach today, seem yummier.

Cursing her fate, she tries to grab the attention of the shopkeeper but her voice is lost in the hustle-bustle of the shop. But then something else catches her eye, lying astray is a chocolate that obviously must’ve left the busy hands of the shopkeeper as he tended to so many customers. She almost instantly reaches for the chocolate, but stops short to check if the shopkeeper or the customers are looking at her. She is relieved to see that no one is paying attention to her. But still she is scared; she feels someone’s eyes on her back and looks back again, only to find no one.

Now is the time, she thinks, and hurriedly chalks out her plan of action.
I will take the chocolate when no one is looking, put it in my pockets and then ask for the shampoo. After taking the shampoo, on the way back I’ll finish the chocolate before reaching home.

How clever, she thinks. She is ready grab the chocolate but is gripped by the thought of shame if she is caught. What will everyone think of her? And even if she escapes everyone else’s eyes what if her mother comes to know? She always felt that her mother has a knack to detect anything fishy. She almost panics as she imagines the dejected look on her mother’s face. She loves her mother dearly; even though she is angry with her today she cannot bear to disgrace her in such a manner. But one look at the chocolate makes her go weak again.

She thinks about it again and decides that it’s not worth the trouble after all. She can always ask her mother for a chocolate after some days and till then she’ll wait. Yes she loves chocolates but she loves her mother even more. Having resolved this issue, all the scary thoughts disappear; she suddenly has this very good feeling, which in her later years comes to be associated with every right decision she takes.

She stands there smiling, till the shopkeeper enquires her about the goods she wants. She buys the shampoo and as she walks back home the images of her eating the chocolate flood her mind. But this time she chucks the images with ease, because sometime back she has had her first taste of something even better, righteousness.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A corny story

This post is dedicated to something that has given me immense pleasure all these years, the corn or the bhutta, as it is called lovingly. The story started in my first year of college, as the first rains indicated the onset of monsoons, we were treated to an unusual sight. Hordes of bhuttawalas were filed neatly on the road overlooking our college cricket ground. Evidently they occupied the same very place every year and found patrons from all around Nagpur, not to mention the NIT crowd. The once peaceful roadside very soon became the center of frenzied activity as the bhuttawalas vied for the attention of the passers by.

When I had my first roasted bhutta from there I was hooked, it was not like I hadn’t eaten roasted bhutta before but it had never tasted like this. From then, a visit to the bhuttawalas after college became a ritual of sorts for me. Anyone from my batch who wanted to have a bhutta found company in me.

What goes into making a mouth-watering bhutta? The process for me starts right from selecting the right bhutta; it should neither be very tender nor very tough. The tough ones (yellow kernels are a give away) give your teeth a tough time and the tender ones (cream kernels) leave you feeling unsatisfied. A right balance is needed, yin and yang as they say. When the very important task of selecting the right bhutta is done, it is put over burning coals; mind you, a bhutta roasted over gas can’t even come close to the yumminess of the ones roasted over coal.

The bhuttewale bhaiyya keeps the fire astir as he fans continuously; he also keeps turning the corn to roast it evenly from all sides, the sound of bursting kernels is music to my ears. After being roasted perfectly, he deftly applies lime and salt to it and then coats it with chilly chutney to make it all the more tempting. The best is yet to come though; he finally smears it with butter that melts at the very touch of the garam garam bhutta! Aah... nothing like it!! The butter dissolves the lime, salt and chutney, and it all seeps into the niches between the kernels producing a uniformly heavenly texture and taste. The bestest part is when I dig my teeth into it; I relish every kernel every bite of it. And every time I finish, I end up wanting even more.

All the years in my college I always waited for the rainy season, those two months when I could enjoy this delicacy. No other fad has sustained with me for so long and it’s still going strong. As I came to Bangalore to start working, I was elated at the sight of the bhuttawala in front of my office. Here you get corn all round the year, unlike Nagpur, but they don’t make it like they did there, still, I like it here too. I treat myself to a bhutta everyday as I walk back from my office in the evening, a repeat of the ritual I followed in the college.

In the age of fast food, the humble corn still wins hands-down for me; it is healthy, yummy and filling. For a person like me, who doesn’t like to fuss much over food, its just the thing. I hope the association continues, and I keep deriving pleasure from eating bhutta for years to come! :D

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An incident of human wickedness

Many people wouldn't find this incident wicked, but I did. And maybe I do sound ridiculous, but I am posting this anyways.

This happened when I was going to Bangalore from Nagpur after Diwali last year. I hadn’t got a confirmed direct ticket, so had to come via Chennai. There was a family in my bogey from Nagpur, parents and a cute kid, Ria. I had become quite friendly with the kid during the journey; we kept playing all the time. So when we had a stop at the Chennai station I tagged along with the family. This is where the incident happened.

We were waiting at the station; three men were sitting around a pillar, discussing something. Ria went close to them as one of the men started spitting on the pillar. When she saw this, she said very sweetly ‘Uncle, Please don’t spit.’ I was amazed at the sense of righteousness of the young girl. I thought that the man would oblige to the lil’ girl’s request, but it was not to be. The man spit again, this time not because he wanted to, but because he had been asked not to do so. And after this he smiled wickedly, Ria seeing this came back, disappointed and hurt.

How could he derive pleasure by purposely hurting a kid whom he didn’t even know? I was forced to think that if given free rein would he go to any extent for this sort of pleasure. Is it the fear punishment that keeps him bounded now, and if somehow he gets over it what would he do? Say for instance there is a riot and hooligans are having a field day with no police control whatsoever, would he go berserk too? Was he a criminal in the making, or was he already one? Just a thought... I am no psychologist after all.

Maybe I was overreacting and what I saw was just the primal instinct present in all of us ‘to not submit’, something which we call ego, in this incident which meant obeying a child. But maybe I was right and the person I saw was actually wicked, I can only surmise. We see incidents like this happen around us, sometimes we react sometimes we don't even give it a thought. Maybe we have reconciled to evil, which these days is ubiquitous.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My stint as a fresher

We had a cultural fest(Kaos) going on in the company and I acted as a fresher in a short video for the fest.The video is a take on the life of a fresher as s/he joins OSSI (thats the name of my company) , I guess everyone who works for a Software firm will more or less identify with it.

Shooting the video was fun, with all of us getting all excited even as we shot it. :D I realized that acting is no mean feat when we took some 2-3 hours just to shoot this two min video. God knows how people have the patience to act in a whole movie, but then they get paid exorbitantly for it. Anyways , I immensely enjoyed acting in it,I had initially uploaded the video but came to know that my company refrains me from doing so, so removed it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Vidyanikethan-Sponsor a child project



I have been volunteering for a NGO named Vidyanikethan for 5-6 months now.I accompany a group of volunteers on weekends and we try to help the NGO in documentation and stuff like that, essentially making ourselves useful in whatever small ways we can.

Sponsor a child project was thought of because of the observation that many underprivileged students drop off the school mid-way.We wanted to keep the child's education free from any hassles of money for atleast one year. Initially it was meant only for girls but eventually we opened it for guys as well. The field workers of Vidyanikethan collected data of more than 100 chidren in need of sponsors, you can view the list here. You can sponsor a child single-handedly or in a group of six people, it just takes Rs. 400 a month for twelve months. Check out the frequently asked questions here. If you stay in Bangalore and are intereseted mail to suruchi.dumpawar@gmail.com asap.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ignorance is bliss

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” but then is more of it not a killjoy?

Is it better if to be unaware of the harsh realities of life and be carefree and ignorant like children? We all go through experiences as we grow up and certainly not all of them are good. We see so much unhappiness in this world that we are all touched by it in some or the other way. And ignorance meaning ‘to not know’ is possible only if we shut ourselves from the world completely. But we can’t shut ourselves from the world completely, can we?

Ignorance in this phrase can mean something else too, ‘to choose to ignore’. There are so many things that can work against us in our lives, things over which we have no control whatsoever. Is it not futile to get perturbed by them? True it is human to get upset, but for how long? Is it not the best at times to just forget and ignore things? Cowardice you say, denying the truth, but I say it is accepting the truth and choosing to get over it. Don’t we all want to be happy? But still we don’t understand that happiness is by choice and the choice is for us to make. It is difficult at times but then who said that being happy was an easy task?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bangalore Mountaineering Club

Are you a travel enthusiast? Do you like exploring new places? Does a touch of nature rejuvenate you? If the answer to all these questions is yes then ‘Bangalore Mountaineering Club’ is the right place for you.

These days it is really difficult to find a group of people interested in trips and treks. People prefer to laze around on the weekend after a hectic week. If you organize an outing the initial hurdle is to pull people in. Bangalore Mountaineering club makes this job easy for you.
Bangalore Mountaineering club is a non-profit organization started by a group of travel buffs. It organizes events like camping, backpacking, paragliding, white-water rafting, rock climbing, scuba diving, skiing etc. These events are usually on the weekends, which make them even more doable. I am a part of this club, which now has 1600 members and is still growing. They’ve had some really exciting events like scuba diving and paragliding in the recent past. To join, you just have to register at their site and you’ll be regularly updated about the events through mail. So don’t wait any longer, join now.

Happy traveling! :)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Exploring Chhattisgarh- Bastar

I had always regretted the fact that having lived in Chhattisgarh since my childhood I never really explored it. As I visited my hometown Raipur (the capital of Chhattisgarh) this time I had resolved to go on a short trip to Bastar. Bastar had many things to offer: Chitrakote waterfalls, Kutumsar Caves, Tirathgarh waterfalls, Danteshwari temple. I was mainly tempted by the Chitrakote waterfalls, which are the largest in India in terms of water volume. Many people dissuaded me for the trip, as summer is not the best season to travel in Chhattisgarh, the heat is sweltering but paying no heed to them me & my family decided to go.

There are very few travel agencies offering standard tour packages for Bastar you have to decide on your itinerary. Jagdalpur is the district headquarters of the Bastar district and is well connected by road from Raipur. All the above-mentioned tourist spots are approachable from Jagdalpur by road and it is a sensible decision to base at Jagdalpur if you are on a trip to Bastar. Jagdalpur is around 250 Kms from Raipur and by bus it is an overnight journey, the buses being quite frequent.

We reached Jagdalpur in the morining and put-up in a hotel close to the bus-stand. As I mentioned earlier all the tourist attractions are approachable by road from Jagdalpur but there are no tourist buses to these places, you have to hire a vehicle on your own. We hired a tata sumo from the taxi stand and set off for our first destination the Kutumsar caves.

Kutumsar caves

Kutumsar Caves are 38 Kms from Jagdalpur and are located in the Kanger valley national park. As we entered the National park a forest guard accompanied us, as the caves cannot be entered unguided. We didn’t see any wildlife just cows and goats in the park; I guess you have to go on a separate trail for wildlife sightings. But I was more than happy to be on a road surrounded by trees on both sides; even on a summer afternoon it was a pleasant journey. As we reached the Kutumsar caves our driver said ‘Don’t be afraid’, good advice and was coming at the right time too.

The forest guard had a solar lamp with him and he gave another lamp to us, which my dad, mom and sis handle taking turns, I was busily clicking pictures of anything and everything. The entrance to the caves was the scariest part, the stairs being circuitous and slippery. As we entered the caves we could feel the decline in temperatures as the last rays of sun left us. Spooky and eerie are the words that best describe the caves; our guide lead us to nowhere. He showed us the Stalagmites and Stalactites, which I remember from my geography books just because I always used to get confused between them. The wonderful circuitous patterns formed on the rocks modern art handcrafted by water. Rocks, which look so much like idols, our guide told us that they too are the works of water. We walked for around 330 meters dodging pools of water (which breed blind fish), unsuspecting niches and reached the end of the permissible area of the caves. The cave meanders to another kilometer and half but that area is restricted because of the low oxygen levels. Short of breath (because of walking or because of the decline in oxygen level, I guess both), we sat down there for some time. I remembered the many Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries set in caves, which were a part of my childhood; in Kutumsar I had at least lived a part of the adventure.

Kailasha Gufa around 2 Kms from Kutumsar caves is similar and we didn’t visit it.

Tirathgarh waterfalls

The Tirathgarh waterfall on the Kanger River is also located in the Kanger Valley National park. We could hear the waterfall even as we walked down stairs to its base and we caught glimpses of it through the trees. As we reached the base I couldn't stop admiring the waterfall, which though not in its full glory was still a sight to behold. I clicked pictures of my parents and sis with the waterfall as the background. I was tempted to enter the puddle of water formed by the waterfall but stoppd short, not confident enough of my swimming skills. We reached the point where water from the fall enters the puddle, there is just enough place for a person to stand. I held to the rock precariously and stood there for a long time, feeling the pearl drops falling on my face. The view from there was breathtaking, the Sun behind the hill lights up every drop, every gush of water.

Chitrakote waterfalls

This was our last stop, and we all felt rejuvenated after the yummy lunch at the Dhaba on the way back from Tirathgarh falls. Chitrakote a horse-shoe shaped waterfall formed by the Indravati river is called the Niagara of India and it certainly deserves the title, the best time to visit it is after Monsoons but even in summer it had a reasonable volume of water. Two thick strands of water fall down the steep height, we watch as a fisherman rowed his boat right to the spot where water falls with full force. (I so much wish that I were in his place.)

Much to our parents' chagrins my sis and me wanting a piece of the adventure wanted to go close to the water. We reached the place were the water from the river gushes down but is stranded by a rock before falling down. We were literally on the top of the waterfall now; I dipped my feet in the water as it rushed with full force. The place where we sit would have been submerged in water totally if it were Monsoons, I imagine the fall in its full splendor during the rainy season and tell myself that there always is a next time.

The Chhattisgarh tourism has log huts overlooking the waterfall, one can even arrange for a performance of tribal dance there.

Chhattisgarh certainly has potential to become a tourist destination if promoted in the right way. The fact that there were no bus tours shows that we have a long way to go; unless there are a reasonable number of tourists it would be foolish to start bus services but unless tourism is organized there will be very few tourists. It is a vicious circle of sorts and we have to get out of it.

P.S. - Would have posted the pics but the memory card got corrupted. Will load them if I have any luck retrieving them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Therapeutic effects of shopping

Most (exceptions are always there, of course!) women will vouch for it and most (exceptions of course!) guys will shrug their shoulders off in bafflement. Being a woman myself I am no exception, I love to shop and I feel great after a good round of shopping.

What is it that makes women shop till they drop? Does it mean that women are materialistic creatures and crave for material possessions? The point is not this, both men & women shop, but why do most men loath the idea of it and women derive pleasure from it. Is it because of the clichéd ‘Men are from Mars and women from Venus’ theory? Its possible, but I guess it’s more because of the fact how differently men and women are made to perceive shopping from their childhood. Shopping being the butt of many jokes, men from the beginning consider it as something sissy and emasculating. Anyways I am not going to discuss the disparities between the two sexes, who anyways are opposite.

I would like to possibly explain why women love it; obviously everyone likes the idea of getting something good, beautiful & useful for oneself. But apart from this there are some other reasons, which I feel make shopping a fun-activity and a kind of therapy for women.

Shopping for women is like a put-outer; when women shop they just shut off the other things in their life including their worries, tensions and pressures. It’s a woman’s way of stress busting. Women will go shopping if they are feeling put down and after the escapade end up feeling much better

Shopping for women is an indulgence; it’s like treating themselves, and who in the world does not like treats? Women will go shopping, if they are feeling especially good and at the end of it feel even better. (So you see it works both ways ;))

Shopping for women is like a trail; It’s a treasure hunt of sorts, they go in search for something and in the process ending up buying a lot more than they had initially thought of, on impulse. (The hypermarkets bank on this and put tempting products on display.) The idea of exploring a shopping mall or a street is exciting for women. (I know I sound ridiculous!)

Shopping for women is a way of bonding with their friends; A gang of friends on a shopping escapade, women just love the idea, its one of their ways of having fun, I remember doing this a lot in the hostel, usually it used to be an all gals affair. Needless to mention that even if we were not shopping for ourselves and just accompanying people, we used to have a great time.

Shopping for women is an ego booster; the fact that they make decisions and so many of them at one time gives them an immense ego-boost. Maybe this does not apply for women who do a fair share of decision-making in their lives. But for the less privileged ones, it certainly makes them feel that they are in control of at least something in their lives.

I have cited enough reasons for now, its time for some therapy ;)