Category Archives: Rambles and Rants

The Greats at NSW Art Gallery – One of my favourites/Part 1

National Gallery of New South Wales always has so many exhibitions going on all year along. But none had the lure for me, as much as this one did.

Last November, NSW Art Gallery put on show the famous paintings from National Galleries of Scotland, and titled it as “The Greats”. And very aptly named the exhibition was too! 70 outstanding works of world renowned painters, covering 400 years of art from Renaissance to Impressionism, with names like Boticelli, Rembrandt, Leonardo, Raphael, Monet, Gauguin,  Vermeer, John Sargent, Raeburn, John Constable, etc popping out of the audio guide.

Now I am no art connoisseur, very much a common man (woman) when it comes to describing or critiquing art. My knowledge of drawing and colours can be put on paper smaller than a chit of paper. My favourite period of art were the impressionism times. I heard Monet was on display and I do love Monet paintings (who doesn’t ?). Anyway, all I knew was- there were some amazing paintings on display and I had to see them.   This was a rare opportunity for me to see, contemplate and feel awed of the images on display. And awed I was.

After spending a whole day at the exhibition, I found my eyes being captured by some very distinctive paintings. I decided to try to put in words what I felt when I saw these paintings. And so- here goes, an art idiot’s perspective.

 

  1. Rising Mists – Peter Graham (1836-1921) created this one around 1887. Scotland must truly be a place full of magic and mystery if one goes by the paintings drawn by this British (Scots) artist. This painting seems to celebrate the essence of what I think are called Scottish Highlands in all their glory.

Rising Mists-Peter Graham

The image here is not the actual painting but a print, thus far more clear than the painting I had sat looking at for about two hours. At first glance, the eyes seem to focus on the white mist rising in the air, thus justifying the name given to it. And then, an eye wanders and starts to widen with awe at the details. Both eyes drink in the image. One must sit down in comfort and take their time to gaze their fill at the image and focus better. My eyes saw this:

Once you start covering the painting inch by inch, there is a lot to discover. The whole painting seems to talk; with meanings direct and implied. I now see the grassy mountain from which the mist rises. A shard of light falls, as is I think, intended by the painter, to brighten up patches of grass and rocks, giving the impression that the mist is actually rising out of those patches.

A little below, the river flows fast. I close my eyes and imagine this torrent. I can almost hear it if I open my eyes now and look at it; bouncing a bit, as if dancing. When it comes near the rocks, it dashes against them, and splashes herself noisily, as if laughing. Further ahead, the noisy torrent calms down and flows smoothly over. It put an analogy in my head. Think of a young woman; flirting and giggling with impertinence, as she meets several men (rocks) during the course of her life. As seasons pass by, she becomes mature and calm, not responding to every admirer that comes her way.

Where the river flows fast and fierce, the waters are brown and muddied; looking dark and menacing as you look closer. As it calms down, flowing away and far from the rocks, it seems to given an illusion of becoming white- or should I say pure?

My eyes now stray to the left of the river, where the river bank has been defined. Mr Graham’s hand seems to have been in a mood, for sharp edges and pointy rocks define the cliff. A part of it seems to inch into the river, like giving it a hand to come up. (Laughs)

Coming closer to the painting, my eyes focus on the wild Highland cattle, slap bang in the middle of the painting. Brown and black, and more of it behind them. A patch of grass glistens, and one imagines how much the cattle wants to eat it all. The first of the cattle certainly seem to be eyeing it.

Getting up and moving two steps to the left, and more of the painting became clear. Now I see a sort of trail that the cattle might have followed. How astute of the painter to capture it exactly as it is! The mark of a true landscape artist in my eyes!

Far away, on the top left corner of the image, dark clouds have gathered, and the mist is no more white; but a smoky grey. In fact now that I look at it, I find colours emphasising the landscape are not as white as the mist, not even the mist really. It is eerie in actuality, perhaps the impression that Mr Graham wanted to give, which I only now understand. The painting is steeped in dark colours, red and black and only sometimes green. Looking at the painting, I see the middle now and I find glimpses of white? giving an impression of snow on the mountains far, far away.

There! That is what I penned down when I sat by the painting. What do you think of the painting though? Don’t forget to leave your comments! The next part will talk of John Constable’s “The Vale of Dedham”.

 

 

The Six Questions Tag

After about two months of being tagged on a blog post by a blogger friend, today I am indulging myself in a bit of reveal by giving out answers. 

One beauty product you would recommend to your girlfriends

I was not very good at being faithful to one brand of bath soap.  And one day, I quit using it altogether! 

You see, my skin is high maintenance. Oily sometimes, at times dry and sometimes really dry! Some products made the skin prone to acne, some just didn’t work. I thought it was something to do with the moisturiser I used, and trust me, I tried many!

While browsing one day around ten years ago, I stumbled upon Body Shop’s Tea Tree range of products. Most of them are alright I suppose, but the one that stuck to my life was the Tea Tree Body Wash. Since then, it has been a part of my daily routine. My skin stays clear and hydrated and I feel fresh all day long. It is the perfect regime for clear skin; skin free of acne, even on the most humid days when my skin becomes really oily. What more could a woman want? 

body shop body wash tea tree

Three books everyone must read

In the course of life, one reads and then absorbs some, then reads more. I have done the same. There are so many books! Such lovely, wonderful, mystical, thrilling, sad, happy, philosophical books that to keep a count of it is impossible. To choose any three, even more so. I like classics a lot, but when it comes to choosing any three that I think others should read, I have in my mind these books. 

The Seven O’Clock Tales- Enid Blyton    This is the one book I have retained from my childhood. It sits on my book shelf, waiting for the next generation to be taken to the magic kingdom.

Childhood is the best time of life. What a wonderful time it was, when all I had to do was snuggle under the covers and be transported into a magical land, where pixies and fairies resided, where Edward, the pink teddy bear could speak, rage and even comfort little Elsie, where little brownies were worried they wouldn’t reach the party on time, where the naughty shoemaker made skippetty shoes for a gnome, and so on. Once I grew up, my love of Enid Blyton books continued of course, with series like Adventurous Four, Famous Five, Secret Seven, and more. I don’t remember names of the children in those books any more, but I still remember stories from Seven O’ Clock Tales. 

Gitanjali- Rabindranath Tagore  One of my teachers had once said, “Poems are the means through which one human being can glimpse into the soul of another; where outpourings of emotions can become the mirror to one’s heart. ” She was so right! 

Gitanjali is a collection of 103 poems, written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Originally written in Bengali, there were translated in English first in 1912.  I had a small pocket book as a young woman, where I had written my favourite poems from the collection. I found them deeply spiritual. Any time I was dejected, disappointed or even bored, I would take it out and read one of the poems. Sometimes written so simply, sometimes in complex ways, they talk so beautifully – giving comfort and at times, even strength. These days, I have a very distinctive and detailed edition of Gitanjali, with original Bengali lyrics in facsimile. The effect of the poems I find, has not worn off. Here is one I always had in my pocket book. It is a prayer from the heart, never to be forgotten. 

When the heart is hard and parched up, come upon me with a shower of mercy

When grace is lost from life, come with a burst of song

When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides 

shutting me out from beyond, come to me, my lord of silence, with thy peace and rest. 

When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner, 

break open the door, my king, and come with the ceremony of a king.

When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust O thou holy one,

thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder. 

 

Under the Tuscan Sun- Frances Mayes  I read a lot of romance, and I do mean lots! Yet I have not come across any romance novel/book that matches the romance of the place as much as this one does. Honestly speaking, my love for the Italy, specially for Tuscany budded from this particular book.

This book has been written with love and passion for the spectacular Tuscan countryside. Celebrating, what Frances calls as a ‘voluptuousness of Italian life’, this book can be read and re-read again- maybe in the bus, maybe when you’re picnicking on a lazy summer day. It will bring the scent of fresh cut herbs, ripening olives and grapes on the trees, prosciutto and garlic bread (I feel my nose flaring for scents every time I read chapters in the book describing the countryside or the cooking). You’ll agree with me if you’ve read it, I know you will! 

Favourite On-line Shopping Site

There was a time when I used to do a lot of on-line shopping in India. I bought some very good stuff through on-line shopping out there. But things have changed, and the shopping sites are not as simple or as qualitative as they were before. Australia especially doesn’t do a lot of on-line shopping. If you do, your products will come either from the U.S. or the U.K or some such country. So why bother paying extra money for shipping? Not for me. I like browsing through shop windows, and shopping leisurely. 

Favourite Phone App

 I suck at using phone apps! I like using the phone to make calls, or at best to message people or check one of the social media websites. But that’s the extent of it. 

One dish you are really good at making and its recipe

I am not a great cook, but I do like dabbling in the kitchen when the mood takes me. The one thing that is a regular demand in my house is my Cinnamon Tea Cake. It is very easy to cook and doesn’t really need much time or preparing. 

What you need:

2 cups self-raising flour

4 Tbsp. custard powder

2 cups sugar

1 cup milk

4 eggs

Vanilla essence

200 g. soft butter

Cinnamon sugar

How to make it: 

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat them together for 3-4 minutes on medium setting.

Prepare baking pan. Grease base top with baking paper, then add two more layers of baking paper, making sure each layer has been greased.

Spread mixture evenly into baking pan.

Bake at 170 degrees C for one hour. 

While hot, spread the cake liberally with butter

Sprinkle cinnamon sugar (can use a whole jar of cinnamon sugar) and decorate it with vanilla cream or strawberries if you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for updates?

And so here goes another week where I’ve not been able to write updates on Two Worlds Apart and Love Conquers. You might as well wonder what the heck is she upto. 😀

It’s not that I don’t wish to write or that inspiration well has gone dry. Circumstances simply have put a full stop to my writing since a couple of weeks. Family visits, as delightful as they are leave you with a lot of work and a feeling of exhaustion.

What with that, and summer heat, irritation as well as the addition of burns in my right hand, my writing has become too limited and thus, publishing the updates for another week seems an improbability. For those who read my regular reviews on Myeduniya.com for the show “Saraswatichandra”, you may have noticed I haven’t posted any since the last one week. You can thank burns on my fingers for that. 😦

Someone recently told me I may have been jinxed by someone who envies me. Is that even possible? Personally, I have a hard time believing in all that mumbo jumbo, but now– who knows? Stranger things have been known to happen. And there are several strange things going on in my life.

In short, at the moment though I wish to write, I can only write a page at a time, which severely impairs my ability to post a chapter quickly. For all those darling readers who’re waiting for an update, please hold on to your patience, and God willing, things will start rolling soon.

Cheers!

“Evil serves a purpose.” – Amish Tripathi in conversation with Shekhar Kapur, at Qyuki.

in conversation

After spending a hectic Saturday evening and Sunday morning, I sat down quietly this evening, with cup of Espresso and a plate of home-baked apple pie, thinking about the event from yesterday afternoon.

A few days back, I  had received an E-mail from Qyuki, an organisation that encourages creative talent to be, and gives it a voice. They invited me to be a part of their chosen audience that would get to listen to the conversation between Shekhar Kapur and Amish Tripathi.

For those who are unfamiliar with QYUKI, it is based in Bangalore, and pioneered by two brilliant minds from the entertainment industry. QYUKI’s pioneers are Music Director A.R. Rehman and just as famous Film Director; Shekhar Kapur. Mr. Kapur has made movies like Elizabeth, that had been nominated for 7 Academy Awards and Bandit Queen. A particular favourite of mine from his directions is Hindi film, “Masoom”, while A.R. Rehman is known for his music in “Slumdog Millionaire”.

It is always a pleasure to hear two top notch brains talk, since there’s almost always witty, intelligent conversation involved.  And that’s exactly how I felt when I heard them talk. Amish is one of my favourite writers from modern times. (For those who haven’t read his books, and are interested, look for his Shiva trilogy-  “The Immortals of Meluha”, “The Secret of the Nagas” & his latest “The Oath of the Vayuputras”.)  I’ve read and re-read it and crave for more. The back and forth witty retorts timed by well-eyed observations actually had me smiling and even laughing at times.

Amish had been accompanied by his charming wife and son. It was obvious that they were the centre of his world and he of theirs. There was so many questions teeming in my mind, when I started to listen to what he had to say. I was only able to ask one, but here’s what he had to say to the questions he was asked by his fans as well as Shekhar Kapur.

Amish called himself a literary pop star when he was asked if he liked being labelled as a best-selling author from India or a literary genius. He elaborated this by saying that writing was a process that involved not just his head, but a lot of other heads too. He admitted to suffering from writer’s temperament and he showed his gratitude towards his family, wife, publisher, & his editor for being patient with him.

For him, writing is not just about making money although the practical side of him wouldn’t ignore it either. He was making quite a bit of it as an investment banker in his life, before he made writing his full time profession. Though he spoke about how he wished to let the story flow onto pages as a non-ending saga, he did confess that at the end of the day, creativity must meet practicality. It is the publisher and editor who must earn from his writing, just as he earns the accolades from his fans. Thus, he has to be disciplined and focused with his work.

For his Shiva trilogy, he informed the audience that he had so much to write on it; that his creativity flowed through like a constant stream of thoughts and dialogues from his characters. At the end of the day, it was only about 25% of his writing that was published as a book.

He dismissed the idea of Shiva trilogy becoming a quadrilogy at any time, but did express hope that he may be able to give voice to some of the lovely stories of the characters inside the book. I so hope he writes in details about Brahaspati & Tara, Bhadra and Krittika as well as more about Panchwati and Maika. He didn’t elaborate much on the content of his third book; “The Oath of the Vayuputras”, since there were many who’d not read it yet. But he satisfied my craving to know more by giving a little inside information & saying,  he had a wonderful time thinking about all those lovely stories behind my favourite characters.

On being asked about the fundamental philosophy behind the trilogy, he spoke about realism of philosophy and the question one asks to one self, “What or Who am I?” He informed the audience that he worked on similar philosophy for himself and adapted what he learnt from it. For the book, his philosophy was “Evil serves a purpose”. It is through evil than greater good emerges while God stands in as a witness to it.

When asked about how he turned from an atheist into a believer, he replied that he had simply re-discovered his belief in religion, in God. In his words, he comes from a family of ‘Gyaan yogis” (ascetics who thirst for knowledge of all sorts). His belief gradually came back and thus, started the journey towards re-discovering faith.

To aspiring writers, he gently recommended believing in their own work and not losing hope if they can’t find a publisher. Technology these days, as he rightly said, gives a writer the freedom to post his book online to make himself visible.

One of the fans asked him on how he felt about his books in the wake of religious intolerance that presides in the country today. He smiled at the question and replied about his own belief in his concept, regardless of the consequence. His reply showed his hope in his countrymen, when he said that there may be extremists- religious and secular, but he believed his countrymen were mostly liberal in thoughts and thus, he is not concerned with religious intolerance factor. Those who wish to read, will read it. Those who don’t, can follow their own philosophy.

All in all, I feel that his replies were not stinted, not staged. Despite the rush, and despite his busy schedule, he did take out time to sign books. Good luck with your next adventure Amish! I look forward to reading more of you some time soon.

*photo credit “Qyuki”

Help is not given to those who are not local, says Karnataka villager

Wise men say, it’s best to know the defects of the life you’re living, slowly & gradually, so that you can take in the experiences and learn from them, to avoid future mistakes.  But I say, there are some experiences that don’t teach you much. They only leave you with grave thoughts and despair. I say this because I went through one such experience last Saturday.

Last Saturday, we were on our way to Coorg, Karnataka. My husband surprised me with this trip on Friday when he asked me to pack. It was our second wedding anniversary on Monday, eighteenth February. He wanted to take me into the place I love the most- mountains. He’d reserved a room- a home stay that are famous in Coorg, to give one a taste of the State’s culture, family lifestyle and food. It would have been a wonderful experience- HAD we been able to reach there.

We left the house at 5 AM, to avoid traffic on the way. While the roads may be bad, the route was really scenic. By 10:00 AM, we were only 80 kilometres away from Coorg. The roads in the State of Karnataka are in pitiable state, but that never bothered my husband. He’s a capable driver and knows how to avoid idiots who drive without any regard for traffic rules. He missed out on counting criminal stupidity this time.

We were on Highway 88, driving at the dictated speed, when the car driver ahead of us braked suddenly. My husband let out a muffled curse, trying to avert the car and pulled the brakes, but we were too late. Our car banged into the car ahead of us, jarring our senses and shocking our system.

My husband quickly regained his wits, while I was still getting over the moment and checked us both for injuries. Miraculously, we were unharmed. Getting out of the car, he met the other car’s driver, a man into his adulthood. He was a hired driver, carrying an old sick lady and another woman, who started shouting and ranting, blaming us. She was a local, on her way to Coorg with her mother. In the meanwhile, I got out and tried to find out how the sick woman was.  I held her for a few moments while she got over her crying bout and consoled her.  After all, she was old and sick, in shock and would need consoling more than I do, I told myself.

Soon a crowd gathered and being locals, everyone stuck together. The woman from the other car, while shouting on my husband incited the crowd and blamed my husband entirely instead of her own driver.

We come from the North of India, where Hindi and English are two major languages spoken by all. We’d been told by many of our known acquaintances that in the South of India, not many speak Hindi and despite knowing, prefer not to speak English.  All this while, I’d thought this information to be load of rubbish. Why would anyone be unfriendly or rude? Why would they not help? After all, India is all about hospitality! I now realised they were right. We were in trouble. We did not know their local language called Kannada. We spoke to them in English and Hindi, asking them to help us out. Instead we found ourselves being cornered, with people coming upon us, demanding money and threatening physical harm.

Their car’s back bumper was broken and the  backside of the car only dented, while our car was much worse.  At least they knew their car was in a working condition.  The front bonnet of our car was completely damaged, right side lights broken,  and we had no idea what kind of internal damages the car had suffered. We weren’t sure if our car would start since when we opened the car bonnet, we saw lots of spilled liquid. We asked the locals to help but they were too busy in talking to the other woman in their local language. The other car’s driver knew Hindi, but he absolutely refused to help us find out about the damage to our car, and he said that in Hindi!!!

My husband called up Ford road service. I must say, had it been for another car, we may have suffered severe physical damage, but the Ford “Figo” has proved its worth to me by this incident. The impact of the accident had been absorbed by the car’s solid front. After all the parts were checked by my husband as per the directions given by the service guy,  he told us we were really lucky and would be able to drive the car back to Bangalore and hand it in at the Ford service and repair station.

While the old sick lady sat in the car, calm and composed now, her daughter called her husband on the phone and started crying. Rush of adrenalin was fierce in my veins. While they started gathering up on my husband, I asked them to leave him alone. (I fear I had been having hysterics.) I told the other woman to gather her wits, she was not the only injured party here, we were much worse and all due to the fault of her driver. She was giving a fine example of how people in Karnataka are- unhelpful to strangers and absolutely insensitive. I repeatedly asked the others to leave us alone in English and Hindi; after all it was the business of two parties, what had they to do with it?

But would they listen? NOPE. Instead, they started coming close, talking and making threatening gestures. I will not deny it. I had started becoming scared. India is not a safe place any more. The memory of New Delhi victim was fresh in my mind, when back in December the entire world had learned of the shameful episode of gang-rape, abuse and finally the death of a woman who had protested against men, trying to protect herself. My husband asked me to go sit in the car while he settled the issue with them. With reluctance, I got in.

A guy from the crowd emerged while my husband spoke to the other woman’s husband over the phone. He spoke English & Hindi. There as no police station for many kilometres.  (My husband later explained that he would not have preferred police any way since every one knows how corrupt police is. He pacifies me by saying that we got away lightly by only paying 30,000. Had police been involved, we’d have had to pay the police their share too!! ) He also very bluntly declared that the crowd would remain upon his head. My husband looked at him incredulously as he said, since the other car held two helpless women, all votes were on their side, regardless of whose fault it may have been. He asked my husband to pay for damages for the other car.

The woman had called her local friends who had come in other cars. Apparently they had been deciding upon the sum they could demand from us, for after a while, she asserted the same demand, repeated by her husband on the phone. My husband proposed to give them our insurance details and take the car into the nearest service station, about 180 kilometres away. He said he’d pay if they left us alone, once the damages were calculated. But his offer was rejected, with the other party demanding instant cash of 50,000 Indian rupees!!

Our mind boggled. Obviously, we weren’t carrying such cash, even if we wanted to pay them and get ourselves away from the threatening public. The man who spoke English said, he knew of an ATM 10 kilometres away. Finally, my husband gave in to their demand, negotiated and paid them 30,000 Indian rupees. We had the foresight to ask them to sign a receipt that said, we had paid them in full for the damages and that they wouldn’t ask for anything more and would let us be on our way unharmed. After all, who knew what they’d be up to the next?

We came back to Bangalore and handed in our car at the service station. Thankfully insurance would cover the cost and we may be without transport for two weeks, but I’ve learned my lesson. Do not expect any help from locals in Karnataka. I had heard that it was one of the most corrupt States of India, but this experience has just proved it. I am still very upset and perhaps not able to think selflessly. All I know is that, we could have died out there, and no one would’ve helped us and saying THAT would be no exaggeration.

The more I look at things happening around me, the more I despair for my motherland. India is no more a secular country. India has been divided by its own people into small States and even smaller frame of mind. Now we have become the unhelpful lot. There’s nothing in the world that can make me sadder than this knowledge that my country has literally gone to the dogs.

Some scenic images from before the accident and after the incident itself (two pics on the left).The man in Purple shirt is my husband, trying to keep everyone away, while I sat in the car and clicked pics with shaking hands.P1040354P1040364P1040367P1040371

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Happy Navratri!

t is that time of the year again when I’m bogged down with too much housework. The season of festivals is here and complete cleaning of the house is needed, sparkling before Diwali.

The first in line of festivals is NAVRATRI or plainly translated NINE NIGHTS. These are nine nights and days of prayers where we worship Goddess Durga and her 9 divine forms. In my side of the country, it is celebrated with great pomp and fare including playing “GARBA AND DANDIYA RAAS”; a form of folk dance from Gujarat. Of course, living in the South of India means no Garba playing for me. 😦 But I guess.. I can always dance in my own house and I do too!  😀

This festival is also celebrated with great dedication by the North of India; where my husband is from. I’ve dressed up the Goddess and decorated the temple part of my house. :)Here’s a pic of how the Goddess looks right now all decked up. These 9 days are also days of fasting where I eat one piece of fruit every day after prayers. Surprisingly, I feel great and not hungry at all! Must be the darling Goddess granting me some of her survival blessings. ;)

I wish you all a very Happy Navratri and pray that the good goddess grants patience, courage and wisdom to overcome the adversities of life along with granting you health and happiness.

Next in line of festivals is going to be “KARVA CHAUTH” and then Diwali of course. :)     Karva Chauth is all about women praying for the long life of her husband, fasting the entire day. Not even a drop of water goes past your lips on this day until the moon rises and you break your fast. This will be my second Karva Chauth. I had a hell of a time finding women to pray along with the last year since I was new to the entire event. This time, thankfully I have company of women who are well acknowledged in what needs to be done during the puja. 🙂 I’m sure it’ll be fun.

Attention All Readers!

Hi there! 🙂

I’ve been busy the last two weeks moving house and now I shall be gone for another two weeks to my folks’ place. I will try to post Chapter 21D and Chapter 22 from there. In case I can’t please bear with me until 20th August and then I’ll be back for good. 😉

Enjoy the fun and don’t forget to read the new FF “Love Conquers” (not Arshi but something refreshing) on the other blog:  romanceandstories (http://amateurstorywriter.wordpress.com/) Do tell me how you like it when you’ve read it. Thanks! Enjoy!

Love stories-failure and success..

While watching “Devon Ke Dev Mahadev” a show that comes on Life OK, I felt touched by the way they show Lord Shiva grieving for his human lover and wife Sati. It is heart rending to say the least when the Lord says, Shakti; the only one I ever have been in love with, who had taken a human form simply to be with me is now dead. What use am I alive? Lord Shiva wanders around like a man dying internally of grief. His world is shattered already while the other Gods are uncomfortable and uneasy, waiting for the Universe to shatter.

It made me realize that this was the first ever unsuccessful love story, where in a way when Sati died, the husband Shiva died with her. Ascetic Lord Shiva lived on but the husband, the lover in him died while grieving for his beloved Sati. He turned away from the world and came back again only when Shakti was born under a different guise- Parvati.

She was re-born at King Himalaya’s abode and didn’t see Lord Shiva until she became of age. When she first saw him, she decided that he would be the only one she would choose as her husband. With grim determination, she set out to please ascetic and “away from the world” Lord Shiva. Shiva had no interest in coming back to the world where love, grief and other feelings were waiting. Parvati slowly and steadily wins his respect, affection and then finally love. So Goddess Parvati got her wish. She loved him, worshipped him, cajoled him and finally became one with him, to be forever.

What was the difference then between both the love stories? It is something that I had always pondered upon and today- all of a sudden, I had an epiphany. Was it because the first love- love between Sati and Shiva had one ingredient that till today is considered taboo among lovers? Do you know what? I do now. J It was ego and self-restraint. When you love someone you must let go of your ego, your hesitancy, your restraints and more than that, trust the person you love with his perception of things.

Any love story that we have known of, read or seen in the light of a true love story is always filled with not just struggles but sometimes also tragedy. Laila Majnu, Romeo and Juliet, Heer Ranjha- all of them. Why? Because none of the couples could let go of their self-restraint until it was too late. We see it in reality as well, don’t we? Why is it that so many love marriages fail while some succeed beyond wildest dreams according to you? Your thoughts on it?

Travel begins with a good sign from the Gods

 

 

As I’d said, I would write the details of the travel that I recently made. I wish to remember this trip of mine for the simple reason that it taught me to appreciate life all the more. It taught me that in the face of adversity, one must persist to reach their chosen destination or peril may be the last option of life. Let me then begin with how it all started.

Our flight from Bangalore to Delhi was uneventful. A simple chronology of taking a cab in the morning to the airport-stuffing myself with food and coffee and sleeping all through the flight takes care of that part of the trip. J By evening, we were in Delhi. Metros in Delhi are really helpful because we were able to leave all our luggage in the cloak room there. We took the Metro from New Delhi to Rajiv Chowk since it was the best route ahead for a little past time to Connaught Place. It is one of my favourite shopping places apart from South Delhi. Husband was groaning knowing that I’d be secretly making a list of all the things I wanted to buy from here. And quite right he was too! I had my favourite Cavender’s Milk Shake and mentally made a list of the things I would buy once I am back from the trip for a pit stop here. We also shopped for some patties, doughnuts and an assortment of biscuits at Wenger’s.

When we returned to the New Delhi Metro, we collected our luggage and waited for the right time to go to the New Delhi Railway Station. It is a stone’s throw away from the New Delhi Metro Station. There is a Café Coffee Day inside the Metro station, thus an ideal spot for us to wait. Our train to Haridwar was at midnight. When the train arrived, we settled down and I instantly went to sleep while husband looked at me in stupefaction. I was so tired! *laughs*  The train journey barely took four hours for we were there by 4:00 AM.

It had rained a while back, leaving a nip in the air. If you’re ever travelling to Haridwar, be sure to handle our luggage with care and keep your head on your shoulders when dealing with Auto rickshaw drivers. They will quote you exorbitant amounts for taking you to nearby places, taking advantage of your ignorance of the place.

Much as it smotes my heart to say it, I advise the pedal rickshaw since I find that they are the honest lot. We may be of tender hearts and not wish to take them on their services but they need to earn too. This is a way of life for them and they must have the opportunity to earn their bread. So we took a pedal rickshaw and went to the famous “Har ki Pauri”.

There is a story that surrounds the city of Haridwar and Har ki Pauri. This city is considered to be one of the seven holiest places that are visited by Hindus. The story of Samudra Manthan (Churning of the cosmic ocean) mentions Haridwar along with three our places where Amrit (Elixir of life and immortality) was dropped by the celestial bird “Garuda” while taking it to the gods. Ah yes! The other places I believe are Ujjain, Allahabad and Nasik. This are the four places where Kumbh Mela takes places. I was in Haridwar during the last Maha Kumbh in Haridwar in 2010. It is said that during the maha-kumbh, all those who come to bathe in the holy river Ganges are atoned from their sins and gain Nirvana. The place where Amrit drops had fallen in Haridwar is called Brahma Kund. Brahma Kund is today popularly known as “Har ki Pauri” literally translated to Feet of the Lord.

The ancient Ganga temple is also situated here. The shops open by about 5:30 AM so we had to wait for our first cup of tea in the morning. In the meanwhile, we enjoyed sitting on the banks of the river that flowed in full strength. I love the cool breeze on my face. When I close my eyes, I can hear the river flowing, sparrows chirping and the sun just about to come out. Though there were a lot of clouds in the sky, nothing could hide the brightening sky. People had started gathering, taking a dip in the river, regardless of the cold that could chill the bones of the elderly.

There is an “Aarti” in the morning at about 5:30AM. The guys associated with the temple roam about on the banks, looking for those who can contribute to the “Ann Bhandara”. It is a sort of program whereby what you donate goes towards feeding the poor on a daily basis. We contributed our share for the Bhandara and the aarti. Since we were the first people to be standing on the bank, the pujari gave me the opportunity to do the aarti with a huge lamp/diya and perhaps thousands (?) of baatis (cotton dipped in ghee/oil) in it.  My heart was overwhelmed with joy at such a huge gesture from Mother Ganges. She let me worship her in place of other pundits! My husband who didn’t really believe in god and religion until a few years ago says it was the first sign that we received from Mother Nature that our trip was going to be eventful and unpredictable.

After a hearty breakfast of Puri and Potato subzi, we met our driver who will be our companion for the next 7 days. It was time to go further up the Shivalik Range of mountains. What a lovely ride that was! Every where that one could cast their eyes on, one could see rocky mountain faces.We travelled the path of river Ganga and reached our next stop- “Devprayag”.

Devprayag is the town where the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meet. Together they form the mighty river Ganges that flows down to Rishikesh, Haridwar and further.  After resting for a bit for tea and snacks, we moved further on. The journey thus far was uneventful and pleasant. We were yet to feel the cold seep into our bones. We had to stop at Mayapur for the night, not very far away now. What awaited us there then?

I shall write more in the next segment. Until then, Cheers! Enjoy the photo collage and leave loads of comments if you can please! 🙂 Thank you.

 

 

Near death teaches life appreciation

 

“It is worth dying to find out what life is.” – T.S. Eliot

It has been an eventful journey, this one. When I went away on this trip, I had a simple adventure in mind; adventure that was filled with fun and relaxation, some alone time with husband as well as with self.

Instead I found my self brushing shoulders with death. Too tired to talk about it today. Will be writing soon on how the Himalayas tried to seduce me into staying there forever, buried under the snow. My hands had started going blue and so had my lips. But for my husband I may have gone ahead and slept the final sleep. I think it was an experience necessary to finally bring me back to life, appreciating what I have all the more.

For now, am back from my trip in Bangalore and excessively tired. I have yet to unpack and sort out the washables from non-washables and put my socks and shoes to dry out in the sun. The weather here is sunny-glaring at me again, now that I’m back to curse it. :D we were supposed to have started with rains here but global warming effect has resulted into shining sun and irritating weather. I wish for the rains to cool me down! Ah! that feeling!

As for the FF chapter, keep a wide smile posted on your face my dears ‘cos postings will begin from Wednesday, on a daily basis.

Trust you all are enjoying the sunny weather out there, where ever you are! :) Keep rocking! :wave: