Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An interesting vehicle



We happened to see this vehicle, probably one of the new ones belonging to the police or the army. It drew all eyes towards it, and cameras and mobiles were pulled out, and the tourists went click....click....click! I wondered if it would be all right to take pics, considering that these belong to our state security forces, but there were plenty of policemen around, and none of them seemed to care about the photography, so I decided to go for it too!

It looks more like a tank than a van, right? I saw a couple more such vehicles at Mantralaya later, but did not dare take pics there!!!!!


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Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday evening in South Bombay- Museum and Nilambari






A visit to the Prince of Wales Museum, or to give it its official name – Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalay - was long overdue, and I decided to take Samhith there on Sunday, as we were all alone in the house and there was nothing to be done at home.



We started from home after lunch and took a train to VT (forgive me if I use the old names – the new ones don’t come all that easily to me). We were lucky to get one of the new trains, and Samhith was delighted, especially the announcements about the next station!



I had planned to walk to the museum, but it was too hot, so I decided to indulge, and took a taxi to the Gateway of India, where we reserved seats on the Nilambari – the open deck bus which takes one around the heritage buildings of Fort and Colaba.



We then headed to the Museum, which was something I was looking forward to, since I hadn’t been there in ages! I guess the last time I visited was when I was in school!! I used to think that maybe Samhith would also make a visit from the school, but these hopes seem far-fetched, since they don’t seem to be visiting any museums (and neither do any of the other schools these days).



Incidentally, this reminds me of a conversation I had with another kid from the complex. The boy is in 4th or 5th standard, and their school (one of the best in Chembur) took them to the Monetary Museum at RBI, since they had to do a project on currencies over the ages. I first thought they had gone to the Prince of Wales museum, since it too has a currency section, but the chap hadn’t even heard of it!!! It was his mother who told me about the project and the museum visit, and added that the boy hadn’t understood anything during the visit, and she had checked up on the museum website, and completed the kid’s project!!!!!!  I sincerely hope Samhith’s school doesn’t come up with projects like this, for I am completely against parents doing the projects for the children. What do you think?????






Anyway, coming back to my visit to the museum, I did not take my camera inside the museum, since the camera charges were about Rs.200/-, while the entry charges were just Rs.25/- for adults and Rs.5/- for kids. So sorry, no pics of the artifacts, just of the exterior!






We spent over 2 hours in the museum, seeing the kind of stuff Samhith would be interested in. The arms gallery was being renovated, so it was closed – a big disappointment for Samhith! However, the natural history section more than made up for it (as I knew it would!!). We spent almost an hour in there, identifying the various birds we had seen, and the types of animals. While I remembered our fascination for the huge stuffed blue whale during my last visit, Samhith was more fascinated by the huge Rhino!! When he saw the tiny baby elephant, though, he was really sad, for he couldn’t believe that someone had actually killed and stuffed a baby animal!!!






He came along with me through the sections of miniatures and paintings, which he can’t appreciate yet, but he surprisingly took a fancy for the beautifully carved pieces of jade, as well as the tiny, but intricately carved or decorated bottles of perfume! They reminded him of Aladdin and wondered if any of them would have a genie in them!!!






We spent quite a bit of time in the museum store, though we did not buy anything. I have promised to buy him some of the books when he can read them! The store is also being upgraded, and will be shifted soon to a space being developed right next to the gate. In fact, the museum has been modernized quite a bit, and many more plans are being implemented. Looks like by next year, it should have many more attractions for kids…..







We headed back to the Gateway of India and spent a few minutes clicking the crowd till it was time to head for the bus. We arrived just in time as the bus, and we seated ourselves. Soon, the bus was full (at least, the open deck was – I don’t know about the lower deck!).












We started a little late after waiting for a couple of passengers who said they had been looking for a parking space, much to the irritation of the guide, but we were finally off, taking a tour along the roads of Colaba, heading out to Marine drive, then to Churchgate, Oval Maidan and the University to Fashion Street, then on to VT and through the Fort area to the Asiatic Library and finally back to the Gateway.





The guide fed us interesting tidbits about the areas and the buildings we were passing by, but it was quite obvious that the information was meant for foreigners and visitors to the city, and not for hardcore Mumbai-ites like me who already knew most of it! Samhith was bored by the commentary, and has accompanied me enough along the same route to be bored by the tour. However, the open deck made up for it, and it was just wonderful, coursing along Marine Drive in it! Another advantage of the open deck was the fact that we were able to look at some of the buildings more closely. I just wished the tour was conducted in the morning, for I could then have taken some good photographs.






By the time we were through, it was past 8PM, and we headed straight to VT… but before we got into the train, we had Pav Bhaji at Canon… that’s where I ate every time I went to VT and Samhith loves it too!!!!!

By the time we were home, it was almost 10PM! It was truly a wonderful day, which took me back to my college days.

Some Details:


Museum: Open from Tuesday to Sunday - 10:15AM to 6:15PM. They do have a website, but it is not yet operational. 


Nilambari Open Deck Bus: Only on Saturdays and Sundays. 7-8PM and 8-9PM
Tickets available at MTDC counter at the Gateway of India. For details, check MTDC Website.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Paraphernalia for Indian rituals.. some of them.....

Our first outing of the year was to Jalgaon where we attended a havan and a puja. An auspicious beginning to the new year, wouldn't you say?

Considering that we perform so many rituals ourselves at home, I have always been fascinated by all the paraphernalia that we use for them. I used the opportunity at Jalgaon to click pics, not of the puja itself, which everyone else was doing,  but of the preparations for the puja..........

Here is the puja site.. all ready and prepared....


That's the havan kund.. where the fire will be lit...



Here are the essentials - water, haldi(turmeric), kumkum, chandan...etc. etc. etc...
i love that kamadalu-like vessel with the spout.. Don't know its correct name.... look at the tiny different shaped wooden articles next to it. They are used for the havan for making the offerings...



Fruits and flowers... and the spoons used for the havan... again, sorry, but the names elude me.



The Kalash - the central item....



and finally, the sacred fire....





For those of you who think this is too much, next time, I shall click pics at my mother's place of her puja.. you will be stunned by the number and variety of things she uses!!!


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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where have all the other birds gone?

The two black kites in our colony are presently the most visible ones around. All the bulbuls, sunbirds and robins seem to have disappeared! I wonder why that is so.

Meanwhile, the absence of birds has given me very little opportunity of using my camera, so I jumped at the chance when the kite came to sit on our terrace for a while, giving me some good pics... Here they are....












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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Mumbai Marathon - A Gatecrashing Experience

The Standard chartered Mumbai Marathon took place yesterday, and the papers are full of Marathon News – about the celebrities, the figures, the statistics, the problems, the heroes… and so on and so forth. Here is an experience of none of the above – a group of young girls, who, unable to register for the marathon (the registrations were over even before we awoke to the fact that they were open!), decided to gate crash and participate in the event nevertheless! The group consisted of my sister Kanthi and her friends Manasi and Pranali. Here is their experience in their own words……….
     

The Mumbai Marathon - An unforgettable Experience


This is the first time I am trying to write my experience which will be posted on the net! Warning to all my sister’s blog friends: I am not as good writer as my sister, so bear with my English!!! The reason I am writing this article instead of my sis is that I participated in the Mumbai marathon which was held on 17th Jan ’10. Moreover I gate crashed in the marathon’s 6 Km Dream Run!
    
   I always wanted to be a part of this wonderful event ever since my dad took me along 2 years ago. But somehow I couldn’t participate last year due to registration problems etc. This year I had made up my mind to run for Mumbai by hook or by crook (my dad actually encouraged me to do so!). When one decides to bend certain rules, he prefers to have company! So, I persuaded my best friends, Manasi and Pranali to come with me. All three of us made grand plans and carried along a huge amount of food, as if we were going for a 2 day picnic! We had plans to go with my father, who was also participating in the Dream Run through his office. We planned to leave my house at 5.30am.

There were number of hurdles to come between us and our marathon.

The 1st one was – getting up at 4.30 AM!!! Don’t be surprised, because left to ourselves, we sleep till 10 on Sundays. To overcome this one, my friends planned to sleep over at my house, since my mom religiously gets up at 4.00 AM every single day, and she would somehow manage to wake us up too!

Overcoming the first hurdle, we left our house and caught a CST bound train from Thane station, our excitement mixed with anticipation of being able to get inside the Azad Maidan gate – the main entry point for the Dream Run participants! That was our 2nd hurdle. We started planning our excuses and methods of escaping from the security staff. We met the team at Metro and felt relieved when we saw more than 60 people standing from the company alone. We thought we could mingle with them and enter. But to our surprise, without much checking they let us in! What an achievement! Wow!

We started clicking pics and roaming here and there, unaware of our next biggest hurdle. Inside the maidan there was more segregation which needed the bib (with the registered number)! OH my god! Now what to do? We asked help from the team, but they discouraged us and pleaded their inability to help us. So we ran out of the maidan undecided, confused and hurt. But seeing all the paparazzi our spirits rose and our determination to enter the race became stronger.

We tried to find loop holes in the security system, but our timing was very wrong. The half and the full marathons were just beginning to end, so there was heavy security. We walked from Xavier’s college crossing Cama hospital till CST station, but in vain, for we just couldn’t reach the starting point of the race! (What really rankled was the fact that more than just being the starting point, it was the place where John Abraham stands!)

Realizing that if we wanted to participate, we would need to enter from some other place, we retraced our steps towards Flora Fountain, and we didn’t know the way! (Note from Anu – can you believe it?? These are college going girls, born and brought up in Bombay, and they still have trouble finding their way!!!!).

Asking and guessing the route, we reached the junction. To our dismay there were even more policemen there than at the starting point. But somehow we stood posing with our cameras, praying for an early start of the Dream Run! (I would like to tell you all that by that time we had already walked about 4kms!)

Standing there, we realized we were actually witnessing one of the proudest events in the history of our very own Mumbai. We were always there to criticize whenever Mumbai faltered, be it the 26/7 rain disaster or train blasts 4 years ago or the recent 26/11 attack. But somehow I don’t remember even a day when Mumbai made me proud! (There would have been days, but not in my memory). On that day, standing there, seeing everyone running for some or the other cause made me a stronger Mumbai-ite. No wonder people who come here never want to go back! I wish politicians understood that!

You have to personally witness it to understand my feelings, because we saw so many impossible things happening in front of our eyes that it puts us to shame, for if people can do such things with all their problems, what right do we have to complain about not having any luck in our lives!!! Wheelchairs, crutches, blindness, nothing hindered those people who are less fortunate than us. Hats off to those who ran despite all odds! The young, the old and the crippled ran side by side. They all ran not for themselves, but for someone else! Truly every Mumbai-ite ran for Mumbai, and as I write this, I would like to clarify that ‘Mumbai-ite’ didn’t mean just people from this city. The term was for all those who participated directly or indirectly in this event.

Ok, that’s enough of sentiments! As a teenager, I was more interested in all the people I saw – not just those who made a point, but all the celebrities too! I got to see many of the celebrities who were running or just encouraging the runners! More than just seeing them, I actually shook hands with a few!!!!!! Among those whom we saw were Tara Sharma, Rahul Bose, Mr. & Mrs. Hiranandani, Harsha bogle, Sanjeev Kapoor, Anand Mahindra, Police commissioner Mr. Sivanand and Aditi Gowatrikar. (Anu’s note: I am sure that if only any of these people would have stood still for a minute instead of running, my sister would have been the first to rush towards them with an autograph book. She already has a good collection of autographs – an interest she gets from my mom!)

Waiting at the junction, watching groups of people run past, cheering them on, our excitement waned as my dad didn’t appear, and neither did anyone from his group!. After many desperate calls we officially gate crashed the dream run!!!!! We went click…click… click… all the way!

Since we were not from the any company or team, we cheered anyone and everyone with whom we walked. We even took photos at the Marine drive and danced with the DJs and RJs along the way. All along the way, we had to find different ways of escaping from those who asked us for our bib. When saw the finish line, we didn’t care for anyone! Just cheered each other and experienced euphoria!

But as rule breakers, it was inevitable that we would be questioned by somebody or the other, and that somebody caught us totally off guard and embarrassed! No, it wasn’t anyone from the security but a person from Catering dept.!!! This is how it happened - For all the runners there was a package containing an orange, an apple (which was very juicy), Horlicks biscuits, Horlicks Nutri-Bar and water. When Manasi and I went to claim our share, the girl noticed that our bib was missing. When she asked us, we faltered, as we hadn’t planned for this! But to our luck, I had already taken the pack, so all she could do was to ask Manasi to share with me! We came out and laughed loudly!!! My dad took extra advantage of having the bib and went and got an extra pack for Manasi!!!!!  (Anu’s note: God! These girls actually managed to get the food too… in spite of carrying along food and gate crashing!!)

Our day came to an end when we dragged ourselves to CST station and sat in a local train. But somehow we weren’t too tired, so we took out our cameras and started commenting on all the pics and promising ourselves to show off all the pics on facebook!!!

After all, the bottom line is: every person wants to gets his/her share of the lime light!!!

I am really thankful to my sis because of whom I sat and wrote my experience. This helped me improve my English grammar!!!!! Thanks a lot akka.


- Kanthi



Note: It took a lot of encouragement and pestering for Kanthi to write this down, and she has done it only because I promised to edit it, keeping as far as possible to her narrative. I hope all of you liked this one……..


Incidentally, my hubby too wasn’t able to register, and decided to gate crash too, but not for the Dream Run, but the Half Marathon!!! Now that is one experience you are not going to get to read, for he certainly isn’t going to write about it! He obviously couldn’t enter at the starting point, or finish at the finishing line, but he did run on the route, and managed to cover the distance! What a family we are! A family of gate crashers!!!

 Take a look at the slideshow below for her photographs, or you can see all the pics here.





Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rangolis - Maharashtrian style!

I have always been fascinated by the Maharashtrian way of drawing rangolis. While I love drawing the traditional 'kolams' with rice paste, I am no good at using the kolam powder or rice flour. These are typical Maharashtrian patterns drawn at Jalgaon, where, as I mentioned earlier, we attended a puja.

The girl was young, must have been younger than me, and she drew these two rangolis in a matter of minutes!



Normally, when we use rice flour, we can only draw one line at a time. Here, in the next rangoli, she drew 4 at a time!!! It was fantastic to watch her, and I tried taking a pic of her drawing the rangoli. Unfortunately, it was dark and they did not come out well. These pix were taken the next day, and I wasn't able to locate her and ask her to pose next to her creations.




A wonderful job,isn't it? what do you say????



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Friday, January 15, 2010

Partial Solar Eclipse in Mumbai

For the last hour,I have watching the partial solar eclipse, explaining the phenomenon to Samhith, and trying to get a reasonably good photograph.Success at last!!! Guess what I used to take these pics!!!
















Beautiful, isn't it???
(ANS. a double layer of film for the first 2 and 4 layers for the last 3!)

For More pictures of the solar eclipse, check out the following blogs:

Ashish Parmar's Nature's Imagery (Bangalore)


Mridula's Travel Tales from India (Delhi)


Quest's Quest beyond eternity (Thiruvananthapuram)



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Roses







A few of the roses we saw at Jalgaon...... We had been to Jalgaon last weekend for a puja..... and were fascinated by these roses... more pics will follow..


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