Thursday, February 25, 2010

Juhu Beach, Mumbai

The last time I went to Juhu beach must have been about 25 years back.... when I was in school. In fact, this happens to be the first beach I visited when I came to Bombay..... There are, however, few memories I have, about the place, which is why I headed out there in the hot sun, when I had a few hours free during the BlogCamp. Here are a few images from the trip......

Samhith has yet to visit a beach in Bombay.... its high time I take him......

Monday, February 22, 2010

Samhith's work of art

This is one of Samhith's latest creations - he has just learnt to draw!!! Yes, at the age of 6 and a half, it is indeed a bit late, but he has never been interested in drawing or colouring! "Why should I want to draw or colour?" has been the refrain for so long! He couldn't even colour properly, let alone draw anything!

Then, suddenly, last month, he brought back a perfectly coloured sheet from school, telling me that one of his friends had helped him out, teaching him how to draw within the boundaries! I can never thank the little girl who helped him out enough!

And then, imagine my surprise when he brought back a note from the teacher, informing that he was to participate in a drawing competition! So, we spent Sunday morning drawing a school bus, which was the topic given. This drawing below is the one he drew by himself, as a sort of trial, and then he drew it finally on art paper, which he has taken along with him to school.

I wanted to take  a pic of the final drawing, but with one thing and the other, we somehow missed it, and it has now been sent off to school. But this, his very first effort, deserves a mention on my blog, which is where he now looks for appreciation...

A special thanks to Sudhir, Usha's brother, who has been instrumental in encouraging Samhith to draw. The poor chap has spent so much time with him, giving into his drawing demands, but also trying to get him to do his bit.....

So, guys, please take a look, and leave your comments for the  little chap!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blog Camp Mumbai - Experience

Getting to the Blog Camp wasn't as easy as I had thought! To begin with, I had to convince Samhith to let me go alone - he would have been bored there, anyway, and wouldn't have let me hear anything the other bloggers had to say! And then, getting out of the house took quite a while, and I ended up leaving home only after lunch. Imagine my predicament when I reached the event just in time for their lunch break!!!! 

One hour to go, everyone busy with lunch, and me with nothing to do and all alone - so I did what I usually do - left the place and spent an hour wandering around - walked to Juhu Beach and spent some time watching a group of swifts flying overhead.......

Now to the camp itself. When I first reached the venue, I felt older than ever, for all the attendees seemed so young! Most of them collegians, some in their early twenties..... I have never felt so old....

Thankfully, by the time I returned after my walk, there seemed to be more people around - more nearer my age... and even older! Thank God! I arrived just in time for the session to start at 2:30, and I was able to attend just a few talks before it was time for me to leave :( What a pity - I spent almost 3 hours travelling to and fro, and could barely attend the camp just for an hour, thanks to the lunch break......

But once the sessions started, I really enjoyed myself. The fist speaker was a blogger just out of school, and he is a corporate blogger! Wow! The next one was also a young chap, who spoke confidently about his blog making it to the front page of Digg! I couldn't help but admire these guys! At their age, I hadn't even seen a computer!

I had missed a talk by a housewife blogger, which had apparently ended just before I reached, so I missed something I would have enjoyed, and maybe added my two bits too....... But I really loved it when people started talking about social causes. I hadn't a clue that so many people were into it! 

The most interesting talk I attended was by Akshay Surve, who spoke about one of his ventures - Ads4Good, where he provides widgets linked to ads. Just by adding these widgets to our blogs, we can help NGOs without actually paying money out of our own pockets.... It was an entirely new idea, which I enjoyed, and am soon going to try out. 

The highlight of the day was a 11 year old boy, who blogs about games and cooking!!! WOW! Can you imagine that?????  

All this was within an hour. Can you even imagine how much would have been there from 10AM to 6PM? Now I can't wait for the next camp, hopefully one where I shall be able to take Samhith along, and spend the better part of the day among other bloggers........


To read a more detailed report of the BlogCamp, Check out Idea-Smithy's Blog. Thanks to her, I at least now have an idea about who was who at the camp... at least some of them!!!

Also thanks to her, here are some more reports of the Camp...

Satish - Bombay Lives

Priya - Reading Cafe

Friday, February 19, 2010

Skywatch Friday

The Sunset at Alibag....

This was one of the pics we took on our visit to Alibag last year, and I especially love this one... esp since there is a couple in the frame against the backdrop of the setting sun.... romantic, wouldn't you say??? And for those of you who like to look further, there is a small bird there too.....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blog Camp Mumbai

I am planning to attend the Blog Camp Mumbai, at least part of it. Will you be there?

BlogCamp Details:

BlogCamp Mumbai is all about bloggers and sessions related to blogging. All bloggers + anyone interested in blogging (or have any queries related to blogs) can attend this event. You can also take sessions related to blogging as we will be having a white wiki (board) at the venue where you can take available slot timings. There is no FEE for this event.

Saturday, February 20, 2010 from 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management & Engineering,
Behind Homeopathy College, Near Irla Lane,
Bhakti VedantaSwami Marg, JVPD Scheme
Vile Parle 400056

Where do I register?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kashi Yatra

Varanasi is a city which has always fascinated me, and I have been fortunate enough to visit it twice. The first time I was a school kid, and my memories are vague, but the second time, which was about two years back, I spent 10 memorable days there while my in-laws performed all conceivable rituals and prayers. I came back so full of information and enthusiasm, that I wrote 16 posts on the trip, and finally ended up making a separate blog for all of them. 

Once I was through with it, this blog was left forgotten and never updated, since I had nothing to add! However, I have been surprised by the slow, but steady response this blog has received over the last two years. People have not just been visiting the blog, they also leave comments, and mostly write to me asking for clarifications or telling me about their experience. A few people, in fact, came back to tell me that my blog had helped them plan and execute their trip. For a blogger, there is nothing more satisfying, wouldn't you agree?

Well, moving on, having nothing to write about, I have recently started looking at my other blogs and have been trying to update them or bring something new to each one of them. The first one I have looked at and made some changes in, is my Kashi Yatra blog.

Many of you are recent visitors to my blog, and may not have seen my Kashi blogs. Please head on to Kashi Yatra and take a look. 

For those who have already seen it, there are a few changes - the most important being an eBook! Yes, I have compiled the blog posts into a eBook in Pdf format, and you can download it and read it at your leisure. This feature has been added mainly for people like my mother and mother-in-law who love to read about temples and pilgrimages, but are not comfortable with computers and ask me to take printouts of interesting things so that they too can read and enjoy them

So go ahead and take a look. And please tell me what you think.........

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A couple of birds.....

I started getting interested in birds only when Samhith began noticing them and asking their names. When I realised that his interest made him conscious about being quiet and calm while we were looking at birds, I decided to encourage him just to teach him some patience. You can see the influence he has had on me, just by going through my blog. But you can really gauge his influence when you see the pics below. These were taken by my sister-in-law, Sandhya, when she was on a trip to Chidambaram. Till now, she has shown no interest in birds, but thanks to him, the whole family has jumped on the birding bandwagon!  

I have no idea about the names of the birds, so if any of you do know, please leave a comment....

This is the best one - a bird inside its nest...... again, I have no clue as to the name.....

She actually took a lot more photographs, but they were not all that clear, and I could not put them up! But as of now, thanks to Samhith, there is a whole new family of birding enthusiasts!!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Waders and Other Water-Birds --- A morning at the Sewri Mudflats

The first time we went to see the Flamingoes of Mumbai at Sewri with the BNHS, we were enraptured by these beautiful birds, and were surprised by the number of birds, not just flamingoes, which arrived in this crowded metropolis! Since then, we twice lost the opportunity of joining the BNHS on their bird watching trips, due to prior engagements. I had lost all hopes of seeing these birds again this year, but thankfully, Adesh Shivkar of the Mumbai Bird Club announced a birding trail to Sewri this Saturday, and I jumped at the chance to take Samhith along on another bird-watching jaunt.

This time, I also roped along my friend, Usha, who will shortly be shifting to Delhi. She had to go somewhere else, but agreed to join me and Samhith for at least a couple of hours. So, the three of us set off at the break of dawn to see what and how many birds we were able to identify!

The very first sight that met us at Sewri was a sea of pink, the flamingoes much closer than they were, the last time. There also seemed to be many more, and it was a real riot of pink as far as we could see!

There were many smaller birds too, and to our untrained eyes, they all looked like sandpipers or plovers. Only when Adesh showed us the birds through the telescope and showed us their individual characteristics that set each of them apart, did we realize that what we had imagined to be just one or two varieties were, in fact, more than 10 types of waders! By the time we were through, I was sure that I had grasped just the tip of the iceberg, and there was much, much more to learn! So, now I had better make time to attend a few more such birding trails!

Here are my images of the wonderful morning spent at Sewri. My camera isn’t a great one, and neither am I an accomplished photographer, so there images are quite hazy and not all that clear…….. To top it all, the sun was playing spoilsport, and adding to it was the smog which has become a permanent feature of the Mumbai skyline. So, please excuse the quality of the images……..This trip has just heightened my desire to own a DSLR, and I am sure that I shall not be able to contain the temptation for much longer. Till then, you have to be content with my simple Canon Powershot, and what I manage with it!

I took so many pics of the flamingoes, since we were absolutely fascinated by them, and especially because they were so much closer than last time, and we were able to see them clearly without even binoculars!

The rising sun welcomes us to the mudflats...

A pair of egrets enjoying themselves.... It was a wonderful sight!

There are at least four birds in this pic, and I think they are all different!!!

These tiny birds are perfectly camouflaged!

A group of lesser flamingoes..

A lone pond heron.....

Now, this one is a Little Ringed Plover. I took this pic immediately after Adesh showed it to us through the telescope, and I clicked this one... Thanks to him, this is one of those little waders identified!

And this one is a Western Reef Egret! It was the darkest bird around. Unfortunately, thanks to the ship anchored there, I wasn't even able to get a decent pic of this large bird!

That's a sandpiper..or a Black-Tailed Godwit.. which one? I have forgotten!

More Flamingoes...I told you, I went nuts clicking them all the time.. and this is just a fraction of the ones I clicked!

A mechanical bird which hovered over us for a while..... Wonder who was the VIP?

Another pond heron.....

We saw so many birds as I said earlier, and I shall not even try to name all of them. Here is the list of birds that we did see. This is a list which Usha jotted down while Adesh was helping us identify them, and I picked it from her to add it to my blog. I have added the name of the bird to the pics when I have been sure of them. As to the others, as of now, they are simply waders – many types of them!!!!!

So, here is the list of birds we saw...
1. Lesser Flamingoes... thousands of them!
2. Black capped Kingfisher - I couldnt even see where it was.... only saw it through the telescope!
3. Pond Heron
4. Common Red Shank
5. Little Ringed Plover
6. Common Sandpiper
7. Black-tailed Godwit
8. Western Reef Egret
9. Little Stint
11. Lesser Sand Plover
12. Terek Sandpiper
13. Curlew Sandpiper
14. Brown-headed Gull
15. Black Ibis

The last thing we saw wasn't a bird, but a crab - The Fiddler crab!

Can you some white things scattered here and there? three to be precise? Well, those are the pincers of the Fiddler Crab. The crab itself is under the surface, and it has one set of long pincers while the other is short. These are the longer ones sticking out, probably in search of food! Wish I could have got a better picture. But as of now, this is what I have to make do with.

Finally, a decent pic..... where I can identify the bird clearly as an egret! I clicked this one as we were leaving.

We had to leave early, thanks to Usha’s programme as well as Samhith’s hunger. After all, the poor chap had woken up early on a holiday. It wasn’t fair to deprive him of his breakfast too! But as we left, Usha summed it up well when she said, “Thank God we came! If I hadn’t, I would have regretted missing such an experience just to catch up with some sleep!

You can read Usha's post on the same trip here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Cinematic Experience - Harishchandrachi Factory

I am not a very regular film-goer, and actually go to see a movie only when I am sufficiently enthusiastic. The one film I had been looking forward to watching on the big screen was 'Harishchandrachi Factory'. I wondered if it would actually arrive at a theatre near me (considering that most award winning films don't really make it to the suburban theatres), and when it finally did, last week, I found myself too busy to go and watch it!

This afternoon, when Shankar suggested a movie, I opened the paper, only to find not a single mention of the movie anywhere! Finally I turned to the internet, my only source of information these days, and thankfully found it playing at a theatre not too far! We jumped at the chance, and booked tickets at once! As it happened, we need not have bothered - the theatre was almost empty! There were just a few families like us, most of them Maharashtrians, I may add!

Samhith for once was least interested in the movie -

1.Because he hadn't heard about the movie from his friends already! (And here, I think it would be appropriate to add that the kind of movies he hears about in the school bus are, of all things, 'Jail' and 'Wanted'!!!! and I am talking of kids who are between 6 and 10 years of age! When I asked him if they had seen these movies in the theatre, he calmly replied, "No, amma, they see all movies on CD!!!!" So much for the A Certificate!!!!! )

2.Because he asked about the name and I told him it was in Marathi. Much as I tried to explain to him that he would understand the movie, he refused to believe me.

Now for the movie itself - I don't think I need to relate the story. There has been enough of it in the papers. If, by chance you haven't heard of it, you can check out the story, trailers, etc on the movie website. This post is simply an attempt to express my feelings on seeing the movie.

It is certainly one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. A movie which tells us about the struggle and the life of a man who, so to speak, gave birth to Indian Cinema, but whom few remember today. He remains a name in GK books, from which children simply mug up names and dates without any interest or appreciation whatsoever. This is a movie which talks about the man's struggles and his dedication, his values and his dreams, his family and his neighbourhood, the struggle for independence in the background running parallel to his own struggles to make his dreams come true...... and all this in a light hearted way..... It brings tears to your eyes, but you leave the theatre with a smile on your lips and hope and happiness in your heart, and also a confidence, that yes, dreams do come true....... In short, the movie brings Dadasaheb Phalke to life, and makes you feel proud to be his co-patriot!

As to the language, well, the version we saw had no subtitles, but there was no need of any... Even Samhith laughed at all the right places. It just goes to prove that language is no barrier to anything, and most of all, feelings. After all, the movie that this one is based on - Raja Harishchandra, the  first Indian movie, had no voices at all! Yet people understood and appreciated the movie! You really do not need words to convey emotions, do you?

I am not a film critic, and am hardly competent to judge the actors or the director, or for that matter any of those who were involved with it, but the movie struck me as being amazingly coherent. The story, the dialogues, the characters, each one of them seemed perfect, and it is this coherence which I feel lacking in many of the movies I have seen recently. 

When I returned home, I spoke to about 5 people, of which 3 hadn't even heard of it! And 2 of those were those who regularly went to see movies! And one actually asked me why I had gone to see a Marathi movie! That tells us the state of our audience today, and explains probably why such award winning movies rarely do well. I could not wait to get home and start writing about it, so that more and more people can go and see this. After all, it is even Tax-free now!!

Rarely do we get to see such wonderful Indian movies. Do not miss it! And if you have seen it, I would love to hear your opinion too!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Skywatch Friday

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link.... as we passed via Bandra yesterday........The sight is still too exciting for me.... I go clickety-click everytime I go by.........

For more beautiful skies around the world, go to Skywatch Friday

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Just for fun.....

Chitra, of My Pilgrimage, has passed on an award with a few rules..... 1. to acknowledge the giver, 2. to list 10 things that you like, and 3. to pass on the award to 10 others.

Thanks, Chitra...for passing this on...... You have set a big task for me... and all I can do is try!!

First, about the things I like, I am going to list only 5, for those are all I could think of....... and am too lazy to go on.....
1. Reading
2. Writing
3. Spending time with my son, reading or playing with his blocks
4. Visiting new places
5. Attending Book exhibitions, concerts and visiting Art Galleries.

Now, to pass this on.... I am not keeping count, but am just tagging those I think would like to continue this....

Usha -Usha, I don't know whether you would actually like to do this, but I have added your name just so that I could see something new on your blog :)

Incidentally, have any of you noticed the new pages I have added on the blog???? Please take a look and tell me what you think!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Do you know the name of this fruit?

My father-in-law is building a bridge over a river near a small village in Karjat (near Mumbai). This place is fairly remote, which is why they didn't have a bridge in the first place.... you can guess how remote when I tell you that they still don't have electricity!!! 

Well, anyway, he came back home last night with a fruit the villagers had given him. he thought we would know the name, so he didn't bother to ask them. As it happens, we have no clue! Can any of you help us identify it? 

It looked ripe, so we cut it, but it turns out it wasn't quite ready to be eaten. It still tastes Ok, though!!!

Update: It is a Ram Phal, a variety related to the Sita Phal or custard apple. Thanks a lot, Chitra and Bhavesh for the info... Thanks to you both, I can now teach Samhith about another fruit!!

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