Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Balasaraswati - Her Art and Life

A question I was regularly asked at one time was:”So, you are a Tamilian. You must have learnt classical music and Bharatanatyam, right?” It was a question which always succeeded in irritating me, for I had nothing to do with either music or dance, despite being a Tamilian. Yes, my mom had, true to tradition, tried to get me interested in music. I had endured the classes for a year, and soon after, telling my mom that the classes intruded into my reading time, had refused to go anymore. She would have loved to send me to Bharatanatyam classes, but that was something I had no interest in even trying! Having two left feet, I stayed away from dance of all kinds, and she soon gave up, leaving me to my literary pursuits.  Living in a place where there were hardly any cultural events, and even fewer related to our South Indian background, I grew up blissfully ignorant of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam. Then, I got married and shifted to a predominantly South Indian neighbourhood – one which could actually be called a miniature Madras, complete with temple and all! Here were more people surprised that I wasn’t remotely interested in the classical arts, except as a spectator, all the more so since my sister-in-law herself was an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer! Years passed and I began enjoying Bharatanatyam performances, now that I was actually attending more of them, and besides, my sister joined the dancing brigade too. However, I still maintained my distance, being just remotely interested in the performance and the talent of the dancers. All that changed when my sister-in-law asked me for help in translating some documents for her Masters degree in the dance, and I discovered what a wealth of history and literature was available behind the ancient dance form. I began reading my sister-in-law’s books, eager to learn more about those who had shaped the dance and brought it to the form in which it is known today.

Among the many dancers I read about, one name stood out – Balasaraswati. She was said to be the first to perform the dance outside south India, but I was intrigued even more when I read an article which mentioned that she often sang as she danced! And then, a couple of weeks back, I saw that the book ‘Balasaraswati – Her Art and Life’ was up for review on Blogadda. I had been a part of the Blogadda Book Review programme for quite a while, but I had yet to receive a book for reviewing, so it was with some indifference that I applied for this one, thinking that I had nothing to lose. Besides, I was leaving for Samhith’s thread ceremony, and didn’t really have time to do a review!  Imagine my surprise when I got a mail from them, saying that I had been among the lucky ones chosen!! For a while, I wondered if I should refuse, since I hardly had time to read such a book and review it in the short time I had, but then the temptation proved too strong, and I agreed! So here at last (though a bit belated) is the review of ‘Balasaraswati – Her Art and Life’, by Douglas M. Knight, Jr.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guest Post - Kutch Diaries Part 2

In this, his second guest post, Niranjan continues his reminiscences of his Kutch trip, with a more detailed report of the fifth day spent on the Rann of Kutch. To read his earlier post, click here.

We started from Zainabad to Moti Virani, Kutch district on the morning of the fourth day of our trip – 28th December. We reached our destination by evening and had ample time to cool our heels and take some rest before embarking on another adventure into the wild. We were greeted with a terrific lunch. Whoever says that Gujarati food is sweet, should try out Kutchi food. It is very spicy and reminds of Andhra J

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guest Post - Kutch Diaries Part 1

This is a guest post, written by my cousin, Niranjan Chandrashekar. Niranjan is based in Delhi, and loves to travel and explore. His latest passion is for photography, a hobby which began with a brand new DSLR, but is soon becoming an obsession, as we keep telling him!!!! After much persuasion, he agreed to write a guest post for me. My family has always loved travelling, but I am the only one who has been documenting my travels so far. As I keep telling my uncles and cousins, they travel to a lot more interesting places than I do, so it is high time they began writing about it too! With Niranjan's foray into writing, I hope the others too begin supplying me with guest posts :D

He was recently part of a trip to Kutch, organized by Darter Photography Pvt. Ltd. in the last week of December, 2011 (from Dec 24, 2011 to Jan 1st, 2012). This is the first in a series of posts describing his experiences during the trip. This post is about the first half of the trip, where they explored the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

“The tour of Kutch” is where I discovered what photography is all about. Photography is not only about capturing landscapes, birds, animals... It is about capturing the moment as you see it, as you imagine it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Celebrating Pongal with books

Any festival is a reason to celebrate, and Pongal happens to be one of the important ones. Here is the kolam welcoming you to our home....

Friday, January 13, 2012

5 Things To Do in Udaipur

Udaipur is the lake city of Rajasthan.  Most of the state might be a desert, but Udaipur, with its five huge interconnected lakes is blessed with not just a perennial water supply, but the lakes also keep the city and its environment cool, even in the sweltering heat of summer! The city draws not just crowds of tourists coming from across the world for a glimpse of its magnificent palaces, but also droves of migratory birds drawn by the lakes! The city is thus an interesting blend of history and nature, well worth a leisurely visit. 

To read the full article, click here

This article was published on the Club Mahindra Blog. To read my other articles on the blog, click here

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Achalgarh - of a Fort and Temple, Bulls and Demons....

A bull which drove away invaders, three buffaloes said to be demons, a lake once said to have been filled with ghee and a temple once covered in lime to protect it – we couldn’t help but smile as we listened to these stories about Achalgarh. We had a day free at Mount Abu and were in the mood to explore, so we headed out for the tourist circuit, trusting our driver to take us to some interesting places. 

Achalgarh turned out to be the first on his list, and as we headed along roads with farms interspersed between the mountains, with scarcely a person to be seen anywhere, I wondered about the place we were going to. I had heard a bit about Achalgarh before we started, and knew that it had once been the capital of the area. The name indicated the presence of a fort, but our driver told me that there was no fort there. “Bas, mandir hai, Madam” he said. ”There is only a temple there.” I felt my enthusiasm droop at the idea of visiting yet another temple, but we had already turned on the road to Achalgarh, so there was no turning back.

To read the full article, click here.

This article was published on Spice Flair. To read all my articles on the site, click here

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rajabai Tower

As a student of Mumbai University, I always regretted the fact that I never had to visit the beautiful campus at Fort, commuting to the Kalina campus instead. Every time I was in town, I walked along the Fort Campus, looking up at the clock tower, slowing down to take a closer look at the convocation hall. At one time, I remember hoping that I would enter that beautiful hall for receiving my degree, but that hope too came to naught, since the premises were too small, and we were handed our degrees by a harassed clerk who couldn't care less about the momentous occasion! I digress, however, for this post is not about my degree, but about the majestic clock tower of Mumbai University - Rajabai Tower, which I recently photographed on a visit to the University.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Rocks, Minerals and Fossils Exhibition... and a new geology enthusiast!

Returning home after a ten day break, completely offline and unreachable, it was a pleasure to get back to my computer, to open my mailbox and see what all I had missed! Yes, I am still catching up, so those of you to whom I have not replied, please bear with me! Logging on to Facebook, what do I notice first? Sudha mentioning a visit to the Rocks and Minerals Exhibition at Mumbai University Fort Campus! 

Sky Watch Friday - Random Clicks from Cars and Train

Welcome back, and Wish you all a wonderful New Year!!

I am back at last from my trip - the last one of 2011 and also the first one of 2012. I was accompanied throughout by some wonderful weather, the cyclone Thane throwing no hurdles in my path, just a lot of clouds and some rain to enliven our travel! For Skywatch Friday today, here are some random scenes from my trip!


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