Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: Rough Passage to the Bodhi Tree, by Shiv K. Kumar




The story of the Buddha normally begins with the story of his birth… sometimes even before, with the omens which heralded the birth of a great soul. Shiv K. Kumar, however begins his story of the Buddha with Siddhartha choosing to participate in an open competition to win the hand of the princess Yashodhara. In doing so, he makes it quite clear that he wants us to see Siddhartha, not just as  someone destined for greatness, to forget for a moment that we already know of his journey to enlightenment, and see him as a human, confused by what he sees around him, yet not hesitating to do what he thinks is right. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Halloween Walk with the Travel-Loggers

Walking down from Sewri Railway station, we were met with blank stares when we asked for directions to the Christian Cemetery. It was only when we asked for ‘Church ka bada Kabrastan’, that a few people nodded and showed us the way. If they were surprised that a woman and a child were asking directions to the cemetery late in the evening, they didn’t show it! Anyways, what were we doing, going to a cemetery so late? We were heading there to meet our fellow Travel-loggers and set out on a Halloween themed walk, starting at the cemetery.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jog Falls - A Foaming Curtain of White

A white curtain covered the entire landscape. There was no trace of the green which was so evident all the way up the mountains, and the fog was so thick that even the person standing next to me seemed to blur. And then, as if on some hidden cue, the cloud curtain parted…… and brought this into view….



The Jog Falls!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Skywatch Friday - Sunset at Gokarna

Gokarna lies on the West Coast of India. Which means, we should have a good view of the sunset from anywhere. As it turns out, that is not true, thanks to the mountains and hillocks which cut off our view of the sun at different angles. To see a good sunset, you need to be at the right place, at the right time. Strictly speaking, we weren't. We missed the sun actually going down, since the monsoon clouds put a premature end to the spectacle, but what we did see was a beautiful play of light....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book Review: Kaurava by Krishna Udayasankar

What makes a book good? Is it the story? Is it the author? Is it the language, the usage of words? Most of us will agree that it is a combination of the three that makes a book what it is. When the story is one you know well, you expect the retelling to be brilliant, which puts the onus on the author. Krishna Udayasankar’s Aryavarta Chronicles series, as we know by now (or at least those of us who have read the first – Govinda – know) is her rendition of the Mahabharata. When I began reading ‘Govinda’, I wondered how she would treat a much retold story, and if you have read my review, you would know that she succeeded in surprising me.

Image Courtesy: http://govindashauri.blogspot.in

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Faces in the Crowd - The perfume man

At most temples, we only see vendors selling items for the Lord. At the Govind Dev ji Temple in Jaipur, this lone man sat by a pillar, adding a touch of fragrance...


He happily obliged with his wares to whoever wanted to try them out, neither calling out nor encouraging them, selling to only those who asked him for some. Most people regarded him as just one of the other priests, and his perfume, another blessing of the Lord, so maybe it was so. In a time when even priests are pushy and adept salesmen, this man stood out for his silence, which is what made me click him. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Skywatch Friday - Kudle Beach, Gokarna

Gokarna has many beaches, each one looking more beautiful than the other. All are small ones and the smallest among them gets its name from the very fact - Kudle beach (the word Kudle comes from the local word for 'small'). The beach is surrounded by hillocks, and the view from the top is stunning...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chamundi Hills, Mysore

Mysore city may owe its grandeur to the Wodeyars, but the town has a history that long precedes them. Legends tell us that this was where the goddess Chamundeshwari trounced the terrible demon, Mahishasura. The city itself takes its name from that of the demon, since it was he who ruled it first. And it is him we see first as we arrive at the top of Chamundi Hills, at the temple of the goddess.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Egyptian Vulture

"Amma, that is a vulture!!" Excited shouts like these are common with Samhith when we are on the road.... The only thing is, he has an hyperactive imagination, which turns crows into eagles and kites into vultures! However, we have an arrangement. If he sees anything interesting, I am to stop and pay attention, and if I tell him I want to show him something, he does the same. And so we stopped by the roadside to take a closer look at a bird perched on a boulder.



Monday, October 14, 2013

Ramlila at Chembur

Navaratri is the celebration of victory over evil. Whether it is the Devi slaying Mahishasura or Rama slaying Ravana, the theme remains the same, though the players might change. It is interesting to note that in the southern, eastern, and western parts of the country, it is the Devi who is revered, while it is mostly in the north that Ram takes centre stage. No matter what the gender bias, stories are always fun, which is why I dragged a reluctant Samhith from his Percy Jackson book, to see a real hero in action... or at least, a hero on stage - at our local Ramlila.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Final Golu for this year... and a performance...

The Fine Arts Society, Chembur is a hub of activity almost throughout the year. However, it is during Navaratri, that the place attracts even more crowds than usual.  The reason is of course, their music and fine arts classes, which begin on Vijayadasami, but even non-musical people like me rush there to see their golu, year after year.



A Goddess and a Golu

As Navaratri comes to a close, let me quickly take you to our local Mariamman Temple, a hub of activity during Navaratri, and show you their Golu...



Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chembur Durga Puja

Eight days have gone by, and Navaratri is almost over. It's unbelievable how fast time flies, especially during festivals like this. The last few days have been so busy that I haven't been able to write, but I have more to write before I call an end to my Navaratri posts. Today, let me give you a glimpse of our Chembur Durga Puja.....


Friday, October 11, 2013

Skywatch Friday - Mountains, River, and the sky....

As the weekend approaches, with exams done, all I wish is that I could get away somewhere... anywhere! Of course, other matters call, and I know I can't, but meanwhile, I try to console myself with all the photos I have clicked on the recent trips....



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Review: Asura, by Anand Neelakantan

Taking a break from the festival posts, here is a book review instead, for you, while I gather more Navaratri - related material to post! 


I had high hopes from ‘Asura’ – Tale of the vanquished - The story of Ravana and his people, by Anand Neelakantan. After all, how often is it that we get to read the other side of an epic? I should have been warned by the title – or rather, the long explanation to the title. The book is just the same, a long, rambling monologue, which brings little new or interesting to the fore.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A much - awaited golu

He is a person, who, when he travels, looks, not just at sights, but at houses, temples, roads, pavements, streetlights, roofs, walls... you get the idea! He notices details which escape most of us, and, also unlike most of us, he remembers, and uses, most of what he notices. He comes back from a trip filled with ideas, which he then proceeds to re-create, in his own special way - for the year's Golu. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

And here is the first Golu this year....

And so it begins.... our tour of the Golus for this year... beginning with the one at my mom's place in Thane. It is much simpler than in the past years, but nevertheless just as creative. Here is what the Golu looks like...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Navaratri Begins....

Waking up this morning, the first sound that came to my ears was the chanting of the Lalita Sahasranama from the nearby temple. "And so Navaratri begins" was my first thought... an auspicious beginning to an auspicious day! 



Friday, October 4, 2013

Skywatch Friday ; Church at Mashobra



This little church sits atop a small hillock at Mashobra, surrounded by trees. It is easily reached by a short climb, but we found it almost deserted. From what I have been able to learn, this is the St. Crispin's Church, and it has been converted into a dormitory by the YMCA.

Every time we went for a walk at Mashobra, this church was what loomed over us, beckoning us to visit. Which is why, this is today's post for Skywatch Friday!

For more beautiful skies from around the world, go to the Skywatch Page

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Omkareshwara Temple, Coorg : A Story and some Thoughts

Kings misusing their power is nothing new, neither in our epics, our history, or even the present. Of course, in the present, the kings are replaced by those in power, but, I digress. Getting back to my story, learning of a king committing outrageous acts is nothing new. Leaning that he killed innocent people is nothing new either, and we would scarcely lift an eyebrow. However, when the spirit of the innocent victim plagues the king, we sit up and take note! That is what makes the story of the Omkareshwara Temple in Coorg interesting.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mud Wasp

What do you do when you see a wasp? Stay out of its way? What do you think we do? Click it of course!!!!


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