Sunday, December 18, 2016

A quick visit to Modhera Sun Temple, Gujarat

Today, I simply couldn’t help visiting my blog that’s been neglected for quite some time now. I felt guilty of not writing and thought I wasn’t being fair to myself! And of course during the last 12 months, I haven’t made many memories either, if I had, it would have definitely been up on my blog! Though the year seems to have been impoverished in terms of filling my repository with precious memories, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to key-in few words, as my stay comes to an end at the guesthouse of the beautiful EDI campus, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

I was lucky that this work related visit  gave me few hours to rewind and renew my energies with a short-long drive to the nearby historical Sun Temple at Modhera.  I missed visiting this precious monument during my last visit to Gujarat and this time I managed to sneak a few hours. 
 Modhera is about 80 Kms from Gandhinagar, and the drive was quite pleasant. And the cab driver Joshibhai made the journey even more interesting with his anecdotes on demonetization and many other tidbits of current affairs. There was so much to catch up I thought! 

Well, the most interesting story he told me was about how he dealt with a passenger, a chain smoker who was willing to give away any number of old notes to get packs of cigarettes and the funny incidents that followed...the drive was quite entertaining with a chatty companion. After we crossed Mehasana, the road was a bit patchy and uneven but this didn’t bother us much as we saw the many golden mustard fields on both sides of the road. It seemed like a scene straight out of the Kajol and SRK’s song in DDLJ J

The Sun temple was built in 1027AD by the Solanki kings and suffered a lot of damage during the rule of Mohamad Ghazni. No deity is worshipped in the temple and it is maintained by the Archeological Survey of India. Being Sunday, the temple was filled with foreign tourists and local visitors and it presented a beautiful sight bustling with selfie-lovers, architecture and history lovers and heritage enthusiasts. The fun part of my visit was to see Joshibhai clicking many selfies and videos as this was his first visit to the place. For a moment I wanted to forget about my selfie-shyness but that didn’t work; and Joshibhai was quite expert at taking pictures. 

Another memory I carry from this visit are those little school kids from a primary school who were accompanied by their teacher. Two of the came to me and asked shyly “what your name? and others joined them and wanted to talk in English. They told me they are from a Gujarati school and the teacher was apparently unhappy with the kids breaking out of their group. I listened to some very creative English from them and took a group picture.

We went around the temple and saw the intricate carvings (though mostly damaged) and also spent some time inside, admiring the exquisite pillars, the arches and the ceiling. The next point was the adjoining ornated step well with interestingly beautiful geometrical patterns when viewed from the top. As you get down the steps it’s a wonderful feeling to real the water level and look up to get a magnificent view of the temple (both the mandapas). The vast lawns around the temple complex make the environs serene and peaceful.

This memorable short trip was refreshing and got me recharged to get back to my timelines and roadmaps, resuming from where I paused!

Friday, August 26, 2016

When Brahma Kamalam bloomed in my balcony

It was just two months ago. My mother had just reached home after a short trip to Bengaluru and was rummaging through her bag for few sprigs that she got from my brother's neighbour. When I saw the stem (leaves) she carefully managed to get, I could quickly identify it was Brahma Kamalam and I told her it’s a difficult thing to see the flowers bloom, even if the plant takes root, since it would take ages to grow. Going by whatever I had heard or read about these flowers I thought it was next to impossible to have this spectacle unfold in my balcony. But luck had it the other way. And, my mother's green thumb does the magic again.

Last evening was nothing short of a miracle.  Earlier in the day, at 12 noon to be precise, when we saw the bud tightly wrapped in greenish maroon streaks of sepals, it seemed like it may take few days to blossom. But, perhaps due the rainy and humid day, by 5.00 PM the bud had puffed up showing the inner whitish petals. In an hour, there was more loosening of the bud and my excitement know no bounds as we were about to witness a rare nocturnal occurrence of Brahma Kamal blooming in our own balcony.

I left my laptop behind and forgot about the pending tasks for the day / evening. I simply didn’t care about anything else, not even the endless mosquito bites, and sat in the balcony for hours watching the unusual spectacle unfold - in layers of petals and a whiff of something like frankincense in the air around the planters. My weakness for taking flower pictures was it its peak as I took several of them and 'reported the event live to my close friends and family', thanks to WhatsApp on my Sony Xperia.

Brahma Kamalam, (not to be confused with the mythical Himalayan variety or the state flower of Uttarakhand) is also known as Nishagandhi and Bethlehem lily as I googled to know more about this exotic flower. The mythical name apart, the flower is supposed to be very auspicious, going by the popular belief. Actually, the process of watching the flower open up is quite a sight to behold -  more like spiritual. By midnight, the flower was in full bloom, it felt like a tiny piece of moon landed on one of the flower pots with its amazingly white surreal feeling!

My mother had a nice name for it - she instantly called it bin paani ka kamal meaning lotus without water. In fact, it was nothing short of a lotus in a planter, clinging on to a frail bamboo stick for support. As the petals layered out, and the whole flower showed up in full glory, we started worrying about its short life and how it would soon droop and wither before the first rays of the Sun. And that’s exactly how it was this morning - I simply couldn’t believe how it lay lifeless! The huge white floral wonder that stood erect majestically last night, was completely languished, shrivelled up into a bud.

So symbolic the entire process was! It was like witnessing a short life filled with power packed performance, giving the best it could and creating happy memories. It was just not a happy feeling when I saw the withered sight and simply couldn't believe it was the same flower, but feeling of loss was quickly balanced with the beautiful and baffling memories it left behind. So evocative the entire experience was! So much to be cherished till the next blossom! Nature is divine and she never ceases to amaze us :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Conversations over coffee

Please don’t read in between the lines, going by the title of this blog post. No, I didn’t ditch my tea! Archana, Madhu and Kavitha, please don’t be disheartened - the gift tea packs you showered on me are all in tact and I cherish every moment and every sip with those endless flavours from as far as Australia, Sri Lanka and Ooty. While my diehard addiction to tea will last as long as I’m around, this time, for a change I picked up a pack of granulated coffee from a near by supermarket - a hypermarket to be precise. Perhaps got carried away by the introductory offer on this brand of coffee and so on! A temptation I couldn't resist.

And, today as coffee replaced my afternoon tea, I asked myself why this sudden change in me? May be I just needed a CHANGE. It’s good to try out new stuff once in a while, right? Coffee was more of a student-days thing, not just a beverage; it was a must-have for those late night reads when most of us believed that caffeine is the best saviour when you need to sharpen your senses while slogging for research and project deadlines. The mandatory steel filter/percolator at home now lies unused in one of the racks in kitchen, a memory of younger days, when conversations happened mostly around those cups and tumblers filled with a unique roasted aroma wafting through the brain to stimulate the intellectual hormones, if there's anything like that! Remember this was not instant coffee!

Coffee, for me,  was when there were no Cafe Coffee Days and Starbucks in Hyderabad and our nearest source of freshest coffee was Ramesh Coffee Stores in Sitafalmandi, Secunderabad. Coffee is nostalgia about heated debates and discussions about English Education in India with a bunch of friends, some of whom smoked along and I did not mind the passive effect as we were engulfed in discussions about some burning issues in the country. Coffee, for me, was when we had our fill of Idli or Dosa and simply couldn’t resist ordering a cup in a Kamath in Hyderabad or a Sagar in Bengaluru. Coffee distinctly evokes those library and fieldwork days at IISC Bengaluru, which had an outlet /canteen of Tata’s if I remember right. And, my most unforgettable original coffee experience was whenever I visited Dr. Rajagopal on EFLU campus. I don't remember missing out on any occasion, their freshly filtered coffee, served most traditionally, in a small steel tumbler.  This was most refreshing after a somewhat long drive to their place for a quick catch up.

Coffee was when my parents disliked the caffeine overdose as a means of staying awake late nights to read, write and while away time imagining how I could change the things I could not! And did not know the difference.

Coffee was idealism - tea is realism!
Coffee is my past and tea is what I live for.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Golden moments with the Gulmohars

Mobile phone camera is not an extension of our eyes (sometimes it’s good not to go with Marshall McLuhan J )This is what I wanted to tell myself by resisting to take pictures of the flamboyant and grand Gulmohars as I passed through the green avenues and verdant expanses in Bengaluru. Instead, I consciously savoured every luxuriant sight and tried to frame them in my memory, overcoming the itch with a new Sony Xperia in my hand.

And this memory instantly connected me with a painting of Gulmohar that I did as a school kid and lots of lovely memories of the Gulmohar trees near my house when we lived on the CIEFL/EFLU campus and of course, the then green environs of Osmania University. Gushing Gulmohars have always been my favourites when as kids we used to play under the trees in the park or the road-side or collect the fallen flowers after a heavy storm or rain. They are perfect companions for summer along with Jacarandas and Copperpods, as they add so much colour and life with their regal splendour in the otherwise dry and arid landscape.

These passion-filled midsummer wonders have so much to tell. Look at the way they proudly stand out in the graceful green background with shades of scarlett, vermillion and red.
  • Don’t they remind us of how brilliance scores over everything else in whatever we do
  • The flowers are delicate and short lived – they can be easily brought down even by an unassuming summer shower. But the moment they wither, they delightfully deck up the ground with petals strewn all over, forming a tapestry of colours – deep, bright, cheerful and vibrant.  
  • And what about the way they flame up the surroundings? This is so much like being a confident go-getter by making our presence felt 
  • Most important, Gulmohars blossom for a short while; they are seasonal but they make the most of it through their royal, stately and impactful presence!
The tropical magic of Gulmohars is so much like what rows of colourful Tulips do in cold climes, right!

It was a mid-week Bengaluru visit, work-related, short and hectic. Travelling absolutely unplanned has it own anxitement. The relaxing views of floral delights helped me overcome some stressful moments and crazily unorganized work schedule that I was drafting for myself. Nature is always inspirational and absolutely magnificent!
If it wasn't for the zeal and zing of Gulmohars, my visit wouldn't have been so memorable! 

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Escaping into the cloudscapes

When the skies refuse to remain blue
And when the sun refuses to get shrouded
When the amber simply pierces through
When the greys mix with golden hues
Nothing can stop the nature's site
From getting painted and annotated
With many colourful moods and musings.

It was one such evening on my terrace 
When I wandered lonely as a cloud
Invoking Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley
To accompany my romantic escapades 
Into the clouds.

My cloud journey captured as a movie

The tempestuous twirl of my tense mind
Matched perfectly with the colours of thunder
As the greys got greyer and swallowed the blue
I could relate to the tangled truths
And troubling questions with turbulent cues
While the serene blues made way for darker clouds
My feet suddenly dropped on ground
I could feel the soot and dust around
That soon turned into a thunderstorm.

As the celestial spectacle unfolded
The stressful heart contested with the speed of lightening
There I was, trying to untwine
And surrender myself to the mood of nature!
Then it cooled, rained and poured
As the drops soaked me head to toe
As if to pacify and soothe my racing mind
Telling me to gather, compose and be calm
As the clouds will soon fall in line
And the silver lining is yet to be drawn!

Monday, March 21, 2016

The tree and the bulldozer

When I moved into my new flat two years ago
All I could see was a beautiful rockscape at a distance, with many shrubs
And closer home were a few lush green trees
Abode of several birds and a source of shade for many 
I made friends with the one closest to my balcony

This green friend could calm my nerves; as I admired her verdance
She gave all that she could to the needy; for she had so much in abundance
How could I forget an evening when someone lit the firewood underneath 
And prepared a meal as his truck as parked next to her?

As the place became a hotspot for development, all I could hear 
were trucks, tractors, tippers, cranes, bulldozers
How could the trees fend for themselves?
My heart ached to see some of them getting razed to ground
I felt helpless listening to them trampling down
But I was sure that no one will touch my friend
As that piece of land never seem to be in rush for development

Everyday I would make sure to see that no bulldozer was parked near her
As if I could control her destiny
The tree was promptly cut into half

The other half stood lifeless
The plot of land was marked with lines
The architects did their job, fine!

I thought they had some genuine love for green 
As I did see them leave some space near the remaining part of the tree

The bulldozer has a heart, I thought
For it only dug and shoved and its teeth never touched the tree
All monsters can't be so cruel, I consoled myself
But again, that was not to be!

That evening when I returned home
I saw the tree fighting against the mighty razor
When the blades were biting her trunk
When the wheels were crushing her branches, stems and leaves
I could hear only a cry!

And that was my own cry
At the helplessly vulnerable moment of mine
When I saw my mute friend whine
And breathe those lost moments in close confine...
I was the sole witness to a murder in daylight

How easy it is to kill a tree
And why should the killer go scot-free?
Why is it not considered a sin?
And if it can ever be purged 
Then, plant at least five trees for every tree that's killed!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why blogging is serious fun! What I gained from 10 years of blogging

If it hadn’t been for Blogger I wouldn’t have been able to look back at myself, think, laugh, cry, remember, relate and recollect and well…. relive the good, forget the bad and ignore what needs to be ignored. It need not be greatly composed stuff, with wonderful words, creative sentences and flawless grammar and a great display of blogging skills and other blah-blah. Personal blogs are the best tools for spontaneous, natural and authentic self- expressions and  for engaging with people around us. That’s how simple it is – the joy of blogging!

It’s not about counting the number of 'likes', 'comments' or 'shares' on Social Media or even monetizing…blogging is just fun if it’s taken in the right sense and if it is done the right way, in the right spirit. And the best thing about it is there’s no ONE right way:)

It’s left to us how what we want to write, what interests us and believe me it really helps. Wondering how? I’ve gained from blogging in so many ways, if this is an indication of my unconcealed joy of writing and being connected with people, places and the happenings:
  • Helps me in being the real me: sharing my anxieties, hopes, aspirations, fears…
  • Express myself in ways that come naturally to me - even without rhyme or reason
  • Enriched my personal diary by turning it into a delightful digital space
  • Record, document and share those little things our lives are made of
  • Keeps me engaged with hobbies and pursue work-life balance
  • Makes me want to write about those crazily simple things 
  • Helps me relax and recharge after those madly rushed hours
  • Brings the smile back reading the old stuff
  • Makes me really laugh out loud when I translate and read my posts in other languages 
  • Makes me become a better observer and writer and reflect on what’s going on
  • Helps in understanding, discovering and knowing myself better
  • Keeps me excited with new editing tools for pictures, collages and videos
  • Got me continuous cheering from friends and kept me motivated to write
  • Try different things without inhibitions – a bit of poetry and humor as well J
  • Gave me a voice in raising issues and bringing them to the notice of authorities
  • Tells me to live the moment as it is without being critical about it
  • Helped me attempt different ways to write about different things
  • Most important, it tells me that I need not be 'perfect' and shouldn't be over-critical 
When I look at the blog archives it seems more like a writing-graph showing the peaks and troughs closely linked with moments, ranging between high excitement to write like a compulsive blogger and those lethargic jottings that remained on my mobile phone or on note pads and never made it to being a blog post. So much like the ups and downs in any activity that makes it real, credible, natural, organic and from the heart.

Thank you Blogger! You have been my creative companion in myriad moments - in glory and in gloom - and I will certainly continue to inhabit this wonderful digital space and keep on going even when the going gets tough.