Bihar, A Bygone Bonanza…?

A decade ago when I was in the marketing team of an educational institute selling IT courses, the foremost thing we were taught is never de-sell another brand, never show them down but instead talk about what best you can offer and equip them amply with enough information and allowing the customer to completely comprehend and analyse the pros and cons of the different options available in the market, because to convince is marketing and to confuse is sales and there are no shortcuts for marketing, it is an ongoing process.

In the context of BJP’s Bihar debacle whether the voters were well informed or ill informed, irrespective of the education levels and backgrounds and the caste factor it was imperative that the PM was over used, when all that the citizens expected was a local connect with an acute understanding of the ground reality(not that the PM lacks an understanding of the developmental scenario in Bihar) but with a local face missing the BJP certainly missed out on catching up with local mind sets. Modi was a hit in Gujarat because he was a local who knew the inside out there, of course his seamless administrative ability and statesmanship led to his rise in the Loksabha elections but during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the people voted decisively because they could connect with the man, they knew for sure was the right prime ministerial candidate, the man who would rule the country and take it forward plus a clear manifesto of development was largely visible in the backdrop of a successful Gujarat milestone against the corrupt stage the Congress left behind.

But in Delhi and now in Bihar, a local face was strongly missing!

It was evident that banking only on the Modi factor and not establishing a strong and charismatic local face to connect with the local people and dismissing some dismayed differences amongst cadres as minor sparks blew the fumes of the big fall setting a posthumous pyre for the BJP. Of course loose canons like Shatrugan Sinha should either have been tightly hugged or shown the door initially itself. The Manji mantra was as bad as the timing of the cow tantra as the people of Bihar seem to have chewed down the fodder(chara) kutantra.

While the over use of Modi in all the campaigns was not only too relegating for his stature but also implicitly elevated the corrupt trio as developmental messiahs amidst the politically illiterate masses of Bihar who chose the lantern in the age of LEDs. Plus the negative election campaigning and the acerbic jibe war was too unsophisticated to be drafted for a person of Modi’s calibre. Maybe it’s time Modi stayed away from election campaigns as he is now the PM of the country and Amit Shah should realise this and delegate work appropriately. The premature stances by Amit Shah and Ravi Shankar Prasad that Nitish Kumar will resign and walk out at 2pm on 8th Nov was the last nail in the chest of arrogance and over confidence. Remember Amit Shah’s invitation to Arvind Kejriwal for the swearing in ceremony during Delhi elections!

Maybe team BJP should introspect and introspect hard as to why they have failed both in Delhi and Bihar. Perhaps it is the ‘Yuddhakaale Shastraabhyas’ anecdote that the BJP needs to shed along with a few kilos of ego and gear up on the ground as the election season will soon blossom yet again on the murky grounds of UP and Karnataka.

Elections are not won with starry auras and magic wands nor is brand loyalty earned by mere superficial logos but by establishing a strong connect which can be done by creating awareness consistently and continuously in consumable doses because people will only believe in what they see and hear every day. Whether the rationalist was eliminated by the seculars or the pseudo seculars nobody knows but the communal monkey is often saddled upon the ideological ogres, made out by a malevolent media blowing the bugle of intolerance day in and day out until the cryptology of political equations are finally settled, now that the Bihar elections are over and a conducive mandate given to the solemnised seculars hopefully there will be more tolerance across media houses on the intolerance debate.

Nevertheless, team BJP must pull its socks and concentrate on some hard core reforms like Swatcha Media and clean up the media houses by acquiring them and relieving it from the banality of their foreign masters thereby reiterating the ‘Make In India’ concept and also investigate the bank accounts and assets of all the journalists and stamp them clean because like the black money there is a black intelligence that is peddled and embedded in young minds today.

But with the meagre political clout in the Rajya Sabha, the least BJP can do is  identify the Mir Jafars within and contain its internal and external enemies without fanning fanaticisms of any kind and stay focused on endearing the common man of India with some tough and quick delivery on the promises, the benefit of which should be passed on quickly to be felt and remembered by the common man across India because elections might be over but the electorate is waiting and watching!

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Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi Trip

On day 2 we started off from Madurai to Rameshwaram which is a 3.30hours drive of 170kms on NH49, Rameshwaram is 620kms from Bengaluru.

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We reached Raameshwaram around 4 in the evening, parking our car outside the barricaded area in the narrow lanes around the Raamanathaswamy temple we headed straight for the darshan of Rameshwara linga, the presiding deity here. This early evening hour is perhaps the best time for the darshan as the crowds are lot thinner and we had an easy and comfortable darshan.

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Raamanathaswamy temple is the 7th Jyothirlinga and part of the char dham yatra, it is the main attraction in the Ramanathapuram town in the Pamban island apart from the Ramapadam, RamaKunda, Laxmana theertham, Agni theertham and Dhanushkodi.

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After vanquishing Ravana and returning victorious from the battle in Lanka, Lord Rama installed a Shivalinga here on the shores of Rameshwaram to invoke Shiva and rid himself from the Bramhahatya dosha of killing the scholarly brahmana(the one who has attained Bramhagyana) Ravana,.as Ravana was well versed in Vedas and a devout worshipper of Shiva.

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We took a hotel that was just in front of the temple and went around walking in the vicinity that was lined with tiny shops selling a host of sea shells of all sizes and shapes. We walked up to Agni theertham that is just 100 metres from the temple, I was expecting a well, but the sea shore area on the eastern side of the temple, behind this arch is called Agni theertham.

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It is believed that the lord of fire, Agni took a dip here to cleanse himself of the sin of enveloping Seetha devi in flames when she had plunged herself into the fires to prove her chastity to the people after her stay with demon Ravana.IMG_20151022_190603994

We had dinner at a place called Gujarat bhavan that served explicit vegetarian food with no onion or garlic, the food was just okay but was hygienic in comparison to the other hotels in the locality! One other decent hotel to stay somewhat near the temple would be hotel Tamilnadu, it has a good vegetarian restaurant and the hotel is a 15 minute walk from the temple but is close to Agni theertham however we didn’t get a booking here and ended up staying in hotel Ambika.

If you want to stay close to the temple then choices of very good(3star type) hotels are fewer.

The next day morning we woke up to a picturesque sight, we were lucky to capture the sunrise in the backdrop of the sea.

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I had only seen paintings like this earlier but to see the scintillating golden rays of the sun paint vivid shades of crimson on the horizon adding gleam to the holy waters was a precious moment.

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Devotees with metal sticks inserted into their mouths a religious custom

When we stepped out of the hotel the multi layered queue was snaking up to our hotel doors and it began to rain, the surrounding gutters overflowed immersing us in deeper spirituality.  I am deeply saddened to see our holiest places surrounded by filthy unplanned infrastructures and poor administrative works.

 

Agni theertham

Agni theertham

Before entering the temple one is supposed to take a dip at the Agni Theertham(the sea) and then proceed for the other theerthams inside the temple but since the place around Agni theertham had a vile stench of pollution and felt miserable to take a dip we simply sprinkled it on our heads.

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You are required to deposit all your mobiles, cameras outside and purchase a ticket for the teerthasnaan(holy water bathing), you are also required to carry a set of dry clothes to change as you are not allowed to enter the inner sanctum with wet clothes as per Vedic practices. There are changing zones allocated within the temple.

The temple is as old as Ramayana but the structure was expanded in the 12th century over 350years under various rulers.

It is a massive maze of architectural wonder with thousands of pillars and shivalingas with various sculptures of gods and deities depicting different stories and has the longest pillared corridors measuring upto 4000feet. It has 22 fresh water wells, bathing with which expiates one’s sins.

The Theerthams inside the temple are Mahalaxmi theerta, Savithri, Gayathri, Saraswathi, Sethumaadhava theertha, Gandhamadana theertha, Kavatcha theertham, Gavaka theertham, Nala and Neela theerthams, Shanku and Chakkara theerthams, Bramhahathathi Vimochana theertham, Surya and Chandra theertham, Ganga, Yamuna, Gaya theerthams, Siva, Sathyatmatheertha, Sarva and Kodi theerthams.

There is another legend that says that originally sage Pathanjali created 112 theerthams to rid people of their sins by bathing in them, but some say it is only 64 theerthams spread out across the town of Rameshwaram out of which 22 are within the temple precincts itself and the rest are slowly being lost to encroachments and urbanization outside in the temple town.

IMG_20151023_122225327But one nice thing here is, it is plastic bag free and the locals use cloth bags or wrap articles with paper when you buy a trinket, but still we get to see mounds of plastic wrappers and bottles, maybe somebody will soon introduce a metered drinking water kiosk to refill bottles to reduce the wrath of plastics.

We had got into the queue by 8am and finished the darshan only by 11.30am after all the theertha snaan.

We had booked a jeep at 1pm to Dhanushkodi through our hotel.

We quickly finished our lunch and at 1 o’ clock when the sun was at his raging best we boarded our rugged jeep and headed to the ghost town of Dhanushkodi.

It was here that Rama pointed his bow to Nala the vanara who with his army of monkeys built this bridge at Rama’s command to reach Lanka.

When lord Rama prayed to Varuna to pave way in the ocean, the Samudra Deva appeared and with folded hands requested Rama to commission his powerful and talented vanara(monkey) Nala to build this bridge as he was the son of the Vishwakarma, the architect of the universe, and that if he paved way now he might be compelled in future to pave way for others as well. The Samudra deva went on to say that even if Nala threw any of grass, stick or stone into the sea it would float. Hence the Vanara army of Rama built the bridge with floating stones which is today called as Ramasethu or Nalasethu. It was 100 yojanas long and 10 yojanas wide  when constructed as per the Ramayana but today after 1.7million years it is 30kms long and 3kms wide.

Floating stone at Dhanushkodi

Floating stone at Dhanushkodi

A radio carbon dating of this beach testified that it is 1.7million years old which dates around the Tretha Yuga.

Until the 1480AD people used this route but after a devastating cyclone, it was submerged under sea.

One cannot see the Ramasethu with naked eyes from the Indian shores today however it can be seen in the satellite image. From Dhanushkodi, Srilanka is only 30kms by sea.

Although many scientists, historians argue that it is just science, that limestone shoals float because of low density and air bubbles trapped inside the stone, which after some years when the air inside the shoal is released slowly with water seeping in, it sinks and that the whole theory of Rama building floating stone bridge is rubbished but strangely enough the scientists in India have found that there are many black and dense floating stones in Raameshwaram whose physical and chemical properties are like any other huge rock.

Lime stones or pumice are generally spongy, white and light and are found in Volcanic zones but no volcano has been recorded so far in this zone.

NASA image of Ramsethu

NASA image of Ramsethu

In 1966 the Gemini IX space mission had released an image that showed the ancient land connection between the two countries.

NASA released the satellite images of Ramasethu in 2002, and opined that it could be floating coral reefs but it is proven that coral reefs are dense calcium carbonate formations and cannot float.

Many ridicule the belief that monkeys built this masterpiece engineering piece and question how could monkeys build, but don’t we acknowledge Neanderthals or Darwin’s theory of evolution and endorse the fact that man did evolve from the monkeys? Don’t we keep excavating gigantic skeletons from pre historic times?

Today we use cloud computing technologies, I am able to store my weblog writings on air on an American server but what if the world submerges under water tomorrow, how will the future gen know about our technological sophistication? Couldn’t it be that, that in those days Nala and Neela had indeed mastered some exceptional engineering skills to architect the floating bridge 1.7million years ago whose exact proof was washed off with time. There are thousands of sacred Sanskrit texts telling us about Ramayana and Mahabharatha, millions of Indians today have their names after Rama, Krishna and Shiva but I have not found anybody by the name ‘Kamsa’ or ‘Shakuni’ or ‘Ravana’ except Sharukh Khan’s movies! We have millions of Laxmi, Saraswathi, Parvathis amongst us but have you met anybody by the name Shoorpanaka or Tataki or Puthini? There are numerous manuscripts that reiterate that Ramayana and the Ramasethu is our proud history and not mythology.

But then just because I cant read  Chinese can I say that all the Chinese scriptures are bogus?

If Ramasethu is mythology then why did the British cartographer in 1804 name this as Adam’s Bridge? Adam, another mythical character in Islam!!

The reality is that Ramasethu was first mentioned in puranic verses of Valmiki’s Ramayana, the westerners heard about it only in the 9th century when traveler Ibn Kordadbeh referred to Ramasethu as Set Bandhai in his work ‘Book of Roads and Kingdoms’. But in 18th century the British called named it as ‘Adam’s Bridge’! It is well known that during the 18th century India was under the British, who thought that all our scriptures, traditions and practices were inferior and worked against us with the single motto of  divide and rule, so it is evident that the British cartographer chose to name it after Adam, another mythical character in Islam and formally named it Adam’s bridge to pit the Hindus against the Muslims and erase our glorious past

Ironically the UPA government sanctioned the ‘Sethusamudram Project’ that involved dredging of Ramsethu, the historical and sacred bridge in order to establish shorter sea routes for the ships plying between eastern and western coasts of India that have to circle Srilanka. Dredgers worth crores of rupees were procured which strangely broke in the process, the project was a threat to the marine life and the valuable thorium deposits found in the area, dredging this route would throw open the route to international waters creating a security threat and additional burden to the defense forces of India, it might even increase the risk of Tsunamis, since it is not viable economically and ecologically,the project been stalled by the courts after a petition to reconsider the alternative 4 routes that were initially proposed and restore this significant historical and spiritual monument heeding to the sentiments of millions of Hindus.IMG_20151022_154420842

Now back to our trip, we headed to Dhanushkodi, the tip of Pamban island connecting the Mannar island of Srilanka. Dhanush means bow and kodi means end, it is some 18kms from the Rameshwaram temple.

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Sand tracks in the backwaters of Dhanushkodi

Sand tracks in the backwaters of Dhanushkodi

Only jeeps and buses with 4/4 gears can ply here on the bumpy trails of sandy backwaters of Bay of Bengal. It is an 8km drive from the check point. The buses charge Rs.150 per head and allows you to spend 30minutes but the jeep that we took charged 1500 for 3hours from our hotel in Rameshwaram it included the to and fro drive time as well, so more or less we only got an additional 60minutes than the bus passengers. During the 2004 Tsunami, the locals reported that minutes before the Tsunami the waters in Dhanushkodi had receded some 1600feet revealing the submerged areas just before the violent wave came dashing. Earlier there was a train from Madras to Dhanushkodi called the ‘Boat Mail’ that was destroyed in the cyclone.

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The sangam point, where the calm blue waters of Bay of Bengal meets the furious green Indian Ocean is some 4kms walk from here where one can see the tip of the land with an endless expanse of blue green waters is believed to be the exact point where Rama’s army built the bridge.

Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean

In 1964 a devastating cyclone struck the little town of Dhanushkodi and washed away 1800 people along with a passenger train uprooting even the railway tracks. Schools, hospital, post office and the entire village was buried under water, since then the area is identified to be prone to such calamities and is declared a ghost town.

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However the fishermen community still brave it out here and live in thatched settlements amidst the ruins selling a range of sea shell products.

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I had already bought a Spatika linga, some conches in the lanes of Rameshwaram. Spatika is a gemstone made of silicon and oxygen, wearing it is said to bring an electro chemical balance in the body and has positive healing properties on the body. Even conches are of different varieties, I bought a Ganesha Shanka and Mahalaxmi Shanka.

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We could not walk up to the tip of the land as it was a 4kms walk that didn’t seem achievable in the hot sun with kids and the time constraint as we were supposed to come out of the place before 5pm. However we were happy to be on the shores(Dhanushkodi Theertham) where Lord Rama had set his foot

IMG_20151022_151103916We spent some time playing in the blue waters and walked along the serene white shores as the mighty Indian Ocean roared thumping and thwarting furiously against the white sands.

IMG_20151022_151616106You have to come here in the morning and strike a deal with the driver that you spend 3hours exclusively here on the beach else taking a jeep doesn’t make much sense unless you are a big group.

You can see ruins everywhere and spot some broken remains of the railway track.

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Crystal clear Backwater beds en route our drive

But the good news is that the Indian Government is now building a road upto the shores of Dhanushkodi connecting mainland India to its southern east tip so that tourists and pilgrims don’t have to take the tedious bumpy ride on the jeeps.

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On the way back we also visited the Kodanda Rama temple, it is the place where Veebheeshana the brother of demon king Ravana surrendered to Rama. IMG_20151022_162059335

And later he was named the sovereign of the demons of Lanka after Ravana’s killing and crowned the king by Lakshmana at the behest of Rama.

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We had dinner at hotel Tamilnadu, the food was decent.

Gandhamadana hill, Rama Padam found here

Gandhamadana hill, Rama Padam found here

The next day we visited the Gandhamantana Parvata, a small hill where Rama’s foot steps are preserved on a circular rock.

Rama Kunda

Rama Kunda

 Floating Stone

Floating Stone

We then visited Rama Kunda, where Rama took bath after the bloody war. There was a fisherman who was selling the floating stone that he claimed had got it from the Srilankan side. I ended up buying a chunk of it for 200 bucks.

This local site seeing is not much of a distance and can be covered in your own vehicle, the auto guy was demanding Rs.700 for the same but when we drove ourselves it was all very close within a short radius.

Next we visited Laxmana theertham and also visited the temple here

Temple at Laxman thirtha

Temple at Laxman thirtha

We then headed back to our hotel and checked out , had lunch in the vicinity and bid goodbye to Raameshwaram.

Villoondi theertham

Villoondi theertham

En route we saw Viloondi theertham, the place where Rama shot his arrow and dug a sweet water well in the salty sea to quench Seetha’s thirst.

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By 3pm we were driving on the Indira Gandhi road Bridge along the Pamban railway bridge, India’s first sea link.

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We were lucky to see the train cross the bridge, the shore here is bordered by many Shivling like rocks and the spot is worth a stop by.

The craze to view the train run on the sea amongst fellow tourists had led to a mini traffic jam as many stopped by the bridge for some customary photography. The rocks lining these shores look like Shivlings

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That was the end of our Rameshwaram trip and we were then off to Tanjavore.

Road Trip To Madurai

Come October and the travel syndrome steers you involuntarily but this time the school announced that there would be no Dussera vacation and the extra coaching classes began in full swing, life became distressingly monotonous with the 5.30am alarm teasing and taunting my dabbawali demeanour yet again, friends and relatives with teenaged kids welcomed me warmly into their house-arrested havens and enlightened me that the next few years would be like this with a tinge of sadistic smile but the drive_bug itched in the tummy, the camera craved, the kitbag crooned and the sunglasses gaped wondering if I would flinch and clinch to home sweet home. And suddenly there came an SMS saying the school would shut down for now and resume only a week later that left us in an indescribable travel nirvana.

At 9am we planned for a quick tour towards Shimoga, by 10am we thought of Wayanad but by 10.40am we were driving on NH7 to Madurai!

We took the Bangalore- Hosur- Dharmapuri- Salem- Karur- Dhindigul- Madurai route which is a 7hour drive, Bengaluru to Madurai is 450kms and the entire route through NH7 is a splendid experience.

En route Madurai on NH7

En route Madurai on NH7

Unlike Karnataka’s uneven patchy bumpy toll roads the Tamil Nadu highways are a pleasure to drive.

Lined with picturesque lush green fields and thick coconut grooves on the sides the entire stretch is a smooth drift with not even one patchy surface area anywhere from start to end.

We reached late in the evening by 7 ish when the temple town was blurred amidst heavy downpours, with our 4G network down we scrambled through the knotted boards in Tamil and finally managed to get a room in a hotel called Metropole.

Although Madurai is known as the temple town, sadly finding a vegetarian hotel with decent hygienic vegetarian food is a great challenge here.

The next day morning we tied up with an autorickshaw to visit in and around Madurai as parking is a choking hazard in most of the ancient narrow lanes.

North gate view, Meenakshi temple

North gate view, Meenakshi temple

First we headed to the Meenakshi temple which was around 8kms from our hotel and entered from the North gate, technically you are supposed to enter from the eastern gate as it is customary here.

Madurai, is famous for Meenakshi temple, its smooth soft idlis and cotton sarees.

Madurai, the ancient temple town located on the banks of Vaigai river which was the epicentre of culture and art is believed to be more than 3600years old, legend has it that once Indra in order to rid himself of the Bramhahathi dosha came to Kadamba forest in the Pandya kingdom and worshipped the Adi Swayambuhu linga, the powers of which relieved him of his curse of becoming a wanderer. Indra built the Astagaja mantapa by raising an elevated vimaana like structure around the linga to commemorate and show his gratitude, after which the Devas began to worship here.

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Once a trader named Dhananjaya came here to take rest en route his trading expedition, while he was asleep he heard the sounds of clanking bells and saw the Devas worshipping the Adi Swayambuhu Linga. He narrated this to his King Kulashekara Pandya who then built the temple and a town around this lotus shaped mantapa hence the city came to be known as the temple town of Madurai. The current day architecture of 12gopurams was built over by 64 generations in 800years.

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Kulashekara’s son Malayadwaja Pandya, was childless for a long time and besought a heir by performing many yagnas but in vain, then Indra advised him to perform Putrakameshti yaga here in order to be seek a son but during the yagna a little girl with a splendid radiance of virtuousness with 3breasts whose eyes were fish shaped emerged from the yagna kunda, when the king was anxious at the turn of events there was a divine interception from the skies saying that the little girl was an embodiment of Shakthi with the power of 10men and was here to rule. And the man before whom she surrendered in coy and bent her head, seeing whom her 3rd breast would disappear would be her divine consort Shiva himself.

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Meenakshi, the goddess with fish shaped eyes douses all your problems and blesses with her eyes, as she was born from fire she was named ‘Thadaa Dagai Prateur’ she grew up to be a powerful princess who proved to be a valiant ruler and an able administrator of the Pandyan Kingdom,IMG_20151020_113136028  she conquered the three worlds in all eight directions and after conquering Sathyaloka, Vaikunta, Amaravathi she aspired to conquer Shiva’s abode ‘Kailasa’, during the conquest in Kailasa she was mesmerised on seeing Shiva and her 3rd breast vanished,

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she knew at once that he was her divine consort. After marriage they ruled over the Pandya kingdom and are believed to be living here in the Kadamba vana in the form of Meenakshi and Sundareshwar, hence Meenakshi devi is also called Kadambavana Vaasini.

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As you walk through the 1000 pillared mantapa you can see the story of Meenakshi devi depicted in colourful art form across the walls and ceilings, besieged amidst the pillars with puranic engravings lies the Lotus Pond or the Hondavare Kola, the pond from where Indra plucked golden lotuses for worshipping the Shiva Linga. Scholarly writings were tested here by immersing the scriptures in this pond, the meagre quality ones sank and the good ones floated establishing their scholarships.

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The Meenakshi deity is made of emerald and has a diamond nose ring adorned in a gold crown, Meenakshi devi holds a parrot in her hand, it seems that during earlier times the parrots here recited verses praising Meenakshi devi, the parrot is perhaps symbolic of knowledge transfer.

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In the stretch between the Meenakshi and the Sundareshwar sanctum you will find an ancient 3D painting of a Shiva linga on the ceiling, the base spout of the linga will turn towards you from whichever direction you view it.

Golden kalasha of Astagaja matapa

Golden kalasha of Astagaja matapa

The inner sanctum or the garba gudi of Sundareshwar is also called Indra Vimaana as it has 8 elephants, 32 lions and 64 Bhoothaganas and is built as if it is being carried.

The inner sanctum is illuminated only with oil lamps hence viewing the entire figurine is difficult in the mad rush which is ever prevalent here.

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Velliambinataraja: The silver Nataraja is located inside the Sundareshwara sanctum at the entrance of to the main Linga.

The dancing Nataraja here is unique as it stands on the left feet throwing the right foot in the air. King Rajashekaran Pandya who was an expert in 63 out of 64 forms of art was unable to master the art of dance but due to his devotion to the lord he attempted to learn it and realised how painful it was to stand on the right leg hence he requested lord Shiva to shift to his left leg, but the lord didn’t budge, it was when he attempted to offer his head that the lord agreed and shifted on to his left leg.

Mukkurini Ganesha/Pillaiyar/Vinayakar

This 8feet tall Ganapathi idol was found while Thirumalai Nayaka was getting a temple tank dug, ‘Mu-Kkuruni’ means 3 measures, during Ganesh chaturthi the elephant lord is offered a single large Modaka(sweet dish) made with 3 measures of rice(rice sacks).

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Panchamuki Gayathri Devi

Panchamuki Gayathri Devi

There are various mantapas in the temple, In the Kambatthadi mantapa you can see various sculptures depicting stories of Shiva, the monolithic Nandi,

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the dwajastamba, the sculpture depicting Lord Vishnu giving the hand of Meenakshi in marriage to Sundareshwar(Shiva) is marvellous as it depicts different expressions and moods.

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On one side you can also see idols of Agni Veerabhadra and Agora Veerabhadra the two demon commanders of Shiva who fought Daksha while on the other side of the entrance you can see Shiva doing his Tandava.

IMG_20151020_123006140 Even Gods and Goddesses had fights:

Shiva in Oordhva Tandava poseParvathi in Chandekeshwari formOnce Shiva and Parvathi had a dance challenge, while dancing Shiva’s earrings fell on the ground but he didn’t stop dancing instead he lifted the earring with his toes and put it on performing the Oordhva tandava step swinging his leg in 180 degrees posture which is normally not possible for women to perform hence Parvathi was annoyed and took up her Chandikeshwari form, in order to soothe her burning anger the devotees burn lamps in front of her and seek her blessings.

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The temple is spread across 15 acres with 12 gopurams, the colourful outer towers with 9 storeys each form the land marks of Madurai amongst them the southern tower is the tallest at 170feet with 1511 stucco dolls each tower has many magnificent idols depicting different tales. There are totally some 6825 pillars in this temple.

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It is terribly hot in the morning so if you looking for some good shots of the external architecture it is best to visit the temple in the evening. You will need to spend a minimum of 2hours here.

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We had hired a guide for the temple tour for Rs.300 but most of the information he gave was incorrect and half-baked but it still helps as the temple is vast and you will not know where and what to see but if you have ample time then you could read through the story and leisurely count the number of pillars and ascertain the numbersJ.

Thiruvalai Nayakaar's Palace

Thiruvalai Nayakaar’s Palace

After lunch we visited the Nayakar’s Palace which is built in an Indo-Italian style but it was a big disappointment to see the plain sober architecture buried in pigeon poop and unkempt ambience after a splendid architectural extravaganza at the Meenakshi shrine.

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An artist at the Nayakar palace

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Artist’s work at Nayakar palace

By 3 o clock in the afternoon we reached the Tirupurukundrum Muruga temple, pronouncing which was like pronuncing ‘Albuquerque ‘.

automadurai

The temple opened only by 4pm, the whole vicinity was crowded with locals and many Aiyappa devotees thronging the place and sleeping all over the outer temple premises hence we chose to while away time in the auto itself.

It is a huge temple with Muruga as the main deity, Muruga or Karthikeya who married Indra’s daughter Deivamaaye, gave darshan to his devotees in his bridegroom’s avatar here.

Thirukundrum Muruga temple Madurai

Thirukundrum Muruga temple Madurai

The government employed priests here are an embarrassment to spirituality.

By now the kids were growing restless with our overdose of religiousity hence we skipped the Alaigar Kovil temple and Maariyamman teppukoolam.

Gandhi Museum, Madurai

Gandhi Museum, Madurai

Lastly we visited the Gandhi museum which houses many rare pictures of Gandhi and some of his belongings and letters. The complete revolting scenario that existed during the pre-independence era is exhumed in detail with various pictures.

Writings at the museum

Writings at the museum

The museum also displays the blood stained loin cloth of Gandhiji because it was in Madurai that Gandhiji adopted the loin cloth after seeing the peasants.

By now we were exhausted and also it was closing time for the museum, the auto guy dropped us at the hotel and by default demanded extra as the time was a little extended because of the wait at the temple.  This was end of day2.

Inspired by Nayantara Sehgal MAN RETURNS RETURN GIFT AFTER 25 YEARS

Inspired by Nayantara Sehgal, who returned her Sahitya Academy Award as a mark of protest in the wake of growing secularism in India a man on Monday decided to return a return gift given to him 25 years ago. The man has tweeted that he had silently tolerated the hangover of the ugly birthday party and brooded over the cheap return gift that was shoved upon him 25years ago that didn’t add any value to his shelf today. On being contacted he related and relived the horror of having to eat only horribly healthy food that was served in the birthday party by the host, who once upon a time used to splurge his guests in a juniper of junkies, but now that the party is over and the palate of patriarchal prowess has become puny he is forced to take this extreme step of returning the return gift as it is the one and only way left to grab eyeballs for some extra cake.

Taking cue from the ex-cake eater, kids in a neighbouring birthday party staged a protest by returning the return gifts to mark the end of boring birthdays where the host had not served their favourite pasta and pizza but instead simply forced them to have veg spring rolls and fresh orange fruit juice. Tinku a class 2 student, shared with us that he is now contemplating to return the return gifts as he now realises that it was given to compensate for the bad food served.

The kids were also quick to express their dissent at the bizarre choice of cheap plastic stuffed in a silly goodie bag and given away gloriously. This uproar has taken the country by storm so much that more and more children across the country are inspired and instigated to return the return gifts. Parents and party organisers are devising newer means to attract the uprising young minds while Doreamon sticker sellers and Chinese Crayons companies are now keeping tight lipped on the turn of events even as rumours suggest that they are meticulously exploring newer options to sustain the failing markets. The opposition was quick to demand that the Government give compensation for such boring birthday bashes in order to take stock of trending hashtag #ReturningReturnGifts.

This post was also published on Firstpostfakingnews

Rhythm of Rationalism

Every time a debate brews on the importance of freedom of speech, it conclusively boils down to classifying some as radicals and some as rationalists when the point of contention is who decides who is rational or radical?

Often times, those who advocate their beliefs in their choicest abuses in the name of freedom of speech are endorsed as rationalists and those who question and refuse to acclaim the same are termed radicals.

As per the Indian constitution of India under section 153(A) and section 295(A) of the penal code, any expression written or spoken, by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, or commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquility and under section 295(A) of the Indian penal code whoever insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of any class of citizens of India, . . . shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

And MM.Kalburgi’s statements amounted to all this and more but nevertheless he was a pronounced rationalist! The murder of MM.Kalburgi at whose hands we do not know but is definitely sad and deserves criticism but to project him as a rationalist is perhaps irrational as most of his advocacies were open blasphemy, here is a link that shows how radical and hate mongering his speech was..

in which the noted literati mindlessly goes on to say that it is superstitious to worship an idol and casually jokes that another Kannada writer _ Dr.U.R.Ananthamurthy who is also a Jnanapeetha awardee, had once urinated on an idol of God(Shiva) but no adversarial effects had harmed him, Mr.Kalburgi almost uses Anathamurthy’s outrageously anti-Hindu  stance as a proven theorem to justify his expressions and belief that idol worship is superstitious and meaningless.

Incidentally or co-incidentally these literary laureates are also awarded the most prestigious literary awards of the nation.

Isn’t it communal or hate brewing to ridicule other’s beliefs pointblank? Would Kalburgi or his likes ever question the custom of stoning the shaitaan or the circumcision or will they advocate English education in Madrasas? Will they poke their nose in Christian customs like thanks giving or the very concept of an altar when they don’t believe in idolatry? Will they question the Benny Hinns breeding rampantly in our backyard, everywhere in India today?

Obama receiving the pope becomes glorious breaking news and protocol but our PM is branded as communal.

In modern day India, a hateful expression is often packaged by the literati as unconventionally bold and creative, such creative fodder is often pushed in main stream media as liberalism and modern thinking. One such staunch example of contemporary times is the MF Hussain case, where his paintings glared with disrespectful travesty to ridicule and belittle Hinduism but our media termed M.F.Hussain as creative, free thinking, often such superlative adjectives are coined to honour the brave crusaders of creativity who are often in quest for free thinking and pick on dharma ironically only Hindu dharma at large.

Below are MF Hussain’s creativity, wonder why he didn’t choose his faith for inspiration!!

Nude Sita sitting on Ravana

Nude Sita sitting on Ravana

Goddess Parvathi in the nude

Goddess Parvathi in the nude

A nude bramin with a fully clothed muslim king

A nude bramin with a fully clothed muslim king

Nude Goddess Laxmi sitting on Ganesha

Nude Goddess Laxmi sitting on Ganesha

A pen is mightier than the sword they say, so it is inherently important that a writer/jounalist who plays a vital role in shaping mind sets and streaming opinions in a society be sensitive to that very society’s beliefs yet bring out the truth from all perspectives without any prejudice.

There is an uproar that freedom of speech is threatened and intolerance to rationalism is growing but what really is rationalism? Who really is a rationalist?

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In this news debate video Arnab is clearly allowing more time to the so called activists and rationalists but interrupts and cuts down Rahul Eashwar and Indira’s time but when Indira is forced to resort to the same tactics as Arnab to make herself heard he accuses her of interrupting when in the first case he never gave her a chance to completely express her views.

This is the kind of rationalism that exists today and it is almost fashionable to witch hunt Hindus beliefs. I am amazed why Arnab didn’t call the Owaisis for a rational debate!!

Although India is a Hindu majority, our constitution says we a secular country where there is equal respect for people of all faiths and beliefs but how rational is this tweet from this rational journo nikhil wagle's tweets

It is because of such consistent and sustained maliciousness that today Indian communities remain divided with hatred for each other, on one hand the dalits in the country get reservation and all hell breaks loose for achieving social equality but on the other hand they merrily vilify the merit class in their free run for freedom of speech, ironically all those who spew venom against the merit class are self proclaimed rationalists. In fact liberalism today is synonymous with hating the Bramins community and demeaning Hinduism.

We have all heard of Narendra Dabholkar, an atheist who asked for the anti superstition bill, he was acclaimed as a rationalist again, he was also awarded Padmashri posthumously for his social activism but nobody knows about Sanal Edamaruku who also fought against superstitions prevailing in the Church, his investigated report about a crucifix at ‘Our Lady of Velankanni’ church in Mumbai dripping with water from the feet, indicated that the dripping was caused by capillary action from a clogged drain but in April 2012 the Catholic Church in Mumbai filed a blasphemy complaint under Section 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code in several police stations around the city against him and he was forced to flee to Finland to avoid arrests but interestingly the Indian media never uttered a word about this incident.

Ideally rationalism is the theory of believing with logical reasoning without any prejudices or favoritisms but in this quest for intellectual reasoning it is also imperative to keep in mind the fact that my truth and my logic could be different from yours, it is important to respect others faiths and beliefs, because when you cross this thin line and cannot differentiate between a hate speech and free speech and resort to judgmental accusations, derogatory statements, degradation of other beliefs then there is no more reasoning left to qualify one as a rationalist, in fact he ceases to be one and is actually a hard core radical fringe element disguised and glorified as a liberal.

But thanks to the social media as it often blows up these volatile rhythms of rationalism loud and clear.

Mumbai’s hens and goats file petition in change.org

Enamoured by the hashtags of the meat ban Mumbai’s hens, goats and cows are contemplating to file a petition against KFC in change.org, the leader of the Gau sena cried foul against the continuous racism and step motherly treatment extended towards them and questioned the explicit favouritism shown towards the ‘save tiger’ campaigns when their kith and kin were being executed day in and day out.

They demanded that the Government set up a hen rights department as a measure to officially address their grievances throughout the year and thanked Arnab Goswami for raising this issue after almost 40years and hinted that they would send a hen right activist on the panel next time if invited.

Since they come from the weakest strata of the animal society and are also often ill-treated, the cattle class is now demanding a reservation quota wherein they will not be culled for the next 50years until they establish themselves and multiply in millions and are treated at par with creamy status animals like dogs, tigers and spiders for whom even using harsh terms amounts to cruelty and attracts harsh penalties. A few young rebels questioned our team as to how would Mary go to school if there were no lambs and what would our children sing in school?

Taking cue from this even the buffaloes of Bihar have condemned the incident and expressed deep outrage at the decades of malnutrition prevailing among them because of the missing case of the fodder.

Inside reports suggest that they are also contemplating to file a case on the PETA activists for all their pseudo sympathies towards animal rights when in reality they are being ethnically cleansed.

This post was also published in Faking news

From Bapu to Asaram Bapu

Whether or not Asaram Bapu is guilty or a victim of vilification I do not know, but surely his case has been going on in the courts from the last 2years without any conclusive evidence even after our enthusiastic media picked up his files before the courts did but today we easily see him as a bogus baba who, disguised in his Karmic attributes secretly sought and exploited carnal favours from his bewildered bhakts.

Asaram Bapu claims that he is not guilty and that he is made to pay a price for voicing out against the Gandhis, but in today’s world where the loudest loathe becomes truth we tend to believe everything instantly at face value in the current context of a dissipated scenario that surrounds us, where if you spoke for him you are branded a right winger and if you spoke against him you are a leftist but in all this furore of the left vs the right is there really any scope for a rationale debate?

The words Bapu and all this fuss about ashrams takes me back in time but will we ever dare introspect the truth behind our tall legacies or lie gacies of hypocrisies?

In India and elsewhere the very term ‘Gandhiji’ is seen as synonymous with honesty and truthfulness, a portrait of the Mahatma is always hung in all police stations, legal and educational institutions, in fact a whole nation is taught early in life to inculcate and exude the Gandhian way of non-violence and truthfulness, he is still the star in all our freedom struggle commemorations and our academics.

In that very spirit of Gandhiji to seek truth and divulge some rationale objective views in order to understand the father of our nation I delved deep and read his biographies, scanned many journals and read various bits and bytes about the Mahatma, who with his penchant for experiments be it with life or non-violence, vegetarianism, truth or with celibacy itself Gandhiji comes out as a split personality to me.

We have all read about Gandhi for his ideals, for his Ahimsa or non-violence but what we did not know was that it was the same Ahimsavaadi who pledged to become a recruiting agent and rain Indian soldiers upon the British royal empire acknowledging their sovereignty over us in bargain for a little triumph card of goodwill and was instrumental in extending our unconditional support to the British masters during the World War where at least 2lakh Indian soldiers died in the bloody battlefield.

While his Quit India movement and his satyagrahas are seen as robust facades of freedom struggle, most written communications sent by Gandhiji during this period are seeming reassurances of his loyalty to the British empire and fragile appeals often in bargain for our compromise on one thing or the other, his Dandi march, his anti-apartheid stands, we have read his merrier sides but the murkier side that is darker than the many conundrums of sexual abuse that we hear today left me wondering if Bapu was any different from what Asaram Bapu is made out to be today?

In his ‘experiments of truth’ he writes that he regrets not being by his ailing father’s side because of his intense carnal desires to be with Kasturba that night when his father breathed his last, he later tries diets that reduces such desires, he advocates to practice celibacy even while he is married to Kasturba but strangely after her death he sets newer goals and admits in his writing that he is experimenting with young girls by sleeping naked with them to arrest his carnal desires.

Abha and Manuben the two grandnieces who were regarded as Gandhi’s walking sticks to whom Gandhiji often clung to in all his freedom marches, were in reality guinea pigs or course material for his self-proclaimed experiments of Bramacharya. He writes about bathing together with his secretary’s attractive sister Sushila Naayar and claims that he shut his eyes while she bathed and also talks about sleeping with women of his ashram who often vied with each other for this bedside honorarium.

If at all our constitution was written a little early then I wonder what criminal sedition charges, articles and sections these experiments would attract. For a moment I shuddered to think …what if Arnab Goswami was a contemporary of Gandhiji then!

In ancient times when the sages wanted to conquer their minds over their bodies they meditated under harsh hostile conditions of the Himalayas or in some forests renouncing all worldly pleasures but Gandhi wrote his own rules for Bramacharya, in his quest to seek an unconventional spirituality behind closed doors in the afterhours of a socially and politically over active life did Gandhi not physically, emotionally and psychologically abuse those vulnerable young girls?

In one of the diaries of Manuben Gandhi, discovered recently, it reveals that she came to him an orphan at the age of 12 and ever since then he is like a mother to her, at the age of 18 Manuben was sleeping naked with the 77year old Gandhi for all his bramacharya experiments. Although she says that she sees it as a pious experiment she also notes that her diaries were signed by Gandhi personally each night.

Rhonda Brynes’s “The Secret” says that thoughts make a person, if you keep saying I should not spill the milk, you are invariably attracting that thought of spilling the milk and will end up spilling the milk.

It is hard to digress that a great personality like Gandhi did not realise this simple truth and in his quest for experiments he had knowingly or unknowingly jeopardized innocent lives around him.

Gandhi’s secretary, Pyarelal mentions that Gandhi cared for Manuben’s education, food, dress and sleep so much that he supervised her every aspect and even shared his bed with her, if a girl’s mind is innocent then she will not be embarrassed to sleep with her mother.

This is same as saying a rape victim invites the rapists with her dressing sense!

But the contentious point here is no mother would ever ask her 18 year old to sleep naked next to her and bathe and massage her body.

Now if Gandhi was reading and signing her personal diary notes each night then there is little scope to believe that she dared to write the truth. She died at the age of 40 silently somewhere without making any furore on Newhour, without the aid of any women empowerment clout but my fears are what if the Bapus of today claim to follow these Gandhian path and experiments? Will we just brush it aside saying every great man has some kind of kink or will we extend the same motherly theory and make Mahatmas out of the current day Bapus or will we question what it takes to be a real Mahatma?

Digging up history will often leave you branded as a right wing or left winger today in India but a wise quote by Voltaire says “To learn who rules over you simply try to find out who you are not allowed to criticize”!

Attaching a few online reference links

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/mahatma-gandhi-experiment-sexuality-manuben-discovered-diaries/1/278990.html

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/excerpts-from-manuben-diaries-mahatma-gandhi/1/278953.html

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/excerpts-from-manuben-diaries-bapu-mahatma-gandhi/1/278974.html

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/excerpts-from-manuben-diaries-mahatma-gandhi-pyarelalji/1/278969.html

writingcave

The Mukerjees Saga……

The Indrani Mukerjee case has been running successfully all over the Indian media ever since its release from the past one week, even as the audience are still trying to decipher where really would this investigative needle point to, whose horse shit will the media really scathe out and to whom will it be a major blow to in the end this multi starrer mega movie is only getting more and more speculative by the day which seems to have sent Ekta Kapoor into a tizzy and Kapil’s comedy now looks like a horror show. Jasleen Kaur and Hardik Patel are biting their nails in a corner wondering how their trending hash tags were consumed off so soon by the Mukerjees.

While a leading daily reported “ Indrani is being served Chai Poa for breakfast in jail”, Radhe maa heaved a sigh of relief and the FTII students decided to draw an inspiration or two and infer from this Mega movie making skills which seems to be playing as if there is nothing beyond this for Indians to watch and all Indians are more or less as immoral as it is programmed to be. The Bihar and Bengaluru polls can go to hell, who cares if the Nifty fell or if the onion prices rose, who cares if POK wants to be part of India or if Palmyra is razed out, who cares if US funded the ISIS or if Bihar is ruled by Laalu or Pappu but isn’t Sheena such a pretty face??

BBMP Results Bhagya

Bengaluru has been gaping with potholed corridors of corruption, stinking in the mounds of garbage piles and pending rat eaten files, our hard earned money was pitched into vote bank bhagyas while we suffered the Durbhagya of a never ending metro rail work convoluting into myriad and terrible traffic woes, the arrogance in the fair investigation of the mysterious death of an honest IAS officer DK Ravi was perhaps the death knell the Congress chose to ignore, the secularly casteist census strategy to divide us further, the BBMP’s notorious building demolition spree, farmers suicides, froth filled inflammable lakes, harassing the non-congress electorates without Kaveri water and non-issuance of Katha forgetting that it was that very electorate that had swapped the BJP with Congress remorselessly a few years back coupled with all that negative anti national pyjama politics in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have driven the people to give a responsible mandate which should keep the Congress on their toes for the 2017 elections and do some ground work.

The BBMP polls might have decisively ended with people vociferously voicing their choice but some people will never learn….

This was the secular tone on today’s socialist newspaper

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This is the age of social media, superfast with intelligent inference, gone are the days of rigid hero worships and brand loyalty, ye public hai ye sab jaanthi hai gone are the ‘karenge ya marenge’ times….it is ‘Karo ya maro’ time now and also  an auspicious time for some hard core introspection on your secular credentials instead of refusing to see that the emperor is really stark naked. All play and no work makes Jack a really dull dud head!

 

CASTEing Couch

Japan recently commemorated its 70years of the Hiroshima incident, lakhs of people were killed, their economy crashed and the developmental works of many decades was decimated but today Japan is the second largest developed economy and the third largest in the world in terms of nominal GDP, a world leader in electronics and the fourth largest purchasing power, a member of G7 and has steered ahead with competitiveness and innovation even with no natural resources and an aged population. Now contrast this with India, like Japan even we celebrated and commemorated the 70 years of freedom but our parliamentarians are still struck with pyjama politics and struggle to pass a GST bill.

We are the only country in the world that castigates itself with caste and take pride in reeking with reservation quotas, 90% of our schools are Government run since last 70years but reservation rules over resourcefulness so much that even the 10% of private schools left are sucked up to for another 25% charity (RTE) to elite socialism that we garlanded ourselves with in the guise of seeking equality. Professional courses, public sector jobs are inflicted with reservations not on financial backwardness but social backwardness, but who decides who is social backward and how can politicos ascertain the benefits of rationing resources when majority of them and their brethren seek medical aid and education abroad? Who decides social backwardness when majority of merit students are socially ostracised from the country’s main stream education and employment sectors? Who decides backwardness when food growing farmers are evicted into cities to wash dishes at Pizza hut? Our intellectuals are forced to boot polish western economies while the socialists’ chest beat about secularism and continue to castigate and dissect the society into various castes and sub castes. The diversity that we were once proud of is vilified out of proportion and a bane today with meaningless reservations and conservations.

Reservation is all about rationing availability with employability they say but all that has been rationed is the country’s economic and developmental prospects.

The Bollywood might be suffering with casting-couch but our socialists and even our constitution suffer from caste-couch, When skills have no values why not all the secularists and socialists and those seeking reservations take an austere pledge of parity that they will only employ and seek services from the most backward reservation candidates, they will send their children to Government schools and also get married to the most backward and oppressed tribal folks of the country and go under the knife with the lowest calibre medicos to promote egalitarianism.

The Vernas or the Castes were defined by the nature of the job a person did but today the job is defined by the caste you belong to. With the new caste of socialism clogging the clouds of reasoning, will the Government have the guts to evict this rut called reservation?

Kavade Aata, traditional games of India

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As a child I always wanted to grow up very fast but now I yearn for a little hallucination of those wonderful times of innocent bliss that still lingers fresh on my mind and secretly somewhere in the heart of hearts I refuse to grow up.

It still feels like yesterday that I prayed and waited for the evening power cuts which served as a bonus playtime adding a furore of fun in the dark, playing catching the thief under the moonlight. The venue for this sport was a bewildering under construction house in the neighbourhood that worked like a Takeshi’s castle for us with no doors or windows, and just below the uncovered balcony of the first floor was a large mound of sand that was a perfect ground for our adventurous high jumps. No it was not as scary as it sounds today! It was truly fun filled when half a dozen of us jumped on to the sand mounds burying ourselves knee deep to catch the thief. This game was the vice versa of ‘running and catching’ where all and sundry chased one person instead of one person catching all others. So, the thief had to be a good runner _alert, flexible and really quick to trick all and escape but yet follow the boundary limits.

There was another game called four corners that required a minimum of 5 players, we drew 4 circles in four corners to form a large illusory square with a 8feet distance between one circle to another. Each corner is a home to one player, if there is an extra player, two people can stand as one team in one home/circle, but if this team gets out others will have a tough time swapping homes with two dens chasing them. The den is required to stand in the centre and wait for players to swap homes, while they try to swap and are out of their homes, the den has to catch them, the one who is caught first is the new den.

Structured classes had not monopolised our little lives then, toys and gizmos were unheard of, and the evenings were completely at our disposal to explore. Those were the days when natural clay was available in sand heaps and we accumulated our own playdoh and felt as if we had earned it, those were the days when  trees were also part of our games, in fact we played ‘mud or stone’ as ‘mud or tree’, the moment the den said ‘tree’ we quickly clung to the nearest tree around and hung their like monkeys, many houses had their own swings with a rope tied to the tallest tree in their courtyards, parents didn’t have to queue up like guinea pigs with their latest smart phones to swing their little ones high in the air.

Rush hour was quite an unceremonious term then as the only place we rushed to was the bathrooms lest waters would be emptied, heading to school was another sport, kicking a stone the farthest was the goal, as we raced to strike such goals we would have reached school in no time, of course with a brutal bruise on the shoes which often left my mother wondering how could the shoes wear off so fast! Unaware as she was, that we were only perfecting the leg eye coordination by playing golf with our legs!

Fortunately for us, life skills and motor development skills were imbibed naturally in simple everyday interactions with life directly. We were never forced into any classes that didn’t interest us. In fact it was the other way round where we had to pester our parents to put us into a particular class if we so desired. Discarded cigarette packs were our pokemon cards and Giant Robot on Doordarshan was the coolest thing on TV.

Without any structured classes and without meticulous parental pokes we were unknowingly empowered to be imaginative and empathetic, we connected and interacted and most importantly we learnt to take decisions and became more responsible as we relied more on the biological alarm instead of any digital alarm or parental reminders.

Not that life is any lacklustre for children today, in fact they are more smart, bold and inquisitive than we were but certainly they lack the free space and free time to ponder about the different facets of life.

One thing kids are missing out is the fun that traditional games offer in the simplest form, knowingly or unknowingly we pressurise our kids to play only those games that we think adds value ignoring how thoughtfully and cost effectively our traditional games were designed.

One game that I would like to rediscover, reconnect with and pass it on to my kids is the ‘Kavade Aata’ or the game of cowrie shells. It is looked upon as an old fashioned game but it is the most fascinating and fun-filled game that combines interaction, concentration, dexterity of fingers and hand eye coordination.

kavade5

It is an indoor game that can be played across all ages be it rain or shine. This game is already endangered and will soon become extinct hence I shall quickly run you through the game and its nitty-gritties.

You need 4 kavades or cowrie shells of the same size.

kavade2

Take them in a fist and toss all four in the air and quickly turn your palm backside up and manoeuvre your hand quickly to have all 4 shells land on the back of your palm.

Kavade

You might get one, two or three shells on your hand, now toss it in the air again and catch them back intact, each shell caught adds 4points to your score, if you caught all 4, then you have got 16points in one go. Each shell caught is referred to as ‘gicchhi’.

If you drop them while you toss, the turn passes to the next player, if you have caught at least one of them then you continue the game by tossing the shells on the floor.

kavade6

If you get a ‘chauka’ where all 4 shells open up like this above, then all the players should quickly try to grab as many shells as they can, each shell grabbed gives 4points.

Then the player pitches again.

If you get all 4 shells closing on their back then you score 12 points at one go, it is called ‘Bhaara’.

kavade1

If you get two shells open and two closed, you have to move aside the open ones without disturbing the other shells. Now strike one shell against the other like in carom, if you strike, you score a point, if you miss, the turn passes to the others.

kavade8

If one shell opens up and the rest of the three closes on the back then you have to identify and strike the nearest pairs without touching the other shells, one point for every right strike.

If three shells open up and one is closed, then it is called a ‘mooshi’ and you now pass the turn to the other. If you get a mooshi initially itself, then you are duckout!

kavade7

If you drop the shells while you are tossing them in the air at the beginning of the game then the turn passes to the next player. This is how I played with my grandmother of course there are many other versions to it.

This simple game of sea shells is a soul scintillating one when played with near and dear ones amidst gleeful cackles and the clanking sounds of the cowrie.

This post is written for the #BachpanWithFlinto blogger contest in association with Women’s Web.

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Will Indians ever learn to wait in a queue?

You are soaring over the skies at 35000feet drifting amidst the expanse of loosely knit bales of clouds, there is empty space all around you making you feel you are the only one beaming beneath the golden rays and then suddenly there is an announcement from your captain that the flight will shortly land, and within minutes you experience a tumultuous uproar around you not because of any external roughage but the internal rage and urge of fellow passengers to get out first, especially if it is a flight full of joyous explicitly emotional Indians.

A few years back I was the privileged one to encounter such overwhelming gestures of a hurried frenzy which turned out to be quiet a horrid one for me. I had just dozed off at the end of a weary flight with a sick child with me, just then suddenly a heavy hand bag crashed on my head almost breaking my neck as a fellow passenger was in a great hurry to unload and get set even when the plane was still moving on landing.

This is a killer instinct embedded in most Indians _ it’s called the “me first, no matter what!” syndrome.

You head to the conveyor belt your luggage is not doing ringa ringa roses yet and you almost want to choke that moron who put your bag last, you head to the taxi stand, your intolerance factor gets rising and you wish you could have had the first taxi at your disposal. So far so good, then you head on to the road that is raging with rebellious road revelers who are all smitten by the fury of great hurry and seem to say ‘me first’ so much that one can be inspired to make a new video game on surviving the Indian traffic.

You head to a restaurant and you will find many glorious well-dressed hungry beggars who will gape and inch towards you with every spoonful that you empty eyeing to lay siege to your seat, this is because we don’t trust the queue system as all that we are left with now is the push and rush system.

At the bus stop and in the bus you have to apply Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, sweaty armpits, elbowing passengers welcome you but you have to fight the brutes and fight them hard until you get back the change from the conductor who usually absconds to the far end just before you have to get down first!

At the billing counter, people will click their tongues and curse you for making a detailed shopping list and say ‘arre bhaiya hamara sirf dhohi item hai’! Hamara pehle bill kar do!

At the parent teacher meeting you will get shoved sophisticatedly by educated brutes who otherwise share all possible moral values and positivity in their virtual social worlds.

At the wedding reception too, the more important ones bypass this trivial tail of travesty that the whole event has reduced you to and all you can do is stand tall on your stilettoes and curse your luck while your eyes scan if you knew somebody ahead in the queue.

At the park, at the clinic, at the result announcement, at the traffic signal, at the air show, at the cinema ticket counter, at the railway station, hotel, metros you name it and we know how to simply elbow them out, we know how to get there first.

If you have climbed a local train in Mumbai, if you have driven on Avenue road in Bengaluru and walked without getting hit on Agra’s narrow roads then you can even trick death or drive in hell and still be first in the line!

Any those silly westerners think they will issue driving licenses to us Indians who can zip zap zoom whichever way we want?

Now of all these queue breakers the most outrageous and offensive are the devotional geeks who seem convinced that the more they push the more devotional you get, the more you elbow, the closer the salvation. The harder the Darshan … the more Paapa Parihaara it is! Bigger the mad rush, higher is the spiritual significance!

Time and again we hear about stampedes in religious places but neither the shrine administrations nor the government neither the religious heads nor the devotees at large give any thought about it because we are never taught and will never learn to wait in a queue.

Maybe the religious heads should really make earnest appeals to pilgrims to follow this basic need to wait in a queue patiently! The government should simply get rid of the Hundi system as it is because of the greed to fill these Hundis controlled by state governments that unsuspecting and uncontrolled numbers of devotees are sandwiched into a stuffy wait! The significance of an auspicious day should be explained and perhaps could be extended to the whole month so that people don’t end up rushing at the same time.

Customs are made in context to contemporary situations, 50 years back people in South India donated the Nava Dhaanyaas and some goodies to the married ladies all packed in a wooden winnowing tray(marada baagina) but today when no woman uses this traditional method of winnowing and in this age where we buy cleaned and packed stuff, how relevant is a wooden tray?

I am certainly not questioning the ritual but the obsolete mode of practice?

I live in an apartment that houses 1200 houses but only with one swimming pool now, imagine if all 1200 with their families adding up to some 3000 were to come and jump into the pool at the same time, then there is bound to be confusion and chaos, so it is about rationing and making optimal utility of a facility available with utmost regard for everyone in stake.

But today in spite of most shrine administrations earning crores of rupees there is little regard for the sanity of spiritual sanctity or sanitation and almost no hope for crowd management techniques.

With no proper regulations, where all rules are relaxed for the rich and powerful,commoners are stuffed like petty fillings in the swelling columns of overflowing devotion to brim up the pots of offerings.

With no stipulated control on the total number of people a place can hold and no limitations set, are we really reminiscing the spirituality in us for real?

Back then a south Indian would be more than happy if he visited Rameshwaram in his lifetime but today with the ease of connectivity and affordability the list is only getting longer.

The last time I went to Tirupathi, Nathadwaara, Vrindaavan or Amritsar, with my little one clinging on to me these thresholds of spirituality meant to evoke the humaneness in us thrust me into an endless wait amidst unruly harrowing push systems the crowds resorted to where the decency to decipher spirituality is thrown into thin air as if only the robust and mighty could make it to the finishing line. Such was the insane pulling and pushing that I only hoped and prayed to god that I got back home intact in one piece with family and with a little bit of spirituality still left in me because following a queue system is a distant dream for Indians to accomplish unless there is some very stringent law adopted to control crowds and heavy penalties levied on the administration who mindlessly allow lakhs to gather when the place cannot even hold thousands.

A Thank You Letter To Kareena Kapoor

When the country is raging with writing open letters how can I lag behind so I decided I will write but a thank you letter, that too to somebody distant from the word-ly and worldly affairs but distinguished as a sizzling hot item number.

Disclaimer: The term item number here does not in any way mean a listicle number of the provisional items that you need to buy while getting back home!

Dear Bebo,

Recently my heart skipped a beat when my hubby declared that we would be watching a Salman Khan movie alongside Kareena! Now since most reviews did not reveal to me how much you had revealed yourself and I could not afford to watch a movie twice to decide if it is appropriate for kids or not because nowadays a person carrying outsourced popcorn into a cinema theatre is seen as someone smuggling gold into a mall which if confiscated will be deported to the dustbins and will cost me a bomb if I have to buy them from the mall, then what say about the tickets!

Okay now coming back to the topic, in the current worldwide scenario where Indian Cinema is rated as the most sexist against women where our liberals have raised the bar of sex appeal for Indian women in the name of creativity and freedom, an ‘under parental guidance’ tag in the Indian scenario is still under-defined and unheard of. So for a parent like me who has to worry even when kids watch a news program, sports or cartoon channel that are usually packed with many obscene anchors and ads playing content unsuitable for kids, your characterization in those beautiful salwar-kameezs was very relatable and refreshing for a change.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for wearing decent clothes covering all your valuable assets, we never got curious about your body throughout the movie of Bhajarangi Bhaijaan we were only curious about the story thankfully.

I thank you from my soul as I did not have to hang my head in shame or embarrassment while watching it with kids and family at any point of time in this movie.

I thank you for believing in yourself that you can actually carry yourself extremely well even while you are fully clad.

I thank you for believing in your acting skills than body flaunting skills.

I thank you for choosing a sensitive role and not a glamorous role.

For a word buff like me, glamour means just a style quotient but today it is deceptively  used for packaging obscenity as a cool commodity.

And finally I thank you for believing in equality in its true sense and covering yourself entirely in such cold snowy mountains at par with your male counterparts.

All in all we enjoyed watching this movie and you did make an impact even with your short presence if not with short and hot pants.

With Love

An affected parent

 

Stung by Shashi’s speech

Shashi Tharoor’s speech at the Oxford Union with all his sophistication went viral and even got congratulatory gestures from the Prime Minister Modi, it was almost like Akshay Kumar gunning the villain down at point blank range in Holiday without lifting his little finger but what is new about all that he said? Even Rajiv Dixit, an IITian turned social activist said the same thing in Hindi but he was ignored by the main stream media, perhaps he did not feed into the spunk quotient which is a prerequisite for the TRPs or perhaps we still believe only when endorsed by westerners and in polished accented English. Did we not know that the diamond that the queen wears is stolen from India? Did we not know that our economy is still recuperating from the treacherous loot and divisive politics they inflicted upon us even after independence?

If at all they were to compensate even an iota of that grand loot they took away with them we could probably have 1000 smart cities by now but the point is _ if seeking reparations and apologies for all the vile invasions were to ease and endorse a good bilateral relation today in an international debate then why is it that even a mention of the Mandir in Ayodhya, Kashi or Mathura always seen as stirring a communal pot by our own media houses, will we ever shun all vote bank secularism and seek reparations for the Moghul invasions too? Do we have the guts to acknowledge history rightfully?

Whether the queen feels ashamed to wear a stolen Kohinoor diamond on her tiara or not the fact, that Shashi Tharoor with his overwhelming qualifications of elite English integrity is of late leaning to charm the Bhakts and their Gods, reminds me of this scene from the Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Holiday’!

holiday

where he aids the corrupt officer with two guns to choose from for a respectable remembrance.

In the gruesome context of Sunanda’s death mystery, whichever way the elite man chooses we all know that behind every successful man there is always a woman!

My WordUp Experience

When I first received this invite for the wordup meet from Indiblogger all that struck me was that this event was all about words and it was so much like me that I could not help but register for the event!

But I was a little taken aback when I saw the venue _ it said “At the Big Pitcher on Sunday At 9AM” _ I mean hanging out with sots on a Sunday morning leaving behind your family!

But then the buzz of words and the very mention of some amazing bloggers and speakers really hooked me up and there I was dot on time.

A pitch dark ambience welcomed me and I walked up a little apprehensively to the 4th floor where the event was scheduled, the genial spirit and warmth of Indiblogger and BigRock team lit up the place and put me at ease, I was quickly chatting up with fellow bloggers.

The event was sponsored by BigRock the domain, website providers in association with .Me and hosted by Indiblogger for me! Err…people like me … perhaps!

After a quick breakfast the event kick started at around 10 with Sruthjith, the editor of Huffington Post giving some really cool bites about the importance of the raging social media and how we bloggers could become the stakeholders making ourselves more visible sailing with this trending tide by simply leveraging on little things around us that could aid us in making it big and aptly said that this is the era of vertical videos where linking up is the currency and a button is the engine of social sharing, it all depends on how best we employ this engine to our advantage.

Next we had Dheeraj Sharma, a travel blogger and a Himalayan travelling enthusiast who shared with us his candid experiences and a few tips on ethical and relatable blogging.

While the program was definitely engaging, the organisers additionally ensured that we weren’t bored so it was time for some Desi rapping by Abhishek Dhusia or Ace as he loved to call himself, we did shake a head and tapped our foot for a while before the stage was soon taken over by Mr.Prasanna Revan, a Graphics man who spoke about the robust role of visual information and how it aids in creating your own brand value because remember 83% of human learning is visual!

He elaborated on the minute details like the typography of a header text or the importance of white space in your brand logo/design and how a conventional thought could be creatively designed to define your niche all by simply communicating effectively via a visible language with the use of a powerful palette by rightly picking the base and accent colours.

wordup1

After a sumptuous lunch we had Jhanavi Achrekar, the author of ‘Wanderers’ talk about the hardship of being a consistent writer in her soft voice and about the art of storytelling which is quintessence for any piece of writing because we all cater to a vast audience who consume stories when well told but if you have to be remembered it is the narrative and the depth that’s going to make the mark.

We then had Kirthaath, a standup comedian who was a bundle of energy but I personally thought it was a little low on humour but anyways he made a sincere attempt to bring a smile on our faces and bringing out the best humour is no joke!

The next speaker was Mr.Prashant Naidu of the Lighthouse Insights fame, who made a lot of sense to us bloggers and connected and touched upon many aspects of driving traffic to your blog and struck us with some hard hitting and reality checking questions so as to introspect and empathise why should my readers read me?

After this engaging session we were really shifting our legs and straightening our backs but the last speaker simply jerked us up and boomed on the subject of marketing quotient of a blog by taking over the stage and the audience completely with his brisk and crisp talk emphasizing on creating regular useful content that has a long shelf life thereby understanding what the reader wants to read and not what you want innately explaining the skill of reader engagement and effective monetization strategies.

The session ended with announcing the day’s contest winners and some grand give aways but alas! luck just swept beside me and my fellow bloggers just next to me walked home with trendy gadgets.

I am still J…….

All in all it was a wonderful and informative session with loads of fun, food and many new friends.

Because blogging is all about people and I was glad I met many of my genres.

Thank you Indiblogger and thank you Big Rock! You really rock!

The best part of this whole event is that there was no pushy promotion and that’s why I am inspired to do this post but would love it if somebody shared with me the pros and cons of adopting a .me domain….

Relook Into The Sino-Indian Ties

China is and has always been an expansionist and aggressive neighbour whose growing military ambitions and close proximity with Pakistan and warming up to Russia and Srilanka cannot be wished away by India anymore.

Back then the British had cleverly made Tibet a buffer zone to safeguard the northern frontiers of British India by signing the Anglo Tibetan Treaty in 1904 with Dalai Lama thereby restricting concessions to other foreign powers and gaining direct influence over the foreign policy of Tibet.

In 1910, China invaded Tibet and Dalai Lama fled to India but returned back in 1912 and drove out the Chinese garrisons after the Chinese Revolution had weakened China’s power politics.

In the 1914 pact of Simla Convention Tibet refused to acclaim China as its authority and forced China to accept an autonomous Tibet with fixed frontiers but China did not ratify this agreement and did not accept the inner outer Tibet boundaries and never endorsed the Mc.Mahon Line.

From 1912-1950 there were no more Chinese attacks on Tibet as at that time the British dominated the world politics and China was weak and hence did not confront.

In World War II Tibet chose to remain neutral and resisted Chinese pressure to open up Tibet for war communications.

Effectively Tibet never accepted the suzerainty of China but was time and again grabbed by conquest. For centuries India and Tibet lived peacefully without any defined land demarcations but with a hostile neighbour like China the British had smelt danger and hence they made Tibet as a buffer zone to protect the northern frontiers which we naturally inherited after independence.

Post-independence India was busy trumpeting her new found freedom and laden with formulating her constitution, while Nehru championed against colonialism but gave our manes in UN’s grip by messing up Kashmir, China declared to annex Tibet in 1950. Tibet sought our help but we refused to intervene as we were a peace loving nation ready to risk our strategic defence fronts the British had created on the northern borders altering our geo-political balance. Tibet appealed the matter to the UN, on 23rd November 1950 when the Tibetan appeal came for discussion in the UN general assembly; the Indian delegate opposed the inclusion of the question on the agenda and insisted that the matter be settled peacefully between Tibet and China as they were historically associated.

The matter was dropped!

Contrast this with India’s appeal to the UN today about Lakhvi’s release, China has openly supported Pakistan _ this surely does not come as an aftershock because China is known for its treachery and Pakistan for its imperial slavery whose power politics take birth and die in the queen’s abode.

In 1950 we advocated our own disaster by supporting China’s cause in the UN which they wilfully justified that their action was only a measure to contain the western plots to turn Tibet into an American base and prevent imperialism from invading an inch of their territory.

After the 1947 war of India and Pakistan, Pakistan confronted us yet again in 1951 only to realise that they were no match for India after which it did some serious thinking in order to free themselves from any kind of future intimidations from India, hence in 1953 Pakistan signed the Mutual-Aid treaty with USA and joined its security pacts of CENTO and SEATO. Pakistan traded its military bases in exchange for military aid as Pakistan on the southern boundaries of Russia was an invaluable base for the US troops too. Pakistan’s military coffers were filled with American aid _ money, construction of military accommodation, Patton Tanks, F-86 fighter aircrafts, radar equipment, medium and heavy artillery guns and latest weapons.

When the US and Pakistan scratched each other’s back Nehru used his ultimate weapon _ he expressed dissent over this, America offered aid to us without any strings but we refused it as we were a peace loving country and philosophically thought that we could be free from power politics of the world.

Pakistan is a crucial ally for America to keep Russia at bay and to keep India from overriding them hence we can almost forget resolving the Kashmir issue with a UN support unless India really builds up as a military and economic superpower.

While India was just scrambling with ineffective and indecisive policies and resources, burning with the Kashmir issue, seeking the UN mediation and the world’s sympathy _ China was silently patrolling and building roads and airfields in Tibet, educating and indoctrinating bright young Tibetans in China who came back to be more communist than the Chinese themselves in key administrative roles in Tibet, by 1953 all important towns were connected by telegraph and by 1954 China had been linked with Tibet by two major roads, opposite to NEFA they had built a 3ton road and a railway line was also contemplated.

In 1954 we signed the Panch Sheel agreement with China and recognised China’s control and formally wrote off Tibet in return for China’s good behaviour by voluntarily giving up our military, communication and postal rights in Tibet but failed to get a reciprocal benefit of settling the border agreement because the Indian diplomacy and political acumen was on its deathbed.

Nehru visited China in 1954 and came back impressed with a grand reception thinking that Chinese noodles were indeed tasty and healthy and even advocated her name in the world body. But just after the Panch Sheel agreement there was a border incident when China claimed Bara-Hoti was Chinese territory, this warning, India had failed to read!

It was only in 1956 when China refused to accept the Mc.Mahon Line we first conceded that China was a threat to us but still did nothing. We neither prepared or resisted nor made concessions. We did not debate or discuss seeking public opinion, did not build or ready or strengthen the military forces and refused to realise that History Politics Policies and Strategy are interlinked. We were napping with un-readiness to counter a first class ruthless power with love, peace and hopes. Yet Nehru chose to extoll Sino-Indian friendship of 2000years while China was slyly surveying routes to Aksai Chin at that time and we remained ignoramus until in 1957 when China announced that they had built roads on the Indian Territory and would soon open these routes for trade. We sent an investigating team of which one was arrested by the Chinese but Nehru did not reveal this humiliating incident in the parliament as he thought that the time was not right.

We had fearfully or foolishly or both seemed to meekly accept and build a national policy of China appeasement to hide our political incompetence, diplomatic oversight and military negligence by simply singing ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’ banking on hopes and Chinese assertions that they would not attack us.

Perhaps it was the mind slavery that Indians suffered that led us to such a low self-esteem then, because although Tibet was a much smaller state they did retaliate, when China invaded Tibet and compelled Dalai Lama to accept the 17 point agreement breaking its pledge to respect Tibet’s autonomy, the Dalai Lama government rejected this agreement on 11th March 1959 provoking a full scale military assault by the Chinese, during this time of crisis Tibet sought India’s help and intervention but we refused and counselled them to adopt slavery and subservience in the name of peace. Then, Dalai Lama had this to say about Nehru “ The worldly wise who by their lack of courage and faith block the progress of human race not towards the moon but towards humanity itself, these persons have a myopic view and forget that nothing stands still in history, not even the Chinese Empire”…

On 8th September 1962 China intruded India into the Thagla River area but we dismissed it as minor border incident. Still we did not carry staff studies or reorganise our field formations nor studied the pattern of weapons or communication equipment nor were any mountain warfare orientations initiated for the army staff because our heads never anticipated anything like this.

At 5am on 20th October 1962, the Chinese army stormed and swept the Namka Chu Valley and intruded a good 160miles inside India and struck terror for 30 lightening days completely checkmating an unprepared and disoriented India that thrust its un-acclimatized, untrained and ill equipped army in front of a massive trained and well equipped army who outnumbered us in numbers and weapons who cleared the route to Assam in just 3hours.

In spite of visionary warnings from General Joe Lentaigne, Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, Sardar Patel and General Kulwant Singh who clearly foresaw a draconian disaster from the dragon state and came up with detailed reports on this mounting threat from the Chinese to our Northern frontiers it was ignored by the then governing trio Pandit Nehru, V.K.Krishna Menon and B.M.Kaul the commanding army general who overlooked the gravity of the military situation which snowballed and consumed our national pride and international status, buried and stalled our economic progress almost nullifying a decade’s developments.

As Brig.Dalvi points out in his book ‘Himalayan Blunder’ that a powerful China has always been an expansionist and ambitious China which India still does not seem to understand.

What is the use of past if we don’t learn from history?

If you look at the Chinese strategy then and now it remains the same, even after Modi’s pompous visit to China recently there was a military line-up _ a show of strength by the Chinese army to nudge India, and now they have sided Pakistan in the UN against Lakhvi’s release. In the wake of current developments where China is blatantly siding Pakistan and wilfully militarizing airstrips in South China sea http://t.co/LDUO1Dgwkw and even proclaiming that Indian ocean cannot be India’s backyard http://t.co/QcrTdfj4wJ and keeps publishing wrong maps of Arunachal Pradesh indicating to India at every possible instance the military language of might it is only imperative that India keep its mitrathaa aside and practice diligently China’s policy of heavy self-reliance and self-strengthening strategies as we can never make the mistake of blindly banking on American goodwill or UN sympathy or even trust any long associated foreign power to bail it out in a growing hostile scenario of power race.

(Large references from J.P.Dalvi’s Himalayan Blunder’)

Honey Sweet Home!

As a content writer I was recently required to do a write up for an artificial power drink that claims to hasten fat metabolism and build muscles by pumping high quality ripped protein into the body that carves your muscles like any celebrity in just a couple of months.

While doing this write up I researched several diet charts and health prescriptions but by the end of the day I could only conclude that it is the natural and healthy diet along with ample physical activities that always aids and enhances one’s fitness attributes and not any artificial or quick yo yo diets that crash your inside health along with those crash diets.

Starvation is never the answer to losing weight!

In short there are no short cuts to a healthy and fit body you simply have to earn it by practicing a healthy regimen every day. A healthy regimen includes frequent portions of nutritious food, exercise, yoga, good sleep and a healthy mind.

Being Indians we always believed in fresh healthy cooking with variety of spices and sweets to seduce our palates but of late it is surprising to see that we are adopting anything and everything that promises to sculpt you into shape without giving a second thought about the damage that these crash diets do to our bodies.

When we have the fittest answers to all the fitness freaks in our own backyard in our own ancient Ayurvedic recipes, do we really need to fall trap to these quick money missions who are least interested in our long run health?

The first thing a crash diet does even with any number of artificial protein supplements is alter your fat fall and muscle build up drastically which is disastrous for the heart.

The Leptin hormone in your brain controls hunger, modulates metabolism and promotes fat burning, when fat levels fall drastically in a crash diet even the Leptin hormone falls triggering a starvation signal to your brain that is when your cravings get the better of you resulting in weight gain. In a crash diet you lose your energy and also lose out on your muscles.

Instead it is always safe and long lasting to choose a healthy natural diet!

A healthy diet in a simplest way is to start your day with a spoonful of natural honey with some warm water because honey can cleanse the body inside out with its natural disease fighting ability with loads of antibiotic properties in it, the daily consumption of honey pumps antioxidants into our blood streams killing the oxidative stress that causes many chronic conditions.

Honey has the ability to mobilize unused fat in the body, it has natural valuable vitamins, proteins and Folate and also aids in increasing the good cholesterol in the body, it reduces cardiovascular strain in the body which means you are going to be fit and energetic throughout the day by just adding two spoons of natural goodness of honey in your routine.

At the Zuri Hotel, Dabur Honey Diet Bloggers Meet

At the Zuri Hotel, Dabur Honey Diet Bloggers Meet

See! Honey can really shrink the kids!

The kid of wild cravings! by supplementing natural sugar to your body.

This does not mean that you have a spoon of honey and then continue to abuse your body with all fatty food fervor for the rest of the day, it is just that honey aids you to be healthier you along with a healthy lifestyle.

Along with Honey Diet a nutritious and healthy homemade food with lots of vegetables, legumes, milk, fruits and cereals in frequent little portions make for a great health recipe.

I heavily bank on honey for all the household remedies like coughs, cold, constipation and skin irritations and resist using allopathic antibiotics that are prescribed and available just like that unless it is really needed.

Let’s bring honey into our lives back and say Honey Sweet Home!

Did you know?

Honey is used to cure chronic conditions like cancer, Alzheimer’s, psoriasis. It can also be used on burns as an antifungal and antiseptic cream.

http://www.daburhoney.com/

India-Pak: A Cock Fighting Match?

Cock fighting is a bloody sport where two roosters raised and trained to fight to become gamecocks to slash each other’s flesh until one succumbs with defeat or death. Their legs are strapped with metal spurs to make the wounds they inflict upon each other more deadly and are released in a fighting ring called cockpit. If these roosters are calm and are not frenzied with each other then, their cockers pick them up, blow on their backs or yank their beaks or hold them beak to beak to reignite their frenzy. Every time they are pitted against each other like this the roosters jump and kick and parry till the cockers fill their pockets and till the cocks pay with life and blood.

Pic credit: Alasdair Baverstock

Pic credit: Alasdair Baverstock

Cock fighting is a favourite sport of the British and one such cock fighting match happened in 1947.

The two roosters were India and Pakistan and the cockpit was Kashmir, the cockers were of course the British and the match was called India Pakistan Kashmir War. The metallic spurs were the loads of arms and ammunition that the British aided both countries.

I reproduce a few lines from the Book ‘The Himalayan Blunder’ by Brig.John.P.Dalvi..

The Kashmir War was a strange war. The two sides were led by British Commanders-in-chief, General Boucher of the Indian Army and General Gracey of the Pakistan Army. They had access to each other and were reported to have held talks every evening to discuss the day’s events”.

Yes, the Hindus and Muslims have a long dreadful history but the very purpose of partition of Bharat was to have a separate state for Muslims called Pakistan and a separate state for Hindus called India, but when a few instigated tribals on the bordering lines of Pakistan attacked Kashmir, Kashmir sought to be acceded with India and eventually India did take control of the situation by overpowering them militarily but unfortunately Nehru chose to refer the matter to UN for a ceasefire even when we had clearly taken stock of the matter and when there was no evidence that Pakistan had indeed participated in those attacks.

But when the betting stakes are high there has to be a match and there have to be some odious opponents, whether India and Pakistan are gamecocks till today I leave it to you for your scrutiny!

London, The Exile Haven

From Benazir Bhutto to Nawaz Shariff to Pervez Musharaff or for that matter Imran Farooq or Altaf Hussain London has been an abode of exile for many Pakistani politicians and even some corrupt Indians like Lalit Modi! For some strange reason London is an easily accessible antidote to all the evaders and the self exiled and anybody with loads of money bags invariably become close to the realms of the imperial crown .

Although Indian polity does not seem as vulnerable as Pakistan in its face when it comes to military coups and dictatorial presidential quests, the #Lalitgate, is certainly intriguing as to why money laundering barons and power tycoons go for exile only to London? And more importantly why is it that these scumbags are even allowed to escape seemingly deliberately and then all the whining vilification starts on media after they are escorted to scoot away!

If you Google about Indian Independence in Wikipedia it says that The Indian Independence Act 1947 was as an act of the Parliament of the UK that partitioned British India into the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan.

Dominions are semi-independent polities under the British crown. It is for this reason that the Queen of Britain visited India and Pakistan in 1997 without a visa and was greeted with a 21gun salute which otherwise is reserved only for the President of India.

Essentially our freedom was a neatly packaged gift from the British after raising enough brown skinned Britishers here and not because of any glorified fasts!

It is for this reason that most VIPs take a tour or secretly go for a holiday or austerely fall sick and get treated only in the cozy hospitals of Britain where the narrative of the press, election polls, ranks of politicians, freedom of speech, tolerance levels are predetermined. It is in this context that pawns like Lalit Modi are forced to flee the country by the Brown Britishers and sheltered safely by the white Britishers only to let loose the canons at the right time and take stock of India’s rising stature which is a direct threat to the white Suzerainty.

Saffron Babas of India

The secular scientists in the media fraternity today are smitten with the saffron hue so much that they are reinventing Newton’s spectrum wheel scanning with scathing suspicion to understand if the colour orange indeed has anything to do with science at all because Saffron after all is a bigoted and divisive colour in India Today and there is very little evidence that Newton was not colour blind.

The lab has however established that it is this auburn hue that is the fringe element in the spectrum theory as a result of which most journalists are shunning eating oranges and are boycotting Mirinda as well lest they become combustible material on the blazing saffron screen of Arnab brigade who will anoint and crown them as right wing radicals.

A worried Congress whose official media anchors had recently taken to sporting Bindis off late were overwhelmed with this move and have tweeted that they are contemplating to shun the RSS feed widget on their websites as it appears really communal.

Most Bollywood celebs dread saffron because the moment they don saffron the directors ask them to renounce the garbs of worldly pleasures.

Even books and IIT institutes are painted in carroty red ink they say hence secular governments are taking up caste census yet again to detect the fringes. However in spite of so much of communal hegemony and saffronization in the country here is a man who is all set to teach how to renounce your old religion

Padre preaching Christianity

Padre preaching Christianity

The Rudraakshi mani, the saffron attire, a cross as a pendant __ a culmination of spirituality indeed. His evangelical discourses are all about universal brotherhood and promotion of Sanskrit as he refers to his god as ‘parameshwar’, it is because of such noble souls that the pope is able to perform these miracles

saffron baba1

Unlike silly superstitious saffroners who are busy in their idolatry for their millions of gods.

Image from mangalorean.com This is not Karaga but St.Mary's fair

Image from mangalorean.com
This is not Karaga but St.Mary’s fair

If monotheistic religions of the world disallow and disapprove of idolatry and if their spirituality is any better than ours why then are they masquerading in our garbs and gestures?

With such zeal and enthusiasm about universal brotherhood, I am sure saffron is soon going to become more secular than ever!

Skin Care with Ayurveda and Yoga

Beauty lies not in the eyes of the beholder anymore but beneath that squeezy tube that Sharukh Khan, Arjun Rampal and John Abraham endorse because why should girls have the fun! It is indeed funny that India, despite being a tropical country where even the whitest Indian is actually brown as per global standards people here are so obsessed with fair skin and all its salesmen and women who thrust at us the most harmful and harsh chemicals in the name of enhancing beauty.

Research has found large amounts of spurious chemical carcinogens beyond permissible limits in these beauty creams and shampoos that mostly contain chemicals like phthalates (synthetic fragrance), parabens, ureas, sulfates, petrolatum, parafins, amines, quats, antibacterial compounds which do not break down and may cause bacterial resistance, synthetic polymers, synthetic colours, chelates which do not biodegrade easily, nanos that can even cause fatalities like cancer but are marketed as natural and safe because they know that we only want to Get ready in Paanch minute and flaunt our mardowali baath!

Today we cry hoarse about one product containing lead, Nickel etc. when we are enveloped in a world of chemicals starting from your toothpastes, soaps, deodorants, sprays, creams, moisturizers, oils, food and beverages and even fruits, vegetables, air and water. While we gloriously consume the loads of toxin thrust at us in colorful packages blindly believing in the multinational tags and labels for whom we might be informal guinea pigs, we hesitate to believe in our own sciences, scriptures and texts written thousands of years ago which has always withstood the test of time with the tenacity of its truth.

Ayurveda, an ancient Indian science of longevity inherited from our Vedic rishis beholds a treasure trove of medical sciences and remedies to enhance the beautiful being in you by holistically healing the mind, body and soul in a natural way in harmony with nature.

Ayur means ‘longevity’ and Veda means ‘science’, thus Ayurveda essentially is the science of long life achieved by detoxifying the inner you.

Beauty is skin deep they say but in Ayurveda the idea of beauty itself is much more deeper where skin plays an important role as it is like a mirror to the inner you, it reflects your habits, health and happiness, a healthy glowing skin is a result of an overall purification of your mind body and soul which is the essence of Ayurveda.

Our skin is porous and absorbs all that we feed them hence adopting natural home remedies and Ayurvedic skin and health care can yield best results for our health without any side effects.

The soaps that we use today actually dries our skin altering the PH value hence we end up looking for all kinds of moisturizers and creams that our role models woo us day and night on TV.

What is PH?

PH value is the ratio of acid/alkaline in a substance, on a scale of 1-14, 1 is highly acidic and 14 is highly alkaline, 7 is neutral. Our skin has something called as acid mantel which is slightly acidic with 5-6ph that actually protects the skin, any damage to the acid mantel with variance to the PH making it too acidic or alkaline will result in skin damage causing acne, irritation, dryness etc. so it is very important that the PH value is balanced.

Most of us concentrate only on our facial skin and keep trying everything on the shelf and ignore the body when actually your limbs, neck, spine and shoulders needs calming too, which can be best achieved by oil massages, when we were kids castor oil soaking and bathing with natural soap nut powder was a weekly ritual. During college days I was very fond of these beauty rituals but today I am a lazy person and bank heavily on internal diet.

Apart from external applications a healthy nourishing diet with lots of water, vegetables, legumes and fruits and tons of laughter constitute the simplest recipe for a healthy glowing skin. Simply start your day with a mouthful of almonds and a liter of water instead of tea and coffee and see the results. Also a complete vegetarian diet keeps you away from many skin problems and skin aging effortlessly.

If eating right is one important aspect exercising just enough is another important thing that helps blood circulation, when you exercise and sweat you are actually throwing out the toxins out of your body via sweat. Also getting enough sleep, sleeping and waking up at the same time everyday accelerate the production of epidermis. Practicing Yoga keeps a person youthful and agile, it has several health benefits. If practiced properly it can even cure chronic diseases and also enable proper circulation of lymph which is the root cause of many ailments. Ayurveda and Yoga are like two arms of India that behold the secrets of goodness to a healthy and hearty lifestyle. Ayurveda and Yoga are both royal inheritance from Vedic civilization that flourished then and still is cherished. But for the radicals who shun Yoga saying it is Hindu then I say English is Christian, if Yoga is Hindu then Allopathy is Jewish, if Yoga is Hindu then eating pizza is pagan, if Yoga is Hindu then the Gregorian calendar is Roman Catholic, if Yoga is Hindu then building your house with Tata steel is Zoroastrian, if Yoga is Hindu then Karate is Buddhist, if Yoga is Hindu then internet is atheism, so what all will you shun? Oh yes! Yoga and Ayurveda are Hindu/Vedic and I will adopt everything that benefits mankind!

Did you know that the red sandal wood has high medicinal values and is a highly priced ingredient in the western smuggling markets!  

The Bubblegum Match

Women rights activism and all that jingoism about women empowerment is like a bubble gum blowing championship league with eminent(as they claim) and scholarly English speaking panelists across mainstream media channels who mistakenly believe that they represent all women at large and women of India in particular.

There is a thin line between rights activism and feminism but when this is botched up losing focus on the real issues they sound like exploited facades of political vendetta where the scream of egalitarianism only echoes as shallow hypocrisy.

The recent remark of Modi on the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina that “despite being a woman she has tackled terrorism well” was perhaps well meant to exemplify his appreciation of a woman leader in a country where women rights is a still a distant dream, where the society is still grappling under radical fanaticism but for our media’s obsession with Modinama, and why not, he is the darling punching bag for all _ be it activism or feminism, secularia, or insomnia, whether it was sexist or social or just a slip the fact that his pun of words, his style and his very persona always is a breaking news and he sure is the bread and butter for all the hashtag twitter fervour, whoever said he has not heeded to the problem of unemployment, think again!!

A select few lines are picked from a speech to begin a national debate to ridicule the generic play of words and the bubble gum match begins, the bigger they blow the matter out of context the more scholarly they qualify as panelists, the fiercer they criticize for nothing and make a mountain of a molehill, in this case there was neither a mole nor a hill but the debate was blazing on the screen, a blazing debate need not necessarily mean a heated debate but some graphics of flames blowing on your screen make it Mercurious. Okay coming back to the debate.

No! Not the debate about India’s prime minister achieving a milestone by signing the Land Border Agreement, Teesta water sharing talks, or the 22 agreements signed or neither about the two countries pledging of zero-tolerance on terrorism nor about MOUs signed on cooperating to control human trafficking, fake currencies, narcotics smuggling or about the newer bus routes connecting Agartala-Dhaka-Guwahati-Shillong-Dhaka but about why he spoke about “women”, because the point of contention here is how can anybody highjack Rahul Baba’s pet patented slogan of Women Empowerment and its symbolical word ‘women’ it doesn’t matter if key portfolios in the Modi government are held by women, what if this word is high-jacked what will Raul be left with? Farmers! APSC! Harvard University!? or perhaps about Kalavathi!

And the contenders in this match were:

Priyanka Chaturvedi of Congress who is a columnist for Tehelka never opened her mouth when a woman employee of Tehelka was sexually violated, who never stood up for justice for Sunanda Pushkar , the second one was the Calendar judge for the skimpiest Bikini Shoba De a frog in the glamor world who likes to believe she is an intellectual journalist, the third one was new entrant with a big bindi, remember bigger the bindi bigger the activism! I wonder where were these activists when Gopal Khanda a Congress minister sexually harassed and abetted the suicide of a young airhostess and her family!

But the melodrama was at par excellence with TRPsand tweeples rising but the only glitch was that the bigger they blew the bubble of hypocrisy louder their bubble gums of frivolity popped for all to see.

Panache At Pondicherry

You get humidity free for a dose of heritage here at the port city of Pondicherry since our recent trip to the Mangalore beaches in peak summer had somewhat emboldened us and we decided it was time for a little colonial hangover. I looked up some colonial homes for our stay and even hoped to see a blue eyed French ghost but all that we sought was already taken, nonetheless we were further encouraged to visit this place knowing that there were many others like us who dared the summer heat at Pondi, yes this is how the locals refer to Puducherry or Pondicherry the Union Territory that still houses many colonial homes along the serene beaches of this heritage city that once flourished as a port city trading pearls, beads, textiles and silk from the times of the Romans, Pallavas, Cholas, Vijayanagara kings to the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the French who set up their establishments here in 1674 that was later usurped by the British in 1761.

Bengaluru to Pondicherry is a 6 hours’ drive covering 378kms,, we started at 7.30am and took the Vellore- Kanchipuram-Vannavasi-Pondi route, driving on NH-46 was like driving on Route 66 and our Tata Manza felt like a Lightning Macqueen!

We relied heavily on GPS for all our maps as most sign boards in Tamil Nadu are very sweet like this.

We drove through Vellore, the city of churches, I saw dozens of churches here in a stretch of just 5km which spoke of the rampant conversion activities going on here. Vellore is home to one of the first missionary hospitals called Christian Medical College which is the forefront for all evangelical activities that was set up by the Scudders family who were sent to India in the 18th century as medical missionaries, today they successfully call this evangelical home as the ‘Home of the healing god’.

If only our people understood that behind all that spiritual salesmanship lies an unquenched greed for power and a deceitful ploy to keep us subservient to the west who employ religion as a tool for divisive soul hunting, pitting us against each other where communal hegemony is disguised as charitable work.

At 9 we stopped for breakfast at Adyaar Ananda Bhavan the only vegetarian respite on this stretch, we touched Kanchipuram around 12.20 noon, the Kamakshi temple closes at 12.30pm hence missed it, by 2pm we were at Pondicherry heading straight to Hotel Surguru, a popular vegetarian hotel that showed lot of good reviews, true to its reviews the food at Surguru was indeed good and thence we decided to check in here as most hotels at the French Quarters where we intended to stay were already taken and the ones left didn’t have a restaurant within, so experimenting in a place where good Vegetarian hotels are a thing of rarity was not a good idea after all. Surguru was a decent 3 star hotel with centralized A/C, WiFi connections costing Rs.2500 inclusive of an extra bed, even the veranda had a bed so all four of us slept comfortably.

Promenade Road, Puducherry
Promenade Road, Puducherry

In the evening we went around the Promenade Road which was just 2kms from our hotel. True to its name the Promenade road is a vehicle free boulevard at the southeast end along the rocky shores of the Promenade Beach which turns into a people’s fair in the evenings where the young and the old laze around on the benches and the boulders sipping on a soda or simply munching on a popcorn musing amidst the many old French bungalows now converted into hotels in the backdrop of breezy waves.

Promenade Beach
Promenade Beach

This vicinity is called French Quarters where the secretariat, the embassy and other old official buildings are located keeping alive the French architecture. Even the cops here wear red flat hats.

French War Memorial, Promenade street
French War Memorial, Promenade street

Pondicherry was divided into two sections __ the Ville Blanche which means White Town __ today referred as French Quarters and secondly the Ville Noire which means Black Town which is the Indian Quarter but the interesting hypocrisy is if you search in Google for the most racist country, India tops all the lists as the most racist country!!

 

The French buildings are painted in an exuberant yellow while the other British and Indian styled homes are in grey and white.

French Consulate, Puducherry
French Consulate, Puducherry

 

IMG_3895 The Promenade street is lined with statues and memorials commemorating history, a four meters high statue of Gandhi is the star attraction in the center of Promenade street

Gandhi statue, Puducherry

Gandhi statue, Puducherry

Gandhi statue surrounded by temple pillars

Gandhi statue surrounded by temple pillars

with 8 tall pillars that were probably pillaged from some unknown temple that are resurrected here by the shores surrounding the Mahatma, the sloping marble blocks that hold and encircle the statue serve as a slide to the local children who have no clue why this man stands here!

Temple pillars next to Gandhi statue

Temple pillars next to Gandhi statue

The temple pillar from Gingee Fort that now stand by Gandhi

The temple pillar from Gingee Fort that now stand by Gandhi

Facing these oblivious children and Gandhi is the statue of Nehru that is again encircled by a few more artistic temple pillars. The diary of Ananda Ranga Pillai a Dubash(translator/interpreter) during the French administration mentions in his diary that Jeanne Dupleix the wife of Joseph Francois Dupliex, the backseat driving force the real high command was the one instrumental in dooming the destruction of many temples and responsible for religious persecution of the locals,

19th Century Light House, Puducherry

19th Century Light House, Puducherry

It was getting dark now although we wanted to explore some French cuisines, the IPL fever drew us back to our humble hotel and we settled for a North Indian meal for the night.

Chunnambar backwaters

Chunnambar backwaters

Next day by 9 am we set off for the Chunnambur Boat House which is a 10minutes drive from city,  Chunnambar, located along the Cuddalore main road is a 8km drive from Pondicherry.

Chunnambar backwaters

Chunnambar backwaters

At the Chunnambar backwaters we took a motor boat to the Paradise Beach, it is a pleasant 15minutes drive, the ride costs Rs.200/adult and you can stay here till 5pm. The dancing reflections of the coconut trees in the pristine waters and the distant view of the white shores engulfing the backwaters gleaming like sugar crystals under the sun was a treat to the eyes.

Chunnambar backwaters

Chunnambar backwaters

We reached the island beach where the picturesque sight of the Chunnambar River on one side and the Bay of Bengal on the other was simply hypnotising. This place is less crowded and ideal for fun with family.

Paradise Beach, Chunnambar

Paradise Beach, Chunnambar

Although I find the Vagator and Calungute beaches of Goa more scenic and happening this place has its own charm.

A local kid who got this bounty, fishing with her hands

A local kid who got this bounty, fishing with her hands

Of course playing in Arabian Sea is more fun than Bay of Bengal as the shores have a predictable gradient but one advantage here at Bay Of Bengal is that the sun sets behind you and hence you are not blinded while you play in water but it is just that your back might look like a burnt tandoori roti at the end of the day.

The coastal guard kept warning people to stay behind the danger line as he narrated to us how this whole island was submerged under water during the 2004 Tsunami and relived the horror of losing his dear son to the dreadful dance of the waves.

Paradise Beach

Paradise Beach

It was time to take a break from the terrible heat and we hurried for some tender coconut water which costed Rs.50 here in this town of coconut extravaganza, this is what is called ‘make hay while the sun shines”. IMG_3783 We played for some 2hours here and then headed for a shower only to find the taps dry, fortunately there was a well and we had to “fetch a pail of water” for some desi showers!! IMG_3785 By the time we reached our boat we were almost dry even when we walked beneath the hay thatched shelters.

I had read about some archaeological excavations at Arikamedu which was close to this area, we switched on the GPS and were soon driving on narrow isolated lanes.

Way to Arikamedu

Way to Arikamedu

Arikamedu is an archaeological site that dates back to the 2nd century BC. Beads, coins and other artifacts depicting Roman symbols were recovered here which suggests the Indo-Roman trading connections then.

Arikamedu Archaeological site

Arikamedu Archaeological site

The Arikamedu site looked haunted, after walking some 500meters in that dense mango groove we found some really deserted brick built structures in a deplorable condition which once was a trading hub in the Iron age,

Arikamedu

Arikamedu

IMG_3814the artifacts found here are kept at the Arikamedu museum at Pondicherry.

Brick buildings, Arikamedu

Brick buildings, Arikamedu

If you are not an archaeology or history enthusiast then this place is not for you. Since this place is isolated it is a safe haven for antisocial activity so make sure you visit in bigger groups.

By now we were starving and turning squint, there was no sight of any decent hotel nearby so we humbled ourselves to some Bananas and Biscuits to cover a few more places. Actually vegetarians are the real Banana and Biscuit Republics as we are heavily dependent on this frugal fruit.

Ousterri Lake, Puducherry

Ousterri Lake, Puducherry

By 4pm we were at the Ousterri Lake, the Ousteri or the Osadu is an important wetland in Asia which is a man made fresh water lake that hosts many migratory birds and local birds across the year. IMG_3857We took the 20 minutes motor boat ride that gives a closer glimpse of the rich avifauna present here. Right opposite to the Ousteri Lake is a small eat out called SeaGull Lake View restaurant, we had some Samosas, Veg Noodles and Cassatas this place was a lifesaver for us.

Sunset at Ousterri lake

Sunset at Ousterri lake

After this we were recharged again and went back to the Ousteri Lake for some pedal boating and spent time around the robust aviators at leisure.

We headed back to our hotel and crashed, this was the end of day 1. Next day morning the two of us escaped for a stroll yet again on the Promenade street that was much more calm in the early hours.

People meditating at Promenade beach

People meditating at Promenade beach

The smooth cemented road is a walkers’ den where many fitness enthusiasts jog while a few others practice yoga/pranayama on the boulders of the beach at sunrise time. I sat there looking at the seamless waves splinter into droplets of silver every time they crashed tirelessly on the rocks beneath my feet.

Promenade street

Promenade street

Kargil War Memorial at Promenade street

Kargil War Memorial at Promenade street

By 8.30am we were back at our hotel tearing into the soft idlis, just then we noticed a mini army of uniformed men escorting a dhoti clad man who had come here all the way to parcel off some veggie food, I later learnt that it was Narayanasamy our ex union minister from the UPA.

We then visited Auroville, a spiritual town set up in 1968 by the followers of Sri Aurobindo to realize human unity, it is home to some 50,000 residents from across the globe who live here practicing meditation and yoga living the essence of community living.

Matrimandir at Auroville

Matrimandir at Auroville

It is no tourist spot and takes at least an hour walking up to the Matri Mandir, so if you are not serious about seeking spirituality you could skip this place as they will allow you inside to see the spiritual glass globe only after 2days after your first visit that too with an appointment. Next we spent some time at the Serenity Beach in the scorching afternoon sun as kids wouldn’t agree to go back without taking a dip.

Serenity Beach, Puducherry

Serenity Beach, Puducherry

In the evening we visited the Sacred Hearts Church which is 100years old IMG_3940 I wanted to visit the Ananda Ranga Pillai house, it is one of the few buildings to survive the British invasion in 1761, the GPS was of no use here, the locals here on the Ananda Ranga Pillai Road pitiably had no clue who he was or where his home _ the museum was, I clearly missed this museum as the road was too narrow with lot of vehicles and filth but I almost died of curiosity and ended up reading his diaries in which he gives a picture of the social circumstances that prevailed then, he mentions how brutally the Hindu homes were looted not even sparing rice, how the Bramins were driven out of Pondicherry, about the highhandedness of Ms.Dupleix and how the Vedapuri Ishwaran temple was desecrated and demolished by the governess along with Father COEURDOUX, the superior of St. Paul’s church who had come with a hammer and had kicked the inner shrine with his foot and had ordered the Coffrees to remove the doors and the Christians to break the Vaahanams .

Immaculate Church that was built after razing a Shiva temple

Immaculate Church that was built after razing a Shiva temple

Today in place of the Swayambu linga that was destroyed lies the Immaculate Church which is also called as the Samba Kovil by locals. So much of heritage isn’t ? No matter how hard they criticized idolatry today Pondicherry is haunted with political idolatry, every circle, every street every nook and corner is occupied by statues of politicians, poets, proselytizers in marble, granite, bronze, silver and gold. IMG_3943 IMG_3935 IMG_3936idol1

In the evening we went to Bakers street which is not a street but a popular pizza joint, the kids had fun, later we went around on the Roman Rolland Street, Caserene street and visited some Colonial homes that are now converted into antique artifacts shops.

IMG_3994IMG_3993 IMG_3998 IMG_3999 IMG_4000  IMG_3988 IMG_3990

The broad teak pillars were used as decorative and supportive columns in ancient homes, the rosewood chest, the 15feet tall teak wood doors, 19feet high ceilings, the huge bimbam clock, the rich brocade cushions, Tanjavur paintings in gold, the large wooden Narasimha carving, the regal looking settees all this was certainly an overwhelming experience to imagine the grandeur they lived in.

It was time to get back home and I walked past the pompous patio pondering over the panache with which these people lived here in this port city of Pondi.

THE ART OF SHUTTING UP

It is the talking parrot that often gets locked in a cage while the silent ones soar up amidst plush woods they say but does that mean we all get into a ManMohanSingh mode and simply watch the drama unfold?

Communication is an art, a skill of understanding and analysing what the other person wants to or does not want to hear and how best you could connect and convey your thoughts with clarity and moral conviction by even crediting the constructive critiquing views and opinions of others but how do you do this when people around you are not in your perceptive league at all where debate has become a one sided verbal diarrhea and communication is all about cutting down others’ views by amplifying only your opining decibels, deviating and diluting the topic which gets bereaved in a squirming mudslinging match that is often fed with sarcastic spicy juices to enhance one’s ranting rendezvous with futile and fervently funny remarks that essentially conclude nothing.

While a good communicator is someone who connects, represents facts, asks questions and clarifications with brevity and seeks answers genuinely, the successful ones are those who also listen up and know when to shut up. Sounds gross? If effective communication is an art then shutting up at the right time is a science!

Yes really, when the world goes gaga over captivating speeches and conquering speakers, silence has its own sophistication and dignity that at times can rule the rioting ones.

Just because you didn’t have the last word it does not mean you are inferior or incompetent because silence is the loudest scream practicing which is like meditation in a disco Tec and greed, gossip, revenge and tit for tat syndromes will distract you like Menake, Urvashi and Rambha and you will itch to babble especially if you are the talking parrot types but remember you can ascend the pinnacle of this art only with a composed mind, courage and strength to retreat, control and put your acerbic tongue to shavaasana.

But believe me it will yield the best results with time, more so if you know when to leverage it. In fact silence sometimes enables better thought process and better understanding of the whole situation around you.

You can practice this with your maid, mother in law, wife, husband or pesky and pugnacious people around.

Remember speech is silver but silence is golden!!

(By silence I mean shutting up once in a while at least)

The Haughty Heart

The age old debate of the Heart Vs the Brain never seems to die down. While the brain is a celebrated and sought after commodity in the matrimonial and job market the heart is still a very disputable and derogatory word in the lexicon of many in our society even when we all know deep within that it is secretly the kingpin that heads your head as you spin in your everyday dilemmas amidst roaring and reeling minds as it is often the heart that decides for you like the lady of the house. While many in the medical fraternity may dismiss this theory of the heart’s superiority over the brain it is the same heart that makes news when airlifted pompously to save precious lives, it is the same heart that when attacked or not, keeps the livelihood of many medicos going, it is the heart that keeps the brain on the run to invent newer technologies to protect and care for it. Even producers, financers and creative writers use and abuse the fragility of the ‘heart’ as a commodity because you like it or not it is the bread and butter for the many woods in Indian cinemas as heart is always a block buster theme that churns crores in all seasons even when the brain sees no reason why every other tittle every other crooning number begins with this bigoted word.

Although supporters of the ‘prevention of cruelty towards the brain’ reason out that it is the brain that is often bragged of being kept in a museum to commemorate one’s intelligentsia and no heart has ever been honoured like that nor has anything been referred to as ‘heartschild’ instead it has always been a ‘brainchild’ at which the media houses especially the television news channels rejected all such theories by screaming their heart’s content and emoted that news is made when millions of hearts beat and succumb to the views of the anchor hence heart cannot be subject to the epicentre of brainless debates. They even released many heart shaped balloons as a mark of free heartfelt speech and cornered the group by questioning them if ever in the history of mankind __ any brain shaped balloons were released or distributed among kids and thus refurbished their impact theory on its viewers.

The popularity of the ‘heart’ is not just limited to medicos, media and movies it also enjoys the support of the meditating spiritual gurus and muscle flaunting fitness trainers who advise you to put your heart mind and soul to seek success that goes on to create a niche in defining the persona you are, so much for the heart.

Bangalore Demolition Authority(BDA)

In the wake of the sudden environmental enthusiasm of the Siddaramaiah government which is off late on a bull-dozing spree breaking homes and hearts, Bangalureans wonder if this middle class ethnicity cleansing law adopted in the name of restoration of the city is well meant for the welfare of its tax paying citizens!

Laws are made for the welfare of all but in the current scenario where the law makers themselves (BDA/BBMP in this case) who are the face of the government has flouted rules duping hundreds of innocent gullible citizens robbing them off their roofs, how justified is it to break homes that were allowed to flourish from the last 3 decades? Will the homes of the erring officials and corrupt politicians be razed off like this without rehabilitating them or without arriving at any consensual legal settlement??

When it is a classic case of the fence eating the crops the Karnataka Home minister Mr.K.J.George pitches in to say that the government is mulling to bring about a bill to protect the economically weaker section that have lost sites and roofs over their heads during the on-going demolition drive. So Mr.Minister what is the definition of weaker section in this secular era where caste census becomes a stately prerogative taking precedence over the welfare of the taxpaying gullible citizen who is punished at the fancies of an enlightened environmentalist overnight by swatting homes just like that? But the fact is even those whom you thought are very elite have today become economically weak and socially deprived after losing homes at your hands.

Successive governments have come and gone pleasing their near and dear ones by selective notification or convenient de notification of lands, while the common man still struggles to decipher this ploy of this polity and wonders where were these chest beating environment enthusiasts when layouts were formed, sites allotted, loans given and taxes collected and Khatas issued? How come the authorities have suddenly woken up from their deep slumber who until yesterday were working in connivance with builders and babus but today are talking about saving the city and all its ecological-demographic effects after having allowed it to develop haphazardly

The print and television media were abuzz with headlines like land encroachers/land grabbers and many more decorative phrases during the demolition of the buildings on the Sarakki/Banaswadi lake bed encroachments but silently somewhere near Sankey tank yet another reputed builder is granted permission to build beside a lake.

Maybe years later after many bucks have been made and when the builder washes his hands off the project and the babus have moved out to other departments the muck will be on the citizen again questioning him for the legalities of the property that was once endorsed by them.

Today the BDA, BBMP, Builders and the Banks are a nexus that seems to work around organizing and hyping up this loot bazaar called real estate leaving the common man wonder if it is saner to own a property at all. Is there any one stamp, one authenticity that the government can vouch for its citizens?

Woi Amritsar

It was day 10 of our trip and the thought of a drive felt wearisome since we had clubbed both Himachal Pradesh and a little bit of Punjab making our travel schedule really hectic but then driving endlessly in the backdrop of picturesque mountains and plush green and golden fields of wheat and poplar, felt both liberating and exciting to see newer places, people and perspective, creeping into me a sense of inquisitiveness about the vivid chapters in the journey of life letting me turn the pages of the world around.

Dharmashala to Amritsar is some 190kms, we reached Amritsar by 1 O’ Clock but we didn’t check in to our hotel as unloading the luggage and freshening up would eat into our schedule hence we headed straight to the Attari-Wagah Border crested with our entire luggage tied atop our Innova.

Amritsar to Attari is 30kms we collected our passes for the Beating Retreat ceremony en route the Grand Trunk Road at one of the defence gates and broke for lunch at a roadside Vaishnav Bhojanalaya(vegetarian dhaba) where we were received with great enthusiasm and rushed inside an almost dark dungeon like area. Post lunch we still had some time left so we just sat outside the Dhaba basking in the moderately sunny weather looking at the mustard fields amidst the fog that pierced a bone-chilling effect on us.

A bunch of turban clad youngsters in the adjacent hotel kept waving saffron scarves and tried to stop vehicles plying their way, initially I thought it was a marketing trick to trap customers into their hotel and wondered at the stiff competition but soon I realised that it was a Langer (free food) on occasion of the birthday of the Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. It was only then I realised why the Dhaba guy was in such a haste to receive us

Small groups of people on tractors heading to Langar and Gurudwaras adorned the highways every now we even caught a glimpse of a folkside Punjabi wedding.

Attari-Wagah Border

Wagah is a bordering village in Pakistan demarcated as the partitioning Radcliffe Line in 1947, named after Sir Cyril Radcliffe who architected the demarcation dividing 88million people over 450000 square kilometers.

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The Indian side of the border is called Attari which is the last village on the Indian side connecting Lahore. Attari is named after Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala, one of the generals in the Army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Grand Trunk Road connecting Attari and Wagah was the only connectivity between India and Pakistan until the Aman Sethu in Kashmir was opened in 2005. The Samjauta Express runs from Attari to Wagah covering 3kms.

The Beating Retreat

Attari marching

The beating retreat ceremony is a daily military practice that the Border Security Force of India and Pakistan Rangers of Pakistan perform since 1959 as a watch setting practice at sunset. The origin of this practice dates back to the 16th century in England when military chiefs used to recall nearby patrolling units to their castle. Many colonized countries still have this practice.

People cheering at the Attari Border

People cheering at the Attari Border

A fleet of steps forms the gallery for viewers that are again barricaded and marked into sections for commoners, VIPs and VVIPs. The Pakistani gate presents a picture of Jinnah staring at a smiling picture of Gandhi on the Indian side.

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We took seats in the front row of the VIP pavilion to get a closer view and felt fortunate not to be shoved in the crowds that was now dancing in full fervor to the many patriotic Bollywood tunes played flamboyantly.

A BSF soldier ready for the beating retreat

A BSF soldier ready for the beating retreat

A very tall and very heavily mustached guard stood there like a gladiator shaking hands and posing for ecstatic tourists like me.

A sense of pride reverberated with the music and people seemed patriotically possessed. Women and children took turns to run the stretch with the tricolor which was followed by a loud shout from the captain indicating that the show was about to begin.

The Wagah gate with Jinnah's picture on the Pakistani side

The Wagah gate

The trumpets began in high decibels and the very tall strutting peacocks as they are often referred as marched mightily with the utmost muscle and dignity in their crisp khakhis, holding their heads crested with a bright red fan like head-gear high, swinging their arms and foot up until the sky as the crowds cheered and swooned upon their every stunt.

The Indian side crowd

The Indian side crowd

Our VIP charm was short lived as many late comers just crowded in front of us and many others without passes jumped into the VIP section and kept blocking our view by standing up and pretending to be kneeling down holding up their sophisticated cameras.

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The VVIP pavilion was on my left that was just adjacent to the bordering gates meant only for media and firangs(foreigners) and other top level dignitaries, also foreign nationals are treated as elites here and are allotted a separate gallery away from the chaos of the common man who are left to crowd like cattle. Wonder why this bias when it should be allotted on first come first basis, wonder why media and Firangs should be allotted special seating here, if only Arnab Goswami would question the #VVIP racism here!!

Gandhiji's picture on our side

Gandhiji’s picture on our side

During the beating retreat the bordering iron gates are thrown open and the soldiers on both sides align and march dramatically on their respective sides, stomping and strutting with rigorous shouts and exaggerated high kick marches with clenched fists and muscle flexing right in front of Radcliff line posturing powerfully before the neighbour with the broadest shoulders, this drill is followed by lowering of the flags at sunset on both sides simultaneously and then finally the metal gates are slammed ragingly after a brisk handshake.

A Pakistani soldier lowers the flag

A Pakistani soldier lowers the flag

This aggressive 45 minutes spectacle is one of a kind that attracts thousands of tourists from the world around, there is no entry fees on the Indian side here but you will be thoroughly scanned no bags are allowed, even an extra camera cell or the camera bag will not be allowed. You can buy BSF India T-shirts to cheer the Indian side that are sold while you are seated. Many people even get themselves tattooed with tricolor on their faces to cheer our soldiers.

This whole dramatic exercise is surely a great opportunity for us civilians to witness the might of our defense forces closely and swell up in pride and take home a bit of uprightness. But the fact that this whole ceremony is predominantly a British trait called by the queen, kind of makes me rethink if this whole patriotic fervor should be festooned only at borders? Why not across all army units where the civilians get a chance to connect with the army folks?

But then when this muscle flexing match happens against Pakistan the spirits are always high like in a India-Pakistan Cricket match hence in order to tone down the aggressive approach the Indian side has of late included women guards as well to perform this marching retreat as a gesture to establish cordial relations between the two warring nations.

A view of the Pakistani Crowd

A view of the Pakistani Crowd

While the Indian side clearly outstrips the Pakistani side both in numbers and spirit, on the Pakistani side an entry fees is collected and men and women are seated separately to watch this ceremony.

After experiencing a patriotic high we headed to our hotel CJ International which was right behind the Golden temple.

Amritsar apparently is a very clumsy city with garbage strewn around everywhere we drove into a narrow lane where cups of hot pista-badam milk were thrust into our windows. I was a little shocked at the crude hospitality, welcome to Amritsar! It then struck me that it was Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday and the steaming drink was much needed in that cold evening, I readily gulped it down

The temperature was freezing at 3 degrees when we checked into our hotel hoping for some international standards but the plethora of plastic cups thrown in gutter cutting across at the entrance of our hotel said it all. It was an average hotel with 3 star comforts. The MakeMyTrip guys had not paid the tax part hence the hotel manager demanded an additional payment towards the taxes which we had to accommodate as the Makemytrip guys didn’t pick our call anymore and we didn’t have the energy and time to fight, probably if I had booked directly with the hotel it would have been cheaper.

It was 7.30pm we dumped our bags in the room and crossed the garbage laden road to enter The Golden Temple from the backside.

A narrow path covered with tarpaulins led our way to the Harmandir Sahib or Golden Temple.

Entrance of Golden Temple covered in fog

Entrance of Golden Temple covered in fog

Here we had to compulsorily rid our socks too, I had last jumped on my feet when I burnt my feet on the hot rocks of Hampi but we were now jumping due to the unbearable chill penetrating our feet.

Night view of Golden Temple

Night view of Golden Temple

The temple is a commemoration to the advent of Sikhism and the Sikh guru Guru Nanak who meditated at this lake in the 15th century. Later, Guru Ram Das initiated the construction of a Gurudhwara and Guru Arjan Dev built a Hari-Mandir which is today called as Harmandir Sahib. Guru Ram Das called the lake as ‘Amrit sarovar’ meaning ‘pool of nectar’ probably nectar of knowledge and the city was named after this lake.

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‘Harmandir Sahib’ was demolished several times by Muslim rulers but each time it was reconstructed even more spectacularly by the Sikhs. In the 19th century it was renovated and covered in gold by Raja Ranjit Singh and got its Anglican name as ‘Golden Temple’.

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The Harmandir Sahib houses the sacred scripture ’Guru Granth Sahib’ which is considered the holiest texts of Sikhism that is read and worshipped throughout the day. After Guru Nanak there were 9 other gurus but the 10th guru Guru Gobind Singh passed the guruship to this holy text which contains all the holy verses advocated by all the 10 gurus in Sikhism.

Swords and spheres are a symbol of bravery sold in all shops of Amritsar

Swords and spheres are a symbol of bravery sold in all shops of Amritsar

The entire vicinity of the holy structure was lit up reflecting itself in the lake we perambulated the temple walking only on the carpeted area as it was like walking on ice. I had never seen such a huge congregation of turban clad Sikhs together and my little one who is obsessed with Sunny Deol’s performance as Major Kuldeep Singh in the movie ‘Border’ was ecstatic about seeing so many Major Kuldeep Singhs. . People religiously upkeep the spiritual decorum here and everybody is found praying, I didn’t find a single person talking or surfing their mobile phones. Few people donate goodies to the kids around and my kids were pleasantly surprised when they received chocolate bars as dhaan.

Gangnam Kejri Style

Gangnam Kejri Style

As we were clicking pictures an old sardarji stopped next to us explaining the significance of the temple, initially we were apprehensive if he was a guide but soon we realized that he was just another devotee helping clueless tourists like us to understand Sikhism.

The old gentleman explained a few basic details that I had never heeded to.

He began….”Do you know why the Sikhs greet with a Sasriyakaal?

As I curiously listened, he expanded it, Sasriyakaal is actually Satsriakaal, the true form of which is ‘ Sathya Shri Akaal’ which means Truth of God is eternal

Next he said ‘do you know what Vaheguru’ means?

Our blank expression turned into a curious look as he went on to relate it to us.

Va He Gu Ru means

Vaasudev Hari Gobindaha Raama which is in short praying to the almighty Krishna and seeing them through their Guru Gobind Singh.

Due to tyranny of the Moghuls during the early 15th 16th and 17th centuries some Hindu familes decided to give a son for a brave cause to fight and save themselves from religious exploitation which took a new form and went on to become a religion in itself which believed and emphasized that Shakti with Bhakti was the need of the hour.

During the most atrocious tyrannical rule of Aurangzeb, Guru Gobind Singh formed a team of brave warriors known as Khalsa to fight the misrule and save innocent gullible Hindus. He baptized the men as Singhs meaning Lion and the women as Kaurs meaning princess to fight like lions and command like a princess, thus today you find Sikh names ending with Singh or Kaur under which lay hidden stories of their brave participation during difficult times. Thus this brave offshoot of people who took upon them the task of saving our clan are very much part of us but unfortunately today many claim that they are different from us and are a separate sect.

These words of the old gentleman filled me with inexplicable respect and pride for these brave Sikh gurus and men, but my heart bleeds when fragments of these very groups deflect from the very purpose and ideals of their inception and tries to disintegrate and dissect away from us

At the langer we were served hot tea, hot water in large bowls, Roti and Kaali Dal, since it was Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday we were also served cake, my kids exclaimed Cake instead of Cosambri!!

We decided to walk back to our hotel before we turned into ice-candies.

Next day we were scheduled to leave early but however I quickly escaped with my sister-in-law to have yet another view of the Golden temple early in the morning.

With the Akali Takht Guards

With the Akali Takht Guards

The morning mist played a spoil sport and denied me a glistening view of the Golden temple in the morning sun however I didn’t miss posing with the Akalitakht guards.

After breakfast we visited the Jalianwala Bagh Memorial which was just a furlong away from our hotel.

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I walked the narrow passage where General Dyer had stealthily marched in and shot hundreds of innocent people assembled there to protest against the Rowlatt Act.

Narrow Passage of Jalianwala Bagh

Narrow Passage of Jalianwala Bagh

I then saw the Martyrs Well where hundreds of people jumped in to save themselves from the swarm of merciless bullets.

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Martyr's Well

Martyr’s Well

The walls still bear the bullet marks, the sight of which wounds every Indian even today

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The museum here takes you back in history with many memoirs, articles, newspaper cuttings, pictures, belongings of the people who were killed here.

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You definitely need 2hours here but we were crunched on time as we had to drive back to Delhi, a distance of 500kms before evening.

The rest of the day, we were speeding on NH 1 bidding goodbye to the land of the brave Sikhs.

My Digital India

intel indiaIndia in its recent years has cut out a niche for itself in the global scenario as the most rapidly advancing countries in the field of innovation and technology. We are a tech savvy nation with as many as 900million mobile subscriptions out of a 1.2billion populace (as per a Time Magazine report), a Forbes magazine stated that the high IQ of Indian Americans coupled with their superior educational attainment, academic culture has made them an economic force in the U.S, many Indian origin scientists and professors have achieved excellence elsewhere on foreign lands, Millions of our software engineers today form the backbone of many American IT giants, missions like Chandrayaan, the successful debut of our most economic interplanetary spacecraft Mangalyaan-Mars Orbit Mission all these reports stand testimony to fact that Indians are technologically very advanced and excel in innovations but in spite of a tech boom, in spite of large youth resources in spite of the many innovative minds we are still facing many third world problems like poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, lack of modern infrastructure and facilities that often is used to starkly contradict our growing economic and innovative prowess predominantly because of the huge gap between the public sector and private sector functionaries. India is a mixed economy with stakes from federal states where the economic growth is influenced by the combined performance of both public and private sectors but unfortunately these units which go on to constitute modern India have glaring differences in its composition dividing the country into two sects or societies, one that is racing with technocracy while the other is stagnated in red-tape, corruption and anti-meritocracy, the end result of which has driven away our best and brightest which is the root cause for our plummeting economy but any attempt to correct this fallacy of prioritising birth over merit will result in diluted and deviated uproar to score political miles for vote bank politics when the glaring reality is that the current abysmal performance of our public sectors have failed miserably to deliver the goods of quality health, education and services even to the poorest of poor for whom the reservation system was introduced but today even they look up to private school education and private hospitals and are harassed for bribes at the hands of Government babus for getting a ration card or to get an RTE seat or to get admitted in a government hospital hence today there is an urgent need for integration of both the public and private sectors which can be hastened through e-governance .

What is e-governance?

It is a Government of India initiative to make available all government services to the common man of India through electronic media for easy access to services by creating common service delivery (CSC) outlets in his locality and ensure transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs. The NeGP(National electronic governance plan) devised and approved a 31 mission mode projects (MMP) with 8components way back in 2006 but implementing them for our huge populace has proved almost impossible as we all know how the very ambitious UID project soar high as expected.

But why it did it flop?

Because we pitched a Boeing against a Bullock cart and expected our unskilled lower level public sectors to suddenly go digital overnight. We refused to see the gap between the public and private sectors which has grown over the years because of overt extrapolation and mixing up of social backwardness with economic backwardness for political mileage and because of non-cooperation of federal states.

A Peek Into the Ground Reality

I am sharing a few instances here so as to give you a peek into the real scenario in our country and this is no rocket science not to understand as anybody can relate to these experiences as their own:

  • When the electoral photo ID(EPIC) project was piloted I got my card with mismatched photos, wrong date of birth, spelling mistakes, different surname and wrong initials. The project was scrapped and on reapplying after some years the card now had more than one parameter matching my profile but with the date and year of birth goofed up again. In India there is no dearth for new age thinking and advancement of technology it is the implementation which is a herculean task to percolate down technology to the lowest strata of administration that is still waking up to the keyboards and mouse.
  • When I was applying for Aadhar card, the data entry operator who was assigned with entering the citizen details was actually struggling to enter basic details like name, address, age, sex etc.. literally taking 30-40minutes per person to peruse through proof documents attached, he was unable to fill up even with our assistance.
  • Thirdly during the 2014 elections as VFABI volunteers we were following up on some 600 voter cards for which all duly filled forms with attested identifying proofs were submitted to the concerned officer at the BBMP office for which no acknowledgement was ever given, we were told that it would arrive by courier but finally ended up making many rounds to the office as no courier ever arrived. Each day we dug up sets of cards in instalments that reflected in the online portal but nearly some 150 forms were lost or were not given due to shortage of holograms and we had to comb through the heaps of forms strewn around like garbage in the BBMP office, anybody whose form was lost were allowed to dig into the mound of paper. On enquiring with the clerk with a computer in front of her, she readily allowed us to look up the information for ourselves as she had no clue how to operate the system she was waiting for the sub-sub contracted 10th grade data entry guy who offloads their work.

Although implementation of e-government is seen as the key to improve government service delivery to citizens, businesses and within government agencies to aid transparency, convenience, less corruption, revenue growth and cost reduction the lack of financial resources, and low levels of skills and limited capacity of governments are some of the main obstacles faced in pursuance of e-government nationwide. And no matter how tall technology has surged there is always a human aspect to it, in all the above cases although there was a high-tech key on hand but the user is unskilled and unwilling to operate or even comprehend its importance to the nation which renders the whole effort futile.

Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas

Today our honourable PM Mr.Modi has a digital dream and proclaims ‘Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikaas’ as the mantra for good governance but how can we ever achieve the ‘sab’ when our public sectors are dissected into sub-sets of sects of caste and creed that is reeking with divisive quotas mocking at the economically backward and killing the impetus for any skill development within the government? On one hand we have the private sector racing against time where only your performance matters and on the other hand we have the laid back and lethargic public sectors full of dirty politics so how relevant is e-governance in this scenario when the PublicPrivatePartnership is so disconnected? All tall manifestos of development will go down the drains if the root of the problem is not identified.

True that social inequality has haunted our nation for a long time but does that mean we keep shooting in the foot every time we have to stand up and then brood about still being tagged as a developing third world country?

Today there is a strong need for a digital reservation quota where digital literacy should be made mandatory, digital skills and job competence should become the criteria for Government jobs irrespective of castes, this policy would whip the cream out from the all strata of society. It will not only ease the loads of paperwork but it will also create a sense of accountability and transparency thereby reducing the current corrupt practices adopted in government offices. And all such candidates with digital literacy should be selected by a panel of private players via calling for online job applications.

The Railways

The railway complaints e-tool seems promising for services but very poor on the security. How safe are the passengers and women when the RPF (Railway Police Force) themselves looted all our belongings near Rampur station on a train from Kolkatta to Bangalore? On enquiring for their ID cards the police bad mouthed us and threatened us. Will sending a SMS or Whatsapping or e-complaining get help in a moving train where the fence eats the crop? They dare this audacity because they are in nexus with their seniors and are confident of not being caught even if one attempted to get down and complain.

In the above scenario if the cop had a digital id engraved like a barcode somewhere on his uniform that my smartphone could read instantly without me having to press any button that would facilitate me to complain, then certainly the clout of technology can counter the clout of corruption and power as the fear of getting caught would discourage such activities.

A special mobile law and order patrol team much like a Hoysala(mobile patrol police in Bengaluru) can be constituted in trains to end malpractices of RPF.

RTO- Road Transport Organisation

RTO is actually Rogues-Touts-Organisation to harass the common man.

In Bangalore there is an elaborate Automated Vehicle Driving Testing Track has been built at a cost of 1.80crores that was conceptualised with the intention of curbing the intentional failing of applicants by inspectors for bribes.

One has to clear the artistic forward 8 test, parallel park test, reverse test and finally bend it like Beckham till the exit with the reverse S test on a serpent line track that is equipped with sensors to detect if the candidate has faltered or cleared. This e-governance project is equipped to test 600applicants in a day. On its launch the officials boasted that the fully computerised system with automated tracks would eliminate human interference in order to end the menace of corruption and touts at RTO’s during the process of obtaining a licence.

But alas is there any technology any app that can sniff out corrupt and dishonest people?!!

Modified Image from gettingsmart.com

Modified Image from gettingsmart.com

The narrow track driving test is a tough one and ideally it should have reduced reckless drivers and the number of people procuring licenses as clearing this test on the track is really trying for a new driver but looking at the menacing traffic of Bengaluru one can only conclude that either Bengaluru people are born with a traffic compass in their heads or the e-governance tool is choked sans proper checks and balances as today this system of automated track has become a money minting tool at the hands of driving schools who monopolise the tracks with their driving school vehicles that has all the controls of acceleration, brake, clutch levers on the left side for the instructor to control the vehicle(tout in this case) while the applicant driver only has to steer the wheel that too with driver’s assistance all for Rs.2500, the booty to which the police officer and the RTO touts are all party to, this amount is only for getting a 4wheeler license and does not include any driving classes. With driving classes the amount is Rs.3500.

So this e-governance tool is producing 400*2500(assuming that all 600 don’t pay bribe) ie.. Rs.1000000 of unaccounted revenue in one day not to the government but to private pockets.

So how to effectively e-govern?

Technology and well defined processes along with stringent implementation methods would help curb this malpractice.

First of all the driving school vehicles must be banned for giving tests as the very intent of the test is to ascertain driving skills for the safety of fellow passengers on road.

Secondly most rash driving and accidents are caused by yellow board drivers themselves hence their licenses must be subject to renewal and driving history.

Introduce E-Police Stations

Most of our Police stations don’t have CCTVs, there are many instances where FIRs are not lodged at all due to political/power interference or because the department is keen to show lower crime stats and hence don’t make an FIR.

E-FIRs will help and ease the plight of citizens to make minor complains like autorikshaw harassment, an e-complaints tool should link all police stations to end the rigidity of jurisdictional boundary lines that often pass the monkey off their backs.

Dialling 100 does not get immediate action as mostly you are directed and redirected to many other police stations and phone numbers and by the time you contact the right jurisdictional officer then it would be a lost case.

Recently a girl sought the commissioner’s intervention on twitter and the case was taken up immediately hence the need to digitally emphasise the accountability by identifying few digicops with announced twitter handles who will ensure action by the concerned police station, in fact every police station should have their own twitter handles where people of that locality can tweet day to day law and order problems, this would bring about a connection between public and private mindsets.

E-Birth and Death Certificates

The Government of India should enforce digitalization of government records like birth and death certificates by tying up with public and private hospitals. All necessary documents like marriage certificate along with photographs should be collected by the hospital before admitting the maternity patient the hospital should ensure that all records are e-mailed to the sub-registrar office and facilitate obtaining the birth certificate by fax at the hospital itself like in the western countries, also a softcopy should be mailed on requisition.

Most enthusiastic parents these days predetermine their baby names hence this step can certainly be implemented with a slight revision in the format of the birth certificate. Ideally a birth certificate should embed a code/data that highlights the parentage along with its legality to avoid unnecessary paper work in future. I say this because recently at the Karnataka Badminton Academy I was asked to submit my child’s birth certificate along with the seal of a gazette officer, when all forms were duly filled attested and submitted the application was returned as it again required affixing another affidavit notarized with our marriage certificate to authenticate that we were the parents of the child mentioned in the birth certificate. Hence e-certificates are a necessity.

Setting Up Government Call Centres

In this context the digital India vision becomes imperative with the NeGP already formulated by DEITY(department of electronics and information technology) and DARPG(department of administrative reforms and public grievances) that dreams of transparency, decentralised decision making to improve government services to public by setting up common service centres(CSC) the government could as well think of having Government Call Centres that should be integrated with private players and private skilled staff who in turn cooperate, coordinate and collaborate with public sector folks to service the common man.

Emphasis On Online Approvals

Currently millions of housing/building plans, electricity meters and water meter connections that need a sanction invariably go through many itching hands waiting to make hay, many of these projects get stalled because a bribe hasn’t been paid and vice versa the builders default on building norms flouting all rules but till date the particular government official who has approved such a thing is never penalized or arrested. Day in and day out we hear about land encroachment cases involving big builders but the onus is generalised as the BDA did it or the BBMP did it and the buck keeps passing many shoulders without any convictions but if there is a mandatory digital process that emphasises an e- approval and captures the name of the individual approving such transactions then the scope of corruption will be reduced. This can be achieved by integrating private folks who are physically deputed to function like an implementation team in public sector offices.

Scrapping Obsolete Paper Work

All municipal complaints like bad roads, transport grievances, corruption, delay in procurement of passports, procurement of housing plan sanctions, licenses, payment of housing tax, betterment charge, applying for and Issue of Khathas should be done digitally for which a digital acknowledgement should be assured within 48hours and all obsolete practices of getting notary seals, gazetted officer’s signature, stamp papers etc should be done away with.

Incentivizing Government Officials

True that our government officials are low on skills and lethargic on implementation but has there been any motivating skill development programmes for them? Does the clerk clearing the heaps of papers ever get identified for his honest performance? Do they ever get an outstanding award or a Hall of Fame award like we do in our private sectors? The Government should recognise and incentivize those officials who achieve their daily targets of clearing pending files promptly.

The name and ID particulars of officers giving approvals and sanctions should be clearly recorded in the mandatory online approval form as it would improve accountability and credibility and avoid any future discrepancies. This giant step would be a big leap in combing layers of unwanted hierarchies and speeding up decision making and improve morale of honest officers if any.

Ecomm Bills

We have been paying our Telecom and Bescom bills but if my Government were to send my Khatha(property document) in a Flipkart parcel then I wouldn’t mind paying a tiny Ecomm bill.

Image courtesy: Modified from indianexponent.com and RK Laxman common man cartoon

Image courtesy: Modified from indianexponent.com and RK Laxman common man cartoon

The government could also introduce a nominal fee for obtaining these e-documents (soft or hard copy) that would add to the government revenue for which the people would readily comply instead of getting harassed at bribe mongering hands.

Introducing Online E-Voting for NRI

Lakhs of NRI Indian citizens who contribute to the growth of our economy by sending back money home today do not get to vote because they are physically not present here but then when all these non resident Indian citizens have all the authenticated identifying documents(passports/visas) recorded by our embassies then why not leverage on the already available data and provide them a chance to vote by creating an online e-voting mechanism wherein large number of Indians whose heart beats for India’s growth are given a chance to cast their vote. To introduce online e-voting for all Indians there needs to be one database with one identity card but currently there are multiple identification documents like Ration card, PAN card, Passport, Aadhar card, Voter ID card, Driving License hence the confusion, to sort out which and arrive at one conclusive consolidated ID card for our huge population would take many more years, so as of now we could get started with e-voting for at least the NRIs where there is a common identification document ie.. the Passport validated by the Indian Consulate.

Making Smart Phones and Internet Cheaper

The #DigitalIndia project aims to offer a one stop shop for all government services by largely banking on mobile technology and broadband connections. Although the internet usage is rising and has already penetrated our youth populace not everybody owns a smart phone as they are mostly expensive and unpopular among the senior citizens and many not-so-tech savvy people. Hence Government should make existing smart phones cheaper and Make Simply-Smart phones especially for our senior citizens, that are simple to understand yet smart in performance that would cater to many non-tech savvy/rural citizens.

A My India button/icon can be introduced on all phones that would showcase all e-governing tools employed by our government together to facilitate those who are unfamiliar to the online world. The Government could also set up e-governance Kiosks as a one stop shop manned by private-government-aided employees in every locality just like our Bangalore-ones to ease the deliverance of Government services.

Many of our start-ups are today being acquired by American IT giants, our intellectuals are being hired straight from the campuses by global companies which only goes on to show that India does not have any dearth of innovation and intellectuals but if the Government pitches in in a big way to shake hands and take along these in house innovators and implement e-governance meaningfully with an iron will then the day is not far when Indians can dream of replacing Google with its own search engine that I would perhaps name as “Bhoogole”.

A scientist once said “Science is an investment that takes time to bear fruits, but when it does, it’s a big leap towards the better future of mankind”  

http://www.intel.in/

House Hunting Series

We were newly married and had just returned from a flamboyant offshore trip and were on the lookout for a house, since my hubby’s job involved travelling we thought it would be best to live in the safe enclosure of nested houses so we finalised on one such haven and ended up paying a bomb for this dingy hole and moved in one fine day.

But soon it dawned on us that even a small sneeze would wake my neighbours up and vice versa we could detect their slimmest farts, to add to the injury the company had changed its travel policies after marriage or so I was duped. A late night movie at the mall meant that we lost our premium parking space or perhaps the gate would remain locked forcing us to jump the gate like thieves to get into our home, the icing was when a fight broke in one of the nests or a rogue child cried __ the effect was complete like in a cinema tent but love was in the air everywhere and so were the close relatives whose close proximity haunted us frequently at all odd hours. While I romanticized a masculine musk imagining his footsteps like in a typical Sidney Sheldon novel a harsh truth filled the air with a pungent garlic odour emanating from the neighbour’s wok clouding our windowsill, a nice jazz music would often be interrupted by a crass neighbour who blew his nose hard and cleared ½ a kilo of sputum from his chest, in short our new marital home and all its surroundings had all the ingredients like in a ‘Chameli ki shaadi’ and I decided enough was enough so we hurriedly shifted off to my mom’s place as my in laws lived in another town. We were back to square one with our house hunting series season 2 the expeditions of which was very tiring as either the house didn’t match our requirements or didn’t fit into our budget and when they did it was in the outskirts of my defined boundaries so on one such day my mom suggested that we could as well stay in the ground floor house and that the tenants would soon be moving out. It sounded good and mutually beneficial too as my mom was staying alone and my presence would be a moral support to her and even I wouldn’t be left alone whenever my hubby travelled so we readily agreed to this offer and we settled down for good.

Weeks and months passed by and life got busy visiting and hosting friends and relatives immersing myself in the nitty-gritty of married life, soon we were blessed with our first child and my whole life seemed to revolve around my baby. My mom was a pillar of support during these trying times of new motherhood and we showed our gratitude by being there for her whenever she needed yet ensuring that both were independent but together without infringing upon the others space and without any financial exploitations and this combo seemed to work well. As my child grew up I even took up a job totally banking on my mom which began to nudge many on the wrong side. It had never occurred to me that I needed to own a home to call it mine until I decoded many daunting verses from close aides that set me thinking if my staying here really reflected my image.

Elsewhere several miles away lived many cousins whose lifestyles never mattered to us but since I showed my face around locally I was tagged as the local daughter-in-law amongst my people because success to many folks in India still means taking up an onsite opportunity and posing up in hot pants as this was a default qualification that every other cousin possessed, it was almost religiously undignified and petty to be staying here back home in India that too in my mom’s place, Nayyy…..!!

Years had turned like pages in this chapter called life where the material aspect had risen above me to become the protagonist and I was now seen merely as a poor little wretched child tossed from a wok to a pan on one side while the others thought I was a staunch mommy’s girl living in my mother’s strong castle dancing to her tunes and it echoed wherever I went, although I was thick skinned enough to brush the ills aside the frequent roasts on both sides did err and stir our minds if not for image it was certainly for our children who were now growing and needed more space to play around and even we needed a novelty in our expressions and more so a space that we could call exclusively ours fearlessly because ‘Apnapan comes with Apnadhan’, fortunately we had invested in a flat sometime back and it was now ready for occupation, it was really hard to come out of my childhood shell but we decided it was time for a session 3 but we knew our destination this time. #StartANewLife

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Togetherness Unlimited

We were a big pack of 4siblings at home 2boys and 2girls always at loggerheads over the pettiest of things around that kept my parents on high alert at most times. The eldest was the sober and stylish types and the only one who believed in non-violence who dreaded to endorse us as his family when we teemed-up together on our Vespa scooter sticking out from all sides like in a mini bus calling out to him at the cricket ground, my sister was often like the eye of a storm calmly playing music during her number crunching mission while others struggled to concentrate, the one who would simply undo the braids till my mom had appeased her with a perfect centric partition, the third one was the notorious type whom I dreaded even in my dreams whose adventurous stints at school and neighborhood were nothing short of a Horrid Henry series and lastly it was me who was a plagiarized version of a little bit of all their traits as I looked up to them and probably had inadvertently absorbed like a staunch copycat but being the youngest in the family I always had an edge over others as I was pampered and easily forgiven one by my parents which often invited the seething ire of my overbearing siblings but was somehow saved every time. We buzzed like bees constituting our house into a home. We would walk long distances to the traditional ground nut fair in Basavanagudi or went trekking the rocky hill temple of Ragigudda or shopped together for festivals and believed that we would stay together for ever but years later as we grew up we were all headed in different directions busy in the walks of our everyday lives so much that meeting everybody together became a treasured moment which happened only once in 6months or perhaps sometimes once in a year. Especially my sister, while we don’t give up making meticulous plans to meet up, discussing and analyzing why the previous plan failed, weeks and months pass just like that, although we live in the same town today we only get to talk on phone. We all have friends and well wishers everywhere but staying in touch with your roots your family, reconnecting and refreshing the bygone era of childhood with your siblings has its own charm that certainly enables and nourishes the emotional balance in you else you feel dejected and uncared for without really understanding why.

So one such day when the yearning had reached its roof I decided we all had to meet somewhere out in the open and we all agreed to just get out and meet at my brother’s farmhouse. On the D day loaded with food and games we drove down the narrow lanes leading to the farm. The weather was pleasant and cool, the many inmates of the farm the cows, hens, rabbits, dogs kept staring at us amusedly and we began singing ‘Old Mac Donald had a farm….and on his farm he had some cows……’ and kidded my brother as the old Mac with grey hair now, we spread the mat and lay there under the trees while the kids played in the inflated swimming pool and danced around the sprinklers, we kept chatting for a long time on varied topics about kids, schools, their silly home works to the fate of software engineers and our hubbies to the lack of exercise and how ugly the city life had become and how one day we could all settle down to do farming and agriculture hinting at my brother to hire us as laborers in the farm we kept chatting and joking without the slightest hint of what was in store for us. The weather was dilly dallying and it began to rain, the nature lovers that we sisters were we began admiring the lovely weather in our poetic language and even took a few steps out in the rain and exclaimed how we missed all this fun and how boring we had become. Soon the weather was dipping and the evening was setting in so we thought it was time to head home. My sister is normally the first to panic and jump on her toes whenever she casually looks at her watch, even if it is not late she will remind others that she will leave in the next 2 hours and will keep announcing it every 15minutes on prorate basis till the final goodbye moment arrives, so she was the first one to bid adieu to this much planned lazing grandeur, we kept waving at each other holding on to the window sharing many last minute stories and my brother in law finally plugged the ignition on and lo and behold! The vehicle roared and skidded behind since as it was parked on a steep slope and the rains had made the soil very soft and slushy. We kept a big rock behind the tyres and he tried to take off once again but the tyres were losing traction and each try only sent the vehicle deeper into the soil, so this time we found some really hard huge rocks and planted a series of them and stuck them into the soil. At this point all of us stood behind the vehicle readying ourselves to lend a push, we cried many slogans like ‘dum lagake haiiya and ‘Jai bajarangabali’ and my brother in law finally whirred off spluttering a pile of mud sludge at us and we stood there like ‘Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma’ modelling perfectly for the Nirma ad completely covered in slush but my brother in law wouldn’t stop and headed straight until he reached a flat surface. So it was session 2 now and we had to scurry down under the low level tap to take cold showers and clean up the muck as we were now shooed off from getting into the car. We finally washed as much as possible and sat like untouchables in the car and drove back home really late but it was a day well spent. The whole muck drill had actually cleansed our minds and brought us together to re live old memories of fun and frolic, the next day I woke up in the morning feeling rejuvenated and flashing broad grins at myself in the mirror ready for the day ahead feeling like a new bud altogether, that’s the magic of togetherness, which is like a therapy to rid dreariness out of you.

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THE LUNCH BOX

After 15 years of togetherness he was now spewing out diluting the ingredients of my hard work letting me down in my hour of crisis, he badly needed a makeover. I thought I should call it quits! But that grey old guy never tires whistling flirtatiously at me in his monotonous shrilling tunes, he is still huffing and puffing unable to let go of the pressure within. I was furious at his insensitivity so much that I splashed some water on his square face gesturing him to shut up and behave, the remaining water I emptied on the mound of flour that waited for a spa like kneading.

It is already 6.20am and the bus would be here by 7, I had to hurry so I grabbed him again by his crest this time but he would not budge and was determined to test and tease me. Pressure Cookers you know! They conk when we need them most, they never understand us women! I slipped into my thoughts wondering why did I have to do this? I could have been a corporate head with a large team under me or I could have been a backpacker spending time at the most exotic spas feasting and flying around like a Mavic bird or I could have simply hired a Raamu Kaka but here I was grating and grinding all that pungent masala grudgingly, the recipe of which my monster-in-law had meticulously engraved in me many years ago. A thought about the loving mother in law early in the morning could be highly prolific and beneficial at the same time as I now clasped the flour wriggling my fist fiercely into it, releasing my wild imaginations flow and began beating and pummeling it hard against the platform, such skills makes the dough and relationships much smoother you see!

Like you, even I have had a somewhat decent education, like you even I had my parents spoon feeding and pampering me all along, like you even I have a job but a thankless one but suddenly I was required to wash everybody’s undies and clean and pick after you all that mess you accumulate, I do not know how but I have been promoted overnight as a food and laundry manager without applying for it. I am the Scorch Brite who removes all the stains on the dining table, that you left last night and I am the official duster of the house, I am the patented dabbewaali who will tolerantly bail out those choicest taste buds that keep asking ‘what’s for tomorrow’s dabba’ and I am the Tata namak who will add taste in your life!

Four-three-two and one the microwave beeped like in a gothic film, setting the stage for a perfect display of chivalry and I said to myself “Cut them down to size now” as I dashed slicing and slivering the last minute chop-suey of vegetables into the pan ruthlessly as they now shivered and shrunk sweating sooner than the sinner in me had expected but my prestigious BF in the kitchen is still gurgling nasty sounds, seems like he is having a stomach upset today, after marriage BF only means Break Fast in case you went back into flashback! It is 6.45am, my kids are almost ready and I am only left with the last chore of making rotis now, I slip into my reverie again __ “this is the best part of my life, I could have been anything anywhere a crime reporter doing a sting operation, a wild life enthusiast digging up a crock’s mouth or perhaps a dancing diva or even skydiving or”__ but suddenly a voice reverberates as if deep down from a well __ ‘Amma……’!

Am I hallucinating or is it a spiritual inner voice? No! It is actually coming from the washroom closet __ ‘Amma! I am done’ Holy hell you undid your uniform in this last moment! I rush and give him a quick wash smiling to myself, yes! I could have been anything but here I am washing this little rogue’s butt, this little truth suddenly dawns upon me a connecting empathy with all those in-law clichés, all their sacrifices, oh my god I am getting philanthropically enlightened now! Who said inspiration comes only from the laughter of a child or a smile of your loved one or a blooming bud it can even come while you wash and wipe a little bum, it can even occur when you sweat out for your dear ones in the kitchen and it is this unexplained unspoken optimistic wiring in women that go on to consume their bouts of everyday stress and depression to make the world around you function unstoppably because each day is my day __ women’s day. Oh my! It is 5 minutes to 7 and I quickly pinch a little ball of dough and mould it stimulating all the palm chakras vigorously in the nth moment and swat the steaming phulkas tucking them into the box and zoooom….. we go, I really don’t know how that lady in the movie (Lunch Box) goes on to pack food for a stranger when I am struggling to make ends meet for my loved ones, philanthropic movies I tell you! The lift does not stop we race on the fleet of stairs, hiking the road dragging the kid along to reach our daily targets waving desperately at the already moving bus! Trrrrrrrrrrr…… the alarm rings again and I realize I had been hitting the snooze button all this while rubbing my eyes I jump out, gosh!! It is already 7 o clock, the mixed vegetable curry, the pulao the phulka and that entire Phantom race was only an early morning dream?!!!

“Mummy you are late can I please take the food coupon today??

My son is ready and wakes me up. Howzattt!!

Good gracious! I have this option to laze and dream once in a while but there are millions of women like me who slog their lives day in and day out to run that reality show called family, which requires a great deal of mental health that is achieved with their productive thinking, dedication and unconditional love. But off late we are only busy with our gadget stricken life that we have a lot of under utilized time to brood over insignificant issues which result in low morale and is often hastily classified as depression. Actually it is a midlife crisis with a monotony syndrome that often triggers and creeps in stealthily a feeling of nothingness, loneliness and a feeling of not doing anything substantial, inability to cope with changing responsibilities, inability to express to a thick skinned partner oblivious to the monotony brewing in his partner’s head who is indifferent to the loud signals seeking to spend quality time, inability to enjoy anything at all around you, temper tantrums and most importantly inability to rise for yourselves.

Strangely we all depend on others to make our lives engaging, most of us think we are running the show but as time passes you realize that time takes care of many things, kids grow up and suddenly now you have ample time on your hands that you do not know how to fill up, you need to acknowledge and understanding this gap and try to engage early in life in an activity apart from your everyday schedules.

I am sure this will help you get out of that lunch box phobias!

The Rape Debate Is Back With A Vengeance

Our taxi driver at Delhi kept pestering us to share the wifi password given to us at the hotel I wondered why he couldn’t wait till AAP came in, was he a case of IIN ….the Idea ad I thought as he quickly showed off his flashy smart phone that was perhaps much smarter than mine. I am only trying to prove that today internet info right or wrong has become a rage amongst all classes of Indians. In this context the way the BBC has released the Nirbhaya video inspite of our Government banning the documentary, it is time our people who are enthusiastically sharing this video stopped and introspected this documentary called ‘India’s Daughter’ that the BBC, NDTV and their counterpart bloggers are falsely claiming around that this video is just an awareness against Rape in the society.

I watched the video today the screen flashed in bold saying “SHARE THIS VIDEO IF YOU WANT TO SPREAD AWARENESS AGAINST RAPE IN THE SOCIETY’.

The video starts off in a typical Slumdog Millionaire style with explicit footage of our dirty slums, gutters, half naked starved clueless malnourished faces, all that Oscar winning poverty traits that would perhaps force you to give them some concession for raping! And why not it is truth after all isn’t it? Poor people have been living like this in India for decades now ever since the British Queen started wearing stolen gems and jewellery from India installing their stooges to run India for more than half a century.

But remember they flash a message “SHARE THIS VIDEO IF YOU WANT TO SPREAD AWARENESS AGAINST RAPE IN THE SOCIETY’.

The remorseless rapist argues better than his lawyer who goes on to say that THEY DID IT TO TEACH A LESSON TO THE GIRL WHO WAS ROAMING AT AN UNHOLY HOUR LATE IN THE NIGHT AT 9PM WITH A BOY, WOMEN ARE SUPPOSED TO MANAGE HOUSEHOLD AND NOT GO OUT TO BARS AND DISCOS WEARING WRONG CLOTHES TO WRONG PLACES. He even says that ‘THALI EK HAATH SE NAHI BAJTHI’ (it takes two hands to clap) meaning WOMEN ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING RAPED.

After this the documentary goes on to show the rapists’ destitute hungry and poor parents weeping as if the Government is a monster and not the rapist who had to helplessly proceed raping that girl which is vehemently backed by the reservation quota lawyer who vows that he will burn his own daughter if she were to step out with a boy after 6pm.

Picture Abi Baaki Hai

The camera zooms on another rapist’s house whose destitute wife and kid are shown for all to sympathise and understand that hey the December deadline for hanging is fast approaching and the stage has to be set for some human rights’ activism to defer the hanging, to defer the fear and get more women raped.

The camera is back on the rapists, one of them the fruit seller slightly smiles feeling like a hero with all that special attention by a white TV crew while the parents of Jyothi Singh/Nirbhaya weep miserably recollecting the agony of their daughter who are now left flinching in grief.

I waited patiently for the message and awareness the documentary claimed to spread against this epidemic called rape that is alarmingly raising in India from the last 10years and is only raging with each media coverage, I waited to understand how it could be ridden off and looked forward if they would tell us how we could better our boys but then came these punch lines from the rapist again ____“ WOMEN SHOULD QUIETLY GET RAPED INSTEAD OF RESISTING ELSE IT WILL INSTIGATE A SODOMY, HANGING US IS GOING TO BE MORE DANGEROUS FOR GIRLS, HENCEFORTH NOBODY WOULD LEAVE THE GIRL, EARLIER THEY RAPED AND LEFT THE GIRL THINKING THAT THE GIRL WILL NOT TELL ANYONE BUT WITH ALL THIS CRIMINALITY NOBODY WILL LEAVE THEM IN FUTURE LIKE WE DID, THEY WILL KILL THEM, DEATH……. He proclaims like a crusader to control women.

But wait this is what the activists are also lecturing all along but in a more subtle and sophisticated way.

So where is the anti-rape message?

Of course the elite educationists, lawyers, SC judge, psychiatrists and others in that video opine in accented English that education is the only way to resolve this gender disparity which is the root cause of rapes which only the Bikini judge Shoba de can decode not the security guard who might watch this video and whistle at you.

And how can you achieve it? By broadcasting it treacherously to the large illiterate masses who may not know to read or write or comprehend what these elites are saying but will surely know how to click on obscenity.

This video insensitively only captures the rapists’ sadistic view that can trigger gullible misled people to sympathise and look up to this rapist in the video that would kindle more sick minds to commit the same heinous crimes to teach women a lesson oh yes to teach women a lesson.

If it had anything to do with scientific research they could simply choose to publish a thesis of the same and educate rehab homes and schools why circulate cunningly?

If they ever did a research on how to hang rapists and broadcasted it rape will be eradicated like smallpox.

Religion and Culture were and will always be like Gandhiji’s walking sticks to the colonial minds and all their brown stooges who will rip it every night for all their experiments but the least we as Indians could do is stop sharing this insensitive video and show BBC their place.

 

 

Destination DHARAMSHALA

We drove down the Ghandara Mountains bidding adieu to Manali and the beautiful Beas River that glistened brightly in the morning sun, en route we stopped at an Angora Rabbit farm en route

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Angora is a variety of rabbit whose wool is used to make warm clothing. These rabbits are reared specially for their premium quality soft silky wool which is cut or plucked once in 70days.

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God created creatures differently some with fur, some with skin only to survive the natural habitat that they live in but alas man has evolved shedding his fur coat along with his conscience that he no longer hesitates to brutalise these harmless voices.

Watch this heartrending video to know how brutally those docile creatures are ripped off inhumanely, the shearing and moulting is mostly a myth sold to customers. Say no to Angora wool

Raghunath Temple Kullu

40kms from Manali is the Raghunath temple at Kulanthpitha or Kullu, to reach this temple you have to deviate near the Kullu market from the main road to an uphill narrow lane and drive up for a furlong, once you park your car here you have to walk amidst the tapered paths that leads you to a stretch of houses that are stacked neck to neck like matchboxes against the walls of the Pagoda temple elevation almost suffocating its otherwise serene ambience.

Raghunath Temple Kullu

Raghunath Temple Kullu

Raghunath temple is an ancient temple built by Raja Jagat Singh in 1660AD.

Inside the premises of Raghunath temple

Inside the premises of Raghunath temple

The story goes like this — King Jagat Singh once set his greedy eyes on the precious pearls possessed by a Bramin called DurgaDutta when in reality all that the Bramin possessed was pearls of knowledge, fearing the king’s wrath the helpless Bramin jumped into the fire cursing him thus __ “whatever you eat will appear as worms and whatever you drink will appear as blood”, the king was distressed and sought advice for annulling this curse. The holy men advised him to worship the lord that the lord Rama himself had used during Ashwamedha Yagnya and hence this 6inch idol (Yagnya murthy) was stolen from Ayodhya, when the devotees of Ayodhya came to retrieve the idol it became heavier as they headed towards Ayodhya and when they headed back towards Kullu it became lighter, perplexed they sought advice from the holy men who narrated the curse and its reprieve for the king, the devotees later handed the idol to the people of Kullu, the king washed away his sins by worshipping this idol, ever since then Raghunathji is the deity of Kullu.

The 6inch idol of Rama

The 6inch idol of Rama

But as the saying goes “Paapi samudrakke hodaru monakaaladi neer iralilla”… meaning when a sinner visits an ocean there is not enough water beneath his knees, when we went to the temple the idol was stolen. Disappointed we just clicked some pictures and returned.

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En route we saw schools running classes under the sun to beat the cold.

Baijinath Temple

Baijinath Temple, HP

Baijinath Temple, HP

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At around 4pm we touched Kangra district which is home to the Baijinath temple yet another ancient Shiva temple, the inscriptions on this 12th century temple built in Nagara style reveals that a Vaidhyanatha temple existed here much before this structure was built.

baiji2 A spectacular view of the Dhauladhar ranges sneak peek every now and then amidst the fine carvings of the ancient structure.

Dhauladhar ranges

Dhauladhar Ranges

Dhauladhar Ranges

From Baijinath to Dharamshala is some 50kms and this entire drive is completely mesmerising especially if you happen to touch this place before sunset. The Dhauladhar ranges overlooks the Kangra valley gleaming with her golden smile just before dusk sets in.

It was now getting dark, after being crammed for more than 7hours now the journey seemed like an endless drive finally around 6.30pm we reached our destination “Snow Hermitage” in Dharamshala.

Snow Hermitage Hotel

Snow Hermitage Hotel

An old man wrapped in a rustic muffler took us in, a fleet of stairs greeted us waiting for the grand ascend but we chose the lift instead which opened into a small passage that led us to a long bridge leading to an expansive colonial style reception with an array of large clocks hung on the 20ft wall ticking the times of many zones, below which stood a skinny old man who carefully perused all our booking details and insisted for a hard copy leaving us mobile geeks digging into all suspected pockets.

A spiral set of steps led us to our rooms it was a large room with colonial style furnishings and the ambience was perfect for some horror fiction, the old man seemed like a Stephen King’s character when he rang the bell a second time to hand over some additional blankets. We were thrilled to see the huge bed that could have easily accommodated even our neighbours there, it also had a small balcony that gave a splendid view of the Dhauladhar ranges

Dhauladhar ranges

Dhauladhar ranges

The best part in this hotel was great food it was freshly made every time, the hotel also has a TT room in case you want to drive noisy kids from the room.

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Overall it had a cosy appeal to me and felt at home, probably after that packed drive such roominess was certainly a luxury and I slept like a dog hoping the sun never rises. But this hope of mine gets ruthlessly shattered every morning and I hate to be an early crow.

‘Early crow’ is a new connation designated for ‘early birds’ to restore equality and honour and also counter those ridiculing the night owls.

But surprisingly enough I was up really early to capture some sunrise shots.

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At 9 the sun was in full fervour, the snow peaks now mirrored their golden gleam across the vicinity turning the valley into a vivid Eastman color.

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We first visited the Dal Lake, a cluster of Deodar trees stand guard around the otherwise pristine waters which makes for a picturesque picnic spot when the waters are full but for us the lake was marshy and under some restoration work during our visit, I told you about the ‘Paapi’ syndrome already.

Dal Lake Dharamshala

Dal Lake Dharamshala

The area is has a heavy army presence as there is a basement camp here.

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Bhagsunag Temple

Later we headed to the Bhagsunag temple, another ancient Shiva temple that stands at 6000ft surrounded by the hills and a sea of sellers, there is a waterfall called Bhagsu falls for which you have to trek for a kilometre.

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Bhagsu apparently was a king in the beginning of Kaliyuga who was defeated and later blessed by a Nag, hence the name. Most temples built in the hills actually make for a good view point with glimpses of unsullied peaks that play pica boo.

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We shopped a little bit of junk jewelry here and then went straight to McLeodganj, a Tibetian monastery the abode of DalaiLama.

Mcleodganj entrance

Mcleodganj entrance

It gets its name after a British Lieutenant Governor called Donald Frell Mcleod when the British annexed this area in 1850. Ganj means ‘neighbourhood’.

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The path to McLeod ganj is a shopper’s delight with colourful handicrafts flooding the lanes on both sides but sadly the spiritual essence of the monastery is encroached and condensed by an over doze of hawkers.

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To me it was just another view point, later we also visited the hotel where our cricket team stays during IPL here and headed back to our hotel to enjoy the vistas around.

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View from our hotel

View from our hotel

We walked around the hotel clicking pictures in the twilight and soon enough it was time for a steaming hot dinner.

If you have read every line till the end I bow and thank you for reading my blog patiently, this is my 75th post.

Catch you…….

Manali Day2

Our day 2 in Manali started at 9 in the morning that was rather early as per our standards, we set foot on the Dhungiri forests amidst which stands the ancient Hidimbi temple,

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the entire vicinity was covered in frozen snow making it very slippery to walk up to the temple,  as I looked up the tall deciduous trees wondering if Hidimba was taller than these trees, an unknown hand covered in black mittens grabbed my shoulders jerking me and my photographic stints completely__ friendly tourists you know! who will smile and thank you for being a pillar of support on a slippery stretch!

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I was standing in the Hidimbavana that once had magical spells during the Mahabharatha times when the Pandavas came here in hiding after their escape from the wax palace. Anybody who came here would be devoured by Hidimbaasura. Bhima the mighty Pandava defeated the demon Hadimba and later married his sister Hidimbi. The couple begot a virtuous son Ghatothkach. After entrusting the kingdom to him Hidimbi retired to meditate in the Dhungiri vana, till date the gigantic footprints of Hidimbi Devi remain in this natural cave around which a wooden temple with a four tiered pagoda roof is built, the fourth tier is of metal, this wooden temple with intricate animistic carvings dates back to 1553 AD but the cave is of Mahabharatha times. The footprints are anything like Bata size 15! Wikipedia says if you zoom in on this place in Google satellite images you can see a giant foot print in this area where the temple is located,

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Photography inside the cave is strictly prohibited, the stretch behind the temple which was yet another slippery conquest leads to the Veer Ghatothkach shrine, whose ancient walls have collapsed and only a tree remains around which you can see some animistic forms of worship.

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Ghatothkach played a vital role in the victory of Pandavas in the Kurukshethra war of Mahabharatha as he was incidental in saving Arjuna from the Indraastra of Karna.

Did you know that “I Dream of Jeannie” television series during the 1965-70 is inspired from the Hidimbi-Bheema love story as quoted by the author himself here?

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There is a small museum near the Ghatothkach tree where we spent some 15minutes, tiny shops selling woollens, razais are lined up near the parking lot and you will not return without getting edged by the touts selling Spaaru. Spaaru happens to be a special rug made from the wool of Sparu or Chingur an endangered yak like species in the Himalayan terrain. Earlier they were killed for their skin and wool but after Maneka Gandhi’s activism this has been stopped but the sellers vehemently insist you buy it as it is now gotten by cutting the wool from the animal and not by killing it. The strange thing is they sell it on lease basis and offer all kinds of lucrative freebies __ a package of 3rugs, 2bedspreads, 2shawls, dress material etcetera all for 8k or 10k to hook you but believe me it is worth only 2k for all the 5+items that they offer, as per a TOI report the Spaaru sale is a rampant fraud going on in the hills as the animal is almost extinct now, even if it was real it is illegal to procure one.

After this futile marauding attempt we left the shop with our purses intact praising Maneka Gandhi’s activism but alas the Bengaluru stray dogs will never grow any wool on them nor will they become endangered any day!

Vashisht Village

We then drove to Vashist, a small village 3 kms from Manali, it is a narrow climb of 2kms from the parking lot amidst tiny shops on both sides on that narrow lane but you can catch surreal glimpses of nature amidst the flowing hullabaloo of shops, vehicles and tourists.

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Houses built on the most precarious slopes, ridges buried in snow peep at you beholding an image of hardships encountered by people here for everyday survival.

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The Vashist temple built to commemorate the great sage Vashisht the best among 88000 sages meditated here on the banks of Ajikeeya river which was later referred to as Vipaasha River.

Vashisht temple

Vashisht temple

He built an ashram on the Arvudha parvatha and lived with his wife Arundathi here, they begot 100sons who were devoured by an asura called Kalmaashapada at the behest of sage Vishwamitra who envied and despised the virtuous Vasista rishi.

Inside Vashisht temple

Inside Vashisht temple

An aggrieved Vashista tried to leave his body in the Himalayas but did not succeed he then jumped into the Ajikeeya river tying a rope around him in putrashoka but the pasha(rope) gave way and the river refused to drown him hence the river was named Vipaasha(freedom from bondage) river which was later referred as Vyaasa river and now as Beas.

A view of Vashisht temple from Ram temple

A view of Vashisht temple from Ram temple

The Vashist kund, a hot sulphur spring is believed to be invoked by Lakshmana during Ramayana by shooting an arrow to fetch hot water for Vashista rishi who meditated here for 88000years.

This temple is more than 4000 years old and the water here is supposed to have medicinal properties, anybody who bathes here will wash away all their sins. The kund is today barricaded and has separate bathing arrangements for men and women.

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The floor was freezing but the sulphur springs were with steaming hot water where many were bathing, I sprinkled some water on my head and prayed to Vashista muni.

Opposite to the Vashisht temple is Lord Rama’s temple, the Garbagudi(inner sanctum) is again 5000years old but with new wood carved walls.

The narrow paths house many tiny homes who are blessed with hot water from the Kund throughout the year for all their daily household purposes.

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If you trek up further you will reach Jogini falls but we chose to visit the Manu temple instead.

We parked our car in the market area and walked across the bridge which was like walking on a sheet of uneven ice that was buzzing with vehicles and we were cornered on the frozen mounds of ice that worked like a scary footpath for us, holding on to the railings of the bridge we somehow managed to cross it and headed to the Manu temple which is an uphill climb of one hour.

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We started off with great courage but as we climbed the narrow path was really getting very slippery and felt almost impossible to proceed any further

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but the thought of climbing down was even more scary as one fall and we would end up breaking our bones, to add to the misery were skidding cars who honked incessantly to give way as they could not afford to slow down on the steep slopes and had to take off in one go no matter what, leaving pedestrians crawling on knees and clutching to icy mounds on the edges to save ourselves from the vehicular wrath,

Houses en route to Manu temple

Houses en route to Manu temple

We even tried to take short cuts and ended up climbing on 4legs, finally somehow we reached atop.

Manu Temple

Manu temple

Manu temple

Manu temple the only one of its kind stands in serenity across the Manalsu River surrounded by snow clad peaks is a small wooden temple again with an ancient wooden palanquin and a small idol of Manu, our progenitor.

The village on the slope View from Manu temple

The village on the slope
View from Manu temple

Surrounding it is the old Manali where you can get of glimpse of a typical village, if you don’t enjoy trekking and don’t get a high on history and all its wonders then this place is not for you.

Snow capped houses near Manu temple

Snow capped houses near Manu temple

The thought of a slippery down trek petrified us but luckily we found an autowala who readily agreed to take us all 6 together but cautioned us “memsaab darna nahi aur hilna nahi’, we stacked ourselves tightly into this humble beast and the ride was like a free fall in a waterslide and in no time we were near our parking lot.

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We went back to the mall road for some womanly rituals i.e…shopping and exchange after lunch we strolled around and then headed back to our hotel.

It was Christmas Eve and we were in for a rude shock by our unprofessional trip-planner ‘Makemytrip’ who kept us guessing with unknown cryptic asterisk marks and additional bills every now and then. We had to pay extra for the exorbitant compulsory Christmas dinner party although we had completely paid for the entire 11day package. After a lot of haggling we were really drained and frustrated he finally settled down at half the price he quoted for this party like in a vegetable market, a few Santa barged into our cottage inviting us to the dance party. The kids were very excited and we had to buck up our spirits.

After shaking a leg we headed for the dinner which was a big ‘paisa vasool’ for the non-vegetarians but a big hole in the pocket for us veggies as we ended up eating the same daal, chaawal for a bomb. I would never ever go with ‘Makemytrip’.

That was end of day 2 and we went back to freeze in our beds.

Why Delhi Dumped BJP

Most words emerging from my crossword today “rout, anger, underdog, bend, burst” they all seem to reflect the Delhi mood, the newspapers are wrapped with headlines of how the Mufflerman has emerged as the Pokemon amidst Delhiites twitteratti humour is at its creative best with all kinds of political satire about the boom of the broom and the doom of the bloom.

Arvind kejriwal the man whose face was blackened, called an anarchist and almost ostracised by the media has shot back reconnecting and rediscovering himself amongst people from ground level along with his 40000 strong volunteers who left no stone unturned in marketing their brand called ‘AAP’, call it perseverance, hard strategy or over hyped media magic or a consolidation of the Congis or foreign hand work but the fact remains that the BJP smugly muffed in the last 9 long months allowing the muffler a clear win. The biggest mistake of the BJP was perhaps its negative campaigning and relying only on rhetoric abracadabra by banking on personalities rather than on performance without any strong ground work which clearly set the stage for an unhindered AAP victory.

Pitching Kiran Bedi in the nth minute was looming large the ineptness of BJP in choosing an existing prominent face and blindly banking on starry faces, this did not do any good as AAP knew more about her than the BJP workers, the induction of Shazia Ilmi, pouching of Congress candidates like Krishna Tirath was not well taken as people really looked up for change in the leadership to see a change in the way things worked but by inducting those very people in a new attire was unlikely to fool a watchful Junta. Also the honesty and the upright cop in Kiran Bedi is something that BJP will find it difficult to stomach in the coming days. She will perhaps need lot of diplomatic lessons in the ugly school of the male dominated politics.

The energy of a cosmopolitan Delhi was well captivated by Kejriwal with clever social media tactics, there was this viral spoof video of Kejriwal doing the rounds which had shown him as a drama king but recently I came across this one. Do click on the links and watch the video to understand how well Mr.Kejriwal and his young talented team en cashed on the popularity of these viral videos to undo the damage done by those very videos on his reputation, this spirited makeover attitude along with his acceptance of past mistakes without conceit and door to door campaigns talking to every house and the enormous social media mind making that they pitched in was really astounding, this has been the best management lesson so far to make fortune from a fallacy we would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t concede to his unwavering determination to pursue Delhi, while Kejriwal was busy cementing his porous political wall the BJP was still honeymooning, badmouthing and boot licking the Americans, their over-dependence on Modi for everything and Amit Shah’s strategies that seemed very predictable and lacklustre without any solid work done.

The people have voted for a change to make India free of corruption, free of mindless caste reservations and caste quotas with a dream to have only merit based selections for all educational, employment opportunities where there is a uniform civil code of conduct for all with clean water to drink, unadulterated and affordable vegetables and grains to eat, clean and safe roads to move around, good education at lower costs, we cannot understand how nuclear energy is good for India when America does not have one since 1979 nor do we understand the gum chewing protocols at a republic day event as we the commoners don’t even understand what constitution is all about as we can never comprehend what the hell is written in it, only Manish Tiwari, Mani Shankar Iyer and other Stephenly clan can attempt to decode it. We the commoners cannot understand why our humble prime minister had to get a designer suit worth 10lakhs from London while coining slogans of ‘Make in India’, okay he might be misled by a Zionist designer who is all out to defame him stealthily but what then are we really making in India __ ugly political concoctions luring insignificant people like Manjhi. No! We send rockets to Mars as well! Now with reservations we get leaders like Manjhi with merit you will gets Mars Mission but unfortunately we are still struck with secular communal caste debates when all our country needs is merit and swift actions. Today’s news headline is “Christian school attacked’ now who is communal? the media or the masses? I am perplexed, recently 30 nursery kids fatally injured in a bus accident near Ram Nagar in Karnataka but who cares when it’s not happening in Delhi or Mumbai.

But why am I talking irrelevant stuff amidst Kejriwal’s glory, for the simple fact that each day of this BJP rule should be well utilised and put to the fullest use to curb and reform our corrupt system reeking of red tape and multi layered hypocrisy oops bureaucracy! only then will the losing grip be reinstated only then can we become a developed meritorious nation. To cry that AAP won because of media glare sounds like a sour grape story, if Kejriwal promised “cheaper electricity and free wifi” what stopped BJP from countering it with “online Khata” but unfortunately the BJP was having a hangover of Loksabha when AAP was having hangouts on google.

At least now instead of pretending to celebrate Congress decimation the BJP must realise that nobody is indispensable in a democracy and introspect hard as to what really led to 67:3 ratio which is something serious and certainly 3 is not very far off from 0, not that we are not aware that Jamaat Ud Dava is a cloned offspring of Lashkar I Taiba and that even if it is banned/decimated it’s offshoot will still pop up like an online ad at a different location in disguised DNA s which people of Delhi will realise a little late in the day but the point is AAP has clearly outsmarted BJP in all its campaigns by playing the holy cow on television media while it did vilely take to ugly gimmicks like this on social media to defame and discredit an honest and upright Kiran Bedi by pulling up her estranged marriage issues and discrediting her of her brave honest image by attributing those stints to someone else, we all know that Kiran Bedi was the iron lady who had the nerve to tow Indira Gandhi’s car when it was wrongly parked, we all know that the media would grab every chance to vilify and demonise Modi but what we don’t know is if Modi would stick to his ‘man of action’ image and display this iron will?

Manali, the land of Manu

Manali gets its name from Manu, the first man on earth, the progenitor of humankind as per our Puranas. Before we proceed with Manali let us rewind a little and catch up with the story of Manu which goes like this:

One day when Manu rishi was giving ablutions he found a small fish in his palm which pleaded to be saved from bigger fishes, Manu moved it into an earthen pot but the fish outgrew it only to be shifted to a big pit, a lake, a river and then finally on releasing the fish into the ocean it warned him against an impending catastrophic flood that would submerge the whole world in water. It also informed him of the exact date and time of the deluge and instructed him to build an arc and collect all seeds and species of different forms of life to begin a new world along with the saptarishis.

On the day of the deluge Lord Vishnu in his gigantic Matsya form tied the mast of the arc to his horns and escorted Manu and the Saptarishis to safety in the Northern Himalayas who then descended in the land that is today called Manali(Manu Alaya__the abode of Manu).

There are many other arc/flood stories which are a spill-over of the Matsyaavatara katha written in our Veda-puranas.

The Bhagavadgita says that each Manvantara = 71 Mahayugas(306,720,000 years) and each Mahayuga = 4,320,000years, each Mahayuga is in turn divided into 4 yugas namely

Satya Yuga or Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga,Dwapara Yuga, Kali Yuga

Lifecycle of earth comes to an end after every Manvantara washing away all evils only to start a new one afresh. Apparently one day of Bramha, the creator of this cosmos is 4.32billion years as per the Hindu time calculation and each day of Bramha consists of 14periods or manvantaras. So every Manvantara will have a Manu or a progenitor to lead the human race, the manvantara is named after that particular Manu.

We are currently in the Kali Yuga of the 28th Mahayuga in the 7th Manvantara which is called Vaivasvata Manu.

Brahma creates at the beginning of his morning and merges everything into the absolute before he sleeps.

Essentially our Tsunamis, volcanoes, nuclear wars, ice ages maybe a bed time story for Bramha.

The word “Man” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Manushya” and Manu is symbolically the first man on earth, the word “manuscript” is also derived from “Manusmrithi”, the book of laws written by Manu for mankind.

Okay now! before I scare you off with this mythological overdoze let me quickly take you into the splendor of this dazzling hill Manali.

Manali is a photographer’s delight, a traveler’s frenzy, honeymooners’ paradise and an adventure lovers’ den bustling with hiking and biking freaks.

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The drive to Manali is breath taking with the Vyas river snaking picturesquely amidst the curving Ghandarva mountains,

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I don’t know why many states in India goof up the “Va” sound and corrupt it with “ba” sound, the Vyas river is referred as Byas river which the British further corrupted as Beas river. Whatever the sound the Beas/Vyas River beguiles you with its breath taking vistas.

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Although this is a highly seismic prone area the authorities have built tunnels, one such interesting tunnel that runs for 2.75kms is the Aut tunnel in Mandi district.

We reached Kullu around 4.30 and spent some time in the weaving factory which happens to be the only shopping place that most drivers will take you to.

kullu weaving factory

Shimla to Manali is 260kms which took us 9 long hours we had started at 9am and reached only around 6 in the evening of course with a couple of breaks for lunch and shopping at Kullu

The drive was really scenic, serene and safe, thank god Himachal Pradesh is plastic free, there is an unbelievable driving coordination amongst drivers who readily give way and wait patiently without much honking or overtaking, you don’t get to see this etiquette anywhere else in India, also one cannot play music while driving which was a big respite for us from our driver who was a Honey Singh devotee.

We reached our Hotel “Holiday Resorts and cottages” by evening, it was already dark and the temperature was freezing below zero degrees.

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Our room was right in front of a snow capped mountain and the paths leading to the cottage were picketed with walls of frozen snow forcing us to cover every inch with layers of woolens that we looked like bloated bean bags in the dinner room.

Our cottage had 4 rooms with a common living and dining area that we monopolized occupying 3rooms, the ambience was perfect for a ghost story but we were tired and felt like frozen peas getting thawed before a frail heater whose effect was almost non-existent in the biting cold night.

A view from our room

A view from our room

In the morning the temperature was still ice cold and we shivered at the thought of coming in contact with water but the morning view from our window was very romantic, our eyes met and after a long intense stare he whispered ‘you are the one to brush and bathe first’.

A view of the mountains in front of our room

A view of the mountains in front of our room

The weather had remained depressingly stoic the past week because of heavy snowing leaving many tourists still stranded in Rohtang and the army was still clearing and rescuing folks out of it. Rohtang was closed so we had to settle for Solang valley.

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But today luckily for us the sun seemed to smile and there was a sudden warmth in the air, everything around gleamed merrily with the bright sun rays and we were relieved that the weather would not play a spoilsport. The barren apple trees that had appeared like testimonials to a murder mystery now looked enchanting like in an artist’s easel.

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We headed for the Solong valley which was 13kms from Manali, en route we hired snow boots and boiler suits to gear up for some snow time. This whole set costs you Rs.250 but if you are equipped with good jackets and woollens you really don’t need one but we hired it just for the heck of it to look a little different for pictures. These shops are usually tied up with the drivers and your driver might insist that you have to essentially hire here but there are shops right at solang valley with all snow gears so you don’t really have to worry about it.

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Solang valley is at an altitude of 8500ft with lots of sporting activities like parachuting, paragliding, skiing, biking and zorbing.

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The valley bustles with commercial activities with a pool of vendors waiting to make brisk business, it is flooded with chaiwalas, vendors renting out Himachali traditional dresses for couples to pose in the backdrop of snow clad mountains, a rabbit-wala whose rabbit you can pose with for 20bucks,

woollen sellers, the yak guys and the maggi wallahs,

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the sports rides all this and much more in the midst of the glacier bowl but the vast stretch swallows all this din and stands serenely surrounded by splendid cedar trees accommodating them all.

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We climbed up to a higher point to get a good view of the snow peaks and some space just for us only to be followed by a costume renting lady,

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the sun was grinning and we were kind of sweating in those boiler suits but the feet was freezing as it the farthest part of body where blood circulation is minimal and also the quality of the boots were really poor.

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We played for almost 4 hours here and then descended back for lunch with a heavy heart after a brief stint at biking as we really longed to spend more time but we had not realized that we were already sunburnt in this freezing month of December shunning all our fears of traveling in the dead of the winter that we had dreaded initially.

We had lunch at the mall road and did some shopping. Although Manali is supposedly expensive for shopping we ended up shopping, on returning to the hotel it dawned upon me that I had to do what I am best at……Exchange!

(Yes the next day I had to go back to Mall road because shopping feels incomplete and unjustified if I didn’t go for exchange) After that we headed back to the hotel and that was the end of day 1 at Manali.

I have already hit 1400words now so will come back with another post on our Day 2 at Manali.

Musing Behind The Mufler

The Obamas have come and gone yet another time, whether it was of any significance to India’s sovereignty or detrimental to the long built relationship with Russia who cares about it as long as the muse sizzles in his muffler grabbing prime time space with his uncanny knack of sprucing spices out of a bitter split up satiating the media oomph for pseudo-secular sycophancy. Arvind Kejriwal, the poster boy of Delhi the synonym of the common man with his symbolic broom stick and the muffler is back in action after dumping and degenerating hopes and Crores of rupees down Delhi’s drain.

The large anti-corruption image that brewed up quickly amidst a corrupt congress regime cascading a clean aura upon Kejriwal with ease until recently in 2013 has now stagnated and has bred a new cult of voters, the cult that is smitten by the anopheles of scrutiny who will now introspect hard and read between every line as they now know that the man who cried the loudest about corruption joined hands with those very corrupt people against whom he breathed fire now stands exposed and has proven that opportunism is the mother of hollow hypocrisy.

Today Arvind Kejriwal making spiteful jibes and calling his ex-colleagues as opportunist reeks of narcissism or nervousness or both is for Delhiites to decide.

Okay even if it required him to play an opportunist to take control of the failing state of a corrupt capital why then did he go back to street activism when he was the one in power? What was the extreme moral compulsion to quit when he had already compromised on his party’s basic ideology of moral tenets while joining hands with a corrupt congress?

Though he was instrumental in reinventing the terms RTI and Jan Lokpal Bill into the lexicon of the common man alongside Anna his large political aspirations perhaps drifted him from the crux of his crusade and led him to grossly miscalculate and misread the mood of the nation.

Scanning his job history I found this:

1985-Joined IIT Kharagpur (ok highly recruit able but didn’t know he would cut the branch he sat on)

1989-Joined Tata Steel

1992-Resigned from Tata Steel to take Civil Services Exams

1995-Joined Indian Revenue Services (IRS) after successfully clearly exams in the first shot

2000-Went on paid leave to pursue higher education with a bond not to resign for 3years after resuming work, during this period he started an NGO called Parivarthan while he was taking government salary.

2003-He resumed work and continued for 18months and went on unpaid leave for next 18months

2005-Started another NGO ‘Kabir’ along with Manish Sisodia while he was in Government service

2006-Quit IRS stating that 18months work and 18months unpaid leave had justified the 3year clause his resignation was only accepted in 2011 after he paid the dues of 9+lakhs.

(This honest officer was never transferred out of Delhi, the norm for transfers is once in 3years)

2011-Started the India against corruption alongside Anna Hazare

2012-Formed Aam Aadmi Party on 26th November

2013-Elected the youngest CM of Delhi on 27th December

Jan 6th 2014– Kejriwal claimed he would not contest Loksabha elections

He went around subsidizing power without any practical back ups

January 17 2014– there are news reports that Kejriwal rethinks his decision not to contest

January 19th 2014– Kejriwal declares he will contest Loksabha elections

Jan 31st 2013-The National thermal power corporation (NTPC) had rejected AAP’s plea not to stop power supply to BSES Yamuna power Ltd for defaulting payment citing lack of funds to pay NTPC , BSES Yamuna Power Ltd the backbone of Delhi’s power supply has threatened to cut power supply to Delhi for 10hours

February 13th 2014– the controversial Jan Lokpal bill was tabled in Delhi Assembly without sending the bill for recommendation to the Lt.Governor before introducing it in the legislative assembly but Kejriwal refused to follow any constitutional protocols and threatened to resign if the bill was not passed in the immediate upcoming assembly session even without a debate. If Kejriwal was serious about bringing the Lokpal why then did he let Lokpal to be bogged down by egoistic autocracy instead of a strong sensible debate?

http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/read-delhi-lt-governor-s-message-to-assembly-speaker-not-to-take-33584.html?page=2

February 14th 2014– The cupid struck Kejriwal and he made the supreme sacrifice of the chair for the love of Lokpal or Loksabha we don’t know!!

The job hopper in Arvind Kejriwal orphaned Delhi in just 49 days and that he calls Delhi to vote for him yet again sounds like a desperate child who lost his tart for the toffee with no vision. The people today are skeptical that Lokpal was a scapegoat or an exit strategy for AK’s Loksabha run else one can easily see through why a CM of a state shunned away from a debate for which the people had voted him.

Aspirations are good as long as they don’t become overtly overambitious hare-brained misadventures but for the man who claims to be the simplistic Aam Aadmi, maintaining the credible equinox of polity and principles is the need of the hour, talking about why he is good for Delhi and why people of Delhi should believe him yet again after expending crores into futility would perhaps do more good to his image instead of instigating ugly jibe wars and engaging in mud-slinging, rhetoric, cheap gimmicks, cheap comments like a seductive siren in an Ekta Kapur soap where all roads lead to destruction of civility.

Whether he is an anarchist or antidote to our corrupt politics as he claims one can only hope that he doesn’t make a claim to contest against Obama in the next US presidential elections!!

When AK became PK

I have never done a movie review before but this one although a little late was compulsive not because of the hype and controversy but because of the blatant insensitive hypocrisy of the celluloid who shape millions of minds.

I normally watch Aamir Khan’ movies without any scepticism because they are usually watchable with family with a well written and well told story so after much anticipation I watched the movie PK leaving aside all prejudices.

The movie begins with Aamir Khan doing a Kate Winslet when he lands nude in a Rajasthani desert posing with only a necklace but much to our surprise it suddenly turns out like Kapil’s Comedy when his space ship remote, a chain like accessory is chain snatched leaving the nude alien with the famous tape recorder, remember the extensive promos of PK!

I almost thought it was a film to encourage some scientific temperament but this alien is more interested on religious research work, no! you got it all wrong, the alien is truly secular where only 97% of the movie is Hindu deriding and rest 3% is allocated delicately to other non-interfering and peaceful religions, now don’t ask me why he grabbed an obsolete tape recorder in this mobile era but whether he grabbed a tape recorder or a gramophone disc is really immaterial as long as the marketing decibels trumpet about the egalitarian rights of males in a female dominated Bollywood where sleaze is constricted only to item girls.

Anushka Sharma plays Jaggu, not the chota bheem Jaggu! a poetry lover who falls in love in 5minutes and gets dumped in 2minutes at the altar by a Pakistani boy in Belgium as the boy neither has a smart phone nor is smart enough to get a data connection on his phone but it is all the Hindu Godman Tapasvi Maharaj’s fault as he had predicted their break up and is solely responsible for the lovers not pursuing their love. Anushka lives up to her role and at times has outdone Aamir although the lip redo will take us a while to accept but the problem is the goof up of the story.

Aamir Khan the Charlie Chaplin like confused hobbit without any language codes embedded into him who can only communicate by reading minds by holding hands roams around mutedly stealing money and clothes from men and women from dancing cars, the idea of dancing cars is a recreation novelty in a rigid rural Rajasthan where urban coats meet rural lehangas to pay homage to Adam and Eve, anyways incidentally the alien is hit by Sanjay Dutt’s vehicle who makes a cameo as Bhairon Singh a village folk ends up taking care of the alien, on realising the hitches of this touch mode alien he converts him into the voice mode by introducing him to a prostitute whose Bhoipuri binary code gets downloaded into the alien in 6hours by holding hands. Aamir’s acting gets monotonous in this movie with his usual wide eyed gestures, that the script requires the alien to be wide eyed forces Aamir to further widen his eyes making it too dreary, artificial and forced. Aamir’s best efforts to look different in each movie has gone awry in PK even the acting is far too mediocre killing all our expectations.

Jaggu now a reporter spots Aamir the alien in the crowd with long ears sticking out quite naturally and is amused by his erratic ways of finding god by posting missing pictures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses on the streets. She shadows him for his secular approach and figures out that he is an alien looking for his lost remote and is seeking god’s help as people tell him that only god can help him find it ___ “sirf bhagwan hi madath kar saktha hai” after which he begins his hunting stint for “bhagwan” in temples, mosques, churches, Gurudwaras provoking controversies if not thoughts he is eventually branded as PK (pee kay meaning boozed up) by people around.

There are some funny scenes here and there when the alien tries to understand the various customs of different sects that are in stark contradiction to each other which easily tickles kids but the funny quotient soon loses grip and trickles out as blatant mockery of Hindu beliefs. At one point the humour subjectively turns hurtful where Aamir Khan smears paan as kumkum on a round stone to prove a point and people start worshipping it but who decides where and how one should pray? Of course there have been funny movies like Johnny English mocking the would-be pope but never about the beliefs and practices, will Aamir and Rajkumar Hirani show this innocuous courage about namaz? Thank god the remote was apparently with the evil Hindu priest and not the pope or the prophet else Bumman Irani would not be pointing about his pierced buttock instead he would have gone missing or would not have his head between his shoulders.

I do not know why people of Aamir and Hirani’s caliber had to resort to cheap slapstick scenes like Lord Shiva running out of a toilet and hiding amidst people’s feet and use lines like “Jo dar gaya wo mandir gaya” which was irrelevant and could have been portrayed in a more subtle way.

Sanjay Dutt who in real life is convicted in the 1993 bomb blast ironically gets blown in a bomb blast abruptly without any connect or significance to the storyline but never mind the unusual questions and looks of the alien take him to a prime time debate on national TV, he questions Godmen and calls them ‘wrong number’, the TV debate is set on fire when Anushka’s Pakistani love story goes live and it is here on national TV that she comes to know that the whole ditching drama was because of a silly cat but there is no shame in being secular and that too in a Hirani film, eventually the godman loses to the scholarly questions by PK and PK gets back his remote without anybody knowing that he is an alien. In true bollywood style the alien ends up falling for the girl but never gets to romance her like in all his films. He finally embarks on his journey with loads of Duracell batteries only to come back with another good looking hobbit that looks like a fairer version of Neetu Singh.

PK is more like a PJ where in the first half you try to understand the numerous characters introduced and in the second half you are trying to connect the story so far, of course it looks like they are struggling all along to make a point or two and give a message to temple going duffers amidst loads of Hindu bashing but emotions strode really high and I was completely overwhelmed with its creative script writing and almost on the verge of tearing my neighbours’ seat at one particular scene when the whole of the Pakistani embassy folks __ the liberal messiahs__rejoice and celebrate the love story and say “jaggu ka call aagaya” as if it were a call from Obama.

For PK’s information only

Idol worshipping is done solely to fix our concentration because the whole world believes that God is everywhere but nobody prays in a toilet. Praying is an attempt to keep your mind steady to put your soul at solace for which you need focus and a spiritual decorum that is the reason we have a dedicated pooja room/prayer place at home, that is the reason people go to a temple, masjid or church or gurdwara where one achieves concentration by focussing mind on a form which could essentially be an idol, a book(quran) or a picture, whether I call it as Krishna, Rama or Vishnu or Shiva or anything else is my choice and my belief and nobody’s business to poke fun.

Also a temple sanctum is considered holy because of the Vedic mantra chanting that invokes positive vibrations and energy for all and this is precisely the reason Vedas are recited in the Buckingham palace

Veda Chanting by British Kids in Sanskrit at the Buckingham … and the Gayathri mantra is aired as a morning show in Britain radios, the USA has set up a vedic city to promote our Hindu values but here are our stalwart crusaders of secularism who go all out to rebuke our faith, I am not even sure if the movie was really conceptualized to give a social message as most commercial flicks or TV shows today know that religion and only religion sells faster than anything else in India more so when it is a derogatory about Hinduism. But any amount of jingoism about pseudo secularism and selective democracy will only lead to more radicalisation of the society polarising one sect against another.

PK was a huge disappointment and a complete waste of time and money as the story is no novelty and thoroughly loses grip forcing many irrelevant scenes and characters without any substantial hold on the subject taking undue liberty in outraging beliefs in the guise of freedom and creativity. I wonder why Leela Samson didn’t quit over PK we should thank her for not banning this movie as it clearly exposes her bigoted clan who are all bent upon denigrating Hinduism.

Raising awareness about the evils of any religion is fine but doing so selectively and insensitively without talking about evils of shariat laws, rampant conversions, women’ rights, and only stalking Hinduism on all its aspects is like a witch hunt that exposes their chicken headedness or bias or both.

I could still agree with Aamir that all godmen are thugs and thieves if he donated all those crores collected from PK to

run orphanages or schools or hospitals like what some unholy evil Hindu Godmen are doing, Aamir are you listening?

A Trek To Kufri – Shimla

Delhi to Shimla is 360kms which is an 8hour drive, we started off at 10am from Delhi, our driver was furious at us for being late by almost 2hours but we couldn’t help it as we were still getting accustomed to the chill weathers. The traffic in Delhi was more menacing than Bengaluru eating into our already delayed schedule but soon enough we were zooming off on the grand trunk road __ built by Sher Shah Suri.  Plush yellow mustard fields stretched on both sides of the road, the golden yellow that was evident even amidst the fog, my hands itched for some still photography but one look from our hyper angry driver we were reduced to high school students refreshing history lessons recollecting who fought against whom in which battle as we passed places like Panipat, Kurukshethra. The drive was picturesque but there aren’t any good hotels on this stretch, a good hotel on highways here mean a fast moving dhaba with considerable number of tourists/drivers thronging around there however we ended up eating in a lousy hotel where we were probably the first customers in many days as pat came the Kali dal, Sarso Ka Saag and jat came the Panneer masala followed by a sleepy Alu gobi all in great hurry before reaching its boiling point but we devoured hungrily at 3pm as our driver wouldn’t stop before he covered a certain distance. These dishes are omnipresent through out Himachal Pradesh and Punjab as they are the only dishes that will be served wherever you go no matter what! you will end up eating the same thing over and again and again till you kneel  down, surrender and salute that humble Anna Saaru(rasam) as the greatest thing ever invented on earth(applies to South Indians).

At the foothills in Panchkula we stopped to meet a friend, as if the late lunch was not enough we also had snacks and tea at the friends’ place and began the ascend on the ghats.

Now there are some privileged category travelers whom nobody can ever deny a window seat who can spew like a Dracula bringing the bile out even in a flight then what speak of the low-life ghats!!

We stopped at least 10 times averaging at 2 pukes per head breaking at every 30minutes that drove our already angry driver nuts. We finally reached Shimla at 9pm, the temperature was freezing at zero degrees.

Our hotel Silverine was close to the mall road, getting into this hotel is like falling into a gorge, our Innova just managed to descend the precarious slope. The dinner was good and the room was cozy and comfortable, the room heaters worked fine without any power cuts by the grace of Shyamala Devi, Shimla gets its name after this deity

Kufri

The next day we started off at 8.30am and headed to Kufri, a picturesque hill which is 13km away from Shimla and stands at 9000ft, kufr means lake in the local language. The drive to Kufri was beautiful, deodar trees embedded in snow clad paths led our way

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Lying in the south-western ranges of Himalayas Shimla is a seismic zone at an altitude of 7,864 feet, the highest point is Jakhoo hills at 8051 ft. Shimla was ruled by Gurkha kings before the British annexed it during the 1819 Gurkha War. The soldiers from Gurkha army were later inducted into the British army under the name Gurkha rifles.

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Shimla, the queen of hills as referred to by the British is today reduced to an overcrowded chaotic tourist place with insane number of shacks spilling everywhere ruining the serenity and beauty of the hill which was and perhaps still is an inspirational home to many accomplished writers.

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On reaching Kufri base camp we were puzzled to see a sea of tourists waiting to get hold of their snow gears and mules. Tourism here is at the mercy of unions of mule owners who have monopolized the Kufri hills. There is no other path where you can climb the snow clad hill directly, you cant even get a glimpse of the snow clad mountain without getting onto this path, you have to mandatorily take this 14km narrow slippery uneven stretch covered in the slush of melted snow and mule poop. Even if you tried walking you might be rammed down by the to and fro movement of the mules in that narrow slippery path which might give you a free ice cold mud therapeutic bath so its like choosing between the devil and the deep sea, either you mount the mule for a scary ride or get ready for a slushy sauna.

I didn’t dare to take my camera out here, one fall or splash and the lens would be in deep shit quite literally. After a bumpy 20 minutes ride we could see the carpets of snow spread across far and wide,

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At first I was grossly disappointed on seeing the mad rush of people and vendors rendering the whole place dirty, the path was buzzing like a mini market place with vendors selling woolens, skiing rides, tube rides, maggi and tea. Almost every other slope and every other stretch is occupied for rides and commercial activities leaving nature lovers scanning for a more picturesque and serene place. I was horrified to see a horror house located at 9000ft,

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even more horrifying was this sight of people queuing up for a shooting spree

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A range of glass bottles are arranged and people take to this shooting sport ascertaining their aiming skills unmindful of the sharp pieces of broken glass strewn into the snow, people also dump plastic bottles, snack peels casually without a second thought about mother nature. Kufri is indeed in a sorry state as the entire village sits here selling whatever comes to their mind. If only the HP state tourism board looks into this grossly neglected over commercialized place.

Furry yaks stand like in a Madame Tussads museum posing with lunatic tourists like me who mount it as if it was the Everest.

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We also tried skiing only to be bumped and stopped by numerous other tourists as there is no dedicated skiing track, the white snow is brown with slush here, for people wanting to casually wander around amidst nature this is no place.

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However there is Sulabh toilet complex adjacent to the skiing place.

On climbing a little further is the Mahasu peak, where a temple is situated, from here you can get a good view of the beautiful vistas

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Although Sikkim is more beautiful than Shimla I must say the deodar trees here add to the magic

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My 7year old son was blue with a numb feet by now as the thermal socks were all wet, we poured a hot mug of water on his feet and quickly changed his socks from the woolen guys whose presence made some sense than the shooting sport.

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We had some maggi and tea for lunch, it is the only thing available here after which he recovered and we continued playing in the snow again.

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After spending some five hours here we rushed back to the mule stand only to find our mule boy missing and that he would not come back till he found a new customer, we were stranded for 2hours waiting for the pick up in spite of hundreds of other mules standing idle there who refused to ferry us back also since we had paid for both to and fro we had no choice.

The whole process of ascending and descending Kufri is too primitive and pathetic. The beautiful hill is scraped off of its beauty by complete commercialization and utter mismanagement with no regard for nature.

Improving the access and upkeep of the Kufri hill is the need of the hour else tourists will certainly look away from Kufri.

The evening was freezing cold at -1, we later strolled around in the mall road.

Mall Road Church

Mall Road Church

We were in Shimla for 2nights and only one day hence completely missed out on other places like Heritage walk, Tattapani sulphur springs, Jakhoo hill and Chail village. Ideally you should stay for 3days and 3nights if you want to see around Shimla leisurely.

On the whole we chilled out in Shimla quite literally.

Unravelling the Qutub Minar

I recently visited Qila Rai Pittora the fort city of Rai Pithora, wondering where on earth this place is and who Rai Pithora is?!! Well I am talking about our very own Delhi and its erstwhile Hindu ruler ‘the mighty Prithviraj Chauhan’.

Stepping into Delhi in the month of December from South India was like getting into a refrigerator, it was biting cold at 4 degrees C but we had to drag ourselves to see the places around, bonded travellers that we were this time as I had taken a package tour through makemytrip the feedback about which I will give you later, first lets dig a little into the history of this historical city that saw the mightiest of might in cold fright witnessing bloody blood baths, the rise and fall of many rulers ___ some forgotten and many who sleep here today occupying large graves and gardens with millions of tourists clicking selfies in their backdrop oblivious to the sacrifices, brutality, ravages and gory the city silently echoes in every nook and corner.

Qutub Minar the glorious tower supposedly built by the mighty Sultanate rulers as studied in school in reality unfolds  a gory chapter in the history of India because we were never told that it was built by ravaging 27 temples.

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The Qutub-Minar an ageless wonder stands tall unaffected by the history of fabricated tales silently reverberating our rich ancient engineering skills and technology deployed by our ancient rulers.

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It is 237.8ft tall (72mts) and has a diameter of 14.3mts at the base that tapers to 12.75mts at the top floor. Like most Rajput architecture it is built in red sand stone and is decked with intricately done ornate cornices and cylindrical flute like columns that define the interlocking architecture which appears to be largely medieval Hindu, the minar entrance has stone carved lotuses on both sides of its gate which is unlikely to be an Islamic symbol.

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A LITTLE HISTORY

The Turkish king Mohammud Ghauri who was captured in the first battle of Tahrain in 1191AD by the mighty Prithviraj Chauhan was generously forgiven and let off without judging his evil ambitions, soon Ghauri came back in 1192 AD for another battle when he deceitfully attacked before dawn and captured an overconfident Prithviraj Chauhan who was later blinded and killed mercilessly. Ghauri handed over Delhi to his trusted slaves Qutubuddin Aibak and Iltumash who ravaged the 27 temples housed in the Qila Rai Pithora temple fortress of Rai Pithora alias Prithviraj Chauhan and converted it into a mosque.

It is for this reason that today India and Pakistan have missiles named after them ….Ghauri missile and Prithvi missile.

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This picture above depicts a dome added on temple pillars by Aibak to make it look like a mosque, if you look closely one can realise that this dome is just out of place to the ornate temple architecture, the Archaeological Survey Of India has confirmed the same that temple pillars and remains have been used to erect this so called mosque.

Can we really believe he built this(below) architectural extravaganza?

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Most Islamic rulers those days had their own biographers but there is no such documented evidence suggesting that Qutubuddin Aibak built this structure but Indian text books gloriously claim that Qutub Minar was built by Qutubuddin Aibak.

ANCIENT HISTORY

Qutub Minar is located in Mehrauli, South Delhi a closer look at the word Mehrauli reveals that Mehrauli is derived from the Sanskrit word Mihira-Awali meaning Mihir’s township. Mihira was an astronomer in Vikramditya’s court who lived here with his mathematicians, technicians and helpers.

Historians claim that the minar dates back several years before the Islamic rule, originally it had 7storeys representing the days in a week with the top storey beholding a four headed Bramha holding Vedas which was dismantled by the invaders but the Arabic graffiti and Indologists say that it was damaged due to lightening that struck it twice hence it is today reduced to 5 storeys. God knows why the clouds lost their electrons only here in consecutive years but there have been no radio carbon dating research work undertaken for any of our monuments because any research here would be branded as fringe and communal.

Whether the magnificent architectural lineage of Vikramaditya times was credited to Qutubuddin Aibak on a platter by British historian Cunningham who depicted the Qutub Minar as a symbol of Aibak’s victory over the Tomar kings or the slave king really built it the fact remains that it is largely Hindu in its architecture and hard to believe that BJP chose an Islamic lotus symbol which is explicit on all these monumental edifices.

The qutub minar was a Dhruv stambh or Vishnu stambh that was used as an observatory post for astronomical studies as per historian P.N.Oak’s research. During medieval times, research centres were accommodated in temple complexes, the fact that many Jain idols were found by ASI here proves that it could have been a scholarly place like an Aaghama or research centre. The 27 temples around the tower were probably pavilions dedicated to the 27 constellations of the Hindu Zodiac.

Another professor Bhatnagar who did an aerial tour of the tower observed that the tower looked like a 24petalled lotus in full bloom from the top, also the vertical projection lines drawn from the mid points of stone-flutings on the top of each storey of the tower to the horizontal plane at its base create a lotus flower similar to what can be seen from the sky over the top of the tower.

This is the picture of the aerial view of the minar

Picture credit: lalitude image, akand bharath

Picture credit: lalitude image, akand bharath

If you draw the outline of the bands/cornices of each storey from top to bottom together on a sheet of paper this is how it would look like

astronomical dial

(picture credit: as submitted by Prof.Bhatnagar to HinduJagruti.org)

Apparently a Vedic astronomical dial looks like this(picture below)

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So did Qutubuddin Aibak or Iltumash the desert slaves who had never seen a lotus really build this tower for crying prayers??

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(Read this for more info.)

How would these slaves who came here to loot and plunder ever know about scientific architecture when all they did was hatefully deface Hindu motifs and adding a shoddy piece of dome on our temples to make it look like a mosque that is today called ‘Quwwat-ul-Islam’ mosque meaning ‘Might of Islam’, even if he built it why would he build such a marvellous tower amidst the debris of ravaged temples that too with a north facing gate when all other Muslim minars face west towards direction of Mecca? His own inscriptions say that he destroyed these temples and nowhere says he raised a tower like this. Also most minars are plain and not decorative like this one.

The amazing architecture of the Dhruv stambh is mesmerizingly beautiful probably Qutub-ud-din too was awestruck by its gigantic size and beauty and hence retained it which was later perceived as a tower to cry prayers by intellectual wizards. Cunningham a British historian thought that the reference Qutub Minar signified that it was built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak when actually “Qutub” in Arabic means “axis” and minar means “tower” meaning “tower of axis/directions” which signifies that it was indeed an observatory post built in Pre-Islamic medieval period else why would a mullah climb 379 narrow spiral steps each time for his prayers, if he were to climb 5times 5*379steps daily it would simply drain him out, also there was no mike system at that time so how could people below even hear the prayer cries from that height unless it resonated like in a Bollywood flick where the heroine blushes to the hero’s crooning from a helicopter.

QUWWATUL ISLAM MOSQUE

The pillars in this mosque still have many Hindu God depictions like Narasimha, Ganesha, Garuda, coiled snakes, lotus buds, Kajuraho style carvings that scream louder than our silence of deliberate ignorance.

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Reports suggest that stones dislodged from the Minar had Hindu images on one side with Arabic lettering on the other which shows that the invaders turned the stones inside out to hide facial images and inscribed Arabic graffiti on the frontage. A few of these stones are today cleverly placed in the Archaeological Museums, one such museum is that of Purana Qila where idols with a tag “found in Qutb Complex” are tightly pressed against walls with no scope for any surveillance and photography is strictly prohibited in this museum when all other museums are thrown open for filming and photography.

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The mosque looks like the praangana of a South Indian temple with carved pillars and also an iron Garuda stambha.

IRON PILLAR

At the center of the premises stands an iron pillar made of 98% pure wrought iron that weighs 6tons, this iron pillar was the Garuda Dhwaj or Garuda Stambh, the sentinel post of the Vishnu temple aligned before the Vishnu temple.

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Till date it has not rusted the Bramhi inscriptions on the pillar states that it was erected by King Chandra which could be related to Chandragupta Vikramaditya; a deep socket on the head of the pillar indicates that a Garuda was implanted here.

That such a gigantic 23ft iron pillar was cast that stays upright non corroded in open air even after 1600 years talks about the high level skills and antiquity of iron use in ancient India before the Christian era baffles metallurgists.

The stone pillars in the complex still makes the whole atmosphere look like a temple, although many carvings of the Hindu gods and holy symbols on the pillars have been defaced, effaced and filled with limestone, the ornate pillars don’t defy its original sculptors as they still depict Hindu signs at every nook and corner of the complex.

ALAI MINAR

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The Alai Minar a 25 meter structure never took form, the half built rubble lies in a dilapidated condition today, it was attempted by Alla uddin Khilji to build a tower twice the height of Qutub Minar with cement and bricks unlike the interlocking architecture of Qutub Minar/Vishnu stambh that still stands tall attracting the world around it.

Thus the first mosque was established in Hindusthan by the Turkish thugs by ravaging a temple complex. It was after this defeat that millions of Hindus were massacred or traded off in the slave markets of Turkmenisthan who were taken through the harsh Afghan mountains that was known as Paariyaathra Parvat but this route was later referred to as Hindu Kush route as most Hindus were killed here or succumbed to the bitter cold, those who survived were sold off to the harems or household, apparently Hindu Kush means “Hindu Killing” as written by the Arab traveler and writer Ibn Baṭṭūṭah, which reveals the brutal holocaust of the Hindus during the Moslem rule which is never taught to our kids as we are completely sickular and only celebrate barbarity as mighty prowess. (The Urdu word khud-kushi means self-killing so kushi means killing)

If only our leaders, the media Marxists and communal columnists who make impressive noise about secular India realize that our children need to be taught the real history even if we have erred in the past, it’s time to set things right and be secular in its true meaning. When there are many chapters educating youth about social equality and how Dalits were ill-treated why not teach about how our Hindu ancestors were brutalised and baptized at knife point by Turkish Moslems? We learn from our past mistakes and every nation learns from its history, Germany today teaches about the Jew Holocaust imposed by Hitler.

But in spite of so many flaws and staring discrepancies in history unfortunately the Indian education still propagates the British written Indian history discrediting our own scholars, professors and Sanskrit writings.

A few other places like Yogmaya temple near Qutub minar is supposed to be dated back to Mahabharath times but I told you we were bonded travelers bound by time, would surely go back to Delhi or Indraprastha again to discover more as travelling really enriches your history acumen and the sense of understanding the traits of world politics that are played out again and again.

Kiss Of Love

After Kerala, Kolkotta and Delhi now Bengaluru is smitten by this campaign called Kiss Of Love that has been newly coined by pseudo liberals and modernists who claim to achieve freedom and liberty through kissing in public.

But in a country that is bogged in rapes, child abuse, dowry, honour killings, female infanticide, where Ghoonghat and Hijab are symbolic with pride of religious values when in reality these women are at the bottom of the pinnacle to voice their concerns, what liberty and freedom are these messiahs of love talking about? What empowerment or revolution will a public display of lust disguised as love bring forth amongst masses that are still struggling with basic things like lack of good education, drinking water, pollution control, food adulteration and traffic woes?

Love, an intangible adoration and respect you show for your dear ones, an expression of care by being there for each other is not just about lip service quiet literally in this context where lust is confused as love. It cannot become a commodity at the hands of media and unsophisticated mania of pseudo liberals who refuse to accept that the kernel of love between a man and a woman is sacred only when it is a secret consensually behind four walls. But the argument seems to that in India when you can piss in public why not kiss… so what are they suggesting that if you cannot control the pissing in public you can justify that by kissing in public?!! But then even dogs kiss and piss in public then why do we really need any social code of conduct at all which is brazenly highlighted as moral policing.

If there was no such need of a code of conduct why then do we need a censor board in movies, why then do we restrict obscenity on kids’ channels, why then do we have something called as public space and private space. Do we lock lips with all those whom we love? It is this social decorum of conduct that needs to be maintained in a society as diverse as ours but it is an irony that in India a man displaying his privates’ will be booked for obscenity but the so called human rights/ social activists will run a cleavage campaign and shout their lungs out to adopt the trashed cultures of the west in the name of liberty.

Moral policing they cry but can we really wear all those fanciful pieces of clothes of a fashion show and walk on our streets? Are we so smitten by unrealistic Bollywood fantasy flips that these day dreamers expect a swarm of junior artists to swing and dance around them when they engage in kissing?

No wonder Indian cinema and media is reported to be the most biased and sexist against women that objectifies them as commodities of sex.

Take any commercial ad or any TV/Movie actress, if she does not strip enough she will be thwarted as non-glamorous. Obscenity is celebrated as bold act.

Will this obscenity and vulgarity that often takes shelter under the name of creativity, elite modernism and liberal thoughts invoke any kind of respect for the women who walk on the streets or will it trigger adverse effects affecting one’s safety?

So are these icons of liberal ideology going to bring freedom and modernity with their wild lip-locking in all that limelight when our government schools are locked and jammed in obsolete wilderness?

I wonder how liberty and freedom can boil down to a carnal aspect. If the furore is to spread love and liberty then they could probably extend it  to all those kids and trans-genders begging at the traffic signal and free them from their destitution. They could even extend this kiss of love to all leprosy patients and soothe their souls.

In spite of so many bigotries in our country that are crying for the attention of our youth today if these misled youth front-ending to settle some political scores believe that kissing under the media glare is all about liberty and freedom then it is high time they look out for ground realities that are really slowing our nation down. They can still kiss or hiss inside their private walls or dark jungles without any disturbance by moral cops or media soaps. But the larger question is who is sponsoring such cheap gimmicks amidst our gullible youth?

 

THE CHOSEN ONE

Bangalore is the place where my father nurtured a dream many years ago, she is the place where I learnt to walk but she no more holds my hand, she silently watches me struggle to get to the other side each time I try to wade through like a lost egret. A new wave of restlessness engulfs me as a balloon of black smoke chokes me and pushes me back to the same spot. I wonder why I am unable to take this trodden path that I have walked all my life. How and when did I drift into this muddle of madness without my knowledge?

Back then I grew up in an isolated patch of greenery amidst a thick groove of guava trees, which was regarded as the outskirts of the city, with not many houses around. The only thing I saw in abundance was the open stretch of fields laden with shady trees that nestled rare birds and plants with exotic flowers that drew many butterflies. This atmosphere made me fall in love with her.

A deep crater lay a few feet away from my house where many trees peeped out at me as if I were a stranger. It was also home to many frogs that croaked their heart’s content, the sound echoing in the wilderness through the breeze all night. As a little kid I shuddered at the thought of going anywhere near it, fearing that one slip and I would fall deep into it never to come out again. But each time the cattle walked precariously on those steep slopes, I was amazed at how they disappeared into and reappeared from it. The huge crater and all its mysteries were some kind of a big bang theory to me then.

Grass-covered paths cut across by muddy lanes with tell-tale footprints and bicycle tyre marks led my way to the nearest shop. There was a serene calm often interrupted by the shrill call of Thammaiah — our vegetable vendor — who usually stacked fresh greens along with heaps of tender cucumbers on his bamboo basket that was a permanent accessory to his second-hand Atlas bicycle. ‘Five bunches for five rupees, Amma,’ he would say.

My mother would bargain hard and knock it down to three rupees for six bunches, to which he readily agreed and sat down by the porch for his glass of buttermilk that she usually offered him on a hot afternoon. After gulping it down he would tuck the coins into his pockets and pedal off singing and my mother would proudly carry back her prized deal, only to be stopped by Nirmala Aunty, our talkative neighbour, who enquired about how much she had paid and how thick or tender the bunches were. The question would soon lead to an elaborate discussion about the whole neighbourhood, ranging from the day’s menu to husbands, to the newest thing procured at home, to the nearest festivals, to when Mrs Pai would be returning home, to the next scheduled power cut. The power cut would remind the ladies to hurry up. My mom would quickly press a couple of bunches into Aunty’s hands and rush back to her routine.

Ours was the only house with a telephone connection and a colour television set in the entire area, but it was as if the entire neighbourhood owned it. Nirmala Aunty and a dozen others had given our phone number to their relatives and friends.

It was like a daily ritual to go and call them to attend their respective telephone calls. Most people thanked us, but Nirmala Aunty would lose her cool if we missed calling her even once on a busy day. This was unwarranted liberty she took due to the close proximity of our houses but my mom never minded it.

Sometimes a neighbouring uncle would drop us kids to school on his scooter where some four of us clung to his fat belly from the backseat and another two floated on the footrest in front, but most of the time I walked down alone admiring my surroundings secretly.

On my way back from school I would usually take a short cut that bypassed the main road and was full of thorny shrubs and desolate fields. An open-step well that was big enough to swallow the sky that reflected in it invited my curiosity. Carpeted with mossy walls this spot seemed like paradise for my after-school fishing adventure. A bunch of kids, we were often escorted by my notorious brother. We would bring home our prized catch in a Nandini milk plastic packet as it was the only source of plastic then. Later we converted some glass jar into an aquarium.

These little moments were very refreshing and liberating for me. Although this whole episode sounds scary for me as a parent today, I must say that those days we were completely fearless. I do not know if it was because of innocence, ignorance, luck or sheer destiny as my parents believed, but we were carefree.

My parents were not as over-protective as I am today. Life then was not so hectic. We had a lot of time for each other, playing forever, yet I looked up my homework diary and finished the homework without any assistance lest I should face the ordeal of writing it several times or being shamed in class the next day. There were no online circulars sent to my parents or any parent-teacher meetings scheduled, but I learnt to be responsible.

I still remember the day when I first witnessed the laying of a tar road near my house. Those smooth black surfaces inspired boundless joy and I cycled on them all day long on a hired bicycle.

There was no traffic or dog menace, nor did we worry about strangers. I merrily walked up to school, kicking every stone I found on my way, practicing some hard hopscotch, but never complained because that was how life was or at least that is what I thought then. Occasionally, my father would drop me to school; the pride in that scooter ride was something I have not experienced in a while even with the utmost luxuries of life today.

It rained while the sun shined and shined while it rained while a variety of flowers with vivid hues appeared in full bloom. I wondered why nature was so moody, but rainbows seemed to form when she smiled. I stood there mesmerised beneath the trees marveling at her beauty. Watching the rain seemed magical to me but the icing was when I could recreate this magic by shaking the nearest branch and walked back home all drenched carrying the jute backpack on my head or sometimes by the side of a kind stranger who sheltered us with their broad umbrellas.

I loved playing Lagori, Four Corners, Hide and Seek and Red Blue Green — a game with skipping ropes on the road. We played non-stop without interruption from any motor vehicles.

But slowly things began to change. A few houses trickled in here and there, a few shops appeared from nowhere and even a temple came up overnight.

The toads had to compete with the loudspeakers now as the air was filled with the catchy tunes from competing shrines. Gradually the silence was replaced by sounds of spluttering and honking vehicles.

We learnt new languages and new technologies. Soon the Utility building, which was once the tallest building around, was dwarfed and camouflaged by many similar looking or even taller structures. My school, which I could see from my terrace earlier, was buried by the concrete jungle. In fact I can’t even see the vegetable market two streets from my home because of the vertical spill-over today.

The crater is all levelled up now and a multi-storeyed apartment complex has come up. The smooth black roads where I cycled are battered with the burden of urban slaves.

The street hawker has become cosmopolitan too; he now proudly flaunts his broken multi- lingual skills in his low-waist jeans. Thammaiah has shed the bamboo basket and he calls himself Big Basket.

People throng to Bangalore for greener pastures each year, unknowingly ripping the green out of her, but still she welcomes them all into her cool canopy. I have accepted it all – just as she has. It is not only me adapting to the habitat, even the grasshoppers, squirrels and those mean eyed chameleons that earlier crossed the narrow paths mindlessly are now more careful lest they get crushed under wheels mercilessly.

There are no open fields left now as everything is marked ‘This property belongs to so and so….’ She is a clogged mess I cry but I don’t stop my affair with plastic in shopping malls where I buy what I see and not see what I buy, unlike my parents who planned their quarterly shopping ritual with dedicated jute bags for specific groceries.

Today that jute bag makes me look old fashioned as everything is finely packed. Canned/ boxed food is in vogue. How can I not be in that league? I turn back and notice chaotic vehicles smoking out around me, blurring the sky with devilish grey soot! The signal turns green and I have to rush. It’s been like this for so many years now. My children no more reuse calendars or newspapers to wrap their books, but they are required to craft fresh paper to campaign for a Go Green initiative at school. They never walk to school alone as I escort them everywhere like a guard. Homework is no child’s play as it is mostly for me and Google to figure out; excessive writing home work could even land the school in legal trouble — claims my son’s class teacher.

In this WhatsApp era where emoticons are more explicit than my eyes and Facebook is better than my face; where emotional health improves with the number of Likes, children get angry without ‘Angry Birds’ and clash with parents for ‘Clash Of Clans’, I have to show them a YouTube video of how Lagori is played.

My city has also borne the brunt of the IT bazooka that has replaced everything around me.

Mauled by the mall culture I do not know why and when my green city turned into a garbage city because people then were not so qualified as compared to today’s educated and elite citizens. Today we have coined the word segregation, but back then my parents reused and recycled things without being told.

I already sound like a five hundred year old to many newcomers who come here for a livelihood and have no idea about how I feel about my city.

They refuse to respond well to my language and culture and call me ‘that local’. I am no language fanatic or a rigid native, but it hurts when I realize that under this refusal lies an aloofness that denies my very existence.

Unable to cope with the urbanization I have myself today moved out of Nirmala Aunty’s neighbourhood into this vertical home where neighbours change like seasons and I stand amidst them like a robot in the lift. People ensure that our eyes don’t meet else they might have to flash a plastic smile. In this virtual abode my ceiling is their dance floor and my floor does not belong to me, your loud guffaws and gossips in common-areas are the sole reason my concentration levels are improving, your chimney smoke is my room freshener and I seek solace even in their thumping footsteps and dragging furniture.

I walk these walled paths in the evening convincing myself that I am secure at home – that I don’t have to worry about a chain snatcher when I stand admiring the clear skies outside or about a stalking stranger upon entering my mortgaged territory, which is regarded as elite by maid servants and rikshaw pullers. Nobody knows where I disappear in this maze of steps, floors and foyers.

Gone are those days when I slept on the terrace watching a million stars smile. Gone too are the sparrows. I am now left chasing pigeons out of my balcony, no I am not a racist! Gone are those empty streets and open fields that let my imagination flow.

Go Green! Save the Earth! Stop Global Warming! they cry! But each day a new garbage mound grows and a new apartment building comes up, oblivious to the already over-crowded, concrete jungle. Migrating into this hegemony of buildings and apartments where every patch of land is bequeathed or betrothed to a builder, planting a sapling is a ceremony.

Lakes, fields, grooves all of them are gone. Bengaluru or Bendhakaaluru the place where I was born and bred that used to be the green cradle which drew my forefathers to her.

But today I wonder why she is the chosen one?

This article has originally appeared on the Earthen Lamp Journal