Thursday, December 07, 2006

Postcard from pondicherry

At pizza hut in white town or french pondicherry... as a friend says, probably the only pizza hut with beer on the menu!

Friday, November 17, 2006

danza con mí, mi querido

Before you start looking it upon babelfish, it means "dance with me, my darling"...
Yes. This post is inspired after an hour of salsa in havana. For the uninitiated, havana is a pub with a dance floor in Raintree ( a star hotel in alwarpet). And these guys play jive and salsa music every wednesday. And more importantly, you find a regular crowd which throngs these places to spend an evening moving to the cuban tunes.

We ( as in my salsa classmates) had made quite a few plans to hit havana, and for some reasons it didnt happen. Last wednesday i mustered the enthu ( am telling u - i have become an old women after moving back with my parents!!!) and spent an hour over here and it felt really good. There were couple of my "class mates" and a few from the same school i go to ( academy of mordern dance). While dancing in class is fun, "fun" gets a new definition when you are doing it under disco lights and on a sooper smooth floor! Even watching others do some neat twists ans sexy twirls was damn good!

For the record, platinum on Aruna inn also has jive and salsa nights on saturday... yet to check that one out.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tagged : 8 things about me...

I've been tagged again and this time , its 8 things about me... and like 'she-who-tagged-me' i shall try and write things related to travelling ...

Rules of this Tag:

1. Name the person who tagged you.
2. 8 things about you.
3. Tag 6 people.

Name of the Person : Mridula
I wonder where she comes up with the enthu to be a part of so many blogs and contribute actively to all!

8 things about me

1. However hard I try, anytime I have to write about myself or something i am involved with , I always make even the worst sound cute and center the narratives around me - sort of like casting myself in the lead. Its not intentional - it's just an inherent bias i cannot seem to eliminate. So - you know what to expect of next 7 points.

2. The toughest challenge (for me) when I am making a trip, is to constantly remember that my interest need not necessarily match others interests too. I find it very difficult, especially when I start feeling panicky about not getting to do something i had been looking forward to. But I manage - and so far, have managed to do a lot of trips where more or less all people involved found common ground and have enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

3. I found the reason why my most recent trips have been more fulfilling than a lot of others to more exotic locations - I got to plan it. Researching, planning ang organizing is half the fun :) - makes me feel more involved - and all this stems from a more basic need to be in control ! always.

4. I HATE it when anyone tells me that something (something being anything i want to do) isn't possible - I prefer 'dificult' over 'impossible'.

5. I find more pleasure in beautifully beaded words than pictures. And no, i dont think all pictures speak a thousand words.

6. It took me 6 months to put a sitemeter on this blog for the fear of what i might find.

7. I like to listen to sound of silence when i am in a forest - something my friends found totally contrasting to my usually 'loud self' (on my latest trip) and ofcourse took my life for it.

8. I cant stand anyone who tells me that they dont like Chennai or they find it unfriendly without really giving the city a chance. Having said that, I think Chennai and TamilNadu could do with better marketing and more investment from the tourism department!

I tag :
Tarun, Meera, Rags, Kay, Raul, Sriram, Tanu, Mama,

Titbits DandeliGokarna

Just wanted to post some vital info on dandeli and gokarna as promised.

-By far, Kulg(0828-4231585) is a much better place to stay than Jungle lodge Resorts. JLR has too much cement and doesnt give an adequate enough feeling of being with nature.Also, kulgi is closer to the dandeli wild life sanctuary itself.

-But the logistics can be a pain. From the central town, JLR is about 1-2 km, whereas kulgi is about 10-12km. And the only way to get to-from kulgi is through the local sumos (a crowded one!) which are quite infrequent. Kulgi supposedly runs its own van , but this wasnt available when we made our trip.

- Neither kulgi nor JLR are by the kali river rafting point. If you stay at kulgi, you will be asked to call Imam (09448331729) for arranging rafting. He, however takes you to JLR and you raft with John and mohammad from JLR only. From JLR to the point of rafting is about 20 km and JLR has jeeps to take you to and back from the river.

-Bison, the other place to stay is by the 'beautiful' green stretch of kali - and we saw one of their tree houses while on the raft. If I had the money to splurge, then bison it would be.

Accomodation at Dandeli

-There is no way to directly hit the beach - you can trek about 3km from the town or take an auto for about 125 bucks to a point close to the beach ... ou will find steps or a dirt road leading to the beach.

- though sunset cafe or namaste cafe(09448153643/08386257313) wouldnt accept reservations, try and push them for booking. Though i havent seen namaste cafe myself, it sounds like a better option than sunset.

- there is a 'Sugama' travels that offers bus service to bangalore and they had seats available when i landed in Gokarna. So, incase KSRTC is all booked, you can try these guys.

- By the way, did you know KSRTC offers booking from outside karnataka? I didnt and i was breaking my head over how to book the last lag of my journey - and finally one nice ksrtc guy said that it was possible to book gokarna to bangalore tickets from chennai!

Monday, October 16, 2006

East Coast to the West

Chennai- bangalore- Hubli - Darwad- Dandeli (2 day stop) – Ankola –Gokarna ( a day stop) – Gokarna road – Hubli- bangalore – Chennai

That was my itenary for a 4-day vacation to Gokarna and Dandeli – and not all of it was intentional and quite a lot of it was done alone. And to make it to all these places, I took 5 trains, 3 buses, sumo rides, autos – well, a flight figured in too except it got cancelled (thanks to AirDeccan).

Initially, while we were sounding out suggestions for this whole trip, I was the one who kept harping on Gokarna, and Dandeli – And when I realise I needed to almost travel about 20 hours (one way) alone to meet up with the others, I was kicking mysef for not having worked out the logistics before getting other people to join me. The other thing was that , not too many people seemed to have combined gokrna and Dandeli and till the actual trip we didn’t figure out how to get between the points. There was so much planning, trying to figure out the closest spot, the times, the distances – I don’t think ive taxed my brain and google more for any other trip …and co-ordinatin between 4 people with just mail and conflicting suggestions and lot of crazy jokes in between was enough to drive us all mad.

So it is with great pleasure I introduce you to the people who actually made it sane and safe – the I-banker from mumbai, the lucknowi lady and udaipur duo from hyd and urs truly ms.n from Chennai. Except for the I-banker, all of us travelled almost 14-16 hours by train and another 2 hours by bus from Dharwar to Dandeli and a sumo ride to the camp...

This is going to be one detailed write-up ... so i have broken it down into 2 more posts...

Rafting in the Garden of Eden - Dandeli

Sunset on the West Coast - Gokarna

I have always wondered if i would go on a trip where i would "figure it out" along the way - and this one certainly was like that. But I have to say, that the weather certainly made the 'figuring out' process smoother and the company made all teh difference. Ofcourse, one just missed out on couple of spare days for uncertainities!

The last post is on some details and phone numbers - but probably will post it over the weekend!

Rafting in the Garden of Eden - Dandeli

Continued from East Coast to the West

Day 1 @ Dandeli

We had booked our stay at the Kulgi Nature Camp, as we found the rates reasonable and we were promised tented acco in the wilderness– the camp itself was very nice, and the tents… well, they really aren’t the roughing out tents – more like cottages made of canvas… We reached only by around 2'O'clock, so we decided to push rafting for the next day and go on a short trek for the evening. The trek was to a small water fall outside the Dandeli wild life reserve itself– we rested at the water fall, to mostly remove the leeches that had gotten friendly along the way and before we knew it, we embarked on a water splashing war!

Back at the camp, the dinner that night was one of the best – being with nature has a way of making you feel savor the simplest of things -The reguar dal that you would crib about suddenly transforms to a heavenly delicacy and you devour it with such speed!! And ofcourse this was followed by a “party” hosted by the udaipuri duo (btw, this refers to 2 guy from udaipur and who were friends from school ;) ) in their tent. I wont elaborate , but there was a documentary made, a lot of spice dug up, and lots of liquid splashed about.

Day 2 @Dandeli

The next day we were scheduled to go for rafting with the Jungle lodges resort. We were told that we needed to get ready by 8 so we can get to the dandeli town by about 9 … after a few false calls, we got a sumo – to the town – from there to jungle lodges. JLR arranged for a jeep to take us to the river Kali for rafting. While I was disappointed that the river was dirty brown, the actual patch where we raft is a beautiful green. After donning our gear, we were off. John, the rafter who accompanied us, spent 30 minutes in giving us instructions as to how to raft etc., which was really good cos u actually get a feeling of learning something and knowing what you are going to be doing. The training included jumping in to the cold green water to be “rescued” by the rest. We also swam for a while before we set off.

The first couple of rapids were really good, but the others were quite small, so not so ‘thrilling exciting’. After about half an hour we entered ‘Eden’s Garden’ and I have to say it lived up to its name. Green foliage interspersed with patches of auburn brown of some trees, unruly climbers touching the clear green river – it was certainly a stretch untouched by civilization! In the evening, we went off on a safari around the wildlife reserve and watched the sunset at a peak near a mining area reclaimed by the forest.

The one thing I didn’t like about dandeli was that, I assumed that the area where we would be staying etc, where we would be rafting etc., are all ensconced within the forest. But that wasn’t the case and we kept plying into the town and back – so it wasn’t a totally ‘lost in wilderness’ weekend. Anyways, another night at kulgi singing old hindi and English melodies our trip at Dandeli came to an end.

Next Sunset on the West Coast - Gokarna

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunset on the west coast –Gokarna

Continued from Rafting in the Garden of Eden -Dandeli

Day 3:

So after 2 nights at Dandeli, we set off to Gokarna. We were up and ready by 6:30 even though we hit the bed only during the wee hours in the morning – and all our efforts were wasted as the bus lumbered in slowly by 8!!! We went to a place by name Ankola and then took another bus to Gokarna. The whole trip took us about 3-4 hours. When we reached Gokarna, we had 2 options – trek into the beaches to reach ‘Sunset Café’ our homes for the next 2 days or take an auto. Since we wanted to take it light, we decided to take the auto.

The first sight of the beach is breath – taking. As you climb down the hills to reach the beach, you get the first glimpse from high –up and you can see the varying shades of the water – the only other place I have seen such varying shades was in Lakshadweep.

While we had been reading about staying in huts, I guess none of us really thought they were the actual hut huts! A couple of the more “expensive” ones had cement walls, the other ones were fully thatched. To add to grievances of some of us, there were only common bathrooms for all guests and into the back. To be truthful, I was also taken aback – I have stayed in a “hut” in Rajasthan, but that was much nicer. What irritated me was the lack of aesthetics in that place in the sense that there was a lack of order, and signs of bad maintanence. Otherwise, I was ok about getting to stay in a hut. Anyways, some of us were opposed to this idea- but due to lack of any other available acco we stayed put. A nice heavy lunch of pasta, pizza, sandwiches and then we hit the sea.

The kudle beach is kind of framed between to hilly headland projecting into the sea. While we don’t get to see a vast expanse of water, the horizon and the ocean beyond looks much closer. That particular week, the currents were strong and I could see waves right from the end of the horizon almost giving you the feel that the ocean was rushing in on you with an unknown force. We spent about 4 hours in the beach, which got better when it started to rain!!! Another fun dinner with strains of Buddha beat perfecting the ambience of a beach dinner followed by a nap on the shores– we retired to our huts late in the night.

Gokarna gives you a similar feel as Hampi does – you find more foreigners than Indians. This place is a hippy haven is what I read in many blogs, and we did see some action there ;)...There was one lonely surfer braving the waves - the man and the board were an interesting sight i must say! :)

We woke up next day to a rainy morning- one of the bikers from a gang that had come from bangalore had an ipod – so breakfast was accompanied by smell of earth, sight of rain drops and psychadelic rock of floyd, a bit of bryan adams, eagles and def leppard. Sigh ! heaven!

We had to leave immediately after break fast to drop of my friend in gokarna road and to proceed to hubli - and back to chennai! The only regret I have is being robbed of the last day at Gokarna – we hadn’t realised that we would have to so early to get back to our trains and flights!!! And because of packing in too much, I didn’t get to feel the timelessness of Gokarna, one thing I had been looking forward to!!!!

On the way back to hubli

Well, I am glad I believe in next times !!!

PS: I never got to see the sunset!!!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Discovering digi macro

Finally figured out how this feature works on my latest trip - while the post on the gokarna and dandeli is still taking shape, i want to show off my photographic feat :D!!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Caught up in a whirlwind

Is what I feel like right now – lots of things happening, time slipping away like sand through a sieve… trying very hard to catch my breathe and recapture the last 3 weeks.

Deep end of the Ocean…

Is where I was floating in couple of weeks back – nay, actually 3 weeks back. Sis, me and dad decided to go catamaraning (read I decided to go and dragged them along, but they are such wonderful company! :) ). After a let down in MGM, we drove to Fisherman’s Cove which still offers catamaraning as an “adventure sport” and charges a hefty 500 bucks per head for it. And needless to say, I had ‘anjaane’ running in the back of my head, and there was just a touch of fear and a bit of awe for the Sea dashed in to spice the occasion… We rode the waves with the salty spray hitting us from every direction - then the guy stopped the catamaran and told us to jump in!!!!!! or rather jump out .. Scary huh? Anyways that’s exactly what we did – and what bliss! Floating on the huge waves in the middle of the sea with the blue sky up above…

Later, when we were discussing how it would have been nicer to swim without the life jackets, my dad mentions that we could have actually removed them if we had wanted too – his argument is that the 2 of us would have been scared anyways , so his omission is of no significance. Grrrrrrr … But it was good fun anyways…. And not SUCH a life threatening adventure…but hey, u need to respect the sea, never know when she will turn around you just to prove her point!

Ooty trip…

Went to Ooty on an Official team outing the weekend after that… tiring… but the place was Bea –uu- thi-ful… and extremely cold…. Some common sense forgotten… some new resolutions…some new contacts and I should hopefully be able to find emeralds soon!

Salsa night

Our batch officially finished ‘Basics level’ in LA Cuban style salsa…
My 24 and half years sunk in when I actually turned down salsa-ing away in Havana to being a good daughter, returning home at what’s called a ‘decent time’ and hitting the bed early – This is apart from all the time I talk to other people and realize they are all younger than me (but hey – I feel like I did when I was 18, So I figure I am still going good :D ).

I ofcourse made it to the salsa night on 22nd. All the women were decked in pretty skirts ;;) and twirling around :)

Highlights of the day

- finally was dancing without counting 123-456 all the time , even in my head
- finally got to wear my ‘jagged edged’ black skirt !!!
- could successfully follow new steps without falling flat on my face

Road ahead…

Last week has been full of mails between 5 people trying to hitch a gokarna and dandeli trip for the coming weekend… Looks like this is one trip for which I got no return ticket ;) …

Saturday, September 09, 2006

sexy Salsa...

Lots of waiting, a bit of cold feet ( seems like a regular pattern in my life now), me and moi friend ms.u have enrolled for level 1 salsa classes... at the Russian culture centre - we are having fun and hopefully on our way to become atleast some weak shadow of JLo!! Dancing is so much fun, i wonder why i put it off so much - dont know what it does to men, but it sure makes us women feel a helluva lot more gracefull, sexy and confident... these guys teach upto 6 levels i think and they follow the LA plus New York style is what i was told.

And by the end, we women will learn to follow any step of the guys ( if they arent tooo complicated!) which will be fun... so this time around when someone asks me to salsa, i'll be prepared!!!

FYI : Russian culture center is in kasturi ranga road, behind Chola Sheraton. These guys also organise salsa nights - which is something i am looking forward to! Apart from salsa, they also teach jazz, tap dance and ballet. Theres also a pub of sorts ( which is what the Russian center is quite famous for)which is open late into the night ;)

On two wheels to tada

'Things always look good in retrospect' - is what a friend told me and i think thats true... after-the -event recollections tend to weigh down the "bad" while the "good" always dominate... maybe as a part of the process to console ourselves - which makes me wonder, people who want revenge must find it so difficult to hold on to all that anger going for years and years ... anyways i am digressing and all i wanted to say was this effect surely applies to this trip also... in the safety of my room, the heat, the buzz in my head doesnt seem all so painful!

We started off at 5 in the morning ... my friend had a map ( can u believe it, someone in india uses a map! :) )so we decided to ride via beach road - ennore - nh5 - tada and we started off. How come tada??? it was a place a class mate of mine had suggested for class 8 excursions and she described it as 'lush place with waterfall'... and now that i am in the explore chennai mode, it was on my list... while my initial interest had wanned, my friends was sparked and i thought ' what the heck, i might never get a chance again'.... so we were off!

The day was beautiful and hot... all the clouds conviniently dissappearing and dashing my hopes of a pleasant weather - the early morning and the sun over my head were already creating a buzz in my head and i kept hoping it wouldnt get worse. The NH5 is beautiful to cruise on.... smooth sailing is the word that comes to my head .... one thing that i noticed ( and i seem to be noticing very often these days )was the dull blue cludy sky becoming a beautiful azure blue with the whitest of clouds... looks like my demand for beautiful blue skies in India also got answered tht day!

Everybody around the place seems to know of the waterfall , so getting there wasnt a problem .... what was described as a dirt road is nothing like that - its more a stony road covered with rocks, small ones, with smooth surfaces , evenly laid out into a road- and a pain to drive on... at the end is small pond (??) and this is where u should stop- driving beyond here is a pain, which we soon discovered the hard way.... then we started up on the second road- more a trail... no trees, it was sweltering! Then came the temple, and the lady over there who told us the falls was just 1 km away - my heart leapt with joy. But she forgot to tell us that the 1 km was going to be a rock climbing expedition and not a cake walk ...

After half an hour of "rock walking", drinking crystal clear water from the river, some snaps, and some breaks, you come to a point where one needs to climb almost vertical rock faces of 7 ft in height. And this is where i stopped...just like that - and nothing in this world would induce me to move a step forward, and for soome reason i didnt mind it - not mind coming all the way and not seeing the falls! my friend tried goading me... unfortunately something that doesnt work when my heart has no regrets i have to say... so after chilling out for a while we turned back.. ( i did tell my friend to carry on ... but he didint!)

The trek back ofcourse was much longer than the one to the place... as always! on the way back, we saw lots of people, some chilling out at the initial river crossing with lots of booze... the one thing that did spoil the trip for me was the encounter with couple of guys who passed lewd comments about me and were acting funny - and while i had my swiss knife open to slash him i realised, ' i never ever want to use it'! The combination of my tiredness and my headache just freaked me out that moment - and in saner moments i thanked god that i hadnt made this trip with just another girl... things like this is what spoils the adventure of travelling alone, for women especially! yea, please come in big groups - and this place is certainly not family outing spot. and yep, pepper spray - ur on my shopping list...

We did manage some nice snaps over here as the water was ammazingly and beautifully transparent with lovely shades of green...and ofcourse, the stop at ennore, both in the morning and evening was something i'd never regret!

PS 1: biking isn't all that easy as it seems!

PS 2:
My dad when i told him i was going biking with a guy

D : ' who is this friend - he has a name'?

N: '...'

D: 'ok ... you want to take the car? its more comfortable '

N: 'dad, u are givin it to grand ma'

D: 'yes... cool- carry on! dont wake me up early morning when u leave... cos i cant sleep after that ' :D :D

and after the trip when i told him the story..

D: cant stop his 'i-told-u so' laugh 'Good good... go on more trips - how will u become tougher otherwise'

my mom...

M: ' you are going off with a guy on a bike?? why dont u understand ... u understand , but act like u dont'

typical of moms :)

Well, if only u knew .... ....

To travel for the sake of travel...

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move; " -Robert Louis Stevenson

The words seem to mirror my thoughts right at this moment - a restlessness which steals up into an otherwise peaceful existence after just a weekend of routine... there seems to be this burning desire to see new places even before the memories of another experience simmers.... to do new things and experience new feelings ... to meet new people ... a need to be in unseen destinations - even if its just another beach, just another sunset ... the eyes seem to bee seeking something unknown to the mind , unknown to the heart, driving away all sane thoughts, crushing valid inhibitions to dust ... well, i havent truly become that 'wanderer with complete abondonment', need for security and control is there... but that doesnt stop me from hoping i ll get to the stage where i can jus pack up and just roam around for months...

anyways , its become like a race against time to an invisible deadline... like times running out- for what i dont know... but life certainly hac become exciting :) !

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Making waves..

Unexpected and simple surprises that take your breath away....

20th August, 6.30 p.m, Ennore port area

Edit 2:
Since a lot of people seem to be asking - this place is close to the Ennore port , Chennai. Drive down the beach road all the way to paris and keep going towards manali - and on your way u will find it. This region is a little low lying , and hence these cement dykes .The place is also bounded by huge boulders which look like promenades into the sea... lots of tanker traffic, lorry drivers , garbage strewn around still didnt spoil the beauty of the place.... i'd suggest an early morning ride or late evening ride ( thats when we saw these giant waves which come up almost 10 ft above sea level)...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Perspective ....Adyar estuary

Lots of places ....lots of thoughts...lots of pics... i want to blog and get it out ... but the friday tiredness is in my bones... my eyes are half shut and my brain refuse to make sense of the pieces floating around in my head. So, with the little energy i can muster, i am posting this pic - something i dug up from my gallery of pics...

This one's taken by my sis - shades and a scene i havent caught after being a regular!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I've been tagged


I am thinking about...
well, right now a lot of things which all sum up to one word - 'LIFE'
when I started on this post - I was caught up with eight lakes and emeralds... they seem so close , yet sooo far!

I said...
keep saying a lot of things...

I want to...
be able to change my life with a click of my fingers so i can live out every dream - to play all the parts i see myself in!

I wish...
right now for my mind to stop talking to me .....if atleast for a moment!!!

I hear…
music from my laptop.... my mom moving about in the kitchen..... my dad's yawns from the hall (ok - this i can imagine :))

I wonder...
whats the voice of my mind like...

I regret...
lots... and at the same time nothing...

I am...
what I fancy anytime...

I dance...
everytime i hear foot tapping music ... which ofcourse ranges from shaking my head to head phone music at office, to shaking a leg on a floor.

I sing...
when i think no one's listening

I cry...
almost every time i truly laugh!

I am not always...
as brave as i seem!

I make with my hands...

I write...
only post-its and to do lists these days

I confuse...
colours ... i have a tendancy to associate certain shades with other colours names!

I need...
something that i cant speak about!

and i tag Me, Kay...

Monday, August 07, 2006

A peek into my backyard - Mahabalipuram

A lovely trip to Hampi and I was all enthused to go to Mahabalipuram - the remains of the Pallava empire an hour from chennai - after a lot of prevarication, went off for a early morning trip to mahabs . It's changed quite a bit (the last time I was there was in class 4 on a class excursion... ) -It's now a world heritage site, just like Hampi but certainly doesnot match the latters size and spread .... If you are on the ECR, it makes a good one hour top certainly - though avoid weekends as the place will surely be packed with school students .

What struck me was that there were no mountains/ rocky areas around the vicinity except for these monuments - which are all carved on a single rock formation! either everything is burried, or mahabs was just a "showcase" created by pallavas! All the monuments have depictions from mahabaratha and other mythological tales.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Romancing rocks and ruins -Hampi

It was a small sleepy town - like any other in India... a noisy auto stand... peddlars on the road... homes with dung washed "porches" and Kolams in rice flour... cows and crows an inherent part of the landscape - natives here seem to realise that locked in this setting is some thing very beautiful - but whether they themself identify with it is an unanswered question. The laidbackness of the town is a boon - the whole place is quiet and peaceful and the town-life in no way hampers the experience of the place.

Yes, this would have been just another town amongst the million in India, except for the fact that it sprouted on top of the erstwhile capital of the Vijayanagar Kingdom - It is surrounded by the most beautiful ruins and lies cradled in a land of rocks - as much as the place is filled with huge boulders and stark rock facades, it is contrasted with lush dark green bananana and coconut trees - you do a double take and wonder if you have beed transported to kerala. Ofcourse, the green of this place owes it to one of India's arterial rivers - the Tungabdara.

Adding to the air of this quaint cosmo town are the small shops selling bags made of mirrors and bells and the westernised version of indian attire for the firangs and dhabbas serving soem of the most exotic cuisines ever - They may not be able to spell it, but neverthless almost every dhaba serves a range of pasta's , porridges, risottos and some very good cheese omlettes - And ofcourse, the 'Mango Tree' restaurant is a must check out - it is seate on the mountain slopes overlooking the valley below - the place is even better at night when they serve dinner by lantern light!

Hmm.. I wasnt going to write much about hampi, and let my photos speak for themselves - but couldnt stop myself! I think this place deserves a very laid back visit - no need to tick off all the ruins on the list - chill out at the ones which are least crowded , maybe get a book to read - enjoy a tea on the banks of the river - take a coracle (suacer like boats) ride and laze in the beauty of the place - try the "different" cuisines. My personal favorite spot was the rock formations bang opposite to the Virupaksha- Steps and a small stage flanked by huge boulders on both sides - you trek up this place, to a point where you get a beautiful view of the achutharaya temple. While a lot of blogs mention the sunrise, I've seen better in my life - but the view from on top of matunga hill is lovely and wonderfully windy and refreshing.

As usual - some other blog info i liked ..
If dreams were made of rocks - karnataka Tuorism
A drive to hampi
All about Hampi

There is also a tourist office in the hampi market which provides u a map of the ruins plus there are tourist guides who speak english.

Monday, July 03, 2006

N’s List

There seems to be so much to do, to see …. And as I strike items off the list, twice as much gets added!!! While I am not cribbing about this, there’s just this sadness that maybe I won’t get fully done…ever!

Anyways, in the weekend that went by, dad and I drove down to Mahabs…. To take a dip in the sea….something we have been planning for the last 2 years J Drove down to fisherman’s cove (they let you use their changing rooms) … and we hit the water…while I had great dreams of swimming the sea … I failed sadly after touching the water…… (No… I did not forget swimming all of a sudden… and for my defense it’s not as easy as they seem to make it out in Baywatch!) And a breath-full of salt water is enough to convince one that floating (read drowning) is certainly not a way to peaceful death!!!@!!!!

While I scratched that one off, I’ve added on learning to sea-swim on my list… least this time its one for one!

Monday, June 26, 2006

On the bison's trail

It’s unbelievable how dfficult it can get to write about an experience you totally loved all because you can’t get the first line right!!!! Yep am talking about my trip to Topslip….. The 48 hours I spent there keep running through my head… first of all, after a long time , I took the initiative and didn’t get stopped for the lack of “enough people’ and trivial things like that…second of all , the place was simply beautiful!!!!!

We left for coimbatore friday night.... and from there to the Forest office in Pollachi which opens only by 9 in the morning… got the approval from the forest officer…. Booked a cab ( who btw way fleeced us) and off we were…. Even the road to Topslip was beautiful…One can feel the change in landscape as you moved closer to the anamalai’s….the trees looking greener….gulmohars in full bloom painting the sky red…

Our trek guide for the day was Mr. baby …. He was on the ‘Animal sightings’ notice board that day for spotting a tiger on his way to work early in the morning…. I was happy that we had got the man who saw the beast…maybe we too would…. He suggested the trail to Ambuli watch tower and we set off… I kept asking him about the wild animals and if we would be able to spot one , quite like the desparate traveler … and in response he pointed out langurs, hornbills and the lion tailed macaque…. While that wasn't the wild life i had in mind, I found it surprising that even the monkeys were not to be spotted easily…One had to be extremely quiet and learn to discern their presence amidst the dense green intermingled with the brown of the barks… He pointed out holes dug out by bears, elephant dung and the foot prints of deer's bears, and bisons….. Still unable to shake off the DT in me, I was praying atleast for a bison sighting!

The ambuli watch tower itself was just a single room and looked more like the water tank on apartment terraces…. We were greeted by extremely strong but pleasurable wind and an absolutely fantastic view of the entire ranges. Our guide later informed us that, had we been interested we could have packed our dinners and camped out at this spot…… On our way back, we got lucky as our man was able to pick up the trail of a bison… nimbly, he kept walking… he was sensing the animal more than following the hooves…. While we were to follow his wake and keep looking for tracks – there they were… a pair of bisons grazing… One had its back to us while the other was facing us…. The bison seemed to have sensed our presence and lifted its head – and looked us in the eye (or so it seemed!) .. we were transfixed…trying to drink in the animal and at the same time get a good pic…and suddenly with a click of their hooves they sped aways …..We (rather baby) managed to pick their scent twice again… but both times we couldn’t observe them for more than a few moments.

The other thing that made this trek eventful was the leech attack on my friends... My theory is that, the more you are concerned that they might get on to you, the more you will have one yourself!!!!

It rained heavily that night - I had made plans for an early morning trek with the guide, and was almost sure that we couldnt make it...but by morning the rains ceased ... And at about 6 o clock me and he set off... yes decided to go for a trek alone as my friends didnt feel upto it! This time, the trek was even more enjoyable...the route seemed a bit uncharted... and instead of just walking there were patches of pure rocky terrain..... and we reached a place that was close to magical!!!

We continued forward, but this time down the slopes to the valley below as against the usual upward trek to reach a peak.... and the place was beautiful...i wish i could have taken a 360 degree photo of being surrounded by tall teak trees and huge shrubs and and of being in the heart of the forest..... This time again we chanced upon bisons..... the guide was just telling me that bisons have come this way and we heard a click of hooves from the other side of the shrubs.... as we moved ahead he pointed out a spot where the bisons had slept and place where it looked like the bisons had fought..... and before long we came face to face with them again- This time around i didnt even attempt a shot with my 'only 3x' cam. Satisfied with my animal sighting, we headed back to civilization!

A quick lunch, a last look and our trip had come to an end.

All My Topslip pics on picasaweb

Some Information:
1. Getting there : From coimbatore, take a bus to pollachi. From pollachi one can either take a bus or a cab. Buses are there at 6.30 , around 11.30 and 3.30. If you are taking a cab, get one from near the bus stand.

2. To stay over night at Topslip, you need to write to the Forest officer, Indra gandhi wildlife sanctuary, meen karai road, pollachi asking for accomodation. Call them later and follow up. Ph: 04259225356

3. They have lodginfs for about 250 a day while fancier ones are being constructed... if you want some luxury , be specifi and ask for more expensive rooms.

4. There is a canteen, which is a hop , skip and a jump away from all the rest need to let them when you would like your food so they can ge it ready... and the food was simple yet one of the best i had tasted.

5. The rooms have wooden cots - but you need to cary your blankets.

6. Likewise, to return back, there are buses - one at 12.30 and one at 6.30 in the evening.

7. You can reach parambkulam through topslip itself. So if you have more time, check out that place

8. Be nice to your guide.. don't know the miracles he can perform for you. Plus dont ask for an Arumugam who seems to be widely quoted from one blog to the other - it seems to offend the other guides... its unbelievable, but yea competition exists even in wilderness!

9. To camp in the middle of the forest or at the watch tower, you might need further permissions.

10. The one blog which was almost like the bible for this trip : Naikutti's Two Days in topslip

Monday, June 19, 2006

Café De Art

While that’s the name of an Art Gallery in Hyderabad, there’s a group of theatre professionals trying to create an artist’s Café right here in Chennai. At Cedars ( a restaurant), in Kotturpuram, they show case play readings of amateur playwrights… I missed the reading last month and got to go for this one….

The feel is quite different. While there isn’t much acting happening, you get a feel of being involved … of being where the actions is and not just watching it!!!! The audience get to be critics of the play and give back feedback and also question the playwright – how often have we walked out of a play or read a story and wondered, ‘What was the author thinking???? ‘…. Unfortunately, for the one play that I really wanted to ask that, the author was not present….

Apart from the fact that u can also order food during the program, they offer everyone a free drink for the evening (this part must be sponsored by Cedars!).... Food and theatre – think it’s an interesting combination!!!

In search of Pulicat

It can be difficult, but you have to call a spade a spade!

It was a hot sunday. The stars seemed to be with me, for the disinterested became suddenly interested and 4 of us set out in search of pulicat ( not that it was much of a search). It was a 2 hour drive, the last 19 kms very bumpy. The road directly leads you to a small market patch and there the lake lies ahead of you.

The sight before me was a let down. A dirty water front, a group of fishermen hounding you with boat rates, a lake with a depth that buffalos pull carts across and an island on the other side filled with buildings, all of which did not quite sum up to the 'idyllic beautiful hamlet and lake ' scene conjured up by The Hindu. The first thing that came to my mind was 'Whats the big deal??'... While the remaining day was much better, first impressions did color the entire experience....

We eventually did fix up a boat for 450 bucks to take us to the estuary or the mugadwaram... Once you move into the deeper waters, you can start enjoying the lake.... The water a beautiful mix of blue and green... wind blowing through you hair.... 30 mins and we reached the estuary... and o my o..The sea is beautiful... a deep beautiful blue ... The patch of land by the estuary is quite small, but clean nevertheless... and certainly the most ideal place for a peaceful , away from the maddening crowd picnic... This stretch is the highlight of pulicat. One should ideally go early in the morning, hit this spot, take a dip in the sea enjoy a nice breakfast and hit mainland before the suns blazing guns. The other nice thing to do would be to get a huge beach umbrella and hire a boat for a day and float about in a quiet corner of the lake.

We saw quite a few sail boats - but they are for boating on the sea and these fisherman dont really take us with them. The casurina groves or saukuthoppu and dutch cemetry are quite a waste of time. And too many fishermen who dont necessarily add to the joy pf the day. Plus, the afternoons are scorching ( which is what we found out first hand).. and the boatmen dont take you after 5... so mornings are the best times! Beware slighting one boatmen for another, u might end up with a punctured tire like us. And remeber to ask for Pazhaverkaadu as very few in this area know it as Pulicat

The unexpected suprise of the trip was the temple we chanced upon.. Its fascinating...Here in the south, in a human forsaken land there might not be water, but you'll certainly find god in a temple .. and if the pipes work, water in there!! This temple was about 1000 years old and built in the honor of lord shiva. The temple grounds were huge and the temple quite simple. Except for the iyers and a lady there was no soul around. Lord shiva in this temple resides as an 'aathma lingam'. The lingam was initially hidden in a tree, which was discovered by a king. Hence, the entrance to the temple too is set in a hidden way. This is one of the places were Maanikavasagar sang his songs. The walls are covered with inscriptions in Granth.

The quite breeze, oil lamps in the dark, the smell of karpuram and the slow vedic chanting was soothing to the mind and soul , and we left pulicat quite satisfied.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hyding nook n corners

Yes.. My second post on Hyderabad.. Well, it was 2 years, and its not easy to pack all that into just a 200 word post..( more like 2000)! I just realized that I had actually wanted to write about living in Hyderabad...Little things I had discovered... But my previous post turned out to be more of relieving my emotions and feelings.... So here goes another one...

I have never ever surfed for details on a city like I did for Hyderabad... One extremely useful and most likely the first site which google lists : An excellent site for most information - it even lists special nights in various pubs and exhibitions... Talking about websites,a word of caution - one shouldn't get carried away by websites, especially of any place in Andhra as they tend to glorified about a 100 times.. The other most useful information service is 'Just-Dial' So just dial 4444-4444 and get phone numbers and addresses of just about any place in Hyderabad.

The first thing I dug around the place was for a library - and to my shock there aren't any..... Specifically not the small ones which issue a small white membership card, charge around 200 for membership and have tons of fiction..... ofcourse, the most common suggestion used to be British council... Which really doesn't have any books that make sense( in my opinion)... More googling landed me on this site no longer is working, but knowledgeport is a library which delivers books home ...You pay 1 grand flat for a year and unlimited number of books delivered to your door step...And for those who want to have the feel of picking up a book, please feel free to go over to Greenlands - Begumpet intersection and you'll find KP bang opposite to lifestyle... Then, there's this guy who makes tons of money in the name of a book exhibition in Panjagutta...Its actually a second hand book shop - for the first book you pay the amount he quotes... Once u are done , you can exchange the book for a similar one for a nominal fee of about 10 or 15 bucks....And ofcourse, there's always crossword in Shopper's stop.

The other thing I dug around was for any signs of drama or theatre work ... Hyd has a very happening Teluge theatre... But English theatre is non existent... There exists a dramatic circle of Hyderabad, but i have never seen them putting up a performance in Hyderabad. The other group here is Expressions and British council organises workshops and some play readings once in a while.

While banglore is named the "garden city", you'll find innumerable of parks and gardens in Hyderabad too... If I am not way off, I think it was Naidu who took a lot of effort to decorate every one of them with fountains, lights and in some cases music.... The lawns along the necklace road also came up during his tenure... Latest to this collection is a 'Rock Garden' that was being developed along the lake... Free yoga classes happen in some of these parks ( in Masab tank, Indra gandhi park )... If you want to a Sunday evening break and also get mehndi done, u should hit vengalrao park... The women are damn fast and do a very pretty job!

There are lots of resorts like Alankritha , pragathi resorts for a weekend break , but I would personally prefer going to Icrisat - this is a UN funded campus for agricultural research - lovely rooms, vast expanse of lands you can cycle about, a simply beautiful large pool, and a sumptuous continental breakfast... And ofcourse their cakes!!!!

If you are a nature lover, and don't have like minded company, try these : There is Bird watchers society of AndhraPradesh (BSAP). They meet once a month to go birdwatching and go for a long trip once a year.They also work on some wilderness preservation projects.One thing is that, in my limited experience of birdwatching (once actually), i found the group a tad old. Then there is the Save the Rock society - which works towards preserving the natural deccan plateau now being destroyed by steel and cement. They also go on 'Rock walks' once in a month. The organized an Indian Ocean concert once in the Secret Lake, one of the best concerts ive been too.. Wild wood adventures is run by 2 brothers who organize day treks for individuals and corporates...quite ok except that places around hyd aren't exactly trekker's paradise...

ok.. I'll stop here now... I want to give a conclusion , but cant think of anything.. So period.

PS: Some links on HYD

Funny Hyderabad

Discovering Hyderabad

PS 2: Looks like I forgot to mention the sailing club...wonder where they sail ? - on the Hussaion Sagar ofcourse! On weekends, the colorful blue sails dot the lake and is a pretty sight! And there is a horse riding club ( located in masab tank).. They have a damn good deal for people interested in learning the sport.... And if you look closely into the 'events' section in the papers, you'll find horse races which happen quite often...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Shakespeare in India

And that was exactly how the play was done.... an indian cast, speaking in their respective native dialect, costumes which were a mix between the anglo-western and a mordern day adaptation of royal indian..... a Mid summer's night dream it was! the body work of the actors and actresses was simply beautiful... and ofcourse the rope climbing was totally fascinating.... barring ofcourse some scenes which were too real for comfort....

Bucks theatre (nandanam) was a perfect setting... open air, with a sweet unidentifiable fragrance ( i thought it was fro the odomos, but it wasn't... i hav a hunch it was a part of the props to give us a feel of the night... and i almost went mad not knowing where it came from)! For some reason, the audience was quite a regular bunch, unlike the usual hep aunties and uncles who make you wonder where do such people dissappear during the day.....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Departure Hyderabad... Destination Anywhere

It's almost 2 months since I moved out of Hyderabad and I finally have the urge to write about my life there.... for 2 and a half years , we've had a 'love and hate' relationship going on, but as I made preparations to leave the place ,I realised that I was going to miss the place!

It started of on a bad note.... I had roommates who believed that the world ran on the rules of 'saans bi kabhi bahoo theee' and their only passtime was sharing bad experiences about ex's and indulging in never ending beauty rituals... and i never saw them looking any prettier...!!!

I was living in a place called 'Masab Tank'... a place full of a lot of "local" hyderabadis who gave me the creeps... It was a conservative-muslim dominated area with women all the time in burkhas, that i started feeling exposed in my regular clothes....

I had great company at work, but no one to hang out with - for the first time in my life, I understood what being Lonely was.

I would have probably had tons of friends if i had accepted all the 'Do you wanna be my friend' offers that I got...Unbelieveable stuff!!! The scariest was when a negro-ish guy followed me up my flat stairs and when i thought he was goign to rob me, pushed a chit with his phone number on to my hand... During my most bravest, I had a 10 minute conversation advising the guy that one should not "make" friends this way!
And yes ... it is a very women unfriendly city... with men who stare so hard that their eyeballs might pop up of and with crazy jerks who get sadistic plesure out of spitting paan on women...

All I wanted to do was run from the city... but my stubborn half wasn't going to let the city run me out..

I moved next apartment was a gift from heaven - spacious , 3 bedroom with 3 bathrooms, balconies all around the house and in a posh locality for a killer rent! Along came a cool roommate with whom Ive had some of the longest conversations , the most vicious bitching sessions , tons of friends seasons, dominoes pizzas and garlic bread..

For the first time in life, becoming friends was not something that just "happened" ... For the first time , my closest friends weren't from my peer group... For the first time , coffee invitations were for just having coffee.... For the first time, my bestest friend was me.... and for the fist time i learnt to spend time with myself....

Snapshots ill cherish....

-Running till i lost sense of everything

-Working like crazy for the first one year... the best of me showed up only when the rest of office had left.

-Crying over books and discussing them for the better half of my work day

-laughing like a kid over nicknamed collegues and their eccentricities and concocted situations...

-trying new ways of optimal cooking

-lunching at cafe odyssey, hitting pubs on ladies nights , nail painting at imax , coffees at coffee day , and ofcourse eat street on a working day

-endless window shopping at shoppers stop , hyderabad central and shilparamam

-riding a fiero on the necklace road and wind 125 on kbr.... i touched 80 once :D :D.. riding bullets ( as the pinnion rider)

-driving along the necklace road late in the night, and watching the dark water garlanded by a string of light..

-just sitting by the lake and watching the water with my closest...

-climbing the Golconda and transcending time with the sound and light show... i've sat through the show for around 6 times in 2 years!

-watching Indian Ocean perform on secret lake.... if ever there was a place destined to be a stage...

-Sunday evening Chai at the park by the airport

-getting mehndi at vengal rao ark on sundays

- working with the lesser privileged kids ... the look of happiness that your presence brings to them .... it made me so ashamed that an act out of selfishness could mean so much to some one else...

-Salsa classes at oracle... and ofcourse dancing till the dj dropped at every party, every dance floor

-lounging on my balcony and sighing over the bright red gulmohars

-Just the sight of neon lights, huge hoardings and lit showrooms as i came home from a long day of work used to be filling..

It was a life of independence, of total abondonment of sane thoughts, of metomorphised beliefs, of passion and thorough coldness, of hapiness , of sadness... kind of a liberated existence....

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cycling along Clyde....

I had heard so much about Scotland and it's highlands and I was adamant about seeing it... Despite being time constrained, maam's managed to figure something out and we were on our way on Friday to Glasgow...... The early morning Scotland landscape was beautiful... Undulating hillocks, lush green meadows , white fleeced sheep, brooding forests , a dark blue sky lit by a hidden sun...... I was tired of "sight seeing"... And desperately wanted to see the Scottish highlands.. I had spent a good part of the "yesterday" looking up Clyde valley and firth of Clyde and was sure they would hold a path to the highland beauty......

Half an hour of figuring out hostels, a bargain for a 1 pound shower, an European breakfast, a long queue at the info center, a handful of maps and an address to a bike rental, misguided directions, almost an hour of searching, almost a decision to give up on a cycling adventure and atlast a 15 pound deal on 2 bikes...We were good to go.... The guys at the rental marked a trail which we started on... But it was too much by the city, and quite disinteresting when we hit on the bicycle trail to Loch Lomond.... Ofcourse, 15 miles seemed daunting , but I was grabbing any chance I got to get out of the city... We cycled along the firth canal to rolling greens and then to Dumbarton - a length of 11 miles......

A stop at Dumbarton for lunch , with every single part of my body screaming out ... Realization struck... Cycling another 4 miles was going to be difficult plus we needed to return the cycles..... A disappointed us returned back to Glasgow by train.... Not ready to give up, I dragged my friend to the busstop to enquire on buses to lomond.... The girl informed us that the last bus to the loch was leaving... A crazy impulse, 2 tickets , an unhelpful driver and a nail biting ride not knowing where we are going to get off or how we are going to get back, a guiding angel in the form of an old lady who lived by the lake, stop at Luss, a 5 minute walk....... And the beautiful Loch Lomond stretched out in front of us....

a quote from a friend who recently visited scotland "just saw loch ness.. now i am ready to die!!!"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Free for Feedback...

A regular day at work... a window pops up... "Hey , u interested in a 2 day stay at a 5-star? Its free , but u can take only a gal companion ". I thought my friend had gone nuts... I said "ofcourse!!!!" and thats how I got into it...

"It" being auditing a 5 star hotel in hyderabad... My friend referred me to this organization which organises mystery audits of restaurants, hotels, flights. They were looking for 2 girls to audit the exclusive womens suite in a 5 star hotel of hyderabad. Our whole stay would be sponsored. We had to eat in all the restaurants, avail all services , and give our feedback. I was sceptical - Was this for real?????

I brought tanu on board... we started of with a restaurant was interesting. The depth and detail of the audit was impressive..... and then we got our hands dirty on the real project..

2 days went by in a blur... we, hardly got enough time to revel in our sponsored "holiday"... prepared to play the role of 2 hot-shot exec's on vacation, we brought our best, and were at our polished most! we wined and dined in 4 restaurants, 2 lounges , 1 pub.... checked out the spa , got ourself a massage... invited a lot of our friends over .... and in the spare time, filled in voluminous feedback reports!!!!!

At the end, it was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work..... But an awesome experience.....And a different experience... I just so love doing crazy things, something off-beat, something outside my regular work ... that weekend being my last in hyd proved to be the perfect ending to my 2 yeanr and 4 month stint!!!!!

And do u have to ask??? ofcourse, I intend to do more of them!!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

From the Other Side of The Glass...

"The rude arch of yellow basalt thrusts its haughty form into the city's skyline just above a little promontory lapped by the waters of bay of Bengal. The bay's gentler waves barely stir the sullen green sludge of debris and garbage that encircles the concrete apron sloping down from the arch to the waters edge. A strange world mingles there in the shadows cast by its soaring span: snake charmers and fortune tellers, beggars and tourists, disheveled hippies lost in torpor of sloth and drug, the destitute and dying of a cluttered metropolis. Barely a head is raised to contemplate the inscription still clearly legible, stretched along the summit: "Erected to commemorate the landing in India of the imperial majesty's, George V and Queen Mary on the 2nd of Dec MCMXI".

Yet, Once the vaulting gateway of India was the arch of triumph of the greatest empire the world has ever known. To generations of Britain's, its massive form was the first glimpse caught from a steamers deck of the storied shores for which they had abandoned their midlands villages and Scottish hills. Soldiers and adventures , businessmen and administrators , they had passed through its portals come to keep the pax Britannica in the empire's proudest possession, to exploit a conquered continent to take up the Whiteman’s burden with the unshakeable conviction that theirs was a race born to rule , and the their empire an entity destined to endure. All that seemed so distant now. Today the gateway of India is just another pile of stone , at one with Nineveh and Tyre, a forgotten monument to an era that ended in its shadows half a century ago.

And thus begins "Freedom at midnight". Written by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins, it is the best piece on Indian history that I have come across. Such vivid, powerful narration!!!!!! They beautifully draw out the pre-independence India...a picture I never knew existed.... the description of people, places, events, attitudes.... I am sure I’ll remember more from this book than I ever did from my voluminous history books from school. It’s the perfect guide to understanding this nation of diverse cultures, beliefs, languages... to understanding what others saw in us...

The Indian Dream: The Dream of the Brit Youths Then...
"The India of those men was that picturesque, romantic India of Kipling's tales. Their's was the India of gentlemen officers in plumed shakos riding at the head of their turbaned sepoys of districts magistrates lost in the torrid rays of the Deccan; of sumptuous, imperial balls of summer capital of Shimla; cricket matches on the manicured lads of Calcutta's Bengal club; polo games on the sun burnt planes of Rajasthan, tiger hunts in Assam, young men sitting down to dinner in black ties in a tent in the middle of the jungle, solemnly proposing their toast in port to the king emperor while jackals howled in the darkness around them; officers in scarlet tunics pursuing rebellious pathan tribes in the sleet or unbearable heat of the frontier.

It represented challenge and adventure and its boundless spaces and arena in which England's young men could find a fulfillment their islands more restricted might deny them. They arrived in the docks of Bombay at 19 or 20, barely able to raise a stubble on their chins. They went home 35 or 40 years later, their bodies scarred by bullets, by disease, a panther's claws or a fall on the polo field, their faces ravaged by too much sun and too much whisky but proud of having lived there part of a romantic legend. "

"The Punjab was the crown jewel of India. It was a land of rivers and golden fields of wheat, great rich fields rolling down to a distant blue horizon, an oasis blessed by the Gods in the midst of India's arid face. "

"The most bizarre product of the British raj, a strangely anomalous, consummately English creation planted in the Himalayan foothills, the little town of Shimla. Five months out of every year, that miniature Sussex hamlet 7300 feet high tucked just below the roof of the world, ha become a great imperial capital, the site from which the British ruled the Indian empire and its associated satellites fro Red sea to Burma. "

The Maharajas...
"It had once seemed to Rudyard Kipling that providence had created the maharajas just to offer mankind a spectacle, a dazzling vision of marble palaces, tigers, elephants and jewels. Powerful or humble, rich or poor, threes was an extraordinary breed whose members had fuelled those legends of an India now on the brink of extinction. The accounts of their vices and virtues, there extravaganzas and prodigalities, their follies and their eccentricities had enriched folklore and entranced a world hungry for exotic dreams. There day was ending, but when the maharajas of India were gone, the world would be a duller place. "

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Upon the Westminster

Earth has not anything to show more fair
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

- William Shakespear

Friday, March 17, 2006