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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Adieu 2014

Hi everybody,
                          As the year 2014 downs the curtains, everybody gets ready to welcome yet another year. Another year? Yes, every year seems to arrive and disappear so soon before we realize. What each year means to us depends on our personal achievements, happenings or failures. Those of us who are hale and hearty should thank the almighty that we are alive to see the next year. Here, I may sound a bit preachy or philosophical, but each passing year will make us more philosophical.
                         Every year turns to be a mixture of sadness, happiness, hope, despair, frustration mostly because of various acts of humanity. We, as humans, are united only during the acts of God which are cyclones, floods, earthquakes. Acts of terrorism, killings, rapes numbs our minds for sometime. Deaths of famous personalities or our relatives make us realize the fact that life is too short to live with hatred, sadness, regrets. What are the incidents that touched you most?
                             Milestones, accomplishments or successes are not achieved overnight but they are the result of years of hard work and persistence. If any milestone or accomplishment was achieved in this year or any year, it will remain special in our hearts depending on the magnitude of it. As far as I am concerned, it was another year that passed by (yes, very quickly!!) with nothing extraordinary that happened. I am happy that I still manage to keep my blog alive by posting something or other though they are far and few in between. I did about a couple of oil paintings and some in water color. I do not want to make any resolutions, but I plan to do more paintings. My trip to Bangkok has been more than rejuvenating and packed with adventures. Travel is in my blood and I would like to explore as many places possible. The incidents that touched my heart this year were the repeated rape cases in Bangalore schools.  Of all the places, why should it happen in schools? These institutions are supposed to be the embodiment of values and safest places for children. But..... It is not that suddenly these rapes have increased. Parents are coming out in open to fight boldly and seek justice for those crimes. But how much have been done to ensure the safety for those little feet after those gory incidents?? Are the schools learning before teaching those tender minds? It is still a big question mark.
                      This year also saw the sweeping change in political arena with Shri Narendra Modi taking on the reins with an enviable majority. It appears to be a one-man show. Seven months is way too early to judge his governance but is he going to be much more than a showman? Hope the Swacch Bharat campaign will make our Bharat a better place than before at the end of five years. Hope our Government will not impose more of Hinduvata Principles just to create more troubles. If this Government has to make indelible mark in a different way, it has to work in a wholesome manner instead of concentrating on troublesome issues by making Sanskrit a compulsory language to be studied, forced conversions. The awarding of Bharat Ratnas to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malaviya by our current Government seem to make it more political. I do not want to say that Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee is less deserving. But Bharat Ratna seems to be losing its highest value and it looks like another lobbying title in the hands of political people. In sports, if Sachin Tendulkar was awarded this highest honour this year, what about the chess champion Vishwanathan Anand? Does he deserve any less? Veering off the political arena, the other incidents that affected me a lot was the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines MH 370 of which no trace was found to date. As if to add more misery to the Aviation industry, an Indonasian airliner disappeared from the radar 4 days back and remained a mystery for 2 to 3 days. Now some traces of the crashed airlines have been found along with some bodies in the ocean. Travelling by flight is not something that I am fond of and I always pray that we would not have to follow the safety instructions that will be given by the flight attendants. I do have some phobia of flying though I have traveled to many places. The untimely death of Mandolin maestro U Srinivas made me feel I have lost somebody whom I had known for a long time. The words just flowed from my mind on that day in the form of the article  titled 'The man who mandolinized carnatic music-U Srinivas.'
                                      As another year dawns, it is again time to think afresh and look forward to better days ahead with renewed hopes. Happy New Year, folks.
                                            
Love,
Deepa.
                                                 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

To Bangkok-Our trip of the year

Hi friends,
                 Wish you all a happy holiday season ahead filled with fun and frolic. December is the month of the year when the regular and hectic schedule comes to a pause almost automatically , if not for all, to enjoy rest of the days with our friends and family in a place we choose to have. Like everybody else, I also yearn to travel and explore different places, be it in our own country or abroad. We choose a place and book rooms in advance so that we would go there during the third week of December. It has been my long cherished dream to visit Hampi in Hoskote which has magnificent structures of the erstwhile Vijayanagara empire. Hampi seemed to beckon me for a long time, but Thailand or rather Bangkok called me in a louder voice. Yep, it was a place that I had visited once before, but she called me again and there I went!
                                         We stayed for 3 days during our first visit and it was a stopover while coming back from San Fransisco. I suffered from jet lag and though we visited the usual landmark places, I forgot the details of those places. So it was well worth another visit thanks to my husband who was on frequent visits to Bangkok this year. And of course, 3 days is not enough if you want to properly explore at least some places in Thailand including famous shopping areas. This time, the visit which lasted for a week rejuvenated me like never before. It also brought out the hidden adventurous streak in me. ;) If you are  a person who loves night life and endless shopping, Thailand is just the right place. It is less than 4 hours of flying time from India.
                                   After I reached the hotel, I was more into catching up the lost sleep before gearing up for the weekend.We had booked to go to Pattaya beach through a travel company. There were 2 people from Bangladesh to accompany us. Both of them were bankers who had come to Bangkok for work. One among them had gone to Pattaya a few times and he said that the night life there is more interesting and during the daytime the place sleeps! To make the long story short, we cherish the moments in Pattaya with two adventures mainly para sailing and underwater sea walking. It was sunny throughout and there was not a trace of winter season. My hubby ventured for para sailing first and I hesitated for sometime. As they say, if you hesitate you will lose. This proved to be true here. I made up my mind in the last moment to hold the parachute. If I had not para sailed, I would have missed the fun. Those 3 to 4 minutes, I felt like a bird and I liked it so much that if I get a chance in future, I would go for it again. For the underwater sea walk, we were taken to a coral island where the white sands and clear water reminded me of Miami beach. The surroundings were perfect and many of the tourists were relaxing on the beach chairs and sun bathing. But we were in a mood for another adventure. A handful of people including us were taken to a point by the boat. We were given instructions before descending into the water 20 feet deep. We had to wear a mask and keep our faces straight failing the water will get into the mask. I got into the sea water with assistance of the lifeguard and those 20 minutes were simply divine. We were surrounded by lots of small fishes, seaweeds, corals around and we were given bread crumbs to feed the fishes. I got to see a little bit of underwater life and it is something I will not forget soon. After sometime, I felt the sea water was lifting me up from the bottom and the lifeguard helped me to get back to the boat. For the rest of the day, we walked and had a look at various stalls. Throughout this trip to Pattaya, two men from Bangladesh gave us company and by the end of the day we were discussing about our places, families, politics.
                                               Two days of my trip was spent on shopping and we bought some souvenirs. The two major bazaars in Bangkok are Indira Bazaar and Chatuchak. Bangkok is a shopper's dream as it has glitzy malls and roadside stalls with endless varieties of clothes, accessories, precious stones and gems, and what not. But I am not a shopaholic and shopping is not in my blood. Two hours of aimless walking through malls and stalls made me tired and I was happy not to 'waste' more time in these shopping areas. But for ladies who love shopping I caution, this place is so addictive that you want to be there forever.
                                       Grand Palace, which is at the heart of Bangkok, is one of the most visited place by tourists all over the world, and this time it was my second visit. But it was well worth it as I had forgotten many details. It had been the official residence of the kings of Thailand for more than two centuries. Grand Palace is full of ornamental buildings and structures, paintings, murals and anybody going round that place will want to click photos at each and every point. So folks, do not waste too much time clicking around as it is going to be repetitive. Take a deep breath and absorb details as much as possible. The main attractions I found there are emerald Buddha, murals, miniature of Angkor Vat temple of Cambodia. There are lots of 'Phras' around. I guess the word Phra has to do something with royal. It was my lone visit as my husband had work that day. I went to Grand Palace using waterways and tuk tuk ( the autos there are known as tuk tuk).
                                                    The next day, we spent on visiting various Buddhist temples and the prominent among them were The Golden Mount, Wat Arun, the temple of reclining Buddha, another temple where 45-metre Buddha was standing majestically, the lucky Buddha temple to name a few. Each of these temples stand out on its own and they are worth visiting again. The Golden Mount temple is 'Meru Parvat' where we had to climb up the mountain to reach the top where there were varieties of Buddhas. There were lots of bells and gongs. It was a beautiful view of the city including palaces from the top. After sometime, I was reaching the saturation level of seeing the Buddhist temples and I wanted to go back to the hotel. But my husband insisted that we had to visit Wat Arun temple, the second most famous landmark after The Grand Palace. Unfortunately, when we reached there, the inside of the temple was closed and we had to be content taking outside photos as it was late in the evening. The structures of Wat Arun temple when lighted up were full of splendour and looked majestic. We ended our day by seeing the lighting in front of the Grand Palace which was done to celebrate the birthday of their king. I was famished at the end of the day and I was ready to crash on the bed once we reached the hotel.
                                    After my tryst with all kinds and sizes of Buddhas, I would have loved to relax in our hotel room the following day. But there I go with a group tour to the floating market which is about 2 & 1/2 hours from Bangkok. When water transport  played important role in lives of locals long time back, people used to sell goods from the boats. Now these places serve as a major tourist attraction. The place we went was Damnoen Saduak floating market in Ratchaburi. The tourists had the option of going by boat to experience the feeling of  floating market or just go around the stalls on the banks of the rivers. I was  travelling by boats too many times for the last 4 to 5 days and so I took it easy by not using the floating market boat. I clicked a few selfies and other photos with the floating market as backdrop. Little did I know that another 'adventure' was waiting for me there in the form of a python. There was a board put up which said 'no bite, no poison, safe, and so click a photo'. After a long thought, just before going back I 'plunged' into taking few snap shots with the python on my neck. It WAS HEAVY and when it moved a bit, my facial muscles showed some tension which was visible in some photos. There was no time to get the photos in print and so it was captured in my mobile. I paid the person a 100 Bahts and was tired after that end of the day. It did bring out lots of  'Wows', aahs, OMGs, words like courage, brave from my family and friends. It was like how can a soft person like me, more so a lady can do this! I believe there had been some inner craving to 'prove' the world the other side of 'me'. From the floating market, our van headed to the elephant farm. There, I did not take an elephant ride, but just relaxed over a cappuccino.

                                                 


                                       
           
                                         You are seeing it right! This restaurant is located at Soy 13, Sukhumvit run by an                                                                       Indian and named after our PM.

                                                     I consider myself to be lucky enough to visit Bangkok again and absorb it in a more detailed manner. Travel does widen one's horizon and I hope it has widened mine. Even though it was for a brief period, I got to meet people of different nationalities visiting there as tourists. One major identity of Thailand is the endless rows of massage parlors where girls sit in front of the parlors wearing skimpy and revealing dresses. Thailand has lot of influences of Hinduism and we saw lots of Hindu deities like Ganesha, Durga, Saraswathi, Shiva, Arthanareeswara idols everywhere. I am not sure to what extent they are worshiped by the locals there. Smoking is very common there and somebody like me almost felt like covering my nose all the time as I hate the cigar smell. Another thing that was common was the sight of female escorts accompanying the tourists there. As far as food is concerned, it is not a food friendly place, especially for Indian vegetarians like us. A few Indian hotels, Subway, pizza outlets kept us going throughout our stay. There was an Indian restaurant named 'Namo' and yes, it was named after Narendra Modi as the owner, an Indian, is a staunch supporter of BJP and a great fan of our Prime Minister. He had worked as a chef in various hotels there and this restaurant is his own baby and he talked to us with pride and enthusiasm about his business and his passion for Indian politics. We felt good after having a thin crust pizza there. As far as locals are concerned, language is a problem as English is not talked much there and people there do not know to tell the directions if you as a tourist is lost in some place. But even during our brief stay, I could experience the warmth and friendly nature of the local people there in spite of problems. We stayed in the downtown area of Sukhumvit and during evenings, we used to take walks on pavements. There were various kinds of stalls on these pavements with some stalls selling pornographic videos, condoms, oral jellies etc which I have not found much in our places. The roads are wide and well constructed and I observed that public there has more civic sense than in India!

                                                  I somehow managed to make our trip alive again through a few words. I could have put in a lot more details of our trip, but I wanted this article to be short and concise rather than make it long and boring. I do not know how much justice I have done to that, but as I wrote, the whole place came alive in my mind. I will soon post an album of our trip with more interesting images and captions. So guys, watch out!
                                                Hampi, sorry to disappoint you this time as some other engagement has come up for which we have to go. But, I'll be visiting you soon, very soon!

Love
Deepa.


                                 
                                                  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Yesudas' remarks on Indian women wearing jeans

Friends,
                         I hope all of you had nice Dussera vacation this year before heading back to work. This Gandhi Jayanthi was celebrated with a fervor of different kind. Our honourable Prime Minister announced on this day with a mission to clean up India - Swacch Bharat Abhiyan. October 2nd is also observed as the birth anniversary of another great human being and former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who is more remembered for the slogan 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan'.But his birthday is always overshadowed by the same of the father of our nation.
                                  On October 2nd this year, along with Gandhiji, another celebrity who made into news was our veteran singer K J Yesudas. He was invited by a voluntary organization to deliver a speech for Gandhi Jayanthi celebrations. Had he made a general speech about Gandhiji and services that voluntary organizations deliver, the news item might or might not have appeared in the local page. We would not have known that he went and gave a speech. But now, everybody knows that he went and gave the speech thanks to his controversial statements. Why should a revered singer suddenly be concerned that when women wear jeans it is a cause of 'trouble' for others and that those parts that need to be covered should be covered. He did not touch the point that men wearing jeans (the more torn the jeans are, more fashionable) is also alien to our culture, and that they should be wearing dhotis and jubbahs all the time to adhere to our culture. Had he generalized this statement commenting on both the genders, would it have created so much row? I do not know. Maybe his intentions are good. Nobody knows. Media organizations and Women's groups are quick to react to his sensitive (or insensitive) remarks telling that it is unfortunate that he should talk like that when there are so much atrocities against women going on in our country. Who has succeeded or won in these at the end of the day? Media groups, women's organizations, public? You guessed it right, it is Yesudas himself. He has succeeded in creating a needless storm to be in news and social media for sometime. Did he resent or apologize having made those statements? No. I may be right or not, but he may be silently enjoying all these reactions around him. Had we all remained quiet and ignored his remarks, would he have felt the same way?
                                                 Famous personalities, politicians, or celebrities making controversial statements is nothing new. If they are men, mostly the topics will be related to women so that the sensation will be more. A few days back, Hema Malini made a comment related to Brindavan widows. It did spark a row. Why do these celebrities make these statements? Do their statements improve the functioning of our society? I doubt it. They succeed in stirring a series of heated arguments and discussions for sometime until the next major incident turns up. Social media and TV channels will be full of angry responses and demands for apology from that personality. Are these all waste of energy and time? Celebrities who are used to media and public attention, crave for the same when they grow old or forced out of the public arena. They look for ways to be in the news once a while and this is one of them. Sometimes, the best reaction to their statements is no reaction. So folks and social media, as much as possible please minimize the discussions and heated arguments when those so called controversial remarks are made and live as you please. Nobody wins here except the person who made those statements.
                                                                 
                                     
                                             So Shri Yesudas, thanks a lot as your talk about what should be and what should be not about our Indian culture made me write another article to add to my blog. :)

Deepa.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The man who 'mandolinized' carnatic music - U. Srinivas

          Repeating the line from Elton John's 'Candle in the wind'- It seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind.


Hi friends,
                 For more than a month this space has been remaining idle and I keep searching for topics to write. It can be 'writer's block' or simply some other excuse. But now I am back again and not with happiness that I have found something to write, but with a heavy heart. September 19, 2014 will remain a sad day for me and other music lovers due to the sudden and untimely death of U Srinivas who was more recognized as Mandolin Srinivas. If chess is to Vishwanathan Anand, saxophone to Kadri Gopalnath, so was the western instrument Mandolin very unique to U Srinivas. It takes so much courage, commitment and will power to bring in something new and make it widely popular especially in the ocean of Carnatic music. Like guitar and violin (or fiddle), mandolin is a predominantly a western instrument belonging to the lute family and today when I 'wikied' for the word Mandolin, I found a lengthy detail related to the instrument, but mostly related to western countries and when I pressed 'Ctr+F' I could find some four lines about our  U Srinivas tucked somewhere. When I read the list of famous Mandolin performers, it was lengthy and all of them are from Western world, except for U. Srinivas which I could find only with the help of Ctr + F. Thanks to Srinivas, I can distinguish the sound of mandolin with so much ease and I never cared to notice how the instrument looked like. Only after hearing the news of his death, I searched for the images of mandolin to see how it looked like. If some are born to make path breaking inventions and discoveries during their lifetime, Srinivas with the help of his father discovered that Carnatic music can be played in mandolin also. The initial training was given by his father who discovered the talent in Srinivas. He sent him to a guru but as the guru  did not know how to play the mandolin, he would sing the song so that Srinivas could play the song in the instrument. Before anybody realized it, he started giving concerts with his instrument at the tender age of 9. He had given concerts throughout the world, and I think he deserved more than 'Padmashree' award conferred by the Indian Government. But now, it is too late and we can console ourselves by telling that this unique personality is above these civilian awards. All through his life, his name was associated with mandolin. We cannot separate mandolin and Srinivas unlike Lalgudi Jayraman, Kunnukudi Vaidyanathan, S Balachander (Veena fame)........

                                                             




                                                        Because I am an ardent listener of carnatic music and trained in the same, I grew up listening to the music in our radio and good old Doordarshan channel. I am not fortunate enough to see this man's live performance. As he belongs to my era, U Srinivas was a kind of hero to me like Vishwanathan Anand. I can never forget his smile that he used to have when he was performing. He always used to smile at his accompanists while he was playing his dear instrument. That smile used to say all. For him it was a plaything with which he could play in any way he wanted to. During the Doordarshan days, I used to wait every Sunday afternoon to watch 'Spirit of Unity' program in which music and dance programs were aired. I had watched lots of his performances in those episodes. He also used to come to Trivandrum to give concerts at Soorya cultural programs held at an auditorium. The sound of mandolin is not subdued like veena and not heightened like violin, and it stands out on its own. Srinivas brought in mandolin and merged with Carnatic music in such a manner that we feel that this is suitable to Carnatic music just like Veena, flute and violin.
                                             I am never a fan of child prodigies because I believe that they achieve too much too soon and they have nothing else left to achieve for the rest of their lives. I am amazed why death snatches them away earlier than other normal mortals. Srinivas used to have personal problems and that maybe one of the reasons for his very untimely death. Unless these personalities live to be nonagenarians, we can never imagine that there is death waiting for them at their doorstep. As I finish writing this emotional article, 'Vatapi Ganapathim' which he played in his instrument keeps ringing in my ears.
                   Mandolin Srinivas, we thought you were immortal, and of course you are immortal through mandolin. Long live the one and only mandolin genius!

Deepa. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aimlessness!!

Hello,
                 What is aimlessness? It is when you do not have any specific purpose in your life. Does all of us go through a phase when we feel what the purpose of our life is? I believe everyone of us do have that feeling when we think where our life is heading and how should we take it forward. Some of us will term it as 'midlife crisis'. Save for the poorest strata of the society who struggle to live each day, rest of us do go through this phase. The landmarks-when during our childhood we make lasting friendships during our school days, score high marks in the exams, win prizes in the competitions, get into professional courses, finish our college and land into dream jobs and get the taste of our 1st pay cheque, and ' if lucky', marry a person of our dreams, become a parent, and then see the same cycle repeated with our children. Majority of us do fall into this category, and if not, try extra hard so that we can 'fit in' the stereotyped society that we have woven for ourselves. Phew!!! Somewhere during this journey of our lives, even if everything 'falls' in the right slots, and try hard to keep ourselves busy and hectic just to tell others that we are busy and fine, we experience that simmering sense of boredom which creeps into that 'routine' life. We feel like we are groping in the dark but do not want to get out of that for the fear of unknown or not to disturb the routine. We, as adults, work hard, try to find satisfaction in our jobs, keep the gentle family balance floating, all this at the cost of body aches and ailments so that we hope to relax sometime in future and live happily ever after. We do not want to stand and stare at the thing called 'breath of life'. What is the definition of having a job or 'do you work?'? Something to support the family or for some others, just to fatten our purses, they work under 'somebody' even if they feel frustrated and stressful. To work like a slave just because you do not have any other option as you have to support your family is one thing. Some are bold enough to come out of the demanding jobs which are nothing but slavish and pursue their true passions and try to make a career out of them. This path will be directionless at first, but if one draws a map for himself/herself and follow that with true passion and perseverance, one is sure to see a light of different kind. There are few people who have come out of the corporate jobs to carve a niche for themselves.
                                                         

                                       
                              I do not fall under the category of 'full-time' working person for a long time just to see a pay cheque at the end of the month. I have to acknowledge that my husband supports me in whatever I do and that is why I try out various options. I have been in and out of jobs over a period of time and each workplace' the work atmosphere was of course different. In one place the nature of job was good, but the pay was less and in the other vice versa. Except in one place, all the other workplaces were unsatisfactory in one respect or other but each one was a learning experience. Now I am back to being myself or 'aimless'. I am doing things I like to do. Hopefully, this period of 'aimlessness' will be fruitful. Now, why am I writing this article and what is this aimed at? This is one of the things that makes me happy and energetic. I do not know how many of you around can manage to be in my shoes. But if you get any chance to pause in your hectic life, do that and it is alright to be aimless once a while to discover your true self.

Deepa. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

An Indian pedestrian






In Copenhagen, there's a long-term commitment to creating a well-functioning pedestrian city where all forms of movement - pedestrian, bicycles, cars, public transportation - are accommodated with equal priority.
Hello friends,
                            Yes, this time I want to write about the travails that a pedestrian faces when he chooses to walk on Indian roads. When is the last time that you walked to a nearby kirana shop and and purchased some miscellaneous items and walked back? Did you walk to school or college which is nearby to your house on a footpath or a pavement? Sounds old fashioned and impossible right? Am I talking about something that is a generation old? Walk and go to a shop or school? Who does that these days? Who goes to that shop walking these days? We go to a supermarket and buy groceries in a bulk or place the orders online to be delivered at our doorstep. Children either go by school bus or are chauffeured in a car or bike by their parents. About two generations back, when there were only kirana or pop & mom shops and the schools were either close by or miles away, the vehicles were few and our ancestors (mainly parents or grand parents) had no option but to walk all along or go in bullock carts. But the roads all over the country were free of vehicles except for some buses,scooters or few ambassadors. For previous generations, number of schools or offices were less and far off and added to that, parents of those days did not have cars to chauffeur them to schools. So they were forced to walk back and forth which made them habituated to walking.
                                                               Cut down to the present day scenario. Can we imagine our children walking to the school or a nearby shop? Never. In the metropolitan cities in our country, where the pavements or footpaths are becoming extinct by giving way to the increasing vehicular traffic. What used to be pedestrian's paradise before, our country, has become a pedestrian's worst enemy.
                                                Bangalore which was a garden city, pensioner's paradise or a pedestrian's paradise all rolled into one has become an absolute concrete jungle and also traffic or carbon monoxide's paradise. As it became the most sought after IT hub, people from all over the country migrated to Bangalore, making it one of the most populated city in the recent times. To accommodate the ever increasing cars and other vehicles, all the roads are either widened or made one way by cutting down the trees and narrowing or nullifying the pavements.  The city planners are at a loss to plan the roads to accommodate everyone including pedestrians and importance is given only to the cars and bikes. The so called community of pedestrians comes last (or do not) in their dictionary. Even though the foot paths exist at many places, during the rush hour  the bikes, auto rickshaws and even the small cars climb the footpaths to overtake the jammed traffic. It is a pedestrian's risk or peril if he/she chooses to walk during that time. Whatever footpaths are there are available for everybody except the pedestrian. 
                                      Maybe about 25 years back, before the IT explosion, Bangalore used to be a pensioner's dream because of its pleasant weather all the year round and also the roads were neatly laid with pavements adorned with trees on both sides and with very less vehicles plying around. So taking a stroll on the roads used to be a pleasant and breezy experience. Slowly, the onslaught of the software companies started and the immigrant population increased over a period of time. The economic liberalization was a big boon for the car industry and the IT jobs increased the purchasing power of the young tech savvy generation.  A software engineer became synonymous with a car and if the young entrants who entered the industry when it was new bought a car with a sense of pride, they did not think that in future the roads will be filled with cars of all sizes. Down the lane, we see today that majority of the roads are occupied with private cars giving way to traffic jams during peak hours. To accommodate these vehicles, short term solutions like widening of roads at the cost of reducing the footpath lengths and cutting trees were found. Many of the roads were changed to one-way traffic. Pedestrians are sidelined and not given any right of way. Might of the vehicles became the right of the way and Bangalore has a dubious distinction of sending 1 pedestrian each day to the grave. This is according to the official data. Being a pedestrian and choosing to walk on the 'pavement'less roads is like a handicap and it is at your own risk.
                                                   Whatever footpaths are out there are owned by roadside vendors, parking for bikes, endless number of electric poles and of course a free space for the men to 'relieve' whenever they want making them stinkier. The foot-over constructed for the pedestrians to go to the other side of the road are rarely used as many steps are needed to be climbed up and down.  The subways have become a haven for the antisocial elements and unsafe for women and of course another 'relieving' place and so they always stink. In many developed nations, pedestrians are given the right of way and the designated pavements follow all the rules and regulations required for the length and width while constructing the footpath and they are free of roadside vendors and vehicles. Every vehicle stops if a pedestrian wants to cross to the other side of the road ( of course on the zebra crossings). When I was abroad, it was always a pleasure to walk on those neat pavements and I felt more safe there. Here in Bangalore, I do not walk on the roads outside our complex as the footpaths do not exist here. It is tough for the older generations who stay with their working children in the metropolitan cities like Bangalore from their hometowns and not used to driving, they will be forced to confine in the apartments.
           
                                                  

     It goes without saying that a developed nation is a place which gives priority to children, disabled people, elderly citizens & of course pedestrians. Developed country is a place where people use public transport more. If our footpaths need to be saved, the public transport network should improve considerably. If people go for carpooling to the workplace, the number of cars can be reduced saving the fuel and the road space. If 60 people travel in a bus, that many cars can be reduced. So here we get an idea of how efficient the public transportation system should be. Singapore is a place where public transport system is managed effectively all round the year and so citizens are able to depend on them with ease and comfort. Government levies heavy tax rate on private vehicles thus discouraging people from buying their own cars.
                                          It will take a long time for the metro rail to become at least 90% efficient in our country. Meanwhile, if the existing footpaths need to be saved, the encroachments have to be prevented, railings need to be put so that the vehicles are not parked there. As far as possible, the minimum length and width should be followed and not sacrificed for the traffic. Wherever there are drainage covers or slabs that are open, the authorities should be notified so that they do not pose a danger to the pedestrians. Let us look forward for a day when a pedestrian feels that walking on the Indian roads is a pleasant experience.

Deepa.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My inner reflections

Hi friends,
                 This time I do not have a particular topic in my mind to write. But I still feel like penning a few lines. It is said that writing acts as a catharsis to a troubled and a lonely mind.   My mind is troubled at times for multitude of reasons that may seem trivial to others. I am not a fan of the thing called loneliness, but it has been my 'companion' throughout my life.  I do not want to be a lonely animal but at times, this 'companion' helps me to introspect who I am, what I want to be, whether I would have been a more efficient person if I had not been limited by circumstances around me.  It is not that I grew up in pathetic surroundings struggling to live each day for the want of food or clothes. I have been well off since my childhood thanks to my dad's profession as an engineer. I did my schooling in a prestigious convent and later on in 'All Women's' Colleges.

      But did those alma maters help me finding my own identity? That is a question I ask myself everyday. My school life is nothing much to talk about and throughout those years I did not have friends in the school or in my neighborhood except for 1 or 2 with whom I still keep in contact through facebook. I was an average student throughout and did not win prizes in any competitions. I did not come across any teachers whom I can call mentors who would have helped me find my true self. This might sound like whining but when I think about those days, I do not feel that those were the best days of my life which I would like to revisit. If  I want to rewind my school days, I would like to script it in a different way. My college days were better but uneventful and not flooded with unforgettable excursion trips and various events.  I was trained in Carnatic music during my childhood and though I did not sing in competitions much, it helped me develop the love for music in general. I do have good voice, but for the lack of practise, I could not become a great singer ( though the wish is still there in my heart!!). I enjoy Carnatic music, Hindustani music, movie songs (namely Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi), western songs, instrumental music and almost anything related to those 7 notes. Music IS part of my life and I cannot live without it. It always interests me to find out the raaga of a carnatic song, nuances of a raaga, similarity and differences between similar sounding raagas etc. The knowledge in carnatic music helped me develop some interest in listening to Hindustani classical music.
                          Some years back I discovered that I have an inclination towards drawing and painting and I want to pursue that seriously. I cannot be termed as a voracious reader, but these days I see that I do read something or other to broaden my mind. I am open to reading good books by authors of any age. My entry into the world of blogging was unplanned and I do my best to keep it alive to this day and it is one thing which has been fulfilling  and I would like to keep it going as long as I can. As some of you might have observed, my blog does not stick to one subject like cooking, travel, politics..... If I post an article on a social issue, the next one can be art or travel. This way, I feel it is not restrictive to be read by one group of people.

                                                              



                                                 I am not a career-minded person but recently when my birthday passed, I keep thinking whether I want to remain this way or to pursue my passions and interests with more emphasis so that when I look back, I will feel happy and satisfied. But how should I go about it?
                                      My life is not fast-paced and I do not wish to be like that, but I want my life to be more eventful. Each visit to my hometown to spend time with my parents is relaxing and rejuvenating, but with the passage of time priorities do change. Some places and things around remain same while lot of things would have changed. Though some things remain same, I happen to see them in a different perspective. That is what I felt when I visited my house in my hometown. Many relatives and friends who were prominent during my childhood seem to be less relevant now. Of course, I do visit them to keep in touch, but the feelings are different. I experienced both attachment and detachment.
                                 Knock, knock, where am I heading now? I think I am at a crossroads. I am still finding a suitable path to take and go forward ( right may not be the word), and I introspect a lot. I keep talking a lot to my inner self and I listen to its voice. By doing this, I feel I discover more of myself and improve upon my personality in the long run. One is the architect of one's own destiny for most part and I truly believe in that adage. One may be born with a moon-like face with perfect features and be proud of it during the teenage years, but later on, the thoughts and the mindset does reshape the face. This is quoted by Abraham Lincoln, 'I don't like that man...(his face)'. It might sound arrogant, but what he really meant was his mind was not good and hence that was reflected in his face. Yes, face is the mirror of the mind. So it is very important to keep one's thoughts uncomplicated which will make life easier to live.
                                          Let me talk a little more about my entry into the world of drawing and painting. I started to go for pot painting classes after my wedding and the interest developed from there to diversify into sand painting, nib painting, free-hand drawing, sketching with charcoal pencils, watercolor painting, oil painting. For reasons not known to me, I have been interested in painting different kinds of birds on this earth and I would like to do more in that area. My wish is to capture more pictures of birds in the natural surroundings and bird sanctuaries.
                                                        And of course, I have to post some birdie paintings!!!

                                                   





                                          One thing in my wishlist is to teach children with learning disabilities. It is more challenging, but rewarding. I would also like to travel more as I am interested in visiting different places and also I feel it expands my horizon.
                                I feel lightheaded and I will pause here for now. Will be back soon!!!!

Deepa.

                                           
                                 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Masala chai- A lot can happen over a cup of tea!

Hi pals,  
             I promised in my last article 'My inner reflections', that I will be back soon!! And of course, I wanted to be back sooner than now, but  when there are no deadlines set, anybody including myself will take one's own sweet time. I should have written this post  a little bit earlier, but there I go about this now.
                                  May was the month of sweeping change in our political arena, the change that everybody was waiting to see and it favored Narendra Modi heavily in the form of anti-incumbency factor. NDA alliance (or BJP??) swept the congress-led UPA so heavily that they could not grab enough seats to form the opposition party. Even Rahul Gandhi won against Smrithi Irani in Amethi constituency by hair's breadth. The swearing-in ceremony was most watched as it was made more special with the attendance of leaders from SAARC countries and also with various film personals, industrialists. The expectations and positive vibes were so much felt everywhere. It is the first time in our history that a non-congress party won the majority seats without the help of other parties.
                                           As the euphoria over the new party comes down and time for the real work begins, many of us couldn't help noticing that chai or tea also played an important part in this elections. A chaiwala becoming a prime minister is no small joke. Narendra Modi, who hails from Gujarat, belongs to backward caste used to help his father and brother run the tea stalls. Though he was an average student, he was a good theatre person & a debater which helped him enter the politics and the rest, they say, is history. But the chaiwala image seems to have stuck with him. Mani Shankar Iyer uttered during the campaign that Narendra Modi will never become a Prime Minister and he can as well go back to sell chai. And of course, it created furore as expected. There was a lot of outcry and blog articles attacking Mani Shankar Iyer. Though he lost in elections, he was successful in creating a storm in a tea cup. Now, if there is tea powder sold under the brand name 'NaMo', I am sure it will sell like hot cakes and will win all the votes. That is the kind of charisma our new Prime Minister was able to create.
                            For reasons good or bad, bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into 2 separate states Telangana  and Andhra Pradesh took place. Governor E S L Narasimhan discussed issues that may arise post-bifurcation. I believe tea had some influence on him when he told that he will invite Mr Chandrababu Naidu and K C Chandrasekhara Rao to discuss various issues that can be resolved over a cup of tea (or dissolved IN a cup of tea??).
                              Last Sunday, an article 'A train journey and two names to remember' appeared in 'The Hindu's Open Page. It was a poignant and moving article written by Leena Sharma. The link is:

                                    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/a-train-journey-and-two-names-to-remember/article6070562.ece
   
                   Former Gujarat Chief Minister Mr Shankersinh Vaghela, who was one of those names in the article was pleasantly surprised that he expressed his desire to invite the author for  'a cup of tea' to relive the nostalgia. So much for a humble cup of tea!
                              


                                  Yes, a lot can happen over a cup of tea! Tea comes in different avatars like the normal one (milk tea), ginger tea, masala tea, lemon tea, green tea, tulsi tea, black tea etc.
                                      We have bought the 'chai' because of the charisma i.e, we have voted Modi to power! Now, the proof of the chai is in good governance, law and order, economic growth!  To chalo, chai pe  charcha ho jaye??? Long live, chai!

Deepa.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mahabalipuram and DakshinChitra visit

Hello,
         We are in the middle of summer season and in lot of places the heat is felt. Even in Bangalore, the summer is getting hotter with each passing year. Talking about summer, this time is always synonymous with vacations, especially from schools before going to the next grade.
                                 Alright,  I am not going to write about summer vacations, but about our visit to Mahabalipuram (near Chennai) during last month. We were in Chennai for a wedding recently and it has been my longstanding wish to go to Mahabalipuram. And of course, I did not want to miss that chance. This place is only 45 kms from Besant Nagar (Chennai) and can be easily finished as  a day trip. One thing you have to take into account is the scorching heat of summer. So take enough liquids with you.
                                                The day had finally come and after having breakfast, we drove with our relatives who gave us company. On the way to Mahabalipuram, our relatives took us to a place called Dakshin Chitra. The word Dakshin Chitra means 'Picture of South'. It is a place constructed with artistic bend and mainly showcases the model houses and the way of living of  Kerala , Tamilnadu, Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh. The entrance was enhanced with the display of clay dolls which looked similar to those kept in Tamil Brahmin houses during Navarathri festival.
           


                                                         Entrance of DakshinChitra
           

                                

   
                                                          Directions to model houses

                                         

                                                      Model Agraharam house...

                     


                                                
                            
                                  Glass pieces intricately done by an expert in Dakshin Chitra




An artwork in one of the  model houses
                   
                                         

The place is spread out with lots of trees and so going around was not so tiring. First, we were led to the entrance which showcased the houses of villages in Tamil Nadu. The entrance itself was tastefully and architecturally decorated. What I remember most are the model houses of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The notable among them were row houses or merchant houses of Chettinad on front of which were seated  astrologers specialized in parrot astrology and palm reading.  There were potter's house of Chengelpet District where pot making was demonstrated and weaver's house of Kanchipuram. There was also a model of Agraharam house of Thirunelvelli district. Coming to the Kerala side, we saw a model of Syrian Christian house in which antique furniture was displayed along with a photo an old lady dressed in traditional Christian attire. There was also a model replica of Calicut house, brahmin street house of Thiruvananthapuram with kolam (rangoli-kolam is the right word) in front of the house. There was an open stage area where dance and music performances were held. We quenched our thirst with coconut water and buttermilk. Not to be missed are the multitude of stalls selling various accessories and craft items.

                                                      Snapshots capturing the colors of the stalls.
                                                       
                                                   


                                                    
                                                       
                               




After having lunch at a Dhabha, we headed to the much awaited destination which was about 4-5 kms from DakshinChitra.  Mahabalipuram was anglicized as Mamallapuram  during the British rule. As it was hot, we were getting tired.   It was well into afternoon when we reached there. As it is visited by many tourists, more attention should have been given to the parking space. After searching for a spot, we had to park our car straight behind one car. The main attractions in Mahabalipuram are Shore Temple, 5 chariots of Pandavas, Krishna's butter stone, beach, caves which are rock cut and monolithic with stone carvings.  After paying for tickets, we proceeded to Shore temple. This was built by Pallava dynasty during the 7th century AD. Shore temple is surrounded by many Nandi or bull statues outside and carved with lion statues on the walls which looked unique. There is a deity inside the temple which was worshiped during that era. As it is situated near the sea, it is known as Shore temple and the place used to be the Port center for Pallavas.
                                                 After spending some time there and of course taking pictures, we proceeded to the famous cave structure opposite to the Shore temple. The carvings outside the cave are intricate and we need some time to absorb its details. The architectural work inside the cave will remind us of Elephenta caves or Ajanta & Ellora caves of Maharashtra. The highlight of the caves are the elephants carved outside the cave which we associate when we think of Mamallapuram.
                                                          To the side of the caves, we had to climb some boulders to reach a temple. That was a short adventure by itself. The outside of the temple was beautifully and intricately carved. After that, there is a boulder  known as Krishna's butter stone which appeared to be in precarious slanting position. Tourists coming there will keep a finger under it just like Lord Krishna did while holding the Govardhana mountain to save the villagers from the wrath of Lord Indra. We sat there relaxing for sometime and then proceeded to couple of temples ahead.
                                 Below are some photos of our ultimate destination-Mahabalipuram
                                   







                                             
                                                   The well-known 'Butter Stone'
                           
                                                   


                                                 
                                             
                                           My hubby ( on the right) & my mama


As it was a very hot day, we could not explore the place fully and missed seeing the five chariots of Pandavas, boat ride in the sea. We were thirsty to the core and was looking forward to quench it with cool drinks and water. As usual, there were some stalls put up but we did not buy anything.
                              So, the better time to visit this place is not during summer days so that one can cover all the places without feeling exhausted. Every monument or temple in that place is worth a watch and if you have to grasp the details of each of them, better start off early in the morning. It has become a habit for me to write about any place that I visit. When I write, the tourist spot comes alive in my mind and I feel I am in that place again.


Thank you.

P.S - I planned to post this article with all eagerness much before, but this time transferring the images from our cell phones to computer was a long and cumbersome process. Some of the images were upside down and I had to make them upright and so I had to limit the number of pictures to be put for my article.
                                               
                                       

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A 'Selfie' Styled Experiment

Hello folks,
                   16th of April every year makes me a year older, but as they say it is all in your mind how young or old you feel. This time I decided that I would make my day more special by showing off my 'selfie'ing.
                                 For some time, I have been clicking on my own and posting the images in Facebook without realizing that I am doing selfies. The word selfie is a recent coinage and we won't find the meaning of it in the standard dictionaries. With the advent of smart phones, anybody finds it convenient to click their own images and instantly post in Social networking sites to envy their friends. The younger generation seems more confident in clicking 'selfies' and instantly posting them. The infamously famous selfie was clicked by Barrak Obama with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Vice Chancellor Angela Merkel  during Nelson Mandela's funeral.
                           I did not think that taking selfies is challenging for many people. I find this fascinating.  How easy or hard is it to click thyself? It depends on the way you see it. If you love yourself, the rest will fall in its place. Do some experimenting. Click the image where there is more light. As you click yourself, you will know in which angle you will get the best shots. Choose some fantastic backgrounds. Wear accessories that will suit you. And of course, smartly make use of smartphones. ;) I find that clicking selfies is less stressful and more enjoyable for me.


                                               This is my selfie collage!!!!!





                                             To all of you who love doing selfies, Happy 'Selfie'ing!!!!
                             


Love
Deepa.