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29 February 2016

The Inauguration! (Part 5 of 11)

Disclaimer: From here on, the posts will include descriptions of Possession- the spirits occupying the man who acts as the medium (the Oracle), the spirits talking through the Oracle, etc. It is purely a matter of belief. Now whether one would believe it or not is left to them; personally for me it's more of a form of local art and culture than anything else. Which is why I put up such articles on my blog. These indigenous traditions, unless preserved, could slowly disappear, till we would only have to read about such practices in history books.


The poojari is a lean person with curly hair. Actually most of the artists are curly-haired, and I've always wondered why! Earlier in the evening, the clothes and some flowers that have to be worn for the ceremony have already been handed over to them.

27 February 2016

Mauka Mauka!

Something to celebrate the win today!
Why are we so superstitious about cricket? I too am. Don't turn on the volume, Kohli will get out. Don't get up from a particular position, Afridi will hit a six.. And many such more! It's okay, as long as we continue to win against Pak, any such superstitions are accepted. And again, we have won today, after having met them in the last World Cup. Proud of you Team India!

Men in Khaki!


This was at Rishikesh, on a trip sometime ago. We had walked down a very badly maintained path to reach the starting point of the Ram Jhula. Again, the area was quite chaotic, with people, monkeys, cows, dogs, etc. And amidst all the din, I spotted these two gentlemen sitting nonchalantly, and the other gentleman sitting in the foreground, again, more nonchalantly!

Read also: Rishikesh - A Spiritual Haven on witnessing the Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Ashram.

26 February 2016

Driving Down The Coast, via Kasheli: Ratnagiri Trip 5/5

The decision to drive to Ratnagiri was an impromptu one. When we set off, the expectations were quite high, with pictures of Konkan etched in our minds. However, the season we chose to go in, was not the right one. The harsh sun burning down on one's neck is not the best of times to go sight-seeing. Plus, three days with okay-ish food was gradually beginning to make us impatient! 

And these were reasons enough to cut short our stay in Ratnagiri, cancel our plans to drive on further, and to simply return back to Goa. Since we drive to Goa almost every year, the place feels like home. We hardly do anything that would remotely come close to 'sightseeing', save for a day spent visiting family temples in Ponda. Instead the days are just spent lazing at the resort, taking long evening walks around Panjm City, or driving through pretty little villages. Food is always the main agenda; we start thinking about lunch soon after breakfast, and start planning dinner over lunch! 

24 February 2016

Brass Lamp

Something auspicious for my 100th post on this space! 
A solid brass lamp in antique style, commonly used in all auspicious occasions. On this particular evening, it shone so brilliantly with the light reflecting off its shiny surface, it looked very elegant.

Psst: A big shout out to all those who read the posts here on this space, and I do hope you continue to drop by here. Any critique and suggestions to improve are always welcome! Again, a sincere thanks!

23 February 2016

Train to Pakistan, Khushwant Singh

Plot
The book is about the bloody aftermath of one of the most significant events that affected India when she gained Independence- partition. Set in the summer of 1947 in a tiny nondescript village called Manomajra near the border, Independence does not mean much to the simple residents of this village, for whom the only concern is either the river Sutlej rising, or what the local badmash Jugga is up to. Made up largely of Sikhs and Muslims, again the religious differences too are of no concern to them. However, the residents are shaken when the village bania (money-lender) is murdered. Various theories arise. Add to it, the arrival of a train full of corpses from Pakistan, and the presence of a mysterious England educated 'babu', loyalities slowly start shifting. A plan is hatched to send a trainful of corpses back to Pakistan. So what happens next?

22 February 2016

Potpourri (Part 4 of 11)

(This is the fourth instalment of the series on organising a Kola. For the earlier parts, click the links at the bottom of the page.)

Ah, the colours!
The mantap done, our shoulders feel slightly light. As the evening arrives, so does one set of artists' helpers. Their job is to prepare various articles required for the ceremony, mainly from parts of various trees and shrubs. As you would have noticed by now, almost every part of the coconut tree is made use of, either in the preparation or for the event per se, from tender coconuts to coconuts to tender fronds to dry fronds. No wonder it is referred to as kalpavraksha. Their children accompany them, and watch them at work. This is how the art is handed down from one generation to the next.

20 February 2016

Harper Lee, You'll Continue To Live On...

I woke up this morning to posts on FB about Harper Lee passing away. One might say she was old, she's lived her life, etc. But then when someone of such calibre, be it an artist or an author is no more (especially if it's your favorite), one does feel a certain sense of emptiness. And that's exactly what I felt like. Scout Finch came to my mind in a rush, followed by Atticus, Jem and Boo Radley. 

St. Philomena's Church, Mysore

The twin spires of St. Philomena's Church rise high behind a low canopy of trees. The locality around is clean and neat. The interiors of the church are beautiful too, and induces a sense of calmness. Unfortunately when we went there last time, a bus-load of picnickers arrived, and the kids started calling out to each other, trying to see if their voices echoed. And we left from there.

Read also: Magical MysoreA Day at the Zoo

18 February 2016

Heritage Houses

Houses like these are increasingly becoming difficult to find, either due to renovation, or sometimes these houses are demolished to make way for broader roads. One particular area in the town of Mulki still has plenty of these houses, lining both sides of the road. Sharing a set of three photographs here.

16 February 2016

Oceano Pearl, Ratnagiri 4/5

(Click on pictures to enlarge)
Forty Shades of Green
My trip report series on Ratnagiri would be incomplete if I don't write a bit about the place where we stayed. As I've mentioned earlier, we stayed at a homestay called Oceano Pearl in Ganeshgule village. Located well away from all aspects of "modernisation", this makes for a great place to unwind. It gave us the impression of being more of a guest house than a homestay.

Picture this: Lush green surroundings, waking up in the morning to chirping birds, all meals served at the dining area set amidst trees with the sea right behind, trees of mango-cashew-jackfruit-banana-coconut-you name it, feeling like you own the place at the beach adjoining the stay, insects calling out as the darkness falls slowly, and finally going to bed listening to the roar of the sea and night-insects crying. In a gist, this is what Oceano Pearl offers. 

15 February 2016

Raising the 'Mantap' (Part 3 of 11)

Kolada Dompa
(This is the third post in an eleven-part series, on the event we organised recently. To read the earlier posts, click the link at the bottom of this post. Click on the pictures to enlarge.)


"Isn't the mantap too low?", they ask.
"If anyone asks me this question again, I'm gonna hit them across the face", declares a cousin.


And the D-day arrives. Most of the things required for the Kola have been bought and stacked away securely at my ancestral home. Except for the flowers. Dad makes an early morning visit to the market along with another cousin. It's a Sunday, the flower season is at a low with the demand exceeding the produce, and no vendor seems to be in a mood to bargain; buy-it-or-leave-it is written across their face. After an hour or so he comes home with large quantities of fragrant jasmine, chrysanthemum, wilder variety of jasmine (kakda), and firecracker flower (aboli/abbolige). And we set off.

13 February 2016

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

This is one my favorite structures from the Mughal Era. I like it more than the Taj even. The red sandstone tomb looks picture perfect on a blue skied-day. Also, if shot from the right point, the symmetry can be very well appreciated. Apart from the structure per se, the surroundings are maintained quite well, and would be perfect to take a break from a long day of "sight-seeing". Don't forget to walk through the many other structures, some of them just ruins, surrounding the tomb.

Read also: Rashtrapati Bhavan, and around Vijay Chowk

12 February 2016

Music, a Therapy

Music is therapeutic. It’s been an integral part of growing up, so much so that humming a tune continuously throughout the day is considered normal. At home the focus has always been on Marathi music based on classical Hindustani. 

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee

Background
This is the only other novel by Harper Lee, after To Kill A Mocking Bird (TKAM). It is set twenty years ahead of TKAM and was thought to be a sequel. However it later turned out to be the original draft of TKAM; back then on the suggestion of the publisher, the multiple flashbacks that happen were developed into a complete novel to publish TKAM (As Wikipedia says). 55 years later, the first draft of TKAM was published as Go Set A Watchman.

10 February 2016

Boats, Big & Small

A set of three successive shots taken at Fort Kochi, on a short get-away from college sometime ago. We'd spent a long morning walking around the Jew Town, Mattancherry, etc., and were relaxing by the water watching the fishermen at work with the Chinese fishing nets. That's when I spotted these boats, both big and small, approach each other, and sail away. The second picture is one of my favorites from that trip.

09 February 2016

Lists & More..! (Part 2 of 11)

Continuing from the previous post, I move on to the preparatory phase of the event. 

Twenty days to the scheduled day, our relative in the village hands over a few lists to us, lists of the various things required for the Kola. He's a remarkable man- extremely hard-working, god-fearing, and also has a certain know-how of how things work. The lists are long, and look a little complicated. We come home and have a closer look at them.

08 February 2016

Lovely Omelette Centre, Mussoorie

"Uncle, zyaada spicy mat banao!"
(Uncle, don't make it too spicy!)

Located on the Mall Road in Mussoorie, this tiny hole-in-the-wall place with a seating capacity of about six, serves wonderful omelettes, perfect following a long walk. The speciality of the place is that the owner is on first name terms with the kids who frequent the place. And apparently he serves only children during their break times (No adults allowed!). We had a masala omelette and another one with extra cheese, both were quite good! Plus the kids around added to the fun- they didn't mind involving us in their conversation at all. A must-visit if in Mussoorie anytime.

06 February 2016

Bronze Panel, Victoria Memorial


Plaque outside the Victoria Memorial. Needs no explanation!

This was shot on a cool mild December morning, on a long walk around the Victoria Memorial. The morning breeze felt fresh and was a welcome break from the pollution that would engulf the city in a few hours.

05 February 2016

TEMPLE RUN

This post is so named because this is what a typical day dedicated to temple-hopping in Goa looks like!

04 February 2016

A Grand Success! (Part 1 of 11)

Our Bhootha Kola- A memorable evening!

“With great power comes great responsibility”, said Uncle Ben. Well, I’d like to add up and say, with great responsibility, comes greater headache!

In my previous post, I’d put up a photograph describing a local tradition of SPIRIT WORSHIP prevalent in these parts along the coast (referred to as Tulunadu encompassing Udupi & Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka and Kasargod district of Kerala, where the local language is essentially Tulu). Well, we had a similar event over the weekend; by good grace everything went on exactly (and even better) than planned, and I simply couldn't resist putting this up here. We received help from unexpected quarters- both financial and otherwise (which actually mattered more at that point of time!).

Sharing one picture shot towards the end of the event, with all three Oracles in one frame (the spirits are temporarily believed to occupy a person who acts as the medium, and speak out through them). Starting with this post, this will be an eleven-part series with write-ups and pictures on the event, right from the preparations to the D-day, to the closure.
The spirits here include Panjurli (of the land on which stands our ancestral home), and Panjurli & Varthe, of our clan.