20 November 2009

Gaudi's Barcelona

The consensus among all of us was that we first aim to see the absolutely not to be missed modernist architecture of GAUDI.

Gaudi is considered to have one of the most unique and distinctive architectural styles. His work has greatly influenced the face of Barcelona Architecture and we see his work all over the city.

His work was greatly influenced by forms of nature. There is a small museum inside the Sagrada Familia that has models and photographs which explain why a particular part of the temple was designed the way it was and how it was inspired by nature. The nature aspect is reflected in his use of curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, and organic-like forms.

Gaudi also adorned many of his buildings with colored tiles arranged in mosaic patterns, which make them a breathtaking visual experience.

Our first stop was the Sagrada Familia which is considered to be his greatest, yet unfinished masterpiece. It has been under construction since 1882!!! (Nope…its not a typo for 1992) The construction is entirely dependent on donations and is expected to be completed around 2026.

The spindle-shaped spires of Sagrada Familia are striking. They also have another significance for me…it is seen in all Logica presentations, wallpapers!!!

The mile long queue said it all. At first glance it seems a bit ugly...guess because it’s a far cry from the traditional churches and temples...but after a few minutes one realizes that its beauty lies in its ugliness. Slowly one gets used to the sculpture and before you know it you are a fan of Gaudi and are admiring the building for its magnificence

The design has 3 facades but only 2 are complete. The Nativity facade to the East signifies the birth of Jesus. The scene of the birth of Jesus with 3 kings was very elaborately done. One can feel the happiness all around in the sculptures here.
In stark contrast to that is the Passion facade to the West which has representations from the physical, spiritual, and mental suffering faced by Jesus. The sculptures of the figures cut in straightish lines show a gaunt and tormented Jesus. The pain and suffering show on the faces of all the figures. There was one especially of a sad man which was amazing! There is also a figure of Jesus on the Crucifix which was quite impressive. The mosaic patterns on top of that seemed to have been added to act like pacifying factor.
The Glory façade to the South which is yet to be completed will represent the life and death aspects of Jesus’s life.

Next stop was the Park Guell. The bus dropped us at a place from where there was a 2 miles walk on an incline to the gates of Park Guell. Thank god for the small curio shops on the way where we took respite from the boiling sun. The only problem with that was that we ended up buying stuff which we now needed to carry with us all the way up and back!!!

Park Guell was originally planned as a garden city that combined housing and a park area since Guell was apparently enchanted with the English gardens and also wanted to re-create this in Barcelona. The design was integrated with the surroundings so the viaducts, containment walls, and twisting columns are all covered with colourful mosaics.


There is an enormous staircase that leads to the park. The stairs are decorated with waterfalls and sculptures depicting animals. The most outstanding one is the small, multicolored mosaic covered dragon.

Inside the park, is the Hall of a Hundred Columns with the most beautiful roof which seems perfect for some ball room dancing!!! But on that hot sunny day it was the haven that all the tourists were looking for – more so as the noise from traffic was almost inaudible here. The columns hold up the enormous square from where one can enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the city.
From the square there is a nice, winding corridor which leads to the house that Gaudi built for himself that has now been converted into a museum. The corridor has a very ancient look…the walls and columns looked like just stacks of stones.
The other interesting Gaudi buildings were the Casa Batlo and La Pedrera.

13 November 2009

Barcelona – July 2009

A must and long pending blog on Barcelona...a city I fell in love with immediately. It dislodged Paris as my favorite city in the world.

What I loved about Barcelona was the balance...between the modern and the traditional, between art, culture, sports and nature. It’s a complete city where you can get a flavour of everything.

So on one side you have the churches with their traditional Gothic architecture and on the other side you have the modern architecture – houses and churches designed by Gaudi; various museums and art galleries interspersed with the Olympic stadium and the football stadiums; La Ramblas - a shoppers paradise versus Montjuic – a walkers paradise with all its tropical plants and trees.

By the time we finished off with the immigration formalities and checking in at the hotel it was already around 2:00. A quick freshen up and we decided to just go hang out at La Ramblas.

After some aimless roaming around just getting a feel of the city, we decided to take the hop on hop off bus. The idea was to do the whole route to mark out the places that we want to see.

Roof of shop Even in the blazing heat I opted to sit in the open open on the top floor of the bus..no regrets about that. Barcelona is soooooo beautiful. They have the most amazing artwork at the street corners and roundabouts and musicians playing on the streets. Even the roofs of shops were artistic...so to say!





Some of my other favorites were 'Cap de Barcelona' (Head of Barcelona – a piece of Modern Art and the Smiling Lobster.

Modern Art - FACE

Smiling Lobster


Another unique one was seen at the entrance of the Port of Barcelona called Ones or Waves, a sculpture by Valencian artist Andreu Alfaro. It is a stainless steel tubular sculpture formed by seven arcs whose undulation suggests the waves of the sea.

Waves

Sheds from recycled materialBut one of the things that impressed me the most was at the Vila Olímpica. During the Olympic Games in 1992, the Olympic Village was originally constructed for the participating athletes on the opposite side of the city to the stadium. This area was originally a disused Industrial site but when the area was being developed numerous sculptures were made from materials recycled from the wasteland. The sheds in the below photo are all made from recycled stuff...I appreciate and admire their social commitment.

By the end of the tour I had marked out sooooo many places to see that I was like ...SO MUCH TO DO/SEE...SO LITTLE TIME’...the next day was gonna be quite busy!!!
TO BE CONTINUED

17 September 2009

Another nice quote!

Whatever you do, don't do nothing.

16 September 2009

The Blue Mug

"Konkana Sen Sharma makes her debut in theatre with the Blue Mug" - a headline in Bangalore Times. I am an absolute fan of Konkona so I googled some more and as I went through the cast I was like WOW!!! The entire cast was very impressive - Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak, Sheeba Chaddha and Munish Bhardawaj.

I also read that the content of The Blue Mug was evolved by a group of actors and the director through a series of workshops and that it is a work without a script!!! Very interesting!!!

It is a play based on 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat' by psychiatrist Oliver Sacks, and takes us into the world of the neurologically impaired.

It’s a different thing that as I watched the play I didn’t feel that any of them was neurologically impaired. To me it seemed more like ordinary people trying to deal with the bizarre world of memory and creating bits and pieces from their forgotten past.

Some of my friends who went with me found the play a bit haphazard. There was no continuity or a storyline is what they felt.

However, I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of one of my all time favorite Audrey Hepburn movie - Two for the Road. The story is told in a non-linear fashion, and scenes from latter part of her life are juxtaposed with those from the beginning. Quite entertaining.

Also many of the anecdotes were ones that I could identify with…whether it was Rajat Kapoor with his Mango parties in Delhi (in my case Chandigarh/Jammu) or Sheeba with her description of the Saharnpur house, the galis and the all in one mundu!
When Vinay Pathak was talking about his Dad’s first visit to his hostel I was like – “that could be me!”

Ranvir Shorey and Konkana played a doctor/patient duo. For some reason his mind had stopped at a particular age and he could not remember anything from that point on. Even if he was told something, in the next few minutes he would forget. Ranvir Shorey was quite a humorous but at the same time the entire sequence was done in a very sensitive way.

Couple of things - I felt that Konkana Sen was not used to her potential. And I couldn’t understand why the play was called “Blue Mug”. There was a Rajat Kapoor memory around a Blue Mug so maybe coz of that.

A lovely play and also it was very realistic. So much so that at the end I was wondering if the actors were actually playing parts from their own lives!

11 September 2009

31 August 2009

SLOW DANCE

A beautiful poem forwarded by a friend ...actually she sent several but this one just stayed with me for so long....

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day On the fly?
When you ask How are you?
Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child, We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time To call and say,'Hi'

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.

Life is not a race. Do take it slower
Hear the music Before the song is over

19 August 2009

Kabini - June 2009

Had been wanting to go to Kabini Jungle Lodges for dogs years but it aint easy to get bookings there. Every time some friends and I managed to close down on a date we would find to our dismay that the place is fully booked out. Finally we decided to book nearly 2 months in advance and keep our fingers crossed that nothing would come up at the last minute.

So a nice Saturday morning in June four of us set off for Kabini. If some one had a look at the eatables that we were carrying they would think we are going for a week to a place where there would be no decent food! And the moment we got in we were discussing where we are gonna have breakfast!

We stopped for breakfast at Kamaths. Last 50 kms were too funny...every time we asked someone how far we were or tried to guess from the map that we had, where we were, we thought we were 25 kms away...and then we would reach another milestone and realize it was still 25 kms away! Anyways FINALLY reached Jungle Lodges in time for lunch...and immediately fell in love with the place.

The hunting lodge of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore it has the most amazing colonial style architecture. And lots and lots of tree sprawl the whole place. The cottages overlook the tranquil backwaters of the River Kabini and just outside the cottages are hammocks where you can just laze and relax! No wonder it is rated by the British Tatler’s Travel Guide as one of the top 5 wildlife resorts in the world. (and the reason why Suju insisted that we go to Kabini only and not anywhere else)

In all I managed to do some 4 safari – 3 jeep safaris in the jungle and one boat safari on the Kabini river, apart from the coracle joy ride. I never expected to see the amount of wildlife that I saw. Though the tiger was elusive as ever, we saw everything else in great abundance. We spotted so many elephants including tuskers that by the end of it there was very little excitement when we saw a elephant. One near the Kabini bank had tusks that were nearly as long as his trunk!

And of course I should mention the tusker charge. A smallish elephant was busy grazing on the side of the track –barely 4 feet away from us. As we slowed down to watch him don’t know what came over him that he started trumpeting and charging at us. While everyone was busy shrieking, I was busy trying to capture him on my camera. Below is the clip from which you can make out how close he was. In fact you can even see Suju’s cap in the clip!


Herds and herds of Spotted Deer - not small ones but hundreds of them and loads with antlers too. Now I can believe when they say that Kabini is one of the brightest beacons for wildlife preservation in India today. Apart from the many tuskers and deer with antlers that we saw, we also saw a pair of antlers that would have fallen off in the natural course but were still lying untouched in the forest. (It seems that the antlers serve as food for hedgehogs etc and so there is a new rule that these are not to be picked!)

Sambas, Indian Gaur and Langoors were other wildlife that we saw. On the last morning we were told by 2 jeeps that they saw Wild Dogs but they seemed to be evading us...but I guess not for long. As we reached the bank of Kabini we spotted 3 of them just lazing around quite close to the deer on the other bank. As we were watching one of them suddenly got up. We got quite excited thinking that we were going to see a kill but some how it seemed the Dogs were not in a mood for they made a very half hearted attempt at chasing deer.

The boat safari was very, very good. We were lucky to catch a Crocodile just lazing on one of the small islands. And to complete the show after few minutes he decided to slide into the water and we saw him swim away and for few secs with just his snout and eyes out. Awesome site...

Apart from that we saw what I would call an elephant baraat! Some 13 elephants in one herd followed by another herd with some 15 more elephants. While one herd was just crossing over to the Nagarhole side...one herd swam and came to an island in the middle...and this is when I realized that ‘ELEPHANTS CAN SWIM!’ As we watched them we also saw 2 elephants fighting in the water. It seemed as one was stopping the other from crossing over. We were told by the guide that this is the mating season!

This was not the season for bird watching. In Nov/Dec many migratory birds come here and the jungle comes alive with their tweeting and chattering...but STILL I managed to see soooo many birds...I nearly saw all the Welham birds – Kingfisher, Golden Back Woodpecker, Bulbul and Oriole. Unfortunately missed seeing my own house bird – Hoopoe!

At one point I heard some kind of honking and was wondering which idiot was honking in the forest when we saw the Black Drongo. This bird is known for its mimicry and the honking was his courtesy!

The Eagles looked so magnificent. As we were watching a Crested Hawk Eagle atop a tree we were told that his span is really beautiful. I was like – fly, fly, please fly for us when we were told by the other occupants in the jeep that this bird is not at all shy and will not move. But I guess they spoke too soon because soon after that he flew off. Talk about telepathy! In fact that happened once again a little later with a Blue Jay too. I wanted it to fly so that we could see all his colors. The guide was too good – he was whistling like a bird but it still refused to move. Till I started begging...please move and it just flew off.

Painted Storks, Peacocks, Serpent Eagle, Purple Heron, Green Imperial Pigeon, Cormorants, Egrets were also very kind to us and blessed us with sightings!

I had the most wonderful time...more than my expectation as I never expected to see so much wildlife...and the resort was excellet too...well maintained and very friendly naturalists.

Recommend everyone to make a trip there!

17 August 2009

My Opinion!

15 August 2009

14 August 2009

Calvin and Stars

A lovely Calvin snippet, so apt for my last post.

Astronomy Course/Workshop– May and June 2009

Ruchi and Poorvi often discussed joining an Astronomy course...I wasn’t really interested so never got excited and didn’t really encourage them. But then on a busy day at work I got a call from Ruchi. She had just spoken to Mr Rao from ABAA and there was this 6 weekend beginners program which was fast getting sold out. I was just telling her that I may not be able to attend all the classes but she was like...neither will I, but its only Rs 200/-

I agreed and don’t regret it one bit. I so looked forward to the classes and when I visited Delhi in the middle I planned to come back on Sunday in time for my class!

It was a bit theoretical but Mr Rao, the course coordinator’s passion for Astronomy used to flow in the lectures. Apart from that he is so knowledgeable and would often speak about Philosophy and quote from the Upanishads and Vedas making the lectures all the more interesting.

When in the first lecture he said that Astronomy tends to make you more philosophical, I couldn’t understand how...but a couple of lectures later I started thinking that I should read something on the Upanishads and Vedas.

In between this course The Bangalore Astronomical Society conducted a 2 full day workshop on Asteroids, Comets and Meteorites with Vishnu Reddy. Obviously we decided to attend that too!

It was very good and more focused on finding new Asteroids, Comets and Meteorites. However, that is not where my interest is really, coz I don’t really want to search for new stuff, but just enjoy the beauty of what is already there.

But still the lectures were very interesting. He actually had access to those really huge telescopes 34” ones sitting in some remote place in USA which he accessed from here remotely and showed us some of the objects…quite impressive.

On Sundays we could stay back to look at the sky but May/June are not very great months for sky watching in Bangalore. But October is supposed to be beautiful and ABAA members meet every Sunday at the planetarium and get out their telescopes. And that is where you are going to find me on Sunday evenings in October!!!

12 August 2009

Horse Riding Camp – Summer 2009

During an outing with Ruchi and Poorvi I mentioned that I wanted to learn horse riding...and what a coincidence – both were interested too. So Ruchi was given the task to find out some where we could get enrolled.

She did some amazing R & D and found out that Bangalore Amateur Riders Institute (BARI) which is under the guidance of Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) was organizing a ten day Horse Riding workshop for beginners to promote amateur riding in April-May 2009.
Each day there would be one hour of riding and on 2 days they would add half an hour of stable management where participants would learn how to handle horses and groom them and eventually develop a bond with the horses. A visit to the equine hospital in BTC was also included...sounded quite interesting, so we decided to join the camp.

First 2 days I had a horse called Soldier. There is a person (Srinivasa in case of Soldier) called a 'Side' who leads the horse and so all went well. Managed to get on and off Soldier, do a basic walk and some trotting AND importantly with no casualty. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Day 3 the sides were asked to let go off the horse but stay close by. I was a bit nervous but luckily again the day was uneventful.

The following day my horse was changed to Al Habib...a young fellow. I just couldn’t get my rhythm with him and unfortunately I developed a severe back ache :-(
Somehow rested for a day and went back on Day 6 after the pain got better but the pain started again and so with a lot of difficulty I decided to stop the classes :-((((

It was really a difficult decision since we all were enjoyiong ourselves so much - some of my friends at the camp even created a blog (Horse Riding Notes) specifically for learnings from the camp and other useful information using mind maps, videos and the works...

And because I was feeling really bad I didn’t even go for the show that was organized for the last day where all my friends participated...

However, what raised my spirits was that Anita organized VIP Race Passes for the 1st day of the Races at Turf Club for us. An SMS from her read – “Tomorrow’s dress code for the races – Men: Jacket and Tie. Women: smart- no jeans, though trousers are allowed”. Hats and summer dresses came out of the cupboard as we got ready for the races.

Loved the VIP treatment ...for people in the VIP lounge they arrange lunch and high tea too!

Great races and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we got initiated to the world of horse race betting.

Human emotions are amazing – though we enjoyed the 1st race where we didn’t bet, the excitement levels were distinctly lower than in the following races where some of us decided to bet. At the beginning of the race we were seated but slowly rose from our seats and as the horses came closer to the fishing line we could be heard exhorting our favorite to run faster.

It was a different experience altogether...and one which made me understand how people get addicted to gambling. It takes a lot of will power not to bet in that kind of an environment.

Even though I found myself poorer by Rs 100 at the end of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. But yes...I don’t want to be a regular at the races:-)

11 August 2009

An Idiot For Dinner

Attending this play was nothing short of an adventure. Poorvi booked my ticket for 12th June without actually talking to me. Unfortunately I had a team building outing on 11th and 12th and wasn’t sure if I could make it back from Angsana in time to reach RangaShankara by 7:30.

So I passed on my ticket to another friend but kept feeling bad that I wouldn’t be able to see this play coz the moment I read the synopsis I knew I would love it...I had nearly cracked up when I watched Bheja Fry!!!

12th June 4:45 PM - we are on Old Madras Road moving towards Outer Ring Road and I think maybe I can make it. So on an impulse I call Poorvi. She was on her way. I couldn’t decide if I should ask her to wait for me especially since I didn’t even have a ticket! But she was like…I’ll wait, you come fast...

I tried calling Rangashankara for a ticket but couldn’t get through. So I thought I had better not delay Poorvi, but she wouldn’t listen. Boss and another colleague were sharing the cab with me so I couldn’t even ask the cab driver to step on the gas. Finally after dropping off my colleague I suggested we take a short cut and trust my luck...one stupid truck in front of us moving at 0.5 km/hr grrrrrrrrr.

I was sure I am not gonna make it but finally at 6:30 or so I reached the Bellandur crossing and then Poorvi drove like crazy. And while waiting for me she had managed to get me a ticket too (from someone who was trying to sell off their extra tickets- WOW)

7:15 PM - All well as we crossed Woody’s. I had just started to relax thinking that we’ll make it. But just then on the last stretch we met a massive traffic jam. I thought I would burst into tears...it took us 15 mins to cover a stretch which shouldn’t take more than 5 mins!!! This is namma bengaluru for you!

As we entered RangaShankara the 3rd bell was ringing and our friend was waiting at the door with the tickets. Just made it in the nick of time...one second more and they would have closed the door.

Well...was the evening worth all the tension and running? YES, absolutely. What a knockout performance, totally hilarious and one helluva a de-stresser.

"An Idiot for Dinner" is an adaptation of a French movie titled "Le diner des cons". It was also made into a famous Hindi movie- Bheja Fry with Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak and Ranvir Shorey.

A rich publisher and his friends meet every Wednesday evening, where they each have to bring an Idiot along. They have a good laugh at the idiots' expense. At the end of the dinner the host with the biggest idiot wins, while the idiots never figure who the joke was on.

One such idiot (?) that the publisher finds is Mr. R. Golden Gopu, an income tax officer who has an obsession for making matchstick models of the wonders of India. Just hours before the dinner, the publisher twists his back and has to stay home, and at the same time his wife who is very upset with her husband's idea of amusement leaves him.

Gopu visists the publisher at his home and tries to help him – for the sore back and to help him get his wife back. What results is absolute chaos and pandemonium.
The idiot manages to make Sanjay's back problem worse, bring his mistress home, drive his wife into the arms of a sex maniac and get his income tax audited.

What I liked best was Golden Gopu’s voice message which went as follows (in a sing song manner)
R Golden Gopu
Cannot talk to you
Don’t weep
Leave a message after the beep.


Totally hilarious!

Gopu was definitely the show stealer. His body language, expressions and his acting skills were just excellent. Gopu’s friend Hari whom he calls for help in getting the address of the sex maniac was very good too...just so into the skin with the character.

A must watch rib tickling comedy!

10 August 2009

An interesting intro...

The intro to the play "Day I Met The Prince" was just so charming and interesting...

Take a dot, add a line
Roses in a circle
Stars surround a lonely night
A sky that's magical
Faraway planet with no forest
A land without a sea
Flies in a friend with a shimmering cape
And a bit of aristocracy
Miles across the Milky Way,
stars twinkling through the galaxies
A question in time,
did a goat eat my rhyme?
Or a rose that that?s just a little bit shy?
Chatter chatter, yell and scream,
Dive and swoop and song?
Foxes and wishes, a thousand lost roses,
Will the answer be a hat or a song?

07 August 2009

Bhikre Bimb

In spite of a crazy busy schedule when I heard that Rangashankara was playing a Girish Karnad play I just knew I had to make the time and effort to watch it. The cherry on the cake was that it was featuring Arundhati Nag!!!

Tickets were initially booked for 1st May, then changed to 30th April…nearly didn’t make it…but eventually really glad that I did go for it as it was tooooooooooo good.
Bhikre Bimb is a dramatic monologue and Arundhati Nag as the protagonist was just brilliant.

It is story of Manjula Nayak, a professor of English literature who has been an unsuccessful Kannada writer till she finds international acclaim when she writes an English novel, which becomes a bestseller.

The story starts with her introducing the audience to her novel in a TV studio, prior to a film on it being telecast. She comes across as a proud kind of a person as she mocks the people who criticized her and seems to lash out at them.
After she finishes her introduction, she is confronted by her own image on the screen which poses questions on betrayal of her mother tongue Kannada and identity when she chooses to write in English.

The image or we could say her divided self continues to question her about her personal life and her relationship with her parents, disabled sister and her husband and makes her confront the truth about herself. She tries to brush off everything but at the same she looks helpless and goes on to justify each of her actions. Even though she is the so called ‘vamp’ in the story, one cannot but feel empathy for her. It could also be something to do with Arundhati’s acting which gave me the goose bumps - her dialogue delivery, expression especially the one of helplessness and the look of 'imagine my plight too'

Eventually she comes clean on her plagiarism - the best selling book was actually written by her sister but instead of publishing it in her name after her death she goes on to publish it in her own name. One can’t feel scorn but only pity for her as she tries to put it all down to a misunderstanding by the publisher on the name of the author.

By the end of this confrontation she is on the brink of madness and again Arundhati was so convincing.

Arundhati Nag deserved every second of the standing ovation that she got!

27 May 2009

Email signoffs!

The CEO of a back packing company signs off his emails with a very appropriate 'Keep Traveling'...

A member of the Association of Bangalore Amateur Astronomers where I have joined an astronomy course signs his emails with a very hopeful 'Clear Skies'

So should I – an IT nerd sign off my emails with a 'Ctrl + Alt + Del'?

08 May 2009

Falling in…and out of love – Two nice quotes!

'Needing someone is like needing a parachute. If he isn't there the first time you need him, chances are you won't need him again.'

There are 2 ways at looking it…in a morose kinda way or with a grin...and the kinda person that I am, I just couldn’t help smiling...but wondering at the same time...how true!
The quote came with the 'him'...I didn’t put it there...so I guess it is accepted that it’s the men who are not there when one needs them!

Now before some of my really close friends start reading in between the lines ...the above slightly cynical one is nothing to do with my mood...and so I have for you another really cute one...

'I ran up the door, closed the stairs, said my pajamas and put on my prayers, turned off the bed and hopped in the light, all because you kissed me goodnight'

07 May 2009

Accept that some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue.

For a long time I had been the pigeon... I guess since June 2004 when I first joined my current company. I was what they call an indispensable resource. I had worked hard and smart to reach that situation.
Don’t know why...but knowingly and willingly I gave up the project/program that gave me that position. And…don’t know whether it’s good or not... did a terrific Knowledge Transfer so that someone could take over the work from me...which however made me not so indispensable!!!
And so since the last 3-4 months have begun what I would say 'my statue days'...and I ain’t liking it. But I guess that is life.

04 May 2009

Woyzeck – an adaptation by Anmol Vellani at Rangashankara

Woyzeck by Georg Büchner is set in Prussia in the 1830s. He left the work incomplete at his death, but it has been variously and posthumously "finished" by a variety of authors, editors and translators and has become one of the most performed and influential plays in the German theatre repertory.
An adaptation of Woyzeck by Anmol Vellani was playing at Rangashankara. As I read the synopsis I thought ...it sounds quite depressing but it would be a play where a good actor can create magic...and was I right...but more on that later.
It is the story of Franz Woyzeck, a disturbed soldier with an illegitimate child by his mistress Marie. Woyzeck earns extra money for his family by performing menial jobs for the Captain and agreeing to take part in medical experiments conducted by the Doctor.
As the play proceeds we see that there is deterioration in his mental health and he has hallucinations. Meanwhile, Marie grows tired of Woyzeck and turns her attentions to a handsome Drum Major.
With his jealousy and suspicion, Woyzeck confronts the drum major, who beats him up and humiliates him. This leads Woyzeck to murder Marie and then kill himself.
The set was very simple, using very few props and a cardboard wall… but still very effective. Infact what I must appreciate is that even with the minimalist set, I can compare it in effectiveness to the plays that I have seen in West End which rely so much on detailed sets, costumes and live music.
A special mention must be given to Anish Victor who as Woyzeck gave an outstanding performance. It was intense...so intense that you could see the beads of perspiration on his forehead. In one scene where he is supposed to faint he falls from a small wooden box and gasps were heard from the audience. He was sooo still at that moment that we felt he had actually fallen down and was not acting...BRILLIANT.
Generally his portrayal of a disturbed man was so convincing. His eyes, his facial expressions and the way he spoke...all was awesome. The other actors were good to, but just paled in front of him.
The other actor that I really liked was the Tavern Keeper. She carried herself well and her role gave the much needed comedy in the otherwise somber mood of the play.
All in all...a brilliant evening which convinced me that theatre is about ACTING and in the end the stage, props, costumes and music don't matter.

24 April 2009

Voting in the Elections 2009

I am a disappointed person since yesterday. I couldn’t cast my vote in the General Elections. I did so want to ...in fact I was desperate, but it seems that my form was rejected and my name NOT included in the electoral rolls.
Some one commented..."even if you do get to vote, you have to vote for a buffoon!!!"
That’s not the point. If the politicians realize that it is going to be the urban educated population that goes out to vote they will rethink...they will know that they are going to be taken to task so they will do something for their constituencies.
Now they know, even if they do nothing for 5 years, just before the elections they can lure the unaware poor & uneducated voters by just distributing booze and one sari. They know that it’s not the aware that decide the winners, but the poor and they know how to get the votes from them.
We should not think that its only a single vote...coz if we all think like that, it would an important part of the vote bank that does not vote.
Every vote counts...and I believe (optimistic that I am) that we can bring about a change and that is why I ran with my friend in the blazing heat from one booth to the other to figure out where she can vote!
As Mahatma Gandhi once said "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history".

22 April 2009

Almost Single

Recently I was in Alipurdwar, where my friend and her friend insisted that I should read 'Almost Single'. The author is alumni of my school, so loyalty to a fellow Welhamite demanded I read this book.
I was stuck at Siliguri airport due to bad weather and managed to complete the book in a couple of hours. I won’t say anything about the book. The reason being simple...recently a visitor to my house saw the book lying around and wanted to know what I thought about it. And I couldn’t remember for the life of me what I read in the book...and that is so NOT like me at all. If someone asks me what I think of a book like Kite Runner, I can point out the exact sections which I liked the most, what moved me, what I didn’t like etc.
Someone has rightly said "Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it."

21 April 2009

Manic Screaming

The moment I heard the name of the book –"I heard God Laughing" I knew I had to get a copy...
It’s obvious...with a name like that and the fact that it was not readily available at any of the bookstores!!!

It’s a collection of Hafiz’s renderings and each one is a gem... deeply passionate and always very inspirational.

One of my favorites -

God is trying to sell you something today,
But you don’t want to buy,
That is what your suffering is:
Your fantastic haggling,
Your manic screaming over the price!

14 April 2009

Never buy a car you can’t push

Among some other interesting phrases from a recent forward was the following –"Never buy a car you can’t push"
Have been contemplating changing my car...initially I was damn keen to buy a CRV.
Don’t know what was going on in the mind of the person who designed the underground parking in my building...it has sooooo many pillars. That kinda held me back. It’s not only me, but many of my friends also find it difficult to park the car. So much so that one of them told me...you really do need to rethink the CRV!!!
And now after reading this phrase, I am thinking... I definitely can’t push the CRV...but nor can I push a Honda City or Ford Fiesta (my other preferences)!
So does that mean I should but a REVA...or maybe a NANO? Naaaahhh... I’ll just stick to my beautiful Santro...not that I have ever tried pushing the Santro!!!

13 April 2009

Getting around in Egypt – Nov 2008

One of the things that is worth mentioning about my recent trip to Egypt was the various kinds of mode of transport / moving vehicles that we got to experience.

Starting with the flight from Delhi to Cairo followed by a mini bus ride to our hotel and then dinner on a floating restaurant on the River Nile.

At the pyramids the next day we enjoyed Camel rides and later in the evening we took a train from Cairo to Aswan.

Next we boarded the ship for the Nile River cruise.

To visit the Philea temple, we used motor boats from Aswan.

Another mini bus ride…but this was different. To visit Abu Simple one has to join a policy convoy at 3:30 AM (!!!!!) and hundreds of buses interspersed with police vehicles move across the dessert.

Tonga Ride at Edfu to visit the Edfu Temple.

Hot Air Balloon ride was next on the cards at Luxor from which we got to see the Valley of the Kings, the two colossus of Memnon, the East Bank etc.

Later in the evening we went for a Felucca ride. Felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat used along the Nile. It was a really beautiful evening - the sun was setting and a cool breeze was blowing…

At Hurghada the first day we went for Glass Bottom boat ride in red sea where we managed a few glimpses of the many varieties of rare fish and coral reefs.

So 2 of us decided to go snorkeling the next day so that we could get up close to the rainbow colored fishes and Coral reefs in the Red Sea. The safari boat that took us to the sites was bigger than the glass bottom boat, but smaller than the ship and so qualifies for a separate mention in this write up.

And all this in 9 days!!!!

07 April 2009

Calvin and Me!

Hobbes: "Shouldn't we read the instructions?"
Calvin: "Do I look like a sissy?"

As I read this Calvin snippet I couldn't help but smiling as I remembered some recent incidents.

Very sweetly I had asked a friend to help me set up my cuckoo clock...even as he read the instructions I had already ripped open the box and was several steps ahead of him.

As he said...now do this...I was like...ohhhhh already done that, what next? But before he could finish reading the next step, I had already experimented and completed some other steps...not necessarily all executed in the correct order.

A few days later we were setting up the Wii. Remembering the look I got when the cuckoo clock hadn't worked I decided to sit patiently and wait for his instructions...

Honestly I tried, but several steps later I realized...there I was on my own trip, not waiting for his instructions but optimistically just trying to plug all the wires and accessories and hoping it'll work!

23 March 2009

My Power Packed Fun Filled Sabbatical

Last year I decided to take a sabbatical from work for 4 months...there was some apprehension...I had been working since 1997 and I often wondered...would I get bored, feel unsettled and thrown off balance since the discipline in my life would be gone...

But it was one helluva busy time for me...now I wonder how I managed to pack so much in such little time...

I landed in Delhi from London on 2nd Oct...
For 4th Oct and 9th Oct I had scheduled two of my MBA semester 3 exams...
In between I was running around trying to organize a trip to China and the visa.
10th Oct – 19th Oct I was off to China- Shanghai, Beijing, Xian and Guilin.
27th Oct was Diwali, which is generally a busy time in Delhi. More so last year my sister had just opened a boutique in Delhi and she was loaded with orders as everyone buys new clothes during Diwali. So there I was running around with her, trying to get dupattas dyed, buying buttons, laces, kinaries etc...
28th Oct I went to Chennai for my annual medical check up...there I decided to see the dentist too, who advised me to get 2 of my wisdom teeth extracted for which I had to stay put in Chennai till 6th Nov. Returned to Delhi on 6th evening and 8th early moning I was off to Egypt. When I returned from Egypt on 17th I was like –"I am in a state of constant Jetlag"
18th Nov my sister had planned for us to go to Amritsar – to visit the Golden Temple and do some sourcing for her boutique. As if that was not enough we decided to stop off at Jullandher to meet my cousin. I hadn’t seen her kids for ages and thought I should make use of this time to catch up.
Returned to Delhi in the wee hours of 21st. Then I got barely 10 days in Delhi before we (sister and I) were off to Chandigarh and Patiala for some more shopping for her boutique. In between all that shopping I decided to meet up with a school friend after 19 years!!!! I just wanted to do soooo many things.
Returned from Chandigarh on 4th Dec and 9th I left for Gandhidham to be with my parents. I guess this was the most relaxing period of my holiday, though here too I found enough to do. I managed to catch 2 days of the 'Rann Utsav' – a desert festival with lots of cultural programs and folk dances.
Then we visited Lakhpat which is small town with a historical Gurudwara – Guru Nanak visited this site on his way to Mecca. The relics are kept here and the room where he stayed is a Gujarat heritage protected site so no changes are allowed to be made to it. It was sooooo beautiful.
And finally I decided to get my parents 2 storey house painted!!!
To Delhi on 28th Dec just in time for New Year and my 4th semester exams on 3rd and 9th Jan.
14th Jan I was off to Alipurdwar to meet Namrita - In between learning to cook, visiting the forest reserves and guest houses and a desperate hunt to see a Wild Rhino, I also managed to order some furniture for my house from Siliguri.
Returned on 24th and 30th I finally came back to my own nest in Bangalore!
As I look back I think – Whew...that was some power packed holiday and am I glad to be back to my routine life!

20 March 2009

The Balance of Nature

I always feel that we humans take everything for granted, believe that we are so damn superior, and don’t respect the environment and nature...
Many a times I have wondered what must the wild animals think of us? Are they wild or are we wild???
I just love this one!

26 February 2009

Shanghai, China - Oct 2008

On an impulse I sent a message to Sumitra on 28th Sept...what if I want to go with you on the China trip leaving Delhi on 10th Oct? I didn’t think she could pull it off considering I was returning to India only on 2nd Oct. She had only 7 days and moreover it was the Chinese National Week and the embassy was shut till 7th, but she was quite hopeful. So fingers crossed, I sat and waited for the visa.
Well I guess crossing one’s fingers works...coz there I was at the airport for the flight to Shanghai where I met some 20 other women all dressed in shades of pinks (as with all WOW trips).

I was walking with Uma at the Shanghai airport. As everyone made their way to collect their baggage, she was like I don’t have any baggage...only this backup that I am carrying. I was like...wow this woman travels light! I wish I had a snap of hers as we were checking in at Beijing on our way back home. She shopped and shopped and bought gifts for everyone including her building chowkidar I think!
As I looked around I saw Vidya with a trolley bag and I thought ...looks like they all travel light...when suddenly I see her pulling a biiggg suitcase from the conveyor belt :-)
Little did I realize at that point how valuable that suitcase was...with its MTR’s and snacks...without which us vegetarians (vegiterraneans as per Chi / vegetables as per Mary) would have probably starved.

The Shanghai airport was quite impressive. In fact the infrastructural facilities across China were excellent…and made me thank my stars that they have a problem with the English language. Otherwise all the BPO and IT work would move there.

Shanghai is also called the Paris of the Orient for it is supposed to be very fashionable. One day around and I would call it the Land of Duplicates. You can get a duplicate of everything here, including the Guide – as Chi herself pointed out as she was not a native of Shanghai really but from some province in Western China!

After check in, Sumitra wanted to go pick up some local wine for our WOW evening later. That was when we got our first shot of the LANGUAGE PROBLEM. We tried everything to explain Rum, Gin, Vodka, and Rice Wine to them. This included enacting drinking and giving a tulli look. But it didn’t really help. Finally she picked up some local drink.
And this was in Shanghai, which is supposed to be quite cosmo!!!

Our first meal in China was a dinner at Shanglin Teppanyaki. Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle (teppan) to cook food, frequently with the teppan located in the center of the diners' table. I guess I was too excited with the whole concept and clicking snaps that I paid less attention to the food. Someone even commented the vegetarians are too busy clicking snaps while the non-vegs are too busy eating the food! There was some complaining but I enjoyed this meal. It took about 3 days for the food to get on my nerves!

After dinner Chi took us to this place where she said you get the GOOD DUPLICATES of all brands...she was sooooo convincing and so even though we were tired we agreed...guess she wanted us to loosen our pockets there before we saw that the stuff is being sold by even street vendors at every corner in China. Whoever shopped here later realized that it was expensive and we still didn’t know that in China one has to bargain like crazy and drop the prices by 90%!!!

Next day began with a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple followed by the Shanghai Bund. The bund means the Shanghai skyline. Chi was so proud of it and many people liked it. But I thought – this could be anywhere in the world. In fact that is what I felt about Shanghai as a whole. While most people preferred Shanghai, I personally liked Beijing more. People felt that Beijing was soooo dead, Shanghai was alive. I agree but that is the case world over. The financial capitals be it Mumbai, New York, London will always be bustling cities. But it will be the smaller towns (not that Beijing was small) which will have a character of their own.
Post Chinese lunch – food still good (read tolerable!), we went to Yu Garden. At the entrance we saw 2 imposing lions very similar to the ones outside our hotel. Infact later we realised that statues of lions are seen at the gates of all the imperial palaces, official residences, temples, tombs. This represents a male lion on the left with the right paw on a ball - the symbol of unity of the Chinese empire and a female lion on the right with a cub under the left paw - a symbol of offspring. The garden itself was a very quiet and elegant place with old trees, beautiful flowers, ornamental ponds and flower walls. There was a very interesting stone carving of a dragon that sat on a wall.

Next was a visit to a tea shop for a tea ceremony – basically they make you taste different kinds of tea. The dried flowers teas are quite nice - it was quite amazing to see the chrysanthemum flower open slowly as it was infused with the hot water.

After shopping and testing our bargaining skills in the bazaar that has developed around the garden, we went for some more sightseeing which included a visit to a silk factory.

Post dinner (Imp note: food still good!), we went around Shanghai to see it by night as Shanghai is said to come alive at night. The highlight was the view of Shanghai from the Shanghai Grand Hyatt Hotel on the 88th floor of the Jin Mao. There is a very interesting building right next to it - the Shanghai World Financial Center building which looks like a beer bottle opener! It was made like that with an aperture at the top to reduce the stress of the winds.
Here I managed to win over a Japanese fan – he seemed to be impressed with my photography skills as I experimented with clicking Parul’s snap with a top-down view of the atrium. We both were literally leaning over the window and believe u me the results were quite good :-). He even wanted a snap with Parul and me!!!
That day Chi was wearing a really short dress...and as she modeled and walked in her stylish way towards the entrance, one man literally followed her making a movie with his handy cam. She just turned, smiled and said to him "you have to pay me for that!"
I guess Chi thought we still hadn’t had enough of Shanghai so she took us to a posh part of Shanghai, the French settlement area called Shin Ten Tee for coffee. And it was like we were actually in Paris or somewhere with the outdoor cafes and stylish boutiques.
All this was not really a part of the itinerary but Chi just wanted to show off Shangahi.

Apart from the usual stuff next day like the Shanghai museum and Nanjing Road, what the vegetarians loved was the Indian Lunch (yippee) and what bought smiles to everyone’s face was the ride to the airport on the sleek and fast Maglev train - it rocketed to 300 kph in two minutes flat and as the LED continuously blinked and informed us of the speed…we reached the max speed to 430 kph. It was an amazing experience as even at that speed, the train was sooooo smooth.

With this we bid adieu to Shanghai and Chi who in her typical dramatic style said…Chi not cry and you not cry!