Friday, 9 November 2012

46. Golden Temple

When I had an opportunity to visit Amritsar, I booked return ticket in such a way to spend some time at the  Golden Temple. 

And it was an amazing experience. The vast space was enchanting.

The crowd was well behaved. Devotional songs were adding a great value in the environment.

The view of Akal Takht reminded of the pain and the wounds associated with this place.

Credit must be given to all those who are involved in restoring the peace and sanctity of the place.

Golden Temple is amazing in many ways.
It was an experience, I would remember for a long time.

A place, one must visit.
A treasure, one must experience.

I am planning to go and stay there for a few days.
I don't know when that would be though! 

Monday, 15 October 2012

45. Umiam

On the way to Shillong from Guwahati is a scenic water body.
What is it - I ask as usual.
"It is Umiam Lake." comes the answer.

Umiam Lake View 1 Shillong, August 2011
It is so peaceful - to watch it is a god's gift indeed.

Umiam Lake View 2, Shillong, August 2011

I keep on watching it every day. Why is it called Umiam Lake? 
Because, it is the product of a dam built on River Umiam. The dam construction started in 1965 to create first Hydel Power plant in the North East. 

Later I am told that the term Umiam in Khasi language means "Crying River". 
Someone explains that it is not actually 'Crying River' but 'Flood of Tears". 
Why the beautiful waters has such a name?
Because the river used to flood regularly and take many lives each year. 
So, the name is indeed very relevant. 

Umilam Lake View 3, Shillong, August 2011

Is the river still crying because an obstruction is created in her way?
Or because the way human beings are using her? 
Or because she has become an object of consumerism? 

Saturday, 29 September 2012

44. Kakching

I was in Kakching for official work.
On the way, I had a seen a beautiful hill.
After the work was completed I asked about the hill and was told that there is a garden on the hill.
We decided to visit the garden.
After visiting the Mahadeva Temple, we walked around.

The view of the valley was very beautiful.

It was peaceful and calm outside and it definitely influenced the state of our mind. We all became calm for a while.

I came across a small temple. The size of the temple was not a surprise but the God(s) in the temple came to me as a great surprise.

Nobody around was able to tell me the story of Crow Worship. I am still searching for it.

On the way, the view of Kakching town was also beautiful.

The visit was something like a dream.
A good dream. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

43. Tea Stall

We were traveling from Amaravati to Nagpur. On the way we visited a small village.
One of the homes in the village offered us a cup of tea. However, we were running out of time, so declined the offer politely.
Then on the way the driver(s) of the car wanted to have a cup of tea.
So, we stopped at a roadside tea stall.

The tea was kept hot by using indirect heat.

And I like to have my tea in glass rather than in a cup.

Of course, the tea was good.
We moved forward feeling refreshed.
And I kept on thinking about the 'economics' of such tea stalls! 

Friday, 14 September 2012

42. Night

I was in a small village in Bhind district, Madhya Pradesh.
We were sitting comfortably in an open space in front of a small house and chatting with the household members.
I saw him then.

"What is his age?" I asked.
"Hmm.. he is already in the night of his life," someone explained to me.

What a term!
Night of life!
And how true!! 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

41. Bramhputra

When I was visiting Guwahati, how could I not visit Brahmputra?
I  have fond memories of this river.
The first glance was from the sky .. say from 10000 feet (or was it 20000 feet?)
It was frightening.

It must have affected lives of so many people. I could  do nothing else but just imagine their peril.

On the way to Kamakhya Temple, when I visited Brahmpurta, I was touched by its calmness. The evening was yet to approach but the atmosphere was peaceful. Some people were crossing the river. They must be doing it regularly - for them it is an everyday journey.

The river might be taking life once in a while, but it also provides livelihood to many.
On the banks, this woman is running some kind of shop.
River to her is life.

Brahmputra continues to flow.
As always. 

Monday, 13 August 2012

40. Shadow

Shadow is an inherent  part of our life.
We get so used to shadows that we forget that they have their individual personalities.

This one is observed in Karekal district in Pondicherry.

And the other is in the small desert in Badmer district of Rajsthan.

They are similar and yet distinct.
They have different stories to offer - if we care to listen. 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

39. Destiny

I was in Shivpuri district for work.
The local organizers had made certain arrangements for me.
In the evening one of them apologetically told me that there were certain difficulties in the planned accommodation and whether I was ready to stay at other guest house.
I had no problems.
We reached there in the night around 9.30.
Then I realized at a guest house which was built around a lake.
I woke up early next morning and found this.

I was in Madhav National Park. 

And in the park there is George Castle. 

Reading its history only shows that not only persons but even places have destiny!! 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

38. Queue

It was 1.30 in the afternoon. Summer is still around as Rain has decided to hide for some more time.
I am visiting one of the Government offices in Gumla (Jharkhand)

I ask, "What is the queue for?"
"It is for Dal-Bhaata", I get a quick response.
"Daal -Bhaata? What is it?" I ask.
Apparently it is scheme initiated by Chief Minister of Jharkhand in 2011.

Next day, I am in Latehar district.
Lunch time. I ask, "Can we eat at the Daala-Bhaata scheme?"
I am aware that the scheme is not meant for people like me. It is meant to help the poor and the malnourished.

However, I am told that "On Sunday, food is not served."

Many questions come to my mind.
1. What about food on Sunday?
2. What about dinner?
3. What about those who have limited mobility? Do they have to come all the way to the Government office?
4. Who comes to eat?
5. How were people managing before the scheme came?
6. Do such schemes REALLY help people? (I do not doubt intention of the Government, but still )
7. ......
8. ......

There are many questions in the queue. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

37. At Wagah Border

Two days ago, in the evening, I was at Wagah Border. 
To watch the Ceremony, of course.
Army personnel was friendly with people. Women and men were segregated, which I think is a wise decision taking into consideration our social behavior. 

There are two Gates - India Gate and Pakistan Gate.
At India Gate, it is clear that an approach of Non-Violence too needs protection.

People gather in large number to observe the ceremony and there is a kind of patriotic fervor - which to some extent is spontaneous and to some extent managed or facilitated.

The ceremony is brief.

At the end of the ceremony, people moved to this gate to watch people from Pakistan.
One father was telling his daughter, "Look, those are Pakistani people."
I smiled and said, "they are just like us ..."
And the father, a Sikh, said sadly, "Yes, unfortunately we have been divided and we have to live with this fact."

I wonder how many of us  at Wagah border had this feeling that evening! 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

36. Sweet Corn

I was traveling to Kolhapur yesterday evening.
"Madam, would you like to have Sweet Corn?" my colleague asked me.
I was not at all hungry. However, I like Sweet Corn.
So, I said yes.
On the road there were many people engaged in selling sweet corn.

We went to a vendor where there was no crowd - the crowds will increase when it rains - he told me later.

These corns are picked up and purchased by himself from nearby farmers. These are grown in the midst of sugarcane.

The fire burns from morning to evening - sometimes till late night.

During peak season he earns a profit of about Rs. 200/- per day.
He likes his work.

Because of the competition, customer get sweet corns at cheaper rates. Is it a win-win situation.

What does he do to earn his livelihood in 'non-corn' season - I asked.
He smiled but did not answer.
Maybe, as the corn season is ahead, he does not want to think about future - especially worrisome time!
He is right. I don't ask him anything more. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

35. Limits

The poverty estimates in the country are alarming.
Everybody agrees that there are more poor people than are officially acknowledged.

But there are people, and the number is large, who can spend much more than could be imagined by poor.
For example, look at the money people spend for breakfast.

And then what poor spend in purchasing, someone spends that amount for just washing and ironing the clothes.

Is this luxury necessary?
I know luxury has no limits.
The poverty too does not have limits. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

34. Roots Intact

"What takes us away from the earth?" is another question that I tend to ask.
The question no doubt is ridiculous, but it somehow often comes to my mind.
And the answers differ - depending on the place; time; situation....

I was at a spot on Ashoka Road  in Lutyens' Delhi - a place clearly taking me away from the reality to create another reality for me.

After a day long deliberations inside one of those buildings, I come out  in the evening and look around.

First what impresses me is the clear sky, cool breeze and the dancing trees.
Then I see some huge structures.
First is this - occupying the horizon.

Then I turn around and have another one blocking my view.

I feel a bit nervous with its size and just want to see what is at my left side.

It is not the height  that takes me away from earth - it is the attitude that separates me from others in a good way and in a bad way - both.

If I am aware of it, I can still keep the roots intact. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

33, Narmada

My association with Narmada is more emotional than real.
I have been at the banks of this lovely river occasionally and have blissful memories.
So, the other day, when I watched her from distance flowing alone, a little deserted; I could not control the pain and sorrow in my heart.  The sorrow was not only  personal,  but of so many lives that were associated with her.

I am not sure whether Narmada feels the pain. In a way I think she has taken this change as her destiny.
Because after few moments I was blissful again - as I am always with her.

A visit to Sardar Sarovar  was again a mixed feeling.
The history of human civilization is a history of its changing relations with Nature.
Good, bad, or ugly .. whatever we say, it is inevitable.

I realized that Narmada is the same old one, only her outer form has changed, the spirit remains the same.

I know, it is the way we make ourselves accept the reality.

And the state administration has tried to keep the roots intact in some way.

For me, this statue does not at all capture what Narmada means, what she stands for, what she teaches me.
But to different people, Narmada means different things.
So, I accept these emotions and expressions like I accept everything else in life. 

Saturday, 5 May 2012

32. Surprise Meeting

I had been to Lucknow.
When I returned, people asked me, "What did you do in Lucknow?"
Well, I had been there for some official work, so I did that work.
They laughed at me.

"What did you see there?" they modified the question.
Of course I saw a lot. I explored an uncrowded road early in the morning - a purposeless walk.
I met some; and that was indeed a surprise meeting.

To begin with, after a long time I enjoyed the rising Sun.

It was so beautiful that I do not have words to express it. How it happens everyday and how it is new everyday!

And then I met Dayal (Magpie Robin) which went on singing without paying any attention to me.

Of course, he was not singing for me .. but that does not mean I undervalue his natural gifts.

And there was another one to surprise me. Grey Hornbill. Initially, I was not sure of the identity of the bird, so had to confirm with my friend Mrunal.

Overall, I suppose I like surprise meetings more than the planned ones. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

31. Lane Life

A visit to two villages in Karanl district was very interesting.
What caught my eye was lanes with well constructed roads, the houses  as if chatting with each other but still aloof.

The lanes appear to be empty and silent, however they are not so; they are full of life.

A child is watching a group of strangers (15 of us) with curiosity and fear.

And a mother returns from work.

The lanes have a full story to share with me.
Alas, I had some spare time to mingle with the people. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

30. Confluence

Like all Mega cities, new and old, modern and ancient live together in Delhi too.
The confluence of two distant ages is amazing to watch.
Though I was watching it constantly, last December when I was at Purana Qila in Delhi, I saw the sea of cars just from corner in Purana Qila. During that moment I realized that the city of cities has been holding these two eras in a nice way together.

The point was again emphasized when last Dunday I was at Feroz Shah Kotla.  From a 14th Century Jami Masjid, I could see flyovers and cars running smoothly.

It is not that the ancient and the modern has nothing to do with each other. They have learnt to co-exist peacefully.

The confluence apparently is peaceful, but who knows what price has been paid by people - in the past and in the present!! 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

29. Media Madness

One of the salient features of 'India Against Corruption' movement is Media Coverage.  It seems that media is paying more attention to the cause of Anti- Corruption. 

At Jantar Mantar (Delhi), IAC conducted one day symbolic fast in which thousands joined.

The cameras looming over head were monstrous indeed. 

And just outside Jantar Mantar, the OB Vans and the spread of cables made things looks more mechanical than full of life.

Why is Media so much interested in this event? I don't know. I mean it is good, but there are thousands of people doing good work in the country and Media never takes notice of them.

Why now? 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

28. Shelter

Like every other city, Delhi too has multiple faces. 
On one side, you see huge malls, luxury cars, clean roads - a sign of affluence.
In the same city, you have open drainage, potholes, people living on the road,.. 

Tilak Bridge is one of the Railway Stations in Delhi. It is near to New Delhi Railway station and is surrounded by RICH Delhi.

A glance at this station clearly shows that rich people are not using this mode of transport. 

At 10.00 in the morning I see the following.

According to Census 2001,  there are 1,943,476 houseless people in India. I am sure, there are many more.  I am still searching for Census 2011 figures.

At least Railway stations can work as Shelter for few!
Or does it for MANY?