April 30, 2008

Orange Glow

Sandstorms have been kicking up in Kuwait pretty often the past few days. Some days back there was another kind of freak storm.

According to Wikipedia:

“A dust storm or sandstorm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions and arises when a gust front passes or when the wind force exceeds the threshold value where loose sand and dust are removed from the dry surface.”

Those with respiratory problems and susceptibility to dust allergy are in trouble. To some extent, others too!

Here a picture that I shot just five minutes back sticking the cam out from my office window through a busy day at work. It's a good break. I’m also hastily typing these few words before I'll get back to resume my work.

Pretty orange, ain’t it? ;) Here’s another picture with a colleague in the foreground.

The pictures are not photoshopped and uploaded as shot.

I’ll have to cut down my driving speed by at least half on my way back home. As I am writing this, I can see the glow is only deepening by the minutes. Hope I’ll not be stranded here for lack of visibility on the roads!

Have a great day, while I shall try to breathe normal through that dust storm!

April 28, 2008

Together, No More

A poem written a long time back during the days of Despair.

With you, though reluctantly at first, I share the secrets of my heart,
Convey how I wish with you to walk the path of life so resplendent,
And chase a thousand colourful dreams, be happy and independent;

We spend time, I forget my woes, you make me laugh through my tear,
Build more confidence, and then I become free from all external fear,
We fit closely and comfortably well in our own glorious world of cheer;

We experience life, sharing great moments, mirthful in the present,
Meeting, dallying, giggling, everything is so wonderful and pleasant,
Living and laughing each day, united we are, happy and so content,

We travel, and marvel at nature, in rains and in all sorts of weather,
To the seas, valleys and up mountains where fluffy clouds gather,
Hear them whisper of our love, amid them feel light like a feather;

We are, on our backs, as we gaze and admire million twinkling stars,
We feel the night glitters for us, as we hear chorus in our hearts,
Lively spirit, our dreams soar, these enchanting moments are ours;

Together ,
In thoughts, you ever in mine, me in yours, in glee our minds meet,
Not feeling the need for anyone else, life seems so true and sweet,
United we explore many emotions, and feel somehow truly complete;

We are, and hear a voice from a distance, and then it’s right behind,
Interrupting our joyful personal world and our tranquil mind,
Threatening to break up our niche in which we are so intertwined;

We are, still you choose to turn, give her at first a fleeting glance,
To know the face that seems better, you commence your advance,
You opt to hover and linger, and then to her tune you begin to dance;

We are, but a new relationship with her, you wish to eagerly start,
Why does this proposition cause a wild storm in my gentle heart,
Try to accommodate her between us? Oh no, from that I wish to dart;

Are we? It does not seem so, suddenly feel no connection anymore,
In what was a smooth sail in sea, I sense now we've reached the shore,
Meaningless times and impaled conversation get to be an uneasy chore;

Together, no more,
Yet you ask me to be in touch, share what I feel, tell me how can I?
You do not see or understand how I went silent, and also just why,
I drown in the depths of my grief, to smile I try but that too goes wry;

Together, no more,
But I’ll not give up, shall stick to my fight knowing I’m now hardest hit,
Matters seem the worst, it’s hard to overcome, but I shall not quit,
Courage does not abandon me as I realize in your world I do not fit;

Together, no more,
Incomprehensible is the present connection, since you chose to stray,
The distance between us only grows with each sad passing day,
I see my dreams lose meaning, and fading one by one to a dull gray;

Together, no more,
In your journey of life, I truly hope you get what you seek to attain,
Years shall pass, life will go on, with measures of peace, and of pain,
Here I wonder, with dreams shattered, why must these memories remain?


April 25, 2008

Marble Rocks

My capture of the Dhuandhar Falls, Bhedaghat

Bhedaghat, 25 kms from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh is famous for its marble rocks.

The River Narmada is the only river in India that flows in a rift valley. The Narmada flows accumulating waters through the central part of India. At Jabalpur, passing through the Marble Rocks, it enters the Narmada valley between the Vindhya and Satpura ranges and cascades powerfully at Bhedaghat.

It is popularly called Dhuandhar or Dhuadhar (translation, smoke cascade). While enjoying the Dhuandhar Falls, I recalled the awe I felt upon seeing the Niagara Falls.

The Narmada is a sacred river for many people in India. From the Dhuandhar Falls, the Narmada river flows into a ravine of marble rocks. The natural topography over there is delightful.

What is unique about Bhedaghat is that just a few kilometers away from these powerful Dhuandhar Falls, the Narmada flows serenely. I covered the distance by foot between these two spots in less than an hour.

Shot during a boat ride in the serene waters

April 23, 2008

Another Tag

Moi..some years back

Thank you for the tag Indrani. Here are my answers to your list of 29 questions:

1. Last movie you saw in a theater?
(Some movies have to be watched on the big screen!)

2. What book are you reading?
Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram.
(Just started with it and it’s fascinating!)

3. Favorite board game?
(I prefer crosswords, if given a choice!)

4. Favorite magazine?
Reader’s Digest.
(Since years!)

5. Favorite smells?
Natural fragrance of vegetation.
(Especially that on pine filled mountains..memories of Lebanon!)

6. Favorite sounds?
Pitter patter of rain drops.
(Oh, it’s so quixotic!)

7. Worst feeling in the world?
Death of a family member.
(Losing who I ‘thought’ was a ‘great’ friend was almost as bad!)

8. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?
That depends.
(Might be my next holiday destination, or someone I care for, or coffee!)

9. Favorite fast food place?
Pizza Hut.
(Reluctant answer as I prefer “real good” food!)

10. Future child’s name?
No more please.
(And thank you very much!)

11. Finish this statement. “If I had lot of money I’d ….?”
Quit working and travel.
(And travel more, and more!)

12. Do you drive fast?
(If on a highway I do, but not recklessly!)

13. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
(I wouldn’t sleep with any animal *wink*)

14. Storms - cool or scary?
(Unless lightning hits me!)

15. What was your first car?
Caprice Classic.
(Wish it were a Lamborghini though..still wishing, but not that enthusiastic about it anymore!)

16. Favorite drink?
A margarita.
(One of many favorites. Next choice, for now, some cold coffee please!)

17. Finish this statement, “If I had the time I would …”?
Travel more, read more, write more, serve more, share more, love more …and again, travel some more.
(I guess by now you've got the picture: travelling is my passion!)

18. Do you eat the stems on broccoli?
(I love vegetarian food as much as non-vegetarian!)

19. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?
(Keep it as natural as possible as it’s hard to imagine wild gothic purple and pink hair on me!)

20. Name all the different cities/towns you’ve lived in?
Mumbai, Mangalore, Jamnagar, Kuwait.
(Fortunately, I wasn't asked the different cities I’ve been to!)

21. Favorite sports to watch?
(Ain't it the case with almost all Indians? Wish I could watch it live in a stadium someday, preferably with a rollicking friend!)

22. One nice thing about the person who sent this to you?
I am just getting to know Indrani better and can say with certainty she’s nice.
(Thank you Indrani!)

23. What’s under your bed?
(I like my bedroom clean and dust-free!)

24. Would you like to be born as yourself again?
(Wouldn’t really matter if I were born again or not!)

25. Morning person, or night owl?
Night owl, generally.
(But while travelling, it’s the opposite, as I love to catch the morning lights of a new place!)

26. Over easy, or sunny side up?
Sunny side up, maybe?
(Anyone, what exactly does it mean..LOL. Is it reference to eggs?)

27. Favorite place to relax?
On a remote corner of a hill station commanding scenic mountain scenery.
(Next choice, on my comfy bed – all to myself!)

28. Favorite pie?
Apple pie.
(Make that after a steak pie please!)

29. Favorite ice cream flavor?
(And one helping of chocolate too, please!)

Whom do I tag now?

You. I tag you and everyone else who would like to take up this tag. Go ahead, let’s get to know you better. I’d be delighted if you leave a word here, in which case I'll surely visit you!

To conclude, I am just informed today is Friendship Day. Happy Friendship Day, and have a great day!

April 22, 2008

April 20, 2008

Palace of Datia

To get the most out of this post, I'd recommend you to read my previous one here that provides a glimpse of the history behind the construction of the Datia Palace.

As I got down from the taxi at the Datia Palace, a little local girl in a not-too-clean white frock and dishevelled hair said 'hello' in a soprano-type sweet voice. I found a guide who also is the caretaker of the Datia Palace. He was kind and helpful, and it was interesting to hear all that he had to say about the Palace.

As the main entrance is on the eastern side, the sun was beating down on the front portion of the Palace as I approached it. It is presumed that the Palace is built on the exact spot where Bir Singh Deo and Jehangir first met.

It was in 1614 that Raja Bir Singh Deo built the Datia Palace on top of the Datia hillock. The Palace consists of seven levels, two of which are underground and has more than 440 rooms and several courtyards. The guide said it was built in the shape of a swastika but I could not really figure that out from the limited view I could get. It was easy to feel delightfully lost in the hundreds of passages while darting from one room to the other.

The Palace is made entirely of stones and bricks. It has a ribbed dome over which is a shikar (spire) with lotus petal design. The arched openings, brackets and dome is characteristic of the Mughal architecture, while the lotus petals and use of animal sculpture and avian painting are symbols of the Rajput architecture. The blend of the Mughal and Rajput architecture forms a typical feature of the Bundela style of architecture at the Datia Palace. It gave me an impression that the Bundela kings were favorably inclined towards the Mughals at least as far as the Datia Palace is concerned.

The halls have an embellished finish and some fine paintings.

Ceilings are intricately decorated. These murals seem to have somehow withstood the test of time.

The windows have beautiful stone lattice work. The guide informed that some repair work on those has been done by workmen brought in from Jaipur. (If you click on picture 475 from my previous post, you'd notice the repaired jaalis are indeed of a slightly different shade).

Certain places present a beautiful play of light and shade as can be seen in these pictures.

Strangely, this beautiful Palace is considered unique for it has never been used as a residence by King Bir Singh Deo or his descendants. It is interesting to read a few references to some refugees who are said to have been housed in this Palace for many years.

I found the view from the terrace particularly charming with the scenery dotted with temples and cenotaphs, and spent some time relaxing there with the cool breeze blowing on my face. Coming out, I had another good look at the Palace. It was hard to believe that this Palace was of the seventeenth century. Gazing at it for a while, I felt as if time had stopped. The Datia Palace of the seventeeth century has indeed well resisted the onslaught of time.

Datia can be approached by road from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh or from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. Datia is on the Delhi-Mumbai railway line.

April 17, 2008

Of Bundelas and Mughals

A visit to Datia was originally not in my itinerary. While chit-chatting with a small group of travellers at Man Mandir, they described this beautiful palace in Datia that they had just returned from.

So on my way to Orchha, about 75 kms away from Gwalior on the border of UP (Jhansi being only 25 kms away), I had my taxi stop at Datia and was glad I did that.

The main attraction of Datia town is the captivating Datia Palace, locally called Govind Mahal (or Govind Mandir) and popularly called the Jehangir Mahal (Palace). It is overlooking the Karna Sagar Lake. To avoid confusion with another Palace in Orchha that is also called the Jehangir Palace (Orchha, being a twin city of Datia about which I shall write shortly), I’ll refer to this palace in Datia as the Datia Palace.

The historical account of Datia and Orchha is one of intrigue and worth a read.

Akbar captured Orchha in 1604 and deposed Raja Ram Chand, Bir Singh’s eldest brother. It is said that Bir Singh, an errant chieftain himself, beheaded Abul Fazl (Akbar’s vizier, confidant and general) and sent his head to Salim (a young Jehangir). It is also alleged that this was done at the prompting of Jehangir, who in his memoirs declared that it was Abul Fazl who had abused Akbar's mind so that he turned away his love for his son. I could not find out how much of this is a fact. Anyway, tormented at Fazl’s death and to challenge Bir Singh’s audacity, Akbar tried to have Bir Singh captured. Bir Singh teamed up with Jehangir, who by then was rebelling against his own father. Bir Singh and Jehangir apparently shared some anxious moments before either of them ascended the throne.

To make it more interesting, when Jehangir was imprisoned on his way to Kabul by one of his own generals, Mahabat Khan, it is alleged that Bir Singh’s youngest son, Bhagwan Rao, came to his rescue and liberated him. As a token of gratitude, when Jehangir ascended the throne, he made Bir Singh Deo the ruler of Orchha.

In return, Bir Singh built the grand Datia Palace in honour of Jehangir. Now that we know the story, we should not be surprised why a palace in the middle of the land of Bundelas is called Jehangir Palace.

So, we see that the Bundelkhand rulers of the seventeenth century were closely connected to the life and times of the Mughal emperors. That is probably why the Datia Palace, that was originally called Govind Mahal or Govind Mandir got popularly called by the name Jahangir Palace.

In my next post I shall present more information and my pictures of this magnificent Datia Palace that Edwin Lutyens described as “one of the most interesting buildings in the whole of India.”

April 14, 2008

Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh

A compilation of posts on Gwalior:

1. Gwalior
2. Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhod
3. Gwalior Fort, the Pearl amongst Fortresses
4. The Citadel, Gwalior
5. Tansen, Musician Extraordinaire
6. Surya Mandir, the Sun Temple
7. Italian Garden, Gwalior
8. Jai Vilas Palace
9. Scindia Museum

April 12, 2008

Scindia Museum

The Jai Vilas Palace about which I had written in this post houses the Jivaji Rao Scindia Museum that was established in 1964 and is said to be managed by a trust.

The Museum is known for its vast collection of treasures that gives an indication of the lifestyle of the Scindias. There is a lot of paraphernalia of the Scindia dynasty that can be found there.

Visitors get fascinated about a silver train with cut glass wagon that is known to be serving guests as it chugs along on the table on a miniature railway line. I would have been too, but only if I had seen it in action, so I'll wait patiently till I get an invitation from Jyotiraditya Scindia!

There was a room (or two) of jungle scenery with stuffed tigers. That sight, and that of the hunting trophies, was something that I did not enjoy.

There are cut glass ornaments, art works, coins, bronze sculptures, woodworks, ivory works, carpets and rugs, musical instruments and a large number of stuff belonging to the Scindia kinsfolk and their portraits too.

There are many items of gifts received from VIPs around the world, whether it was during the trips of Scindias abroad or during the visit of dignitaries to the Jai Vilas Palace. Also on display are personal mementos of past members.

The Museum has two huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling supposedly weighing 3.5 tons each! An enthusiastic guard nearby (who volunteered to be a temporary guide) narrated to me how seven elephants were made to march non-stop for seven days on the roof of the Palace to test its strength before those heavy chandeliers were made to hang freely from the ceiling.

There are other trophies and a lot of weapons displayed including swords said to be used by Aurangzeb and Shah Jahan.

Travellers who are interested in exploring the opulence of the princely state can visit the Scindia Museum. I had just a quick look around and was eager to move on to my next destination.

April 8, 2008

Symphony by the Sea

Following my yesterday's post on Goa, I got a feedback from a friend in the form of an email today that my post was not like my usual posts, and that the details sounded more like a presentation for promoting a travel site. Probably what was expected of me was to voice out my chirpy thoughts and make it a post full of personal experiences.

Well, I do admit that, yesterday while at work, I came across those few pictures of Goa on my office pc and when I had a few moments to spare, I uploaded them and quickly wrote a few sentences and hurriedly pressed publish.

Now that I am home right now, I have found some more pictures on my laptop of my December trip to Goa, and I thought I would upload some of these and try to write with a more personal approach before publishing them. The question is: what could I write about ever popular Goa that has not yet been written about on the world wide web? I do not think I can come up with anything new or interesting, however, let me try and write something.

What could I write about? Ah, yes. How could I forget about the much talked about Scarlett Keeling murder case. Enough has been said and discussed on that, but if you wish to hear my two cents worth on it, I want to say please do not be slanted and blame it all on the mother. Which mother would want her daughter molested and murdered? Is it so complicated to know who is at fault there? Enough of blame game. Dammit, condemn the drugging and molesting, condemn the violence and murder and if you can, do something good, and if you cannot do that, be quiet! Or else you would be indirectly collaborating with the wrong-doer(s) when you are speaking against the deceased and her mother. No one has a right to take another person's life - it's as simple as that. I'm done ranting. Thank you for reading.

In my view, despite the Scarlett case, tourism in Goa would not remain affected for long. I hope Goa continues to remain a safe place for all, and please tell me, who would wish that the confidence of a young lady like this, walking on the beach of Goa in the night, be shattered?

Now about Konkani, the official language of the State of Goa. Yes, I can speak Konkani though the dialect can a little awkward sometimes. I know enough of it to reply and retort, if and when the need arises, whether it is in thoughts, words or action, err, I mean to say, to read, write or speak.

What else about Goa? Oh yes, no one cares what your sexual preference is. According to an archaic law, 'gayness' is prohibited and still illegal in India, but as I said in my last post Goa presents a somewhat different picture when compared to the rest of India, and as long as overt displays of affection are avoided, there should be no problems in Goa.

What else? Are psychedelic and other recreational drugs legal in Goa? The answer is of course not. They are illegal, however, is it not a known fact that drug business is going on, like in so many other places? If one is caught in possession of even a minute quantity, severe penalties can be imposed.

Did I try Feni while in Goa? Yes. A few drops. Gosh, the spirit is so potent, I'd need five bottles of soda water to mix with 30 ml of the Cashyo. (I know, I know, it is not supposed to be consumed that way).

What is an average person's idea of a good holiday in Goa? The most likely response would be: Have a good time on the beautiful beaches. I went about being an average person and did just that - I got into the ''eat, drink and be merry'' mode.

Rather than going about exploring the same old (but interesting) churches and temples, and the usual tourist spots, this time I spent most of the time on the finest stretches of sandy beaches and I was content doing just that while enjoying some delicious Goan food. Goa's cuisine is a fine blend of Portuguese and native cultures.

The bright sun, the warm sands, the shimmering waters of the sea and the graceful coconut trees, as captured in many filmi songs of Bollywood, never fail to fascinate me. It is no wonder Goa has become one of the most popular destinations and a honeymooning ''hotspot'' for newlyweds (ahem, Kolkata hear me!?). The moments I spent this time also included a post midnight bike trip to Baga beach and boy, oh boy, it was fun enjoying the cold waters in the wee hours of the morning with the sand clinging on to the skin while the cool December breeze was blowing on my face as I watched a glorious sunrise!

In spite of bellowing of countless hawkers, superfluous souvenirs, traffic filled roads, and its commercialization, Goa is attractive. There is a certain charm and romance about the atmosphere of Goa that I enjoy.

I could write more on the Goan happy-go-lucky attitude, and about Goa’s love for rhythmic music and dance, its festivals, its arts and crafts, and its culture in general. But, now that I got down to writing a bit of my experience, my mind is once again wandering and filling up with wave after wave of good memories spent on the shores of Goa as the cool winds kiss my face, and I can once again hear the symphony of the sea in my ears.

So allow me to listen to those sounds and that would spare you from any further reading.


April 7, 2008


Goa, India’s smallest state area-wise and one of the smallest states in terms of population, is located on the west coast of India in the region known as the Konkan. It is surrounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and Karnataka to the east and south, and the Arabian Sea forms its western coast.

Goa is famous for its temples and world heritage architecture, and rich flora and fauna owing to its proximity to the Western Ghats (one of the bio-diversity hotspots, with 325 threatened species occurring there). Additionally, it is renowned for its sunny beaches and is a popular holiday destination.

Portuguese colony ruled the place for about 450 years (one of the longest held colonial rules in the world) until Goa was taken over by India in 1961. A part of that culture still exists, and Goa presents a somewhat different picture to the foreign visitors when compared to the rest of India. It is estimated that 12% of tourists to India visit Goa.

Family beach vacations in Goa can be as much fun as it is with friends. These pictures are of post-Christmas season of 2007 that I spent in Goa.

April 6, 2008

Jai Vilas Palace

The Jai Vilas Palace is the residence of the Scindia family. The Scindia family ruled Gwalior until India’s independence from the British in 1947, when Maharaja Jivajirao Scindia acceded to the Government of India.

Gwalior was merged with a number of other princely states to become the new Madhya Bharat state (Malwa Union). Jivaji Rao Scindia served as the state's rajpramukh, or appointed governor, from 1948 to 1956, when Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh.

The white 19th-century Jai Vilas Palace is built along the Tuscan and Corinthian architectural style.

The Palace rooms are reminiscent of a majestic lifestyle of the Scindias. Furnishings in gilt, heavy draperies and tapestries, fine Persian rugs, antique furniture etc are featured in the Palace.

A part of the Palace has been turned into the Jivaji Rao Scindia Museum. I shall post some pictures of the Museum in my next post.