Saturday, December 30, 2006


The Angels were visiting us; two, extremely adorable, lovable angels. These little angels were –
So energetic that their parents fall asleep trying to put them to sleep….
Generous enough to forgive me w/ a meek smile when I gobbled up their last chocolate chip cookie…Shrewd enough to divert the topic when I asked them to share their walkie-talkie password w/ me….
Young enough to enjoy an evening in the park or on the swing….Grown-up enough to ask me about my boyfriends…
Silly enough to believe in ghosts….Smart enough to figure out the TV channel that ran their favorite Cartoon Network, to always get a hold of my cell phone for their play, to convince me to turn on the computer for their games…
Naïve enough to believe in all my made-up stories…Smart enough to pick on my code language w/ their ma….
So peaceful when they slept…..So noisy during their waking hours that they made me blow off every few minutes….
Their presence seemed to shake our mundane life into action. I got some free lessons in anger management. Order to them, is boring, chaos, on the other hand, is a lot of fun. In the few days that I spent w/ them, I have learnt to let go. So what if somebody messes up your car radio settings; you can always re-tune. So what if there are food crumbs all over the place; cleaning isn't such a big deal. "Don’t sweat the small stuff", has been my mantra for the most of past week.
But just as these important lessons are beginning to sink in and I am getting used to the amplified decibel levels at home, they are GONE.
I am going to miss you darlings. Visit me soon!

Friday, December 29, 2006


San Juan Islands, WA

Songs seem to have their days....somedays you wake up w/ a song....or sometimes you run into them; just like running into an old friend in the market or times the songs linger on....and other times they are gone no sooner than they came.....on somedays its just one of them running in repeat mode in your head, while on others, its more like a random song playlist......a song has been playing in my head since yesterday.....don't know why! it is for you....

Heart of Gold

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Friday Harbor, WA

Life is interesting......Sometimes it leaves you w/ no choice and frustrates you and some other times, teases you w/ choices and confuses such times, every option seems like the right thing and one is tormented w/ trying to find the best out of all these, they say, is the result of the choices that one makes and so the process of making the right choice stresses you out........hasty decisions work best at times whereas at times the problem itself seems to disappear if one continues to sit on it......Slow is fast and fast is slow...what to do.....lifes like that!


Beach, Friday Harbor, WA

2006 is almost over. Overall its been a good year...mostly good things have happened....the bad things have been stumblers that I have been able to recover from and have taught me a lesson or the year draws to a close, I yearn for some time and peace, to sit back and contemplate about the past year and also plan for the coming year....

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Nature's Artists - Diveagar Beach, (Konkan, Maharashtra, India)

Merry X'mas and best wishes for the coming year. Herez wishing that the new year rings in new cheer, happiness, health and peace into our worlds.

Stay warm, take care and haffun!


Thursday, December 21, 2006


Its been a while since I have written....that my grey cells need exercise is evident from my previous an attempt to have a regular work-out...okay warm-up at least :)....I am planning to write a short piece daily......Inspiration for the work-outs has been derived from Shoefie, a blogger whose writing I love!....not sure if I will get to the precision of 100 words...but keeping it short is the is my 1st short piece for your preview...


It was a late spring evening and the sky was alight. Its goldens and pinks intersected haphazardly and gave it the appearance of a huge modern art painting. Another lonely evening, he thought and let out a loud sigh. As he looked up helplessly, he saw the birds hastily returning to their nests. Of late, everybody seemed to be in a hurry! The twittering of the birds was drowned by the cheer that rose among the group watching the football game. He realised it had been ages since he had played the game.

In the field, Ishaan had the game under his control. Lean, dark with his long mane of black hair, Ishaan appeared like a black stallion cruising the field with the speed of lightening. Ishaan scored the victorious goal and was swept off the ground by his team-mates.

As he looked up from his thoughts towards the loud group, his eyes met Ishaan’s. In a flash they were transported to the cold December night….. Ishaan was at the wheel…. they were on I-95 heading towards the airport to catch their flight to LA…….his next memory was of waking up in the hospital room…..

A sharp pain rose in his heart and he winced as he tried to get up with the help of his crutches……he looked down at his amputated legs…..Ishaan looked up to the heavens…..his mind clogged by memories of the cruel twist of fate..

Monday, December 18, 2006


For many, it is THE place to be; hang-out with friends through the late hours, savor snacks and coffee amidst the vibrant musical atmosphere and display their style quotient. For some, it is simply an annual ritual/tradition, while for some, it is a place to meet old friends and relive the past. But for most, it is a place to see their demigods, hear the best Hindustani classical music, and also experience those rare moments of connecting with the divine.
I am talking about the Sawai Gandharva music festival (now running its 54th year). One of the most prestigious events in Indian classical music, this festival generally takes place around the 1st week of December, in the city of Pune (Maharashtra, India). The festival not only features big names in music but also serves as a platform to introduce upcoming artists. It is a matter of great honor to get a chance to perform at the festival. Music lovers from India and abroad make it a point to attend the festival.
Since 1989 the festival is being held in the grounds of New English School. (Ramanbaug) For the convenience of the attendees, the seating arrangement is a mix of bharatiya baithak (floor seating), chairs and sofas. A number of LCD screens and TV monitors are installed in the arena so that the attendees can view the artist. Yet, nothing matches the experience of being seated cross-legged in the front rows (a few feet away from the artist) and enjoying the concert. Every artist gets at least an hour to perform; the schedule is tailored so that there is a good mix of vocal and instrumental recitals each day. Until a few years ago the festival used to be an all-night affair. The program would commence at 9 pm (if I am remembering it right) and would go on until the wee hours of morning. On the last day, the show would continue till almost noon the next day and music lovers would sit there mesmerized. However, things have changed due to the ban on loudspeakers beyond 10 pm. The festival now runs on a 4 pm-10 pm schedule officially. In reality, the ban is lifted and the festival continues well past midnight on all 4 days. :)
Shawls, sweaters, and other warm accessories find their way out as the night deepens, and the temperature drops. Munchies are passed around during the short intervals between two performances. The breaks are aptly utilized by the foodies to pamper their food pangs. From Punjabi to South Indian to Chinese; there is a wide variety available for selection. Veteran attendees are seen exchanging notes about the finer points of a raga, past concerts or details about an artist’s biography. The uninitiated seem to grind out humdrum details about life. Often a brawl ensues over the place of seating, but it ends quickly and peacefully. Apart from music, it is truly (most of the times ;)) entertaining to meet and observe people of all the possible personality types that there exist.
I was fortunate to have been able to attend all four days of the festival this year. The festival began at 4 pm sharp each day. The first day was kicked-off with the customary Shehenai recital. Of the 1st day, I particularly enjoyed the sarangi recital (Raga Madhuvanti, Mishra Pilu) by brother-duo Dilshad and Sabir Khan and the vocals of Shashwati Mandal (Raga Saraswati, Punjabi Tappa in Raga Sohoni).
Although the 2nd day saw maestros Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma (Raga Rasikpriya) and Pt. Jasraj (Raga Jaijaivanti, Bhajan – Govind, Damodar,…) perform, the highlight of the evening was the vocal recital of Kaushiki Chakraborty, daughter of Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty. Her perfect rendition of Raga Rageshwari and thumri (Rangi saari gulabi chunariya re..), sweet smile, and humility found her a place in the heart of each and everyone present in the audience. A successful performance requires not only a flawless rendition, but also the ability to connect with the audience and to convey the true essence of the composition. I think, KC had mastery over all these elements and hence was an instant hit with the audience. The encores and the standing ovation she received say it all about her performance.
Day 3 started with the vocal recital of Mrs. Hema Upasani (Raga Madhuvanti). The performances that followed, steadily took the musical evening to a magical height. HU’s final gazal (Ratra aisi gothali ki, chandra hi tharakapla..) rendition was especially appreciated by the audience. Rahul Deshpande, grandson of late Pt. Vasantrao Deshpande enthralled the audience by his renditions of Raga Marwa, Maru Bihag, natyageet and bhajan. Pt. Anindo Chatterjee’s tabla was a complete delight.
The weekend and bigger names on the list of performers drew larger crowds to the festival. I was unable to attend the morning session on the last day and regret missing Rakesh Chaurasia’s flute recital. :( The numbers peaked just as Shubha Mudgal took to stage. Amjad Ali Khan’s sarod recital took everyone by surprise due to the accompaniment by 2 tabla players. A lot has been debated about the raga he played. I do not understand the technical aspects of classical music. To me, music that appeals the human soul is good music. Khan saheb’s rendition of Raga Shubhalakshmi definitely possessed that soul stirring quality. The last moment announcement of Dr. Prabha Atre’s performance being cancelled came as a big disappointment to me and many others present there.
Like every year Mr. Anand Deskmukh did a good job at compering for the event.
I was also impressed with the toilet arrangements this year; much better than the portable ones of the previous years, this year we had the option to choose between the Western and the Indian one and they were pretty well maintained too! Although way off-track, I think the loos deserved a mention.
Overall, it was a treat to see the maestros perform and reside in the heavenly world of music during those days. Long live Hindustani classical music!

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Diveagar beach - Konkan, Maharashtra

Dear M,

"Success is good fun"...announced a hoarding on my way home..."Sure," I thought in my mind and smiled....Its funny I had never noticed the line or the hoaridng before..maybe it was the reflection-effect...your perspective/attitude decides the way things appear to you....the world seems like paradise to a person in love..everything seems yellow to the jaundiced eye...types.. you know..I have learnt from you that success is as much a function of hard-work, practice, excellence as of mental positivity, the belief that "I can win"...about the unyielding faith in the self and the fire that doesn't allow you to give up...I hope that I remember these lessons and apply them to other aspects of life as well....I am not too worried about forgetting..because even if I do...I know that you will be in the lines egging me on till the finish line...

Cheers to us :)With Love!

Friday, December 01, 2006


Lord Ganesha helmet awareness poster
Received this poster in my email and thought it was worth sharing, considering the traffic sense that we display, the road conditions and last but not the least for the creativity, humor and the instant appeal that is inherent to the poster.
There was a lot of hullabaloo over the decision that made helmets compulsory for two-wheeler drivers in the state. After all the protests, debates and tomfoolery the decision remains unimplemented; wearing a helmet still continues to be an individual decision/preference.
Friends, please…
  • Drive safe. Driving rashly not only puts your life at risk but also that of the numerous others who are on the road. I know many examples who have suffered fatalities due to the rash driving of others.
  • Respect time. From my own experience I can say that I tend to drive rashly if I am running late. I think about it often. Now when I am running late and driving I tell myself, “Your super time management is causing you to drive rashly and sooner or later you are going to pay for this.” Sometimes the driver in me heeds to this sometimes not. I have learnt that most of the times human beings initiate change only after something bad happens to them. Anyhoo, I am trying!
  • Follow traffic rules.Nobody follows rules. Why should I??? There are more chances of getting hurt if I follow rules!”…yea I can hear you saying that but, surely we can turn around the situation if each one of us thinks otherwise.
  • Wear Helmet. (when on a two-wheeler ;)). That is the least that you can do to ensure your safety on the road. Stop giving lame excuses like – I hate to carry it around, ruins my hair, etc. If you can’t, go get yourself a car or take a liking to public transport. I am serious, no kidding.. :)
Reading this might help in interpreting the poster.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


14th of November is celebrated as Children's Day all over India.....Let us try to make this world a better place for all these tiny tots ....and help them enjoy the carefree days of childhood....Herez a track by the band MLTR that I like - Sleeping Child

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Nooksack Falls, WA

Unfortunately I do not know much about sunscreen...but, I have learnt, albeit the hard way that, money is like the water coming down this waterfall....hard to keep track of when you have it coming in, easy to let go unnoticed when you are not in need....worse still, you realise its value when its gone and often that is exactly when you need it the most....and so you better keep an eye on where its coming from and where its going...'coz you never know when you'll need it....... :) be careful w/ your money pals.....
If that did not seem like interesting advice watch this......Wear Sunscreen


I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday.
~Author Unknown

Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer.
~Author Unknown

Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.
~Earl Nightingale

Saturday, November 11, 2006


View from Science Museum at St. Paul, MN

Winter is slowly creeping in here.....the hot dry days of Oct. are over.....the mornings and evenings are crispy cool.....and the urge to snooze the morning alarm and snuggle in my soft blanket is on the rise with every passing day.....WINTER.....bouts of allergic cold....the joy of sipping ginger flavored tea.....the itchy feeling of crackling skin.....soft smelling moisturizer lotions.....the sun bathing in the garden reading a book and watching the chirpy birds go about their chores.....the campfires and all the yapping done sitting around it...thats my winter......Although I am glad to be away from the snowy wintry places.....I guess I will miss the anticipation and the sight of the 1st snowfall and will surely miss the joy that early Spring sunshine brings.....

Whats your winter like?

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Himalayan Peaks as seen from Kausani, India

Rain clouds gather and the temperature drops.....there is an excited anticipation in the, men, birds, animals; all are eagerly awaiting for the water to succumb to gravity.....will it rain?? will, but only, WHEN ITS TIME.....if it is NOT, a gentle breeze will be sufficient to carry the rain clouds far far away.....and WHEN ITS TIME the rain clouds will be summoned from their abode even on a hot sunny day and rain it will, even though you least expected keep in mind this 'lil mantra..."WHEN ITS TIME".. :)....and then you will realise that denials are just delays...

Herez a song that says just this....To Everything Turn Turn Turn

Njoy!! :)

Saturday, October 28, 2006


"If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite." - 18th century artist and poet William Blake

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


This was taken at a pit stop on our way to Kausani, Uttaranchal....The lady's costume and jewellery got me interested....we got talking.....she took out a beedi (cigarette) and started smoking as we were speaking.....I loved her look then....sitting erect, chatting and smoking a beedi nonchalantly....thats the image I wanted to capture...oh, well.....heres what I got....I am glad that it captures the details of her jewellery and attire....I also like the look on her boy's face.....a lost, dreamy look...(I offered him candy and thats what he is chewing on)


You are probably thinking...."Whats so great about this pic?"....I see a dancer in this dead tree; standing erect w/ arms outstretched, ready to take a twirl.....nature teaches us so many things if we care to observe and ponder....the lesson I learnt from this tree is 'celebrate life'.....another line that comes to mind when I look at this picture is.."Don't cry because its over, smile because it happened".....

Anyhoo....herez wishing you a very Happy Diwali!

Cheers! :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Mountains surrounding Logan, UT

A new place and the start of a new race....bewildering yet exciting....a perfect setting to take me tumbling down....but these mountains made me home at once...their constant towering presence; like the watchful eyes of the friend who is always there to dad's smile that says.."ain't no mountain high enough"....O lovely Mountains, I miss you!!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


This picture was taken during a trip to Konkan (coastal Maharashtra) early this year...What drew me towards these ladies was their walk...a steady rhythmic pace and peculiar crossing of the feet; like models walking the ramp....and I thought in my mind "boy, they could give the catwalk gals a run for their money!"....Some smiled shyly as I clicked their pictures...while some, like the duo in this picture seemed be saying......"this is the life of some!...while you pleasure cruise miles in your SUVs....we walk miles just to earn our daily meals.....this is our life; a life of hardship!".....I salute their will and hope life gets better for them...

Monday, October 02, 2006


Vinchu Kata point - Lohagad Fort
I massage my legs, trying to comfort the sore muscles and wish I had a personal masseur. “This pain is temporary; it will go away after a day”, I tell myself. To divert my attention from the pain, I close my eyes and reminisce the pastoral yellow-green of the wild flowers atop the fort (Lohagad) and the bliss I felt as rain clouds swept past and engulfed us in a heavenly mist…..
A day trek had been the next activity on the agenda of the girl-gang at my workplace. I was keeping my fingers crossed that this would materialize and not be dropped off the list due to lack of numbers. It is my experience that such activities do not find many takers. Lately I have been keen on doing some serious trekking; there are so many places around Maharashtra to do so, however lack of time and association with like-minded individuals are my (lame?) excuses for not having been able to do so. So anyways, at the end of Friday there were 7 of us who were still game for a trek to Lohagad (Loha = iron, gad = fort). I only had a brief acquaintance with majority of the group and so was a bit skeptical about spending the whole day with such a bunch. All for the trek, I convinced myself and tagged my sister along as a fallback. I must admit that my spirits were dampened more than they were enthused as I was packing gear late into Friday night.
We decided to take the early local (train) upto Malavli. As we ware about to leave for the station, I was informed that the group had missed the local. The next one was almost an hour and a half away. My skepticism surged, but I decided to make the most of the time by building my energy reserve with wholesome homemade breakfast. Hot methi parathas did the trick and I was smiling and chatting all through the local journey. Wild orange flowers and lush green mountains zoomed past us all the way to Malavli.
A board at the railway station mentioned that Lohagad was a 9 km walk from Malavli. This was probably my 4th journey to the fort. All my previous visits had been during the simmering summer months and I hoped to see the fort in a different light at this time of the year. Here the monsoons are almost over and the weather is really hot on most days, however this is also the time for short but big showers. We were praying that the sun would stay behind the clouds for the most part and bless us with a drizzle just when we needed it.
We started the climb at about 9:30 am; a late and slow start and I tried to build the group’s tempo so we could reach our destination before tiring ourselves by our own breaks and lazy speed. The hike is an easy walk along a wide gravel road for the most part. The sun was hiding but there was a lot of humidity in the air. I tried to look for old signs as we made our way up. After almost two hours of walking the twin forts of Lohagad and Visapur came into view. Wild yellow flowers were in full bloom and their color contrasted beautifully with the greens of the mountains and the brown earth. We couldn’t resist taking pictures and resumed our walk refreshed, after this short break.

Monument on Lohagad fort
Cool breeze and the yellow-greens atop the fort greeted us; none of us were really hungry, however the prospect of shedding some weight from our backpacks was reason enough for having lunch. A family of monkeys arrived just as we opened our packed lunches. Although we bribed a stray dog and some local kids with food, to chase the monkeys away, we were forced to have a hasty lunch. I think I am going to hold it against the monkeys for a long time. They are definitely off my favorite animal list!
We decided to explore the fort further, but couldn’t resist the cool water in the numerous water tanks that were along our exploration path. Chatting, singing, fish-spotting, we forgot all about the monkeys. Groups of teenagers suddenly appeared and soon the fort seemed like a vibrant youth hang-out rather than an historic artifact.
We continued our exploration after the water-play and soon the Vinchu (Scorpion) Kata (tail) point came into view. There is a tricky rock patch that one has to tackle before getting on the Vinchu Kata walk. Going down might have been easy, but we weren’t sure about making it up. Confused we sat there taking in the view of the valley. Soon misty clouds made way towards us and a cheer rose in the crowd.
Most of us had convinced ourselves that this was good enough. But S couldn’t go back after coming this far. She insisted on finding an alternative route and that she did. She urged us to look at the alternative path; a walk along the ledge below; it appeared simple and we decided to give it a shot. Suddenly a monkey appeared and edged close to S. The rest of us were at a distance above, and all we could do was scream in panic. S tried to shoo the monkey away, but the creature hissed closer. I was scared and confused at the same time. Our canine ally appeared on the scene just in time and drove the monkey away. I heaved a sigh of relief and tried not to think of what would have happened had the dog not appeared on the scene.
The walk along the ledge was the most exciting part of the trek. We seemed to walk in the clouds as we made our way to the furthest part of the Vinchu Kata point. We thanked S for insisting on coming to this point and not giving-in to our excuses.
We stopped for chai and kanda-bhaji before we began our walk downhill. The air was cooler than morning and clouds floated in the distance. We took a final stop that we had promised ourselves in the morning, at a waterfall and tried to speed up to make it in time for our local back.
Tired, sweaty and grimy we boarded the local and cheered each other for the wonderful time together. I silently chided myself for my earlier skepticism and wished for more of such times in the future.
I have but one regret – of making the exploration a mere physical activity rather than a studied tour. I hope I get better the next time on.

Lohagad fort - Trekkers climbing down


Friday, September 22, 2006


Fort of Murud-Janjeera - Maharashtra, India

When do you know its time to sail; when a distant shore beckons you?...when the sea is calm and the winds are smooth?....when you have moored at a harbor long enough?...or when there are omens around that say 'its-now-or-never'....

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


For her its just another day,
Lots of work and some play,
Big deal! the world moves on….
Come next is a lovely day,
Success shines and her world is gay,
Big deal! the world moves on….
Ow its followed by a tragic day,
Her world tumbles into shades of grey,
Big deal! the world moves on….
She grieves, she rejoices,
She stumbles, she rises.
And in the meanwhile, the world moves on….


It’s a rainy evening after a long day at work…
They get-together because they have been asked to….
Awkward silence follows the smiles and the small talk….
The party seems like a mundane chore….
The men slowly warm up after the drinks while the women weigh their options between the calories and the chips…..
Unconsciously they drift apart….
The men engage in shop talk while the women are engrossed in topics they feel are far better than shop-talk…
Dinner is served…. the men are unmindful….the women hurry and try to do justice by nibbling at it…
And so a party ends….
Truly men are from Mars and women are from Venus…

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Edited version of the original below. Courtesy Shyam

In this temple of God…some pray….for health…for wealth…for mental peace…some fool themselves by pretending to pray…..some decide to quit and just lie here…cursing fate or whatever…..while some heal each other by unloading their burdens off of each others shoulders……


A girl w/ a camera and wearing jeans is still a rare sight around there….kids giggle curiously and tag behind me…. some even ask my uncle who accompanies me if this is the girl they saw on TV! ;)….some who are shy watch silently from a distance, whispering something amongst each other…..but this kid is different…..he looks at me in the eye and is bold enough to ask questions…..


Visiting a place that was once home…now seems like meeting a stranger…..everything I knew; people, places… seem to have aged…....the new images fail to appease me and my eyes ache for the place in its past glory…….. a wave of sadness engulfs me, but all I can do is sigh……

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I wanted my cousin to pose for a couple of pictures, but somehow I was not able to get pictures the way I wanted. Suddenly Guddi came on the scene...she smiled shyly and stood there just the way I wanted w/ the right expressions....I hurriedly clicked some shots....and liked the way they turned out, esp. the B&W they are for you....Looking forward to your comments...

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Kumaoni kids....aren't they chweet? :)


Naini Lake - Nainitaal, India

View of Trishul peak - as seen from a temple, during a hike in Kausani, India

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Its a new day...

Presenting the first picture on my photo blog…tat-a-da…ta- ta- ta- ta- tat-a-da
This was taken during a recent trip to my native place; sunrise on a day in late January. I love the way the sky is aglow…Sunrise to me is synonymous with hope….
I hope that my snapshots continue to regale the viewers of this blog….

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I had imagined Haridwar and Rishikesh to be small towns with quaint ancient temples. On the contrary these are towns with booming economies. The temples far from ancient are colored in the brightest pinks and yellows. Sanyasi’s dressed in orange seem to be the majority followed by tourists, both from India and abroad. Spirituality is big business here. “Almost every house has a temple of its own”, they tell me.

Lakshman Jhula - Rishikesh

Ganga Aarti - Haridwar

Washing away sins in the Ganges?
There is no time for prayer and silent contemplation in the temples here. Many times you are whisked away, before you even get a good look at the idol. This is often the case in busy temples. In many others you are made to hear their familiar sales pitch asking for donations. And you’d think charity was optional. Apparently not! In fact, many times you are left wondering if you are in a temple or attending an auction…
I bet the Gods must have long fled these places in disgust…


It is late in the night when we arrive in Agra. Its been a long day for all of us; covering mere miles of hot terrain. All for the TAJ, we assure each other!
Grubby with rumpled clothes and hairdos, we look totally out of place as we check-in at the Taj View. All I want is a hot shower, but all that only after I take a good look at the TAJ. We’re excited to have gotten rooms that boast of the grand view. In the glum yellow of the streetlights, I spot the familiar outline at a distance, standing tall above a maze of mediocre roof tops.

View of the TAJ from hotel Taj View Agra

Dinner is a somber affair as news channels cover the story of Pramod Mahajan’s passing away. It is indeed ironic; watching the tragic news of unrequited love in a city that immortalizes that very emotion.
Post breakfast, we hail a rickshaw to take us to the TAJ. The sun is blazing and the heat is unbearable already. I expect a grand entrance to this monument that is often christened as the 8th wonder; instead our rickshaw makes its way through a maze of narrow roads and comes to halt at the entrance of a small alley. Small shops selling inlay work art items, miniature Tajs and other sundry stuff line the alley. I am disappointed with the façade. Couldn’t the tourism or whatever department deals with this be a little more creative?
As we buy our entry tickets, security personnel at the entrance inform us that we are to deposit food-items, drinks (water allowed) if any, even candy and chocolates! “This forces people to get out in a couple of hours, curbs hooliganism and littering”, they explain. We are told to walk past a security screen, which to me, appears like a rickety, unpolished wooden arch with some LEDs. Armed with a digital camera and a handicam we march ahead. One realizes the presence of the great monument only after stepping inside this entrance.

TAJ as seen from inside the premises

The premises are well maintained. I am glad I don’t spot any litter that seems to be common in any Indian tourist place. We are hailed by another security guard as we are about to walk past the last archway. We need to pay 50 bucks in order to take any footage. We do that with the understanding that we can take our handicam. We soon learn that we have misunderstood; the fee is so you can shoot the TAJ from that last archway. Handicams are banned beyond that archway. I find this silly, but we comply.

Artistic Arch - Inside TAJ premises
As we near the main marble structure I see people scuttling here and there. It is a funny sight; men and women of all ages and sizes running. It is not long before I realize why and curse myself for not bringing socks along. We admire the beautiful inlay work in the main dome structure and the architecture of the adjoining masjid. The murky Yamuna flows behind apparently reduced to a sewer. On our way out, we stop at the small museum that houses artifacts of the times of the Emperor.
TAJ Closeup

Masjid artwork

River Jamuna as seen from the TAJ
I am surprised that I am not swept off by this architectural wonder; perhaps it was the heat or the dismal entrance or simply the time of the day; I try to explain myself.
It is a full moon night and the sky is devoid of any artificial light. As I gaze upwards, the sky appears like a dark carpet studded with stars. The TAJ appears heavenly in the cool creamy light of the moon. A Santoor dhun fills the night air….
It is a crisp morning in early winter, the sun is yet to rise, but the sky has a rosy glow. It is quiet except for the azan coming from the masjid’s in the TAJ. A sense of tranquility descends upon me as I walk along the pathway that leads to the TAJ.....

Masjid inside the TAJ premises
Oh well; dream, that’s all I can do for now…
However, I do see a faint glimmer of hope. I happened to read a piece in the newspaper a couple of days ago. It talked about government's plans of acquiring the land around TAJ, beautifying the surroundings and organizing cultural concerts and light shows in the TAJ premises. I am keeping my fingers crossed…

Saturday, May 13, 2006


All my dreamy imaginations and assurances by my travel agent (about the cool climes) are shattered as our NON-AC bus takes us to Kausani from Nainital. Thankfully we see green all around, occasionally dotted by purples, yellows and bright reds of some flowering trees. Suddenly our bus comes to a halt and I see a long line of buses ahead. Apparently some road construction work is the cause of our stall. I get down to stretch my legs. There is a river trickling below (Unlike Himalayan rivers that are always gushing with water from the Himalayas.) and terraced farms, each a different hue of green. (I later learned that the elevations are drought-prone since all the water from the rainfall feeds the plains.)
The air suddenly grows cool as we start after this break. I go back to my day dreaming about Kausani. Kausani has been a fixation since I read about it in my Hindi textbook in school. I recollect the author describing the view of Himalayas from this little town and the Himalayan phenomenon of “Call of the mountain”.
Dark clouds dominate the evening sky when we arrive at our hotel (Hotel Jeetu). It seems that God is going to heed to everybody’s chants for cooler weather by sending some showers. This also means not being able to see the legendary sunset. I rush to my room and head towards the balcony; the backside of another hotel can be seen below and the usual pines and evergreens in the valley. I shift my gaze upwards towards the horizon and spot the ranges – NandaGhunti, Trishul, Panchachuli as I later learn their names. Excitedly, I call out to the others and point them to the ranges.

View of Himalayan peaks from our hotel balcony in Kausani, Uttaranchal
Hot chai arrives just as it begins to rain. Mesmerized we sip our chai and point out to each other as a new peak becomes visible from the cloak of clouds. A lone crow sits atop an evergreen, seemingly enjoying the showers and soaking in the view. It is interesting to even watch the clouds – a fluff on my right seems like an archer ready to shoot and the one on my left appears like the smiling face of a benevolent lady. A minute later the lady turns into a dragon spewing fire and the archer is no more, instead I make out 3 wild horses racing. An hour passes quickly cloud gazing and peak spotting. It stops raining and I decide to go for a short walk.

Sunrise - Kausani, Uttaranchal
We rise early (5:30ish) to catch the sunrise. The fireball slowly comes into view and illuminates the peaks one by one. The greys and blues of last evening are transformed into goldens and pinks. The air of mystique that surrounded the mountains last night is transformed into a serene sacredness by the rays of the morning sun. The sunrise is beautiful, yet, I prefer the view of the mountains of the past evening.
I hike up the hill in front of our hotel and collect pine cones on my way down. Post breakfast I take another short hike to a nearby temple. The peaks dominate the horizon everywhere I go. The hikes refresh me and am happy to have the opportunity to be in the midst of nature rather than just hop from one destination to the other.

Trishul peak as seen from Kausani, Uttaranchal
Soon it is time to say goodbye to Kausani. I take one last look at the peaks and make a silent promise to visit them soon.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Change, accepting change, dealing w/ change, etc. seem to be the buzzwords of our rapidly changing world. Many good books have been written about the same. To successfully survive the changes of time and tide, one needs to accept the fact that change is inevitable and having accepted that, brace oneself to make the best of these oncoming changes.
Azim Premji; successful businessman, founder of Wipro gave a presentation at IIM-A about “The Changing World”. He based this presentation on his own experiences and it can be summarized in the following 11 points. I happened to read this presentation in a Marathi newspaper. My summary is a loose translation of the same.
  • Be a good sensor - Know the signs of change and watch out for them.
  • Change is always lurking around the corner. Be proactive and try to prepare yourself for the same.
  • Change always brings along new opportunities. Look out for these.
  • Avoid getting into the comfort-zone of your routine.
  • It is natural to fear the insecurity that change brings w/ it. Use this fear positively, to plan for change.
  • Renew yourself constantly.
  • Be in the company of pro-change people Vs anti-change.
  • Play to win; give it your best shot.
  • Maintain your self-esteem.
  • Never forego your values and morals.
  • Being successful is far different and important than just living/existing. Your success not only positively affects you but also society at large.


Recently I happened to read “LIFE’S MYSTERIES – An Introduction to the Teachings of Osho”. Never before had I read or listened to the teachings of any spiritual guru – never felt like it. A family friend urged me to read the book, I agreed, partly to sate my curiosity that gossip about Oshoites and the Ashram had created.

It took me a while to finish the small book. Some of Osho’s thoughts made sense to me, some were beyond me, whereas some sort of made sense yet the traditional teachings of my mind did not allow for ready acceptance.

Osho says that all the religions of the world are anti-life and his arguments in this regard were convincing.

Here are my interpretations of some thoughts that I liked and would like to remember.

  • Touchstone to differentiate between the important from the unimportant – Anything that can be taken by death is unimportant and that cannot be taken by death is important.

  • Don’t be life negative, be life positive. Celebrate life – live life to the fullest.

  • Focus on rejoicing instead of renouncing. Focus on the present and live this moment to the fullest.

  • Don’t believe in anyone – find your own path and walk on it. Follow your inner voice. When you do so, you will be on the right path. You might stumble along the way, might commit mistakes, but that is alright. In the end all these efforts contribute towards your ultimate growth – no effort is wasted.

  • Each individual is unique and each individual life has a beauty in its uniqueness.

  • Life’s aim is life itself – more life, better life, higher life, but life always!

  • Man ordinarily functions out of the past, out of the knowledge that he has accumulated in the past and thus has standard, mechanical responses. But life is continuously changing. Right and wrong are not fixed entities. So avoid functioning through your past. Act out of awareness. Awareness means being in the present

  • Receptivity is the door to the divine; it is a state of no-mind, state of awareness. Being receptive means dropping all the garbage in your mind, like your past. If you can drop this then you become more open, more receptive.

  • A man of awareness does not react; he acts or responds. He is responsible. He is his own master and acts according to himself and not by anybody else. Osho gives a beautiful analogy of a mirror to the man who is aware and that of a photoplate to the person who reacts. The difference between a mirror and photoplate is that the former is dynamic whereas the latter is static. Life is dynamic and hence one should try to be a mirror instead of a photoplate.

  • Love can be dependent, independent or interdependent. In the 1st two cases it always brings misery and should not be termed as love but as an arrangement. The 3rd case brings happiness because it is when two people are in complete synchronism and this is true love.

  • To grow during our life is a choice that we have to make. Osho compares our existence to that of the seed. The seed has the potential to grow and flower, so also we have the potential to grow. The seed is very safe and secure whereas a flower is vulnerable and fragile. People prefer this security over growth and the insecurity associated w/ this process and hence many of us choose to live as seeds and just remain as potentialities.

  • Avoid nouns instead emphasize on verbs. So focus on living instead of life.

  • Nobody is born for the other. Nobody is born to fulfill your ideals of how a person should be.

  • You can give as much as you want, but cannot demand (love for ex.) from the other – nobody is your slave. You have control only on yourself.

  • Ego is something that you can feel but that which does not exist. Osho compares it w/ darkness which is nothing but absence of light. To drive away darkness you have to experiment w/ light. Similarly to be egoless you have to raise your level of consciousness.

  • Meditation is neither concentration nor contemplation. It is a state of no-thinking or no-mind. Simply put no-mind means that your mind becomes your servant.

  • Meditation is when our mind, body and soul are functioning together in rhythm. Any activity that achieves this can be meditation. So running, dancing, singing….all these can be meditations.

  • Everybody is born w/ the same potential. Differences arise because we do not use our potential to the same extent. Meditation can make you aware of your potential, can make the passage in which your potential can grow and can find its expression.

  • Ego is the root cause of fear in you.

  • Fear always exists – about security, safety. When surrounded by such fear, remember this- the only thing that is secure or certain in life is death. Being dead is the ultimate security. So if you want to live, grow then you have to take risks. Don’t be shackled by these exercises of the mind - remember you have nothing to lose. Stop postponement

  • Freedom and responsibility are the 2 sides of the same coin. If you want freedom you have to be responsible. Responsibility means that whatever you do it is your response. It is different than duty. When you act out of duty it becomes a burden whereas when you act out of responsibility there is no burden because it is your response.

  • The inner (soul) is as real as the outer (body, material aspects), both are equally significant. One has to attain a balance between the two.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Simbly Z(S)even

Alrighty………I have been tagged……..courtesy Kusum… here it goes…. :)

7 things to do before I die:

  1. Globe trot (….squeeze in road trips and backpacking trips….fly business class)… Okay, if not anything, at least take a trip to Kailash Mansarovar.
  2. Pamper my family crazy.
  3. Anger management, learn to be more tolerant.
  4. Start my own restaurant.
  5. Be a cool dancer.
  6. Stop swearing completely.
  7. Do my bit for old people and/or something related to Indian heritage.

7 things I can't do: (for now…except the last couple )

  1. Prepare Bhakri. (yumm….my favorite.)
  2. Write poetry.
  3. Think w/ my head instead of heart when required.
  4. Tinker w/ gadgets and stuff.
  5. Initiate and carry on a nerdy conversation.
  6. Swim.
  7. Be false.

7 things I always say:

  1. Tch….or Mtch….
  2. Whateverr!
  3. I’m hungry….
  4. I mean…
  5. Like Helloow…
  6. Cool….
  7. Anyhoo…..

7 books I have loved:

  1. Love Story
  2. The 7 spiritual laws of success
  3. The Monk who sold his Ferrari
  4. Time Machine
  5. A Cup of Comfort for Friends
  6. arab bhASheteel suras va chamatkaarik kathA
  7. badalata bhArat

7 things I get attracted to:

  1. Nature
  2. Rain
  3. Smells - Cologne/after shave, earth after the first rain, warm spicy food.
  4. Good vegetarian food.
  5. People - Creative, Funny, Good cooks, Philosophers, Achievers, people like me ;)

Sorry can’t think of more….

7 movies I love to watch over and over: (Well not over and over…’coz I am not a movie buff…..but I could modify this to movies I have enjoyed)

  1. Life is Beautiful
  2. Iqbal
  3. Dumb and Dumber
  4. Austin Powers
  5. Terminal

Sorry can’t think of more….

1 Person I am tagging


I think this post has been procrastinated enough. It all started a couple of months ago, when I mentioned a Marathi proverb to my Dad, that when literally translated means “I KNOW, but, I can’t DO”. Dad mentioned a book titled “The Knowing-Doing Gap” at the time and even got me a copy in the next few days. I was intrigued by the topic/title. For sometime then I had been thinking about things like “What motivates people?”, “Knowing-doing gaps in our personal and professional lives”, etc. I started reading the book to validate my analysis of why this knowing-doing gap exists. Although, the book was focused on knowing-doing gaps in organizations; the reason behind their existence and ways of overcoming the same, it made an interesting read. You should be able to find the book summary by googling the title and hence I will not mention that in this post. Instead I will focus my attention on my original thought; “Why do knowing-doing gaps exist in our personal and professional lives?”

Some sample KNOWs –

  • I KNOW I need to lose weight.
  • I KNOW I should not carry work home and vice-a-versa.
  • I KNOW I need to exercise regularly.
  • I KNOW I need to plan my finances and make the right investments.
  • I KNOW I need to improve on my listening.
  • I KNOW I need to learn that new technology that is hot in the job market currently.

Here are some factors that I have identified. I would love to hear your thoughts on the same.

  1. You KNOW because you are told.

I think that this is one of the most important factors. Do you truly believe that you need to DO or is an external entity directing you to DO? Unless one is convinced about the KNOW, DO cannot happen. For ex. You KNOW you need to lose weight, but that is because people say you should.

  1. Inertia/Who wants to leave the Comfort-Zone!

Many times the pleasure of being in one’s established comfort-zone is more alluring than the efforts involved in the DO.

  1. Fear

Fear of change during the DO. Previous failed attempts or negative information from external sources can also prevent us from DOING.

  1. Lack of motivation

  1. Analysis Paralysis

Does one devote time for self-analysis? Is the DOING Vs the KNOWING measured, tracked?

  1. Lack of momentum

Often times one starts off enthusiastically, but falls back at some point of time. I guess lack of measurement makes the failure difficult to be attributable to this lack of momentum or any other specific factors.

Anyhoo, I know I just surmounted one gap! (I KNOW I need to write a post on the knowing-doing gap.)

Monday, February 20, 2006


Although I had visualized this post to be a photo with an interesting tag, it is going to be much more than that.

Okay, so a little background about the pictures. The pictures frame a portion of the road that stretches through the Sant Tukaram Nagar (STN) (Pimpri, Pune) area and eventually intersects the Bombay-Pune highway. The stretch of this road from STN to Vallabh Nagar (VN) has been closed to traffic due to a road construction project that is underway. While I was driving through the area a few days ago, I happened to see a couple of motorcyclists get their bikes up the mounds of rubble. (The mounds were at least a foot higher when I saw them first.) I was slightly amused at the sight and casually said to myself, “Wow, this would make an interesting picture for my blog!” Thanks to the appreciation that some of my pictures had received, I, at the time was toying w/ the idea of starting a photo-blog. Things did not get further beyond the thought and I still have it on my “TO-DO (someday)” list. Uff, I digress!
Finally, yesterday evening, I managed to gather the nerve (you won’t believe it, but, I actually consulted a would-be lawyer before I set on my mission) and verve to grab my camera and head over to the site of my photo shoot. I parked my bike in a non-descript corner and slowly pulled out my camera. Summoning a confident look, I perched myself on my bike and took a couple of shots. The delay in my camera can be really frustrating, esp. when trying to frame a moving object. I noticed the amused, curious glances of passing school-kids and other pedestrians. I wanted to get a closer shot and so started walking closer to the scene. I noticed a group of men, looking curiously at me and my camera. I tried to ignore them and focus on getting the pictures. Suddenly two men from the group approached me, asking if I was from the press. I had anticipated these questions and had rehearsed my answers. I stammered a yes, continuing to take pictures, and silently lauded myself for my foresight. The two of them stay put while I was taking pictures and began talking once I was done.
Handing his card, one of the two introduced himself as the Vice-Chairman (VC) of the local Congress committee. Apparently he had organized a rasta-roko at the spot a few days ago. The news had featured in Sakal, a prominent Marathi daily; also some local cable channel gave the place some coverage on their channel. Mr. VC appeared concerned, albeit, I was unable to discern his true intentions.
I believe that the status quo definitely IS a matter of concern for the local residents of the area. Many a brave, including the cameramen of the local channel have fallen prey to these deceptive mounds of rubble. The construction project is not due to finish for at least another year. All the traffic (two-wheelers, four-wheelers, buses, trucks) headed for the highway has to take a detour via a narrow residential street. Students, esp. young children from the nearby D. Y. Patil campus are unaccustomed and oblivious to such heavy traffic in their backyard. Considering the duration of the project, I am not sure what steps could be taken to ensure public safety. Any ideas?
That was my two cents worth….So watch out people lest you are run over!