Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This and That: A new life and a little bit of the old

So today I just sort of perambulated into by blog. Thought I would just  write a few updates about what’s up in my insignificant life. I am back home after spending a semester in Mumbai for my Masters. And since the very day I was back I have been driving my mother nuts. My mum got a mini heart attack on seeing my luggage.

“You just got 5 set of clothes for your holidays?” She looked at me incredulously.

“Ya”, I grinned broadly.

“And what do u suppose young lady you are going to wear during Durga puja?”

I shrugged merrily.

And she took me shopping the same day. I think her ulterior motive was that she didn’t want me looking shabby in front of the bong babes. I am not complaining.

The next day during lunch. I suddenly said, “Hey mum, I was thinking I will try beef next semester”

“You do that and no Hindu boy will marry you”, she said wagging her finger at me.

“Then I shan’t marry a Hindu boy then”, I teased grinning broadly.

“Do what you wish”, she sniffed.

     Also back home there was a surprise waiting for me. This mongrel which has made our area its home had had wonderful furry and plump looking pups. I had a nice time petting them and chasing them around and occasionally shooing them away from the road because I remember being heartbroken the last time she had pups and one of them got run over by a car on that road.

Speaking of which, in my college there is a pampered cat of whom I have become rather fond. This cat whom I have christened Marx rules the college canteen. One day it climbed up the table on which I was having my breakfast. It took a royal walk as it surveyed the occupants, stopped in front of me, sized me up, then majestically descended on my lap, made itself comfortable by curling itself up and took a nap. I sort of bloated up, looked around smugly for being the chosen one and gently stroked its fur and it purred contently. Since that day Marx and I are friends.

        There is also a dog of questionable breed in my campus. It resembles a Labrador a lot  but I am sure it’s not. It’s probably the progeny of some posh dog living in nearby bungalows gone astray. This one I call Mao. Mao is a sweetheart. It’s a very affable and playful little thing.

        Now I am thoroughly confused which pet I should get for myself. I went through a guinea pig phase, I had even gone to a pet shop and selected one for myself. A white one with a brown patch around its eye and some brown spots on his body. My mum said she will let me get it on the condition that I take full responsibility for it. I was more than willing but I read in an article on web that they poop a lot and I soon got dissuaded. Then I went through rabbit phase, but we don’t have a garden and a rabbit needs lots of space to move around. Then I went through a dog phase, but the trouble is I like pups, big dogs with large sharp pointy teeth and ferocious growl scare me. Now presently I am in the cat phase. I am planning for a fur-ball type of ginger cat.

       Oh did I mention the street which I take to go to college, I frequently encounter these two little girls in tattered frocks who grin when I come along and let me know that I am looking good that day by shouting out mischievously from across the road “Mast lag rahi ho!!” . I wave and say a big thank you and carry on smiling to myself and feeling immensely nice about myself.

       And did I mention I am becoming increasingly fond of Mumbai? So much to explore, in this gigantic city.   After staying in Mumbai for around six months it amuses me when I think of when I was growing up in Jamshedpur, if somebody invited us for a birthday party to their place which was around say 15-20 minutes away from our place, we would whine that it’s too far away we won’t be able to make it.  

        One of my favorite places in Mumbai is the Haji Ali Dargah. I have been there thrice till now and came back every time feeling at peace with myself. Today I read they have put a ridiculous ban not allowing women inside the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah. I might just as well go to Siddhivinayak this time and whisper into the mouse’s ear to knock some sense into these dargah’s trustees.

     I don’t really know how to end this post. And I realize my thoughts haven’t been very coherent. I have jumped from one incident to another. Ah well. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy For Ever

This post is going to be different than my other posts, it’s going to be serious-y :O
Have you ever seen something and been completely awed by it? Completely mesmerized? Felt like when you laid eyes upon it entire being was fixated for a moment then and there?
No no I am not talking about love at first sight (silly concept that is anyway :-/ )
Click on the pic to enlarge
This happens to me when I come across a thing of beauty specially some paintings have this effect on me. The first time it happened was when I was surfing the internet and I came across a paintings collection. I have always wanted to own a beautiful painting , so sometimes I like looking at them on the internet.  I am no art connoisseur mind you, nor do I know much about the various art forms, though a Facebook picture I found the other day very nicely sums it up. :P (Refer to pic attached). My interest in paintings is that of a dilettante.  

Effect Of Butterfly
So anyway, while surfing a gallery, a Ukrainian artist
Anastasyia Markovich caught my eye. Her paintings can be best classified as surreal. I was going through her work when I came across her painting called Effect of Butterfly. This painting left me completely awestruck. The painting has such a liberating effect , as if it is calling out to you to spread your wings, to set yourself free. The girl in the painting taking a slight leap in the air, with her arms outstretched, her windswept hair, her skirt flowing seems to beckon one to break away from metaphorical shackles. The Butterfly with its wings flapping, to me, it seems to signify , a charmed life waiting out there to be discovered once the shackles have been broken. Juxtaposing the girl and the butterfly seems to suggest a metamorphosis of the girl into a carefree butterfly. When I saw this painting for the first time all I wanted to do is reach out and gently touch the real painting, to feel the play of colors in the butterfly’s wings .

Artist Unknown :(
Then recently I came across another painting. I saw it in an album of a friend on Facebook. I do not know who made it. The artist seems to be a student from her college. Unfortunately the painting isn’t signed (All upcoming artist, learn this golden rule, always sign your work! ). I think I am drawn to paintings with bluish tinge.  Markovich’s  painting had it too and so does this one. This painting depicts a woman with her back exposed, having a sharp nose with her hair neatly in   a bun.Tthe way she has elegantly and delicately held her cigarette seems to exude confidence. This one to me seems to portray a self assured woman. A women used to living life on her own terms. This image is stuck in my mind. It happens to be my mobile wallpaper now as well, the previous wallpaper was the Effect of the Butterfly. 

One of the entries in my bucket list is to visit the Louvre in France., National Gallery , London and St Peter’s Basilica Rome. But I hope I don’t get too overwhelmed like many Japanese tourists do when they visit places steeped in art and culture :P That brings me to the Stendhal syndrome. I had read it somewhere in connection to a lot of art in one place.

Stendhal syndrome, or Florence syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world. (Lifted from Wiki :D)

I have a cousin who is a super talented artist. I have asked her to gift me a painting on my birthday. Yes I  shamelessly ask for birthday gifts :D My mother was a fabulous artist too. Her paintings are hung in my grandparent’s house, my house and almost in all her relatives house. However she has lost touch now, she can’t even draw cat or flower properly now  :-/ And her talent seemed to have skipped my generation. I can’t paint at all :-/  I can sketch cartoons to some extent though :P

Can’t think of a conclusion for this post so Ok thanks bye :D

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mumbai tour in two days :D

I was in Mumbai this week with my father for three days for an academic purpose. It was my father’s first and my second visit to Mumbai. I had been to Mumbai earlier as a part of excursion trip during my 11th Std. During my trips I like to maximize my time and visit as many places as possible, mostly of historical importance.

So after getting done with the academic task at hand I had an evening and three quarters of the next day at hand for Mumbai Sightseeing. My Mumbai friend had told me the best way to travel in the city is by local train, but I was a bit apprehensive regarding this because whichever documentary or travelogue I had seen on Mumbai on Lifestyle channels always showed people hanging from everywhere in the local trains and a lot of shoving and pushing going on. As I am pretty clumsy  I was sure that I would be run over in a stampede if I took the trains.

Pic taken from the Ferry
However it turned out, I was living very far away from the places I wanted to visit and Mumbai is a humongous city. So I fearfully travelled to the nearest station to board the train to CST. It was around 3 at noon and imagine my shock when I found it to be sparsely crowded and  I actually got a seat :O and happily travelled the distance to CST seated and watching one shanty after another pass by :-|  

So first stop  after getting down at CST was the Gateway of India.  I remembered the first time I was there in 2007, I had already read about the history of the Taj Mahal Place hotel and how it was a gift to the city of Bombay by J.N Tata and wonderful stories about Taj. The Taj along with the Gateway makes a beautiful panoramic view. I had planned a ferry ride to the Elephanta Caves from the gateway, but turned out that the last ferry for the day had already left. Hard luck :-( .

Anyway to make up for that I took a ferry ride around the Apollo Bunder (Bunder is port not monkey you sillies!!) . It turned out to be an amazing experience, cool gusts of wind playing with your  hair. To enjoy the experience further I went and stood on one end edge of the steamer boat and got an absolutely wonderful view from there. I Gazed in awe at the Gateway and the Taj as we left the port and tried to steady myself against the strong breeze, as it threatened to blow me away :D. In all a wonderful experience.

The next stop was Chowpatty through a taxi drive through Marine Drive. The beach side was rather dirty. :-/ and I was awfully hungry as well. There were wonderful snacks kiosks but there was sand blowing everywhere, I was afraid sand would get in the food and the food won’t be hygienic, but my stomach continued to growl and wagged its impatient finger at me and I decided to screw hygiene and indulge in some pav bhaji. It was mouthwatering!

I wanted to sit at the beach and watch the sunset. However my papa, who was with me, blatantly refused to sit at the dirty beach. See now you know where I get my genes!  But I was adamant; I sat down anyway and gazed into the horizon. But the sun refused to set no matter how much I gazed. It sets so late in Mumbai, Mumbai being in the west :-/ So I decided to leave. Anyway my papa was tapping his foot impatiently wanting to leave. He then suggested a walk through marine drive, so I feigned tiredness.  Last time I was there, I had only come across couple’s cooching cooing all over the length and breadth of marine drive so wanted to be spared this time. :-/

Then off we went to Colaba Causeway. My friend had suggested that’s a good place to shop because as she put it you get a lot of “pretty, pretty girl stuff “ there :D. She was right! However taking your father shopping or rather any boy is the worst idea ever :-/ Boys I tell you :-/ They hurry you along, have patience the size of a teaspoon, and call everything not worth it, so the shopping experience wasn’t that great. Though the merchandise on display was rather nice :D Will shop some other time in future maybe. I am optimistic like that :D

On my floor in the IIPS hostel. These three kittens would come
and sit infront of a  door, every night. Arent they adorable?:D
I am slowly beginning to feel I am a cat person!:O they are small and cute.
Big dogs scare me :-(
Then I  went to catch a local at CST To begin my journey back to Govandi where I was staying at the IIPS(International institute of Population Sciences) . It was around 7 , there was like a massive sea of people at the station. And I finally got to see the real face of the Mumbai local trains, the kind they show in documentaries and shuddered inwardly.

The next day I planned a trip to SiddhiVinayak. Oh did I mention I finally changed my phone , I got myself a Samsung Galaxy Y. A rather nice phone it is. I used the netpack in it for the first time in Mumbai and was surprised by the efficiency of the GPS and Google maps feature. Makes travelling rather simple! I planned my entire trip on that likeaboss :D . I even sat and gave taxi driver, who was at a loss as to where IIPS is, directions from it.  It gives you everything from which bus number to catch and from where, all step by step directions, I was rather impressed. Those of you who have been using Android phones since ages please don’t roll your eyes at my gushing, let me make my own little discoveries and enjoy the pleasant surprises life and technology  throws up.

I reached Siddhivinayak and had expected to find a huge snake like queue there. But surprise surprise the queue was really short! :O I didn’t get pushed or shoved and prayed fervently and peacefully as well. The sanctum where the idol is kept is really beautiful and has beautiful chandelier which reflects light from the gold plated sanctum. On the right of the sanctum there are four idols of mice (Ganesha ji’s Vahana). I saw people going to it as well and what seemed like then kissing Mouse ji’s ears :O. I went to take a closer look at this ritual and found that people were actually bending down and whispering in Mouse’ji’s ears,  then out of the blue I faintly recalled having read or heard somewhere that one is supposed to whisper their wishes in Mouse ji’s ears and he would carry it to Ganeshji. I stood there for a minute or so observing how the ritual is supposed to be done. I noticed that while whispering in one ear , people were covering the other ear of the mice. I tried to put two and two together and concluded Mouse ji is like us human beings in this aspect and in order to ensure that what mouse ji hears from one ear doesn’t go out of the other, we need to cover the other ear (so that mouse ji doesn’t ek kaan se sun ke durse kaan se nikal denge :D ). I whispered my wishes in Mouse ji’s ears for at least 5-6 minutes. I had a huge wish list for lots of people you see. I am greedy like that. I have to say this is one of the cutest ritual I have come across in any sacred site :D.

Pic is not that nice :-/ couldnt make out what
I was capturing on the LCD coz the sun
 was too bright .
My next stop was Nehru Science Centre as it was in a nearby area. The architecture of the building is magnificent and the sprawling lawn in its front very scenic. There is a huge permanent Discovery of India Exhibition at the Science Centre. It is a must visit for any history lover. Its tracks everything from India’ freedom struggle, to birth of some of the greatest religions in India, to sacred sites, development of art, rise and fall of great civilizations. The unique aspect of the exhibition is that it leaves the journey of the discovery up to you. You choose your own journey of discovery of India based on your interests. I happen to like history and those of you who were thinking of muttering how boring can go drown in Worli Seaface :-/ . Oh history lovers can go to Prince of Wales museum too. Unfortunately I didn’t get time. Though I have had  a quick tour of it during my first visit to Mumbai. 

Here is a better pic of the 
science centre, 
Thank you Google. :D
Next stop was Atria Mall. It happened to be walking distance from the Science centre, and I had read that the mall offers a wonderful view of the Worli seaface. At the security check at the entrance, the guard lady who checked my bag saw a hibiscus and marigold flower I had taken from Siddhivinayak and had kept it in my bag in between books, she sought of touched it and did a Pranam to it. She looked at me , her eyes went to the vermillion tikka I had put on my forehead at SiddhiVinayak and she asked me : AAp Siddhivinayak gaye the? . I flashed a broad grin and nodded. :D Felt really nice to see people so attached to their God. 
Their shoes collection made me drool
and their prices made me cry

Atria turned out to be a very expensive mall with mostly luxury brands. I found myself staring through glass panels like a slumdog kid at Rolls Royce and Audi Cars, Ducati Bikes. I drooled at the wonderful heels and wedges at the ALDO showroom. Priced at around a measly Rs. 5000-12000 :-|. And what was supposed to be a panoramic view of the Worli Seaface turned out to be just a sandwiched glimpse of it from in-between  two huge buildings infront of the mall. :-| 

That’s it for my two day sightseeing in Mumbai. Coming from a small town, the hustle and bustle of this huge city was quite new to me. I just didn’t get why people own private vehicles here, everything is so far :O . It not like you can go to CST from Worli in your car :O Or can you? Will have to ask Mumbai friends :P . It’s a huge city. But very well connected via buses and trains.  I would definitely like to come back for a visit :D

P.S: The pics are from my mobile camera so they aren’t that nice. Plus the sun was shining with all its might and the LCD screen was reflecting sunlight, I couldn’t even make out what I was clicking, just went by estimation. :-|