Monday, July 31, 2017

You Never Get Bored If You Know To Enjoy Your Surroundings!

It was 2 AM.  Jhansi railway station.  We were changing trains on our way to Khajuraho.  Came here straight from Chennai.  Had to wait at the station to catch the train to Khajuraho.  It was drizzling quite heavily.  Cold.  We didn't get  any place to even sit down.  All the seats around columns were full:) At 2 in the morning, tea biscuit shop was making brisk business.  And this small restaurant was open.  Customers were trickling....But we were interested in watching the dogs at its doorsteps.  Very understanding dogs.  They never disturbed anyone.  They just slept on a doormat peacefully.  As soon as a customer went inside the hotel, they got alerted.  Immediately they will get up and wait near the entrance! Once the customer filled his stomach and left, the waiter cleaned the plate of crumbs near the doorstep! These two dogs rushed to eat them.  Again, waiting.  Sometimes they were getting a bit more food.  They never allowed any 'beggars' near the door of the hotel! Otherwise harmless!

Some more pictures from the station!

This one was roaming here and there all the time.  I saw one man catching its urine too! Holy water!
Gau moothra (cow's urine) was holier in the olden days because they grazed on grass and herbs.  Nowadays, they have to live on plastic and fast foods.  Hmmm...

The chaaiwaala was doing good, gharam gharam chaai, biscuits, samosa, kachoris! Interesting!


Monday, July 10, 2017

U Turn ... A Thriller Movie in Kannada To Remember For A Long Time, Which Is Unusual!

A well-made Kannada movie, U Turn!
I like the way the letters are shown here! This is the story of people who try to use short cut by moving the divider slabs on a highway bridge and leave them outside the line, which might lead to accidents!

The movie starts with the leading lady, Rachana (played by newcomer Shraddha Srinath) who is an intern journalist with a daily, The Indian Express noticing a two wheeler driver removing the divider slab on the double road bridge (the story takes place in Bangalore), to take a short cut U-turn and save few mts. more of driving down, leaving the slabs haphazardly in the middle of the road.  She replaces them back and notices that an old man jotting down the vehicle number in a piece of paper.  She comes to know that he had the habit of jotting down numbers who disobeyed the rules. She collects all the numbers he had and returns to her office and discusses this issue with her colleague and asks him if any accidents had happened on the bridge at the spot where the slabs were moved from the divider line.  He promises her to check.  She thinks that this will make a good article for the newspaper. 

The director shows an incident in the beginning, how independent Rachana is and how she is eager to do something good in her career.  It was fun moment to watch the scene!

Through right contacts, she gets the address of the motorist via the license plate number.  She visits his place and rings the bell but nobody opens the door.  When she was entering her apartment complex later, a police man comes and inquires about her name and asks her if she went to the address (the motorist's) before coming home.  She says yes and was taken  to the police station.  The inspector starts questioning her rudely since the motorist Rachana visited had committed suicide on the same day she visited him. She explains her side of the story but the senior police officer rejects it but the sub-inspector who was there, believes her story.  He explains to the senior officer who states that so many murders were taking place and notices that all the numbers in her list were the numbers of the people who committed suicide on the same day they did the u-turn on the bridge....the story develops from here.

I and my husband watched this movie 3 days back and are still discussing about it and am compelled to review it now so that people who want to watch good movies can watch this! Well, very few question marks crop up after the end of the movie but still, the way the movie was made is interesting!

And this is a 'no song' movie! No love triangle too! Just a bit of attraction between Rachana and her colleague, that too, it was shown very decently and the police also are shown decently, which is rare!

The same director of this movie, Pawan Kumar, had directed the well acclaimed movie, 'Lucia' (his first movie!).  Both the movies, Lucia and U-turn were crowd funded and both were well received!

Now, to the trailer of the movie:

I came across an interview with the director of this movie.  Some of my questions which arose in my mind after watching the movie, are answered by him here!

Shraddha Srinath, who acted as Rachana, has acted very well here.  She is a lawyer, theatre artiste and now an actor! She got 'The Best Actress' Filmfare award for acting in this movie!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Tribute To Our Yoga Teachers On The International Yoga Day!

We met our Guruji for the first time, the lady with the white dupatta! We admire her a lot!

I had been doing yoga for many years now! But only for the past 4 years, I do it very regularly, thanks to the teachers from the above yogashram.

The International Yoga Day was celebrated last Sunday itself by our centre, since this day, 21st June, is falling on a working day, Wednesday.   They had been celebrating for many years now.  But we, 6 of us who learn yoga at our complex itself (the teacher comes and takes 4 classes a week for 9 of us ladies on our terrace!) joined this celebration for the first time.  Our class is for an hour.  We usually do one set of Suryanamaskara, i.e. 12 nos., on 2 week days' evenings and 2 sets mostly on 2 days' (week ends) mornings since the weather will be cool in the mornings. When the teacher coaxed us to join the celebration and pushed us to do more sets, i.e. 4-5 sets for the past 10 days, we found it very difficult to do....or so we thought! Still we never dreamt of doing 108 suryanamaskaras and 208 aasanaas, AT A STRETCH! But we did! She, the teacher, had assured us that it would not be difficult since we do it with so many people around us!

Nearly 300 odd people, mostly women and some men, joined at the venue (Rani Meyyammai Higher Secondary School, Adyar) at 5.30 on the morning of 18th June, '17.  I noticed that more than 20% of them were above 50 years of age, myself included! More than 50% of us opted for doing both Suryanamaskara and aasanaas and the rest joined for doing just the aasanaas.  We were given token nos. and asked to sit at the allotted places on two floors of the school auditorium.  Though we were given juices and water bottles, we were asked to sip only water till the programme was over.

The programme started with our usual prayer.  On the way to the venue we were discussing about how much we might do and it didn't cross 6-7 sets! Our teacher Rathi Madam started the mantras and all of us started bending stretching, a bit  slower pace than we usually do at our classes.  A 70 year old lady was doing easily in front of me! Some small children also were there...they were too fast and were waiting for us to finish! And all of us ladies from our complex, finished without taking any break! After shanthi aasanaa for 2 mts., we started doing aasanaas.  Till, nearly 100 aasanas we were fast and did without feeling tired.  Then we started looking at each other discussing if we should stop at 108! But we somehow finished 208 aasanaas!

Our ages were 64 (me!), 61, 56 and so on...we could do it at our age was because of the good teachers we had.  They never pushed us but coaxed us to do difficult aasanaas slowly.  If they taught tough aasanas one day, next class was with easy aasanas like spine relaxation, extra breathing exercise etc.  The 208 aasanaas we did after the main suryanamaskaara, have helped us to recover from the body pain fast later on.  All of us had thigh and back pain for a day or two.  We are back to normal on the third day and attended our usual class.

My friend saw a maami wearing brahmin type of sari and doing the namaskaaras.  She was very comfortable, it seems.

We hope to continue as long as we can!  I had written a post earlier too about yoga here!

Now, to some pictures from the Yoga celebrations:

Getting ready!

They gave us a prize too for being regulars in the class! We got medals for doing Suryanamaskara and asanaas, separately....altogether 2 medals each and a cup! We will display it in our complex and lure more ladies to join our class! IT IS GOOD!

Our namaskaarams to all our teachers!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wordless Wednesday!



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Overwhelming Taj, Beautiful Baby Taj And The Majestic Bibi Ka Maqbara...Tombs Of The Mughal Era - II

View from the Mehtab Garden which is behind the Taj! All 4 sides of the Taj are identical!
This monument is such a huge one, famous one and everybody knows everything about it! So whatever I write will be a repeat! So, I will stick to only some which fascinated me very much. You can read and comment in the I part here!

The guide, Mr. Rizwan who did his graduation in History and was undergoing training to become a full-fledged guide, told us many interesting things.  One was that all the surrounding structures like minarets were built a bit slanting outward from the Taj so that if earthquake or some disaster came, they will not fall on the main structure!

One more interesting anecdote was...actually I noticed when I went there early in the morning...small small rings on the main dome.  Then asked the guide later when I visited again, who said that they were locking slabs with the rings.  So the dome will never fall down on the whole at the same time.  It will be easier to repair too if they come off in parts.  I had seen this system at the Pattadha Kallu temples in Karnataka, 7th/8th century, in a bit different way though...saw iron rings joining the stones.  The Taj is from 17th century.  The architect was from Iran! Fascinating! Have a look at the rings on the dome of the Taj:

Notice the small small rings connecting the slabs! The dome is 240 ft. high! We can see the beautiful design here too, lotus on the top and coloured designs at the bottom! False roofing is there inside the dome with beautiful designs on top and the sides!
As I told you in my earlier post about the Taj here, this structure is full of precious gems brought from all over the world. This link has more details. Many precious gems were stolen in the later years, British?.  Now, they are replaced with semi precious gems. The guide showed us how to check the really precious gems inside the mausoleum.  It was dark and cool inside but the crowd was too much.  Still, the man showed it like this. Non precious gems didn't glow! This is the reason the structure glows during the full moon day. The gems when light is shone, glitters brightly.

Mosque on the side of the Taj Mahal...Similar building on the other side of the Taj is Mehmaankhana(guest house)
The guide said that the Mehmaankhana was built first like a model for the main building.  Then it was decorated...looks beautiful.  Later on the masons/labourers stayed here while building the main structure.  These people needed a mosque to pray.  So, the other building was built in the similar fashion.  The colour red on both sides of the white Taj, accentuates the beauty of the Taj. 

Cleaning the walls of the Taj work was going on when we went there.  The guide said that what our Indian women use for facial is used here too, i.e. multaani mitti and herbs.  Multaani mitti (mud) is got from Multan, Rajasthan.  This link says:
The sticky brown mixture is smeared on the smut-stained marble surfaces of the 17th- century Mogul tomb and washed off with warm water after 24 hours.
The formula - based on a method discovered in a 16th- century Mogul journal, Ain-I-Akbary - has proved to have such restorative qualities that it is now being exported to Italy to clean grimy monuments there.
Archaeologists at India's most popular tourist site found to their astonishment that the substance, known as multani mitti, drew black and yellow impurities from the Taj Mahal's marble and left its surface gleaming white for the first time in decades.
K. K. Muhammed, the head of the Agra branch of the Archaeological Survey of India, who is in charge of combating the effects of pollution on the Taj Mahal, said tests had shown that the substance restored the marble to its former sheen.

Cleaning work is going on!
Cleaned area...

Click on the picture and look at the beautiful designs!
More designs can be seen in the wiki link!

We were here on 18th March '17.  We came here from Bharatpur bird sanctuary.  A bomb blast was there at the Agra station.  So, checking was stricter than usual.  The crowd was too much. Ticket cost was Rs.40 for us and Rs.1,000 for foreigners! People were asked to remove their shoes too for checking.  School children struggled! My tablet pouch with eye drops and alpenliebe chocolates were thrown into a drum! It was not there when we came back, but at least the security officer apologized:) We stood in the queue at about 5.30 and went inside around 6.45.  Taj view during sunrise was gone! We were made to walk barefoot from the platform of the Taj.  Feet were burning because it was a very hot day! Touts were roaming asking people to engage them as guides promising that they would take us to the grave area (which is open only for a particular period in an year!).  We gave our guide Rizwan, Rs.300.  He was quite good, but was asking us to buy sarees and other handicrafts in a particular store.  He told us frankly that he would get 5% commission! Well, it was a hectic but interesting day and next day I lost my mobile with many many pictures of the designs on the walls of the Taj and the Baby Taj! Lost the main gate photo also but an even better darwaaza photo of the Baby Taj is here:

Picture courtesy: Daniel Villafruela.
This was a memorable trip! If my readers know more interesting anecdotes of the Taj can post in the comment section...I would be very happy!

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