Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes- my current read!

























A childhood tale told by it's author Frank Mc Court is definitely making me laugh but I do not want to many a times because what follows after that humour is the bitter truth about his family's poverty and hardship.

But he's narrating it so very naturally.

I am still a long way in reading the story completely but couldn't resist writing these present thoughts. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I see a sparkle in their eyes when I enter their room.
A tiny room which can seat 20 children at the most. The adjacent rooms are not separated with a wall. Rather, they are divided in a way that would give an impression of office cubicles.
But it is not any office space that I am describing.
It is the school which I visit every Thursday precisely at 11 '0 clock and leave exactly at 12.
It is an underprivileged school and has been adopted by an NGO that goes mobile carrying storybooks to selected schools in Hyderabad.

That sparkle in their eyes tell me that they have been waiting for another Story Reading session.
Probably, this may be their one hour of complete enjoyment for the whole week.
The noise that surrounds the place (coming from all the adjacent classrooms) do not bother them nor me. Of course, this makes my task a little difficult. I 'shout'  the story rather than 'read' it for them:)
At the end of each story, they eagerly wait for the fun- filled worksheets or activities.
Their enthusiasm never fades.

I have worked in an International School earlier and I cannot remember a single child who showed this kind of earnestness in the classroom. I was never happy in that job even though I was paid.
But here, I am just a volunteer working without any incentives and I am 'happy'.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A year later…


Beware!!! It’s gonna be a long story!!!

It’s been exactly a year since I and S went on a journey to one of the most travelled land in India- Rajasthan. I can still feel the sticky sand that hugged our skin amidst the sand dunes of Sam, Jaisalmer. I would definitely love to go back to that land with few more destinations in my list but might want to undo some of the unusual experiences we have had during our stay there!
Ours holidays have always been ‘budget holidays’ considering the number of places that is there in our list. So “spend less on stay, food and travel as much as possible and travel to faraway places” is our policy. Of course food does have some exception as we ‘have’ to taste some of the authentic regional dishes. We could save a lot by choosing train journey instead of a flight to reach our present destination- Jaipur. Our plan was very simple- it consisted of Three J’s of Rajasthan: Jaipur- Jaisalmer – Jodhpur. Of course it would end with a short visit to Pushkar as our return journey was from Ajmer which was close to Pushkar.  

We allotted only a day to Jaipur as we had decided to visit this place again when we travel to Delhi. But all the while we knew one day was not enough to lay our eyes on such a city with so many marvelous structures in its credit. Nevertheless, we did manage to see most of the forts of Jaipur except of course the famous HawamahalL The moment we entered its premises, its doors were closed!
To travel to Jaisalmer, we again had to take a night train from Jaipur to Jaisalmer.
The first thought that hit us the moment we entered the crowded railway station of Jaipur that night was “was this station always so packed or is it so only today?” We moved in inches to reach our platform. As we reached our platform, our thoughts turned to fear looking at the gathered people ‘supposed’ to be travelling to Jaisalmer. ‘Unlucky’ as I might put it, we had only a sleeper class ticket with us for this journey and not an AC berth. This meant only one thing, the people wouldn’t even mind occupying ‘any’ seat and throwing us out from our own! The crowd did not look the type who would listen to someone if a situation I just explained arose. They were all (all of them) from rural places travelling to reach only ‘one’ destination- to attend a religious congregation. Apart from these there was one whole cadre of army men (mostly trainees) who thronged the platform within no time. Cuddling our baggage we patiently waited for the arrival of train. I and S even made plan as to how we could get into the train quickly and look for the seatsJ As the train approached and came to a halt, we pushed ourselves and got inside. There were people approaching from all directions. The only way, we thought, we could keep our seats to ourselves was to go to sleep as soon as possible. Having obtained both upper berth seats we decided to climb on and fall asleep (or pretend to do so). The immediate thought that stung my senses I climbed up was- “How am I to go to the washroom if I want to?” Because, it was not only the seats that were full but even the aisle was filled with people. I wouldn’t dare get down and walk through midst those people!

Lying there looking at the roof and the circling fan (the only source of ventilation), I couldn’t close my eyes. So many thoughts rushed in the mind. It was not just about how we got in the train or how stupid of us to have booked seats in a sleeper class rather than an AC berth. The feeling was more than that. It was almost like witnessing people from another world. Amid the popularity of Rajasthan for its heritage sites lay poverty, helplessness of people and the struggle they went through every day. Many of them (or almost all) did not have a ticket to travel. It was only a witness to their deplorable condition. The army jawans struggled to get seats and finally they decided to put themselves on ease in the aisle. They were not even provided reservations, it showed nothing but apathy.  

No longer had I closed my eyes with all these feelings than I woke up with jolt in the early hours of morning. It was because of the cry of a baby sleeping next to our seat. The baby was not even 6 months old probably, crying incessantly- as I could gather it was due to hunger. The mother lay next to her helpless along with her two more elder children. It was evident the mother did not feed her (the reason for which cannot be questioned I think) and the baby desperately sucked its thumb now and then just as an act of consoling itself. This continued for a long time until the train stopped at a station and the baby’s father bought a glass of tea. He dipped his finger in tea and dropped a few drops of it in baby’s mouth; just enough to wet the thirsty tongue of that tiny tot.

Luckily, they got down after a short while and the remaining crowd too. The whole train looked almost empty!!! Only after this, had I got down from the upper berth and sat next to a window- to see the coming of parched land of desert. It was almost 9.30 in the morning and I sat there without hunger trying to take in all that had happened the previous night. It meant only thing to me, all that people think of about Rajasthan is beautiful forts, loads of shopping, camping in desert and camel rides but this journey showed more than that. And in a way I felt good that I saw the other side of Rajasthan too.

The heat waves that hit my cheeks brought me back to the present and also to mine and S’s next destination- Jaisalmer. We had decided to spend almost 4 lazy days in Jaisalmer- no rushing and no running around. We explored the place quite lazily but later the blunder that we committed was to choose ‘sleep under the stars’ option for our desert safari. Being only two of us with having left our daughter back home with my parents, we thought the experience would be quite romantic. But as we discovered it, it was more for people who hadn’t had an experience of a village life (or like the foreign tourists who accompanied us who thoroughly liked the happenings). For us, who had already seen a village life before and had seen more stars on the darkest of nights, it was not extra-ordinary. Moreover, it was scary too without any source of lighting around us with beetles being our companions (and of course we couldn’t rule out the presence of scorpions too!)
We were mesmerized to see the Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur the next day. Among all the forts that we had seen, it was the most magnificent one! It was only a day’s stay in Jodhpur and from there we decided to travel to Pushkar in a regular state transport bus. As we booked our tickets, S was happy to see flat 30% discount on my ticket. It was the case with all the ladies who travelled in state transport bus.

Pushkar was a religious place or supposed to be so. Of course, the temple here (the only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma) is sacred but not the people who reside in it. It is over- inhabited by foreigners and immensely commercialized to the extent that people coming here seeking peace for their ancestors’ soul may forget their purpose. The sudden downpour and the subsequent result because of that rain (many roads blocked from water) was a witness how such religious places can be ill used. The scene was a reminder of Uttarakhand floods. It could easily be reasoned out how such religious places could be drowned to that extent. Nature was not at fault, it was all man-made.


Drenched in rain we somehow managed to reach Ajmer to start our journey back to Hyderabad.  Few good men really helped us to reach the station on time. The unceasing rain was like an epilogue to wrap up our travel experiences of The Desert Land.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Employed...

Yes, am working. All day.

I cook, I teach, I study.

Presently, I have take up some additional jobs... Volunteering for an NGO, acting as a spellchecker for S' s projects, reviewing a book written by a friend and just today I agreed to go as a judge to my daughter's school.

I am working. All day.

Only thing, I do not get paid!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A dry white season...

...Yes this is one movie I watched just yesterday and touched my heart immensely.
It rather reminded a great deal of the book To Kill a Mockingbird.

The story in this movie is about the rights for apartheid and is set in South Africa.
A teacher (a White) fighting for justice for his Black gardener, who gets killed in the hands of brutal White officers is the story around which the whole movie revolves.

Thanks to my dear daughter who let us watch the film after a long time!

Monday, July 14, 2014

How the wolves changed Yellowstone National Park


I read about the process of 'Trophic Cascade' for the first time in a Kannada daily very recently.
Trophic Cascade- a phenomenon which changed the flow of river and eventually the whole eco-system in the Yellowstone National Park, USA.
Detailed information about this phenomenon can be gone through here:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1669736/trophic-cascade

As I searched for more information on this process, I became more curious about it.
One can only marvel at how the entire ecological system can be balanced or imbalanced through Trophic Cascade.
It was just an introduction of wolves at the Yellowstone National Park- one can say.
But those wolves changed the course of a huge river in turn bringing back the balance of America's first national park which has world's largest collection of natural geysers.

With the re-introduction of wolves into this park, the population of deer came down who ate up almost all the vegetation of the park. Also, the deer started avoiding certain areas of the forest in the fear of being attacked by the wolves. This, in turn, regenerated the trees in just a few years.

With the re-generation of trees came a variety of birds. The wolves also killed the coyotes. This raised the population of rabbits and mice. Hawks' visits became more frequent as they wanted to hunt the rabbits and mice. Bear population too rose as there were more berries available because of the regeneration of shrubs.

But a major breakthrough arrived when they changed the course of a river flow. As the trees grew, the soil erosion came down which in turn formed more pools. The rivers started flowing in a set direction.

So, these wolves not only changed the eco-system of Yellowstone National Park but also the geography of the park.

Coincidentally, a very similar program was broadcasted in the Discovery channel wherein the animal species in the Canadian forests helped indirectly in the out growth of magnificent trees. Trees which would last for almost 500 years!

Major changes can be brought about in the eco- system with the introduction of such minor changes!
If only all these lessons could be learned by everyone in saving our entire ecology.

Friday, June 20, 2014

From my recent trip...

One can only get awed by the beauty of these almond coloured rocks.
Yes, am talking about the by gone Chalukyan capital city- Badami.
The magnificent cave temples, museum, fort and temples are all, of course, over shadowed by dirt and encroachment.
But the original beauty is still untouched.

Here are a few images...


The dancing Shiva (with nine arms on each side showing the poses of Bharatanatyam) in the first cave temple.





A unique God Vishnu carving who is seated instead of lying (which is the usual way of depicting Vishnu).






The carving depicting the story of Narakasura.






The Bhootanatha temples next to the lake.






Temples at Pattadakal.





Entrance of one of the temples at Pattadakal.





The famous Durgadevi temple at Aihole. The guides here compare these pillars to our present parliament house!

P.S. The photographs are from personal collection, using without permission is prohibited.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Current read...

I have just finished reading the third part of the Shiva trilogy. I was not very impressed but the climax of the story stirred me greatly. I never expected it to take such a turn or I would say I 'didn't' want the story to take such turn. Finally, because of the unexpected twist of tale I had to like the book and Amish's way of telling stories.

New Addiction


Sneak peak into my Instagram page...
Click the link below.



Instagram

Instagram

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Golconda fort

From my recent visit to my favourite fort...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Livelihood...

This is a picture which I took randomly at my native place (Sirsi, South Canara North Canara dist. in Karnataka) when I visited there last winter.
The scene would be rather similar in almost all the houses during the winter.
These are raw Arecaunuts (also called Beetelnut) which is grown extensively in those areas.
The processing requires immense hardship which starts exactly during the biting cold month of December.
Plucking the riped nuts, peeling the skin (which goes on till mid night), boiling it in low flame throughout the night (the container which is used for boiling can be seen the photo), colouring and ultimately drying these nuts in the sun till March end.
These are the peak months of the year where everyone is busy and all their hard work pays-off.
This post is a salute to all those who undergo all these hardships including my father.

Monday, March 17, 2014

"He thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cat who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident effort on teaching their fledglings to fly- yet man, whose tool of survival is the mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child's education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think.

From the first catch-phrases flung at a child to the last, it is like a series of shocks to freeze his motor, to undercut the power of his consciousness. "Don't ask so many questions, children should be seen and not heard"! "Don't argue, obey!" "Don't try to understand, believe!" "Don't rebel, adjust"! "Don't stand out, belong!" " Don't struggle, compromise"!"

Once again, from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

Friday, February 28, 2014

I lay still, staring at the ceiling, as the pain envelopes around my waist. Trying to relieve the pain I pay attention to the surrounding noises. The house is quiet with my incessant chatter box gone away for play. I try to close my eyes, but somewhere in the sub conscious mind I know that she is waiting for me. So am able to distinctly over hear the conversation of A through the window and her friend calling out for her. And I decide to get moving against the will of my body. Few minutes from now, then I will be again in the midst of pre-schoolers chattering to their hearts content.

Photography and camera


At last, I own a DSLR! I wasn't 100% excited when I actually held it in my hand.
One reason was that I didn't know much of the technicalities of a DSLR camera.
The other, now that I had a DSLR I was compelled to learn about it and couldn't let it sit idle.

I always used to eye on DSLRs whenever I was outdoors taking pictures.
Now, that I have one it doesn't give me much pleasure.
May be it's because I still have to learn a lot about it.
My earlier Sony point- and- shoot and Samsung phone have been greatest companions and still they are till I am completely comfortable with Nikon.

Of course, I would still continue to use my Sony because of its lens' zoom which is much lesser in Nikon.

At present, am completely into learning the 'tips and techniques' of DSLR and have found delight in using the App Instagram.
Am loving both:)))


Friday, February 14, 2014

Stories of childhood


I feel older when she insists me to recite stories of my childhood. This happens quite often now as our television has become obsolete. The stories of my school, of my play, of my mischief, of my visits to grandparents and my encounters with my numerous cousins...

And, as the stories unwind there follows inquiries such as 'why don't I have?' or 'why wasn't I there?'
It's difficult to explain how things have changed now: from how 'we' were to how 'they' are now.
It's changed from playing in gallis and fields and farms to just play areas or parks with a slide and swing.
It's changed from playing on streets to corridors or parks.

The mere act of 'cycling', for example, has reduced to 'riding within restricted vicinity'. On roads it's dangerous. I often get reminded of the cycle rides that took us from school to friends' house;from picnics to coaching classes. A bicycle was everybody's best friend then.

How I wish I could show her what a joy that would be!
At least she is lucky, in a sense that her grandparents stay in a village where she can still enjoy things in its true sense.