Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Summer Sum Up Of Times Past

How much ever we crib about the scorching heat of the sultry summer days, the hot crisp air some times strikes a beaming smile on your face as you remember those school time summer holidays. There was so much life that brought me close to nature. I did not grow up with android, WiFi, or IOS but had trees. Today it is the other way round. 

And the summers of  times past, school days,
were absolute blissful vacation of gala ways.
Pranks on the prowl, jumping rope, swinging high, unending fun,
skinning knees, skipping fast, reading books, with WiFi none!

Those haunting escapades onto the streets,
tree climbing event with buddies were treats.
Shouting our lungs out, whip our hair and dance,
playing pranks on passers-by, leaving no chance.

Flower hours,  were my choicest few,
rejoicing the summer bloom galore each day new.
Neatly aligned rows of May Flower trees, shining with the sun,
were our air conditioners for the day in the open.

The placid  and alluring Champa I chose for my hair,
while Jasmine stayed on with its aroma diffused in the air.
Parijatak, untruly the tree of sorrows, was a favourite of mine,
bushy shrub by the gate, fragrant and so divine.

And then there were times, creeping down to kitchen store and peep,
in dark corners, steal granny's pickle bottles from shelves high and deep.
Pinching some of her jarred green mangoes, meant a ritual of the feast,
the huge green pickle jars were targets of life! simple at least.

And again, flicking granny's  "Vicco Turmeric", to look like a queen
tiptoe to her high window shelf, stealthily waiting to preen.
Reaching out to the yellow tube, randomly smack the skin with a layer,
and smile onto that silver framed small wall mirror.

Wearing those  sleeveless floral frocks, laundered neat and clean,
Amma paddled away on her brown "Singer" sewing machine.
The special material that it was made  from, the "Only Vimal "  
fresh and soft for summers, that was our brand to feel royal!

Quenching down the thirst with  Rasna drink,

that Amma readied and filled the fridge with, in colours yellow-green and pink.
Gulping down liters of it, and hold serious debates,
on colour of your tongue with friends, was madly cute.

Summing up those times, going down memory lane,
of spirit in heart, spring on our feet, and barefooted run!
Summers though were times, boundless, to chill
Hot rays of sun and waves of the sea, polishing moments to heart's fill.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My Travel Tryst With The Growing And Roaring Gujarat

"The earth has a music , but, for those who listen" - William Shakespeare.

The masth masth dancer, Raveena Tondon duplicate I found In Jamnagar rains

Why I chose to write a travelogue after long period is, my travel tryst with the "hamara Gujarat"(the term so dear to our Modiji) that is undoubtedly lauded for it's economic success as a model state in our country.  I was left wondering, why did I not be here earlier or spend more time than a week? 

Travels for me have mostly been beautiful holidays with my family, right from my childhood till today. I have numerous insights I gleaned while traveling the length and breadth of the country.  And so, in July  2013 , I landed in the hometown of our current beloved Prime Minister, the "Hamara Gujarat". I hardly had a week's time to accomplish a multitude of things. Spend time with relatives, visit popular temples, also explore the land of Mahatma Gandhi and the  amazing secrets of the "Growing Gujarat, the roaring Gujarat".

Landing in Ahmedabad city known as the Manchester of India (because of rapid industrialization) itself was thrilling. My mind had already visualized the dhoklas, khakras, the garba and dandia raas, hand stitched cotton/handloom bandhani sarees, and much more. The city that boasts of a terrific mixture of the old charm and also the modern amenities. I did encounter a few interesting incidents during my stay in the state, that are just appropriate to share herewith.

As is a practice for most of us, we got busy, trying to strike some tit-bit conversations with the driver en route the airport to the hotel. He took pride in explaining about the massive infrastructure development that was the dream accomplishment of "our Modiji"! I was bitten by jealousy every time the driver mentioned "apne CM Modiji". 
@Sabarmathi Ashram-Residence of M.K.Gandhi

It was not just about that. The driver had even found an opportunity to taunt me "yeh aapka Bangalore nahee hai madam, aaram se jaavo bina darke". That
 was how the driver managed to convince me about the safety practiced in this state when I had felt insecure leaving my belonging in the car as we entered an highway side restaurant.  With a bang on comparison. Phew! But, we have to agree, Gujarat was a state safe from theft. To correct myself, safest state. Also, safe for women. I could see pregnant woman come out alone onto streets at 9 PM to have some street foods like the "chaats" or for a quick walk.

Yet another incident that even multiplied my love for the state was the friendly and caring people we encountered. We happened to experience a wrecked car on the highway and had to pass time around in the fields at wee hours of midnight that too with two children with us. As the car was getting fixed we were  keeping our eyes and ears open for any mischief making stalkers or any prowling big beast. But the most unexpected and overwhelming thing happened. Every other passer by , be it a car or a two wheeler would stop, talk to us, offer any help, water or food. This generous gesture, I challenge would hardly be offered in any other state of India. 

The beauty of the state were the windmills dotting the stretch across the highways. The serene yet lonesome unending sea lines roaring some loud lonely music were hit upon the turning blades of the wind turbines. What an excellent technological beauty. 

Round the clock supply of water and electricity was something that I was envious about again, especially hailing from Karnataka that is almost popular for power cuts. Also the schools and colleges there have a well preserved culture, no "donations" and regulated affordable fee structure. All together, a place an "aam aadmi aka common man in India" can dream to live in.

My stay was based in the Jamnagar District. In the serene campus of Gujarat Ayurveda University.  Yes, we did travel to the places around, but the Jamnagar quarters itself was a heavenly abode for nature's best form. The rains just decorated the flora like a bride in full green with magnificent fauna, mostly colourful birds, giving the right melodious touch. Nature is best cure for the mind and what more could we ask for. The best rain dance was not by our Raveena Tondon after all. All these days I was a fan of "tip tip barsa paani", and am sure we all have our favourites. But the splendour of the peacock dance, yes, the literal dance, just left me jaw dropped with awe. Indeed a unique experience. 

Never give up! Hold on.

That's how this green lady enjoyed rains

ehem, this perhaps was the parrot dance on the rope, in the rain

The wait was on. For the right moment, right partner and a photographer!

When the mornee bagaa ma naache song was proved false, see next,
Because, it was the mor not the mornee that danced

Glamorous, as long as it does not open its mouth!

Blue crowned, prided plumes

Perched high on tree.

And it was never a tiring tour. In spite  of every long day we were seen jumping out of our rooms each morning like fully charged "Energized Dura Cell bunnies".  The hamara Gujarat did have a magical spell. Throughout our  touring around the state, we hardly rested our back to the car seat. I could see the enthusiasm in each of us. My little girl made little notes for herself. We were overwhelmed by the science and technology well put to use especially after the observing the simple methodologies like dams and water sprinkler irrigation system.

True to the famous quote, "collect memories not material", we gathered some of our best, from the nature that no souvenir could make up as a memoir. A few words and a few pictures are just an attempt to get you close to the reality and the thrilling journey we experienced. 

A travelogue is always an incomplete diary....

More can be expected from my Gujarat diaries soon. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Gift I Chose For My Mom

Painting done by my daughter


She has in her, the entire me,
so what can I gift her in my life?
but by being a mother myself.

Attempt a reflection of her essence,
look upon her a role model,
epitome of motherhood.

She has that doll I slept with as a baby,
and  those pieces of papers,
of master piece graffiti done with my little hands.

Her store still keeps my old rusted cycle,
that I once rode and shopped for her,
odd supplies from neighbourhood stores.

She has the school uniform that,
I wore to my first day of school,
on that rainy morning of 1980's.

Even now, her memory retains,
my childhood friends and our pranks,
my chatters and tall tales and mimics.

Those medals and trophies,
I won shine in her shelf ,
that's her pride and  she dusts them daily.

Her collection of antique is,
 priceless bunch of stuff,
kajol stick, comb and paraphernalia from my teens.

Why is it so? that, we chose one special day,
to  thank our mother!
I fail to understand.

Dedicate few hours of a year, call it her day,
plant a kiss, gift a rose and a lovely card,
Is that enough? I fail to understand.

I have a life with me,
not enough to make that card,
bigger than lessons she gave me.

I have a life with me,
but is it enough to relieve with one hug,
her long journey of hardships?

I have a life with me,
not enough to fetch that flower for her,
to outshine the fragrance of her love on me.

She's taken the pain, for me to live this day,
so what can I gift her in my life?
but by being a mother myself.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Doha's Winter Sonata

When we talk of winter all we want is how cold is the weather or how chilly is the wind. This is true for the rest of the world, but for the gulf residents! Indeed. It is a different saga here in Gulf region in the period called winter. Yes, we experience the bone-chilling cold, and added to it witness episodes of some extremely erratic dust storms,  and some unpredictable  down pour. 

 Doha's winter sonata comes in a package of take one get two free.
PC- Jidhu Jose
Entire Qatar went gaga over the temperature dropping each day this winter. All the residents walked proudly with chest widened to 56". Guess why? It was quite an experience after a decade to see a temperature recorded less than 10 degree Celsius in this sand land. We residents in Qatar love wrapping ourselves in full clothes and cover our head with scarfs even in summer, to save our skin from scorching heat. But every winter we simply wait to say "too cold man, too cold ".

The cold desert went hot in excitement.

I was reminded of my Bangalore days. Even on a coldest morning at 5AM, with teeth chattering, I had the audacity to walk tall with only a cotton salwar suit and wrap my head with the "dupatta". Wrap myself in wool? No way! I was a proud manipalite( I hail from Manipal) and we do not buy or wear wool or leather jackets in our life unless it is a visit to Kashmir or to London.

Indeed, it is true that the winter has it's own charm. Now, we Qatar residents, most times, give ourselves a Switzerland feel, by just uttering "wow it's getting colder today". The meteorological department had it's own announcement and we had our own agenda for the "too cold man" season.
If you figure our the number of cars and headlights behind the fog, don't tell me. I have no clue too.

Fog formed cold morning view from the doorstep of my villa

Social media flooded with super duper photography of fog shot from different heights and angles. My girl gave a superb comment " The sun is lost in Qatar. If anybody finds it please DO NOT return". And the viral humour and memes! Especially where people said "Dear Rajanikanth please close the door of your refrigerator, it's too cold here, even here...".  But Doha had to request Rajanikanth not to close the doors though. Hell yeah. We literally shivered to tingling spine, yet wanted the change from the parched summer. And some even told "dear temperature bohoth gir chuke ho aur kitna giroge?"

At once all the malls and boutiques flooded with winter clothing in all colours, sizes, shapes, from different parts of the world. Nah, we do not buy "made in china". We went to expensive boutiques to find winter attire, matching beanie and those boots that our legs never heard of.

Barbecue! That was once the party galore and roosters wildest fear, now turned into our fire place for the surprise guest called winter. On every barbecue fire we would conduct the oath taking ceremony before we start decorated stand with multicoloured marinated roosters or veggies.

Now, the Doha winters are not just all about fog, chill and beanie.  Yes. For us the bonus "double dhamaka" is one free with another. The most awaited cloudbursts. We would almost be satisfied with some good drizzle too. Most parts of gulf sees good rain and few states see the solid form too. Oh!  Snowing in the gelf too.  

As for Doha we had enough windy rains to clog few roads, to blow a few roofs off and for us to term it "torrential downpour in the gulf". 

My girls waits to wander in the rains with colourful umbrella gifted by her beloved grandparents 
While my little fella found tranquil peace, standing in attention and watching the rain drops trickling down his foot, or the little ants washed away in flood

Who does not like rains? The earthy scent after a sky shower, smell of freshly bathed leaves in rains. Trust me, in summers, I satisfy ourselves by sprinkling tap water through hose, in the porch of our villa, and enjoy the feel of a imaginary rain.

Now, we are aware of erratic storms in winter, in different parts of the hill but one will dread the dust storms of the Arab land. And who would prefer a dust storm while we crave for the winds of the winter? Imagine a few hours and you feel a siliceous layer all over you and your lips taste of some forms of carbonate or rock salt. The worst is when you have to tidy up an entire house and car decked up with a coating of fine red sand. 

Dust clad  front exteriors of my residence.

However, after more than a decade's stay in Qatar, I have found solace in what is gifted to us on platter by mother nature. We have found a home away from sweet home after seeking the bread and butter. Be it the heat or cold, sand or dust, we have curbed our crave for winters too.  
With PC
Whenever the whether hits to it's extreme, we just pat our chest, breathe full and say "all is well, all is well" , take the best of what nature has offered us and say aloud "NEXT ".

Monday, May 01, 2017

Exploring Beyond The Skyscrapers. Largest Flower Garden Of The World - Miracle Garden Dubai.

Call Phoolon ki Rani or Phoolan Devi

"The Dubai" that mesmerizes any tourist, sure has reached great heights in creating records one after other. After the  mega tall sky scraper Burj Khalifa now the "Tallest Vertical Flower Garden".  Yes. 

If all we heard about Dubai was, the haunting sky scrapers; never ending extensive  roads; the sand dunes; camels; shawarma falafels and hummus; and the beaches, then definitely we have missed the winter bloom. This breathtaking Flower Garden called "piece of eden" was announced as largest vertical flower garden by the Guinness Book of records. 

 It stuns you more as it is a challenging mega mission created in the land of sand. It is not a easy task maintaining an area of 75,000sqm with 4 km pathways, 1km height flower walls, and over 50 million flowers for a few months off summer. But Dubai has it all. 

It was thrilling to say am going to Dubai to witness the winter bloom.

Is this some fairyland or a dreamland!

Upturned car as fountain amidst floral display

The floral flight of Dubai

Marvelous symmetry 

A few pictures are still the least to describe the beauty of the flower beds. I was absolutely overwhelmed in awe by the petunia beds. If colourful heaven meant this then I wished to be the lost butterfly with a long life. An unimaginable maintenance in the gulf region. Surprisingly one would not exhaust wandering in these green plot!

A Few Key Notes:-
  • The Miracle Garden is open only in winter, or to be precise is closed in the peak summer.
  • There is a web site where you need to get the information about the opening time and hours. http://www.dubaimiraclegarden.com/
  • There are plenty of food stalls inside the garden and also ample seating arrangements around the main gate.
  • Children will not get too bored again as there are enough stuff including toys on sale which will keep them occupied.
  • Glow garden and butterfly garden are other spots worth seeing.
  • There is constant announcement in the loud speakers regarding the public transport facilities to and fro from garden to city. 
  • Very well co-ordinated security on stroll inside and ample car parking space in the exterior.