Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ek Saala Machchar

Had this not been for my blog I would have used such expletives for the “saala machchar” that the entire kaum would have gone and hidden in shame. Phew!! and they say bloody size matters. Well I disagree.
So let me start the way stories begin, Once upon a couple of months back around October end I just couldn’t get up. Not wake up (that is a daily struggle) but stand up what with pains in the joints I didn’t even know existed. I didn’t even realize I had got bitten by the bug ..till the reports tested positive for Chikungunya. Infact at that time I felt relieved trust me, because one over-cautious suggest a million tests Doc had suggested the onset of arthritis….well I felt I got away with the lesser of the evils.
My doc passed the verdict to “not expect any miracles for at least 6 weeks.” What she meant was the pains will not go away for a long time to come. And to pile up on the horror stories came tales of those who are still in pain after a year too. And since there is no treatment the relief is symptomatic popping of pain relievers when the pain strikes.
The skeletal system takes the hit. Knuckles, toe joints, hip bones, you name it and they creak and crunch. Hot fomentation helps to a little extent but the cold makes it worse. Since it’s a long term thing a friend suggested that I go in for either homeopathy or an ayurvedic treatment. Homeopathy has suited me and i am consulting a doc at Lajpat Bhawan in Delhi. There are days of no pain and there are creaky days. It takes time, but thankfully like everything else this too shall pass.
And last but not the least a message to all ye machars of the world—Beware you have taken punga with a loud mad Dilli ki scorpion Punjaban…..so here I come armed with a chappal and a racket bought off a traffic light. I will buzz you off…..to a macharful hell !!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Curious Case of Missing Pandit ji

An unforgettable could-have-been more fiery incident that happened during my wedding and how eventually it turned out to be All’s Well that Ends Well
The crazy mayhem that is a characteristic of any big fat Indian wedding, the arrangement of tens of thousands of things, and a dad from the Defence background obsessed with making detailed lists…still finds himself in a fiery situation where no amount of his equally sharp tongue could get him out of; only way out was the quick reaction and a bus ride in DTC.
Yes, this is a real incident that occurred some 15 years back on the night of my marriage; 14th February 1997. That was one day where half of Delhi was getting married and the other half busy attending them.
Cut to the scene of my wedding---the venue was decked up, solemn sounds of shehnais resounded in the air, a slight chill had set in and the baraat had arrived with the usual band bajaa. After the jaimala and other pre-wedding rituals the groom and I, the not-so-shy bride were having our dinner before moving down to the “vedi” where the wedding was to be solemnised amidst the vedic chantings.
Well so far so good, my parents stepped down to review the pooja samagri and started ticking off the items on the list when they suddenly realised that “Arre pandit ji ko kisne lana tha?” and Boom Thunder Lightening I am sure these were the sounds that would have played had this been a TV soap by the name of Meri Beti ki Vidai….
As soon as the situation was realised my brothers suited-booted in brand new attire were summoned and sent off to fetch Pandit ji from his home. They thought the misadventure was over but little did they think they were in the middle of another one. They left with the driver in a car and fetched pandit ji who was equally amused (as you are my friend!) and actually waiting for them. However the car on its way back got stuck at the “railway faatak” and anyone with a previous experience of having been stuck at such places know how harrowing it can be. Anyway the brothers along with pandit ji ran on foot and crossed the railway line and finally boarded an overcrowded DTC bus. Hanging on to their dear lives and new suits they finally managed to reach the venue just a couple of minutes before the groom came down for the rituals. phew! and guess what I was blissfully unaware of the drama and got to know about the “curious case of missing pandit ji” only much later.
Note: yes these were the times when mobile phones were rare and the cost of receiving a phone call was more than Rs 15…ya ya I am old !!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back to school

Ok so we are all on facebook but you know what facebook is a converstaion killer…I am addicted to it and have even put profile pics that say, “if I am not on facebook for two hours call the police” infact it should be 2 hours in my case…but what the heck liking pics, sending emoticons, and not even exercising those facial muscles while LOLing…phone calls have become rare and far and few in between among “friends”. So when Stuti called after ages it was sooo real..and the conversation flowed along with old memories and ended on the usual note of “lets meet” “lets plan” etc.
The calls continued; however a plan didn’t materialize.finally we decided to fix a date and just go for it…I decided to take it one level above and created an event on …ya you guessed it…on facebook. Few confirmations and many regrets came in but the will was strong and we decided to go ahead with it.  After all we were all meeting after 20 long years. Many posts and pokings later…eventually the D day dawned.
The moot question even on the 18th of dec 2011 (the day of the event) was “arre how many of us?” I thought on a really good side around 10 or 15 infact to be safe had booked a table for 10 at Pot Pourri. Was I wrong…Oh YES!!! so so wrong.
The first people to reach were Stuti and Vikram…yes this love story began in school…and they are 2 kids old now. When I reached I got a lovely warm welcome from the duo and Sid. After that friends started pouring in…..and the minute someone made an entry a game of “pehchaan kaun” took place….laughter and joy was ringing in the air and was loudest from our table…some people complained…but then who can tame a bunch of over grown school kids…not a complaint for sure!!
Another mini 5 minute love story happened between Prashant and Vikram…they couldn’t and didn’t leave each others hands for 5 full minutes…Coming up…Dostana Part 2.
The noise got louder and the surroundings boisterous..Namrata and Ritu made the entry with many ceetees and whistles looking as gorgeous as ever; both of them eternal heart breakers and show stealers. They sure set many a hearts aflutter even after 20 years….don’t trust me ask Prashant.
Neeraj was in town from Ireland on vacations and to give him due credit was one of the first to confirm.
Sandeep at 6’3 towered above all of us…had to step up on a chair to get a pic clicked with him Smile a couple of beers down I could have actually climbed over a table too…hahah..the volumes rose and so did the banter as drinks flowed…among all of this we tried a solemn introduce your life in 4 lines but well…the attempt flopped…it was too loud..everyone was talking and was anyone listening? well your guess is as drunk as mine.
Kapil Dewan, Kapil Gandhi, Gaurav Gupta, Rohit, Sudhir, Gianendar, Vanshdeep, Neeraj, Manoj, Lokesh, Mandy, Amit Malhotra, Rajeev were all there in full force. The reunion was a roaring success …it was bigger and better than what we had imagined. It was magical, meeting so many after such a long time. 373774_286890451357900_100001108423409_821943_1928151793_n
Cheers to the old times and new beginnings!! Cheers to all those who were in high spirits and those who were present “in spirit”
Hopefully next time will be sooner than 20 years and much bigger and better. Let the good times flow Smile
(by the way for more pics log on to where else BUT facebook)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Experiencing the laughing Buddha: His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Yes that’s his most endearing quality…his full throated laugh and great sense of humor. Have always been in awe of the Dalai Lama, so the first time when I had a glimpse of him at the Taj Palace I considered that as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Little did I know that I will two years later get this amazing opportunity of hearing him speak on “The Art of Happiness”. So when I read that Penguin India is hosting HH Dalai Lama for their annual lecture, I was super excited and in a blink had called them, facebooked them and hounded them for more info and passes to attend the event.
On 3rd December I along with my husband and a dear friend were all set to attend the event at the India Habitat Center. When I reached there I was taken by a big surprise cause there were many enthusiasts like me who had queued up and the serpentine queue didn’t seem to end. Securing my place in the queue I hoped that the number of passes given out  were equal to the number of seats..it didn’t look like it though. I was willing to even sit on the steps to hear him live…the option of sitting out and watching him on the screen was not appealing at all….so just had my toes and fingers all crossed. Fortunately got the place (on the steps x_x) so there we were; me, Raja and Nina in the balcony level on the steps right in front of the AC blast on a December afternoon. In hindsight it was all worth it. Another friend Sapnaa had to literally wrest her way in as she got in late ; fighting to attend Art of Happiness !! Winking smile
A hush descended when the Dalai Lama entered and everybody rose to welcome him. On stage Penguin CEO, Andrew Phillips welcomed him and invited him to take over. 393436_231253646945223_147853875285201_551677_280419545_nThe lecture was on the Art of Happiness…and was full of happy anecdotes, pearls of wisdom, life affirming laughter and the bright aura of His Holiness.
He began with a prelude to his life and his refugee status and said “I lost a small home Tibet and I got a large home India” the optimism and the calmness of acceptance radiated from him and all were listening with rapt admiration hanging on to each of his word. Infact many had notebooks with them to write and make notes of what he was saying. He talked about a time when he had fallen so ill that he became yellow all over…he says, “I became a living Buddha then not because of action but because of my illness”. The little nuggets of wisdom derived from a life well lived shone across.
After the lecture came the Q&A session with a rider “No political questions please”. However one lady began thus: why no political questions i  wonder if this is Penguin’s or HH request…..The reply by HH to this was witty to say the least. He said “I have retired from politics” and then with an equally straight face went on to say “if I want to answer a political query I do but if I don’t I just say I have retired!!'”
When the session ended, the area below the podium was thronged by many hoping to get blessed by the magical touch of his fingertips.IMG01044-20111203-1631 He very readily obliged and shook hands with many, blessed many and left an indelible impression of an experience that can not be verbalized.
It was a lovely December afternoon…it was an experience of a lifetime…it was just so awesome. Thanks Penguin. Thanks HH Dalai Lama. Thanks Again.
      Wisdom Nuggets
  • "If the situation can't be controlled, then simply don't worry about it."
  • “If the situation can be controlled, then just work towards controlling it.”
  • "Your mental or physical pain overshadows compassion. We need to practice self confidence"
  • "I base my teachings on 3 things - common experience, common sense and research findings."
  • "There are only two choices in life - Truth or Corruption. There is no third choice."
  • "Fear, anger and hatred is eating our human system."
  • "Happiness comes with a calm mind. No stress, no anxiety leads to happiness."

Note: Wisdom Nuggets have been taken from Penguin tweets:
as also the pics Smile

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ram's Ayutthaya in Thailand!


Anubha Kathuria Bellani, as published in ET
Whenever I thought of Thailand it either used to be a mouth-watering experience (what with the foodie in me loving all those spicy curries and seafood), or else a common shared joke among friends about those notoriously popular Thai massages. But when I got a chance to visit this land of Smiles, as is fondly called by the locals, with my globe-trotting husband I was pleasantly surprised. Frankly, I wasn't prepared for such a heady mix of cultural bonanza laced with a distinctively Indian flavour. Like, when you meet someone they greet you with folded hands just like our very own namastae. This gesture is called 'wai' and the hands shape like a closed lotus bud often offered to Lord Buddha as a symbol of purity.
Another striking similarity when visiting any place in Thailand is their adaptation of Valmiki's Ramayana. Basic story remaining the same that of Prince Rama and wife Sita, of victory of good over evil, it has been adapted to suit the Thais. 'Ramakian' pervades all forms of Thai artistic expressions. From murals on the palace walls to the dance-dramas and even as the most popular story line for puppeteering. However, when heard from the tour operators at the Hilton, where we were staying, about a city called Ayutthaya –Thai version of our very own Ayodhya – I was intrigued. That's when we decided to take a day's tour from Bangkok and opted to take the bus to Ayutthaya and return by the boat. We were told that the bus would leave at 6am sharp considering the notorious Bangkok traffic jams (all Thai VVIPs travel in their stretch limo's with motorcycles in tow so as not miss important deadlines!). Though it was a pain waking up at such an unearthly hour it was well worth it.
En route to Ayutthaya approximately 18km short of it, we halted at the Bang Pa popularly known as the Summer Palace. Originally built by King Prasat Thong who was the ruler between 1630 to 1655, this palace was used by later kings as a country residence. This Palace lay abandoned for nearly 80 years. However, during the early Bangkok period, King Rama V commanded several more buildings to be added in this compound. These include pavilions and halls constructed in Thai, Chinese and European architectural style. Modern in construction and though varied in style, they are resplendent with the liberal use of gold and colour. The national symbol, that of the garuda graces almost all buildings.
After the guided tour of the palace we proceeded to Ayutthaya. Located about 85km north of Bangkok, the city is also called Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. It has been the Thai capital from 1350 till 1767. And for these 417 years the kingdom of Ayutthaya was the dominant power in fertile region of the Menam or Chao Phraya Basin. The official year of its "founding" is 1350 by King Ramathibodi I. This island-city is situated at the confluence of three rivers, the Chao Phraya, the Pasak and the Lopuri.
The main attraction is the ruins of the Ancient Palace, which was built by King U Thong. Several building were added later including the Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Built in the 14th century and used by several kings, this temple held the same ceremonial function for the royalty as the Temple of Emerald Buddha in Bangkok nowadays. Some other notable buildings are Wihan Somdet Pavilion, Sanphet Prasat Pavilion,Chakkrawat Phaichayan, Pavilion, Banyan Ratnat Pavilion and the Tri Muk Building.

Walking underwater in Mauritius

as published in Economic Times
When I married the guy of my choice, everybody kept telling me I was walking on the clouds. But when that guy took me for our honeymoon, he made me walk under water, literally. Mauritius is one of the rare places on the globe where one can do this. Yes, we went to the honeymooner's paradise – Mauritius. Even before we touched down, the aerial view from my window seat was spectacular. Miles and miles of white sandy beaches and palm tops swaying to a universal rhythm. The sights, sounds and the smells put one immediately in the mood that dominates this little island – forever on a holiday!
The sparkling water with glinting beaches and coral reefs were awe-inspiring. Formed of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, the island has a central plateau, is dotted with mountains and criss-crossed by rivers. The coral reef is the third largest in the world and surrounds almost the entire island. These reefs create tranquil lagoons that protect it from the open seas making it a perfect spot for professional divers and first timers alike. Mauritius is balmy and warm round the year, which means whichever month you choose to visit you can swim, jet, snorkel, parasail or sunbathe. One can never really get bored with the limitless facilities for all kinds of water sports – water skiing, surfing, canoeing, water biking, banana boat rides and more.
Ours was an action-packed holiday in many ways than one. During the nine days that we were there, we took various small tours. A trip to Grand Bassin, a natural lake inside the crater of an extinct volcano, Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens with its huge signature Victoria Amazonica water lilies and the talipot palms, Chamarel or the seven earths popular for coloured dunes of volcanic ash in seven patterned colours, Cassela Bird Park and Ile aux cerf, a tiny island off the east coast. But the most unique experience was the underwater walk.
We decided to take a Captain Nemo's Underwater Walk programme. After getting picked up from our hotel Le Mauricia in Grand Baie, we were transported to the middle of the ocean by a motorboat, where we were welcomed by a group of divers who were our guides for the trip. Once mid-ocean we were hitched up in a launch from where we took the plunge down. Prior to which, we were given instructions and taught some basic sign language to be used underwater to indicate our level of comfort. They dressed us up in some really heavy metal belts that would help us keep under water when we were finally lowered on to the ocean floor with a box-like helmet. Oxygen is pumped from the boat so that we could breathe normally.
Once we hit the ocean bed and got acclimatised to our surroundings, it was a different world altogether. Schools of exotic tropical fish, perhaps wondering what aliens like us were doing in their domain, were all around us.
Spotting varied hues simply unimaginable to the human palette were an overwhelming number of fish. Fluorescent fish, zebra fish, and yet more fish. Phew! It sure was a fishy world down there.
Our guide handed us pieces of bread to hold and we were mobbed by more fish. I was scared for a moment and just let the bread go. Our guide, who might have been secretly enjoying our discomfort, even told us to hold hands and do a little jig of our own. It seemed as if we had walked quite a distance. But when we were pulled atop the surface, we were probably just within some 20 metre depth.
The next day, we took the glass-bottomed boat and were ferried to almost near the same place were we had dived a day ago. Sitting on the benches we watched through the glass bottomed boat and were thrilled at the thought of really being there. But just as an aside, when I spotted the water snake I was aghast, and wondered if I had been on the boat ride first, I would have probably chickened out of the walk!

shhhhh……is kilae main jinn hai…

Kotla firozshahkotla ferozshah
Delhi is a city of contradictions like no other. Home to many architecturally modern buildings it also houses monuments from across the centuries among its midst.  DSC05225Delhi has so many facets that though I have been living here for years it still is an enigma of sorts. so when I chanced upon an opportunity to discover the city of jinns, I jumped out of the bed at 6.30am….hangover of saturday night notwithstanding.
A couple of us met at the gates of Kotla Firozshah to explore the trail of genies and the lost city of firozabad built by Muhamad Tughlaq.DSC05176 (Aside:The first thing that always jolts me is the entrance fee to these breathtakingly awesome monuments…5 bucks…come on now charge more and maintain more.)DSC05173
This was my first visit here and I was amazed to realise that one has crossed this place so many times without really noticing it. another example of me living in a limbo.
On entering the fort the fragrance of many incense sticks, the tranquility around the area, and the greenery envelops you. DSC05189There are nooks and crannies, all around and in the fort where the faithful have tied threads, lit incense and offered pots of milk and kheer to appease the jinns living here. Some have pasted and tucked in their petitions praying for the fulfillment of their desires.DSC05239 Interestingly the petitions are in urdu, hindi and even english…like love faith transcends language.
A little gyan about our Sultan Tughlaq (1351-88)- he was a keen builder and is also merited with constructing 2 levels of Qutab Minar (the ones in marble) that were destroyed earlier by lightening. He mobilized the transfer of 2 Asokan pillars that are in Delhi. One pillar takes pride of place in this compound itself. By the way he was also the first Sultan to have started the jaziya tax on Hindu population.
Kotla Firozshah has 3 main structures Jami masjid, a baoli or a stepwell, and Asokan pillar. 
DSC05221The mosque is raised above ground level and on each side below is a colonnade giving access to the vaulted chambers, this is where most petitions for the jinns are stuck on the walls.

On moving out from here we came across the structure that is believed to be built to support the Asokan pillar from the 3rd cent BC . DSC05244There are milk pots around here too and the resident kittens smirk at you when you cross them.DSC05234 A rickety and small gate where you have to duck to enter proves a challenge to the generously endowed. This leads you up the stairs and to the base of the pillar. Now like everything else this one too has a story as to how this was transported here. Our sweet guide told us that the entire city of Ambala was involved in one way or the other with or without choice in bringing the pillar down and transporting it safely to Firozabad. The huge monolitih sandstone pillar inspires awe and is about 13 mtrs high. Some used to call it the Bheema’s stick too. Inscriptions on the pillar include the Devanagri and Brahmi script.
The circular baoli is not open to public but our guide had taken the requisite permissions and the chowkidar Daya Shankar ji of the handled moustache opened it for us. DSC05269The guide told us that permission is required now since this place has witnessed a couple of suicides too. DSC05265The steps leading to the baoli are very dark and when we all along with Daya Shankar ji reached the baoli,  prodded him on the existence of jinns…to which he passionately replied “arrey sir koi jinn nahi hota sirf deewar kaali pad jaati hai agarbatti se aur phir hum toh Hanuman Bhagat hain….bhoot pisach nikat nahi aave, mahavir jab naam sunawae.” This left the group in splits. However if you really do ponder yes the walls of this protected monument are turning all sooty black. There are many big fish in the baoli and when I was coming out I spotted too many bats …had I realized earlier I may not have stepped down. DSC05276
One can also spot many eagles circling this place DSC05233
as some jinns are fond of the non vegetarian stuff too. Jinns or no…the faithful or non believer…this place is beautiful and a must visit. Next time I may petition Winking smile

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Baker stole my coffee cup

I love my cup of coffee totally and absolutely black no sugar please. So when my when I grow up I wanna be a baker (this week it is this) son Arnaav chose to bake a coffee cake I was perplexed…I hadnt ever done it before. But well gave in to his pesterations (that’s a new mommy word) for the sake of some semblance of peace or was it a piece of coffee cake.
Well to give the chef her due we followed Nita Mehta’s recipes. I always find her recipes to be fool proof and easy to follow. So here goes the recipe and a step-by-step for my fellow drooling mums. It is a cake walk and a child of 9 can easily find his way around it with the help of a grown up obviously, since this one involves boiling coffee etc.
So slip into your aprons and have a go at this one.DSC05330
2cups flour (maida)
1 and half tsp baking powder
3 eggs yolks and whites separated ---Arnaav found this step really weird and not too appetizing Winking smile
1 cup butter (100 gm pack)
1 and 4th cups of sugar
2tbsps of coffee powder
2tbsp of rum (Mom is this cake ok for kids? hehe)
half tbsp of melon seeds (we didn’t have them so substituted with sunflower seeds by Tong Garden)
For Coffee Sauce you will need
1 tbsp coffee, one-fourth cup sugar, half cup water(mum u know water is made of hydrogen and oxygen), 1 tbsp butter ( I used only half), 1 tbsp cornflour dissolved in half cup water
OK so heres what to do with the arsenal now!
  1. mix sugar, coffee and water in a pan and heat till sugar dissolves. Keep aside to cool. add rum (optional).
  2. sieve flour with baking powderDSC05334
  3. beat egg whites till stiff and soft peaks are formedDSC05337
  4. beat butter and yolks till creamy
  5. add sugar-coffee syrup to butter and yolks mixture. add some seeds melon or sunflower. this is for the crunch.
  6. stir in sifted flour in 2 batches. mixDSC05340
  7. fold egg whites gently till well mixed. do this in 2 or 3 batches
  8. transfer to a greased and dusted tin. we used a loaf tin.
  9. bake in preheated oven at 180 deg for 40 minutes
  10. cool and transfer to a serving dish.DSC05346
Prepare the sauce by boiling half cup water with sugar, coffee and butter. simmer for a minute and then add in the dissolved cornflour paste and stir till it coats the spoon.DSC05348
Prick the cake all over with a fork and pour the sauce nicely over it and also let it flow down the sides too.DSC05352
Cut the cake with a suitably impressed dad and eat it too.DSC05354
By the way it was one of the most awesomest cake I have had.
Psst I see many cookery shows and not 1 chef says blah this hasn’t turned out nice Smile

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Canada’s Wonderland

Aayush, my kind Hilter type of a bro passed the diktat and announced that for our trip to Canada’s Wonderland all of us be out of the house at 8am. What 8?? That too on a Saturday morning after a night of well ....3 vodkas...acha so i lied ok 4. But when HE passes the rule all better follow. So there we were stretching and yawning literally at the crack of the dawn 7.30 am IS THE crack of dawn for moi. We started or well tried to start at 8.15. Tried? Yeah because the gear of the van got stuck!!!!!! And plan B was put into action after all the kids had given their invaluable suggestions as to how to start the van...
Plan B we took the car out and mum opted out L for lack of space and her peace of mind. Finally off we went. The day was wonderfully cloudy and cold too...Canada’s weather is worse than the proverbial Mumbai rains. When it was spring it was too hot, so hot that heat wave was declared officially; and since the onset of summer i haven’t seen a single warm day.
Reaching the destination i was shocked to see the place swarming with people and long queues at all the places...and i thought my bro was the only one with the crazies. When it was our turn to enter the place and our bags were frisked for security out came loads of food packages that we had packed for our imps. However to our charging and utmost stress this place was “no food policy” in a very very fine print, the security guy smirked. Barring some fruits for ids nothing allowed. Another jhatka.
And all this before the adventure in the Adventure land had begun. Anyway we picked up the maps, got the relevant height bands for the kids, and off we went. The first stop Bumper cars. And 1 sulk because the youngest one and by the way the most fearless of them all was not allowed due to height restrictions. Anyways...that through we went for the other rides in Kidzville.

After going through the Helicopter Chase a monorail ride, the Blast off, the Jumping jet, Golf cart rides, the kids were warmed up thoroughly and decided to take the roller coaster.
Arnaav was hesitant, Arkin expectant and Arnay just sooo dying to go. Arnaav observed that the roller coster went around twice and that what could be the speed and if it was safe and so on. Finally after fighting among themselves for the coveted last car in the coaster that was the Police car Arnaav and i sat in it.

Phew the coaster was actually fast and furious for kids. And after a whole lot of screaming themselves hoarse when we exited they were feeling like a bunch of courageous bunch of achievers.
Quickly came the lunch break and while i and Shilpi queued up for lunch for pizzas, chicken strips, and fries, Aayush minded the kids and took them for a ride literally. They went in for the Carrousel and big tea cups. Arnaav tried to but couldn’t back out because thankfully i wasn’t around to see them tantrums.
Post lunch we decided to check out the Spooky cave. After this me and Aayush decided enough is enough and decided to go for the real kill. THE BEHEMOTH. Shilpi poor thing wasn’t given a choice and took the kids to the water park. Nobel prize to her for putting up with 2 bullies like me and Aayush.Aerial Landscape Rendering
The queue at the Behemoth was sooooooooo long but so totally worth it. Whenever that thing used to start up for the round while we were waiting i would have multiple thoughts...Anyway when the turn came me and bro looked at each other (he had done it earlier too) he challenging and me cowering...but what the heck i can’t ever back out and so we sat and did i sit tight! Jai Mata Di and uske baad toh jo hua bus ho hi gaya... mind also didn’t get time to process...aawaz bhi nahi nikli....leave alone screaming...But man the view from the top when it was ascending was mind blowing but the descent heheh i cheated couldn’t keep both them eyes open...only 1 periodically. When it grated to a halt gosh thats when i let out a big sigh and a whoop!!! It was amazing. It was awesome. And it was a lifetime of memories.
Just to impress everyone here are some statistics:
The Behemoth is a total of 5400 feet long with the highest point of drop being 230 feet and the speed of first drop is 125km/hr (and after that u stop caring J ).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Don’t need wings…just want to walk

A good walk cures most problems. Want to lose weight and get fit? Walk. Want to enjoy life but spend less? Walk. Want to cure stress and clear your head? Walk. Want to meditate and live in the moment? Walk. Having trouble with a life or work problem? Walk, and your head gets clear.~Leo Babauta '38 Life Lessons I have learned in 38 years' Zen Habits
The things that we so take for granted may be the stuff dreams are made of for some. It all started one day with my mum’s maid’s faith in me….her son 7 year old can not walk and she asked me if i could help her with some information and that she and her husband have saved enough money to go even if it means out-of-town and get the treatment done. Treatment in this case she knew was an artificial leg. She had toiled enough and all she wanted to do now was to see her stand on his two feet literally. The poor child could go nowhere, was studying at home and worst of all could not even handle his daily chores.
My search began and the first place as always was to begin with the Internet search. Thank Google it has a lot of answers ! I stumbled upon this amazing information on a charitable run place called Bhagwan Mahavir Viklang Sahayta Samiti (http://www.jaipurfoot.org/) that makes Jaipur foot. i read through the site and called up the number and spoke to a doctor, who said all that was required to be done was to bring the child to the centre and they will take care of him. “How much money Dr” “Nothing it is absolutely free for the poor” My heart did a somersault and i called up the concerned mom with the news. They fixed the appointment and i a deal with my god, Oh God if these people get the foot without any issues i am going to donate a foot.
The mother came home teary eyed and all emotionally full, “gosh” i thought “maybe things haven’t gone right”. Thankfully i was so wrong, the lady was overwhelmed with emotion and chokingly told me that the child had got feet. Her miracle i could not believe it happened only in 2 visits. The first visit they took the measurements and the next the child was fixed with the limbs. And told that as the child will grow they can come back and get the limbs changed. Wow all of us hugged each other and i kept my promise to go and donate the foot. I looked around the place and spoke to some people who were present there…and i was hooked. Every new year i visit them and contribute my share. It does not cost me much-even less than a meal at the restaurant-but the pleasure and peace it gives me is priceless.
Here’s what they do. They have different sections that design artificial limbs, the ones required for polio patients are different than the one required for someone who has lost his limb in an accident. The polio foot is made and die cast in plastic. moulding the limb after treating it with high heat polio calipers

Whereas the other kind of limb is made of different materials. The foot and the ankle is made up of MRF rubber, molded into the shape of a foot and has around 4 joints, it is then baked and treated in a special machine for about an hour and a half and then joined to the limb. They also provide wheelchairs, tricycles and crutches. making of the foot dedicated workforce

There is a lot of info on their website, please visit and if you get inspired tithe over some amount and help give feet to someone. A cost of 1 foot is merely Rs2,000.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

To Mom….with love

Dear Mom,
Happy Mother’s Day and all the other days and years to come. Though moms are and should be celebrated each living day, for umpteen reasons like nurturing before birthing and giving us life and making us the persons that we are today and giving us a blissful childhood, and wiping our tears of infancy, teenage, adolescence, and even adulthood……the list is endless and so is my love.
I know mom at times you do feel that after finishing your masters and studying so hard all you have done is sit at home and do nothing else. Today i wish to tell you after having seen both sides of the career as well as momhood; you made an immense sacrifice, gave up the little luxuries of life so that we could be accommodated; well not accommodated we could be the centers of your life, you were the invisible force behind all of us; the rock of the family. Without all that thankless job that you toiled for we wouldn't have been what we are today.
I am in the same position and though doubts do arise the time and situation demands that i be the same like you had been; the spine of my family and trust me though at times might feel a twinge i know i wont regret it.
Thanks mom for everything you did and also for everything that you did not let us do. Today when i say to Arnaav “Parents will always try to do the best for you,” your words and my rebellion echoes in my mind. But well life is a teacher. I learnt and i am sure one day Arnaav will too.
Life does come a full circle…it sure does.
There is too much say and express but words are not enough…I love you...you are my best friend and my soul mate....keep smiling...and keep loving cause though i may have my faults you still are my best supporter, sounding board, advice giver all rolled in one big huggable and kissable package.
hapi mums day
Take care and love you loads

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Losing it in London

To say that the 5-day work trip to London was action packed and full of surprises is to say the least. The first surprise came in the form of a crashed computer system on the eve of the event. The grace came when we managed to salvage the situation, phew !! Murphy’s law in motion.
Anyways…post a successful and a rocking finale to the event; me and Rajesh decided we so wanted to go for a trip to the Windsor Castle and also to Stonehenge…and Sanjeev readily and willingly took charge. Since he was the one holding an international driving license he decided it will be economical and better if we rent a car with a GPS and get going. And thats what we did.
The “aunty on the GPS” as Sanjeev liked to call that shrill guiding voice on the GPS weirdly called Tom Tom started to guide us. Rajesh smirked and said, “cool now we don't have to use our brains, just go with the aunty.” Proved to be ominous later. The ride till Windsor Castle was smooth and on the way only got honked at for 4 times. Jeez and coming from the land of “Horn OK Please” we don't take no offence even if the Londoners were trying to give it to us. Parking the car and then paying the parking fee was a challenge too---what no parking wala bhaiya to who we could toss the keys---gosh we are spoilt. The machine chomped off 2 GBPs before we manually deposited the fee to the sweet lady sitting at the counter. Machines can make life as tough as it can make it easy. Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle was a beauty. Awe inspiring structure, the oldest living castle, abode of the Queen, landscaped lawns, now manicured moats, moat now well landscaped royally dressed to intimidate security and the never moving or blinking soldier (aside: what do they do if they get an itch to scratch or if a fly sits on their upturned noses…for this Sanjeev said “there are no makhis (flies) here Anubha” Ok boss, Yes sir whatever you say.  London ka jawan
Another kick was that they give an audio tour player free….yay atleast something in the land of “no free lunches” was free. Happily wearing those big fat ear phones that also protected them poor ears in the cold,windy and chilly weather we embarked on to the tour of the Windsor Castle. The trip inside was filled with oohs and wows, and then we came to the section where many treasures of different shapes and sizes were displayed; some were gifted to the State and others were taken…..well. The art of laying the table all at a studied angle cutlery included was a revelation. After strolling around and happily posing with the guards, the structure, the this and the that; we decided to move back to the car parking.
Destination Next: the StonehengeStonehenge --me and Rajesh highly anticipative and excited whereas Sanjeev thinking chalo kuch to acha hi hoga after all Rajesh and Anubha are soooo excited. So off we tried to go. Tried? Yeah…because just then the TomTom aunty decided to play truant and a lady the men couldn’t woo to wake up from the grave. Yes the TomTom died…..but well not our hopes. Rajesh pulled out all the Google maps and the road maps that we were armed with; in the meantime i kept trying to wake up the dead. The maps were not useful; by the time we used to figure out the turning we would have already missed it 2 miles ago…unfortunately there weren't any bhaiya jis on the highway to guide us.
Rajesh figured we will have to cross Ascot and Bracknell. We also figured our redemption will only be another TomTom that we must buy if we were to ever set eyes on Stonehenge. We stopped by the sleepy town of Ascot; passing by the royal racecourse and feeling great about it. The little shop by the gas station did not have the TomTom and we were left well…tomtoming about the idea of whether to go further or not…..Ok let’s go….so off we went and finally found an uncle ji near Bracknell, who guided us to a small mall where we could buy a GPS. After losing way a couple of more times and circling the town thrice we hit upon the mall…and bought one. phew!! the dreams of Stonehenge looked a little more real and a tad more closer.
I asked Rajesh what if we reach late and it is closed….well the optimist in him said “arrey bhai agar Qutab Minar band ho jaye to kya dikhti nahin hai.” Lets get going…Sanjeev punched in the required address and now the voice of aunty ji was nothing less than manna from heaven. A stop over for lunch- for the now famished us and growling tummies- later we finally left for yes the Stonehenge!
By this time Sanjeev had visions of grandeur, majestic, prehistoric monument. The rolling countryside, the green manicured farms, and hefty sheep with awesome fluffy fur grazing by them, lovely clean and crisp air…baa baa white one wow the countryside of London is definitely not overrated and very much what you envision of it.
Finally we reached Stonehenge….and while me and Rajesh exulted…..Sanjeev was like “what?!!!!??? is this it” he just could not get over the feeling that this is what we were trying to reach after thousands of hurdles and mini fiascos. And lo! it was closed…the charms on the security guard and the offer to pay more just did not work….another thing that works awfully well in my country :) Any way Sanjeev gamely posed for a couple of pics and clicked a few too. Though i could not shake the feeling of “is this it” off i dare not confess. And man was it cold…it was freezing…the wind chill factored in. After a couple of minutes we all snuck up in the warm and cozy car and having ticked off Stonehenge off the list went back to Wembley Plaza.
Besides Sanjeev having discovered the Stonehenge….on this discovery filled trip we discovered the totally superb countryside, Ascot’s royal racecourse …and the art of losing and then finding it all only with the TomTom.
The Tomtom was dead. Long live the Tomtom !

Friday, February 18, 2011

Glimpses from the Jaya Utsav at IGNCA, Delhi

I say glimpses cause of 2 reasons, one being that the event is exhaustive in nature, explores varied mediums and is set across cultures and rituals unified only by its theme that of the epic Mahabharata. One visit is not enough since every day has something new to offer in terms of performances, ritual demonstrations and theatrical and literary programs.
The 2nd reason, though frivolous, being that the battery of my camera died down on me at the wrong time :(
I got fascinated by the theme and though i do not profess to know it as good as the Ramayana, one has grown up hearing about it and also being fed on the BR Chopra’s iconic televised series. Actually my son knows more of Mahabharata for his deep interest in the epic and also mythology.
The journey of the stories of Mahabharata has been traced to the sage Vyasa who composed the story in about 8800 stanzas and called it Jaya. Jaya Utsav brings together multiple traditions from all across the country on a single platform. Some of the performances appear for the 1st time in public domain outside of their ritual context.
When i reached the venue in the evening, the place looked a bit deserted and disappointment almost set in, just then i heard the drums and loud music coming from the lawns where a crowd had gathered.
DSC01932 On joining the many audiences i saw Pandav Leela being enacted. This particular rendition was by the local folks of Uttarakhand and local bard was singing in the Garhwali dialects. The thumping music and the dance lifted my spirits and though there were verses i could not understand clearly the jist was not lost. The Pandavas are worshipped in the western Uttarakhand area specially during the Pandav leela. DSC01941 During the Leela some of the vyoohs like the chakravyooh and kamal vyooh are popular theatrical performances. 7chakravyooh

After a while i went to the Maati Ghar were i was greeted by a range of paintings and arts and in various styles as also across mediums. 15 madhubani painting The Madhubanis, patachitras, kalibari style and even pop art with Mahabharata theme were a visual delight. The exhibition provides a glimpse through photographs, maps, dioramas, paintings, calendar prints, ethnographic objects and installations too. Personally i was overwhelmed seeing such beautiful art.
Inside the maati ghar, a room with the arrowbeds has been created and the lighting effect is amazing.DSC01954 DSC01951
Walking out the food court is aptly been renamed as Bhim ki Rasoi, the wafting aromas are irresistible and i gave in by chomping down a plate of alu tikkis;my ever favorite. Post this i wandered across to the Haat selling various hand crafted wares like the patachitra paintings, Gond art, madhubani paintings, leather puppets and dolls depicting various scened from the Mahabharata. The artists were forthcoming and the one from the patachitra painting stall showed me how they etched the figure on palm leaf and then paint over it. the paintings ranged from various the 10 avataras of Vishnu to different forms of Ganesha and even various etchigs from the animal world. 14 gond painting
In an entirety the experience was artistically uplifting and better than expected. Would love to go back with a fully charged battery of my camera and to watch some more performances.
The event is on till 10th and the entry and parking is free and ample. If you live in Delhi don’t miss it.