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About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

[Skywatch Friday] Buddhism within the Theosophical Society


 It was one of those things in my list of things to do in Chennai. So when a Photowalk was being planned, I added my name to the list even thought the last date had gone by. Luckily, I got in and it was one memorable walk. 

Whilst inside, we discovered this Buddha temple with a beautiful lotus pond near a large tree. When I questioned the presence of a Buddha temple here, I discovered this was the 2nd one in Chennai [ I have visited the 1st one in Kenneth Lane, Egmore earlier].

Apparently, plans for the Buddhist Temple happened in 1883, the construction began under the guidance of Shri. Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa (1875–1953), the 4th President of the Theosophical Society and was consecrated in December 1925. This was during the Golden Jubilee convention of the Theosophical Society. 

The design of this shrine was, in the words of C. Jinarajadasa, the fourth President of the Theosophical Society, "a combination of two styles, both contemporaneous, though one is at Buddha Gaya and the other in Nepal. The base of the shrine, with its rounded arches and pillars, is taken from Buddha Gaya, while the cornices and the dome are from a Buddhist temple in Nepal."  

The shrine is a small and quaint,white in colour. The wooden doors had lotus and swastika motifs on them, the seven steps were flanked by elephant-head balustrades that lead you to the main sanctum. While the doors were shut, I have read that the grey stone image of the Buddha inside the shrine was a gift from Dr. Annie Besant, the second President of the Theosophical Society.

Just beyond the lotus pond stood a tall Tree that had been planted by Shri. C. Jinarajadasa to commemorate the the 75th anniversary of the Theosophical Society. One can walk around the tree, down the steps leading to the pond and the main Buddhist temple as well. The entire space is open and lush greenery welcomes you everywhere you turn. 

If you were to turn left from the tree and walk, there was a small shrine of sorts with a black stone slate that stood as a tribute to the teachers.

Quite apt for today, Teacher's day!! 

 







For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Chidambara Ragasiyam and my birthday!



My birthday comes with a lot of fond memories, one of them quite special. Few years ago was on a road trip with a friend down the Coromandal Coast. And on Sep 4th morning we got on the road towards Chidambaram. My friend had spoken to her mom and got the number of the priest at the Chidambaram Natarajar temple so we get Darshan without much hassle. I have been to Chidambaram couple of times before, but only once to the temple and that was an incomplete visit. The place had been packed and we were unable to see anything, leave alone the main deity. 

So, this time I was curious to see the famous Chidamabara Ragasiyam [rather figure out what it was]. We waited near the temple chariot [ther/ratham] for the priest who came by in a few minutes. He then took us inside, showed us around the outer column of deities and shrines. He then asked us to wait so most of the crowd will leave and we can get a good Darshan. He even gave us permission to click pictures of the temple [just the outside ofcourse], photography is prohibited but he went on to say that many who came clicked on their mobile phones on the sly.  



And thus began our time at the temple. We visited the shrines around the main temple and then he took us inside. He told us we will also get to see the Chidambara Ragasiyam. My friend knew of it but I was quite blank and ergo curious. 

Legend has it that Chidambaram is where Shiva and his consort Parvati are present, but invisible to most people. In this temple, the Chidambara Ragasiyam is actually hidden behind a curtain right next to the main shrine. Our priest beckoned us towards the front and parted the curtains to show us what was hidden behind. It is actually a curtain of golden leaves from the Aegle Marmelos tree [[vilvam elai], signifying the presence of Shiva and Parvati. It is believed that saints can see the gods in their physical form.

It was quite a moment! We did a small archanai for my B’day and made our way out of the temple, thanking the Priest for his time. From there, we headed towards Porto Novo….
 

Joy of travelling alone...

Couple of days ago I was part of a conversation that nearly ended up in a heated argument and what was it about- travelling, well not just travelling, it was about travelling alone. 

I love travelling solo and I know not everyone will enjoy it. And am ok with that, but when you start throwing fancy words and psychology #%$@ into the conversation, that is where I draw the line. This person with who I was chatting with was sharing stories from the recent holiday he had been on. It was a new destination and so I was curious to learn more. As he was winding down, he suggested I plan a trip with friends/family and go for it. I then commented that it sounded like a place i want to explore on my own, which is when he took off on a tangent about how it is not safe to travel alone and how depressing it is that i enjoy travelling alone. 

I was appalled to say the least. I started retaliating and gave up at a point where I realised he was never going to understand. We spoke about movies where the heroine travels alone, like Queen for example and then there were movies Vicky Christina Barcelone that was thrown in as well. Oh and not to forget the episode in FRIENDS where Rachel goes off on her honeymoon alone... And then came EAT, PRAY,LOVE where the heroine sets off on a self discovery path. 

Hmmm... I wasn't done! He argued that I travelled alone only cos I did not have a partner to travel with and how bored I must have been during the trips I had taken. Had he been in front of me, he would have seen how smoke was coming out of everywhere and how pissed off I was.. Luckily, he was in another part of the world and so escaped my wrath! I just ended the conversation before it came to blows and told him to get back to work!! 




So, what is it about travelling alone that I love? 

1. Best company
I am my bet companion. I don't want anything fancy, I dont get tired that easy nor am I fussy. And best off it all , I don't have to wait for anyone. I enjoy walking aimlessly, exploring the place, I stop and eat when am hungry, I shop what catches my eye and I dont have to worry about how the other person likes the bed/bathroom or fight to keep the light on late in the night when am catching up on my reading.During my visit to Tanjore/Kumbakonam, I chose a room with Ac and no TV. It worked just fine as I was home just to zzz and shower.

2. Agenda
Since I am on my own, I can create my own agenda, or not! During my Goa trip, I knew there were a few places I wanted to visit and rest happened on its own. When I was talking to the locals, they added a few more places and that is when I discovered a tour operator who helped me explore as much as possible during the few days I was there. And when I was done with the tour, I started taking the local buses and taxis to go back to some of the places that caught my eye. It was fun and quite safe.



3. Boosts confidence
I never thought I would be out travelling alone. And when it did happen, I want worried or scared, I was quite excited. There was a new found confidence in me, the way I spoke to people, made plans and figured my way around. I guess it comes naturally, you just learn to be bold and go for it when on your own. It is like being stranded in a new land on your own- you either sit and cry, or pat yourself down and go exploring! I did the latter and there has been no turning back. I have had people gape and ask me if I was out of my mind. Some even went on to ask if I got out of my hotel room or not. And then there are those who look in amazement and comment "I wish I could do all that". 

4. Meeting people
In almost all my solo trips, I have visited a local, dined and chatted with them, only to realise it is such a joy to meet the locals and learn about their culture, food and customs. There was a family in Goa who I met during a walk, who invited me home and got me to try some of their local dishes. There as nothing weird or scary about it, they were quite caring and as I left, the couple dropped me off at the resort with a small gift. 


All said and done, the other rules of travelling does apply- packing wisely, staying safe and remembering to be cautious.. well there is a thick line between being cautious and being paranoid!! ;o) 

Off I go to plan another trip..hopefully it will happen soon..

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Birthday Madras...

Woah, you are 375 years old today..
No No, you are 375 years young today....
Happpy birthday to the only city I call home... 

I knew you back when you were called Madras
I spent quite a few days here 
Holidays, so memorable
Visits to the Marina beach
Playing in the water, digging into vadai and sundal
Ice cream at Snowfield

And then time flew
you changed, but not too much
I still looked forward to my holidays here
Checking out new restaurants.
Biting into that 1st pizza at Cakes n Bakes
Japoise cake and brown bread that granpa used to bring home
from McRennett
Gulping down bottles of Gold Spot, Rush and
Enjoying the pop of the Coke cans
from Burma Bazaar 

And then we moved cities
I was left in your arms for a good 2 months
Did not like it much, 
for I was just a child...
And then a decade later, I was back here
Calling Madras "home". 

Walking through the crowded lanes of Flower Bazaar
Shopping for little trinkets along the narrow alley in Sowcarpet
Laughing with friends while we downed pani puri in Pursaiwalkam
Visiting Mahabalipuram as part of school day trip..
And exploring the Egmore museum with uncle and cousin

You sure have a lot to offer, Madras
The locals and visitors will never tire..

The hot bhajji and tea in the roadside tea shop
Checking out gold bangle designs at GRT in Ranganathan Street
Waiting patiently while mom and gramma did saree shopping at Nalli
Looking forward to catching up with friends at Hot breads after college with friends
You sure have come far!!

Whenever someone new comes to the city
they ask me "so, what is your city all about?"
I stare at them as if they are stupid and then  go on to list...
The plays at Alliance Francaise
Concerts at Venkata subbarao hall in Lady andal school
and then there are all those food festivals at one of the many restaurants in the city
The Mylapore food walks and festival
The Dastkar and Aarti Bagdy shows 
We sure have it all

Today, she is called Chennai, but to me
she is always Madras
the 10 Downing street, the Pasha, the Bikes & Barrel
the Darios, the L'amandier, the Brew room
The murukku chaat, the bonda+chutney and hot jalebis
the kancheepuram saree, the fancy lehengas and swanky jeans
the Fort St George, the Theosophical society, the Art Houz
the Churches, temples, mosque and the beaches
the IT parks, the IIT, and the Vandalur zoo... 
sema supera illa mama?!!


Happy Birthday Madras......... 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Skywatch Friday.. Blue waters in SriLanka



Ah, the memories from the Sri Lankan trip continue to linger on... I was talking to a friend about the fresh sweet Strawberries from Nuwara eliya and so decided to do a post on the place for today's skywatch as well.. 

After being on the road for the better part of the day, visiting K Galle, Kandy and Pinnawala, we had decided to halt at Nuwara Eliya for the night. We drove along the winding road, stopped at the first B & B, bargained for a good rate and tucked into the warm cozy bed. The next morning, we hit the road fairly early and as we drove down, the sun was beginning to rise shimmering in the blue lake. It was a beautiful man made lake that also had a amphibian in it [ one of those planes that flies and glides on water].. The water looked like a million diamonds had spilt.. 





Further down, we stopped at a small roadside shack for a quick breakfast- had the most yumm tasting coconut roti and the lady also told us of a Sita temple nearby which was quite a beautiful one at that.

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ... 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Skywatch Friday.. Along the Galle Fort



We were on our last leg of the Srilankan holiday. We left Unawatuna that morning and drove towards Galle before heading down back to Colombo. Along the way, we decided to take a small detour and visit the Galle fort area. The cab driver also chimed in saying the place had some interesting architecture and quite a few shops as well. We drive inside the Fort entrance and stopped near the Fort wall. My friend and I hopped out and walked along the wall, watching the ocean, with calm waves and a man walking into the ocean to fish. The water was a beautiful emerald colour and seemed quite shallow as well.   




Located in the Bay of Galle along the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, the Fort was built back in 1588 by the Portuguese, but then over time it was fortified by the Dutch  when they ruled the region around the 17th Century. It has been over 423 years and even today the Fort stands tall and majestic. It is now protected by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka.

Within the Fort area we noticed the architecture was quite unique. The buildings were all pristine white and lined up in order neatly. There was also the Dutch Reformed Church and a temple we could see from the fort wall. We spotted a Roti stall and went over to check it out. Attached to it was a bed and breakfast, the owner who saw us gave us a quick tour of the place. We also picked up a cheese and onion roti from the stall [it was like a parantha and was quite good]  




What was amazing about the place was that quite a few buildings were still owned by the Dutch and the center has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  This very Fort has not only stood the test of time, but also survived the Boxing Day Tsunami.

As we drove around the place doing a full circle, we saw the Lighthouse, Court house and a Hospital. The day seemed to have been an auspicious day for we saw quite a few couples getting ready for marriage or newly married. And then along with them there was always a group of bridesmaids and best men, all dressed in matching outfits and traditional srilankan attire. The bride and groom were decked up, the bride in a white saree with jewellery that hung down her neck like curtain, while the groom in a beautifully embellished jacket studded with stones and what not [shall get the pic from friend and post it here]. 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ... 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sywatch Friday-- Amidst all that Gold- Golden Temple, Amritsar



I woke up dreaming of walking through the long marble tiled floor towards the Golden Temple.  I could almost feel the chill on my feet, and my dupatta sliding off my head to lie in a bunch around my neck.  The sun peeping through the curtains woke me up from this beautiful dream and I went about the morning with a grin on my face. It was our 3rd day in Amritsar and we were going to go back to the The Harmandir Sahib [Golden Temple] for a revisit. We had decided the previous day to do this and so we knew we had a purpose for the day. And within the next 24hours, we would explore as much as possible and bid adieu to Amritsar, heading out to Delhi.

The weather was beautiful, a subtle nip in the air which was just brilliant. Lest you wonder what is wrong with me, let me clarify-”I love cold weather”, colder the better! I keep thinking I should have been born in one of the cold countries instead of here in the sweltering Chennai.  We marched down to the restaurant for the breakfast [which had become a routine] and then headed out around 10 am straight to the temple.



We finally reached the main entrance of the temple and soon became one with the crowd.  The amazing thing was there was no pushing, shoving, screaming, arms flailing around, or people yakking away on mobile phones. There was silence and peace. The water around the path shimmered in the morning sun, and the fish swam about happily.  As the line progressed, we walked in and had a quick Darshan before going around. H and I turned to go upstairs with the other friend R following us. His wife, A and son, Ra were behind us, but they disappeared on the 2nd floor. We reached the roof and looked around but to vain. So, R decided to go downstairs looking for her. H and I waited on the roof for a bit, walking around and finally gave up and made our way downstairs. 

The Shish Mahal (Mirror Room) is located on the second floor. As you walk around you will see the intricate patterns along with numerous mirrors that reflect the light. The topmost floor contains the main dome, along with other miniature domes, and is situated above the Mirror Room.   

We infact spent about half an hour walking up and down looking for R and co, but none in sight. We then called them to discover they were near the exit. Oh well, we followed suit and made our way out. But not before stopping for some prashad. When I held out my right hand, the man giving the cup full of "kara prashad" (a sweet made from wheat, ghee and sugar), resembling our Kesari instructed me to hold out both hands and placed quite a large portion of the prashad. It was Hot, sweet and yummy. From there, I got out to spot the others waiting in the open area. We then strolled around, clicked some pictures and finally exited the place.   




Other important structures of the temple include the Ghanta Ghar (the entrance), the Akal Takht (also known as the timeless throne) and the Central Sikh Museum.



We did walk over to the museum and spent nearly 2 hours exploring the place. There were floor after floor filled with history and art lined up on the walls. Friends’ infact said there was an entire floor dedicated to the Operation Blue but it seemed to have been shut/removed and there was no trace of it now.

As we made our way out, the chants resounded in the air, lingering in our minds long after we left the place!

Ah, I could finally tick off one more item from my Bucket List~!

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ... 

To know more about the Golden Temple, you can visit the below mentioned websites-
http://sgpc.net/golden-temple/index.asp
http://overseasattractions.com/asia/india/amritsar/golden-temple/

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Skywatch Friday- Madurai in all its glory


 Walking through the streets, I reminisced about our life in that town, crossing the road to get to school, the family that lived below in our house and  a whole host of other memories came flooding in. I was dragging my trolley bag and walking towards the Periyar Bus stand to receive my friend who was arriving from Kochi. 

After the initial hugs and smiles, we had breakfast, freshened up at a hotel nearby and made our way to the temple. As the auto rode through the narrow lanes, all I could think of was the last time I was here. It had been a good 4-5 years if not more. And every pillar and every sculpture was etched in memory. I narrated some of the memories with my friend and also told her of the Shiva- Parvathy wedding story that is described along the walls of the temple while we waited in line to get Darshan. We were inside the majestic & renowned Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai. 

Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati (in the avatar of Meenakshi amman). There are 14 majestic Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams for the main deities.  There is also a Nandi sitting in a mandap that has been sculpted from one single stone. Apart from this, there is a hall with pillars where each one plays a different musical note. Unfortunately they have been closed off and public is not allowed to touch it these days. 

Unfortunately that day we had an hour and that went in waiting in lines and getting Darshan. Couldn't really wander through the entire temple campus. But a visit is such a heart warming thing, especially in a town that holds fond memories.. 





For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ...