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!! :)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday Challenge.. Zip zap zoom!

The theme for today's Thursday Challenge is"FAST" (Motion Blur, Cars, Boats, Running, Food,...)

Clicked this while waiting at Udom Suk BTS station for the BTS train to take me back to Asok. I had just spent about 4 hours in Meghabangna mall which also houses IKEA Store… :) 

The train system here is just amazing. I fell in love with it right after our 1st ride. The entire station, the ticketing kiosks, the trains, the speed, everything left me wishing we had something like this back home!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Skywatch Friday.. go where the tracks take you, in Karaikudi

Whilst in Karaikudi, one noon when driving towards Kanadukathan, we had to cross this railway track. The system was what it used to be, what I have seen in Tiruneveli where there is a draw bridge of sorts that comes down when a train crosses and is hoisted away once the train moves... 

Couldn't help but stop to click a shot! :) 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ...

Thursday Challenge- Take a a few moments for yourself

The theme for today's Thursday Challenge is "PEACEFUL" (Calming, peaceful nature, park, or urban scenes,...)

This photograph was taken at GRT Temple Bay. A bunch of us had gone out for a day trip to Dakshin Chitra and from there we headed to Temple Bay for lunch. The walk back to the main lobby from the sea side restaurant was beautiful..

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Skywatch Friday... Meeting the Lord at Kataragama

We were exhausted after exploring Yala National park for a good 4-5 hours. Not to forget the sun was blazing down on us. Our next stop in the vacation was Kataragama and so we decided to drive ahead and look for a place to stay near Kataragama. It sounded like the best thing to do considering we had plans of heading to the temple around 9am. We found a hotel, and it turned out to be quite new [ less than 2 weeks], there was just one guy- he was the chef, he was the manger, he was the bellboy and everything else you expect in a hotel. The rates were very good, room was clean and food he served up was yumm.

The next morning, we had a quick breakfast and checked out around 9am towards the temple. When we got there, we realised the temple opens only around 10am. It was quite hot but we were excited to be there. The temple complex was huge, we walked around and paused when we heard what sounded like a band. A bunch of kids were doing Band practice near the temple, it was led by a girl. 

All along the way there were quite a few Lion tailed monkeys but they were so well behaved, almost trained. They waited till the humans dropped food/fruits to pick it up and did not snatch any bags. While we waited for the temple to open, we decided to wander around and explore the place some more. I had read there was a Buddhist temple in the complex, and so we made our way towards it. A good km away, the path was clean and lined with flower stalls, some had bright purple lilies that were such a treat to the eyes. The walls along the way were white and clean. There were a few beggars, mostly women with little babies on their laps. 

 The buddhist temple was beautiful, we braved the harsh sun and walked around it. Apparently there is a mosque within the complex as well, but we did not have time to visit as it was nearly 10 and we headed back to the main temple. 

What was amazing about this temple was that around 10.10 we stood near the main entrance waiting for the doors to open. And suddenly we spotted 5 men dressed in white kurta and pyjama come over, pull out a key and open the temple doors. It was very different from what we see in our temples. 

There were in all about 100 people waiting outside, who piled in silently standing on either side. The 5 men who came in took their positions- 2 near the steps, 2 just above the steps and one went behind the curtain into the main sanctum. God is not an idol or a sculpture, he is merely on a velvet curtain in this temple. 

Within a few minutes, most people offered their prayers, giving the plates of fruits to the men and heading out. When it came to us, the one man standing near the bottom step dipped his finger into the lamp nearby and placed his fingers on our head and then asked us to wait as the main Puja would be starting in a few minutes. [ we have no idea why they singled us out, but were glad they did so].

Another 20-30 people remained, standing on either side. An elderly man came around announcing that people should take care of their belongings and switch off their mobiles. That was it. For the next hour while we waited there was not a single peep from anyone, no sighs no cribs nothing! 

Then began the main puja- which was again very different from what we have seen. The one man who went behind the curtain came out, heading out of the temple, did a round and then came back carrying what looked like a stick with silk cloth on either side. Few minutes the process was repeated except this time the team brought in vessels bearing prasadam. And then it was all over, we were ushered out and given a good handful of prasadam [ sambar rice]

About the temple:

Kataragama is a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Located 238 Km from Colombo, the main shrine of Kataragama temple is devoted to Hindu God Skanda [Lord Muruga]. He is depicted as a god with 6 faces and 12 hands. This shrine is said to have been built around the 2nd century B.C. There are 2 other shrines in the complex - Lord Vishnu and the other to Lord Ganesha.  

The Buddhist temple is dedicated to Kiri Vehera Dagoba. According to the Buddhist legends, it is believed that Lord Buddha met King Mahasena who ruled Kataragama during that time. Thus, Sinhalese Buddhists consider Kataragama to be sanctified by Lord Buddha’s visits. The Kiri Vehara Dagoba has been built at the spot where King Mahasena listened to the discourses of Lord Buddha. 

As we left the complex we could see another group of people coming in with kavadi on their backs and a band playing along... 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ...

Chatuchak Market, Bangkok

The one place that everyone suggested we visit was the Chatuchak market in Bangkok.. I had no idea about the place- where it was, what was it about and why one should visit here. Our friends who had been in Bangkok few weeks earlier told us it was a good place for shopping. Since am not into shopping, I wasn't too keen, but had no escape. Saturday morning dawned bright and early. We got dressed [ wore comfortable clothing], packed out bags [ mine had camera and some cash as well] and headed out towards the BTS station. As we made a beeline towards the enquiry desk, we heard another group talk about the market and followed them. I asked one of them who told me to purchase a ticket to Mo Chit station which was walking distance from the market. 

Spread across 35 acres of land, and with over 15,000 stalls and more than 200,000 visitors every weekend, Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market is the mother of all markets – and possibly one of the biggest and most famous in the world. It happens every weekend and draws same kind of crowd week after week... 

We paid a fare of about 48Baht, bought the ticket and got into the train. It was quite packed. While my friend found a seat, I stood just inside near a white couple. Awhile later I got to talking and discovered they were from Britain but were living in Chang Mai for about 2 months and were on their last leg of stay before heading back to Britain. They were in the business of textile export [ from Jaipur].. They told me that the market is quite a place & it is best to be organised, esp when visiting for the 1st time. There was a tourism office from where one can pick up a map and then make our way around it. As we chatted away, the train stopped and we had reached Mo Chit. Bidding them adieu, I found my friend and we made our way down the exit towards the park. 

Whoa, nothing had prepared me for what stood ahead of us. It was like a mini city, except there was nothing but stalls and stalls, filled with clothes, bags, gadgets, pets and more.. We wandered about together for a while, but then decided it was best we go our way, and connect after a while. Else, we would just make it back to the hotel. 

Both of us had mobile phones and data, so whatsapp was the answer! 

We must have spent a good 3 hours walking within the narrow lanes, it was such a treat just to see all the stalls. I bought a few knick knacks, gifts for friends mostly and then I stumbled upon rows & rows of shops dealing with nothing but pets- they had live pets, pet accessories, clothing, footwear, food and what not. Some were showing off the puppies and guinea pigs, while others were busy showing off some fancy clothes for dogs. You name it, and they had it! 

It drizzled a bit as I walked around. I stopped to pick up a bottle of fresh fruit juice when a couple came over and said Hi. The guy infact asked me what the drink was. And then got to talking about how they were from the Middle east and were looking forward to an upcoming trip to India. He asked about our currency, and wanted to see an Indian Rupee note [ I wasn't feeling too comfortable with him and so excused myself and disappeared into another alley of shops]. 

I picked up my phone to check the time and noticed the time was nearly 3pm, and there was a message from my friend. We connected and made our way to JJ mall, which was down the road. She wanted to pick up clothes and had been told this was the place to go to. Along the way, we saw more pet stores, aquariums and a park of sorts which was all done up with activities for kids [ I later learnt that it was National children's day]. We found the mall about 2kms down the road, and once again there were a few stores near the entrance, including one selling tortoises [of all sizes]. The mall was filled with stores, smaller in size and not as expensive as a regular store. We explored about 2 floors, I managed to find footwear in a store [ hallelujah..- bought 2 pairs], friend bought quite a few outfits/dresses and we also had a yummy bread toast with Nutella/milkmaid in the food court.

There are stores selling 1st copy of Louis Vuitton, burberry and the biggest of brands you have heard off, some were retailing cute outfits, some had curio items, others had food/grocery/toiletries and then there were more.. you get the drift right!! I had never seen so many shops under one roof on a day ever in my life.. I was quite exhausted..  

We then decided enough was enough, and got out to make our way back to the station. Arms laden with bags, our energies nearly sapped we stopped when we saw a local street food.. There was a lady making crisp crepes packed with cream and shaved coconut. We bought a few of those, also picked up a bottle of fresh orange juice, some rambutan and decided to hail a cab or tuk tuk back to the Hotel. We managed to find a tuk tuk near the main road for a decent rate and sat back to enjoy the breeze, nibble on the crepe and chill till we reached the hotel. 

It was one awesome day indeed.. I did regret not buying a few quirky things, but oh well, it doesnt matter~!! Glad we got to experience the place.. 

Hop on the skytrain (BTS) to Mo Chit station, take exit no. 1 and follow the steps, or the crowd and you will soon see a park followed by the entrance that leads into the market.

The weekend market is open on Saturdays and Sundays, 09:00 - 18:00, and Fridays 18:00 - 24:00.  

There are companies that do guided tour of the market as well.. for those who aren't too comfortable wandering on their own

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Colours all around.. Athangudi Tiles Factory, Karaikudi

For years I had been dreaming of visiting Karaikudi and one of the things I knew the town was famous for was the Athangudi Tiles. After the morning visit to the two famous temples in this region, I quickly asked the cab driver if he knew where we could see these tiles being made. He took us to the one factory that has withstood the test of time and popular in Athangudi village of the Chettinadu region. Dropping us off he asked if he could quickly go have lunch and come. 

We happily agreed and wandered into the factory premises. On our left were two large ponds filled with water and tiles in them. On the other side was a building with 4-5 people busy packing the tiles. They seem to work mechanically as if this activity was something they could do with their eyes shut. There was a lady amidst them and she said she too had been working in this industry for over 30years. They worked with their hands, no gloves, no face masks, no ventilation but the open and did not wear any protective gear at all. This was what caught my eye first and I felt bad for them. 

Using their bare hands to pick up the glass tiles, pack in the concrete, set it in concrete before stacking it up to dry was no easy task. 

There was an inner area, a long corridor of sorts where 2 men sat doing similar work. The only difference was they were creating tiles that had varied patterns and colours, they had a metal mould of sorts that they used to fill in the colours.  All the fancy windows we see in old homes are all made right here in this small place. One of the men was quite old, said he had been trained in Ambasamudram  [another small town in TN which was renowned for tiles] and then had moved here to work in the factory.  

Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwn-QbYR13o

The process: 
The mix of cement and coloured oxide in a liquid slurry state is individually poured into patterned moulds upon a glass piece. A thin layer of local sand is laid; the tile is then filled to three-fourth inch thickness with cement, sand and small stone aggregates or jelly to get the tile.

It is cured in water for a minimum of 21 days and readied for laying. Imagine, all this is done to every tile individually, building up an amazing handicraft industry. While the red colour tiles look like red oxide flooring, varied geometrical and floral patterns are also available. The traditional patterns are still being continued with, hence Athangudi tiles are among the few choices available today to create an ethnic ambience. However, unlike red oxide, these tiles come with greater smoothness and shine. In designs, finish, quality and durability, Athangudi can compete with any of modern manufactured flooring materials, of course with its own advantages and disadvantages. Used in the right place and context, Athangudi tiles are among the sustainable solutions ahead of us.

We spent about an hour here, talking to the people and to the man who ran the factory. He shared that the tiles were popular with city dwellers even today. Some came all the way to hand pick the tiles. The price was around Rs45-50 but lesser if bought in large volumes. We did notice that almost all homes in the region had these beautiful tiles all over. We did deliberate about buying a few, but decided against it as the tiles were heavy and had to be handled with care [we were travelling by bus].. 

The lady piled on the next glass sheet and began pouring paint on it as we left the place.. I wondered how many she was going to make that day & what her future was like...