Serene


This isn’t the first time that a Chennai beach forms the setting for a post. And it probably won’t be the last. And every time I have written about the waves, it has always been with fondness, and serenity.

This week’s photo challenge, Serene comes at the most appropriate time. It has been a month of blogging madness—and a deeply fulfilling creative extravaganza. It’s perhaps most fitting, that NaBloPoMo culminates in that experience, which it perhaps the closest to me.

I wrote previously about the rather sad state of the Marina beach in Chennai. The Elliot’s beach, more popularly called the Besant Nagar beach, fortunately, does not share the same fate, and is my favourite place to visit early in the morning for relaxing—especially during Margazhi.

Besant Nagar Beach
A quiet stretch of sun, sand, and the sea, next to Arupadai Veedu Murugan Temple, Besant Nagar

Photo taken with a Moto G3, edited with Befunky.


This is the 30th, and last post of this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano. Tomorrow, I won’t have the pressure of posting something. A chance to put my blogging feet up for a while, take a short break, and try to put myself back into a more sane routine.

Throughout this month, on most days I had absolutely no clue what I would post about, often till the moment I began typing. And every time, I surprised myself. I almost didn’t participate, because I am still recovering from the health crisis I put myself into last year. But it has been an absolutely amazing journey, and you, my friends, have been the best part of this journey. To each and every one of you, who has read, liked, rated, shared and commented, thank you.

A happy reader makes it all worthwhile.


Follow along on other social channels:
FacebookInstagramMediumTwitterGoogle PlusFlickr


If you liked this post, check out other posts on Chennai:
Read more posts about Chennai (hint: it mostly revolves around the sea)

Advertisements

MG Marg at night


One of the things that we found particularly nice about Gangtok, was how clean the city was—despite the extreme weather, the huge influx of tourists, and the logistical challenges of a mountainous terrain.

In the three days we spent, the constant rain may have dampened our hopes of seeing the snow-capped Himalayas, but the stone paths of MG Marg raised them up, and how! In the light pitter patter of the rain, the smooth tiled paths transformed into a beautiful kaleidoscope, reflecting the colourful lights of the shops on either side.

Here’s a sampler:

MG Road, Gangtok
Welcome to MG Marg
Benches in the rain
Benches waiting for company
Gangtok at night
Vibrant nightfall
MG Road in the rain
Shopping

In response to this week’s Photo Challenge: Transformation
This is post #26 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging


Follow along on other social channels:
FacebookInstagramMediumTwitterGoogle PlusFlickr

 

Not so gingerly


This morning, as we began making tea, Atul placed a piece of ginger on the kitchen counter and made an interesting observation. “This looks like a rockstar!”

And why not?

The humble ginger has been rocking my life ever since I can remember.

When we were kids, every year, on Diwali (that’s Naraka Chadurdashi or choti Diwali for folks in the north), my mother would heat up sesame oil and crackle black pepper and chopped ginger. Once the oil cooled down a little, and while it was still warm, she would tell us to eat the spices and then apply the oil directly on our scalp.

Diwali signifies the onset of winter, and this little ritual was performed to avoid catching a cold in the changing season. It wasn’t the most pleasant thing to do, and we reluctantly gave in. Over time, though, we began appreciating it for its health benefits, and now, I willingly follow this practice.

Today, as the nip in the winter air pierces my skin, the comfort of ginger makes me feel warm. So I wrote a small ode to the versatile spice, that doesn’t discriminate.

The versatile ginger,
Some love to hate.
But that doesn’t affect her
She doesn’t discriminate.

She blends in well
In my tea as a spice.
And with garlic too,
She plays super nice.

She lifts me up
In bread and cookies
She’s the kick and tang
In my hot curries.

She’s the antidote
To my cold and sores
As well as a soothing balm
To my burning throat.

Ginger, there are some
Who can’t stand your sight,
But ginger, to me
You’re a rock star alright!

Here’s a picture of her, rocking her usual self.

I'm a #rockstar #ginger

A post shared by Kasturika (@kasturika.r) on

With this week’s daily post challenge asking bloggers to experiment, we decided to play around with the picture. I wanted to add fancy stickers and hashtags, and I assumed Instagram would let me do that. So I signed up – today. Turns out, it’s Facebook app that really fulfilled the requirements. (Yes, I’m terribly ill informed about social media apps!)

Here’s what Atul dished up:

She’s so happy I made it past the half way mark!

Psst. Since I’m celebrating my first day on Instagram, can I request you all to follow me? 😉


This is post #16 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Temporary


Yes, I am guilty. Guilty of taking photographs of beautiful looking food. A lot of people find that irritating. I have been on that side of the fence too. I have often found myself judging others Oh, just stop this! Shut the camera and enjoy the food in front of you!

But now, show me beautiful looking food, and my fingers just can’t help themselves. Food is as much an art form, as it is a necessity for survival. And when a chef puts in her heart and soul into presenting her work, it shouldn’t be recklessly devoured without admiring it first.

Savoury Snacks
An assorted selection of savoury snacks at the India Habitat Centre. Needless to say, it didn’t last long

There was this one other time I took a picture of something I liked. I’d posted it for a similar photo challenge some time back. That one disappeared even before I took the picture.


In response to this week’s Photo Challenge: Temporary


Photo taken with Moto G3. Click/tap to enter my Flickr Photostream.


This is post #9 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Myths about Monsoon Palace


Researching for our trip to Udaipur, we had heard and read about the amazing views of the Aravalli hills from the Monsoon Palace, especially at sunset. The Monsoon Palace was constructed specifically for the purposes of observing the monsoon clouds—and what better time to visit the Palace than in the monsoon!

It had poured heavily the day we reached Udaipur, and it appeared that the heavens above would deny us our visit to this Palace. Amazingly enough, the rain stopped in the early evening, and we headed out to catch the setting sun under a rather overcast sky.

From what we had read in the travel reviews, it was a long trek uphill, and not much upstairs, apart from a neglected building; that one must carry food and water, as there were no food stalls; and keep them safe as there were lots of monkeys who would snatch away your food. And so we went, fully prepared with snacks and water, tucked in a canvas bag, secured safely with the modern miracle called a zip.

Atop Monsoon Palace
Atop the Monsoon Palace

It turns out, either this place hasn’t been reviewed by travellers for a while, or I ended up reading every old one!

So I’m going to attempt to set it right, by debunking all the myths (and adding one observation) about the Palace.

    1. The building didn’t really look neglected or decaying.
    2. There is a restaurant there.
    3. There are also public water dispensers (as with most other monuments)
    4. There are no monkeys (except for one big Langoor, that had probably been hired to keep the red ones away)
    5. There are lots of multi-legged insects. Not dozens or scores or hundreds, there were literally thousands of centipedes/caterpillars/millipedes (I have no idea which of those they were) on the stone steps and walls—possibly due to the rains.

What each of the travel reviewers did get right, though, were the views. To quote one reviewer, “the views are to die for”.

Such was the breathtaking view of the Aravalli hills at sunset, that neither my words, nor my pictures could do justice to it.

We spent a couple of hours drenched in the golden hues of the sun, and as grateful as we were to be in presence of such magnificence, there was one greedy thought still lurking within, “if it weren’t so overcast!” Oh well. 🙂

So what were the great views, that captivated us, you ask? I’ll leave that hanging for one more day.

In the meanwhile, here’s a peek.

Monsoon Palace
Monsoon Palace just after sunset

Photos taken with a Moto G3, edited with Image Composite Editor and Befunky. Click/tap to enter my Flickr Photostream


This is post #4 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

The temple at Tiger Hill


We had had a rather strange morning. Waking up at 3:30 am, to be stuck in a traffic jam around 5 am, and then racing against the sunrise to get to the top of Tiger Hill. We missed the famous golden Kanchenjunga due to bad weather, but took away some interesting memories nonetheless.

We are extremely slow travellers. And on that foggy morning, we were the last of the tourists to slowly descend the hill, soaking in every inch of the natural beauty and scores of colourful flags. Somewhere along the path, lay a beautiful temple with more strings of flags than any other place we’d seen.

Temple on Tiger Hill
Temple towards the base of Tiger hill.

It was also very quiet, ignored by all the tourists scrambling to get into their cars to visit the next item on their list of places to see. We wondered why this one was missing on anyone’s itinerary.

Our own ‘package’ didn’t include this, and with our driver asking us to hurry up, all we could manage were a few quick photographs from the outside.

Prayer flags!
Prayer flags galore!

I did a quick search on Google, and sadly, could not find the name of this temple; there weren’t any tourist brochures or itineraries that mention this place. I’m not sure if visitors are permitted to enter (they must be, if there are so many flags here!) If they are, and if you have the time, perhaps you could add this to your list. If you’ve visited the temple, I would love to hear your story.


In response to this week’s photo challenge: Peek

Photos taken with a Moto G3, edited with Image Composite Editor and Befunky. Click/tap to enter my Flickr Photostream


This is post #3 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging


Update: The temple is called Senchal Singha Devi Temple. Thank you, Lori for doing the research for me 😉

Lamps in the sun


Diwali may have gone by, but that doesn’t stop me from posting about it 🙂

In this day of fairy lights and tea lights, the protagonist of Diwali, for me, is still the humble clay lamp, or the diya.

Diyas are usually soaked in water before oil is poured in. I’m not sure why, but I’m guessing it is to ensure that there are no air bubbles inside the earthen lamps, which would ‘drink’ a lot of oil!

This past Diwali, I caught dozens of diyas lazing on a weathered wooden table, drying under the sun after a nice soak. The contrasting colours and textures of the scene were quite different from what they would end up looking like at night!

Diyas drying in the sun
Diyas drying in the sun

In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Rounded

Picture captured with a Moto G3, edited with Befunky. Click/tap on the picture to enter my Flickr photostream

Scale


During our day trip to Mahabalipuram last winter, we reached ‘Krishna’s butter ball’ around that magical time when everything touched by sunlight gets a shower of gold dustincluding these huge boulders that stood silently admiring the profile of the more popular attractions nearby.

To get an idea of it’s scale, there’s a little child who managed to sneak into the view, and of course, those trees look quite dwarfed!

Beside the butter ball

Photo taken with Motorola Moto G3. Click / tap on the image to enter my Flickr photostream.

In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: show just how big, or little, the world can seem.

Pedestrian


I love walking. In fact, just yesterday we joined a group of walkers to explore Old Delhi (more on that in a separate post). But walking in Delhi NCR can be quite difficult – especially during rush hour. There are many places where there are no footpaths. And even where there are, bikers get on to them to bypass traffic. The need to speed ahead with little regard to traffic rules or safety can be quite frustrating for pedestrians.

In the world of motorsports though, safety and rules are of prime importance. Last year, I had the opportunity of visiting the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, and witnessing first hand the strict safety protocols observed there. Standing just above the pits, looking straight down, I saw something that I wish every biker on a footpath would do.

Going away from the track
Professional bikers making their way to the pits

I wrote about my experience interacting with a friendly Race Marshall at the racetrack. Read Between Paddock and Pit – The Shoe Stopper at the Ideafarms blog for the full story on that.


In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

To reveal, or not to reveal?


A prominent feature of Rajasthani architecture are the windows with their characteristic floral silhouette. When visiting monuments in the region, it is hard to resist the temptation of framing the magnificent views with the window. Ah, what a feeling it must have been, living in those palaces!

Alas, for women, not a very good one. The queens and princesses had their share of riches and maids and all luxuries that a royal household could provide. But freedom? Trapped in a tower, looking out of the window was the only freedom they had. Called jharokhas, the beautiful latticed windows were built to allow women to look at the world outside, without themselves being seen.

Here is one such window at Bagore ki Haveli, Udaipur. I wonder what must be visible through those tiny windows within the main window.

Latticed glass window
“What a wonderful world”

My previous posts of the Jag Niwas Island Palace and the Monsoon Palace were my favourite (and best) shots of windows with great views.

So this week, when the Daily Post asked us to show windows, I felt cheated. But considering what it must have been like for the women who looked out of these tiny windows, I don’t have any reason to complain.