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.


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Behind the sounds


Entering the bar, the small stage was straight up ahead—the drums, electric guitars, the tabla, all set up, lit beautifully. The mikes stood straight, the huge speakers on either side waiting for the music to flow through them.

The few seats on the left were exclusively for patrons; the bartenders were on the right.

9:40 pm.

“The show should begin at 10,” Vikram tells me. “I guess we’re waiting for more folks to turn up. We’ve sold 150 tickets!”

Standing at the back of the bar, just beside the entrance, Vikram is busy fine tuning the settings on the mixer. He’s a seasoned professional—I find out that he’s been with Indian Ocean for a while now, and he’s also worked with Euphoria.

“So, these gadgets interest you?”

“Well, yes. I do find them rather fascinating.”

“These are digital ones, the sound isn’t as great as analog. You know, like how digital doesn’t match up with film.”

“Digital? But where’s the touch screen? I see all these physical sliders”

He hit a button to the left of the console, and all the sliders danced their way into different positions.

Oh.

We continue to talk about our digital society, and how it has impacted the way we work, the way we live. And then we get back to the music. We look towards the stage. The crowd had swelled up a little. “The view may be good there, but the sound isn’t going to be as good. That zone there, in the center, that’s the worst place to be. You won’t hear the beat at all!”

So what was the best place to be?

“‘Round here along the gates!”

Coming up INDIAN OCEAN live!

A post shared by Atul Srivastava (@chitraakriti) on

10:30 pm

The band members finally take the stage, and we step away to let Vikram do what he does best.

We cheer and hoot along with the crowd. Some voices request the popular songs. “Bande!” “Kandisa!”

Deeply engrossed in the music, some in the audience sway around with their eyes closed, oblivious to other people’s gaze. And some others, sway with eyes wide open, a drink in one hand, and a hookah in the other, pretty much oblivious to their own selves.

We stay at the back just as Vikram had told us; but only after the first song. We wanted to feel the difference in sound for ourselves, and stood in front for a while, before moving to the back.

11:30 pm

After playing their lesser known songs, the band finally gives in to the requests of “Bande!” And the audience suddenly grows larger.

The first request fulfilled, the crowd insists on Kandisa. The musicians tease the crowd. A few more songs, and the crowd grows restless. Two men, who had had more music than they could handle begin singing Kandisa by themselves.

12:15 am

The first few notes play, and we dance along to the tunes of “Ma Rewa”. The band and the crowd play together—a jugalbandi with a difference. And then the final song of the night. The crowd has now swelled to its fullest strength. This is what they’d been waiting for all night. “Kandisa Alahaye, Kandisa Esana…” the crowd’s voice drowns out the singers’. The strings and the classical vocals fill up the hall, and we sway and sing along too, with one eye set on the watch, the other out to avoid those who had transcended into a different zone altogether.

We give out a loud cheer and clap for the musicians out in the front, and equally for the supporting team standing at the back, who stood sane and still, concentrating on making sure the sounds were just right.

As we make our exit into the cold morning, out of the corner of my eye, I catch Vikram giving a high five to his assistant. All in a night’s work.

Behind the music
Vikram with his muse

This is post #29 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

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


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The Floating Palace


Udaipur is often called the Venice of the the east. I haven’t visited Venice, but I’d still prefer it to be called the Udaipur of the west! I’ll let the pictures of the Jag Niwas Palace at Lake Pichola do the rest of the talking:

A portion of Jag Niwas Palace
Against the most beautiful blue skies
The Island Palace
The central tower
Jag Niwas Island
The lawns
The Floating Palace
The boundary walls

More photo stories from Udaipur


This is post #28 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

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


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Oars


Conflicting thoughts dance around his head.
He shakes them off to go earn his bread.

At the river bank he picks up his oars
And ferries people across the shore.

As he rows he feels happy
His hands and body move in perfect harmony.

He breaks into a smile
And forgets his problems for a while.

The happy customers will pay up the fare.
But the contractor will take the lion’s share.

He sighs and consoles himself
After all, his dream won’t come true by itself.

His simple heart plays its own beat
One day, he’ll have his own fleet.

Oars


Photo taken with a Moto G3, edited with Befunky.


This is post #27 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

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


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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


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The mocking mural


Have you ever felt like the universe is sending out messages to you? I ask because that’s what I’ve felt lately. Take for instance, this chain of events that have taken place over the past two days.

Yesterday, quite by accident, I came across a TED talk by Manoush Zomorodi, in which she explains the connection between boredom, or ‘spacing out’ and creativity. She conducted a challenge with her radio listeners, and asked them to switch off connectivity, and actually experience boredom. As she continued explaining, one of the things that struck to me was this:

Some of them (the people who took the challenge) told me that they didn’t recognize some of the emotions that they felt during challenge week, because, if you think about it, if you have never known life without connectivity, you may never have experienced boredom.

Watching the video, I couldn’t help feel smug. After all, I belong to the generation that grew up without affordable & accessible connectivity. I was also a very very reluctant social media user—mostly because of privacy concerns (I signed up for Instagram only last week!) I thought to myself, ‘we’d always find ways to remove the boredom from our lives through creative pursuits. What a pity, the youngsters of today have no idea what it was like, without phones and apps!’

In reality though, I was in denial. Over the past two days, Atul had chided me for looking at the phone constantly, checking my notifications, and not realising that there was tons of work to be done. (I’ve heard very similar rants from my parents too!) Okay, so maybe I was a bit caught up with this month-long challenge. “It’ll be different after November,” I had protested.

Today, I visited my Alma mater, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, and saw these beautiful murals outside the cafeteria. As has been the case for quite some time, my friend Ankita and I took out our phones to take pictures.

Murals at Shaheed Bhagat Singh College
Fascinating and beautifully detailed murals by the students of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College

“So, are you going to post these to Facebook?” I asked her. “Oh, it’s not me, it’s you who’s going to be posting it!” she replied with a hint of mischief.

And that did it. With this chain of events coming together, the full effect of my denial towards my phone addiction, stood mocking at me.

Here’s a closer look at what I saw.

What was most ironical, was that my smug attitude about my immunity to social media addiction was clearly illustrated by the very generation of students whom I had pitied just yesterday.

I believe in signs, and when so many clues point in the same direction, it’s definitely a sign.

Here’s the full video of the TED Talk:

(If you’d rather read than watch, visit the TED transcript here)


This is post #25 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

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


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Waiting in the cold


It’s still early winter and there are some brave ones roaming the streets around without woollens. But we’re not taking any chances. As I write this post, sitting snugly in the warm blanket, my mind wanders to our freezing experience in Sikkim last year.

At the Tsomgo lake in Sikkim, we rented extra woollens and boots to help combat the extreme mountain weather. We had three layers of jackets on, but our feet were virtually freezing inside the boots. The yaks, though, were pretty cool and comfortable standing barefoot. Brrr!

Waiting in the cold
A yak owner waits for tourists, who will be allowed to sit on the yak and pose for photographs—for a fee, of course!

This is post #24 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

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


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Thank you :)


Today is a special day. I hear it’s the Thanksgiving weekend around most places in the world. And while I have very little knowledge of this holiday, as it’s not something my family celebrates, I find it a lucky coincidence that it is today, that I am reaching a milestone.

This post, is number 300 in the lifetime of this blog.

Yes, it’s a small number compared to so many other bloggers around the world, but if you had told me a few months ago, that I’d be here, today, writing my three hundredth post, as part of a month-long blogging challenge, I would have probably called you insensitive.

Over the past twenty three days, I have been at the receiving end of much love, and a very dedicated readership. Many of you have told me how much you have enjoyed reading, and especially loved the pictures I have posted here. And it fills me with joy.

Knowing that someone out there, cares for the stories I have to tell, matters a lot to me. And so, I want to say, thank you.

thank-you


This is post #23 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

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


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The haveli next door


Lal ghat is perhaps the most tourist-y area of Udaipur, filled with havelis-turned hotels. Most of the hotels and cafes in the areas now boast of roof-top dining, and we explored as many as we could. One particular one, though, stood out. Jaiwana haveli was highly rated on Trip Advisor, and we headed straight there after our visit to the Monsoon Palace.

“Is the roof-top cafe open?” I asked at the reception. “Yes, it is! And if you’d like to use the washroom, then it’s on the ground floor—there isn’t any upstairs!” The man at the reception smiled and answered. We thanked him and then climbed up the narrow and steep staircase to the open-air dining area. It was around eight o’clock,and it appears that we were the early birds that night. The tables were all empty, and we took the best seat in the house—the corner table, with a splendid view of Lake Pichola and its illuminated islands. We picked our menu, and then immersed ourselves in the soft sounds of the waves of the lake and pleasant rain washed air. We could see portions of the City Palace in front of us, and all the heritage hotels—which were once palaces—on the opposite side of the ghat. Below us, were a few anchored boats, and other rooftop cafes, and way off in the distance, was the hill we had just visited. And then, out of nowhere, came a loud noise, startling us.

We looked around. There was an elderly lady seated behind us, and having recognized our searching glances, she offered an answer. “That’s the cultural program at Bagore ki haveli. It takes place every evening.” In the darkness of the candle-lit night, we couldn’t see her face clearly, but something in her voice sounded gentle and elegant. We continued to talk, and asked her about the other items on our list of things to do, and how might we plan them.

Shortly after, our delicious dinner arrived, and we noticed the lady giving instructions to some of the waiters. That’s when we realised, she was probably part of the management of the hotel, if not the owner.

The staff treated us so beautifully, it was hard to believe, especially after the harrowing time we had experienced at another famous tourist destination (more on that in a separate post). They thanked us multiple times and asked us to review them on Trip Advisor. This sweet hospitality, we later realised was common to all the cafes we visited. We made a mental note of the service, and decided that we’d visit again.

As we were winding up, other tourists began trickling in, and the moment we got up, one staff member placed a placard on our table. It was marked “Reserved”.

Bagore ki haveli Panorama
Bagore ki haveli with Tripolia gate, along Gangaur ghat

Before we visited Udaipur, our itinerary included the sound and light show at City Palace. Having heard the cheers of the crowd, and the recommendation by the lady at Jaiwana haveli, we decided to skip that and attend the cultural programme instead—a decision we are very thankful for!

The next morning, we visited the museum at Bagore ki haveli, and returned in the evening for the cultural show.

While my phone wasn’t able to capture the beautiful ambience atop Jaiwana at night, here are some pictures atop the haveli next door—Bagore.

Lake Pichola Panorama
Panoramic view of Lake Pichola atop Bagore ki haveli
View from a window of Bagore ki haveli
View from one of the windows of the haveli
The Chhatri in water
The chhatri in the water

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


This is post #22 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

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

Puppets


One of the exhibits at Bagore ki haveli, is a hall filled with puppets—of colourful Rajasthani men, women and animals. I’ll let the puppets introduce themselves:

The Durbar
Recreating the Durbar

We are only puppets, our strings are being pulled by unknown forces.
― Georg Büchner

The Dancer
The dancer
The Queen
The Queen

“Sometimes when I’m writing, I wonder if the words have a mind of their own, and if they’re really just using me as a puppet to manifest themselves.”
― Travis J. Dahnke


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


This is post #21 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

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