H2O


States of H2O
The three states of H2O

View of the snow-capped mountains surrounding the holy glacier at Tsomgo (also called Tsangu or Changu) Lake beneath cloudy skies.

In response to the photo challenge on the Daily Post by Lignum Draco

Hanging on the edge


 

Tenzing Rock
Mountaineering on Tenzing Rock, Darjeeling

Tenzing Rock is a beautiful rock nestled between a tea garden on one side and another large rock on the other side. These young mountaineers were learning the ropes on the rock…


To see how bloggers around the world are interpreting this week’s photo challenge,¬†visit the Daily Post.

 

Framing the in-laws!


the bahu from the point of view of saas
The bahu, from the point of view of saas

One of the major attractions in Gwalior is the Saas-Bahu ka Mandir. In Hindi, saas translates to mother-in-law and bahu is the daughter-in-law.

The strange name is believed to be a convenient short form for sahasrabahu – meaning thousand arms. The two temples in the complex are covered with beautiful, intricate carvings of geometric patterns, animal motifs and dancing figures. Some claim that one temple is for Lord Vishnu, while the other is for Lord Shiva. There is also some confusion as to whether they are Hindu temples at all. What is widely agreed to, is that the larger one is definitely the saas, and the smaller one, the bahu!

This photograph of the smaller temple was taken inside the larger temple.

If you intend visiting, be sure you have enough battery and memory to click pictures. We know we didn’t stop with one ūüėČ


To see how bloggers across the blogosphere are framing their points of view, check out this week’s Photo Challenge

Morning on Tiger Hill


The phone rang at 3:30 am. The voice of the driver was impatient. “It’s getting late! No no… I don’t know who told you 4 am. We need to leave now. We’ll get stuck in a traffic jam!”

A traffic jam at 4 am? Oh well, we were already up. We scrambled and managed to leave just a few minutes before 4.

The blinding curves on the mountain were dark and quiet. But just after two turns, another car joined our route. In another 15 minutes we had more company.

By the time we reached the base of Tiger Hill, we were at the tail end of a massive car line. The driver took shortcuts off the road to jump ahead. But as we reached higher ground, there was only one road.

“How far is it from here? Can we walk it?” The driver nodded confidently. We hopped out. It was a race against the sunrise. We joined at least fifty other people who were already trekking uphill at a fast pace.

After close to two kilometres of jogging and walking, we managed to reach the top of the hill, where a huge crowd was staring into the distance, camera in hand, waiting expectantly.

“Don’t worry, the sunrise will be only at 6:30! Plenty of time! Yesterday the view was very good. Today let’s hope the fog lifts with the sun! Here, you must be tired. Have some coffee!” The coffee sellers were busy catering to the captive, sleep deprived and hungry clientele.

The day was in full bloom. And yet the coffee seller coolly said it would take another half an hour for the ‘sunrise’.

“Whooooaaaah!” A section of the crowd began cheering, as if having spotted a celebrity. The fans began climbing on every possible vantage point. The paparazzi were clicking away.

We looked in the direction of the cameras. In the distance, an uninterested orange sphere looked into the mist.

Here comes the sun!

Funnily, the crowd seemed to have forgotten for a while, why they were actually atop Tiger Hill. For it was not the sun we were waiting for. It was the promised breathtaking view of the Himalayas drenched in golden sunshine in the opposite direction.

That promised view was sleeping snuggly under a thick white blanket.

Hundreds of travelers from across the globe waited and stared into the white abyss. The mist didn’t budge.

Mt. Kanchenjunga is somewhere there…

We were severely disappointed. For the fifth straight day Mt. Kanchenjunga eluded us. As the crowd began dispersing, we caught sight of a few foreign tourists. We pitied them. At least we were still in our country. These folks had come from much farther away. But they were still cheerful. Two of them even held up a large photograph of the mountain range and posed for pictures!

The mist couldn’t dampen their sunny attitude!

We took their cue and brushed our disappointment aside. It was only while we were walking downhill that we took notice of the picturesque route leading to the viewpoint. In the darkness during our ascent and in our hurry to reach the top of the hill, we had missed the flowering trees and the web of prayer flags above the road.

Praying for a good view?

We missed the golden Kanchenjunga, but we walked away with a handful of other memories. Hopefully, one day we can get back up there. For now though, we have a string prayer flags hanging at our doorstep, to remind us of the things we didn’t miss.


This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning.

The nauka


“Do you want to make a boat?” There was a hint of concern in the man’s voice – he seemed to have mistaken our behaviour as a threat to his livelihood.

Up until then, the nawik was quite cheerful. He encouraged us to feed the birds. Another man on another boat sailed by, selling goodies to be fed to the birds. “Don’t worry about polluting the river – the birds will swoop down before it soils the water”, he said, gently steering the boat across the remarkably clean Ganges. The Magh Mela had ended only a fortnight ago, and the temporary docks were still up – being taken down one nail, one plank at a time.

Seeing our keenness to photograph everything around us, and the special attention his boat was getting, he was at first amused, and then a little worried.

We couldn’t help laugh a little and reassured him that we were just fascinated and enjoyed getting up close to the many textures in front of us. We had no intention of making a boat.

Somewhat reassured, he returned to his usual cheery self and continued to row gently. “The other nawiks were interested in showing their muscle and speed at rowing. What’s the point? Why rush? I enjoy myself. Don’t you? You’ve clearly come from far just to see the Sangam*. You would want to spend more time, won’t you?”

We nodded our approval of his thoughts. He offered if we’d like to try our hand at rowing. Of course! He taught us to row and the technique for steering. We both took one oar each and rowed for a while. “I’ll take a picture of you two! You would want to keep this memory.”

We taught him how to use the phone camera and continued to row. He was a good teacher. And rowing was actually fun! After a while he took back the oars. It was, of course, his job!

We soaked in the glow of the golden sun as it began diving into the river and once docked at the ghat, we paid our nauka a tip for the memorable trip.

Here’s one of the many close-up pictures of our nawik’s prized possession – his nauka

Captain hook? One of the metal loops along the edge of the boat.

To see what details other bloggers around the world are clicking, zoom in to this week’s Photo Challenge


Glossary

Nauka: boat
Nawik: boatman
*Sangam: the confluence of three rivers at Allahabad: the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati

Looking up


lookin_up
Looking straight up at one of the towers of the cable-stayed Naini bridge in Allahabad

We look up –
When we yearn for rain,
Or rays of sunshine
And for a silver lining.

We look up –
When we dream,
Or think of the struggle ahead,
And when we succeed.

We look up –
Whether for strength,
Or for hope,
And in glory.


To see what other people around the world are looking up to this week, head up to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge.

Transition


From established comforts
To starting anew

From being a part of one family,
To belonging to two

From the yearly hop between two cities
To a traveling spree

From figuring out two cultures
To switching between three!

From the spoilt n lazy brat
To greater responsibility

From an individual
To managing a team and a family


The image featured above is of “Lovers Meet” – the confluence of the rivers Teesta and Rangeet. The viewpoint is located somewhere between Darjeeling and Gangtok.

Homecoming


The shrines at every street turning.
The fifty square feet kolams.
It looks beautiful.

The yelai sappaadu and the million varieties of everything.
The nongu and manga inji.
It tastes exotic.

The aroma of freshly ground coffee.
The incense and malligai.
It smells heavenly.

The taalams of the kutcheri audience.
The rustling of the Palm trees.
It sounds familiar.

The waves rushing towards me.
The sea breeze and the sand.
It feels like home.


coconut-eyes

“Do you like Delhi or Chennai?” My cousin’s grandfather asked me in a soft childlike voice.

“Both!” I replied.

“No, no, no. I won’t accept that. You have to choose!”

“That’s like asking a child to pick a parent!” I protested.

“Of course! And you must pick one” he replied with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

“Well, I prefer Delhi. But Chennai comes a very very close second.”

He smiled. It was impossible to tell if he was happy with my answer or not.

No matter where you are, or¬†where you’re headed, wishing you a year in the company of friends and family.

As for us, we spent the New Year in both cities ūüôā


Glossary

yelai sappaadu/ilai sappadu: literally, food on a leaf. A traditional platter typically served on a plantain leaf. For a more humorous explanation, check out this video.

nongu: Asian palmyra palm, toddy palm, or sugar palm (in science: Borassus flabellifer)

manga inji: literally, mango ginger.  A variety of ginger that tastes like raw mango (in science: Curcuma amada)

malligai: Jasmine. Ladies adorn their hair with garlands made of Jasmine

taalam: beats of a musical composition

kutcheri: musical performance, typically used with reference to Carnatic classical music. Audiences across Tamil Nadu can often be seen tapping their hands to the rhythm of the musical piece.

Escape


At one of the lakes at Sariska, we spotted a few large birds. I don’t know their names. And unfortunately the one that was nearest to my lens was quick to fly away. I can’t blame her though. I¬†would have done the same in front of a camera!

escape
Hey, wait! I only want to know your name!

Happily, the blogging habit I managed to develop last¬†month is not in much of a hurry to¬†fly away¬†ūüôā

What about you? Has the hangover from the Nano month worn off?