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Book review: PANORAMA

A Collection of Short Stories, Shilpi Chaklanobis

(You could pick up the book here)

Hello folks! I'm alive and kicking. Things have been keeping me busy for a while now, but I promise to write regularly very soon. Meanwhile, I've been reading a variety of books, mostly political and fiction. And in between a bit of one particular heavy reading (which I still haven't been able to complete- a book on the Emergency by Coomi Kapoor), I chanced upon this book, Panorama, A Collection of Short Stories, by Shilpi Chaklanobis. I decided to give it a try, and yea, I liked it.

A summer sunset

A quick post! Over the past few weeks, I haven't been able to dedicate much time to this space, owing to more pressing matters, both personally and professionally. However, I'm making it a habit to write down in my journal as often as possible, so as to make a record of my thoughts, which have been quite interesting. 
With this post, I hope to resume writing posts at-least twice a week, starting today! This picture was taken in my village in the Summer. It was a clear evening, and the sky was spotless. The setting sun against the horizon made of various palms made for a very pretty picture. The tiny glistening lake looked nice too.

See also:Summer Activity: Mango Picking!Summer Sky

(Find more pictures of the sky from across the globe, HERE)

Srimath Anantheshwar Temple, Manjeshwar

Srimath Anantheshwar Temple at Manjeshwar village, just outside the Karnataka-Kerala border, is a temple dedicated to Shesha or Ananta, the serpent God. This is one of the earliest temples belonging to the Gowda Saraswat Brahmins, and the history dates back to almost the 8th century. This is a tiny sleepy village, which my Grandma says, has remained largely the same as she can remember from her childhood. 

The temple is built in the typical style inherent to this part of Canara. It was renovated a few years back; best efforts were made to retain the old world charm, and they did. Why this temple intrigues me so much, is the number of stories, beliefs, and anecdotes associated with this temple. I've grown up listening to Grandma telling me stories from her childhood, how they'd go to the temple for lunch escaping from school and get caught there, how they'd wait for tasty evening snacks and paanak to be served, etc. 

See also:Sri Venkatramana Temple, Mangalore

The temple is si…

Monsoon Magic!

Monsoons bring out the best of nature. Everything around turns lush green. And on those rare days when the sun shines through the clouds, the green looks glamorous! Sharing a set of pictures taken during our last monsoon trip to Goa. This was shot by the national highway 17 between Panaji and Madgaon, when we were driving to Martin's Corner for lunch.

Hoysala Art: a Mash-up!

Epilogue
Though I thought I'd concluded the series on Hoysala temples, I realised I had too many pictures left, and some key observations to note. I realise I've waxed enough eloquent on the stone work and the intricate designs. In this post, I'd just like to point out three central themes the carvings are based on. This also gives a rough idea about the lavish lives the kings might have led. The courts would have been filled with musicians and dancers. There might have been elaborate rituals held to please the Gods- so that the kingdom flourishes and the royal coffers jingle! There might have been a lot of feuds and wars with the neighboring kingdoms, so as to conquer and lengthen the boundaries of the kingdom. One can only imagine the loud war cries of the elephants charging into the battle field, horses rushing past at full speed, with the rider trying to dislodge the neighbour from his horse, and yea, the bloodshed in the field with limbs and heads strewn about! It is w…

Spirit Worship: Jumadi-Banta Kola

I had earlier written a post titled Of Daivas and Spirits, about a custom indigenous to this part of the coast- Spirit Worship. As mentioned earlier, these spirits are many, including Panjurli, Varthe, Guliga, Jumadi - Banta, Mantradevate, etc. There is a very interesting story behind these spirits, which you can read HERE.
Of the many rituals conducted to appease the spirits, the most colourful (and glamorous) is conducting a Bhoota Kola. This is a night long ceremony to invoke the spirit(s) concerned, which then occupies an Oracle temporarily, and can even converse with people through a mediator. The Kola season lasts for about 4-5 months, i.e December to May. 
Earlier this year, we decided to visit a Kola held in at our village. This particular one is conducted in a grand manner every year, and is thronged by people of the surrounding villages. The spirits invoked are Jumadi - Banta. The place was beautifully decorated. Lot of musicians and drummers were involved. The silver headgear…

Bhagsunag, Dharamshala

On our whirlwind trip to Dharmashala, one day early in the morning we went to the Bhagsunag temple there. The vistas that unfolded were splendid, with the sky throwing up different patterns and shades by the minute. A friendly 'paw-shaking' canine was also around. And watching the rising sun light up the place felt wonderful.

Old Port, Mangalore

With the arrival of June, fishing is suspended in the district. This helps in two ways- to help the fish breed in peace, and to prevent accidents in the stormy seas during the monsoons. The old port, which now serves as a harbour for the fishing boats that venture into the deep sea, is usually a buzzing place with lots of activity going on. However, in this season, it wears a pretty deserted look, as can be seen in the photos below. The amount and variety of fish available is also limited, as whatever little put up far sale comes from the little boats that don't go very far. We went to the old port today to pick some prawn. It was nice to watch the sky changing from a bright clear blue to dull cloudy grey, over a span of ten minutes.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

Writing a book review after a really long time. I did read a few in the past months, but the number of books that I'd hoped to read by mid-year is much less than what I have, owing to various reasons.
I finished this book today, and boy, what a thriller! This one is an un-put-downable crime thriller. No spoilers ahead, I wouldn't want to spoil the fun for anyone.

A Jumbo Bath!

When we visited the temple at Guruvayur, we also visited the attached elephant sanctuary close by. This place houses a large number of these gentle giants. Here, they are taught various activities, besides being pampered with massage and bath everyday. It's nice to watch them lying down without a care in the world, while three to four people clamber tending to them. Sharing a few pictures here.

A Slice of the Western Ghats: AGUMBE

Agumbe is a tiny village in Shimoga district, and part of the eco-sensitive zone of the Western Ghats, the lifeline of the coast. The region receives very heavy rainfall, and is also referred to as the Cherrapunji of the South. The region has lush beautiful rain forests, and is also home to a number of unique flora and fauna, indigenous to the zone. The enigmatic King Cobra also resides in the in the thick rainforests.

Wall Art at Doddagaddavalli

Part 10 The air feels very fresh today; gives a feeling of having rained the previous night, or maybe it's just the clean village air. The caretaker of this temple is a talkative, and a very accommodating guy. He tells us to take our time seeing the temple as long we'd like to. The shape of the temple externally is a little confusing. I've actually walked around twice before realising I have done so! And as expected (which sounds like a rhetoric to me even as I'm writing this), every bit of the wall is carved. The gopurum is not very high, but again, carved. And like the temple at Mosale, the carvings with the detailed features are fairly well preserved. Perks of not being very popular, probably. 

Summer Sky

The Summer of 2016 was so hot, we didn't spend much time outdoors. However, we'd visit the village in the evenings. Though humidity would still bother us, pictures like these were refreshing. These pictures were taken on one such visit; the sky was absolutely clear without a speck of cloud. We had a great time picking mangoes that evening!

Breaking the monotony: Stay-cation!

Stay-at-home + Vacation = Stay-cation.
Due to various reasons and a cancelled vacation, at the end of last year, I had a few 'leaves' remaining, that would lapse if not availed. But then, the last quarter of the year had been so busy, I hadn't planned anything. Being festival and holiday season, last minute planning wasn't possible too. So what do I do?
Stay-cation. I remember laughing at the prospect a year ago. Who would want to use their precious leave from work, to just do nothing at home? But at the end of the last year, since I did not have anything better planned, I decided to give this concept a try. And I did like it more than I expected.

Qutb Minar in Monochrome

Qutb Minar, the iconic monument of Delhi, on a warm November afternoon, against the sun.

Vistas enroute Pahalgam

On our Kashmir vacation, we spent a considerable amount of time on road. Looking back, I now realise this is the part of the trip I loved the most, more than visiting any "must-visit" place! Both Dad and me love going on road-trips, as you get to learn a lot about the place. That apart, you also get to experience great views. In Kashmir, thanks to the hostile weather (and political?) conditions, the state of the roads in many areas isn't very good. There are some really rough patches that need to be carefully manoeuvred across. And driving slowly also means being able to click away to my heart's content. Continuing with the forty shades series, here are a few pictures that were clicked en route Pahalgam
Forty shades ofgreen

Why so serious?

(Picture sourced from HERE)
It's almost like I've been waiting to write this piece. So, who's that one movie character who has inspired me or managed to leave a mark? I'm not a huge movie buff. However, there are a few characters that have left a lasting imprint. And amongst all characters, the one that stands out is the Joker, played by Heath Ledger. Yes, he's a comic book character (and not strictly a movie character per se) played by an actor, but how! He exudes evil, pure unadulterated evil. Each time I watch him on screen, I get goosebumps. 
And why would a negative character influence me so much? Well, if one were to cut the negativity out, and concentrate only on his dialogues, would it not make so much more sense in the present day, than probably even Batman himself? Most thoughts are so pragmatic. Many of these seem to strike the right chord, more than what the ever-right superhero would say. Here are some of his thoughts  that I love the most. 

Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli

Part 9 
The temple at Mosale leaves us wondering how many more such hidden gems are spread out across Hassan, and India at large. The architectural genius has left us awestruck. It is still early to start our journey back home though. So we decide to visit another Hoysala temple, at a village called Doddagaddavalli (try pronouncing that fast!). It is in a totally different direction from Mosale, on the way to Belur. So we head back to Hassan, and drive further on to Doddagaddavalli. 
The drive is a nice one again, though not as beautiful as the one to Mosale. We again pass through old villages, and also some hilly terrain. At one point our path is blocked by a huge crowd approaching us- a herd of sheep! The man minding the herd looks fresh in a crisp white dhoti

Shivaji Maharaj, Mumbai

This picture of the statue of Shivaji Maharaj, opposite Gateway of India, Mumbai, was taken on a hot Summer day, four years back. Being surrounded by lush frangipani and other flowering trees, the statue looks nice. If you look straight into the horse's eyes, it almost feels like he's charging at you! Most people miss it, since everyone heads straight to the Gateway, without looking around much. This place is worth stopping by. 
Read also:The Gateway Stands TallNana Chudasama's Pearls

National Highway 17

This is the stretch of the national highway 17 (now called NH 66) beyond Suratkal, at a village called Pavanje, where the backwaters of river Nandini run by the highway. Watching the sunset from here over the river is a pleasant experience. NH 17 is a wonderful route that passes through picturesque locales- rivers, by the sea, paddy fields, lush thick forests, and pretty little villages. Plan a roadtrip via this highway soon, and make sure to stop and savour such pretty sights!

(For more pictures from around the world, click HERE)

A Slice of Rural Mangalore

FortyShadesMore!
Last evening we'd been to our village for a Spirit Worship ritual. The drive was quite smooth, save for a particular moment where I braked all of a sudden, to save a small snake slithering slowly on the tar road. I got quite a shouting for it! In the past few days, the village had seen showers, and everything had turned green. Patches of grass were seen by the road, and the parched countryside looked hungry for more. There was a peacock strutting rather proudly in the middle of the road. 
By the time we reached the village, dusk was falling and the sun had disappeared behind the trees that make the horizon at the edge of our fields. There were lot of heavy clouds too, and the evening light filtering through them looked glorious. As the sun went down, the colours kept changing. In a span of just fifteen minutes, I lost count of the number of hues that appeared; it was as if there was an artist sitting on the other side and secretly painting the sky! Below are a few p…

'Mosale banthu Mosale'

Part 8
Mosale is what a crocodile is called in Kannada. Now I don't know why this village is named so. Maybe the village pond had a lot of crocs earlier, and the village itself came to be named Mosale? The title represents the Kannada version of the The Boy Who Cried Wolf, where the wolf is replaced by the crocodile. (Banthu = Came)

Sky Fall!

I found myself longing for monsoons, and posted a few pictures from last year, yesterday. Well, it looks like peoples' prayers are being heard, and today we found dark clouds gathering slowly. I shot these pictures a few minutes ago; the sky looked so pretty from my balcony, I immediately rushed up to the terrace. What a clash of colours in the sky! Continuing with my Forty Shades series, here are a few photos, of the sky today. 


Fortyshadesofthesky!

Monsoon '15

Last year the Monsoon was quite deficient, and we are facing the repercussions this year. Even a coastal city like Mangalore, which is surrounded by so many rivers is gripping with major water issues. Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink! From the past three days, it's been raining briefly in the evenings, with isolated thundershowers. Hoping for good rains this year, I found myself going through the photos from last monsoon, and found these hidden away. Sharing a few here.
Clouds loom large over the countryside

Getting Fishy at Fort Kochi!

Anyone who goes to Kochi would take time off to visit Fort Kochi, to see the famous Chinese fishing nets. On my first visit six years ago, since our schedule was packed and we had just about an hour to spare, and we couldn't spend much time there. We had just enough time to visit the St. Francis Church, and pose for a few photos with these nets in the background! And I remember planning then to make a second visit soon.
The next time we were in Kochi, we rectified our earlier mistake, and spent a considerable amount of time just walking about Fort Kochi. I wanted to see how these unique contraptions work. The history behind these installations is not very clear, with theories that these were introduced by early Chinese traders, or sailors from Kochi who traded with the East, or it might have been the Portuguese settlers too. And these continue to be used even today.

The Drive to Mosale

Part 7 Day 2 arrives fresh and sunny. We skeptically switch on the TV and get to know India has beaten Pak (yay!). When we had started from home, the rough plan was to visit Shravanbelagola and then head back, since this was a visit of just two days, and extending the weekend was out of question, owing to other commitments. 
However, going to Shravanbelagola means walking up hundreds of steps. Driving back after that would be quite strenuous. We decide to give it a skip. Luckily I have googled a bit earlier (and gone through a few blogs, especially THIS one). Also, instead of the typical Belur-Halebidu-Shravanabelagola circuit, we want to visit some lesser known places in the district. Therefore, we decide to visit a village named Mosale, where the Nageshvara-Chennakeshava Temple complex is located. 

Summer Activity: Mango Picking!

Everyone knows how bad the Indian Summer can get, and this year is no different. It's getting worse by the day, and everyone is hoping for the arrival of a good monsoon. So is there anything good at all about the Summer, apart from school vacations? Of course, Mangoes! The golden, juicy, sweet fruit is one of the best things about the harsh Summer. I remember as kids (and even now), how we'd gorge on these delicious fruits throughout the day- be it at breakfast or lunch or dinner. Not to forget the various mango-based recipes. 

Last weekend, my Grand-aunt called to inform that the large tree at the edge of our field had a lot of mangoes this year, and every morning 20-25 ripe ones could be found under the tree from the past week. We wasted no time, and set off to try and pick some. This was my first such experience of picking mangoes, and boy, wasn't I excited!

Mangalore: A Snapshot

What Mangalore looks like, on a hot humid day, with the sun burning down our necks. This is the view from my place of work, and we periodically tear our eyes away from the computer, to gaze at the blue shining sea in the distance!
(Find more pictures from across the globe, HERE)

Forty Shades of Pink!

On my trip to Kashmir, one of the things that struck me through the trip was the varied colours of flowers, in the various Mughal Gardens across the place. There were simply so many. Amongst the different colours, I liked the various hues of pink the most. I had never been a fan of photographing flowers in macro, but on seeing the stunning colours, I went berserk!  With floral prints making a comeback this summer, sharing a set of photographs, what I've dubbed, Forty ShadesofPink!

Sri Venkatramana Temple, Carstreet, Mangalore

Today's post is 'hometown special', considering I've only been putting up stories on places from across the State and not put up anything based on Mangalore in a while.

Mangalore used to be a charming old town, with narrow lanes and streets. And then came development, and old tile houses made way for swanky new malls. And looking at the way things are going, one cannot predict where we're headed to. I'm not against development, but then it's equally important to make an active effort to retain the essence of each place.
One area in Mangalore that still partly is similar to what it used to be many many years ago is Carstreet. One can still find vendors selling traditional street snacks, sugar-cane juice being made in the hand-turned machines, old men sitting and gossiping under the Peepal tree ("ashvatha katte"). And standing at the head of it all, is Sri Venkatramana Temple. The yearly 'car festival' (kodial theru) held in the first quarter …

The Old Town: Halebidu

Part 6
After having had our fill of studying the stone-work at Belur, we set off to Halebidu, which in Kannada, translates to old city. There is a direct road to Halebidu from Belur, and is just 10 kms away. However we have been advised not to take this road as it is under repair. And my Dad being a stickler for good roads, doesn't mind driving the extra mile. Therefore, we come back to a village called Hagare, and then take a deviation to reach Halebidu.
By the time we reach Halebidu, it is too hot and bright for comfort. Getting out of the car feels like climbing into a furnace, straight from a refrigerator. I spot a jacaranda tree close by with very pretty purple coloured flowers, which look glorious against the blue sky.

Karanji Lake, Mysore

This is the Karanji Lake in Mysore, located close to Mysore Zoo. It is a large water body, with a nice park attached. There is a walk-through bird aviary too. This is a perfect spot to unwind in Mysore, and is usually less crowded than the other tourist attractions in the city.

Mario Miranda, Goa's Art Maverick

(Picture sourced from here) Mário João Carlos do Rosário de Brito Miranda.  Or simply, Mario Miranda. The name brings fond memories of every vacation spent in the place I love- Goa! He created a style of art depicting scenes from routine day-to-day life, with a touch of humour. And this style went on to become so popular, you can find it anywhere (urgh! Plagiarism!), including cute little Azulejo paintings sold at various tourist spots across Goa. The Wikipedia page on him says how he was asked by the then owner of one of South Bombay's iconic cafes, Cafe Mondegar to create something for the bare walls of the eatery. And he created pieces that went on to become very popular. On one side the cartoons depict the essence of Bombay, and on the other side, the scene is typical of that at Mondys'. Everything is summed up in two words, the spirit that makes this great city run, Salaam Bombay!