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Yet another Mumbai Holiday

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I thought I am fed of Mumbai. But every time I come to this city I meet new people and have new experiences…From racing with the “Papey ji” to narrow escapes on Mumbai roads, from Football with local raudy boys to Biking with good old friend Aditya and interesting observations about my very own city. I think I can very well write a thesis on it.

Listening to the tales of young boys of 12 I feel at times they are advanced in so many respects ( censored :P)…I must have been countless times to Marine Drive and no wonder this one street represents Mumbai completely.From Love birds by the sea, Chana Jor garam , Jazz Bar, fancy street cars to beautiful cityscape it all dazzles and certainly sparkles after a mug of beer…

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Perhaps last few clicks in college

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Last sem could be my last semester since I might not go back to campus. These were some last clicks for BITS Pilani’s placement brochure. It is been a great journey and hope I return back…

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Kutiyattam@BITS Pilani

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Last semester SPICMACAY organized an yet another beautiful classical dance performance. This time Kutiyattam. I have never heard of Kutiyattam so I was curious.

It is the most oldest Sanskrit theatre art form surviving for 2000 years now. It is traditionally performed in Kerala and has been recognized by UNESCO as the Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The word means combined acting and has been used for temple worship as a theatrical dance performance.  Kudiyattam face make up is similar to Kathakali but in Kudiyatttam female roles or done by women only unlike Kathakali where men do both parts.

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I reached 10 minutes late and by then I could see the audience was already captivated and sat clapping every now and then. It didn’t take seconds to realize that it was a great show. More than the physical movements of the bodies the stories were conveyed using the facial expressions and eyes. She really held the pace of every one’s heart by her slow moves. Towards the end of show I realized how much little I know of India’s great culture and its art forms.

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Holi in Vrindavan

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Holi the festival of colours is perhaps India’s most favourite festival only after Diwali. Although it is celebrated throughout India but nothing equals the zeal and fervour of Vrindvan’s Holi. People from far flung countries come here to witness the pomp and enthusiasm with which it is celebrated. Undoubtedly it is the best place in World to be during Holi.

How to Reach Virndawan: Vrindawan could be reached from Mathura(U.P.) in 20 minutes by a tempo. Mathura is well-connected by road and railways to Agra and Delhi. With busses and trains plying every hour from either stations.

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After having a series of tests and weeks of hectic schedule Holi served to be the perfect and most dreaded escape from insanity to sainthood. For last two days I had just 6 and half hours of sleep because of two consecutive tests. But I was as fresh as a dew on a flower due to the excitement of the trip. We started on 18 March. We were three guys. We missed our bus at 1.40 as one guy came late. So we reached Delhi at around 7.30 pm. Then to fill our stomachs we went to the ‘Paratha waali Gali’. It is a narrow alley at Chadni Chowk with 4-5 shops just serving different ‘Parathas’. Though having limited cuisine it is immensely famous all over India for its delicious food. Even our late Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi used to come here with her family to enjoy the mouth-watering parathas meted by these small shops. But we were in for a shock to see stuffed ‘Puries’ instead of Parathas. Nevermind we ate it. It was good but not up to the hype and it definitely doesn’t conform to even the basic practices of hygiene.

After stuffing our stomachs we rushed to New Delhi railway station only to find that there was no trains for Mathura and the first train is at 7 am. So we were left stranded at the Delhi station. As we sat by the pavement one of us three started cribbing and crying out incessantly that the trip planning was bad and that nothing was happening to the plan. This was the very same guy who had come late. He unable to understand that we had no plan but the destination and hopes of amazing holi of Vrindawan in mind. Moreover this kind of journey was our idea of having fun. While he flipped on us we couldn’t do anything but laugh on him for being such a cry baby. Having lived a  life protected by parents throughout his life  he was surely out-of-place here. Fortunately upon enquiry  we got to know that there is a train from Hazrat Nizammudin, Delhi’s old railway station at 4.30 am, so we rushed there. Upon reaching there we found a nice café called Cumsum with amazing ambience and crowd. The place is buzzing with activity throughout the night. While we relaxed there the Cry baby also pacified upon watching the babes :). Finally our luck came back and we got the reservation to sleeper class hour before trains arrival.

To be continued…

Holi in Vrindawan, Day 2 of trip…

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The cry baby by this time had decided to go back to Pilani but as soon we got the reservation to Mathura he changed his mind. So again we hopped on to the train and moved closer and closer to our destination with every train whistle.  We reached Mathura station at 7.30 am and had ‘Dahi-Jalebi’ and Kachori in breakfast. We catched a tempo to take us to Krsna Janamasthali at Mathura. It is believed to be the birth place of Lord Krsna by Hindus.

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The temple is huge and with security greater than even at an airport. What is remarkable is the temple shares wall with an elegant mosque built by Mughal ruler Jehangir.  The mosque is called the Juma or Jama masjid and was built by Nabir Khan then governor of Aurangjeb adjacent to the temple complex of Lord Krishna. Since Hindu and Muslim riots during Independence,  it has been a craddle of trouble and tension between Hindu and Muslim. But if you now look at it in a broader way it is the perfect embodiment of confluence Hindu & Muslim traditions and its coexistence. It presents a unique example of religious tolerance and magananimity which still holds India of such stark differences and gigantic proportions. Although there remain elements from time to time who try to disrupt the harmony. What people often present that temples were brought down by Muslim despots in India due to religious bigotry is debatable. As it is widely accepted that Mughal adopted Indian traditions and allowed religions of all faith to propagate. Akbar was a great patron of art and had numerous Hindus in his court. Only person to fall out of line is perhaps Aurangzed who is associated with Vandalism of temples. But even Aurangzeb never carried out the persecution of non-Muslims. A thing widely common in civilised Europe throughout the history. Whatever may be the history, to based our actions today in mistakes of our past is fraught with doom. First we gave up our lives to have Independence and now we end lives to spoil the very fruit we have now. Such is the destructive nature of humans!

We then headed to Vishal’s Guruji’s Ashram in Vrindawan. As soon as our tempo entered the town it was engulfed with enthusiastic and zealous people of Vrindawan showering dry colours on everyone. Their zeal filled our hearts with joy and we knew straightway that we were at the right place. By the time we reached Guruji’s Ashram we were all pink faced with colours.

The Ashram was a nice building with good rooms. It looked more like a guest house than an Ashram. The receptionist was  an eccentric and mischievous old man who narrated his colourful youth life with great pride. His stories left us embarrassed.

In the evening we went out on the streets and headed towards Banke Bihari and Radha Swamy temple. There was a maddening crowd on the streets all coloured and dying to have a glimpse of Banke Bihari ( Lord Krishna ). I had wrapped my camera with many layers of polythene to avoid the water and then jumped into the crowd to take pictures. I think this was the most dangerous of all situations for my loyal camera. The excitement and the craze can only be experienced by being at Vrindawan and is beyond words. If you haven’t been to Vrindawan you haven’t witnessed how Bhakti can be give you a high unparalleled by the any booze. Like me there were hundreds of shutterbugs. I felt sorry for my camera after seeing there imported rain bags for camera. It was foolhardy to use my camera like that but it paid.

The streets were lined with best of northern India’s Chat cuisine and were as delicious as their sight was mouth watering. Vishal was craving to try everything and so was I. So we gorged on as much of variety we can stuff in our stomach.  While coming back we met a German with whom we instantly struck a chord and promised each other that we will enjoy the next day together. We decided to meet at 4.30 pm. Unfortunately none of us woke up. I wonder whether the guy came and waited for us…

Konkan Ecstasy- Raigarh Fort

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After a long haul from the blogosphere and the world of photography, I am back to this scape with a new tale of my adventures in the pristine wilderness of the Konkan reaches and beaches. What started out to be as a roadtrip of 6 friends turned out to be photographically delightful experience ending in a high note with fists and fury:P ( thanks to Raghav and Aniket). Overtime I have come to realise that a trip can’t be photographically fruitful when I go out with non photograher friends, but this one trip has made me to believe otherwise. 

From the outset we wanted it to be a no girl trip for practical and other reasons. We didn’t want to spend to much money 😛 and second the kind of fun we had planned would be deterred with the presence of girls we know. So here we were, 6 handsome shaggy lads with a rucksack on their back and with distant and yet familiar hope of breaking free from their hectic college life. Last few months were no less than a sordid prison life with torments of tests every other day. Although I was in constant denial with myself and to others of my ragged state, I badly needed to escape. thankfully I had sovoured the dark days and had done well so I was more eager for my holiday than my other friends who by now had lucartive offers with handome salaires in their kitty. 

The journey took off from Panvel, Navi Mumbai bus stand. We catched the bus to Mahad where we had to meet our guide to Raigad fort, our first destination. Once a majestic fort built by Maharaj Shivaji it now lies in a dilapidated condition but there are enough remains emodiment of a glorious history. Raigarh was Shivaji’s capital and it is this very fort from where the helms of affairs of Maratha kingdom were handled. The fort is 820 m from the sea level and has 1400 -1450 steps leading to it. Our guide has a Phd done on this very fort and could imitate sounds of almost all the birds dwelling around the fort apart from knowing a great deal about local flora and fauna. But, by large, the guide was a nuissance as he kept stopping us every time a tiny structure  came by our way which was irritating to most of us save Prabhav and Aniket… :). Prabhav is an afficianado  of Maratha culture and would not tolerate any nonsense being said even with slightest humour against it. Prabhav’s fervour appeased Aniket’s self respect of being a “Maratha Manus” and they were together endorsing the same view. I am sure Aniket can’t forget the conversation we had by the rocks under the lamp post that night.

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After reaching the summit we all were tired and hungry. Aniket using his fluent Marathi instantly convinced a local boy to arrange food at his home for a meager 20 rupees per person. That dinner still remains as a fond memory. We didn’t expect anything lavish but the house turned out to be one of the most humble houses I have ever been to. Roof was so low that we had to almost crawl to get into it and the food was cooked using a cow dung cake fire. There was no exhaust no window. If one stands in there he will asphyxiate himself with smoke. But we soon adjusted after sitting on the floor. The woman offered us Pitla and Bhakri which I had never tasted before. Bhakri is a roti made out of rice and Pitla from pulse flour. Food was not good but it was different and we quietly ate and asked for more our host’s sake. After the dinner we all huddled together under the roof inorder to sleep as it was open from two sides and cold air was gushing in from one side. Somehow we managed it but Aniket enjoyed it thoroughly as he was all over some stranger sleeping at some distance from us :).

The next day in the morning we went sightseeing all the points on Raigharh fort. Interestingly Prabhav and Aniket didn’t come with us as they were hanging out with our cool guide. While we enjoyed exploring the place ourselves they enjoyed themselves by listening to glorious tales of the fort and Shivaji Maharaj. At around 12 am we started our descent of the hill. I, being the braggart, take great pride in descending the 1450 steps in 16 min though no way close to the record of 8 min. While desceding at almost running speed you loose control over your legs after some time and you have to stop not because you are tired but you don’t want to give in to the whims of your legs else down you go. Nikhil finished second in 20 min. Prabhav was the last to come down after full 45 min.

Mumbai, me and my camera

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Mumbai the economic capital of India, a hustling and bustling city supporting lives of billions of Indians directly or indirectly elicits patriotism among all Mumbaikars unlike any other city. Imagining India without it is perhaps the most flimsy thought that can occur to any. I, like millions of die hard Mumbaikars, am in love with this city and can uphold its prestige in any ” My city is better” arguments.

Roaming around the streets of Mumbai and trying to capture the best of this city has been a long cherished dream of long now. But every time I am in this city I wait for the right time and temperament to develop so I can do justice to its beauty. Mumbai is this muse which makes me timorous because like every other artist I want it to be my magnum opus. So mostly I go berserk in flurry of excitement and take few shots now and then while hanging out with friends… This summer I planned to capture Mumbai working its Monsoon magic but first ek machar & then ek vada-pav incapacitated me to bed. But I still managed one day with Nikhil ( new Kid on the block- he is a non resident Mumbai fan). We got down on the rocks from the Worli sea face and enjoyed the chopping waves with piercing winds against our faces. It is remarkable how a little bear and sea can lit our countenance…

So as we went fooling around we were not even two but three guys gaping at files of couples snuggly warming each other. Respecting their privacy we stole some of their moments for our camera 🙂

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