Sunday, August 24, 2008

Religious weekend

I recently got back from a super-religious trip planned by my dad. We went to practically every temple in our native village and a few others. I was initially really not keen on going, but in a way I realise that it was nice to see where I come from atleast once before I leave for London. I obviously did not enjoy the religious part of it. My thoughts on that in my next post perhaps... but the travelling bit was wonderful. So this is a brief note on some interesting parts of my journey...

We were waiting at plaform no.5 of Thane station to catch the late night Siddheshwar express to Solapur and we were standing patiently next to this food stall at the far end of the plaform.....Thats when I noticed something

I wasnt carrying a camera, so this picture taken from my phone isn't good, but notice that greyish blur somewhere near the bottom of the white plastic bag in the top compartment ? THAT blur is actually a hyper-active mouse. I was shocked !!!!! Then within a few seconds I saw another one happily nibbling onto the packets in that upper glass compartment. I couldnt resist. I had to go and tell the person running the stall.

Me (in a very low tone) : Bhaiyya, aapke oopar wale compartment mein 2 choohe hain.

Him : Haan madam. Maloom hai. Kya kar sakta hai hum ?

Me : Aapko maloom hai aur aap kuch nahi kar rahe ?

Him : Kya karega madam ? Hum nikaal ke bahar fekta hai, phir bhi waapas aata hai.

Me : Abhi to nikaal deejiye naa. Nahi to kuch chooha marne ki dawai daal do wahan pe

Him : Kaise madam ? Galti se dawai khaane mein ghus gaya aur customer mar gaya, to mereko hi pakdenge naa ?


Me : Acha, to jab jab ho sake nikaalte rahiye aur ek "mouse-trap" wahan par daal deejiye ( I didnt know what the Hindi word was for that)

Anyway, I didnt know what more to say to him, my train was arriving on the platform. My advice to you - Unless you intentionally want to fall sick, dont bother eating at stalls like these. Who knows, there might've been more mice in there...

Anyway, I couldnt sleep the entire night in the train coz some idiots were snoring away to glory. Not one, but three people were snoring...It was very rythmic, no doubt, but so very disturbing. No sleep.

Reached Tuljhapur the next morning. That's where our 'kul-devi' is. Visited the temple....Took hours n hours to enter the sanctum sanctorum and it was a completely un-religious, un-spiritual experience for me. If anything, I was horrified, because people were throwing away banana peels inside the temple as if it were a garbage dump and there were paan stains everywhere. If this is what it means to be religious, then I do not want any part of it. Some pictures from the Tuljha Bhavani temple :

A lot of people do this at this temple. It's some form of devotion I guess. I've never been inclined to do so. My idea of prayer is quite different from this.

I do not like the way they slap the haldi and kumkum onto your forehead. Even if you do manage to form some sort of connection with God inspite of the crowd, the paan stains, the banana peels and the waiting, this completely kills it. My connection with God at this temple = Zero

This is what Tuljhapur looks like :

Nice town. I like the cows sitting right in the middle of the road...

That very evening we headed to Bijapur - my native place.

Paan stains on the inside of the bus that I was travelling in. Is it really so difficult to understand that spitting is disgusting ?

The landscapes however were beautiful. I felt great simply looking out of the window. I love this one especially...all the greenery with the sugarcane fields in the background.

A few pictures from Bijapur :

Buffaloes...It's very easy to spot them.

Little black pigs. I think they're adorable !!! They are all over the place. You can find them everywhere and if you're not too careful, in your house too ;)

Check out the spelling :)

Auto rickshaws run without meters in Bijapur.

Cows lazing around in the middle of the street :)

I like these pictures, not because they're funny or anything, but because they remind me of a simpler life. It feels nice to be free of complications, rules etc etc once in a while. I wouldn't advocate too much of it though.

Some other interesting pictures :

The glittery things that you see on that suspended tray are slippers. It is believed that these slippers were actually worn by Hanuman at one point of time. This is in one of the Hanuman temples in Halagani.

It is said that you should wish for something and then hold this stone with both hands. If the stone turns to the right, your wish will come true. If it turns to the left, you wish will not be fulfilled...And if it doesnt move, it implies that your wish will come true but after a long long wait.

I loved this !!! This was a Shiva temple in Shivgiri with this huge structure. It looks really elegant and dignified.

Thats all for now. I have one other temple to visit in Basar which will be a few weeks from now. That would officially complete my religious adventures before I leave for London...4 weeks more to go :)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Birthday Blues

It’s official now. I don’t like my birthdays anymore. For some inexplicable reason, I feel miserable during my birthday. Today was supposed to be a fun day, to meet with friends, catch up and simply enjoy myself...but I didn’t. For reasons unknown, I was feeling extremely low and was in no mood to enjoy. Even yesterday was alright, nothing special. I thought birthdays were supposed to be fun, something that one should look forward to and be excited about. What is it with me and birthdays ?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Happy IWE Anniversary !!!

Dear All,

It has been 4 years since that wonderful experience. The IWE was without doubt the best thing to happen to me ever… And even inspite of having some interesting experiences over the past 4 years, the IWE is still my favourite memory of all.

As clich├ęd as this might sound, for me the IWE was a journey of self discovery. Every decision that I’ve made since then has been influenced by the way I shaped up as a person at the IWE in South Africa..... and I cannot be grateful enough for it. I never realised that this was happening, but it was indeed. The best things that have happened to me in these 4 years have been greatly influenced by the IWE and the things I learnt there.

The best part about the IWE ? The people I met. I can’t believe that we’re still in touch after so long, inspite of the distance and prolonged silence. All of you made me see things from a different perspective and I had something to learn from every single one of you.

To Harini and Gini – It’s surprising that all 3 of us are so very different and yet we get along so well. The unusual friendship that we’ve grown to discover over these years is something I will truly cherish.....And also, the fact that the 3 of us are still in touch with Fran makes me feel so happy :)

To everyone whom I’ve met since the IWE – Bea, Nithiya, Gini, Rachel, Chiharuko and Hyunmin – when I met you guys, it was the happiest I had felt in years.....And when I had to say goodbye yet again, it felt horrible !

To all 51 of you– Harini, Gini, Beatrice, Cheung, Panda, Esther, Cathy, Cedric, Kit, Kimmey, Hyunmin, Minsueng, Jung yoon, Nithiya, Rachel, Kelene, Shadwin, Neo, Liezle, Tsheki, Tshego, Pommie, Richy, Didi, Bee, Rea, Tintin, Ashley, Gayle, Nicole, Emma, Sophia, Kintan, Frisda, Teddy, Benz, Mareya, Pim, Sarah, Ahmed, Long, Ming, Grace, Violette, Chiharuko, Shie, Tappei, Holly, Max, Dung and Huong – I miss you all very much and “Ek us life vir jao”

And of course to complete the Ubungani family – Hanneke, Johan , Zuzette, Pieter, Luzego, Tracey and Marijtie - I wish that someday I’ll be back in the South African wilderness, sitting by the campfire, singing and talking to all of you.

Love xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

PS : NokShanti is still the best. Undisputable :)