How can I think of wrapping up the 2013 retrospective without talking about books? This has been a year when I have (sort of) caught up with my reading. I have never, ever, been without a book in my hand. But, over the years, my reading had reduced, and recently, had been restricted to reading for Samhith, and thanks to buying more books for him, I have bought fewer for myself. The change began some time in 2012, but 2013 upped the pace. I began receiving more books for reviewing, till, eventually, I had to refuse some, since I didn't have enough time to read! It has been an interesting journey, reading books I probably wouldn't have bought, reading authors I had never heard of, genres I would tend to avoid, and in the process, re-discovering the love I have for the written word.
The year began on a festive note with the much awaited Kala Ghoda Fest. When I clicked this photo of one of the installations, little did I know how important a part cycles and the city would play in the coming year!
I have lived in Mumbai for almost 30 years, and, having wandered around freely and happily, thought I knew the city well. It is only this year that I realised how little I knew about it, especially its hidden secrets. One of the first revelations was a visit to Sewri with the Travel-Logs, who opened my eyes to the incredible history which remains unknown to most of its inhabitants. The Parel Shiva Heptad
The Goa I have seen, twice, is the Goa of the travel brochures - the Churches, the Beaches, the seemingly never ending stretch of the sand and the sea. When I took Samhith and my mother to Goa this time, we saw all those too, for the simple reason that it was all new for them!
Since the last few days, I have been reminiscing on the blog about the year gone by. Today, for the special occasion of Christmas, I am taking the reminiscing a bit further, going back to the wonderful X mas we spent last year, at Shimla!
If Wayanad was an eye opening trip, Mysore was sheer bliss. Continuing our Mom and Son vacation at the Heritage city, the zoo was easily the highlight of the trip! While Samhith was fascinated by the Jaguar, it was a Russel's Viper that he eventually adopted, as part of the zoo's admirable animal adoption programme.
Our trip to Wayanad was probably the 'Trip of the year'! To begin with, it was partly sponsored by Thomas Cook, and it was a new experience for me, to have someone plan my trip! Second, and more importantly, this was the very first time Samhith and I went on a vacation alone! And finally, Wayanad itself was so unexpected, it was truly a journey of discovery! From the Indian Rock Python we saw in the wild...
Our trip to Coorg was on a sudden impulse. Three short days were nowhere near enough to do justice to the beauty or the heritage of the region. The first image that comes to mind, when I now look back on those three blissful days is this....
A solitary structure r ises over the ruins, and stands out starkly against the unexpectedly blue sky. The monsoon is still on, but the clear skies encourage me to explore. And here I am, at the St. Augustine’s Complex in Old Goa. Once upon a time, this was a sprawling complex, consisting of a church, a chapel, and also a convent, with dining rooms, infirmaries, guest houses et al, all built by the friars of the First Augustinian Order, who arrived in Goa in 1572.
As the New Year approaches , it is time for a retrospective – a look at the year that has gone by. It has been a memorable year in more ways than one. Filled with ups and downs, it is a year that will remain imprinted in my memory for a long, long time.
A huge horse towers over you, and the rider stares down. The image is so realistic, you find yourself looking up at him, wondering who he was, and why he has such a supercilious look on his face. It is easy to forget you are looking at a painting… it is not just any painting, though, but one of the works of Anthony Van Dyck – Portrait of a nobleman on his horse. On another frame, Neptune rides the waves, his trident by his side, horses he created from the foam rearing up to go…. Behind him are ships he is protecting, from the fury of the skies. At first, all you can see in the skies are clouds. A second look shows you the chubby figures blowing the wind with their rounded cheeks, one carrying lightning. A little beyond, a dark cloud seems to be letting out tentacles, waiting to grasp the ships, but Neptune’s outstretched arm seems to be warning them away. Time seems to have stood still, in this depiction of Peter Paul Rubens’ ‘Neptune abates the storming waters’.
Friday is almost over, but not quite, and the day has been just too hectic... which is why I am posting this pic now for Skywatch Friday... This was the view from Fort Aguada, Goa, and that is where my thoughts are, as the weekend looms ahead... a weekend that promises to be even more hectic than the week gone by. No, I am not travelling anywhere, but am stuck at home, with piles of work to do, but lots to look forward to as well! Meanwhile, for those of you who haven't seen it on my Facebook Page yet, I have been listed among the 'Top 31 Professional Indian Travel Bloggers' by the Hop Around India website. Thank you so much, all of you, for reading and commenting, which is what encourages me to write! Have a great weekend folks , and for more such beautiful skies from around the world, visit the Skywatch Page!
A for Aadhar, B for Bazaar , C for Cricket, D for Dabbawala… and so on… goes this version of the alphabet – a very identifiably Indian version. India A to Z: An alphabetical tour of Incredible India, compiled by Veena Sheshadri and Vidya Mani, for Puffin Books, with illustrations by Sony Bhaskaran and cartoons by Greystroke manages to put forth a huge amount of information, combining it with a good dose of humour and titbits of fun facts.
In a city filled with palaces and museums, the Jayalakshmi Vilas is probably the least known palace converted into a museum. Nestled within the serene environs of the Mysore University, it is off the regular tourist circuit, which probably explains why it is practically unknown, even to locals.
Rose Ringed Parakeets are regular visitors to our home, and, considering that they are so visible, (and also so audible, and thus easily spotted), I have clicked them often. Yet, as the winter shows signs of setting in, and the parakeets come visiting more often, I cannot help sharing some more recent clicks. All these have been clicked in the last week. And it is thanks to Mridula that I realized that what I had clicked weren't the usual Rose Ringed Parakeets I usually see, but Alexandrine Parakeets !
A flock of Grey Hornbills flew across, their calls echoing over the surface of the calm lake. A pair of Cormorants perched on the dried branch of a tree, stretching their wings, trying to dry them before the sun set. On the lake, a bunch of spot billed ducks swam peacefully, quacking to each other every now and then. On the other side of the lake, more birds – egrets, herons, and cormorants, returned to their nests, calling out eagerly to announce their arrival. Every now and then, a peacock screeched, its harshness muffled by the thick foliage around. Sitting on a bench placed conveniently near the lake, we simply sat and watched the birds, enjoying the peace here, in this oasis of birdlife in the heart of a city.
It's a busy, busy time for me. There is so much to do at home, and there are so many events I want to attend as well. I don't know if I am going to be able to manage all, but here is a list if you are interested.... The Earth Mela is on, , and today is the last day. The venue, as usual, is the Maharashtra Nature Park, and there are plenty of workshops and talks happening. Check the schedule here . And if you are there, do drop into the photo gallery, where some of my photographs will be on display - for the very first time!!! And, since I am not too sure if you can make it, please do click photos for me! If you like books , head over to the Bandra Kurla Complex, for the NBT Book Fair. The fair started on the 29th and is on till the 3rd of December, from 11 AM to 8 PM. So, hurry, go immerse yourself in books! Next week, there are more interesting things happening. First, there is the Junior Writers Bug, this time happening at Maharashtra Nature Park over t