Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hampi - The Forgotten City

My most recent trip took me to Hampi - one of the worlds largest archaeological sites. When we arrived to when we left there was not a moment we were not awe struck. Just being in a heritage site was enough to give one goose bumps.

We hired cycles to bike around, which was great considering none of us had done that since we were in school, and this also gave us the freedom of getting around at our own pace, just riding through the ruins and stopping if something looked of interest was fantastic.

The places to stay in Hampi itself are very basic and are quite cheap, however we stayed at the KSTDC Mayura Bhuvaneshwari which was very comfortable & is about 8km from the Hampi, you can commute by autos, cars or as we did it cycles. This also turned out to be the only place that served alcohol & non veg - main Hampi serves only veg food with lots of shakes, juices etc.

The two places we loved eating at were shathi cafe and mango tree. Though more shanthi cafe - their lemon cake, pizzas and pasta's are outstanding not to mention the very psychedelic ambiance the place had.

Apart from what guides tell you about the places you must visit in my opinion the very first temple we saw the Virupaksha was definitely not my most favourite & clearly the highlights of the trip for me were the Vittala temple, the Jaggery Factory & the coracle ride on the Tunga Bhadra. The Vittala temple was about a 2.5 km bike ride from the KSDTC hotel and on our way our very chatty friend arjun found out from the locals that there was a jaggery factory en route. We stopped off saw how the jaggery was made, got some amazing sugarcane juice from a very dubious looking mug & of course got jaggery to eat.

The Vittala temple was beautiful. It was across a huge expanse maintain amazingly without it taking away from what it originally was - smaller temples around it, the huge bazaar and a bath - it was truly breathtaking.This temple also has the very first form of music know to us - via set of pillars popularly known as the musical pillars. Unfortunately we could not touch them to hear them.

The coracle ride was how we wound up at 2 days in Hampi - along the tunga bhadra, it was so serene and beautiful, also our boat man was very chatty and told us so much about what was on either side of the river including letting us get off trek across the rocks a bit to see an amazing maze of 108 small lingams & another of 1000 odd. All along this trek almost every rock had a sculpture, unique in its very own right hidden in crevices and under rocks.

The architecture in Hampi fascinated me it was such a mixture of indo - Islamic in some places, in others so mythology based and in others it looked Burmese. Another friend of mine Vijay educated me through his blog on how the artisans from here were actually then sent across India to work - so maybe all these styles really originated here in Hampi and later became unique to certain regions & cultures across India. It was sad to see the lenghts & the effort taken to destroy Hampi / Vijayanagar Empire.

I studied all about the Vijayanagar Empire it rule its destruction in my 11th & 12th history, sadly i hardly remember too much of it & wished i had made this trip when i was studying it - it would have made so much more sense & would have been knowledge that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

I highly recommend you do Hampi on a cycle when you do it - and ensure you go on all the small roads and keep getting off you can literally explore this place and find something on every turn.

It was one of my most educative trip by far and am now looking forward to doing more trips like this to build my knowledge of India & the wonders it actually has.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


The month of March could not have gotten any better for me and i definitely could not ask for more. It was a month i will cherish for a long long time to come.

My two best friends Bianca and Sherena were both in town. Bianca and i have been friends since we were 3 - thats about 20 years of friendship. We've been in the same city maybe 3 of those 20 years but time nor distance have changed a thing i managed to catch up with her in Goa for 3 days - and all i can say was it was Super. There is nothing i cant talk to her about and thats what makes that friendship so special. Sherena I met when i was in college and again we have been inseparable since then. I have been lucky to have her around here in Bangalore for the whole of march. She was so integral to those college years. She kept me rooted to ground realities, she was the sane, practical rational side - while i balanced off the crazy part.

Yesterday i don't think i have laughed so much since college. Our gang of 6 women - well 5 cause laksh was missing, met up at koshys. Tasha & Mariya, Sneha, Sherena & Me. It was like the lot of us were back to being 19 year old's full of giggly gas, in the midst of the mature, sane conversations we tried to have which lasted all of 5 seconds we were back to the mad bunch of friends we were.

The most amazing part of all these friends i met was that no matter the time we have been apart, the distance or even the lack of keeping in touch - none of it mattered at the end of the day. Everything seemed like it was just yesterday, we picked up from where we had left off and the smoothness of these friendships always leaves we realizing how very lucky i am. These friends are really the ones that have played such an integral role in my life and who i am today & no matter which corners of the world we are all in - its the most comforting feeling to know that somethings just never change ....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Somewhere over the Rainbow ....

Here in South India we've been received a bout of extremely unexpected rain - in a time when it suppose to be getting extremely hot. Yesterday a colleague and i were out on some work and the heaven's opened - but along with it came an extremely pretty sight one i had not seen in ages - A Rainbow actually two rainbows. The darker one below (as seen in the above pictures) and a slighter one on top of it.

There is something about a rainbow that's mesmerizing and just captures you no matter how young or old you are. I could have stood there for a long time just looking at it. I'm glad i had my camera handy to capture it. By far one of my favourite pictures yet.

I love the sayings that go with a rainbow & would love to know any other sayings our there - the couple i know are

"A fox's Wedding"
"There's a pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow"

The words of a song i love seem to capture the feeling ...

"Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue & the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true"

Some Travels So Far

I ended the year with loads of traveling all mostly on work. However it was great i was present in the top college festivals in India amongst students who were there to throughly enjoy themselves and root for their colleges and not to forgot the thousands of brands there to get their attention :)

Of course being the season December onwards we had a string of weddings to go to all really close friends. From our gang of 6 girls in college the first got married - Lakshmi. So off we all trotted to Cochin for the wedding and we had a blast. From learning a dance for the sangeeth to the food,shopping for sarees & not to forget the actual ceremonies of Nikhil and Lakshmi tying the knot. All except Tasha from our mad gang of 6 couldn't make it, but even just 5 of us being together brought back so many old crazy memories and created newer ones.

The next non work trip was funnily enough back in Cochin again - this time for Sethi & Babs wedding reception. We were only a group of 15 people that went from Bangalore. We decided to take the train since it had been years since most of us had done a train journey. We also intended on keeping the rest of the passengers awake - which of course we did much to their displeasure. We arrived greeted by Sethi and Babs at the station - they were of course already married so lots of commotion at the station wishing them. We then headed to where we were staying it was beautiful and all our rooms overlooked the backwaters. Organizing a group of 15 people was definitely not an easy task so at about 2 a bunch of us - chitra, rohini, sneha, pablo, krish, varsha,abhi,vijay kiran and myself headed out to fort cochin - a ride in the ferry and we spent the afternoon at a lovely place called the brunton boatyard - beer and food flowed abundantly at this waterfront restaurant, and then desert at this lovely cafe down the road. Back on the ferry in the evening and rushed to get to the reception on time. Came back from the reception at a decent hour, we stayed awake till 4 in the morning once again keeping people around us awake and also being told to shut up - they didn't like our singing apparently. The next day we were on a boat ride on the backwaters with cold beer and lots of fantastic malayalee food - off the boat in the evening and sadly bid adieu to Cochin & back to grind in Bangalore.

With a weekends break in between - i decided to surpise kiran and take him to Hyderabad as he wanted to see DJ Tiesto playing. Told him we were going out of town on thu evening - friday evening at about 5 he finally got to know where we were headed - not to mention how excited he was about it. Trained it to Hyderabad where we met up with challa and he graciously put us up at his place. At about 8 we get a call only to hear Neehal on the other end saying he'd was in Hyderabad - completely surprising us. Post lots of coordination the four of us were on the lake front eating breakfast post which we went to golconda fort, paradise for briyani, an afternoon siesta and then headed across town for the tiesto show. Post the show at about 2 we were back on the streets heading to eat again. The amazing thing about hyderabad is that you can practically get briyani all night - and unlike bangalore things stay open till 4 & 5 in the morning. Staggered back and the next day was comparatively peaceful with lunch at a place challa highly recommended & food from the place in andhra he was from. The afternoon we spent at the Salarjung museum which was extremely impressive - they seem to have spent a great deal of time on restoring the museum and working towards it being of world class standards. Back on the train and back to Bangalore, but we had a weekend that was superb and all thanks to challa for that.

Another two weekend break and Dipti, Gaurabh, Kiran & Myself found ourselves off to turtle bay - a beach resort on the Mangalore coastline - Kundapur to be precise. Beautiful calm beaches, a very nice resort, lots of DC on the beach and sleeping in the shack made an absolutely perfect weekend getaway.

I was in the Niligirs for the easter weekend with family, that of course is home for me. But a must do if you have not had a chance to do it. Don't know how much sightseeing one would want to spend their time on - but going to a tea estate, walking & hiking, golfing for those of you who like, quaint places to stay in - all of it provides for another place to get away for the weekend too.

I love the fact that we've been able to get out so much in just 3 months of the year starting. There is so much to see here in India that sometimes i think we forget how much we actually have to see & are missing out on. Kiran & I for one have put it down on our list of things to see - Much More of India. We seem to be making a good start so far :)

Trips that currently all seem to be on the cards are- Goa, with my best friend Bianca - this i can hardly wait for cause i see her once in 2 years. Post that we are thinking of Gokarna & Kovalam, so fingers crossed these materialize.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Significance & Origin of International Women’s Day

Women are half the world's people
who do two-thirds of the world's work.
They earn one tenth of the world's income
and own one hundredth of the world's property.
Source: United Nations.

Year on year as a woman I have recognized International Women’s Day, sent fun forwards to my women friends wishing them & telling them how great they are, gotten together with women to do a drink, celebrate being a woman, look at the progress a women has made in society and the list goes on. One thing I seemed always to miss amongst all this was the significance & origin of this day that I celebrated with fellow women.

International Women’s day is the story of how ordinary women who made history by struggling to ensure than women had the right to participate equally in society – politically & socially. The concept of having a day dedicated to women was born in 1909 when the Socialist Party of America declared the First Women’s day to be celebrated on 28th February. In 1910 at a Socialist International Meeting in Copenhagen it was further established that a single day was required to honour the movements for women’s rights & to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted unanimously by 100 women – 3 of whom were the first women to be elected into Finnish government. However No date was set. In 1911 as the result of this conference women’s day was set for the 19th of March. Tragically on the 25th of march of the same year the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York where over 140 women mostly immigrants and girls as young as 15 years were killed when a fire broke our in their factory. This event had significant impact on labour legislation, working conditions etc all led up to further establishing the observation of International Women’s Day.

In 1913 – 1914 Russian women observed their first International women’s day on the last Sunday of February - as part of the peace movement around the brewing first world war. In 1914 Two million Russian soldiers had died in the war and the women once again took to striking for “bread & peace” on the last Sunday of February. Even though the political leaders tried to oppose this – the strike by these women went on. The rest is history as the Czar was then forced to abdicate the throne & the provisional government formed gave women the right to vote. That historic Sunday fell on 23rd of February on the Julian Calendar then used in Russia but on 8th March according to the Gregorian Calendar used by the rest of the world.*

So many years later, how is having a day for women still necessary? While evolved societies or pockets of people have now progressed to using this day as a celebration of womanhood. This day is celebrated differently by each and every person. Husbands and children use it as a day to say thank you to their wives & mothers respectively for what they have done & continue doing for them. Companies acknowledge the contribution & the variety of qualities women employees bring in to the work space – by organizing seminars on successful women, work life balance or simply just to have some fun.

Countries all over the world celebrate women’s day differently. In Italy to celebrate the day, men give yellow mimosas to women, in many of the eastern European and south American countries march 8 is observed as a national holiday and mothers, wives, grandmothers, teachers are gifted flowers. In Portugal on the night of March 8 groups of women celebrate with “only- women” dinners & parties. In Armenia a whole month is observed for women called women’s month from March 8th to April 7th.

Closer home India – being a rapidly developing country we use women’s day in two ways to Firstly to celebrate how much women have progressed in the country from when you look back 50 - 60 years ago, the strides they have made in politics, entrepreneurship, bollywood, sports, medicine, science & most importantly a woman who can today stand on her own two feet, support & take care of her family. Secondly we can’t forget that being India on women’s day we are also still fighting against the very same issues that existed 60 years ago of poverty, discrimination, unequal access to education & training, political inequality, child marriage, sati, killing of the girl child & peace.

All in all the role a woman plays in society irrespective of country, race, language, social status is one that no other can play. The positive side is the world has started to take cognizance of this fact; unfortunately it’s not yet enough.