January 17, 2014

Of Shores and Temples

The rock lies about 200 meters off the shore of the cape. He paused for a while and then jumped into the merging waters of the three great seas. He swam up to the last bits of Indian rock, meditated there for 3 days and attained enlightenment.

So goes the (highly controversial) legend of Vivekananda. Why he went there? I do not know. Why I went there? (After so many attempts at making people accompany me to this place.) I do not know that either. But finally, this family trip of ours did fulfill the calling.
Kanyakumari hasn't got as much to offer you that could keep you there for more than a day. I somehow managed to keep my family rooted there for two days. Cause I loved the place. I had always known I would. Why? I do not know that as well.

The wind and the waves seem confused. Coming in from three directions. You yourself wouldn't know which way you would sway the next moment. The sun rises from the green waters of the Bay of Bengal and sets in the blue of the Arabian sea.
I guess there might be some truth in Vivekananda having stayed three days on that rock. For I know time becomes a totally different dimension when you are sitting at that spot. How? Go and find out. And take me with you.

Rain, Rainbows and Coconut Forests
Never saw a greater turnout for a sunrise (except Chhath puja :D )
And Me
Vatakottai Fort
Stream meets the Sea
Cause I made them stay a day longer
You don't simply avoid local sight-seeing :-/

The rest of the tour was more or less temple tourism. It began in Kanyakumari itself. The Suchindram Temple - where a male must be naked  waist-up to enter the temple.

Porthamarai Kulam (Pond with a golden lotus) is located in the campus of this great temple with four pyramidal gopurams (entrance towers). Lord Shiva promised a stork that no fish or other marine life would grow in it and it doesn't. Tamil legends state that the lake is supposed to judge the worth of a new piece of literature. Authors place their works here and the poorly wriiten ones sink while the scholastic ones float.

Temples. They wouldn't let you carry anything that you would like but your money. Always your money. Special darshan, parikrama, abhishek, moksha - these do not come under the priceless category anymore and hence your mastercard can get you these.Take the top ten temples of India and their revenue will outdo the Fortune number one by heavens.
The highpoints were the windmills enroute Madurai and the Meenakshi Temple.

Windfarm - Just outside Kanyakumari
Meenakshi (Parvati) Temple

They needed to cross the sea. They had to build a bridge. Two of them could identify pumice (rocks of igneous origin that could float on water). So they went about looking for such stone and marked them by writing 'Ram' on them to help others identify which rocks to pick.

My interpretation was termed obnoxious. 
Lord Hanuman built the bridge. Rocks floated because Lord Ram's name was written on them. Period.

Somehow, nobody thought of boats. The technology was sound enough for existence of a Pushpak Vimana (an airship that traveled with the speed of your thoughts) but not a decent boat. 
I kept this thought to myself. Religious sentiments. Faith. Whatever keeps the earth spinning.

The Ramnathaswamy temple has 22 kundas (water-wells) and a pilgrim is supposed to bathe in each of them. The temple is huge with long corridors and each of those kundas are separated by considerable distance. You usually would not have a lot of time at hand due to early closure timings of the temple. So it would a kind of temple run cum treasure hunt as you run from one kunda to the other through the corridors.
Apart from the temple run, the Pamban bridge is a treat - connecting main land India to the island of Rameswaram over the gulf of Mannar.

Pamban Bridge (not to be confused with the bridge that Lord Rama bulit)

The Padmanabhaswamy temple has 6 vaults. Of these one vault has not been opened. Two snakes are carved on the door. There are no locks, no bolts, yet they cannot be opened. The priests and astrologers claim that human efforts to force open the vault would have apocalyptic results. The treasures of other vaults were inventoried and their net worth is estimated to exceed 50 billion US Dollars. The unopened vault is estimated to contain treasures worth 1 trillion US Dollars.

Padmanabhaswamy Temple

To enter the temple you must wear the traditional dhoti.
Another noteworthy place where you need to lose your clothes is the Kovalam beach. The waves there are huge. So is the fun.


Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
Its not how it happened; its how you remember it.
No characterisation or hurting religious sentiments intended.
Data and information may have been skewed to suit the storyline.
Everything is relative to your perspective.

January 05, 2014

This Time That Year

This post is split
Year by year
Four way
A Mumbai post long overdue
And the one with the RedBay
One on why they call me Sangam
Then some songs of yesterday


Everyone goes through that normal amount of ambition-shifting : from an astronaut(!) at 10 to an engineer(?) at 20. (And a musician, a sportsperson, a traveller, a photographer, a writer and 203 other such hobby professions in between).
As my first semester in college drew closer to its end, I was head to toe into music. A burst of zeal propelled me into trying to compose my own songs. Joined with one extremely talented Raikom Terang, we plunged into it. 
We wrote about love (what else!) and made ourselves proud by actually coming up with a couple of songs. Its only now that we realise how stereotyped, cheesy and patchy the lyrics were. But we were sure we were doing cool stuff. And in truth they did have a few catchy elements. They aren't the type that will make you go wow or repeat listen like we do to most great songs. They might even make your ears bleed. Still, that was us, and if it gave us nothing, yet a hell lot of memories - about songs which send me literally ROFLing even though they were meant to be dead serious (O love! O heartburns!).
So taking the utter risk of being ridiculed, being compared to Justin Beiber/One Direction or even being pointed towards gayish overtones, I will share 3 of them here.

1. My Starry Sky

We thought we would soon have enough to compile an album. But then in the second semester we had laptops and LAN and DC++. Guitars lay untuned in the corner with spiders adding their strings onto them.
I had started a song with another immensely talented dear friend Shreyans 'God' Gupta. (Yes, you need talented friends or these pilot projects never quite become flight worthy). I wrote the lyrics but never followed up. In the end he came up with the following all by himself.

2. Chasing Butterflies

Among the several unfinished ones, I and Raikom did close one more before the bubble finally burst.

3. Without You Its Not Easy


A lot of things may change a girls's mind. Gangajal isn't one of them.
God, miracle, whatever you might associate to its range of powers - it didnt work for me. But it did manage to bind me (in what would later become a curious case of self-Chatak*) with a name so stuck that now the same Gangajal cannot wash it off.
Well, I should have thought of it before disappearing, without letting anyone know, midway through a quiz to get a bottle of holy Ganges from the shores of Sangam in Allahabad.
I am the one, who for once, betrayed the paramount love of quizzing for a passing crush.
I am Sangam.
:D :P

*Simply put, chatak refers to any and every, animate or inanimate, object or event, having the potential to divert one's thoughts towards an old crush.
It is said to follow you/find you everywhere. (*citation needed)
Usage limited to the group that conceived it. Time series analysis of chatak leading to reverse-chatak and evolvement into Fuchuk are yet to be declassified.


Actually this was in early 2012 (and not 2011 but lets just keep the flow :D ).
People saw the three of us leaving and they thought we were off to yet another quiz quest. For once we weren't. For the first time, we were travelling because we just wanted to. Unplanned.
If you, all of a sudden, decide to leave Ranchi for any other place, I bet you are a lot likely to end up in Kolkata. We did. But so that it doesn't become too mainstream, we zeroed in on a local beach town - Digha.

We found ourselves a dingy little room (for Rs. 25 per day for 3 people). The night was an experience in itself. Other than the mortal combat with mosquitoes that night, I remember the long stroll from one end of the beach to the other, the redbays (knockoff shades supposed to be raybans which would later lend its name to our every collaborated quiz related venture), the ride to Orissa on a motorised thela and wandering through Kolkata the next day in which travelled by the ferry, the tram, the local bus (which took us to south sinthee instead of south city) and the metro (to get back to south city). And before boarding the train back we scoured through the Park street looking for one tiny little four stringed fantasy. We succeeded, and kids, thats how I met my Ukulele.


We were there, sitting by the marine drive, when the Mayans were proven wrong. It was past 12 and it was December 21st. The doomsday had failed to cut our holiday short. And Kaka made the full use of it. He completed all rides of Essel World and Water Kingdom in one single day! And then watched Dabangg 2 and the Hobbit back to back!!

We were there for Mood Indigo (and the accommodation searching troubles that it saved). The stay was eventful. The very way in which 10 of us aligned ourselves while sleeping in that room provided was a thing to wonder. A little bit of Kullu was introduced into the equation and the rest was all chaos. More so with a flute in Shanky's hand. (Why did we have a flute? Before asking that you should ask why we had a bongo and a ukulele as well.)

Then there was the strange case of 'The Division Bill'. As its the case in long trips, people pay for one another, and then they pay back, here in one particular McD bill division, all of us ended paying for our food and then as return change somehow managed to get all our money back. Who actually paid that night? The mystery remains unsolved.
Perhaps we forgot about it when we withnessed a full blown back alley brawl - totally bollywood style punching and kicking. All in front of a bar where we went to get ourselves a few beer cans. We thought it wise to be back on our 12.40 ki last local (apparently there was no 1.40 ki last local as a not so popular movie had me believing).
Local train traveling had become a habit on the first day itself. We usually escaped the dreaded crowd except on the way back from Boriveli on the last day. We literally hung out from the door until Dadar. 
All things done and dusted, this one phrase still remains fresh to the day. Often, when one of us knows that he had too much to drink, the following words would take form:
'Agla Station: Bhandup'

Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
Its not how it happened; its how you remember it.
No characterisation intended.
Data and information may have been skewed to suit the storyline.
Everything is relative to your perspective.