Saturday, December 29, 2012


was in a whirlwind trip – to Chennai, Pondicherry and back.

though i have visited Pondicherry many times in the past, never had an opportunity to see some of the local sights.

this time, since another friend and family were also visiting Pondicherry, we met up and went first to the botanical garden.

not very easy to locate and in a pretty run down condition, with the two bulls mutilated..

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it was a sad picture.

the aquarium there was much better, though small.

also saw what was labelled as the oldest mahogany tree in India

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and a nice looking insect on the lawn

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the next stop was chunnambar, the lake / water sport location developed by the Pondicherry Tourism development corporation.

since it was windy, they had suspended the full boat trips and the trip to the island beach.

so, took a short speedboat ride.

the last stop was at arikamedu, a place where some old roman coins and other stuff were discovered.

this is a heritage site, managed by the archaeology department.

looked like hardly anyone goes there – and we got there after multiple queries along the way, till we reached the village and were directed on a non-existent road for the last stretch.

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nobody was around to guide us. nor were there any information boards.

as we walked to the backwaters to the river bank, the view was worth it!

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on the way back from Pondicherry, we decided to travel via Salem and visit Tiruchengode, that has an Ardhanareeswarar temple on a hilltop.

it was a short, nice drive up the hill that we took, rather than the 1200 step climb.

en route, we also was the 1008 lingam temple – from the road. did not stop to find out more..

even Wikipedia did not have an entry.

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earlier, in Chennai, it was just a day.

this, as you would know, is the music season. the ultimate destination for all Carnatic music lovers every year.

attended just one concert by an upcoming artist – who is also a family friend.

other than that, met some others, who were so so serious about everything music and the season.

the newspaper carries special sections on the music season.

there are guides to help rasikas navigate the schedules at various venues.

the discussions are not only about the classical music, its technicalities, the variations and the debate on contemporization by not sticking to the traditional formats.

some of these also go beyond the music – the idiosyncrasies and private lives of the musicians and other influencers of the music ecosystem.

since i did not attend many concerts – that too the prime time ones, could not get to experience what one reads in the magazine cartoons – about the new clothes, jewellery and  other topics that the rasikas discuss during these performances.

these include the sabhas, the critiques and the celebrity makers.

these have been usual during the December or marghazhi music season.

associated with every sabha is also a caterer.  this time, i noticed the ‘specials’ on the menu at some sabhas and interviews with the caterer also featured in the newspaper.

and the focus on the economics of all this, probably a shade more than the altruistic motive of preserving / promoting the classical music tradition – seems to only get more every year.


MMMM = Madras  Marghazhi Music season Musings

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Of Birds and Bs–from Kerala

Recently, had an opportunity to watch some birds from close quarters.
Forms 448
a few days away from the normal routine, some of my earlier understanding of birds changed.
that not all birds are angry..
some are lazy..
Forms 169 to get into the water to fish!
while some are patient, on the ground – close to action
Forms 156 kerala2012 078, others plan their strategies
 Forms 121 Forms 158 from a height.
and that not only birds of a feather flock together.. Forms 130 - maybe these are politicians,
were alliances are for short term convenience!
and then there were some as teams kerala2012 047 kerala2012 171
and some, loners.. 16 Forms 123
Forms 153 Forms 274.
in our enthusiasm to capture nature, Forms 259, we forgot the schemes of men.
02 22 - that our cruise boats got caught in a net once
kerala2012 113 and some plastic sheets the second time, kerala2012 183we had to get help
 kerala2012 114 from local fisher folk and also some extra effort by the boatmen 09
to get out of the mangroves.. 10.
all these were in the backwaters of Kerala 07  12
15  kerala2012 076
the bird theme was everywhere, including the way the towel in our hotel room was folded.. kerala2012 257
there were many ‘touristy photo’ moments..Forms 481 03,
 06or 07 
this blog is an attempt to capture just a little bit of the memories kerala2012 285 
of the Birds and the B[ackwater]s of Kerala..

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Navaratri 2012

This year the theme for the Navaratri Golu was ‘Lord Shiva’.

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Some of the Kailash Mansarovar trip effects, possibly.

On top, we have the Bhagiratha Prayatnam.

The story of Bhagiratha, who asked Lord Shiva for help in bringing Ganga to earth.

to blunt the force of Ganga, Shiva takes the descent of Ganga on his head and then releases it more gently on earth.

that is depicted by the patachitra

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these sections depict the Ganga, as she moves along hills and valleys, through thick forests too..

Navaratri2012 006 to reach the plains to irrigate the land. Navaratri2012 005

the great guru of all gurus, Dakshinamurthy finds a central place in the Golu this time,

Navaratri2012 004 just below a cave where lord Shiva is in penance  Navaratri2012 003 with Ardhanreesewara as well as Parvati and Shiva just outside.

the traditional Tamil grand old lady, avvaiyyar is also in attendance.


the temple complex  Navaratri2012 008  represents the association with Shiva based on Chidambaram. 

A famous legend associated with Shiva here is the ‘secret of Chidambaram’ – the ‘Chidambara Rahasyam’.

usually hidden by a screen, it is opened only on select days.

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while many who have seen it explain it as an image of Vilva leaves, some others claim that there are secret inscriptions and there are others who say that the secret is about removing ones own veil of Maya, in order to understand oneself and the true purpose of life.

Another popular legend associated with one of the very devout bhaktas is the Nandanar story.

Nandanar, from a lower-caste, working under a Brahmin landlord, aspires to visit Chidambaram but faces many hurdles, as his master would not let him off.

the story is about how he goes about his dream.

even on his visit to the local temple in Thirupangur, he would not be allowed in, due to his caste.

to get him a good dharshan, lord Shiva asks the Nandi, who is normally  right in front, to move aside, so that Nandanar can view him from the street.

hence the Nandi and dwajasthambam are a little off.

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of course the golu is not complete without a places for Ganesha, Lakshmi, Saraswati, a kalasam -  Navaratri2012 007 ,

the leelas of Krishna  Navaratri2012 014 or a little kolam or rangoli.

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and to remember the kailash experience, a digital picture frame with some of the scenes, and background music of Shiva related songs complete the golu for this year.

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