:)

:)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Leaf Art

I spotted this yellowed Banyan leaf in my veranda and decided to use it for some creative purpose. This painting over it is done with sketch pens. Please click on the image for a better resolution.




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Coffee Comfort!

I am not a regular jogger but I do love waking up early to enjoy the freshness of the morning and to touch the glittering cold drops of dew resting on green leaves.  I would love to share an experience- Around three days back, my friend and I decided to do a jogging session together at the community park’s jogging tracks. I was supposed to meet her at 6:00 AM. So, I set out from home, somewhat sleepy but while I was sluggishly walking towards the park, something perked up my mood all of a sudden! As I crossed the houses and the gates, taking a turn, a smell that came from a house had me stuck in my tracks! It was so lively and zesty that I literally stopped to fill it within myself for a few minutes, without bothering about my poor friend waiting in the park! The timing was perfect too! This very smell can literally steal your heart in early mornings and late evenings making you leave everything in the world to enjoy long reveries in its unparalleled aroma. No points for guessing- I am talking about the smell of roasting coffee beans! It gives a reboot to all the bored souls including those who suffer from exhaustion burn-outs and depression, making them dance with a cuppa in hand!


Usually, most of us use instant coffee powder to save on time and effort but if you really wish to enjoy the real flavor of coffee, you will have to take a bit of pain and do some effort and roast them to get the desired effect. The aroma is not only intoxicating but is also very soothing. It can calm down tired brains, irritable moods and stressed nerves within minutes, perking up the mood for better. Also, yes! It is a mild form of aphrodisiac as well!

The tantalizing whiff of fresh coffee mingled in the gentle air of early morning just made my day! I stood glued to my place for some moments inhaling and relishing the redolence. So, you can easily guess my next purchase- a bag of coffee beans to roast at home!


For a variety of room and car sprays, visit  


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kerala Calling!

This post is a part of Skyscanner travel wizard activity at BlogAdda.com

To say that I am crazy about travelling would not be an exaggeration, for it is something that I always dream and plan about. Travelling not only keeps us happy and contented but also prevents a very important issue- stagnancy of thoughts, and it elevates our mental level apart from giving us valuable experiences to share and recall in later years. I believe that stagnancy rots and people who do not travel and gain new experiences and wisdom often spend the precious years of their lives living in a peep-hole world with their limited wisdom and opinions. 

Skyscanner is an amazing website that can help immensely in travel planning.


When we hear the word ‘travel’ or are asked to plan a trip, the usual destinations that cross our minds are those abroad but I think, our India is no less in beauty and magnificence that must be explored first. So, for this trip that I am going to plan with a budget of a lakh of Rupees, I will choose the beautiful land of Kerala. Another thing is that I like travelling with friends esp. when I am set to explore faraway places, so I will plan a trip for two adults. 

First of all, it is important to know a little history of the place you are travelling to. Kerala was formed as an official state on November 1st 1956 by joining all the Malyalam speaking towns spread over a total area of 38,863 square kilometers. It is the 12th largest state of India by population and has 14 districts. However, this area has great importance since ancient times, for it has been a major commercial and spice hub since 3000 BC. Another thing that Kerala boasts is the highest literacy rate of cent percent and highest 'Human Development Index'! Awesome! The word Kerala is derived from ‘Kera’, that means coconut in Mayalam language. Another feather in Kerala’s cap is the safety it offers to tourists! Is it not lucrative enough for two girls traveling alone! Broadly, God’s own country is divided into five major parts namely- Malabar, Central Kerala, South Travancore, North Travancore and Central Travancore with Malabar forming the tip and Southern Travancore, the end of the state, as is also clear in the map given. Major cities include Trivandrum, Kochi, Alapuzha, Kannur, Kottayam, Kozhikode, Pallakad and Trichur.

This trip is planned for two people. Get set go!

(I) From Delhi to Kozhikode

We will arrive at Kozhikode on 13th evening. That day we can relax after a tiring flight from Delhi and enjoy a good supper at the hotel. This city that is also called ‘Calicut’ is one of the most prominent cities of Kerala. Apart from having an IIM, this has major commercial hubs and trade centers. The famous Portuguese trader, Vasco De Gama landed here only when he first came to India. Kozhikode is also famous for its food and cleanliness!



The hotel is booked for 13th, 14th and 15th and we will leave 16th morning for Kochi.



This area is famous for textiles and spices. The famous writer Kamala Das belonged to this very area and was often called ‘The Queen of Malabar’. The 13th will be spent in arriving and rest and on 14th, a local visit to the city along with a trip to the ‘Silent Valley National Park’ will be great along with some shopping! On 15th, a visit to the ‘Bekal Fort’ will be a good idea! It is the largest fort in Kerala and is spread over 40 acres!  It was constructed by Shivappa Nayaka in 1650 AD. For visiting Bekal and adjoining areas, we can take buses to Kannur that are available very easily. (Pic-Bekal Fort)



Arriving at Kannur at 6:30AM, we can travel by local transport to the Bekal Fort which is some 50 Km from Kannur, enjoying the scenic beauty of the Malabar region.


The last bus by KTC tours departs at 8:00 PM which gives us ample time to enjoy the fort and Malabar area. After having breakfast the next day, we will leave for Kochi by bus.


(II) From Kozhikode to Kochi



A booking for 16th and 17th in advance will be required. So, using the wide search criteria of Skyscanner, we can search for a good hotel for our two day stay at Kochi. Taj is always a good option and is in budget as well! Kochi is the economic capital of this state and is also known as ‘The Queen of the Arabian Sea’. This city also boasts of a fort which is a heritage site.



Arriving on 16th, we will travel and explore the city and the nearby areas of Central Kerala and on 17th, the ‘Athirapilly Waterfalls’! I just love waterfalls, they look really amazing! The shooting of the movie ‘Ravan’ starring Aishwarya Rai was done here! (In Pic- Athirapilly Falls)



(III) From Kochi to Alapuzha





The next stop will be Alapuzha, a place on the sea coast and known for its famous Backwaters! It is also called the ‘The Venice of the East’. 


This area is ‘Central Travancore’ and is also famous for churches. The biggest boat race competition of India takes place here every year. The hotel will be booked for two days and on 20th morning we will depart.


(IV) From Alapuzha to Trivandrum   
    
                                                       


The early morning bus from Alapuzha to Trivandrum will be fun! This is the capital city and has various beautiful temples, churches and monuments. In Trivandrum too, we will need a good hotel. 




For two days, we can visit various nice places like the East Fort, Ramanayar Palace museum, Kuthiramallikka Palace , The Napier Museum, The Zoological Park and of course, the lovely beaches!

(V) From Trivandrum to Delhi

After enjoying this very beautiful coastal city, on the morning of 22nd, we can return to Delhi from Trivandrum, enjoying a 10 day vacation in God’s own country!



  

DESTINATION

AMOUNT


Del-Kozhikode flight 


26,528

Hotel At Kozhikode 13th-16th mrg


7,271

To and from Kannur by bus


2,200

Site visits by hired car

2,000


Kozhikode to Kochi by bus


800

Hotel at Kochi 16th-18th mrg


13,500

Kochi to Alapuzha by bus

800

Hotel at Alapuzha 18th-20th mrg


12,574

Site visits by hired car

800

Alapuzha to Trivandrum by bus


1,100

Hotel at Trivandrum


12,033

Return flight to Delhi

20,360

TOTAL


99,966



So, in a budget of a lakh of Rupees, I can enjoy a 10 day long vacation in the fantastic land of Kerala with my friend!! Thanks Skyscanner!


To plan a holiday, please visit www.skyscanner.co.in



Info, map and pictures from-
http://www.kozhikodecorporation.gov.in/




                                    

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Haiku Horizons- Party


This is for Haiku Horizons and this week's prompt is 'Party'


Listen how winds sing
These waves croon cosmic songs
This is the party of Gods!


 Thank, pray, laugh and smile 
Count blessings and jump in rains
Life is but a party!




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Delight!

I went to a post-supper stroll into the garden and there met with two charming surprises! Just like ocean, a garden too, has its own rawness at night that some find scary and others (like me), appealing. The silence, the constant murmuring of unknown and invisible creatures and presence of a few nocturnal birds like the one with long legs and grey and black chest, is attractive. I often see that bird walking all over the grass, even at late night!

So, as I never pluck flowers to enjoy fragrance, I went really close to a Champa tree and dug my nose into a bunch of its flowers! Oh! What divine smell these lovely flowers emanate! Just then, as if the tree gifted me one, this flower fell on the grass! I picked it up and smelled it around for half an hour and it provided me with much relaxation. Simple things can be very blissful; we just need to open our minds!

Secondly, I spotted a very sweet little birdie enjoying a good night’s sleep on a branch of a jamun tree! She was really tiny and I am quite confident that she must be a Hummingbird- a yellow chested, olive green and black feathered cutie pie dozing with eyes shut. My dog used to sleep this way, like an infant. It is a fun in itself to watch little animals taking a nap and their post nap stretching! I have seen such birds many times here; their eyes are like two glittering black beads and they present a very lively and admirable color combination. It is fun to watch them taking nectar from flowers as they never rest at any flower and are always suspended like a helicopter. It was such a calming site and it kept me glued for a few moments.

I said a little prayer and hopped inside, with a wide smile on my lips and serenity filled in my heart. Amazingly, all this delight is derived from the most mundane of things! 
Thank you God!





Monday, July 7, 2014

A True 'Mardaani' !

This is written as a part of I am Mardaani activity exclusively at BlogAdda.com for Indian Bloggers.

The moment I read about this movie and this contest, the first name that crossed my mind was that of one of my grandmother’s relative who was, in all the ways, a true Mardaani. I would love to share her story here and extend my gratitude to this contest by Blogadda, for otherwise this story would have remained forever under folds of old memories.

She is Kumud, my granny’s first cousin and an octogenarian. Born into a reputed Brahmin family, she was married when she was around 17 or 18 years of age. Her new home in a city in Rajasthan was perfect! Unfortunately, good times did not last long and within a few days, the beautiful facade disappeared and a very painful truth emerged out. Her husband, a well to do business man, moved to another city where he had a shop and she followed him like a dedicated Indian wife. However, as soon as she reached the new city, a shock awaited her- that man was already married to a half-British-half-Sindhi woman and they even had three children together. Since the stingy memsahib hated any sort of household work and also that his family too wanted to get rid of her, he shamelessly married my granny’s cousin under that pressure. 


Unfortunately in India, marriage is perceived to be a panacea for everything that goes wrong- from setting delinquent, alcoholic and abusive sons to complex relationships and even bad karma straight. The environment there was as negative as it could be. It was a huge house and she was literally confined to a single dingy room in a corner and was made to do all the household work like cooking, cleaning and laundry of the entire family. The memsahib would go hopping the markets and parties every day leaving her to take care of her three children. Whenever she tried to raise her voice, she was beaten and threatened. My granny also revealed that he also made her write happy letters to her father so as to avoid his trips to that place. 

Around six or eight months passed this way. One day, on the pretext of buying some groceries, she traveled straight to his father’s place all alone (with some saved and stolen money). The father, a benevolent man, was quite ashamed of what his son had done but being frail and helpless, could not do much to stop him. However, he did one wonderful thing. He not only treated her as his own daughter but also gave her all of the jewelry of his late wife and cash that he had, much to the chagrin of his other son. She filed a police complaint and contacted her father with the help of her father-in-law. The families met and after a lot of hullabaloo and dirty fighting, she legally separated from that wretched man, who was to be later disowned by his own family too. By the standards of that time, she was quite educated and using the money, began her graduation course. She stayed with her father-in-law because of some reason may be attachment or that her college was in that city. After completing her BSc, she went ahead for MSc in Botany. She used to tutor students at home and support herself in every way that she could. One more thing that this incident teaches us is that education is finally the thing that liberates us as it did her in this case.

My granny told me that after the old man died, she shifted to a women’s hostel as the other son and his wife forced her to do all the household chores and stopped her from continuing her master’s degree. She still had enough gold and cash but was quite prudent in spending it and managed a good portion of her expenses in her tuition income. Later, she enrolled into a PhD course, a rare sight in that era when most women did not go beyond primary school. She got a job in a Government college in another city and there, our mardaani, started her life afresh and went ahead to marry a colleague from a different community- a proper love marriage! She retired as the principal of that very college and now, in her eighties, she lives in a huge bungalow they built with their own income!

I salute not only that lady but also her father who got her educated till school in those times and of course, her father in law, who supported her unconditionally!




Friday, July 4, 2014

Mud & Mogra Magic!


I would love to share a soothing experience that calmed my tensed nerves. This happened a few years back when I travelled to my aunt’s place somewhere in Rajasthan. The moment we think of Rajasthan, three things come to our mind- royalty, colors and dryness. My stay was for around two weeks or so and we were tired waiting for rains to hit the parched earth. I was busy in exploring various aspects of culture like the Rajasthani dresses, bangles and artificial jewelery, and of course, filling myself with the yummy daal-baati-choorma at home. Do try rose choorma, it is awesome! Anyways, not deviating from the topic, it was a few days later that much to our surprise black clouds gathered up and a soft drizzle was welcomed by the fried souls below. However, it was nothing much and like a cheap deo, faded as soon as it had arrived. 

The next day, my cousin and I were given the task of cleaning the garden (the gardener had had a small accident) that after some reluctance we agreed to. So we set up on the task and gathered all the leaves in a heap on one side of the lawn making the fresh grass look as beautiful as a Kashmiri carpet. The walls around that big house were covered with bougainvillea flowers and a few other creepers, some of which flowered in strange colors. The garden, not small by any standards, was full of various flowers, a few rose plants and more of others like China Rose (Gurhal), Mogra, Motia, Paarijaat and Marigold, commonly called ‘genda’ apart from some local varieties. So, after clearing the patch, we were given a hot cuppa green tea as a reward for our hard work. Oh! I forgot to add; I leveled the grass too using a grass cutter while my cousin collected the twigs and heaped them in the corner along with the discarded leaves and branches, under the cotton plant that stood at a corner. 

Drizzle taps waiting earth
Its salubrious whiff escapes
I breathe after ages

We both started chatting about the last shopping spree, sipping the reward when we cheered at dark black clouds laden with the gifts of rain drops arriving in the sky like a postman arriving with a letter from home in a foreign land! Needless to say, our happiness knew no bounds! We stayed glued to our places, praying for a full rain this time and lo! Our prayers were granted. The downpour was good indeed with heavy droplets hitting our sun parched tanned bodies! The water was cool and carried with itself a certain comfort that is hard to describe in words!

We stayed put enjoying the tap of drops on green leaves, colorful flowers and brown tree barks. After some time, my cousin went inside while I lay down in the grass, lost in the pleasure of a particular smell that still lingers somewhere in my mind. It was not just the soothing whiff that the hot mud releases when wet; nor it was the typical earthen smell of wet ground but something more, even more lovely. I realized I was lying near a group of mogra plants, full in bloom in the pleasant evening! The smell that had literally intoxicated me was actually the smell of wet earth mingled in the sweet fragrance of mogra, an engaging, lively and sharp flowery smell. It was I thought something that gave us the pleasures of both, land and flowers! I kept laying supine there for a long time, drenched in rain and even after that absorbing the intoxicating perfume of nature that was instantly created by mixing of two different aromas, within me and letting it pull me into a comfortable slumber, a certain rest and calm. 

I have a mogra plant at my place and whenever it rains, that day comes clear in front of my eyes!

For a variety of room and car sprays, visit  

Pics from-
http://www.himalayanexcursion.com/post_images/                                            
Haiku by me



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Haiku Horizons- Decline

This is for Haiku Horizons and this week's prompt is 'decline'


I curse this life when
Moon declines and dawn breaks
One more day with myself 


Lying curled alone
Declined sweet lullabies
A motherless child