I am a man – sorry woman – of work – doesn’t mean I am very productive – I just have to keep doing something. My computer is old and takes a bit of a time to settle at boot up – almost every day – unless there is a phone call to be attended – I end up rushing myself to do something within that time period – not that it is very useful or has to be done at that point of time – but I do.
I prep myself afterward – almost every day – that it is better to do ‘closy eyes’ and focus on the work am about to start. But it has not happened for as long as I can remember and now am sure it won’t happen.
In effect what happens is – I either get delayed in starting my work or I get tired even before I start my day or both. I work from home.
So what is the remedy? I have found a sort of middle ground – one where I can start my work on time not having got strayed away and yet don’t get bored to death while waiting for the computer to boot.
I tried the elimination method.
Option 1 – Sneak peaking into FB/app – Emotional turmoil
Now looking at facebook/whastapp/Insta/twitter etc has a couple of issues – I could get carried away. One comment or news could make me emotionally unstable and I might start typing in a comment which would then fetch an answer and the rally of messages could engulf me. Even if I don’t answer the issue might invade my deep thoughts and keep bugging me so as to lose focus. So no FB/app.
Option 2 – A quick look around home – Fatigue from jumping around
This is the second most dangerous of them all. A bit of arrangement and management around the house can kick one off the schedule like it didn’t exist at all. Even if it is as little as – ‘let me just dust the sofa’ – it will be followed by arranging the cushion, oh dear who keeps all these things on a sofa, those unwarranted things would then need to be kept at their proper places, once they reach their proper place – that place would demand arranging and so on and so forth it goes on and on. So ignore the sofa. Ignore everything that seems out of place.
Option 3 – Play with pets/tending the plants – Engrossing distraction
These are breathtakingly enjoyable and are so addictive that it feels work can go to hell, even if the work is something interesting and satisfying. There is nothing more distracting than these apparently harmless lovely things. Ignore the lovely darlings.
Option 4 – Keep a book/Rubik’s cube handy
Yipeeeeeeeeeee!!! This worked for me. But the book must be such that it can be read a page at a time. The Rubik’s cube takes about 10 mnts to solve. I normally do 1 or 2 levels at a time while the bootup. Yes, finally something that does not tire me mentally or physically and also doesn’t let my hyperactive brain get bored.
There was no birthday bash, no momentous trip, in 2021 as Roddur turned 14 on the 7th of Feb, covid still prevailed. We just visited a local nursery, the day being a Sunday. He doesn’t show any natural inclination towards the potted or soiled lives but does help out when called for.
Grade 8 turned into grade 9 but Anoush remained in his high back chair at the same desk looking at the same desktop. A little solace – Nanda in the same section!
Life didn’t change much for him; he had comfortably settled his life around his dabba (as I call his desktop) much to my discomfort.
Outwardly there was calm, but inside him turbulence was growing. The rebellion that had started at the advent of teens had now caught steam. Discussions were now more heated and difficult to take control of. The argumentative Indian had become more rooted in his beliefs backed by researched facts. His quote – “Everybody has the right to enjoy. Fun is what we live for.” After loads of counselling it changed to – “Everybody has the right to enjoy, not always but as and when possible.”
Anoush took part in a new thing called MUN – Model United Nations. He was to pose as MLA Rajiv Ranjan from JDU. This gave him a simulated but first-hand idea about how the parliament works when in session. Almost overnight he learned about constituencies, laws, bylaws and what not. He enjoyed the exhilarated screams while discussing with his teams mates. Planning a strategy and convincing his mates taught him an art that he was hitherto unaware of – being our only child and having very little needs and most of them being fulfilled without him uttering much.
Here at such a broad arena, across schools, he had the need and urge to put forth his idea and convince. It was a great learning experience for him and he derived much pleasure. He also understood this was not the arena where he wanted to play.
Half yearly exams were scheduled in offline mode but I was not ready to expose him, so while Nanda and a few others wrote their papers in school, Anoush and a few wrote at home.
Roddur loves the beach and since I wanted a vacation particularly for him during the dusserah(October) hols, it had to be a beach, Rajib loves historical places and Goa had been on his radar for some time, so Goa it was! Anoush enjoyed the beach to his heart’s content while Rajib covered quite a bit of his aspired targets. I could not go around as much as I would have loved to but then I am just happy being on the move.
By November I saw quite a change in my little baby; though he would still put the rod of the water scraper in the bathroom’s exhaust fan while it was running and broke a blade, the explanation being that he wanted to see if the blade stopped when it came in contact with the rod, his next plan was to put in his finger; there was something different about him.
For one he was more confident than ever. I overheard him saying – “I can sing.” He actually can, has melody in him just not interested to manifest it to be a trained singer. Same with the guitar, if he wants he can do much better than just play what is taught – but simply not interested. Am happy that his Guitar sir Mahesh Babu is so patient with him, he is an extremely honourable person in his own rights.
This year too he bagged many accolades – the usual SOF Olympiads and a few more. He scored a 100 on BRICSMATHS – an online exam based on logic; he got overwhelmed with the congratulatory wishes he got from his classmates, teachers and even Principal madam, who called him personally.
The major change I am delighted about is the sense of achievement. I feel he has finally caught up with the idea that he is capable of achieving what he wants given the right amount of effort. And he is giving effort!
Be it an external project or school’s; be it exam preparation or group activity – I find him working with deadlines, going beyond the stipulated timetables, rescheduling them if necessary and driving other team mates along with him.
But what makes me the happiest is that he is still that humble non-judgmental beautiful boy at heart. A natural leader, he believes he can lead not because he is in any way better than the others but because he can instigate the others to put forth their best and collate.
Here I think his classmates have played a big roll, Aryan, Pranav, Ivana to name a few – they appreciate each other, are vocal about each other’s talents – that largely boosts confidence and makes each one realise their strengths. Anoushrayan had also had wonderful teachers Radhika(Maths ma’am and class teacher), Kavitha(SST ma’am), Roopa(English ma’am), Prajacta(Hindi ma’am), Shivshakti(computer ma’am) and Science ma’ams(Renu, Garima and Subarna) who shaped different facets of his personality.
In December we went to an interesting place called Vaama Resort – a pet friendly place – so Domma, Zhauwu, Roddur, me and Rajib drove for around an hour and checked into a cosy cottage that the resort had allotted us. The resort is actually a camp for obstacles training for civilians run by a retired Colonel and his team.
My otherwise hunched, laggard non-sporty boy – did well! Not only was he able to do them all he did them well. Roddur always amazes me, sometimes at the zip line or at horse riding – he can be a good sport but physical endeavour simply doesn’t excite him. This year the exams have come early, in February and as if both to tease and to appease – computer practicals are scheduled on his birthday!
People find paradise in Goa. Some like the beach. Some like the drinks. Some like both. And then there are slightly eccentric people like my husband who love to chase ghosts – well he loves to walk around ruins of forts and desolate temples, churches and mosques and calls it the study of heritage.
This was my third visit and am sure am at the far end of the list of ‘number of times visited Goa’ and yet I thought I’ll put together a few lines that might help some first timer or uninitiated like me.
The ones who are driving in don’t need to worry about transportation but the ones who fly in or use the railroads, be warned transport is expensive and one can get heavily duped.
The prepaid taxis are cheaper and reliable, available at the airport/railway station. There is no OLA/UBER service. Autos are rare. ‘Self drive’ is the best option for people who can drive, both – two and four wheelers are available.
A word of caution about the roads – except for the main roads on which one can see a lot of infrastructure development happening and thus creating traffic congestion, all other roads in Goa are narrow. Time distance equation has to be worked out keeping in mind that one can never drive faster than 60 – 80 kms/hr.
Since we flew, as in a plane, we don’t have wings – I’ll talk about the commute to and from the airport. Goa International Airport is growing – development is on and visible. The prepaid taxi booth can be accessed from both inside and outside the terminal. A quick bite joint is right outside the exit and keeps a tasty spread.
We went straight to Colva Beach down south, that was supposed to cost us 800INR change but we lost our way, thanks to the obscure location of the resort we were booked in. Google maps suggested that we walk 200mts on the beach to reach the resort, which isn’t a bad proposition early in the morning or evening – but with two suitcases and backpacks in the afternoon sun, it did not seem plausible.
The resort has its own vehicle to transport the guests from the tourist spot ‘Colva Beach’ that is the beachfront. Our cabbie left us there demanding an extra 100 and soon we found our vehicle to the hidden paradise. Named as C’Roque Resort it is a lovely piece of land on practically the sand – the beach. We had booked two cottages as each had accommodation for only two.
While Roddur our son got salted and baked in the sea, I kept an eagle eye and Rajib took to heels to photograph the ancient temples of Ponda and beyond. He mentioned it was a picturesque journey being almost beside the western ghats. Cost him 3600INR for a day’s driving around.
After spending a delightful time at the beach side and packing ourselves up with calories from the delicious spread available at the restaurant, we moved to civilization – Panjim. It cost us the standard 1400INR.
Our target was to walk the Fontainhas, do the river cruise, visit old Goa churches and have Tiramisu and Serradura. I have had had Tiramisu on an earlier trip and praised it such that Roddur had it on his hit list. But alas! From Colva to Panjim it evaded us – even the famous ‘fisherman’s wharf’ (restaurant) could not delight us with either of the desserts. Finally we found Serradura at a cafe’ near our guest house, and Tiramisu at Vithal Malaya road in Bangalore.
We chose to live in a guest house near the river and at a stone’s throw from Fontainhas – Goa’s Latin quarters. Unfortunately the guest house had only one triple bed room at the ground floor which has a low ceiling without a fan and its door opened onto a public road, though a quiet one with hardly any passerby. It was not to Rajib’s liking but with a powerful AC and a clean bathroom/room it did okie tokie. Location and value for money are the two biggest USP’s for Marquito’s Guest House at Rua 31 de Janeiro (31st January Road).
A mention about proliferation of casinos is adequate. The river Mandovi might be called the ‘casino river’. The river front is illuminated with the alluring party lights of the casino facades and the river comes ablaze with the big and medium sized casino ships anchored in the river. For the naïve like us all it gives is an opportunity for glittering photographs.
The river cruise that was ought to start at 7.30pm but was delayed by an hour and a half for the want of riders. It doesn’t start till a minimum number of passengers are attained. FYI, most cruises have a deck and an AC chamber below. An entertainment program of some sort goes on in that chamber, basically a lot of noise with people gyrating to it, not exactly in tandem. I visited the ‘cultural-chamber’ if I may call it that for about 5 mnts or so – for one it was cold, very cold and second it didn’t have the slightest feel of being on a boat.
The river cruise takes one through the casinos till almost the mouth of the river where it embraces the sea – now on the way back the boat moves slow, very slow as the water is turbulent and it is also dark being a bit distant from the glitters of the casinos. This is the part I like the most, though it is also the part where it rains – most of the time even if there is no rain anywhere else.
Restaurant are open till 11pm so we did get to eat that night – Delhi Darbar was the nearest from the jetty and we quick marched to it. The food was good. Food is good pan Goa, be it the local cuisine or the generic Indian mix or continental or south east asian – veg or nonveg – the cooks know how to cook.
We walked back to the hotel through the drizzle that turned into rain; the streets were quite but felt safe.
Old Goa was a heated affair – literally – it was hot, too hot! Most of the churches don’t allow photography inside them, so that one can’t take a selfie with Virgin Mary or infant Jesus. Unfortunately for people like Rajib who want to photograph every inch of the earth specially architecture and art, it is a big disappointment.
The convent of St. MONICA and Chapel houses the Museum of Christian Art (MoCA). We freshened ourselves up at their facility, took a tour of the beautiful items on display, had a wonderful lunch and bought a few Knick knacks.
The Chapel of our lady of the mount has become a wedding photography venue, with drone cameras rampant. There wasn’t a single tourist there other than the three of us.
The mound gives a beautiful bird’s eye view of the churches and around.
Panaji to Old Goa cost us 800INR in an auto, and then a taxi took us around the churches @ 800INR. We wanted to wrap up the day with sunset at fort Aquada, which cost us 1000INR, but we reached late just in time to enter and have a few quick clicks. The journey back to Panaji cost us another 1000INR.
We wanted to get a glimpse of the Salim Ali Bird Park across the river and made a dash for it right after breakfast on the day of our journey back to Bangalore. For breakfast there are a couple of joints like Kamat, Bombay Shiv Sagar and Udupi cafe – the last one being the tastiest. It would be good to mention that though our guest house was supposed to provide breakfast, inclusive in the price – breakfast was laid out from 10am – a bit too late for us while on a trip.
The ferry carries people and vehicles across the river to Salim Ali Bird Park / the island Charao island. Our auto to and fro from Panaji, cost us 600INR. It is a mangrove forest by the coast where a path has been laid for people to walk through. A boat tour is also available for bird watching.
Fontainhas has a number of good food joints. We chose to have lunch at Panjim Inn.
Way back to the airport was jam packed due to some accident on the way and we made it just in time for everything to go smooth and had a bit of a reading time too! There is lot of traffic at the airport too and thus the takeoff takes time.
And ya! With all parties promising a wonderful future for Goa – you must Go Goa!
Offbeat!!! That’s the first thing that comes to our mind as soon as we think travel. Champaner was one such UNESCO site tucked in an obscure location about an hour from Vadodara. We had planned a two day trip as little did we know about its vast offerings. One fine January morning in 2011 we de-boarded the train at Vadodara and advanced towards the nearby bus station. There are many buses that take one to Champaner and the frequency is good too.
Champaner is a quaint town at the base of Pavagadh hill. We got into a jeep that would take us up the hill to Machi about midway between Champaner and the top of Pavagadh where the famous Kali mata shrine is. We had our room booked at Machi, at the Gujrat Tourism Resort. A lovely property overlooking the hill complete with a dining hall. The food was spicy but delicious. We still remember!
At around 10ish in the morning after grabbing some food we went on to check out the Pavagadh ropeway service that would go up to the bazaar area where devotees buy offerings for the goddess and ascend the remaining 250 stairs. Some devotees go all the way up from Champaner to the shrine on foot – 2000 steps. Even adventure seekers make the climb that takes a little more than an hour for the able and fit and get rewarded; there are many Jain and hindu temples on the way, though in ruins just as the fort wall.
A natural lake makes the surrounding surreal.
The ropeway felt exciting and gave a bird’s eye view of the hillsides.
We were back at the hotel around 12ish and decided to stay indoors and grab some rest before the second phase. At around 4pm we started again, this time we descended. We took a jeep down to champaner then an auto to the most imposing structure of the archeological park site the Jami Mazjid to find it closed. The grounds were open though and we took a lot of snaps.
We then started our walking tour, the monuments are scattered all around but need to be asked for as the directions are not straight forward. It is best to carry a map for ease of navigation. We reached Kevda masjid around 5ish and Lela masjid around 6ish. The sun was preparing to leave our hemisphere so we quickened our pace and traced our footsteps back to the main road.
The small buses and jeeps keep plying up and down the Pavagadh hill till Machi. So we went back and retired on our balcony. Slowly the green fields down below darkened and the crimson sky turned into a shimmering black veil studded with silver embroidery.
We wanted to catch the sunrise as the balcony faced east and we caught it!
We were supposed to checkout later in the day but since a lot of monuments remained to be captured on our cameras, we extended our stay. Our room was not available but we got another.
So we spent the entire morning shooting the Jami Masjid which was then open, and Kevda masjid but we could not get our full yet. We went again in the evening starting with Saat Kaman this time that was on the way down from Machi to Champaner. This time we added Nagina masjid to our photo shoot and then decided to take a walk through the town; all this while we had been wandering about in the wilderness amidst the monuments.
The town of Champaner is old. It is dusty and dry with very few shops lining the singular road that passes through it. We stumbled upon a Jain Math – a serene place where people of any religion are welcome. We took a quick look around and went back to our abode up the hill.
A frog was waiting in the bathroom, since I already have my prince charming I didn’t kiss him but took some snaps and let him be perched on the shower unit as he had been.
Next morning we quickly checked out and went downhill to Champaner bus stand. There is a lovely monument called Saher masjid Bohrani near the bus stand. We took a good look at it through our lens and then boarded the bus to Vadodara.
Our train to Bangalore was to depart from Ahmedabad so we took another bus from Vadodara, the ride was one of the finest road journey.
A friend with whom we had planned to put up for a day but ditched in favour of shooting the monumental beauties came down with family to meet us at the station. There is us and there are such darlings.
It was my first day in a spacious office with a not so huge staff. One of my present colleague also happened to be my ex colleague, quite senior though. He took me around and after a quick round of introduction I settled with a kappa of coffee at what was supposed to be my work space. First day, so not really loaded, I had ample time to assume, presume, judge and misjudge the people around me.
We take minutes to form an opinion and kind of stick to them and sometimes pass on the opinion to others, misguiding their thoughts. I found one particular guy very different. He sat hunched over his computer looking at the screen intently through his thick glasses. I remembered he could not manage to smile when introduced. At lunch he ate alone at his desk. During the entire day he got up only twice. Once possibly to relieve himself and once he brought back a cup with him.
Subsequently I found myself observing this loner. Years later when we were choosing our discipline, one of my MBA prof told me I was a natural at human psychology and should definitely take up HR, but the greed of challenging opportunities got the better of me.
Back then, the more I observed the different guy the more I felt that it is not his natural disposition but a veil to mask a disgruntlement.
This gentleman as I found later was good at his work and had never voiced any discontent. But one fine day he left. The management was puzzled and the exit interview did not spring up any surprises. Clueless the management had to lose an asset not in lieu of a huge monetary benefit which was the common presumption going around, but as I later learned from spying after my subject, only for a befitting work.
Often a company loses its valuable employees owning to the lack of observation and understanding. One rule cannot govern all bodies. One treat cannot satisfy all. It is crucial for the management to understand that employees are the real assets of a company and periodic generalized efforts will not work for all of them. Monitoring and customizing efforts is called for, at least for the ones who are worthy.
Now this ‘different guy’ was in search of a specific kind of job, having worked in the industry for a while he now wished to work in a niche area and thus he had moved to this organization in the first place; but when he found that he had been wronged with false promises he felt betrayed and eventually left.
There are different needs. It depends on many factors like the age, gender, ethnicity, family background and majorly his/her personality – the man or woman he/she is. As we grow we discover ourselves, and interestingly we keep knowing the inner self more and more as we age. Our wants and desires change with time and situation. The situation could be as diverse a factor as ‘marital status’ or ‘growing kids’ to ‘have arrived in life’ or ‘spiritual transcendence’. Humans are assets if nurtured in a conducive environment or else they turn into liabilities. Our ‘different guy’ was fortunately ‘understood’ by his new employers and thus flourished, rose through ranks and in turn brought substantial benefits to the organization.
A photographer has to deal with three main characters so as to create a composition. The first character is the object of interest namely – “Subject”. The second character is the ‘lens’ in use and the third character is the material to record the composition that is the film or the ‘sensor’.
If we place the three characters in a row, an inverted image of the subject is formed on the film/sensor. This inverted image is called the real image. As we vary the distance between the lens and the recording surface the real image becomes larger or shrinks. The real image becomes larger if we increase the distance and smaller if the lens is brought closer to the recording surface. The real image however can get blurred at some distances depending on the capacity and nature of the lens. So there is a particular distance between the lens and the real image which will give the desired composition. This is the required focal length.
The focal length of a lens defines the capacity of the lens to magnify the real image. A lens having a small focal length would be able to capture a subject at a smaller distance with a wider scene in view whereas a lens with a large focal length would be able to capture far away subjects but with a narrow scene in view.
The focal length to capture the exact size of the subject that is neither magnifying nor shrinking the real image is 55mm for a film camera and 35mm for a digital camera often called the normal focal length. Tele-lens is above 55mm for a film camera and above 35mm for a digital camera. Wide angle lens on the other hand is below 55mm for a film camera and above 35mm for a digital camera.
A camera can be fitted with lens having a “fixed focal length” or such which could create “variable focal lengths”. The one with a “fixed focal length” is called prime lens, and the one with a “variable focal length” capability is called zoom lens.
A zoom lens uses a combination of lens elements which can be moved back and forth to create variable real image sizes for a particular subject.
Mathematically zoom = maximum focal length / minimum focal length. Say the minimum focal length of a digital camera lens is 6mm and the maximum is 72mm then the optical zoom is 12x.
A macro lens is used for subjects which are very small or to capture a very tiny part of the subject magnified such that it fills the full frame of the film/sensor. The ratio of magnification could be 1:1 or higher. The professionals prefer prime macro lens over zoom macro lens.
Hence the selection of lens would depend on the choice of subject.
The living fort as it is called by many is a destination of a life time. That is not to say that one cannot or would not like to revisit this one of a kind place. One of the oldest forts in India it is a place where history lives. I have been there twice. Long back as a pure tourist with my parents and recently to feel the history. Living within the fortified walls of the fort is distinctly different from visiting it for a day or half a day tour.
Ludavra, 16kms north west of Jaisalmer, was the stronghold of the Bhati Rajputs who had captured it from the Ludarva Rajputs. This ancient city (Ludavra) was on the connector route to the maritime international trade route popularly known as the Silk Route, in the 1st to around 6th century and then other important trade routes till the time of the British raj, when the ports of Mumbai and Kolkata took over and these parts of the Thar desert lost its sheen. In its days of glory Ludavra was rampaged by foreign invaders many a times but later the Marathas didn’t even take the trouble to trouble the Bhati Rajputs.
Maharawal Jaisal Singh was banished from Ludavra (Lodhruva) by his younger brother who ascended the throne. He chose to built this unique fort resembling the giant ark of Noah in 1156 AD on a hillock called Trikuta Hill. Thus Jaisalmer became the new abode of the Rawal, named after him. It was a mud fort then.
Caravans passing by on the trade route found this new hill fort safer for stopover and warehousing. The prosperity of Jaisalmer Fort was phenomenal over the years. It was strengthened with Yellow Sandstone which is quarried in the neighbouring areas. At a time the whole population used to live inside the fort, now only 25% remain. It seems like 4000 people are living on a giant ship and few hundreds more boarding and de-boarding all through the day.
We too boarded this ship through a winding pathway one fine october morning. We chose to venture out early so as to avoid the onboarding tourist rush, at least for a while. The narrow lanes with ornate balconies hanging over them branch out in several directions and it is easy to lose one’s way, but then there is only one entrance gate to this fortified city and the royal quarters spill over it so one could always find the way back to this gate.
We went up and down the streets and met some residents who were gearing up for the day to showcase their ware. Amidst colourful garments mostly for the foreigners but made of very comfortable glass cotton fabric and junk jewellery and travel bags and bowls, cups, plates, etc made of yellow sandstone, there was a very interesting collection of paintings. The paintings were done on wall hangings, t-shirts, cloth and paper. The subjects were varied with vivid colours depicting scenes of the desert life, portraits of beautiful girls in traditional rajasthani attire, men with various musical instruments with their gigantic pagdi (head gear).
We met Kamal who was painting on a t-shirt in the front part of his shop. It is an amazing experience to see a live painting getting created. Leaving it to dry he showed us a few of his creations including miniature paintings on cloth and paper, depicting hunting scenes, the royal procession and a row of musicians. Photography is strictly prohibited in these shops even from outside and for good reason.
There is a little treat for Sonar Kella enthusiasts (the famous movie by Satyajit Ray) – Mukul’s shop.
The Jain temples were closed for public at the time and we went past it. At the end of the road is the sunset point. A lone tree stands there the wall is broken and a little deity awaits flowers and kumkum (a red pigment made from turmeric) from the residents. The vast stretch of land comprising of the expanded city of Jaisalmer and the Thar Desert beyond is a site to behold from this vantage point.
The houses on either sides of the lanes are made of the same yellow sandstone which changes colour from a tawny lion in the morning to a honey lemon at dusk as that of the fort walls.By character they are narrow and multi-storied and have common walls with the adjoining house. A lot of them have been converted to hotels and eateries. Some of the houses are being demolished and rebuilt to suit the needs of the tourists.
A major portion of the tourist crowd is from West Bengal and thus alongside European, Italian and Chinese, Bengali food is also available. We found a lovely rooftop joint where we had lunch later in the day with a view to kill for. Sitting atop a hill almost 100mts above the flat ground below and eyeing a boundless expanse with nothing to hinder the vision is one of a kind experience, add to it gulping down food from your own province. The usual homely daal (lentils) rice n finger chips felt like Turkish delight.
A walk around the second layer of the fort where the walls coils around it felt like one of those 3700 soldiers guarding the fort against the Sultan’s Army, who laid a siege for 8 years before he could finally breach its walls. The canons are still placed on the bastions and count as a place to see alongside the royal quarters, museums and temples.
Day inside the fort is all hustle bustles with tourists and hawkers and guides and ruminants. Night is hauntingly quite but all the stones seem to come alive as the bats commence their hunt. I closed my eyes and suddenly something trotted by, seemed like a horse with his rider, followed by a couple of foot-steps, these were chirpy men talking of money and goods and the refreshment they had in Patwon Ji ki Haveli. One fellow was quite close and his cloak brushed against my hand, it was smooth muslin.
Night at the rooftop restaurant at our temporary abode in the fort was nothing short of a scene from Arabian nights. The lights from the city glittered like jewels and looked like a choker around the neck of the fort, and then there was darkness all around of the cold Thar Desert. I have vertigo so I could not stand on the edge and feel the nothingness. My son was crawling on four and hubby was comfortable sitting at the table in the middle of the bastion that housed the restaurant. A more adventurous soul could have felt the air of triumph one feels standing on a high ground with an glittering city beneath.
14 and growing steadily, Anoushrayan’s eyes lit up when I brought the old cot from the other flat and arranged it in his room. This has been his favourite bed, being a tad higher than usual and just the right size for him and his babyhood companions namely Balu, Sheru and Nalu – the soft toys – I wonder how long this fellowship will continue!
“Can I sleep here?” he said with that beautiful smile, tilting the neck to a side. “You want to sleep here? Alone?” I inquired. “Yes, you always wanted me to sleep alone in my room, isn’t it?” he said confidently.
I was supposed to feel happy and in-fact the whole idea of getting the cot was to instigate the urge in him to sleep alone and yet something in me stirred a sad undertone.
Imposition has been the norm for human beings; sometimes the pretext of tradition and culture, sometimes to establish authority and most of the times to ensure well being, especially if it concerns younglings.
But I do not believe in imposing unless it is the last resort in the harm’s way.
As an infant Anoushrayan cherished the cuddles and would protest fervently if kept off the lap. He refused to even lie down beside us, mom or dad would let him sleep on their chest, and there he basked in the warmth. People advised that the infant must be taught that he must lie in his cot and would not be picked up every time he creates a ruckus. I did not comply.
Days turned into months and he outgrew the lap, ready to explore the world with his toddling feet. I felt happy to not have complied, now I could not confine him in my lap even if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to, I have had my share of a warm lap, wet with drools and giggles making me the happiest person on earth.
Next was to teach him to sleep on his bed alone. My counterparts in the west, and even the in-country buddies along with quite a few books suggested that a child must be taught things early on. I did not comply.
So he slept latched on to us, initially between me and Rajib and later with me. After he became 12, I started insisting on sleeping in his room on his bed but he vehemently refused. Once his friends visited us and happened to say, ‘so this is your room’, Anoushrayan denied.
He didn’t want a room of his own complete with a bed and study. His categorization was – my study room, my sleep room (where I slept with him).
Thus a decade and more passed, all of us hurdling on the bed together, two humans, 3 soft toys and for the past one year, added to the list were two doggos. I had always complained how I could never get a sound sleep with this bunch. In his early childhood Anoushrayan used keep changing his position and would invariably end up taking up the bed diagonally leaving me hanging.
From a tiny little doll sized being whom I was scared of crushing by my weight, he has now grown to a size that can engulf me. And now he is ready to sleep alone. He wants to enjoy his being. This is the beginning of discovering his individuality and gaining confidence. Once again I am happy I did not comply and let him sleep with me as long as he wanted.
My mantra was and is to keep myself prepared to let go as and when he is ready but not push him into an unpleasant imposition. Although Anoushrayan is unable to sleep alone as of now; even though I did, albeit with a tug at the heart – looking at the big empty bed all to myself, the doggos won’t let go of their ‘dada’.
Singapore was once a small fishing village, then Singapura (Lion City), then an important settlement in the 14thcentury (evidence from archaeological excavations) and finally “great ruins” by the time the Portuguese came in the early 16th century. Sir Stamford Raffles identified Singapore as a natural harbour with not more than 150 people living at the mouth of the Singapore River and merely a 1000 in the whole island, as he landed in 1819.
The Dutch and Portuguese dominated the ports on the trade route between China and British India levying high tariff. As Opium trade was vital for the British, Sir Raffles planned to replace the dominance of other countries and establish a port in Singapore. He declared Singapore to be a free port and soon traders started flowing in. By 1824 Singapore was an important trading port surpassing the earlier established ones by trade volume and the population increased rapidly to 10000 from being 5000 in 1821 and a 100 thousand by 1871!
After the British the Japanese held Singapore for 3 years (1942–45) renaming it Syonan-to. Failing to defend Singapore, the British lost credibility with the public and 1948 saw the first Singaporean elections. Thereafter the Singapore River witnessed a series of political ebb and flow, merger and separation and finally Singapore abruptly becoming an Independent nation in 1965.
Today for someone travelling out of India for the first time, the jaw drops at the Changi airport and closes only after reaching Little India, where one kind of feels at home, with a wee bit of garbage spilling on the road once in a while. Singapore is sparkling clean, meticulously planned and beautiful, to say the least.
As a budget traveller from India, Little India is the place to stay, with neighbourhood food joints open round the clock and tube stations at every nook and corner. We managed 8 days in less than 65k per person inclusive of all entry tickets, door to door.
India is naturally beautiful, Singapore is decked up. India has variety naturally, Singapore has created many variations. From huge malls stretching across a whole neighbourhood to artificial beaches, roof top pools on skyscrapers to one of the best zoological gardens in the world, every inch has been man-made and man maintained. Not chewing a gum is a little sacrifice to make to visit Singapore; it is a punishable act by law.
Lee Kuan Yew, considered as the father of Singapore, married human discipline to technical efficiency and though they were forced to stay together at first, the consequences of the travail are amazingly spectacular and worth being duplicated.
The roads are pothole less thus the bus ride is smooth and delightful though office times witness a lot of traffic congestion, the Island being populous. The buses have option for having physically challenged individuals on board, which definitely scores very high. Most people use pass and the system runs on trust. SMRT and SBS fleet of buses ply across most areas along with other companies like Go Ahead, Causeway Link etc, yet Singapore majorly runs on MRT (Mass Rapid Transport). An electrifying, exciting, and awe inspiring commute for the first timers.
To begin with the metro is spread through the island nation like a spider web, connecting most of it seamlessly. They are frequent, they are fun, and they are relaxing as one can evade the sun almost entirely cause the stations either delivers one to a mall or to a bus interchange or even to one’s office in some cases. Singapore is hot and it matters to be indoors in a regulated environment. Some MRT stations have multiple lines, say a commuter from the north need to go west, all that is to be done is change levels from the North South line to the East West line and hop on to the next MRT, and “mind the gap!” This seems to be the most used phrase as every door of every MRT has it written and the announcer keeps repeating it at every station before and after the door closes. The last but not the least the trains don’t have a driver!
The zoo, the bird park, the river safari and the night safari, where nocturnal animals are on display, are where an animal lover’s dreams come true. The Universal Studio at the man- made Sentosa Island is a movie buff’s paradise. The SEA aquarium feels like walking through gallons of water amidst a plethora of fishes from around the world. Sentosa is not a day’s job. It’s a destination in itself and definitely needs more than 2 days.
A trip to Singapore is not complete without a visit to The Cloud Forest in the Gardens by the Bay. At its entrance the world’s tallest artificial waterfall creates a mist so refreshing that it immediately transports one to a tropical rainforest. From insectivores to massive cacti it is like the conglomeration of all plant life on earth under a dome.
One of the oldest locations where a Chinese community settled outside China is Singapore. It is known from excavations that these Chinese lived in harmony with the Orang Laut (sea people), the natives of these islands far out in the sea.
After Singapore became a British settlement, people started flocking in from Malaya, China and India. They came to work in the rubber plantations and tin mines. The bulk of the Singaporean population was formed by their descendants, with half of it being of Chinese origin.
In the 1960’s an Independent Singapore was overwhelmed with development activities and work force influx and started facing crime and health issues due to lack of public services, housing, sanitation etc. But within a decade with strict and mandatory laws most of the population was housed under hygienic condition and squatter settlements were mostly abolished.
China town and Little India are the only two places where some of the buildings have a character of their own hailing from the Victorian era when the Island was under the British Colony, otherwise most housing societies look the same, most crossings with manicured lawns are identical, and most high rise offices by the bay have a similar demeanour. Unfortunately most of the commuters going to work also look the same, similar dressing style and eyes glued to the handheld screen, possibly the monotony doesn’t hit them as they are not looking!
Nevertheless to compensate for the induced monotony for maximum efficiency Singapore has numerous entertainment spots of all kinds, from nature lovers to pub hoppers; there is a joint for everyone. It is highly recommended for people on a tight budget who wish to have taste of the western world.
“A palace which gave the original a run for its money” by Rajib Deysarkar
Often skipped by tourist in favour of its more popular cousin the Faluknama palace, the Chowmahalla palace which was built as a replica of the Shah’s palace in Tehran, Iran, was rumored to have surpassed the original in it’s grandeur.
Recipient of the prestigious UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage conservation in 2010, the Chowmahalla Palace whose restoration are still going on, is one of the must to visit tourist spot while you are in Hyderabad.
Though the older Southern part of the palace is still undergoing renovation but the Northern courtyard and “Khilwat Mubarak” which is open to public is enough to make you understand the splendor of the palace in it heydays with central fountain and pool and the adjoining greenery and buildings which were mirror image of each other.
The “Khilwat Mubarak” turned into a museum now, used to be the heart of the Palace where coronation of the Nizams used to happen and prestigious durbars of the Nizam used to be held here – the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. The Durbar hall along with the aritificats of the museum – the arms and armaments section of th museum are one of the finest one can see in this part of the country. It brought me back the memories of arms I saw in the Rajput forts of Junagarh (Bikaner) and Mehrangarh (Jodhpur).
The Chandeliers of Belgian crystal in the durbar hall and the intrinsic stucco works on the ceiling and walls are another example of the grandeur of the palace.
I would love to be back to the Chowmahalla Palace when the Southern courtyard opens and I hope the palace administration can then go on to introduce a “Light and Sound” show to relive the days of the Nizams.
The palace has a small cafeteria just after the entrance serving tea, coffee, ice-creams, soft drinks and some basic snacks, however the eatery needs to have more chairs for guest and needs to kept more clean. There are toilets also which were quite clean when we went.
I visited Chowmahalla Palace with my family during December 2016.
Chowmahalla Palace Khilwat, 20-4-236 | Motigalli, Hyderabad 500002, India
The socialist wanted to do away with private ownership of property and introduce the idea of collective community ownership. I have tried to create three brief speeches to show what I feel the people of Europe might have been thinking. Have fun!
Poor Labourer Working in Fields
Friends, today I want to talk about private property. Private property is one of the biggest problems of society today. In my village, there is this man, Kolshes. He is a big miser. He owns most of the land in the village, and he hires us to farm them! Because of him, the rest of us have very little land. This is the problem with private property. If one person owns it, nobody else gets anything. Instead, the land should belong to a collective! Everybody will farm it, and however much we get, we should divide among ourselves according to who did the most work. This way, all the property will not belong to a few people, and the money will be distributed fairly. This system will be just and equal. Thank you!
Medium level Landowner
Friends, I want to say that this idea of public property is very good. I have a small amount of land. Alone, I may be able to get some money from the crops. But if I combine my land with everybody’s land, we could get more profit. How much money we get will not depend on how much land we have. It will depend on how much work we do. The only problem I see, is what happens if someone wants to sell their land. If all the land belongs to the Collective, will the Collective buy the land from us? Or if we want to move away, will it give us some money? Other than this problem, this is a very good idea. Thank you!
Friends, this idea of public property has many problems. I have a house in my village. If the Collective owns the land on which the house is built, does the house become theirs? If it doesn’t, then what is the use of owning that land? They cannot use it for farming, and I could sell the house together with the land to someone. Next, how do we know who did more work? If everybody is cultivating the same land, then how do we know how much work we did? Right now, Titolis is cultivating 10 bushels a month, and Litanes is cultivating 12 bushels a month. If they combine their land, and produce 22 bushels a month, how will they decide who has done more work? These are the main problems I see here. Thank you.
Europe was swept with high drama over the ages. But it is always interesting to return or reflect on how it all must have started!!!
I am Mota, a name coined in school; am Zen, a title earned by virtue of my ‘know it all attitude’ and am going to take you through a journal of three stupendous days of my life spent with two extraordinary individuals.
An exemplary scene, if I may call it so, of this mémoire, wouldbe the one where am screaming, “Rums dare you fall asleep!” “Am not sleeping, it is just the eyes, you continue…” says Rums feebly, visibly half asleep completely tired from the day’s ordeal. I continue with the same zeal amidst my cough, finish the monologue about some very unimportant chapter of my life with few interceptions from our all remembering friend, the data bank and finally retire to bed. Rums is fast asleep by then and greets us all fresh and set to hit the beach in the morning. We two meanwhile have had little rest, me by virtue of an incessant cough and Vidu for trying to tend to me so that I could get some relief. Rums is inspiration personified. After having an illustrious corporate career for 15 years she has taken another leap to distinguish herself in a vocation that has been her passion. Rums is a bundle of fun and vigour. She is a chatter box and exceptionally unassuming. Rums is incapable of presuming an ulterior motive in any deed. She is a cushion and a pillar at the same time, soft and strong and radiates a smile at all times that can melt any heart.
As the Innova sped on the metalled road, through the night, we were rolling in laughter, hardly noticing the occasional lights from either a house by the road or a dilapidated structure, which may have been occupied in a distant past. Laughing is contagious and when three schoolmates meet after more than 20 years and are out on a trip together there is every reason to be happy. Rums took the pains to stop her thundering guffawing and explain this to the lovely gentleman who has been driving us around all evening.
Vidu had flown in earlier in the day and was doing the formalities of checking us into a hotel which we had painstakingly chosen over the days and agreed upon after numerous WhatsApp messages and calls. Her husband had taken the initiative to book it online but there was some dissension over the charges for the extra person, as we were three. We walked in a little while later and were greeted with a refreshing kokum juice. Little did we care for the poor soul who was struggling to get her way through, not only for her but also us, as we waited in the beautifully decorated lobby, giggling our hearts out, also contemplating if they would offer us another drink.
Vidu, the data bank is an intricate character; sensitive, delicate and yet eloquent, exceedingly sober but sombre. She has a great sense of humour and can be really fun if she chooses to be so. Vidu is into serious aspects of humanity and has passionately turned it into her metier. She is a softball the type they give at offices these days as stress busters; people can dump their woes with her and she’ll happily absorb it all and suffer silently. We were checked in, three schoolgirls, out of their regime, and free to do anything they wished to; now that doesn’t happen every day. An outline of “things to be done” was already in place, girls are oh! So organised. Vidu was starving and we promised her food on the way as we discussed our evening plans, which included tourist spots, beaches, water sports, river cruise and fine dining. Rums gave us apples. We took just a little over an hour to decide what to wear and after about 3 changes, matching the accessories each time, the first leg of our “do as you like” began.
Just in time for the last cruise, we reached the jetty, accompanied by a mild drizzle, and anybody would have bet any amount on our being high on alcohol, but we had not had a drop. I’ll never forget the faces of the hapless chaps at the ticket counter who had to keep a straight face as we asked stupid questions and made outrageous comments. We asked if they served food on the deck, very well aware of the fact that they never do. We inquired about the programme on board and when they said regional culture, we actually said the bad word for crap!
The glittering lights from the boats were dancing on the waves and so were Vidu and Rums on the deck, as we talked and talked and talked more. The poor starving girl had been fed earlier that evening, though not on the way but at Dona Paula where we lingered on till nightfall. We tried to offer her sandwiches, paw bhaji and biscuits, as the shops came along, but each time she would say no and then once we had passed the shops, she would want to have them. Finally, the gentle driver offered coconuts that were being sold by the roadside, this time Vidu readily agreed but Rums forestalled us and we drove on, for obvious reasons which had slipped out of our minds.
A little undecided about where to dine, finally we gave in to Rums suggestion and the ambience of the restaurant was just what we needed to rejuvenate us after a long day. There was live music and very lively decor. Rums enjoyed the fish, which was too herbaceous of a certain kind for my taste and I spend the next day regurgitating it. Vidu seemed a little deranged but she played along. She doesn’t drink but did sip in from ours only to confirm her distaste for the heavenly liquor. The day concluded with the exemplary scene aforesaid.
Mornings are always beautiful, they bring hope, and a morning spent on a beach racing with the waves and dodging them is a perfect morning. The perfect morning gave way to a sumptuous breakfast accompanied by hearty laughs and long tales, never tall though, we had opened our hearts to each other and had no intentions of any fabrications. The clocks struggled to make time for the ladies, as they groomed their already handsome selves into exquisite beauties.
Fort Aguada up the hill overlooking the Arabian Sea was where the beauties de-boarded, me running off to throw off first. As I felt better we hovered on the hats at a stall nearby, I had forgotten to carry one along so was vaguely interested but then decided against them. Coincidently Vidu had a hat on, which was very similar to a pile on display. The keeper of the stall, a lady, thought that Vidu was walking away with one from the pile. Evidently, Vidu’s hat was a little different and not an exact copy, so we got away with only a little embarrassment.
Before lunch we made our presence felt at Vagator beach, me again rushing off to disgorge some more of that stupendous fish which my husband would have died for. Vidu let her hair loose to get it beaded with colourful threads and Rums and I sang our lungs out to the vast expanse of the ocean. I wondered if some faraway boatman looked up to find the source of a faint melody.
Lunch was at Fisherman’s Wharf; the ambience was overwhelming with the old world charm recreated through remarkable decor. The menu was a foodie’s delight and Rums enjoyed. Vidu also seemed to be more at ease and happily enjoyed the Goan curry and rice as opposed to last night. My poor ailing stomach agreed to only a trifle, but delicious it was. We sat there long enough for the other guests to clear off and the furniture being reorganised so as to indicate shop closed. Nobody drove us out though and we took our own sweet time to help ourselves out of the chairs.
Young is what we call ourselves, nevertheless matured we are, thus having paid a great deal to the hotel; the idea was to enjoy its facilities to the fullest. Thus we made it back to the hotel after we picked up a little something, customary, from the market. We stretched ourselves on the bed, making the most of our payment, had loads of tea, provided by the hotel, took long showers, used the toiletries, the only thing we did not use our money’s worth was the idiot box, we are too smart for it.
The swimming pool was closed by the time we managed to change and disembark from our room. Vidu poor thing got caught up with something urgent and had to devote some time to her work- dabba. I and Rums sat by the poolside. It was the first time I was sitting alone with another woman, mom excluded, under the wide open sky, with the rumbling of the waves as background music. We were talking of pleasant things, one of them being Reiki; we were talking of enriching experiences, one such we were presently in at the time; we were talking of things that had come to pass and of things that might do so. It was another magical moment of the many that I had lived in the past couple of hours.
We took special care to get ready for dining on the eve of our departure. We chose to dine at the hotel and by the time we settled at a table, the other guests had left and the kitchen was on the verge of closing. Little did we care, as our gorgeous selves are always drowned in self-appreciation, we are indubitably self-obsessed individuals. Most people think women dress to impress, only a true woman knows that we dress in celebration of our own being.
Dinner was satisfactory under the able supervision of a very cute boy; most likely from the northeast, nevertheless to our discomfort he just couldn’t leave us alone. We also had cats for company which none other than me was excited about. The high point was Vidu trying to taste a spoonful of our drinks as if it were faluda or firni. I had ordered a neat tequila shot but on rums insistence, the fair guy got us a lemon, which Vidu promptly squeezed into the shot glass, so instead of having to bite into the lemon after gulping down the shot we had nice good lemony tequila, which I sipped and Vidu took a spoonful or two.
Deep into the night the three of us chatted up, that was our last night of togetherness, at-least for then. The day of the departure was to be a hurried one as we had flights to catch to get back to our dominions. Yet I and Vidu hit the beach again, she playing alone in the waves this time, as Rums had a sleepover and rather wanted to take a plunge into the pool a little later. I watched Vidu happy and contemplating; I watched the sunrise bringing joy to the world, the rays breaking in through the mist; I watched the scurried movements of the tiny crabs and I felt happy and alive as always.
We shot Rums at the pool; she looked like a blue mermaid in her costume. After a couple of graceful laps the diva and her companions went off to gorge on food. Breakfast was complimentary throughout our stay and the spread was good and wide. We had every intention to check out well in time but even after so many hours we still had so much to talk! Finally, we packed and picked all the remaining sachets of beverages, settled the bill, got a cab and reached the airport.
I spilled out the remnant of the fish as we dislodged ourselves from the cab. A week before the trip some corona-viruses decided to explore my body so I can’t really blame my stomach completely for rejecting anything sumptuous.
Thus we were at the terminal, Vidu ran as her flight was to take off earlier than ours. I and Rums got through the security eventually, our time together was a wee bit longer; one we stay in the same city and two we had taken a train to reach Goa, which gave us an evening and an extra night to talk and laugh. The train being late we had occupied a bench, piled up our luggage and shared stories and food that Rums had packed from home, oblivious to the crowd and inquisitive eyes. Rums had a hat on most of the time and appeared quite a character; I pulled out a t-shirt and put it on above my top as the gentle breeze slowly got chilled, as the night darkened. Vidu was wirelessly with us on phone from time to time. It was a long time since I had laughed so loud in public.
By some untypical logic after the airport security check, we sat facing the restrooms, where there were no monitors showing the details of the flights. Vidu came around to bid us goodbye and our first reaction was of annoyance, we were scared she would miss her flight.
As a desperate attempt to bestow these cuties with a gift I offered to pick something from the airport lounge but they declined. The heartless creatures with no regards for my feelings had picked up the choicest gifts and affectionately presented it to me as we had met. I having researched a lot could not finally manage to grab any for them owing to my untimely infection.
As the time for our departure approached, I and Rums walked around the little airport lobby to get a place near the gates and then I spotted him! A dashing young man in his late twenties maybe, tall, fair, handsome and with a poise of an ultimate gentleman. By the time I told Rums, he had seated himself, so she had to take a small walk to have a look, and she was not disappointed at all.
Goa is all about Bikini, Booze and Boys. We had an almost private beach where we played like kids, bikini we left out for the benefit of humanity at large; we had two drinks at the two dinners, with a teetotaller trying spoonfuls from them and we saw this gorgeous boy at departure. We had it all then!
It was raining as we emerged from the airport and with a hurried goodbye we rushed to get a transport, though we live in the same city, the localities are wide apart. I took a Volvo and was drowned in the reminiscence of the past couple of hours that undoubtedly were one of the best. I am a traveller, my team which comprises of my hubby and son take frequent trips which are focused around photography and exploring a destination, so outings are common for me, but this was a trip where I explored humans and am unquestionably happy to have taken it.
Indian men and women have traditionally been puppets of destiny governed by tradition and culture. The moment a child is born to an Indian family the process of turning him or her into an ideal Indian man or woman begins; from the food we eat to the clothes we wear it is all about imbibing the culture into the heart and soul. The sole purpose of the whole family that surrounds the child and helps in its upbringing is to carry on the heritage.
The baby boy is pampered with love and luxury with the single expectation that he would reproduce and carry on the family name and do something in order to earn a living, the baby girl is showered with good sermons, as on her rests the honour of the family. In the process, the boy grows up to be a carefree man getting away with almost anything as long as he happily agrees to marry the girl that the family chooses for him and does a decent amount of studies to bag a degree and a job.
Please note the most important thing is to “marry according to the wishes of the family”. On the other hand, the girl has to grow up into a typical “sanskari” that is a cultured girl with all the good virtues to get married to a guy who may or may not give her any love respect or even basic amenities. In some cases, the girl has to even provide for this pati parameshwar (husband the ultimate God) and his family and yet be taunted and tortured for having the privilege of going out.
This full proof arrangement has been going on for ages as its very scientific that a docile creature would perform the duties well and never stand for its rights. In effect, the girl was completely dominated to be most docile and the reins of the boy were slackened a bit to give him the pseudo feeling of a king and were given at-least one slave – his wife. That was the general story until even a decade back.
Now in the modern cities exceptions are becoming a rule and the children unruly. The Indian men and women are going through a series of transitions owing to the influence of the western world. They are forming an opinion of their own, which was unheard of in such a large scale, occasional rebels have been known but they were easy to silence, given the well-knit social structure where the rebels could not survive for long without either giving in or losing their lives.
Some city boys and girls are now not only forming an opinion but also voicing them strongly and if not supported by the family are choosing to sever the family ties. The small town girl can now come to a big city and pursue her dreams, maybe at the cost of her family’s honour, but she now prefers to be honourable herself rather than being a slave. Small town goes to big town, big town goes abroad as today with a shrinking world it’s plausible, with a little courage and determination.
Interestingly the metrosexual man is also more sensitive and sensible. He has slowly learned to look beyond heritage and culture. Today lot of children see both parents earning, both parents washing vessels and most amazingly both being treated equally. But all this is happening in just a small percentage of the vast Indian population. Child marriage, dowry, abortion of girl child, wife beating and cruelty against women is far from being abolished. Unfortunately , even within the educated section of the people, it is a regular practice.
Yet there is hope as the world around Indian men and women are changing, in a small way, though. The voice within is rising, very slowly, very silently but very strongly.
It would be a cliché to say the view was picturesque, Kashmir is too beautiful to express in words. We were on our way to Pahalgam. As we left the city of Srinagar behind and hit the highway, my window was splashed with colours, the yellow mustard fields, the green lining of the willow trees, the greenish-grey hills, the shimmering white snow cap and then the pristine blue sky; one making a backdrop for the other. It is like a layered painting conceived by the greatest of artists.
It was a little after 6 am, and the roads were almost deserted.
A bandh (shut down) was called on that day demanding justice for Asifa, the hapless little girl. Procuring transportation was difficult but our hotel manager (Walisons Hotel) Sajad bhai went the extra mile to extend his cooperation. He insisted that we move on early, a village en route to Pahalgam in Anantnag district was supposedly in an enraged temperament and could pose a threat. Thus the journey at the appointed hour.
Suhail the kashmiri boy, all of 21, drove at a slow but steady pace, showing us the Kesar fields, the walnut trees, the willow trees, the bat market and the kesar market lining the highway with countless shops, ofcourse all closed at that wee hour, interestingly most of the kesar shops had ‘Zamindar’ on their Signboard pre or post fixed with something or the other.
Soon we were driving past sleepy little villages, the apple orchards and then we met the Liddar. Rajib asked Suhail to stop and urged us to get down. I had no idea that the air outside would be so chilled.
Srinagar was at 5200ft and we were now approaching 8989ft, much closer to those snow caps. Pahalgam boasts of being the gateway to Amarnath pilgrimage. The famous Amarnath yatra starts from ‘Chandanwadi’, 16kms uphill from the main town of Pahalgam.
Srinagar looks like any other town, bustling with activity, big and small buildings, flyovers and congestion. Jhelum and the flood channels are fairly clean and looking at the ornate bridges on them, with a glimpse of the snow-capped mountains at the horizon, one does get reminded of being close to paradise. But Pahalgam is paradise.
The river that is called Liddar, fed by numerous streams trickling or babbling down the snow-capped mountains, gives a distinct character to Pahalgam. It is at the heart of this tiny picture-perfect town.
There is only one way to enter Pahalgam, through a small check post on the road. After the welcome banner, the road goes upstream beside the Liddar. On one side the hill slopes up and the other limits the gully that the river creates. A few hotels are scattered on either side of the road, each kindling a desire to frame it or better be a part of that frame.
The road leads to the centre of the town which is at the river level. The town centre is a stretch of about 2 km on the same road; it has two big parking lots (to hire cars) at each end, curio shops, eateries and hotels, a mosque, an ancient temple and a gurdwara. It also has two ATMs and branches of J&K Bank and HDFC. SBI atm counter had been closed since long. A public utility stands a little way up the slope from the road, opposite to the Gurudwara, Swachcha Bharat!
The road then bifurcates, one leading towards ‘Chandanwadi’ and the other towards Aru Valley and further.
The town has another level accessible by two roads, one a steeply inclined road which goes straight up the slope from the town centre to the main gates of the JKTDC (Jammu Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation) tourist lodges where we were housed for the 3 unforgettable days of my life.
Another, which we took on the day we arrived, a little round-about but less steep, is an offshoot of the main road at the onset of the town centre. This level is on the slope of a hill that goes up, up and up; mostly has JKTDC lodgings, some government offices and residences of the forest and other departments.
There is a village at the fag end of the road on this level. This road is called the circuit road.
In Pahalgam, riding is the thing to do, if one is not angling or rafting or trekking! It had been raining and snowing for the last couple of days and it was only for us to ride that snow white gleamed on the mountain tops, and ride we did.
We checked in to a pre-booked (online) two bedroom cottage, had tea and breakfast sitting at the garden table. Gulam was just a phone call away to take care of all our needs. Villagers from the nearby mountains came with their wares to sell, we mostly declined, taking just one dress material as a gesture of empathy. All winter they weave and wait for the tourist season that begins in April.
Tourism is the only livelihood of the people of Pahalgam, in fact of Kashmir as a whole. The hotels, the shops, the weavers, the artisans who do paper mache or woodcraft to the drivers, horse tenders and the horses and even the masseuse, all depend on us, the tourists.
The masseuse, another Gulam bhai was persistent about rendering his services and finally, we promised to avail them in the evening. He came around 7 pm and massaged Rajib and Roddur. It was good and reasonable at only Rs 300.
We took the horses from the guy, whom the manager of JKTDC recommended, the rates are written on the board for all to see as though fixed, yet negotiations go underway if the hours are lengthier and the numbers are more. We took three ponies for a 4 to 5 hrs trip (12kms) for Rs 4800.
Little did we know about the adventures that awaited us! Roddur had been very eager since he rode a horse in Darjeeling and a camel in Jaisalmer. I was very sceptical since in Darjeeling, I mounted one and got down immediately screaming hypnotically and in Jaisalmer was almost hanging for my dear life at the camel’s butt. Rajib was only worried about being able to sustain the long ride.
As soon as I got up, my head reeled but I hung on, for one if I backed out the fun would get spoiled, two there was no other way to go to Baisaran valley also called ‘mini Switzerland’, except for on ponies or foot and I could not have trekked alone.
After a while I got comfortable, this was a classic case of defeating fear with mental powers, I did it! The metalled road soon ended as we started the climb to the next level up the slope through a winding road that was full of muck and water from the incessant rains that had hit the valley till the day before.
The ponies want to walk through the mud, as the stones laid on the mud road hurt their legs, thus they move over to the edge often. We went on for a while stopping at times to see the Pahalgam valley peeping through the pine trees as if to take a look at the new bride. And beautiful she is.
At a point we stopped to pose with rabbits which the local boys catch from the forest and are happy to get any dime that one cares to give them. Then came a turn where we left the path which came close to be called a ‘road’, though muddy and clearly made only out of regular use.
We started climbing up the slope, no tracks, no marks, just a straight climb up. All my fear had vaporized by then and I was amazed to find that the horseman was able to find a footing on the slope where I could see none and the beast followed.
We went over the logs, through gentle streams, adjusting our bodies, bend back when going down, bend forward when going up and in the midst of all this I give a sidewise glance and find Roddur riding all by himself at a little distance giving instructions to his horse. Under normal circumstances, I would have been petrified but there atop my pony in that vista, I assumed myself to be Ibn Battuta going on a long journey and thought of him as a fellow traveller used to ridding naturally, which he proved to be all through when we hit even harder descends down the slope.
Finally we reached Baisaran valley. Rolling meadows, surrounded by pine forest with a backdrop of the snow capped mountains. It seemed like a gateway to heaven. Baisaran is the camp site for trekkers who go up to Tulian Lake at 12000ft. Baisaran is 5kms from Pahalgam.
We sat for a while, drank kahwa and ate maggi which is readily available. Roddur did some Zorbing and Rajib clicked, clicked and clicked.
The onward journey, again through the off-beat, no track path took us to a village which had 3 houses. The Gurjar lady happily let us photograph her ware and we gave her a few bucks.
There was a nice stretch of land after the village and then came the most horrific descend. We were to ride down a slope which had an inclination of almost 45 deg down to a waterfall. I was trying to focus on the awesome scene.
Suddenly Roddur’s pony was sick of following mine, which was being led by a horseman and went astray. It had been doing that all the while but this descend was not to be fooled around on, so my horseman took its reins too. It would have made quite an intense scene in a movie. One horseman trying to lead two horses down a very steep slope with riders on them, one of which, me, was quite a rounded bundle prone to lose balance any instance.
Rajib had a horseman to himself but that didn’t make it any bit easier.
The waterfall was another prattling stream cutting through the rocks, coming from somewhere uphill. One could wade through it in April and the drier months, but after July it swells up and makes quite a sight rumbling down over the rocks, rendering the crossing over impossible.
There is a small shack for refreshments.
The descend further is not so steep but a difficult terrain for the horses. Its all rocks and slippery too! The ponies tripped a couple of times. I reasoned that since they had four legs, a little trip won’t make it fall and if we could just cling on to it, then we won’t crash land either.
Soon we hit the metalled road that was the other end of the circuit road that we had started our journey from. There is a small village and settlement at this end. Children were waving and running along.
Roddur seemed to be in his element all through; he mostly rode on his own, up the hill, down the hill and was having a roll.
The next day, to Roddur’s dismay and discomfort, we travelled on the four legs of a car that we are more used to. We visited the famous Betaab valley, where Roddur tried Zip Lining to my surprise. He is scared of heights and is a very non sporty person.
We went till the snow line at Chandanwadi and had jhaal muri, in the Aru valley where we found possibly the costliest public utility in India at Rs 10/- per head.
Back in Pahalgam after the sightseeing, we tried trout fish. It was too expensive but delicious. Food all through the Kashmir valley needs a special mention. Just as the valley is a paradise, the food is that of the Gods; from 5 star rated restaurant to road-side dhaba, everybody knows how to cook up the most mouth-watering savoury.
Kashmir is also famous for its Papier-mâché art in addition to their signature motifs on textile and wood carvings. Walnut wood is widely used for decor. Pine is used for the base of the Shikaras. The saying goes that its only after some 10-15 years that the pine realises it is in the water, the decay might start then.
We picked up most of the home decor from Pahalgam.
The day before our departure we explored the 1300 years old Sun temple, the mughal garden at Achbal and Kokernag; that is another delightful story which needs to be told separately.
Closing the Pahalgam chapter, we headed for Srinagar. Liddar kept company for a good time and then we parted, once and for all? May be not, who knows. Loaded with souvenirs and kesar and cranberry and blue berry and kehwa and saffron cream, and many more things and enchanting memories we came back to a sweltering Srinagar.
Srinagar we found is chilling when it rains and sizzling when it doesn’t, that is in April.
I have been familiar with the term cantonment since childhood well into my forties. But ‘containment’ had never been so up close and personal. We contain harmful chemicals, angry bulls, rising water levels so on and so forth but humans en masse, unbelievable!
Equally unbelievable is the fact that I am the potential danger, and all humans around me are death personified. Creepy as it feels, an indiscernible tiny spec has become the governing body of our oh! so superior human bodies. One touch, one sneeze, one spit and I could be infected in 60 seconds.
My son tells me that our bodies are weak, our abilities are inferior, and without advanced tech, left alone, even a dog can shred us into pieces. But look what we have become – a weapon of destruction without any tech.
We have heard of bees whose behaviour gets altered after being bitten by Apocephalus borealis. The infected bees fly at night towards bright light aimlessly displaying ‘Zombie’ like behaviour where one is not in control but is being controlled by someone or something else and dying eventually.
Thus subjugated by the Corona virus, we the humans, are also behaving like zombies – venturing out purposelessly towards procuring stuff we don’t have an immediate requirement for, be it food or medicines or gadgets as if being forced by a will that is no longer ours but manipulated by evil, and dying eventually.
In that sense we have become harmful and thus need to be contained. Our housing society had to be made a containment zone for a couple of weeks as the number of Covid positive cases were rising at greater rate than fuel prices. Frequent advisory notices, awareness talks or even people getting affected could not make people to adhere to norms that would benefit themselves.
Can we then say that we are superior intelligent beings capable of making democratic choices or should we hand over our reins to the AI that cannot be manipulated so easily? But then who knows, viruses don’t spare anybody! Does it not seem like they are at the apex after all, naturally occurring or manmade? However we are free again, out of containment and once again given the opportunity to prove that we are sentient beings with a rational mind. Feels good, hope we prove worthy.
Chemical fertilizers are one of the cornerstones of the Green Revolution in India. They drastically increase the yield of crops grown in the fields. However, they have their own drawbacks.
Chemical fertilizers dissolve in water and are absorbed by the plants as mineral nutrients. However, they also enter the groundwater and form poisonous substances. Sometimes, rain washes them into rivers and streams, thus polluting them.
When animals or humans drink or use such water, they fall ill, due to the poisonous nature of some of these substances.
The bigger problem, however, is that chemical fertilizers do not enrich the soil, unlike organic fertilizers such as manure and animal dung. This is because chemical fertilizers deplete the nutrients in the soil. For example, excess nitrogen in the soil feeds the growth of nitrogen-eating microbes, which produce CO2. In this way, carbon is pulled out of the soil and into the atmosphere. However, it is essential to have sufficient quantity of carbon in the soil. In this way, chemical fertilizers reduce the amount of essential nutrients in the soil. They also prevent the regeneration of soil nutrients.
Chemical pesticides are also a major problem. They kill off the bacteria and fungi in the soil. The reduction of organic matter has drastic consequences for the soil. The soil does not regenerate essential nutrients. This is because the bacteria break down compounds into nitrogen and phosphates, which are important for the health of the plant.
In this way, chemical fertilizers and pesticides severely harm the soil. Alternatively, organic manures and organic pesticides made from natural substances can help to keep the soil healthy. The yield will be reduced, but the soil will last for a longer period of time. Thus, it is wise to choose organic pesticides and fertilizers over chemical ones.
The periodic table is a common sight in nearly every chemistry classroom in the world today. But how did it come to be?
In 1789, Antoine Lavoisier published a list of 33 chemical elements, grouping them into gases, metals, nonmetals, and earths.
In 1829, Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner observed that many elements could be grouped into triads based on their chemical properties. For example, Lithium, Sodium and Potassium were grouped together in a triad, as soft, reactive metals. German chemist Leopold Gmelin worked with this system, and by 1843 he had identified 10 triads, three groups of 4 and 1 group of 5. However, although various chemists were able to identify relationships between small groups of elements, they had yet to build one scheme that encompassed them all.
In 1862, the French geologist Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois published an early form of the periodic table, which he called the telluric helix or screw. His paper used geological rather than chemical terms and did not include a diagram. As a result, it received little attention until the work of Dmitri Mendeleev.
In 1864, Julius Lothar Meyer, a German chemist, published a table with 28 elements. Realizing that an arrangement according to atomic weight did not exactly fit the observed periodicity in chemical properties he gave valency priority over minor differences in atomic weight.
Concurrently, English chemist William Odling published an arrangement of 57 elements, ordered on the basis of their atomic weights. Odling alluded to the idea of a periodic law but did not pursue it. He subsequently proposed (in 1870) a valence-based classification of the elements.
English chemist John Newlands produced a series of papers from 1863 to 1866 noting that when the elements were listed in order of increasing atomic weight, similar physical and chemical properties recurred at intervals of eight. He likened such periodicity to the octaves of music. This so termed Law of Octaves was ridiculed by Newlands’ contemporaries, and the Chemical Society refused to publish his work. The Chemical Society only acknowledged the significance of his discoveries five years after they credited Mendeleev.
Russian chemistry professor Dmitri Mendeleev and German chemist Julius Lothar Meyer independently published their periodic tables in 1869 and 1870, respectively. The recognition and acceptance afforded to Mendeleev’s table came from two decisions he made. The first was to leave gaps in the table when it seemed that the corresponding element had not yet been discovered. Mendeleev was not the first chemist to do so, but he was the first to be recognized as using the trends in his periodic table to predict the properties of those missing elements, such as gallium and germanium. The second decision was to occasionally ignore the order suggested by the atomic weights and switch adjacent elements, such as tellurium and iodine, to better classify them into chemical families.
In 1871, Mendeleev published his periodic table in a new form, with groups of similar elements arranged in columns rather than in rows, and those columns numbered I to VIII corresponding with the element’s oxidation state. He also gave detailed predictions for the properties of elements he had earlier noted were missing but should exist. These gaps were subsequently filled as chemists discovered additional naturally occurring elements.
The popular periodic table layout, also known as the common or standard form is attributable to Horace Groves Deming (1923).
In 1945, Glenn Seaborg, an American scientist, made the suggestion that the actinide elements, like the lanthanides, were filling an f sub-level. Before this time, the actinides were thought to be forming a fourth d-block row. Seaborg’s suggestion was found to be correct, and he subsequently went on to win the 1951 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in synthesizing actinide elements. As we know, the periodic table has undergone many changes throughout its history, until it has reached the modern form we see today. Many elements were found in nature, and some have been synthesized in labs. Scientists are working, even now, to find more elements and improve the periodic table. Let us hope that we continue to find out more about the periodic table, and that our chemical knowledge improves in the process.
Megastructures are truly massive structures, which are used for projects beyond anything we can do today. One of these is the space elevator.
A space elevator is a theoretical structure stretching from Earth to space, which allows the transport of materials and spacecraft from Earth to space and vice-versa, without the use of a rocket.
The construction of a space elevator would be extremely expensive and difficult, but the payoff would be immense. It would require an extremely strong thread, one that only became possible after the invention of artificial super-fibers like C-60. However, no existing material has the required strength to support such a structure. Several plans have been put forward for the construction of a space elevator, though none have been realised yet.
Apart from the thread, another problem is location and actual construction. A space elevator would have to be built at the equator, to avoid major problems. Several locations have been suggested, in regions free from storms and heavy winds. The western equatorial Pacific is a possible location, as it has the best possible natural location, free of environmental hazards.
Many ideas, such as building the elevator on top of a mountain or tall tower, have been proposed, to reduce the stress on the cable. The construction would probably be done by a satellite, feeding cable down to the Earth’s surface, and a counterweight to create centrifugal force, upwards. The space elevator is a fascinating megastructure and has the potential to cut costs down by up to 100 times. It would be very useful and making one would be very rewarding for whichever country manages it.
I love to see things grow, and a human baby is one of the most intriguing of all. All this time since birth to his 12th birthday, Anoushrayan had been changing slowly – the face, the structure, the voice and the abilities.
But then all of a sudden things started changing so rapidly that it was like riding a whirlwind. I wouldn’t say I could no longer recognize my child, it was not that dramatic but there were things which I needed time to cope with.
To begin with there had always been discussions and long chats but now they turned to heated arguments. Anoushrayan was never ready to take my words on face value; I had to prove everything by showing it on google – a concept I introduced him to, but now that he was knowledgeable enough to form his own opinion, or so he thought, he would debate even the established ideas. His ‘WHY’ haunted me day n night.
His memory had been sharp but now it became sharper and yet the scores started dropping from the usual 100%. The reason was none other than the multitude of fancy fantasies that had started making his head their home. From Harry Porter to Percy Jackson to Ravagers to what not – featuring demi-gods, artificially intelligent life forms, all crowd his mind space. Anoushrayan always an avid reader; reads the stories intently and then makes different versions of them on his own. He then plays them in his mind over and over again, chants the dialogues and sometimes enacts them too. He has turned out to be an acclaimed script writer and is asked to do the same for most school projects.
We had decided to skip travelling out of town in the summer of 2019 as Rajib had to get his cholcystectomy done and would need time to recover. So I started looking for horse riding classes, Anoushrayan had been keen on riding since early childhood but it had really taken his fancy since the ride in Pahalgam, Kashmir where we went in 2018.
I found one that could suit my budget, horse riding is an expensive affair. It was a bit far off yet we signed in, for a preliminary course. We had to go early morning but it being summer helped. The drive was refreshing for the most part, and the place was absolutely delightful. Huge grounds with trees around. The horses were tall, much taller than the ones we rode in Pahalgam.
Anoushrayan took to riding as fish would to water. The head coach who is also the owner of the place – a retired army colonel, was impressed by his natural ease. Though tiring I felt this was worth the long drive and the early wakeup regime even in hols, we are owls – night people, all three of us and early mornings are not our thing.
He was so much at ease that I thought having some shared genes I could give it a try too. But the moment I got up on the beast I was certain I did not share the riding genes in particular. I was very very scared. Over the days I did get a bit comfortable but I am definitely not a rider material.
Over a period of two weeks Anoushrayan picked up trot and canter. The horse seemed to respond to him well. Though it would not be possible to continue the classes once school started, we discussed the possibility of coming back in the breaks.
As planned we bought a Duster just a day before the last day of the horse ridding class, Rajib was fit to drive by then. The last day was a Sunday, Rajib came along as we had planned to dine out on the way back home, may be after a bit of a longer drive to give our Duster a good run.
It was my last riding day as well; we – the not so riding savvy adults were taken for a short ride away from the arena where the budding riders were practising, Anoushrayan being one of them. We were on our return journey, the time having got almost over and then we heard a cry and saw a commotion inside the arena from a distance. Once we reached I saw Anoushrayan on the ground and a lot of people around him. Rajib looked nervous.
Our humpty dumpty had a great fall. The way he explained the fall was hilarious and gave a glimpse of the naive baby that he still was. He knew he was falling from almost a height of 7ft or more and yet he didn’t think it might break his bone. He didn’t think of rolling over or giving cushion to his head, hands or legs simply because he thought nothing would happen after all, nothing ever happened to Tom and Jerry!
There was a doctor on spot and he apprehended a surgery. Anoushrayan was in great pain but he was upbeat and was trying to analyse what might have happened. We rushed to Narayana Multispecialty Hospital in Whitefield that would be nearest to our home as we anticipated multiple to and fro visits. Also having got Rajib’s surgery done in there, we were quite satisfied with the facilities of the place.
Anoushrayan was taken to the emergency ward and diagnosed with ‘Left elbow posterior dislocation and fracture epicondyle’. So 21st Apr 2019 Anoushrayan was admitted to a hospital for the first time in his life in order to have the surgery performed on him. He turned out to be a brave fellow, quite excited to undergo such an experience.
I was not nervous but definitely worried. The late night surgery took quite some time but all went well. The healing would take time, the doctor said and even after a good deal of physiotherapy the elbow might never regain its original position.
I am an optimist and so is Anoushrayan, so we didn’t pay much heed to the nay saying and rather focused on getting a proper physiotherapy done. So we spend the summer vacation visiting the physio lady near our home, and a good job she did. Within 3 months Anoushrayan was completely cured with hardly a tiny mark of the accident.
I had always wanted a pet, a dog to be precise. Rajib also loves pets, he felt very de-stressed when Limca was around. We had also fostered another puppy called ‘Poppy’ for a few days. Both Rajib and Anoushrayan had wanted to keep Limca or Poppy but I was not in a condition then so I promised him a pet once he was 12. So that he can share the responsibility of looking after the pet. He readily agreed. But we figured that summer rather than his birthday month February, would be a good time to bring in the new baby. Thus came Dogmatix in May. A month old shihtzu baby hardly the size of our palm.
The new school session started and Anoushrayan was bowled over by the sheer size of the campus and its grounds. He liked the ambience. Over the months he faced a mixed bag of emotions from his classmates. He faced hostility and humility for something which we were not made aware of till then – apparently he spit while talking and the boys did not take it lightly. The spitting problem could have been an outcome of the braces.
Anoushrayan proved to be good even amongst a good lot, but he started facing good competition and that enthused him. He tried harder and though he failed to score a 100 every time he was close and thus established himself as an academically bright student.
We travelled to Chikmagaloor in August in our duster along with Dogmatix. It was Anoushrayan’s first experience of staying in a coffee estate and he loved the laid back no hoping around trip.
I had planned for a fitness focused summer vacation, which of course did not really materialize but I had been looking for opportunities to get Anoushrayan into some sort of physical sport. The idea came from his classmate’s mother. Her son was into Basketball and since Anoushrayan had an interest about the sport we thought of giving it a try.
It was a real game changer. Anoushrayan emerged from a chubby fellow rounded in the middle to a somewhat elongated boy with a flat tummy. His muscle mass increased, fitness levels enhanced and he started showing off his strength, to the poor mommy of course.
In October we went on a road trip in our duster again with Dogmatix, this time to Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal Aihole and Chitradurga. Anoushrayan had visited Hampi earlier in 2011 but he was a little baby then all of 5, perched up on us most of the time. This time however our 12 year old was my able companion as we went up the Matunga Hill. It was easier to handle Dogmatix with Anoushrayan around as we went on a coracle (round basket boat) ride in the Tungabhadra river that flows beside the ancient grand temples of Hampi.
Right after we came back, we brought Zhauwu, another Shihtzu baby, a month old again. The breeders want to do away with the babies as soon as possible and do not wait till the prescribed 2 months. I feel everyone needs a friend of his/her own kind and so I had planned for two puppies together but that didn’t happen so our doggo babies are 5 months apart. Dogmatix was a full grown Shihtzu at 6 months and Zhauwu was a tiny little thing. He was a complete opposite of Dogmatix; while Dogmatix kept to himself mostly, allowing us to pet him at his will, Zhauwu was always licking and wagging his tail.
Anoushrayan wanted to pet Dogmatix and had been bitten and snapped many times, now with Zhauwu he was free to do rolly polly and licky and whatever his heart desired, finally he had the pet he had always wanted.
In November we shifted to a new housing complex, AWHO Sandeep Vihar, on rent, leaving our small 2bhk flat in Sai Sarovar to the tenants, as we wanted to have more space and amenities for the babies – mine and the adopted ones. For the first time we were staying in a flat that had 4 bedrooms and was more than 2000 sq ft, even Anoushrayan, who is not much concerned about where we stay, was reverential.
Anoushrayan took a few rounds of the campus, which is quite a big one with loads of amenities and is quite delightful, for a couple of days on-foot and cycle (dad had been teaching him to cycle and now he was a pro), and then lost interest; he is anyway the ‘comfortable@home’ kind of person.
In December we went to the Andamans again keeping in mind Anoushrayan’s love for beaches, most of our holidays and trips are now planned in accordance with his holidays and preferences. He loved the sea and the pristine beaches, the boat rides and the overall tranquillity.
1st January 2020 we were back to Bangalore all set for another round of exams – the school’s third term, SOF second level and finally the final session ending exams in march, and thereafter a trip to London and Scotland in summer.
Rajib went to London for a couple of days; his usual office trip and I invited a few of Anoushrayan’s new friends for a small get together. Two of his friends, namely Nandagovind and Vedant were to stay back overnight, this was a first time experience for Anoushrayan and he enjoyed it thoroughly.
We were a tad worried about our visas but all was done in good time by the beginning of February. Anoushrayan entered into teens on the 7th of feb 2020.
And then came, the news first and the embargoes next. The final exams were cancelled hardly after they had just started, within 2 days. The children were all promoted to the next grade nevertheless.
So it was a novel experience for all of us owing to the novel corona virus, being imprisoned in our homes. Anoushrayan was indifferent to the situation. He feels he has everything he needs to entertain himself, at home; in-fact he even cherished the idea of not having to go to a cold place as London/Scotland. The only thing he started missing after a while was food – outside food. His favourites are Subway, KFC, Pizza, pasta and sandwiches/burgers.
Once again my plans for a physical activity laden summer went out of the window. Instead Anoushrayan read a lot of story books, played a lot on his comp and also studied a good deal. He also started learning Guitar.
Anoushrayan was now well into 13 and the colours were showing loud and bright. He was highly distracted at all times. Focus was almost nil. School started online and that gave him the opportunity to be online more often than I would have preferred.
The biggest change in my lad – he started lying often and on. It was as though he was unable to control himself. He started reading stories on some sites while the teacher was teaching in class and when I questioned he would deny. Being a not so seasoned liar he would easily get caught then apologize but then do the same thing again.
His scores fell, missing out a mark or two in almost every subject. But amazingly fared very well in adapting to the online system, together with another friend he found loopholes to chat with certain people he wanted to talk to.
We never had any dreams for him. We are committed to support him in anything that would catch his fancy. He had first wanted to become a sweeper, as the broom was the most exciting thing and our maid always has to sweep while he was asleep or away at school lest he would take it away from her. Next was the garbage truck driver, who he felt drove such a fascinating huge truck and must be oh so powerful. Then he wanted to become a genetic engineer and a scientist and own a farm where a huge number of animals would be housed. He is sticking to it till now.
All our efforts are focused to help him fulfil his dream. He wants to join IISc or IIT; though he has the potential, he is getting driven by his hormones and is getting derailed from the path that might lead to accomplish his desired task. I literally have to work on my nerves to keep him steady on the path by screaming like a banshee most of the time. This is by far the most challenging task I have assigned myself to. Anoushrayan is also trying hard, fighting his hormones, my poor naive teenager. He is righteous and sincere to the core, hardworking and quite an obedient fellow. He respects others, has a very soothing behaviour and has an intelligent streak of humour which is pleasing.
Anoushrayan has been assigned many household tasks and though it took months he slowly managed them well without my surveillance. He is quite capable of taking care of himself and his pets now though he tends to play the baby whenever am around.
Anything digital, the younger generation picks up fast; he also became quite adept in taking shots of the homework and uploading them through which looked like quite a complicated process to me. Though he did miss uploading some tasks on-time, he was more or less consistent. Interesting were the exams, where they had to write on paper in a stipulated time, get the parents to sign it and then take snaps of the answer sheets and upload them in a stipulated time.
After the half yearly exams we started braving the outside in October. We started eating outside food, though nominal. We took a short day trip in our car to Kolar, about two hours from our place. Dogmatix and Zhauwu were kept in a pet boarding along with Jerry (a neighbour’s 3 months old shihtzu baby who had been residing with us for two weeks then on lieu of his parents being away on urgent work). The trip was to take a break and also try out the pet boarding. The boarding thing didn’t work well but our trip was refreshing with good roads and a lovely weather.
In December we took a road trip to Sultan Bathery, Wayanad, Kerala. I had booked a cottage in a plantation and the plan was to chill out. Anoushrayan had a lovely time chilling out with his kindle. He was in the room mostly, taking just a single stroll around the plantation in three days.
On the way from Bangalore to Wayanad, one has to go through Nagarhole, the reserve forest; Anoushrayan was totally oblivious to the beauty of the forest and rather wanted to doze through the scenic journey along with Dogmatix and Zhauwu.
He loves to be in the world of fantasy – aliens, magical creatures, mythology, space or time portals; and as of now earthly things and its bountiful nature does not fascinate him. As he turns 14, time management is the biggest challenge he faces with hordes of activities, loads of dreams and throngs of distractions.
It felt so distant. It felt so far fetched. It never felt like an eventuality. Well I was wrong. Every other child becomes 12 every other day and so did Anoushrayan; on 7th Feb 2019.
The naughty but innocent eyes were expressing feelings yet beyond his comprehension. The little toddling feet had grown taller and stronger than mine. His palm was bigger, his grip was firmer and we now held hands, more for me in need of support.
Flashback 2008. After his first birthday, which we celebrated in Science-city, Kolkata along with both the grandparents, I and Rajib left for Bangalore and my parents and Raspy left for Guwahati – Assam, where my dad was posted at that time in the capacity of a plant protection officer for the govt of India. We visited them off and on. The residence in Guwahati was in a delightful surrounding. It was some distance between the city and the airport and was like an isolated hamlet. Raspy got ample space to play and explore. He got introduced to numerous animals and birds. The two storey house faced the main road and the hill range thereafter. At the back it had a water-body and then fields.
Raspy was a happy child and very much at ease with my parents. Mom had been there since he was born infact before that, so he didn’t differentiate much between mom and me. Mom had put up two huge photographs of me and Rajib on the wall and used to identify them as mamma and dada to him. When I visited them the first time a wonderful thing happened. I had just settled in the drawing room, he had been sleeping when I arrived and presently he was coming out of the bedroom, he looked at me, looked at the photograph, gave a broad grin and ran back into the room. I followed and sat down. He slowly came to me and perched up. It was lovely to see the recognition and love in his beautiful little eyes. He also recognized Rajib with ease when he arrived a few days later and was very happy to have all of us around.
We got his mane cut, having got a barber over to our place and Raspy happily slept through it.
In October Raspy came to Bangalore for a visit with my parents. He was thrilled to see and board the train as earlier he had travelled by plane only. We went on a trip to Mysore and had a lovely time exploring the zoo and the animals through his eyes. Raspy’s jaw literally dropped as he saw the Giraffe. We also visited Udupi and Raspy was at a beach for the first time as we went to Malpe Beach. He loves beaches.
Back then we only had a scooty pep and he loved the little rides standing in front or sandwiched between us.
Flashback 2009. We had trouble toilet training Raspy. One such evening, I wanted to scold him for not trying to learn and took him into my room. I made him stand on the bed so that we became the same height and he could see me in the eye. After a short while I realized he was intently following my mouth and was very intrigued. All this while I was scolding in English, (as ‘am comfortable in the language when agitated or overwhelmed or want to make a point) and there stood my 2 yr old baby with an appreciative look and happy nod. I continued, trying to sound somber. When he had enjoyed enough he jumped on to me and started eating my nose. The last accident on bed happened when he was 6 yrs old which of course was a one off case, by 4 Raspy was well trained.
The time he took to get toilet trained is inversely proportional to the time he took to be english alphabet trained. When he was a little over 4, we were once travelling by train and he started reading station names, as big as Visakhapatanam. We are a family of readers so we have numerous books at our homes, be it Kolkata or Guwahati or Bangalore. So little raspy started reading voraciously, from bottle labels to magazines, one could see the pleasure in his cute almond eyes when he read. He actually always read ever since, he can’t sit without reading. Though now he has choices and preferences, that time he just read not knowing most of the things he read. It was very comforting in a world where parents were literally having to dance on their heads to make their kids read.
The first three years of his life we kept on travelling to and fro between Bangalore, Kolkata and Guwahati, sometimes I / we went, sometimes he came over with my parents or we brought him and dropped back. He was happy everywhere.
I went back to Kolkata with him to stay with mom. Rajib joined us for a short while. He was a little over 2 then and it was time for school. The scheduled day for school arrived and we were all very excited. He was very happy to hang the tiny bag on his shoulders which had a snack box and bottle, all decked up in new cloths. Thus three of us – me, Rajib and Roddur, hand in hand, walked down the lane to the school, namely Kidzee, a little distance away. Raspy’s official nick name is Roddur.
All went well till the lady help took his hand from ours and started to get inside. It was mayhem. We had to bring him back. We tried for a couple of days and then had to give up.
I started looking for other options and found one which had a more open atmosphere. The kidzee near our place was basically a huge decorated hall and apparently Roddur was uncomfortable to go in a walled place without us.
Welland Goldsmith is a school of good repute and they have a kindergarden standing separate from the main school building. Their round hall in a standalone structure had big windows on all sides and was quite airy and sunny. Somehow Roddur liked it to my relief. I wanted him to socialise, mingle with other kids of his age and he did fairly well in getting along with his mates and teachers in the school. All this while he had only been surrounded by adults, mostly people the age of his grandparents.
I was scared if I would be able to recognise him amidst all those tiny tots and an experienced teacher reassured me, “…even if you don’t, he will find you…” and every day he would find me and run back into my arms when the school got over.
We visited Pondicherry in October and once again Raspy loved the beach though there wasn’t much of it. He enjoyed Auroville, the famed concept village. He also loved the boulevard. On the way back we stopped for cakes and it had rum, the poor little guy could not process it and vomited.
Flashback 2010. After a short stint at the play school in Kolkata, Roddur came over to live with us in Bangalore. He was almost 3 then and we decided to get him admitted in a school called Fusco’s School. It is a missionary school run by the nuns. We liked the grounds and the classrooms. It was a perfect place for a tiny tot to discover his surroundings and he enjoyed his Pre-KG and LKG with the wonderful teacher Martha madam, who made him want to go back to the place; but the beginning was a nervous affair.
Anoushrayan was to face an interview the next day for admission in Pre-KG. The Principal would interact with the child, we were briefed previously. We expected her to ask him his name, our name, favourites and stuff like that. We felt it was most imperative to know one’s name; so we had taught him well, both ours and his.
Context one – few days back we had watched the movie Madagascar, and he loved it. He identified himself with Alex(the lion), me with Gloria(the hippo) and Rajib with Marty(the zebra).
Context two – Since his early childhood days my mom would read to him the wonderful Bengali poems and stories written by Sukumar Roy (Satyajit Ray’s father); it is a delight to read them even today. However we identified Anoushrayan with a character called ‘Hijibijbij’, which literally means nonsense. It is a seriously funny character who would make one roll with laughter. So was Anoushrayan, and thus the connect.
Starting a couple of days before the D-day, every time we or anybody else would ask him his name, it was either Alex or Hijibijbij. The eve of the D-day really got me nervous. This was a school in our proximity, a reputed one and within our means, so I wanted him to be admitted there. However hard I tried with the 3 yr old, rolling my eyes and making my voice demure, the answer would not change. Next morning we went all dressed up and as I repeated the question in the car, the little brat gave the most heart warming smile and said, my name is Alex, my mother’s name is Gloria and my father’s name is Marty. I knew not what to do and just sat there twitching nervously till the call came. I kissed him and he kissed back smearing saliva all over my cheek. We went in holding hands, Rajib tailing us. The principal, a nun with a sage like demeanour called him and he ran to her. She asked him his name as we were taking our seats and to my veritable relief, he said Anoushrayan Deysarkar. Man, it did sound sweet!
Every morning we would pack breakfast and drive down the short distance to his school as Anoushrayan was likely to throw up and felt sick if he had to ride after having food. Fusco’s has a big parking lot, we always reached quite early, played a little, fed him, cleaned him up and then walked down the beautiful pathway leading up to the classrooms. He would kiss me and hug me and then bid me goodbye to join his classmates. I would walk back to the parking lot with a heavy heart though I knew I’ll see him in just 2 hrs. It was a routine for 2 years and I re-learned and honed my driving skills in this duration, going over the same route each day.
At around the same time Anoushrayan was experimenting with the gift of his glib, Rajib noticed that he was unable to say ‘coconut’ properly; he could say Canada, Center, Cute, City but not Coconut, on further probing we found that he was converting the ‘C’ to ‘T’ for any word which had ‘CO’ to begin with. I said it’ll get corrected with time but Rajib was worried and started working on it. He would show him how to roll the tongue day after day and interestingly Anoushrayan would keep practising it, I often found him sitting with his toys or in the balcony and repeating the tongue roll. And after many days he was no longer saying ‘totonut’ but had mastered ‘coconut’ and the other words.
Over the years Anoushrayan retained his ability to overcome challenges by sheer hard-work and determination. But again he has to be really convinced about its utility, if he doesn’t feel the need he can be as obstinate as possible to resist learning or practicing. My biggest challenge being making him to do any physical activity / any form of exercise.
Every step that we had taken together had been so vibrant and high on drama that I have never missed the vivacious opportunities of work that I lost in lieu of being with my child 24 by 7.
We were quite invested into photography at this time; we still are but not so extensively, majorly due to lack of time, the pattern of our travels which has changed due to Raspy’s preferences and also to an extent for not being able to use the multitude of photographs we have, productively.
So there we were at Thanjavur at the Brihadeshwara temple. Raspy was tagging me as I clicked and for the most part either I was holding him or he was holding me. Rajib was somewhere happily taking shots of the temple. This one place I had to focus a bit at an extraordinary angle so I made him sit and said he should keep sitting till am back. I was about a yard away from him and yet in his vicinity. I took a couple of shots and possibly had to be out of his sight for a minute or two. As I turned to go back to him, he was not there.
That was the first time in my life, my heart skipped a beat. I had been happy and sad and angry but never never never so scared. I had literally lost him. I ran to where he was sitting, it was a big open space and he was practically nowhere to be seen. Kumbakonam temple is famous for child lifts and Raspy would be an easy target. I called out his name and started walking past a smaller temple structure in whose shadow I had made him sit. A minute later I saw him walking a little ahead of me amidst a crowd calling ‘mamma, mamma’. I ran to him and picked him up.
The lost and found episode must have lasted for a max 3 mnts but those were the longest 3 mnts of my life. I continued to have nightmares about losing him for months thereafter. We lost him a couple of times in supermarkets as he would never stand at a place. He kept moving and if I would stop for a moment to checkout something he would have trotted on somewhere.
Flashback 2011. This was a challenging year. I was finding it very hectic to manage Raspy, a bundle of energy – curious and hyperactive. I mismanaged myself and was diagnosed with diabetes type 2.
We went to kolkata in Oct. Fusco’s was very reluctant about granting leave and I had to make up a lot of stories to get a few days extra. We visited my ancestral village, Karanjali too and Roddur enjoyed wadding around in the pond with my dad.
Flashback 2012. We celebrated his fifth birthday and our tenth anniversary with pomp and show amidst friends and family in Kolkata, the idea was to get him introduced to the multitude of our far and near relatives. I let him choose the cake and to my dismay he chose an airport, I had grand plans for a tiered cake.
Anoushrayan joined a new school Shishya BEML Public School in UKG. The major reason for changing school was the second language. Fusco offered Kannada as second language but we preferred it to be Hindi. Nevertheless he started learning kannada as a third language. This school was even nearer to our residence. It had big grounds and huge classrooms and a number of staircases.
Rashmi Menon was his class teacher in UKG and I was amazed by the way she managed a class full of chattering bundle of energies. She did not pamper them and yet she took great care. She taught them little things like tying shoelaces, stacking the notebooks neatly, eating the snacks in a tidy way. The kids loved her.
Anoushrayan was never any teacher’s pet as he somehow never warmed up to anyone, teacher or classmates, though he liked them all and never complained. The teachers also liked him because of his amicable nature and outstanding performance from the very onset in anything academic.
A lovely boy named Swaroop befriended him in grade 3 or so, otherwise, Anoushrayan turned out to be more of a loner since childhood.
This year, one fine day shortly after moving into the apartment – Dalli Sai Residency, I and Anoushrayan then just 5, stood atop the elevation holding hands. The apartment had a basement parking and one had to drive up an elevation to get to the road. It created an excellent opportunity for a downhill or uphill run. He was scared but we walked down side by side hand in hand. We went up and down, first walking then running, day after day, he trailing me and for years I outran him.
Flashback 2013. Anoushrayan in Grade 1. The respective class teachers would bring the kids to the gate and call out the names at dispersal. I went when she said Anoushrayan. He looked at me, top to bottom, with surprise and suspicion, then he hugged me and then smiled. Moments later, in the car he said, I could not recognise you at first, as you are wearing a full pant (a salwar, I usually wore quarter pants) but when I hugged you I recognised the smell.
We mostly travelled the less than 1km distance to school in our scooty, initially Anoushrayan used to stand in front but as he grew taller than the handle, he had to sit at the back. He would hold tight and my back would have a good backrest. Years later when he grew a lot bigger he would sit a little further back and my comfort was gone.
Well this was the year little Anoushrayan started winning accolades. He reported one afternoon as we were heading back home that he wants to take some exams. I gathered from his diary and his incessant blabbering that he wants to participate in the exams conducted by SOF World which goes by the name Olympiads and he was asking for my consent. I willing gave it and also guided him with his preparation. Anoushrayan was exuberant with joy when his name was called in the assembly, he had stood first in all the three exams he took, namely Maths Science and English. He later told me that he was almost trembling with happiness as he made his way up to the podium to receive the medals and certificate.
Thereafter he kept on bagging many prizes in the field of academics. In grade 5 he received an excellence award for outstanding performance and a hefty amount in prize money. In grade 6 however he wanted to take a break and didn’t appear for any external exam.
This year Anoushrayan got introduced to the idea of a pet. We got two cockatiels from a pet shop and named them Murray and Darling as they are indigenous to Australia. I had taken them for a check up and a lady brought in this little puppy who had been running amuck at a signal, he was hardly 2 months old. She was ready to pay for food, medicines and vaccines but since she had cats at home and a large number of them, she was unable to take him home. The clinic was not in a position to let him be there as he was too young. The only option was to take him home and foster him till he would get adopted.
The lady, the clinic and a few good people tried hard, I and Rajib went to an adoption camp and sat there all day. Anoushrayan was very happy when we came back home with Limca since he had not been adopted, well not that day.
It broke our hearts when he finally had to go. I was not in a position to take care of a pet dog as I was still trying to do some work in the external world and Anoushrayan needed a lot of mamma time.
Among other places we visited Kanyakumari with Anoushrayan, both for the train ride that he loves and the beaches. In fact Anoushrayan took a lot of photographs himself; he has quite a steady hand.
Flashback 2014. I love Art; music, drama, drawing and painting, sculpting; just anything creative, romantic and beautiful. I found a wonderful art (drawing and painting) teacher and would take him there in the evenings thrice a week. I was still committed to professional work at the time, so I would sit in the car working while he, I supposed, would make an inception into the creative world. His drawing copy would have lines and a few drawings which he needed to copy or colour. After about three months, one evening I stepped into the studio where the kids were all spread out and were at different stages of drawing and painting. I found Anoushrayan standing at the teacher’s table and looking at the drawing that she was making. I repeated the visits and always found him standing and watching. The other kids told me that he always does that and never does anything on his own. I had a hunch as his drawing book was rather empty and one day asked him why he is not doing anything and just watching. He said he just likes to watch.
This was one of those rare years when we didn’t go on a vacation out of town. We instead bought a dream flat making a huge investment, which turned out to be a bad debt as it never got constructed, atleast not until feb 2022. Rajib went to London for the first time on office work. Anoushrayan watched chicks hatching from eggs for the first time as our finches went on to extend their family.
Flashback 2015. Starting with Karate at around 5 yrs, we tried Kung fu, dance, Lawn Tennis and Skating before giving up. I felt very humbled at the Tennis court and felt a beautiful balance. In school Anoushrayan was the topper winning accolades in any exam internal or external, so I had to face both appreciation and concealed jealousy. At the court I was the mother of a very dumb player and a subject of sympathy. The coach even told me that he is really worried about my son’s future because if someone can not pick up tennis after almost 2 yrs then how would he manage maths or any subject for that matter in school. I just nodded suppressing a smirk.
His curious mind was ever hungry and school books not being enough I introduced him to the internet. We would watch youtube videos on many topics and thereafter discuss at length. Anoushrayan got lovely teachers in Shishya BEML as he went up the grades, one namely Nisha Madam who taught maths was his favourite. She was strict yet polite and jovial.
Anoushrayan loves energy and energetic people.
We did two wonderful trips this year. One where Anoushrayan had his first stint with mountains – Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal and the second where he had his first encounter with the jungle – Kanha in Nagpur. Anoushrayan was fascinated when we came face to face with a Royal Bengal Tiger but wasn’t much impressed about the snow capped mountains and rather grew distaste for the cold accompanied with it. He loved the vintage toy train ride in Darjeeling though and of course the pony ride.
Flashback 2016. A 9 year old Anoushrayan was all excited about his first trip abroad, and so was his 41 yr old mother as it was her first too! Unless Nepal is considered foreign which I and Rajib visited in 2013 without Raspy.
So Singapore was the destination for the summer of 2016. The zoos and the wonders of Sentosa were overwhelming for Anoushrayan but he thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Being accompanied by my parents on this trip added the extra pampering he always enjoys around them.
In October we plunged into another kind of sea – the sea of sands. Anoushrayan was thrilled to ride a camel in Khuri desert where we spent two nights in an unusual tent like setting. Jaisalmer is a household name, thanks to ‘Sonar Kella’ by Satyajit Ray and Anoushrayan was extremely happy to be on the scene that he had seen on tabloid so many times.
Flashback 2017. Here we were at the same elevation where in 2012 I outran Anoushrayan, now he could outrun me by far more number of seconds. He sometimes even dragged me up as I got out of breath, helped push the scooter up if need be. My little boy had grown up.
The dream flat (Skylark Ithaca) we had booked, was due in march 2017 and the work was going on in full swing, there was a possibility of a delay as is normal with most big projects and to be on the safe side we decided to change Anoushrayan’s school from the next session that is next grade and also move our residence closer to Ithaca. In effect he would not have to travel a longer distance in case we got the flat in possession any time during his school year.
We bought a small 2bhk in Sai Sarovar Apartment near Skylark Ithaca with our remaining means, thinking we would live there for at most 6 months before moving into Ithaca, and Anoushrayan was admitted to Mount Litera Zee School nearby for grade 5.
Combining farewell and birthday we threw a small party for his friends from school and it was good fun. This time the cake was black forest with fruits.
In the summer of 2017 we shifted to Whitefield on the outskirts of Bangalore. We were fortunate to find the last remaining white fields of eucalyptus plantations from where the area got its name. Our balcony became home to sparrows eliminating the need to keep caged birds. We had anyway given away all our birds before we shifted to this smaller place.
Anoushrayan not only managed to fit in the new school but also managed to win the hearts of his classmates, teachers, and even the principal. It was in this school that Anoushrayan gained humongous confidence regarding his abilities and emerged as a beautiful all-round soothing personality, thanks to his wonderful teachers, Bharati Madam who had been his class teacher and mentor needs a special mention as she had been largely instrumental in his growth. Anoushrayan made two good friends, Saket and Premraj.
The school has a swimming pool – half Olympic size, and swimming was part of the curriculum as was skating. He also started taking additional swimming classes in the evening and to our delight was eager about it and picked it up rather quickly and learned well enough to hold on till the rescuers arrive in case of any emergency situation. It is imperative to mention here that earlier when he was younger we had enrolled him for swimming classes and it was a complete failure, as he was outright scared of the coaches and their strict methods, he preferred free-floating and a little doggy paddling as my dad had taught him at our village pond. The coaches won’t allow that and hence his aversion towards swimming.
This was again another rare year of no travels but Anoushrayan didn’t complain. We went for a short trip to Horseley Hills nearby. He loves to spend time at home with his computer and books and is happy playing with me and one or two select friends.
Flashback 2018. The onset of 2018, namely the month of February his birth month, marked his first big stage performance as an anchor of the Annual Day Program for his school. He was enthused by the appreciation and applause.
A few days before the annual function in January, Anoushrayan was given braces in an attempt to correct his mole teeth look.
In his summer vacations, we went to Kashmir via Delhi. This was Anoushrayan’s first visit to the capital of our country. He liked Delhi. In Kashmir the most significant event for Anoushrayan was the pony ride in Pahalgam. He enjoyed the Gondola in Gulmarg but it was too cold for his liking.
Once again a change of school was on the cards. NPS came up in the lane next to Zee school; this was even nearer to our residence, Sai Sarovar Apartment. NPS is known for its academic orientation and that aligns perfectly with Anoushrayan’s demeanour. He loves to gather knowledge and can be at it for hours. No other vocation attracts him, neither sports nor cultural activities. So we decided to give it a try; I filled out the forms and Anoushrayan appeared for the written entrance exam and interview in October.
Winters took us to Madurai and Rameshwaram. Anoushrayan tried snorkeling and loved it. We tried banana boating but it turned out to be quite strenuous for us. Anoushrayan was fascinated standing at the last land point of India at Dhanushkoti.
Flashback 2019. Anoushrayan witnessed a ceremonial wedding for the first time. My niece got married in Kolkata and we all went to attend it taking special leave from school. I would not say he enjoyed the ceremonies cause it was too complex and crowded for his liking with all my cousins and their families around but it definitely gave him a sense of how big families can be. Being out of Kolkata for the most sensible part of his life till now, he had never known family apart from just his parents and grandparents.
We also took the opportunity to take a peek at the Sundarbans – the famed mangrove forests that are the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Anoushrayan loved the boat rides, he is too happy when he doesn’t have to walk, doesn’t have to write… in a nutshell doesn’t have to do anything which involves engaging his physical self actively. And yet he loves to ride… horse, camel… don’t know what else…
Back in Bangalore we had a lot to look forward to… one of them was to arrange for the party we had planned for Anoushrayan which was again going to be a farewell cum birthday bash.
And then he was 12. 155cm tall, 54kgs.
Time doesn’t fly; it stands still; in those images, that the camera lens creates and our sweet memories that never fade and need no technology to preserve.