Tabula Rasa – A caregiver’s plight!

Have you mashed the fruit?”

“Have you put put on the diaper?”

“I hope the milk is not warm.”

“Look! Today she is laughing.”

“She drank juice on her own today.”

“Do wash her doll. It’s rather dirty.”

This is our daily conversation but my husband and I are not discussing our little child but his mother. She is 85, helpless, bedridden and self-absorbed in her own world, cuddling a soft-doll all day. Although we take care of her from morning till night, she does not even know our name. She is suffering from Alzheimer, a progressive neurological disease.

As care givers it has been a learning experience for me and my husband mostly through trial and error. There are not many facilities available for this incurable disease, both for diagnosis and treatment, the world over but coming from a small town, Allahabad, in northern part of India, we have been deprived of any kind of geriatric care for doctors feel old people do not need so much of concern.

In a country overflowing with people,such apathy towards the elderly is shocking.India is among 57 countries of the world,hit by shortage of trained health professionals.As against the requirement of 700,000 doctors we have just 17,000 doctors according to a survey conduct.The percentage of 80 plus population is 19.1 percent. With increasing patients afflicted with Dementia ,the figure of doctors is skewed indeed !

As both of us work , we need someone to assist us but professional help is not available. Home care attendants are still not easily available as the industry is in a nascent stage.The nurse we keep most often does not maintain a professional attitude and may not turn up when needed. She may not take care of the patient’s hygiene when we are not around. Though our means are modest yet we try to splurge more on the person assisting mother. Often times too much indulgence on our part becomes a tool of blackmail for them. They threaten to leave, ask to double the wage or tend to become complacent while looking after the patient. We often come home to see the nurse drowsy or rapt in a soap opera rather than tending to our mother, who has wet her bed. These two years have been spent in endless entry and exit of nurses. Ultimately, we have decided to end this dependence on external help and have taken matters in our own hands.

As caregivers we have spent hours surfing the net, to find any remedies that might help in stabilizing the disease or delaying its progression. The tragic part of this disease is that memory lapses are often taken as a normal ageing process, even by doctors. We could not fathom why mother was not able to remember terms, faces, sequence of events while she could remember her childhood with clarity. By the time we could figure out her incoherence in speech, she had graduated to incontinence, having trouble with dressing up, bathing and eating. If there has been a crumb of food on her person, the ants attack her bed. If she is wearing a diaper too long, she develops rash or worse bed-sores.Reclining on one side for too long ,she develops pressure sores.

Cooking, cleaning, looking after patient’s hygiene, doing rounds of hospital, running errands and keeping oneself buoyant has not been easy. One of us is there for her all the time. We have no social life. We are always rushing home, afflicted with this Cinderella -syndrome, thinking something might happen to her. Sometimes being in our sterile and clinical smelling home for too long, we fear of our old age. If I forget a name, face or can’t find an item I misplaced, I fear for my future. We are fighting this disease along with mother. The only thing to counter this disease is to look after our diet and our mental wellness. Reading, learning languages, Sudoku, cross-word and regular vigorous exercises are a few ways to prevent dementia from striking early. In the end, all we can do is to give a life of dignity to our loved ones, in our nurture and care. Alas! There is nobody to care for the caregivers.

A devoted son continuously played music for his mother in the hope that it might trigger a memory and she might know him once again!

A devoted son continuously played music for his mother in the hope that it might trigger a memory and she might know him once again!

Note to the reader: This post, a first person account, was written by my dear friend Mamta Joshi, who along with her husband, looked after her mother in law for days which turned into months which turned into years. Her mother in law passed away two years ago but it is only now that Mamta could get herself to write about what they, as care givers, went through. The article shook me up and I could not even begin to imagine what their lives must have become. Will they now, “free” from responsibility, but having lost in time due to lack of help, be able to live their lives fully again?

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The painted towns of Shekhawati: Past and present

An absolutely wonderful post on the Shekawati region of Rajasthan by my friend Sudha.

My Favourite Things

Ilay Cooper’s book on Shekhawati set me off on a trip to that region earlier this year. It turned out to be an extraordinary trip to an extraordinary place, and I had to wait for nearly six months before I felt ready to write about it — so overwhelming were my thoughts and emotions.

Presenting the first of eight posts on the painted towns of Shekhawati. It is a brief account of the region’s history, an introduction to the series really, in order to understand the region’s past and present, in the context of the Shekhawati Series.


Shekhawati is one of the four regions of Rajasthan, the others being Mewar, Marwar and Hadoti). Spread over Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Churu districts of Rajasthan, it is best known for its grand and palatial havelis (mansions), and also many of India’s well-known business families — Birla, Poddar, Bajaj, Jhunjhunwala, Khaitan, Oswal, Piramal, Ruia…

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2014 in travel – my year that was

How does one even begin to write about dreams that come true? What does one feel when dreams come true? Satisfaction, happiness, bliss, gratitude, disbelief, alive? 2014 brought life to many a dream destination.

Iceland and the Northern Lights: Iceland in the snow, under darkness, was an experience. For more on the same read my posts. Watching the Aurora Borealis unfold its magic over a one week trip to Iceland. The date with the goddess of dawn on January 1, 2014 was the best gift I will ever receive. Uptil the 31st of December 2013 the skies had remained cloudy and the sightings had been extremely poor. The new year changed it all. Stars shone, it was an almost no moon night, the clouds gave way and the green lights danced for well over an hour as our group screamed and shouted and jumped up and down on the snow in disbelief.

The Aurora Borealis show and on of its starstruck spectators. ( Pic courtesy: Jon Frost of www.solstice.is)

The Aurora Borealis show and one of its starstruck spectators.
( Pic courtesy: Jon Frost of http://www.solstice.is)

Do you see a face? I did? The lights moved, danced, faded out, came on bright again. It was a spectacle totally unimaginable. ( Pic courtesy: Jon Frosti of www.solstice.is)

Do you see a face? I did? IThe lights moved, danced, faded out, came on bright again. It was a spectacle totally unimaginable. ( Pic courtesy: Jon Frosti of http://www.solstice.is)

Andalucia, Spain: Granada and Sevilla, delightful Andalucian stops. We love places where the people are friendly, the pace is laidback, food is delicious and wine flows freely. Sevilla was music with the traditional flamenco and Granada very old worldly. Cobbled streets. Easy to walk around. Studenty atmosphere . Free tapas bars. The Cathedral at Seville and the Alhambra at Granada were undoubtedly the highlights. The winter meant fewer tourists and more locals. This added to the ambience of both the delightful towns.

The grand Cathedral at Seville and the Giralda

The grand Cathedral at Seville and the Giralda

The Alhambra

The Alhambra

Bharatpur, Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan: This was a destination which was more than just birds. A sanctuary, a haven, an island of peace. Whilst my friends went gaga over the amazing species of migratory birds we spotted, I loved meandering and getting lost amongst the green and the brown that dotted the foliage. There was no rush to move. The more you stopped and stared, the more you soaked it all in.

The woods were lovely, dark and deep

The woods were lovely, dark and deep

The islands of peace and migratory birds

The islands of peace and migratory birds

Bhopal-Sanchi-Bhimbetka,Madhya Pradesh: Another humbling circuit. I was in front of the Sanchi Stupa. The history book pictures came alive. The stone enveloped me in its embrace and I stood transfixed. Is this what moksha feels like? I don’t think I was ready to give up life (greedy for travel that I am) but yes, the deep rooted contentment was a special feeling. Bhopal, with its lakes, layout, old-wordly charm turned out to be a pleasant town to walk through. The Jehanuma Palace, our home for the duration of our stay, was luxury. Bharat Bhavan was serene and the Manav Sangrahalaya was of world class standard. Bhimbetka was the surprise. We walked through the rock cut shelters and stopped to view the famous Bhimbetka Cave Paintings dating back to the Pre-Historic Age. This comprised15 rock shelters occupied by early men containing cultural sequences from Lower Paleolithic to Mesolithic. An unreal feeling to walk where life would have begun millions of years ago.

The Sanchi Stupa - an mage out of history text books!

The Sanchi Stupa – an image out of history text books!

The entry to the Manav Sangrahalaya

The entry to the Manav Sangrahalaya

A painting of  a procession in one of the caves at Bhimbetka dating back to pre-historic times

A painting of a procession in one of the caves at Bhimbetka dating back to pre-historic times

Srinagar, Kashmir: This was yet one more trip of my dreams. My mother had expressed a desire to see Kashmir when she was all of 10 years of age. It took her another 77 years before her dream came true. For her it was a few days in heaven; for me it was a lifetime of happiness seeing her so pleased. Memories which will be mine to cherish till as long as I live. We sipped kahwa under the sun, watched the shikaras float by, felt ourselves to be the luckiest as we walked through the Tulip Gardens and giggled like school girls as we snuggled up to each other at night. Thank you Mom for giving me this trip.

The Tulip Gardens , Srinagar

The Tulip Gardens , Srinagar

A Shikara selling flowers, early morning on Nageen Lake in Srinagar

A Shikara selling flowers, early morning on Nageen Lake in Srinagar

Viratkhai and Sursinghdhar, Uttarakhand: Camping in the majestic Himalayas with the only sound being the occasional chirping of birds and your own heart beat. Sit under the stars and be one with nature. Eat the local pahadi dal and roti, try the local toddy and chat with the friendliest of mountain folk. Long treks to spot birds, wake up early to watch sunrise, lie flat on your back to be able to see the tops of the tall trees, the Himalayas had their own majesty. ( This trip was organised with the adventure group www.gio.in)

Sunrise in the Himalayas at Viratkhai

Sunrise in the Himalayas at Viratkhai

The pine forests around Sursinghdhar, so tall  that one had to lie flat on the ground to see their full height !

The pine forests around Sursinghdhar, so tall that one had to lie flat on the ground to see their full height !

Perugia, Italy: The town where my love affair with Italy grew beyond leaps and bounds. It was wonderful to go back there with my family after a gap of seven years. Time brings it changes yet all the old haunts were still alive. The streets were cobbled, running up and down the hill as much fun, the panorama still as stunning and the university still the dynamic place it was when I had entered its haloed portals as a student. We found ourselves a tucked away apartment in the Artists’ Street in the citta storica and spent a month working by day and enjoying by evening.

The panorama from the end of Corso Vanucci in Perugia

The panorama from the end of Corso Vanucci in Perugia

One of the many cobbled alleys and steps which make Perugia ever so charming a town

One of the many cobbled alleys and steps which make Perugia ever so charming a town

Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu: Tranquebar was renamed Tranquilbar from the minute we reached this quaint fishing village on the Coromandel Coast. The seat of the erstwhile Danish East India Company, this is a charming, laidback one-street town with some beautiful structures in its old quarter. The highlight of the town is the old Collectors Bungalow now refurbished by the Neemrana group into a boutique hotel called Bungalow on the Beach. Aptly named so as it is the only sign of civilisation on the beach flanked by an old temple one side and the Dansborg Fort on the other. Tranquebar’s local name is Tharangambadi which translates into The Land of the Singing Waves. The perfect getaway to read, swing, watch the sunrise, walk in the waves and soak in the ambience. Time really can stop still if you are in Tranquebar.

The 700 year old Masilamani Nathar Temple built in 1306 by the Pandya King Maravarmam Kulasekara Pandyan is unique in its architecture. It was built combining Chinese architecture with Tamil architectural technique, possibly in an attempt to attract Chinese merchants who were visiting India.

The 700 year old Masilamani Nathar Temple built in 1306 by the Pandya King Maravarmam Kulasekara Pandyan is unique in its architecture. It was built combining Chinese architecture with Tamil architectural technique, possibly in an attempt to attract Chinese merchants who were visiting India.

Fort Dansborg built by the Danes in the 17th century now stands derelict and forlorn. The cross indicates the points where the missionaries landed in 1706.

Fort Dansborg built by the Danes in the 17th century now stands derelict and forlorn. The cross indicates the points where the missionaries landed in 1706.

Goa: The year ended on as high a note as it had begun. I had visited Goa often but never at Christmas. The streets were abuzz with lights, festoons, people, smell of cakes, sound of carols and lit-up churches. Four of us, along with some family, had converged in Goa for a friends’ reunion at the happy occasion of friend’s daughter’s wedding. The bonhomie of Christmas was infectious and it was fun to soak in the sand, sun and sea by day and revel in lobsters, shrimps, jacket potatoes and good wine by the evening. Add to it, the exposition of the relics of St Francis Xavier (a decennial event) and I felt lucky to be in Goa at this point.

The beautiful Churches of Old Goa

The beautiful Churches of Old Goa

The Arabian Sea , Calangute Beach

The Arabian Sea , Calangute Beach

Wedding memories

Wedding memories

This post should have gone up at the end of 2014 but the hangover of getting back from Goa and the shock of entering a freezing North India took its toll. 2015 has begun well for me and I wish the same for all of you who stop by to read my posts. Happy 2015 and memorable travels 🙂

Posted in Aurora Borealis, birds, camping, cave paintings, exposition, Gardens, Heritage, Himalayas, History, Iceland, Incredible India, Indian monuments, Love, memories, migratory, Moors, Nature, Northern Lights, prehistoric, relics, sanctuary, solitude, Travel, tulips, world heritage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reykjavik – an experience

Reykjavik, which so far had only been a name heard in Hardy Boys novels or the geography book!

Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital. A town on the coast,a population of about 2.30,000. Shaped by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. At latitude 64 08’N it is the world’s northernmost capital. Founded in 1786 ( though history dates the first permanent settlement in what is now the town to AD 870), Reykjavik is one of world’s greenest, safest and cleanest cities.( source: Wikipedia)

Waking up was unreal. Who would have ever imagined that we would be drinking our morning cuppa looking out to a starry, starry night? Soon, breakfasting at about 9am but still under the moonlight shining in through the window and under lamplight?

Breakfast under lights - a first

Breakfast under lights – a first

Yes, we were experiencing about 20 hours of darkness. A sunrise at 11.31am and a sunset at 3.29 pm meant about four hours of very dim light. For the rest, we were in complete darkness. But did life stop? Not at all. I sat all day by the window watching the town wake up. Soon lights were switched on in offices just across. The shops lifted their shutters. Cyclists, walkers, cars buzzed on the road. Everyone went about their daily chores just as we would , except that it was dark!. This took a little getting used to and for a day our minds refused to come in tune with our body clocks.

A regular morning. Lights start coming up as people reach work by 10am.

A regular morning. Lights start coming up as people reach work by 10am.

Our apartment, downtown, on the main street, Laugavegur, proved to be an unbeatable location. We could walk to almost every place and still be able to come back for a short rest. Life soon settled into a pattern after Day 1. We would head out by about 9.30am, walk to the nearest thermal baths, swim in the heated pool and then dip in the open air sauna . The day’s plans were chalked out while in the sauna, greetings exchanged with Icelanders. This was such a local tradition; I think almost the entire area converged to the thermal baths. Did anyone ever bathe at home? Ready, we would head out to a new lane everyday. The snow laden streets, the bare branches, the roofs with their colour shining through the snow, blue skies, chilly winds, and snowfall, was what we lived with for a week. Each walk was different even though we were exploring the same town. Shop windows and home entrances were dressed up for Christmas, lights were on most of the time, smoke used to come out of the chimneys indicating a constant huddle on the hob and very often we would smell the aroma of freshly baked bread and cakes.

Snow capped surroundings

Snow capped surroundings

Benches which would see a lot of activity in summer

Benches which would see a lot of activity in summer

A boy going to school

A boy going to school

Bare branches - something very appealing about them

Bare branches – something very appealing about them

 The warmth of the surroundings ( despite the chill), the smoke wafting out of chimneys, the aroma of fresh baking conjured up images of families huddled together playing, laughing chatting

The warmth of the surroundings ( despite the chill), the smoke wafting out of chimneys, the aroma of fresh baking conjured up images of families huddled together playing, laughing chatting

The main ‘tourist’ spots in Reykjavik are the Hallsgrimskirkja Church, the Harpa and the lake. We added a walk to the buzzing Hot Dog Corner as one more.

The Church

Iceland’s largest church and the sixth tallest architectural structure, Hallsgrimskirkja, was designed by the state architect to resemble the basalt lava flow of Iceland’s landscape. It is situated in the centre of Reykjavik, high on a hill, and is visible from every part of the town. The church houses a large pipe organ.

The Hallgrimskirkja silhouetted

The Hallgrimskirkja silhouetted

The large pipe organ in the church, 15 metres tall and weighing 25 tonnes.

The large pipe organ in the church, 15 metres tall and weighing 25 tonnes.

The church is also used as an observation tower. A lift takes you up to the viewing deck and you can view the entire town and surrounding mountains.

View from the viewing deck

View from the viewing deck

The Harpa

The Harpa is located by the old harbour in between the city centre and North Atlantic. A building based on hexagonal shaped glass tubes, the Harpa is a conference hall, auditorium and main concert and arts centre. The structure consists of a steel framework clad with geometric shaped glass panels of different colours.

The Hot Dog Corner

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, which means the ‘best hot dogs in town, is a must-stop in any visit to Reykjavik.Opened in 1937, Baejarins Beztu is a tiny red shack by the harbor with a view of the stunning Harpa concert hall. Long lines outside Baejarins Beztu are as likely at 5 a.m. as they are at lunch, and happy customers sit on the two wooden picnic benches if it’s 50 degrees or zero. An almost daily stop in our week long stay in Reykjavik, the daughter was ready to brave even a gale on one day so as not to miss out on her hot dog.

Braving the wind for a hot dog

Braving the wind for a hot dog

Life in small towns is so comforting. You learn the ways quickly; you start recognising people; people get to know you. We felt we ‘belonged’ when the local vendors greeted us as cheerily as they did the locals. Tired after long walks through the day, often slow because of the snow, we used to love heading to one of the many pubs/cafes which dot Laugavegur. Friendly and welcoming acquired a new definition when we discovered that only were children but even pets were allowed in pubs Sitting cross-legged by the window with a rug on our knees and warm heaters under the table, we loved sipping our wine or even downing some chilled beer. The daughter could not believe it that she was in pubs; that loud noise and smoke was not the norm; that no one would ask her to leave or hang over our shoulders waiting for the seat to be vacated.

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The Lake

Walking over a frozen lake was a first for all of us. All our experiences were proving to be a ‘first’ and this was no exception. A frozen lake found us one day as we exited a lunch place. The strains of Swan Lake wafted through my mind as I gingerly tapped the ice with my feet. Would it break under and would we be in deep waters (literally)? A gaggle of geese and a group of children traversing the stretch reassured us that we could attempt the same. We pretended we were skating; often waltzing; as we made our way diagonally across. A note to self was to come back one day and see the same in summer or autumn with the water sparkling, the flowers blooming and the benches full of people.

Did I hear you humming Swan Lake just like I did?

Did I hear you humming Swan Lake just like I did?

Some day I will come back here on a summer day

Some day I will come back here on a summer day

New Year in Reykjavik

The New Year was round the corner and the tradition was to go bonfire – hopping. Each locality lit a huge bonfire and the people of that area met, exchanged sweets, and danced around it singing traditional songs. It kind of reminded me of the Indian Lohri festival. As January 1, 2014 was going to be a long day for us as we were going on an excursion, we limited ourselves to the bonfire in our area; came back for dinner; and then made our way along with hundreds of others to the Hallsgrimskirkjka to bring in the new year. The celebration is like the Indian Diwali with everyone armed with candles, sparklers and fireworks. While the coast guards light up the most amazing fireworks display at the stroke of midnight, the locals also played with their own sparklers while guzzling on beer. Our hospitable host. Arnar, had already bought the daughter a set of what looked like our ‘phuljhadis’ and two cones very much like our ‘anars’. He had also brought special glasses through which to view the fireworks. As the crowd grew, so did the noise, the music, the crescendo and soon enough it was 12 midnight and the turn of the year. Kisses, hugs, champagne pops and dazzling lights filled the atmosphere.

Truly a night to remember, each moment of which will remain etched clearly in our mind’s eye.

A wonderland, a fairy tale which set the tone of 2014 for us. Thank you Iceland for giving us a memorable year

A wonderland, a fairy tale which set the tone of the year for us. Thank you Iceland for giving us a memorable start to year 2014

Posted in Architecture, Aurora Borealis, Europe, History, Iceland, memories, Northern Lights, Poetry, Reflections, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A walk through Lodi Gardens – a photo essay

The daughter was busy at a Christmas carnival in school. The husband was away on tour. I found myself with a few hours to spare. Rather than snuggle under a cosy blanket with a book and a steaming cuppa (very tempting indeed), pulled on the warmies, boots, muffler, earmuffs and cap. Looking ready to tackle the temperatures of Iceland, I made my way to Lodi Gardens.

Lodi Gardens remains a favorite spot for most. One of the few havens of green in the heart of the city with myriad possibilities. You can play, picnic, connect with family, walk by yourself ; a modern day imagery juxtaposed so easily against the backdrop of some of the most beautiful monuments Delhi is proud to have as its legacy.

The long drive was well worth it. With the afternoon sun making an appearance I walked along the paths I had tread ever so often as a college goer. Stopped by at a favorite corner to get the best angle for a shot. Stood under the dense foliage to let the green take over. Ambled my way midst groups singing, picnicking, lazing, kids playing Frisbee, cricket, badminton (yes, it was nice to find a whole lot of sporty kids than those glued to their cell phones or video games). Breathed in the aroma of adrak ki chai and bhunna chana which came wafting through. Walked up and down, in and out of the monuments. Allowed the magic to calm me down and warm me all over.

The walk begins

The walk begins, under the dense foliage of age old trees which define Lodi Gardens

The walk begins, under the dense foliage of age old trees which define Lodi Gardens

Walking over the Athpula ( eight piered) bridge, built in the late sixteenth century by Mughal Bahadur, a nobleman in the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, one comes across the only water body in this park spread over 90 acres .

This water body is all that remains of the tributary of the Yamuna which once flowed through this part of Delhi.

This water body is all that remains of the tributary of the Yamuna which once flowed through this part of Delhi.

The outer walls of the enclosure housing the tomb of Sikander Lodhi, Delhi Sultanate, built in 1517 AD.

The outer walls of the enclosure housing the tomb of Sikander Lodhi, Delhi Sultanate, built in 1517 AD.

The Sheesh Gumbad

The Sheesh Gumbad or Glass Dome , so called possibly because of the blue tiles which adorned it, remnants of which are still visible at the top of the facade. Late fifteenth or early sixteenth century

The Sheesh Gumbad or Glass Dome , so called possibly because of the blue tiles which adorned it, remnants of which are still visible at the top of the facade. Late fifteenth or early sixteenth century

The Sheesh Gumbad, housing graves of an unknown family, dates back to the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. It is square in architectural style as opposed to a lot of the monuments of the period which were octagonal. Its setting amidst the age-old darakht (trees) and the spread out green commands grandeur and pride.

The sun sets on the Sheesh Gumbad as the last rounds of an animated discussion still continue.

The sun sets on the Sheesh Gumbad as the last rounds of an animated discussion still continue.

The Bara Gumbad

Walking up to the Bara Gumbad

Walking up to the Bara Gumbad

A square structure built during the Lodi period (1451-1526), the Bara Gumbad is by far the most imposing of all the structures in Lodi Gardens. In the centre is a kind of gateway with the remains of a water tank in the courtyard before it. To the left is what served as a resting area and a guest house and to the right is a three-domed mosque with five arched openings. The interiors are beautifully inscribed with aayats from the Quran and with geometric and floral designs.

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The Sheesh Gumbad seen from the Bara Gumbad

The Sheesh Gumbad seen from the Bara Gumbad

One of the intricately decorated arches of the mosque

One of the intricately decorated arches of the mosque

The exterior wall of the Bara Gumbad group of monuments

The exterior wall of the Bara Gumbad group of monuments

The tomb of Muhammad Shah

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This octagonal structure with beautifully carved chambers, chajjas and guldastas was built in the year 1444 for Muhammad Shah, a ruler of the Sayyid dynasty.

The foliage of Lodi gardens and the setting sun

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Two hours later only a phone call forced me out of my reverie; else I could have spent some more just standing and staring. Lodi Gardens, you are my very own haven of peace, of memories, of nostalgia. So long as I keep coming back to you, the dreamer me in will stay alive.

Some favorite shots before I left

A group of happy students walk into the Bara Gumbad

A group of happy students walk into the Bara Gumbad

Happy picnickers

The best picnics happen at Lodi Gardens

The last look as I left the gardens

The last look

Posted in Architecture, Gardens, Heritage, History, Incredible India, Indian monuments, Lodhi dynasty, memories, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

On a cold and wintry night

On a cold and wintry night

Walking down the street

Homeward bound

Alone yet not alone

In a city which never dies

Buzzing with activity

A pair of hands came forward

Help thought I

They reached from behind

They groped

They fondled

They pushed

They pulled

They pressed

Down on me

On my self

And on my soul

Left nothing untouched

I cried out

I howled

I was in pain

Inside and out

But the whole world went deaf

For a few minutes, the entire world went deaf

Broken and bruised

I covered my wounds

I took a bath

But I still felt so unclean

Will I ever heal?

Will I ever be whole?

Will I ever feel safe?

Because

I know

They will still be around

In dark alleys

In crowded buses

On busy roads

Amidst long queues

In days

In nights

In evenings

In every time lapse

 But I still have to go back

On a cold and wintry night

Walking down the street

Homeward bound

Alone yet not alone

In a city which never dies

Buzzing with activity.

(Note to the reader: This was composed in December 2012 post the Nirbhaya case; two years have passed since this horrific incident but nothing else has changed!)

jayanti on a cold and wintry night1-1

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Iceland Explored ( Part I)

December 2013.

Planning our winter break and feeling adventurous. “Let’s do some place we would not think of going to. A terrain we would not think of exploring. An activity we would not ever imagine ourselves doing,” said the husband.

“A tall order, hah?” exclaimed the daughter!

“Iceland, let us go to Iceland”, said I.

“Iceland? In this cold? You want to get colder Mommy? Don’t we freeze here?”

“Iceland? Where on earth (literally) is Iceland?” enquired the husband jumping up. “Atlas, Atlas, wherefore art thou? “

Questions galore; excitement, palpable; destination, appealing.

And so Iceland, it was. That it was far but not really all that far. That it was an island. That we would be in snow-clad country. That we would live in an apartment with heated floors. That we would be experiencing almost 21 hours of darkness. That we would have a possibility of viewing the Northern Lights. So many reasons to go and not one not to!

Almost 20 hours after boarding our KLM flight from home (including transit time at Schiphol, Amsterdam), having covered 7630 kms, we approached Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik.

It was 3.30pm in the afternoon and a faint glimmer of light on the horizon was the only sign of life. The ground below us was barren and dark brown till as far as the eye could see with some patches of white breaking in.

“Are we landing on the moon”, asked the daughter? “And why are there no cars or people?”

I had no answer to give her. The three of us held hands in excitement as the wheels of the aircraft hit the tarmac. We knew this was going to be one of the most memorable holidays ever experienced by us.

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Some, “Did you know”, facts about Iceland:

• All the aircrafts of IcelandAir are named after volcanoes. Ours was named Herdubreid, after an extinct volcano in the highlands of North Iceland. It is a ‘tuya’, a volcano formed under a glacier.
• The population of Iceland is 320,000 of which two-thirds lives in the capital town of Reykjavik.
• The second largest town is Akureyri which has a population of 70,000.
• Pure water, straight from the springs, flows through all the taps.
• The currency, krona, has coins which feature beautiful sea creatures.
• Iceland has no army, no airforce, no navy.
• There is one golf course per every 4824 people.
• 112 is the universal emergency number.
• The Prime Minister is listed in the telephone book.

( Coming up soon, blogposts on the highlights of our stay in Reykjavik, the Golden Circle Tour and my appointment with the Goddess of Dawn, the Aurora Borealis.)

Posted in Aurora Borealis, Europe, Iceland, Northern Lights, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments