Thursday, 30 May 2013

A shower of flowers

The heat of the summer. Hot winds hitting and lashing at us as we step outside. A short journey to my favourite place, Tippasandra, with its  narrow lanes and bylanes, picturesque little houses, leafy green shrubs and magnificent trees, is always welcome. Forming a canopy over both sides, the trees shelter and protect us from the harsh elements. And now that summer is here, they have burst open, ushering in a flowering carnival of pinks, fuchsias, violets, mauves, bright yellows and the ever-so-soothing white flowers.

A feast to my eyes. I  gaze up and a rain shower erupts. A delicate shower that drenches us in yellow. Even more in awe, the kids scramble to collect the beautiful yellow flowers that are falling on our heads like little blessings from heaven. An incessant drizzle of yellow, raining from the trees above. A carpet of gold forms  .I look for their names. No one seems to know - the nondescript, bright yellow bounties. Aloha, maybe? They certainly look like aloha flowers. Never seen anything like this shower before. Another wonder of the world? I am in the midst of something so precious, so beautiful, an absolute joy of creation.

An aloha shower? Halleluiah!! 

           Aloha flowers

Monday, 20 May 2013

The journey - the destination

  The life of  Hampi *

I gaze out of the window. A vast swathe of green and blue greets my eyes. As far as I can see, rolling sugarcane fields, lush banana plantations, palm trees, lilies gracefully dot the blue waters. My mind floats, on the stillness of the lily filled lake, with the beautiful bamboo branches that bend and sway so effortlessly, almost dancing to the tunes of the breeze.
I sit back, and think of the times, many hundreds of years ago, when people of a different era, inhabited this place, led their lives, as we do now. And I wonder what their lives were like? The very lives that left behind only vestiges of stories, through boulders and intricate carvings on stones , just shards of imagination and nothing more. And wonder, what will it be like, many hundreds of years later? When all of us, and our little souls in this vast universe, have left for ever, leaving perhaps only the faintest of imprints. What will those people who may come to see, know of us? From the many buildings they see, what would they know about  our dreams, our desires, and our innermost feelings?
As if on cue, the sun bursts out, in a hue of orange, before settling down finally for the day, bidding its byes. The undulating shades of yellow, green and brown plantations, never to end.. fade slowly until they disappear for the night. Bordering them, the ruins of Hampi lie silent, their calmness restored, silent spectators to years of merciless plunder and loot, mindless violence and destruction of beauty. And the beautiful plains, their glory regained, intrigue us again and again with their dignified silence, still hiding so many stories.
 All is quiet, the end of a beautiful holiday, a short and a sweet trip to Hampi, precious time spent with friends and family, people with whom I share a history of many years, so dear to my heart, even though an insignificant eon of time in a vast universe, with an attempt to rediscover some of our very ancient past  . Ending with an eventful train journey back to Bangalore and to life as we know it today!

Aina Rao -the amblingindian
19 May 2013, Hampi,, Karnataka, India.
*Hampi- a world heritage site, source ; Wikipedia.
Hampi  is a village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire.
The first historical settlements in Hampi date back to 1 CE.
Hampi formed one of the core areas of the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1336 to 1565, when it was finally laid siege to by theDeccan Muslim confederacy.[1] Hampi was chosen because of its strategic location, bounded by the torrential Tungabhadra river on one side and surrounded by defensible hills on the other three sides.
The site is significant historically and architecturally. The topography abounds with large stones which have been used to make statues of Hindu deities. The Archaeological Survey of India continues to conduct excavations in the area, to discover additional artifacts and temples.
Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi.[1] The name is derived from Pampa, which is the old name of theTungabhadra River on whose banks the city is built. The name "Hampi" is an anglicized version of the Kannada Hampe (derived from Pampa). Over the years, it has also been referred to as Vijayanagara and Virupakshapura (from Virupaksha, the patron deity of the Vijayanagara rulers).

Hampi monuments 

Zanana palace - Hampi

  The train journey home

It appeared to be an uneventful train journey back from Hampi. But what should have been uneventful became quite interesting. To start with, all the seats were scattered all over the coaches. So, the kids and the adults being in disparate places, one had to go through some rather intriguing situations with fellow passengers ,the Ticket Collector and other characters to arrive at a combination or a permutation that suited us all, finally settling into two coaches, far apart, but at least joined by a vestibule.
And with some clever ideas of retractable coach partitions being mooted by us IITians, mostly to suit our own privacy requirements, none of which would ever have any hope of getting any credence with the railway authorities, we finally settled into our ritual of fun and banter, over a drink or two. And the night flew, each regaling the others with stories from the past, of days when we spent many a nights travelling through trains , over the length and the breadth of the country, waiting in waiting rooms , to catch connections, and reaching home, grimy and tired, for the trains would do that. Shake you up, proper.
 But for me, the trains always bring back the excitement and the sadness of coming back, growing by the minute, as I waited for the stations of Wardha and Sonegaon to pass, heralding the arrival of the place I called home, Nagpur. Invariably waiting for the sight of the airport that the train crossed, which carried so many precious, indelible memories of going there with my father,  to drop him off for his journeys, one of which he never returned from. 
Nothing has changed much over the years, though my train journeys have now become less frequent, with the occasional one being performed more through curiosity than necessity and a sense of wanting to hold on and experience the past, with my daughters now. And somethings, sadly don’t change at all. The same narrow berths, the same beddings ,the noisy ACs and the fans , grimy windows, little distractions to what seems an unbelievably beautiful landscape of India, bushes , lush paddy fields, meandering rivers, placid lakes and others, not much visible  though the tinted windows.
And some more engineering thoughts came to mind. Some of which have been realized, like the mobile phone pouches which they have so thoughtfully placed in the coaches now. Designed as pouches but sometimes ending up as holed chutes leading the mobiles to land elsewhere. And the complete lack of a safety grill for the little ones that I had to now make up with the help of luggages and strolleys, placed as barricades to stop the young ones from falling down. Even so, all the engineering in the world could not work when it came to the side berths where there was no hope of fitting even the smallest of briefcases, and so, it had to be a long bed sheet tied across the berth, into a longish pouch, anchored with the help of only curtains. A Scarlett O’Hara++ approach, making the best of curtains that were so amply available, with the hope that it would catch the little one, if she ever rolled over from the narrowest of sleeping berths.
And so it turned out be an eventful night with friends and fun, old times, stations and passengers arriving at all odd hours, scuttling even the faintest hope of catching any sleep. And one finally gave up, in-between guarding the kids, accommodating the fellow passengers and reliving lost memories, the journey itself becoming the destination.
Aina Rao - the amblingindian
20th May 2013. Bangalore , India .

++ Scarlett o'Hara - the protagonist of Gone with the wind, who uses her curtains , in times of dire distress , to design a beautiful gown.

Hampi temples 

Friday, 3 May 2013

Being the new Baba - Barbie

Image result for ped wale baba
pic courtesy :


Disclaimer : All names and characters used are purely fictional. any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.

I  had always thought that  a baba ( Godman) was a kind of a recluse, white, orange or yellow robed figure, a mendicant of sorts, who traveled places with just a stick and a potli(a bundle of belongings) in tow, whom people ran to for solace in times of distress and generally when they had nothing better to do. Babas being the conduit to heaven, the next best things to God , they were (and continue to be ) hugely popular.

I may have been wrong. The babas , Godmen, Swamis  and others seem to now be  the ultimate celebrity  incarnations one could ever hope to be.

When i saw Professor Baba Shiv speaking from Stanford business school today, dispensing one minute business insights , and that too on you-tube, I was speechless. Babas at B- schools ? Babas are going online, social and viral too. No longer the dhoti clad , living under a tree , or sometimes on it ( Ped- wale-baba meaning the- tree- baba), kutte- wale -baba  meaning the Dog-loving- baba types. those might be soon going into extinction. We now see  a new generation of babas. called the facebook babas, the media- savvy-babas, who can dispense nuggets of wisdom in the same breath as buying up entire islands in Scotland , striking contorted yoga poses, jetsetting, rolling in gold and precious stones, and also creating vibhuti ( sacred ash) from thin air.

These babas are certainly a force to be reckoned with, not to be taken lightly. I dare not belittle them for fear of being turned into ash. But i can aspire to be them. Nothing wrong with that, right? I can't aspire to be the swami variety, for i have no desire or even the Casanova profile needed to fit that image , a la  Swami Kamasutrananda . And therefore, since being a type of a swami is somewhat tough , I will stick to the Babas or Barbys rather, and to make it look even better, shall rebrand and relaunch someday as the " Barbie Ramadevi *" amalgamating ,in an amblingindian way,  two of the undoubtably most popular creatures on the planet. Here comes the amblingindian, propagating  her nuggets on life, in a new avatar.

Watch out for the new Barbie Ramadevi*!!

Disclaimer : All names and characters used are purely fictional. any resemblance to real persons is purely co-incidental.

(* can be construed to be a close cousin of Baba Ramdev, a well known & respected figure . However she is not related to him in any way, in reality.)