Praying for Patience, Positive outlook…..Peace

The world today needs Peace much more than any new drug, weapon, scientific discovery, space travel, climbing mountains or discovering other habitable planets in far of galaxies.

People, world over are at war….with each other, themselves, circumstances …..everything. There is so much of pain everywhere and nobody to hold hands and say ‘I understand….’ People are killing, torturing, kidnapping, bombing ….. as if the barbarism has returned….Innocents, law-abiding, god fearing simple people are perishing at the hands of such violence… Why?

Beside the pain of denied opportunities, broken faith, misled beliefs….there is a complete dearth of patience in people today. Nobody takes out the time to listen to the opinion of others, no one wants to hear advice of others, nobody wants to talk to iron out the differences…. The world has become obsessed with ‘I , me ,myself ‘.

If there is no communication then obviously, there is only a single outlook of the problem which leads to more negativity when actually there is a need of more and more positive outlook.

Belittling of one religion by other religion, discrimination of one race by other, dismissing someone’s way of thinking and way of living by others who consider themselves better….all this is disrupting the peace.

The pain of people, their patience all are related and only way to have peace is a positive outlook……To live and let live is what the world needs today.

Why should one religion try to force its ways on others? Why should one religion consider itself superior to others? Why should Christians be against Muslims or Hindus, Parsis or Jews and vice versa? Why can not all be able to follow and practice a religion of their own choosing?

I feel troubled, hopeless, scared, irritated….all types of emotions well up inside me when I pick up a newspaper and read about killings, abductions, bombing, maiming in the name of religion. I wish I had a magic wand to wipe away the pain and all negativity of the world and establish brotherhood and world Peace.

PI pray for peace…..Let us all pray for peace and understand each other to create a better world.

This is also for A to Z Challenge.

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On a moonlit night…

As I contemplated on what to write with letter ‘O’ for this month’s A to Z Challenge, I seriously was stuck and then my daughter came up with few prompts like Originality, Over 40, Opportunity…

I have been busy the entire day with some social commitments but I did not want to miss this ‘Opportunity ‘ of pushing myself and posting everyday with a new word every day with authentic ‘Original’ writing. Turning 40 in another couple of days, I want to wait for my big day and see what surprises my husband and daughter have planned for me before sharing it on my blog post.

And now the day has flown away in flurry of activities and I could not find enough time to sit down and type any thought, story or memory for letter ‘O’. As I sat down to write something, with the moon showering its calming silver light on the little green patch outside our house, it struck me that what better than sharing some pictures, which I find beautiful, from my travels on a moonlit night…

We were visiting Jaipur, Rajasthan in winters and waited for the light and sound show at the Amer Fort, Jaipur. The moon shone beautifully bright on the ramparts of the fort atop a hill. The moonlight was so bright that small crevices of fort walls were visible too. I had to take this picture as a memory….

Jaipur Fort Ramparts

Another time when we travelled to Pondicherry, also known as ‘French Riviera of the East’, during Christmas, we spent the evening on the beach till the local authorities allowed. The moon came up to shimmer on the deep deep waters of the Bay of Bengal. I am scared of vastness of the sea but the moonlight danced on the dark water making it rich and smooth like silk….I wanted to scoop out this silver !!

Over the Bay Of Bengal

two years ago we travelled to Andaman Islands. We stayed in the igloo shaped tents on the Havelock Beach. Out on a stroll on the moonlit beach, we met Mr Crab, huge in size and very aristocratic. The moment it sensed our presence it assumed an attack pose like a ninja warrior and froze in the light of our camera…..

Mr Crab on the beach at Andamans

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N for Namaste!!

'Namaste'(shutterstock images)

‘Namaste'(shutterstock images)

Namaste world!

Namaste is the Indian way of respecting and greeting another person. This Sanskrit word is formed from two words basically ‘Namah’ meaning ‘I bow’ and ‘te’ means ‘you’. ‘Namah’ +’Te’ = Namaste meaning I bow to you.

While doing Namaste, both the palms are joined together near the chest and head is bowed slightly. With this gesture, it is believed that the divine force is same in all humans hence by doing namaste we honor the God in the person.

All yoga exercises begin with a ‘namaskar’ or ‘namaste’. All deity worship prayer ceremonies in temples begin with the ‘namaste’. Another theory, I read somewhere, is by joining palms together to greet instead of shaking hands, one preserves the positive energy of God within and avoids any dark or bad energy of other person from transferring into self.

When I was visiting USA for vacation, some tour operators in a bid to appear friendly and encourage us to hire their services, gestured a namaste which though seemed out-of-place but brought a smile on our face. I guess that is what they were aiming at! But it surely felt good to know that the world outside is aware of some Indian customs and traditions.

These days in fact, lesser and lesser young Indians are using traditional ways of greeting each other. They are more attracted with the western world’s ‘hello’ and ‘hi’ or the system of shaking hands. Though that as such is not a bad way to greet, but it is ironical that when more and more of western world is understanding the importance of yoga and some of the ancient hindu rituals, it is Indians who are moving away from age-old practices.

I for one, practice both ways of greeting, depending on who I am dealing with but its the ‘Namaste’ which makes me feel closer to my roots and I am proud of this.

So, there again NAMASTE World!!

This post is for A to Z challenge.

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Muir Woods, San Francisco

Managing travel, accommodation, food and sight-seeing in a different country where one is new to most do’s and don’ts, tires no end.  After 15 days in USA, we obviously were! And we needed a break from all planning, thinking and managing. So when we landed at my cousin’s home at San José, we precisely did that…….left all the decisions, planning, what to see, what to eat etc on his young shoulders.

And there he was taking us to the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s wharf, the crooked street, Gherardeli Chocolate factory, Muir woods etc…..

Muir Woods National Monument, a part of  Golden Gate National Recreation Area is 12 miles north of San Francisco and has old growth Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests, one of a few such remaining in the San Francisco Bay Area. The park is named after the naturalist John Muir who campaigned for establishing national parks.

pathway

Pathway through the park

As we entered the park, there was a big slice of tree trunk mounted as a plaque showing the various years of growth of the forests. The park was quiet, cool and damp….. the silence at occasions broken by the chirping of birds.

Since the park is a popular tourist attraction, there are walkways made throughout the forest to prevent the young sprouts of the trees from being crushed and destroyed under the feet of many visitors to the park.

 The Sequoia, for which the park is known for, are giant trees with their heights reaching 380 feet. The bark is thick and very porous and the foliage creates a huge canopy which obstructs the sun rays from filtering down on the pathways. Most of the trees are 500 to 800 years old and the oldest one being 1200 years old.

tall trees with thick canopy DSC_0050 DSC_0053 DSC_0073

Some trails were closed due to fallen trees when we visited the monument and we could not go to the Redwood Creek. The park has many hiking trails too though picnicking and camping are not allowed.

The Aramark  Cafe was a welcome place because after walking through the park we were famished. Huge bears carved out of tree trunks were placed outside the café and our daughter made us click her photographs as she posed with each one of them. Some huge mouth-watering sandwiches and  salads, and many pictures later we shopped for souvenirs in the gift shop of the cafe’ and headed for other must-dos of our list.

This post is also for A to Z challenge.

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Las Vegas minus the sins

I have been a goooood girl for as long as I can remember except for maybe answering back or screaming at my mom as a teenage. No drugs, no casual affairs, no pre-marital sex, hell….not even short short revealing clothes!! So when we planned to travel to Las Vegas, my friends teased and tried encouraging me to for once cross the self-imposed moral line.

“It is the sin city girl! Go gamble….what if you win a jackpot! Or go for those male striptease bars….ooh!!”

“Nobody knows you there, wear some reallllly shoooort dress…..soak the sun, sweety! Get that niiice chocolate tan!!”

Welcome to vegasSin City“, “The Gambling Capital of World“, “Capital of Second Chances“, “The Entertainment Capital of World” are some of the names by which people world over identify Las Vegas. With over 25 largest hotels having 62,000 rooms in all on the famous Vegas Strip alone, the epithets are obviously apt.

People flock to Vegas primarily for gambling, striptease bars, paid sex and usually remark “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas“.

We reached Vegas on a hot sunny afternoon along with other tourists of the package tour. Our tour guide Angela made all arrangements for the room and keys. We were to be back on the tour bus, two days later in the morning for return journey to San Francisco.

We spent our time mostly out of casinos, one, because kids are not allowed in casinos and we had our 11-year-old tagging along, two, because we really did not want to gamble and set a bad example for our daughter and three, we did not want to get addicted and lose the precious dollars, after all they  say…’ The house always wins!’

We did not go to slot machines, poker tables etc (I don’t even know all the varieties of gambling) but honestly we did not miss doing what most people do in Vegas. In fact we had other things  and only two days to do as family.

Each of the big hotels besides having casinos have some or the other entertainment shows scheduled throughout the day, there are huge shopping areas, variety of food joints and restaurants. The Blue Man Group, Variety show were family friendly shows where we could take our girl.

The free shows of the Bellagio fountains gyrating on 30 different songs are very popular tourist attraction. I definitely loved the fountains and spent much time watching those.

Hotel MirageThen there was this fire volcano show at Hotel Mirage, where the fire and music and water were choreographed to enthrall visitors. At short intervals the fire would blow up like a volcano from under the water. Though by the end of show, our faces were red due to intense heat and my nose felt like a tank full of the gasoline.

The Venetian‘s gondola ride was another entertaining experience.

Gondola ride at Venetian

Golden Gate CasinoAt the old city, near the original Golden Gate Casino, there were zip-lines for the thrill rides.

There was so much to see that of the 25 biggest hotels on the Vegas Strip, we could visit hardly three or four. There were street artists making paintings with spray cans, charcoal, playing musical instruments, people dressed up as Elvis Presley, levitating street-artist……

Levitating man on street bagpiper Elvis Presley lookalike

We could not cover all  of must-eat food joints because there was a huge variety and the three of us wanted to eat three different things at three different places!!

Vegas 16 Oct (36)

The City of Lights, Silver City……Las Vegas minus its sins was as entertaining as it must be for those who want a taste of this sin city’s lusts and joys. And I certainly did bring back memories which I can share with everybody.

For me…. “What happens in Vegas, can come out of Vegas….it need not stay in Vegas

This post is also for A to Z Challenge.

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Krishna: The Master Illusionist

Many may have heard about Hindu God Lord Krishna and his message to civilization in form of ‘Gita Updesh‘. ISCON (International Society for Krishna Conciousness) formed in 1966 in New York and works on principles of Gita of selfless actions  has many followers in Eastern Europe besides India.

Krishna, Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, is known as ‘Leela Purushottam’ besides many other names as ‘makhan chor’ or the butter thief, ‘chitchor’ or the one who steals hearts, ‘chhaliya’ or the one who dupes.

Leela‘ means game or illusion. ‘Purush‘ is man and ‘uttama‘ is the supreme. According to mythological stories, Krishna, all his life, created many illusions to make humans understand the rights and wrongs of the society. He bent the accepted rules and norms of society challenging their usefulness. Since his birth, he created illusions to bring order in the world and punish those who troubled the weak and innocent. Hence the name ‘Leela Purushottama‘.

Krishna’s maternal uncle King Kansa of Mathura imprisoned his pregnant sister and brother-in-law because of a prophecy which warned Kansa that he would be killed by the son of his sister. Kansa killed all the new born babies of his sister. However, when Krishna was born, the jail guards miraculously dozed off and Krishna’s father escaped the jail, crossed a flooded river and delivered the new-born safely to a friend’s home. It was Krishna’s leela or illusion which prevented Kansa to find out about the escape

As a kid, Krishna played in the mud and put it in his mouth. His mother, lovingly scolded him and asked what he had in his mouth. His mother realised, as soon as Krishna opened his mouth, that her son was no ordinary human being but an incarnation of God Vishnu because there in his mouth, she could see the universe, the sun, moon, stars and earth.

Krishna was brought up among cow-herdsmen. He played melodious flute when he took the cows to graze. The cows and humans were enchanted with him and his flute. The milkmaids, loved this dark and handsome young man who played the flute so beautifully. Everyone worshipped and wished Krishna to be for each one of them. To make all his devotees happy, he would create an illusion where each milkmaid felt his presence and danced in trance.

During one of the 18 days war of Mahabharata when he gave the sermon of ‘Gita’ to the prince Arjuna, he created the illusion of dusk which called for the warring sides to end the particular day’s fighting. By creating such an illusion he prevented the ill-intentioned and corrupt and cheating  Kaurava  princes from being unfair to the Pandav princes, thus changing the fate of the doomed war in favor of Pandav princes who followed every rule of war.

Why did Krishna create illusions? Did he want the unfair ones have a taste of their own designs?

He made sure that the rules which made some people of the society powerful, were challenged to protect the weaker people of society and for that he created such occasions where the unfair were brought to book.

KThis post is also for A to Z Challenge.

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J for Jungle Stories

What is it with me and my adventurous trips to jungles or the National Reserve Forests…..I never get to see the lions and tigers….just their paw prints and local stories from safari guides!! I always get to see the peacocks, the deer and elephants!

As a kid my parents had travelled to Nainital and dragged us sleepy-heads to the Jim Corbett Tiger reserve but I remember seeing only the stuffed tigers, the man-eaters which were once upon a time killed by Jim Corbett himself! The whole day we drove from one water hole to other but no real tiger, not one, not even the glimpse of its tail!

After marriage, my husband’s enthusiasm for jungle adventure took us first to Madumalai National Park near Ooty. We had stopped for the previous evening at Goa and had some good quality cashew nuts, local produce of Goa, with us to munch. When we reached the forest reserve, we left our cashew packets in the car. We also( very intelligently !!) left one of the car windows rolled down in the forest! We had booked a tree house for the night stay in the jungle.

tree house

Our tree house

In the evening, to our shock (and we couldn’t stop laughing at our own stupidity!), the car was full of monkeys eating and strewing the cashews in the jungle….our precious, precious Cashew nuts!! Having absorbed this funny/ridiculous/shocking incident, we looked forward to the safari next morning.

The safari guide was insisting to reach the heart of forest at the break of dawn so we could catch a glimpse of tiger or leopard at the water holes.

So we woke up early (when what I really wanted to do was sleep) and this time I dragged my little one to the safari in her night pajamas. I told her we would see a tiger and the poor girl was very excited. We boarded the jeep and reached the denser jungle….and of course first we saw many peacocks then the deer and deer and more deer. The guide told us we were near the waterhole and we should make no noise! As the jeep rumbled slowly on the path, the driver suddenly stopped and began to drive the jeep in reverse gear because there in our path stood a very annoyed elephant who thrashed the plants, trumpeted, stomped his big feet and took few angry steps towards our jeep! It seems we had disturbed not only our sleep but also His Highness’s morning routine by driving up in his territory. The panicky driver and guide gave us the news that the same elephant had upturned a jeep the previous day in his anger.

The angry elephant

The angry elephant

As the jeep was being driven in reverse gear we lost much time in reaching a safe distance away from the elephant and then took a detour to reach the waterhole. But alas, as is my luck with jungle adventures…..we saw the paw prints of a big cat but no big cat anywhere. I missed the leopard or tiger again! It had had its share of water and moved on!!

Lots of Deer

Lots of Deer

We did spot some Indian giant squirrels though…if it counts as compensation of not seeing a wildcat!

Giant squirrel

Few years later we planned for Kaziranga Reserve for Rhinos in Assam. This was the only forest where I saw what it is famous for…the Rhinos!! The deeper denser jungle near the mighty Brahmaputra river where the more ferocious cats roamed was out-of-bounds for the casual visitors like us. Here too however, I saw lots of deer, elephants with their kids and rhinos with their kids too.

Mommy and baby Rhino

Mommy and baby Rhino

vultures

Vultures

Babu and Rani...the baby elephants

Babu and Rani…the baby elephants

Deer

Deer and Deer and Deer

Another jungle we visited two years back was the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan. Here there are no wild cats…so I can not complain really! We did see some migratory birds besides turtles, monitor lizards, blue bull.

migratory birdsmigratory birds

blue bull

Now we plan to visit the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. The tiger population has increased there in last few years and hopefully this jungle would be the one to end the jinx by letting me see the tigers in their majestic beauty.

This post is also for A to Z challenge.

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