Category Archives: Pictures Speak

Musafir: San Francisco. Go Ahead Gawk, it’s Free

San Francisco: China town, Street Performer, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf

Yes! You don’t need a ton of moolah to see this eclectic art, all you need is a pair of good walking shoes and curiosity in your heart.

Drabble: Betrayal

 

Beach- lonely

Betrayal

We sat in the park. Tim was sleeping in the stroller all bundled up nice and cozy. We were like a family.

Aly. I wanted to tell you something.

I held my breath and waited.

I’ve been accepted at Pepperdine. Law. I’m excited.

I’m excited for you Zach.

I love you Aly. You’re so wonderful. He kissed me on the cheek.

I knew it was over. My pain expanded in my stomach. And spread to my chest to my arms, my head. And oozed from my eyes. I dug into my bag. My fingers automatically scrambling, searching for my crux, my pills. I found one.

It didn’t do anything for me. Absolutely nothing. I wanted to die.

~~~

PS: I’m attempting here a series of drabble; scattered ideas; snippets from life/lives. If they evoke some spark in you please give a holler 🙂

 

 

Gargoyles

History is my hobby. And art and architecture is it’s most telling representation. I find modern buildings staid, lacking in variety– they are utilitarian, of course, but singularly boring. Some do make it out of the mould, but those are few and far between. Hence, whenever I travel I seek out old buildings. They are so much more attractive and compelling and come in so many styles– each narrating the story of the place and the era when they were built. And they seem so solid and permanent. So, when I heard about the Notre Dame fire, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it until I saw the live images on the news. That building besides being n invaluable example of gothic art, is a prominent part of history. It has witnessed the French Revolution and survived it and who is not aquainted with the famous Hugo classic ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’ or it’s English translation ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’.

At first, there was fear the entire structure would be destroyed. Fortunately, that didn’t occur but I understand most of the roof and the spire are gone. Now, I can say how lucky I was to have visited the place a few years ago and trudged up the narrow spiral staircase to get up close to the cathedral’s famous gargoyles which happened to be the favorite part of my visit. For those who aren’t aware, gargoyles are grotesque creatures that act as spouts to direct water away from the building. Apparently they are also supposed to ward off the evil eye. But were they able to protect themselves — I hope so…  Below I share some precious snaps from my visit :–

Roam to your Heart’s Content- Street Joy (Spain)


 

 

 

 

 

 

Along ancient streets

and by-lanes

alien sounds ebb and flow

With familiar inflections

passions don’t simmer

they explode

Stirring smiles

on drab countenances

The air vibrates with soul

 

Inspired by the ancient streets of Cordoba, Toledo, Seville, Granada, in Spain. Walk on!  More poems in my soon to be released book ‘Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree’.

Surya Namaskar (Salutations to the Sun)

According to me one of the most spectacular scenes of nature is the play of the sun across the horizon. I’ve been lucky to watch the sunset often–over the Rockies and the ocean (whenever I visit the California coast) but not as often as the sunrise. The reason is quite obvious. I’m not an early riser, unfortunately.

Today, however I had to get up quite early to drive to the bus stop to pick up my husband (better than the 40 min haul to and from the airport). On the way back, I witnessed the most ordinary yet extraordinary phenomenon–the advent of dawn. First, the burgundy tint to the clouds in the east, followed by the gradual lightening of the skies and then the most spectacular of all– orange flames consuming the horizon. I was mesmerized. Who wouldn’t be? If you think about it there’s no other message more powerful than of a new day. It’s the message of hope, of change, of renewal, of revival. No wonder native people around the world worship the Sun and have done so for millenia including those from my country.  

Surya namaskar (Salutations to the Sun)

In the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures) Surya also known as Aditya is the Sun God. He first appears in literature in the Rig Veda (the oldest among the Hindu texts composed between 1500 and 1000 BC). He travels across the sky in a massive chariot pulled by seven horses representing the seven colors of the rainbow. He is also the creator of the material universe or prakriti. Those familiar with the practice of Yoga are familiar with Surya Namaskar or Sun salutation; a sequence of twelve poses, performed in the early morning on an empty stomach facing the east. They provide an excellent whole body stretching routine and cardiovascular workout. The purpose of this most famous yoga sequence which is in practice for thousands of years is to express gratitude to the Sun, the giver of life and the source of energy. According to Hindu tradition, different parts of the body are governed by divine impulses. One of these, the solar plexus (also called the second brain) is located in the center of the body and is connected to the Sun. The regular practice of Surya Namaskar enhances it thereby increasing our creativity and intuition. The notion is very tempting. Enough (I hope) to nudge me awake every morning 🙂

Musafir : Darwaze

Gateway to the Taj Mahal

A corridor in Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri

Balcony, Humayun’s Tomb,Delhi

Smiles

 

Darwaze, khidkiyaan, jharokhe, verandey

Kitni khoobsurat 

Hain ye imaartein

Inhe dekho

Suno

Samjho

Socho

Jano

Kuch keh rahi hain ye

Tumse

Rough translation: (Doors, windows, details, so beautiful, are these buildings, look at them, listen, understand, think, learn, they are speaking to you)

What can I say, but I’m fascinated and inspired by buildings, and people around buildings. That’s why I’m a musafir. Kindly excuse me for my very poor Urdu and Hindi poetry skills.

Glossary:

Darwaza: Urdu for door; Khidki: Hindi for window; Jharokha: An overhanging enclosed balcony used in Rajasthani architecture; Khoobsurat: Urdu for beautiful; Imaarat: Urdu for building; Dekho: Hindi for look; Suno: Hindi for listen; Socho: Hindi for think; Jano: Hindi for learn

 

Women Who Inspire: Anandibai Joshi

Anandibai Joshi

Dr. Anandibai Joshi (1865-1887)

Indian women pioneered many things not just in India but also in the west becoming a source of inspiration for women and women’s movement across the world. Early in my residency and sometimes even now, I’m made to perceive that I’m not good enough to be a doctor just because I’m a woman. Once an elderly lady told me to my face that she’d prefer a male doctor to do her gynecological exam. I was stunned to comprehend the degree of prejudice women have to face particularly those in the fields of science. So when I read about Anandibai Joshi and women like her, I’m dumbfounded by their bravery and the degree of resistance they had to overcome.

Anandibai Joshi was among the first Indian women qualified to practice western medicine.

Dr. Joshi belonged to an orthodox Brahmin family of rich landlords in Kalyan. At the tender age of nine she was pressured to marry a widower, a man twenty years her senior Gopalrao Joshi. The beginning of a typical Indian story? No. Anandibai was just thirteen when she had her first child.Unfortunately the child died when he was just ten days old. She was heartbroken and angered to realize that her son would have survived if he had received proper medical care. This sparked in her the desire to study medicine and her liberal husband stood fully behind her.

Why would an Indian woman go so far away for medical school?

Because it was the best way to serve her country was the gist of Anandibai’s answer. The reason Anandibai had to look to the west is because in India, Hindu women, particularly those belonging to higher castes were not welcome in the profession.They were pushed to become midwives instead. If they insisted they could enroll in Chennai, to be taught by reluctant male instructors, and receive an incomplete training. It was easier if they converted to Christianity as they could wear a dress and that wouldn’t cause a scandal. Since Anandibai and her husband had no desire to convert, she decided to turn to the America. She applied with the assistance of Presbyterian missionaries. She enrolled and subsequently received her degree in 1886, from the Women’s Medical College in Pennsylvania. Her achievement was lauded, to the extent the dean of her school wrote about it to Queen Victoria, Empress of India. Anandibai was invited to become the physician-in-charge of the women’s department at the Albert Edward Hospital in the princely state of Kolhapur, where she also had the opportunity to instruct women medical students. Unfortunately, before she could embark triumphantly in her career, it was destroyed by the diagnosis of tuberculosis and she breathed her last in the arms of her mother, a month before her 22nd birthday.

Dr. Anandibai Joshi lived a very short life but she achieved a lot. She broke barriers not just for women but also for the Hindu community. Even now we can look to her life and gain strength and inspiration.This is a fight which will go on until we get what we want–what we deserve–equality.

 

Musafir #Arches National Park

 

Delicate Arch

God is a sculptor and Arches National Park is his workshop.

Head to Moab,Utah to see one of the most unusual landscapes in the world; a unique collection of more than 2000 natural sandstone arches. Prepare to be stunned!

Landscape arch

Watch your step! (Way to Delicate arch)

Window rock

The Sun adds its own show

Petroglyphs carved by native tribes

The Story of Holika

Prahlad, Holika, 13 the century Keshava temple

On the very auspicious occasion of Holi- the ‘festival of colors’ where we welcome Spring and smear each other with color while saying “Bura na mano, holi hai” (Don’t mind, its holi) I’d like to share the story behind the festival.

There are some wonderful stories in the Puranas and one of them is about Holika. 

Hiranyakashipu

Hiranyakashipu,was the king of the daityas, a clan of the asuras (danavas or divine beings with an evil quality who are always at war with the suras or benevolent devas). His brother Hiranyaksha, had been killed by Lord Vishnu, in his Varaha (boar) avatar.  Thus angered, he wanted to with gain immortality. He performed years of penance and obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that he couldn’t be killed by human or animal; indoors or outdoors; during day or night; and no weapon could bring him harm. Hence he became arrogant and believed himself to be the mightiest, more than all the devas and even Vishnu, the Supreme Being himself. He commanded everyone to pray to him and regard him as their supreme lord. But his son Prahlad, did not. Right from when he was born, Prahlad remained a devout follower of Vishnu and wouldn’t be convinced otherwise. This irked Hiranyakashipu so much that he decided to kill his own son. But all his attempts were thwarted by the mystical powers of Vishnu. One of these is the story behind Holi.

Holika was Hiranyakashipu’s sister, who had been given the boon that fire couldn’t harm her. Thus, she sat in a burning pyre with Prahlad on her lap but Vishnu intervened. A strong breeze removed her protective cloth and draped Prahlad instead; protecting him while Holika was charred. A few other theories exist– one states that Holika was actually good and sacrificed herself to save Prahlad while another says that the boon was granted on condition Holika wouldn’t use it to harm anyone. Regardless, the story symbolizes the victory of good over evil as does the festival. On the first day, Holika dahan (Choti (small) Holi) is performed and people gather and burn bonfires at crossroads. The ash from the pyre is then smeared on the forehead.

Holika Dahan

The following day is the more well known colorful or Rangwali Holi, when everyone forgetting all differences smear each other with colored powder. ENJOY! HAPPY HOLI!