Drenched in refreshing moisture, earth bursts into colorful melody-
Simi K. Rao
Monsoon in India is a special time. The overcast black skies, the drumroll of thunder, invoke the thrill of anticipation in the thirsty heart. This is then fulfilled by the downpour. And what a downpour it is!
Extending from June- September, the monsoon brings welcome relief from the stifling heat of the summer. The happiness is visible not just on the faces of the citizens but also on the parched earth– the fragrance of the soil, the blossoming of the vegetation, the songs of the cuckoo, the dance of the peacock.
The Grand Canyon. Who hasn’t heard of it? Everyone has. But you need to go there for yourself to realize it’s awesomeness! Grand doesn’t come close to describing it. I’ve been there a few times–still I catch my breath each time I lay eyes on it. Over two billion years of earth layers were cut by the mighty Colorado river and it’s tributaries.
My last trip there a few years ago was my most memorable one. It was part of a school trip– with my daughter and some of her classmates. We stayed in the Grand Canyon village at the South rim for two days and even hiked down the South Kaibab trail— only part of the way (it’s extremely steep and strenous). We also saw a mule train, the once almost extinct California Condor which the largest flying bird in North America with a wingspan reaching 10 ft—brought back by a dedicated captive breeding program.
As I have mentioned before I am inspired by my travels and the places I visit. I try to bring them into my writings whenever I can. You will find some of my experiences of the Grand Canyon in my books– Inconvenient Relations and its sequel- Now and Forever. You can check them outhere.
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 :–
The Banyan tree is the national tree of India and Bangladesh. The word Banyan comes from the Gujarati word Bania or trader. The word was picked up by the Portugese to refer to the Hindu traders who used to sit under the shade of these trees to conduct their business and passed it on to the English who began to refer to the ‘Banyan’ trees. 🙂
There used to be a time when one had to fly thousands of miles across the seas to get a taste of pure refreshing coconut water. Just the thought was enough kindle a picture of tall swaying coconut palms along virgin tropical beaches.
But no more! They are available right here in my grocery store — and flavored ones too! Cafe Latte anyone?
Marketed as ‘Mother Nature’s Sports Drink’ and endorsed by leading athletes and celebrities, this product has taken off!
It has fewer calories, less sodium and more potassium than the leading sports drink. All you need to do is like the taste which isn’t hard to do. It is slightly sweet and nutty in flavor.
But no matter what, nothing beats the taste of fresh water drunk directly out of the young green coconuts followed by eating the soft white meat inside. Ahhh.. PARADISE!