Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016, Welcome 2017

It is always depressing wishing someone goodbye especially if they have been a part of your days 365 days a year!   


2016 came into our life last January and now it's time to say goodbye.   It's been a year filled with experiences - good and bad, happy and not so happy ones creating short and long-lasting impressions.  Whatever it was, it has left an imprint on us and our surroundings and now wants to move on.  

Let's bid 2016 a grand farewell and Welcome 2017 with a heart full of expectations and dreams!

Dreams are the first step towards fulfillment in this world.      What we have in this world is only this moment!  Let us vow to take each day as it comes as it unfolds.   Each and every day is precious and worth what it fills us with.  We just need to see the positive side and everything will just fall into place.  Feel happy for the small small things in life -  A kid smiling, the flowers blooming, the morning sunlight filtering through the leaves can all create mesmerising effects upon our lives.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Lal Quila or Red Fort


Lal Quila or the Red Fort was the official residence of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built about 200 years ago in 1628.

For me, the whole experience of visiting Red Fort was like peeling off an onion.   The more you move into the inner realms of the fort, the more beautiful and whiter the buildings and structures would get.   Finally, it came to the one building that I admired the most in the whole complex and Amir Khusraw had most aptly described it as the paradise on earth.   His inscription is written on the walls of this white marble structure- If there be a paradise on the  earth, it is this, it is this, it is this - Diwan-e-khas!  I am still wondering what resplendent, what exciting and what colourful life it would have been then.


The boundary of the Fort and some of its buildings are built with red sandstone and the name Lal Quila or Red Fort comes from there.   It is a well built, massive structure that encircles and secures the entire surrounding of the complex – the official palaces, mahals, gardens and the many other small and little buildings it ensconces.    There were trenches and channels of water all around to give the added security to the fort.  The gates are massive and built to protect the citizens inside the walled city.   The walls are built with holes in it for firing arms and ammunitions.  The four posts at the four corners were used for keeping a vigil.


The front façade is used right now during the Independence Day celebrations by the Prime Minister to address the nation.   However, the fort is just much much more than the front façade!   There is another huge and massive gate as soon as you enter from the front with a metal door called Lahori Gate.  This leads to a long covered path with arches and arched bays on both sides – more like a market place where you have shops on both the sides of the road.   It is called the chatta chowk which means covered bazaar.   Even today there are shops where people are selling all kinds of wares – jewellery, clothes, handicraft items.  It was said that this used to be the case even during Shah Jahan’s time.   He started this concept after he saw something like this in Peshawar.     During his times, the market would be engaged in luxury trade  of the imperial household and used to sell silks, brocades, gold, velvet and other expensive stuff.

   


After the Chatta Bazaar, there is yet another gate which takes you to a red building - the Diwan-e-Aam which means the ‘Place of Public Audience’.    There is a long rectangular lawn with a water body in the middle that runs across to the Diwan-Aam and paths cutout on both the sides.  This is a place was used by Shah Jahan to meet the common public and hear their grievances.  The structure was made in red sandstone and in the centre  is a raised platform with the Emperor’s throne with a canopy all made in Marble with exquisite handiwork of floral designs inlaid with semi precious stones.





After the Diwan-e-aam lies the little gems of beauty -  domains where Shah Jahan and other successive emperors used to actually live and spend time. You would be greeted with an expanse of garden and green lawns and water canals with white marble structures spread across the expanse.   The water bodies at that time was an important part as they provided the needed water and air cooling for the entire place.

Three white marbled palaces are placed in close proximity to each other at the other end of the garden – The  Rang Mahal (also called Shish Mahal), Khas Mahal and Shah Mahal (or Diwan-e-Khas).

These were like 3 little pieces of jewels in that whole area.   Built completely in marble, they are a sight to behold!



Rang Mahal was the place where Shah Jahan used to entertain and be entertained.   It was painted in different colours from the inside and therefore derives its name from there.  It also had mirrors fitted on the top and therefore it was called the sheesh mahal though right now there is neither colour nor the mirrors.  This one actually looks faded and is the drabbest one out of the three.







The next one is the Khas Mahal where Shah Jahan had his bed chambers and the dressing room.





Diwan-e-Khas next to it was the place where he would meet people close to him.  This palace was truly amazing in its architecture and the structure.  Though faded and greyish and yellow in colour, the structure speaks of the glorious past.   The peacock throne was removed from this place by Nadir Shah who attacked Delhi and it is said that this throne is somewhere in Iran right now.



The opulence and the extravaganza was clearly visible in the luxurious setting of the entire structure.  The richness of the designs and the work on the structure was truly marvelous.  I was wondering if these structures look so good even today after the wear and tear of the last 200 years, then what would it have been when it was pristine white colour of the marble resplendent with all the other colours the buildings would have been painted with, the coloured drapes, the carpets and all the precious stones that were embedded in the building design.  It would have been truly mesmerizing and therefore What Amir Khusraw said about this building would have been completely true at that point of time.  It would have been a paradise to behold!

It is said that Taj Mahal was inspired by the Diwan-e-khas and its architectural designs.

There are other buildings too like the Mumtaz Mahal which is now converted to a museum and does not look like anything that was in the earlier days though one can see the arches and the carvings on the roof that are reminiscent of a celebrated past.

Then there are gardens and pavilions which would have been used by the Emperor, his wives and sons to relax during leisure times.



For other tourist attractions in Delhi, visit my blogs on Zafar Mahal,  Qutub MinarHumayun's Tomb, Safdarjung's TombLodhi Gardens,  Jama MasjidChandni ChowkLotus Temple

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sanderson's Sundial


It was a lone form standing amidst tall and imposing structures!  It looked like it did not belong there.  Slightly out of place and standing alone is this Sundial which did not gel with either the giant monuments spread across the vicinity nor the architectural family of Qutub Minar complex.

But its significance in the history of the preservation of our heritage and architecture is immense.  

It was built as a memoir for the immense contributions made by Gordon Sanderson who was the superintendent of Archeological Survey of India during the British times.  He led the excavations around the Qutub Complex.   He has documented many books on the history of Delhi and its monuments.

The marble structure has a blade fitted on top.  The shadow of this blade keeps rotating according to the angle of the sunlight. 

We were however robbed of this opportunity to see the shadows rotating as there was no sunlight when we went and therefore, no shadows!  



Transit Umbra, Lux Permanet


This sundial in its simplicity expresses the fact that the shadows keeps coming and going but the light remains (which is the meaning of the words written on it - Transit Umbra, Lux Permanet)


For another monument dedicated to astronomical and sundial systems, visit my blog on Jantar Mantar

For other tourist attractions in Delhi, visit my blogs on Zafar Mahal,  Qutub MinarHumayun's Tomb, Safdarjung's TombLodhi Gardens,  Jama MasjidChandni ChowkLotus Temple

The Qutub Minar Complex - Tomb of Iltutmish


Shamsu’d-Din Iltutmish succeeded Qutub-ud-din-Aibak on the throne of Delhi and therefore he was the second Sultan of Delhi.  He was the one who took over the construction work of Qutub Minar and managed to complete 3 more floors after Aibak’s death. 



The tomb of Iltutmish was constructed by himself.  It has a tomb chamber with a central cenotaph. There are exquisite carvings at the entrance and the interior walls of the tomb.   Kufi and Naskh character inscriptions can be found on the inside walls.   There are 3 mihrabs on the west side of the tomb and the central one is made with marble with exquisite carvings and inscriptions.




Like Aibak, Iltutmish was also a slave.  He was bought by Qutub-ud-din-Aibak and grew in stature and position during Aibak’s rule.  He married Aibak’s daughter and became the Governor of Badaun.  When Aibak died in a polo accident and Aram Shah whose relation to Aibak was shrouded in mystery tried to take over the Sultanate, Iltutmish was invited by Qutbi Amirs to take over as Sultan in Delhi.  


He acquired a great nation and is credited with consolidating the power of Sultanate in India.  However, he was not able to hold all of them together. Slowly one by one he kept losing parts of the country as rebellions broke out and the Hindu Maharaja’s asserted their dominion over the captured regions.  Even his own people in different parts of the country left allegiance to him and started their own Sultanate!

 

For other monuments at Mehrauli, visit my blog on Zafar Mahal,  Qutub Minar, Alai Minar, Sanderson's Sundial

For other tourist attractions in Delhi, visit my blogs on  Humayun's Tomb, Safdarjung's TombLodhi Gardens,  Jama MasjidChandni ChowkLotus Temple

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Qutub Minar Part II - The Alai Minar


Looking at that incomplete structure standing lonely and sadly, I felt pity for the one who started this venture.  It almost looked as if God wanted to punish him for being so proud of his achievements.  It is a fate that almost all who want to show off and brag about their successes ultimately receives in this world.   The one who felt that I can build better and show the world who is mightier has had to taste its ridicule even after generations have passed!!
The Qutub Minar Part II – Alai Minar was started by Alauddin Khalji who usurped the Slave dynasty and wanted to build something bigger and better than the Qutub Minar in the same complex.   The building construction started with almost double the diameter and was also visualised to be of double the height of present day Qutub Minar!   But Alas, the construction was left incomplete as he died immediately after the construction started and his successors were never interested in taking this up and completing it.

Standing in the same complex, it is an eye sore but a reminder for all the mighty and powerful, of what it could all turn out to be… unfinished and unsightly!

Read our full blog on Qutub Minar

New Year Resolutions



Another New Year looms. And the accompanying resolutions have started nibbling away at the recesses of memory, forcing them to come to surface like long held bubbles fleeing the clutches of time and popping into relevance. The usual suspects are the largest bubbles; exercising, going for a walk, defying the urge of the electronics, dieting and the rest. There are a few smaller bubbles that are growing in size as they race towards the surface of relevance by combining their power. The responsibility of a parent subsumes the bubble of prudential spending which in turn had merged with systematic investing. Gifting oneself with a holiday, going on short travels to places of interest also join the bandwagon.
However, as with previous experiences, I am quite convinced that these are annual trips to wish town and the long drive back to practicality will be on the highway of routine.
We all wish a drastic change to the predictable mundane. But since it always involves a degree of discipline, the change remains a phantasm that fades away into oblivion under the incessant onslaught of monotony.
Thus lives are existed, corroded, maimed and psyched. And yet the new year offers a glimpse into the possibilities, since circumstances change, fortune beckons and opportunities arise. Not always in the form one desires, but come, they do. And fortunate is the person who can catch it by its vicious horns and ride to fulfilment. It’s a short life filled with nobleness. Let’s pledge this year to identify and enhance it.
Happy New Year 2017, slightly in advance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Idli, Orchid and Will Power by Dr Vithal Venkatesh Kamat


Book Review


After reading this book, I had half a mind to go and start a hotel business of my own!  The book was that inspiring.  And I also had the deep desire to meet Vithal Kamat in person. None of these things have happened till now.


It is a very well written auto biography of Vithal Kamat.   The book presents him as a completely self-made man.   From a humble beginning, as the son of a small restaurant owner that served south Indian stuff, his rise to the owner of a huge chain of kamat hotels and finally the 7 star Orchid Ecotel is a long long journey. 


It is the story of ambition and will power.  He dreams big and he goes right after it.   In his struggle to achieve these, he also goes through some tough times.   He faces rejection and boycotts and a state of bankruptcy but he sticks on.    And in the end, it all turns around and he is able to complete his dream project of building the Ecotel Hotel.    It is a very simple story told simply and directly. 


It is inspiring to the core.  Gives nuggets and tips to show how daring to take that step and staying on the course will bring results.  The book left a huge impression on me and I even wrote an email to him to congratulate on his superb endeavor. As usual, never got a reply!!!


For anyone who is down and out, I would recommend a dose of this book.


Rating : 5/5

 

  


 Read my other book reviews at www.india-travels.com

The Mother I Never Knew by Sudha Murty

Book Review


Story of two young men who discover suddenly that they have a mother they never knew existed.   It is a search for lost love, lost opportunities, lost bonds and a lost family that they need to get in touch with.  A past they never knew existed


The first novel is about Venkatesh, a bank manager with a money hungry wife and 2 children.   He stumbles upon someone who looks like him when he is posted in Hubli.  He sets out to find out who this person is and soon discovers that he is his brother and his father had married earlier and left a wife and a son behind.    He is horrified to find that they were left to fend for themselves without any fault of their own.  He wants to make amends for his father’s and grandmother’s wrong doing.  The story reveals the struggles he has within his own family.  His wife and son are very ambitious and his daughter who is more attached to him, understands him and his motives in helping out this other family.


The second story is about Mukesh who is from a wealthy family but comes to know through an accident that he has been adopted.  From there starts his journey to get in touch with his biological mother.  The journey takes him to different places and different families.   It is quite dramatic and a bit like a little Bollywood movie.  However, at the end, when he gets to see his biological mother, he is not sure if he is happy to find her at all.   He now feels a deeper obligation towards the mother who raised him and did not let him know even once that he is not her child. Both stories are gripping and emotionally enthralling.   It shows the myriad faces of people and  their relationships, emotional tugs, confusions and struggles.   


The language is simple and easy and the plot deep like the other books of Sudha Murty.  However, there are some dramatic situations that could have been avoided.  


Overall a good read.  I would rate it 4/5.


Read other Book Reviews at www.india-travels.com

Christmas in Delhi



December is a pleasant month in Delhi though it can get to be a little bone chilling towards end of December around Christmas and New Year.  The trick to beat the winter is to keep busy, get out in the open and enjoy the sunshine whenever possible!

Christmas time can be lot of fun.  For Christians in Delhi, it is one of the busiest time of the year.  From learning Christmas carols to baking cakes and going around door to door singing, wishing people Christmas, and looking around at the Christmas decorations!

These days, Christmas has come to be recognized as a common festival. Festivities and decorations are done in quite earnestness by malls, hotels, airports and even small shops.  They compete to stand out and attract attention by placing a Christmas tree, have Santa cutouts, and hang stars all around.  



Markets are abuzz with decorations and stars hanging outside.  Shops that are selling Christmas goodies are in plenty.  The stars, bells, trees, lights etc. adorn the streets and pavements of quite a few market areas.


The Christmassy red, green, white, gold and silver colors make the whole place look cheerful.   The celebratory mood is visible though this time I should say the mood for spending has been a little less because of the demonetization problems.  People are only spending for what is the basic! 


Celebrations, therefore are a little restrained but there.  




Friday, December 23, 2016

Delhi's most awaited Moongphali Wala's (Peanut Vendor)


As the winter in Delhi progresses, moongphali wala's (peanut vendor) ubiquitous presence is welcomed across the nooks and crannies of the city. It is virtually impossible not to find it at a stone's throw distance from where people congregate in public.

It is a common sight to see a peanut vendor with his various offerings in a cart standing near the bus stops, railway stations and almost all the crowded joints selling his provisions.  It is a favourite pastime of Delhi wala's too to munch on their favourite snack in the form of roasted peanuts that is available in different forms and sizes with these vendors.  The vendors put an earthen pot with hot coals in the middle of the groundnut heap to keep them warm and hot.  Sometimes I have a feeling that it is the warmth that people appreciate more than the peanuts itself.

It is also a physical activity that one enjoys - breaking the shell open with a bang and fish out the one or two or if you are really lucky three little peanuts from inside the protective casing and pop them into impatient mouths. After opening some, they get the knack of correctly opening the shell by pressing at the midpoint where the pods are joined at a beaky angle, so it pops out at the first instance.   Read more at www.india-travels.com  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book Review - Gently Falls the Bakula by Sudha Murty


I was introduced to Sudha Murty’s writings by my daughter who had a lesson in her English textbook about a young girl teaching her grandmother how to read.  That was a very touching story and it prompted me to buy her other books.  “Gently falls the Bakula” was the first one that I read.

The author has painted a very realistic landscape of a small town in Hubli with well drawn out characters. The protagonists are very identifiable with any townfolk in India, and that instantly connects the reader with spatial identification and empathy.

This is the story of a couple and their relationship. They study together in one class and stay nearby in one village. Shrikant and Shrimati are good at studies but Shrimati always comes first. So, there is a bit of competition with the male ego getting hurt sometimes. Shrikant is ambitious and wants to go for Engineering while Shrimati though intelligent is plain-looking and simple. There averred goals do not converge for she loves arts and history. She decides to pursue her passion rather than run the rat race!   Read more at the book review section of  www.india-travels.com



Missing the proverbial woods


Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a hard hitting speech to his lawmakers on demonetization. The hard hitting was all for the previous regime and none for his policy. This is truly a case of missing the proverbial woods for the trees.
His entire speech focused on eulogising the demonetization move, centred on the reluctance of previous prime minister Mrs. Gandhi, who ostensibly wavered on a long-pending demand for demonetization on the pretext of wanting to win elections. The narrative being that the GOP was interested not so much in the nation, as much as in their own party.
This has a peculiarly obnoxious smell to it. As with all other spins that the BJP puts on all their actions, this too has missed the point by a wide margin. It has become increasingly clear that demonetization as an idea on the one hand and implementation on the other have had no common connect. And the disconnect has been on so many levels that it is now slowly emerging that no worthwhile thought has gone into the exercise before plunging the country headlong into this mindless chasm. Neither intent, nor vision has had a loci that could rally the people together.
To top it, our venerable PM has stooped to pointing fingers at previous non-BJP PMs, without even even wanting to glance at the direction of prudence, which I am sure is bleating its head off trying to convince the PM to watch before he shoots his mouth off. The PM is convinced that there was no better solution to black money, terror funding, cashless economy and sundry other reason, none any better than the other, at either convincing or at least at feasibility.
The notorious notion gaining ground that the poor/non-corrupt people are happy and that somehow the rich/corrupt are having sleepless nights is arguably one of the most wretched sentiments ever to be put on the public discourse. It demeans the poor in their condition, is downright dismissive of facts and flies in the face of reason. Demonetization as a measure to check black money or “bad money” can certainly be argued. It has its good and bad points. But to implement it without recourse to an alternative strategy is foolishness beyond compare and of gargantuan proportions. Sadly, the PM misses this. He fervently believes in the adage that time is a great healer. And that in the long run (which can swing between a few days and possibly months) all will be well. The disastrous effect this has had on small business is swept aside. The rural economy is in shambles, as it completely relies on a cash economy to transact. There are large swathes of land where ATMs come to life only in sheer emergencies and not as a regular hotspot of public discourse. In any case, where the govt. has put a brake on personal spending beyond 24000/- per week, the entire discourse has moved from a higher expectation of lifestyle to narrowing one’s options on survival tips and techniques.
The demonetization move has generated a fair amount of questions, and there are no clear answers. Reason has not had a say in these trying times of bravado riding the ship into some golden sunset. One sincerely hopes that there is some sort of sunrise beyond.

History of Delhi and Tourist Attractions

I came to stay in Delhi about 34 years back (sounds like I am ancient!) with my parents.  My dad working at that time with the Defences was posted here. We kept moving from one place to the other in Delhi in search of a better place to stay, study and work in that order and I have to now say that we’ve covered almost all the corners.


We landed in South Delhi's R K Puram area and from there moved to the West side of Delhi and covered Janak Puri and Vikas Puri areas.   Finally we moved into our own house in NOIDA,which is a little outside east of Delhi but now considered as part of Delhi NCR (National Capital Region).  About 20 years back I got married and I came back to where I started - the South Delhi  So, it's been a full circle!


Work also took me to different places within Delhi – from Rajendra Place to the centre of Delhi - Connaught Place, and then Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, NOIDA, Nehru Place, Kalkaji, Gurgaon and South Delhi.  So, if i tell you that I've seen the whole of Delhi, it would be a tall tale.


Delhi is big and there are so many places to see in and around Delhi that it is overwhelming.  If a person comes to Delhi with the pure intention of sight-seeing, then it could take them anywhere between 3 to 4 days or even a week to cover all the monuments and parks and the important sightseeing places.  


Delhi has been a place of action and centre of political and cultural hub for many centuries and history is embedded in each and every part and structure.  The heritage, the culture and the traditional architecture are living proofs that showcase a very interesting and exciting past.It is believed that Indraprastha mentioned in the Mahabharata was Delhi. This place was ruled by the Rajputs under the Tomars and Chauhans when the Afghans attacked them and captured Delhi.   From then on, it fell into multiple hands – Lodhi’s, Tughlaks and Mughals.   Finally when Mughal empire was established across India Shah Jahan established Old Delhi as the capital from where he ruled.The monuments, tombs and forts scattered around Delhi are tourist attractions.  These showcase distinct designs and architectural lineage to the heritages.   Still standing tall and preserved from each of these era, these buildings give out an eerie feeling when we step into them of having traversed unknowingly into that period.


The tourist attractions are Red Fort in Old Delhi (was part of Shahjahanabad), Jama Masjid (the Royal court of Mughals), Qutub Minar at Mehrauli (from the Slave Dynasty), Lodhi Gardens which houses tombs of Lodhi dynasty rulers, Humayun’s tomb, Zafar Mahal and other tombs around Mehrauli from the Mughal Era, Raj Ghat, India Gate from British era, Lotus Temple and Akshardham Temple are fairly new additions after Independence.


So when one goes visiting these tourist attractions, one needs to have a little bit of the background.  It is intriguing to find out that there is so much history behind all these places. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna


Book Review of The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna


It was my fault!  I approached the book with a preconceived notion and I realized by the end that it was a completely erroneous thing to do.  It was gross injustice to the book and the writer.
When I accidentally came upon the first book of Twinkle Khanna, I found it to be very funny and hilarious.  I therefore, somehow assumed that she would continue in that genre.  But the assumption was completely shattered by the time I came to the end of the first story in her book.  I still kept searching for her razor sharp humor and kept trudging through the second and third story for a similar thread.  However, by the time I came to the last one which was actually the only story that stood out for me, I realized this is something I had not expected at all.
Twinkle Khanna has managed to surprise her readers a second time.   If in the first one, it was for her witty and satirical style, this one was for her astute sense of seriousness in bringing out social issues.  Issues that people were not comfortable speaking out.   Issues that were considered taboo in public domain.
The book is a combination of 4 different short stories picked up from news articles in recent times.   However, since I was not aware of this when I started reading, I could not make out when one story finished and when the second one started.
The first story is about Lakshmi, the young girl who brings about a change in the status of women by empowering her through wealth in the form of owning trees.    It was a good story by all means but was not gripping enough for me.  It just skimmed past me and ended quite abruptly.
Second story starts with two retired elderly sisters having a relaxed routine.   The story is about the one called Noni Appa who is unable to express her inner desires even at this stage of life.  She is still saddled with the thought of how she wants to be viewed by others around her.  A near death experience makes her realise that it is more important to enjoy the moments and grab happiness when life offers it to you.
The third one that completely flew over my head is based on a Malayali Christian girl who is twice unlucky in marriage.  The first time, she takes the plunge and second time, she goes ahead with her parents’ wishes but still lands in problems. The story of Elisa Joseph is yet another washout.   Twinkle really made an effort in understanding the Malayali Christian culture with the correct names and churches and rituals, the story itself did not stand out very clearly.
The fourth one is about Bablu Kewat, a person who feels concerned about the unhygienic condition of sanitary napkins used by his wife and the village girls.  He makes all efforts to invent a machine that can shell out low cost sanitary pads for rural women.  In that struggle, he loses everything from his wife, mother, house, his work, image etc. but in the end comes back victorious.  Though it is an exact copy of the life of Muruganandan, the story stands out and the way it is written keeps the interest of the reader going on till the end.
So, I would give her a rating of 2 stars out of 5 for this book.




Read my review of the first book  - Mrs Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Kerala Kattan Kaapi (Black Coffee)


The early morning Kattan Kaapi is one of the most followed rituals in a Keralite family.    So it is for most of the keralites settled outside Kerala too.    And for this one cup, they would buy an entire year's ration in one go during their annual visit to Kerala.    The kattan kaapi evokes feelings of nostalgia and an invisible  bond towards their hometown and the place they belonged to once upon a time!  

This one concoction in the morning satiates and helps them to keep going for an entire day.  The rest of the day can then be dedicated to the lesser preferred tea in any form...  plain tea, tulsi tea, ginger tea, green tea, etc.

The special taste and aroma of the kattan kaapi can only be achieved with the special South Indian coffee powder that is available in South Indian stores outside kerala.      Though the preparation of this simple beverage is equally simple, many don't get it right.  It is the proportion of the sugar and coffee powder that matters. 

This cuppa is supposed to be high on sugar and coffee powder both..  but the preparation is slightly tricky.  The coffee powder should not be so strong that it starts turning sour in the mouth or so light that it becomes tasteless and watery.  So, it has to be prepared carefully.   Some people prefer the coffee powder straight – the coffee beans roasted and powdered just as it is, but there are others who prefer the coffee powder with a little chicory added to it.  Both tastes equally good. 


A very simple method of preparation - in one cup boiling water, add one heaped teaspoon of sugar and then one not so heaped teaspoon of coffee powder.  It usually takes me atleast two three preparations per coffee powder that I buy new, to get to the right proportion to follow for the rest of the days..  so, essentially it is about practice!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sights of India


India is a vast and beautiful country..  filled with different sights and sounds.   It is one of the most colourful and diverse countries of the world.   An amalgamation of many countries in one single entity,  it carries within itself a diverse set of religion, people, beliefs, culture, tradition, language, landscapes etc.



Every part of the country and state is different.  Within states, every city behaves differently!   It could be very confusing and difficult to decide which part of the country one should be visiting if there is paucity of time.  It could take ages to cover the entire length and breadth of this land.  


With the country spread so far and wide, covering mountains, plains, deserts, coasts and beaches, there is something or the other for everyone to see.



As with the terrain, the people of India from the North to the South have different traditions and culture.

North of India is mostly hilly and for an adventure loving or sports person, this might be the right choice.   Heading to the Himalayas will give ample opportunities to go for white water rafting, trekking etc. through the mountains.   Some of the hill stations like Shimla, Chhail, Manali, Ranikhet, Nainital, etc. are beautiful and breathtaking.



The flora and fauna of this country are diverse and there are wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and zoological gardens spread in each zones and territory of India.


The south of India is mostly the coastal belt and have beautiful beaches.  Kerala and Goa are known tourist attractions for its beaches and natural beauty.  A houseboat ride through the backwaters of Kerala is something that every Indian would want to undertake.    


Delhi, Mumbai or any other Metropolitan cities could give out India in a nutshell.  The cities are a melting point of people from all across the country and therefore a mishmash of everything - from people to religion from different states.





At Wider Canvas, we have tried capturing our experiences of over 20 years in this vast and beautiful country.  We are trying to bring to you the small and big things that make up for this diverse and multi-dimensional nation.  We are currently working and staying in Delhi but belong to God's own country, Kerala.  As a family, we have traveled widely across the length and breadth of India for personal and official reasons.

We never thought of creating a blog when we had undertaken those trips!   But now, when we have started compiling and putting together those moments, we wish we had known we were going to do something like this :)  We would have probably taken a little more nicer looking pics or dug deeper into the history of those places!

But the journey continues and we are very happy to share whatever we can dig out from our secret chambers and can be shared without hurting the sentiments of anybody involved.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Indian Authors - Book Review of Mrs Funnybones byTwinkle Khanna



I was recently introduced to this book by one of my colleagues.   I had never read any article of Twinkle Khanna earlier.  It would be better to say that I didn’t even know she could write.   So, when I saw this book, I was quite intrigued and wanted to know what the famous daughter of star couple Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia had to write.   It was with a mixed feeling and misgivings that I opened the book.  But the first page I skimmed kind of arrested me and riveted my attention.   I finished the book in about 6-7 hours of non-stop reading.    more..  



Read my review of the second book of Twinkle Khanna : The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad