Monday, June 27, 2011

Humayun's tomb

Humayun's tomb

Continuing on my lucky trend of visiting historical monuments , this weekend I went to Humayun's tomb with my folks.

As I mentioned earlier that nowadays I am reading "The City of Djinns" by William Darymple, which is the travelogue about his stay in Delhi for a year. So anyways I was fascinated to visit what all historical places he was mentioning in his travelogue. Although he din't mention Humayun's tomb yet but still it was one place which was on my list as as far as I remember I never been to that place (My dad doesn't agree with that and strongly stats that we have been there when we came to delhi around 15 yrs back).

Interestingly I was not planning to visit Humayun's tomb at the first place and instead last weekend itself I told my folks that we will go to India gate. But in the morning my colleague called me up enquiring about that place and on finding that it was on the way to India Gate , I made up a plan to visit it too. (Its another story that we couldn't see India Gate because of the huge crowd that descended there due to the lovely weather)

So coming to Humayun's tomb. Humayun was Babar's son and Akbar's father. He was the second of the Great Mughal rulers to have ruled India. He ruled India in 1532-40 and then from 1555-1560. While coming down from stairs, on hearing the Azan (Muslim call of prayer) as it was his habit that wherever he is ,on hearing the Azan he will kneel down in reverence ,is robe got stuck in his feet and fell down from stairs. He was succeeded by his 13 year old son Akbar, who later on became the greatest Mughal emperor to have ruled India.

View from center- Humayun's tomb

Hamida Banu Begum(Akbar's mother), his grieving widow, built his Mausoleum after his death. This building is touted as precursor to Taj Mahal. It stands on a platform of 12000 sq m and reaches a height of 47m.   

Peeking at the Emperor....

The earliest example of Persian influence in Indian architecture, the tomb has within it over 100 graves, earning it the name of "Dormitory of the Mughals".

First monument built with red sandstone and white marble.

Built of rubble masonry, the structure is the first to use red sandstone and white marble in such great quantities.

Lawn in front- built in Persian style

Like all Persian buildings , this one too had the 4 block garden structure with water channels separating each block from other.

Entrance to Humayun's tomb
Quite symmetrical

One striking thing about this monument is the symmetry. No matter from where you look at the main building, the lawn, the path to the monument etc everything has a symmetry and each half is a mirror image of the other.

Humayun's tomb - The Red Taj

I was glad that unlike last time when I clicked Taj Mahal, I learned to keep the base line horizontal to the ground and also clicked most of the pics keeping in mind the proportions.

Nevertheless a lovely and serene place to visit with your family and loved ones. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dad...the first SuperHero of our life :)

Tomorrow is Father's day and I have been planning to share a small memory that my dad shared with me a while ago when we two were watching French Open's semifinal between Nadal and Soderling. 
But being the lazy guy I am, I never did.

But today I received a mailer from ICICI Bank , wishing us on Father's day.
The sentence written in that Ad is as follows:
"He is a mentor, guardian, friend, role model and much more. ICICI Bank joins you in wishing the first ever SUPERHERO in your life."

More than anything it was the last line that touched me most.

Yes , he is indeed the first Superhero of our life. He is the first person who could do anything that was possible in this world. He could make us giggle or laugh by tickling us when we were sad that our toy is broken. We don't have to bother if we get tired while walking in the market because no matter how loaded he is , he will always find hands to carry us on his shoulders. We don't have to be scared of falling because we knew before we touch the ground his hand will hold us. In fact sometimes the falling was intentional just to get the caring and pampering after that.
Not only he could never do anything wrong but even if we did a grave mistake we always knew he could mend it and make it like before. No matter how much he scolds you or how much you are scared of him, he was the one guy in whose arms you had the best sleep you ever had.

Yes he is my first Idol and like everyone who wishes to be like their dad I too always wanted to be like him when I grow up. He has taught me a lot of things in life but the foremost thing I have learned from him , the conversation that I still remember little foggily was when he told me that "Nothing is impossible". I don't remember why he said that or for what context but that is one thing that has always given me the courage to do anything , to take initiatives and be confident that yes I can do it.

So coming to the memory that he shared that day. I came back from office and as always I was sitting with my Mom n Dad and watching whatever they were watching on television. And during the commercial I just surfed to the sports channel as I knew Nadal vs Soderling was being aired at that time. After checking the score I just changed back the channel but my dad changed back to the sports channel and started watching, I was surprised because although we two have always passionately watched Cricket and Hockey together and I had also forced him to see ManU's soccer matches at times but I never thought he will show any interest in any other sport. Soon he started commenting passionately about that sport and then he shared that while in college he had at times worked as a ball boy at tennis stadium. In fact he told me that he has seen Ramesh Krishnan, Joy Mukherjee etc who have been stalwarts of Indian tennis in 70's from close as he had served as the ball boy in the games they played at the tennis academy. I felt quite proud and happy to know about it.

I love him a lot. And wish him the best of health , happiness and everything :)

PS: I know the photo is not good :( . I clicked it just today and was hoping it to come good and right now this is the only pic which matches what I want to add to this post.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Day of the Jackal

I had completed the Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. Arguably the fastest I have completed any book of substantial length.

Well I won't call it a scintillating thriller although it has an intriguing webs of twists and turns that makes you continue reading.

The book is about an attempt to assassinate the President of France , General Charles De Gaulle by the OAS which is the rebellious organisation comprising of the army rebellions who felt let down by Charles De Gaulle as he relinquished the control of Algeria and gave it its independece after he became the President of France. This act was taken as an act of betrayal by some loyal France army as they have given their blood and sweat to fight in Algeria against the rebels to whom he had now given the control.

So after 6 failed attempts themselves they plan to hire a foreigner who is a professional assasin.

The reason I was disappointed with the book was  because in the starting pages itself the author reveals that the attempt was a failure (Sorry to have revealed it but I knew anyway if you plan to read it you will get to know about it very quickly).

So the reading became more of an ordeal to find out to how such a meticulously planned attempt fails.

Well hats off to the writer for the way he depicted the planning and also the way the sleuths went about to uncover the plot. The book is like a cat and mouse struggle between the assassin and police . At one point you feel, wow how brilliantly the killer has planned his particular move and at the next the police are at his tail. Then just as you feel, oh he is going to be caught, he changes his plan and again escapes.

One thing about these writers like Frederick Forsyth , John Grisham etc is that they have a vast knowledge about the topics on which they are creating the fictitious story. They are so thorough and detailed about everything that one point you forget that its fiction and you just start beliving in whatever they are saying.

Nevertheless a nice book to read ....

Next I have picked City of Djinns from one of my favorite non-fiction/travel writer William Darymple. I know I am going to love this book as not only the writer is of my liking but even the story is also about my national capital Delhi. Its a story of his first years stay in New Delhi and what all stories he found in this city full of Djinns (Magical creatures who are invisible)

Will update how it was once I am done , which I hope is real quick :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dhinka Chikha...

Watched Ready this weekend with my family. It was really a Dhinka Chikha movie...

As I am an ardent fan of Salman Khan, I was really looking forward to watch it. Although in the promos Asin looked quite dull but in the movie she looked ok. In fact there is something about this girl, she doesn't fail to attract your attention just like she did earlier in Ghajini. Salman as always had the attitude but there are two things that I don't like about him.

First the silly things he do in his movie at times which downplays him as an actor and second the vulgar dialogues at times. Some people might say what else is there in his movies. But like Mom said "The way he says few things , suits only and only him".

An interesting happened at the theatre, there was a family sitting in the row behind us. The guy was younger than me . During the intermission he commented to his father that what a bogus movie but is father replied "Are mujhe to kafi achi lagi (I really liked it)"...... Surprisingly I expected it other way around but I don't know may be our elder generation tend to like more such kind of movies. As was apparent when we came out after watching Dabangg. In our family my mom was the one who liked it most that time.

But I do agree with that uncle, this movie was better than Dabangg and did have some scenes which were funny to say the least :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Update on Books I have read...

Its been real long since I updated about the books that I have read or reading. Infact so long that it was hard for me to locate which was last book about which I updated :(
And I found that I stopped updating long time back last year so I have not written about most of the books last year (I have read close to 25 books last year :)).

So I have decided I will restart from the books that I have read this year and in case anything strikes me about what I read last year I will definitely write a post about it :)
Infact just while searching my blog , I noticed that these posts do help me a lot in recapping what was the book all about, the story, interesting facts etc. So definitely something I must do whenever I complete any book.

While looking for what all books I need to update about, I was really disappointed to note that out of the 12 books that I have to read in this first half of the year (as per the library plan I am subscribed to) I have only managed to read just 4 books :( :(

Nevertheless here is the update...

"From the Holy Mountain " by William Darymple.

A nice travelogue from one of the most contempary travel writer of this generation. This book covers his travel across the conflict trodden Middle East, tracking the ancient Christian sites. He follows the same path as followed by 7th Century traveller and monk John Moschos and bring forth how Christanity is almost on the bringe of eradictation from the holy land, from where it once originated.

William Darymple recreates the landscape, terrains, cultures, people so beautifully that it seems you are yourself travelling alongwith him.

The only drawback I personally find with his writing is that he fails to link a story and instead makes it too obvious that you are reading a non-fiction.

Nevertheless a nice read...

Next up was the man booker prize winner "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel.

Life of Pi is the story of Piscine Mortel Patel, an Indian boy who lived in Pondicherry (modern day Pudducherry) alongwith his family. His father owned a zoo. Due to India's political emergency of 70's his father decides to sell it off and migrate to Canada with some of the animals and his family. Its during this trip that they meet with a sea disaster and Pi is left stranded on a life boat with a Zebra, a female Orangutan, a Hyena and a young Royal Bengal Tiger for more than 200 days.

In the initial year of his growing, Pi religiously follows three religions, Hinduism, Christanity and Islam. And his undiluted devotion for the three and the depiction of how religion is not only confided to only those who are born with it but is free for all to pratcise is truly worth reading.

A truly riveting tale of a boys struggle to survive. Keeps you binded and interested. The way the writer describes various animals , their behavior and their surrounding is really commendable. Very rightly in the league of Man Booker Winners.

Next came the spy thriller which is touted as the best spy book ever
"The Spy who came from the Cold" by John Le Carre.

Its indeed a nice book and it seems you are reading a Hollywood movie. The book is quite old so actually its other way around i.e. you can sense that what you see in most of Hollywood spy movies are somewhat inspired from it. Not in story but the character sketches, the aura thats created, locations etc have the essence of this book.
Well the story is not that griping or suspense filled , infact its seems quite a straight forward read but yes it does have a special touch which makes you feel intrigued and plugged to read it continously.

Recently I completed " The Old Man & His God" by Sudha Murty

Sudha Murty is wife of Infosys founder Narayan Murty. She is a very notable writer and social worker. She has written may non-fiction books sharing her experiences and incidents that have occured in her life.

In Sudha Murty's own words, "People often ask me how it is that so many interesting things happen only to me. To them I reply that if you have a sensitive mind and record your observations regularly, you will see your life too is a vast storehouse of stories."

This summarises very well this book , which is collection of short stories rather experiences that Sudha Murty has experienced during the course of her life and work. All of them are quite touching and inspiring. It also contains a story on how Narayan Murty had a change of ideology which eventually led to the formation of the hugely successful Infosys.

Its a nice short read to learn about various human traits and characters that exists in this society.

Now I have started with The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. Its another best selling thriller. Having already read Afghan by the same author I am really looking forward to it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Just to Mention...

I have added a slideshow of my photos hosted on my Flickr account on this blog....


Monday, June 6, 2011

Hawa Mahal.....

If it was Taj Mahal last weekend then this weekend it was time of Hawa Mahal at Jaipur.

I have lived in Jaipur for 3 years 91-94 and arguably Jaipur is one city where you can never get bored. Its so full of interesting places that no matter for how long you have lived there you will never get full of visiting places.

This weekend I went to Jaipur to visit my sister who is working there and one thing on my agenda was to click Hawa Mahal. 

Hawa Mahal clicked by my Sister
Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1799 as a tribute to Lord Krishna, Thats why the shape looks like the crown of Lord Krishna. The Palace was part of the Ladies Mahal and was mainly built to let the ladies of the family view the proceedings of the market as they had to follow the strict rules of Purdah system according to which they cannot come in front of outsiders and had to keep themselves covered always. So as you can see from the pic that it has lot of windows where the womenfolk used to sit and beacuse of these windows the place is full of air and hence the name Hawa Mahal

Spot the Pigeons sitting on the Windows
 This too was clicked by my sis.

Although I went past it at the best time possible i.e. in the evening when the light was perfect but I couldn't click it myself as I was driving and we couldn't stop as we have to go to Govind Dev Ji Mandir for the Aarti. So I asked my sis to click and luckily that was the best photo that we could manage of Hawa Mahal. Later when it was dark we came back and although Hawa Mahal was looking beautiful with all the lightning but I couldn't click a good shot because of the lack of light.

Hawa Mahal at Night
  Govind Dev Ji temple is situated inside the City Palace complex of Jaipur. City Palace was the official residence of the king of Jaipur. The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and every day the Aarti is offered at 7 different times and the remarkable thing is that every time the dieties are decorated in different form and clothes.

Govind DevJi, Jaipur
One thing in the Mandir complex which I found quite fascinating was that there was tree in front of the Hanuman temple which was full of bats. And they were big in size unlike the smaller ones I once saw at Bandhavgarh Fort. Again because of the low light I couldn't capture it properly.

Bats at Govind DevJi temple
  The black thing that you can see hanging from the tree are bats. I took the last one with flash as I was fearing the flash light might produce some unwanted reaction from the bats. Nevertheless that one wasn't good either.

These are just some of the places that I happen to visit but there are many more in and around Jaipur and just sharing some more pics that I clikced.

Albert Hall Museum

Entrance to Govind DevJi temple
 We then had dinner at one of the restauarnt where we used to dine when we lived in Jaipur and it was nice way to remember all those days.

PS: You can click on the photos to see the original sizes.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Blogger not working properly.... :(

The blogger site is not working properly since long. It only shows me logged in when I go to the dashboard page or the main page but the moment I click on my blog it shows me logged out and infact its so bad that I cannot comment on my own blog easily. And forget about commenting on others blog, no matter how hard I try I just can't comment on some blog. Its so disappointing at time when you read something worth commenting and just can't :(

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Prejudice oh Prejudice..

Photo taken from

Life is amazing, it springs up so many surprises . And sometimes these surprises are pleasant in such a way that they make you laugh at your prejudice.

I have a colleague who works at our Bangalore office and she is kind of our customer. Kind of because we provide the platforms and they use it to provide our common customers the IPs and tests.

You may have noticed the colleague is a female. As she is quite new to the company, she joined around 8 months back and probably the first company she joined after completing her Masters, she had a lot of doubts and usually needs a lot of help to get things done.
Since I was the contact point for their team, we talk a lot on communicator and on phone.

One pecular thing about her is that she calls everyone by their surname (those who know my surname can laugh a little :)).
Initially I thought she does that innocently as my surname is a common first name down south and she might have mistaken me for some south indian. But when I found her calling other too by their surname, I found it quite amusing. Although I have communicated with lot of South Indians and never found anyone calling others by their surname but still I thought may be its her culture.

She has quite a mature voice and the way she talks it sounds as if you are talking to someone quite settled and quite, who is pretty experienced in life. So as we do with most of things I prejudiced her image in my mind as that of a saree clad South Indian lady. And the fact that she had a Masters degree  cemented my believe. In my country most of people who opt for engineering, do masters in engineering only when they have spend some fruitless time after graduation on some uninterested job or in search of it, otherwise they jump to job after graduation itself.

So everytime I used to talk to her on phone I used to be more polite and respectful even though at times she used to ask quite trivial questions.

Couple of weeks back I had to travel to our Bangalore office to conduct a training for couple of days and as her team was working with us I informed them too and was looking forward to meeting them all.

So the day I reached the office , I was sitting at reception with my colleague who too was travelling with me. At that moment a young South Indian girl wearing western outfit came to the lobby with another person. She was babbling a lot and after talking a while to her friend she blurted out my name saying I am going to come there for the training. Then she turned towards me and may be she realised it was me or not and went to the cafetaria with her friend. Me and my fellow colleague were bemused to hear my name and since we couldn't recall any other female who was supposed to attend our training we thought it must be her, but somehow I still believed in my prejudice.

But later in the second half she came to the training room and we exchanged a smile without talking but somehow we both figured it out. So later in the evening she came to the room with a cake as it was her birthday and introduced herself.

Back at the hotel room I couldn't stop laughing thinking how mis leading her voice and my prejudice is. She is totally opposite of what I thought. She is quite lively, talkative and mostly innocently confused.

I was there one more day but we din't get the time to interact.Later when I came back to my city, I told her that because of how she sounded on phone I always thought of her as a mature saree clad lady. We both laughed out loud and she told that she get that a lot.

Its quite funny to know now that she is quite a child and now talking to her is more polite and guiding than predominantly respectful.