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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fried out

It was 2007 July ,one of the hottest periods in the Gulf and I had the first taste of summer in Al Ain then
I reached U.A.E precisely on July 12th  and landed in the  Abu Dhabi Airport .
Tawam Hospital receive their staff on the first visit with a  friendly chaperon and a chauffeur driven vehicle .

Smiling Sidhu was my first glimpse of my Hospital hospitality and he made  a reasonably good impression .

As we sped through the smooth neat wide highway to Al Ain I was intrigued by the signs that came before me .
Though travelling away from Abu Dhabi city once in a while the board Abudhabi  exit came on my right side !
This was surprising for someone fresh from India as we expect it to be in  the opposite side of my travel as I was moving away from it later Sidhu filled me that this was the way one returned back by an underpass ,no  U.turns or junctions in highways ,it was one smooth ride of 140 Km in an hour and a half .

we passed the huge horse roundabout as  we approached AlAin city and I  looked at  Tawam Hospital ,it was huge and sprawling with the Faculty of Medicine near by ,
we sped swiftly into the flower bedecked roundabouts and  the neatly pavemented city of Al Ain went through the busy areas and reached the other side of the city and went into the Hilton hotel to be  my home for more than a month from then .

I was promptly deposited in my fifth floor room with a nice little balcony facing the main road with the speeding cars   ,of course at that time of the year one wouldn't venture into open balconies for the sun  would fry one till late evening !
Slowly I made the  hotel  my home ,commuting  to  the hospital in the official car and coming back in the evenings ,the long weekends of Friday and Saturday ( in UAE the week starts on Sunday ) stretched in front on me with nothing much to do but gaze into the TV and think of home food ,it would be November by the time AlAin climate changed from torrid to warm to cold and it would be real nice in December     Jan and February pleasant 10 to 15 degrees .

But this happened in the height of summer and we are talking of 45 to 50 degrees
One weekend afternoon after a long nap I slid the glass door of my room moving aside the curtains and stepped into the veranda ,half sleepy
 I wanted to take a breath of fresh air and I then did something  which I regretted immediately .

I slid the door back and it promptly got locked into place from inside !!!!
I remembered reading an instruction precisely not to do this !


Not a pleasant  proprosition to get caught in a blazing verandah under a fuming sun in the  Gulf summer and to add to my discomfiture I was ill dressed in a lungi without even a shirt to cover my chest  and a  growing paunch !
within minutes I was in sympathy with all the eggs I fried in my life ,karma getting back so fast !!

The sun was just shining away and  wickedly smiling at my agony ,
I  could see my mobile lying on the bed sadly far away behind the impenetrable glass door and my voice sounded feeble and hoarse as I tried to beckon a taxi driver 5 stories below in front of the lobby ,he didn't even glance up .
 why should he ?
Even no birds were in the sky !
my foot bare and  burning made me do some kuchipidi steps  as I attempted to withdraw into a small patch of shade .
I had to look out for someone  to call in distress if  I did not want to die of sunstroke and be packed home in a steel box .
Finally I  found my saviour
A posh Arab had just  got out from his BMW and happened to gazed up .

He should have got a shock to see a half naked fakir gesticulating like a wild monkey on the fifth floor balcony making guttural sounds .
The script unfolded like below

Arab : Hey whats up ?
Me  : Everything ,I mean , me stuck here and  door locked by itself u know  ,
 save me  , tell in  lobby pleeese

Arab  : why the hell did you lock yourself out !
ME : dont know ,sure will tell you once I get the answer !

This made him chuckle .

Arab :   Ha Ha you look burnt ha ha !!
ME :    I feel burnt too
Arab :  Shall I get a fire engine for the  rescue what ? they could hose you first
ME :  easier way is to tell the manager please....
Arab :   ha OK well should have had my camera missed it ( those days mobile cams weren't that famous )
ME   :Ya what a photo op ? just like a kingfisher model



Well the angel of an Arab did the right thing after giving me a smile ,he went straight in and out came the manager and his gang .
the script continues as below

Manager and co : Doctor it is you ha ha ? What made you something like that ?

I was sure producing all the humor Al Ain could get that summer and I felt i would become a  national celebrity by the evening !

Within minutes there a lot of banging and tapping in front of my room door double locked by the safe me before going for sleep !
somehow they managed to open it and  then  opened my sliding door and  I  stepped into the bliss of the AC inside !!

I collapsed into the sofa grinning with embarrassment at the amused waiters and the  manager one of them even bringing a thoughtful cool drink with him to cool my embers
 The manager  gave me a tut tut
why in heavens did you do that my dear Doktor just imagine if no one had seen you what you would have done ?
slowly after lot of laughs and giggles they left me alone to sizzle out 

I collapsed into the bed thanking my stars that I was dressed not just in my lungi alone or else a lot of me would have gone fried that day !
Nuts !!!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Adaminte Magan Abhu

Some Malayalam films these days are showing the sensitivity that they are  known for and thier quality is improving  after a precipitous dip to crass masala recently .
Surprisingly two films Pranayam and Adhaminte magan Abhu have dealt with the seniors in society who are considered  not very market worthy in film commerce .
Adhaminte got the national award for acting for Saleem Kumar known for his comedy forte .

The story  is that of an old couples yearning for a pilgrimage to Mecca with thier meagre savings .
ignored by thier only son working  in the middle east
The couple find it difficult to gather the funds needed even by  selling thier loved few posessions like an old tree in the house  and a  cow and calf which provides them livelihood and to them  more like a child
 .
Good people are willing to help beyond the constraints of religon or blood relationships but Adham being a stickler to the laws of his faith and pilgrimage rules refuses them with love .
the couple almost prepare for thier trip at one time before disappointment sets in and go to people they know even to those who have done them harm and apologise for any wrongs committed by them which is said to be a prepilgrimage ritual ,and they find that the Almighty works in strange ways unfathomable to meagre mortals .

The trials and tribulations that fall on good men who stick to thier principles but  are stonewalled by poverty is depicted with finesse .
both Saleem Kumar and Zareena Wahab have essayed thier roles with grace and dignity the dark at time grotesque and sad eyes of Saleem strangely contrasting with those of the still beutiful Zarina
The wrinkles of Saleem in a tired  face breaking into myraid emotions and  eyes filled with love and devotion makes him worth the national award
The couple dont make it to Mecca but bring back thier cow and plant  a new sapling in thier house ,depicting a new beginning
A very good movie
hope more of this genre is made

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Case of the Missing Chauhan... Trip to the origin of River Yamuna

















Chauhanji the central character in this post was the fulcrum of our trip up the mountains .
He was the organiser and part of Panikker Travels to whom our group the School of Bhagavad Geetha of Thiruvananthapuram had entrusted to conduct the tour .
They had conducted many such yatras over the years to Mt Kailas ,Amarnath and to the Chardhams for Swamiji and Chauhanji an old hand had always been its central piece .
Panniker travels itself known to many in India have been a travel agency in Delhi for many decades and have earned a name for reliability and efficiency ,for them Swamijis tours have been more than a business and more of a personal commitment .
Swami Sandeepanada Giri in youthful forties led many of these tours himself going every year even more than once to these holy but difficult terrains and taking many with him,an yeoman service to the many who longed to see such places safely .He is a very positive person full of mirth and fun and always encouraging people to go beyond their limits either in bathing in icy cold turbulent rivers or climbing high above the clouds feats that normally would not be dared at
.I dont think any other group would have this inspiration We also could listen to lectures on our  scriptures in elegant malayalam and also know the significance of every place and its details in our puranas this was mind lifting indeed
All our hardship in the tour melts when we see what we achieved and we are ever grateful to Swamiji for making this possible
now let me come back to our Chauhan ,in his forties Chauhan was a smart guy trim and slim he was full of energy ,climbing mountains was second nature to him as he is a native of the very Uttarkhand the abode of Gods we travelled to ,he knew tons of interesting information about every possible thing .
Chauhan had also been production mgr for many movie and shooting groups including that of Dil Se where he used to organise the hill parts .
We reached Barkhot our base stay from Rishikesh after a drive of more than 10 hours one can hardly paint a word picture of this drive with full justice as it needs to be experienced but still it was glorious and stupendous ,as we climbed u the narrow roads with loose pebbles draining in from the hill sides our tyres skirted nothing ness as our efficient drivers hung to their steering wheels  with concentration bit into  their profiles .
The landscape changed surely but slowly as the pines and deodars appeared and disappeared, terraced fields of golden maize winked at us while brilliantly coloured flowers nodded in the breeze the distant hills were blue and green , some bare and some wooded .Small villages went by with shepherds leading their flocks and chubby red faced children played on the sides. Small shops sold trinkets and eatables and the air was full of nip and cool winds .
we reached the gurgling Yamuna banks and its pebbled stones to walk and take an icy dip
The roads are built and maintained by our Border road Organisation which was like the army itself disciplined and talented they have built some of the best roads in the world .
The river dips in such places are very refreshing one has to be very careful as the current was very fast and one could get carried away in a jiffy as one amongst us a senior Urologist almost did.
 luckily we were many and he was caught in time before he went on a different yatra !

The first dip is always shocking to the system as it feels like an electric shock but then it is bliss as somehow one feels warm and comfortable the river waters come from melting glaciers carrying so many plants and herbs minerals and stones of much medicinal value down and bathing in such rivers somehow makes you feel reborn leave alone the spiritual part of it .
We then went up and up and reached Janakichatti where the road ends .

Janakichatti  was a small town full of shops ,there were lot of ponies waiting to take people up ,Dholies were chairs lifted by four people , there were also  small baskets called Pitthas which were carried on the backs and a person had to sit on it with legs leaning out !
 this was unimaginable specially for an obese person like me .
we opted to climb the hard way

The climb was steep initially and steeper later !
slowly many in the group were up while I trundled along gasping like a fish out of water
my wife was way up as I lagged behind slowly taking my photos and videos resting in small shops having tea and chitchatting with one of my friends Babu who like me was as slow climber .
hours of climbing gave us a far glimpse of a temple roof high up we thought we had reached the place but when we managed to reach that temple it was disappointing to know we still had more than 3 km of climb up and this was just another wayside temple
by the time I reached the top Premila my wife was waiting for me taking snaps of my exhausted climb she had already gone inside  the temple had a wash in the hot springs there and waiting for me to start her climb down !
I went up and into the crowded temple for mother Yamuna
Hinduism celebrates the holy rivers as mother divine .
After all every creation is from divinity including ourselves
So worshipping nature is worshipping God .
The place we as full of priests who lured people for several pujas to me a non believer of rituals the temple itself and its pristine surrounding s and the gurgling Yamuna with its steaming hot springs was soul filling .and I had no need for any pujas .
The limb back after some refreshments was tiring and knee breaking as we needed to put our brakes if we didnt want to tumble down like jill in jack and jill
After more than 3 hours of arduous climb with horses jangling us Dholies creating traffic jams and pittas making us gasp in surprise we reached janakichatti exhausted .
The plan was once filled the buses in our tour numbering three would start and go back to our hotel in Barkhot so that peole who returned early need not wait till  evening for others and can have their well earned rests
 2 buses had already left and the last one was waiting it was 5 pm already and slowly getting dark and colder .

one couple were yet to return .
We had been told that return should be before 6pm as the roads were  dangerous in the dark ,
there was no trace of the couple and Chauhan was anxious
 suddenly he decided to go up and find out ,but as he went up the couple came back in another route and he missed them .
we tried to call him by mobile but there was  no range and so we waited for Chauhan to return as the drivers would not budge without Chauhans saying so .
Now Chauhan was missing !
it became 7pm and Chauhan returned irritated at the whole episode as he had almost gone up to the top in search of the couple fearing many things .
all of us were at our nerves ends as he declared we would go down albiet the risk and we were praying loudly as the bus skirted narrrow corners in pitch darkness
 one single mistake would send us crashing down to wilderness below where we would not even find our remains
with the grace of God we reached Barkhot safely and an anxiously waiting group had a hot dinner and hit our beds for a deep slumber  to continue our yatra the next day
which would be in the next post of course 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nathciketha Thal













 

 

 Uttarkashi is the quaint capital city of Uttaranchal otherwise called Uttarkhand

The char dham circuit of pilgrim centers are ( Yamunotri ,Gangotri ,Kedarnath and Badrinath ) situated in this mountainous  state ,Many here take up the Army as a profession and even  the Chief minister was a retired army General
The Hemkund Sahib a famous Sikh pilgrimage was reached after the famous valley of flowers.

The state is majestic with mighty hills snowcapped peaks pristine forests and roaring rivers ,
Both the river Yamuna and the Ganga originate here .

The Alaknanda ,Baghirathi ,Mandakini and the elusive Sarasvati roar down to form the Ganga of the plains .

This post is about a small trek we took off Uttarkashi town

After our arduous but successful Yamunotri trek we had driven down to Uttarkashi for our well needed rest in sublime surroundings ,

We were a group of tourists led by Swami Sandeepanand Chai Tanya  from Trivandrum

Talking of Swamiji he was in his youthful forties with a great sense of humour he was a good organizer too only then could anyone take more than 80 people of differing age groups and temperaments to these places .

So he thought of this small trek up a forested hill to reach a solitary lake on its top called Natchiketha Thal which means lake.

This was more than 2500 mts a steep climb off a village 29 km from Uttarkashi  town.

The place had great mythological significance and was mentioned in many ancient Puranas ,

Saint Nathciketa was supposed to have inhabited a cave by its side and sat penance for years in its silence.

Nathicketha had asked the lord of death as one of the three wishes granted to him by Yama the secret of immortality and was finally told

 He, who sees all beings in the Self, and the Self in all beings, hates none -- Isha Upanishad

Today too the lake has a sanyasin in a nearby cave living all alone.

It was raining while we started and it was late afternoon, the rain was gentle and the thick canopy of trees were a natural umbrella,the path was wet but not slushy filled with leaves and occasional branches it was soft but the climb was steep at times and made us breathless but the sight of many amongst us who were old walking ahead with the dare of the faithful gave us courage to carry on

The aroma of nature filled our nostrils ,the pleasant smells rising from the blooming flowers the slushy earth and the towering trees  was almost discernible it filled our inner beings with a warmth  difficult to explain

Olfactory sense triggers endorphins in our brains and fills us with deep satisfaction

To capture these exotic smells and bottle it in a cask would be the best perfume in the world

Godrej Aera is one example of such a perfume I think

As we moved on There was a great fallen tree on the way and we had to climb on it and crawl to the the other side

At times the forest cleared to give exotic views of the country below Rhodedendrons and pines grew tall and majestic

Dusk was fast in its coming and by the time we were at the top more than three and half kilometers it was dark

We could hardly see the lake which was said to be full of fish, ignorance was bliss as we jumped into its icy coolness for a quick dip

Some ladies went into the cave of the resident swamiji who courteously came out allowing them to change their dress inside after the bath,one of them leaned against a convenient rock in the darkness of the cave but found it moving slowly she shrieked in surprise to find out she was leaning on the swamijis pet bull who also stayed  inside the cave

We hurried back in batches as it was pitch dark and the way down was treacherous if we missed a step we could go down in a hurry, seven of us were together with one torch and one of our brave heart lead us with a knife in his hand pointing ahead and all the while we thought he had a torch with him later he would laugh and say he had that for moral support

He saved us!




 


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slice from the past Deja vu







 A slice from our past is like Deja Vu .


It happen at times when we remember incidents at times taste of certain food and some places

They say that deep in our subconscious our memory circuits get triggered on these occasions and suddenly we feel we have been there and experienced this some time ago .

On this holiday back home I had a dejavu lasting for a day and more .

The marvels of technology and the efforts of some of my erstwhile schoolmates made a few of us meet together after three decades and then it all came ,all the faces ,the stories ,the tiny things that were shored up and thought as things that would never be unearthed came out with no rust on them .

suddenly we were all back to our Santhome High school in Mylapore Madras ( well this Chennai business came later you see ) ,we talked about all our teachers ,our pranks our jokes our mischiefs like children

we missed the some who had left us unfortunately so early in life and we missed those who werent there



we ate,guffawed reminiced anecedoted and laughed so loud that the waiters of Taj Connemare humbly requested us that other diners werent amused with all the noise but then we shooed tham away with our three decades seperation story

,what did they expect ?

a funeral atmosphere

so we backslapped our day till it lasted

my daughter Sruthi the only special invitee of Gen next was quite amused by our antics and took the photos to be preserved for posterity .

After all this was history in the making you see
























































































A slice from our past is like Deja Vu .



It happen at times when we remember incidents at times taste of certain food and some places



They say that deep in our subconscious our memory circuits get triggered on these occasions and suddenly we feel we have been there and experienced this some time ago .



On this holiday back home I had a dejavu lasting for a day and more .



The marvels of technology and the efforts of some of my erstwhile schoolmates made a few of us meet together after three decades and then it all came ,all the faces ,the stories ,the tiny things that were shored up and thought as things that would never be unearthed came out with no rust on them .



suddenly we were all back to our Santhome High school in Mylapore Madras ( well this Chennai business came later you see ) ,we talked about all our teachers ,our pranks our jokes our mischiefs like children



we missed the some who had left us unfortunately so early in life and we missed those who werent there







we ate,guffawed reminiced anecedoted and laughed so loud that the waiters of Taj Connemare humbly requested us that other diners werent amused with all the noise but then we shooed tham away with our three decades seperation story



,what did they expect ?



a funeral atmosphere



so we backslapped our day till it lasted



my daughter Sruthi the only special invitee of Gen next was quite amused by our antics and took the photos to be preserved for posterity .



After all this was history in the making you see





























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