Monday, November 27, 2023

Travel Bug - Jaipur Again and Albert Hall Museum

Went to the Albert Hall Museum with NP and Pavan on the off day. This is one of the things I had missed the last time and we wanted to go to MI Road anyway so we headed there. It’s a nice little museum, the state museum, built in 1887 and designed by Samuel Swinton Jacob. Like it was the practice in those days the names of the engineer, architect, even the clerks and mistries are displayed on the stone - not the dignitaries and ministers like today. Also even the cost of building it (some 5 lakh if I remember right). Would be good to see that cost be displayed on projects like these nowadays.

NP outside Albert Hall Museum

The path into and around the museum was guided. We saw the usual collections of textiles, weapons, pottery items, sculptures etc. I was impressed by one stained glass window on top, an Egyptian mummy in the Egyptian section, some paintings about the Ramayana and Mahabharata. 

Stained glass window on top

NP and a huge shield

As we enter the museum there are portraits of the kings and queens of Jaipur. Out into the balmy, mid afternoon sun which is beautiful in these parts.

The Egyptian mummy

 We walked to the Masala Chowk food court a few minutes away. Entry to the chowk is 10 bucks apiece and then you go to the various counters serving chaat, dosa, lassi, etc. There is a nice seating place in the open and in the winter sun it was just heavenly.

In Masala Chowk

Raj Kachori
NP and Pavan got something called raj kachori which was a full meal in itself, then some paani puri, then some kesar chai. Fulfilled, we went back to the cab and headed off to MI road where we could not resist the lassi at lassiwala and then headed down the street vowing not to touch food and drink again. But the sight of India Coffee Shop drew us in and we sat and then ordered a mutton dosa and coffee. It was another experience sitting there in the India Coffee Shop. 

Entrance to the India Coffee House - blast from the past

Inside RK Narayan's world almost

One could sit there for hours discussing stuff if one has the right company. I noticed one lady sitting all by herself, facing the wall, and eating her lunch in peace. Or two old ladies who caught up over a meal. Or old friends. This place has character and history.

Back to the hotel after a good day’s outing. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thought for the Day - Stress and the Gray Area

 Stress exists in the grey areas.

When we are clear about what to do, there is no stress.

Grey areas come when others come with their agendas that are different from yours. They can have their agenda. You need to be clear about yours.

Thought for the Day - Separation and Love

Pain is separation.

Love is union.

- Shams?

Thought for the Day - Attachment and Work

 Attachment comes with a sense of self-righteousness.

The right thing is doing things without attachment, with feeling self-righteous about it.

Thought for the Day - Attachment and Decision Making

 To get your decision making right, get attachment out.

The slightest bit of attachment to the result - any elation or worry you feel about a particular result - will affect the decision making. And when the decision making goes wrong, the result will certainly go wrong.

Take attachment to zero, just see facts and go with the process.

Thought for the Day - The Attachment Test

 To know and test our attachment to anything, check if you can smile and laugh about it. 

Not in a practiced way but in a genuine way. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

All My Rage - Sabaa Tahir

 Two young Pakistani immigrants in America in love, struggling to cope with the racism, the struggle, the cultural differences, their own families - and somehow hanging on for dear life. 'All My Rage' is a thriller in the manner that the smallest of conflicts takes on a huge significance in the course of their lives.

Sal and Noor are childhood sweethearts. Noor is a sweetheart and Sal's mom Misbah loves her to death. Sal is a complex kid, fighting with an alcoholic father, financial burdens and his dear mother's health. Noor is with her uncle who saved her from death but does not want her to go to college. Misbah knows a secret that she cannot tell and only asks for Noor's forgiveness. Sal tries to pay of debt and gets into trouble. And in all this seemingly hopeless space, one wonders if there is hope. Can they find the lives they were meant to live or will they drown and fade away?

'All my Rage' is a fast paced, emotional thriller and takes you on a ride that makes you feel for the two kids and the way they handle their lives. Did someone make  movie of this book yet?  


Monday, November 20, 2023

One Art - Beautiful Poem by Elizabeth Bishop

I read this in parts in 'All My Rage'. I put in some the whole thing here.

One Art

By Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master:

so many things seem filled with the intent 

to be lost that their loss is no disaster

Lose something everyday. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hours badly spent.

The art of losing isn't hard to master


Then practice losing farther, losing  faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant 

to travel. None of these will bring disaster....



-I lost two cities, lovely ones.And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent

I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster...



Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident

the art of losing's not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster. 


Sunday, November 19, 2023

The Forty Rules of Love - Elif Shafak

 The book came highly recommended so I decided to get my copy. It flits between the life of a bored housewife who has fallen into a routine and has no passion or love in her life and the mysterious manuscript that comes to her to edit. As she reads the manuscript she finds meaning for her own life - taking on from the life of Shams of Tabriz and Rumi - and understand how love works.

The rules

How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we.

The path to truth is the labor of the heart, not the head. Make your heart your primary guide. Knowing yourself will lead you to the knowledge of God.

There are four levels of insight. The Outer meaning, the inner level, the inner inner and the fourth so deep that it cannot be put into words and is therefor bound to be indescribable.

It is not the ceremonies and rituals that make a difference, but whether the heart is sufficiently pure or not.

You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly his abode is, there is only one place to look for him - the heart of a true lover.

Whatever happens, no matter how troubling things seem, do not despair. Even wen all doors remain closed god will open a new path for you.Just be thankful for what you have been given and even for what you have been denied.

Patience means being far sighted enough to trust the end result of the process.

For a new self to be born, hardship is necessary. Love can only be perfected in pain.

Don't confuse power-driven, self-centred people with true mentors. A genuine spiritual master will not direct your attention to himself but instead will help you appreciate and admire your inner self. True mentors let the light of god pass through them.

Do not resist the changes that come your way. let life live through you. Do not worry that life is turning upside down - maybe this side is better.

God is busy with the completion of your work, outwardly and inwardly. We are all work in progress striving to be completed, striving to attain perfection.

It's easy to love god. Difficult to love fellow humans with their imperfections and defects. There is no wisdom without love. Unless we learn to love God's creation, we can neither truly love nor know god.

Real filth is the one inside. You can purify your body with abstinence and fasting. Only love will purify your heart.

The whole universe is contained within you. When a person knows himself, he knows god.

If you want to change the way others treat you, first change the way you treat yourself. Unless you learn to love yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved.

Disrespecting differences and imposing your thought on others is tantamount to disrespecting God's creation.

In everything we do it is our hearts that make a difference, not our outer appearances. Keep both eyes closed and open a third eye - the eye that sees that sees the inner realm.       

Intellect and love are made of different material. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing. Love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect says 'beware', love says 'plunge'. A broken heart hides treasures.

Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don't even take words at face value. In the zone of love, language becomes obsolete. And that which cannot be put into word can only be grasped through silence.

Loneliness and solitude are different. Solitude is being alone without feeling lonely. Eventually you must find a person who will be your mirror. Only in another person's heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.        

 Life is but a temporary loan and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of reality. Only children mistake a toy for the real thing. Stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner peace. Be mild and moderate.

It falls upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.

Every time we fall in love we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy or fight someone, we are in hell.

Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. We are all in silent conversation. Do no harm. Practice compassion. Do not gossip. Words do not vanish but are stored perpetually.

One man's pain will hurt us all. One man's joy will make everyone smile.

Whatever you speak will come back to you. When you say nice things about things you don't like - you'll change.

If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and future out and remain within the present moment.

Destiny doe snot mean your life is predetermined. Your destiny is the level where you will play your tune. You might not change your instrument but how you play it is entirely in your hands.     

If you have to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For faith to be rock solid, the heart needs to be soft as a feather. The only way to get closer to the truth is to expand your heart, to encompass humanity.

Nothing should stand between you and god. If you keep breaking people's hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good.

Aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Like like zero. It is the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going - not what we aspire to achieve.

It's not similarities but opposites that take us forward. All opposites are within us.

The world is built on the principle of reciprocity. Nothing will remain unreciprocated.

Its never too late to ask yourself - am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?

Even if a single day in your life is the same, it is a pity. At every breath, renew, renew. There is only one way to be born into a new life - to die before death.

A life without love is of no account. Love has no labels, no divisions, definitions. It is pure and simple. It is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire.

The universe turns differently when fire loves water.


Shams of Tabriz reminds me of Zorba the Greek who seems to be a Sufi at heart. The rules are simple - only love can heal and change. Thanks for the recommendation! 

Rogues and Rajahs - SV Iyer

Dark tales for tumultuous times - and so they are. Interesting insights into palace intrigues of olden days when kings were an insecure and ruthless lot (and quite roguish). When you have the crown on your head its always about survival and fairness, justice and any such judgment in that direction must be viewed from the point of greater good. The stories are interesting, filled with characters we recognise, with a dark side to them.

Like 'The Stonemasons of Suchindram' who cheat the king who commissioned them to work on a temple - and face dire consequences - their desire to be weighed in gold dust drowns them. A young prince escapes a murder attempt to burn him in his palace leaves with a scarred leg - and comes back to annihilate his opposition. Chanakya accidentally poisons the queen and kills her to save the baby - Bindusara - and then dies in penitence. Ashoka ruthlessly killing his brother to gain the throne.

A ruthless Ashoka, known as Chandashoka, hires an executioner to wreak havoc on his behalf - and in the end the same executioner tries to kill him. In 'Gunadhya and the Book of Blood' a king wants to become a learned man in a short time - triggering a war between two learned teachers who differ on how long it takes to transfer knowledge. The one who loses the bet gives up speaking all human languages and learns pishacha language and writes volumes about it. A princess who marries a lion, escapes his prison, only for her son to kill his father. 

Another prince whose atrocities force the king to banish him to Lanka where he sets up a new kingdom with the help of a yakkini. 'Didda and the Crown of Kashmir' - the story of an old matriarch who chooses her heir well - not someone who is prone to quick judgment and emotion but someone who is calm and patient and wins with ease. Twin brothers who fall out when one twin begets a son and the other banishes him - in retaliation he starves himself to kill the king, his twin, knowing that what happens to him will happen to the other.  

S V Iyer's (Sandhya to me) first attempt at fiction is a worthy one. Her use of language is impeccable. I enjoyed the economy of words, using just the right word to explain things. I also was impressed with how she captured the nuances of how royalty speaks, never straight or simple, always couched in flattery or double meaning, which is well brought out in dialogue. Its never easy to capture that as it has to be perfectly nuanced and one must understand human nature and the situation well to convey it right. Nor is it easy to research such stories from the past and write them in a simple, accessible  way. Each one of the stories have that quality where they stick to you - characters, twists, a dark stain, a visual. To me that's the hall mark of a good story and a good story teller. And Sandhya is one.

And I must not forget to mention some fine art work by Anjana Sridharan.      

Sandhya was my editor for two of my books with Jaico - '50 Not Out' and 'This way is easier Dad'. I enjoyed dealing with her as a professional and she is now a friend I stay in touch with. She has this easy way of dealing with you and making it all seem simple. I will always cherish the time I spent with her during the making of the two books. I never had time to meet her apart from work - she is always busy (unlike me) - so when she sent me a message about this book I was thrilled for her. I got the book and quickly read it and it was well worth it. 

Here's wishing you and R&R the best of things to come Sandhya! And for those who are looking for a good story, get your copy of 'Rogues and Rajahs' - you will discover facets of human nature you never knew, some history and about the dark side of power. 

Colleagues - The HS Guys!

 A nice pic! Hopefully we will create something to remember!

NP, Riaz, Jyo, me and Moin

Anjali on a MUN Spree - Over the MUN

 Three MUNs - a special mention, a best reporter and something else! Well done A.

BITS Hyderabad

Pallavi Model School

Goes in!
Returns with these!

Good show A!

A Nice Pic - Me and my Bro Ram

 Topper clicked this. One of the nice pics with Ram in recent times. Thanks Tops.

A World Cup Experience

See a World Cup match. Ticked off.

When Pakistan played Sri Lanka at Hyderabad on October 9 or 10th, we decided to go ad tick off the experience. Funnily I had a soccer World Cup on my mind a while ago but now it seems to have faded into the background. Kushal Mendis was brilliant!


Pak vs Lanka going on

Subbu and his selfie skills!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Hannah and her Sisters - Movie

 I always wanted to see this and finally did. Hannah is married to Elliot who has a crush on her youngest sister Lee who is married/in a relationship with her teacher-painter, a cranky old man. The second sister seems to have had a string of failed relationships and is trying out a career in acting and cooking and all that and is constantly borrowing money from Hannah.

Enter Hannah's ex-husband and father of her four young children Woody Allen who is a hypochondriac who thinks he is dying and realises he is not. Things get more complicated for a bit until they sort themselves out and all is fine that ends fine. Oh, and Woody Allen marries the second sister.

Hollywood to Himalayas - Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati

A brilliant student with straight As' doing her PhD in Stanford makes a trip to India with her husband who is seeking a spiritual guru. They land in Delhi, go to Rishikesh thanks to the Lonely Planet guide (on a whim almost) where she finds the Parmarth Niketan quite by chance. The place beckons her, the Ganga takes away her burden of childhood abuse, and she stays back. This was in the late 1990s. Sadhviji moves from Hollywood where she lived to the Himalayas, a journey of healing and transformation!

Sadhvi meets Pujya Swamiji Chidanand Saraswati, the President of the Parmarth Niketan. founded in 1942 with over a 1000 rooms. The Swamiji makes an exception to her and allows her to stay on in the ashram at a time when women disciples were not the norm. he urges her to seek god, serve humanity and be happy, which she discovers later on in her life are all one and the same. When her husband asks her to return with him, she refuses, lets go of her marriage and a secure life in America to a life in an ashram in India. She says it was her calling, like she found her home.

Sadhvi's experiences are fascinating. The call to the ashram happens to her almost like it was beyond her control. In fact there is a moment when she has to go and meet her husband who lives in a hotel (he is peeved at her growing attraction to the ashram) and finds that she is physically not able to move forward. The only way she can move is backward towards the ashram. Such are the ways when the calling comes. She finds it comfortable to stay at the ashram, meditate, bursts into tears, finds a mother in the Ganga, a spiritual guru in Pujya Swamiji. She devotes her life to service. While at that she travels widely and among her travel experiences that come to mind are her visit to Mansarovar and another to Gaumukh where she bathes in the cold waters of the Ganga. So cold that the water seems to burn her skin.

The changes happen almost naturally. The things she previously liked or were important to her - family, friends, food, drink, parties, career, marriage, movies, music - all become secondary and fall off. The family thinks she has been influenced by a cult which is exploiting her. Her husband divorces her after going into a series of relationships at their separation, she breaks down at the memory of her abuse - and everything she offers to the Ganga. Over time she learns the local language, customs, teachings, and is now a revered spiritual head who represents the Parmarth Niketan, often the only woman spiritual leader at meetings. She has given TED talks, conducts the daily satsang at the Parmarth Niketan ashram (hopefully someday I will attend her satsang also). 

Sadhviji has since authored many books, traveled across the globe, found her purpose (she talks of her desires coming up, of falling in love, of being attracted, of hitting a wall in her daily ritual). She finds that her work is what gives her true happiness, engages in non-stop work in promoting the cause of service to humanity, running NGOs, helping those in need through the Parmarth Niketan, spreading its message across the world through her talks and lectures. She fulfilled her desire to be a mother by adopting a girl child who is now a smart graduate with a nice job. Her family and he ex husband have made peace with her and she has forgiven her biological father who till the end troubles her - her biggest lesson. It is what the Swamiji tells her - give your burden to mother Ganga, stop carrying it like a medal that finally helps her to let go. Their relationship with the Ganga is something else. 

If there is one thing I learned it is that when the calling comes it just draws you in. Grace enters your life, you find ways to seek what is important to you to serve god and humanity.You find happiness, purpose, strength and purpose. Of course you have to be ready for it, but when it comes there is no stopping it. For those who do not get it, their life is the way of service and one must seek god, happiness and serve humanity through that.          

Thursday, November 9, 2023

The Hero With a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell

 Joseph Campbell's 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' pretty much tells through myth, psychoanalysis, religious texts and others the steps in the adventure of the hero. They are:

1. The adventure of the hero

The Call to adventure
Refusal of the call
Supernatural aid
The crossing of the first threshold
The belly of the whale

2. Initiation

The road of trials
The meeting with the goddess
Woman as the temptress
Atonement of the father
The ultimate boon

3. Return

Refusal of the return
The magic flight
Rescue from without
The crossing of the return threshold
Master of the two worlds

Each stage of the hero's journey is explained with myths and stories. Lots more to write about which I will in due course. But for now, a very interesting book indeed. Thanks buddy.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

MAD - Movie

 What a movie! Such breezy fun, relatable characters and most of all my old friend Sangeeth Shobhan finally living up to his immense potential! Its a movie I can watch again - one for driving away the blues.

And on both counts - I cannot say that about many movies!

Waiting to watch it again!

12th Fail - Movie

12th Fail is a heart warming story of a young village boy who gets inspired by an honest Police DSP and wants to become like him. With almost no knowledge of how to become a cop he struggles with single minded devotion and ends up being an IPS Officer. Its a real story of Manoj Kumar Sharma - who also meets his inspiration and chief encourager along the journey! Very enjoyable! Also makes you wonder at the difference a single person can make.


Sunday, November 5, 2023

The Hyderabad Syed Mushtaq Ali Team

 Did a commendable job - the team!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Travel Bug - Sunset at Nahargarh Fort

 Shireen insisted that a sunset at Nahargarh is worth a visit and i decided to head there. Surprisingly NP was game and he even got Pavan to join us. We hired a cab and got dropped off right at the top. I had been here a few days earlier with Jyo so I did not waste too much time going into the palaces etc.

Nahargarh palace

At sunset point cafe

NP and Pavan were not too keen either so we headed straight to the sunset point where for the price of 100 bucks apiece you get a place to sit, enjoy a drink or beverage, and bask in the rays of the setting sun. The for overlooks the city and we got ourselves a nice spot and sat down there and watched as the sun descended. We sat in an open air kind of a place. There was another cafe like place, enclosed, where many others were sitting.

Another view

Old friends

We headed out and in due course Denzil and Muskaan and Lala arrived and they took us to a lonely pace from where we could see the other side of Jaipur, the one where we could see the lake, Man Sarovar, the Jal Mahal, while sipping on our drinks. Now apparently Nahargarh is so called because it is the 'hill of tigers'. Denzil said that it was infested with leopards.

Anyway, we spent a heavenly half hour there under the starry sky and then headed down to the city, to Denzil's house where he had invited us for dinner!

Jal Mahal and the starry sky, a bejewelled city

The sunset at Nahargarh was so worth it!     

Travel Bug - Amer Fort and the Jagat Shiromani Temple

Off day and I could not bear to sit at the hotel when the Amer Fort is so near. NP had decided to chill - he is not much to sightsee or admire stuff. 

Amer fort or Amber fort up there

I asked Krishna if he wanted to join me and he was game so off we went hiring Babu's auto to the Amer Fort. Last I was here was in 2004, just after I quit my job with IDBI.

The large courtyard which has elephants etc

I am glad we took the rick because the entry is terribly narrow and there are a hundred plus cars all lined up in narrow lanes which are somehow managed by the few traffic cops there. Babu dropped off us as near as he could to the fort and we walked up. We entered a huge courtyard with elephants and many tourists, all slightly lost as to what to do. We bought tickets, hired Ramesh as our guide and onwards we went. The fort overlooks a lake - Maota lake. 

Entry into the palace (tickets needed for this!)

First stop was the Shila Devi temple where they say a goat is sacrificed every day. Its beautiful - the temple, not the sacrifice. From there we walked in and saw the Diwan-e-aam, the Diwan-e-Khaas, sheesh mahal which I remember from the last visit, the queen's palaces and the king's palace and the many ways the king designed the palaces so he can keep the 12 queen's guessing and happy. Some secret tunnel that goes to Jaigarh.

View - cars queuing up, the Jagat Shiromani temple behind

The village of Amer and from there I could see the Jagat Shiromani temple which I was told by a devotee, about a Meera temple and worth seeing. We walked all over, saw the Cafe Coffee Day inside, enjoyed the views and returned to the exit. There were several wedding shoot fellows shooting away inside and they get very upset if you enter their frame. We gave Ramesh ji 500 bucks (fee is 400 and he tried to return the 100 but we told him to buy his kids sweets!). Apparently they both study well - one in his degree and the other in school prepping for engineering.

Palace grounds - imposing
Krishna enjoyed the outing. He is a video analyst with the HCA and a very good one at that. For one so young he is quite composed, aware, keeps abreast of news and information and goes way beyond his brief when asked. He is very approachable which is why he is a favorite with everyone, comes back with his responses and information quickly and accurately, is reliable. Much of my work for the selection I run past him especially regarding players statistics and histories and he has a sharp memory for stuff. I gifted him a copy of my book and he was quite happy to receive it. I also told him I would treat him out because of his good work in the past four months and he was quite happy to hear some appreciation.


Diwan-e-aam for the commoners

Ramesh ji clicked this

A nice doorway with some admiring tourists

Poignant - some mirror magic by rameh ji at Sheesh Mahal

The queen's residences I think

Coffee - a lot can happen over coffee

We walked to the Jagat Shiromani temple also known as the Meerabai temple (1599), built by Queen Kanakvati, wife of King Man Singh in memory of their son Jagat Singh. 

Jagat Shiromani temple

Inside the temple - Lord Krishna's idol

The temple has a statue of Lord Krishna which they say was the same statue that Meerabai worshiped in Mewar. We went in, rang the bell, prayed and headed back outside. Quite an experience.

Steps leading up

Then off we went in search of Babu and his auto. Krishna had a meeting so we had to rush back. But Babu wanted to fill in gas in his CNG auto - so he took us to a small house in a slum where one popular fuel man filled in gas from an LPG cylinder!

Babu dropped us off at the hotel. Krishna rushed off to his meeting. NP descended from his room and we headed off for lunch!