Shiv Jayanti


“Shiv jayanti” should not be confused with Shivratri (Night of lord Shiva)- marked with devotion to one of most powerful lord in Hindu mythology. While Shiv jayanti (Birthday) is celebration of birth anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj who ruled Maratha region in 17th century fighting against powerful Mughal Empire of North-India. He was named Shiva, after the local Goddess Shivai, to whom his mother Jijabai had prayed for a son.

According to English calendar, birthday of Shivaji is on February 19th. But ShivSena, the main political party of regional party in Maharashtra celebrates the same according to Indian astronomical dates. In Mumbai, you can’t miss this day which is celebrated with its colors and festivity. A colorful procession with lezims (a traditional musical instrument) is taken around the city. The main gathering happens at Shivaji Park of Dadar in the evening. You will find saffron triangular flags fluttering everywhere from train station to cabs on this day.
But there are some down side of this celebration to common people. If you have to travel around Dadar or need to cross the central part of this maximum city be prepared for a evening crawl. On the main roads as soon as you see on your rear-view mirror a big speeding SUV with flags you need to give right of way. The priority to this kind of vehicle is more than any emergency vehicle; it also signals ‘do not dare to touch me or stop me’ to law enforcement officials. With recent split of ShivSena this time there were cars from both parties to show their power and dedication to Shivaji Maharaj. Not sure if Shivaji would have appreciating the same. This is one of these celebrations which have been hijacked by political parties to show who rules the city - ‘Asli Bhai Kaun Hai’.

Bhat Suar


Every time I visit my in-laws and see one of these “Bhat Suar” (three-wheeler cart) on the road it brings back memories of my college days. Durg(in-law’s place) and Bhopal(college day) were part of same state 6 years back; although politically divided they are very similar to an outsider like me on social and geographical terms.
First part of the name comes from the sound they make “Bhat-Bhat” and second part “suar which means pig”. The design varies from state to state and its mechanism is very simple and rigid for extreme conditions. Maintenance is simple - all you need to open the hood and fix it- no complicated electronics; only big mechanical parts.
Before coming to Bhopal I have never seen these big yellow tempos (tutuk). Sometime they are the de-facto public transport in central India. Since in these areas, public bus service is inadequate or nil and a small auto for single person is expensive; They are very popular as they are engineered to accommodate around 12-15 people. Memories of these bones rattlers on uncomfortable pothole filled roads will remain for long time. The conductor will always try to squeeze another passenger chanting- "Khasko bhai khasko" (convince to make more room). "Ab kahaan khaskein" ("Now, where do I shift?")would be the apt reply.

Geography - mismatch


For any fifth grader Mumbai is located in Western part of India if asked north or south answer will be south. So how can there be a church of North India which is located in posh south Mumbai in a stone throw distance from famous Flora Fountain? You may wonder - in the world of bharat-todo (Break India by new politicians) how all bhaia's(people from North India Bihar and Uttarpradesh - speaking Hindi) suddenly built a church for themselves. Well, few centuries back when western missionaries just started coming to India they came first to Kerala the very south-west tip of Indian map. And from that part of Mumbai was very much north. This just demonstrate how relative human direction was at that time. Let's make our heart big enough to welcome every one as they are without any prejudice :)

My Best Picture


Aarush has crossed 6 weeks mark now and till recent time there was no picture of him with me. Well, there was no specific reason for the same. Normally, when I leave for work he is sleeping and in the evening it is dark and we are against using flash while taking pictures of Aarush. That leave only weekend but recent weekends were very hectic and I was away to Bangalore and the stories goes on...
So one fine morning just before leaving for work we had photo session; and according to me it came out best - special thanks goes to Pamela for capturing this magical moment. Now I have to click some picture of Mama and son ;)

Hebbal Lake


Last weekend I was in Bangalore and was checking progress on construction site. Well will this be a view if we move there; but as at work things are not yet crystal clear for the upcoming move. It is a nice view to have from kitchen they say a happy person always makes a happy meal. With new Bangalore airport going to be operational in next month this side of town is going to see lots of traffic and that is going to add more worries for already worried Bangaloreans. Only hope government takes proper steps for speedy execution of new promised public transport. But with current progress card it is still 6-7 years away.

SMS received

As I said before I went to hospital on d-day with my Laptop and all cables needed for announcing the arrival of Aarush. Few starring eyes caught me in action when I did fired-up SMS from my laptop. There was no way I could have managed sending all SMS(es) by phone only. So, I had to send SMS in batches : one to my professional contacts, other to extended family and rest to Pamela's contact list. It was very smooth experience with MyPhoneExplorer.
Here are all the congrats SMS we received
I am a big fan and advocate of Open Software who gets his morning coffee reading Slashdot but normally I did not have great experience with all the free software that I use daily. I highly recommend MyPhoneExplorer if you are using any Sony Ericsson phone except the symbian-based phones (P-series, M600, W950).

Free Theme

I just found out d-atmosphere.com is holding a competition where they are offering a free wordpress theme called WP Remix. It’s a very nice theme with loads of features.

The rule is simple - just write about the competition in your blog and post your link back in the comments on the contest page.

The winner will be announced on March 1st.

Indian Inglish


The biggest asset of 21st century modern India is its big chunk of young educated Indian who can speak decent English. There is lot of buzz and business happening in India as there are numerous outsourcing operations.
But on the ground we speak very different English with borrowed words from Indian regional languages that do find their way into our writing, advertisements and newspapers, TV spots and shows from north to south or east to west.
For example, in south it is very common to end a sentence with “no” – ‘You’re going, no.’ which might be a question or asking re-assurance from the other end.
  • Use of yaar, abey, arey in an English conversation between Indians, mainly by people of native Hindi-speaking origin.
  • Use of the word ki to mean, that such as in "What I mean is ki we should follow that sign.”
  • Use of word "wallah" to denote occupation like taxi-wallah, grocery-wallah.
  • Use of word maane (Bengali) , Yani (Urdu) and matlab (Hindi/Urdu) is quite common "meaning" ("What I mean is...").
  • Use of accha! to express positive emotions as in "Accha, so that's your plan" Or chal (Hindi for the verb "walk") to mean "Ok" like in "Chal, I gotta go now".

  • They have got so much incorporated in our day today life that we hardly notice. Even you might find certain spelling unique in Indian English to attract or just out of ignorance. I think this sign falls on the second category. What is your pick?
    But I personally think Indian English is much more globally understood and acceptable than any other British colonies. And I strongly believe we should not colorize our English; and do every effort to keep it close to its root rather than making it pigeon language.

    An announcement


    This announcement was long due on our blog. Though this breaking news was shared on d-day instantly with friends and families from Hospital via SMS and emails. I specifically carried my camera, laptop and wireless data card for the same.
    I created two announcement cards one in pink and other in blue with two names (for girl and boy) and kept them ready. We never disclosed this big-news in last few months in our blog in-fact it was kept secret to many except close family members and few friends. Promise to update blog with those tense and waiting events as those eight and half month passed by. Frequent readers of our blog might got a hunch that there was no travelogue in recent time.
    Right now life is bit busy with as we try to master ourselves in art of wrapping (buritto) and changing nappies. I do not see myself awake in front of computer late in night for coming few months.
    Just uploaded few pictures of Aarush, as he just completed 11 days today.

    Berlin Diary- Potsdam



    Today sun and clouds chase each other across the skies along the shores of Berlin as it glides past. We decided to visit Potsdam city situated on southwest of Berlin known for Sanssouci (without worries) palace; reached there by train.
    As we were short of time having our return ticket to Paris same evening we opted for sight-seeing guided tour bus available right outside the train station. So along with other tourists we visited new palace, old town hall, Fortunaportal and Nikolaikirche at Alter Markt, Schloss Cecilienhof, Potsdam’s Brandenburg gate, Dutch colony, Russian colony Alexandrowka providing flair of a city steeped in European tradition. Last but not least Sanssouci palace where we left guided tour-bus as it was last stop for them. We spent quite a time in Sanssouci garden – terraced vineyard on southern side. From where we walked down to railway station.
    On returning we found even Berlin had a sunny day; without wasting time we hoped again to bus no. 100 to take shots of historical sights with blue sky. Then had late lunch and returned to hotel to collect luggage; after bit of relaxing Santanu had beer at cheapest price (compared to Paris) at home to country’s largest brewers.

    Berlin Diary II

    CheckPoint Charlie

    Freshened up to kick start our day and decided to go through past of Germany. Took metro and got off at Potsdamer platz. Had coffee at Starbucks just outside the metro exit as it was too cold.

    From here we walked to Checkpoint Charlie - a crossing point between East and West Germany during the Cold War and Berlin Wall Memorial. The scenes blur as present dissolves into the past. Images flash through our mind of 1989 when news flashed with headlines of demolition of Berlin wall. The wall no longer divides east and west instead the city straddles past and future.

    As this is close to Friedrichstrasse known for upmarket shopping area like Lafayette; strolled there on our return towards metro station of postdamer platz we visited Helmut john’s Sony centre - skyline is a mixture of buildings marked by WWII shrapnel and glass-steel giants - a symbol of new Berlin office-cum–shopping centre.

    In Berlin, the past is everywhere like Gendarmenmarkt - a classical square in Berlin whose name dates back when city was occupied by Napoleon. This square is bordered by two cathedrals - the French Cathedral and German Cathedral with Konzerthaus (Concert Hall) - home of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra between the two cathedrals.

    Then we visited darling of berlin - bust of Nefertiti which was adorned at the Exhibition Hall of Kulturforum (culture forum - This museum often houses temporary exhibitions during which the permanent collection is usually not on display) near to Potsdamer Platz as Egyptian museum was closed.

    On way to Brandenburg we went to see Siegessäule (Victory Column) close to Tiergarten which stands in centre where five roads meet.

    east-sidewall

    After having late light meal, we once again set off to see the past which expresses the euphoria and great hopes for a better future for all people of the world. This city’s divider was also the world’s longest canvas that stretched for miles covered with graffiti painted on east side - open air Gallery close to station Ostbahnhof.

    Came back to Zoologischer Garten took some night mode shots of Kaiser Wilhelm church and after all sight seeing it was time to eat; had awesome Portuguese dinner at one small restaurant nearby and then headed towards our hotel.

    Berlin Diary

    Today while leafing through the pages of our album found yet another trip waiting to be jotted down before it gets erased from our memory. A trip to Berlin where present and past are in sync once again.

    We went there for 3days- 2 nights stay by train on Easter weekend when sky was gloomy and mercury dropped to almost freezing point but didn’t deter our enthu to explore city as much possible. We took overnight train from Paris which reached at very early hours. We bought metro (u – Bahn) day pass tickets before going to our pre-booked Novotel hotel.

    Beutiful decorated Mosaic Tile

    After taking our room key we left to meet Berliners, no longer East or West Berliners but just Berliners. Had a takeaway breakfast on a way from one of the bakery shop at metro station and got off at Zoologischer Garten Bahnhof to visit Kudamm. It is here that the KaDeWe the largest departmental store in all of continental Europe stands. If you don't have a lot of time to browse the whole store at least pay a visit to the top floor which is Mecca for foodies. We also checked both BMW and Mercedes showrooms where you find designer items other than car designed by those famous engineering and designer with perfections.

    We walked to Berlin’s famous landmark Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche rebuild itself but not at the cost of wiping its past. The ruins of Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church stand as reminder of the suffering of the war, right next to its hexagonal bell tower very much building of the present. The church is a reinforced concrete structure with blue-colored glass bricks while Memorial hall has still some of the mosaic decoration that survived the bombing.

    From here we hopped onto double-decker bus line no 100 famous among tourists as it crosses most of historic Berlin.

    Tip: Sit at top as it's easier to get a view of most top sights like Reichstag, as well as the many other historic buildings on Unter den Linden.

    Marienkirche

    Got down at Alexanderplatz to see Berlin’s 365 metre high TV tower. Next to the TV tower is located the gothic Marienkirche, the second oldest church (built in late 13th century) of the historical centre of Berlin. It is close to river spree and surrounded by few notable buildings with red-brick roof and right across the street was Starbucks – had coffee there. I do not drink coffee but those chilly winds outside we took shelters few times where Santanu tried to give quick dégustation class on coffee. From here we walked to Berlin Cathedral built between 1895 and 1905. We even climbed to the top of dome to take panoramic view. It faces the Lustgarten (pleasure garden) and the Berliner Stadtschloss (berlin city palace). Lustgarten is a park on Museum Island. It houses Altes museum (old museum) which we visited later.

    Reichstag - German Parliament

    It was dusk when we were waiting in a long queue to visit Reichstag - German parliament near the Brandenburg gate building with large glass dome and access to top with a great view of Berlin. Although free entrance but extensive security check and at same time its worth visiting.

    Then, we went to see Germany’s iconic landmark Brandenburg Gate at historical center and nucleus of former East Berlin district Mitte. This is where it’s all happening. It’s numéro one place to be seen and to see. Cafes, bars restaurants, theatres, designer shops selling everything from shoes to scarves; day or night places along with many other sites of historic interest are teeming with people. It is new hangout for young and restless. In the very heart of Berlin is a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe which we didn’t visited as it was already dark.

    We at Bradenborg Gate

    Lastly, went to house of world culture centre for non European art whose floor was superbly decorated… no doubt. Had dinner at one of Chinese restaurant near Zoologischer Garten and left for our hotel.

    Milan shopping - trip came to end

    Time to say Ciao, a presto (bye, see u soon) to Venice!!! Although we knew it might never be soon again. With happy mood we left for Milan from where we started our memorable journey. We boarded Euro-star for which we had to make advance reservation. Indisputably it was the best train we boarded in last seven days. On reaching Milan kept our luggage in lock room and set off to explore the business city as well fashion center of Italy.



    Starting with Milan’s cathedral, the city’s centerpiece and third-largest church in Europe is worth visiting. Next to Cathedral Square “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele” – Milan’s great four-story-high, glass-domed arcade- place to shop for rich and famous. Milan’s famous opera house was closed for renovation. We skipped Leonardo’s “Last-supper” and his bronze horse which he never built.


    We had pasta at lunch in small store which was really ambrosial - no doubt. Late afternoon, wandered through big brand stores for clothes and ultimately I bought one wrist watch for myself as souvenir which cost me dear.




    Galleria Vittorio Emanuele


    Early evening, we headed towards a restaurant recommended by guide book in the business district which was very deserted being Sunday. Unexpectedly, we found the place and it was big restaurant with white table cloths. We were received with great affection and hospitality by owners which we can never forget. Service was excellent along with food. We started with Pasta and had fish as second serving oh! That was big fish as they served us; Pamela missed all those bones and head as they took away that trolley (as she is a big human cat who loves to chew bones be it fish or chicken). Well, slowly clock was ticking off giving us a reminder to say Ciao to Italy. Train to Paris came from Venice and we had a good night sleep after a long strenuous day.



    Epilogue: Writing travelogue after 3 years was not easy. Had to refer various web site to get the details right. But the only person made it finish is Pamela as she wrote each pages and I just added few lines here and there. Yes, its worth remembering those eight days. This was great to immerse oneself with recollections of those lazy afternoon or vigorous morning for sure as I know I am not going to have this kind of break soon in my present life.