“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’.
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).
After spending three nights in Florence it was time to move on. We packed and checked out, keeping our luggage in the hotel. We walked towards Palazzo Vecchio (Piazza della Signoria) – city square adorned with fine arts. Basically, Florence is full of timeless beauty which can keep you captivated. Close to this square is Uffizi which we reached by 8:30 AM for our visit. Uffizi’s structure is like a long rectangle; it is not very big in structure like other top European museums. Famous paintings by Leonardo, Dante, Michelangelo & Boticelli are a sight not to be missed; a true Mecca for art lovers.
Around mid-day we were back to hotel; picked our luggage and headed to train station for next destination – Venice. Venice is only three hours away from Florence by train. An unusual city built on small islands and traversed by some 100 criss-cross canals.
Reaching Venice first thing we bought 2 day-pass for Public Transport. Don’t be surprise the only way to transit in this man made city is by boat or water-taxi. We stayed at Lido across sea and there are plenty of ferries connecting St. Marco Square and Lido. On reaching hotel, to my surprise for the first time someone knew my birthplace as mentioned in passport. The manager on duty was a Bangladeshi who took refuge in my home town during 1974 war. He is been leaving in this romantic capital for a long time. After a while we departed immediately towards St. Mark’s Square which is quite lively with tourists enjoying drinks and duel orchestra. It’s the place where you can notice increase in level of tide water which shows sign of sinking Venice.
Venice is the place where one can get lost in endless mazes of backstreets, deserted squares and mysterious alleyways leading off from the city. We walked carelessly around there and explored few narrow lanes near by.
Cost of dinner in the city of romance is very expensive if you are looking for fresh local sea-food. We opted for a crowded simple pizzeria. Taste of the pizza was awful; disgusted with same as we were discussing between ourselves when a mother and her teenage daughter joined from next table. They were from New Zealand on their winter vacation. It was a nice and long conversation with them as they were supposed to go to Florence from Venice.
We took some night mode picture of empty St. Marco square with our new tripod before returning to Lido.
With all said and done I found Venice like a big Disney land. There are only two kinds of people; either tourist or related to tourism. May be there is a vibrant and young Venice somewhere which we missed to figure out. In Rome, Milan or Florence we never had the same experience as there we saw local young people going to school or college or just hanging out in one of the piazza.