WALKING TOURS

Travelling has fascinated me from childhood..

My father imbued in me the habit of going on Morning walks with him .He would wake me up at 5.30am dress me up to accompany him to walk a mile or two to the green pastures on the hill side of the city . Srinagar city encircled by mighty snow capped mountains luxuriant with greens . One is simply enthralled and mesmerized by its natural beauty.

Being early riser my father would make fire in the kangiri – the traditional fire pot made of earthen bowl covered around with wicker .This is mobile heater for residents in Kashmir during winter to keep them warm.

He would bake two eggs for me in the fire of kangiri. I would Peel off the eggs and eat them before embarking on a walking tour.

Srinagar

Srinagar city  with Dal Lake in background

The October morning was just neither cold nor warm but fascinating enough to tempt us for a long walk..

A starry sky without a speck of cloud. The chirping of birds on the tree bough was soothing to the ears.and some of these would flutter over our heads just to say “hello”.

This was a daily morning phenomenon.

I dressed up in thick cotton pajama and put on ‘pheron’ a loose Kashmiri gown made from woolen cloth.

My father, a six footer of heavy build with dusky complexion, dressed up in Tweed long coat buttoned up to his neck, carrying a staff in his right hand beckoned me to follow him . He walked fast with his outstretched strides .It was very difficult for a tiny figure like me to keep pace with his long steps.

But then he would wait intermittently , hold my hand for a comfortable walk.

The walk was long on the tarred avenue with tall poplar trees on either side, presenting a panoramic view.

The chirpy morning was peaceful and I enjoyed loitering here and there without the noise and honking of the vehicles .

Occasionally a Tonga or a car would speed by and the occupants would wave while zipping across the lonely road.

After trudging for a long walk, we halted by the side of a gurgling stream namely DOODH GANGA every day to enjoy the blissful spectacle of day breaking into dawn.

After crossing the Doodah Ganga we descended the big slope into a plain, a huge ground called Chand Mari. Indian Military forces  had occupied Chand Mari as point of security in the city boundaries.

My father went to one of the camps and called ‘‘Hey

Bonwer Singhji Good morning”

“Good morning Sirji” Bonwer singh came out of the camp “how are you my boy “ He continued.

“Very well “ I replied in a low tone

Bonwar singh, a burly Sardarji was Major and in charge of the Security of Chand Mari Military Force. My father struck friendship with him and inadvertently stopped for a cup of tea and a normal gossip .

“ Sirji you had promised that your son will sing a song . I understand he is good singer “ Bonwar Singh asked .

“ yes why not ,my son sings well.” replied my father

“Biju go ahead sing something” ordered my father.

 I sang ‘khoya khoya chand khulla asman ‘ a Bollywood   song .

 ‘wah wah Biju you sing beautiful. There is modulation in your voice and I am sure you will be a good singer “ Bonwar singh said .

I felt myself at the top of the world.

For a week or so we could not come to see Bonwar Singh

And finally one day we did halt outside the Camp in Chand Mari .

“Tussi Kethay ho Singh Sahib “ shouted my father

“Kaun Hai “ A voice enquired .

“Is Bonwar Singhnji there” my father asked politely.

    A tall Sikh Officer came out while tying up his turban.

“ Hello sirji Bonwar Singh ji is transferrd to Ladakh

and now I , Amitabh singh is new Commander here. “

“Oh I see , glad to meet you .Bonwar singh was a bosom friend just stopped to say hello” my father replied shaking hands with the officer.

“do come sir. I am your new friend .what is your name pl.”

“KNK. Principal in a school ,see you officer sometimes later” my father replied ,waving his hand as we moved onwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monsoon showers

With sweltering heat

around every street

We fume fret and strut

with trickling perispiration

down our cheeks.

Sweating sweating

restlessly beyond the

marrow of our bones.

 

In mad rush we

drive down to nearby

Hill station

scale the mountain table top

to

Seek solace and solitude

 

In the lap of the woods

Cool and green

in silvery sheen

we speed across

The dark clouds

engulfing

the whole prospectus

 

With lightening and thunder

To our great wonder

Clouds burst into deluge

Cascades

Of water blinding our

eyes and face

Drenching us to the

barest skin

We struggle scramble

helter skelter

to reach for a safe shelter.

 

Scores of men women

Children dancing in the rains

Like beautiful swans

Enjoying

the monsoon shower

On the mountain table tower

 

It pours pours pours

relentlessly unmindful

of the joys bringing

to the

parched millions

 

cooling and comforting

us to

our immense joys.

 

 

 

 

CHENNAI THE CITY OF DESTINY.

For me and my family Chennai is the city of Destiny.

My daughter Deepali was destined to be settled here in this miraculous city of unknown but blissful souls.

She came here for a brief interlude of IT posting but was destined to get mingled up permanently after marrying with Sathish ,a young IT Exponent of brilliance.

I and my wife came to Chennai on 19TH January 2017 to spend some time with Deepali and possibly to celebrate 6th birthday of our grand daughter Annanya fondly called Zooni.

Jalli Kutta Protest

The journey from Chennai Railway station to home was ardous , intercepted by the Jallikutta protesters ,the young college youth demonstrating for restoring Tamil pride by lifting ban on the Annual Bull Taming sport. The sport is part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.

The words “Jalli “and “Kattu refer to silver or gold coins tied to the horns of Bull.

The Bull is released into the crowd of people who attempt to hold on to the hump of bull till it is tamed to a stop.

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JALLI KUTTA —  BULL TAMING SPORT.

The whole movement was organised by non political activists ,joined by Actors, general public gathering into mass congregation at Marina Beach the heart of the City.

The protesters peacefully conducted themselves and thus forced authorities both at State as well Centre to pass an ordinance to allow the Jallikutta Bull Taming sport across the Tamil Nadu State.

Despite passing Ordinance by the Tamil Nadu State Assembly to end the impasse, some agitators refused to budge from the Beach site on the plea of “permanent legislation “etc.

Ahead of The Republic Day Celebration on 26th January, The police on Monday 23rd Jan tried to clear the area by removing protesters from Marina Beach.

As the protesters were in no mood to disperse ,the police resorted to mild lathi charge.

The protesters in turn resorted to burning a few of vehicles engulfing the city into a violent chaos.

The vehicular traffic came to a grinding halt ,with people facing hardships in reaching their homes.

The political parties described the clampdown as deporable and uncalled for.

Sea Beach Stroll

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NEELANGRAI   SEA BEACH

But all this Jallikuta stir did not dampen our spirits to enjoy the pleasant cool weather of Chennai .

The months of December and January are best to visit this city and enjoy its hospitality.

As we live closer to the sea beach in Kalpleeshwarar Nagar , we took to Casuarani bay route to the sea beach for a stroll in the setting sunset.

The sunset on the sea shore presented a magnificient   panorama to take a deep breath and enjoy the bliss of Nature.

The water was rising in steep tides and thus splashing on to the shore almost touching our feet.

we stretched our legs but not enough to get the joy of gushing waters reaching to our bare knees.

My wife , more adventurous of walking through the seas, nudging me to follow, went a little deeper into the rising and receding waves of waters.

The other evening visitors joined the frolicking game of water sports— lapping up the water on to your knees and kicking it away to the far end.

We enjoyed playing with water for quite a while.

A gusty windy breeze crooning across our faces and body made us to sit up and enjoy the splendid moment.

One would like to spend hours together in such a state of ecstasy.

As Evening was slipping into Night ,we made a retreat to our home .

Kalpleeshwarar Nagar area is a huge Housing complex with magnificient posh houses stretched over long green areas in close vicinity of the Beach.

Birthday Bash

 We noticed Beach Club Restaurant and resolved to have Birthday bash of our grand daughter Zooni in this very restaurant the following Evening.

The birthday of Zooni was celebrated with gaeity

and glory .

Zooni , looked awesome in the red frilled frock, bedecked with small sliver crown .

The long dark hair combed down her shoulders like a cascade . She was queen of the day.

The guests assembled in the open lawn of the Beach club restaurant facing the swimming pool.

The tables were laid in a row facing the sea .

A gorgeous look ahead the sea where waves were lapping up to the shore in concordance of rhythm of a musical instrument.

Zooni’s friends Vishnu, Anvita,Shivani , Gokul , Aahan Ira,and Suhani were smartly dressed ,fully agog with the party mood.

‘” Hey Zooni , congrats “ hollered Anvita getting down from the red car carrying a nicely packed gift in her right hand.

“Hai Anvita ,” Zooni embraced and attended to other friends waiting for the birthday bash.

“ Iam going to cut the cake ,”Zooni declared with an air of authority.

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GUESTS   SINGING HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO  ZOONI

The Cake was put on the table in the  middle  of the sprawling lawn and all children gathered to sing the song ‘Happy birthday to Zooni — “ while Zooni cut the cake gleefully.

The children made a riot of cake color on their faces and ate the delicious pieces with great ferver.

The mild windy weather was nauseating and much enjoyable to the music of the band that sang songs,Bollywood and local ones to the rhythmic tune.

All guests swayed their bodies to soulful music and gleefully enjoyed the moment of pleasure and tranquility.

Zooni was a little upset to hear that Krish and Zitni , our grand children could not participate .Shyamji ,and daughter chikli explained they did not take risk of travelling from Bangalore due to disturbance in the city.

Zooni spoke on phone consoling both krish and Zitni “when you come next we will have one more party . I promise,” she spoke confidently.

The menu was specially ordered to the choices of the guests and included delicious dishes ,both Veg and Non veg.

The Service and food was excellent , guests enjoyed the dinner to their fill.

The mothers busy keeping a tab on the children to prevent any unpleasant naughty prank that could spoil the upbeat mood.

Luckily all went well.

The evening was splendid one.

 

TRAVELS WITH FAMILY

Travelling is normally a passion with me but travelling with family is not only exciting but pleasurable adventure as well.

The impetus for undergoing this joyful journey was my sister–in-law Bitty and her, elegantly dressed husband, Shahji , who visited us for a brief holiday in Pune.

Retired newly from Bank’s thirty five odd years’ job dredgery Bitty was more exciting for a visit to Mahableshwar and implied upon her choice with finality.

The other ones who joined the group were my Brother –in – law Roopji ,his flamboyant wife Girija ,glamorous young Bunty, my sister’s daughter , his handsome husband Sunilji and his revered father, Ratanlal Daftariji.. The group swelled to a large one with  my darling wife Sharika,charismatic daughter Neha and smarty Shiva.Last but not the least Tomboyish Ankit dotting over his grandpa as a special caretaker.

Sunilji and dear Bunty were chosen trip leaders to propel the journey with full gusto. The couple is ardent road traveller who fully understand the nuances very well.

On the D-day we started at 8am hoping we could traverse the distance in about 2/3 hrs maximum .We started off in two cars with Shah ji and Sunilji at the driving seats fully charged to move ahead.

Morning breeze was chilly but later in the day the sun made a merciless laugh as we drove on towards the alluring Sahdhyari Ghats .The grandeur of these mountaneous region is spell bound .The sight of massive traffic dampened our soaring spirits to some extent .“oh my God what is this” said Shahji ,struggling to keep the car moving at the low speed.“I never knew the road is so curvy, bumpy and having such a steep ascend.” He said “I would have not opted to drive”He continued. “Never mind sirji all will be ok” I replied jokingly knowing for sure the going was tough.

I could see an odd number of over hundred cars halting on to the sides cooling off the engines ,hoping against hope we could pull through without much ado.

A sea of cars were going on the curvy zig zag road of the Ghat at a snails pace .It appeared whole of Pune and Bombay had descended on these roads to make a beeline for the coveted hill station –Mahableshwar.

A spectacle of human heads , with big individual bunch of beauties , sauntering on the Ghat roads to have a glimpse of traffic woes while waiting for their vehicles to cool off , was now a constant sight.We realized it could take much more hours before we could reach the chosen destination.

As Shahji was struggling to drive on , jamming ,banging the gears ,I could see a pall of smoke emitting from the bonnet side and advised to keep the car on to the side of the road He parked safely and we jumped out to see some untenable did not happen.

Sunil Sir ,our expert captain after checking the car , confirmed that all was fine ”just to wait to cool off the engine”he reaffirmed .

Just to break the stillness of the tense moment I jocularly pointed out “ Hi Bitty your glowing cheeks and gorgeous complexion do not suggest you  are more than thirty years” “how come you have been retired. Check your credentials .”I continued. She guffawed . I shifted my attention to the young christmatic couple Neha and her smarty Shivas .”Hey Neha looking very upbeat with your Chubby.” “ enjoying the moment “ she replied nonchalantly nimbling at some cookies .

The  wistful saga finally ended we just started off with new resolve to beat the race.

We did reach Maple Garden for a much deserved break , but did not stop but decided to have lunch at Venna Lake ,a more beautiful spot to relax.

We finally could reach out for a covered place ,a look like ‘Baladari’ at Venna Lake and had finally our homely cooked sumptuous lunch .

A time to relax and enjoy the picturesque lake surrounded by thick forests with velvet green mountainous background.

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VENNA  LAKE   WITH BOATS  READY FOR THE TRIP.

Venna Lake is popular holiday honey moon resort . A spot for boating sport .

A lot of boats are anchored and tourists take rounds of the lake after hiring boats as per passenger capacity.

Venna Lake’s shimmering water is crytal clean and falls at the ht of 600ft from Lingmalla Falls.

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FAMILY  GATHERING AT  MAHABLESHWAR

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FAMILY  ENJOYING  A SUMPTUOUS LUNCH

Mahableshwar nearly 120kms from pune , a city of 12,762 population is conglomerate of three villages—Malcolm peth ,Old Khestra, and Shindola village.

Mahableshwar is source of Krishna river that flows across Maharashtra,Telengana and Andhra.

Most of tourists come here to see lord Shivas Temple

Called Krishna Bhai Temple, where river Krishna is worshipped.

The Temple has Shiva Lingam and beautiful statue of Krishna -a small stream flowing from the mouth of cow (goumukh) .

There are other attractions for tourists as well.

Wilson point is 1.5 kms away from the Mahableshwar city . Named after Lesia Wilson who was Governor of Bombay Province from1923 to 1926,

This Point is at the ht of 1439 meters. Here one can see both sunrise and sunset a spectacle of myriad scenes.of sensual ecstasy.

We tried  to see the Shiva temple but the traffic jam could not take us there . It was dusk already and we decide to take return journey as there was no choice or chance to stay overnight. A brief  stopover at Maple Garden for sandwich session was refreshing.

The Return journey  was smooth and  more relaxing.We passed through the great Satara Tunnel and moved at a faster speed to overcome the fatigue.

With tired looks finally reached respective homes for more relaxing weekend leaving behind  memorable adventurous outing to recount for .