Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Equal Music...

And into that Gate they shall enter,
And in that House they shall Dwell,
Where there shall be no Cloud nor Sun,
No Noise nor Silence, but one Equal Music,

No Fears nor Hopes, but one Equal Possession,
No Foes nor Friends, but one Equal Communion and Identity,
No Ends nor Beginning, but one Equal Eternity...
From the book 'An Equal Music' by Vikram Seth
The poem is written by John Donne

I Do Not Know How the Old Parsi Land Lady of Marine Lines, Ms Emy Mistry is doing these days... Or Whether She is at all alive... I lost touch with her... the above poem I found in the closet of the room where I was stuffed in as a Paying Guest for a little over  a month's troubled stay in Bombay in 2011 where I had gone for a job with IRCTC which didn't last long. The Poem was inspiring so I kept it without asking anyone. Because it was lying there unattended and I was sure it would have gone down the drains in some time...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Wandering Days - A Saturday Visit to The Elephanta Island

My Lonely Days in the city of Mumbai is taking me to places of interest that has potentials of refreshing my mind and soul which i am in some serious need of...

Tough days since i landed here... struggling to meet my expenses in this expensive city and also a feeling of being exiled far away from my home and loved ones which i never wanted to, have had some depressing effects on my mind and body...

Nevertheless... My Passion for Travelling places drove me to visit the Gharapuri Island, 11 kms into the Arabian Sea yesterday...

This part of the world has been experiencing heavy torrential rains for the last couple of days and hence i was quite skeptical whether the ferries which are actually very ordinary motor boats operating from the Apollo Bunder next to the Gateway of India to the Elephanta Island, would be available since the wild sea often creates risks of fatal accidents thus suspending trips to Elephanta in the monsoons here in Bombay...

Since i had to find some activity to spend the weekend fruitfully, took a chance, moved out of office at around 2 pm, took a cab from CST station to The Gateway of India at Colaba... and was happy to see travel agent representatives loudly calling out to attract tourists interested to travel to Elephanta... I skipped my lunch for the day gladly as the trip across the sea to the Island was far more exciting to me than anything else... To & Fro Ferry tickets costed 130 bucks.. got them at once... had quick bites at a Vada Paw to extinguish hunger for a while... and proceeded to alight the boat, passing by a mighty statue of Swami Vivekananda which was erected to commemorate His historical journey to the west from Bombay in May 1893...

The Ferry started off slowly passing by Cargo Ships and Oil rigs which are densely scattered around the area and the Mumbai Coastline with Skyscrapers could be seen at a distance slowly moving far from us... A distance of 11 kms east of the Gateway of India, took approximately an hour and finally we reached at the Gharapuri or Elephanta Island which is a rocky island covered with dense forest growth...

A Concrete Pathway stretched into the sea lead me to the entrance of the caves.. There are Toy Train services also that drops one off to the area where from a few steep steps will lead one to the main cave Number One dedicated to Lord Shiva...

The island is 2.4 km in length with two hills that rise to a height of about 500 feet. A deep ravine cuts through the heart of the island from north to south. On the west, the hill rises gently from the sea and stretches east across the ravine and rises gradually to the extreme east to a height of 568 feet. This hill is known as the Stupa hill. Forest growth with clusters of mango, tamarind, and karanj trees cover the hills with scattered palm trees. Rice fields are seen in the valley. The fore shore is made up of sand and mud with mangrove bushes on the fringe. Landing quays sit near three small hamlets known as Set Bunder in the north-west, Mora Bunder in the northeast, and Gharapuri or Raj Bunder in the south.

The two hills of the island, the western and the eastern, have five rock-cut caves in the western part and a brick stupa on the eastern hill on its top composed of two caves with few rock-cut cisterns. One of the caves on the eastern hill is unfinished. It is a protected island with a buffer zone according to a Notification issued in 1985, which also includes “a prohibited area” that stretches 1 kilometer from the shoreline.

I could well realize that i was having a failing health after coming to Bombay as i panted badly as i reached the cave though the steep steps!! One thing which i noticed with a lot of humiliation is that the entry fees for this World Heritage Site maintained by ASI was Ten bucks for Indians and Two Fifty Bucks for foreigners... there were many foreigners around and it was indeed a shame and does discourage foreign tourists to a good extent... such disparity should at once be stopped and myself being a Tourism professional really felt ashamed at this as i have never experienced this in any country i have visited so far...

It was time to explore the main cave now... The main cave, also called the Shiva cave, Cave 1, or the Great Cave, is 89 ft square in plan with a hall (Mandapa). At the entrance are four doors, with three open porticoes and an aisle at the back. Pillars, six in each row, divide the hall into a series of smaller chambers. The roof of the hall has concealed beams supported by stone columns joined together by capitals. The cave entrance is aligned with the north-south axis, unusual for a Shiva shrine (normally east-west). The northern entrance to the cave, which has 1,000 steep steps, is flanked by two panels of Shiva dated to the Gupta. The left panel depicts Yogishwara (The Lord of Yoga) and the right shows Nataraja (Shiva as the Lord of Dance). The central Shiva shrine is a free-standing square cell with four entrances, located in the right section of the main hall. Smaller shrines are located at the east and west ends of the caves. The eastern sanctuary serves as a ceremonial entrance.

Each wall has large carvings of Shiva, each more than 16 ft in height. The central Shiva relief Trimurti is located on the south wall and is flanked by Ardhanarisvara (a half-man, half-woman representation of Shiva) on its left and Gangadhara to its right, which denotes river Ganges's descent from Shiva's matted locks. Other carvings related to the legend of Shiva are also seen in the main hall at strategic locations in exclusive cubicles; these include Kalyanasundaramurti, depicting Shiva’s marriage to the goddess Parvati,Andhakasuravadamurti or Andhakasuramardana, the slaying of the demon Andhaka by Shiva, Shiva-Parvati on Mount Kailash (the abode of Shiva), and Ravananugraha, depicting the demon-king Ravana shaking Kailash.

The main cave blends Chalukyan architectural features such as massive figures of the divinities, guardians, and square pillars with custom capitals with Gupta artistic characteristics, like the depiction of mountains and clouds and female hairstyles.
The Elephanta caves are "of unknown date and attribution". Art historians have dated the caves in the range of late 5th to late 8th century AD. Archaeological excavations have unearthed a few Kshatrapa coins dated to 4th century AD. The known history is traced only to the defeat of Mauryan rulers of Konkan by the Badami Chalukyas emperor Pulakeshi II (609–642) in a naval battle, in 635 AD. Elephanta was then called Puri or Purika, and served as the capital of the Konkan Mauryas. Some historians attribute the caves to the Konkan Mauryas, dating them to the mid 6th century, though others refute this claim saying a relatively small kingdom like the Konkan Mauryas could not undertake "an almost superhuman excavation effort," which was needed to carve the rock temples from solid rock and could not have the skilled labor to produce such "high quality" sculpture.

As it had been raining for the last few days, water constantly flowed down the hills and even dripped through the age old ceilings of the caves the rocks outside being covered with moss and fern...

I came out of the main Cave... had a round through the other four caves in the area... Nature was at its best here... Green Forestry... Deep Grey sea... cloudy skies... a monkey sat on the railings all by itself enjoying the moist weather and gave me a feeling as if it was also experiencing the same loneliness that i have been facing here in Bombay!!

I too sat there for a while gazing at the sea across the green mountains while Tagore's composition... Ami phirbona re phirbona aar phirbona re... came to my mind... hummed its folk tune until i realized that it was getting late and i had to return as the last ferry would leave by 5.30 pm...

On the way back... it started to rain again heavily and seemed as if the ferry will be misdirected by the strong winds and heavy drops of rain... God was the only savior if that would happen... Thankfully reached the shores and my adventurous Saturday afternoon trip ended on a good note... back to the congested room shared by two other guys to rest for the day... God is Great...

Information about Elephanta has been gathered from Wikipedia. Photographs by author.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life in a Metro...

God has been very Kind to me.... I am Happy with the experiences i have faced in my Life so far... Good or Bad... Am in Bombay presently...

The Other day i had the opportunity to visit the Gateway of India across the Taj Mahal Hotel, Stood there for a while and wondered the ill fated date in November 2008 when a terrible Terrorist attack shook the hotel along with the entire nation... Memories of those smoke emissions from the Towers... did bring a cold shudder to me...

I am passing a Lonely Phase Here... Last Sunday was Rath yatra... Had my bath early and left for the ISCON Temple in Juhu, Mumbai... Very Nice Devotional Arati of the Lord Shri Krishna with chantings of Hare Krishna from Devotees... Felt Happy and at peace...

Next wandering destination was RKM Khar... and also the Marine Drive...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Some Notes Noted Down While in the Skies

12th March 2330 HRS IST: In the Skies Now... Left Shanghai some five hours ago... Another one & half Hours to Reach Delhi. Took another flight from Beijing prior to taking this connecting flight from Shanghai... Sleepy People around me... Had the rarest opportunity of visiting and climbing on the Great Wall of China, historic man made structure, from the Juyongguang Pass, some 60 odd Kms from the capital city of Beijing... A memorable moment to cherish for this lifetime... Blessed is the Vernacular Teacher in my school days back home who named me THE GREAT WALL when i was in the 8th std taking my large physical build into consideration :-). Who would have known except the Almighty then that i shall have the opportunity to stand on this Great structure on earth sometime...

Ni Hao! (Hello How are you in Mandarin)... Our Chinese Guide Alice told us many interesting stories about the days of the construction of the Great Wall... How the Common Men were forced by the Emperors to go to the Hills to manually build the Wall in those days... This great structure on earth just to protect the Chinese from the Mongolian intruders had taken such lives of many common men who were forced to go and work with extreme hardships to build it. One such incident goes where a young man was forced to go to the Hills to build the Wall immediately after his marriage leaving behind his newly wed wife. Unable to bear the extreme hardship, the man succumbed to death within a few days time. His wife back home, driven by extreme grief of separation, decided to walk down all the way from her village to the wall to inquire about her husband and was shocked with grief to hear about his death. Spellbound with such a news, she hurled curses and decided to commit suicide there itself. This reminded me of the talked about incidents following the construction of the Taj Mahal where it is said that the right hand thumbs of the workers who were involved in building it, were cut off just to ensure that they do not build something similar to it in future. Just keeps me wondering whether every so called Greatnesses or visibly excellent efforts do necessarily require ugly brutality behind them.

Beijing, the Cultural and Political cum administrative capital of the Peoples Republic of China had many historic sites to present for a viewing. The visit to the historic Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City where China's historical significance has been showcased for a long time was a great place to be. The weather was quite chilly and pleasant and Shanghai's shopping spree along with visits to Nanjing Road, Crusing on the River Huang Phu and the Jade Buddha Temple was quite amazing as well...

Delhi nears us... To gear up for a connecting flight to Kolkata. Mom's cooked food awaits me home afterall...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Royal Treat at Jaipur, Rajasthan

The Royal Rajasthani Capital City of Jaipur was a great place of visit for the last couple of days. The desire to explore this great Rajputana increased many folds while getting to have a little glimpse during this visit for a professional purpose.

The traditional & ethnic culture proudly put up in the 5 star resort property of Chokhi Dhani appealed greatly especially the village fair ground which got alive every evening with Rajasthani colours and flavours.

The glimpses of the older city streets, the forts on top of the Aravalli hillocks, the Hawa Mahal, the City Palace & Jantar Mantar took back to ancient history. The museum inside the city palace housing artillery, wardrobe etc of the Rajput rulers gave a great taste of the warrior clan that dwelt there.

Watching India win the Cricket World Cup sitting in the open lawn of Chokhi Dhani with Large TV Screen giving the flavours of watching it in a stadium, was amazing especially with a group of young enthusiastic fans, loads of cheer, Indian flags, Fireworks and DJ etc... Three Cheers for my Motherland... Hip Hip Hoorray!... Hip Hip Hoorray!!... Hip Hip Hoorray!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Conscience, the soft whispers of the God in man

Life of my life, i shall ever try to keep my body pure, knowing that thy living touch is upon all my limbs.

I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from my thoughts, knowing that thou art that truth whhich has kindled the light of reason in my mind. i shall ever try to drive all evils away from my heart and keep my love in flower, knowing that thou hast thy seat in the inmost shrine of my heart. And it shall be my endeavor to reveal thee in my actions, knowing it is thy power gives me strength to act.


O my mind, let us go Home -

Why do you Roam?

The Earth, that Foreign Land

And Wear its Alien Garb?

These senses, these elements

Are strangers; none is your Own...

Why do you forget Yourself

Falling in love with Strangers?

O my mind, why do you

Forget your Own...

Beyond the bounds of life and death,
There thou stand, Oh! my friend.
Beyond the bounds of life and death,
In the forlorn azure of my bosom
Thy resplendent throne deck in light fulsome.
Betwixt the abysmal chasm of my desires,
Beneath the floating veil of joy and delectation
I look at thee spellbound with my arms wide open.

Thy secluded darkness in its nocturnal trod,
spread the world with beatific obscurity,
Thy secluded darkness in its nocturnal trod,
spread the world with beatific obscurity,
what mystic tune of thee pour from thy lyre!
Swelling the blue realm with deep desires.
The earth melts in thy enigmatic accord,
Losing itself in the pain thy harmony.

'What is to be done when on certain occasions we cannot avoid being in
the company of bad people? You should not show contempt or
indifference.Be wide-awake and raise a strong mental barrier within
you.Protect yourself with an inner shield.Do vigorous self-analysis
and try to keep out the bad impressions before they gain permanent
lodgement within.A true spiritual aspirant always discriminates.It is
a habit with him.You should always be in a mood to rush towards
God.Follow the example of the baby kangaroo.When the baby kangaroo
senses danger it jumps into it's mother's pouch and is off.So also we
must learn to run into the arms of the Divine whenever there is
-Swami Yatiswaranandaji( Meditation and Spiritual Life)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Journey of Life... Some Notes Which i Felt Were Worth Noting Down...

The Date was 27th January in the year 2009. My First International Tour to South East Asian Countries of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore was coming to an end with a four day stay at Singapore. Was an absolute fresher then, never even seen an aircraft from close distance before. Job attributes demanded me to escort a group of thirty odd Bengali Middle Class householders for a Holiday Trip to the above mentioned destinations. Was a smooth affair thankfully! My Final Day's stay at Singapore. The evening was free for the Group to be at leisure and for personal activities. Hence myself being the Tour Manager was also having some time to spare for myself in the evening. So i reached the Bus/ Taxi Stop area in front of Mustafa Shopping Centre at Little India and Hopped in to a Taxi asking the Driver gentleman to take me to Bartley Road where a wonderful ashrama of the Ramakrishna Mission is situated. It was a Dream for me to experience how wonderfully my Beloved Thakur was worshipped at a foreign land by foreign devotees.

Nevertheless, the pony tailed Singaporean Driver Nodded his Head and started off his taxi towards the destination i had intimated to him about and after a drive of around 20 minutes, brought me to a place and stopped the taxi in front of a road which read "Battery Road". I Was startled to see that especially in a distant land all alone with not much money in my hand at that point of time and also it was getting dark at dusk. Very Humbly i told the driver Look This is not my destination but it was Bartley Road! To My Happy Surprise, the Driver at Once accepted that it was misheard and that had something to do with the difference of our accents. He at once stopped the Taxi Meter which read something around 7 Singaporean Dollars, drove all the way back to the same place where i had got into the Cab From, and started the Meter freshly from that point to take me to the place i actually desired to be in! I was overwhelmed to experience how they behaved and co-operated and although i did not have much money with me, handed some extra coins to him in appreciation. This small incident will be remembered by me for a long while as i never experienced this in my own country before rather there are chances of being harassed and robbed off quite easily in such circumstances.