Table for two


A cool breeze, clouds playing hide and seek with the sun, the sound of waves to one side, and the interiors of a palace on the other, a panoramic view of palaces and havelis and the backdrop of Aravalli hills – perfect, no?

Table for two
The corner tables at Jag Niwas Island Palace, Udaipur

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: What kinds of images and emotions do corners evoke in you?

Photo taken with Motorola Moto G3

Still standing


“What’s that?” I asked our friendly cab driver.

“Oh, that’s nothing. Just some old ruins,” he replied in a laid back tone, that could only be described as Goan.

The Churches of Old Goa are staple tourist fare. And like diligent tourists, we paid a visit to the most famous of them all – the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the adjoining Se Cathedral. Both sites had ingredients one would expect from a medieval church – massive in size, walls engraved, high ceilings housing intricate chandeliers and a presence that makes you speak in whispers, lest anyone else hears. With the sea of humans, though, the churches were reduced to fancy backgrounds for selfie enthusiasts – even with signboards and staff members explicitly asking people not to take pictures with people in them.

Making our way out of Se Cathedral, I noticed a lean brick tower in the distance.

As we made our way around the streets of Old Goa, the tower became taller, and then hid behind some trees.

The cab driver looked in the rear mirror. “There really is nothing there. Just ruins.”

I looked at my fellow travellers hoping for at least one of them to share my eagerness to visit that lonely tower.

After a few minutes the driver asked, “You want to go there? We can make a short stop.”

As soon as we reached, I jumped out of the car with a new friend. With others waiting, our instructions were clear. Go there, take a few pictures and head back as soon as possible!

Up close, the tower revealed itself to be just a fraction of what it must have been a few centuries ago. There was a large open space in front, and a large hall just behind it. At its fullest, it may have been much grander than the more illustrious buildings we had just visited.

‘Ruins of St. Augustine Complex’ read the signboard on one of the large stone bricks. Built in 1602 and abandoned in 1835, this church collapsed within the next few years. The silence of the space seemed to speak about its neglect and the lost grandeur.

Amid the spectacular ruins, not all seemed gloomy, though. A few pillars along the side of the fence spoke of survival even as the rest of the land stood barren.

I longed to spend more time within the hall behind the tower, but felt contented that I had the opportunity to visit. I grabbed my pictures and hurried back to the cab.

Back home, on digging around the web, I came across an interesting story surrounding the Church. In Hunting for a Georgian queen in Goa Srinath Perur writes about a martyred Queen, and the search for a missing relic that continued into the 21st century.

And a bonus bit of trivia – the eerie song, Gumnaam hai koi was filmed at the ruins.

***

In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: what is guaranteed to distract you? What is your “Ooh, shiny!”?

Unacceptable


Sometimes, there are things we may like to do that are completely unacceptable to social norms. And so we avoid it.

For many, that is the way of life – to live someone’s version of life. Sometimes, that someone is a voice within us, fooling us into believing we’re in control.

What happens when you take the plunge and explore the other side of what is unacceptable?

Running away
From opportunities
From challenges
From suffering

Breaking down
Of the heart
Of barriers
Of walls

Streaming tears
Of sorrow
Of melting joy
Of realisation

What if, on closer inspection, what used to appear unacceptable, may in fact, be more acceptable?

Inertia


We’re always told to think before doing anything. If possible, think twice.

But what if we don’t even know what we’re going to do? How does one think about it?

Like when we’re nervous, blurting out words without even knowing what we’re about to say next.

Like the social animal who knows just the right words to strike up a conversation without even knowing you.

Like the high ranking official on a podium who reacts to emerging situations without prior preparation.

We’ve all been in these situations. It happens in speech, as it does with other forms of expression – the artist, musician, actor, and writer within us reaches out by bypassing the neurological highway and surprising us.

Here is one of those moments when my thumbs tapped away without my knowledge:

The world spins around
Nothing makes sense
Inertia worsens this hell.
Leave. Move
Before it’s too late
Or fall into your shell.

They say that the universe has a way of communicating with us. That the world sends messengers to guide us along the way.

Sometimes, the messanger is sitting right inside us.

Payasam for the independent Indian


On 15th of August 1947, the British left India. Atleast that’s what we like to believe.

Consider the following:

At a geopolitical level, we stand fragmented, perhaps permanently disabled, fighting against our neighbours, with whom we share a common heritage.

At an institutional level, we inherited a corrupt bureaucracy that mostly enjoys fat salaries for warming the bench; a political structure that upholds the time honoured divide and rule policy; large organisations that spew communal hatred to further their own interests; and a system of reservation for ‘backward’ castes which is supposed to end discrimination, merit be damned.

Even at an individual level, given that we want to teach kids only English (along with other European languages); dream of an MBA from a foreign university; drool shamelessly at NRIs during family get-togethers for matchmaking; and are obsessed with ‘fair skin’, I wonder, are we really independent?


Meanwhile, yesterday, I made some payasam on occasion of a birthday—of a very interesting person. He is quite dark skinned and born to a community regarded as ‘Other Backward Classes’. He has a luxurious palace, but give him beaten rice and he’ll be absolutely thrilled. He used to steal butter as a kid, but I believe he has outgrown that, what with today’s salted low fat, low sodium stuff on sale.

He didn’t have any fancy MBA, but that didn’t stop him from leading a small group of warriors to victory over a mighty army.

His name is Krishna. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. Oh you have! Quite the ladies’ man, no? Please do take a generous helping of this aval payasam—a delicacy made from beaten rice, milk and jaggery.

Aval Payasam
Happy birthday, Krishna!