What my ego taught me


Picture any coming-of-age movie with bratty teenagers making life miserable for their teacher. That was math class in my school. 

My math teacher in senior high school was a brilliant teacher. Gentle, patient, knowledgeable, and effortlessly simplified complex concepts for those of us who were terrible in mathematics. His only flaw, was that he was a Tamilian, with a dark complexion, and a very thick accent. For a majority of my classmates, he was great fodder for bullying. They openly mocked his accent, and laughed in class. There weren’t any repercussions on their education — they had tuitions after school to make up for that.

Being a fellow Tamilian, I could understand his frustration. And that motivated me to be that one person in class that he could call a student. The other teachers were treated with more respect (or perhaps, fear), but student disinterest in studies, was blatantly clear.

In college, the atmosphere was completely opposite. Unlike school, the students had their independence. And the teachers — highly accomplished academics — were indifferent to them. Students didn’t dare disturb classes. But if they were disinterested, they’d just leave. Here too, private tuitions were the safety net.

In both my school and college, I stubbornly refused to take these supplementary classes. Some of the reasons included: my firm belief that extra tuitions were for ‘dumbos’ who couldn’t study on their own; my stubbornness in sticking to that judgement even as the ‘intelligent’ ones folded in; and my unwillingness in spending exorbitant amounts in fees when the same (sometimes better) education was already being paid for (that too at a subsidised rate).

It was these beliefs, that pushed me to ask questions in class, to seek clarifications on things I struggled to grasp. At first, I felt stupid. But my egotistical self that refused outside help, gave me no choice. Between feeling publicly stupid, and privately admitting I needed help, apparently, I preferred the former.

And so I asked questions. Even as I felt I was being stupid.


It was after one Accounts class in school. One of my classmates came up to me to seek clarification on a topic that had been introduced that day. I had asked the same question in class, just moments earlier.

It was then, that I realised, that by asking questions, I wasn’t being stupid. I was asking the questions everyone wanted to ask, but for some reason didn’t.


Ego, stubbornness, being judgemental, aren’t traits I, or anyone, would be proud of. By no means am I advocating it. These very traits have hurt me very badly. In the years since, I have tried to let go of my ego — it’s a work-in-progress, and I think I have made a fair amount of progress.

I have learnt that there is no shame in asking for help. It is wrong to label people as ‘dumb’. And it is naive (even, dangerous) to judge people based on my unfounded notions.

But for compelling me learn to teach myself, and brazenly ask questions in uncomfortable environments — abilities that have helped me immensely in my work as a user experience designer — I am thankful to that adolescent, egotistical, judgemental self.

A whole new world


(Continued from “We’ll draw a green thumb”)

I watched my father-in-law poke a few holes into the bag with the screwdriver. He left it in the corner, and turned around to find me in a happy daze.

Here I was fretting about the lack of an actual ground. ‘One can’t possibly compost without a hole in the ground,’ I thought to myself. And there he was, coolly collecting all the kitchen waste into a plastic bag to make a compost bag in our tiny apartment balcony.

After my in-laws returned to their home, we continued to add kitchen waste to this make-shift compost bag, excited about harvesting compost.

But something wasn’t quite right.

For starters, it smelt bad. Very, very bad.

And it was super soggy – dripping brown smelly liquid wherever we kept it.

And then there were the maggots. Lots of them.

I was sure that I wanted to compost waste, and was determined to do so. But was it to be as yucky as this? Neither of us had any idea. And so we shot the question out into the electrical void – the internet.

The internet informed us what was going wrong. The short answer: our compost was out of ‘balance’ and had too much moisture*.

To solve our immediate composting crisis, we added shredded newspaper, and left the bag slightly open, in the furthest corner of our balcony. Next step: we decided to get a proper composter.

Fast-forward a couple of months, and we welcomed our Kambha.

The Kambha is a terracotta composter made by a Bengaluru based NGO, Daily Dump. There really isn’t much to it: three earthen pots with holes on the sides. While the top two had a rope mesh at the bottom, the third one was closed at the bottom. They stacked up neatly. I marvelled at the simplicity of its design.

We watched the instructional video and transferred our (now utterly disgusting) waste and added some of the ‘remix’ material supplied by the organisation. The ‘remix’ material and the terracotta absorbed the excess moisture, and within a couple of days the compost stopped smelling.

As I learnt soon enough, the compost pile is as much a living organism as you and me. Needing a well balanced diet, breathing in oxygen, and exhaling carbon dioxide. And if it is malnourished or there is something wrong with its digestion, it emits a foul smell.

As for the maggots, they stopped bothering me. The composter was now a self enclosed eco-system. The compost pile was its earth. And a host of creatures grazed on its lands. With the plastic bag out of the way, the air around the compost became more breathable, and the fruit flies joined the maggots. Soon the land sprung shoots of large fungi, and even a sapling here and there. And the fungus gnats appeared. The maggots slowly reduced in number, as the competition for food grew. And then came the spiders – the top of the food chain, preying upon the insects.

All the while the kitchen waste continued to reduce. What was first green, yellow and purple slowly turned a rich, dark brown colour, and it smelt sweet – like Mother Nature.


* The long answer comes in a separate post!

The girl and the Cherry Tree


Minha stood in front of me. Surrounded by her parents, and standing close to her baby brother’s pram, she waited in anticipation for the writer who had written her favourite story. In her arms was a colourful hard-bound book, eagerly waiting for Mussourie’s most famous resident to sign it for her. She held it close to her, as if she wanted to hug every word within its pages.

She wasn’t alone.

When we arrived at the book shop, an hour ahead of scheduled time, the queue was already 15 people long. It was the Saturday before Easter, and the hill-town was brimming with tourists from all over the country, and the world.

“We were planning to return to Delhi by 10 this morning,” said Minha’s mother. “But this little one was quite insistent upon meeting Ruskin Bond. And so, here we are.”

“If we wouldn’t have lingered on at the restaurant for the second parantha, we’d have been at the beginning of the queue,” Minha’s father playfully teased her.

“Minha read this story, The Cherry Tree. And in it, she read that Ruskin Bond lives in Mussourie. She’s been wanting to meet him ever since.”

Ruskin Bond planted his Cherry Tree several decades ago. As it grew, it delighted him. He shared his delight with his readers, and they loved every word of it. His words delighted me. And they continue to delight young readers like Minha.

In that little girl standing in front of me, I saw a reflection of myself. I must have been about her age too, when I harboured the dream of meeting Mr. Bond, because of those lines in every book I read, “He now lives with his adopted family in Landour, Mussourie.”

But my reflection ended at precisely 3:30 pm, just as a vehicle pulled up beside us. Even as Minha’s mother excitedly pulled out her phone to snap a close-up picture of the writer now amidst us, I stood dumbstruck.

He waved and acknowledged his fans and then disappeared into the bookshop. Minha had the biggest smile on her face, as she peered into her mother’s phone. Her mother, in turn looked at me with excitement, and then exclaimed, “Oh come on! Don’t cry, yaar!”

Tears rolling down my cheeks, I tried to hide my face from the young girl. “Keep it together, there’s a little girl in front of you – what will she think,” I repeatedly told myself. Minha smiled innocently, but something told me she wasn’t judging me. And I silently thanked her for it.

Within a few short minutes, my twenty-year old wait ended.

“I remember this… It’s one of the earlier covers.”

In Mr. Bond’s hands was my favourite book – which had been in our house ever since I can remember.

For over twenty years, it has been my dream to meet Mr. Ruskin Bond, to tell him how much his writing has meant to me; how I read and reread the stories in the book “The night train at Deoli”.

And yet, when the time came to express my sheer joy and excitement at meeting my hero, I struggled to contain my tears. I simultaneously smiled and choked. Eventually I stammered the words, “this book is as old as I am.”

Mr. Bond held the book; my book; my family’s book; his book. He recognised the old cover and said, “You have preserved it well.”

After he had signed the book, I meekly placed the other old book I had brought with me: The Children’s Omnibus. It was one of the first books I asked my parents to buy for me, when I was about 10 years old. And I remember the sequence of events surrounding that purchase: the Scholastic mail order form, choosing the books, the anticipation, and receiving the books in class.

Mr. Bond pointed to his portrait on the yellowing cover of the book and said, “I was much slimmer then!” And then we burst out laughing. I felt a little bit at ease. 

There was a long queue of fans waiting to get their turn. I couldn’t hog his time for long. Mr. Bond returned the signed books and said, “I can’t initial or write messages…” I would like to believe he wanted to write me a comforting message. I’ll never know.

That night I cried my heart out. And continue to cry every time I think about it – even now. I cannot explain these fits of crying – except perhaps as an indication of immeasurable joy, that is too much to comprehend without being overwhelmed.

But I also wonder, are these tears of regret? The things I wish I had spoken about – how much I adored his stories; how much his style of writing influenced me; how, like him, I loved nature, and walking, and collecting feathers and stones and coins and seashells… instead I stammered and stuttered.

Today, as Mr. Bond turns eighty five years young, he is launching yet another book. The whole town will, no doubt, be there to wish him. I wonder, if I were there today, would I be able express my gratitude to him? Highly unlikely.

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"I remember this… It's one of the earlier covers." In Mr. Bond's hands was my favourite book – which had been in our house ever since I can remember. For over twenty years, it has been my dream to meet Mr. Ruskin Bond, to tell him how much his writing has meant to me; how I read and reread the stories in the book "The night train at Deoli". And yet, when the time came to express my sheer joy and excitement at meeting my hero, I struggled to contain my tears. I choked and barely managed to stammer the words, "this book is as old as I am." Mr. Bond held the book; my book; my family's book; his book. He recognised the old cover and said, "You have preserved it well." After he had signed the book, I meekly placed the other old book I had brought with me: The Children's Omnibus. It was one of the first books I asked my parents to buy for me, when I was about 10 years. And I remember the sequence of events surrounding that purchase: the Scholastic mail order form, choosing the books, the anticipation, and receiving the books in class. Mr. Bond pointed to his portrait on the yellowing cover of the book and said, "I was much slimmer then!" And we burst out laughing. I wished to spend more time. But being a long weekend, there was a long queue of fans waiting to get their turn. As if reading my mind, Mr. Bond handed me the books and said, "I can't initial or write messages…" It's true, as our dreams come true, more ambitious ones appear. For now though, these memories are overwhelming. It's been over two weeks and I am still processing what happened on the 20th of April. That night I cried my heart out. And continue to cry everytime I think about it: Joy beyond measure, that is hard for us mortals to comprehend without being overwhelmed. Thank you @cambridgebookdepot for making it possible to meet #ruskinbond And @chitraakriti : for being there for me, enduring over 40 hours of sleep deprivation #fan #writer #author #stories #story #emotions #dreamcometrue #mussourie #travel #india #pilgrimage #booksigning #love

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The Silk Trap


“Mommy, mommy!” The little bug ran towards her mother.

“I’m not going foraging!” she cried.

“Budku! What have you told Chitkoo now?”

Budku chuckled to himself and flew swiftly away from his mother.

“Mommy! Budku says there are spiders out there! And they chase gnats into their silk traps! Is it true?”

Mommy bug let out a deep sigh. Budku had always been mischievous. But this time, he had been partially right.

“Come here, sweetie… don’t think too much about it… It’s too early to be thinking about foraging.”

Chitkoo hugged her mother and calmed down.

Mommy bug glared at Budku as he peeped from behind the fungus, even as she kept Chitkoo close to her. There were spiders, yes. But Chitkoo was in deeper danger at home than out there. Just yesterday she had spotted a web close to their home. It was Budku’s first day learning to fly, and he’d had quite the adventure.

“Out there, is a wonderland, my dear.” Mommy bug said softly.

“In a few days you’ll be ready to start flying on your own. And it will be fun. There are peels of fruits and vegetables all over the ground. And there are fungi. So many different types than the ones near our home. And there are seeds too. They are much harder to forage, but they are the ones that have the most goodness – the reward is worth the effort.”

“Yeah, and there are fruit flies,” added Budku. Mommy bug’s glare had had its effect. Budku changed his tone.

“They’re just the cutest – brown and round, floating slowly. You’ll really get along very well with them.”

“What about spiders?” Chitkoo asked, without looking around.

Mommy bug sighed. “Yes, dear. There are spiders,” she replied.

“But they are fewer than us gnats and flies. And they can’t fly. No! They crawl and spin webs, but we have wings and we can fly. Budku was chased by one today. And he was so scared. But he flew away. And you will learn to navigate the alleys.”

Mommy bug didn’t dare tell Chitkoo about how close Budku was to being spider-meal. But Chitkoo would have to fend for herself. Spiders weren’t the only threat.

Chitkoo looked up and caught her mother’s glare. She turned around to see her brother sitting next to the fungus. He loved fungus, and was always nibbling at it. But today he just sat there, too scared of his mother to even look at the white goodie.

Above the ground, the other gnats and flies were busy going about their foraging, when the heavens above opened up. “Giant alert! Giant alert!”

Bright light filled the the sky, and it began raining. The gnats and flies flew, as far apart as they could. The spiders ran for their lives. The giants were notorious for squishing the spiders, purely for game, it seemed. They sure didn’t eat the spiders.

It was all over in a few minutes. As it always did. The rains were always heavy, and buried the slower flies and gnats. But once the sky closed back, it was a feast. A fresh pile of food, and the spiders away for some time.

To be continued.

Cover image by Atul. (@chitraakriti)

“We’ll draw a green thumb”


“Why can’t I have green fingers?” I asked my unsuspecting friend, one day.

“It seems everything I plant just refuses to grow. Everyone in my family has green thumbs. Why am I not able to grow even the easiest of plants?”

“Oh, is that all?” said my friend. “Don’t worry. One day, you and I will sit together and draw a big green thumb!”

I eventually married my reassuring friend. And sure enough, we began growing a few plants, most of which survived! One of my wishes had been fulfilled. But in my heart, I knew there was only one way my garden could be complete. If only we had a real garden.


A real garden, to me, was what my grandmother had at their house on the outskirts of Chennai – a lawn in the front, with three hibiscus trees, a car shed with a guava tree as a roof. Papaya on one side of the house, bananas on the other. The mango and lemon trees were in the backyard. There was even a pineapple plant, and two coconut palms – my father had brought coconut sprouts all the way from the Andaman Islands. There were numerous flowering plants and cacti too.

Almost every time that we’d visit, we’d carry a pineapple, mango, coconut or some lemons back home. Once, I saw my grandfather climb up a tall stool to harvest a bunch of bananas, while I stood nervously on the ground praying for his safety.

Having lived in apartments all my life, I had made peace with the fact that we probably wouldn’t be able to have that sort of an area for growing plants. But the one thing that completed the garden, was a compost pile.

At a very early age, we were initiated into composting by my grandmother. There was always a separate bin for kitchen waste, which she’d dump into the pit in the backyard, near the fence.

Back home, my mother did what she could, to use the kitchen waste for the flowerpots – the coffee grounds and tea leaves almost always ended up going to the flowerpots in the balcony. And that was the closest, I thought, that we could get to reusing kitchen waste. Up until recently, that is.


“What are you doing?” I asked my father-in-law. He looked mischievously at me, and picked up the screw driver from the kitchen.

My father-in-law, I found out soon after I got married, loved plants. Our garden was minuscule compared to his large terrace garden. And when he first saw the small take-out containers I had re-purposed into planters, he remarked. “They need a bigger area to grow roots! These are too small!”

Perhaps he saw potential in the garden, or recognised our shared love for plants – he quickly warmed up to the idea of a small garden. He procured a few more plants and helped grow the garden – even helping me repurpose more food containers!

It wasn’t unusual for him to tinker around with the plants. But on this particular day, he busied himself with something new.

I followed him to our tiny balcony.

“I am making compost,” he declared.

Read part 2: A whole new world

You made my day!

Footsteps in sand

As I make my way to the main road outside our home, I take a quick look at my watch.

Quarter to eight.

Dang! No time to walk.

It’s a Saturday morning. I should be lazing under the fan, pressing snooze on my alarm for the fifteenth time. But no time for wishful thinking.

There’s an auto rickshaw on the other side of the road. There’s not much traffic. I cross over as quickly as possible.

“Metro station!”

The driver nods and we don’t speak a word till he’s reached the station. Thoughts of the big day ahead, how ill prepared I feel, and the pressure I had been under for the past two weeks begin to overwhelm me.

I mumble a robotic thank you as the driver returns the change.

At the station entrance, I dump my bag on the x-ray machine and nervously glance at the train timings.

My sandals are slippery. I skid my way to the frisking area.

The lady with the metal detector looks at me and throws me off guard.

“Ma’am!” She squeals with delight.

“You are looking so amazing!” Her smile is big and genuine.

For an instant, my mind goes blank.

Oh my! Thank you so much! That is so very nice of you! You know, I was under so much stress. And I feel so much more relaxed now. You just made my day…

That’s what I want to say. I want to go on and on and pour my heart out to her.

But my throat is dry. I just about manage to blurt out a thank you, and a rehearsed “how are you?”

For what I lack in words, I try to make up by returning her wide infectious smile.

She says she is is fine, and I rush to collect my belongings.

I run down the stairs, as fast as my sandals allow. But I am late. The train doors close and it leaves the platform.

Sigh! Missed by a whisker.

The next train is 5 minutes away. I sit on the bench, take out my phone and stare at the smiling reflection on the black screen.

* * *

In the mad world where we are constantly running, racing against a faster, invisible opponent, towards an infinite goal, when was the last time someone smiled at you while doing their job?

More importantly, when was the last time you smiled for yourself?

Who made your day in the recent past? Whose day did you make?

Serene


This isn’t the first time that a Chennai beach forms the setting for a post. And it probably won’t be the last. And every time I have written about the waves, it has always been with fondness, and serenity.

This week’s photo challenge, Serene comes at the most appropriate time. It has been a month of blogging madness—and a deeply fulfilling creative extravaganza. It’s perhaps most fitting, that NaBloPoMo culminates in that experience, which it perhaps the closest to me.

I wrote previously about the rather sad state of the Marina beach in Chennai. The Elliot’s beach, more popularly called the Besant Nagar beach, fortunately, does not share the same fate, and is my favourite place to visit early in the morning for relaxing—especially during Margazhi.

Besant Nagar Beach
A quiet stretch of sun, sand, and the sea, next to Arupadai Veedu Murugan Temple, Besant Nagar


Photo taken with a Moto G3, edited with Befunky.


This is the 30th, and last post of this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano. Tomorrow, I won’t have the pressure of posting something. A chance to put my blogging feet up for a while, take a short break, and try to put myself back into a more sane routine.

Throughout this month, on most days I had absolutely no clue what I would post about, often till the moment I began typing. And every time, I surprised myself. I almost didn’t participate, because I am still recovering from the health crisis I put myself into last year. But it has been an absolutely amazing journey, and you, my friends, have been the best part of this journey. To each and every one of you, who has read, liked, rated, shared and commented, thank you.

A happy reader makes it all worthwhile.


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Read more posts about Chennai (hint: it mostly revolves around the sea)

Behind the sounds


Entering the bar, the small stage was straight up ahead—the drums, electric guitars, the tabla, all set up, lit beautifully. The mikes stood straight, the huge speakers on either side waiting for the music to flow through them.

The few seats on the left were exclusively for patrons; the bartenders were on the right.

9:40 pm.

“The show should begin at 10,” Vikram tells me. “I guess we’re waiting for more folks to turn up. We’ve sold 150 tickets!”

Standing at the back of the bar, just beside the entrance, Vikram is busy fine tuning the settings on the mixer. He’s a seasoned professional—I find out that he’s been with Indian Ocean for a while now, and he’s also worked with Euphoria.

“So, these gadgets interest you?”

“Well, yes. I do find them rather fascinating.”

“These are digital ones, the sound isn’t as great as analog. You know, like how digital doesn’t match up with film.”

“Digital? But where’s the touch screen? I see all these physical sliders”

He hit a button to the left of the console, and all the sliders danced their way into different positions.

Oh.

We continue to talk about our digital society, and how it has impacted the way we work, the way we live. And then we get back to the music. We look towards the stage. The crowd had swelled up a little. “The view may be good there, but the sound isn’t going to be as good. That zone there, in the center, that’s the worst place to be. You won’t hear the beat at all!”

So what was the best place to be?

“‘Round here along the gates!”

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Coming up INDIAN OCEAN live!

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10:30 pm

The band members finally take the stage, and we step away to let Vikram do what he does best.

We cheer and hoot along with the crowd. Some voices request the popular songs. “Bande!” “Kandisa!”

Deeply engrossed in the music, some in the audience sway around with their eyes closed, oblivious to other people’s gaze. And some others, sway with eyes wide open, a drink in one hand, and a hookah in the other, pretty much oblivious to their own selves.

We stay at the back just as Vikram had told us; but only after the first song. We wanted to feel the difference in sound for ourselves, and stood in front for a while, before moving to the back.

11:30 pm

After playing their lesser known songs, the band finally gives in to the requests of “Bande!” And the audience suddenly grows larger.

The first request fulfilled, the crowd insists on Kandisa. The musicians tease the crowd. A few more songs, and the crowd grows restless. Two men, who had had more music than they could handle begin singing Kandisa by themselves.

12:15 am

The first few notes play, and we dance along to the tunes of “Ma Rewa”. The band and the crowd play together—a jugalbandi with a difference. And then the final song of the night. The crowd has now swelled to its fullest strength. This is what they’d been waiting for all night. “Kandisa Alahaye, Kandisa Esana…” the crowd’s voice drowns out the singers’. The strings and the classical vocals fill up the hall, and we sway and sing along too, with one eye set on the watch, the other out to avoid those who had transcended into a different zone altogether.

We give out a loud cheer and clap for the musicians out in the front, and equally for the supporting team standing at the back, who stood sane and still, concentrating on making sure the sounds were just right.

As we make our exit into the cold morning, out of the corner of my eye, I catch Vikram giving a high five to his assistant. All in a night’s work.

Behind the music
Vikram with his muse


This is post #29 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging


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The mocking mural


Have you ever felt like the universe is sending out messages to you? I ask because that’s what I’ve felt lately. Take for instance, this chain of events that have taken place over the past two days.

Yesterday, quite by accident, I came across a TED talk by Manoush Zomorodi, in which she explains the connection between boredom, or ‘spacing out’ and creativity. She conducted a challenge with her radio listeners, and asked them to switch off connectivity, and actually experience boredom. As she continued explaining, one of the things that struck to me was this:

Some of them (the people who took the challenge) told me that they didn’t recognize some of the emotions that they felt during challenge week, because, if you think about it, if you have never known life without connectivity, you may never have experienced boredom.

Watching the video, I couldn’t help feel smug. After all, I belong to the generation that grew up without affordable & accessible connectivity. I was also a very very reluctant social media user—mostly because of privacy concerns (I signed up for Instagram only last week!) I thought to myself, ‘we’d always find ways to remove the boredom from our lives through creative pursuits. What a pity, the youngsters of today have no idea what it was like, without phones and apps!’

In reality though, I was in denial. Over the past two days, Atul had chided me for looking at the phone constantly, checking my notifications, and not realising that there was tons of work to be done. (I’ve heard very similar rants from my parents too!) Okay, so maybe I was a bit caught up with this month-long challenge. “It’ll be different after November,” I had protested.

Today, I visited my Alma mater, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, and saw these beautiful murals outside the cafeteria. As has been the case for quite some time, my friend Ankita and I took out our phones to take pictures.

Murals at Shaheed Bhagat Singh College
Fascinating and beautifully detailed murals by the students of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College

“So, are you going to post these to Facebook?” I asked her. “Oh, it’s not me, it’s you who’s going to be posting it!” she replied with a hint of mischief.

And that did it. With this chain of events coming together, the full effect of my denial towards my phone addiction, stood mocking at me.

Here’s a closer look at what I saw.

What was most ironical, was that my smug attitude about my immunity to social media addiction was clearly illustrated by the very generation of students whom I had pitied just yesterday.

I believe in signs, and when so many clues point in the same direction, it’s definitely a sign.

Here’s the full video of the TED Talk:

(If you’d rather read than watch, visit the TED transcript here)


This is post #25 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging


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The haveli next door


Lal ghat is perhaps the most tourist-y area of Udaipur, filled with havelis-turned hotels. Most of the hotels and cafes in the areas now boast of roof-top dining, and we explored as many as we could. One particular one, though, stood out. Jaiwana haveli was highly rated on Trip Advisor, and we headed straight there after our visit to the Monsoon Palace.

“Is the roof-top cafe open?” I asked at the reception. “Yes, it is! And if you’d like to use the washroom, then it’s on the ground floor—there isn’t any upstairs!” The man at the reception smiled and answered. We thanked him and then climbed up the narrow and steep staircase to the open-air dining area. It was around eight o’clock,and it appears that we were the early birds that night. The tables were all empty, and we took the best seat in the house—the corner table, with a splendid view of Lake Pichola and its illuminated islands. We picked our menu, and then immersed ourselves in the soft sounds of the waves of the lake and pleasant rain washed air. We could see portions of the City Palace in front of us, and all the heritage hotels—which were once palaces—on the opposite side of the ghat. Below us, were a few anchored boats, and other rooftop cafes, and way off in the distance, was the hill we had just visited. And then, out of nowhere, came a loud noise, startling us.

We looked around. There was an elderly lady seated behind us, and having recognized our searching glances, she offered an answer. “That’s the cultural program at Bagore ki haveli. It takes place every evening.” In the darkness of the candle-lit night, we couldn’t see her face clearly, but something in her voice sounded gentle and elegant. We continued to talk, and asked her about the other items on our list of things to do, and how might we plan them.

Shortly after, our delicious dinner arrived, and we noticed the lady giving instructions to some of the waiters. That’s when we realised, she was probably part of the management of the hotel, if not the owner.

The staff treated us so beautifully, it was hard to believe, especially after the harrowing time we had experienced at another famous tourist destination (more on that in a separate post). They thanked us multiple times and asked us to review them on Trip Advisor. This sweet hospitality, we later realised was common to all the cafes we visited. We made a mental note of the service, and decided that we’d visit again.

As we were winding up, other tourists began trickling in, and the moment we got up, one staff member placed a placard on our table. It was marked “Reserved”.

Bagore ki haveli Panorama
Bagore ki haveli with Tripolia gate, along Gangaur ghat

Before we visited Udaipur, our itinerary included the sound and light show at City Palace. Having heard the cheers of the crowd, and the recommendation by the lady at Jaiwana haveli, we decided to skip that and attend the cultural programme instead—a decision we are very thankful for!

The next morning, we visited the museum at Bagore ki haveli, and returned in the evening for the cultural show.

While my phone wasn’t able to capture the beautiful ambience atop Jaiwana at night, here are some pictures atop the haveli next door—Bagore.

Lake Pichola Panorama
Panoramic view of Lake Pichola atop Bagore ki haveli

View from a window of Bagore ki haveli
View from one of the windows of the haveli

The Chhatri in water
The chhatri in the water


Photos taken with a Moto G3. Click/tap to enter my Flickr Photostream


This is post #22 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging