Friday, February 19, 2016

Walked the walk of royals @ Falaknuma

pic source :google images

Last  evening,  I walked  the  walk of royals at  one of the prestigious and royal addresses of the world, The Falaknuma palace. This had been on my bucket list ever since I saw a similar picture like the  above pic in a magazine when   it was thrown open to the public in 2010.   Yesterday, we were  guests at a wedding  fashion fiesta  organized by a leading  Indian designer (courtesy my daughter) on the lawns of the palace overlooking the northern façade, what  left me spellbound was not the show but the  allure of the bygone era.  I am yet to regain my senses and get back to this fast world. Try I will to recount what I saw for I am not sure some experiences can be written or told, they are simply felt.

The Falaknuma palace, handed down through generations  was once the royal residence of Nizam Mehboob Ali Khan. However, after being a  venue of  royal living and playing host to royalty and celebrities from all over the globe, the Falaknuma fell silent after the 1950s when the Nizam moved to his next abode. The last guest at Falaknuma was the first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1951. 

After a hiatus of 50 years and After 10 years of research, this palace has been sensitively restored to create a state of the art luxury hotel by fusing the old with the new. The restoration work and preservation of the priceless art and artefacts were carried under the guidance of Princess Esra who has brought back its original magnificience. The palace has since been leased to The Taj group since 2010.

It was to this palace located in old city   that we started in day light at 5  but it was twilight and the city lights came on when we were around Charminar at 6.30. The route to this area through Charminar although crowded with people and vehicles makes you feel that the place is suspended in the past. There are signs of decay on the buildings , the mildew, the weathered ornate wooden arches, windows on the buildings lends an  aura and throws you back into a  time travel of charming past.

5 Kms past Charminar, We drive up through “ kohitoor hill” for a few mintues  and we are stopped at the palace gates by security. After the security formalities, we are taken in a buggy to the western wing. I stood there thinking that this was not what I had seen in the picture  and slowly walked around to the left where there was a landing. From there I went to take a glimpse of the city down below and turned around … and  I went  Whoa!!  

Exactly what I had seen in the above picture…..What an architectural gem and definitely different from the palaces that I had seen which had domes.   The focus lights toggled adding more layers to this beauty. I  Simply stood there  soaking the beauty, after a while tried to capture the beauty through my hand phone lens, but failed miserably with a few attempts. Not wanting to waste the time as I had to attend the show in a few minutes time, I walked over to the end of the landing and what unfolded beneath me sent me into a trance. Absolutely stunning, the whole city spread before me like twinkling lights and the sky was sprawled with twinkling stars. As it was away from the city and the palace lighting was minimal, the stars were visible . It looked just like  a mirror image. Although the palace was named Falaknuma ( mirror in the sky) for another reason, this sight alone I felt befitted the name. Absolutely indescribable !!    My son looked up  to the balcony above the landing,  (perhaps the east wing, I am not sure) and said, The nizam must have had a view of the city from there daily. Not sure about that also, but it sure would have been a beautiful sight then too.

We came back to the landing again in front of the palace and looked down  at the lawns below, holding the railing. The venue of the fashion fiesta was all set to unfold and so after a mini party went to the lawns to watch the show. And when the show ended  with the show stopper and others showcasing the bridal wear, their assembly on stage with the backdrop of the palace truly transported me to a bygone era.

I walked the walk of the nixams, although I could not soak in the opulence of the interiors, This visit ticked one more off from my bucket list. 

Here are a few pictures  from my Phone, collaging the pictures will rob the beauty of the structure moreover my hand phone has not done justice,  so putting them individually.....

                                                    When the focus  lights toggled

                                                 City lights ( a shaken picture

  The venue of the show close up and see the city lights beyond.
                   A picture of the show venue  below from the landing in front of the palace above.
   one of the entrances to the left wing, don't miss the ornate wood work arching the doorways.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The splendor of Orugallu

Orugallu or Ekasila nagaram  famous  for medical and  engineering colleges today  and also  popularly known as Warangal was on our “To visit’” list for long. It is not very far from my place and we had  been close to its sister city Kazipet long back but Warangal for some reason was eluding us for 14 long years.
It  took a sudden plan one fine  December morning to travel  to the tricities of Kazipet-Hanumakonda and Warangal. What was to be ideally a two day visit turned out as a day trip since we could not get accommodated in the Ramappa lake nature  resort we had chosen to stay (we were not interested in a hotel stay) . There was a telangana Doctors conference and so both the resorts were booked. But we were not disappointed with the trip, because of the beautiful  glory of orugallu that we experienced during our short visit.
It was late morning when we started,  after a 2.5 hour drive ( 80kms was driven by my daughter) on beautiful toll road  and through Kakatiya kala thoranams , driving  past the famed NIT , we visited the  1000 pillared temple which was pretty well maintained by the archaeological department( but they could do much better) but…. It was  something else  that stole my heart in the land of Kakatiyas.
It  was around 3 in the noon when we came out of the temple, unsure where to head next, we asked an autodriver what else fell on the route he told “Ilavarangal”. I asked him to repeat, he said again “Ilavarangal”….now it was time for me to repeat if I heard him right …I asked him “ Ilavarangal??!!”…He said yes. I asked him “Yeh ilavarangal kya hai? Mandir hai  ya palace?...and he said "palace".
Excited and convinced with his answer, we took a U turn and travelled 20kms past Kakatiya medical college and drove up on a road flanked by,  what looked like a fort wall.  We stopped there and asked somebody   the way to the palace and it is was there things fell in place. The person who helped with directions pronounced clearly it was “Kila Warangal”  meaning “ Fort Warangal” it is a fort and not a palace....and we were in the right direction.
Finally when we reached the place, we were initially disappointed to see  no fort and just ruins on an open land. The entry fee was only 5rs and what one could prominently see on that open land was the thoranam which we had all along been seeing ever since we entered the tricities through kazipet. The thoranam is the stamp of Kakatiya architecture which is a beautiful arch with intricate carvings which one can see at most places in the tri cities . The kakatiya kala thoranam is even  the  Telangana state emblem and so was familiar with it.
Having come thus far,  we bought the tickets and entered the place and  only when we were closer to the  rearranged remnants and ran our fingers on them,  it slowly sinked into us what a palatial  place this must have been in the 12th century under the Kakatiyas.
The kakatiyas who were originally fisher folk were blessed by Kakati Devi who then became Royals. They ruled the whole Eastern southern range …from Chattisgarh to Karnataka upto Trichy in the south.   Orugallu  or Warangal was their capital till the Delhi sultanate defeated them in the 14th century and as is the tradition of the invaders, they ordered destruction of this fort which consisted of a svayambhu shiva tgemple ,  a temple of Ganesha, Nandi, the lovely wheel structure and many beautifully sculptured pillars with intricate carvings on polished black granite. All that remains  today are the remnants which are maintained and  rearranged by ASI and are a photographers delight. On closer look  one realizes the  stunning craftsmenship when just  chisels and hammers  must have been tools.  Another notable  point of this dynasty is that King Ganapatideva who constructed this fort had a daughter Rudramadevi whom he treated more like a son and appointed as his heir. I found this  “treatment”  something ahead of its times.
Unfortunately, there is no labels or boards describing the  place although there is a sound and light show in English and Telugu late in the evening, which we had to miss .
When we drove back after a visit to the Kushmahal in the fort’s vicinity, I  could’nt  help but marvel at the the splendor of the Kakatiyas and I decided I must read the Kakatiya history and I am yet to read a detailed one.

This place is a photographers delight but unfortunately my pictures are all in DSLR which is now with my daughter in the hostel. But I present here a  few pictures taken from my hand phone.( will edit to add those  DSLR pictures)  


and  below is the famed Kakatiya kala thoranam( google image) 

and with this post i complete my self imposed weekathon 7posts in 7 days. Thanks folks for reading.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My zero mile food

The step after composting is to grow food.

A  few decades back, the  food   grown in the backyards of most homes  and in the fields by farmers  were with natural plant promoters like animal dung ,  compost, vermi compost, panchagavya, crop rotation etc. All these eventually changed to synthetic  and chemical fertilizers to give more yield. Today,  we are back to this natural way of growing  which has been marketed as  Organic farming* and the yield as  Organic food.

 Organic! organic!! Organic!!!

That is one of the new glamour word  today that media talks especially with respect to food . Today, we add organic  additives to improve the health of the soil. And one of the organic additives which adds soul to the soil is compost.  So after composting, the next natural step for me was to grow organic food and thus started my zero mile food journey.  I have already elaborated  how I started in this post here.

 In a time when even front yard and back yard spaces are shrinking and we live in apartments most of us turn to our balcony to add some green cover. Since my balcony space which receives sunlight is a small area (3 feet X 1 Feet), I upcycled a few small containers and started growing simple greens using seeds from my kitchen spice box. Today, I have graduated to growing potatoes( work in progress) using hilling method and hopefully I should harvest a radish in 2 weeks.

Other than that, apart from the sensory carnivals this patch throws, it gives me safe and healthy food like a sprig of curry leaf or I harvest that tuft of methi, coriander or a few leaves of alternanthera, mint, a tomato  or chilly sometimes.

A very small journey but I am glad I made a beginning……

Here’s presenting my bursts of freshness that adds an extra zing on my plate.

 *Organic farming makes sure that every product it cultivates has full amount of nutrients which will benefit the end user to a large extent. Besides, organic farming or agriculture is the only way through which you can turn waste into complete nutrients and support a sustainable environment too.
day6/7 weekathon

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Backyard science produces "Black gold"

 Ever since I read that one of the major contributors to  the increase of green house gases* in atmosphere is due to the organic wastes emerging from kitchens of most homes,  I decided I must start managing the organic wastes. 
 I  stopped  contributing organic wastes from kitchen to the landfill. I started reading about aerobic composting  and initially started it in a small way in a broken bucket. All my kitchen wastes like peels of fruits, rotten vegetables and other organic wastes (uncooked ) were put in the bucket ( as a minimalist I did’nt want to buy the glamorous kambha which costed 2k).  Initially, the leachate, the maggots that help the wastes to degrade  and the foul smell were a huge putoff…then I read more about it and  understand  it has to be balanced with Carbon( as in dry leaves, paper , carboard pieces etc). 

After a couple of months of experimenting, I harvested my  "first black gold" (compost) which was  moist and smelt like fresh earth. The smell and feel of the  compost  was refreshing  and since then on as the cliché goes'there is no turning back' . Now, I have added two more old mud pots as compost bins  and stacked them like Khambha. I had even posted the pic on our gardener’s forum…one of them commented it as “Make in Home” product similar to make in India.

The amount of satisfaction you derive by  reusing, not contributing to the landfills , managing your wastes and turning them into useful organic additives for soil cannot be expressed but felt.  I feel like a responsible citizen.  Today many citizen initiatives and civic organizations are campaigning  and encouraging people to compost in their own homes.
But when I sit down to think , I realize this was a simple backyard science which was practiced by our elders in their homes, when they had backyard and kitchen gardens. Although, my own grandparents lived in a modern city home, I remember my  husband’s grandparents home  “Madhurambika Ashram”at Lalgudi. The kitchen water used in washing pulses and cereals were channelized into the kitchen garden and the kitchen wastes (nitrogen) were thrown in the sandpits in the backyard where they had the kitchen garden. All the garden leaves(carbon)  were swept off into this sand pit .  If this is’nt composting , then what it is?

After composting ....................what next?......In my post tomorrow…..

                                                              The "make in home" 3 tier kambha from a broken pail and old pots
                                       The organic wastes from kitchen aerobically transformed into sieved sweet smelling  black gold (compost)  in 2 months time.

*One of the major cause of green house gases increasing in the atmosphere is the result of organic dumping by us and most of this emerge from the kitchens of our homes. The organic wastes from homes that reach the landfill(anaerobic), the decomposers  convert and release the carbon as methane and other volatile gases that causing global warming. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

My latest addiction -Mandala art.

One afternoon, when I was browsing through an hobby ideas group, I came across a beautiful art work. The work of art was on a discarded wine bottle, intricate and bright with candy colors. It attracted me so much that often between other work, I went back to the page to have a look at this art work.The colors and the design played on my mind even after i left the page.  Although it looked simple at first look, definitely years of practice and dexterity  showed on the work.

 I immediately took a pen and paper and let my imagination take off with that bottle art as my inspiration. No strict rules, I did’nt even replicate what I captured of the picture in my mind. I let my fingers and mind co-ordinate and the resultant picture   was definitely not a patch on that art but when I had enough of that doodling, I came out of that enchanting experience, refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated. 

Without even my own knowledge I realized this was the Mandala art when done with in circle. Yes Mandalas are spiritual drawings....Whichever comes into the circle is called Mandala like earth,flower,fruit......When you do this art with complete focus on it, it is nothing  but Meditation...... Mandalas reflects our personality....It carries lot of emotions was what I heard from a meditational expert. I was amazed I got into this, it sounded so much like a cross between Zentangle and our Indian Kolam.

Here are some of my work in a collage. Some of them I have painted, as you can see this is amateur art, I also discovered during this journey that, doing something with a passion for yourself is the best art! So please overlook the crooked lines, shivering  arcs, I have miles to go………....hopefully, somebody, will reach and try to make that work of art that I admired. Till then, all the plain paper, invitations,old paints, diaries,sketch pens and note pads  that come my way will see my art patterns.

and i have to leave this post with a quote i loved reading recently by Neil it is.......

I complete day 4/7....hopefully will have something to say tomorrow...:)

Friday, February 5, 2016

My true calling......

From electronics to teaching to designing (PCB’s) to  life skill facilitating to grading International essays, there is no constant  in my CV. I seem to be easily bored and then shift on to another track comfortably and funnily or luckily, such job opportunities come my way. Parallely, even in hobbies, I seem to be dabbling in many things- gardening, music, art, photography, cooking,baking, reading,collecting quotes, travelling, blogging  and more.....
While my peers are focused and excel in a particular field , I see that I don’t excel in anything. My true calling  I guess, is to do anything that produces joy to me at that moment. So while all my peers seem to be growing and excelling in their chosen field. I seem to don't grow/excel  and   do things for my personal joy.

And one of the"anything' that I have chosen to do for  joy at the moment is  this Mandala art. More on this in next post.….after all I need something to write for this self imposed weekathon. (day3/7) with a weekend break.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My First Book Spine poetry

When you look at a book shelf, the spines of the books with their titles sometimes connect to form a meaninful sentence, phrase or thought.  A little more careful look and a few rearrangements later can help you come up with a beautiful  thought or poem. This is  book spine poetry and this art with book titles first appeared in Nina Katchadourian's Sorted book project, which is one of the longest ongoing spine poets project and Nina is one of the most skilled person in this genre which began in 1993.  

I first came across this concept in Shilpa Garg's blog couple of years back. Since then, I have been wanting to try this but it took me yesterday's afternoon to  make one.

 My  mini collection of books is spread across three rooms. Yesterday, at noon, I was looking at my drawing room book shelf, Icould not compose anthing meaningfully, then i brought a few books from each room and tried to rearrange to  make something meaningful.

Today when I read the same, I was'nt convinced. I knocked off one book from that stack and composed this making it my first spine poetry.

                                      Wise and otherwise; Angels & Demons,
                                                   Love'em or Lose'em,
                                                    If tomorrow comes,
                                                     Going solo...
                                                     The leader in you
                                                     Dare to win

I meant to say "whatever the odds/evens, when tomorrow comes, the leader in you dares to win going solo.

Is that Ok?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Poetry and me

My relationship with poetry is not steady. We share an on/off relationship and the reason is simple.

 There are times when I understand a complex poem and there are times when people 'waah' waah' about a poem and I don't understand even a word of it. Those are times when i really dislike poems.So simply put ,When I understand the poem, I love it. When I don't understand, I don;t like.

But, during my school days, I loved poems and my earliest memory with poems dates back when I was in Class 4. My higher English teacher Shalini Raju had asked for the meaning of Chanticleer in poetry class and no one but me who sat in the last bench shouted "Cock" and my teacher was mighty impressed and asked the class to clap for me. What a wonderful moment that was, I still remember the place where i sat, the orientation of the benches,  the design of my class, the beautiful and tall stained glass windows and the steps that led out to the ground.

That was the beginning, From then on poems of  Wordsworth ( she dwelt among the untrodden ways one of my favorites) , Robert louis stevenson,  Robert Frost,Longfellow(Rain in Summer another fav of mine)  Sarojini naidu, Rabindranath tagore, kuvempu, pancha mangesh rai  etc...were all enchanting to me. In kannada, Punyakoti poem is one of the most touching and beautiful poem which has been  made into a film . When this poem was  explained the whole class was moist eyed.Often my teachers would decode the poems for us and it was interesting how beautifully the poems rhymed and made sense.  There were times, when  I myself would decode the poems and when it turned out correctly, I  would feel as though  I accomplished a great task.  Reciting, memorizing and writing the poems with correct punctuation also got you full marks. This is one of the sections in English which gets us full marks. So Poetry was my love in school. 

Later, When Higher english gave way to Sanskrit in another school I enjoyed Dramas more than poetry,  I was exposed to  great poets like Bhasa and Kalidasa's works but somewhere I felt Dramas were more straight forward compared to poems. 

Then , after a long long break, i encountered poetry during my children's early school days. When i had to help them choose or memorize a poem or help them complete a poem with a few guiding words. Together we have attempted a few lines  during their assignments and sometimes i would compose some kiddish lines with rhyming words. That was the only poetry I have ever attempted ....wriiten no major poetry..going by  Frost's defintion...perhaps  my emotions have not found thoughts and words......but  a couple of  years back....I read about Spine poetry in a blog. More on this tomorrow....

P.S: I am trying to knock off the writers block in me and so am attempting to write randomly and incoherently about a few things starting today for a week . Let me see ..if i will do this week long marathon except weekend).Fingers crossed.