FIFA 2018 World Cup as I see it…………..

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I am basically a cricket fan, may be because India plays cricket! I also watch other sports for a change. My interest to watch football matches developed only during world cups.I really enjoy the extravaganza on TV.

Though I have not much knowledge over football, other than Messi and Ronaldo, still I enjoy the game for other reasons. That is the way I see a football match!

I am amazed to see the colourful football stadium. The vast green field with players in colourful attire with white shoes.The men at goals with different shades. Referees with a whistle  in their hand also in stunning colourful attire.

Spectators of respective countries also exhibit their loyalty with their team by wearing the same shades as their team mates. Few spectators also wear very colourful head gears and that attract other spectators.I don’t think any other playing area has such a colourful surroundings.

Once the play starts, it is amazing to see the players continuously running, kicking and heading the ball for 90 minutes. Really we have to salute their endurance. Goal keepers who normally relaxed, get stressed when the ball come to their side! In no other game referees have this much work out as in the football match. They also keep running with the players throughout the match.

When two players during the course of the match indulged in a scuffle, and one player always roll down on the ground with unbearable pain, but to my surprise within few seconds he himself stand up and resume his play is really awesome.

It is always interesting to watch actions of coaches of the rival teams. They can not sit on their seat not even for a minute, as either got excited or irritated over the performance of their team that force them always get out of their seat and come to the edge of the playing area and advise the players through their actions how to handle a specific situation in the middle !

Yeah for the 90 minutes it is always unlimited entertainment !

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Hey monsoon, come soon !

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It is natural everybody like monsoon no matter which part of the globe they are. But for the people of Delhi it is a boon !  Because whole Delhi turn in to a frying pan during summer and the temperature will reach up to 45 degrees Celsius. Just shut your eyes and touch any object, I am sure it will be hot .

Even during night you won’t get any respite from heat. Thanks for the occasional dust storm, that give us much needed relief, though only for a brief period!

The biggest dilemma once monsoon arrive is whether to carry umbrella to office or not. If you carry it, it won’t rain. If you don’t carry it, certainly you will get stuck either in office or in metro station !

Having umbrella does not mean that you can reach your home safe. Due to wind force  your umbrella suddenly change its angle towards sky thereby making you wet as well as make you embarrassed due to curious onlookers. Some times you have to jump like Kangaroo to avoid puddles on the road.

It is better to keep your distance from speeding car to avoid muddy wash ! Fly overs and elevated metro tracks serve as a community umbrella for the two wheeler riders as well as  pedestrians.

Irrespective of the above troubles, I enjoy monsoon every year. The thunder storm and  appearance of the  cloudy sky,  trigger my imagination and creativity and urge me to write more. News paper report say Delhi’s pollution level comes down during rain. I enjoy the drizzle while walking. I always cherish the heavy rain when I am in the comfort of my home.

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The day when I touch the sky

I was craving for air travel since my childhood. Whenever I see a flight in the sky, I always used to imagine how passengers inside the plane would be enjoying their flying. But unfortunately air travel in India was meant for rich only. Few years back only national carrier Indian airlines dominated the whole field and its fare was beyond the reach of a common man. It was a time, only top bureaucrats, business men and politicians used to travel by air.

Now the whole scenario has changed drastically. Thanks to invasion of private airlines in the Indian sky. Their competitiveness in service and pricing has a significant effect on the domestic scene and that leads to even a common man like me started thinking of realizing my dream of traveling by air.

I was waiting eagerly for the right opportunity. One fine morning when I opened the news paper, my eyes straight away glued to an advertisement given by a private airline offering unimaginable low fares to Chennai. For a moment I could not believe my eyes. I just rubbed my eyes and again gone through the advertisement. Yes it was a god sent opportunity for me to fly.

I immediately dialed the airline numbers and enquired to know whether ticket is available or not. To my joy, they informed me that tickets are available. Without any hesitation I immediately booked my dream ticket for the dream journey. I felt as if it all happened as fantasy. Yes, the countdown starts. There is no need for me to dream now as I am going to realize my dream.

On the appointed day, I was so brisk in packing my things. Though it was more than eight hours for the journey I started flying now itself. Since I have to be in the airport two hours before, I booked a taxi. It was a rainy day and it was raining cat and dogs, but it failed to dampen my spirit.

The taxi arrived. Still it was raining. I took by suite case and a bag and locked my home. First I took the suite case and got down from the stair case of my apartment and kept in the back seat of the taxi and I closed the door to avoid rain water seeping inside the car and again came to the staircase and took my bag and got down to board the taxi. To my shock, the taxi was not there. I was started looking all the directions, but I could not find the taxi. One minute I felt that my dream run has ended abruptly. I became so tense. I did not know what to do? I tried driver’s mobile number. Unfortunately the phone was engaged.

To add fuel to the fire, I got a call in my mobile from the airline informing that the flight timing has been advanced by 20 minutes. What a pathetic situation. I never heard in my life advancement of any timing whether it is a bus, train or airline. After fifteen minutes again I dialed driver’s mobile number. This time he responded. I asked him where he is going. I was really stunned on hearing his reply. He told me that he is going to airport. Going to airport without passenger? I told him that I am the passenger how can you go to airport without me. After a brief pause, he told me that he is coming back. In this process almost 30 minutes was wasted.

Rain was still continuing. I became restless. The car back again. The driver told me that he thought that after putting the suitcase on the back seat he thought that I also would have sat. There was no time for me to scold the driver for his irresponsible behaviour. I asked him to rush to the airport. Due to heavy rain throughout the day led to water logging everywhere and that led to traffic jam en route airport. This also added to my tension and still I was not sure whether I would be able to make it to the airport.

To my surprise after reaching airport I came to know that the flight timing was actually postponed by 30 minutes. The flight which was supposed to land did not land in time. We were told that due to heavy traffic congestion at the Delhi airport the flight landing is delayed. Since most of us are first time flyers naturally every body was so anxious. After seeing their condition I just said that though the airline is named as ‘go air’ it seems it will never go. After hearing my comments everybody laughed a while forgetting their tense moment. The bus arrived to take us near to the flight. After getting down from the bus when I look at the flight at a close range, I was completely spellbound by its beauty.

This was the first time I could able to see a flight in such a close distance and was completely amazed to see the wonderful carrier. After entering inside the flight I felt as if I entered into a big auditorium. Now we were waiting for the great moment. Yes to take off. There was an announcement that passengers must wear their seat belt as the flight is going to take off in few seconds. We were waiting with bated breath. All lights inside the flight are switched off. For a minute the entire passengers were silent waiting for the exiting moment. We felt a jerk and the flight just started cruising into the sky like a big bird.

It was an unimaginable experience that no words can explain my feeling fully. When the flight was on its high altitude and with high speed, I felt as if I am sitting in a room of a five star hotel. When we all started settling down fully after the take off experience, there was an announcement again that flight reached Chennai and very few seconds from now the flight is going to land. I could not believe this. Within 2 ½ hours I crossed more than 2000 Kms whereby I used to travel the same distance by spending 36 hours in train. I felt as if I traveled just from one part of Delhi to other.

Really it was a wonderful experience which I will never forget as long as I live.

 

A pilgrimage to Allahabad & Varanasi

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On a long week end in 29 Mar 18 scheduled our visit to Allahabad and Varanasi. Our train reached Allahabad early morning. First day we proceeded to Anand Bhavan. Anand Bhavan is a historic house museum focusing on the Nehru Family. It was constructed by Motilal Nehru in 1930s to serve as the residence of Nehru family. Here we saw rare photographs of Nehru’s family and snaps of pre-independence activities.    Jawahar Planetarium is  also located here.

Next day we proceeded to Triveni Sangam to have a holy dip. Here three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and invisible Saraswati mingles.

A place of religious importance and the site for historic Kumbh Mela  held every 12 years, over the years it has also been the site of immersion of ashes of several national leaders, including Mahatama Gandhi in 1948. After the holy dip at the Sangam, we visited Hanuman temple and very Adi Shankracharya temple.

Hanuman Mandir, Allahabad is a unique temple situated near the Allahabad Fort. Hanuman Temple, Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh in India is famous for being the only temple where Lord Hanuman is seen in a recline posture.

Adi Shankracharya temple is the only temple in Allahabad, built by Shri Kanchi Kamkoti Peeth, in south Indian style of architecture. This magnificent temple is four storeys high and is standing on 16 strong pillars attaining a height of 130 feet. The construction of the temple was started in 1970 but could only be completed in 1986 . At every floor of this temple adobe of different Gods and Goddesses have been constructed. Idols of Sankaracharya, Kamakshi Devi (with 51 Shaktipeetha around), Tirupati Balaji (with 108 Vishnu around), Yogshashtra Sahasrayoga Linga (having 108 Shivas around) are installed in the temple. Inside walls of this temple have paintings of pictures of various scenes of Ramayan in decorated manner. Regular puja in the temple is performed by a group of priests from south India

After our trip to Allahabad we proceeded to Varanasi the holy city. We got rejuvenated over the the very sight of ghats (the place where the pilgrims take bath). We engaged a boat to go to Kasi Viswanath temple.  It was a evening time. The sun was about to set. The whole atmosphere was so serene and divine. While on the boat we could see the entire stretch of the beautiful ghats. It was so mesmerising. We reached the temple after crossing so many narrow lanes. After return from the temple we got an opportunity to witness evening arti of Ganga. It is being conducted daily one hour in the evening at 7.30  pm to 8.30 pm.

Kashi Vishvanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishvanatha  meaning Ruler of The Universe. Varanasi city is also called Kashi, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishvanath Temple. Taking a holy dip is an important event as the Hindus believe that if you take a holy dip here you will be free from rebirths. We had a holy dip at Tulsi Ghat as well as Dashashwamedh Ghat

We also visited Banares Hindu University to have a darshan of  Kasi Viswanath Temple inside the campus. The temple is so serene and very peaceful.

Next day we  visited the famous Durga mandir, Kamkya Mandir. Though both are small temples, I surprised over large devotees thronging these temples.

We also visited Sarnath, located just 12 km from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, is the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage.After his enlightenment in Bodhgaya, the Buddha went to Sarnath seeking his five former companions. He found them, taught them what he had learned, and they also became enlightened. This event is referred to as “the turning of the wheel of the Dharma”. When we were walking around various Budhha temples here, we felt mental peace. That is the influence of Lord Buddha.

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Trip to God’s own country – Kerala

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When I planned a trip to Kerala in the first week of December, I thought that the weather will be normal and I won’t get any problem. But to my suprise, cyclone Ockhi which emerged from Bay of Bengal, turned the entire situation upside down as the cyclone which started from Tamil Nadu and moved towards Kerala and battered the coastal areas.

Got anxious over the climate and even thought that whether our decision to visit Kerala during December was right. But there was no option to change the programme as air tickets and accommodation were already booked. I immediately called up one of my office colleague, who is working in Cochin to know the ground realities. He informed me that Cochin is not at all affected by the cyclone and he assured me that I won’t get any difficulties in visiting Cochin as per our schedule. I got excited over this news and packed our things immediately to go for an exciting and a debut visit to the State of Kerala.

On arrival,  we first went to Gurvayoor temple to have a darshan of Lord Krishna. There was not much crowd. We had our Darshan within an hour.

Next day we started our sight seeing trip to Cochin. Our first stop was Mattacherry palace.This palace was built by Portuguse. It was modified by Dutch later on and called as a Dutch palace. Many colourful religious paintings adored the walls of the palace. Paintings of Kochi rulers are displayed in walls of the palace.

Our next stop was Hill palace.Hill Palace was built in 1865 by the Maharaja Of Cochin and is now the largest archaeological museum in Kerala. It has a large museum displaying erstwhile Cochin royal family and the ornaments used by them.

Next we visited the Kerala museum. Housed in a circular domed building, the Museum of Kerala History is a sound and light spectacle. It works on a time frame, portraying the history of Kerala from early inhabitants to the modern era. Here one would come 38 life-size tableaux, each backed by multiple visuals, reflecting the cultural and social history of Kerala. This presentation is considered as the first of  its kind in India. It has a art gallery and a dolls museum too. Only in Cochin we were able to see the Chinese fish nets being used widely in Kerala.

The day after our sight seeing visit to Cochin, we proceeded to Munnar, a beautiful hill station of Kerala. Unlike the other hill stations in the country, Munnar is untouched by rampant commercialization. Its flora and fauna are well maintained and wherever we go we could only see only greenery . Munnar is dotted with beautiful tea gardens. While entering Munnar we were thrilled and enchanted over the sight of Attukal water falls. As long as we stand there we could not take off our eyes from it.

We also visited Kannan Devan Tea Museum and really delighted to know the process of tea making through an informative video as well as real time demo. We also visited Eravikulam national park where we could spot Nilgiri Tahr exists only at Munnar. Though we could not see any other animals here, yet it was really a scenic beauty.  At echo point, we tried our best to maximize our vocal sound to get back the echo. It was a amazing experience.  We enjoyed Kerala’s famous folk dance Kathakali in Kerala’s folk dance theater at Munnar.

After our Munnar visit we proceeded to Alapuzha.  Alappuzha also known as Alleppey, is a town with picturesque landscape, it was once a major port and trading centre of Kerala. It was known as the Venice of the East. Even though, Alappuzha has lost its commercial prominence, it still retains its beauty and attracts thousands of tourists from within the country and all around the world. The canals, beaches, backwaters, boat races, and houseboats of Alappuzha are stunningly beautiful and captivate the visitors. The Backwaters of Alappuzha are the most popular tourist attraction in Kerala. The three hours boat ride in backwaters was a memorable one. After boat ride, we visited the RKK museum.

All of us have heard tales of timeless love. In India we have one of its finest examples-—the Taj Mahal. Taj is the most famous monument to love ever built. It was created by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz. In 2003, Betty Karan built Revi Karuna Karan memorial museum at Alappuzha in memory of her loving husband.

The family was avid collectors of fine art and artifacts for over three generations. The collection was maintained in private domain. After Revi’s demise, Betty decided to open the collection to the public. Betty and Lullu have dedicated the museum in the memory of a most beloved husband and loving father.

The RKK museum is an architectural marvel.  One unique feature of the museum is that you will see that the four major religions in India—Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism—have equal prominence on the mural, ivory collection, Kerala room and the and the items displayed in the old wing. We have not seen such a rare and large collections of art facets anywhere in India.

After visiting Kerala we realised that Kerala fully deserve to be called ‘the God’s own country’.

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Roving through Lucknow

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It was a early morning flight. It just took one hour to Lucknow. After having relaxed till evening we proceeded to see Bara Imambra which is very nearest to our Guest House. When we reached the spot, we felt as if we were transported  to a historic period.

The very sight of Rumi Darwaza was enthralled us. In one side it looked like a necklace. The other side it looked like a palm leaf . The Rumi Darwaza,  is an imposing gateway which was built under the patronage of Nawab Asaf-Ud-daula in 1784.  It is an example of Awadhi architecture.

Being an entrance to the city of Lucknow, Russell, the reporter of  The New York Times who accompanied the victorious British army that entered Lucknow in 1858.

This massive gate is situated between Bara Imambara and Chota Imambara. This place is generally very much busy all day, and during weekends most of the tourists visit here.

After seeing the beautiful gate, we moved to see Bara Imambra.

The complex also includes the large  mosque, the bhul-bhulaiya (the labyrinth). Two imposing gateways lead to the main hall. It is said that there are 1024 ways to reach the terrace but only one to come back. It is an accidental architecture.

Construction of Bara Imambara was started in 1785, a year of a devastating famine, and one of Asaf-ud-Daula’s objectives in embarking on this grandiose project was to provide employment for people in the region for almost a decade while the famine lasted. It is said that ordinary people used to work in the day building up the edifice, while noblemen and other elite worked at night to break down anything that was raised that day.

We stunned to see the beautiful structure and its elegant appearance that etched in our memory for ever. Then we went ahead to see the Chota Imambra.

The building is also known as the Palace of Lights because of its decorations and chandeliers during special festivals, like Muharram. The chandeliers used to decorate the interior of this building were brought from Belligium. Also housed within the building, is the crown of Muhammad Ali Shah. Thousands of labourers worked on the project to gain famine relief.

It has a gilded dome and several turrets and minarets. The tombs of Muhammad Ali Shah and other members of his family are inside the imambara.

This building also architecturally rich and visually pleasing.

After this historic visit, we went to see the other parts of Lucknow. First we went to Ram Manohar Park.  Though it was a big park we not at all  impressed over it as we have seen more better and bigger parks in Delhi.

Then we moved into Ambedkar Park. It was so huge and very beautiful. Inside the park there are lot of statues of elephants and a separate section for Ambedkar statute.

The entire area of the park was covered with glaring mosaic and it gives appearance that the park is filled with water. During evening hours lot of people visit here to spend some lively time with their kith and kin.

Jai Prakas Narain’s International center was informative and entertaining. There was museum inside which depicts Jai prakash Narain’s life stories in a art form. The audio guide was really superb and it throw lot of lights on the important happenings in Jai Prakash Narain’s life.

After lunch we moved to British Residency. It served as the residence for the British Resident General who was a representative in the court of the Nawab. It is located in the heart of the city. Lastly we visited Indra Gandhi Planetarium and got some knowledge about our planet and stars.

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Jodhpur jaunt

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The day of our arrival we could not make any programme due to hot climate. So we decided to out out in the evening. We opted to spend our time to the nearest point from our Guest House i.e. Ghanta Ghar, also known as the clock tower. It was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh (1880-1911) from whom the market takes it name.

In fact, the tower dominates the entire scenario. Though it is small yet it is beautiful.  Beside the tower, there is  Sadar Market that is frequented by tourists on shopping spree. From this market, tourists can purchase the local products of Jodhpur.

Next day morning we visited Umaid Bhawan Palace,  is one of the world’s largest private residences. A part of the palace is managed by Taj Hotel.

Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh  this palace has 347 rooms and serves as the principal residence of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family.

A part of the palace also houses a museum. The Palace was built to provide employment to thousands of people during the time of famine during 1857.

The entire palace complex built with sandstone and marble . The palace, magnificent in its lavish proportions, consists of a throne chamber, an exclusive private meeting hall, a Durbar Hall to meet the public, a vaulted banquet hall, private dining halls, a ball room, a library, an indoor swimming pool and spa, a billiards room, four tennis courts, two unique marble squash courts, and long passages.

Our next point was Mehrangarh (Mehran Fort),  is one of the largest forts in India. Built around 1460 by Rao Jodha, the fort is situated 410 feet (125 m) above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its boundaries there are several palaces known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards.

There are seven gates, which include Jayapol (meaning ‘victory’), built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur, Udaipur and Bikaner armies.

The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730. The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period

Mehrangarh Fort stands a hundred feet in splendor on a perpendicular cliff, four hundred feet above the sky line. Built with red sand stone, imposing, invincible and yet with a strange haunting beauty that beckons .

We also visited Mandore Garden. Mandore is located about 5 miles north of Jodhpur. It was the former capital of Maharajas of Marwar. Its extensive Mandore garden, with high rock terrace, makes it a popular local attraction.

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