For Entertainment sake

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During my childhood  I was in a small village named ‘Konthagai’ which is in South Tamil Nadu, India. Since it was a tiny village, there was no entertainment for us other than playing few outdoor games. No television or video games were there at that time. The only entertainment for us was to go for a movie occasionally.

Unfortunately there was no theater in our village. We had to go to a neighbouring village, which is three kilometers away from our village. Going for a movie for us was not as easy as everybody thinks. After much persuasion our parents used to give their consent so reluctantly, as they knew that it would involve a marathon effort by them. So even after agreeing to take us to the movie, they always would look for some flimsy grounds to cancel the programme by showing our minor injuries, which happened while we play, or possibility of rain on that particular day. Since there was no bus facility available to the neighbouring village, they had to depend on roofed bullock cart (in tamil it is called ‘Koondu Vandi’), which was the cheap mode of transport available at that time.

They had to prepare the bullock carts well in advance to keep it ready for the journey. They also had to make the bullocks in a fit condition and also make them to wear iron shoes. They had to prepare the driver who drives the bullock cart to be available on that day. Many times our journey was called off as the driver failed to turn up on that auspicious day. Once we had to return half the way because the bullocks refused to go further. So many times our entertainment trip happened to be an unpleasant one. But it never deterred our enthusiasm; we always used to persuade our parents whenever we came to know that there was a good movie screened in the neighbouring village.

After few years, a touring talkie was opened in our own village. We thought that it would put an end to all our ordeals and anxiety and also would give a great relief to our parents.

Of course, our parents got a relief, as they no longer required to arrange marathon journey for us. But our joy of enjoying a movie was short lived. We realized that watching a movie in a touring talkie is really a Herculean task. Once we went for a movie, but returned without seeing the movie as the theater owner informed us that since they did not get enough crowd, could not run the show. Once we returned disappointed, as the reels containing the box, which was to come from the neighbouring town, did not reach. Once we gone for a movie for the noon show at 2 P.M. but returned at 2 A.M. as they took lot of time in pasting the reels which used to cut off every ten minutes run. Once we had enjoyed only half the movie as heavy rain interrupted and the whole place became a pool (!)

Now I am amazed to see the developments happened there. Almost every house has telephone and T.V sets with cable connection. They are enjoying the movies at the comfort of their drawing room. Even they demand the movies of their choice. Most of the houses having computers with Internet connection.. Hollywood movies are available through CDs. What a change! Earlier we were running for the entertainment. Now entertainment knocks the doors of our homes.

 

Enlightened at Buddha’s Land

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When I planned my trip to Patna, all my friends expressed an odd look. When I informed them that I will be going to Bodh Gaya they changed their expression which was so pleasing. That is the effect of the name ‘Bodh Gaya’. The distance between Patna to Bodh Gaya is only 105 Kms but it took us six hours to reach Bodh Gaya. It was a nerve rattling experience due to bad condition of the road.

Bodh Gaya is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites as Buddha’s enlightenment happened here.The main temple complex houses the famous Mahabodhi temple, stupa and a descendant of the original Bodhi (Peepal) Tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment.

When we entered the temple we immediately got enveloped with serene and propitious feeling. We could not believe that we are actually standing on the spot where Buddha got enlightenment. At the temple we could see plenty of international devotees from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, China and Japan

Inside the Mahabodhi temple complex you can also enjoy the Lotus Pond or the meditation garden.

Bodh Gaya has temples or monasteries from many other nations with a Buddhist tradition (Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet), all within easy walking distance from the Mahabodhi temple.

Next we visited the famous Vishnupad Temple. It is believed that Rama and Sita had visited this place. This is believed that the temple was built with the footprints of Lord Vishnu in the centre. This footprint marks the act of Lord Vishnu subduing Gayasur, a demon by placing his foot on his chest. Inside the Vishnupad temple, the 40 cm long footprint of Lord Vishnu is imprinted in solid rock and surrounded by a silver plated basin.

Next day  we planned our trip for local sightseeing. When we were taking break fast at our Holiday Home, happened to meet Venkat and Promod. Venkat’s social nature drew him towards us and we also happy to meet a tamilian in Bihar.  After conversing with both of them we came to know that they are also planning for the local sightseeing. What a coincidence ! Promod asked me why don’t you join with us? We were thrilled to join with them for the local trip as well to Rajgir. But for them, we could not have stayed at Gaya.  I think it was certainly Buddha’s call which happened through Venkat and Promod ! Our journey become so vibrant after they joined with us. 

First we started our visit to a Gurdwara known as Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara, the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs.. Besides being the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, Patna was also honored by visits from Guru Nanak as well as Guru Tegh Bahadur. After the visit, we went  straight to the banks of Ganges and excited to see the river with reverence. 

Next we proceeded to Bihar museum. It is a huge museum. It show cases plenty of art facets and historical events of Bihar.  The time line that depicts the period of historic era was not only impressive but also  informative. Patna museum also located adjacent  to Bihar Museum. In which we are able to see the relics of Buddha. 

After the museum visit, we went straight to Golhar a old building where grains stored in olden days. It is believed that the top of the Golghar presents a wonderful panoramic view of the city and the Ganges. But due to renovation work, we were not allowed to go to the top.

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Golghar has never been filled to its maximum capacity and there are no plans to do so. Some have claimed that the reason for this is a flaw whereby the doors are designed to open inwards; thus, if it is filled to its maximum capacity, then the doors will not open.

Next on our way to Rajgir,  we visited the beautiful Pawapuri Jal Mandir .

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The Jal Mandir meaning Water Temple, also known, in Pawapuri, meaning a town without sins,  is a highly revered temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jain religion, which marks the place of his cremation. Mahavira attained Nirvana (salvation) in Pawapuri. The temple has been built within a tank filled with red coloured lotus flowers.

Rajgir is  a hilly area and famous for its hot water springs, locally known as Brahmakund, a sacred place for Hindus where water from seven different springs merge and is notable for its healing effects.

Another major attraction is the peace pagoda. Vishwa Shanti Stupa  built in 1969, one of the 80 peace pagodas in the world, to spread the message of peace and non-violence.It is the oldest peace pagoda in India.

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The Chairlift rope-way  is another attraction. It was a thrilling ride with scenic beauty. Initially it was scary for a moment, after that I started enjoying the ride. I never experienced such a exciting rope way ride anywhere.

We also visited the ruins of Nalanda. It was a University of historic importance.  Amazed to see the architectural masterpiece.. The most popular Mahavihara of the ancient times, a significant Buddhist seat of academic excellence and a modest pilgrim center. Nalanda continues to be popular and attract lot of tourists every year.

Although in ruins, the entire complex presents a pretty picture and is thronged  by tourists day in and day out. It has “viharas” or monasteries to the east and temples to the west. In addition to this, the complex houses a charming little museum, which has a collection of several of original Buddhist stupas, Hindu and Buddhist bronzes, coins, terracotta jars. Apart from Buddhism, it is an important center for Jainism, Hinduism, and Sufism as well. Considering the rich heritage and the historical importance, it is a hot tourist destination.

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After our Nalanda visit, we visited the Black Buddha temple.This temple is a very interesting one. Though it is small in size but it is clean and well maintained. The statue of Lord Buddha is made of black stone unlike anywhere else. Here also lot of international tourists come every day  to pay their obeisance to Lord Buddha.

We left Bihar and reached Delhi with memories of Buddha and new friends.

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A pilgrimage to Shirdi and Nashik

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My  wish to visit to Shirdi was fulfilled on 27th Oct 2018. The train from Delhi reached Manmad station at about 5.30 AM. Reached Shirdi at 7.00 AM. Booked our accommodation at Sai Ashram managed by Sai Trust. The accommodation was neat and clean. Inside the Ashram lot of facilities provided to devotees by Sai Trust like subsidised food, free dharshan tickets and free distribution of prasad almost throughout the day. Separate queues for Senior citizens and for those booked through online.  It is the most organized temple I have ever seen.

Sai Baba of Shirdi,  was an spiritual master who is regarded by his devotees as a saint, a fakir, a satguru and an incarnation of Lord Shiva. He is revered by both his Hindu  and  Muslim devotees during, as well as after his lifetime. 

According to accounts from his life, he preached the importance of realization of the self, and criticized love towards perishable things. His teachings concentrate on moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, and devotion to the God and guru. Sai Baba also did hate distinction based on religion or caste.

We also visited Shani Shingnapur. The village is known for its popular temple of Shani, the Hindu god associated with the planet Saturn. Here the deity is installed in in the open with no roof over it.

Shingnapur is also famous for the fact that no house in the village has doors, only door frames. Villagers believe that god Shani punishes anyone attempting theft.

The deity here is “Swayambhu” (self-evolved deity) that is self emerged from earth in form of black, imposing stone. Though no one knows the exact period, it is believed that the  Shanaishwara statue was found by shepherds of the then local hamlet.

After our visit to Shirdi, we visited Nashik, an ancient holy city of Maharashtra situated on the banks of Godavari River.  Nashik is a city of its own distinction as the whole city is surrounded by beautiful mountains. The Kumbh Mela is celebrated here every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad and Maha Kumbh takes place every twelve years at four places in Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. According to the Puranas, it is believed that Kumbh derives its name from an immortal pot of nectar, which the devtas (Gods) and demons fought over. The four places where the nectar fell are at the banks of river Godavari in Nashik, river Kshipra in Ujjain, river Ganges in Haridwar and at Triveni Sangam of Ganga, Yamuna and invisible Saraswati River in Allahabad

In Nashik we first visited the Pandavleni Caves which is at the top of a hill. It was amazing to see the beautiful as well as artistic caves at the top of the mountain.

Next we visited Saptashrungi temple situated 60 kilometres.. According to Hindu traditions, the goddess Saptashrungi Nivasini dwells within the seven mountain peaks. (Sapta means seven and shrung means peaks.) There are 510 steps to climb the gad.Devotees visit this place in large numbers every day. The view from this temple is really awesome.

River Godavari flows through Nashik and its Northern part is called as Panchavati. It is said that lord Shri Ram and Sita along with Laxman stayed at Panchavati for some time. Thus Panchavati has gained holy importance. There are five Banyan (Vad) trees and hence the area is called Panchavati.Nearby is Sita Gumpha (cave) where Sita is said to have stayed for some time.The sages used to meditate in close proximity with the lush green nature. Laxmana – brother of Rama – used to stay here and cut the nose of Shurpanakha – sister of Ravana. This place has temples of Laxmana and Hanuman. The most important place in Panchavati is Ramkund. It is so called because Lord Rama is believed to have taken bath there. We also visited the Kala Ram temple.

After visiting Panchavati, we proceeded to Triambakeshwar Temple, Nashik. It is a beautiful temple with architectural excellence.   As per the Shiv Purana, once Brahama (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of preservation) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiv pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiv appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshiped till the end of eternity.

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Unity in diversity

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India is unique country as it has so many languages. Unity in diversity is India’s strength. Yet citizens always face some embarrassing moments when they travel from one state to another. I got a nostalgic memory when I came to Delhi 35 years ago without knowing its local lanugage ‘Hindi’.

When I joined my office, I was completely startled to see such a situation where everyone was talking in Hindi, cracking jokes in Hindi, exchanging greetings in Hindi. When they were talking about me I was not knowing whether they were appreciating me or abusing me.  From that moment on wards I started working as a ‘Robot’ doing my work without communicating to anybody.

After having seen my trouble, my colleagues started speaking to me in English. Even office peons after having seen my agony tried their best to convey their feelings to me in a broken English. So in office I had managed somehow to pull on, but outside I still struggled a lot to manage without Hindi.  As people of Delhi tend to reply to  you only in Hindi no matter in what language the question is asked !

Once I told my friend that I am finding it difficult to board Delhi Transport Corporation(DTC) bus, as the conductor asks too many questions which I don’t understand. To reduce my problem little bit, my friend advised me that whenever you board a DTC bus ask the conductor a ticket by tendering the exact coins for the destination. So the conductor would give the ticket and would not ask any questions. According to his advice, when I boarded a DTC bus asked the conductor a ticket by tendering the exact fare. But to my shock, the conductor asked me in hindi ‘Kahan Jana Hai ?(Where you want to go?). Since I was not prepared for the question I started blinking. But fortunately one of my fellow passenger who happened to be a Tamilian came to my rescue and saved me from embarrassment.

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Flourishing Indian democracy

72nd Independence Day-THE FIRST MAIL-TFM_217414Red Fort is a historic fort in the city of Delhi in India. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years, until 1856. Every 15th  August Delhi’s Red Fort comes to the lime light as the Prime Minister of India address the nation on Independence Day.

The tradition continues from the first Independence Day on 15th August 1947 by first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the national flag and made a historic speech ‘tryst with destiny’. India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day and the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoisted the national flag.

On this day the Red Fort turned into a high security zone and even birds will think twice to fly over this place. Red Fort unique structure and stands tall reminding Delhi’s rich history and very appropriate place for this great function. The whole area including Jamma Masjid and Chandini chowk gives a perfect ambiance to the function.

Soldiers from Army, Air Force and Navy, NCC cadets and school children in tricolour dress add glory to the whole atmosphere. It is high tradition that all the former Prime Ministers, Ministers, opposition leaders,top bureaucrats  attend the function without fail. We can see the flourishing Indian democracy here.

When Prime Minister after his address mingled with the school children by breaking the protocol, I can see the excitement in the eyes of the young buds.

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Kill the small screen

hulu-msg-theaterI am sure you all will agree that our life was far better when we had only a ‘Big Screen’ in our life. We go to movie theater occasionally may be once or twice in a month with our family.

It was just like a festival for us.  We analyze, criticize and discuss in threadbare and also we wish to recreate our own version of the movie. The effect of the movie always lingering in our mind for a long time.

The day the small screen called TV  attacked our home the enjoyment we derived from big screen came to an end.We become addicted to the small screen that killed all our out door activities and we have become couch potato.

We lost our creative ability, imagination and analytical mind as we are being fed with illogical, uninspiring content everyday. There are lot of movies being telecast but it never gives a thrilling enjoyment.

The attack of smart phones in our home further deteriorated the atmosphere.  Smartphones reduced the human beings to  ‘virtual beings’. The present generation of children never go out to play and  the pity is that they don’t even know what is called the ‘outdoor games’.

The small screen completely stopped the interaction of the family members as they always interested in virtual relationship. They are too much addicted to the small screen and tempted to see the screen every two minutes.

It is not only affecting their eye sight but also their concentration. To rescue the human beings , I wish to kill the ‘small screen’  !

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Trip to North East, India

elephant falls shillong_Main_800When I decided to visit North-East of India in Apr 2009, I had a lot of apprehensions in my mind due to our pre-conceived notion arising out of adverse media reports about North East. Yet I was so determined to visit as I felt that it was a god sent opportunity. To add fuel to my apprehensions, a bomb blast incident took place at Guwahati just one day prior to our departure. But it never deterred our enthusiasm and we boarded the Air India flight as per the schedule. It was a morning flight from Delhi. Air India served us a hot and delicious breakfast. While relishing the breakfast, we had an opportunity to see the aerial view of beautiful tea gardens of Bagdogra where our flight landed on our way to Guwahati. When we reached Guwahati airport, a cool breeze welcomed us. On the way to our Guest House, we were passing through beautiful buildings of the city. We were able to spot Guwahati University, High Court and other important landmarks of the city. Finally, we reached the famous Kamakhya temple. We were stunned to see the huge crowd standing on the queue to pay their obeisance to God. What we really surprised that the previous day bomb blast never had any impact on the life of Guwahati citizens as the whole city looked as usual as any other normal day.

Next day early morning we proceeded to Shillong. Our journey from Guwahati to Shillong was not only memorable but also a feast to the eyes. When we reached Shillong, we were completely awestruck over the beauty of Shillong. Its unique buildings, neat and clean roads, people with colourful attire added more beauty to the city. Initially we had difficulty in pronouncing the names of the roads of Shillong as it all resemble Chinese names. On our sight seeing trip, from Shillong peak we could able to see the whole city of Shillong. It was a breathtaking experience. Elephant falls not only enthralled us by its beauty but also its serene surroundings. We felt fresh and got rejuvenated after our boating at the most beautiful Wards Lake. Musical fountain at this place was simply superb. I was amazed to see 18 holes Golf Course the biggest Golf Course in Asia. I became spellbound over its lush green lawns. Our only disappointment in Shillong was that I could not able to see the famous Don Bosco Museum as it was closed due to Easter holidays. The climate of Shillong really soothed both my mind and body.

After my sight seeing trip to Shillong, I proceeded to our dream destination. Yes it was Cheerapunji, the wettest place on earth (this record has now been snatched away by a village called Mawsynram just 10 kms away from Cherrapunji). I joined with a conducted tour to Cheerapunji in a Meghalaya Transport Corporation Bus. The moment we boarded the bus, the guide welcomed us and started briefing us about the significance of Cheerapunji in tolerable English. After his briefing, we really got exited to see our dream destination. Cherrapunji is full of huge mountains, beautiful valleys and pleasing water falls. Certainly it is the most picturesque place we have ever visited. Noh-ka-Likai falls was an absolute beauty. We could not take our eyes away from it as long as we stand there. Gushing sound of water and reflection of rainbow at the end still lingering in our mind. It was really a scenic beauty and worth to watch. If you are bit adventurous you can visit Mawsmai caves. You may underestimate its deepness while entering the cave. Before coming out of the caves, you would miss few heart beats on the way. We were completely excited to see the seven sisters where seven water falls appeared in a row. We could not believe our eyes as we witnessed the Bangaldesh border from Cherrapunji. It was really a life time opportunity.

I enjoyed the whole trip. It is really a lovely place and it was one of my best holidays which I will remember for ever.

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My first encounter with Winter

652039-delhi-fog-1 Since winter is fast approaching in Delhi, it brought me back the memories of my first winter in Delhi. When I came to Delhi  I knew nothing about the season called ‘winter’ as I belong to South India, where the climate is hot, hotter and hottest. When everybody talk about winter, I thought that they are just exaggerating the things.

One morning in the first week of December, when I woke up at around 6 a.m,  I just pushed the window screen to get the outside view and also sun light as I usually do. The moment I pushed the screen, I saw a white wall. I could not believe my eyes. Even balcony of my flat was not visible.  I immediately rushed to the main door of my flat and opened the door. What a beauty ! The whole area covered with heavy fog  and wherever I look I could see only white, white everywhere. It looked as if Delhi is wrapped with a white envelope. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and started walking into the fog. While walking I could not see who is coming in the opposite direction. I could not even presume whether it is a human being or an animal.  White fog coming out of my mouth and nose. It looked as if everybody is smoking. It was really a funny sight.

You feel more energetic during winter.  It is time to get more green vegetables and relishing fresh fruits.  It is the best time to roam around Delhi and enjoy its beauty. No matter how long you travel, walk you never get exhausted. That is the beauty of Delhi’s winter.

Winter is the best thing that could happen to Delhi. It looks afresh durng winter. Suddenly people of Delhi appear rich with their winter clothing like sweaters, scarfs, overcoats and caps. During this season, it is very difficult to differentiate between an officer and  peon in offices by their appearance. Children become so cute with their winter attire. It is really feast to your eyes when you see them walk in groups while going to school in the morning.

Quilt is the one of the greatest invention to tackle winter. This I have realised after experiencing the Delhi’s winter. Once you are inside your quilt, you would forget about the temperature outside. Nobody would like to come out of their quilt. Once you come out you feel as if you have come out from heaven to hell.

It is the time Delhi used to become so vibrant with lot of activities. It hosts plenty of sports and  international events.  Winter has always boost the tourism industry as many foreigners visit Delhi during this season. There was a saying that Delhites need not go to any hill station as the hills visits them every year.  What an apt statement !

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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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