Author Archives: Madhu

Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath April 18

Where The Wheel Of Dharma Was Set In Motion

She sat motionless facing the stupa, dwarfed by its giant proportions. The scaffolding encircling the sacred structure, providing a symbolic barrier against the world outside its perimeter. Her stillness and focus was fascinating, and magnified the contrast between this tranquil, spiritual retreat and the seething drama of life and death on the ghats of Varanasi, just ten kilometers South […]

“Rest In Peace, For The Error Shall Not Be Repeated”

– —– ———— ———— Related Links: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Website Weekly Photo Challenge – Monument Why? The Silence Of War

Oberoi Grand April 10

The Grand Dame Of Chowringhee

After expertly navigating the impossibly clogged route from the airport, our taxi coasted to a halt in front of a colonnaded arcade teeming with what seemed like half the population of Calcutta. “This can’t be it” I muttered to R in dismay, while he peered out with equal skepticism. Then a pair of wrought iron gates […]

Threshold, meiji Jingu Shrine April 05

Weekly Photo Challenge – Crossing Milestones

A literal as well as symbolic crossing of the threshold in the Meiji Jingu shrine, Tokyo. This little girl, in her traditional finery, is all set to mark a milestone at the Shichi-go-san, a coming of age ritual celebrated annually at Shinto shrines across Japan. More about it here. Thank you for visiting………..have a great weekend. Related articles: […]

Paris Street April 01

Les Rues De Paris

R is going to be away on an unexpected business trip to New Zealand at the end of next this month with colleagues, and having been given to understand in no uncertain terms that my accompanying him would be a distraction, I suddenly find myself with two weeks of free time and no real plans! The compulsive planner […]

Kolkata thumbnail March 28

Calcutta Street Scenes

No other Metropolitan city in India conjures up past urban memories quite like Calcutta does, its squalour and decay notwithstanding. Which makes for eminently fascinating walks through its distinctly dissonant neighbourhoods. Here are some (more!) evocative street scenes from the ‘City of Joy’ that was once upon a time, a ‘City of Palaces’! Early morning fog – The […]

Thumbnail 2 March 22

Reflections – 2013

I was surprised by how many architectural marvels I photographed last year, mirrored in reflection pools…….at least one from each of our 2013 destinations! You have seen the Paris reflections one too many times, so here are the rest, all from India: The Victoria Memorial, Kolkata — Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi — The Taj Mahal, […]

Thumbnail March 17

Echoes Of The Raj

“Oberoi Hotel, Jawaharlal Nehru Road”  we repeated helpfully, as our cab driver frowned at his job sheet. He bobbed his head vigourously in response, “Yes, yes, yes…..Grand Hotel, Chowringhee”!  Turned out they were one and the same, but this was the trend of our interactions with anyone we stopped to ask for directions in Calcutta. “Anandilal Poddar […]

Inside Thumbnail March 14

Inside The Healing Pillar In Nara

– Squeezing into the hole at the bottom of the massive ‘healing’ pillar in the Daibutsuden of the Todaiji  Temple, is said to guarantee your place in Heaven. I didn’t dare risk being stuck in limbo! ———– Related articles: The Daily Post WPC – Inside Weekly Photo Challenge – Renewal Weekly Photo Challenge  -Inside 2013-I […]

Perspective Thumbnail March 08

Weekly Photo Challenge – Perspective

— A masterpiece viewed from another point of view. Which perspective do you prefer? PS: In case you are wondering what happened to the moon in the earlier image, I erased it because it turned out blotchy! Related articles: Weekly Photo Challenge : Masterpiece Phra Buddhasaiyas In Perspective Weekly Photo Challenge – Culture Weekly Photo […]

Thumbnail March 07

A Graveyard Of Colonial Memories

Bitter memories of conquest and subjugation are most commonly expunged, post independence, by appropriating the edifices and symbols of a conquering power and imbuing them with national identity. Successive governments then milk political mileage by eradicating vestiges of colonial association from cities, streets. and maps.  Even in stubbornly resistant cities like Calcutta. But how does […]

Beng Mealea March 01

Forsaken & Forgotten…….

—- A forsaken Durga near Kumartuli……. —- And more subsumed stones from the magical lost temple of Beng Mealea.  —- Click on the images (&/or links) to read the full stories. Related articles: Weekly Photo challenge: Abandoned

Thumbnail February 24

Caught In The Act

You might have guessed by now how fond we are of exploring the streets and alleys of urban destinations on foot. By ourselves, or on guided walks led by locals in the know.There is no better way to connect to a city, than to get off the beaten path and watch real people, at work, […]

Weekly Photo Challenge – Threes

I take you back to Kashi with this gallery. And although I have a thing about reusing images that I have published before, I couldn’t think of a better choice for this weeks photo challenge. You can view the entire series (sound effects and all!) here. Happy travels………..no mater where life takes you.

Boat ride, Varanasi February 20

Surviving Kashi

I tried hard to like Varanasi. There is no doubt that the city – alternately referred to as Benaras or Kashi – is remarkable. In its geography, arrayed against the left bank of the sacred Ganges, as well as its fascinating history, woven with fantastic legends*. I am not sure how its claim to being […]

Thumbnail2 February 14

Chai On The Road

I confess to being a bit of a chai snob. Having consumed flavourful high grown Nilgiri tea at its source for decades, and brewed the propah English way, it would be an understatement to say I am picky about my tea. I detest the thick, sugary, milky cha/chai served in homes across India and when […]

Village Saint Paul, PAris February 01

Flea Market Finds

The Village Saint Paul is a block of medieval buildings in the historic Marais neighbourhood in Paris, sandwiched between Rue Saint-Paul and Rue des Jardin Saint-Paul. It is a lovely tranquil space to while away a lazy weekend afternoon if you are in the vicinity, rummaging through antique and second hand stalls. The weekly Brocante […]

DSC_9770 copy 2 January 29

Art Inspired By Faith

From dust to dust. Or in this case from the clay dredged from the bottom of the holy Ganges, and back to its murky depths. The journey of Goddess Durga, believed to be her annual sojourn in her maternal home, is a metaphor for impermanence and temporality. Of all life. But also, in the sacred ritual that […]

DSC_2542 copy 1 January 25

Oddly Juxtaposed

The integrity and identity of historic urban spaces the world over, is under threat from unbridled growth and global integration.  Especially in third world countries, where cultural heritage takes a back seat to new found aspirations of development & progress, despite the efforts of conservation groups. But when managed sensitively, it is the very contradictions […]

Family - Meiji Jingu Shrine January 18

Shichigosan At Meiji Jingu

On a Sunday closest to November 15, considered the most auspicious day in the Japanese calender, families descend on Shinto shrines across Japan, to celebrate a rite of passage called Shichi-go-san. The name literally translates to ‘Seven-Five-Three’, indicating a medieval tradition among aristocratic/Samurai families that stipulated that boys and girl stopped getting their hair shaved when they turned three, that boys aged five […]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA January 16

Weekly Photo Challenge – Window

Windows are certainly fascinating. Looking out into fabulous vistas or looking into hauntingly framed fragments of life. Ancient or Modern. Faux or real. Open or closed. Their mysterious, weathered shutters hiding a myriad untold stories. Some, bleached blue, triggering evocative memories of good times in faraway lands. Here is a sampling from my recent travel […]

Thumbnail January 03

Dare We Hope?

Change is in the air. Like a feel good movie script playing out before our eyes, our nation has been witnessing the impossible feat of a motley bunch of politically naive, well-intentioned, ‘ordinary’ people, overturning all poll predictions and winning enough seats in the Delhi assembly elections to oust the long (15 years!) reigning chief minister! […]

DSC_9250 copy December 31

Melancholy Reflections…..

I had meant this to be a gallery of vibrant reflections, one from each of our 2013 travel destinations. A year end review, and a celebration of my urge to wander.   But the shocking demise of my sister’s daughter in law – a beautiful, vivacious, happy go lucky and heartbreakingly young mother of a two […]

Joy copy December 28

Weekly Photo Challenge – Joy

A proud new father at the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo……  and closer to home, two very happy boys :-) Hope your weekend is just as joyous! Related articles: Weekly Photo Challenge – Joy

Header December 26

Festive Cheer From The City Of Joy!

Wishing you many reasons for happiness this holiday season,  and throughout the coming year. And oh yes…..happy travels, no matter where life takes you :-)

DSC_7689 copy December 23

Framed Stories

There are times when a passing glimpse through a window or on a street corner, that I didn’t pay much attention to at the time, sticks with me longer than any travel memory. A poignant scene, a mysterious face, those fleeting fragments of life, that register in my subconscious and return to haunt me. And […]

Holy Cow!

While we do have cows on our roads in Chennai, the numbers in the smaller towns in North India seem to exceed their human population! Mathura and Vrindavan, not surprisingly, being the towns associated with the cow herd God, Krishna, were over run by cattle. I had to leave my camera in the car when […]

Hauz Khas - New delhi December 19

“Dog, I Shall Drink Your Blood!” – Hauz Khas Kitsch!

No, I haven’t turned into a canine hunting vampire overnight! The title is the literal translation of a quintessential Bollywood quote from a 1973 Hindi flick, that has become synonymous with its aging, macho, once dashing, still endearing star. ‘Dog’ in this instance refers to the vile villain, who is about to have the %#&* beaten […]

Old Delhi December 17

Delving Into Delirium!

Getting to Chandni Chowk, for our tour with Delhi Heritage Walks was hard work that Monday afternoon.  First a purported three minute walk to the subway station ended up being ten, I am guessing, because we neglected to specify the name of the station! Once there (Janpat), we found every ticket vending machine out of order, […]

Community - Allee des Justes Header copy December 14

Weekly Photo Challenge – Community

A 60 metre stretch of road bordering the Shoah Memorial, in the Marais, once known as the Rue Grenier sur l’Eau, renamed ‘Allée des Justes‘ in June 2006, in tribute to those that did not forget the meaning of community. A pity our supreme court did. Check out more interpretations of community here PS: I […]

DSC_2022 copy 3 December 12

Power Nap!

No history lesson today. Just my envy of those that can grab a quick shut eye, any time, anywhere! I can never sleep during the day. Except when I am in a moving vehicle. Then I slide into deep slumber. Carcolepsy, I believe that is called! Doesn’t kick in when I am behind the wheel […]

Kiyomizu Dera December 09

The Temple Of Pure Water

A grand viewing deck to commune with nature. That is the principal attraction of Kiyomizu-dera (Clear Water Temple), a Buddhist shrine near Kyoto, founded in 798 AD, whose main hall is dedicated to the eleven headed, thousand armed Bodhisattva. Highly venerated for its wish granting abilities, and brought out for public viewing only a few times a […]

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham December 07

The Gilded Bas Relief Of Wat Mai

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham on Sisavangvong street, was once the principle royal monastery, the residence of the chief Laotian Buddhist dignitary (Phra Sangkharat), and the repository of the 33″ high, gold alloy Buddha icon (Phra Bang), that Laung Prabang derives its name from. It also once held the famed Emerald Buddha, that was moved to Vientiane, before being carted […]

Egyptian Antiquities Louvre Header December 06

A Passion For Egypt

Plundered art and antiques, should rightfully be returned to their countries of origin and displayed in situ. So I believed, very passionately, until I learned of the burning of the Institute d’Egypte, near Tahrir square in Cairo, in December 2011. And of the destruction of almost all the precious manuscripts it contained. Among them, it […]

Just Google It!

From a travel perspective, the increased reach of internet connectivity has no doubt robbed travel agents of many commission dollars – our agent has point blank refused to help with visas alone, ever since we started booking flights and hotels online – while it has opened up untold opportunities to the independent traveler. With access […]

Metro Station Cité - Paris November 30

Weekly Photo Challenge – Que La Lumière Soit!

No prizes for guessing where I am taking you today :-) Wishing you much love, laughter and light this holiday season! Related articles: The Daily Post Weekly Challenge- Let There be Light! The Light Of Faith – Ganga Aarti in Varanasi Weekly Photo Challenge – Masterpiece The Takayama Hachiman Matsuri More from Paris  

DSC_5362 November 28

Vanishing Wells!

The unique stepwells of India, called Baoli’s (or Vavs in Gujurat), are ornate, complex structures that are legacies of the subcontinent’s ancient hydraulic engineering systems.  Along the way those vital water harvesting and storing skills were abandoned, and the wells dried up and silted over, and ended up as giant garbage dumps. It is astonishing how […]

Recoleta cemetery, Buenos Aires November 28

The Elitist Cemetery Of Recoleta

At the end of calle Junin, behind a restored neoclassical portal supported by four tall Doric columns, is the repository of the collective history, heritage and memories of the city of Buenos Aires. The last landscape of its founding fathers. A city of the dead. Built in 1822 in the garden appropriated from the monks of the Order […]

rompe l'oeil windows- Paris November 23

Weekly Photo Challenge – Unexpected!

There is no saying what unexpected surprises await you on Paris street corners. Take a look at what I found at the intersection of Rue Aubry le Boucher and Rue Quincampoix, near the Centre Georges Pompidou! Thank you for visiting, and have a great weekend. Related articles: Dailypost Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected More posts from […]

DSC_5644 copy November 21

A Graceful Gathering…..

We stumbled upon this conclave of Indian Antelope (Black Buck), in the park around Akbar’s tomb in Sikandra. You have got to love those long twisted horns! I was particularly fascinated by the rapt attention the little white ‘guest speakers’ commanded! Wonder what they had to say that was so riveting? Some serious tips on […]

Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah November 20

The Incredible Destiny Of Mirza Ghiyas Beg!

R & I have had many turning points in our lives, those serendipitous moments when things could so easily have gone the other way. And we have often debated on whether these were mere co-incidences, or karmic interventions.  R believes in hard work and sagacity. I do too. I really do. But I am too much of […]

Pyramids Header November 17

Weekly Photo Challenge – Layers

The Great Pyramid of Khufu is devoid of any ornamentation or sculpted frieze, typical of later Egyptian tombs. Its elevation to – the oldest and only surviving – ‘Wonder of the Ancient World’ is based solely on its 210 (estimated original….now down to 201) layers of solid stone blocks, making it the largest pyramid ever […]

Orange-breasted Nuthatch - Chennai, India November 15

Look Who Strayed Into My Mango Tree!

I am not sure if this gorgeous orange-breasted Nuthatch I spied on ‘my’ mango tree, was just taking a break on his way someplace else, or if he will continue to grace us with his presence through the cooler season. I hope it will be the latter, and I will soon have a whole brood […]

Taj Mahal header November 11

The Simplicity Of Perfection!

How do I begin to define a structure that is more iconic brand, than historic monument? A name that instantly conjures up romance and grandeur, even when claimed by a humble tea stall, let alone some of the finest hotels and resorts? And whose Chinese made plastic likenesses, outnumber the citizens of this overpopulated land? The Taj Mahal, as […]

Weekly Photo Challenge – Habit

“Habit if not resisted, soon becomes necessity” ~ Augustine of Hippo These super duper filter coffee sachets even travel with me. What hope do I have? Related articles: Weekly Photo Challenge – Habit

Pigeon Header November 07

The Pigeon Feeder Of Rue Montorgueil

It was obvious the flock knew him well. They flapped around in frenzied anticipation and then swooped down to his feet in an impatient huddle. I hadn’t noticed the arrival of the bent old man with the beatific smile until then, intent as I was on collecting supplies for our picnic on the Seine. He dragged […]

Humayun header November 05

The Architecture Of Silence

“To the debate of wasps the dialectic of monkeys the chirping of statistics it offers              (tall pink flame               made of stone and air and birds               time in repose on water) the architecture of silence“ ~ Translation […]

Thimbnail2 November 02

The Light Of Faith

The crowded, choreographed, almost Bollywoodesque obeisance to the Ganga in Varanasi, is more spectacle than religious ritual. Performed daily at sunrise and sunset, the Ganga aarti was conceived by the savvy pujari (temple priest) Babu Maharaj in 1992, and it’s  popularity has spawned more such spectacles in other cities along the banks of India’s holiest […]

Eerie header November 02

Weekly Photo Challenge – Eerie

One of the eerie props from the children’s party in our daughter’s building. We quickly escaped the ghoulish entertainment, to the quiet of an old friend’s home! Happy Halloween! And have a great weekend.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,154 other followers