A morning at Marina Beach

The Guest Post Series onMy Favourite Thingshas contributions by those sharing my interests in travel, books, music, and on issues that I am passionate about. Though the guest posts are not always by fellow bloggers, the guest authors are always those who have interesting experiences to share.

Today’s guest post is by a fellow blogger, Puru of Shadows Galore, who writes about his travels, photographs, memories and more. I eagerly wait for Puru’s travel posts as he is always visiting and writing about places that I have wanted to visit. My favourites are his posts on Sri Lanka and Angkor Wat. His series on Learning Photography is simple, easy and with instructions that actually work. In this post, Puru presents a photo essay on a morning spent at the Marina Beach in Chennai.

My last few days in Chennai saw me exploring the city and going to places where I had always thought of going but never actually did. So today I went to Marina Beach, the third longest beach in the world and the largest in Asia. Of all the beaches in Chennai, it happens to be the most dynamic and hence the most well known.

So early at 4:30 AM, I woke up and started for the beach with my camera. It was quite dark yet and the horizon had just started turning a few shades lighter. As the sun rose, I took a lot of photographs and I am sharing some of them here for you:

A crow signals the day break

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Let’s have some humour, please

The Guest Post Series onMy Favourite Thingshas contributions by those sharing my interests in travel, books, music, and on issues that I am passionate about. These posts are not always by fellow bloggers, and the guest authors are always those who have interesting experiences to share.

Today’s guest post is by Srinayan, the infrequent blogger of The Random Walkaround. An engineer by profession, he took up blogging a little over a year ago and writes on many topics, but always with sensitive insight and understated humour. Srinayan, however, prefers to be known as a lethargic blogger who is long on intent, but somehow falls short on delivery. That is probably why I have given up on waiting for an original guest post from him and, instead, am re-posting one of his old posts. A post that I liked very much, and a post that is quite relevant for our times.

We are living in a terrible world and doomsday is just around the corner; or so we are led to believe by television, newspapers, the internet and all other oracles of wisdom. Nothing seems to going to right for humanity—Greece, the Euro crisis, Wall Street, US debt, climate change, rogue states, etc. Closer home we have inflation, falling stock markets, the Lokpal Bill, 2G and scams of every kind and size. The list is ever growing; you only have to add your pet angst to it.

Whatever happened to that wonderful therapeutic called humour? I don’t mean the stand up comic type which is in vogue today; rather, the sly poke in the ribs that reminds us that, even if all is not well with the world, we are doing fine and having a good laugh about it.

Welcome to The Little World of Don Camillo.

In the context of its time, post-World War II Europe was just as insecure and dangerous as the world is today. While the common folk grappled with economic hardship, their political leadership was preoccupied with ideological realignments or preventing them. As a farcical consequence, depending on your leanings, all problems owed their roots to communism or opposition to it. Black couldn’t get blacker and white, whiter.

The absurdity of the situation was too much for an Italian called Giovanni Guareschi. He reacted by creating two characters, a priest named Don Camillo and his communist adversary, Peppone, in a village in the Po river valley in Northern Italy. The battle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was truly joined and the several comic confrontation between the two reflected the pointlessness of the discourse of the time.

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That trip to Greece !

The Guest Post Series on “My Favourite Things” has contributions by those sharing my interests in travel, books, music, and on issues that I am passionate about. These posts are not always by fellow bloggers, and the guest authors are always those who have interesting experiences to share.

Today’s guest post is by Aditi, who writes about a trip she made to Greece last summer. At that time, she was on a year-long stay in Belgium as a Rotary exchange student from India, and the Greece trip was one of the many organised by the Rotary Club for exchange students in Belgium. These days, Aditi is eagerly waiting to turn 18 and travel to see the Taj Mahal. These days she also prefers not to think about her 12th Std. results which will be declared in a month or so.

Flashback to April 2011. Tenth of April 2011 to be precise.

My bags were packed, my passport and Identity Card were safely put away in my purse. I hadn’t slept the previous night, and yet wasn’t the least bit tired as I was so excited. I was waiting in the living room, impatiently shaking my legs for my host mother to get ready. Why? Because she was going to drive me to Trois-Ponts railway station from where I would take the train to Liège station. And why was I going to Leige station? Because that’s where I was meeting all the Rotary exchange students. Why? Because we were all going on a trip to GREECE !

Did you think that we flew to Greece from Belgium? Actually, we didn’t. We took a bus. Yes, a double-decker bus and then a ship. The road part sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? And actually it was to begin with. But in hindsight it was worth it because all the Rotary exchange students got to bond with one other. And by the end of the trip, we had become the best of friends with each other. I was always happy to be with the other exchange students as I saw myself in all of them. I never thought of myself as just “Indian”. I was Indian, American, Canadian, Australian, Mexican, Venezuelan, Taiwanese, Japanese—all at the same time. And of course, Belgian. Even today, I have a bit of all these countries in me.

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Portrait of an artists’ community: The Dhrupad Gurukul

The Guest Post Series on “My Favourite Things” has contributions by those sharing my interests in travel, books, music, and on issues that I am passionate about. These posts are not always by fellow bloggers, and the authors are always those who have interesting experiences to share.

Today’s guest post is by Ajinkya, who writes about the challenges that the guru shishya parampara faces in contemporary times. He is a student of Dhrupad and learns at the Dhrupad Gurukul in Palaspe, Panvel. The Gurukul is run by the legendary vocalist, Ustad Zia Farid-uddin Dagar, and his illustrious rudra veena playing nephew, Bahauddin Dagar.

“Alap entails the search to get the most perfect pitch of every note….”
                                                               –  Ustad Zia Farid-uddin Dagar

It is 4:30 am.

The trucks low through the thick of an outskirt town’s sleepy oblivion. Somewhere, a chai wallah starts to wash his vessels and the clank of his kettle dissolves noiselessly into the tired rattle of bus tires and bumpers coughing though the dusty highway. Hidden away on the side of the road is a small cluster of houses lost somewhere in the limbo between Bombay cityscream and the undisturbed solace of Palaspe village. A tramp wraps his newspaper a little more tightly around his skeletal frame and huddles into a ball. Mosquitoes circle his body like vultures hankering for a dying man’s last sigh. The dim darklight of a morning taking angdai falls lazily on a dilapidated board saying “Dhrupad Gurukul”.

The D hangs half lit like a symptom of an era. The same old debates circling around the romance of a lost time and the preservation of an art come to one’s mind. Scratching away at the surface of recycled intellectual trash these irrelevant speculations are quickly forgotten as one approaches the gurukul.

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Rights vs. Rights: My first guest post

Zephyr is one blogger that I admire tremendously, I have never come away from her blog without getting some insight into an issue, a topic and even myself. So when she asked me to write a guest post for her, I was flattered. So flattered that I said yes. And then when I realised what I had said yes to, I panicked. How could I write as well as her? What could I write? Then the nail chewing began. Then excuses about a heavy workload were conveyed. Then request for additional time to write the post was submitted. 

Now, Zephyr is not known as the Cybernag without reason. She has perfected the art of nagging and after a month or so of gentle nagging, I was finally able to say yes again and not panic. I worked on a draft of a topic that I thought would be suitable for Zephyr’s blog and sent it off to her yesterday with a request for her to proofread (I am a very bad proofreader of my work) the article and for feedback. 

The positive feedback was conveyed yesterday evening and I am very excited now. The post, titled “Whose Right is it anyway” was published a short while back and suddenly I am a guest author ! Click on the screenshot below to read the full post.

http://cybernag.in/2012/02/whose-right-is-it-anyway/

Thank you so much Zephyr for publishing my post and for your … er… nagging 😀

Being a “Banu” in Bombay

Here’s introducing the Guest Post Series on “My Favourite Things”, which will have contributions by those sharing my interests, and writing about issues that I am passionate about. These guest posts will not necessarily be by fellow bloggers; they could be by anyone who has interesting experiences to share.

The first guest post on here is by Ashabanu, who writes about the prejudice and bias she has faced because of her name. Prejudice and bias in the supposedly liberal city of Bombay (or Mumbai, if you please).

“B…a…n…u”. This is the second part of my name, Ashabanu.

I never thought that part of my name will seek so much of attention in the city of Bombay (or Mumbai if you please), when I stepped into the city about 8 years back. This name of mine has never intrigued anyone in the small town I hail from, near Chennai, or in any of the places I have worked or studied in Tamil Nadu. However, it has puzzled almost everyone in Bombay. From the day I landed in Bombay, I have had to keep explaining the “Banu” part to people.

On my very first day at work in Bombay, a colleague asked me, “Oh…You are the Banu? Sorry I did not realise that, as we were expecting someone with a burkha.

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