31 July 2006

Bombay visit (more like a Bombay Dream)

As I land in Mumbai after more than a year and looked out my flight window it struck me – How much I really missed this amazing city!

Though the image what I saw could be simply explained as Horrific by someone who is visiting the city for the first time, but for me in all the informal mess lay a city like none other.

A few hours later once it sunk in and I was over the emotional high, I felt I like I had never been away. In my two days there I observed very few chances - hideous walls and security barricades around the famous Sidhivinayak Temple; few new shopping malls here and there –mostly the city was exactly the way I left it.

Since I was there for only the weekend the most primary aim was to meet as many people as possible and to use that excuse to visit as many places in the city as possible. So from the time I arrived till I left I was meeting people.

And I also managed to sneak in my favourite Sunday pastime when I lived here – Bird watching in the National Park – with a few friends from BNHS.

(Check out a fresh Leopard Pug Mark that I saw inside the Park on the Film city side.)

After which I met up with a few KRVIA people at the Kanheri Caves. Later met more people and before long it was time for me to bid farewell to the one place I truly feel is home beyond all other.

Mumbai – I’ll miss you.

I’ll also miss you guys and gals – Was great meeting you. Can’t wait to be back.

28 July 2006

Kerala Clichés

Spend the last week in Kerala. I find it very difficult to help my friends in Europe visualise what Kerala looks like and its is all about without the use of Clichés. In fact more and more I believe though we always criticize the cliché as reducing complex situations into highly simplistic images it is a very important tool to introduce people to new things. So at the risk of many fun of my self and my roots I have this time selected only the most clichéd images I took during my trip.

What better (or rather worse) image that the elephant along the road carrying stuff around?

(By the way to all those who don’t know - this is not a common sight in Kerala anymore, the expense of maintaining these beautiful beasts and ever increasing pressure from environmentalist are making this a rarity).

Actually I should have started with the lower image. Any highway in Kerala looks like this. The whole state sits on the extreme southern tip of India on what can be considered its more fertile side (the west side). Because of the amazing rainfall it gets and its fertility the entire landscape is made up mainly of shades of green no matter when you go there. And as you can see Coconut trees really make up for a large majority of the greenery.

Because of this beautiful and rich landscape the distinction of cities versus countryside doesn’t clearly exists in the traditional sense of it. In fact the whole state can be seen as a sprawling city or you could say that here there is neither an idea of Rural nor Urban. But whatever little Urbanity there is exists in typical Indian small town chaotic Urbanity. Largely made of highly fractured or unplanned settlement growing around some kind of infrastructural hub.

To explain this phenomenon below is an image from a small town just outside Cochin. But as far as this argument goes this could be anywhere in Kerala.

And then ofcourse there is the image that the tourism industry wants to sell – that of pristine beauty, man co-existing with Nature – as the tag line of Kerala says as ‘God’s own Country’. Though I wonder which God would actually be happy here, I have to say that the state has its own charm and is definitely worthy of its place in the National Geographic ‘10 place you must see before you die’ list.

Here’s to this spirit of Kerala – the Arabian Sea / Indian Ocean as seen from the coast of Kannur.

And for the end I save the picture that I would show if somebody asked me to ‘Explain contemporary Kerala in ONE image’.

The image is of the Cochin Airport [Probably the busiest airport in Kerala]. It show glimpses of some her main source of income – Agriculture [the vast fields (generally its paddy) and coconut plantation in the backdrop], Tourism [people from all over the world fly into Cochin] and last but not the least Kerala’s dependence on what we call ‘Gulf-Money*’ in this case coming straight from Dubai on an Emirates Airlines sitting between the beautiful greenery.

*- Money flowing in from expatriates working in the Middle East, a huge percentage of the people here either have some relatives there or indirectly benefit from the large presence of Keralites in the Arabian Gulf. Including yours truly – born in Kerala, bought up and spoiled in Dubai.

10 July 2006

Weekend in the Dunes

Had a very pleasant weekend on Texel (the biggest island in the north-west coast of the Netherlands). Just wanted to share a few pictures of the Landscape.

Besides a few small villages and the amazing Dutch landscape around them, the main crowd puller for this cycleable tourist island is her beaches and beautiful Dune landscape all along her Western Coast.

02 July 2006


Yet another quick trip to London to catch up with Friends and Family.

Along with Pragya went to see an exhibition on Che Guevara titled – “Che Guevara:
Revolutionary & Icon”
at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Though it was a good collection of Products/Ads with Che in them I felt the exhibition could have been presented differently from the clichéd way in which we know of him.

Later that day while searching for a nice place to have dinner we* stumbled on this small housing colony very close to Covent Garden. Though bang in the centre of London once inside the Colony you were completely taken away from the noise and mess of the huge city around.

(Interesting the above project also reminded me a lot of my Aunt’s colony in Delhi designed by one the star Indian Architect of Post-Independent India – Raj Rewal. I had posted a snap from here earlier on this blog. Click HERE to see that entry.)
(* - Avani, Neha, Pragya and myself)

The great thing about be able to revisit big cities like London, Paris and Mumbai is the exhibitions that one can see there. And this time was no different so after the ‘Che’ exhibition at V and A, I managed to take a quick look at a very interesting exhibition on Architecture titled – Future City – at the Barbican Centre. The Barbican Centre itself is worth a trip by itself but the exhibition had an amazing collection of Architectural Projects and Utopias from over the years from all over the world. Indeed a very interesting exhibition (though they could have used a bigger space for such a large collection)

(Read more about this exhibition on the official gallery website – HERE, or you can download a brochure of the exhibition HERE it shows all the architecture movements covered in it)

And sort of the highlight of the trip – Wimbledon.

Wow, it was great to be able to see the real thing. Thanks to some great planning by ex-Wimbledon employee Amrita Ravimohan we had a great day at the All England Lawn Tennis Club and got to see some big stars play and that to for what I thought was a steal of a price. (Way to go girl !!)

And what was better was that my sister who had just flown in from Dubai the previous night was able to join us.

Here are some pictures that look like stuff you seen on your TV screens a lot of times (but what the hell I want to share my pics). And look who’s in the red box our very own Indian superstar – Sania Mirza – We love you Saniaaaaa…!!! (Check my old blog entry on Sania)

But like I said early the reason for this trip was to meet up with Friends and Family – In fact a new member of the Family – Fahad - my Nephew. Check out a few pics of him. I really hope that I can visit him quiet often, good thing I’m not too far from here.

A Google map tracing my travels across the globe

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  • In Red cities where I have lived (more than one month);
  • In Blue cities with entries on this blog;and
  • In Yellow cities with no entries yet.