About the Blog

This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

November 24, 2012

Cast Away

"When a big tree falls, the earth shakes" so commented a politician after the death of a former prime minister in 1984. Worst still he was using this phrase to explain the situation of violence against the Sikhs that ensued. Cut the scene 30 years later and nothing much has changed, except that new phrases have come in popular lexicon. Something like ‘Mango people in Banana republic’. Politicians however have remained the same, some morphing into rabid regional chieftains in this period.

So when these local trees, with public profiles as large as General Sherman tree fall, you can be assured of only one thing. The ground rattles, the dust rises and the surroundings cower in fear. It doesn’t matter whether the tree fell due to a natural death or someone sawed it. That’s the law of Nature, they say.

Last week I was in Mumbai and went through a harrowing time because one such large tree fell. The large metropolis that throbs with life 24/7 simply folded up like a Venus flytrap . All the hotels & business establishments downed shutters and the hawkers and roadside vendors simply vanished as the news of death flashed.

Many thoughts and emotions crossed my mind, for once I felt like Chuck Noland in Cast away i.e., marooned in a lonely island with the prospect of living on only air & water for the next 2 days. Staying with a good old friend (who was away) in his bachelor apartment on the Jogeshwari link road proved a costly proposition. It was cozily close to my area of work but the timing of visit seemed to have boomeranged.

A few hours into this piquant situation, I made a recce of the surrounding few blocks to see & salvage whatever was available. Empty streets with stray dogs & cattle greeted me, the tension & fear in the air was palpable. And my stomach was already growling at the prospect of a cold night on an empty stomach.

Just as I was returning to the flat dejected, the watchman at the entrance of the Building asked  “Kuchh nahin mila kya ”? As I nodded in despair, this 50 something person took some mercy on me & whipped out his pocket book. The guy had a decent demeanor and looked like someone who was doing odd jobs after retirement. He asked me to dial out a number and then picked my mobile and spoke in chaste Marathi to check whether the ‘Dabba’ services was still available.

To my relief it was still on. Some enterprising lady in a neighboring apartment, who worked in a bank I was told, was still continuing with her services. The nature of her service & the fact that I was almost next door helped. Sure enough the carrier arrived an hour later with 4 chapatis, 2 Sabzis, Rice & Dal, all at an economical Fifty rupees.

After the watchman placed the order I thanked him in Marathi and gave him a tip. He accepted my offer but continued the conversation in Hindi. After a pause I asked his whereabouts & learnt that he was a Gujarati. The true spirit of Mumbai once again overwhelmed me.

November 1, 2012

City Bang Bang

Consider the activity that characterizes a Big city at any moment. Apartment clusters hum with life, large Malls & Shopping Complexes churn, small businesses ship products, people are eating at every conceivable outlet even on makeshift pavement, large open sewer lines direct waste. All across a 25 Km radius, police chase criminals, handshakes secure deals, lovers rendezvous, teachers profess, patients await treatment in Hospitals and children attend schools ; all this while a huge pileup of the byproduct happens - huge mounds of Garbage!

And when the city is unable to dispose it off, the result is akin to a patient in ICU on dialysis. Bangalore city is going through the throes of such a crisis at the moment. It badly needs a dialysis and its nowhere in sight. Yesterday it rained copiously throughout the day, thanks to cyclone Nilam and the traffic also piled up like the garbage on its roads. A perfectly miserable day of outing for its commuters.

Yet as this happens nothing seems to suggest this is going to change soon; a slumbering civic body, indifferent masses, a Govt squabbling within itself . Nobody seems to care how much of Garbage is being produced & packed away; that of course until it ends up in their backyard.

As though this is not enough another thing occupies the mind space at the moment. I would certainly want to know the details of the food supply chain to the city - how the Chickens around the city especially Hesarghatta area are eating & how many are being eaten (by the Bird flu).

October 18, 2012

Romney : a good run for Obama’s money

So Mitt Romney comes to the fore. The two presidential debates have gone a round each, Obama pulling it back in the New York round. Unlike Obama, Romney did not appear relaxed here, seemed too eager to pull the punches on his opponent. He came across as someone trying too hard to woo the middle class Americans. He may be right if anti incumbency, something which makes Indian voters frequently exercise, happens in America too . As a shrewd politician he probably hinges his bet on the frustration & pent up anger of the vast majority of Americans who are reeling under high unemployment rates coupled with rising cost of living.

The debate was intense in parts, akin to two heavyweights going at each other. While Romney kept on charging like Joe Fraser, Obama was nimble footed and dodged like a Butterfly a la Ali. The round went to Obama in as much as Romney’s failure in convincing the audience on 3 counts

1. Tackling the Energy issue
2. Balancing the Budget
3. Countering China

Romney kept on harping on utilizing unused Federal lands for Oil prospecting & laying some Pipline across Canada. Obama on the other hand conveyed a longer mature vision on energy security with emphasis on new energy sources coupled with efficiencies in consumption. On the second issue Romney was all over the place with his numbers & as the moderator summed it up ‘ the math did not add up’ in his case. On China Romney was belligerent & blamed china for manipulating the currency and gaining unfair trade advantage (which is true) but Obama handled this issue tactfully while Romney came across as someone too eager to go at China’s throat.

All in all there seems to be a interesting battle on hand this time around . Romney may not have the polish & oratory skills of Obama but he is certainly up there in terms of connecting with his audience. And unlike earlier presidential challengers Romney does not appear too stony, aloof & caricature like (John Kerry) nor dull and staid ( like McCain). He seems to connect with the audience, his persona seems right from a Hollywood stable like Independence day which in the end may be that little extra to push him across the finish line. .

October 2, 2012

BAP & the cradle of temple architecture in India

BAP stands here for the trilogy BADAMI-AIHOLE-PATTADKAL which I visited recently. It was doubly special from me in another sense; I was born here in Bagalkot 41 summers ago in the now district Govt hospital where my mother served as lady medical officer. The best thing about this trip was it made me realize the historical significance of this place & the enormous treasure trove of its cultural heritage. It also in a way reset my perspective on History and made me wonder how underrated this place was especially vis-à-vis Hampi (of Vijayanagar empire fame)

Chalukya had been another word for the express train that runs between Bangalore & Mumbai . Little did I realize the significance of this major dynasty who dominated this part of the country from the 5th century to 8th Century & after a brief lull right upto 12th Century BC.

The landscape here is marked by red sandstone hills with steep cliffs criss-crossing flat fertile land mostly of black soil which can bake upto 42 degree during summer . These hills lined one side of the motorable road as I drove down from Belgaum which lies towards the west (about 160 Kms away). Like the Grand Canyons these rock formations present a picturesque view and wherever they came under the chisel of the master Chalukyan craftsmen the result went simply awe inspiring.


At Badami a set of caves emerge out of a monolithic single stone reminding me of Al Khazneh of the ancient Jordanian city of Petra . There is something remarkable about these reddish gold sand stones; they still provide a rich amber glow to the pristine stone carvings and yet speak of thousand plus years of vintage. They are still magnificent enough to drown & diminish the defacing suffered at the hands of the marauding invaders (native rival neighboring kingdoms of that time I suppose). Even the famed Ajantha caves came up 400 years later & were in much better shape as they were hidden in Jungles for centuries until stumbled upon by an English explorer.

Around 30 Kms away from Badami is Aihole , a place which is aptly described as the laboratory for architecture rather a university of Indian architecture. At a time when the world was emerging out of the early medieval ages, the craftsmen here were experimenting with the Northern Nagara and Southern Dravida styles of temple construction. These 2 temple architectures which evolved between 5th & 7th Century had clear distinctions in dome (shikhara) formation, ground plan, selection & positioning of stone carved deities on the outside walls and the interior, and the range of decorative elements. The Nagara style from the North & Dravida in south came together in a melting pot here. 

And the chalukyan craftsmen did not experiment in mere tinkering but full throttle innovations. The Durgi gudi (Durga Temple) is a poignant majestic proof of that effort. To get a sense of this period (early medieval period) Roman temples were being converted into Christian churches in Europe while the Cahokia people, the most advanced of the plains people in North America were building earthen mound structures, Islamic architecture was just taking roots. 


Pattadakal (coronation stones roughly translated into Kannada) is truly the crowning glory in every sense because not just that the Chalukya kings made it a point to be crowned here but also evolution of Hindu temple architecture that began in Badami and Aihole culminated in the magnificent temples here. They mark the final phase of development of Hindu temple architecture; a synthesis of the North & South Indian style mentioned earlier.

Popular perception always puts Hampi in the limelight of civilizational’s achievement, its temple grandeur is the poster boy of tourism. Yet I cannot help but believe that Hampi should always be under the shadow of its more illustrious predecessor & neighbor - The BAP , 600 years its senior and where it all began in temple architecture & grandeur .

Feedburner Count