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Thursday, May 14, 2015


Long serpentine queue. Sweaty and hot weather. Weird, light-headed feeling of a tonsured head.The joy of wearing a new dress.( I still remember the colour of my silk skirt a mauve one with a dark blue border, a gift from my maternal grandpa for my first tonsure.) All the while holding on to my mother as tightly as possible.

The pitch and tempo of the chants increased as we neared the sanctum sanctorium.That's when the push came to being-pulled-out by my parents. I realised I had missed seeing Lord Balaji, distracted in trying to figure out if it was "Jaragandi" or: Jagarandi", so that I could chant along.

Yes. I thought "jaragandi" was the chanting mantra for Lord Balaji until someone enlightened  me that it  meant " Move " and at Tirupathi it  literally meant "move forward.". It could well be a befitting mantra for life.
Several years and several trips later now I exactly know where to look for that brief glance of a "darshan " in all his glory.

The recent trip, being the first with my grown up kids proved to be a breeze compared to the ones with them as infants, toddlers loaded with input and output paraphernalia. I mean the diapers and baby food.

We had a smooth and safe journey, and the darshan was over within an hour in a fast moving but long queue.It is a matter of metro Karma that we took more than two hours to reach home from Old Madras Road at Bangalore returning from Tirupathi.

Magnificent temple. Awestruck by the way they manage the crowds and maintain a good standard of cleanliness, next only to godliness. 
One cannot miss the facilities that are being continuously enhanced for the sake of devotees every now and then.Air-conditioning at many stretches of the queue, clean drinking water, steady supply of buttermilk by Tirumala Dairy and comfort zones all along the queue.

I still remember my son asking us a few years back at a temple if what we are paying for special darshan is akin to a bribe. While we reasoned with him that it is an accounted transaction and as such not.
The unaffordability of a premium by several other devotees for a special darshan, in this case, a quicker one, tugs at my heart always.But we moved on with the Indian apathy, as I like to call it.

I hope and pray for a fully automated travelator system in the years to come towards a guilt-free single queue.

Our guide from APTDC only added more zing to the trip with his linguistic talents.
I was born and brought up in Madras ( now Chennai). Having lived in Bombay ( now Mumbai), Bangalore( Now Bengalooru)  and Hyderabad, I could perfectly understand his confusions, I mean conversations.
"Nimage Extra Ladoo prasadam kavalante, mujhe Cheppandi", which translates to " If any of you would like to have extra Prasadam, do let me know ."
Tamizh, Telugu, Hindi, English and Kannada all in a sentence. Multi-lingual, literally.

AndhraPradesh Tourism Development Corporation and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation are easily one of the best modes to Tirupathi. Especially if you are short on time .Ensures luxurious travel with excellent customer care and service and assured fast darshan as they have a daily quota for special darshan.
After a hearty darshan that lasted a  full 30-40 seconds, tummy and mouth full with the Prasadam we marched out triumphantly while admiring hundreds of tonsured beauties.A clean shaven head must be quite liberating, and some of the women  who had tonsured, looked stunning,

One never gets to see the full temple layout or the big picture of the temple, and that is my only regret.All I can think of are the long queues and a hurried darshan and forgetting what I wanted to pray for.
Thanjavur Brahadeeswarar temple still offers that big picture. More about that in my next post.
And here is a bonus piece for those who patiently read this! A collection of short stories by writer.Sujata .
The fifth story is about T'mala or Tirumala one of his earliest sci-fi.
Enjoy .

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Spectral reflections ...

Train journeys. Especially during the  daytime.Window seat at that. A very rare occurrence as our brats  start the war  over the single window seat hours before the journey.Life along the railway lines is intriguing and interesting too. The chintzy coloured homes, particularly near the stations make me sit up. 

Train .Daytime. Window seat. No one to disturb.

The thought of not having to stick my neck out to see the passing by sights was so calming. 

Here are some colourful colonies that I clicked from a moving train during one such  escapade.




Two tone







Water colours .Loved it .

Enshrouded hues


Green and blue ,Water colours again 


All in one 

Apparently Red is the only colour which has a distinct name for its tint - Pink.


 I would never dream of painting my home in any of these colours, but I must admit these homes look so charming from a moving train.

Here are a few more clicks for which I ran out of  colour adjectives 


Colour , Colour ,what colour do you choose ?!

Monday, October 28, 2013


We are no exception . As a family we love travelling .  We love the planning process which invariably leaves at least one ( actually make it 4! ) of us  getting upset about the choice of place , the mode of travel or the itinerary . One leaving the room angrily . And the other just taking the golden opportunity for a power Nap. Two more seizing the opportunity to watch Television. All your guesses about "who is who ?" is right.

While I and my DH love visiting old , heritage Temple sites   ( not in the least out of any religious inclination ..lest you get the wrong idea. ).

My daughter loves places where there is scope for getting her mom killed by just looking at her indulge in adventure sports . Or a place which has Animals . Nothing much actually .. A cow that can be milked , A Peacock that can be fed , A Deer that can be endeared ...or at least a Dog or a Cat or a Sheep or a Lamb. Or may be an  Aviary . If nothing else , at least a  Python that can be worn as a garland .

"Don't worry Shakthi , there will be lot of rats and roaches  in the place where we plan to stay"..
 That is Sashvat  who manages to stay alive and in one piece after his punch lines .

My son loves any place which has a museum , (Science museums in particular- Old dingy ,dark places  with rickety stairs ,where nothing works according to Shakti . ) or any place which has scope for water sports or biking and that serves Dhal and Rice . Cant live without his Rice and rides .

See how complex it is right from the planning stage ? Which is why we end up in our favorite corners at home and into our elements . PSP , DS , Lappie , or a book .   I go on hartal and down the shutters of the Kitchen . Why miss a golden opportunity ?!

We do  strike a deal at times  and actually get going .  One of their choice and one of ours . If there is scope only for one holiday in that year ,  Its obviously our choice . ( I will be using "ours " loosely to mean "my " in the coming pages ).

Ah ! Like most Indians we are a confused lot when it comes to vacationing /holidaying - for  sight seeing or relaxing ?? 

Lets say away from home .

Only when we do road trips there is no such confusion as DH  just hits the sack after the long drive and gets up just the morning before we need to leave .  Kids end up watching 24/7 TV (why miss the golden opportunity ? Their turn now ) while I curse myself for not carrying a book in my attempt to travel light . Out of sheer lack of choice , I end up devouring  deep fried delicacies and drown my sorrows with degree kaapi.

We all love him .He loves driving . We don't love ( him ) driving .

Met an Australian couple once who said they were on a Book reading holiday . The very thought of such a holiday is  as far as the Kangaroo land to me .

But someday I will do a "book reading Holiday " . And Blog about it . May be a new blog ? Just for Book reviews !  Don't know about you all , but I cant wait !

In the rare event that we actually get going and  try to fit in the  many things to make  everyone happy ..This is my standard dialogue on arrival back home . 

"I am So tired ! need a vacation " .

I don't even have to say it nowadays .One of  my  beloved family members  mimic me.

But all this hasn't stopped us from planning , cancelling , rescheduling and sometimes  by streaks of good luck actually making it to places as planned .

YATRA ! is my new blog about all such travails and trivia.

The good news is , It is a photo blog with very little or no narration .

Not planning to follow any chronological order . It is going to be based on the set of photographs that are easily available .

So , Watch this space or block this page as you wish . Either ways you cant blame me for not warning .

My YATRA begins thus ...