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Friday, August 29, 2014

SKYWATCH FRIDAY



 SKY'S INFINITE PATTERNS



 ONE DAY DURING THE WEEK I WOKE UP EARLY  ON PURPOSE. AT 6'O CLOCK TO BE PRECISE. I WANTED TO CLICK THE SKY  AT THE TWILIGHT HOUR. HERE IS THE SKY AT THE FAINT HALF LIGHT WHEN THE SUN IS ON THE  WAY UP AND HAS NOT RISEN YET. SHOT FROM MY BALCONY.



THIS ONE I  CAPTURED WHEN THE SUN WAS SLOWLY GAINING HEIGHT IN THE EAST. ABOUT 8'0 CLOCK IN THE MORNING.

FRIENDS, WELCOME HERE AS ALWAYS.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

THURSDAY CHALLENGE


CLOUDS ON A BLUE SKY

THIS WEEK'S THEME IS:


               SKY (Birds, Winged insects, Kites, Frisbees, Balloons, Cloud,...)







I TRIED TO CAPTURE BIRDS OR WINGED INSECTS BUT FOUND THEM TOO FRISKY TO CAPTURE. SO MY CHOICE FELL ON CLOUDS. THIS IS A SHOT OF YESTERDAY'S EVENING SKY


FRIENDS,WELCOME HERE!




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

G IS FOR A GREEN BOOK





The green luster of stately pines captured at early morning today, from our balcony
 And that green open book for me is nature in all its magnificent manifestations. A book perennially juxtaposing change and consistency, to a perfectly orchestrated  paradigm set by some super power. How I love this precious book which  not only stands by  me in the darkest moments of life but also unequivocally inspires me, excites me and gladdens my heart. To the initiated, this book has infinite dimensions to play life with. It is their for us gratuitously. Can any thing stand before its munificence? It doesn't divide or discriminate. It doesn't sow seeds of discord. It conveys a message of peace and goodwill. It showers its blessings upon all freely. It only loves, feeds  and shelters. It is a resurgent force which is potently restorative. 

How it has patterned effusively with its green cover, our valleys, glens, mountains, and hill tops. It is their in wheat stalks, corncobs and numerous grain bearing plants which sustain mankind. it is their in the sweet smelling blazing beauty of the rose and in every bud and bloom.

It beckons us in spring to the magical charm of new life. In summer it fructifies and ripens our fruit and berries. The color and splendor of autumn is a feast for the eyes. Winter is their for reunions and renewals.Can one ask for more?

In the beginning of this creation of ours, this book supported and fed not only the human animal but legions of live organism nestling in its magnanimous fold. Our very existence was determined by the forces of nature. Our relatedness to nature was inherent in our very being. Modern  man has mostly separated himself from the overawing aspect of nature by understanding its working. However, man can neither sever his relatedness to nature nor ignore its significance in our lives. To do so would be to his own peril.


Friends, welcome here as always.



Monday, August 25, 2014

OUR WORLD TUESDAY





,AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY 






It is Apple season in Himachal Pradesh these days. Cartons of golden and red varieties are displayed on road side markets all over the state.The picture is that of one such market at Solan, shot yesterday.

Friends, welcome here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

BLUE SKY SPECKED WITH LONELY CLOUDS




 SKYWATCH FRIDAY


Shot in the late evening during walk, on Kumarhatti Nahan road

Sunlight has almost disappeared except a tinge of it reflecting in the clouds beyond mountains. 




Friends, welcome here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THURSDAY CHALLENGE


 BLOOMING BLOOMS

  TODAY'S THEME IS:

  YELLOW (Anything with the colour yellow in it,...)







 I ADORE NATURE IN ALL ITS MANIFESTATIONS. IT IS MY CONSTANT ALLY AND FOREVER A SOURCE

OF INSPIRATION. SO MY CHOICE FOR THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE IS FLOWERS.


FRIENDS,WELCOME HERE AS ALWAYS.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

AN EXCITING JOURNEY BY A HILL TRAIN




TRAIN JOURNEY IN THE MOUNTAINS

'F' is for a fun experience.


Friends I must tell you here that I took two short videos to acquaint you about the natural beauty of the hill terrain which i witnessed during the journey , but failed to upload here due to some error.

Traveling in the hills by train and a historic one at that, which runs between Kalka and Shimla, is an  exercise worth taking, in its novelty at least. ‘The Kalka–Shimla Railway is a 2ft.6 in, narrow gauge railway in North-West India, passing along a mostly mountainous route. It is known for its fascinating view of the hills, surrounding villages and hamlets on far off slopes.’

In July 2008, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The train covers 96 Km. to reach Shimla. It is an enthralling journey from many angles. For one, it is considered  a technological marvel. It climbs from 2152 ft.above sea level at Kalka and terminates at an elevation of 6811ft. at Shimla. En route the train passes through more than hundred tunnels. 'The Barog Tunnel' (No. 33) being the longest tunnel on the line at 3,753 ft. in length between Dagshai and Solan and 890 ft. below the road.'

It negotiates 864 bridges and scores of sharp curves. “The Kalka–Shimla Railway was built to connect Shimla, the summer capital of India during the British Raj, with the Indian rail system. Now, Shimla is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh and is popularly known as the ‘queen of hills’ and Kalka is a town in the Panchkula district of Haryana. Spectacular scenery along the whole route, and the marvels of its construction, keeps the traveler on this line spell bound. On leaving Kalka, (2,152 ft.) , the railway enters the shivalik foothills and immediately commences its climb and touches Shimla at 6811 ft.



Above is the Summer Hill station our destination

 The railway station at Salogra.


A Shimla bound  train passing over this complex but artful bridge build by the British. Courtesy Wikipedia


 I had  repeatedly heard about the spectacle of abundant scenic beauty flanking the rail tracks of this famous rail route from Kalka to Shimla. I made up my mind right then to experience the nature’s  magic at the earliest opportunity. Last week the chance knocked at our door when we thought of visiting a friend and his family at Summer Hill, 3 kilometers short of Shimla after a gap of many years. Summer Hill has the charm of a better-developed hill station and houses the state University and an advanced research center.



Our train at one of the stations.


The decision to undertake the momentous journey was finalized. According to the plan, we boarded the small KALKA- SHIMLA EXPRESS TRAIN with seven bogies from Dharampur and got down at Summer Hill station. On the way we passed many important towns like Barog, Solan, Shogi, Kandaghat,Tara Devi and a few others.

The journey no doubt was  once in a lifetime experience. The train rushed passed  lush green forest cover which looked lustrous in the virgin morning light. Shallow valleys, deep gorges and sometimes  the heart stopping moments when the train moved on the edge of a gaping gorge keep your senses animated with wonder.These spell binding sensations keep you hooked throughout. At places, the brave hearts could even touch the rocks or the thick vegetation. Surrounding the railway track you could observe stately pines, rugged deodars, sprawling bushes, common cacti and sundry vegetation. A photographer’s delight no doubt!

The  negative points were all due to the inefficiency of the human element in the journey. The catering at stations was sub standard.The seating area and toilets needed better cleaning, even in the first class compartment. This as we all know is the bane of public services in the country.

The  whole experience is unforgettable though! I'm happy that I could do it. 

Friends,welcome here!

Monday, August 18, 2014

OUR WORLD




   Panoramic view of hill architecture.





An over view of Summer Hill (Shimla) from the roof of top floor flat of our friend whom we paid a visit 

last week. It is three Km. short of Shimla  and is marvellously picturesque with trees and verdant growth 

all around.

Friends, your thoughts are welcome as always!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

SKY IS MAJESTICALLY IMPOSING


 SKY WATCH FRIDAY


 BOTH THESE PICTURES PRESENT THE SKY AS I CLICKED IT SITTING IN THE COMPARTMENT OF KALKA SHIMLA EXPRESS TRAIN LAST WEEK.  THESE ARE  SHOT IN THE LATE EVENING WITH REMNANTS OF SETTING SUN 'S LIGHT STILL LINGERING ON.


 THE DWELLING UNITS DOWN UNDER AND FAR FAR AWAY  THE HIMALAYAS



THURSDAY CHALLENGE

NATURE'S KALEIDOSCOPE
THEME FOR TODAY IS:

 "WATER" (Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Lake, Ocean, River,...)





 This is a water body at the entrance of the community  in which our son and his family live in the US. I captured the lovely ambiance one day during our evening walk last year.


 Friends, your views on the pic. are awaited.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

E WORDS ENRICH OUR EXPRESSION

ABC WEDNESDAY


E is for enriching and empowering our lives in our short sojourn on earth.

It is for educating us to kindle the spark of creativity and experimentation for promoting edifying existence.

Think for a moment and you will realize how e words express activities which are integral to  our life’s fascinating odyssey on the earth. Just imagine how insipid our life would be if it is not eventful, encompassing joys and sorrows in the course of many roles, we enact.

Here are a few e words which I've chosen to exhibit exuberance, excellence and roughness of life’s manifold errands.

We won’t be able to enjoy life fully, if we lack energy and élan to discharge the enormous duties as part of our locus standi in the affairs of our private, micro and larger macro world.

How our life force erodes if we are lethargic and shun exercise. Exercising mind and body is as essential as eating and sleeping. It emancipates us from host of ailments.

 Isn’t it advisable to avoid extreme positions in dealing with our day-to-day circumstances? Extremism ethnic or otherwise has wrecked havoc in the lives of millions of people all over the world.  

In our social relationships, we encounter some people who always see a silver lining in every dark cloud or believe that there is light after every dark tunnel. They are die-hard extroverts. They earnestly vouch for the efficacy of this positive approach. Being optimistic is an effective mantra for success.

Tax evasion and harming the environment are twin evils we should earnestly escape from, if we love our country.

Solar and lunar eclipse has deep religious connotations for Indians. The elite as well as the marginalized participate in ritualistic episodes on this occasion with elation.

In the present day globalized world, egotistical leanings of super powers are frowned upon. Rather there is ever-increasing clamor for collaboration in areas of mutual interest for the benefit of all.

The evacuation of people to safer places in the war torn zones is not easy to execute. However,to do so, is humanitarian expediency for the concerned warring regimes.

In the evening of life, people tend to be more religious and earthy. An evensong develops into an important part of their lives.  

Friends, share your ideas with  us.

Monday, August 11, 2014

OUR WORLD TUESDAY






A COW ON MOUNTAIN SLOPES




A LONE BLACK HILL COW SURVEYING THE SURROUNDINGS AFTER HAVING HER FILL OF THE LUSH  
 GREEN GRASS. THE PICTURE SHOWS THE FOREST COVER IN THE NARROW VALLEY OF KUMARHATTI, HIMACHAL PRADESH, INDIA. COWS HERE ARE SHORT AND BONY. THEY NEGOTIATE DIFFICULT HILL TERRAIN TO GRAZE. BY THE WAY, SHE CLIMBED UP ABOUT 30 FEET FROM THE ROAD TO BE HERE. IT WAS BY CHANCE THAT I VENTURED OUT INTO THE BALCONY OF MY FLAT AND SPIED HER LOOKING LONELY.

FRIENDS, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS FACE OF OUR WORLD?

Friday, August 8, 2014

SKY WEAVES MAGIC


 SKY WATCH FRIDAY

 MOST MORNINGS EITHER IT IS RAINING OR DRIZZLING IN OUR PART OF SHIVALIK HILLS. BOTH THE PICTURES BELOW ARE SHOT IN THE EVENINGS, RIGHT AFTER SUNSET WHEN SOME LIGHT IS REFLECTED IN THIS QUAINT PATTERN OF CLOUDS.








FRIENDS, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MY AMATEURISH EFFORTS!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

WHY I WORRY ABOUT MY COUNTRY?




As regards the things that I wish to change in India, there are legions of them. The ills like endemic corruption, shifting the blame syndrome, greed, insensitivity and the social evils like stray cattle, stray dogs, monkey menace and the shame of littered and rotten garbage have consumed tons of paper and umpteen numbers of hours to bring them upfront for solutions but sadly, the status quo stands. Why waste time to write about something, which has been written upon ad nauseum?

Rather I would discourse about a new aversion of mine,which is no less worrying. The grueling, randomly chosen political polemics, which have become the order of the day on TV channels during evening prime time. You guessed it right. The all too noisy TV debates on the so-called subjects of national importance have become the present day template.

After bidding permanent adieu to cheap  and puerile comedy shows and outrageous serials, which are dished out to viewers on TV,  my only time for scheduled sitting, is evening TV news. Firstly, you prepare yourself, wait for the participants to be announced, and finally decide to suffer because of the presence of a couple of moderate voices. However, as the debate progresses the atmosphere is vitiated with arguments and counter arguments, peppered with remote and ambiguous references, sidelining the real issues. Clearly, the race for gaining some unknown points ensues with voice decibel rising to an uncomfortable pitch. In the meantime  warfare of words  and display of oratory minus substance hijacks the discussion. The daggers are drawn perpetually and more often than not, the projected sound bites acquire black and white shroud. Politeness goes for a toss. Jibes rule the roost. Some sane voices intervene, but they soon die down in the cacophony of discordant notes.

One needs to develop a detached approach and a half-asleep mode to sit through the political dramas played on the TV screen in your living room day after day. That the viewing public is aware and can sift the truth from half-truths and baked truths leashed via their double speak, bothers them not. The body language of the panelists and the tone of their voices convey a lot. The viewers can fairly well, read between the lines of their word  play, which is unstoppable and therefore sucks.

The clear divide between black and white without any middle ground frustrates the average viewer who really desires to be enlightened about  national issues. Here the aim is to earn some dubious points. Negative vibes floating around exasperate. The goings on become unpalatable soon and one starts switching channels.

In fact, the matters of national interest are too complex to be solved or understood in the course of half an hour of TV discussions. Let’s leave them to the collective wisdom of our elected representatives in the parliament. Moreover, just wait for the positive changes incorporated and delivered on the ground, for the good of the general public which will evidence the efficacy of the administrative measures and government policies.
……
 Instead, the TV channel CEOs should focus on educating the public about the burning social issues, and work for people participation in solving them.

They should introduce programs to help people become well informed  with the use of technology. For this enabling them to be computer savvy is a must.

They need to evolve packages about health consciousness especially Ayurveda and other alternatives to allopathic medicines, which the poor can’t afford.

People Should be advised to introspect  and warned about the involvement in  
anti-social activities like destruction of public and private property over trivial issues, and violent protests.

Young people need to be persuaded to participate in value based activities concerning their areas.

Surely experts in human resource development know what is  required for nation building and how to execute it.

Friends, leave your thoughts on the subject.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

THURSDAY CHALLENGE



  TODAY'S THEME IS:


 "SIMPLE" (Minimalist, One or Two Colours, Simple Shapes, Simple Things,...)


  FLOWERS


THIS ONE HAS LEAVES LIKE THAT OF A RUBBER PLANT. THOUGH THE BUDS SEEM WHITE BUT THEY OPEN UP WITH LIGHT PURPLE.


THIS IS A VARIETY OF BOUGAINVILLEA WHICH I'VE ONLY SEEN IN THE HILLS. IT IS HARDY AND GROWS VERY SLOWLY. ITS TWIGS ARE STRONG AND STAND UP LIKE THIS. HERE ONLY ONE BRANCH HAS COME UP.

FRIENDS, THANKS FOR COMING HERE!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"DEATH BE NOT PROUD"



LINKED TO ABC WEDNESDAY


'D' IS FOR 'DEATH'



ETERNAL REST FOR THE SHED AUTUMN LEAVES.



While thinking about the letter D, I happen to recall John Donne’s famous sonnet “DEATH BE NOT PROUD.”  It was in our syllabus at graduate level. Later I explored its thematic conundrum with different batches of college students year after year, during my teaching career.  However, that is history.

Yet the choice of the word ‘death’ activated the fading memories of those days lurking in some forgotten layers of the subconscious.  The mental connect to the past brought the concept of death to the forefront, initiating some serious discussion. Hence this post.

I don’t remember how did I perceive this ultimate reality of life at the time. I guess I might not have given it a second thought at that young age. Today's youth is different. The information technology revolution has transformed our lives. Young people are so smart and knowledgeable that they think about everything under the sun including death. I’m sure they would be holding interesting views about death as well.
..............

“Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,”           John Donne


Well let’s see what this great poet professed about death in his well-known sonnet.  Donne addresses death as if it is an animate being. He mocks at death for feeling proud and mighty. He considers death as an extension of peace and repose, which we go through every night in our daily sleep cycle. Actually, death he says is like falling in eternal sleep. For the poet it is a pleasurable state pertaining to peace of mind and body after our painstaking journey of life. He negates the power of death and ridicules it by making it a friend of fate, disease, sickness and ruthless kings who would kill at will. Donne adds. ‘Oh death, you accompany wars, and are in league with desperadoes who destroy life’.

For him, death’s hubris is misplaced as even charms and poppies make us achieve rest and repose. He in a way busts the myth of death as a formidable entity.

So much for Donne’s plea of flouting the dread of death. Nonetheless, the inevitability of death raises its ugly head occasionally in every human chest. No denying
that the cycle of birth and death is such a smart construct of nature for ensuring the process of continuity.

Since ages, the enigma of death has weighed upon the minds of philosophers, theologians, saints, seers and intellectuals. It has been dissected threadbare but still nobody knows per se how it feels to die because nobody can experience death while living. Others die.

People do get flustered at the thought of their own death. Admittedly, it is so chilling to imagine that one will die without savoring fully the drama of this fascinating life ( so they feel). That things will go on without you is obviously disturbing.

There are exceptions too. After a certain age, some people do start preparing for their last day. My dear mother was one such person. A sense of fulfillment in the life lived takes away the fear of death.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
Mark Twain

German philosopher Martin Heidegger remarks that the realization of death is actually, a wake up call of exhortation to do some good acts. For, the final marching orders for  the other world are  unpredictable.

The Existentialists on the other hand maintain that only after the last breath is breathed, someone’s life can be profiled. Since, a person is in the act of becoming until the last moment. For them death is cessation of all actions. Nothing more. The choices one make in the present is of paramount importance to them.

Science no doubt has illuminated the biological aspect of death but the subjectivity of its romance and mystery will never die down.

Friends, leave your thoughts on the subject.