I have a very nice neighbour who works in a bank and I have been using up my neighbourly credits with him to replenish my “monetary stock”. He still smiles at me, when I meet him outside, and I am hoping that he understands the situation and will continue to help us out.
The amount of intrigue that has gripped the nation on this issue is phenomenal. While everybody applauds the move to expose black money, these very same populace decries the efforts to stifle their legitimate transactions. And they are perfectly right at that. What right does the government have to tell me that I cannot withdraw my own money. The govt. made a blunder by squeezing liquidity beyond all permissible levels and now expects a population of 1.3 billion to somehow survive on barter and thrift.
The basic assumption that everybody is a culprit unless proved innocent is an unkind cut and the population is certainly annoyed with that premise. In Kerala, we have a saying, എലിയെ പേടിച്ചു ഇല്ലം ചുടരുത്, which roughly translates as, “It is foolish to burn down the mansion in fear of a rat.” Never in my wildest fancy would I have imagined that I would live to see the day when we have an elected government go into an economic tailspin simply to catch stashed hoards of currency putting crores of people into great financial difficulty.
Over and over an image is gaining ground that this government lacks empathy. The work of a mallet is being done by a road roller. I sincerely hope that there is enough home work that has been done to ensure that the “slight inconveniences” that this government calls this mayhem, does not translate into a virulent agitation. It would indeed be a Pyrrhic victory if the stone throwers of Kashmir were to be silenced, post demonetization, only for the rest of country to indulge in the same.
There is enough indication to suggest that the government is indeed trying hard to alleviate the suffering of the people. But, these very steps look more like a fire-fighting exercise than any genuine attempt at alleviation. Shorn of pre-work, home work or even the classical hard work, the attempts are the desperate lungings of a deer mired in a quicksand. There have been murmurs in the corridors about the ill-preparedness of the RBI, which when shorn of the niceties that surround such soundbytes look alarmingly like a preparation for a fall guy. A country devoid of 83% of its currency, now seeking to push along its economy on trust, barter and thrift is a ready recipe for colossal damage at heartbreaking rates. Currently, the money is not there, and I sincerely hope that the situation improves. And don’t, for money’s sake, hold your breath. We are talking months, not weeks.
We took a train from Delhi to Bikaner. We were all packed in woollens, scarves, coats and jackets. We reached Bikaner early morning and met with our tour guide. He took us to a house in Bikaner where we could freshen up, have our breakfast and then proceed on our journey into the hinterlands of core Rajasthan. The breakfast I had that morning was one of the most unforgettable ones. We were served home-made stuffed parantha with achaar (pickle) and curd. But the parantha was so delicious and yummy that we stopped counting after sometime. We even had to shed our sense of shame in asking for more as the paranthas came in hot from the tawa at regular intervals. Once we were sure we could not have any more, we got ready to hit the trail.
We were taken in a jeep to a place from where we boarded these big and huge camels. It was the first time i ever got so close up to a camel. But everyone was cheerfully going up, so I decided to go too. Once we were all perched up, the safari took off. We were accompanied by a cook and 2 people who were to serve as supports and guides.
As we kept moving through the villages and then fields, our fear of the animal and the height slowly abated. I was scared more of the camel coming behind me whose mouth was frothing than the one I was perched on so precariously. I saw my husband and children too some distance away.
Since this was a group of friends, we kept joking and laughing all the way and therefore did not feel bored or scared too much. Alone. I would never have made it! We had to be on constant vigil, holding tightly to the mount and making sure we are sitting straight so that we don’t slip away from the sides. Anyway, after about an hour or two of this traveling on the mount, we reached a spot where our guides decided to halt and cook our lunch. .
While our guide and cook prepared our lunch, we tried to walk up a mound and see the desert which was still a little green. I was quite amazed at the kind of agricultural innovations that were being done in these parts if the state.
We had roti that was cooked on fire and vegetable sabzi. The food was coarse but tasted good as we were quite tired. After lunch we started off again and it took us about 3 hours more to reach the small camp where we were supposed to be spending the night.
We made a bonfire and sat around as it was getting chilly. The wood that was arranged for this was wet huge log and it took a long time to flare up and provide us some warmth. The cook who again got busy with dinner was a very funny guy. He kept us entertained with singing songs and conversations in broken English. According to his standards, he was quite well versed in speaking and handling English speaking visitors.
Dinner was again the same stuff and we were not quite enthused. It was very very cold and just the thought of going into the tents with those muddy blankets kept us awake for a long time. Finally, when we could not stand any longer, we decided to turn in. We went with our jackets and coats on into the blanket to cover ourselves from the cold but it was no big help.
Finally, everyone got up in the morning groggy eyed and tired and we were relieved by the thought of getting up and going back. I guess we were not made for the desert life! We came back by a Jeep and again dug into the refreshing breakfast experience of the previous day. This time it was methi parantha with achaar and curd. Finally, we bade goodbye to our gracious hosts and Bikaner!
Best time to visit Bikaner is between December and February as the sun is not too hot. However, as we found out a little late, the night is chilling and killing!! Definitely not for the faint hearted!
Photo Credits : Vinay Kurien, Delhi
When we were planning a family trip to Goa last year, we kept searching for the right place to stay and finally we arrived at a decision to stay at the Santana Beach Resort at the Candolim Beach looking at the reviews and ratings in Trip Advisor.
I have to say that we were not disappointed. We did have a fantastic time! The resort was right on the beach and we could just stroll down to the beach after our lunch and spend as much time, strolling and lazing around at the beach, picking up shells and just being in the water and enjoying the waves to our hearts content. It gave us an opportunity to really enjoy and feel the essence of being in Goa!
How to get there
We can take a taxi either from the Goa airport located at Dabolim which is 46 km from Fort Aguada or any of the two Railway Stations – Margao and Vasco Da Gama.
A visit to Kerala is incomplete without visiting the famous hill station of Kerala called Munnar. It is part of the Western Ghats falls in the Idukki district. The name Munnar actually means three rivers. This is a place where 3 rivers (Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly river) come and join together.
During one of our annual vacations to Kerala, we made this journey to Munnar by renting a car. It takes about 3.5 hours from Kochi via Adimali. It is an uphill drive through a natural forest with a view of the most picturesque valleys and waterfalls.
|A glimpse of Munnar Town|
|The catchment basin for the Mattupetty Dam.
Look at the shaven banks that show the level to which the basin fills up when the dam is full.
If you are making the trip from Kerala, the nearest airport is Nedumbassery at Kochi. The nearest railway station would be Ernakulam or Aluva. And then take a taxi or cab. It is about 110 Kms from airport.
Interesting tidbits on Munnar
- The blooming of Neelakurinji. This tiny blue flower (Strobilanthes kunthianum) blooms every 12 years and spreads the entire mountainscape of Munnar and is a phenomenon worth clapping ones eyes on. The flower with 40 odd varieties bloom mostly in shades of blue, and thus the name. Neela in the local language stands for the colour blue and Kurinji the local name for the flower. The blooming of Neelakurinji usually starts from August and would last up to October. After 2006, we can expect another blooming in 2018. Book your tickets!
|The Tapioca Plant|
|Tree with Jackfruit|
|The pepper plant|
The long Lodi road from Safdarjung Tomb ends rather tamely at the Sabz Burj right inside the roundabout, or what is now popularly known as the Neeli Chhatri for its spectacular blue dome. Take the second exit and you are already inside the Humayun Tomb premises. A short walk and an entrance ticket later, we entered the chirpy grounds. I was accompanying my cousin from Kerala on a tour of Delhi and were now at the famed Humayun’s Tomb.
The Humayun’s tomb is preceded by tombs of lesser known personalities, but the fun fact is that they are far better preserved. We were told that the Aga Khan Foundation along with the TATA trust had been engaged to restore the monument to its pristine past. And it was pretty evident.
|The squeaky clean pathway that leads to the Humayun’s Tomb|
Past the domed gate lay the Humayun Tomb.
The tomb stands on a terraced platform. You can climb up to the platform to enter the tomb. We went in October and the pleasant climate was perfect for viewing.
The tomb has two stories. But the entrance to the upper floors are closed. I am sure there was a time when these were open to the general public, but that day it was closed. 🙁
Humayun’s Tomb, apart from Humayun’s grave, also contains graves of other royal members of the Mughal family of the time.
There are gates on all four sides of the tomb, which gives it a unique quadrilateral look, something of a uniqueness with subsequent Mughal architecture, especially that contains tombs.
We enjoyed our visit and after packing our memories in an electronic plastic card, we made our way to the next destination. More on that later.
As we exit Nehru Place under the Nehru Place Metro Station towards the Lotus temple, the roads begin to slightly deteriorate. This road definitely needs layering. As we bank left into the road that leads to the Lotus temple, the temple perimeter becomes visible with a lovely fencing that is both aesthetic and useful. The morning sun reflected the temple in all its splendour.
Some facts about the Lotus Temple to help you make your visits more enjoyable
1. Visit towards the evening. The light show is a must-see!
2. More than 20% of the total electricity requirement of 500KW is generated through solar panels.
3. There is an elaborate arrangement for water conservation throughout the premises.
4. The pools cool the sanctorum even in the most fiercest of summers.
5. Photography inside the sanctorum is disallowed.
5. Entrance is free.