Lucknow: Invoking nostalgia, excitement, anxiety, everything!

हम फिदाये लखनऊ, लखनऊ फिदाये हम!

Lucknow brings back many a nostalgic moment for me…the years spent there, the time spent there is just unforgettable, in fact, they are running like a flash-back in my mind. Since I have planned a trip to Lucknow, there have been many vivid memories of the place, my stay, my office, my home, my friends and my colleagues…all are making a beeline in my head and heart.

I didn’t know I would be going through all this and more…I am overwhelmed. How time rolled, how so many years passed, I never missed Lucknow so much, as I am doing now. Anxiety and Excitement are in equal measure. I am remembering visits to Hazrat Ganj in the evenings where we casually strolled, did “Ganjing” as it was popularly called, on many a pleasant Lucknow evening. Coffee in the coffee houses there, Chaat at the chaat corners, window shopping and some serious shopping too, at various places was my favourite activity. No measure can match up the pleasure of Ganjing in those days.

We stayed near Bhootnath temple in Indira Nagar which had many a shop in its vicinity, while returning from office, I would come via Bhoothnath and pick up whatever I liked to eat. I knew each and every shop by name, as I was quite a regular there. I made many precious friends there.

Soni Bhaiya, was always around till we stayed there, and always. His love and affection for me are unconditional, then there is Kamal Mathur, polite, courteous, creative, friendly always…look forward to meeting him and wife Ritu after say 25 years.

When all of a sudden, I decided to leave Lucknow for a new life in Mumbai, it was a sort of culture shock for me. Lucknow is a place known for its culture and tehzeeb and Mumbai…less said the better. Being a capital of the largest state of India, U.P. it has always been a multi-cultural city. Known for its courtly manners, beautiful gardens, poetry, music, and fine cuisine patronized by the Persian-loving Shia Nawabs of the city are well known amongst Indians and students of South Asian culture and history. Even after leaving Lucknow, many many years ago, I keenly follow the political and social developments there. I always, how I wish I was in Lucknow now when Yogiji is CM. Such is my love for Lucknow!

Lucknow has many places for sightseeing like Bada Imambara, Chota Imambara, Residency, Rumi Darwaza, Gomti River Front, Lohia Park, Janeshwar Mishra Park and many more. Of course, not to miss Ganjing and chai and chaat in Chowk. I heard that Lucknow has Metro now, so Metro ride to banti hai, Mumbai mein to ban hi rahi hai…

The trip to Lucknow is not complete without shopping for some chikan kari, which is matchless because of its craft, the intricacies, embroideries and love for the dresses, sarees! The place is Ameena Bad for that. It brings back memories of dear Papa who loved visiting Ameenabad always, it was his city after all.

Lucknow is famous for its Awadhi cuisines and if you are a non-vegetarian, don’t miss Tunde – Ke – Kabab’s, most authentic kababs one can think of. Mouth-watering chaats, shakes, kulfis, fruit chaats etc. are other add-ons. Being a foodie, I would love to try all this and more!

I heard that Lucknow has transformed completely and is developed enough to give some serious competition to Metros, but I am going to explore my good, old Lucknow where I spent such precious carefree years, not without doing some serious work as UP Govt’s Class I officer.

In Mumbai, people did not even know what it is to be like UP Government official, this is life you encounter all…it is a roller coaster ride, ultra-highs and ultra-lows!

Special thanks to Dr. Raveesh Shrivastava, who made this happen from Millennial Works.

 

Hussain Sagar Lake & Hyderabad Blues!


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We planned to visit iconic Hussain Sagar Lake of Hyderabad while returning from Chilkur Balaji Temple, it was afternoon time, dark and cloudy, even drizzling. In such a weather, any site could not have been more fascinating than Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad. The lake is situated in the midst of twin cities: Hyderabad & Secunderabad. The lake is so huge that it almost looked like a seashore, in the middle of the lake, there is a huge statue of standing Lord Buddha which has a height of 16 m and weighs almost 350 tonnes. Made up of white granite, the statue is on the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’. The lighting show at the statue is something that is worth watching.

The stroll on the sides of the lake was quite pleasant and soothing. Had I been living in Hyderabad; I would have visited this place quite often. It was a pleasant site to see the cleanliness around the lake. In fact, all places which we visited were quite clean, rather spic and span, which made a rather unusual sight for #MeMumbaikar. Probably this is the impact of Modiji’s Swachchta Abhiyan for which we are paying 2% Cess. At least in some state, it is properly utilised.

Having been bordered by Indira Park in the east, Sanjeevaiah Park in the north and Lumbini Park in the south, the lake presents a setting quite rare to find in the middle of any city. There is also a bund on its banks, which was built to control the flow of water. This artificial lake now beautifies the city gracefully. Not just for beauty, it is also known for its historical connection. On the banks of this Hussain Sagar Lake, the treaty between Mughals and Golconda was signed.

This trip took us around the city which boasts of huge commercial buildings, shopping malls and shopping arcades and general shops. Roads are wide and well maintained, traffic moderate and everything easily accessible. There is an impressive network of Metros which must be helping office goers in a big way. There are many flyovers also, which boasts of vertical gardens beneath. Yea, the striking feature would be that though the city has the tag of tech city with a lot of development taking place all over, lots of residential complexes and commercial complexes coming up all over, the city boasts of its fair share of greenery all over.

My cousin Vandana shared that ladies love to work here that way it is quite safe for them. It is very well lit and some areas are quite impressive with their lighting. If you are in Hyderabad, Hyderabadi Biryani is must, we could see Biryani joints all over along with some attractive pan boutiques. Paradise Biryani, being most famous and biggest, has a junction in its name called Paradise junction. Vandana hosted us most delicious biryani I could think of made by her expert cook Shabana, under the guidance of Vandana. One more memorable experience!

Shopping in Hyderabad is quite a delightful experience for its inimitable pearls, south silk Mangalgiri cotton, Gadhwal silks and Kanjeeverams and other assortment of beautiful and reasonably priced sarees. I freaked out on them…shop keepers and staff are very cordial; they show you any number of pieces without any expectations and are very well – equipped with interiors, lighting, display and staff. They speak very good Hindi besides Telugu and English and understand the consumer’s pulse.

I noticed two Kendriya Vidyalayas and many other schools in the vicinity. Hyderabad is famous Education Centre and boasts of ISB, Administrative Staff College of India, IPS Police academy and ICFAI.

Indeed, we loved being in Hyderabad and spending some very quality time with my cousin Vandana, who I believe equally cherished my company. Hyderabad Blues persist

NTR Gardens: Baby’s oops Babes’ evening out!

Though I am not a park-park person, somehow park reminds me of old Bollywood movies where the hero and heroine romance behind trees and sing love duets, which is not the case with me. So, I don’t relate to an outing in the park…

…But visit to NTR Gardens, Hyderabad turned out to be quite a unique experience. Sisters decided to visit the park and there we were! I was apprehensive that it may be a local park, like any other park, but that was not to be. We became kids amidst kids and we enjoyed every moment of it. I was fascinated by the entrance itself which had unique architecture and Nandi Bull beside a waterfall added to the beauty of the facade. I knew something much more exciting was in the offing…

We started our visit by boarding the toy train which took us around the park, this way we could have the complete view of the park, which somehow reminded me of night safari, Singapore. With child-like excitement, we were relishing every moment of our joy ride.  One of the most striking observations about the park would be its neatness and ticket pricing, just 20 Rupees for so much fun.   

Vandana told me that NTR Garden is built in the memory of late Shri N T Rama Rao, former and one of the most popular chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh. Spread across an area of 36 acres, it presents a soothing atmosphere and refreshing setting to visitors. Built at a cost of Rs. 40 crores, it was in 2002, when the NTR garden was opened to the public.

Breathtakingly beautiful and intricately landscaped, the Garden presented a very fascinating view besides offering various kinds of recreational options as well. Some of these are a boat ride, Japanese garden, Roaring Cascade, a Fountain, etc. We clicked lots of pictures and why not? We were in the most picturesque place of Hyderabad.

One of the striking features of the NTR garden is the Desert Garden, consisting of about 150 plant varieties, mainly of those plans which are commonly referred as desert plants such as cacti, succulents, etc. The plants, which also boast of medicinal importance and are used for various herbal remedies, have been brought to Hyderabad from various parts of the country like Kolkata, Shirdi, etc.

The garden has been created in such a way that it offers breath-taking natural surroundings along with ample entertaining activities. Excellent facilities for food are also provided in the garden. Various eat out joints, car cafe and fruit restaurant which is a 2000-square-metre restaurant circumvented by three petal-shaped ponds offer not just mouth-watering dishes but also a beautiful setting to relish the same. The Car Cafes are primarily cafes with a seating capacity of six and which are mobile.

It is close to the popular Hussain Sagar Lake, which makes a visit to the park even more enjoyable. One can visit the till 9 in the night as the NTR Garden timings are from 12:30 pm- 9:00 pm.

As goes the saying, pictures speak louder than words, enjoy our sojourn to NTR Gardens in pictures. Actually, I am short of words to describe the beauty of NTR garden.

The day concluded by a visit to Hanuman Ji ka Mandir, which was so divine and loved being there the most. I couldn’t have thanked Vandana enough for these divine sojourns.

Must visit while in Hyderabad!

Obeisance at Chilkur Balaji Temple, divinity paramount!

June 29: Visit to Chilkur Balaji Temple!

We (Vandana, Me & Mukund) set out for Chilkur Balaji temple in the morning, it was in a long time that I was visiting a temple. Full credit for this visit and divine experience goes to Vandana & Jijaji ( Anil Kumar Saxena), who made it possible. The drive was pleasant as the weather was breezy and cloudy and even sunny some times. Enroute, we saw Golkunda Fort also. It took us around one – hour to reach there. In the morning, Jijaji had given me some finer points about this temple which I would like to share with you.  

This temple is also popularly known as “Visa Balaji temple”. Apparently, the temple is known for fulfilling devotees’ wishes to get a visa for going overseas. Chilkur Balaji is also known for being one of the very few temples in India without any hundi or donation box, preaching only the devoutness in one’s nature. So, if you have visa issues, visit Chilkur Balaji temple. Secondly, you have to make a wish with your eyes open and thirdly, there is no donation box, which is a rarity for any place of worship. For the first time, I saw Tulsi mala made of fresh green big Tulsi leaves, which all devotees offer to the deity. I loved the mala, how I wished I could carry it!

The temple premises were very crowded as it was a Saturday and it was some auspicious day. There was a long queue, but it was not at all tiring, as we all wanted to reach the temple and make a wish. Indeed, the crowds were very disciplined, moving in the queue properly.

Balaji temple is located almost 30 kilometres from Hyderabad, in Chilkur, which is a small picturesque village and a popular pilgrimage. On the banks of Osman Sagar Lake, close to the Vikarabad road, this temple attracts hordes of devotees from all over the country. Chilkur Balaji temple has a pleasing architecture too, boasting of being one of the oldest temples in Telangana. It is said that this temple was built more than half a millennium ago, the temple is being considered as an alternative of Tirumala temple. The main deity of the temple is Lord Balaji Venkateswara along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi accompanying him.

Usually, the devotees follow a common pattern. They offer 11 “pradakshinas” and their prayers to the deity. Once the wish is granted, they take 108 pradakshinas of the temple to show their gratitude and thank the God.

The rounds are done amid the chanting of mantras and religious yet lively talks of the highly educated priests, who speak and motivate devotees in English and Telugu. This temple is known for its positive and peaceful atmosphere, away from the commercialized touch.

Chilkur Balaji temple darshan timings are from 5 in the morning to 8 in the night. It is open throughout the week. Devotees can be seen doing pradakshina since morning till late in the night. Outside the temple, there are many small hotels as well. For accommodation, you can go to the Haritha Hotel by Telangana Tourism which is located very near to the Chilkur Balaji temple.

 

Our visit was not complete without some more shopping of bangles…

…Thanks, Vandana & Jijaji for this divine experience!

Charminar, Hyderabad: Yeh Dil Maange More!!

June 28: Day 3 in Hyderabad


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After enjoying two-days stay in lush – green Aalankrita Resort, now was the time to move on to my cousin Vandana’s place in Jeedimetla, Hyderabad. They (Vandana & Jijaji) keenly awaited our arrival in their beautiful apartment and loving hearts. This was the first time I was visiting them with husband Mukund. Our meeting was like a house on fire!

After the initial meeting, greeting and eating, sisters set out for the day outing. Though the day was not that well-planned, it turned out to be the most exciting day of the entire trip. We set out for iconic Charminar where her friend Shahla with her daughter Laiba joined us. I had never visited Charminar earlier, so I was quite excited to view it even from a distance.

An identifying feature of the city, Charminar is the most prominent landmark located right in the heart of Hyderabad. The monument was erected by Quli Qutub Shah to signify the founding of Hyderabad. As is evident from the structure, it was so named as it consists of four minarets. Although it lies right in the centre of the city with traffic and crowds milling all about it, Charminar certainly manages to hold the gaze. It is also famous for the market that sprawls around it and is called ‘Laad’ or ‘Chudi’ Bazaar.

The market was not open yet, so we had to make up with the whatever shops were open. If it is a Friday, then visit Charminar market only after 3 PM before that market doesn’t open that much. After scouting for some bedspreads, we moved on for some marriage shopping, which Shahla wanted to do. Initially, I got slightly nervous as I found the market quite strange, with no women present in the market. We were the only bunch of women in the market. But I must admit that shop keepers were really respectful and cordial, who showed us many pieces. She picked up some beautiful suits, dress material for shararas, kurtas and dupattas. Though the market is very big around Charminar, there are no eating joints, so we had to catch whatever was available from a streetside joint. Snacks were really delicious.

It was not just shopping time, but bonding time too! Though I met Shahla and her daughter Laiba for the first time, we bonded well. There were discussions on choices, selections, occasions, children, family, engagement and Shahla shared some fine details about Nikaah ceremony.

I and Vandana clicked a lot of pictures, she was very generous with that. We recollected those good old days when we were studying and strutted around the Rajouri Garden market for the nitty-gritty. For the first time, I saw some beautiful Khada Dupatta outfits worn by Muslim brides. I must admit that the outfits were really creative and reasonably priced.

Now was the time to visit Bangle Bazaar, actual name Laad Bazaar in the vicinity of Charminar, you can’t call them Bangle shops, they are fit to be called Bangle Boutiques which sold some outstanding collections. Shopkeepers stand outside and lovingly address you as Baaji (Sister) for inviting you to their shops. The self-confessed, bangles obsessed that I am, it was a mecca for bangle shoppers like me. I did not know what to pick, what to leave. I had a great time looking at such beautiful, intricately worked bangles, finally, Vandana helped me with picking some. Now some clarity came, and I freaked out on bangles, jhumkas, chokers, sets etc. I have returned several hundred bangles richer.

While in Laad Bazaar, use your bargaining skills to the T.

Shahla did that for me, I had laddoos in both hands, Shahla bargained and Vandana paid…

Couldn’t have asked for more!!

But I was like, “Yeh Dil Maange More!!

#Aniwedssoumya – Taking a leaf from Chetan Bhagat’s Two States – North-South Marriage

It took me quite a while to convince myself to travel to Hyderabad for Aniruddh’s wedding. How much so ever, I wanted to travel, the circumstances were just not favouring my wish… 

… I was plain lucky, my wish was granted! 

Aniruddh happens to be the dear son of Aparna & Praveen Chaturvediji, and our friendship dates back to some 25 years odd while I was with PICUP, Lucknow. It was very gracious of her to have maintained the same relation as ever. I always wanted to attend the wedding but as it was in Hyderabad, I was not very sure of attending it. But Aparna ji literally helped me make up my mind and the program. I don’t have a sister, so she is like my elder sister, whom I fondly address as Di always, keeping official relation aside.

All of a sudden, I was all set to travel to Hyderabad to Anriruddh and Soumya’s wedding. Moreover, I had never attended any South Indian marriage as far as my memory goes, so I was particularly excited.  When Aparna di told me that Soumya is from Andhra Pradesh, my mind went back to the movie written by Chetan Bhagat – Two States. It was going to be North-South marriage. This was the only similarity, there was no opposition from any side, as was shown in the movie. Chaturvedis were most happy to have Soumya as their daughter-in-law. Aparna di would be most loving, friendly and cooperative saasu ma…Soumya would be lucky to have her in her life!

…we landed in Hyderabad on June 26, excitedly reached the beautiful marriage venue – Aalankrita Resort, Thumkunta Village, Hyderabad. It is a breathtakingly beautiful, spacious, aesthetically done, green 4-star resort which was a dream for a destination wedding. The rooms were spacious and well – equipped, presenting a lovely view with very cordial staff to boot. They were smilingly at our service always…

On reaching Aalankrita, we had breakfast at Aashna restaurant, which served sumptuous American breakfast with an assortment of some interesting South-Indian fare. Chaturvedi’s were most welcoming hosts, including Anirudh and her sister Tanya. These children have grown before us so excitement was even more to see them married and Tanya strutting around with her cute toddlers – Son & Daughter. The excitement was palpable on her face as the groom’s sister.

After enjoying breakfast, we moved to the room to get ready for Mehndi in the afternoon at lovely venue Tapasya, which was very aesthetically decorated for the occasion – The Mehendiwalis, the churiwalas, the chunri walas and the dholak walis. Dholak ki Thaap, Churiyon ki jhankar, Mehendi ka Rang and piping hot tea, made the perfect setting. I could not resist dancing to old Hindi songs and all loved it. I picked up some nice assortment of bangles, which beautifully complimented my sarees.

Now, the evening was a time of some real action and fun, the time for seherabandi, safabandi and baraat. Anirudhji dulha ban chuke the

Dancing to some thumping Bollywood numbers, big, fat, Chaturvedi baraat joined by family, relatives and friends reached bride’s place…where all baratis were accorded traditional welcome. This was followed by Sangeet ceremony where few performances are worth mentioning, Bride & groom’s medley of retro songs, Tanya and her husband Sanjay’s – Swag se karenge sabka swagat, Cheena didi and her husband’s nostalgic dance to – Ik pyaar ka nagma hai, Cheena’s didi’s ( Aparna di’s charming elder sister) inimitable Ghoomer dance. Her energy and spirit were matchless. Another one by two sisters – Radha Kaise na jale! As Cheena didi entered in her beautiful Padmavat style – Marwari Style lehenga chunri and rakhdi, I knew there is a Ghoomar dance in the offing.

It was almost mid-night and none of us wanted to sleep…

…Another action-packed day awaited us!

June 27, was the day of Panigrahan Sanskar – the marriage ceremony!

The marriage was performed in South Indian and North Indian ways, both with equal detailing, mantra and pheras. Soumya looked beautiful South Indian bride in her Red Kanjiveram and intricately embroidered blouse, complimenting traditional temple jewellery. The mandap was strikingly beautiful done up with Mogra flowers which were spreading the unique aroma. As in all the ceremonies, Aparnaji and Tanya looked resplendent in their beautiful sarees and lehengas.

Now was the time for cocktails & dinner which was in the open lawns, everybody decked up to the hilt and in some real classic, jewellery and finery, the evening started with cake cutting and Champaign opening. A video played in the backdrop with Anirudh and Soumya’s childhood photos, their friends and relatives wishing them from the U.S. and some other places.

To make the occasion memorable, I chose to wear sarees from Triveni Sarees, who made this selection for me, which earned me a lot of compliments. I wore magenta and blue temple border raw silk saree from Triveni for morning marriage function and in the evening, I wore Kanjiveram weave (from Tamil Nadu) saree in pink -orange and sea green gold pallu in traditional Gujarati way, thus ending the occasion with Two States. This was from their newly launched collection – Shakunt Weaves. My temple jewellery and Laxmi necklace complimented the sarees beautifully! For the first time, for any marriage, I shopped to my heart’s content, I enjoyed it and everyone loved it!

Thanks, Triveni for helping in the selection and making the occasion truly memorable!

I made a cute & pretty friend Asmita Sahoo, who gave me some valuable styling tips for all occasions.

A chance meeting with old friend & colleague Deepika Kumar.

Special mention of Aparnadi’s Mausaji, retired I.A.S. from Hindu College ( my college) who passed out the year I was born. Great interaction with very charming senior couple!

No saree experience is complete without mention of Bhagyashree who revived my interest in wearing saree after many many years!

 

Heart-Breaking: Notre Dame De Paris engulfed in fire


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Last week we received very heart-breaking news of a major fire engulfing the medieval Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, one of France’s most famous landmarks. The 850-year-old Gothic building’s spire and roof have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, have been saved.

The major cause of the fire could be linked to the renovation work that began after cracks appeared in the stone, sparking fears that structure could become unstable. The fire began at around 18:30 (16:30 GMT) and quickly reached the roof of the cathedral, destroying its stained-glass windows and the wooden interior before toppling the spire. Watching such an embodiment of the permanence of a nation burn and its spire collapse is profoundly shocking to people all over the world.

Some 500 firefighters worked to prevent one of the bell towers from collapsing. More than four hours later, the main structure had been “saved and preserved” from total destruction.

Thank God, the destruction could have been massive which was saved due to the timely action of firefighters.

This icon of the French capital city doesn’t need any introduction. The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral is located on the Ile de la Cité, in the 4th arrondissement. It took more than 200 years to build and, for a long time, it was the highest building in Paris. It hosted the coronation of Napoléon Ist and his wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, which inspired the painter Jacques-Louis David to do the famous painting The Coronation of Napoleon, today exhibited in the Louvre Museum. The Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral also has a major role in the mythical eponymous novel by Victor Hugo, published in 1831. In this famous novel, Quasimodo, an orphan hunchback living in the cathedral as a bell ringer, falls in love with the beautiful Esmeralda, a bohemian who dances at the town square.

No other site represents France quite like Notre-Dame. Its main rival as a national symbol, the Eiffel Tower, is little more than a century old. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris since the 1200s.

It has given its name to one of the country’s literary masterpieces. Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is known to the French simply as Notre-Dame de Paris.

The last time the cathedral suffered major damage was during the French Revolution. It survived two world wars largely unscathed.

The church receives almost 13 million visitors each year, more than the Eiffel Tower. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and several statues of the facade of the Catholic cathedral were removed for renovation

The roof, which has been destroyed by the blaze, was made mostly of wood. Some of the art and artefacts were stored overnight in City Hall but they would be moved to the Louvre museum as soon as possible, said French culture minister Franck Riester. Many of the cathedral’s important artefacts – including paintings, sculptures and textiles – were held in its many chapels around the nave.

Sections of the cathedral were under scaffolding as part of the extensive renovations and 16 copper statues had been removed last week. Deputy Paris Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said the building had suffered “colossal damages”, and teams were working to save the cathedral’s remaining artwork.

The damage is of such a massive scale that even one-billion-dollar won’t be enough!

News courtesy: BBC

Mumbai Concrete Jungle & Japanese Miyawaki Jungle? Connection??

Yes, there is a connection? IIT B, host to the very thick plantation and hordes of trees all over the campus is a rare sight in Mumbai which is home to innumerable residential and commercial skyscrapers, flyovers, highways, road, rail and metro network. Do we ever give time to think how much green cover has been lost in the race of infra development? Latest being Metro Car shed coming up in the green lung of Mumbai – Aarey colony. What to say of massive uprooting of plants/trees across Mumbai for Metro routes!

Like many of us, the scenario hurt Subhajit Mukherjee who left his rewarding corporate job to plant trees all over Mumbai. Yes, you heard me right. He is the one responsible for greenery in Mumbai who has planted over 50,000 trees in an around Mumbai. His love for trees/ greenery dates back to his childhood when his grandfather in Allahabad use to take him for plant selection for the back yard of his Bungalow.

Later in life, he realised his calling is there, amidst trees. He is the founder of Mission Green Mumbai and known Environmentalist, who has taken the onus on himself to sensitize citizens of Mumbai towards the importance of greenery. En route IITB, we visited Aarey Nursery where I got to know so much about various plants there. It was an experience, I loved it over a picnic, where I was just amidst plants, trees and greenery.

He interacted with a young team of IIT Bombay recently, who was invited for his guidance for making surroundings green – Indoor and Outdoor to keep AC away in summers. The team enjoyed the interaction very much as he showed the importance of greenery and even a small step in the direction can make a valuable contribution towards climate change. He suggested creating a dense forest on the window of the office which will have a cool effect, besides some dense plants, flower beds and what not.

As “Green Man” he was delighted to be in IIT B because of its green environs. He suggested: let’s make it greener by creating Miyawaki Forest. I knew nothing about Miyawaki forest…he briefly told me that it is dense forest which can be created on a small piece of land, and it is so thick that you have to water trees from outside only. I said wow! Even I can water them.

So, for the uninitiated Miyawaki, it is a method of afforestation/planting trees which involves the planting a number of different types of trees close together in a small pit. By closely planting many random trees close together in a small area enriches the green cover and reinforces the richness of the land. This will lead to co-existence of plants and as a matter of fact, each plant draws from the other vital nutrients and they grow to become strong and healthy.

The speed with which forest cover is depleting, where century-old trees are being brought down in a few hours, though this loss is irreversible. But the solution lies in creating Miyawaki forests, which is a method of tree plantation grows saplings 10 times fast and the forest is 30 times denser. In just 2 years the forest growth is unimaginable.

Don’t you think Miyawaki forest is the answer to cities which are turning to concrete jungles? A small patch of forests in multiple locations within the city will act as a green lung for the metro.

A word about the person from whom this concept originated – Akira Miyawaki from Japan is advocating the value of natural forests and the urgent need to restore them from the last four decades.

Akira Miyawaki is a Japanese botanist and expert in plant ecology, specializing in seeds and the study of natural forests. He is active worldwide as a specialist in the restoration of natural vegetation on degraded land. Since 1993, he has been Professor Emeritus at Yokohama National University and Director of the Japanese Center for International Studies in Ecology. He received the Blue Planet Prize in 2006.

Our salute to Miyawaki and our home-grown Dr Chetan Singh Solanki, Prof. IITB and Solar Energy Pioneer who are doing remarkable work towards creating awareness about green, clean energy access to the world and Subhajit Mukherjee, Environmentalist who is showing the way to Mumbaikars for greener Mumbai.

Currently, Dr Solanki is on a Global mission to sensitize people particularly young generation towards menace of climate change and how it can be countered with renewable energy sources like Solar Energy.

Proud to be associated with him in Gandhi Global Solar Yatra…which is going places literally, not just in India but across continents!

You can visit http://www.ggsy.in to know more, and if you choose to donate, pls do and be a part of this mission which is bound to bring the change.

IITB: Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Special Thanks to Swati Kalwar for organising this interaction!

#MainBhiChowkidar

On Saturday Modiji launched #MainBhiChowkidar campaign, as soon as I watched the video I was like WOW! And couldn’t stop sharing since. Every Indian must watch. What a way to counter Congress’s narrative on Chowkidar and highly regressive and distasteful – Chowkidar Chor Hai! Looks like it is bound to resonate with Indian public, especially with people who want to see Modiji winning rather sweeping 2019.

PM Modi expressed beautifully in his tweet while sharing the video that every conscious citizen of the country is Chowkidar, we all are Chowkidars in our respective fields. People immediately started responding with their selfies/photographs/ posters and their interests and contributions in respective fields on social media. People are proudly saying #MainBhiChowkidar. After closely watching so many elections, I have never seen such great connection with the concept after “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” which has celebrities (though it was not for elections), whereas this has aam janta.

PM added, every Indian who is fighting corruption, dirt or any other social evil is a Chowkidar. Everyone working hard for the progress of the country is Chowkidar. Which Indian would not say #MainBhiChowkidar.

The campaign also drives the narrative of PM’s strong and decisive image which is coming up as a very strong point in the coming elections.

The video has anthem style which is melodiously rendered, doesn’t shout out loud – Vote for Modiji – rather it effectively conveys – Vote for the country – Vote for yourself – Vote for your children – Vote for your future. What could have been a better way of communicating than this?

Video urges people to join PM on March 31, for a program titled Main Bhi Chowkidar where he will interact with people across the country for the pledge BJP has leveraged, a unique tech innovation called conversation cards. People have started getting a personal message from PM when they take a pledge.

#MainBhiChowkidar has resonated well with the public in no time.

I personally have contributed to the cause of the country without ever making a big noise about it. I have never taken a bribe, never bribed anyone, tagged authorities and made them act for the garbage heaps, distributed saplings to thousands of people in Schools and Colleges. Associated with Dadar Beach clean up the program. Taken a keen interest in activities of the Government in last five years and have used my social media handles to the full potential to support Modiji.

RAGA’s Chowkidar Chor Hai and Rafale Rafale Rafale and Saboot, Saboot, Saboot have fallen flat, nobody seems to be believing him, though he tried very hard.

Look forward that how Congress counters this campaign, probably with #MainBhiPappu (Due apologies to all the Pappus)

Watch Mile Sur Mera Tumhara for sheer nostalgia as it has been a part of our gowing up years…

 

 

Ayodhya’s answer – Ayutthaya in Thailand

One again Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was in the news yesterday when all TV channels were discussing the topic through panel discussions, and TV anchors were racing for outdoing each other on the subject. A highly disputed and discussed subject on the planet, Ramjanmabhoomi has been a subject of curiosity all over the world. Everyone has its opinion on Ayodhya dispute but no one’s matters.

While Indians were very hopeful that Ram Mandir will be constructed in the tenure of full majority Government of BJP and with Modiji in the centre and Yogiji in UP, this does not look like happening any time soon.  The channels picked up the topic as the Supreme Court on Friday referred to the Ayodhya land dispute case for mediation and ordered panel to start proceeding within a week and complete it in 8 weeks. There is some spark here, hope some way out happens soon…till then you wait, wait and more wait for Mandir in Ayodhya.

But if you are very keen to visit Ayodhya but can’t visit you, can visit Ayutthaya ( Ayodhya ) in Thailand. Though Ram Mandir in Ayodhya still looks like a distant dream for us, we can now do with the grand Ram temple being constructed in Thailand’s Ayutthaya.

The capital of the mightiest Siamese kingdom (33 kings ruled from here) Ayutthaya was indeed named after our own Ayodhya, and many Thai kings have taken on the official title of King Rama I, II, III and so on.

The Ram temple is being constructed on the bank of Chao Phraya river which flows through the heart of Bangkok. It is said that in the 15th century, the capital of Thailand was a city called Ayutthaya, which is Ayodhya in the local language.

When Burmese soldiers overran this city in the 18th century, a new king rose. He called himself Rama I, established the city now known as Bangkok, wrote the epic Ramakien, which is Ramayana in the local language, made it the national epic, and got it painted as murals on the walls of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, patronised by the royal family, it is believed.

Though he was a Buddhist, the king established his royal credentials by identifying himself with Lord Ram, who was as much a hero for Buddhists of south-east Asia as he was for the Hindus of South Asia.

This once-prosperous Siamese trade and political capital go down as the most glorious as well as the most devastated city in Thai history. Still, tourism is healthy, as the city is bursting with stories to tell.

Wandering through endless ancient ruin sites, you can’t help but feel humbled by the ingenuity of the Ayodha craftsmen and their powerful spiritual beliefs. At the centre of Ayutthaya City is Ayutthaya Historical Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the most visited site in the area. Here, the four spectacular temples of the early Ayutthaya period (1350 – 1529) stand amongst a dense canopy of ancient trees. West of it is the site of the Royal Palace and Royal Chapel (Wat Phra Si Sanphet) – the political and spiritual heart of the lost kingdom.

Ayutthaya is located on a distance of 100 km from Bangkok and it is nearly two hours drive, you can decide to stay overnight there.

So do it with Ayutthaya in Thailand till we have our own in Ayodhya!

 

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