Liebster award

2 Sep

I’ve been nominated by Jennifertheprincesz for the Liebster Award. Thank you so much, Jennifertheprincesz! :)

The award comes with 11 questions, which I need to answer to the best of my abilities. Here we go!

1. What made you start blogging?How is blogging different than keeping a diary for you or is it the same?

It has been over seven years since I started blogging. I was new to the internet then, new to the idea of blogs, and new to writing out my thoughts and voicing them to the world. I am a late bloomer, yes. So, the world of the internet and blogging fascinated me, and I wanted to explore more of it. Also, I was experimenting with writing in different forms – I still am – and a blog sounded like the perfect platform for doing that. That’s how my blogging journey started. I no longer blog there, though. For certain reasons, I gave up on that blog and started this one, which has been a faithful companion for the past few years.

How different is blogging from keeping a diary? For me, both are very different things. My personal diary would reflect the heart of me – the true me – while my blog reflects only the surface of the iceberg. I am so not comfortable with sharing anything and everything about my life on my blog – that is for certain ears (and eyes) only.

2. Do you have a pet? If yes, which one? And if not, why?

I would love to have a dog but, sadly, we don’t have any pet at the moment. The OH and I have always had busy schedules, so it didn’t seem fair to bring a dog home, though both of us would dearly love to. Here is a post I wrote about the very same thing, a couple of years ago.

Things have changed now. I don’t have a full-time job any more. In spite of that, we are not ready to get a pet. Yet. So, that will have to wait for a better time in future, I guess.

3. Which city do you think is the best to settle down in India? And why?

I have lived only in two cities long-term so far – Ahmedabad and Bangalore. I love both, for different reasons. Ahmedabad appeals to me for its small-town feel, the vibrancy of life, the food, the culture, the (comparitively) lower cost of living, and the ease of commuting. Bangalore occupies a place in my heart for its beautiful, beautiful weather, the cosmopolitan culture, the thousands of things I can do here, the wonderful employment opportunities, and the things that I can learn here.

In the long run, I think living in a smaller city like Ahmedabad is great, in the later part of life when most experiences have been had. It is much easier on the nerves.

4. What is the one thing that you ordered in a restaurant and it turned out to be totally yuck and expensive?

A green pesto pasta in an Italian restaurant. I ordered it out of curiosity, and it scarred me for life.

5. If you see your enemy (or simply somebody you dislike) in a helpless situation, will you go forward and help them? Or leave them and enjoy mercilessly?

I would go ahead and help, if the other person is willing to receive it. I am not the kind of person who would stand back and ‘enjoy mercilessly’, in such a situation. Fool? Maybe, yes, but that’s who I am.

6. Have you ever been caught by your parents doing something totally inappropriate for your age?

No. I have always been a role model of a child and adolescent. I am not sure my parents still think the same of me. :)

7. What is that one thing that you criticize publicly, but do the same in private?

Usually, I don’t do that. First off, I am not a big public voicer of complaints or a criticizer, considering that I am a big-time introvert. Secondly, if I don’t like something, I say so. I try my best not to do it just for the sake of doing it, and then stew inside.

8. Do you like water sports? Which one?

Nah. I am not at all a sports person, water ones included. The closest I have come to water sports is walking in the rain, and I love doing that.

9. Have you ever thought (or actually did ) of harming somebody very badly in order to get back at them? How?

No. That, again, is so not me. The worst I would do in such a situation is shout at the other person in my head, and leave the rest to life to take care of.

10. Do you fart and behave like the other person is guilty of the crime?

No.

11. Have you ever been caught by the police ( or worst locked up)? For what reason?
No.

Jennifer, it was fun answering these questions! :)

I am not tagging anyone in particular for the award, since most of the bloggers I read have received it already. If you want to take up the tag on your blog, please do feel free to do so!

H is for…

1 Sep

… Horlicks burfee. :)

The OH had suggested some time back that I make Horlicks Burfee for the letter H, for the Alphabet Cooking Challenge. I made it immediately, but didn’t get the chance to put it up on my blog till date. Gah!

The burfee turned out well, just like mysore pak, though I was horrified at the amount of ghee that went into it. Not something to be had while you are dieting, for sure!

I used the recipe here to make the burfee, and followed it to the letter. I will reproduce the recipe here, just for the sake of reference.

Ingredients (for about 20 pieces):

Gram flour (besan) – 3/4 cup

Horlicks (regular) – 1/4 cup

Sugar – 3/4 cup

Ghee – 10-15 tablespoons

Method:

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a kadhai and add the gram flour. Fry it till it begins to emit a nice fragrance, and starts turning a darker brown. Take the gram flour in a plate, and let it cool down completely.

2. Mix the Horlicks into the gram flour. Ensure that both powders are thoroughly mixed together. Keep aside.

3. Take the sugar in the pan and add enough water to submerge it. Keep the pan on a low flame, and let the sugar and water heat up. Let the sugar syrup come to one-string consistency.

4. At this stage, add the Horlicks-and-gram-flour mixture to the sugar syrup, stirring constantly to ensure that no lumps are formed. Keep the flame medium. Keep adding the ghee to the pan little by little, stirring continuously. Continue this process till the ghee starts to separate out from the mixture. Switch off the gas.

5. Keep a greased plate ready to pour the burfee mixture into, as you continue to stir it.

6. Transfer the burfee mixture to the greased plate as soon as you switch off the gas. Let it cool down completely. Cut into pieces at this stage.

Yumminess, I tell you! :)

Just Read

28 Aug

The Guestbook – Holly Martin

When people get to know that the owner of Willow Cottage, a seaside resort, is called Annie Butterworth, they assume that she will be a grandmotherly figure who loves serving her guests home-made tea and lemon cake. They are pleasantly surprised to know that Annie is quite young, in her 30s – in fact, she is a very beautiful, young widow. Annie loves Willow Cottage, and loves making her guests comfortable. One of her ideas to go about doing this is to have a guestbook at the reception, wherein every guest can write their heart out. Guests can write about their plans for the day, suggestions and complaints, or about their family or themselves. The guestbook is very much a public book, but that doesn’t prevent guests from writing anything and everything in it. That’s how the story of Holly Martin’s The Guestbook takes shape, through entries in the guestbook of Willow Cottage.

I picked up the book because the premise sounded quite different and cute. And, yes, the book did turn out to be cute. It is chick-lit, yes, and no literary masterpiece, but a fun read. I was quite charmed by the descriptions of Willow Cottage, Annie and her guests, her eccentric friends, and the sea. I doubt any real-life guest would write quite so much in the guestbook of a resort that he/she is staying in, but I chose not to dwell too much on that.

If you can ignore that little thing, The Guestbook is quite an entertaining story, well told at that. Grab this book if you are looking for a fun, breezy read, which is not disgustingly dumb.

Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found – Sophie Blackall

You meet a stranger on an elevator, and exchange glances with him/her. You find him/her extremely interesting, but don’t initiate any conversation apart from, maybe, a ‘Hi!’. The elevator door opens at a certain floor, and the person gets out. Soon, you reach your destination, too. You aren’t able to forget the stranger, though, and regret that you didn’t talk to him/her. Maybe the other person had the potential to become a great friend or lover? The story is now, however, over. Or is it? Well, if you really want to pursue and find out if you two are destined to meet, you can advertise on a forum like Craigslist’s Missed Connections. If the other person reads the advertisement too, you have a second chance at meeting and talking to each other! And who knows what stories might come out of that?

I found the concept of these Missed Connections fascinating, as did Sophie Blackall. In a way, it is incredibly romantic, isn’t it? And I am a sucker for such real-life romance stories. Sophie Blackall found these personal advertisements so charming that she decided to convert them into colourful illustrations, and give a new life to them. That’s what the book Missed Connections is all about. I have Ramya’s Bookshelf to thank, for getting to know about this book.

I loved the sound of the book, and began reading it immediately, as soon as I got my hands on it. I finished it in two days, reading it off and on, and LOVED the experience. The ‘missed connections’ that Sophie has chosen are quite interesting, and makes one wonder what happened after the advertisement was placed. The illustrations are wonderfully done.

Check this out, as an example…

Image Source: Here

… or this one…

Image Source: Here

I have no complaints with the book at all. It is a piece of art – a collection of many beautiful pieces of art, actually. A book collector’s item, for sure. Quite a quirky and unique book, I would highly recommend it.

If you wish to know more about the book, I would suggest you visit the author’s blog on the project.

Have you read any or both of these books? What are your thoughts on it/them?

Top 10 Books I Really Want To Read But Don’t Own Yet

26 Aug

As you guys probably already know, I’ve been having a tough time finding books that are good enough. Something or the other is just not right with the ones I pick up. So, the other day, I sat myself down with a pen and a notebook, referring to book blogs and Goodreads and the recommendations of friends, and made a list of the books that I really, really, really would like to try out at the moment. Coincidentally, the topic for Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke And The Bookish this week happens to be ‘Top 10 books I really want to read but don’t own yet’, so I decided to put up my list here.

toptentuesdayHere we go…

1. Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage - Molly Wizenberg

I adored Molly Wizenberg’s debut book, A Homemade Life: Stories And Recipes From My Kitchen Table, which was a memoir and one of the very first foodie memoirs that I read. In fact, it was this book that started me on a foodie memoir-reading spree. Now, her second book, the sequel to A Homemade Life - Delancey – is out and I am eager to read it. I hope it is as good as the first book, or even better!

2. Korma, Kheer & Kismet: Five Seasons In Old Delhi – Pamela Timms

I am an occasional reader of the largely-Delhi-related food blog Eat And Dust. I have loved the author’s posts whenever I have read them. So, when I came to know of her book – called Korma, Kheer & Kismet: Five Seasons In Old Delhi – I wanted to read it immediately. I hope it will be a scrumptious read, like her blog. Who can resist that title, BTW?

3. My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (With Recipes) - Luisa Weiss

It looks like there are quite a few more foodie memoirs that I want to read. This is a book that I came across, by chance, in a bookstore some time back and was attracted to instantly. I walked out without buying the book – I wanted to think over the purchase – but now, I have decided I do want to read it. I have a feeling I will like the book.

4. The Italian Wedding - Nicky Pellegrino

This book is on this list because I want to read something light and frothy, because I usually like books with Italy and food and weddings and wedding gowns, and because I have read and reasonably liked one of Nicky Pellegrino’s other books – Delicious.

5. The Hat Shop On The Corner – Marita Conlon – McKenna

While making this list, I remembered reading about this book on this girl’s blog a long time ago and thinking that it sounded cute. I searched for the post in question, and the book still sounded cute. Hence, the addition to this list. I think the book is yet to be released in India, though – I am unable to find it anywhere.

6. The Guestbook – Holly Martin

I am quite fond of books in which stories are told through devices like diary entries, letters, scrapbooks, e-mails and the like. So, when I came across this book, in which the story is told entirely through entries in a guestbook in a holiday home, I knew I wanted to give it a try. This is the first time I have heard about this author, and I really hope I enjoy the book.

7. The Complete Calvin & Hobbes – Bill Watterson

I discovered the inimitable brat, his best friend and their antics quite late in my life, and fell in love with them instantly. I so want to own and read the complete C&H collection, to read off and on, and smile and nod at their philosophies, but have never gotten around to doing that. The boxed set, which I really really want, is quite expensive, an inhibiting factor for me. Kind friends have sent across the PDF versions of part of the collection, but that hasn’t held the same charm. I have, hence, held off reading these books till I get hold of the paper books. If anyone is wondering what to buy for my birthday/anniversary/Diwali/Christmas/any other occasion/without occasion, just like that, you now know, right?

8. Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found - Sophie Blackall

I am a sucker for romance, real-life romantic stories all the more. So, when I heard about this book on Ramya’s Bookshelf some time ago, I knew I wanted to read it. The book contains drawings by illustrator Sophie Blackall, based on Craigslist’s Missed Connections. Now, if that isn’t romantic and very unique, what is?

9. Ruskin Bond’s Book Of Nature

I have loved Ruskin Bond’s books that have been based on the places that he has lived in. I love the simplicity and the honesty with which he writes, and the way his words paint lovely images in my mind. I now want to get my hands on his book based on nature, Ruskin Bond’s Book Of Nature.

10. That Book Woman – Heather Henson and David Small

This book sounds delectable to me. Plus it is reminiscent of a book that I read some time back and loved, Masha Hamilton’s The Camel Bookmobile. I so want to read it! I know I will love it. I just know.

I so hope these books turn out to be just what I need at the moment, in terms of reading.

Have you read any of these?

Just Read

25 Aug

Chocolate Wishes – Trisha Ashley

Chloe Lyons loves making chocolate, and she is good at it, too. She specialises in making chocolate angels, which contain messages for the people who eat them, much like fortune cookies. She believes the right message reaches the right person when the time is right. Her business is flourishing, thanks to the novelty of the concept and the Mayan chocolate charm that her warlock grandfather, Grumps, has given her. She still misses her first boyfriend, Raffy Sinclair, and all the antics of her quirky family haven’t been able to make her forget him. There are changes set to happen in the beautiful English village of Sticklepond where she lives, and where magic is accepted as part and parcel of life, though. How these changes affect Chloe’s life is what makes up the story of Chocolate Wishes.

Charming storyline, right? Is it any wonder that I was seduced by that kind of description on the dust jacket – all that quirkiness and chocolate and magic and a pretty English village in the story? Sadly, though, the book disappointed. I came away utterly untouched by it. Chloe is nothing but a typical dumb chick-lit heroine, who doesn’t seem to have a jot of brain in her head. The story was so predictable that I could see what was going to happen next, at almost every stage. I could predict the end less than half-way through the book.

Some of the characters are quite colourful, and I enjoyed meeting them. I liked the village of Sticklepond too – it sounded like a place where a lot of fun things happen on a daily basis. I loved the descriptions of the chocolate-making, too. Only the story was a total let-down. I finished the book because I didn’t want to abandon the book, and that’s about it.

I picked up Chocolate Wishes without knowing that it is a sequel to Trisha Ashley’s A Winter’s Tale, but that didn’t make much difference to my reading or understanding of the book. It is a pretty simple storyline to follow.

Overall, this was not a book that I would recommend. Go for it if you want something simple and extremely light, and some pretty descriptions of chocolate-making and English villages.

Extra Virgin: Amongst The Olive Groves Of Liguria – Annie Hawes

Annie and her sister come to Liguria, a small coastal town in Italy, on work and find themselves enchanted by an offer made to them – one to buy a ramshackle cottage on a hillside, dirt-cheap! Annie has always wanted real estate of her own, but has never been able to buy some. This is the perfect chance to do so, and she persuades her sister to go for it, with her. This, in spite of warnings by the villagers that no one ever buys a hillside cottage to stay in permanently – such cottages are only used to lodge in while working on the fields on the hills. Annie and her sister do end up buying the cottage, and becoming Ligurian citizens. Are they accepted into the Ligurian community just as easily? Do they regret their decision of buying the cottage? How do they manage living on the hillside, something they have no experience in doing, coming from the city of London as they are? All of this and more is what forms Annie’s memoir, Extra Virgin: Amongst The Olive Groves Of Liguria.

I liked the book and enjoyed reading it, though it didn’t work the same magic on me as Frances Mayes and Marlena de Blasi’s works have. Maybe it is unfair to compare author styles that way? I thought there was way too much detail in the book, more than was required, adding an unnecessary hundred pages or so. Some parts of the book are charming, though, like the one where Annie and her sister learn how to make their own wine. The book was quite enlightening too, in the sense that it opened my eyes to how tough the lives of people in certain parts of the world actually are. The quirky characters of the villagers of Liguria are fun to get to know, too.

Would I recommend this book? I would. Be prepared, though, for quite a bit of detailed writing. This is not one entirely breezy read.

Have you read any or both of these books? How did you find it/them?

What are you reading, at present?

 

An Afternoon At The Punnathurkotta Elephant Camp

23 Aug

My blog posting on the occasion of World Elephant Day last week triggered some more memories – of a beautiful trip to Kerala that we undertook a couple of years back. One of the high points of this trip, at least for me, was a visit to the Punnathurkotta Elephant Camp in Guruvayoor. Our entire family had travelled to Kerala then for a wedding, after which we visited the Guruvayoor Shree Krishna temple and the sanctuary. Little did I know, when the trip was planned, that I would end up loving the camp so much that I would yearn to visit again even years after the trip!

The Punnathurkotta Elephant Camp is located just 3 km. away from the Guruvayoor temple, and houses the elephants that belong to the temple. When we visited, there were about 60 elephants housed in the camp. Not only are the temple’s elephants housed and maintained here, but also trained to participate in the various festivities undertaken in the temple. Most of the elephants here are offerings made by devotees to the temple, at one point or the other.

It was a sunny, but pleasant afternoon when we entered the camp. I still remember the sight that met our eyes then, and the collective gasp that escaped our mouths. Lush greenery all around, a number of elephants – some walking, some standing, some eating, some drinking, some bathing, some just sitting. Overall, an extremely beautiful sight. Considering that we are an elephant-crazy family, we started snapping away with our cameras as we explored the little sanctuary, my brothers-in-law chatting away, nineteen to the dozen, to the elephant keepers there.

The pens built for the elephants

We learnt that some elephants were kept in pens, unchained for most of the day. Some others were a bit ferocious, and had to be chained. Some were recuperating from diseases, and hence had to be kept in seclusion. It was rather sad to see the ones that were chained, but we were told it had to be done for certain animals. Overall, the elephants did look happy and well-maintained, and the place was quite neat and clean.

An elephant, chained to a tree

An elephant being walked inside the sanctuary

Feeding!

Feeding, again!

We were utterly fascinated to see some of the elephants being bathed. The mahouts use bits of brick and coconut fibre to scrub them thoroughly, and then hose them down with clean water. It was such a beautiful sight! The elephants seemed to be revelling in the experience, soaking in all of it!

Look at the way this elephant has lifted his trunk to enable the mahouts to clean under his chin! Cute, no?

The camp is located in the grounds of Punnathur Raja, a former ruler of the place. The complex also has a traditional Keralite home, which used to belong to the Raja. Presently, this house is used as a training school for mahouts. (We were too fascinated by the elephants to take any pictures of the home, in case you are wondering why there aren’t any!)

All in all, the elephant camp is one lovely place, a must-visit according to me. Definitely one of the lesser-known places in Guruvayoor. Don’t miss it!

And…

20 Aug

…. window displays have started going the Ganesha style. Shows how near we are to ‘Ganpati Bappa Moriya’. :)

Spotted this in a small grocery shop, and couldn’t resist snapping a picture. Found it quite creatively done, with little packets of Sunrise Coffee. :)

Top 10 Books People Have Been Telling Me To Read

19 Aug

I came across an interesting weekly book meme on The Broke And The Bookish, called Top 10 Tuesday, and have decided to take it up. Hopefully, I’ll be posting every Tuesday.

toptentuesdayThe topic for this week is: Top 10 books people have been telling you that you must read.

Here goes my list.

 1. The Elegance Of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry and Alison Andersen

Quite a lot of my bookish friends have recommended this book to me. They say it is an awesome book, one that will make you stop and think, and one that I will be able to relate to. I even have this book with me but, somehow, have never got around to reading it.

2. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

Yes, you read that right. I haven’t read THE Pride And Prejudice. I haven’t read any classics, actually, to be precise. Life just happened for me that way. A lot of people have told me that I should read at least this one classic book. If you read only one classic in your entire life, let it be Pride And Prejudice, I’ve been told.

3. The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is an extremely beautiful book about books, one that book lovers will absolutely adore, I’ve been told. More than one blog friend has recommended this book to me. Another book that, somehow, I haven’t picked up in spite of a great many recommendations.

4. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Almost all the book bloggers that I read have highly recommended this one. It is beautifully written, they say, and brings out the complexities of human relationships wonderfully. I don’t think I am ready to read this one yet, though.

5. The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This is one more book that has been recommended by almost all of the book bloggers I read. It is a book about books and book lovers, empathy and the power of love, and is heart-wrenchingly afraid. However, I am afraid all the hype has spoiled the book for me. I even picked up the book a couple of times in bookstores, but didn’t buy it. I have the feeling it is not going to be all that special for me. I’ve heard this one has pulled out a lot of people from the reading slumps they have been in. So, I might just give it a try some time soon.

6. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Yet another book that has been recommended by almost everyone in book blog-land, something I have not read yet. I’ve been told it is a wonderful story, one that will tug at my heart. Another book that I don’t feel ready to read yet.

7. The Taj Mahal Trilogy by Indu Sundaresan

Consisting of The Twentieth Wife, The Feast Of Roses and The Shadow Princess, this trilogy has been recommended to me time and time again. I read The Shadow Princess about a year back and loved it too, but I haven’t been in the mood to read the rest of the series, yet.

8. The Secret Lives Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

A couple of blog friends whose reviews I trust have told me to read this one. Apparently, it is hauntingly beautiful, and is all about the bond between mothers and daughters. Again, I don’t think I am ready to read this book, yet.

9. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I don’t need to elaborate on the huge number of Harry Potter fans in blogosphere, do I? This series has been much-loved, and much-recommended. I am not a big fantasy fan, though, and the first book of the series that I read didn’t particularly charm me. I didn’t go on to read the rest of the series.

10. Persepolis: The Story Of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

I’ve been told that this is a book that will capture my heart, for sure, as it is about a little girl growing up in a highly conservative environment, trying to fight her circumstances. I have this graphic novel with me – I have had it for quite some time now, actually – but haven’t read it yet. I don’t know anything about the history the book depicts, so I think I should read up on it first before I pick this one up. That hasn’t been happening since oh-so-long!

Tell me, what are the books you have been highly recommended of late? I would love to know!

An oasis of beauty and calm: The Buddha Vihara in Gandhinagar

17 Aug

It was quite by chance that we found the Mahabodhi Lok Shanti Buddha Vihara in Gandhinagar, a couple of days ago. We had never heard of this place before, nor passed by it ever. Curious, we decided to walk into the Vihara and find out what it exactly was. We were a bit hesitant since we knew absolutely nothing about the place, and the gates, below a beautiful grey stone arch, were closed. There was something about the Vihara, though, that pulled us in. We decided to open the gates and find out if we could get inside – take permission, if required. Little did we know, then, that we were about to walk into one of the most beautiful and serene places we have ever been to in Bangalore city.

DSC01613

Inside, we found a few monks sitting on the steps leading to a large hall. We asked them if we could go in, and they said we could; there was no problem with that at all. So we did. Atop the steps, we found a spotlessly clean marble hall, with a statue of the Buddha in meditation. There were candles lit up before the altar, casting their reflection on the marble floor. A couple of people, here and there, were deep in meditation, unconscious to our presence and the world around them. No wonder the hall radiated such an aura of peace and happiness. A sense of calm enveloped us as soon as we stepped into the hall.

The meditation hall is surrounded by a little garden, with lush foliage. There are small pathways built in the garden. All of it together, it presents a very pretty sight.

There is a temple dedicated to the Buddha on the fringes of the garden, again very peaceful and beautiful. You could stay there for hours, just soaking in all that tranquility.

The walls of the Vihara depict various scenes from the life of the Buddha. Very prettily represented.

Scenes like this…

…. and this…

… met our eye as we walked around the complex. Enchantingly beautiful, like something out of a picture book.

There is a school for monks-in-training and residences for them at one end of the complex, where we spotted some of them enjoying the pretty evening. Some little ones in monk’s garb were playing with their friends, some were sitting in groups and chatting, while some others were by themselves, doing nothing, just relaxing.

Prayer flags, of a hundred different colours and sizes and types, were on the trees all around us. Some of them were made of lace, some of bright-coloured chequered cloth, some had muted colours. One of them had a house on it – I wonder what it was supposed to signify.

We learnt that there was a huge Bodhi (peepal) tree in the centre of the complex, a tree that was held sacred by the monks. We could visit, if we wanted to, and sit under the tree – seeking enlightenment, like the Buddha? A notice near the area told us that there were some rules to visiting the places – the crux of all of them being that we needed to maintain utmost respect for the Buddha and the place and not desecrate it in any way. We did just that.

The Bodhi tree was spectacular – a huge peepal tree strung with prayer flags in brilliant colours. There was an extremely colourful statue of the Buddha, in prayer, under the tree. This bit of the Vihara is so, so, so serene, it makes you want to live there, if only for all the peace that it fills you with. My most favourite part of the entire complex, I would say!

I HAD to come home and immediately read up more about the place. The Vihara was established by the Venerable Acharya Buddharakkhita, in the year 1994. It is a venue for meditation, chanting, discussions, lectures and studies of Buddhism. A statue of the Acharya finds pride of place in the Vihara as well. Apparently, the Vihara in Bangalore is a replica of the Mahabodhi temple in Buddhagaya.

Do visit this place if you are looking for an oasis of green and calm, in the hustle and bustle of a city like Bangalore. It is definitely a place worth experiencing. I am sure we will be visiting the Vihara a lot more in the times to come.

Check out the Mahabodhi Society, Bangalore’s website, if you wish to know more about the place and its founder.

Note:  We ensured that we maintained utter decorum and respect when we visited the Vihara. The photos have been taken with permission, with a great deal of consideration and no interference to the day-to-day activities of the monks there.

It is my humble request to all visitors to the Vihara to visit the same way, keeping in mind the spirit of the place. Thank you!

On The Occasion Of World Elephant Day, 2014

13 Aug

I just got to know that yesterday was World Elephant Day 2014. I had never come across such a thing before, and was intrigued. I went on to read a bit about this day on the internet, and was quite surprised at what I found.

When did the day originate and why?

Apparently, this day was first launched in the year 2012 to draw the world’s attention to the plight of the Asian and African elephants. Though this magnificent creature is much loved in general, there are a number of evils that have taken the elephant world in its grip – including poaching, ivory stealing and mistreatment of the animal. All of this together has resulted in a sad state of affairs, with the elephant population almost on the brink of extinction.

Recent figures indicate that there are only about 4,00,000 African elephants remaining worldwide, while this number is only 40,000 in case of the Asian elephant. Overall, the population of elephants has dropped by 62% in the last decade, with hundreds of animals being killed every day for illegal activities.

Doing our bit

I love elephants. I love how they are huge, yet so graceful. I love how they are gentle, yet strong. I love the tales about their memory and love that I have heard so many times over from people. I didn’t even know that they were on the brink of extinction, though. Sad.

However, I have decided to do my bit for the beautiful creatures now. Do you want to help as well? Here’s how you can, too:

1. Be aware

Be aware of the various evils perpetrated against elephants, and be ready to raise your voice against them. Read up about the injustices meted out to animals and vow that you will not support them, come what may.

2. Pledge your support

Pledge your support to organisations that are working to eliminate poaching of elephants, illegal trade of ivory, protecting the natural habitat of these animals, and finding solutions to areas of conflict between humans and elephants. You can help out either monetarily or physically.

3. Do not consume ivory

Do not consume ivory. Or any other product that you know has been procured by harming an animal, for that matter.

4. Do not support elephant use for entertainment or profit

Do not support organisations or people who mistreat elephants, harm their natural habitat, or use the animals for entertainment or generating profit.

5. Spread awareness

Spread awareness about the plight of elephants whenever and wherever you can. Encourage more and more people to become elephant-conscious, and to pledge their support to the conservation of these animals.

6. Buy fair-trade products

As far as possible, ensure that you buy fair-trade products, which have not led to destruction of forests or mistreatment of animals in any manner.

7. Support organisations that promote elephant-friendly products

Extend your support to those organisations that produce and sell elephant-friendly products. Help in spreading awareness about such products as well.

8. Visit elephants in their natural habitat

If you wish to observe elephants, do so in their natural habitat, in as non-intrusive a way as possible. Choose eco-tourism operators who can take you to places where you can see elephants being treated with dignity and love.

9. Brainstorm

Brainstorm with your friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family, and come up with ideas that you can practically implement to conserve the elephant population.

10. Support cultures that have lived in harmony with elephants

Study about cultures that have lived in harmony with elephants since generations. Do your best to support such cultures and practices.

References: World Elephant Day

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