Pink Twins

Pink Twins
Gangtok

Yellow Villa

Yellow Villa
Gangtok

Sparkling Rai Saag

Sparkling Rai Saag
Gangtok

Lovely Poppy Flowers

Lovely Poppy Flowers
Gangtok

A Different type of Seasonal Flower

A Different type of Seasonal Flower
Gangtok

Blue Flavour

Blue Flavour
Gangtok

Pink & White Combination

Pink & White Combination

Dark Pink Flavour

Dark Pink Flavour
Gangtok 6th March 16

Purple Charm

Purple Charm
CS Quarter Gangtok

Magnificent Yellow and Red Tulip

Magnificent Yellow and Red Tulip
Conservatory Near Selep Tank

Charm of Red Tulips

Charm of Red Tulips
Conservatory near Selep Tank

Lord Buddha

Lord Buddha
1-D Terminal New Delhi

Attraction of Red Panda

Attraction of Red Panda
Saramsa Garden

Lord Ganesh made of oranges

Lord Ganesh made of oranges
Saramsa Garden

Charm of Seasonal Flower

Charm of Seasonal Flower
Gaurds Ground Gangtok

Unmatched beauty

Unmatched beauty
Sikkim Organic Festival

Green is always soothing

Green is always soothing
Sikkim Organic Festival 2016

Yellow Orchid

Yellow Orchid
Somewhere in Gangtok

White Orchid

White Orchid
Manan Kendra

Purple Orchid

Purple Orchid
Manan Kendra, 31-10-2015

Gift of Nature

Gift of Nature
Near Cherry Building

Majestic View of Sea

Majestic View of Sea
Marina, Chennai, 19-10-15

Typical Sikkim Pillar Carving and painting

Typical Sikkim Pillar Carving and painting
Hotel Nork Hill

Mirror Reflection, Changed Angle

Mirror Reflection, Changed Angle
Nork Hill, 24-11-2015

Mirror Trick

Mirror Trick
Hotel Nork Hill, Gtok, 24-11-2015

Yes we have the power

Yes we have the power
Qtr at Devt Area, 25-11-2015

Majestic View of K.jenga from SLA

Majestic View of K.jenga from SLA
Gangtok dt 20-11-2015

MIRROR IMAGE OR COMPUTER TRICK

MIRROR IMAGE OR COMPUTER TRICK
NEW DELHI 22-10-15

BRILLIANT KATHAK PERFORMANCE

BRILLIANT KATHAK PERFORMANCE
MRS MALI SMU 13-10-2015

SAROD RECITAL

SAROD RECITAL
SMU CONVOCATION 13-10-15

SHOWCASING SIKKIM CULTURE

SHOWCASING SIKKIM CULTURE
ITM GANGTOK 14-10-15

RED BEAUTY

RED BEAUTY
GANGTOK

ARCHITECTURAL MARVEL

ARCHITECTURAL MARVEL
MAYFAIR GANGTOK

OM NAMAH SHIVAY

OM NAMAH SHIVAY
MAYFAIR GANGTOK 02-11-15

Smile and Joy

Smile and Joy
24th September Delhi

Catelia Orchid

Catelia Orchid
Gangtok

Beautiful Chinaware Lampshed

Beautiful Chinaware Lampshed
Gangtok

Catelia Orchid

Catelia Orchid
Gangtok on 7-10-15

Morning Glow

Morning Glow
Denzong Regency- Gangtok on 7-10-15

Pink Orchid

Pink Orchid
Pakyong Area

Green Orchid

Green Orchid
Bojeytar Pakyong 26 Feb 15

Tabla or Log Piece

Tabla or Log Piece
HMI Darjeeling Nov 2014

Hand can do anything

Hand can do anything
Birla Science Museum Kolkata

Legacy and Heritage

Legacy and Heritage
Indian Museum Kolkata

Queen Nephretus of Egypt

Queen Nephretus of Egypt
India Museum Kolkata 4th Mar 15

A Buddhist Stone Art Piece

A Buddhist Stone Art Piece
Tashi Delek June 2014

Foot Print of Bason

Foot Print of Bason
Satpura Forest

Foot Print of Tiger

Foot Print of Tiger
Satpura Forest (MP) March 14

Unique Piece of Pine Wood

Unique Piece of Pine Wood

Lovely Twins

Lovely Twins

Pink,Pink,Pink

Pink,Pink,Pink
Orchid,not only Spl ,It lasts longer Also

Clean Water has a Different Impact

Clean Water has a Different Impact
Rangeet at Jorethang ,24-11-14

What a Ravishing Beauty ?

What a Ravishing Beauty ?
Teesta near Kalijhora, 19-12-14

Pre Dawn Captivating Beauty

Pre Dawn Captivating Beauty
K.JUNGA, 6:20 AM 18 -12-14

Another Dawn View -Different Angle

Another Dawn View -Different Angle
K.JUNGA, 18-12-14

View at Dawn in Biting Cold

View at Dawn in Biting Cold
K.JUNGA 18-12

Dawn Scene-2

Dawn Scene-2
V Awas 18 -12-14

Dawn Scenario

Dawn Scenario
K.JUNGA

Morning Means End of Night

Morning Means End of Night
K. JUNGA,

View at Dawn

View at Dawn
K.JUNGA 2 ,18-12-14

Early Morning Freshness

Early Morning Freshness
K.JUNGA, 18-12-14

What an eye opener early in the day?

What an eye opener early in the day?
View of 17-12-2014 from Terrace of V. Awas

Another view of full snow around Mt Kanchendzonga

Another view of full snow around  Mt Kanchendzonga
17-12-2014

Magnificent view after bone chilling night

Magnificent view after bone chilling night
17-12-2014

Beauty of Kachendzonga after a cold night

Beauty of Kachendzonga after a cold night
Vidhayak Awas Gangtok

Amazing charm of Green Orchid

Amazing charm of Green Orchid
HMI Darjeeling

Green Orchid

Green Orchid
HMI DARJEELING (13-11-14)

Bell Flower in full bloom

Bell Flower in full bloom

Yellow Orchid

Yellow Orchid
Dec 14 Circuit House

View of Kanchendzonga always inspires

View of Kanchendzonga always inspires
Vidhayak Aawas Gangtok

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom
November 14 Ganesh Tok Gangtok

What a view after getting up ?

What a view after getting up ?
B-1 Vidhayak Aawas Gangtok

Chanda Mama looking at Kanchendzonga

Chanda Mama looking at Kanchendzonga
11-11-2014 VIP COLONY

Red Rose

Red Rose
Gangtok

Cranes having Gala Time

Cranes having Gala Time
Tigaon, Faridabad (2nd Oct 14)

Yes I am from Faridabad

Yes I am from Faridabad
Tiny, Beautiful Bird at NTPC, Ballabgarh (29.9.14)

Water Vital for Life

Water Vital for Life
Awesome view of Teesta near Kalijhora

Yes I had a Bath

Yes I had a Bath
Gladiola at 6200 ft.

Soothing Morning View

Soothing Morning View
Mt. Khangchendzonga from C.House (April, 14)

Natural Yellow Fascinates

Natural Yellow Fascinates
Gangtok (April, 2014)

Flowery Bell ?

Flowery Bell ?
Circuit House (May 14)

Riot of Colour in Monsoon

Riot of Colour in Monsoon
Circuit House, Gangtok(May 14)

Blushing orange

Blushing orange
Circuit House Gangtok (May 14)

Magnificent Taj

Magnificent Taj
Sept 2013

I can lift Taj Mahal

I can lift Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal,Sept end 2013

Natural fan to beat the heat

Natural fan to beat the heat
India Gate (24.08.14)

Engineering Marvel

Engineering Marvel
Coronation Bridge (22.08.2014)

Cascading water, soothing to eyes

Cascading water, soothing to eyes
Scene near Teesta Baazar (22.8.14)

Teesta attracts at every bend

Teesta attracts at every bend
16.7.2014

Monkey jump

Monkey jump
Teesta River, Birik(22.8.14)

Onset of Night

Onset of Night
Qutub,Sept.13

Qutub,Dusk Scene

Qutub,Dusk Scene
Sept.13

Together we take a Plunge

Together we take a Plunge
Clean Calicut Beach, Feb-2013

Setting Sun, always soothing

Setting Sun, always soothing
Dusk at a Gaya village(15.5.13)

Green Paradise in Concrete Jungle

Green Paradise in Concrete Jungle
Lake surrounding Purana Quila(20.10.13)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

An Egyptian Holiday



One had heard and read a great deal about Egypt and its 5000 year-old civilization in the History and G.K. books. There was always a desire to experience the same. When an opportunity came my way in November, 1997, there was no rethinking. I simply grabbed it. On confirmation of air ticket for the Delhi-Dubai circuit, I was prepared to briefly feel the glory of this important ancient country. I was on the verge of setting my feet on the continent of Africa for the first time.

There is nothing of significance to remember about the Emirates flight to Dubai except that the generous air hostesses took photos of all the passengers and handed over a copy to each one of us. Another redeeming feature was, perhaps, the provision of individual T.V. even in the Economy Class. On arrival, it was a pleasant surprise to avail of the famous Lounge at the swanky arrival terminal of Dubai airport. Owing to the friendly atmosphere and excellent hospitality, we never knew that a good four hours had elapsed before we were airborne again. Not much of activity and interaction followed during the five hour second leg of the journey between Dubai and Cairo, located in two separate continents and time-zones.

By the time we made it to Cairo, it was already dark. My desire to have a look at the famous Pyramids and the Mediterranean Sea from sky, therefore, could not materialize. The airport building of the only mega city of Egypt looked organized. The presence of a large number of security men, however, did convey that all of us had to take care while moving from one place to another. It was, nevertheless, nice to meet an officer of Indian Embassy who came to receive our four member delegation. Not only the drive to Hotel El Gezirah Sheraton was smooth, the over all weather appeared pleasant. Layers of fly-overs on the way spoke of the volume of traffic. The round shape of the hotel, located on the banks of River Nile was well-lit and the structure stood out from the buildings in the neighbourhood, when I had a solo stroll following not so cumbersome check-in.

Around 23.00 hours, when I reached my allotted room on the 10th floor, the view of the river and the city was simply awesome. Before I hit the cosy bed, it was a surprise to see an armed guard in the corridor. While using a shoe shining machine, he greeted me with a smile. When I wished to interact, his poor English, unfortunately, became a stumbling block. The next morning, he showed me a safe area for walk and jogging. As if this was not sufficient, he did extend a helping hand in the evening when two of us decided to negotiate a Tonga-ride to the nearest market, purely for fun. Such a behaviour even after his normal duty hours could confirm his noble intentions. He also asked us, nonetheless, not to roam alone in the city.

The day one, as expected, was consumed in official deliberations with our counterparts and the connected offices located all over the sprawling city. One could manage, however, a glimpse of the dressing and behaviour patterns of local people, whenever we passed through a congested area. A visit to Pyramids at Giza in the evening could not be planned due to a logistic snag. To help us overcome our latent dissatisfaction, our hosts arranged a visit to the Cairo Tower and Egyptian Museum. Latter had an imposing fa├žade. We were exposed to the varied facets of once vibrant Nile River civilization. It was amazing to hear the interesting deeds of the Pharaohs (Kings) and the importance given to the birds and animals. The art or the practice which, sounded most impressive was that of the ‘Mummification’, the meticulous preservation of the dead bodies. Shrunken and embalmed, many of them were lying in the Museum. Apart from the durable chemicals of that era, it was the resolve to preserve the body of a king or a queen or an aristocrat, which deserved to be taken note of. The funeral processions were also reported to be very elaborate affairs. Equally interesting was to learn about the country’s French connection.

Before we called it a day, we did not forget to try some spicy local snacks and purchase a few mementoes, such as, miniature stone and metal pyramids, Papyrus paintings and bust of kings and queens of ancient Egypt. The narrow lanes of the curio market were akin to similar settings in old Delhi or Bazars of Calcutta. It was same kind of noise as well as bonhomie. A black stone bust of Queen Nephratus, bought on the occasion, still sparkles in my living room. She was reported to have sacrificed her life for the cause of emancipation of women.

With a view to devote focussed attention to the pyramids, we drove to Gizeh (Giza) archeological site in the outskirts of the city fairly early, the following day. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world was visible from a distance of approximately two kms. Cheops, Chephren and Micerinus, the three great pyramids were found arranged diagonally in such a way that none of them hides the sun from the other two. Cheops, the largest one, originally had a height of 146 metre with a ten metre square shaped platform on top.

It was learnt that a pyramid was constructed in tiers or steps. When the square shaped base (length of each side being equal to the height) was completed, the polished stone blocks would be lifted by a kind of crane made of short timbers onto the first tier. The cranes would be shifted up from stage to stage. When we got closer, we came across several of such triangular structures. After a round of three great pyramids, we were dropped at the entrance of Cheops. We could immediately notice the huge blocks of stones plastered nicely over each other. Subsequent to minute observation, it was the time to photograph the wonder from different angles. Soon, some of us managed to climb up the steep steps leading to the top of the pyramid. The inside view was simply fascinating. Before we make it to the summit, we are shown a large locked room that contained a ‘Mummy’ of an important king and his priceless belongings. The view of Cairo from the top was panoramic.



Next in our schedule, were a camel ride at the base of pyramids and a close look at the Sphinx, a seventy three metre long gigantic statue having face of a human being and body of a lion. Some portions of this mythical man-animal were found defaced, presumably by wind erosion. Needless to say, these also provided a good photographic opportunity.

We returned to Giza by dusk to witness a marvellous Light and Sound Show. It presented the glory of the vibrant and developed civilization of Egypt in a powerful way, something which could not be understood or visualized well by the hectic visits to the pyramids or the Egyptian Museum. The description about great human effort involved in getting huge boulders through the Nile river route for building the pyramids and surrounding structures over a period of eighty years was both convincing and incredible. The stones were brought without any mechanical support from hundreds of miles. At the end of the show I could notice some similarities between the Indus Valley and the Egyptian civilizations.

The next evening we availed of a cruise over the Nile river. A large boat managed and catered to by the Oberoi Group of India was beautifully lit. One after another, lovely performances followed-Spanish and English songs sung by a short, chubby Egyptian girl and an ethnic dance showing elaborate use of oversized colourful gowns and revolving umbrella kind of object. The performance which, however, left a mark in the true sense was the famous Belly dance enacted by a local slim artist. Her swift movements in the background of traditional music were simply amazing. Even after a fast half an hour session, she had all the energy and charm. The sumptuous dinner dominated by the Indian cuisine served on the deck of the boat did remind us that we had to herald our return journey at the end of the fourth day.

A relaxed breakfast session on the day of departure touched my heart. An old Egyptian Chef, a tall bearer and an alert front-desk boy, all spoke positively about the heritage and hospitality of India, they were exposed to, once. Not only I gave them a patient hearing, I also added to their information by mentioning something additional about my country which , perhaps, they did not know. They evinced adequate interest. As a parting gesture, I divulged that if I ever get a chance to visit a country again, it will be none other than Egypt.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reminiscences of the Barren Island

A break or a holiday not merely leads to relaxation. It may also enhance understanding and bonding between the participating friends and family members. Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the Emerald Necklace of India, comprising of 572 islands, should be the destination, if one is looking for recharging one’s over stretched batteries in the setting of a ‘warm’ & cosmopolitan hill station. Having said so, I am reminded of 10th of October 2005.

Within an hour of our arrival at Port Blair, a pleasant surprise awaited us. Our host, the dynamic Tourism Secretary of the pollution-free U.T. informed that a steamer specially chartered for the Barren Island (located 135 kms northeast of the territory’s capital) was ready for departure. We were given five minutes for conveying a positive nod and another thirty minutes for arranging required things and eatables. S. Velu, our ever-smiling and pro-active guide helped us in buying some tasty snacks and biscuits. Later, on account of a long journey of eleven hours, we realised that what ever we had, proved insufficient, and that we had to virtually beg before the cabin crew for four meals at exorbitant rates. During the return journey, we almost starved for no fault of ours. But the following lines would reveal that starving was worth it.

The departure from the Phoenix-Bay jetty was a smooth affair. Nine to ten families together with a few bachelors boarded the steamer. The first fifteen minutes we had a good view of the sprawling port city followed by a look at the enchanting Ross Island. In no time we were on the main sea. Not only the seats were comfortable in the basement, the overall atmosphere too appeared congenial. Practically everyone was visiting the wonderful Barren Island for the first time. We were determined to enjoy every bit of journey spread over five and a half hours, one way.

The first two hours passed of easily. It was a pleasure to go up to the top deck and enjoy the memorable view of deep blue sea. Occasionally boats, steamers and ships would pass by. A few islands too would be visible on the horizon. The helpers to the crew, guides and liaison assistants would describe the charm of Jolly Buoy, Red Skin, Havelock, Neil and Barren Islands (B.I.) very well. Off and on, some local folklore in respect of the tribes endemic to the region and vivid description of multicoloured fish and mesmerizing corals would be also heard.

Though the famous active volcano of South Asia at B.I. was reported erupting from 1787 onwards, for nearly one and a half century, between 1852 and 1991, it had remained dormant. It was learnt that the volcano would be generally active for four to six months at a stretch. Following the eruption, a fresh layer of cliff, commonly referred to as caldera wall, would be formed around the island. Tourist arrival, would simply multiply during the period of ‘activity’.

A number of scientific teams would visit the island subsequent to cooling-off but no one ever dared to stay on the island, due to harsh and inclement conditions, therein. In view thereof, our steamer too was also going to be anchored at least half a kilometre away.

When the boredom of a long sea journey got on to our nerves, most of us exercised the option of a good afternoon nap. A couple of tourists did watch T.V. as well. To break the monotony, some one from the deck shouted that our cherished destination was soon going to be visible. Every one ran to the ‘terrace’ and parked him self/herself suitably. It was getting dark but the island was barely visible. Some fog over the vast ocean too obstructed the view initially.

Patience and perseverance ultimately pays. Around 19.00 hours, we got the first glimpse of the rare spectacle. It was once in a lifetime scenario. The speed of the craft was gradually reduced as we moved closer. Those of us having video or digital cameras, were fortunate in capturing the view well for posterity. I cursed myself to have carried an ordinary non-digital camera. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise. I could not only admire the beauty and ferocity of the volcano deep from my heart but could also instantly feel the sudden change in weather. S. Velu confirmed that sea water had warmed up due to our close proximity to the active volcano.

After keeping the steamer dormant for nearly half an hour, the captain took us to two different ends of the island. Its total surface area of ten kms.(3 kms in diameter) looked all ablaze. An otherwise dark sky was well-lit by this super natural phenomenon. Not only we saw gigantic flames from atop a 354 meters high peak but we were also blessed with the sight of lava falling and swiftly spreading in the surroundings. The flora on the island, in the process, would not only catch fire. The whole area, rather, would burn instantly.

It was once in a blue moon phenomenon. It was something which could not be elaborated in a few routine phrases. On seeing the eruption and bright red lava, my heart missed a beat. It was nothing but a rare sight, truly a miracle of mother nature. It had a humbling impact. The unusual spectacle honed my power of observation and concentration.