Friday, October 30, 2009

Up above the world so high..

Image curtosy - Kagaya
My dreams have become consistent these days. They occur almost everyday and close to waking time. I don't remember all of them. Although I remember making a mental note to write about yesterday’s one, while it was happening!

Today’s dream was about a small town I live(in the dream). I must be around 12 years old. I look cute so is my friend, we are playing in a balcony of a very high building. It looks much like a china wall pavement with houses neatly lined up on one side. The balconies are connected like a road. They face a row of houses in distant with cloudy mountains back drop. In fact there are clouds everywhere.

My friend and I were wearing uniform, white and blue, but it looks good. We accidently kiss each other; she giggles and starts to run. I run after her. She turns, smiles and run again. Her hair looks golden brown and lovely in the evening sun

There is a group of spectators standing before mayor; they are having some kind of ceremony. There are photographers, but their cameras look different. We are still running towards them. On a closing note the mayor holds a rope out of side wall. The small wall has white curved pillars of Victorian style. He takes a knife and cuts the rope.

Within seconds I see a huge balloon rising up from below in bright crimson colour. We are standing with the spectators watching the balloon going up. Then a huge building arises, the balloon is raising it from below. The windows look quite modern, with neat glasses, but the building is in Victorian style. I understand its opening ceremony for a new home for the people.

this is what I found in interent closer to my dream, may be I should paint it myself
Then I look down from the side wall. We are hanging very high in the air; I don't see anything below except for clouds. I look up and see lots of balloons holding the houses. I realise we are not in the balcony, but on our ground level which is hanging in the air. It feels like a time where living on earth isn’t possible.

Then I am inside the house. My cousin sister looks much younger than I remember. She talks to me with a blushing face(Sometimes she resembles my current lover’s sister) She is getting ready for some wedding related ceremony. She is wearing a purple and dark blue mixed saree and her dark hair looks beautiful. I run to the next room where my other cousin is getting ready to marry her (in real life they did not, because she was much elder to him). He looks handsome and he winks at me.

The dream then goes into many other details, which made perfect sense to some of my pressing needs. The dreams are telling me something and it’s getting clear day by day. They are also helping me to understand myself better, like the thought of my cousins getting married to each other, I didn't even know such thought existed in me.

Today’s dream feels like a distant memory, but as you see the details are crystal clear. Is it from my previous life? Gosh I need a psychic.

p.s: sorry if you were disappointed to find , yet another not so worthy post. I actually prepared to write my travelogue, but this post just flowed out of me. I also felt the need to record it somewhere. I hope to finish off my travelogue by next week :) Have a lovely weekend

Thursday, October 29, 2009

55 something

“Come to pantry now” her message blinked in office chat.
“Ok” he typed and rushed to attend his friend.
“The baby is kicking” she took his hand to her stomach, beaming.
He felt the life and welled up, not just for her motherhood,
But also for the remote possibility to have his own someday.

How he wishes it were a fiction.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Do(n)m of Koln - Euro Trip 12

Do you know why babies cry when they are born? One of my friends gave birth recently and I was wondering about this topic, I looked it up (not all of them are satisfying explanations to say) and this is what I found. When the baby is in the womb, it gets oxygen through the chord, this respiratory system closes down during birth and baby is forced to take the first breath of air which is painful. So it cries.

Virgin Mary by entrance- life size, click to see the intricate works of art
Crying also helps in filling the lungs, which is much needed at the start of every life. Delayed breathing might cause complications like brain damage, cerebral palsy or even god forbid (sadly India tops up this mortality rate in the world) So the next time you crib over something you cannot handle, think about this. You are one in million to have conceived, one in billion to have developed with abilities, made through delivery and fought for your right to breath, your right to live!

few of numerous sculptures that adore her church.
The problem is sometimes we stop fighting, that's when we need to look around and see the wonderful world in its every grandeur. The marvels our ancestors have made, which still stands long after they have gone. That still makes us wonder about their genius work of art.

I lay down on the floor,yet I could not cover her fully
It’s easier to write and read a statement that says it’s from such and such century and this person has built this. But just take a moment to imagine how much work has gone into that, the years the monument has withstood, still smiling at us. Koln Cathedral is such a marvel.

The Cathedral stands on an old Roman temple from 4th century. The old cathedral built over here was burnt down. The construction of this cathedral begun in 13th century and due to many reasons it was delayed. On the whole it took more than 600 years to complete. Dedicated to Saint peter and Virgin Mary, this is the  largest Gothic structure in the world, and also it has the world largest church facade.

After WW2, Image courtesy internet
During world war two about 1,500,000 bombs poured over Koln and the Dom took 14 of them! It might be the only tallest structure that ever survived a war. The reason being, the towers actually helped the army planes to find directions.

The Cathedral is sacred for many reasons. Its main treasure is said to be a golden reliquary, Sarcophagus of the Magi, containing mortal remains of the three wise men of Christmas. Be it 6 in the morning or 12 at night there are always some mass happening in this church. It’s literally like Tirupathi where pilgrims flock from all over at all times. I even witnessed few people with just travel bag sleeping outside the Cathedral.

Thats the size of one window, just one
The Cathedral is official seat of the Archbishop of Cologne. Archbishop was one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire. The energy in the cathedral is nothing like I have ever felt. There are only few places on earth in which we feel direct connection with higher powers with zero effort from us and this is definitely one of them.

The Organ pipe by the wall
The candles flickered, lights danced through the painted windows and smoke emerged from the rituals in alter. The choir combined with grand organ music gave me goose bumps. The smell, colors and energy of the place guided me to another dimension.

Can you see the height of the coloumns now ?
The volunteers were very patient and friendly advising us not to make loud noises or wandering inside the holy office. We couldn't sing along in the mass because it was German. But I could definitely feel the presence of something that's beyond the caliber of my mind.

Other than the echoing choir or occasional announcement from father the huge church reminded very calm. Several hundreds came in and went without any disturbance to other pilgrims.

Millions of prayers, blessings and unwavering faith reside here.
We went there all three days of our stay, and praying inside the cathedral felt like the most sacred thing to do. On our last visit, I took a deep breath and filled my lungs with incense smell before coming out, Grateful for being born and blessed to have taken my first breath.

His holy office, the alter
We do cry when born, it's the sign of understanding that pain is part of our life, to let us know that better things await us if we withstood the pain. Even large cathedrals need to withstand the war to be appreciated better!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guten Tag Koln - Euro Trip 11

The Speed train - ICE, Taken in Koln
On Friday afternoon, 25th September R and I started to Germany( oops it's a month now, I got to finish this travelogue before I travel again :P). We had our lunch in Central station “make your own pizza” shop. R ordered a vegetarian pizza which was delicious. I had cheese pizza which had 4 different cheeses, (out of which I could identify Mozzarella and blue sheep cheese) basil leaves and herbs. I did not like the salty pungent taste of blue cheese but the pizza was definitely worth a try.

Its not a hotel, its a train.
We took the ICE train to Koln, Germany. ICE is short for Inter City Express. This fastest rail (300km/h) has high reputation and best know brand of Germany. While R was busy doing office work, I tilted my chair, put the jacket over my head and took a good nap in the turbulent less train. It's the most comfortable train journey I had till date. We travelled to Germany (crossed Belgium border) in less than 4 hours!

You put a glass of champagne on the table and it won’t spill.
Koln is the oldest and hence the first city of Germany. Its one of the largest city residing on the banks of river Rhine. The world famous Cologne (Koln in German) or Eau de Cologne originated here. We reached Koln around 5 in the evening and checked in a hotel near by the station. We cleaned up and got ready to see the magnificent Kolner Dom (cologne cathedral).

The first glimpse of “The Dom”, one of the largest cathedrals in the world.

One might get neck pain and dizziness, craning head to almost 180 degrees in order to get good view of the Dom tower.  Check out the size of the people to that of tower.

The side entrance, Kolner Dom
There is so much to say about this cathedral, so I am reserving the details of it for the next post.

In cologne, almost everything began with Romans as early as 53 BC! So where ever we turn we saw some remains from Roman period. In fact the city itself is a settlement between old German tribe and Romans.

The roman North gate built when the colony was founded in 50 AD. The archway bore the name CCAA.
During 50 AD it was named as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Colony of Claudius and site of the Alter of Agrippina") when Emperor Claudius married Julia Agrippina.

Check out the Roman column. This pillar has history writtern all over it.
Later we booked one day tour with information center and walked around the lively streets of Koln. We found an Indian restaurant called Taj mahal and had sumptuous meal with white wine. Their starter, Onion pakora was delightful.

When you go to new city, take a map and walk around, its one of the best ways of sight seeing.
The night life is very vibrant here, and people are extremely friendly, a famous saying of Koln goes something like “you get into a tavern knowing none and end up making friends with everyone”.

That's so true! there are no strangers in the world, Only friends we never met ;)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two is better than one

My blog needs some everyday posts very badly. For one, its becoming like Discovery Travel & Living with travelogues and food, and secondly it’s challenging to synchronize sights information, history and my personal take on them. Also the thought of finding nothing interesting to write after finishing the travelogue, is scary.

Last night was as memorable as the first time I read Hindi words, or the first time I rode bicycle without anyone’s help. Last night I finished one complete lap in swimming pool without break (I am learning). Although it's a breath-wise lap, the satisfaction and happiness I felt after completing it was worthless. I am yet to learn prefect swimming, but this would remain as first time ever ;)

One of the side effects of being in love is it takes most of your time. Even 2 hours of talking (which involves from the food we had to global warming) over phone wont suffice the daily quota of sufficient talking. More so when such “important” conversation had to end abruptly because either one of us had to attend to necessities like taking bath, or the calling-card needs a top-up. I am competing with myself, outdoing every month on telephone bill; I get a wicked grin as I type this.

I might need to work on it again, on the shades.
Another side effect of it is I hardly get mood to paint or read. Our Savi gifted me an oil-pastel and poster color during the bloggers meet. It was on my table for so long and I had to force myself to use it yesterday. My painting habit needs some time and effort; I realized it when I painted the hibiscus.

what goes inside that center frame is up to reader’s imagination. Click to enlarge.
This is the first time I am using Oil-pastel and it’s quite unlike a pencil or crayon. Creating a fine thin line is bit challenging but I love the smudge effect they create when rubbed. It’s very interesting though. Thanks a ton for the thoughtful gift Savi. It’s such an encouragement to draw more.

This morning I found some left over rice in kitchen. I added buttermilk and salt and had it for breakfast. I listen to this beautiful song while I had it. A feeling of gratefulness came upon as the food and guitar filled me. I guess that's what life is, it may not be a perfect painting but sure it’s simple and fulfilling like buttermilk rice and a hearty chat.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Frets, canals and a dairy that held collars of Nazis - Euro Trip 10

we can view seven bridges from this viewpiont
On Friday R and I planned to visit Venice, but something came up at his work and we had to cancel the trip. Miss smiley asked me whether we could meet up for a city tour and I was more than happy to join her.

We took the boat cruise that went through beautiful canals of Amsterdam city. Schipol Airport of Amsterdam is 4 meters below sea level, so it’s not surprising to learn that the central station behind us is standing on 6000 stilts. Amsterdam name is derived from the Amstel dam, a dam in the river "Amstel".

The Nemo science center
This ship like building is called Nemo museum, its one of the big science center in The Netherlands for kids. The ship next to it is replica of historical ship “Amsterdam” that sunk in North Sea during 17th century.

The Dutch are the world experts on keeping up with back the water and flood, In fact after Katrina US turned to Dutch for help, to rebuilt New Orleans. Here people actually live in boats. These boats have address, gas, telephone and electric connection.

Dutch wall to wall buildings are iconic
Those days the city was densely populated and renting apartment was costly compared to living in boat, plus fishermen and businessmen went around with goods in their boats for trading. So they altered their boats and started living in it. Now you can rent a boat house to stay, ironically its way costlier than renting a hotel room.

Westerkerk church tower
TheWesterkerk ("western church") is a Protestant church from 16th century. It has the highest church tower in Amsterdam.

Dutch people are obsessed with cycles, I was told every Dutch man has at least 2 cycles (Kudos!), walk in the road you are sure to spot many (young and old) riding bicycles. Each road has a cycle line, and it’s advised not to walk on it.

cycles everywhere
Then we came across the world famous Anne Frank’s museum. Anne Frank is a 13 year old Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family, during Nazis occupation of Netherlands. They lived in small secret attic in her father’s office building from 1942-44(Anna museum). Her father’s friends and colleagues helped them with food and necessities.

Image courtesy google, the one I took wasnt good.
While in hiding she regularly wrote, about the political developments, about her life in confinement and her feelings as a growing girl (on the dairy which her father gifted on her 13th birthday just before they went into hiding). She wanted to become a journalist and be useful to many people, even to the ones she never met in her lifetime.

On August 1944 the family got arrested, separated and sent to concentration camps. After going through a great deal of suffering (some of her friends were gassed to death), Anne died of typhus, an epidemic that killed 17K prisoners. Among 107,000 Jews deported from Netherlands only 5,000 survived. Her father was the only survivor of her family.

Anna Frank, an innocence lost.Image courtesy google
He returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that her diary saved by his friend. Imagine the trauma he would have undergone reading the most intimate thoughts of her. He published her diary, which later got translated into many languages and it became one of the most widely read books. Anna frank became face of countless people who suffered just as she did in the Holocaust. Read here for the moving excerpt from her dairy.

After the boat trip, miss smiley and I had the delicious frets with Mayo sauce. Then we walked around doing funny poses until R joined me for shopping and dinner.

When she got them fed , I got them fled

When she held, I smelled

and when she just posed, I accidently licked!

After she left, I shopped!

I am wearing the red one today, they are actually cheaper than you think ;)
The next country is for next week, have a great weekend =)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Navrathri in Madurodam - Euro Trip 9

Near the Noordeinde Palace, The Hague - Holland.
I was born to a devoted priest in a traditional south Indian family (where following rituals meant more than life itself). Since then, I have come a long way with respect to religion and quest of God. I kneel to Virgin Mary, Bow in direction of Mecca, Meditate on Buddha, Pray for healing to Quanin and Chant the names of Shiva. For I see her smile in crescent; I see her beauty in flowers of meadows. Her sun warms my soul and rain quenches my thirst.

Click to see the saint sculputers above the windows, Madurodam
I founded my own religion by gathering the best of all. One that helps to live a life filled with gratefulness, Harmony, Love and Empathy for every being. My dad and mom had made peace with it, but my relatives couldn’t understand or accept it. One cousin asked how dare I am to keep Jesus next to Krishna. He firmly believes that I have lost my roots.

A rock concert, the dolls waved the stage had vidoes and music!
Festivities is big part of my religion, be it Christmas or Deepavali, I am game. But living away from home definitely takes away the interest of celebrating festivals (I say if you can’t cook dishes exactly like your mom, then forget it.). This Deepavali was just a Saturday.

 Every nook and coner of Madurdom is well connected with trains.
The most I do is have meals with friends and visit temple. But little India (in Singapore) gets crowded to unbearable limit. So I conveniently stick to this thought of “Oh god can be seen even inside the heart” or “Why to bother him on his busiest day”.

Schipol Airport, no need for cash passport or visa to enter inside
My Europe trip lasted about 9 days, and it fell exactly during 9 days of Navrathri. (For those who don't know, it's a festival celebrated in India to pay respect for Indian Goddesses. Its done by decorating the house with many dolls and doing rituals. Friends and relatives visit each other to see the decorations and share sweets, snacks and gifts. Part of the decoration is called “Park”,we create miniature town/forest with sand, plants from grains and plastic toys. Kids compete with friends to create the best mini town)

I cherish Navrathri close to my heart, because it helped me explore my creative side. I remember making a small banner in my mini town using “Dynora lamps sticker”. I also wrote a slogan that said“Your night will become your day”.

My uncle was working for this company then. He got impressed and told it to his managers, which became a topic of discussion during their meeting. Imagine how much happiness it would have brought to a 10 year old, to learn the slogan he wrote for a toy town was appreciated in a business meeting!

Can it be more realistic ?
When I entered the Miniature town of Madurodam, my joy knew no bounds. Truely a gift from heaven. I felt like Alice in wonderland excited and exploring every thing I saw. I went crazy over the moving cars, trains, planes and boats. I mean this is the best “park” I have ever seen. The exhibit’s attention to details were to the T. The tiny windows had screens, diner table had food and finger length dolls had expressions!

Check out the size of the crow to know the real size of these models.
These pictures posted here don’t do justice to the energy and colors of the place. For that matter no amount of video or picture would capture the experience the place got to offer. So I just let loose the 10 year old from inside and wandered around like I didn't care about anything else.

Can you spot the cable cars ?
I also realized, sometimes by taking photos we miss being in the moment enjoying it. Because photos are taken for future and when you are busy clicking and checking them you are living in future. You are constantly excited, happy or worried about what other might say, or which ones to upload in your blog.

I didnot miss the tulip farm after all
So there I stood smiling like I had hanger in my mouth, more than 10,000 miles away from my home, at a complete strange land yet enjoying my very own festival of Navrathri. I never lost my roots; they just outgrew and spread everywhere, even to the soils of Madurodam.