Wednesday, May 31, 2006

X Men

X Men are personal to me. Its part of my life, a distant memory of times of fun, teenage years.
Yes X Men reminds me of my school mates as not a day passed without us discussing the comic. You see my friends were totally crazy about the comic, it was the ultimate in super power with the added creativity of sleek characters that didn't wear their underwear on the outside.

Don't get me wrong we loved Superman but nothing beat menacing metal claws, or weather changers or mind readers. Each of us had a favourite. Initially it was the guys who read the comics, I never read them but we (the ones who didn't read) knew all the characters as that was the boys favourite topic.

They were also characters that were closer to reality, ordinary ppl where women didn't look as unbelievable as most characters and the play was on love rather than lust. The continuous love triangle between Jean, Wolverine and Scotts never got tiring. The dormant powers of Jeans alterego Phoenix, who was this ravishing red head, blue furred Hank menacing in looks yet gentle and articulate. Ah and there was my favourite wolverine, with a devil may care attitude and a machoness that oozed confidence and the beauteous Storm with powers to alter the weather.

So much was the craze was one of my friends had signed my yearbook page by cutting a clipping of the comic and writing down his powers ;) Awesome work I tell ya!

So it was good to watch the Xmen movie - I thought it was good but I hear the haven't followed the story, giving precedence to Wolverine. So many things shouldn't have happened. I hate directors they always change the story, that's why I hate book adaptations and that's why Da Vinci was good, for once the story was followed.

I don't like the actress cast as Jean, not the ravishing beauty of the comics and yes phoenix did remind one of exorcists. Hummm

Oh yes do wait till the credits role, there's a surprise shot. We sat and waited for it, and ended up being the only 8 in the theater waiting for the ending with my friend promising to kick me if there was nothing. I suspect the ending and some changes in the movie comes from the reluctance of a star to do another part of a movie. Oh yes there are other details suggesting another movie.

So cheers to Xmen and childhood friends. You'll always be sweet to me despite the gore.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Melkote

We left Somnathpur towards Melkote, en route I got to wave to lots of kids and young gals who would grin back in surprise.

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Sorry I didn't stop to take photos, was tempted but decided I shall not test waters given my non stop photo taking habit at each destination.

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We arrived at the temple to find a huge crowd outside waiting outside an open temple. Somehow I thinks there's some invisible foreigner sticker stuck to our foreheads, coz everytime we get down somewhere we'd have ppl staring.

Spoke to this sweet grandma about the temples opening time, and she pointed us to the Krishna utsava moorty out at the hall on display for the festival they were having in praise of St Ramanujaam (Ramanujam Adigal) (a priest told us later).

Its a small temple with beautiful pillars.

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The gopuram sculptures were all broken, missing a hand or leg and slightly faded where else the pillars intricate designs were well maintained - weird but true. Later I find out the original temple was rerestored by a king. The presiding deity was TiruNarayana.

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The temple is part of 2 temples. One at the bottom and the other at the top of a rock hill. In between both temples there's a huge tank with a pretty mandap, can't remember why we didn't go to the halls. Legend has it that the Yoga Narasimha temple image was installed here by Prahlada.

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My original idea had been not to climb to the Yoga Narasimha temple as climbing and then long travel would have been too taxing for mom. That's why we missed Shravanbelagola. Anyway driver tells us he can drive us up to the halfway point and climb from there. I was glad we did go, I love the steps and the view from the top was just amazing.

We made mom stop every 10 steps (the steps were huge) to catch her breath but in truth I just wanted to take photos ;p

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Oh there's beggars on the way up who don't ask you for money when you're going up but on the way down they'll ask you. I say they're clever, they don't bother when they think you're gonna be huffing and puffing.

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And if you think the structure you see in this photo is the temple, heh!, there's more steps ;)

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The steps were covered with these flowers that would drop every now and then ;) I so love how they look against the stone slabs. The view from up is spectacular (ill be repeating this a few times - thank you).
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You'll be stumped at the first gopuram as all you can see behind it is a narrow wall. Take a left turn and you'll see the temple doors and another gopuram. We were quite shocked to find the place closed (so that's why people climb back down). While I was taking photos, we contemplated whether we should go back or wait when my monkeys went 5pm! 5pm!

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But monkeys don't talk??? We'll I did say my monkeys who were actually boys my moms friend called monkeys coz they were jumping around. Well story is I saw this teenage boys at the bottom steps while our cars whizzed by, the next thing I know they were waiting for us when we got to the mid way point steps and everytime we stopped they'd stop too. At first my mom got scared, but I think for no reason (well I couldn't figure out why) they were looking after us, following from a distance.

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Somehow the wait and the climb seemed longer than the time my photos show. We took about 20 minutes to cover about 250 steps. Finally one priest came and opened the doors but he wasn't the main guy but he was a nice man. He decided to take us on a tour of the temple before the priests from the temple below climbed up.

Ah what wind - the weather was just so pleasant, no burning sun (did I tell you it rained heavily every evening? ;p). The thing about the temple is it has been built to compliment the huge rock boulder it is on, places where the boulder isn't the floor, you will find stone slabs placed just above nothing ;) you could see the green ground, through slits at the edges, near your feet. Surreal feeling ;)

IMG_2727melkoteThe temple had so many passageways, you could probably get lost but not hate a minute of it unless you're claustrophobic. And it seems there are hidden caves where St Ramanujam used to meditate. Yes this was a temple that St Ramanujam worshiped at, you can see his footprints here.

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We were taken right up to the main gopuram, again view was amazing and its just beautiful standing next to the gopuram what with the sun setting in myriad oranges.

There's also this open ceiling that looks straight into the temple hall, plus drums and bells gifted by Tipu Sultan on another side. Most importantly its very peaceful up there, you'll be lost in your thoughts.

One thing I noticed in Karnataka, every few kms theres a small ancient mandap built on the roads leading to the temple. Interesting that the welfare of ppl had been taken care even then.

Oh yes I ended up climbing from the midway point twice coz I'd forgotten my slippers.

Monday, May 29, 2006

No one dies

I was reading Tony's  blog when he linked to this http://www.flyanglersonline.com/lighterside/part376.html

It reminded me of the probs we faced months/ years after my dads death. Right after he passed away I called up every place to let them know and get the accounts changed to my name yet most of them still sent the bills in his name.

Here's the conversation I had with one of them a year ago.

CS : A**** Customer Service
Me : Billing account?
CS : yes maam
Me : bla bla bla
CS : bla bla bla
Me : you do know you're sending bills to a dead man?
CS : ahhh ahhh
Me : i called up 2 years back informing you about his death - why havent you still changed it
CS : oh he died? We dont know
Me : so you don't mind sending the bill to a dead man? What if we dont pay who are you gonna catch ? His ashes?
CS : errrr
Me : so can you change it now - the last time someone told me he could do it but didn't
CS : mam please give me the details
Me : are you sure you'll make the changes?
CS : maybe you should write in and ask to change the account name
Me : are you mad? Why do you have a telephone customer service then?
CS : errrr but mam you must pay
Me : maybe you should ask the dead man!

Months later we did try to personaly go and change the details, after repeated promises and non stop jotting down of details, neither the changes nor my dads name was changed. We finally cancelled the account and got a new one under our names. 

Oh yes dad still gets billed in a few other accounts - you would think they were familiar with birth and death!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Birthday : Filter

Happy Birthday Filter

Have loads of fun and for yoursake I'll say cricket is fun (no no I disgaree)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Chronicles

Since I got back

*Had gone to work on a none working day - stood at the door very puzzled - of course mom thought it was hilarious as hell

*Accidentally said ruppes to a few ppl (more snickers there)

*Drove a manual car after a long time (as car tax was due and some services) - hated it so much that when i got back my car - it felt brand new and im worshiping its ground (note to self - next time you feel like complaining about the car go drive a manual in kl traffic)

*Played quit playing games with my car tax sticker - I have no idea why it is so hard to remove from the window or from its paper to the window - there's always one torn corner you have to painstakingly place on the window.
*Gotten back to my routine disturb-kid in next car at all traffic lights - i must say its nice - previously had substituted that with waving goodbye to all kids on road to destinations in india.
*I was right about trust - you can't trust everyone - guilt will also keep them away till they think the coast is clear.

*I realised I really do love Malaysian food - nothing beats the spiciness!

*We truly are a land of smiles - and wonderful service - being greeted even before you enter a new shop with smiles is priceless!

 

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Somnatpur

.....did gods build this place?

IMG_2676somnatpurHosted on Zooomr Was Maya the heavenly architecture the brains behind its breathtaking beauty. Those were the questions that ran through my mind when I first set eyes on Somnatpur.

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I was taken aback by its beauty and the next thing I did was check to see if I had enough space for photos ;p Every single space on the temple was carved, and did I tell you it was burning hot yet I didn't care?
The Chenna Kesava temple - the last great temple built by the Hoysala dynasty stands out from the other 2 in Belur and Halebid.

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Though smaller in size exquisiteness is what Somnathpur is about. Every inch a different story, every space a different canvas of the most breathtaking detailed sculptures.

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Carved out of soapstone mined from the earth while still soft, I'm wondering how long he took to imagine his prized creations and how fast he sculptured them given the stones become hard on exposure to atmosphere.

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There is nothing ordinary about the temple from its shape to its structure to the details on its cone and angled shaped Gopuras.

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"The village of Somanathapura is named after a minister by the name Soma in the court of the Hoysala king Narasimha III (13th century CE), who founded it.
The Somnathpur temple built in AD 1268 is considered an example of the fully evolved style of Hoysala architecture. The Hoysalas were a mighty martial race who ruled large parts of present day Karnataka between 1100 and 1320 AD.

The temple itself, stellar in shape, has three elaborately carved pinnacles with a common Navranga and stands on a raised platform. The three sanctums once housed beautifully carved idols of Kesava, Janardhana and Venugopala. Today the idol of Lord Kesava is missing, but the other two still adorn the sanctums in their original form.


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The star-shaped plan of the shrine is characteristic of this style but such elaboration did not end here-even the shikhara that crowned the building developed a flower-like or star shape. The temples, instead of having merely one sanctum, had three as in Somnathpur, or were built like Siamese twins as a joint-double temple, like the one in Halebid. The star-shaped plan was further extended to incorporate these additional shrines, and what resulted was a very flamboyant structure with a minimum of long straight walls.

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The entire temple was built on a broad platform to enable devotees to perform a pradakshina of the temple and to view the wonderful world of sculpture that adorns the outer wall surface.
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Above, the starry temple wall projected a deep cornice that cast strong shadows on the minutely textured surface. At Belur and Halebid the superstructure or shikhara can hardly be seen (if built at all), but at Somnathpur the triple-shrine structure has three shikharas, each a beautiful star-shaped, ornate bell....." From 4to40 (a must read)

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Each angle gives out a different view though it seems as if the 3 shikaras mirror each other. If you read the article you'll realise much thought has been given in building the temple.

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The combining of three towers into one chamber, then the raised platform for pradakshina and the layers of art surrounding the building at different levels. Every inch of the walls of the temple is covered with carvings including the inner parts of the roof.

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I love how the sculptures appear as if floating coz of their raised appearance.

Inside even the ceilings are covered in intricate details. Each doorway leading to the main idol (there are 3) has small carvings above them which such intricacy. Example this krishna one - there are devars, maidens, devotees and the cows around Krishna who is playing his flute. Reminds me of the phrase

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alaypAyudE kaNNA en manam migha alai pAyudE
un Ananda mOhana vEnugAnamadil
nilai peyarAdu shilai pOlavE ninra
nEramAvadariyAmalE migha vinOdamAna muralIdharA en manam (alai)
.......kaninda un vENugAnam kATril varugudE kaNgaL shorugi oru vidhamai varugudE

or in
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kuzhalUdi manamellAm koLLi koNDa pinnum kurai Edu enakkEdaDI tOzhi
.......agamagizhindilagum nilavoLi tanilE tanai marandu puLLinam kUva
.......kanru pashuvinavum ninru puDai shUzha enru malarumukha iraivan kanivODu

...........the maidens (gopiyars) gods and cattle stood mesmerised by the beautiful haunting sound of Krishnas flute.

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The pillars inside are another set of beauties either rows of angled lines or rows of circles. I think they're made of 2 different stones - one brownish in appearance the other black ( i might be wrong) but the black stone has a very cooling characteristic (will explain later). Despite the blazing sun outside, the interiors were chilly and pleasant, you really don't want to leave.

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This is my fav goddess image, there's something forlorn in her expression as if her thoughts are faraway contemplating something yet charmingly feminine. The tribangi dance position, the gestures, the gentle flow of her ornaments - it somehow seems as if it was been blown gently by the breeze.

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You know there's a wonder about this temple and the other 2 Hoysala temples. I was there around mid afternoon, burning sun and walking at the front led to screams of ouch ouch (though it didn't deter me from gawking). However when we reached the back exactly behind, despite walking on sunny platforms and finding no building shadows protecting the platform, it was cool. Pretty amazing.

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We finally left Somnathpur, heart heavy with amazement of its wonder only to be greeted by a shepherd and his sheep.
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Truthfully I have fallen in love with this place, would have loved spending more time but wrong company. I will return one day maybe at sunset or sunrise to see what the rays of the sun does to this beautiful place.

If you have a chance don't miss going there.

Next : Melkote

Ps : loads of pictures inside my zooomr.

Mr Gray hair

Taylor Hicks is the new American Idol! Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy I so wanted Mr Gray hair to win after Chris Daughtry that is. One reason he kept it fun ;)

Otherwise watch The Benchwarmers - so hillarious but might be gross in a few parts but its a story with a message behind the laughs.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Srirangapattinam

IMG_2576srirangapatIMG_2576srirangapatHosted on Zooomr The Next morning we set out for Srirangapattinam, the fort town of Tipu Sultan and home of SriRanganathar. En route we saw the water ducts built in yesteryears that were still being used to flow water into the city. Just as we reached Srirangapattinam we saw remains of what was a massive fort.

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We arrived at the Sriranganathar temple around 7 am just in time for abhishegam. Like I said we had good darshan everywhere. While alangaram was being done, we walked around the temple, me busy taking photos and being entertained by red faced monkeys that seemed a part of the temples walls.

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This is supposed to be the adi ranga of the 3 Sriranganathar temples - unfortunately I skipped Shivasamudram for now for lack of time - maybe on another trip. Its supposed to be built by a Ganga ruler Tirumalaiya of the 9th century CE.

ps : post on Mysore below ;p




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Its a really nice temple, very peaceful. Can't say the same about the people though - people have a habit of pushing you to the back even if you had been standing there patiently waiting for the doors to open to see the alangara priyar Sriranganathar. Sigh.

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Anyways - it was beautiful and sitting outside this open space in the middle of the temple has its perks - like I said it spells peace.

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On the way to Gumbaz - the final resting place of Tipu Sultan, we got to see an old water canal, ruins of a large palace and fort, his death spot and this pretty mosque he had built which had now been turned into a religious school. I had wanted to take a closer look as I saw kids inside but decided not to.
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Gumbaz is gorgeous and smack in between what I was beginning to love, Karnatakas love for well kept gardens to compliment its ancient structures.

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It looked simple but on a closer look the carvings were quite exquisite. The temple, mosque and the mausoleum had a similarity in architecture - the photos would explain.
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Inside the mausoleum, rather than Tipu's tomb, I was enchanted by the frescoes on the wall. Brilliant colours and I managed a snap before someone said no photos ;p

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So then began my drivers love of returning to Mysore, would you believe he wanted to go back to Mysore for breakfast and later lunch? Got that settled later before we headed for Daria Daulat Bagh - the Summer palace of Tipu.
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There are no photos of the building as it was protected by ugly green blinds to protect the beautiful frescoes and the teak building but inside it was gorgeous. Left as a museum it is a must see to understand the war and ogle at the paintings. Here too you can see paintings where the eyes follow you - brilliant I tell you. Again no photos of the inside.

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But the place had a beautiful garden somewhat similar to the Taj reflective pool. I was trying to get my mom to stand there but she refused coz she was afraid I would be scolded for taking photos - sigh scolding is nothing to capturing art I tell ya.

After lunch and a brief stop at this overpriced place my driver suggested we got to dip our legs at the kaveri Sangam - he meeting of rivers. It was so hot yet the water was so cool and clear. I had a tough time getting my mom to not dance into the fast flowing stream, i was wondering who was the mom!

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Next to my most favourite place - Somnathpur.

Ps : loads of pictures inside my zooomr.

Mysore

The thing I hate about train stations is getting down the train and being bombarded by 10 people wanting no demanding to take you to your destination. We finally settled on the first guy who approached us though I had initially said no. He turned out to be a nice guy with good suggestions. The place he recommended for dinner had one of the best food served.

Did I tell you how beautiful, calm and laidback Mysore is? It was just a beautiful place to live in, seemed right out of a painters canvas.

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One of the reasons why I had picked Mysore for our first stop was it was a public holiday and the Mysore Palace lits up only on holidays and Sundays. We had lost a whole day of travel and sadly all we could see of Mysore was its exterior and the Chamundi temple.

ps : have uploaded more photos into my zooomr account - click on the photos to see larger images and the rest of the photos.

I had earlier been talking about the lights to our driver and he had said no it was only on Sundays but I think he found out otherwise when he came back to pick us up as he insisted on taking us there despite the limited time we had to reach Chamundi before it closes.

There was the palace and it gates beautiful decked in jewels of light. What a sight it bestowed on us, sadly I had forgotten my tripod (in the hotel and later never used it ;p) so some of the photos had a slight shake on it. Plus I had to rush since we had stopped at a non parking spot next to a cop, just so I could capture the beauty of the lights. How could I not like him? ;p

If you do chance upon Mysore in your travels, pick the days the palace lits up, the sight is absolutely bewitching. The road leading towards Chamundi has sparse lighting but the view is breathtaking coupled with its green forests. I imagine a morning climb would be even more beautiful.

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The Chamundeswari temple - the temple of the goddess that vanquished mahisasuran is exquisite. The gopuram is really beautiful but couldn't really capture it that well as there was poor lighting.

One thing about the Karnataka Govt they do take measures to preserve their wonders, the hill area was a plastic free zone, most temple compounds were dotted with landscaped gardens even the ruined temples. The temples were also quite clean and you don't see people living in its grounds.

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Chamundi devi is a remarkable beauty, that evening she had been decked in green and orange, adorned with such a smile, beauty doesn't even come close to describing her. Sit by the tree at the back of the temple and you'll feel a sense of peace as the gentle night breeze caresses you.
Somehow the delay in the train and the time we reached Mysore, we got to see Devi on oorvalam, as the last arathi was shown. What a darshan! So that was our silver lining after the wasted day on the train maybe that's why we got delayed - who knows.

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We got back down and decided to go back to the palace and gawk at the building from a closer point. There was a small anjaneyar temple at that entrance and as we were walking around the gateways, I noticed one of the gates was open. So that's how we had a late night date with the Mysore Palace and its courtyard temple. What beautiful architectures. The Wodeyar king sure had good taste.
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It was sad that we couldn't see the palace interiors or the gardens but if we stayed on we would miss a lot of things enroute out South karnataka travel. There's always a next time and for the beauty of the place, it would be all worth it.