Notes from the Bangalore Lit Fest 2018 – Day 1

The 2018 edition of the Bangalore Literature Festival (27 and 28 October)  turned out to be a colourful affair. I missed going to the last edition of the fest but fortunately was able to make it to this one. Like last year, the literary feast was held at The Lalit Ashok, which I must say turned out to be just the right place for a soiree like this one. The sprawling lawns of one of The Garden City’s oldest five-star hotels accommodated five stages for the event which made it that much easier for the organisers and the visitors. There was so much space for everyone to move around and the sunny weather added to the warmth. The atmosphere was vibrant and happy, one reason being the plethora of children’s events that were introduced in this edition. There were a lot of children prancing around. The food stalls were making brisk business despite the items being overpriced. A few stages were set around the hotel’s swimming pool adding to the visual quotient of the feast.

Day 1

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Professor Velchuru Narayana Rao

I couldn’t make it for the first event of the day as I reached late. I headed for The Red Couch as soon as I reached the hotel at around 10.40 am. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Vijay Seshadri was almost midway through his talk. I did not pay much attention and dabbled with my camera settings instead. At around 11 am, Telugu scholar Velchuru Narayana Rao took the stage to speak on ‘Translating Classics’. The talk turned out to be quite informative. Narayana Rao started by speaking about the importance of translation. In a country like India which is multi-lingual, it is important that works of authors are translated otherwise literature cannot survive.

When translating, a lot of factors have to be taken into account. For example, English and Telugu are poles apart syntactically, semantically and culturally. When translating works from Telugu to English, it is important to explain the origins of the work, what the content is all about and also what to expect. It is important to tell something about the Indian culture to the Westerners. It is important to avoid translating compound sentences. Such sentences should be broken up. Compound sentences have always been a challenge for translators. Translators should also avoid making the translation sound like the language it is translated from. When translating poems, skilled translators find a poem within a poem.

Poetry is also written in pictorial formats and these are categorised into different types: (1) Cow’s urination pattern which is zig-zag; (2) snake’s posture (all intertwined) are two such types.

When translating, it is important not to attempt translating all the text. It is next to impossible.

The English language is the doorway to the entire world. Hence, it was imperative that works from other languages are translated into English. The greatness of Indian poets like Kalidasa would not have been known outside India had their works not been translated into English.

Certain poems carry a double meaning. In such cases, the translator comes out with two versions of the translation. Different people translate poems in their own unique style.

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Shoba Narayan (right) in conversation with Rashmi Menon (left)

The next discussion on The Red Couch had author Shoba Narayan in conversation with Rashmi Menon. The conversation ‘The Cows of Bangalore’ had to do with a book of the same name by Shoba Narayan who also happens to own a cow and chases cows off road-dividers. Every region has a spirit animal. In the North-East, the hornbills are revered, in Karnataka, it is the tiger and in entire India, it is the cow. The book was inspired by a real-life incident when Shoba bumped into Sarala, a lady who owns cows and supplies milk, in her apartment lift. Sarala requested her for a loan and told her that it was for a cow. When asked how much she wanted she said 40,000 rupees. When asked how she would repay such a big sum, Sarala told her that she would supply milk to her free till she clears the amount, Shoba agreed but on condition that she will accompany her to buy the cow. The search for a perfect cow took some time. After a cow was finally selected, Shoba was assigned the honour of naming her. The process of naming turned out to be a not-so-easy process. Tradition required that the cow’s name end with Lakshmi. Of the names available, there were none that could be used because one among Sarala’s cows already had that name. Finally, the ladies arrived on the name Anandalakshmi. During the course of the discussion, Shobha mentioned that male calves are not wanted in the urban eco-farm and usually end up getting slaughtered. She went on to add that she has steered clear of cow politics in her book. The book is not only about cows but Indian society too. The book celebrates Indianness. A takeaway from the book is the emphasis on Indian cows and the need to buy desi cow’s milk like the milk of the Halekar cows, Amrit Mahal cows and the short-legged Malnad Giddu cows. Desi cow milk is less diabetogenic. Cows feed on 30 varieties of grass. When someone in the audience asked the author for her view on cows eating from dustbins she said that the owners of the cows have a romantic view about that. The cows they believe eat only the healthy stuff from the muck!

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Janaki Lenin (left) in conversation with Romulus Whitaker (right)

The next discussion ‘Things We Do’ was one which I was waiting for. On the panel was The Snake Man of India, Romulus Whitaker, in conversation with his film-maker and writer wife Janaki Lenin. I had grown up hearing the name of Romulus Whitaker and the pioneering work he was doing towards conservation of snakes and crocodiles. It felt great seeing such an iconic figure in the flesh. The conversation between the husband and wife duo started on a very light note. Janki humoured the audience when she said that Romulus was always a security threat at the airport as he would be caught carrying a snake or crocodile or something live in his baggage. Romulus Whitaker as everyone knows has always been obsessed with snakes unlike many of us who dread being in the midst of one. Romulus spoke of his early days when he came to India after his mother re-married. His step-father was Indian. He was all of seven when he set foot in the country and had his schooling at the Kodai International School. He spent two years serving the US Army. He came back to India as his heart was in India. His love for snakes and crocodiles saw him set up the Madras Snake Park and the Madras Crocodile Park Trust. He mentioned his memorable stints with the UN at Ethiopia and other African countries. He spoke of near-death encounters he had in Africa when he actually went around on a helicopter collecting crocodile nests by dodging crocodiles and hippos in the dead of the night. The crocodile skin industry in Africa is a million dollar industry. Romulus Whitaker helped set up village co-operatives in Africa to prevent mass slaughter of crocodiles for their skin. When asked what was his scariest experience he mentioned an incident in the tiger-infested Sunderbans when he was working on a project on saltwater crocodiles. He was accompanied by security guards carrying old guns. He was more worried about the old guns going off than the appearance of a tiger; his heart was thumping. When asked about his memorable experiences, he spoke about setting up a research station at the Agumbe Rainforest famous for the King Cobra. His documentary on the King Cobra won him an Emmy much to his surprise. Janaki spoke about female King Cobras entering people’s houses before laying eggs and housing themselves in bathrooms and toilets for days and weeks. During that period, the residents of the house would use their neighbour’s toilet. Romulus Whitaker was instrumental in helping the Irula tribes who once earned their livelihood selling snakes. When the ban on snake skin trade came into force, Whitaker used their services for extracting venom and in this way fetched them an alternative livelihood.

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Samit Ghosh (left) and Subir Roy (right)

After the discussion, for some reason I felt disinclined to get up from my seat and check out other events happening at the other stages. The discussion that followed was one on finance for which I have absolutely no flair. The discussion ‘Ujjivan: Small Loans Transforming Lives’ had Samit Ghosh, Founder of Ujjivan Financial Services, in conversation with journalist Subir Roy. Samit Ghosh spoke on the significance of micro-finance. It is all about giving loans to poor people, without security. The name micro-finance is synonymous with Mohammed Yunus who started the concept in Bangladesh and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for the innovative idea. According to the speakers, the concept was born in India before Mohammed Yunus introduced it and the person behind it was Ela Bhatt. The speakers were in full praise of the Aadhar card and that it turned out to be a boon for micro-finance. Giving away loans involved lesser paper work because of Aadhar. The procedure involved carrying hand-held devices to the doorstep which made things that much more easy. Compared to the middle-class and the rich, the poorer sections were more open to technological advances as it made their lives easier because they are toiling whole day. Also, micro-finance in a large way got rid of dubious chit-fund schemes.

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Nandita Bose (left) and Sujatha Parashar (right)

The discussion that followed, ‘In Search of Wacky Female Characters’ had best-selling author Sujata Parashar in conversation with Nandita Bose. Among other things, Parashar spoke about her debut novel, ‘In Pursuit of Infidelity’ in which she has modelled the protagonist, a female, after Madame Bovary. She is disillusioned with her marriage and is neglected by her husband who is busy with his work. ‘Temple Bar Woman’, one of her other works is a Bollywood-like story about a woman who is brutalised.

After the culmination of this discussion, I decided to take a break. I first checked out the books at the Atta Galatta bookstore which was adjacent to the stage. I couldn’t buy any books as I was broke and I had just enough money for grub and travelling back home. I then headed to the food court and realised the only thing I could afford with my current budget was a ‘chaat’ and opted to have ‘Bhel Puri’. Chaats are usually very light on the tummy but I must say this plate of ‘Bhel Puri’ was quite filling and didn’t taste bad. After finishing off all that was on my platter and downing them with a glass of water, I decided to move to the ‘Naale Baa’ stage to listen to the discussion ‘Fashion: The Seamly and The Unseamly’ that was scheduled to start at 2.30pm. It was only 2.15pm and ‘Naale Baa’ was filled to the brim. An ongoing talk on narrative non-fiction had attracted a huge crowd. This meant I had to wait for this talk to get over and for some members of the audience to disperse. It was then that I ran into my school classmate Anand aka ‘Puppy’, the class jester. What a surprise! Someone like Puppy is a very unlikely visitor to a Lit Fest. I felt very amused seeing him. Puppy was very pleased with the goings-on at the fest and couldn’t contain his happiness. After a quick chat, he headed for the food stalls and I to the front of the ‘Naale Baa’ stage. The stage was huge and it was important that I get the front seat as it would be more convenient to take pictures. Luckily, quite a lot of the audience dispersed and I found a comfortable place to sit right in the front row. The discussion that revolved around fashion had former model and Miss India Shvetha Jaishankar (who was once married to tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi) and writer-activist Manjima Bhattacharjya in conversation with Susan Thomas.

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Susan Thomas (centre) in conversation with Shvetha Jaishankar (left) and Manjima Bhattacharjya)

Manjima spoke in length about the seamier side of the fashion industry, the pains small-town girls go through to shine on the ramp and make a mark on the modelling scene. She also mentioned that when it comes to work, India has the worst female work participation in India. Leggy beauty Shvetha who looked stunning in a blue a-line dress agreed that modelling is not easy money. She left modelling early as it is a short career defined by age and beauty. She went on to add, “If you want to fight it, you will be fighting against you”. Her book “Gorgeous : Eat Well, Look Great”, was one of Amazon’s memorable books of 2016. She wrote the book to dispel some wrong notions about food. The book features recipes from models and Bollywood personalities. Manjima said that feminism has become more reflective now. Feminists have become fashionable. Fashion industry has created a body image picture on the Internet and it is influencing feminists. Shvetha commented that models should not be deified nor should they be villified. She went on to add that social media is a good tool in spite of the trolling. And most importantly, she has faced more prejudices in the corporate world than as a model.

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Aparna Raman (left), Rhea Saran (centre) and Dan Morrison (right)

The talk on the fashion industry was followed by a discussion titled, “Intrepid Travellers: Strangers in a Strange Land” which had as panellists former New York Times crime reporter Dan Morrison, journalist Rhea Saran and Aparna Raman. Dan described his days as a reporter in Afghanistan during a not-so-bad phase and confessed it was just the right job for a (in his own words) “knucklehead” like him. Rhea admitted that the days when people preferred safety are gone. In fact, everyone prefers being adventurous and wants transformative travel. She spoke of how she drove through unlit streets in Havana and ate alone at restaurants. It is not only conflict zones that one should be scared of. Dan mentioned that when travelling in alien lands, he does not rely on translators. All his writings are heavily contextualised ad he has written keeping the layman in mind. Rhea is of the opinion that people who read online are different from those who read printed magazines. She was in the Middle-East for five years and said that people’s perspectives towards travelling are changing. Dan admitted her prefers places where he can leave his belongings safely. On the other hand, Rhea mentioned that she prefers going to unfamiliar places.

Owing to some last-minute re-scheduling, The New India Foundation Awards originally scheduled for 4.45pm on the Naale Baa stage was preponed to 3.30pm. The newly instituted awards saw Ramachandra Guha, Nandan Nilekani, Manish Sabharwal, Yelchuru Narayana Rao and Srinath Raghavan take the stage to honour the winner. The authors were judged on their writings on India. Milan Vaishnav became the first winner of the award named after Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. He won it for his book, “When Crime Pays”.

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Ravi Shankar Etteth (left), Ponnappa (centre) and Bachi Karkeria (right)

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IMG_20181027_175012After hanging around for a good one hour at the bookstore, I headed for the Adjust Maadi stage to be audience to the talk “Pencils Drawn: Cartooning in Trying Times”. The speakers were noted cartoonists Ponnappa and Ravi Shankar Etteth and the moderator was noted journalist and author Bachi Karkeria. In between lamenting about the step-motherly treatment meted out to cartoonists, the low pay scale, and the risks entailed with their sketching political cartoons, Ponnappa and Etteth enthralled the audience with their drawing skills and their sense of humour. When asked to sketch a political cartoon in trend with the times, Ponnappa drew one that was based on the Sabarimala temple controversy that had the audience in guffaws. The cartoonist was quite sure that this cartoon would not have got accepted had he sent it to any daily. Ravi Shankar Etteth mentioned that cartoonists had better prospects with vernacular dailies than the English ones. The vernacular dailies were more flexible with their choice of subjects than English dailies.

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I decided to listen to one last talk before heading home. As it was the end of the day, and had barely slept the last night, I was feeling awfully sleepy. Star speaker Ramachandra Guha’s talk was scheduled next. His topic of discussion was “Is There an Indian Road to Equality”. He started his speech by saying that in a perfect world all will be equal. He had everyone in splits when he stated, “In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it is the other way round.” He spoke of the significance of employment and the necessity of every other person having decent employment.

He emphasised on the equality of caste and gender. Over here, he mentioned that Dalits and women were the most oppressed classes in India. It was important that this kind of oppression be overpowered. He added that discrimination of Dalits was intrinsic to Hindu culture. Dalits were not allowed in temples and walk in front of upper castes. Mahatma Gandhi tried to bring in a lot of reforms. Unfortunately, not all were a success as some of the Hindu religious leaders were against such reforms.

He mentioned that such caste-based discrimination did not exist within Hindus alone. Muslims from Central Asia also thought they were a superior race. Christians and Sikhs also allowed caste-based discrimination. He slammed pernicious practices like child marriages. Although, there were many Hindu female dieties, Hindu men married multiple times time till the 1950s. Muslims discriminated against women by bringing in the purdah rule. In comparison, Muslim and Sikh women were less ostracised. He lamented that Hinduism is historically disfigured because of oppression against women and caste. Indians did not deserve freedom because of this. Because of this oppression, Gandhi was fighting Britain and India at the same time. The battle against this inequality was the core of India’s freedom struggle. When he said he was all for the #MeToo movement, females in the audience applauded him. However, his support for allowing women in the Sabarimala shrine got a mixed response.

After listening to the electrifying talk by Ramachandra Guha, I headed home hurriedly as I had to attend the lit fest the next day and had to be there by 10am to attend the first session of the day featuring Shashi Tharoor.

 

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Book Review: The Boss Calls The Shots

boss calls the shots

 

The first-time book by a Kargil War hero is a humorous take on the lighter side of life at military spaces in India. It is a compilation of true-life stories and anecdotes with some drama and humour added to them.
For those unexposed to life in military campuses there are surprises galore. For one, life here is colourful and not pedantic that most of us imagine it to be. As expected, fitness is an important keyword in some of the stories. If you thought bulging bellies are non-existent in army ranks you couldn’t be more wrong. Unhealthy eating is a malady even amongst army personnel. And believe it or not, sycophancy is at large even in the army. Flattering a boss is a way up the ladder in military ranks just like in government offices and private companies.
To give a romantic twist to the content of the book are a couple of Bollywood-like flings and quickies that could give some a culture shock and make them exclaim, “What!!”
The author has taken great pain not to miss out on minute details. He seems to be blessed with an elephant’s memory and has translated that gift of recollection into a collection of stories that is delightful, well-selected and nicely edited. Look out for South vs. North verbal duels among army wives, top-notch officers and their “gaandus”, and get acquainted with the “Murgah” pose. The book is a quick-read and one of those that can be finished in one sitting. Definitely worth buying and reading!

 

 

 

Letter to my Brother

Dear Brother,

“Those whom the Gods love die young.” Well, those are the only words which give me some consolation (if I can call it consolation) when I sit and brood in the eerie silence that prevails at home ever since you have gone. You were one jolly good fellow and a happy family man till that night of New Year Eve when everything turned upside down. While there were celebrations all round welcoming the New Year, all of us at home were in a state of shock. You fought the deadly cancer that was eating your brain tooth and nail till that dreadful morning of 8 September. Rest in peace my dear brother. Only memories remain. Will always remember the day you bought me the membership of a library when I was sitting at home jobless. Thanks to you, I drowned my sorrows with PG Wodehouse. I won’t forget the day you gifted me a DSLR. I went and I still go berserk with that camera. You helped me so many times when I went broke. And I have lost count of the numerous cat and dog fights that we had. Will miss you loads!

 

 

 

Your sis

 

It’s Mango Time!

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I have been visiting the Mango and Jackfruit Mela at Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens since the last seven years but have never blogged about it. But this year, visiting the mela was an altogether different experience. I have not been using my DSLR like I usually do nor have I been blogging like I usually do. I just couldn’t wait to click and just couldn’t wait to be engulfed by the aromas of hundreds of varieties of mangoes. It is simply a lovely experience stepping out of home on a hot summer day. Summer is my favourite season and ever since I can remember has been synonymous with school holidays, play, travel and also mangoes.

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I left home on a bright Sunday morning. My initial worries about my day getting ruined by the rains vanished when I saw the sky. I took an auto as I was running late; I had actually wanted to leave two hours earlier. It must have taken my half an hour to reach Lal Bagh. I was greeted by a serpentine queue at the ticket counter which surprisingly had only one man on the job. What was more surprising was that those standing in the queue were hardly perturbed. There were expressions of happiness on almost all the faces that I saw and there were some who were even clicking selfies! Hats off to all these ambassadors of happiness!

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As I walked inside the gardens, I noticed a large crowd of people sporting different hues of summer. Many were there with their entire families. It felt so good seeing so much warmth all around to add to that of the sun’s. For a moment, I forgot why I had come to Lal Bagh.

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Closer to the stalls selling mangoes, the bag sellers (actually a husband and wife duo) were doing brisk business. With ban on plastic catching on, the demand for shopping bags is on the rise. The couple  selling the bags chose a strategic location, just after the entrance of the fair and before the stalls.

 

The mini makeshift exhibition hall had on display innumerable varieties of mango. I never knew there were so many kinds of mangoes. Even during the past editions of the mela, I don’t recall seeing so many varieties.

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Soon I was amidst the sea of stalls and I went on a clicking spree. Mangoes are not just yummy to eat they are a delight to photograph too!

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And in between the mango stalls, there were other vendors making the most of the crowds and doing brisk business.

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Two stalls selling ‘Aam ras’ (popular name of mango puree) was a hit with many. Balloons were of course a favourite with kids.

There were a few stalls selling jackfruit. Like the mangoes, the jackfruits were also vanishing from the stalls at a fast pace. I was amazed to see many shoulder the weight of an entire fruit and walk away. At some stalls, the farmers were shelling the fruits with artistic ease.

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After hanging around the stalls for close to an hour, I ended my trip to Lal Bagh with a walk by the lake. My simian friends were there in plenty and I couldn’t help going after them with my camera. And the Monkey Man of Lal Bagh was also there amazing one and all with his proximity with the monkeys.

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It’s Blooming Time in the City

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Blooming time has never been so beautiful in the Garden City as far as I can remember. This year, my favourite tree, the Tree of Gold (Tabebuia argentea) is in full bloom around the city and along with it the Pink Pouiu (Tabebuia rosea). The two trees are literally vying for attention and grabbing eyeballs of folks who pass by. What is more, people who hardly noticed trees have now begun to look out for them. Hopefully, this is a healthy sign for the days to come. Trees are a beautiful creation of nature. We need to have more of them. And Bangalore needs to get back all the lost greenery it once had. Trees were the soul of the city and with huge numbers of them gone in the name of development, a major part of the city sports a barren and depressing look. Some of the sites which have been shorn of green wealth have become dust bowls.

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Pictures of yellow blooms in some of the major dailies made me want to visit Cubbon Park to click pictures, something I have not done for quite some time. The colour yellow had a magical effect on me. A close one’s ill-health had sapped me of all my enthusiasm and sunk me into a period of despair. Things are looking up now and hope they only get better with time.

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I first decided to go on a Saturday morning (March 3). But a long and tiring Friday had its effects on my Saturday. My office was shifting and there was too much of packing and last minute work to do. I decided to visit on Sunday instead.

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I got late on Sunday morning and had to shift my visit to the afternoon hours. During the course of the day I ended up injuring my right foot and had a tough time getting into my shoes. I finally made it to Cubbon Park around 4pm.

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I got off at the MG Road entrance of the park and was making my way to the bandstand where most of the yellow clusters can be found. Somewhere near the pond, to my pleasant surprise I found a Moulmein Rosewood in full bloom. I took a couple of pictures. These blooms are tiny compared to the Tabebuia blooms and may not even get noticed. Not surprisingly, a visitor to the park (he seemed to be British) asked me in a quizzical manner, “What are you photographing”? I pointed to the tiny blooms and told him, “The blooms there”. He felt amused and asked me, “Why the blooms, you could instead take pictures of the birds and (on a sarcastic note), the garbage pile there (pointing out to a huge pile of trash).” Ewww! Here was a foreigner making a mockery of the sad state of whatever cleanliness initiatives that are supposed to be in place but not happening. Seeing the disappointment on my face, the man went on to add, “Nevertheless, this is a lovely park”, and gave a thumbs up and walked away. After the unexpected session of the good and the bad, I resumed my walk to the bandstand.

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From a distance I noticed that the tilted Tabebuia tree was not only in full bloom but had become a sort of photography hotspot. People were taking turns to get photographed under the beautiful yellow canopy. I couldn’t wait to get under the yellow blooms and increased my walking speed. On reaching there, I went on a clicking frenzy. It goes without saying that the best time to visit Cubbon Park are when the Trees of Gold are in full bloom. It is like walking through heaven.

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The bandstand was bustling with activity. A music performance was on with a small audience all ears to the singers. The rest of the crowd around the bandstand were the usual Sunday merry makers indulging in chats or games. Balls of different hues were being thrown across by young children adding to the colours and gaiety.

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An ice-cream seller was making brisk business under the yellow blooms. He couldn’t have been more right with his choice of location. Most of the ice-cream buyers were children. Some of the brats grabbed a candy even as they were enjoying peddling across on their little cycles. It was a treat to watch them balancing their bikes candy in one hand. A lot of couples were wheeling their babies around in prams. There were photo-ops aplenty and I took shots at various angles.

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The canines were having a field day treating themselves to leftover grub and rolling on the yellow floral beds. This fellow made the most of a pile of dry leaves jutting out his head now and then.

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A boy on his cycle kept me on his toes. Every time I tried to capture his picture someone walked or ran into the frame.

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A pile of something under one of the Tabebuia trees that was covered with a blue sheet acted as an eyesore when taking pictures. Try as much I could I found it difficult to get the stuff out of the frame.

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As the lights went on signalling dusk I aimed my camera to capture the ornamental lights glowing in the midst of the blooms. The results were not as romantic as I wanted them to be.

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As the darkness wore on, I made my way homewards ending a lovely date with the yellow blooms.

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———————–

While Tabebuia argentea are found in abundance in Cubbon Park, the same is not the case with Tabebuia rosea which were also in bloom at the same time. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to spot the two blooms together at my office campus. Have a look:

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A New Year’s Eve Well Spent But ..

I had been attending the Nilgiris’ Cake Exhibition religiously every year since the last four years. So I decided I will not to give this year’s exhibition a miss at any cost. I could not make it to the show during the long Christmas weekend so I chose to go during the long New Year weekend instead.

The Tabebuia Impetiginosa were in bloom around the city. There are plenty of them at Cubbon Park. Cubbon Park is just a stone’s throw from St Joseph’s Indian High School, the venue of the cake show. So I decided to follow the visit to the cake show with a walk through the Tabebuia blooms. At the end of the day I decided to do a round of window shopping at Commercial Street and if possible some photography there too.

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I arrived at the cake show a little past 3pm. A peek into the venue revealed a large holiday crowd most of whom were dressed to the nines. Like every year, the “Photography Strictly Prohibited” banners were put up at every nook and corner of the exhibition. But then I had always managed to click despite these warnings. However, things didn’t turn out to be so cool this time. Even as I focussed on the Gateway of India creation in sugar and cream, a bouncer came running towards me and asked me to stop shooting. But the moment he turned his back I clicked a picture of the oh-so-cute Giant Pandas, only to be warned again this time by a security guard. A lot of people didn’t pay heed to the bouncers and security guards so I continued clicking. But sadly, I had to race past the exhibits and click fast to avoid catching the attention of the bouncers. As a result, I missed taking pictures of a few.

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The Gateway of India turned out to be the cynosure of attention and a favourite with selfie enthusiasts with the Giant Pandas a close second.

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Another cake which grabbed eyeballs was the one of Virushka. The cake avatar of the Indian cricket captain and his actress wife did not quite match their real-life looks but nevertheless was a commendable work of art.

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I had to strain my feet to click a picture of a mermaid.

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There was a representation of the stock market bear and bull too!

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The minions in their cake form simply wowed.

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It was hard to miss this cake of a princess in front of a dressing table and another of a princess in a palanquin.

 

 

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There was Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajkumar too in his cake avatar and the oh-so-cute angry birds.

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Owing to the presence of too many security personnel and bouncers, I made a quick exit from the cake show and joined other visitors as they made a beeline to the Consumer Fair being held adjacent to the cake show. There was nothing interesting here for me and I left the fair with a couple of trinkets.

Cubbon Park was a five minute walk from the cake show venue. In no time, I was inside the gates of the park. Like at the cake show, there were many visitors at the park.

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A large nest caught my eye first. I wish I knew whose nest it is. Next was a canopy of a rain tree. The canopies of rain trees are always a delight to photograph.

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As I approached the Tabebuia Impetiginosa trees, I noticed huge crowds around them. There were selfie enthusiasts too who were sadly vandalising the blooms. A group of vendors selling colourful balls added to the colour riot. The ball sellers were doing brisk business. Alongside the balls, the vendors were selling bubble makers too. As I walked through all the colour and noise, I felt intoxicated with happiness. It was a heavenly feeling to be in the midst of this joyful atmosphere.

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A  lot of vendors were sitting on the pavements of the park and were happily selling their ware.

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As dusk fell, I started walking out of the park. Keeping in mind the untoward incidents that happened on New Year Eve the last year, this year there were a whole lot of platoons of cops and citizen security personnel around the place some of them with trained dogs.

I caught an auto to Commercial Street to experience the New Year celebrations at the busy shopping hub. I was joined by my friend Kannika and her daughter. We had such a good time shopping and eating that we didn’t feel like leaving the place. It was a little past 9pm when we bid goodbye and parted.

On my way home I reminisced about the good time that I had at the park and then shopping. It has been quite some time that I had been out with a friend and I was very happy. Even as I wished that I have more such days in the coming year, I got to know that the condition of a close one is pretty bad and that shocked me no end. All of a sudden, my world crashed!