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!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: “2017 Favorites”

Among my favorite pictures that I clicked in 2017 I would pick this one of a mother monkey grooming her child. This was clicked on a lovely February afternoon. I was strolling through Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens in quest of that one picture that would make my day when I came across a group of monkeys. I went on a clicking spree. Among the pictures that I took that afternoon, this one touched me most because it symbolises mother’s love.

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/2017-favorites/

Movie Review: Borg Vs McEnroe

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Picture courtesy: thesun.co.uk.com

I have never seen Bjorn Borg in action (on television). When television sets came to our homes way back in the early 1980s, the legendary Swedish tennis star had called it quits. The iconic Borg-McEnroe rivalry was too short-lived. And I didn’t get to see much of McEnroe either. I must have got to see just a couple of matches between him and Jimmy Connors. As a kid, I enjoyed McEnroe throw tantrums at the linesmen and umpires and hear the subsequent boos from the crowd especially at Wimbledon. The “Superbrat” was an entertainer both with his racquet and also his mouth.

Coming back to his rivalry with Borg, we all knew that Borg was the ice-cool Swede and McEnroe, the badly behaved guy.

In spite of the recently released Borg-McEnroe movie not having garnered good reviews, I wanted to watch the flick in the hope of catching some of the original match footage and of course McEnroe’s tantrums.

Although, I did get to see wee bits of the match footage and the famous McEnroe temper, what struck me most was the way Borg was portrayed. While on the court, the great Swede (portrayed by Sverrir Gudnason) was cool and composed, off the court and inside the four walls of his home he seemed to be anything but cool. The Swedish superstar was a bundle of nerves and in fact a mental wreck. His coach Lennart Bergelin had the most unenviable job of not only handling his ward’s game but also his extremely low morale. On the other hand, although McEnroe (portrayed by Shia LaBeouf)  was spitting tantrums on the court, off court he came across as one cool dude. Off course, unlike Borg, he didn’t have anything to lose. Borg had a huge reputation at stake and four straight Wimbledon titles under his belt. He so badly wanted a fifth one but McEnroe couldn’t wait to foil his bid. The thought of losing the Wimbledon final to McEnroe gave Borg sleepless nights and made him sweat in fear. Was Borg really that kind of a mental wreck or the movie exaggerated it all? Was the low morale the reason of his exit from tennis at the early age of 26? In the movie, Borg’s ice-cool image definitely takes a beating and it is McEnroe who comes out tops in spite of the famous five set loss to Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon final.

While I wouldn’t say the movie is a must watch it definitely makes you soak in the golden era of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, two of the game’s greatest players. And there are quite a few entertaining moments. I loved the one when during a Wimbledon semifinal game with Jimmy Connors, McEnroe lets go a barrage of tirades at the linesmen and a visibly disturbed Connors walks to the net and asks McEnroe to shut up (Ha ha ha). Connors is believed to have once told him, “My son behaves better than you”!

 

Movie Review: Murder On The Orient Express

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Picture sourced from the movie site.

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder On The Orient Express” lives up to the reputation of her famous work. Like the book, elements of crime, drama and suspense will have you glued to your seat. The story is set in the Calais-bound Orient Express.  The train is unusually crowded for a winter day. It is snowing everywhere. Among the passengers is detective extraordinaire  Hercule Poirot who was lucky to make it into the train as all the seats were occupied. If he made it into the train it was because of his acquaintance with Bouc, the train’s director who also happens to be travelling in it. Things take a turn when Samuel Rathchett, a passenger in the train is found murdered. Bouc entrusts the case to Poirot. As the movie progresses each and every passenger turns out to be a suspect. The end of the story is as incredible as the plot. You will never be able to guess who the murderer is.  Only Poirot’s genius helps solve the mystery.

As I had read the book many years back and had forgotten the story, watching the movie turned out to be an all-the-more exhilarating experience.

Kenneth Branagh shines as Hercule Poirot. I wonder how he managed the combat scenes. Michelle Pfeiffer has perfectly portrayed Caroline Hubbard. Despite his brief experience as Samuel Ratchett, Johnny Depp makes a lasting impression as the character he has portrayed.

The interiors of the Orient Express accentuated by the muted lights complete the great movie experience. The settings are perfect for a murder mystery. Watch this flick on a lazy holiday afternoon or late evening and don’t forget to take in a tub of popcorn.