Lost amidst all the yellow!

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It is that time of the year when my favourite flowering tree, The Tree of Gold aka the Tabebuia argentea is in full bloom. The stunning spectacle of the Tree of Gold in full bloom keeps unfolding in my mind all through the year. I just love that divine feeling that engulfs me when I am near the yellow blooms. It is like festival time!

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My experience of sighting a fully-bloomed Tree of Gold is not complete without seeing the cluster of yellow canopies on the island surrounding the bandstand at Cubbon Park.

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A tricky thing is finding out when the tree is in full bloom. There have been times when I end up visiting the park when the tree is either not in full bloom or else a tad late when the flowers have started falling off. A couple of years back, five visits to the park turned out to be wrongly timed. That year, I never got to see the tree in full bloom although each of the six visits was beautiful in its own way. This year, I was second time lucky. Just a week back (on a Sunday), the tree had flowers but had not bloomed fully. I guessed that it will take another week or a fortnight for it to bloom fully. I guessed right; the following Sunday, three to four trees were in full bloom.

I reached Cubbon Park around half-past 5 on Sunday evening. This was around the same time I came to the park when the Tabebuia Impetiginosas were in bloom in November. The bandstand around which you can find the Trees of Gold is quite far away from the Corporation side entrance of Cubbon Park from where I entered the park. So it was a little early for me to tell if the trees were in full bloom. I had to walk for at least 10 min to reach the bandstand.

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As expected, the park was a beehive of activity as it was a Sunday. There were tourists, joggers, cyclists, children, photographers, and couples among others at every expanse of the park. I weaved through the sea of humanity all the time looking around here and there for photo opportunities if any. A lone crow perched on one of the park’s many ornamental lampposts caught my eye first followed by a jackfruit tree laden with fruit.

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So engrossed was I in looking for photo opportunities that I completely missed the first of the Trees of Gold. It was there in all its golden glory covered with flowers. I couldn’t believe my luck. There were a couple of shutterbugs around among who was my fellow shutterbug friend Priya who I completely missed seeing. It was only when I ran into her again that I realised she was in the park too 🙂 . We literally dashed into each other with our cameras.

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A puffed rice seller had chosen to do business under the tree. A very strategic location I must say! Just a stone’s throw away I could see the other trees looking resplendent in their yellow canopies. I couldn’t help admiring them.

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Just then, another puffed rice seller made his way toward the yellow blooms. He knew fully well that if he had to brisk business it had to be here.

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Selfie enthusiasts and photographers were at their enthusiastic best and so were their muses. The box covered with a blue rexine sheet which turned out to be an eyesore the last year was still around 😦 .  There were a few visitors who were relaxing under the canopies with mats spread out on the grass.

As I looked around I spotted this good-looking fella. Wonder what was in his mind?

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By now the puffed-rice seller had settled down comfortably and was waiting for buyers. And the good-looking fella had settled down comfortably under a tree.

By then a balloon-and-toy seller had also made his way to the place. He was selling bubble makers and trying to attract youngsters by blowing bubbles. His efforts bore fruit because in no time, a tiny tot made his way to him and started gesturing to his parents to buy a bubble maker for him. Seconds later, a group of kids had gathered around him.

 

A young Muslim lad was the most enthusiastic of the lot. He was jumping to catch the bubbles something most of us have done as kids. And even as he was jumping he called out to his uncle. The uncle rushed to his bubbly nephew along with the other children in the family and to my surprise bought only one bubble maker for four kids! Not surprisingly, the young lad was not happy and started wailing. He wanted one for himself. The visibly embarrassed uncle had to oblige the cry baby. Shortly, another kid from the same group came running towards the bemused seller. He wanted to exchange the bubble maker with one of another colour!

Very soon, there was another kid jumping high to catch the bubbles. He too called out to his parents to buy a bubble maker for him. The parents allowed their little one to play with bubbles as long as he wanted to before buying him one.

The good-looking fella had by now moved from under the tree to the centre of the lawn.

I hovered around till the security guards started whistling asking visitors to move out. And what I would say was a fantastic day came to an end. The yellow flowers, soap bubbles, kids and their energy levels and of course the good-looking fella made my day!

 

 

 

 

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There’s so much to eat at Avarekai Mela – IV

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After missing last year’s edition of this popular food soiree, I managed to make it to the fair this year and that too on a week day! I managed to get a day off. Yay!

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The traffic was dense on that Friday afternoon. I chose to travel during the lunch hours which would be most apt I should say to visit a food fest like this one. I must have reached Sajjan Rao Circle, the venue of the fair around 2.30pm. I had wanted to reach the place around 1 to 1.30pm but somehow couldn’t make it.

 

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There wasn’t much of a crowd. The unmistakeable aromas of dosas getting roasted on a tawa greeted me as I approached the food stalls. Undoubtedly, the dosas like always were the most desired items on the menu. The cherubic ever-smiling cook was there this time too, busy laying out Holliges. He seems to have become a media favourite over the years and had a lot of TV camera crew watching him with admiration.

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There were a lot of sellers adding to the lively atmosphere surrounding Vasavi Condiments, the organisers of the fest, including some who were selling raw avarekai. Buyers could choose to buy the avarekai either with the pod or shelled. Sacks of avarekai were also being downloaded at the venue.

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I was surprised at seeing this ice-apple seller. Ice apples normally hit the markets during the summer months. Perhaps, the early produce was an impact of climate change?

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This lady selling varieties of puffed rice was there at the 2017 edition of the fair too.

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Unlike earlier editions of the Avarekai Mela where I only had my camera with me, this time I had a smartphone too. Needless to say, I used both to take pictures. I went on a clicking spree for almost an hour.

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After I was done with the pictures, I decided to have a go for the food. In spite of the presence of so many delicacies at the stalls, I decided to go for my favourite, the Kali dosa with Avarekai sambar as the accompaniment. When waiting for my plate of dosas, I again took my camera out of the bag and clicked some more pictures. When the dosas arrived piping hot, I clicked a picture of them too. There were two on the platter. Hungry as I was, I finished off the dosas in no time. The taste was divine!

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Instead of going for another kind of dosa, I thought I would check out the Avarekai Pulao next. The Pulao which was served in a leaf bowl was a tad spicy and made me want to have something sweet.

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A highlight of this year’s Avarekai mela was the introduction of Avarekai softy ice-cream. I did not think twice before ordering a softy. When the softy arrived all green in a nice-looking cone, I devoured it. It was lip-smacking and almost made me want to go for one more. The craving to have more food vanished with the softy. Perhaps, I should have chosen to eat something else instead of the pulao. I walked around the stalls one last time and decided to go home. My feet had started aching too.

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Lost amidst all the pink

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Blooming time is the most romantic time in the Garden City. There are quite a few blooming times in the year, my favourite being late February/early March when the Tabebuia argentea or the Tree of Gold is in full bloom. Just being in the midst of these yellow canopies makes you feel intoxicated with the feeling of being in heaven. It gives you a heady feeling of divinity unparalleled to anything else. Not far behind the Tabebuia argentea blooms are the purplish-pink blooms of the Tabebuia impetiginosa and the light pink blooms of the Tabebuia rosea. Clusters of flowering trees add to the joyful experience.

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Despite being a tad busy this November, I managed to squeeze in time for a visit to Cubbon Park where there are a lot of Tabebuia impetiginosa trees. It was on a Sunday. I actually wanted to head there in the morning but overslept and had to postpone my trip to the evening hours. Things were moving at such a slow pace that I almost missed going in the evening too. Luckily, I got a bus in the nick of time and reached the Corporation Side Gate of Cubbon Park at around a quarter past 5. It was a Sunday evening and needless to say, the park was crowded with a lot of couples, families, groups of young men and women and the regular Cubbon Park walkers and joggers. There were a lot of cyclists too zigzagging through the crowd. Amidst all the brouhaha, it felt nice to hear the caws of crows and chirps of so many other birds.

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I weaved through the sea of humanity. Strangely, the Aswath Katte near the Corporation Gate entrance wore a deserted look with only one man on a seat lost in thoughts. I still have not been able to lay my hands on the history of this katte.

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As I walked on, I spotted the first beauty and lost no time in taking a picture of her canopy. I was happy the blooms were still there. The flowers were still young. Once these trees bloom it is not long before the flowers fall off. The reasons are many. Many get vandalised and then there are many which fall off due to natural factors like wind and ageing.

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IMG_7172Despite Sunday being a no-traffic day at Cubbon Park, the traffic lights were on. The evening was wearing on, the street lights were on. I had to hurry up with my pictures before dusk enveloped the place. I had to make the best of the short time I had. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise to be late because the blooms look even more beautiful with a fully-lit street light in the foreground.

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A few steps later, I reached the heavenly spot where you can find the majority of Tabebuia impetiginosas.

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People were having a whale of a time under the pink canopies. Many were picnicking, children were playing, and a lot of people were trying out different selfie poses. Balloon and peanut sellers were making brisk business. And I went into a clicking frenzy. I tried to work some magic with my mobile too but it did not work out. The light was low.
It wasn’t long before I decided to call it quits and march out. It felt nice that I got to spend one hour amidst the splendid purplish-pink blooms.

As I walked on out of the MG Road gate of the park, I could not resist taking a picture of the magnificent St Mark’s Cathedral.

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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!