Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Holiday Starts

It's after another year that we are going for a vacation. The past year has been full of ups and downs. Full of surprises, full of hardships, Winnings, losses, learnings, realisations, and a lot more.

Finally when we decided to take some time off from office and head for a vacation, there were so many destinations to choose from. After a lot of thought, we've zeroed upon Rajasthan. We will be there for around 6-7 days. I plan to take a lot of notes during the whole trip, take a lot of pictures too, and after coming back, write a bunch of posts on the trip. Let's see if that really works out.

What was interesting this time was the way we both felt as we left the office on Friday. Because we won't be there the next week, we had to complete quite a few tasks and get all things up-to-date. We both felt just as we had felt two years back when we were leaving office on the last day before our month-long vacation for our wedding. Deja vu. Very weird!

But that's how it is! So here am I, writing my last post before the vacation. The next I'll write only after I am back. See you! Tata!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

दरवळणारे सुगंध

गरम-गरम, आलं घातलेला, वाफाळलेला चहा...एका झटक्यात सकाळ सुवासिक बनून जाते. अशा चहाचा गंध घेऊन ज्याला चहा प्यायचा मोह होत नसेल, तो माणूसच काय!

प्रत्येक सकाळ ही एक नवीन सुगंध घेऊन येते. कधी पावसाची चाहूल, कधी थंडीची ऊब, तर कधी उन्हाचा तडाखा. प्रत्येक दिवसाचा जसा रंग न्यारा, तसाच सुगंधही. दिवस कसा असेल हे प्रत्येक सकाळच्या सुवासावरून कळते.

चैत्र महिन्यात वसंताची चाहूल लागते. सकाळी उठून एक उल्हासित सुगंध दरवळत असतो. जणू सांगत असतो की झाडांना नवी पालवी फुटणार आहे. नवीन आशा, नवीन स्वप्ने, नवीन आकांक्षा. सारं काही नवीन. निरभ्र आभाळाखाली एक दीर्घ श्वास घेऊन सभोवतालचा आनंद आपल्यात सामावून घ्यावा आणि मगच दिवसाची सुरवात करावी.

जशी उन्हाची तीव्रता वाढते, तसाच सुगंधही बदलतो. एक तीक्ष्ण असा सुवास येणाऱ्या तप्त दिवसाची चाहूल देऊन जातो. उष्णता त्या एका सुगंधात लपली असते. हा सुवास जेव्हढा उष्ण, तेव्हढाच कोरडा. सूर्य आता तापला आहे आणि आता कोणाची खैर नाही असा प्रेमळ इशारा असतो.

पण याच दिवसात एक अजून अलौकिक सुगंध घराघरांत दरवळत असतो. एका टोकरी मध्ये बंद करून ठेवलेल्या त्या फळांचा सुवास घरा-दारात भरून राहिला असतो. उगाच नाही त्याला फळांचा राजा म्हणत. खरा तर आंब्याच्या सीझनला असा एक दंडकच केला पाहिजे की  सर्वांनी उठल्यावर प्रथम आम्रसुगंध घ्यावा, आम्र-फळास वंदन करावे, आणि मगच दिनचर्येस सुरवात करावी. तसे न केल्यास आजन्म आंब्यांना मुकावे ही शिक्षा.

जसा आंब्याचा सीझन संपत येतो तसा येणाऱ्या वर्ष ऋतूची चाहूल देऊन जातो. "आज भयंकर उकडतंय, नाही?" "पाऊस येणार वाटतं!" "पाऊस येउदे एकदाचा, खूप झाला उन्हाळा!" असल्या उद्गारानीच आपण पावसाळ्यास सज्ज होतो.

सकाळपासूनच हवेत आर्द्रता जाणवत असते. मेघगर्जनेसह वळवाचा पाऊस हजेरी नक्की लावणार असे वाटत राहते. सकाळच्या दमट सुगंधाने शुष्क झालेल्या मनाने उभारी घेतलेली असते. पण नेहेमीसारखाच पाऊस हुलकावणी देऊन जातो.


कधीतरी रात्री धुमाकूळ पाऊस पडून जातो. सकाळचा पहिला श्वास तुम्हाला रात्रीची कथा सांगून जातो. वातावरणात, वळवाच्या पाऊसाने केलेला पहिला स्पर्श अजूनही तरळत असतो सकाळच्या धुंध वासात.


वर्षा ऋतूच्या विलक्षण सौंदर्यात धरती न्हाऊन गेलेली असते. दररोज सकाळी अधिकाधिक बहरत जाणारी झाडं, फुलं, पानं, सगळंच  विलोभनीय असतं. याच दिवसात पारिजातकाचा वेड लावणारा सुगंध तुमची सकाळ मोहवतो. रातोरात खुलणारी रातराणी, जाई-जुई, सायली, आणि मोगरा, या फुलांनी तर सर्व आसमंत भरून जातो.


सकाळ-सकाळी फुलांनी लगडलेल्या पारिजातकाच्या झाडाखालून कधी गेला आहात? किंवा, झाडाखाली कोणी हिऱ्यांचा सडा टाकला आहे, असे भासवणाऱ्या फुलांना वेचायला कधी गेला आहात का? फुलांचा सुगंध तर अप्रतिम असतोच. पण झाडाखाली पडलेली फुले वेचतावेचता, जेव्हा झाडावरून पडणारी फुले कधी आपल्या पायाशी, तर कधी आपसूक परडीत येऊन पडतात, तेव्हा काय अप्रूप वाटते! आणि नुसतीच फुले नाहीत, तर त्याबरोबर पानांवरून गळणारे टपोरे थेंब, कधी हातावर, तर कधी पाठीवर पडतात, आणि अंगावरून एक सुर्रकन शिरशिरी जाते.


पारिजातकाची फुले हातात घेऊन बघा, आणि त्यांचा सुगंध मनात साठवा. ओंजळ रिकामी केलीत, तरी सुगंध तसाच टवटवीत आणि मोहून टाकणारा येईल तुमच्या हातांना.


पावसाच्या सुरवातीस अजून एका प्रकारच्या वासाची खासियत आहे. सगळ्यांनाच हा वास आवडेल असे काही नाही. पण आहे मात्र या सीझनचे खास वैशिष्ट्य! छत्री आणि रेनकोट यांचे वास. वर्षभराने काढलेले छत्री आणि रेनकोट यांना नेहेमीच एक वेगळा, खास पावसाळी वास येतो. या वासाने मला कायम बेडकाची आठवण होते.


या दिवसात आपल्याला अजून एका वासाची सवय होते, किंबहुना सवय करून घ्यावी लागते. ओल्या, दमट कपड्यांचे वास. आपण कितीही प्रयत्न केला, पूर्ण झाकणारा रेनकोट-टोपी हे सोपस्कार केले, तरीही कपडे ओले होतातच, आणि लवकर वाळत पण नाहीत. आज पाउस येणार नाही, या विश्वासाने आपण बाहेर पडलो की पाउस हमखास आपल्याला फसवणार. मग ओलं होवून घरी येण्याशिवाय गत्यंतर नसतो. शिवाय रस्त्याने जाणाऱ्या वाहनांना तुमचा कोरडेपणा रुचत नाही. ते पावसाची कमी पुरी करतात. एकुणात कपडे ओले राहून दमट वासाची सवय होते.


असे भिजून आल्यावर कांदाभजीचा वास खुणावतो, आणि "खाण्यासाठी जगावे" ते पटते. गरम-गरम भाजीचा वास का एकदा नाकात गेला की मग ना पावसाचे भान, ना ओल्या कपड्यांचे.


श्रावण येतो आणि खाण्याची रेलचेल सुरु होते. नुसतीच सुवासित फुले नव्हे, तर खरपूस, खमंग, जीभेचे चोचले पुरवणारे, एक-से-एक, पदार्थ आपल्या खाद्य संस्कृतीत आहेत.


दर श्रावणी शुक्रवारी एक वेगळा पदार्थ. जीवती देवीच्या व्रतामुळे दर शुक्रवारी वेगवेगळे पदार्थ बनवले जातात. एका शुक्रवारी पुरणपोळीचा घमघमाट असतो. खीर, घावन, आरत्या, चवाचे कानवले या सगळ्यांचा एका पाठोपाठ क्रमांक लागतो. दर शुक्रवारी कामावरून घरी शिरल्या-शिरल्या असा काही मस्त वास येतो की ते वाण-बीण बाजूला राहिलं, लागलीच पानावर बसावे.


हे झालं शुक्रवारचे. पण श्रावणात तर प्रत्येक दिवसच साजरा करण्यासारखा असतो. घराबाहेर पावसाने चिंब झालेल्या मातीचा सुवास, तर घरात वेगवेगळ्या रुचकर पदार्थांचा. नागपंचमीला फळे, शिळसप्तमीला सांजा, पौर्णिमेला नारळी भात असले स्वादिष्ठ  पदार्थ. 


नागपंचमी ला मेंदीचा धुंध सुगंध. ओल्या मेंदीचा, हातावर सुकलेल्या मेंदीचा, आणि रंगलेल्या मेंदीचा सुगंध वेगवेगळा येतो. जितकी मेंदी रंगते तितकी मज्जा वाटते. पण जशी फिकी पडते तसं वाईट वाटतं. नक्षीदार मेंदीने सजलेले हात जेव्हा पूर्ववत बेरंग होतात, तेव्हा वाईट वाटते. पण आश्चर्य म्हणजे त्या पांढऱ्या हातांनापण अजून एक अती सूक्ष्म सुवास येत असतो!

खमंग, सुरमट, साजुक तुपातला नारळी भात घेऊन नारळी पौर्णिमा येते. पाठोपाठ येते जन्माष्टमी. दूध-पोहे आणि दही-पोहे इतका सोप्पा आणि टेस्टी नैवेद्य घेऊन!


मग वाट पाहतो आपण गणपतीच्या दिवसांची. धूप-दीप, अगरबत्ती, फळे, केवड्याची पाने, कमळाची फुले, लाल जास्वंदीची फुले, दुर्वा, पेढे, खोबरं-साखर, साखरफुटाणे, खारीक-खोबरं, सर्व गोष्टींचे मिसळण होवून एक अनामिक मंगलमय वातावरण तयार होते, बेहद्द आल्हादायक!

गौऱ्या घरी आल्या की आनंदाला उधाण येते. चिवडा-लाडू, करंज्या, अनारसे बनवले जातात आणि स्वागताची जय्यत तयारी होते. खीर-घावन, वरण-पुरण, वालाचे बिरडे, बटाट्याची भाजी, पुऱ्या, श्रीखंड, लोणचे, पापड, अगदी लिंबूच्या फोडीचा वास देखील पोटातल्या अग्नीला आहुती वाहतो.

विसर्जनाच्या दिवशी घाटावर जाऊन नुसते उभे राहिले तरी भरपूर फायदा होतो. घराघरातल्या विसर्जित होणाऱ्या गणरायांचे दर्शन होते. शेवटच्या कर्पुरारतीच्या सुवासाने आसमंत भरून गेलेले असते. आरत्या आणि "पुढल्या वर्षी लवकर या" या घोषात उत्साह शिगेला पोचतो. या सगळ्या उत्सवाचा आनंद तर घेता येतोच, पण त्या शिवाय अजून एक मोठा फायदा म्हणजे वाटल्या डाळीचा प्रसाद मिळतो. त्याकरिता तुम्ही घरातलेच असायला पाहिजेत असा काही नाही हां! येण्या-जाणाऱ्या सगळ्यांना मिळतो हा प्रसाद. कधी सुकी डाळ तर कधी ओली. पण त्याशिवाय गणरायाला निरोप कसा द्यायचा?

गणेश विसर्जना नंतरचे दोन आठवडे म्हणजे आपल्या पूर्वजांना प्रसाद देण्यासाठीचे दिवस. आपापल्या पितरांना श्रद्धांजली वाहिली जाते ती घरोघरी. हा काही सार्वजनिक सण नाही. तरीदेखील जेव्हा घरी "तीथ" असते, तेव्हा गोड वडे, तिखट वडे - खीर, आमसुलाची चटणी. गवार-भोपळ्याची, कारल्याची, भेंडीची भाजी, कढी हे सर्व पदार्थ केले जातात. मला तिखट वडा - खीर हे combination कमालीचे आवडते, अगदी कायम पण खाऊ शकते.

पितृपंधरवडा संपतो न संपतो तोच नवरात्र सुरु. नवरात्र म्हटला की मला आठवतं आमच्या घरी बाबा धूप लावतात दररोज संध्याकाळी तेच. आमच्या आईकडे देव बसवतात. सकाळ-संध्याकाळ पूजा आणि आरती. संध्याकाळच्या आरतीच्या वेळची घंटा आणि धुपाचा सुगंध मन एकदम प्रसन्न करून टाकतात.

घरी सवाष्णी घालतात त्या दिवशी चंदनाचा सुगंध येत असतो. चुलीवर मसाला दूध उकळत असते. एका बाजूस सर्व सवाष्णीना द्यायला घरचे विडे बनवले जात असतात. अश्या वेळेस मसाला दूध आधी घ्यावे की पान खावे हेच कळत नाही.

दसऱ्याच्या दिवशी पुरी-श्रीखंड हा बेत ठरलेला. श्रीखंडामध्ये भरपूर जायफळ घालायचे...नुसत्या वासानेच दुपारची वामकुक्षीची guarantee. दसऱ्याला आपट्याची पाने सोनं म्हणून सकाळी पुजायला ठेवतो तेव्हाचा त्यांचा वास आणि संध्याकाळच्या पानांचा वास वेगवेगळा असतो. संध्याकाळची पाने थकलेली, उदास वाटतात. पटकन कुस्करली जातात. कुस्करलेल्या पानांना पण वेगळा वास येतो.

दसरा संपतो आणि दिवाळीचे वेध लागतात. पावसाळा संपून हिवाळ्याकडे वाटचाल सुरु झालेली असते. पण म्हणून काही रविराजाला विसरता येत नाही. दिवसभर चांगलाच तापतो आणि तापवतो. पण संध्याकाळी गारवा पसरतो. दिवसा पानगळतीचा वास खूपच मस्त वाटतो.

आणि एक दिवस गल्ली-बोळातून जाताना बेसन भाजल्याचा घमघमाट येतो, आणि लक्षात येते की आली दिवाळी चार दिवसांवर. रस्त्या-रस्त्यांवर आकाशकंदील दिसायला लागतात. कुठे चकली, कुठे शेव, चिवडा, लाडू, शंकरपाळ्या, अनारसे, ह्या सगळ्या फराळामुळे दिवाळीची वाट आपण उत्सुकतेने बघायला लागतो. नवीन कपडे घेतले जातात. तुम्हाला आवडतो का नवीन कपड्यांचा वास? मला खूप आवडतो. दसरा - दिवाळी निमित्त घेतलेल्या नवीन कारच्या interior चा वास पण आवडतो.

आम्ही लहानपणी मौज म्हणून दिवाळीला "मोती चंदन" साबण आणायचो. दिवाळीच्या दिवशी पहाटे-पहाटे नवीन चंदन साबणाचा सुगंध, घराबाहेरून फटाक्यांचा वास, आणि सकाळचा थंडीचा वेगळाच सुगंध ह्याचे एक विलक्षण मिश्रण तयार व्हायचे.

भरपूर आनंद देऊन दिवाळी संपते आणि मग कडाक्याच्या थंडीचा मौसम सुरु होतो. भर थंडीत, अगदी दुपारीपण गोधडी घेऊन झोपावे, असे मस्त वातावरण होते. तेव्हा दुपारी उन्हात गेले की थंडीचा वास दरवळत असतो. याच दिवसांमध्ये दुपारच्या चारच्या वाफाळलेल्या चहाचे महत्व कळते.

जानेवारीमध्ये संक्रांत येते गुळपोळी घेऊनच. गरम-गरम गुळपोळी, त्यावर चमचाभर साजूक तूप, आणि चवीला बटाट्याची भाजी. ह्या combination ला तोडच नाही.

मग येतो वर्षातला शेवटचा सन, होळी! रंग, फुगे, पाणी, संध्याकाळची होळी, अन अर्थात पुरणपोळी. प्रत्येक सणाची काय वेगळी मजा असते ना! संध्याकाळच्या पेटलेल्या होळीने सर्वत्र गर्मी पसरते. येणाऱ्या वसंत ऋतूची चाहूल अलगद देऊन जाते.

वर्षभर वेगवेगळे सुगंध घेऊन आलेले ऋतुचक्र पुनश्च सुरु होते. गतवर्षीच्या विविध सुवासाची पुंजी घेऊन नवीन वर्षात आपणही जायला सज्ज होतो!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Time Is Flying

Another year gone by. Another year old am I. Another 364 days to wait for that one day! It sounds childish. But it is fun to have birthdays, especially when people remember them and make them special for you. But time flies. One day you find yourself an year younger, while just an angle change of the clock hand, and you suddenly find yourself an year older, on the other side of the twenties, thirties, forties, and so on. You realise that you've suddenly become old!

Time does fly!

Another Diwali will be gone and another year will be gone. Some things will change, some will stay the same. Lots of people will change and still others will be the same for you! New people will come in your life and the old ones will fade away.

In all this, life will move on. There's no stopping. You'll make mistakes, you'll be rewarded. You'll be idle, you'll be busy! You'll be happy, you'll be sad. You'll be lonely, you'll be among company. In all this, time will not stop!

Keep moving!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nothing Much To Write About

...but just thought of writing...anything that comes to mind.

I finally completed that Myths and Legends of the Hindus and Buddhists book. I was rather disappointed with the book. I had imagined to contain quite a store of information about our Hindu gods and goddesses, and about Buddhism. But it was nothing more than a compilation of stories and myths. The language too was not to my taste, pretty didactic, and written from a western point of view. So, all in all, I am happy I pursued though totally bored with the book and completed it. And I am supremely glad that I am done with the book and can now move on to better and more interesting books.

The next one I have started on is Gerald Durrel's My Family and Other Animals. It's funny, interesting, and full of life. But what I am really waiting for is The Secret of Nagas. Let's see how long it takes for me to complete Durrel's book and move on to the Nagas.

XXX

Dussehra is gone and Diwali is round the corner. How will life change after that? Will it change? For better?

At work, new and interesting responsibilities are coming up. New challenges are there on the road. It's going to be my test. I'll have to be careful performing my new responsibilities, making sure I am fair, confident, and understanding. At the same time, I'll have to keep learning new things and keep myself updated. Let's see if I can handle all that.

On the personal front, looking forward to new beginnings. Looking forward to better things and better life. Let's see if life gives me all that!

XXX

Tomorrow's Friday and Saturday, hopefully I'll spend time with me family. Looking forward to the fun!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Totally Bored

Seriously! Nothing exciting happening at the office, or elsewhere. Need something to do, something to think of. But really can't find anything. Can't even think of a good book that I can start reading, unless someone gives me the The Secret of the Nagas.

Our manager had his last day in office as he moved on for better prospects. We had a big lunch for him, got him gifts, and clicked pictures, and also gave him a nice farewell card. Apart from that small amount of excitement, nothing much happening.

I had also called my colleagues over dinner last Saturday. That was a huge success. Even that is over now.

Sunday, we are watching for English Vinglish. Hopefully, just I have heard and read the reviews, it is enjoyable and fun.

At work, there's not much writing at the moment, more of managing and reviewing. Not a lot exciting.

So, in short, nothing new or happening occurring anywhere. Guess and hopefully a passing phase!

Friday, September 28, 2012

ती. बाबांस आणि सौ. आईस,

ती. बाबांस आणि सौ. आईस,

शि. न. वि. वि. पत्र लिहिण्यास कारण खरं काहीच नाही. सहज मनात आलं, की तुम्हा दोघांशी पत्रातून बोलावं. म्हणून हा प्रयत्न. खरं तर मी तुम्हा दोघांना खूप जास्त miss करते. बऱ्याच वेळेस असं वाटतं की तडक तुम्हाला येऊन भेटावा. पण वेळे अभावी नाही जमत.

आज लग्न होवून दोन वर्ष होत आली. मी रुळले आहे नवीन घरी, नवीन ठिकाणी. तरीही तुमची आठवण पदोपदी आल्यावाचून राहत नाही. आज आई-बाबा काय करत असतील? आई निघाली असेल का कामाला ? बाबांचे क्लास्सेस कसे चालू असतील? असे कायम विचार येतात.

तसे आता "रुटीन" चालू झाला आहे. खर तर, काही महिन्यांपूर्वी असे व्हायचे की खूपच आठवण येते आहे तुमची. पण आता, जसे प्रत्येक जण सवय करतो, तशी मला पण झाली आहे सवय तुमच्या शिवाय राहायची. तुम्हा दोघांना पण झाली असेल कदाचित. तुम्ही "मुलगी सुखात आहे" यातच तुमचा सुख मानता. पण म्हणून मला तुमची आठवण येत नाही असे नाही.

घरात स्वतः काही गोष्टी करताना विचार येतो, की मी कशी होते लग्नाआधी. मग विचार येतो की आई-बाबांबरोबर कसे करायचे मी ह्या गोष्टी. मग थोडा लग्नाआधी करायचे ते, आणि मला जे बरोबर वाटते, अथवा करता येते, जसे करता येते तसे, असे दोन्ही एकत्र करून एक वेगळ्या प्रकारे केला जाते. त्यात पण गम्मत आहे.

आधी सगळेच नवीन आणि वेगळे वाटायचे. पण आता माझा स्वतःचे वेगळे आयुष्य चालू आहे. काही गोष्टी ज्या मी आधी कधीच करायचे नाही त्या करते. आधी ज्या करायचे, त्या आता बिलकुलच करत नाही. खूपच वेगळे आहे, तरीदेखील सारखेच आहे. प्रत्येक लग्न झालेल्या मुलीला असेच काहीसे अनुभव येत असणार.

मला फक्त कधी-कधी असे वाटते की मी मुलगी असल्याने तुमच्या जवळ नाही राहू शकत. त्याही पेक्षा, मुलगी म्हणून स्वतःच्या आई-बाबांची जबाबदारी कमी, आणि सासू-सासर्यांची जास्त, हे बऱ्याच वेळेस ऐकते, त्याचे वाईट वाटते. तुम्ही देखील किती तरी वेळेस म्हणाले आहात...की आता त्या घरचे आधी सांभाळायचे. त्याचे थोडे वाईट वाटते. मग जास्त आठवण होते. असा आपल्या समाजात का विचार केला जातो, हेच कळत नाही. आणि आवडत त्याहून नाही.

मला कायम वाटत राहते, की शेवटी मुलीच्या आई-बाबांचे हात रिक्तच राहतात का?

असो! एव्हडेच सांगायचे होते की मी मजेत आहे. काळजी करू नये. पण तुम्ही दोघे नक्की स्वतःची काळजी घ्या.

तुमचीच,
प्राजक्ता

Why So Much Hulla-Bulla On Barfi?

... I really do not understand!

Why do we have to go back and analyse the film and then realise that it is copied from other films? Why can't we just enjoy it just as it is?

I watched Anurag Basu's interview yesterday. He openly admitted that the film is a tribute to all the movies that he grew up watching. He also mentioned that there was a note in the beginning of the movie saying so, which he had to remove because of the "Smoking is injurious to health" message that he had to add. Isn't that enough?

More than that, how does it matter if he has copied the scenes from such other movies? Just adding them in the movie in the right manner, at the right point of time in the movie, and with the right timing, direction, and editing is a feat in itself, don't you think?

Several scenes are copied exactly as they are from the other movies. That does not make their importance any less in Barfi. They remain as enjoyable as before. To understand that those scenes from those particular movies could be reused in this movie in the same likeable manner is great. To direct the artists to give excellent timing and beautiful moments in Barfi is awesome. To bring out the same effect, to shoot the scenes from the same angle, all that requires technique, and definitely a great understanding of camera work and filming.

I really do not mind Anurag Basu copying the scenes. In fact, he has used the same theme of those scenes. But used them beautifully in his movie. And what really is wrong in that? All great artists have done that. Shakespeare is a good example of that. Most of his world-famous dramas had their plots or stories picked up from stories from history that were already well-known in those times.

So, if one film-maker does use the world-famous scenes from different movies in his movie, why should it be such a big issue?

If such scenes had been used by the Chopras, Johars, or Khans, would the media raise similar issues? Or would these bigwigs be acquitted just because of their well-known names?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

आठवणी लहानपणीच्या गणेशोत्सवाच्या

आज हरतालिका! आणि उद्या गणेश चतुर्थी. सकाळी उशीरच झाला उठायला. पूजा-अर्चा नाही झाली सकाळी. फक्त देवीला हळद-कुंकू वाहिले. दररोज सारखी office ला पण आले. कामामध्ये थोडा विरंगुळा, म्हणून office cafeteria मध्ये उभी होते, तेव्हा एकदम लहानपणीच्या गणपतीच्या आठवणी आल्या.

आम्ही लहान होतो तेव्हा आई हरतालिकेच्या दिवशी उठवून नाहायला लावायची. माळ्यावर कुठे तरी जपून ठेवलेली, जी फक्त तिलाच माहित असायची कशाची आहे ते, ती plastic ची पिशवी काढायला लावायची. उघडून बघावे आत तर काय! वाळू! मग आई आम्हाला त्या वाळूने पाटावर हरतालिका देवीच्या दोन बाहुल्या शेजारी-शेजारी, आणि त्यांच्या पुढ्यात महादेवाची पिंडी, असे तयार करायला लावायची. (उजवीकडे काढून दाखवले आहे.)

मग त्या पाटावर साग्रसंगीत पूजा व्हायची. हळद-कुंकू, गंध, अक्षता, फुले, पत्री, हे सगळे वाहायचे, दूध-साखरेचा नैवेद्य दाखवायचा. एखादे फळ असेल तर ते देखील ठेवायचे देवापुढे. त्या नंतरच खायला मिळायचे. भूक लागलेली असायची. पण "आजच्या दिवस तरी जरा दम धर" असे सकाळीच ऐकवलेले असायचे. मग गपचूप पूजा व्हायची वाट बघायची.

आम्ही खरी वाट बघायचो ते हरतालिकेच्या संध्याकाळची. आई ऑफिस मधून कधी येते त्याची आतुरतेने वाट  बघत असायचो. कारण संध्याकाळचे मुख्य आकर्षण असायचे...शनिवार वाड्यावर जाऊन गणपती बघायचे.

आमच्या घरी गणपती नसतो. म्हणून आई-बाबा आम्हाला घेऊन जायचे सगळे वेगवेगळे गणपती बघायला. काय मज्जा यायची! सर्व प्रकारचे गणपती असायचे...मोरावर बसलेला, हत्तीवर बसलेला, सिंहासनावर शिवाजी महाराजांसारखा, साई बाबांच्या वेषात, मुषकावर, वीणावादन करणारा, कृष्णासारखा डोक्याला मोराचे पीस असलेला, आणि किती तरी विविध रूपे.

खूप सारे काका-काकी आजू-बाजूला असायचे गणपती बाप्पाला घरी न्यायला आलेले असायचे. किती तरी मुले बाप्पांना घेऊन जात असायचे. एखादी हातगाडी दिसायची. त्यावर आठ-दहा छोटे-मोठे गणपती असायचे. सगळ्यांची तोंडं झाकलेली. एखाद्या चाळीतील सगळी मुले गोळा झालेली असायची, जोरजोरात ठरवा-ठरवी चालायची त्यांच्या मुलांच्या मंडळाचा गणपती कुठला ठरवायचा ते.


शनिवार वाड्याच्या त्या पटांगणावर पूर्ण फेरफटका मारायचो आम्ही. रात्री उशीरा पर्यंत. इतके सारे सुंदर गणपती बघून डोळे दिपायचे. मग आमच्या comments असायच्या...हा गणपती एकदम बेरकी दिसतोय, तो फारच cute आहे, हा छोटा फारच मिश्कील आहे. तो मोठावाला कॉमेडी दिसतोय. एकाचा डोळा जरा तिरका आहे, तर दुसऱ्याचे पोट जरा जास्तच बाहेर. काही गणपती "कृष्ण-धवल" असायचे, म्हणजे एक पूर्ण पांढरा, तर दुसरा एकदम कृष्ण सारखा काळा. काही ugly वाटायचे, तर काही जात्याचे सुंदर.

असे करत-करत कधी रात्रीचे दहा वाजायचे कळायचे नाही. मग दर वर्षी सारखे आम्ही विचारायचो: "एक छोटी मूर्ती न्यायची का?" मग नेहेमीचा संवाद व्हायचा.

"नाही न्यायची!"
"पण का??"
"आपल्याकडे गणपती नाही आणत."
"पण का म्हणून? सगळ्यांकडे असतो. आपल्याकडेच का नाही?"
"नाही."
"पण काय होता नेला तर? वाटल्यास पूजा नको करायला त्याची."
"अगं असे नाही चालत. मूर्ती आणली की पूजा-अर्चा सगळी करावी लागते."
"मग करूयात ना."
"आपल्यात नाही करत."

शेवटी मग compromise म्हणून दोन कमळं घ्यायचो. त्या कमळांचा काही उपयोग नसायचा, तरी घ्यायचो. आणि ते गणपतीमागे लावतात चक्र, ते देखील घ्यायचो.  just मज्जा म्हणून. त्यातच आनंद मानून घरी परतायचो.

मग दुसऱ्या दिवशी गणपती बसायचे. ज्यांच्याकडे दीड दिवसाचा गणपती असायचे, त्या सगळ्यांकडे संध्याकाळी जाऊन यायचे. गौरी-गणपती असतील, त्यांच्याकडे जाऊन यायचे. बिबवेवाडी, धनकवडी, मार्केट यार्ड, असे पुणे दर्शन करून घरी परतायचे.

विसर्जन ज्या दिवशी असेल, दीड दिवस, पाच दिवस, गौर-गणपती जातील तेव्हा, त्या सगळ्या दिवशी घाटावर जायचे. विसर्जनाची मज्जा बघायची, आणि मुख्य म्हणजे वाटली डाल, खिरापत, आणि पेढे, असे वेगवेगळ्या, अनोळखी लोकांच्याकडून पण प्रसाद मिळायचे. काय मौज वाटायची! आणि सगळे लोक अनोळखी लोकांना पण प्रसाद वाटतात. अतिशय उत्साही आणि मंगल वातावरण असायचे.

एव्हड्यात दहा दिवस कधी संपायचे कळायचे नाही. आदल्या-मधल्या दिवशी रात्री आई-बाबा गणपती दाखवून आणायचे. दगडूशेठ हलवाई, मंडई, तुळशीबाग, बाबू गेनू, जिलब्या मारुती, हिराबाग, खडकमाळ, जोगेश्वरी, कसबा गणपती, नातूबाग, गुरुजी तालीम, हत्ती गणपती, असे किती तरी. सगळे चालत-चालत बघायचे. कधी कधी थोडा पाऊस असायचा. पण तरी सगळे गणपती cover करायचे. कणीस खायचे आणि चालत-चालत फिरायचे. खूप धम्माल केली.

अनंत चातुदशी च्या दिवशी आमच्या काकांकडे अनंताची पूजा असते. मग आम्ही त्या दिवशी सकाळी अकरा पर्यंत जायचो त्यांच्याकडे. आई प्रसादाला कायम बोटव्याची खीर करून न्यायची. येत-जाता किती तरी मिरवणुका दिसायच्या.

रात्री लक्ष्मी रस्त्यावर मिरवणूक बघायला जायचो. शेवटचा दगडूशेठ हलवाईचा गणपती गेला, की एकदम खाली-खाली वाटायचे. आता गणपतीची भेट एकदम पुढल्या वर्षीच, असे मनात म्हणत घरी परतायचे.

आज इतक्या वर्षांनी सगळ्या गोष्टी जश्याच्या तश्या डोळ्यां पुढे उभ्या राहिल्या. खूप nostalgic वाटले. आठवणी पण साठवून ठेवाव्यात, असे वाटून गेले, म्हणून पटकन लिहून काढले. या पुढे पण गणपती उत्सव होईलच, ढंग नक्कीच वेगळा असेल!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Another Award

...yes, I got another award in office yesterday as an appreciation and recognition of work that I did in the last release.

The last release that happened in the end of July was a real big release, and I had absolutely slogged out for that. I was handling three products, three writers, interacting with numerous, numerous people, and overall handling complicated information.

Out of the three products, the one that I was supposed to only manage was the one in which I ended up writing too. It was being handled by a novice writer, and ultimately I had to review and almost rewrite everything that the writer had done. It was a learning experience for me. It taught me patience and working in pressured environment. I learnt the lesson that for novice writers, I need to adopt a different strategy.

The second product was again being written by a junior writer. I spent a lot of time again in making the writer understand the mistakes, only to find the same mistakes being committed again and again. By the time I could again help the writer understand the fine nuances of writing, I had to concentrate on the third product, which was going to be the toughest of all.

I learnt a valuable lesson while handling the second product. I learnt that how much ever you try to be at all places every time, you cannot. How much ever you try to do all things on your own, you cannot. How much ever you try to make people do things perfectly, they will not. Because, they will do it only as per their capacity.

And finally, that you have to let go. You simply cannot do all the things, all the time, all the way. You have to stop yourself and not stretch. You have to let go and understand that you cannot be there all the time, and that you are not responsible if people do not do work as you want them to do.

The toughest was the third product. Information was hard to come by, and when it came, it came in hordes. Multiple people commenting on existing information in the documents, providing new information that had to be added, requesting to delete some information, requesting for a fourth or fifth review of the updated information. It was crazy! But there was method in all this madness.

I could handle it because I had learnt how it was to handle the third product from the last time. I had faced similar people and similar sources of information in the last release. I was prepared for it. The good part was that people had started trusting me with the documentation for that product and readily helped me.

There were days when I was struggling with my information. At times, I was at loss to understand where to start. For some information, I couldn't see when the reviews and comments would stop coming. A week before closing the docs, I was done with most of the documentation. However, with my past experience, I knew that there was one block of information that was still pending from a team.

That's what exactly happened. It was crazy handling the complex information. But I could do it and get the reviews too. It was a mammoth task of interacting with so many people and getting information from them.

But I have learnt so much from this. I have actually seen myself grow as a writer, as a senior person in a team, and moving on to handle bigger things. I really, really love my work here.

During this last release, it was only once that I was off my rocker when I was facing issues on my personal front and when there was  just too much of information to handle at work. But then, all my colleagues helped me and supported me. My manager especially knew how hard I was working and asked me to take a week off when the release was over.

I have really been lucky. I thank God for giving me opportunities to perform, to excel, to help me grow, and to test my mettle. And I thank Him for putting me in a set of people that support me, understand me, and help me grow!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

To Babai

Babai in a pensive mood
Dearest Babai, who is right now not as healthy as she used to be. It is heart-wrenching to see her like that.

Babai, my Aai's Aai, has always been this one strong woman, who has never ever bowed down. To see her in the bed all the time, too weak to talk is very disturbing.

When me and my sister were kids, we used to stay at my grandmom's place after our school. We used to be dropped by our rickshaw-wale kaka in the afternoon, and stayed there till evening, when Baba used to come to pick us up.

Those were magical days! Babai and Kaka (my Ajoba) used to stay at Prabhat Talkies, literally in the heart of Pune city. They had a two-room home that housed so many people at a time. We used to have all our cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, all together under one roof. But the house always seemed enough for all.

Babai was almost the head of the house, taking care of the kitchen, the kids, the grocery, everything around. She was a solid support for my Mami who continued working as a nurse. My cousin, my sister, and I used to spend afternoons together after school. We used to fight during lunch for the place closest to Kaka. We used to fight again for the afternoon siesta for a place closest to Babai. She would pacify us saying that she had long hands and would reach up to all.

She was the one who taught us to read time. She had this old, broken-down clock that she used to tune and change the hour and minute hands, and then ask us to guess the time. I can never forget that red-faced clock and those "timely" hours spent in the balcony.

Babai had always been strong, at times very, very headstrong, to the point of being irritating. She always gloried in the work that she did, the contacts she maintained in her big family, be it on her own side, or her husband's side. Everyone in the family used to respect her, love her, and never forgot what she had done for them. And she really did do everything possible for everyone. No one left her threshold unsatisfied. She was there for everyone, a lighthouse, a beacon, a solid wall of support.

She had her flaws. She was too headstrong. She had been too much in the limelight, too much in the power to give up easily. She always wanted things her way. She has had a tremendous ego. But all in all, she never bowed down, never gave up.

Today, when I see her in the hospital, I can only remember how she was once upon a time. She is diminished, faded, and tired. After 85 years of being headstrong, it is hard to see her bowed down due to her age. She is slowly losing against time.

We all love you, Babai! Just one more loving request we make of you...do not go away by losing away to life. Fight back! Be your own self! Be the iron lady you have been! Make your final exit on your own terms. Not by simply fading away!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Fiasco Of Planting Trees



Today morning dawned a new scene. Around 9.30 in the morning, just as we were getting ready for office, there was a kind of sober commotion outside house. Some people from the municipal corporation had come to plant trees in the neighbourhood. Everyone started gathering around as people realised what was going to happen.

Everyone in the area had been unprepared for this surprise visit. Rather, all were taken aback that new trees were even required in our area. My locality consists mainly of self-occupied houses surrounded by small gardens. Most of the owners have created their own greenery and plants in their little gardens. Also, the area has never been barren what with gulmohor, palm, parijatak, and other variety of trees growing in the area. Naturally, a tree-plantation drive was as much a novelty as an unnecessity.

The worst part of the drive was that none of the residents were informed in advance of such a drive. And secondly, to plant those saplings, the corporation workers were digging up the newly-laid footpaths. The workers went about their work unashamedly, and have already dug up the footpaths on both the sides of the road at several places. The dug up footpaths are now easy pitfalls for idle walkers who may not always look down as they walk.

The irate residents were very vocal in their disapprovals. One of the men in the group was heard saying: "पण मी म्हणतो, चांगले फुटपाथ खोदायला कशाला पाहिजेत?" The other one was heard saying how these men would just keep the pits open and never bother about planting trees or even covering them up. "ते लोक काय, त्यांचे काम करून गेले, आता कोण येऊन बघणार?"

Another irritated man angrily was showing everyone, who was ready to pay attention, how those workers had dug up exactly in front of his gate. The kaka who live opposite us had already shown all the trees in his own garden when those people had dug up the footpath on their side of the road. But of course, that didn't budge the workers. Their target was to dig up the platform for trees outside the compounds, not inside. What mattered if there were scores of trees inside! There were none on the footpath or at the edge of the road. That meant there were no trees!

One other man with an upright civic sense was ranting about how the local corporator was really not of much use, how he knew the corporator had climbed the ladder to success, and how he was irresponsible. The resident was also unhappy about how most of the residents had not even bothered to come out of their houses even when someone was digging up right in front of their houses. He ranted on loudly of their indifference to the wrong doings of the civic body.

Honestly, I found the situation hilarious. Here were people who were angry that the footpaths were being dug up, while the workers nonchalantly and diligently completed their digging and went away.

What I would certainly like to know is, who really had this great idea of digging up the footpaths to plant trees in an area where there were quite some trees? Who also gave them permission to do that? And why is it always that digging is done when the road is newly made or when footpaths are newly laid?

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Immortals of Meluha

(I have tried not to delve out a lot of details from the book to avoid giving spoilers. However, if you have not read the book, and plan to read it, just a warning that the following post might contain spoilers.)

This first of the Shiva trilogy is a fantastic book. After I started reading it, I just could not put it down. It is fast-paced, funny, intelligent, and not a bit boring.

Amish Tripathi, the author has taken Lord Shiva out of his "Lordship" and yet awarded him the "Lordship" in a totally different way. We see him as a common man who has his own problems, ideas, thoughts, weak points, and strong points. But he certainly has the strength to lead people and think differently. That is what makes him different.

Amish has made use of one of the greatest civilizations of history, the Indus Valley Civilisation to the greatest advantage. In a very creative way, the life led in that civilisation, which we might have known only through school and history books, is brought back to life, providing a whole gamut of experiences of understanding the civilisation. Perhaps it may not be all true. But the way it has been imaginatively given a character of its own is very good.

The workings of that civilisation are intrinsically woven into the story. The civilisation was a way of life. And that is precisely what is portrayed in the book.

The characters are well fleshed out. Each one, including the hero, has flaws that are part of the character. Each character is dynamic and doesn't behave superficially. Some characters may not be given a lot of space, like the Queen of the Suryavnshis. But such characters are not lost. They still have their own presence felt.

A mixture of mythology, fiction, suspense, mystic, and a brilliant plot is what makes this book a pleasure to read. Right from detailed descriptions of the wars that are fought, the one-on-one fights, or even the skirmishes that take place, the book does not become dull any moment.

I really liked the book and am looking forward to reading the next one - The Secret of the Nagas. I am hoping that Amish does not disappoint even in the last of the trilogy and keeps writing many more such interesting books.

Behind The Wall

My office is very close to the jail. The office canteen overlooks a wide patch of land where all women convicts toil hard in the day. As the days have passed, the brown, coarse patch has turned into a green, lively field.

Everyday is a new day to observe these women in the field. When we moved to this new facility, it was a novel place for us all. We were overjoyed to see the vast fields before us and the open skies. We moved in the winter months and were glad to sit in the weak, winter sun and get some sun-bath. The early morning ritual of a hot cup of chai in the sun to warm ourselves was coupled with the gazing and observing of the fields before us.

As winter gave way to summer, the oppressive heat became unbearable. We tried to avoid the open canteen and remain inside in the air conditioning. Even as we had to go to the canteen for our lunch, we grumbled about the brutal heat waves that made it impossible to sit there. Only as the afternoon waned, we stepped into the canteen for a cup of evening chai.

Rains have come very late this season. Long, dry summer was very adamant and troubled everyone with its dry winds and insufferable heat. Finally as the rains have arrived, a fresh breath of life has been given to all. Everyone has also given a sigh of relief that the water situation for the entire city will improve.

During all this time, with the changing landscape, the fields and the workers have been constant. In the harsh summer afternoon, we could see them under the trees. All ladies in green saris toiling hard in the heat. As monsoon approached, they started tilling the fields and then waiting for rains. Two months into the rainy season, their fields have blossomed into green vegetables, and other produce that they will sell.

Every day, for me it is a kind of a routine to look out at the fields and see the convicts working. Sometimes, it is hard to believe that all those ladies working in those fields are convicts. The tremendous efforts that they put into their work is a truly extraordinary.

Perhaps some of them could have been convicted for petty crimes, some might have done gruesome crimes, while a few could also have been convicted wrongly. But they all have the same routine now, same lifestyle. A few could have been from rich families, while others from poor families. But in the world behind that big wall, they just are all the same. Neither poor, nor rich; neither educated, nor coarse, just plain criminals who are all on an equal level.

Or so it seems! Inside the walls, what happens one wouldn't know. There would be a hierarchy even among the hardest of the criminals. They might perhaps still be bullying some weaklings in the group. Perhaps only before the wardens they behave themselves while without a watchful eye, they go back to being the ruffians that they are thought to be.

Each one of them would have a story to tell. Of why and how they landed up in the jail. How they have their families behind them, how their kids might be surviving without them. It must be difficult for them to be without their kids and families.

I always wonder what each one of them must be thinking of when they are serving their sentences. Do they feel ashamed of what they did? Do they feel good that they did what was right? Do they feel stuck in that little world behind the big wall? Some of them could be waiting for the end of their sentences so that they go out and lead a better life. They have perhaps learnt from their mistakes and during their time in the prison, they have come to understand what life really is.

All in all, for me it is an everyday experience of seeing the ladies toiling in the fields and doing something that not all could boast of in an urban landscape. But then, they also have done something that not all would normally do.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Being Lucky

After a long time, I have got the time to blog. And now, I cannot think of anything to write about. There were so many things that I wanted to write about when I was working hard and had no time to write. But now, I can recall nothing that I want to write about.

So, I am just going to write here whatever random thoughts come to my mind.

Today, when I checked my office mails, I found appreciation mails from all my senior members. Not just my team, but also the senior manager of two of the products that I was working on. And also an appreciation mail from VP Engineering. I was happily surprised. I am glad that my work has been recognised and appreciated.

Whenever I think back on what all I have been working on, the opportunities I got here in my present job, the experience on all different fronts, be it writing, handling people, overall industry experience, I just feel I have been so lucky. Two and half years back when I was ready to work again after a break of two and half months, I had two choices. The other company was more famous. But I somehow went for this one, because my previous manager was here. And somehow, at that time, it made sense. In what way, and how, I don't know. But at that time, it just seemed to be the right choice. And boy! It really has been the right choice.

I have been really lucky to get a great team lead and manager. They have helped me grow and learn so much. Some years before, I might have thought that I had lost some good chances of promotion. But today, I don't feel that at all. I know that my experience today has been useful for me to get to the position that I am today. Posts and designations never mattered a lot. Of course, I am not a saint. So, when people who were junior to me got promoted, I used to get jealous, only a bit. But today, I am happy at what I am doing and where I am. I am proud to say that I have not got an undeserved promotion. I have really worked hard over these two years. I love the work that I am doing here.

The best part is that when I say that I have an experience of seven years, I feel I have gained knowledge equivalent to the number of years and designation that I have. It's not the feeling that I used to get when I was interviewing candidates to hire them. I found them all having an experience of more than 3-4 years. But if you really questioned them about the kind of work they had done, they couldn't really stand up to the designation they had. I am glad that promotions have come in at the right time for me. Not the kind of higher designations handed out to candidates just to retain them in the company.

I have had very rigorous 4-5 months. I just completed a release on Wednesday and have taken these two days off. I am really enjoying these two days off. But believe me, I am more than willing to go back to work on Monday and start something new. It really makes me happy.

I only want to wish the same good luck to everybody of my colleagues. It has been great with them, and surely I wouldn't have achieved this success without each one of them. Thank you all!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Post-Release

One major release is over at work. And it's time for relaxation.

Since last October-November, I remember nothing but working hard. Putting in extra time to complete documentation for releases. For me releases followed one after the other in succession. It is now, in fact, difficult to understand what to do in the time that I'll have at hand at office. But I am sure I will be able to figure out. More than that, I am sure there will be some next release coming up before I get time to relax.

But one thing I am sure going to do is, start leaving from office on time. I am not going to linger on in office for more than required. I'm also going to try and finish off reading a lot of books that I have bought and just kept them on the shelf for lack of time.

I also want to go out of town for a few days or a week and relax at some sea or mountain resort. I am not sure that will happen. But I can at least dream about it! :)

Hopefully, I should also be more frequent here now that I'll have time on my hands. I do have a couple of themes to write about.

One other thing I am definitely going to do is catch up with people with whom I have lost touch. I have been giving the excuse (had to rack my brains for this word, just couldn't get it out!) that I don't have time. But now, I won't give that reason!

Ohh...and I almost forgot. I have to start exercising again!

Quite a big list to do. Let's see if I can do it all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On A Cooking Spree

I was on a cooking spree for the past couple of weeks. Cooked all this:

Rawa ladoo
Dal Makhani
Palak Paneer
Kobi Pakode
Chicken cream curry
Chicken pasta
Bhendawani
Paav Bhaji
Egg Biryani

All tasted pretty good. :) Had fun!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

An Hour Of Drive

I got up early, cooked, cleaned, got ready, and we left for office at 9.30 a.m. on the dot. In hopes of reaching early to office, we were to meet only with disappointment.

As usual, for apparently no reason, the signal at Khadki Bazaar was not working. That affected the traffic till almost a kilometer behind. I have just not understood the reason of shutting of traffic signals and manning the traffic manually.

Why can't the right authorities understand that it just does not make sense! With one signal off, there is so much of wastage of time, money, petrol, and an overall increase in the frustration of thousands of drivers. Not to count the extra work the traffic police have to do! It's sheer madness!

And because there is already a bottleneck, everyone just wants to go before the other. No one is ready to stop, allow others to move, or follow traffic rules. Two-wheelers encroach on the footpath, pedestrians cannot walk on the roads, trucks, buses, cars just race to move ahead. Pandemonium!

So today, even after starting at 9.30 a.m., we just did not reach early. It was an hour's drive! The futility of starting early!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Buba!

Dearest Buba,

Wishing you a very Happy Birthday! May you always have a lot, lot books to read!

This wonderful man, my dad, turned 70 today. He has been the kindest, calmest man I have met. He has been a scholar of English, Sanskrit, and Marathi. I am amazed at how many things he knows...philosophy, religious, political, language, happenings around him, people around him. His vast accumulation of knowledge is unbelievable.

Today on his birthday, I just want to let him know that I miss him and think of him everyday. His calm and quiet nature, support, wisdom, and humour is all that I miss.

I wish him good health in years to come. Good Luck Baba!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Visiting Vishrambaug Wada

Vishrambaug Wada, is a nice old style wada situated in the heart of the Pune city. For shoppers who are well-known with Tulshibaug won't find it difficult to find this place. It's just opposite the entrance to Tulshibaug on Bajirao Road. Lot of confusing names for the newcomer in Pune. But don't worry. Just hop into a rickshaw and ask the rickshaw-wallah to take you to Vishrambaug Wada. You'll be alighted right at its entrance.

Inside of Vishrambaug Wada
So...to start with the history, this palace or Wada as it is called in Marathi, was built in 1807 at a cost of Rs. 2,00,000, which was a whooping cost at that time. It was owned by Peshwa Bajirao II, who stayed there for around 11 years before he was imprisoned by the British.

In 1821, a Sanskrit school was started in Vishrambaug Wada. Government Engineering College (now called COEP), Deccan College, Pune University, and Agricultural University were all had their humble beginnings here in Vishrambaug Wada.

A well inside Vishrambaug Wada
An interesting placard in the Wada mentions that William Wordsworth had written to the Public Works Department (PWD) complaining of the unhygienic conditions of the Wada at that time. I am really not sure if this could be true. Need to verify that. Nevertheless, it does give a different charm to the Wada.

At this Wada are now some municipal offices such as the Birth and Death Registration Office, Post Office, and a few shops are also operative.

What is also of some interest is a very small showcase of old buildings and structures in Pune, right from Council Hall, Gokhale Hall, Kasba Ganpati, Mandai, and various other notable structures. Miniatures of all these noteworthy buildings are on display. But this showcase seriously needs a makeover. More information about these buildings, clean and bright environment, old photographs, and many more interesting facets of life in Pune in the 18th and 19th centuries will make this a veritable source of information. This display is for free now. But I wouldn't mind paying if they upgrade it.

Also. if they take some serious restoration work for the Wada, make a few more rooms open to the general public by providing them information and entertainment, I am sure it will work wonders for not just tourism, but also for our glorious history.

Wish someone does take some efforts!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Doing Those Things

I have again started following a couple of Marathi TV serials that are there on air. I like them. Both these, I wish I can follow everyday. But I know that is never going to happen. Firstly, I don't get to watch what I want on TV when I am home. And secondly, we usually don't reach home by the time the serials are shown. But both serials are good: उंच माझा झोका and एका लग्नाची दुसरी गोष्ट.

Both deal with different subjects, both are directed well, and the most important point is that they are not about the fighting, conniving, saas-bahu stupid themes.

Apart from that, I am also reading different types of books. If I am reading fiction at a point, I complete it and move on to something like autobiography or philosophy, or facts and mythology, or even something as simple as children's book. It's exciting.

And one thing I have done plenty is thinking, thinking, thinking. Speculating, rethinking, regarding, judging,  doubting, understanding, surmising, supposing, recalling, grasping, fathoming, realizing, theorizing, suspecting, concluding, hoping, awaiting, assuming, and getting exhausting doing all this.

That's how life is at the moment! 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Moving On

It's as difficult or as easy as you make it. Depends on how much you really want to move on. Be it in a job, be it on a personal front.

In a job, there could be several reasons for your moving out. One of the major reasons is that your lead or manager have been incapable of giving you the due and appreciating your hard work. When that happens, moving on is easier. Perhaps, it's difficult to leave behind your colleagues who have been very supportive throughout your tenure in that job. But after all, if you have no growth, you will find it easier to step out.

If money is the reason, then nothing easier than getting out. You are really not bothered about your friends or colleagues. Because, you can be in touch with them even after you are out of the company.

If it is because of some personal reason, it is kind of easier to get out. You know you have to take that step because there is no other option. Of course you'll miss your work there, the environment, friends, colleagues, atmosphere...everything. But all said and done, you have to move on. And that makes it easier to release all things bound to you for so long in that workplace.

But on a personal front...

Reasons are numerous, probably resolutions too. But if you are planning to move on from one phase to the other, there are so many things that you keep thinking about. Self-doubt, uncertainty, unknown future, sadness at leaving behind things, hope of a better future, indecision of what to leave behind and what to take, belief in self...all feelings, emotions are in a turmoil. The road is strewn with questions that seemingly don't have any answer.

There are people to support you, all family members, friends. But when you walk along that path, you are alone.

One question keeps coming to your mind constantly...is it all worth it?

Friday, March 23, 2012

नूतन वर्षाच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा!


 

हे वर्ष तुम्हाला आनंदाचे आणि सुखाचे जावो!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Waiting For Dinner

Date: February 14, 2012

Day: Tuesday

Time: 8.45 p.m.

Place: Hotel Greenpark

What's the first thing that you see around? That the parking lot is full. So much so that you start wondering if you will ever get a place to sit. And of course, there's no place. There's a huge waiting list.

Knowing that it's the same situation in every other decent restaurant, you resign yourself and enlist yourself for getting a place for two. Now what comes is the big wait. You keep a track on how it will take and end up getting answers such as: "Ma'am, it's page 3 that's going on. You are on page 5. At least 45 mins more."

You deliberate whether sitting out the 45 minutes would be a better option, or finding out another restaurant would be. Eventually you realise that you will spend the same time in some other restaurant. So, why not here.

So, what else do you do in that time but observe things around you. You see so many around you waiting for their turn. You see kids playing around, mammas behind those kids making sure they don't get hurt. You see couples waiting, groups waiting, and waiters waiting too.

Eventually realise that you can divide all the people in some groups. First group is that of the "young" couples. Now let me tell you that "young" doesn't mean by age. "Young" means the couples who have spent very little time together and who are in various degrees of awkwardness and comfort with each other, as well as with the society.

The couples who fall in this category have not had a lot of experience in going out with each other in public. These might be couples who are not sure they are in love, whether they are destined to be together, or whether they really serious enough to think about each other as partners. They may still be doubtful. Nevertheless, they are not averse to trying it out. So, when they are waiting for their turn, they are cautiously looking around to see if they see someone whom they know. They keep on glancing here and there in the hope that they are not caught by some acquaintance, because they probably have not informed their guardians/parents that they are out for dinner with someone. They also are not sure if they should be showing any kind of togetherness to the partner. They are nervous, and they are eagerly waiting for getting a table so that they get the privacy they are looking for.

In this category also lies the "expectant" couple. This couple is on the brink of being committed. They are waiting eagerly for their turn to get the privacy and be done with the magic question. Till they get that table, they are just a bundle of nerves, waiting to be exploded.

The other category is the newly married couples. You can find these easily. They are the ones with the girl looking around nervously, hoping not to find anyone she knows. She is yet uncomfortable being out with the boy. Although happy and looking forward to the privacy of their table, she is not sure if she should be feeling good that they have come out for dinner on a day such as Valentine's Day, or if she should think that celebrating such things are just tacky. She is best waiting for the moment when they can retreat to their world of privacy when they get a table. The boy on the other hand is feeling extremely proud of getting the girl out for dinner on such a lovely day. He is much more at ease with the crowd around him.

Then there are couples who have been there and done that. It's not new for them to go for dinner on such an occasion. But they have still not lost the charm in it. They are very comfortable with each other and enjoying every moment.

You will also find families who have come out for dinner. Mother-father-kid/s, all together. The kids may be young or even a bit older. For the parents, it's an occasion to enjoy some time together, do something different than the routine. Even if eating out might be routine, the charm and magic of the day is still to be celebrated.

Lastly, there would couples, though really very few in numbers, who have come for dinner, just for the sake of it. But they are really very few.

In all this, you'll find the ladies wearing a variety of clothes. The most modern chicks would be wearing the most fashionable dresses. There will be ladies who flaunt by wearing all rich sarees. There are casual dressers, who are more happy to enjoy the moment than worry about clothing. Some would be neatly dressed, who enjoy wearing good clothes without flaunting them. For them, comfort and feel-good are the factors that are most important. It's actually a fashion parade out there.

For guys, mostly, it doesn't matter. They are more worried about the immediate...food, and when they can get a table.

Intermittently, you can also see couples coming out of the diner, looking happy, relaxed, enjoyed, and fully satiated. They are happy that they enjoyed their privacy, their food, and most important, they are happy that they were lucky to get a table so early and not wait so long for their special dinner.

And suddenly, they call your name and you are finally getting a table all to yourself. It's time to turn your attention to more important thing...what to order!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On Watching Agneepath

...the new Agneepath, starring Hrithik Roshan.

It affected me in many different ways. We were around 10-12 minutes late for the movie. We missed the start. But I don't think that mattered much. I have not seen Amitabh Bachchan's movie and so this version was totally new for me.

The first thing that stuck me was the tremendous violence in the movie. It is downright nerve-wracking. I was on the edge of my seat and was not sure I had done the right thing by coming to watch the movie. The movie starts with violence where Vijay's father is murdered by Kancha, the main antagonist. It is an incident that drives the movie. It drives each and every move that Vijay makes. It sets a grim tone to the whole movie. There are almost no light moments; emotional, yes; but lighter moments...I really cannot remember.

Vijay's father, a school master had tried to oppose Kancha's dream of turning the village in a drug center by renting the lands of all villagers. Kancha successfully removes the thorn (Vijay's father) from his way, while the whole village celebrates that they can now freely help Kancha. Kancha lures them that their lands would be used for a salt factory and they would get money out of it. This grim victory is actually the downfall of the villagers. They win the battle of doing away with the schoolmaster and in turn lose the war of having a happy and prosperous village. They literally walk towards their downfall.

When Vijay's father is murdered, his heavily pregnant mother is shown being trampled at the feet of the angry village people. I was hoping that they wouldn't show her bleeding to death, and thank God, they didn't! Eventually, the mother and son escape to the big city and arrive in a basti. The mother goes into labour pains and a daughter is born.

Soon enough, Vijay-a boy of 12 years, witnesses a murder by Rauf Lala, and lies to the police about the murderer. Vijay  also murders the police officer who tries to get him tell the truth. His mother severs all her ties with the son and moves out of his life to lead a life of her own with her daughter. We now see a Vijay that's all grown up handsome and all with a girlfriend, who works as a mafia leader for Rauf Lala. Rauf is not just a drug mafia, but also a human trafficker.

As Hrithik Roshan entered as the older Vijay, I found it very similar to Fiza, a movie directed by Khalid Mohammed. Fiza is the story of how a sister seeks out to find her brother-a troubled boy who goes on to become a terrorist. Vijay in Agneepath too has had a disturbed childhood that has made him a violent mafia leader. I think I made that comparison more because Hrithik Roshan has played the troubled boy in both the movies.

I won't give away the whole story here. But what with songs in between, more murders, mass killings, double dealings, we are finally led to a climax, that's again a replication of what we saw in the beginning.

The once happy and prosperous village that Vijay and Kancha hailed from, has now turned into a barren land. Death, disease, poverty, unhappiness, and distress is what you see and it makes you feel all the more horrified and hollow.

At every violent, illegal, unhealthy event in the film, I was more and more engrossed with feelings of futility, hopelessness, dread, and loss.

What also aided these feelings was the tremendous background music given by Ajay-Atul, the Marathi composers, who have done a fantastic job. The tension, the evilness, the futility, the murderous villains, the dark atmosphere is all enhanced by the background score. It increases your heartbeats, it gives you the chills, it makes you all nervous. Salute to the two.

The duo have also provided the music to the songs in the movie. One particular song affected me in a totally different way. The song is "Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin" and shows how Vijay enjoys his time with his sister and girlfriend together. The lyrics are really nice and the song made me cry. The emotions of Vijay meeting his sister after 15 years, and how he had lived each unhappy day to enjoy this one happy day in his life resonated with me and brought out completely different feelings. I don't know why that happened. But I cried remembering my parents, how sometimes I miss them very much, how they miss me, how we are unable to be with each other in our moments of distress and happiness too. I thought how each day I hope to have them with me and meet them. I cannot describe all that I felt as I cried dearly. It was a very, very distressful moment for me. I miss my parents a lot. A lot.

My life has been so very different since my marriage. The song brought it all out. I was quite disturbed for that evening and night. The violence and this song of the movie have made a major impact on me.

Agneepath has really been a different experience for me. Unforgettable!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Diveagar and Srivardhan

If you want to enjoy the beach, head to Diveagar. The beach is safe, beautiful, and vast. The waters are comparatively cleaner.

Map
Routes to Diveagar

1. Via Tamhini Ghat
This is the commonest and probably shortest route to go to the Kokan area from Pune. From Chandani Chowk, take the road towards Paud, Mulshi, and follow it up to the Tamhini ghat. After crossing the ghat, you have to join the National Highway 17, the Mumbai-Goa Road at Kolad.

2. Via Khopoli-Pali Road
From Pune, you take the Mumbai Expressway. Take the Khopoli exit. From Khopoli, take the Khopoli-Pali road. I don't know much about this route. We did not take this route. With this route, you get out on the NH 17 somewhere near Kolad.

3. Via Khopoli-Pen Road

From Pune, you take the Mumbai Expressway. Take the Khalapur exit (go past the Khopoli exit), and take the Khalapur-Pen road. This is a beautiful drive, though a bit lonely. It's a stretch of 25 kms and takes approximately half an hour. There aren't any shops or garages on this road. So, make sure you have an extra tyre with you, and also get to know how to change a punctured tyre, just in case. This route goes directly in the Pen city right through the market. Cross the town and join the Pen-Alibaug road at the other end of the town. After around 5 kms, take a left at the Wadkhal naka. That's where you join NH 17.

Eventually, all roads lead to NH 17. :)

On NH 17, you will pass all small and large villages and towns. The important towns on the way are Nagothane, Kolad, Indapur, and Mangaon.

To go to Diveagar, you must take a right at Mangaon. Just after crossing the ST stand on the right hand, a small road is seen on the right. It can easily be missed, so keep a watch on it. Interestingly, the road points to only Morba, the next village on that route. But that really is the turn that you need to take to go to Diveagar, Harihareshwar, and further down south.

From the Morba road, you must cross the Morba-Sai ghat. After Sai (a village), comes Mhasla. At Mhasla, you need to take the right turn to go to Diveagar and Srivardhan.

4. From Harihareshwar
Marine Drive: Harihareshwar-Diveagar
If you have visited Harihareshwar first and are coming to Diveagar, the route that you take is through Srivardhan. This road is called the Marine Drive. It's no comparison to Mumbai's Marine Drive. Initially, you might just feel that why the hell is it called Marine Drive. But patience and you are appropriately rewarded. The road at one point goes on to become parallel to the coastline and it definitely deserves to be called Marine Drive.

Srivardhan

Shreemant Balaji Vishwanath Peshwe
Srivardhan has a great historical background. Unfortunately, nothing of this great history is now visible in Srivardhan. It's the birthplace of Shreemant Balaji Vishwanath Peshwe, the Prime Minister of Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj. But what remains now of the house in which he was born is nothing but a statue.

We had hoped for at least some sort of museum or some relics that would help relive history. But nothing at all.

Srivardhan beach
I guess, Srivardhan is now more known because it is a Taluka place. It was bustling with activity even in the afternoon when we reached there. The traffic was pretty heavy and had to be monitored by traffic police.

Again, the beach at Srivardhan is beautiful and quite long. We were there in the afternoon and did not find anyone else on the beach. Perhaps it's busy in the morning and evenings. But, it's better to check with the locals about how safe it is.

We did not stay at Srivardhan. So, I cannot provide much information about the places to stay and eat at Srivardhan. However, I am sure you will be able to find homemade food and rooms that are let for staying.

Diveagar

Diveagar main road
Diveagar has recently, rather, since 1997 suddenly appeared on the tourist map. Earlier, it must have been the same old sleepy coastal town, that not many knew about. In fact, Borli-a town around a kilometer away from Diveagar has been the market center.

What has made Diveagar famous is a golden idol of Lord Ganesha that was found buried in a trunk in a field. The story goes that in 1997, a peasant was digging in a field and he stuck gold. Literally! He found the buried trunk containing the idol of Shree Ganesh. The trunk also contained some ornaments for the idol. Diveagar suddenly warmed up to the blessings of the Lord, and lo behold, it is now a much sought after place!

The gold idol is placed in a Ganesh temple not far from the site it was found. The temple is very much in the center of the town and there's a parking lot just opposite the temple, where all tourist buses are parked.

Diveagar Beach

The beach in Diveagar is beautiful. It is long, calm, and clean. In the evenings, a vehicle is available that aids you para-sailing. I cannot give it a name. You are tied to the para-sailing equipment and a jeep takes you till a certain point, with you are in the sky around 35 feet above the ground. People assist you with the equipment and also help when you touch down. It might be fun. I didn't try it out.

Diveagar beach
In the mornings too, the beach is beautiful. You can take long walks on the beach and enjoy the cool waters. Of course, be it in the morning or evening, do keep a watch on the tides. As always, the high tide waters rise drastically and might be dangerous.

You can have nice coconut water, bhel, kadak chai, or also buy a few toys at a couple of hathgadis available there. You can also enjoy a water ride in the boats available. Do make sure that they provide you with life jackets before you go for the ride.

Where to eat at Diveagar?

Two places really...Bapat Khanawal and Paarkar Khanawal.

For vegetarians, you just cannot miss Bapat Khanawal. The food is awesome. And the most important part is that you get to have modaks that you just cannot miss.

To go to Bapat Khanawal, you have to cross the Ganesh temple, and keep going straight ahead. The lane is full of Bapats. There you will see a small board explaining that the Bapat Khanawal is the 5th gate on the right. It's damn easy to miss the gate. So, better count them correctly! Because, if you miss that, you are going to miss an awesome food offering.

Mind you, you need to tell at the Bapat Khanawal in advance before you go for lunch or dinner. You cannot just barge in and sit down to eat. Also, when you are asked to come before a certain time, do make sure you go before that time. The Bapat Khanawal can take only around 100-150 people to eat at a time and you should not miss it. They close down at the decided time. Don't miss the right time.

If you want to have modaks, you must also place an order for that. Place an order of how many per head you will have. They make it in that much quantity and you cannot have more than that. But, seriously, do NOT miss the modaks.

For non-vegetarians, Paarkar Khanawal is the best place we thought. Awesome fish you get there. Pompfret, surmai, chicken is all available there. At Paarkar Khanawal too, if you are going in a large group, it's better to inform them in advance. Otherwise, it really gets crowded and there's a big waiting list then. Vegetarian thali is also available here. So, for groups that have people who are vegetarians and non-vegetarians, this is a really good place.

All in all, other than eating and visiting the beach, there's not much to do in Diveagar. So, relaxing is best done here.

Staying at Diveagar

Innumerable bed-and-breakfast places are available. You should find a place to stay easily. However, if you are going for a weekend that is kind of a long weekend, it is better to book rooms before you go. After noon on a weekend, you might find it difficult to find a place.

Tips for Visiting Diveagar
  • Keep first aid, sunscreen lotion, caps, old newspapers handy. All these are useful at times.
  • Keep a torch handy as night falls.
  • Depending on how much time you want to spend on the beach, a day and half is more than enough for Diveagar.

Happy vacation!