A morning at Marina Beach

The Guest Post Series onMy Favourite Thingshas contributions by those sharing my interests in travel, books, music, and on issues that I am passionate about. Though the guest posts are not always by fellow bloggers, the guest authors are always those who have interesting experiences to share.

Today’s guest post is by a fellow blogger, Puru of Shadows Galore, who writes about his travels, photographs, memories and more. I eagerly wait for Puru’s travel posts as he is always visiting and writing about places that I have wanted to visit. My favourites are his posts on Sri Lanka and Angkor Wat. His series on Learning Photography is simple, easy and with instructions that actually work. In this post, Puru presents a photo essay on a morning spent at the Marina Beach in Chennai.

My last few days in Chennai saw me exploring the city and going to places where I had always thought of going but never actually did. So today I went to Marina Beach, the third longest beach in the world and the largest in Asia. Of all the beaches in Chennai, it happens to be the most dynamic and hence the most well known.

So early at 4:30 AM, I woke up and started for the beach with my camera. It was quite dark yet and the horizon had just started turning a few shades lighter. As the sun rose, I took a lot of photographs and I am sharing some of them here for you:

A crow signals the day break

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Travel Shot: The wandering pianist

The candidness of street photography is something that I admire and appreciate. But it is also something that I feel inhibited to try it out myself as I feel very self-conscious about taking such candid shots. That is perhaps one of the reasons why you will rarely find people in my photographs.

But sometimes, people photo-ops are so compelling that my camera is out and the picture taken in no time. Like this wandering pianist I came across in London.

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The roses at Regent’s Park

Work-wise, mid-March to mid-May is a little crazy for me—my department works on all days without a break during this period. Though my colleagues and I (and our families) are used to the punishing work schedule, it does get a little stressful at times. And that’s the cue to take a break, even if it is for a short while. We have our different ways of de-stressing. I do it by taking a little walk, talking to a friend on the phone, reading something funny, going through my digital photograph collection …

Earlier today, when work and deadlines loomed and threatened to overwhelm me, I decided to take a break by taking a walk. A virtual walk. A virtual walk in Regent’s Park, London—one of my favourite places in the world. Regent’s Park is one of the Royal Parks in London and has over 100 acres for outdoor sports activities. Located in Central London, the Regent’s Park is over 400 acres in size and includes the world-famous Queen Mary’s Gardens. The official website claims that the Gardens have 400 varieties of roses, as well as a collection of delphiniums and begonias.

During my year in London (2008-2009), it was a place that I walked in, relaxed in, picnicked in … It was a place that gave me refuge when studies or homesickness overwhelmed me. It was, in many ways, my own personal space in spite of being a public park, something that wasn’t too difficult considering I lived opposite the Park ! I have such a connection with the Park, that even thousands of miles away in Mumbai, it is not too difficult to do a virtual walk whenever I feel like, especially when I have photographs of Regent’s Park. One of my favourite sets of photos is of of the roses at the Queen Mary’s Gardens :-)

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Mumbai Lens: The zodiac window

This blog post was featured in the “Around the Blog” section of the DNA newspaper published on May 7, 2012 (pg.6).

That Mumbai has many hidden treasures is something that is underscored now and then when I experience or unearth something interesting about this city. But Mumbai still manages to surprise me with the sheer variety. For example, when I attended an exhibition at Mumbai University’s Cowasjee Jehangir Convocation Hall at its Fort Campus earlier this year, it was not just the exhibits that caught my eye.

This was my first (and so far only) time that I have visited the Convocation Hall, whose grand interiors are stunning, with elaborate detailing, stained glass windows, teak wooden seats, exquisite grill work, etc. But the the large stained glass window over the entrance to the Hall is probably the grandest and most stunning feature of them all.

The Zodiac Window at the Cowasjee Jahangir Convocation Hall of the University of Mumbai

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Let’s have some humour, please

The Guest Post Series onMy Favourite Thingshas contributions by those sharing my interests in travel, books, music, and on issues that I am passionate about. These posts are not always by fellow bloggers, and the guest authors are always those who have interesting experiences to share.

Today’s guest post is by Srinayan, the infrequent blogger of The Random Walkaround. An engineer by profession, he took up blogging a little over a year ago and writes on many topics, but always with sensitive insight and understated humour. Srinayan, however, prefers to be known as a lethargic blogger who is long on intent, but somehow falls short on delivery. That is probably why I have given up on waiting for an original guest post from him and, instead, am re-posting one of his old posts. A post that I liked very much, and a post that is quite relevant for our times.

We are living in a terrible world and doomsday is just around the corner; or so we are led to believe by television, newspapers, the internet and all other oracles of wisdom. Nothing seems to going to right for humanity—Greece, the Euro crisis, Wall Street, US debt, climate change, rogue states, etc. Closer home we have inflation, falling stock markets, the Lokpal Bill, 2G and scams of every kind and size. The list is ever growing; you only have to add your pet angst to it.

Whatever happened to that wonderful therapeutic called humour? I don’t mean the stand up comic type which is in vogue today; rather, the sly poke in the ribs that reminds us that, even if all is not well with the world, we are doing fine and having a good laugh about it.

Welcome to The Little World of Don Camillo.

In the context of its time, post-World War II Europe was just as insecure and dangerous as the world is today. While the common folk grappled with economic hardship, their political leadership was preoccupied with ideological realignments or preventing them. As a farcical consequence, depending on your leanings, all problems owed their roots to communism or opposition to it. Black couldn’t get blacker and white, whiter.

The absurdity of the situation was too much for an Italian called Giovanni Guareschi. He reacted by creating two characters, a priest named Don Camillo and his communist adversary, Peppone, in a village in the Po river valley in Northern Italy. The battle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was truly joined and the several comic confrontation between the two reflected the pointlessness of the discourse of the time.

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Museum Treasure: The 3 Saraswatis

The Padmanabhapuram Palace Complex, which is situated about 50 km from Thiruvananthapuram, has a heritage museum with exhibits that range from household articles to coins to sculptures and paintings to object d’ arts. The museum is located in the 400-year-old Thekee Kottaram (or Southern palace).

I visited the Padmanabhapuram Palace Complex in November 1998 and spent a very happy afternoon exploring it and pottering among the museum exhibits. This collection of 3 Saraswati figurines at the museum caught my eye.

About 12″ in height, these exquisitely carved wooden sculptures stood out for their craftsmanship. As I gazed into the calm and serene features of the figurines, I couldn’t help wondering as to why one rarely comes across Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of learning, knowledge and wisdom. There are hardly any temples dedicated to Saraswati and even in art she is not a favourite subject for painters and sculptors alike.

Is it because we know that learning, knowledge and wisdom do not really come easy and even the Goddess cannot help if one is not willing to work hard for it? Or is it because material benefits are preferred over the intellect?

The Museum Treasure Series is all about artifacts found in museums with an interesting history and story attached to them. You can read more from this series here.