Of bloggers met, almost met and not met …

There I was minding my business in the blogging world. Writing posts regularly, replying to comments received on my posts, visiting other blogs, commenting on the ones I liked, promoting my posts on twitter, FB and whatnot. Mulling over site stats, etc. All waz well in my little blogging world.

Then one day, this self-made equilibrium in my blogging world shifted. I left a comment on a discussion thread in a blog forum. And got a response from a blogger I had been secretly admiring from afar. I responded. To which I got another response. And so on and so forth. Soon I de-lurked on her  blog and, I guess, she on mine. We started exchanging the occasional mail. One day, this blogger wrote to me saying that it would be nice to meet up and asked me if there was a chance of my visiting her part of the world. And as coincidence would have it I was due to visit her part of the world in October 2011. I said yes, and we fixed a mutually convenient date to meet up.

But then apprehension set in. Did I really want to meet a fellow blogger offline? Weren’t bloggers supposed to interact only online? And so on and so forth. I had second thoughts, third thoughts, and then some more thoughts as well. But then, curiosity to meet this particular blogger prevailed and if you had been around Dilli Haat in New Delhi on 13 October 2011 around 11.30 am, you might have seen me waiting for this blogger.

I was excited and nervous at the same time, and wondering how on earth I would recognise her as I had no clue as to what she looked like. Even though I was familiar with her rather distinctive Gravatar of a belan-wielding woman, I doubted if she would actually come to meet me with one. :-D Yes, I was meeting Zephyr, a.k.a. The Cyber Nag.

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Snow in May: Memories of an Alpine rail journey

A great white expanse of pristine, white snow greets me as I step off the train. Snow in May? My used-to-Mumbai’s-muggy-weather-in-May mind wonders if I am dreaming or hallucinating or both. I bend down and touch the snow and rub a little onto my face. It is   snow and I am not dreaming or hallucinating.

And I am not in Mumbai, I am in Switzerland. :-)

Snow in May !

From as far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to experience the Alps via a rail journey. My wish came true on 13th May 2009, when I made a day trip from Geneva to Kleine Scheidegg in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. I love train travel, and this was one of the most scenic journeys I have ever undertaken. The clean and fresh mountain air was invigorating as was the super efficient and punctual train journey.  It was a trip that took me 5 hours one way with train changes at Bern, Interlaken Ost and Lauterbrunnen / Grindelwald, and a trip that I am going to take you on here.

So hop on abroad the train with me at Interlaken Ost and leave behind the muggy, sticky hot Indian summer behind to journey to the cool climes of Switzerland. :-)

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Museum Treasure: The golden throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

The Victoria and Albert Museum (or the V&A) in London has a fantastic collection of artifacts from India, that includes textiles, jewellery, paintings, weapons, etc. While many of these have been purchased by the V&A, some of the exhibits have been acquired during annexation of the princely states of pre-independent India by the British. One such exhibit is the Golden Throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which was acquired as State property in 1849 on the annexation of Punjab.

The golden throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

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My “now” song: Baabul moraa naihar chhooto hi jaaye

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music—it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’”song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

My now song is the immortal melody in Raga Bhairavi, “Baabul mora naihar chhooto hi jaye”. A popular song in Hindi films, mehfils and among thumri singers, many renderings are available to listen too. Some of the more popular ones are by Jagjit and Chitra Singh, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi and K.L. Saigal. And it was Saigal’s version which really made this song popular.

But the version I like and am sharing with you here is sung by Alisha Chinai to the accompaniment of L. Subramaniam’s violin.

I like this version for the jugalbandi of Alisha’s haunting melody, so unlike her other (better known) popular numbers, and for L. Subramaniam’s violin, with both artistes reinforcing and complementing one another, as well as the sombre mood of the song.

This lament was written by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, Nawab of Awadh when he was exiled from Lucknow by the British Raj after the failed Revolt of 1857. In this song, the Nawab uses bidaai (bride’s farewell) from her babul (natal home) as a metaphor for his own banishment from his beloved Lucknow, to far away Calcutta, while he spent the rest of his life.

Do listen to the version I have given here and also the versions by other artistes (you can listen to their version by clicking on their names). Which one did you like?