Lonely places, lyrical prose

The Guest Post Series onMy Favourite Thingshas contributions by those sharing my interests in travel, books, photography, 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 author is Zephyr of The Cyber Nag, who writes about “social issues, family and kids” with dollops of humour, gentle sarcasm, and subtle nagging for our conscience without sounding patronising or condescending. In my opinion, her writing can only be classified in one category, “Excellent”. In today’s post, Zephyr moves away from the topics that she usually writes on and talks about Pico Iyer’s Falling of the Map and how, in spite of not being a fan of this genre, slowly fell in love with this book.

I heard about Pico Iyer and his highly acclaimed Video nights in Kathmandu, about a quarter century ago. But somehow, the title didn’t appeal to me. Don’t ask me why. And so Iyer remained a quaint name in the far recesses of my mind for some years.

Falling off the mapThen came his Falling off the map ( first published in the US by Alfred Knopf in 1993). This one sounded intriguing. My fertile imagination made me visuaIise the countries mentioned in the book jostling for space to stay on the map, but kept being pushed out by the other and better known countries. Sometimes these countries fought with the lonely ones, making them sadder and lonelier! But the book remained right there – in my imagination because back then I couldn’t afford to buy new books and most of my purchases were restricted to second-hand bookshops. Alas, for Falling… to come to that sales outlet, I would have to wait a long, long while.

Besides, travel books as a genre, did not hold much appeal for me. I liked James Michener’s Hawaii, but it was more a historical novel than a travel book. Till one day I picked up a small volume of Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. It was such a delightful read and made me laugh so much that I got hooked – not to travel books, but to Bryson. And Pico Iyer remained a distant name, just like the countries he had written about in that book.

It took a session of #TSBC on travel books to remind me of that long forgotten name and his book and I promptly bought Falling off the Map (2004, Penguin Books India, pp.190, Price: 250/-) from Flipkart.

Continue reading

The Roman theatre in Verulamium: My second guest post

About a month back, I wrote a piece titled “Discovering Roman Britain“. It was meant to be a guest post for Shadows Galore. But…

I had a certain idea of what I wanted the post to turn out like, but like many of my posts, it had a mind of its own and turned into a rambling post rather than the focused one that I wanted it to be. So, I rewrote it and tweaked it and edited it. After all this effort, it did read better. A teeny-weeny bit better, but not enough to pass muster (in my eyes) for a guest post . So after much deliberation, I posted it on my own blog.

And immediately got down to working on another idea for the guest post. And that’s how I wrote about the ruins of The Roman Theatre in Verulamium. It is a post that thankfully did turn out almost the way I wanted it to be that is, more focussed and less rambling than the earlier one. And before I got into another cycle of editing and re-writing, I sent it off to Puru of Shadows Galore, who liked it enough (I guess :-) ) to publish it almost immediately.

Click on the screenshot below to read this post. You will let me know about what you think of this post won’t you?

Picture1Puru, thank you so much for hosting me on Shadows Galore. :-)

Portrait of an artists’ community: The Dhrupad Gurukul

The Guest Post Series on “My Favourite Things” has 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 authors are always those who have interesting experiences to share.

Today’s guest post is by Ajinkya, who writes about the challenges that the guru shishya parampara faces in contemporary times. He is a student of Dhrupad and learns at the Dhrupad Gurukul in Palaspe, Panvel. The Gurukul is run by the legendary vocalist, Ustad Zia Farid-uddin Dagar, and his illustrious rudra veena playing nephew, Bahauddin Dagar.

“Alap entails the search to get the most perfect pitch of every note….”
                                                               –  Ustad Zia Farid-uddin Dagar

It is 4:30 am.

The trucks low through the thick of an outskirt town’s sleepy oblivion. Somewhere, a chai wallah starts to wash his vessels and the clank of his kettle dissolves noiselessly into the tired rattle of bus tires and bumpers coughing though the dusty highway. Hidden away on the side of the road is a small cluster of houses lost somewhere in the limbo between Bombay cityscream and the undisturbed solace of Palaspe village. A tramp wraps his newspaper a little more tightly around his skeletal frame and huddles into a ball. Mosquitoes circle his body like vultures hankering for a dying man’s last sigh. The dim darklight of a morning taking angdai falls lazily on a dilapidated board saying “Dhrupad Gurukul”.

The D hangs half lit like a symptom of an era. The same old debates circling around the romance of a lost time and the preservation of an art come to one’s mind. Scratching away at the surface of recycled intellectual trash these irrelevant speculations are quickly forgotten as one approaches the gurukul.

Continue reading

Rights vs. Rights: My first guest post

Zephyr is one blogger that I admire tremendously, I have never come away from her blog without getting some insight into an issue, a topic and even myself. So when she asked me to write a guest post for her, I was flattered. So flattered that I said yes. And then when I realised what I had said yes to, I panicked. How could I write as well as her? What could I write? Then the nail chewing began. Then excuses about a heavy workload were conveyed. Then request for additional time to write the post was submitted. 

Now, Zephyr is not known as the Cybernag without reason. She has perfected the art of nagging and after a month or so of gentle nagging, I was finally able to say yes again and not panic. I worked on a draft of a topic that I thought would be suitable for Zephyr’s blog and sent it off to her yesterday with a request for her to proofread (I am a very bad proofreader of my work) the article and for feedback. 

The positive feedback was conveyed yesterday evening and I am very excited now. The post, titled “Whose Right is it anyway” was published a short while back and suddenly I am a guest author ! Click on the screenshot below to read the full post.

Thank you so much Zephyr for publishing my post and for your … er… nagging :-D