Dispossessed

“The matter-of-fact manner in which she says it unsettles me more than the gravity of her statement. I can’t imagine a government dispossessing me of my land, and then paying me a fee to clean it. I find the very thought absurd.”

This above is an extract from my latest article published on Matador Network. This piece based on a conversation I had with an Aborigine lady. It is sad to note that a lot of native people have lost their lands and culture thanks to the attempts at civilizations by aliens in their land.

 

Do read the whole story here.

 

Categories: Australia | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Khajuraho :- A lesson on how sex was once never a taboo

Khajuraho , a small town out of the way from all major cities in India has an airport. It’ s claim to fame ?  – The depictions of the kamasutra poses along its temples’ facade.  Enough said. Now lets take a step back and start at the beginning.

While it is known for a fact that the temples were built originally by the Chandela dynasty and later  by the Bundelas, the exact reason for the carving are not known for sure.   Some say the carvings are to appease the god of lightning. I like to believe the version narrated by our guide.

In the 10th century AD the northern portion of the country was ravaged by invaders from the far east. The constant fighting meant that there was a need for the steady supply of soldiers to the front. Young men were recruited, trained and marched off to the front line.  This meant that young maidens waited for  years for their lovers to come home, their biological clocks ticking; some even waiting in vain.  To add to this, the era also saw a strong promotion of Buddhism. Young men traded the sword for  the vow of celibacy and shed all cares of the world to lead a life of ahimsa and enlightenment.

 

The temples of Khajuraho was the answer to the dwindling population of the Chandela kingdoms. Through out the temples ( which once number 85  in total)  a common theme resonates – sex of many forms and women of many shapes.  The carvings were to educate and enthuse young men and women on the importance and pleasures of sexual acts.

Even the most progressive and free spirited society of today will blush at the almost life like depictions of an act now considered taboo to speak out about. With the  all eroticism around it is easy to forget about the level of skill.  The artists paid attention to every detail. In the following pictures notice how every muscle and vein of the body stands out.

 

 

Not a single detail left out

Not a single detail left out

 

The older temples have two panels of educative ( read erotic) panels, depicting various poses for normal and  also group sex ( progressive). In the later temples the number of panels increased to three and also the women were depicted sexier with slimmer bodies and longer legs.

 

 

Three panels of erotic carvings

Three panels of erotic carvings

 

A closer view of the sculptures in the panel.

 

 

A group sex sculpture

A group sex sculpture

 

Not all the panels are of erotic in nature. The lower panels of the temple depict every day scenes, movement of the army since the Chandelas were also fighting/defending their territory.

 

A teacher taking class

A teacher taking class

 

 

 

It also had some disturbing teachings.  Men on the war front were encouraged to do it with horses! (Yikes! ).

 

Now that I am not so sure!

Now that I am not so sure!

 

This is one of my favorite. It depicts a woman having a bath, her wet sari gathered around her waist. Notice that she has moved her chain to the back. All this is done on a single stone.

 

The lady with her sari gathered around her waist! What skill!

The lady with her sari gathered around her waist! What skill!

 

 

Disregarding all the eroticism the work at Khajuraho speaks of a time long past which would bring even the most avant garde society of ours to an awkward pause!

 

Categories: Asia, Heritage, India | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kuthira Malika

Little is known of the palace of the kings of the kingdom of Travancore , the Kuthira Malika. It remains shadowed by the fame and fortune of its own creation, the Padmanabhaswany Temple.

 

Kuthira Mailka gets it name from the 120 wooden horses carved buttress. For every room opened to the public another 10 remained locked, slowly succumbing to the abandonment.

 

The wooden horses that hold the roof

The wooden horses that hold the roof

The exterior architecture is the traditional Kerala style with intricate carvings. However the interiors have been influenced by different elements. There is a discussion room which took 80 artisans from Tanjore close to a year to finish. The end results is a ceiling adorned with woodwork beyond compare.

On display are gifts the Kings received from counterparts from different parts of the world. An ivory throne made from the tusks of 25 elephants, ivory cradles and shields from rhinocerous skin boasts of a time of plenty.

 

Traditional Kerala architecture

Traditional Kerala architecture

 

Carvings

Carvings

 

Parots

Parots

 

Sigh

Sigh

 

The symbol of the Travancore kings

The symbol of the Travancore kings

The Padmanabhaswamy temple was built next to the palace for the royal family to worship. The patron is Lord Vishnu. The sanctum sanctorum has an idol of Lord Vishnu reclining on a snake. The present city gets its name from this manifestation of Vishnu. Thiru – meaning Holy, Anantha – one who sleeps on the snake , Puram- Place. It translates to the place where he recline on the snake or Thiruvanthapuram. Along came the British and we have today’s shorter version of that – Trivandrum.

A couple of years back vast amounts of gold were discovered in  the temple vaults.  It is thought to be the offering the Travancore Kings made to the temple patron. The exact amount of gold has not been determined. Nevertheless if the rumors are to be believed there is emough gold in there to pay off the world’s debt.

Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple

Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple

 

Young devotees at the temple

Young devotees at the temple

 

Faces from paintings peeping out of the windows

Faces from paintings peeping out of the windows

Categories: Everything Else | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Never a time better than NOW

Today  I came across this quote

” It makes sense to travel now than saving travel for a future that is in no way guaranteed”.

 

I know it has been a while since I last posted. Trust me I have a lot of stories waiting to be told!  This quote is in weirdly appropriate for me. You see I never save travel for a later time but all other things( read writing and updating this blog) I always keep for a tomorrow that never seems to come.

 

So get off your cosy comfortable chair today. Go see the world!  In case circumstances do not allow you to do so, then drop by for a visit weekly and see the world through my eyes. And remember …

Never a better time than Now!

 

 

Categories: Everything Else | Leave a comment

Right bus, wrong way

I have always believed that a smile can overcome any language barriers. This I realized wasn’t necessarily true while boarding a red mini bus outside the Yau Tong MTR Station in Hong Kong. The driver, an elderly balding man whose eyes seemed half closed most of the time seemed to be having a pretty long one-sided conversation with me. I figured that the questions ended just when he took a short breath followed by a high note and an immediate prolonged note of a lower pitch. I smiled through the pauses while the driver waited for my answer. Finally he threw his arms in the air and took the conversation to the rest of the bus.

There was complete silence. Everyone was focused on our conversation.

 “Ticket, you take ticket” said a young lady sitting in the front seat.

“Oh yes!” Of course that must have been it.

The driver stared at the 10 dollars I handed him,shook his head and turned to the young lady who promptly on cue asked

“Where you go?”

 ‘Lei Yue Mun’ I said, proud that I had pronounced it  right.

The lady looked confused. She conversed with the driver then turned to me and said

“..is last stop”.

He  grabbed my money, returned a handful of change and started the bus. The jerk of the engine threw me off-balance and the little coins dropped to the ground and rolled all over the bus. The driver shook his head from side to side,put the bus in gear and pulled out of the stop.

I contemplated picking up  the coins, then changed my mind and instead  found a seat right at the end of the bus.

During the  up hill and down hill ride the coins rolled over the bus. A few people picked up the coins and passed them around. It was my money really but I was not complaining about a little change;honestly I didn’t want to make another scene :- on my fours picking up coins between people’s legs. I think I have had enough drama for one day.

In about 20 minutes we  reached a residential zone where the stops became more frequent and  people started getting down. Finally there was only an elderly couple in the front  and me at the back.

The bus made another stop near an apartment complex. The driver switched off the engine, leaned out the window and started a conversation with a  group of men standing about.

The elderly couple got up to leave. The woman gathered their bags and slowly walked to the door while the man turned looked at me and motioned me to come to him.

That made me a little nervous but I still walked over to him. Without a smile he handed me a small polythene bag and followed his wife out of the bus.Inside the bag was a bunch of coins. The passengers were picking up the coins for me.

Before I could get that warm and fuzzy feeling the driver of the bus spotted me and squealed in frustration.  Talking to himself  he threw his hands in the air and exited the bus.

I looked out of the window. All I could see were apartment buildings.  This could not be the last stop. It has to be a fishing village. There was no sign of the sea anywhere.

I sat alone in the bus for 10 minutes. I was too embarrassed and scared all at once to get out and find a fishing village. This was the first time in my life  I was out on my own. I had set out that morning to explore  the fishing village of Lei Yue Mun  famous for its seafood bazaars. Cowering at the back of a bus in god knows where was not part of the itinerary.

Luckily for me the old balding bus driver  was soon  replaced by a younger guy who  knew a little English.

” You want to go to ‘Lei Yue Mun’? But it is the other way!”

So I made the journey again, this time in the right direction all the time tightly clutching the polythene bag with the coins.  The young driver refused to take money for the return trip saying “Right bus,wrong way”.

Later in the day I would count the coins in  the comfort of my hotel room to realize that the coins added up to a little more than 11 dollars !

 

Categories: Asia | Tags: | 1 Comment

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