Monthly Archives: May 2017

Our Neem tree

One of the trees native to the Indian Subcontinent, the Neem tree is used for its anti-infective and insect-repelling properties, apart from a variety of medicinal and herbal uses. The dried leaves are used to protect silks and woollen clothes, the flowers and tender shoots are eaten by some, the oil, the bark, the wood are all put to use for various reasons. The twigs are used to chew on, as they are said to improve oral hygiene and strengthen the gums and teeth. The extract is used in caring for the skin!!! Our tree is 22 years old and has given shelter to several birds and squirrels. 

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Green beauty—- Dragonfly Slayer

The Green bee eaters in our garden eat everything …except bees!!! They make a display of swooping down on a dragonfly a quarter of their size and devour it with patience…..I guess the poor bees-t dies of exhaustion and boredom…….here is one such display….

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Prince of the Pond….Lotus and lilies

In a small village in Tamil Nadu, India, there was an enchanted lotus pond. It was always full of the most beautiful lotus flowers. The flowers were of a colour that had shades of pink, but when you looked closely enough, you could visualize a rainbow in it. There were a few water lilies too. The pond was by the side of a large tamarind tree. Once an elderly woman was passing by in her air-conditioned vehicle to go to an ‘important’ place. She happened to look at the pond and asked the driver to stop. Before she could be warned about the dangers of going into uncharted waters alone, she was at the steps leading down to the pond, taking pictures of the lotus and lilies like one possessed. There was not a soul in sight. She repeated the adventure the next morning, this time there was someone swimming in ‘her’ pond!!!! Before she could protest, the young man swam towards her and scooped up an armful of the most beautiful and precious lotus flowers and lilies and handed them to her, telling her it was a gift……..Yes, miracles and wonderful people exist in this world……a person who can make another smile has succeeded in the mission of life…..not too far away, there were a lot of prosperous people ‘meditating’ and enforcing ‘restricted entry’ into their premises, where appointments were sought,and too much time spent in the pursuit of that achieved by the ‘less privileged’ villagers close to them……..DSC04402 DSC04399 DSC04389 DSC04247 DSC04406 DSC04408

Try not to flock to places where enlightenment is being talked about….it is being practiced by some who do not preach about it………..

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Edge of the world….Saudi Arabia

Who doesn’t want to go right up to the edge of the world ??? About a 100 km northwest of Riyadh is an area which is one of the rare places called ‘The edge of the world.’ It is over the Acacia valley, a part of the Tuwaiq Escarpment. It is possible to trek up from the valley here or simply take a vehicle right up to the edge. 


The valley before you reach the summit.


The breeze is powerful and refreshingly unpolluted.


This it it….the edge of the world…….

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There are cracks in the cliffs, be careful you don’t fall over the edge of the edge of the world 🙂

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I wanted to take the large rocks with the fossils of prehistoric water animals embedded in them…..

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Lost…………there was definitely water here, the smoothness of the rocks is due to water that has since dried up….

IMG_0071 IMG_0077 well, hello there, I can see you, do you think you are hiding????

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Careful, it’s a long way down….

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Before you go up to the Edge, there is an area in the valley, where campers and families can have a picnic. This area has many trees and was possibly a large water body eons ago. One can find several fossils of sea animals embedded in the stones of what is now the floor of the valley. Camels can be spotted, as can the tents of people who stay the weekend here. As far as the eye can see, there are miles of never ending sand cliffs which look out over…………nothing………..the edge of the world we know is here. There are plains below which stop and give way to nothing, a vast open and empty space. An ideal place for meditation/ solitude/ peace ???? You decide. Be careful when you try to get pics while balancing on the precipice like rocks….they can crumble away beneath your feet. Enjoy the sunset and sunrise and make sure you take plenty of food, water, your GPS, good friends and a camera or two to capture this barren but hauntingly beautiful landscape. 

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Biggest, Highest Ice rink in the world…Medeu, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty has many amazing sights to offer, a significant attraction of Almaty is the Medeu skating Ice Rink and Ski resort. At 1,691 metres above sea level, it is the highest skating rink in the world. The Medeu Dam is located south of it, which protects the city and the rink from land slides/ ice or mud flow. Almaty will host the 2017 Winter Universiade, and Medeo will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies, speed skating and the new demonstration sport bandy. There is a beautiful Alpine Ski resort above the rink, a part of the Shymbulak / Chimbulak resort, at 2,200 metres above sea level. 


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Enjoy the scenic route to the resort…the view of the Rink, skate if you can, enjoy skiing at the Shymbaluk…..the washrooms are clean and centrally heated..perfect, don’t forget to click pictures 🙂

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Move over Middle East..Kazhakstan has the best belly dance

We have all probably seen belly dancing..somewhere, sometime, with someone…..I have seen the dancers in several nations sitting in men’s laps, nuzzling their heads in their bosoms and touching them provocatively for tips. It ceases to be an art form when that happens….I was surprised to find out that we were going to watch a belly dance along with other dinner entertainment which included a live band, traditional folk dances and a wonderful costume display, The women sat a little apprehensively and the men either pretended to be really interested in reading the menu or leaping up from their seats, cameras in hand. Amid the music, the belly dancers seemed to glide in. They danced, slowly, then the tempo picked up to an energetic pace, and again slowed down to sinuous, graceful movements. They did not look vulgar though they were scantily clad. Either all of them had perfect bodies….or a gifted plastic surgeon..either way, it was a treat to watch. When the time for the tips came, they swirled around with a bowl in hand…..anyone who wanted to, dropped cash in it. They did not pester or act vulgar or coerce people into giving them money. This is the first time I enjoyed a belly dance……..see it to believe it. Men show their true personality when a belly dancer is near them……

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Mint–easy to grow, full of flavor

IMG_4795Mint can be grown in almost any climate, throughout the year. The plant can be grown in a pot. For years, it has occupied a patch in our vegetable garden and makes food and drink more exciting and nutritious…and fragrant. It is especially good for summers as lemonade and chutneys with mint act as natural coolants. The plant is always green, the leaves and stems regrow after plucking. 


There are so many recipes for mint… can add it to anything… is best eaten fresh, just pluck a few leaves and use them after washing…..even the butterflies flock to this plant…you can see one in the pictures above. Don’t forget to use it as a mouth freshener as well 🙂 

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Krimchi temples….protected monuments of 8th/ 9th century, Jammu and Kashmir

The Krimchi temples are located merely 9 kms off the Jammu-Udhampur highway, yet are not a popular site to visit as the last 1km of the distance has to be covered on foot. Despite having been declared as a’protected monument’ by the  Archaeological Society of India, they are neglected …hidden from sight. They are a group of 7 temples, believed to have been constructed around the 8-9th century. The boards displayed at the entrance do provide some information about the many stone temples around. They are beautiful, imposing, made largely of stone, with a unique architecture. Maybe it is a blessing that they are away from throngs of tourists, as one can appreciate the building style and explore the many structures at leisure and in complete silence. The walk is interesting, there are hills all around, a winding, slightly uphill path lined by trees and shrubs leads to the temples. If you want to sample a bit of real Indian history, without any hawkers, guides or noisy crowds,this is the place for you. DSC_0556 - Copy - Copy DSC_0558 - Copy - Copy DSC_0575 - Copy - Copy DSC_0597 - Copy - Copy DSC_0600 - Copy - Copy DSC_0602 - Copy - Copy DSC_0603 - Copy - Copy DSC_0604 - Copy - Copy DSC_0605 - Copy - Copy DSC_0607 - Copy - Copy DSC_0608 - Copy DSC_0610 - Copy DSC_0613 - Copy DSC_0609 - Copy DSC_0616 - Copy DSC_0617 - Copy DSC_0618 - Copy DSC_0619 - Copy DSC_0620 - Copy DSC_0621 - Copy DSC_0623 - Copy DSC_0625 - Copy DSC_0628 - Copy DSC_0636 - Copy DSC_0640 - Copy DSC_0648 - Copy DSC_0651 - Copy DSC_0653 - Copy DSC_0654 - Copy DSC_0658 - Copy DSC_0660 - Copy DSC_0662 - Copy DSC_0669 DSC_0670 DSC_0690 DSC_0709 DSC_0692 DSC_0696 DSC_0701

Need some quiet family time ? head there……………….admire the work of people who did not have architectural degrees or digital 3-D models to help them…yet these temples managed to survive through centuries.


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Hauz Khas Complex, Delhi…the union of art, culture and history

Hauz Khas means ‘royal tank’ in Urdu. It refers to a large reservoir of water or lake, surrounded by the ruins of a tomb and a mosque, from the time of the Khilji dynasty. Built centuries ago, it now serves as a place for couples to meet, groups to practice their dance and song routine, musicians to play their compositions and joggers / walkers to exercise. The thick weathered walls bear a silent testimony to the drama they witness. If you want to find out more, please read the pictures of the informative boards given below:


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 Surrounding it are beautiful, meandering, narrow lanes which offer merchandise for those who crave the quaint/ quirky/ unique/ stylish/ sophisticated,be it art/ clothing/ jewelry or curios of all kinds. After walking through the streets and going around the lake, you might want to sit down and enjoy the ambiance of numerous eateries. The streets are full of an energy and vibrancy which comes from the multilingual and multinational crowd there. There is a wide variety of cuisine, choose a rooftop restaurant, most of them have elevators that transport you in a jiffy from the ancient to the new age.






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If you are the kind that has a celebrity crush, it might be your lucky day 🙂





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When the baby bird flies away….

Why do people call it the Empty Nest syndrome??? If being in the family was fun, the bird will fly back when he can….I call it the Excellent Nest……The Nest always has a place for the bird that flies away…….It’s not sad or Empty…it’s a nest that rejoices at his growth….

  • Excellent nest…because the bird was good enough to get admission in a great place, there is rejoicing in the nest, as he has left to pursue his dream.
  • The Fallback Nest….when something goes wrong…..the parents are The Ghost-busters….remember….who you gonna call?? GB!
  • The ATM machine nest….so that he knows the value of money and uses it well….never saving on books or food or rent( unless circumstances or parents need them to do that). 
  •  The Emergency Nest….facetime, skype, msgs….anything, anytime…24/7 availability.
  • The Unconditional Zone… conditions for the love…and tough love from the nest!!
  • The Secrecy Circle….everything that is told in confidence is kept a secret.
  • The Lecture Nest….of course!!! Duty demands it….:)
  • The Confidence Booster Nest…..that time when they need someone to tell them how strong and gifted and wonderful they are…..
  • The Help line, the love line, the support line, the life line…till he finds someone to do all that………..which is a welcome change as well, if he so desires…of course, the parent radar will work overtime!!

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