Friday, December 03, 2010

A visit to Senso-ji shrine

A post long delayed. And this is a kind of a long post so bear with the photographs :)

I was going to Asakusa to buy tickets to go to Nikko and ended up spending a hour and something at Sensō-ji which is Tokyo's oldest temple and one of its most significant. Crowds were crazy there, it was the first time I was jostling with people apart from the one time in the Metro. Old & young Japanese, loads of tourists armed with DSLR's and shops selling all sorts of souvenirs, sweets. So much activity was on that one street called Nakamise-dori.

But first the walk to the temple itself was filled with awesome stuff to see

Notice the statue on the upper floor as if watching the passers by

This is a caricatured list of the various shops in the area - comp stomp (composition stolen from another photographer) :D

Quite the monster isn't he? Very drool worthy!

And then I saw the shrine.

Right in the middle at the bottom you can see the Kaminarimon or "Thunder Gate". This imposing Buddhist structure features a massive paper lantern dramatically painted in vivid red-and-black tones to suggest thunderclouds and lightning. (Source:Wikipedia)

A little detail from the lantern

Then comes the Hōzōmon or "Treasure House Gate" which provides the entrance to the inner complex.

Yes, one more lantern and there is a box which you can see, where people throw in money before entering the inner complex and yes they throw in the one puts it gently as far as I could see :)....

On the ceiling in the Hall

Some other sights within the temple precincts

Gentleman praying respectfully before Buddha

Ema, wooden prayer plaques typically seen in a shrine

At the back, you can see the pagoda of Sensō-ji (also a comp stomp :D)

This place was way cool. I sat inside here and listened to a Buddhist monk chant his prayers!

This is amongst the very few hexagonal temples left in Japan. Liked the play of light here.

Here's a last shot of the temple in mid-afternoon light just as I was stepping out.

I walked around for a while here. It felt like there were mostly old people walking the streets and everything had gone old or decayed. Even went into a Traditional Arts Museum there - which had no English translation at all :)

Here are some interesting tidbits from the streets

An amusement park nearby

Extremely cute street art

In order from L-R - The building in construction is called Tokyo Sky Tree, Asahi Breweries right next to it and the Golden Flame (commonly referred to as the Golden Turd if you please :P) right next to it. At the bottom you can see a cool, futuristic looking ferry. This is an entertainment ferry with tables so you can go drinking and stare at Tokyo from a different angle.

Next up, Nikko with its awesome fall colours....

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A 48 year old man croons "I'll be there for you"

and makes a baseball stadium full of people go crazy - that has gotta be something right? Ladies and gentlemen, I watched Mr Jovi who was trés bon (Thank you Medems!) yesterday and it was an amazing experience as the photos and video below will show you!

Richie Sambora was nothing short of awesome on the guitar. I mean he was just mindblowing and his talent is not exaggerated at all IMHO! He also sang 'Lay Your Hands On Me' and got the whole crowd participating.

But first the experience of attending a concert in Tokyo. This is an indoor baseball stadium called Tokyo Dome.

We have seats! Yes, we do! So if you get tired of yelling and screaming, you can plop your bum down and say 'Ah'! :D It is so organised - its unbelievable. The loos are neat and clean inspite of maybe like a 1000 people going before you! There are ushers who take you to your seats. Of course everyone stands up, once the lights go out!

I must admit, so far, there are only two occasions when I have seen Japanese people so animated in public, one when then they are drunk (stereotypical but true) and second at concerts. There was a 50 year old lady next to the two of us who had come alone and knew lyrics which even we didn't know! She seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself :)

He started off with a song from his album 'The Circle' which is what the whole tour is about anyways. The whole crowd listened with rapt attention.

And he sang a whole lot of other stuff which included Bad Medicine, Keep the Faith, Runaway and the like.

And then he finished - a two hour long concert where I screamed and yelled and punched my hand in the air and hugged my husband repeatedly :) :) Was a thoroughly exciting experience.

Of course the 'encore' followed. Everyone sat back in their seats and waited for him to come back. And he came and he sang....

And he ended with 'Living on A Prayer' quite interestingly. Just his voice and the crowd went nuts! And then of course the whole fist-pumping, hands in the air routine re-started for everyone.

And then the final goodbye - where everyone kept waving crazily at him. Go see him if you get the chance!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Harajuku Art Walk

Lonely Planet recommended it. I thought to myself, 'Let's explore the city' and this was an absolutely brilliant experience. Very frustrating because of the language barrier and the LP map and directions were useless. Ended up relying on the IPhone Maps to go walking in different directions which was an extremely useful tool to have handy.

Harajuku is a district in Tokyo city. It is known for its outrageous shops selling all kinds of crazy things and the people who are very distinctive because they are mostly Goth. But the husband had advised me that the Goths come out only on Saturdays :) So my quota on Goths is very less but schoolgirls I saw plenty of - shopping away for mobile phone accessories, jackets, lingerie and what not things!

So I started off at Takeshita street where the arch to the street looked quite festive.

Aforesaid school girl checking out stuff at the shop. Check out the shop entrance!

Then came a mural of Harajuku Street before the actual street pops up

In Harajuku I kept getting lost and I was seeking this Design Fiesta Gallery which is a series of rental galleries. Yep like less than 100 sq.ft of space is what the artist gets to exhibit his work. The building was super cool...I could not stop taking photos.

LP says that it looks like a paint bomb exploded on this place. I really could not agree more!

One of the artist's works on display there - Emily B was her name

At the cafetaria

Right outside and this is on the steps believe it or not!!

So after this fab experience, I went trying to find a street called Ometo-sando and man this was one difficult proposition. Finally IPhone maps came to the rescue here. The street is full of big brands like Gucci and the like.

I was trying to find an experimental gallery which I think changed hands. (My LP copy is almost 2-3 years old) and gave up but found all these very interesting things along the street.

Outside a shop selling curios

This beckoned me to go downstairs but since I didn't know what the heck it was, I desisted

Kawaiiii no? (Cute in Japanese) And on a garage door!

Some more street walking led to these discoveries

Outside a clothes shop called Brooks Brothers which mind you had the English flag hanging out alongside the Japanese flag

Just outside a shrine near the Ito Hospital crossing

Loved the colours on the ad, don't you?

Then went looking for other galleries and a building called the Spiral Building. I am sorry to say the building ain't much to look at and I suddenly chanced upon it to be honest as I was lost again :) I bought really cute postcards from the shop though so quite happy about that.

The sun was going down down and my phone battery was going down too. So I did give up and headed home quite exhausted after an almost 4 hour long walk, one which involved being lost quite a bit :D

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So am here

Have moved. In a different city in a completely amazing country. The Japanese are crazy :D and ever ever sooo polite. Technology is omni-present which is way cool. The dogs are really small too. Now that sentence isn't very coherent is it? :):)

So am in Japan, living in Tokyo with the husband who has been debuted here. Its been slightly hectic, settling in, starting out your own house, figuring out how much to cook for 2 ppl (am used to cooking for 4!) and also staring out at a gorgeous gorgeous view of the river which I feel very blessed about. After 28 years of looking at slums, this kind of thing is almost God-given or husband found :D

Its been a week. Fall is very clear here and temperatures keep dropping and going up. I like the idea that he comes home to me every day and I rustle up a hot meal for him. Very homely I know but something I look forward to.

Today is the first day I intend exploring the city without him. We still haven't had a chance to look around given that we have going around buying sandwich makers and rugs for the kitchen and what not jazz! I am looking forward to it. People don't understand English - like zip nada zap! I need to use my IPhone app for translation so the lady who sells me veggies understands that I want parsley and no she doesn't have coriander! :)

So am off to start my day. Am of course taking photos so will be posting those with hopefully something to write about Harajuku where the walk is going to happen....

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Its almost time

that I went a new life, a new beginning. A life now to be shared with a husband who means a lot to me. I am looking forward to living in an apartment with a view. To making khana for the man in the house. To learn to adjust to a different temperament - one very very different from my family (where everyone yells and screams and makes too much noise). To hold hands and explore a different city and a very very different culture.

So much to look forward to. So much to learn. So many photographs waiting to be taken with a SLR!! YAAAAY!! Husband dearest has been very kind with regard to donating his SLR to me and my sis-in-law - one step up - giving me camera lenses as wedding present :D

I am going to miss my crazy family no doubt and my friends but with technology as I keep reassuring myself - it will be like no space-time continuum exists.

So yeah here's to new chapters, meeting new people and making a fabulous new beginning :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Line of the day

I read a whole report about a protest outside the Empire State Building about its refusal to mark Mother Teresa's 100th birthday with blue and white lights, in honor of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nun.

An Irish long-time resident of the Queens, Bridget Cagney, 73 had this to say, 'I woke up this morning, and there was blue and white skies, so it didn't matter. She had her own lights right up there'


To know more, read here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Travelling on

So I did Dali (as some of my friends call it) - didn't do anything exceptional but visited Gudgaon (yes yes this is the way I pronounce it) and oh man...its a maze of steel and concrete and Metro stations and big malls with really good microbreweries and half decent roads and no breakfast places which open at 9 am!! I mean wtf, I ended up eating masala dosa in bloddy Gudgaon man!!! My father laughed his ass off when I told him this over the fone.

Oh I am also recommending Kingfisher to anyone for a breakfast flight - I had the best upma (and that is saying something considering my S.Indian genes) on that flight. I don't know who made it but god bless that man/woman really! Soft and crumbly and just about perfect, I should have taken a photo to show the world really!

Ok now in order, took KF and watched Mallya and Yana what's her name do their thing. I thought Deepika became the brand ambassador (as an aside I hope she gets together with the younger Mallya - the best darn decision she will make in her lifetime!) so then why is Yana still saying 'Abhi cabin ki batti dim ki jayegi'!

Landed in Dali airport and the man ahead of me had a thick gold bead necklace like one of those Egyptian ones you see only in the movies on gunda types! Totally mins wot eet ees! So I thought to myself, 'Welcome to Dali yaar'! Took the Meru where the aircon didn't work!! Ghastly heat hit me from every angle possible and I angstily ended up calling the Meru driver 'Boss' which I am told is a big no-no in Dali!

Anyways, friend lives in a beautiful colony (please pronounce Dali way jee) - extremely green but like you have no car, you get screwed over! But it was nice and we walked and I took photos of all these garden furniture things. Oh and the maids come to work in a bicycle - imagine pulling that in Mumbai!

And then main course - alcohol happened in the night :) Which was supra fun. We didn't get drunk at all, promise! And ate yummy food which friend slaved over - very simple chicken mince with pasta in red sauce types.

And the next morning the breakfast travails began ending with the masala dosa misadventure! But the best part about this morning was the visit to the microbrewery - Rockman's. So Rockman's is a pretty cool place - all vats and barrels right there for you. But the best part was this

I mean how cool is this! They give you shots of beer to decide which one you want to have and its so light and fresh. Can't get over that! Food was hideously expensive so we decided against eating food. But I actually managed to consume almost a whole pint of beer (much to my amazement considering am not much of a beer drinker) so thumbs up for this particular experience.

Saw Aisha post this which was very henh & very Dali in some parts but I totally loved the fashion in the flick! So decent watch types and Abhay Deol rocks as always so go watch it for him for sure :)

Post that we did the drive back to Dali and this time propah Dali dahlings like Greater Kailash types. Had a very relaxing time and had the best mutton kebabs ever - the meat and the masala was just soo yummy .....makes me salivate thinking about it.

Morning brunch was at American Diner where my friend got hit on at like 11 in the morning! So totally not happening! But we had a fun brunch and ate and talked lots so all good. Went off to catch up with another friend in Kalkaji where I was spending the night. And guess what dinner was - aloo tikis!! Bahut hi changa tha jee!!

My last morning in Delhi saw me headed towards DLF Promenade which is uber-snooty and uber-if you are not rich, don't show your face here types! But I had brunch in the most awesome interiored place 'The Stonehouse Deli' - see photo below for more.

Met friend whose getting married in November and whose wedding I am going to miss - but hers sounded so crazy and frazzled, it made me nervous about mine! And I don't seem to have done half the stuff she has so total yargh.

And then I traversed the course of Dali to get to CP where I was supposed to meet a friend but ended up meeting two ex-colleagues from the old workplace which was nice.

All in all a good trip. My Pune treep has been cancelled again (I am telling you its jinxed for whatever reason!) on account of ill health. no more trips for me now..only wedding preps...

But can't wait for September to start..yaaaay ...looking forward to becoming Mrs :)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The best laid plans....

are bound to fall flat on their face. So my Pune trip got cancelled. My dearest darlingest sister came down with malaria one day before I was scheduled to leave for Pune. Such is life and such is fate. So in the interests of all, I did give up on my plans and have postponed the trip to end of August now.

But I am meeting up with old college friends this week - we have been friends since 1997 so the memories are so many and we end up reminiscing no matter where we are, so much so that the company with us gets bored to death! Kya karen 13 years is a long time to know someone no. I have a friend whom I have known literally since my chaddis time - Junior Kg or L Kg as they call it in some places. So that means bar 2-3 years of my lifetime, I know the dude like forever which is slightly crazy in my opinion.

I am actually going to make a list of people I need to catch up with before I leave in a couple of months and start crossing them off :D

Will be travelling out next week to Dilli and going to be in Gudgaon and drink Bloddy Mary's so that should be a whole lot of fun.

What would we do without friends? Donne was right when he said, 'No man is an island' but in my case, I swim in a veritable ocean of friends :)

As a last aside, we did something fun at work - planned Chelsea Clinton's honeymoon. Yep yep, crazy or not, we had a lot of fun doing it - I wrote out most of the content and the big boss man helped me with suggestions and it came together quite well I thought. Don't believe me, check it out here!

Monday, July 26, 2010

All my bags are packed, I am ready to go

And I am going travelling again. Starting Pune this coming weekend, I am heading out to Delhi next month and hopefully going to make it to Amboli as well for a weekend trip. And I can't wait.

I do 'heart' travelling a lot and luckily future husband does too. So yaay on that. I am going for these trips to hang out with friends. Have been doing that ever since close friends moved away and this is my way of travelling and making sure that I am connecting witht them - two birds with one stone!

In one of my earlier posts, I had mentioned that the 'sense of urgency' is becoming stronger to make sure I connect as much as possible with the people I care about and who have become my support system in this city - to eat, drink, bond and bitch about life happenings.

I used to bitch about work - thank God that urge has passed now! :D This working from home I tell you is brilliant stuff especially in this horrendous monsoons! No travelling in the trains, getting stuck and lord knows what else! And the ghost of 26/7 lingers on still in any true-blue Mumbaikar's mind. Don't think it will ever pass.

Enough rambling. Chitra has tagged me in this post. I am going to have think of different things to say from when Shalini had tagged me before :) So hard to think about stuff which are normal mundane things about yourself in some sense but make up who you are.

Can't wait to begin my journey...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Murder

Sourced from Wikipedia

It had been in the planning stages for quite a while and now that the plan was coming close to fruition, they were suprisingly nervous. The English bastard had it coming for sometime now. He had no place poking his foxhound like nose into their business. They loaded up their guns and drove the Vauxhall out.

Silence reigned in the car. They were men on a mission with history.

The house at No. 1 Plein 1813 had been acquired by the British Government in 1984. It stood as a symbol of the enemy in their minds and their biggest one was about to be eliminated.

British Ambassador Sykes was looking forward to his day at work. His office had almost made a breakthrough to get the main man responsible for financing the Irish bastards in Holland. He was eager to get on with it.

Karel had had a lovely time last night with his girlfriend. He was only 19 but had got the job of valet six months back. Luckily the 'Big Man' as he referred to the Ambassador was a good bloke. He was saving money to go on that trip to India which he had always dreamt about. Another six months to go is what he thought....

The Big Man walked through the door and waved a good morning to Karel. Karel was walking one step behind the Big Man but ensured that he got there just in time to open the door of the Rolls for him. Sykes got in and seated himself comfortably.

The bullets came fast and furious. Four bullets. One in the chest, one each in the shoulder(s) and one in the stomach. Karel was shot near the heart and one on the shoulder.

The blood flowed, much like the blood of their mates in Belfast, thought the two men as they fled the scene.

Inspired from this age old newspaper article here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I am walking away

I'm walking away from the troubles in my life
I'm walking away oh to find a better day
I'm walking away from the troubles in my life
I'm walking away oh to find a better day
I'm walking away

Craig David is humming in my head. I am walking away from the troubles in my life which are at this stage slightly miniscule. The marriage madness has not started yet. So am Skyping a whole lot and those two hours of video talking make me extremely happy.

I had written earlier about starting up a new house and we have got our fabulous apartment now. So am totally happy about that and can't wait to see it real time which should be approximately 4 months from now.

Today has been a retrospective day of sorts. Of letting go of old hat and letting it fly with the wind where no one sees it or catches it. Of knowing that good things can and do happen to people who wait patiently. Of catching up with friends who will not seen awhile and sorely missed. Of knowing that happiness can come by anytime it chooses to. You just need to be there to grab your moment and not let go and squeeze it for all its worth.

Life as eet ees is taking a new turn :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

And my 29th is upon me

And like seriously this will go down in history as one of my least socializing buddays :) First, it is a Monday so don't get me started on that. Second, my fiancé is not here which totally sucks - but on the flip side, we are going to spend his together so that makes it all good in my mind! Third, all this working from home means that I am slightly money-less (atleast this month) but hey I am working from home and not commuting in the ghastly rains! So yipee yaay on that!

This year has been a strange good year. I started out ever so randomly but sure that I would be quitting my job. Hit Goa in the first month itself - so happy that trip made me. Got a new job that gave me the flexibility to spend time in the house and bond with the family. Conversely, these are the last few months in my city for me too. I will be moving home and hearth come November and that is a move I am totally looking forward to - an apartment with a view is what 'we' have been dreaming about and hope that really really works out.

I lost a friend, figuratively and literally. I didn't know when the year started that this was written for me in 2010. It hurt. I lived through it. I moved on. Losing someone who is the same age as you makes you more than aware of your own mortality.

It makes you realise that life is too short and you gotta do everything that you have ever dreamed of doing - take risks, plunge into ravines of self-doubt and make sure you climb your way to the top. You are bound to get injured but when you realise what you have achieved, the feeling is mindblowing!

Some things left to do for 2010:
  1. Get married :D
  2. Jumpstart my own house which fills me with trepidation and excitement
  3. Do bungee jumping
  4. Travel more (of course)
  5. Catch up with friends - the sense of urgency I feel is greater now
  6. Get back to writing and photography (both have been sorely neglected)
  7. Get a new tattoo and I even know what I want to get - question is will I do it before my wedding and face the wrath of all the South Indian mamis of the world :D
  8. Leave family and friends behind in India (who will be sorely missed) but in today's connected world you can hardly call it leaving behind
And yeah that is about it. Hitting 29 the year you are getting married is something special in my mind. This year's budday is my most memorable and am kicked as hell about it. And ain't no one gonna tell me any different!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

May ends

bringing to a close a month of happiness for me. I met someone who turns out to be the love of my life (you know like the films), get engaged to him and will begin a new life with him in the next five months.

If someone had even told me in January this is how my life would have turned out, I would have point blank laughed at them!

Life brings with it strange, extraordinary twists and turns. I went with the flow on this one and am extremely happy I did so. Believing that things would work out given what our odds were was quite simply a leap of faith and one I was more than willing to take. Knowing in real time that this is something that will last a lifetime - well its like the Mastercard ad right, priceless :)

Here's to life then. Cheers....

Friday, April 30, 2010

The 10 quick steps to eternal happiness

A dear friend on Flickr - ganobristol - just tagged me on this post. Stuff like this makes you stop and think. What does happiness mean and where do I find my happiness really? What makes me happy in 10 quick steps are as follows:

1. Photography - the mood hits me and then sometimes I just know its a perfect shot and like honestly screw what people think about it. Par example, like this one below which is also the subject of a previous post.

2. Rains - Sitting at home and experiencing the rains is what makes me happiest. Ghar pe amma will make chai/kapi and sometimes (rarely actually) bhajia - wah wah moments

3. The sea - Nothing makes me happier than being close to the sea. And I love getting a sun tan so it is all good in my mind. Prawns are my fave sea food and there is something awesome about sunrise-sunset by the seaside.

4. People - Family and friends - make me happy. I have a strong support system who encourages, cheers and holds my hand, figuratively and literally when the chips are against me.

5. Filter kapi - sigh - what would I do without kapi? My life would be an empty, barren husk I know! First thing in the morning, a cup of filter kapi uplifts me like nothing else can

6. Cooking - I am a late bloomer here. I like cooking - the smells, the effort and let's not forget the sweat :P And of course the mostest happiness is derived from people's burps afterwards :):)

7. Reading and listening to music - Two pleasures combined guaranteed to enthrall me enough that I can get blinded to the world outside.

8. The colour green - I loveee greeen so much so that some friends started calling me the 'Green Goblin' at a point!!! I have green earrings and green outfits. I used to have green shoes but they died on me!! :(

9. Whisky - :D I don't think I should say more. Nothing like a small peg and boy is that guaranteed to uplift the spirits (sorry could not resist that one! :))

10. A life partner - Lifetime of guaranteed happiness I have been promised and if nothing else -I get a house and some LV bags in return he says :):)