the cycle brigade


While travelling through the hillside villages of Bharuch on a warm July afternoon, I met this group of enthusiastic boys on cycle. While I was languishing in a rickety Bolero with a tele-lens mounted camera, they were having the time of their life on the unpredictable yet familiar roads. Many of you would surely relate with such escapades on cycle.


It was a holiday for them. More than the children, I was happy to find them. For those who travel, children following you in villages are a common sight, especially if you smile and be warm to them. Believe me, these are the true joy of travelling. No big take aways, no resort hoping, but some unconditional memories and of course little tiredness too.


my ammichi


For me, she is Ammichi and for many she is Agnes thathi. At 86, she is an inspiration for me, to keep aside troubles and move ahead in life. While I was growing up in the beautiful coastal village of Pallipuram in Vypin Island; I only wished to get a job and erase all her woes. For those who have heard of this for the first time, Vypin is one of the highly inhabited Islands in Kerala, the picturesque state of India.

Little did I know then, that it would be Ammichi who would inspire me to move on and achieve greater heights, especially in terms of education, financial stability and above all a happy family life. Not just for her family, but she has stood beside many to give that timely advice to ward off domestic and financial troubles.

Ammichi was born into a very humble family of four daughters and a relentlessly hardworking mother – father. She couldn’t complete her education as desired by her. She dreamt of becoming a teacher, once she told me. Though, in life she was no less than a teacher, all those who are acquainted with her, would certainly vouch for this.

Soon Ammichi became a wife and mother to four daughters and three sons. And her life changed completely. Having a husband who was posted with the Indian Army, Ammichi took the reins of bringing up the family into her hands. Ammichi for the past 40 plus years has rarely missed opening her small wooden toffee shop near St. Mary’s High School at Pallipuram. More or less, she has continuously witnessed over three generations of students, who still remember the ammayi muttai and kumbloose naaranga they ate from her pettikada (small shop in Malayalam). And the pettikada has played an important role in supporting her financial needs.

And what a beautiful family she has raised. In spite of not being a biological part of her family, she brought me up just the way she would have done with her own offspring. Indeed, she lived the role of my Ammichi (mother in Malayalam). As per the relation, I should have called her Ammama (grandma), but I never realized the difference, as she raised me with equal portions of love, patience and punishments.
Today, when she is celebrating her birthday, I stand here, educated, settled and with a loving family. This is when I realize the value of those moments of love and punishments. And how it has helped me to value life and count blessings, above all.

heritage all around us

The ethos of India is beautifully etched on the many architectural marvels all around us. My early memories of visiting a heritage site dates back to 1993, when I was taken to Lal Darwaja one of the busiest market places of Ahmedabad. Thanks to my mother for holding on to her amused daughter of 13 years of age and showing around the city that was built more than 600 years ago. Here in Ahmedabad, my journey started. Work, yearly trips and an adventurous husband has taken me to few parts of the country. This collage is made from the trips made in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Goa and Kerala. These places have the signature architectural styles and patterns of the Mughal, Portuguese, Mewar, Maurya, Rajput, Indo-Saracenic and the Muzzaffarid as well as Solanki dynasty. This is a small tribute to the spectacular heritage of India.


magic of setting sun

junagadh is one of my favourite places to visit. My first trip to junagadh was in 2003 and the romance with the district has only grown deeper. Left, right and centre of junagadh is blessed with natural and historical wonders. This photo was taken at Uparkot in the month of February, when the weather was just perfect. If you are coming to Gujarat, a visit to junagadh should be planned for sure.

Uparkot is a magnificent fort believed to be built around 319 BC during the mauryan dynasty. Setting sun made the view from the top of fort a magical experience and gives an aura to the modern city.

face to face

wilson hill of Dharampur taluka, Valsad is one of the few hill stations of Gujarat. The Chatri (literal translation would be umbrella) situated on top of the hill offers an endearing view of the Western Ghats. The view from Chatri makes two angular faces, which seems to be in conversation till eternity. Folklore says that Lady Wilson, wife of Lord Wilson, the then Governor of Bombay (1923 – 1928) used to frequent this place and rest in the shadow of Chatri and enjoy the serene atmosphere.

marching soldiers

city palace in udaipur, rajasthan is a paradise for art lovers. the palace has abundant collection of murals and paintings, which makes it an easy attraction for tourists. the walls are adorned with murals of animals to beautiful women. while taking a stroll in the palace, i saw this painting, which showed a king and his entourage getting ready for the big war, with all armoury. however, what got my attention was what the artist had captured so beautifully, the marching soldiers in conversation with each other. what they must have been sharing, about family, not able to spend enough time with wife/girl friend/ boy friend, lack of money, and so on. problems to ponder upon must not have been less even then. enjoy the picture and do visit city palace, next time when you are in udaipur.

the land has given me shelter and food

“I don’t leave it empty, even the small piece of land I have. With financial help from tribal department, today my field is full of tomatoes and chilly”. It is the proud statement by Varjulbhai a tribal farmer from Velvach village of Valsad district, which has predominant tribal population.

varjulbhai in his farm, though he is shy, was very keen to take me around the farm

Varjulbhai of Velvach village owns half acre land and initiated cultivation of vegetables with financial support from tribal department. Along with his wife, he now produces tomatoes, brinjal (egg plant) and lady’s finger (okra), which he directly sells at the nearby market. He now owns a house to live respectfully with his wife and children.

Valsad is best known as the mango district of Southern Gujarat, India. Blessed with abundant natural wealth, Valsad receives an approximate annual rainfall of around 2200mm. Valsad also has its place in the history as one of the princely states of yesteryears. The name Valsad is derived from historical name Vad-saal, which means full of banyan trees in Gujarati (local language). Valsad district is mainly divided in to five blocks, Dharampur, Valsad, Kaprada, Pardi and Umargaon. Of which Dharampur and Kaprada are predominantly tribal and is enveloped by the Western Ghat mountain region. Valsad has a tribal population of around 60 per cent out of its total populace of 1.5 million.

a happy man front of his home