finding alleppy

have your heard of the duck curry accompanied with succulent appams (a kind of pancake made with fermented rice paste /coconut and toddy, if you are lucky) Or the unending streams of picturesque backwaters. The older generation would also associate the place with many a freedom struggles, political uproar and the once famous coir industry. The place I am referring to is the rice bowl of Kerala and the Venice of the east; a district known as Alleppey and for many its Alappuzha (meaning ‘The land lies between sea and its rivers).

I am one of the many daughter in-laws Alleppey would have. Like most of them, my visit is always shrouded with many plans to see that and eat this. However, each visit remains a surprise till the end. And of course more plans are made for the next visit.

Luckily this time, I was more blessed to have got a guided tour to the backyard. No way, i am not complaining. Even the backyard in Alleppey is worth taking a tour. And to add to the beauty, it rained the whole day. So I walked on the red coloured unpaved road to find this beautiful place.

hundreds of coconut trees would give you a welcome glance to experience the beauty of the backwaters

The water was dark but clear in the middle. Grass in varied nuances of green and different sizes covered the edges of the backwaters. Scores of ducks fluttered its wings to get closer to the land before the next big rain.

Indeed the backwaters of Alleppey beckon you to spend more time in the quaint atmosphere. You will not even mind the never ending rain.

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an upside down reflection of the coconut trees

duck on red sand

hope you will get an opportunity to walk on this road

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the exodus

Life is a journey that must be travelled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations; says Oliver Goldsmith.

With a similar emotion, that day in the month of April the journey began for me and friends. We boarded the Okha- Guwahati Express from Ahmedabad at around 9 pm only to find over 200 co-passengers in the second class bogie meant to accommodate 72 people. It took us a while to get accustomed with the surrounding and the hundreds of people heading for respective hometowns. That day the meaning of ‘shock’ and ‘disbelief’ was redefined. And we knew that our ‘reserved berth’ was just a mirage and that the exodus had begun.

the commotion to find a place in the crowded train

Generally all it takes is 60 minutes to adjust to the surrounding in a crowded train, at times even lesser. So in a while, we were busy probing and exploring with our co-passengers to find the reason for this rabble. And the answer was, “its Holi and we need to reach home”.

Most of our co-passengers were natives from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Assam migrated to Gujarat in search of work. Having found a job in the vibrant state of Gujarat, they only visit their families once in a year. Hence, the rush was well justified.

the man with a liquid food pipe attached to his nose, he too found a place to rest

They were young, middle-aged, old and few who hopped in straight from the hospital, leaving the treatment half-way, keen to be home before the festivity begins in their respective villages. As they were taking turns to sleep and sit along the window seats, the scene illustrated a perfect travelling scene of giving each other a leg up to accommodate self as well as others. The bonhomie was contagious and soon we forgot our discomfort and joined the exodus.

the next day, all woke upto a perfect morning

It’s recommended for photographers and story writers to board this train (before Holi, ofcourse) from Okha (Gujarat), if you want to hear amazing stories of finding employment, lack of jobs in one’s native and so on from the people of seven states of India all in one go . The Okha -Guwahati Express travels a long journey of more than 3200 km in a span of four days. Don’t miss my favourite, the second-class compartment in a summer night.

Google map showing the journey of Okha – Guwahati Express

tales of tail

i have been a great fan of kapish, the wonder monkey of comic world. most of the non-school days and vacations were spent in close company with kapish and similar other characters. hope you remember the ‘the tales of tail’. people love monkeys, some worship them and few also consider them as nuisance. whatever you think, monkeys have a long historical significance in the indian epics.

in a common man/woman’s parlance, being called a “monkey’’ is not respectful as it is regarded as being less beautiful with not much grey cells. however, we have enough many stories to prove that wrong. the most stunning characteristic of a monkey is the way it cares for its younger brood. these images are just an example of its love for its children.

learning from the mother

giving love and courage to the younger one

giving that confident look

in others skin: a behrupiya

the search for amusement and entertainment leads us to many art forms. Behrupiya is one such form of traditional art, wherein the person adorns someone else’s personality and changes the look through different costumes, make up and other paraphernalia, obviously to amuse people and earn a living. Behrupiya (in Hindi) means an impressionist, often seen at any celebrations in India. Be at weddings, temples, on street, busy market areas and so on. Though, with the passing time, the sight is becoming rare. Like many artists, they too struggle to make ends meet. With the passing years, it is quite possible that this art form would live only in pictures. Next time you meet one such artist, make sure to help.

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the walk

there she was, all of two years, a robust female, walking graciously towards me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Am I dreaming or is it for real. Though just a while ago I had seen a pride, this sight was unbelievable. With each step, my excitement turned into an unknown fear, with a look from her, straight into my eyes. Suddenly the distance grew less and then lesser. What a beauty she was, a lioness all of just two years (which I could only know later from the driver of safari jeep). The experience of seeing a lioness so close and so near was surreal. I closed my eyes and devoured the beauty of her in my mind. Suddenly, taking photographs of her was not the priority.

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.

dancing in white dress

that day the morning was born
with her desire to get dressed in a white dress
and why not, she was to dance that evening
she ran around to put together matching accessories in white
carefully searched for those white hair clips in her little vanity box
happiness knew no bound, when she found a glowing white necklace of rounded beads
with bangles and diamond like earrings adorning her tiny ear lobes
she looked like a little princess in her perfectly white and flowing dress made with net
with her tiny feet balancing on the wooden platform
that evening she danced like never before

diya, beautiful daughter of my friend

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.