It was a hot day, the harsh sun beat on us ruthlessly. Towards the evening, when everyone was hurrying to return home, did the vitthala temple complex start revealing it’s secret beauty. It felt as if the venerable granite structure was silently absorbing the brutal rays, and radiating a soft glow when it was dusk. The whole hillock seemed to be eagerly waiting for the cool embrace of the night.
Everything beautiful has a story of blood to say. Of men that fought to own it’s glory. Even a single stone of diamond has a trail of blood. South Africa, Sierra Leone, Liberia who are rich in diamond deposits, are also poor and strife torn. The local militia hijack the mines, employ children to mine diamonds and exchange them for arms. “Blood diamond(2006)” says a similar story. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, as Danny Archer the diamond smuggler/middleman, it takes us through the dismal situation in Sierra Leone. The country is richly endowed by nature, yet her citizen die of hunger. Children are forcefully recruited by local armed groups, given arms and drugs. Solomon Vandy, a dad who lost his wife and children sets out to find them and meets path with Danny. There is a scene towards climax that puts forth the entire perspective of the movie:
Solomon Vandy who reached London, is amused by a diamond necklace on display in a shop window. He has lost his everything for the stones, the expression in his face somewhere between a smile and a sob. I have encountered few such scenes, which in itself tells the story for the movie.
This book is a must read for all Indians to just to fathom how great out legacy is. It took me on a pilgrimage through places of mythological and cultural significance. Gliding through several chapters in a single sitting never bored me.
The title essentially means ‘In the place covered with snow’. The author is well read in philosophy, mythology, history and Sanskrit. Gems of knowledge from his vast experience is sprinkled throughout the book. I felt that the right thoughts effortlessly rose in his mind at the right moments, and that the chapters are detailed and provides information of a place from all angles shows the meticulous work MP Veerendra Kumar has put in behind the trip. I wonder how he kept track of all the points from his 40 or so day long sojourn, given that he never mentions about taking notes or making diary entries. At few points, I envy the author’s skill of retrieving from memory, the relevant anecdotes, slokas, pieces of poetry, quotes etc.
Places like Rudraprayag, karnaprayag, kumaon, nainital, gangothri, yamunothri etc., that I had never paid much attention to before are now in my wish list of places to visit. I must confess that at times, I felt the chill that the author described was in the place. Ironically, the journey seems largely uneventful, without any untoward incedents or difficulties, except that they are reaching places. Author’s thoughts and conversation in the travel group create the ideas that makes the book. I have to mention that the photos taken by author and team, printed in centerfold pages were awful!
Another aspect I liked is the author’s views about environmental protection and our blindly aping the west, which are similar to mine. Knowing that we have members of Parliament who holds these values is heartening. But unlike a man of power, he was just sitting there talking about all damages that we do to nature, mentioning nothing about actions the people and government can take to reduce or control it.
At gangothri, he talks about ganga’s birth, her story, river ganga and it’s significance in Indian culture etc. At karnaprayag, the life story of karna is told. Each place and thing has a story to tell, a glory long lost is hidden everywhere. On finishing the book I took pride in being an Indian.
Vishu doesn’t exactly mark the malayalam new year, but it something to do with the position of sun. All I care is I get to see ‘Vishu Kani’ and I get to eat ‘Vishu Sadya’. Earlier I use to get ‘Vishu Kai Neettam’ as well, but now I am at the giving end, so not much fun there. Still, it reminds of the time when the Kani konna trees and gulmohars bear flower in the scorching heat.
This is a question any child can answer: because there is no sun , the sky is dark! But, think: what about the light from billions of stars dotting the sky? They are all bigger and brighter than the sun, but only much farther away. Still enough light must be reaching earth from them, to illuminate our familiar black night sky.
When this question was asked few centuries back, man soon found that he was incapable of providing a satisfactory answer. It was until 20th century when the answer finally arrived. I will not attempt to ruin your curiosity by putting the answer bluntly. Watch this documentary, narrated by Jim-al-Khalili: Everything and Nothing: The amazing science of empty space. I watched it on Amazon Prime Video, but it is available on YouTube too.
That stunning moment when everything seems dipped in whiskey.