Handmade paper jewellery

Handmade jewerly are gaining popularity these days which were on market a decade ago. Be it jute, clay or handmade beads, there are many buyers. I bought a pair of paper made red earrings and a pendant for Rs 89/-. Nice design isn't it, what do you think?

Ambari from Bombe Mane

Last July(2013), I was in Mysore to attend a function at cousins. I wished to visit Mysore on my own and click the palace. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it due to the time constraint, but somehow I managed to peep at Bombe Mane, the place which has been much talked of the beautiful and unique dolls. I couldn't resist visiting this place and bought home an Ambari (the golden seat for Goddess Chamundi on the elephant), which is carried on the elephant's back on Vijaya Dashami, the last day of Dasara.

Aneya mele Ambari.
The Ambari was pricey but its worth the price I paid.

Singapore Flyer

Singapore Flyer is one the attraction in the heart of Singapore situated close to the Gardens by the Bay and Chinese Garden. It is a giant wheel kind of which moves very slowly unlike the other giant wheels which speed up fast in the air. One could get the best view of the entire city from the Flyer. I was on the Flyer at 9:30 PM, the last schedule, along with few Japanese girls. Here are few pictures taken on my iPhone and DSLR camera. The entire ride lasts for 30 minutes.

More details can be found here: http://www.singaporeflyer.com/

Marina Bay Sands Tower

Gardens by the Bay

View of the City

Another tall building and the calm roads

How the Singapore Flyer cabin looks

View from the top: Parking lot

Marina Bay Sands Tower, Museum and the buildings

Gardens by the Bay

Shops at the entrance of the Singapore Flyer building

Singapore Flyer View at night


Massive Open Online Course

The online e-learning courses are gaining popularities these days. Sit anywhere, at home, at desk, at a coffee shop or even while on bus and learn your favourite courses on the go. I signed up a couple of courses and have been busy completing them one after the other which has kept me away from my other hobbies. The major platforms being Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, Open2Study and edX which offer courses from the top universities at no cost, though Udemy offers the courses at a fee. Here is an overview of each of the platform.

I signed up Coursera last year and browsed their website for a long time and it was amazing to see the courses from top US universities like Wharton School or UCI or Darden, that I signed up few courses. I was able to complete 2 wonderful courses and obtained Statement of Accomplishment. The courses usually last for 2-3 months. If you miss one term, then you can sign up the same course when they offer next time. What I liked the most about the Coursera is that, it had a wide range of offerings, be it Arts, Design, Science, Programming, Engineering or an MBA course. Most courses have weekly quizzes, assignments and a final project. There is also a Discussion Forum where students can discuss their concerns and a Community TA who promptly clarifies. However, the assignments and the projects are peer graded. Coursera also offers: Signature Track for USD 49, where the certificate bears the logo of the university and authenticity could be verified online. Though, I am not sure how far these verified certificates are valued and worth of, I wouldn't sign up at present. Overall, I liked the content and the materials of this platform. You have to study from Day 1 you sign up the course and there is no last minute study.

Udacity has a good range of offerings but not as wide range as Coursera offers. When you sign up a course, you do not have a definite completion date and you could go at your own pace. I signed up few courses and after finishing 2-3 modules, I couldn't complete. Most Beginner level courses are free while other courses like Hadoop/Big data are paid. I found the mainly technical courses than management related.

Udemy has a good range of courses mainly the technical ones which comes at a cost. The courses has a start and an end time and is practical oriented. 
edX is a joint venture from MIT and Harvard. Most courses from edX are very basic ones. Some courses are free where as others are paid. I found the courses are good for school students. Somehow, I wasn't happy with the range of courses and did not sign up.
This platform is an initiative from the Open Universities Australia. Some courses have start and end date while others could be signed up anytime and completed anytime. I did not find the content to be effective and un-signed them.

Here is my 2 cents about all the MOOC's. I would reckon signing up free course on Coursera anytime than others. The content and material on Coursera is better than the other MOOCs.


Animal print top from Jabong

I won a voucher for Rs 500 from Jabong.com over a blog contest last year. I wanted to buy a nice, elegant top and not a T-shirt or a kurti. I searched Jabong website for sometime and fixed my eyes on this leopard print sleeveless top. I had bought a leopard print scarf and cap from Melbourne but a matching top was missing. :)

Millefleur Sleeveless Scoop Neck Animal Print Brown Polyester Top
Millefleur Sleeveless Scoop Neck Animal Print Brown Polyester Top
The material is polyester and is a perfect pick for a party wear. It suits you perfectly whether you're wearing trousers or skirt. On placing the order, I received the parcel from Jabong in 2-3 working days. 

Verdict: 4/5 

The Road Home :: Chinese 1999 film

Language: Chinese

Year: 1999

Length: 89 minutes.

Directed by: Zhang Yimou

Produced by:Zhang Weiping, Zhao Yu

Screenplay by: Bao Shi

Starring:  Zhang Ziyi, Sun Honglei, Zheng Hao, Zhao Yulian

I watched this movie during the weekend on my laptop. Needless to say, it is one of the most thoughtful movie I have seen. The movie starts in black and white with the son of school teacher returning his home in the village from the city, hearing the death of his father. His mother who lives in the village has only wish - that his father be carried in the coffin by men on their shoulders to their village and cremated. The climate is drastic and the village mayor says it is difficult to get men to carry the coffin on their shoulders and brought to the village. However, his mother is reluctant that her dead husband should be carried in a car.

The son narrates the story of their parents courtship which took place in the year 1958. The parents love story is shown in Color. Luo Changyu is the young teacher who comes to village while the school is being built.

The plot of the movie set in the 1958 is of the young village girl who falls in love with the school teacher and how she longs the entire day to see him. She visits the well near to the school to fetch the water and secretly blushes hearing the voice of the teacher. How she waits for him to return from the town. Her endless search and falling sick while she goes in search of him in the heavy snowfall. The movie is so well shot that you would appreciate every scene. I would stop here and strongly reckon that you watch on the bigger screen at home. Though, its a Chinese movie, you can understand just by the gestures and subtitles are mere optional.

Rating: 5/5. 


Chilkur "Visa" Balaji Temple

My first travel trip this year started whilst visiting Hyderabad city and the much appraised Lord Balaji of Chilkur, which is more often popular "Visa Balaji Temple" or "Visala Devudu" (in Telugu, it means, Visa granting God). It was a Monday morning, 10th Feb 2014, I changed 3 buses to see the lord and Hyderabad being unfriendly in terms of weather, around 40 degrees centigrade. Having traveled handful places, sometimes alone, this too was on my wishlist for a long time and the time had come to visit alone.

Shops at Chilkur, on the way to temple
Shops at Chilkur, on the way to temple
Entrance to the Balaji temple
Entrance to the temple
Balaji Temple Gopuram
I reached the temple around 12 noon and was taken by surprise to see the rush. The devotees have to leave behind their mobile phones and cameras, any other belongings if you wish, in the locker before entering the temple. You have to deposit a small fee, as less as Rs 5 or Rs 10 to obtain the locker. As I entered the temple, I made a struggle to enter the Garbha Gudi to see the idol. The boards display that the devotee should make a wish without closing the eyes. You would also notice that there is no Hundi here. Lakhs of people visit the temple everyday and make a single wish by making 11 rounds and once the wish is fulfilled, you have to visit the temple and make 108 rounds. The temple provides the printed sheets from 1 to 108. Remember to take a pen to strike off the number as you complete a round.

I was mesmerized seeing the Bhakti of the devotees, young and old, men and women, rich and poor, busy making rounds and chanting "Govinda Govinda" with the palms joined. The Lord does not demand anything except 108 rounds, not even a Hundi as you see in other temples.

Street side shop selling bangles

Shops on the way to the temple.
It is believed that, a decade ago, when the visas were being rejected by the US embassy, people would visit the temple and then there were no rejections at all. I would definitely visit this temple again for its ambiance and divinity, though its not for a Visa. :)

Maharashtrian "Nath" nosepin

I have developed a liking for traditional jewelry of all states and collect whatever lies within my budget, these days.

I saw this beautiful nose pin called "Nath" in Marathi which is worn by every Maharashtrian bride during the wedding. Not only during the wedding, women wear it during the auspicious function and festivals also. Here are a few pics of the Bollywood celebrities wearing the "nath"

Madhuri Dixit wearing "nath"

Juhi Chawla wearing "nath" and the traditional "Lakshmi coin" haar.

Isha Koppikar
Rani Mukherjee wearing Maharashtrian "nath" and traditional Nauvari saree
My Maharashtrian Nath

I decided to buy this beautiful piece of jewelry, whether I get a chance to wear it or not, I own it. It has pink colored stone in the middle with the pearls surrounded and a pressing one which can be worn without pierced nose.

Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple

I was at Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh (which is now Seemandhra!) in April to visit a friend. Chittoor is a stop before Tirupati and 1 hour on road to Vellore, Tamil Nadu. The temperature here goes as high as 40 degree Centigrade during summer and frequent power cuts. The nearby places to visit are a few temples at Tirupati, Kanipkam Vinayaka Temple, ArdhaGiri Anjaneya and Mahalakshmi temple at Vellore.

Having less time and considering the climate, Kanipakam was the nearest place to visit from Chittoor which is 30 minutes on bus. On reaching the temple premises, we deposited the cell phones and cameras at the counter. Note that the phones and cameras are not allowed and you might end up paying huge fines if you take them along inside.

The temple has a pond or "sarovar" at the entrance where you can wash the feet before entering the temple and few people also float the "deepa" or light.
Entrance of Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple
We bought a quick Darshana ticket costing Rs 51 thinking that we will see the god in no time, but stood in the queue for a long time and finally the Darshana lasted only a few minutes as there were many devotees in the queue. The Ganesha idol is a small one which is believed to be emerged out of waters and keeps growing in size. The temple is vast and well-maintained. Many men and women shave their head once their wish is fulfilled and many young new married couples, still in their wedding attire, come to the temple to seek the Lord's blessings.

There are many shops at the temple premises selling the "malas" worn around the neck, Ganesha idols and what not.
Shops at the temple

Shops at the temple
 As we had traveled in the hot summer, we had the popular "goli soda" for Rs 10 which is sold everywhere.
Goli Soda 

Goli Soda

Goli Soda

Fruit seller

Various items for display by the seller
I bought the Ganesha cards that easily fit in my wallet for Rs 5.
Kan-drusthi Ganapathi Card

Ganesha cards for sale Rs 5 

Not to miss the bringing home a Ganesha idol made of stone. 

Ganesha placed in the waters

Ganesha idols with the Rudraksha and Spatika mala
 Last but not the least, how could I miss the souvenir and bought this cute little Ganesh, with the "Spatika" and "Rudraksha" mala around the neck.
Ganesha in the water
If you're visiting Chittoor, Tirupati or Vellore, do not miss to visit Kanipakam and bow to Ganesha and seek his blessings.

Chokher Bali :: Movie Review

I watched Chokher Bali, the Hindi version of the Bengali movie, a few weeks ago. The movie is a decade old, released in the year 2003. Having heard a lot of appraises and many reviews saying a No No watch, the movie speaks about the sacrifice and the status of the young widow in the society in the olden days.

Aishwarya Rai plays the role of a young widow, Binodini, who lost her husband within the first anniversary and strictly followed the norms set by the society for a widow wearing a white saree and other rituals, though she is educated and can speak English, during the early 20th century. Reema Sen, an illiterate plays Ashalata, is the wife of Prosenjit Chatterjee playing the role of Mahendra. Mahendra's mother requests the lonely Binodini to stay at their house. Ashalata and Binodini become good friends and Mahendra's mother is also impressed by Binodini's intelligence and wit. As time flies, Mahendra soon realizes that Binodini is beautiful, smart and intelligent and falls for her. Their relationship continues in secrecy and soon Ashalata learns the fact and leaves the home and travels to Kashi. Ashalata's mother-in-law accuses her of the mistake and asks Binodini to leave the house. Binodini approaches Behari, Mahendra's friend, who always admires her, to marry her. But Behari refuses. Binodini later returns to her house in her village but Mahendra follows her. I will not write the complete story here and will wait for the reader to watch it. Aishwarya's role as Binodini is outstanding and has carried out very well. It would be wrong if one doesn't appreciate the role played by Reema Sen. Her role as Binodini's friend is absolutely stunning.

The young widow had suffered being taken advantage by Mahendra and would not give her a status of a wife and would remain his keep. The novel, authored by Rabindranath Tagore had always regretted the ending.

Discover a hobby

I am a Gemini and I wouldn't deny having myriad interests and every time you will see something or the other new stuff coming up on my blog. Recently, I came across this website: http://discoverahobby.com/hobby_list.php and I was checking what hobbies I can add to my bin and to my surprise, I noted that I have tried most of the below and my blog entries are a proof to it.

Reading book
Writing stories/blogs

key chains
wrist watches

Cardio workout
Classical music
Freelance writing
scuba diving
musical instruments
sky diving
Tea drinking

water ski
snow ski

Website designing
wine tasting


The ones highlighted in Red are yet to be accomplished and hope to do them soon. ;)

What are you list of hobbies?