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. :)

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.