Best Eateries for bookworms – II

Related read – Best Eateries for Bookworms – I

In Part I, I had listed 15 of my favorite books, but since then I have read a number of books which I have found equally unputdownable. So, here is another list of 15 of my favorites in alphabetical order. If you like reading fiction, they are a must read. If you want more information on a particular book, just click on the name of the book. Here goes:

Catch22Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

The story of Yossarian, a bomber in the U.S. Air force set during the later years of the World War II. The reader might find the story a little out of sequence because at times there are same events which are described by different characters at different points of time. The story is dipped in satire and questions touching upon various themes like moral dilemma, bureaucracies, personal integrity and patriotism. The book is considered as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century.

DuneDune by Frank Herbert

The book revolves around a highly evolved form of  human race scattered across various planets in the universe some twenty thousand years in the future where science and technology has evolved far beyond its present state. The story touches upon various themes like politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion. Dune was first published in 1965 and it won the Hugo and the Nebula awards for best novel in the following year. It is considered the best science fiction novel of all times.

LolitaLolita by Vladimir Nobokov

A book which holds the distinction of being called “sheer unrestrained pornography” and “one of the best novels of 1955” at the same time. Lolita was refused by 4 American publishers because of its subject content before it finally saw the light of the day. The book follows the story of a middle aged literary scholar who is obsessed with young girls and gets sexually involved with a 12 year old girl named Dolores Haze. Lolita now holds the status of a classic and is considered as the most controversial book of 20th century.

lordofthefliesLord of the Flies by William Golding

During an unnamed nuclear war, a plane carrying a group of young boys crashes in a deserted island. There are no adult survivors and the boys are left on their own. The book dwells into the idea of how culture and society created by humans fail even at the smallest level. The boys create group amongst themselves which finally ends up in disaster and they end up being hungry for each others blood. The book underlines the conflict between the “greater good of the society’ and the “hunger for power”. As you reach the climax of the story, you would have completely forgotten that you were reading about a bunch of school kids.

my name is redMy name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

An enriching book by the Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. The book was originally written in Turkish and was later translated to English. How difficult the translation would have been can be understood by the complex English sentences. The story is a murder mystery set during the rein of the Ottoman Empire during the late 1500s where a miniaturist is murdered while working on a very special book. Each of the chapter is narrated by a different character and sometimes even by a coin, a color or the corpse of the murdered miniaturist.

night train to lisbonNight Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier

One of the most mesmerizing books I have read recently. The narrative flows beautifully even though the book has been translated from German. The book follows the story of Raimund Gregorius, a teacher of Greek and Latin, whose chance encounter with a beautiful Portuguese woman sets a chain of events where he finds himself on a journey to an unknown country to find about the past of Amadeu de Prado, a Portuguese Doctor and a writer. My favorite lines from the book are – “Can God create a stone He couldn’t lift? If not, then he isn’t almighty; if yes, He isn’t either, for now there is a stone He cannot lift.”

19841984 by George Orwell

The book which has already been translated into 65 languages, was written in 1944 and contained chilling accounts of how the world might be in 1984. The story is set in Oceania, a super state, where the protagonist Winston Smith works for the ruling party(the term Big Brother was coined for the leader of the ruling party) and who is assigned the work of falsifying political records and history. The book touches upon the theme of Nationalism, sexual oppression and censorship. Thankfully, the world did not end up as the book predicted, except for China.

the blind assassinThe Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Winner of the Booker Prize in 2000, the novel follows the story of Iris Chase and her sister Laura who commits suicide immediately after the Second World War. The beauty of the book is that there is a story within the story. As the story of Iris and Laura proceeds, the reader comes across another story of a Blind Assassin in a fictional world and his love for a mute girl whom he is sent to kill. This book is a classic example of how a story can be woven to keep the reader glued till the end. An amazing book.

the book thiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is a story told by the Angel of Death, the surreptitious soul collector who is haunted by humans and who was very busy during the Second world war. Set in the Nazi Germany, during the beginning of the second World War, the book follows the story of an orphaned girl who is sent to live with her foster parents in a small town. The family hides a Jew in the basement of their house during the war, which changes their lives in many ways. A beautifully written book.

the Color purpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker

The book won the 1983 Pulitzer for fiction and was later made into a movie by Steven Spielberg which introduced Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey to the big screen. The book takes into account the extreme low condition of the black females in the conservative society of the United States during the 1930s. The book is a series of letters and diary entries of a black woman named Celie , a poor and uneducated woman, who at the age of fourteen is raped and impregnated twice by the man she believes to be her father. And yes, the movie is as good as the book.

the-english-patientThe English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

A critically burnt English man, his nurse Hana, a thief and a Sikh Sapper named Kip form the central characters of this beautifully written book which won the Booker in 1992. The book was also made into a movie which won 9 Oscars including the Best Picture in 1996. The story of the English Patient’s past and the love story between Hana and Kip form the two parallel stories of the book.

the kite runnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a young boy from a small village in Kabul, who betrays his best friend Hassan, the son of his father’s servant, and lives in regret. The story has the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan through the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban as its background. I think enough has been said about the book already. Its a shame if you haven’t read it by now.

The Scarlet LetterThe Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

First published in 1850, this novel is the story of Hester Prynne, who commits adultery while she is waiting for her husband to return from a journey. She gives birth to a girl and refuses to identify the father as a result of which she is subjected to public shame and a red cloth(in the form of the letter A, which stands for Adultery) is attached to her gown while she is lead out of the town. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt. The book was an instant success and was the first mass produced book using mechanized printing.

secretlifeofbeesThe Secret life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

A beautifully written book, The Secret life of Bees tell the story of 14 year-old Lily Owens whose life is somehow connected to her mother’s accidental death. Lily’s black caretaker Rosaleen insults three white men one day and had to run away to save her life. Repeatedly abused by her father, Lily runs away with Rosaleen and is taken in by three black beekeeping sisters who hold the key to her mother’s past. A moving, must read book.

timelineTimeline by Micheal Crichton

If you want Science fiction with the chills and thrills of a roller coaster ride, Micheal Crichton is the best bet. Timeline remains undoubtedly his best novel, although each of his book has turned into a bestseller. The book tells the story of a group of Historians who travel back to the Middle ages to save a friend of theirs who had already traveled back in time before them. The way Crichton combines the minute Historical details with Quantum Physics and Time travel is amazing.

I hope you enjoyed the list and

p.s. A lot of the information in the post is via wiki.

Lake District

72 hours seemed to be a very long time to stare continuously at my laptop screen so a three day long bank holiday looming at the horizon spanked me into instant action last week. Discussions, Google maps, suggestions from the natives and an exhaustive search on the Internet helped me to create a rough sketch of what I wanted to see in the Lake district. Although I must confess that “Lake District” does not require such detailed Internet surfing but I like to have the details before I start. 😉

Lake District(also known as LakeLand) is an area in North West England famous for is natural beauty and its 20+ lakes and natural reservoirs. It is a very popular tourist destination and has unsurpassed and untouched natural beauty. Its a place where many poems of William Wordsworth were born and where he was finally buried.

We got up early, made some Subway style chicken sandwiches and picked up our car from the Airport and set out to explore the “real” Europe, as SRK famously said in DDLJ. I was sure that our path would keep us on the highway most of the time but we were in for a big surprise.

Our first destination was WastWater, which is the deepest lake in the district and stretches to 4.6 km. We were initially on the highway, but suddenly our path turned towards small two way roads on the hills. For an hour, we were not even sure that we were going in the right direction and blindly followed the GPS. It was thrilling and the weather added to the effect by being misty. Finally, when we reached WastWater after driving through the lush green hills, the first thing which hit us was the “untouched” natural beauty. No human intervention except for the road.

Wast Water

Someone just forgot to commercialize this beautiful lake and I was thankful. The lake was surrounded by high mountains covered in mist(this line is getting repetitive. Isn’t it?? 😐 ) with small streams of water running into it from the mountains. There were hardly any people around and we savored the quietness.

A stone bridge at WastWater, Lake District

We walked around the lake, took deep breaths and some nice shots and moved to our next destination – Grasmere.

While snaking through the hills towards Grasmere, we passed through a few small villages where we couldn’t see a single soul but a lot of animals and through pathways covered with dense trees blooming with flowers which at times swirled down as the car passed through them. Believe me, you would love to get lost in such a place. And yes, just for fun, we terrified a goat sheep too!

Shocked Goat

Grasmere is a village(the most beautiful one you can ever see) which has a lake by the same name. It became famous because of its connection with the Lake Poets and because of William Wordsworth, who lived here for 14 years and was finally buried here at the St Oswald’s Church. By the time we reached Grasmere, we were dead hungry and so after parking the car, we were searching for a place to have our lunch when my eyes fell on a perfect place to eat.

The restaurant where we had our lunch

Ducks and Grasmere

It was a small restaurant with a stream running besides it. On the other side of the stream was THE Church. I found the spot incredibly romantic. 🙂 Here is another shot.

Grasmere, where we had our lunch

We roamed around in the church after having our lunch and saw the graves of the Wordsworth family. I even bought a small handbook of poems by the famous poet.

The graves of William Wordsworth and family

We ambled around the village for sometime and the lake(where I found my dream house)…

Views around Grasmere Lake

…before moving towards our final destination – Windermere, the most commercialized lake in Lake District and England’s longest lake. Frankly speaking, I was not expecting much because I like places when they are untouched. But surprisingly, the place was not that bad. I liked it for exactly the opposite reason for which I liked Wastwater. It was crowded, with people, yachts, lakeside restaurants, ducks and boats all around. It was almost 5.30 when we reached there and there was no boat tour to Ambleside for the day, but there was a lake tour on 6.30. We took that tour and I must say that this lake has the most picturesque surrounding you can ever imagine. Check out the pictures if you don’t believe me!

Looks very romantic

Views around Weindermere - 3

Views around Weindermere - 2

Wishful Thinking

The plants are taking over!

Old fashoined wooden boats

We finally had a quick bite before moving back to Manchester at around 8. The best part is that now a day, there is daylight till 9.30-10.00 pm and you can utilize the whole day. It was a day filled with incredible beauty and all of us loved every second of it.

p.s. I am sorry for armageddon-ing you with so many photos, but I really couldn’t make up my mind about which ones should I remove. 🙂 Oh! There is one more! 😛

Birds Inline

Over and Out!

Edinburgh and Scottish Highlands Tour (Part 2)

Related post : Edinburgh and Scottish Highlands Tour (Part 1)

After roaming around in Edinburgh we all slept like a log that night. We had to wake up at 5:30 in the morning the next day to catch our tour bus to Loch Ness, Glen Coe and the Scottish Highlands. Our tour bus started from the Loch Ness Discovery Centre at the Royal Mile. I booked the tickets almost a month ago from here. This was this route, which was carved out for us for the tour. You can move or enlarge the map if you wish.

 

Our tour guide Paul was a very jovial and friendly guy and instantly made everyone in the bus comfortable. The Bus was nothing less than a mini globe with people from USA, Spain, Italy, Scotland, India, China and God knows how many other countries. Paul always made a point that we replied to all his queries with an “Aye” and “Okhaaye” so that we could become partially Scottish.

img_3969

[The highway as we moved towards Perth. The snow looks like white blotches of paint that fell off from God’s palette while he was painting]

We started our journey by crossing the Forth Road Bridge about which I already wrote in Part 1. We soon passed through Perth viewing some picturesque views of the River Tay(which is incidentally the longest river in Scotland) bending and curving with the highway. As we moved ahead, we made a stop at Pitlochry for breakfast where a pair of Italian guys was late even after constant reminders by Paul about being on time after breakfast. Everyone clapped as they entered the bus and we moved towards Killiecrankie which is famous for the stunning and ironical Battle of Killiecrankie resulting in the victory of the Jacobites and the death of their leader. 

img_3985

[The clouds cast shadow on the mountains creating beautiful scenes]

As we moved ahead, the landscape changed drastically. From cultivable land and lush green farms to barren mountains laden with snow. The scenery became more and more stunning as we progressed and whenever we made a stop somewhere, everyone jumped out of the bus to click pictures. Paul told us stories about how the Kings of Scotland have been cursed and many of them died one after another in accidents, how Macbeth(the name of the protagonist in William Shakespeare‘s Macbeth) was actually derived from the name of Macbeth of Scotland and how Macbeth(the play) was euphemistically called “The Scottish Play” because it was cursed

 

img_4001

[I am not sure but I took this photograph some where near Loch Lochy]

img_4070

[I took this photograph during the Ferry Ride on the Loch Ness trying to spot a monster!]

Moving further north into the Highlands, we crossed the village of Dalwhinnie which was famous for its Dalwhinnie Single Malt Scotch Whisky. We crossed the Spean Bridge towards Fort Augustus for some monster spotting!!! This was the only part of the tour which we had to retrace back to move towards Fort William. Fort Augustus is situated at the South West end of Loch Ness. We stopped at Fort Augustus for lunch and Paul suggested that we try some Haggis which is a Scottish delicacy. I was gung-ho about trying it but Paul did the mistake of telling us what it is made of! Although a true blue carnivore, I was somehow not able to bring myself to eat that! Next time maybe. 🙂 Instead I took a ferry ride into the Loch Ness in the hope of spotting the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Even after being in water for a good 45 minutes, all I was able to get were some beautiful worth sharing photographs. Next time maybe, I’ll see the monster raising his head out of the Loch Ness. 🙂

img_4088

[A broken and unused bridge at Fort Augustus]

After the ferry ride and a quick bite of haggis-less chicken and pork lunch, we moved back to the Spean Bridge towards Fort William. There were beautiful snow clad mountains all around covered in mist. We had our whisky sipping experience near Fort William. As we moved towards South now, we saw Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. We were not able to see the peak as it was covered with snow with a huge patch of clouds encircling it. We were informed that that is how it remains for almost the whole of the year. 

img_4101

[On our way to Fort William]

From here our bus turned towards Glencoe, the location of the Massacre of Glencoe. This was ironically the most beautiful part of the trip. We listened to Paul as he narrated the events than unfolded the night the massacre took place. We were spellbound, not just by the story, but by the beauty around us. How can something so gruesome happen in such a beautiful place? We halted at a spot in the middle of the valley surrounded by barren mountains all around us, some of them shrouded in mist and covered with snow. The place is ideal for trekking and evidently many people come for that in Glencoe.

img_4152

[The hills where the Glencoe Massacre took place]

img_4163

[Glencoe]

After Glencoe, we turned towards Stirling making a quick stop at a small village called Tyndrum. For those of you who have seen the movie Braveheart, Sterling was the place where the battle was fought between William Wallace(played by Mel Gibson) and the English army during the War of Scottish Independence. There is a monument dedicated to him in Sterling called the Wallace Monument. Although we did not stop at Sterling, but Paul did pointed out the Monument and the Sterling Castle as we finally moved back towards Edinburgh. We reached back in Edinburgh at 7:30 pm. A day spent well!! The rest of the day was spent roaming around in the city.

img_4241

[The Scottish Parliament]

img_4249

[Shocking!!! Rikshaws make a comeback!]

The next day, our train left at 12 in the afternoon, so we had ample time to have a look at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the  official residence of the Monarch of the United Kingdom in Scotland. Its a shame that we were not allowed to take pictures inside because it was the most awe-inspiring piece of architecture you could ever imagine. We were able to take pictures of the ruins of the Augustinian Abbey though. Finally we took a walk in the Royal gardens and have a look at the Queen’s Gallery which exhibits works of art from the Royal collection. If you ever go there, don’t miss the Tribuna of the Uffizi by Johann Zoffany. It is the most outstanding painting in the collection.

img_4286

[The ruins of the beautiful Abbey at Holyrood Palace]

img_4298

[Another view of the Abbey]

img_4300

[Another view of the Abbey. It was so grand that I felt like sitting there for hours]

Finally we were ready to bid adieu to this beautiful city to returned back to Manchester. There were many places which we had missed because of the lack of time. But yes, while leaving, I knew that I would return one day to see them. When we reached the Waverley station, we were surprised to know that we had a bus from Edinburgh till Lockerbie instead of a train. Well it was a blessing in disguise because at Lockerbie, we had the most delicious Fish and chips of our lives while we waited for our train to Preston

img_4318

[This is not a windows wallpaper. I took this during the bus ride from Edinburgh to Lockerbie.]

I should not say this but Manchester looked like an ugly concrete jungle after returning from Edinburgh. 😉

Edinburgh and Scottish Highlands Tour (Part 1)

Four days of Easter holidays was a good enough reason to set out for an exploration of the United Kingdom. Earlier, Switzerland and France were also in the picture but then I pictured my parents lashing out at me for wasting all that money and so I had to settle down for something nearer. Wales and Scotland were the options which came to my mind, and so Scotland it was. We planned for a 2.5 days tour to Edinburgh and the Highlands almost a month before Easter. Easter is one of the busiest time here as the tourist season starts from April and its a good practice that everything is booked well in advance. 

We started on a cold Good Friday morning from the Railway Station in Manchester and took the train to Edinburgh. The train reminded me of DDLJ and I did peeped out of the door to see if Simran was anywhere in sight! 

simran

No! Thats not her! 😦

The train journey was quite eventful as the train snaked through the lush green mountain terrains and gave us a glimpse of the life beyond the cities. We arrived at Edinburgh at 9.15 am and got down at the Haymarket Station. After a quick dump-bags-in-B&B act, we took a cab to the Waverley Bridge. It was then that the beauty of the city struck us like a bolt of lightening. 

Edinburgh is the Capital city of Scotland and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The moment you are there, you will feel a strong urge to be lost in its streets. You would want to walk around not knowing where you want to go and just absorb the beauty around you. I don’t know what makes everything so incredibly beautiful in this city. Is it the perfect blend of the new and the old? Its a city which overwhelms you instantly.

img_3599This is the Waverley Bridge. The city tour buses start from this bridge(from the point where the Red bus is standing). The Princess Mall is on the other side of the bridge. All the buildings which you can see are a part of the old town. The place where the Waverley station is built was once the Nor Loch(pronounced lo-kh), which was the city’s water supply and the dumping ground of sewage. It was drained in 1820 and a New town was created just opposite to the old town. The soil was dumped in the drained canal which created a mound. This is how the mound looks like now:

img_3617Impressive. Isn’t it? This is the National Gallery of Scotland which was build on top of the mound and the railway lines were tunneled right below it. I took this photograph while climbing the Scott Monument which is another beautiful piece of architecture built in 1845. 

img_3865This is the Scott Monument which provides a breathtaking view of the city. You can see the Edinburgh Castle and the Firth of Forth at the same time. Here is a view of the New Town. The New town was built starting from 1766 and was a solution to the ever increasing population in the Old Town.

img_3610

Coming back to the Waverley Bridge!! We took the Bus and boat tour which took us through the various landmarks of the city and finally on a boat trip into the Firth of Forth. The boat trip was a memorable experience as it took us below the Forth Road Bridge and then below the iconic Forth Rail Bridge which was opened in 1890 and is considered as the one internationally recognised Scottish landmark. 98 workers lost their life during its construction. 

img_3397The Forth Rail Bridge

img_3404The Road and the Rail bridge. Both the Bridges connect Edinburgh with Fife.

There are a lot of islands strewn over the Firth of Forth. The Ferry stops at the Inchcolm Island. You can get down there and take back the next ferry or may come back in the same one. There will be a lot of Seagulls around and if you are lucky enough(as we were!!), you can spot Seals too.

img_3436


img_3490

There are a variety of Bus tours available which you can book from Here.

After having a quick bite(which was roasted pork and duck with boiled rice for me 😉 ), we headed towards the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile in the Old Town is a mile long stretch between the Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse and is the most picturesque part of the city. We headed towards the Edinburgh castle which stands on top of a volcanic rock. The site has been inhibited since the Bronze age and the building of the present castle dates back to the 12th Century. A few pictures of the Castle, the Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

img_3660The Edinburgh Castle

img_3842The Royal Mile

img_3651The Royal Mile

img_4229The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Camera Obscura is also a wonderful place to visit. It is located near the Edinburgh castle and contains some great illusions, 3D holograms and a thermal imaging camera. 

img_3829The illusion of parallel mirrors

img_3835

We spent the rest of the day roaming around the city on foot. There was a very happy feel to the city. Everyone was laughing and enjoying and why not? It was Easter! There were Bagpipers playing the beautiful instrument and there was a man sitting near an ancient structure on the Royal Mile playing a Violin. There were people sitting in the street bars and chatting happily. Finally, we had a beer in a Bar near the Picardy Place Roundabout before heading back to the B&B. It was a beautiful day and I fell in love with a city for the first time. Now I know how it feels like! 🙂

The next day we went to the Highlands, another scarcely inhibited and breathtaking part of Scotland with some tragic history. More on it in the next post. I leave you with a few random pics.

 

img_3569

The Scott Monument

img_3859The Bagpipers at the Royal Mile

img_3594From the Top of the Scott Monument

img_3749Inside Edinburgh Castle

img_3584Inside the Scott Monument

img_3875In front of a Multiplex in the New Town

img_3844St. Giles Church on the Royal Mile

To be continued….

p.s. there are an overwhelming large number of photographs in my collection. 950 to be precise for the 2.5 days!!! If you still have an appetite left, then you can view 70 of them here. 

 

Isle of Wight Trip

Phew! I feel like an underwear in a washing machine. Life is running faster than I could have imagined and all I could do is to muster up enough strength to stand steady. Getting used to a place is not easy as it sucks out all that you were used to. For me, it sucked out blogging, and for a few days I could not gather my thoughts to put them on my laptop screen and neither could I raise my finger to open my Reader. So, apologies, dear friends! And I hope that all of you would understand! 

So, coming back to the topic, one of my roomies here returned to India last week. Before going back he wanted to go to a nice, beautiful, peaceful place and the options were very less because:

  • Usually October-March is considered off season here in UK as Winters is a terrible time to roam around.
  • He had already seen London, Scotland, Blackpool and Lake District, all of which I still have to visit. So all these options were ruled out.

The only two options left were Wales and Isle Of Wight, both of which were again under an Off-season spell. Finally Wales was ruled out too and we ended up booking a car and Preeto(our TomTom aka GPS) for three days. Before going further, let me tell you about Isle of Wight as most of you must be in an impression that its the name of a Crater on the fifth moon of Saturn. Isle Of Wight is a small island on the Southern Tip of Great Britain. Its about 257 miles from Manchester which is about a 5 hours drive. The Isle is not accessible by road which means that you have to shove your car in a ferry and take it to the isle and vice versa. During summers there is a huge advanced booking for the ferry but we were fortunate due to our perfect timings!

isleofwightmap

theisle

This is the island as you can see in the map above. We went upto Portsmouth(upper right corner in the map) in the car and then took a ferry to Fishbourne, which is on the north east corner of the isle. Ferries also operate from Southampton and Lymington. Take your pick! 

The Island is spread over an area of mere 380 sq Km and is famous for its beautiful beaches of Shanklin, Ryde, Sandown and Yarmouth. Besides the beaches there was so much to explore that we found it extremely difficult to keep up the pace. And all this during the off season! Two notable, must visit points of the diamond shaped island are the Culver cliff and The Needles. If you really want to understand the meaning of breathtaking, you must visit these two points on the island. The Needles is undoubtedly the most picturesque area of the island which looks like the end of the chalk coloured ridge which runs across the whole island. 

The Culver Cliff on the other hand was used as a defence point as it was used to keep an eye on the vast ocean all around it. There were two nine inch guns kept there but the cliffs kept on eroding and most of it was lost. Now also, if you walk along the cliff, you can see the warning boards and the broken cliffs all around. I would suggest you to park your car at Yaverland beach and walk up the cliff from there towards the last point. Its a tiring walk of about half an hour but what you will see along the way is what you would never forget. 

Finally, there were many points of interest like The Osborne house, Carrisbrooke Castle, the zoo and the Railway Museum which we missed because they were closed due to the off season. It was a beautiful memorable trip and there were a bunch of breathtaking scenes which I would never forget in my life. I leave you with a few attempts to capture them:

This is a view of the Culver Cliff from Sandown Beach. If you see closely, there is a pole like structure on top of the cliff. That is the Yarborough Monument at the edge of the cliff. That is where you could walk up the cliff. And you have to be there to understand how the vast expanse of the ocean looks like from there, sprinkled with ships and with shimmering spots of sunlight strewn here and there.

img_28632

Well, this is what I was talking about. A few pictures of the view from the top of the cliff.

img_3127

img_3122

img_3104

Here are a few pictures I took while I was walking up the cliff

img_3052

 

img_3070

 

img_3062

The Yarborough Monument

img_3098

img_3019

img_2993

We woke up a 5:30 in the morning on the second day and went to see the sunrise. It was freezing cold and apparently we were the only one on the Sandown beach. The island loves to sleep!

img_3006

And that’s me, staring at the Sun.

img_2960

I took this picture in Portsmouth from the upper deck of the ferry. The ferry was about to move towards the isle and I saw this building just next to the port. Isn’t this a beautiful place to live? Sitting in the balcony, sipping tea and looking at the vast expanse of the ocean and the huge ships moving around you!

img_2761

View of Portsmouth as the Ferry moved away from it. By the way, Ferry seems to be a mild word for that ship. There were atleast 60 cars in it when it left Portsmouth!!!

img_2765

Thats the “Ferry”!!!

img_3173

The Needles was another fascinating point of the island. We reached there after the Sun had just jumped into the sea and the play of colours on the sky were seen to be believed. Here is a view of The Needles as we moved towards the edge of the cliff.

img_2883

This picture was taken while we moved towards the Needles. Everyone was coming back after seeing the sunset and we were the only ones who were moving in the opposite direction. 🙂

img_2904

That is the view of The Needles from the nearest point. It was quite dark by the time we reached there.

img_2929

A few more random pictures:

This was taken while the ferry left the British mainland.

img_2777

Taken at Ryde Beach. Are these Seagulls? They made an awful lot of noise.

img_3135

The sleeping city in the morning.

img_3011

An unknown castle on our way to a beach. Don’t know the name.

img_3021

What a way to go up!!!

img_2863

Water gushing up during a high tide. The foot of the Culver cliff which is accessible during the low tide and are great for an evening walk are completely immersed in water during a high tide.

img_2977

This was taken from the ferry back to Portsmouth as the sun set behind the isle.

img_3193

And finally I would like to dedicate this post to Preeto, our Tomtom(GPS) who was very patient with us and always guided us with her sweet voice even when we went off track atleast 5 times! We love you Preeto!!

img_3213

Feminism, A and the Award

Ages ago, I was tagged by Nita and Sulz and till now I have been shamelessly ignoring the tags. But the guilt is killing me and I must finish the task assigned to me. Keeping the melodrama aside, I’ll start with Nita’s tag. This is what she tagged me to write about.

What does Feminism means to me

First of all, I was not sure what the word meant, so I landed up in an online dictionary and this is what popped up there : 

fem·i·nism n.  

1. Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

2. The movement organized around this belief.
Ahem! Well, I think, the socio economic structure of the society in which we live plays an important role in determining the level of the “movement”. When the First wave came, India was still fighting for its freedom and there was no way it could have affected her. When the second wave came in the 1960s, India was all up and ready for it. Even today when we are in the third wave, an American society is much mature when it comes to a woman choosing the kind of life she wants to lead. In India, we still beat up the girl if she falls in love with a guy outside her cast. Infact, even if you compare the freedom given to women in a city with a small town/village in India, you would be shocked by the difference. After three waves, we still have to go a long way in India. Even after having laws in place, there are rapes, sexual feminism1harassment, forced abortions, forced reproductions, domestic violence etc and what not! People still think that women are vulnerable because they are weak but its just because of the kind of environment we are all brought up in. I am sure any woman who is a black belt in Karate can throw me two feet towards the sky with a single chop. 🙂
The problem is in our brains. We are wired in a wrong fashion from the time we are born. Women are not born vulnerable but are taught to be so. Similarly men are not born strong. They pick it up from what they see in their family and surroundings. I could never understand how we reached a stage where a human has to ask for her rights? And what surprises me is that we are still there. 
All these issues are way too big, but people need to understand the basic rights of an individual. I can understand when a father asks her daughter to return home before twilight because raping a girl is becoming an activity as common as wiping your ass with a tissue. But, I cannot understand when he asks her to forget the guy she loves because he does not belong to the same community. I find that laughable. Similarly, I don’t believe that a homemaker is worse off than a working woman. Its a very individual choice and depends on many factors. Equality of sexes certainly does not mean that a woman has to work to be a true blue feminist. 
It all boils down to the theory of Live and let live. We all make sacrifices in our life, but let’s not force someone to make a sacrifice because of her gender.

The alphabet A

aSulz’s tag. I have to write 7(?) words starting with alphabet A. I am putting up words which describe me. Here goes :

Absurd – Yes!Yes! I am ridiculous, illogical and senseless at times, but then even God is sometimes! So you see, no one is perfect. 😛 

Able – Leaving aside the fact that I am destiny’s favourite toy, I am quite able if I am left to my own means. If I find something interesting enough, I’ll take it up with perfect dexterity till the time I get completely bored of it. I told you I was absurd! 😛

Assiduous – I have obtained this quality from my Mom. Whenever I have to shop for clothes and I take her with me, she picks up clothes which are poles apart from my taste and then both of us “assiduously” attempt to disparage each other. 😐 Well, I consider it to be a good quality. Atleast I pick up clothes of my choice and I always win! 🙂

Aloof – I can be alarmingly aloof with strangers, so much that I am mistaken as an Egotist whose nose is always at an angle of 80 degrees from the ground. Many of my friends were surprised when they dared to know me better after that initial cold shoulder. 

Amiable – Well! That is what I actually become once I allow you to be my friend. 🙂 Its a difficult path and only a few daredevils have dared. 😛

Anchor – Whenever I become a part of a group, I end up becoming the anchor which holds the group together after everyone moves away to their new life/city. I met a group of friends recently after 7 years and again(!!!!) it was me who made all the phone calls and arranged the meeting. Good old Amit!

The awards

Finally, the awards. I was given the Friendship Embracelet by Kiran sometime back and the Garland Award by Kanagu. Thankyou both of you. 🙂

friendshipembracelet

 

garland

That is all guys and girls. Over and out.

Can I live please?

bloodI went to Barakhamba Road yesterday. I was standing at the exact place where the bomb blast happened last year. I moved my right ankle in a semi circle to displace the dirt on the road. Maybe I was trying to see if it was still red? I went there to meet my very old friends whom I was meeting after a gap of 7 years.  While standing there I realized how fragile my own life was. I have a lovely family, adorable friends, a good job and some dreams, but someone can press a button and everything will vanish in a second. I just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Moving around in Connaught Place yesterday gave me this creepy feeling. I loved that place! I have some beautiful memories of C.P. but now there is always this fear that its not a safe place. The old warm feeling has died. Its gone.

Whom should I blame? Whom should I blame for embedding this fear in my heart? The fear that I might have to see a mingled, limbless, burnt body of a family member one day? The fear that I, who just want to lead his normal life and live happily ever after with his family and friends, might be blown apart the very next second?

Should I blame the Indian Government? Indians have a “Get used to it” attitude towards everything. Someone is littering on the road. Get used to it! Spitting? Get used to it! Corrupt policemen? Get used to it! BOMB BLASTS? Get used to it! Ofcourse, the Government officials also suffer from the same disease. It took thousands of people flocking the roads of Mumbai and carrying derogatory posters to wake up the government and to make them realise that there is a difference between butchering humans and butchering goats, to make them realise that they were chosen to protect us, to make them realise that “Get used to it” is not going to work this time. We, the citizens of India, choose politicians and give them bullet proof vehicles and 50 black cat commandos each from our hard earned money, not because they can feel safe and forget about the common man who is as vulnerable as he always was. Thinking and mulling over something is good but there comes a point when action is required. How long did the Pakistan Government took to sack its National Security adviser after he confirmed that the lone surviving terrorist is Pakistani? And how long did the Indian Government took to decide “something” about what Mr. A.R. Antulay said? The difference is stark and naked, and THAT is the problem with us. Having a pessimistic and defensive approach does not work when your neighbouring countries are a breeding ground for terrorists. War can never be an option, but can the  government at least come strong on our own security agencies and the police force? 

Or should I blame the Pakistani PM? He is trying every trick to make the world believe that its an internal problem of India. Infact, after his latest statement today, which says that – Why is the world more concerned about the Mumbai attacks than the killings in Palestine? ‘‘We have to see that the world does not have double standards. See how many innocent women and children have been killed in Palestine. Why is nobody talking about that? Why is the world silent on that?’’, I have decided not to follow the buffoonery anymore. Its tormenting. I think its high time that the Pakistani PM stops using the forced and mindboggling euphemisms and tell India to go to hell. That would be at least honest, if nothing else! Whether it may be Mumbai or Palestine, you would be glad to know Mr. PM, that it is me, the common man, who is dying.

I don’t care about the political mud slinging matches which Indian and Pakistani politicians are indulging in right now. I don’t care about and I am not a part of the various religious groups which are fighting their mindless and stoical wars by killing innocent people like me all over the world.

I just want to live happily. I want to love the city I live in. I wan’t to roam fearlessly in C.P. I want to believe that I will live to see my dreams fulfilled and will not be shot through my head while celebrating a friend’s birthday in a hotel or when I am at a railway station to receive a family member. Am I asking for too much? Is it too hard to achieve this? Is it too hard to stop fighting over pieces of lands, stop turning terrorism into a profession, stop waging wars in the name of religion?

Or is everything too complicated now to move it backwards? 

The Book Thief

“When everything was quiet. I went up to the corridor and the curtain of the living room was open just a crack….I could see outside. I watched, only for a few seconds.”

He had not seen the outside world for twenty-two months. There was no anger or reproach.

“How did it look?”

Max lifted his head, with great sorrow and great astonishment.

“There were stars,” he said. “They burned my eyes.”

The Book Thief is a story told by the Angel of Death, the surreptitious soul collector who is haunted by humans and who was very busy during the Second world war. He encountered the book thief thrice and it was a pleasure which he cherished forever. The Book Thief is a story of many people narrated by the soul collector.

It is the story of Liesel Meminger, who stole the first book when her brother was being buried by the gravediggers. The Gravedigger’s Handbook started her love affair with books in the troubled Nazi Germany. Her first act of thievery in many more to come. Liesel was sent to live with the Hubermanns, her foster parents, who lived on Himmel Street in Molching. Himmel means Heaven. 

It is the story of Hans Hubermann, Liesel’s foster father. A kind man and a Jew lover who was not afraid to offer his services to a Jew whose shop was vandalised. It was Hans who taught Liesel to read her first stolen book. Every night when Liesel woke up screaming from her nightmares, Hans sat with her and they read the Gravedigger’s Handbook. He whitewashed the wall in the basement so that Liesel may practice her spellings on it.

It is the story of Rosa Hubermann, Liesel’s sharp tongued foster mother, who called her husband and her daughter by names like Saukerl(bastard) and filthy pigs, to display her love. Who beat up Liesel when she did a mistake and loved her equally. Who sat with her husband’s accordion clutched tightly in her arms as moonlight swayed over her and as Liesel watched her from the door of the bedroom when Hans went to fight in the World War.

It is the story of Max Vandenburg, a Jewish refugee, who turns up one fine day on their doorsteps and change their lives more than anyone could have imagined. The Jew whom they hide in the basement of their house and who stayed there for so long that when he had a glimpse of stars, they burned his eyes. The Jew who painted the pages of Mein Kampf in white so that he could write his own story on it and present it to Liesel on her birthday. The Jew who was bound to Liesel with his own nightmares in which he fought the Fuehrer in a boxing ring.

It is the story of Rudy Steiner, Liesel’s neighbour on Himmel street and her best friend. Rudy who was crazy about Jessy Owens and madly in love with Liesel. Who jumped in the river to get her stolen book back, stole apples with her and helped her to steal books from the Mayor’s house and always asked for a kiss in return, which he got eventually at the end when it was too late.

After The Kite Runner, this was one book which again touched a raw nerve. I picked up this book because I liked the name and reading it was like living with all those people I have mentioned above. The book sucks you in and you can feel the pain and smell death. You actually see the Jews being marched on the Himmel Street. Starving and waiting to be killed. You see the Mayor’s wife, who lets Liesel steal from her huge library by leaving the window open. You see the people of Himmel Street bundled together in the basement of a house when the air raids start while Liesel reads one of her stolen book to them to divert their minds from the fear of death. There are so many timeless pages and memorable characters in the book who will always remain with you. The central theme of the book is Death and words. As Liesel learns how to read, she realises that its words which have held people in Hitler’s spell. She begins to understand the spell which words can cast to bring love as well as destruction. 

Written like a dream, this was one book which I had to recommend, although I have read many books after The Kite Runner. A powerful book of our times which should definitely be made into a movie.

Rating – 4.5/5

Author – Markus Zusak

Protected: A Bygone Life

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: The Burning Taxi and the Eggless Mob

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below: