Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Time for Change

T of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

This is my last blog on elections and voting in the A to Z challenge.  Tomorrow is an important day, the day Mumbai goes to vote in the Lok Sabha elections in the biggest democracy of the world.
 

Why should you vote?
  1. You can avail discounts at enterprises that are promoting voting!
  2. You can take a selfie and post it on facebook, twitter, Instagram and all the social networks you are part of!!!
  3. Get some value from the money that has been spent on the election.  It is your own money you have paid in Taxes.
  4. You don’t think the current government has done enough in developing the country. Roads are still bad, power cuts are still long, education is not for all, security is weak, women are not empowered, jobs are few, corruption was rampant, the neighboring China has skyrocketed its development when we were at the same starting point but we are where we were 10 years back, promises are many but actions are few.
  5. Voting brings about accountability. If the government does not perform, it can be voted out.  If however, it knows people don’t care enough to vote if it performs or not, corruption will continue and development will not.
  6. Each vote makes a difference. Really it does.  If you don’t vote, it increases the chance of a bad candidate to win. Take responsibility for your actions if governance is bad then. Shed the cynicism and vote!
  7. Vote for a candidate or party you think will make for a stable government, a responsible government, and one who you think will bring true development to the country.
  8. You have the right to choose who will rule you. Unlike non-democratic countries where citizens cannot choose who will rule them and may get tyrannical leaders or ineffective leaders, Indians get to choose. It is a privilege no less. 

Your office may or may not have declared a holiday.  You may have a train to catch on the voting day, you may have an important meeting that day…time will never be enough for our routine tasks, but this is an important occasion to celebrate once in five years..so make time for it!  You can start as early as 7:00 a.m. and vote till 5:00 p.m.

Scenic Switzerland

S of the A-Z Challenge

I visited this gorgeous country many years back and can still vividly remember the beauty that it was. Images of green pastures, spotted jersey cows, ice peaked Alps, misty mountains, scenic water falls, cosy churches, and every road prettier than the last come to mind.  Here are a few pictures from my visit.  It is little wonder that so many romantic movies in Bollywood have been shot here! You can also visit my post of long ago for more pictures and the journey here -











Tuesday, April 22, 2014

R for Richland Talk

R of the A to Z Blogging Challenge



Yes, that is the name of my blog.  It has been many years since I started blogging and what a fantastic journey it has been! I may not have blogged very regularly in the past, but it has been one of the things I have enjoyed doing.

Richland Talk has been a place to Rave, a place to Rant, a place to Review, a place to Record and a place to write on what I think is wrong or Right! Between home, and office, and a few vacations here and there, I guess, this blog is somewhere ‘different’ that I can go to during my time off.

If I have not thanked you dear Readers earlier for all the support, please let me do it now. Your visits and comments have kept me going and helped me keep this blog alive. It is through this blog that I have discovered so many more amazing writers and friends who I may not have even met, but have formed a connection with.

Dear Reader and Friend, I hope to see you around this space again and again!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Quaint encounters

Q of the A-Z Blogging challenge

In my travels, as limited they may be, it is astonishing to turn the corner and find something quite out of the ordinary in the middle of the city.  An old world charm here, an interesting piece of history there, something incongruous in the middle of a busy street, a different culture all make for quaint.  Here are a few pictures of my ‘quaint’ encounters. What are your quaint encounters?


Toy train at Elephanta island, Mumbai

A houseboat in Kerela
Oud perfume and Oud holders in Oman

Tram at Kolkata, India
Vintage car museum, Udaipur

Cobbled streets and stone walls of Cuzco, Peru



Friday, April 18, 2014

Photographing the baby

P of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

Ever since the day she was born, all I wanted to do was to take photographs!  Record her every moment. Be it crying, sleeping, smiling when she was awake, smiling while sleeping, wailing for a toy, recording her first or second or third or zillionth flip to her tummy, and all her possible actions (or inaction). 

Those first three months saw me with a battery of cameras, tablets and phones clicking her all the time. As the days passed by, her movements increased and became stronger, and it became increasingly difficult to obtain a still image quickly!  And then, my mum used to wonder why I am taking so many photos incessantly…well, out of say 20 photos, only one would come out 80% right! Now the latest obsession is videos instead of photos.  If a picture is worth a 1000 words, a video is worth a 1000 photos! It makes everything come alive in pictures and has sound as well!

There are several professional services that have baby photography as a service offering.  Most of them charge exorbitant amounts for a handful of photographs (5-10).  The photographs usually include the use of props, the baby in usually a sleeping pose, a naked baby, black and white pictures, and pictures with the parents.  Much as I would have liked to have one done, the price was too much to pay and the fact that SSS hardly slept for the first three months made it impossible to have a photoshoot for a reasonable amount of time. The photographs of such shoots are beautiful of course, and way better than what we amateurs can take. However, there are plenty of resources online as well that provide tips and tricks on baby photography, and though I didn’t try too many of them, I must say, they are quite helpful if you end up using them.

I use a Nokia 925 phone for all her photos and videos.  It is great to be able to take photos and share them instantly over wifi or 3G on Whatsapp or social networks.  It is also easy to make any edits to the photo using this phone.  The very reason I bought the Nokia 925 was because it boasted of a fantastic 8.7 MP camera and I must say I am quite impressed with the picture quality.

 Now that one set of her grandparents don’t get to see her frequently, it has become a ritual to take a video a day and a photo a day at minimum for them to be able to see her progress. I guess by the end of her first year, I will have a fine collection of videos of her each day!

Some tips for photographing babies that I read here and there and used -
  • Google for those adorable new born baby poses and use them in photoshoots
  • Don’t use any unsafe pose that may harm the baby. Professional photographers usually photoshop those amazing poses of those levitating babies!
  • Use all sorts of props – headbands, cute caps, baskets, colorful pillows, colorful backgrounds to get that perfect photo
  • Use a bean bag with different covers on it to get awesome snaps
  • Choose the time of the day when the baby is the least cranky. For new born photographers, the sleeping baby is a good time
  • Try different camera angles
  • Clear up the background – remove the diapers, hankies, too many toys, etc. before focusing on to the baby
  • Take photographs of the baby in the same place/background, with a toy perhaps, to prepare a monthly progress photo calendar
  • Get someone else to make your baby laugh if you want a smiling photo.  She may just stop smiling when you point the camera at her!
  • Post some pics on your social media, but please don't do this every day! She may be your darling, but other people may get bored! Share them privately instead with the people who want to indeed see them
P.S: I did finally manage the professional photoshoot at a reasonable price and the pictures are totally worth it.  Here are a few pictures from the photoshoot and otherwise.

 











Thursday, April 17, 2014

Off we go..

O of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

There was a time when we used to just dump a few clothes in a backpack and go on the spur of the moment out for the weekend!  Well, gone are those days, and every outing over 1 hour is planned with much packing involved!  A whole list of things needs to be checked on before we dare venture out.  Sterilized milk bottles, milk formula, extra handkerchiefs, wipes, diapers, a clean cloth to put her on, a hat, an extra dress, toys (and just one won’t do), boiled water to prepare her milky concoction are all packed in the bag with much care. For a one night trip to Pune to visit family, SSS hogged one full suitcase space which was three times her size! 

If you plan to pack the bag with the baby around, be prepared to have her pack herself into the suitcase, very helpfully unpack all that you have packed, flee with the bottle of lotion and tuck it away in a corner behind the door, upset a glass of water into her clothes, poop atleast once, try to eat the diaper, and finally, you just dump everything and zip the suitcase hoping all that is required is in there! Of course when you get to your destination, you realize that the all-important baby toiletries bag has been left behind and you have to rush to the medical store to buy everything again!

 And it is not just one bag you pack, her handy travel bag also needs to contain one of everything her big suitcase contains and trust me this is even more important than the big suitcase.
The day you think you’ll just hop across to the neighborhood store without the BAG, she  will not need just a change in the diaper but also a change in clothes! Even if you have just fed her, don’t you think she won’t get hungry again in a few minutes!



Forget the designer bag you bought to match with the shoes.  That has been substituted with the capacious baby bag now! Oh well, one of the few minor sacrifices Mom’s have to make J.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nursery Rhymes - Not that innocent!

N of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

I sing a lot of nursery rhymes to my baby daughter these days.  We learnt these very same nursery rhymes as kids and they continue to be very popular still. However, as an adult, I have now started delving deeper into some of the lyrics that seem downright violent.  After some research, I discovered that many of these are not as innocent as they seem.

It is funny to know that the story behind many of these nursery rhymes alludes to political histories, atrocities, diseases, and religious intolerance!

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown and
Jill came tumbling after

Going up the hill to fetch a pail of water sounds bad enough, and poor Jack broke his crown, is probably much more serious than a happy occurrence! How poor Jill must hurt after tumbling down the hill!




Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?
Really? Cutting off tails of blind mice with a knife? – This rhyme actually refers to Queen Mary 1 of England burning and executing three Protestant bishops

Peter Peter pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well!
The Poor poor hostage wife!

Georgie Porgie pudding and pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.
Certainly not the right rhyme I would like to hear in this day of violence against women!

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!
Everything about this is violent!

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs.
This probably refers to the anti-Catholicism wave in England’s history where Catholic priests were hidden in secret chambers in houses.

There are many more poems that I wouldn’t like to sing to my baby girl anymore, but well, perhaps it is best to not look too deep into the meaning unless it is not downright explicit. I will continue to sing Ring-a-ringa roses to her.  She’ll not know how it alludes to the bubonic plague!

For more such rhymes you may be interested in links below.

References-
http://www.funlinksdaily.com/10-nursery-rhymes-with-dark-origins/
http://bookdirtblog.blogspot.in/2011/10/15-most-disturbing-nursery-rhymes-youve.html
http://listverse.com/2012/11/28/10-sinister-origins-of-nursery-rhymes/

Myriad M Musings

M of the A to Z Blogging Challenge


I thought of a variety of topics I could write an M post on –
Magnificent Mangoes, Mini Marathons, Maudlin Motherhood, Mythical Mahabharata, Manic Mondays, Memorable Moments, Multi-tasking Moms, Magical Memories, Majestic Mountains, Mad Mornings, Mainstream Movies, Mythical Moorings, Melancholy Melodies, Mysterious Murders, Melodramatic Movies, Mellifluous Melodies, Maximum Mumbai, Multifarious Mumbai, Minimal monochromes, Mischievous Monkeys, Menacing Monsters, Messy Marriages, Mundane middle-class, Malicious Magazines, Misty Mornings.


But Alas! The M day got over by the time I finished finalizing my topic, and now I am just leaving you with a few beach photos of Marvelous Mauritius where I had a Merry trip to break from the Monotony.







Monday, April 14, 2014

LOST: A fantastic television series

L of the A to Z Blogging Challenge




I have never written a blogpost on a tv show earlier, but this is one show I have raved about for long enough to merit a post. 

Touted to be one of the greatest dramas that unfolded on television history by fans, LOST caught the imagination of millions of viewers around the world who were hooked to the adventures of survivors of an Oceanic flight that crashed on an unknown island. With several characters in shades of white, black and grey, and a gripping story with tight editing, LOST was a runaway hit.

Story
A drama interspersed with some science-fiction based on the lives of the survivors of the flight is the theme of the serialized story. Episodes are around the lives of the characters off the island and on the island. After surviving on the island for a few days, the survivors realize that they are not alone and that there are ‘others’ on the island who might want to kill them.  The story veers from the characters onto the secrets of the island in subsequent seasons – on its electromagnetic nature, its healing properties, the propensity to not allow pregnant women who have conceived on the island to survive, how there are people mainland who are desperately searching for the island, etc,

You can read all about the story and characters on Wikipedia so I will not delve deep into it. 

What I liked
What I liked about the story was the gripping storyline that seemed to have and had a finite ending unlike the rambling shows on Hindi TV. However impossible it might seem, the plot was constructed in a seemingly logical way and even made us believe when it shouted out for us to ‘believe’ the impossible parts, A wow location at Hawaii where it was shot was fantastic too. Crisp editing was another strong point. 

However,the greatest asset to the serial was the presence of very strong character roles.  Each of the characters were well suited to the roles they played, from Jack the Doctor, who wanted to always ‘fix’ things, to Ben, the manipulative leader of the ‘others’. My favorite though was ‘Sawyer; the suave conman and Kate the fugitive on the run.

Although the end was debatable and several open ends were not closed, all in all, a great series had ended when it did and the journey through it was enthralling as it was entertaining! I miss a show like that!


Veering back to reality, RIP MH370, the real life Malaysian plane that was never found after its journey on March 8.

Some interesting links for LOST fans - 
http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page
http://www.losttvfans.com/
http://lost.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kerala - The poster state of Incredible India

K of the A-Z Blogging Challenge

My first visit to Kerala was many years back when I was visiting a food grain processing plant to inspect a ‘paddy-husk boiler’ on a paddy farm.  Back then I didn’t have a mobile with a camera or a camera during my visit to Palaghat or Pallakad as it is known, but some images that have stayed with me from that first visit include a mass of green in every frame, lush paddy fields, a verdant scenery with fields and coconut trees, a lovely natural skyline that I had never seen before in India, and the scenery that completely changed from a picturesque luscious green to an unremarkable brown and green when I crossed the state border.

Many years later when I visited this state, on a very short trip, I found that little had changed. The emerald hues were just as enchanting, and the scenery was just as idyllic unspoiled by ravages of civilization.  This state has much to offer to leisure tourists and with all there is to see and do here, it is little wonder that Kerala is the poster state for Incredible India!

What can you see here and what are the key locations? –

  1. Beautiful vistas of lush green farms – peep outside the window while travelling across the state
  2. Unspoiled beaches – Kovalam, Cherai, Varkala
  3. Pristine Hill stations – Munnar
  4. Tea-gardens - Munnar
  5. Coffee plantations – Wayanad
  6. Houseboats on tranquil backwaters – Alleppey, Kumarakom
  7. Relaxing Ayurveda treatments, - Across the state
  8. Amazing wild-life sanctuaries – Thekkady, Wayanad
  9. Quaint cities – Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur
  10. Exotic Katthakali dance – across the state
  11. Exciting snake boat racing - Alleppey
  12. Majestic temple festivals
  13. Ancient temples – Padmanabhaswami Temple at Tiruvananthapuram, Ayyappan Temple at Sabarimala, Sree Krishna Temple at Guruvayoor

A few glimpses from my brief visit on the back waters of Alleppey –

A Houseboat

Cruising along the backwaters at Alleppey

All grace - A Katthakali Dancer

A walk in the fields

A lotus blooms!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jerome K Jerome - Humor writings

J of the A to Z Blogging Challenge


Of the many writers I have admired, Jerome K Jerome (JKJ) is one who has made me nod my head and laugh out really loudly in public places where I might be reading!  While I admit that PG Wodehouse was the king of humor writing, JKJ has also given us books that are downright crazy but utterly believable.

There are two acclaimed books which I particularly enjoyed and have read over and over again – Three Men in a Boat, and Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.  While the first is a splendid travelogue on adventures of three lazy friends and their dog Montmorency who take a boating and camping trip on river Thames, the second is just a series of essays on various topics. 

A few memorable lines from Three Men in a Boat that still make me laugh –



My tooth-brush is a thing that haunts me when I’m travelling, and makes my life a misery.  I dream that I haven’t packed it, and wake up in a cold perspiration, and get out of bed and hunt for it.  And, in the morning, I pack it before I have used it, and have to unpack again to get it, and it is always the last thing I turn out of the bag; and then I repack and forget it, and have to rush upstairs for it at the last moment and carry it to the railway station, wrapped up in my pocket-handkerchief.

 “I like work: it fascinates me.  I can sit and look at it for hours.  I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.

A few quotes however may not do justice if you get a chance to read the various anecdotes narrated in the course of the book and the journey.

The story of Uncle Podger who fixes a painting ‘single-handedly’ after enlisting the help of the whole house, finding lodging at one of the stops, opening a tin of pine-apple, cooking food are all hilarious.

A few quotes from Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow –

On Being in the Blues – “I can enjoy feeling melancholy, and there is a good deal of satisfaction about being thoroughly miserable; but nobody likes a fit of the blues. Nevertheless, everybody has them; notwithstanding which, nobody can tell why. There is no accounting for them. You are just as likely to have one on the day after you have come into a large fortune as on the day after you have left your new silk umbrella in the train. Its effect upon you is somewhat similar to what would probably be produced by a combined attack of toothache, indigestion, and cold in the head. You become stupid, restless, and irritable; rude to strangers and dangerous toward your friends; clumsy, maudlin, and quarrelsome; a nuisance to yourself and everybody about you.”

On Dress  - “They have a wonderful deal to do with courting, clothes have. It is half the battle. At all events, the young man thinks so, and it generally takes him a couple of hours to get himself up for the occasion. His first half-hour is occupied in trying to decide whether to wear his light suit with a cane and drab billycock, or his black tails with a chimney-pot hat and his new umbrella. He is sure to be unfortunate in either decision. If he wears his light suit and takes the stick it comes on to rain, and he reaches the house in a damp and muddy condition and spends the evening trying to hide his boots. If, on the other hand, he decides in favor of the top hat and umbrella—nobody would ever dream of going out in a top hat without an umbrella; it would be like letting baby (bless it!) toddle out without its nurse.”

On Memory – “It seems as though the brightest side of everything were also its highest and best, so that as our little lives sink back behind us into the dark sea of forgetfulness, all that which is the lightest and the most gladsome is the last to sink, and stands above the waters, long in sight, when the angry thoughts and smarting pain are buried deep below the waves and trouble us no more.”


Go ahead and enjoy his books for free from Project Gutenberg!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Illumination

I of the A to Z Challenge


When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, I wonder if he realized what a revolutionary device he had created.  But I am not here to talk about how the light bulb changed our lives.  It did change the way the world operates and the use it has is just stupendous.

Apart from its daily use, the light bulb has also been used to embellish and illuminate buildings and celebrations.

As the world moves on to energy saving mode, I just wanted to share some pictures of illuminations that have stayed with me. 

The New York Times Square is the most visited illumination perhaps in the world.  Bright hoardings stare at you from everywhere you look at.  If the lights aren't enough to light up your life, the delightful happy atmosphere of photo taking tourists surely will! My very favorite illuminated place!

The Empire State Building as illuminated on occasion of the Indian Independence day makes for a resplendent sight 
Diwali is a time when all buildings in India are done up and dressed in twinkling lights and lanterns to bring in the light into lives and homes

The Disney Castle in Disney world is every girl's fantasy and a reality in the Disney park!

A  delightful parade I can watch over and over again with characters from fairy land prancing about in a jolly atmosphere!

A natural illumination of a beautiful sunset I could not resist posting!