Friday, August 14, 2009

Off to the woods ...

... with family ... for my birthday weekend. Goodbye chaos; wilderness, here I come!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Grapes of Wrath

The back cover of the book by John Steinbeck has the writer's quote: " I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied". I found this quote so intriguing that I ended up buying this book instead of the other Steinbeck book (East of Eden) that I had set out to buy that day. I must say The Grapes of Wrath left me with similar feelings that his novella Of Mice and Men had left me with earlier .. sad, dissatisfied and a bit depressed.

The Grapes .. chronicles the journey of the Joads - a farmer family from Oklahoma, who drive hundreds of miles to California in search of greener pastures (in the form of a steady job and food for the family) during the Great Depression. The transformation each person in the family goes through, while battling hunger, deaths and misery; is beautifully captured. The author has also described the principles of demand and supply (availability of farm laborers and their wages) and capitalization (large corporates controlling farm produces and in turn, making small farmers broke) in a very simple way. He even writes the conversations exactly the way an Oklahoma farmer would speak - somepin for something, purty for pretty, ast for ask .. and such like :)

It definitely is a great read if one is not looking for a they-lived-happily-ever-after kind of a story.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Poetry in Stone - Belur & Halebid Temples

Having heard about the magnificent carvings at Belur and Halebid temples from all my friends, I jumped at the opportunity when my team at work decided to head to these places last Saturday. The fact that the place is only about 4 hrs' drive away and this is the perfect season to visit added to the temptation. So all 12 of us started on the journey in a minibus at 6.15 AM. One of the girls from the team, Gisha, even took the pains of preparing & bringing hot sandwiches for all of us (our breakfast-on-the-go)! The drive was very scenic with acres of corn fields on both sides of the road and patches of marigold plantations.
First we reached Belur, which is about 200 kms away from Bangalore and has the famous Chenakeshava temple constructed in 1117 AD by kings of Hoysala dynasty. The construction spanned over 103 years! The carvings on these temples are so intricate that one can even see fine lines on palms and toes of the statues. Apart from religious figures, the chief attraction are the 42 dancing ladies (or madanikas). The expressions on their faces, each hair strand and delicate filigree work of their jewelry looks stunningly real. The earrings, bangles and anklets of some of the figures even rotate! All the carvings are on soapstone (or steatite), which is softer in the beginning and grows hard with time.
After spending about 2 hours at Belur and tucking in a sumptuous lunch, we headed towards Halebid. It is located 16 kms away from Belur and boasts of an equally beautifully embellished temple of Shiva called Hoysaleshwara temple, constructed in 1120 AD. The temple also has a huge statue of Bahubali in its premises and the figures inside the temple and on its outside walls depict social and mythological characters of those times. The Halebid temple had manicured lawns surrounding it giving it a cool serene look.

The last stop of our trip was Gorur dam - built on Hemavathy river and located about 60 kms from Hassan. Two of the dam's gates were opened to release excess water. The sight and sound of water was very relaxing. We started on our journey back to Bangalore soon after that and got home after midnight. Each one of us having cherished the trip. We would all look back fondly at the time we had spent admiring the myriad handiwork of artisans from centuries ago...

Pictures taken by: Senthil, Nikhil & Anbu