Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A bug and a mug

Daund, 2011

One early morning, I found this bug on my mug in the kitchen sink.

I quickly took out my camera and take a shot of both of them, the bug and the mug. The print on the mug said "All men are the same darling... they just have different name". It was my coffee mug that I carry wherever I went in India.

The bug look scarred enough to come out. So, I took him outside.

It tried very hard to get out.

It cannot jump, thus it crawled further.

I took more shots of him as he was looking fairer under a bright sunlight, still so scared to crawl down.

Finally, I lifted and kept him safe under the bushes. And a mug is now becoming Deepika's coffe mug.

The end!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Maharashra State, Daund Taluka

Pune-Solapur 4-laning Expressway
From: August 2011 - December 2011

My new assignment took me to Daund on 5th August 2011. My boss accompanied me from Delhi Airport to Pune Airport for a proper introduction with the project team. It was on the 4th day of the fasting month. From Pune Airport, we had to drive almost 2 hours to reach our site office in Kurkumbh. It was another 15 - 20 minutes more to reach Daund, where most of our staff stays.

Daund is a small city and a municipal council in Pune district in the state of Maharashtra. It has a population of 41,907 and 13% of them is under 6yrs old (facts from wikipedia). It is a very important Railway Junction where train traffic from Mumbai going southwards to Banglore, Chennai, Hyderabad pass through Daund. Also trains going North wards to Delhi, Jammu from Pune and Goa have to pass through Daund. The town is about 9 km from the junction to National Highway. We are constructing 53km of NH9, as Section 1 Main Contractor to TATA & Atalia JV Concessionaire.

The place has a total land area of 1290 sqkm. It comprises of 65 villages with three rivers, Mula, Mutha and Bhima. Lakes like Warvad, Kasundi and Matuba falls under Daund Taluka. Wheat and sugarcane are grown here along with sweet lime and oranges. Farming is the main occupation of the people in this area. A sugarcane factory is also situated in this reign. Most of the chemical factories in Maharashtra have been shifted to some ares in this reign and are called Chemical Zone of Maharshtra. Daund also holds 2 major Police reserve groups SRPF. The city is located between river Bhima, a tributary of the Krishna river and 3 mountains on its other side.

On the second week, I decided to go to Pune town for some banking works. The office driver informed that he needed to fill the petrol at our Plant where we saw the horses in the above 3 photos were. It was very lucky that I brought along my camera and second luckier as the photos were save in my FB notes. Else, I wouldn't have them to share in my blog as they have the same fate with others loss nonrecoverable photos in the damage hard disk.

What I always admired when travelling daily to office is the views of the rich Maharashtra agricultural land. The horses in the above 3 photos were enjoying the green grass in the month of August 2011. But those grasses turn yellowish and dried due to winter in December 2011. Please see the difference in the above photo, also taken in Daund.

That was our plant behind the group of walking ladies in their colorful Saree, a common view in the village. The photo is a courtesy from our PD, Mr Warren. Mr Warren and I shared similar passion in photography but he is much more learned than me.

The above photo and all below photos was also taken by Mr Warren. I was with Gary's beautiful wife during a gathering at Ajit's house in October month. 

For those who may not know or never seen before (like me), it is an Onion flower in the above photo which is a common view along the project highway.

Another great work by Mr Warren. A night view of Kurkumbh.

Last, but I hope not least is a photo evidencing the project successful in launching the ROB (Rail Over Bridge) in the 3rd quarter. Mr Warren sent the above photo when I was in Vijayawada. Sharing is caring. I wish to dedicate this entry to our team in Kurkumbh, especially to Mr Warren, Gary Ong, Ajit and others Malaysian who will finish the project by 1st quarter of 2013. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Almatas (Cassia Fistula) in Delhi

June 2011, Delhi

When I was assigned to our Delhi office for 4 months from May 2011, I shared a company guest house in Safdarjung Enclave near Green Park with other colleague. It was beginning of summer and the Almatas tree started blooming. Seeing them twice a day while going to office and return, I cant help but asked Ram to stop the car near the roadsides for me to get a closer look of them. It was like heaven to see the tree turned yellow with no leaves but flowers. Let's get our self enlighten with the information obtained from the website about Almatas.

Almatas scientific name is Cassia Fistula, known as the golden shower tree, a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae. It is a native plant to southern Asia, from southern Pakistan east through India to Mynmar and south to Sri Lanka. 

Cassia Fistula is associated with the Mullai region of Sangam landscape. It is the national tree of Thailand, and its flower is Thailand's national flower. It is also state flower of Kerala in India and of immense importance amongst Malayali population. It is a popular ornamental plant and is an herbal medicine.

The golden shower tree is widely grown as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas. It blooms in late spring. Flowering is profuse, with trees being covered with yellow flowers, many times with almost no leaf being seen. It will grow well in dry climates. Growth for this tree is best in full sun on well-drained soil. It is relatively drought tolerant and slightly salt tolerant. It will tolerate light brief frost, but can get damaged if frost persists.  The tree will bloom better where there is pronounced difference between summer and winter temperatures.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Maharashtra State - Aurangabad, City of Gates

Date of visit: 11th December 2011

I first laid my eyes on a picture of "Bibi Ka Maqbara" in the Spicejet flight magazine during a flight from Delhi to Hyderabad sometimes in June 2011. It was a big wow as I opined that the building is a miniature and/or resemblance of Taj Mahal. Since then, I had my wish to visit Aurangabad, said to be the City of Gates. The meaning of Aurangabad is "Built by the Throne", being named after the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. To me, it was like visiting Aurangzeb though I did not managed to pay a visit to his tomb in the Dargah of Hazarat Khaja Jainoddin Siraji Jah, Khuldabad. His tomb was very simple as he wished. His son's tomb, emperor Azamshah who built Bibi Ka Maqraba is nearby his grave.

An entrance gate to the mausoleum of a foliage designs on brass plate on wood covering, seen in below photo. The mausoleum is built on a high square platform with four minarets at its corners, which is approached by a flight of steps from the three sides. A mosque is placed on the west of the main structure a later addition by the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Local kids on a school tour listening to instructions and briefing by their teacher. Beautiful!

Emperor Azamshah built a majestic memorial on the style of Taj Mahal of Agra to perpetuate the memory of his mother Dilras Banu Begum. The monument's name translates literally to 'Tomb of the Lady', but has earned the nickname 'poor man’s Taj' because it was originally planned to rival the Taj Mahal. The father, Emperor Aurangzeb gave Azam Shah only Rs.7 lakhs for the construction, whilst, the Taj Mahal is said to cost Rs.32 million.

Archaeological Survey of India has installed below informative Board in the entrance of Bibi Ka Maqbara describing it's history. The 2 sisters with their daughters in the picture with me are our travelling companion.

The mausoleum is encased with marble up to the dado level. Above the dado level, it is constructed of basaltic trap up to the base of dome. The dome too is built of marble. A fine plaster covers the basaltic trap and given a fine polished finish and adorned with fine stucco decorations.

The sanctum

Daulatabad is a fort built by the Bhillam V of Yadav dynasty in 1187 AD. It came under Khilji Sultanate of Delhi in 1318 later made the capital of India in 1327 by Tughlaq Dynasty for 2 years, before it was abandoned due to lack of water. The Mughal and the last Nizam of Hyderabad among the last 2 rulers till 1948.

Daulatabad is located at a distance of 15 km northwest of Aurangabad and midway to Ellora group of caves. The original widespread capital city is now mostly unoccupied and has been reduced to a village. Much of its survival depends on the tourists to the old city and the adjacent fort. There are Chand Minar, a 210 ft height tower, Chini Mahal (ruin palace), Mughal Pavilion and monuments.

It will take at least half day to explore and walk within the Fort, thus, we decided to view the external part without even going inside. After a quick stop for Asar prayer at a nearby mostque, we headed back to Daund through the dawn time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Federer vs Tsonga, QF Aussie Open 2013

It was raining when I came out from the office today. Thus, it took an hour each trip to and from work for my case, mostly everydays. However, I'm getting used to KL traffic by now. What I did was, discipline myself to wakes up at 5.45am everyday and made a pont to leave house before 7am. It gives an ample times for me to have breakfast, reading newspaper, applied make-up etc etc. And in the afternoon, I'll leave office sharp at 5.30pm before the road started to get crowded and jam the traffic, especially along Federal Highway. By 6.30pm I mostly home.

Hubby had joined a tennis club somewhere near Sg Long, where our new house is going to be built. He's been playing 4 to 5 times weekly nowadays compared to once a week at his regular tennis court in Jalan Duta belonging to National Sport Centre. There, he had his tennis colleague since the last 10 years. He was watching Roger Federer playing against Wilfred Tsonga in Australia 's Open 2013 in his tennis attire. He informed sourly tha he couldnt play as rains started earlier in Cheras area. So, I joined him deciding not to cook tonight. The game was already at the 3rd set. Hubby looked so tense as Federer did made numerous enforce error during the game.

As we both admire Federer's skill and being his huge fan since he first won the 1st Wimbledon, we get so stressful and tense with high hopes that he will win all the matches.

The photos that I wishes to share here were some of his action, expression and skills shown in tonight's game. Also attached a photo of Serena William lost to a world ranking 26 from USA.

He made it to the Semi Finals. 2 more match for another grand slam!

Jim Courier, ex USA tennis player doing the interview. I watched Jim Courier played in KL once.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Maharashtra State - Ellora Caves, Part 2

Exploring "The Ellora Caves", Part 2
Event date: 11th December 2011

The Hindu Group of Caves are from Cave No. 13 to 29 which stands out eminently because of the grandeur of its architecture, abundance of sculptures and variety of subjects. The episodes from Hindu mythologies are found animated here in the form of sculptures. I'm personally amazed with the closer looks of these sculptures as it has a different types of emotions, sentiments, different bodily actions, variety in jewellery, clothing and hairdressing are so skillfully carved stands before us as living models.

Cave No. 15, was where I went up alone as it seated a little higher than other cave which requires staircase climbing (many steps). It is a double storey cave temple influenced by Buddhist caves no. 11 & 12. The largest images of Shri Ganesh and Nandi (in below photo) is the main attraction. As soon as you landed the top of the cave, you may encounter a Mandap (4 square building) which was sculptured with lions in Greek style.

Below is Cave 13, "Ravan Ki KHai', the 1st Hindu cave. It's style, architectures and sculptures are different from the Buddhist cave. All it's walls are occupied by a large sculpture panels. There is no idols in the sanctum beside the broken image of Goddes Durga. There are a large male and female guardian sculpture on the doorways. 

Cave 16, Kailas is the highest peak of architecture cave in the world. The creation of this temple is credited to Krishna 1st of Rashtrakut dynasty. The carving work commenced from top down using only chisel and hammer. During the carving process, the huge rock in the middle was preserved for the main temple, providing vacant space for devotion hall and multi storied side galleries. The dravidian architectural style has its dominant impact on the caves with rich colored paintings. Over the times, the painting colors faded and very few of the painted areas remained to be seen, especially at the main prayer building.

Both sides of the gateway have large sculptures, including 8 goddesses guarding 8 directions called "Dikpals", a large and beautiful panel of Gajalaxmi greets the visitor to a starting point of the spacious open area surrounding the temple and the lofty pillar along with the elephants (on both left and right sides) as can be seen from below photo.

At the side of the main palatial structures are another minor 1 also with grace and splendour carvings, which clearly shows the impact of Dravidian architecture. Just behind the temple, a sight of steep hill rock carved with skillfully arts and crafts of epic from Mahabratha and Ramayana are clearly visible. Every carving has its own story.

We have to walk quite far to go to the next temple. At this point, the boys started to protest when their picture was taken as the weather is getting hotter. Therefore, once we passed caves No. 17 - 20, we called the driver to send us straight to Cave No. 29 and thereafter to the group of Jain Caves, No. 30 to 34.

While all my family member & the driver were happily opted to wait in the car, I went alone inside Cave No. 29 & 28 to explore its beauty. The cave no. 29 is the second imposing and finest of the Hindu Caves after Kailas, being called "Sita Ki Nahani @ Dhuma Cave". It has 3 sides entrance with each entrance has a pair of seated lions on its steps. Inside, the sanctuary of the cave is very big, having entrances from 4 sides. Dancing Shiva, Ravan shaking mount Kailas, Shiva-Parvati marriage (below photo), Shiva-Parvati playing dice and Shiva killing andhrakasur are some of the large scale sculpture panels on the walls of this cave.   

In here too, I was gazing to a group of monk with their colorful attire from Thailand. I sat a while at a bench near the sanctuary having a peace moment by myself, thanking God, when the leader, seen in the photo below insisted to have our pictures taken, and I said "Sawadeekap" when his assistant helped me with the photo.

Ganesh and Jogeshwari group of caves is located at the upper side of the caves 28 and 29 on the bank of Yelganga river. A small bridge between these caves is constructed to cross the river. The river flows through several small waterfalls in this region. As it was winter, we miss an opportunity to see the numerous waterfalls within Ellora Caves. Caves no. 27, 26 & 25 seen from below photo taken from Cave No. 28.

The group of Jain caves are located at the distance of 1 and a half km from the last Hindu cave, No. 29. All the 4 caves are continuous on a ground level near a foothill, belonged to Digamber Jain Cult. The temples are adorned with intricate and graceful sculptures and designs. 2 out of 4 caves are incomplete works for unknown reason. Below photo was taken inside Cave No. 32.

The boys were happy playing with a friendly squirrel inside the Caves No. 32, forcing me stayed longer and listening to their nonsense reason why must we bring back a beautiful creatures.

Secretly, I too admired this beautiful squirrel. It would be pleasant to have their company at home.

After an exhausted tour, we adjourned for a very lavish and reasonable charged meal at a restaurant along the road to Aurangabad. Everybody gives a huge thumbs-up to the meal and the ambiance.
My next entry is our tour to places of interest in Aurangabad, including a visit to Bibi ka Maqraba.
to be continued....