Sunday, June 17, 2012

For those who write and read

“A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man – or this woman – may use a typewriter, profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I have done for 30 years. As he writes, he can drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time he may rise from his table to look out through the window at the children playing in the street, and, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or he can gaze out at a black wall. He can write poems, plays, or novels, as I do. All these differences come after the crucial task of sitting down at the table and patiently turning inwards. To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy. As I sit at my table, for days, months, years, slowly adding new words to the empty page, I feel as if I am creating a new world, as if I am bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way someone might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone. The stones we writers use are words. As we hold them in our hands, sensing the ways in which each of them is connected to the others, looking at them sometimes from afar, sometimes almost caressing them with our fingers and the tips of our pens, weighing them, moving them around, year in and year out, patiently and hopefully, we create new worlds.”
― Orhan Pamuk
(This was posted on the facebook page of the author today. I am merely sharing it here)

Saturday, June 16, 2012


This mouth watering food blog got me interested in Amritsar the first time (Yes, not the Golden temple or Jalianwala Bagh or Wagah border but a food blog!!!) because I just happen to love good food and I am ready to become a travelling mule for it, and thus this article had me drooling.

Thus, the moment, Jacob, mentioned that he wanted to explore Amritsar and invited me to join in, the weekend trip was set and we plunged with our usual enthusiasm to plan how to reach, where to stay, what to do, in short how to get the maximum travel experience we could get out of the 3 days we had. And after countless the usual second thoughts and discussions later we were ready with everything in place.

Amritsar located in Punjab, India, is known for being the seat of Sikh religion and culture due to the Golden Temple. It is well connected from New Delhi by trains and flights ( u can check any travel websites for the details or click ) best time to visit being from October to March.

Deciding to brave the 42 degree summer heat, we landed in Amritsar after an uneventful 6 hr train ride, went over to Radisson Blu, a relatively new but beautiful property, on the outskirts of the city (it's location being it's disadvantage, as u are left with very little options to explore the city, if u wish to explore the city and enjoy the food this property is not for you). That night we decided to explore a punjabi cultural haat called Rangala Punjab at the Haveli Resorts in Jalandhar about 2 hours away from Amritsar. Instead of the hotel cab, we used a local cab service (Arora Travel Agency), which charged us half the price with excellent service.

Rangla Punjab is set in the form of a small punjab village, with tableau showing life in a punjabi village, a cultural  programme of Bhangra, Gidda, plays etc with an open air stage and sitting arrangements on traditional jute cots, an amateur magic show, some games and a traditional punjabi meal  at the restaurant (all this in 440 INR)


The India way of doing popcorns

Punjabi thali in Punjabi dining style.

playing Stapu

Trying my hands at Pottery.

The open air sitting area.

It was fun imbibing the ambience of rural punjab and indulging in games, trying hands at pottery, watching the performances (which were pretty average though).

The next day was dedicated to being tourists, we started at 1 (this time taking the hotel tour package), went to Jalianwala Bagh, in the crazy heat ( U can google for the gory history associated with it. ) then enjoyed a finger licking meal at Surjit food plaza (one of the yummiest chicken that I  have ever had) before heading off to the Wagah border (about 30 - 40 mins away from Amritsar) for the evening time closing of gates ceremony at the India Pakistan border. (The ceremony takes place twice a day once in morning and once in evening any local person or hotel staff where u are staying can provide u with the information)

Wagah border 

The Jallianwala Bagh

Guard Ceremony at Wagah.
Huge crowd and street dancing.

Flag races

The ceremony included patriotic songs and street dancing, a few races by some enthusiastic adults, flag lowering and salutation ceremony by the army on both sides of the gates, but to get to all of this meant braving a long walk of about 1-2kms (because the car parking is about 3 kms from the area of the actual event) in the heat with dust, a mammoth crowd and  a huge scare, when for a silly security theater, I and Jacob got separated in the male and female queue, not knowing where and how we would meet in the crowd (more scary since cell phones don't work in the area due to army jamming). But we did manage to catch up with each other again and then using the entrance for foreigner's gallery (basically it's a huge stadium like area with steps for seats, a part of which is reserved only for foreign visitors) which leads to a sitting area reserved for foreign travelers we were seated on the stone steps of the open air auditorium (which turned out to be a real time pain in ass). As for me I found the whole ceremony pointless (probably 'cuz I believe in world with out border, thus making it difficult for me to identify with the concept of nationalism) but to Jacob it was a celebration of nationalism, but we were both glad when 45 mins later the ceremony was over and our poor bums were relieved.  

After getting back, we had our usual lengthy dinner (lengthy enough to make two or three food posts) before leaving to visit the Golden temple. The temple is a beautiful sight at night, the Gurudwara, decorated with real Gold is situated in midst of a man made lake and thronged with devotees. And being a Sunday the queue was thousands long, when we reached, but thanks to some cooperation from the locals we managed to get in. (Tip - u need to keep your heads covered within the complex)
The Golden Temple at night

The temple periphery.

Golden Temple during the day.

It was beautiful experience, followed by an equally wonderful discussion sitting on the edge of the lake before we decided to call it a day. The next day I decided to visit the golden temple again to see it during the day, while Jacob explored the city. We decided to get lunch from Beera's (which was good, but not as amazing as Surjit's) before returning back via an adventurous and hilarious train journey (I'll leave that story for another blog post)

We had an amazing time, which could have been much more amazing if it would have been winters, 
 but still we had our fill of the travelling experience and memories.