Sunday, August 12, 2012

OSTENTATIOUS OLYMPICS

OSTENTATIOUS OLYMPICS

Participating in the Olympics is a dream for every performer, athlete, gymnast, sportsman etc. To live this dream in our teenage left me and my dear friends in my dance class, exhilarated and exultant.

The moment we were conformed of this dream-cum-true trip to London of performance, we were completely enthralled. What an honour? We were lucky to represent India - Art and Culture, through our performance of a 3000 year old dance tradition of our land. Yes, we were the cultural ambassadors of our country to project and present the pride of Tamil Culture, Bharatanatyam. This thought made us feel very proud and responsible. We started our vigourous practice for the show. Our Guru, Smt. Sheela Unnikrishnan has choreographed two special pieces of dance in the Melattur style of Bharatanatyam, specially for Olympics performance. The first one is Nataraja Sthothram, a dance which is an exotic blend of Yogasanas from Pathanjali's Yoga Sutra and Karanas and Charis from Bharata Muni's Natya Sastra - a dance set to Pathanjali's Sanskrit verses, in praise of Lord Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer. Since Olympics is all about gymnastics and fitness, this piece too involved difficult postures from Yoga and high level stamina which kindled a positive energy and spiritual awakening in us, the dancers and the viewers alike. The second one is a joyful number which was set to the tune of Sankar Mahadevan's voice with the five colour rings that make the Olympic symbol. This one was a tribute to the London Olympics 2012 from our dance school, Sridevi Nrithyalaya in Chennai.

During our rehearsal all our friends and parents were thrilled and appreciated our hard work for the show. Not only our parents, but all our co-dancers and their parents too felt proud of us and encouraged us to improve more in our presentation. Smt. Srimathy Kesan, the head of Space Kidz India, who organised the "Team India Peace", the eighty member group for the performance in the Olympic Park, London was overwhelmed with pride and joy to see our preparation for the program.

Our arrival at the London Gatwick drove us energetic and hyperactive. The long flight failed to withhold our enthusiasm. We along with the other dancers of India were hosted in London by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd along with ECE. A warm welcome was given and we were transferred to a comfortable stay. The next day we were taken to an office were we were given London 2012 Olympic Park Accreditation passes to enter the 'high security' Olympic Park Artistes entry. We were spell-bound with the volume of the preparation made there. Something beyond our imagination.  When we entered the Olympic Park arena, everyone of us were awestruck by the scenic beauty and the ultra-modern stage  which stood in contrast admist the green meadow, exhibiting the taste and style of English and their high value for fine arts.

The whole setting looked as if it had come out of a fantasy story book. When it was our turn to perform, a sudden of wave of nervousness had set in. But the moment we started our dance with the Nataraja Sthothram, the ambience swallowed us in; Raga Lavangi from our great Carnatic music, in which the music for the dance was set, took over our soul; feeling of eternity flew through every vein and nerve of us. DANCING IS BLISS! We swear that it would not be exaggerated to say that the Realisation of the Supreme was felt by each one of us with our great art. The warmth and hospitality of the British in their land was too cozy for all that made us forget the bitter experience with them in our History. Love is great! Our eighty member Team India's performance was well-recieved and was shown with a big round of applause and wild cheering at the end.

Following this, our five member Bharatanatyam group was honoured and invited to perform in the India Campaign for Olympics 2012 which is held at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London on 1st and 2nd august 2012, being organized by the High Commission of India and Nehru Centre, London. The other dancers of Team India Peace too performed. We started our performance with an invocatory Vignaraja Mallari on Lord Ganesa and later presented our two other dances which we prepared for the Olympic Park show. All the rasikas, both Indian and foreign appreciated joyfully about our dance and expressed utmost gratitude towards us for bringing the rich and priceless art of Tamil Nadu to their place. We the young dancers felt absolute feeling of patriotism to be proud Indians and to be fortunate enough. Our art has reached every soul beyond the barriers of rasicm, language, culture, political and geographic boundaries. Truly gifted we were to experience this wonderful moment. It was just, plain blissful.

Besides the dance performances, we were taken on sight seeing tours around the beautiful London city by the local hosting companies. Big Ben, London Bridge, London Eye, Thames River Cruise, Madam Tussauds and what not. Everywhere, we recieved a warm welcome and respectful treatment. Our dream of going to the great London came true as a double bonus, as we were also offered a chance to visit the city as artistes and cultural ambassadors of India, performing our divine dance form.
With me were my friends Sheha , Simran and samyuktha .

This is an article written from the heart of the luckiest Bharatanatyam dancer from Chennai, Bhairavi Venkatesan (IX - B)  of Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram  JAI HIND!!!!

(Do not be puzzled, the fifth dancer was our escort cum dancer my mother, Shobha Korambil from Sridevi Nrithyalaya, Chennai)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

PAST TENSE

I started as a trickle,
Nothing about me fickle
Down a pristine glacier I flow;
Merry, bright and all glow.

Twisting and tumbling over pebbles
With foam, froth and spherical bubbles
I swirl and surge day and night
Through dawn, dusk and even twilight.

What is this? A new terrain?
Through my shallows flow a drain.
I am being pelted with waste and garbage
Cans, cartons and even a rotten cabbage.

I slow my spirit, cautious and wary,
Feeling like a pitiful quarry.
'Is this what I was born for?' I wonder
"To be harassed at every meander?'

I merge with the sprawling ocean
which looks nothing like a calming salvation.
Through a sudden epiphany I realised my friends,
That my happiness was long gone and is now past tense.



by Bhairavi Venkatesan

Thursday, March 31, 2011

You can Leave Cricket but cricket will not leave you


video
"India is a Cricket crazy  Nation" I have heard these words and read them 100 times but did not understand the mean until today when India beat Pakistan in the world cup semifinals. Its 2.00 a.m in the morning. I would never do this crazy thing of sitting and blogging at this hour. The reason I am doing this means ,I am an Indian and I have gone crazy. I had earlier tweeted that while the whole nation would be indoors glued to the television sets I would like to go out and explore how a quite Delhi would look like. I had given up the quarterfinal game against Australia an headed for the wonderful discourse of Swami Parthsarathy. That victory in quarterfinal did not stir up the emotions of the nation as against the game against Pakistan. While most of the offices closed for the afternoon to allow its employees to catch up with the game, I decided to be at work as normal. One solace was that the live streaming of the game on internet would make to stay updated. After what happened today I got a new Philosophy " You can leave cricket but cricket will not leave you" . The theory of Karma is again at play here. As I reach office I get called by my boss to come over to my head office to sort of some urgent work. Here I am regretting that well my dreams of watching the game on internet is all thrashed and as day proceeds I am confined to my boss chamber with more and more work. Finally the time arrives. Boss gets busy and I am left alone in her office with a TV for all my self. I am wondering at my luck to watch India play live on the TV which is much better than that on the internet. India finishes its innings. The Nation is disappointed. Its not a great total on board. Defending it would be a challenge. I leave the office and accept an invitation from a friend to join him for the dinner at his home. As the Pakistani side gets to slide the excitement is in the air. I leave my friends place for home. but Cricket does not leave me. The driver of the bus I board had the commentary loud in the bus. I sense India is closer to an historic win. I disembark from the bus and again cricket is following me. I pulled to a near by cell phone shop where the game is live on TV and a large number of locals have gathered around and cheering. I join this group and see them all erupt once the victory is achieved. As the game comes to an end the deserted streets are once again busy and people are out to take the victory lap. Cricket is following me again. I meet up with the inmates of Venkat club house -Neel & paul .We rent a cab and head out to India gate. It looks that all roads are leading to India gate. I have no adjectives when it come to describe the scene there. Thousands has poured in there in cars and bikes waving the tri colour with victory cry. Men, women, boys ,girls are all there dancing to the tunes of bollywood music blasting out from car speakers. Its at most bedlam . This moment can only be experienced not explained. I have never seen the city coming out and celebrating this way. It was like my being in Rome in 2001 when the team ROMA won the Italian league. I wonder a victory over Sri Lanka in final would not stir this kind of spontaneous celebrations. For all of present there ,It was like India winning the Finals.

The SMS started pouring and this is when I realized how stupid our mobile operators are. They did not not anticipate India's victory and so did not implement their " Looting Tariff" for sms that they normally do for the big holidays. So here is cricket, the greatest religion in India which is a great leveler.

I started the day with no intention to watch the game but then ended up getting immersed and so " I can leave cricket but cricket will not leave me. Jai Ho

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Eating Gujarati In Delhi

My friend Mariellen Ward  informed me how India was  left out when the  listing of top destinations for food was  drawn up by popular travel publication  and the outrage it received from the readers. Well the publication will have its way .

I am likely to end up being called biased when I say "I  feel so fortunate  to be  living India" which according to me has unlimited options when its comes to eating. My words are not to be taken as propaganda . India truly is a "gastronomy delight"  and my friend  who is more right than "Paul Rockower" the young Jewographer and Public Diplomacy guru who believes in India  in "Gastro diplomacy" strengths.

Let me now come to this story of my craving for Gujarati Food in Delhi. Since I turned vegetarian six years ago I have been regularly asked this question " Is it not hard  staying veg" . Well my only reply has been being vegetarian is  bliss and the variety of options that Indian cuisine further enhances this "Bliss".

Gujarati food has always captured my imagination. My earliest introduction to this food was the lovely rajdhani restaurant in Baba karak singh road in New Delhi. This is without researching I invited by friend Mariellen who is visiting  Delhi to Join for lunch. When I arrive at the place I see this place closed and with no clue to look for another place close by I end up eating again at the legendary "Saravana Bhavan " restaurant in C.P . Mariellen says' Check out every place in Delhi before you go there, Delhi is fast Changing" How true. As  I tend to return home  disappointed at not eating my Gujarati meal I get this call from my friend Manish to join him in his office . Manish is now into big time into Pilgrimage travel and the greatest pilgrimage season of "Chardam yatra"  will start  6 April 2011.

As I enter Manish's office I see there a Catering Unit from Gujarat discussing the menu options for the Gujarati pilgrims  taking the Chardham. To my surprise of surprises I am offered to join in for dinner at a hotel where this catering team will roll out an elaborate Gujarati menu for us to test and taste. This is what I call a "Mouth Watering Offer"  . Its dinner time and I have the delicious "Kichidi with Gujarati kadi , Kaju karela , Bhindi , Kaman Dokla , Aaam Ras and soft rotis come up to my plate. Its was a real treat. This meal today inspires me to pack my bags and head to Gujarat to try more options. ( Mr. Amitabh Bachan are you hearing this. After you its the food of Gujarat that is inspiring people to go there.)

As I head back home after this great dinner I end up thinking how I was disappointed in the afternoon in missing my Gujarati lunch and here I am going back content after this big Gujarati Dinner. I call this work of "Karma"



Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Dimension to Adventure Tourism in Kashmir


It was a great sight for the people of Behrampora, Dhobiwan, Kunzer of Kashmir Valley to see a beautiful object flying above their villages in early hours of the day. They could make out three persons standing in a basket hanging from a huge balloon and waving to all the crowds who tried to follow them many of then up to 3 to 4 Kms through the fields. Some were excited to see this type of adventure activity first time in their life . It was a Hot Air Balloon run by Indian Institute of Skiing & Mountaineering (IIS&M), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Gulmarg first time in the Valley after a long spell  .   The balloon took off from a barren patch near Behrampora village and flew 12 Kms. towards Kunzer, Dhobiwan and Budgam. It was a trial flight by Indian Institute of Skiing & Mountaineering (IIS&M)  who have just finished 5 snow skiing courses at Gulmarg.   Indian Institute of Skiing & Mountaineering (IIS&M) is planning multifaceted adventure activities through out the year which will include water skiing and para sailing in  Dal Lake, White Water Rafting & Paragliding in Sonamarg, Mountaineering & Trekking in other parts of the valley. Hot Air Ballooning by IISM has put new lease of life to the tourism in Kashmir.
 The flight also aimed to remove fear from the minds of tourists who hesitate to visit Kashmir. Such activities if under taken in an earnest way can transform the fortunes of the people of valley by making it better than all the destinations of Europe . The Balloon is now doing trial flights at Gulmarg and Srinagar. IIS&M plans to continue with these aero adventure activities to make Kashmir as an exciting adventure tourist destination of the world. More info at www.iismgulamrg.com

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Experience New Festivals in India




It has always been a challenge to those marketing destinations to pick up new ideas that will immediately sell and excite the travellers to pick up their bags and decide to move . The destinations have tried everything to get the market attention . India is never short of travel ideas when it comes to telling people the true story . Many of you are now familiar with the phrase " Incredible India" and as one of our advertisement copy say " 365 days 1365 Festivals" its is this festivals that offer a great opportunity to experience the destination. One such festival is the " Pongala Ritual" at the famous Attukal Bhagavathi Temple in Tirvandrum the capital of " Gods own country - Kerala

It was a news to me when I was told this is the world's biggest devotional congregation of women. This year it was estimated that over 2.5 million women participated in this festival taking over miles of street space at Trivandrum, Kerala.

It was a wonderful sight to see women drawn across all sections of society take part in the ceremony sitting on roads around the temple to cook the rice & jaggery with coconut called " Pongala" and offer to the Godess Bagavathi to seek her blessings.
The ritual normally begins in the morning when the e temple's priest lights the hearth in the temple kitchen with the flame taken from the sanctum of the temple. The devotees follow this immediately and light their respective hearth.The ritual concludes in the afternoon with the priests sprinkling the 'pongala' with holy water.

Next time you plan a visit to India check out there must be one such unique festival in the vicinity of the place you are visiting. Its time to move away from the traditional guided trips and experience something more authentic. This is the time for reality travel.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Holy Haridwar




Living in Delhi is a great boon when it come to options available for weekend getaways.The opportunities are immense and with a love for Travel I have chose the path of travel to get away from the weekend monotony and get rid of the stress. Travel any time is the best bet to fight stress. Uttarkand some how has caught my imagination and when some asks me to list my favorite destinations in India I end up listing all the 90 percent of my favorite destinations that are in Uttarakand. Haridwar is one such town. the Holy Haridwar as I wish to call it. The Magic of Hardiwar is to to experienced and cannot be explained. I have now been there several times just to be at the ghats of Ganges and experience the power of faith. Every visit to haridwar has been a different experience. The best part of the experience is to have a dip in the ganges in the evening and sit at the ghats waiting for the evening Aarti( Prayers). During certain important bathing dates there is sea of Humanity waiting to immerse itself in this experience. The sounds of bells, the setting Sun and Aarti song for the Mother Ganges makes one connect with the eternal and feel inner peace. There are all kinds of people one encouters here and just watching the people go about their prayers in itself is an experience. Haridwar will see the Kumbh Mela in 2010 and Since time immemorial the Kumbh Mela has been a center of hindu faith. This evnts is (particularly the maha Kumbh) is said to attract the largest congretion of humans any where in the world. The kumbh mela attracts the participants from all the walks of life across the globe.
Come be a pat of this wonderful experience called "Holy Haridwar"