Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Great Ocean Road - 1

Just before Christmas, we decided to go on a vacation to one of our dream trips to the Great Ocean Road. Prior to the trip, we made reservations at Hotel Marrengo at Apollo Bay for 2 nights. We decided to drive all the way. We were told that the drive may take upto 4 hours from Melbourne especially if we stopped in between. Our main concern was if our one and a half year old daughter would be able to sit through the journey.

So we set off on our journey on the sunday morning. The drive upto Geelong was like any other drive with the glimpses of the city life. The real Great Ocean Road drive begins from Torquay. Torquay is the most wanted destination for surfing. Bells Beach in Torquay is supposed to be the surfers' paradise. As we drove along, we caught the first glimpse of the ocean. It was surely breath taking! We stopped at every possible place where we could get the view of the ocean.:)

As we went further, on one side we could see the roaring ocean and on the other side stood the rugged cliffs. What surpised us was the abundant green vegetation so close to the sea! I had never seen that in India. There is a particular sea-side vegetation in India ( usually the palm trees and the coconut trees) and the forests are never so close to the sea. On the way, with some exceptions , most of the seashore is covered with rocks. And you can always stop anytime to get a feel of the beach.

Between the towns Anglesea and Lorne, there is a lighthouse known as Split Point Lighthouse. For every 30 minutes, there is a guided tour in this lighthouse. But we decided to just walk arond and get a feel of the surroundings. I got to know that this lighthouse is referred to as "The White Queen"(cute, isn't it?).

There is this famous Eagle Rock just behind the lighthouse.

Our next major stop was at Lorne. It is one of the poular destinations because it has some of the finest beachs and the thick rainforests. It is also a town with a diverse range of eateries. We found a pizza and a pasta place and our growling stomachs were finally at peace.

After peeping into some local shops there, we went to Erskine Falls nearby. If you are an avid trekker, then you will be able to visit lot of waterfalls in these rainforests. Well, as we much as we loved trekking, we were also concerned about doing it with Tunga. Hence we had decided upon places where it would be easy to carry her. So you can almost park your vehicle very near to Erskine Falls. There are steps that lead to the base of the waterfalls. But we preferred to have an overview from the top. I must say that Erskine Falls reminded me of Abbey Falls in Coorg.

We continued our journey on the Great Ocean Road again. As we had stopped at so many places in between, all the three of us were a bit tired. So we drove down to our hotel at Apollo Bay. The drive from Lorne to Apollo Bay was amazing. It is one of the beautiful sights I have ever seen.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Are you a feminist?

A friend asked me if I were a feminist. And this question popped up because I demanded a recognition for myself as an independent individual and not just as someone's daughter or a wife or a mother.

I came home later and started looking for the real meaning of feminism. I got some definitions from the web:

- Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

- A doctrine that advocates the equality of women and men.

- Feminist theory aims to understand the nature of gender inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations and sexuality. Feminism is also based on experiences of gender roles and relations. Feminist political activism commonly campaign on issues such as reproductive rights, violence within a domestic partnership, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence. Themes explored in feminism include patriarchy, stereotyping, objectification, sexual objectification, and oppression. ( Taken from http://www.womensstudies.eku.edu/what/)

Well, let me summarize what my thoughts are:

* Today there is no field where women are not a part of. You will not be able to find any type of job where women are not involved.

* But I also understand that by nature the physical strength of a man and a woman are very different. I have always felt that though men are physically stronger, women are mentally tough. We go through periods, PMS, pregnancy, post-pregnancy times, menopause and endure so much pain that makes us tougher all the way.

* Today a woman contributes financially by being a career person and also looks after family and home. It is definitely an applaudable feat. At the same time, it does not take away the credit from the home makers who have dedicated themselves to look after their family and home. I always look upon them as super human beings because they are capable of handling everything alone.

* Many a times, we would not mind being in the shadow of our loved ones. We would be the happiest when our men take the limelight.

So with all these thoughts, sometimes if I ask for an individual identity for myself, does that make me a feminist? If I say that I am proud to be a woman and I should not be looked down upon, does that make me a feminist? Then maybe I am one.:) I am also glad that I have a daughter who would earn an identity for herself and become proud of being a woman.:)

I found this beautiful quote on http://www.womensstudies.eku.edu/

"I have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat." - Rebecca West, 1913.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Raag - Anuraag

"Raag - Anuraag" is a music CD brought out by Parameshwar Hegde Music Academy.

Before I go into the details of the CD, I would like to give a short intro about Pandit Parameshwar Hegde.

Pt. Parameshwar Hegde hails from a small village in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. The musical environment in his family initiated his study and interest in music. He learnt Hindustani classical music under the guidance of Sri.S.M.Bhat and Sri Pt.Chandrashekar Puranika Math. Later he pursued studying music under the tutelage of one of the masters of Hindustani classical music- Pandit Basavraj Rajguru.

Today Pandit Parameshwar Hegde is one of the known faces and one of the famous voices in the arena of Hindustani classical music. He is an A grade All India Radio artist and has given numerous national and international concerts. His mellifluous unblemished voice, his tans and his strong hold over the raag through his versatile sargams have always enthralled the classical music lovers.

He is also contributing to the promotion of Hindustani classical music through "Rajguru Smriti"- a foundation that he has set up in the memory of his guru, Pandit Basavaraj Rajguru. Rajguru Smriti holds concerts of well-known and upcoming artists from all over India on various occasions every year. Pandit Parameshwar Hegde has also been instrumental in training and promoting the young talent through the "Parameshwar Hegde Music Academy".

Okay, now let me come back to the inroduction of the "Raag - Anuraag" music CD. As mentioned before, this CD is a product of Parameshwar Hegde Music Academy. This set of 2 CDs consists of khayals and semi-classical compositions in 24 ragas sung by the disciples of Pandit Parameshwar Hegde. The semi-classical compositions include devotional songs, natyageet and film songs. An introduction to every raag precedes the composition.

Why was I impressed by this CD?

- If you are a novice or a student of Hindustani classical music, then this would be an ideal CD. The introduction about each raag educates you while the simple compositions help you to get into the characteristic and the mood of the raag.

- The disciples of Pandit Parameshwar Hegde have done a very fine job. In fact, some of them have rendered classical masterpieces.

- As it contains semi-classical compositions too, it appeals to a wide range of music lovers.

- Even if you are not familiar with classical music, this CD would be entertaining and probably would open a door to listen and enjoy classical music.

For me personally, the CD has been worth buying.:)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Gurudev

Let us make our hearts as big as an ocean, to go beyond all the trifles of the world and see it only as a picture. We can then enjoy the world without being in any way affected by it.

Never mind failures; they are quite natural, they are the beauty of life, these failures. What would life be without them? It would not be worth having if it were not for struggles. Where would be the poetry of life? Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. I never heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow -- never a man. So never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold the ideal a thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more.

The world is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock, how to give it the necessary blow. The strength and force of the blow come through concentration.

Watch people do their most common actions; these are indeed the things that will tell you the real character of a great person.

Who makes us ignorant? We ourselves. We put our hands over our eyes and weep that it is dark.

We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.

Yep, these are some of the quotes of Swami Vivekananda. I am remembering him specially today because it is his birthday ( 12 Jan, 1863). Every word he uttered has always been inspiring quote. Every time my confidence went down, his teachings, his books have pulled me through.

I really think that we need him to be reborn again, especially during this testing time for our country. Probably he would say that all of us need to find the strength within ourselves to face and eradicate terrorism and to restore peace and prosperity in our motherland.