Thursday, 31 January 2008

WHA - ?? No Way!!

Never ever in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would see my principal's name alongside my uncle's name (Uncle is a GREAT scientist) in a scientific journal. It did make sense to me though, after my initial surprise, that both of them work in the same field of science, and that my principal is a PRINCIPAL, not just another person. I never really thought of my principal having contact with someone as intelligent as my uncle.

Eeeek!! I'm so *EXCITED*. I don't know why.
P.S. Bhai, this one is for you. :D

Wall Painting

My top 3 favourite entries from the wall painting competition during Riviera '08 at VIT:

And this one below, though not very sophisticated, is one of my favourites for sheer creativity. I simply love the idea.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Golden Temple, Vellore

Yesterday, I went with my parents to the Golden Temple. No, not the one in Amritsar, it's down south in the state of Tamil Nadu, in Vellore, to be precise, which is also home to the prestigious VIT (Vellore Institute of Technology).

This temple at Sripuram, Vellore, dedicated to Goddess Narayani, I must say (note that I'm not a 'devout' Hindu), is a beautiful sight, with the ENTIRE temple being coated with pure gold, majestically standing in the middle of a pool of clear water. What's interesting about the pool is that people see it as a wishing-well and have thrown coins into it, which looks through the clear water. The bottom of the shallow pool is now carpeted with coins, and that adds a thing of beauty into the pool. Even the small staircase-fountain pools haven't been spared where people have thrown not coins, but bangles into it. Lol. I also saw an ATM card thrown into it. Anyhow, everything about the main temple is a sight to see. The only things that failed to impress me were the engravings, carvings and sculptures, probably because of my recent visit to Orissa where I saw breathtaking sculptures and architecture.
Another thing I must mention is that it's not that easy to reach the temple from its entrance. You'll have to walk almost about a mile before you reach the main temple after walking round the temple on a star-shaped pathway. On either sides of the pathway, messages of 'Amma' (the 31-year old 'Godman' who conceived and designed the temple) and quotes from the Vedas are displayed.

From what I've read about it, the Rs.300crore temple, situated in the middle of a 100 acres land, took 6 full years to complete and has been made with 1.5 tons of pure gold. While over 800 artisans from Tirupati and Madurai have worked day and night to realize the dream of the 'Godman', devotees of this foundation from around the world made huge contributions to the construction of the temple.

'Amma's' thoughts about the concept behind the golden temple:
"A mother administers sugar-coated pill to the child to heal. It's a physical
ailment. Likewise, I am offering this golden temple to people to impart
wisdom. This golden temple is just a tool to attract the world's attention."

"Some may ask why a golden temple for the mankind and why not a hospital? But in
Sripuram, we bring about a change in people through messages like the nobleness
of human birth and the need to serve the humanity. This will motivate them to
built lakhs of hospitals across the globe," he said.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Family Trip To Orissa

Mum always found it odd that her daughters, in spite of being born in Orissa, haven't actually seen the 'wonders' of the place, except visiting their grandmothers every few years. This year, she finally decided that it was time she took her daughters for a sight-seeing trip to their native state Orissa before it's too late, that is, before her daughters become too busy with studies, and very soon, work too. So we made a short trip of two days to Orissa's capital, Bhubaneswar, from Jan 10th to 16th. OK, so you must be wondering how 10th to 16th counts for only two days. Well, the answer is, it takes us about 2 full days to travel from the current place to Bhubaneswar, by train.

Here's the summary of our trip, in short. I'm feeling too lazy to write the historical stories behind all those monuments. (If you want to know, let me know (so I'll write about it for you), or visit the place yourself):

Well, now that we have to spend two days in a train, we did have our bit of fun in the train. We reached Bhubaneswar at around 9:30 in the night. So all we did was fall dead on the bed (after watching Oriya news (mum being very excited about listening to news in HER native language after so long) and me trying to read Oriya and chiding myself for forgetting the alphabets).

The next day we visited the Konark temple, a.k.a. Sun Temple. There are many legends behind it as to why cameras, slippers were allowed inside a supposedly 'holy' place, and why no prayer is being done inside the temple. (Let me know if you'd like to know about them, as of now, I'm just to lazy to write about it. It's going to be a very long post if I start writing about it. So, I'll probably make a blogpost about it sometime later, or sooner if you want me to). It's one of my most favourite places in India - not only because of the beautiful 13th century architecture but also because of the tragic story behind the place becoming unholy. It's a pity that not much thought was given into the construction materials that were used, because the iron that was used to hold two sculptures together have rusted owing to which many of the architectural masterpieces have fallen to pieces. Nevertheless, it's a must-visit place if you ever visit India.

The next picture, also belongs to the Konark temple. Now, this temple is modelled at a chariot drawn by 12 horses. This is one of the wheels. This wheel is the Wheel Of Life.

We bought some souvenirs from the line of souvenir shops there. I bought a bunch of keychains for my friends and myself.

We then went to see the Chandrabhaga river meeting with the Bay of Bengal. It was a beautiful site (yeah, not sight, if you know what I mean). I experimented with my photography skills there, and took that picture of boats.

Our next stop was the temple at Puri. The road to Puri from Bhubaneswar was a sight to see - leafless trees lined on both sides of the road.

At Puri, no photography was allowed, as it is in almost all temples in India. Visiting the temple is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And by once-in-a-lifetime, I mean it. It's nice to visit the place ONCE. You wouldn't want to go back there EVER, at least not if you're not religious. It's a struggle without a guide. Thankfully, we had one, and he gave us lots of tips about how to wade through the sea of people and how to avoid being temporarily bankrupted because of the some ruthless people inside playing tactics to extract money from you. What I hated there most, more than anything else, was that we weren't allowed to TOUCH the priests, even by mistake. Apparently they would become impure and would have to go through a lot of tiresome rituals to become pure again. I felt like an untouchable (Untouchability (low class people not being allowed to touch the high class people, and vice versa) prevailed in India long time ago, for those of you who don't know). When I told my dad this, he optimistically went "It's not that YOU are an untouchable. Think of it as if THEY were untouchables". BTW, no foreigners, Christians and Muslims are allowed into Puri, Dad told me. I find this stupid too.

Next stop - shopping (photo not present). We stopped to shop at Pipli for Orissa's very own speciality - Pipli artwork. Mahima bought some Pipli lanterns for her new-found friends at the hostel; mum and I bought wall-hangings for ourselves.

On our way back to the hotel, we visited Dhauligiri, a Buddhist shrine situated on a hill. It's relatively new compared to the temples at Bhubaneswar and Puri, a sight to see, nevertheless.

We also visited the Lingaraj Temple (no photos again, as usual in a temple). Now this is what I call awe-inspiring architecture. Built during the 11th century, there were (what rubbish, they ARE) about a 150(or more? I'm not sure) temples, big and small, strewn all around the area. Beautifully beautiful. We spent quite an amount to time simply gazing up at that wonderful architecture. Anyhow, after gazing at it to our hearts' content we started back to the hotel. Mahima and me, the not-so-religious-people that we are, were tired of visiting temples. So mum decided against taking us to temples. There are a few cave temples around there which we didn't visit.

A little shopping in the city for (again) Orissa speciality jewelry called Filigree (sorry, no pics), and then to the hotel to watch TV and sleep.

Next day, we went to Nandan Kanan, a zoo-cum-wildlife sanctuary. Not that we hadn't visited a zoo before, but because it was famous. We saw many animals, of course. We had a ride on the roap-way (was fun! :D), and then the 3D movie about animals, nature and dinosaurs, and finally the white-tiger and lion safari. There was a beautiful garden there where we clicked a few pictures. After that, for some reason, I fell sick. So we decided to head to the hotel straight without stopping anywhere. Well, I made them stop to click a picture of the line of house-like cabins built by the Bhubaneswar City Corporation. On reaching the hotel room, I rested while my family again went out to lunch. Before they could be back, my maternal grandfather arrived. After a while, my family came back too. We spoke to him for a while. And then started off to catch the 3 o'clock train to Berhampur where my maternal grandmother stays.

We missed that train, and so had to wait in the railway station until 5:20 p.m. to catch the next train. So there's the picture of the railway platform and my dad checking if there were other trains by which we could reach early. That particular 4 hours journey was my worst ever. EVER. The crowded train, with uncomfortable seats accentuated with my being sick made that the horriblest journey ever.

We reached at grandmother's very late in the night. So we did nothing but change and sleep till late next morning. I was feeling better, but not so good that I could go shopping with the elders. So I stayed at home watching TV the whole day. I clicked a photo of a painting my mum's friend did about 23-24 years ago - a family antique piece. I also clicked photos with my grandmother just before leaving for hostel that night.

We again started the 2 days journey, with weird people in our compartments. The last photo was taken when we were waiting for the next train at Chennai. My parents got off that night at their place two hours from Chennai, and I continued my journey till Mangalore from where, as usual, I took a bus to make the 1.5 hour journey back to my dormroom.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

The Good World Art

I recently bought a set of acrylic colours, and this is how it got used. I coloured my study board. So now it's got this 'Good World' art on it, instead of the dirty brown monotone. It took about 8 hours to paint (The drawing had already been done previously). I hoped it would be filled with bright colours, but it didn't turn out to be so with that dark background that it ended up getting. I'm planning to paint the other side too, but I don't see myself doing that in the foreseeable future. It'll be some time before I do it, but I WILL for sure, one day.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

An eye-popping drawing

Proof that I can't draw human figures. This, in fact, is the hand-drawn reference sketch for the painting below.

In Process

This is my first ever trial at digital painting (still in process). Been working on this since this afternoon. She hasn't yet been named. (Any suggestions?). I'll post a completed painting when I finish it, probably tomorrow or the day after. When I did the skin, I was very happy coz it looked realistic. When I started the eyebrows and eyes it lost all realism. I a little scared about doing the hair. It's going to be real difficult WITHOUT a tablet. I wish I had a tablet. Anyway, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Taare Zameen Par

I saw this wonderful, beautiful, touching movie yesterday: Taare Zameen Par (Stars On Earth) ( तारें ज़मीन पर ). It's about a child with learning disabilities and how a substitute teacher helps him and gets him out of his world of gloom, before it's too late। It has been beautifully acted out, the music scores and lyrics heart-touching (it made me cry) and has a heart-touching social message, a message that is really needed for the current Indian middle-class soceity. If you ever have a teeny-weeny chance of watching the movie, watch it. It's a must-watch movie. My mum too, who NEVER cries at the emotional scenes, couldn't control her tears. If my mum couldn't help being emotional, then NOBODY can. Well, all I want to say is that it's a beautiful movie, and if you have a chance, don't miss it for anything.