Friday, December 25, 2015

Big bigger biggest

Had  been  to  this  church  recently   and  I  was  just  stumped   by  the  lavishness  with  which  it  was  built. 

I am talking about the St George church at Edappally Kerala.  
Later on,  I  was  told  that  the  total  cost  for  building  the  church  was  somewhere  between  35  crores  and  50  crores (Rupees)  

I was just wondering about the source of the money. Obviously it has not come from thin air. Are the parishioners so rich?  Then I started hearing stories. 

An auto rickshaw driver of this parish wanted a date to be fixed for his first born child to be baptized. The vicar refused to baptize the child unless he cleared his dues of Rs 35000/- for the rebuilding of the church. The helpless man mortgaged his auto rickshaw,  paid Rs 30000/- to the church and got his child baptized.   

Also heard that the "fees" for getting married in this church is Rs one lakh.
There may be many parishioners who may be finding it difficult to make both ends meet, but are coerced to contribute for this “big church”  (there are two other churches already standing in the same compound) 

the original church dated AD 593

So it’s a case of big, bigger, biggest.

The Malayalam daily Mangalam says it has a height of 146 feet covering an area of 85114 square feet and adds “instead of making it a place of peaceful worship, they made it an eye-popping posh architectural extravaganza” 

While  I  sat  in  the  church  I  was  reminded  of  the  black  and  white  drawing in  the  Old  Testament  (it was our text book for the catechism class in school)

I was hoping that Jesus would appear once more and do something similar  to  chase away all the people responsible for this blunder.

The things people do in the name of religion.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Little Angels

Came to know about this school through a common friend. The Little Angels school, situated on the Undri road (Pune) is for the differently-abled children. 

I fixed an appointment and visited the school to have a look at their daily routine.  When I reached the school, they were having their regular outdoor activities. I found this boy, happy and content being in the swing all the time. 

One teacher told me that it was a big leap for many considering the fact that at one point of time they could hardly do any activity independently  and now they can balance and pedal a cycle on their own.

Each one was an “expert” at something or another. This boy had mastered the trampoline and tried to go higher and higher with each jump

Jumping over small hurdles, co-ordination of mind and body. 

Throwing the coloured balls across the net was a fun event for many

I was surprised at the ease with which they balanced and skated around.  

Some of them looked forward to the daily practice of Yoga 

I was admiring the patience and resilience of the teaching staff as each student is in a different mood and need a lot of coaxing to get into some activity. 

The outdoor activities are held in the first session so that their pent up energy is released and they are calm in the classroom during the second session.

The class rooms may look small but that helps in giving individual attention to each one as the absorbing capacity of each student is different.

They have a class for vocational training in which the students are encouraged to make handmade articles 

The first school was started by Mr Jehangir Afshari in Mumbai about 13 years ago. The aim of the school is to give the children an opportunity to live independently away from their families. The second one (a pre-primary school) was opened in Bandra, and a training school was opened in Lonavala. 

Items made by the students  

At present the students in the Mumbai school are capable of taking the Govt. examinations i.e. National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) – X & XI and is also planning to do the same in Pune.

There was a cultural program in which stalls were put up by the school and it was good to see the students and the staff, turn out in their Sunday best. You can see more pictures in the video.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

If its October it is Oktoberfest

For all those who missed out on this year’s Pune Oktoberfest, here are a few snaps clicked on the three day event. The snaps are of two days as I was there only on Saturday and Sunday. 

As usual the beer counter was always full with no elbow room.

The difference I found (when compared to last year) was that the band was a wee bit better and they came up with a variety of songs played perfectly by the group. It was sad that I could not get a perfect ‘group photo’ of the band. The nearest I could get was this: 

Now who is missing in this? Oh yes the drummer boy, so here you have one of him 

And another one of the crooner: 

The guy on the key board was multi-tasking (without missing a note) You can actually see it in the video on YouTube

This year I had more video footage than still pictures. Will keep adding more videos as and when they are edited and processed.The second video is on Mamma Mia by Abba

Meanwhile our beer counter is still full 

For a change I found many Germans who had turned up and they were really enjoying the evening 

The food was good and I found that the service at the counter was very pretty fast and efficient: 

On the down side, space was a problem. I mean in a crowd like this how do you expect people to dance. 

But still I found many making room for themselves and enjoying the day

It was difficult manoeuvring through the crowd to get some good shots, but I managed to get a few 

These two (above) were really having some fun. Later on while adding the watermark on the pic I realised that the figure on his Tee shirt had some significance as it was the year when I landed in Pune. 

The scramble is still going on at the Beer counter. I think the design of the counter opening was too small, or was it that they were not expecting such a big crowd?  

This guy just saw me clicking as he was singing along, and I caught him with his full energy. 

Later there was a repeat, this time along with his friends. Each one with a different pose, but it clearly sends across the message – they were enjoying. 

I think I ended up clicking many pictures with their mouth open, a good indication of participation.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Two days in New Delhi

Half your battle is won if you get the right material to complete a handicraft project. We made this “quiet book” from fabric and felt material.  (mostly hand stitched) 

Had been to Delhi recently and went scouting for some good fabric. We were advised to go to the Paharaganj market or the Connaught Place for fabrics. Finally we got some good stuff from Shanker market. 

It is one of the oldest local markets in Central Delhi and was set up a few years before Indian Independence.
While walking down the street, this sign caught my eye. A real good idea to attract customers. 

This guy sitting outside his shop was busy with his alteration work. 

Some shops had some good display along with their products. Proper lighting is the key factor here. 

At Connaught Place we went into this shop by the name of Wenger’s.  Later on I realised that it is the oldest Bakery in New Delhi (started  way back in 1933) 

Their displays were really tempting especially the pastries and the cakes. 

But what I liked best was their shemi kebab and the chicken patty. 

One thing that I observed at Wenger’s is the efficiency of the people behind the counter. By the time you pay your bill and get to the next counter, your stuff is packed and ready. 

Wenger’s is located right opposite Rajiv Chowk. The Chowk which has a huge flag in the middle. Don’t go by the picture below. You can see its actual size in the first video.

Rajiv chowk also has a huge metro station below the garden (by the same name) Talking of metro trains, I think the Delhi metro is the best thing that has happened to Delhi. The ticket rates are affordable and people use it extensively. Considering the lateral spread of Delhi, this is the best mode of transport. 
I heard that the rates of the second metro line (the Airport Metro) were further slashed by 50% 

This was a picture that I clicked at the starting point at Dwarka. After a few stations it was so jam packed that there was no way I could click again. 

While driving around New Delhi, I was impressed by the green on both sides.  I wonder if it is like this all over Delhi. (maybe Delhites can comment on this)

In the evening we had been to the newly opened Vivanta by Taj. (the one at Dwarka) The food was good (as expected from a five star hotel) but what I liked better was the music by Mario - the multi-lingual singer.  
It is always interesting to have live music (see second video) than piped music when you are eating out.

A special mention should be made about the ambiance especially the write up and the paintings of Kabir.

Kabir was a weaver, a simple and unlettered man, who earned his living at the loom. 

I remember learning a few of his “dohe” (verse) during my school days. Like the write up says, each doha is an aphorism in itself, a perspective that rings true, at times seemingly obscure yet profound. 

Ahead of his times, he moved about with his disciples, continuing in exile, the life of an apostle of love. . . . . . . . something very much required in the present strife torn world.