Naive Traveler - Agra Trip

Friday, July 29, 2016 16 Comments A+ a-

Naive Traveler - Agra Trip

Taj Mahal

I have started traveling since last Diwali to break the routine of my monotonous lifestyle which revolves around office and home. From Diwali i.e November 2015; I have visited Jaipur, Delhi's different places (twice covering different destinations at both occasions), Rashtrapati Bhavan tour the experience of which I have shared earlier and now Agra. Since I have Mondays off so I with two of my friends visited Agra this Monday (25th July 2015). 

We took Taj Express from Nizamuddin station at 7:15 in the morning luckily it was not late so we reached Agra at 10 am. We have checked the places to visit on google so didn't waste a single minute in hiring an auto for the purpose. The prepaid autos there takes Rs 500 and show you just Taj Mahal, Itmad -Ud - Dualah, and Agra Fort but we convinced one to show us Sikandara (Akbar's Tomb), Mehtaab Bagh (Taj's back side) and other places if time left, we paid him Rs 600. 

Kanch Mahal

Gate of Akbar's Tomb

Main Tomb Building 

Bedai and Jalebi is famous breakfast dishes of Agra so we tasted them before going to anywhere. First we visited Sikandara (Akbar's Tomb) which charged Rs 20 per visitor. In its complex also lies Kanch Mahal (Mirror Palace) and Lodhi Tomb both were in ruined states we saw people working there sleeping inside Kanch Mahal while restoration work is on in Lodhi Tomb. Once a great king has hardly any visitors to his tomb and negligible if you compared to Humanyun's Tomb in Delhi and Taj Mahal in Agra. Itmad - Ud - Daulah build 26 years before Taj Mahal was inspiration for it and is also known as Mini Taj. This was our second stop which has tombs of Nur Jahan's father and mother along with some other tombs. We also give a small visit to Guru Ka Tal - the largest Gurudwara in Agra. 

Itmad - ud - Daulah

Itmad-ud-Daulah from its gate

Our next stop was Mehtaab Bagh from where we can see back side of Taj Mahal. It is also a paid place and charges Rs 15 per person. It was believed that Shah Jahan was planning a black Taj Mehal replica at this place. Ruins of the base of that building is still there in this garden built in Mughal style. I noticed that the garden is not as good as other Mughal gardens or perhaps this is because it is not flower blooming season. I observed few varieties of flowers and trees repeated at all over. Agra Fort was our next spot. Its ticket costs Rs 40 per person similar to Taj Mahal but at Taj they check your ID proof also before giving you ticket. Agra fort is bigger than Delhi's Red fort but many of its places were closed at the time of our visit for restoration work. Our next stop was Taj Mahal. 

Guru Ka Tal

Taj Mahal from Mehtaab Bagh with ruined foundation
of Black Taj supposed to build there.

Mehtaab Bagh

Taj built by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz's remembrance was our last stop, it was also the most populated place of the places we have visited that day. This shows love has more power than any other powerful man in this world. It has tombs of Mumataz and Shahjahan in the main white marble building. Cleansing and restoration work is currently going on in main building of Taj Mahal. It is a beautiful place. We were exhausted when we reached there and the entry, exit arrangement juiced out more of our energy. Bad arrangements and unhelpful staff is what I observed there and I don't know why there was a VIP entry where we have to walk less. Isn't there equality in India? 

Agra Fort

Taj Mahal from Agra Fort

Taj Mahal Entrance 

Taj Mahal 

Minaret of Taj Mahal

Agra received so many visitors every year for its world famous Taj still condition of its road is pathetic. Even the area around entry gates of Taj is congested and poorly maintained. After Taj, Petha a sweet dish made up of pumpkin is most famous in Agra. A brand Panchi Petha sell the best pethas and they have different varieties of it but the original Panchi Petha Store is in Sadar Bazar but autos and taxis will take you somewhere else where they get commission. It was a nice one day trip and we reached Agra Cant station after spending sometime in Sadar Bazar area. We returned from Bhopal Shatabdi which dropped us at New Delhi Railway Station at 11.30 pm from where we took auto for our homes. 

Dope Break Hope

Thursday, July 28, 2016 6 Comments A+ a-

Dope Break Hope

India is sending its biggest contingent ever in the Rio Olympics 2016 which automatically increases chances of highest medal tally ever but the doping clouds have raise doubts over these hopes. I will not name any player here because charges on them are still on primary stage. But whatever be the result of doping tests this time, India is the third highest country in the doping list which is a shameful thing. The country which cares least for sports this high number in negative aspect of the game is alarming. 

Our governments were always negligent of sports or if they care it is for one or two sports only. The players which reached national level in various sports like wrestling, shot put, athletics and other such games do this with their hard work, self training and passion. Government's support comes only after their achievement in particular field. Some sportsperson belongs to villages and some are even unaware of the presence of something like ban drugs which make them vulnerable to consume ban substances. Lack of proper training coupled with government's apathy dragged players to drug abuse. 

The country which has so many problems to deal with cares little for its sports bodies, their funding and their requirements. Moreover the people who are heading theses sports bodies and looking after their administration are politicians than sportsman who know their personal need (read money) better and not what sportsman required for eating, training and resting. Indians cherish achievements even if it's in other sports than cricket because life here gives few moments to enjoy and celebrate thus they celebrate with success of the nation. 

Governments both central and sports should be more serious towards sports so that talented people can be traced and trained under experts. Players should know what are banned drugs and which things meant for their consumption have such kind of drugs so that they avoid these things. Recently those who were found positive in dope test suspected conspiracy by their rivals and if this is happening the future of sports is in grave danger. Let's hope we win the highest number of medals in this Olympic and despite of controversies our players play with high positive spirit. 

Book Review : Tell Me Your Real Story

Saturday, July 23, 2016 3 Comments A+ a-

Book Review : Tell Me Your Real Story

Tell Me Your Real Story is a poetry book by Savita Nair. It is published by Virgin Leaf Books of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd. I have received this book from publishers. This is a collection of poems on living, loving and losing. 

Cover: Impressive cover, I liked such pictures and I have posted it on my Instagram account also. The talking eyes visible from the tresses of hair covering most of the face of the lady on the cover connected you to the book at once. It assures you for a ride on reading some beautiful poems. 

Content: The book contains 57 poems from poetess' pen starting from 'I Believe You're Not There' to That's The Spirit'. Poems are written in both prose and rhyme. They covers almost all emotions like love, romance, pain of separation, spiritualism, happiness, sadness, etc. Some poems are small and ends in half the page while some covers the page or go to next pages also. 

Comment: I like the ideas in the poem and their presentation. The simple and easy to understand words makes you easily connect with the poems. ' I Believe You're Not There', Tell Me Your Real Story, Let's Do This, Sold, When I Let You In, To The Heroes, almost all the poems are worth reading not once but many times for the flavor of reading they give to the readers. But I thing there should be less poems around twenty to thirty with some pictures depicting the ideas of poems or related to them that would make reading experience better. 

Verdict: Must read to feel these poems which take you to a poetic journey worth to remember for longer time. 

Rating: I would like to give 3.5/5.  

Hum Sab Ek Hain ?

Thursday, July 21, 2016 5 Comments A+ a-

Hum Sab Ek Hain?

Hum Sab Ek Hain which means we are all one seems a complete nonsensical idea in the view of current situation in India where people are identified with their religions/castes and attacked for not adhering to the standards of a particular community. The recent incident of Una, Gujarat in which four lower caste Dalit youth were beaten mercilessly with Aluminium roads and paraded half naked with their hands tied behind a SUV by members of Gauraksha Dal (Cow Savers ) is an example of increasing caste based atrocities. Similar incident was also registered in another Gujarat town few days before the Una incident. Cattle transporters also faced similar attacks from such  Gauraksha Dal goons in parts of Haryana, Delhi, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The beat, molest and kill people in the name of cow. 

The constitution of India considered all Indians equal but even today this equality is registered with golden words in pages of constitution only. Most of the people of so called upper caste still demean people of lower castes and treat them worse than animals. They don't tolerate their rise through education and in respectable jobs and forced them to do jobs of lower dignity. An now in garb of saving cows they are beating them for this job of skinning of dead animals which they think was appropriate for lower caste people. Why should they do this job? Why should they take the responsibility of cleaning the society?

Skinning of dead animals, cleaning of drains, sewer manholes and other such jobs were done with help of machine and technology in developed countries of the world but the people who have authority of making laws and running the administration also has a casteist mindset. They dragged lower caste people in these jobs by depriving them of respectable jobs and not bringing such technology to uplift them. 

Under current central government the crime against Dalits have increased almost 60% including incidents of rape and killing. The Gujarat incident have turned violent when dalit protesters started burning buses and damaging public property, almost 11 youths drank poison of which one has died which shows people have zero trust on government in Gujarat. A BJP MLA also abused stalwart Dalit leader Mayawati which shows they saw people of lower caste with disrespect. When the people in power will set an example and stop their hate speeches then only situation will change. Till then God Bless India. 

Media : Speak or Not to Speak

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 3 Comments A+ a-

Media : Speak or Not to Speak

Journalism or media as it is called today is known as the fourth pillar of democracy. It keeps a check on government’s activities and maintains a balance in reporting things. It highlights any wrongdoing anywhere in the country or the world so that the associate agency can take action against the evil doers. It helps in forming public opinion on things of local and national importance. Journalists maintain a non-biased way of reporting things by not including their personal views about a particular topic. 

 All above mentioned things about media may sound funny if you look at today’s journalism and journalists because no where you see them helping in making public opinion but instead they manipulate public opinion according to their political affiliation. Calm and balanced news anchors are difficult to see. Even those you think are honest and fair try to impose their views due to pressures from their bosses in the media houses. The masses today go to TV news channel for the information but the information there is either one sided or based on prejudice. Some news anchors acts as police, lawyer and judge at the same time. They report on speculations and sensationalize the news. The news has now become entertainment. 

The news becoming entertainment is an attack on our rights for seeking truthful information. Recently Kashmir media was gagged for two days to not report on Kashmir problem while the national media was let loose to deliver any kind of news they want. Innocents were made culprits while culprits turned messiah. The new trend of labeling anyone anti-national for speaking against the government’s policies has also gathered followers. This new way has divided the nation and creating fear among those who wants to speak truth. These ways of silencing the opinions will only kill democracy. 

Media should act responsibly. They should know when/what to speak and when/what not. This doesn’t mean any kinds of curb on journalism but free and fair journalism without any pressure from the government and its agencies. The British investigations against Tony Blair revealed how he acted against decision of his party, opposition and people to declare war on Iraq only because of the vested interest of some media houses that supported him and helped making an environment of war against Iraq with America. All news of weapons of mass destruction was false which destroyed Iraq and became the precursor of ISIS.  

This is my appeal to all associated with the news agencies, media houses and journalism to listen to your conscience before listening to your money making bosses. Not only India but the world needs truthful journalism for betterment of the world. 

Heaven Turned Hell Again

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 2 Comments A+ a-

Heaven Turned Hell Again

The killing of Hizbul Mujahidin commander Burhan Wani triggered widespread protests in the Kashmir valley against the armed forces and the government. Burhan Wani was that face of terrorism which glamorized his activities by openly challenging authorities through his social media posts. He was just 23 when he killed by the armed forces in an encounter few days ago. Neither the army nor the government estimated the support he received during his funeral and the protests afterwards which have killed more than 30 Kashmiri and injured around 300 people. The situation is tense and government is holding high level meetings to control the situation. 

It seems the government and authorities are running away from the reality of the Kashmir issue. The youth which was entering in mainstream society through education till few years back has again turned towards militancy and violence. The current BJP-RSS/PDP government’s conflict of interest in dealing with the issues related to the valley has increased the discontentment in the Kashmiri Youth. The focus which was tilted towards peace talks, disarmament of youth, education in the valley, removal of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Protection Act), etc in last seven or eight years has now shifted towards controversial issues of Article 370, Beef Ban, separate colonies for soldiers and Kashmiri Pandits, Love Jihad, etc in the last two and a half year. 
The ruling BJP party also using the Kashmir issue as a tool for political gains during elections in the northern states of UP, Bihar and Punjab which is further worsening the situation. Kashmiri students are targeted in parts of mainland India which is diverting them more towards the separatist’s ideology. The discontentment, the deprivation and the feeling of alienation among the youth found Burhan Wani as the face of challenge to the authorities and they started seeing them as hero whose way looks right to them. His daredevilry of looking in the eyes of the government and the army charmed many young Kashmiris to follow his path. Astonishingly the new breed of militants security forces believed are from Indian origin and even then government failed to track their location through social media handles neither they knew the source of arms available to them.

The solution lies in facing and accepting the reality that Kashmir is a disputed territory part of which is ruled by Pakistan and another part by India. It should also be accepted that longer enforcement of AFSPA in Kashmir like in north-eastern states has an adverse effect on people of these areas. The army atrocities in garb of maintaining order have ruined many families in these areas. The interaction with the youth should be the priority along with the talks between the two nations on the one hand and with the separatists on the other hand. The people in position of power should restrain themselves to talk on this crucial Kashmir issue without prior thinking. The Kashmir right now is burning; putting more oil to the fire with hate speeches will spread the flames of hate to the entire nation. Pray for Kashmir, Pray for India. 

The Islam I know !

Sunday, July 10, 2016 8 Comments A+ a-

The Islam I Know 

The Islam I know is totally different from the public perception. It not in a single word promotes terrorism. I learned about Islam from my mother, father and from maulvis (Islamic teachers) in the local mosque but never ever I felt they are promoting hatred against another religion or faith in me. I always remember my father and brother playing Holi with equal enthusiasm as their Hindu friends. Not only them I also played Holi along with my Hindu and Muslim friends, similarly they visited our house to be part of Eid celebration.

My mother who is the grand-daughter of an Imam (mosque priest) never stopped us visiting Hindu temples. I was the regular visitor to temples during Janmashtami and other such festivals. There are no objections in our home on our visits to Gurudwaras, Temples or Churches. When I went to Mount Abu in Rajasthan which is famous for Jain Temples in a school trip no one taught me to stay away from the Jain temples there and I visited all of them.  My mother and sisters make special dishes during Hindu festivals also and in our office we distribute gifts and bonuses to staff during Diwali and not during Eid. 

Imams and Maulvis in our local mosque and madarsa where I learned Quran teaches us to be good human beings which they say is equal to being a good Muslim. ‘Your Eid celebrations are complete only if your neighbors are also happy’ this is what he said during this year’s Eid namaz (prayer) emphasizing on words neighbors and mentioning ‘without looking at his or her religion’. In my childhood we use to perform Ramlila in our locality where I played the character of ‘Lakshmana’. This Ramlila was performed by both Hindu and Muslim children. 

I am not trying to clarify anything about Islam because except few everybody knows that it is not the religion which spread terrorism but the people who follow them. Today’s world is full of people who are deprived of something by someone that nothingness in their life can be easily filled by terrorists to promote their agenda. It has become a business which has its own targets, clients, sponsors and customers the success of which depends on the amount of differences they have created with their acts of violence.

 In the internet connected world search engines are the source of information. We clarify our doubts from there instead of asking elders or teachers. Terrorists picked individuals from there and divert them to their agenda with misinformation, fake information and hitting their emotions with the stick of religion. Peace in the world is the biggest enemy for many and hate is the tool which they use to disturb it. There is only one solution to the problem i.e. Love for all

Book Review : Six Degrees

Saturday, July 02, 2016 4 Comments A+ a-

Book Review : Six Degrees

Six Degrees is a collection of three stories written by the top three teams of BlogAdda’s Game of Blogs a contest in which about 300 bloggers collaborated to write stories with certain sets of characters and conditions. I also participated in this with my team. I have received this book for being part of the BlogAdda’s Book Review Program and the book is published by Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd. These three stories bring you three different scenarios experienced by the same set of characters which creates an amazing reading experience. 

Cover: I am still confused about the title ‘Six Degrees’ and how it relates with the stories but I like the cover design having so many faces perhaps indicating towards all the participating bloggers in the Game of Blogs. 

Plot: The book contains three stories by three different teams namely The Awakening by Team By Lanes, Entangled Lives by Team Potliwale Baba and Missing – A Journey Within By Team Tete-A-Ten. Here is the look at the content of this stories: 

1.The Awakening – By Team By Lines: The Awakening is a science fiction story where the given characters namely Shekhar Dutta, Tara Dutta, Roohi Dutta, Cyrus Daruwala, Jenifer Joseph and Aryan Ahuja are living in a world under threat from the attack of the Aliens. What is the connection of Dutta family with this Alien invasion? Why Cyrus came in Tara’s life to disturb her happy family life with Shekhar and Roohi? How and why earth’s existence is in danger? These questions get an answer in this fast paced thrilling story. 

2.Entangled Lives – By Team Potliwale Baba: This story is a murder mystery. The murder of Dutta’s maid in their house brings the needle of suspicion on all present in their home at that time including Cyrus and Jenifer. Interestingly all of them have purpose to kill her. How inspector Java solves this crime makes it an interesting read.

3.Missing – A Journey Within – By Team Tete-a-Ten:  Missing Roohi and her discovery uncover the things missing in lives of each character. How the lost love, the lost faith and the lost friendship return in their lives covers the content of the story. 

Hits: All three stories are totally different from each other. The Awakening and Entangled Lives gives little time to readers to divert their attention. I also liked the writing style of Missing.  All stories hold you tight on your seats which make this book unputdownable. Out of these three ‘The Awakening’ is my favorite for combining Ancient Mysteries with the modern world. Characters and situations are believable which make them easy to connect to our lives.

Misses: I think the book needs a good editor specially ‘Missing’. All stories are not new and their treatment is also not different from previously released works (Books or TV). Some parts appear factually wrong in all three stories although they are almost unnoticeable if you don’t emphasize on logic and facts. Missing appears to me a disconnected story to the theme because story becomes more of added characters then those given by the BlogAdda.

Verdict: It is an interesting read and must give this book a try. 

Rating: I would give it 3/5. 

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!