Careful what you wish for

In the land of so many powerful gods and djinns, and yet, doesn’t look like a lot of prayers are coming true. Or, maybe, people are wiser and know better what to wish for?




Details from Amber fort and City Palace (Jaipur)

Last time I went to a shrine where people make wishes, I didn’t make one. Why would I? The gods are looking on us indifferently. Or, they grant us anyway what they know we need, irrespective of what we ask for. Totally in vain trying to interfere with destiny.


In Fatehpur Sikri, people make wishes by tying threads to the delicate marble lattice windows around the shrine of a sufi saint, who is said to have granted the king the birth of a male heir.

So many times I made promises and wishes, I got them back all twisted, like someone out there is laughing at me. Not malignantly, but playing around. I’m not really asking anymore.




Ganesha everywhere on the walls of Jaisalmer

Not sure about what it is, gods or fate. Faith or fate.



All I can say, if you want me to grant you a wish, come and ask for it, and then we’ll see if it’s simply meant to be. Like the cow in the header, banging on the door with its nose. How would I know what you want or need if you don’t tell me? And if even the gods mess it up, so many times, then why would you trust my power? Just careful what you wish for. Small things. And the big things, that’s not our playground. Even if I was a genie with magic powers.



Paintings at Galtaji (monkey temple) in Jaipur

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Dreams of honey and gold

I’m yet to write about four or five places, long backlog, and then comes the amazing honey-coloured Jaisalmer fort, seven hundred years old, but still very much alive, and just knocks me over. So here I am with 498 photos and just staring at the screen blankly. This is why I wanted to come to Rajasthan and this is why India is all worth it.  :-)

Iftar – breaking the fast at sunset on the rooftop of my guesthouse, with the fort in the distance. (I would not survive without food and water, I have no idea how they do in this heat.)


Like a huge sandcastle made by playful giants frolicking in the sand, the fort is made up of 99 bastions in sandstone, some of them really wobbly, it’s actually an endangered monument. The hill forts of Rajasthan, a group of several monuments scattered in the state, got their World Heritage inscription just last year.




Inside the fort, it’s a maze of streets and old palaces and temples and houses, and life goes on.













Intricate details from the royal palace.





Off on a camel safari tomorrow!



An Odd Trio

Come on, what sort of an assignment is this? :-)

I’m allergic to cats, I had the worst asthma attack of my life when I was taking care of a dozen kitties and their two mothers. I haven’t seen a beach for two months. And I’m only dreaming about a bowl of soup, in my current state of stomach.

Sounds like the kind of silly little five-minute assignment I would give to my students for fluency practice. And now I’m failing at my own game. Epic. :-)

But I have found some photos of fabulous trios for y’all, like….

a family on the beach in Bali (sans towels)


a family in Nepal


monkeys peeking in the gaps in Jaipur, India


happy guys on a Pelni boat from Ambon to Banda, Indonesia


rickshaw drivers in Melaka, Malaysia

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young novices right after their ordination in Chiang Mai, Thailand


our kittens Pötyi, Blacky and Tiggie


some of my 4th grade students in Yangon, Myanmar, on national day


I did mention soup, beach towels and cats, didn’t I? So am I getting a passing grade? :-)



Tickled pink

In the pink city, far from being in the pink…. but I managed to stay strong enough to walk around and visit the sights…. though not really the bazaars and markets, I only saw those from the rickshaw. The heat is not so bad, the wind has picked up….

Windows have always been my favourites and I truly had a chance to knock myself out!





It’s a fairytale, I’m still lost in some ancient desert epic, one thousand and one nights…. and constantly stunned trying to imagine that people not only survived in these places without fridges, aircon, running water (not to mention wifi), but in some areas, in some periods, even thrived, waged wars, traded, conquered, dreamed big. The omnipresent hilltop forts tell about raiding armies and battlefields, with sands and rocks and the all-consuming desert trying to eat up everything. The streets of the pink city tells about royal comforts, harems, riches, heavy brocades and gentle music, as well as brisk trade in the shophouses, sprawling markets, camel caravans coming and going, a swirl of languages, dresses and colours. And least that’s how I imagine it. That’s what it still looks like.





Some royal grandeur in pink








Actually the buildings were only painted pink 160 years ago, to welcome the Prince of Wales. And then it stuck. Now everyone in the old city is required by law to keep the faded orange colour.

All is well, and I really enjoy a lot of places, moments…. but I’m really tired and homesick. No pink glasses.



Strike a chord

I’m tone deaf. Don’t care much about music anyway. But gamelan music, all that complete cacophony, somehow strikes a chord with me. I even enjoy listening to young men study and practice in the temples in Bali. These pictures, however, were taken in the royal palace in Yogyakarta.





I remember it was fascinating to find bits and pieces of the erstwhile Hindu kingdom in Java – not just the temple ruins, but the shadow puppets with their deep symbolism, and the music that goes with it.


The Ramayana epics are still widely performed in festivals and temples across the now-Buddhist nations, but I was surprised to find it in the palace of the Muslim ruling family in Yogyakarta.

There are many workshops around the palace, hand-crafting puppets from buffalo hide, using natural dyes, and the craftsmen who show visitors around didn’t even understand my question regarding a potential conflict with their faith. It’s our culture, they would say.


And then go on explaining the details about Shiva and Vishnu, and their favourite story, the relationship between Rama and Sita. This seems to be a famous scene but I can’t find the meaning :-(




I wish I knew more, I only remember snippets. Gold is dignity. Red is anger. Vishnu (below) is black. Evil characters have bigger noses. Virtuous characters have slit eyes. The round behinds represent earthly desires and connections to mundane ideas, the head is about intellectual and spiritual powers.



Oops, this was supposed to be about music, wasn’t it? But can’t you hear the gamelan orchestra in the background? I certainly do.

The image in the header happens to be from the royal wedding in Ubud, Bali.

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Wrong turns

My life is a story of wrong turns – accidental, intentional. Sometimes they lead to adventures. Sometimes to disasters. Sometimes both at the same time. I’m an expert.

I’m in India at the moment because I insisted on taking a turn that I knew full well I should not be taking. And now I’m putting myself through it and trying to get something out of it. Something good. A life experience. All along knowing that I’m not where I should be, absolutely not at all.

I’m doggedly pursuing my wrong turns until I can squeeze something good out of them. And in the process, sometimes, I end up deeper and deeper into the mud. Never escaping, making the run early enough. Never one to give up a wrong decision until it gets the worst possible.

I have no idea why. Ok, I do have a few vague guesses.

These photos are from a wrong turn that I took by accident, and which led me to adventure, friendship, and a heartbreak. This is where actually I became the fearful dragon.

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I guess this is a wrong turn I should be regretting, given what happened afterwards (during the last world cup final, too, now that I think of it). But how could I regret this? The sense of flying, screaming, being free? And how could I regret anything at all? Then pretty much nothing would be left of my life.

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