Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Amino Acid Arangetram

Was googling for some info when I came across this.
I've always been in awe of Hindu as a newspaper. I have one more reason now. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A picnic

A couple of wks back , we went on a picnic to the area around Mt fuji. Now this was a very iffy affair. We did not know till the previous night , whether or not we were going at all. So , In order to not built up my hopes and then see them dashed, I'd refrained from asking my parents about the specifics of this picnic. I will expound later on why that idea has its merits. Now since I had not asked , I was not told and thus specific details like names of places would be missing. However If you do stick around you'll find my version of a travelogue and get a glimpse into how I view this world of mine.
For this picnic we had to again get up at the unearthly hour of 5:30 AM . Why do all picnics begin so darned early. We were at the embassy at 6:30 AM. Some people wisely arrived at IST (Indian stretchable time) , but we were off by 7:30 AM . GRRRRRR
Our first stop was at Shizuka. Really have no idea why we stopped here, as we had b'fast in the bus. I think we made pitstops for the oldies of the "gotta go" generation. And then we started again and stopped not till we reached the end of the road.... or so . I'd love to think. Our next stop was after we crossed into the fuji city, past hakone and all and finally got to the feet of Mt fuji. The fall colors are changing. The weather forecast said it would be rainy. I wished, they'd get it wrong for once. They did not . but what do u know. It rained only while we were in the bus. And it stopped raining each time we needed to step out. That I must say was terrific.

Notice the awesome variation in shades. We hung around
here for a while and I went justifiably nuts with my camera. There was everything a shutterbug like me could hope for and more. There were changing fall colors . There were the clouds that had descended to kiss the tree tops and then the awesome shades of blue. I've never seen the sky in Tokyo so full of color. I was in heaven and the best thing about is that I did not even have to die for it!!!

The crazy, in my own world gal, that I am , I just wondered by myself clicking away to glory. But all good things must
come to an end and so did this Pit-stop!! It went downhill from here. Dont worry, I don't mean that the day took a turn for worse , rather that this was the highest point altitude wise. We climbed down from this point onwards.
Lunch was at a restaurant-cum-bbq place. It was a potluck kind of arrangement, as we had all taken something or the other. I could have taken pics of the food, but you know how it is at Indian do's with any food involved. The food goes so fast that you can take pics of other people eating it if you wanna forego it. :)
So after lunch, while every one danced, I wandered around and took pics. This horse chestnut
and the wildflowers particularly caught my attention. They are in the wilderness and the flowers especially brought back memories of J.N.U where things just bloom. No siree. No fancy landscaping, just natural beauty in its wild abundance.
I am going to take a break from the pics and tell a funny story. My dad's assistant's daughter is a few months old. An amazingly quite child, I've not seen her cry. I've seen her only on two occasions and this picnic was the second one. Both times, I've noticed, that any body and everybody can hold her and she stays quiet. This is good for her parents cus on occasions like these they can let their hair down and really enjoy without worrying abt the little one. Some body or the other is holding her and they know she is safe. So on this day, Adi as she is called, was dressed in a gazillion layers of clothes. It was past lunchtime , and by the time , I got a turn to hold her, she looked positively miserable. So I asked a lady standing near me, If it would be ok to take some of her clothes off. She agreed and actually took her jacket off. So when I gave Adi back to her mom, I had to tell her, who had the jacket too. Adi's mom removed a few layers then but I noticed after a bit the layers were back on . Some more time later, Adi'd mom was looking for another piece of clothing. Apparently some one removed it off Adi and forgot to tell the mom.
Okie , back on track. So after lunch and when every one had their fill of the mandatory bhangra, we started again. Since my sense of direction is missing , I will not hazard a guess to where we were going. We did seem to be going down but we did take a longer time than we had taken going up so we did meander. This is when I had the opportunity to take pics of Mt Fuji. These pics were taken while we were in the bus. It was frustrating as I did not even have the window seat, and I felt like I was imposing on my neighbour. On top of that , each time I felt I could get a shot, something like a tree or
a building came in between before the actual shot could be taken. And by the time I got a clear shot again, the camera would switch off . ARRRGGHH . They say that , in a year, there are barely 15-20 days when Fuji San is clearly visible. I guess, I am going to have to make some more attempts in order to get the cliched picture of a bullet train with the FujiSan in the background.
Oh well , we were heading towards our next destination. This was a vineyard and we were going wine tasting. Yay Hic Yay. We could have gone grape picking but some thing got lost in translation. Am hoping we can do it some other time. Before we got to the actual wine tasting though, we were given a tour of the winery. We were taken through the intricacies of wine making and little known trivia of whats done with the grapes once the wine is out. Did you know the grape skin and seed remnants are dried and powdered and used as fertilizer. The whole place reeked and the elderly ladies made faces that were a sight. I still wish to live or else I'd taken the pics and posted those too :) These barrels that you see in the pics are french. Our tour guide assured us that allthough the barrels were of french origin, the wines were indeed being made on those very premises. Could not help sneaking my camera in through the fence and taking pics of the grapes. Must say this was the best I could do .
Some cosmos were growing on the premises. These are wildflowers too but currently in season and look really pretty.
And now to my story on why one must not ask too much in order to avoid disappointment. Now another embassy member had not taken that suggestion and had told his preschooler that we'd be climbing a mountain. Then this gentleman sat with us on the bus. He was really patient. I am sure he was used to it but my family was really caught unawares. So this kid who had been really quiet in the morning, asked his dad, when they'd climb the mountain. In a while. Now this kid aint dumb, he can make out that we are going down. He can see the mountains approach and recede. He knows we are not about to climb any, but man was he tenacious. From the time we finished lunch to the time we reached the embassy, this kid did not let up. It was one question again and again with varied responses from his dad. A birthcontrol commecial swimming in mah head to the fury that I am sure was brewing in my dad's head (Am I glad no one in my family reads mah blogs), am sure we covered the entire gamut of emotions. Thus ended another day of my interesting stay in Japan.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A fruity trip down the memory lane

I mentioned being in Islamabad yesterday. Most people know of Pakistan being a nation hostile to India and off course about their cricket rivalry. But, am sure most expat Indians would vouch for having a pleasant experience on meeting expat Pakistanis. I can do so again and again. I’ve met Pakistanis abroad too many times and am always reminded of a common history and a common culture, but never the rivalry. I guess its true that citizens of a country don't hold the same issues close to their hearts as their politicians.
Am not a political person, so, will not discuss that any more. And this blog is anyways about memories, pleasant memories of places I’ve been to.
Of course, I don't remember a lot of our stay at Pakistan, as I happened to be 3 yrs old when we went there. What I do remember however , are all the different plants or trees we had in our garden, or, ppl around us, had, in theirs. Islamabad happens to be a very fertile place and you don't have to be a green thumb for things to take root and yield their bounty. My parents took full advantage of this fact and planted seasonal vegetables in the rows around the garden. In one corner was the Papaya tree. To this day, I don't like papaya, but have fond memories of climbing up on the boundary wall and shaking down a papaya each time any one wanted one. Off course, the day my parents had planted the papayas, something interesting had happened. My bro, whom, some people also know as smartass, had just heard about the money plant. He had then seen mom and dad, put papaya plants in the soil. He put 2 and 2 together and came up with 5. So when mom and dad took a nap, bro dear put his plan in action. Out come the papaya saplings and in go the rupee notes. When mom and dad woke up, he rushed to tell em of his brilliant strategy for getting rich. Dad off course dug the notes out and replaced em with newer saplings. To this day , one of the notes survives in his file. Mom says that that's the shagun my bro’s future wife is getting. That, I must say, is a kickass introduction to the insanity that runs in my family.
So, back to the flora. One of our neighbors had a loquat tree in their garden. Man am I glad mom was friends with that lady. Most afternoons after school found us in her garden, me jumping around like a monkey, trying to get at the fruits, which were at that time green and tangy. I’ve always had a taste for sour things and I just loved the green loquats. Off course the ripe fruits are better and those are the ones that are commonly seen. I am saying commonly seen, but outside of Islamabad, Japan is the second place I’ve seen them growing like I remember from Islamabad. Japan happens to be the biggest producer of loquat, or Biwa, as they are known here.
While I was at New York, I saw loquats, once, at a hole in the wall store owned by an elderly Chinese gentleman. The moment he saw me make a beeline for loquats, I think we connected on some level. He could see I had just renewed contacts with a childhood acquaintance.
If I am writing about a fruit, can a recipe for it, be far behind? This time, however, the recipe isn’t mine, nor is the preparation. Lemme introduce you to Obachan. She is an amazing lady, I’ve met on the WWW and she makes these amazing things in her kitchen. Here are her experiments with loquats from her parents’ orchard. Do you see what I mean by memories here?
We have a loquat tree growing in campus here and I’ve taken pictures of it. It does not do justice to the picture I have in my mind of that loquat tree in a corner of a garden in Islamabad, but then, no picture does that.
When loquats were in season, here in Japan, I hogged those, as I am well aware, that once I leave this country, I may not see these again. What I also did is something out of my trust for nature. I am not a green thumb, but I took the loquat seeds and put them in the soil in a pot. Thankfully they took root and I now have three saplings. We would soon be leaving this accommodation. So mom and I took those saplings out of the pot and have put them in the soil in the backyard. I am hoping that a few yrs down the line some Indian kid can have the memories I have and cherish them for years. If some yrs down the line, I come across a blog like mine, I’ll know, my loquat tree is doing fine. Or is that too much of leap into the future?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A little bit of time travel

I got out of the house today morning and had just turned the corner when I saw this young lady get on her bike and on her way. Still smiling to myself and selecting the music for the day, on my ipod, I was walking along in my own world when I saw in the distance, a little gal on her bike, looking very distressed. She was calling for the young lady , who was soon going to be just a dot on the yonder horizon. As I approached the gal , I could make out the lil tears that would soon start on their way. I asked the lil gal if she was alright. "No," was the answer. "Do you need help?"
"Yes," said the lil gal. I helped her get back on the bike, made sure she could reach the pedals and asked her if she was alright then. Was relieved when she replied in the affirmative and soon we were both on our respective ways.
That got me thinking, had it been my mom, she would have not been on a bike in the first place and would not have raced ahead of me in the second place. But then, back when I was the little gal's age, there's no way in heck , I'd have talked to a stranger and accepted help. Really can't say who was better, my mom then or the young lady today. I did not dwell too long on that question as I was reminded of another incident when I was that small. This was in Islamabad. School was some distance away from our place and despite the fact that we had walked the distance on a few occasions, a school bus ferried us back and forth everyday. This particular day, however, I'd woken up late ( never been a morning person) and missed the bus. Dad could have dropped me to school but then , he has never been in favor of doing so. So what does Ms Baggins decide? She decided , she'll walk......and walk she did. I got to school , but not in time. The assembly had started and was about to get over. Walked over to my teacher and told her how I'd missed the bus and then walked to school. What do you know! She wasn't angry , as I was expecting her to be. Instead she was pleased I was brave enough to walk the distance on my own. This fact was announced in the assembly and the kids were asked to clap for Ms baggins.
A little about why my teacher could have thought me to be brave. I guess, It is not expected of 5 yr olds to be venturing too much away from their homes on their own. And in the minds of the Indian expat community in Islamabad, it was not exactly an idyllic situation. All though it was not a full out hostile scenario as it is today, there were isolated incidents that kept one fearful at worst and careful at best.
So, a day that started on a nice note with a little bit of meandering down memory lanes, thrown in . Ms baggins can only ask for it to end well too.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Friday, May 27, 2005

a few questions

Fate, destiny, karma.

how much of it is written in the stars,

and how much in our own hands?

Is it hindsight, that compels us to believe,

in what the stars foretell?

Or is it okay to ignore all the cassandras ,

and to plod ahead in my own path?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

a trip down memory lane

mayurah nrityanti
Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
"Jungle mein more naccha, kisne dekha? goes an old saying in Hindi. I can answer that I did.
This was back when I was at J.N.U for the master's program (as an aside, a master's degree does not do jack for mastery over a thing). It was the 4th semester. GRE madness was finally over. We were all busy wrapping up our projects and dissertations and sending our letters of acceptance/declines and yada yada yada. Things got hectic and that's when a break really helped. So at 5 in the evening, a few of us left our confined lab to take a leisurely walk. Mid- April, not really a time for rains but it threatened to do so that day. J.N.U has a ring road within the campus. You can start at point and be back at it in half an hr. It was always fun to take that walk as it offered views of the abundant greenery nature has blessed the place with. I still remember the curving labernum lined road leading towards the admin. Block, and the two bougainvillea laden stretches right in front of it. J.N.U is the most beautiful during April as everything is in bloom and the view is a treat for the senses.
Enough digressing, back to the walk. So we are mid way through our walk, right at the spot heading towards the parthasarthy rock. We are still on the road, when we paused. You cannot be human if you did not do so. In front of us was a flock of peafowls. Actually one peacock and a few peahens. Now imagine this, the weather is just beginning to get hot and its all dusty. And then you hear the clouds rumble and the day gets a little darker. Its not raining yet, but it is going to. And you have in front of you a peacock that is in preparation of unfurling its majestic beauty and actually dancing. That, dear friends, is a concert, no MasterCard in the world can pay for. For this you have to be in the right place at the right time.
It so happens, that we were. What followed is what is being shared here and will forever be etched in my memory.
So, the peacock starts dancing. Some peahens are watching but gradually leave. That leaves our dancing peacock with two peahens at two opposite ends. The peacock knows now that the stakes have just gone up. He starts dancing towards hen A. She is not too interested. Fine, the peacock does a 180 degree turn and starts dancing towards hen B. she is not too interested either, but by now hen A is miffed and she leaves. The peacock is now dancing for all its worth. They left finally. Don't know if the peacock was successful in its mating game. But, we got a show and yes it rained a few minutes later.
Soon, we were all done with our program and left in different directions. The ten of us are scattered all over the world but still carry in our hearts the memories we acquired.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Some vignettes from an evening well spent.

Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
Seen on a T-shirt in the subway : We all need something to believe in ........................I believe I'll have another beer.
That's what the evening was all about:beer, good authentic homemade Indian food and all my colleagues, having a nice time.
I am the sole Indian in an all-Japanese lab. Need less to say, much curiosity exists about all things Indian. This dinner was long overdue and hopefully some curiosity was satisfied about how an Indian family entertains. Mom had gone all out with her cooking. I was designated to explain to our guests what each thing was made of. Funnily, plenty of lentils figured on the menu. Finally I said yeah you guys eat a lot of beans as in tofu, we eat a lot of lentils. That worked for then.
Bossman had brought his toddler along, who once again had the run of the house. A three year old kid who is more of a Mexican jumping bean than anything else. And yes, he is familiar with naan, but just to be on the safe side, had brought his cheerios along. He enjoyed his snack and later, thankfully the food, that mom had taken pains to make non spicy while still retaining the flavor.
No, a dinner is not complete without my good friend in the lab getting drunk on one glass of beer. Yes, he has a strong case of Asian glow and no tolerance whatsoever for alcohol. But guess what, the first thing he wanted was beer. After dinner, he also wanted to know what he was having for dessert. Yeah you guessed it. He loved the rasogulla the best.
The final round in any Indian dinner has to be saunf. That took some explaining. Its herb (!), it's a mouth freshener, its an after meal digestive. I think my Asian glow friend just had enough of my explanation and he did not trust it much. So he asked my brother, this green thing, it looks like grass, is it legal. My bro the smart ass said without batting an eyelid. Its not, but we have diplomatic immunity. Its ok.
That and mom literally fed the jumping bean lil sugar lumps from her hand. I had to tell her, Ma, it's a kid, not a horse.
All in all, a fun evening. I believe I'll drink to that, or smoke some of my illegal stuff.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Watashi no hajimete O Hanami ( My first Cherry blossom viewing)

O-Hanami (literally "flowers' watching"...) is basically the celebration of the arrival of spring. On this occasion, the japanese ritual marking the passage from the winter to spring, consists of gathering under flowering cherry trees to have a party among friends.

And that’s precisely what we did. Partied under a cherry tree. Gardens in Japan are in the middle of the bustling city , but a world away from that maddening rush. Upon entering the garden I noticed a lot of people sitting down with their sketch pads, busy capturing the sights. The fruits of their labour were on display a few hours later.

On to the main picnic spot. A circular lawn with cherry trees . It was almost as if each party had claimed its own tree. So we followed suit. Spread our blue tarp. under a tree and we were set. Out came the camera, the ball, the beer and the food. And some feast it was. Almost every one had brought something or the other and then some. My lab mates even cooked. They cooked octopus, which was fun to watch. Sounded simple . Pour batter & add the octopus. let it cook. flip and let it cook some more. We burnt a few in the process but what’s a few when you are imbibing. Plenty of that was done too. Yep! no hanami is complete without the drinking. but its definitely fun to watch.

Watching is what I did most. A few beautiful memories were made in this picnic. A few beautiful moments captured. I do wish I could take a picture of the way the park looked. I guess no camera can do justice to that view. Another picture I wish I could take was of my boss’ toddler following the bubbles his mom blew for him. Or of him trying to follow a pigeon. As we sat under the cherry tree, the sun’s rays came down to us filtered through the flowers. And a few petals floated down. It was tranquil , beautiful and out of this world. For a few hours, I was in paradise.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

We are all Shylocks

We are all Shylocks
hoping , looking.
waiting and scheming,
for our pound of flesh.

Do we care,
whose blood we spill,
or, whose tears flow?
No, No, No.

We gave,
and now, we want it back.
On our terms,
according to our whims.
Eyes shining with greed,
rubbing hands with glee.
smile on our lips,
Dagger in our hand.
We wait............
for an ungaurded moment.
for a bared vulnerability.
hoping, looking.
Waiting and scheming,
For our pound of flesh

We, after all,
are all Shylocks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Unsung Heroes

We can all sing peans to our moms. From , “My mommy is the bestest” , to, “my mom’s awesome” and on to, “she is my best buddy.” In every stage of our life we appreciate our mom. How many of us have really gone , “ My daddy strongest?”

No , we are not ashamed of our dads. Just , perhaps, don’t appreciate them as much. These are the guys who are strict, who make the decisions we may not understand and hence like. But they, like Calvin’s dad, build our character.

let me share some memories I cherish. When we were in Islamabad, we made a lot of trips to India. These were always on the train. And what I remember from these trips is the mango dad fed us. One dussheri mango green at its pointy end and yellow at the top. He’d peel it with his small swiss knife kinda thing and then with the same knife make these little cubes . Me and my brother were still small enough to go wide eyed at his finesse. And he fed us the mango cubes straight off the mango.

Fast forward a few years. for as long as possible we’ve had our own rooms. But for some reason I don’t remember now, I’d sometimes fall asleep in my parents bed. And dad would let me be. Of course, he’d pick me up and put me in my own bed after sometime, but made sure I did not wake up in the process. Of course he put a stop to it some time later. Told me I was too heavy :(

Well fast forward a few more years. We are now all in the habit of sleeping in our own rooms and no messing around in our parents room. But every night when dad gets up to get a drink of water, he also makes sure to check on us . He also makes it a point to tuck us in if we’ve kicked the blanket. As a result , the best sleep I get, is at home. No where else. And all my friends say the same thing. They get the best sleep at home.

So thats me celebrating the hero in my life.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A day of halves

Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
Almost a year back................some random musings.

I am sitting on the edge of the window out of my parents room. Half in ...half out. Half in the sun ...half in the shade. There's also a cool breeze.
I can see the rooftops of all my neighbors' houses, Can hear the birds and the insects.
Pencil and a notepad in hand.
No hurry to write down anything.
Just random thoughts.
My hair are clipped in a ponytail loose enough for the breeze to rustle through.
After almost six years, I am back at my parents place. Its a weird feeling. Its like everything is there and I don't want to touch it or mess with it in any way possible.
I have my own room but I haven't decorated it yet. I've been here 20 days. I never take this long to set up my room. Don't know why I am not doing it now.
Its a beautiful day out. Clear sky after two and a half days of incessant rains.
I can hear my mom frying something in the kitchen. She just got done making gulab jamuns. I wonder what she is making now..............
Let me go check.......
Am back. Made one dish. Half actually . Seems to be a day of halves.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Of verses and rhymes and poems that are neither

in their myriad hues,
are penned down here.........
so that my heart,
that carries their load ,
may relieve itself for a while
and then get prepared
for another day.

Rest not your eyes on these.
There is fire here,
smoldering between the words.
It has scarred my soul,
and etched itself on the paper.
It’ll blaze into your heart,
and leave its soot on on your dreams,
just as it has darkened my nights.


We are all lost
in the catacombs of our memory.
Life is a saga of
you remember when.................?
and questions like what if.........?
Etched in our memories,
is a map
of what our life has been.
And may be , a clue
to what it’ll be.
We all traverse these dark tunnels often enough.
At times, lost,
and at times, sure of the rhythm of our feet.
But, travel we must.
For these lanes of our past,
beckon us again and again.
And even as we walk towards tomorrow,
in our minds eye,
We are looking at yesterday.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Aum Shinrikyo &Tokyo subway- Looking past the paranoia

Monday, 20 March, 1995 was for most a normal workday, though the following day was a national holiday. The attack came at the peak of the Monday morning rush hour on one of the world's busiest commuter transport systems.

The liquid sarin was contained in plastic bags which each team then wrapped in newspapers. Each perpetrator carried two packets of sarin totalling approximately 1 litre of sarin, except Hayashi Yasuo, who carried three bags. A single drop of sarin the size of the head of a pin can kill an adult .
Carrying their packets of sarin and umbrellas with sharpened tips, the perpetrators boarded their appointed trains; at prearranged stations, each perpetrator dropped his package and punctured it several times with the sharpened tip of his umbrella before escaping to his accomplice's waiting get-away car.

Been using the subway system ever since I got here. See people relaxed enough to sleep. They miraculously wake up once their destination arrives. Myself have been relaxed, at times, to wander off

The Tokyo subway system transports millions of passengers daily. During rush hour trains are frequently so crowded that it is impossible to move.

I have friends asking me if I have yet been pushed/stuffed inside the subway by the white gloved attendants. Lucky me, not yet. Though somedays in the morning, I have a feeling my luck might be drawing to a close. A friend also forwarded me a link to the gropefest that apparently goes on in the subway. Lucky me again. ( Won’t say more about that , don’t want to push my luck.). So yes, the tokyo metro system is crowded. The only time its not, is on national holidays. And, an empty subway is the only indicator of a day off for me. But by then , I am already halfway to work so I get in there and do my stuff. There goes my day off :)

Some days back, I got honked at by the subway driver. I thought nothing of it then. When the train stopped, I got in. An elderly japanese gentleman ( btw, am most of the time, the only foreigner in the area.........gets a lil disconcerting at times), made his way to me and asked to be excused. I took out my earphones and smiled. He told me (in english) that I got honked at because I was walking out side the yellow line on the track and its not safe to do so. He also advised me to walk inside of the yellow line, in future.

Today , as soon as the train stopped at a major station, two attendants who had been waiting, rolled out planks which then made a platform between the train and the tracks. There was a disabled person on board who needed to be helped out. The entire thing took less than a minute and and train was on schedule. ( The trains here run on a frequency of one every 5 mins or so and are fairly punctual). And just yesterday my boss was talking about cities in japan not really well planned to accommodate the needs of disabled people.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that there are problems in every system. life is a lot easier if people accept that but instead of being complacent about it, actually do something positive about it. Drastic changes do need to be made, but while we wait for those to take place, can we be human, reach out , even beyond artificial barriers of language and just help. Japanese people are doing it and it is a way of life. So much so that a gaijjin (foreigner) like me notices, and adapts it in her own life.

Did some one say hope floats?

Monday, March 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
Japanese people are well known for viewing nature in the season when it's most beautiful. In the fall, when the leaves turn red and yellow, it is a popular pastime to view the colourful foliage.The most important element is the maple tree or momiji which turns bright red and yellow in the fall. Since the maple trees are the most important, the practice of viewing them in the fall can also be called momijigari,which literally means hunting the red maple leaves.
So , when in Rome, do as the romans do.
This fall, I was in Japan, and did I go to town with the momijigari or what!
The maple was all around me and it was majestic. In contrast to the Ginko that just turns yellow and falls (all though the yellow littered floor is an awesome sight itself), the japanese maple displays its full spectra of colours from a bright green to a vermillion red, and all the shades of Jenson and Nicholson in between. (Btw, am not getting paid for saying this......I wish I was though , Tokyo is expensive.)
So yeah, as I was saying, I went nuts.I Visited a lot of parks and took pics galore of maple. Green maple, red maple, orange maple, maple with a drop of water waiting to fall from its tip, maple fallen in water, maple covering the surface of a pond, fish peeping from under the maple, maple and lotus roots...........you get the picture.
Even took one of a yellow maple leaf in the snow. My first maple picture of the year. Had to really trek for this one. Took it at Takao San which happens to be a mountain in the hilly western regions of Tokyo.
For all those interested in the pics, take a peek at


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

And the leaves started it all.................

Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
I picked up my first fall leaf today. It brought back memories of my first fall in New York City.
One fine day, while coming back from a shopping trip, with a friend, I'd picked up a few fall leaves. Call it a weird sense of decor, but those leaves went on my wall. That's when I started the transformation. Changing my room from a bare walls bare floor place to something I could call home. Someplace my friends could come and feel comfortable. Gradually, I bought some furniture and a rug. Off course the Place of pride was always natures. Some berries and stalks I got from my first trekking trip joined the leaves. Later around Christmas a few buds were added to this collection. Flowers from a date were dried and these were added. Gradually the room got there. It was not home yet, but was comfortable to come back to. And the leaves started it all...............

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
Hina means small.
Dolls, which are shaped like small human beings are used to pray for peopleĆ¢€™s happiness, have been made throughout the world.
In Japan, the practice of giving or displaying Hina dolls to pray for health and happiness of small girls began in the Edo era (17 th Century).
Ohinasama is the symbol of parents wish that they could load the dolls with evil and trouble so that their daughters grow healthily.
I have a pair of these little dolls sitting on my headboard. Mom gave them to me, the second day of my stay in Japan. Symbolic- but true. Is that not what moms do? worrying about their kids day in day out. Though I do wish that dolls like these worked. Take all the trouble lil daughters may come across on themselves. Instead, moms do it. Worry and suffer. I have seen my mom go from a really pretty young woman to a lady who though looks dignified, wears years much beyond her true age. She has aged not because the years have been rough, but because she worried each time any of us took any exam, or made a career choice. She has taken pride in our successes but has taken our lows worse than us. That has taken a toll on this spirited woman who cannot make the ride smooth for us, so she does what she has done best so far. Given us good shoes but still worried about each bump.
I wonder why they make the dolls for the daughters. Should make them for the moms. The daughters have their ohinasamas. Moms need them more.


Originally uploaded by bilbobaggins.
The best time to view the TAJ is not on a moonlit night but on a misty winter morning when the sun is just coming up. Get there early morning in January or February, stand by the gate and grab a cuppa of tea. You have the best seats in the house for the best views in the world. When the sun first starts coming up, the Taj is not yet the poetry in white, it's a mirage in grey that hangs in the sky. You might as well have dreamed it up; so ethereal is this vision of an emperor's love. Few minutes pass by, the suns a little higher the tint has changed from grey to yellow, but the vision has yet to descend to earth. Do linger, for more awaits you. As the sun rises a little higher in the zenith, its rays filter across the various treetops in the vicinity and are reflected off the marble, which now acquires a pink hue. It is also more grounded now. You now know its not a dream but reality etched in stone. The higher the sun rises, the more directly do its rays hit the Taj to make it finally appear white in its pristine glory. The show is over. Grab another cuppa or leave for your hotel room. You have just witnessed something god orchestrates every morning.
I have never seen the TAJ as I have described. I heard this view being described on the ride back from a party. Was half asleep but felt like I cud almost see it. I hope you guys can too.