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Living with Multiple Myeloma in Hyderabad , India . Random musings .


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Fun times at Granny’s Village – Mar 2019

Got an opportunity to visit my Granny’s Village , (My Maternal Grandmother). The Village is near Nellore. This time my Sister ,nice , nephew , me and my son were able to make a trip for a few days.

Love the Village atmosphere . I can never get tired of going there any number of times.

Every moment from Sunrise to Sunset is something that we can never ever experience in the Cities that we live in.

Being able to actually watch the Sun Rise , the cool morning Golden Sun rays , the cool morning breeze, the cocks crowing , the pure Oxygen filled air that you can fill your lungs without thinking of the pollution ……Village folks going about their activities , sounds of brooms while women sweep / clean their front porches , followed by Muggu / kolam …. tractors moving through the village on their way to the fields , sounds from the few Autos / Bikes in the village… Street vendors selling their wares , the villages kids playing with crude toys , young village boys playing Volley ball in the evenings , the sounds of bells from the Goats being taken for grazing , Bird calls , Sound of breeze from the waving paddy fields , the paddy dancing in the breeze, buffaloes on their way back home, the cool sea breeze flowing in from the sea from 3 pm onward, lying on a cot in the open air and watching the starlit sky, having dinner under the stars sitting on the cot .

Close up of Rice Panicle
The Road leading to our village.
Walking on the Beach near our village with my Niece.

These are life’s simple pleasures that I always look forward to.

Food tastes yummier in the village 🙂 don’t know why 🙂 .

There are hardly any thoughts … just being in the present moment.

A drive to the Beach via roads with paddy fields on either side, animals grazing lazily … An evening at the Beach which is a few kilometers from our Village,walking on the beach barefoot without a care… picking sea shells .. watching how the ocean never tires of sending waves since eternity.. watching fishermen with their boats on the horizon and wondering if I can go on one of the boats someday 🙂

Already looking forward to my next visit.


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Hyderabad to Pondicherry- Dec 2018

The plan was to visit Kanchipuram and Chidambaram while staying at Pondicherry. There is a direct flight to Pondicherry from Hyderabad. A one and half hour journey which is the best way to reach Pondy quickly. The other option is to go via Chennai and then drive to Pondy by road. One can also spend a few hours at Mahabalipuram which is on the way. We took the flight.

Here is a Summary of our stay in Puducherry.


What to see –

Beaches

View of Promenade Beach and the walking path from the Terrace of Le Cafe
Le Cafe and the Walking Path along the beach.
The Rocky , noisy Promenade Beach
Serenity Beach

There are four well known beaches namely the Promenade beach , Serenity beach, Paradise beach and Auro beach. We were able to spend an evening at the Promenade and Serenity beaches. Promenade is good for a nice long walk along the road at Sunset. Lots of rocks placed on the shore to prevent erosion. Serenity beach is good for spending some time in the water. Lots of fishing boats parked here. If you are adventurous try some surfing here. The sand is nice and white and the place is quite clean too.

Whitetown This is a part of the town which was colonized by the French and has several buildings (Official and Residential) built in European Architecture style . This area is adjacent to Promenade beach. One can take a stroll around the area to appreciate the architecture , visit the numerous restaurants, cafes , art museums dotted all over the place. Several villas have been converted into Heritage accommodations and have a colonial ambiance. The restaurants serve excellent French Cuisine.

Aurobindo Ashram

The building is quite big when seen from the outside , but once you go in your movements are restricted. Lots of containers with flowering plants greet you as soon as you enter the path leading to the Samadhis. Haven’t been to a place which is as calm as this place though there were a lot of people paying their homage at the Samadhi , which is made in marble and beautifully decorated with a lot of fragrant flowers . Several foreigners paying their respect and several others sitting nearby in quiet complemplation only to be disturbed by the shrieks of parrots. They have a bookstore with books translated from French into several Indian and Foreign languages. Books compiled by disciples from the various speeches given by Shri Aurobindo and the Mother. I bought books that were related to Healing and found that the gist of the writings are very useful for those who want to help / heal themselves in a Spiritual way.

Churches

There are several churches in Whitetown. We stopped at the Lady of Angels Church while going on a tour of Whitetown in a Rick.

Temples

Among the several Temples in Pondicherry we visited the Manakula Vinayagar temple in Whitetown. This is a popular ancient temple which a few centuries old and was revived in spite of several attempts by the french to demolish.

Street Shopping Every town has a few streets that are popular for cheap goodies. Nehru Market is supposed to be very popular and is crowded on Sundays. Our Cab driver told us that Vehicles are not allowed in these streets on Sundays. One can also do some shopping just outside the Vinayagar Temple.

Where to Stay –

Hotels / Villas / Homestays etc are available and one can choose as per their convenience. Several French Villas are converted into Boutique Hotels and do have a restaurant. There are several options closer to the beach too. We stayed in a Hotel as we preferred an elaborate Buffet Breakfast 🙂 coz we would be travelling the whole day and were not sure when/where the next food stop would be.

Where to eat –

Lots of South Indian Restaurants if you wish to try the traditional Tamil/Chettinad food. We went to Karai Chettinad and the Shrimp curry there was awesome. One must try French Cuisine at the several restaurants in Whitetown. Had Dinner at the open air restaurant in Le Dupleix. The food was too good with Live music.

Vegetable Ratatouille. A yummy dish with lots of veggies in a silken gravy and rice.

Auroville

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The Golden Globe . Matrimandir .
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One of the huge Banyan trees near Matrimandir.
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The Boutiques near Visitors Center
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One of the placards displayed in the campus.

A major attraction in Puducherry after the beaches and Whitetown is Auroville. Its a half day trip 10km up north of Pondicherry. As we reached the visitors centre we learnt the tickets to enter Matrimandir were sold out. One has to buy tickets in person. It was a disappointment but it appears they want people to visit the place two times. We watched the Intro video at the visitors center and started walking towards Matrimandir which is 1km from the VC. I preferred taking the battery vehicle which caters to those with kids and elders. I requested to let me go in the vehicle though I didn’t belong to either of the groups and they obliged 🙂 . On our way back I preferred to walk. The place is a young artificial forest , 20 sqkm ,with a variety of trees. The path is beautiful and shady. Only Bicycles and Bikes are allowed inside the campus. Highly advisable to rent a Bike/Bicycle to go around the campus. The Boutiques near the VC, which have a beautiful display of handicrafts and hand made items. Clothes, Crockery , Lamps , processed foods made with Organic produce like jams , snacks etc. We also visited the famous Auroville Bakery . One should stay and spend a few days at Auroville to get a feel of the place and for the mystery of Auroville to be revealed.

How to travel within Puducherry –

Several modes of transport are available. Most youngsters rent a Bike/Bicycle which is actually very comfortable as the traffic is quite less compared to other big cities in India. Several Online Bike Rentals are available and there are a lot of choices. Ola cabs service is good. At the end of a trip , Ola drivers will invariably ask you if you have other plans to travel around Puducherry. When we told them about our plans to Kanchipuram and Chidambaram ,they quickly arranged a cab for a reasonable price compared to the prices quoted by a travel agency. There are autos too plying around but I haven’t seen too many.

I will definitely want to visit Pondicherry again to spend time on the beaches , walking along the streets in Whitetown , eating Chettinad food and French cuisine and also spend more time in Auroville .


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Picture story from a recent visit to our Village – Apr 2018

Here are a few Pics from my recent visit to our Village near Nellore.

Free Range hens with their little ones . This is one of the most common sights as soon as you leave a city or town. The moment you see them near you , you would be tempted to rush and catch hold of one of those little ones but would fail miserably 🙂

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Another common sight is the Dry Hay Stack. Once the harvest season is completed , all the Hay is collected and shaped into this form . It is then tied with a rope, made out the hay, to protect the hay stack from the wind. Cows and Buffaloes munch on this Hay when there is no grass during Summers.

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Time to go home after grazing and playing in the fields , the whole day.

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This woman has brought her wares , fresh green leafy veggies and Raw Mangoes . She has come all the way from the neighboring village where these are grown. She carries her stuff in a cloth and an Aluminium vessel. People in the villages get to eat fresh veggies which are harvested in the morning or on the previous day. The veggies that we get in the cities , that are on the shelves of the supermarkets and sold by other friendly neighborhood vegetable vendors are from the cold storage’s and would have been lying there for days / weeks / months.

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Mango Chutney is being made in the traditional way, using a Stone Mortar and Wooden Pestle . The taste of chutneys is doubled when prepared in this way rather than in a Mixer Grinder. Good exercise for the body too as one has to sit on the floor .

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Rice balls (Rice powder + Jaggery water + Ghee ) steamed in a clay pot.

 

Time for the ducks to go home after eating/playing in the adjacent fields.

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Looking forward to my next visit 🙂


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Road trip from Hyderabad to Kavali

Time for my yearly sojourn to Granny’s village near Kavali. From 23 Dec 2017 to 27 Dec 2017.

Drove from Hyderabad to Kavali via Nalgonda-Narsaraopet-Chilakaluripet-Ongole.

 

hyd to kavali

Started at 7am and planned to have breakfast at Village Aharam , an organic restaurant which is around 20km after exiting the ORR. We saw huge crowds  and so decided to go to NGrill resto which is 50km from the ORR. This was equally crowded and had to wait for a table.

This stretch is a busy one , with lots of people driving between Hyderabad and Vijayawada and prefer to have breakfast in one of these places.

Stopped for lunch after crossing Narasaraopet . Found a kachcha road on the left and parked under a tree.

A pleasant drive with all the greenery and great weather. This time of the year is beautiful for travelling by road. Excellent roads especially the stretch from Chilakaluripet to Kavali which is part of the National Quadrilateral. It is an 8 lane express highway  , maintained beautifully and is as good as any interstate highway in the USA and other developed countries. Thanks to our erstwhile Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee , we are able to drive on such roads in India.

We drove through a variety of fields . It is the season for various crops like Chilli , Cotton , Tobacco and Paddy during this time of the year.

Reached Kavali by 4pm. A non-stop drive would take 7 hours.

Life in a village is like life on another planet . They have their own set of joys and challenges.

Here are a few sights along the drive :

A Marigold field.

The Krishna river near Miryalaguda. The left bank of the river is in Telangana and the right bank is in Andhra Pradesh.

There is a Restaurant above this Toll gate.

Following pics are from our village :

 

Paddy fields.

Spent a few days in our village which is 5km from the Bay of Bengal. The population in the village is around 500 . Each time I visit , I  see a few developments in the village . One of the road leading to the village is being widened as a small harbour is being developed around this part of the ocean . Lots of Autos in the village now . The erstwhile Bus has been stopped due to increase in the number of Autos. A water tanker supplies water to every house in the village for washing/cleaning  purposes. There are no water supply yet, though pipelines have been laid. Filtered drinking water is also supplied in 20 liter plastic drums from a water treatment plant for a decent price. The underground water in this area is salty and not fit for drinking. There is just one well on the outskirts of the village which has sweet water. One of them in the village has bought a Car and an Air Conditioner. The first signs of urbanisation in the village 🙂 Sign of prosperity .

Recently TTD has started construction of a Rama temple in the village.

IMG-20171004-WA0015Smartphones are being used to check weather conditions , levels of water in the surrounding lakes as the irrigiation is through canals . They also check information about government schemes.

Enjoyed fresh unpolluted air and fresh food. Started back on the 5th day at 9am and reached Hyderabad at 5pm. Had our packed lunch under a huge tamarind tree . Had Tea at Vivera restaurant near Narketpally. One can buy some fresh veggies too at this place.

Back to the hustle bustle of the city…as we enter the Financial district in Hyderabad …

Till my next visit…..

 


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Drive from Hyderabad to Annavaram

A wish of mine, which is about travelling to the ‘Kerala of the East’ materialized quite soon. My cousin planned his Son’s wedding in Annavaram. This little town close to the Indian East coast is popular for its Satyanarayana Swamy temple. The temple is on a little hill which is part of the Eastern ghats in South India.

hyd to annavaram route map

We drove from Hyderabad to Annavaram , via Vijayawada and Rajahmundry. Started at 7am and had breakfast at N Grill Resto on NH65 . This place is 50km after you exit the Outer Ring Road . It is a new restaurant, spic and span with good food and well maintained rest rooms.

We didn’t stop anywhere else till we reached Vijayawada. Had lunch at my Cousin’s place in Vijayawada where the ‘Pellikoduku’ event took place. After lunch we started off to Annavaram via Rajahmundry at around 4pm. The road from Vijayawada up to Eluru was very bad ,in-spite of toll being collected on this stretch. Supposed to be one of the busiest stretches in the country.

Took almost 5 hours to reach Annavaram , checked into Hotel Abhay . Not up to my expectations, but we were too tired to crib about the upkeep of the place and crashed for the day. Woke up to a beautiful view of the Pampa Reservoir and the Eastern Ghats , adjacent to the hotel . The reservoir was full owing to the recent bountiful rains.

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This was the best part of our journey.

Went for the early morning darshan. Annavaram Temple is very popular for performing mass ‘Satyanarayana Swamy Vratam’ by couples and also for performing Mass weddings. Saw lots of newly weds all over the place. There are small temporary Mandaps in a few places where the wedding vows are made. Reminded me of an Assembly line production factory where married couples are churned out 🙂 .

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Got back to our room after darshan of Sri Satyanarayana Swamy and got dressed for the wedding , to be held at one of the A/C halls adjacent to the temple.

Met lots of Cousins and their families. Started back to Hyderabad immediately after the wedding via Rajamundry and Vijayawada.

On my way back I noticed stubble burning in the recently harvested fields. All the while I assumed that stubble burning is restricted to Punjab and other states around Delhi , but to my surprise I saw lots of fields being burnt in Andhra Pradesh too.

Mechanical Harvesters are being used all over the country . This is clearly a side effect of using Mechanical Harvesters which leave a stubble one feet in height while harvesting.

The farmers have no time to let the stubble rot in the soil as they have to immediately sow the next crop. Hence burning is the easiest way out with no cost involved. High time to solve this menace and stop all the pollution.

As we got closer to Rajahmundry , we came across lots of plant nurseries stretching for several kilometers on either side of the road . Did not have the time to stop by as we would get late. All the plant nurseries in Hyderbad are maintained by folks coming from this place.

Had dinner at Hotel Vivera near Narketpally , which is around 55km from Outer Ring Road. One of the best places , closer to Hyderabad , where once can stop for a quick snack or even have lunch/dinner.

This trip almost fulfilled another wish of mine where I wanted to stay by a riverside for a few days. However, I got the opportunity to spend a beautiful morning by a reservoir flanked by hills and sipping coffee 🙂


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Diwali and cancellation of my Official trip to Delhi.

Every festival in India is celebrated with gaiety . Diwali too is celebrated in all parts of India in different ways. 

Almost all the Hindus clean up their homes , all family members get involved in decorating the house with Rangoli , thoran and diyas . Most Hindus also perform puja to Goddess Lakshmi in the evening .

There was a time when I too would look forward to Diwali , I still do but now there is some nervousness.

It is due to the burning of firecrackers during Diwali. All the towns and cities turn  into gas chambers and the fog worsens the situation as the weather transitions from Rainy season to the Winter season . The environment turns toxic owning to the harmful chemicals used in the making of  these crackers. 

There is a rise in patients getting admitted to hospitals immediately after Diwali with complaints of respiratory issues. Small children and old are the most affected. In spite of the rise in pollution people do not realize the harm that we are causing to ourselves and the planet by burning crackers.  

Glad that in 2016 the Supreme Court had banned the burning of crackers in Delhi . But, how many heed to the order. Every day some of the News Channels display the pollution levels in the bigger towns and cities in the Country. This year it is learnt that Crackers are already illegally stocked up by the traders in spite of the ban . They will find numerous discreet ways to sell their wares.

I am allergic to dust and all kinds of smoke. I do my best to avoid such environments.This year Diwali is being celebrated on 19 Oct.  I had to cancel my Official trip to Delhi on 23 Oct  for this reason. I cannot take the risk of travelling during this time as the smog in Delhi is very severe and pollution reaches very dangerous levels. Emissions from vehicles, Thermal power plants around Delhi and crop stubble burning around Delhi are the reasons for the severe Smog in Delhi during this part of the year. Add to this all the toxic emissions from burning Fire crackers and you create a recipe for disaster. Delhi turns into the worst polluted city in the world.

Unfortunately , people do not understand and compete with friends and neighbors as to who burns the most crackers. It also pains that the supreme court ban is being  politicized and communal color added 😦

Looking forward to the day when Firecrackers are banned all over the country . High time the manufacturing of these crackers are banned. Hope to celebrate a noiseless , smokeless  and pollution free Diwali in the near future. 

 

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Happy Deepawali !!

 

 

 

 

 


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Go Goa !

Time to get some Vitamin Sea :))

Been to Goa a few days ago , from 1 Apr to 4 Apr 2017.

This is not the right time of the year to visit Goa. Summer has just begun . However , I didn’t find it too humid. Loved the weather , except for some discomfort during midday.

We drove through this small residential area called Fontainhas, which has some of the most beautiful Goan houses ….or rather Portuguese styled houses…very colourful and well maintained .. Felt as though we were transported to Portugal itself 🙂

Mum’s Kitchen is one of the best Goan Restaurants. Went there for lunch one day. Great food !!.Tasted ‘Goan Port wine’ for the first time. Supposed to be a short form of ‘Portugese wine’ as it has Portugese influence. I don’t drink but I wanted to taste this one. It is a Red wine and was very sweet. I think I liked it :). My Ayurvedic doctor says I can have little bit of Red wine once or twice a week.

Visited St Francis church.

Also went to see Aguada fort.

I love Goan food . Been there once before. Nothing like fresh seafood … something that I yearn for, while I am in Hyderabad. Goan flavours are too good ..the combination of  coconut and Kokum in fish and prawn curries is yummm 🙂

‘Saturday Night Market in Arpora’ is an exciting experience.

Lots of stalls selling Junk Jewellery, casual clothes and local handicrafts. There’s a live band playing in the center of the market , surrounded by food stalls. Bought some junk stuff too …too tempting not to buy 🙂

Went to Calangute beach one evening, for water sports. Took the Scooter ride. My first such ride. The guy was too fast .It is a 30 second ride . The waves were rough. Each time I tell myself that I will not do any more rides but I invariably end up doing a new one each time 🙂

Had lunch at Brittos , one of the best Beach Shacks in Goa. This one is on Baga Beach.Food was tooo good.

We also had dinner at one of the less crowded shacks…at Mama Cecilias Shack on Candolim beach…

We were staying in Candolim and hence preferred to walk  down to the beach…which is 500m away…in fact ,there were very few folks here….unlike the beaches at calangute or Baga which are too crowded because of  water sports…spent a lot of time on this beach … watched the Sun set ….  watched the moon rise …. had dinner at the shack . It is a different experience altogether.  The laziest time I have ever spent…. feels as though you own the beach…almost like a private beach with just the sand ,the sea …Watching the sun set and then the stars …Feeling the breeze… Having dinner with the sounds from the sea as background music… loved the experience.

Something about the sea makes you live in the present moment…And time stands still