Christmas in Hyderabad

After spending a few Christmases away from home I thought this year I might not miss it much. I was wrong. I pined for carols and you tube versions didn't hold a flame to the laughing giggling carolers who came by each year. Nor did it lessen my longing for choir practice where we struggled to stay faithful to what we were taught and experiment with twists during the breaks. I now understand a little better why mum and so many others break their backs baking cakes and goodies. I did my share this year. Cakes cookies etc more than what the three of us could do justice to and then baked more for colleagues! 

While Christmas mass had long lost its charm ( I think the loss of charm coincided with my irritations for a certain parish priest) , I still wanted to step inside a church soak in the feel. 
A colleagues suggestions on the churches in  Secunderabad piqued my curiosity.

Nimesh and I hopped to a couple - St Mary's , Good News Baptist, CSI Diocese of Medak  and finally the Spanish Mosque. 

St Mary's was overflowing with people and the Mass was in progress. We sat for a bit and were leaving when the homily/sermon started. I stopped dead in my track when I heard the the pretty much atonal priest sing " Its only words and words are all I have ....." aieeeeee! He went on to address the puzzled congregation and draw links between the beaten to death Boyzone number and Jesus as  " word becoming flesh"!

As much as the attempt seemed desperate and populist , I had to give it to him, he got my attention. This being in marked difference from the time I found my distance  from church . I remember series of messages from the parish priests and the likes urging/demanding that we sing only "acceptable carols" and "conventional versions". What was puzzling was that as a choir we weren't even moderately experimental to start with. Wonder what got their knickers in knots?  Another lot emphasized that the congregation should not even hum the final parts of the Eucharistic prayer let alone sing it along with the priest! There were frowns (only from the priests and the purists) when we sang "When a child is born" as it was too close to the Boney M version. 

This experience at St Mary's left me puzzled in puzzled smiles.

Next stop was the CSI , Diocese of Medak  and definitely it was the highlight of the day. The church was deserted when we got there and sunlight streamed in through the large windows. Minimally adorned with Christmas finery, simple huge benches reminding me of some old sofa I've seen in Kerala. We spent a good half hour soaking in the place and moved on to the Spanish Mosque. Here I was not allowed to enter (being female) and resented it every bit. 

But nonetheless , a little bit of Christmas cheer left its mark on me and I went back to happy baking in the evening. Yes , its not the same without familiar faces , family and the choir , but we all reinvent traditions as we move along and carry a feel of what was best in our past. Sometimes it takes a day like yesterday to revisit the memories , hold them closer and send up a thanks for having them in your life. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Rockathon- Hyderabad University

I found myself at Hyderabad University last Sunday at an event called the Rockathon. Amidst an eclectic mix of people I found that the day offered some interesting opportunities. A rock walk , photography contest , poetry writing , sketching , rappling etc etc. Being my first time , I figured a rock walk should be what I should head for and I was thrilled to pieces with the experience. Sharing some images

Mobor , Goa

We were just getting to know each other - early 2010. I was frustrated with work and the path often picked by me in such situations was simply getting off the path. Dropping off the radar so to speak. Nimesh echoed a similar desire, albeit not coming from similar reasons. By the end of our discussion we seemed to be planning a trip together much to my amusement. A week passed and the only suggestion that was consistently rearing its head was Goa. Having been there twice and having an inkling of how diverse our agenda’s for Goa would have been I remember wondering…is this a good idea? That trip didn’t take off and a few years since we finally made it there. Surprisingly, or not so much (thankfully), we found ourselves on common footing for planning out the agenda (do nothing). We narrowed in on Bamboo House in Mobor, and it has been one of the most blessed decisions we could have made. 

The location has some crazy advantages and I’m unable to decide which of these tops the list. It is right where the river Sal meets the sea. The nearest shacks were far enough to be just  a clutter of lights and lanterns and the only part of the music that reached us were some muted beats. This meant that we had beautiful evenings and peaceful sleep broken occasionally with a huge wave crashing on the beach.

One of the days saw us going to Anjuna. We had headed there in the hope of taking a dekho at the flea market. It was worth it. Massive as it was, it housed 100s of little stalls with all kind of stuff. Woollens, tea , masala, bags , jewellery and your regular typical Goan fare of sarongs . What really got our attention were middle aged Gujarati women at the masala stalls and of course the exchange of thick wads of money every 20 steps or so. Handling that kind of money with such almost dismissive ease…..! ?!

The drive to and from Anjuna had us pass through many villages and being the pillion rider I had the opportunity to gawk at the homes. This being my favourite activity in a new place, I made the most of it.   For now I seem to be able to see the drive without the ability of putting it to words, Maybe sometime later.

While returning from a lazy lunch we found the beach dotted with kites- facing the sea… their sight fixed on the horizon. Proud and very textbook General-like.  Sand plovers (?) bobbed around just about touching the water, as we walked. Some mornings, we’d go where the river meets the sea. We watched boats come and go, the kites, crows, egrets and dogs competing for the left overs. I suspect the competition was just for fun, there seemed to enough for everyone.

Back at Bamboo House we had delightful conversations with the owners. Amandeep and his father. From Tito’s to Ankleshwar (Gujarat) and from Russian mafia to the crafts persons from Tripura who built the cottages, the conversation was warm , enthusiastic and easy flowing. The stay at bamboo house was lovely. They have comfortable uncluttered cottages/huts without the frills of room service (the restaurant is next door). I watched each morning as Aman’s father switched off the lights in the verandas and on looking around one can feel the simple warmth with which the place is run.  We hope to return to it next year.