Tag Archives: The Hindu

Career Choices for Children

Are children ready to make career choices when they are in tenth grade? At fifteen, my daughter was at a crossroads in her life. She had to decide whether to pursue further studies in Science, Commerce or Arts. Read the rest of my article in the Hindu here.

Devotional Journeys – CD Review

Ranjani Govind reviewed my two CDs – Anjaneya Arathi & Saranagathi in the Hindu.

Vocalist Chitra Srikrishna brings together several composers and compositions in her two music albums

There are so many ways in which one could make CD packaging an interesting combo. Thematic assemblage is something we notice these days, and what we have in Carnatic vocalist Chitra Srikrishna’s latest offer is her bringing together of several kritis on Lord Anjaneya from a variety of composers for her audio CD “Anjaneya Aarathi”(CD, Swathi Sanskriti Series, Rs. 150). She is accompanied by Charulatha Ramanujam on the violin and C. Cheluvaraju on the mridanga.

“Anjaneya is one of the champion-hero’s of our epic Ramayana and in his qualities of being a prime bhaktha towards his Lord, he embodies unalloyed devotion and is a symbol of courage and commitment. Most of the saint-composers have kritis on the monkey-God in several languages that reflects His universal appeal,” says Chitra Srikrishna who has with care selected some interesting kritis of Mysore Vasudevachar, Purandaradasa, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Tyagaraja, Swathi Tirunal and Tanjore S. Kalyanaraman.

Read the full review in the Hindu here.

Breathtaking Sorrento

[this article appeared in the Hindu recently]

Breathtaking Sorrento

 

 

Chitra Srikrishna soaks in the charms of the Bay of Naples and gets poetic

 

 

 

 

Photos: Ragini Srikrishna

Mediterranean magic Sorrento

 

 

“Buongourno! How are you?” Our genial hotel owner ushers us into a spacious room with a balcony offering a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean. Cerulean blue waters and never-ending cliffs greet us when we step through the balcony door.

Far below us, sailboats bob up and down on the Bay of Naples like rubber ducks in a bathtub and Mt. Vesuvius, a benevolent guardian. looms in the background.

Earlier that morning, my two daughters, husband and I left Rome by train. At Naples, we switched to the local Circumvesuviana line, which took nearly three hours to get us to Sorrento. Our hotel seems like something plucked out of a picture book as it lies perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the bay.

The dining room with its antique furniture and brocade tapestry is like a setting from the Renaissance period. “Will Mt Vesuvius erupt when we’re here?” my eight-year-old anxiously interrupts my dreamy thoughts. The rest of the afternoon we regale the girls with tales of Pliny the Elder and the fall of Pompeii, sitting in the terrace garden of our hotel.

Charming town

 

The sun is low in the sky when we set out on a leisurely stroll through the cobbled streets of old Sorrento.

Stores displaying glassware, furniture, and other bric-a-bracs line the streets, with gelato (Italian ice cream) stores in nearly every corner. I have to pry my husband away from a store that specialises in exquisite hand-made musical boxes and chests. “Just look at the workmanship,” he gushes. A glance at the price tag almost gives me a coronary.

My daughters are drawn to the store across the alley, where delicately carved glass containers in different shapes and colours line the display window. “Try our town specialty, the limoncello,” the shopkeeper tells us encouragingly. I grimace after just a sip from the glass thimble. The limoncello, a concoction of lemons, alcohol, sugar and water, despite its attractive packaging, is an acquired taste.

The alley winds its way to a medieval square with fruit stalls and open air cafes. We find a charming little café with red and white chequered cloth-covered tables.

 

 

I gawk around as only tourists can, even while I sip a strong cappuccino served by a friendly waiter. “Belle bambino” he murmurs as he adds another pastry to my daughters’ plate. “Don’t miss the Blue Grotto in Capri!” the waiter calls out as we leave the café, headed back to the hotel.

There’s a long line of people at Marine Grande the next morning waiting to board the motorised craft to the island of Capri. The Bay of Naples is as calm as an inland lake and we enjoy the sun in our faces and the wind whipping our hair and hats! When we get near Capri, steep cliffs and winding roads on the hills loom ahead. Soon we approach the base of some cliffs and even as our boat’s engine is cut, I see numerous canoes waiting at a small floating pier.

“That’ll be your ride to the Grotto,” says our guide, as he tries to steady the boat. Families and couples step gingerly on to the canoes as our guide warms “only two at a time!” I step off the boat on to the canoe, which wobbles dangerously, certain that its going to topple over. I seat myself on the hard floor and hang on for dear life. My eleven-year-old is more agile and just jumps in excitedly before the boatman starts rowing.

“Lie flat on your back!” he cries out suddenly and we don’t duck a moment too soon, before he rows the canoe into a narrow opening with a low ceiling. “You can sit up now.”

 

 

We’re inside a dark cavern and our eyes take a few minutes to adjust — the sound of a whole lot of Italian men singing an Aria breaks into my conscience and then the canoe turns! A myriad of blue hues cut through the darkness — for the first time in my life, I experience what “breathtaking” means!

The Blue Grotto truly deserves its name. The sunlight from the opening we had entered through transforms the entire grotto into a blue cathedral giving it a near-mystical appearance. “There’s limestone at the bottom!” explains our guide even as we gape open-mouthed at this incredible natural phenomenon. I could easily believe why people in ancient times avoided the Blue Grotto believing it to be a witch’s haven.

Later that night, as I look down at the serene waters of the Mediterranean, I find myself borrowing Amir Khusrau’s declaration “If there be heaven on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this!”

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Road Rage

[this article appeared in Hindu Metro Plus Bangalore] sometime back

road rage

Photo Credit: bikesandwich via Compfight cc

With nearly one lakh people killed annually, India has earned a needless record as the country with the second highest road accident rate according to the World Road Statistics 2007 data. This was brought home to me when I opened my door this morning and found my 13-year old standing there sobbing her heart out. I panicked; certain, that something horrible had happened to her. As indeed, it had. A motorcycle had hit the poor child after she finished her basketball camp. Just as she had stepped off the pavement to cross the road and join her father waiting across the street, a motorcycle had come racing around the corner and hit her on her arm. Fortunately, she had fallen on the side way and had not been run over.

My daughter, even as she sobbed, insisted that she had looked both ways before crossing the road. She had definitely not anticipated a speeding maniac appearing out of the blue – and at that a family man with a wife and child riding pillion! The rider stopped just for a second and rudely claimed it was my daughter’s fault before driving off, without even checking if she was okay!

This incident only highlights one of the biggest dangers on our roads. Indian drivers seem incapable of following road rules, even the most rudimentary ones intended to prevent deaths. Speeding appears to be the norm with most drivers. Everyone is in a hurry – motorcyclists driving on the pavement, buses overtaking other buses and people going the wrong way even on one ways. There is no dearth of rules but utter absence of enforcement. As the statistics show, we are clearly not prepared to follow the rules on our own.

The fact that most Indians overseas whether in the Middle East, Singapore or elsewhere are law abiding and safe drivers clearly indicates it’s a matter of enforcement rather than a national shortcoming. I wouldn’t want anyone else’s child to go through the harrowing experience mine did.

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