Mexico City in Christmas Time


A Pilgrimage

The vihara at Nagarjunakonda island (click to enlarge images)

It required a visit to the ancient town reconstructed at Anupu on the banks of the Krishna river to drive home what a great setback the decline and destruction of Buddhism was to Indian civilization. A number of reasons have been ascribed to account for the atheistic religion’s demise in the land of its birth. This includes the one pointed out by DD Kosambi- that the Buddhist monasteries succumbed to their opulence. Another theory is that it was too closely aligned with centralized states and when those broke up, so did the religion. Whatever be the reasons for its ultimate decline, it is certain is that its successor- Brahmanical Hinduism, was worse. As I gazed over the monastery and the amphitheater a deep sense of reverence and awe came over me. It was soon broken, though, by the chants of shalokas from the Bhagavad Gita over the loudspeaker from a close by temple. The sound was metaphorically shattering. It was Shancaracharya, after all, who sounded the death knell of Buddhism and revived the Gita.
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‘Same Same but Different’

peeppeep-fullcoverPeep Peep Don’t Sleep
Author: Ajay Jain
Non-fic (Travel)
Price: INR 350, US $19.95, UK £11.95

Available at: Ajay Jain’s Blog

By Bhaswati Ghosh

We thought travel was about visiting places, soaking up the atmosphere of new territories, and relishing the journey. Who could have known Road Signs could be part of the travel entertainment package as well? Yes, Road Signs, those inevitable pointers along the way that we take no more seriously than empty coke cans strewn across the terrains we travel through.

Welcome then, to the world of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the Indian agency responsible for construction and maintenance of all roads in areas along India’s borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, and Bhutan. For, BRO, with its BROtherly (even fatherly at times) attitude, can turn the toughest of driving trips along India’s edges into the funniest. Many a traveler journeying through these often rugged stretches must have enjoyed a smirk or four reading BRO’s imaginative Road Signs. Author-journalist Ajay Jain has, however, done a favour to those of us who are yet to grab the fun for ourselves. With his book, Peep Peep, Don’t Sleep.

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Toronto, after the first snow of the season last week

It was a return to Toronto after 9 years, and I found my impressions this time very different from my last visit from when I carried the images of dark, gloomy skies and snow and rain. This time, it was sunshine and visits to the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery that temporarily housed the Catherine collection from the Hermitage, a deferential visit to the Niagara (again after 9 years and from the opposite, Canadian side). But what turned out to be best was a walk through Chinatown, and meeting a friend- Gaurav Joshipura- after nearly a quarter of a century…. suddenly I realized that not much had changed !The Bible in arabic script, from the Syrian Orthodox church. Royal Ontario Museum

Tusks at the Royal Ontario Museum

A feast in a Vietnamese eating place in Chinatown and …

… some imaginative names for a bookstore and a pub, both next to the Art Galley/ Chinatown.