Miracle Garden 2014

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I don’t think there could have been a better way to spend the first day of the new year. I spent it with my sisters and our families at the Dubai Miracle Garden. I am sure with all the cameras we used to click photos that day, we would have easily crossed the 1000 mark. Yes, 1000+ photos of a 1.5 hours visit to the fabulous Miracle Garden, Dubai.

Last year I visited the place alone in the morning on a week day. I got a lot of pictures (find them at What My Camera Captures)  without random people in them. This time I wasn’t so lucky as it was too crowded. I did manage to click quite a few lovely patterns, but I missed quite a few too. 😦

What is the point in taking the pictures if you don’t share them right? So I always click two sets of pictures. One with family members and one without them for sharing here.  🙂

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Candles

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Candles

Candles

Two flames flicker in unison,

As the night falls into slumber.

Leaving behind a ray of hope,

Yes, tomorrow is going to be better……..

This is done for the PHOTOBLOGCHALLENGES Theme : Candles 

That first day

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It was my first day in college. Not just my first day in college, but my first day in any Indian Institution. My first day in a co-education system. The day in class was spent on introductions and settling down to the college atmosphere. Getting used the college air. Getting used to the “infamous” verandah in the college. Getting used to looking at a Senior with a sense of fear and maybe a bit of respect too.

The first floor was “no access domain” for the seniors. This was purely to avoid ragging of any kind. I was the only day scholar amongst girls. I didn’t have to follow the Freshie Dress Code. And what a dress code it was.! You had to wear mismatched salwar kameez. All three pieces must be of different colours. Hair must be oiled and plaited. To top it all, you had to wear only Hawai Chappals. I felt sad for the girls, in a way. But in a way I was happy too for them. They were united in that fate. I was alone.

Later, on that first day itself, we had a fresher’s meet in the auditorium. The principal and staff welcomed us, explained the rules and told us to register a complain about any inconveniences we face in college or hostel. My mom was waiting outside the college with my brother-in -law. They knew when the last bell would ring and were patiently waiting for me.

Because of the meeting , I was delayed. There were no mobile phones back then to message my mom and tell her the reason for my being late. I knew she would be upset. But, I couldn’t possibly walk out of the room just because mom was waiting, right? So I stayed till the end of the meeting.

When I walked down the steps to reach the parking lot, I noticed my mom sitting in the car with the windows down and eyes on the steps that I was going to use to come down . I saw the relief on her face when she saw me. At that point, the rebel in me, thought that she just didn’t trust me to be left alone anywhere. She has always been the over protective mom. It is only now , now that I am a mom too, do I realise what she must have gone through in that one hour that I was delayed. They did ,however, come to know about the meeting towards the end of that hour, on enquiry. But the anxiety of her child’s first day in college and the dangers that lurk around, always makes a mother paranoid.

This is the memory that came rushing back into my thoughts when I visited my college premises last month, after 17 years. That is a very long time. Almost feels like an eternity ago. How everything about me has changed since then!

You want to see it? Well, this is where it all began. My life as an adult. My life as a free (or somewhat free) soul. This is where it all changed. My thoughts, my ideas, my perception , my friends and my love.

Nothing much has changed there. A few new blocks have been added to the college and hostels and they have put check points all through the campus and hostels. Ironically , even the temple, children’s park and the park are all inside the campus. We have to cross check points to enter these premises. I had to tell them that I am an ex student and they let me in to see it all. 🙂

Let’s begin with the entrance and the steps, shall we?

MIT Entrance

MIT Entrance

Next, the entrance to the first floor , where we used to make Pookalam during Onam season. Where all the tables were laid when registrations were going on for various events. You can see the tables now too. New batch was settling in on the day I visited. It was closing time and thankfully isolated.  I have sat in one of those chairs , while I took in registrations for a cultural event. Ages ages ages ago.

MIT Entrance Hall

MIT Entrance Hall

Don’t you want to see the inside of my campus? It just brings in a flood of memories! I wouldn’t know where to begin.

The main campus

The main campus

Next comes to the second most visited place in Manipal during my stay there. This was close to our hostel and we could walk to it every morning if we wanted to. This place has brought so much Solace to aching souls there. All those homesick freshers, all those “give me marks I smash coconuts” students, all those love sick and lost souls. I bet this temple and its adjacent parks have a million stories to tell.

Sree Krishna Temple

Sree Krishna Temple

Adjacent to this temple are the parks. The one right in front of the temple was for romantic walks , complete with flowers and fountains. In front of this was a Bhel Puri Vendor. That was the first time I tasted Bhel Puri. There is still one there now and it still tastes the same. I like them without onions.

Bhel Puri Park

Bhel Puri Park

Now comes the most important place. You see the swings in the picture below? I used to spend most of my evenings there on them. That is when and where I used to think about everything with a free mind. After sunset, just after rains, in that cool wind, my hair flying all over the place. It was an amazing feeling. This is the part that I miss the most about my life in Manipal.

Park Swings

Park Swings

I have more pictures of the college and Manipal , but this post is already too lengthy. Maybe some other time, I will share more. If nostalgia forces me to.

So what are your first day in college memories? Do share them. College years are after all the best years of our lives, however uneventful they might have been…..

Thursday Challenge 2

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Yaay ! My Thursday Challenge 2 is out ! He he

THEME : THE BEST OF 2012 (A photo/event you liked best in 2012,…)

We happened to lunch at the Orient Express in Istanbul during one of the arranged tours. These photos were taken using an iPhone during the meal. I cannot say that I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, because I am not much of a food experimenter. But the hubby and son loved the meal. I enjoyed the dessert the best. Even the cake was Orange flavoured. It was the only Turkish meal we had on this trip. The ambience of the place and the history attached to it, makes it a memorable event.

The food was served in these four courses. Accompanied by Bread and Drinks. It was a totally different experience for me because I generally stick to fast food joints while on holiday. Or maybe survive on biscuits and juice. Like I said, I am not much of a Foodie that way.

Turkish Food

Turkish Food

Bread

Bread

For more pictures on the same theme, visit Thursday Challenge.

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Istanbul

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The only thing that was time consuming was the visa application. That took 3 working days. Everything else about the trip was finalized in less than 2 hours.

The days were finalized first since we needed to make the most of the UAE National Day holidays which , this time , were coupled with a weekend. Hence the planning began two weeks before the date of travel.

Tickets were booked depending on the dates and timings and of course the cost. Hotel rooms were booked next. Once that was done, “must visit” places were noted , a day tour and the red bus tour were booked. All vouchers printed and done in two hours. We were confident about getting the visas on time. And thankfully, we did!

Istanbul is one of the most common destinations from here. Many tour operators offer packages too. We did try to take a package, but the flights didn’t match ours schedule. So we did all the bookings on our own. Turned out to be a bit more expensive but definitely worth it. Istanbul can easily be covered without much assistance. The issue is only with the long queue for the tickets at the entrances of certain museums and palaces. Tours operators get them ready for you, so it saves time. And yes of course a bus full of people is always better.

I noticed the precision with which these tour operators run their business in Istanbul. Buses collect guest from various hotels in the morning. They then meet at one point and separate us according to our respective tour bookings. Then they paste little circles with our tour numbers on us to identify us. Yes, it is easy to get lost among the tourists in Istanbul. The place survives on Tourism.

The only authentic Turkish food we had was at the Orient Express Restaurant at the train station. For other times there was always Burger King or some such.

The trip was a relaxing and enjoyable one. We took our time to stroll and enjoy both the Taksim Square of the Modern part and the Sultanahmet Square of the Historical part of the European side of Istanbul. We couldn’t cross the Bosphorus Strait to the Asian side of Istanbul due to time constraints. We missed the cruise to “Princess Islands” too. These need a day each. Due to rains, I lost quite a few opportunities to click photographs and many of them were clicked from my iPhone from under an umbrella. The trip was truly a memorable one. I hope you like the pics.

Bagel Stand

Bagel Stand

Park at the Sultanahmet Square

Park at the Sultanahmet Square

Towards the Entrance of Basilica Cistern

Towards the Entrance of Basilica Cistern

Roasted Chestnut Stand

Roasted Chestnut Stand

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Station Orient Express

Station Orient Express

Obelix at Hippodrome

Obelix at Hippodrome

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Hagia Sophia

Inside the Hagia Sophia

Turkish Carpet at Matis 1

Turkish Carpet at Matis 1

Turkish Carpet at Matis 2

Turkish Carpet at Matis 2

Galata Tower

Galata Tower

Little Hagia Sophia

Little Hagia Sophia

Istanbul Tram Service

Istanbul Tram Service

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Tear Column, Basilica Cistern

Tear Column, Basilica Cistern

Red Bus Tour, Taksim Square

Red Bus Tour, Taksim Square

Entrance of Dolmabahçe Palace

Entrance of Dolmabahçe Palace

Clock Tower of Dolmabahçe Palace

Clock Tower of Dolmabahçe Palace

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Historical Tram at Tunel

Historical Tram at Tunel

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Skywatch Friday 3

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Even on vacation trips I am on the look out for beautiful skies, just so that I can post it as Skywatch Friday. And this one is my Skywatch Friday 3.

The weather in Istanbul was perfect for tourism. It did rain on one of the days that we were there and it did make me hide my camera for the day, but it definitely did not dampen the spirit. We were on a bus tour that day and the group that we ended up was a good one. Different Nationalities and different backgrounds, yet keeping a look out for each other, so that no one misses a sight or gets lost in the ocean of sightseers. That is the best part of such tours. You end up making friends even if it is just for the day.

Although the view from the Galata Tower was mesmerising, it is the sky that as usual fascinated me. So here are a few pictures from our first evening in Istanbul, just before the sunset and the lovely evening sky colours took over and made the atmosphere as romantic as ever. We found many couples cuddling in front of cameras , we clicked a few too and retreated into the cafe to have coffee and hot chocolate with our kids.

The view shows the Galata Bridge that leads to the Historical part of European Part of Istanbul, Bosphorous and the Golden Horn.

Galata Tower

Galata Tower

Istanbul Sky 1

Istanbul Sky 1

Istanbul Sky 2

Istanbul Sky 2

Plane

Plane

For more pictures of the sky, click here.

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