Tirumala 1: The Steps

Tirumala is a Vaishnava pilgrimage center near Tirupati in southern Andhra Pradesh.  It sits atop a high hill—

The way up is a long staircase of more than 2000 stairs.  Some devotees mark ever step with red color or yellow turmeric powder or will light camphor blocks

People climb up the stairs as an act of devotion:  These guys had come on foot all the way from Bangalore, a nine day walk (the yellow clothes show they are on pilgrimage).

The stairs come out on a beautiful pavilion.  It turned out to be the most peaceful part of the trip, but more on that later. Enjoy the view!




Pune Wine Festival

Probably the greatest booze fest I have been to in India.  Ok, it was the only booze fest I have been to in India, but either way, India is starting to be increasingly self-confident about its wines, and they’re getting better.  There was still a bit of cognitive dissonance seeing the kathakali guy advertising wine.  Incredible India.

Ah! The Deccan Plateau  (Yes, there really is a winery in Pune http://www.deccanplateauwines.com/)

With plenty of wine, booze cupcakes, and santa hats to go around, the grape stomp got weird quick

Anyway, here’s the website for the Pune Wine Festival:  http://winefest.in/

The world of poetry is thick with signs

Something I translated from the Kāvyadarpaṇa—

The luster of the young woman’s (taruṇī) face completely darkens instantly,

again and again (muhuḥ) glancing towards the young man (taruṇa) of the village,

his hand holding a sprig of fresh vañjula flowers.

By saying “the young man of the village,” it is suggested that he is the only young man in the village, and therefore hard to get in that he is the lover of many.  Saying young [in the case of the man] (taruṇa) suggests he is skilled in the arts of love, and [in the case of the woman] saying young (taruṇī) suggests she is longing for lovemaking. [The compound] beginning with “his hand holding a sprig” suggests an uddīpanavibhāva.  Showing that it is possible to grab the blossoms with his hands suggests the suitability of the base of the vañjula plant for uninhibited sexual enjoyment, since the vañjula boughs touch the surface of the ground.  By the word “glancing,” which is conjugated in the present tense, it is understood that her face darkens the moment she sees him.  [This is the figure] atiśayokti.  By the word again and again (muhuḥ) both her eagerness and her looking only at intervals because she is frightened of people [who might observe] is suggested.  The word “completely” suggests the severity of her offence [to him], the word “dark” shows the external manifestation (anubhāva) [of her frustrated love].  Here in this verse the offending behavior of the heroine is the suggested sense: “I made a assignation with him in the vañjula bower, but did not go.  Still he went there and brought a vyañjula bouquet to indicate that he went and came again so that I would realize it.  Alas! my offence!”  And that [suggested sense] does not cause aesthetic relish, because it destroys the rasa.  On the other hand, the primary sense does cause aesthetic relish, because it has the capacity to suggest frustrated love (here: vipralambhaśṛṅgāra).

After the Storm.

Cyclone Thane hit Pondicherry while I was in Pune.  I came back a two or three days and was shocked at what I saw, but also surprised at the amount of clean up work that had already been done.  The ECR was open and most of the streets in the town were clear enough to drive through.

On the way to the EFEO


tea stall by the park

Anjaney Sharma, Manjunath and I walked through the fallen trees to Janaki Tea Stall in the afternoon.  Usually jovial, A. Sharma stopped suddenly and said “I am remembering old scholars.”  The trees, the time it took to grow and become large, the few hours in which they snapped into pieces.  We then realized that the leveled trees were tamarind, and we began to grab as many of the kaccha seed pods as we could.  When life gives you fallen tamarind, you might as well make chutney.

Out here on the Western Ghats

The Western Ghats are a chain of mountains that run along the western coast of India.  On my trip to Maharashtra over New Years, I was able to get out there for a little while.  Pictures taken outside of Pune, near Lavasa and Jadavgadh:

Here’s a big banyan:



Village farmland near Jadavgadh:

Late afternoon over the reservoir by Lavasa: