Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers of Bali

These photos are part of Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge - Containers.

Containers of Bali (Indonesia) provide a glimpse into the local culture, faith and beliefs of the population and their daily life. Here I present few photos clicked in Bali, suitable to this week’s theme. Read more about Bali here.

Bali Culture

Bali

Bali Shop

Bali Morning

Bali

Bali Coffee

Bali Locals

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic of Mindless Tradition in Madrid

Word of Caution: Very Sensitive readers may want to avoid few photos depicting cruelty on animals.

Plaza de Toros Madrid

Not all relics should be preserved. Nor every tradition and culture are a matter of pride, always.

Matador and Bull

I was a witness to the death of three bulls in the Plaza de Toros – the main bullfighting arena of Madrid. Before i was there, i had no inkling of what exactly transpires in the bullring. Quite oblivious, and fascinated with the misinformation and misguided by videos and TV clips that bullfighting is just a sport between man and animals to prove one’s superiority, i was sitting in the ‘famous’ bullring of Madrid, dating back to 1929. Interestingly, this bloody sport is also regarded as an example of fine art where matadors exhibit their skills.

Bullfight

Bulls were baited by the matadors. They were chased by them and finally drained off their energies. And then started the most cruel aspect of this bloody sport. Spears with sharp barbs were stabbed in the neck of bulls repeatedly, so as to attempt piercing through their heart. And thus, these powerful bulls were tamed and finally, bled to their slow and torturous death, in the grandeur of tradition and culture.

Death of Bull

Any such sport which cannot let men and animals co-exist on this earth are not worthy of applause and cheer. These animals are not for the purpose of your entertainment. Taming and killing animals does not prove the superiority of humans. It is not something to be proud of. Rather it demonstrates the cowardly side – how vulnerable humans are.

Bullfight

Relics

With this week’s theme and photos, i would like to create an awareness among many ignorant enthusiasts like me, who visit these rings for the first time, unconsciously, and return back heaving a sigh. Let us put an end to such relics!

Do let us know your thoughts on such cruelty to animals. Shouldn’t these traditions be banned? Will you make the mistake which I committed? Help me in promoting this cause towards animals against such barbaric and mindless killings.

Read my poem Wings on freedom and the better future. I Long to is another such poem with similar theme.

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This blog is part of Daily Post – Weekly Photo Challenge and this week’s theme is Relics.

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A Grammy Awaits Norbert Wiener in 21st Century

This article was first published in the newsletter (February) of IEEE 2014 Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century, Boston (USA). Read newsletter here.

This article was also cited by Jim Siegelman, journalist and author of several books which includes the book on Norbert Wiener, during his keynote address at the Boston Conference in June, 2014

Norbert Wiener

Photo Courtesy: IEEE 2014 Conference on Norbert Wiener in 21st Century Website

How many times have we heard this ‘we are living in the age of information’? Many a times, you would listen ‘Hey, if you have information in this era of cyber world, you are the king. But how many of us really know about the original king of ‘information? Probably, the history needs to be kinder enough to this genius. Whatever is the reason for not having a Nobel Prize for mathematics, the fact remains that Norbert Wiener, one of the greatest mathematicians of all times, would have been the perfect recipient of one such prize. While reading New York Times recently, I came across this article on Norbert Wiener. The author mentions that a truly, famous scientist needs to have a single hit, like the Grammy’s or Oscars. If we talk of the research and science fraternity, it could be like Einstein being synonymous with theory of relativity, Newton attached with gravitational or the Niels Bohr’s theory of atom. And then I wondered, isn’t Wiener synonymous with cybernetics or Information?

Clive Thompson mentions in his NY Times article, that there is a different category of scientist “who never breaks through, usually because while his discovery is revolutionary it’s also maddeningly hard to summarize in a simple sentence or two. He never produces a catchy hit single. He’s more like a back-room influencer: his work inspires dozens of other innovators who absorb the idea, produce more easily comprehensible innovations and become more famous than their mentor could have dreamed.” Incidentally, Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman titled their book as ‘Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics‘, which probably hints at the stark reality that the scientific community owe a lot to Wiener and he is still due for his name in the annals of history. 

Book by Jim Siegelman

Photo Courtesy: Stillpointpress website of Flo Conway & Jim Siegelman

Norbert Wiener may be a figure of extreme sorts. On one hand, he was a genius par excellence, a great mathematician, who contributed in the areas of electrical engineering, physics and biophysics. Otherwise how would you explain a man who started his college at the age of 11 and successfully completed his PhD from Harvard when he was only 18. He had once said, with disappointment writ large on his face that his father spoke seventeen languages fluently but he spoke only twelve. On the other extreme, he was an absent-minded, heavy built, professor, who it seems, forgot where his new house was. Once his memory failed him, it is said, and he did not remember that he came all the way to the conference, driving his own car and hence returned back in a bus. It seems in the morning when he could not locate his car in his garage, he complained to the police that someone had stolen his car. There are numerous such interesting anecdotes told by his students and colleagues. But whatever be the case, it is more important today than ever that the current world, growing and thriving on the over-dose of information should not forget the contributions of this 300 pound plus mathematician who regularly puffed his cigar at an angle of 45 degrees to the ground.

Not accepting any research funding from the military establishments and participating in those has often been cited as the reason for his poor and often no positioning in the history. He was not invited to participate in the Manhattan project which ultimately created the atomic bombs. His good relationship with researchers from erstwhile Soviet Union was always suspected during the Cold War era. He often voiced his concerns over the interference of the political establishments in the research works and in the application of science and technology to wage wars and develop weapons of mass destruction.

Norbert Wiener was an interesting figure. And in the 21st century, it is more than relevant to bestow what has been long overdue to him. Let us give him his Grammy. To conclude, I would like to quote one of the songs of Brian Eno, an English composer, musician, and singer. “Although variety’s the spice of life / A steady rhythm is the source / Simplicity’s the crucial thing / Systemically of course (work it all out like Norbert Wiener)”.

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Did you know about Wiener? Share with us about your piece of information on Wiener and Cybernetics. Do let me know if you will be interested to know more about Wiener and his works on Cybernetics. Also, visit conference website here.

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Read about my experience at SEPG (Software Excellence Process Group) Europe Conference 2012, Madrid (Spain), conducted by Carnegie Mellon University.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts in Seattle

Before I flew for Seattle in the October of 2012, everyone told me to enjoy and immerse myself in the fall colors of Seattle – one of the best places in USA to witness Fall. And so did I. As expected the weather of Seattle was predictably unpredictable with light drizzle reaching the earth, just at any time of the day. And sunlight at the very next moment behind the clouds. Some say, its kind of depressing weather there due to the rain and months of low sunlight.

Elliot Bay Seattle

I was at the top of the Space Needle, enjoying the majestic view of the city and its suburbs, cloaked in fall colors. And then I saw this contrast where sunlight falling on the waters of Elliot Bay made a portion of the bay so bright, whereas rest of the bay was under the spell of the dark clouds. This contrast was made even more remarkable by the ferries dotting the Bay area. It seemed to me that apart from Seattle Mariners, the city was also the home ground for sun, with its ‘unusual’ game of hide-and-seek.

This is part of DailyPost – Weekly Photo Challenge.

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Read posts on two cities of USA with contrasting weather conditions prevailing there.

First the photo story on the city ofMinneapolis, covered in white linen of snow – another USA city with extreme weather conditions.

And second on how the strong sun rays can give a different hue to the city of New York and its monuments.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Room full of Mummies

Guanajuato Mummies Museum

Errrr….

Looks scared, right? You feel jittery?

Hmmm….I can understand. It is not everyday that we find ourselves in such a ‘room’.

This was one of the rooms of Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato (Guanajuato Mummies Museum) in Guanajuato, Mexico. My wife and I had visited it in March this year. We were stunned to know that these are the real mummies of Guanajuato citizens, formed by the natural process, unlike Egyptian mummies. There are over a hundred mummies kept in over half a dozen rooms of the museum. When in Mexico, you must definitely visit Guanajuato to experience this yourself.

Read more about this museum here.

This post is part of Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Story in Australia

Split Second Story in Victoria AustraliaBoth of us had a split-second to capture our respective ‘stories’.

I was wandering along the Great Ocean Road of Victoria in Australia when i saw this girl with a resplendent guest. Without wasting any moment, i had to click this amusing story as her eyes readied themselves to click her own story and before the parrot abandoned its new abode and flew away. Later on, while interacting with her, i found out that she had come from Malaysia.

Daily Post This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Story

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Watch out photos of New York Skyline draped in Twilight colors

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A Train Journey to Araku Valley in Monsoon

Kirandaul passenger trainSit back and delight yourself to a train journey to Araku Valley, meandering through the thick jungles of Anantagiri Mountains, spanning 84 bridges and 58 tunnels.

I got up early and boarded Vishakhapatnam – Kirandaul passenger train, leaving Vizag station at 6:50am. Sitting at the window seat, I was enjoying my journey on the East Coast Railway line, savoring a picturesque and breathtaking view of the nature. As my train approached the Shivalingapuram station, after almost 2 hours, I was mesmerized with the blue mountain in the distant and the valley below with its greenery.

Eastern GhatsAn hour further into the journey, the train entered into Borra Guhalu station(Borra means Hole in Oriya, Guhalu means cave ). Get down here to be transported to millions of years back in the time. Or you may also plan for a road trip to Borra Caves once you are in Araku Valley. Borra Caves is one of its kind caves in India with fascinating stalactites and stalagmites. These are naturally formed and believed to be 150 million years old.

Borra CavesFounded in 1807 by the British geologist William King, the main entrance of the caves is at an altitude of 705 meters mean sea level and the inside of the caves goes down to the 625 meters mean sea level. At the entrance of the caves, you would observe that there is a train track laid above the caves. Gosthani river, flowing below the mountains in the valley, originates somewhere near this area. These caves have a trek distance of 350 meters once you are inside. One of the main attractions of the caves is the brain-shaped formation. There are several such interesting formations. Another attraction is a natural Shiva Linga (Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction), which can be reached by a small man-made bridge inside the caves. These caves are thronged by thousands of tourists throughout the year.

Stalactites and stalagmites IMG_0594After a 3 hour 50 minute journey, covering a distance of 129 km and halting at 13 stations, my train chugs into Araku station. It is one of the famous hill stations of Andhra Pradesh (AP), India. Known for its pristine mountains, stunning waterfalls and coffee plantations and its aroma, it attracts visitors from all over the world. The scenic beauty of Araku Valley has often been set as the background in several Telugu movies. Perched at an elevation of 925m Coffee Plantationsabove sea level, valley is rich in its flora and fauna. During rainfall, the numerous waterfalls come alive with tourists. Farmers dot its green paddy fields then. Children enjoy the game of football, flanked by mountain ranges of Eastern Ghats.

IMG_0452

A Tribal Woman

A Tribal Woman

Do visit the tribal museum here to know more about the locals. Take a walk along the Padmapuram botanical garden. Valley has many beautiful perennial streams gushing through the natural rocks and the sylvan surroundings of the valley. Here one may hear the whispering serenade of nature and the rustling of leaves on the green expanse. At one such spot, one may spend many hours, sitting and appreciating the beauty of nature in Araku. There is one such serene stream near Chaaparai stream, 15 km from Araku, which you must not miss. Katiki and Thatiguda are other spectacular waterfalls, worth a visit. There are several trekking trails, taking you past forests and waterfalls, to the summit. You would cross by Sangda waterfall on one such adventurous trail.

IMG_0567Araku in MonsoonWhen in Araku, you cannot simply miss tasting the local delicacy of Araku, known as the Bamboo Chicken or Bongulo Chicken in local language. It is a traditional tribal cuisine of Araku Valley. Chopped chicken pieces mixed with spices are stuffed inside the bamboo trunk and the open end of trunk is closed with big leaves. It is cooked on the flame till the bamboo turns black and the aroma intoxicates you.

Bamboo Chicken

Preparation for Bamboo Chicken

If train journeys are your love, do make it to this trip. Araku Valley has something for everyone. And for a traveler like me, this journey was etched in my memory forever, and canvassed in my heart as an yearning for more.

IMG_0667Araku Valley***

When to Go: Best time is after rainfall, between the months of October and March when nature is in its full bloom. However in monsoon, valley presents another adventure.

How to Reach: By morning train from Vishakhapatnam (4 hours) or by road (3 hours). Another option is AP tourism package

Where to Stay: AP Tourism Accommodations

Tree Huts

Tree Huts & Cottages

1. Jungle Hills, Tyada – Alight at Tyada station after 2 hours of train journey from Vizag. At a small distance by road to a hillock, one will find Jungle Bells, resort of AP tourism. It has wooden cottages, igloo type cottages and Loghuts. These are mid-range accommodations, providing good stay, en route to Araku and Borra Caves.

2. Mayuri Resort, Araku – Run by AP tourism, it has high-range to mid-range rooms. They provide a comfortable stay in the valley. Rooms provide a captivating view of the valley.

3. Valley Resort, Araku – This property is also run by AP Tourism and is located in lush greenery all around. It has mid-range priced rooms.

4. Tree huts and hanging cottages in Padmapuram botanical garden – There are all together five rooms here and makes for an adventurous stay. I would recommend it only for backpackers and definitely, not for family with kids.

 What to See: Borra Caves, Waterfalls, Tribal Museum, Coffee plantations

What to Do: Trekking trails

What to Eat: Local produce, Coffee and definitely Bamboo Chicken

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Have you visited any such place in India or in any other country in train? Tell us about your one such monsoon trip. Share your experiences.

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Also Read: Travel in a Cruise to catch best glimpse of New York

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Twist and Check-Mate in Carmel

Carmel 17-Mile Pacific Drive

Aha, what is a game of chess without its twists and turns!

Understandably, I was check-mate seeing this huge chess board with its majestic and proud seafarers standing tall against the blacks and whites. Captain of a big ship was in the shoes of king, flanked by a sexy mermaid as his queen. Second Officers were in the role of bishops. Rooks were substituted by lighthouses, and knights with helmsman. Other crew members took over from the pawns.

This souvenir drew my attention while I was walking on the downtown streets of Carmel, one of the most scenic neighborhoods along the 17-Mile Pacific Drive in California. There were beautiful art galleries, cool cafes and restaurants and with plenty of uptrend shopping options. One enters into this picturesque downtown after meandering through the amazing views on the Pacific, crossing Highway 1. Several joggers and dog-walkers greet you on both sides of the streets. And there was this game of chess. The Chess board epitomized the vastness of the Pacific and the valor of seafarers.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

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Read how you can capture New York in its unexpected hues and colors

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Eat, Pray and Love in Bali

This is a post by guest blogger, Lakshmi Kanchi  (@LakshKanchi)

Bali Rice Terrace

Like a shy maiden in a lush meadow, she greeted me. Bedazzled I followed her soft footprints on the golden sand. When I truly saw her, her rustic beauty, her charming demeanor and endearing mannerisms, I was intrigued and pulled into a world I couldn’t have imagined. I had waited all of five years to be there and even as the plane landed I knew that the wait had been worth it. This was a little piece of heaven and it was mine, even if it were just for a few days! And she was BALI…

BaliWe spent an idyllic seven days in Bali in November in the year 2012. I can literally transport myself through my recollection of the place and experience all of it, all over again. It couldn’t be more ingrained in my memory, the scent – that intoxicating mix of the sea and the sand, the food – the authentic Balinese cuisine rich in flavor and the culture – a touch more divine than anywhere else on Earth. We had just enough time to take in all that was on offer. Starting with a great stay at Seminyak close enough to all the buzz and ending on a high note, with an exclusive candlelight dinner somewhere along the beach at Sanur.

Bali CultureCulture is so very central to the Balinese way of life and it is evidenced in the thousands of small temples that dot the island. We visited every one of them walking in and out of the stone structures, intricate and grand all at the same time, bespeaking of ageless faith in goodness. While each was special, I especially loved the one called Uluwatu. Imagine a large rugged limestone cliff with a tiny temple perched on top of it – that is Uluwatu. The higher planes on all sides reward you with breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and the dramatic grandeur of the cliffs against the waters. The splendid Kecak fire dance with the trance like movements and with the dancers dressed in the colorful Balinese costumes

Kecak Dancers at Uluwatu Temple

Kecak Dancers at Uluwatu Temple

against the backdrop of a sunset over the Indian Ocean was enrapturing. Then there was another one, Gunung Kawi, for which we scouted through the mountains and the maze of shrubbery, walked through knee deep waters and across terraced gardens of tea/coffee. This old Chinese temple, set like a pearl in the heart of the oyster, made me feel so special for having seen it. The Gunung Kawi Sebatu water temple was spectacular too and especially since we happened to walk into it not knowing. With the water dripping from faucets into pools and from the pools into still bigger pools, the sound of flowing water was constant and relaxing. The koi in the holy ponds added a splash of color to the hues of green everywhere.

Saraswati Temple and the Balinese Dancers

Balinese Dancers at the Saraswati Temple

We took in the arts and the dances of Bali. There were shows every day at one magnificent location or another. We would sit amazed with a crowd of tourists trying to figure out the movements, the expressions and the music. It always brought tears to my eyes, this stark raving beauty of the poetic collusion of the stars and the dance and the fact that I was destined to witness it.

Pura Tanah Lot Temple

Pura Tanah Lot Temple

Staying anywhere in Bali feels exotic and luxurious, however we trusted ‘TripAdvisor’ for advice on hotels and prices, and we didn’t live to regret it. Two wheelers and scooters are available on rent at most hotels for cheap. I can still feel the wind on my face when I imagine the days we spent zipping through the chaotic streets Bali on our little scooter. If I had to peg down the two main ingredients of romance in Bali, I would say the rain and the scooter. Just like the temperament of a child, the rains would mar the bright sunny days. We would then step into some random little inn along the road, sip on a hot cup of tea, order a plate of the in-house savories and catch up on our laughs! It was always that wonderful!

Mount Batur

Mount Batur

Never having seen a volcanic mountain, Bali gave me my first, with Mount Batur. Nothing can beat the wonderment I felt when the veil of the clouds parted to give us a glimpse of the mighty trough at the top of the mount. You can still see the dark lines where lava once flowed into the land and it reminded me of the power that this simple minion of nature yielded. On our way we had stopped and visited a coffee plantation. We had experienced Kopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee, in the company of the Luwak creature responsible for its creation. Yes! And it had all been in the spirit of our vacation!

Luwak Coffee

Luwak Coffee

Water sports didn’t figure big on our itinerary. We had had our fill of water sports at Malaysia. But for the first timers, it would be highly recommended. The beaches are clean and the waters are inviting. There is also no dearth of people who would appreciate your business.

I believe that every journey you take makes you better, wiser and more mature. Bali was my Eat, Pray, Love trip and it has added immensely to me. The people of Bali with their simple ways and simple lives have a way of making a permanent place in your heart. And you could be anywhere in the world, anywhere at all, yet you could be dreaming of the golden sands and warm waters of this awesome island.

BalineseIf I could go back in time, I would choose to sit there on a beach with a fat coconut in my lap, holding hands with my husband staring into the sunset….Any day! sigh!

“Sometimes we plan a trip to one place. But something takes us to another. – Rumi”

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About Guest BloggerGuest Blogger Lakshmi

I just want to travel for the sake of traveling. I have not been everywhere yet, but its on the cards (most definitely! *nods vigorously*). I am decidedly not a blogger, but I thought writing about my experiences is another way of living them again…so here goes! :)

Laksh
Pune, India

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GUEST BLOGGING

This post was written by a guest blogger. You can see their details above.

Do you have a similar experience? Let us know about your choice of place. If you would like to write a guest blog for my page, you may drop me a mail or tweet at @suyashchopra1. I would be glad to share your experience with my readers. Happy Traveling!!!

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Read how climbing 165 steps gave us a memorable travel experience in Mexico.

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Work of Art at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore

The Daily Post’s Photo Challenge: Work of Art : “Art” isn’t just paintings and sculptures, it can be anything in which we find beauty and meaning — even food. Show us a thing, place, or person that’s a work of art to you.

Esplande Theatres on the BayAs soon as i entered Esplanade in Singapore, i saw this scene where hundreds of cute ‘dogs and puppies’ and ‘kittens’ in red and white color were spread all over on the floor. It was such an artistic sight to the eyes. They looked so lifelike that i got a feel that few of them may any time lap up to to me, seeing me clicking them. So many tourists had gathered around the enclosure. These cutie-pies were of especial interest to the children whose faces were lit up with glee.

IMG_5977

Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay, is one of the biggest and busiest art centers, not only inIMG_5975 Singapore but in the world. One can enjoy several art works here. All around the year, there are shows running in the theatre and concert hall here. Esplanade is located at one of the most touristy location of Singapore, Marina Bay on the banks of the river. The waterfront comes alive in the evening when the beautiful laser show from Marina Bay Sands Hotel steals every heart, waiting to witness a spectacular spectacle. Do check out the time of the laser show before you head towards the Bay. Once you are here, just sit back with a drink and enjoy the music and dance and several shows on the waterfront. There are several performing dance troupes enthralling the audience here. Merlion, the world famous lion statue fountain, is another big draw here at the promenade.

Marina Bay Sands***

Also read about another famous theatre – Teatro Juarez of Guanajuato (Mexico)

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