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Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The heart of India

The lake and the jet d'eau in the distance

C lighting the flame to the Durga

Say the word Bhopal and one thing comes to mind.
The disaster of the Union Carbide factory in December of 1984 where due to an explosion of toxic chemicals thousands of people lost their lives. So when C offered to go to Bhopal for an extended weekend I was dubious at worst and undemanding at best.

I am re writing Bhopal’s place in current affairs as the Wannabe Geneva of India.
Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh is built on a lake and is surrounded by several others. What floored me though was that Bhopal can lay claim not to one Jet d’eau but to six dotted all along the length of the lake.

On our first morning there we went Bird watching in the Van Vihar park. It was teeming with birds and wildlife and C had a field day spotting the woolly storks and the kingfishers. Further along and while they are caged (and as A says it doesn’t count ) we stood in awe in front of the leopards and the tigers and in particular the spectacular white tiger they had there, one of the few remaining in India. The park goes alongside the lake and you can bike all along its length. Heavenly!
About Navratri
Navratri, the festival of nights, lasts for 9 days with three days each devoted to worship of Ma Durga, the Goddess of Valor, Ma Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Ma Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. During the nine days of Navratari, feasting and fasting take precedence over all normal daily activities amongst the Hindus. Evenings give rise to the religious dances in order to worhip Goddess Durga Maa. The town is alight with fairy lights and every where there are images of the Goddess or variations of her fighting off evil. Being guest of honour that evening at a lighting ceremony for Durga we all headed off to this open ground where food stalls dotted the periphery, a vast stage dominated the front and on either side were two large rings with circles inside them with soft sand underfoot. The various dignitaries came up and sat in plush reclining seats by the stage. A holy man started the proceedings and C lit the flame which was then used to chant and bless the goddess Durga. We took it in turns to bless her, all of us in barefeet and then when the dignitaries had been blessed with the traditional red dot on their forehead the festivities were allowed to commence. In came young men and young women dressed in their finest outfits, bejeweled and jangling and started dancing in the circles to the beat from the drums. Every so often the rhythm would change; the dancers adopt the new steps and clapping rhythm and continue round the circle with such joy and careless abandon. As the evening wore on the beat became faster and more exacting. C and I bowed out gracefully after a couple of circles but the dancers went on into the early hours of the morning.

We stayed at the Jehan Numa Palace, beautifully colonial in style refurbished and boasting a good sized pool and a couple of excellent restaurants. There is a lot to see in Bhopal and we spent some time in the Museum of Man, a wonderful collection of Indian tribal housing and artefacts. The "adivasis" as they are called, from all over the country came here to build and recreate their homes and works of art. You can stroll through the huge open air area and enjoy the traditional habitats from all over India. Monkeys will happily accompany you.

At dusk we walked around the Jama Masjid at dusk and took in its expanse. It is the third biggest mosque in the world and it is home to many muslim worshippers here.

1 comment:

  1. I am reading it in Athens from my flat where I dont have internet but I seem to get it from the neibourhoud. I started writing in my blog
    marangou.blogspot.com have a look at it.


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