Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Was Stunned, Looking At These Great Works!


We went to this Asian Art museum in San Francisco (US) last month.  My son and grand niece were insisting  us to see this museum.  And thank god, we did!    This museum has got artifacts from the B.C. era., from Arabian countries, China, Tibet, Japan, Turkey and India.  Let me first post  a couple of the best Buddhist sculptures, I admired there and still remains in my mind.

I clicked this sculpture in different angles.  This is called the sculpture of Guhyasamaja embracing Sparshavajra! 

This is the best bronze sculpture, I have ever seen in my life!

This sculpture was the best.  Click on the picture and notice the intricate carving...hands, fingers, ornaments...
Another angle!
This is another sculpture but I think the subject of the sculpture is the same as of the above! I love the fingers, especially, here! Are they mudras? Can anyone tell me a bit more about this sculpture please?  I am not familiar with this sect of Buddhism. 

Notice the fingers, ornaments, the folds in the clothes....incredible! Three faces! This is a different one. 

I don't know much about this Buddhist deity.  So, I took the picture of the detailed description of the deity. It was inside a glass case! We were asked not to use flash.  And a staff was watching people all the time.  I was a bit nervous.  Still, the pictures of the deity are clear I think.  
I should have centred it properly:( The II page is here! Click on the pictures for a stunning view!)

This link gives a clear photo and details of the description clearly!

I loved the sculpture of our Hindu God, Vishnu also. A sculpture of Parvathi also was there.  But it was not as beautiful as this:

Black stone sculpture of Lord Vishnu.  Notice the intricate design here too! Click on the picture pl. The facial features are very sharp. I think we have seen this type of sculpture at Beluru, Karnataka.  This one is also from Karnataka, India.

Another angle! It looks so beautiful!

Click on the picture to read clearly pl.

This link has got more details of the museum. Actually 3-4 hours' time is not enough to view this museum.  We saw Ganesha sculptures of different types.  But Buddha's were prominent!

Please visit this museum to see treasures of our country and our neighbouring countries when you visit San Francisco, U.S. The atmosphere is very serene inside this museum.  This will stay in my memory, always.


Friday, December 19, 2014

We Gambled!

As I told you in my earlier posts, we went on a 4 day tour to see Yosemite park, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.  The bus was very comfortable.  The driver was a huge man and he was cracking jokes with passengers often! My husband was game and he too was joining him.

I forgot to tell you in the beginning.  We caught this tour bus at Oakland. When we entered the bus we heard a Hindi movie song, that too a melodious song! Not, 'jab we met' type song.  A couple of Chinese were already sitting and then the driver who had gone out came back and asked us if we won't mind hearing Hindi songs! He, a white man, was asking us if we would mind hearing Hindi film songs! Hindi songs were his favourite, it seems! We were so happy to hear a couple more songs from Hindi films.  The bus was going to some other points to pick up passengers and after sometime, the music stopped! Our music is going everywhere!

We had started early and had Jalapeno buns and orange juice for breakfast.  I had lot of croissants in this trip! Had Latte coffee often, but one by two.  The cup always was large.  Both of us had half cup each.  But it was very tasty.  We were cruising through the desert area.  I never expected the desert to look so beautiful.  Most of the area were full of cacti plants/trees.  We saw some trees and they were called Joshua trees, the guide said.  We came across Murray's family farms in the middle of the desert area.   Have a look:

The Murray's Family farms at Bakers Field, on our way to Las Vegas.  It was a Sunday and we saw many locals with family, shopping here.  Many jeeps and tractors were there in the parking lot! They were selling fruits, vegetables, provisions and food items too! It was clean everywhere!

I noticed some small back birds in front of the Murray Family Farms.  This was near the entrance.  Doesn't this picture look beautiful?!
It was Halloween time when we went on this tour.  Saw this at the Murray's family farm.  We bought some fresh grapes and apples here which was very very tasty!

On our way to Las Vegas.  The desert area but saw a lot of vegetation.  I noticed long trucks had separate roads on the far end of the highway.  I liked the sky/clouds in the picture.  These desert pictures were taken from the running bus, so won't be very clear, sorry!

Joshua trees and other vegetation on the desert
Saw these wind mills on our way to Las Vegas.  This is one of the important power supplier for this area, the guide said.   The towers with high voltage power cables were built very low, my husband said.  He is an electrical man.  The lamp posts on the road were made of wood unlike our concrete posts!

Since we were travelling on the highway, we didn't see much houses or residential areas in this desert area.  Wherever we saw, the houses were single storied and had tiled roofs.  California area is prone to earthquakes and so mostly they build single storied houses esp. in the Bay area etc.   We saw huge multi storied buildings only in San Francisco.  I think Berkeley also didn't have high buildings.

Then we reached Las Vegas!

We stayed at Excalibur hotel which had 3,700 rooms! 
The guide took us to the hotel and we were asked to register with our passports! They gave a card for gambling (whether we asked for it or not, everybody was given a card!).  They gave a 'gift' also. It was a porcelain tower replica of their hotel!

I had seen these gambling places in movies.  I saw many Roulette tables and other machines here with lots of bright lights, coloured flashing bulbs!

These tables were full in the evening and night.  Early mornings the area was deserted.

Husband and I played in a machine for 1 dollar each! Husband got back 6 dollars and I, 10 cents! I was interested in watching roulette tables... Watching people is interesting for me, always!

The tables were taken care of mainly by women, esp. South Asians! Very smart women.  Many women were also playing.  And smoking too! The next day we went to a dance drama in a taxi.  The driver was from Florida.  He said that people cannot find gambling casinos outside this area. It is banned actually.  He himself gambled like others here, he said.  Everybody is attracted to gambling in this place, he said.  People who gamble, lose everything and for going back home, they pledge their watches and other things at the surrounding small shops and the tourists can buy them cheap from them! I don't know how true this story is, though!

Let me write more about this, no more gambling stories but about other attractions we saw at this gambling capital!

Before finishing this post, I have to tell you about an incident.  We noticed some heavy duty security people everywhere at the hotel which had the casino too.  The next day, we came back after attending a dance drama at 11 pm. One huge man stopped us before we entered the lift and asked us to show our key in a sign language! I look so tiny and both of us are senior citizens and he must have thought that we were bursting into the hotel without keys! I started laughing while showing the keys! Husband was glaring at me!


Friday, December 12, 2014

I Expected More!

 As you know by now, we had been to the US last month.  My first post was about the Muir Redwood Park in California. We enjoyed the place, a lot.  We had planned to visit Yosemite Park (I was told that this park was famous),  Las Vegas and Grand Canyon.  I didn't know much about Yosemite park but since this was a park, I expected to see animals, birds and many many trees! I hadn't heard of this famous monolith rock, El Capitan! I came to know about it just before getting down from the bus at the Park! Then the guide said that this place was famous for water bodies, water falls, rare species of plants etc.  It is in the wiki link also.  But California is facing severe drought now.  As a result water fall was not there.  But the famous El Capitan rock compensated our interest to a small extent!

El Capitan, the Monolith granite rock at the Yosemite Park.
'El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith  extends about 3,000 feet (900 m) from base to summit along its tallest face, and is one of the world's favourite challenges for rock climbers and base jumpers.'

 'El Capitan is composed almost entirely of El Capitan Granite, a pale, coarse-grained granite emplaced approximately 100 million years ago. In addition to El Capitan, this granite forms most of the rock features of the western portions of Yosemite Valley.'  It is composed of a most durable granite allowing it to withstand pressures of glaciers and erosion...another link says.  More details can be read here. 

John Muir, a naturalist, who developed Muir Wood park, was responsible for protecting and expanding this park too, stopping the land developers using the area.  Details are in the Wiki link.

Pictures taken of the huge rock from different angles are here:

El Capitan! 'El Capitan, means, 'The Chief, according to the ancient natives who lived here, few centuries back. 

The rocks are covered by clouds!

So much vegetation on the rocks and it had no rains for some years in this area.  It was drizzling a bit, when we reached this place and then stopped!

We noticed water only here.  No water falls were there because of drought, the guide said. 

You can notice the dryness here and mosses on the tree trunks.

After seeing these rocky areas, we had some coffee and sandwiches in the canteen here.  As expected, very very expensive.  I noticed that all the tourist places had very clean rest rooms and when the bust stopped for breakfast or lunch, even though 2-3 bus load of tourists were there, the rest rooms were clean. This is because the people are aware of cleanliness here, even our own people who come here, are different in nature! Hope one day our country also will have clean places like these!

Nothing else was shown here, by the guide.  So, I told my husband that this was waste of time.  But when I see these pictures at home, I changed my mind...even plain rocks look beautiful sometimes! And I noticed a few redwood trees here, which is my favourite tree now!

I forgot to add! We saw this cute squirrel near the canteen.  This looks different than the ones we have here or the ones we saw at the Berkeley University campus. I didn't see any birds though! Drought and the setting in of winter might have been the reason. The guide said that this was the last trip of the season.  Next trip to this place would be in March! Instead of Yosemite park, they would include Dead Sea in the 4 day tour.


Monday, December 8, 2014

I Never Expected This!

Actually, this is the second part of my previous post which is here!

I removed the nest on Saturday, the 6th December, '14.  Have a look:

Clicked a picture before removing from the wood.

I kept a cloth on the floor so that it doesn't break.  But it broke near the hole and fell down in two pieces...Amazing nest!

Only one broke away from the main nest when it fell down.  You can notice a small worm inside and IT WAS MOVING!
We can see around 11 tubes here.  They look like glass tubes. I was noticing the wasp (which you can see in my previous post) hovering near the nest for many days. After I took the picture last time, I noticed it just once or twice.  Then it stopped coming.  On Thursday, I saw a small wasp roaming inside the kitchen.  It was in smaller size than the first one.  So I thought that they have come out! Still I left another 2 days and then on Saturday, removed the nest with a ladle (dosai thiruppi!).  The angle where the nest was, made it difficult to sit and ply it out without much damage.  The nest fell on the cloth and I was really amazed at the precision with which the insect had built her nest.  Even space between them.  The tubes sat in it snugly! It didn't come out of the nest when it fell down.  It must be sticking with the mud wall! And I noticed worms inside the tubes and this worm was moving! Only this tube had fallen away from the main nest.  Still the worm was intact inside the tube! I was a bit upset for disturbing the mother's hard work.  I think at least a couple of wasps might survive.  I just folded the towel with the nest and kept it inside a drawer in the kitchen which I don't pull out often.  Saw it now, after two days, opening the towel slowly.  No movements.  Some gap is there for them to come out if they want to.  I didn't see the mother for many days now.  These worms should come out and survive by themselves, I think!  She had done a great job!

The wood where the nest was, in tact.  Just some mud stain is there.  These  insects seem to be harmless.  'Kulavi kottum', they say in Tamil.   'Wasp's sting' is very painful, it seems.  But our wasp is a harmless doll!

I am sure some of you might be interested in this article.  I feel that if they don't harm us in any way, we should leave them alone.  Let them survive!

P.S.: I don't have small kids at home! So, I let them enjoy our house!

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