Wednesday, April 20, 2016


When the dog bites, when the bee stings,
when I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don't feel so bad.

The lyrics of a song in the movie, 'The Sound of Music'.

I am not an extrovert! Not completely introvert either! Moody, you can say! It keeps fluctuating! And I tell myself when I am frustrated that the mood will change soon and it CHANGES with a small action or a pleasant word from people around me. Huh, I forgot always changes my moods! However tensed up I am, I start humming when I hear my favourite songs in the radio (I am a radio freak!)

I heard this song in the radio a couple of days back and it is still running in my mind.

I have watched 'The Sound of Music' many many times and I notice new things to admire every time I watch.  All the songs in the movie are my favourites!

I attend yoga classes 4 times a week and we do the exercises on our building's rooftop.  2 classes in the mornings and 2 classes in the evenings.  We can watch sunrise in the mornings and sunset in the evenings, while doing the exercises!  We, ladies, 10 of us, always feel happy to watch the sun.  Every time we see it, all of us say in chorus, 'yevlo azhagaa irukku! Means 'How beautiful it is'.  And we say the same thing the next time!  I have noticed that I am always happy after the class, for a long time.  The exercises or the pranayama make me feel happier always.  My friends also say so!

I met my old maid who had been with me for 18 years (now retired!) after a long time.  She took me home and showed me her house.  It is a small house built on one cent of land.  One room plus kitchen...3 floors!  One floor for her and her younger son.  One for her older son and another for her married daughter.  When she joined work at home, she looked pathetic.  Her youngest son was sitting on her hip...both of them looked dirty.  She stood in front of our gate and asked for a job.  I felt bad for her and asked her to come home the next day, having a head bath and with a clean sari.  Gave her an old sari of mine too! I told her not to come for work without taking bath! And she did come a little bit neat the next day.  This was in 1990.  We had shifted from Hosur and were looking for a maid.  Her kids were small and studying in a government school in the next street.  She got work in 3 other nearby houses.  She used to collect food from all of us and keep on the window near the staircase.  In the afternoon, her children would come for lunch.  She used to mix all the food together, make balls of them and give them to the children, one by one! One more mouth used to wait, our dog Andy.  We were so careful not to give him salted food at home and pampered him so much but he was happily gobbling up the saambaar and rasam rice, our maid fed him.  I was shocked to see her feeding him in her hand and then giving the next ball of food to her children with the same hand! She used to say, 'nothing will happen' 'Onnum aagaadhu'! All of them used to giggle, tease each other, eat and run back to school.  The children grew up...the sons finished 10th and started working.  One daughter married an electrician.  He was very smart and changed the entire family.  Our maid also got some money from her mother's side, a couple of lakhs.  In between I had shifted to the outskirts of the city.  She came there too and worked for another 10 years.  Then as per her son's wishes she quit the job.  I gave her a good amount of money when she left.  I used to take care of the children's uniform and books during their school years.  Now, when I saw her after nearly 6 years, I was so happy seeing her happily living in a proper house! All the children came to see me and gave me cold drink. The eldest daughter had brought up the family well. My maid also worked hard (in 4 houses) to bring them up.  The elder son used to distribute newspapers in his school days, then took up the agency.  In daytime, he was selling mobile phones.  Now, he has got a small printing press.  Felt so happy, seeing all of them living happily.

I feel happy when I see my plants bloom...while watching birds...when I see the stray, but happy dogs in front of our complex gate...cats on the roads on our way to our morning walks...sunrise at the Elliots beach...the list is long.

Sometimes, a small word from our friends or relatives change our moods to depression or happiness. I always tell myself that the mood will change from depression to happiness does for will do for you too!

Be happy always!

(Lyrics are here...very interesting!)


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Our Visit to Pulicat Lake!

We had visited Pulicat lake last December when we went to watch the Rocket launch at Sri Harikota.  It is not as beautiful as Vedanthaangal though, still, OK. And we went there before the actual birding season started.  In Feb. March, we could have seen the babies...

Now, have a look at the limited no. of birds we saw on that day:

Painted storks

Reflection of the clouds!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Janjira/Jaldurg, A Unique Fort In Maharashtra In The Middle Of The Arabian Sea!

Fort Janjira/Jaldurg In The Middle Of The Arabian Sea. (Picture courtesy:

We had been to Maharashtra, a few months back and visited many forts over there.  The best and unique fort was the Janjira Fort which is also called Jaldurg. 'Janjira' is an Arabic word for island, it seems. It is situated in the port town of Murud, a small sleepy town, facing the Arabian sea.  The boat ride to the fort was OK but getting down at the small entrance to the fort was difficult.  They charge Rs.600 for the boat ride without any receipt.   My son insisted for the receipt and then they gave.  Parking fee was Rs.40 at a dirty area. Again no receipt.  We need lot of patience to cross the narrow village roads to the jetty.  But the boatmen were good. We gave them Rs.200 extra since the next day was Ramzan! This is  mainly a Muslim area. We saw goats tied to the gates in each and every house. The people were busy feeding them some greens.  The guide charged Rs.400. He was OK.  

Wiki says: Janjira is considered one of the strongest marine forts in India. The fort is approached by sail boats from Rajapuri jetty.  (Murud is 165 Kms. south of Mumbai).

The main gate of the fort faces Rajapuri on the shore and can be seen only when one is about 40 feet (12 m) away from it. It has a small postern gate towards the open sea for escape.

The fort has 26 rounded bastions, still intact. There are many cannons of native and European make rusting on the bastions. Now in ruins, the fort in its heyday was a full-fledged living fort with all the necessary facilities, e.g., palaces, quarters for officers, mosque, temple, two small 60-foot-deep (18 m) natural fresh water lakes.

A special attraction of this fort is, 3 gigantic cannons named Kalalbangdi, Chavri and Landa Kasam. These cannons were said to be feared for their shooting range.

 This link says:  

Janjira came into prominence in the late 15th or early 16th century when the Siddis became its virtual masters. After it had been ruled over by such historical greats as the Mauryas, Silharas, Chalukyas, and Yadavas, it fell into the hands of the Abyssinians or Siddis in 1490 A.D, by way of trickery against a Koli king. Malik Ambar, a powerful Abyssinian, subsequently constructed a strong stone fort there in 1567 A.D. Numerous wars were waged against the Siddis by the Marathas, Mughals, and Portuguese to wrest Janjira from them, but in vain. The Siddis proved fiercer soldiers and greater seafarers than them all. The Janjira state came to an end after 1947 with the merging of princely Indian states with the union.

Shivaji also waged a war against the Siddis but couldn't penetrate the fort.  His son Sambhaji also tried.  Built Padmadurg fort nearby and tried to come inside this fort via a tunnel under the sea, but in vain.  Now also they say that there is a tunnel from the fort to the Rajapuri town.

They had an active market area inside the fort. They had a full-fledged town.  The descendants have fled to Indore and Mumbai later, it seems. Some dark skinned people were seen in the town of Rajapuri here... the result of mixed marriages!

Our guide said that the Fort took 22 years to build and is spread over 22 acres of land. At the entrance is an inscription in Persian language and a stone carving depicting a tiger engulfed by six elephants which, is the emblem of the might of the Siddis, it seems.

He said that the queen had a 2 storied glass palace and bath with water channelled from streams.  We saw the dry toilets for the queen.

About Siddis: 

The Siddis are the descendants of slaves, sailors, and maritime workers, forced and voluntary migrants from the East African countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and later Zanzibar.  The forced migration of Africans for purposes of slavery is incontestably the major reason for the presence of Africans in India.

The sleepy town of Murud from where we can reach the Fort.

The narrow entrance to the fort. Slippery, broken steps.  We have to be very careful while getting down from the boat and climb the steps (nothing is there there to hold the boat or us, boatmen have to help us and hold the boat too!). This is the only entrance for people to enter the fort which is not easy to locate unless you know the place. We can reach here only by boats.

This picture was taken by my son from the topmost point at the Janjira fort. Click on the picture to have a good view.  You can see the sweet water pond on the left.

Sweet water pond inside the fort.  The whole Janjira town people were using this water for drinking and cooking purposes.  One more lake was on the other end of the Fort. Water was available throughout the year, it seems.

The inside of the fort..The weeds are removed during the peak tourist season, it seems.  The ruined building had seven stories which was Siddi leaders' offices!

A special attraction of this fort is, the 3 gigantic cannons named Kalalbangdi, Chavri and Landa Kasam. These cannons were said to be feared for their shooting range. They are in the picture shown above.

The 40' high walls of the fort. The fort was made of stones bonded together by a mixture of lead, sand and gul. Wiki says so.  What is gul? Or is it gud, jaggery? Anybody knows? It cannot be rose flower!

This picture was taken from the top of the fort.  Stones can be seen near the wall.  No other entrance anywhere else, except a small hole on the other side of the fort which was crude.
The small escape route on the opposite side of the main gate. Imagine Siddis going out via this tiny opening! Posted this picture on 5th April, '16

Shivaji's son, Sambhaji built another sea fort in 1676, known as Padmadurg or Kasa fort, to challenge Janjira and failed. This picture of the fort was taken from the Janjira fort.
Another picture of the oval shaped Janjira Fort
The Maharashtrian tourism Department has got a treasure in their hands.  If this unique fort was somewhere in Europe, they would have maintained it very well which would have attracted more tourism to the area.  I might forget our visits to the other forts but not this one!

We reached the fort by sail boat and while returning, a motor boat came and pulled our boat against the wind direction to the shore!

If anyone know more details of the place, please write in the comment section, please. Thank you!

P.S.: I came across this You tube link now, and you can see the fort without the weeds!


Edited on 29th May, '16: Came across this article on 'African rulers of India'. Very interesting!

Post updated on 14/6/20: African rulers of India

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