Friday, 15 July 2016

The sound of the Kites !

What is the sound of the Kite called? The sound of the Eagle – as per kindergarten books – is called “Scream” in the English language. Probably the sound that Kites make would also possibly be called “scream” too. But to me it sounds different. It could not and should not be called a “scream”. One might wonder - why is it that I am pondering about Eagles and Kites in the early morning and why exactly ferocious birds of prey is my topic of discussion – while there are several more reputed species of song birds available? Well, to start with the Kite had always fascinated me. Whenever I hear the sound – it takes me to a magical world. When I had my books open in the morning and I had been looking out of the window – the flight of Kites in the blue sky. Yes, I am talking about my childhood days of course when I did not want to study any lessons and always wonder and daydream. I like the way the Kites fly – round and round and round– with their wings expanded.

Fast forward to present. My office is in cyber city, Gurgaon – A jungle of Glass Buildings. But still, some Kite family have set up their residences here in our concrete buildings – somewhere. I can hear them make the “Kite Sound” mostly in the morning and throughout the day. I cannot see them but I know they are here. To me, this sound is magical. It makes me happy and even though it might sound strange, (as I am not talking about a Nightingale or a Cuckoo) I find the Kite sound soothing and beautiful.

Probably the renowned Bengali Poet Jibanananda Das also found the Kite sound interesting enough to write:

Ah kite, golden-winged kite, don’t cry any more this noon
of moist clouds, as you hover around the Dhanshniri river
Your whimper reminds of her eyes dim as pale cane-fruit!
A pretty princess she has drifted afar,
leaving the Earth bereft of beauty;
Why do you call her back?
Who wants to stir up pain by digging heart?
Ah kite, golden-winged kite, stop crying this noon
of tearful clouds, while flying around the Dhanshniri river.

Translated from Bengali by Faizul Latif Chowdhury, as found on

Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Kingdom of Cards


And then the ripples of Icche (wish) created havoc in the Kingdom of Cards… everybody wanted to have Icche… They started to question things, they started to rationalize – they wanted to know why they walked in straight lines, never looked left and right or back, why they never laughed, why they followed rules – why why why?

It was the season of spring – for the first time the citizens could hear the cuckoo sing, the flowers bloom – and then they began to fall in love…. They made many mistakes in their rules in their day to day life --- and then finally the Queen uttered – Victory to Icche!!! And all said the same --- And thus the orderly kingdom of Cards – Changed!

Tasher Desh (The Kingdom of Cards; Rabindranath Tagore)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Paris Attack is Tragic – Yes, but not more than that of Peshawar or Mumbai!

So what exactly is the proper expression of grief – especially when it relates to loss of innocent human lives? When someone dies, every culture in this world has predefined customs of mourning and some even state a total mourning period.

But when a tragedy strikes a nation – how is it that other nations are supposed to express their solidarity? By a formal official communication condemning the attack, lighting up the nation's landmarks in the colors of the national flag of the country in question and also by tinting social media profile picture with the victim nation’s national flag? So, if all three of the above mentioned mourning customs become a norm – it will be most welcome and most appropriate. However, if such display of grief is partial and the honor is restricted for the chosen elite – I should most certainly have reason to complain.

Recently Paris has seen a massacre in a scale almost unknown to the western world (the rich and the privileged world). This is a somber occasion and I do not deny that. Terrorism is a madness which should be condemned by the civilized world and expression of solidarity for the victim nation is most welcome and the most proper and humane thing to do. However, the expression of solidarity for Paris – whether individually in Facebook profile picture or collectively by nations all across the world from Brazil to United States to Australia is in stark contrast to similar expression of solidarity for other nations.

India has always been a target of terror attacks. I have never seen such outpouring of grief for India after any major attack not even by Indians themselves. Though, of course, all responsible nations expressed formal condemnation of those attacks.

Forget India, even Pakistan has also suffered from the madness of terrorism. Remember the 2014 Peshawar School massacre?

There are major instances of terrorism in other Asian nations too in the past.

However, the world suddenly became grief stricken when Paris was attacked? What exactly is so special about Paris and what is not so special about the little children of Peshawar?

Terrorism is a threat to all civilized nations. Victims of terrorism suffer the same tragedy everywhere – whether you live in the so called first world or third. Paris attack is equally condemnable and equally tragic and not more tragic and more condemnable just because it is Paris – the symbol of the privileged western world.

Partiality in expression of grief for glamorous, famous, glitzy Paris is as shallow as the show off material world – which we value so highly. Is it not time to offer the same honor to some obscure African poor nation called Mali too? 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Viva la Goa!

The sun was almost setting down!

It was evening and I was yet to reach my destination. The road was narrow and deserted on both sides apart from the tropical setting of palm, coconut, papaya and banana plantations everywhere. I had planned to spend only one night at my beach shack at Agonda and I had no desire to miss the first fabulous Goan sunset. I made a quick request to our dearest Sun God to hold on for the moment before bidding adieu for the day. I pondered whether to request St Francis Xavier, patron saint of Goa rather? Whosoever was in control of the department of Sun did however pay heed to my request anyway. The sun lingered on and apparently I did manage to reach the beach on time. I didn’t have time to check in and made my way directly to the recliner. The sky had put on a wondrous show and it was quite evident that I had made a very good decision indeed to go there first.

It seemed a little funny for a moment to have a beach in front of me rather than the desert mountain of Ladakh. I had all but planned to visit Leh but cancelled my flight at the very last moment for Goa considering the freezing sub zero temperature there at the moment (-16 C). Nevertheless, I was not a tiny bit upset about my spur of the moment change in geographic direction from north to west.

South Goa is the most tranquil part of Goa – It is less touristy and Palolem is the southernmost beach of Goa. Agonda is next to Palolem and I later discovered (after visiting Palolem the next day) that Agonda is much better and must less touristy. The area does not come under Municipality and is legally protected due to the hordes of Olive Ridley Turtles who come here every year for laying eggs. Legal requirements force all establishments against heavy lighting or loud music. Hence candle lights and soft electrical lights are the only option under the starry night. My beach sack overlooked the sea and I discovered for the first time what I read before that sea surf is visibly white in the dark night – probably due to – I don’t really know – Phosphorous or maybe some other scientific reason?

I put my alarm for 6 o’clock next morning as I wanted to say hello to dawn. The sea was calm and I fell asleep in no time. And in most other parts of India it was Diwali eve, I thought for a moment. It was impossible to know from there amidst the darkness! It was also Kali Puja (The Dark Goddess) for Bengalis and metaphorically if nature is mother goddess – I was in the right place in the right time in the dark moonless night.

I woke up as planned and took a leisurely stroll in the shore. My only companions at that time were some teeny weensy birds who seemed so brave that they were playing with the huge waves. They were flying to and fro every time the wave came and receded back. Probably the waves brought with them their free morning breakfast. I did request them to hang on for a photo shoot – but they declined me in complete disdain.
Disillusioned with the tiny birds I finally made my way to the restaurant for breakfast. I had booked my car for the day beforehand and I started my pilgrimage of Old Goa soon after.

I have had heard of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral and of course about St. Francis of Assisi many a times. Finally it was time to be there. The Cathedrals were wonderful, vast and indicative of prosperous bygone days. However, the church that I liked the most was that of St Cajetan. It was built in gothic style and was quite small compared to the Se Cathedral. When I went there, the church was completely empty offering me wonderful photographic opportunity. One sunbeam artfully lay beneath the pedestal of Jesus in silent veneration – Magical!

Wikipedia said “In 1639, religious of the Order of Theatines reached Goa to found a convent. They built a church between 1656 and 1661, dedicated to St Cajetan and to Our Lady of Divine Providence, designed by the Italian architects Carlo Ferrarini and Francesco Maria Milazzo with a plan in the form of a Greek cross. The facade, completed in 1661, mimics the facade of Carlo Maderno to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.”

More than 350 Years old and still so wonderful. Amazing! Hat’s off to you Carlo Ferrarini and Francesco Maria Milazzo.

I reached Panjim to visit “Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church”. To tell you the truth – I was a little disappointed here. It looked ordinary – but it was indeed one of the most important churches of the region from a religious perspective. Before reaching my Hotel at Anjuna – I halted at Miramar beach for a while. The beach seemed nice but not anything extraordinary.

Later that evening I headed for Anjuna. As expected it was a little crowded – but the stone reefs gives Anjuna a special appeal. The overcrowded commercialization of restaurants might be a spoiler – but it was kind of okay. As it was Wednesday I got to see the flea market – Nothing exceptional here though – Avoidable.

My itinerary for next day was to do all the other beaches of north Goa starting at Fort Aguada and Dolphin Island. They were quite touristy and I kind of hurried all of them. Finally I reached a fabulous beach called Vagator. It has a character and a charm quite unmatched by most other beaches of Goa. It might be much smaller – but its rugged shore coupled with the ruins of Chapora fort nearby makes it interesting and extraordinary. The sun and the clouds had again put on a show here for sunset. To say the least – Vagator is divine!

My remaining days were spent again in the remote corner of north Goa called Mandrem. I took a beach shack at Ashvem which is right next to Mandrem. It was quiet, less crowded and my kind of place. A walk from Ashvem beach to Mandrem in the morning by the shore will take you through fishermen boats, lots of greenery, birds having chirping lessons and tiny hills.

Though Goa is known for its beaches – it has much more to offer. To start with, the state is lush green and quite clean. The people are amiable and the place is laidback albeit interesting. The food is wonderful with pretty names like Xacuti and Vindaloo. For lovers of Seafood – it’s a treasure trove. Goa’s charm also comes from the lovely tiled roof bungalows everywhere and the liberal sprinkling of village chapels at every nook and corner. And did I mention Cats? I have seen more cats here than most other places- probably it’s the fishy stench that lingers around on many places that appeals them.

I finally left for Delhi with fond memories of Goa. For those who have not explored this tiny bit of paradise by the sea yet – I would highly recommend a visit.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Travelogue - Rajasthan

Even though I am quite fond of the Himalayas and Jungles – but for a while now I had been thinking about visiting Rajasthan – a state so close to Gurgaon and so well known for its incredible charm. So this Christmas I decided to finally get my itineraries fixed for a ten days trip covering most of Rajasthan. Though my initial plan was to cover Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur – I had to later skip Jaisalmer and Jaipur due to paucity of time

Udaipur Besides shimmering Lake Pichola, with the ochre and purple ridges of the wooded Aravalli Hills stretching away in every direction, Udaipur has a romantic setting unmatched in Rajasthan. A boat ride in the evening in Lake Pichola can indeed be a very sublime experience – This is the time when the colors of the setting sun mixes with the azure lake and the blue hills – and all on a sudden everything looks purple mixed with shades of ochre and red.

Surmounted by balconies, towers and cupolas towering over the lake, the imposing City Palace is Rajasthan’s largest palace. Evening is a good time to visit the City Palace. It looks lovely in the dawn too, but it can get a little teeming in the day time. The good news is - the palace remains open till eleven in the night and you can have the palace completely for yourself after dusk. There is a sound and light show from 7 PM which is quite an experience. The museum remains closed though in the evening. 


Mighty Mehrangarh, the muscular fort that towers over the Blue City of Jodhpur, is a magnificent spectacle and an architectural masterpiece. Around Mehrangarh’s feet, the old city, a jumble of cobalt blue cubes, stretches out to the 10km-long, 16th-century city wall. The ‘Blue City’ really is blue! Inside is a tangle of winding, glittering, medieval streets, which never seem to lead where you expect them to…

I arrived at the mighty fort early in the morning. I was surprised (pleasantly of course) to be welcomed by Rajasthani Musicians. “Kesariya Balam aawo ni padharo mhare des ni; Kesariya Balam aawo sa padharo mhare des” – I heard this song for the first time in this fort and throughout my journey in Rajasthan I understood that it is a very popular song of this region. The Meharangar Fort is dotted with musicians and folk artists at different places – which add colour and life to this magnificent structure. I heard the same tune again in the instrumental version at the nearby Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park (The Jaswant Thada mausoleum). The performer was playing beautifully throughout the day – and though I was unaware of the lyrics and unaware of the meaning of the song – it was a very mesmerizing tune in the charming, surreal and magical setting of the desert park. 

Google Translation tells me that the song means - My saffron love, come - Please come to my land - I call you my love -I am attached to your heart -I keep you in my wraps - And look at you all the time - padharo mhare des ni - Lovely Indeed

Jaswant Thada - This milky white marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, sitting above a small lake 1km northeast of Mehrangarh, is an array of whimsical domes. It’s a welcome, peaceful spot after the hubbub of the city, and the views across to the fort and over the city are superb. Built in 1899, the cenotaph has some beautiful carved marble lattice screens and is hung with portraits of Rathore rulers going back to the 13th century. 


I decided to skip Jaisalmer and go for a solitary desert sunset experience instead in less touristy Bikaner. I opted for two days camel safari spending the night in a tent in the desert with bonfire under a million starred Christmas night – Charming Indeed!

The Bikaner desert has sparse vegetation and animals like Blackbuck, Indian Gazelle, Red Fox, Caracal and a wide variety of birds like eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures etc can be seen. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

নিল ফুলের দেশে - The valley of Blue Flowers

The team of Red Munias felt disturbed by our presence, a group of wild mynas expressed their disapproval, the dragon flies hovered over our head – wait; the dragon flies were red in colour, the Jungle remained silent otherwise – with the purple wild flowers. Well the flowers did not really sway like daffodils of William Wordsworth – but so what? They were pretty in their own jungle way. The stream was boiling and the bicycle ride over the bamboo bridge over it – made me shiver! On the other side of the brook I could see the ancient ruins of a broken temple – outgrown with trees – felt like some temple I had seen in a colourful Soviet Union Children’s magazine someday back. (Well yes, that was some temple in Cambodia I now know). This temple was very tiny though in comparison and far less imposing – but still, it did have a very mystic effect.  It was early morning in winter sometimes in the 90's when I was about four or five years old. Babi (my Dad) often used to take me for a joy ride in a bicycle on weekends for my entertainment J. We explored many nearby areas – including the road with two hills on both sides.

The valley of blue flowers – is one among my fondest places of childhood. The flowers were actually not blue, rather purple and they had no smell or reputation. But I adored them more than reputed flowers at that time and probably I still do. The name of this place came from mom – who used to wake me up in the morning saying “Babi tomake Nil Phuler Deshe niye jabe” (Dad would take you to the country of blue flowers). The stream probably evaporates or something in winter – as I remember the stream to be boiling. Coupled with the fact that Dad gave me the idea that good rivers give hot water in winter - further strengthened my belief. So what’s the big deal if river boils – does winter not come in Truck Loads every morning from Bhutan? 

Chilling at two degrees today in Gurgaon – I suddenly remembered the country of blue flowers with the hot stream and the ruined temple in the jungle… I remembered how I miss the mynas and the munias…How I have not seen a dragon fly in ages… And how true was that poem I learned in my Hindi Lesson that said - childhood days are the golden days of our life J

Monday, 28 October 2013

গৃহপ্রবেশ - Of Pigeons and a Dwelling Place

This Diwali I wanted to move to a new apartment and also one closest to my office… After a little search of the area – I finally got one, reasonably priced for Gurgaon – a fully furnished one room apartment, five minutes walking distance from my office and overseeing the azure glass buildings of the Millennium City from the terrace…

However, I am compelled to share a little part of my space with some other worldly creatures (and that too in the same rent) - namely the Pigeon Family. Frankly I had little choice, for apparently they had been staying here up above my AC for a while now and they seemed reluctant to vacate their home. Upon being told – they ignored my polite request with complete disdain. Though they are not the kind who would like to make acquaintance with a new neighbor, they make their presence felt throughout the day with their cooing and fluttering – obviously remaining hidden all the time.

Being a nature lover and specifically a birder my heart aches to be in a place with few trees and naturally with few birds – I can’t remember the last time I have met even a sparrow. The Pigeons are an exception though – they don’t need trees and are perfectly comfortable in colonizing the cities. Therefore on second thought my pigeon family seemed to be a real consolation for my soul. (So what they have not taken chirping lessons – they can softly coo at least. That counts.)

Staying alone in a single room –makes one ponder (oh, of course, that is something I normally do anyway- and trust me I have become very good at that). And a thought came to my mind – have we changed much from the cave men? Our room is hot or cold as per our requirement, has a hearth (kitchen), a place to sleep and of course modern amenities. That is quite similar of being inside a cave with all your requirements. Now I don’t want to be philosophical and claim that the quality of life of the cave men had probably been better than us living in cities – Oh, I am tempted to say that – but am restricting myself as of now… See we don’t need to hunt for food or exert ourselves too much for survival needs – that counts for something – does it not?

However, the cave men deserve one brownie point and that is – “every one of them used to live in caves”. Reminds me of Karl Marx – who as a child had read a fairy tale which started as – “In China everyone is Chinese – Even their king is Chinese !!!”….

The modern man apparently has failed the Cave men (I know it is clichéd), - but still can we avoid the thought that in modern cities the privileged and the have not’s have become part of the scenery – and we are taking this as normal…

Probably the Pigeons are better off (ignoring their disdain for me though) – and far more civilized than the rest of us….They live in a just equal society – A long way for the human species to evolve!

October 28, 2013
Cyber City, Gurgaon

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Divine Connection

Every known and established religion, cult and tradition of our day has a prescribed set of customs and rituals. It’s like club rules – different religions after all are anyway different club membership. However, the rituals and customs of most traditions are interesting and attractive. From the mask dance of Tibetan lamas, the sonorous Vedic hymns, the Catholic choir music, the mystic dance of Sufis to the Pagan invocations – religious expressions are always associated with culture and performing arts. Is it not interesting to observe that the human mind has always wanted to touch the divine through art, poetry, literature, sculpture, music, dance and the like?

Furthermore, can it be ignored that the rituals (setting aside any magical connotations of connecting with god) are created in a way that is relaxing psychologically? I look at Rituals, Customs and Ceremonies as ways to distress and a very highly evolved psychological exercise. Whether one believes or disbelieves in the existence of a higher force – the artificial creation of an ambience (though for ritualistic purpose) can be a very positive uplifting experience for many.  

Even though human beings like to be rational and practical we are at the end of the day not objective like computers. We like to be awed, we like mysteries, and we love fairytales. The rituals and ceremonies create an environment – an ambience of awe, of mystery, of wonder. In such an appealing ambience the mind finds it easier to concentrate and meditate. If you had ever been inside a Tibetan Buddhist monastery for instance - with the lamas reciting their sonorous chants and playing cymbals, drums, singing bowls - you had probably been bowled over, you had probably reflected on the mystic mysterious experience regardless of your belief system. Coming from an Indic background the Sanskrit Chants are also very appealing to me – so is the interesting concoction of sound combining Conch Shell mixed with bells during sandha aarti (evening worship) at dusk.  A catholic church with its wonderful décor and melodious hymns can again be a very uplifting experience and so can a melodious Azaan in an intricately decorated mosque. The human mind cannot restrict itself without any artistic expression when it comes to trying to commune with God. A case in point could be Islam – where there is a restriction imposed against idols or sculptures. As a result the practitioners came up with a highly evolved form of calligraphy and intricate forms of design.

Over the years each religion and cult has come up with unique styles of worship and thereby deeply enriching us from the cultural perspective. Rituals or means of connecting with the divine has resulted in the creation of fabulous works of art, sculpture, architecture, music, dance forms and the like. Apparently the divine has a very aesthetic connection – or in other words the Aesthetic is the Divine… 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

আরণ্যক - "Aranyak" - Of the Forest ... (Jim Corbett National Park)


Even though we all know how a tiger looks like, it is always exciting to catch a glimpse of the big cat out there in the wild. My desire for a rendezvous with this glorious member of the tigrine species compelled me to plan my trip to Jim Corbett National Park. After some basic research and advice from ‘Lonely Planet’ Travel Guide - I opted for Dhikala Zone, the most happening part of Corbett Tiger Reserve.

It’s actually quite easy for those residing in Delhi; one can hop a train to Ramnagar – starts every night at 10: 40 PM. The journey is about five hours and by the time you wake up you are in Ramnagar.

Ramnagar is unappealing, but once you start driving and get a glimpse of the rising sun across the mountain range and the river Koshi – you realize that it’s indeed a great decision to visit this wonderful forest.

January 25, 2013

My first meeting with someone not from my species happened quite early during my trip. It was a Samber Deer – The largest Asiatic Deer. My Jeep driver Mr. Hem stopped immediately for my first ‘aha’ moment. The creature stared at me for quite a while without making any fuss about my presence. As I am not used to being stared at by animals, I was indeed quite surprised and I did exclaim my wonder to Mr. Hem. Apparently the creature was quite disheartened for he not only left the spot but did so in great hurry.

Moral: When you are out in the wild – do not make any noise. These animals are quite used to silly creatures called Humans in their odd Jeeps – but they do not really endure the strange sound humans make called ‘speech’.

Throughout my journey to Dhikala Zone (which took around three hours) I spotted several Deer (mostly the Chital or Spotted Deer and Barking Deer). My Driver stopped several times to listen to alarm calls (which explains the presence of tiger) and at sunny open areas where the tigers like to bask in winter. However, no one apparently was to be found.

I checked in at Dhikala (Old Forest Rest House) at around 10:00 AM. As per the suggestion of my Driver I immediately made the reservation for the elephant ride for the next morning (As elephants are limited and you cannot get a seat if there is a rush of visitors). I was waiting impatiently for my meeting with Mr. Tyger, however as per forest rules one can only start at 2:00 PM and again return back by 5:30 PM. As per rules the animals are not to be disturbed by us between 11:30 AM and 2:00 PM. The Dhikala Forest House has a small but well stocked library, an amphitheater, two restaurants and wonderful sightseeing arrangements. I spent my time hopping around the rest house area and browsing through the pages of “Man Eaters of Kumaon”.

My Jeep was the first to start, exactly at 2:00 without wasting a second. And my guide (Mr. Rakesh) wanted to take advantage of this fact. We went straight ahead to the area known as ‘Mota Sal’ or the fat Sal tree. This spot is marked by a broken tree– as my guide explained; it used to be the fattest Sal tree in the forest which was struck by thunder. Mota Sal apparently is the address of Mr. Tiger. As we approached my driver Hem exclaimed about spotting a movement. However, in the absence of any alarm call, my guide pooh-poohed the idea as being wild boars.

We waited for a while in Mota Sal, but could not hear any call. Therefore we decided to meet the elephants and deer first. The Ramganga Reservoir, where wild elephants and deer come to drink is very near ‘Mota Sal’. As we approached the wondrous herd of wild elephants my guide heard the alarm call which surmised the presence of a tiger. After a few hurried clicks of the tusker and the elephant herd – we rushed back to the thunder struck tree. But then again the call sounded somewhere a little ahead in the yellowish grassy field where the chital deer were grazing. A few turns of our Jeep and my driver seared to have seen the silhouette of the big cat again. We rushed and lo behold there actually was the Royal Bengal Tiger in the bush about 10 feet away from me in the left. As soon as the big cat caught sight of us it immediately hid inside the bushes. But for the few seconds we met – there was an increase in adrenalin surging through my veins. The tiger was more saffronish and less yellowish in colour. A few more Jeeps followed us and we all waited impatiently to catch a glimpse of this elusive creature. After eight minutes or so the tiger jumped and growled and vanished into the bushes. These few moments – the first when the tiger blankly stared at us and the second when it growled (apparently being angered as we spoiled his lunch) and jumped, rather galloped in a succession of five small jumps – a la National Geographic moment, would be amongst my fondest memories of Corbett.

Content, Excited and Proud for making me witness the big cat just within twenty minutes or so of the start of my Jungle Safari, my guide Mr. Rakesh promised me a Leopard. We headed towards a place called Ringora where one Leopard has reportedly hanged two Chital Deer in the tree. While on the way my Guide explained to me the difference between the behavior of a Leopard and a Tiger. The basic facts are, first, a Tiger often is found in open areas and keeps its kill in bushes. The leopard is to be found where the tigers frequent less often. Moreover, the Leopard hangs it’s kill up in the trees to protect from other carnivores. The Leopard is also much smaller as compared to a Tiger.

As we approached Ringora we met a Jeep with two Australian women staring at the tree where the Leopard has hung the Chital Deer. We waited for a while but Mr. Leopard was nowhere to be seen. After sometime the Australians left with their Jeep and almost immediately we saw the Leopard camouflaged in a fallen tree. Immediately my guide signaled for the Australian group to come back, but as soon as they approached the Leopard has vanished.

After waiting again for a while we decided to meet the crocodiles just nearby in the confluence of the reservoir. The crocodile part was kind of disappointment as I could only spot them through binocular that too on the other side of the bank. However, this confluence was indescribably stunning. This part of the forest is so so awesome that you forget the Leopard, forget the Tiger, and forget the Crocodile – you are in front of a blue blue serene river. The best part of Corbett is its virgin beauty. It’s utterly clean and unpolluted. After a few clicks we decided to head back to spot the Leopard and since we had time we decided to wait for a while. We waited for around thirty minutes without making any noise for the Leopard to come back to its kill. By the time we felt we must return back we spotted the silhouette of the Leopard between two trees. It was cleaning its right paw just as a pussy cat will do after eating a fish. The leopard was a little far and could only be seen clearly with the binocular. However, it was one of the prettiest sights I have ever witnessed.

January 26, 2013

My trip was planned as Elephant Ride in the morning from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM followed by Jeep Safari till 11:30 and then my return journey after Lunch. The morning was quite foggy and we could not spot anything for a while. And then we did spot several Chitals, three wild boars, two peahens taking a flight as soon as we approached and some teeny weensy unknown birds. The best part of the safari in an elephant is the fact that you can reach those areas where Jeeps cannot take you. And there are better chances of spotting a tiger from a small distance. However, apparently tigers were in no mood for a conversation with us – but I did enjoy the ride. The forest is a magical place and the mist made everything look so surreal. If you do not believe then check the clicks.

My morning Jeep safari started from Mota Sal. We followed some alarm calls from several directions, saw some fresh pug marks and met the Australians returning. Ms. Jane was grinning today as luck has indeed favored them. They just had an encounter with the Royal Bengal Tiger.

We waited in another area where several vultures were seen flying. Apparently vultures can be found in areas near a kill. Though it was obvious that a tiger was nearby we could not manage to spot one.

During my return journey I spotted several birds and deer. Checked the museum and bid adieu to Jim Corbett National Park with fond memories. Indeed this trip was one my bestest (sic) trips so far.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Develop a state of mind like the earth,Rahula....

Develop a state of mind like the earth,Rahula. For on the earth people throw clean and unclean things, dung and urine,spittle, pus and blood, and the earth is not troubled or repelled or disgusted. And as you grow like the earth no contacts with pleasant or unpleasant will lay hold of your mind or stick to it.

Simply you should develop a state of mind like water, for people throw all manner of clean and unclean things into water and it is not troubled or repelled or disgusted.

And similarly with fire, which burns all things,clean and unclean,
and with air, which blows upon them all,

and with space,which is nowhere established.

Develop the state of mind of friendliness,Rahula, for, as you do so,ill-will will grow less;
and of compassion, for thus vexation will grow less;
and of joy, for thus aversion will grow less;
and of equanimity,for thus repugnance will grow less.

Buddha's Advice to his Son ~ Passage from the Majhima Nikaya

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

দেশ - Metamorphosis

The thick cloud --- the dark ominous variety, which used to hang low with its burden of terror --- hangs no more. We have the wispy grey ones instead. Dark ominous variety, wispy grey ones – does it really make any difference? Only the grey ones look less terrifying. Both shed rain – obnoxious, poisonous, rancid water.

The stench of the rain from the dark variety is a matter of yore. The terror is past & it was horrible. Overcome by the stale smell of the grey ones, which emanated soon after we became independent, is miserable – obnoxious, poisonous, abysmal…

The clouds, the pronounced member of the higher species has little to do with the lower organisms. The wispy grey ones (the indigenous variety) --- follows faithfully the tradition of the dark alien variety. The dark variety & the grey variety have one thing in common --- the eternal desire to oppress.

The scabrous lower creatures, for which everything has remained the same over the years, change in the consistency and ingredients of the clouds don’t matter much. They are like those facetious crows whose cries are incessant. They dance in the rain & the clouds remain apathic. They have got the eternal freedom to be oppressed.

The indigenous variety needs the lower beings, which is good for their enrichment, for raising political hopes, for passing out food parcels, for loading them in trucks and exhibiting them in meetings and flamboyant processions, for reinforcing social divisions, etcetera. What more can they do? They are the wispy grey ones – following faithfully the dark ominous variety. Their attitude of deference is a tradition.

This is a traditional society of divine philosophy, of sublime spirituality, of great moral and ethical values, of rich cultural heritage ………

For the lower, hungry & homeless creatures, cajoled into an eternal contract with misery, all these matters the least. And it matters the least, the tricolor, the anthem, the state sponsored joyful tamashas, the speeches for the betterment of (?) given by the indigenous grey variety – the upholder of our constitution – clad in white – pristine white –pure white…

Monday, 2 April 2012

ছবির জন্য - Of Apps, doodles and paintings

Are you a purist? Well then you will probably not agree with me. But you can’t deny the sheer beauty of the end result of doodles, sketches and paintings using apps in your phone or laptop.

Yeah, you do miss the canvas, pastels and brushes – but you don’t really miss on your creativity. You paint, mix and match colours and create something fabulous – although I believe – these apps are gonna be far more smarter and user friendly in years to come – in the meanwhile we do have some great developments to keep us engrossed.

In the hectic lifestyle of today’s world – such apps can go a long way to keep our creativity alive! I am all for painting apps – are you?

Friday, 18 November 2011

টিনটিন A Masterpiece – When one Master meets another

Nostalgia, merry memories of childhood – oh! That’s really Special…. As Wordsworth ends most of his lovely poems with the idea of hording ‘that lovely moment’ in his memory (like the song of the solitary reaper) – so that he can ruminate over and over – I have a soft corner for my kindergarten days… And a special part of that world would obviously be my fondness for books, animations and comics. I grew up reading lovely translations of world literature (Thanks to Soviet Union Publications – Whatever be your opinion about the erstwhile Soviets – my views are apolitical as far as their publication of lovely magazines and books for children is concerned).  Similarly, I have a fondness for Disney and his immortal creations - Mickey, Donald and the team. The protagonists from the comics “Asterix & Obelix” and “Tintin” are some of my most adorable childhood heroes. Probably, subconsciously – I have developed this interest in world culture because of my fondness for Tintin (along with other elements as well).

Obviously, such profound fondness for Tintin cannot be maligned with any different interpretation. Therefore, I was apprehensive about Spielberg’s 3D “The Adventures of Tintin”. Initially, I thought I will not watch the movie. However, on second thought – I reconsidered my opinion and bought a ticket.

Oh! That was a great decision – I would say. Spielberg has treated my friends really well. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. The movie based on “The Secret of the Unicorn” – though did not completely follow the exact sequence of the comics (because – Spielberg needed to target people who are not aware of Tintin or is not acquainted with the characters) was worth watching. The first shot, when a painter having made a portrait of Tintin – asks the protagonist if his creation resembles him, was obviously, Spielberg asking the audience – if his creation has done justice to our imagination? To answer him – I would say – Yes, Thank you and Thanks God! A lovely creation – a product of adoration and love from one master towards another – A lovely homage to Hergé…

Monday, 24 October 2011

ভুল সবই - The remarkable case of blunders

Honestly, do we learn from mistakes? We all have a particular pattern of behavior – and we behave according to our desires and the cues we receive from the internal and external environment. We are sometimes foolhardy and rash – but that’s the beauty of it! If we do not take risks – we will never achieve anything in life. If the end result of a whimsical/less planned decision lands us in a mess – we obviously are in a miserable state of mind. Obviously, we try to find our way out of the quagmire.

Though I am in the middle of my tween years and I still love to watch Cartoons – A favorite character of mine is “Cruella de Vil” from 101 Dalmatians. Whenever she experiences anything difficult in life – She records in her recorder –“Please note Cruella – you are never to do this again”. I kind of adore this idea – though I do not carry a recorder :)

However, we do record certain experiences in our subconscious and try to avoid a recurrence of such circumstances in future. I have come to believe in gut feelings or instincts. I feel – it stands us in good stead.

When we talk about mistakes in life – our frame of reference would obviously vary. Are we talking about mistakes in our personal or professional life? Are we even aware that we are making a mistake or that we have made a mistake? If you have not realized that you have made a mistake – you are happy – ignorance is bliss. However, if it suddenly dawns in your realization that you have indeed apparently done something that can qualify as a mistake – you must act to improve the situation – better late than never. However, the best idea should be – not to be bogged down by anything.

Dale Carnegie said (and it helps – trust me) whenever you face any difficulty – take a pen and a paper - try to jot down the problem including solutions. Now focus on each solution and the possible ramification or ramifications. Then decide on the best course of action. I love this statement my mom uses – “This is not the end of the world, don’t despair”

On retrospection, I believe, I have not done anything till – which can be called a fatal mistake – but I do have a plethora of peccadillo in my collection. The minor mistakes have molded me into the person I am – I probably spent a little more time thinking about the repercussion of a certain action – I have started to believe that – I need to plan – I need to prepare ….. Add your preparation with a healthy dose of instincts – Voila – you don’t make mistakes :) 

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Moments of Wonder - Assam

Cadence poetry of rain, cajoled into an annual contract with monsoon, reiterate unfailingly whenever the feral sun marauds the veritable paradise. Sometimes the benign wispy white and at other times the dark ominous variety, hung low with its burden of unshed showers, beset the whole scenery.

I grew up in such sublime moments of wonder.

My courtship with nature started quite early in life. This emanated, perhaps due to the ubiquitous green milieu which was always enchanting. It was however not only confined to the reverie of nature but also in practical lineaments.

I am a member of an environmental protection group named “Nature’s Foster” right from my childhood. When I joined I was the youngest member of the group and also the most excited. I often remember the days (as Wordsworth talks about pondering over the merry memories in most of his poems) when we used to go for bird watching and nature study. Once in a forest I discovered in awe and admiration how a group of water birds take off into the sky, all of them at once, as if a storm, as soon as the last rays of sun faded.

We often used to visit the Kakoijona forest, now a national park. The golden langur’s there ignored us as being utterly insignificant.

I never knew that hoopoes and other exotic birds (whose photographs were pasted in my scrap book and in my room and adored as celebrities) actually inhabited our town and nearby forests.

Another incident that I remember is that of a late winter afternoon in a misty forest where we lost our way. The facetious discovery of fresh pug marks, the stench of a rotting animal and my clever surmise did not please the party.

Our imperative rendezvous with a member of pardine or tigrine species which would have increased the adrenalin surging through our veins to a much greater extent, did not however, really occur, but our smart escape made everybody happy…

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Why must “Tibet” bother you?

"Tibet is a human rights issue as well as a civil and political rights issue. But there's something else too - Tibet has a precious culture based on principles of wisdom and compassion. This culture addresses what we lack in the world today; a very real sense of inter-connectedness. We need to protect it for the Tibetan people, but also for ourselves and our children." - Richard Gere, Chair of the Board of the International Campaign for Tibet

Tibet is a vast country, with an area roughly equal to Western Europe. Tibet is the source of five of Asia’s largest rivers of strategic interest, which provide water for two billion people. Since China’s presence, Tibet’s fragile environment has been endangered by strip-mining, nuclear waste dumping, and extensive deforestation.

Hidden and almost unreachable behind the highest mountains in the world – Tibet, a peaceful nation of innocent people – had its own national flag, its own currency, a distinct culture and religion, and controlled its own affairs. The Chinese government increasingly encourages Han Chinese to migrate to Tibet, offering them higher wages and other inducements. This policy is threatening the survival of Tibetan people. Yearly, thousands of Tibetans flee from Tibet, making the treacherous journey over the Himalayas.

China represents an enormous market and labor force; its business sector has a strong lobby among Tibetan officials which are reluctant to take substantive measures. Western countries adopted policies of constructive engagement with China in the 1990s, the Tibetan human rights situation has deteriorated. In November 2008, the UN endorsed Free Tibet’s report on torture, believing that torture is widespread and routine in Tibet. Despite the public endorsement, the United Nations and international community have done very little to address the core issue of China’s occupation of Tibet.

In 1949, following the foundation of the Chinese Communist state, the People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet and soon overpowered its poorly equipped army and guerilla resistance. Tibet, lovingly referred to as the Roof of the World, had remained in oblivion for centuries. In March 1959, Tibetans rose up against the Chinese occupiers. The uprising was brutally crushed and the Tibetan leader, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, escaped to India, followed by more than 80,000 Tibetans. Tens of thousands of Tibetans who remained were killed or imprisoned. Figures estimated as high as hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have died as a direct result of the occupation through starvation, alleged torture, and execution.


•More than 6,000 monasteries and their contents, irreplaceable jewels of Tibetan culture, were destroyed.
•Tibetans are routinely imprisoned and tortured for non-violently expressing their views.
•China is encouraging the large-scale settlement of Chinese into Tibet which is overwhelming the Tibetan population in many areas.
•More than a million Tibetans have died from alleged human rights violations, according to the Tibetan Government in Exile.

In this modern era, does basic human nature remain apathetic to widespread suffering due to lack of knowledge, or fear and doubt? Is Tibet representative of a model of China’s global strategy?

Friday, 1 July 2011


     Just created a Tagore Collage Wallpaper with the NFDC Snaps…
     You may click and save as Wallpaper

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Last Words of Christ: “I thirst”

Amongst the final words of Jesus, I like the two words “I thirst.” What does it mean that Christ thirsted? Though there might be several meanings and interpretations, I personally associate this statement with one’s longing for the infinite. This is an eternal thirst which cannot be fulfilled in this life, unless, who knows what enlightenment is.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Appeal of superheroes and supernatural powers in all cultures

The term supernatural or supranatural pertains to an order of existence beyond the scientifically visible universe. Religious miracles are typically supernatural claims, as are spells and curses, divination, the belief that there is an afterlife for the dead, and innumerable others. Supernatural beliefs have existed in many cultures throughout human history. Supernatural themes are often associated with paranormal and occult ideas. Many cultures believe that past, present and future complexities and mysteries of the universe cannot be explained solely by naturalistic means and argue that it is reasonable to assume that a non-natural entity or entities resolve the unexplained. By its own definition, science is incapable of examining or testing for the existence of things that have no physical effects, because its methods rely on the observation of physical effects.

Since time immemorial human beings have been fascinated by the unexplained and mysterious aspects of nature. Almost all cultures acknowledge that there are several unresolved mysteries of the universe. Ideas of the supernatural gives a rational explanation of the otherwise unexplained mysteries of the cosmos and hence it’s appealing to all cultures. Moreover the idea of super natural gives a sense of thrill and trickles ones imagination.

Superheroes are supposed to be demigods or miraculous manifestation of the non natural or supra natural entity. Many super heroes in oriental cultures are supposed to be of divine origin or avatars. The appeal of super heroes stem from the fact that all cultures look up to a perfect and ideal role model or representative of the tribe who will possess all the desired attributes of behaviour that may be considered as an apotheosis of perfection.

It is natural for an individual to want someone to look up to. In the real world, no one has some kind of super human ability. That is only in the comics and television. The heroes or champions we look up to is someone that we see ourselves being like or want to be like. This individual is also usually in a higher level of physical or mental maturity than those who look up to him or her. For these two reasons, we easily like protagonist that look like us, or we can most relate to.

The concept of a hero is usually welcomed in any society as long as the champion appeals to the people and does not conflict with the major values. Every popular super-hero has a reason why he or she is popular. Besides the superhero’s special abilities, in most cases it is because the super-hero appealed to a need, an audience or a people. This is even the case for protagonists like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Wonder woman and many others.

When we think of superheroes we tend to think of people with great powers like super strength, super speed, and a super duper hyper laser blast or something of that manner. This aspect throws light to that aspect of human nature which is insecure. We always strive to be someone or somebody smarter than us. We love role models and we love super heroes because we want to emulate them. The desire to be able to achieve or do whatever we are incapable of doing is so inherent in our psyche that this urge is fulfilled by superimposing them in a superhero. Superheroes appeal to our subconscious mind which wants to be able to achieve greatness.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

ঈশ্বর এবং ধর্ম - Oh God!

Planet Earth – a land full of paradoxes, inconsistencies, absurdities, wonders, mysteries, delights …. From the moment we achieved an awareness of our surrounding – we subconsciously, consciously, rationally, irrationally tried to make an assessment of our situation and the world we live in… And there had been several puzzling questions. For instance, what exactly are we doing here? Does life hold any purpose? Is there any higher force that controls us or is responsible for our creation and existence? Why do bad things happen? Does God not exist? If it does is God a positive force?

Every civilization has tried to rationally answer several of those questions and have arrived at several conclusions.  Interestingly most people found it convincing to believe that there exist higher forces of nature or God(s).They tried to rationalize the purpose of life by the theory of a creator and the related moral code of good conduct. However, there had been many who did not buy this idea and there had also been several who had vehemently opposed the concept of a higher force. The two extreme points of views – namely theism and atheism – both blindly claim about the existence or lack of existence of higher power.

Apart from the questions about the existence of God, we had also been troubled about the very nature of God. Is God a positive force or a negative force? Or is it neutral? Most traditions interestingly again define God as a positive benign force… It is interesting to note that in order to find consolation from unresolved questions people not only believed in God and started established religions but also attributed God to be good… There has been mild acknowledgement of the fact that there exist negative aspects in this world --- and hence came the concept of Devil… Most traditions again established the good god higher than the bad devil. Example in Zoroastrianism “Ahura Mazda’ is more powerful than ‘Ahriman’,  In Abrahamic Religions “God” is more powerful than “Satan”, In Hinduism Gods have triumphed over Devils – like Durga is victorious over Mahishasura etc. Now it is very necessary to note that we cannot equate all religions having the same belief system… In this essay my opinions would be based on my understanding of the existing religions, cults and traditions related to a higher force or higher forces…

Ignoring the question about the existence of higher force for the time being – assuming the presence of such force of nature let us focus our attention on the very nature of such a force…. Why is it that most traditions have seen god as positive or has it really been the case?

There is an interesting observation by the notable philosopher of yesteryears Epicurus who said and I quote:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? ~ Then he is impotent. 
Is he able, but not willing? ~ Then he is malevolent. 
Is he both able and willing?  ~ Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? ~ Then why call him God!?!”

Many atheists would likely sprinkle their argument with this famous quote – however, an agnostic like me would look at the concept of God from a different perspective. Coupled with the fact that I come from an Indic background with a pluralistic view of religious view (hence gods, goddesses or to put it simply –supernatural forces of nature). Apparently, this remark questions about the existence of evil, and the inability of the so called God (who by normal logic is supposed to be benign) to protect the cosmos. And assuming that God is not positive – we should not call ‘it’ God (which as per most definitions would mean a supreme being – controlling the universe).  Therefore the basic question is (apart from the very existence of god) - is god a positive force?

To start with I need to examine the opinion from several perspectives:

1)     Perspective 1 – My Indic Background – As per Hinduism (I have reservations though to call this school of thought as a single religion) and other Hindu based religions – we can have varied ideas about God. First, the Upanishadas talk about a supreme force – or God. This concept is akin to the God of monistic religions. It would be foolhardy to ever claim or assume that Hinduism has a single idea – rather it would be best to say that it is a collection of ideas. From the other perspective of Hinduism – which talks about a plethora of Gods (though it is said that those are divine attributes of one single super force namely brahmn) is akin to the new age pagan ideas. Though paganism has its roots in the antiquity, during its revival it has based several assumptions and must have absorbed from the predominant school of thoughts prevalent today.
2)     Perspective 2 – Monistic Schools of thought – The concept of a single or all pervasive great God (Abrahamic Religions)

From the above perspectives I can have the following arguments:

Argument 1: God is the Good Guy --- And the higher power (compared with devil)

Assuming god is a source of positive energy – is it not disgusting to believe that ‘He’ will burn us in hell for eternity? (All Abrahamic Religions claim that if you do not belong to their religion – you are NOT gonna be saved on the day of the last judgment – you will not attain salvation). If that’s true then most certainly god is not a source of positive energy, quite the contrary I believe. The Abrahamic God talks about club membership – it’s like oh you din belong to my club in your lifetime – go to hell… If you are supposed to be afraid of god – then most certainly that god is Evil. Moreover, if god is so powerful and so so kinda positive – why is it that we have such a sorry state of the world – why do we not live in paradise for eternity? 

The Indic religions will try to explain this by the philosophy of Karma and the like. If you have not behaved properly in your previous lives – you will pay for that in this life… I wonder why should God want that – Is He/She/It – playing games with us? If that’s true – then that God must be masochistic and horrible.

Moreover, god does not appear to believe in egalitarianism. That’s very depressing – considering all sensible beings of the world – appreciate equality. 

Key takeaways: God is either impotent or evil and henceforth God and Devil must be the same thing. God may be the higher power – but it is a mean god and makes little sense to attribute goodness to this power….

Argument 2: The Good Guy and the Bad Guy both exists --- and are kinda fighting a duel?

Assuming that there are forces of nature into play – which for better comprehension can be referred to as positive or negative. It can be God vs Devil or Gods vs Devils – the good gods and the frowning gods..

In this argument both are equally powerful or are in a tussle trying to dominate the other. Unlike monolithic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) the pagan cults are pluralistic. They don’t believe in a super duper God and a super duper Devil, rather a plethora of forces of nature – good and bad. The forces of nature are referred to by many names --- however for easy understanding one may find similar references like yin and yang (taoism), isfet and maat (egypt), devas and asuras (hinduism), ahura mazda and ahriman (Zoroastrianism) etc. Hinduism as we know has a plethora of gods and goddesses. Interestingly some of Indic godly forces are not benign. The goddess Kali for instance, many Planet Gods, and even lord Shiva (Rudra/Tantav) – are not only negative but outright destructive. But still these Godly forces are worshipped or to put it straight appeased. Or can it be said that – the destructive and benign forces are worshipped in this religion in the same form?

In this perspective - It could be suggested that there is a duality in this cosmos. Forces of nature are both positive and negative; they are impartial and will work according to their nature (akin to the law of physics).  It may be suggested that these forces of nature are equally powerful or there is some kind of power arrangement…. It’s like – not completely positive or negative …. A volcanic activity is negative for the immediate alive animals – however, it leads to the creation of a fertile lush land, Inundation of a river might be terrible – but it is necessary for the fertility of the earth etc… Therefore what appears to be negative in first instance is not necessarily so and vice versa…It might be concluded – there is a duality in the very nature of god…

Conclusion: The forces of nature are in constant tussle…. The forces are like laws of physics – does not take any side…. If you decide to jump from the tenth floor of a building – it does not matter if you are Mother Teresa or Hitler – You are gonna die – that’s the rule…  Therefore it may be concluded that there is no super duper higher goodly or a super duper badly devil…. The forces are in balance – like yin and yang…  Whenever or wherever there is imbalance- there exist troubles….

Well now let us look at another issue – what does religions and cults talk about influencing God (forces of nature)? What are the reasons of worship?

Akin to the concept of duality of forces – apparently the established religions almost say the same thing. The basic difference however is that they hold that the Gods are going to be victorious or God is supreme. In the new age cults of paganism and wicca the concept is about energies or forces of nature… However, in the pagan belief system including Hinduism – such forces of nature can be controlled for one’s own purpose… Example, the pagan spells – it is advised that one should not use the spells for any negative purpose, however, the spells work like laws of gravity (does not make any differentiation). The tantric cult of Hinduism also talks about using the energies for one’s own gain - again it is suggested not to use the power irresponsibly. In other established religions the same behavior is displayed by being a little submissive. Example – Praying to God, Fasting, Sacrificing etc to the higher force – in order to achieve end results… Therefore it may be noted that all religions or cults say that the forces of nature can be somehow manipulated? They say – if you appease the forces by sacrifice or prayer – they will support you… Or if you do a certain ritual it will make the forces of nature act in certain ways. Now that is like believing in magic…. A rational mind will look for scientific evidence though --- what we have is hearsay and nothing substantial to that account….

Furthermore, there is one more aspect of spirituality or religion that must be considered. It would be foolish to assume that every believer tries to appease the forces for material gain. Most certainly not – many of us simply want to be enlightened. That’s again a goal – an objective though. From that perspective Buddhism seems to be an interesting philosophy. It is more focused in knowing one’s own self. (The present forms of Buddhism that are prevalent are obviously a far cry from what Siddhartha Gautama ought to have wanted though. To start with the Buddha never wanted to get associated with idol worship, nor did he ever talk about gods flying around in heaven.  The moment Buddhism started to become an established religion it absorbed many rituals and attributes of the local customs and Hindu belief system. On a different note I do very much admire Tibetan Buddhist Temples, Iconography, Music, Prayer Ceremonies etc but that is completely from a cultural perspective)