A working theory of Karma

Karma is one of two aspects of Buddhism that I have not been able to reconcile with my thinking, the other being a related phenomenon – reincarnation/rebirth. My understanding was only based on the limited reading I had done on the subject, this was something I hoped to correct in the medium term. But recently, a post on awareness by Umair Haque put Karma in a nuanced new light.

More searching (google, not within ūüėČ ) took me to Two Meanings of Karma. The author distinguishes between universal and psychological karma. The former is the cosmos driven moral justice model, probably influenced by the Hinduism version of karma, which I was finding difficult to reconcile. The latter is in line with the one Umair Haque has written about. Our innate sense of morality.¬† More

Dhaba by Claridges

We had spotted the place during our visit to Sly Granny, and liked the look of it, so at the very next opportunity – which happened to be our anniversary – we decided to drop in. (map) It was also the first day of my new job, so it turned out to be a double celebration. At 7 PM on a Monday we had the place all to ourselves, at least for a while. In fact, I think we disturbed their prep meeting! We really liked what they have done with the decor – it’s bright and has classic Dhaba signs and messages, some of the seating is inspired by classic vehicle interiors, the music is absolute Bollywood, and even the loo continues the Dhaba messaging. The thing though, is that it is all done classily – Dhaba fine dining all the way.

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Dubrovnik

Continued from Split + Hvar

Our bus to Dubrovnik was at 9.15, so breakfast¬†went exactly like the previous day. The hotel folks dropped us off at the bus station in their little electric car. As we boarded the bus, we heard an elderly man complain about having to pay 7 kunas for storing the luggage in the compartment. His co-traveler, presumably his wife, replied, “Ha! Wait till you reach Dubrovnik”. It is true though, the prices kept increasing as we moved south. Not a coincidence that the places became more touristy too.

The internet had advised me to sit on the right side of the bus. The view was fantastic, especially the Makarska stretch, but the mountains on the left were fantastic too! However, the journey took almost 6 hours instead of the 4 that it was supposed to. The attitude of the driver and conductor indicated that this was always the case. The bus stopped for their lunch and we had a pastry to stop the grumbling – ours and the stomachs.

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Split & Hvar

Continued from Zadar

The Boutique Hostel Forum folks had arranged for a cab to drop us at the bus station. Now is a good time to note that toilets in bus stations are pay and use, carry change – usually 3 kunas.¬†The trip to Split took us close to 3.5 hours. The only irritation was that since the luggage compartment was full, the bags had to be kept inside the bus. Thankfully, there were enough vacant seats so it didn’t bother us much. The tourism quotient at Split was markedly higher. Our stay was at¬†Diocletian Palace Experience, and they had said they could pick us up from the bus station if we called them once we had reached. Unfortunately, the only pay phone we could find wasn’t working, but the hotel was only a 10 minute walk away, so we decided to do just that. We were a couple of hours early for a check in (3 PM) but they obliged. Another place without an elevator, but we were on the first floor. In the room, we saw brochures with tours of all kinds, including food and wine tours. We wondered whether we should have planned the next day in a different way.

Our lunch plan was at Bajamonti, a short walk away. Must say that Google Maps is a boon! Rose wine, risotto and veal with a view of the promenade. Life was good. :)

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Zadar

Continued from Zagreb & Plitvice Lakes

We reached Zadar in just over a couple of hours. Our stay in Zadar was to be at the Boutique Hostel Forum, and they had told us not to pay more than 6 euros from the bus station to the city gates. We ended up paying slightly more, and despite some reasonably good directions, lost our way a bit before a ‘duh’ moment of realisation that Google Maps could help even when offline. The hostel is right next to the forum, and its only drawback is that there is no elevator. But even given that we were on the third floor, that was only a one time problem at check in. This, I must say, was a completely cool outfit – superb branding – especially the booklet that comes with the key, the most optimal use of space I have seen, and very helpful staff. Most importantly, we got the view we had requested – sea facing. The beds were on a raised platform, and you could have a fantastic view lying down!

We rested a bit before walking to the Sea Organ to catch the sunset that Alfred Hitchcock described as the most beautiful one in the world. The Sea Organ itself is quite a contraption – it exists below the steps you can sit on to watch the sunset, and plays ‘keys’ according to the rise and fall of waves. Surreal experience. The sun played a bit of hide and seek before quickly appearing in full glory just before its set. Have I seen better? Probably – Boracay and Oia immediately come to mind, but the overall experience thanks to the unique Sea Organ is something you shouldn’t miss. Right next to it, there’s also something called Greetings to the Sun, but that required more darkness to fall, and we were too hungry to wait!

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Zagreb & Plitvice Lakes

Continued from Prague

When we landed at the¬†Franjo TuńĎman Airport in Zagreb, it turned out that our driver, arranged for a price by the hotel, was equally worried. Apparently, the last time he had waited for the last flight and it had been delayed, the passengers he was scheduled to pick up weren’t on the flight! In half an hour, we were dropped off a few steps from Hotel Dubrovnik, which was practically on the¬†Ban Jelańćińá Square, the central square of Zagreb. And what a pretty one it was, visible from our hotel window.¬†A good time to note that the hotel staff was¬†really helpful.

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Praha

Prague was an afterthought. After we had decided on Croatia as this year’s ‘big’ vacation, and realised the intricacies of non-Schengen visas, we needed a nearby place in Europe to land, and the proximity along with the huge number of microbreweries made it the favourite. After starting at an insanely early time (3 AM), sleeping through the uncomfortable Lufthansa flight and sleepwalking through Frankfurt’s cold airport (and staff, except two – one who pointed us to a faster way to go through immigration and the other, who gave us a spot in the line) we landed at the Vaclav Havel airport. We’d arranged a shared pick up by Prague Airport Transfers, and were met by an extremely jovial guy who kept up a steady flow of information – facts and opinion -throughout the trip as he dropped off two sets of passengers before us. Every alternate sentence was closed with a “like this”. We were dropped last and that meant an hour for the trip.

Our stay was at Iron Gate, very close to the Old Town Square. In its dim lit but stylish lobby with medieval style decor elements, we exchanged euros to korunas. (we had read that the airport rates were not so great and the hotel rates were close to what our driver had said was a good rate for the day) We also learned that the check out was 12 PM, which meant we would have about 6 hours to kill the next day before we left Prague – 2 of them was nap time! Our room was compact and neat, and after a quick refresh, we stepped out for lunch.

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Land of the Seven Rivers

Sanjeev Sanyal

Geography through the lens of history, the other way, or both! Whichever way one interprets it, the perspective it offers simply by traversing the length of time from “Gondwana to Gurgaon” is quite amazing.

In trying to unravel the broad contours as well as nuances of an ancient civilisation that continues to thrive, the author covers varying domains – beginning with genetics and tectonics and continuing on to trade, politics, cartography and so on. As the title suggests, the specific area around the seven rivers gets most of the focus. One reason is probably that, the events and transformation that this region has witnessed is relatively much higher than the rest of the country. But in many contexts, the author has given hat tips to other relevant regions/kingdoms. e.g. Vijayanagara, Chola, Muziris. He has also covered population influx and exodus at different points in history, and the influences of both, in India as well as in other geographies.

In terms of history, while it might be arguably selective, the author does cover the Harappa civilisation, the movement of civilisation from the Indus to the Gangetic plains, the Mauryas, Guptas, the dynasties preceding the Mughals, different emperors of the Mughal empire, the British and even the politics and policies of contemporary India that continues to create new contours. It is fascinating to see the change in GDP (global share) and population growth through history, and understand the reasons behind them. More

Sly Granny

With a 4.0 rating at Zomato, and the “oohs and ahhs” I heard from folks, Indian culture demanded that we visit the elderly lady in Indiranagar and pay our respects. That’s how, helped by the relatively peaceful Bangalore roads on the Easter long weekend, we ended up at Sly Granny on the more peaceful side of 12th Main. (map) Either Granny was in a cantankerous mood or snootiness runs in¬†the locality (Bombay Brasserie also turned up its nose recently), I couldn’t reserve a table. Our way around is to arrive early enough, so at 7 PM we walked up to the 3rd floor, eyeing Claridges’ Dhaba (2nd Floor) on the way.

Granny lives on two floors – the lower one is divided into a Lobby Bar (where you can wait if you can’t find seats) and a Dining Room, while the upper area is the Living Room and Terrace. The Dining Room is where she’ll likely entertain people of her age (and ours) since despite the risque art, the seating is more conservative and ‘proper’. The terrace and the stairs leading up to it are much more livelier and prettier, I’d say. The seating as well as the alfresco setting gives it a more relaxed feel. Sitting there though, was unfortunately not an option for us since there was some private party starting¬†there soon. In fact, one suited gentleman rewarded¬†us with a delightfully funny scowl¬†for disturbing the peace (uncharacteristically, since the staff is otherwise polite and friendly) as we took a little tour before we went down and meekly took our corner table.

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Mumbai Fables

Gyan Prakash

I have a bit of a strange relationship with Bombay. On the one hand, I am not really fond of the pace of life there, or the sense of collective superiority its citizens (sometimes) seem to exude. On the other hand, I am fascinated by the very idea of the city, and its uniqueness. That is the reason why a lot of Bombay-based books exist on my bookshelf. On hindsight, it does seem strange that Mumbai Fables took this long to find its way there.
This idea of Bombay and the possibilities and promise is what led people from many parts of the country to make the city their home. This, I think, is what fascinates the author too, and this book attempts to understand what makes the city special. It is a historic journey of the city across various domains – geography, art and literature, culture, politics, journalism and business. The narrative is largely linear, with some overlap to cover ground when a new aspect is brought to the discussion.