Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Why do people shoot the Sun

Why do we shoot pictures of a sunrise or sunset? Because:
"It is so beautiful."
"It is so colourful."
"Want to record this moment."
"To show to others."
And so on.

The fact is that sunsets and sunrises are perhaps the most shot pictures in the world. Across the globe, on the hills, plains, forests, mountains, sea or even behind buildings or monuments, people keep shooting the Sun! The Sun doesn't seem to mind it, except when it hides behind the clouds. With the advent of digital photography and phone cameras, age is no bar for taking pictures.
This story proves the point. See a nine year old in action too!

Taken over three days at Suryalanka beach, these pictures show the excitement of shooting the Sun. 
This is 4.45 AM and Nikhil was up along with his parents thanks to the jet lag!

How can a 17 month old toddler be left behind?

Hope you enjoyed the transition from pictures of moon rise (click here to browse the pictures if you missed it)  to sun rise.
Do share your pictures or anecdotes.

Thanks for browsing

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 29th June 2016

Friday, 24 June 2016

Moon's Magic at Sea

The Moon and the sea have a special relationship. Mariners like me have spent countless nights at sea-- adoring the moon and its reflection. It gave time for introspection.

Last week we were on a family holiday at Suryalanka beach, Andhra Pradesh India. It was a full moon and as it rose from the sea late evening, it cast a magic spell. The glow of the moon, reflection on the wet beach, fading light, silvery surf-- all of it added to the magical impact. Many a poet have written about the moon. Ghumakkad will refrain from further writing. Let the pictures do the talking. 
 Beaches are meant for strolling apart from a swim. I was returning from a walk as it was getting dark.
And behind me the magic was unfolding-- full moon was rising from the eastern horizon. 
 As I came closer to the sit out area where Neeta had been relaxing, she took this shot. Don't miss the picture credit to her!
 And then both of us were busy admiring the scene and taking few pictures. Does it cast a spell on you also?

Despite full moon, the night got darker. You may have to strain your eyes to see the silhouette of the palms through which the moon was shot.

 It was time to return to our rooms for the night. Early next morning on a walk, I spotted the moon on the western horizon, yet to set. Gradually as the day dawned, the moon faded away and the Sun took over.

Being located on a east-west axis, Suryalanka offers a unique treat to witness a sun rise and a moon set on the same beach. The beach at Suryalanka which is exclusive and unpolluted, is also home to the Sand Bubbler Crabs (Click to browse our earlier story on the crabs). 

We also shot a 30-second video to give you a panoramic view of the beach and the excitement of watching a sun rise and moon set at the same time! The video also shows Ankur, Akanksha, Nikhil and Naman doing their own thing at the beach.

More on the beauty of a sun rise and crabs-at-work in next stories.

Postscript: Dr M Sitaram, a retired Colonel from Army Medical Corps, renowned cardiologist in Hyderabad and a shutter bug like Ghumakkad wrote:
Dear Ghumakkad, Thanx for the lovely pictures of the real "Honey Moon"!
By intention or accident you have caught the images of the famous 'Strawberry Moon', an important celestial event which occurred on 20 Jun 16 when the Summer Solstice (longest day of the year) coincided with the full moon. Astronomers the world over / nature lovers were waiting for the moon rise that evening at many places for the magnificent sight (while I watched it from terrace of my humble home) and you were correctly positioned with a camera at Suryalanka Beach to capture a rare event which I believe occurs only once in 68 years! 
Hearty Congrats! Please read all about it at #FullMoonSoistice on the net (twitter I think). Of Course you might be knowing all about it even when you planned your holiday!
Thanks for this revelation Dr Sitaram. We had planned to be at the beach on full moon but did not know that it was once-in-68-years opportunity! Wow!

Thanks for browsing.

       - Harsh-the-Ghumakkad with Neeta Bhargava/ 24th June 2016

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Father's Day Hike

Father's Day (celebrated on 3rd Sunday of June every year) flooded the media with pictures of Dad's around the world.
Rightly so.
We all owe so much to our parents. What gift can you give to your father on such a day? Think.

I got the greatest gift today. Guess what?
It was an hour's hike with my nine year old grandson Nikhil who is visiting us from USA. What more can a grandpa ask for?

It was a cloudy morning not the best of the days for photography. But today photography took a back seat. Nikhil and I started around 7 AM. Sun was hidden behind the clouds. Our destination was a small hill in Secunderabad Cantonment which has a dargah दरगाह on top. After I showed the hill from a distance and told Nikhil "We are going to climb that small hill today". He sized up the hill and said " Not that small!"

At the base of the hill, I asked Nikhil, "Shall we take the steps or go up the rock directly?" Without any hesitation, he answered "Directly". It showed his confidence-- at least for a while. After initial few steps up the steep slope, he asked  "Are you sure this is the right way?" And I had to hold his hand in confirmation.

Like all of us in life when faced with a challenge, a bit of encouragement and support is all that we need. This nine year old showed that he could do it. We pressed on.

Midway up the slope, we paused and caught our breath. The view was worth it. Nikhil quipped "This is nice"! And we kept going.

As we neared the hill top, the dargah came into view along with few hikers who had already reached there. A small hill but a big climb for a nine year old child. We also shot a short video.

After going around the hill top, we took some pictures on the eastern face of the hill. See the solid granite rock face in the picture below.

We then took a short cut down hill. It was slippery with lose stones.

It led us to a quarry where granite had been mined earlier. Perhaps, it may have been an illegal quarry. Nikhil enjoyed the granite blocks. A picture. More pictures later.

On the way down, we crossed an adventure training group. They were doing a one-legged race and drill. They had divided the path to the dargah into two halves. After one group finished the race-cum-run, Nikhil too did it. And with his springy legs and strides, he outran all the adults.

Nikhil negotiated his way into the well of the quarry which we had mentioned earlier.

He loved jumping from one granite block to the other!

Hikers need replenishment. Nikhil enjoyed his banana after he we returned to the car.

How can  a story be complete without a selfie? It shows grandpa-grandson duo with the green cover of Secunderabad in the background.
Hope you enjoyed the impromptu hike as much as I did. On Father's Day, I could not have asked for a more precious gift. Thank you Nikhil and thank you Ankur and Akanksha. Come again for another hike!

Thanks for browsing

   Harsh-Ghumakkad/ Father's Day 19th June 2016

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Friends and Facebook

A recent post by a facebook friend mentioned 'train' friends of yesteryears. It brought back memories of long train journeys with our family. Yes, New Delhi to Madras Central (now Chennai central) by Janta Express took two nights and three days! While in the train, we met other families and became 'friends'. Such 'train' friendships unlike today's facebook friends, lasted longer sometimes for years. We wrote letters and exchanged greetings. It was fun making friends that way and remain connected. We also used to have 'pen' pals. Ghumakkad had posted a story on one such train journey and ingenuity of a family in the same coach, to make the twin babies comfortable. Click to browse the picture story.

In today's fast paced world, friendships are made by click of a mouse or tap of a finger on a smartphone. Numbers seem to count more than common interests or taste. You click and click again, adding to your friends list. With how many of such 'click friends' have you actually clicked? Ever asked that question?

This led me to a quotation by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. He wrote on the relationship between seagulls and the waves. Here is a PQ-- picturesque quote with Tagore's quotation. The picture of seagulls was taken on the Saurashtra coast couple of years back. The seagulls looking at the waves symbolise the quotation written 100 years ago. It kind of summarises the friendships of today. Tap tap tap-- friend, friend friend!
By no means are we advocating you to quit social media. All we are saying that periodically take a look at your 'friend' list. With how many have you maintained a 'personal' touch or exchanged a message? Or is the friendship more like the seagulls and the waves? You only can answer.

Thanks for browsing

    Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 15th June 2016

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Plants and Leadership

Leadership is like a tree-- leader constitutes the roots which are firm but hidden; and leaves, flowers and fruits are rest of the team-- results and output visible to the world. Roots like a leader, provide nutrition or inspiration to the leaves or team members respectively. This comparison we have heard before.
But plants and trees teach us another aspect of leadership. This observation came recently when I was watering a flowering 'chandni plant on a hot summer day. This plant needed protection from the heat when it was small. Three years ago, I had used my golf umbrella to protect it from intense summer heat (read the full story by clicking here). See the picture below.

Today, this plant has grown fully and stands tall to face the summer heat by itself. 
Its white flowers are a delight. 
In addition, the plant gives enough shadow for other saplings like the Brahma Kamal ब्रह्म कमल  and ferns to survive in the heat (What is brahma kamal? Click to see this exotic flower which blooms at night). 
The 'Chandni' plant fully grown like a leader, now nurtures other plants. See the picture below.
Leadership like the above 'Chandni' plant, is nurturing future leaders . Of course leadership is all about inspiring people, setting example, leading from the front, taking risks, building teams and all of that! But the true essence of leadership is to groom leaders for tomorrow. Leader's absence or departure should not crumble an organisation. Instead, those groomed by the leader will take on the mantle and move forward.

Be like a tree. Nurture more trees, groom more leaders. Think less of yourself.

Thanks for browsing
    Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 9th May 2016

Sunday, 5 June 2016

World Environment Day 2016

Another edition of World Environment Day is here. Media will be full of reports showing some politician (or a celebrity) making a speech or planting a sapling. Nobody asks the politicians "How is last year's sapling doing?" And that is the key-- sustainability.

Earth is a beautiful place to live in. But the question is 'will the glory remain or sustain'? With rampant deforestation, destruction and encroachments of lakes, ponds and river banks, we may not have such glorious sunsets in future.

Remember the floods in Chennai in Nov 2015. Was it not man-made? Had the flood banks of the river not been encroached by builder-politician nexus, we wouldn't have lost so many lives and property. You may refresh your memory with our earlier picture stories-- just click the links below:
Chennai floods are man made
Shrinking of Kolleru Lake in Andhra Pradesh (see the maps therein)

This is not all. Such disasters are waiting to happen in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Varanasi, and many such locations. Landslides and devastation in Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas every year are a case in point.

Once the forests, lakes and ponds are lost, will we continue to see the birds and other fauna in their natural habitat? Answer it your self.

What can we do? What can I do?
Ghumakkad firmly believes that every person's effort counts in preservation of the environment. Be it keeping your surroundings clean and green, or vermi-composting your kitchen waste, or avoiding the use of plastics, or using solar energy at home (for cooking, heating the water or generating electricity or recharging cell phones etc)-- each one of us can make a difference! Therefore, let us not wait for somebody else to improve the environment, let us do it ourselves-- however small our effort be.

Happy Environment Day!

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 5th June 2016

Friday, 3 June 2016

Ansh enters the Teens

When your grandson enters his teens, you feel thrilled. Thrilled as if you yourself are entering the teens! Am sure grandparent readers will echo the feeling!

Here is a small poem written for our grandson Ansh (son of Prabjoth and Ankush Bhargava at Chennai).

Ansh enters the Teens

“Oh boy Grandson ahoy”
We all shouted with joy

When Ansh arrived this day twelve years ago
And made us feel ‘mast’ मस्त in Hyderabadi lingo

Today he is a tall and intelligent boy
Outgoing though a bit shy and coy

His detailed knowledge of super-cars will floor you
Not only the make and model but tech-specs too

He loves playing the keyboard
As much as cycling on the road

Very fond of homemade Cup Cakes
And whatever else Amma bakes

Offer him Besan laddoos and you get a ready smile
But if it’s vegetables, he will run away as far as a mile

Bathing at the beach is fun
But daily bath he may shun

Ansh excels in studies and games too
And every year wins a prize or two

He may fight but cares for Anuva like a big brother
And waits for the good night hug from her no matter

Even though twelve, he still likes to play with Dadu-- “Whose baby?”
And Dadu tickles him till Ansh switches from Dadi’s to Dadu’s baby!

As our Ansh enters his exciting teens
We wish his life to be full of beans

Like going on an adventure camp or a hike
Or a tiger safari or a long ride on a bike

We all wish him a very happy birthday

May God be with him today and every day!

With love and blessings
  • Elfo, Badi Amma, Dadi and Dadu@Secunderabad
  • Bade Babaji, Chote Dadu-Dadi@Jaipur
  • Naman, Nikhil, Bhui, Puphaji@USA
  • Kruger, Anuva, Amma and Appa@Chennai
  • Nanu, mausis and families@Mumbai, Pune and USA
Secunderabad/ 4th June 2016

Thanks for browsing.

   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad with Neeta Bhargava