Monday, August 20, 2007

Tour to Nap Valley; Wine capitol of USA

Pictures at: http://picasaweb.google.com/TusharPhotos/Ca_Napa

I was immediately enthralled by the area’s natural beauty, and vibrant tradition of winemaking. The valley has grown from an obscure, secluded hollow in the California landscape to an internationally recognized food and wine destination. The combination of Mediterranean climate, geography and geology of the valley are conducive to growing quality wine grapes. I also learned the tid-bits of wine making and tasting , Napa Valley grows many varieties of wine, We tested Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir, Muscat and Reisling type of wines at Mondavi, V. Sutti and Hess wineries.

In 1975( when I came to USA), Napa Valley had no more twenty wineries. Today there are more than 250 Wineries. In Sonoma country the web of vineyards has grown well over 150 vineyards. The new are opening one. We discovered recent opening Castello di Amorosa Today, Napa Valley is home to almost 400 wineries. Its growers and vintners combine cutting-edge science with traditional techniques, and its reputation for producing world-class wines is firmly established in an ever-growing global market.

We visited following wineries : 1)

http://www.mondavi.com/home.asp ( took detailed tour, wine tasting lesion, purchased Muscat, Flume blank)

2) http://www.vsattui.com/ ( wine tasting, Purchased Dry Johannisberg Riesling )

3) http://www.hesscollection.com/ The Hess Collection Winery and Vineyards

4) www.copia.org/

Some of wines we tasted aree: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir , Reesling.

The World of Wine making is fascinating and so is the growth and economy of the Napa Valley. The engraving on stone at the Copia quotes R Mondovi “Wines , like poetry, songs are carriers of culture and the celebration of life”

The complete essay is available at http://www.napavintners.com

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Elephant Seal at California




Hunted nearly to extinction for their oil-rich blubber, elephant seals have made a remarkable comeback.




Elephant seals form harems, in which the dominant, or alpha, male is surrounded by a group of females. On the periphery of the harem, the beta bulls wait in hopes of an opportunity to mate. They assist the alpha bull in keeping away the less dominant males. Fights between males can be bloody affairs in which the combatants rear up and slam their bodies against each other, slashing with their large canine teeth. Male and female have very differentdietary habits. Soon will post more pictures at my web.

Read more at www.elephantseal.org .

Velkommen! to Solvang



Welcome to the charming Danish village of Solvang; where sunny fields meet old-world craftsmanship and hospitality. Stroll the quaint flower-lined streets among windmills, thatched roofs and authentic bakeries. Made a quick stop on the way to Hearst castle.

Click the following link for more pictures. http://picasaweb.google.com/TusharPhotos/CA_HearstCastle

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Missionhas beautiful setting, unique twin bell towers, and lovely fa├žade have earned it the title "Queen of Missions." It is one of the most frequently photographed structure of California. Santa Barbara is also home town of Laura Shah. See http://sbmission.org

San Simeon, Hearst Castle, Califirnia



San Simeon (Hearst Castle) is on the Central Coast, in the Santa Lucia Mountains
Estate of publisher William Randolph Hearst. Encompasses the main house, known as "Casa Grande," as well as three guest houses and 127 acres of gardens

The castle is filled with statues and other items Hearst purchased in Europe and reassembled in California. The collection includes choir stalls from an Italian convent, Gothic tapestries, a mosaic from Pompeii and many artifacts from Italy.

Theater, visitor center, guided tours, concessions and rotating exhibits

There are 41 fireplaces and 61 bathrooms on the grounds

Monday, March 12, 2007

Guru, Hindi Film

In summary it is a mediocre and predictable movies. I enjoyed it due to my personal interest in learning about Dhirubhai Ambani.

The title is Guru which sounds so close to Dhiru. Dhirubhai Ambani's story has been portrayed in this film by in a loose manner. Mani Ratnam has done a so so job in this film. He should have shown a more detailed look at Dhirubhai rather than asking Gulzaar to write some dull songs and A.R.Rehman to re-use his old tracks and music from past films. The songs are extremely boring and unnecessary.

The story tries to remain fairly close to Dhirubhai but I have no doubt about many detours, Dhirbhai attacked License Raj with a vengeance and defeated Goenka's Indian Express newspaper and journalist Arun Shourie's non stop hounding to take Vimal Textiles or the corporate fight with Wadia of Bombay dying are mostly correct. Many characters and stories are very real but with slight modifications as Mani Ratnam might have been scared of doing an all out film about Dhirubhai and being sued by the Ambani family. Suspension of the DMT licesne by VP singh is also a public story.

I have personally toured the Vimal factory ( Shakti in film) at Naroda ( near Ahmedbad) through Kaka in '74. It was indeed very impressive. Dhirubhi bought IPCL so Vipinbhai Jikar may be knowing more of the truth vs fiction.

Aishwarya - she is pretty but She does not look Gujrati from any angle though few sentences in Gujarti are free from the non-gujarti accent. No place in Gujarat has the waterfall where she is dancing. She has no real role or rather underperforms. Abhishek does a good job and at times looks just like Amitabh in his mannerisms and dialogue delivery. In real life Kokilabahen may not be pretty but she proved to be wiser by successfully mediating and settling the family fued between two brodhers.

Anyway, DVD is a better way to see the movie, fast forward the songs and then watch. I will drop the DVD.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Love sonnet of Shakespeare from Film EKlavya

I recently saw a very interesting semi-classic Hindi Film, named Eklavya. The movies starts with Shakespeare Sonnet (and ends with though provoking Sankrit Sholka) . In the film the king recites the love poem for his dying queen. I have heard about the sonnet and it seems a popular in literate class of India. I wonder why ?
I found the Sonnet in the book of classic poems I have. Here is the original sonnet, sonnet paraphrased in current English, Followed by my commentary. Can someone translate this in to Gujarati or Hindi ?

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft' is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
 
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
 
 

Paraphrase:

Should I compare thee to a summer day?
You are prettier and more amenable:
In summer high winds shake buds from trees of May,
And summer is really far too short:
the sun sometimes is way too hot,
And often the suns face is covered with clouds:
making what should be a pleasant day unpleasant
by natural course nature is unpredictable and will end,
But your life shall never fade
Nor will your beauty ever be lost:
And death shall never reach you and take you into darkness
Because with these lines that I write:
As long as there are men alive to read my poems,
Forever you will have life in my words.

 
Commentary and Interpretation:

In this sonnet, Shakespeare asks if he
should compare his lady or his love (or perhaps just some person he admires) to
a summer day, but decides not a good idea to since, as he notes, that his
subject is far more lovely and predictable. He says it would not be a good
comparison, because summer is hot, unpredictable and sometimes unkind. He then
tell his subject that as long has there are men who can read his poems, his
subject will be forever alive.

1) Is he egoist by saying to his lover that as long as my poems are read you will be remembered !

2) Is the lover a female or .. a male ? Shakespeare does not specify that ! I do not know anything about Shakespeare's orientation.

3) I was born in the Western India where temperature in summers shoot up to anything between 45 ~ 49 degree C, Summers day mean an unofficial curfew violating which may mean untimely death by heatstroke. So my first reflex was why does Shakespeare compare his lover with Summer ? So the translator or transliterator you may replace the Summer ( Grishma ) to the Spring ( Vasant).



Translation in Gujarati/Hindi




Eklavya - The Royal Guard;Hindi Film


I thoroughly enjoyed movie “Eklavya -the Royal guard” for a wide variety of reasons. In last six years I have resumed watching good Hindi films and regained my lost love . This has been even more true in last six months. I feel that “good-Hindi film” is no more an oxymoron. I would accept that I still have to make efforts to bypass few annoyances and work on my tolerance to enjoy the Indian films. Sometimes it is challenging ! Fortunately I did have to face any of these challenges in viewing this film. I found this film to be brilliant. It is worth watching. I am not sure if the Indian-origined second generation growing in US/West would enjoy as much as I could ! I believe, they too may find it at least entertaining. I felt gratified that I had extra background to appreciate and enjoy many fine poins and details of this film. There are many reasons why I liked the film so much. Story is different, some what classic and certainly very interesting one for me. Here are the ‘top ten’ reasons why I liked Eklavya more than others :


  1. I had been a “sucker” (sucker is a slang in American Lingo to describe one who is indiscriminately attracted to something ) in childhood of the great epic of MahABhAraT, the characters in the epic, specially the one that symbolizes eternal coexistense of the good and the evil, the intrinsic nature of unfairness and discrimination in the society and their dealing with it. The character of KarNa, Eklavya certainly occupy a glorious position in the galaxy of the personages of MahABhAraT.

  2. I enjoy modern metaphor of MahABhAraT specially with modern twists and specially modern interpretation. There was a similar film in ‘81 Kalyug ( a brilliant adaption and metaphor of MahABharat where Shashi Kapoor played role of KarNa ).

  3. I specially enjoy the movies about the changing times with the clash of two contemporary trends with their inherent conflicts and clash. When individuals fro two different ways of living meet and their worlds collide. "Dancing wih the wolves” and its Candian version “Blackrobe” were most classic films in this category. The backdrop of the royal family who had a major adjustment to deal with the loss of their great power in light of democracy with post colonial modern India. This case modernity and classicism, current-day India and its feudal past, land reforms and rebels against the establishment, contemporary corruption and blood traditions, compassion but the cast rooted contempt’s co-existing, history based docudrama .. These are all good ingradients for the recipe of an interesting movie for me.

  4. I have also been fan of history and folktales of Rajasthan. The land of wars, fight against Muslim and Mogul invaders, stories of Zahuar, Kesaria and Sati, Sacrifice of Panna, Loyalty of Chetek, 23 royal kingdoms, colorful culture, dessert and Camel Safaris, the royal aristocracy all are in the backdrop of the movie glorifying the bygone era..

  5. I love to see the beautiful places on planet in the film, specially the places I have been. I was at Devigath palce (near Udaipur) in Jan 2007, the Jaipur places recently as well. Devigath palace looks even prettier in the film. (Though, Nayar loves Decigram palace, where the couple had thrown many pre-wedding parties, this time he opted for the Umaidbhavan Palace as it was not possible to accommodate more than 100 guests there). Same way, I enjoyed Rio again in Doom 2 and looking forward for Nishabad shot in Mannar, Kerala visited in Feb. 2006.


  6. Movie has some hallmarks of a Shakespearian tragedy. The movie stats with the famous Shakespearian Sonnet. Why this Sonnet is so popular in India ( an item for another bog) ?

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:”

7. All stars have done their role very well. I was already the fan of the stars of the crew from film Parineeta (and also Lage raho Munnabhai ).

8. Amitabh Bachman is a great actor and he thrives on this kind of role. From the early days of Zanzeer from the the roles of angry young man he has cemented his image. This is probably his best. He captures the conflicting spirit of a man burdened by old age but unfalteringly devoted to his cause

9. Heard that movies is made of only two hours, only one song and no dance ? Can you believe that ? That is pretty rare for Bollywood.

10. Very good photography and direction. The movie was very symbolic and that was the nicest thing about it. little things like dark clouds appearing above the fort, showing bad times are coming.

The symbolic part, specially about Dharma is most thought-provoking and fascinating part of the movie. Dharma associates with one’s duties rather than religion. Eklavya has bound by his Dharma, his duty to protect the King, no matter what ! That has been his mission life long. His ancestors has been doing that since several generations, . However his deep is belief and devotion, they both are s challenged.

Movie articulately uses the definition of Dharma mentioned at the beginning to connect this "archaic premise" to modern school of thought. As an audience I got this revelation in the last few scenes of the movie. Had it stayed on course with this ancient doctrine. The movie tries to debunk the belief that Dharma is all about following the path of righteousness as defined by tradition; rather, The movie endorses the view from the ancient scriptures that righteousness is not an absolute concept but has to be rooted in reason - Dharma Mitabhya Utghrita. I have been trying to find the annotation about it . Could not locate at the online sources.

The film suggested dharma is no longer about following the path of righteousness as defined by tradition if it results in awful acts. The concusion was that dharma should be rooted in reason - Dharma Mitabhya Utghrita

What is the ‘dharma’ of a person? Is it to follow the laws of society? Is it to follow the guidelines given in our religious or school text books? Is it to follow the path shown by our elders/ancestors? OR, it is to follow our own intellect and conscience? There is no single answer of this question. Different people may (and off course) go different ways in the same circumstances. Eklavya in the movie , contrary to the Eklavya in MahAbhAraT chooses the last option which tells to follow our own conscience.

This is a wise and revealing direction but also a dangeorous one as it makes one vulnerable to interpret religion and duties per his/her convenience !


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Travel logs

Alaska
Brazil
Carrebean
Hawaii
Kerala,India
Peru
Rajasthan, India