Sri Lanka, day 2 — Galle

I had heard a lot about Galle, the beautiful, colonial fortress town on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, and today was rightfully all about Galle. As I said yesterday, a perk about visiting Sri Lanka is that every nook and cranny of the country is no more than a few hours away from every other nook and cranny. Galle, it is said, was where King Solomon sent his ships. The solid Portuguese-Dutch fortress encircling the old town is also supposedly the reason why Galle fort (as it is called colloquially) still stands untouched today in spite of the calamity that was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami while much of the main town of Galle outside the walls of the fortress was sadly wiped out: “Thousands died,” explained our driver, looking out into the sea just one last time as we prepared to leave Galle late in the evening and head out to the Colombo–Galle expressway, one of the many testaments to the government’s excellent work to rebuild parts of the island nation severely affected by the catastrophe. Continue reading

Sri Lanka, day 1

The initial flight to Colombo, LK, was delayed by about five minutes. This, believe it or not, is the first time I have experienced a delayed flight; given how often and how many people complain about it, it might come as a surprise to you that I have, till date, never seen a flight come in late. Quite the contrary: flights have come in early, and I remember a flight last year even landed with ten minutes to spare. In any case, it was raining heavily and little was visible outside and we had soon reached our cruising altitude that our captain explained was 35,000 feet and a ground speed of 820 km per hour. Continue reading

Manthralayam

I had been to Manthralayam purely by mistake a few months back. Manthralayam — or Manthralaya — is a Hindu pilgrimage site in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. I did not visit the temple there, of course, bust instead spent close to an hour outside, photographing the devotees.

How I came to visit this place is not worth discussion: I was traveling to another city and decided to visit this because it was on the way and we had surplus time on hand. What piqued my interest in visiting Manthralaya was not its burial of the Madhwa saint, Raghavendra Swami (hence the pilgrimage), but the fact that, in 2009, the Tungabhadra river, which flows through the town, had submerged it in heavy floods. Continue reading

O’er vales and hills

Between my undergraduate college and postgraduate school now, I spent four months looking for a reason not to pursue physics. I found none. Physics has a logic to it, and an emotion few are lucky to see; once you are acquainted with it, it is hard to find anything else more satisfying than looking around you and being able to trace why something is the way it is, all the way back to around 13 billion years ago.

As I pen this, I sit with a cup of coffee, over two-thousand metres high on the edge of a balcony in a stoneclad house overlooking a deep valley embraced by several lush, green tropical mountains. Continue reading

Wishlist: Seven places I intend to visit

I have often come across lists of ‘Ten places to see before you die!’ (Not to mention the elephantine NYTimes bestseller, 1000 places to see before you die.) The pessimism in these titles hardly appeals to me, I have, since long ago, decided that the number ten is some sort of sleight-of-the-mind rounding-off habit that most humans had acquired, which trained their minds to look at a list of ten things as complete (for reasons beyond me.)

I decided to go in for a more practical approach and settle for as many as I actually mean to put on this list rather than want to. Continue reading