Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. Also sometimes depicted are Dakinis, Protectors and very often the 8 auspicious symbols Ashtamangala. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on the lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have much the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers. – Wikipedia.com
Every time I visit a monastery, I am struck by a few things: the cleanliness and aura of peacefulness; the gorgeous, brightly colored tangka paintings and murals adorning the walls; the larger-than-life statutes of the various avatars of Buddha, and the prayer wheel outside most monasteries.
Every time I walk around a monastery, running my hand along the prayer wheels, I feel a sense of peace and calm descend over me. Once, I even managed to work through a particular problem that had been plaguing me since a while. Monasteries, along with churches, often have this effect on me.
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The great fun of driving down to a hill station, for me, is those long, winding roads, when you look down and see a river winking back at you from far below. The clear water, rocky outcrops, dancing waves at intervals…it’s a sight to refresh you no matter how tired you are!
What refreshes you on a long drive?
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Imagine walking down a hilly road, admiring the trees and the plants, watching the road snake ahead of you.
Imagine coming around a bed as the sun is starting its descent.
Imagine seeing this little cottage in the middle of a small clearing abutting a church, surrounded by greenery, the area around it carpeted with flowers, the sun filtering through the trees.
Imagine sitting on the parapet that runs above the area, with the wind whistling through your hair, wondering what purpose the cottage serves.
Does it belong the fairies? Do they come there to play?
Does it belong to the gnomes? Have they hidden their gold in there?
Or does it belong to the church? Have they used it as the store house for broken pews and forgotten ephemera?
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Located on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets, The New York Public Library with its two stone lions guarding the entrance is an iconic building. I’d seen pictures of the library, and being book obsessed, I knew that it would make it to my list of places to visit in New York City.
I knew that the library was the second largest public library in the US and third largest in the world, and Wikipedia told me it had nearly 53 million items and two research branches in NYC. But nothing prepared me for the sheer size and beauty of the interiors.
This postcard, people, features the foyer of the library. The entrance. With a million rabbit holes into which a book obsessed person can disappear. Like the library’s famous Rose Main Reading Room, a majestic 78 foot wide by 297 foot long room, with a ceiling that is 52 feet high! Its walls are lined with thousands of reference books on open shelves. The room is lit by massive windows and grand chandeliers, furnished with sturdy wood tables, comfortable chairs and brass lamps. It is also equipped with computers and docking facilities for laptops. And that’s just one of the rooms in the library.
Contrast that with India, where we hardly have any public libraries. The ones we do have are dusty old buildings that no one would really go into. In Gurgaon, for example, there’s only one library I know of – it’s a private library run from a shop in Supermart 1. Shame!
But…I am so, so thankful for my school library and my wonderful librarian who encouraged me to read to my heart’s content, even allowing me to borrow more books than was allowed in a week. I owe my love for reading, in part, to her.
Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. – Broadcaster Walter Cronkite
So, which is your favorite library?
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There’s something in the air of New York. A certain joi de verve – a love for life. In the many parks and squares that dot the city, you’ll find people sitting around, reading, having a cup of coffee…a group of people skateboarding while the rest of the people watch and applaud…and in Central Park, you come across different sights – a fashion shoot, free tango dancing, rollerblading, musicians, a group of drummers with random strangers stopping and dancing. It’s exhilarating. Vibrant. Alive. Joyful.
And it’s something I sorely miss back home in India. That spirit that lets people dare to be different. To march to their own drum beat.
Which city do you associate with joie de vivre?