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Ammi's Pandaan


I have many pleasant memories of this pandaan from my childhood.
Papa used to eat pan and this pandaan was a functional part of our house.
However it had a different look then. It had a silver qalai(coat) on all the pieces of this beauty, as it sat on the outermost edge of the kitchen slab. Fresh crispy pans that Ammi bought regularly from her trips to Jama Masjid area, wrapped in wet cloth were placed on the top tray. A sarauta (beetlenut cutter), missing here also shared the space on the tray along with pans.
The containers under the tray all had their specific contents:
The two mini handias with the flat spoons were for Choona (white) and katha (brown) pastes. The tiny spoons were applicators for their contents on the pan. I even remember how Ammi bought dry solid katha and then cooked it with water to melt it, which finally was transferred in the little handiya.
The two big canisters housed- chhaliya(betelnut)- one as full rounded nuts and the other cut into small pieces by the sarauta. The third canister contained saunf(anise). The thin canister in the middle contained tobacco leaves.
Each time papa wanted a pan, either ammi or sometimes Papa himself followed the process of ‘making a pan’ applying the contents in the following order- choona, katha, chaliya and tambaku- and finally the whole pan was folded into a conical form called gilori.
Interestingly the only person who ate pan was papa. Ammi made them several times in a day, but I never saw her eating herself. We kids also never seemed interested in trying one.
When I was in high school, papa decided to give up tobacco. He just left it cold turkey. Pandaan still remained functional. But some years down the road he realized pan was unhealthy and he must cut down if not stop it altogether. So the pandaan was wrapped up and he chose to get a single pan in a day from the panwala.
This pandaan from 1930s that came to our household in Ammi’s jahez(dowry) in 1964 was carefully packed in a plastic bag and kept on the topmost shelf in the kitchen.
With tarnished and dull look, the pandaan rested on the shelf for about 25 years. Out of sight is out of mind and we all forgot about its existence.
About 15 years, as my siblings renovated the kitchen, this pandaan again came down on the kitchen slab. I happened to visit them during that period, and the sight of an ugly big ‘thing’ brought back the memories of its heydays.
Seeing my interest in it, I was chosen to be the next owner of this treasure by my siblings and Ammi saying, “You treasure such things.”

I brought it with me and it became a part of our desi decor in Makkah. As we moved from there it was dumped in a carton for almost a decade. Periodically I looked around for a trusted person who would repair it, refurbish it and can bring out it’s original copper instead of the silver enamel.

Today, on the last day of 2019, the person who agreed to follow my instructions, and did this job chose to come himself with the finished form and proudly present it to us, tell us how precious this piece is, and most importantly to inform us how much personal efforts he has put in to bring this pandaan to a new life.
The sight of this sparkling gem not just made my day, but also made me feel accomplished in life. 😀
I hope the next decade also brings such wonderful outcomes and happiness for us and for you all.
Happy 2020 folks !

India is Secular- Kisi ke Baap ka Hindostan Thori Hai


Born, raised and educated in India, I learned how live secular values and co-exist with people of all faiths, race and cultures not just in India, but abroad. My political scientist parents told us that as we will grow up, whatever religious prejudices that exist will be gone.
Alas that was not meant to be !
Previous two decades( which began with anti-muslim riots in 1992 post Babri Masjid fall), we have seen all my parents’ prophesies and confidence in Indian secularism regress from confidence, to doubt, to fear and to a shattered dream today.
Citizenship Ammendment Act is a testimony that the gagging of Indian secularism is deliberate by design, not by default.
However, the incredible Indian student uprising against CAA, that began with 3 girls in Jamia Millia, and has now spread like wild fire across the globe is not a surprise to me. This is the only way you can respond when you feel your secular existence being strangled by fascists. I know Indians of all faiths who breathe secularism and will fight back till their last breath.

This is my India I was born, raised and educated in….so proud of my cousins, friends and all compatriots who are fighting oppression from the frontlines against CAA & NRA.


For the naive, who may need to educate themselves of the serious discriminatory intent that has been deliberately inserted in the Act and why are decent Indians outraging against it, can browse through these brilliant infographics for a quick understanding:

The poster below touched me the most. Perhaps this is a great lesson for people of all faiths, on how too shoo off the bigotry and divisive hatred of their own religious rightwingers.

I am a Hindu, not an a**h*le

The emotions are high and the willpower is unshakable.
Hear these powerful couplets by Rahat Indori which eloquently convey the indomitable resolve and anger of every secular Indian.

Agar khilaaf hain hone do jaan thodi hai,
Ye sab dhuwan hai koi aasman thodi hai,

(If they are against us, let them be, its not our life,
Its all a smokescreen, they are not open skies).

Lagegi aag to aayenge ghar kayi zaddd mein,
Yaha pe sirf hamara makaan thodi hai,

(If the fire errupts many houses will be engulfed,
There is not just our house in the vicinity here)

Main janta hoon ki dushman bhi kam nahi lekin,
Hamaari tarah hatheli pe jaan thodi hai,

(I know the enemies are no less adament,
But are they living on the edge like us? )

Hamaare munh se jo nikle wahi sadaqat hai,
Hamare munh mein tumhaari zubaan thodi hai,

{What comes out of our mouth is the truth,
Our mouths dont have your tongues(that lie)}

Jo aaj sahib-e-masnad hai kal nahi honge,
Kiraaye daar hain zaati makaan thodi hai,

(Those who are in power today, will not be tommorrow,
They are mere tenents here, they are not landlords)
.

Sabhi ka khoon hai shamil yahan ki mitti mein,
Kisi ke baap ka HINDOSTAN thori hai !!!

(Every Indian’s blood and sweat is mixed in this soil,
No one (community/faith) is the sole proprieter of Hindostan).

For Manila with Love


“Hello Ma’am your seat is 47E. Not good. Can I give you an aisle or a window seat at a better location?”
Me: “Oh that would be so kind of you for going extra mile even though I had booked online and this is the seat I could book last minute.”
Him: “Maam here is 17A. Window and front seat with extra leg space.”
Me: “You guys are amazing. I loved every day of my stay here.”

As I check out at immigration after a 45 day stay in Manila, this favour without even asking for one makes me overwhelmed with gratitude and would love to pay tribute to Phillipines and its lovely, hospitable people aloud on social media.

Right from the moment my husband and I landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport at Manila till exit today, and from immigration officers to taxi drivers to house nannies to senior executives in MNCs to doctors to nurses to porters to managers to ordinary street vendors to jeepney drivers to tricycle drivers to kids playing on streets Phillipinos are an epitome of politeness, etiquettes and culture. Please, thank you, sorry, are spoken with as fluency as our desis hurl gaalis.

It’s not that their lives are easy or comfortable but they have the exemplary patience to stay calm and sane, without honking horns or getting jittery in hours of traffic jams.
Most Philipinos are extremely sincere, hardworking and professional in their work.
Another huge quality in mostly all Philipinos I met is humility. They are also wonderful at enjoying their life the most with whatever is available to them.

Talking to a CEO of a company in a party she asked me how i found Manila.
I replied, “It is very similar to Delhi in terms of rich poor divide, high density population and horrid traffic, but Manila and Philipinos are way ahead in cleanliness. I did not see any litter even in poor localities.”
The lady smiled with pride and replied, “Yes that is true. We feel shame in littering. But let me tell you it was not like this 35 years ago. Manila was dirty. I remember in my youth there was a huge campaign against littering all over from city govt to schools. It took us almost 20 years to get here.”

Another interesting fact I learned about Philipines is that it was a matriarchal society before it was colonized by Spain and patriarchy was imposed. However, it is still known as a country of strong women. Two of past Presidents have been women. Even though still under colonial patriarchal influence to a great extent, one third of businesses are owned and run by women.

Below are some of the scenes from the old district of Quiapo in Manila which houses the largest and oldest Quiapo Church and the largest mosque Golden Mosque and a huge vegetable market in between.

I am extremely thankful to my daughter Fatima Fasih and her husband Abdullah because of whom we could visit Manila and learn so much more about these wonderful people.
I know Phillipines is not a common choice for tourism, but if one gets a chance please do visit to see their level of exceptional humility, politeness and hospitality.
I know I am going to come again to explore less metropolitan areas especially Mindanao and other islands in coming years.
Thank you Metro Manila for a wonderful experience !


Choking and Laughing in Delhi’s Pollution


When there is little you can do to change the ridiculous situation, the best tool you can resort to is satire. Satire and jokes through social media posts, memes, and even poetry are the ways Delhiites these days are coping with the frustrations and helplessness in the choked air.
Its hard to preserve the health of your lungs in the months from October to December when the Air Quality Index reaches ‘Hazardous’ levels of 500+, but good humor can at least preserve your sanity. Dark humor perhaps.

Below are some of the most eye catching memes I cam across on social media:





Being a cricekting nation, how could there not be a meme with Cricket:


Ofcourse there has to be memes relating to Bollywood films & its stars too!



The two memes below are my absolute favourites:

POETRY ON POLLUTION:

I came across a few pieces of poetry too on pollution.
Here is one by:

Firecracker

The leaves on the Ashoka tree outside my window droop.
There is no breeze to caress them.
There is no fresh dew.
They droop with dust, soot and smog.
And as they droop, so does my heart.
An eagle flies through a dusty haze and trees in the distance are foggy.
A tired insect flies by, its wings so heavy, as if the drag of the soot- laden air makes it fly through treacle.
A truck blares a horn far away.
The parakeets are absent. The pigeons have fled. The squirrels are not running about.
My eyes dart here and there, searching for my familiar morning sights.
It is quiet. Oh so quiet.
And no one is awake.
And the leaves on the Ashoka tree droop as they bear witness. Her leaves cry silent tears as the birds flee. The guava tree is laden but I don’t need to chase the parrots away.
As I hear another firecracker in the distance,
I push back my chair, and I sigh.

~ A poem by Jhilmil Breckenridge

Credits: I read this poem in a brilliant firsthand account by Mayank Soofi on Delhi’s pollution “Oh Ghalib, give us a verse on Delhi Smog”. Link to the whole article: https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/M6rO1l78bW8jkDMSxDPJtM/Oh-Ghalib-give-us-a-verse-for-the-smog.html

At the political front, the supporters of AAP’s Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal at state level and BJP’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the centre indulge in mudslinging, blaming each other for the root cause. Meanwhile, the kids take the most toll, not just in terms of health risk, but also by missing schools after the announced closure. 😦
Some samples of this political tit-for-tat can be seen in the slide-show below:

Then there are honorable Ministers like these who are walking talking memes themsleves.

Politics of religion is not ingnored either in this catastrope that spares no one, from any faith or class. Last year when the Delhi Govt announced a total ban on crackers on Diwali, a classmate of mine from Grade 8th taunted on the Montfort Class WhatsApp group:
“Yeah on Bakr Eid, killing animals is good for soil, but bursting crakcers on Diwali is bad for air pollution.”
Sigh ! I could only pity his self-destructive bigotry.

On a serious note, there can be no lighter side to an issue as dark and deadly as this. According to Air Pollution Index Hazardious ( Severe Grade 6) its health implications as described by WHO are:
Healthy people will experience reduced endurance in activities and may also show noticeably strong symptoms. Other illnesses may be triggered in healthy people. Elders and the sick should remain indoors and avoid exercise. Healthy individuals should avoid outdoor activities.”
This is a textbook example of a slow-killer.

Being born, raised and educated in Delhi, it hurts to realize the catastropic health consequences that over 20 million face in my homecity. I thought Delhi was unlivable even in the late 1980s as a student when every girl of my age group had to endure regular eveteasing( aka sexual harrassment) in horridly crowded DTC buses. (Thats another story of my Delhi that merits a separate session of storytelling.) Tbh today’s Delhi is a living hell.
With an ever widening rich-poor divide, Delhi’s pollution has proven to be a great equalizer. Now the rich, ruling and the powerful elite cannot escape in their safe havens from the poisonous air.
During my last visit to Delhi in November 2017, I experienced suffocation, breathlessness and buring eyes, accompanied by hours of traffic jam on the roads.
I took a deep breath of fresh air as I landed in Toronto 3 days later. My heart still ached for the loved ones, including my mother in her late 70s and three beautiful nephews and a neice, I had left behind waving at the Delhi airport, who like millions of other seniors and children in the NCR waited eagerly for a breeze that could blow away the smog until next Diwali season. That breeze did not blow until mid-December.

I do agree with the Manager of Haji Hotel ( ref in Mayank Soofi’s article) that we dearly miss Ghalib’s brilliant satire on the current state of Delhi.
In the heart of my hearts I also thank my God that free-spirited Mirza lived in Delhi in a different era. You all can guess why.

Just to leave a pleasant taste in my own mouth( and maybe yours), let me pen off this blog with this song:
Pollution by Rahul Ram:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ggVfvauo28

Diwali or Jashan-e-Chiraghan During Mughal Reign


by R.V. Smith, Published on 28 October 2019 in Outlook

Diwali was considered, even by the orthodox Muslims, a festival of natural joy of God’s creation.

Diwali or Jashan-e-Chiraghan During Mughal Reign

Depiction of Diwali celebrations during Mughal

Tales of the Diwali of the Pharaohs, which lighted up the pyramids and the whole Nile area, and later its adoption by the Persians, is said to have inspired the Mughals to fall in love with the festival of lights. When they saw how it was observed in Delhi, they began to hail it as Jashan-e-Chiraghan.

It was made into an occasion of court celebration, despite the orthodox ulema frowning on it as an unislamic practice of devil worshippers in which the owl, the bird of omen was sacrificed to the goddess of wealth. Owls are still sacrificed, after being bought at high prices — sometimes as much as Rs 1 lakh each — by those who believe in the superstition. But for the Mughals Diwali was just a night of illuminated fantasy.

The Rang Mahal in the Red Fort was the venue of Diwali and Basant celebrations during the time of Mohammad Shah (1720-1748). Holi, however, was celebrated in the front lawns, while the Diwali diyas lent lustre to the mahal. Mughal connection with Diwali actually began in the reign of Akbar at the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, where the palaces of Jodha Bai and Raja Birbal were also situated.

Jahangir and Shahjahan had milder Diwali celebrations and Aurangzeb was content with receiving gifts from his Rajput generals like Raja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur and Jai Singh I of Jaipur. His grandson, Jahander Shah ruled for just about a year and celebrated his Diwali at Lahore with concubine Lal Kunwar.

All the oil in the city is said to have been bought by the dandy emperor to light up the night but, exaggeration apart, there were enough Telis there to cater to the needs of the hoi polloi-and some of them were more than mere oil sellers, for the saying in Lahore, as also in Delhi, was ‘Parhhein Farsi aur bechein tel’ (Study Persian and sell oil). Some of these men where intellectuals, who had to resort to such lowly jobs because of the difficult circumstances.

Diwali was considered, even by the orthodox Muslims, a festival of natural joy of God’s creation, though some of them had reservations about eating kheel which, incidentally, was mostly sold by Muslim bharbhujas or gram roasters. Besides Muhammad Shah Rangila (colourful), his predecessor Farrukhsuyar had ordered Diwali illuminations at the Delhi Gate he had built on the Agra-Delhi road.

The Sayyids of Barah, who had put him on the throne and some other puppets, including Muhammad Shah, belonged to 12 villages in what is now UP and where Diwali was celebrated with great enthusiasm by Hindu and Muslim peasants. So they were not surprised at the emperor’s unusual spectacle.

A special feature of the Mughal celebrations at Shabh-e-Barat and Diwali was the bursting of crackers close to the walls of the Red Fort under the supervision of the Mir Atish (Firework in-charge) during successive emperors.

According to historian R. Nath, in an age when there were no matches, the permanent source of fire was Surajkrant.

At noon of the day when the sun entered the 19th degree of Aries, and the heat was the maximum, the (royal) servants exposed the sun’s rays to a round piece of shining stone (Suranjkrant). A piece of cotton was then held near it, which caught fire from the heat of the stone. This celestial fire was preserved in a vessel called Agingir (fire-pot) and committed to the care of an officer.

The fire was used in the palace and renewed every year. Camphor candles called kufuri-shama were placed on 12 candlesticks of gold and silver to light up the palace as a daily ritual, Dr Nath asserts. This was obviously done on a grander scale at Diwali when the Akash Diya (the Light of the Sky) was lighted with greater pomp, placed atop a pole 40 yards high, supported by 18 ropes, and fed on several maunds of binaula (cotton-seed-oil) to light up the darbar.

Just imagine the huge lamp lighting up a Diwali night and casting its glow right up to Chandni Chowk where rich seths had their own lighting arrangements, with mustard oil diyas on every building. A giant-size statue of Tesu Raja and his wife Jhainji, symbolized by illuminated pots, was also taken out for immersion in the Yamuna.

Author: R.V. Smith, 28 October 2019 R.V. Smith is a historian of Delhi.

The above article was published and has been reblogged from here: https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/opinion-diwali-or-jashan-e-chiraghan-during-mughal-reign/341245

Here are a few pictures from the miniature art on Diwali in Medieval and Mughal Era.


Not just the Mughals, celebration of religious festivals by people of other faiths goes on even to this day. I was known in my neighborhood for being very artsy. Each year, I was invited by a neighbor aunty to make Rangoli at her home entrance for Diwali. I diligently created new and more complicated design each subsequent year and each time she thought I did an amazing job. I became a ‘daughter’ to this childless couple.

The first year I moved in my apartment in Canada, I could not resist making a rangoli in my balcony on Diwali. It was a chilly cold day in November, so I wore my jacket and boots as I sat on the balcony floor painting it. I could not find the dry color, so I ended up making a permanent one with acrylics. Here is an image that still exists after almost 8 years. Years later I decided to paint a peacock on the wall too with the same acrylic paints.

Rangoli in Canadian snow.

Religious and cultural festivals are fascinating. Although associated with some aspect of faith, they are an occaision to digress from daily monotonous rut to celebrate life with decorated homes, good food, good clothes and good company.
I love all festivals from diverse faiths and cultures for these reasons.

Story #8: Good Touch Bad Touch


YOURSTORYTELLER

is a social enterprise that creates digital talking comics based on true stories and raises awareness on the triumphs and struggles of common individuals.
We will be bringing digital stories based on or adapted from true stories, highlighting an important social issue in each story.

Story #8: Good Touch Bad Touch

Do you think it is right to inform children about ‘Good Touch’ and ‘Bad Touch’ at a very early age? 

We teach our children to be safe from fire, from falls, from strangers, from other hazards, but we often fail to teach them how to be safe from body harm( from sexual abuse).
What is really worrying is that the statistics of sexual abuse in children are high- 1 in 3 in girls and 1 in 6 in boys before 18 years of age. Scary fact is that 90% of the perpetrators are known to the children.
Sexual abuse is a confusing concept for little kids. They feel awkward of certain actions of adults, but do not inform their parents/loved ones about them. Long term xhildhood sexual abuse has devastating consequences as they grow up as adults.
Why do parents avoid sharing with children the idea of body safety? Most think it is too early to tell them about sexual abuse without realizing that this is the age when they are the most vulnerable. Also, not teaching them skills to protect themsleves from abuse actually makes them more vulnerable for sexual abuse. It is never too early to empower children on how to confidently stay safe from sexual abuse.
This story is a small attempt to empower children in simple and easy way on body safety.

Las Vegas- Things I Loved, Liked and Disliked


Las Vegas was never on my wish-list to visit. But two things on my dream-list took me to Vegas- Grand Canyon and O- Cirque de Soleil. The latter two deserve separate blogs.

This blog, I am going to share about the things I found distasteful( disliked), things that were expected and things I absolutely loved. Vegas is 80% the Strip( the road lined with gigantic casinos) and 20% the rest which includes the downtown and other attraction.

Let me get straight to the point.

Vegas I disliked:

Before I had visited Vegas, I used to wonder why do they have the Statue of Liberty, Egytian pyramid, the Sphinx, or the Eiffel Tower and other replicas. It all made sense once we drove by the strip and learned about the casinos.

Each Casino is a huge complex of building, which has gambling-vending machines on the main floor, with shopping malls, and some other added attractions like theatre, where various shows run. Each Casino has tried to create their own ‘impact’ by creating a theme. For instance the Casino called Paris has an Eiffel Tower replica, a hot air balloon looking replica in the front( apparently first hot air balloon was flown in Paris) and a Arc de Triumph on the side.

Casino New York has a midget sized statue of Liberty standing in front of it.

Casino Ceaser’s Palace has created a theme as if you walk into the Greece of Julius Caeser times- with statue of Julius Caeser, Venus, Cleopatra, David and others etc.

Casino Venetia copies Venice, with a narrow canal flowing, lined with high end branded stores inside a shopping mall with motor driven Gondolas giving pricey rides to the visitors in the canal.

Casino Luxor has a Sphinx sitting in front of a black granite pyramid.

Here are a few pictures I took of these replicas:

Casino New York:

Venetia( Venice):

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Casino Paris( Paris):

Luxor (Pharoah’s Egypt):

luxor6

Casino Caeser’s Palace( Greece):

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All these historic monuments were marvellous creations by genius minds and uber-skillful hands of their times. Their machine-made replicas no matter how perfect they may be,  in my humble opinion, are in poor taste. Placed adjacent to big commercial brands are certainly not any tribute to these historic monuments.

Yes, I definitely did view these ‘fake’ monuments in Vegas as tasteful.

Things I liked:

DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS:

Las Vegas originated in 1901 and was incorprated in 1910. The casino culture began in 1930 when gambling was legalized.

Fremont Street is the hub of downtown Las Vegas is known ever since as Glitter Gulch. Fremont Street had Las Vegas’ first hotel (the Hotel Nevada in 1906, present day Golden Gate), first telephone (1907), first paved street (1925), first Nevada gaming license — issued to the Northern Club at 15 E. Fremont St, first traffic light, first elevator (the Apache Hotel in 1932), and the first high-rise (the Fremont Hotel in 1956). The Horseshoe was the first casino to install carpeting, while the Golden Nugget was the first structure designed from the ground up to be a casino. (Source: Wiki). 

As fascinating as it’s history is, a walk through the Pedestrian Mall ( aka Fremont Street Experience) after dusk is an incrediable experience, far more fascinating than the walk through the magnaimous Strip.  Apart from Casinos( which are omnipresent in Vegas) visitors witness free concerts, local artists performing on the sidelines, Elvis lookalikes offering pictures with them for a dollar, eateries and souvenir shops very authentic, non-branded and much more affordable.

The barrel vault canopy(1500 ft x 90 ft), the largest LED screen in the world, is mesmerizing, as all lights go off in the downtown when the show begins.

GAMBLING EVERYWHERE  😀

As soon as we landed at Las Vegas , my son laughed, “Look Casinos have begun right here at the airport.” Everywhere from the Stirp, downtown, airport, shopping malls, grocery stores, casino vending machines existed everywhere. The kiosks for gambling were perhpas more than the number of visitors to the Sin City. And despite overload of temptation, my son and I refrained from gambling in principle. My husband did try his luck and played with $10. He initially won $22 and then lost everything.

Our hosts joked to him: “You should have walked away with $22.”
I responded: “I think it was good that he lost all the money. This is good enough to deter from playing more.”

NIGHT VIEW OF THE STRIP FROM STRAT TOWER TOP:

strat0

Things I loved in Vegas

Fabulous Las Vegas Sign:

Before coming to Las Vegas, this was the only structure from the city that made sense to me. Despite being small in size, and a lot less glamorous than the humongous casinos on the Strip, this sign still holds its fascination. When we went to see the actual sign, it was far smaller than what my son and I had in our imaginations. There was a long line up to take free pictures. On the side were a few guys impersonating as unkempt Elvis( in untidy attires) standing on the sidelines offering to take a picture with them for a dollar.

My son joked how so a number of Hollywood movies have ‘virtually’ destroyed Vegas, but the ‘Fabulous Vegas’ sign still stands firm. 😀
He searched in the shops and found a fridge magnet, an exact replica, of the sign to bring back as a souvenir. “What happens in Vegas, remains in Vegas, only the souvenir goes  out with  us.” remarked my son.

( In case you are interested, here is a link about the films that destroyed Vegas: Films that destroyed Vegas: https://blog.vegas.com/more-las-vegas-news/10-movies-that-destroy-vegas-58057/

Fiori di Como (Bellagio):

Fiori di Como is a garden of hand blown glass by the renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly at the Bellagio Hotel. It is hard to miss as you stand underneath the masterpiece in the registration lobby. The entire structure weighs over 40,000 pounds, there are more than 2,000 flowers displayed in the glass garden.
The structure is a representation of Italian Fields in the spring. The structure is said to be worth about 3 million give or take a few million.

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World’s Largest Choclate Fountain (Bellagio):

If you are a chocaholic, this  glass-encased multi-tier chocolate fountain is must-visit place in Las Vegas. This floor-to-ceiling masterpiece is a classic work of art that pour out  20 tons of dark, light and white chocolate at the rate of 120 pints a minute. The Bellagio chocolate fountain is certified by Guinness World Records as the largest chocolate fountain in the world.

Musical Fountain at Bellagio:

This aweinspiring show of dancing water jets, to the music of famous songs is the most viewed attraction in Vegas. In a split of a second the 80 acre quiet lake turns into a stage with some 1200 water jets come to life, gyrating, twirling, whirling, jumping, bending and at times taking turns,  perfectly coordinating into a well choreographed dance performance. The show at night adds glamour with color and light effects, but the show during the daylight is no less fascinating.

We chose to watch the show both the times. During the day, the panoramic view atop the Eiffel Tower across the road was . We returned after dark to witness the mesmerizing show with light effect with closer view and louder music.

(The video below is not my own, and taken from Youtube).

O’ Cirque de Soleil:

This theatrical show takes the cake of our visit to Vegas.  There is little words can share about this show human acrobatic genius in the air, land and water.

Few things I found unique about this Show which was I did not find mentioned anywhere:

  1. The show has a story line- at least I felt so. A guy who found a red handkerchief at the beginning of the show is seen running across the stage as if finding the owner of this handkerchief, and the show ends with him presenting the piece to a pretty ballerina.
  2. The Show represented cultural diversity – not just in the elements- water, air, earth and fire, but also in culture. Costumes ranged from  commedia dell’arte, the Baroque, India, the Arabian Nights, Venetian courtly fashions and even animal designs like Zebras.
  3. There was racial diversity to some extent: black performers from Africa ( with appropriate background in the shadows), Chinese who performed on their music, and Russian acrobats. I also saw a woman in a blue burka( Afghani style) and a girl in Hijab among the performers.
  4. There was a diverse mix of musical instruments from word over including:  Chinese violin (erhu), bagpipes, African guitar and harp (kora), Colombian guitar, cello, ancient woodwinds and a wide variety of percussion instruments.

The show is a must see, as words cannot do justice to its magnificience and finesse.
We chose to save our money from the Casinos and invested in watching this show from the very first front row in the middle. We certainly came back richer with the experience.

Below is an official trailer as videography or photography is strictly not allowed keeping the safety of the performers in view.

I donot think I will go back to Vegas for its humongous Casinos or high end shopping malls. But certainly, will love to revisit for the theatre and to see our wonderful friends who hosted us at their place.

The other reason I may go back is for the visit to Grand Canyons, which merits a separate blog, and will follow shortly.

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