October 25, 2008

Happy birthday Pablo!

#Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
#Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.
#Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
#There are only two types of women - goddesses and doormats.
#We don't grow older, we grow riper.

THESE are some famous quotes of a man called Pablo Picasso. One of the few artists to become a household name, Pablo Picasso was nothing if not prolific. The hundreds of thousands of works he created in his lifetime are scattered in many public and private collections throughout the world. But Picasso holds the record for the number of museums devoted solely to his oeuvre. Three (in Paris, Barcelona, and Málaga) are devoted solely to Picasso, and others dabble.

October 25 was his birthday – and I wanted to pen down a piece dedicating to a master with a difference. I visited his museum last year in Paris. Pablo’s museum is a very nice and intimate museum in the middle of a fashionable and typically Parisian district.

I was putting up at Hotel Ibis in Bastille. Though I been to Paris several times but I always missed paying a visit to the museum. This time I wanted to be there not because of Pablo’s great works but to feel the ambience of the place and how the museum came to fore. It was not because Pablo donated his masterpieces to Paris but some tax problems forced him to do so.

I was told famous painters have tax problems, and Pablo Picasso was no exception. To settle the taxes on his estate, the French government “inherited” a large number of his works upon his death in 1973. These paintings and sculpture form the core of Paris’ Picasso Museum, located in a large 17th century mansion –the Hotel Sale – in the popular Marais neighborhood. The ornate townhouse makes an interesting contrast to Picasso’s, largely abstract, paintings.

The Picasso Museum features over 3000 works by the artist and the collection is organized chronologically and the visitors can walk through the different periods in Picasso’s artistic development. Particularly noteworthy in the collection are “The Kiss,” a painting inspired by the painter’s marriage to Jacqueline Roque in 1961, his early (1901) self-portrait, and “The Two Brothers,” painted in Spain during the summer of 1906. In addition to works by Picasso, the museum includes a large number of works from Picasso's private art collection, including works by Degas, Cezanne, Matisse, and Seurat. The museum is a fascinating immersion into the work of one man and, no matter how one feels about Picasso’s work, is fascinating in its intense concentration on all phases of his art.

Among the many Picasso's paintings, you will find a 1901 self portrait and self portrait, the 1917 portrait of Olga in an armchair, the 1925 kiss, the 1931 woman in a red armchair (left) and the 1937 portrait of Dora Moor.

Paintings didn’t fascinate me much has I had already spent two days in the famous Louvre museum trying to decipher the meaning of hundreds of masterpiece paintings. The sculptors – the man, the woman and a pregnant woman made by wrought iron absorbed my attention.

In case you happen to be in Paris anytime – I would suggest please do visit this muse of Pablo. You won’t regret spending time here.

Visiting the Picasso Museum

Paris' Picasso Museum is open Wednesday to Monday year-round, except for January 1 and December 25. (The museum is closed on Tuesdays.) Summer (April – September) hours are 930am to 6pm. Winter hours are 930am to 530pm. Admission is 6.50 Euros for adults, 4.50 for students 18-25 years, and free for those under 18. The Museum is free to all on the first Sunday of each month. The museum has a gift shop that features prints, cards, and gifts inspired by Picasso as well as a small café.
The Picasso Museum is easily accessible by the Paris Metro system, via the Saint-Paul, Saint-Sebastien Froissart, and Chemin Vert stops.

Contact Information
Picasso Museum, Hotel Sale; 5 rue de Thorigny; 75003 Paris, France; Telephone: 01 42 71 25 21

Official site:

Getting to the Picasso Museum in Paris is easy. If you’re using the Paris metro system, just get off at either Saint Paul Station or Chemin Vert Station. The Picasso Museum is within walking distance of both these stations, and the directions are signposted as soon as you get out of the station. If you’re taking a cab or riding a bus then the address of the Picasso Museum is 5 Rue de Thorigny. Buses that stop very close to the Picasso Museum are 29, 96, 69 and 75.

October 6, 2008

A summer soiree in Sydney

-This was my second visit to Oz land in last one and half years. I am re-publishing an article written for Times of India last year in May.

Nestled amidst gorgeous beaches, Sydney is special in very many ways. Water sports for the adventurous at heart, world-class restaurants for foodies like me and a vibrant nightlife, well for everyone! But let me begin with Port Jackson. It truly is the heart of Sydney, symbolising the sun, water and the outdoor spirit of those who inhabit it.

Sydney occupies the largest natural harbour in the world offering divinely picturesque sunset views from almost all of the 70 harbour beaches in the metropolitan region. The best way to see the harbour is by taking a ferry from central Sydney to the Toronga Zoo, where I saw koalas, platypus and more than 3,000 other endangered or rare species enjoy prime ocean front property!

I was fortunate to witness the Harbour Bridge's 75th anniversary celebrations. The iconic Harbour Bridge , known as the coathanger among locals is an adventure in itself. Climb the southeast pylon for an unimaginable view of the harbour or pay a little more to spend adrenaline filled hours climbing the bridge through a certified company.

Facing the Harbour Bridge is the signature Opera House against the beautiful backdrop of Port Jackson; making it difficult to believe that Sydney is just about 200 years old. A visit to Sydney would not be complete without a trip to one of its several dozen sandy beaches lining its suburban coastline. The famous Bondi beach is about 15 minutes from the Bondi station by bus and is in the eastern suburbs. It is Sydney 's sandy seaside escape, complete with gelato vendors, funky pubs and an overall air of relaxation.

The beautiful Manly on the Northern side of the harbour is about 30 minutes from the city by ferry from the Circular Quay; one of the most relaxing, picturesque and enjoyable rides you will ever experience! If you are an animal lover and have come all the way to meet the famous koalas – an hour's train ride to Paramatta will take you to the Koala Park. You can explore the city's central and North sides where you can see the Queen Victoria statue and the Royal Botanical Garden, which is quite remarkable featuring the preserved site of the colony's first paltry vegetable patch.

The Museum of Contemporary Arts is also a point of interest mainly because of the terrific Art Deco building in which it resides and the Art Gallery houses an impressive collection of 18th and 19th century works. Following a long day of harbours, beaches, art and amusement, King's Cross is just the perfect blend of trendy class and underground subculture for a fine meal, chichi cocktail or gritty groove. And if you want to escape the hustle bustle of the city, simply take a two-hour train ride to reach the Blue Mountains.

Perhaps these beautiful mountains get their name from fumes created by the eucalyptus oil released into the air by the carpet of trees lining the surrounding hills. But well, you can never feel blue here!

October 4, 2008

Kiama - where the sea makes a noise

After a wonderful time in Blue Mountains – it was now destination – Kiama -. The drive was breathtaking though mostly I slept.

Rain and cloudy weather tried its best to play spoilsport but the high spirits in me ensured the spoilers didn’t blemish my trip.

Kiama is a well-known and much-favoured coastal resort located 120 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway. It is characterised by dramatic rocky coastline, sandy beaches and an attractive harbour. The hinterland behind the town is dominated by lush green dairy pastures, and rolling hills which were once clad in dense subtropical forests.

I went around looking for history of Kiama. I read that the area's original inhabitants, the Wodi Wodi Aborigines, are said to have called the place 'Kiarama-a' or 'Kiar-mai'. The meaning is usually given as 'where the sea makes a noise', although 'fertile area', 'mysterious spirit' and 'plenty food: good fishing ground' have also been suggested.

I had only a day with me to explore Kiama. After a scrumptious Thai red curry with rice to ease my hunger – went to find the most obvious place - the Blowhole. Still the town's greatest attraction this sea-cliff cavern will always offer some kind of display but the really spectacular 'blows' only occur when the wind and water are coming rather precisely from the south-east. On those occasions waves roar explosively through a hole in the cave-roof sending spray up as high as 60 metres and down over the carpark.

But on the day I visited it was playing hide and seek. Near the blowhole is the 15-metre lighthouse, opened in 1887 on George Bass Point after a considerable death toll had occurred on the rocky coastline. It was converted to electricity in 1969 and extends its beams to a distance of 27 km. Once attended by a lighthouse keeper it has long been automated.

Just down the hill from the lighthouse is the Kiama Pilot's Cottage and Heritage Centre, the residence of the local harbour pilots from 1881 to 1981. The building is typical of the country cottages designed in the office of the colonial architect to house public officials

On either side of the harbour are two attractive rock pools. The one on the northern side was built in 1888. Its location was determined by indecency laws which forbade bathing in public. The southern rock pool can be spectacular when the sea is rough. I wanted to have a swim but backed out after I realized that the water was cold and I didn’t know how to swim.

But two of my travel mates – a 12 year old handsome Saahil and a nine-year old naughtiest amateur magician – Eshaan had one of the best times in water.

There is a walking trail – the Kiama walking trail clearly marked with large blue-and-white posts. But I gave it a miss as it was time to return to Sydney.

October 3, 2008

Three Sisters

Sorry for lazy postings…It’s been over a month since I last posted on this blog. I was in Australia for sometime. Now I am back with some interesting stories to publish on my blog. To begin with let me tell you the story of three sisters.

This was my second trip to Australia in last one and half years. This time I made it sure that I spent some time in the Blue Mountains. And especially click a photo of three sisters.

Three beautiful hills named as three sisters in the Blue Mountains was awesome scenic beauty. After spending sometime there I went on to search some history behind the three sisters.

I was told that the Three Sisters are 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively. That's over 3000 feet above sea level!

The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.
These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.

The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.

As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.

Journey to Blue Mountains is around two hours drive from Sydney and the drive is breathtaking. Though I was there for only a day - I would recommend for people to stay there for few days and enjoy the scenic beauty of the place. I would say it is out of the world.