Friday, June 25, 2010


5th Avenue the Great !

When Ruby and I came to New York from Banbury (Oxfordshire), some of my friends thought that we would stay away from the more crowded areas of New York for weeks. We visited London and Oxford for one day each,, which, well.... was far less than 'enough'. One of them has vowed to come down to Banbury during the 2nd stint there in August-September and make us travel to Oxford by train and visit Bodelian Library.

Ruby standing in front of 'The Ego and the Id' ( Sculpture by : Franz West.20' tall. Hardly impressive !

We ,however, were not lazy about '5th Avenue' at all. Within a few days of our arrival in NY for a 8+ weeks' stay, Ruby and I went to visit the 'temples' of brands of high fashion.We started from Bay Pkway station of Brooklyn at around 4.15 pm and got down at 5thAve/59th Street station. On our left was the southern corner of Central Park. We walked along the footpath with kiosk of books, children playing around the 'The Ego and the Id'.We found the whistle-blowing Traffic Police persons in the same state of agitation as in Calcutta.

Not a moment of rest for these Traffic control police persons. Crossing between 59th Street and 5th Avenue.

Next,we crossed the 5th Avenue and went down to the underground shop of 'MAC'. A very crowded joint with visitors and enthusiasts overflowing the Shop. The price tags generates a bit of awe. For a couple of years, my elder son suggested if I should buy a mini-Mac, but I never took the plunge. Later, we sat by the side of the fountain of this plaza and started our walk.

I am standing in front of the 'Apple' Store on 5th Avenue.

Fountain by the the side of the 'Apple' Store

The great brand names were ablaze in an area of 2 blocks X 2 blocks. Armani, Dior, Louis Vuitton , Yves Saint Laurence, Sony ,Prada, Swarovski...... et all. Tall handsome young men in dark formal attires were supervising the entrances of these high temples. If one of them ever think of writing about his experiences, it will be 'who's who' among the top celebrities of the nations. The mannequins , however, were mostly uninteresting except for those in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman. We did not venture into any of these 'high fashion' shops ..... the doormen looking formidable.....but took a stroll into Swarovski and Sony. Swarovski salespersons were very friendly but tried not to mention that whatever items we enquired about were manufactured in Thailand. In the showroom of Sony, we had the very 1st exposure to 3-D TV. A children's cartoon was being played and a few persons stayed glued to the visitors' seats, though I did not find the show great !

'Eiffel tower' painted at the entrance of Louis Vuitton store.

Refection of one skyscraper on another , opposite Bergdorf Goodman.

A passer-by stares at a mannequin, attired in a very fashionable dress. The array of shark/skeleton/other strange objects makes this window very special, whereas refection of a car whizzing past make the scene very real ! To enjoy the big-sized photo, please click on the photograph or request for the original size .

It was nearly dark before we returned to 5thAve/59th Street station....... en route we took photographs of the fun items ,e.g., rickshaws and horse-drawn carts. I took a few photos of the pond of Central Park and Pulitzer fountain in Grand Army Plaza. Another 2-3 hours of walking and clicking will complete this photo-feature.

View of Grand Army Plaza - statue of goddess Pomona ( godess of wealth) atop the fountain on the left hand side, quiet in the middle of crowded 5th Avenue-59th Street crossing.

A place for everyone...... fast and stylish cars, limousines, rickshaws and even horse-drawn carts !

PS - Getting into N-train was not easy for me that evening. I was slow to enter after the Metrocard swipe and the 'Go' signal. Babai advised me to walk to the next station instead of waiting for the mandatory 20 minutes. Ruby and I walked to '7th Avenue/57th Street' station, but that took no less than 20 minutes. We should have waited for 20 minutes coolly and take a few more photos !

View of two skyscrapers beyond Central Park.

Thursday, June 10, 2010



Statue of Hari-Hara in British Museum

I write this blog for me as well as for two of my young friends ,one in Pune,india and the other in London, UK.

Pankaj Sakpal of Pune is a Design specialist, but, I know him through flickr.He is one of my few acquaintances who has an appetite for non-fictional books . He was the first person to invite me to make a presentation on Bengal's terra cotta temples to a small gathering of his friends in Pune when I visited that city in 2008.

Amit Guha is an IITian who lives in London ,and in spite of his busy schedule, devotes a lot of energy for the cause of Bengal's terra cotta temples.Whenever he is home in Calcutta, he steals two or more days from his crowded schedule for visiting terra cotta temples in a small town or a village in West Bengal's districts. I could not act on his suggestion of visiting British Museum's lecture session on Indian Art organised by SOAS, but, could find other opportunities in this line.

Four weeks at Banbury is a vacation , not a sight-seeing trip. My wife Ruby and I spent good amount of time at home, with family members, on computer , sorting out the large nos of photographs we have taken on our days out. My vacation has been considerably enriched by the very helpful and kind persons at Banbury Library.

Earlier during 1970s, during stint in Glasgow , I got myself enrolled in a local library.It was a small one. The library in Banbury cannot be called a big one , but adequate for a small community of 35000 people.Ground floor of this Library has 5 major sections : non-fictional, fictional,children-specific,audio books &video and large print . The entire 1st floor is for reference section on various subjects, town's history and lineage of families, maps/directories and computers.

I found a book on 'Hindu Iconography' written by Margaret Stutley in the reference book section of Oxford's public library .I got a very favourable response from the authorities .The book was sent across to the library in Oxfordshire for my studying and copying . This library has several excellent books on 'History of Arts' section. For example, books on Classical art from Greece and Rome, Isms and understanding Art, which I could never find in National Library or Asiatic Society in Calcutta.

Statue of Lakulisha in British Museum

I have scanned lots of pages from this book of 'Hindu Iconography', specially several manifestations of Shiva/Rudra. My interest in this matter was aroused by the statue of Hari-Hara and ithyphallic Lakulisha ( was he a great Shaiva sage from Gujarat , 200 AD or a manifestation of Shiva *) in British Museum. The evolution of Shiva's current imagery from the pre-Vedic days to 20th/21st centuries ia interesting reading....... I shall collect more materials regd. this subject once I return to Calcutta. Many scholars believe that pre-Vedic Shiva and Vedic Rudra merged during course of centuries , during which there used be a lot of conflict between the followers of Vishnu and Shiva.

I have little knowledge in Jain Iconography...... may be Pankaj has. See the Jain equivalent of Rudra's image ( Ranakpur temple) in : and Bhairav's photos in :

* A note below the statue describes Lakulisha as one of the biggest Shaiva sages whereas on searching 'Lakulisha' in 'British Museum's website, one finds this :
'an aspect of the Hindu god Shiva standing on the vanquished dwarf of ignorance, Apasmara, and flanked by two diminutive figures.'