Jan 26, 2015

Temple of Hephaestus, Athens

Temple of Hephaestus, though in ruins, looked more complete compared to Parthenon. It was built two years prior to Parthenon in 449 BC. This one is made out of marble completely; and to me the pillars looked grand and strong enough for many more centuries. It gives a fairly good idea of Parthenon’s form had it been complete.

This temple is believed to have been dedicated to Athena and Hephaestus. Hephaestus is the Greek God for volcanoes and metal working. Athena Ergena, a form of their goddess Athena is responsible for pottery and other crafts.

But again like other temples this Temple of Hephaestus too played the role of place of worship to other religions. In 7th century it got converted to Church of St. George Akamas. In early 19th century this became the burial ground for Protestants and for many who died in Greek war of independence in 1821. After 1834 this got converted to a museum till 1930s, since then it is in its present state and I like it a lot this way.

This is the best preserved temple I saw in Athens and liked it more after seeing the sad state Parthenon was in. The interior is out of bounds for public. There were huge statues of Athena and Hephaestus, but now it is empty, the walls have well preserved engravings and sculptures with different themes in all four sides. The frieze on the east front of the Temple, facing the Ancient Agora has sculptures depicting the labors of Hercules.

I have tried to capture this grand monument from various angles; the light was good that day thankfully!


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Our World Tuesday

Jan 24, 2015

Go Sleek with Asus

Modern day sleek gadgets bring you at such crossroads of life! Finding it hard to make a choice… ‘The Sleek and Powerful ASUS EeeBook X205TA’ or the ‘Ultra-Portable and Perpetually connected ASUS All In One PC ET2040’?

A study of pros and cons of features relevant to my usage requirements of both reveal this:

The Sleek and Powerful ASUS EeeBook X205TA
  • Small sized, sleek, light weight (>1kg) hence can be tossed into my bag and no worry of damage or scratches 
  • Fairly good keyboard. Typing position and spacious palm rest. 
  • The screen (11.5 inch display) leans back to 130-140degrees, raising the laptop to a favorable typing position. 
  • Battery Life: Might pleased to read that it lasted 8 hours 47 minutes hours on a single charge. That means whole days work requirement is taken care of. 
  • Runs noiseless and no moving parts inside 
  • Speaker quality is good. 
  • Little restraint has to be exercised if one wishes to have plenty of tabs open, run videos and also run the Office pplications. 
  • Web pages with lot of elements take some to load. 
  • Advanced tasks like photo and video editing is not possible. 
  • Unable to play latest video games. 
  • Not much spare space after installing Windows, expansion of storage space possible with microSD card 
The most favorable feature of this sleek gadget is its cost. Rs.15,000. The features available for this cost are more than what one can ask for!

ASUS All In One PC ET2040
  • 19.5-inch, HD widescreen display, good brightness and sharp contrast, stunning 3D worlds full of sharp visual detail 
  • It has excellent built-in backup power, almost for an hour, plenty of time to save all docs and files. 
  • It has built-in stereo speakers, deeper and richer bass, wider frequency response, true-to-life surround sound, powerful output, distinct vocals, and pristine clarity. Sound output is better due to carefully-balanced dynamic audio. This feature definitely scores. 
  • Plenty of pre-installed apps for work or for play. PhotoDirector to efficiently manage photos, complete adjustment and edit, or use PowerDirector to produce high-quality home videos. This definitely suits my usage profile. 
  • With 3 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, recharging smartphones, tablets or other USB devices, transfer data between devices is faster. USB 3.0 is fully compatible with existing USB 2.0 devices! 
  • Multitasking is easy, quick response, smooth switching between multiple apps leading to spending less time waiting and more time creating. The smooth and fluid graphics make gaming and HD video playback smooth and stutter-free. 
 This computer can be used to control multimedia players or browse the internet from up to five meters away. ASUS All-in-One PC ET2040 makes it all possible with advanced Hand-Gesture Recognition Software (HGRS). A built-in camera accurately interprets movements, play songs or videos, adjust player settings, or zoom and rotate photos — all from a distance, without ever touching a screen, keyboard or mouse! This unique feature has left me stunned and a strong desire to own it.

Features wise this ASUS All-in-One PC ET2040 fits my requirements more but cost wise...
The cost is Rs. 26,000!!! 11 months to go for a Christmas gift!!!

Faces of India - 197


He is trying to make a decent earning selling flags at toll booths and traffic signals. One can see many such people on Independence Day and Republic Day when the demand for flags shoots up drastically. This picture was taken couple of years back. Republic Day (26th Jan.) greetings to all my Indian readers! 

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here

Jan 23, 2015

Parthenon, Athens

Once upon a time… yes, once upon a time, here stood a beautiful temple dedicated to Goddess Athena at this very spot! People of Athens adored her and worshipped her! It came into existence in its grand form in 432BC when Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. So beautiful it was that even today it is considered as world’s great cultural monument.

Over the years, Parthenon was converted as house of worship for other religions. In 5th century AD, it was converted into a Christian church and dedicated to Virgin Mary. In 15th century after Ottoman conquest, this was converted into a mosque. Sometime in 17thcentury part of it was converted into ammunition dump. During Venetian attack, this was bombarded and the explosion caused massive damage to the magnificent structure.

Many of the surviving sculptures were collected by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin sold to British Museum in London and are displayed there. The Greece government wants these Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles returned and they are very right in their demand.

Here are some pics of Parthenon. Massive work is on to get back its past glory and I hope they complete it successfully in a short duration. The whole world is waiting to see the grand splendor of this building!


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SkyWatch Friday

Jan 21, 2015

Olive Tree of Greece

The one tree that I found in every town or city of Greece that I visited was the Olive tree. Particularly in old sites, the trees looked so old, looking as if they existed for centuries. For Greeks Olive tree is a symbol of wisdom and peace. It is the sacred tree of their Goddess Athena. The story of how the tree came to existence is like this: Zeus decided the city (before it the name Athens) would be given to the one who would give the most useful gift to its people. Poseidon gave them the horse. Athena struck the bare soil with her spear and caused an olive tree to spring up. People were mighty pleased with the olive that Zeus gave the city to Athena. The city was then named after her.

Curious tourists like me halted to make a note of the tree and its interesting features. Most of the trees bore fruits, some in their raw state and ripe ones scattered on ground. I was like: OMG so much olive gone waste! My curiosity went a little further, I plucked one ripe one and bit into it, I expected it to be sour. This was at Acroplis site and Oh! God! It was bitter. I ran around searching for a dust bin to pop it out. I never tried one for the rest of the tour, the ones served at table tasted so good. In its natural state it is best to capture in photographs.



Some quotes:
Nobel prize winner Greek poet Odysseas Elytis wrote "Greece is a vine, an olive tree and a boat" 

Thomas Jefferson wrote: "The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven" 

Aldous Huxley wrote: "…I like them all, but especially the olive. For what it symbolizes, first of all, peace with its leaves and joy with its golden oil."

Federico Garcia Lorca wrote: "Angels with long braids and hearts of olive oil."


Thursday Challenge: Trees