Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dreams ..

For some reason this line from the film Luck by Chance has been playing in my head for the past few days - Sapne wo nahin hote hain so hum raat ko sote huey dekhte hain, sapne wo hote hain jo hamein raaton ko sone nahin dete ( dreams are not what we see while sleeping, but the ones which don't let us sleep).

... no wonder I am having sleepless nights these days ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Driving Tales

Finally a post that I have been wanting to write for a while. In this post I am going to reveal all my deep and dark secrets related to driving, right from the time when I took driving lessons for the first time ...

Year 2001: My instructor (whose name I don't remember now) was a very polite young man in his early twenties. He was such a nice person that he never told me I was doing anything wrong; even when I drove at 50 in second gear or passed by a pedestrian merely centimeters away! About 7 classes and 1000/- Rs later, all I had learnt was to start the car and keep it moving at a constant speed somehow. I could not afford to buy a car in those days so due to lack of  practice I managed to unlearn whatever little I had learnt within no time.

Year 2007: After being subjected to many harassment by Bangalore autowallas, spending a fortune on cabs and getting almost daily dosage of sarcasm filled lecture from my sister (who became an expert driver in the years that went by) I decide to take driving lessons again. Fortunately for me Mr Pillai, my instructor, speaks good English, is polite yet firm while giving instructions and keeps giving driving tips. This time around I try to practice a bit in my sister's car, but somehow I was not driven enough  this time again. Bangalore traffic seems to have grown by ten folds! The fact that there's always my sister's car or City Taxis available to get me around doesn't help me with my driving again. And this time again I let the opportunity fizzle out ....

Year 2009: The fact that my sister was getting married and moving to another home, albeit in Bangalore itself, jolted me out of my comfort zone and think seriously about re-learning driving and buying a car. Thankfully by then my dad, who is an expert driver and teacher, had moved here and I had to look no further than home to learn driving for the third time. Many early morning practice sessions with him later, I was finally in a position to even think of driving on my own. The biggest challenge for me in bringing the car to work was not to face the traffic (because I take an alternate route which avoids most of the city traffic) but the fact that I will have to go over the ramp to park my car and pass through the two security personnel holding large mirrors to check the underside of the car. I always told my friends that with my kind of precision in driving I would definitely knock off at least one of them!

As of today it has been a little over 2.5 months that I am driving on my own. I haven't had any major problems on the road except ... I have asked complete strangers to park my car twice after having unsuccessfully tried for over 10 mins, I have caused some minor traffic jams few times by trying to overtake at wrong places, have made a car coming at high speed from opposite direction apply crash brakes because I was on the wrong lane, in the first week of my driving got the car's engine stalled so many times that my mom innocently asked me 'are you low on fuel, why is the car stopping so many times?' (little did she know that it was my lack of clutch/accelerator coordination that was causing it ;) ) ... Well, you get the idea.

But on the brighter side, my car doesn't get stalled in slow-moving traffic or at inclines, I don't burst into cold-sweat on seeing more than 2 vehicles on the entire stretch of road, I don't wait for early morning or late night to take my car out and I even overtake vehicles :) But the best part is - the two mirror-holding security personnel at my workplace's parking lot are still unharmed. They have no idea how lucky they are!

Images courtesy:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things-to-do and Things Done Well

It appears that a lot has been happening in the past few weeks which has made my blogging take a back seat. There have been many times when I clicked on 'New Post' link when some thought appeared in my head and I felt like putting it into words. But then it disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared without taking a proper form and I was left staring at my computer screen for a long time.There are other things also that I have been ignoring lately; most important of them being my reading. I have not read a single book in the past 3 months or more. My bookshelf is filling up with unread books (well, I have a habit of buying at least one book every month). So I have Murakami's Underground, Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul, Franz Kafka's Complete Novels, Bronte's Jane Eyre, John Steinbeck's East of Eaden, Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... the list seems endless. I also need a lot of catching up to do on the movies front. The last film I saw was Wake up Sid and that was more than a month ago!

But things haven't been as bad on other fronts all this time. I have managed to catch a lot of plays at Ranga Shankara lately (Girish Karnad's Flowers and Bikhre Bimb and Swanand Kirkire's Aao Saathi Sapna Dekhein to name a few) and am going to watch Naseeruddin Shah's Waiting for Godot tomorrow.

The other good thing is that I have started driving - in Bangalore and on my own! Well, it might seem innocuous to people who drive, but for a person like me, it is a big deal given the fact that I have taken driving lessons from professional instructors twice (the first one being 9 years ago!), got my driver's license about 10 years ago and still got nightmares at the mere thought of driving on my own in Bangalore traffic! Probably I will write a separate post on my driving (mis)adventures some time soon. I have also been taking language lessons of which I had been planning ever since I landed in Bangalore 9.5 years ago. Will write more about it on completing it :).

And while reading the post one final time before publishing, I realized that most of my plans take 9-10 years for me to turn them into reality! Now, what does that say about me? :(

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blue - Some Observations

First off, this is not a movie review post, just some random observations I made while watching the film Blue.
  • The first few minutes of the film are breathtaking! They show the underwater life in the ocean surrounding Carribbean islands. Looks more like a Discovery Channel feature than a Bollywood film's opening credits. If you miss these few minutes, half your money's worth is lost
  • The person who was holding the camera must have been very short (say about 3 ft tall). Most of the shots that have women in skimpy clothes, the camera is focussed only at their waist or below. So it was anyone's guess where the camera would focus whenever a woman in bikini appears on the screen
  • If you have many great tattoos but don't have a great body to go with it, you are a loser. Sanjay Dutt, with his fancy tattoos could not show them one bit due to his huge paunch. Poor guy!
  • If you are not in shape, please please please don't wear diving suits. You have no idea how gross it looks!
  • Yes, Lara Dutta has a wonderfully toned body in this movie and I liked her styling too
  • Kylie Minogue song was over-hyped. She did not look that hot either. What was the price they paid her I heard??
  • Rahman's music was a bit of a let-down, I didn't remember even a single song after leaving the movie theatre!
  • Akshay still seems to be extremely fit. The guy looks much leaner than he has looked in any of his recent releases
There was something I liked about the movie, wasn't it? Oh yeah, the first 5 minutes of the film showing underwater life. Well, I already mentioned that in the beginning...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feast of Love

I watched this beautiful movie called Feast of Love this weekend. I had never heard of this movie before and had bought its DVD a week ago by just seeing Morgan Freeman on the cover :). A little bit of reading its back cover gave me an idea that it would be something on the lines of Love Actually. The film is directed by Robert Benton of The Human Stain and Twilight fame.

The film has many stories in it .. all on the theme of love. Each of them exploring a different dimension of love - be it between two youngsters who fall in love with each other the moment they lay their eyes on each other, between two women (one of them married and having no idea that she could get attracted to another woman), between two people who had been having an affair with each other only to realize later that they were actually in love all along and my favorite .. love and comfort between two older people .. the kind of love that comes from decades of togetherness. The film has been dealt with a lot of sensitivity and the characters are well developed and layereed. The film also managed to stay away from becoming the usual romantic chick-flick, which I do not have much liking for. It has elements of both happy and sad endings to love stories. Most of the actors have given good performances but I particularly liked those of Morgan Freeman and Alexa Davalos. Alexa's beauty and talent have shone through the whole film and she has managed to steal the attention away from more established names like Radha Mitchell and Selma Blair.

A good romantic film that also has depth to it. May not be suitable for family viewing as there are some explicit scenes in the film.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Just realized that today's date is 09-09-09. I am sure many people would have noticed this before I did and I might be getting a lot of email forwards about this date being unique as the day proceeds, but still ...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Jungle Get-away

One of the many things I absolutely love about Bangalore is its proximity to some of the great travel destinations - most of them being just few hours' drive away. One such place is the Nagarhole National Park. So Colin & Vandana planned a trip to the national park along with a stay at this wonderful place called King's Sanctuary as a birthday gift for me (can I be any luckier than this?? :) ). The traffic on Bangalore-Mysore highway was insane on Saturday morning even if we started quite early, mostly so as it was a long weekend. We made a short 2-hour break at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary on the way. We spotted many bird species like - White Ibis, Open Billed Storks, Egrets, bats and of course many crocodiles lying about lazily.
 About couple of hours' drive away from the bird sanctuary was our destination - King's Sanctuary; nestled almost a stone's throw away from the entrance of the national park. The resort is very tastefully done - sprawling premises with a rustic touch and some very unusual flora & fauna. The suite we had booked was a spacious 2-bedroom and a living room unit. The best part of it was the bathroom which opened into a room with bathtub and had an open roof!! The resort also offered many recreational activities of which we indulged in cycling, few games of croquet, tree-climbing using a rope & harness (I think they called it jumaneering or something; which only Colin managed to do, rest of us couldn't even get our feet off the ground!), a tribal song and dance show and children's games around the bonfire. Being my birthday, I also got to cut the very delicious cake (on the house!) in the midst of this all and got wished by dozens of other guests gathered at the bonfire :).

We woke up at 5 AM the next day to head for the jungle safari starting at 6 AM in an open gypsy. The cool morning breeze and the sounds of the jungle made us forget about our drowsiness (and last night's hangover too :) ) soon. The animals we saw were herds of spotted deer (chital), four-horned antelope, wild boar, peacock, wild hens, elephant, giant Malabar squirrels, Brahminy Kites and tortoise. There was a family of five wild boars (two adults and 3 kids) who, on spotting us, fled away instantly. Except that the 3 kids kept stopping and looking at us out of curiosity in spite of constant prodding by their parents to run away. Looks like animals aren't all that different from us humans, just a lot better. The closest we got to spotting a tiger was the pug-marks of a mother and its cub, the marks were just about few hours old as per our knowledgeable guide. One of the saddest sights I remember was seeing an antelope nibbling on (probably food inside) a poly-bag. The other being an elephant training camp which had about 5-6 elephants in huge chains being tamed by their mahouts :( . The guide told us that rest of the elephants have already been taken to train for participating in Mysore Dussehra festival.
We came back to the resort to a huge breakfast laid out for all guests (did I mention that the food there was excellent?). Another game of croquet and freshening up later, we were all set to hit the roads to head back to Bangalore braving the insane traffic - a sign that another vacation had come to an end ...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Off to the woods ...

... with family ... for my birthday weekend. Goodbye chaos; wilderness, here I come!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Grapes of Wrath

The back cover of the book by John Steinbeck has the writer's quote: " I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied". I found this quote so intriguing that I ended up buying this book instead of the other Steinbeck book (East of Eden) that I had set out to buy that day. I must say The Grapes of Wrath left me with similar feelings that his novella Of Mice and Men had left me with earlier .. sad, dissatisfied and a bit depressed.

The Grapes .. chronicles the journey of the Joads - a farmer family from Oklahoma, who drive hundreds of miles to California in search of greener pastures (in the form of a steady job and food for the family) during the Great Depression. The transformation each person in the family goes through, while battling hunger, deaths and misery; is beautifully captured. The author has also described the principles of demand and supply (availability of farm laborers and their wages) and capitalization (large corporates controlling farm produces and in turn, making small farmers broke) in a very simple way. He even writes the conversations exactly the way an Oklahoma farmer would speak - somepin for something, purty for pretty, ast for ask .. and such like :)

It definitely is a great read if one is not looking for a they-lived-happily-ever-after kind of a story.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Poetry in Stone - Belur & Halebid Temples

Having heard about the magnificent carvings at Belur and Halebid temples from all my friends, I jumped at the opportunity when my team at work decided to head to these places last Saturday. The fact that the place is only about 4 hrs' drive away and this is the perfect season to visit added to the temptation. So all 12 of us started on the journey in a minibus at 6.15 AM. One of the girls from the team, Gisha, even took the pains of preparing & bringing hot sandwiches for all of us (our breakfast-on-the-go)! The drive was very scenic with acres of corn fields on both sides of the road and patches of marigold plantations.
First we reached Belur, which is about 200 kms away from Bangalore and has the famous Chenakeshava temple constructed in 1117 AD by kings of Hoysala dynasty. The construction spanned over 103 years! The carvings on these temples are so intricate that one can even see fine lines on palms and toes of the statues. Apart from religious figures, the chief attraction are the 42 dancing ladies (or madanikas). The expressions on their faces, each hair strand and delicate filigree work of their jewelry looks stunningly real. The earrings, bangles and anklets of some of the figures even rotate! All the carvings are on soapstone (or steatite), which is softer in the beginning and grows hard with time.
After spending about 2 hours at Belur and tucking in a sumptuous lunch, we headed towards Halebid. It is located 16 kms away from Belur and boasts of an equally beautifully embellished temple of Shiva called Hoysaleshwara temple, constructed in 1120 AD. The temple also has a huge statue of Bahubali in its premises and the figures inside the temple and on its outside walls depict social and mythological characters of those times. The Halebid temple had manicured lawns surrounding it giving it a cool serene look.

The last stop of our trip was Gorur dam - built on Hemavathy river and located about 60 kms from Hassan. Two of the dam's gates were opened to release excess water. The sight and sound of water was very relaxing. We started on our journey back to Bangalore soon after that and got home after midnight. Each one of us having cherished the trip. We would all look back fondly at the time we had spent admiring the myriad handiwork of artisans from centuries ago...

Pictures taken by: Senthil, Nikhil & Anbu

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Wedding .. Indian Style

An Indian wedding without a dash of color? The shiny red & gold dresses and glittering jewelry? Naaaah! So, we had Sangeet on the wedding eve - totally Indian style. Loads of color, naach-gaana, Bollywood music .. the works :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monsoon Wedding ... in Goa

The much-awaited wedding finally happened on July 11th. A wedding in our family after more than a decade! Vandana and Colin finally decided to say 'I do' in the magificent Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. Vandana looked resplendent in her bridal finery and Colin a perfect gentleman. It truly amazes me to think that until few years ago my little sister thought that getting married was the stupidest thing a girl can do to herself :). I am glad Colin managed to change her mind.

I wish their honeymoon never ends ....

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weather or not ...

Another reason I love Bangalore .. when I check the weather forecast of this week for Bangalore

... and then for Delhi

I'm glad I live in the former!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Let us all pray for rains (?!?)

So we all know by now that poor rains are expected this monsoon. Karnataka will be badly hit, too. So much so that some of the areas are expected to be draught hit. And what does the chief minister of the state have to say to this? No, I am not kidding, this is exactly what he has to say - I have faith in God. I hope there will be good rains. Let us all pray for rains.

But this doesn't come as a surprise .. especially since we have already heard this.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Like a Zombie

The past couple of weeks at work have been the most stressful in recent times ... with lot of urgent and important work coming together at the same time (and that urgent and important sure sounds like Covey's four-quadrant matrix thing). I lost track of days, dates and time .. so much so that today I was almost convinced that 11th May was yesterday and not a week ago! Missed (and mixed up the dates of) the play I had been so looking forward to for months. My almost regular workout in the gym feels like a distant event in past life. The newspapers are piling up unread. I haven't contributed a thing for an upcoming big family event. I have been looking and feeling like a zombie for a while now.

The good thing is ... hopefully it is over now and tomorrow is another day!

Picture courtesy:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

After The Sunset ...

.. as seen from my room's window.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Drums beating in my head

Yes, that's what I am hearing right now. It is past midnight (1.15 AM to be precise) and there are loud drums being beaten by dozens of people in the adjacent neighborhood. This is the second consecutive day when we (this we is a huge number - about 600 odd families in my apartment complex and few more hundred in the vicinity) have been subjected to these drum beats till late in the night (around 2 AM or later) and it starts again early morning (7 AM or so). Apparently this is a Hindu festival which involves a procession where people dance to these drum beats in front of the temple and adjacent areas. The noise levels are so high that I can hear it loud and clear in spite of closing all doors and windows in my home facing that side. On asking my building security personnel if they could do something about it, I was told that since it is a religious festival they cannot intervene. Also, that this festival will get over only by tomorrow midnight. Should I complain to the police then, I asked? I was told - it won't help, as there are quite a few cops already present to oversee the festival.

This is not the first time I am being exposed to such high levels of noise pollution. During Durga Puja/Navratras, it is at its worst. I looked up the laws in India against noise pollution on websites here and here and found out that as per the Indian law, in residential areas the allowable limit of sound during day time (6 AM to 10 PM) is 55 decibels and that during night time (10 PM to 6 AM) is 45 decibels. I have no means of measuring how many decibels is this noise right now, but I can definitely say that this is a residential area and it is night time. The throbbing ache in my head tells me that the noise is greater than 45 dB. I also have a strong feeling that the Gods and Goddesses whom these people are trying to please are most likely not hearing these drums. So why are we being subjected to this? And more importantly, why religion is considered above law?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I have voted, have you?

Yes, I did manage to cast my vote (my first time ever) today morning. The polling booth was in a college right across the street from my apartment complex. We went around 7.45 AM to avoid crowds and the exercise took hardly 15 minutes. But of course there was a bit of drama - when I saw the voting machine & read all the names listed, I didn't find the name of the candidate who I had zeroed upon (after doing research through this very helpful website - Or for that matter names of any of the main candidates for Bangalore South. I must have appeared quite confused because the poll official told me twice - Press the blue button, madam. But the real question I had was - against whose name?? So I asked them - Why are the names of Bangalore South candidates not listed here? They told me that my Assembly Constituency is Bangalore South (#176) but my Parliamentary Constituency is Bangalore Rural. And all candidates from Bangalore Rural were indeed listed there. Why on earth do they have the same name for assembly and parliamentary constituencies!!! So much for all my research :(

Anyway, at least this time I made a progress from being a chronic non-voter. I wasn't very sure of inclusion of my name in the electoral rolls after submitting my application so late in the game. But fortunately things fell into place for me. Also, I saw a lot of awareness among the usually indifferent middle class - partly due to the awareness campaigns like Jaago Re, Lead India (and its antithesis Bleed India) and partly because we are tired of who we get as so-called leaders and in turn the country we live in. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a better India ..

Saturday, April 11, 2009

TV Tales

I am not a TV person. I can live without watching any TV for weeks. When I say TV, I actually mean TV series, reality/talk shows or even TV news. The only TV I watch is when I have to catch a film (even that is quite a painful indulgence with all these hour long commercial breaks!!). And well, I wasn't entirely truthful when I said I don't watch TV series - I still watch Sex and the City and Friends every time. This, in spite of owning all seasons of both of them on DVD! Anyway, since I mostly watch movie channels, it was interesting to see that many of the movie channels have started showing subtitles for the past 2-3 months. I found it interesting, but soon realized that there was one hell of an editing going on in these subtitles. So every time someone says fuck or shit in the movie, it conveniently becomes darn or crap (depending on the context) in the subtitle. Ass becomes behind (for god's sake, behind?!!?) and words like sex, gay or lesbian completely disappear. What's the rationale here - we can hear these words but can't read them? What exactly are these people trying to do? Oh wait, I already know the answer - preserve Indian culture, right?

Recently I have discovered that 9X channel shows old-ish (mostly 60's through 80's) Hindi film songs from 10.30 PM to midnight almost everyday. The program is cheesily titled Chandni Raatein but I can live with that. The songs are such a welcome change from the repetitive songs/visuals of new releases every other channel seems to be airing all the time. The good thing about these songs is they bring back memories from the past especially when my sister and I watch them together. Like songs from Aa Gale Lag Ja remind us of how Sharmila Tagore saved Shashi Kapoor's life by providing him body heat and got herself pregnant in the process :). Baton Baton Mein is a reminder of how I so liked Tina Munim's dresses in the film and had sketched her red and white stripes dress for our tailor to copy it. Then there are some songs that remind me of hostel days - aajkal paaon zameen par and pal pal dil ke paas used to be the favorite of those who had just fallen in love whereas karvatein badalte rahe and tumhein yaad karte karte were of those longing for their love...
Image courtesy:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are you observing Earth Hour this Saturday?

This year's Earth Hour will be observed this Saturday, 28th March from 8.30 PM to 9.30 PM IST. All that needs to be done during this hour is to keep the lights and other electrical appliances switched off during this hour - at home, work place ... wherever possible. This would be our little contribution towards controlling global warming. I have signed up for it, so can you - here (for people in India) and here (for everywhere else). More information on earth hour is available here.

During this hour I am planning to have a candle-lit dinner on my balcony, what are your plans?

Update (28th Mar'09, 9.45 PM): The Earth Hour is officially over; I haven't switched on the lights in my home yet. I was on the roads for most part of this hour, so the candle-lit dinner did not happen. But I was glad to see many commercial and residential buildings in the city with minimal lighting - including my own apartment complex. None of the campus lighting (there are around 300/400 of them!) were switched on during this hour. Way to go, Bangalore!

Picture courtesy

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Holi .. Then and Now

Holi has always been my favorite celebration - mainly because it does not involve any religious rituals and secondly because you can play colors and have fun with complete strangers. This is exactly what we did this year at Colin's apartment. Since offices were open here in Bangalore on the day of Holi (11th March), the celebrations were held on the weekend prior to it - the 8th. And no one was complaining as long as it was fun. It was a fun Holi - playing with gulaal, being splashed with buckets full of water, dancing in groups to the tune of marjaani & desi girl, couple of breezers, hours of scrubbing ourseleves clean followed by poolside lunch with other residents.

The last Holi I had celebrated prior to this 3 years ago - I don't even remember what I was doing during Holi in the 2 years in-between! But the other Holi was equally fun which I had celebrated with Rohit, Neha & Chitta and which we played inside my house . We used everthing in sight - colors, ketchup, green & red chutneys and had turned the floor of my home into a slush of indistinguishable color.

All of us later scrubbed the floors for 2 hours, finishing two bottles of cleaning liquid and leaving the house cleaner than it originally was!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The First Step

All these years I have been one of those people who keep complaining about the system failure in India, about corruption and general apathy everywhere, about corrupt politicians and public servants. I have also been one of those people who have never voted in their entire life; to be precise about me - even after turning 18 over 15 years ago. The excuses (I thought of them as genuine reasons at that time, but in hindsight they really seem only excuses) I have had for not getting myself registered as a voter were many - I kept moving from one place to the other quite frequently (initially due to my dad's job and later due to my own studies and job), I was not home when the electoral staff came to enroll , the thought that all politicians are corrupt and what difference it would make if I have to choose between many bad candidates, and above all my phobia of government offices - I try to avoid going there unless it is absolutely necessary.

But the recent happenings in and around my beloved city Bangalore have made me sit up and introspect. Do we really deserve the kind of roads/drains/infrastructure (or the lack of them) that we have today? Do we, especially women, need to be told by some goon in the garb of a saviour of Indian culture what I should/should not wear or drink/not drink? Do people need to be arrested and kept in jail for days when their only crime was to go to a party to unwind? I definitely don't think so. And I definitely don't deserve a leader or head of state/country who does nothing except making long speeches, make empty promises and acquire wealth in kickbacks for the duration he/his party is in power.

So, as a first step - I submitted Form 6 at the electoral registration office to get enrolled as a voter. Even this small process wasn't very easy, but I managed to do it after making 2 rounds of the office (as we had not carried the address proof documents the first time). I hope they finish the rest of the formalities in time for me to vote in the upcoming general elections. And I promise to myself that I will always vote in future for the right candidate - by making an informed decision and without any bias. I also promise that I will never vote for a person with criminal background.
I have taken a small step towards being a responsible citizen of India today, and I feel happy about it. I sincerely wish I had done this many years ago ..

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To Wayanad and Back

So we did make it to Wayanad after all, in spite of some glitches - we left around noon instead of the original plan of early morning. The drive to Mysore was much shorter than we had anticipated; thanks to the new NICE road. We had planned to take the route Bangalore - Mysore - Nanjangud - Gundulpet - Maddur - Sultan Bathery - Kalpetta - Chundale. When we were driving through Bandipur forest just before Karnataka-Kerala border the landscape looked extremely dry. The trees were standing leafless and the ground underneath seemed parched.

But the landscape changed drastically after entering Kerala - coconut and banana groves, beautiful palatial houses even in the smallest towns, winding roads. Two things that stood out were these houses - in all kinds of color (canary yellow, sea green, orange, peach, pink, lilac/lavender, many shades of blue) and the huge number of gold shops in each town .. it appeared to me that every fourth shop in each town center was a gold shop!! What took our breath away was the magnificent homestay Serenity where we spent the next two days in utter bliss. Nestled quietly in the midst of 60 acres of coffee plantation 6 kilometers off Chundale main road , this 200 years old rustic house offered us all we could wish for ... and more!

Its rustic ambiance and earthy interiors were so refreshing, we forgot all about our the 7-hour long journey and got ready to eat & drink around the bonfire that our wonderful host Reji had kept ready for us. We called it a night around 2 AM after gulping many breezers and tucking in a sumptuous Kerala meal.
We woke up next morning to some not-so-familiar sounds of birds like wild hen, crane, kingfisher & woodpecker and decided to explore the coffee plantation. It was a misty morning indeed and Vandana was all geared to battle it :). Thene there were coffee blooms, pepper creepers, touch-me-nots, palm trees etc.
After a heavy breakfast of pootu and curry, we headed to Banasura dam about 30kms away. It is the largest earth dam in India. On our way, we stopped for some photos at the tea gardens adjacent to our coffee plantation. After a 1 hr drive, thirty minute wait and a 20 minute speedboat ride in the dam, we were already itching to go back to our welcoming abode. We decided to leave in the evening for View point about 10 kms away from our home to capture the sunset. We never managed to make it as we slept like logs till 7.30 PM and it was already getting dark.
And Reji, our host, had a surprise ready for us when we woke up - barbecue!! More breezers and food followed - dinner special was Kerala Parotta with Chettinad Chicken/veg curry. Yummm!! We kept eating and drinking around the bonfire until we could feel the wetness of mist on our hair.
We planned to go to Edakkal caves the next morning on our way back to Bangalore. In the morning we decided to explore a different trail and ended up discovering a temple and some tribal houses in the plantation. By the time we got ready after having mouth-watering appams, it was almost noon. We had to drop the idea of Edakkal caves in the interest of time and had to leave for Bangalore. But I don't regret it as this will give us a reason to go back to this amazing place again and do rest of the things next time around.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wayanad Blues

So we are heading to Wayanad tomorrow morning. This is one trip which we did not know of until 3 days ago. We have gone back and forth at least 4 times to decide if we are actually going or not. The list of people who are/were supposed to go has changed thrice. I had to choose between the Aero Show and Wayanad this weekend and I chose the latter (with a heavy heart of course). I have submitted, cancelled and re-submitted my leave application earlier today.

Our plan of leaving at 3 in the afternoon changed to morning 10 making me do the most important pre-travel things like painting toe-nails, coloring the hair at 11 PM tonight instead of tomorrow morning. Of course my not doing this before 11 PM has nothing to do with the 3 or more hours I spent reading random blogs and watching random videos on youtube.

Just when I thought things were finally falling into place, my sister realized that she had forgotten all about arranging for someone to take care of our pet birds while we are gone. The solution - either she stays back to take care of the birds & rest of us will go OR we will cancel the trip and she will buy me the Aero Show tickets! Hello?? Whatever happened to the good friends who could pet-sit? I had started debating in my head whether to go back to work tomorrow (I had even written an 'I-am-going-to-be-away-for-a-day' message to everyone for the first time in my life!!) or stay home and just do nothing. Miraculously, some angelic friends did materialize around midnight to pet-sit our birds and we seemed to be back on plan.

But not yet, my sister suddenly felt that she needed to take only a certain bag and nothing else. All our baits of offering other (and definitely better) bags have gone in vain. She is still standing on the Batla ladder rummaging through lofts of all rooms looking for that precious bag while I type this. Hopefully she will find something by tomorrow morning. As for me, I haven't even started packing but that's what the morning is for. Now that I have painted my toe-nails and colored my hair besides having decided which sunglasses and cap to carry, I guess half my work is already done, no? :)

Picture courtesy:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Solar Eclipse = Govt Sponsored Pooja

There is a partial solar eclipse today afternoon and in India it will be visible in Southern India, the eastern coast, north-east, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadeep. Guess what the Karnataka government is doing to "ward off evil influences of the eclipse"? It has asked temples to perform special pooja after the eclipse.

That sure is a very proactive government, no? And what exactly is a government-run temple as mentioned in the TOI report?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

First they came...

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

- Martin Niemöller

This simple and haunting poem is amongst the most popular translated version of the German original written in the 1940s by anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller.