Monday, June 25, 2012

Mr. Parker at the Parking Lot

I met a Mr. Parker in the ITPL parking lot who was in the process of parking his bike so as to block the exit for many other parked bikes. When I pointed this out to him, he said that for him to park his bike properly, they shouldn't have parked their bikes badly. I just got the time to ask him who he thought 'they' were, to which he just shrugged and walked away.

I smiled to myself. For the first time in this kind of a situation, my blood didn't boil. I didn't feel a wave of frustration hit me for not being able to do what I must. I just felt, I did the right thing, and I am fine.
Probably, I am coming to terms with reality without growing cynical. Tomorrow, if I meet another Mr. Parker at the parking, I will probably say the same thing, and won't feel frustrated and humiliated if he just walks away pretending not to care. I feel it's a great victory!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Weekend in Wayanad

Last weekend, we travelled to Wayanad. I just want to jot down a few highlights of this very memorable trip.
On our way to Wayanad

We were lucky in more than a way. As per weather forecasts, it was already time for the monsoon to have arrived there. This would mean a difficult drive, and a more or less indoor time there as monsoon rains in Kerala means downpour that makes it impossible to venture outdoors and have fun. We (particularly I) aren't great outdoor enthusiasts anyway. We were OK with the idea of simply lazing around indoors. Sipping at tea and staring at the rain wasn't a depressing idea for me at all. So, we took the risk. However, monsoon got delayed by those many days; we got our share of outdoor fun.

While going, we chose the following route: Bangalore-Mysore-Hunsoor-Nagarhoil-Kutta-Kartikulam-Varnam.
While returning, we chose the following route: Varnam-Kabini-Mysore-Bangalore.

Wild Elephant sited
While going, we started early in the morning, 5 AM. It took us about 7 and a half hours to reach Varnam, inclusive of all our breaks. While coming, we travelled during the day, drove across Mysore, and hit Bangalore when the office traffic was peaking. This added about an hour and a half to our journey. Moreover, a 15 km stretch near Kabini is very broken. Unless you have a big vehicle, it's good not to try this route. It was a mistake for us!

Both ways, we passed through Rajiv Gandhi Reserve Forest. We were rewarded with sightings of deers, monkeys and wild elephants.

Places we saw

Thirunelli Temple. Supposed to be very ancient temple located in the midst of mountains of Brahmagiri. The trip was enjoyable due to many other factors than the temple itself: the beautiful scenaries around, the pleasant weather, the walk down to the Paapnashini river, and of course the drive itself.

On the Way to Paanashini river
A word of caution for non-hindus. No entry for you into the temple premises! Also, to those males who aren't particularly comfortable showing off their bare torsos. To enter the main chamber of the temple, you must take off your shirt and undershirt. I was neither curious enough to see the diety nor brave enough to expose myself to the chill in the air to venture that. So, if you wish to know what was there in the main chamber, ask Shilpi.

I have found the custom of disallowing visitors on the basis of their community still being practiced in certain temples in India in general and in Kerala in particular. This is not at all forward looking. Had I not sighted that board asking non-Hindus to stay out, my enthusiasm in admiring the heritage status of the temple would have been far higher.

Entrance to Iruppu Falls
Iruppu Falls. Must say it was a beautiful water fall. The glory is subdued at that particular part of the year though. The walk up to the spot is about a kilometre. Not for you unless you enjoy at least a modest level of fitness. Also, while walking up (and down) it's a good idea to keep close the middle of the pathway. The place is infested with leeches. I saw at least 2 people doing blood donation to the parasites. But just in case that sounds fearsome, rest assured. Leeches can cause you no grievous harm. It's just the sight of blood and the repulsive idea of bloodsucking which sounds bad. Otherwise, you needn't worry too much about them.

Raft Ferrying People to/from Kuruvadweep
Kuruva island. It's a small delta on the Kabini river where some local tribes inhabit. You take this raft to the island, walk around a bit and enjoy yourself. We couldn't do it as we reached there at about 3.45 PM, about 15 minutes too late to get the last raft ferrying people to and from the island.

Valmeekam Art Museum. Almost adjacent to the island is this nice cute art museum maintained by  some local people. In there are a bunch of interesting sculptures done in terracotta clay mostly depicting emotions related to love, family, sex, spirituality etc. I found them very expressive. A must visit for the artistically inclined.

Varnam Homestay

Varnam Homestay

Paddy Fields

Neighbouring Village House

About Wayanad, and about the spots listed above, you will get plenty to read on the Web. I think, where I can add meaningfully here is to tell you about Varnam, the homestay we spent our 2 days in. The place was highly recommended by one of my friends. We skipped all R and D and decided to go there. And now, I will highly recommend this place to you.

Neighbouring Scenic Beauty
All of Wayanad is green. So, it's probably redundant to say that Varnam is situated in the middle of greenery clad hills. There are excellent roads connecting it to wherever else you would like to go.  The place is full of all amenities that you would look for in search of a restful time out of your home. You could talk a walk to the nearby pa
ddy fields, or the villages around. Of course, if you are a person who expects room-services, heated swimming pools, pool tables and pubs, this isn't a place for you. But if you get delighted by the sight of a lovely courtyard surrounded by a many homegrown vegetation, rabbits, and cute domesticated dog; if a homely look and personal treatment is what soothes your nerves, then head straight to Varnam.

Varghese Family
But the most important aspect of Varnam is the family which runs it: Mr. Varghese runs Varnam from this place which once was his ancestral house. And Mrs. Beena Varghese who is there to make you comfortable in all ways: excellent food with a personal touch. Mr. Varghese is a police officer in the nearby town and interacting with him itself was rewarding in many ways. While he speaks, he draws from his vast experience of the rustic ways of local inhabitants, complemented with an interesting and tasteful awareness of very urban and globalised mannerisms. His personality exuded the simplicity, comeliness and candour of a village farmer on the one hand; and the sophistication of very well-exposed and learned individual on the other. My wife and I agreed that the family, in their 5 years of running the homestay which largely serves visitors from abroad, have expanded their knowledge about people with admirable sharpness. It was a joy interacting with the family while sharing our very sumptuous meals with them.

So, please visit Wayanad, and choose Varnam!

More photos here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Day the School Reopens

Today, Vigyan's school reopened. Shilpi and I went and dropped him at his school. On the way, there are many other schools. Most have reopened today. So, the roads of Whitefield were swarming with tiny-tots being escorted to their schools by their parents.

Curiosity and apprehension in their eyes: what a beautiful mix that is.

Some schools have introduced uniforms. The kids, all wear wonderfully colourful uniforms. Only kids would agree to wear such colours!

No wonder, my mind turns back to those golden years of childhood with a touch of fondness and nostalgia! Particularly to that day when school would open for the new session. Of course, my memory doesn't take me take far back (in fact, I started going to school only when I was 4.).

  • I remember how the school uniform used to be purposely a bit oversized in the beginning of the session so that they would last our growth till the end of the year.
  • Smells last longer in memory than sight and sound. The smell of the newly stitched clothes. The smell of the new books and notebooks! Most heavenly! The musty, dusty smell of a classroom opened after 2 months. The moist smell on the blackboard just wiped clean in the morning. Sometimes, the smell would be of paint. Black paint. The board would look pitch black, and the first chalk mark made by the teacher during the first period would leave a scar on my heart.
  • Our friends would all look a bit bigger. For the friendly interactions to come upto speed after the break would take a few minutes and no more.
  • The most intense feeling was about the contents of the new years curriculum. The new stories in the Hindi and English books. The intensity of my feeling when I graduated from arithmetic to algebra, linear equations, polynomials, proofs, congruence and similarity, trigonometry...Whether would we be able to live up to them!

Wonderful day!

What's your piece of memory related to the school reopening day?

Saturday, June 02, 2012

How Should We Dine at a Food Court?

The other day, we had our dinner in Phoenix Mall food court. Vigyan found a playmate in a similarly sized kid named 'Pepsi' whose parents (of course Panjabis; who could name their kid so interestingly) sat on an adjacent table. What a joy it was to see the 2 kids play! Their comfort and intimacy was like they had known each other for ever. When the dinner got over, we smiled at the other couple and came back. But the kids never even said bye! Vigyan never mentioned Pepsi after that.

We contemplated afterwards if we could imitate these kids sometime. Next time we go for dinner to a food court, could we just join another family regardless of whether we know them or not? Or may be we could invite them over to our table? Could we just chit chat about things we all love, never bothering to really judge each other? Could we share our food, time and thoughts without asking them who they are, where they stay, where they work, what they do etc.? And then, after finishing the dinner, could we just get up and go? No exchange of phone numbers, no visiting cards, no email id, no promises to find them out on the web. Just get up and go. And forget about them!

How would it be? I wonder!