Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crazy Magic!

"I never felt magic crazy as this
I never saw moons knew the meaning of the sea
I never held emotion in the palm of my hand..." (OST:Serendipity)

A couple of days ago, as Nick Drake sung these in my ears I was passing through Bandipur National Park. Talk about perfect timing! And, this was middle of the night or rather early morning around 1-2 when the moon was still shining and the dawn had not set in. Hard to believe right? But, it is true! Thanks to my friend's good advice to catch the KSRTC Airavat from Bangalore to Ooty. (May I take a moment to say three cheers to KSRTC and three or more cheers to Airavat, volvo bus service. It has to be the most amazing road trips of my life till date).

One of those moments when you wish to be a poet or a brilliant writer just so you can articulate all the excitement, beauty and wonder you experience. But since such talents elude me, may I express in my simple, ordinary ways on what a fantastic journey it was. Please, please take the "trouble" to go to Bangalore,book an Airavat-AC volvo by KSRTC and go to Ooty.
I mean there is something surreal about passing a jungle in the middle of the night, where you don't see much, except for the dark silhouette of the trees and shrubs and the only wild life my untrained eyes could spot were the fire flies winking in the velvety darkness ( that last bit could have been stolen from some romance novel). I had taken Jr along and he was fast asleep. But I had to wake him up and tell him that we were in the middle of a forest and his sleep induced response was "oh cool". Well, it was cool--super cool in fact.

In case you are wondering what tempted me to take this journey?-Well, it wasn't a random act of romantic madness in me but rather a planned trip to visit a friend who lives in Kotagiri and works at an NGO there. She is also a fellow grad student back at the Uni. On reaching Ooty, early morning, my friend had sent a car to pick us up for the onward 45 mins road trip to gorgeous Kotagiri.
Early morning- Ooty to Kotagiri by road Tea gardens- Kotagiri
I wouldn't mind living and/or working here!

Front yard-- the yellow blooms, the stone bench and pear tree (not in pic) Absolutely gorgeous!
A small part of the house- charming is the word Our new best friend-The Wizard of Shalom- a.k.a Wiz Wiz! Such a sweet, friendly soul!
Breakfast time- Treasures from the Forest Freshly plucked pears from the backyard

My two days at Kotagiri had many highlights-. Cannot thank enough for my friend's gracious hospitality at her charming bungalow, where, besides spoiling us with lovely home cooked food, cozy rooms and warm blankets, there was plucking pears off the trees from the backyard,to forest treks, spotting wild life exclusive to WG/NBR,"green" shopping ( as in an outlet selling certified forest products from NBR and other forest ranges of India, by the NGO) and making new friends. NTFPs- Basket used for harvesting pepper Traditional stone lamp made by tribal folks from soft stones found in NBR Forest trek highlights- Spotted the giant Malabar Squirrel Found these bear claw marks on a treeAnd!- Leopard pug marks! Not sure how fresh these were but every inch forward since then was pretty scary (chicken!) and exciting to me.

Frankly I did not want to leave but all good things come to an end ( rather quickly in my case) and we left. The return journey was to Mettupalayam-Coimbatore by road and then from Coimbatore to EKM by train. Long since I traveled ordinary sleeper class and that was fun too except for the fact that it stopped at platform number 2 at Ekm and I had to lug my bags up the bridge to get to the other side. Painfully reminds you of your growing age and deteriorating physical condition. ugh!

Anyways--lots to dream about so more later. (Would love to share more pictures but w/ a lousy internet connection at the moment, not going to. Perhaps later).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meghamalhar

No, this post has nothing to do with the classical raga or the movie but just another one of my rambling post with a "fancy" yet suitable-in-a-small-way-title.


At home enjoying the rains. The pictures really don't do justice to the real deal. It's as if the rain gods are having a rave party and don't want to stop.

The garage is flooded, mom's garden plants are droopy and heavy with water, nobody is in the mood to do much, except drink endless cups of tea and munch on jackfruit chips and hot "chakka ada".

Except, I made plans for today morning to visit some friends. But mom ,aunt and others (collectively) said NO! "as the roads will be flooded and too dangerous not to mention the traffic congestion and road blocks and delays". Well , luckily I am feeling a bit lazy else nobody could have stopped me. Not because I am the disobedient type but because it is hard to wait for the clouds to clear before venturing out when we are smack in the middle of the monsoons here. I am always a bit surprised when mallu folks use rains as an excuse for postponing plans. Shouldn't we have evolved with water and lightening resistant skin by now?!Hmmm....oh well, please don't pay attention to my unintelligent banter folks. It does get dangerous to be out especially if there is lightening and thunder which was the case yesterday evening.

Rains or no rains, I managed to squeeze in some traveling, a bit locally but mostly out of state. Was in Chennai for a day, where the weather gods appeared to be seriously pissed off. How else can one explain the ridiculous heat and humidity! Clearly I survived, a million thanks to whoever invented air conditioning. Global warming took a back seat and my carbon footprint may have spiked to unpardonable levels but I did not care. However , sitting in a cool, cozy room at home with the rains lashing at us, I do feel a touch a guilt now.
After Chennai, it was off to Mumbai to meet a friend. She and I hung around Mumbai for a day and then from there off to Delhi. Delhi was another torture site. No humidity but so dry and hot, you feel tired within seconds. We were driven around in a comfortable car with air conditioning which struggled to keep us cool. It was only the endless amount of water we drank and all the shopping potential and excitement that Delhi Hut offered that kept us alive.
I don't normally jet set across the country every time I am here unless there is some work that needs to be done. So all this trip was mostly work and partly fun.

Anyhows, after Chennai and Delhi I am so glad Kerala is where home is. It is almost inappropriate how much I love this season. It does strange things to me-body, mind and soul. Boy do I sound mysterious or what?! :)


More monsoon updates later. Better still, come over folks and enjoy the monsoon magic in person!