This, that & Chikmagalur


Have spent a lot of time wondering if I’d really hit a writer’s block. Or if I was running out of stories to tell, or tidbits to share. Or if life had become less eventful, or if I have been really that busy. Well, turns out that I have been a bit blog-lazy.

Well, trying to break out of the slumber with a few updates:

My boys turned 11 and 4 this summer. Vyas had his Upanayanam last month. Thoroughly enjoyed all the festivities surrounding this event, with most of the near and dear ones attending. Vyas had agreed to get it done and seemed to enjoy the attention.Looked like a painting of Vamana avatar:) He was a little irritable at the way his dhoti was tightly wound, making it difficult for him to sit, and the garland had some tiny twigs that kept pricking him. During the entire event, I caught sight of Varun twice. Several people, and several things kept him busy. Good for me.

Varun transitioned to L.K.G and is convinced that he really is a big boy, what with uniform and all that. Was more than excited the first two days and woke up before the rest of the household did. On day three, he woke up and wondered if kids really went to school every day, and why he had no holidays, followed by a major show-down. So much for being a beeeeg boy. We counseled him for like 38 hours about how he had attended just two days, and there was another 200 days to go! Phew! So, every work-day evening, I’ve set up a reminder on my mobile to remind the fellow that the next day is a working day too and how he has to wake up with a happy face and go to school still sporting a happy face. Our Mondays now begin with a count-down for the weekend to follow!

Vyas seems to have grown a bit wider and so has his mouth, though a few assure me that he has also grown an inch taller. Well, haven’t bothered to measure. He is thoroughly enjoying dragging his dad into doing Sandhyavandhanam every day. The sonny and I do a secret high-five before and after the task. Evil we ARE.

A trip to Chikmagalur with my friends was another awesome thing to happen this summer. If you are planning a trip, you must give Eagle Eye Holidays resort a try. It is 50kms off Chikmagalur town with very little human presence other than the resort folks and those visiting. A welcome thing. The food served there was nothing great, but just good enough. It was great hiking up the Mullayanagiri peak, and trekking our way down and up through a winding path to Jerry Falls, another trek to a view point from the resort- the other side of Bhadra reserve, and a plantation walk.. The campfire with barbeque and mindless dancing on all the 3 nights we stayed there was enjoyable..

The best experience however was that of taking an open jeep ride to the Bhadra reserve for a safari. Just as we hit the forest entrance, the skies opened up and it poured like there was no tomorrow! We were a group of 11 women and 9 kids. We took shelter in the verandah of what looked like a guest-house. The rains showed no signs of relenting even after an hour of waiting it out. It was already 5 in the evening and a forest guide dissuaded us from proceeding because the animals would have receded and also because it was an open jeep and as it continued to pour heavily, there was no way we could take the kids inside. We decided to head back to the resort and so tied a tarpaulin over the open side in the jeep. We managed to pack 4 small kids on to an adult’s lap in the front which had cover. Despite the tarpaulin cover, the water was seeping in and it was chill. Two from the gang were thoroughly drenched. I’d give anything to experience the jeep ride again!

While I go back and retrieve more stories, here are some pics from the trip. Also, let me know what you all have been up to. I don’t know what you did last summer ūüėČ

Poovar


This post is long due..

Our annual ‘magalir-mattum’ trip last May was to Poovar. We had booked the Poovar Island Resort (Club Mahindra) and it was worth every penny.. The stay, the ambiance and the food was excellent! Most of our time was spent soaking in the pool and hogging the food like starved pigs:) The resort provides a back-water cruise and there is access to the beach.. Poovar is for people whose idea of a perfect holiday is plenty of food, sleep, pool and books:) Floating cottages are not provided for folks with small kids.. So we had to opt for land cottages which were equally great!

We made the most of our stay at the resort and also visited the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary.. Again, the lake is worth a visit, but the sanctuary is a big disappointment.. You’ll find close to half-a-dozen lions, all malnutrition-ed, and its highly likely that you’ll mistake them for huge dogs.. And all the lion/lionesses wear a very bored look and they look far from wild:) Another part of the sanctuary is marked for crocodiles.. Again, its a tiny fraction of our very own croc-park in Chennai and OMR. The place stinks and you can actually count the crocs!

Few pics from the trip:

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V.I.P – Uttarakhand Part??


The previous parts:

Part 1: A trip to Uttarakhand
Part 2: A trip to Uttarakhand
Part 3: Lake? What lake?
Part 4: Naini Devi was Kind

Delhi and back.

What do you make of honeymooners, single youngsters etc if you see them use up 3 or 4 seats together to sleep in the waiting rooms of railway stations when there are other people with kids, elderly people etc standing or sitting on the floors for lack of chairs? There was this guy who quite romantically kept stroking his bride’s hair (who was trying to have a cozy snooze on his lap) in the waiting hall and ensured every soul there got to see how much he loved his wife!! She, for a moment opened her eyes, saw me carrying varun, Vyas carrying a heavy back-pack besides another small luggage and there were few others. And she promptly resumed her sleep!! There was another family that had lined up their luggage onto 4 chairs and even before I asked, one lady in that group told me that they had a reservation. Did she think I didn’t? No idea! Another girl, must have been around 20, had two chairs empty next to hers and said it was reserved for her dad! Surprising how certain patterns just don’t change through out India- be it in Kerala or Kathgodam!

We were content settling down on the floor and I got busy peeling oranges for Varun while the other 2 went to get some dinner. I think we dozed off the moment we were on the train for I don’t remember much of what happened on the journey to Delhi. Headed back to my friend’s house (it was 5.00 AM) who wouldn’t hear of any excuses about letting us stay somewhere close to the station as we had to take the evening’s train to Chennai.

There still was this one important visit pending… After a quick nap and wash, the hubby, Varun and I went to meet this wonderful woman with, to quote PV, “A bright smile, the only visible indicator of her incredible achievement -a glorious example of the perseverance of the human spirit“. Not for one moment did we feel that we were meeting someone for the first time! It was a warm 30 mins with her, mostly spent talking about several things, including Tamilnadu elections:).. Varun held on to her finger and asked to be led throughout the house hunting for toys and kept threatening to pull down things from racks.. . Bunnu’s toy train came handy and the fellow was busy for a while.. If PV is chocolate, Aunty is mother of chocolates:) We extracted a promise from her to visit us at Chennai and bid adios.

Geetha and I had one more job to do- go shopping.. Her hubby took us to her fav Kurtis shop while mine offered to stay home as his presence would not be conducive for shopping;). Did a quick shopping, resisting mass buying.. Everything on the shelf looked good:) But then, I was not aware of the hefty bonus credited to my account by my employer:( . An opportunity lost. Have vowed to make up for it.. Barely had time to stuff the shopping bags into the luggage and make it to the railway station. To think that 9 days had vaporized in a second… sigh!!!!

Little did I know that the journey back home would give a story I’d keep telling over and over again!!!

Part 6: Delhi to Chennai- Kabuliwala
Part 7: An end and a beginning

A trip to Uttarakhand – Part 1


Between a coffee-toffee decision of whether to head to Mussoorie or to Nainital, the older Vs decided to bunk a week of work and settled for a cocoa plan that combined both. Combining two weekends, we bid a temporary adieu to Chennai heat for 10 days to embrace a 40 deg C temp at Delhi for 2 days, a 30 deg C at Mussoorie and a surprisingly pleasant weather at Nainital. Nature conspired exactly on the day we left Chennai by sending out thunder and lightning, a good amount of rain, and a blessed weather that weekend while we were being reduced to a royal fry by Ra, the sun god, at Nai-Dilli.

Delhi

Despite the burning Delhi heat, we spent 2 cool days with my dear friend Geetha and her family. Its years since we both got to spend so much time together… Marriage does change a lot of things!

I had only two items on the agenda for Delhi – Geetha was one and another was meeting a V.I.P.

When the trip plan was being discussed, Vyas would butt in and insist that we show him the monuments in Delhi- the ones he’d studied about in his EVS lessons:) First on his agenda was the Qutub Minar and Rashtrapathi Bhavan, the Parliament House et al. The Vs, Geet, her ever generous hubby RR, and their two lovely kiddos, son aged 9, daughter aged 7, visited these places, besides the wonderful Rail Museum. It was a lovely experience climbing in and out of the heritage coaches and engines.. Our Maharajas had really lived life king-size!! This place is worth a visit and the kids had a lot of fun. They were excited on seeing a real Turntable which they’d all along seen only on TV in ThomasTank Engine show!

Visited the much talked about temple complex, Akshardham on day two in the late afternoon. It took nearly 4 hours to go around the place and sit through the history of Swami Narayan.. Good use of Robotics (audio- animatronics it seems- which to me is Greek) to trace the life and history of the child yogi – Nilkant who went on to become Swaminarayan. Just that Varun got scared in the mini-theatres there and kept saying, ‘polaam pa, polaam ma’.

Vyas found the show boring but liked a boat-ride taking us through the Vedic Civilization which is considered 10,000 yrs old. Did not bother to do any math to ascertain the age of that civilization after some interesting information on display there. Did you know our folks propounded gravitation theory even before Newton? I mean the scientists from the Vedic age.. Those of you who have visited this place would know. Well, that is a tall claim on display there. And we (I mean, they) were the first with the air crafts business and atomic theory too. I was hoping that Vyas would ask some questions but he was kind of distracted by too many models of too many people on either side of the boat, but made a special note of Sage Vyasa to check if he and the sage had anything in common besides the name;) When asked if he had any questions, he said, “Yes. can I have pop-corn once we go out?”. Period.

We were left with just the time needed for dinner before heading out to catch our train to Dehradhun.. and my meeting with the VIP did not happen on our way up.

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Related Posts:

Part 2: Chandni Chowk to China
Part 3: Lake? What lake?
Part 4: Naini Devi was Kind
Part 5: V.I.P
Part 6: Delhi to Chennai- Kabuliwala
Part 7: An end and a beginning

Destiny Farmstay – Ooty


It is a miniature heaven on earth. A short team trip and I’d dragged along my two attachments much against the appa’s wishes who had planned a private outing with the elder one! The kutties were royally pampered by every colleague on the trip and never for a moment did I regret taking them with me!

Vyas participated in almost every activity and never once turned to me for any kind of support. In fact he was acting like an adult instructing mommy to take away Varun as he was getting too close to the bon-fire and on another occasion reminding her not to let go off the little brother’s hand even for a moment in the railway station! Amma being the amma, gave him an earful and reminded him how important it is to mind one’s own business and how essential it is for a 9 yr old to act just that age! Ummmm… looks like the bird is ready to take flight from the nest..

He played cricket and other group games, trekked, walked long distances, enjoyed every minute of the trip, and helped me without a fuss. As always, on the day of our return, he wanted to time-travel to the day we reached the resort:)

Varun was soooper cooperative and the emergency baby-food that I’d carried was never used. Of course I carried oranges and he feasted on them! He was otherwise busy posing for cameras and got busy watching the ducks, rabbits, sheep, birds, riding a horse . “Naan ‘pissing’ panne” he says to explain that he went fishing!! The Vs being ardent Ahimsa-vaadhis, never caught a single fish. We waited for the fishes to come and chew away the bait that we so painstakingly put on the bait hook! Varun considered it a brilliant idea to turn the pond water murkey so you have trouble spotting a fish. So he religiously kept digging the fishing rod into the pond for nearly an hour. The Vs are sure that many in the group had put some quick-fix-glue with the bait, the only logical reason explaining how the same people kept catching the same set of fishes again and again and again and kept dropping them back into the pond!

I enjoyed a Tyroline-ride (which made Vyas jealous and Varun cry- ammaaaa pogaaadhe…. – kids were not allowed on this rope ride), good food, horse-ride, long walks, cozy stay, and two peaceful unhurried morning tea gazing at the 6.00AM Ooty Sun, in solitude,taking in every scene around me for a full 100 minutes!!

If you are planning a vacation to Ooty, Destiny Farmstay is worth a visit. You can also try Parsn Valley- an equally quiet and beautiful place. Both these places are a little off Ooty and helps you unwind! There isn’t much habitation for a few kms around both these places. So remember to carry a first-aid kit and some dry food if you are taking kids along.

Leaving you with some pics from the trip: courtesy friends! The trucks you see in the pictures are said to have been used in the Kargil war. The last 2 kms journey to this destination is on this vehicle. The resort folks provide a safe shed to park your vehicle and arrange to pick you up from this point. Regular vehicles will refuse to move on this no-road-only-rocks stretch. This is the only bit that scared Varun and every time he spotted the trucks he kept saying, “amma, lawwyeeele po aenndaa maa” (amma, let us not take the lorry!).

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Pollachi & Valparai


A four days trip to Pollachi and Valparai happened with some drama, thanks to the impending Ayodhya judgment! We heeded to Vyas’s advice of staying positive and went ahead with the trip. And whats more! We advanced the trip by a day as our original booking to Coimbatore was on the D-day!

A lovely trip it was. Just that Pollachi, in September, could have chosen to remain a little cooler. You’ll turn out as roasted peanuts if you venture out anywhere before 2.00PM. The weather changes dramatically after that and its like you are in Munnar or Valparai!

With my BIL and co-sis living there, we had a home to go and pitch a tent:) The day after the judgment, we all, BIL and co-sis included, scooted off to Valparai. We started in the afternoon and reached there in the evening. We went past Aliyar and Monkey Falls and planned on a halt for a bath in this splendid falls during our climb down from the mountains. There were quite a few ‘boochaandi’ stories of tigers leaping at you unexpectedly. Nothing exciting like that happened, much to the relief of my darling Tenali.

We stayed at a modest hotel close to the tiny town there and started early the next morning. When we set out to Valparai, the only thing we all were looking forward to was spotting at least one if not a herd of elephants. But it seems that the wood-elves heard us coming and warned every elephant, tiger, and leopard of our coming and they all stayed in-doors like nice kids!

Valparai was at its best; tolerably chill weather, green everywhere, no crowd, no noise- just perfect. There is a beautiful Balaji temple and Siddhi Vinayak temple hidden inside the secluded peaks in Mudis Estate- a sight to behold! We then set off to Neerar and Sholayar dams. Breathtaking! We spotted a huge brown mountain squirrel, few big mongoose, a couple of eagles and quite a lot of tiny, chirpy, colorful birds of which we never managed to click good pics. We were too lost in the moment to do anything:)

Filter coffee powder at Valparai is A-class. There is just one coffee-powder shop there and you must try it!

The retreat was equally enjoyable with a halt near a small water-fall and then at Monkey Falls for a dip. Vyas came out shivering like a wet crow and after a lot of fuss, changed into a dry pair of trousers in public;) His chief concern however was the monkeys. He was worried that the monkeys might carry away Varun mistaking him for a white monkey!! I had to remind the responsible anna that the ‘white monkey’ was clothed, and so there was no reason for panic..

The driver of the cab we’d hired, goofed up with the inter-state permit due to which we had to cut off Athirapalli and Guruvayoor from the original agenda… We intend to make another trip very soon, and Athirapalli is the top item on the list…

A few pics from the trip:

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The journey continues


Day-1 Account here

The only item on our agenda for Sunday, the Day 2, was to go boating at the Periyar lake. My limited ability to ‘paranyu-fy’ in Malayalam was not enough to get across our queries to the dumb (otherwise amiable) folks at the resort reception. One, we wanted to find out how easy/tough it was to get a ticket for boating, the timings etc, and another information I was dying to get was a jeep-safari at Gavi. This wildlife habitat sounded exotic on the web and was located around 40 kms away from our place of stay. There was another safari at Periyar reserve but priced too high. We were still game if the forest folks guaranteed spotting a tiger or two but that was not to be:) Without any pre-arrangement for Gavi (lack of proper contacts), we dropped it.

We woke up without a hurry and the kids had a blast once again at the pool! None of us adults carried a swim-wear which was mandatory to step into the pool (not to mention our immense water-talents, the adeptness with which we can walk in the waters unlike the tiny swimmers in the group, will make you want to forget what it is to swim:)

The breakfast this time had a little Kerala in it – the famous ‘steamed bananas’! We all ate ‘shamelessly’. Really. It was a part of our stay package and decided to make the most of it!! There was another important item on the agenda for Day 2. We had to make arrangements for the birthday celebration of 2 people in the group, one, a lady soon-to-be-married (on the same day), and another was for 4-year-old honey-bee Harish (the following day). We decided to celebrate both together on Sunday night as we had to check-out of the resort the following noon.

Soon after breakfast, a couple of us went out hunting for a good bakery that could bake a birthday cake by evening and found one. We placed an order for the cake, promising to collect at around 4.00 in the evening, and joined the others at the resort in 30 minutes.

Then off we went to the Tribal Village at Thekkady. We were hopeful of seeing a handful of ‘adhivasis’ and we did meet them. Only that they have turned modern:) A very good thing. So modern that we saw a Sun Direct dish on a thatched roof!! We would have nearly walked around 6 kms to and fro and again the kids did well! JC, the honey-bee’s mom somehow kept him distracted and ensured that he too walked the stretch.. Which is quite a task for a 4-year-old!

The guide was a friendly chap, a tribal himself in modern attire, educated, led us through the village, the wild flora (no fauna barring the buffalo basking in a murky pond under the sun and some birds), their huts built of bamboo and straw, and an elaborate account of the customs followed by the tribal. Each ‘house’ has another separate room attached for the women who stay isolated for 7 days during the ‘female-blues’! Why this national obsession with a woman’s menstrual cycle is something I’ve never been able to figure out! A casual question to the women on how the men of their tribe treat them was answered with a sigh, a groan and oh-these-men! reaction:) That by the way is a universal phenomenon isn’t it?:)) The dwellers here, farm, make bamboo/straw crafts, work in plantations, sell produce from their village etc for a living.

It appears that there are 7 tribal leaders who are the Panchayat equivalents. They decide on the right/wrong of the ‘tribal-affairs’. A man or a women cannot marry for 3 years if the spouse dies. They re-marry after the completion of 3 years during the tribal festival (which is once a year). Like the Egyptian mummies, they bury food, ornaments, clothes etc along with the dead- presumably for use during the life after death! The tenements, which were once in the deep jungles, have now moved more closer to the town. A tiger strays into their dwelling once in a while (not sure how true it is. maybe, maybe not!). At this, Vyas, the Tenali of our house, became very alert and there started a series of questions on tiger trails, the verification of tigers count, and how many of the1411 tigers were in this reserve etc. He found relief when the guide told him that the animal is virtually powerless in a human habitat and an encounter at that moment will not be very eventful!!

The government has provided a lot of aid to these people by way of school, occupation, basic housing/sanitation facility etc.. The modern-tribal women, clad mostly in nighties, posed for photographs and requested for a copy to be sent. The address is waiting in my hand bag for we are yet to print the hard copies. A lot of huffs and puffs and jackfruits-seeing later, we headed back to the dhaba for a packed meal! It was awesome.

After lunch, about 7 of us from the group took the local share-autos to check for boating tickets as we were told that KTDC issues only 2 tickets per person and that you need to fill-in a form with your name, address etc. These stringent measures is following the mishap last year at the lake. On reaching the forest check-post, we were told that the boating was full. We retreated to the resort and on our way back, booked tickets for a Kalari show at 6.00 PM that evening close to the resort.

It was around 3.30 PM and few caught up on some lost sleep. At 4.00, I left the kids at the pool and went out with another friend to fetch the cake, while another one watched over the kids. Off we went to fetch the cake, balloons, chocolates, candles, thread, and gifts and were back at 5.00. The elves were still soaking in the cool waters and making merry. After they showered and dressed, we all had tea/bournvita and waited for the others to join. The balloons were blown and kept ready in one of the rooms (It was supposed to be a secret and Vyas has a reputation for keeping it well! To him, a secret is something that can be shared in whispers or into someone’s ears just loud enough for anyone within 10 mts to hear!). And then we scooted to the Kalaripayattu show.

It was a wonderful show of martial arts using a sword and shield, free -hand, a long and short stick (thadi). All was well till a performer lit two ends of a stick wound in kerosene-doused cloth and lit them. He stored some of this fuel in his mouth and as he was wielding the stick he blowed some kerosene from his mouth sending up a ball of fire. ‘That is it!’ decided our man Vyas. And yelled, “What an idiotic stunt is this!”. Fortunately or unfortunately, the crowd did not hear him as they were too absorbed to notice. He was virtually in tears and had his palms covering his ears. “Ma, take me out of here. I don’t to watch this silly show”.¬† I tried convincing him that these were only stunts like the ones he saw on movies and the performers are trained well and nothing will happen. Just then, two fire rings were brought in and he knew a guy was going to jump through the ring. He got up from the seat saying the folks must be stupid to do something so silly and risk their lives for a show and I had to take him out. I felt it was not the time to tell him how wrong it is to call people silly, stupid or idiotic and let it go. He was scared out of his wits and was almost crying. I would have failed to make a point. Besides, something inside me felt he was right…

It had rained outside when we were watching the show, and the evening was beautifully chill. There wasn’t a single stagnate pool of water anywhere on the road. The earth had soaked up every drop of rain! We all gathered at the resort 15 minutes later, and celebrated the ‘twin birthday’. The cake under a lamp-shade in the courtyard with an open roof on top, surrounded by our rooms, was kinda romantic:) The birthday girl and the birthday boy cut the cake together, fed each other a piece and there was lot of chasing to smudge the icing on the b’day girl’s face. The cakes and starters served as appetizers. We were ravenous and headed-out to another dhaba we had discovered on our way to the bakery. Had a decent dinner, but the lassi was pathetic! No regrets though!

We all crashed and maybe snored after cleaning -up and packaging our baggage as it was a long day ahead. The alarm was set for 4.00 AM the following morning. We had to tick that one item on our agenda!! And that can wait for the next post! Till then, here are some pics from day-2..

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Its the journey, not the destination


Yet another magalir mattum (only-women) plus kiddos trip, this time to Thekkady. This time around, it was a coffee-toffee decision unlike the carefree Yelagiri trip. Should I join this time or not? If I do, will Varun go with me or stay behind? I know some mommies out there are ready to throw your daggers at me! Confining Varun to a couple of seats in the train, carrying him for the most part of the trip besides the travel bag, the fear of losing him in a crowd, the power to hold him back when he sees a lake or pool etc, were a few factors that I had to consider. The daddy pitched in here helping me make the decision. He thought the trip would do me good and so I should go with Vyas, and he, with the grandparents, would take care of Varun.

And so, Vyas and I joined my friends on this wonderful trip to Thekkady without Varun, my first stay away from the little one. I’m told, he was fantastic; ate, played, and slept without a fuss! Though I felt a little relieved, there was another side that was disappointed! My baby did not miss me? Felt like leaving for work the first day post the maternity break:) And counseled myself with – ‘No one is indispensable. Face it. You could stay away from your baby and so could he! Move on!’

The bookings were made nearly a couple of months back and none of us were sure if we will make it owing to official and personal priorities. Being a holiday season, we did not risk postponing the booking. We decided to cancel a couple of days before the journey date in case there is huge drop-out. A couple of friends dropped out at the last minute owing to sickness. Finally, we were 8 women and 6 kids (aged 11, 9, 8, 6, 5, and 4!) on the trip and a very fulfilling one at that!

We alighted at Dindugul junction and headed to Kumbakarai water falls. The original plan was to hit Suruli falls but dropped it as a friend who had visited a week earlier told that there wasn’t much water. Kumbakarai was a superb experience. What looked like a light fall from a distance, came with a huge thud on us. The kids got to take one more loooong dip at a stream leading to the fall. As it was shallow and safe, there was a lot of splashing and screaming!

Kumbakarai
Kumbakarai
Kumbakarai
Kumbakarai
Kumbakarai
Kumbakarai

After nearly an hour and a half at Kumbakarai, we were back on the road to Thekkady. The road was one long silk ribbon with a view of the Kodai hills at a distance.

Kodai Road
On our way to Thekkady
On our way to Thekkady
On our way to Thekkady

We reached the resort at 10.15 AM on a Saturday morning, parked our luggage, and had a sumptuous breakfast. A tad disappointed at the menu as there was nothing ‘Kerala’ in the breakfast menu:). Half-an-hour later, the kids were at the pool for yet another round of splashing and swimming. We had a hard time yanking them out of the pool:)

At the pool
At the pool
At the pool
At the pool

After refreshing, we visited a spice plantation at Kumily and the experience was enriching. Despite the hot afternoon, the kids walked without sulking. Vyas had to make a scrapbook of leaves collected over a nature walk as part of his holiday homework. This visit was a blessing and we collected the leaves from a few spice plants. There was this unique plantain tree in which the plantain flower and the plantains grow upwards, facing the sky! See this beauty!

At the spice plantation
At the spice plantation

There was another flower that resembled a golden fish! Here is the pic!

The fish-like flower
The fish-like flower

The lunch following the plantation visit was a disaster. We should have done at least a 10 minutes research instead of trusting the driver’s suggestion! Happens! Again, the kids did not fuss. We proceeded straight to the elephant ride. A few of us stayed back while most of the group hopped on to the elephant and took a 30 minutes ride into another plantation (there are quite a few plantations in Kumily-Thekkady). We were in time to catch the sight of an elephant being bathed.

Elephant ride
Elephant ride
Elephant bath
Elephant bath

We were back at the resort by 4.30. After some sandwiches, coffee and tea, we went to a Kathakali show where an artist enacted the ‘navarasas’, the nine different emotions expressed using the eyes. This was followed by two artists performing an episode from ‘Narakasuravadham’, depicting the killing of Nakrathudi, the demon (sister of Narakasura) by King Jayantha. The overall quality of the performance was okay only that Vyas jumped out of his skin towards the end when the slain demon really looked and bellowed like one!

Kathakali
Kathakali- Narakasuravadham
Kathakali- Narakasuravadham
Kathakali- Narakasuravadham

We discovered a nice Gujrathi/Marwadi dhaba just two blocks away from our resort and compensated for the poor lunch. Despite the splitting headache, we managed to gobble up hot panneer parathas, phulkas, yummy curries and lassi!

This was Day 1 of our rendezvous. More to follow!

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Day 2
Day 3
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Women’s Day Out at Yelagiri


Some laughed at us, few mocked at us, while some others sincerely dissuaded us. But we had made up our mind and were all set to make the trip. And what a lovely trip it was. The month of May is hot anywhere in South India and some ‘regulars’ told us that the weather at Yelagiri sucks big time during summer. The big idea was to ‘dump’ the men-folk (dads and spouses i mean) at home and have a get-away of our own. Not that anyone would have missed us. On the contrary, it must’ve been a break they were looking forward to, and we ladies were magnanimous enough to LET THEM BE:-) We were 6 ladies and 4 children in addition to a nice driver.

We had hired a Qualis and started very early on a Friday morning, carrying a light breakfast, plenty of water, some games and books for children, cameras, plenty of money, some medicines just in case..The Bangalore highway towards Vellore is like a neatly stretched-out ribbon. Our agenda had just one item, and that was to just chill out and enjoy. And that we did and after 2 full days of ‘peace’, returned home wishing that the trip had not ended!

One, the weather God pleasantly surprised us by being doubly nice and other folks back at work or home could hardly believe it was Yelagiri-in-May. Two, the resort was very homely and quiet, with very hospitable staff, and three, the food was simple and clean and they cooked based on what we ordered. This custom menu went well with the kids too and there was hardly a cranky moment. The only disappointment the children had was a strict NO-NO to their request to bathe in an artificial water-fall in a park. The water was not clean and was re-circulated. Children forget and forgive very soon and that makes them extra-sweet…

Our trip to Yelagiri
Yelagiri at its best
Here are a few pictures from our trip, clicked by the ace photographer from our group- Jyoti. She also doubled up (and still does) as the best friend of all the 4 chotus in the group! While a 2.5 yr old Harish kept asking his mom, JC, ‘amma, Jothi enge’, the then 5 yr old Vyas called to her saying “Jyoti and deepa! Why are you locked up in this room? Come lets play cricket. You will bowl and I shall bat”. Little Hemant and Diya discussed camera angles and other ‘grown-up’ stuff..

Let me know if you have seen Yelagiri like this! For those who had bitter experiences with this place, all we had to say was, “everything around nice people turns out nice:-)” and derived a lot of kick out of it:-)!!

PS: Was not able to embed the ppt. View it full screen..

Learning to Share..


The best place to learn about sharing your space with fellow humans is but a Share-auto. That is, among other things like optimum use of real estate, balancing act, patience, journeying with closed eyes, and of course experiencing cattle-class first-hand even before you board a flight.

I have no special fondness for the share-autos though, but at the same time do not dread them like my folks at home do. Its yet another convenient transport system operating between different points in Chennai besides the regular, popular Chennai autos, and ideal for short distances at a fair price. I do not mind using the service once in a while. A tactful auto driver neatly packs about 7 to 9 passengers into his vehicle and if you are one of them, you’ll be lucky to catch up on the roller-coaster ride that you missed the last time you went to a theme park. On a boring day, you’ll find just 5 or 6 passengers with a lot of leg-room and more zip-zap-zoom action.

Am one of the privileged users besides the famous PTC buses, and believe me, you are missing something if you have’nt tried a ride yet. Really. But what called for this post is an interesting auto-driver whom I met sometime back. I had the choice of waiting for another bus from where I alighted, or cover the distance by foot, or take a regular auto or a share auto. I got into a share-auto as the sky looked threatening and just stopped at that without an actual show of torrential rains it portended! And the regular autos were having a field day charging 2 times the usual fare, thanks to the weather. The auto had barely moved a few meters when we were stopped by two friendly traffic police. Yes, you got me right. They were on ‘duty’ and were ‘working’. The auto-man had violated the rule (which by the way is the norm!) by sharing his seat too with a passenger (the sharing lessons are for the drivers also..).

What ensued was interesting. The driver and the police engaged in an animated conversation for a couple of minutes, where the driver was trying to convince them and was willing to ‘let-go’ a passenger. Sincere that our system is, the police would hear none of it. The driver was requested to step out and fill in some ‘forms’. Read ‘harassment dressed as duty’. Just as I was contemplating on whether to wait for the process to get over or just look out for another bus or auto, I heard a police telling the driver to pay Rs.50/- and get moving or pay a fine of Rs.100/-. The driver promptly offered to pay the fine! Those of us watching this scene from within, were zapped! This must have upset the men in uniform for they were not making the process any easier and an intentional delay was quite obvious. The driver politely requested us to alight and take another vehicle. He was not embarrassed, not upset, and seemed to have a hold on the situation. I liked it. Not to say that such violations be allowed. But, his ‘No’ to bribe was a bold stand.

Long live such auto-wallahs! I wish the other small vendors selling food, flowers, toys etc follow suit and say NO to maamools. Now start sharing to learn…