Saturday, April 19, 2014

Naankandanthe - Film Review of Ulidavaru Kandanthe

Warning - Spoilers Ahead!!!

Once upon a time, Two bothers from our neighbourhood were one amongst the most feared people in the town. Everyone in the locality referred to them as rowdies. So to make it easy and no disrespect intended, lets call them "The rowdy brothers". Years rolled and many thrilling stories of their hassles and fights added to their credit. But one night all that changed. During an yearly fest in KREC (Karnataka Regional Engineering college) it is said that they had stabbed a man, after which, they were left with no other choice but to flee. One of the brothers went to Bombay and then, from there, flew to some gulf country. But the other remained in hiding until he was eventually caught. After several years, when I watched the film "Ulidavaru Kandanthe" it brought me back this story of the rowdy brothers. And perhaps thus, I could so easily relate to it. But if it weren't for my friend Sush, I would have never watched this film in the theatres.

We always joke about Sush being allergic to Indian films. If one made a mistake of dragging him to a Hindi film they would never repeat that mistake. On his return he would review the film in the most humiliating manner yet filled with a masterful wit and great sense of humour that those who had not watched it, preferred his witty version. So when I received his SMS at 11:15PM on a saturday night saying that he was in a theatre watching a brilliantly made Kannada film, I could only consider it as an extend version of the dream that I might have then been in. But apparently that was not true. He having watched the film before us was very surprising and totally unacceptable to everyone in the office. So some of the colleagues decided to watch the film that following weekend. I must say, that I truly enjoyed watching a Kannada film in a theatre after a very long time.

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I had watched Kannada film industry deteriorate from bad to worse. In an industry filled with same old love stories retold, pathetic gangster stories and heavy vulgarity, there were limited choice for people like me. For years, I found myself clinging on to the master pieces by Puttana Kenegal. Thanks to the brilliant films made by Girish Kasarvalli, I got a taste of good cinema now and then. But the options were limited to off beat films such as Dweepa, Gulabi Talkies and Vimukthi. It is only recently that with the success of Lucia, a new breed of commercial films have entered the industry and "Ulidavru Kandanthe" takes the trend forward. The story of this film is very simple but the way it is narrated is what makes it very interesting.

When a murder shocks the quiet town of Malpe in south canara, a journalist decides to report the events. But in her search for the truth, she is left with only bits and pieces of what others saw, and somewhere in their respective stories put together, lies the truth. The way the story unravels itself keeps the viewer at the edge of his seat yearning for more thrill and excitement. It is very rare to find a good script with an effective three act structure. Even with its creative narrative style, the film makes justice to every act. An effective use of a macguffin helps introduce the characters and build a plot around it. In this case the macguffin being the red bag that contains a valuable something. Several hints in the film prompt towards it being an idol of Lord Krishna. 

It is said that Sri Madhvacharya saved a few sailors from a treacherous storm and with them, found this beautiful idol of Lord Krishna covered in Gopi Chandana. It becomes impossible hence to not derive a correlation between the story behind the Udupi Krishna idol and the sentiments depicted in the film. It is believed that Devaki while expressing her sadness of not witnessing her son’s childhood requests Lord Krishna to provide a vision of his days as a child. While Kirshna grants the wish requested by his mother, his wife Rukmini creates this idol of him that later for some reason travels from Dwaraka to Udupi. So one cannot help referring the mother-son relationship in the film to that of Devaki and Krishna. Kids running away from home is not something that is unheard of in South Canara. Again my neighbourhood had witnessed one such similar story. One of the eight children of our muslim neighbours had ran away from house for being scolded by his father. He returned all grown up, married and with a son after 20 long years. The whole town came to watch the family reunion.

Furthermore, the macguffin seems to connect all the stories together. While the previous finding had brought wisdom and belief to the small town of Udupi; in this time of Kaliyuga, it had only brought death. This also hints at the social conditions of today as compared to the past, even in the presence of Democracy. The crow that follows Ballu would represent the messenger of death in this case which trails him since his finding of the macgugffin in the sea.  As children, Me and my cousins would spend the evenings at the beach looking for exotic shells that sailed to the shore. On one such evenings we saw a beautiful shell that was much different from the usual ones. Me and my cousin happened to see it at the same time and we jumped at it together. So we made a pact that the shell would remain with me for thirty years and then I would hand it over to her. Since our childhood we always believed that the waves brought something special with it. As kids or as adults, we always enjoyed our hangouts in the beach along with our friends just like Richi and his friends would in the film. 

But a film is never just a script. It’s much more than that and in this film one does not fail to notice the technical brilliance. I particularly loved the cinematography that played extensively with light and shadows; reminding me of the clair-obscur effect in some of the Renaissance art. Every actor did his job perfectly and gave a believable performance. But no one would deny that the most loveable character in the film is Richi who stays in your mind even after the movie has ended. For that, all the credit would go to Rakshit Shetty for not only etching such a nice grey shaded character but portraying it in a much believable manner.

Having seen the local goons in my neighbourhood it was very interesting to notice how much the body language, speech and attitude of Richi resembled that of theirs. You would see such characters in Mangalore and say "Aye malla punk ambe". While, there is also a tenderness and a mischievous touch to this character seen only when he is with his friends or the journalist. The rowdy brothers in our neighbourhood were a terror to the rest of the world but to people in our locality they were kind and generous. They behaved with humility with the women in our neighbourhood. My mother would not hesitate to ask them to carry back a few grocery while they returned from town, to which they obediently obliged. It makes me laugh now but perhaps most of us in our area felt safer in their presence. So having seen the two sides of the so called goons of our locality, it was so easy to see the transition in Richi’s character as he interacted with different people. 

But one of my favourite scenes from the film is when Richi kills his childhood friend and with eyes turned red, he describes his childhood in a line or two. In those few lines delivered effectively, one can feel the suffering and hatred that this character has experienced and perhaps still experiences. Coming of age is one of my all time favourite genres. Hence, most of my short stories revolve around kids or teenagers as this is the most sensitive time of our life; filled with many first's and surprises. How we experience our childhood and adolescence makes us what we are today. So to me, a touch of coming of age theme in the climax was more than a treat. But apart from being any other audience, I am also a Mangalorean and that made this viewing even more special.

What impressed me the most in the film was its beautiful depiction of Mangalore culture. South Canara would be as lively and colourful as shown in the film during the 10 days of Dasara and one would see people dressed as various mythological characters or a tiger or a lion or a bear. I enjoyed even the minute details such as depiction of rain drops falling from the huts with roofs made of coconut leafs that we call "chappara." The shot where, Tara sprinkles water on the grinding stone to start making the curry paste reminded me of my mother and grandmother doing the same every morning. The charcoal stove that we call "Valle" took me back in time. The scene where the mother offers Jaggery and water to her son reminded me of how my grandmother would offer that as a first thing to any guest who came home. In one scene, Richi uses several objects to hit a guy. One of those objects is a "Kothalige" - Stem of a coconut leaf. This scene made me grin for a reason very difficult to be explained. As kids we would play with these kothalige as swords or make cricket bats out of them and we would jokingly call it as "kothalingey." To use it as an object to hit someone, I found extremely humorous. And of course there were the languages from South Canara!

Friends helping each other with the itching. 

It is very interesting to notice that we speak around 6 different languages in South Canara but when we all meet, we speak Tulu. I was also happy to listen to Kundapura Kannada that is very close to the dialect that we speak at home (Kota Kannada). To listen to a full song in this language in the beautiful voice of Shreya Ghoshal was a treat. However, I felt that a bit more of Tulu would have enriched the experience. Today, I speak 5 different languages and I say without hesitation that among those, Tulu remains my most favourite language. While I lived in the US, I missed speaking in Tulu so much that I would call my friends in the east coast or in India just to speak the language. In spite of my immense liking for Mangalore culture and its breathtaking scenery, I also have my dislikes for some of the aspects of the same culture. 

Having witnessed two major communal riots in the late 90’s, I have disliked the way friends can turn against one another. Being born in a Brahmin family, I have witnessed extreme disparity between the castes. Not only between Brahmins and other castes but also amongst the other castes who have their own superiority and inferiority defined. During my later visits to Mangalore, I have witnessed a growing sense of possessiveness amongst certain people towards the language. One of the localites who overheard our conversation in a bus threatened my Bangalorean friend for talking loosely about learning Tulu. Another stranger to whom I requested to click our picture thanked me for speaking in Tulu that i found to be extremely weird. I sometimes dislike how we can get interferingly curious about others. However, it is also true that no matter what we feel about our hometown it is just so much a part of us that we can never detach from it. We carry the local flowers, vegetables and cuisine where ever we go. And for me, I notice a strong influence of South Canara culture in my paintings ( Bakthi  &  Nagamandala ) and my writings.

Being so passionate about cinema and viewing it critically, it is impossible to close this review without mentioning certain points that I felt could have been different. Coming from Mangalore, I could not help noticing the difference in tiger dance and colours. Mangalore and Udupi though share a similar culture, have some differences in the customs. The tiger costumes I have seen are more colourful than just yellow and orange. The dance is a bit more aggressive down south than the one shown in the film.

This always brings up a famous debate in South Canara between the two forms of Yakshagana - Thenkuthittu (Of South) and Badaguthittu (Of North). While Badaguthittu Yakshagana mainly popular in Udupi and North, is rich in its dance style and music; on the other hand, Thenkuthittu style of Yakshagana which is popular in Mangalore and South is much more colourful and aggressive. Me being an artist have always been attracted towards the fact that Thenkuttitu uses different costumes and makeup for every character. But these are just preferences based on what we have grown up watching.

Thenkuttitu - 

 Badaguthittu - 

I also felt that certain scenes could have been crispier. These scenes seemed to prolong beyond the point where the emotion had already been conveyed. Specially during the mother-son reunion and the Crow following Ballu. At times I noticed heavy use of music to convey sentiments and sometimes a loud background music overshadowed few dialogues. A striking similarity between the irony behind Richi's death and the climax of the Hindi film "Jhonny Gadaar" was very evident. Nevertheless, they are just perspectives like the one’s in the film and everyone is bound to have their own perspective of a work. 

I hesitated to write a review of this film for so long expecting a need for further reflection on my part than just listing out what I liked or din't in this film as, in many ways it had evoked my childhood memories.  It was during my recent trip to Surathkal, during the general elections that I got a chance to revisit my hometown after a long gap of six months and meet the people I had grown up watching. Everyone in our neighbourhood recognised me and greeted me with a smile and a few words of gentle enquiry of my well-being.

Much seems to have changed here now. The fields are left uncultivated, old tiled houses have been demolished and replaced with new concrete houses. And the rowdy brothers who are now in their middle age are fathering their children with perhaps much more love and affection than what they might have received. From a surface level they seemed to have moved on with their past. But what was more shocking to hear was that some of my other childhood friends have now taken the place of the rowdy brothers. Indulging themselves in fights, they are seen loitering around drunk and jobless. I wondered if these are the same kids I had grown up playing with and then I remembered the first few lines from the film - 

"In this small beach town, everyday the waves cleanse the beaches. But the waves can’t reach everything, can they?"

Monday, March 31, 2014

Trivandrum - Again!

After an eventful team outing in Mango mist resort, Friday, the 22nd of Feb, Sush, Vrashab, Charan, Suresh and I left to Tirvandrum on a KSRTC bus from Shantinagar bus stand. The bus was scheduled at 4:10 but was one hour late. A very melodramatic tamil film called "Jilla", filled with the poorest of jokes was played on the bus. I dozed off here and there between the film but I think I got most of the meaningless story it was trying to convey in 3 long hours. Somwhere after midnight, I woke up and noticed that the bus was not moving and there were cops checking passenger bags. I got down and learnt that we were undergoing a customs check on all goods being transported between states. The check was to see if the goods were duty paid. As I cribbed about it, a mallu co-passenger felt that though it was delaying us, it was necessary. "What if they transport arms and ammunitions?" he said. "Okay!" I thought, with a smile.

So with that and slow driving, we were nowhere close to Trivandrum at 6:00 AM. Thats when we heard our co-passengers speak - Middle aged couple - Ambuja and her husband. As the story revealed, Ambuja is returning from the US after two months; to where she had traveled to attend a wedding. Apparently her husband is very pissed off and jealous about it and complains repeatedly that nobody would even take him to Majestic bus stand. Even if anybody would, he would prefer going alone. He constantly commented on her useless stay in the US to make her feel that she had just travelled thousands of miles to stay between four walls, cooking and washing clothes. On the contrary Ambuja tried to console her husband and proposed plans to go to Singapore and Dubai to make up for it. They even talked of her brother who could take care of their stay. :-) Well I would not want to narrate the entire story but it was extremely funny and the last two hours of our journey was quite entertaining. However, on a serious note, I saw how important it was for the previous generation to travel abroad and I wondered if ageing had anything to do with the sense of inferiority and loneliness. Perhaps it is the previous generation that expects so much from their children, relatives and friends and I hope that as we age we more willingly accept independence and solitude.

Anyway, at 10:30 AM, we met Mak who had traveled on Sharma transports and by leaving 2 hours after us had reached 15 minutes before our bus reached. So the innova that Seb had arranged for us was waiting as well and we drove to Kovalam beach. We were assigned rooms facing the beach and even though it was not the hotel that was booked we did not have any complains about this replacement that they had to offer due to some guests overstaying. 

Charan, Suresh and I stepped out to start the day with a cup of tea and some biscuits. The street overlooking the beach, filled with shops looked rather quite and eventless. 

 We got ready and drove to the church. We were just on time for the wedding ceremony. After a quick lunch we wished Seb and then decided to explore the city. First stop - A cafe inside Mascot hotel as Sush wanted coffee. While he sipped his coffee, we tasted some fresh fruit juice that was very soothing and apt for the terrible humid weather outside. Unable to sit in the garden, we choose to step in to experience the AC interiors. 

Napier museum is about a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Beautiful architecture and some ancient artefacts make up this nice palace turned museum.

I particularly enjoyed the art museum that displays some of Ravi Verma’s beautiful paintings.  But what surprised me the most was that they were so unprotected, either front he viewers or from the weather. That made me wonder if we even know the value of these paintings. For a while i lost myself in the brush strokes of Raja Ravi verma; in the way he captured the effect of silk, the effect of Claire-obscure in his subjects. I truly enjoyed this visit. 

To add to that joy, I also met an old French couple who where visiting india. I had a short conversation with them and they seemed thrilled to see me speak French.

After that we took an auto to Padmanbhaswamy temple; Changed to Panchey as pants are not allowed. The door to main shrine opened at 5:30PM. After a quick darshan we stepped out, went to hotel Anapoorna and had some much needed food. Next stop - shopping for Kerala special snacks and panchey. By the time we were done it was 7:30 PM. We took a local bus to Kovalam beach. It was a fun evening. 

After freshening up we walked on the beautiful street next to the beach. Colourful fabrics covered the tiny shops and with the light it seemed to glow with an attractive richness. We had dinner at one the plenty restaurants by the beach. After that we walked on the beach and relaxed there for a while before returning to the room. 

Having had sleepless nights and eventful days for sometime, it was impossible to stay awake for a long time; so at 12 we retired to bed. 

Next morning, I got up early and walked by the beach watching the place wake up. A funny locality who owns a home stay spoke to me in a made up American accent. He seemed to treat me like one of the foreign tourists by impressing me how he has several people staying in his house and telling me stories about his dog etc. We had tea together at a tea stall run by an old lady whom he seemed to know well. The tea was delicious and most wanted for me at that time of the day. Sush joined me and we walked on the lovely street at Kovalam beach watching the sunrise. 

We walked up to the lighthouse where the others joined us. The view from there was excellent.

We tried a local kerala restaurant for breakfast where we had iddiyapam and puttu. After that we headed to the beach. For more than an hour we played in the water as the waves tried to lift us off foot and thrash us back to the ground. We also tried the surf board but with the inexperience that we had it seemed less interesting. At 12:30 it was time to say good bye to Kovallam beach.  We left the place after glancing through the attractive but expensive shops.

We took a volvo bus back to Trivandrum. Settled in at Hotel Aryan’s AC interiors for lunch. We split in groups to shop. Mak, Suresh and I choose to hop through shops that had AC. It is practically impossible to visit Trivandrum during this time and stay outdoors all through the day in that hot and humid weather.

Our bus left the city at 4:15 PM. On our way back we enjoyed laughing at a new Kannada film that had a pathetic story with a 80’s treatment. By 7:30 AM we were all back with some good memories of a beautiful beach that has a descent blend of tourists, fun activities and attractive shops. And it is always fun to travel with friends whom you have known for long. There is a level of comfort you share with them.

Photo Credits - Sushanth Kondi and Myself. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

One World! One Language!

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Dutch Artist)

In the story "Tower of Babel", it is said that once upon a time everyone on earth spoke only one language. As people migrated from the east they settled in a land called Shinar where they began to build a tower towards the heaven. God clearly disliking this act of man, recognized the root cause of their efficiency in the common language that they shared. So he created different languages, as a result of which they would never understand one another and scattered them over the face of the earth. Whether this really happened or is it just a work of literature, is not in the interest of this writing but it sure does mock the chaos created by numerous languages that man has created and thus making one wonder if world would be a much better place to live in with a common mode of communication.

Origin of this question finds itself in a debate that I had in my French class against the need to create native lexicon in French for every new word of English origin. On one side of the coin there is a need to conserve languages and facilitate their enrichment and on the other side there is an opportunity to utilize a common terminology around the world. With a rate of globalization that refuses to slow down, world has almost begun to work like the Tower of Babel. Interdependency and immigration has made the need for a common language more than just a comfort. But not everyone would think alike.

On the contrary, a section of people would argue that a common language would pose a threat to other old languages. With the language, disappears it’s literary works and its history. Moreover a language is not only a means of communication but also a foundation of any culture and tradition.

However one could argue that cultures and traditions around the world have always been changing. History would not even exist without the changes. Over the years, we have seen several old languages like Latin and Sanskrit slowly become extinct. English has evolved continuously since its origin and with the modern day English, man has almost abandoned the works of old English and adapted himself to a newer and better way of expressing himself.

Additionally with technological developments and influences driven by globalization we can clearly observe that all the cultures are converging into one. For example cuisine of one region or a country has travelled beyond its borders; most of the people around the world share a similar virtual image of themselves on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social networking sites through which they prefer communicating in common grounds. However with a world full of egoistic countries, it would be interesting to see which language will dominate and which all would be willing to yield. Perhaps it was the prediction of this conflict that once led to a creation of a new language all together.

In 1887, a language called Esperanto was developed in order to facilitate communication between people of different languages. This effort of constructing a new language from the scripts of various other languages was not very successful. Probably the reason was in starting something from scratch.

But in today’s world, we can notice a different type of mix between the languages. “Visage”, “Encore” and “Sans” are some of the French words that are frequently used in English while “Parking”, “Weekend” and “Pub” are some of the English words used in French. Sanskrit or Hindi words like “Guru” and “Mantra” have also made their way into the English dictionary. Hence we are in the process of effectively blending the languages and constructing a new global language. Clearly in this case, the language that is most willing to accept foreign words and increasingly open to changes in its structure would be a winner. That makes us ask ourselves that on one side as we try to bring the world closer, must we, on the other end, by translating every new word in different languages, separate it? Life would be much easier if a USB, computer, Laptop, Nano technology or a tablet is called the same elsewhere in the planet.

Even though there is a necessity to have a common language this does not appear to be a reality until several centuries to come. World would mostly be multi-linguistic until one of the predominant languages would conquer the rest and with a world so well connected, this forecast is highly likely to happen.

Thus history seems to be nothing but a vicious circle. From few original languages to a variety of them; from a variety of them to some modern languages and from some modern languages maybe to one ideal language in the future. Consequently, maybe one day, man might after all complete the Tower of Babel.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kunti Betta....Oops No Bheemana Betta

Idea of going on a night trek is always exhilarating. It has it’s own adventures and charm involved. When the trek plan to Brahmagiri did not work, my colleagues settled in for a night trek to Kunti Betta, near Pandavpura town of Mandya district, Karnataka. On the 10th of Jan 2014, a Friday night, in four cars, 19 of us drove to Mandya at about 8:00 PM. We stopped for dinner at one of the dhabas on Mysore road, after which we drove non-stop till Mandya. I enjoyed the night drive for the first time. There was occasional racing between our cars that followed with loud cheers.

Few kilometres after Mandya, is a right deviation to Melkotte. The village route that took us to Pandavapura had a peacefulness in it's haunted appearance. It appeared as if we, with music playing in the car and with our talks were about to spoil the serenity of this place. After the town, there is a signboard that directs you right towards « Kunti Betta ». Ofcourse we got there only after one wrong right turn and an enquiry at the only house that seemed awake to send off a member of their family who had just passed away.

We parked our cars next to a residential school and walked up the steps to a temple. By the time we started the trek it was 1:00 AM. Two amongst our group had already trekked the place once and so we just decided to follow them. But once we were at the base of the hill, we realised that there is not route. The trail that circled the hill just disappeared and then we were on our own. It was fun though to discover our way up the hill. While finding the route, I stopped at a cave. It was beautiful but looked haunted; haunted by beasts and ghosts. 

The hill was filled with tall grasses that left back thorns in our body. After about an hour and a half long trek we reached the top. Well actually the highest point of the hill would be over the two gigantic rocks that stood tall from where we camped. Climbing that in daylight would be a challenge, hence to do the same during the night could have meant foolishness. So we settled beneath the rocks and relaxed. 

The night looked pretty from above- Tannur lake spread on one side, street lamps from the villages glittering and a few stars surrounding the moon that was getting close to full.

A few buns packed along the way turned handy. While some of us captured star trails, others chatted. One of our colleagues played a few melodies on his Mandolin. The music filled the air and our minds with a sweetness and blended so well with the environment that it made our presence seem belonged. 


With a short nap between 4:00 to 5:30 AM, I was up and ready to carry on with a fresh day without hindrance to drive. 

With clouds covering the sky, there was nothing much to stay back at the summit for. So after a few clicks we began our journey back; that happened in 45 minutes.

On our drive back, we stopped tat a local tea stall. While striking a conversation with the shopkeeper, I was exposed to the irony -  We had climbed Bhemmana betta instead of Kunti Betta. The route to Kunti betta is just in front of the kalyani  pond at the temple. The route to the summit of Kunit beta begins with a rock that is cut soft to resemble a slide (Jara Bandi). But knowing this truth was comforting as we now knew what hill we have climbed.

We stopped at Madur for breakfast. Madur vada  was definitely in the menu at Madur tiffins. By the time I returned home, it was 11.

One of the added advantages of a night out is that, you get to sleep soundly next day. And when you wake up after that peaceful sleep, the previous night seems like a beautiful dream.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nelliyampathy & Coimbatore

After returning from Mumbai, I was in Bangalore for 3 days which involved office and joining colleagues and French class friends for parties. During one of them, i realised that we could find food up to 2:00AM in Bangalore at restaurants like - Empire, Imperial and Paramount. That to me was a news that made me feel good as I was considering Bangalore to shutdown at 11:00 PM. 

On Sunday (29th Dec), 6:00 AM in the morning, I left Bangalore on my i10 towards Coimbatore. I love this road - Bangalore - Salem-Coimbatore. All four lane and thankfully this time the construction was almost complete. It took me 6 hours excluding one stop for breakfast at Krishnagiri. By lunch I was at my in-laws place. 

With a high temperature, i did nothing more but sleep that afternoon. 

Next morning (30th) we drove to Nelliyampathy a hill station in palakkad district of Kerala. It felt good to drive along the paddy fields. Palakkad is called the rice bowl of Kerala for its cultivation of the crop. The driving route is through Palakkad - Nemara- Nelliyampathy. At the base is a dam and then you drive up the hill. There are several view points along the way and some hair pin bends.

At Nelliyampathy you could take a jeep route to the hills. We instead drove through a coffee cum tea estate to a scenic view point called "Suicide point." It’s a small trek along the cliff to the end from where you could see a waterfall. 

We returned back to Nemara and had lunch. It is always hard to find a pure Vegetarian restaurant in Kerala. From there we went to Palakkad fort which is in the town. It is a well maintained fort from the time of Hyder Ali.

Next stop - Preethi’s grandmother's house in Palakkad town. We met her uncles, aunts and cousins; had good dinner and drove back to coimbatore. In spite of slight temperature, I enjoyed the drive.

Next morning (Dec 31st), Preethi and I went to nearby temples as it was her birthday. In the evening we visited a hill temple called Marudamallai.

On our way back we stopped at the famous Annapoorna hotel to try some vada sambhar and Gobi roast dosa. I like the dosa variety available in Tamil nadu. We stopped at Preethi’s aunt's house before returning home.

On Jan 1st, we left Coimbatore at around 11:40 AM after an early lunch. I enjoyed the four lane tollway all the way back and in 6.5 hours I was in Bangalore. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


After descending the Lohgad fort and feasting on some rice bhakri’s we drove to Pune and then a deviation of 37 kms to Lavasa. Lavasa is a planned city being constructed in phases. At the moment one town has been established with its set of apartments, hotels, restaurants, hill top villas all facing a artificially created lake by diverting a river. Since Ganesh Bhai’s friend had an apartment there we decided to crash in there for the night. 

A musical fountain entertained the visitors during the night.

The streets resemble some of those perhaps in the european countries with cosy restaurant, street stalls, lake side pathway all in one place. After a nice walk along the main street we settled in at a Gujarati restaurant for dinner.

After returning to the apartment, we had some chat, some singing and some old photographs and video viewing. By midnight all retired to bed.

Next morning (Dec 24th) at 6:00 AM, as usual; like I do in any new place, I took a walk to observe the town wake up. Ganesh Bhai joined me. After some good walk and my morning tea on a lazy tuesday morning in this town which appeared like sunday, we returned back and relaxed at the apartment.

By the time all of us were up and fresh, it was 12:30 PM. We walked around to see some water sports at the lake. There are some options for adventure sports like speed boat, canoeing,  dirt bikes etc. But they are a little too expensive than usual. 

Seeing not much interest in those we choose a nature trail in the woods. It was a fun walk and we enjoyed a small play area in the centre of the nature trail. Most of the forest here is said to be created using hydro seeding.

At 3:00 PM we stopped at a local hotel to try some real tasty Maharastrian cuisine - Johar bahkri, Junkha, egg plant dish and spicy Butter milk. It was one of the best meals I have had. 

After that I drove the Honda city back with the boys playing really loud music. I enjoyed the drive along Pune-Mumbai express. After Lonavala, we stopped at a rest area for some snacks like - Cothambri vada and thali pet. Amazing food!

We reached home by 8:00 PM. It was a great trip and I truly enjoyed this getaway. 

Next day (Dec-25th) Varun left at 6:00 AM to Kanpur; At 1:30 PM I took a taxi back to airport and by 8:00 PM was at home in Bangalore. 

This trip was truly amazing and I had real good time out from my routine. I spent some quality time with my sister and her family along with some friends. A change like this from routine is truly a bliss and seems so wanted. I enjoyed the activeness of a trek and the laziness in a lavasa after. Both has its own beauty; like one has to follow the other for equilibrium.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Lohgad Trek

Mumbai trip was almost suddenly decided. While speaking to my sister, she mentioned that my nephew was back from IIT Kanpur after his first semester. I thought this would be a great opportunity to meet them all. On Sunday the 22nd of December 2013, I took a 6:10AM flight to Mumbai. From the airport I took a taxi to Panvel. As my taxi drove through the city, I felt the cool winter breeze brush over my face and I noticed Mumbai slowly moving on with a Sunday morning. By 10:00 AM, I was in Panvel. A tasty Khanda poha for breakfast, Lot of family talk, A fun film - Phata poster nikla hero and an evening walk to eat some Kaandvi made up this first day. 

Next morning, we left Panvel at around 9:15AM in two cars. Ganesh Bhai, his son Shivam and his two classmates joined us on the trip. In a Swift and a Honda city we drove towards Lonawala on Mumbai-Pune express. We could either take the exit to lonawala or drive further and take a small exit after that which would be a road with lesser traffic. Google map shows all the options to get to the fort. But we missed a turn and hence had to take a longer route. Otherwise lohgad is little over an hours drive from Panvel.

By the time we reached the base of the fort, it was around 11:00 AM. The trek is simple. There are steps and neat trails that lead you to the top in not more than an hour. At the summit are some tombs and a pond. 

On the other side of the summit one can find the famous scorpion’s tail. It looked wonderful and I bet monsoon would make it look differently beautiful. 

We stopped at a pond and treated ourselves with some lunch - Chapati curry and sandwiches that my sister quickly prepared right there. 

The view from the top was brilliant. After relaxing there for a while we returned back. 

On the way we called a hotel at the base and ordered some rice Bhakri. Rice Bhakri was a little too much for us after our lunch but yet the Junka and Tesa were very tasty.

It was a nice day trek; Not too long, nor too tiring. It was ideal and I would highly recommend this trek during Monsoon.