Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cherai Beach To Ernakulam

I Continue from here...Thrissur And Cherai Beach

Next morning, I got up early and took a walk to the beach. The waves were very ferocious. Having born and brought up very close to the beach, I had never seen such ferocity of the waves. I walked back to the hotel where a brilliant, big cup of morning tea awaited me. I had an extra half cup. It was a wonderful view. We enquired about a boat ride in the backwaters, which to us seemed expensive - Rs 1000 for an hour. The backwaters was filled with activity that morning.

We had some delicious appam and vegetable stew along with some vanilla tea for breakfast. After which, we headed to the beach. Due to the violent nature of the waves, we did not go much further into the water but it was fun as always to be hit by the waves. 

After returning, we got ready to head back. The German tourist staying in the neighbouring house stopped by and we had a small chat. For some reason, I felt that he was hesitating to tell which country he was from. He spoke very good English with very less German ascent. 

I had read somewhere that we could take a ferry to Kochi but after enquiring with the hotel owner it turned out that we had to cross the backwater by boat, then take an auto to Cherai town and then a bus to Vypin island and then a ferry to Kochi. We found that to be exciting and I decided to film the entire stretch. 

We left the hotel at around 11 AM. It was a good stay and thanks to the generous owners who are not really money minded. For such a good accommodation, food and service someone else would have looted a tourist. 

Stretch 1 - Walk from the hotel to Boat stop. 

The boat stop is very close to the Ambady’s villa. We took a left at the gate and another left near a church. That road ends at the banks of the backwater. The boat had just left our side and we had to wait until he gets a ride back.

Stretch 2 - Crossing Cherai Backwaters.

After waiting for about 5 minutes we signalled the guy to bring the boat back. For our delight after some thinking he did make this solo ride back. We boarded the boat and crossed the backwaters. We requested him to take us close to one of the chinese fishing nets to have a closer look at it. At the other end, by then he had passengers waiting. We paid him Rs20 (Rs5 per person) and walked to the main road.

Stretch 3 - Auto Rickshaw ride from the banks to Cherai town.

As soon as we reached the main road, we got an auto. He charged us about Rs 80 to get to the town. We had meant to stop at the Cherai fort which we thought was in town but it turned out that we had just passed the place on our way (Pallipuram) and it was about 4 kms behind. So anyways, we got down at the town centre. At a small bakery, we had some snacks.

Stretch 4 - Bus ride from Cherai to Vypin.

While waiting for the bus, we met a retired Navy employee. He proudly introduced himself thus and even showed us his employee card. Well, when one thinks of army, navy or airforce, one only thinks of soldiers. But here was a man who is so proud of having served the navy and being part of it as a ground staff. He was amongst the people who carry grocery and stationaries to the ship as it docks at the harbour. I realised how less we think of their contribution when we think of army. He was very kind in directing us to the right bus. He spoke Hindi which is a rare sight in Kerala; thanks to his navy connection. The bus would have directly taken us to Ernakulam but we decided to stick to the plan. Vypin is around 15 kms from Cherai. The bus drive reminded me of the same in Mangalore - Private buses speeding on narrow roads.

Stretch 5 - Ferry from Vypin to Fort Kochi

Very next to the bus stand is the Ferry stop. A long queue of vehicles and people were waiting to board the ferry. We took tickets of Rs4 per head and ran to catch the ferry that was about to leave. It was a quicker and much exciting travel to get to fort Kochi. I met a Mangalorean Konkani but he did not speak Kannada. He suggested we go to the Venkataramana temple. The views were spectacular.

Stretch 6 - Fort Kochi to Ernakulam - another Ferry.

I had not realised that fort Kochi was actually on the same island as that of the muttenchery. So that meant we had to take a bus to Ernakulam where we were to board our bus to Bangalore. But we decided to walk around the place before deciding on that stretch. We took a walk to Princess street which has an European feel to it. 

We walked to St Francis church where lies the tomb of Vasco de Gama. 

Then stopped to watch the Chinese fishing nets. These were for commercial purpose to attract the tourists. Much different from those we had seen in Cherai whose purpose was to sustain a livelihood through hard work. on the other hand, here it was the tourists who were falling into the net. 

We found out that we had two options to get to Ernakulam  One, take a 1 hour to bus drive or take a Ferry for 15 minutes to cross the harbour. We decided on the later. So we walked to the ferry stand which looked slightly crowded. However, we got tickets and boarded the next available ferry. The ride was beautiful as we watched the navy ships and some tall buildings of Ernakulam.  As we approached the Ernakulam station the drizzle had turned into heavy rain. So our captain decided to park the ferry adjacent to the two other ferries near the dock While doing that he hit the other ferries that made a loud noise scaring the passengers. Then we had to hop through 3 ferries and run towards the shelter. That was an experience to remember.

So that was how we got to Ernakulam from Cherai beach. It was one heck of a ride to remember. Time was already 2:30 PM and we had to wait until the rain subsided. We took an auto for Rs 170 till Lulu mall. The auto driver took us through some really narrow interior roads. At the mall, we had our lunch. We met our colleagues Bhargav and Chetan. After window shopping for a while, we decided to take a bus back to KSRTC bus stand. It was again a good drive through the city. Ernakulam is fast developing and with proper infrastructure it could be one of the most beautiful cities in the country. 

Our Airavata arrived on time and we left the city at around 6:30 PM. It was a great trip and Amabdy's villa and the travel from Cherai beach to Elankulam was the star event of the entire trip. 

Photo Credits - Rohit Badhya, Charan Kumar, Subashchandra Rai & Ajeya Rao

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thrissur & Cherai Beach

Wedding of a colleague took me to Trissur on 22nd of November. Subbu, Charan, Rohit and I left Bangalore on Friday night in an Airavata bus. I had a very funny experience on the way with an auto driver; a man in his mid fifties. He was in the mood of telling stories. He started with « The Man-eater » that he had read in seventh standard that told how a tiger first tasted human blood. He also narrated another story that was called -Under the cable of the sea. I think he had two words jumbled up there. Well, this one told how difficult it was to lay cables under the sea during the times of telegraph. In spite of that, he made sure to drop me at the bus stand before time.

Bus journey was uneventful. We reached Trissur at around 7 AM. Our colleagues friend drove us to the hotel. For my morning tea we stopped at a small tea stall in front of the hotel. I was very impressed by the way hygiene was maintained here. The shop keeper cleaned the glass with hot water. Then added milk, then pulled out a small container with decoction and added it to the milk, Added some sugar and stirred it well before handing it over to me. He cleaned the spoon in hot water every time he reused it. I was so happy to have a tea made exactly how i make it at home. Other wise in Bangalore the tea would be boiling for hours together until a weird taste of milk dominates it.

After freshening up and having the complimentary breakfast at the hotel we walked to Vadakanathan Temple. This is my third visit to this temple and the serene atmosphere around here makes this place a very beautiful place to pass time at. The temple architecture and the wall murals are just fantastic. 

Before returning to the hotel, we stopped at a store to buy Dhotis. On our way, we saw a restaurant by name Udupi Brahmin’s hotel. Suddenly Subbu smelled Mangalore buns and we thought lets check it out. However we found ourselves stuck with 4 inedible idlis, two extra sweet teas and a bunch of old waiters who had connection to Udupi.

We then went to the Church to attend the wedding. This is the third Malayali catholic wedding that I am attending and they are so different from how one might have perceived a christian wedding to be. Some of the traditional Hindu rituals are still practiced. We met other colleagues who had driven on a TT. They narrated their mishaps with a broken vehicle that had delayed their journey. 

We drove to another Church - Lourdes where the food was arranged. A beautiful Church.

After a good meal, we wished the couples, said bye to others and drove back to the hotel. Packed in fifteen minutes, we left Trissur and drove directly to Cherai Beach.

Cherai is a thin strip of land between the sea and backwaters. We checked in at the Amabdi’s service villa. Once you reach Cherai beach, take right and drive about 1.5 kms to reach the hotel Eden. Hotel Eden is run by the same group and it is sea facing. We had preferred the backwater facing home stay called Ambadi’s service villa which I strongly recommend. They have three rooms constructed in traditional Kerala style, whose front doors open to a beautiful lawn and garden which ends at the banks of the backwater. The backwater is filled with Chinese fishing nets. Since this place is attached to their house, drinking is not allowed. So if you wish to arrange alcohol, you must book Hotel Eden on the main road. But really, this place is much better. 

Link to their website -
Contact # - Mr Ambady - 09605262499

At the hotel, we met a Kannada care taker who is from Hubli and had lived in Malpe for 8 years. It was also surprising that in 8 months of his stay in Kerala he had learnt the local language. We were happy to have him as a mediator. We requested aunty for dinner and decided to take a walk by the beach. We took a long walk till the Cherai beach central area which was as crowded as a mall in Bangalore. We had some road side snacks and returned back. On our way, we stopped at a Bhuvaneshwari temple that was beautifully lit during that hour of dusk. Rohit also enquired about Kerala massage. Massages are priced from Rs1500 onwards. Amabdi’s are also gonna start massage centre at their place soon but as of now only one place seems popular. However, inspite of all that excitement about a massage long before the trip, Rohit decided not to have one. 

We returned back to the hotel and sat by the banks of backwater observing the fishermen modulate the Chinese fishing nets. It was a beautiful sight as in dark, we observed the bulb attached to the pivot point of the sticks that hold the fishing net, being lowered and pulled up. Mahesh told us about some of the happenings around. He told us how there were several foreign visitors in this area whom he referred as « Saips ». They would want to settle here so, they buy land by having a joint ventures with locals. One of the recent was by a London tourist with a joint venture between him and an auto rickshaw driver he had befriended during his visits. He also told that the house in the same compound was also owned by Mr.Amabadi and normally couples come and stay there for several months. Currently a German guy and his Indian wife with their kids were vacationing there. Aunty cooked some delicious meal for us - Chapati, Cabbage Subji, Rice, A curry made of coconut and buttermilk, papad and fish fry for the non-vegetarians. 

After that good meal, we chatted for a while and went to bed. The interiors of the house is all very traditional with Red oxide floors, Mangalore tiles for roof, coconut leaf chapara for the roofs near sit outs. Everything here seemed well thought of and and neat. I looked forward for the next day, as I new it was going to be adventurous. I had just unearthed a interesting plan to get to Cochin.

Continued Here  - Cherai Beach To Ernakulam

Photo Credits - Rohit Badhya, Charan Kumar, Subashchandra Rai & Ajeya Rao

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Le Vol

There can be various reasons behind a painting. Of which one of the rarest is when the house owner does not repaint the walls for more than five years. Ever since the l’homme d’evolution was completed at my friends house, I have had much more confidence over large sized murals. So it did not take me more time to prepare myself for another. I had loved this sketch of an angel that I had found on net. I wanted to recreate it with some colours. I had also created a small sketch of it on  piece of paper that became a reference for this mural.

First stage was much faster than expected. Very quickly a life sized sketch was drawn on the wall in my living room. Next, it got an outline in black.

This was about the time when I told my house owner what I was doing. During an annual visit, they came home to see it. The man looked okay but the lady seemed worried about the removal. I requested them to repaint all the walls if they did not agree on me painting this. They procrastinated the idea of painting the house by saying they would think about it and left. I took that as an approval. 

Colouring the entire wall would make the image very loud so it was originally conceived to be minimal in colour. I planned to give strokes of colours that would also provide a feel of flow to the wings. Green colour to the wings seemed appropriate. 

After this was done, I took almost several months of break. I think it took me about 3 months to get back to the mood to complete this. Next session completed the rest of the colours. 

I particularly liked doing the eyes. The brown eyes! Yellow and blue was decided for the dress but yellow seemed too loud. A shade of brown had to balance it.

In the final touch,  some other uncoloured areas were completed. What best can it be called other than "Le Vol". (The flight).

Saturday, October 25, 2014


With more than 10 days of vacation doing nothing but watching the nature at play at my house in Surathkal, I had one of the most blissful times of my life. I felt like I was taking a leap back in time. Much is different around my house now than how it was when I lived there 13 years ago but not all has changed. Some of those several moments of Déjà Vu are here.

Butterflies taking a morning fly over the flowers in the garden.

Due drops collecting over the leaves.

The process of bud to full blossom.

Fragrance from a burning Incense sticks.

A beautiful evening at the beach where several souls come searching for answers.

And with my left eye all swollen, I imagined how Monet would have seen his garden with his cataract; that created several of his best impressionist paintings.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Returning Home!

On the 2nd of October, I drove to Mangalore. I was very excited about my 10 day long vacation. After crossing the busy Bangalore traffic by around 7:30 AM, I was on Bangalore-Hassan toll road. Most of this stretch is now complete and makes the journey very easy. At one of the toll booths before Channarayapatna, I was requested by a toll collector to give him a ride till Chanparaypatna. It was surprising to notice that the government buses did not stop anywhere but in main towns; so people in between always had to rely on shared autos. In Mangalore, private buses do much better job connecting even remote locations of the district. 

I stopped at Sakleshpur for some food and then continued down the shiradi ghat which is in pathetic condition again. They are planning to close it down for six more months from December onwards. I was in Surathkal by around 2:15 PM. I had food and rested. That evening, we had Durga Namaskara pooja at home. It was nice to see the pooja after a long time. 

However, I had to step out for a while to meet one of my Dad’s friend who is a surgeon. I had been planning to get rid of the cyst above my left eye for a while now. Ever since a new colleague told me how he got rid of his about 10 years ago, I have been more confident about the operation. It was meant to be about 15 minutes job and an hours rest before I could be discharged. So October 4th was decided as the big day.  I returned home, met a few relatives, got to serve dinner in traditional style to all the guests after a long time. I watched yakshagana at  Marigudi Temple for sometime. All 9 days, yakshagana is performed all night in two temples near my house. 

Next day I mostly relaxed watching some movies. On October 4th at 7:00 AM we were at the hospital in Mangalore. I had blood test done, got my X-ray taken and had the end of my eyebrow shaved. Doctor arrived at around 9:30AM. I was pretty relaxed and seemed unaffected by the happenings. My eye was closed and taped and local anaesthesia was provided around the cyst. I felt the blade cut through my skin but there was no pain, not until they tried to pull the cyst. I started feeling the pain when he pulled it. No further dosage helped reduce it. He concluded that the cyst had grown too deep into the bones and thus I had to go for General Anaesthesia. The doctor explained everything neatly to me but kept scolding the two nurses there. He complained about how the light was not good and he could not see clearly and how one of the nurse's hands were shaking and had to be dismissed. By then an anaesthetist from another hospital arrived. I don’t know where and when they injected but i slowly blacked out. I found myself flying in a space that seemed like The Grand Canyon. There were colourfully lit walls on either side and in between them I  was gliding. I recollect being happy but when I regained conscious, I had a bad headache and severe hunger. I began to smile for no reason. May be because i was happy that it was over. 

I was showed the cyst but in my half awake state I noticed just two pieces of flesh soaked in blood. I was moved to a room and had to take rest for a day. Next to the wound they had fixed a tube that sucked bad blood and other fluids out of the cavity where not so long ago the cyst sat. This was to prevent infection. The tube collected all the bad blood and carried down to a bellow like bottle that hanged around my ear.

Next day, I was discharged and I came home. For the next several days that I was there, I relaxed. We had planned to tour Kerala but the operation was severe than intended so all was dropped and I was to take rest. The view from my room was brilliant; greenery at its best. How many years had passed since I had had this quietness. It felt like I was back in the days of my youth when I would sit near the same window and look out at this greenery. 

With nothing but rest to do, I had one of the best times of my life. I watched birds that come to our house daily and tried to track their timing and favourite trees. 

Helped my mother make turmeric out of freshly unearthed roots.

Watched our small farm being de-weeded and cautioned the workers to not remove the flowering trees that I had planted.

Every evening, I would take an auto to a near by hospital and get the dressing changed and return back by bus. Slowly the swelling around my eye reduced. 

On 9th October, we went to Surathkal lighthouse with our family friend Vinoda and her dog Blacky (A Labrador). At the light house while speaking to an official, I was informed of the radars placed along the sea shore after the Kasab incident. I was glad that some security measures are being taken. He was very excited about dogs and someday after retirement wanted to have one as a pet.

Blacky had fun time at the beach. She seemed to love the water and kept leaping as the waves approached her.

Next day, we went to Pollali temple and then to Ideal cafe in Mangalore. I enjoyed a burger and the famous Ideal ice-creams; my favourite- Banana split. 

On Saturday, the 11th My parents left to Mumbai. I had my stitches removed on the same day after which we visited Vinoda’s house. Here we played with her five dogs - Buddy, Rani, Chinna and Bubbly are all german shepherds and of course our Blacky a lab.  

Preethi and I  had a great time there. After that we returned home and packed. Next morning we left home by 6:30 AM and headed back to Bangalore via Charmadi Ghat. The view and drive was excellent. We reached Bangalore by 2:00 PM. 

This is the longest I have been in my Surathkal house after having left for work in 2001. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there. Both my parents were all day at home so it was fun to blend back into their routine life. I loved looking over the de-weeding process that as a child I always enjoyed watching as it made our little farm turn neat and tidy. I watched several birds that stop by our house daily. Amma cooked all those special Mangalore dishes that I enjoy - Onion Sasivey, Onion gojju, Pundi gatti, Sajigge-Bajil, Kottige, Menaskai, Gassi, Goli Bajje, Mangalore Buns and many more. 

It is also interesting to notice how our mind works. Until I had no thoughts of removing the cyst, it was always a part of me. I associated my headaches, lack of sleep and everything with it. The day I realised that it could be removed and had no impact on me, everything changed. My mind automatically felt a disconnect with it. And today with it gone, i feel no different. I feel happy rather that something that was not a part of me is gone. I have one less thing to worry about.

I was sad while returning but I felt that in these 10 days, I got a glimpse of what I would be doing when I retire and return back to my home.  And I remembered this quote that I had read long ago.

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." - George A. Moore