Tuesday, November 24, 2015

At Surathkal

Continued from Here  

The next day, 11th, we had to go to a Balaram temple at Vadabandeshwara, close to Malpe where the 10th day death rites for Preethi’s grandmother was to be conducted. The 10th day involves a purification process and involves the immediate family and everyone present taking a dip by a river or pond where the rite is performed. 

Tipu followed me here too. The relatives gathered discussed how insane idea it was to give Tipu Sultan that high regard and create a controversial situation. Comment from a so called secular Author/Playwright Girish Karnad who said that Tipu is a freedom fighter and the Bangalore airport should be named after him instead of the current name belonging to the founder of the city, was denounced. Pseudo intellectuals with their double standards were critiqued. The discussion appeared in some of the whatsapp group as well and I realised that this topic was spreading. 

Leaving Tipu and his situation to rest, we returned home after the rituals. I followed a visitor in our garden that afternoon. 

In the evening Akki, Preethi and I took a walk to the beach; visited a few relatives house and ended the day peacefully. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Walk Down The Memory Lane!

On the 10th of November, at around 4:30 in the morning, Preethi and I left our Bangalore house and drove towards Surathkal. The road was free and by dawn, I was near Hassan. My first stop was at Sakleshpura for breakfast after 3 hours of continuous driving. It was in Sakleshpura, that we saw a bunch of Muslim men decorating the town with yellow flags with some really bad hand made art work on it, representing the spots on a tiger skin. On a few banners, I saw Tipu youth group written. My faith in our journalism is close to disappearance. So, I do not follow local news and I am ignorant of the controversies that happen in my state or sometimes in the country.  Anyways, I came to know later that Karnataka Chief minister has announced November 10th as Tipu Jayanthi (Birthday of Tipu Sultan) which had raised a debate between people who think he wa son less than a freedom fighter and a promoter of secularism, peace and harmony and those who believe Tipu is a tyrant who murdered or converted (to Islam) several Hindus, Christians and people of Coorg. 

The drive through Shiradi was great, thanks to the newly laid concrete roads. I reached my house in Surathkal at around 11:00 AM. I was happy to meet my parents and sister from Mumbai. 

That evening, My sister and I decided to walk down the memory lane by visiting our school and college. We first went to the Kendriya vidyalaya school in Panambur. Memories flooded our minds. Though the place to me looked rather dull without my friends and the time it once beheld, the feeling of nostalgia took priority and we told stories to my mother and my wife from our childhood that was spent here. 

Next, we drove to St Aloysius college intending to see the Chapel which was unfortunately closed. I had completed my pre-university education here and my sister, her graduation. So we walked down the memory lane yet again. But, we were disappointed to see the beautiful S-block which had wooden flooring demolished and replaced with a new building. A once known New Block where I had most my classes seemed the oldest of the lot now. Al-Shanthi, Al-Vana were a few tree covered areas that have been sadly replaced by concrete buildings. However, the sight of Administrative block, the chapel and the school with its roman architecture is always refreshing. I recollected the days sitting inside the chapel and admiring the walls covered in paintings. 

Next stop - Woodlands hotel where food is served at your car. After that it was time for some ice cream at Pabbas. Before returning home we stopped at Gokarnatheshwara temple (Kudroli) famous for its Dasara celebrations. The temple was magnificently lit. 

Continued Here 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Le Côte Coloré - 2

Le Côte Coloré grew to its second instalment at Vishwalaya ashram (Off Kanakpura road), an orphanage that our company supports on 16th October. We clubbed Theatre and art workshop together. While Sandeep and his friend Havish took up the responsibilities of the theatre workshop, Tejas and I indulged ourselves in the art workshop. 

We were at the Ashram at around 10 AM. Kids from the neighbouring village joined in so there was a huge crowd of around 40 kids. It was a little hard to manage but my previous experience at Badeladaku Village  helped me stay prepared and expect a certain euphoria. For about 2 hours we enjoyed drawing, painting and creating art. Everyone as expected, were all excited and enthusiastic; yearning for more knowledge. Overall another satisfying experience!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Surathkal During Dasera

A trip to Mangalore after a long time is no less than an overdose of nostalgia. Events and memories that were hidden for a longtime in remote regions of subconscious bounce back. This time it had been more than 6 months since my previous visit. I had four days in hand and that seemed perfect to make up for all the loses. I had no agenda, like I never do when I visit home. Because the home itself is the destination I long for. The farm, the beaches and during Dasera, Yakshagana performances in the neighbouring temples keep me engaged.  And of course those regular visitors to the house. 

On Thursday (Oct22), the day I arrived, I visited a neighbour and relative for a get together lunch. I got to meet a few relatives after long time. In the evening, I watched a Yakshagana at one of the Mariguddis (Temple of goddess Mariamma) near my house. It was not very impressive, so I left midway.  

On Friday (Oct23), I mostly relaxed at home. Went shopping in Surathkal and saw the old buildings still there adjacent to the new ones coming up. Not much has changed though here, I noticed. In the night, I decided to watch the visarjan of Sharada idol. Something I have not done in these many years. I walked to the beach at around 11:00 PM and waited for the procession to arrive and watching a few boys busy making an idol of a goddess with sand. 

The procession finally arrived at 2:30 AM. A Tiger dance troop came tired and sat next to me. Their body paint had almost left their skin. Due to the itching the rest of the paint slowly but unintentionally began to scrap away. In a water bottle they had filled some local liquor and they passed it to one another for a sip as they discussed their issues. How much they are paid and how some of their friends had denied participating out of ego and things like that which would make up for a good script for a writer sitting beside them. 

After the Sharada idol was worshiped one last time the jewellery and flowers were removed and the idol was taken to the sea. The tiger dance troupe danced for one last time. With her she is believed to have taken all the bad omen that might affect a city. At around 3AM, I returned satisfied of having observed an event.

On Saturday (Oct24), I took a morning walk by the beach and met my colleagues Sandeep and Pavitra who were in our friend Sadiq’s taxi. It was a mere coincidence. I invited them home for lunch. Later that evening I took another walk by the beach and returned home enriched by the empowering sound of waves that always fill me with zeal for life.

On Sunday (Oct 25), I attending my colleague Arun’s wedding and met Pradyumn, Rohit, Gautam and Anvesh there. After lunch, we had some ice-cream for desserts at Pabbas and then we headed to my house. We went to the  lighthouse, had maggie oh sorry Yippee at the shack near by and then the boys enjoyed playing in the beach. They left by 7 and I took my bus back to Bangalore by 9:30 PM. 

A trip to Mangalore is filled with experiences and stories. I learnt about the three tiger dancers who refused to participate in the event as they were not paid enough. I got to know about Daniel who is happy if the family members of the dead live abroad as he makes money out of refrigerating the deceased until their family arrives. Three boys from Bangalore had recently walked to the rock in the sea and when one of them got washed away, the other two had no guts to return back and called for help. Post a theft at my house a week ago, someone my mother knew wanted to sell roll gold jewellery to her as she had read in the newspaper that even those were stolen. Such interesting stories can happen only in Mangalore. 

Every trip to Surathkal is one closer to nature, culture and tradition. Modernisation is definitely influencing the entire country but here, in Surathkal, it seems to happen in a slower pace. For now it has reached the animals. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Killa & Cloud Atlas

No, these two movies have nothing in common but just that I recently watched them and wish to capture my experience in a single post. 

Killa - 

"Killa" (Fort) is a coming of age film in Marathi language shot entirely in the Konkan region of Maharastra. The storyline is nothing new. The plot and character of the main protagonist resemble those of « Le gamin au vélo » or « Extremely loud and incredibly close » but for indian audience this is definitely a new territory. The story revolves around a boy who has moved from the city of Pune to a much smaller town in the Konkan and he fails to adapt and refuses to come out of the sorrow of his fathers death. Basically the stories conveys how the child has shut himself inside a fort and does not let anybody in. But the Konkan atmosphere and surrounding is bound to change him. I was also able to see another subtle meaning in this plot. The child is a Brahmin. He could have been of any caste but the author chose him to be of an upper caste. Being a Brahmin myself, I can relate to the story of adapting and accepting beyond ones religion and caste that has heavy influence on the indian society. In the far Konkan land, the child learns that there is a beautiful world out there and he cannot shut himself in without accepting that fact or befriending the people around him and by overcoming his grief he has to look beyond. Great cinematography compliments the  incredible performances by the main characters. I must thank Ganesh bhai for suggesting me this movie. 

Cloud Atlas - 

Cloud atlas, the book is a masterpiece. The movie deviates a little from the book and tries to drive its own conclusions from the story. Some of it makes sense, some of it further complicates the story than it is already. 

Cloud Atlas is a collection of six stories that are all connected. The first story is set in 1849 in the pacific island where a lawyer is sailing back from Cathay islands to San Francisco and suffers a  severe illness during his journey. He recounts his experiences in his diary. The second one is about a bisexual English composer who in 1931 travels to Bruges to work as amanuensis to an ageing composer. His story is delivered through the letters he writes to his lover. In the third story, set in San Francisco of 1973, Luisa ray, a journalist gets involved in a very messy affair dealing with safety of a nuclear reactor. In the fourth segment that happens in London of 2012, an old publisher is facing an ordeal from which he must escape. In 2144, a fabricant cloned for slave labour from Neo Seoul is helped to escape by a rebel group and is tasked with a mission to begin a revolution. In the final story that takes place in a post-apocolyptic society (2321) somewhere in Hawai, world has gone back to a primitive state. Zarchy, a tribe helps a much advanced human from other part of the world in her mission. Now all the main characters in these stories have a birthmark that resembles a comet thus connecting them. Are they the same soul taking re-births to bring a revolution of a kind against the wrong in every era? Are we repeatedly making the same mistakes? Do souls evolve and transform from one birth to another? Several of these questions to be pondered upon while watching this movie. I leave without disclosing any interpretations as every viewer may drive his own connection between these stories. But even if this movie is to be watched as six separate stories, it is a treat to watch. 

Friday, October 02, 2015

Ganapati Bappa Maurya!

Post my trekking, I indulged myself in the preparations for the Ganesha festival that Mumbai was gearing up for. Our friend Ganesh Bhai, had the background art for the Ganesha idol all planned. He had two ideas, one for the apartment Ganesha and the other to be arranged at a friend's house. I was lucky to be part of this because, I learnt a lot about a new form of art. Cardboards were cut in different shapes to form the outline. They were then joined and stuck to a hardboard that came from box material. 

On one of the works, we tried plaster of paris to fill the gaps in the work but it did not stick well. 

On the other, we planned a 3-D effect by providing wooden strips between layers and stuck together all the minute details of the final art.

A black primer was applied before the silver spray paint went on them. 

But it was the idol of Ganesha and some lighting that made this art work complete. By the time the first one was complete it was 11:30 in the night. We had to get to the second one.

For the one to be placed downstairs, Ganesh Bhai had originally planned colours like blue and orange to resemble a peacock feather but the black primer ruined the plan and we could not apply colours on them. So we went with gold and silver spray on that too. Again the lighting and the Ganesha idol completed this work at 6:00 AM on the morning of Ganesha festival. A full night was thus spent in doing some good and interesting art work. The joy that the process of doing an art work is unmatchable and this time it was a collective work from me, my Brother in law Dinesh, Ganesh Bhai and his son Shivam.  

Next morning at around 10 or 11, we all got together for the Ganesha pooja. It is always nice to observe the enthusiasm in the Mumbaikars during a Ganesha festival. 

I witnessed the 1.5 days visarjan. As it continued to drizzle, the crowd lovingly and enjoyably danced their way towards the lake and sent away their beloved Ganesha. 

During the Monsoon and Ganesha festival, that luckily coincide, is definitely the best time to be in Mumbai. Apart from that,  did make some local train journeys to meet my friends in Mulund and Vashi and my aunt in Kharghar. My sister as usual cooked some delicious Maharashtrian dishes that I like. This trip like all previous ones to Mumbai felt complete. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lonavala To Bhimashankar Trek

My trip to Mumbai during this Ganesha festival was well timed to include an interesting range trek of two days tracking the old trade route from Lonavala to Bhimashankar. I am told that there are several of such trade routes all around Maharastra that pass through the beautiful Sayadris. I was perhaps the first one to register for this trek about two months ago, as soon as my Mumbai tickets were booked. I was asked about my trekking experience as this one requires great stamina. We were to walk for around 65-70 kms in two days. 

I flew to Mumbai on the 11th and took some rest at my sister's house that day. Caught up on some sleep and at around 1AM my brother in law and I drove to Lonavala railway station. The meeting time was 2:30 AM at the railway station. The traffic on the Puna-Mumbai expressway was heavy and caused some delay but we reached well within time.

At the railways station, I met my 20 other trek companions. Most of them were regular trekkers with this group called Trekmates and hence knew one another. However, there were a couple of them who were new. 

At around 3:00 AM, after a short introduction, we set off on our walk. By 5:00 AM we had to reach a village. I fail to remember its name. So the first stretch of walk was completely in the dark so, I took time to know some of my companions. Tushar from Pune, an entrepreneur; Shailesh from Mangalore but brought up in Mumbai, a math teacher; Binoy and Advaith, fresh engineers; Ganesh, Engineer again from Pune but works in Mumbai. There were four girls in the group. Except for the one who gave up in the first stretch, the other three were super fit and in many ways better trekkers than some of the men. 

At the first village, we rested for about an hour at a temple premises. An old lady got us some much needed tea. However, the tea was made on a open stove that gave a strong flavour of smoke to it. But, at such a time, even that tasted like heaven. 

By now, the night had given way to dawn which had begun uncovering some delightful views to the eye. 

After having tea, we continued our walk. The trek pattern was almost similar through out. Ascend a hill, reach the plateau, cross it and then descend only to board another. It was fun to cross some water falls. The huge plateaus where filled with beautiful flowers like Balsam and this special purple flower called Karvi that blooms once in 8 years. We were only lucky to be on that 8th year and see it blossom in full fledge. 

Binoy was referring to the flower (karvi) when they just emerge out of the buds when he mentioned - « Kitne gandhey hein ye pool ». (How dirty are these flowers) That became a joke for us all through the trek. We called it the « Gandhey Phool » (Dirty flower) that blooms once in 8 years. He would always use the word Gandhey with a strong stress on « an » for everything. « Gandhey phool », « Gandha trek » «  Gandha panni ». 

We reached Kusur plateau and at one end of it is a tower of some kind. Below which is a house where stays a villager. He and his family welcomed us with some water and gave us some shelter to have our lunch. We ate our packed lunch, filled some water and then began the descent to Kusur village. Here we had to walk about 10 kms on tar road which would not be exciting so the trek lead had arranged for a tempo to transport us to next spot. Apparently, there was a delay of about an hour and a half for the tempo to arrive. So we rested by a small house. Requested the lady to prepare some lemon tea for us that tasted brilliant. 

As we began our next climb the cloudy skies began to pour. Thanks to my poncho, I saved myself and my bag from getting drenched. We walked for several kilometres to reach a village called Poderwadi. This is a small village comprising of not more than 10-15 houses. We were allowed to sleep in their community hall. We freshend up at the nearby stream and then had dinner at a villager's house. Chapati, sabji, rice and daal was more than what was expected at that time. Soon after dinner, we crashed. Our tired legs needed some rest.

Next morning, we got up, freshened up , had brekfast at the villager’s house and then left at around 7AM. More accents, more plateaus and more descents. The scene did not change much so more or less they all looked the same unlike in the western ghats of Karnataka. Of course the mountains of Karnataka are at much higher altitude than these so you get to see varying vegetation all through your trek.

After about four hours of walk, we reached Bhimashankar at around 1:00PM only to find a terrible influx of devotees. The peaceful walk had ended in a rather chaotic place; with people screaming, pushing one another to get in the queue and fighting over priority.

None of that mattered to us; the one’s who had cleared this endurance test. We had some food at a local restaurant. Tushar and I bid farewell to others who wanted to continue the trek until Karjat (A 4 hour long descend via Sheedi Ghat). I thought that, I would not enjoy this walk if it had similar views so, decided to take  a bus back to Mumbai from Bhimashankar. That, I think was the best decision. The trek was very good but there seemed always a hurry amongst the team to reach a destination. We had to reach a place by lunch time, or reach a place by dark which made the trek a little like a timetable.

I accompanied Tushar till Manchar on his Pune-Bhimashankar bus. From here, I had to take a bus to Alephata. Here, I boarded a bus to Kalyan. From Kalyan, I took another one to Panvel. It was fun. I realised how much I like being on the road- observing people, specially villagers and knowing their culture. I had a calm mind while returning as there was no hurry to reach anywhere in a designated time. It was one amazing trek for it tested my stamina. Let me not lie, my foot ached, I did crib about the long walks but in the end it all constituted in building the « never give-up » attitude in me. That is what treks of this kind do to you, it makes you stronger, both, physically and mentally.