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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Colorado Colorado

Two of my friends came to springs from Texas last weekend. On Saturday we took the cog railway to Pikes Peak summit. Pikes Peak is the worlds second most visited peak after Mount Fuji in Japan. I had fallen in love with this mountain the day I first saw it when I arrived at Colorado Springs, two years ago. The view of the mountains from my apartment complex always wanted me to go there. And the trip wasn’t a long wait. A week after I arrived, my sister came down from LA to see me; that was when I first drove all the way to the summit. The view at every height was awesome. We also had a halfway trip when my boss from India arrived. We could not go to the summit due to snow.

The day I got to know that people hike up the mountain on 13 mile long Barr trail, I was all excited and wanted to climb the 14,110 Ft high Mountain. And in 2005, a month before leaving USA, I fulfilled that desire too. Four of us hiked the peak; it was a total new experience which I might publish some other time. We took 14 hours to reach the peak, which is a little more than expected due to some not so nice experiences on the way. I do have the post ready and will post it soon.

So the only other way left to reach the peak that I had not taken was Cog railway. So we took it this time. It was a very nice ride all the way to the summit on cog railway, as it makes it way twisting and turning through the mountain. Beautiful sights, wonderful landscapes and views enriched this journey.

At The Summit

Later we stopped by the Garden of Gods, Balanced rock and few more red rocks stand brilliantly beneath the peak. I often used to drive there in the night, sometimes alone. The view of the city from there is just amazing ecspecailly as night falls.

That evening, we had been invited to a colleague’s house for an “open house”. She and her husband are totally involved in the archeological surveys, trips to canyons, and sites of remains with Indian rock art. And they had displayed their and a friends photographs and paintings for sale. We enjoyed talking to them, listening to the stories of every picture, that obviously was very special to them and they had memories attached to it. I was inspired by their interest, their hobby, their work during free time. I want to grow old physically but not mentally, I thought. The enthusiasm in this couple touched me. I had been going to the seminars at their archeology group since I was here last time and I truly enjoy their spirits.

Sunday, we watched a very bad Indian film in Denver called- Babul. Please don’t watch it if you haven’t. This is not the time for movies on widow marriages and that too made so boringly, I think these topics had long been touched and remade. “Choker Bali” though deals with the same theme but of different era, is brilliantly made movie which highlights clearly the desires and emotions and jealousy of a young widow, performed brilliantly by Aish.

So after that boring movie, we went to Denver downtown, we took a walk on the 16th street. I recalled my memories of being there on New Years Eve of 2005. How crowded it was; people dancing on the street, enjoying the last few hours of the year and then the moment celebrated with grand firework. And today, it was empty, but yet with glimpses of that same enthusiasm; some with the lighting; some within me and my memories. After a walk we had dinner at an Indian restaurant and returned back home.


16th Street Denver Downtown

My friends left to Texas this morning.

Like every other day, this day has begun with a new life for me. Every day a new beginning, a new lesson that brings me closer and closer to the ultimate truth. Well I am back to my Philosophical statements that make less sense when read. But this has been a day of hurried emotions of various types for various reasons. I miss being myself. But the countdown has begun – 5 days to go. I need to break free from this pool of emotions and going back to Bangalore, looks the only probable solution. I love to be lost in the crowd once in a while. I love to disappear from everything I know at least for a while. I love to break free from bonds at least for a while. After all everybody needs their share of loneliness. Not the sad one but the self exploration kind.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Skiing!

We went skiing last weekend. What a wonderful experience. We got ready by 7:00 AM and left town to Monarch ski resort on Saturday. The drive was slow and long as it was snowing slightly. After loads of laughter and fun during the drive, we reached the ski resort at 11:00AM. We put on required jackets, coats, caps, glasses and gloves and then hired the equipments – ski boots, ski with bindings and ski poles. You can easily hire them at the ski resort. After struggling through with the heavy boots to walk around on snow, we finally got into action. Before I began, I had fallen down. :-) A passer by helped me up and tried to explain me a little about skiing. So we all had our rounds of falling, which I think was the fun part. Then we had to take the chairlift to the top and start the real action!

Chairlift


Well sitting on the chairs was easy; it takes you up to whatever level you are comfortable with. But the worst part was to get down, the chair pushes you down while you need to be prepared to take off, and people miserably fail the first few times. I fell many times, and enjoyed watching others fall too. Since we were in beginners section, there were plenty to accompany us. :-)


Thats How You Fall!


A colleague of mine had previously undergone some classes, so he taught us the rules and it worked well after some trials. All you have to do is move your legs apart, bend the knees inward to stop, the skis need to pivot at the front and move apart at the back. If the skis get parallel, you are accelerating all the way down! And for beginners like me who don’t know how to stop, that is when we miserably fall and roll, but by the end of the day, it’s all fun; An awesome experience. Finally at the end, I skied all the way down at beginners area, without falling and got down the chair without tripping, which made me feel good. :-)

So after all that fun, we returned back home. It was a tiring drive since my body was already aching and over that, the road conditions were not so good; icy roads. Came back home, to collapse on the bed. Two days gone, but the body ache still knocks at my door. :-) But the fall, was all worth it.

Some funny moments –

- My first fall, I did not know how to get up.
- To watch others fall.
-Crashing down into each other. I was already there lying on the snow unable to get up and my friend bumped into me crashing.
- A lady coming to me and asking
“Don’t tell me you are skiing on just jeans.”
I nod and say – “yes, I am”
She- “What’s underneath that?”
Me – “Nothing” (with a big grin)
The expression on her face was worth watching. So I had to say – “I am not feeling cold.” :-)

- Fall from the chair is always fun until you get it right.

All together a fun experience, never to be missed if you are somewhere near a ski resort. None of us took our cameras, so I do not have specific pictures, but got these from some site.



Someday!

Friday, December 01, 2006

I Am Ignoring

I have been ignoring my blog and more than that my diary. I had not written my diary for almost a month after I landed in USA. So many thoughts went unwritten, so many emotions went unnoticed, and so many words just disappeared into mantle of forgetfulness. Relationships changed, new ones began, old one’s revisited and so many beautiful things felt and of course many tiring thoughts bothered. How I ignored my diary and my blog without updating my fun, my thoughts. I thought I need them no more, I thought I needed my diary less, but so wrong I was; I need my diary as much as I need to breath; I love my blog as much as I love my moments. And here I was thinking that I can just transfer my thoughts, deliver it at some other doors, but so wrong I was, to think so. My diary and blog is my best friend after myself and they can never be replaced. It is as true as the sky, the ocean or the sun. Ones best friend is none other than oneself.
So without wasting any more time, let me just brief you on what I have been doing in the US. One of the weekends we went to Sand Dunes National park. Isn’t it fun to watch a big heap of sand in between the greenery and mountains? Well for me the most exciting in the trip was, we got lost. We had some wrong map, or should I say correct map for wrong car. We had taken prints of a map that were suggested for four wheel drives, since they were primitive roads for a nice drive through the mountains. So in turn we did some research to go on a different way that again took us to some bumpy roads, making its way through small villages and forests; which was the fun part of the trip for me.

And of course climbing up the Sand dunes. I was unable to climb till the top last year, as it was terribly windy back then. But this time, I made it till the top, which was really tiring but once on the top, it’s all worth the pain. That’s what hike’s does to you; makes you go through the pain and then allows you to relax in midst of breath taking views.


Sand Dunes

That was the only trip I went on, other than Glenwood Canyons. I am not in a mood to travel a lot this time. I did have other plans, but they too died off due to some reason. I miss Bangalore and my family and friends there and this thought has made me eager to go back as early as possible.

I met a couple of friends from US and it felt so good to speak to them after one long year.

Spoke to a good friend from here, speaking to whom is always a great learning experience. He is a wonderful human being who enjoys life to the fullest.

Met another friend and her boy friend at Poor Richards Restaurant in Colorado downtown. Both teach in an university. It was fun talking to them about literature and their researches in respective fields. It’s very difficult to find someone who enjoys what you talk with the same spirit, who does not think you are crazy when you speak out your inner depths, inner thoughts. And this conversation was in the same manner fun, it was very nice to share opinions about one common interest.


Poor Richards is the best coffee shop I have been to in the US, maybe because of the company and talk we shared. But the ambience is excellent. Attached to the coffee shop is a book store where you get good second hand books for very few dollars. I found some Virginia Woolf books for $2.

Met another friend over lunch, who guides me to take proper decisions in investments. And met some other wonderful people from office.

We watched some movies in theater – “Don” (Not a good movie…I slept off) and “Umrao Jaan” (Worth watching, for excellent performance from Aish and good storyline)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Another Story

Can We Take It?

Sitting by the lake, observing the evening sky change colors; birds chirp back home; people walk their days stress out, I think of the moments from my past. An old man I am, tired of life. For the first time I feel older than my age or rather tired for my age. Is it possible to accept hatred? Accept jealousy? Accept harsh words and taunts even after showing all the love that is available? But then I have promised to myself to remain the same for this relationship. I have nurtured it with care, correcting all the mistakes from past, taking care that I don’t repeat them. But then after being so nice and humble and so very caring, is it possible to bare the not so appealing attitude in return? Know not me.

I watch people walk around, some happy, some sad, some depressed, some worried, some thinking, some confused. And in between them I sit, by the lake, full of emotions. Sad, yet the tears just accumulating; they never fall out. That is the worst thing to happen, I wish I could shed the tears out and let it flow with all my sadness, but they deny and they win the battle to stay there; blotting the eyes or should I call it like a sponge waiting to be squeezed. Why is this dissatisfaction? I think; not once but several times? Suddenly I start feeling so helpless, so unworthy. As though I cannot meet the expectations set. And I am left with an awkward but familiar feeling that dampens your mind, senses and thoughts. And the question repeats - can one take these words, in return of so much love and care? But haven’t I promised myself to remain the same? And then I got to stick to them, isn’t it?

I am an old man with confused thoughts, tired expressions, yet I don’t show it and I hide them all. And then the time flies, as though nothing has happened. The hour’s repeat, moments re appear, events happen again. And I find myself again in same situation, no matter what I do or how I behave. And such act makes one to analyze people, which is the worst thing to happen in a relationship. One should never analyze partners and best friends; it does more bad than good.

I watch the old tree next to me, standing there, brave and strong, straight and happy. Beneath the tree on the ground lies leaves, flowers that had long left the tree, in spite of all the care and nurturing; in spite of all the distribution of the inputs. That’s the rule of nature, the flowers have to fade, and leaves have to change, fruits have to fall. Nothing is for permanent but “self”. I agree to this thought that had just occurred to me. And in spite of all this life goes on like the standing tree, until one day the tree has to be free, from all the leaves, all the flowers. Though it sounds very exciting, though it sounds very peaceful, one has to wait for it. Loneliness scares people, and thus we go on growing more leaves, sprouting more flowers and fruits.

Life is such a tiring journey and one has to live it till the end, happily and then no matter what is at the receiving end, I need to give all that I have and overcome the dissatisfaction that is bestowed. Only love can kill hatred. But then, one needs to be like this old tree, bold and straight in spite of all the flowers, leaves and fruits falling away one by one. Hopes to grow more; shelter plenty, keeps one going till that end.

Yes, The end: So peaceful yet terribly lonely.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Hours

If you have not read the previous posts from this series, read Mrs Dalloway

The Hours -


One evening, Very depressed, very sad, almost lost on a battle, all I wanted to do was get some good movie and put myself into some reel life to escape reality. VCD of the movie "The Hours" caught my eyes first at the CD store. All I knew at that point about the movie was "Nicole Kidman" had won Oscars for her role in it. So it definitely was my first choice.

I came home, played the movie. The movie opens with the suicide of VW in 1941 after she writes a note to her husband. Then it unravels one day from life of three women from different times; unknown to each other, yet connected through a novel- Mrs. Dalloway.

VW (Nicole Kidman) from the year 1925, England has just begun writing her novel "Mrs. Dalloway".

Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) from year 1952, LA reading the book, Mrs. Dalloway.

Clarissa (Meryl Streep) from year 2001, NYC, leaving a life similar to Mrs. Dalloway.

So there begins a story of 3 women in one single day, all three so different from each other, yet connected in a mysterious way.

VW- Struggling to fight her insanity in this so called sane world which is no less than custody.

Laura- Is married with a kid and pregnant with another who wonders is this all she wants from her life? She feels lost in midst this so called perfect world of being a wife and mother.

Clarrisa- So much like Mrs. Dalloway hides her sadness beneath a blanket of smile. Throws party to celebrate and enjoy the moment, yet submerged with immense dissatisfaction bothering her this day.

So what does this movie end with? A note that one can take back, to love life for what it is, to live it in a way you want and to respect life to the fullest and then finally put it away. It tells you to live the hours, the moments, right there, right then. It tells you to follow your dreams and make the best decision in life which can vary at times based on the circumstances.

So after watching this movie, I still recall the reaction on my face, Stunned. I knew this had a solution for some or most of my problems, there was so much to convey and I felt so touched, yet I struggled to understand more about the characters, because I knew nothing about VW or her novel. So definitely I had lot of loose ends to be connected. Next day I went to the net and read so many reviews on the movie, novel and Mrs. Dalloway and of course VW. Then I came home and watched the movie again. So clear it was now, it felt as though I was going through a reincarnation. Since then the movie, the novel and the author, all three has influenced me in a beautiful way. It was a beginning of new “me”; a better “me”

Even today, when I am sad, when I am gloomy, I love to watch some selected movies. I think till date the most watched movie of mine during such lonely, sad times has been "The Hours" and following close is "Page 3". Page 3 again fills me with strength to accept reality and move on with life loving it for what it is.

I would like to end this post with a quote from VW –

I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.
-Virginia Woolf, Diary, 17 February 1922

Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.
- VW

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mrs. Dalloway

(Please read about VW first, which is the first post on this series.)

Mrs. Dalloway is a story of one woman in a single day of her life. The novel opens with the first sentence - "Mrs. Dalloway said she shall buy the flowers herself." - Shows, so much of brightness, so much of hope, so much of possibility.

And then the lady walks past the Bond Street, London, and as she observes every thing that happens there, slowly the author shapes her character and her state of mind.
As said earlier VW has used the Stream of conscious method, which actually depicts what ever goes on one's mind as and when thought. Our mind does not stick to one topic or thought, it keeps drifting from one to another, and the author collects them as it is.

There is one situation in the book, where every one on the street are observing an aircraft fly, which leaves behind a lot of a smoke, that appears to people standing below as to form alphabets, may be a “M” a “A” or some thing else. Mrs. Dalloway waiting there, looking up at the sky wonders what the alphabets are trying to convey. Actually this shows the confusion in mind of the onlookers and their state of mind at that point.

VW, creates a character similar to Dalloway, called Spetimus. Spetimus and Mrs. Dalloway are similar in their thoughts; both are going through same type of voidness in life – A sense of Narrowing of their existence.” Spetimus hates doctors who claim that he is insane. He struggles to pull himself out from memories of the war, friends he has lost over the battle and in this process has weird thoughts; suspicions bother him. I somehow think that VW somewhere tries to put her words through the mouth of Spetimus. He says, he hates human nature, he says he hates doctors; he says that they don’t speak for his interest. As VW never liked doctors speak for her, decide what her interests should be.

I always feel that VW, created Septimus as an image of Dalloway, as an image of her ill thoughts, the death of who teaches Mrs. Dalloway to appreciate life. That’s the balance of life; someone’s death inspires others to value life more.

Mrs. Dalloway is a story that allows one to appreciate life for what ever it is. I still enjoy reading the words in the climax. When Mrs. Dalloway observes an old lady in the opposite apartment, making bed for the night, she would sleep for another night and prepare herself for another day. This thought fills her with zeal for life. After all life is to live it as it comes and then put it away. Sleep and prepare ourselves for the next day.

I have used this whole concept of Septimus and Mrs. Dalloway in one of my stories. Where the main character, a middle aged man struggles to cope up with his age, struggles to find a motive to live. And left with no choice but death, or that’s what he believes. I have completed the story by providing two endings – Septimus and Dalloway. Even though the decisions taken in both cases are different, the theme is same, the answer is same.

VW, had first thought of naming this novel as “The Hours” before she changed it to “Mrs. Dalloway”.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Virginia Woolf

Wow! I wanted to write this since such a long time and finally its here on my blog. A tribute to my favorite author Virginia Woolf (VW) I would like to have three posts as a series....first I would like to introduce VW. In second, I would like to talk about one of her famous writing "Mrs.Dalloway" and in the third; I would like to speak about a movie called "The Hours" which is based on her and the novel Mrs. Dalloway as well. And of course all these three posts will behold the reasons why I am a big fan of her and her works.

So here I go -


VW - some see her life as gift to literature, some as a fight for women rights and some as a struggle with mental illness. But for me VW's life is a story of immense strength and courage against the worst experiences of life and understanding of thin line between sanity and insanity.

She was born on Jan 25th 1882. Both, her father and mother had children from previous marriages. VW's growing up years was very traumatic with series of deaths. Her mother died when she was 13 followed by death of her step sister Stella. (Who looked after the kids after their mother’s death) Her brother Thoby who is believed to be very dear to VW died when she was young. VW had her first depression soon after her mother‘s death. And added to the grief of these deaths, one of her step brothers sexually harassed her, which probably is the biggest reason behind her disinterest in sex through out her life.

In spite of these mental tensions, in spite of few attempts of suicide, in spite of the pain VW's literary work is a piece of genius. But she was always angry about the fact that women had no formal education during her time.

And she quotes thus,

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

Her book, "Room Of Ones Own" is completely based on this were she tries to argue the injustice at that time.

VW wrote many novels, short stories and essays. Among them Mrs. Dalloway is my favorite, about which I will talk about, in my next post. One of her short story- "Lady in the looking Glass -A Reflection" inspired me into a new world of writing that I never used or had read.

"The Legacy" is another story which probably is very easy to understand as compared to her other stories. I say that because, VW uses a style of writing that is not very common. It is called- "Stream of consciousness." Which is a literary technique that presents the thoughts and feelings of a character as they occur. Our mind isn’t stuck to one thought or event, it drifts from one instant to other, randomly; well these thoughts are collected as it is in her novels. So you would normally find her characters go through a lot of thought process and the image from their mind is displayed through magic of words.

VW's brother Thoby, began a get together at home, where he invited his friends from Cambridge, most of them were famous poets, writers or artist. Think of a time, when like minded people, with great literary background, sit in a room, sipping a cup of coffee or tea and discuss about their work, review each others writing, comment on politics or speak about anything that exists or doesn’t. VW enjoyed these talks a lot and of course who wouldn't love to talk for hours with like minded people? When ever I read an article on the group, I am so excited and wish that I had been a part of it too. This group is popularly known as the Bloomsbury group.

Depressions never come for one time and go away. They are not something that you fight once and then get rid off. They keep reoccurring again and again during lonely times. One needs to fight it till the end. So that’s what VW did, she fought it till the age of 51, bravely until finally one day she thought she had to choose death. This is why I see her life not as a failure but a success for 51 years. Definitely one would not have survived those years for such a long time and over that create wonderful works of literature and make a name out of her life, that the coming generation will read, discuss and write about, just like in this article.

VW left a note to her husband before she walked into the river near her house in Susex, which read -


Dearest,
I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be.

I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that - everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.

V.

I can just go on for ever like this about her life. But then there needs to be an end for this post :-) So I would like to just say that VW, her life, Movie "The Hours" and the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" became an inspiration to me; to fight my battles in life and understand life with a new perspective.

Closing with some quotes by VW -

" I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in. "

" If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people. "

" It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses. "

" On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points. "

" Really I don't like human nature unless all candied over with art. "

" Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title. "

" Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works. "

" Sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life. "

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tagged!

I normally don’t like tags but this was about travel – a word that excites me the most. So when Mridula tagged me, I quickly accepted it. I have changed the rules slightly for the people whom I tag.

Rules of this Tag:
1. Name the person who tagged you.
2. 8 Things about you. (Pick Any Topic)
3. Tag atleast 4 people.

1. Name of the Person who Tagged Me.
Mridula – I enjoy reading her travel stories and to view the mind blowing pictures from her journey that beholds beauty of nature with touch of human spirit.

2. 8 Travel Things About me!


1. I enjoy traveling in groups but once in a while I prefer going on a journey all by myself. Undoubtedly such trips become the most learning experience of all. One such trip that I regard as the best one I have ever had, is my expedition into a Tibetan Settlement. Got up at 6 one morning and decided to go on a totally unplanned trip to somewhere. A journey all alone is something that makes you notice things that otherwise goes unseen or unattended.

2. One thing I hate in a trip is people who do not share the same spirit as the rest. One dull person can spoil the spirit of entire group. So I try my best to keep the group rolling with fun and laughter.

3. I enjoy driving in USA, but I prefer to relax and watch out of the window as the car follows the winding roads near a mountain or a straight never ending road to nowhere, or a marine drive.

4. Even though I enjoy reading, I hate to take books while traveling. Because, nothing can be more exciting for me than a journey.

5. When I go to my hometown, I always take a walk near the beach either with friends or alone. And when I do so, I feel that I have been on a very long trip. Every time I go there it’s a new experience and I am sure, I will never be bored of any number of trips to the beach. I have been to several beaches in India and America but none has fascinated me as the beach near my house.

6. I love to plan trips and at the same time I also like to go on unplanned trips. One such interesting trip was a trip to Sakleshpura with a few friends from office. On this journey we traveled by every possible means, Bus, Train, Auto Rickshaw, jeep & Lorry. We planed to trek on the railway track but ended up taking a jolly ride on a test train, the engineers in which thought we were really tired of trekking. But the fact was that, we had just started walking few seconds before the train arrived. More than anything, what excited me the most was the spirit we four shared. It’s always fun to be with like minded people.

7. My dream is to hitch hike to some far away place, may be in some other country; may be all the way from Europe to India. Well I wish one day that dream would come true.

8. Traveling to some place, knowing people and the culture there makes me feel somewhere close to being a complete human being. One can enjoy the spirit of life to the fullest when on a journey, through one’s own experience as well as other. At times, Traveling also acts as medicine to me.

Every individual is in search of something more serene, something more beautiful and something more peaceful. After all what’s important is not what you do but how you feel at a given point of time. Traveling allows me to explore myself; experiment with myself; learn some lessons and most of all to live in the moment without past or future in mind. I would like to end this by repeating my favorite dialogue from the climax of the movie “The Beach”
-
“I still believe in paradise. But it’s not some place you can look for, because it is not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you are a part of something. If you find that moment, it lasts for ever.”
3. I Tag –

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Another Visit

I am in the US now, Came here this Wednesday. Until I landed in US, until I reached Colorado Springs again, I was not sure whether I need to be happy about this visit or not. Well, lot of fun in Bangalore, close to family, friends and relatives, fun and party. Was I prepared for another trip to a land so far away? But of course I had reasons to feel good about, to meet couple of people whom I met 2 years back. People I liked or admired and learnt a lot from. It would be a nice time to refresh my memories of the place were I have spent one long year of my life and I must say, I had lived that one year to the fullest. Of course there were some ups and downs as in every journey of life, but still, I regard it as one of the most satisfying experience of my life. That one year was my time of self discovery after a very troubled time; A perfect opportunity to develop myself personally and professionally.

Anyway, that was my first visit out of my country and I had all the good reasons to be excited about even though my main intension was to escape from what ever I knew back then. And now, it’s so different, for some explainable and some unexplainable reasons. Anyway, I did set off on yet another journey of my life; let’s see where it takes me.

After a rigorous shopping, buying everything I saw anywhere (that’s how I react when I am in crazy mood of shopping), after buying some gifts for friends in the US, Mahesh & I were supposed to leave home by 9:00 PM to airport, ended up going early after some calls from taxi driver saying that the airport road was blocked due to an accident.

A long wait in Bangalore airport; a not so good sleep in Bombay airport; motherly service by some nice middle aged airhostess in Air India flight who left no chance to scold the travelers, which actually appeared really weird; :-) A short waiting in Frankfurt airport; a long wait in Chicago Airport due to flight delay; laughing at every small joke that we could create on our way; all this and much more brought us to Denver.

Our friends were there to receive us. And as I stepped out of the airport and as we drove from Denver to Colorado Springs, I felt really good being back, it’s probably nice to be back for just 2 months rather than a year like last time, I convinced myself.

It’s been 3 days and I feel really good to be back, to meet couple of my colleagues and friends. Called mother, who is leaving today back to India, spoke to my sister, went on a long drive till Glenwood Springs, a place that I had come across on an unexpected trip1 year back, which has stayed with me still as one of the best places in which I enjoyed every accept of a journey – the nature, mood and weather.

So anyway, I am here now and will keep posted on what I do here, during weekends. Here are some pictures from today’s drive.
Snow Again!
Who Wouldn't Love To Drive Here?
And A Walk Here? (Thats Me)
Glenwood Springs

Friday, October 13, 2006

Being Host

Day 1

Bangalore to Mangalore - A Roller Coaster Ride.

I assured Mahesh that we will get tickets to Mangalore in KSRTC buses, at that early hour of dawn, very easily. It’s only after reaching there at 6:20AM, we were shocked to see all the Raja Hamsa (Deluxe Buses) full with people who had reserved tickets much earlier. I should not have forgotten that it was Dasara festival time, and people who could not make a trip previous night, would be also brave enough to travel in the first bus next morning, like us.

Some one told me that we could try the semi deluxe buses, for which we needed no reservations. Luckily for us, we happened to find two seats in a bus. Both the driver and the conductor were kind enough to locate some seats for us. So there began our ride. The journey was very tiresome, especially near the Shiradi Ghats, where the road condition is pathetic. One or two traffic jams and blocks delayed the trip further. Of course it’s always a treat to drive through hills and forest. So we both enjoyed the wonderful scenery along the way but had the roads been perfect, the journey would have been less tiring and less bumpy.

The Traffic Jam In the Shiradi Ghat Did Do something Good Too!

We reached Mangalore at 4:30 PM, after a much horrible stretch of road from BC Road. Straight away we walked into Pabbas ice cream parlor and treated ourselves with some cool ice-cream, definitely made for Mangalore weather and such pathetic road trips.

Reached Surathkal at around 6:00PM. Missed mother again (She is in the US with my sister Anu). Sadiq Who had been our driver for several years, came home to visit. It was nice talking to him after a long time. We got food from the mess and had a good dinner. At 8:30 PM we left to the beach. Met my friend, H on our way. H & I took Mahesh to our Private beach. (Well the one that we usually go to, always less crowded, unknown to tourists) We walked on the beach for a while, enjoying the breeze and the sound of waves that always is a serene music to my ears. After a small walk, Mahesh and I went to watch yakshagana (Folk dance of Karnataka). In two of the temples near my house, Yakshagana performance is conducted during all nine days of the festival. As kids all nine days were a treat to me and my cousins. When ever I go there, I recall memories from childhood, so many to haunt me; so many to make me smile, laugh and even miss them so badly. I bored Mahesh with some of the stories.

A Fight Sequence Between Godess Durga And Demons, Chanda And Munda.

It was a nice performance by a set of girls. After the yakshagana, we were too tired from the long tiring day so we returned home and collapsed on to bed.

In spite of the bad road trip, Mahesh loved Mangalore; the greenery; the tiled roofs; houses with large front yards filled with coconut groves and all sorts of trees and flowering plants; the beaches of course. And as a host I was glad that he did.

Day 2

Got up early and got ready. We had to meet my friend J near Mulki at 8:30 AM. But we got late by an hour, then all three of us took a bus to Udupi. Of course we both had many stories about Mangalore to be told to Mahesh. My college, buses in Mangalore, how dangerous driving is here and about the weather. We met another friend V at Udupi. After a light breakfast, all three of us took a bus to Malpe. Malpe is about 3 KM from Udupi. We got down at Malpe harbor which was filled with fishing boats and then we walked to the place from where we can catch a ferry to St. Mary’s island. This place was crowded with tourists as it was a Sunday. Normally they run boats to the island only till noon, but probably looking at the crowd they alter it slightly. The ferry tickets are RS 70 per head for a round trip. Thanks to my cousin A and my friend Vasu for providing me with all the necessary information regarding the place and necessities during our trip like water and food, because you will not find a single shop in the island. Probably that is why it is so beautiful, so untouched by human greed and if there is any bit of impurity there then it’s because of us throwing plastics, bottles and what not.

The ferry trip was for about 45 mins. Loud music was played to entertain the already enthusiastic crowd, even more. I bet this is a perfect one day trip if you visit Mangalore. We passed by few untouched, beautiful islands starring at us blankly as it would to any tourists. We had to switch to another small boat few yards from the shore as the jetty would not be able to go so close to the shore. Altogether the first few minutes of the trip itself, brought us to a feeling of total excitement and we could not wait to explore the island.

I felt very bad about the fact that living so close to this place, I had not been to the island before in the past 26 years. Plenty of coconut trees, awesome columnar rocks, heap of shells everywhere and of course the waves kissing the shore welcomed us to the island. Probably these pictures shall explain it better than the words.

View Of The Island From The Boat

Columnar Rocks Contribute To The Beauty Of Island

After enjoying the beauty of silence in midst of the roaring waves and wind, we took the ferry back to Malpe. This trip will always be a memorable one for me for so many reasons and the impression that the island left in me will provoke me to visit it again and again.

We returned back to Udupi, had a good food in hotel Diana and then returned back home. That evening, I took Mahesh to Mangalore, to his uncle’s house.

Day-3

We deserved a good sleep and much ordinary and simple day in the life of Mangalore. So I did not have any plans for this day except for a walk to the light house and beach near my house. Morning I took Mahesh around. Banana leaves spread wide, shinning bright with the sunlight; tamarind tree with its tiny leaves covering yet uncovering as though playing with the sunshine; variety of flowers, just beginning to wake up after a good rainy season; peacocks & peahens crying aloud. We tried to spot some peacocks, but they were probably hiding somewhere behind the bushes, midst the fields.

Around My House

During Dasara, in Mangalore many people dress up as tigers, lions, or some characters from Mahbhratha or Ramyana or simply as a skeleton or ghost and they walk to every house and perform. As kids we would run behind them and follow them to every other house. And this time, I was lucky to see a few come to our house during my last two visits. A group of people dressed like tiger stopped by our house to perform a Mangalore special tiger dance.


Evening at about 4:00PM, we walked to our village temple “Sadashiva Devastana”. I always love going to this temple, it’s on top of a small hill and the rear door opens up to beach in the west and gives you the best view of the sea. We had some nice time taking good pictures. Climbing up to the lighthouse was not allowed that day since it was a national holiday. But otherwise, the light house is open for visitors from 5-6 PM everyday.

We then had a nice walk on the beach, captured many moments in our camera. Sat on a rock and loved the play of colors on the evening sky. The mixing of colors always fascinates me, they mix with each other and then suddenly you are left with one dull color, grey. Sitting by the rock, with waves splashing on it as hard as it can is the best treat for me during the evenings. One could sit there alone or with a company without speaking a word and then walk away with a feeling of having spoken so much. The sound of waves; the mixing colors on sky; sun turning softer and softer and wind blowing crazily yet so rhythmic.

Suratkal Beach, View From The Temple

Man With Nature Complimenting Each Other

Every trip to the beach is special for me; I can sit there silently for however long and come back with a feeling of having learnt another big lesson about life. It fills me with lot of confidence and zeal for life. This walk was special as well. My thoughts drift from one to other and this time I spoke them out to bore Mahesh. :-) I have noticed very often that when ever we walk or spend an evening in beach we open up very easily, we begin to express ourselves in a much better way; I have seen this happen to me and also my friends. No wonder most of my poems and story concepts have evolved while I was in beach.

Beauty In This Wildness, Silence In This Roar.

The weekend was over; it was end of a nice trip back home. After dinner we walked to Surathkal, on the way we also saw a procession on Sharada Utsav, with lot of performers again dancing and enjoying the night. I never miss my trip to Mangalore during Dasara festival, because it’s the best time for me to recollect all those fun filled old days and experience all that fun again. Surathkal is lively as never, during this time of the year.

Being a host, I have enjoyed every bit of this trip, because it gave me an opportunity to identify so many new things about my own hometown, our culture, people and life here. It has given me an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of my own place through the eyes of another. It has allowed me to explore my hometown even further and refresh my memories, the past and bore the visitor with those stories. :-) And as for Mahesh, I bet he loved Mangalore. Isn’t it Mahesh?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cry Of The Peacocks

Cry of the peacocks, made me come out of my house, I was surprised to hear them so close to my house in Suratkal, during my short trip last weekend. I tried to spot one or two but probably they had been hiding somewhere in bushes, in the fields that spread beyond one's sight towards east from my house; the coconut trees, shook nervously in between the fields and green grass grown to achieving heights after a good rainfall.

All of a sudden, I realized that all this land has been sold to some builder, who will, in next couple of years to come transform it into a society, a modern city may be. The paddy fields will house huge apartment complex, swimming pools will replace the lakes and wells, coconut and mango grooves need to give way for malls filled with electronic gadgets, fancy clothes and shops having pictures of Swiss, Niagara falls, Massori and all the greenery from every part of the world. :-)
 
And then, people like me, will have to adapt to this new change, this new technology, because that’s what we are supposed to do as Humans. Humans only know to adapt, to change and if you fight against it, deny adjusting to the changes, then you are tagged as insane in midst of this so called sane world. Probably this is what Virginia Woolf meant when she said in Mrs. Dalloway through voice of a character, Septimus - I hate human nature; The act of pretending.

How much we pretend, how much we bound ourselves within phrases like-

"Don’t speak that way...”

"Don’t act like this..."

And of course all the wonderful mannerisms around us to guide our behavior.

But in the process, we are only adjusting and adapting to the new look of the world. I also recall how, nicely Aparna sen had captured the mind of a schizophrenic patient in her movie "15 Park Ave". She had compared Mithi’s (Konkana) state of mind with the Iraq-America issue. A war that will demolish an "Ismail marg", "Abdul road" or say "Baghdad" and will be rebuilt as "15 park Ave" or "time square".
And the old Iraq will remain in minds of few and then a history and then an imagination. Mithi (Konkana) denies coming out of this imaginary life that she has for herself, she is happy in it with her husband and five children, and wants to live with it. But then, she isn’t normal, she assumes things and she is tagged as diseased.

But who actually is diseased? One who wants to live a life of his or her own interest? Or one who keeps on adapting to changes till death? There is such a thin line between sanity and insanity. Or rather should I say being Human and abnormal?

And back to what I see, I may still find my small foot prints in the fields. Today when I look at the mango groves; I recall events from childhood of having stolen some mangoes from them and even getting caught. When I see the channels between the paddy fields, I recall my tiny hands, with some more for company holding towels for catching fishes. And then here today, the peacocks, monkeys, foxes, where will they hide? Will they ever sing again near my house? Will the peacocks ever spread its feather to display its beauty that probably is unknown to itself? All this events from past and present will remain only in my thoughts. And being a human, I need to be sane enough to adapt to the new changes and begin preparing myself to accept the shopping malls, and the apartment complex.

And slowly, unknowingly the present of today will soon vanish into an imaginary world.
Sounds so easy! :-)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Another Escape

I am in a crazy mood to scribble today. I have been thinking of writing a story or may be a poem, but can never make up time for it. Today the keyboard is with me, I have enough time to spend, so let me try to capture my state of mind since a few weeks.

Wow! What a relief it is to come out of that troubled re-occurence of events. How nice it is to feel good about having learnt a lesson from life’s experiences. So to put together in a sentence, I was not in a perfect mood from past few weeks. Lot of questions arising, lots of troubled thoughts; lots of confused moments encountered. Even though I had all the quietness in the world (benefit of staying alone) I could not get a decent uneventful sleep, how does it matter when there is no quietness inside?

When some thing makes us dull, that is when events from the past reappear like ghosts and mix up with the present to make it worse. So I had to put it away, had to trust a pair of ears to let go, and found one too. I tried to dispose of some thoughts by talking. (How much ever was possible) So that’s how I got rid of the past. But what about the present? It’s right in front of me, facing me, looking at me every day. I have to deal with it positively and need to hold myself strong, so that I do not create mistakes done in the past.

Analysis of previous experience have always helped me a lot, they tell you how to treat re-occurring situation, or rather, how not to. Well after spending some time with myself, I feel so good to finally have fought my trauma. And now it feels like heaven. I am back to normal, of course not that anyone outside could even get a faintest glimpse of the confusion in my mind.

What I learnt, is that knowingly or unknowingly, I always tried to attach myself with the past. I tried to relate things happening, with the events that had happened. It was all my perception. And in that process, I failed to recognize “the new” in present; its beautiful side; the vibrant new colors; an innocence untouched; a caring smile and all I was doing was to find my past in the present which for some reason I wasn’t letting it go, even though I thought that, I had. Today having learned this, it feels so free, and much better to say that I have escaped the Miasma again. All we need to do is learn from the past experiences, shape our present in an ideal way and not stick to it; not keep them stored behind the layer of consciousness. The solution is not in avoiding the present, solution is not in avoiding something nice and beautiful because of some bad past experiences.

At this point I recall the dialogue from the movie "The Hours". (which i had also mentioned here)

“You can’t find peace by avoiding life, Leonard.”

Virginia Woolf says to her husband Leonard to describe her need to move to big city London.

And of course the ending note from VW again on life -

"To look life in the face, always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is and at last to know it, to love it for what it is and then… to put it away.”

I am sorry; I know I am not clear. But this is the best I can reveal at this point.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Meenakshi Temple & Bannerghatta Park

It was Mahesh's idea to go on a drive during the weekend. We decided on the Meenakshi temple on Bannerghatta road. Sundar joined us. At 11:00 Am three of us took off on two bikes. Mahesh has recently bought a pulsar and hence is pretty excited about driving and as for me, already tired of the Bangalore traffic happily chose the back seat. :-)

We reached the temple in just half an hour. The temple is constructed by the same trustee that runs the Madurai Meenakshi temple. Of course this is a miniature version of the original master piece. But what pleased me the most about this place is its serene atmosphere. I loved the place for the divinity it generated in the midst of busy, hectic Bangalore life. For Bangaloreans, who want to spend some divine moments at a temple that provokes Bhakti, this place is a must go.




After spending some time at the temple and absorbing some grace both Mahesh and I agreed that the journey had to continue, not back home but to some place, even far. So we decided on driving to Bannerghatta Biological Park. We had to convince Sundar, which wasn’t that difficult though. Soon we set off on another drive. On our way to the park, we got lost by taking a wrong turn that would have led us to Annekalu. But that road, (seemed less taken) was even more exciting, that made one think of fleeing away on a long journey, to some place unknown, where no one knows you and you know no one; a journey that probably would never end. Sundar was the first to figure out that we were heading in a wrong direction and gave us a call. So we had to return back to the reality of two day weekend. :-)

Bannerghatta Park was a surprise. We took the Lion-Tiger safari. It was a good drive in a mini bus into the Lion and Tiger Park. Few tigers walked very close to the bus. A white tiger stole the show. Lions were dull, probably heavy with sleep after a good meal.

That Was A Heavy Lunch
After Lunch Walk
I am Cool, I am Different

After the short safari, we took a tour of the zoo. We were very disappointed by the maintenance there. Crocodiles looked as though they were on diet. :-) Monkey’s sad as never; a dirty duck pond which probably has not been cleaned for a decade. In spite of the tourist crowd, in spite of fairly reasonable entry fee, if this is the case, then it definitely needs some investigation. I would love to see this place developed as it is truly a big treat to have a national park, so close to one of the major cities of our country. (Only 22KM South of Bangalore) Need to check and contact the respective authorities.

Look, I can Walk With One Leg Closed.

A Drop Of Water Please

All in all it was a great trip. Bannerghatta road has plenty of nice Dhaba’s. So we treated ourselves with some good food, along the way back. Well that was a short, unplanned trip, yet for me a special one for various reasons. Every unexpected journey is special for plenty of reasons, for what is seen, heard or felt. At this point I recall a thought that had once come to me – “It’s not the place where we go or what we see, that makes trips memorable, it’s how we feel at that particular moment, is what stays.”


Weekends Up :-(

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Old Man Beneath The Tree Speaks

Have been away for a little longer time. :-) And haven't got anything to write. So I prefer to publish one of the stories that I wrote few years ago. It is about an old man, his thoughts and his experiences.

Old Man Beneath The Tree Speaks

They say life is a journey and we walk along. But things have been a little different for me. "Life is a journey and I am an observer"
So has it been always, sitting beneath the age old tree at the last hours of day, as the light diminishes, darkness takes over and even in the dull light one can see everything so clearly; so transparent.

They walked by the street near by and I sat there watching them. Some just walked away without noticing me, and some stopped by to talk for a while and very few actually joined me most of the evenings as I watched and only watched. As I watched –

The old man looked dull, but still with so much to talk. He stopped by and shakes hands and chatted for a while of everything that he could remember of; the country politics; his young old days and all the current issues. He talked and talked as if he had not for years and then he stopped as if he had realized something and then left. Half way gone he turned and smiled. The look was captured; his eyes bloated and the tears were received. So many unspoken thoughts flow or was it only my imagination? Or just an illusion? I don’t know but the eyes spoke, the thoughts did flow.

And then I sat again the next evening beneath the same tree watching people; having spent the previous night recalling the old mans words and then packing them all behind the pillow and sleeping for the rest of the night as if there never existed a day.

One evening an old lady murmured some words to herself as she walked by me. Some words of pain, some thoughts of sadness and the wind that flew past her loosely left hair came near me, with the miasma, with the silence that always follows the eruption. Words split, stories unravel, possibilities increase and then follows the questions - Is this all an imagination? Only an illusion?

Days change, sun rises and then sets and I sit waiting, for whom? I don’t know. People drop in words like one drops post into a box and they leave as if assured that now the letter has reached its destination. They smile, take one and move and some never look back. But those letters, I carry and keep them in safe locks, closets and drawers.

They come to me sometimes weeping, sometimes smiling, sometimes dull, and sometimes defeated and they talk as I listen. One would talk about his age old stories, another on his failures. One spoke of her traumas; horrible childhood memories and other of her love stories or nightmares. One spoke of his ambition as another would talk of the hobbies. So I had no less of these stories which I couldn’t even share or re- mention. So it always stayed inside the closets of my room permanently locked, always in there I don’t know hiding from what?

So the letters where dropped every single day or was it every single hour? The postman usually receives the letter and then takes them where it needs to go but all I could do was collect them as may be they were some treasure and make a heap of them behind the locked doors of my room. So there they lie even now, untouched for so many days, but still they lie there undisturbed.

One must be wondering what I did with them? One may not find out why was this anxiety to listen to others pain? Was it to have fun? Forget ones own? Or just to make others feel that they are felt? If you ask me I may not answer this even if I know the answer, so please don’t ask me, instead watch me sit every evening beneath that tree and try to look at my eyes. Not a single person who passed by my tree did that. So will not you. Because people always want to be listened so they go on and on. And one day when they think all they had to say is finished they walk away and that’s when I realize that I haven’t spoken at all. All through the conversation I was only a listener and then I smile and walk back for another night.

One day I walked through a forest with another companion who stayed there in the deep forests; where wild animals howled in the dark; the rattling of leaves is no more music. That night I could not sleep, I went out to the forest and slowly began to explore my friend’s home. On the way I saw the deer’s, peacocks, tigers and fox. They appeared to me as shades or images of one common animal.

In the deep woods as the daylight struggled to enter I realized that I am lost. I cried, wept to free myself from this imprisonment; to break away the chain of clay that bonded me. That was when all the locks exploded and the words came out, as if like the fire from a volcanic eruption. And they all flowed out of the room, from the closets, from the drawers into the narrow pathway. The words haunted; smiles and cry where scary and every thought pricked. Was it still an illusion? Still an imagination? Know not me.

And as I stepped into my room that was filled with letters and words and thoughts I saw that deep beneath the heap, where some more unnoticed words; some more thoughts that I had never encountered. And it dint take me long to notice that they where mine, so much wanting to come out of the room, so much wanting to be listened but always got submerged beneath the words that rushed in, always moving back toward the shell. That was when I decided to sit beside the tree and talk as I listen. The room was cleaned and the words locked behind the closets and I was there as always sitting beside the old tree to share and receive.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Series Of Unfortunate Events

In the month of May 2005, Seb, Jon and I were in Indianapolis, Indiana USA for a month on official work. The month as a whole was a very memorable experience. We drove to Brown county national park where nature’s display of greenery was at its best. We drove to Niagara Falls and Old fort Niagara from there. We tried all the Indian restaurants in the city and enjoyed some good training programs and met interesting people. But the last three days makes this trip the most memorable one. Well here’s why its so –

June-2nd-2005 …Thursday

Bj, Sush (My colleagues) were working in Indianapolis office. So that evening, we all decided to go out for a dinner together at an Indian restaurant in the downtown. After parking our car at a main junction in Indianapolis downtown, we walked around, enjoying the beauty of the place. We searched for the Indian Restaurant and had a good dinner. By the time we were done and reached near the junction, it was 20 minutes past 10 PM. We went round and round the junction but did not find our car. The board next to the parking lot said that we could park cars only till 10:00pm. So one thing was clear - Our car has been towed away. The gorgeous blue Sonata was towed away!

Indianapolis Downtown Square.

Now, none of us had had this experience before, so we all started discussing how to go about it. We called 911 and tried to find out how to handle this. The lady at the other end told us where we needed to go. Since the audio was not clear, we had to hang up the phone without properly understanding her. Now next thing was to search for the place. We walked into a hotel near by and asked for the directions to this place. After getting few hints from them, we started walking towards the office, where we expected to find our car. This place was only about 2-3 blocks away, so we reached the place very quickly. There were some more folks like us; some worried, some pretty cool, as though it wasn’t something that bothered anymore. Jon had to go in and talk to some guy as the car was rented on his name and we had to pay a fine of $65.

Well now the question was – “where is our car?”
Answer – “8 blocks from here sir, we keep all the cars there.”

So we walk again for about a mile or so, at almost midnight hour to the suburbs of the city. If we hadn’t been a group of 5, one could not even think of walking on those roads all alone at that odd hour. The streets appeared to be dangerously deserted. Houses around the street carried a touch of poverty as compared to the rest of the city. But anyway, while in a group, such experiences are always a fun. We had our share of jokes and then reached the place. Plenty of cars still waited there for their owners. After this tiring experience, we returned back to our hotel and collapsed on the bed.

June-3rd -2005 -Friday

We had nice plans for the evening; to watch a Hindi film “Bunty Aur Bubli” at one of the IMAX Theater at the city museum. Jon, Seb and I pushed out of office a little early and after freshening up, drove to the theater. Obviously we were very happy trying our driving turns on the beautiful blue Sonata.

Seb was driving, I sat next to him. Jon was in the back seat. So as usual, we were talking loud, joking and having fun. When we were near the parking lot, there was a good looking girl who smiled at Seb and neatly offered him the parking lot ticket. As always we loved pulling Seb’s leg. (He is the silent type)

Seb was so over excited by the fun that he quickly hit on gas to accelerate. We had to take a slight turn and enter into the parking lot and a pillar stood in front of us. Seb drove straight and hit the pillar with a banging sound. The side mirror crushed and turned facing me. We were all laughing till that moment and suddenly all of us turned shockingly silent. Seb just took off and the entire side of the car dragged itself past the pillar. Obviously our mood was out. We did not know how to handle this situation. Of course the company insurance would pay for it, but still this was a situation which we did not know how to handle at that moment.
Surprisingly the movie “B Aur B” managed to take away the tension for at least a few hours. Once we were out of the world of Bunty and Bubli, the bad shaped Sonata, brought us back to reality.

The After Effects.

June-4th -2005-Sunday

So after all these bad events, we are ready to say good bye to Indiana and board our flight to Colorado. Our flight timing was at 2:00 PM. After calling the Hertz, we found out that the insurance from the company would cover the expenses and we only had to fill up a form. This reduced our tension a little and we decided to have some good Mexican food for lunch. Well now this place was really late in service as they had just opened couple of minutes before. So after eating the food in a hurry we rushed to the airport. Went directly to return the car and filled out the required forms. After which we waited for a bus that would take us to the terminal. By the time we were near the counter it was 1:30 PM. The lady at the counter said that we could not board the flight as we had to be at least 45 minutes before the take off. She could not send our check in baggage now to the flight. :-( She then enquired about the next flight and put us on it. And that was at 7:30 PM. That is, waiting for 6 long hours in airport.

After that long wait, it was not so smooth journey again, due to lot of turbulence. A funny apprentice flight attendant, who was scared for any beep in the plane, kept entertaining us. So finally we reach Colorado Springs and a big loud sigh manages to let out all the worries. We were home!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ernakulam

It has been a very long weekend than anticipated and even more exciting than expected. Here is what I was up to in the last couple of days –

Saturday the 12h of August –

I reached Mangalore a little late than usual, at about 8:30 AM. The house appeared hauntingly silent; kitchen was abnormally clean like it had not smelled the Indian spices for ages and refrigerator stood strangely empty. Yes, Mom isn’t home. She is in LA with my sister Anu. And my father is alone and gets food from a near by mess. :-)


This day went by nicely. I took a good nap, tired from the jerky road trip. Later at 8:30 PM, after dinner I met Vasu at Suratkal bus stop. Our bus to Ernakulam / Cochin from Mangalore KSRTC bus stop was at 10:00PM. We reached Lalbagh at around 9:00 PM and my eyes quickly turned towards the Pabas Ice-cream parlor. How could I be in Mangalore and not taste the Special ice cream? Yes, Ideal and Pabas ice cream parlors in Mangalore offer you best ice creams in the world. They are simply different and great. I haven’t tasted such excellent ice cream anywhere else, until now. And Ideals ice cream parlor is three storied and offers more than 60 varieties of ice creams. So after treating ourselves with Banana split ice cream we walked to the bus stand to find the bus already waiting for us.

Sunday the 13th of August –

We reached Cochin or Kochi or Ernakulam at 9:00 AM. My father had been in Ernakulam for 8 years. My mother and sisters have also lived there for some time before I was born. So I have heard a lot of stories from them about the place and thus when Vasu mentioned about a trip to Guruvayur temple, I wanted to include Ernakulam in it. We checked into some fairly cheap lodge and got ready within half an hour. After our breakfast, I spoke to the manager and collected some information about the Boat tour that takes us to different islands near Kochi. We did have some trouble finding the KSTDC tourism, but a teashop owner who had some funny name for his shop, which meant “Mayor Of London” or something, like that he said, helped us find another agency. We booked tickets, but the tour would begin only at 2:00PM he said. So he helped us find an Auto, which could take us to the Hill Palace and Chottinakara Temple.

We reached the Chottinakara temple first which is about 10 KM from Ernakulum. There are two temples, one old and the other new. We could visit the old one but the new temple was closed. Some interesting things to notice was Banyan trees were nailed with dolls. People suffering from mental illness or as people say – affected by evil spirits, are said to be cured. The entire tree was covered with small dolls nailed to it.

We then moved to the Hill palace, which now is a museum. There isn’t anything noticeable about the palace architecture. But the collection of antiques and jewelry is worth watching. A huge dinosaur statue behind the palace, took us by surprise. Deer park is fairly well maintained place.

Hill Palace



This deer was not interested on feasting over the freshly brought lunch instead, relaxed watching other deers crowd for the food.
After lunch the Auto driver dropped us back to the place where we would begin our ferry trip. The boat was well crowded. We were first taken to the Wellington Island. On the way the naval base and Ernakulam cosmopolitan city with its multistoried buildings and apartments formed an excellent treat to the eyes.
View of Ernakulam City From The Boat

At the island, we first visited the Matancherri palace, which again is a museum now. The palace was gifted by the Portuguese to king of Cochin for allowing smooth operation of trade. Again, the palace is not very impressive if compared to Bangalore or Mysore palace. But the Kerala mural paintings are something to look out far. The walls are painted with stories from Hindu epics. But sadly most of the paintings have faded off due to lack of proper maintenance.

A temple within the palace premises was closed at the time we were there. But it looked very impressive from outside.

We then walked to Synagogue. Synagogues are Jewish temples and there are about a dozen families of Jews who stayed back in Cochin. Well I was not allowed to enter the synagogue because I as wearing short pants. So I had to rent out a pant for just RS 10. (Which are readily available at the near by shops) Even though I could not clearly make out how the prayer is performed, it was nice to see a Synagogue with a brass pulpit at the center & blue painted tile floor.

A Street in Jew Town With Excellent Collection of Handicrafts

After this we took off again and viewed the Chinese fishing nets that are being used till date by the Kochi Fishermen. Some spectacular views were captured by the camera.

Chinese Fishing Net

There is a small island called Balghatty, a palace there has been converted into a 3 star hotel run by the government. We did not actually stop there, but took a glance during our return.

We reached back by 5:20 PM. Raced back to the hotel, freshened up and took off for another expedition. I wanted to watch Kathakali – Folk dance of Kerala. When enquired with the Auto driver, he had mention about this place where they conducted Kathakali shows daily. It is called “See India Foundation” and is located near Ernakulam railway station. We found out that it was at a walk able distance from our hotel. On our way we also stopped by a “Darbar hall”. An exhibition of Kerala mural paintings by three girls were being held there. The paintings were reasonably cheap and both Vasu and I liked them. We enquired with the girls about how to get them shipped to Mangalore and other information if we needed to order some. After a quick talk with them we speeded to the Katahakali show.

Now, this was something that I had least expected. When we reached there, the show had already begun. The director was speaking about how the dance evolved. And two artists were applying makeup on their face, right there in front of us. The director gave a very nice explanation of the dance forms, steps, expressions, paints used and stories enacted. The room was filled with foreign tourists.

Performer, displaying the makeup.

The director first told us the story and then the actors enacted the same. It was much clear to understand the performance after the story had been told. Because Kathakali actors do not speak, all the conversation is done through expressions and sign languages. Director had clearly explained to us different symbols and expressions before the play began. All together it was a spectacular experience.



Tired from the day’s adventure we collapsed on to the bed after our dinner.

Monday, 14th of August –

We got up at 5:00 Am and in half an hour we were ready to check out of the hotel. We walked to the railway station. Our train to Guruvayur left Ernakulam at 6:00 Am. It’s a passenger train and I am not sure if bus takes lesser time. Well this train took 2.5 hours to reach Guruvayur. But unlike previous trains that I have been in, this was barely crowded. I enjoyed the journey as the trained twisted and turned between the palm groves, green fields & rubber plantations. It felt like I was somewhere close to home. After reaching Guruvayur, we took an Auto to temple which is not more than a kilometer from the station. Now here we had to change to “Panche / Veshti” (A traditional dress for men) to enter the temple. So we kept our luggage and chappals in the cloak room and stood in a queue that was 10 times longer than the train that we had just traveled in. The temple was over crowded and after 3 hours of waiting in the queue we finally got to get in. Bala Krishna idol, spectacularly painted mural paintings, excellent carvings on stone within the main shrine made all that waiting for so long negligible.

We then took another auto to Annekotte, this is about 4 KM from temple and houses more than 60 elephants. Now this again was an unexpected exciting part of the trip. It was awesome experience to watch one dedicated mahout for each elephant. They trained it well. Mostly when spoken in Malayalam they clearly understood the instruction. It’s worth spending an entire day there watching how the elephants are trained, fed; take bath and some misbehave too. Yes there was this one elephant who denied coming out of the pool even if the mahout ordered it. The elephant kept splashing water more and more showing its disagreement. He finally had to beg her for return. :-) The whole episode was very funny and nice to watch. They all assembled for lunch near the main building.


Elephants Assembling For Lunch

By then it was very late, so we decided to move. We took a bus to Trissur. After enquiring about the railway and KSRTC Bus timings none suited our plan. So we finally booked a private bus which not only would reach Mangalore early but also would drop us till Suratkal. After that we took an auto to state museum and palace museum in Trissur. Both were closed because Monday is a holiday in most places in Kerala. So if you are planning a visit to some historic sites of Kerala, keep Mondays out of the way.

We then visited Vadakunathan Temple located in the heart of the city. The temple architecture is spectacular. If you are anywhere near Trissur, definitely do not miss this temple. It houses many small temples within the premises, main being the Shiva temple at the center. The temples are hexagon shaped made of wood mainly, and a spectacular bronze roof. (I think it’s bronze)

We then walked past the busy streets of Trissur, yet enjoying the crowd. A cathedral near the city built in 1930’s is also good place to visit. To kill time, we continued walking on the streets of the city, bought some Kerala special food items like, Banana chips and my favorite Shakarvati. Had a good dinner at some restaurant and then returned to the bus stop. We left trissur by 10:00 PM, totally exhausted by the long day.

Tuesday, 15th of August –

I reached home at 7:30 AM. My sister Anu called from LA to give me good news that she had given birth to a baby boy. So I am an uncle for the fourth time. After a small nap and breakfast, father and I left to Padil; to my uncle’s house to attend a pooja. It was nice talking to cousins and relatives. After lunch, I took a bus to Pollali. I have had strong faith in Pollali Rajarajeshwari Goddess since my college days. And if you haven’t been here or plan to be in Mangalore do visit this temple. Three huge idols made of mud attract the devotees. People also say that it hides golden idols within. The idols, people say was covered with mud once when the place was under threat of attack by some foreign king.

I decided to add some more to the adventure, so I took a new route back to Suratkal through Bajpe. I had been through this road before too and this time it brought back the memories.

Later I met my relative/friend/neighbor Harsha and we took a walk near the beach. How could I miss the beach during a trip home? It’s totally out of question. Well on our way, I was surprised to see 4 peacocks. Harsha told me that they are always there. Two ships in the beach were completely lit up. They celebrated Independence Day by shooting out spectacular fireworks. This was an unexpected treat again. I returned back home and packed my bags for yet another journey, back to Bangalore.

Tuesday, 16th of August –

At 6:45 AM, when I had to be near Bangalore, I was still in Sakleshpura Ghat; stuck in a traffic jam all night. At dawn, the traffic jam was cleared and we finally got rolling again. It was again an amazing view; hills covered with mist. There is something mysteriously beautiful about the things covered with mist or snow. They hide and unhide nature’s beauty in an appreciable manner. I enjoyed my trip back and called my colleagues to let them know that I was not coming to office. I reached Bangalore at 1:00 PM.

So this has been a wonderful long weekend for me, lot of experiences, lot of fun, lot of learning’s, more pictures and of course much more traveling. :-)