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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Munish

I first met Munish in Suratkal bus stop as I waited there for my bus to college. Munish had a very nice sweet, childlike smile that I am sure attracted anyone to make friends with him. My first impression on him was obviously very good and I wanted to know more about my new friend. He was in the first year while I was in my final year of engineering. We occasionally traveled in the same bus to college and during that one hour journey we had good conversations. As both Munsih and I had completed our pre-university education from the same college, we obviously had a lot to discuss about our time spent there, lecturers we liked or disliked, subjects we enjoyed or the tuition classes we attended. We both enjoyed reading novels, hence that was one another topic to discuss about our favorite novels and authors.

During my conversations with Munish, I realized that he was a much matured human being even at that young age. Behind his innocent smile was a thoughtful human being, kind at heart. No doubt he spoke extremely well on any topic that withheld so much of maturity. He did not just speak for the sake of talking, like many do but his every speech was thoughtful and well etched with sensitivity and sensibility.

Maybe my talks with Munish can be easily numbered but every one of them where wonderful. I truly enjoyed the discussions and sharing of opinions. If I had had a younger brother, I would have definitely liked him to be someone like Munish.

After my engineering, I moved to Bangalore and got busy with my job hunt. I do recall meeting Munish once after that, in Suratkal, while I was back home on vacation. I spoke to him for about 10-15 minutes about his studies, his hobbies and life in general. I then returned back to Bangalore and got too much involved in my own day to day routines. Every now and then I did remember Munish and while I was in Suratkal, hoped to run into him, but that never happened.

Three years later, one day when I was in my friend K’s house he showed me our college magazine of that particular year. He had managed to get it somehow. As I opened the first page of the book, I was shocked by what I saw. I had not expected, in my wildest dreams to see Munish’s picture in the obituary section of the magazine. My dear friend was no more. K told me that he had died of cancer. That entire day I was unable to recover from that schocking news. Several questions bothered me –

“When did he know about this?”; “How should he have reacted?”; “What had he been through?”

I recalled some of my conversations with him on his ambitions and goals in life. The same words made me sad now. For some unknown, unfamiliar reasons I felt terribly helpless. I felt bad for not being with him during his last days. Not that it would have helped in anyway but these are the bonding and friendships that make us accept and bare the bitter truths of life.

That evening, I returned home to read through the pages of my diary, where Munish’s name still exists and can never be erased. “This is all I can do my friend.” I remember thinking at that time, with moist eyes and mind full of words that had once gathered in.

Even now sometimes as I walk past Suratkal town, I hope to meet Munish and then suddenly the picture of his on the college magazine brings me back to reality.
Munish has left this world but not the pages of my diary or the thoughts of many of his friends. This brings me closer to the fact - people may die but their memories live on forever in the minds of their dear one’s.

Munish will be always remembered as someone with a cheerful, friendly smile and much matured thoughts.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Kaiga Escapade

How often do you get to go on a trip and start it with a fight, more fight and then end it with a fight? How often you go on a trip and mess up the plan but still enjoy the adventure involved in it? Well this trip to Kaiga was one such roller coaster ride.

The adventure started earlier than expected on Thursday afternoon (Jan-25th), when a guy from the agent’s office, from whom we had booked our bus tickets appears at our office saying that there has been an accident with the bus we were supposed to travel in and thus he would arrange for a qualis. My very first thought at this was- “bogus”. We quickly did our background work by calling the head office and Karwar office to only find out that the guess was right. That was it, the next thing; five of us take off to the main seabird travels office to confirm our tickets. The person at the main office says that he has stopped offering tickets to this agent and our onward journey ticket is fraud. So we go to the agent (At Anand Rao Circle) from whom we bought the tickets and try to resolve the issue. He manages to throw some fake story by seeing our anger. We deny traveling in a Qualis and ask for a Swaraj Mazda. Finally after a long debate and argument we settle down to a Tempo traveler. Thinking that everything is solved, we happily walk out and pack our bags to be ready by 7:30 PM. I along with four other friends wait near South end circle, Jayanagar for almost an hour and a half and finally our driver; Mr Hero arrives. Stout guy with a big tummy, curly hair, bulging eyes; I reminded me of a Yakshagan Bannadavesha artist. (Yakshagana artist who normally dress up as demons; often hugely built.)

So are the issues resolved? Well, not if your driver does not know where to go. He asks – “Where do we go?” Answer – “Kaiga”. Hero – “Which way to take?” We look at each others face and then say, “Ok let’s drive to Malleshwaram first to pick up the rest of the group.” And the next question shocks us again- “How do I go to Malleshwaram?” So finally we manage to reach Malleshwaram at around 10:30 PM due to heavy traffic. The rest of the guys board and we take off. Fun and laughter follows. At around midnight we all were terribly hungry and thus start looking out for a decent dabha on the way, one of us spots a dabha and shouts for halt. Even before the rest of us could turn to look at the place, Mr. Hero comes to an abrupt stop by screaming the vehicle almost into the dabha. Well we were not the only one’s hungry. Mr. Hero grabs on to a big stack of roti’s and curry and has a good satisfactory meal. Few hours gone, he complains about intolerable sleep and we recommend him to rest for a while. He nicely manages to lie down on a seat by asking one of our friends to move back. So there he is sleeping peacefully while we sit awake unable to stop laughing at this pathetic situation. We spend an hour cracking jokes, laughing at every comment and then realizing that we would be late try to wake him up. He manages to extend it for another 10 minutes after which we force him to resume driving.



Restricted view from the TT for 20 long hours

Next morning when we wake up we find us still near Hubli. As if all this delay was not enough, we again take a wrong route to further make the situation worse. We drive to Sirsi on a not so good road. In spite of pathetic road condition, longer route and slow, in experienced driving from our Hero we manage to catch some spectacular sights on the way which tries to relax our growing frustration. Finally we reach Kaiga at 6:30 PM. We say Bye to Mr. Hero as he continues cribbing about journey back alone and duty next morning. At Kaiga, M’s uncle had made all the arrangements for us there. He had arranged for an apartment in the township which made things much easy for us there. That night, tired by sitting in the tempo traveler for more than 18 hours, we went to bed soon after dinner.

Next morning we were on our way to Yana at about 7:00 AM. We stop for some Mangalore buns and tea for breakfast on the way. Thanks to the driver, we reach there ahead of time. You could trek all the way till the rocks which are about 8 Km’s from the main road on a mud trail or instead you can drive till last 1.5 Km’s and then walk. We choose the later and find it to be the best. The walk to the rocks was fun, as the trail unleashed some beautiful views of the forest which waits there to be explored.



Lets walk off the trail for sometime.



Every road leads you to somewhere provided you know where to go.



Bhariraveswara Shikhara
The tallest peak, Bhariraveswara Shikhara stands 120 meters high, whereas the Mohini Shikhara is ninety meters from its base. A large cave, measuring about three meters at the entrance, has a Shivalinga. Water drips from the projecting rocks over the linga, and devotees call it Gangodbhava. The priest explained to us the mythological and scientific reasons behind this rock formation and left it as a mystery still to be solved. After taking a tour around the rock we headed back to the vehicle. Went off track and tried a not so used trail to get to the parking lot.

From Yana, we drove to Sirsi, had food and then stopped at “Sahasra Linga”. By the side of river “Shamala” on many pieces of rocks you can find Shiva Linga carved. Because of these uncountable carvings, the place gets the name "Sahasra Linga" (Thousand lingas).



Count the Shiva Linga's

We try to make it to Magodi Falls before dark, but end up reaching there only after sunset. Disappointed we drive back. On the way we stop by a tea shop in between the forest. I consider these few moments spent here as the best time of the entire trip. Sitting on top of the pillars near the gate I enjoyed the beauty of night life in midst the dark forest. A couple of us chatted as we tasted on some charmuri / Girmit (A dish) and tea.



Tea Shop

On the way back the leaf spring breaks, the rear door latch gives up and we had to hold the door shut all the way till we reach home, controlling our sleep. :-)
We had dinner at M’s uncle’s house, which tasted like heaven after that tiring trip. Thanks to Uncle and Aunt for all the pain to be awake till 1:00 AM to serve the nine of us. A nice walk back to the apartment refreshes us.

Next morning we have another bad news. The agent from whom we had booked the tickets has not paid the money to the owner for the return journey as well. So the People at Karwar office ask us to pay the amount again and board the bus. We decide to look into this issue later so that it does not affect our plan. After thanking uncle for his immense help in making our stay there so easy and enjoyable, we board the bus to Karwar. A passenger in the bus gives some information about the Karavali utsav (Carnival) that was going on and also insists that we stay for some performances by some popular artist.

After reaching Karwar, we quickly begin to search for a hotel room to dump our bags. All the hotels were over booked due to the carnival. We finally manage to find a hotel, after dumping our bags and having lunch we take an auto to the beach. We try to enquire about a boat ride to Devbagh Island but it was way too expensive and we did not have enough time to spend there as well. So instead we decide to just chill out at the Karwar beach. All of us throw ourselves into the water and enjoy the waves.



Karwar Beach

We then walk through the Karavali utsav and taste the Vada pav and ice-cream. After freshening up and checking out of the hotel we go to the seabird office all set for another argument. The owner at Karwar office forces us to pay the money again and denies allowing us to board the bus if not done so. After a failed argument, we decide to call the police. Constable and traffic inspectors accompany us and argue on our behalf. This made all the difference. Constable says – “if these nine guys are not allowed to board, the bus parks in the polices station tonight.” :-)
So after all this hungama; with every passer by stopping to take a share of our story with him; every person eager to fight; constable at our side we finally board the bus. Previously rude driver later lowers his voice and offers us great hospitality. We all team up at one sleeper compartment and discuss the whole issue with loud laughter and noise.

I can not say that this was a nice trip according to places seen, journey enjoyed or natures beauty discovered or even culture explored. But in spite of all these miss giving’s this trip was a memorable one, for all the fights, adventure, the excitement, the laughter, the comments, the jokes and totally unexpected moments. I love to summarize every trip to recollect the moments lived, the people I met, the culture I explored and finally the lessons learned. This trip did teach me many lessons starting from the bus booking; basic planning; alternate solutions; managing people in every new place you visit and last be well prepared for arguments or fights if needed. :-)
PS: - Do not book any bus tickets from Sea Bird office at Anand Rao Circle, Bangalore. They are not valid agents for the travels.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Decode The Secrets

I was supposed to post my travelogue on Yana trip but I apologies for not being able to make up the time to prepare that draft yet. Instead I would like to brief on a short thought that occurred to me yesterday.
“Life is full of incidents, moments that we experience; some bad some good. But not leaving it just at that, if we closely study each incident then there hides a secret. By breaking those codes we learn that some supernatural power is constantly hinting us how to live, how to shape our future and provides a solution for most of our problems.”
I have always analyzed the past experiences and derived at my own philosophy of life. But there are times when in spite of all the ideology, in spit of all those principles we commit mistakes, we stop thinking clearly on our behaviors. That’s when some incidents happen and it’s left to us to learn from them. Some power is clearly pointing out a truth, and answer to our problems in form of another event.
I don’t know if I should call it irony or game set by my God. I had a very weird experience couple of days back. I am sure; God has played a very funny and ironic game with me. He gave me something I had once desired but at a time when I cared the least about it. My focus had changed and my priorities different and he gifts me with something once needed but presently unacceptable. I am broken by that not so good experience and unable to answer anyone had to suppress my thoughts.
How easy it would be to hug a best friend and transfer all your unsaid thoughts and worries without having spoken a word? But it simply doesn’t work that way; the thoughts still bother.
But I am not the kind of person who allows such thoughts to bother me for ever. I need a solution for it and until I find it I don’t rest in peace. So knowingly or unknowingly I analyze the situation. And what I found was a lesson; a secret that when decoded from that incident made my belief in a super power even more strong. I was provided with a lesson not to commit the same mistake which if not identified, I would have. From that incident I learnt what not to do.
This is not the first time I am noticing such coded incidents, many such incidents have occurred in front of my eyes, with me or others to show some basic truths like – One has to pay for his deeds. One needs to repay for his sins and many more such truths. And the way it is brought to you is ironic and that tells that God loves to mock at you sometimes. By the end of all this, you admire him more because in spite of the bad experiences he has given you, in spite of being ironic, he has saved you from a disaster elsewhere, in turn he has reminded you how to live, how to love unconditionally and how to live happily without expectations.
Life is full of experiences and I have had enough good or bad incidents through out my life. And in every one of them lies a code; a mystery to be solved; to be understood; to be decoded in order to live a better life. Decode your secrets today. :-)