Saturday, December 12, 2015

Mangalore To Bangalore!

Continued from Here  

On the fourth day, 12th November, we drove to Udupi at around 11:00. The final rites of Preethi’s grandmother was performed and after lunch we left back home. Dropped parents and sister at home, packed our bags and left at around 4 PM. Mangalore and Bantwal regions had announced a strike related to a murder in Bantwal. A hindu killed by a muslim gang and the muslim friend who tried to stop the attack was also injured. Such issues always successfully turn into communal riots in Mangalore. I realised that nothing has changed here since my college days. Every time I am in Mangalore, the present reminds me of a scary past. Several communal riots, scared Hindus living in Muslim dominated areas and scared muslims living in that of Hindu area; colleges, schools, offices all closed for several days; cops firing tear gas at the mob; petty personal issues dragged into public attention and blown up as a communal clash. Indeed, nothing has changed here. I feared delay in my journey but on the contrary, the curfew made it easier and quicker. There was nobody on the road. I cruised off at highest possible speed and reached Sakleshpura at around 6:30 PM. 

As we reached Sakleshpura, we noticed some burnt tyres hinting further unrest. But somehow as sun goes down everyone seem to settle back into a normal mode. This unrest was not due to the same issue though, it was related to another killing in Madikeri over the Tipu issue that you perhaps have been following with me through these posts. Like my trip, Tipu story too needs a conclusion from my end, doesn't it? 

I wondered what Tipu might be thinking now, from his grave, if at all he is. Is he happy that people are still scared of his name and fighting over it? Or should he be sad that people have defamed him? No matter what he thinks, none of that matters anyway, does it? No body knows for sure who he was or how he was. We all think that our current technology is the strongest to store the history but only time can tell if it really is. So with that lost time are lost, several facts. Then why bother about him? Why does the Government want to pick a controversial name and create unrest. If they had named a day after Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (Another Muslim), nobody would have said a word. We all know who he was and we all acknowledge his contributions. But no, the controversial names are more fun for our Government  a political agenda behind everything is interesting to stir some action. So why blame Tipu? Let him rest in peace. 

Anyways, unfortunately for wrong reasons, I was glad about the whole thing that brought me back to Bangalore quicker than anticipated. I reached home by 10:00 PM with only one stop for dinner at a A2B outlet. 

So I am back in Bangalore. No Hindu-Muslim clashes, no riots, no interfering, and all that is, is only the thought of present and perhaps a possible future. I love Mangalore but I do not agree with everything that happens there. Someday, when I return there for good, I hope things would have changed and the then present shall remind me of those scary past as a history to learn from. After all that is what History is for - To learn from. Thus let the truth about Tipu remain just a debate, let us not drag it to our present beyond what it is - A debate.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Kasargod District

Continued from Here  

Next day, on the 12th, we decided to travel south and explore the district of Kasargod. I had researched on a list of all the tourist attractions from the net. There were several places to see and it was obvious that I could not cover the entire district in a day. I had originally decided to drive all the way till the end of the district i.e the border of Kannur district and then drive back. But that seemed like a long drive without seeing anything. So I changed plans and after our breakfast at Kumble, we took a deviation to Ananthapura Lake temple. A beautiful temple in the middle of a lake. The idol too is very special as it is made out of direct herbs and barks glued together. Another speciality of this place is that there is a crocodile in this lake that is offered rice as food every morning. It was very peaceful here.

Just about 4kms from here is the Bela church, built in 1890. 

On the way, we stopped at a Bhagavathi temple at Perne which was closed. 

And Malikarjuna temple.

Next, we took an inside route to Madhur per Google maps and interestingly this route passed through other attractions I had in list.

Maipady palace. This was an interesting palace of Kumbala rajas. The Government has recognised these palaces and installed sign boards everywhere. But on our arrival, we realised that these were private properties  Some still have people in them, some have left to the cities leaving the house to the caretakers. But we were allowed to go in and see the house.

Madhur temple is a beautiful complex with its murals and the famous Ganesh rock idol that is constantly growing in size. I was surprised though to see a board here that allowed only Hindu's to enter. I do not recollect having seen such a board anywhere else. I think its wrong and does not go well with our philosophy. Yes, in the past the rulers have demolished several of our temples but today, things are different. I have never seen such a board in the temples in South Canara or any part of the country.. Thus this signage in a Kerala temple disappointed me.

Next, we directly drove to the end of Kasargod district, to a small quiet island  called Valiyaparamba. Tourism board boasted of boating and backwaters but we found nothing there except haunted but serene beaches. The drive was excellent. This is a tiny strip of land that is separated from the mainland by a backwater. 

We had lunch at the only vegetarian restaurant at Cheruvathur. Tried some local sweet snacks made of Banana and coconut. 

Next stop - Nileshwaram. Nileshwaram has a connection with my hometown. It is believed that the main deity of the temple near my house was actually an idol that was traveling to Nilleshwaram and was installed at Marigudi. We visited this temple but it was unfortunately closed. 

Another famous temple called Nilakanteshwara was also closed at this odd time. 

There are a few more palaces here. These more looked like a traditional house than a palace. However, we were not allowed to enter the house. This made me wonder why Kerala Government was promoting these private properties as tourist attractions. They had sign boards everywhere for this palace. 

On my way back, I tried to locate the Hosdurg fort. There was a sign board that led me up a small hill but there was no sign of the fort or further boards up there. So we returned back disappointed with Kerala tourism.

We then Drove to Kanhangad. There are two famous ashrams here. The first  is called  Nityanandashram. Now, do not confuse the name with that of a much recent swami famous for his scandal. Here, the samadhi of the Swami has a very beautiful architecture and there are around 45 caves below it built by him. The Ashram was almost empty. The care taker, who happened to be from South Canara, told us about the mystic powers of the swami and guided us to the museum. 

Anandashrama of Swami Ramdas had a peaceful atmosphere. Devotees were performing Bhajans, Serving snacks and the whole place looked lively. 

We ended our trip at Ajnoor which is around 5 kms from Kanhangad. We mostly followed the directions from locals. Here is a beautiful Madiyankulom temple dedicated to Badrakali and Bhairavan. It seemed like a peaceful place to end our trip and head back home.

It was a very interesting trip for the entire family. I was too optimistic to cover the entire district in one day but I must revisit Kasargod to cover the rest.  Almost till Bekal, you can manage with Tulu or Kannada language. Beyond it people only spoke Malayalam. As my parents speak the language it was not hard to find our way to these remote places. But most places are on Google maps so, I haven’t spent too much time detailing out directions.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

At Surathkal

Continued from Here  

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

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

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

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

Continued Here 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Walk Down The Memory Lane!

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

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

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

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

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

Continued Here 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Le Côte Coloré - 2

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

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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Surathkal During Dasera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Killa & Cloud Atlas

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

Killa - 

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

Cloud Atlas - 

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

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

Friday, October 02, 2015

Ganapati Bappa Maurya!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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