Saturday, December 31, 2005

Ah Travel!!!!!!

Hello everyone! I am back! Back with so many stories that I am sure it will be a long time before I need to think of topics to write about on my blog!

A brief here: I went to Badami, Aihole and Pattadkal first (places of the Chalukya dynasty). Then it was Bijapur with the Gol Gumbaz and the famous Whispering Gallery. Next stop was Hyderabad with the pearls, bangles, the Golkonda Fort and so many others. I had a great time, had many new adventures.

We travelled in a tanga (a horse driven carriage), made friends with the driver, went on a conducted tour in an auto, elbowed by way through the very congested lad bazaar , learnt a lot of history (and forgot most of it!), climbed hundreds of steps everywhere, shouted at someone for being really irritating, ate lots of good food, nearly cried at the poverty I saw in the northern parts, met a guy from Karnataka who was born in Hyderabad, struggled to understand his Kannada but managed to get him to sell pearls for a real bargain...and travelled non stop for sixteen and a half hours from Hyderabad to Madikeri!! Boy! I am tired!

Had a good time though. Sad that it is over. A few days ago, I as looking forward to travelling and now its over. What is all the more depressing is that I know I will not be travelling anywhere in the near future. In a few months, uni will be over for good and once I start working, it will be difficult to go any where. This might just have been the last holiday with my family!

I plan to write about each place over a period of time, starting this coming Monday. I go back to uni tomorrow. See you.

Hope you have a great 2006. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas!

It has been a good year. For starters, I started blogging and it is one of my favourite activities right now. I am at my last year of uni. I worked in a couple of media organisations and have a couple of job offerings in hand. I have found a number of good friends, both on and off the net. I travelled, read good books, had a good life. I could not possibly write a run down of the year, there would be too much to put in. (Actually, I am just plain lazy!)
I am leaving on my trip tomorrow afternoon. Since I dont think I will be blogging before the new year, here is wishing you a good year ahead. To all my Christian friends who read this blog especially, San Nakji (and family!), Adam and Don Juan de Bubba, Merry Christmas! To Karthik, Arun Kottolli, Bishwanath Ghosh, Dinesh Soni, Samanth Subramaniam, Iceyez and everyone else, Happy New Year! Thank you for the reading the stuff I write, however it is. Hope you continue to the same in the new year too!
Happy Holidays!
Take care everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Born in Africa

Born in Africa was the title of the album of Dr Alban in 1996. I used to listen to it a lot. For as long as I can remember, I was interested in Africa. As a little girl, I would listen to the wolves that howled in the mountain behind my house and dream of distant lands. I would hear the sound of drums somewhere and gently tap my feet, mostly in my head.

Though I never had a thing for science, anthropology has always interested me. It was further kindled by Jean M Auel's book 'The Clan of the Cave Bear' (Amazing book!). Then, a few years ago, there was this programme on Nat Geo about Dr Spencer Wells' new theory on evolution called 'Out of Africa' theory. According to him, the entire humankind spread out from one set of people from the heart of Africa. He even traced the path they took around the world and discovered some handful of people who carried DNA traces from those people who set out I think over 200 thousand years ago. The story I remember was all over the papers and I spent many days thinking of it. The Nat Geo Society now has a Genographic Project through which you can contribute your DNA for study and even trace your ancestry to the first human beings. Its a five year project I believe.

I must say, reading Roots has made me interested in Africa once again. Wouldnt it be amazing to trace your ancestry to the start of mankind?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


It has been so long since I travelled any where far. I laaauve travelling, whether it is to my estate or somewhere far. I used to love the journey from uni to Madikeri and back but I have done that so many times that I cant bear the sight of the horrible roads. Just six months...patience has to be my virtue here (it never is).

Anyways, I am going on a tour to a Hyderabad this weekend. We (me, my parents and a family friend) will be leaving on the 25th from Mangalore (that road again!) ;-( We will be taking in badami, Aihole and Pattadkal first. These are all historical places. Next stop is Bijapur, the kingdom of the Bahamani rulers. Then we will be going to Hyderabad, the land of the Nizams, Charminar and lac bangles! I will be back at uni on the 01st (what worse way to start a new year!).

I believe that the journey is always more important than the destination. We will be on the road quite a lot. Its a pity we wont have time to stop and talk to people on the way. We are on a very tight schedule. Also, ma is very finicky about the road side tea stalls. I have grown to love eating there and would all along the way, if not for ma. Wonder what it is with mothers and food. There are always after you to eat well, eat at clean places, hygiene, nutrition, blah...blah...!

I love shocking ma. recently, a friend and I had pani puri from one of those mobile stalls. These are guys who operate with a stool, a matka, two buckets of water, a few steel bowls and amazing speed. The plates were not exactly clean but it was one of the best pani puris I had. Ma was disgusted of course! He he!

I dont know why but I have come to realise that street food always tasted better than in a posh restaurant. Maybe it is to do with the fact that our mothers have always forbidden us from eating there, teachers have drilled us on how dirty it is. How lovely the taste of rebellion! Maybe that is what makes the food taste better!

Two years ago, my class from degree college went on a trip to Kochi, Kerala. On the way back, there was a total bundh in Kodagu and we had to spend a whole day in a village called Maakutta. It was just a tiny place with a police check post, a rundown toilet, a school and a tiny hotel. Most of us slept, some tried to catch fish and others cursed mobile networks for not giving coverage there. The owner at the hotel was thrilled at the business he was getting. He got this elaborate meal cooked with large fish something (my friends told me it was delicious). I and another classmate of mine were the only two vegetarians and we had to eat some sort of rice dumpling. Nevertheless, it was one of the best meals I have ever had.

Three cheers for street food! Cant wait to eat some again! Conversation with fellow customers also adds a special flavour, I must say.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Old World Charm

I suppose I have an opinion on everything and here is one on feminism. I am not much of a feminist. I believe women can never be equal to men, they are much better, in fact! ;-) Seriously, I am all for some real old world charm.

I am sure I speak for the majority of the female species when I say that gentlemanly behaviour is always appreciated. Opening doors, pulling out a chair, a genuine compliment given with respect is always great and is always appreciated.
Men should stay men. Wonder who came up with the idea of metrosexuals and the like!

In Conversation with a Fellow Blogger

I was in Bengalooru a couple of days back and had a blog meet. Actually it was just me and this other blogger whose name I have been forbidden to mention. Must say, it went quite well.

I remember when the internet first came into the scene. Chatting was a major means of passing time. Eventually, the charm wore off when people began to impersonate Brad Pitt and Shah Rukh Khan, claim model know how it was. Blogging could be like that too. The Hindu newspaper had this story about a blog meet in Chennai and wrote about how one blogger preferred not to attend as she was comfortable with her assumed identity. This is one of the bad things (or is it good? Subjective I suppose) about the web. You can never be sure of people you meet here.

I am glad to say that this was exactly what happened. This blogger turned out to be so much better than what I had imagined. The best thing was that this person is totally devoid of the airs I have learnt to associate with others of the same species (Sorry, I can't tell you what that is!). Over the years, I have seen people I know, good, caring, gentle human beings sell out to become machines sans normal emotion. The need to be "in" is so strong that people I know have lost their individuality to assume a behaviour that they think is cool or rather "modern". I can only feel sorry for such people. They would not see my point of view, but I can only feel disdain and a little disgust for such sorry types.

I am deviating from the main story here. What I meant to write was that this blogger is still a human being. I am glad I was wrong and I am glad the parts of a type are different from the whole (I am not making much sense here, am I?)

We had a good time. We joked about how we had better take interviews of each other as we would one day be famous. We talked about travel, friends, family, work. Surprisingly, we did not talk of our blogs, even though we 'met' first through these.

Every day is a lesson in life. That day, I learnt that not all people turn out to be like what I had imagined them to be, in fact, they are often much better. That people can still be human beings, that a local persona in a globalised world still has its charm. I realised that day that down the line, a blogger had emerged out of the impersonal world of the internet to become a good friend.
Hope you stay that way, palio! :-)

Sob Factor!

Just two posts on the way the book Roots is progressing and I have already decided to stop. Kunta has been taken away as a slave and he knows he will never see his beloved Africa again. I am now reading how the toubob are torturing him and the others with him. It is too heartbreaking. I will not write my progress further because I know I shall be biased and go on a spree of America-bashing and I dont want to do that!
The Roots stop here.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Quick One

This is going to be a small post. I thought I would look at some other blogs today. Bishwanath Ghosh is on a break, just when I had started loving his writing! Hope he gets back soon. Now I know how my dear readers must feel when I go on a break!! ;-)

The Roots so far: My heart is breaking. The toulobob have captured Kunta and are now selling him as a slave. Just when he was having happy fantasies about women, sex and planning a trip to Mali with his brother Lamin! I knew it was bound to happen but he was so happy...!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Roots by Alex Haley

One of my lecturers at uni gave me Alex Haley's epic book 'Roots' for vacation reading. I had always heard a lot about this book but somehow, never got around to reading it.

I am into the 120th page and its amazing! I am sure a lot of you have read it but here is what I am going to do. Every time I blog, I am going to write a summary of what I have read so far because it is a great book. A lot of people would not have the patience or the time to read 730 pages of very small print. This is for them.

Roots is a story that spans seven generations. It begins with a birth in 1750, in an African village and ends at a funeral of the author's father. It is basically a story of the Americanisation of an African family.

The story so far: Kunta is the boy born to Omoro and Binta Kinte, a descendent of a very famous holy man. The burden of upholding the family name at all costs rests heavily on him (I can so relate to what he must have gone through!). Kunta grows up in the village of Juffure in The Gambia where he spends time tending his family goats, teaching his brother, chatting with the old Nyo Boto and playing with his kafo-mates. I just finished reading how he goes through very rigorous manhood-training where he and others of his age learn the art of war, hunting and survival in the forests. Kunta is now of fifteen rains (that is how age was counted) and is now officially a man and in the fourth kafo (that is how the stages of life were referred to as). He is now back in his village and is getting a new hut for himself. Await as I read further.....

What I love about this book is that you can actually feel the essence of Africa. The author puts in a lot of African words like kafo, toubob (the white men), drumtalk, etc and does not really explain their meaning. It is left to you to deduce their meaning from the repeated usage and the context.

On My Birthday!

A mobile pic again.
This is a Thanjavur painting of Lord Krishna, my most favourite God. I am not too religious, though I am spiritual (to me, both are different). I believe in God, not really in religion but when I pray, it is to Lord Krishna.

Anyway, ma made this painting for me for my birthday present. Every year, she makes something to surprise me, but none of her presents are really much of a surprise. This year I could never have guessed in a million years that she would give me this. She told me later that she and my maid had to make elaborate arrangements to hid it away whenever I came home!

This is a Thanjavur painting, the yellow gold jewellery you see in the picture is real gold and some of the stones encrusted are real precious gems. The art is an expensive one. It is a genre of painting that originated in the temple town of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. There is a variation of this that originated in Mysore but I think those are not as good.

I loved it. The painting actually glitters in the dark and it is the best present I have ever been given. Ma wanted it to be hung in my present home but no way! I am going to take it as soon as I get a house of my own!

Hmm...should learn more about Thanjavur paintings. I was there in the town last year. There is also another art form there. Colourful strips of paper are pasted on glass plates in geometric designs and can be hung on the wall. We have one at home, looks good under the light.


The capital of Karnataka is going to be renamed 'Bengalooru' or 'Bengaluru' (the spelling is yet to be decided) from its Anglisized version Bangalore on the day of the culmination of 50 years of statehood. If you ask me, it is just political rhetoric. When we talk in Kannada, we have always called it Bengalooru, it is also written so. The point here? I am glad it is formal though.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An Interesting Day

I had a very interesting day the day before. Predictably, I had a million things that I had to do but somehow, ma sweet-talked me into helping her with the garden. The last time I was home, she made me redesign our garden, which was earlier more of just a few rows of withered plants. It looks good now. There is a big mould in the middle with roses and little rows leading away from it like the rays of the sun. On one side is a little lotus pond, two huge trees stand guard at the entrance around which we placed flowering plants.

The other day, ma, my maid Shailaja and I did some landscaping. There are now terracota horses, a small house, shells... The best part was the new sitting arrangement. There is a history to this.

One of my ancestors was a very good administrator, the Parpathigar, at the Omkareshwara temple that I have written about. The king was once very pleased with his work and asked what he wanted as a reward. The man was so stupid and so content with his life that all he asked for was a cot to sleep on and a grinding stone to help in the kitchen! Can you believe the absurdity? I mean, there was so much he could have asked for!

Anyways, the grinding stone was chipped off after many years and ended up in the corner of my frontyard. It was overturned and I spent many an evening there reading and getting bitten by mosquitoes. The day before yesterday, ma and Shailaja decided they wanted it in the garden. They and a few others huffed and puffed and it is finally in the garden now. I was clever enough to stand at a distance and give directions! ;-)

The moral of the story is that there isnt one. I hate gardening. i mean, i love looking at beautiful flowers, smelling the roses but there is no way I want to get my hands dirty. The other day, I got caught up in the mood and was literally in the dirt and it felt good. That is not to say that I am going to turn in into a habit ma!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Kudroli is Lit!

Hmm...This is a mobile pic too and I am afraid, not too clear.

This is Kudroli Gokarnatheshwara Temple (a Shiva Temple) in Mangalore, an amazing piece of architecture. I have always felt a disdain for temples that are built recently as they are more often than not, displays of the wealth of the temple trust than a place of worship. This temple is the same too, very beautiful to look at but didnt really feel like praying there.

This pic was taken during the Dasara festival. During those ten days, the entire huge compound is lit up. The lights are amazing. There are programmes going on, bhajans being sung and devotees throng in the hundreds. The temple is like a one-stop shop for all the major Gods of the Hindu pantheon with little temples inside for each of them. The entire temple is built of marble, even the ground is laid with the cool stone. There is a kalyana mantapa or marriage hall inside that looks like the interior of a palace. My friend and I were so amazed that we wanted to get married right then and there, we were not really thinking of who the groom would be and such minor details! Thankfully, the feeling passed in a day!

Nine idols of Goddesses are displaced inside this hall and are taken out on procession on the last day. The temple doesnt look too beautiful without the lights. Good place. We especially loved the bhajans (prayers that are sung in chorus by a lot of people) and the lights. Never seen such a beautifully lit complex, apart from the Mysore Palace, of course!


Am back people! Exams are finally over with and I have finished my third semester! Just one more to go!
This is my dog Ginger. The pics were taken on my mobile and arent too good. Was just too lazy to scan the others that I have.
Now, doesnt he look so arrogant? Believe me, he is! He is spoiled to the hilt by my parents and acts the way. I could go on about his antics but that would lead to a my-dog-is-better-than-your-dog discussion, am fed up of those.
What can I say, I love this dog which barks only if there isnt anything better to do, like sleeping, which he does for 22 hours a day! Though he doesnt look the age, he is almost nine years old and gets sick a lot these days. :-(

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Wedding Invitation! I am on the subject of old again, here is something that is pretty old. What you see above are invitations to the wedding of my grandparents! Both are in Kannada. My granny told me this morning that the second one was printed first. But it did not mention her father's name properly and the groom's family called off the wedding! Thankfully, amends were made and the first one was printed!

The wedding was held on 19th May 1946, one year before Independence. Next year, it will be 60 years since gran first came to Madikeri! That is just wow!!!

Those were the times, she tells me! Madikeri was a dozen times colder than it is today, her mother-in-law was a very traditional lady, though not a tyrant. She had to cook for at least three dozen people every day along with the rest of the womenfolk. Festivals were great fun, cooking during days when they had to fast was a torture, people were always in and out of the house. She would go to the temple for musical nights, the books she would buy on the sly, God the stories I grew up listening to!

My gran is an amazing storyteller. As a kid, I would make her tell me up to 4-5 stories every day, from the mythologies, stories of kings and princesses and witches. The best were her stories of her childhood. She has the ability to bring the entire scene before the eyes with her imitations. My cousins and some of my friends will vouch for her skills.

It is sad that the kids of today are too busy trying to outdo their neighbour to sit and listen to a good story. I have nothing against Pokeman or Harry Potter, but I really think kids need to learn their history and stories of their country too.

My mother could never tell stories well, I am no better. So my grand plan for my sem holidays is to record at least some of my granny's stories and preserve what is in itself a lost art.

Monday, November 28, 2005

OLD!!!!The Key Word Here!

Waiting for my this is going to be a short one. At 10.32 AM, the time some nurse said I was born, I completed 22 years on the face of this Earth and am stepping on to the 23rd. The day started with midnight calls and some more starting at 5 AM. To be frank, it doesnt feel abit like my birthday. It is just another day, I suppose. I remember how I would count the days to my birthday when I was little. The excitment is no longer there. And growing old is not that big a deal, everyone around me is growing old too.

I am going to start this year with good cheer. So here is to happiness, joy, love and peace and here is to me!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Exquisite Hoysala!

Its been a while since I put up a picture.
The above is of the Somanathapura Temple near Mysore. It is an exquisite example of Hoysala architecture. The pic, however, doesnt do the least bit of justice to the place.

Hoysala dynasty ruled in Karnataka from about 1006 AD to the mid 14th century and were most known for their architecture and patronage of the arts. The most famous queen Shantala was an accomplished dancer who modelled for the sculptures in their temples. Such was her famed beauty. The establishing of the dynasty has a history too. I have forgotten most of my history but I do remember that there was this brave man who was instructed to kill a tiger that was troubling people. The war cry given was 'hoy-sala', meaning kill the tiger. That is how the dynasty got its name and its emblem of a man killing a tiger.

Coming to Shantala again, there is a book by that name by G V Aiyar, one of the few Kannada books I have read. I fell in love with the book. I love antique silver jewellery and got myself a thick silver anklet for one leg that looks like it came straight out of the book! They would call it 'toda' and wear it after taking a vow to die for their chosen person, the soldier in defense of the king, brother for the protection of his sister, etc. I dont have such intentions but it is my favourite piece of jewellery and I rarely remove it.

The temple now. I think I have written about Belur and Halebid, my most favourite places on Earth. I shall write about them in detail when I have the pics to go with them. The temple in the pic above was built in the same style in 1268 AD by the army commander of the dynasty, Somanath. It is star shaped and covered with sculptures all over the place. The temple has layers of elephants to support the temple, floral designs, stories from the epics, etc.

Compared to the busier Belur and Halebid, this place is more laid back and much quieter. The lush green lawns are a sight for sore eyes, a welcome relief from the harsh tropical sun. A lazy dog, actually there are many, looks at you from a corner and is good enough to wag its tail when called. Like every tourist spot, there are souvenir shops that are overly high priced. But the temple is beautiful, much more than that in fact. Go. Get immersed in history and come back inspired.

By the way, the slogan for Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSDTC) is "Theatre of Inspiration".

Saturday, November 26, 2005

This Guy is Good!!!

Like I was saying in the last post, I have been reading Indian authors lately. Yesterday, I picked up two books by Chetan Bhagat, thought I would gift myself something for a week of hard(ly) studying! :-)

Chetan Bhagat is a IIM, IIT alumni who is currently working in Hong Kong. About the books:
His first book 'Five Point Someone- What not to do at IIT' was released about a year ago and became an instant best seller, it still is. The book is about that Mecca for engineers in India, the Indian Institute of Technology. Every year thousands of aspirants of a guaranteed future try to get but only a handful do. The book tells the story of Ryan, Alok and Hari, three former brilliant students who have managed to get into IIT but have failed to keep up their scores. A lot of fun and their GPAs stay at five point something, making them the 'losers'. That doesnt really bother our heroes. They booze, they do dope, hari falls for Neha, the prof's daughter and by the time they pass out, they manage to almost get expelled, attempt suicide, eat paranthas at two rupees...classic college stuff. There is however nothing about funny incidents in classes, except a few, or anything much about other classmates. The story is almost only about the three guys and Neha .

The story is an ordinary one about college, even though it happens to be about the best one in the country. The writing is extremely simple and very funny in some places, especially some one-liners. There was this one place where two of them pile up some un-identifiable stuff on their plates in the hostel only because they want to have some colour on their plates! That is so like what I do in hostel too where most of the time I do not know what vegetable I am eating!

The boys try to play sports, lose weight, look at porn, listen to Pink Floyd, cheat, flirt, watch movies with mindless fights and sloppy Hindi ones, the stuff that boys do. I had heard my guy friends talk about such stuff and this book reaffirms my views about them (let me keep them to myself for now!).

Last night, I was tired and had decided to sleep early. But this book was too good and I sat up till two AM to finish it. I was also giggling throughout the book and my roommate had begun to think I had finally lost it! There arent many books out there that can make me lose sleep. But Bhagat is good enough to lose sleep over!!(his book I mean!)

His second book 'One Night @ the Call Centre' was released a couple of weeks ago and has become a best seller too. It is about six people who work at a call centre and what happens when they get a call from God. I am just 70 pages into the book. It is good too but I think I like the first one better. If at all you can lay hands on these books, grab them without a second thought. They are not serious works of literature but could be just what you need after a boring, monotonous day. They are cheap too, compared to other books in the market, just Rs 95.

If ever there was good value for money, these are right on the bull's eye! You can also check out for more on the author and his books. Take a word of advice, read them and be entertained!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Five Point Someone

I admit it. I am a little biased when it comes to Indian authors. Having grown up on Victorian literature and Russian masters, with Mills and Boons, Sidney Sheldon, Wilbur Smith, Erich Segal and the rest of the motley crew thrown in for good measure, I never gave much thought to Indian writing in English, until recently. Ruskin Bond, though his books are largely meant for children, are very lucidly written. I dont somehow like the late R K Narayan's books. He is the greatest of the Indian writers. Maybe I should read him again.....

There are others too like Vikram Seth (his new book 'Two Lives' is out), Amitav Ghosh, Shashi Deshpande, Salman Rushdie (never liked his works much), V S Naipaul, Anita Nair and so many others. It was my English lecturer (and a close personal friend of the family) who got me reading on Amitav Ghosh. He thrust Ghosh's 'The Glass Palace' in my hands. I could not move past the first 20 pages but he urged me on and boy, was it good! It was unputdownable then on. That is he case with most of his books.

There are also hundreds of others who write one great book and disappear in the night without the world coming to know of their genius. I read this one book called 'Sunlight on a Broken Column' by Attia Hussain. It was about a Muslim girl who rebels against tradition. The story was ok but the way it was written was amazing. Some metaphors were such that I have never read their equivalent in even the best books. Then there was 'Cinnamon Gardens' by Shyam Selvasundaram about life in Sri Lanka. All good books, all unheard of... There are also the new age writers like Chetan Bhagat, about whom I am going to write in my next post.

There was a phase in life when I thought I could just not handle fiction anymore. I had always been way ahead of my years as far as the books I read was concerned. I had finished with Hardy Boys, Secret Seven, Famous Five, Nancy Drew by 12, Mills and Boons by 15, Sidney Sheldons by 16. I had started with Tolstoy, Dostovesky, Bronte sisters and other literature works by 10-11 years!! So by 19, i was sick of fiction and promised myself that I would only read serious works of non-fiction. i do, but I have also discovered Indian writers. So maybe a few more years....

My World This Week!

Ok, am back, after a while. Was busy. Here is whats been happening....

1. My tests got over today. Yes, I actually studied after a looooong time and got a slight headache in the process! The tests were ok. The finals start in a week and I have to study again... :-(

2. Our hostel cat littered about two days ago. There are three little kittens, all black and white. Am not really big on cats but the kittens look so helpless. I never cease to be amazed at the wonder of creation, about how we are blessed with the power to give a life to something!

3. Third semester is almost over, one more to go and I am done studying for the time being! Yeah!

4. Nothing ever happens when exams are going on. Actually, nothing ever interesting happens here anymore!

5. The biggie now! My birthday is in two days, on the 28th! No major plans to mourn my growing old but my parents are coming down and I have some shopping to do..... :-)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Brisk Walk

People who know me personally might snigger all they want, but I actually started studying today for my internal tests that start on Monday (I usually start just the previous day!). I was in the library and studied two Acts, Official Secrets Act and Press Council of India Act. They were quite interesting and I am just going to type a quick post and go read some more of Media Law.

I was walking back from the library when the silence stuck me as so uncharacteristic of uni. There is usually a bike going at top speed, someone laughing out, a shrill voice, wierd vehicle horns... There as nothing today. Looks like the exam fever has caught on. The walk was beautiful though.

From the library to my hostel, it is a walk of about five minutes, through a dim-lit road. Even though the road looks very eerie, it is quite safe to walk alone. It is not full moon day today but nevertheless, the moon with a yellowish tinge was beautiful against the hostel lights. There it was, looking like a protective angel over the building. The stars gave it company. I even saw an aeroplane blinking its red tail light against the dark sky.

On the whole, it was a lovely walk. I just wish I could have taken a longer and slower walk, just me and my thoughts...aint got the time though. Next year, I dont think I will miss studies much. But I know I will miss the uni campus with its familiar trees, knee length grass that always makes me want to lie between its cold strands, the sophisticated-looking double road in front of the library, the Pentagon office-shaped hostel I stay in and of course this cyber centre where I have typed out many a blog post from!

I claim to be a workaholic, with good reason. The only things I regret is the lack of time to enjoy such simple pleasures.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fourth Estate

Dont remember if I have written about this new blog that I and Mahesh were to create. It was put up quite some time back but we sent out press releases only yesterday. It is called Fourth Estate. It will have stuff about journalism, mainly academic (we want to help the rest of the journalism students, good na?) and other information, something of a media shop.

The link is

Friday, November 11, 2005

Development: the Indian conundrum

Remember that special issue of our lab journal that I kept talking about a couple of months back, the one that gave me many a sleepless night? Below is an editorial I wrote for that issue. A taste of my "real" journo writing!

Enough has been said and written about it. Revamp the political system, throw out the bureaucracy, chase out the MNCs, subsidize agriculture and India will shine, they say. We have tried, with promises and resolves, one day each year. Then, it is the same story again, feeding the bureaucrats, drawing obscene salaries from MNCs, killing farmers...until time comes a full circle once more.

The parameters of social and economic development have become cliched today. Following up on such resolves, even hypothetically, has become out of the question. India is too vast, too diverse and too independent for that. The next obvious question would be 'what then could make the nation developed in the real sense?'

India is already a power to reckon with in global terms. Surge in forex reserves, a possible UNSC permanent seat, albeit without veto, improving relations with the neighbours...aren't these developments real, however contrary to the traditional theories they may be? Again, who determines development? The term could never mean the total abolition of poverty, unemployment and the like. If that were the case, America with its teeming populace of destitutes and rate of crime could never be the 'superpower' it is known to be today.

Someone once said, 'In India, we do not think who we are, we simply know who we are.' People make the country and this could not be truer than in ours. We might do well to realize that for the majority of the citizens, foreign policies towards distant East Timor or West Bank or economic indicators are of little significance. What concerns people is security, physical, economical and otherwise. What they need is the dignity to live life.

Indians have become too diverse, too intellectually and economically scattered to call themselves united at any single point of time. But the entire country has been one large caring family during the Mumbai floods, in the aftermath of the tsunami and during the terror attacks that often follow days of an almost surreal peace. The fortitude, the display of unity and faith is what makes a nation strong and capable of making it through the tunnel.

The determinants of the level of development may not essentially agree but India stands united in the need of the hour, sans any barrier put up by vested interests. If this is not taken as development, maybe it is time we changed the parameters with which we measure progress.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Licking My Fingers (and West-bashing a little!)

Of late, this blog seems to be taking wierd turns, from philosophy to films to what not! Ah well!

Think I will write about the art of eating today. In my time, I have met quite a few people from the West. For most, India is just Taj mahal, Aishwarya Rai, snake charmers, elephants and maharajahs. For someone I know, born in India and brought up in the US, the chief concern was whether Bangalore had beauty salons! This as in 1998-99, after the IT boom, mind you! Oranges have worms, mineral water to wash the face, believe me, I have tolerated much. Granted India is not advanced (maybe I should put up an editorial I wrote about this issue) from the Western perspective, but come on.....!

I am in a good mood today, so let me not get US (the NRIs are the worse) bashing. Will save it up for black mood days for that extra punch!!

When I was in school, we had this exchange programme with a school in Milwaukee. Two students would come every year and work, teach and spend a few months in Madikeri. They laaaved India (typical again. Sorry, cant help slipping in a little sarcasm!) but found the idea of eating with hands disgusting. That is what I want to write about.

We Indians believe that food is just not something that is eaten to fill your stomach. It is a treat to the senses, the taste to the palate, the smell to the nose, the colours to the eyes and the feel of food to the skin. Most foods are based on these. They are not meant to be eaten with a fork and spoon. The utter joy is in breaking off a piece of dosa with just two fingers, dipping it in slurpy curry and putting it in your mouth as it melts like butter. The idea is to feel the food. Eating is an art. We have this very unique way of eating food in portions, first one type of curry, then the next, then something sweet and so on. In fact, there is a method to be followed when you serve all the dishes in a function. I had written in detail about this too, will post it when I go home next (hope I remember!)

The best thing about eating with your hand is the smell that stays on long after you have washed your hand. There have been many days when I smelt my hand and felt the taste of that food on my tongue all over again. Eating is a ritual, slowly followed, each gesture a symbol of your approval or not of the food, of the hostess. Though quite disgusting by the standards of my Book of Table Manners (I tend to be very irritated with people who slurp and burp), a person buring after a meal is supposed to mean that he or she enjoyed the food. Slurping is supposed to enhance the taste of the food!

See, this is the one thing I love about India. There is so much to learn. Life is so complexly interwoven with the intricacies of fine living. The colours, the food, the sheer variety of life, can a person ever tire of life here. They say, if you tire of India, you tire of life and I echo that. I have complaints against the West, against the government, against so many things. But in India, you are free to live. As the slogan of the consumer brand LG goes- Life's Good!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Bit of Philosophy

"Death is more universal than life;
Everyone dies, but not everyone lives."

So true isnt it? Most people are so caught up trying to simply exist that they forget the art of living (and I dont mean the Ravi Shankar way!)

You know, I used to read a lot of philosophy once, so much that ma had started to get worried. I still do like philosophy. So maybe I will just tuck in little nuggests of my wisdom ;-) here than there between posts!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Its a Simple Life

I sometimes wonder, dont we so unnecessarily complicate things in life? I mean, there is so much of beauty in the world, yet we resort to petty behaviour. I guess I am just being naive, but it miffs me to see how difficult we make things for ourself.

I was home for a week during Deepavali and got a reminder of the simple life people live. My mother and I went for long walks and I became esctatic at the sight of mist that clung lovingly to the mountains behind my house, the cold cold breeze that is very bad for the skin, the lazy cows grazing and lying royally in the middle of the road, the smiles... Now by no parameter is Madikeri a village, in fact, Konaje where my uni is, is more of a desolate place. But it was whenI was home that I realized how distant I had become from the Earth. Going home was good for me to realize what I was missing, and also to sadly acknowledge that it was only going to get worse and there was nothing I could do about it.

Anyway, we are re-modelling our garden. It looks good now with lawns and a lotus pond and plants planted in the shape of sun's rays. We have this part-time worker called Hoovanna (I have never seen a person work that well before) who loves talking. The other day, he was asking ma how people in Bangalore could be so foolish as to venture out in the rains. The issue here is that he just could not comprehend that water actually came into houses. He has no idea what a lakh or a hundred thousand people is or what a big city looks like. It is sort of.... I cant think of right word here. Human civilisation is so advanced, yet we have people who are so simple that it almost breaks my heart.

Then there is Shailaja, my maid. She is by no means simple, she has lived in Mumbai, understands a number of languages and can speak a number of them too. Her husband is a drunkard. She looks after her three girls and husband. Inspite of everything, I never fail to be amazed at her fortitude, her cheerfulness, her survival instinct. She is so chirpy that my otherwise dead silent house comes alive when she comes in for work. I was talking to her youngest kid the other day, a very precocious child. She was very excited because her parents had gone to the market and had promised to get her ice- candy. How innocent. She has never had icecream before, we, the so called rich people, take such "luxuries" for granted.

When we were working on designing the garden, these people started telling me ghost stories. Now, I dont believe in ghosts one bit. Some opine that if you believe in God, you have to believe in ghosts too. But I dont. The stories they told me were very amusing, though they believed in them absolutely. Maybe I will tell those stories some day. Today I can only reflect on their innocence.

I imagine how life would be like if they would ever have to migrate to a city. Coming from their tiny village to Madikeri is in itself a big deal for them. Life is so unfair, they are millions of deprived people, animals and people are killed for no fault of theirs. I guess the only way is not to think of them, take the easy way and look in the other direction. It would not be a simple life to feel guilty for the pleasures you enjoy, for the things that you take for granted. I think I am sounding like a communist, communism in its original form, not the politically distorted version that you see today. It is a very sensitive issue in India but I am not one. But like Che, I am seeing things that I am writing about. These are not theories I read.
Siddhartha had a way out, so did Che. I am but a prisoner to my way of life, trapped by the trappings of having to lead a live, albeit the way I want to.

Gosh, this post is so serious!!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Walking the Path of History

Let me warn you in advance that this is going to be a very sentimental piece. Okay, resume reading now! :-)

I went to my old school Kodagu Vidyalaya today. Met some teachers from the special school there (will write about that separately) and had a great time. Went to the main school and met all my old teachers.

Kodagu Vidyalaya is where I literally grew up, having studied there for nine years. It is the place where I became 'Deepa' from just another girl in the crowd. It is where I became an individual, learnt how people could be good or bad, learnt to live, to survive... The best thing was that my school never gave too much of importance to studies. It was up to us to study or not to study. Development of personality was more emphasised upon. Also the ambience was superb. The school is situated on top of a hill with a small forest around. It looks more like a resort than a school.

I walked around the school today. Every stone, every secret path that only we students knew about, every brick, every turn of the road has a memory strung through it like a little delicate flower in a chain of a long, well lived past. The basket ball court where we shed tears when we thought our team would lose, the graveyard on which we would lie on hot afternoons, just to prove we were brave. The place where we would have lunch... So many incidents! When I was walking back, it was almost as if the years had slipped by. I could actually see myself sitting there with my friends, enjoying life, growing up, having petty fights and making up, all of us with big dreams in our hearts while putting up a devil-may-care attitude up front!

The year I left my school, my Principal Mr Shreedhara Murthy (a very very interesting man) had asked me to write an article about my years in the school. I did write but like then, even now I find it impossible to condense nine years into a few hundred words. Memories are too precious for that. My school is a part of my history, my past that has shaped my today. So much of what I am today is because of the kind of upbringing I had both at home and in school.

Someone recently described me as a maverick (I took that as a compliment!). My school did that to me. It taught me some of the most important lessons I know today, and that does not include academics. Something I wrote in that article seems appropriate here: '...When I reach the last station in my journey of life, I will only look back, reminiscence and say to KV, Thank You.'

PS- This morning I had written this post very well. The nostalgia was fresh in my mind and the words just flew. But just before I could publish the post, something went wrong and the entire matter vanished. Technology sucks! This piece is not as good as I wanted it to be.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sirigannadam Gelge!

Today is a special day. It was exactly 50 years ago in 1956 that the state of Karnataka was formed as per the Reorganisation of States Act 1956. Every year, November 01 is celebrated as Kannada Rajyotsava. We usually get a holiday and in school we had to go and take part in marches and stuff. It is not really as big a deal as Independence Day and has been reduced to empty protocol but its a nice feeling to celebrate Kannada. The post title above hails Kannada too.

Today is also the second day of Deepavali, the festival of lights. The festival is one of the most important in Hindu tradition. It is largely a festival to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. There are actually a lot of stories, a lot of versions as to why it is celebrated. Like everything Indian, it is too complex to explain, too beautiful to describe.

Basically, Deepavali is a three-day festival. On all days, at dusk, we lit little mud lamps and decorate the house. Sadly, gross plastic lamps and candles are replacing these but they are the most beautiful for their delicate nature. We burst a lot of crackers (I dont. Its been years since I did that. Too noisy, other personal reasons.) as a celebration of life.

We are supposed to wake up at the crack of dawn and take an oil bath. The day is spent in feasting, an integral part of Indian festivals, prayers, card games (This is a tradition only in the northern parts of India, we dont follow it.) and crackers. There is no particular God that we ought to worship though cows, so sacred in India, are worshipped on the day of go-pooje. Deepavali is more of celebrating life than anything spiritual.

The Deepas or lamps are the most important part. I get my name from them. These lamps are not just to bring light in a dark place. On a higher level, these are lamps of knowledge that are lit through education and life (to a large extent) to dispel the darkness of ignorance! Earlier, no house could be without a lamp around a tulsi plant after dusk. Such beautiful traditions have been eaten away by the trappings of modernity.

So, here is wishing you all a very Happy Deepavali. May the lamps of prosperity, love, happiness and health always burn in your lives.

Deepavaliya Shubhashayagalu!


San Nakji had a baby and he is simply adorable! This gave me the idea to put up my pics too.
The photos look much better than when they are scanned. Somehow the above dont look very clear.

I was a very chubby kid. (Thankfully not anymore!) The first photo was taken in my present room at home.
The second one was taken in our estate. The white flowers are coffee flowers. After blooming and giving out a divine smell, the coffee beans are formed.
This second picture makes ma laugh hysterically every time she sees it. What happened was she had taken me to this person to get my hair cut. The concept of beauty parlours were not much in vogue then. That person showed her a poster with different hairstyles and said that he would do a 'step cut'. It turned out that he had no clue what he was up to and I came out near bald!!
Dumb story but my parents and all my cousins somehow love it. At every family gathering, my baby pics come out, the same old stories are told (there are many, I was sort of the family entertainer! There is even a tape!) and everyone laughs like its the first time they are hearing it! Highly embarrassing!

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Very Short Post!

Found this really great web site. If you are a journalist or interested in media or law, check out
For law in India, and are good.
For a one stop site for the day's news headlines from leading Indian dailies, go to

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Some Travel Advice

Cant say I have travelled everywhere. But I have been around a bit in India and have read enough travel mags and books to be called something of an authority. Here is some advice:

Never, ever believe travel guide books or be fascinated with brochures from the information office. Never plan a trip based on the photos you see, they are never so good in real life. I had a hands-on experience last year. I had planned this whole trip around South India. We did cover a lot of places and had a marvelous time. But the places were of major disappointment. None of the temples and the paintings were as good as they had looked on the advertisements.

Also, talk to the local people. The purpose of travel is to meet people and interact. Talking to locals gets you the best deals as to food, shelter. They will also let you in on the places that are no where mentioned in guide books. I found out about Dhanushkodi when talking to this policeman in Rameshwaram. I am not fluent in Tamil but some sign language got us to one of the most amazing places I have ever been to.

Thirdly, don't travel with a fixed plan. Have a general idea where you want to go but keep some time apart to discover. That is where you will find all the adventures. The path along the road less travelled is where the mystery of discovery lies.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Motorcycle Diaries

I believe I wrote about this movie before. But it is so good, I just have to dedicate a whole post to it.

Motorcycle Diaries is a Spanish film made in 2004 by Walter Salles, starring Cael Garcia Bernal as Che (he is so cute!) and Rodrigo de la Serna as Alberto. It describes the journey Ernesto 'Che' Guevera undertook with his friend Alberto Granado in 1957. Che, as am sure everyone knows, was a Cuban revolutionary leader who has a cult following even today. This journey was the turning point in his life. He was a medical student who decided to take a year off and travel around Latin America, just for the fun of it. But this road trip turns serious when he sees the problems of people, their poverty and their destitution. This and a number of other events turn him into a revolutionary. The best thing is his ideology sprang from his real life experiences and not from the writing of anyone. For more on this amazing personality, you can check

Now about the movie. The entire film is an account of his travels from Argentina to Venezuela, first on a battered motorcycle and later on foot. The narrative is based on his diaries.
I am not an authority on cinema but I have seen plenty of films in my time! And I can confidently say that this is one of the best films I have ever seen. The cinematography is simply amazing. Every shot is like a picture postcard. The frames are lines of poetry in motion that flow like like the gentle river, now and then on stones and pebbles, now silent, now in a rush. See, I am writing poetry too! That is what the movie does to you.

The movie inspires you to just get up from you chair, sling a bag on your shoulders and just take off, even if it is just a day trip. I have always been a travel freak and this movie has just driven me to an extreme desire to travel- anywhere. I could go on about the movie but better still would be for you to watch it. And please do watch it and see if it does not change you at least a bit.

There are some great quotes in the film. Sample these:
"Let the world change you, and you can change the world." (This is the theme line.)
"...left behind civilisation to be closer to the Earth."
"When you cross a frontier, every moment seems split in two, melancholy at leaving something behind and excitement at what is ahead."
"We travel just to travel."
"How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?", asks Che at Machu Pichu in Peru.
" gotta fight for every breath and tell Death to go to hell."

Travel is..... I cant describe its wonder. Everyone must travel, whether to your backyard or to anywhere. It opens up your mind, gives you something to get by, makes an existence a life, inspires...
So travel, or atleast watch Motorcycle Diaries! See It has some good links.

Friday, October 21, 2005


I was wondering how this tagging starts. Do these questions come out of anywhere in particular or from the creative depths of fellow bloggers, I wonder. Anyway, I thought I would start one on my own.

Things that touched me recently:

(1) An old couple: Was in the city today and I saw this couple at a departmental store. The lady was one of those traditional Tamil Iyengar pattis (thats Tamil for grandmother) in a nine-yard saree and diamond nose stud. She was ordering about the poor husband but her love for him was soooo obvious. On the way back to their hotel, he was leading her by hand. They looked so sweet. I dont want to grow to be too old but looking at them, I began to think that if I get married, I would want to grow old like that!

(2) A girl: The bus I took back to uni was very crowded and this girl asked me to hold her umbrella. While giving it back, she gave me a very sweet thanks. You dont get to see many genuine smiles these days.

(3) A dog: While going on the bus, I saw this cute little puppy tied to a pole. It was pulling at the rope with all its might. Made me think of my dog Ginger.

(4) Shiny stuff: I went to this mall in the city today and was just window shopping. I loved this one shop which was selling jewellery. It was brightly lit up and each piece of jewellery was looking so incredibly beautiful. It made me thank the good God that I was a girl so that I can dress up!

(5) Life: Travelling always gets me thinking and I did a bit of it on the 45-min journey back to uni. I realized that life had touched me in so many ways recently. I am surrounded with love from friends, family, my work. I realized I had a lot to be thankful for.....small joys matter!

Now, San Nakji, you are the first to be tagged! So are Arun, Adam, Ajit and Karthik, if they are okay with writing such stuff.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sick....and tagged!

San Nakji was wondering why some bloggers on his privileged list (Thanks so much for putting me there!) dont post regularly. I would if I had easy access to the net. We have just one cyber centre on campus and I hate waiting..... Anyway I was sick for the past few days, got a very very sore throat. I promised myself I would give my voice some rest, then broke it by chatting away to glory! Now its worse! :-(

I havent been reading any other blogs recently and didnt realize I was tagged. San Nakji reminded me that I had to write about...

What Movie Scenes Always Make You Cry (Or would if you were a big crying crier):
This is hard because I am not a crying kind of person. Anyway...

(1)Braveheart- when Gibson cries out for freedom before dying.

(2) Black- when Rani makes her little speech in class.

(3) Titanic- when Leo dies (of course! I had a huge crush on him then!)

(4) Mathrubhoomi- when the female lead is assaulted even when she is pregnant.

(5)Khamoshi- the first and only movie I cried with. It was really long ago and I dont remember the scene very well.

Every Bollywood tear-jerker makes me sit up with a little doubt as to whether the guy and the girl will stay together even though I know they do. Like I said, I never cry at the movies, though I do feel sad.
And now for TV scenes. I have stopped watching TV altogether except for the news (yes people, I am a little boring!).
But the series Roswell overwhelmed me every time. I simply loved every scene, every episode of it.

Phew! That was tough! I know tag Karthik and Ajit Chauhan. Anyone else, you are welcome to invite yoursef and get tagged. Just leave me a comment!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

On The Personal Front

I sort of had decided against writing personal stuff in my blog but ah well...!
This is to say that I got my ears pierced again. I now have two ear studs in each ear. No big deal but considering what happened the first time I got my ear pierced, this was a big deal. I was very young and my mother had taken me to a hospital to get the piercing done. She tells me that i screamed so loud that people from the cinema theatre nearby came running to see what was happening!! She was sooo embarrassed.
This time was totally fine. I went with my friend Raji and it didnt hurt a bit. Looking at mine and her ears (she has three in each ear!), ma was very impressed and got a pair too!
Today she was hurting quite a bit and was cursing my lack of sensitivity and my inability to feel physical pain! He hee hee!!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Madikeri Dasara...Aha!

The pictures, not very good I am afraid, are from Google images.
Madikeri Dasara....! Where do I begin to explain its beauty!
Mysore Dasara takes the cake for its historical significance, the royalty involved, the sheer granduer and the kind of marketing that goes into making it world famous. Caprisoned elephants go in procession around the city. The main elephant carries a 750-kg gold throne in which an idol of Goddess Chamundi is placed. In front there are tableaux and artists showcasing folk dances from around the state. I hear it is very beautiful. It is so crowded, impossible to go near and have a look.
Madikeri Dasara is not so. It starts at night and the procession goes on till the next morning. There are ten floats/mantapas/tableaux like in the picture below. The idols are based on mythological stories and incidents. They are made by temples in Madikeri, are heavily lit with special effects and are accompanied by a band playing music and lots of people dancing. Now, to dance in front has been a dream of mine for so long. Ma puts her foot down here as girls dont go dancing like that. :-(
The preparations go on for a couple of months. The Navarathri starts with a lot of enthusiasm in the air. The first picture is that of 'Karagas' , where idols are placed on the shaven head of men and taken around the town. There are only four of these, one each from the four temples of the Shakti Devathes. These men are to be under strict discipline as to their diet and personal hygiene. These Karagas are not to come face to face with each other during teir walk around the town as that would bring bad luck. Also the idol is not placed on the ground anywhere except in the temple.
The procession starts in the late evening. There is an orchestra to entertain the crowds throughout the night. Madikeri Dasara gets lakhs of people every year.
It is our Nadahabba. And what can i say. The entire town is involved in it and that makes it all the more special. For us, it is a celebration of life and the spirit of faith that is embedded by tradition and culture so much a part of India. Though Navarathri is a Hindu festival, Dasara transcends all faiths and is more about faith in humanity.
I say this time and again, that the faith of people in India is amazing. Every year the rain plays spoil-sport on the celebrations. Priests and the devout pray in advance for the rains to stop. Though it rains nevertheless, it did this year too, The sky becomes amazingly clear during the main part of the procession. This may be purely coincidental but we like to believe in the power of collective faith.

This year Dasara was rather special. Two of my good friends from class, Raji and Mahesh had come. Also students from Norway who are in my uni on an exchange programme, were here too. So I had super fun with Marit, Maiken, Ingvild, Kim, Nils and Helge and Mahesh and Raji. Ooh I forget, my cousin Ranju too!
More later on Norway......

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Dog Club

Thanks to Ajit Chauhan's blog, I got to know about this really cool website at As is obvious, its all about dogs. There are these little doggies that bark when you place the cursor on them. Sooooo cute!
Also found this clock that I have put up on my blog. I realize it looks sorely out of place on the template that I use, but what the heck! Its too cute!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

;-( Tagged Again!

I have been tagged again by San Nakji! This time, five songs that I am loving right now. I dont get the time to listen to music much but here goes....

1.Jo Pyar Tune Mujhko Diyatha- by Mukesh. Its a very sad song and always manages to depress me. I love it nevertheless.

2.Here With Me- by Dido. It was in the soundtrack of my favourite series Roswell and I have always liked it a lot.

3. I Shall Believe- by Sheryl Crow. It has a haunting kind of sound that I love.

4. Forever and For Always- by Shania Twain. Soooo romantic.

5.Bhale Bhale Chandada Chenduli- from the Kannada movie Amritavarshini. The music of this song is amazing.

Whee! That was easy. Actually there are many more songs that I know i love, just cant remember right now. I would tag Karthik, Arun, Adam and anyone else who want to be tagged because i still dont know who reads my blog!

PS: is a good website to listen to Kannada songs though I think you will have to register.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Another One

This is a poem I wrote today during a seminar. Was meaning to write this for quite some time and mean to rewrite if given some time :-)

A Traveller's Song of the Road
There is a story
A tale of myth and wonder
For every stone, an upturned leaf
For every mile, every town
A memory formed
For every journey.
The sky its bluest ever
Cotton clouds gliding by
Soothing meadows, tall hills,
Emerald ponds and dusty lanes
Stripped walls and shy villages
Each a cover for another journey
An prelude for life's symphony.
Travel I must
The road tempts too much
Many a legacy and myths invite
To read their tales
If not in miles, in mind at least.
Spirit is too free
The chain of rules too weak
For the destination, I care not
The journey beckons urgent and fast
And those stories I shall tell.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Small Joys

Photo by Arun.

I was reminded of appreciating the small joys of life recently. No, I did not have a brush with death or suddenly get a flicker of enlightenment. Life, the say, is the best university you could possibly attend to experiment with human relationships, work on assignments of your personality, fail sometimes in your tests and get through the exam of survival, having learnt the lessons the hard way. (Actually, nobody said this, I just made it up!)

Anyways, I promised myself that I would find time every day to appreciate any one little thing in my life, smile to myself and thank God for it.

The above photo is a close up of a tree trunk. I remember reading somewhere that you can count the age of the tree by the number of rings on the inside of its trunk or the number of lines on its bark. Just look at the beauty of creation!

After a long time, I was in the hostel this afternoon to have lunch. I had a large mug of curds in front of me and drank it at one go. There was this cute white whisker of curd on my upper lip that made me smile. :-)
I cant really call that a blessing but you know, life would be so less uncomplicated if each of us found time to smile at something small and seemingly insignificant, the very things that turn an existance into a life!

Evening Sky

Photos by Arun.
Dont you just love the evening sky? The myraid colours, the hues..out of this world. This was taken in Madikeri after the sunset. There is this one great view-point that not many people know about. Compared to the other places, this is very quiet and especially great to catch the sun set. You can very well sit for hours thinking and just looking into the beyond here except that it gets very cold...brrr!! The place opens out into a range of mountains, which towards evening begin to look like old grandpas just waiting to take their pampered grandchildren into their warm folds, like mute spectators to a history being created, they who are older than history themselves.
(I am going to dedicate a whole post to mountaing one of these days!)
I love the moon in the second picture.

My Coozhin!

For those uninitiated into my weird style of writing :-), coozhin is but of course cousin! I had been on a trek organised by the Youth Hostel of India a few months back. We were just five, the guide, me and my cousin and a French couple. The French guy kept asking questions about India and kept talking about coozhins! But this is not about my trek or the French guy.

This post is to give a link to my cousin Arun Kottolli's blog. Go to All his entries are on tech-marketing, most of which I dont even try to follow :-)

He is a grrrreat photographer and a good writer. He tells me he reads my blog regularly, so Arun, tone down and include some articles for us commoners. And I would like to see your pics too...How about it? Looking forward to it.....

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Little Smile Is All It Takes

T-shirts with little messages on them are back in fashion I hear. Some are saucy, some cliched, some really good. When I was little, the most common messages would be 'Smile is the opposite of a frown', 'Smile- it improves your face value'.... you know, the ones with the word smile somewhere.

The point I am trying to make here is how useful a smile can be. And i dont mean it in the sense of a smile to heal a fight....blah...blah...the cliched stuff. The greatest use of a smile is when you have no clue as to what the person in front of you is saying. I have done this and seen it so many times.

There you are talking to your mother's second cousin's brother-in-law's son talking about who attended his sister-in-law's wedding and what the menu was or some uncle you are meeting for the first time telling you how good/bad your profession is and how absolutely amazingly talented his daughter is.....(or any equally unenviable situation you may find yourself is!). The other person is going on about God knows what and your mother has taught you to be respectable to your elders no matter how irritating they are (atleast my ma did grrrr!). What do you do? You think about what you wish and plaster a silly grin on your face to look like you are actually interested.

No, dont feel guilty. I have done it more times than I want to remember, more times than I have confessed to Lord Krishna. So this is where a smile comes in handy...when you dont understand, when you dont want to understand....when you dont care... when relatives are a pain in you know where... :-) when life is a sucker... works.
And they need to start putting these nuggets of my brilliant advice on t-shirts too!

I am thinking of going to Madikeri tomorrow. Ma was talking about this great slide show of Kailash mountain. And I have promised myself a break from writing and technology. See you on Monday (?).

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Hmmm..... here I am in front of the computer. I thought I would write something but my mind seems to be blank right now. What do I write.... am open to ideas people! ;-)

We watched Akiro Kurasowa's 'Rashomon' today. Good one about how people lie to others and to themselves to save their skins. Watch it for the portrayal of the bandit Tajumoro who is superb as the uncivilised, brutal villain. Unlike New Wave Cinema in Italy which hardly had any emotional portrayal, this had the characters oozing out emotion from their eyes. The film ends with a question but the story is unimportant here. The story of who murdered a man is just a medium through which Kurasowa tells us that all of us have the vestiges of a primitive nature that we think civilisation hasdone away with. In those ways, we are no different, if not worse, than the most cruel of animals. Movies that make you think this way are not just a way to claim to be more intellectually superior than the next person. Instead, it has to make you accept that some things are just inherent in human beings, some bits of primitive behaviour that will not vanish even after millennia of "civilisation".

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What I Learnt Today

We watched the Italian movie 'Umberto D' directed by Vittorio De Sica today. Good one. Its about an old pensioner and his dog. The dog was especially cute.

Had some free time today. Here is what I learnt today:

1. Dry wine is that wine which is fermented till the natural sweetness is gone. Dry wine is had with dinner and sweet wine is had after dinner.
Dont ask why I read that. I dont drink but the pics with the article were very good! ;-)

2. Manchala is a game played in Africa. It consists of seven holes dug out in the ground or is wood. Seeds are placed and the objective is to scoop up as many seeds as you can to win. There are variations s to how the game is played. It is a game I used to play with my granny when I was little. We call it 'Chenne Mane'.

3. Discover India is a really good travel mag.

4. Just checked out Really cool website. It is a mag started by two software engineers Nikhil Velpanur and Abhijit Prabhakar. I am yet to see the print version but by the looks of their website, I am sure its good. By the way, it was Karthik who gave me that web address.

5. I learnt how creepy some people can be. (Sorry, wont be writing an explanation)

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Okay, this is not at all a good picture but this is the best I had here at uni.

This is home. The entire house is not covered in the pic though. My house is named "Minuguthare" which in Kannada literally means 'shining star'. The house was bulit by my grandpa in 1962 and the family moved in in 1963. My granny tell me that back then, a bulb burning in the veranda could be seen from the other side of the town. There is this slope just before you enter Madikeri, in front of hte head post office. It is here that you can see the proper town of Madikeri in full, with sloping roof tops and billboards and mosques and all the other trappings of a town. It also happens to be my favourite part of the town.

Now, this is the place from where you could see the light from the house. It would look like a star from that distance and that is how it came to be called that. I love my house, obviously. The best thing is that it is within the town limits and the main town is just about a 10-min ride. But right in the middle of the town is our little estate. We dont cultivate anything here. The entire place has the ambience of a village house, though it is anything but that. There are our fields in front, an estate, our own view point from where you can see half of Madikeri, an emerald pond, a few turtles, two huge fishes, an old well where a huge frog used to live, cows grazing nearby (not ours), trees that I love climbing, fig trees that I am very attached to, a clearing which is made for partying and a mountain called Stewart's Hill! So it is something out of a picture postcard, a true beauty. There was even a long tunnel that I had discovered, though that is gone now.

To be frank I dont miss my family as I talk to them every day. It is this mix of village and city life that I miss the most. Among my favourite pass times is roaming in my estate, sitting on the edge of the pond, looking at the bluest sky ever, gazing into the pond, the colour of precious emerald and just thinking....

They say that you can take a girl out of the mountains but you cannot take the mountain out of the girl. That is how it is with me. Madikeri will always be in my blood.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Nation Without Women

We watched the Hindi movie 'Matrubhoomi' today as part of Film Studies. It was very very disturbing. The movie makes you sit up, shakes you by the neck and commands you to think. It is very crude and that is what you should watch it for.

The movie presents a futuristic concept where there are no women left in a village. The story is set in a village in North India where female babies are killed habitually. Female infanticide is a reality even today where a male baby is what most parents pray for as they think a son is their path to heaven. Anyway, after a point of time, there are no women left. A family of five brothers and their father is at the centre of the story. The sons are desperate to get married but the father is unable to find a girl. Finally, he 'buys' (thats right!) a girl from the neighbouring village for five lakh rupees and five cows and gets all five sons married to her (a referance to the Pandavas and Draupadi?).

A very disturbing scene is one where the eldest son sits after the wedding with a calender in his hand alloting the days of the week to each brother to go and sleep with her! The worst is when the father demands his right to sleep with her as it was him who paid the money!

Thus Kalki, the bride, undergoes marital rape every day. Only the youngest son shows some concern for her and they fall in love. The jealous brothers kill him and a servant boy who helps Kalki to run away. Kalki's punishment for her audacity to try and run away is further rape in the cow shed where she is tied up. Even the uncle and brother of the servant who is killed rape her for revenge!

She subsequently gets pregnant and a fight starts when everyone tries to determine who the father of the child ought to be. The father-in-law and the sons are killed. She gives birth to a girl child and the movie ends with a hope and a smile on her face.

I know what you must be thinking. That such movies are just exaggerations. But female infanticide takes place even now in many parts of rural India. The female to male ratio is decreasing every year. Sure the scenario may be an exaggeration but that is what you need to drive home the point.

Watch it if you can. It is very disturbing. The way her body is used is really bad. But though it is classified as an adult movie, there is not a bit of vulgarity in it.
The director is Manish Jha.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Omkareshwara Temple

This is Omkareshwara Temple in Madikeri, my most favourite temple. It is the place I go to to pray, the only place where I feel some really devotion. Not that I am not religious. I believe in God, not much in the institution of religion. Well, that can take up another post.

I did not take this picture, some professional photographer did.

This temple was built in 1823 (I think) by the then king of Kodagu, Lingaraja. The story goes that his eyes fell upon the daughter of a priest and he abducted her to make her his daughter-in-law! Her father brought her back and naturally the king was enraged at this. He got the priest killed and misfortunes began to fall on him. In atonement of having killed a brahmin (which then was the highest of all crimes), he was advised to built this temple.

The temple is that of Lord Shiva and the linga was brought from Kashi. The architecture is unique because unlike temples with gopura, this is shaped like a mosque. The style is Indo-Sarcenic. The tip of the dome is gold plated.

The premises are vast. There is a pond in the front where there are hundreds of fishes, big, huge ones. Most temples in Madikeri are in the middle of the town and dont present you with the serenity the mind craves to pray in. But Omkareshwara is very peaceful. The inside walls are full of paintings from mythology. A lot of cultural events take place in its premises. Every year, there is a 'teppotsava' where the idol is taken around in a boat around the pond. The above pic was taken during one such event.

My extended family was once closely associated with the temple. My dad's uncle was the parpathigar here, sort of like the administrator. It is in some one else's hands now. We are no longer associated with it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another Poem

Another of my bad poems. I wrote this in class during some boring lecture!!


Up a mountain
The world in myraid
shades of green
And a turquious blue above
The wind from far away
Through my hair
Makes me wonder
Yonder to look,
Where to head
The compass shows
Many sides.

Up the mountain
Many seasons past
A wiff of soft breeze
Awakens a thought and
Clears up a path
Albeit one strewn with
Thorns, an untried way
Amidst the blues and the green
There lies a direction
My work is my way
My life is my work.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Movies, Films, World Cinema...The Whole Deal!!

We have this paper called Film Studies this semester. The person who takes this paper is a great movie buff and has an amazing collection of world cinema. In one month, we have seen Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy, DeSica's 'Umberto D', 'Citizen Kane' and this amazing documentary called 'Nanook of the North' which I will be talking about today.

This docu, directed by Robert Flaherty in 1922, is said to be the first docu ever made. It is a silent film about Nanook, an Eskimo. It shows the hard life they lead, their daily struggle for survival and the way they manage to be happy throughout everything.
Some facts: The docu shows how the Eskimo catch fish, how to make an igloo. Walrus spells fortune to them in a land as vast as England but inhabited by just 300 people. Rubbing noses is the way the Eskimo kiss. Every morning, they have to chew on their boots to soften them as sealskin gets very hard overnight. The Arctic snow is as dry as sand.

Now I dont know if all this holds true even today. The movie is amazing for the way it shows the life of the Eskimo with an exploratory approach. The desperation for food in such a beautiful barren, stark landscape is heart-renching. It had a lot of still photos in the end. A picture of Nanook in a warrior pose was especially good. Maybe I could get the DVD cover from my lecturer and scan it...

Nanook died of starvation just a year after the docu reached all corners of the globe.

K V Subbanna, a stalwart in Kannada theatre, passed away recently. In his memory, we are organising a film festival in the uni the coming week. We shall be screening world cinema, five in all.
Subbana, an agriculturist, set up Ninasam, a theatre institution, in Heggodu, a tiny hamlet in Shimoga in North Karnataka. He brought to the villagers the entire world. Ninasam has a one year diploma course in theatre. Every year, it conducts a 10 day workshop in culture appreciation where you will get to rub shoulders with the giants of the art world. This year it will be held between Oct 12 and 18, I think.