Friday, July 29, 2005


In a mood to post images today, I guess. A forwarded pic again. This is an image of a storm in Sydney, where the best friend Vani lives. This is my idea of destructive beauty!
I love good photos and like to call myself an amatuer photographer. I cant rate this pic but my aesthetic eye tells me it is fah-a-bulous!!


A friend of mine forwarded these to me. Some Sea Shell temple, the message said. I dont know where this is and any info would be much appreciated.

Coffee in a Glass

I must say this again: I looooove coffee.
Okay, that said, I must now write about the virtues of drinking coffee in a glass tumbler. Actually, there are no virtues as such, just that I love doing so.
(I think I have gone crazier than my usual self. I am writing crap here!)
On the way to uni, we take Route No SH 48. When dad is dropping me off, I make him stop at this tiny little hotel in a place called Kalladka which is better known for sporadic communal riots. The hotel is the kind I normally wouldnt step into. But this place offers something called Rimjhim coffee, one of the best I have ever had.
This coffee is given in a glass tumbler. Below is the thick milk, middle is the dark decoction and on top you have the froth. It is actually layered that way, dont know how they do it. You are given a long spoon to stir and drink. Delicious!!!
There is something about drinking coffee in a glass. You normally have to blow at it constantly as it is very hot to hold. But it sort of reminds me of tea shops in tiny villages where men sit around discussing politics, the rain and flirting with the lady cook there. Cliched situation I agree but I shall not apologise for it. "Apologising for using a cliche is a cliche in itself"- a qoute I made up recently!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Magical Place, A Beautiful Lake

I love myself for taking these photos!
The place: Hundreds of feet up in Chickmagalur, above the controversial Datta Peetha on Baba Budan Giri hills.
Situation: We heard of this lake from a policeman guarding the Peetha. It was a tough climb up and my parents and I were tired. But the view was so worth it! There was this crystal clear lake, the sky was the most beautiful shade of blue and not a single living soul around except us! Ok there was a cow grazing there which looked irritated at the company. It was like being up in the clouds with the hills below our feet. The lake had ruins of what looked like a fort but there was no one up there who could give us a story.
Thats my ma in the first photo.
What else shall I say, its a beautiful place and I think the photo just about says it all.
History: Centuries ago, Baba Budan came from Arabia with a few coffee beans smuggled in his belly. This brought my elixir coffee into south India. Chickmagalur is still famous for its coffee estates. Baba meditated among these hills. Over the years Hindu monks also came here. The cave temple is today divided into two parts with Hindu and Muslim priests. It was all very peaceful until "intellectuals" with vested interests gave it political overtones. Today it is a disputed area, often called 'Ayodhya of the South'. These politicians I tell you....

Abby Falls

This is one of the most well known tourists spots in Madikeri, called Abby Falls. Abby in Kodava, the language of the indigenious Coorgis, means falls. This place has featured in a number of film songs. Remember the old Hindi film 'Khoon Bhari Maang'? The ethereal Rekha gets half eaten by a crocodile here.
Abby loses its glory after October. Actually its even better in the peak of monsoon but I didn't have a better pic.
Tourists think this is a tributary of River Caveri and fill up their bottles with this"thirtha". The truth is the entire sewage of Madikeri, including septic waste, goes into this water. (Disgusting , I know!) Tourists usually go into such a frenzy seeing it that they never believe the water is dirty. There is a whirlpool on the left end.
Nestled amidst lush coffee estates, it is a beautiful place. But please look, dont touch unless you... you get the picture!!!!
Added on a later date: Went to Abby Falls recently, like we tend to do every monsoon. Got some good pics that I will upload later. Here is some info about the place that I knew but had forgotten. The stream that makes up the falls is called Muttaramuttu. The falls is also called Jessy Waterfalls, after the daughter of the first chaplain of the erstwhile Principality of Coorg.
Along the way, we had a strange fruit that looked like a distant cousin of arecanut and tasted like the bland off spring of passion fruit. Some locals we asked called it 'kadchi'.
Abby Falls is about 08 kms from Madikeri.

Wailing of a Banshee

I forgot to say the worst thing (ok one of the worst!) about the monsoon in Madikeri- the power failures. The winds as I said are terrible and invariably, a tree falls somewhere. The people at KPCL take off to God knows where and we go without power for days on end. It was worse when I was a kid. But going without power is nice, we end up living like in the ashrams of yore, without tv, just talking.
The power went yesterday. I wouldnt mind much except that my mobile has no charge and I hate that. I hate the fact that the prospect of switching off my mobile bothers me. I hate my attachment to that piece of metal.
The wind goes around the tower on Stewart Hill above my house and howls, so like a banshee. I love listening to its almost painful cry. I woke up at 3AM today and the howling was especially fierce. I had this feeling of living by the sea and thought about how horrible it must have been when the tsunami stuck. The thought failed to keep me awake though.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Among the Ruins of Dhanushkodi

This is one of my favourite pictures. I took this when we went on a tour of South India last December.
This is a ruined church at Dhanushkodi, about 20 kms from mainland Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu. It has a history that is truly heart-renching.
Dhanushkodi was just another port town with a population of around 25,000. In 1964 a cyclone wiped out the entire populace and what is left is a ghost town with ruins of a college, a school, a temple, a church, a post office, railway station and the other trappings of a town. Yet what is amazing is the number of people who continue to live there. There are around 200 families of fishermen who constantly live under the shadow of another catastrophe. Each family lives in a hut that does not look capable of withstanding a slightly bigger wave even, let alone a killer cyclone. Every household has a mobile phone but it is not the result of any mobile revolution or a sign of prosperity. For them, a mobile phone is a basic necessity, not a device of luxury or convenience like for the rest of us.
Dhanushkodi is not connected by roads. Before 1964, it was connected by a train from Rameshwaram. Now to reach the place you have to drive down a few kilometres from the mainland. The road is so straight that you can see ahead for miles on end, kind of gives you an idea of infinity. You can see the ocean on both sides of the road. You then reach a dirty smelly fishing village where an enterprising trader sells cheap sea shell jewellery and other souvenirs as you wait for your ride.
Now is the fun part. No hardy vehicle is allowed into Dhanushkodi. You have to get into a specially designed small truck paying upto Rs 450. The very bumpy ride takes you through the ocean (yes you read that right!) on a sandy trail for the next 20 minutes. There is a very real chance of getting bogged in the middle of the ocean if you deviate from the trail.
Believe me, it was surreal going through the ocean. You then reach the town of Dhanushkodi where for the people we are just pesky tourists. Looking at the ruins is really very very saddening. There was this ancient man who had survived '64 but I couldnt ask for much details because he spoke a kind of Tamil that was beyond my rudimentary grasp of the language. Our guide showed us a deep hole from where drinking water was gathered, not at all salty. Sri Lanka was just 18 kms ahead of where we were standing. It seems you can actually see the 'bridge' (some say it is a coral reef) that Lord Rama built to get to Lanka to bring back his wife Sita. It is today seen in satellite images and is called Adam's Bridge.
A woman I spoke to said that the trucks that come by are their only source of getting in and out of the island. Kids here get educated. Life is normal there if you look past the stark reminders of imminent danger.
Going there reminded me of how fatalistic my countrymen can be. When I asked them if they were not scared of a disaster, they said that so far nothing had happened and they believed that God would protect them.
The devastating tsunami struck less than two weeks after my trip. Amidst the horrifying toll of damage and death, I was thankful that Dhanushkodi was spared from any major damage. Maybe God was looking out for the people.
I have travelled around my beautiful country but never have I seen another place like Dhanushkodi. It is so beautiful, so silent in its obvious and hidden pains, so full of hope. It sort of reinstates your faith in the fortitude, courage and faith of people, reminds you that life, inspite of everything, should and will go on.
The Sethusamudram Project that was conceived over a century ago has finally taken off. It seeks to have a connecting canal between Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal without the ships having to go around Sri Lanka. It will be good for trade and I hope to God that it will in some way be beneficial for the good people of Dhanushkodi.

Quoting Some

When I was younger, I had this habit of collecting inspiring qoutes and had built up a commendable collection. Here are a few from the very top of my head.

Found this quote in an e-card I sent just now.
"May the most you desire be the least you recieve."

From Khalil Gibran's Prophet (I love that book):
"The lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul..."

From the poem Listen by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (my fave poetess):
"While life lasts, 'tis never too late"

My all time favourite qoutes:
"As long as there is breath in your body, never give up hope."

"Dont care what people think about you. Its what you think about yourself that really matters."

"Believe in the power of you"

Notes on Notes

Dad gave me some money when I was on the way here. One of the hundred rupees notes that he gave me had a little note written on it. It was addressed to 'my dear friend' from 'your never(!) friend' for some occassion that was not written legibly. Its funny you know, the way people use currency notes to write things from an ardent declaration of undying love to their girl/boy friends to their names- for what purpose I do not know- to a shopping list for groceries or vegetables. Even if you are giving the note as a present to someone, the idea of writing your names on it is stupid, you will be spending it anyways. Money should be respected and it would do everyone some good to keep a pen and some paper handy.
Also, love is best expressed in a thousand other subtler ways, you should not have to shout from the rooftop to be heard!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

My Town is Sick!

Madikeri is sick! Well, not as in sick sick of course, sick as in the people are all ill. One crucial thing that I did not mention in the previous post was the weather in Madikeri. The town is pleasant most year around, being a hill station. But monsoon is the time to see some real action though. The rain lashes across your face, the winds are very fierce and very chilly, the mist is so thick that you cannot see more than a few feet ahead... I love it, much to the disgust of the mother and the friend Raksha! Earlier the rain would fall continuously for days on end, sometimes a slight drizzle, sometimes a downpour, always lovely. Then there is this dangerous tendency where the sun comes out for a few hours followed by cold rain. This has how it has been of late. The hot-cold combo is so bad that the strongest of us fall sick. Reason how the whole town is down with fever, cold... the whole deal. The last "great" victim was yours truly!!!(result of not being regular with my yoga. I have learnt my lesson.)
I was sick all these days. Was in bed, rested. But the worst thing was my house arrest. Ma wanted me fit as a fiddle before I went back to uni next week and did not let me out for the last SIX days!! My idea of hell played out! But now I'm back. Like Mel Gibson in Braveheart, I now cry out...FREEDOM!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Place to Smile

I love Madikeri, no doubt about it. I was born here and grew up walking its streets, smiling at its people and loving the familiarity of its lanes. When I am at uni, it is the mist coming in through the window, the cold tip of my nose and the utter disregard for my privacy by the people(!!!!!!!!) that I miss the most! My friend Raksha always complains of how you cannot even run away from home in Madikeri. That's the charm of my hometown.
I have lived in cities for short periods but long enough to know the anonymity there. In cities you are just another face in the crowd and that's nice when you are with somebody you dont want to be seen with. But here at home people know when you are ill, they ask how your trip down South India was, vegetable vendors trade recipes, they smile and actually care. Here I have had people think my cousin was my boyfriend when we used to hang out together back in high school. On the other hand, there is this person, a cloth shop owner who literally saw me growing up, who thought of me on his travels and bought me two beautiful mud lamps from distant Kolkata! That's quintessential Madikeri for you, where people know you through your family history, through your politics and your religion, a place where people just dont know how to mind their own business!
I used to hate the sense of being watched that I got and there was a time I couldnt wait to get out. Now that I am out, I know one thing for sure, that no matter where I go to live and work, Madikeri is the place I will come to in the evening of my life, to feel the mist again, to trade recipes and gossip. I know I will come home to smile at everyone again!

Monday, July 11, 2005

When Lightning Strikes!

Lightning is quite common in Madikeri just before the start of monsoon. It has been known to strike houses, trees and in rare cases, people. But lightning never struck my house because of the microwave tower (now defunct) on Stewart Hill behind my house.
That day was different. I dont know why it happened but one ray of light chose to strike our house. I remember a bright flash and a loud sound on the wire for the telephone. The wall around it had become black and I used to shrink away from going anywhere near it.
I didnt realize it then but I now know how devastating it could have been. No one was hurt that day. I continue to marvel at nature. No matter how advanced we become, can we stop nature from taking her course? That should teach us some humility. We are but tiny beings in an unimaginably vast whole.

Wrap It Up!

I dont quite remember when the fashion of wearing stoles with just about everything came into being. But it did and made a lot of us slaves to it. Laced, knitted, embroidered... just about in every colour and every type you could imagine. You can team them up with old tops, with salwars or skrits for a whole new look and keep the chill away.
I went shopping yesterday to the Tibetan colony and bought a multi-coloured stole. The colours are mild and the cloth very soft. Be sure I will be wrapping myself up with it this season!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I Love Oprah Winfrey!

Okay, I admit it. I do have some girly preferances. I threw a tiny tantrum when ma bought me a lovely shirt that was PINK in colour. I hate pink, it is soooo girlish! I dont wear make up, I hate dressing up, I hate gossip most of the time, I cant cook or stitch and dont care for gardening. That is not to say I am not feminine, mind you! I love feeling feminine but to me it is more about attitude and less about the colour pink! To me, feminity is more about the swirl of your body as you walk, the toss of a mane of long, lush hair, the mannerism... you know?
Well, whenever I am home from uni, I do watch The Oprah Winfrey Show. The topic of the show varies everytime, from the stories of victims of sexual abuse to say, the ten favourite things of Oprah this season. Nevertheless, she is iconic, I must say, for the way she seems to relate to everyone on the show. From humble beginnings to one of the most influential persons, she has come a long way, inspiring millions around the world. Way to go! For more on the wonder lady, go to

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ek Thi Rani....

I watched the movie Paheli yesterday. Shah Rukh does look weird with his moustache while Rani looks amazing. She is one actor I never thought would make it big. She started out with flabby thighs, unflattering figure, a bad voice and bad dancing skills. Today she still doesnt have a perfect 10 figure, is shorter than the models with hour glass bodies but is sooooooo pretty! She has in her kitty hit films from various genres, the best being 'Black'. Rani is today unarguably the queen of the Hindi film industry.
Paheli is a fairy tale based on a novel 'Duwidha' by some author whose name I forget. Rani gets married to Shah Rukh, a money minded businessman of the Bania caste. He goes away on a trip the morning after their wedding. A ghost who has fallen in love with Rani takes his shape and plays the husband's role to utter romantic perfection, with her consent! The husband returns and she is left to solve the paheli or puzzle.
The movie is good. The friendly ghost is adorable. He is like a metaphor in the movie, especially when he says that he is the love in the heart of a woman. The movie is about unfulfilled desires, about finding love in the unlikliest of places and true love (of course). Total make-believe but quite nice if you can listen to the words behind the romance and recognise the parables underneath the love story.

My head hurts

I rarely get headaches these days. Used to get a lot of those when I was "studying" B Com. Though technically I am still a student, I have stopped the actual act of studying. This ear-screeching, head-thumping ache in some yet to be identified part of my brain seems to be telling me- whoa! stop watching a movie per day, teaching everyone to work on the computer and writing in the blog everyday! Ah well! I was never too good at listening to (unwanted) advice anyway.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Da Vinci Code

I saw a documentary on the National Geographic channel yesterday about cracking the Da Vinci code. Kind of okay, though two hours was too long to come to a conclusion, which they finally didnt. It started with the best selling novel by Dan Brown called The Da Vinci Code. Though a work of fiction, Brown claims to have based his story on actual facts that have been deliberately suppressed by the church for the last 2000 years. It is supposedly an old theory delivered in a thriller. The book talks of an alternate version of the story of Jesus Christ. He was supposed to have been married to Mary Magdalene and had a child named Sara whose bloodline was the Merovingian family of France. The bloodline has been protected by a secret organisation called the Priory of Sion whose leaders included Boyle, Victor Hugo, Issac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci is also supposed to have hidden clues to this incredible story in some of his most famous paintings including The Last Supper and Mona Lisa.
The theory is rather complicated to write about in a blog. Read the book for the racy way in which it is written even if you rubbish the idea.
My personal opinion: I am not a Christian and I cant talk of the religious implications. One of the authors in the documentary said that he did not believe or disbelieve in anything, he just knew or didnt know something. Likewise, I just dont know. As for the conspiracy theories, I largely think that they are nice diversions from the mundane. They give you something to talk about, to write blogs about. You might want them to be true or false but most of us couldnt care less either way. Also, some things are best left unexplained instead of opening a can of worms. After all,the unknown, unexplained ways of life are what keeps a faith, a belief system going.
Read about it, read the book. If not anything else, it is a great way to pass a lazy afternoon.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Su Do Ku in The Hindu

It started with my favourite paper The Hindu which began publishing sudoku every day. I was hooked on to it and so is ma and Mahesh, my friend from uni. My record in completing the one in The Hindu is 07 minutes. Mahesh claimed to have done one in 04 mins, though I dont really believe him!
Sudoku is a Japanese number puzzle where there are nine columns again divided into 3x3 columns. You have to fill numbers from 1 to 9 in each column in such a way that the numbers are not repeated in the entire line horizontally and vertically. Sounds complex the way I have written it but it isnt so bad. Check for details or pick up any daily, almost all have it these days. The Hindu though is perfect all the time, something that cannot be said of some regional newspapers.
The Hindu is a classy newspaper. It is known for its Leftist leanings but if you want reliable news reported in correct, good English, this is it. I learnt my English reading this paper. The editorials are still very complex but it is one great paper. I have been reading it ever since I began reading newspapers. You can check out their online edition at


I am not a make up person. Natural is the way I go always, reason why my ma thinks I am "not normal". Well, I like looking good but I dont believe in doing so artificially. The only makeup I ever wear is kohl or kajal on my eyes. My brand- non animal tested, ayurvedic and expensive Biotique. Its dark and difficult to remove. I wear loads of it and ma says I look like a Muslim most of the time. She always shuts up when I offer to convert. Not that she or I believe in religion. She would prefer I look like whatever she thinks I am supposed to look like.
The other things I use is Lotus lip balm in orange and the mandatory perfume or deo spray. I am low maintainence really, again much to the chagrin of ma!