Baseless rants, Frivolously Yours, Places

Walking into the pages of Jane Austen’s books

So after the cousin got married, we sent the couple off on their honeymoon and packed our bags to Kerala. Kerala has always been a personal favourite. I love waters and mountains. And Kerala is a generous giver of those pleasures.

On the way to Thekkady

We hit Thekkady first. It was pre-monsoon, which meant hazy mornings, warm afternoons and pleasantly chilly evenings. We spent a couple of days there – loitering around the town munching vaazhaikai & jackfruit chips, stopping at random tea stalls for that glass of glorious tea. We attended a couple of shows – Kalari (martial arts) & Kathakali. Excellent performances really. We also took elephant rides and it was so much fun. There was a plan to visit the Periyar lake but unfortunately it was closed that week due to some recent heavy rains, so had to pass on that one.

From Thekkady we went on to Nedumkandam. We’d booked a homestay there. It was a lovely piece of property and had the best view. The vacation was just like I had wanted it – lazy & without an agenda.

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View from the bedroom

The entire week followed this charming routine: Wake up to the view of misty hills, sit in the garden chair and ponder on the beauty of life while sipping hot coffee, curl up in the sofa and read, walk around the town in the afternoon, get back, enjoy that steaming cup of chai, lie/roll in the grass in the front yard till the delicious aroma of kappa & beef curry come wafting out through the kitchen window. Run like the wind to the dining table, eat, hog, stuff yourself and land in bed. This routine, generously sprinkled with magical trips into the world of Jane Austen’s characters – PERFECT.

Local Market – Dried Fish
Local Market – Quail Eggs

Just walking in and around the town felt like I was transported to the pages of Jane Austen’s books. Like Elizabeth or Elinor walking across over moors, among heather bushes, picking wild flowers from the fields. There were some friendly hills in the town, which meant very less effort to climb. So that’s what I did, I went up these hills – just walking, skipping gaily, humming & singing. And once at the top, you can feel the wind trying to blow you off the hill. Whew! I am visiting this town every year. This is a beautiful beautiful place.

All that is missing is a basket
Traipsing through fields of grass

There is this place Ramakkal Medu nearby, where they have a giant statue of a Kuravan-Kurathi couple. Oh and there are these wind mills on these hills and it is fantastic to see! Another day we went to a waterfall in a nearby village called Etithope. It was so pretty and I am glad we did it. We had to descend quite a long way to get to the bottom of the falls, but it was just worth it. There was a cocoa bean and nutmeg plantation and I badly wanted to flick some. But i wouldn’t know what to do with it later, so i just walked on.

Cocoa Bean Trees

Yes, Please do visit this place. It is so lovely. No I am too lazy to describe stuff in detail. Please do yourself a favour and go visit it, trust me!

Also, totally stuck on two songs that I dug up from an ancient playlist. and on repeat ever since

Shukraan Allah – Kurbaan

 

Vaanam Keezhe – Thoongathey Thambi

 

Take care,

pH.

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Baseless rants, Frivolously Yours, Places

Uphill & Downhill

As per usual, it has been sometime since the last post. I have taken up a new assignment at work and have quite a few things on my plate. I couldn’t find time to write. I haven’t even had enough time to read and my TBR tray has a pretty tall stack.

Talking of books, I had been reading Picadilly Jim sometime back. I was only halfway through it and had lost the book. And somehow mysteriously it has now appeared on my work desk. You are forgiven, penitent thief.

A couple of weeks back I went uphill to Kotagiri for a short holiday. It was a sweltering summer in my town. The mind ached for a cool place and the body faltered to the Nilgiris. It was a refreshing change going from 33 – 35 degrees to 14-15 in a matter of 8 hours. I went with the family and we stayed in a cozy cottage in the middle of a tea plantation. It was the perfect place to unwind. Misty mornings, filtered sunlight with generous downpours for a couple of hours in the afternoons. Plus a most beautiful view to wake up to. The world is a beautiful place.

Waking up to this

There is one thing I wanted to write about – Panamarams. I have always liked the routes I take to work. One of my older jobs had me take the East Coast Road everyday, and I would travel around 3-4 hours overlooking the sea. Yes crowded buses, sweaty passengers who assume they are playing kabaddi – but you could still just somehow become oblivious to all that and just get lost in the beauty of the sea, the sand, the horizon, and those lovely panai marams. Palmyra palm or Borassus or just Pana maram. The blue-brown seascape & the pana marams would seem like the ever present backdrop and the towns would be the foreground frames that kept changing. Everyday on the ECR was like watching a bioscope show.

I think I can boast of a decent memory, and I have seen a fair share of panamarams pretty much everywhere in the state. Tall, dark & handsome. No wonder it is the state tree. There used to be so many of these trees just strewn along the geography of Tamil Nadu. They just grow on their own whims & fancies. The pretty palms. And their nungu fruit!

Palmyra Palms

The road that I take now to work has pana marams too. But I think they are getting lesser in number. I remember there used to be large paddy fields not very far from home. The borders were lined with palms and there used to be so many parrots in those trees. I would wander around those fields on weekends listening to the parrots, hunting bugs & beetles, living life to the fullest.

Now, i can’t remember when I last saw or heard a parrot. I don’t see as many palm trees. And sadly, those paddy fields aren’t there anymore either.

Places

Maratha Flavours

As much as I would like to say that we went on a short trip to the Bahamas last week, it did not happen, and we went on a short trip to Bombay.

Yes, I know Bombay ( Mumbai, for all you sticklers ) is a city and not a “vacation” spot. But there is shopping and beach and that is what mostly matters. We did have a good time, although we were kinda cramped for time.

Okay,  the title “Maratha Flavours” is just a lure to get people to read this blog thinking that it is either a post about the delicious Marathi cuisine or a photography blog showcasing ancient Mid-Western Indian relics. Boo Ya!! But, seriously, please read on. Like really Please. You have no idea how euphoric I feel when my stats graph shows ‘1 reader viewed this post’.

Anyways, Coming back to Bombay, You know that image that pops into your head when someone says Bombay, right? Thanks to a lot of Tamil movies with “Bumbaai” cue scenes. A swarm/school/bunch of pigeons fluttering in front of the Gateway of India. It is, in fact, just like they show in the movies. and it looks totally pretty. And the proverbial Marine Drive lives up to why it became proverbial. (Which I do not know)

Also coming back from the Elephanta caves, the skyline looks so stunning leaning against the sunset. You would wish the sun just lingers behind those tall buildings forever. Chowpatty beach is pretty. From 100 metres away from the shoreline. The closer you get, the dirtier it becomes. Being a beach gal myself, ( 20 mins from the Bay (of Bengal), 24 in traffic, unlike West Covina, California with its complicated time complexity according to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) I have a great history with clear blue to clear-ish grey waters on my side of the country, and so the dirty brown water in Bombay wasn’t exactly great. But the ‘Fashion Streets’ made up for the loss. So many clothes, and so much bargaining. I got some really nice clothes for really cheap prices. Leopold Cafe was crammed and we couldn’t get seats so just had to sniff in the nice aroma and walk away.

This is not a travel blog, neither is it a food blog. So I am not going to write about the lovely places in and around Bombay or the super duper finger food from roadside stalls. Also I lost my mood to write. So this post ends here. But here are some pictures.

Places

And, We Tripped into God’s own backyard.

I am back home after a short vacation to “God’s own country”. We had first planned for a trip to Goa. But the planning was so last minute, and no tickets. Plus, Goa was apparently very hot that week. So we turned the rudder towards Kerala. Trivandrum, Munaar, Chalakudy regions were already done, so Cochin and Allepey were zeroed in on for the week. Throughout the trip, I was wondering why men actually called Kerala God’s own country. Was it for the beautiful green landscapes with water anywhere you turn reminding you about God’s mighty creative hand? Or was it coz toddy, lottery and women in weird clothes were in abundance and every man felt like a god? I still wonder.
Chinese Nets - More of a decoration than real fishing equipment
Chinese Nets – More of a decoration than real fishing equipment

It was a short trip but very refreshing. The weather was awesome. Nightly rains, and the days were that perfect blend of wind and shade. After the pre-programmed visits to multiple churches, marine-drive drive, dysfunct chinese fishing nets in fort kochi, I happily spent the night watching back to back boring movies on KTV.

And the next day, In Allepey, we stayed on the proverbial boat houses. The food was excellent on board. [ Yes, ONBOARD. And I will stick to it ] . We “docked” at a place  that had almost 20 coconut palms per sq. ft. Yes, dummy, that is an exaggeration. But it was almost that, almost. Dark, breezy nights, Coconut leaves swaying in the air along with 300-400 floating houses lit with mild yellow lights. The view was fantastic. The huge Vembanad lake was like the sea and It felt like a page out of Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery. Just minus the murders.

The following day and the pockets of my shorts were filled with beach sand from Allepey. That beach was beautiful. Clean, almost deserted, and high tide-d – just the way I like it. There was a long metal structure that extended into the sea. Eaten away in places by salt, and rusted so much that the nuts and bolts looked molten into one metal piece, It looked so beautiful. I badly wanted to somehow walk into the sea holding it. Yeah, I am that stupid sometimes.

Beautiful Crashes
Beautiful Crashes
Anyways, we had to get back home after some shopping. It was very revivifying, like it was a short trip to God’s own backyard, really.
Growing pains, Places

I did a Jeremiah!

So, yesterday, I was at Dakshin Chitra on the ECR (Please google it. I am not writing a travel guide). Dakshin -> South, Chitra -> Potrait. So, in short, it is a park/place displaying the heritage of South India. And yeah, you should go.

Okay, I was there, and guess what! I, for one, think Dakshin Chitra is older than they say it is. Much much older. Probably it existed during the Old Testament times. Coz there I found this. Yes, yes, this!

SAM_8121
I am here, God, Where’s the message??
Baseless rants, Places

“Cisco stop when?”, “Bhaiya, kitna?”, Oh Deer!, and other things.

Okay, that is a long title. But, nice. Yes I am narcissistic. And so are many great writers.

Anyway, I am in Bengaluru now. The desi Silicon Valley, if you will.  Just a short stint here and then I should be back to the land of the forever sun.

New place, nice weather and all that is great. Got a place to stay with Biggs and that is double great. But sheesh! This traffic is wuf!! Took me one full hour to travel 12 kms!!! Madras is 7 times better!!!! [Multiple exclamatory marks totally unintended]
I kinda liked this place as a soujourner. (That is sojourn-inception for ye, dearly beloved in Christ). When you travel around on an extended weekend, no time frames, just drive around in the car, Bangalore-Bannerghatta-the kannadiga places, That is cool. But the run to the bus stop, get huddled up with 20 sweaty men, not know where to get off and ask the irate conductor “Cisco stop when?” more than 5 times… This is not cool.

Margin Note: Madras or Bangalore, all men sweat like pigs. And IT or non-IT, all sweat stinks.

Okay, now the shopping part. I had to buy flip-flops – a term I would only use in a blogpost. Biggs and I go to a ‘Any chappal 100 rupees’ outlet – another term I would use only in the blog. I pick a pair of pink bathroom seruppus a.k.a. flip-flops and ask Biggs if it is definitely a 100 bucks. Biggs says she is not sure, So when in doubt… I forget the proverb/cliche/whatever. Anyway, we ask the shopkeeper. “Cheta… this..”. *Wait, Cheta is malayalam*. “Brother… This chappal…”  *God, no, this sounds like gospel*. Now, “Bhaiya, yeh kitna ka hei?”. Not bad at all. Hundred bucks and flip-flops: check.

But the thing is, I want to speak Kannada. I want to ask bus routes and prices of things in the real Karnataka language. The same words Rahul Dravid will use to buy bathroom slippers. Wow. Isn’t that an amazing feeling!
New 15 days resolution for the year 2013 : Learn kannada. Grammar, vocab, everything. Hut Hut Hut.

Now, the deer caught in the headlights look. No, I haven’t seen a deer caught in the headlights before. Yeah, no,  I haven’t even seen deers crossing the road. But I have watched enough shows on Star World to understand what it means. Even feel it.
So, where does this apply to me?
Get off the bus and a fat lady asks “blah-blah-dhi bla-bla-dho?”. Headlights alert!
Pay for an item and the counter guy asks something. Headlights alert!
But like most deers, I don’t get killed. I manage to run.
A blank stare and run.
All hail, Karnataka and Deer Me!