26 February, 2010


Thursday means, I have to go to music class in the evening. It also means, another piece of Kannada movie to endure during my half hour bus journey. That's OK- after 6 months, Iam an expert at shutting out things I don't want to see/ hear without physically closing my eyes/ ears :)
Yesterday, I sat at my usual place and looked out of the window, a little worried, because I hadn't had the time to practice my lesson. I was wondering if I should feign a throat pain. I dismissed that thought...my teacher's a nice man. He understands if we sound unpracticed once in a while.
As I was thinking about honesty being the best policy, my attention was called to the TV screen. The hero was shouting at the heroine (in Kannada) 'If one has never fallen in love, one is a sinner'! Wha-----t???!!! Hey, that's offensive - at least, to some of the 'never fallen in love' members of the audience!
On second thoughts, no, it isn't offensive. Because, in my opinion, the bigger sinners are the ones who unleash such meaningless dialogues on the unsuspecting public - the script-writer for writing it, the director for okaying it, the actor for mouthing it and the 'bus fellows' for forcing such movies on hapless passengers.

23 February, 2010

End Point

Memories of an hour's brisk walk, early in the morning at 'End Point', Manipal.
 Lovely weather, good company- would love to repeat this experience :)

16 February, 2010

Bird Watching

Till my only child started school, I was a full time mom. Looking back, I would call it the most blissful part of my life. I have also realised that one of the best things about bringing up a child is learning new things yourself.

One routine that Y & I would always look forward to was our daily evening ramble. Chatting our way along a lot of greenery, we would come across playful dogs, grazing cows, butterflies, snakes, ants and lots and lots of birds. For Y, every bird had to have a name and it was here that I would feel thoroughly challenged. Brought up in a big city, my knowledge of bird identification was limited to crows and sparrows. Of course, I could tell a pigeon from a peacock!

After Y was born, a visit to the book shop in big city meant a browse through the children's books section. During one such visit, we came across a book in Kannada called Pakshi Sankula (A collection of birds) by Mr.Suresh Kulkarni - a book with paintings by the author of commonly seen birds and a brief note on their feeding & nesting habits.

Bird watching/identifying became a favourite pastime after that. Sighting a new bird meant coming home and going through the book to identify it. Picking up a feather meant coming home and pasting it on the page that had the bird. Soon, our vocabulary had words like 'Magpie Robin', 'Scarlet minivet', 'Green bee eater', etc. These birds soon began to feature in the stories that we would invent. On rainy evenings, if indoor games & story books tired us out, we would leaf through this book/ try to sketch the birds .

When identifying birds was no longer difficult, the dependance on the book lessened. With time, the spheres of interest widened and birds have now become objects of momentory curiosity.
For a majority of the Indian birds, February - March is the nesting season. As I see and hear the frenzied activity of the birds around me, my mind takes me back to those days of active bird watching.

06 February, 2010

Valentine's Day Gifts

Ours was a marriage arranged by our families and we hardly knew each other before marriage. It was that era not-so-long ago when there were no mobile phones, letter writing was out and men were conscious of the may-be-hovering-around- after-taking-the-call dads, to talk for more than 2 minutes :D
A couple of months after the wedding, Valentine's Day was nearing and I was wondering if I should be gifting something or ignoring? During my growing-up years, V's Day was something that Archie (of the comics) had to deal with. Just as I was getting out of college, Archies - the greeting card folks had begun to target the college crowd here, in South India.
Strictly speaking, of course, V's Day is to acknowledge passing fancies/ one-way love/ romance that cannot happen (like St.V's), etc. That's why, the traditional V's Day gifts are perishable goodies like chocolates and flowers. Clever marketing has now turned the gift giving thing into a serious, expensive affair - something that folks married to each other are encouraged to indulge in! I think, the marketing festivities should be shifted to Holi (Festival of Madana, as Amar Chitra Katha calls it). Our culture has been boisterously celebrating spring/ love for aeons and cloaked in the culture garb, things would be so non-violent - more lucrative, probably.
Anyway, coming back to my dilemma - it was solved one evening while watching news on TV. The anti- V's day group was making threats and noises and quite naturally, it became our topic of conversation for the evening. It turned out that while I had a neutral attitude, the man had slightly anti- leanings! The rhetoric I endured made the decision - 'No wishing / gift-giving (or receiving!)'. And, that's how it has been through the years.
For Feb 14 this year, however, I wish a 'Happy V's Day' for the enthusiasts, 'gussa- control' wishes for the 'antis' and a very peaceful Sunday to the fence-sitters :)

01 February, 2010

Tea Break

Some time ago, I had written about one of the best coffees to be had when one is in these parts of Karnataka. Now, let me introduce you to one of the best teas.

AGUMBE.....The place reminds one of so many things.....

Second only to Chirapunji, it receives the highest rainfall in Karnataka.

One of the best views of the sunset can be had here, especially during the 'minimum mist season' (February). One can actually see the sun sink into the Arabian Sea some 40 km away!

It is THE place to study king cobras. Romulus Whitaker of the 'Madras Snake Park' and his team of herpetologists have set up a research station here to study the less known and highly revered king cobras.

Agumbe is the 'Malgudi' of Shankar Nag's famous TV serial of the 'only Doordarshan' zamaana- 'Malgudi Days'. If you are looking out for them, you can recognise some of the buildings from the serial, like Swami's home ( a 'home stay' tourist spot now!), school (the British soldier's statue from the serial lies bepedestalled and neglected in the backyard of the school!), etc.

If Agumbe is naxal- zone for the cops, to occasional passersby like us, it means the 20 minute ghaut stretch with the perpetually pot- holed, hair- pin curves and tea at Mr.Premanand's cart :)

At the head of the ghaut, you will anyway have to stop at the check post manned by the K'taka Forest Dept. Look at the curio shop nearby and chances are that you will miss the non- descript cart opposite. If you don't miss it, well, here's my advice - stop and get off for some good chai. Try the mixed dal vadas if available - they are out of this world too :) You can either chat with the affable Mr.Premanand or, look across at the greenery around as you sip the tea as slowly as possible!

This is the park maintained by the KFD near the check post. One must really thank the dept. for creating this out of what was not-so-long ago, a totally neglected water body. After tea, if you have the time, you can go pedal- boating on the lake/ walk on the cobbled path around/ simply sit on the conveniently placed garden seats - all this at a very, very minimal fee (Rs.2 entry fee to the park & Rs.10 for a spin on the boat). Your only responsibility is to maintain the cleanliness and the pure air.

Of late, the guards at the check post have been collecting money to build a big shelter for the guardian Gods of the ghaut. Now placed inside a small, low shelter, one has to really bow on one's knees to see the Gods! If the temple comes up at the proposed site, it will block out the view of the lake fom the tea cart and the thought is not making me very happy :(

However, that notwithstanding, we will , I'm sure, continue to stop for the chai. Here's hoping that the cart will shift its location to ensure the 'lake view' :)

Century on the Bronze Anniversary!

This is my100th post, and today is the eighth birthday of Alter Idem !! That's an average of a post per month......1.04 to be precise!!...