Monday, October 29, 2007

road trip to gundlupet and bandipur

a golden langur's noon time siesta...

a male elephant on the right and a female and a calf(not clearly visible in the pic) on the left of the road.

the mist that hung around till noon.

big(gest) fat(test) earthworm... was easily one-foot long...

a water-fall at a distance...

road trip and trek around shimoga

signed-up for an easy trek by summiters over a weekend I was supposed to be travelling homewards...pooled in my newly-acquired-hardly-used car...13thOct morning...Bangalore-Tumkur-Birur-Arsikere-Shimoga-Sagar way.beautiful drive, especially on the state highway between shimoga and sagar.. green paddy and raagi fields.. and lotus ponds.. stop at the viewpoint for river sharavati... a little ahead, a flat me, left the required tools at home... flag down a passing-by alto.. fix... 5pm, reach the tall and very noisy waterfall about 2-3kms from the road... park cars by the roadside...3 hours behind schedule..heavy with a series of small waterfall. terrific view - gurgling splashing water, rocks, tall hills dense with vegetation. cloudless sky, a yellowing sun and a thousand sounds.

setup tents.. gather wood.. watch it darken in minutes...emergeny lamp conks... star-gaze.. step on an ant colony by mistake and get bitten a thousand times... pitch dark...zonk off.

day2: 14thOct: up.. ready.. sipping tea by 5am.. 6am, climb the circuitous route to the base of a part of the waterfall. the waterfall falls tall at first, then levels off, then falls again... and levels off and then falls again.. forming a series of mini waterfall. a king cobra was supposedly spotted the last time C,V and S went there... everyone's on a lookout...climb is fun and annoying at the same time... slippery.. and more than one fall... bloodsucking leeches decorate themselves on human skin... dense foliage..scary..

the base of the first waterfall looked a bit like heaven. beautiful... peaceful.. serene.. slippery wet rocks..more leeches, one crab, tiger butterflies, dragonflies and birds..sound of hornbills too... eerie at times...

climb down after a few hours.. some more slips and falls... aching bums... freshen up in the smaller waterfall.. change.. pack.. homeward bound... stop at jog falls... eat.. longish drive back home(the return journeys are always tiring and long)

this is what happened when a plant's stem was slashed to make way, with a sickle... it bled...

one of the many ponds by the highway

Friday, October 12, 2007


a pencil sketch...

A street artist at the Mysore Palace sketched this potrait for Rs.100/

Sunday, September 23, 2007


... in a mad world

GL(over the phone and shuffling through her bags): umm.. and I bought a pair of maroon sandals. Guess what colour they are.
Sb(matter of fact-ly): maroon
GL(surprised and excited): whoa! and how did ya know?!
Sb: It was only a guess... yawwwwn!

Sunday, September 09, 2007


mysore, the cultural capital of karnataka, is 140+ kms from bangalore. popular for way too many things - silk, sandalwood, rosewood, palaces, dasara/dusshera, jasmine, food, and its proximity to river kaveri.

janapada loka(a museum stocking folk-sy stuff) on the outskirts of Bangalore on the Bangalore-Mysore highway: (it's better known for being kamat lokaruchi's neighbour, the former being a very popular eatery)

in one of the many aalemane's enroute, sugarcane juice boils in kilns to transmogrify into jaggery... (never miss a trip to an aalemane where you get fresh sugarcane juice by the litre and for a very nominal or no price at all)

the city of mysore rests at the foot of the chamundi hills. view from the hill:

The Nandi at Chamundi hills ( to get an idea of how tall this is, notice a lady on the right side in the pic )

the mean monster at the ambavilas palace
section of the Mysore/Ambavilas Palace ( with the sun on the wrong side )

a part of the Krishna Raja Sagar dam...

a closer view ( of the earlier section ) of the KRS dam:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

GL's good eye

SB: you have good eyes.
GL(baffled): sorry?
SB: you have good eyes.

Good eyes! GOOD eyes? you mean, good EYES? GL's pleased.

Surely, there's some mistake... people usually think otherwise of GL's eyes... 'time to open your eyes sweetie, you've been out of bed long ago'... 'such droopy eyes! you can't be sleepy( this time of the day!)' ... and a very kind 'are your eyes ever bright GL, ever fully-open!'... the more regular one being 'gosh GL.. just looking at your eyes makes me sleepy'... to be read 'can't stand looking at your eyes GL.. why don't you splash some cold water into them and come fully awake'... et al

But then, different people...differing perspectives... good eyes, eh? A happy smile spreads rapidly... someone's actually complimented GL's eyes.. and GL can't believe it. And almost begins to say 'thankyou'...

SB(continues): the pictures are pretty good.
GL(confused): sorry?
SB: I mean to say.. the pictures you shoot have a good angle to them. The light is not bad either. And I appreciate that you don't edit them. For an untrained person, you have good eyes.'

Its 'you have a good eye', you #$%$#.. not 'you have good eyes'... the smile retracts rapidly...

GL sulks over her luke-warm coffee... and SB over his wasted compliment.

Monday, July 23, 2007

sunday (pot)shots...

the beautiful jain temple at Jayanagar 4th block, and its outer-wall panels...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

one evening..

.. and as GL watched, Rj went down on one knee... and just as she had feared, he popped the big question.

"No Rj" GL barely managed... and looked away.
He was asking too much of her... she was tired now.. and wanted to get home quick.

"Please GL... for all these years' sake" Rj pleaded. There was despair in his voice now...

the years flashed by GL... she thought of how they had first met six years ago, worked together on impossible projects, stayed glued in difficult times, and turned into the best of buddies... there had always been an unspoken set of rules that bound them into a steadfast friendship almost unheard of.

... and now, Rj had breached them all... he had tried to emotionally blackmail GL - into giving in.

GL looked at Rj... the setting sun lent a golden hue to his handsome face... the breeze teasing his curly hair made him look younger than his 29 years... unquestionable love and a deep concern engulfed his soft brown eyes... GL was moved... it was unusual of Rj to wear his heart on his sleeve.

GL sighed... and relented..... and got off Rj's motor-bike.

A relieved and kneeling Rj continued examining the flat tire... he had been pleading with his pillion, GL, from the past many minutes to get off the bike and avoid any damage to the rear wheel... the love and concern had been for his dear bike...

and GL, for her part, had insisted that Rj let her be seated as he dragged his bike to the service station.

a point...

".. once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat."
~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I was watching "I shouldn't be alive" on Nat Geo... a lost and terribly tired trekker drops down exhausted on the African forest floor.. and within minutes, thousands of red ants swarm all over him, threatening to eat him alive.. bit by bit. couldn't help thinking of my own tryst with ants... a few years ago.

Pallavi, my house-mate, was away to the Netherlands on a project. and it was nearing 11pm one summer evening, when I finally hit the sack.. but couldn't sleep. so i left the lights on and lay on my bed talking to Ranbir over the phone, who was then in Noida... a few states away. Still talking, i got up to switch off the lights.. and whoaaaaaaaaaa... what do i see!

the house has been invaded by ants... black ones... hundreds of them... the white tiles on the floor were visible only in chunks..peeping from below the black masses of 'em ants...

my first reflex was to jump on the bed and try to scare 'em ants away.. no use.. i then took a long peep to see where the mad army was arriving from... The inhuman beasts had been invading from the front(door) full force... the whole of the gap below the front door resembled the sluice gates of a dam, letting a steady stream of black devils...

the worst kind of gooseflesh and a nerve-wracking chill down my spine reduced me to a mere spectator to the black inpour... after regaining control of my senses, i intended to find out where this mad army was headed to... so i put on my slippers and walked crunchety-crunch on the black-n-white and crisp-n-alive floor... it's a terribly spooky feeling to walk that way... the drawing-room looked the worst hit.. the kitchen and the bathroom looked not so bad... these guys were mostly interested in occupying the hall and the bedroom and not really wanting to get some place.

fortunately for me, i was still over the phone with R.. and told him what was happening! he suggested giving them a bath.. them ants can't swim a puddle..

relieved after knowing what to do, i got down to business. checked myself first.. no ants climbing over me yet... that was comforting.. next... poured endless mugs of water to block the sluice-gates... sure enough, it worked! there was now a vast body of water dividing the ants outside and the ones inside... filled up some more water and flooded the entire room with it.. drowned a helluva ants in them... mercifully, none of them were interested in scaling the walls...

by the time i got another bucketload of water, the water body at the front door had cleared up a bit and the restless ants had wasted no time in getting through and finding more dry land... they were unstoppable!

the battle was fierce... and re-inforcements arrived in the form of two god-sent souls... i remembered that i had also called up Karthik and Conrad for help, Pallavi's friends, who live not-so-close by... until i heard their bikes outdoors, i hadn't bothered to open the front-door... and now i switched on the lights outside and opened the doors.. and what i saw quite took my breath away.. skipping not just one, but a series of heartbeats...

these blackies had come from the opposite wall that fenced an orchard!!!

karthik and conrad looked dumbfounded too... the three of us couldn't believe what we were seeing... there was absolutely no rhyme or reason for this kinda organised attack in the dead of the night... mine was one of the many row houses.. and all the other houses faced the orchard wall too. so, why was i being singled out? did they know i was living alone? in any case, what were they thinking?

K and C were flabbergasted.. and the small can of insect repellent they were carrying, looked like a joke...

The next bucket-load was emptied on the lone step that raised the house from the ground level... more ants washed away... We fill up bucket after bucketload of water and drown as many living black-masses as was possible... and spray the repellent in the general direction of any black(mass) activity...

The battle died down gradually as we broke down their ranks and waylaid them by pouring huge quantities of water all along the path they had so artistically crafted across the lane...

needless to say the house was uninhabitable... so, we drive to K's office at Ulsoor, quite close by, and spend time sipping coffee at their outdoor cafeteria and marvelling at the incident, 'a mid-night adventure' as they named it... till early morn. when we go back to the house.. the floor's dried in parts and the scene resembles the aftermath of a storm-hit city - death and destruction all around

K and C help me clean up the house and strut off to catch their well-deserved sleep... as for me, it took quite a few weeks to get over the almost-traumatic experience, and be able to laugh it off. and yeah, to be able to switch off the lights at night...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Kalvaarhalli betta

Kalvaarhalli Betta(betta = hill), also known as Skandagiri, is about 70kms from Bangalore and very close to the famed Nandi hills. It's a popular night-trek destination with the locals, and so is watching the sunrise and clouds from the hill-top. There's an abandoned temple at the hilltop.

The elaborately carved crest of the Nandigram Temple, at Nandigram on the way to Skandagiri:

rains at a distance during the uphill climb... the setting sun's hidden by the downpour:

looking into a blanket of fog... and waiting for the sun to rise:

the sun god finally wakes up like a reluctant child... but there was none of the famed cloud formation. it was just like any other hilly morning and once the mist cleared, it got pretty hot pretty quick:

p.s: all the pictures above were taken by GL's friends, and have been posted here with their collective permission.

trip sheet: l
eave Bangalore very early in the morning... stop for breakfast...catch up with others as they join in.. visit Nandi hills... the winding uphill is good fun.. and very steep at places... though several auto-rickshaws make it without much fuss. pass through vineyards... stop at Nandigram to visit the beautiful temple... tea break... arrive at the papagni math(pronounced "mutt") late noon... park bikes... there's a temple too... drinking water is available outside the math and the temple... walk up for what seems like hours :(... dead tiring, esp for GL... the hilltop resembles a park.. with people littered everywhere... too tired to help collect wood... eat... talk... prepare to zonk off... and then the pelting starts.. ambushed by huge drops of rain ... rush to the temple... surprisingly, there's no floor to the temple.. it's just soil/earth there... rain gains momentum and falls in sleets outside... and the winds howl.. at 4am, the wind is still bad... very chill... run out of water... wait for daybreak.. hope to see those clouds we saw in the pictures on the internet. no such thing... just the normal mist and fog and wind and stuff... begins to get hot after daybreak... down in a jiffy.. breakfast outside papagni math -  sandwiches and banana.. quick trip to the temple.. and homeward bound.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

jammu, katra and vaishnodevi darshan, April28th - May2nd. 2007

come april 28 and it's time to get going on a real exciting trip, after weeks of homework, deliberation and co-ordinating... and a string of bookings/reservations. what was supposed to be a quick pilgrimage turned out to be one of the most intriguing and whackiest experiences ever - the tales, the generosity of people, the facilities, the easy comraderie, the fear of attacks, the excess security personnel... and so much more.

tripsheet: fly from bangalore to delhi.. take a train to jammu...a quick dekko around jammu... hop on a bus to katra... walk up the hills... have darshan.. marvel at everything around.. come back happy and dead tired..take a bus to delhi.. fly back to bangalore.

reach New Delhi's IGI airport at 6pm ...stepping into Delhi was like constantly being at the wrong end of an exhaust fan :) The temperature was inching towards 40 degree Celsius at that hour... gosh! we take an auto-rick from the airport to the nearest Metro station, Dwaraka sector 9, thanks to 'Yahoo! answers' on 'the cheapest way to reach New Delhi Railway Station from the airport'... 50 mins later we are at the railyway station. the train to Jammu, the Southern Kranti Express, arrives at 8pm and leaves at 8:40pm.

april 29: The train sees us off at the Jammu railway station at 7am. We take ricks to(the heart of) Jammu town, freshen up, eat and hire some more ricks to take us around. For Rs.300, an auto-driver is a guide for a day. He has a list of 6 temples that he will take you to(jammu is a temple town, remember?), and has no time restrictions.

The first in the list was Shiv Dhaam... a beautiful temple in marble, beside an irrigation canal. There is a basement to this temple where some more deities are housed. All idols are in white marble and decked with shimmering clothes, jewelry and flowers

Next was Har ki Paudi - a group of temples, popularly known as mini-Haridwar, by the Tawi river side. There are security personnel here, there, everywhere all over Jammu. You are supposed to leave your bags, and cell-phones and camera behind. We visit all the temples there. My favourite one was a Devi's Shayan Kaksh - a very pretty depiction of a goddess' bedroom. The temples are at multi-levels and you get to do a lot of climbing stairs and going round in circles. The water in the river was chill, though the river itself had dried up for most part and receded a long way from the banks(got an inborn talent for visiting places at the most wrong times). standing there, right ahead was the rest of the town on the river banks, on the left was this bridge for the new railway tracks that were being laid, and on the right was a (brown)palace ( now converted into a museum) perched on a hillock and beyond it, was a range of hills. And behind us, this cluster of temples. Talk of being in the middle of things ;)

The third was a very impressive Kali temple - one inside a fort. There's a heavily guarded parking lot and a mosque, and a pathway that leads to the fort. Once again, no cellphones, no camera and minimal baggage. There is a huge lawn spread out before the fort doors, and a small lake on your left and beyond the lake is the city sprawled out like an unfolded map. The queue was a very long one, there were separate queues for men and women. It takes us quite a while before you can reach the main shrine.

Once out of the temple, there were people serving ice-cold water from huge vessels that had large ice blocks floating in it. Prasad was a cup of halwa. You come out of the fort, and in the lawn are stalls put up, on either sides of the pathway. Each stall belongs to a group of people or to a family and they are dishing out food to people, for free, as a service to God. You get approached by someone or the other who'd say "please come to our stall", take you there, a family then greets you warmly and hands you a plateful. How cool is that! Poori and black channa and pumpkin sabzi, and rice and rajma were the popular foodstuff on offer. And every stall had sweets too. The mood is festive. People sit all over the lawn to eat. It's one amazing and peaceful place, or so you think, till you see the security folks on patrol. all in all, you'd be glad if you ever visit this temple.

Our fourth place was a Shiv temple in the midst of a narrow residential alley. some years ago, our rick-guy-guide doesn't know the year, this temple got occupied by a bunch of anti-social elements, who used the sanctity attached to the temple to their advantage. ever since, the security-personnel are now all over the insides of  the temple  as well. umm. errr... pretty weird! to go to a temple and have not one, but a bunch of people watching your every move.

Our fifth was the Raghubeer temple. The centre of the Jammu town is a marketplace, and the centre of the market place is this temple. The temple has a cloak room attached to it where  you got to leave your stuff(by now you know the drill) - cellphones, camera, baggage. The entrance is again gaurded heavily by the police. This temple is spreadout over a large area... and has many smaller temples. It takes quite a while to look at all of them.

we cancel temple no.6 ...a quick look at the marketplace and we rush to take a bus to Katra. Katra, our prime destination, is a small town at the foot of the Trikuta mountains that house the Vaishnodevi Shrine, and is close to 50 kms from Jammu. The bus-ride to Katra is a good one, circuitous uphill roads amidst almost dry vegetation(wrong time of the year), picturesque gorges and dry waterways. Our rick-guide earlier told us that for all it's glory and  proximity to srinagar, it never ever snows in Jammu. The bus takes the NH1 for a while(3 days after our trip ended, a section of this road got damaged in bombings). vaishnodevi's shrine is visible from the bus, long before you reach Katra. We reach around 3:30pm, and eat lunch first thing in Katra. After the hot and tiring day at Jammu, the climb/walk-uphill is postponed to late evening.

We leave for the Yatra(the walk uphill towards the Vaishnodevi temple) around 7:45pm and hop into a rick to take us from the hotel to the security gates that mark the beginning of the ascent, that's about 2.5kms. The security checkpost is where the Yatra of 13+ kms begins in its earnest. Here, you and your baggage are frisked and the Darshan slip(Yatra Parchi) checked. Yatra Parchi's can be got for free from an office en route, well before the security checkpost, or over the internet for a small fee. It's a very important piece of paper.

The 13+km path is used by the uphill and the downhill pilgrims. Hence, all along the way and at the security checkpost, you meet a lot of folks who are on their way back. Soon after the security checkpost is a cloakroom where you can check-in your excess baggage. As for us, we had decided to do the Yatra barefoot and we checked in our footwear(yeah, you can check-in that too!). Many folks do that as well. Once barefoot, we noticed how well the entire path was tiled, lighted and canopied.

The first point you hit on the Yatra is the BanGanga, about a km from the security post. Cool water pours out of a pair of (stone) lion heads. From here, upto 3kms or so, there are rows of shops and stalls on either sides of the Path, selling chunri, headbands, souveniers, dry fruits, a few eateries, shops lending footwear(surprising.. but true.. you can borrow walking shoes and return them after you're back), walking sticks et al. The entire path is well lit with sodium vapour lamps.

As you walk further, the shops thin out and the path continues in a serpentine manner with umpteen hairpin bends, getting pretty steep at these bends. All along the path, you also have these cement blocks that barricade the valley-side of the path and double up as nice places to sit and relax, when tired. From here, you can also trace the entire trail, thanks to those sodium lamps.

The chanting of "Jai Mata Di" and "Jai Kara Maa Sheraan Vaali Daa, Bol Saache Darbar Ki Jai" begins where the loud music of the stalls end. Pilgrims chant in unison and the tempo only rises when the group going the other way, join in. The chanting never stops till the time you are back and far away from the starting point.

Walking is not the only way to reach the Darbar(the main temple). There are mule/pony rides - tastefully decked ponies with tinkling bells will take you to your destination. Then there are pitthu's or porters. You can hire their services either to carry your baggage or to carry small kids or, if you are very old, then to merely assist you to walk along. Folks are devout enough to be in an extremely messed up physical form and yet have the faith to make it uphill on foot. Pitthu's let such people lean on them as they walk alongside. Then there are palki's or palenquins. This is for people who cannot make it on foot as they are too old to walk and too infirm to make it on a horseback. hence the palki. Apart from these, you could also take a ride in a helicopter upto Sannjhi Chhat, thats about 9.5kms from the start point.

Then there are water-holes every now and then along the Path - taps and tiled and all. Very neat. There are separate water holes for the ponies - they drink out of elevated tubs. The path is also canopied at many stretches and there are many resting points. There are an additional 2 or 3 security checkpoints. At one place, I think it was just beyond the Sannjhi Chat, the ponies get a frisk too. Everything has to be off-loaded from the ponyback including the saddle, for the benefit of the security personnel and put back again.

At most places along the route you have an option of taking short stairways too, with a board beside it telling you how many stairs it has. After walking for a few hours, you hit a fork - the left one takes you to the Bhawan the himkoti way(5.5 kms to Bhawan)and the right takes you the Adhkuwari way(6.5km to Bhawan). Adhkuwari has a history. Hence, thats the way to go. ( wonder what we missed at Himkoti )

At this fork, the crowd thins out into half the initial numbers. There are boards telling us the importance of a particular spot, the distance to the Bhawan, the emergency contact numbers etc. There are several view points made with seating arrangements. There are two charitable hospitals and a few eateries spread along the path and some of these even keep oxygen cylinders for emergencies. If they do, they have a board saying so.

It's a different culture altogether, everybody greets everybody else with a "Jai Mata di"... it's infectious and a perfectly normal thing to do.

It's 12am and we are still walking.

The uphill walk is the one to die for... the enthusiasm is contagious..the crowds encouraging... the chatter non-stop... the stories from fellow pilgrims plentiful.. the downhill crowd egg you on saying "bas pahunch gaye.. chalte raho"... and of course "jai mata di"... now, that's fun.

We make it to what is called the Bhawan at 2am, it's the centre of most activity. There's an office for enquiries and donations and then a locker area and just beside the locker facilities is the mesh-covered pathway to get to the sanctum sactorum. A little ahead on the right is the blanket store-room(more about this later) and other offices, and bathing facilities for men and women separated by a huge seating area.

so you bathe in cold water(now that's mandatory no matter how cold the weather is), leave your belongings in the locker and watch out for your group number to be announced, the one mentioned on your Yatra Parchi, and get into the queue to the Darbar.

After about 300 metres or so, we arrive at huge golden doors and step into what appears to be a room. This houses the mouth of a cave that was earlier the way to reach the darbar, but now closed to public. Pooja-n-bhajans are held here every morning and evening(and telecast live on MH channel) There is a small barricade in front of the cave opening, but we can peep as deep into the cave as possible from our place in the queue. ...deposit the coconuts into a counter and collect a token for the same and climb a few more marble stairs to arrive into the open. Here, with the mountain as the backdrop, there are silver doors. All around is the very obvious heavy security. You step inside the door and find yourself in covered passage in white marble. Chanting is not allowed here. 30 metres or so and there is the sanctum sanctorum on your left. It's a marble platform about 3 feet high, on which a pujari sits. And a few feet away(towards the far end) are the holy pindis. The cave forms the roof. There's a small stream of water running from this cave to the outside and finally to the BanGanga that you meet at the start of your Yatra. You get to hang around for a few seconds, before your turn is over. This is also where you turn in the offerings you've been carrying. Beyond this, the cave-roof continues and you have to bend very low to descend the few steps and then there's another marble covered passage and another pair of silver doors. And the darshan is over.

Just outside the doors, is another water point, the tiny stream flowing from inside the cave, pours out of three lionheads in stone. So the pilgrim has to drink from here and make a promise to come back for a darshan the following year. The queue moves on.

We are now given a silver coin - every pilgrim gets one, and if you make a donation(at the counter near the lockers), then you get some more. After this is the Prasad counter where you get a spoonful of piping hot halwa, kept in hotpans. Halwa is cooked in a very mysterious way, one of the many stories heard during the Yatra. Seven large handa's(huge bronze vessels) are stacked one above the other over a fire place and cooked at one go. Though the topmost container is checked to see is the dish is done, the halwa in each of the vessel gets cooked to exactly the same extent. Another story's that the lady PM once demanded to see the kitchen and was promptly turned down.
A little ahead are three counters: at the first you get a packet of prasad, at the second you get the coconuts back in exchange for the token, and the third counter is a souvenir shop. Here, you can buy the chunris that have been earlier used on the pindis.

It's was 4 am when we finished with the three counters.

A breakfast of rice and rajma and tea later, we collect our belongings from the locker. Too tired to continue, we borrow blankets from the blanket-store. There are 3 free blanket stores, one at Adhkuwari and 2 at the Bhawan. Devotees can borrow blankets for a refundable deposit of Rs.100 per blanket. This place is 3 stories high and people are asleep all around you in neat rows, on the floor. There are a few rooms and large corridors, and they all house sleeping folks. So we find enough place for ourselves and zonk off for 2 hours.

At 6am, we resume our journey. It's not over yet since we also have to go pay a visit to Bhairon Nath. It's a temple on the adjoining hill, and a pilgrimage to Vaishnodevi is considered incomplete without a visit to BhaironNath. The walk towards BhaironNath is particularly tedious and steep, and if barefoot, this is also where you notice the blisters on your feet. the BhaironNath temple is a much smaller one. There's plenty of canopied-place to sit around and relax, before you begin on your way back. And of course you got to go slow on your way down, to avoid straining your ankles.

Dead tired and rest for the rest of the day. In the evening, we take a quick look around the market place... a neat little street with shops that sell dryfruits(walnuts and raisins mainly), pickles, local spices, clothes, etc. the market place opens into a square that doubles as the city bus-stop. We catch a bus to Delhi around 6:30pm ( plenty of transportation, buses and cabs, are available from katra to delhi) reach around 9am the next day and rest till it's time to get to the airport... and before we know it, it's home-sweet-home Bangalore.

Monday, March 26, 2007


When it's spring in Bangalore, it's really spring in Bangalore...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

la Tour Eiffel

Dei, one of GL's best friends, took this picture when she went to work in Paris last month. Now Dei's a recent shutterbug... more smitten, than bitten, by the love for pictures.

The Eiffel Tower is GL's personal favourite since it( or rather the handful of engineers who loved her the way the rest of the world does today) thumbed its nose at Hitler, the half-wit.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

to fly a kite

this li'l bird was hopping on a tree... when it fell down and broke a knee.. and kept calling out to its mommie...

And that was when Sri, GL's friend and a *PFA volunteer, rescued it by placing a cardboard box close enough for the baby-bird to hop in, and carrying it to the Animal Shelter in Kengeri.

Broken bones now fixed, this 6-month old is busy taking lessons in flying and hunting, from its peers in the Shelter.

*PFA: People for Animals, an NGO for wildlife conservation.
* GL had to blackmail Sri into letting her post this picture.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

domestic violence

........ and the accidental arsonist

It's a happy morning and GL's chirpier than the pot-bellied, raccous birds on the pomegranate tree outside. "It's time for a bath.. tra la la" hums GL. "Gonna switch off the immersion coil.. tra la la" ( immersion rod: thats how GL heats water...) Switches it off. "... leave it on the newspaper stack... tra la la"... A hesitant finger feels the water... the weather's chill and the
water's nice and hot... GL's pleased... "tra la la..."

... GL's still humming to herself when warm drafts of air sneak in through the lower gap of the bathroom door and flood her feet in a mock embrace. "Something's not right...tra la la". Takes a peek outside the bathroom... And the sight takes GL's breath away... the stack of newspapers (on which GL had left the heating rod) is aflame in a riot of blue, red, orange and yellow. GL has turned the wrong switch off. The one housing the heating rod is still switched on!!!

A bunch of December elves celebrate the warmth in gay abandon around the bonfire. GL ignores them... and jumps into action... switches off the right switch this time around... and dumps an entire bucketload of water on the bonfire.

The elves sulk. The newspapers calm down without a whimper. The red-blue coil hisses with all its might. And GL readies herself with a second bucket of water. The coil-fire monster doesn't have in it to erupt again.

GL calms down too. The corridor's a mess. Flooded with water, burnt shreds of black float on water and in the air. The rescued stack sits wet and heavy against the wall, looking as shaken as GL. An acrid smell has filled the house. As GL turns to throw the windows open, the elves take a bow and do a disappearing act... not before they sing in unison... "tra la laaaa"

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

last night...

GL and HD snuggle together and watch the movie "Paheli".... HD miffs GL by being way too empathic with the character of the ghost(dear ole SRK) in the movie... HD's growing anxiety is almost palpable around the time the gadariya (goatherd, played by AB) traps him in his goatskin bag... GL and HD take a break to calm HD's nerves. At last, HD feels comforted by the way the movie ends... sleeps fitfully all night.

HD's way too sensitive at times. Whoever said women were difficult to understand!
HD: an imaginary and good-for-nothing guy GL lives with.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Everybody loves GL

... enough to warrant her murder someday

Colleagues are all laughing and chatting and flocked at another colleague's computer. GL joins in.
a colleague: hey, see this pic GL and tell us what you think?
GL sees a picture of a beautiful girl on the colleague's monitor... and thinks it to be that of a new actress on scene.
GL(enthusiastically): Who's this squint-eyed lady?
Blaring silence. GL looks around. Everyone's glaring at her.The shy colleague was actually showing off his good-looking fiancee!

GL and TL are discussing the PM. GL's chat window has closed. GL continues writing back to TL, in a new window.
GL(as she writes): yes TL, I agree with you that unfortunately our PM has all those shortcomings. How sad for us!
Clicks on send. Waits for an answer. No answer. Checks archives.
GL's sent the message to the PM... TL's avoiding GL ever since.

GL's best-friend and his gf come visiting GL.
GL(a 1000watts smile on): Hey guys, how have you been?
friend: good... and you?
friend's gf: We were passing by here and thought of catching up with you. You know how he keeps gushing about you.
GL(to her friend): Didn't you get me any flowers today?
An embarassing silence... friend's gf's giving friend the nastiest accusatory look... friend's looking at GL with utter frustration... and GL doesn't know where to look... wants to disappear somehow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

and yet another day...

GL(with all her venom): I'll get you out of my life....whatever it takes!
particle(with equal fervour): whatever it takes.

"Mummieeeeee..." sniffs GL as she splashes water into her eyes yet again... but the particle that has gone into her right eye just refuses to budge... and hurts her eye with more vengeance than before... and GL doesn't give up. Not yet. After all, it's a mere particle... a speck of dust. And she, a thinking, reasoning human being. And what's more, its HER eye!

Its 6pm and GL's been struggling from the past half an hour to get this thing out of her eye.

Unfortunately it has lodged itself right in the centre of her upper right eyelid. The eye had begun swelling and turning tulip red. Endless drops of an eye-cleaning solution had irritated the eye beyond GL's endurance ( GL's strong, you know.. and not afraid of being hurt )

Minutes drag by... GL still thinks some eyedrops and a good sleep will definitely nudge the particle out by morning... GL tries to ignore the throbbing pain. The eye's turned beet red. And half it's usual size.

particle(sneers): Ignoring me, huh?
GL(sneers back): And why shouldn't I?
particle: Cos I can hurt you... and hurt you real bad.
GL: Huh.. really?
particle: Look what I have done to you already.
GL looks away, wishing the tear brimming in her good eye doesn't spill. Not now.
particle(in a kinder tone): Call for help, GL. Arrogance doesn't help.

It's 11pm. GL calls for help.

At the hospital, syringe-loads of saline has only forced the particle to wedge deeper into GL's eyelid from the inside. Tears stream down GL's good eye. A visibly distraught Rj asks for an eye-specialist only to be turned down. None were available at that hour. Rj makes umpteen calls to locate an eye-hospital that could be open. And finds one.

particle: Hey GL, I am real sorry. Didn't mean to see you in this state...
particle: Hey GL, say something...
particle: come on... please say something.

Meanwhile, GL has made her way to the nearest mirror. The white-of-the-eye has gone so red that GL can hardly locate her eyeball! GL's eye is a mere swollen slit, not more than two red centimeters, when open, and a fat frog's eye when closed.

The doc on duty suggests an eye-patch. Rj suggests an eye-doc. GL can't stand the thought of anything touching her already sore-with-pain eye...settles for an eye-patch.

plop... plop...Two drops of Ciplox plop into GL's eye... a white eye-gauge reeking of hospital-smells is placed on the hopeless eye... and bandaged firmly with two parallel bands...

Ciplox does the needful... GL has stopped whining and Rj is relieved. The ride back home is peaceful. Rj steers clear of all potholes, and GL is sorry for him... On a normal day, GL and Rj go bumping full speed into every single pothole.

Back home, GL gingerly gets into bed, and HD (the imaginary and good-for-nothing guy in GL's life) is at her elbow again.

HD: so hows the feeling, GL?
An impromptu tear rolls down GL's eye as she looks sullenly at HD. How could he be so mean!

HD: Hey come on... I meant how do you feel NOW that your eye is not hurting the way it hurt before?
GL(wipes her good eye): Feels better. But I look so scary... even to myself!
HD: huh... of course not, GL. You look pretty, you know... like a pretty young thing....
GL: a pretty young thing?
HD(takes a good look): ... a know... a pretty pirate.
GL(finds it so funny): hahahaa.. lemme see.

Bounds out of bed and is facing the mirror in record time... ( women and mirrors are separate-me-not's )

The patch doesn't look all that bad anymore.. the pain's forgotten... the ordeal seems like a thing of the past... and GL's grinning from ear to ear... at being called "a pretty pirate"!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Coorg - more than just coffee

A short walk through dense greens to reach the falls, and up a flight of stairs leads(gives you the Inca trail feeling) you to the pretty tall Iruppu waterfall:
The Tibetan monastery at Bylekuppe... there's a Tibetan settlement and a monastery at this place, their trademark prayer flags and generous use of gold in their paintings and all.
The monastery is a riot of colours - beautiful and exquisite.

Inside one of the buildings in the monastery:

Steps leading up the Brahmagiri, beside Tala Cauvery. Tala Cauvery is where river Cauvery originates. Climbing up these many stairs rewards one with a beautiful view of the mountain ranges beyond.

Picture-perfect Abbey Falls. This was another beautiful place.

What made the trip to Coorg very special was the first( n probably the last) and biggest all-girls' trip that spanned for three days, and all the coorgi people i have known all my life - our neighbours in jhansi, my hockey coach at school whose place we stayed at for a while in Virajpet, long long ago of course, school friends. The river Cauvery, highly revered in Karnataka and a major source of water, originates here at Talacauvery.

The Omkareshwar Temple with a stepped well and huge fishes, the Fort and museum, Raja’s Seat(a View Point with a toy-train that will let you ride it for as much as you like), Abbey falls, Bhagamandala, Talacauvery, Bramhagiri, Iruppu Falls, Nisargadhama, the Tibetan settlement and Temple at Bylukuppe were the few places we visited during our lovely home-stay there.