Thursday, December 25, 2008

Last day of my treep

Arrived in Bangalore at 6.00 am on the 13th. Another 5.30 am in the morning awakening. Took a prepaid rick and went to Sheri’s house. Did early morning chitchat with both Sheri and Kunzu, his wife. They have spent 11 months living in B’lore and are looking for a change in pace now.

They left for work after a lovely morning brekkie made by Kunzu – stuffed mushroom omelettes and pomegranate juice. Left to my own devices, I faffed, unpacked a bit and sat down to watch tele after millions of years :) Kim Basinger movie set in Africa caught my attention and I watched it till the lights went out.

Showered and left to do shopping. Bought my amma a lovely silk sari from Mysore Silk House on Commercial Street, one for Maman and something for myself. Walked along Commercial Street and then had to meet friend N for lunch.

N is a dear college friend of mine who moved to B’lore about 4-5 years back. I hadn’t seen her in a year or two so it was great to catch up with her. Went to Tangerine in Indira Nagar for lunch where I commenced to have lovely bifteck …yummy…We jabbered and caught up on college gossip. Dessert was waffles (absolutely divine stuff)

Having finished lunch, my plan was to go towards Blossoms, a book store opp. Amoeba on Church Street. But not before I got taken for a ride by rickshaw driver buggers – not once but twice! Total dammit it was!! 1st bugger insisted that N had given these directions. 2nd bugger dropped me off randomly near Commercial Street. Luckily people were around to help so go to Blossoms about an hour after I started off.

Spent a blissful 60 minutes at Blossoms and if the clock and my wallet weren’t ticking I would have spent more time. Bought 3 books – yay! :) The Bourne Ultimatum is finally in my possession. Elmore Leonard’s 1st book I have ever read – Tishomingo Blues as well and this one called ‘Three Cups of Tea’ – which btw my dear reader is a brilliant book and I would highly recommend it.

Proceeded with an uneventful rick ride towards Koramangala where Sheri and Kunzu stay. We rested for a bit before going towards Firangipani – English pub interiors and nice whisky followed.

Went for dinner next door to Sahib Singh Sultan – had nice khana there. The interiors are like a train and nice ambience eet ees.

Got home and did sleep. Up 14th morning at 5.30 am to catch my Jet flight to Bumbai. Home beckons. My vacation has ended. New job awaits. Have had a brilliant 13 day vacation – visited so many place, met lovely people and had a blast. I am sitting in the flight and ending my travelogue. I hope to do more such trips and travelling alone has given me such self- confidence. Here’s to more such treeps :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hazy Time

lovers, originally uploaded by нasн.

Brown eyed girl
Van Morrison sings
Memories come back
Glances and hot summer flirting
A bike ride quite not forgotten
Moonlit skies on warm white sand
A kiss soft and gentle
Smile lights my face
And stays there….


Sheece wrote a beautiful post on 2008 and finding beauty in life. I won't go on about that post and you should read it here for sure ...its brilliant and I found myself with a tear in my eye when I was done reading.

I have been meaning to write and nothing and I mean nothing has been coming. Its like post the 'terror attacks' my writing dried up. My fotos luckily didn't and I really really wish I could make that my alternative career but sigh..if wishes were horses and all that jazz.

My city is healing. We are heading back towards some routine. Have I moved on? I don't know..I still feel pangs. I went to the Taj on that magical Friday evening and my heart ached. I felt such pain at the desecration caused and still don't understand why. The war rhetoric has got me worried too. People think its like some f***ing video game and I remember Mom's stories about it. You should read Annie's post here for more on this.

A friend has been dealing with heartburn and I have been holding her hand. I think I felt heartburn when Bombay burned. My love life has been a dud for sometime and my parents go on about the shaadi thing. I keep wondering if there is someone out there for me or I am meant to do this all alone. There was an excellent comic strip that I saw a couple of days ago in the papers. All the birds in a row on the electric wire and one turns to the other and says, 'Is this all there is?' :)) So true of all our existence no?

I haven't drunk a drop of alcohol in the last two weeks and I am broke. I want to keep off the drinks till 31st. S said if you don't drink alcohol for sometime, the taste really hits you. I think I want to drink my Haig something like that.

Office has been dead since Monday. It is going to get worse next week. People have taken leave and done disappear. I know friends who are struggling for leave and here we have people taking 3 weeks chutthi and doing general disappear.

I still haven't finished blogging about my S. India trip. I am going to attempt finishing doing that before the New Year hits. NYP as H put it so eloquently is going to a place called Ladghar and I have no idea how eet ees going to be. We are booked and we are going and I am itching to get my arse out of Bumbai land.

Reading..I am still devouring books. Sophie Kinsella is darn good with her 'Shopaholic' series and my sister and me r huge fans now. I entered Crossword and started reading one of those easy reading books and got called away for my appointment. Goddamn annoying eet ees because I don't know the blooming ending of the book now :(

Think am all written out for now. Will leave you with one last thought....take it or leave it....

Here comes the sun
It shines it burns
Let it envelop you
Warmth heat and all
A lil burning never hurt no one
A lil love never hurt no one

Come on then them arms wide
Embrace the world
Good bad and ugly
All at once...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last day at Hampi

Very fits and jerks start with RG suddenly getting up at 6.30 am and like saying, “Let’s go.” Thoda henh moment so early in the morning. Anyways we had good brekkie – masala dosa fro me and butter toast for RG. RG loves reading newspaper in morning, so of course he ended up reading the menu in desperation in lieu of his morning newspaper. :)

I really really wanted a coracle ride but it was nigh impossible as the ‘boat riders’ were away voting in their villages. Bloddy elections! So we saw Kondarama temple instead and then proceeded forward to the Royal Enclosure.

Walked and walked and it was flaming hot on top of that! For some reason, today was hotter than yesterday. We saw this Krishna temple in such a dilapidated state! Then to see the Ugra Narasimha, the iconic statue of Hampi. Boss, this statue was huge and I mean huge – 6.7 mts in ht.

Then took a rick towards the Royal Enclosure. We had contemplated walking and a man on bike had said 1.5 km but I have come to realise distances in the South are a lot, with the locals estimating a different distance and time taken to cover said distance a whole lot differently from you. We saw the Underground Siva temple that smelled of pee. There were water channels flowing into the inner sanctum

From here we walked towards the Hazararama Temple. Wondrous, bootiful carvings – all of Rama and his life. I loved this place and thanks to RG got the chance to see it (I wasn’t very keen on going in earlier). Then decided wanted to see the Queen’s Bath and kept wandering towards it. We saw the Mahanavami Dibba which was this gigantic ritual platform at Hampi used by the royals. Walked further to the see the Queen’s Bath – a very uninspiring building except for this

Decided it was time we made our way back towards proper Hampi. We started walking on the road and were posing for the perfect snap with the gulmohars when the bus going towards Hampi came barrelling towards us. Hopped on the bus and went to Mango Tree for lunch. Had curd rice and watermelon salad followed by Mixed Fruit juice..yum yum yummy..

Went back towards the rooms to rest before RG left. Time flew and well he left. I left almost within a hour of his leaving. Bus to Hospet cost 10 bucks and lovely scenery on the way. Noticed the Indians staring at the only phirang couple on the bus.

The whole day RG and I kept avoiding desis. Wherever desis turned up there would be noise, yelling, bloody mobile music turned on and talking loudly on the fone. We seem to be incapable of less noise or respectful silences.

The bus broke down at Hospet luckily some kms away from the train station. The phirang couple got down and decided to walk with me towards the train station. We started walking and I got introduced to Josh and Morgan in the process. They were from England and are going to teach art at ‘The School’ in Chennai. This is part of the Krishnagiri Schools based in and around S.India offering an alternative system of education.

We stopped by for a bite (thank God for that as el stupeedo train doesn’t have a pantry) and chatted some more. Very nice people and I hope we get the chance to meet again.

Reached station in time for the train and writing these words at my seat. Tomorrow is the last day of my vacation in Bangalore. Going to catch up with old friends and do shopping for my amma.

Three cheers to travelling alone in S.India – here’s to more of it (hic)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mrs Dalloway

Time is the enemy
Doesn't stand still
We are pushed through the current
Like poor Mrs Dalloway
Ah, poor Mrs Dalloway
A character quite unparalleled
Oft quoted still
Virginia oh Virginia
You bred a Hydra
No Hercules around
To slay her either
The verse is drawing to a close
I bid adieu
Wish you well
And ask you to remember Mrs D sometime...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The aftermath

I can't deal with it, I want to forget this happened. I now know why people move on, why people become so indifferent. I got home after a marathon drinking session (even for me) and well my Mom starts talking about what the newspapers have been talking about. I have't even sat and read today's newspapers. I am sick of it. I want to treat it as a bad memory and READ MY LIPS HERE- I WANT TO FORGET.

These bastards come here and fuck with my city. Does it make it right for me to forget? I want to do things that make me forget this shit ever happened. Get hammered, smoke some weed, have sex and listen to music. It helps I think. Or maybe it doesn't. It probably brings this ghastly reality much more closer than I would like for it to be.

I shed a few tears this morning as I sat on my living room sofa staring into that nothingness which seems part of me. I feel numb. My friend said to us last night, 'I could have at Leopold's' & we made so much fun of him. I think it was our way of coping and realizing thank God he wasn't.

Moving on is not an option. I must stop, stare this moment in its face, fight with the demons that arise and then only will I be free. Or will I?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Before and After

The Before and After, originally uploaded by Shane2D.

He was trying very hard to keep his distance. She would not let him go, her finger nails digging into his back. He pushed her away & sat at the edge of the bed. She waited for a minute, pursing her lips and sat up, the sheet falling off her body. She put on his tee shirt, it still smelt of him.

He didn't say a word - just sat and stared into nothingness. She expected the usual tantrums and empty words. She wanted him to hurl them at her so she could feel his pain and remain indifferent. He felt her need coming off in waves but didn't feel as consumed as before to repeat the routine.

Her sigh rented the air. She walked off to the kitchen to get herself a glass of water. She stood there, her bare feet digging into the stone cold floor. He sat on the bed and waited for words that would never come.

The love died a very long time back. All that was left was the bleak emptiness of sex and the aftermath reeked of despair and pain.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Once Was Bombay

Black, originally uploaded by *Glauka.

I am angry and pissed off. I feel the futility and helplessness of it all. What is the f***ing point I want to scream at these people? How dare they come to my city and make it burn? Who are they - these people, who feel that they can enter, rape my city and die for some unknown (and I don't give a shit about it to be honest) cause...

I finished reading 'Once Was Bombay' by Pinki Virani for the 2nd time in the book's lifespan and fell in love with my city all over again. She brings my city to life through her interactions with its politicians, people and Bollywood of course.

She names Vijay Salaskar and there is one chapter on the underworld talking about him. I read about this man and how his wife prays for his safe return. Well now, there will not be a safe return for her husband except for his dead, cold body. Her children will not have a father anymore.

How does killing innocent people justify anything? Does the terrorist check if the person is Hindu/Muslim/white/black or f***ing blue before killing? I don't think the person is even a human being, just a target that is in the way of this f***ing cause.

I am blabbering now...but I am so upset about city is not a battleground. Go fight battles where they need to be fought, should be fought. The Oberoi and the Taj are not battlegrounds and in my lifetime, I hope never to see a repeat of this.

I told my sister earlier, my generation didn't see the kind of violence hers does. There is too much of this senseless shit going on. I have become indifferent to it. This time, the famed Mumbai spirit is broken without a doubt and its going to take awhile for it stand and there is no doubt about that - it will stand, it will rise and it will crush anything that chooses to destroy it.

A friend put it quite succinctly - 'to think all we want to do is live a peaceful life, fall in love, have a few drinks, attend a few plays & bitch about work'. Not too much to ask for no?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Day 12 - 2nd day at Hampi

This got translated into a day spent at Anegundi which is across the river from Hampi. But first things first, the tale of the breakfast. I ordered breakfast – omelette. RG comes to the South of India and orders an ‘alu paratha’. Badness idea of course. It didn’t taste too good. (This story continues to dinner where he ordered an OM Rice – they basically wrap the rice in an omelette and I ordered a tomato soup)

Took the motor launch and went to Anegundi. Please notice the bike perched on the and RG saw this and were like :O

On the launch the lil flo manning the boat asked is, ‘Where you from?’ RG replied Bumbai. Immediately he gave Rs 10 back (He had taken Rs 20 from us previously). At Anegundi, we took a lift from a commercial rickshaw till the Hanuman Temple. It was hot as Hades by this time.

Climbed 575 steps to get to the top. Pooped as hell by the time we got there. Going downhill was obviously much faster.

From here we took another rick to Pampa Sarovar where a Laxmi temple was.

Another rick took us into Anegundi where went to the Craft Shop owned by Shama Madam to buy a jute bag and some lovely coasters.

Went hunting for New Brindavan Temple which was on the other side of a rivulet so did give up on that. Went looking for Chintamani Temple and what followed was a surreal experience. We saw the original Chintamani followed by Narasimha. Then this old lady- Amma took us around. We saw the place where supposedly Rama drew the arrow on Bali.

We entered this cave to meet this sadhu.

We did conversation with the sadhu for 30 odd minutes. He had been living here for three years according to Amma. He was from Guruvayoor and spoke Palakkad Tamil. RG of course doesn’t know Tamil so I was designated translator. He told us the story of the end of the Yadavas and Krishna’s reign in a mixture of Tamil, Hindi and some English thrown in for good measure. At the end, the sadhu told RG, ‘not to have any anxiety’. He asked RG, ‘What is love? Love is life.’ Extremely surreal that was.

Walked back to the Main Road and got a life in a jeep till the boat area. Walked for about 30 minutes to get beer to this place called the ‘Goan Corner’ which turned out to be shut for the next 4 months – it was offseason!

Waited for about 10-20 minutes at the river to cross the banks to the Hampi side. Got back to the room and rested. Went out at 6 pm to look for a coracle ride. No coracles but nice tea at the usual tea spot near Kondarama Temple and some ‘murmure’ again.

Saw the Virupaksha Temple in the night. RG did conversation with the priest there who fled Bumbai after the ’92 riots. We saw some nightly rituals being conducted. Returned to the rooms to change my chappals. My lil toe hurt too much :(

Went to the Mango Tree for dinner – we are short of options for dinner. The dinner incident with ‘Om’ rice followed :) There was half a moon in the sky and we sat at the steps near the river and argued about the location of the Pole Star. RG in fact saw a shooting star and wished on it :) RG also walked back barefoot. Don’t ask me why – the ground was cooler apparently.

The last day at Hampi will dawn soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The night shimmers with promises
Flickering like a flame
Orange lit shadows
I writhe in passion...or is it pain
It seems a long time ago

The memory doesn’t faze me anymore
I look at it with virginal eyes

That night made me a woman
It scorched me with its intensity
It thawed me…

Yet I remain unfulfilled
I walk along paths that don’t lead me anywhere
Meandering stumbling

I search blindly
It comes to me
I have closed my eyes against the light which sears my very being
I will learn to open them softly gently
And walk again with peace

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Day 11 - First day at Hampi

I got up at 6.00 am thinking that Hospet would come in at 7.00 am but I arrived at the exact time it had said previously on the website – 7.45 am. Fucking no pantry on this, subah ka kapi bhi naheen hua. Took a rick to Hampi and awaited RG’s company. This strange sight awaited me at the hotel.

Since I had nothing to do decided to take a walk around and grab some breakfast. Had the biggest poori bhaaji’s ever in a long time. Managed to demolish 2 and half ones out the three the man gave me.

Then went for a walk around Hampi Bazaar. Amazing place where the people are still using the old structures for their houses & commercial establishments. Hampi of the present co-exists with the Hampi of yore.Visited the Virupaksha Temple. Saw goddess Pampadevi in her full splendour all dressed up. Had to walk around around the temple grounds in hot blazing sun without f***ing shoes – that was crazy ass! Lovely temple complex and certainly could have been better preserved.

Came back to find RG waiting. He apparently sent me a message which actually got to me the next day. The message read, ‘Come back, come back’ which I thought then was very strange considering he was with me :D Cellphone network is terrible here.

We had lunch together at ‘The Mango Tree’ - this lovely restaurant near the river. Simple khana but lovely ambience. Spoiled (perhaps) by two American types loudly droning on about the environment to their Canadian counterparts.

Lunch finished, we decided to walk around the ruins of Hampi. Saw the Monolithic Bull then walked up the steps to the Anjaneya temple (lovely sculpture of Hanuman here)

We then wandered towards what we thought was the Vitthala temple complex but RG’s aha moment here declared quite clearly that it was the Achutaraya temple complex.

Walked down the Courtesan’s Lane and then went hunting for the Vitthala Temple Complex which we found after an hour. Again beautiful carvings and we discussed if it had been carved there or been brought to the place put together.

Finishing this, we walked back to catch a nice sunset. RG wandered off to imbibe the view and I sat alone and watched the desolate rocky landscape with the breeze for company.

We got a cup of chai and ‘murmure’ – ‘pori’ with some mixture in it. Did conversation with a Fine Arts flo in the shack there. He comes every year with his colleague to capture Hampi on paper and spends like a month here. I thought it was an amazing vocation…

Got back to our rooms to find that the clothes I had hung out for drying were lying about. The basthurd monkeys had got to them and my pretty red kurta had disappeared into the oblivion. Totally sucks!!

Grabbed a shower and then went for dinner to Mango Tree. Used a torch for the first time in my trip. Ate dinner by kerosene light with the insects for company. Walked back to our rooms. We used the ‘cooler’ in our room in the night. RG tells me this is everywhere in N.India. It’s a cheaper version of the AC and does the job anyways.

Another day in Hampi awaits…

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Chennai Photo Workshop

Why the heck am I blogging about a photo workshop in Chennai? Yeh good question hai, well because the man who is doing it does things like this and this and much more than that ..feel free to look at his profile on Flickr.. and you will know why I am writing a post like this.

I had the good opportunity to meet him when I went to Madras about a couple of weeks back and he knows his photography..For more details on the photography workshop being organised by him please read here

Good luck CC...I am there in spirit :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Music in my soul

When songs define our moments, they become a piece of our life. I love music and I listen without reservation to everything -most time anyways :) You hear something and it clicks your head..recalls that perfect moment when that boy kissed you..when you were young and headbanged at the Malhar social to Bryyan :D

There are no disc(h)ords here for sure. Lyrics can be maddening, el stupido or profound as you want to make it. The moment sometimes chooses the song for you ...everything else in the universe also falls into shape.

I have been tired and exhausted for a week since my event happened on 22nd and 23rd. I have been listening to music non-stop for the past 2-3 hours and everything feels right with my world. :)

"And I'll do anything you ever
Dreamed to be complete
Little pieces of the nothing that fall"
- Goo Goo Dolls - Slide

I wrote this piece and it was really strange. Someone sent me Metallica's latest song, Unforgiven III and I swear I heard this line (how can i be lost if i got nowhere to go)-and it made me feel what I had written was being mirrored across the universe.

'Across The Universe' btw has a brilliant soundtrack. I am planning to gift Jerry at work this album. He likes the Beatles a lot and I think he will like this different yet similar version of them for sure.

Have you see this? The song redefines so many things....makes me want to watch the movie...which I am told by this flo is a chapter by chapter rendition of the book. Would be interesting to see for sure.

Beck plays right now with such wonderful sister's studying behind me..she says my typing makes noise - whose to define noise or music? Hard metal fans will attest to this - one man's poison, another's food?

If you don't listen to music you are a fool or worse. It makes me dance, weep and allows me to forget the world outside. Emotions are as real as the music I listen to listen to the beat, let the rhythm take you and drown yourself in it. I know I do.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 10 - The small stop at Bangalore

Another day’s journey. Early morning start. Was at Coimbatore Junction an hour before the train was due to start. Was supposed to reach Bangalore at 3.00 pm but got delayed and reached only around 4.00-4.30 pm. More conversations – this time with a flo called Varun. He was 2nd generation Kutchchi based in Coimbatore, speaks Tamil fluently and was in the textile bizness. We talked generally and I did English conversation one on one after a long time.

Got down at Bangalore and went to Garuda Mall. Huge ass mall near M G Road, Bangalore. Had to buy Jockeys here. Went to the Swarovski outlet in search of my elusive starfish earrings and ended up buying a book at the Corner Book Shop – which I am told is a franchise all across Bangalore.

Met L here – first time I did face to face meeting with her. She is a dear friend’s friend and we got introduced when we spammed the dear friend over email at some point. We did kapi at Brio which was good fun. She was regaling me with her travel stories in Rajasthan – good fun eet was.

Met Best Phraind after this. We went to this nice steak joint called ‘The Only Place’ on Museum Road. Did nice conversation, ate khana and drank diabetically sweet mint tea. He dropped me off at the station and we bid goodbye as the train left the platform.

Sitting in the uppermost berth and writing. The new dawn brings in Hampi and company from Bumbai.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Journeys into the unknown

Road to Nowhere, originally uploaded by Sir Simon Milligan.

The bridge of life- ups n downs.
We still journey wanting to get on the train
To reach our destination.
The train seems to be rushing to the end of the journey.
Sights n smells r heightened.
Onrush of adrenaline.
The next stop -nowhere.
The road to nowhere leads me to become a mistress of a nothing place.

I enter a realm of beauty
Undiscovered, pristine
Wondrous my eyes look around
Until chastened I look away

I am not meant to see
Not meant to hear
Not meant to know
My memories- they are not mine

I leave without looking behind
Risking it all
The exit never seemed so far away...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day 9 - Travel to Bangalore

Started my journey at 7.00 am from Ayikudy. Got the bus for Madurai and continued journey. Oh one conversation with a nice kid called Malini. I was very short with her because of yesterday’s incidents still playing in my mind but when she got off the bus, she waved bye etal. Told me her parents would not let her travel to Madurai without an escort and here I was travelling alone. Was I scared she asked. I said why should be one scared but I consider myself lucky and blessed touch wood that no untoward incidents have happened.

Went to Thirumangalam and got a change to Aryapalayam. From there got another bus to Coimbatore. Uneventful journey except for that dirty, ghastly, horrendous loo at the halt!! In Coimbatore with relatives who ask a zillion questions including the proverbial one about shaadi. I should remember to warn my mother about what I said re that :)

My cousins have grown up – they are between the ages of 10-16 and I think the next time I see them they will probably be in college or something. But still loverly to see them and am also secretly glad it is only a night’s stay.

Harish, the lil one is Malavika, Adi & Gayatri

Snoozums now. Bangalore awaits. I am going to cross the border and travel to a state I have never been before. Yaaay!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 8 - Still at Ayikudy

Have had a very strange angst filled day. Started at 7.00 am with someone banging on the door and informing me that one the founders of the organization wanted to meet me. Got ready and did meeting. My father has been interacting with this gentleman since 1985 which is hell of a long way back and it was good to meet him.

Meeting finished, I went to his house in Ayikudy. Met some kids who get tuition from a Trust his wife runs. One of the kids, Vignesh spoke in his best English. He told me he intends to become the President of India someday. He reminded me of the original V so much :D

We then left for an ‘Anjaneya’ temple nearby. It was in a beautiful setting – surrounded by green fields. The priest said that the temple was from the time of the Ramayana. Now I don’t know about that but it certainly looked old. The gentleman I was with had some work at a local wedding. Outside of the wedding I saw this signboard

Too much I thought it was. The father of the groom/bride insisted on buying us some local Coca-Cola – Aishwarya it was called and it tasted like crap. I did give up after a few sips.

We then came back for lunch. At around 4 pm we were supposed to go see some local scenery. The gentleman (blech, what an overstatement!) whose car it was and who was taking us got us late – I don’t know deliberately or what but it happened. Everyone who knows me knows how much I lurrrveee waiting!

I ended up waiting for an hour because he had ‘work’ at precisely the same time we were supposed to leave. Anyways, we left after waiting for what seemed an inordinate amount of time. I saw some magnificent scenery – the Courtallam Mountains are not to be messed with. We went to this area- Five Falls – people were literally taking a bath in their normal clothes. Totally Indian thing to do but still weird to look at :)

We then went to the Aum Pranava Ashram located at the Five Falls Bypass Road in Ilanji. This is a lovely place owned by a Mr Vishwanathan and his Austrian wife Traude. Both devotees of Sai Baba, they have established an orphanage and an old age home here. The backdrop for this place is the Courtallam Mountains and the kids are cuteness incarnated.

Kaushalya papa

Unfortunately the founders were away in Austria and so I didn’t get a chance to talk to them. I am going to be contributing here – sponsor a child scheme exists and I think the kids are so well mannered and cuteness that one should do one’s bit.

We then went to the Kumaraswamy Temple nearby. Lovely old temple and the elephant at the gate blessed me. I giggled when this happened like a school kid (something that I realised RG did too at Hampi) It’s a funee feeling when the elephant’s trunk touches your head :)

We then went to the Tenkasi Kasivishwanathan kovil. Lovely complex and I barely got 10-15 minutes in here. Here my irritation and annoyance sort of boiled over except I had no one to yell at regarding this! First the gentleman who kept me waiting and waiting said something to the effect that typically I would need 45 minutes to a hour at the temple but unfortunately I would get 15 minutes only. I got so pissed off at this and was dying to say, ‘Whose fault is that????’ Then the blooming lady guard at the temple conducted like a thorough search of my bag like I was a freaking terrorist whilst at the same time interrogating my antecedents. I am soooo fed up of reciting my life story and if I have to say amma is from Salem and appa is from Palaghat one more effing time, I am going to throw a goddamn fit!

As you can see, I am thoroughly annoyed by the evening’s happenings. Anyways saw the temple as thoroughly as I could in the time given to me and made my way back to the car. There was also incessant chatter throughout the evening in the backseat. People were incapable of shutting up for 5 minutes! I mean there wasn’t one moment’s silence…bloody blech it was. I felt totally sick at the end of the day and I mean that literally!

Had dinner and then headed off to the main quarters to do some much needed ironing. Did strange conversation with a girl there- wanted to know if she looked good in her sari, if I was lying to her when I said she looked good, if I wore a sari – explained why it was impractical for me to do so in Bumbai and she called me ‘jolly’. I reckon that ‘jolly’ is the wonly propah English word that has somehow survived in Tam usage. ‘Jolly aa irkai’ – have heard tht refrain so much! :D

I am done here – I think love affair is over, not with the place but the strangeness of the people and am about ready to move on. Coimbatore and relatives await…

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Day 7 - Madurai - Ayikudy

The windmill she blows

Purple haze

Peach coloured clouds

The silhouettes of trees

Ayikudy 19:06 pm

I started my day very differently in a noisy metro called Madurai. Woke up by 5ish and by 6 am had reached the gates of the Madurai Meenakshi kovil. A few people about on the streets and of course due to the nature of my outfit – tee and jeans – conversations.

Today’s conversation was with a bloke guarding the Western entrance of the kovil. He was with the Madurai Police Bomb Detection Squad deputed at the temple and very zealously doing his job. We did at least a five minute conversation with me of course talking about my whole life right from my antecedents to my current job profile. He called himself my brother. This was with context that I have a sister. I was thoda astounded at this but said theek. I mean if a bloke wants to call himself my brother, by all means do. So having finished conversation with my ‘brother’ I proceeded to the kovil.

Meenakshi ammal glowed like a beacon in her inner sanctum. I perambulated twice – once for myself and another time for family and friends. I loved the peaceful atmosphere in the temple at that time. Niceness that was. Got a bit lost – the temple complex being so huge.

Sat for a bit at the Lake of the Golden Lotus. Took some fotus of the temple stealthily on account of the fact that I didn’t particularly feel like paying 50 bucks to the temple authorities to take snaps. Walked around the outer temple complex. Met another policeman type who took me through the hall where Meenakshi ammal normally gets married. Saw a wooden ceiling which according the cop, was about 3000-4000 thousand years old.

Left the temple complex, grabbed some brekkie and left Madurai for Tenkasi. Took 4 and half hours to get there. More conversations about me travelling alone followed.

One of the amazing places I saw today was Srivilliputtur. First I saw this

then I saw a

followed by

I am in the hinterlands of Tamil Nadu and have realised most towns have a sizable Muslim and Christian population to warrant a church and a mosque and the standard cemetery that I kept seeing outside of towns by the wayside.

Reached Amar Seva Sangam at around 1.30 pm in the afty. It’s a sprawling campus on 13 acres. Run by two wonderful gentlemen who are doing a lot for the cause of the disabled child.

My father has been contributing to this organization for the past two decades now and everyone is thrilled to bits that I have come here. I have been told that I should get my father here and that is certainly something that I am going to strive to achieve.

As I was writing I was overhearing this conversation between two other gentlemen who were staying with me. One says, ‘We should get rid of our ego to work in a place like this.’ The other says, ‘Play the politics game to work in a place like this.’ I am unsure of how things work here but I feel that this place exists is enough for me. They are doing commendable work here which needs to be continued with help and support.

I got taken for a walk around the campus by the PRO chappie. I had tears in my eyes because there is stuff going on here that I am not going to do anything about except make a standard contribution (I decided against doing this as I found something else to make a contribution which I have outlined here) Its difficult being here. I am an able bodied person and I think I am an ultra sensitive that people are different and not able to cope as I can in my own world.

But there is work being done and one must do one’s bit to help out as much as possible.

I am listening to the strains of Tamil Christian(s) singing at the church nearby. The voices carry across the distances and there is complete darkness all around me. A strong breeze has been blowing since afternoon and it will carry on through the night. The two gentlemen are reading their newspapers and there is a quiet only broken by the breeze and the chatter of the insects.

Day 6 - Salem

I landed in Salem today, the land of my mother's ancestors...

Have had a supra long day today. In Tam land, they use the word supra a lot. Like in Ayikudy, I got told, ‘Your Tamil is supra’. I highly doubt that and I told the kind gurl who told me so :)

I got up at 4ish in the morning. My cab arrived at 4.30 and I was out of Auroville headed towards Pondi bus station. I got the Salem bus and had to change once again to get another bus to Salem. Something to do apparently with 30 minute stopovers.

My journey to Salem took me about 6 hours. Salem – the reasons for going there are very simple. My mom stayed there in an area called Swarnapuri about 40-50 years back. She had told me the address of the place and a school next to it as a landmark. So I went without the name of the building or the street – just my mom’s memories to hold me by. People were extremely kind and helpful. They asked me if I was a Brahmin. Total henh from my point of view but presumably logical from theirs!

We i.e. rick man (who later fleeced me) and I went up and down this particular street. I spoke and gave old history to a couple of people living there. Finally we went to the house designated C-55. The people there run a granite business and they really tried to help me.

Finally after much ado and probably causing some amount of neighbourhood gossip, I left the area. In the meantime my sister messaged me to let me know that the street name is Kalaimagal. The rick man informed me that we had been on the same street. So this story had a happy ending where I actually ended up going to the right house by pure chance. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photograph of my house but it felt darn good :)

Post book shopping where I bought a humungous fat-ass chutya book called the ‘The Plot’ (which I left behind in Hampi btw coz it was so boooooring) by Irving Wallace for 135 bucks, I went towards Laxmi – the eating joint that the bookshop owner recommended. I had nice khana there around 12 pm – my first meal of the day.

The best part here is that I am 5 minutes into eating my food when the waiter returns:

Waiter: ‘Which country you from?’

Me: Hhahahahaahahhahahhahahahahaha (in my head)

Then in my best Tamil that I could potentially manage I said

Me: ‘Naan Bumbai lende vandirken’ (Me’s from Bumbai).

Him: ‘Teri toh!’ (sort of anyways) :D

Got the bus for Madurai post this. Madurai, well I think the Goddess had a plan for me :) I wasn’t supposed to be in Madurai at all, supposed to take a bus to Tenkasi from here directly. I however ended up seeing a Tam movie, spectacular skies and rains.

Yep, I have already been witness to the first unseasonal rains of the season. Also did two conversations – one with a paati (old lady) from Mulund (Bumbai never seems to have left me) who at the end said, ‘Kalyanam aa galaya?’ which is supposedly the be all of our lives! I replied in the negative to my married status.

Another convo with this chick in her twenties who at the end of her convo said, ‘Palakkam irkai?’ referring to the fact that I was planning to stay alone in a hotel in an obviously unknown city.

So yeah basically, my plan to go Tenkasi got busted by the rains today. I am doing an impromptu night stay at Madurai. This means I get to the see the goddess tomorrow as I wanted to earlier. Have done dinner and will do snoozums in a bit. Early rise and shine again tomorrow.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Nature v/s development

Panchgani was a 3 day getaway from civilization in Bumbai and forget the routine of our humdrum lives. It was all that and fact it shocked me.

It has been 2 years since I went back there. It has become more commercialized in that time. But the saddest case was this photograph. You see the top half - that is the plateau. The red bits are school grounds. The school has gradually taken over a public space eroding it. We have actually been rock climbing along the side there.

A close up
This is a close up of the area. Right below the tree where the rocks are is where we did random rubbish the first time I had come to Panchgani...I think, rather I fear that in the next two years, this will slowly disappear too and when I return to Panchgani the next time around, there will be no lone tree waiting for me at the end of the plateau.

I had the opportunity to visit Van Vadi, 2 hours away from Mumbai near Neral sometime back. Van Vadi is absolutely gorgeous, green as anything I have seen. It is owned by Bharat along with a group of other people and bought almost 30 odd years back. We played in the stream alongside, listened to Bharat playing the flute and ate organic food. One of the most lovely experiences I have had. We stayed for a whole day there catching the bus back to Neral in the evening and then a train back towards Mumbai.

But that ugly word 'development' of the developers, part of a Delhi consortium who have bought pieces of land around Van Vadi came to chat with Bharat that evening. He said to him, 'If I can and if you allow me to, I will make a Navi Mumbai here'. He wanted to construct 6 lane highways in this place which is served by dirt tracks internally.

I ads for these holiday homes at Karjat in the newspapers daily where they show posh Mediterranena type bungalows with swimming pools. I am thinking to myself, its in the bloddy middle of the hills, why the heck do we need swimming pools? This developer bloke he wants to put a swimming pool in the middle of Van Vadi as well. There is no blooming water in the land for him to get the water for this pool. The stream and the wells they have dug provide the water for people living on Van Vadi and our chap want to build a blooming swimming pool.

As we left, Bharat and the developer were still arguing about the development planned for Van Vadi...
Van Vadi