Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Of Coffee and Long Bus Rides

I rattled off the details of our trip at break neck speed for fear of forgetting the sequence of events but there are several other revealing things about this trip. For example the chai-coffee-icecream n tid bits shop at the entrance of Nisargadhama at the heart of coffee country (and I mean filter coffee of the strong aroma and fresh coffee bean kind) serves only nescafe instant coffee, from those typical machines! Stranger than the beef at the monastery! Everywhere else we found the refreshing filter coffee in small steel glasses. But the best coffee according to us was at Eka a restaurent which is on the road leading from our hotel to the Raja's Seat side which claims to serve 'traditional kodagu' fare. The food was good too, but the jaggery coffee there was out of this world. The Mr and I had two cups each just before boarding the night bus because we found the place on the last evening. We would have to stay awake in any case in the bus! But I did catch my forty winks after all!

I first say the flowering coffee plants on the way to Bhagamandala. My children and I were sitting on the long seat next to the diver. A couple with their two children were sitting with us. I first got the sweet smell and wondered in my mind what it could be. Then I saw orchard after orchard of these bushes full of white flowers hanging in clusters. "This must be a mulberry bush and they must be breeding silk worms here" thought I in my ignorance. Then my daughter asked me "what flowering plant is that" I said grandly "these are mulberry bushes, the silk worm lives there," after a pause I said, "silk worm rearing is called seri-culture" when my daughter said " May I sing 'here we go round the mulberry bush'?" the gentleman sitting next to me could not stand it any longer and said-" these are coffee bushes and it is springtime now and those are coffee flowers which flower in spring and then turn into coffee beans"... there was shocked silence after that speech, and it all started coming back to me--'Madikeri, coffee country...strong coffee... coffee plantations 'etc read in the traveller's guide books. OOps goof up! I reminded myself of the lady in Delhi zoo who saying to her son in front of the rhino's cage- "beta ye dekh hippopotamus"- and when they came to the hippo's cage I heard the lady enquire "ae ki hai?"

Anyhow ,humiliation over we became quite friendly with the family. A young relative of their's had boarded the bus from a plantation. She smiled when we said that the coffee flowers smelt very sweet, she said after sometime they give you a headache. I realised that too much of a good thing may not be good.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mesmerising Madikeri

We are back folks...guys?...anybody out there?...anyhow no time for all that, even 2b's mom seems to have ditched me after the tag fiasco! Well have to record the absolutely fabulous time we had at Madikeri so on I plod or spring should I say? We took the KSTC volvo bus Thursday afternoon and after a pleasant ride, through Mysore (which is half way between Bangalore and our destination) We caught a glipmse of the grand Mysore palace from the bus.We reached Madikeri at 8.45 pm. It was raining. The hotel Kauvery was walking distance from the bus stop.We had a light dinner and turned in early so that we could explore the place as early as possible.

The mite was the first to get up the next morning and he and I went off in search of breakfast. Thankfully the rain had stopped by then. We set off for Thalakauvery the birth place of the Kauvery river. It took us an hour and a half on a bus to get to Bhagamandala which is the confluence of the Kauvery and two other rivers. This spot has a temple complex and a small ghat. The view of the surrounding hills from the temple is breathtaking. A grand gateway is being constructed in front of the pristine temple, I wish they didn't make such a grand gateway to attract the tourists, doubtless, it robs the temple of its simplicity and hence its charm. When we enquired about the sangam we were told in an off hand manner-"waha toh pani hi nahin hai"-it is commonly held, and it is the truth to some extent that tourists are only interested in grand shows from nature. if it is the sangam they expect swirling waters and dancing rapids, why can't they give nature a break. Anyhow the sangam area was a quaint stream in which a family was splashing about in knee deep water. My children and I immediately lowered our feet into the cool waters and proceeded to splash a lot of water about. We spotted a fish swim calmly by on the other bank. It felt good.

We took an auto from Bhagamandala to Thalakauvery. A grand gateway was being built there too but the temple here was also quite grand all marble flooring and a huge terrece with benches to watch the sprawling mountains and picturesque valley below. They have constructed a tank at the source. We also walked up the four hundred steps to the top of Brahmagiri to another astounding view. I found people panting more at the foot of the stairs in anticipation of the 400 steps but slowly ones breathing became normal as one got used to the climbing. After the exercise we had a wholesome Kodagu meal at Bhagamandala before taking the bus back to Madikeri. rains spoilt our chance of enjoying the sunset at Raja's Seat a view point at Madikeri town.

On Saturday the heavens opened up. The Mr bought two umbrellas and we set off for Dubare Elephant Camp in a Kushal Nagar bus. It is an hour's bus ride from Madikeri via Sunti koppa where a shop was selling something called 'Gopi Manjooran' (gobi manchurian anyone?) and I have noticed this all over India there is nothing called cold drinks all the roadside eateries and paan shops serve 'cool drinks'. The elephants at Dubare had taken shelter because of the rains but the Kauvery was flowing in all its glory. We crossed the river in a ferry boat only to learn that the elephants had taken cover and it was just a joyride across the river, we sat for sometime at the bank and headed towards the 'Golden Temple' or the Tibetan monastry undeterred by the incessant rains. We reached the grand monastery soggy feet and wet backs to be greeted by a majestic Buddha. The mite generally sreams in terror to see huge figures (he made a hilarious spectacle at the Bull Temple at Bangalore), however the serene expression on Gautama Buddha's face calmed him down and he pulled a cushion and sat on it gazing at the three enormous idols of Gautama, and two other Llamas. We had an excellent lunch of noodles and thupka. Interestingly only beef was available other than eggs in the non-veg platter. In the time of the Buddha the cow was not as sacred among Hindus as it later came to be. Gautama preached non-violence and urged his disciples not to harm the cow and irony of ironies a grand temple of the Buddha with an eatery that sertves nothing but beef. It is the cheapest of meats and easily available so it figures. I am no advocate for vegetarianism after all we destroy forests to farm the land we harvest crops to produce grains, we are killing to eat all the time unless you do not consider plants as living beings whose lives are worth living. In this scenario one must opt for the stuff that is more easily found and easy on the pocket, that is practical and reasonable as long as one is not eating moniter lizards and rare birds and animals on the verge of extinction! Then we headed for hotel Kauvery, however we had to give the sun set a miss yet again as both the children were soaking wet and had to be given a warm bath.

In the evening we went for a walk in the nearby market and had a scrumptious dinner at 'Bangalore Tiffins' nearby. We could have a filling meal for as little as 39Rs in the towns of South India, in Bangalore too the 20Rs thali still exists and a filling set dosa is only Rs 10. Thalis are unlimited so we piled on the rasam and sambar. In other hill stations we have spent upwards of 200Rs for a meal for two-so I am talking really cheap here and the meals elsewhere are of dubious quality whereas in the south standards are high, if you can withstand the chillies you are through, for idli and dosas even that consideration is not there.

On Sunday we thought of devoting ourselves only to Madikeri town. The day dawned bright and shining and we heaved a sigh of relief. First stop was Onkareshwara temple, the unique feature of which is that it can be passed off as a mosque complete with small mineret like structures, however the bull sitting on the top gives it away. The fishes in the tank in this temple enthralled the kids and us. Then on to the Government museum in the Madikeri fort. The small but interesting museum houses statues of Mahavira, Shiva and other deities along witha striking stuffed leapard. It also had a small etching of Rabindranath Tagore. Next was Raja's Seat an beautiful park cum mountain view. Then the awe inspiring Abbi falls and the coffee plantation through which we walked to it. Lastly the tombs of the Wodeyar kings. All covered before lunchtime. After lunch we set off towards Kushal Nagar yet again to catch Nisargadhama, a picnic spot we had missed the other day. Here we found the river Kauvery again and this time in all her swirling glory. The park had sprawling bamboo groves, tree houses, swings, rabbits and deer (in captivity) and a hanging bridge from which to enter. We spent a joyful afternoon exploring nisargadhama. We returned to Madekeri satiated and content. We caught the night bus back and a bumpy ride brought us back home at five in the morning( we could not get the volvo in the return journey). Well it was a weekend well spent!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wandering Around Bangalore two kids in tow

2b's momma's tag weighed so heavily on me that i suspended my writing for sometime to learn some blogging skills. Well after failing miserably in the skill learning department I somehow managed to honour the tag and here I am a load off my shoulder, a welcome load nonetheless for how else will I learn the tricks?
Meanwhile I have been about the town quite a bit. Weekend outings with the Mr apart I have also been speeding off with the kids to various places (not too far from our house, but not near either). Our favourite destination is ofcourse Lal Bagh where we have been quite a few times. Yesterday we went to JC Road which is the furniture hub of Bangalore to pick up cushions for our cane sofas, the trip was a success.
We are also taking off for the weekend so there is much to look forward to.
Holi is very subdued here in fact there is no mention of holi in the calendar so we can safely go off at this time. The mite's behaviour during our outings is however causing some concern. He will not stop at shops and he hates waiting while we make purchases. He does not like to go to people's houses either.We are waiting for him to grow out of the habit of screaming and crying at public places but it is a strain. TodayI tried to reason with him when he was more calm (I had gone to LalBagh with him to buy some flower pots and he had screamed all the time that the purchases were being made). I told him about the trauma we both went through due to his behaviour and I asked him not to do it again. I do not know whether our talk will have any permanent effect we will find out when we go out next. I do not think that he will have a problem while going out sightseeing. But he also does not act up when we go to the corner store for our daily needs and he actually likes shopping for vegetables and fish. I cannot figure out why he goes beserk on our weekend outings and that too while going into shops. There was not a sound from him when we went boating on the Ulsoor Lake or when we visited the aquarium near Cubbon Park and the joy rides there.
He is the most irritating when we go to the houses of friends and relatives. He cannot stand it when I chat with people whom he thinks are strangers. If I am chatting with Nimmi our neighbour he does not mind but if I visit my friend's house for a chat he will bring the roof down screaming! Nita, my friend says that she has the diagnosis for his behaviour and it is too much attention from me! I think she's right, he is so used to having me at his beck and call that he cannot take it when I seem to be defying his orders. Ah well, these are the terrible twos so I cannot expect the going to be smooth.
The other day I was reading in the newspaper an article on how the need for 'space' in human relationships which was of prime importance a decade ago has given way to the increasing feeling of togetherness in all relationships where people are spending more time with each other and enjoying each other's company. My family is going through the 'need for space' phase. my daughter wants to do her own thing, I want to live my own life, my son wants to get his own way, and the husband wants to get away from it all!But we still want to enjoy our weekend getaway, in that we are united in our desires, so see you after the trip guys, unless I decide to jot somethings tomorrow too!

musings: Cars for Boys and Dolls for Girls

musings: Cars for Boys and Dolls for Girls

I feel strongly about gender stereotyping and when my daughter turns out to be very girlish and my son shows interest in a 'boy' thing then it is time for some hard thinking on my part- I can't say I like that but in this post I try to laugh at myself and my feminist leanings-I like it!

musings: Jealous Husbands, Missed Nonetheless

musings: Jealous Husbands, Missed Nonetheless

This talks of the love-hate relationship that I share with my other half and shows that love need not be all sweet and sugary it can have a bitter-sweet taste!

musings: Locating the I Me and Myself in a Space Usurped by the Kids

musings: Locating the I Me and Myself in a Space Usurped by the Kids

This one is about me, it talks of the many important people in my life whose deaths have changed me forever.

musings: Friends Forever

musings: Friends Forever

This one written on friendship day is actually on my husband but I like to read it because of how my feelings towards him flows out very frankly.

musings: Support of the Blood Relations

musings: Support of the Blood Relations
This is a post I like because it talks of my original family not the one I have now after marriage. There are enough posts on the present family and this one on my cousins and brother is very dear to me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Sweet Sensation that Comes of being Tagged

I am happy to be tagged again but it is with beating heart and trembling fingers that I attempt this because I will be trying to create links for the first time. Now the tag is - Post five links to five of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the five key words- family, friends, yourself, your love, anything you like. Tag five other friends to this one and try to tag atleast two new acquaintances (if not, your current blog buddies will do).

I would like to apologise to 2b's momma for taking so much time over this and I regret to inform her that inspite of trying several tactics on my own and also trying to enlist the help of the husband, my next door neighbour and other sundry people I have not learnt the trick of creating a link from my previous posts to one single place so the links will appear as separate postings. I had decided that under no circumstances am I going to bother my kind friend 2b's momma for this so here goes refer to next post please.

After making a mess of the tag I have the audacity to tag Shome, Jonathan, Izzy, Honeypie's mom, and Usha

oops Usha already been tagged so I pass the tag on to squiggles' mom!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Three Down One to Go!

Well today was my daughter's third exam, she is the weakest in Hindi but claims that it went off well. On Friday is Maths which is least scarey because there re no spellings to learn and the girl is quite fond of it, so no tantrums when I ask her to do some sums. My baby is growing up fast, after these exams she will be as good as being in class three. It seems like the other day when she was the little headstrong nearly two year old whom I started sending to Bindu ma'am's play school against the wishes of her grandparents at the very tender age of 1yr 8months. She is ploughing her way up the classes now. The mite turned two in Feb, but he is so unsocial that I don't know how I will send him to school. There is a play school nearby and I will check it out as soon as he is two and a half. In the meantime my landlord and his family and all the other tenants in this house are trying to befriend him with varying degrees of success. My daughter is very friendly and disappears into one or other of the houses in no time. "Mummy may I go out to play?" she asks innocently and if I say "yes..." absentmindedly she is off in a jiffy and before I say "please drink your milk first" she will be entertaining the tenant on the third floor and digging into her tomatos with a liberal sprinkling of chaat masala!
My son is a tougher nut to crack. The landlord has named him "Gui gui" because he keeps whining when he sees anyone. Any attempt to speak with him gets the response of "Na Na Na" (no, no no). But the landlord is adamant " na na illa" (not no no) says he. The mite is closest to the grandmom of one of the boys who live in the flat behind ours. The grandmom and he will be sitting on the trunk in our balcony for hours, she cooing in Telugu and he chatting away in Bengali pulling at her saree pallu and chain. The moment her grandson returns from office the mite springs from her lap and flees screaming "Mamma, mamma" offending the young fellow!"He plays with my grandma but runs away when he sees me" complains the chap.
The most amazing response of the mites is to Nimmi the young girl who lives in the terrece room. His expression when he sees Nimmi is difficult to describe, a mix of shyness, embarassment mixed with adoration. He has claimed in her absence that he likes her! "ei didi ta pochhondo" (I like this didi) says he. Nimmi says she stops while going downstairs just to see that expression of his. He will be playing normally and as soon as he sees her he will stop playing and switch to that special expression, it is really crazy!

Friday, March 7, 2008

At Peace in Bangalore

Hey there world! Iam back! I don't see any fireworks or fanfare happening but still could not resist the exclamatories. As the dust settles down after our whirlwind transfer and resettlement in Bangalore I am looking back fondly at the last two and a half months that were exciting and full of fun. I enjoyed both the ups and downs and I am looking forward to all the adventures that we are about to have here. We have taken to the city like fish to water. All we have to do is avoid the city roads at rush hour, apart from the traffic problem, that can be solved with proper infrastructure, I did not experience nor hear of any other complaint about the city.

The most striking thing about the city is the shape of its trees. There are still quite a few trees remaining even after the unprecedented urban growth. The trees are huge and spread out in a mesmerising manner in beautiful shapes.

The Mr has done pretty well for himself in chosing our house. It is a cosy little two bedroom set in a house which belongs to a retired policeman. The gentleman has erected a four storied edifice with several small independent sets and stuffed it with the IT types who disappear in the morning and arrive late at night thus saving a lot of water. We and a Himachali couple are the only families other than the landlord's extended family. Most people are scared to stay with their landlords due to fear of interference in their day to day lives but we are very happy this way. We have moved from the shelter of our parent right into that of our resourceful landlord. From water to soil for my plants everything is provided by them.

I am most happy with my daughter's school. The teachers mean business and they have managed to extract the best from my uninterested child. Her spellings are still a problem but she is doing well. The little one is also pottering about happily near my feet all day and shocking us with his statements. They miss their grandparents but now that they are coming over next month I can always say "they'll be here on so n so date and we will have a lot of fun".

Today we got the internet connection so here I am again.I have met two school pals and one college pal and we have promised to meet from time to time so I am also getting a live here. I have also got myself 25 plants and they are all over my balcony, just looking at them makes me feel good. I do not miss Delhi in the least, but I miss my parents in law. I hate being the only adult in the house for the better part of the day. Ah well, they'll be coming down for some days in April and then my parents will be here in May so I will get by. I have befriended a few of the tenants too a new bride and a young working girl. We exchange recipies and chat on the stairs. There is also an old lady one of the IT chap's grandmom who is here to take care of her unwell grandson. My children love her because she reminds them of their own grandmom. But there is a language problem with me so we have to rely on sign language and some common English words.

Well, 2bs momma will atleast be glad to see this post, momma I am fine and kicking as you see, bring on the comments and the tags my friend!