Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Land of Unending Beaches

"......shob beach gule pachon bori baniye khaiye diyechhe" said Ma describing what her son-in-law has done in the trip which roughly translates as- he has made a concoction of all beaches and fed it to us! So taking in the sea air was a priority and we visited four beaches in three days. The train was one and a half hours late (which is common as it travels cautiously through the tunnels of the Western Ghats). Baba was sitting erect from 6 in the morning and the landscape told us that we were in the thick of the ghats. Mangalore is a bright and beautiful city with an impression of Goa here and Tarkarli there. Coconut and betel nut palms swayed in the breeze and the clouds made fairy tale like formations in the sky very like the ones shown in the Walt Disney production of Aladdin.

The first beach we set our eyes on was Penumbur about 10 km from the town and near the New Mangalore Port . The waves were highish and we dived gleefully in. Baba had to sit some distance away however he had a panoramic view and like everywhere else in Mangalore we could not see the end of the beach on either side. I think these beaches are all in one line stretched down the coast upto Tholpetty in Kerala! I had read somewhere in the innumerable brochures that we flipped through before our trip that one could cover all the beaches together by motorcycle!On the way back we had lunch at a seedy joint, but the food was good.

We returned to our hotel (Srinivas) totally spent. We planned to catch the sunset at Ullal beach. Ma baba were ready before us and we sped off to Ullal, the beach has huge rocks on it and people had gathered on them to watch the show. The Someshwar temple which over looks the beach is a good perching point for the sunset. The clouds rose in layers all around looking computer generated! So unreal yet seeming close enough to touch. Even from this high vantage point we could not see the end of the coastline which stretched as far as we could see lined with coconut palms on the ground and fairy tale clouds in the sky. The setting sun pierced through the clouds like a celestial light, the little gap between the clouds changed colour like magic before our eyes-yellow to orange and then purple and the play of light reflected on the sea which was grey on one side and deep blue on the other. Show over we turned back with a strange feeling of calm. The first day well spent. The Mr the children and I went to explore the nearby market and had a scrumptious meal at Heera Panna.

On day two we planned an expedition to Malpe beach. This time Ma was determined to take a dip, she was unprepared for it on thbe first day. Malpe is 53km from Mangalore, we set off a little late due to my little one's potty trouble. It took us all of two hours to get to Malpe beach, but it was worth it. The sand is almost white and the sea gentle needless to say, we all dived in. My daughter had the most fun! The mite had had to be wraped in a towel on the first day, but today even I was prepared for a longer bath! Two guys were getting themselves covered in sand! Sand and sea therapy it surely is! We got some lunch packed at the Paradise Isle Resort and leaving Ma Baba enjoying the view at this seaside resort, we set off for Mt Mary's Island from the dock area. There is a ship building yard near the dock area where a huge vessel was being assembled. The steamer ride from Malpe to the Island is quite exciting and the waves made the largish steamer bob up and down like a row boat. We changed boats to get to the island which is known for its basaltic rock formations. My girl found some interesting shells. We got back at 6. Ma Baba gave the evening outing a miss, we ventured into the surrounding Kadri hill and temple, we also visited an ancient Ganapati temple in the vicinity of the hotel.

On the final day we first went to the St Aloysius church, there were frescoes all over the walls and ceilings of the chapel. We could not take pictures because the Sunday morning mass was in progress. Next was Sultan Battery, a watch tower ercted by tipu Sultan overlooking a water body. Only ruins remain but it has a good view of fishing boats and bright blue waters. Our last stop was Suratkal beach, one account had described it as the coastline's best kept secret and so it was. We took sometime to find it and when we did there were only three people there other than us, who soon took off leaving us to enjoy the most mildest of beaches on our own. Baba ventured close to the sea and for the first time we could get him and the sea in one frame. It was a beautiful morning of sun and sand and ofcourse the sea with lots of shell collecting and sand castle making thrown in. Suratkal is 20km from Mangalore, we returned for lunch to the hotel. In the evening we went out in search of cashewnuts but markets are completely closed on Sunday. We hit an MG Road Mall for coffee before heading off for the station for the evening train, happy that we had managed to see and experience quite a lot of this dreamy city.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ma Baba and I

For the first time in the ten years of my marriage my parents are actually staying with me! They are in Bangalore for a month. We have adjusted pretty well to each other's routine. While my parents in law are very flexible, my father has a set time table which he does not break so we have also adjusted likewise and enjoying it. We are used to sleeping till eight but Ma Baba are up and about by seven and are sitting in the balcony by then. Thanks to them I am getting my morning cup of tea. The Mr is not a tea person and I hate having tea alone so I do not make tea in the morning unless the Mr asks for it (which is rarely), but my parents enjoy the morning cuppa so I have company everyday!
My father had expressed a desire to go to the sea side so we are off to Mangalore this weekend. I am apprehensive because my father has lost thre use of the right side of his body after a stroke and has not undertaken long train journeys for the past six years, and it will take some planning to see that all goes smoothly. Though the Mr is an expert in planning trips, this will be a challenge for us. See you after the trip!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Death, Destruction and the rise of the eternal question

First the cyclone in Burma, then the quake in China and now abomb blast in our own Jaipur, loss of life all around. The former two due to nature's quirks and the last due to human folly. Faces of innocent victims of disaster staring at us from the newspapers. At first there is dispair, and horror and then one beings to ask why? What is the reason for all this suffering? Is there really a God that looks over us? If so does he take the day off during such occurences. Hundreds of children buried in their school. One is reminded of the Gujarat quake where children participating in a republic day parade were buried in the sudden quake. Are we then merely the product of a coincidence, is there no guardian angel looking over us. I have been raised on the notion of an omnipresent God and I do believe that some force is guiding me through my life, but this theory cannot explain the loss of innocent lifes due to the vagaries of nature that has been created presumably by this superior force. Truely, it will be difficult to imagine our existence without conceptualizing such a force. I think atheists are extremely courageous as they function without this anchorage, in our darkest times we find solace in the fact that there is someone who knows everything and is giving us brownie points for being good. However such natural disasters conjures up the rationalist within us. The earth and the whole universe is on its own expanding into eternity and no one is controlling it, the very thought sends shivers down the spine.However be that as it may I revert back to my believer self (as there is nothing I can do) and pray fervently for the survivors, may God give them strength to overcome the grief and the loss. May God never put me through this test, ever, I pray for my loved ones strewn all over this country and out of it. I hope nature is kind to us, and I thank this force for sparing us.

Next to the senseless killing of innocents by some young men who think that they have undertaking God's work. Well, destruction of God's creatures cannot be God's work, so it is clear that they are working for the worldly ambitions of a group of people who use religion to bring themselves power. A dose of atheism would work here, what if there is no God, fellows, leave alone two or three of them, who would you fight for then? There is absolutely no excuse for killing people when all religions preach love and harmony. The Prophet Mohammad's Islam brought order in the chaotic world of the Arab Tribes engaged in blood feuds. Islam is the only religion which unequivocally announces the equality of allmen and equality among the sexes, it urges its followers to seek knowledge and also encourages sacrifice through the donation of wealth and charity. How this simple religion was twisted and convoluted to start and end with the term 'jehad' is beyond my comprehension. However there is doubtless an economic and cultural cause for this. Of equal concern is the new militant form of Hinduism, senseless.... My heart goes out to the innocents who lost their lives in this senseless manner. Jaipur was unprotected as all the red alert stuff happens in Delhi. It is a signal that we must now remain alert everywhere. How can we prevent the growth of these incidents. How can we condition the minds of our youth. Here the negative forces are more powerfull than the force of reason. How much can you kill? Can the Hindus finish off the Muslims or can the muslims murder all unbelievers? Hitler tried to eradicate a whole race, was he successful? We are in this together and we have to live with each other and the only way of resolving issues is through proper dialogue. Alas, inspite of the boom in the communication sector there has been no opening of minds and we still propogate our rigid and often erroneous ideas to others instead of learning more about each other and understanding each other. Dispair yet again, amidst this hopelessness the cries of the victims remain.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

In the Land of the hetch (h)

Here the letter 'h' is pronounced commonly as 'hetch' with a lot of emphasis. This letter is very significant here, until I learn the local language and dig deeper into the psyche I won't be able to say why but I have some evidence. The 'h' appears here at places where it does not in the north. This I noticed specially in names- if made in the south a Hindi movie about twin sisters would be known as 'Sitha aur Githa' similarly the nightingale of India if born here would be known as Latha! Other names like Savitha, Kavitha, Lilitha etc all have the 'h' does this happen more for girls' names, I wonder. There was also an 'item girl' of yesteryears from the south called 'Silk Smitha'! Lastly who can forget J Jayalalitha of the neighbouring state. Clearly it has to do with the pronunciation of the south Indian languages. Sometimes though the 'h' looks out of place. There is a restaurant chain which we encountered at Madikeri by the name of 'Athithi'. Now, the word 'atithi' means guest and it has two similar sounding but distint sounds 'ti' and 'thi' now to make them both 'thi' makes the word sound odd and heavy. But the strangest one I encountered was while passing through Wilson Garden one day I saw boldly written on a banner- 'KARNATAKA MEGHA SALE' now what on earth is 'megha'? Megha is cloud in Hindi, so the use of the h in an English word might well turn it into a Hindi one!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mistake Mistake

I'm sure that anybody who is reading these posts will be sick and tired of my investigative search for the true PC Sorcar heir but I must set certain things straight before I finally put an end to this topic. After much reseach from the net obviously and after putting the many scattered pieces of my memory together I have finally figured out the stuff. PC Sorcar senior had three sons not two as I had thought earlier. The third and youngest is this lesser known PC Sorcar Young. The eldest is in the US and he is into animation and doing well for himself there, he has done some good work in India too. PCSorcar Junior's troupe is called 'Indrajaal' and Mr Young calls his 'Indrajal' with an a missing. Still have not found out the original of this name. If it was used first by Jr then Yg is taking advantage of reflected glory by adopting similar name. Be that as it may questions still remain, however things are not hunky dory between the bros for they do not perform together and Yg never mentions the more acclaimed Jr in his shows.
Also I do feel short changed because I was fooled by the similar names and had to watch one Sorcar when I was expecting another.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Feud in Magicland!

Feeling quite dazed after yesterday's magic show.Due to the high level of excitement I had not checked carefully the name of the magician, it is PC Sorcar and the magic companyh is Indrajal however this was 'Master and Young' PC Sorcar and not PC Sorcar Junior, whose magic I have grown up watching! The result is that though my daughter watched enthralled I felt cheated in some manner.
I have heard a lot about PC Sorcar Senior, the original PC Sorcar from my maternal grandmother who had lived in the same place in the erstwhile East Bengal and was friends with the family. How he paid for some good in a shop and asked the shop owner to look carefully at the note, the owner duely checked it and locked it in the cash box only to find a blank piece of paper the next morning. He ofcourse promptly complained to Pc's mother who had to pay up! Then my grandmother's mom was also closely associated with the family and was fortunate enough to watch his tongue feat performed in the informal atmosphere of a friend's living room. The tongue was brought for inspection in a saucer, needless to say, no one wanted to have a close look!
Now, the senior PC Sorcar had two sons and a daughter, as far as I know. The elder son PC Sorcar Junior made a name for himself in magic and it is his shows that I have grown up watching. PC Senior's daughter is the wife of my father's close friend and we used to get passes from her. The younger son was in the US, my great grandmom was close to them and even showed us pictures of the younger son and his family.We had written this son off as far as the magical tradition goes and all eyes was on PC Sorcar Junior, at least in India. As far as I remember Indrajal was PC Jr's creation.PC Junior is synonymous with magic in Calcutta at least and made a name for himself some escape stunts and by making whole trains disappear, he even challenged the Satya Sai Baba in a magical contest. That was ofcourse hushed up, but people in Calcutta still remember it!
PC Jr has three daughters, on my previous visit to Calcutta I saw a poster of his eldest daughter who is continuing the magical tradition.
Then who is this Master PC Sorcar, has to be the younger son's son. I have new seen any performance by the younger son, don't know when he arrived in India either, but being brought up on PC Sorcar stories I was totally intrigued. How did this PC Sorcar (Young) become "world famous' without my knowing it! The magic tricks were the same, the lines were the same but I had no peace of mind!
Anyhow Bangaloreans are least interested in genealogies and we happy to receive 'the newest PC Sorcar' in the block. Though the boy mentions his grand father and father's achievements, not a word did he speak of his uncle, so there is rivalry here, feeling sad for Senior PC, his tricks are being used by his sons but not together but against each other. His legacy is thus divided and no real new innovation is being made. This could have been the first family of Indian magic but alas the family is divided.
Ah well, at least my daughter got a feel of the Sorcar brand of magic, and we took in the old world ambience of the Town Hall.

I'd Like to Add
There are some points in favour of the lad though. First, he bears an uncanny resemblance to PC Sorcar Senior, while neither of his sons looked like him. Moreover, he has preserved the simplicity of the magic tricks and has carefully weaved in his own innovations. His smile, particularly is the smile of PC Senior. He has also expressed himself through music (must look up his work) which means that he is not restricting himself to magic alone. He is charming enough, though I just adore PC Jr's style which is so innocent yet charming. That's it I guess, if your curiosity is aroused give him a dekho at Town Hall and tell me about your impression, he will be here till the end of the month. Are there any Bangaloreans reading this post?