Tuesday, May 26, 2009

'Rhumba' (very) Fine at Yercaud!

Spent quite an eventful trip at yercaud and was back last night. Travelling with little kids is a problem and on top of that having to deal with an ex-half armyman who is unwell, and impatient and prone to shouting orders at the drop of a hat (ie my father) is a challenge that only the kind hearted Mr can take up.So, off we went amidst much confusion, everyone pushing and pulling in different directions. The first problem was acquiring a wheelchair, which was solved quite easily at Bangalore city railway station. Baba was whisked away by the wheelchair route with ma following behind and we reached the platform within minutes of each other.The train was on time. We were off to Selum from where Yercaud is a 1 hour drive up hill from Selam town. The train reached on time at 9pm. Thereafter the trouble began...there were no porters at Selam at that time. One sickly looking fellow was already engaged. The Mr searched about for one, because we needed him to get the wheel chair for baba. Baba could hardly be contained screaming for the Station master with ma trying to calm him down. The Mr at last acquired a wheelchair- he had to deposit his identity card! This is how our disabled are treated at our railway stations! No wheelchairs and the path which wheelchairs take, long and winding over the rail tracks and really dangerous sometimes.There is change needed here!Then we were deposited in a safe place on the other side of the station...another thing the way out for wheelchairs lead out to a god forsaken part of the platform from where it is difficult to get any vehicle (must speak to Mamata didi about this)! The Mr sped off to return the wheelchair. A kind gentleman had helped ma while crossing the tracks with the chair, he hung around and was joined by a second gentleman who even summoned a taxi for us on his phone, they also scolded the lone porter who had by then arrived after completing his previous chore. By the time the Mr arrived after depositing the wheelchair, the taxi had arrived.
Hotel Ganesh mahal acted like a balm to our frayed nerves. The service is good, we had already had sandwiches on the train so we just had to flop down on the wonderful bed! The next morning revealed a surprise, Selam town, that had smelled like Agra the last night was transformed as the line of hills became visible at the horizon in the morning light! We were bathed and ready by 9am and off we went on a taxi (rs 800) to Yercaud.
The Yercaud lake has been taken over by the tamil Nadu government and the only hotel on its banks is the Hotel Tamil Nadu, the Mr had made an e-booking for us over there. The buildings are sprawling with cottages dotting the slope. We had opted for the rooms which had a view of the lake.The boating was also entirely under the control of the Hotel Tamil Nadu people. I think it is a wise idea not to do any boating on Sundays because the whole of South India descends upon the lake on that day!! Yercaud is a convenient weekend getaway! The rates are also higher on Sundays and the lake over crowded with boats of all shapes and sizes! We were kept standing in the line for over 20mins when I in typical Delhi/ Calcutta fighter cock woman style started demanding an explanation for our long wait! Till I kicked up the storm, everyone else was waiting patiently with nary a complaint while the women at the counter chatted and laughed and occassionally handed out a ticket or two to the sweating and weary line stander! They were so shocked at the outburst that they began to issue me a ticket bypassing the poor man who was standing in front of me with two kids, mumbling something about rush and shortage of boats! In any case the public must be told why they have been made to stand in line for so long said I firmly! Finally I did manage a row boat for the mite and me. The Mr and the brat had gone off in a two seater because that's all that was available. We did manage to take the row boat ride together though.
There are many view points in an around Yercaud. On the first day Baba refused to budge from the lake side in the morning so we took an auto to Shevaroy temple, the highest point in Yercaud. There is an intriguing cave temple there and one can see the whole of Yercaud town from the plateau top. The brat took a camel ride with her father. There are some giant wheels and small mary go rounds there and of course the camel which look quite out of place in this high land! The Tamil Nadu government has handled the tourism prospects of Yercaud pretty badly. There are trafic jams on Sunday and we did not spot a single policeman. When I asked at the hotel reception why this was so, the person there first made an excuse that there aren't enough police men and then added " they are busy looking after the VIPs"!!! There is a camel ride near the lake too and cycles for hire but no place to cycle in!On our way back from the Shevaroy point we also visited the Rajarajeshwari temple. Not noticing the 'no camera' sign I clicked pictures of the shiv idol near the entrance and the five faced Ganesha, but no one came rushing at me in rage, like in other temples.
In the evening Baba decided to join us in exploring two other points- the lady's seat and the gent's seat. The former is the more famous of the two and therefore more crowded. We had a view of the famous hair pin curves by which we had ascended the mountains. Baba made us pose for an 'instant photo' of the family which has come out pretty well! The gent's seat is higher than the lady's seat and has a closer view of the hair pin curve mountain side. We witnessed a beautiful sun set there. Then we went for some essential oil shopping at the Bhavani Singh factory store which has oils to relieve joint pains, sinus problems, etc. Then we went for a wholesome dosa dinner at a hotel nearby.
Breakfast was complimentary at Hotel Tamil Nadu and had idli, vada, poha, upma and dosa. We forgave the canteen guys for not bringing the tea on time... Full with the breakfast we hired a taxi to give the town a second look, this time with baba in tow. So first was the trip to Shevaroy point, Rajarajeswari temple, then Pagoda point- which had a completely different view then a quick round near Montford school and back to the lake in good time for the boating escapade. In the evening it was again the 4 of us for a round at the rose garden- children's seat which had yet another view of the hair pins- and the lady's seat. We missed the telescope views at the Lady's seat every time due to mist. On the first day there was bright sunshine but we were too late for the telescope and the next 2 days were misty...so...we had to rely on the naked eye! The children's seat is the cleanest and according to us, affored the best view of the hairpin curves. It has a ticket system and can be approached from the rose garden. After these points we headed back to the lake where we were met by Ma and Baba. After the mandatory coffee we retired for the day. Dinner was at Tamil Nadu Hotel and Baba declared that "Hotel Tamil Nadu IS THE BEST" (and bayonet in the backside of those who do not agree!!!), the Mr mumbled something about bad service and the rest which resulted in another loud assertion of the superiority of this hotel after which the Mr gave up! The food in this hotel was really good, and its proximity to the lake made it easy for Baba to walk there and observe the milling crowds.
We had watched the thrilling semi-final of the IPL the previous night which the Bangalore Royal Challengers had won, now we hoped to see them win the final...of course our hopes were crushed. We planned to attempt the trek to Killiyur falls on the last day at Yercaud. Bright and early the next morning the Mr and I set off for Killiyur falls- there was no water there (as the monsoons have not arrived)-but it would be nice morning walk site as it is unspoilt. This treking business is the Mr's idea, I would rather curl up with a book at children's seat, but I decided to venture out with him, secure in the knowledge that Ma would look after the sleeping kids. It was only a kilometer long trek, the path goes steeply down the mountain side to the base of the falls. We took an auto for the 2km ride upto the start of the path. " Rhumba down" said our auto man...off we trudged down the mountainside. There were sounds of chirping birds and the distant sound of water from a shallow stream that fell from high up in the slopes. An irate cock crowed at us for a bit, and then relented. I went down panting and puffing, but I was happy to reach the rocks at the bottom of the hill. I also managed to clamber up with the help of the Mr and am still living to tell the tale, that's an achievement for someone as unfit as me!! We wraped up the trek by 7:45 and were back at the hotel by 8. The brat bawled for sometime when she came to know that she had been unable to get up for the trek (she had slept pretty late), but calmed down when we promised another boat ride. After the huge complimentary breakfast we went off for the boat ride- no lines at the booking counter and pure bliss on a nearly deserted lake!
On this last morning we decided to visit the horticultural garden and orchidarium, which had been closed on Sunday. The orchid garden was a pleasure to explore even though it is not blooming season. An entire day can be spent here with ease. Then we took ma baba to the children's seat for the view. After some last minute shopping we headed off for Selam at 1pm. it was a roller coaster ride down hill and we reached rather fast. We had lunch in Selam and waited at the railway station waiting room. This time we found a very efficient porter who did a good job of bringing Baba to the waiting room and making him board the train.
While coming back the train was an hour and a half late and again at Bangalore we faced the wheelchair problem. The porter said that a train was standing at the platform from where the wheelchairs were brought and it would be difficult to get one before 11pm when that train is expected to leave. Baba became agitated and started shouting "wheelchair" at the top of his lungs, when he saw that the word did not conjure up the chair he agreed to walk some distance. After walking the length of the platform the porter finally dumped the luggage on a trolley, made baba sit on it and pulled it along to where our taxi was waiting. The inference from these strange occurances is this- the railway administration only expects the disabled to travel in the mornings, a little late at night, and the whole system works against them. Baba observed this morning that not only was he the only disabled person around but he was also the most elderly. So are we them making the conditions at our railway stations so hostile that the elderly and the disabled are unable to travel by the rail? Baba enjoyed the journeys and showed a lot of courage and faith in the Mr and me to agree to travel on the train with us in this condition. He has also started making plans for a holiday at Pondicherry next May! That revelation is going to give the Mr some sleepless nights! Anyhow, Baba's "bhaloi laglo Yercaud" (Yercaud was good) made us feel happy and increased our enjoyment of the place.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taking a break

Phew! After two 'political' posts I am quite drained! Going to Yercud for 3 days to cool off...see you around folks! Folks? ehhh is there anyone out there...?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prabhakaran: The Tamil Dilemma

Well, Prabhakaran is dead ( although some people still claim he lives) and Sri Lanka may be congratulated for rooting out terrorism from their land. Wouldn't India want to do the same in Kashmir and the US with Osama?? The world community was quick to condemn Sri Lanka in its failure to arrest civilian casualties, would the world community issue the same injunctions for the LTTE or do the terrorists not belong to the world? India is in a bind about how to react in this situation. Once again, the futility of terror as a means to settle political problems has been proved. In a violent form of protest you are invariably violating someone else's human right to life, thus jeopardizing your own cause. Problem of political representation, autonomy and rights have to be worked out through dialogue. The Tamils all over the world who are mourning prabhakaran must realise that after all he was a millitary strategist and he died the death of a soldier....fighting with his men. He would not have been able to speak the language of harmony for he represented the disruption of terror. The point is that he Tamil settlers just cannot demand a separate country of Sri Lanka while oweing complete allegience to Tamil Nadu in India, Vaiko and gang should reasilse that it is not their struggle. The most the tamils can ask for is non-discrimination and equal rights as citizens of Sri Lanka they cannot blast bombs all over the place kill Sri lankan and Indian ministers and generally create havoc and then hope to get humanitarian treatment and a separate state within Sri Lanka. if they are so keen on a separate land for themselves why not take a boat back to Tamil Nadu to the likes of Vaiko and party who bleed for them!? How can India, which is fighting a so called 'freedom fighter terrorists' at its northern border support a similar ideology amongsts its own people in another country.
Clearly, Prabhakaran has spoilt the Tamil case in Sri Lanka, the govt of that country will be cautious in giving powers to its Tamil residents and now that they have a military victory there are even less chances of Sri Lankan govt to pay heed to the tamil cause.
I feel sorry for all the innocents who lost their lives and the thousands who are still suffereing from injuries and psychological scars of battle. May there be peace and justice.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Jai Ho!" , "Singh is King" and all that sort of thing.

It was heartening that the people of India gave a desisive verdict this time round. I was preparing myself for life under a BJP government of Mr Advani who would start construction of the Rama Temple at ayodhya, re-introduce POTA and enable Mr Modi to act like the heir apparent.in the worst case scenario we would have Mayawati as the PM leading a motley crew of Mulayams and Lalus and Paswans each trying to out do the other is making an as of himself/herself. Prakash Karat tried too late to prop up a non-Cong, non-BJP front. the man had started goofing up from the time that the Cpm started giving ultimatums to the Manmohan singh Govt regarding the nuclear deal. The left still uses the rhetoric of an imperialist conspiracy which was in vogue in the 19th century- even russia and China have given up such fears and have shown more faith in their sovereignty than our CPM. Only the other day the routine meeting of the Obama envoy with political leaders was said to be a part of the 'conspiracy' of imperialism to hijack our democracy and under mine our sovereignty....and when you see earnest fellows like Sitaram Yechury mouthing such bull shit then you start thinking whether the CPM will ever bury Marx's ghost and move on...Thereafter, like a spoilt child, reacting after its constant alarmist pleas to drop the deal with the US, it withdrew its support from the govt and vindictively expelled Somnath Chatterji who refused to step down showing more loyalty to the country's parliament than to this Party. Then again Karat's last ditch effort to lead a third front...did not stop him from contacting Ms 'silver throne' Jayalalitha who could not decide whether she was for or against the LTTE. The failure of the left to topple the UPA govt should have sown the seeds of doubt in their minds regarding their performance in these elections coupled with that the failure of the WB govt to deal with the Nandigram and Nano factory problem sealed their fate. Frankly, I feel for the left...I think the socialist ideology has an element of fairness in it. in essence it is humanist and looks to the welfare of the greatest number. However, rigidity in any ideology marks its inevitable down fall.
I can understand Rahul's appeal, he appears to be sincere in spite of his political naivete, far removed from the thrashing, bashing, power hungry melee.However I do detest the sycophants in the Cong party..." Of course Rahulbaba should be PM right now", " Rahul Baba will surely become PM one day", "rahul baba will decide when he will be PM", " The win was solely due to Rahul baba's strategy of ditching Mulayam in UP", "Rahul baba inspired the youth to vote for the Cong" only the "baba" was missing clearly the loyalists had started licking feet! However they forgot another not so young man ( Well Rahul will also be 40 next year...is that young?) Mr singh who showed tremendous amount of quiet fortitude, under attack from the Advani brigade he addressed all problems with a silent calm and resolve. I think this vote was also in favour of Manmohan Singh, if the cong had not stood firm in projecting him as PM, they would not have made a clean sweep. seriously, would you have voted for Cong if Rahul was projected as next PM?
Ah well, all's well that ends well. However my one regret is that out of all states Karnataka had to be swept by the BJP. Yeddy must have done something right! But here's a warning for Yedds...beware Sir, if you give free reign to the Rama Senes and the church desicraters then you too might be shown the door.don't ever forget that one cannot survive on culture which in any case is an ever changing notion the people still want what this country has still, after 60 years been unable to provide for them, roti, kapda aur makaan!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bangalore Rap.

The other day the mite and I were caught in a thunder squal outside Total Mall with no umbrellas...I called to an autorickshaw but it seemed to have not heard and moved on, I desparately climbed on to the divider to cross the road- it would be easier to get an auto from the other side. Suddenly a young chap calls me ...."madam, the auto has stopped..." I turned back to see this boy pointing at the auto which was standing some distance away. The boy had no umbrella either, he had stopped the auto and come running some distance to inform me, it had started drizzling by then with loud claps of thunder..."oh..." I said bemusedly and then rushed to the auto and jumped in, and spend off without giving the poor boy a second look. I felt like a scum of the earth a moment later. Here was this boy who had worked so hard for me and I did not even say a proper thank you. I could have offered him a lift, after all, he did not have an umbrella either...but I was only thinking about ourselves! The people of Bangalore are very kind and I have to get myself used to their ways so that I may be able to repay them for their little acts of kindness.
Here the shopkeepers and the domestic help are in the the habit of calling us ladies 'Amma' or the shorter 'ma'. When they address you so, you cannot even argue with them, it sounds so beautiful..." No, ma, I cannot reduce the price on this" ... my mental response- "ok, son"...and that's the end of the matter! "Take this fish, ma, you will like this" - "very well son"...and so on. In Calcutta they shop keepers call you 'didi' till you look about 80 when they will switch to 'ma', or 'mashima', in Delhi they call you "madam" and if you are over the hill in their eyes then "auntieji" and later "mataji". They had started to call me auntie...it made my skin crawl, I would have cut some throats if I graduated to mummyji or mataji there...but here, the lilting 'maa' just melts my heart, it makes me completely defenseless. One of the reasons might be that it is used indiscriminately for women of 1-100+. The swimming coach used to call the brat girl in the pool saying- " Jump in ma..", the brat ofcourse has no feelings for this adress and promptly refused!
In spite of the arrival of the rain clouds it continues to be hot by Bangalore standards...I, however am enjoying myself as my parents are here, I have had them bring some old photos of our 'happy family' days and I am determined to scan them for posterity! Will post them here too...cheerio for now and a very happy mother's day to all the momma bloggers!!!