#Quotables 5 on Travel as a Way of Life

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.


Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

Source: Goodreads

Matis and Kaleens- Carpets everywhere n Walk upto the Grand Bazaar

Day 2: 11th April 2011

After the Blue Mosque, we were taken to a carpet showroom. The exteriors of the Blue Mosque which open to the Hagia Sophia are decorated with beautiful gardens and benches for people to sit and watch. There were also lots of crows there, (=Like the country, the birds…India is characterised by Malnutrition and so the crows here are thin and have large eyes…watch a crow tom..Turkish crows are like stuffed toys-Photo 2)

So we all sat into our vehicle (=Its a huge bus actually) and drove down to a Carpet showroom called ‘Matis’. There we had a demonstration about different types of carpets and actually saw how the weaving was done. Some of the carpets were really beautiful.

Gyani Kisse shuru: (=Hindi for Factual Yak Yak Begins)

Indian/Chinese Carpets= Single Knot Carpets

Turkish Carpets = Double Knotted Carpets (=Or so they claim…how are we to determine)

Carpets have a base layer of strings and have other strings (=Usually coloured) woven in them.

1. Wool base with wool strings

2.Wool base with cotton strings

3. Cotton base with cotton strings

4.Cotton base with wool strings

5.Silk base with silk strings

The worth of a carpet is determined by the number of knots in a square inch. It can go upto even 225 knots which is as elaborate as it gets and will take a worker about 1.5 to 2 years. So your carpet is less about the material and more about the labour.

Imp Note: A lot of small carpet dealers are unscrupulous and will sell u carpets MADE IN CHINA. They are NOT AUTHENTIC Turkish ‘Kilims’ or Carpets. They will sweet talk you (=Turks are good at that not to mention they are good looking)

The colour used in Turkish carpets especially woollen and cotton ones are natural dyes and the silk is synthetic(=Iska Raaz aage ke notes me khulega :P)

So depending upon the vegetation of the area the colour of the carpets used to differ. Like in Southern Anatolia, tobacco is grown so the people used to make greenish yellow carpets using tobacco leaves. Also some other tribes used roots to make carpets vivid reds and greens. The intricacy depends upon the skill of the weaver and also on the material used.

Woollen carpets are not so intricate as the threads are thick and weaving knots is easy. Cotton can be intricately woven but not as much as silk. Some silk carpets are really exquisite you’d dread to even walk on them for fear of spoiling them.

Now the prices they quoted were astronomical so we simply ignored them as we sipped on some Apple Cai.

Later we saw the showroom for jewellery, diamonds, gold and other semi precious stones, corals and other stones like Amethysts, Turquoise, Onyx etc. Really expensive stuff not for a clumsy one like me…so I kept away..

Discovery: Indian weddings are oftenr famous for the traditional, heavy worked dress of the bride. But that is not the case in Turkey.

In Turkey, the bride can wear a Christian type white dress for the wedding ceremony itself. Turkey has made Islam and its followers so very liberal and open minded that there are no restrictions on them. I was thoroughly impressed.

After the outing at Matis, we got a photo with Aziz the guide (=Long time back 3 notes ago i’d said his name was Aziz gosh i write too much these days!!)

We went into a small basement like shopping place (=basement like coz, there were steps that went down n the shopping mart was there!! hence basement) By the way our first such shop in Istanbul, and picked up some munchies (=chocolate, biscuits, knick-knacks)

Then with directions from people, we walked to the ‘Grand Bazaar’, the biggest Bazaar for anything and everything you need (=Not at the best prices and certainly not all authentic)

We read a sign that a small store was selling stamps so we inquired but we found out they were stamps for regular post and were not attractive (=Philately is a dying art and hobby indeed)

Also the walk upto the Grand Bazaar is lined up with big shops like how a shopping boulevard of a small scale in London would look like. The cobbled roads make a beautiful pattern with benches and  plants. Also cigarette butts.

If i forgot to mention, 90% of Turkey smokes, man or woman.  So cigarette smoke everywhere and the butts littering the street. But mind you that is the only thing littering their streets!! No plastic or paper or other garbage.

On the way to Grand Bazaar we were again told about a restaurant in some corner and saw a lot of people smoking.

The path leading to the Grand Bazaar is a cobbled one and is done up beautifully (Photo 8).

Grand Bazaar is supposed to be a huge complex with more than 4000 shops. There is a main lane from the entrance and there are also many by-lanes with more shops. Its like a huge maze. It even has its own map. It is well known for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather, gold jewellery and the like.

So the next few hours were spent in looking at the shops and a hunt for some good leather jackets (=Pretty!!) that we could even reasonably be expected to open in Mumbai. Also we looked around for magnets, t-shirts and other stuff that we could really buy. (=I mean the leather jackets, a little weird but t-shirts is cool..)

There is also a section selling Turkish Antiques for those who have the taste and those who can dip into their pockets. There were bronze statues, old clocks and watches, meerschaum pipes (=A type of stone which is found mostly in Turkey, is a fascinating subject)

Lunch was an affair we had to work on because there were restaurants in the lanes basically offering the same stuff at shocking prices so we kept the hunt.

We passed through a lot of shops selling Apple Tea (=As a powder not the drink) and Turkish Lamps. The Lamps are beautifully done and would have looked beautiful in any house but for the fact that we live in a virtual dust bowl..There wouldn’t be a day we’d not spent cleaning it.

We got ourselves some ‘Istanbul’ T-shirts and then found the perfect place for lunch (Photo 9). After a sumptuous meal (=Rice n Lamb+aubergine curry, a Döner, some rice with chicken kebaps and some pasta!) we made our way home. There were also shops that were selling gold and jewellery which is sold by weight and the current price of the euro and gold. Also there were good chunky necklaces that one can  see at Colaba Causeway 😛

It was a rainy Istanbul that greeted us when we came out of the Grand Bazaar and walked our way to the hotel. We met an Indian (=A businessman from Jaipur who frequents for business) so that was nice. And we were back to our room after finishing a massive half day tour!!!

Coming Up Next: Exploring Istanbul-Galata Bridge, Galata Tower, A Fishy Affair!!

Stay Tuned

Outside the Blue Mosque

Cutey crows

Just a random pic

The first place i saw the Indian Flag

Carpet weaving

Shops leading to the Grand Bazaar

Entrance to the Grand Bazaar

Cobbled Roads


Exploring Mysore-BLog World Meets Real World.

18th April 2010: Mysore, Karnataka, India
My father is an active blogger and one of his friends from bloggerspace is Mr Swaroop Kagli. We made plans to meet him and take him out to lunch. After exploring the Lalita Mahal, we met him somewhere near his place and he took us to a restaurant called Olive Garden. There was a private party going on there so we had to go from another way. I wished we could sit in the private party after all we were dressed for it(=coz everyone in the party was wearing a sari n i and mum had worn some nice indian dresses). We got a nice seat and ordered some tasty starters and some yummy food. For dessert we had fried ice cream. I was not feeling well, a little drained out but the ice cream made me feel good. We ordered another one.

After lunch, we clicked photos. There were monkeys hopping here and there and creeping to see if they could get any food. There was one naughty monkey who was drinking water from the water pump on top of the kitchen. Inquiries yielded that the tank was used to supply water to the toilets and for washing utensils which was alright. Atleast it did not make it to the food.

After that we dropped Swaroop outside his building which looked swank, and then we made our way to the hotel. From Swaroop we learnt a lot about Mysore and about what he does. Swaroop has a photo blog you see so we were very interested.
Also a fact is that we take whichever place we live in for granted, because whenever anyone comes and asks us what we have to see, we usually can’t think of anything. But for visitors its a whole new experience. Through visitors eyes you see your locality or city in an entirely different view.We also visited Swaroop’s House which was a very cosy home in this fastly expanding city. There we met his mother and sister and one of his relatives who had come over. His mother had made excellent juice for us. It was nice meeting them and we enjoyed there. Sachi learnt that monkeys used to visit Swaroop’s veranda and made a request to keep one for her. She loves monkeys and wanted to keep one as a pet.
It was really nice to see that a friendship which sprung up in bloggerspace translated into a meeting and a friendship that is bound to last for years to come. Through blogs a lot of people get to know each other and its a great way to project your ideas and have discussions. Now that i have my own blog i can really relate. I’d want to travel to some place and meet up a friend from the Blog world too 😀 😀

Coming Up Next: They Mysore Palace,Goodbye Mysore

Fried Ice Cream.My dad and Swaroop.

Coorgi Tales- Madikeri and beyond!

15th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India

Continuation to the Dubare note. After Dubare, we were plenty exhausted and not to mention dirty!! After reaching the resort, we freshened up and had lunch. We decided to spend the remainder of the day in the town of Madikeri. We had lunch at ‘Arabica’ and then went to the room (i must mention that one of the days we had a mint and melon mousse for dessert and it was amazing. One day it was strawberry and white chocolate mousse which was lip-smacking!! No wonder they say Club Mahindra pampers you)
We spent the afternoon resting and then drove down to Madikeri. By now, i knew the route to the market and back so it was no problem. Once you take a turn to go to Club Mahindra, there is a school, 2 parks and a temple. we decided to explore the park and the temple. .
One of the parks had a mini train. it was amazingly cute!! It reminded me of the time we used to go to a park in Santacruz where there used to be a similar train and we used to ride it till the park closed. So it was a trip down the memory lane for me!!

The ride itself was only for 3-4 minutes but it was fun. We grabbed seats in the extreme front just after the engine. And a guy first came and checked our tickets (you have to buy tickets for the ride, different tickets for kids and adults!!)
There were even boards for stations and a small tunnel. And this ride attracted a lot of the crowd. I guess in a small town you would find this very much fun, people in smaller towns have more fun than city dwellers anyway!!
After that we made our way to the other park which was more like a ‘Joggers Park’. It was so well maintained with broad lanes, lot of dustbins in the shape of cute animals and pretty flowers. There were many people walking and many playing.

Coorg is called ‘Scotland of the East’ and it was not difficult to see why. The view from the park bench was stunning!! Even though it was summer, there was a slight fog in the distance and there was a nice breeze which made it quite pleasant.
After a walk and a lot of photos, we decided to leave and snack on something. We had some ‘Joy’ Ice cream(=chocobar!!) and then to our surprise, the lights came on at the centre of the park and the people were standing around the circle which we later discovered turned out to be a musical fountain. And we slowly made our way towards the gate coz we knew we’d just come out and we couldn’t go in again but the lady sitting at the entrance told us to go right ahead. We went in and were totally awestruck.
They played some song with lyrics we couldn’t understand (=either kannada/tamil/malu) and the fountains danced to the tunes. It was so well done. The colours also changed. I was totally engrossed. We took videos and many pictures. I hear there is a musical fountain at the Vrindavan Gardens at Mysore but this was amazing. And there were very few ppl so that made it better.
The fountains were amazing. They jumped, they danced, we gasped!!! They played 4 songs and for that time, held the audience totally spellbound. They ended with ‘Saare jahan se Accha’ and the people slowly started making their way out.

Thats when i realised how pretty the flowers at the edges of the park looked. They were nice and purple. So got in some pictures of those as well. Then we went to the temple nearby and guess, we were just in time for the evening ‘Aarti’. The co-incidence was amazing!! After the Aarti, we made our way back to the hotel

Oh i forgot to mention that while coming back from Dubare, we stopped at a place and purchased lots of spice. Coorg is known for its spices. We also got some Vanilla to be had with milk. It smells so sweet and delicious. One really wonders why people go in for artificial substitutes when the real one is so much fragrant and better!!For dinner this time, we decided to try the a-la-carte restaurant at Club Mahindra called ‘Coffee Blossoms’ We had some thai curry(red and yellow), steamed rice, kheema paratha and some starter. The red thai curry was so delicious, we really enjoyed and literally licked our plates off. We did have some light dessert and made our way to the room.

This restaurant had another way which led to the swimming pool near our room so but we decided to take the longer route to enjoy the smell of the coffee blossoms. It was a super night and i really kept going back to the stunning Musical Fountains that we found in the small town of Madikeri.

cOMING uP next: Adventure Valley Part2, The town again,Coorg cuisine,Goodbye Coorg
Some of the pretty flowers

Vitthal and the Journey to Coorg-The traveller continues the journey

12th April 2010, Karnatak Hinterland, India
I continue with the journey
Most hotels in South India and also our hotel at Kolhapur give the guests a complimentary breakfast if they stay in the hotel. As we soon discovered that, we helped ourselves to the same yet tasty breakfast of dosas,idli vada and kesaribhat. We checked out after that and made our way to our next destination,
“CLUB MAHINDRA, Kodagu Valley,Coorg”
The road from Mangalore was not a smooth one because the Govt was in the process of expansion so it was a bumpy ride. But we saw a lot of bungalows on the way. Most of the bungalows are painted in bright almost horrifying colours like bright green and baby pink but these ones were painted in stately combinations like white and navy blue, white and gray etc.
We decided to go and see the temple at Vitthal so we took a detour from NH-48 and made our way to Vitthal. The landscape was changing, more like a tropical forest types, wet with very fresh air blowing at our faces. The Vitthal Math was being renovated and the bit of the new Math we saw looked very nice. At almost all the Maths in South India, they give you sandal paste which smells totally out of the world. There was also a temple dedicated to the Naags. As you would know, Naags depict our elders who we pray to so that we have their blessings for the present and future generations.
We met one of our acquaintances and we went to their house where we saw an enormous beehive. i’ve never seen a beehive so closely before and it was mesmerising…so many bees!!!

After Vitthal we made our way to Madikeri,Coorg. Coorg is actually the name of the district. Its very famous for spices so we’ve heard. While leaving Vitthal, we were stuck in a traffic jam and we could only make our way out of it because Vitthal unlike Mumbai, does not have any open drains!!!
Our first halt was at a place called Shuliya and we kept asking for that whenever we met people. The people in South India are generally quite knowledgeable they know routes to explore entire karnatak at the back of their minds!! quite an amazing feat!!

A special encounter:
At Shuliya, we encountered Karnatak’s biggest specialit, “Gobhi Manchurian” which could be found in every Nukkad and gully of Karnatak. The journey to Shuliya was uneventful, except that the road was winding and made veryscenic landscape because it was so lush and green!!
By the time we reached Shuliya, we could feel the heat beat down on us ..it was noon. So we stopped at Hotel Surabhi. Let me tell you, this place looks small but the food is totally awesome and very tasty. Here we tasted the famous ‘Gadbag’ and ‘Gobhi Manchurian’ both extremely delicious.

After lunch, we made our way to Club Mahindra. There were more and more plantations and lots of nurseries selling rubber spalings. A lot of areca nut trees and pepper creepers on them. It was pleasant to watch. Also i notcied right from Shuliya onwards, lot of stalls selling ‘Neera’, a drink from which toddy is derived, and that almost all street lights had solar panels on them, which was very nice to see that atleast our rural counterparts were making an effort to be environment friendly.

As we approached Coorg, the scenery was breathtaking. Lush green forests and the constant chirping of birds and c\insects. It was out of this world.!!
Also we passed a lot of estates with the home stay options available. Small cottages looked very inviting. we even stopped the car for some time to take in the environment. We passed a road which led to the ‘Indian Institute of Spices’ and then made our way to club mahindra. Here also in this small town of Madikeri,all street lights had solar panels and trust me at night, they glowed brighter than the other thermal electricity powered lights.

We made our way slowly, not before we passed a JM Financial (work follows my dad here as well!!!) and then drove into the resort. All Club Mahindra properties are huge and excellently done up. After resting in our room, we made our way to the Conference Room where they had a presentation for us to explain the facilities at the resort and also to explain the tourist sites around. It was followed up with some Coorgi coffee!!

We had a quiet dinner at the Buffet restaurant which was called Arabica (=name of a coffee) and retired for the night

Coming up next-Coorgi Tales

A beehiveMe!! at the hotel at Shuliya

Chronicles of Manki-The last leg

Whew, finally we arrive at the last part of our stay at the beautiful village of Manki

Saturday, 9th April, Karnataka Hinterland, India
Today, we were invited to lunch at Hemant bhatmam’s place. It’s slightly on the hill in the temple complex of the Chikarmane family deity. It’s not usual for a bhatmam to invite tourists over at his place and the gesture was touching.
We had ‘khotte’ for breakfast (immensely tasty i feel bad for those who havent had it as yet) and tasted jackfruit from the home garden.
We made our way to the bhatmam’s place and we were warmly welcomed by his younger daughter, Purvi
The menu was filled with jackfruit items, a new thing for us as we had never known that one could make so many different dishes using the same vegetable. There was pickle, cashewnut bajji(=puree types),some ambat(=dal+spices),white curry(=dhave randayi),some phodis(=bhajis)!! Wow long list. But it was so simple and yet so delicious. The simplest dishes are the tastiest. And served on the banana leaf so the added taste!!
There was a small calf in another room and we had a great time playing with it.

Ponderings Cows eat the banana leaf you eat in so no waste problems.

Wow!! We were going to have a dish called ‘phanas-ache patoli’  the next day (=a sweet dish usually made with coconut and jaggery, this time we used jackfruit). This dish is made in the leaves of the Saag tree or better known as the Teak Tree. So we plucked some leaves off the Teak tree in the bhatmam’s garden. Those leaves are huge!! really huge.

A surprise
The bhatmam who stayed in the village, the one who took care of the janardhan temple in Manki village had expired a while back and his son now took care of the temple and said the evening prayers. Hemant bhatmam was training the young priest in making. So today was his birthday!!
We decided to hold a surprise party for him and so we ordered for a cake and got some ice cream. We also invited some kids who were there at hemant bhatmam’s place.

The party was fun!! The candles that we had were re-lightable and so the surprise was even better!! I can’t forget the expression on Sriram’s face when he had to cut the cake.
After that we all had a nice dance session with Hemant bhatmam joining us!! We concluded the party by saying the ‘deep namaskaram’ which is a prayer for the gods to keep our lives enlightened.
We also went to the janardhan temple and prayed with gratitude for the wonderful time we had at Manki and for the stunning sights that we saw.

Dinner at Murudeshwar
Murudeshwar is the most well-known tourist spot in Uttar Kanara, with the famous huge idol of Lord Shiva. Our previous stay here was fun, we actually have photos with me and sachi picking up fish straight from the boat!!
Apart from that there are also lot of water sport activities in Murudeshwar.
We went there for dinner. I learnt that if random people wave at you like complete idiots then they want to draw your attention to the hotel nearby and you should simply ignore them!!
The food was amazing!! The fish and other dishes were delicious. The baked vegetable that we had was simply awesome. To top it off, we had some amazing ice cream and an amazing drive through the night!!

The next morning, we had an amazing time relishing the patolis which had become nice and pink, yes pink and were incredibly tasty!!!!
Hemant Bhatmam had come along to say good-bye to us and we had made some cards for sanjay mam and suma pachi which we gave them. There were a lot of photos and goodbyes and we departed for our next destination
So this way our chapter at Manki came to a beautiful close!!

Stay tuned for the next episode- Welcome Udupi, Hello Manipal,Mangalore Tales

a calf at the bhatmam’s i.e priest’s place.the surprise party!!!The Janardhan Temple