To Die or DieT


It is often said that the situations you encounter in life are those which you can handle. Life always throws you a curve ball which you’re able to handle, or maybe learn from.

I faced one of these personal life changing moments last week, precisely last saturday when I had to get a blood test done. I’ve always been scared of getting “pricked” as I call it. I’ve been told countless times that a blood test is not a BIG DEAL. Just get it over with. But for someonr who is mortified, having been there and overcoming it somehow gave me a little bit of confidence that maybe I could handle the next curveball.

One thing which is definitive of our society and all of us is the deep urge to be thin and look pretty. Somewhere down the line we let our waist size come in our way of defining beauty . And this, was precisely the curve ball coming my way.

Staying fit is not an alternative anymore. It is necessary, crucial and even life saving. How do you approach it but? You can either

– starve

– join a Gym

– Go to a Dietician

– Train for a Marathon

The last one is a sure shot way of changing your perspective of your body. I’ve realised seeing it very closely amongst people I know and love. The transformation that takes place when you elevate your body on a pedestal and put it to the ultimate test. And I want a taste of it too. I want to run my marathons too.

The dilemma that faces me is the dietician. To do or not to do. To die or DieT in my words. What is a diet and why would you willingly torture yourself into starvation? No I hear. Dieticians give you healthier options. They make sure you are never hungry. You have to stick to a plan and follow it through. Maybe a few random misses allowed.

But is this what I really truly want to get to the goal of a leaner body? And maybe a lot fitter too? The role of exercise is indisputable and yet the focus is so much on food. I believe if people exercised or rather trained for a marathon, everyone would be so fit because of the enormity of the goal, you just don’t become lax.

I’m sceptical. What can the dietician do which my mother’s cooking of healthy food which I happen to love, can’t? I have cravings for food. I also keep thinking I’d eat, in moderation because if I died I wouldn’t want to have dieted and died by starving off what I felt like eating when I felt like eating.

So then here I am faced with a choice. Not a choice so much as an experiment. Does it come down to the point where I die or dieT? Will eating a million times a day help oor will drinking all sorts of fancy concoctions do the wonders? Will it show results And how soon? Will I spend this entire year clasped in a plan and not move beyond?

What is it finally then?

Am I really charting my way to a certain glutton filled death or am I being salvaged by my dieT?

Under the Bridge – Galata Dinner


Day 2: 11th April Post 7pm

 

We had decided to explore the Galata Tower which gave us a panoramic view of Istanbul. (=Like I said, Istanbul on a High 😉) After the crowded panoramic view, we had a chance to explore the city during its best..Night!!! The sunset in Istanbul is colourful and inspiring. It is a symbol of a setting sun bidding goodbye to all the symbols of Turkey and to usher in the shadows that light up corners of the city (=Getting rather poetic aren’t I?)

Musings:

Istanbul has a way of charming even the deepest cynic. It is a city that mixes Tradition with Modernism and while the life is pretty fast paced, it is gentle enough to offer you a pillow of support and welcoming arms. Watching the sun fade into the distant horizon, you could almost imperceptibly note that life had paused, that you could catch your breath and that some good rest was on your way. You will never be friendless in Istanbul. The people here, perhaps nurtured by the subtle interactions with life and its pace, will always lend you a patient ear..It is this charm that makes Istanbul and Turkey a destination that MUST be visited.

By the time we descended from the Tower (=And had a pee break) the winds had started to blow and it was getting cold. We did have a break to fortify ourselves with some chocolate and strawberry milk. We decided not to go on the same way we came and took an alternate route. Along the alternate route, we clicked pictures with some awesome artistic display albeit in form of graffiti..(Photo 4)

 

Then along we walked the same way we came but on the other side of the Galata Bridge. The Fishers had packed their stuff and had left. We took a turn that would bring us to Level -1 of the Galata Bridge where the restaurants were located. There were many restaurants each essentially serving the same, sea bass and other fish of the Black Sea. Of course they had other options which were chicken and lamb and more so beef. (=P.S If you’re a vegetarian please stay off this lane…the smell itself will choke you!!)

 

There was a restaurant that was playing peppy rock music.. (=Turkish Music is Happening…Turkish Artists have very good songs) but i don’t know we didn’t stop there, we walked ahead up to a place called ‘GalataKupa Diner’ and had the owner come out and give us a sales talk on his restaurant and we decided to go there.

Psst: You should hear the things they say to make you come to the restaurant and they goodies that are up for grabs…”Sir, come here,, look at my Menu..this is the Speciality…Where u from ..oh India!! Great…Come into my restaurant,,I give you Apple Cai, I give you this salad free..Oh you try that, I’ll give you that free with some Cut Fruits on the House…Yes..yes come in here” (:P)

Back to the dinner…We sat close to the window, had the heater toast us, listened to some Turkish tracks, drank Apple Tea and just about lazed…:P

Our Menu was

1.Chicken Curry (=Like a Kashmiri curry with yoghurt)

2.A green salad  (=On the House 😀 )

3.A Prawn, Macaroni and Cheese casserole

4. A Fish Platter (=Different types of fish fried or baked or roasted…unless you love the intricate flavours of bland fish..you stay away,,veggies n vegans DO NOT approach this place at all)

5.All the bread we could eat

6.Apple and Cherry Tea

7.Cut Fruits on the House

8.Some Turkish Locums (=Gel delights ;))

All in all we had a nice time. The waiter who took our order was joshing that i was the”Boss” because i was the one keeping tabs on the money.

Post dinner, we walked slowly across the bridge. This was the first time we were out late in any foreign city without a car. Istanbul is a place where people rightfully retire to their homes when it is dark and because of the subtle and impressive lighting to the monuments, the streets look eerie and dark. Of course you have cars and the tram passing by but essentially at 9 which was when we returned, it’s quite an empty place. (=Not what us Mumbaikars are used to….we see people around at any time..)

When we came to face the Bosphorus, we could see the Bosphorus Bridge (=One of the longest suspension bridges in the world) It was lit up along the suspensions and the light kept changing in colour. Also there were people setting up a ‘Night Market’ of sorts. There were coats, books, toys and some other things.

But i have got to say you won’t belive how sunsaan this place can get late nights. So we got on quickly towards our hotel. We stopped at a local convenience store and bought water, ayran and munchies for the next day, passed through the Ozler lane, met George Clooney and then finally back to 202 and 203.

That finally concludes Day 2 (=Phew!!!)

Coming Up: Ottoman Traditions, Miniaturk…Beckenscot is ancient now,Istiklal Caddesi

Stay Tuned

 

 

An Istanbul Sunset

 

One of the by-lanes

 

The Tower at Night

 

4 Floating Idiots

 

Dinner!!

Yerebatin Sarnici or Yerebatin Saray1


Yerebatin Sarnici or Yerebatin Saray1

After exploring ‘Hagia Sophia’ or ‘Aya Sophia’ or ‘St Sophia’ (=Too many names) we came out to the Sultanahmet Square where the two most beautiful monuments of Istanbul, The Blue Mosque (=Sultanahment Camii) and the Aya Sophia face each other.

As we left the Aya Sophia, we looked in awe at the huge mosque ahead of us. Now since my sister and my dad had done some reading, they knew it was the Blue Mosque but I didn’t, so I was amazed while I clicked pictures of the cobbled paths and the many roadside sellers.

 

The small and cute stands there sell 3 things

  1. Corn (=Yuck!! No Way, Indian ones are much better)
  2. Simit (=type of bread with sesame/til on it with or without a cheese filling)
  3. Kestane or Chestnuts roasted
  4. Cinnamon cakes (=Spicy and not so sweet)

 

So we helped ourselves to some Simit with cheese and soaked in the atmosphere.

This time is the best to visit Turkey, just off the winter which is quite harsh in the interiors and just before the heat wave hits across Turkey. The weather is extremely pleasant and enjoyable with temperatures between 8-16 degree C during the day and from5-10 degree C at night.

 

There was a trio that was performing in the Sultanahmet Square as a part of the  Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi (=I’m sorry I don’t know the exact translation Büyük means big and şehir is city)

At that point it really struck me that Istanbul integrates art into its very fibre. There is an appreciation for all forms of art here be it with history, relics and frescos or be it with music, paint and any other form of expression.

I guess we really don’t see much of that in India with not much inclination to appreciation of art barring those who actually practice.

We also saw the tram lines in Istanbul for the first time.

Following which we went to the Cistern.

Let me brief you a little about how the Cisterns and Aqueducts came into being.

An Ottoman Building using an Aqueduct

The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts to serve any large city in their empire, as well as many small towns and industrial sites. The city of Rome had the largest concentration of aqueducts, with water being supplied by eleven aqueducts constructed over a period of about 500 years. They served drinking water and supplied the numerous baths and fountains in the city, as well as finally being emptied into the sewers, where the once-used gray water performed their last function in removing waste matter. (=Long live Wikipedia)

Now the aqueducts were not limited only to Rome. With the spread of the Roman Empire, the aqueducts and Cisterns spread to different states such as Bulgaria,  Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Macedonia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Spain. Which sows the effect the Roman Empire has had over the world.

Also they made Cisterns which were made to catch rainwater and to store it. Cisterns are distinguished from wells because of the waterproof lining that Cisterns have. There aren’t many Cisterns found today.

This Cistern is very famous for the two heads of Medusa that adorn 2 of the pillars

Fact: The Cistern was built in the 6th Century by the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It is 9 m high with 12 rows of 28 columns

Fable Speak: There are many stories about Medusa. The most common one says that she had a face so ugly that people who saw her would be repulsed and would turn to stone.

This is why her head appears at 2 columns to ward off evil

The second fable talks about why her hair was turned to stone. It says she was the fairest maiden of the times and once she lay with Poseidon, the king of the seas, Goddess Athena was enraged and so cursed her transforming her beautiful hair to snakes. (=Poor her, jealous goddess)

But there is no accurate record about what really happened to Medusa although she remains an evergreen part of history

Anyway back to the Cistern. The Cistern has been constructed in such a manner that even though it is below the ground, there is fresh air through ventilation shafts constantly.

This too like other museums has an entrance fee (=10 TL or € 6) Most of the people come to see the Medusa’s heads positioned in the 2 pillars.

In one pillar the head of Medusa is facing sideways and in 1 pillar it is upside down. There are many stories as to why these were positioned there and only there and in these positions not looking straight forward. But because there are no accurate records, until a time machine is invented, we can only speculate.

The water even though old was clean. There were places where people had thrown in coins. There is a Roman legend that if you throw a coin i the Trevi’s Fountain,Rome, Italy that you will come back again!! (I should throw many coins there then!!)

Even though this was constructed in the 6th century, it has been preserved very well today with adequate signs for tourists with information. There are also plastic sheets put over the arches that need to be repaired.

Musings: (=How much i think!! My brain should be banned)

I often wonder why we as a country with significant scientific advancement can never manage to set funds aside or use it for the repair, maintenance and restoration of our national wealth. I guess with the decades of ingrained mindset that our sole purpose is to achieve a growth figure at all costs, we’ve let national wealth, arts and culture die a horrendous death, leaving the world deprived of all that India and its rich heritage has to offer.

So after we were finished with the Basilica Cistern, we saw some magnets and postcards (=Everyone sells magnets and postcard) and we went to have Doner Kebaps in the same place we’d seen before.

We had some Doner (=Turkish franky with no oil or sauce), Coffee (=Expresso Leggerimo with Arabica and other South American Varieties). This coffee had a few chocolates and coffee beans coated with chocolate as a side dish. Also we tasted apple chai (=Tea in Turkish is also called as Chai). It was the yummiest and they serve it in such small and cute cups with tiny tea spoons. There is sugar added and cubes also on the side.

After the long afternoon, we had a chilled out session in Room 203 accounting for the expenses (=My job 😛 :P). After which there was the dilemma of deciding the place where we could go out for dinner (=Remember there was lunch at Ozler this is still Day 1). We made a trip to the terrace, (=Our hotel to see if the restaurant was worth going to).

There was a balconey where you could go and sit in the cool evening air and smoke a Narghile (=Pronounced Nar-ghee-Le)

But the menu was very limited. You had to order certain sets like a full meal with an entree, a salad, a meat dish and some dessert. There was no two ways about it. But there prices were quoted in Euros (=Oh No!!) So we decided to skip it and go out exploring. The person who had helped us out in the Convenience store while buying Turkish Delights recommended a restaurant called ‘Balkan’ and gave us directions. We had a little bit of searching to do and it was in a lane that was being repaired (=Hey its not only India where there are dug up roads!!)

Balkan is a Self Service Restaurant meaning- U pick the dish from a limited range, The person serves, You pay per plate for what you order. And it turned out to be our cheapest meal of the whole journey (=:P :P).

So we had 2 chicken gravys, 2 plates of rice, 2 Ayrans, 2 Rice puddings (=Ah yes…yummy!!! All that sweet mixture with caramelized sugar on top!!!! :P) and the food was good.

  • Turns out in Turkey these types of restaurants are ‘Lowest of the Low’ where you have nobody to serve you, you pick and carry. But the place was clean, the food was good and inexpensive and the quantity was better than the other restaurants that waited on you hand and foot.

After our dinner, we made a trip to “Diva Discount Mart” which was our faithful cost saving provider where we picked up some Ayran, Water and Flavoured Milk for the tour ahead.

So thus concludes the 3 part ‘Day 1 in Istanbul’

 

Keep Tuned for further notes!!!

 

Basilica Cistern with its pillars

 

Fishes and Coins

 

Medusa upside down

Turkish Delights – Where are we heading off to this time??


Notes are BaCK Again (=with a vengeance of course!!! 😛 :P)

 

After a string of domestic tours (=notes of which have not been fully uploaded, my apologies, hey wait why am i apologising, blame those exams!!!) an international tour was being thought of (=thought of?? it was a unanimous demand)

 

Initially it was HONG kONG that we were to visit, but the March 11 Tsunami, “tsunamied” our chances of getting to HK and China atleast in the near term horizon (=damn damn!!)

 

After whirlwind planning and 3 weeks to get bookings and visa formalities in place, the trip was put together for us and i will put it for u (=Wow sounds so formal!!!) Well i would generally advise you to travel by yourself to get a hang of the place you are visiting and you generally look out for good options but, But and BUT..no time so the travel agents made a dime (=marks of Turkey!!! i’m becoming a poet!! :P)

 

Skip the details…..(=the ride to the airport, the food we had, the rush at the Terminal, cranky babies etc etc)

 

9th April : Finished with Exams (=TY University, i do seem to be all “growed up”)

9th April : 11:30pm

last minute packing, locking the suitcase with little time for sleep

9th April : 5:15 am

Seat Belt on, pilot ready and we take off!!!

 

Although i never really sleep in flights and generally have a motion sickness problem, i slept like a log. I barely remember the breakfast i had (=Oh No!! Wait i do, it was mushrooms fried in butter n pepper, a weird layered pastry, cake, fruits n bread)

Although we had a  screen with lots of good movies, the Stewards (=yes we had good looking smiley stewards!!) gave us the head phones probably when we were nodding off so i don’t remember. Also the movies didnt work that well. So we played a game called “Word Traveler” which helps you to build up a vocab so we tried Turkish but i dont remember anything!!.

 

Alright, i dont have photos but the first view when we were closing in on Turkey, Istanbul actually was amazing. There were blue seas (=which we learnt were the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara actually), green patches and villas with red roofs, it was like a fairy tale. i dont have a picture to post but it was very scenic.

 

After the usual rush to get out of the airplane and get luggage, we made our way through all the duty free to find our transfer van. The first thing that struck my girly senses was that, Turkish people are an eye candy (lol). Second, they are fair and incredibly beautiful. We found the person who was supposed to transfer us to the hotel. His name happened to be something funny, like Tootsie or Tootles or something. The driver’s name was Arjan (=the easy ones we remember)

 

And Wow, Istanbul shocked us!! It was beautiful. Wide roads, lots of plants especially tulips, really really beautiful as the pictures show. We were not finished looking at the flowers when the road wound us up to the sea. Beautiful..i really don’t have the words. There were old buildings on our left and parks, boats, gulls and the sea on the right, with the smooth traffic free road ahead.

 

There’s not a lot known about India in Turkey and vice versa, we don’t know a lot about the country despite there being lot of similarities between the cultures. But i’ll comment on the culture and the city later. Our first impressions were Dumbstruck.Amazed.Wow.Super Weather!!!!

 

Our Hotel was located in the ‘Historical Peninsula’ which is the place where all the monuments and travel spots are within close reach. So to our surprise, instead of keeping a straight road, we took a left and went up a winding road taking turns through a lot of hotels to find ours, ‘The Golden Horn, Serkeci, Istanbul’ (=Thats pronounced Sir-Ke-Chi).

 

We checked out our rooms, (=2 separate ones, we’re quite grown up now!!) which didn’t have much of a view but that doesn’t matter. We checked out some of the flight magazines. The ‘Istanbul Shopping Festival’ was on at that time. Also there were articles about how Istanbul was a “Global City’ and a ‘Melting Pot of Cultures’ (=Very 12th std french textbook like) also about Istanbul as a shopping destination. People will remember Istanbul as the city that kept changing the name from ‘Byzantium’ to ‘Constantinople’ to ‘Istanbul’.

Most of the magazine articles were in Turkish, with English translations by the side. Also i read about Turkish brands and about a place to visit in Turkey which has amazing waterfalls.

Also to our surprise, the TV in my parents room (=very ICAI style, the kids room hereinafterreferred to as 202 and the parents room as 203)

Ya back to the TV,(got lost in the brackets!!) There were channels with Turkish soaps (=US soaps dubbed in Turkish) other Turkish channels and BBC (=1 channel, for Christ’s sake, English anyone!!) So effectively we were cut off from the English speaking world and media (=Quite nice actually)

 

Turkey is 2.5 hours behind Indian.Standard.Time (=I say they r ahead but whatever!) so by that time which was about 12:30 -1 Turkey Time, we were all ready to eat a horse (=not literally, i guess we could eat a few chicken maybe and a whole vegetable patch)

 

So we went to the Reception and asked for places where we could have Authentic Turkish Food. The Bell Boy, Bell Man actually (=well he was old and had a salt n pepper head, what can i say) recommended this place called Ozler just opposite our hotel. So we made our way to Ozler.

 

Fact: Like in all European Countries, Turkey Restaurants keep a copy of their Menu Cards outside the restaurants. When a curious bystander comes looking at the dishes or the prices, an appointed waiter, salesguy actually, comes and sweet talks you into having a meal there.

 

Of course this didn’t work the first time because we were already going there. The restaurant apart from a few starters which are vegetarian (=aubergine, olives, salads and other stuff), the main course was Non Vegetarian.

 

Discovery: Istanbul Sensation  ‘AYRAN’ = Youghurt + Salt. This drink is a sensation. Its available everywhere and is refreshing, cool and awesome (=Only for a price of 3 Lira in restaurants, and 1 Lira in the SuperMarkets)

 

Ayran was our constant companion till we left Turkey.

Ok so our lunch was some Yummy Lamb Kebabs, Chicken Sheesh and Bread

We also had some Cut Fruit on the House (=yipee!!) which was delicious, i mean huge pieces of juicy oranges,,,,wow

 

Daily Info Bits: Restaurants serve you unlimited amount of bread if you dine there. So for all the hoggers – Eat, Munch n Bite

 

The One who took our order was nice enough to let us see the kitchen and introduce us. We saw their big ovens (=no pictures sorry)

 

Also before we entered, my dad and i were seeing the prices and my mom and sis were chatting with one of the sales-guys called ‘George Clooney’ lolz and he thought my mom n my sis were MY KIDS…yea yea not funny i dont look that old!!!! So he was trying to cheer me up while i fake cried!! (=OK Stop Laughing!!)

 

So in the end we got a pic with him too!!

 

After the lunch, we made our way to the hotel room 203..and decided about our day. We decided to spend the day walking around and exploring the area. We had a 2 tours around the city looking at the attractions. We’d landed on Sunday and the Tours were on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

Coming Up: Exploring Around, Istanbul Everywhere, Hagia Sophia, Yerebatin Cistern, Galata Bridge, Galata Tower all on Day 1

 

Keep Tuned

 

 

 

 

Turkey…Our Transfer Van

 

Sights off Turkish Airport

 

Ataturk Airport

 

The hotel

 

gEORGE cLOONEY

Coorgi Tales-Tranquil in the hills


Madikeri, the small town in the hills is our next destination.

13th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, india

Our day begun with a lot of movement because we wanted to change the room we were allotted. The problem was that there was some construction work going on and there were a lot of hammering noises. we reckoned that we get all of these noises in bombay and didnt want the same here. So the morning went in changing rooms from the apartment ‘Masual’ to ‘Carandas’ this one was away from the noise and was tranquil.
After breakfast at ‘Arabica’ we explored the property. Club Mahindra Coorg, is 32 acres and that asks for a lot of walking. we checked out their ayurvedic centre which was very well done up with a nice pond with stones on it to reach the reception. Most of the property is filled with coffee plants of the ‘Robusta’ varietso we could see a lot fo the coffee pods. Also there are lot of trees which makes the property look very lush. There are also a lot of birds in the trees so the air is littered with cries of one or the other bird and as you walk you can catch the fragrance of a flower or two. There were also a few pineapple plants and small creepers with dark green leaves. these leaves had pink spots on it. although it sounds repulsive, the leaves were actually very cute!!

Lunch was also at ‘Arabica’, we had taken the package for 3 meals. Club mahindra spoils you simply with the variety fo their dishes, Here also like at other Club mahindras was a live counter where they made rotis for you. the dessert counter was also amazing!! So many different types!! An indian sweet, some mousse, a pastry. There was also a kids counter where they had a curry, rice and some desserts. did that mean that we couldn’t pick something from there?? Didnt deter us from trying that section out. After all, we’re our parents kids too!! 😉

The afternoon was a quiet affair. we walked around the property and checked out the other apartments and just chilled out. This Club mahindra has different adventure activities which made good entertainment but we decided to do it another day.

In the evening, the holiday activities was having a bonfire and we decided to go there.. i wore a short skirt for the first time and then we made our way to the holiday activities space. There were bonfire games and we had a fun time playing. we got fully involved in the games and as a result made many new friends…Our team eventually won. Here we met Medha who became our fun partner for the rest of our staY IN Coorg and her parents, Jayant and Mira.
After we made our way for dinner, we found out that one small girl was missing so i helped to find her for a while. It would be scary losing your 3 yr old child in a 32 acre property at 9 pm. Eventually they found her in another room with video games. The dinner was tasty as it always is.
I got compliments for the skirt 🙂
We retired soon and slept like logs.

Next Episode: First Adventure Activiy and the Spice Plantation tourthe road ahead…driving thru the forestthe restaurants

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

Chronicles of Manki-A hectic day, more Maths and lot of discoveries


8th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India

So we set out to explore our roots and do a ‘Naag Pooja’ of our family deity. The ‘Naag Pooja'(=Naag means the snake deity) is a pooja where the past generations are worshipped and their blessings are sought for the well being of the present and future generations.

First Destination: Kumta
In Kumta, my grandfather’s cousin stays who had been taking care of the Mavinkurve deity for so long. The bhatmam who we met at Manki came with us to perform this holy ceremony. We also had an insight into how life is in a small town. Kumta is the education hub there as there are many schools and colleges. The bhatmam who accompanied us has sent both his daughters to Kumta to study.

Discovery: Cows and Calves eat banana peals, flowers and leaves and its so much fun to feed them. They even lick your fingers!!

 

Followed By: Mallapur
There is another Math at Mallapur so we made our way to Mallapur. There is a story of a bell at Mallapur. It is huge and when you ring it, the vibrations last for a long time, and sound line ‘Om’. So the story goes that one Swamiji wanted the bell shifted from Mallapur to Shirali. But he got a dream the following night that the bell was destined to stay there. And the bell stayed.
The bhatmam’s son at Mallapur also served us lunch, he is so cute. We played with him and sat on a swing there listening to his stories.

I’m Loving It: Food served on banana leaves has its own different taste!! Steel plates can never come close to that.

 

 

 

 

Next Destination Gokarn
The beach at Gokarn is in the shape of ‘om’ and is stunning when seen from a height. we visited Gokarn Math and had a special pooja of the Samadhis like in Mallapur and Shirali. Met an irage dog and a naughty cow who followed us into the Math and had to be shooed out.

Mavinkurve Island
Mavinkurve Island is located in the Sharawati river.
How to reach it?? Go into one lane after Honavar and before crossing the bridge to the banks of the river. Catch a boat and there it is.

The Sharawati river is sperb!! Its so placid and blue and clear. Our bhatmam who incidentally loves travelling, came with us to Mavinkurve as well. There are a lot of other islands in the Sharavati but i doubt if all of them are inhabited by humans.
Seeing a Syndicate Branch at Mavinkurve made me feel proud. It seems the land over there is marshy so we saw lot of rice planted. I learnt that one of the villagers could easily walk over the marshy land. i’m sure i’d fall, i’m a clumsy nut!!

 

 

Our ancestral land was far away, deep into the island and as sunset was approaching, we couldn’t explore. The temple there has one of the prettiest devis i have ever seen. and the island has an AC hall lol.
The bhatmam from the island invited us for ‘kasai’ which means a drink like masala milk. Nobody has much of tea there they all prefer kasai which is made with lot of garden herbs. While we were leaving the bhatmam from Mavinkurve asked our boat-driver to give us a longer ride so he took us through some islands and ahead below the freight train bridge. As it was dark by then, the river and islands looked mysterious and inviting and there was a certain glow about them.

 

 

After Mavinkurve, we made our way back home, totally connected with our roots and so proud to be an Amchi!!

our evening entertainment was always IPL as we had a set top box at Manki. Also, the Karnatak Govt faithfully cut power for 1 hour during the day, inexplicably at 7 at night. We felt bad for the students who had to study for their board exams as in Karnatak, board exams are in April.

Coming Up Next: The strip of wonder and more chronicles