Thursday, December 28, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Mail from Aji on Oct 24, 2006:
We would be delighted if you could join us with family for the first birthday celebration of our daughter, Teresa Mary on the 29th of October. Do come and share our happiness and help make the occasion memorable.
Time : 12.00pm, the Sunday 29th of October
Venue: Ferns Habitat Club house, Ferns habitat layout, Doddanekundi, Near Marathahalli
With best regards,
Aji & Anju
Now some excerpts from the replys (no names provided, but you-know-who-said-these...):
"A long term *pending* get together happening now. Cheers :)"
"Thanks for the invitation. I hope, we will get a cumulative party, once we reach there!! Convey our best wishes to Teresa"
"Does cousin form part of family? ;)"
Thus a group from our friends circle gathered at the above place to celebrate Theresa's birthday, and that was a very nice gettogether for all of them after quite a long time. Unfortunately, I missed the occasion, since I was at home on a long vecasion. Some people who couldn't make it gave explanation later, like this guy:
"Krishna was on leave in Kerala...Thale divasam vellathhinte overdose aayathinaal I couldnt make it either :(" - Again, you-know-who ;)
And finally came the "Thank you" note from Aji.
it was a good gathering. Most of our classmates turned up. Dhakan couldn't join since he had to go to Kerala. Sachin's case is already self confessed (Ivanokke valu vachu kidakkan kanda samayam !!!!) .Krishna is in Kerala. Shahul said he couldn't join since his baby was creating some troubles :-). Undu, we missed you very much !!!!
Some people like Birju & Feby , they are missing in the photo since they left early.
Thanks a lot to all for making this occasion very much memorable !
So that's all about the celebration (that I know about. Others please add to this). And my belated happy birthday wishes to dear Teressa. You can find more snaps here.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
At 6:30 AM, I was in the office. Called up Sid, but no response. He must be on his way. Filled petrol & check air. By then Sid reached and we started. At 6:55 am, we are in front of family mart. Waited for 10 minutes, nobody turned out. Called up Suresh. He was surprised - it seems that nobody called them up in the previous evening to confirm the trip, so he thought that nobody would be coming. Mistake from our side - we were thinking that the program is anyway on, so no need to call them up in advance !! He said he'll be there in half an hour. To utilise the time effectively, we decided to have breakfast ..
We didn't mind the wating, hoping the program will not let us down. Suresh reached by 8:30 pm, accompanied by another instructor and a kid (his son, 2.5 yrs old). Thus started our trip to Turahalli.
Turahalli is around 10 km from Family Mart. We reached the place in half an hour. The program was basically to understand the different techniqes used for rock climbing and practice them. They took us to different types of rock formations and we tried climbing them. Checkout this Turahalli Album for more photos.
The kid was very enthusiastic throughout. Suresh told he likes to go out with him and loves to do all these. He want to climb evry rock !! Suresh also encourages him to do everything his own.
After the rock climbing lessons we tried rapelling, which I liked. Rock climbing was little difficult for me, since my hands are not strong enough to hold my body weight. Also, in the first attempt itself, I got many scratches in my hand, which made the subsequent climbs difficult. But Sid was thoroughly enjoying it.
We concluded the session by 2:30, and returned. Later in the evening, I realised that such a wonderful program came with a price. My upper part of the body was paining a lot, and it is still there even after two days ...
Monday, December 11, 2006
I was ready by 5:30, and it was still dark. Went down to the hotel for a hot black tea. They were opened so early just for the sake of the policemen - Thanks to the temporary police camp set up there due to some local fights.
I started by 5:45, after finishing the tea. It was still dark outside, but the ambient light has become better. I started off slowly, but soon I was enjoying the ride through. The road goes through small hillocks, tea estates, small settlements ... But nobody was on the road. The winding road made it difficult to speed up, and the road was quite bad in some stretches. But bike has the advantage of being a little more agile.
Even with the best effort s I put, I reached by Thekkady 7:35, which meant that I missed the boat. Next boat will be at 9:30 am. Those two hours was valuable to be since I wanted to visit 'Ilaveezha Poonchira" on the way back. Since I couldn't make it I will have to drop it ;(
Had tea from the nearby shop. The hotel owner was more than happy to know that I am from B'lore since he had some relative here and was planning to come down to Bangalore for some job.
After taking the pass from the entry gate, I went inside. The boarding place for the boat is around 1km from the gate. Took the pass for the 9:30 trip. There is a small hotel inside which serves refreshments. Had my breakfast from there.
The forest department had a small setup there. Thekkady is one of the eco tourism initiatives from the forest department. They arrange various programs with the help of the tribal / local people there. Since I was alone and really didn't have much time to spend there, I decided to try that next time. Also, I was just back from our wonderful trip to the Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary. In fact I haven't recovered fully from the leech bites I got from there ;) The situation wasn't much different in Thekkady either - so decided that I better try it later, may be sometime in April.
The boat trip was uneventful, which was expected. Since it was during the monsoon, the chances of spotting the wildlife are pretty narrow. But was a very relaxing trip, but wasn't thrilling at all. And I lost another two hours ;(
Since the route from Thekkady to Munnar was a bit bad, I decided to drop the plan to take the de-tour. So nothing more was left - I started my journey back.
Just then I realised that the petrol in the tank was not enough for the next 200 kilometers. Not wanting to take the risk of filling on the way, I tried to fill petrol from the nearby pump. But petrol was not available due the tanker strike in Kerala. The strike was apparently called off, but the supply was not available yet. After checking with a few people, came to know that petrol is available at Kambam, which is around 20 km from Thekkady. So decided to go there and fill the petrol to be safe.
But this short de-tour itself took around two hours, since I had to stop in between due to the heavy rain. But at the place where I filled petrol (around 2 km from Kambam) there were no rains, since it fall in the rain shadow region. On the way back, the rain was even stronger, I enjoyed it to the maximum, but I had to stop when it become heavier.
By 2:15, I was back in Kumily, and I continued the journey back. The return journey was pretty slow, first due to traffic, then due to the frequent stops to take photographs and then due to the heavy rain. The road conditions made it worse. I finally reached home at 9:15 pm. Had a nice dinner and before I realised, I was in deep sleep.
This trip was a very different experience to me. For the first time in a trip, I really did the lead role. The terrain was unknown to me, and I faced it fearlessly. It was risky, but I was thrilled at that opportunity. And all that was done alone - that taught me that the greatest strength and weakness is just me. I can stretch to my limits, but vulnerable to my own weakness. A team excels in reducing those vulnerabilities, but it does restrict your ability to stretch the limits. "The chain is no stronger than its weakest link"
Friday, December 08, 2006
Short break near Kurisumala for a cup of tea. Met a teacher from the Labor India School there. He gave a lot of tips on where to stay & what to see. Went to the Kurisumala Ashram first to see if I could get accommodation there.
The winding road beyond the main gate is lined with stone walls, and is in a pretty bad shape. After negotiating a short stretch of steep road, you'll reach a small junction where you can find a few shops. Take the straight road which goes down to the valley, and you'll find the ashram on the next turning on your left side. The dirt road is paved with cobblestones at the top of the rise as we near what must be the monastic compound, but there is still no overt sign, no cross, no statue that would demarcate a Christian monastery. I went to the reception and checked if there are any rooms available. And sadly, there were none ;(
I went to the Vagamon town, to search for accommodation. The town is actually a small street, with a few shops and a vegetable market. I located a small hotel and had my next round of tea, kappa & beef curry. With their help I located a small home stay. I just needed a place for sleeping, and I got an attached room for just Rs.150. It was getting dark, I went to see Kurisumala, without wasting time.
Kurisumala is a small hillock around 3 km from the town. The road goes via Kurisumala Ashram. The road is well maintained, except for the initial part before the Ashram. The Kurisumala is considered as a pilgrim center (see http://www.kurisumala.com/ for details). The climb up was a ok, and since it was getting late, I was in fact rushing through. Going alone is an advantage when you want to stretch yourself - and that's what I did. I reached the top in just 15 minutes. But I was tired by then. Spend some time taking photos. Even the ambient light was quite low, and within no time it was pitch dark. To add to that I was all alone. The last group was the one I saw while climbing up. Fortunately, I had torch with me, which helped me to identify the route back. Even then I lost way two three times, and had to track back. I was more worried about the vipers which are very common in such terrains, that even my hosts warned about. That was a very good experience which helped me to overcome many of my 'fears' ;) But looking back, I know that I was a little too adventurous
I reached the foot of the hill, taking a little less than 25 minutes. Went back to the hotel, had a refreshing bath in ice cold water (no heater, & I liked it ;)), had kanji for dinner. Reminded me of the dinner at Munnar - just that I was alone. Other settings were same ;) Went back to the room for an early light-off, for the next day's journey was supposed to start by 5:30 am.