The Drunkard’s dozen: Drama at Kerala-Karnataka road

When I visit Kodagu, I not only make a choice to blissfully cut off myself from the gadget civilization, but the erratic Electricity Board practically forces it on me too. So I try to read the local news papers  in Kannada to brush up my language skills. Last visit, I was reading the paper and burst out laughing with tears rolling from the eyes. My husband was curious to learn the reason and I warned him, you are not going to like what I say… but he insisted!

I said have you heard of Drunkard’s dozen? You can use it in your next Bingo session… (actually I made up the word) and started laughing again because my mind went elsewhere, to Pakistan to be precise! He was looking at me with a sort of grin and irritation… then I narrated out the news item from the newspaper dabbed with little spice:

{May 28th 2017, – Virajpet} The way it seems, the Keralites are exceptionally Law abiding(***) citizens of India. The Cops seems to be either busy controlling the striking employees or chasing the drunken brawlers… If you take the Nagarahole road to Mysuru, after the check point of Thithimathi, you can often see many Kerala  registered cars from Mercedes to little Nano parked here and there even braving the elephant crossing. I joke with my husband, guess Mallu’s are scared of their abkari and cops more than the biggest mammal!

Lure of alcohol is more powerful than most, as long as the effect is on, one can be what they want to be… a Maharaja or a Celebrity or a Super being. Moreover alcohol is unbiased, has no religion, no gender or language discrimination, sings lullaby even to the beggar/pauper/criminal alike, teaches punctuality to the believer, and embraces everyone in the same manner including animals. Jokes aside, heard of fermented Marula fruit party of animals in Africa? The animals relentlessly keep coming back for more and more inspite of losing balance while walking. Fortunately (unfortunately for some) there is a limit to Man’s ability to drink and eat… and unlike Mr.FAT there is no storage facility for the alcohol either. The chemical cocktail that runs through every creature called addiction are often difficult to control and in Kerala there are one too many devoted to Ms Madire (alcohol). So what is the easiest path to romance or mate with her?

Simply get into a bus or car and depending where you live travel to Mahe or Karnataka. For example the boarder Taluk of Virajpet in Kodagu district of Karnataka and have a fill. Sadly one State’s restriction is another States boon. Ironically Mahe (aka Mayyazhi locally) surrounded by Kerala on three sides but governed by the union territory Puducherry (Pondicherry) with low taxes!

So during the last week of May 2017, one young genius in Lungi, the traditional attire, came up with a brilliant plan. He brought eleven quarter bottle (usually its flat bottles) and tied them to his sexy legs with white cotton rope, one with six and the other with five. Though seemed a dubious plan, it was the best he could do to avoid being caught by the custom officials at the check posts of Makutta and Perambadi. Perhaps he even would have gotten away fairly easily as the Lungi would cover the bottles and rope without any bulges. But like the famous phrase.. “One for the road”, made the plan famous and colourful.

That day KSRTC, – both the Kerala State government and Karnataka State government transport buses are called KSRTC – was running late.  Poor man in Lungi could not resist the call for the last drink like a snake to the charmer’s Pungi, got another quarter and chugged the shot fearing the arrival of the bus. Already high, as the Ms Madire subjugated, he could not even stand or walk. So under duress just sat on the ground, as the Lungi opened revealing his beautiful sexy legs along with the bottles. Rest is history… someone with the smart phone got smarter and clicked the picture and sent to the media.

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As I finished my narration, my husband burst out laughing but in between he said then what is the Drunkard’s dozen and Pakistani connection?

Well, sorry guys I have to admit its little nasty but that was the thought that came to me… I am not challenging the manhood but it’s just a funny episode in the mundane day to day life. I told him, it’s all about the importance or perception of manhood for certain category of people. I was wondering why only the odd eleven bottles and why not twelve? Then realized that in a drunken state, the man in Lungi must have mistaken or counted his organ as the twelfth bottle! It’s not different from a drunkard thinking he/she can drive in supersonic speed or consider themselves as superman/woman.

And as far the Pakistani connection goes, remember 4 – 5 years ago a suicide bombers’ devise would not detonate because he was wearing a metal shield around his genital area to carry it whole to heaven? Wow, amazingly he thought leaving it whole on Earth would reach Heaven without blemish too. Then there is the failed Christmas day unwashed-underwear bomb too…

My husband did not say anything so I thought it was OK to post it… But I am still wondering who is the smartest of the three? And which addiction is more powerful? Is wearing pant better than Lungi while smuggling?

*** Even though India is one sovereign entity, each State has its own independent rules and regulations within the state. Often it is stretched too thin and hard to comprehend. For decades I lived in a tax free country Kuwait, where there was restriction for very few items like drugs, alcohol, pork. Yet people try to smuggle it not only for quick bucks but also for personal indulgence. Always the modus operandi is exclusive; often mind blowing which could turns funny, nasty or stupid too. Like the drugs carrier mules sorry humans, swallowing plastic bags with drugs or kept in private parts, etc.. I often wondered how it is in a large country with limited restrictions or free movement between the states.

In Karnataka, alcohol sale is a big business… both as money spinner to state government as well as politicians/abkari/police department’s coffer filling golden goose, who are like the mosquitoes sucking out on decomposed mushrooms! Sadly as long as the last alcoholic is standing, demand and supply will continue and the trend will continue. Pathetically, as if the half crack-nasty, ego bound drivers are not bad enough, it is even sold on highways… However, the next door neighbour state Kerala has a different covenant even though they enjoy “Kallapam”, a alcohol based breakfast. Say no to “Kallu” and encourage drinking “Chaya”, the famed Kerala milk-tea,. According to Mr. Google uncle, the state owned Bevco (Kerala State Beverage Corp) has 338 shops, and Bevco will shut down 10% of them every year. Consumer fed, which has 46 shops, will also be closed. However, sale of alcohol will continue to be permitted in 5-star hotels, and there were fourteen 5-star hotels in the state as of August 2014. That means big wigs can still drink, in other words liquor is not really banned; only the location is restricted!!

Life of Mushroom- From dust to dust, a Micro vision to the Human story?

Come rainy season I wait for a chance to devour wild mushrooms.. my favourite dish which I can never resist that too with a generous dab of butter and otti (rice bread -like peta bread-, staple breakfast of Kodavas). Mushroom foraging, harvesting and eating is a risky job; a tiny error could cost your life or you might end up in mental asylum! But quite instinctively we knew which ones (8-10) were edible by sight, a knowledge just slipped into our system somehow. The taste and flavour can only be experienced and cannot be described:while growing up mushroom hunting was a delight to us as we got to wade barefoot on the rainwater, collected on the clean grass splashing all around, carried an umbrella yet fully wet, an time which can never be relived. Yet just a ray of hope in the distant horizon, teeny-tiny chances, if, Kasturirangan Report is implemented.

Mushrooms are fungus that grow almost everywhere, on every natural material imaginable (tree, logs, soil, decomposing leaves, dung, mulch, compost, etc.) in different shapes, sizes and colours. Even ants and termites grow them as food. It’s hard to delineate the shapes, mostly with a domed cap on a stalk with gills on the underside of the cap. It’s something like the fruit of a plant with millions of invisible seed called spores but it’s hard to say if it is Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian food!! Who cares… I am a gourmand when it comes to wild mushroom!

Without leaves and requirement of sunlight, it pops up magically without any clue within a week or more after a good rain (rains) right in front of your eyes if you happened to be around. It also returns to its point of origin within no time if left in nature.

Recently, I had the unexpected privilege of recording it in the span of 3 – 5 days and that’s when I realized how close it is to our own life cycle! If one can compare this process to 5 days of human life then cycle of our life process say 100 years could be few days of the life of Mother Nature. Creation from dust to dust, the disposal technique of Mother Nature is unbelievable. No wonder the Rishis of yore opted for cremation over burial…

Mushroom decay process depends upon the condition around. I remember Oprah Wimfrey telling, with the makeup, fan and light anyone could be made to look gorgeous not just models or film stars.. Similarly with the sun, rain and air in control, the entire creation could be altered!! I have seen mushroom drying naturally in warm climates like Mysuru in the absence of rain.

The first reaction from my Son when he saw the pictures, whose opinion is very important to me, was yukkk… yukkk Mamma… can’t imagine…did you really photograph it? How could you?!? I joked, yeh I did, everything happens for a reason, I was supposed to that’s why the process cycle was very small. The decay was accelerated as the results of hot day temperature and rains in the evenings. I left the place on the 5th day… letting nature’s recyclers enjoy the remains.

The mushroom had bloomed on 27/05/2017 on the mud parapet at my sister-in-law Shanthi Somanna’s house in Mythadi, but unnoticed till 28/05/2017 evening so by the time it was plucked, it was unfit to eat. My SiL is a sweetheart and was very sad that I did not get to eat it, and to make me happy, kept it in a plastic tray in the coffee drying yard for me to photograph it. I spent quite some time with the mushroom (almost till the end) until by mistake my husband drove over the tray breaking it in the process.

The pictures are self-explanatory… inspite of all the activities the stem standing firm almost till the end is in par with the bones staying for a long time to tell the tales.

Day one was missed out in the wild.

Day Two

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Day three

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Day four

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Day Four evening..

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Final chapter of Mr & Mrs. Mushrooms

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Face of Iraqi Wars & Fable from my childhood.. Two Cats & a Monkey

This is a fable for the young generation..

Indian culture is full of fables & we grew up listening to oodles of them from parents, grandparents, relatives & even exchanges with friends. Those were the most beautiful moments & we never got tired of it… Basically unlike the present day gadgets, it was one of the most important entertainments for us. That’s how we were mentally groomed to grow up as balanced human beings. Keeping the values & growth of mankind, as the Vedas & Puranas have done thousands of years ago, fables were woven & passed on in a simpler fashion known as Ajji-Kategalu (Grandmother’s stories).

I am certain that Indian fables are a rich source of bonding & grooming to children. I was really surprised when I narrated my own modified version of the story of “King with the Donkey’s ears’ to Arya, my 3.5 years old granddaughter, she was so excited & made me tell her the story several times. I let her name the King & she would religiously repeat “King Cockle has Donkey’s ears” three times too. One day she also asked me Nana can you write & give it to Mama/Dada so they can read it for me!!

An Ajji would have said: A Door is smaller than a house, a lock is smaller than the door & a Key is smallest of them all. Like how we can enter the house with that little key, a good moral solution can fix big problems & vice versa!!

When the Iran-Iraq war happened (22.09.1980 to Aug 1988), we lived just a ~500 kilometers away & when Iraq annexed Kuwait (02.08.1990 to 26.02.1991) we lived there for 2 months before starting the arduous journey home. In a WAR there is no such thing as winners or losers; everyone is a loser in different context. I always wonder who really benefitted & ate the cake. Coming back to the headlines, you can read the story & interpret the way you want.

Many moons ago there lived two Cats in an old woman’s house. They were good friends, born together & while basking in the Sun spent their time playing & purring whole day in the garden. Old woman was very fond of the Cats & pampered them like her own children. There was plenty of food & milk, & they did not have to toil it. One day the old woman was suddenly taken ill & had to be rushed to the hospital. There was no food or milk kept out for them to eat or drink.

Middle of the day both were very hungry & could not find any food or drink. So both decided to search for the food & wondered all over the village but could not find any food. Finally the aroma of freshly baked bread & cake gave them some hope. When the baker was busy they managed to sneak in & while the baker was trying to chase one, the other ran away with a piece of cake. Finally, they stopped under a bush & decided to share the cake. It was a team effort & both wanted equal share. One of them divided the cake into two pieces & the pieces did not look equal.  Obviously they had no knife to cut it & had to use their paws. The tantalizing smell of cake made them greedy & both began to quarrel claiming the bigger piece.

On a nearby tree a small troop (incidentally it is also called a barrel!!!) of Monkeys were watching the commotion under the canopy. The smart leader decided to mediate between the Cats. Well that’s what it told them… it came down from the tree & asked them why they were quarreling with each other?

When the Cats complained to the Monkey about the difference in the portion, the Monkey said oh don’t worry, I can solve this problem in no time. The leader went to nearby vegetable vendor & borrowed a balance to weigh.

The Monkey said, well keep both the pieces in the balance & let us see if it is different & I will be the judge. Impressed by the size & smartness of the Monkey, the Cats agreed & kept the pieces in the balance. Indeed it was different & the Monkey said it will fix the problem, & cut a piece of the heavier cake & ate it. Then weighed the pieces again & the other piece was heavier this time. Saying it will fix the pieces equally, the Monkey took a bite & ate it. To make the pieces equal, biting & eating from the heavier pieces continued until such time that there was nothing left. Right in front of their eyes the entire cake piece vanished into Monkey’s stomach as both the Cats stood helpless & aghast for the right measurement.

Finally the Monkey smiled & said now my dear friends; I have solved your problem & you won’t have to quarrel over the bigger piece of the cake anymore & climbed back the tree.

Still hungry & sad, the Cats learnt the lesson of their life, not to involve a stranger in their personal affair. They had no choice but to wait for the old lady to return home…

World is still filled with Cats & all kinds of monkeys white, brown, black, etc.

Con-monitization – The 5 legged Cow in a moving Temple

On the 10th of May, I was traveling from Madikeri to Mysuru & saw this unusual looking 4-wheeler in front of us near Kamplapura. I was craning my neck to get a clear view as it was cloudy, raining & mad driving in a 2-way lane. That’s when my husband said look at the extra limb on cow’s back & the people are taking advantage of its deformity. He continued, see how the vehicle is modified into look like a shrine, picture of one of the prophets is kept decked with flowers & the cow is made to look holy! The 3-ladies & the driver, & perhaps even some more might be making a living out of the deformity of the cow!!

Like prostitution, conning is one of the oldest professions in the world. Akin to the prey & the predator of the jungle, wherever “innocent victims” congregate, the Salesmen “concentrate”.

I call it CON-monetization (en-cashing on the innocence, ignorance & helplessness of poor people in a cunning way). One has to marvel at their ingenuity, creativity & the ability to fool their fellow beings. Looking at them I remember a famous line from the Kirtane of Kannada Saint Composer Kanakadasa (1509-1609): Ellaru madu-vudu hotte-gagi genu batte-gagi {Ellaru = every one, maduvudu = doing or does, hottegagi = for the sake of stomach, genu = a measurement from the finger tip till the elbow & battegagi = for clothing. In short, everyone is working to fill one’s stomach} be it a King or a pauper, thief or saint, etc., etc. Ironically that piece of cloth is what differentiates the humans from the rest of the living being who walks vertical & has no natural cover!

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After the mystery of Mother Nature, it’s Religion that always fascinates me. Often I wonder who coined, designed, shaped & coloured something called religion. It’s soft & fragile as a new born, beautiful as a flower petal, fragrant as jasmine, stronger than a earth quake, powerful than a tsunami, brighter like Sun, darker like moon lunar, blind as a mud snake, deaf & dumb like each other & definitely the most used, misused & abused aspect of human life. It has taken more lives & spilt more blood than anything else in the history of mankind. As a Kodava, I am privileged not to be bound or bundled by something called religion & it gives me both an edge to privacy while freedom to watch & learn. I find it very funny when someone tries to lure me (twice I experienced) with the classic “you are such a nice person, you must read our book, it has so many merits” … (I have no idea if there is shortage of good people…) & want to tell them to be humans first & then think of religion.

It happens only in India… In India Religious con-monetization & fooling is not just limited to Hinduism but practically wide spread in almost every religion though in different fashions. For example one of the Religions from Middle East has made their Prophet from almost God status into a pure Ghost-Buster (remember the movie & the music?). I am not sure if the Prophet was married or not, wondering what status they would have given her… a she-ghost-buster or a she-warlock? The Religious Salesmen are pro-monetizing* the innocent, the ignorant & the helpless by promising protection from the current & the future ghosts for generations to come!! Guess the entire community of ghosts from India including the ones from Kukkarhalli kere goes to these religious congregations seeking solace & comical action. (*Pro-monetizing, I just made up the word meaning buying human bakras (goats) by converting to boost the volume to accommodate more ghosts even from overseas).

I was under the impression that Black magic & Ghosts doesn’t belong to any particular religion… LoL the possessing of Ghosts & the powers of Priestly Salesmen are so funny I can’t just stop laughing… if anyone wants a good laugh for free without going to a standup comedy show you can watch one too many strange & funny videos on you-tube…

Everyone will do anything for the sake of filling the stomach be it in a righteous or in an unrighteous manner. It will continue to be till the last man on earth survives & sadly religion is the easiest guise to cover up the con.

Sights, Sounds, and Scent of Kukkarahalli kere

My husband is from the South and I am from the North of the our hometown, the district of Kodagu. Generally, other than very personal matters, we have agreed to disagree on everything. That’s something my little granddaughter (3 year old Arya) terms as “Gpa and Nana are only pretending, not fighting!!” Perhaps this is one of the reasons we still like, enjoy and tolerate each other’s company after 40+ years of marriage.

Whenever we are in Mysore my husband goes for a walk at Kukkarahalli kere (lake). Kukkarahalli Lake is one of the 3-manmade lakes of Mysore city and is more mystical and beautiful than words can explain. Sadly the water is not fit for consumption because of man’s stupidity and exploitation. And the government… let not even to go there!! Home to thousands of migratory birds and different flora and fauna is a feast to sore eyes was dug in 1864, thanks to the generosity of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar of Mysore Dynasty to provide water for the nearby villages’ irrigation.

I join my husband on his daily lakeside walks sometimes, but our purposes vary slightly. For my husband, like the thousands who tread the 4 km path around the lake, it’s purely for physical fitness. But for me, it’s more to do with refreshing my mind and learning about things around me. So once we are at the kere, we walk in different directions on the path and almost always he finishes his usual round, walks an extra kilometer, and then waits… We get to hear about each other’s walking experiences too, and the idea for this article originated from one such moment….

One day he told me that some gentlemen were talking about bones that are likely to show-up in the lake because of the reduction of water and about a “female ghost”. I told my husband that this female ghost is a big joke! Why would a dead soul that killed itself come back to this humanly world filled with selfishness and cruelty… Perhaps even the crocodile in the lake are better than humans, who are inspired by all the text book knowledge from around the university campus. Eventually I told him that I will prove it to him that there is no female ghost and well, I had only five walking days in hand as I was leaving town for some days!

First day was cloudy and misty so one day gone!! In the four days that remained, I took more than a hundred pictures… sadly I can’t post them all… If any of my readers know the names of the flowers, birds and/or any other interesting and peculiar matters around the kere that I may have missed, please write to me to help better this article.

I now ask you to join me on this visual journey around the Kere!

The swarm of activities on the lake path starts much before the break of dawn and Mr. Sun shows his smiling face as many walkers and joggers in all shapes, colours, and gender with various linguistic back grounds including German and French speaking folks that have come to learn yoga in the city. The first one to greet the kere’s visitors is the call of a Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) with its shrill calling and also you can hear the meowing of the peacock sometimes. Even though I could not capture it in a picture, it always made its presence felt. Then the band of music starts with numerous other land birds of different calling and sighting. The only thing perhaps missing in the crowd is the sparrow that seems to have mass migrated to Middle East (I’ve see them in large numbers) Occasionally joined by different aquatic birds and cicadas, the morning music gains ground to its peak before most of them fly out in search of food. The stray dogs which have made the lake path their home, fed by the kind walkers, jump around happily. Quite a few cows graze here, and are followed around by white Cranes waiting to get a treat from the cows’ bodies or insects from the disturbed grass. Grass cutters cut loads of fresh grass and old ladies collect firewood for the day. Somehow mysteriously everything seems to be harmonious and orderly and in rhythm with the Mother Nature indicating that the day is going to be just perfect.

Outside, there are vendors selling papaya, watermelon, guava, health juice, tea, coffee, etc/. etc. Often, some new products are sold at introductory prices – I saw Palmyra fruit jaggery and honey. There is a horse carriage station built by the Central Government… there are more human sleeping there than horses and at times more vehicles parked!! While taking my own sweet time walking around the lake, I pick up bits and pieces of interesting conversation around me. Two such instances:

On the first day: Mr. A was talking to Mr.B about Mr.B’s SiL, “You know that Bikanasi your son in law he never helps anyone… and never even gives a paise to any one… bewarsi nan-maga”….

On the last day: The police had put a warning to people about thieves “sara-gallariddare eharike” (beware of chains thieves) and besides it was the picture of the Chief Minister of the state!!

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1 – Sunrise… on a misty day a dreamy reality

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2 – “Who is more beautiful, the Sunrise or me?” The brilliant yellow couldn’t look better elsewhere.  The tubular Bignoniaceae or Caribbean trumpet flower has no smell yet pulls everyone closer with its brilliance.

4.jpg3- “I am big and my flowers are pretty” A century plus old magnanimous Mimosa tree with a broken branch… looks like a heart… ..and its beautiful flowers. Wow!

5.jpg4- Wedding procession. Pelicans congregate daily in different parts of the lake as if a wedding party were in motion.

6.jpg5-“Are we there….. How much longer?”

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6- This baby owl seems to be confused if it is day or night….

8.jpg7- “I am a vegetarian, why do people make me eat their waste?” Till I saw one of these lovely bird (at the bottom) run away with a mimosa bean that looked like an extension of its beak, I always thought these birds catch fish!!

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8- Not pasteurized but sewage-ized (I made up the word) milk. There are many cows roaming free and grazing on the grass. And cutting the grass to make a living…. Tell-tale signs of heavy sewage from yore… plenty of plastic around too… grass grows on sewage, cows graze on it, and produce milk, humans consume the milk and eventually contribute to more sewage.. It’s a vicious cycle!

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9- The sewage being leaked even to this day.

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Kerya niranu kerege chelli… means lake water poured back to lake.. here human waste is given back to humans… fish from the lake is sold here. Thank God I don’t eat lake or tank fish!!

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10- Burden of old age…. Renewable energy that keeps the area clean and also helps old ladies make a living while staying healthy too. However, like thousands more parents it’s sad and shameful to see them struggling, neglected and discarded like old garb by their children!

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11- Old and wise… I am here to stay for generations to come (Aladamara or vat vriksha or banyan tree begins its life as an epiphyte, germinating in the crevices of a host tree or other structure (eventually killed or choked, its power can be witnessed at Angkor wat temples of Cambodia!!) The national tree of India known for its longevity is considered immortal (it’s difficult to determine the age due to the fact that the original trunk is usually hidden by years of arial/support root growth) and sacred (where Sri Krishna rested) in Indian culture. However, I see the banyan tree as to symbolizing one too many aspects of human life… for example a doubt in human mind or revenge or anything can grow and destroy life itself. The biggest one in India is located at Kolkata botanical garden and in Karnarnata, Dodda-Aladamara near Bangalore.

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12- Ants seem to love this tree I wonder why? Their very own sandal perfumery?

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13- The Oriental Anthill (sorry Mr. Termite). I called it so because it looks like the roof of a Pagoda and is different than all the anthills I have seen before.

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14- A demonic offspring of a gentle pollen eating parent!! An ant being caught in the pit of the soft bodied, innocent looking fiercely Nela-ame (antlion larva). These crafty veracious predators build funnel shaped nest in fine grained soft soil and catch whatever prey (mostly ants) bumbles into the ditch sucking the life juice out. As the prey tries to free itself from its jaws of death, it shoots sand nonstop and forcefully to prevent it from sliding out. The adults, also called lacewings look like dragon flies and mostly eats pollen and nectar!! Even though the life span of the adult could be between 4 to 6 weeks, it is said that these larva could live upto 3 years in larva stage… I was fascinated at the sight because it brought the nostalgic memories of my childhood.. Whenever I was angry with my mother for not letting me do what I want (usually over eating) I would barge out and go near the cowshed. Besides the outer wall always there was tiny antlion pit and would blow in it till the larva showed up, take it out put them on the palm and watch the softest body moving in reverse order. It was a game all of us kids played from time to time… we believed that if it bites we could hear the elephant trumpet from sky!! What an irony I did not know about the demonic eating habit of the larva!!

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15- Beware of crocodiles… No one knows how they got here and they are rarely seen – grass cutters even peacefully cut the grass around them. According to my husband, a couple of years ago a crocodile laid eggs and no one was allowed to go to a certain part of the lake. I joked with my husband because of the heat in Mysore most eggs must have hatched into male croc babies, so family planning is in order!! My husband also told me that last year one day all the birds resting on the tree were screaming and hovering around in circle perhaps the crocodile must have tried to devour one of them or they were warning all the other residents of the lake about its presence.

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16- Rows of wild bamboo, telltale signs of a creek and village that once existed. On the other side of the Lake is a hybrid variety that practically does not allows any plant to survive underneath.

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17- An ancient Acacia tree oozes resin…. Black as tar!!

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18- I was weighing the option – if to take a picture or not… Men are men…. Sorry guys… Public toilet not far away but a man just finished watering the tree under the cover of mist…. at one of the by-lanes of the area. Oh boy.. that’s called organic farming!! This also confirms that many people don’t wash their hands after visiting toilets… remember the survey at New York of street food vendors? Think twice before eating out… hahahhahahah

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19- Honge tree (Millettia Innata) renowned for its shade under which at least 2 or more degree cooler rained flowers. Traditionally known for medicinal properties, the “pongam oil” could be the potential alternate to fuel!!

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20- The parasitic Dodder ( Cuscuta spp.) which looks like a discarded ball of wool, flourishing on its hostess called Hooker’s Weed from the family Convolvulaceae. Almost always, the Dodder picks the same creeper to settle down on and has tiny little flowers of the same colour. I have seen bees hovering over those tiny-tiny flowers.

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21- Bush Passion (fruit) flowers with tender fruits in brackets

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22- Silky morning glory smiling all over followed by large beach moon flowers too large for it tiny leaves and numerous other creepers

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23-The uniquely and mildly fragrant beautiful Shivalinga Pushpa or Nagalinga pushpa (aka canon ball tree – named so because of the size and looks of its fruits resembling the cannon balls), is a sacred flower in the Indian culture symbolizing Lord Shiva, bloomed in one tree while the other just opposite bore none…

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24- Yoga time.. What a way to start the day in the presence of rising Sun. My husband said it’s an invasion of privacy. Well no one can see his face…

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25- Cycle of life… as a female dog feeds the Pups, the male tries to mate. Unfortunately, the pups were abandoned the next day. (My husband did not want me take this picture)

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26- Healthy juice time – While one saves the time and trouble of making this at home, the other makes a living out of it. My husband told me that within an hour the entire juice will be sold out.

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27- California drought ends and the Mysore one begins… Receding water level (20th March 2017) telltale signs of an impending draught. White and green lines indicate the normal water level. Sadly due to contamination this water is not potable either…

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28- Another glorious day and a new beginning… what better way to start than walk towards Mr. Sun

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29- Last day and the last sight… The ugliest and saddest rotten act of human mind… the steps of NCC Boating area is being used as the platform for black magic offering. May God push it back to the offer-er itself. I landed there to get a good picture of the Pelican procession, but this is what I got!! One of the handsome young men in the picture explained it to me!! The way they behaved around it, guess it’s a common practice by the evil minds. I took the picture of the offering along with unlit agarbattis… but decided not to post… you can see it at his knee level of the young man in the middle.

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30- Crawford hall, the pride of Mysore – the cleanest city in India, showcases the sad reality. The iconic building of the University Campus stands elegant in the early morning sun while the backyard tells a different story…. both the pictures were taken just a day apart and I call it hindu-mundu (back-front). This building means a lot to me as all except one (Bangalore) of my entire family have connections to this university!!

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I told my husband… I took loads and loads of pictures, spent more than one and a half hours daily, I saw very few people, paused briefly to say hello to Ms. Chamundeshwari (temple on the hill) at the sight of the light and looking at my enthusiasm few stopped to take the picture of birds in the water… otherwise sadly everyone is so busy with their mundane life including you.

So where do you think the female ghost finds solace or psychotic help? And do you really think they will come here??

Potable or not please help to save the lake… it’s too precious to lose.

Dear readers, you need a break from never ending, ever living mundane problems, take a break at least for 5 minutes to breathe in the precious sun light…. feast your eyes with all the greens… do it for yourself.. and guess what it’s all for free! Time passes on whether you and me are in it or not… we are not ajji kolis (old lady’s hen) and we don’t aid sun rise!

Last but not the least….  If you see me stupidly running around with my camera please say hi to me… Have a great blessed day.

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Changing face of South Karnataka… are we headed for a severe drought?

I hope i’m wrong about the title’s question, but the signs are everywhere. Kodguku poopo (going to Coorg) always brings me a feel-good feeling. It’s like melting chocolate to the mind.  As soon as we enter the Anechowkoor border gate, my husband will say do you feel the change? Then I would add I was about to ask you!! The sight, the smell & the sounds stirring suddenly awakens something coiled up somewhere perhaps in a Pandora’s box. Nostalgic memories are unique to each individual, once a Lebanese colleague of mine told me, you will not believe me if I say I love the smell of burning garbage… it’s the smell of childhood freedom from before the Civil War. Now if I see anywhere the burning garbage, her face pops in front of me reminding the word freedom!

Even though I keep visiting India, I have been away from home for too long & so much has happened in between & unfortunately the total scenario is different today. What Kodagu once was seems like from a different dimension altogether. Kodagu, once the green paradise is painting a different scenario today. I had to make trips to Mangalore, Kodagu & Chennai within a short span lately & the change in topography made me wonder if there is something seriously wrong somewhere.

While driving from Mysuru to Kodagu almost all the keres (lakes) have dried up. Belikere, once filled with original pink lotus dried up more than a decade ago but many others have joined the wagon in recent years. The big kere near Periapatna which always stood the test of time has lost its battle. So does many small ones. Some of them practically bone dry without a trace of its past. So what is going to be the future? There is practically no flow in the pole (rivers) & todu (creeks), the wells are showing the signs of drying unless they are close to the rivers. The Lakshmana Tirtha River flowing through Hunsur looks like a river from Mars with big boulders popping out & the almost stagnant water exploding with unlimited green weeds. I have no idea if it is good as it prevents the evaporation or if it is bad which might contaminates the drinking water. On the other hand the South Canara seemed greener & the lakes still wet, if not in a larger scale.

The scenario from Bangalore to Chennai is worlds apart & paints a different story. Most of the water clogged paddy fields are green & smiling with freshly transplanted paddy. More over almost all the Lakes are alive & pleasure to tired eyes. Some of the lakes might be fed from the Kaveri River but I am sure all of it is not. Even though Chennai is warmer than Kodagu, the evaporation seems to be less… that means it’s not Mr. Sun to be blamed but the depleting ground water level. So why is it losing the ground water so rapidly?

On the 11th of February 2017, we traveled from Madikeri to Mythadi around 11:30 pm after attending a wedding. The visibility on the way was almost near zero making it very, very difficult to drive. However I was happy to see the fog (or mist?) but when realized that the fog was sans moisture I could not believe my eyes. It was the first time I saw something like that as fog & mist known to me always left droplets on the plants & grass which gleamed like diamond in the rising sun, windows & wind screen. The weather pattern is surely changing.

River Kaveri originating from Kodagu joined by several tributaries becomes the life line of Karnataka & the Tamil Nadu. If the source is dried up or supply is curtailed then both drinking water as well as the crops will be disastrous. So I had to make a trip to KRS to check for myself the status of water level. In front of the nearby petrol station, the Nale (canal) seems to be barren & someone (a trader) was using the bridge to dry their consignment of blankets or carpets while hung as a colourful display as the herd of goats walked past with their herder. There were few transplanted wet lands dotting here and there. The dam level has retreated drastically & a gang of young men in trunks who had gone to take a dip were seen as little dots. On the way to new Kannambadi, a little drama was amalgamated on a pool of water with water tankers (supplying drinking water) moved on the rugged surface shaking its butt, men & women washed their cloths, someone was having bath, while someone else washed the buffalo, yet another washed the vehicles, as what seemed like few army personnel looked on. God protect the ones who drink that tanker water!! Meanwhile as usual my husband & I argued over taking a picture!

On the rugged tar road, 3 men were drying the hurali kalu (pulse) in the old fashioned way depending on the occasional vehicles going to the new Gopala swamy temple. We had a chat with them & as well as a group of men & women from the nearby village who came to spend time at the new temple (idols are not consecrated yet). They were telling there is no water in the bore well & new ones even upto 500 feet no water!

Even though certain level can be seen in the reservoir how much of the water can really be used? How much of it is silt deposit? No one can tell precisely.. sadly I don’t see any where anyone is controlling the consumption of water… seems like business as usual & everyone virtually behaves like there is no tomorrow.

Interestingly the Kukkahalli keri within the premises of Mysore University Campus, home to many migratory aquatic birds, which used to be full for as long as I can remember is been shrinking drastically. Inspite of that there are plans to turn it into money making machine by introducing boating, kayaking, etc. Bangalore is gone to dogs with the greed of blind politicians & builders, & ever increasing human waste & plastic. Sadly Mysore seems to be the next victim…

While I was growing up, my dear Kodagu had a good environmental balance. This balance was achieved by practicing harmony with the nature & flora & fauna in the form of a good relationship between human settlements, forests & water resources. The traditional cultivation of cardamom & coffee had kept the trees standing tall. The floor of the cardamom plantation never even saw sun light in the mid afternoon… kept the moisture safe {of course along with umbulu (leech)}. Deva-kadu (sacred groves) along with the reserved forest by the government made the district green & kept the fresh air intact. Punda pada (Bamboo bush) along the River & Creek banks kept the water from heavy evaporation & the banks being eroded. The expanse of paddy cultivation helped the ground to absorb the water leisurely along with the grass from the plains acting like sponge to retain the rain water. Cattle grazing maintained the bane (plains) like mowed landscape along with producing milk & organic fertilizer.

Birds sang & bees buzzed… The beautiful sound of everything happened around at dawn & dusk were a synchronized/rhythmic act of people & the nature in harmony. Evening watching the flock of birds flying home was a feast to eyes & their murmuration echoing around still echoes in my ears. The sunset had its own rhythm with the walking home of the herds of the cattle, mothers sometimes calling for their calves & the gante-mani (bell in the neck) ringing along their movements & the cicadas announcing their presence with tymbals. Early morning along with the fresh cool breeze came in the dawn chorus of birds creating an unusual melodious symphony with so many different specifies, as if they competed with each other in announcing to the universe I am the happiest & I am the happiest… the drops of water collected on the leaf of grass from the night long mist gleamed on the early morning sun like diamond with myriad of colours…

However sadly the entire scenario has almost vanished or vanishing into thin air like the moistureless mist I experienced on 11th February 2017 night. Now the excessive use of artificial fertilizers & pesticides seems to have not only sucked the insects & birds but also the land out of its natural immunity along with increased usage of land with ever increasing population. Cattles are a thing of the past & even the crows do not come for the rice offering for the soul.

So where does the fault line lies? Whom to blame for this environmental disaster? The human lives have become like the plastic flowers without smell or texture or soul. Should we blame the people who have changed everything around them in the name of modernization? Should we blame the pesticides & artificial manure & the countless hybrids popping around? Should we blame the increasing tourism & the ever increasing garbage & plastic? Should we blame the politicians for the greed of money-power-votes changed the scenario or the sand mafia or the paper making & matchbox making or uncontrolled population growth? I remember my parents grumbling every time a loaded timber or bamboo lorry passed by making a heavy engine sound while climbing uphill… there goes another load & mercilessly cutting the mother’s womb, chopped as if their father had planted them.

Either the strategic importance of Kodagu is underestimated or it is utter ignorance & short sighted, the use-misuse-abuse on Kodagu haven’t seems to be ending any time soon. Sadly in 2015 the state government played havoc with Tippu Jayanthi, hurting the psyche of the Kodavas & death of an innocent person in the name of vote banking drama. Now they want railways then high tension wire to pass through which will result in tree felling & link the streams & rivers, perhaps flooding part of the Kodagu in the bargain… The unreasonable state government (blinder than Kaurava parents) plans does not seems to ending any time sooner. There is a say that one life is not enough to make all the mistakes & learn from it… I think it’s time to use the God given common sense & work wisely than filling their coffers.

Last but not the least, to add further from old fashioned thinking, there is a belief in Kodava culture that Goddess Kaveri had promised them to keep Kodagu blessed with all her grace as long the Kodavas lived there. Now that many Kodavas moved out of Kodagu & also the traditional culture seems to be taking a big U turn. Did the rush to modernization & beautification of Talacauvery back fire?

Or perhaps a major earth quake is brewing underneath? Or perhaps even heather to unknown underground volcano sucking the moisture? Whatever may be the reason if the rain God does not smile on us, & no proper planning for the future (whatever left of it) is done, Karnataka’s future is seems bleak… no drinking water.. no food.. no electricity.. while the population fought with each other, the jobless politicians can either sleep or instigate naked rain dance.

Changing FACE of India… a visit to Mangaluru & back

January 28th 2017, I was traveling to Mangalore after almost two decades. The last time we wanted to go on that road for a monsoon drive some years ago, but the road was so bad & on top of it a lorry filled with haystack had toppled blocking the road for almost a day! My chauffeur cum bodyguard husband refused to go an inch further & with great difficulty managed to turn the car back. But this time it was a pleasure. The roads are good with the completion of the highway No.88 (Mysore-Bantwala). Had nice cup of coffee at Coffee Day which was almost empty near Sulya along with 5-youngsters in their Mitsubish Pajro sports & we stopped for lunch in Managalore at Giri Manja’s. My nephew-in-law highly recommended the place & insisted I taste the Mangalorean fish dishes there. But he was doubtful if my husband would be comfortable in that small little cramped place.

Finally we parked the vehicles besides the flower market & walked a distance to the restaurant near Kalikamba temple… well not exactly a restaurant… located beside a road of about 12 feet including the pavement… as both sides of the road used as a parking place for two wheelers. Small cars, rickshaws, cycles, people, etc., etc… were plying as a little queue formed to get into the restaurant inside a little house of yester years with tiny windows which had seen better days. It seems BBC travel rated the place as the one of the top five best places to eat in India! Interestingly 20 meters away across the road stood yet another Giri Manja’s in a new building & the food was also carried from this old restaurant itself. However, no one went there & waited here as hungry dogs waiting for their bone. As one young teenager refused to eat there saying it was too dark and ugly & was grumbling with his parents, yet another one came out saying it was heavenly food I ever ate…. Almost everyone was walking out wiping the sweat!

After about 20 minutes, finally we went inside & it reminded me of my childhood days when during the small function at the ancestral homes particularly during the monsoon, small benches were used for seating & tall benches were used as tables. Even before the soiled plates were removed & the place was cleaned, we both sat there lest we lose our turn as the other five waited for the other occupants to vacate their seats. One of the young men from our group knew the cook at the restaurant. Then came Anantha, our waiter for the day. When I asked him what was the specialty of the house, he assured us don’t worry, just tell which fish you want & what rice (boiled or normal) you want & I will do the rest. And he did & suggested dishes to share between the seven of us. It was so yummy, reasonably priced & even after eating so much none of us felt heavy too. Luckily one last plate of prawn biryani was available which we shared between us. Fish cooked in coconut oil complimenting & suppressing the fishy flavour was a delight to the pallets. If you ever go to Managlore don’t miss a meal there. It’s worth every paise you pay!

Mangalore (Anglicization of Mangaluru, which is named after Goddess Mangaladevi) for some reason reminded me of a modern version of Colombo, Sri Lanka. People are kind & friendly too. When I asked about the water supply, the Uber driver said: Amma people of Mangaluru has become smart by drinking sweet water which is so very abundant!! Perhaps Goddess Managaladevi did bless the land with abundance & happiness.

On our way back we wanted to visit Kukke Subramanya temple. The drive is beautiful surrounded by plenty of greenery & hills at a distance. Finally we made it to the thousand year old temple, now managed by Muzarai department of Government of Karnataka. Well organized & plenty of police personnel to guide people, the devotees had one small problem: You don’t get enough time to see the deity! Even before I could see how the flower decked amazing idol really looked, I had to move! I know that according to Indian culture the God lives within us but I wanted to see the beautiful idol too… Unfortunately education once given free, hospitals & now even the God is become commercial… Sadly many temples have become golden goose for the government. Surrounding of the temple could have maintained better too.

On our way another interesting thing was the mushrooming of minarets. Throughout the highway, perhaps every couple of kilometers – I simply lost count of those looking towards the sky painted mostly in green & half white. Seems like the do-gooder petrodollar indeed spreading magic carpet effect. Black gold from across the ocean has brought property for some parts of India too… I was joking with my husband what if US President Donald Trump happened to go on that road, perhaps the heat generated from both inside the car as well as the buildings outside would surpass the summer of Kuwait!!

Somewhere between my working life & retirement… the time known to me seems to have elapsed… giving birth to a new order. People even debate over the religion & attire of Statue of Liberty! It’s odd that every where man is futilely looking & holding & crying & sacrificing self (& others) – for & in the name of God, while they themselves have pushed God into the dark corners of their own heart. For some unknown reason it reminded me of my visit to Amsterdam where the Churches are being turned into discos & restaurants for lack of devotees…

When I came home my dear old friend & ex-colleague from Cochin had sent an interesting video on Funeral Event Management…Wow. Its common in India that some communities hire professional wailers & dancers to perform in front of dead bodies depending upon their beliefs… if death & departing is sad for some … for some others it’s the beginning of a new life… continuation of the cycle of birth & death rolling endlessly which calls for a celebration. With the event management (said to cost anywhere between 5 to 10 lakhs) the ugly truth reflects similarities to how the youngsters are given all the expensive toys such the mobiles & games etc., etc., to play with by their busy parents to compensate for not spending the quality time. Now the departed souls are given a grand funeral for not being there when they were needed… I could not understand if it was love or the vulgar display of wealth. It is said that the human brain has stopped growing… I think it’s the heart/feeling that is shrinking while the fauna is getting wiser, smarter, kind & understanding… after all man is a mysterious being, an enigma to himself.

Wondering what next? Facetime or whatsapp funeral…. It will be cost effective too hahahahha