Kodagu: Is her exceptional beauty & fertility becoming the cause her grave?

Earth quakes

The geography of Western Ghats is altered for good with the recent natural disaster/landslides that flattened hills and attracted worldwide attention. As man stood helpless, disaster struck between 12th and 19th August 2018 when unprecedented amounts of rainfall caused irreparable damage to the land mass and misery to the people of Kodagu, scarring them for life. More than the loss of property, it was the pain of the people who lost their near and dear ones, in some cases people disappeared without a trace. Is Mother Nature angry or man himself is the cause of the catastrophe?

Only July 22, it was reported that cracks had developed for a distance of two kilometer at Monnangeri in Galibeedu grama panchayati of Madikeri at 5,000 feet above sea level. It is said that a negligible crack had arisen at the spot some days back and it suddenly widened on Sunday 19th, creating wide spread panic among the villagers. Tahsildar of the taluk, rural police station house officer, geologists and other officials visited the spot to assess the development, who later said that the problem would subside one the rainfall recedes! The credit for the crack was given to the excessive percolation of water into the earth triggered by copious rainfall and that there is no chance of the earth suffering depression in the area. Perhaps the confident group of officials should have stayed with the villagers to record the developments.

The apprehensive villagers near the crack were accommodated in a school as a precautionary measure. It is noteworthy that in the yore Kodagu was known as the Chirapunji of South, my parents would say that they never saw sun light for days together. In early 60s, my grandfather’s coffee plantation was completely ruined due to heavy rains at Karthakad (Black forest). However, no such cracks were reported then in, at least not in living memory.

Why North Kodagu damage is higher than the South Kodagu.. Why are the hills collapsing? Were the signs too small to be noticed by the authorities? Or human understanding is too little? Is democracy only about who wins & retains power? There is one too many questions without answers… some say it is due to the earth quake in the neighbouring Kerala, if that is the case then why there were no such vast destruction of land or hills?

Kodagu, my beloved home land, where I spent all my childhood, pretending that I was a bird in heaven flying in the misty magical places, searching for wild fruits & berries, every bit of it so beautiful, so plentiful & always naturally air-conditioned. Nostalgic memories of which always brings a smile & warmth to my heart, today part of it lies in ruins shadowed by uncertainties. The incessant rains brought by the so called Somali-Jet-Streams randomly recurves (changing its course) resulting in unperceivable destruction of this beautiful piece of land which was known as the heaven on earth, Kashmir of South, Scotland of India. Though geographically limited in area, with captivating rugged mountainous landscape with lush vegetation, picturesque deep valleys and, shining waterfalls earning the nick name heaven on earth. For me it is just my beloved Kodagu, home of my mother Kaveri, my heart & mind refuses to believe or accept the damages.

Kodagu, birth place of River Kaveri is home to unique warrior race Kodavas with distinct way of life who consider themselves as the children of River Kaveri and treat her as Mother Superior. They even kept aside land known as sacred Devara Kadu in the name of God, which belong to the village and maintained natural flora and fauna.

Year after year, as an amazing display of Mother Nature’s magic, the life giving South-West monsoon travels 3,000 kilometers from its birth, off the Madagascar coast to Somalia from where it gets deflected to India to its retreat to Tibet in September & its final dissipation in Madagascar again. The wind that makes the journey aided by other elements of the nature, transcending continents, cultures & different climate is known as the Somali-Jet-Streams. Sadly the jet-stream gathered it momentum from the warm sea and decided to empty the load on Kodagu and Kerala. Raising global temperature, melting of ices has changed the weather patterns around the world due to man’s action-inaction-over action.

Rain is nothing new to Kodagu & though intensity had diminished in recent years due to various factors,. Even when I was growing up, rains were heavy & season was longer & we even got more than 3-weeks rainy season holidays. Though there used to be floods & landslides, there never was case of hills being damaged or vanishing from the map. Unprecedented sight of landslides, land splitting apart, mushrooming waterfalls, cracking & collapsing roads, I never dreamt that one day I will be witnessing such vast destruction. So why is it happening?

Was the prolonged rainy season intensified by Somali-Jet, the only cause of this destruction some of which are as bad as ground-zero? Would Mother Nature hurt her children without reason? Was there any warning? How much man has contributed? Sadly Man has been provoking & abusing the Mother Nature in the name of progress, tourism & votes…. Though like every good mother, Mother Nature is tolerant & tried to warn, water God Varuna, said to be responsible for natural & moral orders of the cosmos seems to have determined to tighten the noose of chastisement, on man. Or is the global warming sole responsible around the world?

Living in Kuwait I have experienced tremors five times in my life. It was actually the effects from the high density earth quake in nearby Iran. Interestingly my husband never felt it in his life –no I am not a torturous wife. At one time I was in the office and after I felt the shaking, I went around asking most of my colleagues in the 2nd floor from 3 different departments. To my surprise only handful had felt it. Another time it was in the afternoon and I was skyping with my daughter. I was sitting with my left foot on the floor and the other one on the left thigh. Suddenly the right leg was pushed down with force and I was shocked, wondering what was happening…it is then that I saw the house plants shaking violently. My husband was not home. I called my friend Dr. Asha who was at home, she came near and I asked her did you feel the earth quake? She laughed and said are you dreaming? I showed the shaking plants behind as she stood dumb stuck… the plants were still shaking much after the incident. I have no idea whether it was because the pots were near the balcony or if the plants are very sensitive or perhaps because the earth is the base for its very being. In any case plants and animals experience more than we do. Though the news of the tremor appeared in the newspaper, most of my friends and colleagues never felt it.

Monday 9th July 2018, I was in my friend’s garden at Guddehosur (Kushalnagar) searching for mushrooms, when I heard a loud noise at 12:45 pm but did not really feel the tremor. My friend confirmed it & also said there was tremor. Suntikoppa, Somwarpet, Shanthalli, parts of Madikeri of Kodagu, Hassan, Chickmagaluru &, Sulya Taluk of Dakshnia Kannada felt & the rattling furniture & utensils caused panic among the residents forcing them out of their homes. It was also felt in Kerala. Later in the social media someone said it was 4.5 & someone else said 3.4.

Sunday 19th August 2018, unconfirmed reports reported two tremors felt between 7:45 & 7:51 am, at Napoklu, Ballamavati, Cheriyaparumbu, Pulikotu & other surrounding areas. Scared resident ran out of their homes. The other reports below were collected from the local news paper reporting as well as hear say. As there is no official confirmation, it’s difficult to stress on it. Many unofficial reporting of tremors and noise within that week were floating around.

Tuesday September 12, 2017, Star of Mysore reports: The residents of Napoklu and surrounding were in for an early morning shock as they felt two mild tremors between 7.45 am & 7.51 am. Tremors were felt at Napoklu, Ballamavati, Cheriyaparumbu, Pulikotu & other surrounding areas. Soon as the tremors were felt, the residents, fearing for their lives, came out of their houses. It may be recalled that mild tremors measuring 3.9 magnitudes on Richter scale were felt in some parts of Sullia and Puttur taluks in DK and also in parts of Kodagu on June 4 early this year.

Sunday October 14, 2015 a 3.9 magnitude earthquake shook Sullia at 2:21 pm causing panic & the tremors were felt in neighbouring Chikmagalur (Mudigere, Aldur, & Avathi), Hassan (Sakleshpur & Belur taluks) & Kodagu (Madikeri) districts. However there was no report of injuries or damage.

Wednesday April 27th 2011, Mild tremors measuring 1.6 to 1.9 on the Richter scale, shook homes for about ten seconds in Madikeri city at 10.53 a.m., triggering panic among citizens as they rushed out of their houses, some claiming falling of utensils, window panes shaking violently, feeling the vibration along the walls, loud explosive noise akin to a boulder rolling down or a booming sound passed under the earth, etc. The editor of local Kannada daily Shakthi said that following the tremor, newspaper bundles rolled out of the vehicle parked outside the newspaper office. However, the intensity was mild & no damage of life or property.. Social media claim of Houses developing cracks were authentic or not is not clear.

June 2005, there was a mild earthquake in the Somwarpet region in which several houses were damaged.

These were previous cases of tremor & sounds from earth which were was not given much importance. In all the cases not everyone felt the tremors or heard the noise. Perhaps the frequency was different or the usual din & roar of the mundane life never made them feel. The news of earth quake during the 15 days period of rain havoc was considered as rumours.

Interestingly State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre never recorded any such activities in the above mentioned quakes, perhaps because the intensity was less than two, what is known as micro-tremor. Micro-tremor is said to be a low amplitude ambient vibration of the ground caused by man-made or atmospheric disturbances. It is also said that such tremors are common in Kodagu & Chikmagalur. Though tremors were mild, coupled with sound it was strong enough to create panic among the residents. Why the series of occurrences & complaints were neglected? Did the district authorities note the complaints? Were the signs ignored? Or over confident government combined with step-motherly treatment to the district did not pause & think about the consequences? It will remain a million dollar question.

In an earth quake, the location of the epicenter (the point on the earth’s surface vertically above the focus of an earthquake) will have more influence and effect than the magnitude itself. Shallower the epicent higher the damage. I guess since the records will never be made public, no one will ever know.

Sadly already State and central governments having differences, parties within the state having differences, like the say goes when husband and wife fights, the child suffers. At the cost of disaster at Kodagu, every Tom, Dick & Harry raising funds & materials in the name of disaster, & in the bargain even diverting it elsewhere including their own pockets, shadowing the genuine work done by Good Samaritan. Interesting I saw someone kept a box to collect fund for Kodagu on the mori at Kukkarahalli lake for 2 days!

Sensible scientist Madhav Gadgil Committee report or the little milder space scientist Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats did not see the day light as the Karnataka & Kerala state governments had their own vested interests. And the proposed railway project is hanging in the midair like Trishanku. Man has short term memory & I wonder if the ISRO report will make any difference?

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PM Modi’s effect…. Swach Bharat, itchy hands and leaky members…..

While in Mysore, I like to do two things religiously every morning: one is go to Kukkarahalli-kere (lake) and the second is to drink tender coconut right after. One fine morning in mid January when I landed in Mysore, I was happy to see mass cleaning on the South side of the lake. Then, I saw the road in front of the Crawford hall closed as the road was being widened and everywhere spick and span.

I was telling my husband the MUDA (Mysore Urban Development Authority) was really taking a sudden interest in keeping the city clean. Guess they are vying to claim their title of “India’s cleanest city” back. When I stopped for my tender coconut, my husband said there were hardly any coconuts and it must be from the previous day.

When I asked the old man who cuts the tender coconut, he said boss is not bringing more.

I asked him why?

He said because of PM Modi’s arrival….

I was surprised and told him, PM Modi came to Bengaluru and why the boss is not bringing in Mysuru?

Showing his missing teeth, he said I don’t know Amma….

He is an innocent hired villager and he had told me that on a good day he sells up to 150 tender coconuts. He had also told me that weekly his boss pays Mamuli (usual bribe) to three different persons and every Sunday they come religiously to collect. If someone is around that time they will wait till the coast is clear and then collects it!

Later I spoke to his boss and he confirmed what the old man had said and gave me the list too.

Someone from Abhai (MUDA) collects Rs.300, traffic police Rs.300 and another police collects Rs.100. So Rs.700 total weekly payment. He also told me that they will drink tender coconut and if they find it fresh they will also pack 2 each to take it home! (Each tender coconut costs Rs.25).

Sad there is always room for black money and different avenues and channels available…

After two days the old man was moving his cart when we stopped by. He said Amma we are not allowed to sell on the pavement, the municipality people warned us and told us to stay away until after PM Modi’s visit on 18th and 19th of February 2018. Swachh Survekshan people will inspect…

So the mamuli does have its benefits and the less stocking was not because of the previous visit but preparation for the future visit… the whole system is a vicious circle and goes back to the roots…

I was also told that the cleanup operation and kicking the peddlers out was limited to the route PM Modi will be taking. I hear there are no rooms available at Lalith Mahal Palace hotel as it’s fully booked by a retired bureaucrat for his son’s wedding. So from where ever PM Modi is staying (mostly Radisson Blu)… going to Railway station and then to Maharaja’s College ground, the order will be maintained…

Wish PM Modi also visited the Kukkarahalli Lake so that the human waste coming in to the lake would stop and the little paradise would shine further.

Cleaning also brought to my mind the leaky privates some men sport besides the charandi (ditch at the kere)… or even in other open places. To this day I wonder why they can’t simply go at home before they set out on their journey. Interestingly I don’t see poor people doing that or a villager doing that. The middle class who travels in two wheelers or cars does that. Why do they really do it? Do they want assurance that their man hood still intact. Or is it just force of habit?

Wonder what might discourage them to do it? Does it help if everyone starts clicking their pictures in action and start posting in the social media… if they are shameless to do what they do why not take the picture?

Sadly there is this small breed of specimens who considers themselves as the leaders in such smelly business and presume their action justified. I see there is only one place remains which poses competition in this respect… however there is a minor difference. There the specimens have four legs. It’s at the world’s foremost city… Manhattan, New York. City of dogs, where the dogs are treated better even than the children or spouses.

The handsome, fancy dogs in leash, taken for walk, is a feast to the eye and the love and affection they receive is enviable. This perhaps is the reason they are also tolerated when they pee around. Most of the time their poop is collected and disposed but no effort is done to stop the pee. Everywhere they sport the little boards: Please Curb your Dogs… wonder what could be the befitting board for the educated fools here? A question and comparison which bothers me whenever I am in Manhattan!

The other city, the city of love which had the long standing tradition of drink and wild peeing, since before the day of Napoleon has finally put an end to the adventure and tradition with the introduction of Uritrottoir. Well you guessed it right, it’s Paris. Wild peeing was another tradition along with haute cuisine and chic fashion, they were wilder than the leaky dicks in India. So when will we be able to call it quits in India?

The Drunkard’s dozen, and one for the 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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