Rain havoc in Western Ghats… Scientific and unscientific or non-scientific reasoning….

This article is purely based on my perception and understanding of the Nature and Indian culture.

Huyo.. huyo.. maleraya huvina totake neerilla (pour, pour rain king there is no water for the flower garden..) a song we all sang and played in the rain while growing up. Now the situation in Kerala and Karnataka is such that one has to sing nillo.. nillo.. maleraya kudiyoke neerilla (stop, stop rain king there is no water to drink). Sadly after four years of draught, rain god has unleashed his fury with a bang like the minor version of big-bang. Ativrushti and anavrushti (too much or too little falling from heaven), both are purely under the control of nature and no matter what one cannot control it.

Both Kerala (nick named God’s own country) and Karnataka are part of Western Ghats. The Western Ghats or Sahyadri (benevolent) Mountain range along the Western side of India, which was formed more 150 million years ago during Gondwana split-up and is older than the mighty Himalayas. The range starts near the Gujarat and Maharashtra border and runs approximately 1,600 KMS through Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala till Kanyakumari.

Irrigated by healthy monsoons, Western Ghats was a dense tropical forest and the canopy was always wet. These ancient well balanced hills form a catchment area for complex riverine drainage system and were filled with tall remarkable trees, giant bamboo clusters, medicinal plants, flora and fauna. The area had over 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species recorded. The UNESCO world heritage site is one of the eight hotspots of biological diversity in the world.

But nothing has stopped man from meddling in Mother Nature’s affair. Due to ignorance and greed, destruction and death on the Western Ghats, which Mother Nature nursed and nurtured so very carefully over thousands of years has been going on over a period of time. But now it is slipped into fast forward motion which I have witnessed in my life time. Flora and fauna is pushed into extinction faster than the food is being digested in the stomach! Even the insects including the major pollinator the honey bee population is practically wiped out. Sight of sands on the river banks has become a luxurious sight! Karnataka and Kerala are strange bed mates and are poles apart in ideology but vested interests are common. After all they are human.. For some personal gains of few people, it’s been massacred and continued to do so.

In 1947, the onslaught of endless invaders from Middle East to Mongolia who brought their looting, killing and messing up the religious beliefs finally ended. Unfortunately seven decades of independence we are still held hostage by few powerful ruthless politicians and dynasties. Regrettably there are few individuals, in the name of religion and politics doesn’t lag behind too. Innocent people become victims of party wars and religious propaganda.

Aiding and abating is equally sinful as committing a crime. Like how both the states seems to be competing on who gets more rain, they competed in victimizing the people too. When politicians makes Kodagu a battle ground for votes, men armed with whatever they can afford comes to do dadagiri from Kerala too…. For example when an innocent man was hunted down and killed in broad day light in front of thousands of people within the hospital premises, even before his body was cooled down completely the verdict on killing was passed sitting in a faraway place, perhaps the fasted verdict on record. This is the fate of our beloved country… murder, rape, corruption has reached almost to the point of no return. At times, even a demon king shines dim in front of some deeds.

Now the scientific reason… over the years Mother Nature has been used, misused and abused by man, continuing to do so. Even when I was growing up the situation was not that bad. Even the Kasturirangan committee report sought to balance the development and environment protection of Western Ghats never saw the day light.

Unfortunately Man has short memory and he never learns from history. There is a limit to the tolerance of the most tolerant, the beloved Mother Nature. Unless the children/children are reformed from time to time, they will surely go wayward. How much of an imbalance is being created in recent years can be compared with the picture of Kodagu and its forest using the following report as benchmark even with habitation after establishing Madikeri.

When Tippu Sultan came to Kodagu in summer, he was also accompanied by officers and Munshi, who were shocked to experience the climatic conditions, forest, cold and rains in Kodagu. The weather was such that Tipu Sultan’s soldiers imprisoned themselves inside the fort to keep warm. A historian who accompanied him writes about Kodagu in his words. Since they were in a new place and new atmosphere, he could give a better picture than a local who was bred there.

What can I say about the amazingly wild land? Just uttering or spelling the words, the pen shivers. The bamboo bushes like the Abyssinian sheep fur, curled and impossible to penetrate. Both the large paths (cart-ways) and small paths (footways) are like passing through the stars in the sky. This country’s hills and valleys are impossible to pass through. On the taggu bhoomi (flat land), paddy crops are as tall as the chest level. Sun, even though hotter-than-hot thyself always covers himself with clouds being afraid of the cold in Kodagu, hurries along and departs early from here. Every night the fast traveling moon seeks cover under the blue sky. If summer is like this, then God only have to save us in rainy season.

The rainy season, for six months in all of this country it rains so much that the entire land is filled with water in such a way like a sad person’s eyes filled with water all the time. From evening till after the sun rise, the valley is filled with heavy mist. Lots of tall, well built, active young men, losing their body heat with bone biting cold, sleeps like an arched bow pulling their body close to their chest.  For six months, farmers cover with thick cloth or old blanket from head to toe and work nine to ten hours. During this season, the leeches from the trees and branches suck enough blood from them and their cattle before letting them go. While describing the condition of Kodagu, the hand that holds the pen is frozen like the hand dipped in the frozen icy sea. When the weather is being explained, the tongue safe within the lips feels like the ice berg with fear and astonishment!

Let us look at it in the non-scientific angle. Kerala is said to be created by the axe carrying warrior sage Parsurama, the Sixth Avatara of Lord Vishnu. He is supposed have thrown his axe and the sea receded covering the distance it covered. No wonder there are thousands of temples for the size of Kerala. In short the legend goes that:

His birth claimed to be to quell the oppression of the then ruling Kshatriyas. When he finished the blood filled five lakes! Burdened by the sins of killing, he approached an assembly of learned men to find a way for penitence. He was advised that, to save his soul from damnation, he must hand over the war gains to noble and pious people and meditate at Gokaranam. Doing so in Gokaranam, Varuna, the god of ocean/rain and Bhudevi, Goddess of Earth blessed him.

Once free of his sins, from Gokaranam he walked upto Kanyakumari and threw his axe northward across the ocean. The place where the axe landed is Kerala. According to the old measures it was 160 Katam. Earlier Kerala was known as Parasurama Kshetram or in Sanskrit Aitareya Aranyaka. Later when King Keralian Thamboran ruled it got its name Kerala. There are some people who also say, when desert dwelling Arabs landed on the shores of Kerala they were mesmerized by the beauty and said Kair-alla (gift of God) and hence the name.

Then there is the world famous harvest festival Onam, in the honour of benevolent Asura (demon) utopian King Mahabali, the great grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grandson of Prahlada and son of Virochana who was wise, judicious and extremely generous. But that legend is from Lord Vishnu’s Vamana (dwarf) avatara. However, both the legends are related to the arrival of Lord Vishnu.

Santana dharma, the oldest philosophical school of thoughts has given us not just a book but a library to learn. It teaches us to respect Mother Nature and live in harmony with every living being in the universe.

Indian culture believes that every element in the universe created by the creator has sagacity. That’s why the philosophy says God in me is God everywhere. God is not an individual entity sitting in a far off place probably known as heaven but we are all inside him, he is part of us. Mother Nature is the manifested form of the God. Like a fish in the ocean we dwell within him in his unmanifested form. The very spark of life which makes us alive, the very breath we take which when stops we die, is the very presence God. (Sorry these explanations come from my limited knowledge and I cannot explain more).

Based on that Indian culture says water carries memory. Now scientists say that under certain circumstances water can retain a memory of solute particles after arbitrarily large dilution. Water memory is the purported ability of water to retain a memory of substance previously dissolved in it even after an arbitrary number of serial dilutions. So if we think in that term then is the water claiming its property which was taken forcibly?

Scientists gave up searching for the God particles even though they claimed finding it and spent billions and billions of something to be scraped! So is there a force beyond our understanding capacity? What our forefathers found and tried to explain has some essence in it? Is there a secret buried or hidden in Western Ghats which cannot be disturbed? Is it time to learn to respect the privacy of Mother Nature?

Then there is Naga, the serpent people who is supposed to live underground. There is no logical explanation as no one has seen them in the living memory but it appears in Indian scriptures. A remnant of it still lives in Indian culture as Naga Panchami (it was on August 15th). While building the new airport, yet to be commissioned, the once sacred grove of serpents was claimed by man forcing them to seek shelters in people’s home. Deeming homeless over night after thousands of years, Mother Nature wants people to taste the same?

In the home front, whatever is happening in Vidhanasoudha, the New Chief is not sleeping during the session but has been knocking on the doors of every Gods within reach! In 80 days of power ONLY 42 temples are visited.. so more begging in front of God than….. Its noteworthy that sadly the movement of Indian politicians disrupts the normal life as if a green corridor is made for a organ carriage, including in holy places.

Scientific or unscientific of nonscientific, it’s a wakeup call for all the citizens of Mother India, to wake up and live in harmony with all the living beings, with utmost priority to the welfare of the nation and fellow living beings. To use the God given commonsense instead of being influenced by propaganda of imaginary differences, outside forces, social media, etc. Come out of the Religious intolerance in the name of unseen God, no one can ever show God to anyone or give ticket to heaven. If they could do it then what are they still doing here provoking others to act bad to fulfill their own personal ego than going to their favourite destination? All-pervading God is an not object to see or hold, no one can see the God one can only feel or sense the presence of God. Unless this is done we will be dragging the rock on our own feet.

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Legends related to Mrs. & Mr. Hoopoe…

According to Middle Eastern legend, Mr. Hoopoe was an explorer, spy & personal messenger of none other than the wise King Solomon himself. The story in brief out of many goes that, Hoopoe was sent on one of the many months long mission to spread the message of King Solomon & to gather intle on his rivals. No wonder though elusive, Mossad is one of the best spy agencies in the world! Somehow Mr. Hoopoe was delayed with his mission & was late to reach King Solomon’s bird consortium. King Solomon said to have reviewed the birds & said: why do I not see the hoopoe, or is he of those absent? I shall surely punish him severely or slay him, or he must come to me with a clear excuse.

Mr. Hoopoe was not long in coming & it said, I have found out what you have not apprehended & I come to you from Sheba with tidings. The bird reported that Sheba was ruled by a powerful & wealthy queen Bilquis/Makeda who had a magnificent throne. But they worshipped the Sun, which disturbed King Solomon. (Queen of Sheba’s tale appears in Jewish, Islamic & Ethiopian legends with slight variations). King Solomon sent the hoopoe back to the Queen with a letter, inviting her & her people to the worship of the one true God he believed in.

Queen sent him all the ships of the sea loaded with precious gifts & 6000 youths of equal size, all born at the same hour & clothed in purple garments. They carried a letter declaring that she could arrive in Jerusalem within three years although the journey normally took seven year (wonder where was she traveling from? Probably from China or India? distance from Jerusalem to Egypt around 800 kilometers & to Ethiopia around 4,200 kms).

Finally Queen of Sheba visits him at Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, very much gold & precious stones to test his wisdom with array of riddles. When she arrived to Solomon’s palace, thinking that the glass floor was a pool of water, she lifted the hem of her dress, uncovering her legs. Solomon informed her of her mistake & reprimanded her for her hairy legs. {This as well as stealing the throne and his treatment of birds sounds really odd considering the belief that King Solomon was very wise, rich and was close to none other than his God thyself.}

She asked him her riddles & he answered them wisely. Meantime Solomon had managed to steal her beautiful throne with the help of a wise man & tells her it’s a replica when he shows it to her.

Later Queen of Sheba also gives birth to a baby boy. The boy Menelik I (meaning son of the wise) is the first Solomonic Emperor of Ethiopia, who ruled 950 BC). Ultimately, Queen of Sheba renounced idolatry & joined Solomon in worshiping God.

Further the story of Hoopoe earning of crown goes… once King Solomon was travelling in the heat of the sun and called upon the vultures to shield him from its fierce rays. But the vultures were too busy to come to his rescue. Angered by this King Solomon cursed them & as the result God removed their feathers baring their neck. As King Solomon moved further, the sun got fiercer & sighting a flock of hoopoes along with their king, he called on them to shield him. Which they obliged & escorted the king & his entourage till the sunset. Pleased Solomon offered a reward which the King Hoopoe declined at first as they were merely doing their duty. But upon King Solomon’s insistence, went to consult the queen Hoopoe and as per her wish asked for the crown so that they could look very beautiful.

As a result they were gifted with pure gold crowns with an option to take it back if they did not like it. Though looked magnificent, it came with a price as bird catchers started catching them for their valuable gold. With the heavy gold on their head slowing them down, they were easy prey too.. So King Hoopoe went to King Solomon requesting him to remove it. Wise king Solomon realizing that the bird catchers (humans) were after only gold, he made it into feathers. Anyways the beautiful Hoopoe finally succeeded in its mission & carries the crown forward, still hiding it most of the times.

Anyways… Considered wise & beautiful, yet a ceremonially unclean bird & scrappy, but the pro & cons of its hygiene & repulsive foul-smell creating habits particularly during the breeding season has baffled the scientists. In Leviticus 11:13-19, the hoopoe is among several creatures described as detestable, abhorrent and not to be eaten. Some consider it as a positive cultural symbol, while some consider it to symbolize murder and death and some consider it stupid. Interestingly this biblical bird, part of the Middle Eastern, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Greek, etc., folklores had been a friend/emissary/messenger for none other than wise King Solomon himself to Queen of Sheba!

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!

cow.jpg

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.

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

Manhattan and Mahabharata – Kali or Dajjal? (Part 1)

Prediction for Kali-Yuga & Who is the Son of God, the savior of the earth??

A fiction based on a dream like experience… To understand why the different beliefs & names of some countries appear in this article, please read till the concluding part… any feedback on this is much appreciated & could be added to the article..

“Kali Yuga started with Gold, continued to be fueled by Black Gold (Petrol) & will end with white gold (sweet Water).”

It is said that “What is in the Mahabharata can be found elsewhere, but what is not in the Mahabharata cannot be found anywhere.” Mahabharata has covered everything under the sun what we have heard & what we would perhaps hear in the future!! Something one can ever dream off, from ultimate atomic weapon with the knowhow to call it back, to growing babies outside the womb, to woman having sex change, & then capable of fathering a child as a man, to keeping a head alive after being separated from the body, to revive a dead child in the womb!! Mahabharata has a network of well-connected stories taking its reader through a maze where many lives of the same person is depicted projecting the cause & effect very clearly: information which is enough to cover the length & breadth of the universe!!

The same seems to apply to New York’s Manhattan: what you don’t find in Manhattan you perhaps can never find elsewhere!! Take a journey with me to put the pieces of puzzle together to know Manhattan is the place where Mr. Kali will dwell & who is the yellow clad Son of God, who could be the one finally to subdue him!!

It’s about 2 am & I am awake as I could literally hear my daughter in law with a childlike enthusiasm & smile whisper in my years: “Mavi”, (Mother in law) “look, its KALIYUGA”.  I wondered how it could be… she is sleeping downstairs with her husband & me here with my husband next to me. Then strangely the day’s events started falling together in DETAIL.

I had heard it before couple of hours ago in the evening of September 11, 2016 at Central Park as she moved quickly towards me in a Mayan Aztec style top & red short skirts as her little purple tote bag made a sound similar to a calf’s bell in the neck. As she walked behind me & my son along with my husband with her, chirping like a bird offering us horse carriage rides or juice or tempting with deserts at Plaza, the bell sound followed me around. Seemed like she had a big list in her mind to offer us!

I love Central Park; it always makes me happy. For me it’s not the Times Square or the shopping or the sprawling B-M-W bridges but the soulful Central Park is the most attractive place in New York. I remember the last visit in 2015, few hours before our departure, I had dragged my unwilling husband for a small walk & ran inside to capture its soul, an eternal melody from the past played by the Native Indians.

As usual my son started explaining to me the new strange scenario (or phenomenon?) when I asked him what was that special thing happening under the Golden Lady at the Grand Army Plaza? The Sherman Monument was surrounded by a mass of down cast humans which kept growing as the time passed. I remembered the first day of summer at Boston couple of years ago where the entire Bostonians seemed congregated at the park celebrating the arrival of Mr. Sun after a long cold winter.

My son laughed & said Mum, it’s the new video game from Nintendo called Pokémon Go. Someone with a simple idea making a whole lot of money. Pokémon (pocket monsters), free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game by Niantic. Monsters are kept in magic containers called Pokeball & one has to capture the maximum so that they can be trained to fight each other. Displayed on your smartphone screen, which you catch at a specific location or PokeStops. In the real word it seems to have swept many nations across capturing the human imagination…. & supposed to have guided the players to commit crime, death, accidents, etc., etc.…..

I said oh…. It seems to have made virtual slaves of both young & old alike. I remember reading that Japan banned it after a death & few countries including Kuwait has banned it too. As we moved, the crowd seemed increasing. Every pair of eyes focused on the mobile screen unaware of their own presence. Some stood, some sat & some followed the pull of what on the screen I had absolutely no idea. I told him can you please take picture & I can post with a simple caption. Otherwise my articles are always lengthy & many complain.. including you… let me surprise my readers. My son suddenly stops & looks at me with a grin & surprised eyes. He is my man with all the patience on Earth to explain things to me & tolerate me when I shout or advice even now!

He continued… how people are lead to Central Park to capture the virtual points. I could see People flocked, literally flocked like cattle or goat herd following the gadgets & the software like following Pied Piper, unaware of the presence of the next person just for a virtual free point. There was nothing tangible, not even a melody to follow… For me it was a sad sight….these were not the RATS but the REAL PEOPLE….

Homelessness & the power of Hope

 

People have different views & perspective towards life. Some are satisfied with what they have, while others  are too sensitive & long for comforts. If some hang on to their pride & ego, others would do any work for a living.

I saw 4-different youngsters in different parts of Manhattan {one right in front of Mr. Trump’s living quarters} holding banners that said If I have $20 I could find a room in the hostel & I could get a proper job or I could go to school or something like that.

I was forbidden by my family to take pictures… since it’s an apparent invasion of their privacy!! I fruitlessly argue with them that when they are physically fit & live in the land of opportunities & social security & still beg, why can’t I take picture? Many a times homelessness is forced on people by war or some kind of calamity which is really unfortunate. But in USA it’s not fair, infactI saw a young homeless man at Albuquerque (New Mexico), asking for help while holding a cardboard that read- “I am too honest to steal & too ugly for prostitution”!

Way back in 1990, my family and I, were homeless for 9-whole days. No home, no bath & we were exposed to fine dust storm in the desert No-man’s land between the Iraq-Jordan  A journey which takes less than 5 hours stretched to 9-days & nights! Being homeless is really sad & stressful…. Something like labour pain – it can only be experienced but can never be explained! The other day my daughter asked me Mum how can people live without a home? I think I would die if I become homeless… then I told her their time has not come for death… their Karma is still lingering on… more than that the word HOPE has a long reach. Hope is like the carrot & the donkey… somehow its pulls one to move forward in search of a better day. I explained to her of a worse condition than being homeless I had witnessed.

It was a leper without limbs (below his both knees), with raw pink flesh & flies sitting on it. He sat on a make shift wooden board with 4 small wheels pushing himself ahead with his palm. Sometime around 2008, I was walking along with my husband behind Mohan Bhandar at Mysore searching for some light fixtures. It was a crowded narrow street & suddenly he appeared right in front of me. His gaze was so sharp, transfixed almost piercing my soul as if blaming me for being able to walk… I just stood there, dumbstruck, unable to move, & my husband had to walk back after realizing that I was not following him anymore. His image is still imprinted in my mind…. Many a times I wondered what made him tick? Is that what is called the mortal “Vyamoha” in Sanskrit (roughly translated as deep attachment)? Or is it simply fear of the unknown, the death? Wish I could ask him what made him mentally so strong? What was he hoping for… a miracle? I realized then that if he had the courage to live, then no one on earth has the right to kill themselves- whatever may be the circumstances.

Usually homeless & begging goes hand in hand. Some may scrape from the dustbin than ask for handout. Begging style differs from country to country, & from person to person. There are many ways to beg… some will follow you or try to hang on to you like leeches. Some will silently beg. Some will sing or play music & expect some payment. While some will entertain with animals & rope tricks etc., etc. Some will earn money but are so used to their life on the street that they could never live a normal life. Beggary just becomes a way of life… old habits die hard…

Lately a beggar died in action (i.e. while still begging) on the streets of Bengaluru, India. When they lifted his body to be taken to the grave yard, they were in for a surprise… under his quilt on which he sat in a semicircle igloo like makeshift tent & begged, was currency worth more than 13-million rupees. Enough to give him a comfortable home, warm bed, food & clothing. Yet he sat on it till death, perhaps hoping it would hatch or lay eggs!!

More than that I was amazed to watch the video in which so many gathered with deep fervor, young old like, guarded by a police man with a lathi (stick) in hand, to count & sort the money. Touch & scent of Money, in any form & from any source is still desirable like bed of sweet smelling roses…. Hum. God knows how hands it will pass through & how many will try to pocket some… Begging from the Beggar rather from the Dead Body!! Ironically, his lifeless body was laid right next to the whole drama, ready to be lifted… Dead Body, a funny strange word… Wondered IF, his Soul was hanging around watching the drama what would it must be feeling?

I always wondered how the homeless attend to their body waste. One day I was at McDonald’s in San Francisco, California & I saw a homeless man walk & buy a sandwich, & later go to the washroom. I was told that the restaurants can’t deny customers food & use of their washroom because of their back ground or attire… there are for all intents and purposes, public toilets! .

Two days back, we went for a walk late night after dinner. Weather was nice & streets were not crowded. Right opposite to Queensboro Bridge, finally I saw how they manage to sleep at night, at least few & when the weather is good. On the threshold of one of the shops, 2 individuals slept in close proximity fully covered with a sheet. And strangely, rested just above their head, was a brown leather bound bible with Holy Bible written in golden on it. I think that’s what Hope really means. When the world says give up, hope whispers, try one more time. Just across, opposite the entrance to tramway, on the rows of benches sat a man with a bottle of alcohol & flask practicing, perhaps a new tune, on his guitar. At a distance sat another, eating his dinner listening to music at the quiet of the night… he actually did not look like a homeless man. At the far end sat a homeless lady perhaps waiting for everyone, including us, to vanish from there so that she could sleep peacefully. The positive yet saddest thing was that even though she was homeless she had combed her hair very neat & her belongings in the cart were well folded & neatly stacked, maybe reminiscent to her past…. She reminded me of what a lady said to me when I visited a thrift market earlier… “when the country had better days, I worked at Pier 26 & I would buy expensive stuff & now I am selling them for throw away prices for a living”… the tone in which she said was very touching…. No one knows what is in store for anyone tomorrow…

My younger daughter says, mum why you are so interested in homeless people…. I don’t know why they always catch my eyes perhaps because once in my life, at a distant past I wore their shoes … thanks to Saddam & the so called Big Guns who stirrup troubles, as if possessed by some evil spirit to aid on something which doesn’t have an ending in the horizon!

Sometimes I see so many contrasts in one place. Like the other day when we were walking across the Rockefeller University, along the Hudson River bank, I saw brand new barbeque grill abandoned & loads of waste in the bin, may be leftovers from previous night partying. Right opposite to that slept a homeless woman in a neon green reflective safety west …… she slept so peacefully that even the traffic on the highway besides did not deter her sleep. Little further, on another bench, sat a well-dressed young woman (seemed hungover from the previous night) with a cell phone trying to type a message & half way through she fell back asleep, still clutching the phone. How she got there is beyond my understanding. When we returned, the young woman was still sleeping… the older woman was eating something that seemed like pancake from foil paper. Next to her stood a man eyeing everyone & when I saw his face, he was moving his tongue awkwardly, like snakes move their tongue… it reminded me of an old proverb: Even if the tamarind tree is old, the tamarind is still sour!! I wondered why the hell am I keep coming across so many strange characters & events?

To end with, here is a delicate story narrated by a Real Estate agent…. It seems once a couple approached her saying they wanted a home with just two specific requirements… the flat should be facing the main road & should have a large window. They did not bother if the flat was old or fittings/furnishing were broken as long as the two criteria were met. The reason they wanted the flat was that they wanted to keep their dog close to their work place so that they could come & visit the dog whenever possible. While they were away, the dog should not stress, bored or depressed… hum… I can say that some dogs are luckier & better loved than humans…

My DIL tells me that the government gives them shelter, food & clothing… but some people just don’t apply or collect. I have no idea how far the government aid is stretched but end of the day Super Power is just a virtual status which sounds fruitless once you know or live the sad reality like the empty shell of a hermit crab. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, every country is the same only the percentage differs!! After all Shangri-La is yet to be discovered & there is no such thing as Utopia!!