"God's own district"

My first visit to “God’s own country” was to the Wayanad district. Wayanad is in the north eastern part of Kerala. The three major towns in the district are Sultan Bathery (where we stayed), Mananthavady, and Kalpetta (the district headquarters).

The journey through Mysore, Nanjangud, Gundulpet, and Bandipur was smooth. The road to Mysore was like a race track, and the picturesque roads through the Bandipur and Muthunga forest ranges were delightful. En route Bandipur, we saw a few elephants. Upon reaching Sultan Bathery, we settled in our rooms, and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

On the second day, we first went to the Edakkal Caves. The Caves themselves must have been nice, although I didn’t really get to enjoy them because there were far too many people there, especially school children. They must have come from at least twenty different schools! One had to jostle for space to even walk the narrow and steep paths. At one point, there seemed to be a real danger of a stampede!

The trek to the Meenmuty Falls was challenging, but rewarding when we finally reached there. The waterfall itself was huge and one can hear its sound from quite a distance! It was a relief that there were not too many people there. This trek takes one through tea plantations on one side and coffee plantation on the other side. You can see Sushant in the pic here trying to measure the vastness of the tea plantation.

Our third day began with a jungle safari at the Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary. There were not too many animals to be seen (just the usual deer, langur and bison), but what I really enjoyed about this safari was the long distance that it covered.

The Kuruva Island was serene. One has the choice to cross the shallow Kabini river by foot (in other words, weave through knee deep water) or by a boat. On our return journey, I rowed the boat. But our ‘boating’ was not yet over. Next, we went to the Banasura Sagar Dam (see pic), whose waters provided an excellent destination for a speed boat ride.

f course, any travel experience is incomplete without sampling the local cuisine. Needless to say, the food was delectable. The Malabari Biryani is a spicy version of the Hyderabadi Biriyani, with distinct flavor of Kerala spices. The beef fry and curry with Kerala parota was awesome. Even the buttermilk and pineapple dipped in sauce had their own taste.

Can't wait to see the other parts of Kerala.

Mind your language!

Shilpa Shetty was allegedly called a pig in Big Brother. The world seems to be in great difficulty because of that. It’s front page news! There are 20 odd talk shows discussing the nature of reality shows like Big Brother and its Indian cousin Big Boss, and how racism is still there! Now, I don’t want to discuss the same thing. I think they are over doing it anyway. There is a reason it’s called a “show”. Let it remain that… don’t make a show of that.

My concern, as a keen observer of different culture and English language, is the choice of abusive words in different countries.

Calling someone pig, it seems, has lost its favor among Indians. When I was young, I mean really young, “bloody swine”, used to be an elite english gaali! How refined our language was – no pig, no boar, no hog, but swine! If one doesn’t know the meaning of it, it sounds so sweet, with a swaying tone. Did you notice it rhymes with wine?

Now, however, “dog” is the abusive word of choice. Now, the range of emotions that can be portrayed with the term “Dog”, is unbelievable. Right from describing gluttony (Kutto ki tarah khaya), to talking about someone behind his / her back (Bitching!), it can really be used anywhere. Even when greeting someone. Some of my “Yo” friends, inspired by 20,000 odd rappers (with ludicrous names like Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, 50 cents and Ludacris), have started greeting each other with “Wassup dog?”! Bad influence I say.

The other factor in this pig vs dog war, according to me, is film stars. Now we all know how movie stars swear in movies. Take the example of an iconic hindi movie - Sholay! Both the dog and pig are prominent in the dialogues. But, with all due respect to late Mr. Amjad Khan, his “suaar ke bachho” was pale in front of Mr. Dharmendra’s “kutte, kamine…”. More importantly, Mr. Dharmendra has repeated his dialogue often in many movies, and managed to teach Indians their most important gaali. In training, we call this reinforce technique.

There is this other factor, which struck me. There could be a cultural thingy here. Indians, contrary to what Ms. Jade “Goody two shoes” thinks, are very respectful to what they eat. We don’t prefer to use those that we eat as abusive words. Earlier, we never ate pigs. Now that we have started eating (at least in urban India), we stopped using “pig”. In western culture, this appreciation for food seems to lack. They call people “chicken” and “pig”! Of course, even in India, exceptions to this exist (one prominent example is where people of India call Inzamam Ul Haq – “Aloo”). We should treat this as affection though.

Anyway, enough of this stuff. You go back to whatever you were doing; let Ms. Shetty enjoy the Rs. 3,00,00,000/- that she reportedly got for all those “horrible” things that were told to her; let Endemol (the creators of Big Brother) enjoy all the hype and increased viewership; let Ms. Goody enjoy the trip to India proposed by Indian tourism department; let the media find some real story for a change; and finally, let there be peace on earth. Amen!

Man eaters...

What did you think when you first read the title?

Here's what my friend thought. “What happened to you? Reading about cannibals! Did you get it for free or something? Watching too much TV?” - My friend’s comments when he saw me read a new book – “Man eaters and jungle killers” by Kenneth Anderson.

It’s not his fault. It’s the time we are living in. ‘Man eaters’ no longer refers to a tiger, a panther, a bear or a rogue elephant of the jungle as vividly described in Mr. Anderson’s book. Unfortunately, it means Nithari. It means Hannibal Lecter.

Steep climbs!

Remember Kailash? My ex flat mate, who left Bangalore to pursue his dreams! When he left, I wrote a letter to him - you may read it here.

Well, he is in San Diego now, training to be a commercial pilot. Do visit his blog for an account of how his flying is going. Please leave your words of encouragement for him there.

Why is it called steep climb, don't ask me. For what I think about his stunts, I give you a chat excerpt:

kailash: i was flying at sunset this evening
me: Great
kailash: already doing manuvres
me: You are training to be a commercial pilot, right?
kailash: thats correct
me: What manouvre?
You take off smoothly, up to cruise speed, land smoothly!
No manouvre required.
kailash: s turns, turns round a point....steep turns,
me: Ok...
kailash: slow flight ...all very imp for check rides
me: ... and the free coupons that you are giving me...
kailash: i alsodi stalls today at 6000 feet
me: can I exchange for another flight?
kailash: xchange with whom
me: Any other damn flight!
kailash: sorry no xchange no refunds

Small problems

Small problems often clog our mind for a long time. Often, we think too much of a situation. We ponder over smaller things to convince ourselves that we are right. Most often we fail to ask ourselves a few questions:

Are we really getting anything out of this?
Does it matter?
Will it change my world if I did it the other way?
Is it important to prove that I am right?