Breaking the break!

My beleaguered blog needs some revival, its been a while I even looked at the blog, forget writing a post, consciously I need to now get back to regular posting and note down my travel experiences before I start forgetting them! I guess writing down is a habit and it is safe to say this time I am out of habit. Life has been way to eventful at times to actually sit back and soak it all in and summarise and hence the absence from the writing scene. I guess it happens to almost all of us. So many times it feels like the blog is dead and then somehow something inside me tells me to never give up on this idea, somehow keep it alive and sustain it and keep writing, whatever gibberish it may be, just do not give up!

 

At the very least remember to post travel stories! Although pretty much in a phase of life where I am not travelling right now, I must though ensure I tell you I did travel in January to the city of joy and then went tiger spotting in Sunderbans! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

 

Yes bitches! I did, ate many Rosogullas and Kolkata Rolls and Mishti Doi’s and even went gliding down the beautiful mangrove forests! So whilst I am not telling you everything about the entire trip right away. I am atleast breaking the break from the blog and am promising to myself more than anyone else that I will be here more often! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

 

I’ll leave you with one photo taken during our gliding around the the delta of Sunderbans, on a misty day when the horizon disappeared this boat broke the illusion that had been created! πŸ™‚

 

16178545_10154143625351456_3086751047817679758_o

 

 

Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary

So the last weekend of the year we travelled to Jamnagar for a road trip,Β I had spent 4 years of my life in that city and ever since I left it as a kid I had not returned there, with junior camping in the vicinity we thought spending two days in that city would be quite okay. Wife was drooling at the prospect of buying the famous Bandhani’s from Jamnagar and I was thinking of seeing my old school and eating typical Jamnagar food. Alongside we had decided to spend some time in Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary since it was winter and migratory birds would have surely come here.

 

I had heard a bit about it, however, I must confess we did not go with too many expectations, infact one gentleman told me that 20 days back he had met someone who had gone to Jamnagar that this year very few birds have come. That did not deter me as we wanted to check it out first hand but it did tone down all expectations. I had read somewhere that some 300+ species come there and infact when legendary Bird expert Dr Salim Ali had visited Khijadiya in one day he had recorded 104 species!! However, when you go with minimal expectations you always end up with much happier moments.

 

We left for the park at 6.15 from our hotel in pitch darkness to reach the Sanctuary by sunrise, its about 25mins drive from the city centre, we got our tickets from the counter. They charge Rs. 40 if a person is going to walk, if he is in a car then its 500 per vehicle, doesnt matter how many people in the vehicle. They also charge 200 for a camera. The ticketing was smooth and the guys were pretty courteous, you can also hire a guide if you like but we didn’t hire one and decided to have some own time.

 

It is pretty rare that they allow you inside a sanctuary alone, in your own vehicle and I quite liked the idea. I know many people misuse this freedom and break the limits however, I just wanted to be there on my own waiting for any bird or animal at my own patience and whim and at the same time have peace and not get into unwanted conversations that many times keep happening when you are on safari in National parks with a guide and a driver giving you information that many times you already have.

 

We drove about stopping and spotting birds, they had arrived in plenty, we even saw more than 1500 flamingos, over 30 cranes, heron, ibis, black ibis, spoonbill, mallard etc were so many and so scattered its difficult to put a count on it. The place is blessed with birds and its difficult to list them all here, over all I think we spotted more than 35 species in about 5 hours that we spent there.

 

The place is quite and serene, surprisingly no littering around was spotted by us, there was so much peace with few visitors and the park authorities have kept things simple, they have made roads near the water bodies and put benches under tree’s so that you can go sit there and quietly wait for the birds to slowly figure out that you are not a threat and come closer. I loved the whole concept, we were short on time other wise I thought spending a whole day in a park by just paying 700 from 6am to 6pm is a steal. There is no food or drinks available inside the park so when you do go, go prepared, carry loads of water and fruits and a picnic hamper there are so many places inside where you can sit and enjoy and bask in glorious winter weather.

To be standing together in a frosty field, looking up into the sky, marvelling at birds and revelling in the natural world around us, was a simple miracle. And I wondered why we were so rarely able to appreciate it.”
― Lynn Thomson

The more patient & silent people will probably get the birds more closer to them. I actually think that a trip simply to Jamnagar can be made with just visiting this park on the agenda. I found the place so good. The freedom, the silence, the whole place that was so full of nature kind of perked my spirits up. It seemed like a nice place to go on long walks and rejuvenate I say. People who love the peace, quiet and serene nature alongside bird watching are bound to fall in love with this place.

 

Here I have a few pictures I took there, hope you like them! πŸ˜€

 

dsc_0192

The park has two parts walking about would be for the supremely fit as it is a pretty huge area, taking a bicycle would be the best bet, infact the next time I go, I am taking a cycle on this park’s visit!

Common Cranes flying about

Common Cranes flying about

 

A crested lark struts about royally

A crested lark struts about royally, in its own tiny world this tiny bird is a king!Β 

Godwits are here in loads and loads of numbers!

Godwits are here in loads and loads of numbers!

Then at this far off place we saw so many flamingos

Then at this far off place we saw so many flamingos

This bunch was a little more nearer and more accessible, like me they didnt care for photo's they just kept their heads down and kept eating!

This bunch was a little more nearer and more accessible, like me they didnt care for photo’s they just kept their heads down and kept eating!

Even these folks are here in plenty and they come nearer and pose!

Even these folks are here in plenty and they come nearer and pose!

Although I have seen the Hoopoe many times before this, this is the first time I have got a proper shot of one!

Although I have seen the Hoopoe many times before this, this is the first time I have got a proper shot of one!

dsc_0386

Painted Storks were there as well to perk up the surroundings!

Hundreds and hundreds of Rosy Starling, Many many White breasted Kingfishers and Black Drongos were also to be seen everywhere!

Hundreds and hundreds of Rosy Starling, Many many White breasted Kingfishers and Black Drongos were also to be seen everywhere!

We even managed to spot one male and 6 female Nilgai's (bluebull) grazing about

We even managed to spot one male and 6 female Nilgai’s (bluebull) grazing about

Bird watchers are a lovely bunch, I like them, quite and unobtrusive, immersed in nature and always fancying their binoculars they all revel in places like these!

Bird watchers are a lovely bunch, I like them, quite and unobtrusive, immersed in nature and always fancying their binoculars they all revel in places like these!

This is just one spot, the park has many many spots like this, where in you can decide to sit and become a part of the surroundings, sleep, take a picnic lunch and spend time letting the birds come nearer and soak in nature

This is just one spot, the park has many many spots like this, where in you can decide to sit and become a part of the surroundings, sleep, take a picnic lunch and spend time letting the birds come nearer and soak in nature

Kanna Keep Calm!

This is really new for someone who is pretty chilled about most things, IΒ JUST DO NOT FRET most of the times unless it is the Indian Cricket team on a overseas Test tour, I can take most things sitting easily, without batting an eyelid. I am maybe too lazy to ever fret even and yet, now that junior is 12 and has been wanting to go on a camping trip and is all set to leave today since yesterday although I am pretending to be pretty chilled out about it am having a million rats pouncing in my stomach.

 

Its such a downer on the wanting to be a chilled out relaxed and mature dad that I always wanted to be. As it turns out I am also leaving on a road trip to exactly where my son is going, although I have not told him the reason why I am going that side of the world. I mean I am not going to go see him or inquire about him or anything but it just feels like okay to be near by, if anything were to come upon, I should be able to reach there in a jiffy. I am about a two hour drive away from his campsite. I am quite sure nothing will come about and he wont even care to call me and will be having a whale of a time. I know of many parents who have sent even younger kids away on trips like this and seriously it is no big deal and yet this.Β I myself have always enjoyed going on picnics and school tours when I was in school and they have been the fondest memories of growing up and yet when you become a father I guess the whole idea churns up your belly.

 

As much as I should be chilled out and relaxed about it I am not, I am almost panicking inside without letting anyone know, thankfully I can atleast divulge the feelings here on the blog. I guess this is the part of parenthood where you start to learn to leave your young ones on their own in this world. As he grapples with taking care of his things, deciding on what to spend on, deciding on who are his real buddies and deciding what is it that he enjoys doing without any worrying mother or father around telling him what is safe and what is not and what is right and what is wrong.

 

He wanted to take a camera and a mobile with him, however much I myself wanted to give him a mobile, we have managed to come to a conclusion that he goes without any gadgets and just goes free and without any hassles of taking care of too many things. Its a marine camp and he is so excited about bathing in the sea and that in itself sends shivers down a worrying father who just cannot swim. I have actually been to this camp about 5 years before and know its pretty safe with the kids and everything, I wonder how do parents who don’t know anything about this camp will manage!

 

Phew this task of daddygiri is tough as they keep growing, I hope he teaches me the art of being a cool dad, the coaching has begun I guess!

 

Kanna Keep Calm is what he is probably telling me in this picture that I just came across looking at his photos and wondering how time flew and he has become so big!

417733_10150599177831456_1663396688_n

 

 

The sunset

There always is a wonderful reward that awaits you when you trek atop a mountain, a jaw dropping valley or a deep gorge or many more mountains arranged in a sequence that makes you sigh and gaze and eventually brings back all the energy you had spent on the way up. 

This was the setting of the sunset after we reached atop the hill near our lodge in Ganeshgudi. The Old Magazine House near Ganeshgudi run by the Karnataka government’s Jungle Lodges and Resorts has many beautiful trails around it. Situated deep in the westernghats it has many beautiful treks around apart from the wonderful birds that it is famous for. 

A pleasant surprise!

So off late I have taken to cycling quite regularly, especially since its winter and its pleasant to be riding knowing the sun is mild and its not too hot. We tried last week to beat our previous best of 94km ride, so we went cycling on the interior routes of Bharuch avoiding all traffic.

 

I am not writing to boast that we actually did over a 100 kms on cycle, but actually about the experience we had whilst visiting a small village on our way. We had been cycling through smaller villages, which are not too cut off from the city way of life and yet they are in their own world. So whenever we stopped at any place for refreshments or tea in a village it was kind of natural to attract attention. Whilst most of these people ply on their cycles they do look at our fancied MTB’s with a little more intrigue. It always makes for interesting conversations. They are fascinated that we cycled so far from our city on our bikes and then the obvious questions about the gears in the bike and the price of the cycle and whether these geared cycles run too fast or run without any effort.

 

Usually to have around 5-7 people around us asking and talking is normal, we are quite used to it and we infact love the attention. We get water refilled promptly, people offering cold water from their jugs or anywhere etc.

 

This time round we reached one small village Malkinpura as we took a sudden turn just because we thought the road looked smooth. This was to be our return point and so we stopped at one small shop which actually looked like the only shop around to ask if we could get some tea. The guy said no tea shop here, we could get it a further 5 kms further where a slightly bigger village was. We kind of stalled there refilled our bottles and actually bought a packet of biscuit and chips to munch on and we got talking with the locals. One gentleman then suddenly offered us to go to his house for tea.

 

We refused politely but the guy said come on, its no big deal and that we must have tea and go since we had cycled so far from Bharuch to his village, around 50kms. We did want to drink tea and so we were not hard to tempt. He asked us to leave the cycles at the village centre and to walk with him to his house. We walked about 10 mins to his house and when we reached we were worried if it was a wise idea to leave the bikes so far away. Surely no one would take them away but people would surely fiddle around with them.

 

Anyways, once at his house the guy, probably in his 70’s asked someone inside his house to bring us tea as we settled on the verandah of his house, he insisted we come inside but we resisted saying it was cooler outside. When on the verandah when one of my friend kind of lied on the floor, immediately our host said why not sleep on the cot (charpai) which was inside his house, when we refused he brought a pillow for my friend. Slightly embarrassed yet mildly amused we kept looking at each other smiling and laughing and talking to our host. The simplicity of these village folks and their willingness to welcome a total stranger was amazing. When we got to talking, we learnt he was a Patel and when the tea came the guy also brought one Papdi (a kind of papad) that the Patel’s are famous for. When we did mention that Patel’s make awesome khichdi he asked us to hang around and rest for lunch whilst his wife would make khichdi! All without a moments hesitation and sort of overwhelming us all. We said we had to go back and that we couldnt eat a heavy lunch as we wanted to cycle back. Infact he took a promise from us that we would come back someday just to eat khichdi at his house!

 

We were amused and happy and also overwhelmed at how welcoming the guy was, wondering if we city folks would ever be like this. We even get pissed off when people we know come to our house unannounced and here this guy who didnt know us was so welcoming. Over all it was a humbling experience.

 

img_20161210_110336_hdr

That is our gracious host with my friend Jay.

 

The simplicity of the life in villages is still so much more better than how we city breds live isn’t it? Can you think of finding a random stranger in the city, bring him home and feed them tea?!

 

Keep moving

That has to be the mantra of life for me, I just cannot stay put in the same routine at all. Ever since I took up an office, I have kind of become monotonous atleast from Monday to Friday and whilst when I started first up I was pretty enthused but now that the newness of it is all out of the way I just cant stay steady. The urge to go away from all routines is really starting to kick up more and more with each passing day.

The other thing is that to advance plan your breaks means the whole excitement bit is gone, you know its done and you have to just wait and whilst you wait you must work coz that is where the money comes to travel, sigh. Every time I read that cliched quote, “If travel were more you’d never see me again” the more I can connect to it.

I end up browsing old photos from trips done and the more I see them the more I want to wander again. Alas this growing into a responsible man bit is boring I tell you and a pretty hard task as well.

Whenever I rant, everyone I know comes back at me and tells me you have just been on a holiday two months back and I am like!? So what? Didnt you eat rotiΒ in lunch yesterday? Why do you need it today!?

Anyways this rant will keep on going, thankfully I have managed to convince all who are concerned to sneak away atleast for a small weekend away from work and routine and I am glad! πŸ˜€

dsc_0136

Old Magazine House

I have been planning to go to the Western Ghats for a birding trip since long, many articles, pictures and stories have been coming my way since a long time about how the bio-diversity here is amazing. Eventually this Diwali we managed to go and finally made a road trip down to North Karnataka.

The first destination on the list was The Old Magazine House a jungle camp that is run and managed by The Jungle Lodges and Resorts. As it turned out this place is a heaven for bird watchers!

Tucked slightly away from the highway, a 2 kms off-road drive brings you to this small camp. Amidst tall trees and very little sun peeping through the camp gives you a feel of calm and peace and tranquility about it. They have a small area that has been cleared of the trees where they have put some bird baths and on days when there is no rain around these very bird baths are an absolute favourite of the birds. The birds come here in throngs and they have put some green nets with small gaps made for the camera so that the birds are not disturbed by the bird watchers and photographers.

The first evening itself after around 5 till around 7 we counted 32 different species of birds at one spot, all you had to do was keep your note and pen ready, we would sit around sipping tea or reading a book and the birds would come! I mean I have gone to a lot of places to spot birds and yes there is a lot of fun and a sense of achievement in walking on trails and identifying birds but this was a first!

 

Here you just wait and all the birds from the surrounding woods come and give their attendance! How cool is that!? We counted 48 species in 24 hours and that I think is an amazing number! So many firsts that I cannot even tell you! This place is an absolute paradise for bird watchers who are lazy to go on trails I tell you!

 

The staff in the place is also very well equipped in terms of bird, plant, reptile identification and can have a conversation with us quelling all our curiousness. They not only are efficient that ways but are extremely caring and hospitable, never imagined govt tourist houses to have such a courteous and caring staff. They made some awesome meals as well and also took us out on trails in the woods.

 

The boarding facilities are basic, whilst the cottages are under repair the dormitory that they have are quite simple and good and adequate. Very neatly run this place has to be up on your list if you are looking to go birding in the Western Ghats. Here are some of the birds that we spotted here!

flame-throated-bulbul

Flame Throated Bulbul

dsc_0197

White Bellied Flycatcher

 

dsc_0487

Spider Hunter playing hide and seek with us

dsc_0363

Orange Headed Thrush & Fulvetta

dsc_0341

Emerald Dove, the state bird of Tamil Nadu

asian-paradise-flycatcher-female

Asian Paradise Flycatcher (female)

 

hump-nosed-pit-viper

Hump Nosed Pit Viper. Apart from the birds there are many other things to spot too πŸ˜€

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekends in Bharuch! :)

Warning : A post that includes only showing off. Please wear your glares before you read! πŸ˜› :mrgreen:

 

The best part of living in a town where you grew up is that you have so many people who know you are connected living around you, not just that, it also means that all your friends are either put up here or are visiting your town on weekends or festivals even if they are working elsewhere. So in many ways I live in a town that is sort of a head quarter for most of the people in my circle! Hence, weekends are always fun, sometimes almost hectic! Saturday nights are gathered around some wonderful food and spent regaling each other with stories or pulling each others legs, late nights and then early mornings we have to leave for the Narmada Valley to find some or the other waterfall for a bath.

 

Yea that way we are pretty rich, we drive about an hour to find a pristine waterfall for a bath on Sundays! Blessed with wonderful countryside we Bharuchi’s may not be proud of our city and its cleanliness but are certainly snooting about to everyone about the countryside we have! So many mountains, valleys, waterfalls that you can spend the entire months of July to November bathing in a different waterfall every Sunday!!!!! Now doesn’t that sound amazing!??!?!

 

One friend of ours Nitinbhai actually is a treasure trove in that regard, he has explored the surrounding area’s so much that he knows of all such small streams and nooks and corners of our town and we use our connections to the hilt! Always pinging him up on saturday nights about directions to our next bath on a sunday! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

 

Pehchaan hai apni Boss!! :mrgreen:

 

Anyways so this weekend was one such hectic and fun affair! Around 12 I decided it was time for me to cook, so I called home and told all the ladies to take it easy and relax, I will cook, I then got all the stuff around 4 pm and got into cooking, some garlic bread, salad, one type of Crostini and a cucumber crush as suggested by my blogger buddies Rakesh and Monika. It all turned out pretty swell!

 

Forgot to take pictures! But thankfully one friend had made a Snap Story of a couple of things and hence I can now show off!

img_20161001_201619

The Garlic Bread with mayonnaise, corn, capsicum, tomato and chilli flakes! Do take note, this is home made Mayonnaise! 😎

 

img_20161001_204914

The Crostini before it was sent int he oven to melt! πŸ˜‰

Unfortunately the drinks and salad were not photographed however the salad was scraped off the huge bowl and the drink was finished too with me getting three glasses of it :mrgreen:

 

Then after having slept at around 12 in the night, some of the earnest few even went to Garba that night, we had to wake up at 5 am and one friend was kind enough or well insane enough to call me and wake me up at 4.30! :-/ at 5 am we were on the road! Half of us did catch up some sleep in the car whilst the rest fought on what music to play! The biggest draw back of technology that ways, everyone is carrying their play list and wants to make others listen to music he loves! 😐

 

dsc_0033

Once you leave the city, Bharuch regales you with greenery and green slopes especially in the monsoon

dsc_7650

Yes… I belong to these parts! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

 

dsc_0048

Into the wilderness we go, searching for a waterfall through Jowar Fields!

dsc_0055

Yeh mera gaonΒ …..

dsc_0059

Seems like we are going to have a bumper Ponk harvest this year… thanks to the wonderful monsoon we have had this year! Its October and its still not exhausted! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

dsc_0034

Spotted these two who absolutely were loving the weather and the surroundings! πŸ˜‰

p_20161002_113109_hdr_1

and then there are angry dad’s at their kids for not running away from bad company, it screamed at the little one for not running far from us and letting us get so close!

 

Now last but certainly not the least, Namaskar from Bharuch! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

 

dsc_0083