Kanna Keep Calm!

This is really new for someone who is pretty chilled about most things, I 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. 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

 

 

Advertisements

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 roti 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! 😀

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 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekends in Bharuch! :)

Warning : A post that includes only showing off. Please wear your glares before you read! 😛 :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! 😀 😀 😀

 

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! 😉

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! 😀 😀 😀 😀

 

dsc_0048

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

dsc_0055

Yeh mera gaon …..

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! 😀 😀

dsc_0034

Spotted these two who absolutely were loving the weather and the surroundings! 😉

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! 😀 😀 😀

 

dsc_0083

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the Mangrove

So we went on a river safari on Madu Ganga, as many mangroves as we have and as many failed attempts I made to visit the Sunderbans, this was my first visit to the mangroves, excitement was palpable between the two of us. A journey into something unknown, something new always is looked at eagerly with a lot of nervous energy at most times.

 

To beat the crowd our host suggested we go as early as 6 am so that we would not have a lot of crowd which usually pours in after 9am. The early morning trip meant a lot of quiet, peace, easy to grab a boat as the boatmen were eager and free and offered a discount. All that done we hopped onto a boat and we went on our way onto the beautiful Madu river. Our boat guide constantly talking to us and keeping us engaged and informed about the surroundings and from time to time making sure he yelled for us to keep our heads lower as we passed under some bridges that criss crossed the river.

 

The river is pretty huge which did not seem like when we started, but as we went on we discovered many small islands, some with temples, some with small settlements of people in the river. Some of the islands are connected by bridges and some are only connected by boats and yes they have people living there. There are some cinnamon plantations inside, apparently some of the best cinnamon in the world comes from here.

 

We spotted a lot of water monitors, monkeys, kingfishers, brahminy kites in just 10 mins on the safari. It being so early in the morning meant poor light and that meant poor pictures, however, the whole experience was wonderful, a lot of nervous energy gave way to elation of spotting so many creatures going about their life early in the morning. With no visitors apart from us meant we would keep things quieter and wait patiently and slowly glide closer to the animals as they lay about or fished or ate some fruits.

 

We even visited one Buddhist temple on the river that is some 200 years old and I saw the largest squirrel I have ever seen there!

 

The high point though was this picture below, entering into this darkness, the branches and the leaves that don’t allow the sun to enter, the being so close to the branches so little space to run if something were to come onto you, no it was not spooky but for the first few minutes we were nervous and excited both at the same time, apparently I have learnt that this is still a pretty small version of what you could see in the Sunderbans and hence my goal to visit it for sure and soon. The feeling inside the mangroves was something I have not experience, a part of this planet that is so different from others that I have seen, a thriving eco-system to boot. We absolutely loved the little time we were inside.

dsc_0975

This in particular is a part of travel, discovering something new, experiencing things you have not experienced before seeing new things is what keeps us all going ain’t it?

 

Here are a few more pictures!

dsc_0919

At day break we were off on our journey into experiencing something new! 🙂

dsc_0966

Probably the smallest island on the river!

dsc_0939

A water monitor lazing on a tree, he didn’t even blink an eyelid on seeing us! He was almost saying Go away… the tourist time is after 9!!

dsc_1000

There are many foot massage parlours and the labour involved in the massage literally eat your dead skin! 😀

The secluded beach and the sunset

Call me snooty but I generally prefer places with less people, the more quiet, the more I can hear the sounds of nature, my thoughts and just be with my thoughts without any distraction. I love trekking in the Himalayas precisely for that reason, for the only way you can go away from people to the real places is when you walk away from the road and take up a trail up the slopes!

 

There always is an effort going on whenever I travel to go find such spots, sometimes its great to be just by yourself in nature, watching a sunrise or a wave crashing on a rock or a squirrel making merry with some nuts.

 

Recently we stayed in a place called Balapitiya, kinda in between the more famous Bentota and Hikkaduwa on the west to southwest sea coast of Srilanka, whilst Hikkaduwa and Bentota both are pretty nice beaches, there is a lot of activity there too, we did immerse in those, however, in the evenings after a couple of Mojito’s we preferred to walk on the beach across the road from the villa we rented. Barely 50 meters away is this beautiful beach, the best part was very very few people were about and so it was great fun to have this all to ourself.

dsc_0160

The beautiful Balapitya Beach!

 

We took long walks whilst watching the waves, collecting shells, getting our legs wet, spotting snails stuck on stones, and when tired we sat down to see an ethereal sunset! A very quiet, peaceful evening on this wonderful beach that was also where we took our first dips in the morning, albeit in the morning there were a few joggers around!

dsc_0142

The waves crashing on the rocks

dsc_0895

Soon enough the sun started going westwards!

 

dsc_0172

continually showing different hues as it went on its way!

 

There always are hideouts everywhere, remember that! If you are one of those who likes finding them, this is one nice beach tucked away in Srilanka that is not “developed” and at times I am thankful of that! 🙂