Monday, April 10, 2006

A peek into paradise.

It was one of those holidays which you wish would never end... and you come back so refreshed and rejuvenated, that even coming to office on a Monday doesn't seem like such a bad idea!

Friday morning: (Had left Bangalore the previous night) Reached Mangalore. (Yes, Mangalore again). Bus is 5 hours late because of a traffic pile up on the Western Ghats due to an accident. But bus is a Volvo, and the sights out of the window are heavenly, so no problem. Attend a programme at Mangalore, dressed again in a Kanjeevaram saree (This time, I had not forgotten my safety pins) and eat 4-5 kinds of sweets (including delicious Badam halwa and luscious mango salad) at lunch.

Friday afternoon: Take a bus to Udupi, pause there for the customary Gadbad Icecream at Hotel Diana. Take another bus, which drives through some of the most beautiful hilly regions in the country - and through Agumbe, a little green village, known for the highest rainfall in Karnataka.

Friday evening: Reach a tiny village near Shringeri.

The village and the house - A cluster of old, beautiful houses. The house we visited - where my mom-in-law grew up, and where S has spent countless happy summer holidays in his childhood, and where S's uncle now lives. It is a stately old house with a tiled roof and a courtyard. With pillars and low doors. A beautiful 350 year-old temple on one side. With a garden all around. An erstwhile apiary. All in a beautiful setting, with trees all around, mountains in the horizon, and the Tunga river flowing in the backyard. [A Kannada saying - Tunga paana Ganga snaana - For ultimate bliss, Drink the waters of the Tunga and bathe in the Ganga].

Friday night: Eat dinner, sleep. In spite of blistering heat all day, no fan needed. No mosquitoes around, either.

Saturday morning: Explore the house, feeling like I am in another world. Hit my head and see stars while passing through the low doorways. Experience a different lifestyle. Eat food sitting cross-legged on the floor. Healthy, unpolished rice grown in the fields behind the house, Food cooked on a stove fueled by Bio-gas. Drink milk which comes from the cows and buffaloes in the barn outside. Bathe with water heated using firewood in the "Hande" (a mud tank with a hollow underneath, where firewood is stuffed, lit and the water in the tank heated.) Drink water drawn from the well. Well, you get the drift.

Watch the cows and buffaloes munching on straw, listening to them go chomp-chomp, their mouths moving comically from side to side, their eyes looking at you benignly, the not unpleasant smell of their droppings lingering...

Visit the famous Saraswati temple at Shringeri, and the Durga temple close by.

Saturday afternoon - another gorgeous meal. Then, sit on the cool floor and read stacks of old saccharine sweet Readers Digests, and doze off eventually.

Saturday Evening - visit a house two villages away, and walk back in the darkening evening, drinking in the deliciously cool and fresh air, walk through the trees, along the highway, across a 115 year old bridge over the Tunga, built by Sir M.Vishweshwarayya.

Saturday Night: Some more delicious food. Climb on to the roof, and watch the moon and the stars and enjoy the cool gentle breeze, wishing I could go to sleep right here. Come back reluctantly down, experience a relapse into modernity with watching a little Television, and then curl up in a tiny cool room with wooden doors and wooden bolts, and quaint little windows, and go to sleep.

Sunday Morning - Walk up to the Tunga flowing in the backyard. Sit on the banks, with feet in water, look at the river flowing gracefully past. Feed raw rice to the fish. Get a pedicure from the small fish, and a foot massage from the big fish, some as long as my arm and twice as thick. Take a small ride on a small "Ikkada/Theppa" (coracle) - a wide, but shallow bamboo basket, lined with plastic cement bags and fortified with tar, and rowed with a wooden oar (Rowed by a neighbour, with S trying out a bit of rowing later on!) Beautiful river, beautiful green trees, and even more beautiful weather. Takes all of S's might and persuasive powers to drag me away from there. Rest of the morning acquaint myself with the gorgeous, huge doggie in the courtyard, a cross between a Great Dane and a Doberman. Slowly graduate from being twenty feet away from it, to being 5 feet away from it.

Sunday Afternoon - An enormous lunch of raw jackfruit huLi(like sambar) and delicious wheat and jaggery payasa, and then hit the bed.

Sunday Evening - A long leisurely walk along the pebbly and sandy banks of the serene river. Throw stones into the river, watch the ripples. Try to skip stones on the river. Collect tiny shiny pieces of mica, in childlike fascination, but drop them all on the way. Watch birds, especially stark white cranes which come to rest on the overhanging trees of the river, looking like white handkerchiefs all hung out to dry on a single, favoured tree.

Sunday night - A quick dinner, and pack up and rush to catch...sigh!...the bus back to Bangalore!


Anonymous said...

swargakke moore geNu anno haage ;)
was waiting to see whether someone swam in the river !! ahhh its been long time since i swam in a river....

did u have to remind me of halasinakaayi huLi...ayooo ! yestu dina aaithu tindu !

Anu said...

ooooohh!! I can almost smell the smoke from the hande ole, feel the peace and quiet!! I Remember my holidays in kilara! Btw, can you introduce me to S's uncle and aunt?

Anonymous said...

wow... ಓದೋಡಕ್ಕೇ ಇಷ್ಠು ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿತ್ಟು ಅಂದ್ರೆ ನಿಜವಾಗ್ಲು ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಹೊಗಿ ಸಕ್ಕತ್ತಾಗಿ ಮಜಾಮಾಧಿದಿರ :) - ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮತ್ತು S-ಅವರ "ಸ್ನೇಹದ ಕಡಲಲ್ಲಿ, ನೆನಪಿನ ಡೋಣಿಯಲ್ಲಿ" ಇಡು ಒಂದು ಒಳ್ಳೆ ನೆನಪಾಗಿರುತೆ ಬಿಡಿ :)

Anonymous said...

Very nice explanation ..I could almost visualize the place
Post some photographs of the place , if you have ....

anoop said...

You should post some photos. Yes, the mental imagery will try to associate the experiences you have written with pictures from memory, but for people who have not been to such places, photos are needed. I, myself have been to some parts like Agumbe, Tunga dam... but still, i would have enjoyed more if there were photos.

Shruthi said...

Anon: Will go swimming, or at least wading, next time :D
And I had not had halasinakayi huLi before - it was so yum that I overate! :D

Anu: Exactly :) - Imagine the smell of smoke from the firewood mingling with the sagaNi from the cows - a beautiful feeling, right? :D
You should ask S that! :D

Sanjay: Wah wah! :) ಹೌದು ಸಕ್ಕತ್ ಆಗಿತ್ತು! And ಹೌದು ಇದು ಒಂದು ತರಹದ unforgettable experience!

Anitha: Thank you! About snaps - lemme see!

Shruthi said...

Anoop: Thanks for the feedback, will see if I can do it (find appropriate snaps, and upload them :))

Anonymous said...

is this the first time you had been to such a place?? then try kogar, kodachadri sometime. i had spent all my summer vacations in these places. there are nearly clones of shringeri.


Shruthi said...

Raaji: I have visited such places many times, but just as a visitor/tourist. But I have stayed in a village setting just once before, that too for only 3-4 days, and also, very long back. So this experience was new to me!
Have been to Kodachadri, it is a beautiful place! I envy you! :)

Sachin said...

Sigh... nostalgia!!!! I'm from Mangalore too.... proper Mangalore though but our house there was almost identical to what you've described in your post.... its been so so long since I've been there. I envy you being so close to Mangalore! Last year, I was in Udupi....its changed so much...and Manipal, well, no words to describe it.

Anyway, next time you go that way, try and visit the Suratkal beach, its beautiful (what I remember of it)! Hope they've not managed to commercialize it too. Cheers!!

Sachin said...

Well Shruthi, this might be out of place here but anyway....I was reading an old post of yours; the one where you have described your hunt for a place to walk in Mumbai and finding that park behind the Gurudwara.

Its such a co-incidence; my office is on Mahakali Caves road - in fact a colleague of mine was staying at a PG in Sher-e-Punjab colony itself. I pass that Gurudwara everyday on my way to and from work though I never knew there was a huge park behind it. I know that church, the school and most of the other things you mentioned in your post. Hope you had the opportunity to have some of the yummy chole bhature at Gulati's when you were at Sher-e-Punjab. I guess your workplace then was somewhere close to mine too. Don't know why I am writing all this here - I just saw a common strand here and out it all came. Don't mind.

Akshay said...

there is nothing like eating mangoes and cashews plucked on the spot, lazing off afternoons at a spring or fishing with plastic covers. though ponda(goa) is a town we still maintain hints of village life.

Supremus said...

Lovely post! I didnt know Tunga flowed in there too - but then what do I know. I always knew it flowed near Raichur, and for the first time in my life, I actually saw it empty this time when I had gone there.

River in backyard - wow - don't your folks get scared in monsoon about rising waters and stuff? Otherwise what a place to stay I did say hehe!

Sigh, I need a holiday like that!


Unknown said...

Aaah... I felt the same when I was returning from Sringeri .. I had been there this Jan and stayed there for 2 days... It was almost heaven on earth except for the loud chantings and gaalaTe of 'Ayyappa Swami' bhaktas... Dont know why they make such a ruckus wherever they go ...Can they go and maintain the peace and tranquility of the place ? But otherwise, Sringeri is heaven...

Shruthi said...

Sachin: Yes, we wanted to go to the beach, but had no time this time. We will plan an exclusive Mangalore trip sometime, and then see and do everything! :)
Heyy no why would I mind your commenting here, about some other post? :)
Wow, hearing you speak about Mahakali Caves Road, Sher-e-punjab makes me want to go and visit Mumbai again :) I had a lovely time there! You know, one other person left a comment telling me that he knows which Gurdwara I am talking about :)
And unfortunately, haven't even heard of Gulati's.. and that's strange.. coz my roommates were all big foodlovers like me - and nobody spoke of it :(

Akshay: Wow! That sounds so lovely! :) And you are really fortunate, to have the best of both worlds! :)

Suyog: Thanks :)
No, our ancestors were very clever. They built houses at a much higher level, compared to the river! Even when the river is in spate, the water level is not threatening!
All of us need a holiday like that, Suyog, from time to time!

Prata: Hmm, unfortunate when somebody disturbs the tranquility of a place... but yes, nothing can prevent you from enjoying it if you really want to :)

Sachin said...

Shruthi, wonder how you missed Gulati's.... though at present it is undergoing renovation, it sure was there all the time you were here. In fact, it is just diagonally opposite the Gurudwara, next to Birdy's!!

Anyway, thanks for the reply.

Shruthi said...

Sachin: Next to Birdy's? Then I really don't think I have seen it. OR probably it was there, but i have not noticed it. Strange, coz I used to be forever in that huge shop near Birdy's where they sell exotic foods(forgot the name - with chaats and dabeli stands outside).

Anonymous said...

Lovely post.You have captured the riverside ambience beautifully.

And very well formatted too, if I may add. It is not easy to upload the photographs and align the text alongside.

Manasi said...

Beautiful post and lovely photographs!!! Such small vacations are always so welcome. But unfortunately its been years since I set foot in such a village. Looking at your photos and post I think i might as well start thinking. :)

Shruthi said...

Raj plus: Thank you! :)
Though I wouldn't really take credit for the formatting - blogger did it for me!

Manasi: Thank you! :) Yup these little trips, taken from time to time, really are rejuvenating! Plus, if you do not know what to expect, it takes you by surprise, and that is very pleasant! :)

Sachin said...

Some of Mumbai's foods are way too good, huh? Dabeli, the roadside sandwiches, vada pav etc!!!

Beautiful pictures!!!! Reminds me of our house there even more. Can almost feel the sleepy afternoon and the quiet nights!!!

Nirwa Mehta said...

I'm so jealous!!

I think the last time I had "fresh milk" was in 1994, when I had gone to a farmhouse in a far off village in gujrat!

I've never been to the South of India.. Would love to visit the backwaters of Kerala.. and all of South!! :)

Nice post!!


Anonymous said...

hey u seem to have relatives at all the nicest places! shall check my family tree pronto to see if i can use some connections and hop onto ur bandwagon! ;)
btw DH was stuck in the same jam!


Sri Harsha said...

cools pics....n joyin u'rself...gud!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Lovely post - and I so envy your holidays.

PRIDERA said...

You seem to have experienced Paradise there ... but after such a heavenly experience, how did you manage to work on monday ? That would have been really touch !

I have had similar experiences .. difference would be Hemavathi river instead of Tunga! I hope you hogged fresh idlis and coconut chatney ... they are just heavenly in these places !

Mridula said...

It seems that every blog I read, people are taking vacations except me! Oh! May end will never come.

Lovely post and pictures Shruthi.

Shruthi said...

Sachin: Oh yeah... the food.. mouth watering!
And thanks :)

Nirwa: Don't be J :) And do come over to the south sometime! Its wonderful!

Ano: Ha ha!! Sure, do check :) I will too!

Harsha: Yup :)

Emma: Thanks :)

Pridera: somehow it wasn't difficult at all! I was so refreshed that I did not mind! :)
And oh yes, i had idli and chutney, with yummy ghee made from fresh milk on the idlis! OH it was heaven!

Mridula: Ohho... yeah, I am missing your travel posts!
And thanks!

direkishore said...

wow ! tat brought some great memories..thx !

Chitra said...

Invite me naa....puleeeeeeezzzzzzz!!

p.s Me still waiting... (wink-wink) for you know what :)!

Sachin said...

Shruthi, this is just to ask you if all is fine with you and your family post the total mayhem following Dr. Rajkumar's demise. Take care.

Shruthi said...

direkishore: My pleasure! :)

Chitra: heh heh sure ;) -- heyy I sent you that mail long back! :O

Sachin: Yes, we are all safe here. I really appreciate your concern. :)

Chitra said...

WHAT? Me not got it? Which ID did you send it to?

Anonymous said...

Reading your posts, honestly, gives a lot of positive energy. Your vivid description brings memories of better moments of my life that I have had.

Shruthi said...

Anon: Thank you so much :)
Please leave your name! :)

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