When Pumbaa met Khloe…

…we anticipated much circus — jealousy, aggression, mad barking, general crazy behaviour. Only, nothing happened.

Pumbaa
…has not changed. He is still scared of other dogs. That Khloe is only half his size did not seem to give him any false sense of superiority! He walked in, did not seem to register who I was (irrespective that I was overjoyed and screeching with love :D), was in search of refuge from this new doggy person and quickly hid behind my brother! Khloe came around to him, and they sniffed at each other. No barking, no aggression, no pangs of jealousy — nothing. We were surprised, and pleased. One less thing to take care of ;)

Khloe
…was not scared at all, of course not. She calmly went around to him, sniffed at him, and was generally curious at the presence of another 4-legged companion. That he is almost twice her size did not seem to affect her in the least. Having lived all her life with a group of/in the presence of other dogs (all Beagles, in her case), we knew she would not be scared of him — but the size difference, at least, was expected to have some bearing on her. None at all.

It is really endearing to see how they both are very curious about the other one’s presence. I am pretty sure Khloe would like to have his companionship. Pumbaa, I’m sure, will take his sweet time to break the ice and be pally with her. I remember how things were when Spike, a friend’s Cocker Spaniel, spent a week here with us long back. The first two days, Pumbaa pretended Spike did not exist. Even when we sat them opposite each other, Pumbaa would slowly either look away, or look at the ceiling, or look over Spike’s head (again, Spike was tiny when compared to Pumbaa). Like “If I cannot see him, I’m sure he doesn’t exist”. The third day, the ice began melting, and Pumbaa started trailing Spike everywhere. On the fourth day, he was seen actually playing with Spike, having mock-fights with him, and even falling all over him :D By the time the friendship was formed, it was time for Spike to return home :P Secretly, though, I think Spike was glad to go ;) After the initial days, Pumbaa did not let him have one moment to himself :D

Pumbaa and Spike -- from scared to paired ;)

Pumbaa and Spike — from scared to paired ;)

Pumbaa and Khloe
…have not become friends yet. She is very interested in him, and is probably baffled by his behaviour. I can almost see a thought bubble constantly hovering over her head with the words “Just when I thought I had some good company…why is this guy so weird? Pffft!” I can almost see a thought bubble constantly hovering over his head as well, that says “Oh my God! This woman. Just does NOT let me be. Can’t she see I have no interest in her? Well, almost no interest…

When they first met...he kept a safe distance

When they first met…he kept a safe distance.

Then he decided to pretend she did not exist!

Later, he decided to pretend she did not exist! :D

And then he decided to get to know her...

The next day, he decided to get to know her…

And then he again decided to pretend she does not exist! :P

…and decided it was safer to pretend she does not exist! :P

After she settled down with a bone, he heaved a sigh of relief and settled down with his.

After she settled down with a bone, he heaved a sigh of relief and settled down with his.

But when I tried to make them exchange a few words, he again pretended she did not exist! :-o

But when I tried to make them exchange a few words, he again pretended she did not exist! :-o

Later, as he sat watching the world go by, she joined him.

Later, as he sat watching the world go by, she joined him.

And as I almost heaved a sigh of contentment at this new bond, she gave him a kissie, and he ran off! :D

And as I almost heaved a sigh of contentment at this new bond, she gave him a kissie, and he slowly got up and ran off! :D

Pumbaa is pretty miffed that the house (and people) he owned all these years have to now be shared with this puny little thing who keeps harassing him all the time. “Stop following me around, can’t she? Duh! Do not take my submissiveness as lack of courage. Grrrrrrrrrrowl” says his thought bubble.

Playing hard to get, huh Pumbaa? ;)

I used to OWN this place. Duh!

As Pumbaa continues to play hard to get, Khloe is slowly realising that someone can actually be scared of her! “Scared of me, tiny lil’ me! Yay!” says her thought bubble now ;) And another one says, “Just because you can bark loudly and occasionally growl at me, I am not going anywhere. This house (and these people) are as much mine as they are yours.” Khloe is clearly not very impressed by Pumbaa’s strange behaviour :D

You don't impress me much...Pumbaa.

You don’t impress me much…Pumbaa.

Aside: Today, Khloe had her first taste of rice and beef. And boy, did she love it! All these days, she totally refused to eat anything else apart from bread and boiled eggs, and milk. We tried giving her everything, she would take none of it. After Pumbaa arrived, Khloe seems to appreciate variety in food ;)

  • He dropped a few tiny pieces of dog biscuit, and she gobbled them up. This, after I had tried my best and failed to make her even lick a piece of it all these days!
  • The moment he puts down the bone he is chewing on and goes off for water or a loo break, she quietly claims it as her own!
  • And today, after making her taste a tiny spoonful of Pumbaa’s “beef biriyani” as we call it, she could NOT wait for it to cool down. So we made her a share, gave it to her, which she wolfed down! And then she made a move to his share as well! He “grrrrrrr”ed at her, but of course, did nothing; pouted and went under the table. The husband and I had to then form a human barricade and block the hungry girl on one side while I fed the distraught boy on the other side!

Sooooo much fun :D I think the circus we had anticipated is just waiting to kick off ;)

Pumbaa, sooooooooo happy to have you back (even if for a while)! You are such a sweetheart :)

Richard Parker is breathtakingly beautiful!

After months of waiting, today I saw Richard Parker. And Oh My God, is he breathtaking! :)

It has been over 4 years since I wrote this. Life of Pi is the best book I’ve read. No other book had me completely flabbergasted, left me wondering if it was fact or fiction. I vividly remember Googling certain things described in the book, to find out if those were for real.

Of all the things in the book, I was most impressed by Richard Parker. Totally taken, completely smitten. Head over heels in love :D I was 24 then. Grown up enough to not be taken over by a Bengal tiger, and an imaginary one at that :D Well, four years later, Richard Parker stormed into my life with the same enchantment and had me gaping with such glee. What a beauty he is! I thought at least the movie would make me give more importance to Pi :D Sorry Pi, Richard Parker stole the show :)

I lost count of the number of times i went “oooh!” and “so beautiful” and “awwww” and “wow” over Richard Parker and his antics. The look in his eyes as he hung on to the lifeboat, body immersed in the sea…I wanted to hug him, say it’s alright, you’ll be saved, and squish him! :D Gosh, he is so so so beautiful, I can’t stop gushing over him :)

Since the day I heard this movie would release by the end of 2012, I’d been waiting, patiently but eagerly. Being a non-movie person, quite a few people were surprised to see HOW much I looked forward to this one’s release :) I normally do not read movie reviews, especially of the ones I intend to watch. I’m particular about having my own views, ones that will no way be coloured or tainted by another person’s views.

Just yesterday, a team of people from work went to watch it, and returned saying they were slightly disappointed; that it was a good watch, but did not meet expectations. I was warned to go without expecting too much. I refused, and the nearer I got to the theatre, my excitement began bubbling within. I sooo wanted and hoped to love it.

I LOVED it. Absolutely loved it. Like, really gobsmacked :D I was more than satisfied :) I loved it all. Pondicherry, Munnar, the mighty Pacific Ocean, the meercats. Pi – the liltle boy, Pi – the big boy, Pi – the man. The mother, father, brother, writer. The 3D, the blue whale, the sparkling sea, the visual extravaganza. Most of all, Richard Parker :D

It was brilliant. It is never possible to make a movie out of a book, doing complete justice to it. And when the book in question is one like Life of Pi, it is all the more difficult. To even endeavor to make a movie out of such a brilliant book itself is an act that deserves much appreciation. To do the kind of justice this one did to the book deserves a bow :) I thought it was awesome! I just wish I went to a better theatre, one with better 3D effects.

It was so goooood, I did not even WANT popcorn! :D Now that should say it all!

Richard Parker, you are awesome! :) I dedicate this post to you!

dogs go to the market…twice in three days

For the uninitiated, “patti chanthakku poyapole” is a popular saying in the Malayalam language (which literally translates to “like the dog went to the market”). It means that you go all the way to someplace with great expectations, only to return empty-handed or not having met your goal.

Like how my brother and I went to Nandi Hills two days back, and how we went to the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium today. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

dogs go to the market…take 1

Going to Nandi Hills has been an almost-5-year-plan for me. After many many plans and postponed plans and I-think-it’ll-never-happen moments, my brother and I finally set off to Nandi Hills. Gross miscalculation of time, I must say :D

We left home by about 3 (it’ll only take an hour-and-half to reach there, we thought) and cruised along on the Pulsar. Come 4.30, no sign of Nandi Hills :D Come 5, we see it all covered in fog at a great distance away. And slowly, it kept coming nearer and nearer. Finally, at 5.50pm, we reached the ticket counter. And the guy there, rather pissed off with us, said, “Hathu nimisha, ashtte. Bega banni.

What the %$#@!!! I thought they closed at 6.30. Baaaaaaah. My brother did not understand a thing, and while I translated it, he was furious that the guy almost ‘barked’ at us :D We quickly walked in, quickly walked out, had a hot cup of chai and reached back home at 8.20pm.

So much for going to Nandi Hills!

Well, if it’s any solace (for my brother, that is), this is my brother’s 3rd trip…and he’s making good progress. The first time, by the time he reached the foot of Nandi Hills, it was so dark, he didn’t bother going any further. The second time, he did not even get t see the guy at the ticket counter (who had left for the day), and this last time, he managed to get in. Hopefully, the next time, we’ll go muchhhhh earlier. It’s 6 o clock a bit toooo soon these days! :roll:

dogs go to the market…take 2

So, like most of the plans the brother and I make, going to the planetarium was another long-pending one. We set off early this time, by about 11.20am to reach there in time for the 12.30pm show. Roughly 8kms, ample time! So I suggest a route, my brother suggests another one…and we go along the one he suggested. Halfway there, he turns around to ask me “Why did I come this way?” Baaaah! :D And we go round and round, miss most of the correct roads and finally do reach the planetarium (after having travelled over 12-14 kms :D ) — in good time, still. We reach there by about 12.10!! Awesome. Or so, we thought.

We parked the bike and rushed to the entrance. The guard there said the tickets had to be bought from the counter near the gate. So we rushed back to the gate…and the guard there said “No tickets. All full. Next show at 4.30. Half hour munche banni. Ticket sigathe.”

We walked a bit more around in circles, scrutinised the surroundings and realised that the Priyadarshini (everything’s in a name, you see ;) ;) ;) ) Planetarium at Thiruvananthapuram is way, way, WAY better :D And no, this is not the case of the kittaatha munthiri pulikkum*, I swear. You have to go to both these places to know the difference. Allellum oru postil randu malayalam pazhamchollukal paadilla** ;)

So there! Dogs go to the market…twice in three days :D I have a feeling we saw a smirk on Pumbaa’s face both times we came back from the market ;)

Many more markets to go to…Skandagiri, Mekedattu, Shivanasamudra and Majuli (where we plan to go do the ‘ho ho ho’ tribal dance and learn mask-making :D ).

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*The Malayalam version of the sour grapes saying.
**Even otherwise, in the same post, two Malayalam sayings won’t sing can’t be used.

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Oh, by the way… Merry Christmas, folks ;)

an apple a day…

So I’ve always had this huge complex that I never get Suraj any fantastic birthday gift that gets him all excited and speechless.

In my defense, shirts, walnut muffins and birthday kisses aren’t exactly gifts that fall in the aforementioned category :roll: And of course, thanks to my memory, my “complex” surfaces only the eve before his birthday, every year! And that his birthday falls on the almost month-end does not help! We’re both broke by then, and everyone else I know (from whom I could borrow money) would also be broke!

So, when I got Pumbaa and the awesome Canon DSLR on my last birthday, I had my mind set on getting him something fab. Mine is on 2 Nov, and his birthday is on 29 June — ample time to brainstorm, save up and get him that spellbinding gift. Or so I thought.

Pumbaa decided to go on a marathon ‘growing up’ race, and I had to follow him all the time, capturing all those phases on cam :) Of course, I forgot to plan, save up and everything. When 27 June 2011 dawned dusked-and-went-to-sleep on me, I panicked and made my bro lose sleep on gift ideas. We were to leave to Kerala on 28th night, and I had very little time!

On 28 June, at work I noticed a colleague comparing her SE Xperia with another’s iPhone, and asking people which was the better one.

iPhone! Why not!

And just 3-4 days back, another colleague had told me he wanted to buy an iPhone 4 — that there was some fab offer from Airtel. I almost asked him what iPhone 4 is, whether it was a collection of 4 iPhones :D Yes, I’m a little tech-savvy that way. But I saved myself some humiliation and did not ask it. So I logged into the Airtel site, checked it out, understood nothing about the fab-ness, saw the iPhone, found it sexy, pictured it in Suraj’s palms and liked the picture! :)

One call to the bro sent him going to the Airtel store, asking about the plans, the rates, the costs — uh oh, the cost…gulp. Anyway, while he was apparently taking out his credit card, they told him they only have the white one! And have I already told you how much Suraj loves — just LOVES — the colour black? So, he went back home, assuring me “We’ll buy it tomorrow, from Kochi — and actually gift it to him ON his b’day”.

29 June dawned, and we were in hot, humid Kochi. I stole Suraj’s own credit card, took what was there in my account as well, gave them to my brother, and sent him in search of a black iPhone.

So apparently, it’s real tough for me to actually give him a gift on his birthday, even if I decide to, and even have the money! :roll: The people at the Airtel store had too many things to stop us from buying it — SIM issues, number migration, plan continuity, rate changes. Bleh!

So then we decided to get it for him once we reach back to Bangalore. Which would be on 2nd July. Whatever! :P

And then my bro comes up with “How about an iPad instead? It’s so much more cheaper than an iPhone too. Plus he already has a decent enough phone. Think about it.” But again, my bro would reach back only on 5th, and I couldn’t do this alone. So another few days I waited.

I check out iPad2 on the Apple website and fall in love with it! Awesome would be an understatement! Now, the brother has postponed his trip, and would reach only on 14th… No issues, I think. I’ve delayed it so much. It’ll be all the more a surprise for Suraj ;)

And on 10th, Suraj comes home and narrates the story of how a colleague of his bought an iPad2 to work and showed off. He then told me he planned to buy one through an EMI: “I’m done buying extremely costly things with one-time payments — learnt that the hard way after Pumbaa and the Canon :P “. I panicked big time, called my bro and ordered him to land in Bangalore the very next day. Like my dad sits at the Indian railway and bus stations :P He got a ticket only for the 13th. :( I was dying by then, unable to hold on to this secret myself, wanting to tell Suraj.

The home-made Appli iPad

The home-made Apple iPad :D ;)

And that’s when I check out the price: it’s as costly as the iPhone! Bah bah baaaah!

My brother reached, we realised I may not really be able to afford it, and decided to gift him this instead :D

And well, we made elaborate preparations:

  • I came up with the idea of gifting him an actual “apple” :D
  • My bro went to the fruit seller, enquired the cost for a kilo (120 bucks!) and said “please give me one” :D
  • I bit off one side, took a marker and actually tried writing “iPad2″ on it :D
  • My brother came up with this mini-iPad :D
  • Dad and mom acted all cool and innocent as Suraj walked in :D
  • I have a feeling even Pumbaa was on our side. There was none of the usual hyperactive welcome :D Chakkara Pumbaa :)

As Suraj sat down on the couch expecting a cup of tea, I put on my usual “kalla lakshanam” smile and forced him to ask me what I was up to :D I then gave him a Dark Fantasy biscuit, and wished him a “belated happy birthday”. My brother followed suit, and so did dad and mom. Pumbaa wanted to too, but we knew the biscuit would not reach Suraj :P Meanwhile, the expression on Suraj’s face while this drama unfolded was hilarious!

And then I told him I have a gift for him. His expression became even more comical.

I gave him clues.
I told him “Why do you think I withdrew all that money today?” Comic expression 3.
My brother began singing “oPod…o poduuu“. Comic expression 4.
“You liked that thing so much and wanted it.” Comic expression 5.
“You mentioned EMI”. Comic expression changes for a second to shock. And immediately back to something that said “Naa, she can’t have bought me an iPad2″.

I SO REGRET not having video taped him all that while :( DAMN ! Anyways, I slowly inched towards him, with my hands at my back — and brought out the home-made Apple iPad2.

Even though he kept saying “Naa, can’t be that. Out with it…”, and all that, I could see his face fall when he saw it was just an apple :(  Ok, so maybe that wasn’t all that funny :roll: (Funniest thing was that my dad’s face fell even more when he saw Suraj’s disappointment! Fathers-in-law are meant to be not-so-emotionally-attached to their sons-in-law. Bah!)

And then, he downed his cup of tea, ate that entire apple at my request, and went upstairs to complete some urgent work. That’s when Dad apparently called him back to discuss something about the car insurance. And when he walked in for the second time that day, I handed him this:

The "fantastic gift" that finally got him all speechless, goldfish-fish and excited

The 64GB, WiFi + 3G Apple iPad2: the "fantastic gift" that finally got him all speechless, goldfish-like and excited

I still can’t help but laugh when I remember how he reacted. He stood there stunned, not knowing what to say, who to look at, while the 5 of us (dad, mom, my bro, Pumbaa and I) looked at him expectantly. He kept opening and shutting his mouth like a cute goldfish, not knowing what and IF to say, to whom, what to do. He just stood there with the box in his hands for about 1 whole minute.

Chooyaj's iPad2 :)

Chooyaj's iPad2 :)

And THIS, dear people, is when I wanted to go jump into a deep water-less well — for NOT video taping this bit either :( Waah :( Double damn!

Of course, his first question had to be “Where did you get all the money from!?” !!! Seriously, Suraj, is that all you could ask? :D And then he opened it, showed it to everyone, forgot about going upstairs again, forgot about his “urgent work” which he ran up about 5 minutes ago to complete, and went back now and then to being the cute goldfish again :D

Of course, I questioned him later, to figure out how well he liked the whole drama and why he did the goldfish act for that long. Apparently, he was bloody shocked that I’d bought him a gift he had wanted and talked about just two days ago; he was doubly shocked when he got to know that I had this planned for almost half a month in advance — even before he even thought about the existence of something called an iPad; that no one had ever bought him a gift that he really really wanted and loved so much on sight; that he never thought I was capable of something so organized like this; that I didn’t limit it to the iPhone, for which he had no real love :D And of course, because he was the centre of attention on a very normal, mundane day, two weeks AFTER his birthday. Trust him to be sooo happy for all these small reasons. While I went and thanked my brother profusely on my birthday for the camera that Suraj actually gifted! :P

Of course, I guess it was a suicidal act on my part — he now has a TV, a laptop and an iPad2 !! And he doesn’t even want the TV anymore. So, that should tell you where I am. Sigh! I’m in his heart, you people :D I keep reminding him now and then, that I gave him an iPad2, what a wonderful wife I am, et al. Yea, I’m shameless that way :D

P.S.: Any doubts you wanna clear about the iPad2, please contact my “Chakkara Chooyaj” :)

P.S. of P.S.: Btw, the iPad2 is fantastic. Coming from someone like me, you can trust that statement totally! :D

P.S. of P.S. of P.S.: I’m officially broke and in debt for another year and half at least :roll:

Discover scuba diving…

…breathe underwater for the first time and you’ll have one of the best experiences in life :) I guarantee it!

Last weekend, Suraj, I and a friend enrolled for the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) programme offered by Planet Scuba India, in association with Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). This was being conducted at the ‘Swimlife Swimming Academy’ swimming pool, within the St Joseph’s School premises on Mallaya Road, Bangalore.

I got to know about it through Nikhil, and even before I got the details, I was all happy and thrilled. I had pictures of me swimming amongst the beautiful sea life, a few coral reefs passing by, a school of fish standing in line, waiting for me to pass… sigh! I could barely contain my excitement. And that’s when I asked him if I’d get to see sharks and dive with the dolphins and all. “For that, you need to go to the Andamans”, was what he said. I immediately stepped back into my dreamworld, where I was in Andamans with Suraj, bro, buddy sis, dad, mom and Pumbaa, of course!

It then struck me that none of us knew swimming. And we had no diving gear — not even swimming trunks, obviously! :P “We’ll provide all the gear. Just be at the pool by 11″, he assured me.

Crazy about water, despite being non-swimmers, we decided to go check the event out and then decide whether to go in or not. When we reached there at 11, expecting a crowd of wannabe divers, we were surprised to know that we were three amongst the only 6 wannabes who had turned up! Yey! That made things even better. We had the whole pool to ourselves — just the 6 of us :) Within no time, we were all at ease (and I had already begun planning for an actual deep dive into the sea :D. Yea, so I have a dreaming disorder. So what!? :P)

Our instructor — Angshuman — was the coolest ever (and let me also mention that his body is completely covered with colourful tattoos! This maybe what inspired Nikhil to get one done too :D)

He got us acquainted with the gear: including a mask, snorkel and fins, a buoyancy compensating jacket that also carries the scuba tank, a scuba regulator to breathe from and instrumentation to monitor depth and air supply. We were also given suitably sized wetsuits.

He introduced us to our diving gear, gave us a few basic instructions, and asked us if we dared enough to take the deep dive (at the 6ft end of the pool) or just dip in at the 3 ft end. Except for one dainty little lady who looked like a Barbie that had come to life, we all chose the former. At the count of three, one after the other, we dived in — and was it cool baby!!

He taught us how to sink, go deep, swim, clear the mask if water goes in, using the alternate regulator for air, the basic signs to use in case of emergency or even to just communicate underwater, how to balance weights, how to pose for pics underwater (which I didn’t learn well, and that’s evident in the pics :D :D )…

That very feeling that no matter what happens, you wont drown, gave us all a boost of confidence! I’ve never EVER gone anywhere near the 6ft end of a swimming pool: not even with a life ring around me! I did face a few issues initially: there was something wrong about my weight-belt — no matter what he did, once I went underwater, I kept turning over to wards my right, finding it impossible to swim ahead. Finally, he took off my weight-belt and just put one weight each in my two side pockets. I was fine after that, and took to it like I was diving forever :) I swam completely underwater, from one end to the other, without anyone’s help! Yey!

I can’t explain what a wonderful feeling that was. I really, really can’t! I wish I’ll be a fish in my next birth, if there is one…and while we’re at it, God, I’d like to be a dolphin :D

Agreed, we didn’t get to see any coral or fishes or aquatic life in general; none of the sharks to frighten the life out of us; no school of fish calmly swimming by, going about their business; no dolphins to hang on to; no blue whales who tossed us up in the air as it squirted water…none of that. But this was definitely a humble starter to life under water — I literally went 6 feet under ;)

Being able to go underwater without having to take a deep breath and hold on to it, being able to actually breathe under water (!!), without water getting into your eyes and making everything blurry and into your nose and getting you all wrecked up, without being on the verge of panic and without actually panicking if you lose your footing…

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It was simply fantastic! :)

And of course, like the time we went parasailing in Goa, Suraj, who had to literally be begged to join for the adventure, was the one who perhaps loved it more that I did! He was glad he did it; it was thaaaaat good. (See, this is why you should TRY things out, darling! ;) ) And he’s now determined to learn swimming. Double Yey (yey yey! :D) to that!

I’m now dying to learn swimming — and then go for the Open Water course — and head to Andaman to meet some aquatic friends ;) Yes, that’s my next trip plan ;)

Thanks tonnes, Nikhil, for letting me know about the event and helping us experience something we’d never have otherwise done! :)

And we’re going again tomorrow — with my brother and more friends :D

The paris she saw…

…was beautiful, awesome and sexy. Just like she is, I’d say ;) And by “she”, I mean my mother :)

She went to Paris with my brother, to attend his convocation.  Amma’s never been out of India before, so I found it pretty amazing that her very first international trip was straight to Paris!

:) Fantastique, n’est-ce pas?! :)

Right from my earliest memories, Amma has only sacrificed — be it a chocolate, be it the last piece of her favourite fish fry, be it a chance to buy that lovely sari, be it a chance to indulge, be it a shopping-for-self treat, be it a good night’s sleep…you name it, and she HAS sacrificed it: either for me, or for my brother, or for dad, or for her mom, or for her siblings or their spouses/kids, or for her in-laws. For her, “me” and “I” was (and still is) after “you”, “them” and “they”.

So, when the brother got into ESTACA, Paris, to get his Masters in Spacecraft Engineering, both he and I knew that his convocation would be either at Paris, or at Southampton (his course was to be two years, the first year conducted at Paris, and the second at Southampton) — and we’d been planning since then, to ensure Amma gets to attend the convocation ;) Of course, we never told her this, since we didn’t want to get her hopes high.

It was only when we needed to make her sign for the Visa applications and stuff that it really sunk in, for her, that she was going to Paris. We were praying that the Visa would be alright and there would be no glitches. I also have a feeling one of us drugged Murphy, for there were absolutely no glitches! :)

The few days before the trip, she was in a frenzy. “I feel weird, and I don’t know why…” she kept saying. We shopped for her — bought her a new pair of spectacles, new shoes, new dress… We taught her some basic French, though she insisted she’d respond with a  “Khem cho” if anyone asked her “Comment allez vous?” :P We told her to make sure no random frenchman would grab her and kiss her. We told her the ONLY food she’ll get in Paris would be “bouillabaisse” (this grossed her out!). You get the idea, right? :D

The way her face lit up every time we said “Yay! You’re going to Paris”, was one of the most wonderful things! :) On May 23, Amma and my brother set off to Paris.

She had an awesome time at Paris.

The convocation was a small, private affair with just the students and their two guests each, on a cruise boat that went cruising along the Siene river from 7 – 11 pm :)  Dressed in traditional Indian attire, she apparently stole the limelight and had quite a few fans ;)

A proud moment

A proud moment

She was made to walk all over the city by my brother, so that she could take in the Parisian streets, houses and shops. She got on to the Paris Metro, and almost got mugged by a french belle and a boyefriend ;) She named the Arc de Triomphe her very own “gate”, like the India Gate :D. She felt the Louvre was too big, and there was too much walking to do — and all this, to see a lot of nude statues :D Funniest of all, she felt the Monalisa was too small, for the whole world to kick up such a huge hype about her! ROFLMAO! She loved the Moulin Rouge, but the sex shops on both sides of the street freaked her out. She was glad to see that the women were all fully and well-dressed, and there was no public display of affection that an Indian woman could not handle with dignity. LOL. “The movies are all a load of fakeness :roll: “, she said.

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We had planned the trip such that the return would be via Doha, Qatar, where her two sisters and family live. So, two birds at one shot: she went to Paris, and she went to Doha as well.

On early 4 June morning, Amma came home beaming with joy, was welcomed by an exuberant Pumbaa and had many tales to tell. I’d have loved to go o Paris too — but I’m much, much, MUCH MORE HAPPIER knowing Amma could go, see and enjoy a place she never even dreamt of going to.

À bientôt, folks :)

it’s that time of the year again…

…when a few crazy long-ago college mates start a mail thread to “meet up”. The mail thread has crossed 150, and we’re all waiting impatiently for May 14 and 15 :)

This is part of a tradition we set up last year ;) Last year, we went to Munnar. After that, we’d decided to take our meet up international: and go to Malaysia ;) But well, some people went out of control and are now parents :D :D :D So, there are 3 babies in the group now, so we had to keep ourselvs close to home. So, this time, it’s destination is Alappuzha! Yay! :)

This time, there’s one couple from Bangalore, one couple from Kochi, one couple from Dubai, another couple from Kochi, one couple from Mumbai and one couple from Kuwait (we all hope they can make it). And three babies :) A one yr old and 2 2-month olds :)

Beach theme, beach wear, beach fun, beach umbrella, beach chairs ;) And of course: Uno, Pictionary, Monopoly and the legendary Ludo :D

Can’t wait for May. Come, May, come soon!

CoffeeGudda @ Chikmagalur: a travellogue

Yay! Travellogue time again :D

Yea, so I “tripped” again. This time, not with the husband / family, but with colleagues! After joining this company, there were two trips planned, both of which I backed out of — them both being weekend trips, and it being impossible for me to sleep without my daily night quota of the husband’s hugs and kisses :D

This time, however, when the trip was planned itself, I was told that the previous trips were cancelled because I backed out at the last minute, causing a chain of backing-out! :D So, after much confusion and tantrums (me saying ‘don’t wanna go’, husband saying ‘go, have fun’), I gave in and said OK. I had no clue what I bargained for!

Anyway, after work on a Friday night, 14 of us set off to Chikmagalur, a hill station in south-west Karnataka. We left by about 12 am and reached Coffeegudda, the homestay we book for ourselves, by about 7.30 – 8.00 am.

And was the place awesome! After all the speculations of the place’s existence, we were all mighty pleased. And I say this, because when we Googled “Coffeegudda”, nothing turned up!! And of course, if it’s not on Google, it just does not exist, right? :D

But well, it did exist, actually! Tucked away peacefully, even beyond Google’s reach!

Well, the place is rather new, and the guys are yet to make a website of their own. All they have now are a few pages of CoffeeGudda hosted on wix.com, a free website builder ;) So, I suppose this post of mine would be CoffeeGudda’s first official mention on any website! Yay! ;)

CoffeeGudda: 16 acres of one of the most well maintained coffee and betel nut estates in Chikmagalur! A pretty homestay, mouth-watering food, fantastic hospitality, warm people, awesome surroundings, a gentle stream that meanders by and a waterfall of its own!! How much more can one ask for!?

Yes, you read that right! A huge, amazing, natural private waterfall!

An awesome suspension bridge takes one from the road to the homestay, over a serene, delightfully lovely stream that gurgles along happily beneath. The mood-setter for the vacationer ;) I swear it’ll set your mood. We were all wide awake from our seconds-ago groggy state the minute we saw the stream ;) The bridge ends where the gate is and a pathway starts. Lined on both sides by majestically tall betel nut trees, the pathway keeps you in its mysterious clutches for quite a while before it hands you over to the homestay.

View of the suspension bridge

The betel nut trees that stood majestic and tall :)

Where the pathway leads to the homestay...and you see...

...CoffeeGudda, the homestay!

CoffeeGudda, the homestay. Another view: of the three rooms, the swing chair and the serenity :)

Where we ate and drank. The little, thatched dining centre :)

Day 1 began with all of us freshening up and heading for some breakfast to the lil’ thatched shed. :) Hot idlis with some real yummy sambar and coconut chutney. Anyone who can make a sambar that yummm can make any damn food the most tastiest way! :) Oh and some very nice kesari too :)

And then, we set off to the “private” waterfall. I asked them how high it is, but they weren’t sure! Imagine having one’s own waterfall and not even bothering to know its height. Sigh! Life is very partial to some :D

The foot of the waterfall. Technically ;)

The trek up to the falls... (pic courtesy: a colleague)

We trekked up to the water fall from below — and it was a tough job! We had to climb up huge boulders, duck under fallen trees at places, cling on to ropes and pull ourselves up at others, get bruised and grazed on the shrubbery around…but when we did reach up, it was worth all the effort!

The waterfall...in all its glory. :) And the IBMers, in all theirs :D

With such force it came tumbling down the rocks...

Standing there under all that force was awesome.

It was magical. There was just the water, greens, birds and us. It was truly magical! And standing there under all that force was awesome. It gave a lovely massage — water therapy — that washed away all our weariness, all the strained muscles, all the tiredness. It was just splendid. And I guess the BEST part of it all was its being exclusive to us. There were no mad crowds, no litter, no lack of cleanliness. The place was spotlessly clean :)

After spending about 2-3 hours there, we were on our way back. the trek down was tougher. We had to almost slip down the slops on the sides of the boulders, hanging on to just one rope for support! :D It was sexy! :D

We were all tired and again went for our baths and freshening up. Lunch waited. A real spread that was. Chappathis, two kids of chicken curry, egg roast, rice, sambar, rasam, beetroot subzi, cabbage sabzi, curds, pickles…and all of that in ABUNDANCE! We all ate to our tummies’ fill and praised the cook to no end! :D In fact, we were all surprised they served so much; we only expected a humble meal!

After lunch, while some of them went off to snore, a few of us sensible ones set off to chill by the stream. I swear! I haven’t done anything that “wow” in quite sometime. The time we spent at the stream was so amazing, we yearned to extend the trip and stay on for another day :D I personally wished I could just stay there forever, and tell the husband and parents and Pumbaa to come over with all the clothes and furniture :D

Bridge across the river Quay...er er...the stream yay!

Gently flowed the water, gurgling, giggling and swirling...

And we chilled out in its coolness...

Miss it soooo much!

By about 6.30, we headed back to our rooms, freshened up (again!!) and sat around a campfire to enjoy the clear night! The temperature had dipped, and   the fire began dying out, one of us would rush to get more firewood! :D

The campfire that kept us going way into the night...

After anthaksharis and ghost stories and dappankuths and more dancing, we had some yummy dinner. After which, we all split into groups, each doing their own thing. Some sat by and drank; some had pep talks, we played rummy :D I had sprained my neck as we trekked down the falls, and by night, it was horrid. I could barely move my neck :( There was another trekking planned the next day, and i was almost sure i wouldn’t make it. And that added to the pain :( :( :(

Came morning, and I woke up hoping I was alright. but no. Could still barely move the neck. There was game of badminton in progress, and while i badly wanted to join in, I was in no state to play.

Early morning badminton

A few concerned ones said I better stay back…but well, even if I didn’t trek, the neck wasn’t fine. Might as well trek, I said. And off we went. How can I ever say no to trekking? And well, it was just in a tea estate (or so we thought!). Now how bad can that get!? So, once again, while a few losers slept, 9 of us set off. A bus took us halfway, and then we were to get on to one of those open jeeps that resembles the ones that carry cattle :D

We were in for a major surprise. Turned out we were not actually headed to a tea estate, but was going to trek down an insane mountain range and trek up another!! We were headed to Horanadu and beyond!

Horanadu...scenic, isn't it?

The cattle jeep took us cattle, crossing little jungles and streams and coming out on to rough roads with the sun above us, scorching!

The little jungles, all of which had streams flowing across the roads! Sexy it was!

The roads were worse than it looks heer. At points, it bordered on scary!

With us almost dangling all over the jeep. My neck was becoming worse that I ever imagined it would…but the scenery was soo good, I was clicking away like crazy :D [reached home to find the ugliest bruise I got from all that banging onto the jeep railings! sigh. Lesson: never click way while on an open jeep on bad roads! :D] And when I almost started wondering if I made a stupid mistake, deciding to come, we left the rough roads to reach the zenith of the mountain!

The zenith of the mountain: Gaaligudda!

And the views took our breaths away!

Gaaligudda: the best trekking I've ever done! How many colours and textures do you see? :)

Painting or picture?

The open jeep that took us cattle to Gaaligudda

View from the top. That little piece of green down there was a field we crossed while in the bus, even before we got on to the jeep! Which shows that we came up quite a height!

This has been by far my toughest trekking experience! Mainly because of the incline. It was almost an 80 degree slope downwards — with NOTHING to support you climb down: no boulders, no sturdy rocks, no plants, nothing! In fact, to add to all the scariness, here was a lot of loose gravel! And nothing to even break a fall if one of us were to go tumbling down!

Except three of us, the rest were all plain scared to move an inch down. But the fact that our jeep had left us there and had gone all the way to the top of another mountain where it would meet us again, left us all with no choice but to trudge down. There was a guide who helped three guys. And two other guys and I helped down the other three girls. The scariest part was that if the person we were supporting were to lose footing, she’d take us along too!

See that white spot towards the left of the pic? Draw an imaginary line up from the words "Draw an" here and you'll find it :D That was our jeep, waiting there for us to climb this slope down, climb the other one up and reach there!

And let me tell you, the slope isn’t as easy as it looks on the pics!

The group inching down slowly, carefully...

And that, is when I, for the first time in front of the colleagues, loudly and clearly yelled “F***!” :D I and the girl I was helping down had made headway and reached what looked like the bottom first. I turned around, clicked a pic and was just putting back the lens cover when I heard a shout from above. We both looked back to see a rock tumbling down right at us! My greatest fear was that it’d bring along more loose rocks and gravel. if that happened, we both would surely have reached the foot of the mountain in no time! As the rock passed us by in mere inches, I looked up sheepishly to yell out a “Sorry”! :D They pulled my leg all day for that! :D

As we trekked further down and finally did reach the foot, we heard a lovely gurgling sound. “Water!! Waterfall, more like it”, we all yelled and rushed forward to find this little beauty nestled among some rocks and dense green!

The beautiful stream that takes origin from the foot of a lovely waterfall!

The cute "little" water fall which proved size does NOT matter, water does! :D

No. It just looks small. When we got under it, it was almost double our size. yet, the water came down with such force, that when we leaned against the rocks and went completely into the water, it was like we were deep under the sea! Awesome, splendid and fantastic it was!

The first two to get into the ice water :) Just for perspective.

We spent about half an hour frolicking there. The water was icy cold and getting people in was a huge challenge :D But with the effort of our official “water splasher”, we all were in, finally! Had a fab time. Though we wished to remain in for longer, we had to leave back to Bangalore by 1.30…and it was already 11. we had just another hour to climb back, another to reach the homestay and a half more to have lunch, pack up and leave!

Heaving, panting and almost dying, we trekked back. trekking in wet clothes, that too UP a mountain, is not a good idea at all :D Yet, we did it, every now turning around to catch the wonderful painting Nature painted. When we finally caught a glimpse of the jeep, extra adrenaline pumped and we all almost ran up! And we were on our way back to CoffeeGudda :)

A beautiful tree we saw on the way back :)

The way back from Gaaligudda, to CoffeeGudda

The tea estate we "thought" we were going to; shot from the bus :D

The stream near CoffeeGudda...where we idles the previous evening, and where the losers who didnt come trekking idled while we trekked :D

While this trip definitely gets NO points for being a fab one by all respects, CoffeeGudda definitely gets it for being a real ‘getaway’, for yummy food, for a private waterfall (I still can’t believe the awesome luck of those ppl!) and the best trekking I ever did!

We bade goodbye to the homestay owners and left content, loaded with packs of CoffeeGudda-Chikmagalur coffee powder! :)

CoffeeGudda rocks! :)

ETA: Here is the link of CoffeeGudda’s very own website :)