The Queen of Subtlety

Subtlety, if you ask me, is not an art possessed and practiced by many. Some think they have it, but don’t. Some actually have it, but never put it into action at the right moment. And well, some others have it, and practice it quite well.

And then there’s Princess (you need to spend 5 continuous minutes with her to know why exactly she is Princess) who does not know that subtlety exists. Which makes her nothing less than The Queen of Subtlety.

Incident #1 why Princess got titled The Queen of Subtlety
Princess and her two friends (which includes me) were on a break; sipping tea at the pantry. There was no one else in the pantry. If the three of us weren’t talking, there would be no other sound there. We were discussing random life issues, friends, relatives and other such. For once, there was ABSOLUTELY no gossip about colleagues happening right then. After a few minutes, our manager’s ex-manager (who still likes to act the part of our manager’s manager) walked in to fill her tea cup. There was a moment of silence right then, as we had just finished a random conversation. For no reason in particular, on seeing the lady that walked in, Princess said “Shhh” at us (but alas, loudly enough for all of the pantry to hear). We were not talking about her, but I’m sure after the “Shhh”, she thought we were. Sigh! :roll:

Incident #2 why Princess got titled The Queen of Subtlety
Princess and I were at our workstations, quietly going about our lives work. And then, Princess rolled her chair towards me and we began discussing something — I’m not sure if it was work or something else. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw our manager’s manager walk into our bay, and launch into a conversation with our manager. I whispered to Princess to check them both out, that they’re colour coded (they were both in red shirts). That’s ALL I said. Princess turned around, looked, and burst out laughing. And then she turned back to me, saw my horrified expression and went “Ooops” and eerily quiet. I dread to even think what he might have thought! Sigh! :roll:

Incident #3 why Princess got titled The Queen of Subtlety
Princess and I work on the 7th Floor of our office building. We have a friend on the Ground Floor. Once, after collecting a courier that Princess received (a reasonably sized box which looked suspicious even to me!), we decided to walk over to our friend and have a chat. As we walked in, I told Princess that we’ll tell our friend we’re here to have a serious meeting with her and her manager, and that Princess was to hide the courier from the friend’s view. We walked to her seat, and found her seat vacant; she was in a meeting room with her team. As we were contemplating whether to stay or leave, the meeting room door opened and the friend’s teammate walked out. Instead of being a normal human being and just staying calm, Princess did something very close to acrobatics and tried to hide the courier box from the girl’s sight (don’t ask me why!!). Of course, quite unsuccessfully at that. We got a look of weird displeasure from that girl. Sigh! :roll:

Incident #4 why Princess got titled The Queen of Subtlety
Princess and I were walking to the pantry, for a cup of tea. Just as we got out of the bay, we saw two foreigners standing by the door, having a serious discussion. I walked on in silence. But not the Princess, oh no! She took one look at the two (fairly older) gentlemen and said “Oooh! Nice.” With smoke coming out of my ears, I hastened my pace, looked at her horrified and asked her what the hell that was! And she explains, “But I meant one of their bags; not them!” Yes, very evident that was. Sigh! :roll:

As The Queen of Subtlety continues to rule, the rest of us are sure that we’ll have many more foot-in-mouth moments, handed over in a golden plate, even without having to say a word! Secretly, I think I need to make new friends.

True friends are hard to come by!

It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart… Oh, that’s a song.  Not how I meant to start this. :D

But well, it’s amazing alright. How the best of people always have the best of friends ;) Like how Calvin has Hobbes; Asterix has Obelix; Tintin has Snowy; the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. have each other; and well, Boban has Moli. :D

I think the best of the lot is Calvin and Hobbes.

And if I be Calvin, I’ve found my Hobbes ;) [Or vice-versa, if my ‘Hobbes’ doesn’t like being a tiger :D *But for now, you’ll have to make do with being Hobbes. The other option would be to make you Richard Parker, who coincidentally is again a tiger. I think Hobbes is much cuter, nicer and definitely more fun to be with*]

I’m very, very, VERY choosy when it comes to friends—especially the kind that can be ‘Hobbes’. And this one was, well, totally unexpected. Someone I definitely did not see myself ever getting so close to or being such great friends with!

The time I first met Hobbes, I never thought we’d ever strike a chord. Hobbes seemed a very serious, withdrawn person. The kind that is so withdrawn, they barely look up at you when you’re being introduced to them and quickly nod before going back to their work. Uh uh…definitely not the kind who would be friends with someone goofy like me :D So well, I maintained a distance, and was always just courteous and polite.

I liked Hobbes, but that was about it. In the meantime, I also heard bits of conversation here and there of Hobbes being this serious person; people seemed to be quite scared of Hobbes, and I saw very few people being comfortable and carefree around Hobbes—cementing my impression of Hobbes as someone who could not easily be “friended”. Well, that impression lasted about a week.

Till I first heard Hobbes laugh. It was a loud, clear, right-from-the heart guffaw. Yes, a guffaw. You have to hear it to know what I mean :D Despite not knowing what the joke was or who it was shared with, I found myself looking up and smiling at Hobbes. Well, to be precise, at the back of Hobbes’ head! :D And that was when I figured Hobbes out: in an instant. And I liked Hobbes a lot more then :)

Only someone that’s completely genuine, sincere, adorable and so full of humour can ever laugh like that. Seriously. Laughter—especially the kind that emanated from Hobbes that day, and many, many times after that—is something that will give away a person’s character immediately: it can tell you who is fake, who is real :) Hobbes was definitely very, very real! I figured I could be myself, goofy and well, just me. The only question was if Hobbes wanted that. Hehe.

You need to know the nuances of laughter to be able to figure people out :D When I shared that piece of insight once, Hobbes said “I refuse to laugh like that from now on!:D Well, the damage was done already, my dear :D Hobbes once told me “Not everyone retorts to me the way you do. You picked my sense of humour too fast. And I’m not like this to everyone either. I appear serious, proud and very quiet. It’s a facade…kind of a protection that I put around myself.” Well, I’m glad I broke through the facade, and damaged your “aura” (which I still insist on never having noticed :P). I now have a friend for life—and an awesome one at that ;)

When I look back now, I still cannot believe Hobbes and I became friends. I would never have believed it if someone had told me then that Hobbes and I would become such friends someday. I would’ve scoffed, I suppose ;) But well, we did become friends…though very, very, very gradually.

With Jaya, my best friend—an alter ego, maybe I should say—it took just about 5 minutes for us to bond and become friends for life. Was I not so choosy then, you ask? Well, is it tough to like yourself in 5 minutes? ;) Anyway, I thought a friend as valuable as that would never come by a second time. I was wrong. I guess 2 really is a good number for me :)

Hobbes is perhaps one other person who is equally choosy about friends. I guess we have both had enough experiences that hold us back, make us take our time to fully understand another person before going from ‘just friends’ to ‘great friends’. And now, I can say without a moment’s hesitation that Hobbes is a “great” friend to have.

I’ve seen Hobbes in good times and bad—and I have immeasurable respect for the way Hobbes wades through it all.

Hobbes’ sense of humour and quick wit, for one. It can leave you laughing uncontrollably till you end up gasping for air at times…OR leave you so stunned, you wouldn’t know whether to laugh or just gawk. Spontaneity at its best. Certain conclusions and one-liners Hobbes comes up with are…well…bloody hilarious. Something you just do not expect from a person who appears “serious, proud and very quiet”.

There are times when Hobbes gets washed over by a wave of depression…and I pretend not to understand that and keep insisting that Hobbes smile at least “half a smile” :D *Hobbes, I really do understand when you’re in the dumps, but there is nothing I can do to help you at such times. Apart from telling you to smile! Apart from listening and saying “Hmmm”*

There are times when I am pissed off with something and I go crib to Hobbes—knowing very well that my problems are nothing compared to Hobbes’. But well, me being me, I still crib :D I could go on and on and on and on, and Hobbes would patiently listen. There would be nothing Hobbes will have to say, to help me, but listen Hobbes will. No questions asked, no judgements made. And all this, while I am just making a mountain out of a miniscule mole hill. :)

When it comes to a fault, Hobbes does not see if there’s friendship or enmity. If Hobbes has to blast, Hobbes will blast. Despite being such close friends, I’ve been blasted too (which surprised a few people because we were supposed to be ‘friends’; now who blasts friends, huh?). Well, I do. Hobbes does, too. What are friends for, if they can’t correct you when you’re wrong? If there’s credit to be given, Hobbes gives it generously—again, irrespective of friendship or enmity. I think that’s a fabulous quality: to be able to separate life from work :)

If you are a friend, Hobbes will perhaps die for you. Well, not literally, of course. But if you want Hobbes to do something for you, Hobbes will do it, despite perhaps not liking it at all. It always surprises me, because I would never do that! I’ve kidded about certain things, and Hobbes always agreed to do it, even after admitting it may not be the best thing to do. Maybe one should NOT be so fiercely loyal to friends. You never know how loyal your ‘friend’ is to you. *Note the point, Hobbes :)*

There are times when Hobbes deserves a kick—for judging people wrongly, for making the wrong ‘friends’, for trusting the wrong people (repeatedly, at that), for helping the ones who do not deserve to be helped…and in all this process, getting hurt. But well, can’t be helped…because Hobbes is Hobbes. I like that :) *No matter what the other person is or does, you have to be you, Hobbes :)*.

Yes, now that I think about it, I really like that! People come and go, some even walk over Hobbes, leaving bruises…but the next time they need help, Hobbes does not think twice before helping (and most probably getting hurt again). Though I’ve blasted Hobbes for that many times, I think that’s amazing. *Remain so, just stop expecting any gratitude, whatsoever. And I still will blast you the next time you do that :D* In Hobbes’ own words, “You fool me once – you are clever; You fool me twice – I am stupid; Hobbes is not stupid; wow, I like that line”.  I do too :D :D

Of course, Hobbes has faults. Well, who doesn’t (except me!), right? Hobbes frets too much about the past; is too perfect and orderly (yes, that’s a fault!); goes into a shell and refuses to talk about it if something upsets Hobbes; does not appreciate telegrams (!); is not a great fan of Calvin & Hobbes despite being christened Hobbes (!!); thinks an i10 is better than a Punto (bah); aaaaaand walks way too fast :D :D Saddest of all, Hobbes does not forgive the mistakes made by self (if they can be called ‘mistakes’, which I personally don’t think is what those are; I think everything is a lesson, a learning, an experience…it makes you one bit stronger, one bit wiser). *You need to get over them, Hobbes. I know it is easier said than done, but you have to. Otherwise, you won’t really get time to make new mistakes :) What’s life without mistakes, to crib over and learn from?*

There are times Hobbes can be absolutely morbid, absolutely mind-numbing and absolutely shocking. I have fallen off my chair quite often at certain things Hobbes said. I’ve laughed sooooo much that I’ve gone so red in the face, making Hobbes all alarmed that something might happen to me. :D

I’ve also gaped in awe at certain other things. Like the courage, the perseverance, the patience, the sense, the logic. Most importantly, the pure will to survive and succeed.

The most amazing thing, however, is the way Hobbes can get up or down to any age level :D Right from 5 to 50 ;) We are capable of being two kids fighting over who is better than the other…and can, in the blink of an eye, be two very mature adults, having a serious discussion on life’s complexities :D

We have long conversations and longer spells of comfortable silences. I read somewhere “The best kind of friend is one with whom you sit on a bench, saying nothing and when you get up and go, you feel as if you had the best conversation of your life!” Oh, I believe that to the last word now :)

*Hobbes, I’m immensely grateful to you for the companionship you gave during some real bad times; for listening to all my cribbing like it was the most important thing at that moment; for guiding me on when I needed directions; for the many, many coffee breaks and walks; for the many deals; for some real impressive pep talks; for the umpteen laughs; for all the mentorship; for cheering me up when I was depressed; for making September 2011 a bearable ordeal; for correcting me when I was wrong; for being a true friend all the time. And most importantly, for being the delight that you are…for being you.* :)

Friendship is a rather strange thing. It is not about going out together and ‘having fun’ all the time; it’s not about having weekend trips together; it is not about lavishing gifts on them; it’s not about sitting around a table together and secretly wondering if you have everything your friend has. Most importantly, it’s NOT about being supportive even when your ‘friend’ is obviously wrong: that’s being the goody-goody, I’m-there-for-you-whatever-you-do Samaritan. Friends don’t let each other tread the wrong path.

Friendship is definitely about being there for each other, through good times and bad. But more importantly, it’s about being a critic and a guide. Goof around, have fun, call each other names, pull each other’s legs, land a surprise, lend a shoulder. But when your friend is wrong, have the courage to point it out, help the person correct the wrong and get back into the right. Be an unconditional friend, but be a valuable one first. That’s when you’re a true friend.

Which is why…

TrueFriendsAreHardToComeBy

Guess with Hobbes, I just got damn lucky :)

.

P.S.: Hobbes, here’s wishing you a fantastic new beginning that remains fantastic till the end. What you leave behind, is definitely something that is best left behind :)

P.S. of P.S.: I’m not to be held responsible if being known as “Hobbes” does further damage to your “aura” :D :D

P.S. of P.S. of P.S.: I still insist: there is no aura :D :P

Meet the husband :)

Yea, so I’ve been reading too many Minty, AB-ey, S-ey and other husband-ey posts (there are definitely many more posts that celebrate love which I’d love to cross link to, esp some of Swaram‘s, but I don’t want to give Google too much work!), I decided it was about time I flaunt introduced mine too :D

OK. Honestly, it’s not that. I was having this most random talk with a colleague when it struck me how blessed I am to have this awesome guy in my life, for life! And I really wouldn’t mind if you decide to give this one a skip — this is just for him, for him, and for him. I’ve dedicated posts here to Pumbaa, to my brother, to my parents, to my friends. It’s highly unfair that I don’t dedicate one for the guy who dedicated his life to me :)

So far, he’s always been referred to (if ever; more like always accidentally mentioned) as “the husband”. Hereby, I officially put to end a never-ending agony of a friend, over the use of those two words and the why behind them (there was never any why, really, now that I think of it).

SURAJ. That’s the name :) (no, not sooraj, but suraj; he’s quite finicky about the spelling :D).

He says, he’s Suraj, the sun (like he’s some character out of Amar Chitra Katha :P )

I think he’s more like the sunLIGHT in my life. ;)

Ahem, guess it’s more or less the same in my parent’s life too, I think I can safely say! If there’s one SINGLE thing they’re really happy about (in spite of it being a completely sole decision of mine), it’s my choice of my ‘life partner’ :) They love him to bits!

To the brother, he’s the “sundaraa, sumukhaa, ente aliyaa:D And to his girlfriend and my soon-to-be chettathi, he’s the “buddy-bro”.

To  Pumbaa, well, he’s just “woof:) but woofed in a really sweet way, at that. ;)

And when I have those sudden bursts of love (which is like every now and then), he’s mostly “Chooyaj”. Well, in my defense, it sounds more baby-like and cuddleable :D which is how generally all things sound when there’s a sudden burst of love :D

Well, what can I say about him, really? Whatever I say, you’ll just have to take at face value—because I’m the ONLY one who he’ll love like this, with whom he’d always and forever be like this. Muhahahah :D and well, I’m being extremely honest here, so just believe it. There are times when he’s leaning over the sofa, propped comfortable over two cushions, face completely turned towards the TV—and yet says something completely heartfelt and soooper nice to me. And I just gawk at him, secretly grinning and congratulating myself for such a prize catch ;)

Considering all the multiple crushes I used to have and un-have while in grad college and post-grad college again,  I never considered myself the type who would be able to fall in love with a guy and just remain fallen for ever! I swear. I’ve had my share of flirting; affairs—one-way, two-way, even no way (!!!); break-ups; heart-breaks, crushes, more heart-breaks… Ok, I must rephrase this bit. You all think I’m a bad, baaad girl no? Well, not really. I’m super nice, come to think of it. :D

Anyways, I was always sure I’d never ever have an arranged marriage. I only believed in a love marriage. And I did NOT believe in love at first sight. When I saw Suraj for the first time, funnily enough, it was actually my BFF who pointed him out and said “Psssttt…check out that guy. Now, he looks goooood, doesn’t he?!”  And I looked, and just “Hmmm”ed at first. What happened after that first “Hmmm” and till that “I do…” about 2.5 years back, is for another post altogether! And, I really don’t want to bore you with all that.

So, coming back to “Well, what can I say about him, really?”.

A close friend (the same one whose agony about “the husband” is now over) once messaged me what she thought about Suraj, saying “The only thing he doesn’t do, is set you on a pedestal and worship you”! :D Come to think of it, that’s so true. :D  *glowing* Well, she did say a few other things which made his day ;) About him being the most simple, sensitive, nicest person she’s known, or something. Of course, I remember verbatim only that line which had me in it :P

He’s, I must say, made for me :D Sometimes I wonder how someone as sane as him can live with someone as insane as me! How someone who’s as calm and level headed as him can tolerate someone as unruly and hot-headed as me. How someone as composed as him can bear with someone as unpredictable as me. How someone with as photographic a memory as his can understand and accept someone could have a memory borrowed from a goldfish, as me! How someone as romantic as him can live, in love, with someone as unromantic as me. For ALL the things I’d  get irritated at if it comes from him, he patiently deals with them all when they come from me! :roll:

He thinks I say it just because I’m so madly in love with him — but I swear, he’s got magic in him ;) And I felt it most a few days back. I’d had an excruciatingly stressful, irritating day at work. He came to pick me up, and I got into the car all pissed off and tired of life. I was extremely hungry too, by the way :D That can make me extra cranky. We reached home, and I made a beeline to the kitchen and gobbled up some food. And then I got more cranky ‘coz I had a tummy ache, a headache, and I was extremely tired and pissed. All it took was a warm hug, and in his real soothing voice, “What happened, darling? Come here to me.” That was it. I was already feeling great :) My tummy ache vanished, there was no signs of the headache, and though I was sleepy, I really wasn’t tired anymore. I call that his “healing touch”. Especially when I get a splitting headache, he keeps his palm across my forehead, and it’s gone in a jiffy! Woohoo!

I know it for a fact that he truly and deeply loves me. It’s no show or act — because they all have a lifespan. Moreover, I can see it in his eyes. During the initial days of courtship, while he used to call me sweet nothings, I used to feel all weird and wondered how someone can call such names so naturally (I told ya, I’m no romantic! — remember the handwritten love letter he gave me? I read it and left it by the computer table, where it lay in near-abandon for 4 days, till he mentioned I could give it a little more value :P ). I wondered how much one should love, to be able to do that (because, I never could!). NOW, I know how much — because all of those names, I now call Pumbaa. So, now when he calls me those, I feel extra special, sooooper happy and on top of the world :) Now, I know your love has to be extremely boundless and pure, to be able to be like that. And that is one thing I am so not proud of: I really think I still don’t love him half as much as he does me :(

If I ever want anything, all I need is to say it, and it’ll be done! In fact, he just doesn’t care what he has to sacrifice for my sake (so, these days I’m quite careful about making random “I wish…” comments :P) No questions asked. He doesn’t care if I already have the exact same thing, and it’s lying unused in some corner. He doesn’t care if an alternative is available at 1/10th the cost; he doesn’t care if I can actually do without it. If his wife wants something, he HAS to get it for her. I guess he took those wedding vows damn seriously! While, if it’s he who wants something, I always have a million questions. Bah, I’m horrid, am I not!? :(

He completely understands my love for my parents and brother, and accepts it. I think, to a large extends, he partakes in it too. Which is why they all think he’s fabulous, too. Before they relocated to Blore, almost ever day I’d have one of my “Amme kaananam…” (I want to see my mommmmm) sessions. And he’d hold me close, and either immediately dial up her number, or if it’s too late to call, just make me feel better and pull me up from the lows.

He spoils me rotten. Before our wedding, he once called my mom and told her “Amma, I just called to demand some dowry.” Needless to say, she was shocked, and a little furious, till he continued with “I want 50 kisses from your daughter everyday. Without fail. Oh, apart from that, I just need your daughter. Nothing else. Sounds OK?” She blushed then. She still sports one of those “awwww” smiles whenever she remembers this conversation! And well, needless to say, again. I’m the one who’s getting all that dowry now :D With additional hugs for every kiss ;) If we were ever to separate, by the time I’m done handing all of my pending kisses (per the deal), we’d continue being together for at least that many years we’d already been together. Now, that sounds great no? ;)

And the pure love. The way he takes one look at my face and reads my mood, makes me sit on his lap and cuddle me like a baby. The way his face lights up when I walk into our living room, after spending a couple of hours downstairs talking to mom — and he says “Hey, you’re back!” Or the way he always picks up the call with an “Entha chakkare” (yea darling?) instead of a normal “hello”. The way he is his usual self, and makes most people in my extended family later tell me “He’s a gem” (yay!). The way he looks at me in whatever state I’m in (dressed well, decked up well, or looking at my shabbiest worst) and says “you’re looking great”. The way he still tells me he loves me, right after I’ve made a Mount Everest out of a mole bump :P

He treats me like a baby when I fall ill, or feel unwell. I make a big fuss when I fall sick. I whine, I walk around like I’m going to die the next instant, I am irritable and cranky. He survives through it all calmly, all the while comforting me. In the middle of the night, if a blocked nose or a cough keeps me from sleeping blissfully, I whine like a kiddo — and he actually wakes up to comfort me, forsaking his sleep, and not minding one bit that I disturbed his (preciously few hours of) sleep. If it were I, I’d be ready to kill anyone who disturbs my beauty sleep. Anyone! :D

There isn’t a single “working” day that he leave without kissing me bye-bye. All he gets in return is a smile, a “bye” and the sight of the quilt quickly going over my head. :D The first thing I see every day is a well-dressed, smart-looking husband; while he sees a groggy, disheveled wife! :roll: Sigh. Apparently, the smile I flash when I open my eyes to see him, is awesome :P [For the record, he has a normal 9-6 job, while I have an abnormal 2-11 job; we both sleep at the same time, but he has to wake up at least by 7 every morn, while I sleep till 10 :D Well, I have to sleep, don't I?? :D

When I am tired after doing some household chore, I'm always amazed at how he automatically gives me a massage, taking it for granted that I'd want one -- even without me asking for one. I used to have a terrible back pain problem sometime back (which isn't half as bad these days), and even now, I think it's a voluntary action for him -- to think I'd have a back pain after exerting myself! These are tiny bits of thoughtfulness which means a LOT. Needless to say (and you get the drift no, dont' you?), I seldom have such thoughtfulness :D

He calls me at least 5-6 times everyday, from office, just to hear my voice. And I, most irresponsible with my mobile phone, will either not pick up the call (for I'd have no clue where it is, or that it is ringing), or if I do (always in the middle of some busy work), either sound too hurried, or busy or curt. And as I write this, I realise, I NEVER call him up just for the heck of it, unless there's some doubt I have or something I want to remind him about. Bah. I think I should stop writing this right now. I'm liking myself lesser and lesser -- something I thought was impossible!!

Yes, so basically, I have a clear picture of what a wonderful dad he'd be someday (and what a moroness of a mom I'd be too). And well, to all others, he's a caring, soft-spoken, mature individual. Unlike me :D

Well, I wouldn't say I'm completely useless :D I've bought a lot of humour and insight into his life (haven't I, Chooyaj??). I've made him understand the need to be a total clown at times; take life less seriously, but make people take him more seriously; subtract all the "formality" with people and add more fun and laughs; be able to assert himself when required, whoever it be to; and most importantly, given him a life which, in his very own words, has been "fruitful and precious" since I came into it ;) So YAY to that as well :)

Of course, he has his flaws: he watches too much TV :P, hates reading, doesn't understand the joys of getting drenched in rains, thinks i'm crazy for not carrying my mobile all the time, thinks there is a time and place for stupid jokes, loves Bangalore, loves watching movies, doens't understand why I can't sleep unless he does, finishes his meals too fast, watches TV even while he's designing something (which pisses the life out of me, grrr), absently nods and "mmmm"s when I'm talking to him, asks me for opinions then either doesn't respond, doesn't follow or again, just nods absently; loves NOT turning off the comp (!!!)...

But in spite of allllllll these, he's still the adorable one and his flaws, when compared to mine, are way negligible :D

Suraj, I just want you to know... I love the way you love me. And I love being able to love you. I'm sure I'm able to do it only because it's YOU. Sometime I do wonder if I'd have been happier if I'd married a richer guy, or a guy who would read all the books I love, or a guy who would hate TV as much as I do, or a guy who would love to walk in the rains with me, or a guy who would live life with as much abandon as I do -- and I always end up with the same conclusion: No, I wouldn't be happier, nor would I be half this happy. Because, irrespective of what that guy does, I'd miss this pure, unadulterated love I get from you!

And I'm so glad you asked me those crazy questions one day long back, and gave me a chance to blurt out all those shocking responses ;) If it weren't for your curiosity, we may not have been together now.

I just cannot thank you enough for agreeing to be mine ;) Here...I dedicate this to you. I think it shows and voices a lot of our love and how we've had it so far ;)

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 :)

two thousand t(h)en: the year that went by :-)

2010. It was good, it was bad.

The year began with a long weekend, with JANUARY 1 falling on a Friday! Most of the month kept us busy house hunting. I had completely given up on blogging, and had not blogged at all, after 15 October 2009! Had joined a new company in November 2009, and was finding myself in a whirlwind. Though the designation and the job was the same, the medium was online (and not print) media and I was very new to it. Shifting from the house in J.P. Nagar, Bangalore, was a difficult decision. But the commute to work was taxing and we figured Koramangala was a mid-point for both me and the husband from our respective offices. By the end of Jan, we chanced up on the house we are at now – and the so-don’t-want-to-move decision became a can’t-wait-to-move one. To add to it, the owner of the previous house became a nag and started bargaining on the advance he had to pay back: finally, he paid us 15k less of what we had given! In a financial crisis ourselves, we almost wanted to smash his head, and waked out of their in fury :D

We moved into this house in the first week of FEBRUARY and fell in love with the place. As for the owner, one gem of a person! A philanthropist of the highest order. Will need a complete post to describe him! :) Anyways, most of Feb was spent settling in, and parents visiting, and making friends at work, and meeting neighbours, and other mundane stuff.

MARCH came in rather quickly, and I was completely settled at work. I made three real good friends there, and the 4 of us hung out like fevicol buddies! :D But apart from office and home, I realized I wasn’t having a life. And so, I came back to blogging. I had had one too many blogging breaks – and I was almost sure I’d be ignored, not read anymore and the like. But to my disappointment, most of the lovely bloggers I’d known and loved had left the blogville! That only made me more worried.  I’d have to start all over again, and make “blog friends”. I’m glad I decided to go ahead. Though I still miss the old “gang” (I still have ALL of them in my blogroll, in the hopes that they’ll come back someday, like I did), the new people I got to know are the best on the planet! :) So, exactly 5 months after my previous post, I made my first post of 2010 on 15 March! It was also then that a school mate wrote me a lovely mail that took me all the way back to school. Thanks MC!

APRIL slowly rambled in and bought in its wake the loss of the husband’s dear mobile. I’ve never seen him so depressed! And I made a post out of it and got labeled ‘the wife who laughs at the husband’s misery’ :D Three days later – after a gap of 4 months – I called up one of my closest friends to know she’s pregnant! Again, all the way back to school I went. Those were the days! It made me think of how much I’ve changed in all those years—and I came to the sad conclusion that I hadn’t changed much. Andthat’s when I listed down some of my LOL stupidities in life—one of my favourite posts so far. April is also the month when the husband and I celebrate our ‘unofficial’ anniversary: and to spice up our life, we decided to go on a week-long trip. A getaway from everything else. Anyways, the father-in-law was retiring the next month, and he also wanted to go on a vacation with us: for gelling-better purposes ;)

We were on vacation all of MAY first week. We went to Coorg and from there to all of his relatives’ places in Kerala and then to Poovar, Tihruvananthapuram! We reached back, got back into the home-work-home lifestyle and I decided to go on a trip every month. Weekend trip, long trip, half day trip…I didn’t mind. I also took a few resolutions: swimming, driving, music classes, gardening and monthly trips. The first three didn’t work, while the last two worked for the most part. My parents relocated to Bangalore and took up the 1BHK on the ground floor of our house. So, we have the whole house to ourselves now! Yey! End of May, we also went ahead and booked our first-ever car: the Tuscan Wine Fiat Grande Punto :) At work, things were getting bad. All four of us were fed up and was planning to move out. Personally, right from the day I rejoined after the vacation, I’d been fed up :P

JUNE was an exciting month. My blog turned 2 and I was mighty proud :D At work, all four of us got new offers and things were being processed. We couldn’t be happier. I was the one who decided to move out, and pulled the other 3 into the bandwagon! So, when there was a plan formulated for a meet-up of us college friends, I couldn’t be happier. The day before our trip, I rushed out from office, requested a dog to excuse me and literally ran home to pack! We were off to Munnar! Cousins, Uncle and Aunt came for a week to Bangalore from Trivandrum, and we all had a great time! We went to Mysore and Srirangapatna – my first time to Mysore after I came to Banaglore 3 years ago :D Well, on the flip side, my uncle had a heart attack (!), my mom’s BP rose high, my aunt had a bad fall and my bro (alone in the UK) had a baaaaaad fever!

JULY came and saw us at Manipal: a most lovely place! It was also a month of so many changes: the Tuscan Wine Fiat Grande Punto came home, I got into IBM—new work timings, new sleep timings, new friends, new work profile… And I posted my first and last ever Thursday Challenge. It was ONLY to show off that photograph: I’ve never participated in a TC or a WW before or after that :D

Starting 15 AUGUST, we celebrated the 10 days of Onam and made the pookkalams on all 10 days:
Atham, Chithira, Chothi, Vishakham, Anizham, Thrukaetta, Moolam, Pooraadam, Uthraadam and Thiruvonam. And after falling badly ill, the week after that, we went off to Wayanad: one of the best places I’ve been to! We trekked up to Edakkal Caves and the Wayanad Heritage Museum, went to Pookkode Lake, Banasura Sagar Dam and the Jain Temple @ Sultan Bathery and went for a safari to the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary.

SEPTEMBER was a fun month, blog-wise. Chatterbox ran the Finish It To Win It contest, and it was a load of blogfun! I finished it to win some prizes! Was too caught up in this, had no time for a trip! :D :D :D :P

Now OCTOBER was horrid. Horrid, simply, indescribably horrid! Caught in a mad man’s world, we suffered a load of mental tension, sleepless nights, unproductive work hours and insult to injury! And if all those weren’t enough, there were even nightmares for rent! Was the WORST MONTH of the year, and filled us all with a lot of hatred and negativity! To ease some of that negativity and bad moods, uncle, aunt and two brats came from Delhi for a week-long vacation and we had fun. We went to Ooty and Mysore—didn’t want to break the trip-every-month vow :D

NOVEMBER, every year, had always been my fav! That’s when my birthday is—and since the past2 years, the wedding anniversary too ;) November 2, the day I turned 26, I got Pumbaa and the Canon EOS550 DSLR Rebel T2i: two of the most precious gifts ever…from a totally precious person—a husband who doesn’t just SAY “anything for you darling”, but DOES something about it too :D It was also the month when I ‘discovered’ an unknown relative through the power of blogging ;) Of course, there were no trips in November—except the ones to the veterinary clinic with Pumbaa ;)

All of DECEMBER literally flew, with Pumbaa keeping us all busy—why, he even had visitors coming in, with appointment, to see him and play with him!!!—and the upcoming end-of-december vacation keeping me super busy at work—result? No time to blog! And on 24 Dec, wrapping up work and packing up clothes, food and Pumbaa, we were off to our Kerala-Goa vacation! Yep, travellogue coming up soooon!

So, a very good year in all, except for the dampner in October—which is like a dampner for life. Everytime we see the scratches on the Punto the blood boils!

Sorry for the boring post, but it’s a record of 2010—for future references, just in case :D :P

Anyways, here’s wishing you all a
FUNtastic, grace-filled, prosperous year ahead.  Let 2011 be the year of your dreams! :)

Ooty: a travellogue

When I signed into WP yesterday, I accidentally clicked on “Random Post”, and I was led to this post, where I listed a few things I had decided to do something about, to avoid getting back into the rut of a monotonous life.

And I noticed that I had written “Vacations are life’s necessities”, and had sworn to go on one every month :D And then I again checked up my blog to see if I had stuck to my decision, and I realised I did it without fail from April – August, and had failed badly from September – November. [September was a month of break from the monthly travels :D and November, well, Pumbaa wobbled in].

No, not December, because I’m off on vacation now: from 24 Dec – 1 Jan 2011! :) It’s a B’lore-Kerala-Goa-B’lore road trip, with Dad, Mom, Bro, the husband and Pumbaa! :)

Anyway, while checking the blog, I again noticed (!) that there was a trip in October, to Ooty, and I’d completely forgotten to update my blog with photographs and superlatives. Well, it wasn’t mere forgetfulness. It was also the fact that the trip wasn’t all that great and I had no superlatives to remind me of it with. :(

I had high expectations of Ooty, and they all crumbled down all the way to the valley! I think Wayanad is the culprit—the root cause for this “hmmm…this place is nothing in comparison with Wayanad” attitude!

Anyways, let me not let the trip slip into the little wedges between the neat piles of good memories and travellogues! :D

So, here it is: the Ooty travellogue.

Uncle, Aunt and the two brats were coming down from Delhi for their first ever Bangalore trip. Their usual agenda is Delhi-Trivandrum-Adoor-Delhi; and it’s been just that ever since my aunt got married way back sometime in the early 90s :D Anyway, this time, they broke the spell and decided to get off the train before it touched Kerala ;)

Now, this is an aunt who loves being crazy – and has raised two equally crazy brat-girls. The elder one is the embodiment of the word ‘tomboy’ and the younger, as feminine as any girl can get. And the Uncle, for as long as I’ve known, is as strict as anyone can get and has successfully completed 50 years, in spite of living half of that in a house with three crazy women :D So, while I was soo looking forward to have them all home, I was a bit anxious about what might and might not upset him. Turned out, he’s a new man :D He was the most fun to have, this time!!!

Yea, so they reached Bangalore on a Friday morning. After loads of hugs and laughs and leg-pulling, I came to work, dreaming of just a trip to Mysore on Saturday. At about 8pm, the husband turns up at office and says, “we’re going to Ooty tomorrow early morning, so come home early. I’m here to pick you.” Ooty!? Yippeeeee! The first and only time I’d been there was in Dec 1999. Over 10 years! I was super excited—and immediately wound up for the day :D

We had planned a quick Bangalore-Ooty-Mysore-Bangalore trip for the weekend. and set off early Saturday morning. The four of us ‘kids’ in the Punto, and the four oldies in the Alto :D

As is customary, we had a quick stop at Srirangapatna, to pay respect to Tipu and his ‘tharavaadu:D Well, with the senior brat around, respect was just NOT a possibility! :D

The body of TIPU SULTAN was found here

Entry to Colonel Bailey's dungeon

The dungeon's story...

The King's Battery -- now called "Sultan Batheri" -- which hides the dungeon.

A view of the many arches "under" the vault. The stone slabs on the far end of the pic, where prisoners were chained to. the part of a canon, just a decorative piece (per what I overheard a guide say :D)

After a quick tour of Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon, we stopped at Tipu’s favourite mosque, the Masjid-e-Ala built in 1784 (whoa! 200 years before I was born :D).

Twin towers of the Masjid-e-Ala

The open terrace, near the entries to the prayer hall.

After a quick tour of the mosque (it was closed), we drove on towards Ooty. The weather was splendid, and we had a good drive—light drizzles, sunshines, rains, drizzles and more sunshine.

The harbinger of rains...

Rains that splashed all around...the car :D

View from the shielded side of te windshield :D

When the rains left, and only the droplets remained ;)

Anyway, on the way, we passed through Bandipur National Park and spotted a few animals (unlike the experience at Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary.Oh, but nothing “wild”, anyways :D :D :D :D

The elephants and a little one.

The "dears"...

The monkeys...

The python that crossed the road...

...and the long, winding road.

The brats were thrilled to see the animals, the various other animal safety signboards, the sexy, winding road and the greens on both sides. And of course, that was no python. It was just a piece of log, which did NOT cross the road :D

And it was then that a trip plan for December was formulated and agreed up on. I was explaining to the brats how this National Park was spread across 3 states—Bandipur in Karnataka, Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu and Muthanga in Kerala—and the name Muthanga just COMPLETELY avoided me! We all kept wondering what the name was: one that starts with M, had a tribal case in Kerala long time back in the name of that place, a tribal female involved, etc. And finally, the husband said some name and was sooooo sure he was right. I was soooo sure he was wrong, knew it was a longer word, though I couldn’t quite get the right name. Finally, he agreed for a Delhi trip end-of-Dec if I could prove him wrong.

The next 15-20 minutes, I was super silent. All I had in mind was a violent and sad tribal police case known by the name of this place, the letter M and this tribal lady’s face and her curly hair :D.  It was almost a half hour later, while in the midst of photographing a group of hyper active monkeys, I dropped the camera, dug my nails into the husband’s shoulder and said “Muthangaaaaaa”!!! For a moment, he was so blank-faced, I felt like apologising! :D

I won the bet. So, the plan was on for Destination Dilli in December :) “Before that, where to, in November?”, I asked. To which he smiled slyly and said “That might not happen, and you might not even want to”. It was a mystery to me then. But when Pumbaa wobbled in, I knew! :) Of course, Dilli plan changed the day Pumbaa came in—and just a week back, we finalised Goa plans:D

As we began the climb to Ooty, the beauty of the Western Ghats slowly unveiled. It was soothing and a prelude to better things to look forward to.

First sighting of the Ghats...

The mingling rain clouds and the emerging sun gave a captivating image...so we stopped for a few clicks.

This is when, the teenage senior brat got into the ro-ro-romantic mood a love song and a backdrop of cloud capped hills can get one into. And she, in a most dreamy way, said “I think I’ll come to Ooty for my honeymoon…with a horse.” “You marrying a horse!?”, we asked, to which she said “Yea. Free horse ride all over the place.” “Hmmm…and horse power advantage too”, I said. She was shocked, and immediately regretted the horsey honeymoon idea. And we teased her no end about it.

We stopped at a view point a little further up to see these:

From the viewpoint...

We reached Ooty by about 6pm and settled into a decent hotel.

Oh, in between, let me not forget to mention that Amma was feeling nauseous the previous night and feared dysentery—and her fears were met the next day! In spite of which, she was trip-ready! :D The poor thing threw up so many times, and was totally exhausted by the time we reached Ooty! :(   After freshening up, we took Amma to the nearest hospital. Bad news greeted us: Amma was badly dehydrated and had to be put on a double-bottle-drip treatment! Poor thing :( We stayed with her at the hospital till about 11, leaving only to have dinner, that too, in shifts! Took her back, and we all had a good night’s sleep.

Amma was all healed and completely rejuvenated the next day morning, and we set out to see Ooty: which wasn’t much. We went to the Honeymoon Boat House, had a good round of boating (throughout which I, highly disappointed in the scenery, kept bragging about the boating we had at Pookkode Lake, Wayanad).

The Honeymoon Boathouse

The lake and more...

The brilliantly blue sky is what made the lake look this good!

They grazed the occasion :D

And that’s when the senior brat noticed a few horses nearby. “Horse ride next”, said she. In between peals of laughter and more leg-pulling, it was then rounds of horse rides for the two brats and the uncle! And me, the photographer, had to trot, gallop and out-race the horses to get pics from all angles. Phew! Was that tiring!

The boat house was maintained very well, and had some really beautiful flowers that adorned the place. The blue sky and the towering trees added their bit too ;)

We then headed for the toy train which we spotted from the lake and had a joy ride–yelling “chayey…chai”, “vadey vadaa vadey”, “meals meals meals”, etc. We created such a din that the folks in the other “bogies” were either laughing, or cursing us :D No one joined us, though. Kill-joys!

Spotted this from the boat, and just HAD to have a ride :D

As we chugged this way and that...

...and even went squealing through a tunnel!

Then, we headed to Doddabetta, the highest peak in Tamil Nadu (2634 mts above msl) that lies near the meeting point of the Eastern and Western Ghats! The thing I loved the most there were the bisi bisi bhajjis and the cold cold ice creams :D

The view tower, which promised a telescopic view of the Coimbatore city, was a complete scam. I even told the operator that much. Said “Anna, even without my glasses, I can see the city more clearly than through your silly, unfocused, scam telescope.” He soooo didn’t like it, and almost shooed me off the pedestal, to make way for the next! :D But seriously, such a waste of time and effort, I tell you! Why, there was even a long queue to be eligible to view. Bah! I even discouraged quite a few people joining the queue, much to the operator’s chagrin :D

The scam centre :D

This is what we COULD NOT see through the telescope! :P

Way to Dodabetta...and back.

Ooty was done. We bought a couple of bunched from the dry-flower vendors outside the Botanical Garden, and were on our way to Mysore, stopping only for a quick lunch.

Mysore was brilliantly decked up: all lit up and crowded. It was the 10-day Dussehra period. And to add to it, this year it was specially special. It was the 400th Dussehra being celebrated!Thanks to a stupid camera and a milling crowd, all pics taken were blurred!

One of the two royal "chariots" on display

One of the two royal "chariots" on display


But honestly, the palace stands like a real jewel when the surrounding areas are dark! It seemed to lose some of its splendid beauty in all the light! But beautiful it was, nonetheless. The crowd was overwhelming, and we decided not to go into the palace, after the disappointment a couple of months back! I recently got this by mail…a 360 degree view of the Mysore Palace—interiors and exterior. Probably filmed ages back, or maybe as a means of getting people to visit, in spite of all the missing artifacts!

So, after more pics , by about 7.30pm, we decided to head to the Vrindavan Gardens which was slated to be open till 9pm, thanks to the festive season. But well, like last time we tried to reach the Palace from Chamundi Hill to catch it lit up, we went around in circles for almost an hour, with every single of the 12 people we asked directions for, sending us in opposite directions! That all the roads were blocked up at different parts because of the festival, traffic and finding the route became a chaotic nightmare! Finally, by the time we were given the right directions, it was just too late and we’d have no way reached the Garden before closing time :( We gave up! And by about 8.45, took the road back to Bangalore. We reached home tired, exhausted and unbelievably sleepy by about 12.45am!

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The trip was not just disappointing, it was hectic as well. Our mistake. We should’ve either taken an extra day, or left Mysore for another day. But well, even the time at Ooty wasn’t all that exciting. Sigh.

Minuscule world, this blog world!

Yea, so we blog. We and post stories and fiction and memoirs and pictures and rants and leg-pullers and all kinds of stuff.

We make friends, and ‘sisters’ and ‘brothers’ and ‘soul mates’ and all kinds of relationships.

And there are times when you come across a blog through another’s, read through, like it and comment on it. And that person comes back and reads through, likes it and comments on yours.

And it’s all the normal bloggy stuff.

Until.

She (evidently a dog lover and still nursing memories of Goofy) shows pictures of your long lost pet to her husband. And, is in for a surprise when the husband, instead of noticing the pet that was intended to be noticed, notices the man standing by it and says (not verbatim) “Oh! I know him. This is xxxx who lived behind the Vanchiyoor Court (Trivandrum, Kerala). I’m sure.”

So she mails you and asks “Hey. I was showing pictures of Pumbaa to my husband when he looks at your dad and says he’s very familiar. Did he live in Vanchiyoor”? And so, a trail of mails goes to and forth till you realize you’re no longer just blog-friends, but relatives too!

And my dad knows not just her husband, but his brothers, the house they lived in, and even knew one of the brothers who was in the Income Tax!

This weekend, I realised Shail (Shail’s Nest) is my dad’s uncle’s brother-in-law’s wife’s first cousin’s wife! :D :D :D Yey! How much closer can we get?

Okie! In simpler terms, the brother-in-law mentioned above is just like my grandpa to me. So, that makes us pretty close relatives! :P :P :P

And to think I’ve seen the name “Shail” and noticed her comments in many of my blog friends’ comment sections since a loooooong time, but never bothered to link through and read it… and the week that we actually linked to one another, we realize we’re relatives.

It isn’t just a small world, it’s a rather minuscule one!

Blogging rocks! :)

Contest, stories, comments and character

Chatterbox, lovingly referred to as “CB”, ran a contest at her blog. Named Finish it to Win it!! (yes, you see the badge on my right panel here?), she gave us one half of a story…and asked us to complete it the way we liked, in less than 1200 words. Check out the contest, the rules, the first half of the story CB wrote, and the entries by a bunch of enthusiasts at the Finish it to Win it!! page of her blog ;)

It was a load of fun. Or, should I say it is a load of fun, since the entries are still being posted as per the order she got them in…

What’s most amazing about this contest is the fact that ONE STORY — of a husband, wife, daughter, an ex-girlfriend and a particular situation — could end in 19 different ways! The husband, Will, now has 19 personalities; Rose (the wife) has over 10 (‘coz she came out as a loving, innocent wife in more than one entry) and Mary (the not-so-virgin ex-girlfriend) has over 15! :D Betty, sadly has only two: one of a sleep-a-holic and one where she’s a naughty poet! ;) Isn’t it stunning, that the same people and the same situaton, can end in uniquely different endings when different people look at it?

Some of the entries are so transparent of its authors’ characters: you read them and you know who wrote them :D, while others have tried to portray a scenario which so does not portray them. Some of them made it humourous, some went for unexpectedly awesome twists, some tried the romantic route, some the whacky! And one, the utmost nonsensical ROFL-material: indeed shows his/her “Will Power” !!!! :D

Now, I guess the only sad outcome would be that I went mad when it came to comments and was highly critical. I’m sure I’m gonna lose ALL my blog readers for the comments I’ve put up on their stories. Sigh! :(

If I’m allowed to defend myself, let me tell you: I was only being nuts. The past few days saw my most jobless and crazy days in office. Though not entirely jobless, I made more friends there, and became close to quite a few crazy ones :D Which effected in us having internal chats on the most craziest, LOL topics ever. And in between all those chats would come up one of the new stories. Well, crazy chats can be contagious over to WordPress too!

And when Gyanban commented, I think provoked by my looong comment, in one of the stories about how people turned subjective about these things and said “we cannot not like this story because some of our personal belief system disagrees with the concept. “, I realised maybe I went overboard! :DFor an argument’s sake, I can certainly say “I can not like something because it’s against my personal beliefs”, but well, it’s not a point to be arguing about in this context.

I apologise if I’ve been rude and have hurt any of you authors (no, no one gave me a hint that they’ve been hurt; I’m saying this because I felt I may owe it to some people).

Again, let me tell you, I’m not against any of you personally…or your thoughts, for that matter. It being a contest, and it being about having fun, I was just conducting postmortems on the different characters portrayed by Rose and Will and Mary and the rest. I reread some of my comments and felt I sounded awful — well, at least to the authors, I must’ve sounded awful! :D Those authors — whose story I criticised too much — must think “And she’s so good to me when she comments on my blog: because she knows it’s me. Here, when she doesn’t know, she’s being honest and herself. Hypocrite”

No, am not a hypocrite :D If I don’t like a story, I’ve been honest about it. If I’ve liked it, I’ve been honest about it :D Just like I do when I comment on your posts on your blogs too ;) If I’ve said “I don’t like this story”, that’s all I’ve meant: that I don’t like the story; it does not mean I don’t like you or your character. In one particular story, which was against my ideals and principles, I’ve been vocal about it. Again, that does not mean I dislike the author; it only means I don’t necessarily agree with his/her idea. Again, maybe that was just a twist the person came up with, irrelevant of his/her ideals. Except for one or two stories, I have no clue who wrote which :D So, there’s NOTHING PERSONAL about any of my comments.

If I’ve inadvertently hurt any of you, I seek your apology!

P.S.: I’m honestly not as bad as I sound in my comments :D :D :D :D :D :D
And pPlease vote for me, for I wrote the best one :P :D ;)

Finish it to Win it!!

Wayanad: clean, friendly and breathtakingly beautiful (Travellogue Part 3)

After Edakkal Caves and Wayanad Heritage Museum the previous day, our Day 2 seemed to be a long one ;)

DAY 2: The day dawned late (by about 9 or so) and we had a quick breakfast before we headed for Pookkode Lake, Banasura Sagar Dam and the Jain Temple (again! :D). By the time we reached Pookkode Lake, it was pouring! And the highlight of the location, of course, is boating :D Amma immediately declared that I wouldn’t be allowed to go boating. And I immediately declared that we were all going for boating :D :D Well, finally, only the husband, I, my cousin and Kochachan were interested. And we set out. I CANNOT describe the beauty of the place through words…and though I’m sure the camera did not do complete justice either, here, see for yourselves!

Pookkode Lake is a scenic, 13-acre natural fresh water lake that apparently resembles the Indian map! Well, I can only say that for sure if I get an aerial view. This is something the boat driver told us while we were boating there. But well, we did see the Kashmir, Gujarat and Kerala-Tamil Nadu regions :D The east wasn’t very clear ;) Thanks to the rain, the sight was made all the more beautiful, with the fog descending and lifting every 2nd minute! Tall trees and dense foliage surround the lake, and there’s a narrow pathway that hugs the lake all around, which one can walk along.

A view on the way to Pookkode Lake

The Pookkode Lake...enveloped in rain. View from the refreshment shop there.

Just another shot...through the palm trees that made a sexy pattern :)

The sexy, placid Pookkode Lake :)

 

That's when suddenly the fog descended...

...and covered everything in a hazy beauty!

And before we could click enough pics, it lifted just as suddenly as it had come down on us...

...the haze disappearing and the beautiful greens re-appearing...WOW!

We couldn't get enough of the beauty there was...

...the beauty of water, foliage and the hills beyond.

The friendly sailor ;) who took an awesome pic of me and the husband ;)

Well, the boating and the lake turned out to be super beautiful experiences, that Amma, Achan and Kunjamma were forced to join in…and so we went on Round 2 ;) You get only pedal and row boats here, since motor boats affect the surroundings, marine life and serenity: it being a small, closed area (the reverberation from the motor boat would be deafening). Additionally, there was a fresh water aquarium that boasted of a large variety of fish. But Dad peeped in and said there were very few: apparently, the fish wasn’t able to cope with the climate at Wayanad (this is again something the boat driver told us, when we asked him). There’s a children’s park, a nursery (flowers) and a spices and handicrafts shopping centre in the same campus (if I may call it that) arranged by the DTPC.

The tea estates of the Harrisons Malayalam Company...on the way to Banasura Sagar Dam :)

Banasura Sagar Dam (pronounced as Baana-asura Saagar) is India’s largest and Asia’s second largest earth dam. The way to the dam was slushy. Literally. We all almost slipped and skidded and skated for about a kilometer, till we reached the seemingly never-ending flight of steps. Amma was fed up of the muddy path and the steps and kept saying “We needn’t have come here at all” all the way till the top. But once we reached there, we all realized that it was worth all the effort and strain! The view from the top is to die for!!
If it hadn’t been for Banasura Sagar Dam and the breathtaking beauty there, I’d have gladly agreed with whoever said “Pookkode Lake is unarguably the most scenic spot in Wayanad”. I swear to God, even Manali wasn’t this beautiful!

Slanting greenery on one side, a tarred roadway where you can walk the length of the dam, a beautiful placid reservoir dotted with islands on the other side…and flowing green hills in the background. A small decorative setting on the dam top with a flower garden where pretty colours sway to the cool breeze, a small area where the tropical tree varieties are grown and maintained with local and biological names, and a dozen varieties of the shade “green”. A completely beautiful visual, which might even make you think you’re dreaming! Amidst the dam reservoir, there is a set of islands that provide a fascinating view! It’s a hypnotising sight and can hold you there for as long as you keep looking! The islands were formed when the reservoir submerged the neighboring areas. The islands, with the flowing hills of the Western Ghats in the background, I think will beat any other view you’d get in India! :D The tallest of the peaks—with a stream of water flowing by its side glowing like a necklace, and the clouds creating a veil over it—can easily pass for a shot taken in Switzerland!

The slanting greenery on one side of the dam...

The greys, whites, blues, greens and more...

The most stunning of all the peaks there...with the small decorative setting on the right foreground.

The clouds coming down to kiss the hilltops...

...and then washing themselves in the reservoir's waters...

Needs no descriptions, does it!?

This is the true meaning of the word beauty. Awwww!

When again the fog lifted abruptly...

The tropical trees standing guard to the beauty all around them.

The stunningly beautiful reservoir, with the many islands dotting it.

Sshooo...what a beauty!

And then the rain clouds gathered...hinting we were to leave Nature alone and prod on, back to where we belonged!

And so, we left behind the beauty, the hills, the waters, th islands...

And walked a long way along the paved dam-top...

That's us, leaving behind the beauty, taking with us beautiful memories.

There was speed boating available here, but because of the long queue, we decided not to go for it. But it looked tempting. The speed boat looked like a speck in the huge reservoir! We went crazy with the camera and went click, click and more click :D We then began walking the length of the dam in the hope of finding a better road that would take us back to the parking lot. And every 5th step, we’d turn around to gaze at the heavenly sight we were leaving behind!

Hehe...the aunt, Amma, Me and Achan filing down, obediently, as per the husband's order ;) ;)

A long walk took us back to the parking lots, saving us from the muddy path and the many steps. It was already 4.45 or so. The Jain temple would close at 5.30. So we sped back….and reached there just in time.

Located right on the NH 212, the Jain Temple @ Sultan Bathery is of historical importance. Tipu Sulthan is believed to have stored his armoury in this temple: which is why, in fact, the whole area is called Sulthan Bathery (from Sultan’s Battery). The Jains then apparently migrated to nearby Kalpetta and built another temple there, but even today, they visit this temple during Mahavir Jayanthi to celebrate it. Apparently, there’s a tunnel from the sanctum sanctorum to the temple well, where Tipu stored his battery. The tunnel is now closed to public. The well’s depth is unfathomable. There was sign that said that the temple well, when cleaned in 2002, threw up a few sculptures which are now kept inside the temple.

The Jain Temple @ Sulthan Bathery...and its surroundings.

 

The rear of the temple. I loved the lawned walkway.

It’s a small temple, well-kept; now in the custody of the Archaeological Department of the G.O.I. It’s tough to find it, as there’s just this small blue board:

Anyway, we reached home by about 6.30, yap yapped for about 2 hours, had dinner, strolled for a while across the courtyard, laughed our hearts out, took U-turns, fell into gutters and finally went to bed! It would be an early day the next day: we were going for the safari in Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary. :) To be continued…

P.S.: Am sure that was an overdose of images…that too, many of them almost identical. But well, I couldn’t resist posting them! Aren’t they amazing!?