Friday, November 20, 2009

Beauties, Bombs and Bengaluru

She has a priceless expression and looks unimaginably beautiful. Her glittering face brighter than the colors of the sunset hiding all the burning sorrows behind; her hairs thicker than that of a evergreen forest and forcefully tied like the way a broomstick is tied; her rolling eye balls matching the speed of the moon revolving round the earth, in a way to attract all the stars in the universe and see the falling stars; her artist-created nose with perfect size and shape; her lips were ready to open out all the words of love to her world; and she is absolutely a gorgeous girl in all possible ways. Everyday getting drenched in the rain showers, smiling at the people around, no matter who did what, and her response would never change even with the inhuman and chaotic behavior of others around her. Anyone is welcome to meet her any time and any day. She is a timeless beauty who observes millions of others who are running out of time. She was born with godly colors and super natural powers. She can bring in smile on any face and she can stop the time for a moment just to make her presence felt. She is not alone. She has her friends. Her friends are in different forms and shapes. Some are very near to her and some very far away but yet very near to her heart. They are all the children of the same creator. A creator! The one who created them is not only a god for them but also he is not-just-a-god for them. No. Not just a god! With such creations, the whole world looks nice, not just nice, but also beautiful. If the world looks at such pleasant and marvelous creations, it would go to a relaxed state even before it realizes what it is.

One day, I saw her and was dumbstruck by her beauty. The world around me stopped at my wrist watch until I moved myself from where I was. My eyes could not believe that such a thing exists and I am bound to see such amazing things. I was totally taken aback by the fact that I missed something all these days. While I was convincing myself that I was not day dreaming, I was really surprised it was not my dream. Feeling good about it, I moved on to see the world.

After such a beautiful encounter with the luck and beauty of sight, there comes the dangerous encounter of my life. It was again unimaginable to the extent that I could not stop myself getting mad. The road I was travelling looked like one hell. It was not like this before. It was a heaven. Heaven it was. I used to see this road full of life and activities. How can it be like this when so many are yet to walk across and live by the road side? I could see the bombshells all over. I could smell the grenade stones. They are throwing bombs. Who is it? Many row houses were smashed and looked like a targeted bomb hit. Many people losing their shelter, crying for peace, calling god, to show some mercy on them. Who will listen to them? Who will give them what they have lost? Very soon it will become a lake of tears and a paradise of sorrows. Bitter memories to take forward and lost hopes on care takers. Why is this happening? At what cost? Life…? I used to walk as fast as a skate board. I used to breathe fresh air from the heavenly beautiful trees. I used to come here regularly even if I miss my regular breakfast. Where else can I go? I unknowingly noticed that tears had splashed my face with bitter sadness and with a non-functional-wiper as a complimentary to my tear showers. And a rage for knowing the reason for this cause shivered all over my body. Before even I got to know, the war was finished. There were many unfortunate people who had to take up the new life of accepting sorrows. With greatest of the greater difficulty, I moved. I moved from one end of the road to the other end. There is no difference anywhere. It was as hell-looked as it hell-looked earlier. And there were still many warriors who were causing destructions. They had no options left but to destroy. They were sent to perform better. It is their life and living mantra. Can I say go to hell being in a hell? I just resigned and moved on hoping all that happens, happens for a better purpose.

Well, for me, the above two events are two different experiences. When I saw the ‘Tribal’ girl’s painting on one of the walls of K R Circle in Bengaluru, nobody could stop me from dancing-in-the-heaven type of feeling. I must say, the artists working for BBMP to create these paintings of various regional specialties are just wonderful. They are making ‘Namma Bengaluru’ look like ‘Namma Bengaluru’. Any visitor or a tourist who visits Bengaluru will feel great to be welcomed into the city by such excellent paintings, which not only reflects but also keeps up high on our heritage and culture. It just feels awesome. More power to all the artists.

But the same visitor or a tourist, even by mistake travels by the Kuvempu road that connects Malleswaram circle and the West-of-Chord road, will feel like walking into a war field with the bomb and grenade shells around. It was an interesting observation made by my good friend Kowshik some days back and that made me think more about this. He beautifully compared it with the war field. He said he used to travel on this road everyday and he feels awkward now to even think about going into the road. And not just awkward, it is a very hurtful feeling to see the destruction caused by the Namma Metro work. Many trees being cut, many roads being cracked, many houses being destructed, causing problems for the land owners and having not compensated them well, all these are nothing but devastating.

So, it is our own ‘Namma’ Bengaluru which has both pleasant and destructive effect on the people.

I can only wish for a good time soon!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

The last leg

I am not referring to the last leg that I am thinking for myself. But I am referring to those who call it as their ‘Last leg’ when it comes to giving back to the society. I am now beginning to believe that ‘Altruism’ in each of us will wake up someday for sure. At the same time, I also started to see how people change as soon as the ‘altruist’ in him or her is active.

There are a plenty of issues to worry about in Bengaluru for us. Starting from the Reddy brothers’ adventure in tearing the system up and down; our beloved CMs incapability of handling the issues; many of the very good and well reputed civil servants being inhumanly transferred; trying hard to move a file from one table to the other inside the government setup; pathetic roads; irritating traffic; BBMPs moves on cutting down trees and demolishing buildings for the metro; worrying about the routine office work; waiting for the right time to get into the system; changing the scene by getting into politics somehow; discussions on the 100% contribution of the time towards passion; and the list goes on.

Every weekend, before I go to sleep, all I do is to think about whom I met, what did I talk, what did I learn and what is the next step? Both the days of this weekend were as hectic as ever. When I mean hectic, I do not mean that I will be occupied or working for 24 hours, I only mean that on both the days, there will be enough content to get loaded onto my mind to think over it further. I can call it actually as a mind-blowing weekend. And it is not that it is happening for the first time, but it is making a significant impact on the way I was seeing things. It was mainly because of the people I met during the weekend, the discussions I had with them, the challenges that we discussed about, observations being made on activities and many more. Two of those interesting events are still lingering in my mind and poking me to share it in words.

I always had an anxiety of meeting people who are very passionately doing things and making a difference to the society. Not because I am not doing things or I do not have passion for things. It is because; first thing that they notice is that I am not able to pursue my passion as a full time activity. It is not that I do not want to do it, I was always ready to continue working towards things that I am very passionate about and to take the risk against the present comfort of financial security. But given the fact that having spent very less time on my passion, i.e., during the precious other-than-official-working-hours, it is obvious and easy to say that I cannot expect huge results. And this is exactly what I heard from a senior person I met yesterday who is working towards his passion since 30 years. It was not only inspiring, but also an eye-opener for me. While I was thinking about it myself and having discussed on the same with many other close friends of mine, this discussion is making me to get-off-my-ass state and think seriously about it. Hopefully, very soon, I will. (This does not mean that I will stop meeting such people).

The second event is about a person who is willing to dedicate his precious time for serving others. I keep meeting a lot of people who are in to such noble work. But the point here for me is not about ‘many other’ people; but about this ‘person’ over a period of time, has changed himself to take this noble decision. The reason why I am saying this is because I know this person from good number of years and I had always observed in him that he was fully occupied with just what he was doing and had not shown interest in whatever we are doing for our project. Not that we were expecting him to help us given the fact that he was always busy with his work, but it was just that we were in need of and waiting for a good break-through that could come from anyone at any time. So, I was thinking that he is the way he is and that is how his life is shaped. But interestingly, today, when I met the same person, I was surprised to see a completely different person in him. All because of his experience of working at a place where he got exposed to the harsh realities of India and eventually understanding the pains of many people who are in need of help. It was a very strange and had to believe because, even though he had seen us working for the cause since many years, and he had also seen few of his friends who are dedicating their time for the poorest of the poor who are in need of such people, he changed himself only after his encounter with the harsh realities such as ‘Poverty’. Altruism, I guess, wakes up at such strange encounters. It was good to see him confronting his highly spirited state with us this evening. So he has finally decided to spend his last leg of life by doing service to others.

I am very sure that there will be many such people with us who will be waiting for such encounters to happen. And I am sure it will happen at some point in time as we have a lot more issues to see and need a lot more people to do whatever it takes to do to see the others in a fairly good state. And one need not wait till they reach their last leg of their life.

Looking forward to more of such mind-blowing days!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Little things

A Walk into the nature
in a misty weather
with parallel views
and thoughts alike
following the steps
one after one…

Listening to the noise
of the rivers flows by
and pushing to the dust
in the blowing wind
looking at the sky
playing a silent music…

Chirp, chirp it comes
you smile for a while
up goes eyebrows
wide opens the mouth
before you say
it goes purrrrrr…

Walking the talk
forgetting the past
thinking, life
of you and me
to pass the tough
and an unconditional love…

Lovely time
mesmerizing sight
catching with moods
to make up the past
sailing to the present
by holding hands…

And we move
into the free mind
relaxed a little
breathing fresh
feeling light at heart
and suddenly…
Life looks beautiful…

Oh well… these nice little things…


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Into the tranquil Islands

Far beyond the wave…
to an absolute serenity…
Wild and the weathered…
And dreams come true!
I wasn’t reading the Alchemist book, but it reminded me of the book again and again. I wasn’t going through the same dreams anymore but it reminded me of the same dream again. I wasn’t sure of witnessing what I encountered which took my breath away for a few seconds. I could smell the wonderful perfume out of the odomos mosquito repellent cream rubbed onto my hands and shoulders. I could forget all the ant bites and feel good for its nice small red kisses created on my body. And I was shell shocked that I was not dreaming, rather I was seeing and witnessing what I had dreamt off or I could encounter the beauty beyond my dreams and thoughts. The moment that took my breath away was when I saw the ‘Orange Moon’ setting into the Arabian Sea at 3 am in the morning on November 1st, 2009 at the Thonse Par Island.
It was our much awaited ‘State level Island Expedition 2009’ organized by the Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI). After a successful pilot camp in the year 2008, YHAI had announced this Island expedition for this year as well. As soon as we got the information from Sujay on the expedition we registered for the event. Sandy had booked the bus tickets for both leg journeys. We were supposed to report at the camp site Barkur which is 23 kms from Udupi on 30th October at 9.30 Am. So we had to start from Bengaluru on 29th October evening. Our team size from Bengaluru was 13 in total. But since TS was in Bellary, he planned to travel from there directly. So 12 of us, Sandy, Sunil, Sujay, Ashwin, Sudhi, Harish, Raghu, Harish D, Kowshik, Lakshmi, Thileepan and I boarded the Sugama travels from our respective pick up points. I met Sudhi, Ashwin and Harish for the first time and I was looking forward for a good time with them. To our bad luck and wrong assumption, we got to know that the bus may reach Udupi only at 8.30 Am in the morning if the road is good. So we were really not sure if we would make it to the camp site on time.
Well, the journey in Sugama travels was not as good as the name of the bus was. Our adventure started as soon as we started our bus journey. Because of some terrible noise from the window, Sujay, Sudhi, Ashwin and Hari had to take the back seats. And at 2 Am, there was a horrible incident of a woman being molested by the bus cleaner. Shame on the bus service and their staff. Read Sudhi’s writing for more details on this. And to our bad luck, at 3 Pm, our bus encountered with some technical problem and we all had to get down and move to some other bus. Fortunately, within 5 minutes we got in to the second bus which had only 10 seats. But unfortunately, Kowshik, Lakshmi, Sunil and Raghu could not make it to the second bus. They did not get into the bus because the bus was full. So our team was divided mid way. Eight of us, settled ourselves in the fairly good seats but with full of bed bugs. None of us got good sleep, but by then, we encountered the second twist of the day. We had crossed the Dharmasthala junction and adding to our bad luck, even the second bus (so called IDEAL travels) encountered a breakdown in its gear box. All our excitement of reaching the campsite on time got washed away. We were very sure of not making it on time. We called Kowshik and team and updated them that we would wait for them in Mangalore as we were not sure of reaching the campsite on time. We got in to the third bus and luckily we reached Mangalore without any problems. All along the way, Sujay was claiming that he was responsible for all the breakdowns. He and his team say that if Sujay is with us, we will encounter such problems every time. We had some good fun during our bus ride with all our poor jokes.

So we reached Mangalore at 9.30 Am and we called TS who had already reached the campsite. He checked with Mr. Adiga, the camp coordinator whether we can join them or not for the day. We got to know from TS that there is no possibility of we joining them and we were asked to join them only in the evening at the next campsite. We were all very disappointed of not making to the campsite on time and we would miss 1st days event. But we did not give up. I called Mr. Adiga directly and asked him on the possibility; he was kind enough to tell us that we can join them at 12 near the BenneKaduru where the motor boats will depart to the Islands. We promised him that we would reach there by 12 Pm and booked two cars (Ambassadors) and left from Mangalore. We updated Kowshik on our plans and came to know that they were still on their way to Mangalore in a government bus. Since it would be difficult for them to join us, they had decided to relax and join us in the evening at the first day’s camping site Padukere.
While we were on the move, I got a message from TS saying “Please make it early, they won’t wait”. I looked at my watch; it was already 11:45; we were still 20 km away from the place we had to reach. I called up Mr.Adiga again and requested him to wait for us. He was kind enough to say “not to worry, we are waiting for you to come here”. Both our car drivers were really good and consistently moving fast. They did not even bother at the dirty road which had turned like a mountain biking terrain. As the saying goes, ‘every beginning will have a happy ending’, we reached the BenneKaduru temple at 12:05 and we were happy to see the crowd assembled and waiting just for us. We were welcomed by Mr.Adiga and we also apologized for being late explaining our travel adventure. Finally, like politicians or the heroic characters, eight of us, arrived late and walked into the motorboats to our respective teams.
Beyond the waves!

And our journey started! It was good to see more than 80 participants from across South India participating in event. We were divided into 6 groups of 15 members each. We were given pack lunch for the afternoon and all they had made transport arrangements for our rucksacks to be shifted to the Padukere campsite. So, only we, our lenses, food and the boat were going to see the Islands.
We were sailing on the amazing back waters of Sita River. Blue waters, coconut trees, fisherman on their fishing boats holding their fishing nets to catch their breads, sun observing us sailing from an inch above the coconut trees, Far seen Islands welcoming us to embrace its beauty, made me relaxed, forget the stressful past and attain the sub-conscious state as I sailed along the waters. We reached the first Island that welcomed us with its absolutely peaceful nature and fresh air. We walked around the place for some time and had a good discussion with Mr. Adiga and other senior members as well. There were quite a few senior citizens who were trying their best to look as younger as ever. From the initial discussions with Mr. Adiga itself, I could make out how humble and down to earth person he is. It is a very rare chance that one could get to meet such people. I was also lucky for meeting him.

We got into our respective boats and started sailing again. The next journey was to one more island where we were supposed to have our lunch. It was a very big island compared to the first one and also there was a drinking water facility. So it was the right place to have lunch. As soon as we reached, we had our lunch; since we all were hungry; we ate like we had not seen the food for years. We walked around the Island and took some good shots. Best part of the island was our photography session. I was always looking forward to learn some good photography from Sujay and others. It was a right occasion for me to explore some good clicks.

Sailing from the second Island to the next destination was real fun. It was already 3 Pm and we were looking forward to meet Kowz, Lax, Sunil and Raghu who would reach Padukere camp. But our sailing did not end so soon. It was a long ride from the second island to the next stop. At a few places, we had to get down from the boat and push it to get it on to the water because of the high sand level. It was a real good experience and all the folks enjoyed it. After the wonderful boat ride, we all had to get down for the next 2 hours walk on the paddy fields.
Paddy fields were just splendid. We could get to encounter some of the best attractive views of the paddy fields and people working hard on the fields. We were under the piercing sun, blue sky, wet ground and almost brownish paddy crops. So it was a lovely sight to our lenses and my shooter could not stop capturing the best moments. While I was trying a shot, all our folks moved ahead and I was stuck between the folks from Andhra Pradesh. Thinking that I do not understand Telugu, one guy made a statement in Telugu which meant “why do people take clicks without people in it”. I just smiled and continued with my clicks. I guess he got to know that I understood his saying.

After walking, cat walking, slow walking, limping and almost sleep walking, we finally reached a place where we could see our rucksacks. Wow! We reached… was our reaction and we went and picked up our sacks and started moving towards the campsite. I received a call from Sunil that they have also reached the site. We had to cross the coconut farm and a 30 ft bituminous pavement to see the spectacular campsite. Cool blue tents, the Arabian Sea, and the red hot sun all set to set were seen. We were welcomed by the Kokam drink and smiles of Kowshik, Lakshmi, Sunil and Raghu. We described them about our 1st day’s experience and also convinced them that they did not miss much except for the motor boat ride. And as usual, like in our Sarpass trek, Sandy chose our tent and we dumped all our sacks inside and went to the beach.
It was like a virgin beach for us!
Imagine yourself walking on a virgin beach which was unexplored by anyone so far. It was almost a similar experience for us to see the Padukere Beach. There were absolutely zero other public except for YHAI participants. We had reached there on time to the sunset. All our cameras were sounding clicks, fricks and blicks! Literally it was like we created the sunset. After the sunset, we were asked to assemble, all of us with tired faces, reluctantly assembled to listen to the speeches. But the session was really good.

Mr. Adiga briefed us about the plans, dos and don’ts, and schedule of events again and he thanked all the people who made the event possible. To entertain us, there were a few cultural events as well. We thoroughly enjoyed the cultural events and even before we finished with the events, our mind had already entered the kitchen and started smelling good food. It was a wonderful dinner to end all the events of the day. One very good thing about YHAI is that they give very good healthy food. After dinner, we went to the beach, walked on the sand, involved ourselves into some deep thoughts; and my mind could not come out of some of the past conversations; with all these, I also managed to get some good clicks of the moon light view of the beach. Since it was very hot and we were almost sinking in sweat inside the tent, we decided to sleep outside. My eyes could not stop watching the splendid moon until the moon was captured into my dreams.
The beach walk!
Since it was raining in the early morning, we had to run into our tents. We woke up at around 6 am to see the red sunrise in the morning, and we were scheduled to be ready by 7:30 Am. We were asked to play the big cats’ role on the beach considering not spoiling the beautiful beach with our early morning nature calls. We were big enough to play the big cats’ role and we were all done by 7:30. After the delicious breakfast, we had some time to play. So I picked up the Frisbee that I had taken from one of my friend in Bengaluru – Ravee. He is an Ultimate Frisbee Player. So he had given me a very good Frisbee. So, Sujay, Kowshik and I started playing. As we started, many others joined us and we played till the whistle was blown to pack our lunch and get started with the beach walk.

It was a 16 km beach walk planned for the day. So initially we were very excited to walk on the beach. But as we started walking, we could face the difficulty of walking on the beach. Since it was a slope surface, walking in one particular direction will put more pressure to one leg. We were feeling like resting after every 15 minutes of walk. But since we were already very slow in our walk because of our photographic craves, we could not rest much. All we had to do was to catch up with the folks who were very fast in walking. As we walked on the beach, we could encounter some of the best views that we have ever seen. All along the way the only hum that we could hear was of the waves. It was an eye catcher and one would stand still looking at the waves, and dance listening to its songs. I was told that a sea would never keep anything that is dead. Everything that we saw was so lively and the Arabian Sea was full of life. Infact it would bring in life for other non living things as well. The sun, the sea, the beach, the calcium shells, the jelly fishes, coconut trees, sailor boats, fisherman tents, fisherman nets and along with them all eighty of us walking on the beach was an amazing feeling.
After the 16kms of tiresome walk, we reached Malpe beach. We had only stopped at a place for our lunch and to eat ice lolly bars; other than that it was a steady consistent walk. Near to Malpe beach, Sujay and I met with a group of kids who were doing free jumping and our cameras could not stop clicking some of the best shots. After reaching Malpe beach, we were really tired and we could not walk much. Our legs started to pain and we could barely look at where others were. We saw shop selling buttermilk and we gulped 2 packets each and felt better. The only motivation was to walk till the next shop where we could drink buttermilk again.

We finally reached the place from where we could get on to the motor boat that would take us to the Island where we were going to camp for the night. As we reached the place, we were given very good drink made of green gram which is very good for health and some Alu bondas. Since we had some time left before we get onto the motor boat, we spent some good hilarious moments cracking PJs, commenting about people walking around and talking about stories of our earlier camps. It was absolutely rib-tickling fun time.
Thonse Par’ aka ‘Aasare Thota’ aka ‘St.Mary’s Island
We got into the motor boat at around 5 Pm and we started our sailing to one of the most beautiful Islands in the world called as St. Mary’s Island. Since many of them will not prefer calling the island in its name, they call it by two other names Thonse Par and Aasare Thota. While we were on the boat and during the whole journey of 25 minutes to the Island, all we did was to click photographs. People watching us went bonkers looking at the way we were clicking pictures. We could not help because it was almost the sunset time and the Thonse Par Island was looking gorgeous with its welcoming coconut trees. By the time we reached the Island, it was already dark and we were the only ones who were allowed to stay at this Island on a special permission for the camp. So in that way we were very lucky. Thonse Par is one of the most beautiful Islands and it is known for its volcanic rock formation. The rocks in this Island are of hexagonal shape and look very attractive. There are only 2 places in the world to have such rock formation and we are lucky to have one in India. The other is somewhere in Italy.

There was no tent accommodation arrangement and we were supposed to sleep under the direct moon light. Only worry was if it rains in the night for which all of us were excitingly stated ‘that will be just wonderful’. It was a good team spirit showcased during the camp. As usual there was a cultural session and all the participants were getting involved to perform any activity. TS and I also entertained folks with our songs. We dedicated one of our songs to ‘Kannada Rajyothsava’ on Nov 1st. The session was followed by the feedback session where some of us shared our feedback about the camp.
After a good cultural session, delicious dinner, some good moon light clicks and other new photographic experiments, we all were set to sleep. Thanks to Sandy as he had got the odomos mosquito repellent cream so that we could sleep peacefully. But we suffered a lot from ant bites. At about 3 am, I could witness the most amazing moment in my life to see the moon set. Moon was looking like a blown orange ball and was all ready to dive into the sea. I watched the whole activity without a blink and open mouth. I tried clicking a few pictures, but I could not get a good one. But the whole set remained in my eyes and will be there forever.

We got up early morning to perform our nature’s call and we were again warned not to spoil the Island. We did justice to our responsibilities and being eco friendly, we did all it takes to be eco friendly. Since we were not allowed to play in the water in any of the beaches, we were allowed to play in the water and take bath on the last day. So few of our team members went to play in the water and few of us started playing Frisbee again. We played Frisbee for a very long time and most of the other started joining the play. We played until we assembled to celebrate Kannada Rajyothsava and hoist the Karnataka flag. It was a good gather and we collectively sang our state anthem. The message given my Mr.Adiga on the occasion of the day was to be secular and follow the national integration. We were also asked to perform the cleaning activity at the Island and those who were interested started cleaning up the whole Island. We piled up huge amount of garbage and did some justice to the voluntary service. Fortunately, the good news was that from Nov 1st, Thonse Par Island was called as Plastic free zone and the policy was implemented from that day.
We were waiting for the Deputy Commissioner to visit the Island to distribute our certificates, but due to some reason it did not happen. So we got some good time to walk around the beautiful Island and take some good shots. We also enjoyed playing in the sea salt water. We had some real good rib-tickling fun which all of us will never forget. After the good amount of play, we assembled back for a grand heavy lunch and fruit punch. And finally the day was followed with the activity of certificates distribution. We were actually acting as if we came out of the graduation; but, it was fun.
Highly Hilarious!
We had good fun during the trip and some of the great moments are: Jokes cracked over Hairsh's 'Krishna leele'; PJs cracked during the cultural events; Jokes by Mr. Kamath from Mangalore; Sandy's Quick Gun Murugan costumes; Kowshik's funny expressions; Dostana effect on Raghu and Hari that eventually lead scratches on Hari's shoulder and for which the actions demonstrated by Sujay was just awesome; Frisbee play moments; crazy time spent in the water and lastly the sand therapy that turned to a mermaid therapy on TS. These were the best rib-tickling moments.
The only negative takeaway before I start my good takeaways was the irresponsibility shown by some of the participants because of which YHAI had to lose 4 life jackets. Other than that everything else was organized well and for me personally there are many good takeaways.
I got to meet many new friends who are just awesome and down to earth - Ashwin, Sudhi, Harish, Kiran and many others; Got well bonded with all my old friends, I could see the gorgeous moon set; I could walk on the beach for a full day till I got tired; I could listen to the sea and its life; I could embrace the most beautiful moments and got involved in my own thoughts; explored myself and inquired within. And many more…
Thanks to YHAI; the whole bunch of Islands and the whole team!
Visit my Flickr set for some good clicks: