Sep 19, 2007

Her preciousness!



Hanging in there
pretty close
to the window,
hoping I would open
and let her reach me
to put forth
her preciousness

"I'm cool,
I'm unique,
I have the power
to refresh
and rejuvenate
I bring along
my best buddies -
Wind so forceful,
yet so gentle
Lightning so powerful
yet so bright
Thunder so wrathful
yet so still

Wet soil
with a fresh smell
Green grass
with a tiny dewdrop
Cloudy sky
with a peeping sun

I bring magic
to the monotonies
I bring life
to the dull
I topple
day-to-day routines

Why don't you
rejoice and
dance with me?
Why do you
shun away from me?

Why don't you
feel me on your
tender palms?
Why don't I
caress your
brown hair?
Why don't I
be your
best buddy?"

Oh lovely rain!
I'm moved,
Such a darling
you are!
Now I hate
my black, boring
umbrella
I wish
you would
come again today!
It's time to
dance and play!

Sep 12, 2007

Customary gifting practices

Having been brought up in a traditional background, I have attended quite a number of family functions and weddings. Elders in the family usually took the responsibilities of picking up gifts before attending any such events. The kind of gifts vary with different occasions. For a wedding, if the bride or groom was a very close relative of the family, the gift typically would be a gold pendant or a ring. In case if it was for a distant relative, the gift would be a silver lamp or kumkum storage box. If the gift was for a friend, it would either be a display item or just plain cash.

Now that I have grown up to be someone who can no longer outsource the gift buying responsibility, I decided to buy a gift for my cousin's wedding recently. After marriage, my cousin would fly off to US. So any bulk gift would just be lying idle in her house in India. Based on my criteria that the gift should be useful as well as usable while they are living abroad, I bought a pair of Titan watches for the bride and the groom. On the day of wedding, after presenting the gift to the newly wed, I was sitting relaxed in the marriage hall. My other relatives came to me one by one and started enquiring about the gift that I had presented. When I said that the gift box has a pair of watches, they were shocked. "A gift of either gold or silver would be the appropriate gift for such occasions", was the blunt response from everyone. I couldn't convince them that gifts ought to be usable and not meant for storing in lockers.

In another situation, I had to buy a gift for my friend's wedding. I knew that she didn't know to cook and so I bought her a set of cookery books which I felt were very useful based on my experience. Again, another cousin put down this idea that books are not good gifts for weddings and she argued that items which has a good look are the best gifts.

Giving gift vouchers is a better idea as it gives the person ability to buy what he/she wants. But amidst the bustling crowd during the wedding, the small vouchers are bound to get lost. I hate the idea of gifting cash since I feel as though we are paying for the food that we have during the event.

Due to lack of space, most of my wedding gifts that are display items are lying stacked in a cardboard box. Sometimes, I wonder why this gifting is needed in the first place.

This post was triggered by a very nice advertisement of Cadbury's celebrations that I happened to watch recently. A display item getting exchanged from one family to another and finally gets landed up in the same house from where it originated! Simply hilarious. A pack of chocolates is indeed a better gift. I would prefer even more if it was a pack of Dairy Milk chocolates. Anyone listening?

Sep 9, 2007

Man-eater of Malgudi

It's been a long time since I touched my RK Narayan collection. Before I left for Vythiri, I took this book from my home library, hoping to read atleast half of this book during my vacation. Thanks to the heavy rains, I finished reading this book in the past three days. It's always refreshing to read RKN after a while. The town of Malgudi, the people and their lives, the characters and their attitudes are very similar to any other RKN novel.

This story is about the lives of a printer Nataraj, his helper Sastri and his friends and how their day-to-day lives get affected by a taxidermist Vasu. Nataraj is a friendly person by nature and he doesn't have the ability to say No. Vasu comes to his life and inflicts pain to Nataraj and others in the village in many ways. How the villagers cope with the complications caused by Vasu and what happens to Vasu in the end is what this story is all about.

The characterization of Nataraj and Vasu is so clearly written that you feel so sorry for the poor Nataraj and feel very angry with the actions of Vasu. You can easily relate to the other characters, be it the tea vendor, Muthu, the poet or the journalist. Every character in this story has a well-etched personality to it. The story is gripping and at times, you wonder what's going to happen to the evil Vasu in the end. The climax was disappointing and the way Vasu dies is a bad end. A man of such evil and atrocious qualities should have faced a tough death. Though the author has tried to link the coincidence of Rakshasa in Hindu mythology and Vasu, the evil character deserves a worse death. The subtle humour that is prevalent in almost all of RKN's novels is somewhat missing in this story. Anyway, it's a good read, very typical of RKN and Malgudi.

The Vythiri experience

Wayanad has been part of my to-see list for the past four years. As a keen lover of God's own country, I want to explore this state so much. Though I had visited the central and southern parts of Kerala, the Northern region was something I didn't get a chance to explore. A break from my first quarter and a long pending vacation from work provided the perfect chance to visit Wayanad. After the initial rounds of browsing and gathering details on best places to stay, my hubby and I finalized on Vythiri resorts. We made the bookings and also got the travel arrangements done.

The Kallada travels bus got delayed by an hour and we left Bangalore around 10:40 PM. After a six hour ride, we reached a quiet village called Vythiri around 5 AM. It was dark and spooky. The jeep that was supposed to pick us up was no where to be seen. A small tea shop owner asked us to walk a few more metres to find the jeep. We found the driver and he took us to the resort, around 4 kms from the main road, inside a dense forest region. It was a scary ride, with bad roads and distinct sounds of the jungle.

The resort doesn't have power supply and it runs mainly on diesel generators. So at that time of the hour, it was rather dark. A torch light came in handy and we were taken to the cottage allocated to us. Sleep was no where near our eyes even after a bumpy 6 hour bus journey. We were waiting for the sun to rise to take a walk around the resort. Around 6.30 AM, dark clouds and a slight drizzle greeted us. We were thrilled to see the gushing stream running inside the resort area and a hanging bridge to cross the stream to reach the restaurant. After a hot cup of tea, we roamed around for a while.

It was time for Yoga and meditation. The asanas reminded us of the Yoga classes we used to go in the mornings a year ago....Can't believe our bodies have become so stiff. After an hour's Yoga session, we felt very hungry and headed for breakfast where we were served a nice mix of both continental and Indian dishes. Since it was drizzling, we decided to remain in the resort the whole day. We played a couple of games of table tennis and carroms, also caught up on a couple of RK Narayan's books, had some very nice food and slept like logs for hours together. We also got a refreshing massage and strolled around the resort many times. It's such a quiet and peaceful place and all you get to hear is the gushing stream and the continuous voice of the insect "cricket".

The monsoon rains have been pretty heavy this time and it was continuously raining, most of the times very heavy and sometimes, a mild drizzle. As a result, we couldn't roam around Wayanad and see different places. Our activities mostly got confined to the resort premises, thanks to the heavy downpour. In between, we managed to catch up a short trip to Pookot lake and tea plantations around. The lake is very calm, surrounded by lush, green forests. We took a walk around the lake. The boating was stopped due to the rains. Also, we caught a glimpse of the famous "Chain tree". The story surrounding this chain tree is hilarious and every tour guide will take you to this tree.

Inside the resort, we spent some time observing snails and huge squirrels, popularly called as Malabar squirrels. Sept is not the right month to visit Wayanad due to South West monsoons. We heard from localites that the best time to visit Vythiri/Wayanad is from Nov to Feb. Anyway, our primary reason for this vacation was to laze around and unwind which we managed to do quite a lot.

As far as the resort is concerned, the food was very good. The service was of superior quality. The ambience of the resort amidst thick forests is definitely worth a visit. The people were friendly and helpful.

For the high price they are charging, the facilities were not upto the mark. There is no parking area. So if you are planning to drive down to the resort, your car had to be parked outside the resort in the open. The library was just a small rack of books, mostly French. If you end up spending most of the time indoors due to rains, it's better to carry some books (thankfully, we did) or any other indoor games like monopoly or scrabble to keep you occupied. For the adventurous, there are plenty of trekking options available, provided you are fully equipped to handle the leeches.

I will definitely want to visit Wayanad again to take a trip to Edakkal Caves, Kuruva Islands and Soochippara waterfalls. Maybe, during my second or third quarter break!

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