Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Motorcycle Diaries - Che Guevara

Traveling to different places, seeing the famous sites of the region and soaking in the varied culture is a desire present in all humans albeit in varying degrees. This compelling diary is a first person account of the journey undertaken by Che Guevara and his friend Alberto on the motorcycle named La Poderosa II. The journey lasts for more than 8 months and covers the length of South America.
The journey starts of just like that, with the one of them expressing his desire to go to North america on their bike. They seal the deal then and there without much thought on what it would take go on such an excursion . With an amount hardly sufficient to last them through a month and a bike which was as reliable as a sick horse they set out.
The travels take them through the five countries of Argentina, Peru, Chile, Columbia and Venezuela. The account of their incidents range from complete hilarious situations to deep contemplations. For most part of the journey they are dependent on the generosity of the people they meet, some help them out of compassion, some out of awe and some do it grudgingly. The two of them also tried to work their way out in most places, working as Doctors, Butlers, Fire fighters, Chefs and even going to the extent of cleaning the lavatory to secure a passage through a steamer.
The book also dwells into the life and culture of the people of the country through which they travel and also covers the history and geography of some of the famous sites like Machu picchu, Cuzco etc.
Undertaking such a journey without any bother of money or where you are going to put up requires a lot of courage and acceptance of things, something which currently I'm lacking in, but still I could sense the freedom and the accelerating sense of adventure both of them might have felt during this journey.
A paper had aptly commented on the book saying that " Che's trip might have been the trip of a lifetime - had his lifetime not turned into a much greater adventure". Will strongly recommend this book to all the trekkers and hikers out there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dabbe falls trek

Chethan as usual called up, a day before the commencement of this trek, to cancel his tickets. We knew that the vacillating mood of Chethan was always going to come to rest, on this time and tested decision so we were not surprised (Except for maybe Pramod who booked the tickets :)).
Shimoga express was scheduled to leave Bangalore city junction at 11:40 pm, I arrived at the station quite ahead of time, and found Praveen sentinelling the gates. The others took their time in coming and finally when they reached the station they barged in towards the platforms without waiting or calling us up. After a lot of thought I attributed this discourtesy to maybe the traumatic incidents of Mumbai, everyone was scared to spend time waiting in the station and become sitting ducks. Our bogey was fixed next to the engine so I had my fill of the trains whistles and chuggings, enough to drive out any lingering nostalgia about them.
The next day mornings event set the pace for the trek, The train had long stopped at Shimoga station, almost all the passengers had got down but many in our group were still pleasantly slumbering, including myself. Only after Pradeepa frantically confirmed that this was indeed Shimoga town and not some outer station, that we got into action. But by the time we had packed our things, the train had started moving, A mental picture of a hike from some railway godown was in everyone's mind, but luckily the train parked itself on the next track and we had to jump across one track to reach the platform.
Shimoga station resembled Sholay's Rampur station to the tee, there was total sanaata(silence) around. The railway station is located at around 4-5 Km from the City bus stand, but instead of Basanthi we had to make do with auto rickshaw guys. We boarded a rickety government bus to Sagar from the bus stand and reached Sagar in good time. After a sumptuous breakfast of Idly vada and Palav, we decided to give a thought for our destination. After some enquiry we boarded a bus going towards Jog and got down at a place called Kargal which is about 20 Km from Sagar. Here started the round conference discussion's with the Taxi guys, Our representatives being Pramod and Pavan. After a successful round of negotiations, the vehicle was produced before us only for us to find that we were to be herded like animals as there were no back seats in it. Instead we decided to wait for the Bus which was due in 15 minutes. The Bus going towards Batkal finally dropped us at Hosagade and the time was 12:15 in the afternoon.
The trek route started off with a jeep track but soon after we were at the mercy of the villagers for directions. The path has many forks, deviations and runs through many peoples farms and even across small streams. Once near any house, Satish(Being a native of this region) sported his hoi-hoi call to get the people out of their homes to show us directions. People were very friendly and helpful and some even came down with us for some distance to make sure we take the right paths. A check dam built on a small rivulet was a wonderful spot.
Finally after two hours of trek or rather walk through semi forested terrain we reached Manjiah Gowda's house, also popularly known as Dabbe manne. Here we unloaded our baggages and went for the falls, The path towards the falls is a very steep climb down, In most of the places the incline is close to 70-80 degrees. Only with the support of the overhanging branches and protruding tree roots it was possible for us to reach the bottom. It took us more than 1 hour to make it to the base.
The Water fall was a fantastic sight to behold, It was majestically falling off the mountain side all alone in the wild but having a lot of pride in it. I made a dash at the inviting water and was under the whipping water of the falls in no time.
The moment was one of exhilarating action, Sitting under a water falls is altogether a different adventure in itself. After the play and frolic we climbed back, the climb back was much faster, it took us around 40 minutes. Again by the time we had finished a fulfilling lunch of Bullet Rice and Sambar at Dabbe Manne , It was already 5:40, Our plans of trekking to Kanoor kote's doctors house which was some 8 Km from dabbe manne looked not feasible, that too without a guide. We then decided to trek to a house, 4 Km from this place, who had an Omni for hire to take us back to Sagar.
The next day we hired a Qualis and spent our time in visiting a couple of waterfalls, more about this in a later post.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Under the Moonlit Sky

Under the starry dreamy sky, in the dark of the night,
came out the moon in the whispers of a knight,
The myriad darkness was swept asunder,
gleaming the earth with tones of soft silky silver.

A cool breeze blew from the horizon,
rustling along the leaves in playful oblivion,
The moonlit light twirled along with the breeze,
chilling the night with an embracing squeeze.

The silent silvery stream flowed on,
caressing the stones with its lovely silent song,
The late night air was rent with creaks,
with the lovelorn calls of creatures in the reefs.

There, near the flowing stream stood she,
as a serene silent goddess of the night,
Waiting under the moonlit sky,
shimmering with a radiance of alluring beauty,

I chose to hide behind the hedge,
enjoying the yearning in her lovely eyes,
The night was still very young,
with the sweet smell of her jasmine,wafting.

Her face was a twinge of pleasure and anger,
when at last I alighted unable to hold any longer,
Bliss was how it felt, clasping her in my arms,
the night now turned into a celebration of rapturous joy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Psycho-Kannada movie review

The songs for the movie Psycho were a super hit long before the films release, Even though I had heard the songs and had liked them, I didn't have much of an expectation from the movie thinking it to be another gangster movie. It was only after a friend told me that the movie revolves around a boy stalking a girl and the hero may not be seen at all in the movie that it caught my interest.
The movie starts with outrageous camera angles and it takes some time to get used to this as this seems to be the signature of the director and continues for the whole movie. Pavana is a TV anchor and hosts a show on love, the Hero (His name is not at all mentioned) is madly in love with her, follows her wherever she goes without her knowledge and keeps calling her through different mobile numbers. He beats anybody in to pulp who misbehaves with her, and even looks after her family even to the extent of helping her to remember her mother's birthday. At first the heroine is discomfited with the calls, but seeing all the good he keeps doing to her starts falling in love with him. The movie takes a sudden turn after the heroine comes to know about a secret of her stalker. The secret due to which the movie is named Psycho.
The movie which was marketed to be a suspense thriller turns out to be a decent thriller alright. Music is superb and also picturisation of the songs is good. The lead pairs could have done a better job, though they are watchable. The major letdowns for the movie is the director and the dialogues. All in all a very differently made movie, but still does not match up to the hype created by it's superb music. Also the hero is very much visible in the movie, so the hype that the hero is never shown was false.
The best scene of the movie for me was when the hero looking through his mother's letters in a box, spotting a cockroach on the lid smashes it with his head and says "Ammand kagada thinthiya" (You eat my mother's letter) .

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

I have now decided to review all the books that I read. The latest being the not so latest novel "A tale of two cities" by Charles Dickens. This novel was first published about 150 years ago, but still it manages to capture the attention and imagination of the reader.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,...."

The above often repeated quote is the starting sentences of this novel. The story is set around the time of french revolution in the late 1700's and begins with the homecoming of a Doctor named Manette. He was imprisoned in the Bastille by the French aristocracy for 18 years without a trial nor reason, literally driving him to insanity. At last he is released and is brought back to England by his daughter Lucie, who restores him back to health.
Meanwhile a young Frenchman named Charles Darney is accused of spying and is standing trial in London to which the Doctor and his daughter are summoned as witnesses. The Frenchman gets acquitted based on the defense argument that the accused might have been mistaken for someone else and this they try to prove based on the striking resemblance of Darnay to another person sitting in the court called Sydney Carton.
Darney falls in love with Lucie and gets married to her. Few years roll on in their blissful happiness to be broken by a letter from France. The letter is addressed to Darney who was an aristocrat by birth and had a vast property which he had denounced while leaving France. The french revolution had now taken place in France and all persons connected to royalty or aristocracy were put to death. The servant who was temporarily looking after Darney's property was standing on a death row from which only Darney could save him. Out of compassion Darney decides to go back to France little knowing what troubles await him there.
The moment Darney arrives in Paris he is taken a prisoner and put on a deathrow. The Docter and Lucie also come after him to do their best to save him. The Docter soon builds a reputation based on his past sufferings in the hands of the Aristocracy and his 18 years in prison. But a letter written by the Doctor when in prison denouncing the person who put him in prison and his whole family proves to be Darney's undoing. It turns out that the Darney's father was the cause of Docter's sufferings. The rowdy French crowd bayes for Darney's blood for the sins commited by his father and the jury orders for his execution within 24 hours.
The Climax consists of how Darney manages to escape from prison back to England.
All in all a wonderful read, This tells you the hopelessness of those times. The struggles of those times to build a free world, and the abyss to which France had fallen and risen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kodachadri trek

After the Sarpass trek in May there was a lull in our trekking activities. It is not that we were short of any plans, but at the last moments, we found the number of drop-outs reducing the team size next to nothing. So finally when the trek to Kodachadri was planned, we decided to book the tickets 4-5 days in advance without giving the option of canceling the tickets. This ploy worked and four of us (Krishna, Radhesh, Pradeepa and Myself) boarded the 8:30 Rajahamsa bus to Kollur on 19-09-2008. Unfortunately we found ourselves gracing the back seats of the bus and the night turned out to be a roller coaster ride.
Finally in the morning the bus reached Nittur(Some 22 Km before Kollur) at 6:30 and broke down. We knew this place to be one of the starting points to the Kodachadri peak. Our original plan was to go to Kollur, rent a room and to have darshana of the Goddess there and then to come back and trek, even though the trek starting point is some 18-20 Km from Kollur and falls on the way to that place. But with the latest turn of events we decided to start the trek directly. We got down from the bus and bought Lemons, Offerings for the Leeches. After making some enquiries we came to know that the path from Nittur is difficult to trek without a Guide, for at least this time of the year. The alternative was to start the trek from Karakatte. This place was around 5 Km from Nittur, and as we were thinking of how to get to that place, Our bus started on. So we climbed in to it and got down at Karakatte, The conductor knew the place. This place is approximately around 16-17 Km from Kollur.
Before embarking we applied the lemon juice on to our feet, this proved to be a very effective solution resulting in zero leech bites for me. The trek route is through a Jeep track for the next 3-4 Kilometers. But this is not the jeep track to the Kodachadri peak, This leads to some other place. But we knew the deviation is not until we reach the Santhosh Hotel. The trek begins in a dense forest and then slowly we start getting lush green, lawn like open spaces. The terrian becomes very friendly by the time we reach the hotel. Throughout this whole trek there was complete greenery every where, cooling the eyes and bringing a sense of peace to the mind.
It took us about an hour to reach the hotel. At the Hotel we ordered Dosa and Tea, By this time the clouds had gathered overhead and there was heavy rainfall, but luckily it lasted for only 15 minutes. We moved on after the rain stopped and after just a few meters from the hotel we came to a fork, One leading up into the forest and the other being the Jeep track continuing on. We were unable to decide on the route and so went back to the hotel to ask for directions. Finally we came back and took the right path moving up the hill.
Now again the path was through a thick forest and the number of leeches here were more. After a walk for more than half an hour through the stifling humid conditions we broke open into an open space, which was a relief. For the most part from there on, the trek was through grasslands and we started getting some fantastic views. We reached the Guest house by around 12 noon. There were a couple of homes beside the guest house, which provides food and also space for sleeping. We decided to order our lunch at one of the place and unloaded our bags in the house and went for the peak.
The path from the guest house to the peak is really beautiful, providing for some fantastic views. But the flip side is, there will be lots of people, as a jeep track is present till the Guest house, people who come to Kollur usually make it a point to come to Kodachadri also. Unfortunately this is not a situation a trekker would like to encounter after spending so much of effort to be lost in nature and it's beauty. We visited the Ganesh gufa on the way to the top, and also encountered a group of college students sitting and drinking out in the open. I was filled with indignation as to how people can waste their life and health in this fashion.
The peak has a small temple dedicated to Adi-Shankaracharya as it is said that he had meditated here. We relaxed at the top for some time, taking in the view and fresh air. Finally, made our way back to the bhattare mane. All these trekking years has taught us one thing, that is a good long trek will tell you how beautiful a meal can taste. After the heart fulfilling meal we decided to take a jeep back to Kollur rather than trek back through the forest. We also decided against staying for the night here as it would not serve any point due to the cloudy weather. This in turn would not give us a glimpse of the sunrise or sunset. The decision to take a jeep in fact turned out to be a bad one ,considering the condition of the jeep track which was really hopeless, It was by the sheer skill of the driver that we found ourselves alive in Kollur.
The Hotel we put ourselves in Kollur was Mayur lodge. The rooms here were pretty spacious and clean. The next day we went to the temple and sauntered of the time in Kollur before catching the 7:00 pm bus back to Bangalore that night.

Info for the trek

1) Karakatte is the starting point for the trek, though it seems there are other routes. Karakatte is on the way from Bangalore to Kollur and the trek can be begun without going to kollur.
2) Jeeps are available from Nittur for those who are not interested in trekking.
3) In this time of year, September, water is not a problem at all. There are many small streams you will encounter.
4) The best solution for leech bite prevention as we came to know during this trek was lemon juice.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The path of destiny

In the dark of a fearful night,
On the path of terrible frights,
Is seen a rider dressed in black,
Moving on with a mighty steel on his back.

Ominous as the signs were,
Hate and deceit was the smell of the air,
Swift as wind did the horse flew,
To whence, no one knew.

At last a light shone,
In the dreamy horizon of a dusky tone,
Near the light stood a well,
Containing the elixir of eternal life.

The mans eye's beamed,
This was what he had always dreamed,
Many years had been spent on this quest,
But time was never able to reduce his thirst.

Years fly by, death remains defeated,
The man lives on, but is never satiated,
Death was a consequence which was avoided,
But life was a solution which never provided.

He now realized his quest was misplaced,
On paths which never were meant to be traced,
His life was well lived till now,
But the past was a burden which had a hold on him now.

He now realized what death meant,
It was the sleep needed to start afresh,
Finally death came since he so wished,
As friends they went, further on the path of destiny.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


This trip to Berlin had happened during the trip to Hannover, The details of most of the Hannover trip are given in the previous post. I had booked the tickets online to Berlin from Hannover. Got up at 5:00 in the morning, Outside the sun was shining brightly as if it was 9:00. Quickly had an MTR packet for breakfast and set out for the nearest Metro stop at 6:15. At the metro stop, the ticket vending machine was malfunctioning. Somehow it was not accepting my coins. Luckily a German lady was also waiting for a train at the station. Hearing my plea for help, she came along and after checking the machine, she said in broken English that the machine indeed was not working. So I asked her whether I could board the train and get down at the next stop to buy the tickets? Hearing this she was shocked! She told me that even though nobody checked, it was not good to get on a train without a ticket. Instead she suggested me to catch a bus in an opposite street. I was reluctant to catch a bus, because I was not aware of the routes and by now I was comfortable with the train. But unfortunately it didn't look good to board the train without a ticket with this lady watching me. So went to bus stop, just then a train zoomed past. The bus was not long in coming, and after ascertaining the destination I bought tickets from the Driver.
After reaching the railway station, I went to the platform specified on the online ticket. There was still sufficient time for the train. After a 15 minutes wait, the train came. In my ticket the bogie mentioned was wagon 23, But this, I couldn't locate as there was no mention of any numbers on the train. So taking a deep breadth, I dived into the nearest bogie. Inside the compartment there was an electronic display mentioning that this was wagon 24. And in just about that time the train started moving. Finally after locating my seat in wagon 23, I made myself at home. The train started to gain speed and within no time the displays were showing a speed of 230 Kmph. During the journey the train reached a topspeed of 250kmph. The journey from Hannover to Berlin, which are 260 Km apart was completed in 1 and 1/2 hours.
I started my Berlin tour with Riechstag, the German parliament. Took the metro from the main station to unter den linden stop. Outside the station, after asking for directions I found myself in front of the huge building. There was already a decent queue at the entrance, and after a strict security check, which was similar to those in Airports, I got inside. The feature of this building is the glass house kind of a structure build on the top of the building. From this place we can get a view of the parliamentry affairs going inside the building and also a very good view of the city. There was also a collection of photos referring to the history of the building, I moved on after a cursory glance.
The next place on my itinerary was Bradenburg torr, This was just a monument in the greek style. But lot of history behind it, from Napolean to Nazi's to the final 89 revolution. This monument was originally built as gate to the Berlin city in 1780's, but later on took the shape of the city's symbol.
After Bradenburg torr, I got to the metro station and went to museum island. Museum island is surrounded on all sides by river spree and consists of only Museums. I went to the Pergamon museum, considered the best among the lot. The place was full of stuff from Greece, Persia, Babylon and would have taken more than a day to run through. I spent a couple of hours at this place and by that time had my fill of history. Came out and saw a park with benches, went there and had a quite lunch.
Next stop was the church Berliner's dom. A beautiful and majestic church, though unfortunately they were charging money even for a place of worship. Inside the church, all my camera baterries were exhausted and from there on had to struggle with my mobile camera.

Coming out of the church, I saw that I was in a beautiful part of the city with huge building, built in the greek style, I went for a walk on that road and again came across the river spree, the river was criss crossing this part of the city so many times that it gave a Venice kind of a feel for a traveller like me. Walking on the streets of an European city is altogether a different experience.
My final stop was at Berlin wall, East side gallery. Though this place was more or less in ruins now. The graffiti on the wall had all but peeled off. With a great struggle, managed to get only one shot out of my camera.
Finally after spending spending some time in Alexanderplatz, a large open square in the center of the city, I made my way back to the Railway station to catch the train back to Hannover.