Monday, December 29, 2008

Kaurav Kunda

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It is difficult to imagine that such a nice place exists so close to Bangalore. Barely 75 km from the garden city, stands Kaurav Kunda. We started one Saturday afternoon in JD's car with some groceries for dinner at the peak and breakfast next morning. After reaching Chikkabalapur, we finished our lunch and moved on to a village, Hariharpura, near Kaurav Kunda where we parked the car and proceeded towards the peak. It took around 1 hour to make it to the peak and the sun was just about to set.

On the windy peak, it took pretty long to cook rice and sambar and we killed time trying to roast potato properly and eat. It was dark and there was little wood nearby for us to make a bonfire. There was no water source and we had to manage with the little water we had, just enough for evening soup, dinner, and morning tea and we had to wipe our hands and utensils with grass and tissue paper.

It was quite cold and misty that night and our sleeping bags were wet by next morning. In the morning, we found ourselves surrounded by sea of clouds and the sun giving colors to it. It was something that I have never experienced before. Everything around was submerged in milky white clouds with streaks of orange and blue.

Once sun stopped its color show and the photography session ended, it was time for tea without sugar (which we forgot to get). Then we packed our bags and moved downhill to our next destination, Jarmagadu falls. We were climbing down from the opposite side (relative to where from we climbed up) and there it was tricky due to big boulders, drenches, and shrubs. We were stopped at a place where there was nearly 90-degree steep gorge and had to change direction. It took an hour and half to make it to the base.

There was a small pond with thick layer of mosses and bacteria from where we drank water (of green color) and cooked noodles. We asked for direction to Jarmagadu falls and proceeded (left on the trail), but unfortunately we were misguided to Jakkalmagadu gorge. It was strange that most of the local villagers had no idea about Jarmagadu falls. After walking endlessly for 2-1/2 hours and finding no clue of waterfalls, we decide to retrace our path, get to the car, and then go to the falls (can be reached by vehicle till Jangamarappanahalli en route to Ketenahalli village and then 2-km walk). All the while we kept on guessing about the location of the falls based on the pictures of Kaurav Kunda in JD's camera taken from Jarmagadu. Later on, we came to know from a villager that we had to take a right turn after crossing coconut plantation (we were misguided to take left turn) for Jarmagadu.

While getting back to the village, we saw relentless quarrying going on around the base of Kaurav Kunda and probably in a decade, there won't be any sign of this hill. By the time we reached the car, it was 4:30 pm and there wasn't enough time for us to reach and enjoy Jarmagadu even though it was at a distance of just 1 km by car and 2 km walk. Hence, we decided to head back to Bangalore. Hopefully, next time we will make it to the falls.

Second Attempt: We decide to pay a visit to this place again in the third weekend of Jan before the season of clouds was over and to seach the falls from Kaurav Kunda. It was pretty late by the we reached Hariharpura and hence by the time we could make to the peak, sun had already disappeared. All the way, I had been carrying dry twigs for camp fire, but since that was not sufficient, we thought of going down to get some more and hence I, Vivek, Ranjan, and Jagadish proceeded down while others, Mayur, Abhishek, and Ramesh were preparing tea (which took 1 hour to cook because of the wind). We were back with some more dry wood. We started making fire at a place which was covered by stones and was less windy, but it turned nightmare as the dry grass caught fire and the fire started spreading at a speed unimaginable. It was paniky and we had to use already scarce water to extinguish this.

Pitching the tent was difficult because of winds and we had doubts whether it will stand there or not. Though it was worth because of the warmth it gave.

Next morning, we were expecting the same drama of clouds and sunrise, but to our dissapointment the sky around us was clear and I went back to my sleeping bag for few more hours of sleep until irritating JD woke us up. We had Upma and then proceeded downhill. After we reached the narrow mud road, we proceeded towards the falls (turned left). As soon as we crossed coconut plantation, we turned right. Later we got 2 bifurcations and kept to our right. At the third bifurcation which was like a "T" turn with a hill at our front blocking road, we turned right. After this, there was no proper route and it was just JD's instinct to guide us to the falls. We got a gorge and some remains of a dry stream which we followed to reach the falls. Dissapointment again. The falls had turned into something comparable to a peeing kid, literally. We came to know later from women working in fields that post moonson this falls is frequented by huge crowds.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Word Feeding

On the auspicious occation of fathering a baby, a colleague of mine posted a picture of the newborn on his orkut album. No harm in that. And afterall every father has constitutional right to post his baby's pic on orkut. Doesn't he? I too, under the spell of human curiosity, clicked to have a look on the pic and it was pretty much normal, a-day-old infant clad in pink Mikey mouse printed suit (too young to know who's Mikey), wrapped in sky blue towel.

It was not the picture but what caught my attention were the comments that followed. One of the response was "Cho chweeeeet....cute baby." Thats a pretty standard response, you do not need to think or even see the infant properly to find appreciable features or things to say about. Just "sweet" and "cute" along with its variations, chweeeeeeeeet, tute, tweet, etc., are good enough, why stress the brain.

Another response was "Mubarak ho dost, the infant resembles u...." Now, this is hilarious. I know the owner of the comment had good intentions (if he had any) and could not read his words as I can. At first, the world "resemble" caught my attention. A 1-day-old newborn resembles to a 30-year-old adult! One can find the resemblence when kids grow up a little, but how is it possible to find similarity when one of the concerned party is a-day-old baby with red swollen cheeks and lips and closed eyes. One cannot even match the eye color. And that too from a two-dimentional poor quality picture!

Now, read the sentence again "the infant resembles u." Such a good friend is he who wants to assure the father that the baby indeed is his, nobody else's, at least not of the good friend's for sure. Even though I am feeling sorry about the father (if he happens to read and understand the comments), I could hardly stop myself double over with laugh.

You might think, it is too much of me to describe all this nonsense. Indeed, nonsense it is, not to dig deep in thinking, but to speak and write words which are not thought, words which are just taken out of shelf. The society seems to have fed the words in our mouth and coded the incidences, where which phrases should come out. We do not bother to think before we appreciate, we just fullfil our social duty using the preformed template. What an unintillegent species the majority of humans are!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shingani Gudda Trek

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The team for this trek consisted of me, Guna, and Jagadish (sometimes three people do make a team). We boarded the bus towards Dharmasthala from Bangalore and got down at Kokkada, 15 km before Dharmasthala. Kashinath, owner of Stream of Joy Homestay (ph08251-268225) was to meet us at Kokkada and there he was with his jeep ready for a ride to his homestay.

Stream of Joy Homestay is a nice place to spend time (though somewhat costly), just on the bank of river Kapila (included in the pics) which is at most knee deep with crystal-clear water.

Kashinath introduced us to our guide, Ananda. Shingani Gudda is basically 1-day trek, but we decided to camp on the peak. So, we were at our leisurely pace and started pretty late (partly to digest the huge mude, kind of idle, we had consumed) , around 11 a.m. and asked Ananda to take a long route.

The route is not very difficult except a stretch of two kilometers or so where it becomes troublesome to climb on loose soil and rock covered with thick foliage. But otherwise, it is a pleasant walk through thick forest. Even though it was dry season, four leeches had the fortune of tasting my blood. King-size mosquitos were there to serve us as most leeches were on leave. It seemed as though it would be very difficult to trek in monsoon or post monsoon because of leeches and many parts of the route becoming water streams and moreover Kapila would become turbulent too which we had to cross.

We reached the peak by 5 p.m. and were a little disappointed because of sun being behind clouds and not offering a nice sunset. But soon we witnessed the amazing drama of clouds, seemed as if they were being colored in pink, orange and thrown in pieces by sun, crowded near the sun and fading as the distance increased. The peak being small, we could see all other peaks in that region.

That night we had to sustain on chapatis and MTR curry which we were tired of. There is hardly place to pitch single tent at the peak and we did without the tent, just sleeping bags. Next morning, after a spectacular sunrise and cup noodles, we headed towards the homestay as no one was in a mood to have chapatis again. Thankfully, we were greeted by a lunch the taste of which is unforgettable, with more varieties of food than we could manage. We were left with 4 hours to laze in the waters of Kapila and enjoy the man-made waterfalls. Finally, we boarded the bus to Dharmasthala and from there to Bangalore.

Friday, December 5, 2008

News of Reality OR Reality of News

I curiously peeped into news papers from Pakistan to see how the scenario around Mumbai attack is being showcased there. And it was really funny. See this piece of article from The Frontier Post.
Mumbai terror attacks Further evidence of the Anglo-American-Mossad-RSS nexus - Amaresh Misra

...terrorists looked like Anglo-American covert operatives and that the entire Mumbai operation was an attempt by Anglo-American forces to destabilize India and push it further into the Israel-US orbit....

...Clearly, the attackers would not have come from the sea route without some kind of a connivance of Gujarat and Maharashtra Governments with the terrorists, and the connivance of RSS type Hindutva elements...

...One Police officer who encountered the gunmen as they entered the Jewish Center (Nariman House) said the attackers were white. "I went into the building late last night" he said. "I got a shock because they were white. I was expecting them to look like us."...
...Anonymous sources in the Police have revealed that Karkare was taken there, by a joint team of anti-Karkare, pro-Hindutva Mumbai Police officers, and Chota Rajan men....
Want to read the whole article? Here is it.

Here is another wonder article.
Maharashtrian suicide squad on Pakistan mission - Tooba Afridi
Indian newsweekly ‘Outlook’ has disclosed that one of its loyalists had raised a “suicide commando squad” of “dedicated Maharashtrian youth to be covertly deployed inside Pakistan."
Full article.

Haven't read Outlook yet, check it out in The Frontier Post.

If the news that Pakistanis get can be twisted in this way, the news that we digest every morning is probably similarly twisted and turned. News delivered by our so called free media is equally frothy and tarnished as that of other side of the border. The problem lies in human mind which needs anchors, wants to know causes of everything even if there are none, and the media exploits this "want for cause" by making up causes which appeal to the largest population (which turns into largest sale). So, you need to fight not the media but your own mind and console it that not every event has a cause and not all cause (as showcased by media) is the reality.

Another news of interest: TRP rating of "Malegaon blast investigation" has dropped significantly and hence news related to this has been taken off air.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Double Trouble with Gandhism

Courtesy: Tribune India
M K Gandhi was an immeasurably popular figure when he was alive and he is still so, in the textbook of class 1 to 10 compulsorily and beyond optionally, on money (only Rs 10 and above), and in bollywood. Every now and then whenever required (such as on October 2nd, independence, republic day, election rallies, or in need to pacify rioting public), we pull Mr Gandhi out of the closet and refer to his ideologies and how much we follow and respect those ideologies. But do Indian gornament indeed follow and respect his ideologies? How relevant Gandhi's ideologies are in today's context? Here are two such inconsistencies which looks pretty okay on the surface but common-sense analysis reveals otherwise.

Nonviolence: The very existence of army and various war that India has fought along with numerous other usage of violence through the history of independent India proves the fact that India and specifically its government does not accept the very idea of nonviolence. One would argue that the world we live in, with our neighbors being capable of attacking and conquering our territory, makes it impossible to follow the footsteps of Gandhi which would take us towards no army, no war type of society. The argument is correct to great extent but only partially. Probably, it is quite a herculean task to build a local society based on nonviolence and tolerance. Otherwise, if a society is armless and another is armed, the latter will obviously use its muscle power whenever there is a conflict of interest. I believe, such a society is only possible at a global level when all the countries fuse to form a border less, war free world. However, the point of discussion is that if it is not possible to follow Gandhian principles by the nation itself, then why preach the same to the masses, why put this poor chap on every currency note, why name streets on every city on his name, why describe his principles in each and every textbook?

Alcoholism: Second anomaly in India with respect to Gandhi lies in Gujarat. Gujarat is declared a dry state, i.e., liquor is not sold here (just officially though) in respect of Gandhi, Gujarat being his birth state, who opposed consumption of alcohol. Good enough. But wasn't India Gandhi's birth country and on the same ground as Gujarat is declared dry, the whole country must also be alcohol free. Does the rest of the country except Gujarat disrespect Gandhi and his ideas? What explanation does other states and central government have? Will they say, "we do respect Mahatma Gandhi, but alcohol revenue is just too much to ignore." Why this question is not the topic of any hot discussion shows in news channels? And why not Gujarat bans milk and meat too. After all Gandhi gave up milk after learning about the ill-treatment of milk producing animals and thought that milk was for calves, not for human consumption.

Personally, I take it to be violation of an individual's basic right of freedom of thought and action. The nation should have no business in deciding whether or not the citizens want to follow the footsteps of Gandhi, Jinnah, or Bose or they wish to adhere to their own independent thinking. Certainly, it doesn't have the right to force feed one or other ideology that it feels suitable for whatsoever reasons. One cannot be free unless one is free to make choices and think for self. One cannot call it a free country wthen the political Brahmins decide the lifestyle of its citizens.

Related Post: Let's Get Drunk