Saturday, November 05, 2005

Ramanagara 2

After a fine lunch - that included scarry bajji's -we started our walk down. A fast descent it was, we took a different route, and landed at the base soon. Ramanagara is also know for vultures. And, I was keen on seeing them. Had seen a few flying at a great height. And, it was great to come across these long billed vultures. As Sirish pointed their nests/roosting place. I went delirious. My camera-battery barely had any charge left. So, I had to settle for this single shot that I could manage.

A cropped image. Not a good picture. But, great sight it was. I am keen on going back for them. And, soon a vulture - Egyptian ?? - glided very close to us. We went crazy. Sirish & Megha took some snaps. Megha was following its flight so closely that she stepped on a slimy rock & fell ;-))

Hume ne bhi tere har ek pall ko
Galle se lagayye hai, hai na ;-))
The vulture was majorly posing for us. Sat on a rock closeby & again had a low flight for us. Just before this, Jagadish & Sunand had a race. Hopping on one leg. Distance was the criteria, and Sunand surprised himself by winning it.
Hey Zindagi galle lage ley!!!
This is a 2 day old....what U call it....mmmm...ok...young sheep!!!!! And, Mamtha's mamtha was on full display ;-)) Shot was too bright. So adjusted in the second image. Soon, she picked up another young black sheep, that was a week old. No battery: no snap. This week old chap was frailer than the 2 day chap. Well, well. We had T at a shop, then quickly went back to the GETHNAA building, charged my battery, packed our ruck-sacks, got our dinner, and moved back closer to the T shop for camping.
Well....believe me, these beatles/bugs matted more than an hour!!!! We had seen them mating on the way before, and they still were on job when we came back. With the leader shouting 'Daudke daudke' and a ruck-sack on my back, not so easy to bend and take a macro snap. I thought this was sharp enough..but...
There were paddy fields on the way. And, locations of Sholay. Mega was crazy 'bout it. Light was rapidly fading, we managed to pitch in 3 tents just in time. And, soon the camp was on fire.....err....I mean camp-fire was on. Assisting Jagadish were Megha & Manasa, Megha for some reason didn't have her shoe, and an ant promptly announced its presence.
Mega inspecting her feet. Snaps only with torch light and then with the flash on. We had a great time togather. The sky shockingly was clear. Afer a long long time I saw some constellations, but was quite confused, apart from Pegasus, Taurus, and Orion, couldn't spot the other chaps - thatsAShame :-((
Day 2
These kidoo's were from the tea-shop/house closeby, and were typical highly excited kids. The elder is Anil - 8th std - the younger ?? 4th std.
Shot by sunand.
This is the hill that houses the vultures, and also the Pattabi-Rama temple. Does the name Ramanagara come form this temple ?? The village is also seen.
Well, Jagadish went to get breakfast, but took a long time. We got talking, Mega, Manasa & me are all MES products. So, it was fun talking 'bout MES. A superb close-up by sunand.
Hey...whatz this...Zebra at Ramanagara ?? Well, believe me, these are from Sunand's pyjamas!!!
I thought the vultures were quite attracted to the pyjamas, and kept circling above.
This guy flew low quite a few times. I recall the silvery grey of the underside. And, later Sirish felt probably this could be the short-toed eagle, right Sirish ??
Jagadish was back, and rock climbing funda's were being given. Sirish turned into a cool rebel that day!
Hey...Sunand's pajamas...knots....and what not ;-)
Soon, Rock climbing began. Jagadish & Mamtha were setting up the rappling gear. While the rest under Sunand's direction tried our hands and feet on a few rocks. This was fun. All of us used to majorly labour to climb. And suddenly like a wild bear - Ajay - would come from nowhere, climb-up, mutter something & get down.
At this point, I noticed 3 kids on a rock nearby. Went up and joined them. Names were Hussain, Yousuf, Mohammed (something like that...actually I don't recall). They were studying in 8th, 9th & 10th stds. All of them sat on at the top of a high slopping rock, and were focussed on their job. They were making broom sticks. Yes, they had collected that kind of a grass, and now were cleaning & cutting them at the right places. Conversation, moved here & there. They wanted to get to jobs after 10th. Anything would do kinds. No idea of the options/courses available. Suddenly, one of them asked 'Nimm sambla yeshtu' (Whatz ur salary). Thats an embarrassing question to an IT chap, I quickly quoted a figure of 10K. They kept quite. And muttured somebody they know gets 30K. Well, well. I built on that, talked 'bout possibilities of high salary due to education. Said, they shud atleast do an ITI course. Looked like their parents could really support them furthur. I said any difficulties for studying, contact Sunand...showed him to them. All along their fingure's moved diligently over those grass blades. The gang decided to rapple down, and I went to join them.

Jagadish gave the instructions and came down rappling. Sunand tried to impress us with some fast rappling, but Mamtha who was handling the ropes made sure that it wasn't loosened fast enough!!! The first to come down amongst us was Manasa. Watch her bent knees, thats a definite no-no. She came down quite cool-ly though.

Next to come down was Sirish. He was uncomfortable. He faced the classic problem of trusting. trusting the rope, and the people up. Many of us go thru it.

Sunand, at the bottom was handling the landing operations. Jagadish was pushing people down & Mamtha controlled the ropes.

Megha banthu Megha...Megha banthu Megha

Megha Neeliyya Megha...Megha mandhara Megha!!!

Hey...this girl had a cool walk down. She seems to be smilling in this snap. Boy!!!

The 'Awesome' cousins after their rapple (awesome was their most used adjective).

This is how Kiran started rappling. Notice the pond in the background.

And then me. Guyz made me stop in the middle, turn towards the camera, smile etc etc And, since I used to give funda's like look for the vultures as you come down etc. etc. They insisted that I stop, look-up & enjoy. Well, well. Thirugubanna ;-)

Last to rapple down was Ajay. He started normally, as seen here, but as he came to the middle region, started mouthing some Lalloo dialogues - guy can mimic Lalloo quite well - as he had us amused, he rappled down quite fast, continued his tirade, and..and..forgot to jump down. I mean, you walk back horizontally, when you are close to the ground, you kind-off jump down. Our man was so immersed in those lalloo dialogues, that he forgot to look down and jump, instead simply landed horizontally!!! He soon stood up all smiling ;-)

Hum ne bhi tere har ek pall ko

Galle se lagaye hey, hain na ??

Most of us had a second round of rappling. And, soon it was time to pack-off.

We went back, had a tender-coconut each, collected our ruck-sacks, and trekked back to the base-camp. A significant event on the walk was the spider hunt. Sirish noticed a spider web which had a cricket caught in it. This web was on the ground, those thick diffuse kind of web. Not the usual 2-d stuff, but proper 3-d web. So this cricket was caught, and as we watched it, a big spider showed itself from under, and attacked the cricket. The first attack though swift was unsuccessful for reasons unknown. The cricket seemed to be immobolised by the web. It showed no signs of escaping. In its second attack, the spider was successfull. It held the cricket firmly - rather seem to hug it closely - I suppose it would have injected something & immobolised it. The cricket was still. We had to hurry back. My camera battery was down.

Well guyz this is how our Ramanagara trek turned out to be. The rain gods kept away. The comradery was unbeliveable. Jagadish as a leader was superb. Frankly, what I perhaps would treasure most was the closeness the group developed, and the sharing that happened. Yes, vultures, man..... I need to get back.

Hey Zindagi galle lagga ley

Hum ne bhi, tere har ek pall ko

Galle se lagaya hey, hai na ??

Special thanks to KMA , Sunand & Jagadish for making Ramanagara happen despite the rain scare. October 28th night to 30th night.

Friday, November 04, 2005


Nope...I am not writing a review on Upendra's Kutumba ;-)
But 'bout a Kutumba we had been to. Kutumba means family in Kannada.

Family - we take them granted for - but for quite a lot of people they simply don't exist. Birth - a chance -(unless you believe in Karma) could have placed me anywhere. Sex & geography apart, the economic background & your health are something you don't have any control on. I could have been born blind, autistic, mentally-retarded, or physically handicapped. And on top of all poverty. Poverty coupled with a handicap could have easily left me on the streets.

Well, this Deepavali volunteers of Friends of Cry met at a home called 'Kutumba'. It houses 15 inmates along with a warden. Most of them physically handicapped and a couple of them mentally. Girls in the age group of 4 to 25. There was one boy around 8-10 yrs. All of them go to school or some training like tailoring/beautician/computers.

The gang had been joining them for Diwali & Christmas celebrations the last few years. And, so it was on a not-yet-raining evening a gang on bikes started from the CRY office & reached 'Kutumba' somewhere in the Hennur-Banaswadi region around 6ish. The gang had Sandeep, Saphal, Karthik, Vinitha, Mamtha, Kiran, Sunand & me. For many of us it was a first visit.

We quickly settled down, and had a long nice introduction of all of us. Each of us were to give clues to our names, and then the rest were to crack. The names were simply blasted off. And, then we spoke about our interests & hobbies. Lemme recall their names, yes...Kamakshi, Manjula, Sujanna, Pragya, Vikram, Jyothi, Madhu, Vijaya...

This kid is Pragya. Not sure what exactly is wrong. Autism or mental-retardation. Mamtha had a great time with her. And, surprisingly Pragya didn't crib at all, she enjoyed playing with her. Simple things like waving Sunand's cap captured her full attention. Not a word she spoke.

At some point, she noticed the bright red colored thread with a chand-hoova (flower) on my wrist (My Mom's Diwali special), and grabbed it. And, then simply kept oscillating it & watched it fascinated.

Vikram, sat much more silently. Vineeta got talking/engaging him. He had some chocolates & chips. He never talked, hardly moved, sat erect, moving only his hands.

Well, after some 30-40 minutes of talk, we moved up to the terrace to burst crackers. Cool...bursting crackers. Strangely, the girls weren't joining. I expected them to simply pick up the crackers & burst them.

Well, to begin with most of them were scared!!! Secondly, they seemed to be quite shy. So, the volunteers started distributing the stuff. Mamtha set the trend, by bursting whatever she layed her hands on. And, soon the rest of the crowd joined in. Pragya came up, but not Vikram & Vijaya. Vijaya was really scared.

Lot of flower-pots, boo-chakras, sur-sur bathis, and finally we ventured into crackers & rockets. Madhu - an 8th std kid - was graduating fast. Soon, quite a few of them were bursting the big ones. At this point, Anil, Murtuza & Sonia joined us.

We had carried with us lotz of crackers. We spent the next 90 minutes bursting them all. Rockets were a problem, they were so un-predictable. We had a plastic bottle. Soon under Karthik's direction they were all sent up. Yeah! one landed dangerously in a garage nearby.

Around 8:30ish, as we were almost thru, the sky rained rockets back!!! We scampered back indoors.

By now, we knew each other fairly well. I was asking them their short-term goals. Madhu - 8th std kid - said she wants to be doctor ;-) Another lady said she want to stand on her feet - economic independence - that's a realistic & fantastic goal I thought. Soon...songs happened...Anthakshari wasn't a success....and soon we moved to a game called '7 Up'. Each of us count ourselves goes...the 7th chap as to say '7 up'....and point hands in the direction he want the counting to restart again. If somebody goofs up, he/she had to do some activity. We had loads of fun with this game. We passed sweets & chips. Soon it was 9:45pm...........and the rain had slowed down.

We said our byes. They thanked us for coming. Asked us to come back for Christmas. That, we promised. And left the place.

Well, activities like these mean different things to different people. For me, the act of getting to meet such people, talking to them, spending time with them has been important, educating & inspiring. It balances my life. And, I have always believed its important to keep doing something - however small - than get lost in intellectual discussion on their utility/long-termness.

Family/Kutumba, is a concept, that embraces everybody you look at & talk with. For people down & struggling, a little help, an encouragement, an hand-shake, a smile - could make all the difference.

Like to thank all those for making this Diwali event happen. Sunand for planning & running around. Murtuza. Rajarshi for talking about it & pushing it (but not turning up). And, whole lot of people who contributed for the crackers & sweets. Thanks guyz.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Ramanagara 1

Hey Zindagi galle lagga ley
Hum ne bhi tere har ek pall ko
Galle se lagaya hai, hai na ??

A great song to begin the trek right ? The trek at Ramnagara had began, we walked thru narrow paths, green vegetation all around, streams here & there. And, since I was lagging behind with my kyamera, the team stayed put awaiting Sunand & me. As we approached them, I could hear Jagdish - who lead the team - exhorting the waiting crowd for a song. The girls - left to right - Manasa, Megha, & Mamtha came up with this gem. They sang for quite sometime, and it was beautiful high up in that cloudy morning.

The terrain in the morning.

A mushroom on a broken twig. There were two of them at the ends of the twig.

Shirish is a good bird watcher, he spotted this bea-eater as it flew in, and settled on the tree, and quickly devoured the dragon-fly.

Hey Zindagi galle laga ley.

Megha got maha excited by the streams and well, this picture says it all. Shot by Sunand.

7 brave humans treading on a gravel bed where the dead were left to be feasted by the animals. Source: Jagadish, I am quite skeptical though.

Hey Zindagi galle lage ley

Jagadish's juggle-bandi
Hum ne bhi tere har ek pall ko

Galle se laggaya hai, hai na ??

Jagadish & Manasa posed for this snap ;-)) Spot them.

Lots of little flowers on the way. Along with mushrooms & lichens. Thanks to Megha - a final BSc student - we were getting lotz of funda's. Lots of grass-hoppers, crickets, butterfly's too.

Hey....who are these chaps ?? what are they doing here ?? My bet is that they are male & female of a species - trying to do the obvious - though they looks so dis-similar. Hey Zindagi... galle lage ley!!!

We were walking on pretty rocky terrain. Walking on huge boulders, walking besides them etc etc. This chap reminded me of 'Nandi' (bull).

Ajay was having a great time concocting myths & legends for everything he came across - major fun we had -

Sheep & cow dung were all along the path. Here, this couple was staring at strangers in their homeland.

Jagadish was showing off some local tricks ;-) Here, some plant's sap was used to produce bubbles aided by a safety-pin.

At this point, we started climbing an hill, there were steps made of small boulders & rocks.

And lots of flowers on the way.

After a good climb, we came across a Rama temple. Some of us went in and were rewarded with pongal as prasada!

Can U see its tail.

And, furthur up, this was the last climb to the peak.

Sunand, Jagadish & Mamtha carried the back-packs. Thanks to them, the rest of us had a easy trek. Sunand, infact planned the trek for us. An organizer with KMA - Karnataka Mountaineering Association - (my first gang too), and also a valuable volunteer working for the under-previleged.

Having reached the summit feels good, one gets a good rest. There were lots of cactai plants. A small pond with lotz of activity. Unfortunately, my camera battery was running low. The pond had lotz of frogs. And, they seem to wait at the surface for passing dragon & damsel flys. I saw a pair of mating damselfl's being devoured in a flash by a frog. There was a big (bluish) dragonfly flying around too.

As we sat & relaxed, it was Manasa & Mamtha who hogged all the limelight. Manasa - a 1st year MBBS - is learning Yakshagana. Yakshagana is a dance/play based on mythology with elaborate costumes & exaggerated eye movements. And, when Manasa sang a few yakshagana lines - I was thrilled like anything - I had always heard it on TV - and it never had excited me. But here & now, it had hit me like nothing before ;-)) Wish she had sang more lines. Soon, Mamtha joined the act. Apparently shez learning kick-boxing. Sunand invited her wrath with some leg pulling. Boy! he got kicked fine & proper. I was amazed. Never before I had seen such clean kicks delivered!

This is my favourite shot. You see Manasa closer, furthur up lrft to right are Mamtha (lying down), Shirish, Kiran, Jagadish (bending) and Ajay.

Here, the red thorns are the young thorns in the making. They are soft. When I touched/pressed them, a white fluid oozed out.

Hey Zindagi galle lage ley

Hum ne bhi, tere har ek pall ko

Galle se laggaya hai, hai na ??