Perception

Perspective

Teary eyed, I stood in front of the house where I lived my childhood days.  I wanted to step in but it wasn’t my house any longer, belonged to some other family and I thought it would not be right to disturb them early morning. So I just stood there on the road glaring at the garden that my mother once had so well curated, the rose bed on side of the garden still remained intact, though the other side of the garden, the Bermuda grass lawn cried out for maintenance.  The Cobra Saffron ( Naag champa), Hibiscus and Palms around the lawn which were once plants have strongly rooted themselves over the last 18 years. And the bougainvilleas in the corner of the house were in full bloom.

Everything seemed to be the same, almost.  Just one thing which wasn’t the same about the place. The garden I stood in front of seemed to be much smaller as I thought it used to be when I was a child. The roads now look much shorter and narrower than it used to be. The school corridor which seemed like an endless alley is a short walk now!

Why were objects appearing smaller than what I remember them to be?

Quite obviously the place/object hasn’t shrunk in size. So, did I develop a refractive disorder?

We all must have experienced this at some point in time and wondered why did we feel so.

Children and adults see the world differently!

Here’s my attempt to reasoning. As a child, I viewed every little detail that came between where I stood and where the garden ended. These interesting details put together, formed a much larger image of the garden in my memory.

Experts state that the brain of a child relies on individual sensory systems to form an estimate, where as the adult brain integrates multiple sensory information (vision, touch) to make better sense of the world around. Adult can suppress the noises of the surroundings (flowers/people/other things which are of interest to a child) and processes the place/object in view faster. With “fused sensory information” and higher processing speed of an adult brain, brings the realization that the estimate drawn in childhood is at conflict with the present.

As we grow up in height and age, our angle of viewing the world changes. Our vision is not restricted to just that place/object, but our memory space is invaded with lot of other related information, which helps to form a comparison and subsequently draw a judgement of what we see.

A thought that resonates here, is how our own perceptions change over time. On meeting someone new, our adult mind rushes to form judgments about the person, quite unlike a young mind which only perceives a new friend. The time when spontaneity was not considered risky and the time when being simple didn’t mean being foolish. Life was far beautiful when we lived every moment of it.

It’s strange to think that we grow up to learn and gather so much knowledge, overburden ourselves with work and thoughts, only to trace back and strive to live life from a child’s perspective. Clear unfiltered beauty of life.

Standing by the road, I yearned to be a child again.

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It takes so little to be happy.

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Does it make you happy when you walk barefeet on the beach with the waves kissing your feet intermittently ? Do you feel good watching the sunrise and sunset? Do you smile and wonder at the beauty of nature and creation? If yes, to all then you would relate to what I am going to say.

Nature gives us those innumerable moments of happiness, the  priceless moments that money can never buy. Nature brings that harmony and balance in our lives to keep us going.

The  humdrum of a metro life takes away the opportunity to think clearly, to concentrate and hear my own self.  I look forward to Nature to let me be ME.

Communicating with self gives me happiness. Wise are those who do it daily.

 

Chicken Ghee Roast

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Chicken Ghee roast is a popular dish in Karnataka with its origin in Kundapur, a coastal town near Mangalore, India. I am fond of the coastal food of Karnataka ( Konkani), spicy yet yummy.

Goes well with Neer Dosa/ Rice/ Pilaf and Appams and easy to prepare . This is a favorite at my home. Here goes my version:

 Marinade
Chicken - 800 gm ( I prefer boneless)
Turmeric- 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder- 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 Tbsp
Pepper Powder- 1/2 tsp
Garlic paste- 1/2 tsp
Ginger paste-1/2 tsp
Lime juice 2tbsp ( lot of people also add yoghut, 
but I prefer using only lime juice)
Salt -1.5 tsp

Wash chicken and make bite size pieces of it. Mix all the 
marinade ingredients together and refrigerate for 4 hours. 
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 1/2 tsp ghee and add 
marinated chicken. Cover and Cook over medium flame till
 the chicken turns light brown and  the marinade is 
coated over the chicken pieces

Ground Masala
In a pan heat 1 Tbsp of ghee. Add 15 garlic pods (peeled),
 2 Tsp Fennel Seeds, 1/2 tsp Peppercorns, 2 tsp Cumin seeds,
 1" cinnamon stick, 4 Whole cloves, 1" ginger (grated), 
1.5 Tbsp Coriander seeds, 6 Kashmiri Red Chilies.
Roast the ingredients, but dont let them turn black. 
Let the spices cool down , add Tamarind Pulp 2 Tbsp, 
water as required and make a smooth paste in the mixer.

Roast
In a heavy bottomed pan add remaining ghee.
 Temper with handful of curry leaves. Add the ground masala
 paste and let it cook till the oil floats on top of the 
masala. Now add the chicken to the ground masala paste 
and cook till chicken is done. Add 3 tsp powdered jaggery
(balances the heavy spices)and mix well. Adjust salt as per
taste. When cooked, chicken is coated with masala and 
the ghee floats along. 

Serve hot garnished with curry leaves or chopped coriander. 

Enjoy your version of chicken ghee roast!

Ooty

As a child, I had often heard about Ooty in Tamil Nadu India, but had never been to. This was one of the most preferred destination for Hindi movies shooting during the 80’s & 90’s.  So I had seen bits and parts of Ooty through movies, like the famous OotyLake,  Niligiri (Blue Mountain) Railway, Pine forests etc.

I was not keen on exploring the above destinations when I reached Ooty but they do have their own beauty. I like spending my holidays in places which are a little cut off from the commercialized world. Thats my attempt to be one with Mother Nature.

I chose a heritage British Bunglow for my stay in Ooty, Red Hills Nature Resort. This little part of Ooty  resembles Europe. IMG_0357

Thats the view from the bunglow. Simply breathtaking ! I was inquisitive of the blue hue surrounding the area. I was told by the Bunglow owner that the blue tinge is formed due to the smoky haze from the eucalyptus trees surrounding the mountains, and so these hills are called Nilgiris ( The blue mountains). He also added that a flower named”Kurunji” which blooms in every 12 years also adds to the blue hue. But  the flower was not in bloom that year.

The bunglow could narrate  myriad stories, if only its walls could speak. I would be honest there was this creepy eerie feeling that I had a couple of times, but that was it. Just momentary. The hosts are warm and hospitable. The bunglow has its own charm. Pristine white house with french windows, lovely sit out adorned with colorful seasonal flowers, well manicured garden, and all this surrounded by lush greenery and emerald lake. It looks like  a canvas of vivid imagination by an artist.

Food served was fresh, from their own kitchen garden, cooked to perfection over wood fired stove. Tea, was served 3-4 times in a day, again from the property’s own tea garden. One could relish the tea sitting in the library at the bunglow running through the varied collection of books, or simply enjoy the picturesque surrounding or still better over conversations with fellow mates. Niligiris tea is generally described as dark and intensely aromatic.

Sunset at the porthymund dam was quite an experience. Very calming, one could only hear the birds chirping and settling down in their nests before darkness sets in. Earlier in the day, I decided to trek up the hill behind the bunglow for a clear view of the sunrise, but mist had blocked the view completely.

 

My last day I decided to go fishing. The catchment area was close to the bunglow but goes through a forest area and an abandoned tin factory. I was advised to be with a guide and travel in their vehicle.  We had just moved few kms away from the bunglow when we had an encounter with the black leopard, sitting majestically at the turn of the road. Our vehicle stopped. I was gazing into the eyes of the leopard. Like it happens, there was pin drop silence. From the corner of my eyes, I felt my fellow mates were doing the exact thing as me. The leopard stood up and swiftly moved into the shrubs leading to the dense forest behind.  I thought Leopards are shy and perhaps more scared than us. Our admiration for the animal  did not allow us to  capture the moment.  Lawrence Block  said”Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else”. So true.

We headed towards to the catchment area.The vehicle had to be parked and after a small walk through the hillocks was the magnificent Emerald lake. True to its name, the lake is emerald in colour.  I was lucky to have a good catch albeit with the help of my guide along.DSC01742

They say  “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind”. With a re-energized mind I returned to Bangalore, in the wait to explore another beautiful destination.

Yelagiri and Hoggenakal

Yelagiri is a small hill station located in Vellore district of TamilNadu, India. For our company’s leisure trip, Yelagiri wasnt really our first choice. We wanted to visit all the unknown places of India. It is not that we disliked the known places just that we weren’t interested in visiting the otherwise crowded destinations over weekends.  Bangalore and the other metro cities of India has a growing population who enjoy travelling on weekends, on a road trip with family and friends. This has been the trend over the last one decade. A lot of Indian people including self love the motto,”Work. Save. Travel”.  Disadvantage to this trend: Bear high costs and no availability over weekends, if travel is not planned in advance.

005Yelagiri is not a developed hill station as Ooty or Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu. It is now being promoted as an adventure sports destination by the government. We had heard about paragliding and rock climbing at this destination( Yelagiri Adventure Sports Association) and so decided to go for it.

From Bangalore, it took us 4.5 hours to reach Yelagiri with a tea-coffee break in between.Well before noon, we headed for paragliding activity but our bad luck, the adventure sports were cancelled for the day. We reached the hotel ( Chariot resort) and retired for the day.Hotel options are limited and most of them are pretty budgeted. Food was made to order. Knowing the limitations, it was safe to order the basic south indian meal (rice, daal, sambhar and pappadums). We relished our meal and few of us went ahead for their afternoon siesta.

I explored around. Yelagiri has an artifical lake named Punganoor lake, with a depth of 25 ft. Boating provides livelihood for few of the residents here. Most of the people are tribals engaged in cultivation.  Yelagiri  is also home to hundreds of snakes. There is a park adjoining the lake but in poor condition.

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Found the tribals selling local fruits ( mostly berries) and bangles. Bangles are traditional ornaments worn by South Asian women (India, Pakistan, Sri lanka, Bangaldesh). Bangles are made of metal, wood, plastic, glass. I love the glass bangles ( as in the image above), they are so colorful .  Like food, habit, dress, language etc,  bangles too differ from region to region of India.

Next morning , we enquired for the paragliding activity, but tough luck again. We headed towards Hogenakkal Falls. Hogenakkal is around 2.5 hrs from Yelagiri.It is located in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. This waterfall on river Kaveri, has its fame for medicinal bath and coracle boat rides.

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Fishing and boating are the main source of income for people around here. With the sun right above our heads, the coracle boat ride was a relief.Coracle are made of bamboo and it is made waterproof by using hides and tar. A coracle can seat maximum of 8 people. The seating is decided by the boatman and we simply followed it. An ” it happens only in India” moment : We spotted a vendor in a colorful coracle selling soft drinks, water bottles in  coolers and munchies, right in the middle of the gorge (…. I could not capture it in lens though). Very thoughtful, the sun would have melted us otherwise ( August heat).

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There arent any good restaurants around. Mostly people buy freshly caught fish and these can be prepared in one of the many kitchens set up on the shore of the gorge. The kitchens are run by women , who grind fresh masala, cook right in front of you to your likes. Fish curry , fried fish , sambhar and rice made way to our stomachs and filled our hearts  with joy.

We strolled around a bit. It was almost four in the afternoon and we needed to head back to Bangalore. We were walking towards to our cars when a little girl asked us to have coffee at her mom’s makeshift shop. There was something about this girl….. may be her expressive eyes… may be her innocent smile… something about her that I got struck by…. may be the hope in her eyes, the way she looks at the world in black and white.

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Enroute to Kundapur

Early morning of 12 Feb I began my journey towards Kundapur. I had the company of two colleagues who have turned friends now and who are equally passionate about travel as I am. One is a wildlife enthusiast and has many stories to share (good to listen while on a  long journey) and the other is a photography lover.

Kundapur is a quiet coastal town in Karnataka, India. It is about 430 kms away from Bangalore. Took us about 12 hrs to reach our destination, though we had stopped at Belur  and Sringeri town on our way. I started at around 7:30 am and was in Belur within four hours. Roads from Bangalore to Belur are pretty good with limited food outlets. This is one area where we need development across regions in india, i.e hygenic food outlets and utility services within specified intervals. IMG_8977

IMG_8946The Chennakeshava temple at Belur is just marvellous. I have not seen such intricate work as yet. Some of the engravings were so detailed, it left me in awe of the creativity of yesteryears. Not one portion of the temple or the surrounding architecture is empty, each has intricate sculptures carved on it, screaming out loud the creativity of the sculptor.

In one part of the temple, a kannada movie”Jogi Garden” was being shot. My fellow travelers jumped on the idea of meeting and getting clicked with the lead actress. Watching the shoot costed us 1.5 hours delay.

We headed towards Sringeri for a short stop at the Adi Shankaracharya Math. The road condition from Belur to Sringeri is not good and the max speed you could get to would be  60-80 unless you are not bothered about hurting your car. There is a magical calmness in and around the math. Life goes on at pace much slower than our usual bangalorean lifestlye, but yet it feels so right. The temple (inside the math) architecture again is astounding. This temple was closed from all sides, I dont know why. We walked upto the river adjoining the math. There are hundreds of (really) big fishes jumping out to eat the murmurras thrown by visitors. As per my companion, no one comes for fishing in these areas and the fishes live in peace. IMG_9017

IMG_9035It was almost five thirty when we reached Augumbe sunset point. The sun was still way up the horizon and would have taken its own time to set. Agumbe is set at an elevation of 643 m and gives an uninterrupted view of the valley below. It is known as the cherrapunji of South and is home to the King cobras. Obvious of my dislike for the entire reptilia family, my wildlife friend kept teasing me about them.  Heavy mist did not allow us to take a proper pic of the Agumbe ghat.

IMG_9151The trek down is pretty tricky with 18 hairpin bends and too steep. I decided not to take this road on my way back, driving uphill through the same roads was not my cup of tea.We reached our destination at 7:30 in the evening. For the next two days, Meridian Bay resort and spa was our home. It is an oasis in the middle of nowhere. Situated close to Kundapur city, Meridian Bay has five star quality at the cost of a three star hotel. I hope the hotel doesnt compromise on the service and quality standards.

IMG_9542We had kundapur chicken curry and roti. Loved the spice over a chilled beer. The restaurant had few localites enjoying their evening drink and watching the favourite indian sport- cricket. I had a good night’s rest. IMG_9510Breakfast was made to order as there were few inhouse guests. After savouring on dosas and puri bhajis, we quickly made our way towards St. Mary’s island.  This island is close to Malpe, Udupi. We went to Malpe Harbour to catch a boat. Malpe harbour at 1100 hrs was still abuzz with the catch of the day. There were hundreds of boats parked and colorful buckets carrying tonnes of fish. Our boat took 30 mins to traverse the 6km distance from shore to island. We were advised to return within an hour . The island has unique rock formations, again this is something I had not seen before. The rocks are columnar with hexagon shapes. Later I read that these are due to a lava eruption many many years ago where Madgascar rifted away from the Indian continent.  One part of the island has a beach which is formed of sea shells. There is no sand on the beach. One would find it difficult to walk barefoot. This place has no habitation and perhaps so the beauty of this place has been intact. It was scorching hot and humid, we gobbled upon sea food at the Paradise Isle beach resort in malpe.

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IMG_9232The next and final spot to cover was Maravanthe beach- A quiet and scenic beach of coastal Karnataka. The sea at Maravanthe is very calm, the sound of the waves are equally pleasing to the ears. We saw the sunset before heading back to our hotel. I always find myself lost in thoughts when around nature. What magnanimity nature holds.

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Next morning after breakfast and thanking our hotelier friends, we made our way back to home. The route taken was via Managlore. It has always seemed that return journeys take lesser time than the onward journeys ( even though the route was a little longer, 455 kms).

 

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2016 is a year that I intend to bring in many changes. changes in myself . I am now 37 and the last 15 years seems so pointless now barring few lifetime experiences.

Two months back I did not have time for my family or myself. I galloped like a blinded horse day and night. I forgot to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I traveled to escape  the boredom, only for it to follow back in my life as I returned from travel.

Now, I probe myself as to what stops me from living my dream. The answer is – me. Time to ring in the changes to avoid living in regrets

I finally bid  goodbye  to my corporate life in 2015 and set foot to a journey of finding my own self. Aspire to do things that gives me pleasure and happiness foremost, not just money. Strange how life evolves and changes our whole mindset over time.

I tread into the unknown. Following my heart. In the hope that I discover myself and fill my blank mind with colors of happiness, begin the year of change.