Cicada Resorts, Kabini

7 08 2008

After about six hours of tiring ride from Bangalore, we landed in this paradise. A little drizzle, coconut grooves, mountain bikes, tiled cottages, overlooking the Kabini riverside, chirping birds, cozy hammocks, gentle wafting breeze.. What could I ask for more? Enveloped in the lazy comfort of nature, I discovered the pleasure of doing nothing.

Somehow strangely, it made me nostalgic of my quaint little town Rajahmundry that overlooks the serene Godavari. For sometime, I tried to convince myself I am not living my dream.

I guess its been a long time since my mind and soul are this quiet.. Coming here made me realize how desperately I needed this break. 🙂 I basked in the sheer pleasure of relaxing by the riverside and indulging in the simple activities. What I loved the most? Let me count..

Cycling by the riverside

Its been a long time since I last cycled in the woods. Biking along the uneven roads, doing the balancing act, rushing uphill and enjoying the pull of the downward ride, rush of adrenaline, and the enveloping calmth afterward.. Is that a cyclist’s high?

Lazing in the Hammock

Away from civilization, and yet so near to all the modern comforts. That’s the blend of experience that you get in resorts located in pristine locations. I must have spent some quality hours on this hammock by the riverside, in the soothing symphony of the birds.

Jeep Safari by the Nagarhole National Park

Jungle Safari by the river side, along the sides of Kabini River is a refreshing journey in the wilderness, especially in the wilderness. We spotted herds of agile deers sprinting over the grasslands, and some wild elephants too. At the end of the trip, we did stop at a place where domesticated elephants are groomed. What struck me was the huge difference in their body language. A wild elephant looks spirited and in ease with the life and self, whilst the domesticated elephant looks much more resigned with life in spirit and action. That’s a serious thought to ponder there, for somehow, I had a feeling that these animals would anyday trade a risky life of freedom in wilderness where they had to fight for survival every moment, to a sheltered and secured life of bondage. Now I wonder, why do we act different and pretend that we are insanely wise, trading our life’s longings and dreams to conventional wisdom? Somehow, spotting those wood spirits soothed my soul like nothing could, especially on a lovely morning.

A Place That Spells Peace..

And lives upto it too. No blaring horns, no loud music, all you can find is the sound of silence and your own heart beat. I loved being there for a weekend, and could only bring back those beautiful memories of paradise.

Antargange Trek..

23 06 2008

Pure Exhiliaration is the word of the day. Thanks for the insistence of a sweet pal, which made me head for this trek instead of watching ‘Dasavatharam’ or indulging in window shopping.

This is the first time that I tried ‘Bangalore Mountaineering Club’ and I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by the experience. We boarded the bus at 8 AM at K.R. Puram busstop and I was surprised to see 50 plus people in the bus, given the short notice. I guess the quality of the companionship in the group made all the difference to this trekking experience.

The trip started with around 90 minutes of bus journey from Bangalore to reach Kolar. We caught up with the breakfast at ShanthiSagar in Kolar which is around 3 km from the ‘Antargange’ location. We reached the place in no time and there was a pack of stairs leading up to the temple. We were welcomed by loads of monkeys, and the pleasant sunny breeze warmed us for the trek ahead.

We reached the Antargange temple after a little climb of stairs, and I already had doubts forming in my mind, if the trek actually is over before it even began. The temple is filled with serene silence and the group is abuzz with action for the impending climb. Making the temple as our base camp, we started the trek with Janak playing the lead trekker and Neeraj trailing to support the cozy climbers.

The path is paved with sand, rock, thorns and the sun, in his blazing glory, wasn’t playing the good Samaritan. Yet, undaunted, many were climbing ahead, one step at a time, in a quiet determination to discover the terrain. I really marvelled at the energy of the crowd in climbing and cave exploring in the region. By noon, we reached the peak of a mountain(if I can call it that) and were ready to go for cave exploration after a relaxed lunch on the peak of a mountain by the side of a small brook filled with chilled water. Cold feet takes a different meaning when you get to rest by dipping feet in chilled water on the top of a mountain in sooting breeze after a hectic trek uphill.

The beauty of mingling with a group in an organized trek, is the sheer experience of encountering different people with different choices and interests. There would be some exploring the untrodden path, some who would take time around to smell the roses and savour the scenary around, while some who run ahead in childlike enthusiam of scaling the peak ahead only to discover that there is no dearth of rocks. Everyone discovering his or her own private definition of solitude and enjoyment amidst wilderness and sun.

If the climb uphill through the rocks in no definite path was a journey on its own, filled with a different thrill of navigating through the boulders that challenge your endurance, the cave exploration post lunch unleashed the childlike exuberance of discovering the unknown. Armed with a naive faith that the dark holds no terror, we all went through the natural caves, to discover our own recess for solitude amidst the mammoth rocks that are resting since centuries. Those rocks filled with small crevices are loaded with umpteen challenges. Often, finding a way ahead in the maze of boulders becomes daunting as the chances of hitting a dead end means reinventing the wheel once again. The wild flowers with their gentle fragrance, and the natural caves with their cold soothing embrace did offer some sanctury against the sultry weather. We did learn some gymnastics, prodding ourselves though the closely nested rocks to reach no definite destination in an easy pace.

The view from the top is breath taking! Enveloped by sand, rock, sky and sun, the town of Kolar looks serene and calm. All I could feel was numbing contentment. With so many people sharing the joy of experience, the thought that lingered in that moment was, ‘who said its lonely at the top?’. 🙂 I was in for a treat while getting down. We discovered a small well with pristine sweet water and I relived the fantasy of a village gal by drawing water from the well and enjoying its sweet taste in primitive fashion. With loads of memories and sated satisfaction, we headed for Bangalore playing Antakshari enroute with the new found pals. We sealed off the day with a quiet dinner at Malgudi and bid our farewell. I had my much needed break, and I confess this, even though the after effects of the trek still remain in my hoarse throat and aching muscles.

Water Lilies – My First Experience of Theatre

1 06 2008

Many a times, our life is filled with chance encounters with engaging strangers who leave lasting impressions or thought provoking reflections as they touch our lives in accident. Ever wondered what binds those conversations together? What compels us to connect to those strangers from diverse backgrounds and worlds and what propels us to spill our deep experiences of life which we seldom share with those with whom we spend our life with?

The play ‘Water Lilies’ is filled with a set of random sparkling conversations between people from diverse backgrounds who meet in random at public places.. Staged as a trilogy of three short plays: Fawn Lilies, Water Lilies and Black Lilies, this play explores the strange tranquility that envelops us as we strike kinship with the world around us. In these short plays, a man and a woman from diverse backgrounds and radically different outlook that springs from their distinct racial origins share their world of experiences and differences only to discover a strange affinity through common values, leaving each other with a fresh set of perspectives and a new meaning behind things. What enriching reflection can happen over a harmless conversation in thirty minutes with an absolute stranger from the other part of the world? One has to watch this play to believe it.

Fawn Lilies: Set in a Park in Columbus, Ohio, a bird-watching dietitian from Vijayawada, whose boyfriend decides to give up love for war, meets a gay vagabond with a cynical feel for causes. The characterization of the female protagonist ‘Sunandha Ragunathan’ do sound like a bundle of contradictions for coming from the same place, it was a little hard for me to imagine “a bird-watching dietitian from Vijayawada”, sprouting a tattoo on her forearm and a dainty umbrella for accessory. Yet, what makes the play beautiful was the lilting quality of the conversations that shimmer with a soulful introspection. The gay wanderer shares his experiences of being a part of tree sitting movement while pondering on his vagabond nature. Trying to cope with the loss of her boy friend and childhood sweetheart, she finds comfort in taking up her boyfriend’s passion for birds, trying to hold on to those lost memories. As they spill these little details of their life and collect those life long reflections in an enticing conversation, the play ends with a poem called ‘Fawn-Lilies’ by Ashton Smith that celebrates a sense of positivity in the bloom of fawn lilies that sprang from a swamp.

Fawn-Lilies By Clark Ashton Smith

White lilies frail and cold,
With hearts of elfin gold;
Briefer than all brief things your hidden bloom,
Beneath the sombre grove –
Mournful, and dear, and fair as hapless love,
Foreknowing all the nearness of its doom.

White lilies cool and shy,
Delicously ye die,
Before the vesper dews of any morrow!
But now, on windless air,
Your perfume lies, fresh as a woman’s hair,
And faint as myrrh the dreams of noon would borrow.

White lilies cold and wan
As hands of swooming love –
As the fair throat whereon
My kisses clomb, to find her mouth’s lit flame! –
Ye die, and cannot say
Who passed beneath the April pines today;
And you alone have heard our hidden love,
And known her flow’r-soft name.

Water Lilies: Dismissing Claude Monet as a painter of pretty flowers, a Texan investment banker becomes curious about a Srilankan woman’s passion for Monet’s lilyscapes at Monet Exhibition, Houston Museum. When V.Balakrishnan as a Texan Banker subtly mocks Monnet’s landscapes, Swarnamalya as a sari-clad Srilankan woman etches a perfect picture of serene beauty and magnificent dignity, as she passionately highlights the subtle nuances of Monnet’s paintings that elevate art beyond colors and reach out to the vision of the painter. The play ends with the Banker musing on the last words of the poem by Ted Hughes, that highlights the serene tranquility of the water lilies despite of the horrors that surround their roots.

To Paint A Lily Flower By Ted Hughes

Ignorant of age as of hour—
Now paint the long-necked lily-flower

Which, deep in both worlds, can be still
As a painting, trembling hardly at all

Though the dragonfly alight,
Whatever horror nudge her root

Black Lilies: Set in Washington Dulles Airport, two days after the 9/11 tragedy, a young school teacher from Tamil Nadu, on her first foreign trip, strikes a conversation with a Serbo-Hungarian novelist, who is on his way to meet his German translator in Frankfurt. Partly amused and partly irritated by her diffidence and irrational fear about everything from thunder to travel, the novelist shares a piece of his dark stories, only to discover faith and belief in her shy and affirmative convictions. Dhritiman Chaterji embodies the nobel award novelist with beautifully packed wit, passion, and poignant reflection in fluid and carefree ease. He makes you think, laugh and ache as he recites his story and comments on her beliefs. Parteeksha, as the Tamil school teacher matches the novelist with her shy and confident delivery of her convictions and opinions which contrast sharply with the novelist’s ideology. As they share their world of differences, they collectively discover hope, joy, light and happiness that leads the discussion from darkness to light.

Gowri Ramnarayan creates magical moments of introspection by her careful choice of words and her eminent direction. She should be credited for judiciously blending poetry, verse and paintings to enhance the swaying moods of the conversations. Anil Srinivasan with his mellifluous piano performance blends wonderfully into the play, linking the stories and ephemeral thoughts together with his transient and haunting music. His dulcet tunes match the poignant thought process that runs behind those conversations and subtly elevate the moods of the protagonists.

I marveled at the competence of the cast that enlivened the theatre and made those moments eternal in my memories. The play did leave me with moments of nostalgia of all those soulful chance encounters I had with engaging people, some who stayed on to be friends for life, while some dropped in to offer life long reflections in those fleeting moments.

SmartTechie Startup City in Bangalore

25 05 2008

This Saturday was quite eventful with the SmartTechie’s Startup City Event happening at NIMHANS Convention Centre in Bangalore. I was about to collect my notes, but a little bit of googling helped me land up at Swaroop’s notes on the event which captured the essence of the event in a remarkable fashion.

Here are those aspects of the event that I loved most. R.K.Misra is positively charging and I loved Ashish Gupta’s keen insightful address that traced the evolution of startups. His perspective of looking at India as a huge startup offered a great food for thought. The panel discussion focussed on Innovation Marketing was moderated by Dr. Y L R Moorthi – IIMB professor of marketing. Some of Moorthi’s candid remarks like

‘Marketing is too serious a stuff to leave it to Marketing professors or Marketing professionals’
‘Technology has the shelf life of a banana’

got me thinking. How true!

The Marketing Panel discussion was quite insightful as Paul Murphy, Director of Innovation, Microsoft India emphasized on the importance of Business case, on building products that customer wants, and Marketing in Promoting ideas, Bharath Chinamanthur from Amazon India Development Center and Suresh Vedula, Head – Business Mobility,from Nokia India expounded on their experiences. Sharad Sharma proved to be a great moderator in the CEO Conclave. Overall, this event surpassed my expectations!

The Fires Within..

18 05 2008

When Was The Last Time That I Did Something For the First Time?

I attended a dance performance by Natyalakshana, called ‘The Fires Within’ which was sponsored by Bosch Cultural Events at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall this Friday. For those who were wondering about my new found interest in traditional art forms, I have to ascribe due credit to those unconventional inspirations that result from boredom.

And how glad I was that my whim took me there. How I thanked my friends for their exotic and audacious suggestion to take me there! The show was a beautiful symphony of music, dance and art, where flying feet gave voice to age old legends. The legendary poems represented are selected verses from Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’, Bharathiyar’s ‘Dikku Theriyada Katil’ and a few selection of Mirza Ghalib’s poetry in Kathak. I loved the ‘Dikku Theriyada Katil’ and Ghalib’s poetry representation, where I felt that the dancers delivered a magnificent justice to the poems.

Shama and Sanjay’s ‘Dikku Theriyada Katil’ and Hari and Chandana’s ‘Mirza Ghalib piece’ had a delicate balance of perfection and expression and they held me in rapture through out. The dance drama that followed, called Tagore’s ‘Tasher Desh’ was a little bit disappointing, but the blame rests with my expectations which reached the sky by the end of the first two performances. If I have to define the experience, words would surely fail me as I am running short of superlatives. I could never realize that poetry could be so brilliantly enticing and soul wrenching. I was swaying in a world, so out of myself and the feeling is liberating. I believe that the credit of those beautiful moments goes to those on back stage as well. A special mention for Usha Venkateshwaran, the director of Natyalakshana who choreographed and produced the dances. Simone for the wonderful sway of lights and Sri Gurumurthy and Ustad Faizal Khan for their mellifluous music.

This event did make me reflect on my opinions towards conventional art forms. For to achieve perfection in blending, a music so divine, a dance that lent life to poetry and expressions that tugged heart, it must either have been Divine’s grace or years’ practice. It did teach me a thing or two about the immense beauty that’s submerged in Indian tradition and art. Like a welcome summer rain, my heart kissed the joy and danced along enticed in the magical world of dance, music and poetry. A worthy life long memory that’s for me for keeps.

Here are the translations in English for the Ghalib’s poetry that’s recited in the Event.

“O God Thy blessings on the soul
Whose name just came to my lips.
And as I willed that it be sung,
My speech rained kisses on my tongue.

These images drawn by Thee to make
Thine grand image, this world
Stand there like supplicants bowed in prayer:
Their burden they can’t bear.

The Fire in me, it rages high,
Though I be bound in chains.
The chain rings bounce,for they are light
Like hair all curled by flame

No simile matches her playfulness
And her quick-silver, passionate ways,
For, lighting lacks, by far, her play
And her temper is hotter than a blaze.

It is the nature of love, no doubt:
A kind of freak fire, which
You cannot start just when you wish,
Nor can you put it out.

A fire is raging in my heart
On this lonely night
My own shadow doth run from me
A smoke from fire takes flight.

It is ages since my beloved’s feet
Did cross this poor threshold.
So let her, with her twinkling cups,
Light up my dark abode.

My bustling crowd of desires
Each took my breath away!
Though I could quench many, many of them,
Yet millions remain un-slaked.

An Eventful Trip To Hyderabad..

9 04 2008

Well, the reason for the over-the-long-weekend Hyderabad trip is basically nothing, apart from the fact that I ran out of creative ideas to kill three days at a stretch in Bangalore. This trip was a sheer product of dread at ruining a nice holiday with the idiot box and some insipid novels (the bibliophile in me is suffering from acute dearth of intellectual stamina).

I spent my time with friends, discovering what has changed in them and what hasn’t changed in Hyderabad, apologizing at times rather earnestly on why I couldn’t make it to their weddings/ engagements, handling over belated wedding presents, checking out remote areas like Bala Nagar and Suchitra, meeting a couple of online pals for the very first time, watching a couple of movies for IMAX and City Planet sake, taking a long walk at General Bazaar during a light drizzle, driving around the city on one good old engineering times lady bike of my pal wearing a helmet, and in free time hogging Paradise Biryanies and Irani Chaies.

Tankbund @ Hyderabad..
There are some uninvited realizations and lessons too. I realized that I lost a piece of the gullible me when I couldn’t trust an autowalah on face value. Especially when my suspicion proved right. I realized that I needed to be more assertive, when someone asked me to pay a price for companionship. I realized that people change and especially when you meet pals after a gap of some years my mental image of them won’t fit with what they currently are. And, I could shed some biases and prejudices that I nursed of Hyderabad, for I realized that at heart I do like the larger than life attitude of the city.

This short trip to Hyderabad proved out to be quite eventful. Indeed.

Ladies Day out…

25 11 2007

Mmm.. that was fun with my colleagues at Accenture at the Royal Orchid Doddi’s Resort in Bangalore this Saturday. They say that the journey gets most exciting when we don’t know where we are heading. I could easily relate to this during this ladies day out. We are all just a bunch of 80 gals from different projects joined together for an all day party. We played some interesting team games during the first half which included filling the pitcher, passing the hoolaloop, and making a human machine. It was interesting to watch to see the evolution of team dynamics along the event, and ofcourse being a part of the game. 😉

It was amazing fun to make pals with colleagues whom I have never met before. Fun to be absolutely careless and carefree after a tiring week with a bunch of strangers! We have played, pooled, sang and danced all day and shared some perfect moments with one another. Its not about the resort, or the facilities but more about the experience. Met some amazing people and made a couple of pals too.. After all, why should guys have all the fun? 🙂