Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wayanad – piece of heaven on earth


Steam coming off the streets after rain

Work has been very hectic, especially for my husband. After working on Diwali day, we decided to go away for couple of days. We initially planned for Ooty but on our way, we got to know that Ooty has heavy rainfall now..so on the go we changed to Wayanad. Stopped over in Mysore; met my grandparents, took my grandpa too with us. The drive from Mysore to Wayanad is a small drive of about 3 hours. By the way, Wayanad is a hilly small town in Kerala. Only in recent years it has been a tourist space because of Mysorians I guess! Mind you, there is a forest in between Mysore and Wayanad which has to be crossed before 6pm after which the forest department closes the entry gate until 6am. This is to not disturb the wildlife that crosses around. We made it well before 6 into Wayanad. So we drove to a Karapuzha Dam. The speciality of this Dam is that it is the biggest MUD dam in Asia. The whole dam, except the spill way is built in soil. It was very serene.

We halted in Sulthan Bathery as it is kind of the heart of the town. Next morning, we started off with a list of places to see from the pamphlet we bought. We started with the GanapathivattomTemple – Lord Ganesha Temple in Sulthan Bathery. Ganapathivattom was the original name of this place after which it got the current name Sulthan Bathery, when Tipu Sultan conquered this place! Then we drove to Edakkal Caves. These caves depict the pre-historic heritage of Wayanad. The cave was formed in the crevice of a broken rock and another massive rock. The carvings on its walls display the cultural practices of the Neolithic age.

Queen
We drove to the location which is very steep. We decided to walk up the 1km distance instead of the jeeps that go to and fro. I must say the way up to the caves is very very steep to climb and to get down. We stopped every few meters and continued. There is a small cave at the base above which the large cave rests and holds the stone-age carvings. There are at least some 50 or more steps that we have to climb up to finally reach the cave. We stopped mid way to look around and it was just gorgeous…thick dense forest till the horizon. It was like a scene from the Jurassic park! Finally when we reached at the entrance of the cave, we had to get down another 15 steps. All these steps are made now with strong metal pipes & stone steps. The cave has light coming in from the top…and at the start you see the carvings. There are numerous carvings of the King, a child, a Queen, wheels etc..showing life in those times. There is a rock with scripting that reads as “we killed tigers here to live in this cave”
The King, a child face
They are very detailed and clear carvings. And totally worth all that hiking up to the cave. From this height, we could also see the famous Phantom rock – A human shaped rock. Wayanad has lots of waterfalls, one of the famous ones is the Meenmutty Falls. We did drive to this place and walk down the fields of coffee and tea plantations..but half-way through we learnt that the falls are another 1km down the hill and we had our grandpa walking with us with great difficulty. So after almost a km of walk we decided to go back. But our mood got all adventurous when we accidentally saw one large spider and we got the bug of photography. We were clicking this once spider and we noticed there was another larger one next to it..and the awe and excitement went adding as we found 4-5 large spider, all very beautiful but still scary. I tested one of the web strings and it was really strong like a nylon string; pretty strong spiders and moved on before it gets scary like the Hollywood movies and once of us turns into a Spiderman! I would like to be called Spiderwoman if I did! But yeah we got gorgeous pictures – good enough for those Animal Plant geeks!
View from the Eddakal Caves
Next  we decided to see is the Banasura Sagar Dam. The drive to this dam was just scenic..with beautiful dense Tea plantation, low lying clouds..just showered wet roads. The place is just full of plantations estates of coffee, tea, black pepper and Bettel nut! The betel nut palms are so tall and straight..wow! Unbelievable and beautiful! The roads in the whole city are pretty good with some potholes sometimes, should be from this year’s monsoon.
Spider 1
Spider 2
Spider 3
Tea Plantations
Banasura Sagar Dam is India’s largest earth Dam. It is quite commercialized now since my husband visited it almost 6 years ago when there were no boating services then!
Beautiful landscape of Tea estate
I have to mention the people of Kerala was very nice..if not to generalize for Kerala, people of Wayanad. They are very warm and welcoming; very helpful in directing places. Unlike my experiences in Tamilnadu, here people speak Hindi very well; English - almost everybody does. I could sense my geography lessons from school all through my trip – Kerala is the state with highest literacy rate! Very well proved! Moreover they seem very hard working people. Typically I have seen Kannadiga men in Mysore and Bangalore who gather up in groups or 5-20 and gossip, which I find very weird. But Wayanad people always look busy, working, doing an activity. Another peculiarity of the place is that they always serve hot water in all the restaurants. Wayanad has a cold weather and hence they always drink warm water. The water also is rose pink in color. What I thought was potassium, turned out to be some Ayurvedic  wooden bark that is boiled with the water giving it that color and the strength to people to fight cold weather illness. And you can’t miss the traditional attire of the men here. They all wear the white pancha or colored lungi…these are kinda wrap-around skirt things that men wear. Men in my family also wear these but not on the streets. Wayanad people wear lungi’s as their official attire...The elegent ones are those white ones, let down all the way to the feet; the weird looking ones are those folded up to the waist & really crazy colors.
Gorgeous
The last spot we visited was Pookkode Lake. Beautifully set lake between mountains. It’s like a scene from the movies. We did boating for some 20mins..I am sure they’ve shot numerous bollywood movies here…if they haven’t it is an option for Ooty.

Tender Tea leaves - Remember the Lipton Tea commercial

Chembra Peak

Pookkode Lake
We started at 5 pm from the lake for Mysore and my husband forgot about the 6pm limit of the forest gates. We reached the Gate at 6.15 and the officials had already closed the gates. We had another car behind us. We went to the forest officials. The guy was kind and quick enough to let us go on a condition that when we reach the other end, we tell the officials that we’d crossed the gates before 6pm J. We had already thought we had to go back to Sulthan Bathery and spend another night. So we quickly made a move after giving our information to the officer. It was getting dark so quickly. We started off and in 10 mins it was pitch dark. We were quite scared especially my husband who was driving. In his head he was thinking what would happen if we have an elephant charging at us from the front. I have to admit the drive was scary…in the dark we could see twinkling eyes…and the first I saw a bunch of those yellow sparkling eyes..my mind thought of all animals like tigers, lions, hyena, foxes blah blah…to our relief those were a pack of spotted deers that we’d seen just few minutes ago before we entered the jungle. And then we drove past a Bison who was busy eating grub and not disturbed by our car lights. We had a little fox run across and then what seemed like an Owl that flew right above our hood. I guess it wasn’t very happy with the car lights. Pack of deers every few meters was always scary. It took us exactly 30 mins to reach the other end. All through the route we did see villagers walking in groups which made me wonder how cool are they about wildlife crossing! The dark ride still scares us a lot and we were glad we reached the other end without any wild event! You have to respect the nature.
Banasura Sagar Dam
Except for this one major mistake, we had a great trip to Wayanad and next time we go there we’d cover the waterfalls and make sure we have no oldies with us. J Enjoy the pictures of beautiful serene Wayanad.

Piracy!

Check out this phone I saw. The phone owner said “it’s from China market” The pictures will probably explain what is China market J
It’s a Suny Ericssom phone not a ‘Sony Ericsson’! And it’s designed by ‘Apole’ from California and assembled in China! I really wonder if the Model displayed on the back is true or just some gibberish typed by a kid playing on the computer. Now I know why Steve Jobs was so bitter about his idea being stolen by others!
And in my husband’s opinion (ex-iPhone user) this fake phone was much better than the original iPhone because the touch on this fake phone was not very sensitive. In the sense, I had to really press hard for the screen to sense my finger touch! My husband said iPhone technology is too touch sensitive that sometimes the phone might automatically make a call just by a mistaken brush of your finger! Ouch! I know that hurts Steve!
Even more painful is the price! As against the original iPhone price that starts from 35k/- ($800) this fake one with exactly the same look and functionality costs only 3k/- ($70). Did Apple forget to copyright or patent their technology? May be an iMade patent?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Diwali

When most of the companies have a holiday today for Diwali, we had a regular work day. Even though most of the people are already on vacation we had a decent amount of employees at work. I did last minute shopping for the Laxmi Pooja ceremony. Got earthen lamps for the first time. As I write I realize that this actually my FIRST Diwali in India after my marriage in May 2007...hmmm! Time flies really fast! Its definitely not as exciting as it used to be before...mainly because we have so much work and our parents are in other states, so there is no family get togethers.

I shall get busy making some Diwali snacks to share some with my new team mates...after filing almost 100 defect in 3 days...I have to be nice to them now J
My little earthen lamps
Here's wishing you all a wonderful Diwali with family and close friends. May the festival bring joy, love and prosperity to all.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Indian good vs Foreign goods

I got a mail forward speaking of how the Indian economy is in danger.
Before 12 months 1USD = INR 39
After 12 months, now 1USD = INR 50
It talks about how the Indian market is losing to western products; profits of the western products being sent abroad. And then a list of Indian products that we should use daily to beat the western ones. As I started to read the examples…I was feeling bad that yeah, we don’t use more Indian products or the fact that we don’t even know which products are Indian. But when I started thinking of the quality of the Indian products listed, I thought that the Indian products are nowhere close to their competitor and hence they can’t keep up. Simplest example said,
MILK POWDER:-
USE  INDIANA, AMUL, AMULYA
INSTEAD OF  ANIKSPRAY, MILKANA, EVERYDAY MILK, MILKMAID.
From my very recent experience, Amulya milk powder sucks. It was a waste of money coz it never made good consistent milk. I would be left with chunks of milk power which I had to filter out, they just wouldn’t dissolve. Try Everyday milk – no complains!
MOBILE CONNECTIONS:-
USE BSNL, AIRTEL
INSTEAD OF HUTCH
Don’t even get me started on BSNL. Last time I relocated within 2 streets in Mysore, the BSNL guys were beyond reluctant to even relocate our phone connection. With a full-fledged residential crowd around us, they made excuses of saying “we’ll have to see if we’ve got coverage in your area”. I was like “Dude, I see the BSNL phone box from the previous tenant in this house!!” For the laziness of the govt. organizations, we can’t complain of private/foreign competitors. In fact I think it is another scam where govt. offices make some commission letting the Private companies to flourish.
And there were a bunch of other comparisons like no western cold drinks, toothpastes, toothbrush, soaps, food like KFC, McD, Pizza Hut. Frankly, how is the govt. trying to develop pure Indian products that meet the need and quality of the common man? There is REASON why the western products do well. Indian market has never known the concept of ‘Customer is god’ or ‘Customer Satisfaction’ or ‘Customer Delight’ or ‘Quality product’!
Everyone wants to be patriotic; but to save the economy, asking citizens to use products that don’t meet the needs and quality is meaningless, in my opinion.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pet Adoption

Mamma's got a funny tail to play with
How much thought should I really put when adopting a cat? There is an outdoor cat in my building that gave birth to two kittens 3 weeks ago. Since then I have had this desperation to get one home. Of course I did a lot of thinking. When I lived in the US, I used to see cats sitting in apartment windows. Cats there are more like indoor pets. Some do go out..those I believe live on the ground floor or have a yard. By the way, the cats there are just gorgeous, they are so much more furry, of course to help them with the cold weather, but still they look just beautiful all puffy with thick furJ.
So curious of the new surrounding
Needless to say Americans treat their pets no less than their kids. The food, the medication & vaccines and all the love and care is just like their own child. I live on the third floor and I have two balconies. So I will have to baby proof one of them so the cat is safe at this height. Since she will live on the third floor there is no way she can be an outdoor cat. So I will have to arrange the litter box for her, some toys and food. I looked for all these things and they are available here in Bangalore. Vaccinations can be done at a vet.


Two is company...playing tag!
But I still have so many apprehensions about really getting the kitten. I am not completely settled in Bangalore. We travel on trips once a month or two on the weekends. What if I get relocated to another place and I have to let go the catL. My mind doesn’t agree to use the pet for a while and put it away at a later point. After all, it is a living soul that will bring me joy and have an attachment with me. I can’t use it like a toy. If only I was 100% sure of my location I would totally get the cat.


It sounds like ‘I am putting too much thought to this..it’s just a cat’, but no..I can’t bring the pet for a while, it has to be for a lifetime. Arrgh! So confused!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I feel goooood!

Today, exactly after a year I feel lively with my job. Being a software tester, probably last year this time I filed my last defect! After getting bored and feeling out of place at my previous job, today at the new workplace I tested my application and found about 35 defects! Whattaa day!
I feel sooo gooood! I feel like I am serving my purpose again….of finding defects in a software! J I am almost high with today’s work; all kinds of silly jokes are coming to my mind…the crappy commercial of Saif Ali khan…  “Have I made it large” LOL So funny!
I know my new team of developers is going to hate me…hate me …hate me!!! However, my team of developers is awesome. But I just thought of this; whenever a product is released, what do people say ‘The software they developed is so cool’ or ‘Apple has developed this awesome application’. You see, no one ever thinks of all the infinite tests that are performed before a product is launched.  
I am one of those little hidden angel that makes my developers look cool! J AWESOME day!!!!!! Good night friends!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Change is essential

I haven’t got much chance to visit my blog and post recently. I just changed my workplace. I know I hopped too quickly between companies in this single year. But this one is a keeper! I think unless I do something to help myself, nothing is going to happen. If the company is not helping you to build your career its good time to think of moving on. I was sick of being idle, surrounded by colleagues that come to spend 9 hours at work to chit-chat & giggle and bad management!
But the cost of this change is no internet..as in no blogging at all. And am I glad I have so much work to keep me busy that I can’t think of my blog or articles to post! I like my new work place and people but most importantly work. It really matters to enjoy your work, to get that satisfaction of doing something and achieving something at the end of day; money is secondary.
As my ex-manager told me that bad experiences also teach us things, I have learnt some important things about management both work and people. It is really very easy to learn from other’s bad actions and decisions. But I am going to try to keep up with my blog in coming days.. Good night! A full work week awaits tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hobbies to relax

Sunday rainy evening ...nothing to do going out in the wet weather...got a sudden rush to go back to my hobby of painting...wished to color something quickly than sit and sketch for long....Tulips!!! Quick and beautiful to color! Lots of opportunity to mix and blend colors and give shades! Very satisfying night! J
Tulip festival memories from Seattle :)


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Relativity....

I have moved into Bangalore for a while now. Working and managing the house is difficult. In the US, vacuuming the house once in 2 weeks was more than enough. In India, sweeping & wiping the floor is required on a daily basis due to the amount of dust! I hired a new maid for utensils & cleaning the floor. I have a washing machine ….phew! What a relief!


A muslim woman, Salma was to join but she got her sister-in-law Reshma instead. Each of them has 3 kids; this I got to know on different occasions of casual chat. I was put to think. These women obviously don’t come from well to do families. The govt. has been encouraging 1 child since a decade now to control the exploding Indian population.
And here we have a community that multiplies even today like olden times. Of course we can’t point it out. It could be seen as a religious difference. Population control should come within to every Indian considering how will their child have a better future.
Now these 2 women have 6 kids…these will in turn multiply to 18…that is a lot! And the biggest concern in my mind is what will be the future for the 6 children they have now. The little ones go to school now, but obviously they won’t be able to support their higher education or even high school.
I forgot to mention my maid’s husband is bed-ridden due to an accident, that is why she is working in houses or her husband would have never let her work. L
 I watched the new show TerraNova on Star World yesterday. It’s a Steven Spielberg TV show so I want to really follow from day 1. It’s a futuristic show from 22nd century set in some 2147 year. I’ll just share the gist of the first show. Our planet earth is unfit to live now. They use a ‘re-breather’ to live a healthy life else the polluted atmospheric air deteriorates their health. The atmosphere is dark and brown & dusty with no sunshine or greenery. The lifestyle in future is too systematic. It’s a world of Steve Jobs really! Everything is electronic and touch & magnetic & totally automatic! The system is run on very strict rules. The show starts with one of the basic rules – A Family can have a maximum of TWO children. Any more than two is a VIOLATION and is strictly punished. The main family in focus breaks this law and has a third child resulting in the husband being jailed. In the meantime the scientists and govt together have build a system that takes us back to the past in the dinosaur age like a time travel thing, where there is lots of sunlight and lots of oxygen. The basic plot is that humans have exhausted Earth to such an extent that it’s not a habitat that supports life or growth and the answer to our future existence is in the past now. And we try to use this second chance to not repeat our mistakes like wars, pollution, etc.
The reference of this show to my above discussion is pretty obvious, the rule per family to multiply. Though it seems unrealistic to make it a law, looking at the Indian population such rules might become a reality in the future, may be even before 2147!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sunset today


Somehow, sunsets are the best objects to click! Loved the sharp curve of the Sun today...and in seconds it was gone!


Happy Dasara

Welcome
It’s the 10th day after Navaratri celebrating Vijayadashmi also called Dasara. Leaving aside the mythological meaning of end of the demon and evil…blah blah… I vividly remember how we celebrated this day in my childhood.
It’s the day you wash your automobile. J Back then, each one of us in the society would have a cycle…a bicycle! We’d wash them like whose cycle is the cleanest…wash and scrub all the corners….the little bell, the handle, spokes and the metal rim of the wheels. Now if I think, there isn’t really much to wash in a cycle. But as a child, it’s your Kawasaki or Harley Davidson or a red sports car!
It would be more like a group event with all the kids washing their cycles! And later around 11am my mom would bring the plate with a oil lamp & incent sticks & the holy colored powders..we’d worship the cycle as a gesture of THANK YOU. And not just bicycles. We’d wash my dad’s scooter too. Every vehicle in the parking lot, on the streets, in the city would have marigold garland. J We’d have a garland of mango leaves at the entrance of the door. Indian traditions!
Worshipped all of them. Thank you Technology :)
We were taught to worship inanimate things like a vehicle! It’s a gesture of gratitude towards things that help you in your life. My mom would keep a book from me & my brother as a gesture of worship to Goddess Saraswati – Goddess of Knowledge & wisdom.
Today, I for almost the first time did all of these activities. I worshipped my Gas stove, TV, washing machine, fridge, Car & our bike. I was thinking as the technology increases we should be thankful to so many appliances say phone, microwave, blender etc. Right?
It’s my inner feeling of success when I worshipped to all these objects. I know it’s all material success and it’s no measure of an individual’s growth as a person. But still it makes us happy and peaceful to see how we’ve managed to grow up decently. When I washed my cycle, I probably didn’t care as much as I do today when I wash my car or clean my TV. There is a sense of responsibility. They represent little milestones in our journey. It’s always a big thing to have your first car or TV or a washing machine! There is certain belongingness….for now!
Happy Dasara to all J.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Glimpse of my photography

It has been one pouring rainy weekend in Bangalore. I managed to quickly capture a wonderful sunset on friday evening, just before heading out! Gorgeous eh! J

Bombe Habba – The Doll Festival



Dolls depicting story of Lord Rama
The 9 days festival of Navratri is on. The 10th day will be the Daseera festival. During these 9 days is a festive season with food, colorful dresses, festive celebrations with musicals, dances shows etc. Mysore has a 10 day festival with public shows, elephant parades on the last day. People visit Mysore just to attend the 10-day festival. Though I am born in Mysore, I have never seen the actual festival. Simply because I never lived there through my childhood; and through the past two years I have been away during this time of the year. Each of the 9 days hold significance in the Indian mythology. During this time, people celebrate Golu or Bombe Habba by arranging various dolls depicting the culture of old India, the people from agricultural background, the kings and queens, dolls of various gods and goddesses.

Dolls depicting lifestyle, gods, art and culture
We were invited by my husband’s colleague for the Doll festival; quite unusual with a lunch invite. After the festive meal we went into their bungalow. The entire ground floor was filled with numerous doll so many that I think they would have a bedroom just to store these dolls. And what an amazing collection of dolls! They are a join family and have dolls from generations; clay and mud ones, wooden, metal, all kinds! And even to this date they add a set of doll each year to their collection.
Full stage of dolls
Like this year they ordered to make a set of 10 pieces depicting the life of Lord Rama. I had so much fun watching through all the dolls. They were like a museum of dolls! All well preserved and maintained!
And the mood was amazing; what a beautiful festival of inviting friends to come over and see the doll collection. And the whole family celebrates it; a different scene to see a joint family celebrate the festival so collectively and sharing the same hobby.