Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A family Trip to Coorg - Part 4


Back to Part 3

Dubare


Dubare Elephant Camp

After lunch, we proceeded towards Dubare to see the Elephant Camp, located on the banks of River Cauvery, in Kushalnagar. 

To reach there, we had to go on a  boat ride through the clean water, which was really cheap (Rs.30/- per head).  It was a small ride and hardly 5 minutes only.  As soon as we reached there, the boat people approached us and we had to wait for some more people to board it. They have a requirement of 20 people to take the ride.   Sometimes it may take more than an hour to get a boat in crowded time. When we reached it was not so crowded and within minutes, more people joined there, (some of them we had already met in other tourist places there) and it was a fun ride, to reach across the elephant camp in Dubare Forest.



We saw a number of elephants there including small ones.  The elephants  were well tamed and friendly. The tourists enjoyed feeding them, watching them having their bath, and the elephants played with us, by splashing water. There were other facilities like elephant ride, jungle lodges and river rafting.









            




                                                Some juice and snacks were available here. 



Distance from Mysore - 88 kms
Distance from Bangalore - 250 kms
Distance from Kushalnagar centre - 10 kms


After spending some time in the elephant camp, we waited for the boat for our return trip. Within minutes a boat came and took us back to the spot where we had boarded the boat. 

Soon we were back in the taxi, and the driver drove us to Nisargadhama, which is a small island about 3 kms away from Kushalnagar.  I will write about it in another blog. 




Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Family Trip to Coorg - Part 3

Back to Part 2



Abby Falls

After parking the car on the road, we walked about 800 meters through a narrow path of the private plantation of coffee bushes, wild vines and creepers.  Though the path was a little slippery, both young and old alike, walked through the narrow passage with excitement to see the fall.. It was worth the visit. 





 After a few minutes walk, we could hear the sounds of the falls which became louder as we approached the spot, after passing through a lush and dense greenery. The waterfall was magnificent and flowing in full force. Any one who loves nature should not miss this marvelous and gushing water flow.  


One must walk through the hanging bridge to get a good view of the fall, which is a sight to remember. The water fall comes down from a height of 70 feet The waters join River Cauvery.  The cascading crystal clear water in the midst of emerald flora is a delight to the eyes.  





Our driver, who was a frequent visitor to this place, had warned us to watch out for leeches, and not to be in close proximity of the fence. 

Earlier it was called as Jessi Falls by the British, in the memory of the daughter of Medikere's first British Captain.

Best time to visit - July to October.
Distance from Medikere - 8 kms.
Distance from Mysore - 122 kms
Distance from Bangalore - 270 kms

There was one more fall named Iruppu Falls, which is supposed to be bigger than this, and further away, but we had no time to visit there, and we were content with Abbey Falls.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Family Trip to Coorg, India - Part 2

A Family Trip to Coorg, India - Part 1

Talacauvery

Talacauvery, the source of River Cauvery, is located about 4187 feet above sea level, situated on the Brahmagiri hill slopes. Passing through the zigzag roads on either sides, enjoying the natural beauty of coffee plantations, interspersed with pepper vines, and banana and cardamom crops, when we reached the spot mild shower welcomed us, but soon it cleared off, and became foggy. After a while the fog too disappeared.   






According to legend, saint Kavera meditated at Sahyadri hills to please God to bless him with a child.  Lord Brahma was pleased and blessed him with an adopted daughter Cauvery. The saint brought up the adopted daughter with much love and care.  Saint Agasthya, who was a frequent visitor to Kavera's ashram, fell in love with her and married her.  After some time, the saint fell in love with Kannike, whom he met secretly. Cauvery came to know about it and she went down angrily flowing taking Kannike along with her. When she came down, the force of the water was such that it pushed the pleats of the sarees of the Coorgi women who were waiting for her, from the front to the rear. It is said that since then the Coorgi women drape the sari in that way, the pleats are tucked in at the waist at the back rather than in front, as commonly seen in most part of India. (Sorry, I didn't take a photo of a Kodava woman). 





Cauvery River originates as a spring feeding the tank and the water is said to flow underground to emerge as a river. 



On the day of Thulasankramana (the first day of Tula month which usually falls on 17th or 18th of October) the water gushes up from the spring at a predetermined moment, and people throng this place to witness this wonderful phenomenon. 









There are a series of steps (about 370) leading to the top of Brahmahiri Hill, and from there one can see 360 degree view of the surrounding area. 



Distance from Bangalore to Talacauvery - 297 kms via NH 275

Distance from Mysore to Talacauvery - 160 kms.  


From there, after having a delicious Coorgi lunch in a hotel on the way, we headed to see Abby Waterfalls, which was about 48 kms away.  




Monday, August 15, 2016

A Family Trip to Coorg, India - Part 1

Nestled in the Western Ghats, amidst verdant valleys, imposing mountains and dense forests, Coorg is a great place to visit for a rejuvenating holiday.  

Recently, we had planned an outstation trip for the family.  We hired a taxi from Bangalore and headed towards Coorg, one of the best hill stations of South India.  Coorg is also called as Kodagu, and nicknamed as ‘Kashmir of South’ , ‘Switzerland of India’ and ‘Scotland of India’.  

River Cauvery (Kaveri River) is the life line of Karnataka State and Talacauvery is the birth place of this river, which is located in Coorg.  Talacauvery is  a famous pilgrimage centre for Hindus, located at the feet of Brahmagiri Hills. The main crops of Coorg are Coffee, Pepper and Cardamom.  You can also get the tastiest honey in the world in this picturesque place.


We had already booked our accommodation in a Home Stay named Chili Pili in Hoskeri village at Medikere.  After a drive of about 240 kms  we reached the Chili Pili estate, owned by  Mr. and Mrs. Dilip Ganapathy.  Fortunately, the weather was very favourable;  it was not raining during our trip and thus we had a pleasant drive. When we arrived at the Homestay, they were waiting for us with their delicious dinner.   We had booked two rooms for our family, and soon retired to the cozy rooms.   (More about the Homestay will be posted later. )


After a wonderful breakfast  in the morning in the Homestay,  we set off for our sight-seeing trip, with the directions provided by Mr. Ganapathy.   


Our first visit was to Sri Bhagadeshwara  Temple at Bhagamandala, dedicated to Lord Shiva.  The other deities in the temple are Mahavishnu, Ganapathy and  Subramanya.

The view from there was stunning. Bhagamandala is a popular tourist destination and it is the confluence of three rivers, Sujyothi, Kanike and Cauvery. The temple is named after Sage Bhaganda, who installed Shivlinga at this holy place. 









Then we headed towards  Talacauvery, the origin of River Cauvery.  It was about 5 kms from here. More about it in the next posting.




Thursday, August 4, 2016

8 Tips for Book Reading

Recently I happened to read a couple of books during my long stay in London.  Some book reading quotes are given here. 


1. If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.  
–Haruki Murakami
2. Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.
–Maya Angelou
3. A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it or offer your own version in return.
–Salman Rushdie
4. A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it.
–Edward P. Morgan
5. The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.
–W. Somerset Maugham
6. A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.
–William Styron
7. You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
–Paul Sweeney
8. Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.
  –Vera Nazarian

Friday, July 8, 2016

Trip to Barcelona, Spain

Recently I travelled to Barcelona with my family. Barcelona, the beautiful capital city of Spain, had been one of my must visit places in the list. We travelled from London to Barcelona by flight and we had already booked an accommodation in advance.

Barcelona is packed with historical buildings, parks, museums, beaches and shopping centres. Like many others, we too used a hop on hop off bus for sight seeing.


Sagrada Familia is one of the top attractions of Barcelona. It is one of Antonio Gaudi's famous works in Barcelona.  The construction of this giant Basilica was started in 1882 and still it is not completed.  Since there was a long queue for the entry to the church we didn't spend our time to see inside.
 



                                                                           


La Rambla - One of the most popular places in Barcelona which is always crowded with tourists. It is also famous for Human statues,  markets, restaurants, cafes, pigeons, various shows and other entertainments. It is also a place for starting the bus tours for sight seeing.  
                                                                       


A Cathedral - It was built in 13th century.


                                                                           


We spent sometime in the beach sitting and enjoying the palm trees, activities around, and the azure waters.

















La Pedrera is another great work of Gaudi. After visiting the place we did a bit of shopping too there.

Another place we visited was one of the sea ports.  We also enjoyed the famous Spanish food Paelle and Tapas.







Friday, June 10, 2016

Tips on Writing from 5 Famous Writers


1. “Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”
-             Anais Nin

2. “As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.”
     -         Ernest Hemingway


3. “Talented writing makes things happen in the reader’s mind — vividly, forcefully — that good writing, which stops with clarity and logic, doesn’t.”
    -      Samuel Delaney


4. “Short stories demand a certain awareness of one’s own intentions, a certain narrowing of the focus.”
-            Joan Didion

     
    5.   All creative art is magic, is evocation of the unseen in forms persuasive, enlightening, familiar and surprising, for the edification of mankind.”
        - Joseph Conrad

Monday, June 6, 2016

Interview with Falguni Kothari author of My Last Love Story

About the Book:






Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s, Me Before You, My Last Love Story is a heartbreakingly romantic tale about the complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong.


I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.

Love is meant to heal wounds.

Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin.

Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul. 

I love my husband, and he loves me.

But Nirvaan is dying.

I love my husband. I want to make him happy.

But he is asking for the impossible. 



I don’t want a baby.

I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan.

I don’t want another chance at another love story. 




Book Links:





Interview


1. When did you realize that there is a writer in you?
In 2010, when my mother forced me to “do something with my brain” and I stumbled across some creative writing workshops while looking at online college lit classes.

2. What books have most influenced your life?
I wouldn’t say influenced my life, but these books have definitely influenced my brain: Pride and Prejudice, The God Delusion, The Mahabharata, The Great Transformation, Julius Caesar and many more.

3. How do you develop your plots and characters?
I develop my characters first, as they come to me first. Then, the plot organically emerges around them.

4. How did you come up with the title of this book?
My working title for this story was Love Undeniable. Heart Unreliable. For about 60% of my first draft, this title was stuck in my head. I thought it held a nice ring of truth to it. But then I wrote a scene between Simeen and Nirvaan in which she tells him that he was her last love story. It was like an epiphany.

5. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
There are plenty of messages in MLLS—about letting love into your life; about letting go of prejudices; about relationships; and about forgiveness.

6. How much of the book is realistic?
I hope the whole book is realistic. But if you mean what parts are taken from real experiences, I’d say about 40% of the book. I have known cancer patients. I know women going through IVF. I know about disease and death and what a family goes through to take care of a terminal patient. I’ve seen and/ or experienced many of the events that happen in the book.

7. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The progression of Nirvaan’s cancer.

8. What do you love the most about writing process?
The writing itself. The creating of new characters, different personalities, unusual settings and worlds.

9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I loved writing. I used to hate it in school and college. I thought writing was the most tedious and painful thing ever. I was good at writing, mind you. It’s just that I found it restrictive back then.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Read lots of different books. Recommend the books you have enjoyed to your friends. And leave reviews, please. It helps.




Read an Excerpt:



Dear Readers, thank you for coming along on the My Last Love Story Blog Tour. Here’s an excerpt to enjoy.



ONE


“Love is a dish best served naked.”


As a child, those oft-quoted words of my father would have me rolling my eyes and pretending to gag at what I’d imagined was my parents’ precursor to a certain physical act. 


At thirty, I’d long ago realized that getting naked wasn’t a euphemism for sex. 


Neither was love.


It wasn’t my father wording the meme just now but my husband. Nirvaan considered himself a great wit, a New Age philosopher. On the best of days, he was, much like Daddy had been. On the worst days, he was my tormentor. 


“What do you think, Dr. Archer? Interesting enough tagline for a vlog? What about ‘Baby in a Petri Dish’?” Nirvaan persisted in eliciting a response from the doctor and/or me for his ad hoc comedy, which we’d been ignoring for several minutes now.


I wanted to glare at him, beg him to shut up, or demand that he wait in the doctor’s office like he should’ve done, like a normal husband would have. Khodai knows why he’d insisted on holding my hand through this preliminary checkup. Nothing of import would happen today—if it did at all. But I couldn’t perform any such communication, not with my eyes and mouth squeezed shut while I suffered through a series of uncomfortable twinges along my nether regions. 


I lay flat on my back on a spongy clinic bed sheeted with paper already wrinkled and half torn. Legs drawn up and spread apart, my heels dug punishingly into cold iron stirrups to allow my gynecologist’s clever fingers to reach inside my womb and check if everything was A-OK in there. We’d already funneled through the Pap test and stomach and chest checks. Like them, this test, too, was going swell in light of Dr. Archer’s approving happy hums. 


“Excellent, Mrs. Desai. All parts are where they should be,” he joked only as a doctor could.


I shuddered out the breath I’d been holding, as the feeling of being stretched left my body. Nirvaan squeezed my hand and planted a smacking kiss on my forehead. I opened my eyes and focused on his beaming upside-down ones. His eyelids barely grew lashes anymore—I’d counted twenty-seven in total just last week—the effect of years of chemotherapy. For a second, my gaze blurred, my heart wavered, and I almost cried. 


What are we doing, Nirvaan? What in Khodai’s name were we starting?


Nirvaan stroked my hair, his pitch-black pupils steady and knowing and oh-so stubborn. Then, his face rose to the stark white ceiling, and all I saw was the green-and-blue mesh of his gingham shirt—the overlapping threads, the crisscross weaves, a pattern without end. 


Life is what you make it, child. It was another one of my father’s truisms.


Swallowing the questions twirling on my tongue, I refocused my mind on why we were here. I’d promised Nirvaan we’d try for a baby if he agreed to another round of cancer-blasting treatments. I’d bartered for a few more months of my husband’s life. He’d bartered for immortality through our child.


Dr. Archer rolled away from between my legs to the computer station. He snapped off and disposed of the latex gloves. Then, he began typing notes in near-soundless staccato clicks. Though the examination was finished, I knew better than to sit up until he gave me leave. I’d been here before, done this before—two years ago when Nirvaan had been in remission and the idea of having a baby had wormed its way into his head. We’d tried the most basic procedures then, whatever our medical coverage had allowed. We hadn’t been desperate yet to use our own money, which we shouldn’t be touching even now. We needed every penny we had for emergencies and alternative treatments, but try budging my husband once he’d made up his mind.


“I’m a businessman, Simi. I only pour money into a sure thing,” he rebuked when I argued.


I brought my legs together, manufacturing what poise and modesty I could, and pulled the sea-green hospital gown bunched beneath my bottom across my half-naked body. I refused to look at my husband as I wriggled about, positive his expression would be pregnant with irony, if not fully smirking. And kudos to him for not jumping in to help me like I would have. 


The tables had turned on us today. For the past five years, it’d been Nirvaan thrashing about on hospital beds, trying in vain to find relief and comfort, modesty or release. Nirvaan had been poked, prodded, sliced, and bled as he battled aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I’d been the stoic spectator, the supportive wife, the incompetent nurse, the ineffectual lover. 


And now? What role would I play now?


As always, thinking about our life left me feeling even more naked than I was in the open-fronted robe. I turned my face to the wall, my eyes stinging, as fear and frustration bubbled to the surface. Flesh-toned posters of laughing babies, pregnant mothers, and love-struck fathers hung from the bluish walls. Side by side were the more educative ones of human anatomy, vivisected and whole. The test-tube-like exam room of Monterey Bay Fertility Clinic was decorated in true California beach colors—sea-foam walls, sandy floors, pearl-pink curtains, and furniture—bringing the outdoors in. If the decor was meant to be homey, it wasn’t having such an effect on me. This room, like this town and even this country, was not my natural habitat, and I felt out of my element in it. 


I’d lived in California for seven years now, ever since my marriage, and I still didn’t think of it as home, not like Nirvaan did. Home for me was India. And no matter the dark memories it held, home would always be Surat.


“All done.” Dr. Archer pushed the computer trolley away and stood up. “You can get dressed, Mrs. Desai. Take your time. Use whatever supplies you need. We’ll wait for you in my office,” he said, smiling. 


Finally, I can cover myself, I thought. Gooseflesh had erupted across my skin due to the near frigid clinic temperatures doctors tortured their patients with—like a patient didn’t have enough to suffer already. Medical facilities maintained cool indoor temperatures to deter inveterate germs from contaminating the premises and so its vast flotilla of equipment didn’t fry. I knew that. But knowing it still didn’t inspire any warm feelings in me for the “throng of professional sadists with a god complex.” I quoted my husband there. 


Nirvaan captured my attention with a pat on my head. “See you soon, baby,” he said, following the doctor out of the room. 


I scooted off the bed as soon as the door shut behind them. My hair tumbled down my face and shoulders at my jerky movements. I smoothed it back with shaking hands. Long, wavy, and a deep chestnut shade, my hair was my crowning glory, my one and only feature that was lush and arresting. Nirvaan loved my hair. I wasn’t to cut it or even braid it in his presence, and so it often got hopelessly knotted. 


I shrugged off the clinic gown, balled it up, and placed it on the bed. I wiped myself again and again with antiseptic wipes, baby wipes, and paper towels until the tissues came away stain-free. I didn’t feel light-headed. I didn’t allow myself to freak. I concentrated on the flow of my breaths and the pounding of my heart until they both slowed to normal. 


It was okay. I was not walking out with a gift-wrapped baby in tow. Not today. No reason to freak out.


I reached for my clothes and slipped on my underwear. They were beige with tiny white hearts on them—Victoria’s Secret lingerie Nirvaan had leered and whistled at this morning. 


Such a silly man. Typical Nirvaan, I corrected, twisting my lips. 


Even after dressing in red-wash jeans and a full-sleeved sweater, I shivered. My womb still felt invaded and odd. As I stepped into my red patent leather pumps, an unused Petri dish sitting on the workstation countertop caught my eye. 


The trigger for Nirvaan’s impromptu comedy, perhaps? 


Despite major misgivings about the Hitleresque direction my life had taken, humor got the better of me, and I grinned. 


Silly, silly Nirvaan. Baby in a Petri dish, indeed.





About the Author:










Falguni Kothari is an internationally bestselling hybrid author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. When not writing or dancing, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with her readers. My Last Love Story is her fourth novel.



















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