Friday, June 30, 2006
Wherever they moved he would always been an arms throw away. She was rounding a corner when they bumped into each other. He unabashedly winked at her with a delighted smile plastered across his face. What a smile it was, masculine yet enriched with warmth. She would steal a glance whenever she sensed he wasn't looking and so far she hadn't been caught.
She frantically albeit discreetly searched for him in the crowd, when she realised he was missing. Minutes later she sensed someone watching her from her right, ah the rogue was standing right next to her!
The formalities had them moving about. She was seated across the hall and he was walking about staring straight at her. She observed with lowered eyes his brazen gazing. As soon as he looked away, she glanced up to look at him.
Ah the rogue had mastered the game of stolen glances, he turned and cheekily smiled, having finally caught her looking. Surprised she smiled back blushing at having been caught.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
IMG_3052kukkeHosted on Zooomr
Driving through the forest definitely has to be a favourite what with forests and rivers on one side and mountains on the other. The mountains are called the Kumara Parvatha. There is no path or roads leading to the mountain.
Though it appears that there is only one mountain from a distance, in fact there are three mountains namely Sesha Parvatha, Siddha Parvatha and Kumara Parvatha.
Midway through the road the driver asked if we'd like to visit this small temple in the middle of the forest. So we said ok and that's how we landed in the land of the monkeys and bells.
It was a very Ganesh small temple in the middle of nowhere. Ganesh was happily siting under a tree where rows of bells of all sizes and sounds decorated the place. As you can imagine I got excited and was happily playing with each bell, to hear each sound. A family in front of me did roll their eyes but hey I was having fun ;p
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I had already spotted the monkey troupe when we first walked in and was wondering how to get their photos. These weren't the lazy demanding buggers you find at BatuCaves, KL, they were quite unused to human contact. Anyway I got mom n her friend to hand out the bananas n coconut we had collected before that.
Ah the sight of yellow sure excites them, but they do move to fast as you can see in the photos. They'd more so fast, I couldn't focus my cam in time, hence some blurry shots. They were a bit scared of my shiny camera. It was so cute to see them hanging by the wall where the pipe was located. Reminded me of boys hanging over walls ;p
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I was really eyeing this mother and her newborn baby. She kept eluding my shots moving away whenever I went close. So this shot was a very lucky one. She had turned away and I caught it in time.
They did pose for me occasionally. The selfish gluttonous fella, the one with the attitude or this bunch who were waiting to spring!
This cute calf was circling me from the moment it saw us, it kept following me around, unfortunately I wasn't the one with the bananas and the selfish fella around the bananas ran out so fast! It was really fun watching their antics.
We finally left the monkeys to torture the pipe and went on to Kukke. We stopped by this tea shop so the driver could have his chaaya in the middle of the forest. Yep theres a tea stall there next to a house. It must be eerie at night. Some kids were playing outside.
Just as we reached Kukke we stopped at this really tall temple, inside was this really huge 18 ft tall Ganesha. He was so gorgeous. You can see him from the road itself so as you can imagine I grabbed my cam to get a shot. That very second the electricity got cut and it was too dark to get a shot of the ganesha. I kid you not, someone definitely didn't want to be photographed.
Kukke Subramanya is supposed to be one of Seven Muktistala pilgrimage sites of Karnataka. Its quite a huge temple. There's a huge covered cortyard just before entering the temple. No photos as the sun had just set. We were lucky to see the pooja there. The presiding deity is Subrahmanya but you'll also find Narasimha on one side and the Kukkelingas on the other. There's a small swing in front of the Narasimha sanctuary and in the evenings they do the oonjal prayers. We only watched from far as we had planned to leave the place asap to head to Kasargod and it was quite crowded.
Driving to get to the temple was definitely interesting. The roads are flanked by wild trees, pepper and coffee plantations and wild bamboo's. So go there once just for the view ;)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Palichi! Palichi! Dhamathundhu istaruu
aachiryamadhan kidhununu unna pakkasollo
yimma osarathla keera, vaanathu mela keera oru vairamaari minniginu
Palichi! Palichi! Dhamathundhu istaruu
Anyone can guess what this is? Got this as an sms ;p Answer in comment section
ps : another post below
What a game it was - funnily second half Brazil looked as if they were lazing around - the goal Cafu tried for just reflected the mood - everyone wanted a goal. Ghana are attacking wise was a wonderful team but tactically they were crap. Why were the staring at the goal being scored on a nearly empty section? The goalkeeper just stood there and watched.
The other fun part of the game was the watching part. Mom was on the phone when the daughter decided she should be screaming away at the tv. Well that got mom excited and when Ronaldo scored the first goal I wasn't the only one cheering!
Ps : bear with me there is something about football in the 50s
Actually everyone watches footie at home, the grandma the grandkid, could tell you stories! Its just mom stopped watching now as she only likes games with lots of goals ;p
Mom decided she liked the yellow team, coz she agreed they did look like they were dancing and was totally impressed by Dida. Kingston too got props coz if not for him we would have had more goals. Seeing Dida scramble for the ball, we both chuckled as mom commented poor the whites (ghana) , they'll never be able to go against that fella.
Anyway in between me updating about this years game, we had an argument on the footballers at home. See I'm the very proud daughter of a ex club footballer and pinpoint that all the time. So I was going appa (dad) stopped playing coz of injury, when mom goes no my appa and I go no my appa. After half a minute of my appa's from both of us we agreed we were both right! Heheh
Here's the thing I always knew my dad played football (for indian clubs) but never knew my grandpa did. He was always the policeman before the independence! So I was quite surprised with the information, something I never remember mom talking about.
It seems grandpa played footie till he was injured and then began to coach. Their team was well known in the 50s. They were the teams who played at the field near the Selangor Turf Club or the Merdeka Stadium (info's kinda vague but I just need to blog it asap). It seems my grandpa coached the team to victory, but mom can't recall the name of the tournament nor the team name. She was only around 8 then and used to follow her dad to watch the games with her 2 older brothers. While they walk she got to ride on the bike to the field. This was before FAM days and the tournament was in Selangor and an open one for all football clubs in the 50s.
The thing is grandpa knew Tunku (our first prime minister) well coz of his policeman and football days. That I've always known. Mom has never stopped telling us of how she used to get rides in Tunku's car and how Tunku always acknowledged her dad. Yeah mom has stories ;)
Anyway I'd like to find out more about these teams. The teams that played before the state games were famous. Been googling but haven't got anything interesting but a photo of Tunku on the pitch.
These men played football for the passion and that definitely rubbed to me (see football is in my genes ;p). I used to curse the fact that womens football had never taken flight in my schooldays. The training ground near the Merdeka Stadium no longer exists, as development took over. So if anyone has any information would like to know.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Looks like I've been crisscrosing across Kerala and Karnataka so now we're back to the land of the Kuchipudi. We left Manglore after this incredible lunch where the food was Oh my god spicy! Food to me is not good if its not spicy ;p
We were heading to Dharmasthala.
Right before reaching the Dharmasthala town, you pass this colourful building. Its actually a temple with every single deity you could think off. A new temple plus right opposite the place you'll see an ashram being built.
The Sri Rama kshetra is privately owned but open to the public and is fully tiled in marbles. The idols are also made of marbles and they aren't small and the ceilings have exqisite carvings. Its quite beautiful inside, colourful on the outside, pretty in white on the inside. Plus a very cooling place to just sit down and relax and oh its got 2 floors. But it has a gallery feel to it, a place you go to ooh and aah and have only your sense of sight fed. I can't seem to find any info on the place though.
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The Dharmasthala town looks pretty different from the rest of towns I've been to in India. The roads were wide, it was clean, buildings were far apart. There was quite a number of colleges and now I find out musuems with antique cars. If i had known I'd have gone visitng!
We headed up the Ratnagiri Hill first to see the 39 ft monolith of Bahubali the Jain saint.
"Bahubali defeated his elder brother who was puffed up with pride, but at that very moment understood his life's aim. He gave back the kingdom to his defeated brother and went away to meditate on God. He enriched the lives of his fellowmen with the light he received."
It was blazing hot around 3 in the afternoon, so walking towards the statue proved to be a hot task. I have no idea why we took of our footwear, but we did and we were going ouch. Its a really huge statue and the time we were there the sun was right behind it with clouds for company. As you can see its a beautiful view.
Wherelese when you turned it was pretty blue skies ;) I like how the flagstaff looks, I'm not sure what idol is at the top but against the shadows it looks gorgeous. As you can see I had fun taking photos.
We got down back to head to the temple. Seeing a crowd in front of the place, we inquired only to find out the place wouldn't open till 7/6 (can't remember now) and it was only 4 pm then. We walked around inquiring if we had come at the wrong time and a very sully shopkeeper tells us it always opens at that time. Our driver feigned surprise at the info. We decided to leave since there wasn't much we could do but wait in the blazing sun. So we didn't get to visit the temple.
Dharmasthala is said to be the abode for dharma or rightnessnous. The temple came to exist coz of the good deeds of the Heggade family who till today run the temples and its various dharma sevais.
Sri Manjunatheshwara Temple is Situated on the banks of river Nethravathi and surrounded by the rich green forests and hills of Malnad, Dharmasthala is known for it's beautiful surroundings and Sri Manjunathaswamy Temple. In Dharmasthala, charity is a way of life, extended to all without discrimination. Sri Dharmasthala which is one of the sacred places in South India and is a famous pilgrim centre.
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Interesting note is pilgrims are given free boarding as long as they wish and even money to travel back to their hometowns besides the giving of food. Charity and dharma seem to be the key word here. Besides that the Heggade acts as a judiciary where the verdict is accepted by the law. There are also patrons of the art where they have been actively involved in the restorationg of the Yashagana dance. Http://www.yakshagana.com/
I find the fact that such a place still exists in this period of time totally remarkable. Would have been nice to have gone in to see more.
Anyway we decided to proceed to Kukke. Now this is a trip you shouldn't miss of the beautiful dense forest you get to drive through. The view is just breathtaking.
Made the driver stop at one point to take photos of the beautiful reflections of the river, in the middle of the dense forest. All the view shots you see in this post are from this route. Seriously just breathaking.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Now you wonder why I support Brazil - well simply because Jogo Bonito. Those guys don't play the field they dance the field. Watch those legs and you'll wonder if they were practicing the CAPOEIRA and the Samba on the field.
Anyway this isn't a footie post - its about being a darkhorse. Something I relate to.
Years ago I used to take part in this Thevaram contests - singing of religious hymns. I started from the age of 10 and stopped at 16. No way am I a great singer but I am good. Anyways we (bro and I) used to breeze through the district level and would qualify for the state level.
And there began the funniest experiences I've had. To me singing is fun, competitions are to be enjoyed and so I actually never had stage fright nor would I cheat to win. I was also always the one who didn't mind being the first to be called coz to me the faster it finished the faster I could go running around in a pavadai! Since it was normally held on Sundays at some school, believe me there was a lot to be seen.
Anyway the first time I went to state levels, it was the first time I got recognised as the darkhorse of the competition. It was also the first time I met "those gals". The competitions were between genders and it was only in the nationals the groups fought for the gold medal.
There was always one difficult song to master in each group and I'd normally choose that coz I have this thing for complications. Don't ask. Trouble attracts me.
So there I was sitting like an angel so that I wouldn't mess myself and I got called for the first time. Relatively the unknown, no one really bothered. Hearing my choice of song, people did sit up and I - sang. My mom told me later we could have heard even a needle fall if not for my voice, plus a crowd had gathered and those gals were gasping. Those gals had always been the winners, 2 sisters and another gal and now I was competition. Me? I was happy as a bunny having performed well and not having to deal with any more tension.
One of those gals turn came up later and she fumbled her lines, forgetting the lyrics. They were nearly in tears as their family assured them they'd win. I really thought that was just something people told kids, little did I know. Eventually those gals won, and I was introduced to this new phenomena though can miss lines, fumble, stop and still win if one was the daughter of someone, the grandaughter of someone or the student of someone. Awww but I was just a darkhorse, but it was fun to me. In the presiding years, each time I turned up for the contest, I realised seeing people fear your presence can be such a wonderful feeling.
I soon become the known darkhorse in the competitions. Fake smiles were so "IN" in those days. I'd gotten use to not winning, gotten used to seeing people fumble up their performance and yet win but nothing prepared me for that final competition. The sisters had finally won the medal and couldn't take part after years of trying. Well the other state gals were better plus they didn't cheat to win you see, so they had to wait for their turn.
So there was me and the other gal. The gal goes on stage sings the first line and forgets the whole 4 lined song and proceeds to cry on the stage, eventually getting off the stage not being able to finish the song. I sang my heart out, had my audience and my district head the charming old man was so confident we'd finally win this year.
Results time came and no 3 and then 2 was announced and then the first prize went to ...... The gal who cried on the stage. That was what that finally got to me. It was just ridiculous to see such unfairness happen. Well I wasn't the only shocked person in that room. The gal who cried was so shocked they had to call her twice and she walked to the stage staring at me. I got up looked at the judges and the committee (so called religious leaders) and walked out of the room and never went back. My mom and the old man still try to get me to go back, but unfortunately for them I never backed out of a decision.
So have I been forgotten. No not really since I went on to win medals for my Univ later on in Univ Competitions but the joys of being a darkhorse often gets rewarded in weird ways.
The gal who cried on the stage ended up being my junior at Univ and here's how weird life can get, she became the roomate of my singing partner at Univ. My friend the mischievous one, decided we should meet and one evening called me to meet her there. I had no idea The gal who cried on the stage was going to be there. It was a very weird meeting, I was pretty shocked, she seemed to know something and I promptly walked out after a standard hi.
Later my friend tells me she had crated the meeting on purpose knowing my history in that line. It seems later The gal who cried on the stage told her what had happened that last time I took part. So there is a good thing about being the darkhorse, you might never win, but you'll always be remembered as you're not the one ridden with guilt ;)
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Most of all I found out Keshi is an unusual form of pearls which have no inclination to conformity and each pearl is a beautiful celebration of individuality. Now if that doesn't describe our Keshi, what will. And so to the beautiful, strong, distinct, vivacious, wonderful, warmth person Keshi we wish
Happy Birthday Darling Keshi.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Initial plan was to meet up at a cafe to watch football. That was until we realised the days matches weren't so interesting. So the party animals in us decided to change the plan and instead celebrate it at a club we frequent.
To ensure he never knew anything of the plans, non of us called him. We got him to the venue via his childhood friend, whom incidentally we had the number.
Saturday came and the group slowly trickled in waiting outside the club and hiding behind columns in case he sees us. Every other minute our informer was updating us on his whereabouts. We passed the cake to the waiter from outside and we walked in.
His friend had told him, he was having problems and needed him to listen to him, so that was why he was out or so my friend thought ;p
The look on his face as he spotted us would make mastercard proud - it was such a priceless moment. He had no inkling whatsoever of our plans and of course the dear friend our informer was given the best actor title for managing to keep it all in for all that hours.
By then our dear friend became very alert looking around and watching who we were talking to. Everytime the designated waiter stopped by to discuss the plans with me, he'd suspiciously look at the guy and comment something was going on. I think he knew what it was by the end, as this time he seemed prepared for the cake. As the in house band wished and sang for him, our guy beamed in happiness. Of course we being the number one noise makers, we didn't disappoint, causing such a racket. Of course courtesy mua, he got smeared with icing as well.
Thankfully the cake I'd bought was really tasty, as the boys were seen eating more than a slice of the cake. Then Mr friendly the birthday boy, decided he should share the cake with the club. They practically slaughtered the cake (what else boys would do) and he was disturbing it around. Later he tells us an aunty actually fed him the cake - clever fellow kept it from us that night. The boys at the table next to us were getting excited seeing all the racket we were doing, well we were the only galls in that section unless you wanted to count some of the aunties. Incidentally one of the boys were also celebrating his birthday.
If you're wondering why he's called Mr Friendly, well leave him in a room of strangers, by the next hour they'll be exchanging friendly slaps, phone numbers and talking as if they'd known each other all their lives.
Given my friend had initiated the cake sharing, they too decided to do so. I was one of the last to take the cake and was wondering why everyone was looking at me with such hope. The moment I tasted the cake they all broke into grins! Damn that was such a bitter cake - no one warned me - waste pasengeh!
Few theories were made, discovered and reaffirmed.
One can have fun watching others have fun (courtesy boys at next table)
Ladies have killer stares, if looks could kill they'd probably have killed us by now (courtesy aunties at next table)
He definitely had a good time and after the clubs closed we were still yakking away at a local restaurant. Interesting was instead of watching the game on tv, people were listening to the stories of school we were exchanging. School was the best no doubt of it, we all agreed plus with such notorious students, the boys had stories to tell.
The party wasn't over, we still had the gift to give, since it had been delayed by a flight delay. So Tuesday evening we met up at our favourite diner for some laidback dinner. The normally late birthday boy turned up just as we got into the parking area and the gift hadn't even been wrapped! So while I sat and wrapped the gift, another friend went ahead to entertain him and I still needed the gang to sign the card (planning never works with us). So smses were sent while we innocently sat at the table talking. I'm not sure if he noticed people kept disappearing from the table.
As always we were as boisterous as can be, luckily we were far away from most of the diners in the quiet restaurant. The presents came out and the fun began. He had to pose with the gift and then guess its contents. If he couldn't he'd have to sing for us. We made a new discovery that he could sing, so what are friends for if we don't exploit since information!
We got our entertainment alright, videotaped on a digi cam and 2 mobile phones. Surprise surprise we never knew Mr Friendly could blush like that ;p Impatient him tore through the gift and again mastercard would have loved the expression - priceless. He got what he wanted alright - an indian cricket jersey. I was supposed to get it for him, but I couldn't find it nor did I have the time, so he was least expecting it. So adding to his collection of football jerseys, he now has the cricket one.
All in all we had a very happy friend and we are truly delighted of having hosted another successful birthday bash and in a months time we have to plan the next! Slightly running out of ideas to maintain the surprise factor ;p
Only downer to the affair - I couldn't watch the Ecu - Ger game since we were far away from the tv as we were having too much fun!
Signing off - reporter on scene - the surprise birthday planner expert. ;p
Ps : it has come to her vainness attention that she has been sent orders to club this weekend, unfortunately for her she never does so in glasses, so tune in for blind eyed clubbing reports next week if she succumbs ;p
A photo of the gorgeous sunset I'd seen in April here in Kuala Lumpur. Love how the clouds look briliant don't they.
Anyways I'm back after being grounded at home for 2 days living like a vampire away from the sun. The eyes better, no more redness, have been dutifully taking medicines prescribed by the dr. Will be back later with a story about a surpise party we threw.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Anyway I was pretty disgusted by the guy as I went out to help the old man. All he needed was a hand to support his climb.
MY question is why couldnt the daughter get down and help him first knowing the man couldnt climb without help. or at least the donkey who saw him looking around for help should have done something.
someone teach these people manners will ya!
This morning despite getting up to a very red one, I tried getting to work. got into the car drove a km and the glare of the sun defeated me. I was crying over a sunny day! God help me! My dr had a good laugh. blinding me with some blue light!
Now if you think I'm having fun watching footie, let me tell you staring at anything bright gives me the headache and yes tv makes me cry. plus the medicine makes me sleep! toodles need to go cry somemore over light and why I love the darkness.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
We had nice hoteliers in Karnataka, some would ask questions, most would smile, it felt welcoming and you don't feel stuck in a place you shouldn't be at. So nothing to complain.
Then came Kerala. Of course how can we miss our the wonderful service at our favourite hotel in Kasargod. The ever smiling guys with twinkling eyes. Of course I'm not saying this just because they were cute or coz they supported us with the problems......
ps : another post below
we had with out mysore driver ( http://visithra.blogspot.com/2006/05/drivers-good-bad.html ) but basically they were very nice. That night we got our dinner because of them. While I was trying to settle the problem, they went out and bought us dinner. The next morning they helped arrange our travel and got us our favourite driver of the trip, Mohan. Most of all they made us feel welcome, both the morning and evening staff. So how could you not like them.
But that was only till Kasaragod. We reached Thrissur to find the most sulkiest of hoteliers. One I had to find for a hotel at dead of the night, since most places were booked. It wasn't my fault really, I called and emailed them so many times, they didn't reply on time (I found a reply after we left Kerala). We finally got a place and there began the we-do-not-like-customers hoteliers syndrome. They'd look at me as if I was some convict, never smile, say 3 words and not even bother about being nice. I have no idea why.
What was most surprising is the people were the exact opposites of these hoteliers. This we-do-not-like-customers ailment seemed to be something only the frontdesk staff suffered from as the waiters and other staff were friendly and most importantly they smiled! Most Keralites smile at you especially those from the transportation industry whom are quite friendly. I just love never having to haggle over prices with auto drivers or boat drivers, you could even have conversations and again most of all they were nice.
It was the same situation in Ernakulam and Kottayam. The ernakulam one being very sulky and blur as well. We had an early checkout, and I had informed them the night before but I ended up having to wait 30 mins after settling the bill coz he forgot to send someone up to get the bags though I had asked him earlier.
But Kottayam was the most "interesting". Again no smiles but at least they were polite. Was at the counter filling my details, when I told him I was a Malaysian and would they need a copy of my passport. The other staff sitting next to him suddenly bursts into action, so shocked he was, he started expressing it in Malayalam, getting his colleague to conform what he had heard. Unfortunately for him I understood Malayalam, so I actually looked at him wondering why the surprise. He gives me the weirdest look I've ever seen. It was one of pure shock and worry!
The question is should I be happy that I looked local or should I be maddened he couldn't believe I wasn't local! ;p
Anyway could someone please teach them to smile????
So the game starts, the place is packed and we're watching. Friend hands over his phone to show us an sms. Both of us look down and the very next second there are screams of joy as argentina score their first goal.
We both stare at the guy for sabotaging our match watching! He could only laugh - he tells me no problem for today's match since he has no sms to show! Grr
3rd goal a friend arrives and we miss it! So after the 3rd goal you rarely find anyone scoring more, so I got up to get drinks (its a self service restaurant). I'm waiting for my drinks when the crowd screams! I quietly take out the phone and call my friend, asking him what happened. He starts laughing but tells me its an offside goal
2nd half 4th goal - yayyy I watched that one. So I was telling my friend you know it would make my day, if there was another goal - seconds later there was one!! What a game what a day!
But I tell you its a conspiracy - someone so doesn't want me to watch goals scored!
Maybe I should penalise anyone else who doesn't let me watch the goal. Maybe get them to stand on the table and sing at half time! Hummm
Monday, June 19, 2006
As much as one tries to omit the greenery in Kerala, it is entirely impossible not to gush over it. This of course is my favourite shot for this half of the story. Will tell you later how I got the shot.
Now lets move on to the view between Ernakulam and Kottayam. OH MY GOD would be the best phrase to describe the beauty of the place.
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There's a long stretch of coconut trees lined waterways that give brilliant reflections. All these shots were taken from a moving car. I decided making my driver stop every 5 mins will crack him to his limit ;p
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Our first stop was the Udayanapuram temple near Vaikom. There's a very interesting story regarding this temple. Enshrining Subrahmanya, the temple had originally been meant for Bhagawathi. However as the devi had taken residence at the nearby Kumaranallur temple that had been meant for Subrahmanya - they exchanged places and hence her temple town took on the name Kumaran-alla-ooru (not for Kumaran).
Its quite a big temple, where the inner temple structure boasts beautiful carvings and sculptures. Take a loook at this shot closely and you'll some beautifully coloured sculptures against the white back drop of carvings. Psst this photos are sneaked shots, was sitting and singing so no one bothered us. He he he
It seems Thaipoosam is celebrated here with great grandeur where Kavadis make their way to Vaikom Mahadevar temple first. The temple is closely associated with the vaikom temple and looks somewhat similar as well. Read more for the festival info. Http://www.templenet.com/Kerala/udayana.html
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Its a nice temple to walk around and sit, was very quiet. And the view from one of the doors as you can see is quite beautiful. One thing about the temples around this stretch are most of them close by 10 am. Yes that early.
That's how we missed the etumanoor temple, passing it the wrong times. That was a temple I'd wanted to see for its carvings and murals. http://www.templenet.com/Kerala/ettumanoor.html
The Vaikom Mahadevar temple is a huge temple and a celebrated one too. Associated closely with Udayanapuram, the festivals of both the temples coincides. Both the temples celebrate the slaying of the demons by skanda.
When we arrived at the temple, it was burning hot, it was one of those summer days. Rain was very funny in Kerala, it would start splutter some water, and then thats about it. We arrived at abhishegam time, so we got to see this beautiful abhishegam. Unfortunately women can be so weird, after getting shoved a few times, we left. The inner temple here too was beautifully adorned with carvings.
"It is believed that the Tiruvilaiyaadal associated with the tamil saint poet Manikkavaacakar, where jackals were miraculously transformed into horses - occurred here."
We didn't go around the temple, one coz of the heat and two mom and her friend were feeling a bit weak since we hadn't had food since the day before's fasting.
Later that evening we headed to Chakkulathukavu through an even more beautiful road. It was as if the river was leading us to the temple. The place was just so beautiful. One of those rides only your mind remembers, again couldn't make the drier stop everywhere you know. En route we passed by this duck farm and beautiful paddy fields. Did make him stop at the duck farm and that's where I caught the first photo.
If you're ever at Kottayam take this route to Chakkulathukavu or the Thiruvalla temple, its worth the time. It passes through coconut grooves, waterways, paddy fields, villages and more.
My visit this time to the temple was a quiet one. Good thing the place was almost deserted. We had a wonderful darshan. The devi is a small image yet so pretty. Its one of my fav temples. The first time I'd been there, the place had been submerged by the raaga revati - this time it was all peaceful.
We reached Tiruvalla as the last rays of the sun vanished, so you can imagine what a drive it was. The Tiruvalla Sri Vallabha temple is an alwar sthalam and quite and ancient temple. If you look up into the wooden ceilings covered with beautiful carvings, you'll find bats have made homes there. Vallabha is portrayed as bearing a conch, a discus and a lotus.
This is another temple with a big courtyard and stage. It seems in this temple devotees offer to sponsor kathakali performances as their offering to the temple. None was done the day we were there, but we did get to see the pooja done that evening.
As you can see rather than the temple I was bewitched by the moon, it was shinning so bright days before the full moon of chitirai. I was standing for a long time admiring its beauty, it was one of those days. Quite romantic too, standing by the dimly lit area with the moons rays for company.
Temples closed early even at night, probably its a practice to remain open longer only during festival months? We missed the Tirunakkara Mahadeva temple in Kottayam town that night but got to see it the next morning. You have to climb steps to reach the temple. Nice temple.
There are more to see in this stretch including Allepley, some palaces, impressive churches, more temples but we missed quite a lot of them, given our limited time. Well good reason to go on another backwater ride ;)
ps : don't mind the photos title - it was a typo mistake.
Friday, June 16, 2006
We didn't see him again till the next morning. We found him walking around the temple looking very worried. the look on his face when he saw us was priceless. he started beaming and repeated non stop Kanaleh! Kanaleh! Kanaleh! excitedly.
Finally we understood what he was trying to say. I think he got a fright coz he didn't see us again in the night or the morning. I think he must have thought he had rented the room to 3 women ghosts ;p hehehehe poor guy
Thursday, June 15, 2006
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The first time I'd gone there few years back, I'd arrived during the afternoon seeveli and as you hear the sounds of the percussion (the use a few different ones including the panchavadyam) you here cries as the possessed make their way behind the procession led by the temple elephant. For the first time viewer it looks a bit bizarre and for the untrained ears you don't hear the chants. You're perplexed by the sight in front of you, wondering which era you are in. It takes familiarity to brush this image away. What you do realise walking in the first time is some strong vibration strikes you and the tingling of your skin.
Ch*ottanikkara enshrines Bhagawati and is located near the city of Ernakulam.
The suyambu deity is normally covered with a gold kavacam. This deity is worshipped in three different forms - as Saraswati in the morning - draped in white, as Bhadrakali at noon draped in crimson, and as Durga in the evening decked in blue.
There's another shrine below the temple where you'll also find a tank.
We were told its good to fast at least a day and spend the whole time at the temple so we did.You might wonder wasn't I bored, let me tell you the amount of walking you have to do up and down the temple and poojas you have to see, plus the interesting things that go on, you don't really get bored.
The rules were you had to see all the changes of the deity, the poojas, seevelis (procession around temple usually with an elephant - read for more info) and the last ur*uthi pooja at the k*eezhkaavu.
So in the middle of the morning (3am ish) we woke up a bunch of blur and ever sully staff (more on that later) and checked out of our hotel. The first pooja was at about 4 am where you get to see the devi without the kavasam, then later with the kavasam and as Saraswati then in poo alangaram then as Bhadrakali and finally in the evening as Durga. There's a 3 round seeveli in the afternoon and a 9 round one in the night.
After seeing the devi shrine and the shiva shrine at the top temple, you head down to the temple at the bottom. Now in the day the place looks really beautiful. There's a midway 4 pillar structure where people sometimes get married at if they don't hold the ceremony at the small hall in front of the temple.
Before you reach the temple you'll find the tank right in the middle of the steps. Pretty interesting location. There's a legend behind the tank about a demon plus a lot more history regarding how the temple came to be. The idol is quite ancient and was forgotten for a few hundred years before it was rediscovered as it had been predicted.
Now if you go around the temple below you'll find a tree covered with little dolls and iron nails from all the de-possesing that goes on here. Actually you don't see anything being done. But i was told their recovery varies from 1 week to 40 weeks to sometimes years depending on how much they want to recover. On your way back you'll find a sashta temple.
Since I was the youngest of the group, I don't know how many times I was made to run up and down the steps to get things from this bookstore midway down the steps. That's when my best friend in kerala turns up to surprise me! Who else MR Vedi of course! Bah the guy at the counter had a good laugh watching me jump hearing the sound and it happened 2!!!
Anyway at the times you're not running up and down or at a pooja you're to sit somewhere quietly and chant. I took it as an opportunity to update my journal and read the books about the temples I'd been to. Also you end up watching the people around you. There are very interesting characters.
Right in the middle of the hall in front of the temple, there's this huge scale. People of all age come and sit on it and pay in bananas or br*ownsugar (vehlam is a famous offering here as it is used to make a tasty payasam) in their weight. Once the weight is reached, the person gets lifted to a balanced height and from there they will be able to see the devi inside the temple and the temple below. Its very interesting to watch. The bananas are recycled, probably to stop wastage. My theory is the amount of weight needed normally depended on the persons character. Everyone would come and quietly sit there and very small amount is needed to reach the height. One small lady comes with her husband and starts demanding around. "Place only this huge green bananas for me and the yellow one for my husband."
Though the husband needed only a normal amount, it took every green banana in the pile to lift the small thin women. Wonders cease to exist. I wasn't the only curious one watching the scale dance up and down. Kids would come and swing it with a curious look like this kid trying to make sense of this weird contraption.
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The possessed people, mostly women but some men and children. You can see that some of them are genuinely possessed but some I think have long been cured but seems to enjoy this life where all they do is laze around. Why am I saying that? Well there was one gal who was there with her mom, she's very aware of her surroundings, pointing out things to people. Her mom was complaining (to no one specifically) when are you going to get well, we have to go back. I guess the thought of going back to a low income job does not appeal to her, as basically life at the temple is a breeze. You pray, pay a min amount get the afternoon rice (just plain rice which you're supposed to eat and nothing else besides fruits), life probably couldn't be easier. People don't just leave their family members here as each possessed person must be accompanied by a family member. There was also this lady and her husband. She too was one of those people you could see was acting. Pity the husband though, having to put up with all these.
But there are the sad stories. This small boy and his father. I think the kid was mentally disturbed and you'd find the father coaxing the kid to chant and he would after a few tries. Poor kid was being bullied by the first gal I had written about, she was quite a weird one. I was sipping water when she comes to me and tells me to hand it over. I actually did, and she had the habit of doing this to a few ppl around.
There was also a very old lady there, the only one who was alone. Hers was a case of obsessive devotion. She could always be seen talking to god loudly. Ama I'm here, your devotee is here and she'd start chanting again. There was a family who had come with their father who was the victim and suddenly he went missing. Poor gal started crying, having lost her father, thankfully later they found him.
Come the afternoon seeveli and the evening one, the once calm ladies and men will start screaming and dancing to the sound of the panchamelam. Right after the music stops they become normal.
What's interesting about the temple is devotion didn't come with a heavy price. There was no special entrance, there was no different prayer prices and no one scratched their heads wanting money. Given we have some invisible foreign tag on us (people in india can really stare both women and men), we're often bugged with such things, but though they knew we weren't local, we weren't.
When I was there we got to see 2 weddings, families would gather around and bless the couple as the short ceremony was done to the sounds of the melam before the next couple took their place. Blushing brides in their finery and joyous grooms surrounded by family. Another popular ceremony was the chooruthal, where the baby would be fed its first rice. So many kids came for this. Small babies wrapped in tiny veshtis and pavadais are a sight to behold.
I must tell you about the temple elephant, he is such a cute thing. Most interesting is he is so attuned to rhythm and music. You'll find him swaying exactly to the beat of the chant or music with a smile on his face while swinging his trunk again in beat to the music. Amazing elephant.
I tried taking so many shots of the seeveli procession, this was the best shot. Somehow it never fell into picture. Right after this the head priest locks up the main temple and everyone heads down to watch the uru*thi pooja. Its where kunkumam is diluted in water and offered which is later given as prasadam. Its done in an enclosed area so that the victims would not be able to enter as this is time there are the most active, running around screaming and trying to escape, what's interesting is none of them are able to leave the area.
What is most bewitching is the sound of the panchamelam. Truly for a percussion lover, this music is heaven. The sound is so captivating, resonating through your mind, changing in tempo, suddenly escalating in speed just as fast as your heartbeat rises and then they stop, exhausted yet energized by the sound.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
We were having an argument on cricket and football. Me calling cricket boring and him vice versa on football. So when I asked what's so great about cricket, a game that takes at least a day to decide a winner? He tells me
A cricket game is the best place to meet a gal. You have the whole day to decide and ascertain if a gal is gonna be boring or fun and whether you should make a move. Plus there is a wide selection of choice. You have enough time to make the move, put kadlai (as in strike up a conversation and flirt) and all things are good given the games end sharp at 6pm you might be lucky enough to get a date!
In a footballs 90 min game, you won't even have time to look at a gal, you'll be too busy watching the game!
Side note : He informs me it will work anywhere expect at subcontinent games as less women attend these games.
I say I do have to agree on this point but please channel all brickbats to Vatsan - I am just the innocent messenger ;p hehe
ps : another post below
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At first the auto driver was going to drop us a Marine Drive this park facing the waterfront then I managed to confuse him enough he took us to some coastal office.
Thankfully they pointed us to the government boats. Unfortunately they weren't cruising that day, that's when this guy spots us and urges us to his boat.
I clearly asked him backwaters? And he went yes yes. And since his boat was full I said ok.
Here was the tricky part, moms afraid of wooden bridges. So you can imagine her fright at seeing one that was a bit shaky. Anyway we managed to get her on the boat. These boats have a capacity of 40 passengers where you have to climb up another level.
It was a bit weird, I wanted to go on one of those old boats, but mom and friend didn't want to go on a longer tour. So we compromised to 1 hour. Now the island and the backwaters were on one side and the harbour was on the other. Guess which way the boat turned?
The harbour!! So after loads of guessing and wondering, we realised we were on a harbour cruise, good thing is I like ships and we finally did see the backwaters later at Kumarakom on a different boat so this was still nice.
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The thing is they drive you close past beautiful navy ships as a few countries ships were anchored there. This is a shot of the Taranggani an Indian Navy ship. I love this kind of ships with such masts and shaped like ships of yonder. So this was a treat to me. Plus we got to see navy personals. Have I told you how I like men in uniform ;p
There was quite a lot of activity on the ship, personnel's holding gun, having conversation, ships getting ready to leave, flags of different nations, the port activities and their workers all in bright orange, even a local fisherman crew.
Our boat did take a longer route then the other boats coming from Marine drive. Yes all of them were only doing the harbour cruise. So unless you wish to take this ride I suggest you head to Cochin to get on a boat or just head to Kumarakom.
There was a cute kid on the boat watching me snap photos like crazy. We smiled at each other, though her parents glared back. Very weird. This is not the first time parents in India have glared at us smiling at their children. Over here most parents smile at you when you play with their children.
You know its nice to cruise below a bridge? Though its slightly funny to see a lavender coloured one? I kid you not.
We were heading to the other side that looked like a fishing village to drop a family who were visiting a church there I think. Good thing for me was, I got these photos of fishing boats.
Unfortunately didn't get to see the famed chinese fishing nets. Did see them while driving past bridges (there are a lot of those here) but not on the boats.
What we did see was the lovely Boghatty island where the Dutch built this beautiful palace that has been converted to a hotel.
The palace has really lush green grounds, so its nice looking at it. I especially like this tree that cascades over the water.
There's a small island in the middle of the water and if you look closer you'll realise most of the island is made up of water. Like I said its still an interesting cruise.
When we got back we took a walk along marine drive. This place is beautiful as the sun sets as its lined with my favourite tree the flame of the forest so that's the first photo you saw.
Plus there's this beautiful bridge. A lot of people seem to come there in the evenings. Not much food though we did see a guy selling bajji but it was with eggs so we said no.
They have a shopping mall next to the marine drive which sells mostly electronic items. I tried getting my poor adapter there (had been looking for one from town after town). The shopkeepers kept sending me everywhere and finally I decided they had no idea.
Marine drives a nice place to be in the evenings, nice to stroll by.
Ps : you might want to take a look at the rest of the photos - there is more ;)