Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A great vacation (with some footwear loss)!!

The year 2007 ended very well and 2008 began nicely enough too. The extended family hereafter referred to as the 'Barbarian Horde' (or just horde for short) took off to Coorg, about 14 of us, ages 4.5 - 45.5.

We did the obligatory stop at the Namdroling Monastery and got to Madikere late in the evening. The homestay place we'd booked was just great! Three rooms on the ground floor, a loft with wooden floors big enough for 20 people to sleep in, a wonderful Man Friday who cooked amazingly well, what more could we ask for.

Day 1 (Dec 29) - The first morning in Madikere, we took off to Dubare Elephant camp keeping military time (which means we decided we would leave at 7:30 a.m. and left at 10 a.m.). Of course, we were too late for the elephant rides though the mahouts grudgingly allowed the kids to get a mini-ride.

The horde, in a moment of delusionary adventurism, decided to walk back across the river. Our lean, muscular and agile bodies not withstanding, it was no cake-walk, to put it mildly. The rocks were slippery as hell, the current was strong and our eclectic group, not the steadiest of foot, was in deep, before we realized it. As if it to further highlight our incompetence, local boys skipped and lithely crossed the river nonchalantly. We did finally make it across, sans a pair of slippers and a cell phone back panel which mysteriously disappeared during my cousin's fall at the tail-end of the great crossing.

After a bad lunch, we set off to Talacauvery, the birth place of the the Cauvery river. Here, I was made to climb the 100 odd steps to BrahmaGiri, which is a plateau behind and above the spring where the Cauvery starts. On the way back, my sandals went missing. No idea who would want my feet wrappers!

Day 2 (Dec 30) - A visit to a real estate. This was way too cool. Coffee, pepper and other crops flourished abundantly in verdant green hills and valleys. We saw some real estate work in progress here and a few of us also tried our hand at beating the batta (rice in the husk). A few minutes of this action, and we all needed a few bananas to re-invigorate our non country selves. A short walk from there and we came upon a beautiful bungalow, at least a 100 years old. More drinks to cool ourselves and then back to the homestay. It was music night and the midnight oil was burnt as we bravely attempted songs in numerous languages.

Day 3 (Dec 31)- My cousin's wife slipped and twisted her ankle in an innocuous depression in the ground and we took this opportunity to stuff ourselves with junk food. We carried on through some of the most breath-taking country-side I have ever seen and got to Iruppu Falls in the afternoon. A few bad jokes later with the play on the word 'Falls', we reached the actual Falls where the water was ice cold. Some of the big boys in the horde dared to stand under the falling water and it apparently was exhilarating.

From here, it was on to Nagarhole wildlife sanctuary and the areas we drove through looked like Scotland, the only difference being the coffee plantations. I need to give some details of our Nagarhole safari ride as it's a safari ride that begs for details.

The safari bus was a 19-seater making the most horrendous racket. When I excitedly pointed out to a few deer on the road-side to my daughter, the driver turned back and mumbled something. I tried to catch his hastily spoken words but couldn’t. I finally got what he was saying. He was shushing me saying that I was disturbing the animals! For one, the deer couldn’t have been less bothered about our presence but, more importantly, the bus could have given a howitzer a run for it’s money in terms of the noise factor. Anyway, we gamely carried on. Every once in a while, the driver would stop the bus and dramatically peer to one side. The 19 people would instinctively turn in anticipation. The best we did was a few plants. Most of us actually fell asleep during the safari and the end of the epic adventure, our impressive score read: 63 deer, 1 peacock, 1 tame elephant and 2 diary cows.

We actually saw a full grown female bison when we were driving out of the wildlife sanctuary. Mysore was the next destination and we arrived around 9 p.m. on New Year’s eve driving through some terrible roads.

The rest of New Year’s eve was a lot of fun. More eating, a little more eating, some Hollywood Rummy, a few Nagaraj Rao jokes (this requires a separate blog entry) and lo and behold it was ‘Happy New Year’ to everyone.

It was great being in the family homestead on New Year’s day and we returned to Bangalore, sad that our holiday was over, but happy about the time we all had. Hoping to do more of these family trips in the years to come!

A wedding in Chennai

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