Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Sri Lanka Travel Day 4 Colombo

The last day started a little early, at 8 AM as we wanted to visit both, a coral reef and Turtle hatchery. We first went to the Turtle hatchery. It is maintained by a charitable institution. They buy the eggs from the local fishermen, hatch them and release the young turtles back into the sea. There are some 20 odd varieties of turtles in the world and some 5-6 varieties are in Sri Lanka seas (Indian Ocean) The guide showed us an egg and asked to feel the texture. It is white and round, not oval. The shell is not hard, does not break on light pressure, instead dips in like a ping pong ball. Not a great size, rather small about 1.5 inch in diameter. Turtles have an average lifetime of over 200 years and the man in charge showed us a turtle aged over 150 years. The institution also nurses injured and permanently maimed turtles brought by fishermen. If one has only one eye the other has only one hand yet another is without both hind legs. They survive without one or more body part. The man in charge showed us a rare white turtle. He says white turtles are about one in 10,000! An adult turtle lays anything from 150 to 200 eggs at a time. It digs a burrow in the sand on the shore during midnight, mostly on full moon nights, lay the eggs and closes the pit with sand. The mother visits the spot every night to not only make sure that the eggs are not eaten away by predators but also to take the newly hatched babies to the sea!

After seeing the wonder of nature in the form of little turtle life, we proceeded to a Coral Reef. Sri Lanka is also called Coral Island if I am not wrong. The glass bottom boatman took us to a nearby spot where coral plants are visible through the glass bottom. Corals also grow in deep see bottom but you cannot see it through a glass bottom boat. I remembered my daughter, in the U.S. taking us to a marine life study University where they took us around in a similar but far bigger glass bottom boat. We saw two types of coral plants. One the usual type as the boatman told, and the other is mushroom shaped plant. It looks so lovely through the glass but actually the edges of the mushroom like petals are hard and razor sharp! The boatman showed us his soles full of wound scars made by these plants!

The boatman had carried a loaf of bread and constantly threw crumbs in the waters so that the colored and other varieties of fish rushed to grab a bite! It was good fun when he threw the crumbs from one side to the other of the boat so that the fish rush from side to side under our boat and visible through the glass bottom.

After coral reef we went to Colombo. In fact Bentota is a part of Colombo. We had lunch at an Indian hotel - good spicy buffet.

After lunch we went for shopping at a mall. By three we drove to the airport, a 90 minutes drive to catch our flight at 6.40PM. Reached Bangalore at around 8 PM. There ended a good Sri Lanka Travel. I wish to go again visiting northern part, Anuradhapura the old capital and other places.

The link to my on-line album:

My Sri Lanka Travel Day 3 Bentota

Third day started at around 8:30 AM on an eight hour long drive to Bentota, a beach city. The first visit was to an Elephant Orphanage and we reached by late noon. Nothing much to explain here, see the pictures. Here too there was a good eatery, a western style buffet. We ate lunch here and left to our next destination at around 3:30 PM.

We reached Bentota River boating in the evening at around 5 PM. It is a very beautiful location surrounded by a bird sanctuary, thick forests and mangroves. Here again hardluck followed us. It was no season for migratory birds, and a few kingfishers we saw are migrated from India! There were posh hotels alround the banks with a lot of water sports facilities. We also saw Buddhist monasteries in the thick of the forests, a perfect location for spiritual learning.

We were again unfortunate as the unseasonal rains started pouring forcing the boatman to raise the hood disallowing entry into mangroves! Anyway, we enjoyed the one hour boating, even though an entry inside the forests on the waters would have made it more enjoyable. After this we straight away proceeded to our lodge for the night, Induwara Beach Resort reaching just before sunset. This resort is the best of all three we stayed during our travel, with spacious rooms having a small balcony facing the sea. Again the dinner was a sumptuous western buffet.

Please visit the following link and see pictures:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Sri Lanka Travel Day 2 Nuwara Eliya

Next morning at around 8:30 we set out to our next destination on a top of a mountain, at 6000 ft above sea level, surrounded by lush green tea gardens. The area is called Nuwara Eliya. It was about
three hours drive from Kandy. First half hour drive was normal and then the climb starts. First we visited a Govt. Certified Gem Store on our way. As you may be knowing Sri Lanka is famous for Corals and Rubies. Among precious stones, diamond is not found in Sri Lanka. Apart from Rubi and Opal many more semi-precious stones are also found in Sri Lanka.
On both the sides along the serpentine road, lush green tea estates throughout the climb made the journey that much lighter, in fact, exhilarating and energising! We visited a tea factory, ( I had seen tea factories earlier too in Hassan and Chikmagalur districts). Then we proceeded a to a Water Fall called Ramboda Falls. The falls is very ordinary, but the maintenance and infrastructure was excellent, attracting a lot of tourists! If only our so called visionaries avoided putting a dam just before Jog Falls and instead developed it into a tourism center, I am sure a hundred fold revenue could have been generated than the Electricity and irrigation put together could produce! Jog Falls is the highest in the world, water falling from a height of over 1,150 Ft! There was an eatery, again a buffet with western food, facing the falls. We ate our lunch here and then proceeded further on our journey.

On way, we took a deviation to visit Hakkgala Gardens, even though the scheduled visit in our itinerary was to Botanical gardens. We thought, as we had all seen Botanical Gardens of Bangalore, we felt it better to visit Hakkgala as it is similar to our own Lalbaug of Bangalore. But it was a total disappointment as they were preparing the garden for a grand show from April onwards. The rose was pruned, entry blocked, new seasonal flower beds were under preparation and above all in addition to our disappointment unseasonal rains poured all of a sudden! We took shelter under a giant tree for about 30 minutes before we set out after the downpour weakened!

Back on the climb to Nuwara Eliya, we came across a Ram-Sita temple. The temple is most ordinary, not bigger than the Mari Gudi at the corner of our street here! But the legend goes that the spot was Ashoka Vana of Ramayana, where Sita was kept captive by Ravana and Hanuman located it. There is a scenic background to the temple with high green mountains and a stream flowing immediately behind the temple. That made it very beautiful.

The flavour of British culture was predominant thought the entire rage of Nuwara Eliya. We checked in Galways Forest Lodge at around 8 PM. This resort was good and the weather was cool, something like Mysore in winter, very pleasant.

The link to my photo album:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Sri Lanka Travel - Day 1

I have been to Sri Lanka on a four day (three nights) holiday last week. As such, Sri Lanka has nothing special to boast, but the lush green landscapes are exhilarating and rejuvenating! I felt I should share my experience with all my readers on this blog site. I am going to present it as a sort of travelogue in four parts, day wise. I bought the travel package for two families from Jet Wings Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore. Here I go with the first instalment:

Day 1: Airport to Kandy. The only airport (both International and domestic) is situated at a place called Negombo, some 35 Kms. from Colombo and called the Colombo International Airport. Our flight was of one hour ten minutes from Chennai and we reached destination at 11:40 AM. Janak, our designated driver with a Toyota six seater, was ready with the placard to receive us. Each of us got a little cash converted to Sri Lankan rupees. We had already been informed by our Agent at Bangalore that shopping in Sri Lanka is very costly except some branded outfits.
We proceeded to Kandy straightaway.Driver Janak was accompanied with a qualified and Govt. certified guide called Batu. Soon Batu advised us to pack lunch instead of wasting time at any hotel to eat lunch. We agreed and our lunch was packed at a wayside resort. later Janak stopped at a roadside Cashew Nut shop which had facilities to eat our lunch. After a sumptuous lunch complete with dessert and cut fruits, we proceeded towards Kandy, some 90 minutes drive. Visited an Ayurvedic garden on the way.

Kandy is situated at a height of 600 metres above sea level. Cool and pleasant, Kandy is a city developed by the British. Aroma of British culture is felt throughout our places of visit in southern part of Sri Lanka. And contrary to general belief, according to the guide Batu, it is also safe to travel northern part now after the Tamil terrorism is effectively decimated. But, as far as I know, no travel industry dares to take a northern Sri lankan Travel.

The name Kandy, originally known as Kandaudarata in Sinhalese which means upcountry, was first twisted as Kandau by the earlier occupiers, the Dutch, was again shortened as Kandy by the British who took over the city from the Dutch. It is predominantly a Buddhist city having one of the oldest Buddhist shrines in the world known as The Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic, of the 4th century AD. It is believed that Lord Buddha's real tooth was brought to Kandy by the then King of Kandaudarata and built the Temple to preserve the sacred relic. Kandy is also the last of the capital of Sinhala kingdom before it ceded to the British in 1815 AD. Our guide says Kandy is an example of predominant Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka and this temple is not only revered as the most prized relic of The Buddha, but also revered as most sacred temple throughout the Buddhist world. 70% of the population is Buddhist. This city of Kandy, so to say, represents the entire cultural life of Sri Lanka.

Our driver took us to the highest point in Kandy from where we could see the whole city. At a far distance, at the top of a high mountain a Buddha statue was visible. After enjoying the natural scenes from the top, Janak took us to a cultural programme. Nothing much to boast about the programme, which is similar to our own Yakshagana!(Cultural dance form depicting Hindu mythology of the coast and Shimoga)

From there we visited the ancient world famous temple. Nothing much to explain; you will see some photographs in the album in the link below. The tooth relic is placed covered inside a golden cape and kept inside the shrine. It is not open to public view except for a particular week in a year when the cape is removed and visitors/devotees can have a'Darshan' from a distance. Also the tradition is each day of the year only a particular family members are having the opportunity to enter the shrine and make the offerings. This tradition was set by the King himself who built the temple. The descendants of these chosen 365 families follow the tradition and do the rituals till date.

Finally at around 8 PM the a long and hectic day ended and we were lodged at Swiss Residence, a posh star hotel. We set out from Bangalore the previous night train reaching Chennai at 4:30 AM. The Chennai Central Railway station was not only overcrowded at that our in the morning but also was stinking filth!

Kandy was a clean and beautiful city. I found, everywhere we drove, the roads (no four lane highways please!) were not only clean and well maintained without a single litter or slums, but also the users strictly observed road rules. A well disciplined populace I must say.
I now stop here and move to second day in my blog; and you may not enjoy this blog without looking at the pictures in the album, a link for which is as follows:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A stupid, ney perverted thought!

Colin Todhunter is a regular columnist contributing articles in regular intervals to Deccan Herald, to which I have been a subscriber since over forty years now. In today's article on this Cristmas day, on the eve of a new year he has ventured into quite some interesting and serious events of 2011. Apart from half a dozen events he has narrated in this Sunday Herald, a week end edition of Deccan Herald, he has taken up the case of Julian Assange, who has ruffled a hornet's nest so violently that his very life is in peril in the hands of the Godly guardians of world's biggest democracies.

It is in this context I would like to put in a few words here. In my well considered opinion, Assange instead of standing on an open public pedestal and blowing his whistle, he should have taken a sniper's position behind a strong wall and shot his salvos directly without fears. Now that his very life is in danger under the combined mammoth force of Britain, Sweden and USA, I do not expect anything more from him than already published. 

Now that anything more from Assange is doubtful, I feel some of the geniuses should do the job of sniping. I firmly believe that there is no dearth of intellect surpassing the likes of Assange and Steve Dobbs in this whole wide world. But once you fall for name and fame like Assange, the evil in this world can easily take over you in a matter of time. After all, what a person needs to live a happy life takes only a couple of good meals, sufficient dress to cover from the vagaries of weather and a roof to live under. Don't laugh at me, please, thinking what kind of junk this old man is! I am not preaching any religious or spiritual lessons here. It is the basic truth of life one should realise while going on a mission to dismantle the well organized crime by none other than people in governments all over the world.

Todhunter says, the illegal money stashed away in foreign countries from India by a powerful few is more than 13 times the total foreign debt of the country. Imagine this when over half of the population is reeling under poverty not being able to earn two square meals for him and his family, the the punishment calls for the highest. Assange, however loud he threatens to publish the names will soon be muted.

Some time back I think I had written an article on the barbaric act of the so called civil society to put a woman to death by stoning in public. The crime? - unsupported claim of adultery by her husband just to marry another woman of his choice! See "Stoning of Soroya M" on Netflix movies online if your government allowed the site to operate in your country. The final scene of stoning the woman is filmed wonderfully, bringing out all the anguish in you. At that time I felt this age old civil laws were barbaric. But now after seeing such gigantic crimes by the people who are supposed to be in their political position to alleviate poverty, have to be meted out with more severe punishments than the one meted out to Soroya. And for that no government worth its salt dares to do that; only the people in crass mob mentality can do it when the names are sniped out in public!

After all human psyche is based on cruelty and extracting happiness from the sufferings of fellow being. No other life species is based on cruelty just for the fun of it. Only man can do it. So to give outlet to such behaviour of man, which can never be controlled, should be channelised in one or other way, and I think this is the best opportunity!
I wish Merry Cristmas to Colin Todhunter, his numerous readers, Julian Assange and his team of dedicated colleagues hoping, as I have done in the last 68 new year eves, that this time around the new year may bring about real change in society for good.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brigitte Bardot - Then and Now

I posted a blog on Dev Anand, the legendary everlasting romantic hero of yesteryear, who romanced well not only in his films but also with life itself by successful experiments in film making, till he passed away a couple of days back at the age of 88. His latest production is all ready to be released early 2012! There were many articulate and nostalgic reporting and tributes to the departed legend in the print and electronic media yesterday and a day before. During writing that blog, nostalgic memories of movies of my college days in earlier part of the sixties started slowly unfolding.

Apart from Hindi and regional language movies, I used see a lot of western movies too - War movies, Romantic movies, Espionage, Thrill and of all I loved Cowboy films (also called Western Quickies) most - Right from John Wayne to Clint Eastwood. Apart from many male actors, lot many female actors were also my favorites and among  my likes Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn were in the forefront. There were sex bombs such as Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren too, But I liked Audrey for her sheer acting skills and Brigitte for her naughty character depiction.  I do not remember how many times I viewed "Wait Until Dark", the recent being on Netflix stream during my last visit to America in the first part of this year. I calibrate that film as Audrey's best. I am never tired of seeing that movie again and again. The acting of a blind woman is such.

Recently I received a chain mail with the same title in the subject field as I have given to this blog. Looking at the pictures of Brigitte Bardot, my mind reeled back in time to "Viva Maria!" Brigitte, if I remember correctly, was the leader of a train robbery gang of the wild west of the early 20th century in that film. The inimitable drunkard Lee Marvin was her assistant in this movie which I must have seen at least twice during my college days.

I felt very sad to to see that lovely Brigitte in crutches. Yet, her trademark thick lips are still inviting, aren't they?

Please see the everlasting beauty in this album :

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Abhi naa jaavo chodkar...

I received a message on my cell this morning when I was taking my breakfast at around 8.10 AM. It was from Rajiv, my good friend from Kanpur and the message read - "Dear Dev sahab, Abhi naa jayo chor kar ke dil abhi bhara nahin. We grew up seeing you romancing with life, charming everyone around you - Rajiv". That's right Rajiv, Dev sahab charmed everyone around irrespective of age, with his unparallelled romancing with life. When Dev sahab romanced with those beautiful words with Sadhana in 'Hum Dono', I saw the movie during my I year B,Sc. in 1962 for a second time bunking classes, if my 50 year old memory is not cheating on me!

Dev Anand was my most favorite actor. I used to see Tamil movies too in those days and 'Gemini' Ganeshan (that great Hindi star Rekha's father), who was 'titled' as 'Kaadal Mannan'  by his Tamil fans, meaning romance king, was also my favorite. But Dev Anand was something unforgettable all life for his new and newer gestures of romance in each of the films he acted. His gently hitting on the nose of Sadhana with his fist during that song 'Abhi naa jaavo...' is still green in my memory. I might have missed just one or two of his films, maybe I have seen all, I don't really know. But it is a fact that I did not care for anything in order to see whenever a new Dev Anand movie was released. I was born and brought up in a small town near Mangalore in South India and during those days Hindi movies were a bit late to arrive in Mangalore. Hindi movies were a poor competitor to Tamil in the 'Tent' Cinema in my little town. We could rarely see a Hind movie during my high school days. Only films like 'Mother India' and  'Madhumati' (Dilip Kumar-Vyjayanthi Mala starer). But the Golden period of Hindi Cinema started in early sixties. Oh, that scintillating tunes with meaningful lyrics composed with great soothing music using real instruments (No electronic organs please!) And that is one of the reasons I consider my college days in Mangalore the best period of my life, with Dev Anand almost a role model!..... from Kala Bazaar, Tere Gharke Samane, Guide of the International fame to Gambler and Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, one cannot discard any of the Dev Anand starer, be it with Waheeda Rehman, Sadhana, Nanda, Saira Banu or Zeenath Amaan.

In the beginning, there was a feeble accusation that Dev Anand was trying to copy Gregory Peck of the west. There certainly could be some similarities in mannerisms of the two, but soon Dev sahab firmly established his unique identity by the wide range of versatility in his acting style. Not only the acting with a variety of heroins, but his romancing with real life itself is great for his experimentation with new ideas.

The legend has vanished for ever, but the memories will never fade simply because the charm spreads over at least three generations! May the great soul rest in eternal peace." target="_blank">" style="border: 0 !important; background: transparent;"/>