Monday 11 November 2013

Chikmaglur holiday

We used the Deepavali weekend to go to Chikmaglur with my parents-in-law. I've been planning a trip there ever since our first stint in Bangalore between 2003 and 2007 but there was always a jinx on it - I remember we booked acco a couple of times but then had to cancel. This time I had my fingers and toes crossed and fortunately, other than an excruciating 2 hours trying to get out of Bangalore city on Rajyostava day, we made good time and reached our homestay in Chikmaglur in time for lunch even after a quick stop at the Hoysala temples at Belur
Our homestay was beautifully situated and remote, in the center of a bonafide working coffee plantation. Our hosts were extremely congenial and the other guests were super-friendly. In fact, we got to be good friends with another couple with a small kid who took a shine to Y and Ads. This cute kid insisted on following the former around everywhere and calling her "Dolly"! My parents-in-law are both social people and they enjoyed having a few other families around to chat with, so the homestay idea worked out well for us as opposed to a more resort-like or hotel ambience. 

Chennakesava temple at Belur
Superb craftmanship

The homestay - Ads & Y biking in the distance
On the first evening, S, my fil and I decided to go on a trek to Bendgall, a challenging rocky climb that left us gasping for breath. My fil couldn't make it more than a quarter of the way but S and I and the other couple with the toddler gamely plodded on, with able assistance from our hardy guide. We took turns to carry and cajole the little boy up the steep hill. This other couple also gave up near the summit when they realized that one had to climb on all fours, on hands and knees with hardly any footholds to speak of! It was thrilling and adventurous to put it mildly but I was in the middle of a major andrenaline rush and managed the last bit quite easily. The views from the top were certainly worth every creaking joint, panting breath and scrape/tear (I managed to fall down and get a couple of deep gashes on my knee and leg as we descended).

The beginning of the trail, which disappeared as we climbed higher

Narrow pathways

View from the top

Our guide was so sure-footed and it doesn't look that steep, but the only way we could get down was on our bottoms!

Another view from the top - the road down below is the one from where we started climbing!

The next day, we were treated to a very informative walk through the coffee estate where my fil and S quizzed our host about the economics of growing coffee. All dreams of owning a small estate some day came crashing down as we realized the manifold risks of being an agri-entrepreneur, most of them far beyond one's control! That evening, we visited Kavikalmatta, another stony and bone-wrenching drive away, but well worth it for the fabulous views. I was forcefully reminded of the many LOTR landscapes in New Zealand - yes that's how beautiful it was!!!
Maybe I've said it before but I'll say it again. The more I travel across India, the more convinced I get that there is truly no country on Earth as beautiful as ours. We were unmatched in both the gorgeousness and the diversity of our landscapes.

We stopped to gape at the temples in Halebidu on the way back to home sweet home, and a hurried Deepavali celebration which consisted of hanging thorans, and lighting clay lamps and candles. Our green warrior Ads was most happy to be out of the noisy Diwali celebrations in our community and not have to watch people bursting crackers!

Saturday 9 November 2013

A new feeling, this.

It's the morning of Y's birthday party and S is puzzled. Isn't it time you were getting stressed? He asks me. Wonder of wonders, I must be getting good at this gig because this is the first time ever that I have not been stressed over a birthday party. Experience tells, I guess :) The decorations are up (all except the balloons), cake ordered, games and meal planned, party favours sorted out and I don't have that niggling feeling that I have missed out on something! All this for the biggest crowd ever - we have 16 kids and 10 adults arriving today, not including the four of us and my parents-in-law.
And I love that after today, I can put up my feet for the next 9 months :) Yay for that!

Thursday 7 November 2013

Y turns 5

Y turned 5 years old this week. It was very bittersweet. I was (and still am, slightly) depressed. It feels like the end of something – childhood? Can't be - not yet, surely! Babyhood? Certainly, yes. She gets leggier and sassier by the day and I don’t like it. I miss the soft baby curls. When she lisps or mispronounces words (very rare these days), my heart flips over. Yet...yet...she still has those luscious baby cheeks and her very own babyish smell. She still looks pitifully small when she leaves me to climb onto the school bus. Her eyes still light up when she spots me at pickup time. She starts talking the minute she is off the bus and does not stop for the next 8 hours :)
Maybe I have some more time to savour her babyhood before she becomes a big girl!
She has been unadulterated delight from the day she was born. I’m probably jinxing myself right here by saying this, but the last five years have been a breeze. She was an easy infant, an easy toddler who potty-trained herself at 2 years and an absolute pleasurable kid now. There have been no tantrums, no fuss, no hang-ups. Ok, now, what’s the catch??!!! There’s gotta be one! She’s a confident kid but a little shy and reserved in public. She goes to a toddler singing class and learns freestyle dance. From being that kid who couldn’t string two sentences together in English, she now speaks the language confidently (much to my dismay, Tamil is falling by the wayside).
I remember the sheer happiness glistening through the tears in S’s eyes when he held his daughter for the first time. I felt somewhat the same when her birthday came around this year. Happy-sad is what Y calls it! "Amma are you happy-sad?" She asks me atleast once every day. Of course the answer always has to be "I'm Happy!
She makes my day when she clings to me and yells (and this happens every day) – YOU. ARE. SO. HUGGA. BLE.  AND. SO. KISS. ABLE. I. CAN. NOT. BELIEVE. IT!!!
Happy birthday, little-big girl. As much as I would like to freeze time, I will let you go with the promise of the best years still to come.