Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Goodbye 2013 – Wishing all readers of my blog a happy 2014. Grand children,barbeque,K Gudi Jungle Lodge and other stories

2013 was well spent, travelling overseas to Spain and Portugal. Within the country, we went to Chikmagaluru, Coonoor, Nainital and Ranikhet in pursuit of Golf. We went to Gurgaon and Mumbai for weddings. Regular outings provide the much needed solace to the soul. My take on the subject of travelling is –‘Travel Often’. Travel helps your mind to remain healthy and fresh – it is akin to sending your trousers to the dry cleaners. At the end of the sojourn, one feels relaxed and raring to go. Travelling gives you an opportunity to unwind, bond with friends, explore new cultures and the list is endless. Choose a place depending upon your purse, health and convenience and push off. If you knees are not on talking terms with the rest of your body, choose a place which involves the least amount of walking. Go to a hill resort and enjoy the view or sit by the beach and watch the never ending motion of the waves and so on – one must travel.

Come December, it’s time for a family reunion and bonding with our grandchildren.

Figure 1 – Family reunion – 31 Dec/01 Jan

Book readers are an endangered species. In the context of the internet, TV and instant entertainment, there are hardly any takers for reading books. The pace of life around us is also extremely fast. Adults and children alike find it difficult to spend long periods of time in reading books. As against the passive entertainment of watching TV, reading provides a platform for the imagination and creative thinking. A child’s education is not complete without reading a few classics.

Ayaan and Samara have started reading books – in the present day context; this development is certainly a gift from God. Reading is the cheapest form of edutainment. No other hobby can provide this high level of personal satisfaction. They devour Geronimo Stiltons faster than we can buy them. Books by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl are extremely popular. Reading books has always been a cherished pastime with all of us in the family. We enjoy reading. The children have imbibed this truly wonderful habit. It gives me immense pleasure in seeing Ayaan reading a book at 6.30 am all by himself.
Apart from many PG Wodehouse creations, I enjoyed reading Ramachandra Guha’s ‘India after Gandhi’ and ‘Patriots & Partisans’. I also enjoyed reading ‘Maximum City’ by Suketu Mehta. Unlike the earlier days when I could get through a Frederick Forsyth or a Tom Clancy in a day or two, my appetite for reading has slowed down. Between golf, walks, blogging, forays into the kitchen, a bit of afternoon Zzzzzzz and social commitments – I have to really push myself to read. I have decided to reorganize my personal time more carefully and set aside some time for reading. Hopefully 2014 will be a better year for me – book wise.

The twins, Agastya and Aarin are growing up real fast. Even at three years each fellow’s personality is different and unique. They are busy exploring the world of I Pad and playing games. Agastya has moved on from being Spider Man to T Rex and Aarin from Super Man to baby Eagle with his nest in Singapore with a ladder to climb down and as he is small he has no wings and cannot fly. He also says that baby eagles love sausages J (his favourite food!)

When all the four GC meet, the scene is explosive and the place looks like a tornado has hit it. But nobody cares! Time passes very quickly for both the parties – us and them. Before you know it, it’s time to hit the bed. One thing is for sure, their energy is on the ascendancy and ours is waning. They are a bundle of joy and their stay always gives us immense pleasure.

This year the accent was on nature, conservation, pollution, the environment etc. Samara took the lead in organizing a ’Save Nature’ campaign. They made posters, watered plants and generally kept themselves busy throughout the day. Saanika and Sambhav, our neighbour’s children also joined the campaign.

Figure 2 By Saanika and Samara

Figure 3 - By Ayaan and Sambhav

This year too we had the traditional X’mas barbeque. Lots of our close friends and relatives came along. Vivek and Akhila’s friends joined us in large numbers. There’s a special flavour attached to any barbeque party –good friends, open air, fire, smell of chicken and burning wood generates a spirit of merriment. This year, I marinated some of the chicken in red wine, red chili powder, honey, lime and salt. I later on used Tabasco and Worchestishire sauce along with Olive oil for basting.

Figure 4 – Father and son combo

On 26th Dec we conducted our annual Satyanarayana Pooja. My daughter Akhila has given me the task of decoding rituals such as Ganesh Pooja to render it understandable, meaningful and interesting. It is a very huge task indeed. Presently, we find ourselves just going through the motions without understanding very much. Both the adults and the young find it difficult to sit through the entire proceedings. There is an urgent need to juxtapose our rituals in the present context. My earlier blog also dwells on the same aspect.

On 28th Dec we left for K.Gudi (Kyathadevarayana Gudi) Wilderness Camp run by Jungle Lodges which is located in the Biligiri Rangana Hill (BR Hill), Karnataka. We covered a distance of 240 Km from JVV via Mysore, Nanjangud and Chamarajanagar to the camp. One can also reach the camp via Kanakpura and Malavalli. It took us approximately 7hrs to reach the place after halts for breakfast and nature calls. The roads are in a very good state throughout. The game reserve covers an area of 547 Sq kms. It is a unique blend of wildlife sanctuary and hill station, set 3500 to 6000 ft above sea level. The weather is very cold especially during the early hours of the morning and at night. A warm jacket is a must. The reserve boasts of 33 tigers, 75 leopards, 600 to 700 elephants and 300 different species of birds.

Figure 5 – Along the drive

This region has been the home of the semi-nomadic Soliga tribe. Close to the camp there is a”Kanyara colony,” housing a few tribals.

The camp is rustic, with bare essentials and merges well with the local flora and fauna. Fortunately there is no TV, radio, music and other such gadgets to remind us of urban living. Electricity is available only for a short duration in the morning and in the evening. Hot water is provided on request in buckets. A kerosene lamp illuminates the path ways and the tent. We stayed in a tented accommodation overlooking the forest. All combined, the camp provides an excellent setting for a holiday in the wilderness.

Figure 6 – The tented accommodation. Surprisingly, there are no mosquitoes.

Figure 7 – Relaxing

Figure 8 – Anirban with Ayaan and Aarin outside the dining hut

Figure 9 – A good catch

There are two safaris each day, one in the morning at 0620am and one in the evening starting at 1520pm. The safari lasts for two and a half hours in an open jeep with the driver acting as a forest guide. The safari criss crosses the kuccha roads within the forest and stops by a popular watering hole where one can expect to sight the big cats. All along the children behaved excellently and they indulged in jungle talk – soft whispers – throughout the safari. We sighted the usual elephants, wild boar, gaur, spotted deer, sambhar and barking deer. We also sighted pond terrapin turtles, straight neck mongoose and the malabar giant squirrel. The big cats remained elusive ; however one safari sighted two tigers in the watering hole, while another spotted a leopard crossing the road. We had to be content with hearing the tiger’s roar on the first day.

Figure 10 – All our sightings - Gaur

Figure 11 – Lone tusker

Unlike other forests, the thick undergrowth makes it difficult to spot any game. Akhila was really good at spotting a lone tusker in the distance. The forest is full of greenery at this time of the year. The ‘stand density’ in this forest appears to be very high.

Figure 12 - Sambhar

Figure 13 – Spotted deer

Figure 14 – Ready to charge at us

Figure 15 – Crested arch eagle

Figure 16 – Tiger paw marks. Marking its territory.

Figure 17 - Turtles

Figure 18 – High ‘Stand Density’

Figure 19 – Cancerous growth

Figure 20 – Woodpecker’s home

Figure 21 – Another example of cancerous growth

Figure 22 - Sunrise

The forest is a birder’s paradise. We sighted an indian pond heron, malabar parquet, jungle babbler, king fisher, rufous babbler, bulbul red vented, red-whiskered bulbul, malabar whistling thrush, gray wag tail, woodpecker plain back, streak throated woodpecker, crested serpent eagle, crested arch eagle, common rosefinch, wagtail, grey jungle fowl, tree pipit, hill myna etc.
The food is basic but tasty. The service is good with a host of polite and helpful lodge staff in attendance.

Jai was busy throughout the year with ‘Freedom International School’ year they conducted an excellent FIS Fest. It was very well received.

Vivek and Shubhra continue to enjoy their work. Google was looking for companies that had a “compelling business, web and human story in order to create a video. Chumbak was selected to be a part of this activity on how companies worldwide used ‘Google Services’. Chumbak was one of the 3 companies worldwide to be selected. is a very tall achievement indeed. . They have increased their range of products and have added their own stores in Bangalore and Delhi.

Akhila with all her responsibilities at home has found time to involve herself in the field of education. She has gained expertise in the field of curriculum frame working and also assists Angel Xpress Foundation - A unique non-profit organization which works for the progress of underprivileged children. It makes education accessible to street children by setting up schools on the streets.

Anirban continues to be busy with He figured in the Hindustan Times, “People who are in positions to change the way we live, think, work and play in India”. Power to youth.Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 03, 2012.
I have got involved with 3G in a big way – Golf, Grand Children and God. Apart from Golf - gardening, blogging and cooking continue to occupy my time. I have had some big culinary achievements in the past year. I have posted some more interesting recipes in my blog

We celebrated the New Year at home with the immediate family. We lit a bonfire and sat around it ushering in the New Year - good music, drinks and food inclusive. During the day children were kept busy collecting dry twigs for the bon fire. They had a wonderful time running around and playing.

Figure 23 – Jai ushering in 2014

Figure 24 – Akhila preparing fools caps

Figure 25 – Bonfire about to be lit

Figure 26 – Shubs very happy with 2013

At 12pm sharp, we lit a paper lamp and let it soar into the sky. The lamp took away 2013 and shed light on us, ushering 2014 in. 

Another year has come to a close.We look forward to a new year with lots of hope and anticipation.My family and I wish all the readers of 'Samundarbaba' a vey happy 2014 - may god bless you and your family with good health and cheer.

Travel more,read a lot and conserve nature.

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