A Photo a Week Challenge: From Below

Early this month we had been to three hill stations in the foothills of the Himalayas. From every place we could see the mountain ranges and the tall trees from the roads below. They are fascinating.

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Rudradhaari temple and falls (36)

A Photo a Week Challenge: From Below

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Vacation in the Hills-2 (Slice of Life)

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22-06-18

Dear Doddamma,

Today I made jackfruit dosa . Last Sunday, on the 17th, in my father-in-law’s elder brother’s home,  a special puja called ‘devarige oppisuvudu ’ puje wasperformed by my husband’s cousin. This is a tradition followed by many families in our community. My father-in-law is 93 and he too does not know when this tradition was started or why. Jackfruit dosa is made only after the puja performed on a day according to the Hindu calendar. The jackfruits in our tree are small to medium size. It is a blessing.

I will continue about our trip doddamma. When we got to Haldwani, the boy who had helped us so much, Nitin Kandpal helped us to engage a taxi to Almora. As we got down from the taxi from Gadh Mukteshwar in UP, three taxi drivers came running towards us asking us to come in their taxi. There are share taxis in which each passenger has to pay Rs 250. We paid Rs 1000 and engaged the taxi for ourselves. Our driver, Kailash Kandpal seemed to be a nice person. He reminded us of Keshto Mukherji 😊. He is from Almora.

We started at 10.30. On the way we purchased some plums, lichis  and peaches, they were so juicy. They are in season now. We were feeling hungry after our long and eventful night  and ate some of the fruits!! Kailash stopped at a small hotel called Borra canteen. It was on a hill side, we could see the mountain ranges. But, during these months we cannot see the Himalayan peaks due to the mist. We had Aloo paratha with curds and sabji and also tea and pakoras. They were very tasty.

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We passed Bhimtaal, a beautiful lake, on the way. There are many legends associated with the Pandavas and the lake. We reached Almora at about 2o’clock. Kailash could not take the car right to the entrance of the hotel as it was on a one-way road. We climbed the hill to Shivalik hotel dragging our suitcases behind us,  luckily they had wheels.

We rested for a while and at 5.30 we went for a walk along the Bazaar mall road, very near our hotel. It is a narrow road with shops on both sides and  is the heart of the town. It is quite fascinating to watch people. We walked for more than half an hour and then turned back. It started drizzling and then pouring. We took shelter in front of a shop. The shopkeeper asked us where we had come from. When we replied we were from Karnataka he told us both his children were working in Bangalore. The rain stopped and we walked back to the hotel. We ordered our dinner and  food was very tasty. We retired for the day, it had been a long one because of the bus break down.

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The next  morning, ­­­­­­our driver, came at 8’o clock. We were ready, we did not breakfast in the hotel. We told him we would like to eat on the way. We first stopped at CHITAI GOLUDEVTA TEMPLE

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This is a very old temple. Over the years people have hung bells everywhere in the temple as ‘wish fulfilling ’. Along with these bells there are hundreds of letters written to God. I read quite a few of them, some have asked for the strength to look after their parents, others for the well being of their family and yet others for a good job. We don’t know what happens to the bells. One Panditji told us that the bells are just stored in a room when they fall off. They are not auctioned off.

We enjoyed talking to Kailash, he was telling us a lot about the lives of the people there. There are villages everywhere in the valleys and hills far away from the main roads. People from those villages have to walk many miles to procure their daily necessities from the shops. Women work hard and carry heavy loads on their  heads. Children have to walk a lot to reach their schools and after work they help their parents in household work. Our driver said that in their household they consume 20kgs of wheat and 15 kgs of rice every month. They get from the ration shop and also from open market. People eat a lot of potatoes.

We saw many walls made of stones just like the ones in and around Neerchal but here the stones are flat ones. They are placed on top of each other without cement. At one place we stopped to fill water from a natural spring. A pipe was fixed to the source, we can fill water through it. The pipe is twisted at the open end to prevent wastage of water.

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At 9.15 we had breakfast in a small hillside hotel. We love the aloo parathas here. They are so tasty.

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We then proceeded to JAGESHWAR TEMPLES, about 45 kms from Almora. It is a Hindu pilgrimage town and one of the Dhams. There are about 124 temples, some big and many very small. All of them are made from slate stones. These temples look so different and unique. All the smaller temples have a Shivalinga in them. There is a lot of positive energy in the place with tall trees surrounding the temples and a river flowing nearby. In the main temple we offered prayers and did abhisheka to the Shivalinga. We felt very happy that we could get to see the place.

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There is a small museum too with many small sculptures dating back to the 10th century. Most of them are of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Looking at the faces of the sculptures of goddesses it seemed as though the artists had made them after the appearance of local women. When we went from Almora to Kausani this hunch was confirmed when I saw the local women.

After getting into the taxi, Kailash told us about the strike by taxi drivers. He too had not known that it was serious. The strike was about the use and cost of speed governors in all taxis. We had planned to go to Katarmal Sun temple but cancelled it. Instead we went to the nearby BRIJ JAGESHWAR TEMPLE. It is a very old one.

On our way back to our driver was hoping that we would be able to reach Almora without any problem.  At about 1.45 in a place called Punvanaulla we were stopped by the strikers and they told the driver to park on one side of the road. At about 2.40 we were allowed to move on. While waiting, a taxi from Rajasthan came, it was stopped and some argument was going on. At last they were allowed to go when a police vehicle appeared on the scene. Unfortunately, some of the strikers were quite drunk. Later Kailash told us one of them told him if he gave money for a bottle of liquor he would allow us to go on. But he said he would neither drink nor offer drink as bribe. When we were about 16 kms from Almora we were stopped but only for 5 minutes.

It was 3.30 and we were 5 kms from Almora when Kailash stopped the car and told us to get down and sit inside a small hotel nearby. He said the strikers ahead would definitely not allow us to go on and they may become violent with him too for not taking part in the strike. He was not sure when we would be allowed to go on. He said there was a shortcut to the town but the hotel owner said it might take us an hour or so to reach the hotel. We paid him the money and started walking towards Almora. We enjoyed the walk and reached the hotel at 4.45. Quite an eventful day. Kailash had told us about a good hotel near the bus stand. At about six we walked to Hotel Bhumika. Here food is prepared after we order, everything is very fresh. It was very tasty and the old man who served us was very happy when we appreciated the cooking.

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On our way back to the hotel we asked about the bus to Kausani, our next destination. More in my next letter doddamma.

We went to Maikuri on Sunday. Mava is fine. Amma had been in Goplamava’s house. She came to Maikuri with Shama from Mareel. We all returned to Manipal by 5.30. Aravinda is having vacations till July 11th. He is busy reading and writing an article which he has to submit before July 1st.

With lots of love,

Lakshmi

Vacation in the Hills -1

21-06-18

Dear Doddamma,

We returned yesterday (20th June) from Nainital. Earlier we had been to Kausani and Almora. We left Manipal on the 11th morning at 9.30 to Bangalore. I don’t remember when we last went to Bangalore by the day bus. We passed Puttur, Madikeri and Chennarayapatna and Adichunchanagiri, the Shiradi ghat route is closed. This is a longer route. In many places we see fields for miles and a hamlet and then fields again. In our place this is not so. Houses and fields are together.

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We reached Kuvara’s (my husband) cousin’s house in Rajajinagar at 8 o’clock.

On the 12th morning after breakfast we went by Uber taxi to the airport. The driver, Gundu, was talking non-stop. He was enjoying himself and we were getting a lot of interesting information. His name in his ID card is written as Gunda ( In India a hooligan or a ruffian is called gunda), and because of this he faced a lot of problems. He had to run about a lot to get the spelling mistake corrected. Then one passenger told him a name is just a name after all, why worry about it. Now he has stopped trying to get the spelling corrected. 😊   Our aeroplane to Delhi took off at 11.20. I like looking at the clouds below us. It is always fascinating.  The sunrays on the wing of the plane took me to another world.

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We reached Delhi at 1.45. After collecting our luggage we proceeded towards the Delhi Airport Express metro. We were in Delhi after nearly twenty years. We had booked a hotel room for a few hours as our bus to our next destination, Haldwani, in the state of Uttarakhand was only at 9.30 in the night. Our hotel was not far from Chelmsford Road and State Entry Road where we had lived in the railway quarters. Doddamma, there have been so many changes in Manipal in the last thirty years, we were expecting a lot of changes in Delhi too. The changes saddened me. Seeing the houses were we had lived and the garden in the centre of Connaught place made me feel sick. There was stillness in spite of the traffic, the stillness of death and not of life. The pollution was so bad that even the sun could not penetrate through the smoke and dust. And this was the place where forty years ago we used to come for a walk most evenings with ajja  (grandfather). The high temperature and the pollution seemed to be draining life from us. We were very hungry and asked a girl about a simple eating place nearby. She was very nice, she told an auto driver to take us to a nearby dhaba (a small hotel). The roti and dal were very tasty.

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We walked back to the hotel, had a bath and left for the bus station in another auto. It took us nearly an hour. The driver was telling us about Delhi and how it had changed over the years. He said the pollution was much less now !! I cannot even imagine how it could have been earlier. Anand Vihar bus station was very crowded. I think living in a small place has spoiled us. 

Our bus left at 10. The coach was not a good one and the AC was not functioning. Many of the passengers were getting angry and scolding the conductor.  He too got angry and said ,compared with the outside temperature, it was cooler inside !!

A young passenger, Nitin, sitting next to Kuvara was very nice. We got talking. He works in Noida and was going to his home town in Bhimtaal in the hills. Taal means lake in the Kumaoni language.  At about 12, the driver stopped the bus and said a belt in the engine had broken. We waited there for nearly two hours. It was near a petrol station, all the passengers got down, it was so hot inside. Another passenger, Divansh, had studied in Manipal, he came and talked to us. He had seen Aravinda in his department.  A strange situation, some of us getting to know each other middle of the night.

 

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After two hours we started again. When it was nearing 4, some of the passengers started saying they could smell something burning. All of us got down and removed our luggage. We were near a place called Gadh Mukteshwar. It was nearing 4 and many auto rickshaws were going by. All of us went to the nearest bus stand. The buses coming there were full and we had more than four hours of journey left. We, Nitin and one more passenger hired a taxi to Haldwani. We reached the place at about 10. A very eventful journey indeed. Nitin helped us a lot, without him it would have been very difficult for us. Some people come into our lives unexpectedly and become a part of our memories.  In Haldwani, he arranged a taxi for us to go to Almora.

More in my next letter doddamma. Our landline is not working properly. I will call as soon as it is repaired. I just got a message from Nitin that Uttarakhand Road transport had refunded some money to his account.

With lots of love,

Lakshmi

 

 “We

  Started

  Vacations

  On a good note.

  It was not raining

  The bus arrived on time

  Our journey to Bangalore

  Took us through different places

  Villages and towns we had not seen

  Day long journey but not a boring one.”  (Etheree poem)

[ My letters to my Doddamma (my father’s elder brother’s wife, my favourite relative have helped me to keep an account of my daily life. Everyday-life need not be exciting, but they make us what we are. My doddamma too enjoys my letters. She is 87 and I cannot tell her everything on the phone. I send her photos along with the mail, her daughter-in-law or her son read them to her and show her the photos. The internet has changed our lives so much. We can keep in touch with our near and dear ones, if we want to. 😊 I have made some changes while posting in Slice of Life. ]

“Sunrays on the wing
 Reflected the light above,
 While the clouds beneath
 Told us we were far away
 From Mother Earth below us.” (Tanka)

 

 

 

Letter from Home-20 (Slice of Life)

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[My mother is with us now. She will be here till September. She was diagnosed Lymphoma in December. Fortunately she has responded well to Chemotherapy and her doctor is satisfied with the results. My mails are to my father’s elder brother’s wife. I call her doddamma which literally means elder mother. She is my favourite relative. From her I have learnt to take life as it comes. She is 87 now and due to her health condition she has not been able to go out from her home for many years. I started writing to her in October. Her son or daughter-in-law read it out to her and she enjoys the photos. The internet has really changed our lives. It has helped us to keep in contact with our friends and relatives. ]

4-6-18
Dear Doddamma,
We are all fine here. Amma is doing asanas and pranayamas at home in the morning at 11. They have given her a printout of what has been taught to her. She reads them as she starts. I sit nearby telling her if she forgets. We had been to Maikuri (where my father-in-law and brother-in-law live) yesterday. Mava and Keshava are fine. Vishweshwara Hegde and Jayanti (the couple who live there to cook and help in other ways ) were not there, they had gone to attend a function. They might return today and or tomorrow. The wild mangoes are getting over. We got some. Kuvara went and picked all that had fallen. There is a big mango tree in the yard. One big branch broke and fell, fortunately there was no one nearby.

Maikuri 3rd (5)

On the 29th there were heavy rains whole of coastal area of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada and Kerala too. This was due to cyclone Mekunu. It was raining with thunder and lightning but we did not experience any problem. But there was a lot of problem in Mangalore. In Maikuri, in the areca garden there is a natural pond in which over the years all children learnt swimming. When Advaith was just two he enjoyed playing in the waterfall from the kere to the lower level. Keshava told me that pond was full and overflowing on the 29th and 30th. Water from the upper levels had filled it but now it is dry. The weather is slowly changing now and by 10th the monsoon season will start.

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( this was three years ago 🙂 )

Last week we went to see Kuvara’s cousin Gopala. He is in the hospital due to many problems. It has been diagnosed as auto immune disease. He is slowly recovering. He explained to me about this disease. He was working in the Biochemistry department and retired last year. Now there is a solution to it, earlier it was not diagnosed.

Every evening we go for a walk either around Manipal lake or in the grounds of the Syndicate bank training college. In both places amma gets to meet other ladies and talk to them while we walk some more. Manipal lake was the place where more than 45 years ago mud was removed to make tiles in the time factory. For many years water used to fill in that place. No one used to go there. But about ten years ago the area of the lake was widened and even the depth in the centre was increased. Pipes were inserted at regular intevals in the sides for water to flow in. The walking track was laid, about two kms around the lake. By August the water reaches the brim and by May it goes down a lot but does not dry completely.

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Doddamma, our front compound wall had becom a little weak. We called the masons to repair it. Our neighbour had got our house built. We shifted here from the campus in 2005. He told us about it otherwise we would not have known. He is a professor in the engineering college and he used to get houses built. It was very convenient for us and his team have done a very good job. We have not faced any problems. Touchwood 😊 I don’t know if I have told you that appa planned our house. His presence is always with us.
Amma will be going to Puttur on the 9th for about ten days. She will be back on the 20th or 21st.

Advaith and Kavya are fine. Kavya moves about in the room. When Advaith tells her to clap hands she claps hands. We see and talk to them almost everyday. Last week they had been to a strawberry farm. They can pick strawberries and buy them. Advaith enjoyed himself a lot. Kavya crushed a small fruit and looked surpised to see the juice in her palms. 😊

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With lots of love,
Lakshmi

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Letter from Home-20 (Slice of Life)

 

Life moves on

My mother is learning yoga and one day recently she told her instructor that she cannot walk like she used to. She has slowed down and has no work at all. The young instructor said that was the rule of life, the law (niyama) which God has made. Each stage in life is different, and it is not possible for us to do the same things in the same ways throughout life. How true her words were. Wise words from the young.

My mind goes back to November last year. I was with my daughter for 2 ½ months. Our granddaughter was born on November 10th.  Now she has completed six months. We are seeing changes in her everyday. She rolls across the floor and is also moving forwards. This first year in life is such a fascinating time. Our grandson will soon be five. He is changing every day but those changes are not so obvious. The other day my mother told a relative that she has to use a walking stick now. He said this was another stage in life. He believed childhood was the best time. So true. But it is a tragic truth of life that countless children do not have a childhood at all.

Life moves on, and so much keeps changing. Many a time we are not even aware of the changes. Maybe we change with the changes, and we accept life as it comes. My father-in-law is 93 now. He was always been a very active person, always on the move. He has lived all his life in a village and is an agriculturist. He worked hard along with the farmworkers and spent all his working life standing and moving about in the fields and areca gardens never sitting down to rest. But that stage of life is now in the past. Life has slowed down a lot for him. Looking at him I wonder “does he wish for those days to come back?” A few years ago he was with us for about three weeks. Every afternoon we used to sit in the front porch and talk about the old days. I wrote everything down and prepared a series of Facebook posts. Many of our relatives enjoyed his reminiscences. He said life has changed a lot, people in his times never imagined it would change so much. But he never hankered after those days. Some people do.

One of our acquaintances lives in the past when she lived in another city. She is always lamenting about the passing away of those days. I get the feeling living in the past has made it very difficult for her to be in the present. It seems so tragic.

Every stage in life is very different and there are so many changes; some of them take us by surprise; others, we willingly leave behind.

“Every stage in life
Takes us forward everyday
Till we reach the end.
We can live in the present
Or worry about the past.”

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