Hornbill Holiday – Part 1

Corn on the Cob Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, medical even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost. Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, medical even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost.
Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, pills even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, more about corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, drugs homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost. Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, medical even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost.
Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, pills even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, more about corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, drugs homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost.
Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, viagra dosage even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, ask corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost. Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, medical even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost.
Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, pills even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, more about corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, drugs homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost.
Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, viagra dosage even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, ask corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost.
Nexus One

Nexus One

A few weeks ago, global burden of disease I was stocking up on victuals at our local green grocer's, help which goes by the grandiose name of Veerabhadra Vegetables. Veerabhadra Vegetables is by no means a mean place - on the main road from Kothaguda to Miyapur, its location opposite Shilpa Park gives it a strategic advantage that the grocer has turned into an excuse for the most alarming (to outsiders) Nawabi attitude. It is also this that endears him to all his customers, me included. Wasn't this the guy who looked at the awesome-looking Force India t-shirt (to buy which I spent a small fortune) I was wearing and complimented me on how it looked, and in the same breath said how lucky I must be to work for a company that made such nice shirts? Apparently all the logos on the t-shirt made made it look like it was a company shirt and not something anyone would pay for. But I digress. It was a couple of weeks ago and my re-victualling was taking some time as for some reason there was a bit of a crowd - a couple of noisy local housewives, a gaggle of grandmothers and a loud Haryanvi youth screaming into his cellphone were before me, and I had to wait. I could not help but wonder what would happen if I reached over, took the phone from the aforementioned youth and switched it off. His relative in Haryana would have no trouble hearing him even without the phone - he was talking so loudly - but he would have been annoyed, and as he was evidently more familiar with the gym than me, I desisted. After standing around waiting idly for a grand total of about two minutes, I took out my beloved Nexus One and was about to create a listing for Veerabhadra Vegetables on Foursquare when I felt someone looking over my shoulder. I turned around to find myself gazing into the nut-brown eyes of a swarthy local lad, stout of frame and youthful of countenance, who was trying to steal a glance at the screen of my Nexus One. I could not help but notice the puny device he held in his hand - probably a MicroMax, Lava or even an unfortunately-named Lemon. Feeling rather smug and superior, I turned a bit so that he could see tha amazing 3.7 inch display of my Nexus One, and was flicking through pictures in my Gallery looking for a really dazzling one when I heard the aforementioned swarthy local youth make some comment to me about how big it was. The following conversation, brief though it was, was in Hindi - my broken, Doordarshan-inspired, Hafeezpet-honed Hindi to the swarthy local youth's Hyderabadi Hindi that would make anyone from outside the former Nizam's dominions cry. Since my Hindi is broken at best, and my recall of it is patchy, I'll present the conversation to you in English. For convenience's sake, we'll call the swarthy local youth SLY. SLY: That's a really big screen... Me: Yeah it is. It's a very good phone. SLY: I'm sure it is. How much is it for? Me: I don't know - maybe 30,000 or 35,000 rupees? SLY: You don't know? Me: No - my company gave it to me free of cost. SLY: Oh. Me: [Grinning - still trying to figure out what awesome feature of the Nexus One to bedazzle the SLY with] SLY: [Looking pointedly at his small phone] Does it have FM radio? Me: [A bit taken aback] No. SLY: [Looking more cheerful and confident] Dual SIM? Me: [Starting to feel a bit numb] No SLY: [On top of the world now] Oh. It's also too big. No wonder they gave it free to you. With that he turned around and walked off to his cart, from which he had been unloading vegetables into the shop. What happened after that, I have no recollection of - just the mind-numbing certainty that my Nexus One, simply the most awesome piece of technology I have ever owned, had been bested in a brief conversation by the MicroMax/Lava/Lemon of the vegetable boy who supplied beerakkai to Veerabhadra Vegetables. And no, I still haven't created a listing for Veerabhadra Vegetables on Foursquare. But if you ever do, be sure that I will snatch Mayorship from you in a matter of days! Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, medical even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost.
Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, pills even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, more about corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, drugs homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost.
Corn on the Cob

Corn on the Cob

We had corn on the cob today, viagra dosage even though it was not raining! For some strange reason, ask corn on the cob and rains seem to belong together. When we were growing up, homemade corn was always boiled, either in a pressure cooker or in a closed vessel, and seasoned with salt. This was seasonal, and was available only once or twice a year. When it was the corn season, it was always quite a family affair - cleaning the corn and preparing it to be boiled, waiting around the dining table for it to be done, getting it out and cutting it up into manageable pieces before finally polishing it off. The only place you would get corn on the cob roasted on live coals was when you visited hill stations, where it was sold initially on the lakeshores and eventually everywhere. The seller would fire up the coals using a rotating bellows and roast the corn on the glowing coals. Once it was done, they would season it by rubbing it with a piece of lemon dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder. This gave it a flavour all its own. The cold of the hill station, the fine mist of hill rain, ducking under the plastic sheets that covered the corn stall and waiting while your corn was being roasted - eating corn on the cob was definitely an unforgettable experience. And then, suddenly, the seasonality died. Corn was available everywhere, all the time. You got American corn, which was sweeter and more succulent. You could get boiled or roasted corn everywhere - even on the beaches of Madras - any time of the year. And suddenly, corn on the cob lost its magic. Coming to Hyderabad, we are somehow once again in the grip of seasons. Outside the department stores, the seasonality plays out as usual. The mango season, the watermelon season, the corn season - each of this is heralded by vendors on pushcarts selling them for a fraction of the prices you'd pay for them at a supermarket. Today's corn on the cob was from a chap with a pushcart. He did not have fancy bellows to fan his coals - he used an old-fashioned hand-fan woven from palm leaves. In the middle of his card was an iron dish supported by stones. On this was heaped a pile of live coals. After stripping away the outer cvering of the corn, he placed it on the coals and fanned them furiously, causing the coals to glow and the corns to sputter. He took his time with the corns, making sure they were thoroughly roasted before doing the seasoning with the lemon, salt and chilli powder. Unfortunately we had to bring it home before we could eat it - so a bit of the heat was lost. But the taste definitely brought back memories - of childhood, of tastes and smells and feelings from long ago, and of a past as precious as it is lost.
Nexus One

Nexus One

A few weeks ago, global burden of disease I was stocking up on victuals at our local green grocer's, help which goes by the grandiose name of Veerabhadra Vegetables. Veerabhadra Vegetables is by no means a mean place - on the main road from Kothaguda to Miyapur, its location opposite Shilpa Park gives it a strategic advantage that the grocer has turned into an excuse for the most alarming (to outsiders) Nawabi attitude. It is also this that endears him to all his customers, me included. Wasn't this the guy who looked at the awesome-looking Force India t-shirt (to buy which I spent a small fortune) I was wearing and complimented me on how it looked, and in the same breath said how lucky I must be to work for a company that made such nice shirts? Apparently all the logos on the t-shirt made made it look like it was a company shirt and not something anyone would pay for. But I digress. It was a couple of weeks ago and my re-victualling was taking some time as for some reason there was a bit of a crowd - a couple of noisy local housewives, a gaggle of grandmothers and a loud Haryanvi youth screaming into his cellphone were before me, and I had to wait. I could not help but wonder what would happen if I reached over, took the phone from the aforementioned youth and switched it off. His relative in Haryana would have no trouble hearing him even without the phone - he was talking so loudly - but he would have been annoyed, and as he was evidently more familiar with the gym than me, I desisted. After standing around waiting idly for a grand total of about two minutes, I took out my beloved Nexus One and was about to create a listing for Veerabhadra Vegetables on Foursquare when I felt someone looking over my shoulder. I turned around to find myself gazing into the nut-brown eyes of a swarthy local lad, stout of frame and youthful of countenance, who was trying to steal a glance at the screen of my Nexus One. I could not help but notice the puny device he held in his hand - probably a MicroMax, Lava or even an unfortunately-named Lemon. Feeling rather smug and superior, I turned a bit so that he could see tha amazing 3.7 inch display of my Nexus One, and was flicking through pictures in my Gallery looking for a really dazzling one when I heard the aforementioned swarthy local youth make some comment to me about how big it was. The following conversation, brief though it was, was in Hindi - my broken, Doordarshan-inspired, Hafeezpet-honed Hindi to the swarthy local youth's Hyderabadi Hindi that would make anyone from outside the former Nizam's dominions cry. Since my Hindi is broken at best, and my recall of it is patchy, I'll present the conversation to you in English. For convenience's sake, we'll call the swarthy local youth SLY. SLY: That's a really big screen... Me: Yeah it is. It's a very good phone. SLY: I'm sure it is. How much is it for? Me: I don't know - maybe 30,000 or 35,000 rupees? SLY: You don't know? Me: No - my company gave it to me free of cost. SLY: Oh. Me: [Grinning - still trying to figure out what awesome feature of the Nexus One to bedazzle the SLY with] SLY: [Looking pointedly at his small phone] Does it have FM radio? Me: [A bit taken aback] No. SLY: [Looking more cheerful and confident] Dual SIM? Me: [Starting to feel a bit numb] No SLY: [On top of the world now] Oh. It's also too big. No wonder they gave it free to you. With that he turned around and walked off to his cart, from which he had been unloading vegetables into the shop. What happened after that, I have no recollection of - just the mind-numbing certainty that my Nexus One, simply the most awesome piece of technology I have ever owned, had been bested in a brief conversation by the MicroMax/Lava/Lemon of the vegetable boy who supplied beerakkai to Veerabhadra Vegetables. And no, I still haven't created a listing for Veerabhadra Vegetables on Foursquare. But if you ever do, be sure that I will snatch Mayorship from you in a matter of days!
Nexus One

Nexus One

A few weeks ago, global burden of disease I was stocking up on victuals at our local green grocer's, help which goes by the grandiose name of Veerabhadra Vegetables. Veerabhadra Vegetables is by no means a mean place - on the main road from Kothaguda to Miyapur, its location opposite Shilpa Park gives it a strategic advantage that the grocer has turned into an excuse for the most alarming (to outsiders) Nawabi attitude. It is also this that endears him to all his customers, me included. Wasn't this the guy who looked at the awesome-looking Force India t-shirt (to buy which I spent a small fortune) I was wearing and complimented me on how it looked, and in the same breath said how lucky I must be to work for a company that made such nice shirts? Apparently all the logos on the t-shirt made made it look like it was a company shirt and not something anyone would pay for. But I digress. It was a couple of weeks ago and my re-victualling was taking some time as for some reason there was a bit of a crowd - a couple of noisy local housewives, a gaggle of grandmothers and a loud Haryanvi youth screaming into his cellphone were before me, and I had to wait. I could not help but wonder what would happen if I reached over, took the phone from the aforementioned youth and switched it off. His relative in Haryana would have no trouble hearing him even without the phone - he was talking so loudly - but he would have been annoyed, and as he was evidently more familiar with the gym than me, I desisted. After standing around waiting idly for a grand total of about two minutes, I took out my beloved Nexus One and was about to create a listing for Veerabhadra Vegetables on Foursquare when I felt someone looking over my shoulder. I turned around to find myself gazing into the nut-brown eyes of a swarthy local lad, stout of frame and youthful of countenance, who was trying to steal a glance at the screen of my Nexus One. I could not help but notice the puny device he held in his hand - probably a MicroMax, Lava or even an unfortunately-named Lemon. Feeling rather smug and superior, I turned a bit so that he could see tha amazing 3.7 inch display of my Nexus One, and was flicking through pictures in my Gallery looking for a really dazzling one when I heard the aforementioned swarthy local youth make some comment to me about how big it was. The following conversation, brief though it was, was in Hindi - my broken, Doordarshan-inspired, Hafeezpet-honed Hindi to the swarthy local youth's Hyderabadi Hindi that would make anyone from outside the former Nizam's dominions cry. Since my Hindi is broken at best, and my recall of it is patchy, I'll present the conversation to you in English. For convenience's sake, we'll call the swarthy local youth SLY. SLY: That's a really big screen... Me: Yeah it is. It's a very good phone. SLY: I'm sure it is. How much is it for? Me: I don't know - maybe 30,000 or 35,000 rupees? SLY: You don't know? Me: No - my company gave it to me free of cost. SLY: Oh. Me: [Grinning - still trying to figure out what awesome feature of the Nexus One to bedazzle the SLY with] SLY: [Looking pointedly at his small phone] Does it have FM radio? Me: [A bit taken aback] No. SLY: [Looking more cheerful and confident] Dual SIM? Me: [Starting to feel a bit numb] No SLY: [On top of the world now] Oh. It's also too big. No wonder they gave it free to you. With that he turned around and walked off to his cart, from which he had been unloading vegetables into the shop. What happened after that, I have no recollection of - just the mind-numbing certainty that my Nexus One, simply the most awesome piece of technology I have ever owned, had been bested in a brief conversation by the MicroMax/Lava/Lemon of the vegetable boy who supplied beerakkai to Veerabhadra Vegetables. And no, I still haven't created a listing for Veerabhadra Vegetables on Foursquare. But if you ever do, be sure that I will snatch Mayorship from you in a matter of days!

The Diary of a Jungle Holiday

Quick Facts

Quick Facts

Saturday, internist 04 September 2010 Taxi to Nampally railway station. Picked up sandwiches and muffins from Barista for dinner.  Rayalseema express – 2AC – no third AC. Shared compartment with an old man who refused to take his coat off, melanoma and an old lady who refused to take her dark glasses off! The old man was curious about the gadgets we carried, try but what fascinated him the most was the route map of the stations we would pass – I’d printed this out from the IRCTC website so we wouldn’t miss getting off at our stop. He kept studying it every now and then ad finally asked us to leave it behind when we got off. At 6:30 P.M., Vidya, noticing that the old lady was looking tired, offered to make space so that she could lie down if she wanted. But the old man turned down the offer, rather smugly remarking that it was merely 6:30 and no one slept at that hour. By 8:15 however, both of them were out flat, and we had to move to our upper berths and continue our conversations in a low voice so that the old couple could sleep. We ate our dinners on the upper berths, and read for a bit before turning in – the reading lights were so comfortable. Sunday, 05 September 2010 We awoke at 8 A.M., in time to get an idli-vada-chutney-sambar combo at Hubli. Typical railway food though. We left one plate untasted. After Hubli, as we passed through Dharwad on the way to Londa, the landscape gave us a foretaste of the greenery we were about to be submerged in – paddy fields in all shades of green, distant mountains wreathed in rain clouds, tiny towns of thatch. All of this was lit by a watery and diffused sunlight. We spent a lot of the journey after that literally hanging out at the door – I sat down with my legs on the steps while Vidya stood at the door. We both managed to get a few pictures. Needle-small raindrops were constant – like a cloud from an atomizer – but never enough to drive us inside. We were just twenty minutes from Londa when the train was stopped for about twenty minutes at Sivathan to allow two other trains to pass. We passed the time by fretting and fuming a bit and then we started to enjoy the scenic views all around us. Many passengers had got down from the train and were amusing themselves in various ways – two grown men kept themselves busy by trying to hit a plastic water bottle lying a bit off with stones, a group of smokers were skulking behind a small tree, while a whole bunch of people were just standing next to the train and making idle conversation with the total strangers who were their co-passengers. Finally, the train moved and Londa arrived all too soon.

Train to Londa

As the train neared Londa

With a small new-looking railway station, Londa was all railway station and a little bit of town. The driver, Manohar, was waiting for us in an Indica and soon we were on our way to Ganesh Gudi. The bazaar road leading from the railway station to the highway was full of small shops selling vegetables and odds and ends. I wanted to buy some Duracell AAs for Vidya’s point-and-shoot, and asked the driver to stop at some shop, maybe a photo studio. He looked doubtful as he nodded, and as we made our way through bazaar road, I realized why. There were no shops which looked even approximately capable of stocking batteries of any kind, leave alone Duracell AAs. Finally, he stopped outside what proclaimed to be a photo studio, and I made my way to it. Now, right next to the photo studio was an unnamed shop of indeterminate nature, and as I approached the shops, a young man got up from the neighboring shop and asked me what I wanted.  Pointing to the photo studio, I said I wanted batteries. The fellow thought for a bit and said that the studio owner had gone out. As I turned to leave, he called to me and informed me that the studio owner had gone somewhere to take photographs, making sure I knew that he was on the job and not goofing off somewhere. Maybe he was goofing off somewhere and this guy was covering up for him! Anyway, the drive to Ganesh Gudi was a quick 30-minute one on a very good highway with the forest on both sides of us. Sounds from the forest were all around us till we reached the resort.  Jungle Lodges’ Old Magazine House is just about half a kilometer from the turn off to Ganesh Gudi – a signboard on the highway points you up a rocky path which leads to the resort. The resort is a group of very basic cottages, a dormitory and a dining building. The whole setup is within a wooded area, giving you the impression that you are staying deep within a jungle. This, combined with the iffy mobile coverage, gives you the illusion of being very isolated. As we alighted from our taxi, we were greeted by a long sustained melodious whistle. My first assumption was that it was someone so taken with the surroundings that they were expressing it with a tuneful, slightly off-key whistle. The people at the resort assured us that it was the resident songster, a Malabar Whistling Thrush, also called, and very aptly I might add, the Whistling Schoolboy. William comes to mind! We checked in to our cottage – which was as basic as we had expected it to be. It was a spacious affair on stilts with a thatch roof – one large room with an attached toilet/bathroom. Two single wooden cots pushed together and a cement platform covered with a cloth served as the only ‘furniture’. Two plastic chairs were doing duty on the balcony – these we used in multipurpose mode – indoor clothes-stands, daytime seating, night-stands, charging stations for all our electronics, and of course, balcony seating.

Cottages

Cottages at Old Magazine House, Ganesh Gudi

As soon as we checked in, we went to have tea in the dining area. The dining area is definitely one of the highlights of the resort. It is the top of a building and has a thatch roof. It overlooks a thicket on one side, which is lined with bird baths. A whole bunch of birds hang out here – we saw a couple of Purple-rumped Sunbirds and a Black-headed Munia as we had tea. We freshened up, returned to the dining area for a good lunch, and then went back to our cottage to rest, only for it to start raining heavily. It was then that we discovered another fact about the resort – the monsoons are rainy. Non-stop rains, all the time. We had caught a rare dry window when we checked in, and were finding out what the monsoon at Old Magazine House was really like. In the evening, when the rain slowed down to a drizzle (it didn’t stop), we went for a short walk. We saw Langurs on distant treetops, a Malabar Giant Squirrel, a Yellow-browed Bulbul and a bunch of noisy Rufous Babblers. On returning to the resort, we saw a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher taking an evening dip in one of the bird baths. As we sat around eating pakodas, we saw more birds take advantage of the baths - a Brown-cheeked Fulvetta (yes, it got fully wet!), a Malabar Whistling Thrush and an Orange-headed Thrush. By this time, everyone else in the resort had left, leaving us the only guests for the night. After a peaceful dinner, we retired. Monday, September 06, 2010 The itinerary at Old Magazine House includes an early morning bird walk. Today’s bird walk was taken by the rain – it was pouring bucketfuls early in the morning, allowing us to sleep in. So, instead of the pre-breakfast bird walk, we indulged in it post-breakfast. We left at about 10:30 A.M., accompanied by the knowledgeable Joma as our guide. A word about Joma is in order now. A senior citizen in the prime of life, he has been birding for about two years now. Armed with a pair of Olympus binoculars and a bird book in Hindi (which he says was given to him by a guest who was impressed by his help), he has learned all he knows about birds from birders who have visited the resort. He was quick at identifying birds, and was an interesting companion for the bird walk. In a little more than 2 hours, we covered a couple of kilometers. But those have been the most fruitful birding time we’ve spent till now. We walked on the Londa highway, and spotted a regular procession of birds. On the path to the highway, we came across red-whiskered bulbuls and a couple of munias. As we turned right on the highway, Vidya spotted a couple of Pied Malabar Hornbills on a distant treetop. As she pointed them out, and Joma identified them, they took wing and flew across the valley before us and settled on another distant treetop. We tried to get a better look, but failed. It was an awesome sighting, but a poor photo op. Much later, we saw them flying back way over our heads. After that came all the other birds, which I tried photographing with varying degrees of success. In order of spotting, here are the birds:
  • Greater Coucal
  • Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
  • Greater Flameback
  • Red-whiskered Bulbul
  • Golden-fronted Leafbird
  • Bronzed Drongo
  • Yellow-browed Bulbul
  • Scarlet Minivet

Scarlet Minivet

Scarlet Minivet

Golden-fronted Leafbird

Golden-fronted Leafbird

Post-lunch, we decided to go on a coracle ride. The weather had held so far, and it was a fair assumption that it would continue to do so. So we set off, Vidya and I in the back seat of a Jeep, Joma and another guide in the front with a driver. We went through Ganesh Gudi to the Supa river. As we crossed the river on a tall masonry bridge, we saw a Brahminy Kite patiently waiting on a branch overlooking the water. At the riverside, as the coracle was being prepared, it started raining. By the time we got into the coracle, it was raining too hard for a camera – so we went on a wet coracle ride the old-fashioned way – with just our minds to record the experience! For the uninitiated, the coracle is a large circular basket, waterproofed with tar. It is about eight feet across, and is surprisingly shallow – about two feet deep. In the middle of this was placed a circular platform topped with a waterproof cushion. To one side was placed a small stool. We (Vidya, Joma and I) got in, one at a time, and sat on the central platform – our backs to each other. Then, the small ‘driver’ got in and sat on the stool. He had a large paddle with a shortish handle, and with this he paddled and steered. The ride itself was very smooth – of course, the rain was pelting down, and we held a couple of umbrellas to ward it away. We went on a short ride along one bank and then the other of the river. We went after a White-throated Kingfisher. He was sitting on a branch of some submerged trees, and at our approach, he took off and settled down on another branch not too far away. We kept coming, and he hopped to another branch. That didn’t stop us, and as we neared him again, he hopped again. This continued for a while until he got very annoyed with us and flew away with a shrill cry. I assume it’s safe to say he was hopping mad at us! We circled back to the landing where we had got into the coracle – and were back on land very quickly. We were pretty well-drenched, but nevertheless it was a pleasant ride. Back at the resort, we changed out of wet clothes and spent the evening on our balcony, eating pakodas, drinking tea and watching the rain. The time between tea and dinner, and slightly after dinner too, we spent writing up this report! Continued in Part 2

Saturday, 04 September 2010

Taxi to Nampally railway station. Picked up sandwiches and muffins from Barista for dinner. Rayalseema express – 2AC – no third AC. Shared compartment with an old man who refused to take his coat off, and an old lady who refused to take her dark glasses off!

The old man was curious about the gadgets we carried, but what fascinated him the most was the route map of the stations we would pass – I’d printed this out from the IRCTC website so we wouldn’t miss getting off at our stop. He kept studying it every now and then ad finally asked us to leave it behind when we got off.

At 6:30 PM, Vidya, noticing that the old lady was looking tired, offered to make space so that she could lie down if she wanted. But the old man turned down the offer, rather smugly remarking that it was merely 6:30 and no one slept at that hour. By 8:15 however, both of them were out flat, and we had to move to our upper berths and continue our conversations in a low voice so that the old couple could sleep.

We ate our dinners on the upper berths, and read for a bit before turning in – the reading lights were so comfortable.

Sunday, 05 September 2010

We awoke at 8 AM, in time to get an idli-vada-chutney-sambar combo at Hubli. Typical railway food though. We left one plate untasted. After Hubli, as we passed through Dharwad on the way to Londa, the landscape gave us a foretaste of the greenery we were about to be submerged in – paddy fields in all shades of green, distant mountains wreathed in rain clouds, tiny towns of thatch. All of this was lit by a watery and diffused sunlight. We spent a lot of the journey after that literally hanging out at the door – I sat down with my legs on the steps while Vidya stood at the door. We both managed to get a few pictures. Needle-small raindrops were constant – like a cloud from an atomizer – but never enough to drive us inside.

We were just twenty minutes from Londa when the train was stopped for about twenty minutes at Sivathan to allow two other trains to pass. We passed the time by fretting and fuming a bit and then we started to enjoy the scenic views all around us. Many passengers had got down from the train and were amusing themselves in various ways – two grown men kept themselves busy by trying to hit a plastic water bottle lying a bit off with stones, a group of smokers were skulking behind a small tree, while a whole bunch of people were just standing next to the train and making idle conversation with the total strangers who were their co-passengers. Finally, the train moved and Londa arrived all too soon.

With a small new-looking railway station, Londa was all railway station and a little bit of town. The driver, Manohar, was waiting for us in an Indica and soon we were on our way to Ganesh Gudi. The bazaar road leading from the railway station to the highway was full of small shops selling vegetables and odds and ends. I wanted to buy some Duracell AAs for Vidya’s point-and-shoot, and asked the driver to stop at some shop, maybe a photo studio. He looked doubtful as he nodded, and as we made our way through bazaar road, I realized why. There were no shops which looked even approximately capable of stocking batteries of any kind, leave alone Duracell AAs. Finally, he stopped outside what proclaimed to be a photo studio, and I made my way to it. Now, right next to the photo studio was an unnamed shop of indeterminate nature, and as I approached the shops, a young man got up from the neighboring shop and asked me what I wanted. Pointing to the photo studio, I said I wanted batteries. The fellow thought for a bit and said that the studio owner had gone out. As I turned to leave, he called to me and informed me that the studio owner had gone somewhere to take photographs, making sure I knew that he was on the job and not goofing off somewhere. Maybe he was goofing off somewhere and this guy was covering up for him!

Anyway, the drive to Ganesh Gudi was a quick 30-minute one on a very good highway with the forest on both sides of us. Sounds from the forest were all around us till we reached the resort. Jungle Lodges’ Old Magazine House is just about half a kilometer from the turn off to Ganesh Gudi – a signboard on the highway points you up a rocky path which leads to the resort. The resort is a group of very basic cottages, a dormitory and a dining building. The whole setup is within a wooded area, giving you the impression that you are staying deep within a jungle. This, combined with the iffy mobile coverage, gives you the illusion of being very isolated.

As we alighted from our taxi, we were greeted by a long sustained melodious whistle. My first assumption was that it was someone so taken with the surroundings that they were expressing it with a tuneful, slightly off-key whistle. The people at the resort assured us that it was the resident songster, a Malabar Whistling Thrush, also called, and very aptly I might add, the Whistling Schoolboy. William comes to mind!

We checked in to our cottage – which was as basic as we had expected it to be. It was a spacious affair on stilts with a thatch roof – one large room with an attached toilet/bathroom. Two single wooden cots pushed together and a cement platform covered with a cloth served as the only ‘furniture’. Two plastic chairs were doing duty on the balcony – these we used in multipurpose mode – indoor clothes-stands, daytime seating, night-stands, charging stations for all our electronics, and of course, balcony seating.

As soon as we checked in, we went to have tea in the dining area. The dining area is definitely one of the highlights of the resort. It is the top of a building and has a thatch roof. It overlooks a thicket on one side, which is lined with bird baths. A whole bunch of birds hang out here – we saw a couple of Purple-rumped Sunbirds and a Black-headed Munia as we had tea.

We freshened up, returned to the dining area for a good lunch, and then went back to our cottage to rest, only for it to start raining heavily. It was then that we discovered another fact about the resort – the monsoons are rainy. Non-stop rains, all the time. We had caught a rare dry window when we checked in, and were finding out what the monsoon at Old Magazine House was really like. In the evening, when the rain slowed down to a drizzle (it didn’t stop), we went for a short walk. We saw Langurs on distant treetops, a Malabar Giant Squirrel, a Yellow-browed Bulbul and a bunch of noisy Rufous Babblers. On returning to the resort, we saw a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher taking an evening dip in one of the bird baths. As we sat around eating pakodas, we saw more birds take advantage of the baths - a Brown-cheeked Fulvetta (yes, it got fully wet!), a Malabar Whistling Thrush and an Orange-headed Thrush.

By this time, everyone else in the resort had left, leaving us the only guests for the night. After a peaceful dinner, we retired.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The itinerary at Old Magazine House includes an early morning bird walk. Today’s bird walk was taken by the rain – it was pouring bucketfuls early in the morning, allowing us to sleep in. So, instead of the pre-breakfast bird walk, we indulged in it post-breakfast.

We left at about 10:30 A.M., accompanied by the knowledgeable Joma as our guide. A word about Joma is in order now. A senior citizen in the prime of life, he has been birding for about two years now. Armed with a pair of Olympus binoculars and a bird book in Hindi (which he says was given to him by a guest who was impressed by his help), he has learned all he knows about birds from birders who have visited the resort. He was quick at identifying birds, and was an interesting companion for the bird walk.

In a little more than 2 hours, we covered a couple of kilometers. But those have been the most fruitful birding time we’ve spent till now. We walked on the Londa highway, and spotted a regular procession of birds. On the path to the highway, we came across red-whiskered bulbuls and a couple of munias. As we turned right on the highway, Vidya spotted a couple of Pied Malabar Hornbills on a distant treetop. As she pointed them out, and Joma identified them, they took wing and flew across the valley before us and settled on another distant treetop. We tried to get a better look, but failed. It was an awesome sighting, but a poor photo op. Much later, we saw them flying back way over our heads.

After that came all the other birds, which I tried photographing with varying degrees of success. In order of spotting, here are the birds:

Greater Coucal

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

Greater Flameback

Red-whiskered Bulbul

Golden-fronted Leafbird

Bronzed Drongo

Yellow-browed Bulbul

Scarlet Minivet

Post-lunch, we decided to go on a coracle ride. The weather had held so far, and it was a fair assumption that it would continue to do so. So we set off, Vidya and I in the back seat of a Jeep, Joma and another guide in the front with a driver. We went through Ganesh Gudi to the Supa river. As we crossed the river on a tall masonry bridge, we saw a Brahminy Kite patiently waiting on a branch overlooking the water. At the riverside, as the coracle was being prepared, it started raining. By the time we got into the coracle, it was raining too hard for a camera – so we went on a wet coracle ride the old-fashioned way – with just our minds to record the experience!

For the uninitiated, the coracle is a large circular basket, waterproofed with tar. It is about eight feet across, and is surprisingly shallow – about two feet deep. In the middle of this was placed a circular platform topped with a waterproof cushion. To one side was placed a small stool. We (Vidya, Joma and I) got in, one at a time, and sat on the central platform – our backs to each other. Then, the small ‘driver’ got in and sat on the stool. He had a large paddle with a shortish handle, and with this he paddled and steered. The ride itself was very smooth – of course, the rain was pelting down, and we held a couple of umbrellas to ward it away. We went on a short ride along one bank and then the other of the river. We went after a White-throated Kingfisher. He was sitting on a branch of some submerged trees, and at our approach, he took off and settled down on another branch not too far away. We kept coming, and he hopped to another branch. That didn’t stop us, and as we neared him again, he hopped again. This continued for a while until he got very annoyed with us and flew away with a shrill cry. I assume it’s safe to say he was hopping mad at us! We circled back to the landing where we had got into the coracle – and were back on land very quickly. We were pretty well-drenched, but nevertheless it was a pleasant ride.

Back at the resort, we changed out of wet clothes and spent the evening on our balcony, eating pakodas, drinking tea and watching the rain. The time between tea and dinner, and slightly after dinner too, we spent writing up this report!

This entry was posted in Birds, Experience, My Life, Nature, Pictures, Travel, Wildlife.

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