Once again winter is back. No clouds up in the sky. Sun rays always falls in a slanted angle. Climate is excellent. Temperature comes down. At night the sky is so clear beautiful. Stars are brighter. A moon lit night adds to the beauty.
Winter is my most favorite season and December is my most favorite month. During winter, when the slanted sun rays falls on the earth and when the sky is pretty clear, the beauty of the nature is tenfold. We feel more energetic during this season. But in places where winter is extreme, the case may be different, I don't know how and life will be difficult. If we watch the trees and plants during this season, you may notice that the leaves shine more brightly in the slanted sun light and everything looks more beautiful.
Traveling during winter is so exciting for me. The trips I made to hill stations like Ooty and Kodaikanal during winter are unforgettable. In Wayanad, most of the mornings of winter will be foggy, and sun appears out of the fog only after 9am or 10 am in the morning. Sun sets during winter are magnificent to watch.
By December 90% of harvesting the paddy will be over and we can see the hay spread all over the land. It is a wonderful experience to sleep underneath the hay in open ground during the cold and snowy nights with fire set up nearby. During the harvest season, paddy grains will be separated from the hay during nights and the courtyard will be full of hay, where we get a chance to sleep underneath the hay and it is almost like a festival, a period of prosperity. Cities and individual houses will be decorated with stars to welcome Christmas.
Is it the story or the camera tricks behind an action movie thrills you or a horror movie horrifies you?
If you watch a fighting scene or a chasing scene in a movie, some times you may find out that the camera man struggles a lot to chase the fighting subjects or struggling to find a perfect place for the camera to be placed and shoot the scene or the camera shakes a lot making it difficult to understand what is really happening and make us imagine that some thing really great is happening. The action scene will be a composed of so many tiny shots of length of a fraction of a second from different angles. But the movie ‘Matrix’ has done a good job in this respect. The fighting scenes are composed perfectly. It is not just the fast sequence of narrow angled shots of minute lengths that add to the excitement of the shot, but the real action; even though there may be a lot of camera tricks behind the scene. The action should thrill you, not the difficulty in shooting such a scene.
Let us take the case of a breath taking horror movie. The usual trick is that a horrified man or women walking through a dark location alone, and the camera angle gets narrower, so that the only subject we can see on the screen is the man or women, and some things suddenly appears on the scene, like an ugly horrifying face or hand that attacks the subject. The camera technique makes us believe that even the subject also has a limited viewing angle. The usual thump rules are like, the scene will be always dark (so that strange horrifying things can be created suddenly from nowhere), the angle covered by the camera will be very narrow, and so that what ever comes into the frame will be something suddenly created from nowhere, the subject does the exact opposite thing that we would do if we were the subject, which gives the horrifying matters or strange creatures more chance to horrify the subject.
The fact is that it is very difficult to make a perfect horror scene without the help of the darkness, narrow angle etc. Same is the case with an action scene; it is very difficult to make a fighting scene or a bomb blast scene or a chasing scene at a wide angle camera shot where everything is clear and perfect.
My definition of a perfect action scene shot is that the one who watches the movie should never get a feeling that the camera man is involved in the scene struggling to shoot the scene. A horror movie should be able to horrify you without the cheap tricks of darkness and lack of visibility and narrow viewing angle.
Bangalore faced heavy rains during the last few days. Water flooded in many of the low lying areas and traffic stopped for many hours, many vehicles are lost. Still it is raining and no one is able to predict what will be Bangalore’s face after a few days. The same thing happened in Bombay a few weaks back. But in Bombay the situation was too horrific. This is the case with most of the cities. Our cities are not able to with stand any natural phenomena which deviates slightly more than the normal level.
Humans live in societies. When we, humans, accumulate in some place in large numbers, a lot of unbalance occurs in the nature. The recent phenomenon in Bangalore and Bombay is an example for such a kind of natural unbalance. The flood reminded me about a very small incident that happened about two years ago, while I was working as a lecturer in Mary Matha College, Mananthavady.
I was returning to home from the college. I left the college around 4-0-clock. On the way I was held up due to heavy rain. I stopped riding the bike and took shelter in one of the nearby shop. Watching the heavy rain was funny. As the rain increased, water started forming tiny streams on both sides of the road. The road separated a forest (the continuation of Mysore forest) from the cultivation lands. The shop where I took shelter stayed opposite to the side where it was forest.
The rain lasted for almost one and a half hour. The road became almost flooded and the cultivation lands became muddy and many newly formed small streams of water were flowing through the land. But on the other side, in the forest land, even after such a heavy and sudden rain, not even a single stream of water formed due to the rain. The soil absorbed all the rain water not allowing forming tiny streams. Due to human’s intervention, the soil on the cultivation land lost the capability to absorb water. In the forest, the roots of tiny grass, plants and big trees, make it possible for the soil to absorb the water.
Natural unbalance of one or the other type occurs whenever humans clog in an area. Nature will find a way to bring back itself. But it may be a natural calamity for us. Draining out the water during heavy rain is a huge problem for almost all the cities. I believe nature is doing a kind of cleaning by itself by such process. The cost we have to pay back for the unbalance we create in the nature is high. So think twice before distorting any kind of natural process.
"2000 of years ago we knew that Earth was flat. 1500 years ago we knew that earth was the centre of Universe. Now we know that Earth is a tiny planet in the solar system, which in turn is far away from the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Tomorrow we don't know what all things will be in our knowledge base".
I got the above quotes from the semi comedy movie 'MIB' (Men in Black). These are not the exact dialogue from the movie. Even though the story of MIB is fiction, the above dialogue caught my attention. I remembered the statement; 'Today’s fiction is tomorrow’s reality'. When people believed that earth was flat and there is an edge for the flat earth, they never traveled too far, in the fear of falling from the edge of the earth. When people believed that stars and moon were tiny spots fixed on the 'layer sky', they never thought of landing on the moon, the tiny disc fixed up in the sky. When humans knew that earth is round, we tried and succeeded in traveling around the globe. Again when we knew that moon and stars are spherical objects in the endless sky, we started exploring moon and other planets which revolved around sun.
Yesterday we didn't think in the way we are thinking at present, because what we knew then was not what we know now. Today we are thinking only in limited directions, because currently what we know limits us from thinking and exploring in some other directions. Tomorrow we will think of some strange things which we have never thought at present and it will not be strange things any more. We believe that what our ancestors knew was wrong. The same way we should believe that what we believe now is completely wrong and our predecessors will find better truth, which will explain many things in a better way.
So how can we say that knowledge is power? Our knowledge now seems to be a limitation for us. Our current knowledge limits us from thinking though we think that we think a lot. Knowledge is a limitation? So we can think about an ultimate truth, above which nothing exists further which if we know will make us think correct. But we already said that what we think is wrong. So we cannot think about such an ultimate truth. But we cannot blame the people who are in search of truth, since they are the one who thinks in strange way, breaking the limitations of our thinking imposed by our knowledge. Eventually they will find new truths which will definitely rule out existing truth. But time will rule out those truths also.
Wayanad, the land of mountains and paddy fields blessed with natural wonders is one of the unexplored places of beauty. Wayanad district is situated in Northern Kerala, where Deccan plateau begins. Some believes that the name 'Wayanad' probably originated from two Malayalam words "Wayal" which means paddy field and "Nadu" which means land. So Wayanad means the land of paddy fields, in fact there are lot of paddy fields in Wayanad in between the hills and mountains. Geographically the western part of Wayanad touches the Western-ghats and the other parts is the edge of Deccan plateau. State boundary of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil-Nadu meets in Muthanga, a place covered with dense forest and wild animals; the Eastern border if Wayanad.
Wayanad can be reached from the districts Kozhikode, Kannur, Malappuram, Mysore and Ooty. The distance to Wayanad from these places is about 100kms. Nearest airport is Karippur. No railway lines touches Wayanad. So industrial development has not yet happened in Wayanad, which in turn helped in protecting her Natural beauty. People outside the state, especially from the IT capital Bangalore and other places like Chennai select Wayanad as the place for a two or three day tour and trekking.
People from other districts of Kerala consider Wayanad as an undeveloped place where Tribal people leads an ancient and undeveloped form of life. But I have seen a lot values among the people who belongs to various tribes whom are unique by their way of life and skills they possess. The tribal people who live in small communities under a head (His title is “Moopan”.) have their own rules, for maintaining peace and leading an un-interrupted social life. Each of these tribal communities does have their own language, but lacks written form. Some of these languages do have a close resemblance with Kannada, the language of Karnataka. Regardless of the perception of others, they have strong awareness of the rest of the world, strong views on politics, and other happenings around world. But people outside their community don’t know anything about them and they don’t interfere much with the rest of the world, so their uniqueness is preserved.
Chances of tourism in Wayanad are a lot. The tea estates surrounded by mountains with rich greeneries and covered by clouds makes Wayanad a heavenly place. Chembra peak is one of the main attractions of tourists. Chembra peak, surrounded by tea estates have a small lake at the top. Some of the places worth for visiting are Pookot Lake near Vythiri, the curved road through mountains which reaches Kozhikode, Kuruvadweep; an island formed by the a river spreading into two and joining together forming a land of 900 acres of rich vegetation, Muthanga; a wild life sanctuary where we can see a variety of animals like elephant, bison, deer, pea-cock, wild boar and many other. Edakkal cave is an ideal place for trekking and site seeing. The ancient wall paintings inside the caves are wonderful. Soochippara and Meenmutti waterfalls and the tea estates near these locations make the place unique.
A lot of other places of Wayanad still remain unexplored. The climate of Wayanad adds to the beauty. The temperature remains always below 30 degree, so life is easy. The best place for me to live is always Wayanad. The more places I visited the more I loved Wayanad, making me to think of going back to Wayanad again and again. The most beautiful days in my life or those while I lived in Wayanad.
We planned everything all of a sudden. After the lunch, I was thinking about how to spend the rest of the day. My cousin brother Ajeev was with me. We decided to have a bike trip to Nandi hills. We went back home to get the camera, filled enough petrol and started the ride around 3:00 pm. From Banashankari, we went to Majestic, then reached Mekhri circle, from their, took the Bellari road. After riding almost 50 kilometers, we had some soft drinks, then took a left turn to the road which leads to Nandi hills. We reached there by 5:30 pm.
The ride through the curved road up the hills with lots of hair-pin-bends was too exciting. Both sides of the road were covered with a kind of plant with beautiful yellow flowers. As we went up the mountain, the atmosphere temperature decreased in a sudden pace. The climate was entirely different at the top. We parked the bike, took the ticket at the entry point, and walked up through the steps. Dense trees and climbers made a beautiful passage up the hill. There was a place like a small children's park with swings and other kind of structures. We climbed further and reached the topmost part. There was a small temple (Yoganandishwara temple), one hotel, a police out station and some other buildings at the top of the hill. Nandi hills were Tipu Sultan's summer retreat and Tipu's fort walls still stand as testimony to history. The rivers Pennar, Palar and Arkavati originate from these hills.
We went to the other side of the temple. The view of the valley and the sunset was very beautiful from the rocks. We got a bird’s eye view of Kolar, Tumkur and Bangalore area. Unfortunately the battery was low, so we could capture only few snaps from the location. One side of the mountain was too steep and dangerous. The valley was full of rich vegetation with coconut trees, vineyards and small lakes and ponds. The wind blowing up from the valley was too chilling and fast. We found difficult to stand against the wind. As everything was planned all of a sudden, we didn’t even have our jackets. So we were not able to stay there for long in the chilling wind. We started back at 6:00 pm, and reached home at 8:00 pm. See the snaps below, click on the thumbnails to get the enlarged view
Took this photo on August 27th 2005 from the terrace of the rented house where I stays currently in Bangalore. I was about to leave to my friend's house and before that, I climbed up the terrace to get my clothes kept for drying. Then I saw the beautiful evening sky in dazzling yellow and red color, clouds forming strange desing. Immediately I ran down to get the camera to capture the wonderful scene. Took 5 minutes for me to reach back, then the dazzling color has faded a little bit. But I got this beautiful view. Many of the time when I saw such a beautiful scene, I didn't have a camera with me. I tried to take a panoramic view, but within a short while, the light faded as the side hide behind the clouds. I was so glad after that since I felt like I have photographed something like the scene of a lightning strikes the earth.
Imagine complete silence in a moonlit night without any artificial lights. I haven't experienced the same since I started my life in Bangalore. Getting a chance to enjoy the beauty of darkness and silence is a remote dream for people living in cities like Bangalore. Cities are always lighted with lots of huge sodium vapor lamps, and fluorescent lights. In cities if we look at the sky in night we can see the light reflecting from the clouds and it will almost like the late evening sky. We can see clouds in orange color (Let me call it, the sodium vapor lamp effect.)
But in villages like Payyampally (my home) the night is always dark except for the moon light or the lights from the stars. In Malayalam the light from the stars in a night without moon light is called the “Nattuvelicham”. I am sure that people living in cities will never experience this.
In my home town, a cloudy night means a complete dark night. And the one night which falls on the new moon during monsoon is the one which is the darkest night. The feeling of being out in the the cultivation lands in such a dark night and silence is something which I can’t describe. We call it the “Karkadaka Karupu” in Malayalam. “Karkadaka” stands for the particular month and “Karupu” means black.
During my schooling days, I used to go for patrolling in our plots in the night with my brother (Babu V Jacob), during the harvest season of pepper and watering season of coffee plants. Sitting some where in the cultivation fields and listening to the sounds coming from the nature is a great experience. If it is a full moon day with no clouds, the beauty of the nature tenfolds. We can see everything clearly, though it is dark. Watching the distant mountains in dark blue color, and the leaves of trees and coconut leaves shining in the moon light!!!! Oh! I don’t know about when I will be able to feel these amazing moments in my life once again. I love the scene of the fog getting developed in such a full moon night slowly and slowly and at last hiding the moon leaving a hallow in its place. Even the black and white clouds and silver lining at their edges in such a night is soo beautiful to watch.
MindTree's Synfonia '05 celebrations started with the much awaited ethnic day on August 5th. MindTree minds came out with colorful dressing representing all parts of India. My team; (Kraft/Gevalia) decided to participate in the event with a "Sherwani" style dress. All MindTree minds gathered near the basket ball court around 9:00 am. There were representations of National flag, national integrity and various parts of India. One of the team represented the five elements of nature. We formed a human chain. Later we arranged ourselves and formed "MindTree". See the picture above. Later, awards for the best dressed ethnic minds, and teams were announced.
On July 30th, one fine Saturday, I started with Sumod on my bike to Pearl Valley (Muthyala Maduvu) near Aneykal. We rode through Bannerghatta road and reached there within one hour. The journey was so pleasant. On the way we reached a small town and stopped for drinking tea. Strangely we ended up in bakery run by Malayalees. We guessed that the owners as well as the workers will be from Thalasserry – Kannur, since most of the Malayalee Bakeries in Bangalore will be owned by some one from Thalasserry. And our guess was correct when they said that they were indeed from Kannur.
After reaching Pearl Valley, we parked our vehicle, took some rest and started walking down to the valley. The steps that lead to the stream down the valley were so beautiful. We took many snaps from the location. If we can walk through the side of the stream upwards, we will reach near a small and beautiful waterfall. There is small Temple at the base of those hills.
Later we started climbing the hill opposite to the one where we parked our bike. Walking through the shades of those trees is a very energetic experience. We reached the top of the hill, spent almost one and a half hour, watching the scenic beauty and talking about a lot of things. The sky began to get clouded later.
When drizzling started we returned and by the time we reached the parking lot, rain stopped. We had some soft drinks and returned to Banashankari, through Hosur road. The return journey was more comfortable since the road was in a very good condition.
After seven years, my friends from Tagore hostel gathered together in Bangalore. I stayed in Tagore hostel from 1997 to 1999 during my pre-degree education in St. Joseph’s College, Devagiri. The college is situated in Kozhikode, near Calicut Medical College. Seeing my friends after such a long time was really a thrilling experience.
We gathered near Forum in Koramangala, Bangalore at 10:30 am, and started our trip towards Bannarghatta National Park on three bikes. The team consisted of Praveen, Nithin, Abhilash, Bijoy, Santhosh and me. We reached the national park around 11:15 and went for the Grant Safari, which includes a trip on the cab inside the park. We enjoyed the trip which lasted for about 1 hour, and we saw various predators like white tiger, normal tiger, lions, and other animals like elephant, sambar, beer and they came so near our cab. After that around lunch time we had some soft drinks and snacks. Then we spent about one and half hour, inside the park, talking about our memories in Tagore hostel.
Later we started our journey towards a beautiful valley near Aneykal. But rain started on the way and we all got drenched in the rain and we had to stop traveling frequently, due to the heavy rain. We reached a small restaurant near the valley. By the time we reached there we were almost frost. So we spent the rest of the time in the restaurant talking a lot about the old days along with delicious food. We returned and reached Koramangala around 7:00 pm and departed.
During last weekend (11th and 12th June 2005) I visited Payyampally with my cousin Jose Abins. We went on a walk towards “Koodalkadavu” which is a meeting point of two rivers. The word “Koodalkadavu” in Malayalam means meeting point of rivers. The two rivers are named as river “Mananthavady” and river “Panamaram”, since the two rivers flow through Panamaram and Mananthavady which are small towns in Wayanad. The two rivers meet together and flow with the name “Kabani” river. The river separates into 5 small rivers, 2 kilometers away from Koodalkadavu and joins together after 3 more kilometers. The land in between forms an island called “Kuruvadweep”. “Dweep” means an island in Malayalam.
Abins and me went for a walk towards Koodalkadavu on Saturday evening (around 4- 0 clock.) Koodalkadavu is 2 kilometers away from my house and Kuruvadweep is 4 kilometers away from my home. Abins took his camera along with him. We spent half an hour one the bank of the river. Then crossed the river and reached the forest which is on the other side of the river. We walked through the forest for a while and reached the place called “Dasanakkara”. Dasanakkara is a small junction were roads from Panamaram, Mananthavady, Payyampally, and Pulpally meets. We had coffee from the near by shop and walked back towards our home in Payyampally.
We were not able to visit Kuruvadweep because then we won't reach back home before darkness. Kuruvadweep is full of small streams and thick forest. A very beautiful land! Very rarely we can see alligators in the water and monkeys. Kuruvadweep is one of the main tourist attractions of Wayanad. Below are few snaps from the location.
Update on 2nd Feb 2007 In the above picture you can see the two rivers – Manathavady River and Panamaram River joining together to form the Koodalkadavu. The two bridges which is clearly visible connects Payyampally and Cherukattoor, then Cherukattoor and Pulpally. The distance to Pulpally is reduced to 15 kilometers from 35 kilometers after these two bridges were established.
Update on 2nd Feb 2007 In the above picture you can see the Kabani River splitting into two and joining together after a while to create the wonderful 950 acres island – Kuruvadweep. There after you can see the joined river flowing towards the North East corner towards Karnataka.