All posts by thelostlander

Experiences from the Indian roads

Lessons Learnt by a Trek Leader

Who is a leader? One who holds the group; One who owns the group; One who carries a group.

‘A team may have members with varied backgrounds, thinking ways, and cultures. But a leader is someone who despite the difference, is expected to maintain cohesiveness and lead the way to the success of the team. The quality of a good leader is being fearless, able to face challenges, and remaining unshaken.’ This is what we would define, and every other personality development trainer would teach.

But are we ever taught to think that like all members of a team, a leader is also human? Are we made to think about why even the best leader can fail? Are we taught to ask the leader if they had a good day?

To answer these questions, I would like to take the reference of my personal experience in this aspect and break the discussion into two parts. First, I would like to list the aspects of leadership I have learnt by taking on a role of a trek leader since 2019. In the second, I would like to discuss the realizations made while reflecting upon the situations that were created that brought me closer to a meltdown in 2022.

Part 1: Being a trek leader

There were times when I had to adjust. Once, while on our way to Kodachadri, our bus broke down. In the middle of the night, I had to stand on a highway and wave at every other bus that came our way which could accommodate the entire group. finally, when we managed to find a bus, there were two seats. I, being a trek leader had to adjust and sit on a crammed floor of a traveler just so that the rest of the team had the comfort of the seats so that they all could sleep well and save energy to complete the hike successfully on the following day.

There were times I had to carry. When a team member fell with an epileptic attack, when someone sprained their ankle or a bunch of new trekkers was all bogged down by the weight of their backpacks right in the middle of a trail, I have had to support them.

There were times when I had to convince others. The worst thing that can go wrong on a trip is to have all four tyres of your vehicle flat. With a group of thirty people, it was no joke to be stranded on a village road at midnight. When all attempts to find alternate transportation was futile, it was a leader who had to convince the team to agree into taking a tractor ride to the destination.

There were times when I had to hold the team together. When a murder took place right in front of the team, the morale of every member was shattered. Nor was I, being a trek lead prepared to face something like that. But I had to hold them all in decent spirits let not the visuals and the fear take over the minds of the remaining members.

I have had to control. Control the schedule, control the people who deviated from the rules, channel conversations and involve everyone to participate in the group.

I have had to assure anxious parents to trust me with their daughters’ safety while traveling with me and I had to assure unsure solo travelers about their apprehensions to backpack with a leader who was unknown to them. All to only come back after the trip and receive positive testimonials about me.

Being unbiased with the age, gender, caste, and economic strata with whom I interact, I have been told that I inspired people (in many ways that I do not know). My no-fuss, no allergy, and ever-willingness to try any food that looks new and the ability to snooze in any space when I am sleepy solves half the problem and makes it easy for people to connect with me, I have been told. I have been confident in my ability to adapt to absolutely any environment and figure out a way to make it a memorable journey. I have always believed that my ability to adapt and connect to people on an individual level has been my strength.

I have always believed that successful people should be able to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. No human is perfect and without shortcomings. But a true leader will work on the weaknesses and not let them bog him/her down. With an awareness of what makes him/her weak, it allows one to be better prepared to oversee a situation that might arise posing the same threats. This self-awareness is vital to being a confident leader.

Part 2: When a leader is shaken

What does it look like when the confidence of a leader is broken, when the leader is made to feel that he/she has always been wrong about himself/herself? How does it feel when the leader is made to feel that he/she was never correct?

A recent personal experience of a series of events dragged me to the edge of having an emotional breakdown. When I sat back and reflected upon the decisions, I had made in the past year which had finally gotten me to where I was at the time of this meltdown, there was a lot of self-realization I made. None of which pointed towards any evident wrong decision-making ability of mine but to the situations that were created for me to act.

Cut to August 2022, I was on an overseas business trip to a country which is considered to be on the conservative side compared to the rest of the world. I had been accompanied by a team of seven men and one girl. Despite being with such a large group, I was hit by a feeling of abandonment. It was a feeling of being unavailable for and by the people of my tribe when I needed it and of being restricted from physically going out to do things that made me happy.

It had shaken me so much that I used to have emotional meltdowns at the drop of the hat. I had begun to reanalyze and doubt all my decisions made in the last year, the on-goings, and the future ahead created by my own decisions. The situation brought with it, my inability to trust human beings in the same way that I did until stepping into the new land. I had failed as a person and all my leadership skills learnt over the last few years felt void, if it needs to be put in that perspective. All I needed was an anchor to bank myself in a land unknown across the ocean.

To me in this case, it was my boss at work who put on the hat of a leader. After spending a few weeks by then in the new country, it was the first ever interaction I was having with my boss. It was the first face-to-face interaction between us and the most basic question for any conversation to begin, I was asked about how I was doing in the new country. The most basic and simplest of questions had me shaken and the accumulated dam of emotions was broken. A word of assurance that there was someone to look up to was all I needed to get back on track, and this was one such. It was an interaction post which, I was alright and back in form to continue with my regular duties.

Lessons learnt from a leader: The first two may be generic, it is to have a good personal relationship at work or off work. The third lesson is specific to the workplace.

• A leader should be available for his team always. Whether or not related to work, it is essential to build a relationship of trust with the teammates.
• Keep clear and timely communications within the team. Whether there is a work update or not, communicate to stay connected.
• Assign clear work roles, and expectations, and follow up on progress.

Takeaways on a personal level:

• Any leader can be shaken. They too are human.
• In the end, nobody but only you will remain to care for yourself.
• Whether you see a person happy or strong, a greeting and a smile at a stranger cost you nothing but it can heal a person.

Pamper Your Heart By Visiting These Dubai Famous Attractions

Dubai and its wide range of fascinating attractions, make it an outstanding addition to your travel bucket. With plenty of hair rising experiences, one can have a time of their life at this Arabian delight. Pamper your heart, by visiting the museum on illusion, known for its over 60 exhibits and to trick your minds, with the optical illusions displayed through different patterns, colors and holograms. At night time visit the Dubai glow garden, which has an extravagant theme, of ecstatic display and attraction made with biodegradable time such as CD, fabrics and energy saving LED bulbs.

Another extravagant addition to your travel bucket, is the Dubai miracle garden. The garden has plenty of floral exhibits, made into humongous structures. Discover the Emirates A380 Flights and the floral clock, which are made with fresh floral species. Lastly, have a time of your life, by visiting the Dubai global village, which highlights the cultural integrity of more than 95 countries and their attractions.

Some of the other places you can explore in Dubai are:

  1. MOTF – The museum of the future is one of the most fascinating attractions in Dubai. The museum of the future has three different levels that render plenty of captivating missions, discoveries and inventions that will keep you intrigued throughout your tour. One of the most extraordinary additions is the Amazon rainforest, which has splendid screens displaying upcoming climatic changes of our planet. This will definitely make you come back for more. On the second floor, one can find technological marvels, and digital inventions that highlight the exquisite future of the youth. The museum of the future, also has 3 fabulous exhibitions, ‘Future Heroes’- Imagine, Design and Build on the 1st floor which has hair rising exhibits that you can admire. The DNA library at the MOTF, is where you will find out about endangered species. Take a tour of the entire museum and discover its awesome interiors, which have 77 meter dome shaped exteriors. This is considered one of the biggest examples of modern engineering and makes you marvel over the exemplary work of architecture as well.
  2. Global Village Dubai – The global village Dubai, is another striking attraction that celebrates the cultural integrity and the splendid rituals of all different traditions across the world. Spread across an area of 160000 hectares, this mega project is considered one of Dubai’s most successful recreational centers, combining tourism, leisure activities and entertainment projects, in a unique and memorable extravaganza. As you enter into the global village Dubai, enjoy around 40,000 live entertainment and cultural shows that are perfect for kids and adults. There are more than 75 countries that the global village of Dubai throws light upon. Discover mini replicas of some of the world’s most celebrated heritage locations such as Taj Mahal and the colosseum. All the enlightening performances, performed by classic acrobats are a must watch. The iconic attraction has a wide range of rides, that will take you upto soaring heights which will have you screaming your lungs out. Discover the cultural food of different nations, and make thousands of amazing memories with your loved ones.
  3. Miracle Garden Dubai – The incredible Miracle Dubai garden is another fabulous attraction that makes Dubai so popular. The miracle garden has millions of different florals that are used to resemble some of the most iconic structures that you will ever witness. As you enter into the garden, you will find the A380 flight which is made up of five hundred thousand live flowers and plants, making it one of the largest floral exhibits to beaver made. As you delve deeper, you will find out the floral clock which is 15 meters in circumference, the garden exhibits dynamic floral designs and arrangements. You will definitely be intrigued by the meticulous and intricate designs that has been installed in this attraction. At times, you will find awesome dance performances, and a wide range of displays of amusing floral species. Also post the life sized hearts, butterflies and other such fasting floral exhibits. Learn more about these intriguing floral exhibits and the way they keep changing throughout different seasons, times and more.
  4. Museum of Illusions – The museum of illusions is another extravagant attraction that promises to make your Dubai venture even more incredible. Inside this museum, one will find a splendid range of exhibits that will definitely blow your mind. The extraordinary optical illusions have been created in crazy ways to make you question the science behind it. There are over 60 exhibits, which promise to trick your mind and senses. The plenty of mind-bending exhibits, optical illusions, holograms, stereograms as well as a playroom with puzzles that will marvel at such artistic qualities. The Rotated room is where you can take 80degree upside down photos, while the room settings remain on the ground. The optical illusion wall has images, with colors, lights and patterns that will trick your mind. The hologram exhibit has 3D images that portray outstanding images. The head on the platter exhibits where the tourists can click fun pictures, with their heads that appear to be inside a large box above the table. Sit on the illusion chair and trick others with your captivating small size instantly.
  5. Dubai Garden Glow – The Dubai glow garden is a one of its kind attraction that can be best enjoyed during late night ventures in Dubai. The garden has present exhibits of a variety of humongous artistic displays, which are made with light saving bulbs, and recycled fabrics. Such fantastic attraction and the conservation of energy theme behind it, makes it a fabulous attraction to explore in your tour. The entire park has mini replicas of world’ biggest landmarks and heritage attractions, but made with biodegradable items and LED energy saving lighting. Inside the park, you will find out, art park, which has a total of about 5,00,000 pieces of recyclable stuff, like CDs, put into beautiful displays that you can admire. Above the magic park, ice park and dinosaur park, made with awe-inspiring lighting that will make our night light up.

Famous Attractions in Singapore That You Must Checkout

Singapore is a place of technological marvels and skyscrapers. With the highly illuminated lights that dance around at night, showcasing the contemporary building, it almost feels like the stars have descended here. Singapore is well-known for its quick development, as well as the numerous opulent hotels with breathtaking views that are being developed there as well as new and beautiful retail malls.

There are numerous clubs that will have you moving, as well as a vibrant nightlife that you can enjoy with your friends. In the middle of all modernity, Singapore boasts a number of nature trails. At the Botanical Gardens and Pulau Ubin, you may explore Singapore’s verdant side. Budget-conscious tourists should definitely visit this location because there are numerous amenities that will make you feel at home.

Singapore is home to a wide variety of attractions, including neighborhood dive bars, busy temples, verdant gardens, and cheap marketplaces. Scroll down this list if you’re seeking for the ideal location to visit in Singapore.

Singapore Night Safari

By exposing visitors to the residents’ nocturnal lifestyles, Singapore Night Safari gives the classic zoo experience a fresh spin. There are four distinct habitat areas in the park, each with a route that allows you to see these secretive critters going about their “day.”

In addition to the expected presence of leopards on the Leopard Trail, additional wildlife include lions, flying foxes, civets, and porcupines. The pangolin, binturong, and other common and endangered species are among the native Singaporean creatures whose habitats are visited on the Fishing Cat Trail. Malayan tigers and spotted hyenas are featured on the East Lodge Trail, and the Wallaby Trail educates tourists to Australia’s marsupials.

There are private excursions, buggy rides, informative seminars, as well as once-in-a-lifetime experiences like a feeding session for Asian elephants, available.

Jurong Bird Park

The largest bird park in Asia, Jurong Bird Park, is home to more than 5000 birds representing almost 400 different species. The Waterfall Aviary, which covers 20.2 hectares and is the largest walk-in aviary in the world, is the main attraction.

Gardens by the Bay

Many people have heard about and admire this location. Every traveller should put it on their bucket list. Gardens by the Bay, a well-liked tourist destination, will take you to a fantastical location. The magnificent Supertree Grove, which is located in Marina Bay, is at its most stunning at night.

You have the sensation that you are in a magical location while you are there. There are numerous places to see, such as Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. This elevates the experience to genuinely outstanding. There are three sections of the Gardens by the Bay complex: the centre, east, and south. When the trip becomes too exhausting, you can use the promenade to pause and grab a snack or a cup of coffee.

Little India and Arab Street

Little India and Arab Street are well-known tourist destinations. You’ll feel quite at home there, apart from the busy metropolis, among its quaint shops, inviting cafes, and old-fashioned mosques. Arab Street is renowned for its distinctive architecture and marketplaces. It also serves genuine Arabian cuisine.

During the colonial era in Singapore, there was an Indian community known as Little India. Little India includes a wide range of markets, Mosques, and upscale retail opportunities, similar to the Arabian Streets. The most well-known Hindu temple you can visit is Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, and there are also eateries serving Indian food.

Singapore Flyer

Singapore is best viewed from the air. You see the entire city from the air. Consider making a stopover plan. Or you might just sit still and observe the sun go down (if you are lucky enough to be there at sunset). Asia’s largest enormous wheel, the Singapore Flyer, which is essentially an observation wheel that reaches 165 metres.

The flyer gives you a look at the technology that powers the vehicle as well as a brief overview of Singapore’s past. It’s a good idea to brush up on your information throughout the travel. This location offers breathtaking views of the Singapore skyline, Gardens by the Bay, the F1 track, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other regions of Malaysia.

Universal Studios

Sentosa Island, an exciting tourist destination in Singapore, is home to Universal Studios. Unquestionably, this is one of the most well-liked destinations for family vacations. The ideal spot to go for a day of fun is Universal Studios. There are several eateries, cafes, and retail spaces that serve delectable cuisine and provide entertainment.

You can also go to Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame” to take pictures with well-known movie stars. Additionally, you can go to the “Walk of Fame” to take pictures with famous people. The Lost World of Dinosaurs, Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egypt Zone, and many other attractions and events at Universal Studios will keep you engaged.

Botanical Gardens

It is highly recommended to visit Singapore’s Botanical Gardens. You will feel rejuvenated after visiting this charming location with so many beautiful green areas. The first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Singapore is this garden. There are indigenous and rare species there. Lover of the outdoors will adore this well-known tourist destination. The national flower of Singapore, the orchid, can be found inside the park.

The Botanic Gardens also have a number of lakes that are home to ducks and swans. This is the ideal location for admiring Mother Nature’s splendour and unwinding to the calming sounds of birds, wind, trees, and swans. Popular places to escape the busy metropolis include this Park.

Chinatown

In the midst of the busy market, China Town is vibrant and alive. A trip to Singapore without stopping through China Town is considered incomplete. The colourful shops offering traditional Chinese goods are found everywhere in this bustling resort, along with its authentic Chinese cuisine, bright red lanterns, and bustling streets.

Additionally, the area is home to the magnificent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple. These are two of the most well-liked attractions of China Market. To top it all off, you must visit Thian Hock Keng, one of Singapore’s most vibrant Chinese temples. The oldest temple in Singapore is this one, which the Chinese constructed in 1820.

Singapore Zoo

A fantastic site to visit is the Singapore Zoo. You will be astounded by the variety of rare and stunning species that call its confines home. A terrific spot to take the family is the Singapore Zoo. Giraffes are among the 300 species that it is home to. To accommodate various animal habitats, various zones have been made.

Polar bears, racoon dogs, and other arctic animals live on the frozen tundra. Insects and beetles abound in the lush rainforest that occupies Fragile Forest. In Fragile Forest, flying foxes can also be spotted. Lion-tailed Macaques and Java Langurs can be found in Primate Kingdom. It’s a terrific idea to spend the day at the Singapore Zoo. Numerous additional activities are available, including the Splash Safari Show, the Orangutan Exhibit, and the Jungle Breakfast.

Changi Museum

Singapore’s Changi Museum is a well-liked attraction. More information about those whose history involved Japanese occupation during World War II can be found here. The museum conveys a narrative through its pictures, sketches, and letters. With a gift store and chapel in the middle, the museum can be divided into five sections. Each zone has a number of murals that Bombardier Stanley Warren meticulously recreated from the originals. The Changi Museum also offers audio tours that you can take. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall and the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum are also noteworthy institutions.

S.E.A Aquarium

For both kids and adults, the spectacular SEA Aquarium on Sentosa Island is a fascinating and instructive attraction. More than 100,000 marine creatures are housed in this welcoming environment for families. Sharks, turtles, and bottlenose dolphins are just some of the magnificent marine creatures you will encounter on this trip.

In addition to the incredible aquatic life at the aquarium, the complex has other other attractions. Dolphin Island offers encounters with dolphins that are interactive. To swim with many different predator species, including sting rays and manta rays, you can also dive into the Shark Seas Habitat. A trip to the SEA Aquarium will be an amazing experience during your tour of Singapore.

Changi Beach

One of the best things to do in Singapore is take a day trip to Changi Beach. The oldest park in Singapore is the beach park. Between Changi Point (Changi Ferry Road) and Changi Point sits the calm 28-hectare beach known as Changi Beach (Changi Ferry Road). A 3.3 km long park is present. This tourist destination provides a range of entertaining pastimes, such as a stroll along the beach on a nice day.

Here, you may also take your family on picnics. And from there, you can even see the sunset. A excellent place for camping and BBQ gatherings is Changi Beach. Nearby is Bistro@Changi, a restaurant. Changi Village offers a wide variety of tasty seafood alternatives.

Bioluminescent Experiences in Karnataka

Karnataka is “One State Many Worlds, without a doubt! To explore a different aspect of travelling through this beautiful state, I take you on a path that is en-Lightening, in literal sense- ‘Bioluminescence’. Bioluminescence is a naturally occurring phenomenon of production and emission of light in living organisms. Apart from the visual treat to senses that they offer, the presence of these organisms can tell a lot about our environment as well.

With the Arabian Sea forming the entire coastal belt and the Western Ghats forming most of the green-cover of Karnataka, it is easy to witness bioluminescence anywhere in the state. Traversing a path from the southern rainforests of the state to the northern plainlands through the coastal beaches across all the seasons, here is a list of the different kinds of bioluminescence that one can experience in Karnataka.

  1. Fireflies: An aerial illumination for spectators, these insects produce light to attract a potential mate. Abundant during the months of pre-monsoon showers and summers, the untouched sacred groves and the organic farms of Kodagu and Malenadu offer a post sunset visual delight. A good number of fireflies indicates the good soil and air quality.
  2. Bioluminescent planktons: These light emitting micro-organisms are present in the sea water. They produce a greenish-blue light when disturbed. This means, they produce light irrespective of day or night but can be seen with normal eyes after dark. These glowing waters can be viewed at their brightest best on a no-moon night between two consecutive monsoon months. But what is not the brighter about it is the fact that the brighter the sea glows due to these planktons, the poorer is the health of the sea water.
  3. Bioluminescent fungi: This can be the hardest find of them all. Enter the core of the rainforest during the peak of the monsoon season, with a slow and careful walk and without use of any torch or flashlights. Only if you are lucky, you can spot these glowing sticks or the fallen barks covered by the glowing fungi. Documented sightings have been found in Karnataka, but I’m sure the Western Ghats are home to more species of luminant mushrooms.
  4. Glow worms: These are larvae of some insects that can be largely found along the banks of streams, rivers and under the foliage on moist ground. An indication of healthy soil, these worms emit light to ward off predators and visually offering a delight to the human eyes.

Have you witnessed any other bioluminescent experiences? Are there any specific place that you wish to share your stories about? Do let me know in comments below!

A Rare Connection of Hockey Between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

I have been fortunate to meet many like-minded people online, through travel blogging. Recently, I happened to meet one of such friends offline, during his visit to Bangalore. He greeted me with a souvenir, a nice palm leaf box containing chikkis. He explained that it was the ‘panai olai petti’ containing the famous candies from his hometown. After I returned home, a little bit of online browsing about this souvenir unfolded some interesting facts for me.

The palm leaf box containing the Kovilpatti chikki
The palm leaf box containing the Kovilpatti chikki

Talking about the southern states of India, two neighbours have a lot in common. What triggered this thought were the names of places starting with the letter ‘K’, one from each state. Kodagu and Kovilpatti from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu respectively. Meanwhile, the ‘C’ is what makes these two ‘K’ places famous. ‘Cauvery’, the holy river originates in Kodagu and ‘Chikkis’, the peanut candies of Kovilpatti has earned a GI tag for itself. Enough is written and done on the internet about either of the places.

Palm leaf boxes of Kovilpatti mithai being Repurposed as planters
Palm leaf boxes of Kovilpatti mithai being Repurposed as planters

But what turned out to be more surprising and a rather rare connection between the two ‘K’ places of these states is their common love for the National sport of India- Hockey. In my earlier post, I have mentioned how the largest festival in the world dedicated for any sport (hockey) is celebrated in Kodagu. But what I learn now is that Kovilpatti too, shares its history with Indian military and the influences of the British to have a strong hockey culture. With at least a dozen hockey clubs and several players making it to the Indian national team over time, the people of Kovilpatti have an unabated enthusiasm for the national sport.

What I do know is, that there are several other lesser-known places in India where people celebrate sports other than cricket. Only initiatives by governments, support from sponsors and adequate media publicity can encourage and motivate more people to nurture a sporting culture in our country, anything other than cricket.

I Belong to Everywhere: Uttarahalli

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- “I Belong to Everywhere: Napoklu

‘Uttarahalli’ translates to ‘Northern Village’ in Kannada. The irony is, it is located in the southern-most part of Bangalore. This is the current place of residence of my family and is also the last post in this series. This home seems like a perfect retirement plan for a family that seeks a little bit of nature in the midst of a bustling metropolitan city.

With very little vacant space available, my parents try to grow their own vegetables and fruits, welcome birds and squirrels to have meals with them and sip their ‘kaapi’ while watching the sun go down. These are some among many other things they do to keep themselves running through the day.

The sparrows in my portico
The sparrows in my portico

The area is soaked in rich history as well.. While the ‘Vasantha Vallabharaya swamy temple’ dates back to the Chola era, an adjacent cave is believed to be the place where Rishi Mandavya had meditated.

The Turahalli forest is a small patch of lung space nearby, that joggers, cyclists, conservationists and the realtors all seem to have an eye on!

The latest addition to the landmarks is ISKCON’s ‘Krishna Leela theme park’ located on the Vaikunta hill. The sunrises and rainbows on cloudy days are mesmerizing, adding a backdrop to the view of this temple from my doorstep.

Annual fair of Vasanthavallabha temple, Vasanthapura, Bangalore

This is the last post of this series: “I Belong to Everywhere“. I hope you all have enjoyed time travelling with me hopping on- and off from Bangalore to Kodagu. Which place did you like the most? What place would you want to go after reading my posts? What more do you want to know about, from these places?

I Belong to Everywhere: Napoklu

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- “I Belong to Everywhere: Yelahanka

Napoklu is a small town located in Madikeri Taluk, in the northern part of Kodagu district. I have spent several memorable holidays here, living a high energy childhood. There are several places of interests for tourists and local pilgrimage that are centered around Napoklu. Some of them are ‘Sri Makki Sastavų temple’, ‘Chelavara waterfalls’ etc. The ‘puttari festival’ is one of the best and the most elaborate one celebrated by the Kodava clan native to Napoklu.

Puttari festival at Kolu Mand

If any of you find a tinge of madness in me, it is likely that it has been due to the influence of my cousin who hails from this town. He has been my closest friend as we both grew up together, roaming farms, fields and streams. On weekends when he didn’t come to our grandparents’ house in Madikeri, we would be roaming together, around the other places that are mentioned in this series of posts.

Although I have spoken about how I developed the awareness for conservation of wildlife in one of my earlier posts, but it is in Napoklu, that I originally imbibed the qualities of empathy for animals. Apart from the cattle, dogs and cats that I was surrounded with in Madikeri, my cousin had birds, fishes, tortoises, rabbits and poultry in his house. They shared a unique bond with him. While during the days, we caught dragonflies with aquarium nets, we chased fireflies at night and trapped them all together in empty glass jars to create a mini ecosystem of our own.

Beetles and ladybugs
Beetles and ladybugs

If you wonder how I know some names of celebrities from across the globe, it is because we followed them. I watched Formula-One, WWF, Tennis and Cricket without missing a single match or a tournament, because the TV remote would always be with this guy and I had no option. The craziest automobile geek I had ever known, much until I became an automobile engineer and met a few other geeks along the way, was this cousin alone. We traded ‘trump cards’ and fought each other over the ownership rights of the rarest WWF and Cricket cards. We still hold back some of these treasured collections and often reminisce those good days of innocent fun. These are the same things that trigger little momentous joy to me even today and that which helps me spread positive energy.

To be continued as- “I Belong to Everywhere: Uttarahalli

I Belong to Everywhere: Yelahanka

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- “I Belong to Everywhere: Jalahalli

In this post, I’m going to tell you about my connection with ‘Yelahanka’, an area located on the northern side of Bengaluru. It is rather popular for the air force station located here. And that’s also why Yelahanka has my heart with it.

This is where my engineering college was located, at very close proximity to the Airforce base. My love for airplanes has a separate post dedicated to it. This is also where the Aero- India show happens, a biennial display of India’s air might.

The campus of Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology
The campus of Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology

One of the camps of the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) is located at a little distance from my college. So, most of the morning drives to college were alongside the CRPF troops running on their daily fitness routine. The sight of camouflaged men (at least a hundred of them), marching or running in a single line, with rifles in their hands, weight bags on their backs and the tapping of their heavy boots were just enough motivation for a girl whose little heart goes numb in front of any man wearing uniform of the forces.

And then there are days when we bunked classes and we set out on adventure activities: Adventures of sneaking into random grape vineyards around the college campus, grab a few bunches before being pelted with stones by the farmers if caught 😀 It was sort of days of co-existence between the farmers / local villagers and the students. The students just lived up their share of fun from their college days and the villagers were just entertaining themselves with our tactics.

Some structures at Gantiganahalli, Yelahanka
Some structures at Gantiganahalli, Yelahanka

The Yelahanka we know today wasn’t the same back then. There were hardly any good restaurants, cafes or any place where we could hangout apart from the college canteen. Some of the addas that the students would swear by are the railway tracks, the lake, the stables and Balaji. Well, mention these places to any student from this college and watch their expression: These were not just places, these were emotions.

And the most fun rides were those when we wanted to bunk classes and to find transportation to reach to wherever we wanted to go (out of Yelahanka). Back in those days, the college bus was the only available mode of transportation from college until the airport road / highway. If any commutation was required during the day (if we bunked, that is!), the only options were to either hitch a ride or walk to cover the distance of almost 4-5 kilometers. On some days we sat pillion, some days a bumpy lorry, on some days were cars with AC and some days, we sat on haystack and tractors that carried firewood.

Gantiganahalli lake, Yelahanka
A view of the Su-30 on the otherside of the Lake.

Yelahanka is where I have spent four memorable years of college, a place that has made me worthy of a human being and that has guided me towards earning my own food. Yelahanka will always be closest to me, because my heart will always be wandering around my college (in the form of fighter planes :P)

To be continued as- “I Belong to Everywhere: Napoklu

I Belong to Everywhere: Jalahalli

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- “I Belong to Everywhere: Theralu

Jalahalli is a locality in the Northern part of Bengaluru where my family stayed for a brief period until I finished my graduation in Yelahanka. Being involved in sports, languages, music, travelling and so many other things along with regular college, some of the busiest days of my late teens were spent here.

On a lighter note, our family lived with a confused identity for all the years spent at Jalahalli. We were surrounded by employees of BEL and HMT in majority, and none in our family worked at either of these organizations. More often, we struggled to decide which side to take when we had friends from both these companies sitting on either side of a discussion table 😀

The seven signature clocks of HMT
Above: The seven signature clocks of HMT placed in different cities of India Below: Floral clock at Lal Bagh, Bangalore

The BEL sports ground was one of our favorite places, where I accompanied my father for his evening walks and my brother for his hockey matches, while catching up on conversations with some of the who’s who of Indian hockey. The Ganesha temple in the BEL colony was one of the go-to places when my family wanted a shot of calmness, not in praying but by simply soaking in the tranquility of the silent atmosphere.

The HMT sports complex, HMT hospital, HMT theater, HMT employees’ quarters and the HMT shopping complex were less just concrete structures and more like emotions.

A racing heart while entering the ‘Jalahalli Airforce station’ would calm down only after a plate of parathas from the air force canteen and some tasty samosas and Sondesh at the Bengali sweet meat stall at Gangamma circle. Catching up with friends mostly happened on the new-BEL road or at Malleswaram.

The entrance to Jalahalli Airforce Station at Gangamma circle
The entrance to Jalahalli Airforce Station at Gangamma circle

Well, Jalahalli is a place which reflected the importance of having a friendly neighborhood. Even when any of us had to stay alone at home, there was always someone from the neighborhood checking on our safety and sharing food with us. The months of yuletide were especially memorable because the carol singers came to all houses and we all made merry together.

We left Jalahalli and thus, North Bengaluru to finally come one full circle by making South Bengaluru our forever home (where we currently reside at).

To be continued as “I Belong to Everywhere: Yelahanka

I Belong to Everywhere: Theralu

This is an attempt to bring back nostalgia. Continued from- “I Belong to Everywhere: Chamarajpet“.

This is a small village in South Kodagu that is closer to Kerala borders than it is to Madikeri. This is where my maternal cousins originally hail from, and they went to school with me at some point while staying together at our maternal grandparents’ house. So, it was natural that I too would accompany them to their native village on several occasions when they went to their parent’s house at Theralu.

Apart from the expansive Tata tea estates and the Kerala borders some of the other popular landmarks that I enjoyed day tripping here were Irupu waterfalls, Mrithyunjaya temple and the Nagarhole National Park.

For all that I can remember from those visits were that there were people speaking and following different culture than I was familiar with. All the workers that worked in both my maternal and paternal hometowns were from the local tribal communities who spoke and ate quite same as what I did at home. But those working at my Uncle’s estate in Theralu spoke so many different languages. The larger group had almost created a mini-Assam in the site of their labourers quarters. They had built so many structures, equipment, tools out of bamboo (the most common site in all over Assam) and ate food that was made with ingredients that we in Kodagu didn’t know were edible until we saw them.

The Glenlorna tea estate Coorg
The Glenlorna tea estate Coorg

This is also where I was introduced to Tamil language and their movies. A large group of workers came to work in the farm at Theralu during the peak coffee harvest season and returned back to Tamil Nadu after the season ended. During evenings or on weekends, these workers often came to my cousins house to watch TV. Although I didn’t know their language and didn’t comprehend with most things they communicated, I picked up names of the stars whom they clapped hands in enjoyment or sounded a “Shhhhhh” to express disappointment while watching their favorite stars on the screen. In spite of not understanding a word of what the movie or tele-serial was about, it was an inevitable situation for me to sit and watch through whatever was being played 😀 Looking back at the days, those stars from the early 2000s are the only few whom I can associate with while talking about movies with a Tamilian!

Assamese kids enjoying their shower in a small stream in the estate
Assamese kids enjoying their shower in a small stream in the estate

With limited means of communication, the major exposure we had in this small hill-district was just limited to living in estates or serving the army. Here, I saw migrant workers coming from faraway places in search of ANY doable jobs, saved a portion of their limited income and sent it to their families back in their hometowns and still lived a life of modesty. I learnt that life was not all easy for people living in other parts of the earth. It always made me think and reflect how unequal and different life was for everyone. Theralu taught me lessons of gratitude for the life I am living!

To be continued as- “I Belong to Everywhere: Jalahalli