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Travel: The Ghost Town of Dhanushkodi


The Ghost Town

The Ghost Town

If you are bitten by the travel bug, then you’d love to embark on a journey which not many would even think of. Taking the road less traveled excites me and the tales of people I meet on the way moves me. When I traveled to Dhanushkodi last weekend, it had a share of both. It was exciting and the tales its people had to tell, was enriching.

Dhanushkodi, now labelled as a Ghost town and is unfit for human settlement, was a flourishing fishing town till 1964. It was home to fishermen, traders, laborers who used to work in the tea estates in Srilanka and was just like any Indian town of the 1960s. It was also on the railway map and the then popular “Boatmail” from Chennai was running, primarily for the transportation of goods and passengers all the way to Srilanka. Yes, Srilanka is just 18 km from Dhanushkodi. (Haven’t heard the News of our fishermen allegedly venturing into the Srilankan territories frequently? ).

All we see are the sights of the beautiful sea around

All we see are the sights of the beautiful sea around

Everything was to change on that dreadful night of the 22nd December 1964 when a cyclone washed away the entire town of Dhanushkodi. YES, an ENTIRE TOWN. The leftovers are just the  dilapidated walls of a church, a water tank, the railway station and the remains of submerged houses. You get a feel of pain and sadness while walking through the remains. You silently wonder how quickly a town would’ve turned into a nothingness of nothing.

Dilapidated remains of the old church

Dilapidated remains of the old church

once a flourishing town, its all a nothingness of nothing now!!

once a flourishing fishing town, its all a nothingness of nothing now!!

Dhanushkodi is 18 km from Rameswaram. This includes a 10 km adventurous ride through the saline beach sands all the way to the tip of Dhanushkodi. This could be as thrilling as any of the desert drives of Dubai. Only the jeeps and vans are allowed after the check point. The unbelievable scenes during the journey would be the sights of sea waters on either side of you and the sounds of sea waves caressing the shores. The azure sea waters are so photogenic that you’ll end up clicking half the time. In fact I did just that.

Azure sea waters

Azure sea waters

panoramic view of the coastline

panoramic view of the coastline

I am bitten by the travel bug again!!

I am bitten by the travel bug again!!

Of all the places that I’ve been to as a traveler, Dhanushkodi will probably be more closer to my heart. Not because it was my recent travel destination, but for the history attached to it and the mesmerizing scenes and sounds that the scenic town offers you.

Pardon me! It's fashionable to take a selfie where ever you go! Here's one, all the way from the tip of Dhanushkodi :-)

Pardon me! It’s fashionable to take a selfie where ever you go! Here’s one, all the way from the tip of Dhanushkodi 🙂

Interesting Know-How on Dhanushkodi:

  • Dhanushkodi is one of Mani Ratnam’s favourite shooting spot. The films Kannathil Mutthamittal and Kadal were shot here.
  • Our most loved President Dr. Avul Pakir Jainullabudeen Abdul Kalam was born here.
  • Rama Sethu, to which a lot of Hindu sentiments are attached, is here. It was also here that Sri Rama conducted the Pattabhisekam of Ravana’s brother Vibheeshana, after the battle against Ravana.
  • The entire area is under the watch of Customs and the Coast Guard. And no one is allowed beyond 5PM.
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Soccer Fever in the Samba Land


As all the roads lead to the Samba land for the ultimate Football festival, this post is just a humble attempt in letting the world know that I too will be following the beautiful game. Yes, my country languishes at 154 in the FIFA rankings. Yes, in my country, its only about Cricket, which is preceeded by Cricket and more Cricket follows. It doesn’t matter. We’ll become overnight football fanatics during the world cup. When the ball starts rolling, Kolkata, Kerala and Goa will just resemble one of the streets of Sao Paulo itself. Giant screens are set up in the leading pubs and sports bars of Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. Kolkata will carry over the passion it exhibits in an East Bengal- Mohan Bagan clash, to cheering the Messis, Neymars and Ronaldos. Northern Kerala is already resembling a battle field with the Brazilian and Argentinian fans locking horns. And Goa has gone a step further by sending its ministers to Brazil, apparently to ‘study’ the game.

Kerala- during the World Cup

Kerala- during the World Cup ( from Twitter )

 

So, what are my memories of the world cup. I do remember, in bits and pieces and crumbs, the Ronaldo phenomenon in France in 1998. About how the bald headed youngster took Brazil into the finals. But the images are so little and is limited to what my soccer crazy Dad used to tell me.

I do remember the 2002 edition at Korea and Japan clearly. The South Koreans kept churning out surprises after surprises in the knock out stages and ended up in the last four.  The ‘Good Bye France’ write-up by one of the fans, was an instant hit. Turkish forward Hakan Sukur’s fastest goal in the history, bagged me vital points in the Sports Quiz competition held at school, a little later. But overall, this world cup saw the sheer Brazilian dominance. We had our first sighting of Ronaldinho, who had a meteoric rise to fame. Then there was Roberto Carlos with his twirling free kicks, the ever graceful Cafu, the veteran stalwart Rivaldo and of course, our very own bald headed sensation Ronaldo.

2006 was very different in its own ways. By now, I had become a loyal German fan. I giggled every time they did well and was dejected when they lost in the Semis. Zidane’s headbutt, Brazil’s below par outing, Christiano Ronaldo- Rooney ugly face off were the highlights, in what is according to me, a very dull world cup. By the way, I didn’t like Italy being crowned the world champions!

Now coming on to my favorite of all the world cups! South Africa, 2o10. Social Media was just about beginning to change our lives. And so the Pre- and Post-match analysis were through facebook posts and tweets. But what made the world cup so interesting was the way the Rainbow nation had organized the event. The African flavour was there to see everywhere. Waka Waka, Vuvu Zela and Jabulani had become household words. The on-field events were equally glamorous. Germany, with its youngsters, displayed a brand of football which was breathtakingly fast and so wonderful to watch. It only failed against the boring yet effective Tok Tok tactics of Spain. Ghana won our hearts and that douche bag Luiz Suarez, perennial brickbats. Messi of Argentina was miles behind in class and form of Messi of Barcelona. And there were stars, in Wesley Sneijder, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller, Iniesta, Xavi and a list of Spanish stars from Barcelona. In the end, as our Ravi Shastri says, Football was the winner.

This world cup offers so much excitement, for it is held in Brazil, the land of Edison Arantes Do Nascimento ( Pele ). It’ll be interesting to see the likes of Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo, along with the German teenagers of 2010 and the defending champions. In the battle between the magic of South American Soccer and the Dour machine like professionalism of Europeans, I hope football fans are entertained to the core. Go Germany, I am cheering for you guys, as usual.

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Travel- the religious towns of coastal Karnataka


Coastal Karnataka. This is where I was to head, after my desired trip to Sikkim was called off. And as I pen down this blog post, I know that I have absolutely no regrets. I might have missed out on the spectacular view of the Kanchenjunga, but I’m glad I explored the fishy-smelled coastal towns and gasped in awe at the architecture of the temples here.

The train curved along the coastal Kerala on its way to Mangalore. What made the journey so spectacular, were the images like these:

Backwaters are such a common sight

Backwaters are such a common sight

 

Another one

Another one

 

Coastal Karnataka, from Mangalore and extending all the way to Gokarna, is very much Kerala. The images of backwaters cutting cross the mainlands, the fishing boats and Chinese fishing nets, took me to Allepey and Cochin. I wonder why the backwater beauties of Karnataka continue to remain untapped. There is just so much for the backpackers, to blog about. The serene surroundings are still untouched.  Wake up Karnataka Tourism !!

Temple visits dominated the trip. That’s what happens with pious parents. Anyway, the temple town of Udupi is so pleasing to stay. From the temples all around to the famous Udupi and Pai restaurants, one will instantly feel at home. A ten-minute drive from the town, will take you to the impressive Manipal campus- the Alma mater of the CEO of Microsoft. It is a town in itself. It has got its multiplexes and malls. A string of International brands too have their outlets here. Udupi lies on the way of the NH17 which connects Mangalore and Goa. The journey northwards from Udupi along NH17 is a driver’s delight. Smooth curved highways and a scenic view on either side, never makes you feel tired. There are numerous temples on the way, the Kollur Mookambiga Temple, Shiva Temple of Murudeshwar and then, of course Gokarna. And I was spellbound by the landscape in Murudeshwar….

 

 

Kollur Mookambiga Temple

Kollur Mookambiga Temple

 

Udupi Krishna Temple

Udupi Krishna Temple

 

The Magnificent Shiva Temple, Murudeshwar

The Magnificent Shiva Temple, Murudeshwar

 

The Towering Gopuram of the Murdeshwar Shiva Temple

The Towering Gopuram of the Murdeshwar Shiva Temple

 

The shot from Bhagavad Geetha, Murudeshwar

The shot from Bhagavad Geetha, Murudeshwar

 

One of the cleanest beaches in India, Murudeshwar

One of the cleanest beaches in India, Murudeshwar

 

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The Big Daddy Elections!! India Votes


Election time. The world’s largest democracy goes to the polls and in a month’s time, it will have a new government and a new Prime Minister (to go by what the exit polls say). Everyone talks about the election these days. Even the World Cup T20 final involving India seemed secondary. Newspapers compete to publish columns, both in support of and against the political parties. News Channels are banking on the high profile election debates to increase their TRPs. There are political rallies every day. I stay glued to Twitter when all these happen, as every sensible, intellectual and highly practical discussions take place there. From slaps to hate speeches, you get different perceptions for every political event, some over-serious while some interestingly funny! It only remains to be seen how many of them who rant about political issues in social media, actually go and cast their votes when their time comes. Or will they remain content in asking others to vote is to be seen.

The election campaign is so much fun.

In the Bangalore South Constituency where Nandan Nilekani is contesting, look how they’re scaring the shit out of little kids! May be we should try this trick with our VVS Laxman masks every time India play against the Australians. Just to scare them!

The Nilekani Masks

The Nilekani Masks!   Photo courtesy: Deccan Herald photo gallery

The elections are about capturing National attention, unlike Kerala where they are so obsessed with the LDF and UDF that they simply do not a give a rat’s ass on who’s set to form a government in Delhi. Most literate state in the country? My foot. Learn from the DMK in Tamilnadu. Self trolling reached new heights when they put out posters like these:

Their nephew did those Anti-Hindi protests in the 1970s

Their nephew did those Anti-Hindi protests in the 1970s

I wonder who orchestrated all those Anti-Hindi protests in the 70s and the 80s. Perhaps someone’s nephew. So, even the DMK has understood that you need to be in sync with the national interests for national elections. By the way, Nonagenarian Muthuvel Karunanidhi Saab would’ve surely written those Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha exams.

Forget the DMK. Jayalalithaa will give them a fitting answer to this U-turn. But what about Mamata Bannerjee? Will she be a little sympathetic towards the Comrades in Bengal, who look completely out of sorts? Or will continue to be the aggressive Bengali woman? Don’t worry, the communists will discuss how to handle Mamata in their Next politburo. Given the age that they still live in, one may expect that politburo meeting to be held only next year. But wait, they’re recently into Twitter and Facebook, okay. So, don’t accuse them of still floating in the seventeenth century. Talking of floating, Nitish Kumar’s ship in Bihar is on the verge of sinking. Coming to Uttar Pradesh, well, let’s leave it there. I have no idea what the father-son duo are upto there. So, we’ll skip UP.

I do not want to talk about the AAP either; for they’re yet to respond to this letter (An open letter to the AAP) that I wrote to them after their stellar performance in Delhi four months back. Forget their response, they’ve still not let us know their stand on the critical issues pertaining to the country.

I’d vote for the party which will take India forward. More importantly, for a Prime Ministerial candidate who talks and doesn’t sit in Dharnas when given the task of governing.

P.S.  Voting is not only our right but also our duty. Do not shy away from showing your inked finger. Even if it happens to be your middle finger. You’ll get away with it. Ask the Bachchans.

Make obscene gestures and still get away with it

Make obscene gestures and still get away with it

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chennai


In less than a month, I had made a couple of visits to Chennai. The last visit over the weekend pushed me to write a blog post on this wonderful city. First things first, Chennai is a very likeable city. Pretty much like Bangalore. But someone should ensure that its people behave while supporting the Chennai Super Kings and its weather behaves, then Chennai easily is my second most favorite city in India after Bangalore (of course). And wait, stop envying Bangalore also. Okay?

Chennai has got its beaches, the Marina , the VGP Golden, Besant Nagar (there may be a few more). And the Marina is one huge beach. I remember learning from my Quizzing days that it is the second longest beach in the world. Chennai owes so much to Marina, for it is Marina which saved Chennai from the gigantic Tsunami waves. Marina nullified the effect of Tsunami to less than 40%.

Marina Beach- a panoramic view

Marina Beach- a panoramic view

Aside an abandaned boat

Aside an abandoned boat

Marina is Chennai’s pride. I’ve always cherished my evening strolls here. The small snack stalls here are just not be missed. I’ve heard about the giant screens that they install here for screening India’s crunch cricket matches. I can’t even think of how electrifying the atmosphere would be then.

My favourite place in Chennai is Mylapore because that’s where I spend most my time during the course of stay here. The Maami- Ambi culture of Mylapore impresses me. Be it the Maami Kada Dosa near the Kapaleshwar temple or the Mada Veedhi shops surrounding the area. The Maami Kada Dosa is the second most delicious dish in the world (after of course Mom’s recipes). There are ample number of vegetarian eateries around. So, get ready for a tryst with the taste buds here. Quite understandably, you’ll barely find a non-veg restaurant in the vicinity.

Mylapore is home to a lot of sacred-thread fellows. Curd rice is the secret of their energy. They are the real all rounders. Their mannerisms might puzzle us. Take out The Hindu Newspaper, Carnatic Music classes, Quizzing, Cricket chatters and Rajnikanth from their life, they’ll ponder over the purpose of their very own existence. Here’s the career path of 90% of them:  CBSE–>IIT–>MS–>America Maplai (Bridegroom)–>Attains Moksha.

Kapaleshwar Temple Festival, Mylapore

Kapaleshwar Temple Festival, Mylapore

Don’t show your face to any of the fifty year olds here, without having acquired a Master of Sciences degree from some frigging University in USA. You might be the CEO of a million dollar company or an author dishing out a hand full of best sellers but without the MS, you’re nothing. Do you still harbour any doubt on MS Dhoni’s huge fan following in this part of the country? This is the reason. A frigging MS. As in the case of MS Swaminathan. MS Subbulakshmi. MS Vishwanathan. MS. MS. MS.

What else in Chennai? The textile kingdoms in T Nagar. In terms of style and fashion, though the Chennai-ites are a tad behind the other metros, the likes of Pothys and Chennai Silks have a pretty impressive selection of garments, especially the Sarees. I have heard that Chennai isn’t a party-hopping lot, though I’ve heard that a few pubs and discos have come up owing to the IT companies which have sprung up in different parts of the city.

When you throw a stone in Bangalore, the probability of hitting a software engineer is more. But try throwing it in Chennai, it’s a fair chance that it might hit an engineering student. There are umpteen number of engineering colleges and arts colleges here. Mind you those are damn good ones. No city in the country gives as much importance to education as Chennai does. Still wondering why Chennai is considered to be one of the most knowledgeable cricket crowds? Chennai-ites are an educated lot. Don’t judge them merely by their fascination for Vijayakanth movies, okay?

So, don’t expect to go to Chennai to party or to hang out in the Malls. Chennai is a different city. It’s orthodox (except for Krishnamachari Srikanth). It knows a lot of stuffs (ask its quizzers). It has got its Masala Dosas to bowl you over. It is crazy about its film stars. It takes a lot of pride in talking about the power of N.Srinivasan. And it doesn’t shy away from taking a dig at Bangalore, more than often.

 

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Foodies on Shivarathri


It was quite ironic that most of the people in my Twitter timeline were talking about food, on the day of Shivarathri, when almost everyone took to fasting. Couple of food junkies added me in Instagram. A friend suddenly tweets, asking me to suggest her the must try-out eateries in Bangalore. And there were special items on the cafeteria menu. How ironic! To add to all of these, Prinku sends me the pics of the dishes that we had ordered the previous day. And yes, we did have a wonderful day with the different taste buds.

Au Bon Pain:

Au Bon Pain

French Breakfast @ Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain has been my most preferred place for breakfast after the Dosa outlets and the Kerala restaurants in Bangalore. I stumbled upon this French cafe bakery one fine day, when I was going through Shivya’s blog (www.the-shooting-star.com ) and what immediately struck me was their in-cafe nutritional kiosks. Pesto and Sandwiches are my favorite and depending upon the mood, I make a choice between the cappuccinos and mango smoothies. The calorie counts on every menu item is displayed and the choice is all yours to go for low-calorie, low-fat or a vegan dietary. I love the ambiance here and they play some soothing numbers in the mornings.

Tacobell:

Mexican Lunch @ Tacobell

Mexican Lunch @ Tacobell

French breakfast was done with and now, it was time to turn Mexican for lunch. And so after giving it too much of a thought, we headed to Tacobell. One will instantly fall in love with Tacobell. The floral designs are all over and the food wrappings will make any creative designer blush. I always go for the Kathitos; for there is something in these Chat-pata rolls taste-alike, that I keep going back to again and again. Nachos, Burritos, Tacos and Cinnabon delights too are worth having a try. Top them all with the unlimited soft drinks that’s available. Yes, you can drink Pepsi as much as you want. The icing on the cake is probably the free WiFi. You can click pictures of your dishes and instantly upload them in the social media.

Mango shots from the CCD have always tempted me. And because you have CCDs lurking around almost every corner in Bangalore, it wouldn’t take much of a time. I always love the CCD, despite the hopeless Coffee that they serve. The sizzlers are out of the world here, along with the Mango shots of course. But I get fascinated by the Cafe Digest newspaper that they have, the contents of which deserve being featured in page 2 of the TOI. Needless to say, I cherish all the coffee table conversations here.

shots @ CCD

shots @ CCD

Well, it was all foodies on Shivarathri…

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Indian Cricket – stooping to an all time low!


Everyday starts with me, lying in the bed, under the quilt and holding my smartphone; conveniently tapping my ways through the timelines of Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and my new found love, Instagram. It’s a daily routine that roughly extends to half an hour in the morning.Timeline in all these social networking sites didn’t look that impressive this morning. None of the hot chicks in my friends list had changed their profile pictures. Everyone in Twitter were still jobless busy in discussing the screwing of Rahul Gandhi by Arnab Goswami. Mails regarding my freelance work too were not be seen. That was when I arrived at youtube. The best thing about it is that it exactly knows what you like and itself recommends a list of videos. As I strolled through the options, the one which caught my eye was the ongoing India’s seemingly disastrous tour of New Zealand.
Let us face it. Indian cricket is facing a crisis. The masters of the flat tracks bat like school boys when the ball zips, swings, seams and bounces in alien conditions. Be it Australia. England. South Africa. or New Zealand. The same set of boys who make a mockery of targets in excess of 350 in ODIs in India, have now been found wanting. It will be grossly unfair if I do not exclude Virat Kohli from all the bashing. The brashly Delhi batsman has already become an ODI legend. Hang on. He has already done enough, for me to compose a separate blog post on him. So, that’s about Virat for now.
Why do we call the current situation, a crisis? We’ve always been poor travelers and were bound to struggle overseas. Our stats men will agree to that. Wouldn’t they? But my generation will not. For us, Indian team always meant ‘Business’ overseas. The team we saw while growing up, consisted of a bunch of honorable cricketers. They were the fighters, which none dared to take for granted. They had this mix of experience and youth, which gelled beautifully to give us the results. They had the leader who could put his hand around his bowler’s shoulder and telling him that he is going to win us the Test match.
I am trying hard to not make the IPL as the punching bag. We resemble the team of the early 90s. Kohli scores, we win and if he doesn’t, rarely barely do we win. Though MSD’s batting in ODIs has been as consistent as anyone’s, his Midas touches as captain seem to have vanished. His team selections make the Indian Hockey selection committee look angelic. The bowlers try hard to get into the all time list of worst bowlers. Suddenly Indian fans have awakened to the reality that Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra were the McGraths and Akrams during their times.
It’s easier to make scapegoats, but tougher to provide solutions. First things first, England have sacked their coach. So why not send this Duncan Fletcher back to where he belongs and bring in one of our own retired guys to coach. Second, pick players in the squad purely for cricketing reasons. There must be something beyond the cricketing reasons that Cheteshwar Pujara doesn’t figure in the ODI squad. Thirdly, my 11 year old cousin knows how Suresh Raina gets out in International cricket but it looks like our selectors and captain doesn’t.  And fourthly, dear BCCI, asking for a large chunk of ICC’s share is fine, but how are you going to use it to produce a Dale Steyn?
An Indian Cricket Fan, moves on!!