Tag Archives: Heartbeats

A journey to the lap of Sahyas ( Silent valley)

Ever since  I read ‘River’s end‘ by Nora Roberts I have wanted to visit a forest reserve and to go on a trail . I am not one who speaks loud about my dreams . May be this is the first time any of you hear about my innate dreams .

Then after I turned to child driven learning I was inspired by Tiffany’s posts on their visits to National Parks . My search for National parks in Kerala ended at Silent Valley . The valley formed by the southern range of Western ghats or ‘Sahyas’ and Northern range of Nilgiri hills. One of the most protected regions of Kerala . ( By protection I mean from human interference or invasion ) 😛 One thing is the word has a pull in it . The place was named ‘Silent valley’ by the British as there are no crickets in this place and the forest is some what silent in the night.The western ghats and the rain forests have been one of my all time passions . And after almost a year of chasing the season there Hubby  booked at Parikrama travel agency a couple of  months back .

I love to plan for trips even more than the trip itself. I like to set every thing perfect , sit back and watch the family enjoying . Kids also  love to pack for the holidays . Where ever she goes Pearl takes her swim suit and dolls and is good to go. Ruby packs every single book he can find related to the place plus his comics and story books . They love to sing along with the music cds .We have this habit of visiting places during off season and we love to have the place to ourselves . This time also it was the same as it  was the Christmas eve .

We started early morning and reached Palghat by afternoon . If any of you pass Palghat at Noon see that you go to ‘Hotel Nalanda ‘ . Food is great . Especially sambar and the non-veg dishes .We stayed at KTDC ‘Tamarind ‘ . The valley is almost 20 kms from the hotel . But later we came to know there are tree top villas near to the park which could have been better choice . The entries to the park has to be booked in advance which is mandatory .Timings are from 8.00 am to 1 pm . There is a bus and few jeeps. No private vehicle is allowed .

We set out at 7.00 in the morning . Three of us ( me and kids) wearing camouflaged dresses and hubby in a blue kurta and jeans .

Inside the park it is real forest .  The trail has some tribal colonies and coffee plantations in the buffer zone .

Ruby looking down at the attapadi tribal village

The attraction to the place is not the animals but the forest . The undergrowth is very thick which makes it difficult to spot animals . For spotting animals Parambikkulam , Walpara , Karadimala etc. are more ideal choices . But as I have said earlier the name has a pull . With the classes on eco system and all just starting I wanted to introduce the kids to the habitat of Jungle.

Hubby asked the driver cum guide about the chances to come across big wild animals and he said people have come across bears and tigers but there have been no casualties yet . I prayed to God to spare my kids 😉 Once into the core area it is thick jungle . The environment changed and the sun light faded . Ruby kept on telling about the freshness of the air. On the way we got out of the jeep to see some black macaws and the silence pressed on us . It is a sweet and heavy feeling .

As a kid , I have always imagined this place to be the abode of Kapeesh, Pintu , Mottu, Peelu, Bandila, Balu,and all of them in ‘Poombatta’ . And it looked and felt the same !!!

The jeep carried us to a point called Sairandri which has a watch tower to see the mountainous beauty around. And that is the last point where any vehicle is allowed. In between I spotted two leeches on my feet. They seemed to be  great fans of geometric symmetry . We knocked them away and my feet bled for another two hours. Later I learned we can use salt to keep them away.

The watch tower is the high light of Sairandri . It is huge and even though climbing it is a bit tricky the view from up there is breath taking .

I stand here on the top of these mountains . The air is thick and resounds with all the poems written on the beauty of my land. Who would not want to write about this overwhelming beauty. I feel like a school girl listening intently to the Malayalam lessons . I bow my head to all those great poets who were moved by these immovable monuments of nature to pen verses even more beautiful .

The panoramic view reminded me of the beautiful lines from a patriotic song. ‘kaanuka kaanuka janma bhuvin komala malar meni’ which can be translated as ‘ come and see the gentle beauty of my mother land ‘ .

The Kunthi river as seen from the watch tower . It flows about 28 kms in the deep forest untouched by human hands. It is believed that Pandavas spend their hiding time during the exile in one of the caves near the river .

At Sairandri there is a forest museum with elaborate descriptions of the flora and fauna of the area. Every thing works with solar energy . The sound machine was not working . Instead Ruby mimicked some of the wild animals . 😀

We couldn’t go down to the river for the hike as the elephant herds were out and roaming and the trail was closed . They warned us there is no definite path to run back if the elephants came after us.  I was let down for a while. Anyway we couldn’t have walked 4 kms up and down with the kids. We saw some mountain squirrels and then started our way back.

On our way we came across forest turmeric, forest ginger, forest plantain , forest gooseberry …. Finally we got the trick we have to prefix every thing with forest 😀 We had started the safari early at 8.00 am and it was almost 1.00pm. Kids were getting tired. Sitting in the jeep I intently searched for lion tailed macaws up in the trees. Instead I was treated with a view of variety of birds, some more mountain squirrels and black macaws.

Then all at once hubby and the guide shouted ‘Tiger “!!! The cat came running from the level above our path and jumped to the next level. No. I didn’t see it . Neither did the kids. My eyes were fixed on the trees and kids were slumping on the front seat. Only hubby and the guide saw him. And the family who was with us was really disappointed. But with an open jeep and the beast running very fast probably in the midst of a hunt it was wiser to move on.  Anyway he ran into the forest and we couldn’t have followed him. Kids got very excited. The whole journey back was filled with tiger stories.

We were the ones dressed up in camouflage and all and Hubby was the lucky one to sight the real beast. And that is what I love most about him. He always get better of me without even trying. Even wild animals know who pays the bills hmm… I wonder how words get around in the jungle.

Back at the hotel we visited another nearby dam and the next morning started our journey back home.  On our trips we rely mostly on fruits and our car smelled like a fruit cart . We discussed in length about leeches, vampire bats , their mechanisms and unique features , hirudin , how they are used in medicine and lot more.  We talked about the geographical specialties of Kerala , the western ghats , monsoons , the different uses of dams , how rivers form from springs. We moved on to evolution , dinosaurs , tigers, leopards and jaguars . We congratulated the smart tiger for his eminent camouflage that made it impossible for us to see him 😦 We wondered whether lion is a cat or a dog and promised ourselves we would check it first thing after reaching home.

Ruby spotted  some terraced farming and mushrooms and wanted to take pictures so that he can take it to his class. We passed through boards which say ‘ Agali ‘ is only a few km  and Pearl couldn’t comprehend why the place was named ‘Ugly’ !!;)

I changed the music into the 80 melodies and Ruby drifted over to the pile of books he had brought from home on jungle animals. Once in a while he put his nose up to update us on some new endangered species . By the time we reached home Pearl had convinced herself that she had seen the back and tail of the tiger and all she wanted was the school to open 😉

Just like the numerous hoardings that welcomed us at Silent Valley announced , journey to a forest is not a picnic . It is a pilgrimage to find ourselves. It is a place where silence and time speaks to you . Even if we come across the wild we leave them on their way . And we do not litter . Man is only a part of the whole chain and nothing more. We have no right to disrupt the balance of Mother nature.

2010 @ Krishnaleela

With the New year ahead just in a few days I was wondering what I was doing last year this time . With some back to back reading I figured out we were fully engrossed in exams and projects . This year with the ” Progressive assessment program ‘ CBSE schools have only two exams . Mid term exam and final exam . And with that our schedules changed a lot since last year .

Ruby and Pearl just has to study the every day portions and then , they are free .

And here at Krishnaleela we used the year for self-identifying and realising . WE were subtle . But we were also active . Kids were given complete freedom to follow whatever interests them . They are slowly loosening my ties on them and spreading their wings . I am watching them with awe .

This year Ruby had only group projects which they discuss among the group and do themselves . Parents just have to help the kids collect whatever they want . I sort of miss doing projects with him . We make a great team . But I am amazed at the ideas and organising put up by the little ones. So , I didn’t have much to post on the projects .

One other major step was Ruby started reading by himself . It had become a bit difficult for me to answer all his questions . But now I just have to see that library is well stocked . He uses his text books just as an index. He depends more on outside reading . And he carries all the relevant books to school to share with his friends .

Pearl has also started reading and every day she selects a book that I would read to her . And later she would read it on her own . Nobody asks her to . But she does this by herself. Now that she has this dance program coming up at school she is busy at school and home trying out the steps . If any of you plan to visit us, I warn you ! Please keep some time aside to watch her dance 😀

This year the only major problem from the school was /is dictations . One of the teachers is conducting a dictation program every day /any day . In fact the students do it. Any of the student dictate 10 words every day and all those who score less than 8 marks has to get a signature from the parent . With the students searching for the toughest words Ruby comes home with a score ranging from 0-5.

We were following a good spelling curriculum at home . We concentrated only on the key words according to his standards with out much pressure on him . And he was doing extremely well .   But this dictation has spoiled every thing . Now we don’t even speak about spelling other than for playing scrabble and flip words or to type on the internet . I don’t know why the teacher wants to torture the child every day of the week. It could have been done once a week or twice .

Ruby has been exploring his artistic skills with great enthusiasm . Now he is identified by his classmates as the one with great colour sense . And I too feel , his colour combinations are excellent .

I and Pearl have been through many trial and errors to bring her temper tantrums under control .  But it seems it would be wiser to leave her like she is .

I went through some major metamorphosis . I have some how managed to get a hold on my short temper which I did not think would be possible in this life . And I have finally found out something called ‘patience’ really exists. Now I can actually see people even when I am in a high temper and think beyond the moment which really is an achievement . And I realised life is not a one day match . It will not provide answers overnight .

The only thing man is entitled to do is ” Celebrate every day of life and don’t miss even the small moment of happiness life brings ” .

Between me and hubby and the ten years left behind we discovered that we will stick together through thick and thin . With every year we walk together the beauty of couple-hood is growing . May the years ahead bring more beautiful moments .

And with all these 2010 is slowly fading away and I plan to make this my sticky post until the New year and spend the holidays with lot of cuddles and snuggles in our own little world , unless I stumble upon something really interesting to share with you .

A very very Happy Christmas and Happy new year to YOU !

image courtesy - Google search

I am convinced !

Last week we had gone for a trip to Athirapally waterfalls . Like all our trips and almost everything in our life it was an impulsive decision . Five minutes we were thinking what we should do on the holiday ,  and in half an hour we were on our way to Athirapally along with our friends.

We came back the next day refreshed by the unexpected break and plunged into the daily routines . I did some serious  reorganising in the house to mark the start of second term .

The problem is hubby’s new spectacles are missing . With special lenses and all it had cost him a fortune . We searched everywhere . Under the cabins , inside the bags , inside the car , called every body who had come across , and checked every where hubby had gone these two three days .

Our only clue was the photo taken on our way back . In the snap Hubby has got his glasses .

That cuts off the beautiful villa where we had stayed and the cascade where we had spent our day .

Retracing our trip, I thought of the restaurant where we had stopped in between . As he uses the glasses mostly to drive there are chances he may just keep it somewhere when not driving.So I googled the net to find out the restaurant’s phone no. Hubby called up and talked to the cashier . Something he wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t his precious glasses .

To our great joy they had a pair of glasses which matched our description . So yesterday night itself we went to check it out . But to our dismay it was not the one we were looking for .Back home I searched the house more vigilantly but couldn’t find the glasses . I asked hubby about the box where I usually keep his glasses . It was also missing .

In a jiffy he was back with the glasses .

He found them from under the desk top monitor. Safely tucked in by me, so that he can easily get hold of them when using the computer .I could have just looked under the monitor while googling for the phone number of Aryas and saved the day .

I am convinced that the transformation is finally complete !  I am an internet freak and less human !

The beauty of silence …..

There was a time when I used to observe a young man in our youth group ,just out of curiosity.

Because he was so different from everybody else . Always had a smiling face and the most simple ways .

I always looked for his face first in the group and was bored when he didn’t turn up. But we never talked . I had a good rapport with every body else in the group but not to this person.

Why ?

I don’t know …

Once then, we all went for a camp . But this young man didn’t come for some unknown reasons .  His friends waited for him till the end .

When we came back he was there at the railway station to welcome us .

I wanted to tell him that we missed him at the camp . But thought it wouldn’t be important .

He appeared to be very happy to see his friends . They decided to hang out for a while and I went home with my father and life moved on.

A few days later , he proposed to  my parents . While we had gone for the camp he had gone to talk to his parents ( 🙄 from reliable sources )

Since then, for ten years now  that man has been surprising me , every day of my life . And I loved watching him evolve into my best friend , a dynamic husband and a loving father .

My better half ,  My love. Happy Wedding Anniversary !

Springtime by Pierre-August Cot . One of my favourite paintings . Lovers caught in spring time forever ,and nothing else in this world matters.

Edited to add , on June 11 ‘ 2011

Today Pearl asked us if it is our B’day today . She is not yet familiar with anniversaries . I told her it is . Because before , we were just two different persons . “WE ” was born only on the day of marriage .

@ Cherai Beach… Before and After !

Before:

Two or three years before, I realised with shock that my son is really suffering for what we want him to be. Every thing was in chaos .I wondered were I went wrong. After I realised, he is a dyslexic child from the movie ‘TZP’ , it took me weeks, even to make a meager plan of what could be done. And even more effort to explain to every body what he might be going through.

The first decision I made was that I will just step back and see what he would do with out me asking him what he should.Because right then my kids would not listen to anything I say.(seem to be eons ago 😀 ) . The words I spoke most was ‘DON’T DO ‘ and ‘YOU MUST ‘.

I learned to let them do what they wanted. Swallowed the words that came to my mouth. A few days later, we all went to  Cherai beach for a picnic. I told his father also to let him free , not to tell him any ‘ dos and don’t s ‘ but to make sure that he is safe. It took a lot of effort to keep our mouth shut. But it was worth it. In the evening when we were about to return, Ruby came to me and said with twinkling eyes

‘ Mother, it is a great day! isn’t it ? It is my most favourite day! ‘ .

Thinking of it even now bring tears to my eyes. Then I realised the pressure we put on him every day to make him behave like normal kids. ( sorry, I don’t have any snaps of that day as I wanted nothing to take away my attention and kept the camera away )

It was about 2 or 3  years back . It has been a long way since then. The only thing he needed was somebody who would believe in him with no bones in it. And we believed in him .

My daughter , Pearl who is the most unique and smartest among three of us almost hated me then . There was no effective communication between us. I always tried to draw the line which was the last thing she wanted. It took  even more effort for me to reach her.

I was busy making both of them perfect , seeing that they had all they wanted , making sure they were well nourished and well groomed , that I didn’t had enough time to have fun with them.

After  3 years:

We went to the same old beach again a few days before.  It is one of our unsaid family agenda to go to some place once in a few months , where we have nothing else but kids to distract us. Whatever they say is the rule !

I was amazed to see two of them ( who are too difficult to be controlled any where ) to be completely  in tune with the nature , as though that is the place where they belong !

And Ruby announced that it is his dream come true !

A lot has changed . I don’t take them to meetings or club parties unless that cannot be absolutely avoided because it is impossible to manage them there. Instead we go to parks where they can explore to their will, to exhibitions where they can linger as much as they want, read all the boards and see all the domes , follow whatever they find interesting , to beaches or to any place where they enjoy themselves.

Now three of us are the best friends and my kids are my treasure. ( And Hubby is most proud of it even though he does not let it spoil us ).

I always thought I am a bit crazy( or exaggerating ) . I could see in other people’s eyes ‘ Why you are taking so much effort just to bring up two kids ? They will just grow up. ‘  But all of them would never realise how different my kids are.

My favourite Tree !

All trees are beautiful but some are special.

If you ask me which is me favourite tree , it is always the same . ‘ Ilanji ‘

It has the most sweet smelling flowers and it is a great tree to sit under and chat with your lover!

The tree brings to my mind memories of our engagement time when we used to spent a lot of time under the ‘ilanji’ orchard they have at Subash park and when the guard would come and throw us out of the park when it gets dark !

I have one at my home which I have kept in a pot. Waiting for it to bloom!

The view in a thousand years!

The solar Eclipse Day Jan 15, 2010.

As usual I heard about the eclipse only the day before. And I thought, as always it was one of those you cannot see. From the news channels I learned that it is an annular eclipse and the longest one in a thousand years !

And the central path traverses through Kerala.  To view a solar eclipse was one of my greatest wishes . When the Northern part of India witnessed a complete solar eclipse last  year I was jealous!

But then, I didn’t have any clue on how to watch this. The kids had classes  till 12.30 pm. and eclipse started at 11.30 .  Meanwhile I debated whether to cook the lunch and watched TV where they were telling about the harmful effects of the rays . I  flipped through the news paper for  the details. There also they had a list of do and don’ts .

Suddenly, a thought occured to me. What if Siva and Swetha looked directly into the sun. All through the morning they were talking about the eclipse. So I decided to go to their school. I also had in mind that they will be having some measures to view the eclipse. On my way I saw welders looking at sun from their garage. Oh ! why doesn’t I know any welder!

When I reached there, teachers and senior students were busy viewing the eclipse through solar glasses. But I felt too intimidated to go and ask. You cannot predict how weird school children may act sometimes. I even saw some of the attendants viewing it with X-ray sheets and goggles. Why are they doing this ? Don’t they know it should not be used? I tried to warn them.

When the school bell rang I saw many other students with solar glasses and managed to get one. At First I couldn’t see anything.

Then after a while ! There it was !

The eclipse had  just begun and sun looked like a  bitten apple. With the glasses the sun looked as cool as a moon. I passed the glasses to Siva and he was so excited. When I looked around, I saw that a group of kids have assembled around us for the glasses. ( Obviously only the senior students had it and the smaller children desperately wanted to have  a view! ) . I handed  it back to its owner and ran from there. Swetha started to scream as she couldn’t see it. So I went to another student with glasses and showed the eclipse to Swetha and one of Siva’s friends.

Then One of my friends called up to say that they have some arrangements to see it . So we decided to go to their place. Hubby  also joined us from his office . He is not concerned about anything other than numbers. But came with us . And we watched the sun to our fill. Saw how the shadow caste by the moon gobbles up the sun and slowly moves away.

In between,  Siva’s friend’s mother called me up to say how it can be viewed using black coloured water.

On our way back home we had some delicious chicken biriyani. And it is so against the old beliefs !  When it comes to food it is impossible to get through my hubby dear !

By the time we reached home I was so excited and was almost carried away by the eclipse. There was  half an hour left for it to complete. Like some lunatic I filled a steel plate with Siva’s black paint and went out searching for the sun’s reflection. I don’t know what gotten into me . The sun lured me like it had never before. ( I have heard that before Tsunami occured, the sea retreated almost 2-3 km and every body was lured towards it by the beauty of the bare sea bed )

I was completely out of my mind that I didn’t even care about the rays of reflection that got into my eyes. At last I found the sun’s reflection .

Siva and Swetha  joined me on the terrace . And hubby also came to see  after so much prodding. What happens in the sky doesn’t matter him at all. ” It is a pity that you cannot see the beauty in all this ” I teased him.

I even wanted to take a snap of the reflection. Yes , I was completely out of my mind!

But thank God , Unlike me My husband is sane. He bid the kids and me inside saying that rays are a bit powerful and his eyes are aching. I sent the kids inside but wasn’t yet ready to go inside myself. No, not leaving the view of a thousand years !

But while I tried to focus my camera on the reflection , one of the rays gotten into my eyes and I felt the immense heat and prick.  I silently obliged and went inside.

As always I settled before Google, my friend and mentor. So Google told me never to look at the eclipse through coloured water or reflection  and don’t try to take a snap. Your retina will get cooked without you ever knowing ( retina does not have pain receptors ) and your camera will be spoiled !

I was aghast. So why did she tell me so ? To look through coloured water ?  I never tell any body anything without cross checking.  I am sure she didn’t know about it. But awareness matters. And sanity .

I am grateful my beloved was sane enough to stop me from blinding myself and more importantly our kids.  I don’t think it would matter much if the eclipse occurs again the next day or after a thousand years if I went blind !

And it is something that I like most about him. Even though he doesn’t care much about trivial matters he lets me enjoy everything like a child ( my child instincts and fancies  are very high! )  and knows exactly when and where to stop me.