Posts Tagged ‘Orissa’

Wayanad – An Emerald Breath

March 3, 2010 1 comment

Recently we went on a whirlwind visit of Wayanad, the hilly region to the north-east of Kerala, bordering Karnataka. Wayanad is blessed with great natural beauty and a refreshing climate. Early morning, dense swirling blankets of mist smother the hills, which is gently pulled away by a mellow sun by mid morning; dew drops hang glistening on spider webs; bright fuzzy yellow blotches of sunlight filtering through branches of mahogany, jackfruit and areca trees coagulate on several spots on the grass. It is pleasant throughout the year, even during summer.
Over the past few years Wayanad has transmogrified into a tourist hotspot from a rural backwater. Agriculture, the mainstay of the region has taken a backseat. The sparkle of practically tax free lucre from tourism has seen almost everyone hitching to the bandwagon. Real estate near tourist spots have undergone an unprecedented escalation. One cannot walk around without rubbing shoulders with a real estate agent or a home-stay owner. Not that it is a bad thing. Home-stays, the tourist arrangement where you typically stay with a family and share the meals, have flourished in this region, and has brought in a modicum of prosperity; augmenting the hard earned agricultural income. Several Ayurvedic massage centers and spas have cropped up aimed at tapping the exploding tourist traffic, taking advantage of the rejuvenating climate.

An Old Jain Temple


Our flight from Delhi to Kozhikode was 3 hours late. A sweltering 45 minute taxi ride from airport brought us to the Kozhikode bus stand. The blazing afternoon sun had us scramble for shelter, but an exhilarating cool breeze which blew as the bus zig-zagged across the mountain pass restored our spirits by the time we got down at Kalpetta late evening. Our accommodation was arranged at Hillview Homestay, a short walk from Kalpetta town. The bustle of the town faded away as soon as we turned into a pocket road; it was pitch dark, myriad stars twinkled in the dark velvet night sky stretched between slender trunks of areca trees.

Hill View Homestay

The home-stay was a sprawling double storied concrete mansion set in a small garden. The family was waiting at the porch to receive us. After refreshments, we were ushered to a double room on the upper floor, overlooking a valley. A lavish Kerala style dinner was laid out for us when we returned downstairs. The owner, a retired HR manager in a pharmaceutical multinational in Mumbai spent only a few days in a year at Wayanad. His brother and a caretaker attended to the home-stay arrangements. There were 3 double bedrooms available. Since we were the only guests we had the entire house for ourselves. We spent sometime in the lawn playing with the frisky Alsatian dog ‘Paula’ before retiring for the night.


Early next morning we woke up to the clamour of birds. The world outside was awash in shades of green – rolling emerald green of a tea garden, dark forest green of coffee plantations, pale green paddy fields wedged between hills. Yellow sunshine winked across swaying green palm fronds, the air crisp, bright and hopeful. We had a busy day ahead visiting relatives and taking care of business. Evening, we downed couple of beers and munched on fried fish and Kerala mixture on the lawn. The dinner was exhaustive and featured mutton and fish much to my delight. The caretaker, originally from Orissa had prepared Roti’s especially for us which added to the pleasure. We left at day break the next day, headed back to Kozhikode for a long flight home. The visit though hectic, instilled a permanent love of Wayanad and its people in us. We hope to return some time this year for a longer stay.

Hill View Homestay
Off PWD Office Road
Kalpetta, Wayanad,
Kerala – 673121
Contact: Mr. K V Joseph
Tel : 09249112468, 09833416688, 09422475757

Rs.2000 per person per night
(Inclusive of breakfast and dinner, Kozhikode airport/ railway station pickup and drop and local sightseeing vehicle)

How to reach:

Nearest Airport: Kozhikode
Daily flights available to major cities

Nearest Railhead: Kozhikode

By road: Kalpetta is located on NH-212 highway, approx. 70 KM from Kozhikode. KSRTC (Kerala State road Transport Corporation)  bues from Kozhikode to Sultan Batheri and Mananthavadi goes via Kalpetta. Travel time: 2.5 Hrs. approx.

Places to see: We did not visit any tourist places. But there are peaks, waterfalls, a dam, wildlife sanctuary, ancient temples and caves in the vicinity. Plenty to keep one occupied.

There is an Ayurvedic Spa next door to the home-stay. The Kerala Ayurvedic massage is quite relaxing.

Kozhikode is famous for sweetmeat. Be sure to visit SM Street (next to the railway station) for some exciting varieties of Halwa.

SM Street - Kozhikode

Photo courtesy: Subha Varma

Categories: Totternama

Fair Trade – At the Advancement Arena!

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment

This weekend, instead of combing our usual haunts, we visited the India International Trade Fair currently underway in New Delhi. In our infinite wisdom, we decided to take the Metro rail instead of driving down to Pragati Maidan (Advancement Arena!!). But Saturday was a bad day for Delhi Metro. Trains were running late. The one we took from Dwarka Sector 9 was jam packed by the time we reached Dwarka Mor. “Minding the Gap” was impossible as we stood on each other’s toes, breathed into one another’s ears and cursed. Train attendants rushed from door to door pushing people in and closing the automatic doors. Pictures of my previous near death experiences in local trains of Mumbai flashed across my mind. By comparison, this was mere massage of tired limbs. This attempt of Delhi Metro to bring Indians together irrespective of cast, creed, gender and nationality was laudable. I had no business deploring it. Excruciating circumstances precipitate philosophic resignation. This was enlightenment! Braced against the crushing weight and odour of humanity, I wondered if it was all an illusion, a spell of “samsara”. But the hair getting into my eyes and the elbows ramming my ribs were too concrete to be a mirage. Relief came when many passengers got off at Karol Bagh. We were already late by an hour and half. As a parting shot, the disembodied voice of Metro hoped “we had an enjoyable journey” and looked forward to “seeing us soon”. This bit of sardonic wit was not lost on the passengers.


We had already purchased trade fair tickets at the Metro Station, and passed though security check quickly. Ravenous, we headed straight for the food court. “Bharath Ka Khana” welcomed us with open arms. The food court was littered with people occupying every available inch and digging blissfully into idlis, vadas, puttu, mutton chaps and many interesting yet unidentifiable forms of grub.


Watching mad maws on overdrive only amplified our appetite. The cataclysmic force of craving scattered us in different directions. I landed up at the Nagaland counter and ordered rice with pork and bamboo shoots (Rs.100.00 only). Meanwhile others explored Odisha (Orissa), Bihar, Bengal and Tamil Nadu counters. When we gathered for barter I had a plate of rice with 3 handsome chunks of pork in a near bland gravy and a paste of fish and chilies. Others had come up with Vada/ Ghughuni (Urad Dal vada and Chole)from Orissa, Litti – Chokha (Atta balls stuffed with Sattu [barley] and garlicky potato) from Bihar, Idli – Chutney from Tamil Nadu and fried fish (fillet of unknown fish coated with flour and deep fried) from Bengal. These were rapidly decimated and replaced with Vada-Pav (Maharashtra street food specialty). To drown it all we had tea (Rs. 5.00) from the Tea Board counter. Being used to milky tea, I didn’t like it much, though it was probably more authentic.


More philosophy! To live we all need food. For some, food symbolizes luxury and has ceased to be a necessity. Coffee table magazines and news paper supplements catering to the hyper-gastronomic anxieties of such elite flourish in metro cities like Delhi. Even though I do not belong to that elect category, the gourmet fare that they nibble at has frequently attracted the desperate foodie in me. For others, food is incidental. I do not belong to this category either. Food, to me, goes beyond the survival value and enters the realm of sensory delight, good conversation and companionship. Good food begs good company. A solitary eater, according to me, is a miserable creature. I couldn’t resist that digression. Sorry!

Satiated, we took bearings and headed for the international pavilion. Crowded! There were exhibits from Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and surprisingly Papua New Guinea. Credit cards were not accepted. We ended up buying an onyx candle stand from Karachi, Pakistan and a papyrus scroll of Isis from Egypt. The guy manning the Egyptian counter was peremptory, intent only on money and hissed Anubis, Isis, Osiris, “Balance” replying to customer queries. Entertaining…

The most interesting counter of the Trade Fair belonged to NMBA, National Mission on Bamboo Applications. Apart from promoting bamboo as food, they have innovated various light weight and durable bamboo based wood substitutes and composites, construction and structural applications. A two storey house with steel frame and walls, roof, ceiling, columns, railing, doors and windows made entirely of treated bamboo was displayed at the exhibit. The treated bamboo was termite resistant and fire proof. Installation time was a mere 48 hours and it cost only Rs.13 lakhs. There were bamboo frame exercise bicycles coupled with a dynamo which generated and stored electricity sufficient to light an entire room. Specialty mud kilns for producing high grade carbon from bamboo for use in Tandoors and activated carbon for water treatment facilities were also on display. NBMA also promotes gasification of bamboo which can be an environment friendly source of renewable heat energy and electricity.

There were pavilions from all states of India. We could only visit those of Jharkhand and Kerala besides Techmart India where industrial machinery were on display. The Trade Fair was a wonderful fusion of business and pleasure. It provided a forum for small scale industries from all states to interact with other industries and the larger public.

 My only regret was not being able to visit pavilions of North Eastern States. I was also not able to sample Haleem chicken and other specialty cuisine from Pakistan. All in all, it was an informative, fun and relaxing jaunt.

Bang for your buck

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment
Hi all, I am back again. Have been busy with work for some time. I really admire those who can balance their jobs, home and still find time to blog.
 So much have happened in the meantime. Diwali has come and gone. We too hung neon lights and lighted diyas. There were fireworks, crackers and rockets. Surprisingly, this year Delhi recorded lesser atmospheric pollution but greater noise pollution. Crackers have become costly. Probably to compensate for it sound effects have been vastly enhanced. Sort of more “bang” for your buck, literally.
 Obama received the controversial Nobel Prize. Did he deserve it? Obama himself expressed reservations, but decided to keep the prize, all the same. How modest. Well, he’s carrying a huge burden of expectations on his shoulders. And he has promised more bang for the buck. Bang, bang, bang, bang… And the buck, ask the prize committee which sold out to the bang.
 Then there were the usual slew of disasters. Flooding in Andhra, Karnataka and Orissa, Philippines, Polynesia. Yesterday there was a train mishap at Mathura. People died. I sometimes wonder how I can be so indifferent to such disturbing news. Somehow I seem to think that such things cannot happen to me. As if I have been granted divine immunity. And I desperately want to believe it. Anyways, I banged my head against the staircase yesterday evening. I was engrossed in my supermarket bill. The staircase must have noticed it. Before I had a chance to say, Hello, move over a bit, there it was, bang, and gifted me a gooseberry on the forehead. That shook me out of the philosophical reverie and reinforced the principle that  life comes with no guarantees. No replacement and at best only marginal repair. Better increase the insurance cover. One never know when a real bang  will come and get all your bucks.
What else? I have also started believing in chance encounters. One tiny, inconsequential act, one chance question and a whole series of events were set in motion which eventually helped me to get in touch with my college friends and former colleagues. A cosmic, magnetic alignment of iron filings. A mysterious falling into place which I could not logically retrace to the epicenter. There was one obvious, omnipresent catalyst to the process. Internet and social networking sites. Now, that is definitely more bang for no bucks.
Well, I have been banging around a lot now.  There will be more of it in the days to come. After all, we have an eternity to lay waste…
Categories: Musings