Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sogetsu Group goes to Coorg

(A report by Malathi sensei. Pictures from Chitra and Venkatesh. )

The Sogetsu Study Group decided to visit Coorg as their annual travel to some nature-spot. 8 members were able to take this trip,while the other members were commited to their family engagements. With Manasi's suggestion and Ambika's help via internet and email, " Kabbe Holidays" was chosen.
Our trip begins On 24th we left on the Chennai-Mysore Shatabdi, alighted at Mysore and a taxi and Sitalaksmi's car were waiting for us, as well as Venkatesh who joined us from Tuticoron. After a small coffee break we set off by road. The highway was good till we took the turn towards Virajpet. We sighed at the thick forest on either side of the road, the mile long bamboo groves, and the signposts that read 'elephants crossway' further 'wild animals area'. Unfortunately we did not sight any wild animals on our drive.
The main bungalow at Kabbe, with one room for guests.
The cheerful mood in both vehicles slowly changed as the road was too bad for words, In Sitalaksmi's car, while she felt increasingly car sick with the pot-holed and winding road, the other passengers in her vehicle thought it best to chatter and joke, much to her astonishment! In our Innova we clung for some balance and suddenly at Gonikopal town Venkatesh spotted a girl in coorgi saree and wistfully imagined, "if only she could have been a member of our study group", not knowing what a torrent of words he will be getting from Prerana!
The Deluxe cottages

After Virajpet the road improved remarkably and our host Mr. Dilip Chengappa co-ordinated with the driver as to how to proceed and he was waiting to lead us forward to his home. As we turned it was a very welcoming sight, we entered the living room and some hot tea and coffee was ready along with biscuits and spinach murruku. The Kabbe homestay looked homely and inviting! We were taken to our rooms. Padma, I and Dally's suitcase was in the main bungalow, while the others shared 2 rooms in the adjoining annexe.
The Deluxe rooms
Surrounded by coffee!

The lovely anthuriums bordering the verandah

At nightfall we got to talking,I narrated about a National Geographic channel programme where I saw a documentary on the Sunderbans with very interesting anecdotes of encounters between Man and man-eating tigers, where both claim it is their territory, and how they develop skills to face each other and finally how the men request the officials not to harm the tigers and ' afterall for generations we have lived together, it is our territory'. After which we discussed about 'co-existing'.  

Trekking to Kabbe The Kabbe homestay in the morning looked beautiful, blanketed in mist, and we enjoyed the clear morning air with hot cups of coffee on the verandah overlooking the bed of anthuriums, growing so abundantly. The robusta coffee plantations surround the bungalow, and we caught a glimpse of the day to day activities of the plantation as well. There are leeches around too, and we needed to ensure we were not taking them into the rooms, and besides Prerana we all escaped without a bite! Dilip was kind enough to show us the tradition kodava dress too.
Next day was the trek to a hillock from where we could see the Kabbe hill and the Western Ghat ranges and we were so close to the Kerala border. Padma and Dally did not take the climb. At the topmost point the wind threatened to blow us away and we took our balance by a wide stance. Prerana had a nasty fall, which was a downer, as she was in great pain that evening. For me climbing down was very slow, but it was interesting and delightful with Trishla's and Venkatesh's company. All the meals were thoroughly enjoyed by one and all,cooked well by the chef. That evening was Prerana's Haiku reading and discussion, which could not happen, so Chitra preponed her talk on ' Tamil Culture',where she beautifully traced the culture from the Sangam Period taking on poetry, folklore. She touched on dance and had invited Venkatesh to elucidate on the mudras, which prompted me to correlate it to the technique of ikebana and to bring out the symbolism of it. Chitra then spelt out the emminent Tamil personalities in all walks of life, and the entertainment part of it was a very good quiz on Tamilnadu.
Kabbe Hill!
Chelavara falls

Talakaveri temple complex

Chelavara falls, Talakaveri and Collaborative Ikebana! Our trek on the 2nd day was to the Chelavaram Falls. Dilip had hired a vehicle and along with Sita's we left after a breakfast of' akkiroti' coorg style,with gingelly seed chutney, to be eaten with a dash of ghee and honey. The combination seemed strange, but it was very delicious! We stopped on the way to relax by the water and many photos were clicked, and we were surrounded by mountains all around, the valley and the meadows seemed so peaceful. The vehicles took us half the distance and we climbed a narrow path in single file to reach the Falls which was a very delicate one and we could reach midstream to a rock where we perched ourselves. Missed not only the absentees, but Prerana who was resting after the fall. Surprisingly, Venkatesh had quietly brought a bag of clothes to change after his swim and bath at the Falls and Dilip encouraged to this action, as the rest of us felt the water might be ' cooold 'as were all in woollens. The water was not deep, he swam and took a shower with the Falls, he was simply delighted and said it was cool and not cold, we gave him 10 minutes with this delight. In the afternoon Sita's car left for Talaikaveri, where the members saw the origin of the river Kaveri in the Western ghats. Kaveri flows through Karnataka and Tamilnadu before joining the Bay of Bengal. We visited Dilip's parents who live in another bungalow on the coffee plantation, and it was wonderful to see the senior citizens too! In the evening Padma got a brilliant idea when Chitra placed a coffee branch in a container taken from Dilip,that 'lets all put in a flower or leaf and make an arrangement.' Chitra had found a hollow brick which she used as a container. Everyone dashed off to get the next suitable stalk into the vase. It was a mental 'Homa' for the participants,the spontainiety will be remembered.
Collaborative Ikebana in a hollow brick!

Morning vistas!

Another picture of the arrangement

Time to leave We left for Mysore after breakfast the next morning to take the Shatabdi back to Chennai. Members are still carrying fresh memories of this enjoyable trip to Coorg. I may have left out many important points, please point them out in your comments. It was a very enjoyable time for all of us indeed

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Emperor's birthday

At the Taj.  Ballroom. By Malathi sensei

Taken with a mobile phone, so please forgive the quality.