Archive for October, 2007

BBC Interview

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Our batch member and sharp minded Marco got interviewed by the BBC. The clip contains many of the UK batch working hard in class and playing table tennis afterwards. I’m in the clip at 1 min 32 sec climbing the steps to the GEC with Marco.

Ayudha puja

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

As part of the Dasara festivals, a day is taken to see the spiritual side in daily tools by worshiping them. This includes tools used in trade such as computers and vehicles. Cars on the road were seen with flowers decorated over them. At work, there was an image created with coloured sand/powder of a certain goddess related to this ritual. On the day of this celebration a box of Indian sweets was given to all trainees at work too.

 Ayudha puja
Decoratitions marking
Ayudha puja at work

Sonu Niigam

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

A week ago there was a 10 day Dasara festival here in Mysore. There was a buzz in the city centre. There were projected screens at busy roads and a lot of events going on in the evenings.

Last Wednesday we ventured into town to observe about 45,000 people at a free concert. Sonu Niigam is one of India’s most famous singers, and he was definitely entertaining the crowd. I thought he was the James Blunt of India: popular, pop, tall, handsome and with bags of charisma. Before his act there were these more traditional Indian dancing which included some of the dancers *warning* this will make you cringe *warning* bent their backs, grabbed their feet and then rolled over! They also constructed some impressive human pyramids.

Sonu Nigam performing on stage
Sonu Niigam performing on stage

Zooming in on Sonu Niigam
Zooming in on Sonu Niigam

Daud Run

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

There was a fun run last Tuesday inside the campus to raise money for the poor in India. About 1,000 employees at the campus took part. There were two competitive men and women races and a general fun run for everyone else. A friend who won the women’s race got some suprising attention at the grocery store the very next day. She won a nice iPod nano too. The Karnataka state cricket team also showed up, including a former bowler of the Indian national cricket team, Anil Kumble. I ran beside him for a few seconds just for kicks!

 Preparing for the fun run
Preparing for
the fun run

Famous cricketer
This cricketer drew
a lot of attention

Temples and Villages

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Two weekends ago we went to several very old sites. At Belur and Halebid there were intricate decorative sculptures from some of the ‘most artistically exuberant periods of the Hindu cultural development’. At Sravanabelagola there where 614 steps which led up to a 17.5 metre statue of a Jain deity.

Sculptures at Belur
Sculptures at Belur

Inside a temple at Belur 
Inside a temple at Belur

Sculptures at Halebid
Sculptures at Halebid

Outside a Halebid temple
Outside a Halebid temple

Climbing up the hill at Sravanabelagola
Climbing up the hill at Sravanabelagola

Also, Jason and Andrew made friends with a welcoming and hospitable local farmer called Shwamee. It was an interesting experience to gain an insight into the life of a farmer. We met Shwamee’s family, had dinner with them and Jason bought some macaroni and cheese as well as lots of American candy and chocolate which the children really enjoyed. For living in a small hut it was spotlessly clean. They liked our music gadgets. The family only spoke Kannada and did not speak a word of English or Hindi (apart from a very few words like ‘rice’) so we had to play charades most of the time to communicate. Shwamee also showed us around his farm:

Shwamee’s rice field
Shwamee’s rice fields

Shwamee’s sugar canes
Shwamee’s sugar canes

More rice fields
Another rice field with Prakesh,
Andrew & Jason

We came back midday and I went to class again to finish off some work. After that I got to ride Andrew’s new sporty TVS Apache motorbike! It has a digital speedometer and the 160cc engine has a nice crunchy sound to it. I’m now riding Andrew’s scooter that he was renting.

Day trip to Coorg

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Last weekend we went to Coorg, about 2 hours drive from campus. We drove through bumpy roads most of the way there. Our first stop was at a Tibetan monastery to see the golden temples.

Golden Temple
Three of the largest statues
at the monastery

There were many
monks around

About fifty young boys were praying sincerely
to the beat of drums inside the right temple

We then went to see Abbey falls. It was moderately pretty.

Abbey Falls
Abbey Falls

There were some nice views from the high altitude of the location.

On the road from Abbeyfalls to Madikeri
A misty view on the route from
Abbey falls to Madikeri

Raja’s Seat
A view from the Raja’s Seat

Our last stop was at a bamboo forest. It was quite empty but there was a suspended bridge that swayed (if everyone together bounced on it hard enough), some tree houses, rabbits, dears and elephants. Antony managed to spot a small scorpion too!

The suspended bridge
into the forrest

A scorpion

Park Lane Hotel, 2

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Brindavan gardens

Monday, October 8th, 2007

Last Tuesday is it was a national holiday as it was Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. We decided to explore more around Mysore.

As we drove to the Brindavan gardens (19km NW from Mysore), we saw the Krishna Raja Sagar dam:

Andrew with the Dam in the background
Andrew with the Dam in the background

Other side of the dam
Other side of the dam, the water
pouring down the Kaveri River

We then arrived at the Brindavan gardens. It was a nice garden with a mansion that was left by the British which is now a hotel.

 Brindavan Gardens
Brindavan Gardens

The mansion
Outside view of the mansion

The dining hall
The dining hall

The chandelier in the dining hall. It’s got that
beautiful 20th Century touch to it.

There was a lightshow in the evening, but we didn’t stay that long. On the way back it rained and there were hundreds of moths in the air which we drove into, mainly near the dam. There were about five on me once back at the campus. It was okay though, they were harmless.

Yum for less

Monday, October 8th, 2007

It is so great to hop on a scooter, go to the nearest recommended restaurant and eat without worrying about the bill. Dining really is one of the best experiences so far. The other night we had a ‘sizzling chicken’ for 71p!

Andrew and Jason enjoying some desert
at this random restaurant we found on
the way to the Brindavan gardens

Floating petals
Some pretty floating petals

Weekend in Ooty & Coonoor

Monday, October 8th, 2007

Two weekends ago we set off Saturday 5am and headed for Ooty. It was a bumpy ride there since there roads were scattered with pot holes, so we were grateful for the suspension the 4 x 4 taxi had. Our first stop was at the Bandipur National Park. The 300 Rs bus ride was disappointing. We only saw some peacocks, dears and a few elephants running away. Next stop was Ooty, but we detoured and went via Payakara where there was a lake and waterfalls which were both quite pretty.

Payakara Lake
Boating the Payakara Lake

Payakara Waterfalls 
The Payakara Waterfalls

The uphill roads to Ooty offered very scenic views. At certain times we were above the clouds. Our car was so close to the edge it was a bit scary for those sitting on the side.

Roadside break
Taking a break during the
long drive up to Ooty

We went to the ‘Botanical Gardens’ too, it was good but nothing really impressive.

The Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens

Ooty is 7,440 feet above sea level, so it was pretty cold in the evening and morning. I completely forgot to bring more than one layer. But it was fine. It got down to about 10 Degree C at the lowest. Our stay overnight was lush: three rooms with a dining room and living room. Each room had a TV and separate bathroom. All for £4.85 each.

Sunday morning we took a scenic train ride to Coonoor.

Train Platform
People waiting on the platform

Enjoying the ride!
Enjoying the ride!

Scenic view while on the train
A scenic view while on the train

After that, we went to a tea factory to see how tea is processed right from picking the leaves to packing the granules. There was a variety of tea on sale too including ‘Masala Tea’, believe it or not! That had a strong scent of ginger to it.

Singara Tea Garden
Singara Tea Garden

We later went to several viewpoints including one called ‘Dolphin’s Nose’. I can’t figure out why it is called that. It had a waterfall running through the middle of it though.

Dolphin’s Nose Viewpoint
Dolphin’s Nose Viewpoint

Finally we headed back to Mysore. We stopped at the Bandipur National Park again to see if we could ride some elephants. We were in luck, they were available. It was interesting to note the driver push his legs onto the elephant’s ears to direct it. He also used a cane a few times, though I hope it didn’t hurt the animal. Elephants have very tough skin so hopefully not.

Riding Elephants
Riding Elephants