Sunday, August 24, 2014

BUMBILLI, LOKI AND ANILA THE SQUIRREL



BUMBILLI, LOKI AND ANILA THE SQUIRREL

THE SQUIRREL

Having a big garden with trees means having to put up with lots of Squirrels running around with their high pitched staccato chirping : up the trees, effortlessly jumping from one branch to another, nibbling at and shaking down ripe fruit of the cashew tree in our front lawn. Our Guava tree till date has never yielded virgin fruit untasted by these little beasts. They create greater havoc when by chance they come inside our home, and cannot find their way out. When trapped thus in an alien environment, in mortal fear and adrenaline pumping they end up chewing the cloth and bamboo curtains, the teakwood frame of the window shutters, desperately trying to burrow out of their prison cell.
BUMBILLI 
Naughty Bumbilli playing with her favorite stuffed toy, without tearing them

Bumbilli is our female Labarador who came to us two years ago as a pup barely two weeks old, the last of a litter of eight. Over time, she became the darling of the family, feisty and mischievous, always up to some prank : picking up socks, slippers, shoes left unguarded and dashing around the dining table, sliding, skidding and weaving out of reach of human arms trying to capture the little canine cannonball. The chase given up and over, Bumbilli would take shelter, hiding behind the curtains, puffing and panting, savouring her victory, the trophy lying in front of her outstretched paws.

                                                       She has really big strong paws
And in the garden, on hearing the shout of “cat” or “squirrel”, Bumbilli would go dashing about, sniffing around, darting into the shrubbery, chasing the invisible intruder until asked to stop and come back for her reward of a biscuit. For all that, Bumbili was extremely strong willed and had a mind of her own. The Police dog trainer whom we engaged to train and discipline Bumbili gave up the ghost after two months of futile exertion at his task.

LOKI

                                            Don't get fooled by his innocent looks
                        He is doing everything that Bumbilli used to do before he came to us
Loki, the third player in this cameo is our daughter’s Labarador from Bombay. Puja, when she shifted to London thought it best to leave Loki in our care in Bangalore overriding all my misgivings, vocal protests and strongest of objections. With my husband’s secret goading, Puja persisted until I had to acquiesce to her plans. True to his name, Loki was mischief incarnate and master of the art, and Bumbilli proved to be a willing pupil. The usually feisty Bumbilli became more circumspect, mature and accommodating and would readily give in to Loki’s tantrums and treat him like the spoilt child. When thrown a ball, she would graciously let Loki go after it and not compete. During meal and snack times, she would watch Loki’s bowl get filled first and patiently wait for her turn. Loki certainly was an influence in making Bumbilli a more mature and dignified being.


ANILA THE SQUIRREL, BUMBILLI, LOKI AND SUNDRY PLAYERS

Yesterday a squirrel sneaked into our living room through the sliding door left open for cleaning by Bahadur our absent minded watch cum handyman. In the living room not able to find its way out, the forlorn creature was moving helter skelter, crying and screeching. Unlike normal squirrels, this specimen was not as agile and fleet of foot, nor had it the acumen or energy to climb up the curtains.



Bumbilli and Loki hanging around near our kitchen

Bumbili and Loki who were lounging around in the kitchen watching our maid Mary doing the dishes, sensed the intruder in the home and promptly sprang into action. The fun of the chase got to their head and there was excitement all around. A huge commotion followed with Mary and Bahadur shouting and chasing after the dogs, trying to save the poor cornered squirrel from what they thought would be merciless slaughter.
After giving the dogs a good run around in the living room running behind the curtains the squirrel now christened Anila, (by my hubby) broke cover and slipped into the bathroom. Cornered, Anila tried in vain to scale up the slippery tiled wall and reach for the window through which she could escape the clutches of the motley mob of dogs and humans baying for its blood.

While the Squirrel was being chased by Maid and Bahadur, these two took a short break to discuss, as to,who is to take the lead: looks like Bumbilli is the leader here.

Anila was quite huge and plump unlike squirrels we have seen which are usually pretty slim and agile. And like the apocryphal spider of King Bruce, she kept trying and falling over herself after every attempt.
Bumbilli was the first to reach the bathroom.

She stood transfixed, watching in fascination as poor Anila scrambled to save her life. Then slowly, silently Bumbili moved towards Anila who had fallen and was lying down exhausted. Bumbili picked Anila up gently in between her jaws, and with the tenderness of a mother taking care of her baby, took her out of the house, into the open lawn and beyond into the shrubbery. There she carefully deposited Anila and let her go free, away from the attentions of Loki and others. Without a second thought, Anila fled the scene.
                               Our Beautiful, Hero Bumbilli, watching Anila run away
Here we all feared, thinking that Bumbillli might kill Anila and eat it, but she didn't do that. I think she sensed that Anila was pregnant, and that is why she was so gentle with it, clutching her very cleverly in her mouth without hurting her, and taking her gently to our garden and setting her free. We were so proud of our Bumbili for her exceptionally humane and compassionate act.

Animals are so sensitive, so much wiser than us. Bumblli became a hero in our eyes. She was cuddled and pampered, she was repeatedly told that she was a very good girl, she was a hero, a beautiful, lovely hero of our family etc. etc. She really lapped up all the praise and attention showered on her. Meanwhile Mr. Loki was a silent bystander looking thoroughly puzzled as to why Bumblli was getting all the attention and love. What did I do wrong, he seemed to say.
                                                 No need to feel so sad Mr. Loki

                                                 We love you too, Laddo Boy
 He is at peace for he knows he is loved very much by all of us, and in his mind he firmly believes, that he deserves to be loved more than Bumbilli.

Well, Loki too had to have his share of pampering and loving, so we pampered him, told him he was a very good boy, very handsome boy etc. etc. Then both our babies were happy or should I say all of us including Anila the expectant mother squirrel.



      Both are back to their antics: chasing each other, fighting for the ball.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Bus Ride: A Good Family Entertainer


Emerging tired from the examination hall, I trudged towards the Jaya Nagar bus stand to catch a bus for Indira Nagar. I thought if I take the packed Bangalore city bus now approaching, I can avoid waiting in the equally crowded  bus stand. I then bulldozed my way into the bus, soon to realize that it was filled with long-distance commuters, I cursed my luck. Inside the bus, my attention was drawn to a Tamil family that consisted of a woman in her mid thirties, her elderly mother, a 10- year old daughter and, a seven - year old son. Except for the little boy in somebody else's lap, they were all just hanging on to straps, bars, other people's shirt-tails and shoulders.

The lady looked quite attractive and charming in a white salwar-kurta set, with a purple flowered dupatta  She was wearing shiny gold bangles; a pair of diamond studs adorned her earlobes. Around her neck was the typical (kodi) that married Tamilians wear.The glittering accouterments led me to believe that they maybe NRIs. I was soon undeceived,  for I heard them conversing in a fluent mixture of Tamil, Hindi and English. They must be from the North,  I thought.  For I had myself lived for a considerable length of time in UP,  and this was the precise mixture of languages we then used.  It brought back pleasant memories of my girlhood days,  before we moved to the South, and I got married,  erasing  this delightful form of communication from my repertoire.
 The lady looked smart and efficient----probably a housewife,  a working journalist,  a computer programmer or perhaps, all rolled into one. She certainly had the look of a well- organised person ---- a good home-maker,  a loving mother and a perfect wife (none of which I am).
 By now,  the bus had reached M.G.Road and the rush of humanity seeking the exit pushed me closer to the Tamil family. Near Ulsoor, the lady and her little daughter got to sit.  It was going to be a long halt to allow the innumerable people to get  in and get out of the bus.
     Sitting down, the lady, spotted an elderly woman known to her,  apparently waiting for another bus, just a little distance away from the active melee near our bus. The lady exclaimed excitedly, "Look, there is Juju patti!
Children say hello to Juju patti."  Equally excited , the children, on seeing the patti shouted  " Hello Juju patti, how are you"?
   The patti ( grandmother) was thrilled by this unexpected meeting . She dared not to come close to the bus and the seething crowd, but started gesticulating in a highly animated  fashion, insisting that they must visit  her house, she would not forgive them if they didn't. This was followed  by nodding of heads and waving of hands.
 Meanwhile, the children's grandmother joined in the pantomime, complementing patti on the beautiful sari she wore . In turn,  the patti with her excellent miming,  conveyed where the sari was bought, for what occasion, and who presented  it to her. Not a word had passed the lips of the actors in this delightful little drama.  I thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining tableau before me.
 My journey was nearing its end. Within less than an hour of our shared bus travel, I had come to know and like the family. I stepped off the foot board, disappointed to see that they were not getting down too. To this day, I least regret having caught that crowded bus.

(This was published as a "Middle" in Indian Express many years ago).

Whenever, I am travelling somewhere, or I am waiting in some clinic, watching people around me never fails to fascinate me. I never get bored or irritated of "people watching", for  it is so much fun and the entertainment and ideas for my blogs, that I get are absolutely free.
 I have got plenty of ideas just by travelling and watching people. I can never bring myself to read books while travelling, for I never like to miss the scenery or the people I come across during such journeys.
 I leave you  with some random travel pictures:





                                                Waiting inside the bus, and " people watching"


Monday, May 5, 2014

Awesome Water Flavored With Vegetables And Fruits

                                                


Bored of drinking the same plain water, are you one of those people who hate drinking water?

With temperatures soaring so high, you should make it a point to drink at least 3 liters of water each day. even if it is not hot , it very important to keep drinking water every hour of the day, and if it is cold water, it is all the more better for cold water helps you in losing weight.

To make drinking water easy here are few things you can do:

You can make your water taste better by adding some of these very common vegetables we often find lying in our fridge, like Cucumber, Lemon, Ginger, Mint, Celery etc.

Many weight watchers have been using these vegetables, soaking them in ice cold water and drinking it up. It is a wonderful detox drink too. However, normal people also can benefit from drinking flavored water, as it helps them increase their water intake.


So here is how you make this wonderfully refreshing water at home ( usually you find such water being offered to you only in Spas):

Thinly slice 1 Cucumber

Thinly slice 1 lemon ( throw the seeds away

1 inch piece of Ginger to be sliced thinly

12 - 15 Mint leaves slightly crushed with hands

You can also add half a lemon's juice.

You may lightly crush all these vegetables gently for a more intense flavor.

2-3 liters of Water

Plenty of Ice.

Now take a big Glass Jar, if you don't have a glass jar any big vessel would do

Put all the ingredients into the jar, cover it and leave it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning you can start drinking this water, drinking 1-2 glasses of water every hour or as often as you feel like throughout the entire day. The idea is to finish the whole 3 liters of water.

You can strain and keep drinking it, for after so many hours, the vegetables if eaten would be pretty flavorless and bland, because all the flavor has gone into the water.

You won't believe how addictive this type of water is, you would find yourself easily gulping the whole 3 liters of water without any problem.

Imagine how much you would be benefiting by consuming so much water, how your skin, your hair, and your digestive system, your entire body would be glowing.

See it for yourself and believe it.


Now the same thing can be done adding some crushed fruits to your daily water intake.

Here is how :

Slice 1 Lemon

Slice 1 apple

Slice one inch piece of Ginger

Slice 1 Orange ( I used only Grape fruit as I had no oranges)

Slice a few green/ black grapes( no grapes too)

Plenty of ice cubes

1 big stick of Cinnamon


Give all the fruits, and Cinnamon a light crush

Transfer everything to the Glass Jar/Vessel

Leave it to soak overnight in the fridge
Note: Sabja Seeds also can be added to the flavored water as it has lot health benefits. Read about the goodness of sabja seeds in the net.


In the morning start your day with this lovely, deliciously healthy drink.

You can change the fruits according to the availability, like if it is Pears season then go for it, or if you like Pineapple, Water melon or any other fruit for that matter would just be fine.

It is your own Sangria of Spain, only thing is it is non- alcoholic, sugar free and salt free.

Everything in these type of flavored water is natural.

I drink it everyday in summer as well as winter. To make your drink look more attractive, you can buy glass jars like these online:
They come with a hole for your straw.
So what is stopping you from making these healthy natural drinks?

Go ahead and make them and enjoy!




Friday, April 25, 2014

On Our Trip To Ooty.


During our  recent trip to Ooty,  with friends, we had the good fortune of visiting two Farms: an Animal farm in Mysore, and a Floriculture farm in Coonoor.

Animal Farm In Mysore:

We visited this farm on our way to Ooty. This farm belongs to one of my husband's classmate from IIT Madras.
Since we were all going as a group to Ooty for a short break, he invited us to his farm for lunch,  which was just on the way. 
It was a lovely farm with  goats, cows, rabbits, and horses etc. We were amazed to see how attached he was to  all the animals. They had such pretty names. He also had a dog named Jimmy, who was so thrilled to have so many visitors barging in the farm  which would otherwise be so quiet and peaceful. 
Jimmy was an absolute darling, he didn't drool over all the snacks made for us (dogs generally do, and it is difficult to control them).  One could see absolute bliss in his eyes as he sat quietly among  us posing for photographs and having his snacks which was catching all the flies, that dared to come within his reach, with his mouth. He was really cute. ( to think he was a pie dog, no fancy breed)
                                            This Jimmy the dog


Then there was this whole gang of about 15 goats, the little ones were so cute,  and all of them jostling for our attention, giving us their cutest looks.


                                                         They were all so sweet

                                      They are cute babies expecting to be petted and loved
                                                       Aren't they really adorable?

Then there was a family of Horses too, looking quite handsome and beautiful : father, mother and their child.

                                                                     The mother

                                                            I loved her French cut 


                                                          Mother horse and the child


                              The baby was feeling very sleepy : when I next saw him he was fast                                                                                       asleep lying on the ground.
                                                                   The father horse
 We had a  really enjoyable time in the farm. His farm house too was quite compact and comfortable.
Sometimes people take up engineering and later on opt out of it  to pursue their other hidden passions.
Another classmate of my husband, who too  is from IIT Madras, is doing floriculture business in Coonoor.
                                               This is his house on top of a hill
                                                One of the houses on top of the hill
                           There are just about 3-4  houses on top of a hill away from the Coonoor city.
                                 We also saw Gopal Gandhi's house. There is so much peace and                                                                                                 beauty all around

                       They get to wake up everyday to feast their eyes on such gorgeous views

                                                        Bunches of Carnation given to all of us
                                                 Even after a week they are still so fresh
                                                                Such lovely colors







We really enjoyed visiting his farm as well as house. It is always good to see people, branching out to various fields. And every field needs dedication and hard work to be successful.
In these modern  times, it is not unusual to see our mindsets changing for we no longer feel the need to be stuck in  one field alone for the rest of our lives. These people are truly inspiring. 
Hats off to such successful people!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Incredible, Magnificent, India: Sikkim

 Sikkim: a must visit place, where people are very simple and very helpful too.
We went there for our 25th wedding anniversary, that was almost 9 years ago. We were there from October end to the 1st week of November. It was very cold, but very good, it was not yet snow season,  but was just a month away.  We were at the right time, although we could see and experience snow, walk on snow covered mountain paths, but only when we reached a little higher, not from where we had started our journey of Sikkim. For Pelling to be covered with snow one would have to wait for one more month.

 Sikkim is huge  we cannot cover everything within ten days. There are many beautiful places to visit in Sikkim, you have to choose what you actually want to see and then plan accordingly.
 We started our journey from Pelling.
We booked ourselves in the famous Tashi Gang Resort.
It is a lovely hotel, in the sense one can have the best view of the beautiful  Kanchenjunga, said to be the third highest mountain in the world. Imagine it is right across your room, almost as if you can touch it. Everyday you can just keep looking at the most mesmerising mountain  right from your balcony.  
The room was comfortable but other than that we did not feel like trying their food, as I think during off season, people there tend to look as if it is asking for too much. The reception and the staff looked like they could surely do with make over. It is a shame, to have a hotel in such beautiful calm location, with beautiful views, and not have an enthusiastic staff. I suppose all hill stations are like that only in India, now of course things have improved with the setting up of such classy resorts like the Mahinderas, etc.
Anyway we, found a nice homely place to eat nearby, which was quite good. Also we could walk a few miles maybe for 20 to 30 minutes, and reach the local market place where you can find some good Marwari restaurants serving you good meals, good samosas, and momos, excellent tea. It was good walking down the hill watching nature, exploring, taking in the fresh mountain air, and then climbing back,  which used to be a little tough, but we soon got used to that.
This was the hotel we stayed in Pelling: it belongs to the famous  Indian actor Danny Denjongapa's (Danny who acted in the movie Seven Years In Tibet) brother
The view from the entrance of the hotel 

        
                                                     
Khechopalri
Literally, the Noble Heaven- Reaching Mountain. A lake so calm it is said to be protected from all disturbances. Locals insist that not even a leaf falls on it to disturb its placidity; and if one does, a bird immediately swoops down to carry it off.
It was indeed a beautiful sight. There is monastery too there. It is very peaceful and serene.
There are a few other places too like Rimbi Falls and Kanchenjunga Falls and Pemayangtse Monastery,
Singshore Bridge which is second highest suspension bridge in Asia. A chill down your spine is ensured when you look down from center of the bridge. All this can easily be seen by hiring a Sumo jeep whose drivers themselves are guides too, in a single day
You would be surprised to see young boys in the age group of 15 to 18  handle these jeeps and rough terrain beautifully Unfortunately I have lost the pictures of the falls and the bridge, but you can look them up in the net.



We were lucky we could always see the majestic mountain from everywhere in Pelling.

We then left Pelling and travelled all the way up to Lachung,( which is much higher) where we stayed in a beautiful looking hotel. The room was just okay, but the food they cooked specially for us was really great, and since it was off season, they would make whatever we asked them to make.

It is called the Snowlion Hotel. It has dragons in the entrance , and is also the tallest building, and very grand too from outside.

                                                           This is a borrowed picture from the net

 For this hotel , we had to book only through their official agents known as the Marcopolo travels
Once again I have lost the picture of this hotel, which has a typical Chinese architecture, and very colorful too.

Here it was much, much colder than Pelling.

More about Lachung:
Lachung is a town located in the state of Sikkim. It falls under the north Sikkim district and is not very far from the China border. At an altitude of about 3,000 m above sea level, Lachung is located at the confluence of River Lachen and River Lachung, which are tributaries of the Teesta River. A forward base has been set up in this town by the Indian Army to guard and protect the borders.
From here it is a must to see Yumthang, which is about 2 hours from Lachung. 




The tropical lushness of the ever flowing Teesta River



The river Teesta behind me: since it is winter, you see very little water flowing through it. In some places the flow is heavy, and as we travel through Sikkim it is always by your side , one can never get tired of watching this lovely river flowing by. In the summer months people do river rafting. The icy cold waters of the rugged Teesta have a series of rapids with varying intensity and character. It offers one of the finest rafting stretches in the world. Rangit, a tributary of the Teesta, has more turbulent waters and offers many challenges to more experienced rafters.


Gurgling mountain streams are almost constant companions on the journey through North Sikkim.






A view to die for

Next we travelled to Yumthang in the Bollero provided by our Hotel in Lachung.

A brief stop to see the natural Hot Springs.

Near the natural hot springs:which is believed to have high therapeutic values. Saline in taste, the water of the spring emits sulphurated hydrogen gas and its temperature is 106 degree. The water of the spring with such composition is believed to be beneficial for skin diseases. 

Yumthang also has the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary with antique species of orchids and rhododendrons, which we could not see because they bloom only in summer.



Amazingly beautiful Yumthang: at other times river Teesta would be rushing in full force behind me

A brief stop to see the hot springs here. So close to these mountain ranges.





Chocolate lovers would immediately be reminded of Toblerone when they see these mountains.

A lone forest rest house in the middle of no where


The two drivers : so young, and such expert drivers and very friendly too.



Near the Hot Springs : although it was a bright day with sun shining, yet it was very cold with the cold breeze literally freezing me




The icy source of Teesta, Sikkim's mightiest river...
from November to March, Yumthang is all white and a perfect site for trekking and skiing.


Pure Heaven




Yumesamdong: set on the brink of the Chinese border, this place is actually a land of perennial snow. It is well known for its hot springs, there are about 14 of them around Yumesamdong.

This is the Zero point, where the road ends, as this point is the end of India and beyond is Indo- China border.... it is really awesome. Nobody to bother you, it is just you and the snow covered mountains.



I felt like staying there for ever.

After this we came down to Gangtok



From its perch on a hilltop facing the city of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, the monastery complex at Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre embodies the vision and aspiration of the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, to establish his seat-in-exile to help spread the teachings of the Buddha throughout the world.

I did not like Gangtok very much, although the hotel where we stayed was very good, it was a 5 star hotel, their rooms too had very good view of the far away Kanchenjunga mountain. I felt we could have planned better and could have seen some other beautiful places in Sikkim, instead of Gangtok.

Our trip to Sikkim ended here. It was the most unforgettable trip and I would always cherish it.

I have started a new blog on cooking, please visit it if you can : tocookoutofthebox.blogspot.in