Friday, 5 September 2008

Holiday learnings

"Andy is out of office"
Content : I am on happy holidays this week - believe me, it beats school!
I got this automatically generated mail a few days back when I sent a mail to a user group in my office asking for help on a particular topic. Though I was busy with work then, it immediately reminded me that even I was due for a vacation soon. I just hoped it would come close to reminding me of my school days as I badly needed them.

I went on holidays with disturbing thoughts. After joining, It was the first time that I would be off from office for over a week. And the last day at work was an eventful one. Many of our team-mates and buddies were quitting - we had a small gathering to say good bye to them. These people were ones with whom we had the best of times in office, during team trips, etc. and it would be hard to getting used to work without them. Apart from that, a small issue involving money and one of my closest friend at work was bothering me. Though both of us were not wrong, the way the events turned out kept pricking me. And the sad part was there was nothing I could do except to try and forget it as soon as possible.
It was after a very long time that all five of my family members were traveling together. Also, the fact that it was a train journey made it even special. We would be going to the coastal town of Mangalore and from there on to my native at Karkala for the festival. I was really looking forward to a nice time with all of my relatives at the festival and enjoy the scenic beauty of these places.

To begin with, the train journey was real fun. Tosi appeared from nowhere as if using his sixth sense to drop us to the railway station in the evening. Our coach was a new one and not too crowded. My brother got his fourth semester engineering results while we were on the train and he seemed happy. We then had dinner together hearing the rumbling of the wagon wheels on the tracks. It was a nice family bonding time we had.

Ultra is real fun to travel with. From our childhood days, we have been traveling a lot together. We used to stay awake late in the night in bus to look at the dark country side illuminated by faint moonlight. The kilometer stones on the highway and the hairpin curves on the western ghats enthralled both us together. We used to memorize the names of places we visited and the distance from one place to another. Lying on his lap on the lower berth, with the train zooming towards Mysore, and watching the stars far up the sky from the window of the train refreshed many of those joyful memories of my travels with him and it was a fantastic experience.

The first half of the vacation was in Mangalore. Most part of it was spent in rest and relaxation in my aunt's place. Though we did venture out to visit other relatives, the best part of it was just lying on the bed sleeping and doing nothing whole day. It is really tough doing nothing whole day. But after working for long hours starting early morning, wading past the busy Bangalore traffic, attending meetings and parties at office, it was a welcome change - no managers around to supervise me, no calls to attend, no compulsion to get up early in the morning, no deadlines to meet, no mails to reply to - I really enjoyed it!

The town of Karkala lies in the foothills of the western ghats, making it one of the most scenic places of our state. It is one of the wettest places in the world with average annual rainfall of over 4000 mm. The natural beauty surrounding the town with beautiful green top hills and huge black rocks make it a tourist's paradise. It is a sacred town for the Jain pilgrims for its Gomateshwara statue and also to Hindu devotees for its numerous temples. My connection with this place dates back to the time of my birth as I was born here :)

The festival was celebrated with the regular pomp and gaiety - the whole joint family of around 30-40 people getting together annually for the festival, regardless of their work life or the place of residence, praying the remover of all obstacles for prosperity of the whole world, a great feast cooked in traditional style with everyone in the house participating in the preparation, and offering to the lord - all these make the festival extra special.

Apart from the festival at Karkala, we roamed around the town enjoying the scenery here. There were beautiful hills covered with clouds, the valleys full of coconut trees, rocks and greenery everywhere was a welcome change after the smoke filled concrete jungle over here.

Yesterday I was riding a bike on the country road enjoying the scenery around when this striking fact hit me - I saw the people pedaling past the road on their bicycles and zoomed past them on the bike. Most of their faces looked tired. Obviously they were tired of the difficult life in these places - no power for almost eighteen hours a day; no luxuries of life that we all take for granted - the refrigerators, the washing machines; no 2/3 BHK flats/houses for them to live in; no shelter from the heat or the rain; no transport facilities - their woes ere too much. Life for them depended on the agriculture or a related work which ultimately depended on the timely monsoons. They had no money to dine in expensive restaurants and go on long holidays. I felt sorry for them.

But with the advent of education and career opportunities, their lives are slowly changing. They now crave for those luxuries that we consider for granted. Atleast one of their children is working for either a software company/ settled in a foreign land, which leads to no shortage of money. They now want cars and bikes to roam around, large plots of land to construct big houses with high-end gadgets in it, cellular phones to keep them connected even in remote areas, inverters in the homes to guard against power cuts - it is real good news. But the real sad part of all this is it is coming at a cost - nature. The scenic beauty of the entire western ghats is in danger with forests being converted into residential plots, with illegal mining and looting of forest wealth, plastic bags thrown around everywhere, with ground water table receding to satisfy the growing demand for drinking water - it is again a sad development.

It is ultimately a vicious cycle of life. In cities/ western world, as we are becoming aware of the ill-effects of pollution, we are switching back to natural means - we want to pedal or walk to work instead of the polluting cars. We want paper bags instead of the plastic ones. We want more green spaces instead of concrete jungles. We want to reduce the use of mobiles by keeping them as far away from us as possible. There, in far away lands/ developing countries, they are abandoning cycles for motor bikes and cars, using more plastic than paper, and felling trees for building houses - the earlier we make the whole world aware of this threat, the better and nicer it is for our planet. Isn't it?

I am back today with a whole lot of memories of the trip and a whole lot of learning. The trip in itself has been really rejuvenating. And now, the disturbing thoughts have disappeared and I am ready to get back to work with more vigor. Experience has been the best teacher in my life. On this occasion of teachers' day, I want to dedicate this post to all those teachers in my life for making me what I am today. Keep visiting for more.

1. Tosi is one of my closest school friends along with Gunda, Oie, Vsb and Kulla.
2. More pictures will be uploaded to picassa soon.
3. Names have been changed to protect identities :)


Saravanan said...

Wow.. Good to hear that you had a nice time..

I am also desperate for a vacation.. Btw, You had been to native to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi is it??

Shashia said...

Yes Sir

I had been to native to celebrate the festival. We go there every year :)

Good that you want to take a vacation. Go somewhere and have a nice, relaxed time and come back

Anantha said...

Good to hear you had a great vacation, but need a clarification..

Why do you look so serious in pic? Was panchakajjaya/modaka not tasting good? ;)
were you unhappy with the photographer? ;)
your TL or PM called you up in the middle of the vacation? ;)

Shashia said...

@ ananth anna

ha ha - nice questions anna. If you want me to pick between three options, I would choose [2].

The actual reason was that this was taken on the day of the festival when the idol of Ganesh had not yet arrived. We had gone to the terrace when others were waiting for the idol to start pooja. So I was asking the photographer to shoot fast :)