Category Archives: Places

Chamundi, churchgoing, city lights

On Sunday, we drove down to Mysore. We ate lunch at The Metropole, which was a former guest house for the Wodeyar family’s special guests and is now a Royal Orchid property. Then, we drove up Chamundi Hill. Both of us have seen all the ‘sights’ before so we were just trying to hang out somewhere other than Koshy’s. It made for a nice change. We saw a surprised mongoose who gazed at us solemnly before scooting into the bushes. We also spent a great deal of time contemplating three extraordinary beehives at the church later. Pictures below.

The city is gearing up for Dassera and after 6.30 pm, the lights came on. Now, what I mean by that is not only the palace, which is illuminated every evening during the week up to Dassera, but almost every other public building, many shops, and most roads were glittering. It was quite overwhelming.

At the palace, there were hordes of enthusiastic people. There were also lots of red, heart-shaped balloons, which I could see bobbing over the silhouettes of a million heads or so. My pictures of the illuminated palace were taken from a moving car so they haven’t come out so well but there are plenty of images online.

Traffic management was impressive — they had these policemen and policewomen (in equal numbers) dressed nattily and wearing red feathers in their hats, and they had policemen on horses at major traffic junctions like Devraj Urs Market. It was the first time I had seen mounted policemen so I giggled and gasped, and fumed at unimportant things like moving traffic getting in the way of my camera. We also saw four elephants rehearsing their march for the parade on the final day. It’s sad that the fear of bombs have scared people off from the celebrations this year. Apparently, apart from foreigners and tourists, even locals are staying away.

Chamundi Hills, Mysore


Hotel Metropole, Mysore


St Philomena’s Church, Mysore.


City Lights

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In the Shade of the Mangrove

In coastal Andhra Pradesh, I visited a number of villages where the project is doing some work on environmental rehabilitation, specifically mangrove forest restoration. At Polatithippa, we took a boat into the creek to take a closer look at the forest. Our boat was small, wooden but motor-powered unlike some of the others that roam these waters where the strength of arms is all that makes them move. Continue reading

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Shreds and Patches: Machilipatnam and Kalamkari

Recently, I traveled on work to the villages around Machilipatnam in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. I usually enjoy driving through the countryside and this trip involved plenty of that (about three hours back and forth from my hotel in Vijaywada to the villages). Perhaps, the landscape failed to move me because I found the relentless paddy fields (muddy yellow in harvest rather than the fabled gold) dreary, or thought the thin clusters of palm trees rising up at intervals like many-handed gods had something grim about them. Perhaps, my visits to the villages and the relentless stories of poverty, AIDS, domestic violence left me tired. Perhaps, the grey miles of ruined aquaculture farms hardened me. Or maybe, I was just having a bad week. I don’t know what it is but somehow, this particular part of coastal Andhra left a memory of bleakness.

Yet, there were some pleasant moments — pristine white heron speckling the fields, interesting birds near the shrimp farms, cotton trees in bloom, brilliant sunsets and sudden rain. Much of this was witnessed en route and I couldn’t bear to stop Rambhav, the driver, to take pictures every time. Here are some I did manage. Continue reading

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On East Coast Road and melancholy seas

Last month, we took a drive down to East Coast Road. As a day trip. Yes, I am aware it sounds faintly ridiculous that we drove all the way from Bangalore to ECR and came back the same day but there were extenuating circumstances. It was one of those spur-of-the-moment urges to hit the road and keep driving. I had a longing for the sea. And there was nowhere we could leave our dog at such short notice. So we decided to pile into the car and drive towards Mahabalipuram and drive back when we were done with the drive and the road and the sea. Continue reading

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Resisting Coastal Invasions

Whose sea is it anyway? The question begs an answer. Increasingly, the coast is under threat from industries like sand mining, tourism and organized fisheries which erode the rich ecosystem and threaten the rights of traditional fishing communities. The only piece of legislation that stands between these forces and the sea is the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 1991 which regulates industrial and commercial activity on the coasts. Since its institution, the CRZ notification has been violated or diluted several times and in the wake of globalization, is being viewed as an obstacle to ‘development’. Continue reading

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Len Eye View: Chennai slums

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Close Encounters: Mallika

I felt inadequate and a little afraid, without quite knowing why.

Was it her toughness? Her anger? Her warmth? Was it the timbre of her voice? Or the whiplash of her patience? Was it the strength of eyes? The weight of tears? The lines on face or hands? Was it her otherness? Or sameness? The particularities of her life? Or the universalities of ‘their kind’? Was it the imagining of rejections so vast and so wide that no earth can swallow them? Continue reading

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