Category Archives: Travel

Trek to Sittilingi

Last month, we had organised a millet mission meeting in Sitlingi. I, Shankar, Ananthu and Arjun walked down from Poondikadu to Nammangadu. The plan was that Arjun would return with Ram of samanvaya in the vehicle.
We started by 8.30am after some breakfast at Shankar’s place. The going was easy and fun till the stream bed. The stream here passes through some huge boulders whitish in color. This is why the river here is called Vellai Kallaaru ( “white stone” stream).

The Profile of the trekking path

The Profile of the trekking path

After this point which is about 2 km from Poondikadu, it was getting hot. By the time we reached nammangadu arjun was already tired.
We had a nice useful meeting. when we started back it was already 4.30pm. Bad news was no vehicle to go back! Arjun also needs to walk back! by the time we reached the stream point, it was getting dark and climb steeper! A very difficult task for a nine year old! It was a total of 10km up and down. Hats off to Arjun!

Rishi Valley visit, Sep 2012

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Mikumi National Park, Tanzania

Whats out there?

It was midnight. Room number 1 of the guest house. The room looked like it had not been in use for a while. Lights not working properly, plug points not functioning, Old cot with even older mosquito net. Since I had travelled a long way, and having had a very heavy dinner, I had quickly slipped into deep slumber. I got woken up suddenly with some weird scratching sound just outside my door. Maybe I was dreaming. I waited and listened carefully. This was no dream. The scratching became more intensive. Some thing fell down. My mind started making up all sorts of things that could have caused this racket. . . finally am I coming face to face with a ghost? Or is it the naxalites creating this noise to get me to open the door so that they could abduct me? Or . . . I could not stand the suspense. Slowly I turned on my bed. It was an old bed and didn’t like to be rolled over! It added to the noise by making its own screetch! The scratching noise abruptly stopped as I got up with my torchlight. Saw something black jumping off the door and disappearing in a flash! A rat! Since it was a very small room, I searched for it every where and could not find it. Went back to sleep. After five minutes the tiny movement of the rat’s feet was heard and there it went again at the door! I jumped up and went straight to the light switch. Rat jumped off and disappeared again. . I was perplexed by this thing vanishing into this air. I carefully looked up all over. Where all a rat could hide? Narrowed down to the …..table! The table had a drawer and I had ( none would have) never opened it before. I did exactly that now and voila! Found the rat inside! Rat, being found out, ran off to a another hiding place. I removed the drawer – depriving its hiding place and kept it on the floor. I opened up the door and coaxed the rat to get out. As soon as it did, locked the door back and went back to my sleep.

Rishi Valley visit

We visited  Rishi Valley to see Arun. He is doing very well and have settled down to the school rhythm. We met all his teachers and heard mostly positive things about Arun.

A lot of Catching up happened between brothers.

Arun and Arjun on a swing!

Arun and Arjun swinging on

Mesmirised by Inglish

I was in Orissa a few days back. I had gone for the installation of one micro hydro system and a solar pv power plant. Cheenu, the local fabricator in Semiliguda is now the fabricator for both the systems.

One day we had planned to visit the micro hydro site at 8 am. Stanley, Sridhar, Eli and myself were ready and went to pick up Cheenu. He was not at home. We waited for about 10 minutes. Then he came and we started. I started a conversation:

Me: good morning Cheenu! Why are you late? you made all of us wait. . .
Cheenu: Sorry sir. I went for marketing.
Me: marketing? oh good. How much did you make?
Cheenu: No sir. went marketing. no income.
Me: well, what did you sell that did not give you income?
Cheenu: No selling sir. simply marketing. I went marketing, sir.
Me: ( confused). Went marketing but no sales? what did you market Cheenu?
Cheenu: Vegetables sir. I went marketing vegetables for family sir.
Me: that is pretty good Cheenu. what all do you grow? How much is the yield?
Cheenu: No sir. I dont grow any vegetable. That is why I went marketing.
Me: Ok cheenu. It is very mysterious for me. Please tell me what you did in your marketing.
Cheenu: I got vegetables from market for a week sir.
Me: You bought vegetables?
Cheenu: Yes sir. That is what. I went for marketing. . .

I finally understood that the act of going to market is “marketing”. Ok folks, I got to do some marketing myself! Bye!

Random picks from my travel notes

# I visited Kashipur, the hotbed for the mines in Orissa. I am helping Agragamee a grassroots NGO working for the tribal rights. Government and the mining companies have seen to that Agragamee can not fucntion smoothly – blokage of funds, denial of simple permissions, Disconnecting telephone lines, etc. Despite all these Achut Das and his team is continuing to fight for the tribal rights. I have been part of their effort to show alternative models of development – my role is to set up micro hydro power plants. Agragamee is implementing its second power plant in a nearby village.

# There are many small bridges in the remote parts of this area which are not completed. The contractor must have billed for them already but the villagers still wade through the streams.

# No vehicular transport is available to many of these villagers. They walk about 15 km every week to the town on the market day. The market then takes them all for a ride! The middlemen buy the vegetables and forest products at dirt cheap prices and ship them out to the cities at huge profits. And then with money in their pockets, they are attracted by the strategically placed booze booths where they spend whatever little money they got. Most of them return to villages empty handed.


# I couldnt see india shining anywhere in these villages. I dont see these villages getting electricity, roads, schools, hospitals in the near future. When I see the kids in these villages, an utter depression overcomes me. What will be their future? Their land will be taken up Poscos and Vedantas. Their forests will be wiped clean. Their water will all disappear. A few of them will get some daily wage jobs and still fewer of them will get watchmen jobs. A whole lot of them have to pack and move. . .

# I did have some lighter moments! I observed that here also people spit on their hands before using their pick-axes as our helper back home does!

# A shop in Rayagada has this notice displayed at their entrance. “ Please leave your original shoes outside.”

# The company which is building the new roads in the region for the mining companies aptly calls itself ARSS.

# One of the restaurants is named ‘FAST & FAST Food”. They promise to give the fastfood very fast!

# The best place to eat lunch in Rayagada is the temple. All Temples in Orissa, I was told, sell lunch and dinner. Spiritual sustainablilty in modern days!

I have some pictures too. When the net gets faster, I will post them. . .

From my travel notes

I took the train on 8th morning – the weekly train from Yesvantpur to Hatia. A weekly once train, without a pantry car. Rama had packed some nice food for all whole day.

I got a side lower berth. It was the best one could get. ( It would be bit short in a normal sleeping coach but in 3AC it was perfect for my length!) Lying down and watching the world go by is a great feeling. Nothing remains for more than a few seconds; everything is transient. You get a glimpse of all those saints and philosophers’ idea in this very simple, spend-no-effort-of-your-own way!

I was quite surprised to see a good number of agricultural fields right in the middle of Bangalore – behind the Hebbal station. A village in the middle of the mad city!

Reaching or leaving a city by train tells you a lot about that city.  The absence of civic sense is clearly visible on both sides of the track. Plastic bags, plates, broken things all along the track. . .I wonder whether these plastic bags are from the neighboring colonies or from the train itself. The latter seems to be the case when you move out of the cities. The trail of plastics follows all along the route. Miles and miles after the settlements.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I started to read a book by J.Krishnamurthi. Commentaries on Living. I was also listening to songs of Kabir on my MP3.  At many a point, the music matched the text. I was drawn very deeply in one article ” Can one know What is good for the People?“. Very relevant to all that I have been trying to do.

J.K says:

At the moment of action we are enthusiastic, impetuous, we are carried away by an idea, or by the personality and the fire of a leader.

Living and action are not separate; they are an inter-related, unitary process.

This chapter was a recording of a meeting he had with some eminent political leaders of that time. In his unbiased recording of the proceedings, he manages to clearly bring out the personalities of these leaders. All of them are, I deduct, Gandhians. That is why the reference to the leader. Find your own way is the essential idea of this chapter.

Feeling good and even enlightened! Now JK is my guru?? But isn’t this also “falling into the trap”?